This Is the Book, For Reals

I’ve been holding off writing this post because I feel like I need to say something epic, because I’m just so freaking happy right now. It’s the book birthday of my delightful, amazing, truly fabulous critique partner and bestie, A.J. Pine.

IF ONLY is live in the world.

Oh book birthday you might pooh pooh. But I’m telling you: this book. this author. I would tell you to one click buy it even if it cost $13.99. Because it’s a sweet love story, a delightful life abroad coming-of-age as an adult, spectacular and SMART book. For some odd reason, it’s being sold at 99 pennies. Which means you probably should buy at least 14 copies. For your college roommate. For the first person you shared an apartment with (haha thin walls). For the best friend who held you hand as you mourned your first failed romance. And then your second. And definitely one for each person who adores books with movie quotes and who loves literature.

I’m telling you, this is the book.

About If Only:

9781622664351_500

Sometimes it takes crossing an ocean to figure out where you belong.

It’s been two years since twenty-year-old Jordan had a boyfriend—which means it’s been forever since she, well, you know. But now she’s off to spend her junior year in Aberdeen, Scotland, the perfect place to stop waiting for Mr. Right and just enjoy Mr. Right Now.

Sexy, sweet (and possible player) Griffin may be her perfect, no-strings-attached match. He’s fun, gorgeous, and makes her laugh. So why can’t she stop thinking about Noah who, minutes after being trapped together outside the train’s loo, kisses Jordan like she’s never been kissed before? Never mind his impossible blue eyes, his weathered, annotated copy of The Great Gatsby (total English-major porn)…oh, and his girlfriend.

Jordan knows everything this year has an expiration date. Aberdeen is supposed to be about fun rather than waiting for life to happen. But E. M. Forster, Shakespeare, and mistletoe on Valentine’s Day make her reconsider what love is and how far she’s willing to go for the right guy.

Find If Only Online:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1iMGG33
B&N: http://bit.ly/1oIN118
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/if-only/id832651991
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20798976-if-only

Find A.J. Online:

Website: http://ajpine.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJ_Pine
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ajpineauthor

Giveaway

Prize description:
If Only Swag Pack -An “I love you from here to Scotland” print, Ahava pendent, A pack each of Much Ado about Nothing and A Room With a View confetti, Much Ado about Nothing travel mug and A Room With a View Blu-ray (a $25 Amazon gift card will be substituted if winner is outside the US)
Here is the code for the Rafflecopter for the If Only blog tour:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

and the link:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MWNiNTU0OTUyMGNlZDFiOGJmOTc5ZmExZmRmZDJmOjI5Ng==/

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Cover Reveal — Lex Martin’s Dearest Clementine

I am beyond excited to be part of the cover reveal for my fabulous CP and bestie, Lex Martin. I’ve read Dearest Clementine several times now and each time, I fall a little more in love with Clem and Gavin. April 18th can’t come fast enough because everyone needs to read this smart, funny and super sexy story.

Without further ado, the gorgeous cover!

DC_FRONT_FINAL

TITLE: Dearest Clementine (Dearest, #1)

AUTHOR: Lex Martin

RELEASE DATE: April 18, 2014

GENRE: NA contemporary romance

MODEL: Zoe Chait

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SYNOPSIS:

Twenty-year-old Clementine Avery doesn’t mind being called bitchy and closed off. It’s safe, and after being burned by her high school sweetheart and stalked by a professor her freshman year of college, safe sounds pretty damn good.

Her number one rule for survival? No dating. That is until she accidentally signs up for a romance writing class and needs material for her latest assignment. Sexy RA Gavin Murphy is more than happy to play the part of book boyfriend to help Clem find some inspiration, even if that means making out…in the name of research, of course.

As Gavin and Clem grow closer, they get entangled in the mystery surrounding a missing Boston University student, and Clem unwittingly becomes a possible target. Gavin tries to show Clem she can handle falling in love again, but she knows she has to be careful because her heart’s at stake…and maybe even her life.

DEAREST CLEMENTINE is a stand-alone novel with two companion novels. This New Adult contemporary romance series is recommended for readers 18+ due to mature content. Look for the second book, DEAREST DANDELION, this June.

