Tag Archives: fear

Celebrating MOTHMAN’S CURSE by Christine Hayes!

Mothman's Curse Final CoverWe are on a celebratory roll here at Emu’s Debuts with another book launching into bookstores and libraries near you this week. And you don’t want to miss this one, especially if you are a fan of spooky stories! Mothman’s Curse by Christine Hayes is about three kids who discover a polaroid camera that prints pictures haunted with the ghost of the local town recluse. The kids are quickly sucked into a mystery that involves cursed jewelry, an unhappy spirit, and the legendary Mothman.

Kirkus Reviews gave this middle grade mystery a starred review saying, “Along with a red-eyed, winged monster who is not at all shy about appearing, even over crowds of terrified onlookers, Hayes folds sudden blasts of bone-chilling cold, conversations with the dead, and plenty of other thrillingly eerie elements into a tale that winds suspensefully to a wild, scary climax. An ectoplasmic extravaganza . . . tailor-made for reading beneath the bedcovers.”

Comment on any post this week and you will be entered to win a signed copy of Mothman’s Curse!  Or pick up a copy for yourself or a friend at the following retailers: Amazon, IndieboundBarnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, and Powell’s

Before we get to the festivities, we have two winners from our previous launch weeks to announce:

Congratulations Ann Bedichek Braden! You are the winner of a signed copy of My Dog is the Best by Laurie Thompson!


Congratulations Bridget R. Wilson! You are the winner of a signed copy of Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman!


And now to kick off the Mothman party, we decided to share some photos and talk about what scares us, but something seems to have gone awry with our cameras because these photos don’t seem quite right . . .



Here I am enjoying a nice tranquil day by the ocean, thinking about what a great read MOTHMAN’S CURSE is, and appreciating being OUT of the water since I’m terrified of what’s in it, and surely I will be safe if I’m on dry land.



Uh, Maria? I know you and Becca are happily celebrating MOTHMAN’S CURSE but you might want to back slowly away from that fence. On second thought, I’d run if I were you!



I think Megan may have noticed there’s someone else in her reflection besides herself . . .


Penny is being haunted by a spider as big as her head!


This photo was taken at the Old Asylum where Susan works. Those are stairs in an observatory tower with restricted access where nobody was supposed to be. The stairs were empty when Susan’s coworker snapped this photo, but when he got home it appears the stairs might not have been as empty as they’d originally thought.


Tam has a fear of snakes, so I think you should keep drawing happy pictures, Tam, and whatever you do DON’T look over your shoulder.



Carole wants to wish Chris a happy book publication week, but she’s trapped in a phone booth in London, and it looks like she has company.


Here is our lovable author, Christine, on vacation with her husband but wait . . . What’s that shadow coming over the mountain? Oh no–it’s the Mothman!! Quick! RUN!!! Run to your nearest bookstore or library to pick up a copy of MOTHMAN’S CURSE!


Filed under Book Launch, Book Promotion, Celebrations

Permission to Fail: Granted


This is a red F, in crayon, that I have awarded a gold star. Yay, failure.

A draft of my second book is due in a few days, but it’s not finished.  The reason it’s not finished is that I don’t want to write the end, and the reasons I don’t want to write the end are these:

1. I want to write a satisfying ending, but there can only be a truly satisfying ending when the structure of the plot is sound enough to usher the story to an equally sound conclusion.

1b. Therefore, if I write the ending and it isn’t fully satisfying, I’ll have proof that the plot isn’t fully cooked;

1c. Which means I’ll have to do rewrites.

2. If I write the ending, the draft will be finished.

2b. As soon as the draft is finished, it’s due to my editor.

2c. My editor really likes my first book.  What if I give her the second one, and she thinks it’s a total letdown?  What if, as an author – which is something I’ve worked very hard for a chance to be – I turn out to be a one-book wonder?

There’s only one thing on that list – #1 – that’s actually based in a desire to write well.

All the other reasons are based in fear.  Specifically, the fear of failure.

I’m not unique.  We all fear failure.  And we know that we have to push through that fear if we’re ever going to achieve our goals.  But the human brain has an amazing talent for knowing something and ignoring it at the very same time.  For example, take 1c, above.  I am certain that there will be rewrites.  I have come to expect many rounds of rewrites.  Why am I pretending that I can somehow escape what is inevitable (and important)?

I don’t know.  But I do know that I have to write an ending.  Like, right now.

Today, I gave myself permission to write pure crap.  And by “gave myself permission” what I really mean is that I forced myself to write words even while knowing that they are not my best. I let every hackneyed phrase stay put, I let the gushy mushies take over, I overused adverbs and got spicy with the dialogue tags, I exercised no restraint, and I told rather than showed (gasp and horror, yeah, yeah).  I reminded myself that my editor is a professional who has seen first drafts before and will not damn me for mine.

(I also reminded myself that I still have a couple of days, so if I finish now, I’ll have a tiny window of time to do a little tweaking before I send it in.)

