Launch Week Interview With Peter Salomon

September 10th, 2012


It’s launch week for Personal Effects, and it is also launch week for my friend and fellow Authoress Anonymous Success Storier Peter Salomon. I’m thrilled to start the week by celebrating the launch of Peter’s book!

Peter is a member of the Horror Writers Association, the Authors Guild, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. He has served as a judge for the Savannah Children’s Book Festival Young Writers Contest, and on the executive committee of the Boston and New Orleans chapters of Mensa. He graduated from Emory University in Atlanta with a bachelor’s degree in theater and film studies, and now lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with his family.


Peter’s debut YA novel, Henry Franks, launched over the weekend, published by Flux. Henry Franks has been described as a dark, psychological thriller, about a boy’s search for himself. But from the cover copy and reviews, it is clear that it straddles multiple genres, mixing mystery with thriller with horror, oozing creepiness. (You can read more about Henry Franks at


I’m so glad that Peter suggested we interview each other when we discovered that we would debut in the same week. And then he graciously answered my questions on the fly when time caught up with us (ie, my pre-launch “to do” list got overwhelming).

As a kid, what were your reading habits? How, if at all, did they shape what you now write?

I really love this question! I would read everything and anything I could get my hands on. Cereal boxes, magazines, anything. Mostly I would read Science Fiction and Fantasy (especially Fantasy) curled up in one of the hideously ugly but unbelievably soft and comfortable YELLOW (yes, yellow) chairs in my parent’s living room, right in front of the window. I’d sit there for hours, reading and just disappearing into the worlds created in all of those books. I was always daydreaming, never paying much attention to anything going on around me…and that most definitely led to writing. I was never really all that big a fan of reality, so escaping into books was the first step into creating my own worlds.

Are you a re-reader? If so, do you have books you return to again and again? Examples?

Not really. BUT (a big but that definitely needs to be capitalized) there are a handful of books I re-read. Admittedly there used to be more, back when I had my huge library of books. For a couple of decades I NEVER borrowed a book from the library, always bought and always kept. This led to moving back in the late 90s where we had around 75 twenty pound boxes of books. Do the math: that’s more than one solid ton of books. We just didn’t have the space to keep them anymore and didn’t have the ability to ever move them again. So we sold them. I was devastated and really miss that giant library. Anyway, when those were all handy (and I kept them alphabetized and everything) I’d re-read more of them because I had them. Now, it’s just the few books I do love enough to buy and keep.

Examples: Replay by Ken Grimwood. A heart-breaking time-travel story that should be read more! Denner’s Wreck by Lawrence Watt-Evans. Science-Fiction novella (it’s pretty short) that creates an entire world with no wasted words and then plays with that creation brilliantly. The Spider series by Michael Gear (pretty much ALL the science fiction by him is absolutely brilliant. Not to take anything away from the wonderful books he writes with his wife which have been far more successful than his sci-fi).

What one thing would you have done differently in journey from non-writer to writer to author?

That’s a heavy-duty difficult question to answer. Whenever I think back and say ‘I wish I had done this…’ or ‘hadn’t done this…’ I circle back to the fear ‘change anything and risk not ending up here: published.’ That made sense in my head before I started typing, I promise. I do wish I had been self-aware enough to have gone to school for writing, not so much for what it would have done for my writing (though that’s there too) but so that I’d now be credentialed enough to be able to teach creative writing, which I’d love to do.

What has been the greatest surprise for you in this pre-publication to publication journey?

The warmth and encouragement and support of fellow authors (published, soon-to-be-published and still hoping to be published). I’ve been overwhelmed at how supportive so many former strangers have been in so many ways.

I was also surprised by just how surreal the different milestones would be: seeing the cover art for the first time, receiving an advanced copy of the book, reading the first review, receiving the first ‘fan letter.’ It’s all been surreal, and I hate overusing that word but nothing else covers just how strange all of that is after 30 years of hoping and dreaming for these moments to happen. Dreams coming true…surreal! Wonderfully surreal.

Your book includes newspaper clippings and some mystery/investigative elements, do you have a journalism background?

No, actually I did try my hand at it once but I much prefer the freedom Fiction gives you to just make things up!!

Henry Franks seems to straddle or blend multiple genres, did that make querying or shopping it complicated? Did you at some point revise or consider revising to make it easier to “shelve”?

