Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Read MY Dear Teen Me Letter!

That's right, today I'm being hosted as the author over at Dear Teen Me. This is such a special moment for me because that was the website that inspired Breakable. But also, I just plain love what they do over there.

If you're interested, head on over and see what I would say to my sixteen-year-old self!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Bullying - Why Should You Care?

Much has been made in the reviews of Breakable over the bullying Stacy (the protagonist) is forced to deal with. I really appreciate the reviewers asking hard questions, or looking into the issues. Though I didn't intend for Breakable to be a "bullying book", it appears to have slipped into that category. And I'd rather discuss the issue than avoid it.

That said, there are those who read my book, or watch the current headlines, or listen to their niece / nephew complain about experiences at school and they just kind of shrug.

"Toughen up. It isn't that bad."

Those are the responses to any bullying discussion that get the hairs on the nape of neck standing to attention. Why? Because it means those people really don't understand why bullying should be eradicated with the same singularity of focus we'd give to a rat's nest in the baby's bedroom.

If you're someone who has those thoughts, I'd ask you to keep reading.

Consider this:

Outwardly bullying appears to be social jockeying for position; the natural process of conflict and triumph that dictates the hierarchy of any mammalian group.

And when that "survival of the fittest" filter is applied, there are certain aspects of teenage social interactions that even I would agree fall into that category: We have all been teased, humiliated, targeted, or socially isolated at some time. Having a crappy day at the hands of our peers isn't tantamount to bullying.

Bullying is another beast entirely.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

BREAKABLE Paperback on Sale over at B and N!


You can pick up BREAKABLE for just $9.04 today, over at B&N. I'm not in control of the sale prices, so I have no idea how long it's going to stay that way. 

Accordingly, Amazon have dropped the price to $9.15 (for Prime users anyway - can anyone tell me if that offer is everywhere?).

I'll probably blog about this later, when I know a little more. But I'll admit it's a bit disturbing when outlets are messing with my pricing, etc, and I have no control. That said, they appear to be paying me my full royalty (at this point anyway) so I can't complain!

My advice is, get some Christmas shopping done early and buy a glossy copy for that YA reader you know. You won't regret it!

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Pleasant Discoveries of a Debut Author

Hey guys, I'm still taking applications for the Crit Club, but due to other commitments, I'll have to close up at the end of this month for the January critique round. So if you're interested in joining, get in touch asap!

These last couple months have been a real ride. I've lost control of my book! Since October 8th it's been in the hands of people whose sole purpose is to decide whether they like it and tell other people what they think. And since November 4th, it's been in the hands of readers - the real litmus test.

There've been a lot of surprises and discoveries along the way - some good, some bad. I'll talk about the bad another time. Today I wanted to talk about the good.


#1 - Reviewers are generally nice, kind people who get excited about books. Even mine.

Something I hadn't considered before embarking on getting my book reviewed was that, as a general rule, most reviewers want to read books they think they'll enjoy. Most of them won't agree to review a book they aren't attracted to. What does that mean? It means when someone says "Yeah, I'll read it." I've already got one foot in the door. They've already decided that my book appeals to them. They're predisposed to enjoying it.

I just have to deliver on the promise! (Whether I consistently can remains to be seen).

#2 - No one's joking when they say the very best social media marketing is having successful people talk to their followers about your book.

The day two NYT bestselling authors and a popular reviewer talked to each other (briefly) about Breakable? Yeah, that. In the span of 30 minutes I had two new reviewers contact me, several new followers, and some promised book sales. That was a day of happy dances, let me tell you.

#3 - Facebook is my best friend.

This is one that really took me by surprise. It turns out, the VERY best online marketing tool (for me anyway) is people sharing my book with other people on Facebook. Especially if the sharer is a book blog / reviewer, or an avid reader with lots of avid reader friends. Makes me wish I'd given more time to my facebook page BEFORE the release...

#4 - People really do get excited about the fact that I've got a book out. And not in the "nod and smile" kind of way.

I've always loved my family and friends, and felt loved by them. But I am literally staggered by the support they've given me in this (one particularly loving sister has bought 9 paperback copies so far - and counting!)

I think deep down I thought no one really cared that much, they were just happy for me to be doing something I loved to do. But it turns out the people around me are genuinely impressed and proud that I've written a book. And I'm sure their friends and family are getting sick of hearing about it!

#5 - Readers don't write fake reviews.

