Cover reveal & giveaway: STARS SO SWEET!

NOTE: The ARC giveaway is now closed, and winners have been announced. Thank you for entering!

Hey there! Guess what you’ll be able to find on…Sale

…next summer?

Hint: This young restaurant critic is involved.
Gladys

And so is a visitor from a certain European city…French treats

Give up? Okay–reveal time!
STARS SO SWEET by Tara Dairman

Stars So Sweet

an All Four Stars book, coming July 19, 2016!
ISBN-13: 978-1-101-99648-5

Summer is winding down, and Gladys Gatsby’s stomach is full of butterflies about starting middle school. But her concerns go beyond juggling schoolwork and losing touch with old friends; she also has to worry about looming deadlines from her undercover job as the New York Standard’s youngest restaurant critic.

When her editor pushes for a face-to-face meeting, Gladys knows she must finally come clean to the grown-ups in her life about her job. Her perfectly planned reveal is put on hold, though, when her parents arrive home with a surprise: Gladys’s aunt Lydia—one of the only adults who knows her secret—fresh off a plane from Paris. Gladys and Aunt Lydia try one last ruse to fool her editor at the Standard, but for how long will Gladys be able to balance the drama of middle school with her secret life?

This third book in the delicious All Four Stars series sees Gladys facing her biggest challenge yet: being true to herself and honest with her friends and family, regardless of what those around her think.

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Huge thanks to the Penguin Young Readers design team, and as always to brilliant cover artist Kelly Murphy, who has captured Gladys so perfectly in this cover!

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You can now preorder Stars So Sweet from the following vendors:

Penguin *  AmazonBook Depository (International)

…and it should be available from many more retailers within the next month. Please consider supporting your local independent bookstore (find one here) by preordering the book from them. And, of course, if you’re in Colorado or New York, I hope to see you at a launch event next summer!

And you can add Stars So Sweet to your to-read shelf on GoodReads!

Giveaway alert!

TWO lucky commenters on this post will win their choice of either a signed hardcover of The Stars of Summer OR an advance copy of Stars So Sweet.

Leave a comment on this post if you’d like to enter, and you can earn extra entries by signing up for my e-mail newsletter and/or by tweeting about the giveaway.

Here’s a sample tweet you can use:

Check out the cover for STARS SO SWEET, third book in ‘s ALL FOUR STARS series, & win an ARC! http://wp.me/p1VIEB-Tz 

Just let me know in your comment if you’ve signed up for the newsletter (either now or in the past) and/or tweeted. And feel free to share this cover far and wide. I hope you love it as much as I do!

The book can be sent to a mailing address in the USA or Canada. I’ll announce a winner one week from today, on Thursday, November 5.

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Last stop on the MSFV Success Story Blog Tour: Meet David Kazzie and win his e-book!

Well, what was hopefully only the first Annual Authoress’s Success Story blog tour is winding down with today’s post, the last in the series. But last is certainly not least, and I am thrilled to be interviewing author David Kazzie! David is also generously offering commenters a chance to win a copy of his Kindle e-book, The Jackpot (details below).

The Blog Tour
Those of us who have owed our publishing successes, at least in part, to the Miss Snark’s First Victim (MSFV) contests and blog have decided to come together and help cross-promote each other’s work. Every day in the first two weeks of August, a different author has posted an interview of one of our fellow Success Stories. You can find a list with links to all the previous interviews at the bottom of this post.

The Author
David Kazzie is a novelist and lawyer in Richmond, where he lives with his family. His self-published debut novel, The Jackpot, has sold more than 11,000 copies since January and spent nine days on Amazon’s Top 100 Kindle Bestseller List, peaking at No. 34. He is the author of several short animated videos, including “So You Want to Write a Novel,” which have more than 2 million YouTube hits. He is represented by the Ann Rittenberg Literary Agency.

The Interview

1) How did the MSFV blog help you get to where you are now?

I’ve been reading Authoress’s blog for a few years now (long before I signed with my agent) and participated in a couple of her contests and critique sessions. Although I never won a Secret Agent contest, I found the feedback to be super helpful, and I think it helped strengthen my writing. It’s also great to be part of such a supportive community of writers, especially since writing can be such a lonely slog. All writers should be reading her blog and participating in the contests. (Plus, I want to be there the day she reveals her true identity! I’m pretty sure I’ve narrowed down her location to somewhere east of the Mississippi River!)

