elizabethwrites.com : the internet home of
Elizabeth Scott

Guest Blog by Kate Brian/Kieran Scott!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

When I first checked out Elizabeth’s blog, I noticed that she has a handy little link on the side bar called “frequently asked questions” and I thought, “Huh. That is DEFINITELY something I should have.” Because people are always asking me the same question:

What’s the difference between writing a Kieran Scott book and a Kate Brian book?

It’s a tough question to answer. Because no matter what name the book is going to be published under, it’s still me, sitting here in my office, toiling away at the computer. It’s still my thoughts, my ideas, my words, my frustration, my glee. But when it comes down to it, there are some major differences.

First, there’s the practical. For the last few years I’ve been writing four “Kate Brian” books year—two Private and two Privilege. As you can imagine, they need to be written pretty quickly, so the first major difference is the deadlines. When I’m writing under Kate Brian, I’m normally writing a lot faster than when I write under Kieran Scott. It’s just a necessity. I always say it’s kind of like writing for television. You make it as good as you possibly can as fast as you possibly can and then move on to the next one. The good news is that, ever since college, I’ve noticed I work even better under pressure than I do when I have time to ruminate. (My spring semester sophomore year I had 15 credits, pledged a sorority, joined the choir, broke up with my boyfriend, and ended up with an A- average. Better than the semester before when I had no extra-curriculars and 12 credits. Go figure.) So maybe that’s why Private and Privilege are so popular—I’m good under deadlines!

Creatively there’s a bit of a difference, too. Lately, anyway. Private and Privilege are pretty dark books. There’s a lot of mystery, murder, backstabbing, kidnapping, blackmail, confusion. The books I write under my own name tend to be more light and happy. They still deal with real issues (popularity, friendship, dysfunctional family situations), but there’s not a lot of murder and mayhem. Or any, really. So when I sit down to write under the Kate Brian name, I have to ease myself into a whole other mindset. The mindset of a serial killer, or a girl who keeps getting stalked and having her friends murdered around her, yet still comes back for more. That’s not the easiest thing to wrap my brain around. But weirdly, it’s really fun.

In my new book (under Kieran Scott) She’s So Dead to Us, I was able to keep to my Kieran Scott lightness, but incorporate a little bit of the snarkiness I’ve honed working on the Kate Brian books. The book is about a town called Orchard Hill that has a seriously wealthy side and a much poorer side. Ally Ryan grew up on the wealthy side, but then, her freshman year, her dad loses all their money and some of her friends’ families’ money in a bad business deal. Her family has to move out of town, and the book picks up two years later when she and her mom move back to live on the poor side of town. The book is about how Ally fits in with her old friends (or doesn’t), and what it’s like to go from Have to Have-Not with no stops in between. Also, she falls in love with the incredibly hot guy, Jake Graydon, who is now living in her room in her old house. There’s a lot of will-they, won’t-they romance, a lot about the pressure our friends can put on us, and a lot of humor as well.

Whether you’re a Kieran Scott fan, a Kate Brian fan, or both, I hope you’ll check it out, because I think it’s go a lot of elements that will appeal to a lot of people --and I know Elizabeth Scott loved it. (from me: It's true! I read it, and then asked when the next book would come out. Okay, I begged. But how can you NOT? It's such a fun, fantastic book!)

Thanks for letting me guest blog, Elizabeth! (from me: Thank YOU, Kieran/Kate!!!)

And...to celebrate Kieran's guest blog, I'm running another contest, this time for a copy of She's So Dead To Us. To enter, all you have to do is have a US mailing address and leave a comment (and a way to get in touch with you!!) One winner will be chosen at random and notified the week of August 1st. (And don't forget to enter Kiernan's great contest, featuring LOADS of FREE books, which can be found here: http://kieran-scott.blogspot.com/2010/07/win-books-signed-by-seven-of-your.html)

Guest Blog by Melissa de la Cruz: What Does She Mean, The Book Has NO PLOT?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The wonderful Elizabeth Scott (edit from me: blushing here, Melissa!) said I could write about anything on her blog today, so I thought I'd talk about the most critical moment in my writing career, when everything was on the line.

Growing up, I've always been a facile writer. English was my favorite subject and I always got top marks in it. I won a seventh-grade essay writing contest, and several high school poetry contests. Ever since I can remember, I have been praised and patted as a 'writer' and had always seen myself as someone who was talented at writing.

