Sunday, November 2, 2014

Naked & Afraid... BUT PUBLISHED!

Yes, yes. I’m still here, don’t get your hopes up. Something about a 40 hour work week on top of a writing career makes blog posts startlingly more difficult to find time for. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, though, you’ve heard that my debut novel is finally out! That’s right! You can now purchase Zhukov’s Dogs and digest what all these rambling posts have led up to!

I recently had the pleasure of writing a guest post for Robyn over at Project Nemesis, in which I detailed the long trek up to this release – the way time blurs from the moment you start riding the dizzying, sometimes surreal, high into the world of publishing – and offered advice to those attempting to juggle a day job with their publishing high or dreams of reaching one. Since I know at least one person reading this blog meets those requirements, I thought I'd extrapolate on that advice a bit more here.

  1. It’s Going to Be Stressful

    This one should be obvious to even the finest of multitaskers. There are only so many hours in the day, and since we can’t all be Time Lords, things like sleep and yoga slip through the cracks. Often.

    Breathe through it and practice moderation on all fronts, because you don’t want to burn out and end up hating either of your full-time gigs. If you already hate your day job, you've got an advantage over most, as that hate serves as an excellent motivator for writing a novel successful enough to get you out of there.

  2. Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself

    Be smart. A manuscript, no matter how confident you are in it, likely won’t pay the bills all by itself. As lovely as it would be if our final word-counts matched our annual salaries, it doesn’t work that way. You can dream about quitting your day job, but make sure you get out of bed for it in the morning.

  3. You’re Going to Have to Make Difficult Choices

    I’m not just talking about deciding whether or not you get a full 8 hours every night. I was lucky when I was writing the first draft of Zhukov’s Dogs because I didn’t have the day job going at the time, school was easy (yup, I was studying English), and my then-boyfriend/now-fiancĂ© was incredibly supportive, both financially and emotionally.

    I started juggling two professions after my agent sold the manuscript in early 2014, and I quickly realized neither was getting the attention it deserved. It’s a hard truth that still makes me sad when I think about it, and on more than one occasion I’ve had to ask myself which is more important. All I can say is it's a good thing my boss went through the publishing process himself not too long ago and is super understanding because of it.

  4. You’ll Be NAKED

    Yup. Naked. I’m not sure how else to describe this sensation of knowing my friends, family, and coworkers will soon be reading my work. At least for me, feedback from strangers is perfectly fine, but what about all of these people I see on a daily basis? The next time I give a presentation or throw a party, it’s possible half the room will have glimpsed into the world I built, and I find that simultaneously terrifying and thrilling.

    This unease is especially bothersome because I'm a confident, extroverted individual in the day-to-day world. I like to think it will go away as time goes on, but as of today, I don't think I could handle a face-to-face review of my work. Imagine we're sitting at coffee and you want to talk about Zhukov's Dogs. Give you a synopsis? Sure. Explain what went into the publishing process? Bring it on. A general "loved your book" doesn't even bother me, but you mention specifics like "that one scene in that one place between those two, I mean I just..." and suddenly there's a fascinating spot on the tiles beneath the table I MUST investigate up close.

    Although I opted against it, I encourage everyone who’s ambling down the publishing path (with or without a 9 to 5) to seriously consider the levels of exposure that come with plastering your name on a book. There are benefits to pen names.

  5. It. Will. Be. Awesome.

    If you press through to the high – through the drafts, revisions, queries and rejections – all the sacrifices and stress will suddenly make sense. Writing is a labor of love, and if it’s something you’re passionate about, regardless of where you are in your life, pursue it to its end. Sleep can wait when there’s a story to be told.

Monday, September 15, 2014

COVER REVEAL: Zhukov's Dogs

Today's the day! Presenting the cover for my debut novel, Zhukov’s Dogs, a new age dystopian available October 27, 2014 in both paperback and e-book formats from Curiosity Quills Press.

