We are so excited to have Charles Curtis here with us today discussing five things he wished he knew before he was published! Charles is the author of the Middle Grade Paranormal novel, Strange Country Day. But first, a tidbit about the book!
Strange Country Day
Publication date: August 18, 2015
Publisher: Tantrum Books/Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Charles Curtis
Alexander Graham Ptuiac, the son of an inventor, wants to play for the school’s football team. During tryouts, and under the watchful eye of the team’s coach, he suddenly manifests mysterious superhuman powers. Alexander makes the team, but not before the some ill-intended adults take notice, putting his life in danger.
Alex struggles to suppress and control his strange new abilities, worried about exposing his secret and being kicked off the football team. Then he befriends Dex, a diminutive classmate who can somehow jump as high as ten feet in the air. Seems Alex isn’t the only one at school with a secret.
As the school year unfolds, Alex will find himself the target of bullies, holding hands with his first crush and discovering the shocking truth about himself and his parents.
5 Things I Wish I Knew About Publishing Before I was Published
By: Charles Curtis
1) Releasing your book to the public is like sending your kid to kindergarten the first time. I wrote a little bit about this on Father’s Day. Book Con was my first-ever signing and the first time I got to physically hold my book, the result of years of work and multiple rounds of editing. And when I sold a few copies, I felt a ball of icy nervousness in my stomach. I thought, “I’m sending my ‘child’ into the world.” I never thought about that until the moment the doors opened up at Book Con.
2) I’m not just an author. I’m now a marketing manager and a member of the sales force. Another thing that hit me at Book Con: Authors are no longer just the writers of their works. The pressure is on me to get the word out to the public through things like Twitter (@charlescurtis82, come say hi!) and to convince readers why they should sift through the thousands of titles available and pick mine. I have an awesome team behind me doing just that, but I have to be more active than I originally expected. Here’s my elevator pitch I’ve been honing: X-Men meets football when a couple of seventh graders suddenly find out they’ve got special powers they use on the field. Why do they have abilities? And who’s chasing them to answer that question?
3) Writing the second novel in a series is much harder than producing the first. I’m experiencing this literally as you read it. I wrote the first “Strange Country Day” on spec over quite a few years with no deadline, no expectations and no pressure. All of that, of course, has changed. Added to that are the expectations of your readers and the complexity of a story filled with twists, increased drama and new characters.
4) The “young adult” books I used to read are no longer what’s known as “young adult.” YA is now for an older crowd. In its place is “middle grade.” I’m more familiar with the 21st century definition of YA (I’m a big fan of series like “The Fifth Wave”) and the more adult themes that come along with it, so I had to find the right voice and vocabulary for a younger audience, all while making sure I didn’t cross certain lines when it came to violence and the romantic lives of my characters. The other challenge? Not talking down to my audience at the same time. It’s a tricky balance.
5) You’re writing and marketing as much for parents, teachers and librarians are you are for kids. I hear what you’re thinking: “Hi there, Captain Obvious!” But when you write a middle grade novel, you think about what the kids want to read. However, who buys books and vets them to make sure their kids will enjoy them? The answer is now more obvious to me and helped focus on my target audience going forward. I would love to see this book featured in a school book club – I can see students debating the morality of using special powers to win a football game in a sports world where performance enhancing drugs are a hot topic.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charles Curtis is a writer and journalist based in New York City. He has reported and written for publications including NJ.com (where he is currently the site’s sports buzz reporter), The Daily, ESPN.com, ESPN the Magazine, Bleacher Report, TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly. Charles has covered the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, golf, tennis and NASCAR. He has also written about television, film and pop culture.
In addition, Curtis has also written, produced and was featured in videos for ESPN.com and The Daily. He has made radio appearances on stations including 92.9 The Ticket in Bangor, Maine, WLIE 540 AM in Long Island and on morning shows across Canada via the CBC.
He can be reached on Twitter: @charlescurtis82.
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