I imagine a lot of you teen writers are the same way—very proud of your accomplishments and pretty much thinking you're the bomb. I know I was. I didn't have a lot of vanity other than the pride I took in my talent as a writer. (I didn't care for instance, about my bad hair, or perennial boyfriend-less status.) I had something special. I could write. Everyone said so. My teachers, my peers, the judges of several summer writing internships, merit scholarships, the list went on and on.

My youthful arrogance helped me ride out the very many stings of rejection I faced when I finally set out to fulfill this childhood dream and fantasy that I had come to believe was within my reach, and my due.

I knew it would be difficult, but the rejections were easy enough to brush off "Not quite for our list", "Acquiring editor too young and could not get house behind it", they all seemed to say, "It's Not You, it's Us." Darn right it is! I kept slogging.

I went through six agents and as many book proposals in five years until I finally landed my first book deal at the age of 27. (It seemed massively old to me by then but in retrospect was very young.)

The hard part was over—I was finally going to be published!

So imagine my surprise when after I'd turned in my manuscript, my editor demanded an urgent in-office, face-to-face meeting with me and my agent.

She ushered us into her cozy, book-lined office (is there anything more awesome than an editor's office? With all those book jackets and publishing paraphernalia?)

"The writing is wonderful," she began. "It's funny and stylish and has a real voice. HOWEVER." And at this juncture, she stared me down. "THE BOOK HAS NO PLOT."

WHAAAA???

I knew things were bad when we got called in to meet with her as if to the principal's office. But the "this book has no plot" threw me for a loop! What did she mean? NO PLOT?? What? What??

The bottom line was my publisher was giving me six months to rewrite the novel—they weren't going to cancel my contract (at least – NOT YET)—they were going to give me another shot---but I would have to turn in a book that had a STORY, not just a bunch of funny little vignettes and wisecracks and observations about the glittery life of New York, but a novel that had a beginning, a middle and an END.

My editor asked me for an outline, which we worked on together. She schooled me. She pushed me. She drove me insane.

But I also understood that this thing, this WRITER thing, this DREAM, wasn't just something that someone would hand me on a plate, that if I wanted to write novels, I would have to discover how to build its BASIC FOUNDATION. Which was Plot. A Story.

Thankfully, I was laid off from my day job right about when this happened—so I had a lot of time. Of course the pressure was on—not only to make my dreams come true, but also to find a way to make a living out of writing. But back then, I didn't even think of it that way.

All I knew was that I had been given a second chance, and I had to make the most of it. Who knew if anyone would ever buy another book from me again?

So I wrenched a plot out of that mess. I realized I only had a surface understanding of what "plot" meant, that in fact, my characters would have to grow and change, and be affected by their actions and what happened to them. It couldn't just be a fun romp through New York. There had to be something else. Something more.

I still don't know how I did it really. I think I learned from desperation than anything else.

They accepted that book, and I've gone on to write quite a few more. But I never forgot that first lesson, because it was the first time it hit me—that just because "everyone" said I was talented enough to become a writer didn't mean that I was.

For the first time, I was fearful that I might not have enough of this "talent" to do what I wanted to do.

It's funny because when I recently met with my new editor at my publishing house, the first thing she said to me was "I hear you're really great at plots."

And for that, I have to thank that stern, no-nonsense editor who told me to my face, what no one had ever told me before in my writing life. That I was good, but not GOOD ENOUGH. That I had to try harder and WORK harder and then MAYBE, just MAYBE, they would publish it.

No one owes you a career in this business.

So the basics of plot: Point A, Point B, Point C. Or in my books Act One, Act Two and Act Three. I outline. I plot and sub-plot. I arc it on a graph. I look at the pacing and re-read and re-shuffle. I read more books (mysteries are the best because they are ALL plot). I write copious notes. Some authors storyboard.

But that first innate understanding of what story was? It did not come naturally to me. Even as a lifelong reader, I still needed a bonk on the head to realize what was different about my book and the books that were sitting on shelves.

I wish you all stern, no-nonsense editors who are able to beat a story out of you. You'll be glad they did.

(Wow!!!! Are you all as impressed as I am by how awesome Melissa is? Talk about an amazing post--thank you SO much, Melissa, for stopping by!)

