Prizes for preordering! Ways to get signed/personalized copies! Giveaways! And more!
A TOUCH OF GOLD, a young adult fantasy novel about the cursed daughter of King Midas who faces pirates, betrayers, and thieves on her quest to retrieve her father’s stolen gold, releases in just over a month! Have you preordered your copy yet?
Preorder at any of these sites or at your favorite independent bookstore!
Preordering helps my publisher know that you’re excited about the book and helps convince them to buy more books from me. Also, preorders all get counted during the book’s first week on sale, meaning authors have a better chance of making things like The New York Times bestseller list if they get a lot of presales.
The two single most important things you can do to help an author are to preorder the book and to spread the word on Facebook and social media sites.
Want to preorder a SIGNED copy of A Touch of Gold?
Are you interested in getting a signed/personalized copy of A Touch of Gold but can’t make it to my launch party? I’ve partnered with Kids Ink bookstore so you can get signed copies of my book. All you have to do is call them at 317-255-2598 to place your order, and they’ll ship it to you!
Prizes for preordering A Touch of Gold
In the coming days, I’m going to be publicizing my preorder incentive—that means anyone who preorders will get some really cool prizes when they send in their proof of purchase. Make sure you’re following me on the below social media sites to find out how to claim these amazing prizes! These prizes will only be for people who preorder, so don’t wait!
If you want to come to book event of the year (in my opinion), then come to Barnes & Noble River Crossing on August 17th at 7pm for my book launch party. There will be prizes, fun activities, and a book themed cake that you won’t want to miss!
Welcome to the 2018 Fairy-tale Blog Hop. Thirteen fabulous fairy-tale authors have gotten together to talk about their favorite fairy tales. Follow the links at the bottom of each blog post to hop to the next author’s website. Collect our favorite numbers to total up at the end and enter to win a print collection of our books! (There are several anthologies, debuts, and even an ARC for a BLINK YA book you can’t buy in stores yet!)
Hi! I’m Annie Sullivan, author of A TOUCH OF GOLD—a young adult retelling about the cursed daughter of King Midas—and as the author of fairytale retellings, it’s so hard to pick a favorite. But there’s one I come back to time and time again—and it’s just about the only one I’ve never thought of writing a retelling of because it’s practically untouchable in my mind. That fairytale is Beauty and the Beast.
While I know some people have some issues with Beauty and the Beast (hello, Stockholm Syndrome), I’ve always loved the character of Belle and the idea behind loving the person inside.
I related to Belle because she was a reader first and foremost. Growing up, I devoured books, and I just felt like Belle and I could’ve talked for hours about what we were reading—not to mention that I’ve always wanted to know what book she was reading where we meet Prince Charming but don’t discover that it’s him ‘til chapter three. (And, yes, I’m now singing that song in my head…but no, the number three is NOT my favorite.)
I also love that Belle is strong, independent, okay with being different, loves her family (even enough to basically sacrifice herself for them), and holds true to her inner convictions. Belle is able to see what others are not. She wanted adventure in the great wide somewhere, and she found it.
She brought us along on that adventure to an enchanted castle in the woods, a beautiful library (swoon!), and a host of characters who I’d be happy to be friends with.
Belle is the strong, adventurous, and loving princess that I would strive to be if, you know, I actually became a princess…which I’ve been dreaming of happening for like 16 years straight. (Yes, that’s my favorite number!)
The contest runs from Friday, June 22 to Friday, June 29.
But while you’re here, discover why you’ll want to follow the daughter of King Midas when her story, A TOUCH OF GOLD, hits shelves on August 14th!
King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.
Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed.
Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?
From author Annie Sullivan comes A Touch of Gold, the untold story of the daughter King Midas turned to gold, perfect for fans of Cinder and The Wrath and the Dawn.
