Saturday, December 28, 2013

Chats, ARCs, and Sneak Peeks

Here's a great way to begin the New Year—with a chance to chat with great authors and, perhaps, win an ARC of their next books.

On Thursday night, January 2nd, at 9pm EST, Spencer Hill authors will be on Twitter ( #SHP2014) , waiting to take your questions.

Join Heather McCollum, Kelly Hashway, Erica Cameron, J. K. Rock, and Elizabeth Langston (that's me!) for conversation, sneak peeks at books releasing in 2014, and the opportunity to find out how to enter for an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC).

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Holiday 2013

I'm on holiday. Really. I'm taking a week off from my day job (in computer software) to visit with relatives, enjoy Christmas, and do whatever I want.

I won't, however, be spending a full week off my writing job. I completed I Wish last night; it's on its way to the copy-editors.

I have to return Whispers From the Past (Whisper Falls #3) by New Year's Day. So I'll be working on it later this week.

But I will take two days for myself. I'm relaxing by reading. I've downloaded a bunch of e-books to my laptop, and I'm devouring them steadily.  It's been great.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Book in review

"I picked it up because I know you; I kept reading because it was good."

I often hear that phrase (or something like it) from friends and co-workers. But what about readers who don't know me—those who picked up the book simply because the premise sounded interesting? I'm happy to report that, to date, the reviews for Whisper Falls have all been good.

I thought I would share a few of the quotes that have been posted on goodreads, amazon, or on book review blogs.

Let's start with two quotes from teen readers:

  • "Whisper Falls is bound to get you hooked, I know I was. From sentence one, I was instantly intrigued and had to find out more about Susanna and Mark's world. Intensity snowballs through Whisper Falls, making it unputdownable." [AD from Texas]
  • "I loved it, absolutely sweet. I... gah I don't even know how to explain." [IL from California]

Several of the comments come from readers who generally don't read this type of book. As an author, I love it when readers enjoy my book, but it can be especially exciting when someone who wasn't sure if they would like it claims that they couldn't put it down.

From readers who rarely read Young Adult, fantasy/supernatural, or historical fiction:
  • "Whisper Falls is a very impressive debut novel by Elizabeth Langston. It has about everything I like in my escape. Time travel, fantasy, romance and even though I don't usually read historical, I found this one to be exceptionally interesting." [winterhaven books]
  • "Whisper Falls is captivating! The themes of love and hate in its many forms and nuances are timeless and will appeal to all generations... I usually don't care for fantasy but the time-travel in Whisper Falls is done gently and simply... I had a hard time putting this book down until I had savored the last page." [MK Ward]
  • "If I'm being perfectly honest, I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book when I first saw it because I'm not big on historical novels. But I got an ARC ... and I'm really glad I did because the story pulled me in from the first page." [YAbound]

And we'll wrap up with a couple of comments that...well, these quotes capture my thoughts exactly about the book and its main characters, Mark and Susanna:

  • "I haven't read many YA novels that featured the late 1700's as a time period. In addition, the lives of indentured servants doesn't typically make it into novels. I often find myself gravitating towards the stories of those whose stories have not been told previously. I was excited to learn more about this time period, indentured servitude, and women's issues." [reading lark]
  • "And the writing, did I mention the writing? It was wonderful! As a history major, I saw the amount of research Langston had to perform to get everything just right. I never once questioned if it was possible or think that she had some historical reference incorrect. It was as if she’s really been to visit Susanna in the past. Excellent read!"  [adventures in writers land]
  • "Susanna is a sweet and humble girl who has a beautiful heart. She's brave and caring and tougher then one would expect. Mark is good people. He's like your everyday teenager with family issues and girl problems, but he's dedicated to his sport and always tries to be a good person... This is the kind of love story that I want to hug. It's not about lust or want, it's simply about caring about a person so deeply that you would do anything, even walk through centuries, to save her. And it was beautifully done." [winterhaven books] 

Monday, December 16, 2013

must leave book 2 alone

So my editors really want to send book 2 (A Whisper In Time) to the formatters (the last stop before the printers.)

But I found 20 more words I want to change. Yes, there are 380 pages, and I want to change 20 words.

I really need to learn how to let it go.  It's just that I want the book to be as perfect as possible.

Okay. Deep breath. We're done.  Cover reveal soon...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Merry Christmas and book giveaway

I'm giving away 2 signed copies of Whisper Falls!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Whisper Falls by Elizabeth Langston

Whisper Falls

by Elizabeth Langston

Giveaway ends December 27, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Monday, December 9, 2013

Best gift ever for your favorite author

My author's wish list has two simple items on it:
  • read my book
  • if you like it, tell someone else

Both gifts make me really happy.

Read my book. I'd love for you to buy the book, of course. Writing is my job; I can't afford to create books if I'm not getting paid for it. But if you're not able to buy it, libraries can buy my book too.  You can check it out from your local library.

Tell someone else. Word-of-mouth is the number one way that readers discover new authors. So there you are--an inexpensive way to give back to an author.  Just say "I loved this book."

Whether it's my book or another author's, here are a few ways you can spread the word about a book you love
  1. Mention to your friends.
  2. Give a book that you love as a gift.
  3. Recommend it to your book club.
  4. Give a nice review on Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, or any of the other forums for talking about books.
  5. Nominate it to book bloggers or the numerous "Best of 2013" lists. 
  6. Request the book at your local library, especially if they don't have it in their catalog.
  7. If you're a teen, tell your English teacher or school librarian.
  8. Look for it at your local bookstore. If it's not on the shelves, ask! The bookstore won't know to order/stock the book unless they recognize that there is interest.
  9. Tweet the book or blog about it.