(And yes, there is a contest for this guest blog--if you have a US mailing address, please leave a comment (and a way for me to contact you) and I will pick one winner at random, and that person will get a copy of any one young adult novel written by Melissa de la Cruz. I will announce the winner the week of August 1st)

quick set of links and a secret

Monday, July 26, 2010

I've got some great links today:

Diana Peterfreund on how it really doesn't matter what audience you think your book is for--it matter what audience your agent--and the acquiring editor--thinks it will fit best

Genreality has a great post about writing conferences -- there's some great tips here!

Author Jennifer Hubbard has a great post up about why writers need thick skin --"Rejection and negative feedback are part of the process and they can even be helpful, and we need to handle them with professionalism and maturity. And if you get to the point where they don't bother you, that's wonderful. But if they do bother you, don't add to the pain by trying to force yourself not to care."

Ever been dying to write--but yet been afraid too? So has just about everyone else

John Scalzi has some very interesting thoughts on why there is less advice available for authors who are mid-career (he defines that as being in the business for five or more years--that means I have two more to go...eek!)

You must read this, if only for the title alone: I wrote a book because I didn't have enough to do

Agent Jessica Faust on silly bandz--and books

And one last thing--this week will have guest blogs by not one, but two best-selling authors...plus free books!!

it's a link fest!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quick update: Congrats to ellesera, who won the vacation book suggestion contest!

Also, I haven't forgotten the video blog about writing and etc.--I have a ton of questions from you, and as soon as I get a good chunk of time to answer them, I will. Because, well--you are YOU, after all!!!

I've also got a load of links to share...:

From agent Jessica Faust, a spot-on post about what you shouldn't do when you write a query letter, as well as the things that make agents think NO!!! when they read your query

Dystel and Goodrich have, of course, been busy--there are posts asking what drives YOU to buy books, as well as a very insightful post about weighing a publisher's offer

Over at Muderati, there's a fascinating post about technical rules of writing, and how they have changed--I confess, I hadn't ever heard of the two spaces after a period rule before, but then, I didn't learn to type until I was--well, it certainly wasn't in college! (I was convinced computers were utterly useless until the mid 1990s. Which just goes to show how silly I truly am!! Not to mention my pre-writing typing speed...)

Author Jay Lake has, as always, something that's worth noting--and that's this--why are there so few blog posts written for authors who are "mid-career?" -- As a mid-list author, I'd love to see more posts about being one, but if there is one thing I've learned about publishing it's this--once you are published, you tend not to talk about it until you have an good amount of "career time" under your belt.

Case in point? Susan Beth Pfeffer's wonderful post about rejection--and writing for over 40 years!!--to have a career that spends a decade in publishing is a miracle. To have one for forty years is quite extraordinary. Please read what she has to say.-- "I believe every single moment of a writer’s life affects their work in ways that cannot be calculated."

Over at Generality, two posts worth noting, one on keeping current in YA (and the singular importance of remembering what it was like to be a teenager!) and an utterly eye-opening entry about entertaining the idea of quitting writing

Pimp My Novel on two important aspects of being an author: taxes and the idea that writing will make you rich

Agent Jennifer Laughran on writing and publishing myths

Agent Kristin Nelson on why your query is so important

Are there times when, as an author, you don't want your name on your book? Sadly, and to my surprise, yes--I don't think this is the case for 99.99% of published novels, but there is always that last tiny percent, and I thank--and am grateful to--Steven for his honesty in this blog entry.

24 hr contest--help me find a book (okay, books) to read--and win three for yourself!

Monday, July 19, 2010

I'm looking for some books to take with me on vacation (yes, I'm finally taking a real one! For longer than two days!) and I need YOUR help!

What books--because let's face it, I'm not going to take one (right now, my current limit is ten, but well...my husband laughed when I told him that. He said if we left without one suitcase full of books he'd be shocked. He's probably (okay, totally) right!)

Anyway--what books would YOU take on vacation? I'll read just about anything except I'm not a big fan of 19th century novels (though I'll watch the adaptations--North and South, anyone???)

Let me know what books you'd take on vacation now by midnight EST *tomorrow*, Tuesday, July 20th (and please, PLEASE, make sure you leave a way for me to contact you!) and the person with the book suggestions I like best will win the following:

A copy of Simone Elkeles' Rules of Attraction
A copy of Kieran Scott's She's So Dead To Us
A copy of Sara Shepard's Wanted: A Pretty Little Liars novel

This contest is only open to those with US mailing addresses, and remember, you must leave your book suggestions (and a way to get in touch with you!) by midnight EST tomorrow, July 21st.