(Note from Annie: Today we have a guest post from Katie Nichols all about how you can use magic in your stories and a chance to win a SIGNED copy of The Cruel Prince. These are brought to you by the wonderful people behind the Chapter One Young Writers Conference (for writers ages 11-20) and the new Chapter Twenty-One Conference (for writers ages 21-29). Learn more about both here: www.chapteroneconference.org and www.chapter21conference.org.)
Hello, magical people!
Today, I want to talk about magic, specifically magical conflicts.
I love fantasy stories, especially ones with captivating magic systems. And I love it when magic causes problems for characters. While good stories are full of conflict and problems for the characters to overcome, there’s something extra awesome about magic being the source of problems.
So how do you create magical conflict? How do you make magic not only awesome, but also a source of problems?
Look at it from a bunch of different angles and ask questions. Here are a few suggestions of questions to ask yourself, with lots of examples.
1.Where does the magic come from?
In Tangled, Rapunzel’s magic comes from her hair (and before that, it came from a magic flower). Her magic heals and gives youth. An old witch wanted to be forever youthful, so she kidnapped baby Rapunzel. So really, all of the problems in Rapunzel’s life—being kidnapped then living in a tower—came because of her magic and its origins in that magic flower.
Let’s look at The Lord of the Rings. If you know anything about this story, you know that it’s basically a journey to destroy a magic ring that houses the Dark Lord’s soul before said Dark Lord can get it back. So what problems arise from this magic? Well, it’s evil magic, so there are a lot of problems just from that (more on this later in the post). But it is also very powerful and everyone either wants the Ring or wants to destroy it. One does not simply walk into Mordor to destroy it.
Aladdin doesn’t actually have magic, but his friend the Genie does. The origin of magic here causes problems because the Genie is limited by his magic. He can’t bring people back to life, he can’t kill anyone, and he can’t make anyone fall in love with anyone else. And like the other two examples, many people want this magic and not for the most pure of reasons.
2. How does the magic affect the character mentally/emotionally?
Another example from The Lord of the Rings, when Frodo is taking the Ring to Mordor, we see him slowly being (for lack of a better word) possessed by the Ring. He doesn’t want to lose it, he is losing sleep over it, he is sorely tempted to wear it, and all this gets drastically worse as the story progresses. Gollum is the picture of what happens when someone is completely consumed by the Ring and insanity is also a common effect of magic in stories.
Elsa from Frozen is someone whose magic has affected her emotions. In the movie, Elsa’s magic conflicts are caused by how others see her magic as well as how she sees it. In the beginning of the movie, she loves her magic as she and her sister play with it. But when her sister gets hurt by Elsa’s magic, she’s scared of hurting people, and she begins to fear her magic, to the point that she is isolated from the rest of society. How society and the character themselves feel about their own magic is a good thing to consider.
3. How does the magic affect the character physically?
It’s common in magic systems (especially in RPG stories) for the character to become weak or lose some of their ability to do magic as they do it, like they have a limited supply of magic. To do more than they are capable of could be dangerous. A good example of this is The Glamourist Histories series by Mary Robinette Kowal. The glamour magic takes their energy and doing too much can be fatal. (If you are a Jane Austen and fantasy fan, I suggest looking into these books.)
There are other ways to physically effect a character with their magic. In Tangled, Rapunzel can’t cut her hair, or it loses it’s power, turns brown, and doesn’t grow back. In one of the stories I’ve been working on, one of my characters can turn into a dragon. Some ways this could physically effect him is that maybe he smells like smoke or has dry skin or a tint of green even while he’s human.
These aren’t all the questions that you can ask yourself for making magic cause problems, but I hope they help. For more questions you can ask yourself, I recommend looking at Brandon Sanderson’s Laws of Magic. (https://brandonsanderson.com/sandersons-third-law-of-magic/) He writes fantasy (I love the Mistborn series, personally) with amazing magic systems.
Now go create some magical problems! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.
I’m so thrilled to announce that I have a book deal with Blink (HarperCollins). My book, A TOUCH OF GOLD, is set to publish in Summer 2018.
