Fiction Writers’ Boot Camp 2015- I’m hosting a conference!

Hello, friends!

I have been in a black hole of editing, drafting, revising, conferences, and travel for family. Just in case you want the details, between a family reunion on both sides of the family, conferences, and travel for my novel that released last November, this year I’ve been to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Minneapolis twice, Dallas, Chicago, New York, Arkansas twice, Colorado, Mexico, and Nebraska. I also moved from Iowa to South Dakota last month. This month, I’ll be going to Indiana for the Midwest Writers Workshop, where I’ll be both attending to learn, helping present a session on pitching your manuscript, and taking pitches myself for Entangled Publishing. I’ve also drafted a new manuscript, revised it, and worked through edits with my agent on a third manuscript. Add that to moving into an acquiring position at Entangled and working with my clients on ten released/soon-to-be-releasing titles, and that’s why I haven’t had time to tell you here…

I’m hosting a two-day conference in Sioux Center, IA. It’s a small conference, focused on one-on-one mentorship. New York Times bestselling authors Tosca Lee and Nicole Baart, myself, and library director Becky Bilby will be presenting lectures, workshops, discussion panels, and networking sessions on everything new and debut authors need to know: marketing, platform building, story structure, character development, writing dark fiction, publishing paths, revising and editing, and more. Attendees will also have the chance to schedule a private consultation with me, where they can pitch a completed MS to Entangled, receive a query critique, and get personalized career advice and have their questions answered.

It’s been an awesomely fun thing to create and promote this conference, and I’m so excited to try my hand at supporting new and debut authors in the way that so many others helped support me. We’re already almost at capacity, but I wanted to tell you-all about it, since you’ve been following me from the beginning. Register in the next 10 days, and you can still attend!

Another cool thing? It’s free for teen writers! If you’re 19 years of age or under, you may attend at no cost. For adults, the cost is $80. Next year it won’t be this inexpensive, so it’s a great year to come join the fun, learn everything I wish I’d known as a querying and debut author, and challenge yourself on both the craft and business of writing. Writers of all skill levels are encouraged to attend– sessions will contain advanced material, but no writer is too new for this conference. I’d love to see you there! And if you can’t make it this year, help me spread the word?

And beware. It’s intense! Check out the speakers, schedule of events, and more on the conference website below.

Fiction Writers’ Bootcamp

#YAlaunch: 10 Authors Talking Writing, Debuts, & Publishing

I’ve meant to blog about Yalaunch for months, but… my first book released in November, I moved to a new job acquiring fiction for Entangled Publishing, I went to the East Coast for two weeks, and then I went to ALA in Chicago. But I am home now, and catching up on everything, and YAlaunch was JUST TOO GOOD to not tell you about. Honestly, it was one of the most wonderful, fulfilling experiences of my life.

Nikki Urang, my critique partner, and I both had our first novels release November 11, and in the wildly stressful and exciting process of figuring out how to actually celebrate the launch of our books, I decided I wanted a writing retreat with my fellow authors. 4 days in an awesome Omaha hotel writing, drinking, sharing work, eating great food, and staying up far too late– ending with a 3-hour livestream where we played games with the audience on Twitter and Facebook, talked about our books, answered audience questions, and gave away over 100 books. Almost 400 people visited the livestream over the course of the night, and it was such fun to hear the brilliant minds of my fellow authors at work. It was half party, half mini-conference, and ridiculously fun. Here’s a recap, and at the end, I’m including the video, so you can watch the whole thing:

What was it, and who was there?

List of the 100 books we gave away

Once everyone arrived, we (after lots of talking/eating) got to work at the hotel:

Authors  Writing

And that weekend, THIS happened:

It was such a wonderful experience to sit down with 10 other authors (shout-out to author Tonya Kuper, who joined us for an evening, too!) and write. Word sprints, plot hole discussions, brainstorming sessions, and “do you think this works?” and “does this make sense?” happened ’round the clock, and I’m thrilled to report we actually got a lot of real work done.

And then it was Monday, and the #YAlaunch livestream happened! Basically, it was my launch party. Check out the #YAlaunch hashtag on Twitter to see all the awesome crazy, but here are the highlights.

 

And viewers seemed excited, too!

 

We had viewers from Mexico, Australia, Canada, the U.S., the Dominican Republic, and several more wonderful places. Book lovers reach around the world. 🙂

set 1 set 2

Use the times listed in the descriptions below to jump to sections of the video you find interesting, or watch the whole thing!

We kicked off the livestream with a panel discussion on our favorite genres to write, and whether we read genres we don’t write, and questions from the audience covered what New Adult is, how we all feel about fanfiction, solving writer’s block, and what we do for day jobs in addition to writing, if we have another occupation. (first 29 minutes of the video.)