(P.S. Congrats to last week's contest winner, Becky!)
(P.P.S. If you're interested in seeing what books I've read and loved, you can check out my goodreads page)

me, put off cleaning? never! okay, change never to always and it's right.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I'm getting ready to clean the house before guests arrive (I figure being greeted by dust bunnies the size of small clouds probably isn't the best way to say "Welcome!"),but before I do that, I want to say *Congrats!* to Sarah, who won last week's contest.

Also don't forget, YOU still have today and tomorrow to enter the latest contest, which is for a copy of Ally Carter's latest best-selling novel, Only The Good Spy Young, AND an ARC of The Replacement, which was blurbed by another best-selling author, Maggie Stiefvater!!

I also have a few links to share:

Fabulous post over at Writer Unboxed about juggling writing--and the rest of your life

Interesting blog at Murderati asking about ways to recover after intensive writing--and a discussion on which book is the hardest to write. I agree with the author that for most people, it's their second. So far, the hardest novel I've ever written wasn't my second--it was my fifth--which I thought I actually couldn't finish and only did because some very dear friends would *not* let me give up. (And no, the novel in question wasn't Living Dead Girl. Care to guess which one it was????)

Agent Kristin Nelson has a spot-on entry about the continuing problems with Bookscan's accuracy

Agent Rachelle Gardner on how agents--and publishers--make their choices--"You pays your money and you takes your chances. After all, nobody knows anything."

Finally, aren't these Snickers Caramel Cheesecake Cookies (!) not only stomach-howl-worthy sounding, but also super adorable?

so, what about you?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I'm still waiting for last week's contest winner to get in touch with me, but if they don't by midnight tonight, I'll go back and pick another winner.

And that leads me to this week's contest. I was trying to decide what I wanted people to comment on, and couldn't think of anything I was "oooh!" over--and then I saw Simon Pulse had posted this little video I did for them when I was shooting promo stuff for The Unwritten Rule:



(For feeds that strip out embedded links, you can see the video here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PC5a3qrBBWA&feature=channel)

So, now that you know what mine is--what's yours? Let me know in the comments here on the blog by midnight EST this Friday, July 16th and I'll pick my favorite comment and that person will win an ARC of The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff and a copy of Ally Carter's newest best-selling novel, Only The Good Spy Young!

I also have a few links to share:

This is the first blog post I've ever seen on industry gossip and how it can sometimes be helpful --"The funny thing is that the need to gossip is one of the basic drives of humanity precisely because gossip is both the most inaccurate AND most accurate of information sources. Only a fool totally trusts gossip. Only a fool totally ignores it."

This blog entry of Betsy Lerner's is worth checking out for reason number 6 alone: "I don’t need one more person asking me about Kindles and IPads and what they mean to publishing. What they mean is that some people are going to read on screens, but most people still won’t read at all." (Sad, but the truest answer I've ever seen to this question)

Interesting post about revisions

Over at Writer Unboxed, the ever popular topic of quitting the day job

Tess Gerritsen on why, sometimes, your book just doesn't get reviewed. She's talking about newspapers, but her insights apply equally to the "industry" journals (PW, SLJ, etc) as well

Finally, something that reminds me of how AWESOME you all are--check out this book trailer for Living Dead Girl that a group of friends made for their English class. Getting an email about this was--well, like I wrote in my reply: WOW!!!

so, me and July...

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

First, congrats to yesterday's free book winner, Gabrielle, and now...what I love most about July?

There were a lot of great guesses--did you know that July is National Horseradish Month? (Me either) but here's what makes my July awesome:

The Tour de France
!!!

I don't talk about it nearly as much as I used to on here, but long-time readers will know there was a time when my July entries were pretty much all about the Tour. (For instance, back in 2006, all I would have talked about was yesterday and that scary and amazing cobblestone stage--talk about brutal! And now the leader boards are all changed and...anyway.)

See? I could go on and on but I'll spare you and share these links:

Agent Jessica Faust on the Law and Order finale and how it relates to what happens when a series ends because a publisher cancels it -- "I can’t begin to tell you how many authors discover, in the middle of their series, that a contract won’t be renewed, and they fret that they didn’t have time to wrap up the series the way they would have liked." (Be sure to check out the comments as well)

Over at Writer Unboxed, The Art of Balance, a well done look at what to expect from a writing career in terms of what you'll need to do, what you'll be expected to do--and learning how to decide what you *can* do.