So what do you do when all your dreams come true? Well, if you were me and got asked that question by your sister, you’d answer with, “Go take a nap.” So maybe that’s not the most exciting reply, but it might be the most honest one because it turns out making your dreams come true takes a whole lot of work.
Most people out there seem to think that you simply write a book and then **poof** you get a book deal. But there’s so much more too it than that. It takes an army of people.
Not only do you need teachers and instructors and mentors and peers to teach you how to write and help you become better, but you need an understanding family who lets you have time to write. You need critique partners and Twitter followers. You need agents and editors. The list goes on and on.
Not to mention this process can take years. I started writing A TOUCH OF GOLD way back in 2012. That’s right. 5 years. Did it take me 5 years to write? No. But it took that long for me to write it, revise it multiple times, let it sit a while, revise it again, have friends and critique partners read it, revise it again, get an agent, revise it after my agent read it, go out on submission, and finally get a deal. Not to mention I wrote several other books in the midst of all that going on.
But it was all worth it to write this blog post because this is the blog post I’ve been dreaming of writing for years, the one that proves all that hard work was worth it. The one that proves that not only do dreams come true, but so do fairytales. And mine is just starting!
Look for A TOUCH OF GOLD coming Summer 2018.
***To stay up-to-date on what’s happening with my book, be sure to subscribe to my blog and follow my author Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAnnieSullivan/
Sidekick characters can breath life into a story and set your protagonist up for success. But in order to do that, you have to make sure you’re using your sidekick characters to their fullest potential.
However, if you include a sidekick, make sure your sidekick has a clear stake in the outcome of whatever problem your protagonist faces. Next, make sure they have a clear reason to trust and follow your protagonist. Also make sure they have their own backstory, even if not all of it is mentioned. Finally, make sure your sidekick has some effect on the outcome of the story. Whether they’re the ones who figure out one of the mysterious riddles or the ones who save the protagonist at a difficult moment, they need to have a role in the outcome in order to justify their presence.
So, once you know your sidekick is necessary, here are a few ways to make sure you’re using them to the fullest.
Use sidekicks as ways to get information across that the protagonist knows but the reader doesn’t. Maybe there’s a tricky piece of backstory you want to include or some piece of information that the reader will need to know later on. Sidekicks make the perfect sounding block.
2.) Comic Relief
While I’m sure we all wish our main characters were witty all the time, sometimes that role needs to fall to the sidekick. Give them opinions and help them lighten things up.
3.) Hope for the Hopeless
Sidekicks are there in the tough times. They can be the ones to give the protagonist the information or encouragement they need to go on when everything seems ruined.
4.) Access to Information Protagonists Don’t Have
Maybe your protagonist works somewhere where they’ll overhear a key piece of information the protagonist will need. Or maybe they’re off researching someone’s criminal history while the protagonist is off getting into trouble. Whatever it is, sidekicks can be a means of gaining access to information that the protagonist wouldn’t have been able to obtain on their own.
5.) The Company You Keep
Remember that who your protagonist chooses to spend time with says a lot about them as a person. Consider that when you’re creating your sidekick. They also need to balance each other well and have different strengths and weaknesses.
If you’re looking for inspiration on how to write a good protagonist, look at the influences in your own lives. Who has picked you up when you were down? Who’s joked with you when things were tough? What characteristics do those people have in common? Take them and meld them into one solid character who nicely compliments the characteristics your protagonist holds dear. You can also watch movies/read books with some of your favorite protagonists. Model your character after them.
Do you have a favorite protagonist? Let me know in the comments!
Are you a young writer? Know a young writer? Tell them about the amazing Ch1Con (https://chapteroneconference.com/) happening August 5th in Chicago. It’s a conference put on by young writers for young writers ages roughly 11-23. The conference brings in top writers, agents, and speakers to get attendees started early on the pathway to success, all while also providing opportunities to find critique partners and learn the ropes of the publishing industry.