For all intents and purposes I never did query Henry Franks. My wonderful agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, was the ‘Secret Agent’ for one of the wonderful Miss Snark’s First Victim contests and she was so impressed by the quality of the entrants that she offered to read queries from MSFV readers. I hadn’t entered the contest because I had just finished editing Henry but figured it was too great of an opportunity to pass up. So, I threw together something approaching a query and emailed it in. Two weeks later, after a request for a full and a long telephone call, I signed with her. The book then went through months and months of revision before the sale but that was more of a ‘fixing what’s wrong with the book’ more than trying to make it easier to ‘shelve.’

To be honest I didn’t start out to write a ‘Horror’ book but I did always want it to be creepy and haunting. I’m relieved to have succeeded at that.

Given that Henry Franks is, at least in part, a mystery, did you have to spend time in revision weaving in the clues, or did you plot them out? 

I’m a ‘pantser’ (as in: someone who doesn’t outline but writes by the ‘seat of their pants’) and I wasn’t sure how the book would end until I got to the end for the most part. So I then had to go back and make sure it worked, weaving everything together. I’d recommend outlining, it’s a LOT simpler!

What’s next for you with regard to writing?

I have two YA books that I’m working on at the moment, one of which is out on submission and I hope to have the other one going out soon. I also have two Picture Books that I’m working on.

I love the intensity of picture books, where each word is so vital and important. It’s as close as I think I’ll get to publishing poetry and I’ve always loved poetry!


Thank you, Peter, for answering my questions and sharing this wonderful week with me!  I’m so excited to see the pictures of Henry Franks on store shelves, and to know it is right now finding its way into the hands of readers.  Those of you who haven’t read Henry Franks yet, go check it out at or on Goodreads!  And you can follow Peter’s adventures (in writing and otherwise) on twitter and facebook, and at his website.

It’s going to be a busy fall

August 28th, 2012

I’m in this weird state between anticipation and celebration. Planning, waiting, watching, hoping…and trying to write and work and sleep and not become overwhelmed.

Personal Effects is out in two weeks.  We’re putting the final touches on some launch celebrations, and waiting for the day to arrive. All the while I have been writing/re-writing/revising like crazy in order to get the first half of my new book to my agent before the craziness hits. (There’s a whole post for sometime in the future about losing the ability to write in any meaningful way for large chunks of the past year. But for now I am just going to say I am so relieved to be able to write/re-write/revise again, and to enjoy the experimental joy of finding a new character’s story).

Reviews have been popping up, word of pre-orders and excitement have been hitting my email, and this past week three amazing things happened:

First, my author copies of Personal Effects arrived.

My editor sent me one copy a few weeks ago. It arrived in the mail, an unexpected, emotional, happy surprise. But this week the box of author copies
arrived. Soon I will sit down and inscribe a few to early readers and people who played special roles in bringing Personal Effects into the world.

Second, Personal Effects was named to the Autumn 2012 Kids’ Indie Next List.   To see Personal Effects on that list of recommended titles — so many of which I have either already read and admired, or I am eagerly anticipating — is truly amazing. And that it comes from independent booksellers makes it even more special. (You all know I have great love and respect for indie bookstores and their dedicated staff  — especially mine).

Third, Personal Effects has arrived at a library.

The fact that my book is in a library, and will soon be in other libraries, is so very exciting. I was not prepared for how emotional and thrilling that
moment would be.



And as I mentioned above, Personal Effects has received some wonderful, thoughtful, insightful reviews, many from librarians and teachers and readers whose opinions I respect. I thank everyone who has read Personal Effects and has taken the time to write a review.

And here’s a taste of what the review journals have said so far:

“Kokie grounds readers so thoroughly in Matt’s misery that they will be as itchy to escape the brutal emptiness of life with his father as he is. Realistically, though the inevitable revelation and resolution bring peace to Matt, they do not heal his father; readers will just have to hope he can make it through. A fine addition to the literature of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” – Kirkus (subscription required to read the complete review)

“Well written and heartfelt, the novel provides much to discuss after the covers are closed. . . . The dialogue is authentic to the characters and the plot moves the story forward at a pace that allows reflection, but keeps the reader interested. This title is highly recommended for teen readers.” – VOYA

“The author conveys Matt’s grief over T.J. and his fear of his father so palpably that the reader’s stomach tightens in empathy. . . . Kokie’s well-crafted debut novel depicts a military family with admirable complexity while tracing one young man’s hard-fought coming of age.” – Horn Book


Finally, my fall schedule is coming together, including launch parties, readings, conferences, The Austin Teen Book Festival, the Wisconsin Book Festival, the ALAN workshop, and more. For a full (and updated regularly) list of news and events, you can check here.

