Monday, August 31, 2009

Interviewed at Market My Words

Hey, guys! Guess what? Marketing extraordinaire and author Shelli Johannes-Wells interviewed me on marketing for illustrators. Her blog, Market My Words, features marketing tips for authors and Shelli is no doubt one of the most supportive forces for authors on the web. I'm not sure what I did to deserve her honorable presence, but here it is! (Thank you, Shelli!)



Sunday, August 30, 2009

News Week - 08/24/09

Blog News:

For the end of September guest blogging, I will ping all that have expressed interest on 09/07. You can still let me know if you'd like to blog. It doesn't have to be according to a theme at all, but if you'd like to work from a theme, how about this: Tell us about a book that influenced you and left a strong impact, whether in life or writing--it can be another person's book or your own (how your book made you grow, etc). I'm going to try to make little book icons for each guest-blogger's post.

Interviews are filled for this coming week, but there are plenty of slots open after that--so keep applying if you're interested! Here's a FAQ if you have questions.

August and September = the busiest time of the year for me due to the video game production cycle...(opposite of books!) As you can see, I'm a little belated posting this news update.


Book News:

A lot of plans still going on for CLAN and Book2. I'm going through a general cleanup of Book2, which I'll hopefully finish tonight. I'll let it sit for a while as I write more. I have so many ideas for it, but I'm not jumping to conclusions yet.


Book Buzz:

--I went over to Richelle Mead's signing. Her fourth book for Vampire Academy is out.

--Pssst, Catching Fire is out 09/01.

--Remember, Colleen Lindsay is closed to submission again on Sept 1st.

--Nathan Bransford posts about publishing time. (I agree with him. Coming from the fast-paced video game industry, the book industry's slug-crawl drives me nuts.)

--Editorial Ass writes an informative post about editors.

--First comics, now...first picture book on iPhone.

--Authors, the deadline to opt out of Google settlement is 9/4.



Friday, August 28, 2009

Author Interview - SARAH EVE KELLY

Today we have something different--a historical fiction writer! Sarah Eve Kelly is an author represented by Jenny Bent from The Bent Agency. (Jenny was previously with Trident.) Sarah is a second-year PHD candidate at the University of Cambridge, studying early modern history. Her Tudor-set historical novel THE FIDELITY TRIAL is about Anne Boleyn and is currently on submission. 

Sarah asked me if I could do a historical illustration...I said yes! The illustration here is a portrait of Isabel Ascham, a seventeen-year-old maid of honor. The story is told mostly from her point of view. This painting took no longer than the other drawings I've done for authors. To get the old portrait look, I layered a lot of shadows and soft feathery strokes--it's a fast process, unlike the olden days.

1) What is THE FIDELITY TRIAL about?

In January 1536, Anne Boleyn doesn't know that she has less than four months to live. Thomas Cromwell, one of her closest friends, doesn't know that he will be the one to kill her. And Anne's maid of honour, Isabel Ascham, doesn't know that she's in for the ride of her life.


The Fidelity Trial is a triptych tale of the events that led to the destruction of Queen Anne Boleyn throughout the winter and spring of 1536. Isabel, in awe of the Queen and in love with the Queen's brother, is unwittingly conscripted into acting as a force in the Queen's destruction. Thomas Cromwell, secretary to Anne's husband, Henry VIII, must choose between his love for Anne and his own ambition. When a miscarriage, an ill-judged sermon, and a failed treaty lead Anne and Thomas from friendship to public enmity, one of them must fall, and Anne must reap the rewards – and the punishments – of being one of the most quick-witted and politically active consorts in English history.

2) What inspired you to write about Anne Boleyn?

I think everyone who knows Anne Boleyn's story falls a little in love with her - that's definitely what happened to me. It's a story that never gets old - and that's why it's been told so many times! I think what's new about 
The Fidelity Trial is that it explores those last, crucial months of her life, and this story has it all: love, conspiracy, murder, redemption. It was a joy to be able to recreate her, and the people around her, in the way I see and understand them, and I think The Fidelity Trial will resonate with a lot of readers, even the ones who think they know everything there is to know about Anne. She's a constant surprise.

3) For a historical novel, you must have done a lot of research. How do you go about researching for your novel?

I always feel that historical novelists have a bit of a cheat, because we're recreating ruins -  there's always a template we can turn to if we get stuck. In that way I'm really very grateful for the research; it's a wonderful part of the process! I started the novel with what I knew - I'm a history geek, so that amounted to quite a bit. But the process of researching lasted throughout the first, second, and third drafts; it's not as though I do the research and then do the writing. I was constantly looking things up and learning - a remarkable byproduct of writing this (or any) kind of fiction.