To learn more, check out an interview below with Julia Byers, Founder and Director of the Ch1Con, and afterwards, enter to win a copy of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas!
How did you come with the idea for Ch1Con?
We started Ch1Con my senior year of high school. The inspiration for it was twofold: when I was sixteen, I started attending the big, New York City writer’s conferences. While they were awesome and I learned A TON, I also felt rather alone at them because most of the attendees were adults (and the conferences were definitely geared towards adults). At the same time, some of my best friends in the world were teen writers I knew only online, and we were desperate to meet one another in person. So, I figured, why not kill two birds with one stone: by starting our own conference for young writers, teens like us would be able to learn about writing in an environment that was less daunting—and, you know, I’d get to spend a weekend hanging out with my amazing writer friends.
Why do you think it’s so important for young writers to have their own conference to attend?
As a young writer, it’s really easy to feel alone. Writing is awesome, of course, but it’s also naturally an isolating activity. And, as I mentioned in my previous answer, the huge writer’s conferences catered to adults are great opportunities—except they’re not really designed for kids (especially if you’re shy and awkward, like me), which makes them isolating as well.
And community is so important. Writing is a hard business, so it helps an incredible amount to have a support network in place, to have critique partners to help you fix your plot holes and friends to threaten to TP literary agents’ houses when they reject your magnum opus. [ Editor’s note: Please don’t TP agent’s houses 😉 ]
With Ch1Con, we strive to foster that type of community. Watching teen writers find critique partners and geek out about books together has been the absolute highlight of directing the conference.
What’s your favorite thing about the Ch1Con?
Sorry to use the word “community” a billion times, but I love how much of a community Ch1Con has become. I love how we’re small enough to feel intimate but big enough that we can bring in speakers like our keynote this year, Kody Keplinger (and, of course, the lovely Annie!). So much of what we’re doing now with the conference has developed from the attendees, speakers, and volunteers all just wanting to hang out together more, like our Friday night pizza party or everyone eating lunch together on Saturday during the conference.
Ch1Con might be a lot of work to put on, but it doesn’t feel like work; it feels like I’m spending the weekend hanging out with friends, gushing about OTPs and WIPs. I look forward to it all year.
How long have you been writing? Have you always found it easy?
I’ve been writing for longer than I can remember. My mom likes to talk about how, back before I knew how to read or write, I’d follow her around with a pencil and paper and make her write down my stories for me. (You might say I was a BIT of a handful growing up.) Honestly, though, writing has never really been “easy,” per say. I’ve always struggled with it. It’s just too much of a part of me to ever give up.
What advice would you give to young writers?
Keep going. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s also so important. This is a tough industry, but the really wonderful thing about it is that if you keep working hard and putting yourself out there, you will eventually reach your writing goals. It might not happen on the timeline you want it to, but it will someday. Don’t give up.
What’s your best writing tip?
Every story is a mystery. Whether you’re writing a contemporary romance, or high fantasy, or space opera (or, you know, a literal whodunit mystery), don’t forget to include plenty of clues and twists for the reader. It’s the reader trying to figure out what happens next that keeps them invested in the story. (And, you know, that’s something you want.)
What YA books are you most looking forward to in the near future?
Well, not in the near future, but I would be negligent not to mention The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (which we’re giving away as part of this post!). I’m currently reading it and there are no words to encompass quite how fantastic this book is.
Another book that just came out (but I’m so excited to read) is The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli.
Stuff that isn’t out yet that I’m looking forward to: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera and No Good Deed by Goldy Moldavsky. (I’m kind of cheating with that last one, because I’ve already read it. But it’s hilarious and I highly recommend it when it releases!)