The result of giving myself this permission is that I’m finally closing in on the end of this draft, which is exactly what I need to be doing right now.  What I’m generating does not thrill me yet, but that’s okay. It doesn’t feel okay, but it actually is okay.  It’s even necessary.  If I want to write something good, then I have to write something.

While I’m on a roll, I think I’ll also give myself permission to fail in writing a decent conclusion to this post, because you know what?  I really want to get back to writing my crappy ending.


HiRes_Morrison_6861_cropMegan Morrison is the author of GROUNDED: A TALE OF RAPUNZEL, due out summer 2015 from Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic. GROUNDED is the first book in the Tyme Series, co-created with Ruth Virkus. You can follow Megan on her blog at makingtyme.blogspot.com or on Twitter at @megtyme. She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.



Filed under Anxiety, Deadlines, Writing

The 12 Days of a Book Contract (Fa la la)


Well, tinsel my snowflakes, friends, it’s that time of year and I am deep in the trenches of the holiday concert season. It always tends to go something like, “Yay!!! Holiday music!!!” then, “Yay. Holiday music,” then, “OK, how many performances do I have left?” then, “SING FROSTY AT ME ONE MORE TIME AND I WILL CUT YOUR FACE.”

Luckily, it’s only the first week of December, so I have plenty of festive cheer and good will toward men and Emus left in the tanks. This blog attempts to capture that special, fleeting time between contract and launch — much like those 30 magical seconds between Thanksgiving and Black Friday — and in the spirit of the season, I’ve decided to reflect on the gifts large and small that a book contract has offered me. Sing along at home!


On the First Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

1. Excitement!!!

YAY!! Like, you guys!! MY BOOK! It’s going to be a BOOK! Like for realz!! OMG SO HAPPY!! I have never, ever been this happy about anything ever.


On the Second Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

2. Deadlines

Wait, I had my entire life to write this book in the first place, and now I have to revise it and write a whole other one? By a date?

On the Third Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

3. Money


I have some friends who are professional folk singers, and they say, “You want to know the secret to making a million dollars in folk music? Start with two.” Writing is like that. No one should go into writing for the money. But when you’re Ramen noodle poor (. . . or would that be Ramen noodle rich?), a little advance money goes a long way. More importantly, it’s a major psychological boost to have someone say, “I like what you’re doing so much I’m going to give you money to keep doing it.”

We as consumers have the power to say this, too, by buying books or recordings or art. Pretty awesome.

On the Fourth Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

4. Crippling anxiety

So, yeah. Surprise! I’ve always had a penchant for hyperventilating in Wal-Mart, but lately any amount of drama or the slightest hint of conflict has sent my brain into overdrive and curled me up into a shifty-eyed ball. Don’t get me wrong — in my shriveled, black heart, I am still deliriously happy about selling a book. But some days I just want to shove the whole thing back into my head and hide it under a squishy pink lobe where no one will ever see it, ever. Then no one will be able to give it bad reviews or say mean things about it on Amazon.

What’s worse is that there’s no escaping it. Every book ever written has been on the receiving end of bad reviews and mean comments, especially in the cold, prickly expanse of Internet. Joyce’s Ulysses has 3.73 stars out of 5 on Goodreads right now. Really. Go look, I’ll wait.

Right? 2,924 people to date have given this book one star. One reviewer claims it “ruined a week at the beach.” Ruined a week at the beach.


There’s nothing wrong with 3.73 stars or 4.9 stars or 2.14 stars or .08 stars. As my mom says, nothing people say about a book changes even one word of that book. But the fact that I know the hate mail is coming has made my circuits go haywire. 

On the Fifth Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

5. Red Bull


Why did I take this picture?

On the Sixth Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

6. Fantasy Math

I’ve never done so much math, and I used to teach math. Little fantasy maths here and there. How much money I would make if my book sold 10,000 copies. 100,000 copies. A million copies. How much money my publisher would be in the hole if my book didn’t sell any copies at all. How many words I need to write every day between Now and Then in order to have This Many Words. How many words I’ve averaged per day since This Date. How much more disposable income I would have if I ate the cats.


Think of what I’d save on exorcisms alone.

On the Seventh Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

7. Blog interviews

As Tolstoy famously said, “The writing community rocks the house.” I’m so excited to be bouncing around to different blogs, keeping up with other writers and spreading the word about my own upcoming release. It’s super crazy fun, and writers are awesome. The strangest interview I’ve done so far was on a blog where the questions are standard, so even though it’s technically the blog interviewing you, you’re kind of interviewing yourself, and in mine you can totally tell. It’s a bit amusing and informative and lonely and weird all at the same time.

On the Eighth Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

8. Sudden Limitless Capacity for Strong Opinions About Minutiae

It’s funny, my editor came to me with a couple kinda big things copyedit-wise, like the name of my protagonist, and I didn’t really care. But HOLY CATS, when my ellipses came under fire, I was ready to take a red pen to the freaking Supreme Court. And don’t you look sideways at that comma on page 9 or I will mess you up.