EXCERPT:

The laundry room is dark when we walk in, so Gavin flips on the lights. A row of washers and dryers line both sides of the small room. He opens up a washer and dumps in his basket of clothes.

“Gavin, why are you washing clean laundry?” I can’t help the laugh that escapes.

He drops in a few quarters and starts the machine before he turns to me, grinning.

“I’m helping you get in the zone. Come here.” He wraps his hands around my waist, and I let out a surprised squeak when he lifts me up onto a washer. I can’t believe he just picked me up. Okay, that’s a stupid thought to have. He did carry me home two weeks ago.

His grip is firm on either side of me as he leans down to look into my eyes. I lean back slightly. He’s so far in my personal space that my shadow is crowded.

“Clementine, I want to warn you.” His voice is husky and deep. “I’m going to kiss you, and you’re going to like it. A lot. But I want to be clear that I’m not going to sleep with you because I want you to respect me in the morning.” His mouth lifts up in a wry smile. “This is simply one friend helping out another. Okay?”

Wait. Is he serious?

He must sense my apprehension because he rubs his thumb softly across my cheek. “It’s just an exercise, to get you into your story. I promise.”

I laugh, embarrassed, intrigued, and a whole lot turned on by the idea. He smiles again, but this time it’s different. His eyes darken as his hands glide over my hips. My breath catches in my chest.

“Gavin, I don’t think—“

He rests a finger over my lips.

“I’m doing this in the name of academics. You need inspiration? You’re looking at it. Now shut up and let me kiss you.”

AUTHOR BIO:

Lex_small

Lex Martin writes new adult novels, the sexy kind with lotsa angst, a whole lotta kissing, and the hot happily ever afters. When she’s not writing, she lives a parallel life as an English teacher. She loves printing black and white photos, listening to music on vinyl, and getting lost in a great book. Bitten by wanderlust, this native Texan has lived all over the country but currently resides in the City of Angels with her husband and twin daughters.

STALKING ENCOURAGED!

Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Blog

GIVEAWAY:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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In Praise of Query Contests and a PSA

I love writing contests, pitch contests, twitter contests, the like. I loved participating when I was looking for an agent and I love watching them now that I have an agent.

I’ve done several: Miss Snark’s First Victim, Query Kombat, two rounds of twitter pitch parties, Writeoncon, and finally #Pitchmadness.

I love them because they bring writers together to cheer each other on. You can find critique partners (waves at Lex Martin, Amy Pine and Megan Erickson — hello Writeoncon 2013!), you discover amazing other authors who become your friends on Twitter and might beta read for you, you refine your pitching skills, and sometimes, you can find an agent.

I did. The marvelous Carly Watters of P.S. Literary found me thanks to #Pitchmadness and the countless people who sifted through entries and hosted us on your blog. (See more in a blog post I wrote with Megan and Amy.)

And I’m so grateful for everyone who donates their time (and time is so valuable for all of us) to run these contests and to sift through the entries, to offer critiques and to really make a difference in so many writers lives. It takes so much time to run these contests and to judge them, time that comes out of writing time and family time and work time. And they are under no obligation to run them. They do it to help other authors, to give back to the writing community. It’s something I’ve done a little of and I hope to do much, much more. Because contests help writers. And they work sometimes.

But here’s the thing: we writers are an anxious people. We invented Goodreads stalking. We probably created the vomiting emoticon that I believe is used exclusively for when people read our writing. We lose sleep when our CPs read our stories too slowly (it must be boring) or too fast (they must think it’s such drek they need to be done with it). I could fill this blog with writer anxieties.

So here’s my PSA: please, those who are sifting through the slush piles, think about what you’re tweeting out there. Think about how it’s being read by a writer who is one of the 500 people who entered this contest. Who believes every negative thing you say is about their book. Ask yourself: Is this comment going to be helpful in someone looking at their query/ pitch next time? Is it constructive criticism, helping writers remember to make their stakes clear, or make sure that their query/ pitch focuses on their uniqueness?

Remember that just like every writer who entered these contests, you were once a writer looking for an agent, thinking your book would never be an actual book. There are plenty of people out there who will rain on their parade, from agent rejections to editor rejections to bad reviews. They don’t need that now. They need encouragement and they need to know how to make their work better. But nicely. Gently. Please.