And now a bit about the book (for all you lovely people squinting to read the jacket designed by the amazing Alexandria Thompson):

A good dog doesn’t ask questions, especially when The Council holds their leash.

Lieutenant Colonel Nik Zhukov never disappoints—never questions the orders given to him—even as each mission further reveals how corrupt his handlers are. For the sake of national security, the desensitized prodigy pretends he’s just like any other seventeen-year-old living in the year 2076. At least until it comes time to pull the trigger.

On the verge of promotion, Nik is dispatched to the underground city beneath the icy Seattle tundra. What should’ve been a simple bit of recon is complicated by the underground’s dark secrets. He soon finds himself treated as an equal and swept into battles alongside the misfit revolutionaries he was sent to spy on. Their gray-eyed leader isn’t fooled by his ruse, though, and as Nik worms his way into their lives, he unknowingly breaks the number one rule within his ranks.

He allows himself to feel normal. It’s a mistake he pays for dearly when he learns The Council’s true intentions for Seattle.

For more information, please visit the Goodreads page for Zhukov’s Dogs. You can also follow Amanda’s rambling about her literary adventures on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Please share and remember to be awesome!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Grown-Up Problems

Dearest readers,

I am secretly 12. Well, not really, but that's the the disclaimer I often find myself attaching to the everyday. If I didn't have a job, bills, and a dwindling metabolism, I assure you I'd be doing nothing but playing video games, building LEGO towers, and immersing myself in the fictional worlds I create while hunched over a keyboard. Life is hard at 23, and 24 is rapidly approaching.

This year, I traded a freelance career for a big-girl job with an Internet conglomerate, starting out as a coordinator in the content department then climbing my way into management. I love my big-girl job. I love the 9 to 5, the people I work with, the projects I'm working on, and how much I've grown as a writer and editor since taking the job. The only drawback is that it cuts into my personal writing time. I knew that would be an issue going into the grown-up world, but I've been forcing myself to dedicate at least half an hour to creative writing every day. Sometimes, all that comes out during that half hour is "blaaaaagh, I'm too tired for this nonsense," though, so some days are better than others.

That said, I'm buckling down -- I'm determined to have Book Number Two finished within the next three months. Given my current word count, that roughly translates to writing a minimum of 500 words/day. Totally doable now that I'm in crunch mode. I'm pushing to do closer to a minimum 800 words/day so I have ample time to edit within the 90-day period.

We'll see how this goes. During the final two-week haul for Zhukov's Dogs, my immune system kindly requested I go fuck myself and took a long holiday that ended with me in the hospital. I wasn't working full-time back then either, so I expect Book Number Two will likely kill me. When I'm gone, dearest readers, please use my tragic death as an excuse to buy more copies of my books.

As a closing thought: Book Number Two finally has a title! It will probably change, but for now, I'm calling it The Spark. It's a delightful blend of fantasy, sci-fi, and action that's neatly wrapped up in the New Age genre, and I can't wait to share it with you.

Monday, June 9, 2014


It’s cover reveal day for Vicki Leigh’s CATCH ME WHEN I FALL! Lots of awesome stuff going on, including a giveaway! But first, here's a special message from Vicki:

And here's what CATCH ME WHEN I FALL is all about:

Recruited at his death to be a Protector of the Night, seventeen-year-old Daniel Graham has spent two-hundred years fighting Nightmares and guarding humans from the clawed, red-eyed creatures that feed off people’s fears. Each night, he risks his eternal life, having given up his chance at an afterlife when he chose to become a Protector. That doesn’t stop a burnt-out Daniel from risking daring maneuvers during each battle. He’s become one of the best, but he wants nothing more than to stop.

Then he’s given an assignment to watch over sixteen-year-old Kayla Bartlett, a clinically depressed patient in a psychiatric ward. Nightmares love a human with a tortured past. Yet, when they take a deep interest in her, appearing in unprecedented numbers, the job becomes more dangerous than any Daniel’s ever experienced. He fights ruthlessly to keep the Nightmares from overwhelming his team and Kayla. Soon, Daniel finds himself watching over Kayla during the day, drawn to why she’s different, and what it is about her that attracts the Nightmares. And him.

