readergirlz is a literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize. The rgz blog serves as a depot for news and YA reviews from industry professionals and teens. As volunteers return full force to their own YA writing, the organization continues to hold one initiative a year to impact teen literacy. All are welcome to "like" us on Facebook!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cover Stories: Eve by Anna Carey

I'm a sucker for bridges. And running. And flowing hair. So the cover of Eve? Kind of up my alley. Here's Anna Carey to talk about the cover of the first book in the Eve trilogy:

"I had a vague sense of what the book might look like. The name--Eve--conjures so much. We all know Adam and Eve, and there's so much imagery associated with their story. Originally I saw the cover as having a lot of lush greenery. I sometimes saw a pale girl lost in the forest. It's funny, the book trailer captures a lot of those original images and ideas that were left behind as the cover evolved.

"The designer asked for a list of images or words that appear in the book. I can't seem to locate that list, though I'm 99% sure the designer came up with the bridge idea, which I love. It's hard to go back through your book and decide which imagery is meaningful and/or metaphorical--so much of that is folded into the manuscript unconsciously. I'm pretty certain all my suggestions were fairly basic. Thankfully she didn't put a wall or a cluster of trees on there. I don't think it would've had the same effect..."

Read the rest of Anna's Cover Story on melissacwalker.com.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cover Stories: 52 Reasons to Hate My Father

Jessica Brody has shared two previous Cover Stories here (for My Life Undecided and The Karma Club). She's back to tell the tale behind the cover of 52 Reasons to Hate My Father.

"I’m terrible at envisioning covers. So no, I didn’t really have an idea in mind. But I knew I wanted it to show the contrast of my main character’s two worlds (spoiled heiress and working girl) which I think they ended up doing really well!

"Honestly, I was surprised when I saw the cover. It was SO different from the light, pastel, girly looks of my other YA book and my publisher had told me they were going to keep with the same look. So when I opened this, I almost thought that they sent me the wrong cover! It was all edgy and kind of punk rock-ish. I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it..."

Read the rest of Jessica's Cover Story at melissacwalker.com.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Cover Stories: Personal Statement by Jason Odell Williams

Jason Odell Williams is an Emmy-nominated producer, and his first novel was just optioned for a three-picture deal. Whee! Plus, Jason tells a good Cover Story. Here he is:

"I never had a cover in mind while writing Personal Statement. I never really picture a cover or poster for any of my work (books, plays, films) until the writing is at least mostly finished. So with Personal Statement, I never had a preconceived idea; I was so focused on just finishing the manuscript.

"So once I had a solid first draft, I sat around over dinner and drinks with my publishers Carey Albertine and Saira Rao and we started brainstorming cover ideas. We thought about something hurricane-related, like a trashed backyard that could look like either the morning after a storm or a wild party. But that didn’t really say enough about the 'Personal Statement'-college application part of the book. Another idea we floated around was having a shot of the major players in some sort of pose like an album cover or action shot during the Hurricane prep, but again that felt too linear and only dealt with the volunteer aspect of the story.

"So we came up with the idea of crumpled up paper, all of these false starts when trying to write a personal statement and succinctly tell strangers at college 'who you are.' The one we had sort of settled on was the one with the can of Red Bull and the 'cover' page of a personal statement with a boot print and coffee stains on it (right). And we were pretty happy with it and were going to go with that. But Carey & Saira wanted to punch it up a little, so they asked Nick Guarracino, who had recently been brought on to do the illustrations for another book they were doing, to take a look at the cover and make it pop more.

"He read some of the book, looked at our cover, and instead of punching up the old one, he came up with 6 completely different options. My publishers looked at them all and knew right away it was the hand thrusting up from the pile of pages. They texted me the image and I took one look and was blown away. The last I knew, our cover was going to b the page with the coffee stain on it, so to then suddenly see this amazing, bright, dynamic, bold arresting cover, I was so excited and thrilled. I immediately texted back and said 'YES that’s the one.' (I may have used some profanity in my excitement... as in 'Holy SH*TBALLS that's amazing! I love it! Yes!')

