Tag Archives | A.J. Paquette

Countdown of my favorite books – part 3.

So let’s look at some middle grade. There are lots of cute books for this age group I enjoy but seem more for kids. Then there are some that speak to all ages. And both of these next books fit that bill. The first one you’ve seen recently on my blog. The story has stayed with me.

NOWHERE GIRL by A.J. Paquette

The writing in this heartfelt and moving story had me clicking my Kindle – fast! It is a book for the ages – all of them! Beautiful prose. Exciting action. Suspense.

THE CASTING by Joyce Shor Johnson.

There might be a reason you haven’t read this story yet – that’s because it’s not out. I beta read this story for Joyce and I loved it. Similar to NOWHERE GIRL in the heartfelt journey, the high stakes, and the inner story! Why don’t we hear a bit more from the author!

1. What’s the history behind The Casting, in the writing of it…etc?

THE CASTING started with a conversation about the Bronze Age with some friends about 10 years ago. Then it became my MFA thesis. I sold it once, but that fell through and now I’m publishing it through Pugalicious Press.

2. How were you able to weave the technology of ancient bronze casting with a character people will care about?

Robyn has dreams and aspirations like any twelve year-old. She needs to make hard choices, the ones that will affect her entire life. So weaving in the history and art was all about illuminating this time in history. I spent a week in Ireland exploring the areas that I wrote about, which really helped with he details. I spent time with a metal smith and watched her work and visited a real foundry. The story just seemed to flow. I love the art of traditional crafting and I love technology. So it was the natural progression of the things I love.

3. What are you currently working on?

I am working on a new middle grade novel that has to with another ancient technology, glass.

4. Why Pugalicious Press? In a few sentences.

Because I like the philosophy behind the press and being part of the team that Pugalicious offers. If you go to their website, they say, “We want our books to be a creative collaboration between authors, artists, designers and editors.” I like this concept and I am so thrilled to be a part of this collaborative effort.

5. What’s your muse? What do you do to find inspiration?

I’d like to say I dig into my own timeless preteen and teenage angst and explore those feelings. But, I look at my children and incorporate what they are experiencing right now, today, and see that so much of the emotions and experiences are the still the same as when I was a kid, except for the technology. I also teach high school, so I get a ton of good stuff there!

Thanks Joyce for answering my questions and putting yourself out there!

THE CASTING is on Kickstarter right now. You can donate small amounts of money or large amounts in exchange for prizes, one being the book! You only pay if Joyce reaches her goal. If this books sounds interesting, head on over and watch the trailer and find out about it! I loved it and can’t wait to hold a copy in my hands and see it on my shelf!


And continue to share your count down of favorite books in the comments!

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Ammi Joan Paquette talks craft, social media and branding.

Let’s welcome Agent Ammi-Joan Paquette. If you missed my review on her debut middle grade, NOWHERE GIRL, you can read it here. She’s here to answer the three biggest questions on writers’ minds today: craft, social media, and branding.

1. In your experience, what are the best ways for writers to improve their writing as they travel the road to publication? What worked for you?

My top suggestions are:

Read widely. I firmly believe that reading excellent published books builds up your internal database—whether or not you’re focusing consciously on structure and tone and language and voice while you’re writing, all that wealth of accumulated input is flowing through your mind, and is bound to contribute to your growth as a writer, resulting in strong output.

Write often. As an author, I’m a big-time revision fiend, and I hate to give up on a project that I’ve invested a lot of time into. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But on the flipside, there’s something about opening a fresh document and launching into a completely new project that flexes muscles you didn’t know you had developed. All the ways you’ve learned and grown in your writing flows unconsciously into this new project. There’s nothing like it. So I’m not saying to stop revising those old trunk novels, but at the same time, do keep an eye to the new, because sometimes what you’ll find there might just surprise you.

Network. We are blessed with such a wide and warm and varied writing community—whether in person or online, be sure to avail yourself of the great wealth of writers who are walking on the same path.

2. I see that you have an author website, but you don’t blog or tweet (that I know of). What are your thoughts on social media and today’s traditionally published author? Do you like your clients to be active in social media?