And let me know too. If you leave a review, that's one way to let me know you enjoyed my book. But I love it when readers tell me (in person or via social media) that they enjoyed the book.

I just had a colleague (at my day job) stop me in the hall to say that she'd read my book.

Me: Oh, did you enjoy it?
Her: It was wonderful. I couldn't put it down.

Yes! Christmas came early!

Monday, December 2, 2013

My first foreign translation will be Romanian

My foreign rights agent, the wonderful Taryn, has sold Whisper Falls to Romania!

Naturally, I'm curious to know what the title might look like in that language, so I put the title through an internet translator and received:

şoaptă Cascada
My daughter, who is a budding linguist, tells me that Romanian is the only romance language left in Eastern Europe. The breve over the a in the first word (şoaptă / whisper) is a clue pointing to the Romanian language, since few languages use that character.
I don't know how long it will take for the Romanian version to release, but I look forward to many new readers!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Book birthday week in images

For Whisper Falls, the first official week of life has been a lot of fun. I've been obsessive about watching the numbers, which are fine. Reviews have been good. And some readers have tweeted or emailed me with the nicest messages.

Here are a few images from some of the events of the past week.

The lovely young lady beside me is the freelance editor Laura who helped me polish Whisper Falls before it sold.

I'm signing a book at a private launch party. (Thank you, Lisa!) The pen was made for me by a high school classmate. (Thank you, Lou!)

My husband snapped the above photo at my first public book signing at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC.  The lovely lady before me is a fellow Mississippian who heard about the book on TV and came to meet me. Waiting politely and patiently at the side is Emilia, the daughter of one of my critique partners.

This last image was taken at the Cary Community Library. The county library system is carrying my books; thanks to them for supporting local authors!

Monday, November 25, 2013

I love booksignings

I had my first public book-signing on Sunday (at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC.)

At 3pm, the seats were half-filled, which made me blink.  At 3:05, it was standing room only.  That was cool.

I was incredibly nervous for about the first 25 seconds. Then it was just great. I loved talking with this group of readers, answering their questions, listening to their thoughts.  We had a reading from the book; my husband narrated for Mark (the hero) and my daughter narrated for Susanna (the heroine.) That was amazing.

It takes a lot of people to produce a book. Without my family, I couldn't have done it.

Then came the problem. The book store ran out of books.  Now, this is a good kind of problem to have. But it also means that I'll have to drive back to the store later this week to sign several books that are on order. I do not mind. Really.

Hmm, now I need to find other places to sign books! That was fun.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Happy birthday, Whisper Falls!

Today is the release day for Whisper Falls!

It has been a long time. Here are a few numbers to consider.

  • How long from contract to release? 559 days, 80 weeks, or 18 months
  • How long I wrote before publication? 14 years
  • How many books have I sold? 4 novels
  • How many words in Whisper Falls? 95,000 words
  • How many revision cycles? 5
  • How many sequels? 2
  • How many people offered editorial advice? 6
  • How many years did I research before beginning? 6
  • How many people do I owe a debt of gratitude to? countless

So, with that, let me say a big thank you to everyone who has participated in the process:
  • friends
  • historians and docents
  • school teachers
  • fellow authors
  • contest judges
  • extended family
  • cover artist
  • cover models
  • publisher
  • editors
  • agent
  • husband and daughters
  • readers

Monday, November 18, 2013

Tomorrow is official publication day!

It's almost here. Less than 24 hours away. At midnight, Whisper Falls will be officially released, and I will be a published author!

It's the final day of the blog tour that launches the book. I'm guest interviewing with the Cover Contessa today.

Counting down to 1 last day...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Only 2 days until Whisper Falls releases

For my friends in Australia and New Zealand, here are a couple of items that might interest you:

  • The Big W in Australia has Whisper Falls available as an e-book. They have a sample! You can read 5 chapters now.
  • MyGuiltyObsession has a guest blog post from me today. In it, I discuss how a YA librarian in New Zealand helped me with the setting of Whisper Falls.
All right, must get back to writing the new book!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Only 3 days until Whisper Falls

We are three days away from the official publication date of Whisper Falls.

I'm excited, nervous, and really happy. It's taken a lot of years and the help of a lot of people to get here. Now it's left to readers to enjoy!

I'm featured on a blog today. Join me at NeverEndingStories, to learn a little about the book and my writing journey.

And Powell's Books has WF listed on its New Arrivals in Historical Fiction page. That is cool!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Launching Whisper Falls - counting down 1 week

We are a week out. The official release date is November 19th. 7 days. After 18 months of waiting, we're almost there.

I checked the Amazon Hot New Release list today (in YA Historical) and both versions are there: paperback at #14 and digital at #8!

I'm guest blogging today at Because Reading about my journey to publication. Check it out!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Launching Whisper Falls - Day 7

Let me start by recognizing what a special day this is for America as well as the community of nations. Today is Veterans Day. Thank you to veterans everywhere.

I have three links to share.

  • The Whisper Falls blog tour takes us to FantasyBookAddict where I'm interviewed about writing this book:
  • WRAL-TV news anchor Bill Leslie interviewed me live today on the Noon newscast. [I cannot find a link for the interview--but will post one as soon as I can find it.]
  • Several weeks ago, I posted a story on this blog about an experience I'd had while serving in the military. Read it again on the Veterans Day post of a writer's group blog
We're still counting down. 8 more days until the official release date of Whisper Falls!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Whisper Falls Blog Tour - Day 5

It's the fifth day of the Whisper Falls Blog Tour.

Today's stop includes a review of my book at Letters in the Sand.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Launching Whisper Falls - Day One

We are two weeks away from the official release date of Whisper Falls, November 19th.