Betsy Lerner wonders why you write

Finally, agent Rachelle Gardener has some ideas on how you can become a better writer--that don't involve writing. I would change number 11 to READ. But that's just me.

So, there you--wait.

Am I forgetting something?

Silly! You know I don't forget contests!

This week, I'm giving away an ARC of Ally Condie's Matched *and* an ARC of the anthology Zombies vs. Unicorns--two of the most talked about titles around!

For your chance to win, tell me what your current favorite song(s) of this summer (no songs from twenty years ago--I'm looking to find some new music!) and leave a way for me to contact you by midnight EST this Friday, July 9th. You must also have a US mailing address. I'll pick the winner at random--or by which songs I end up liking the most--I haven't decided yet--and that person will get both ARCS!

Can't wait to hear what you think I should be listening to!

busy, busy!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

I love holidays, but is it just me, or does work seem to somehow double if you take a day off? Crazy!

However, all if not lost--if there is one thing I love about this last holiday in particular it's---well, you know what?

Do YOU know what my favorite thing about July 4th--and actually, most of July--is?? The first person to email me at elizabeth AT elizabethwrites dot com with the correct answer gets a free hardcover YA novel! (You must have a US mailing address, but otherwise, that's it!)

And speaking of free books, congrats to last week's contest winners, Erika Lynn, Haley, Hannah S, Christa, and Eve! (And a huge thank you to Simon & Schuster for such wonderful gift bags!)(Also, yes, there will be one more contest this week :-) )

Before I get back to it, I've got heaps of links to share:

Agent, author, and former editor Betsy Lerner on the question some writers (including this one) dread: "So, what are you working on now?" (I can't even talk about what I'm working on until it's done. Except to one person and even then I don't really talk about it. I just send her chunks of it to read to see what she thinks is wrong with it. She's a VERY awesome friend!)

Betsy Lerner also has a really interesting post up about the kinds of characters she likes--"I want too much or not enough. I want to root for every abject thing, for “the mole on the belly of an exquisite whore,” for the most glorious monster and the lowest angel. Unsympathetic, undeserving, unapologetic, unrootable. These are my people."

Agent Kirstin Nelson has a few things to say about dead protagonists, as well as something an agent really needs to have before they sign you--enthusiasm for your work

And! Kristin also returns to "the curse of the sophomore novel" or A Story The Editor Will Never Know

Agent Rachelle Gardner points out that hot trends in publishing are hot for a reason--they sell books.

Dystel & Goderich Literary Management on how positive should advice-givers to aspiring authors be?

They also have a post up about what can happen when a client's project doesn't sell and on unlikeable protagonists

Over at Writer Unboxed, there's a great summary of their blog entries on writing advice and a thoughtful post about taking time off--and when to take it.

Agent Janet Reid points out that, in publishing, it's never just one e-mail

Over at Pimp My Novel, a guest post on first novels, which features something I never knew about one of my favorite authors, Amy Bloom--she bought back her first novel because she didn't think it was good enough to be published. (!!)

Maggie Stiefvater with one of the best titled (and very helpful as well!) blog entries I've seen in ages -- Death by Ham: Playing the Odds of Getting Published

Agent Jessica Faust posts a note from a writer who wants to know what to do when you've lost the joy

An outstanding look at just how hard agents and editors work over at Poets & Writers--if you read one link today, make it this one. It really shows you how hard the publishing industry is--for everyone. Check out Necessary Agent

Finally, two links on publicity/self-promotion, Editorial Ass --"Successful book sales are a combination of two factors (and this is literally all it comes down to):

1) Accessibility of book
2) Word of mouth"
and then agent Jennifer Laughran with five tips (out of all of them, I can't even tell you how many times I've seen first-time authors *not* start tip number 1 right after their first book sells, which, IMO, is the MOST important thing you can do. As Jennifer says, "1) WRITE YOUR NEXT BOOK. Seriously. I know it doesn't SEEM like obvious marketing advice, but this is truly the most important thing you can do for yourself."

mmmm...

Thursday, July 01, 2010

After you're done telling me about your favorite moment from this summer (which makes you eligible to be one of the FIVE winners of SIX books each!), check out these recipes I'm currently obsessed with...

Popcorn ice cream with salted butter caramel sauce
--why hasn't anyone thought of this until now???

S'more whoopie pies
--again, why hasn't this one ever been made before? Because um, YUM!

And if that's not enough, well then, how about a lovely salted dulce de leche cheesecake bar?

Yeah, I'm drooling too.