Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Blog Tour + Guest Post + Giveaway - The Looking Glass by Jessica Arnold

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Title: The Looking Glass
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Month9Books
Author: Jessica Arnold

Find the diary, break the curse, step through The Looking Glass!

Fifteen-year-old Alice Montgomery wakes up in the lobby of the B&B where she has been vacationing with her family to a startling discovery: no one can see or hear her. The cheap desk lights have been replaced with gas lamps and the linoleum floor with hardwood and rich Oriental carpeting. Someone has replaced the artwork with eerie paintings of Elizabeth Blackwell, the insane actress and rumored witch who killed herself at the hotel in the 1880s. Alice watches from behind the looking glass where she is haunted by Elizabeth Blackwell. Trapped in the 19th-century version of the hotel, Alice must figure out a way to break Elizabeth’s curse—with the help of Elizabeth's old diary and Tony, the son of a ghost hunter who is investigating the haunted B&B— before she becomes the inn's next victim.

About the Author
Jessica Arnold writes YA, codes ebooks, and is currently a graduate student in publishing at Emerson College in Boston. She spends most of her time in class or work or slogging through the homework swamp. If she has a spare moment, she’s always up for a round of Boggle. Given the opportunity, Jessica will pontificate at length on the virtues of the serial comma, when and where to use an en dash, and why the semicolon is the best punctuation mark pretty much ever.

Author Links: 

My Journey to Publish (and the Stuff I’ve Learned Along the Way) 

I decided to become an author the way I make most of my important life decisions—on the spur of the moment. When I was little, I swore I'd grow up to be ANYTHING BUT an author. Then one day I woke up and thought, "Hey, I should write a book." Rational? Hardly. But no one has ever claimed that people who put themselves through the madness of trying to publish are particularly same.

The first book I wrote was a Harry Potter knockoff and it was HORRIBLE. I hate to admit this to people, because nowadays looking back at that manuscript makes me want to claw my eyeballs out. But yes, I wrote a bad Harry Potter rip-off and I (shudder) queried it to many, many agents and am rightly ashamed. Some people manage to write incredible novels right off the bat. I required significantly more practice. 

Publishing lesson #1: Your first manuscript may be truly awful. And that’s TOTALLY FINE. Write another one. 

After it occurred to me that maybe there was a good reason why no agent was interested in my first book, I decided to try again. Over the next two years, I wrote book attempts two, three, and four—at least one of which (I will swear to this day) is decent, but none of which met with much enthusiasm when I shipped them off to agents. Thankfully the King of Swamp Castle in Monty Python and the Holy Grail sums up this part of the story quite nicely:

When I first came here, this was all swamp. Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built it all the same, just to show them. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up! 

Publishing lesson #2: Your second, third, and fourth manuscripts may also be terrible. 

Don’t panic. Keep writing. And don’t abandon the swamp.

In this case, it was the fifth manuscript that stayed up. It was called The Looking Glass, and sadly it was inspired by the tragic death of my roommate’s niece, who drowned in a swimming pool. She was kept alive on life support for a few days, much as Alice’s body is kept alive in The Looking Glass while she searches for a way to break a deadly curse. I also happened to be reading “The Yellow Wallpaper” in one of my courses at the time, which heavily influenced the character Elizabeth’s mental decline.

I’m not one to let a project linger unfinished, so I wrote the first draft of The Looking Glass in three weeks. I’m also not overly burdened with patience, so I sent that draft off long before it was in any shape to be queried. 

Publishing lesson #3: Polishing your work before sending it out really does pay off. Otherwise you’ll be relying mostly on luck. 

And I got lucky, even though I didn’t realize it at first.

Carrie Pestritto, who was the assistant to another agent at the time, read my manuscript and liked it. Although the agent she worked for ultimately rejected it, a YEAR later I received an email from her totally out of the blue. Carrie was now an agent at Prospect Agency and still remembered my manuscript. She wanted to take another look at it—if I didn’t have representation yet. I didn’t, she did, and a week later (on my birthday, no less), she offered representation.

I certainly didn’t have to think very hard about that. And Carrie has been my wonderful agent ever since.

After signing with Carrie, she and I worked for many months to revise the (still quite rough) manuscript. Finally, it was in good enough shape to submit to publishers. Month9Books ended up bidding on it, and I’ve been lucky enough to have the chance to work with their team getting the book ready to publish. It’s been a long … long … long … long process. It has been work. It has been worth it. That said … 

Publishing lesson #4: You will never stop worrying. So don't worry about it. 

I used to think that, once I had an agent, the skies would clear and it would be smooth sailing from that point on. Then I got an agent, and I decided that once I had a publishing contract—then, then I would be carefree and happy and gambol through meadows in the sunshine. After the book contract, I decided that—no—everything would truly be ok as soon as I finished revisions. And now that the book is being published, I’m gnawing my fingernails sure that if everyone will just love the stupid book for goodness’ sake, I can finally relax.

But the fact is that by creating art—by putting something you love out into the world, you make the decision to be vulnerable. You’ll always be worried that someone will throw a
rotten tomato. And eventually you hope you’ll learn to accept the tomato in the face and smile, because you love what you do. And friends, if you love to write, it is worth it. And I’ve always liked tomatoes anyway.

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