4) What's your writing process like? Do you use an outline?

Thanks to 
The Fidelity Trial, I learned to use some kind of outline. This novel actually began in the middle, and I fleshed out the end and the beginning from there. I tended to write in spurts before I really learned the discipline of sitting down to it every day; this made things a lot harder on me than they had to be! I knew the history involved in The Fidelity Trial so well that it never occurred to me to do an outline - I just wrote it until it was done (and then wrote it again, and again...). I suppose I used The Fidelity Trial, in a way, to hone what my process actually is. The experience was worth its weight in gold for that.

5) How do you like working with Jenny Bent? 

Publishing is the most complicated world I've ever tried to immerse myself in - more complicated than graduate school! - and Jenny has been absolutely amazing. She knows everything there is to know; her track record is unbeatable; and she's taught me so much about the business and about the process. It was Jenny who helped me to make 
The Fidelity Trial the best it could be, a process which - understandably - not a lot of agents would make the time or the patience for. I've learned more about building a story under her guidance than I could have learned just about anywhere else. She's a real believer in nurturing the careers and the talents of her clients. We all need agents to sell our work, but having Jenny's input on my writing has been invaluable. She's met and exceeded my expectations in every way, and I couldn't ask for better.

Thank you, Sarah! I'm so excited to have had the honor to paint Isabel. 



Enjoyed this interview? If you're an author, editor, agent, or illustrator and would like a five question interview and a drawing of your character (or of yourself), email me at rtlovejoy (at) yahoo (dot) com. Check out the FAQ page for more info.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Author Interview - GRETCHEN MCNEIL

Today I am introducing you to an amazing author! Gretchen McNeil is not only an author, but she was an opera singer, a producer, and did some voice over work...and is a circus performer. I'm not done yet! She is represented by Ginger Clark! Her YA fantasy book THE WITCH'S EYE is currently on submission and I'll be damned if it doesn't sell immediately. Furthermore, Gretchen is really humorous and frank--reading her emails had me cracking up.

The illustration here is of the MC, Shay O'Muir. She is a sixteen-year-old tomboy raised in the Bronx by an Irish immigrant father. She's got an eye with a supernatural secret...You can see a hint of how it works in the illustration, but for more info--get the book when it comes out! Needless to say, I was excited to draw this.

1) What is THE WITCH'S EYE about?

THE WITCH'S EYE is about a one-eyed girl from the Bronx who ends up in her father's hometown in Ireland racing some not-so mythological creatures to an ancient scroll that could open the portal to the Otherworld and allow the banished races to wipe our planet clean of humanity.  Damn, it sounds heavy when I put it that way!

2) What inspired you to write the story and to set it in Ireland?

The story was born from a single image: a girl walking into a sleepy town on the Irish coast, at night, in the middle of a fierce storm.  I needed to figure out who she was, why she was there and what happened next.
I've always loved Ireland.  My family is strongly connected to our Irish relatives in County Clare and I've always been fascinated by the folklore, the mythological basis for THE WITCH'S EYE.  I also wanted to write about the places I know and love in Ireland, so I adored the opportunity to get several of them in the novel. 

3) What's it like working with Ginger Clark?

Ginger is amazing.  And I'm not just saying that because she agreed to represent me.  First off, I love that she says what she means.  If she likes something, she'll tell you.  If she doesn't, she'll tell you.  When she says "I'll read this in the next two weeks and get back to you," dammit all if she doesn't read it in the next two weeks and get back to me.  She responds to emails within a day, always obliges with a pep talk when I'm whinging around hoping someone will tell me I'm pretty and she has a great sense of humor (which you can probably figure out from her Twitter.)  I consider myself blessed to have her as my agent and I hope we have a long and successful partnership.

4) Can you tell us about the researching process you went through for THE WITCH'S EYE?

I'm a big friggin geek.  Let's just get that out of the way up front.  I love to research.  My book shelves at home are literally overflowing with books on things that interest me: Irish mythology, the history of the Irish highwayman in popular song, WWII POW camps, commercial fishing in Alaska, fallen angels, demonic possession and the Catholic church18th century sailing ships, spy tactics in the court of Elizabeth I.  See?  Geek.  For THE WITCH'S EYE I read The Book of Invasions and Lady Gregory's and Lady Wilde's collections of Irish myths and legends, Eddie Lenihan's transcriptions of the old seanchai verbal tradition, a bio of Biddy Early, archeological surveys of megalithic sites in Ireland. 
For me, I kind of need to throw all of this information into my brain - like one of those giant lotto ball tumblers - and scramble it up.  Eventually, something interesting will come out.  Hopefully.

