Tuesday, April 23, 2019

THAT NIGHT is Coming Soon!

Just so you know I'm still alive, here's a little bit about my newest novel, THAT NIGHT, coming June 4 from Sourcebooks!

Some secrets are best left buried...
It's been a year since Hailey's boyfriend Declan died, and Hailey is still far from okay. She's lost almost all her friends, her grades are falling, and she pretty much lives wrapped up in bed. Everyone says Declan's death was a suicide―after all, his father's gun was found near his body―but Hailey knows that the happy, confident Declan she knew would never do that. She's positive. The problem is, she can't remember anything from the day he died.
Kane, Declan's stepbrother and Hailey's best friend, thinks that everyone should move on―why relive the pain? But when Hailey sees a strange picture with a threatening message amongst Declan's belongings, she's convinced she has proof that there's more to the story. Hailey starts searching for answers and throws herself into memories her subconscious tried to make her forget...and the deeper she looks, the more she remembers.
But the truth she uncovers will be more dangerous and more devastating than she could have ever imagined.

Reviews for THAT NIGHT (so far):

"A twisted, engrossing tale of relationships intermingling to disaster." - Kirkus 

"The book gives full weight to the complexities and consequences of teenage sex and obsessive relationships.” - Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

I hope you'll have a chance to read, and that if you do, you'll drop me a line and let me know what you think! Enjoy your summer vacation-- and don't forget the books!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Spring 2019 YASH Coming AT YA (See what I did there?)

Welcome to the Spring 2019 YA Scavenger Hunt!

Hello! I am Cyn Balog, your hostess for this leg of the hunt. 

About me? I'm the author of nine YA novels, my most recent one, THAT NIGHT, which Kirkus called "a twisty, engrossing tale", is coming out June 4 from Sourcebooks Fire! 

You are currently hunting on TEAM BLUE.

Looking for my exclusive bonus content? You’ll have to keep searching. Somewhere on this blog hop, I’ve hidden a behind-the-scenes look on THAT NIGHT!

Before you go looking for it, check out the amazing author I’m hosting.

But, first, a few rules.


Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on TEAM BLUE, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!) HINT: THE SECRET NUMBER IS HIGHLIGHTED IN BLUE!

ENTRY FORM: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

 RULES: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by SUNDAY, April 7, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered. On this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each participating YA author, you also get a secret number. Add up the numbers, and enter it for a chance to win a major prize–one lucky winner will receive at least one book from each author on my team in the hunt! But play fast. This contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online until noon PST on Sunday, April 7!

 There are FIVE contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the BLUE TEAM but there is also a RED TEAM, GOLD TEAM, PURPLE TEAM, & GREEN TEAM! Check out each team for a chance to win five different sets of signed books! If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

Now that all the technical stuff is out of the way, I’ll introduce the author I am hosting on this hunt. I am super excited to be hosting…

 Yvonne Ventresca! 

Yvonne is a personal friend and the sweetest gal around. I can personally recommend each and every one of her books, especially Pandemic!

About Pandemic:
In Pandemic, only a few people know what caused Lilianna Snyder's sudden change from a model student to a withdrawn pessimist who worries about all kinds of disasters. When people begin coming down with a quick-spreading illness that doctors are unable to treat, Lil’s worst fears are realized. With her parents called away on business before the contagious outbreak, Lil’s town is hit by what soon becomes a widespread fatal illness. With friends and neighbors dying around her, Lil must find a way to survive not only the outbreak and its real-life consequences, but also her own personal demons.

About Yvonne:
Yvonne Ventresca frequently explores themes of trust, deception, and betrayal in her young adult novels. She is the award-winning author of Black Flowers, White Lies (IPPY Gold Medal for YA fiction) and Pandemic (Crystal Kite Award). In addition to her young adult novels, Yvonne’s other work includes two nonfiction books and several short stories selected for anthologies. She teaches writing at her local adult school and often gives workshops about craft-related techniques. You can learn more about her books at YvonneVentresca.com, where she features resources to help other writers.

I heard Yvonne spends 13 hours a day writing, which is why her books are so amazing.

So, are you ready to hear some amazing facts about her awesome book?

Behind the Scenes: Researching Pandemic
My young adult novel, Pandemic, is a contemporary story about a teenager struggling to survive a deadly flu outbreak. Although it is set in present-day New Jersey (what would it be like if a pandemic hit suburbia tomorrow?), I spent time researching the Spanish Flu of 1918, as well as current emerging infectious diseases. 

Here are a few things I learned while researching Pandemic:

1. Because of airplane travel, germs can be transmitted almost anywhere in the world within 48 hours.
2. The influenza pandemic of 1918 is commonly called the Spanish Flu, but it didn’t originate in Spain. In March of that year, known cases occurred among soldiers in Kansas. But in June, Spain informed the world of a new disease in Madrid, and the Spanish Flu was belatedly named as it spread worldwide. It killed more Americans than all of World War I. 
3. In a time before technology, colored ribbons were placed on doorways to indicate a flu death in the household. The color of the ribbon indicated the age range of the dead. White, for example, was used for children.
4. Waterfowl are carriers of influenza viruses. The World Health Organization (WHO) calls them “natural reservoirs.”
5. Too much research can be worrisome and cause excessive hand-washing! I was able to transfer this anxiety to Lilianna, the main character in Pandemic.