I think of all the milestones I've hit and fun I've had in the last couple weeks, there's been one stand-out moment: the first time a person who didn't know me from Adam heard about and bought my book, then reviewed it. With zero input from me, they loved it and told all their friends why.

It's an experience I've wanted since I was little...and it's happened. It still feels surreal.

Other than all that, it's been a crazy couple of weeks. I'll be posting more about it and the nitty gritty behind the scenes over the next few weeks. But until then, check out all the great ratings and reviews for Breakable on Goodreads (I didn't pay for or co-erce a single one. Promise!). Or get really brave and buy a copy!

Your Turn: What expectations / hopes do you have for YOUR debut?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Affordable, Quality Critiques When YOU Need Them - Join the CRIT CLUB!

So, you've finished a draft of your manuscript. You're feeling good because it's done, but you know it isn't "there yet". You want input and guidance on how to take your book to the next level. But finding someone with the skills to help you identify what's missing, or where you could improve who will read the entire manuscript in a timely manner is hard. Especially if you're a fast writer and need that kind of input every couple months.

I get requests from writers all the time who are in this position. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to critique for each of them - I wish I could! I know how hard it is to find the answers you want. And the fact is, we all need that kind of detailed input, right?

Well, I think I have a solution. And I want to know if you're interested in getting involved. Maybe, just maybe, we can solve that problem for everybody in 2014:


What is the Crit Club?

The Crit Club is a circle of authors, who write various genres, all with complete manuscripts, armed with the tools they need to analyze plot structure, character development, technical writing skill, and story analysis.

Every month or two (depending on the needs of the group), the Crit Club will convene for a workshop. Over a four-week period, each author in the workshop will analyze a whole manuscript, chapter by chapter, then fill out an over-arching review document.

By the end of the month, every author in the clinic walks away with a detailed analysis of their entire book: Chapter reviews which include commentary on the characters, plot, structure, pacing (and more!) and a Story Review which identifies which aspects of the book as a whole are working, and which are not; self-editing tips and ideas for which parts of the manuscript to focus on, along with identification of which parts of the writing, story, characters and plot are working.

How Does it Work?

Approved authors who are members of the Crit Club will be notified by email when a workshop is approaching. They can then opt in or opt out.

By opting-in, you're committing to critiquing another manuscript, of similar wordcount to your own, within a four week period (the first half due within two weeks, the second half due by the end-date).

During a workshop, each author will send their manuscript to me (stripped of author names, etc). In return, I'll send them the anonymous manuscript of another author.

To avoid personal conflicts, you won't know who's critiquing your work, and you won't know whose work you're critiquing. But once you've submitted the complete critique, you'll receive the critique done for you.

It's that simple.

How Do I Join?

It takes a lot of time to critique a full manuscript, and it can be a little rough on our writerly-egos, so it's imperative that every member of the club is screened to ensure they understand how to critique effectively, and also are capable of receiving critique and understanding the value of it.

If you think you have what it takes, and you're interested in becoming a part of the Crit Club, it's a two-step process:

First, you submit the first chapter (or first 2,000 words, whichever is smaller) to me, along with details on your genre, overall wordcount, etc. (Don't worry, I'll send you a form to fill out. It only takes a second).

In return for a small screening fee, you'll receive a detailed critique of your first chapter. If you find that helpful and want to continue, I'll then submit a first chapter to you for critique, along with a chapter critique template that you would use if you were involved in a workshop.

Within 7 days, you'll return a detailed critique of that chapter to me.

Authors who are accepted for the program will then receive critique templates to make the process easy no matter how you like to read, and the Crit Club "Tips for Critiquing" document, full of tips on how to make the most of both critiquing other writers, and how to process and action critiques you receive (including notes on how to gain confidence on when not to action critique notes).

In each workshop members will be grouped by skill level, wordcount, and / or genre (depending on the number of authors involved), ensuring that everyone receives a detailed, quality critique in a timely manner.

How Much Does It Cost?

The application process is $20 (payable by Paypal or Credit Card) and guarantees that even if you aren't accepted into the club, you will walk away with a detailed critique of your first chapter (or first 2000 words).

Each workshop will be $50, but writers in the club have no obligation to join a workshop. If it isn't the right time for your manuscript, or you don't have the cash, wait until the next workshop is announced. There's no financial commitment unless you opt-in for a workshop, so there's nothing to lose!

What if I Don't Like My Critique?

If you join a workshop and believe the critique you received is poorly done, or inaccurate, you can apply directly to me to have it reviewed.

If I agree that the critique is substandard, you'll be refunded your fee.