Like this tweet:

#PItchMadness I actually found an entry I would buy in a heartbeat in a bookstore. Very few capture me like this. Well played, good writer.

— Fiona McLaren (@BookOmnivore) March 13, 2014

Brilliant.

Just my opinion.

And writers out there? Thank the contest creators and slush readers and blog hosters and agents who participate. Because they are doing a wonderful thing.

In Praise of Brave Authors

I’m in awe of authors. All authors. People who work hard to create a rich and textured story, and then work harder. And then even harder. And then do that about a billion more times.

And then they show it to the world. That scares the crap out of me.

A few months ago, it came to light that a writer friend of mine was thinking of releasing a book that sounded so freaking good that I couldn’t help but squee all over the place (which is to say all over twitter). It’s a novel that was really close to her heart, she said, but she was concerned. It wasn’t like the young adult novels she usually writes, the ones she’s known for.

Falling From the SkyIt’s about two boys who fall in love. It’s called FALLING FROM THE SKY by the very talented Nikki Godwin.

It’s a book that needs to be read. By teens and adults. By everyone who loves an amazing love story.

So here’s the deal. She doesn’t know this, but I want more people to read this book. So my amazing critique partner Megan Erickson and I are giving away 6 copies. In order to be eligible, all you need to do is comment below and tell Nikki Godwin, author of FALLING FROM THE SKY:

Why are you glad she chose to write a book about two teenage boys falling in love?

(And also your email or twitter handle or some way we can reach you should you be the winner.)

That’s it. Oh, and if you want, follow me on twitter (@natalie_blitt) and Megan (@MeganErickson_), it will help with notification. We’ll choose six winners on Friday, Feb. 28th at noon EST. I’m sure this is a bad way of doing it, but we’ll look for the six answers that speak to us most.

I want everyone to know about this book. I want all those who want to read it to read it. And read it legally, for the love of all that is holy. If you truly can’t afford to buy the book, message me and I’ll find someone to lend it to you or gift it to you. Want to join us in getting this book out there? Send me an email or tweet about joining our giveaway or doing one alongside us.

Thank you Nikki. For writing Ridge and Micah’s story. For trusting the world with it. For enriching the world with it. Now please write some more?

xo,
Natalie

PS. TELL PEOPLE ABOUT THIS BOOK. PLEASE.

Read Nikki’s message about the book.

Buy your own copy: FALLING FROM THE SKY by NIKKI GODWIN

THE BLURB:

All stability in sixteen-year-old Ridge McCoy’s life crashed and burned in the plane crash that killed his dad. This summer-long basketball camp is his chance to improve his skills and escape his problems back home. But his summer plans take a turn in an unexpected direction when he meets Micah Youngblood, the guy who runs the carousel at the local mall and has a reputation for devouring straight boys’ heterosexuality for breakfast, alongside his chocolate chip pancakes.

Ridge needs a way to avoid the guys at camp, whose only quest for the summer is to drown in beer and hook up with girls. So when Micah offers to explain how the ten unique horses on the carousel are significant to his tribe, Ridge takes him up on it. Still, Ridge can’t decide if this is a bad thing or not. All he knows is that he hasn’t felt this alive since his dad fell from the sky, and as the horse adventures come to an end, Ridge finds himself falling as well – for Micah.

Drafting

I love drafting. Love, love, love. If I could, I would just draft and hand over my writing and let someone else fix it. Because while I know that edits are the most important part, they are not my favorite.

But here’s what I’ve come to understand: not all books draft the same. And maybe that’s super obvious to all of you, but totally not to me.

My first book I wrote during NaNoWriMo 2011. I had an idea of what was going to happen, I’d been thinking about it for a while. I wrote as much as I could, as often as I could, for a month. And I certainly passed 50,000 words but it wasn’t complete. There were missing scenes here and there and places where I wasn’t sure exactly even what was missing. I didn’t write it in order, I wrote whatever scene I could write when I had time to write. Didn’t feel motivated? Wrote a scene I had been daydreaming about. Felt motivated? Forced myself to write a less obvious scene.

I started dreaming of Book Two (Finn & Ellie’s story) when I was on maternity leave after my third child was born, one year later. For that one, I mostly wrote in order, but then I skipped to the end. And because I was writing while caring for a tiny tot and then later while back at work, I wrote when I could over ten months. That manuscript still has a whole chunk missing from about the 60% point to the 80% point. And I only mostly know what will go there.