At 29:19 on the time stamp, I interviewed with Alex Yuschik and Blair Thornburgh about gravity racing, the importance of passion in their work, obsessive characters, and writing retellings.

To end the interview, we played an awesome word scramble game of scrambled book titles. You’re all much better at word scrambles than I am!

At 51:48, Nikki Urang interviews Kelly Youngblood and Delia Moran about historical fiction, Kelly’s collection of 1000 books and her transition from writing nonfiction to fiction, traditional vs. self publishing, plotting and “pantsing,” and played a game guessing which books a collection of first lines came from.

At 1:07:33, after a round-table introduction of what we all write, I hosted a panel discussion on writing a series, trilogies, companion novels, and stand-alones. We discussed how that affects our process and changes our work, how we know when a story needs more than one book, and when to best leave the story so that we don’t drain the concept and not wear out the readers. We also discussed writing in a male POV, avoiding leaning on cultural stereotypes for a “male” sound, and how parents who write balance kids and the author life.

At 1:31:18, Nikki Urang interviews Kiersi Burkhart and Bethany Robison about drafting vs revising, their writing process, and the difference between writing for MG and YA. We tried to play a “name that cover” but of course we were owed some kind of technical difficulty, and that’s when it happened.

1:52:00 Eventually we got the game to work, and went back to the main table for a roundtable discussion on when reader reactions differ widely, why we think YA is so popular and what’s drawing people to the category and how Harry Potter changed YA. We also gained a giant platter of unbelievably wonderful cupcakes, and Kiersi performed an impressive cross-table lunge for them.

At 2:04:00, we discussed using social media and multimedia in our books, as well as writing multiple points of view and what we think of the value of formal writing education. We also discussed how to find critique partners, using humor and acting experience to inform writing, and the community and collaboration so often involved in great books. Blair got very wise about first and third person and writing from opposite genders, too. We were also under strict orders to pass around the cupcakes.

At 2:26:00, I got to interview New York Times bestselling authors Nicole Baart and Tosca Lee. We talked about their hobbies, upmarket women’s fiction, historical biblical fiction, Nicole’s upcoming April release THE BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS from Atria, how the industry has changed during their 8-book publication journey, and their advice for new authors. I particularly loved what Tosca had to say about being brave and continuing to write fearlessly as your audience grows, and how Nicole has seen readers change in the last ten years and balancing writing with interacting with readers. They also discussed their paths to publication, and what it’s been like to see 8 novels each published traditionally.

At 2:55:15 we went back to the big table for a game of ABC books, and you definitely want to see 10 authors competing to shout out alphabetical book titles. It got crazy. For authors, we had a surprisingly difficult time with the alphabet.

At 3:01:00, we began a panel discussion on book-to-film adaptations. What makes a good one, if any of our own work has ever been adapted to screen, and screenplays written by the author or involved in the adaptation as in Gone Girl, The Hunger Games, and Game of Thrones.

https://twitter.com/meggie_spoes/status/532009222184005633

And then all 8 authors interviewed Nikki Urang and me about our debuts. Title changes, our involvement in our book covers, how the experience of being a debut author has gone for us, how being an editor helps/hinders me as an author, what next for both of us as authors, and what we hope readers take away from our books.

Basically, over the course of four hours, debut, nonfiction, fiction, and multipublished authors talked through everything from fan fiction and using social media to writing dual POV and writing as an art. I learned so much from these incredibly talented ladies on set with me, and I was so humbled and thrilled that they all came to help us celebrate the release of HOW WE FALL and THE HIT LIST.

Here’s the full video:


If you still haven’t gotten your copies, you can get HOW WE FALL here and THE HIT LIST here!

ALA Recap: Book Haul, YALSA, and So Many Geniuses

ALA Floor

This last weekend I went to ALA Midwinter, a meeting of the American Library Association in Chicago. My publishing house sent me to be at YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults teen lunch, where 6 authors spoke to over 60 teens to connect and introduce them to their newest books. I was there with Ally Carter, Elizabeth Eulberg, Heather Burch, and Sabaa Tahir, and I had a great time speaking with the teens. They were so sharp and motivated, and had so many great questions. The other authors were wonderful, too, and I was honored to be at the event with them and sign my book for those teens.

After the event, I went to some panels, including one on reaching out to the female geeks and nerds in your community, and one on hot new adult literary debuts from LibraryReads. I walked the floor and grabbed some awesome new books, too: Atria booth

Books

The AAP/Library Reads panel was especially good. Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train), Chigozie Obioma (The Fishermen), Colonel Jill Morgenthaler, (The Courage to Take Command), Melissa Falcon Field (What Burns Away), and Kirstin Valdez Quade (Night at the Fiestas) all spoke. Their books are some of the most anticipated debuts, and I’ve been hearing about Girl on the Train for months. One thing that amazed me about these authors was their vision. They have such a clear idea of where they fit in their genre, and they have something to say, and a story to say it with.