Why Do You Get to Screen Everybody, Aimee?

Well, because it's my club. And also because I regularly critique for traditionally published and successfully self-published authors. This is something I'm good at. I also receive great critique from experienced authors, and I know what a good critique looks like.

If you aren't sure, you can check out some of the critiquing we've done on this site in the past. In fact, I'd highly recommend it. We won't be pulling punches at the Crit Club, so you want to make sure that you're prepared to receive honest criticism of your work - with the goal of making your book even better than it already is!

Where Do I Sign Up?

If you don't have any more questions, go here and apply.

If you do have questions, email me at aimeelsalter (at) gmail (dot) com with "CRIT CLUB" in the subject line. We'll take it from there!

Happy writing, everyone!

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Dearth-of-Epic-Endings Epidemic


Because I'm merrily marketing at the moment, (I'm interviewed AND reviewed at PondAcrosthePond, and there's another review and a chance to win a paperback over at Endless Reading) I'm bringing back some popular posts from years past. Until Thursday, every comment on my posts, or linked Breakable Posts can win a signed Paperback! (If you're not sure what to say - wish my Mom a happy birthday!)

And now, back to our regularly scheduled viewing...

I read a lot of bestselling YA fiction. And in the past year or so I've noticed a disturbing trend: Fabulous beginnings leading to merely average endings.

My apologies if your kids saw that...
Don't get me wrong - nothing I've read has made me screech "That's it?!" and throw the book across the room. But...

Three of the last four BIG YA releases I've finished captured my imagination completely in the beginning, while the conclusion left me with a distinct sense of Oh. Okay. *Shrug*

These are good books! I still want to read sequels (or other books by the author). But none have knocked my socks off to the point where I'm pulling a bookstore manager across the desk, demanding she give me a release date for the next one now.

And that's a problem.

The reason I'm barking about this is because as a reader I want more. Much, much more. I want unexpected twists, satisfyingly noble conundrums and realistic failures leading to nail-bitingly close calls. In short: I want to close the cover and feel like the climax was...er... satisfying.

And that tells me something important about my writing. Some questions I need to ask myself for each and every book:

1. Does my book end on events the reader can only predict in hindsight (AKA: "I should have seen that coming!")?

2. Does the climax place the protagonist in a position so precarious that loss of life, love or eternal happiness seems impossible to avoid?

3. Is my protagonist forced to make a decision that the reader prays they'll never have to make?

If I can't answer "Yes!" to at least one of those questions (but preferably all three), there's a problem.

Endings can be as bombastic as a nuclear explosion, or as quiet as a sleeping kiss... but they must be fraught. Emotions must run high. Chances must seem impossible... And victory absolutely, without fail, must be hard-won.

Blog Reader says: That's all well and good, Aimee, but how do I do that?

I'm glad you asked, Friend Writer. The answer to that is as varied as the writers behind the stories... but I can tell you how not to do it:

PLEASE NOTE: These comments are based on a bestselling YA release of a few years back. Names / creatures have been changed as I don't want to point fingers.
I read A BOOK years after it became popular. For the first three quarters of the pages it was a triumph (in my opinion). The writing was great, the characters likeable, the tensions varied and unrelenting. Check. Check, check, check.

But the ending was a prime of example of a non-epic-ending. It's too easy.


As we move into the climactic chapters, the characters 'realize' the apparent cure for Creatury Shapeshifting is an specific kind of physical illness. This moment is delivered with a flourish and one can almost sense the characters eyeing the reader, waiting for the breathless "Of course!".

Except, I (the reader) figured that out in the first couple of chapters. The first time the heroine described her early memory immediately after contact with the Creatury Shapeshifters. It was obvious. And frankly, I was never quite buying that the characters didn't make the connection.


The answer to the "How Ever Will We Induce This Life-threatening Illness?" question is answered off-stage. Annoying, stock character pops out of nowhere... Again. (She always crops up when the heroine is in need of a good motivating stimulus, then disappears until the next obstacle, I noticed) and says "I just happened to be a the hospital with my nurse-mother where a patient just happened to be dying of a germ that will do the trick, and I just happen to know how to take blood, so I pretended to be a nurse and got three vials... let's go save some Creatury Shapeshifters!"

Even if you ignore the implausibility issues of a narcissistic rich girl a) going to hang out in the hospital with her near-absent mother, b) knowing how to take blood, and c) getting hold of the necessarily medical apparatus to take no less than three vials and get them out of the hospital without anyone noticing, you're still dealing with the fact that all of this plot-central action occurred TOTALLY OFF-SCREEN.