For the next 14 days, the enthusiastic publicity staff at my publishing house (Spencer Hill Press) have organized a different "event" each day.

Join us as often as you like. There will be book reviews, interviews of the author (that's me!), guest posts by the author (me again!), and a giveaway or two.

First up:

Friday, November 1, 2013

Interview on AL Davroe blog

I'm being interviewed today (Friday, Nov 1) by AL Davroe. Check out the blog post and enter a rafflecopter giveaway (2 prizes, one for North American readers and one for International readers)!

Whisper Falls (paperback version) is reaching the hands of folks who pre-ordered. It's earlier than I expected, but it's also been a lot of fun.

The e-book version won't release until November 19th. 18 days away!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Counting down to 21 days or maybe not

One week ago, I would've predicted that my next post would be about counting down 21 days to release. I would've been wrong.

The paperback version of Whisper Falls has already been released. Amazon began shipping it this weekend. B&N and BAM have the paperback version listed as "in stock," which means they're willing to ship now as well.

E-books of Whisper Falls remain in pre-order status. If you want a digital version, you'll have to wait until the official release date, which is November 19th.

Exciting times. It took me a day or two to absorb this change in plans. I had scheduled myself to not be nervous for two more weeks, so it crashed in on me unexpectedly. But I'm over it (I think) and I'm just ready for people to read and love the book!

So here are the cool things about the past week:

  • My author-friend Katie McGarry included me on a giveaway of her last ARC of Crash Into YouCheck here for details on how to enter (offer ends on Wednesday, Oct 30.)
  • Behold the power of Katie. Since she kicked off her promo, my twitter followers have increased 80% and my FB fans have increased 150%. In six days! (I really hope that one day I'll be able to pay this forward.)
  • I am giving away 2 ARCs of Whisper Falls on goodreads. Check for details on my Oct 22 blog post.
  • Amazon ran out of stock on my book Sunday. That was fun.
All right, back to the rest of my life...

Friday, October 25, 2013

Early release?

I've received several reports that the trade paperback version of Whisper Falls is already shipping.

The release date is still officially November 19, which is three weeks away. However, if you've ordered the book and it arrives before then, feel free to view that as an early gift.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Counting down - 28 days

Whisper Falls releases in 28 days. Four weeks. One month.

Here are two giveaways to enter!

(1) My author-friend Katie McGarry is giving away the last ARC of her next book, Crash  Into You.  She's using rafflecopter--and you win chances to enter when you like/follow two debut authors (me and Colette Ballard) on facebook, goodreads, or twitter.

(2) I'm sponsoring a giveway on goodreads! If you'd like a chance to win a free (signed) ARC of Whisper Falls (and you live in USA or Canada), please enter!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Whisper Falls by Elizabeth Langston

Whisper Falls

by Elizabeth Langston

Giveaway ends November 07, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

So, what else happened in the past week?
  • I sent my brother a copy of the book. He's in Afghanistan, so he'll have it by release day, if he's lucky.
  • A blogger/book-reviewer asked me for an interview on November 1st. I've returned the questions to her now. (Hint: There will be a giveaway.)
  • Book 3 (Whispers From the Past) is in first-round revisions. My editors said that it didn't need many changes.  Apparently, my editors and I do not define "many" the same way.
  • My freelance editor, Laura, now has a signed copy of the book. She deserves a lot of the credit. So do my publishing house editors. It really takes a village to make a good book...
  • The local library system now has 13 copies of the book to lend. There is already a waitlist.  That is seriously cool. (I plan to donate one more copy. Generous, I know :)
  • I have two more book reviews. I probably should dread reviews, but I don't. Of course, here's hoping that all of them are as lovely as the two I've received recently. 
All right, it's back to Track Changes in WORD. Book 3 is not changing itself.

See you next week, countdown...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Counting down to 35 days

We're 35 days or 5 weeks or 1.1 months from the release of Whisper Falls.

So what's new for the past week?

Firstly,  promo has become a family affair. My daughters, on a cross-country flight, discovered that they were sitting next to a publishing (distribution) professional and proceeded to market my book to her. So, yes indeed, I have this person's contact info. Every little bit helps.

Secondly, I have a new blog interview up with my cyber-friend in the United Kingdom, Kayleigh. If you're curious about my writer's journey or what character I had the hardest time writing, check out Kayleigh's blog.

Thirdly, I attended a writer's workshop on Saturday and learned a lot about self-publishing. I'm not sure if this is a choice that I will ever make, but I'm definitely better informed.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Counting down - 42 days

Yes, we are down to 42 days. Six weeks. One and a half months.

Not close enough but better. Definitely better.

I've had two fun things happen in the past week.  First, I received a long-awaited package from Spencer Hill. 10 copies of the real book. (Not ARCs and not uncorrected proofs!) I could sell these if I wanted to (which I don't.)

The second cool thing is an award. The publishing house submitted my book to a contest, and Whisper Falls received a Bronze Medal in Young Adult Historical/Cultural Fiction!

Good news might just distract me enough not to care that there are still six weeks to go.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Don't Look Back cover reveal

My author-friend Jennifer Armentrout has a new YA thriller releasing next April from Disney Hyperion.  Here is a first peek at the cover for Don't Look Back...and it is animated!

Don’t Look Back release date: 04/15/2014

Don’t Look Back synopsis:
Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it’s one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took “mean girl” to a whole new level, and it’s clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She’s getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she’s falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn’t just buried deep inside of Sam’s memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

Pre-order at  Amazon or B&N .

# 1 NEW YORK TIMES Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.
Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture.
She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

Social Media sites:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Counting down from 7 weeks

Whisper Falls releases in 7 weeks. 49 days.