2) Your first novel, The Jackpot, is a legal thriller that has been a top 100 Amazon Kindle bestseller. Can you tell us a bit about it?

The Jackpot is the story of a young lawyer whose new client has won a gigantic lottery jackpot, and her quest to return the winning ticket to its rightful owner after her financially desperate boss steals the ticket for himself. I thought it was a really cool premise, and I liked watching the characters struggle with the temptation of such a big fortune in front of them, right there for the taking. The story was also conducive to a lot of mayhem, which was very fun to write.

3) I know that self-publishing has been a wild ride for you. For anyone who is thinking about trying it, what’s your most important piece of advice?

Is it OK if I give several? First, work hard to put out your very best product. That means don’t half-ass the cover or the editing or the formatting (for E-book editions). Readers do notice bad covers, bad writing, bad editing, and they (rightfully) punish authors for it. You don’t want to get a sudden burst of sales and then find reviewers slamming you with low ratings on Amazon (I see it happen all the time) because your book is riddled with typos or weak writing or what have you.

Second, don’t expect instant riches or sales just because you saw Amanda Hocking or J.A. Konrath get rich self-publishing. For the first eight months my book was for sale, I sold less than 300 copies. I’ve been to the badlands of the super-low Kindle rankings, and it’s not a fun place to be, but it’s almost certain that you will spend time there. It wasn’t until January 2012 that my book really took off. Also, be prepared to write several books before you see a lot of sales (I’m told that my experience of hitting the Top 100 with a first book was a bit of an anomaly – this sort of worries me in that I may never duplicate its success).

Third, be willing to take chances and try new things to market your book. You’ll quickly discover what works and doesn’t work (hint: spamming people on Twitter DOES NOT work, ever). My book took off because I took a chance with Amazon’s KDP Select program fairly early on. Don’t wait to see if something works for someone else first, because invariably, if you wait, everyone else will be trying it too, and that hot new marketing tool will be yesterday’s news.

Fourth, understand that there is a portion of the writing community that still looks down on self-publishing. Some people care about this. I did not (although I still do hope to see a book I wrote on a bookstore shelf somewhere. Old dreams die hard).

4) In addition to being a novelist, you’re the creator of the hilarious viral video “So you want to write a novel” (as well as several others). Have you always been something of a humor writer? And does this humor tend to show up in your fiction?

I didn’t start out looking to write humor, but I found that I was probably better at it than some other forms of writing. It’s quite a bit harder to keep it up for a full-length manuscript than in the short script format of the videos, but I do try to include some humorous elements in all my work. Also, I think writing humor taught me not to hold anything back in any form when writing. That’s probably been the most valuable takeaway – it helped me deepen characters, expand plots, and really get into the guts of a story. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

5) According to your blog, you’re working on a new book. Can you tell us anything about it? And when it’s done, do you plan to self-publish again, or will you and your agent try pitching it to traditional publishers this time around?

A boy has to have some secrets, so I will keep the details of the book under wraps for now. As for the traditional/self-publishing route, I will say I am open to all options. I’d love the chance to work with a publisher, if the right opportunity came along. If I self-published, there’s no guarantee that my second book would do anywhere near as well as my first. Also, it was a heck of a lot of work to self-publish The Jackpot. It would be great to get professional assistance with cover design, editing, and marketing. But if no publisher wants to buy the book, then I’m happy that self-publishing will be there as an option.

Thanks so much, David!

The Giveaway
If you’d like to enter to win a copy of David’s novel The Jackpot for Kindle, all you have to do is leave a comment below! (And if you don’t have a Kindle, fear not–you can still read it using a free Kindle ap on your computer, phone, or tablet.) I’ll draw a random winner at midnight EST on Friday, August 17.

The Rest of Us
Missed part of the blog tour? You can find all of the previous interviews at these blogs.