A vicious attack on Kayla forces Daniel to break the first Law and reveal his identity. Driven by his growing feelings for her, he whisks her away to Rome where others like him can keep her safe. Under their roof, the Protectors discover what Kayla is and why someone who can manipulate Nightmares has her in his sights. But before they can make a move, the Protectors are betrayed and Kayla is kidnapped. Daniel will stop at nothing to save her. Even if it means giving up his immortality.

CATCH ME WHEN I FALL will be available on October 23, 2014 in both paperback and e-book formats from Curiosity Quills Press. For more information, visit the book’s Goodreads page.

Now, there can’t be a cover reveal without a giveaway, right? Lots of authors stopped by and donated some fantastic books to help Vicki celebrate. You don’t want to miss out on these! Here’s what you can win:

  • An e-copy of CATCH ME WHEN I FALL by Vicki Leigh
  • A submission package critique (query+synopsis+first chap) from Vicki Leigh
  • An e-copy of HEIRS OF WAR by Mara Valderran
  • Two query+first chapter critiques from YA author Emily Stanford
  • A full manuscript critique from YA author Emily Stanford
  • An e-copy of WITHOUT BLOODSHED by Matthew Graybosch
  • A paperback of DESTRUCTION by Sharon Bayliss
  • An e-copy of KIYA: HOPE OF THE PHARAOH by Katie Teller
  • One query+first chapter critique from YA author Katie Teller
  • An e-copy of DARKNESS WATCHING by Emma Adams
  • A copy of DESCENDANT by Nichole Giles
  • An e-copy package of EVER and EVADE by Jessa Russo
  • A signed copy of DIVIDE by Jessa Russo
  • A copy of UNHINGED by A.G. Howard

Enter the giveaway below for your chance to win! All prizes will be accompanied by a Dreamcatcher swag package from Vicki Leigh.

Thanks for stopping by!

About Vicki:

Adopted at three-days-old by a construction worker and a stay-at-home mom, Vicki Leigh grew up in a small suburb of Akron, Ohio where she learned to read by the age of four and considered being sent to her room for punishment as an opportunity to dive into another book. By the sixth grade, Vicki penned her first, full-length screenplay. If she couldn’t be a writer, Vicki would be a Hunter (think Dean and Sam Winchester) or a Jedi. Her favorite place on earth is Hogwarts (she refuses to believe it doesn’t exist), and her favorite dreams include solving cases alongside Sherlock Holmes.

Vicki is an editor for Curiosity Quills Press, a co-founder of The Writer Diaries, and is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.

You can find Vicki at her website and blog and on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, and Goodreads.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

"Is It Even the Same Book?"

First-round revisions of ZHUKOV'S DOGS were sent back to my editor this morning at 4:30 a.m.

No, I do not sleep. Ever.

Unhealthy insomnia patterns aside, I want to share a story. Since my fiance has been working nights and I days, we rarely see each other. I've been waking up when he gets home around 7:00 a.m. so we can do breakfast/dinner, catch up on the last 24 hours of madness and walk the polar bears. When I mentioned my first-round of revisions were nearly complete he asked:

"Is it even the same book?"

At first I didn't understand, because of course it was the same book. He listed off a few of the revision requests I'd had since the original manuscript was completed, though, and that got me wondering. How much had changed?

I dug through my Zhukov folder (because I am one of those crazy ones that has a folder for everything, and each folder has multiple subfolders) for the original version. The oldest completed version I have is from May 14th, 2012. It was definitely completed at least a month prior to that, but I can't find a specific record. This original version is a modest 85K words in length, lacks two very significant characters, one very crucial plot point, and features multiple scenes that don't actually yield to the overarching story in a profound way. I really loved it at the time, though, and looking back on it makes me all nostalgic. It also helps me see what the fiance was getting at.