"And I actually never saw these other options (left) until this week. And while the girl’s face was a close contender, there is something sad and melancholy about it that’s not quite right for the book. Also, it’s hard to put a real face (even half of a face) on a book cover. And I never liked the idea of 'casting' a character before someone reads the book. (What if the Rani on the cover doesn’t match the Rani in your head?) So in the end, I know we made the right call with the hand thrusting up from the pile of balled up pages.

"Nick told me the photo was made by taking a picture of a friend’s hand and then using photo shop to add the balled up pages and the color in the background. Then he made the hand look more feminine and ethnically ambiguous. What I like about that is then the hand becomes like a mirror… you see what you want to see. When I first saw it, I thought it was a white guy’s hand. Others see a white girl or an Asian or Indian-American girl. And now when I look at it I can't decide if it's Emily Kim's hand or Rani's. So it’s cool that the hand has that 'every-person' quality to it.

"And now, the more I look at the cover, the more I see how right it is for this book. The hand at first seemed to be simply frustrated to me, but now I also see defiance and breaking free and standing out from the crowd. The hand is coming up for air after drowning in expectation for so long. Of course, I’m reading a lot into it and people looking at the cover for the first time might never see any of that, but I think what the cover does convey, even at first glance, is a sense of being bold and explosive and exciting. It would make me stop twice if I saw it on a shelf (even a 'digital' shelf!) And for all of those reasons, I love this cover couldn't be happier!"

Monday, September 9, 2013

rgz Newsflash: Kickstart Grey Griffins: Night of Dragons and Anthology

In this new age, books are being published in so many ways. Here's a fresh example and a chance for you to participate in the launch yourself. Listen in as Jon S. Lewis shares the latest news about Grey Griffins. What caught my attention is that 100% of his profits from the accompanying anthology will go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation and Kids Need to Read.

readergirlz who write, there's an opportunity for your query letter or partial manuscript to be reviewed, a possible Skype session with Jon, and a chance your short story might be included in the final Grey Griffins Anthology. Check it out, and let us know what you think.

Best to you, Jon!

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

by Scott Altmann 

How to Unlock Stories By Bestselling Authors
I’ve been lucky enough to publish nine books with Scholastic, Little Brown, and Thomas Nelson. I hope to work with them again one day, but I’ve decided to selfpublish my next book (Grey Griffins: Night of Dragons).

According to BookStats, sales of e-book trade titles rose 44% in 2012 and e-books represent 20% of all books sold, which is up 4% from the prior year. It won’t be long before digital overtakes print.

Companies like CreateSpace have made it easy for authors to go direct to market without a publisher, which means we have the ability to take control of our careers. Look at Amanda Hocking. She  couldn’t find an agent to represent her (much less a publisher) and yet she went from an unknown commodity to a literary rock star in less than a year. Amanda isn’t alone, either. There’re authors like Hugh Howey, John Locke, Rachel Van Dyken, H.M. Ward and dozens of others who are flourishing in the new paradigm. And don’t forget Barry Eisler, who turned down a $500, 000 advance to publish his own books.

I’ve talked about publishing my own books for years but I was always worried about the stigma of being a self-published author. But everything is different now and it’s time for me to jump in.

Why I’m Going to Publish Two Books Instead of One
When I decided to self-publish I knew that I had to make a splash, so I asked some author friends if they would help me out. So while I write Grey Griffins: Night of Dragons, they’re going to write Grey Griffins short stories. We’re going to collect those stories in an anthology, which means I’ll be releasing two books instead of one. And the best part is that 100% of the profits from the anthology will go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/) and Kids Need to Read (http://www.kidsneedtoread.org/).