Name Website Twitter Posting Date
David Kazzie wahoocorner.blogspot.com @davidkazzie 1-Aug
Leigh Talbert Moore www.leightmoore.com @leightmoore 2-Aug
J.Anderson Coats www.jandersoncoats.com @jandersoncoats 3-Aug
J.M. Frey www.jmfrey.net @scifrey 4-Aug
Elissa Cruz elissacruz.blogspot.com @elissacruz 5-Aug
Amanda Sun amandasunbooks.blogspot.com @Amanda_Sun 6-Aug
Kristi Helvig kristihelvig.blogspot.com @KristiHelvig 7-Aug
Leah Petersen www.leahpetersen.com @Leahpetersen 8-Aug
Monica Bustamante Wagner www.monibw.blogspot.com  @Monica_BW 9-Aug
E.M. Kokie www.emkokie.com @emkokie 10-Aug
Monica Goulet monicagoulet.blogspot.com/ @MonicaGoulet 11-Aug
Peter Salomon www.peteradamsalomon.com @petersalomon 12-Aug
Sarah Brand www.sarahbrand.com @sarahbbrand 13-Aug
Angela Ackerman thebookshelfmuse.blogspot.com @angelaackerman &
@writerthesaurus
14-Aug
Tara Dairman www.taradairman.com  @TaraDairman 15-Aug

Interview at The Bookshelf Muse!

Greetings, blog readers! Today I’m being interviewed over at The Bookshelf Muse by fellow author Angela Ackerman as part of the ongoing Miss Snark’s First Victim Success Stories blog tour. We talk a bit about writing, a bit about travel, and a bit about food. Come on by!

And don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for my chat with author David Kazzie (featuring a book giveaway)–the last interview in the blog tour!

Announcing a Success Story Blog Hop!

Hello, readers!

As you may remember, a couple of contests at the blog Miss Snark’s First Victim directly resulted in me signing with my wonderful literary agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, and selling my first novel (currently titled The Delicious Double Life of Gladys Gatsby, set for release in 2014). So now, to celebrate, I’m taking part what will hopefully be the first of the Annual Authoress’s Success Story blog tours!

Authoress Anonymous has built a strong and supportive community at Miss Snark’s First Victim (aka MSFV). There, writers can participate in contests designed to help them practice giving and receiving critiques, polish their hooks, shine up query letters, and gain exposure to literary agents…and, in the case of some writers, get offered representation or publishing deals!

Over 20 professional authors now owe some part of their successes to Authoress, the incredibly generous people who participate in her contests, and her blog. Some of us in this group have decided to come together to celebrate MSFV and Authoress, and to help cross-promote each other’s work.

So every day in the first two weeks of August, a different author will be posting an interview of one of our fellow Success Stories. There might even be some giveaways, so don’t miss a single blog post! Make sure to tune in to everyone’s blogs from August 1st to the 15th, and to follow the hashtag #MSFVSuccessStory on Twitter for more details, tidbits, and info. See you there!

Name Website Twitter Posting Date
David Kazzie wahoocorner.blogspot.com @davidkazzie 1-Aug
Leigh Talbert Moore www.leightmoore.com @leightmoore 2-Aug
J.Anderson Coats www.jandersoncoats.com @jandersoncoats 3-Aug
J.M. Frey www.jmfrey.net @scifrey 4-Aug
Elissa Cruz elissacruz.blogspot.com @elissacruz 5-Aug
Amanda Sun amandasunbooks.blogspot.com @Amanda_Sun 6-Aug
Kristi Helvig kristihelvig.blogspot.com @KristiHelvig 7-Aug
Leah Petersen www.leahpetersen.com @Leahpetersen 8-Aug
Monica Bustamante Wagner www.monibw.blogspot.com  @Monica_BW 9-Aug
E.M. Kokie www.emkokie.com @emkokie 10-Aug
Monica Goulet monicagoulet.blogspot.com/ @MonicaGoulet 11-Aug
Peter Salomon www.peteradamsalomon.com @petersalomon 12-Aug
Sarah Brand www.sarahbrand.com @sarahbbrand 13-Aug
Angela Ackerman thebookshelfmuse.blogspot.com @angelaackerman &
@writerthesaurus
14-Aug
Tara Dairman www.taradairman.com  @TaraDairman 15-Aug

I can’t wait to share my interview of David Kazzie, author of The Jackpotright here on August 15, and I’ll put up a link when Angela Ackerman’s interview of me is live! See you in August!