We signed the contract fifteen months ago. So you'd think I was used to waiting by now. But no. I'm thinking the next two months are going to be crazy-hard.

There are still things to do. I'm trying to savor them and distract myself from the waiting. It's not working yet.

  • We're in revisions for Books 2 and 3.  A Whisper In Time goes to copy-edits soon, so it's time to stop tweaking it. Plus we wrote the blurb, which was horribly difficult to make interesting without revealing too much of the ending from Book 1.
  • Blog interviews has already begun. I've been working on questions for a blogger in the United Kingdom today.
  • I ordered some author promo stuff in the past few days. Bookplates, bookmarks, and some adorable jewelry made from a miniature version of my book cover. Yeah, spending money can be distracting.
  • I did a research trip this weekend with my husband. We drove to the mountains of Virginia, which Mark (the heroine) will visit in book 2 and 3.  Just to make sure... I've been there before.
  • A few days ago, a book-reviewer in upstate New York tweeted about how much she'd enjoyed WF. We ended up direct-messaging for a half-hour, discussing plot points, characters, and sequels. I won't be able to do that with every reviewer, but it was loads of fun for that first time.

Yeah, November 19th, I'm ready for you to get here. Really.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I did it for my daughters

My two daughters love to hear stories from my tour in the US Air Force. We laugh when we call them "war stories"—because I served mostly during the 1980s in a software development group in Montgomery, AL. 

The only war I fought was the war to integrate women into the military.

I was the first female officer that most of my subordinates had ever seen. They knew I'd just graduated from college and that I'd grown up in a rural Mississippi town. They had me pegged as a naive helpless southern belle.  I was assigned to report to a civil servant who hated women in the military and who thought it was impossible for an officer to be competent without prior enlisted time. I was screwed on both counts. 

I know that my boss believed these things because he actually said so at staff meetings, in front of the men I outranked. Other gems included:

  • "There's only one reason a woman would ever join the military—because she's [gay] or because she's a [promiscuous woman.]"
  • "The colonel is making me lie about the lieutenant on her performance report. I have to say she's good."
  • "This [software] code is brilliant. I don't believe the lieutenant wrote it."
  • "I feel sorry for the lieutenant when she marries. No man worth having would ever want her."

Most of the time, I just sucked it up. But that last one got to me. I rose from my end of the table and walked out of the room, with the civil servant yelling, "Beth, get back in here." Yeah, he was using my first name—a deliberate sign of blatant disrespect.

I stood in the center of the hallway, visible to my staff, obviously being insubordinate, trying to decide what to do, close to falling apart and knowing that would set women-in-the-military back. The division's Chief Master Sergeant (E9) approached me and asked me what was wrong. I just stared at him, unable to speak. Then he heard what my boss was screaming at me. Chief turned and walked into the conference room.  It became quiet. He said softly, "Everyone leave except [boss]".  My staff filed out in silence.  The door slammed shut.

I never had trouble from my boss again. 

At his final enlistment ceremony, Chief asked me to swear him in. On the day he retired from the military, he saluted me last. Both were deliberate signs of extreme respect.

27 years later, Chief has contacted me on FB. Before becoming "friends", he wanted to make sure it was okay with my husband. (And let me tell you, I have married a man worth having.) Instead of Lieutenant and Chief, we're Beth and Jim now.  I'm one of the few folks he's in contact with from that time. I think it's because I'm one of the "guys" worth knowing.  (Back at you, Jim.)

I tell my daughters these stories, and they think it is so amazing how "kick ass" I had to be—because that is really not me now.  My daughters shake their heads in wonder, as if I was living in a fairy tale. No one has ever made them feel less because they are female. No one has suggested that there are boundaries to what they can achieve because they have an extra X chromosome.

I did it for my daughters and for your daughters and for any child who is ever judged for factors beyond their control. And I couldn't have done it without men like Chief.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

65 days

My first book releases in 65 days. 9 weeks. Around Thanksgiving.

I'm in a no-man's land between contract and debut release. Technically, I'm not a published author.  I will be published on 19 November and forevermore after that. But I've been in a gray area for the sixteen months since I signed a contract. Not quite published. Not really un-published.

I'm sitting in a cafe, about to eat my veggie omelet, with my laptop going.1 People ask what I'm doing and I say I'm an author. And there's a hesitance in me to say that out loud because it doesn't seem quite true. Yet.

In a couple of months, that slight hitch in my statement will go away. I'll claim the job. I'll have information about my numbers.2 I'll have reviews, fans, detractors, and other such authorial stuff.

Last night, I finished my fifth full-length novel.  I wrote it several years ago, but the story needed a skilled, experienced writer to write it, and that wasn't what I was several years ago. So I put it down and waited. This summer, I picked it back up. This go-round, I did the characters and their pain justice. And this time, it might get published because I'm now.

Okay, my omelet's getting cold. And so is my coffee. Plus, with all of my current projects completed and/or in the publishing assembly line, I'm ready to dream up a new idea.

1 Always, I have my laptop with me when I'm not working at my day job.
2 For most authors, your numbers are "how many units sold" or "how much in sales". But there are other numbers too, like "how many twitter followers" or "how many books under contract." I'll go from caring about words to caring about numbers too.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Reader reaction

The thing I'm going to love most about being published is the response from readers.

I've been warned that I can't please everyone.  So, yeah, I understand that.  Not every book I read appeals to me either.

But there will be some people who do like them. They're going to love my characters. Readers will gasp over, worry over, cry over the things that my characters go through. And then readers will talk to me about it, and we'll compare notes, and imagine what happens after The End.

I can't wait.