To connect with Yvonne:
Facebook Author facebook.com/yvonneventrescaauthor

To buy Pandemic:

 And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me and many more!

Just check out all these books on team blue, YASH BLUE TEAM SPRING 2019!  To enter, you need to write down my favorite number, find all the other numbers on TEAM BLUE, add them up, and you’ll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

Thank you so much for visiting my website! Ready to move on to the next link in the hunt?

Then head on over to visit author Amber R. Duell's author page for more fun! Happy Hunting!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

In Defense of Ghostwriting

Have you heard of the recent #CopyPasteCris scandal? The "author" under fire for plagiarism blamed her ghostwriters from Fiverr for inserting scenes copied from over 26 authors. In response, people tweeted that ghostwriter was one smooth operator on Fiverr, who really screwed the poor, unsuspecting author over.

However, later on, several of her ghostwriters came forth to say that this writer provided her with already plagiarized scenes (unbeknownst to them) and asked them to doctor the book and make it something readable. This is what book doctors and ghostwriters do for a living-- they make the unpublishable publishable. I should know, because I am one. And this sort of thing-- that one of my clients is behaving badly-- is my worst fear.

In the wake of this scandal, I've seen quite a few people asking, "Why would anyone bother ghostwriting? You don't get your name on the book and you get paid peanuts! It's immoral! Unjust! These people should be ashamed of themselves."

Well, sure. In any business, there are unscrupulous people. It turns out, this author was to blame. But one should not call a ghostwriter unscrupulous just because she keeps her name hidden. Many beloved novels are ghostwritten and there are many reasons people choose ghostwriting. It's not always because we couldn't "make it" with books under our own name.

For me, I write YA under my own name. But I like to write in different genres. I hate marketing, so I don't want to self-publish. So I found a couple years ago that ghost-writing suited me well, complementing my traditional publishing career.

Why is that? Well, first of all, I write very fast. I can write a book a month, usually two books. Are they going to win me Pulitzers? No, but most traditionally published books that take years to write don't win them, either. With my traditional schedule, the publishers wanted a book a year. That meant I had a lot of time for hanging out and doing nothing... or writing. I decided if I could get paid for it, why not?

Secondly, it's largely impossible to make a living as a traditional author, writing one book a year. You sell your book... six months pass... you get your contract... six months pass... you finally get half of your advance, which, even for most traditional authors, isn't enough of a yearly income to sustain your career. So either you get a second job and writing becomes your "hobby", or you look for other avenues of sustaining your love for writing. Not to mention that traditional advances have fallen so much and selling books traditionally on a reliable schedule is damn hard (even though I've done it 10 years, I always think my next book will be my last). Ghostwriting pays a hell of a lot faster, and more reliably.

But how much does a ghostwriter make? Peanuts, right? Well, I had to quit my day job because I was booking ghostwriting gigs several months in advance. Note, not all of these writers want entire books; some need help doctoring their books to make them publishable. Some are people who just "have a book inside" but don't have the skills to get it out. Some got an editorial letter from a publisher and need help tackling the developmental edits. And yes, a few want full books that they can put under their name, for whatever reason (some have lost the mojo, some have trouble keeping up with demand).

Me? I usually write 1-2 full books a month (or 1 full book and 1 doctoring a month), so I write about 100,000 words a month, with a client either providing me a manuscript to doctor or a detailed plot to write from. I also write plots for people who need fresh plots to write from. My rate is .10 per word.  You can do the math. YES, there are quite a few people who inquire, wanting to pay me much less, but my time is worth more than that.

As such, I make much more ghostwriting than I do with my traditional career, especially being paid out as slowly as the big houses pay. I can actually have a career, and work from home, and make 10 times more than with my traditional "career" (which wasn't even a career, considering I had to work a full-time job I hated in order to sustain it).

Are these books I write shoddy pieces of crap? HELL NO. I put my full heart and soul into every book I write and while I don't obsess over them like I do my traditional books, I do give them my best. Yes, I write fast. I've been writing books since I was 5 and it's something I do pretty easily. But I want my clients to be happy with what I write. If I'm trying to emulate their style to fit into a canon of work, I also read their work so I can try to infuse that into their books.  I take pride in my work, because seriously... I LOVE WRITING. Love it love it love it. So frankly, all the people on their high horse saying ghostwriters are moron, no-talent wannabes... I'm sorry but that's not the case. I count myself lucky that I get to do what I love every day.

Am I cheating the reader? I don't think so. In the end, I'm about providing the end goal of an entertaining story, and not everyone will like a certain book, even if it is by a favorite author. I'm also about helping other authors that might have written themselves into a corner. I love my clients, and I consider each book we do together as a team effort, so that it's not ever MY book; it has their name all over it (literally, and figuratively as well). I want them to succeed. So if I have to help them a little in order to get them there, I will, without shame.