Photo credit: Kristi Hedberg PhotographyHello! I'm a young adult book writer living in Asheville, NC. My debut novel, THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER, is the first in a Gothic trilogy coming January 29, 2013 from Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins. I am represented by Josh Adams of Adams Literary.

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Saturday
Jun022012

Blog Give-Away Winner Announced!

Last night I hit over 500 followers on Twitter! Thanks everyone for participating and for your support and enthusiasm for The Madman's Daughter. Without further ado, the winner of a copy of ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD is:

Leigh-Ann!

Leigh-Ann, please email your address to MeganHShepherd@gmail.com and I'll send you the book. Congrats! 

The next contest will be when I reveal my cover in just a few weeks, and this contest will be international, so be sure to check back!

Friday
Jun012012

Cover Reveals

Cool cover news...The Madman's Daughter cover will be going public on June 18! That's less than 3 weeks away! I first saw the cover about a month ago, and I loved it right away. It's got the perfect Gothic, creepy, romantic feel. The wonderful Young Adult Book Central blog is going to exclusively reveal the cover, and then I'll post it here shortly after.

Even cooler news is that my writing friend and fellow Friday the Thirteener, Ellen Oh, is revealing the cover of her debut book, Prophecy, on the same day! So we decided to do a double cover reveal, complete with ARC giveaways and other fun stuff. Prophecy sounds fantastic, and I've gotten a sneak glimpse of the cover, and you're going to love it too.

I also wanted to share that two of our other Friday the Thirteener friends have already revealed their covers. Here is Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger:

Seventeen-year-old Vane Weston is the only survivor of the category five tornado that killed his parents. Every night since the storm, a beautiful, dark-haired girl has swept through his dreams. She's the only clue to his past, and he clings to the hope that she's real.

Audra is real, but she's also a sylph. An air elemental. She walks on the wind, can translate its alluring songs, and can even twist it into a weapon. She's also a guardian--Vane's guardian--and has sworn an oath to protect him at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her own life.

When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra must help Vane remember who he is. He has a power to claim--the secret language of the West Wind, which only he can understand. But unlocking his heritage will also unlock a memory Audra wishes could be erased. And as the storm bears down on them she starts to realize the greatest danger might not be the warriors coming to destroy them, but the forbidden romance that's grown between them.

Set amongst the desert airstreams of Coachella Valley in California, and alive with wonderful wind-swept prose, LET THE SKY FALL is about two teenagers broken by their pasts, divided by their futures, and bound by love.

And also the cool cover for Dualed by Elsie Chapman:

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.

Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.

Wednesday
May302012

First Ever Blog Give-Away!

I'm a big fan of Twitter, and last time I checked I was shocked that I almost have 500 followers! 490, to be exact. So when I hit 500, I think that deserves a give-away contest. Here's what you can win:

A HARDBACK COPY OF ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD!

Here's all you have to do. If you don't already follow me on Twitter, do so here. Then, just leave me a comment on this blog post with a recommendation for a good book--YA, MG, adult, nonfiction--because my to-be-read pile is actually low for once and I love getting good recommendations. That's it! So, so easy, and your chances of winning are super good. When I hit 500 followers, I'll pick a random winner from Random.org and announce the winner here and send them their book.

And if you haven't heard of ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD, I think you will adore it as much as I did. It's a modern-day ghost story with romance and terror and gorgeous writing.

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead. 

So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home. And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.

Thursday
May242012

Getting in the Writing Mood

I wrote a blog post today for The Lucky 13s about how I get in the writing mood, including inspiring images, music, and movies. You can read it here. Also, there's a shirtless picture of Christian Bale. Just sayin'. 

And did you know I have an author Facebook page? It's where I post news about The Madman's Daughter, new blog posts, random writerly tidbits, and whatever else I feel like is relevant to share with the writing/reading world. You can like it here.

Monday
May212012

On Writing Series

If you’ve dropped by the young adult or children’s section of a bookstore any time in the last few years, you might have noticed the shelves are dominated by series. Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, Percy Jackson, Wimpy Kid, and I could go on and on. Series are great because readers can live in the fictional world longer and continue the stories of their favorite characters. It’s also great for publishers and writers because they bring a built-in audience for future books and more real estate on bookstore shelves.

But writing series is tricky, especially if you’re a new writer. It’s hard enough to get published, but to have a publisher sign an untested author for 3, 4, 12 books…they are taking a major chance. This is why most writing advice is to focus on a single book, not a series. This way, a writer doesn’t waste years writing sequels that might never sell. Then, if the publishing house likes the first book, they might be willing to consider expanding it.

This is what happened to me. I wrote The Madman’s Daughter as a stand-alone title. I like books (even books in series) to have a satisfying conclusion and not just drop off in a mid-page cliffhanger. But when I finished The Madman’s Daughter, I realized the characters’ story had only begun. So with my agent and editor, I drafted a plan for a second and third book in the series. I’m working on the second book now, and I love taking these characters on to even bigger adventures.

But series are challenging to write. Writers take years to study plot arcs and character arcs and how to tie everything together at the climax. But when you have a series or trilogy, each book must have its own arc, and then the series as a whole must also have an arc. This was tough for me to wrap my brain around.

One thing I did to understand how to craft series is to study TV shows. Each season (heck, each episode too) must have its own storyline that feeds in to the overarching series’ storyline. Take Dexter, for example. The overarching plot arc is a serial killer who kills other serial killers. Will he be caught? Will he be able to cure himself and live a normal life? These questions have run through all six seasons. But each individual season has its own unique story, too. In Season 1, the plot is for Dexter to pursue the Ice Truck Killer, with whom he has a personal connection. In Season 2, it’s Dexter’s attempts to cover his tracks as someone discovers where he hides his victims. In Season 3, it’s Dexter’s shaky friendship with a district attorney. Though each of these plots is new, they all feed back to the overarching plot and character struggles. This is basically genius. Kudos, Dexter writers. (Also, when is season 7 coming out??)