5) What was it like transitioning from performing to writing? Did your background in performing influence your writing?

Oooo, interesting question.  For those of you wondering what the hell Realm is talking about, I'm a trained opera singer who now performs with a circus (Cirque Berzerk in Los Angeles) and I've done some voice over work as well (Mary on  G4's Code Monkeys).  I'd say that performing has been one of the most important factors in my writing.  I'd never written anything prior to 2007, but the seeds of storytelling were in place.  As a performer, opera or otherwise, your main concern is telling a story, conveying it to the audience in whatever your chosen medium.  Once I discovered I could translate that to the written word, I was off and running. 

Thank you so much, Gretchen. When you're famous, remember me, okay?   



Enjoyed this interview? If you're an author, editor, agent, or illustrator and would like a five question interview and a drawing of your character (or of yourself), email me at rtlovejoy (at) yahoo (dot) com. Check out the FAQ page for more info.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Interview FAQ

Here's a FAQ to help answer some basic questions regarding the illustrated interview series!

Current Interview Acceptance Status: OPEN

1) How does this interview thing work?

If you fit the requirements below, email me. It may take me a day to get back to you. Once you answer my questions and give me your character description, I will slot you into the next available interview spot and spend an hour or two on your drawing. I will then send it to you for review and approval.

2) Who can be interviewed?

-Authors: I am open to interviewing authors who are getting published this year, next year, or have been published this year. (For instance, it's the year 2013 right now, so I will be interviewing 2013 and early 2014 releases.) You will also need to have a website or blog I can link back to. (If your work is nonfiction but relevant to writing and story, I may consider it or suggest guest blogging.)

-Agent and editors: If you choose to do a five questions interview, I can draw a picture of you. For examples, check out the interviews I did with agent Suzie Townsend and Diana Fox.

-Illustrators/Comic Artists: Must have published artwork (or soon to be published artwork), whether it be books, film, or comics. Must have website or blog. I can also draw a picture of you or your character for the interview.

3) What do I need to do to get interviewed?

Just introduce yourself, tell me who your publisher is, and give me a link to your webpage so that I can easily learn about you. Other than that, have a willingness to chat about yourself and your character. 

--Clarify your writer name to me at the start. I usually assume the name on your email is the author name.

--Authors: you are responsible for double-checking with your publisher and agent if you are allowed to participate in this interview.

--If you decide you can't do the interview for whatever reason, notify me immediately before I start working on the art.

4) Can I use the illustration on my site or blog?

Yes. You can use it as an avatar. If you choose to display the art on your website and/or blog, please include credit and/or a link to my site. If you'd like avatar versions and don't know how to crop pictures (for perhaps your Twitter account), you can request me to make icon versions and I will happily do so.

5) Can I use the art for merchandise or put the art into my book?

No, I'm afraid you cannot use the art for profit or as an official part of your book. I have given permission to some authors to use the art on merchandise that they are giving away for free. You can always ask me if you have questions about the use. (Along the same lines, please don't refer to the art as fan art in your promotion.) If you'd like to use my art officially, you may hire me to freelance or talk to your publisher about contracting me for work.

6) Can I link to your interviews?

Of course! I highly encourage it.

If you have further questions, let me know. I'm sure this FAQ will keep getting updated and some things may change.

Looking forward to meeting you,


Author Interview - MARISSA BURT

Marissa Burt is joining us today! She is agented by Laura Langlie and her MG fantasy trilogy THE TALE OF UNA FAIRCHILD is currently on submission. 

This illustration is of Una Fairchild, a shy and imaginative thirteen-year-old girl. I wanted this drawing to fit the fantastical, storybook vibe I got from the description and used silver and gold tones.

1)  What is your book about?  

The Tale of Una Fairchild: The Beginning is the first book in a middle-grade fantasy trilogy.  

Meet Una Fairchild, a shy thirteen-year-old misfit who feels invisible most of the time. Add a mysterious old book and the unknown author who writes Una into it. Throw in a little enchantment and join Una as she stumbles into a bewitching world where characters-in-training enroll at Perrault College to learn skills like Heroics and Outdoor Experiential Questing in the hopes of being cast into a story of their own.

As if learning to juggle character classes and life with her snooty new roommate wasn’t enough, Una and her friends discover that the legendary rulers of the land are not myths, as the college administration claims. Instead, the ancient enemy of the land is about to be set free after centuries of bondage in the king’s guardian books. And he is looking for Una. Now, Una must find out who has written her in and why, all while dodging the enemy’s seekers and the power-hungry college administration. Una’s quest lands her smack dab in the middle of an ongoing battle between good and evil and unearths a secret about her own identity that will change her life forever.