Left to right:

Melissa Falcon Field, Paula Hawkins, Colonel Jill Morgenthaler, Chigozie Obioma, and Kirstin Valdez Quade

Debut Authors Panel

After the panels Saturday, I met up with Elizabeth Blackwell, the author of While Beauty Slept, a riveting gothic retelling, and she also blogs for me over at Publishing Hub. We’ve been connecting online for a while but this was the first time I got to meet her in person, and it was so great to finally do that.

I met up with Bethany Robison, author and sports writer extraordinaire, for dinner, and author Nicole Baart for drinks after, and hanging out with those two is always a great time. I’m always stunned by what wonderful people authors and book lovers are.

Nicole and I, being excited about books:

Kate and Nicole

Unfortunately, because of the blizzard that hit Chicago, my trip that was supposed to be overnight turned into three nights. More ALA wasn’t a bad thing, though, and I used my time wisely– more books, more drinks with author friends, and more listening to geniuses speak on their favorite topics. Nicole introduced me to author Renee Rosen, author of What The Lady Wants, which I have in my pile of books and am very much looking forward to reading now!

Sunday Nicole and I watched pieces of the Super Bowl in between Nicole’s grand introduction to The Walking Dead, because a marathon was running and she hadn’t seen it before. Any of you who follow me on Twitter know I’m a huge fan of TWD, and I’m never happier than when someone else turns out to love something I love, too. (P.S. THE WALKING DEAD RETURNS THIS SUNDAY.) We did go down to the hotel bar at the end of the game to watch, though, because Nicole is a better American than I am.

Monday, my second flight was cancelled, and I discovered that cabs are extremely expensive. However, I was able to attend Renee Rosen’s session on Chicago as a historical setting, and Nicole Baart’s session on handling difficult topics in fiction. Both were wonderful and thought-provoking.

Nicole Baart speaking on The Beautiful Daughters (releasing from Atria April 28) and on handling difficult topics in fiction:

Nicole Baart

Author Renee Rosen speaking on What The Lady Wants and Chicago as a historical setting:

Renee Rosen

 

When I wasn’t in panels, it was great fun to walk the floor, meet librarians, booksellers, and publicists. It’s hard work for all these people, and by the end everyone is tired and ready to go home, but it’s so clear how much these people love books and authors.

The line at the Penguin booth for the display hardcovers:

Hardcovers line

 Books to watch for featured at the PopTop stage:

Poptop Stage 1

 Three of the new “it” books I saw featured all over ALA this year:

 

Poptop stage 2

Some other great things that happened at ALA this year:

2015 ALSC Book & Media Award Winners

And here is the shot you’ve been waiting to see– all the books I brought home from ALA! Ones I’m most excited for? The Alex Crow, Girl on the Train, The Start of Me and You, The Third Twin, The Dogs… okay, all of them. I’m excited for all of them!

 

Books 2

#YALaunch- Get Ready, and Save the Date!

Dear friends,

I’m so happy to be writing this post, and I’m even happier to be inviting you to my launch party. It’s a bit unusual, and a lot wonderful, and comes from a pretty awesome chain of events.

Back in 2012, Nikki Urang and I were both querying our first manuscripts and had shared work, and decided to become critique partners. We didn’t have agents, didn’t have any publishing credentials, and were terrified that no agent was going to want us and not entirely sure we could do this publishing thing. We queried, and revised, and

Welcome to The Hit List: a game of sexual conquest. We won't judge you, but your girlfriend might.  Spencer Hill Press, Nov. 11 2014

Welcome to The Hit List: a game of sexual conquest. We won’t judge you, but your girlfriend might.

shared chapters of a new book we were each writing, and kept at it. We both shelved the manuscripts we were querying, and finished the books we were working on. We drew up lists of questions to ask agents if “the call” ever happened. We analyzed feedback in those coveted personal responses to queries. In March of 2013, a few months into me querying my new novel, Nikki signed with her agent, Nicole Resciniti. I was thrilled for her, because she’d worked hard and THE HIT LIST was awesome. We celebrated, and Nikki encouraged me to keep going. I kept querying, got a bunch of requests from agents, and started working on an R&R through the summer. Nikki’s book deal with Spencer Hill Press for THE HIT LIST was announced, and I signed with my agent, Carlie Webber.