And if you want a signed copy of Personal Effects but you aren’t able to make any of the scheduled events, you can pre-order a signed copy through A Room of One’s Own.

I look forward to sharing more of this crazy, wild ride with you as Personal Effects makes its way into the world. Thank you to everyone who is celebrating along with me.




Looking for Queer Girls in YA

August 11th, 2012

Yesterday a friend asked for recommendations for some lesbian/bisexual YA fiction. She knows some teen readers struggling to find books featuring queer girls with fun, good relationships, that are not depressing or preachy. My immediate reaction was to think “Of course there are awesome queer girl YA books!” But when I thought about the ones I loved the most, well, let’s just say they are often long on angst. Still, I could think of 6 or 7 off the top of my head I wanted these teens to read.

I gave her links to some sources for queer book recs (besides Twitter and what friends are reading, which are where I find a lot of my TBRs) so she and her young readers could do some research of their own:  ALA’s Rainbow Book List (current nominations are always of interest); Malinda Lo’s blog is becoming a great resource on current lgbtq YA books   (from the categories pull down menu choose “YA Pride” for this years YAs with significant lgbtq characters); Daisy Porter’s QueerYA site; (and their Ultimate Reading List); Lee Wind’s site; and the Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s annual Choices list and bibliographies, to name just a few. (And I’m sure there others out there).

And then I recommended some of my favorite YA novels featuring queer girl characters. (I’ll get to those below).

Typing out those recommended faves made me antsy to read them all over again, and it reminded me to order the new reissue of one of my all time faves – Empress of the World,  by Sara Ryan – which has been reissued with new, exciting, added content. (Immediately after hitting send on the email to my friend, I dashed off another email, this one to my local indie about ordering the reissue of Empress).

When I tweeted about the recs, and Empress news, I got a lot of @s asking for my recs. So, here are some of my favorite lesbian/bi/queer girl centric YAs (in no particular order):


Sister Mischief
, by Laura Goode – What I especially love about Sister Mischief is the way it’s modern, in a GSA, gay-in-the mainstream world, but the teen characters are still dealing with those who haven’t caught up, and family and social expectations. And the examination of Hip Hop culture adds to the story and gives it a modern focus. Plus, Esme is an awesome character, a “Jewish lesbian lyricist” who performs as MC Ferocious.



Ash, by Malinda Lo – An updated and enchanting queer retelling of Cinderella, with fabulous characters. And it’s beautifully written. Good fantasy with queer girls is especially hard to find, I think.


Down to the Bone, by Mayra Lazara Dole is a book that many would pass over, thinking it will be a real downer. But it’s not. The main character faces adversities that would break many teens, but she maintains a certainty about exactly who she is and that the problem is not her. And she is funny. It’s one not to be missed. Plus, Laura is Cuban American, and I am always on the lookout for good YA of all kinds with characters of color. [Note: I also see that Down to the Bone has been republished, and that the story may have changed some - the note in the original is now text messages in the new version].


Far From Xanadu, by  Julie Ann Peters – every budding lesbian/bi/queer girl needs to read about crushing on the girls who might break your heart. And I love the way Mike’s town seems to get and accept her just as she is. She is a fantastic character! Sadly, I think new copies of Far From Xanadu might be hard to come by, but I’m sure there are copies in many libraries.

Empress of the World, and the sequel The Rules for Hearts, by Sara Ryan, are two of my all time favorite queer girl books. Empress speaks to that time when so many girls first realize the world is bigger, and more exciting, and maybe more complex, than they originally thought.  And Rules follows up with a great book about that bridge between high school and college, about growing into yourself now that you are figuring out who you are. (Plus, now with the added content in the reissue, it’s a great time to read , or even reread, Empress).

Hard Love
, and the sequel Love & Lies: Marisol’s Story, by Ellen Wittlinger are books I have read several times each. Hard Love was one of the first YAs I read as an adult that made me want to write YA. It is one of the books of my heart. And while it is from the POV of a straight male character (who in and of himself is worth the read), Marisol, the object of his unrequited affection, is an awesome queer girl character – a young lesbian who knows exactly who she is, and is looking to make the word what she needs it to be.  The sequel follows Marisol, and like Far From Xanadu, it has some good things to say about being true to who you are while navigating the dating world.