2) What inspired you to write the story?

You know the feeling where you come to the end of a great book and are sad to say farewell to your character friends?  Well, I don't like those goodbyes.  Besides, I always imagine the characters carrying on without me, going about their business even when nosy readers aren't spying on them.  And I wondered what would happen if a girl from our world stumbled into theirs.  So I wrote that story.  

And one of the best things about writing is that every time I write part of the second or third books (
The Middle and The End, respectively), I get to spend time in Una's world.  Which means sitting in on character classes and eating treats like blackbird tarts and talking with friendly cats by crackling autumn fires and going on Important Quests and...well, you'll just have to read the book to find out more.

3) What is your favorite fantasy book and why?

Okay, so all of us who love to read know this is the question that stumps us.  I'll narrow it down.  In no particular order, here are my favorite fantasy books from when I was Una's age.

Lord of the Rings, by: J.R.R. Tolkien.  I read this for the first time in the 7th grade and wore an old key ring on a chain around my neck for weeks. I really didn't care that carrying the ring was a Bad Thing in the book; I just really wanted to be in the story!  But then the key ring gave me a rash, so, in the end, it was a very practical application.

Solo's Journey, by: Joy Smith Aiken.  This book made me a thief.  It was out of print when I first checked it out from the library, and there were only two copies in the whole county system.  So I kept the book.  Hey, I went back and paid the $20 fee!  Anyway, I think it might have been reprinted by now (or it should be - hint! hint!), so get your claws on a copy.

Tailchaser's Song, by: Tad Williams.  A classic.  This is one of the books that got me in trouble for reading during class.  But, you know?  It was so totally worth it.  

4) What's your advice to authors looking for an agent?

Once you've polished your manuscript and know that it's the best it can be, do your research.  There are so many excellent resources out there from agent websites to author blogs to the annual 
Guide to Literary Agents -- all of which can help you find an agent who might be a good match.  

It's tempting to e-mail every address you can find as fast as your 
little fingers can hit "send".  But move that cursor over and hit "save draft" instead.  At least until you find the right agent.  Not only will the right agent have the professional experience and connections needed to submit your book, but she'll take an active interest in your work and be enthusiastic about your project.  Out of all the things I love about my agent (and there are many - she's amazing), her optimism and encouragement top the list.  So try and be patient.  It'll be worth it.      

5) You have a feature on your blog called Rummaging Reads. Can you tell us about it and what your favorite book-inspired snack is?

Well, have you ever read a book and then wanted to go rummage through your cupboards for a snack? I have. Lots of times. So, once a week, or thereabouts, I try and post a munchie and the book it inspired.  

And, hands down, my favorite is cake.  Any kind of cake, really.  Whenever a character is eating cake, I feel an irresistible urge to get baking.  Perhaps this is because I have been on a lifelong search for the Gold-and-Silver cake described in 
Chapter 34 of Anne of Ingleside.  If you find the recipe, make sure to let me know.  

Thank you, Marissa! I too get cravings after reading about food in books and glad I'm not the only one. (I'm on a mission to create the perfect butter beer.) Well, if anyone knows my background with the game, Portal, you know I couldn't agree more about cake.

Cheers, and looking forward to seeing Una's debut!



Enjoyed this interview? If you're an author, editor, agent, or illustrator and would like a five question interview and a drawing of your character (or of yourself), email me at rtlovejoy (at) yahoo (dot) com. 

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Agent Interview - SUZIE TOWNSEND (FinePrint Lit)

Psst, big news, everyone. There's a new agent over at FinePrint Literary Management! Now...don't crowd her all at once! Her name is Suzie Townsend

I drew a picture of her. For Suzie, I thought her agent-character would be a smiling one. She is very approachable, book-loving, ambitious, and sweet. 

Suzie is looking to build her list. You will get to know more about her and what she's looking for. (Also, she answered an extra question--thank you, Suzie!)

1)  What made you decide to become an agent?

I’m a former English teacher and now an (almost) agent and the executive assistant to the CEO of FinePrint Literary Management. 

I’ve always loved to write and I devoted most of free time and my summers off to writing when I was in college and teaching.  I started a ton of projects but I never took any steps towards publication.  I did join several writing groups, though.  I found that I really liked revising and critiquing manuscripts, and that I was actually better at that than my own writing. When the CA budget crisis hit the district where I taught, I started to think about doing something other than teaching and I decided to try to go into publishing.  My initial plan was to try to get a job in the editorial department at a publishing house, hopefully in a science fiction, fantasy, or romance imprint.  But when I moved to NY, publishing houses were getting hit with a lot of layoffs and job opportunities were pretty sparse.  I took an internship (unpaid) with FinePrint and commuted from Philadelphia to Manhattan a few days a week, thinking it would be a good opportunity to learn about the agenting side of the business.