Check out the roster of authors who are involved:
• Brandon Mull | NY Times Bestselling Author, Fablehaven
• Aprilynne Pike | NY Times Bestselling Author, Wings
• Frank Beddor | NY Times Bestselling Author, Looking Glass Wars
• Michael Spradlin | NY Times Bestselling Author, Youngest Templar
• Dean Lorey | Co-Executive Producer, Arrested Development
• Shannon Messenger | Let the Sky Fall, Keeper of the Lost Cities
• Tom Leveen | Party, manicpixiedreamgirl, Sick
• Joseph Nassise | International Bestselling Author, Templar Chronicles
• Matt Forbeck | Leverage: The Con Job based on the TNT television series
• Janette Rallison | My Fair Godmother, Slayers

The Drawback
Each short story in the Grey Griffins anthology will be professionally edited. It will also have a cover painted by the incredibly talented Scott Altmann (http://www.scottaltmann.com/). The final product will look every bit as good as what the major publishing houses produce, but there’s a drawback. When you publish your own books you have to come up with the money to pay the artists and the editors. That’s why I’m turning to Kickstarter.

Crowdsourcing with Kickstarter
Right now those short stories are locked and they won’t be released unless I can make enough money to cover the costs of the artwork and the editorial. I want to be able to make a ton of money for those amazing causes, and here’s how you can help…

Kickstarter provides a way for you to pre-order the book and in return I’ll invest that money in the product. And trust me, I know what it means to have a tight budget. It’s why I made sure the pledge levels started at $1. There are some fun rewards, too, like custom Grey Griffins short stories, collectible character trading cards and sketches from the cover artist. For the writers out there, we’re offering the chance for a query letter review, a partial manuscript review, and even a Skype brainstorm session where I’ll help you come up with ideas for your story. You can help fund the Kickstarter campaign here. http://kck.st/1aXVQQC

You Can Even Get Your Story Published in the Grey Griffins Anthology
Because I also have a passion for helping new writers break into the industry I thought the best way to do that with this project was to give someone a chance to get a short story published in the anthology. Your story will end up in the same book with all those New York Times bestselling authors. If it sounds like something you’re interested in, you can find the submission guidelines here: bit.ly/gg-anthology.

Thank you
Thanks for taking the time to read this and for your consideration to back the Kickstarter campaign. I’m going to need your help to make this project a reality, and I know that together we can do something incredible!

Photo by Scott Mitchell

Jon Samuel Lewis is an American writer best known for the acclaimed Grey Griffins series published by Scholastic’s Orchard Books. After selling nearly a million copies in the original trilogy, Lewis and his writing partner, Derek Benz teamed with Little Brown to publish the Grey Griffins Clockwork Chronicles. He is also the author of CHAOS Novels, a young adult urban science fiction series published by Thomas Nelson and has written for DC Comics. Lewis is also a marketing executive and content strategist who works with Fortune 500 companies on their digital marketing strategies.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Cover Stories: Mirror, Mirror by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

Diana Rodriguez Wallach has a fast-releasing trilogy of stories coming out this fall, and each has a different cover. Here's the story of #1, and the full-series cover:

"I told my publisher that I really wanted a mirror in all of my covers. I wanted that to be the element that tied the series together visually.

"My release is a little different from your average book. Reflecting Emmy is the first short story in my Mirror, Mirror trilogy. Each of my short stories—Reflecting Emmy, Nara Gazing, and Shattering GiGi—will be released individually as ebooks in September, October, and November, respectively. Then they will be compiled together to create the Mirror, Mirror trilogy, with an additional short story prequel and bonus material, to be released in December.

"So if you add it all together, that’s a whopping FOUR different covers for this series..."

Read the full Cover Story at melissacwalker.com.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Cover Stories: Timepiece by Myra McEntire

I have long been a fan of Myra McEntire's gorgeous cover for Hourglass, and Timepiece is just as lovely. Here's Myra to share her perspective:

"I loved the Hourglass cover so much (below right), and I hoped my publisher would stick with that photographer. There was an original image I didn’t think did the story justice, and when I expressed my concerns, they listened..."

Read the rest of Myra's story at melissacwalker.com.