And then came Book Three, Sarah’s story. Sarah’s story I had been thinking about since I finished book 1. I beat sheeted it (a screenwriting technique). I committed to two things when writing it: I would write it all in November for NaNoWriMo 2013 and I would write it beginning to end. And I did both of those things. And I freaking loved it. I loved writing Sarah’s story, as much as it tore me apart. (Hopefully one day you’ll all read it and understand why.) But to me, it drafted perfectly. Chapter one to chapter lots and lots (can’t remember). In order. I actually stopped during the last week in November because I was already done.

And now we come to this novel, Book Four, my FebNo project (aka NaNoWriMo in Feb!). You’d think because the drafting was so easy with Sarah’s story that I would go right back to that for Zeke and Abby’s story. But for some reason, I can’t. I want to, but this book won’t write that way. I’m back to Finn & Ellie — back to writing it out of sequence, whatever scene I can get down. It’s a very different book, and while I’m still committed to writing it in a month (because I’m super competitive and I said I would) and I did beat sheet it, it’s a whole different process to get the story on the paper.

Which is my lesson. Each book drafts differently. Maybe it’s how well I know the characters, or how well I know the plot. Or maybe it’s just how much strength I have going in. But I’m kind of fine with that. As long as the books get written.

And as long as I commit to editing them. Because that’s even more important.

How do you write your books? Out of order or in order? In short bursts or over many months?

My WIP Love List

I got this idea from my writer-friend Rachel who got it from Stephanie Perkins so it’s totally legit. (I love Rachel’s writing so much, can’t wait for everyone to read it. And my love for Stephanie Perkins is legendary.) Check out Rachel’s love list. And Stephanie’s.

So, things that I love about this book I’m writing:

Characters who speak French to each other

A college program for high school students

A girl named Alice.

A girl named Abby.

A girl who refuses to swear except to say eff or merde.

Baseball loving family

Baseball hating main character

Baseball playing love interest

Dirty French movies (aren’t they all?)

Moleskin notebooks

The sadness of being a Cubs fan

A boy named Zeke

Amelie

Le Petit Prince

Tu me manques

Brothers

Roommates

Montreal

Druggie Park

St Viateur Bagels

Silly drunks and sad drunks

Ethnic soccer

Surprising trivia competitions

First kisses

Even better subsequent kisses

Holding hands

This line: “Favorite new word: chatouilleux. Ticklish. Zeke est vraiment chatouilleux. Zeke is very ticklish.”

Montreal

Vieux Montreal

What do you love about your work in progress?

On my love for my critique partners

I’ve been writing for a million years. OK, a little less than that.

And I’m forever reading blogs and discussions about best writing advice. And there’s tons of it. There are blogs filled with awesome advice. And one day, I’ll create a list of all my favorite sites. Sites that I turn to on a regular basis.

But I have one piece of advice. One piece that truly has made a bigger difference in my writing life than almost everything else.

Find great critique partners.

Because truly, it makes all the difference.

Here’s the thing. This journey is crazy. And it’s not just the writing, but it starts with the writing. It starts with writing and rewriting, and questioning the writing. And there’s months upon months of that, years really. Through many drafts. But then there’s more. There’s every moment of doubt, there’s the querying and new writing. And you know who is beside you through that? Your amazing critique partners. The ones who not only read what you’ve written and comment on it. They text you late at night to tell you they’re in love with certain lines, and certain scenes, and most of all your love interest. They email you when you feel down and they tweet how much they adore your words.

Great CPs are so much more than just folks who can read your book. They are the people who you send drafts to, drafts that terrify you. They are people who can deal with your self-doubt, your self-loathing, your bad days. And you know what’s just as amazing? What you get in return. Getting to read their new stories, being able to assuage their fears, send them the validation they need. Get angry at agents who reject them, growl at people who make them feel like anything but the amazing writers they are. Because you know what it’s like.

And best? You get to celebrate each others victories and good news. Because truly, that’s the best.

So I’m immensely grateful for Amy Pine, Megan Erickson and Jen Meils. Check them out because not only are they great CPs, but they are fabulous writers. Just don’t steal my CPs please.