And I loved it.

I spent my days as an intern reading queries and reading manuscripts – that’s it.  I loved it so much that I started coming into the office every day and I stayed well beyond the hours I was supposed to be there.  I read multiple projects for every agent in the office and did a lot of editorial work on their manuscripts to help out, and I also started re-organizing the database software on our computers.  After a few months, they offered me a full time job as an assistant.

As an assistant I had a lot more administrative duties, but I started to learn more about what it means to be an agent – most of their time is actually not spent looking at queries.  There’s a lot of work with contracts and royalty statements and managing whatever crisis comes up.  I also started helping agents in the office go out on submission with projects and communicated with writers about their projects. Then I got a manuscript that I loved, and I passed it around the office to several other people to read – everyone approved of it but it’s a YA romance, not especially suited to anyone else’s tastes so they gave me the green light to offer representation.  So now I’m an almost-agent or junior agent I guess you could say, and I’m going out on submission with the project next week.


2) What are you currently looking for?

I’m interested character-driven YA and adult fiction - fantasy, science fiction, paranormal and romance. I gravitate towards strong female protagonists, complex plot lines with underlying political, moral, or philosophical issues, and stories which break out of the typical tropes of their genre, like Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series. Other favorites are Anne BishopPatricia BriggsSuzanne Collins,Jeaniene FrostKim HarrisonRichelle Mead, and Audrey Niffenegger. My pet peeves include diabolical monologues, romance without plot or character development, and damsel in distress protagonists.


3) What kind of query letter catches your interest?

With queries, I’m actually most interested in short and sweet.  I want to know as quickly and concisely as possible what the book is about.  I’m also a big fan of sarcasm so I like reading queries with sarcastic and witty tone – but of course that only works if it also reflects the tone of the book.

What’s actually most important to me is the first chapter of the work.  FinePrint requests that authors paste the first chapter or the first 5-10 pages of the manuscript in the bottom of the email.  I’ve read a few queries that weren’t all that strong, but then something about the first chapter – usually the description and/or the voice – has really grabbed me, and I’ve gone ahead and requested the manuscript.


4) What is your idea of a perfect client?

My perfect client is just someone who loves to read and write.  I like to review and edit material so I’m looking for a writer who’s receptive to revisions and who wants to build and develop a career as an author.  I’m an email junkie – I’m on email all the time, so I’m not opposed to writer’s shooting me an email to ask a question or just to say hi.  I want to be a communicative agent, and I don’t clients to be afraid to talk to me.


5) What do you love the most about your job?

There have been so many times in my life when I seriously thought I have a problem, an addiction that’s downright unhealthy at times, and it’s books.  I have blown paychecks on books, stayed up until four in the morning to finish a book and then had to wake up and go to work at five (I’ve done this too many times to count). I (a few times) read a book while in traffic (thankfully I’m not driving anymore).  I could go on and on and on, but people I’ve met in publishing are the only people I’ve ever met who are like me – and share this kind of passion about books!  I love being able to read everything I can get my hands on, discuss books with people I meet in publishing, and help an author’s vision turn into something real.

6) Can you tell us about your client?

My first client - her name is Jennifer Hoffine - doesn't have a website or blog yet, but her project is a YA Romance called Cheater Beaters.  Here's a quick description.

When it comes to faithless boyfriends, 16 year old Becca Freeman has been there and busted that. After finding out her latest cheater boyfriend has cheated on her for the second time, she’s determined to get even, for all the girls out there being scammed by cheaters. With the help of her best friend, Becca sets up Cheater Beaters, a P.I. agency to catch cheaters in the act and swears off boyfriends for at least a semester.


Of course, she didn’t count on falling for a bad-boy who straight up won’t commit to help her figure out who she can trust her heart with next.


Combining the detective work of I’d Tell You I Love You, But then I’d Have to Kill You, by Ally Carter with the relationship insights of John Tucker Must Die, CHEATERS BEATERS shows that solving the little mysteries in life can sometimes help you with the big ones.

Thank you for your time, Suzie! Looking forward to seeing your career unfold at the illustrious FinePrint Lit!



Enjoyed this interview? If you're an author, editor, agent, or illustrator and would like a five question interview and a drawing of your character (or of yourself), email me at rtlovejoy (at) yahoo (dot) com.