Not only does I (the reader) have to believe it - the only evidence I'm given to back it up is that the characters told me so. 


After a (well-delivered) breathless and tense scene in which the hero is only barely able to obtain human-form long enough to receive the probably-deadly dose before changing back into a Creatury Thing, he disappears.

Now, as a plot-point this works well. MORE TENSION! Yippee!!!

Except... he just stays disappeared. For months. No checking in. No hints. Not even a red-herring. The other Creatury Thing dies and our heroine goes into an emotional spiral assuming her favorite Creature has too.

Then.... without any warning the hero shows up in the last handful of pages to establish the Happy Ending. No explanation of where he's been. No plausibility-affirming details on why he was gone so long when, clearly, the antidote worked.

Now, I'm all for delivering a story-arc over three books, but when readers who aren't late-adopters like me might have to wait a year or more for the sequel, you've got to let us see what's happening in the NOW.

If you didn't catch what the problem was there, catch it here:

The Hero achieved victory OFF STAGE. (Again!)

And that victory remained unexplained. (Again!).

Strike three = You're Out.

Now go write something that lets the reader howl alongside your hero / heroine until they're writhing with the injustice of it all - and sighing with satisfaction when it's over.

Your Turn: Have you read a book recently where the ending fell flat, or one that left you breathless? Why did it work / not? (And if you have read and know which book I used for the example, just keep it under your hat. I have no desire to point fingers at specific authors or books).

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Another Great Review for Breakable!

I'm having a lot of fun over at Goodreads, where the ratings and reviews are coming in steadily. But the most fun is when the reviewers jump on board and start promoting for me because they love the book! The other day Amanda Foody (a YA author repped by Molly Jaffa at Folio Literary Management) was tweeting people about my book. What a treat.

Check this out!
Then there's Taherah over at Books As You Know It, talking about Breakable too! 

Friday, November 8, 2013

About My Characters, and the Challenges of Self-Publication

Today I'm over at Eve Castellan's blog talking about the journey to
- and challenges of - self publishing.
I'm also at Paulette Harper-Johnson's site talking about my characters!
Last day to go in the draw for a signed paperback. Comment here or at either of these sites to win!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

AUS / NZ Followers - Win a paperback today!

Hey guys, completely separate from my international giveaway, there's a paperback up for grabs at Sharon Johnston's blog today.

Get thee over there and comment!


An Interview and More Chances to Win

Click on the links at the top right menu if you haven't got your copy of BREAKABLE.

Short and sweet today guys - you can still win a paperback copy of Breakable by commenting here, or on my interview over at Creating the Write Reality with author, Liz Gelb-Oconnor.

There's some other stuff coming up too. Link you later!


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How to Turn an Idea into a Book and Why THAT Story??? (and WIN!)

Breakable is now for sale in paperback, for Kindle and for Nook!

Today you can win.... over at Down Under Wonderings  (after 10am) where one of my besties, author Sharon Johnston is offering a Breakable paperback (comment and you'll get two chances to win!).

I'm at author Helen Lowe's website (after 10am) answering the question Why This Story? (Check out her fantasy novels if you haven't already - she's an awesome NZ writer repped by Writer's House and she's winning all kinds of awards).

And I'm already at Ara's "My Book and My Coffee" blog, talking about what it takes to turn an idea into a book.

And don't forget: the international competition to win a signed paperback of Breakable continues. You can comment on this post, or any of the posts I've linked today to earn an entry. Winner announced next week!


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Win BREAKABLE (and more)

To win a signed paperback of Breakable, comment on this post and / or any of the posts linked below. Each comment is an entry. Winner announced next week!
Or you can buy Breakable as a paperback, for Kindle, or for Nook!

Before you ask, yesterday was *soprano voice* Awwww-Suuuuum. The cliff notes can be found here.

*Returns self to dignified posture*

Well, it's been kind of a weird few days, what with having the flu and releasing a book, and all that. But we aren't finished! Over the next ten days I'll be offering up more chances to win and more appearances here at Living the Write Life - did you see that? See how I just dropped that in there? Huh? Yeah.... (Check out the new blog title if you haven't already).

And, if you're still mulling over the idea of buying a copy, there's some more reviews and interviews up today:

And I've found generous shout-out posts from Heather and Kate!

Anything else? I'm not sure. If you think of something, ask me in the comments! (You'll be entered for the competition then, too).

Your Turn: Comment to win! And check back later next week to find out if you're the winner!