The first-round revisions I sent in this morning were more like the sixth-round. Prior to this revision, I hired a professional editor, had a publishing house request extensive revision, received a revision request from my now-agent, and received a minor revision request from my now-house's acquiring editor.

My point: a lot of work goes into a book. All the aforementioned people helped strengthen my book, brought in elements that made it something I can't wait to share with the world, and believed in me. Consider this my informal "thank you for helping me make the same book a billion times better" until the Acknowledgement page is printed.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Book Number Two

I hate to say there's an upside to my fiance working nights, but there kind of is. I always did my best writing in the evening hours. Now that Boeing is driving him like a brilliant slave between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. I'm making tons of progress on Book Number Two! It's a win-lose situation though. I'm thrilled with my word count and depressed by my lack of cuddles. Woe the life.

Speaking of Book Number Two (as it will henceforth be known until I come up with a better title), I have a question. Is it strange to know the exact ending of your novel 40K words before it happens?

Technically, I figured out the ending closer to 60K before it happens, which is just absurd to me. Anytime I've taken on a project of this size I've always had a general idea of where I wanted things to end, but as I've mentioned before, I am NOT a fan of outlining or setting things in stone. I prefer to let stories pan out in front of me with very little concrete framework. The story always seems to flow better that way. Plus, remaining lucid helps me step back and reassess the big question of "What's the worst thing I can do to my character right now?"

This time is different, though, and it bothers me!

Let me preface my frustration so I seem slightly less insane. Book Number Two is a first for me in more ways than one.
  1. My main character is an adult with adult problems, not an older teen with adult problems.
  2. My setting is 100% real. Modern day Seattle. Nothing fanciful. No floating kingdoms or underground cities.
  3. My genre is mystery/sci-fi. Mystery. Yes. Serial killer, handsome detective, intrigue and the whole lot.
At a glance that sounds like a pretty straight-forward book, aside from that sneaky little sci-fi bit I slipped in at the end there. That's where things get interesting. I do not write straight-forward books. Remember that.

My main character is an adult with adult problems. He's also a witch doctor born to a family of practical surgeons, suffers from PTSD and sarcasm, and is a recovering addict who surrounds himself with organic/semi-illegal drugs on a daily basis.

My setting is 100% real. Seattle is my city and I love it, as does my main character. We both recognize its petals, thorns and oddities. Better yet, we're both eager to show off it's true colors -- not just the copious amounts of gray.

My genre is mystery/sci-fi. I'm loving it... except for the fact I know who the killer is (or is it killers?) how they did it, why they did it and who their next victims are. Ugh. I know, don't complain. I was the one who decided this would be a good idea. It is a good idea, a great one even, I just kind of wish I'd gotten to enjoy the mystery side of it all.

I've rambled long enough I think. Here, have the first sentence of Book Number Two as a thank-you-for-listening.
Some men spent their Saturday mornings reading the paper, lazing about in their shorts as they debated whether or not the lawn could go another week without mowing—others spent it hacking their way out of a giant iguana's small intestine.

It's Official

...Well, technically it's been official for nearly two months and I'm just terrible at blogging.

I'm getting published!!! (too many exclamation points, I know Kimberley)

My debut novel, ZHUKOV'S DOGS, was taken in by Curiosity Quills Press on January 22nd, 2014. Since then I've completed first-round revisions, graphics sheets, marketing plans and created an official author Facebook page. Currently I'm waiting to hear back about revisions to see if more are necessary or if we can move forward with the new version. There were no major changes to the original manuscript, merely mention of something important slightly earlier to prevent too extreme of a 'huh, what?' moment at the end.

Now then, I must be off to sleep because I've recently taken on a grown up job that requires me to be up by 8 a.m. five days a week. Yaaaaaay. Check back tomorrow for details about Book #2. Here's a hint: witch doctor.