I got a taste of it this weekend. I submitted Whispers From the Past to my editors. Editor-J finished the book this weekend, and we've been sending a flurry of email talking about what happened to whom and how it made us feel and...

I loved it.

All of you readers out there, send me email or come to my book-signings or stop me at conferences where I'm speaking. And talk to me about books, characters, consequences, emotion, love.

That's why I write stories. That's why you read them!

P.S. I took the above photo on vacation in Belgium this summer. The B&B where we stayed had a beautiful backyard garden.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hard to say goodbye

I submitted Whispers From the Past last night to the publishing house.  It's a milestone to celebrate and to mourn.

I love the characters in the Whisper Falls series, especially my hero and heroine. Mark and Susanna are household names around here. We talk about M&S as if they were real. If I swear, DD2 will say "That's Mark's favorite curse word."  Or if I mention our second president, someone will remind me that "Susanna calls John Adams a vain toad", as if she's an authority on the subject.

I cried when I came to The End. Really. It was like going through empty nest syndrome.  And on the day a few months hence, when I approve the final edited version and see the third book head off to the printer, I'll probably cry again.  I'll want to write novellas and short stories about Mark and Susanna and their fictional friends, just so I can slip into their world(s) again.

There will be other series to write. Other stories to plot. But this book is my first-born. I'm going to miss it a lot.

Yes, M&S are members of the family now.  It's time to let them go.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Write WHERE you know

Several years ago, I read a book that was set in Mississippi. I was raised there, and it's where most of my family still lives. The book felt like it had been written by someone who had, at best, visited. I put the book down after the first chapter. The author had not only captured the setting wrong; it felt as if this peculiar-and-diverse state had been described disrespectfully.  I'll never read that author again.

It's one of the reasons I chose to set Whisper Falls in North Carolina. I'd lived there twenty-five years. I know this place.  The little nuances and Raleigh-isms just flow. Writing my first published novel was hard enough without being tripped up over getting the location correct.

My summer vacation has really brought this home. I'm spending a week in Rotterdam, Netherlands while my daughter attends a conference. I'm not planning to do anything except revise two sequels and enjoy "living" here.

I don't have any plans to set a book in Rotterdam, but I am noticing little details that are completely different from the life I have in the US. Things like:

  • supermarkets are not open on Sundays (which I wish I had known on Saturday)
  • most stores of any kind do not open until around noon on Monday
  • nothing is air-conditioned--including some big, expensive hotels
  • bicycles are almost as numerous as cars; cyclists are more aggressive toward pedestrians
  • there are more ethnically-diverse couples
  • parents hold hands with their children into their tweens
  • people like to eat outside at sidewalk cafes
  • everybody speaks decent (or better) English
 So maybe I'll never use any of this specific data in a book. But no longer will I take A/C, the opening hours of stores, modes of transportation, etc for granted when I write.

In fact, it's just easier to stick with North Carolina. For now.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sister authors

I have a literary agent. She is wonderful, and I'm so grateful that she represents my work. Kevan sells a lot of books. Happily, she's sold four of mine.

Kevan represents a lot of Young Adult (YA) authors. She has a great ability to pick talented authors who write amazing stories. Kevan also does a great job of picking authors who are really nice people.

Many of my agency-sisters attended the Romance Writers of America (RWA) conference held in Atlanta 17-20 July.  I was there too—and loved meeting authors like Katie McGarry, Colette Ballard, Chanel Cleeton, and Jennifer Armentrout.

I know that there are authors around who act like divas. They are reluctant to share their wisdom.  They want to be treated like they're special--without remembering that it is our readers that make them special. But that is not the norm, thankfully.

I met my sister-authors this week, and they were instantly my friends--each one a fun, real, generous part of my writing team.

It didn't matter how long we'd been in the business; we each had something to share. The multi-published authors gave advice to those of us who aren't.  I (who'll spend 18 months between selling and releasing my debut book) was able to share my experiences with contracts, promos, editing, and all of the other details that new authors encounter. And the newly-contracted authors were able to remind us how exciting, thrilling, amazing it is to be launching into our dream career.

And, of course, we all love our readers—the ones we have now and the ones we look forward to having in the future.

I almost didn't go. It's a busy time of year for me. But I learned a lot in the conference workshops. And I made friendships that'll last forever.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Support your local bookstore!

Quail Ridge Books & Music, one of my all-time favorite independent bookstores, will be hosting a book-signing event for me.

Here are the details:

Where: Quail Ridge Books
Date: 24 November 2013
Day: Sunday
Time: 3:00pm

If you love to support indie bookstores as much as I do, please consider ordering Whisper Falls from Quail Ridge!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Gotta love the details

Two weeks ago, I announced that I would be signing my third contract with Spencer Hill Press. (First one was for Whisper Falls, second contract was for two sequels to WF, and the third, drum roll, is for I Wish.)

I promised details, and frankly, they're not all that interesting. But I promised and there is simply no point in breaking a promise so easy to fulfill.

I Wish will be released in November 2014, one month after the final Whisper Falls book.  IW might have sequels. Not sure about that yet. It's still open-ended. Perhaps we'll let the readers decide.

IW will be edited by the Lovely And Talented Jessica. LATJ works with me often, in conjunction with the Manly And Talented Richard. MATR is LATJ's husband. It is quite cool working with a matched set.

LATJ and I have already discussed IW at a high level. We use impressive literary terms like series arc, character development, world-building, and pertinent backstory.The book will be better for it. I'm excited. I want to start now.

Sadly, there is that pesky problem of the two WF sequels that were contracted first.