On the Ninth Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

9. Hygiene

The best thing about writing is that it doesn’t have to involve leaving the house, or even the bed. It doesn’t require socks, showers, feeding yourself, or ever changing out of your purple polar bear pajamas. Did I say, “the best thing”? Maybe I just meant, “the thing.” Anyway, I’ve been making more of an effort lately to be presentable, because it’s not just me I’m representing at launches and conferences and workshops, it’s partially The Book as well, and The Book is made up of a lot of people. Some of whom are attractive and sophisticated.


The Book sings Disney duets at karaoke night instead of “It’s Raining Men” because Classy.

On the Tenth Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

10. Fear

The topic of Fear is a popular one here and elsewhere in the writeosphere, so I know you know where I’m coming from, my friends. The unknown is one of the scariest things there is, and getting a book deal (not to mention just writing in general) is like being handed a big fat bag of unknown. Some of the unknown is good, like excitement and anticipation. But the remainder is fear, of disappointing readers, letting my awesome publisher down, failing my awesome agent Joan, screwing up so badly that I destroy my career and possibly the future of publishing in general. We don’t need to dwell on this, but it may be helpful to hear it again. Yep. Writing is scary.

On the Eleventh Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

11. Shorter Conversations About What I Do

Writers write. It’s a pretty easy definition that doesn’t include the word “contract” anywhere at all, and I’ve already written a whole post about this on here. So this one isn’t fair, but there it is. I’ve found that it’s much easier to get to the end of the, “So, what do you do?” conversation if you can say you have a book coming out. The world appears to understand that.

On the Twelfth Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

12. New Friends

As we’ve established, the writing community rocks.


“Launch party at my place. Gonna be epic. Bring your beards!”

Especially, dare I say, the kidlit/YA lit community. Seriously, guys. Everyone is all so nuts and fragile and worried and strange and delightful, and it’s the support of this huge extended writer family that gets me from one sentence to the next. Agent Joan is a total rockstar. St. Martin’s Press is a marvelous place to grow a book. And, of course, I am particularly fond of my fellow Emus, pictured here at an impromptu gathering at an SCBWI conference:


We are a sexy, sexy bunch.

Fa-la-la-la laaaaaaa, la-la, la, laaaaaaaa! 


When I was soliciting ideas for this post at my parents’ tree decorating yesterday, my mom’s two glasses of wine shouted, “Remainders!” and then giggled uncontrollably. NOT YET, MOTHER. IT HAS TO COME OUT FIRST.

What about you? What gifts, welcome or otherwise, has the writing life given you? 


About Me


Filed under Agents, Anxiety, Blogging, Book Promotion, Celebrations, Colleagues, Guilt, Happiness, Helpful or Otherwise, rejection and success, Reviews, Writing and Life

Sophomore Book: Risk, Fear and Simian Interference

Taking risks has never been a problem for me.  I was the kid who tried to swing over the top of the swingset bar.  I was the teenager who hitchhiked to my Irish host family’s house one night late after the Dublin buses stopped running.  I moved across the country at nineteen with a baby on my hip, three thousand miles from anything familiar, when all my worldly possessions fit in one half of a two-car garage – including the car.  I’ve rolled the knucklebones on everything from college to jobs to amateur plumbing, and most of the time I come up sevens.  Call me brave, call me stupid – but if something takes guts, I’m a good person to call.

When it comes to my second book, my problem is not risk.  It’s not fear.  My problem is the suck monkey.

Maybe some of you are familiar with the suck monkey.  It’s that heavy weight that latches onto your back when you’re trying to write, winds its sharp little claws around your collarbone and whispers in your ear how much you suuuuuuuck.

This draft?  This one you’re trying to plow through?  It’s never going to amount to anything.  You’re going to hit 25k and shut down.  Those characters?  Wooden.  That thing you’re trying to pass off as a plot?  A joke.  And that dialogue?  Seriously?  You weren’t planning to show this miserable pile to anyone, were you?

The suck monkey is insidious because it doesn’t ever say anything you haven’t already told yourself.  All it does is echo back your own ridiculous, overblown insecurities.  And one thing that resonated with me about Natalie’s Monday post was this idea of expectations.

You’re no longer a blank slate.  Your name is now attached to a genre and a style and maybe even a series.  The suck monkey feeds on that too.  The suck monkey wants you to know that now you have that much further to fall, that many more people to disappoint if you’re not gushing genius onto the page every time you sit down for those guaranteed fifteen minutes.

The suck monkey can’t be shaken off.  It can’t be bribed or cajoled or flattered or wrenched off by force.  It has to get down – or at least shut up – of its own volition.

Here’s how I get the suck monkey shut up: I confront it.  I pet its matted, nasty fur and admit that yes, every word appearing on the page now does in fact suck.  It’s made brick by brick of suck and mortared together with pure, unadulterated suck.  And right now?  That’s okay.  It might suck now.  It might suck tomorrow.  But it ain’t gonna suck forever.

Mortared with mortar. Not with suck.

This confuses the suck monkey.  It makes the suck monkey feel visible.  The suck monkey doesn’t like light shined on the head games it’s trying to play with me.  It doesn’t like being called into the open.  It needs quiet to make me believe.

And I can’t believe if I’m not quiet.


Filed under Writing