The Bermudez Triangle
, by Maureen Johnson
is another great book about those years of first questioning who you might love and want to love, the first steps toward being the  person you are meant to be, and how those revelations affect your other relationships with family and friends. It’s also a great book about how friends and friendships change and test the ties we carry over from childhood.
So, those are by far not all of my recommended queer girl books, but they are some of my favorites, and the ones that came to mind for those teen readers yesterday.  But there are more out there. I’ve already read and heard about several other great 2012 books featuring queer girl characters, The Difference Between You and Me, by Madeleine George, Starting from Here by Lisa Jenn Bigelow, Kiss the Morning Star, by Elissa Janine Hoole, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, by Emily M. Danforth, and 37 Things I Love (in no particular order) by Kekla Magoon are all new this year, and I know there are others, some of which probably haven’t even crossed my radar yet. And two of my most anticipated fall releases are Ask the Passengers, by A.S. King and Adaptation, by Malinda Lo.

If this trend continues, readers should have no trouble finding good YA fiction featuring queer girls.

What are some of your favorites?

MSFV Blog Hop – Interview With Monica Goulet

August 10th, 2012

Welcome to what will hopefully be the first of the Annual Authoress’ Success Story blog tours!

Authoress Anonymous has built a strong and supportive community of writers, agents, editors, and readers on her blog Miss Snark’s First Victim. There, writers can participate in contests designed to help them practice giving and receiving critiques, polish their hooks and query letters, and improve their writing. Some of these contests help participants place their work before literary agents and editors.

Some of us who credit Authoress and the MSFV blog with helping us (directly and indirectly) on our road to publication have decided to come together to celebrate Authoress, MSFV, and each other’s work, with a blog hop.  Today is my leg of the hop (and a full schedule of the hop with links to the other legs is at the end of the post).

Yesterday, Monica Bustamante Wagner posted an interview with me on her blog. (If you missed it, check it out because there’s a swag giveaway as part of the interview and a link to a Goodreads giveaway where you could win a copy of Personal Effects!)

 And now, I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Monica Goulet!


Monica lives and writes in the suburbs, just north of Toronto. She writes emotionally-driven contemporary YA and loves to give her characters impossible choices. Her work is represented by Meredith Kaffel of DeFiore and Company.  Monica can be found online at and on Twitter.

I’m thrilled to be interviewing her, and helping to celebrate Authoress & the MSFV Blog!


How did participating with MSFV blog help you on your publishing/writing journey?

Where do I begin? I found the MSFV blog early on in my writing journey when I’d just started the agent searching process for the first book I’d written. I spent hours on that blog, mostly on the Secret Agent contest archives reading every entry and all the comments, hungry for information on what worked and what didn’t. I waited until my second manuscript was complete to enter for the first time in February 2010. I put in every little thing I had learned into my first page and sent it off. I held my breath when there was only one winner, and when I found out it was me, I seriously freaked out. It may seem like a small victory, especially considering I didn’t end up with an offer from the agent, but it was honestly one of the highlights in my writing career so far, just because I’d come so far from that naïve first time writer pouring over those entries, to actually winning the contest.

What was your process like in signing with an agent?

I started writing seriously in January 2008. It was my New Year’s resolution to finish a book that year and get an agent. I was planning to defy all odds and be the person who sells the first book they ever wrote. I was obviously a little naïve because it took another 2 manuscripts and 3 years to actually reach my goal. There’s so much to learn about the writing process and the publishing industry than I ever thought possible. And you know what? I’m so glad I didn’t know that back then, or I might never have started!

I find writers tend to fall into four camps – writers who enjoy the whole process (liars), writers who love to first draft & hate to revise, writers who hate to first draft & love to revise, and writers who hate the entire process while in it but love the final product, and so are willing to suffer through.  Which are you?

I definitely prefer revising over first drafts. It’s just so overwhelming staring at blank pages day after day and trying to fill them. I like having the story already written and just trying to make it better. Although, I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say I love revising. Some days I do, some days I don’t. But I definitely don’t hate the entire process. I don’t think I could get through it if I did.

Can you tell us a little bit about your experience with submissions?