We often call I Wish 'the genie book.' I assure you that the genie, aka Grant, would object. He is not a genie. It is true that he joined the Guild of Benevolent Supernatural Beings to grant wishes. If it helps you understand his role in the universe to call him a genie, well then, he tolerates that. But he will pity your poor simple mind. Grant has skills. He has protections (via the Guild.) He has a boss. He also has a problem, and her name is Lacey.

When you meet her in November 2014, you'll find out why.

Friday, June 14, 2013

My third contract as an author!

First contract: Whisper Falls

Second contract: Two sequels to Whisper Falls

Third contract: I Wish

Yay! Here are the details.

Elizabeth Langston's I WISH, a teenage girl devotes herself to raising her brother, hiding her depressed mom from social services, and juggling the household bills when an amazingly hot guy appears in a puff of smoke from a music box promising her thirty wishes, to Kate Kaynak at Spencerhill Press, in a nice deal, for publication in Fall 2014, by Kevan Lyon at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency(World English).

Foreign rights: Taryn Fagerness Agency 

More later. I promise!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Heading for NYC

Younger Daughter and I are headed to New York City.

We're going to Book Expo America (BEA), the largest book trade fair in the United States.   I plan to wander around, find out about great books, and pick up as many as I can carry.

But the main reason to go is that I'll be signing copies (i.e. uncorrected proofs1) of my debut novel Whisper Falls.   I cannot wait to see and hold a copy of my book.

If you're going to be at BEA on Friday, drop by the Spencer Hill booth and get a book!

  • Friday, May 31
    • Book-signing at Book Expo America (BEA)
      11:00 am, Booth 2567
      Jake Javits Center - New York City

1 Uncorrected proof - an uncorrected proof is a bound copy of the book. It is just like a real book, except the possibility exists that it might have a typo or two. An uncorrected proof is not available for sale, but it is the book in its entirety. Generally, publishing professionals (such as book store owners, librarians, and book reviewers)receive uncorrected proofs or ARCs (advanced reading copy) so that they can review the book in advance of its publication date.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Body language

My best friend and I were sitting at lunch the other day, and a hot guy walked by. So I said, "That guy is hot." (I'm eloquent that way.)

"Would you say that in front of your husband?" she asked.

"Sure would. And he doesn't mind."

She expressed some disbelief on his behalf, but it's the truth. It has to be.  It is my job to notice people.

I'm an author. I write stories where I must describe things. Human beings are the main things I describe.  Mostly, a story is about what my characters think and how they act. But their appearance (either the one they're born with or the one they create) can have a powerful impact on their thoughts, their actions, how other characters react to them, and--ultimately--how the reader responds.

Authors must be good manipulators of body language.

I know a dozen ways to say "blond."  If I call a girl "overweight", the reader has a different mental image than if I call her "curvy." I might give a minor character light brown eyes, but the hero's eyes are amber.

I pay attention to details. What is the shape of a person's face? Is it symmetric? Do they have scars? Facial hair? Does their hairstyle flatter or detract? How about their hands? Do they have long, elegant fingers? Is the skin supple, rough, or wrinkled? Are the nails long? Manicured? Dirty? Bitten? 

I might say that I find a guy attractive, but I could also write you a five-hundred word description to tell you exactly why. And it is likely that elements of that description will wind up in a book of mine one day.

Authors have careers that require understanding from spouses, but we're not the only ones. Actors kiss people who aren't their partners. Health care providers see and touch bare body parts as part of their daily routine.  The lady at the lingerie store knows precisely what bra size I wear just by looking.

My husband understands. He knows that a lot of what I say is simply exercising the tools of my trade.

Really. If I say you're hot, it's professional, not personal. Most of the time.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Jitters that did not come from coffee

To borrow a phrase from my agent, we are on submission.

Writers are in a golden age, I think. We are no longer limited to one channel for selling our work. Ten years ago, if we wrote a great book, we had to find a publishing house (PH) willing to take a risk on us.  The book had to be different enough to be fresh and unique, but similar enough for the PH to understand how to promote it and where to shelve it in bookstores. So, yeah—fresh, unique, and the same as everything else. Quite the trick.

Today, if no PH will buy our great book because it's too risky, authors have two choices: 1) try self-publishing or 2) hope the market changes so that we can try again later.  There are pros and cons to both.

I'm sticking with the second option for now. Its pros are more compelling for me than its cons. I like having professional help with editing, distributing, and promoting my books—and those qualities tend to be the strengths of publishing houses.

Several years ago, I wrote a book called I WISH. It finaled in an international writing contest known as the Golden Heart®. It caught the eye of my literary agent, who signed me because of I WISH.

We tried for months to sell IW.  We came really close a couple of times.  Even though the responses was positive, the answer was the same. This book is too different. Too risky. We don't know how to market it.

Fine. Whatever. I archived IW and started something new.  After that something new sold, I pulled I WISH out of archive and took another look.  The world had changed enough in the interim that I thought this book still held promise.

First, I have changed. I am a better author now. I've practiced hard, taken classes, and improved my skills at processing feedback. Secondly, technology has changed. The characters have new computers, devices, and information available to them. Thirdly, the market has changed. E-books have expanded the possibilities. Young Adult fiction, with its willingness to experiment with "formulas," has pushed the market along new and exciting terrain.

rotary phone
Given all of those changes, I took my much-loved I WISH apart and put it back together.  I worked hard. I hired a freelance editor and 2 teen beta readers. I listened to them and applied their suggestions. And together, we've made IW even better than before.

My agent has sent the book out there into the publishing world. It could be weeks or months before we know anything.  Until then, I wait for good news, with the jitters in full force.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Juggling all these stories

I have an author-friend who has contracts with five different publishers (three are Big Six and two are mid-size).  She has to produce books for all of these publishers sometime in the next twelve months.