Thanks, Julia, for stopping by to tell us all about Ch1Con! I’ll be there this year, and I hope you will, too! Don’t forget to enter to win a copy of the The Hate U Give:
I attended my first writing conference (the Midwest Writers Workshop) back in 2013, and I went in with one goal: to get a literary agent. Every decision I made was calculated on how best to accomplish that goal. Did I leave that conference with a literary agent? No. But I did leave with the knowledge and connections that helped me land one within the next four months. So here are my secrets to how you can get the most out of a writing conference.
1.) Treat it like a job
If you want to actually make money writing, then you have to treat it like a business. Invest in business cards. Start author pages on Facebook and/or create a blog or Twitter account. Make sure people can find/contact you after they leave the conference.
2.) Define your brand
Since you need to treat writing like a job, you need to figure out what your brand is and make sure you’re consistent. This means, if you’re writing picture books and an agent goes to your Twitter and sees nothing but tweets full of profanity, they may be turned off (unless that’s what your picture book is about, of course.) You need to encompass what you’re trying to sell. This means dressing the part, too. If you’re pitching an agent face-to-face, look presentable. However, if your brand is all about goth vampires, don’t be afraid to let that show in your clothing and makeup choices. You have to be the best representative of what you’re pitching them. This also stands true with alcohol consumption. While some people may need some liquid courage before facing agents during a conference’s cocktail hour, you can leave a bad impression if you consume too much. Keep in mind your brand encompasses all that you do and say.
3.) Strategically plan your agent interactions
Many conferences offer a chance to pitch agents. Take advantage of this. Of course, do through research ahead of time to see which agent is the best fit. At some conferences, they also offer everything from query critiques to first 10 pages critiques, often by editors and agents. If that’s the case, it could be worth the money to do both, especially if there were two or three agents who might be a good fit for your story. By doing a pitch with one agent, a query critique with another, and a 10 page critique with a third, you can successfully get feedback from all three and see if they’re interested. If nothing else, when you do query them, you can include that you met them at that specific conference, which always helps.
**Bonus Tip** Sign up for the conference early for the best chance of getting to pitch/have a query critique with the agent or editor you want. Slots often fill up fast!
4.) Find your people
Conferences are one of the best places to meet critique partners. Talk with as many people as you can to find other writers who write in your genre or age group. Take advantage of activities like “Find Your Tribe” to meet people who write what you do. Even if you leave without making any headway with agents, you might just leave with a new critique partner who can help you polish your next work in progress so it catches an agent’s eye. Or, a new writer friend might have an agent already and be willing to put in a good word for you.
5.) Don’t be a wallflower
If you’re shy or introverted, it can be hard to put yourself out there. But if there are opportunities to read your work aloud or have your first sentence critiqued during a session, speak up. You never know what agent has snuck into a session and is listening. The more you put yourself out there, the more you’ll get in return.
6.) Make the most of every opportunity
Having lunch and there’s an empty seat next to that literary agent you know would love your book? Take it! Did an author give a great session on world building? Stop them in the hallway and let them know. You never know what interaction could open a door for you. Be kind and sincere, and don’t be afraid to take chances. (Note: DO NOT approach literary professionals in the bathroom, and do not blind pitch them when you’re standing in the lunch line. Only tell them about your story if they ask, and generally, they will ask because they’re just as eager to find good stories as you are to get published.)
7.) Don’t be afraid to attend different sessions
Are you a fantasy writer? Don’t be afraid to attend a session on writing mysteries. You never know what tips you might pick up about adding suspense and writing about villains. The biggest thing is to go in with an open mind so that you can absorb all the information being thrown at you, and then, when you get back in front of your manuscript, you can sort out how to implement it.
Above all, have fun and make friends. Being a writer can be tough and isolating, but going to conferences is one of the best ways to break out of those ruts. Take chances, and maybe in a year or two, you could be that author giving a session on voice or point of view. Good luck, and I hope to see you at Midwest Writers Workshop this year!