Let me just say this about being on submission – it’s tough. I think even if your book sells in a week, that week is probably tortuous. Being on submission longer than that is even harder, but it becomes something different. In the first couple weeks my whole world was submissions. I had everything riding on it. Then something changed – it had to or I wouldn’t have survived! I started thinking about the worst thing that could happen, which was that my book wouldn’t sell. It would suck, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I would write another book. And another. Eventually, one would sell. And when one does, it won’t matter how long it took. It will feel just as good. Maybe even better.

Could you tell us a bit about what you are currently working on?

I’m super excited about the manuscript I’m working on now. It’s currently titled FOLLOW ME HOME, and like most of my book ideas, it came from a single idea, and grew from there. This one started with a concept I had of a girl moving into a new house only to find that someone was already living there. I had no idea when I first started outlining why someone was already in her house, or what would happen between them, but that was the fun of this story. The characters and the story all developed from simply answering the questions that popped into my head from that one concept.

I’m currently revising, and somewhere after draft 4 I lost count of what draft I’m on. I’m crossing my fingers it will go out on submission later this year.


Thanks for the interview, Monica!  And I’m crossing my fingers for you, hoping I can cheer news of your YA debut soon.

On tomorrow’s leg of the blog hop, Monica will be interviewing Peter Salomon. See you there! And if you landed here without experiencing the earlier interviews, you can catch up by following the links below:

Name Website Twitter Posting Date
David Kazzie @davidkazzie 1-Aug
Leigh Talbert Moore @leightmoore 2-Aug
J.Anderson Coats @jandersoncoats 3-Aug
J.M. Frey @scifrey 4-Aug
Elissa Cruz @elissacruz 5-Aug
Amanda Sun @Amanda_Sun 6-Aug
Kristi Helvig @KristiHelvig 7-Aug
Leah Petersen @Leahpetersen 8-Aug
Monica Bustamante Wagner  @Monica_BW 9-Aug
E. M. Kokie @emkokie 10-Aug
Monica Goulet @MonicaGoulet 11-Aug
PeterSalomon @petersalomon 12-Aug
Sarah Brand @sarahbbrand 13-Aug
Angela Ackerman @angelaackerman                               14-Aug  
Tara Dairman  @TaraDairman         15-Aug

Announcing The MSFV Success Story Blog Hop!

July 30th, 2012

Wow! The summer has flown by. I can hardly believe that Personal Effects will hit shelves in 6 weeks. I’ve recently updated the News & Events page with some book launch parties, conferences and festival appearances, and I will continue to update the list as additional events are scheduled.

I’m posting today to alert you to a special blog tour that is about to start:

The First Annual Authoress’s Success Story blog tour!

Authoress Anonymous has built a strong and supportive community of writers, agents, editors, and readers on her blog Miss Snark’s First Victim. There, writers can participate in contests designed to help them practice giving and receiving critiques, polish their hooks and query letters, and improve their writing. Some of these contests help participants place their work before literary agents and editors.

Over twenty authors are now part of a growing group who credit Miss Snark’s First Victim with helping them (directly and indirectly) on their road to publication!  Some of us have decided to come together for a blog tour to toast both MSFV and Authoress, and to celebrate each other’s work.

Every day in the first two weeks of August, a different MSFV Success Story author will be posting an interview with one of his or her fellow Success Story authors. There might be some giveaways along the way, as well as moments of inspiration and celebration. You can follow the tour by hopping from blog to blog between August 1st and 15th (schedule below), and by following the hashtag #MSFVSuccessStory on twitter. We hope you enjoy the posts, take inspiration from the stories, and help us cheer Authoress and the MSFV blog while reading and commenting on the interviews.

Name Website Twitter Posting Date
David Kazzie @davidkazzie 1-Aug
Leigh Talbert Moore @leightmoore 2-Aug
J.Anderson Coats @jandersoncoats 3-Aug
J.M. Frey @scifrey 4-Aug
Elissa Cruz @elissacruz 5-Aug
Amanda Sun @Amanda_Sun 6-Aug
Kristi Helvig @KristiHelvig 7-Aug
Leah Petersen @Leahpetersen 8-Aug
Monica Bustamante Wagner  @Monica_BW 9-Aug
E. M. Kokie @emkokie 10-Aug
Monica Goulet @MonicaGoulet 11-Aug
PeterSalomon @petersalomon 12-Aug
Sarah Brand @sarahbbrand 13-Aug
Angela Ackerman @angelaackerman                              14-Aug  
Tara Dairman  @TaraDairman        15-Aug