That would be a nice problem to have, although I'm not sure how good I would be at juggling that many. But I guess I'm finding out in April. I've been working on five books this month.

Three of them are in the Whisper Falls trilogy, which hasn't been too bad since they're all so strongly related. I'm making progress on the first draft of Book 3.  My editor is sending me some edits for Book 2.  And I may have to read, for the final time, Book 1 before it gets printed.  (Yes, indeed, the kind of printing that happens with ink and paper and binding.)

I have a YA contemporary manuscript that I wrote a while back.  I love the characters in that book, sort of Romeo&Juliet-ish (without the suicides.) It was the first novel-length manuscript that I ever wrote. Unfortunately, my story-telling skills were immature, so I put R&J-ish aside and studied writing craft.  It took a few years, but I think I'm ready to pick that book back up and unleash the main characters.

Finally, there is my "genie" book. It is the book that intrigued my agent enough to offer representation. Neither one of us have ever given up on I WISH. So I've been tweaking it too, making sure that I'm not standing in the way of Grant and Lacey to get their stories out.  And there might be a sequel or two lurking in there somewhere.

Yeah, contracts to write more books would be a great problem to have.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The moratorium is over

I promised my family that I would take the month of March off, and I did.  It was not fun.

For one thing, it was arbitrary. Why a month?  I did need a break after spending eight months working on Book 2. My husband and daughters deserved my attention. But, as it turned out, they didn't want as much attention as I had available.

The first week was the worst. I had all of these ideas for Book 3 that I wanted to get recorded, but I couldn't. 'Cause I promised.

I created a clean-the-cabinets project.  That died after five cabinets.
stack of books

I started hunting through book review sites, looking for new things to read.  And I discovered the New Adult genre. Yes, I forgot about Book 3 and all my ideas and the cleaning projects to submerge myself in NA books.  I can never write them myself, but I am sold!

It is April 2nd. I started Book 3 yesterday.  And I'm never taking a month off again. I need to write. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Buying the book

I'm often asked if Whisper Falls will release in paperback or digital.

The answer is: both.

You can pre-order the paperback on Amazon right now, and I'll update as more retailers include it.

Eventually, you'll be able to pre-order the digital version, but that likely won't happen until September.1  Trust me, I'll make that information available as soon as I get it.

Thanks for being interested!

1 The e-book will be available from Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and iBookstore. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Happy birthday to my hero

It's my hero's birthday.  My real hero.

That would be my husband. If it weren't for him, I'm not sure if I would be a writer.

Being a writer is a horribly difficult career.  Only masochists should apply. Like any artform, it requires talent, hard work, lessons, practice, and practice. You do your best, display your talent to the world, and wait for.... rejection.

Yes, indeed, rejection is what writers get most of the time. I've been rejected by editors, by agents, by contest judges—and many were cruel. Once my books release, I'll be rejected by critics and readers—and many will be cruel. Let me assure you, even the most secure person gets their soul chipped away from all of that rejection.

birthday candles

That is why a writing career is a terrible choice for the writer's family. With all of the hard work, practice, and rejection it includes, things get neglected, like chores. Meals. Basic civilities. People.

Without the support and encouragement of my husband, I couldn't have done it.  He has waited patiently for more than a dozen years for my writing career to take off. He ignored the messy house (most of the time), pushed me to attend conferences, drove me on research trips, shrugged at the receipts for my expenses, and took the kids away on daddy-daughter trips so that Mom could write. He listened to my insecurities and then did what he could to leave me feeling ever-more-secure. He created the environment in which I could be my best. If my books do well, it's his success too.

Thank you, sweetheart. And happy birthday!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

How many rounds does it take to edit a manuscript?

It takes as many rounds as it takes.

I am on the third and final round of revisions with Whisper Falls, and the manuscript is getting ever closer to perfection. 

Round one focused on big picture changes. Normally, that would involve rewriting shaky parts of the plot.  Mine didn't change much, although I did simplify a subplot for a minor character.

Round two took a deeper look at the characters, their choices, and their reasons for those choices. I didn't change the personalities or voice of any characters—not the hero, heroine, or secondary characters. However, I did add lots of backstory (at least, that is what I call the stuff I added. My editors call the new details essential to understand choices and motivation.)

Round three revolves around refinements. Does the story flow organically from start to finish? Are there any continuity errors? Will readers from all around the globe be able to visualize the North Carolina setting from my narrative?

photo taken by Elizabeth in West Jefferson NC

This last question has been the hardest to resolve. I've lived in North Carolina for so long that I've forgotten how unique this location might be.  Consequently, I've had to sprinkle in several details to enhance the ability of readers to visualize my beautiful home state. My editors, who live in New England, have proven invaluable for these revisions. Weather, flora/fauna, topology, lifestyle—even school calendars—can differ dramatically.  For instance, my hero likes to bike through a park near his home.  The park in question, Umstead State Park, is 5000 acres.  That is NYC's Central Park times seven.  Apparently, parks aren't that big in New England, hence the need for a deeper description.

I should have my final revisions completed later this week.  And then, Whisper Falls will be really and truly done. A few copy-edits later, we go to print!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Now available for preorder

Whisper Falls is now available for pre-order.

When my publisher notified me that I could go out to Amazon and find my book with a search, I have to admit that I started squealing.  Very undignified.  But so what? I'm excited.

Whisper Falls cover has boy in jeans and t-shirt reaching out to girl in eighteenth century clothing

All right, Barnes and Noble.  It is your turn. Catch up!

(And, yes, that is my new cover. Isn't it gorgeous?)

Monday, February 25, 2013

BLogging away in the UK

I have my first blog interview as an author. Check it out. Ask questions.