This whole time, we went back and forth with panic attacks, worries, and all the nerves. All of them. But it was crazy fun, too, working through all this with someone who was going through it, too. I went on submission with my agent in January, and Nikki whipped me back into shape during several melt-downs. Nikki got her release date, and we celebrated again, because a fall release date is a wonderful thing. In March of 2014, my agent told me I had an offer. I panicked. Nikki helped me research, weigh the pros and cons, and supported me when I decided Merit Press was exactly what I wanted. The deal was announced, I was told it would be a fall release date, and we celebrated again. I dove right into edits since it would be a fast timeline, and then I was told my firm release date.

Both THE HIT LIST and HOW WE FALL are releasing on the same day. November 11, Nikki and I become published authors, and we are thrilled to have been able to go through all the rejections and questions and celebrations of querying and our debut year together. She’s been a huge support and encouragement for me, and I’ve tried my best for her. Our first signings were even on the same day, May 30 in New York City, at Book Expo America.

Because of all this, we’ve decided we want to have our launch parties together, and you are invited! There’s nothing quite like the writer friendships you make along the way to publication, and we want you there. Watching our families and friends all over the U.S. and even all over the world come through for us with support and

He kissed her on a dare.  She told him to do it again. Their secret could tear their family apart.

He kissed her on a dare.
She told him to do it again.
Their secret might tear the family apart.

encouragement and pre-orders and all those things every one of you has done has meant the world to us, and so we want you, there, too. We know many of you can’t travel to the Midwest for our launch party, but since this day is important to us, and you being there is important to us, we have created the most wickedly awesome launch party.

November 8-11, our critique partners and closest writing friends are getting together for a writing retreat in Omaha. Writers write, right? We’re taking a break from the hectic before-release-day demands and writing all weekend with wine, chocolate, and friends. You’ll see us tweeting about it, doing word sprints online, and having fun on the #YAlaunch hashtag, and updating the event’s Facebook page with fun news. The last night of the retreat is our launch party.

Jesse, my husband and a professional videographer, is going to film and live-stream the event. All you’ll have to do is click a link to join the party. We have games to play (Book Title Scramble, Name That Cover, a make-a-bad title/bad cover competition, and more) with you on Facebook and Twitter, Q&As, and through all of it we’ll be interacting with you live. Of course, launch parties have wine and chocolate, and we’re giving that away, too!

We’re also giving away over 100 books. Yes. 100. One hundred. You’ll want to come even if you’ve never heard of us just to win awesome books! We’re giving away prize packs of our critique partners’ books, books written by our agency/publishing house friends, books that inspired our writing, and books we would just love you to read. We’re going to be releasing a list of the books we’re giving away, so keep checking in to see!

If that wasn’t enough to convince you, we’re also going to be introducing you to the awesome authors who will be on the retreat with us, and you can ask them questions and get to hear about their work! Aside from Nikki and myself, we’re thrilled to be welcoming:

Critically acclaimed Atria author Nicole Baart (THE BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS, SLEEPING IN EDEN, & more)

Quirk Books editor and author Blair Thornburgh

YA author multipublished in poetry/literary journals, Alex Yuschik

Faith writer and blogger Kelly Youngblood

YA author Delia Moran,

Entangled author Tonya Kuper (ANOMALY),

MG and YA author Kiersi Burkhart,

YA author, Month9Books editor, and sports writer Bethany Robison,

and

New York Times bestseller, Tosca Lee (THE LEGEND OF SHEBA & more from Howard Books, & the Books of Mortals series with Ted Dekker).

We’re so thrilled to have such a wonderful group of authors with us for the launch party, and we’re so grateful to all of them for their support and time and effort in coming to help us celebrate. You’ll definitely want to hear them talk about their work and get the chance to interact and have a great evening with them.

So when and how do you attend?

When: Monday, November 10, from 6-10pm central time.

Why: books, wine, chocolate, celebrating with Kate and Nikki

Where: Join the Facebook event here and watch the Twitter hashtag #YAlaunch to interact, and watch the live-stream (link to be announced).

Nikki and I would love to see you there! Our friends, families, and fellow writers have kept us going, and we would be thrilled to celebrate with you. We want this to be as much a giant book party as our launch party, so even if you don’t know us, please feel free to come and meet awesome authors and win amazing books.

Please do tell your friends, share this post, and invite others to come! The event is open to the public and we’d love your help supporting awesome authors, fantastic books, and the writing community.

See you soon!

Much love,

Kate Brauning and Nikki Urang

Tweet: Want to win 100 books? Join @KateBrauning and @NikkiUrang’s #YAlaunch party! http://ctt.ec/d3p9a+

Tweet: Want to hang out with YA authors, win books, wine, & chocolate? Join @KateBrauning & @NikkiUrang’s #YAlaunch party! http://ctt.ec/91XNf+

Tweet: Excited for YA contemps HOW WE FALL & THE HIT LIST? Join @KateBrauning & @NikkiUrang’s #YAlaunch party! http://ctt.ec/RJd9n+