Maybe your story has swashbuckling pirates. Maybe it has aliens invading from outer space. Maybe it only has a boy, a girl, and their families set in rural Connecticut. Whatever your plot or characters, you’re going to need tension. An easy way to do that is to put someone’s safety in danger. How? Through some sort of fight. It might be with words, or it might be with blades. Either way, here are some things to keep in mind.
1.) Know how big the fight is.
Is this a massive battle? If so, you need to pick who you’re going to focus on. Jumping around from character to character can slow things down if not done correctly. Your character can glance to see how someone else is holding up, but too much of this takes away from the fight they’re in, making it seem not as difficult since they can keep glancing away from their opponent. If you have multiple main characters, it might be worth it to have separate chapters if you need to jump around between characters.
Are only two people involved? If this is the case, you need to make use of good descriptions to make the action leap off the page. This also works for verbal battles (see below).
2.) Be detailed.
What kind of weapon are they fighting with? How is their attacker dressed? Is it dark out? Can you see the attacker’s face? All of these can help build up the fight and make it more real.
3.) Avoid only having action.
Having a scene with constant “I swung my blade. He sidestepped. I pressed the attack. He scattered backwards” are boring. Mix up the sentence structures. Make sure you’re not always starting with I/He/She.
Also, weave in other details, like those mentioned above- type of blade, internal dialogue, etc.
Example: He pulled out a long blade with a jewel-encrusted hilt, and right smack dab in the middle of all those glittering golden baubles was the Ruby of Radiance. I was so busy staring at it, I narrowly got my sword up in time to stop his advance. Stumbling back into the hallway, I spotted guards rushing toward us.
4.) If the fight is verbal, include setting and what’s going on around them.
Say the fight takes place in the kitchen. Maybe a pot is boiling over on the stove and the microwave is going off. These can add tension to an already tense situation. It’s going to be more dynamic if the characters are in the middle of doing something (like the dishes or making dinner) rather than just standing around.
5.) If you want there to be tension, make sure your character is fighting a challenging opponent.
If the opponent is weak, it doesn’t make you character look strong.
On the flip side, let’s say they’re fighting a henchman/solider. If they struggle to defeat this henchman, they can’t then sometime later magically have the ability to defeat the boss/captain of the guards unless they’ve learned new skills/abilities.
6.) Learn to write action scenes by watching them on TV.
If you find you can’t figure out how to choreograph a fight, watch them in movies and TV shows. Mimic the actions blow by blow, but then remember to go back in and add internal dialogue and details.
What’s your favorite fight scene you’ve ever seen/read? Let me know in the comments!
So many authors read blog post after blog post or book after book about writing, but too few authors put the time and money necessary into conferences.
I attended my first conference back in 2013, and even then, I had to be prodded into it by some writing friends. I didn’t see the point in spending money to learn about writing when I’d already paid to get a Masters degree in Creative Writing.
Boy, was I wrong! The conference I went to was called the Midwest Writers Workshop in Muncie, Indiana. To be honest, I went because I wanted a literary agent, and the conference offered me multiple opportunities to interact with and pitch agents. (Spoiler alert: what I learned at the conference and the feedback I got eventually helped me land my agent.) But the conference did so much more for me than just help me connect with agents.
Offered great advice on perfecting my query letter.
Helped me learn new skills for revising, plotting, world building, character building, and other craft lessons.
Inspired me to get on Twitter where I connected with countless writers and publishing professionals.
Connected me with multiple critique partners.
Allowed me to talk with editors about what they were looking for.
Helped me establish relationships with big name authors.
Offered free help setting up my blog.
When you look at all the things you can gain by going to a conference, it’s worth the cost because you can’t get some of those things just from reading books about writing.
In that vein, I recognize conferences can be expensive once you add in travel and lodging. So if you can’t swing attending one in person, look for online ones. For example, WriteOnCon is a good one that’s very inexpensive. Another one you should check out that’s coming up soon is offered by the same Midwest Writers Workshop that I went to. It’s called Build a Better Plot with Shirley Jump.