And for the eagle-eyed among you, you have already noticed that I have a new cover. It's similar to the previous one, with the same gorgeous models. With this one, though, we've tweaked the colors and the proportions.  Woo hoo! I love this cover.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The cover saga

Whisper Falls will be getting a new cover soon. There are a lot of reasons for the change.

First, we want the cover to appeal to readers ages twelve to one hundred.  That is quite a challenge. The old cover featured two models: boy and girl.  They will appear in the new cover as well. But we've changed the boy's clothes to blend better into the woods surrounding him.  Plus the new outfit is more "modest" (and I'm not saying anything else about that. :)

Secondly, the old cover had too much of a Photo-shopped feel to it. It will look more like a straight photograph now (which I really love.)

Lastly, we want to ensure that the cover appeals to a global market. Covers that work well in the US might not work as well overseas, but with a few tweaks, we can give our cover a more universal feel.

planet Earth

When I signed with Spencer Hill Press, I was told that I would get solid input into the cover design.  That sounded really great at the time. Since a publishing house owns the right to design whatever cover they want, the author rarely has a say. I have other author friends whose sales have been burned by bad covers.

But having a say can also be a case of be careful what you wish for.  Many people on the Whisper Falls team voiced opinions about this cover, such as editors, the cover designer, other authors, my agents, family, and friends.  Sometimes, the opinions aligned. Sometimes they didn't.  And always, people came back to me. "What do you like?"

You know what I like? I like words. I love the book and the characters. I think about whether readers will adore this story as much as I do.  I'm not a marketing person or a book-seller.  I don't know the business end of publishing.

That is why I'm so happy to be part of a talented team.  We can all be good and wise at the things we do best.   And I can go back to writing the next book... 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

There is never too much of a good thing

I have read Whisper Falls all the way through at least a dozen times.

I have written (and re-written) every word in the book, all 90,000 of them.

The characters are more familiar to me than most people I know.

And yet, I never get tired of this book. I really love the hero and heroine, the problems they face, and the solutions they discover.


I am so glad that Spencer Hill bought a trilogy, because it means I get paid to spend more time with Mark and Susanna, the heroes of Whisper Falls.  I'm in the middle of Book 2 right now—even as I'm wrapping up the final details with Book 1—and we are having a great time getting the second part of their story out.

Emails and phone calls have been zipping between here and New England (where my editors live). My daughter is primed for a quick, final review of Book 1 (which she has already read three times).  My freelancer is reading through the first draft of A Whisper In Time. The whole process is exhausting and exhilarating.

I love every minute of it!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Appearances and Events

2015 - Upcoming Appearances and Events


  • Sunday, May 17

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Distracted by shiny things

I'm writing the first sequel to Whisper Falls.  Its working title is A Whisper in Time, which I think the publisher will keep but you never know.

Contractually, I was given about nine months to write the first sequel.  That sounded moderately terrifying although, of course, I did agree to the terms.

I am now a few short weeks away from the due date for the first draft. I had my writing schedule perfectly poised to meet that date, with two weeks allotted for a well-deserved break while my freelancer reviewed my new masterpiece. [This is a warning about the fragility of my ego, Miss Free Lancer.]

'The best-laid plans of mice and men...'

Last Saturday night, just about bedtime, I smiled with satisfaction as I saved off my manuscript. It was on track. I was happy.  All was right with the world.  I would check my email one more time before sleeping.

Kitten in mailbox

There was a brand new email in my inbox: Edits for Whisper Falls.

My husband saw the message and said, "Somebody is not going to sleep now."

He was so right.  I was up until the wee hours of the morning reading through those edits.  A week later, I'm still making my way through them.  And that beautifully-arranged schedule for Sequel 1—totally mangled.

Here's hoping I catch up this weekend!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Thinking about websites

I'm blogging at the Ruby-slippered Sisterhood Tuesday. The topic is: making websites easy-to-use for disabled visitors.  (By the way, if it's good for disabled users, it's good for everyone.)  Feel free to drop by, absorb the information, or leave a question.

Even more importantly.... drum roll....

Snare drum

I have a beautiful, redesigned author website.  I love the way it turned out. (Thank you, Austin DesignWorks!)

Visit today. Oooohs and aaaahs may commence.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Another day, another blog

I'm blogging Tuesday at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood (a writing group I belong to).  We'll be talking about readers with disabilities--which includes blindness, dyslexia, and amputations (can't turn pages!)

So join us if you are curious at the blog.

Monday, January 7, 2013

It takes a village

I have become an unapologetic user of people. Everyone I meet becomes a potential source of information for my next book. No one is exempt.

  • Tom-the-personal-trainer offers me insights into the mindset of male athletes. 
  • My physical therapist helps me figure out how to hurt people (and, not surprisingly, he is very good at that). 
  • My nurse practitioner advises me on how long it takes for untreated wounds to become infected (when she's not taking care of me). 
  • My cousin (who is studying to be an English professor) can now serve as my finger-on-the-pulse of academia.
  • All female acquaintances with teenage sons are now my new best friends. 

Yesterday, I had brunch with a friend and two of her amazing kids.  One will soon be a secondary English teacher (yay! another finger-on-the-pulse). The other is a male high school senior.  Poor guy. I had a list of questions waiting for him. If he could have any classic car, which one? What types of sport teams are available in college?  How much do teen soccer players know about knee injuries?

WARNING to all males 14-18: Avoid me if you don't like talking to earnest old ladies. I have an endless supply of things I want to understand about your world.

So, friends, I may be unapologetic about picking your brain, but I am also deeply grateful.  It may be my mind assembling the puzzle pieces of the plot and my voice choosing the words, but it is your knowledge, experiences, and generosity that provide the building blocks.

I thank you all!