It seems clear that social media is becoming more and more of a staple for author promotion nowadays. While it’s hard to measure actual results from these publicity methods, it’s undeniable that any time you are getting out there and raising your profile, it can only be a positive thing. (Well, perhaps with a few celebrity exceptions… J) Most importantly, though, I believe every author needs to find what works best for them. Yes, promotion is important—maybe even vital to today’s published author. But how you accomplish this, the methods you choose to use, has to feel authentic and workable for your personality, your schedule, and your abilities. Trying to do something because you’ve been told to, or because it’s “the thing to do” can never produce the desired results because your actions aren’t coming from that place that defines you as a person.

So yes, I encourage my authors to be active in social media and promotion—to the extent of their interest and comfort level. And sure, there are times when you want to stretch and challenge yourself outside of that magic zone; but still, within that stretching, there is the ring of truth in your own heart that says, “This is something I feel strongly about doing—it’s not easy, but I want to be here doing it.”

To me it’s above all about authenticity and being who you are as a person and as an author.

But beyond all of that, I sincerely believe that the most important thing authors can do with their time is to keep writing. This is what got you onto the bookshelf to begin with: your ability to write heartfelt, moving, beautiful words. And promotion can be a mega time-eating monster with no beginning and no end. So I would encourage authors to cherish your alone time so you can keep producing those works of art which are, in the end, the one thing that will last and the only thing that really matters.

3. Congratulations on all your book deals. You write picture books, middle grade, and young adult. Lately, writers seem to be under a lot of pressure to brand, brand, brand. What are your thoughts on the importance of writers branding themselves and their writing? How important do you feel it is for aspiring writers to think about this?

Branding can be a terrific thing for a certain type of author whose writing style lends itself to cultivating one strong literary form with a specific core readership. And… then there’s the rest of us. J I do believe that publishing as a whole is moving away from the Name Brand Author being the norm, and are beginning to embrace the fact that many authors like to write in a wide range of genres and for a wide variety of age groups. Once again, there’s no “one size fits all” model for authors nowadays, and I’m a big believer in authors following their heart and their passion as the means to producing their best and strongest work.

Check out Joan’s previous work.


With the THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO FINDING MERMAIDS out in spring 2012.

And in the summer of 2013 look for PARADOX – Four teenagers. A spaceship. A desolate planet. And one dark force that will stop at nothing to possess them.

Thanks Joan for being honest with us today! Good luck with all your coming releases!

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Got a craving for a great story? Check out NOWHERE GIRL.

You know when you get a craving for something? Like candy corns. Or root beer? Or pickles?

Lately, I’ve been craving poetic writing that flows with rich language and evocative emotion but still has a great story behind it. I found that in NOWHERE GIRL by A.J. Paquette. As with most of my buys, I made this purchase after reading the first page.

Fourteen-year-old Luchi is anything but an ordinary American teenager. Born in a remote country prison in Northern Thailand, her mother’s death pushes Luchi into the outside world–and into the web of secrets that was her mother’s past. A coming-of-age story that follows a compelling character on her journey across continents, and oceans, and into a future she cannot begin to imagine.

Here it is on Amazon.

An extremely well written story, each sentence, each paragraph led me to the next one and then the next one. But it was more than just the writing. It was Luchi, the main character, and her journey to find the truth behind her family.

A thrilling story.

I asked Ms. Paquette how I could help promote NOWHERE GIRL. She mentioned there were several interviews that covered the basics. And she was right.

If you want to read about Joan’s publishing journey and how she balances being an agent and an author, click over to Anna’s blog.

“But so far there haven’t been any major conflicts, and in fact, the two roles feed off each other beautifully, each one supplying the energy and spark needed to bring out the best in the other.”

If you want to read about Joan’s writing process and how she developed such a rich character in Luchi, click over to Emu’s Debuts.

“My first drafts tend to be very slim—I definitely write short and return to add in layers afterward.”

“I love being able to immerse myself in a place and make my readers feel as if, even for just a moment, they have set foot on that ground too. What could be better than that?”

If you want to know more about researching a foreign setting and how to include that in your writing, click over to Kiss The Earth.

“Right from the start, the image of this tree-lined road burned itself clear and sharp into my mind—compounded by the fact that this road was the very one that Luchi would be traveling upon in her journey south.”

And come back on Friday when Agent Paquette answers the three top questions burning in writers’ minds today. You’ll find out Friday what they are! And about her new releases in 2012-2013.

Exciting stuff!

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