Monday, March 3, 2014

Tips for Breaking into the Publishing Industry ft. An Interview with Jeanne De Vita

The publishing industry can be a daunting one to break into especially if you don't have a relevant internship under your belt. This is where it gets even more daunting because internships are hard to come by if you don't have relevant experience. I was very fortunate to be able to snag an internship with the amazing Jeanne De Vita who graduated from my university, so I figured who better to talk to about the industry than someone who's actually in it!

Jeanne De Vita

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I'm the Assistant Editorial Director for Musa Publishing. I'm also a developmental editor, so that means I manage administrative work for the company in addition to reading submissions and acquiring and editing books. On a personal level, I crochet, I have a dog, I do a lot of volunteer work with children with complex medical and other special needs, and I also write under a pen name. I am from Chicago but spend a lot of time in Los Angeles - I've been in LA for about the last nine months. I have an eight month old niece, so Chicago is home but LA is becoming my second home.

What is your background in book publishing?
I feel like I have been in publishing since I was a child, seriously. My mother published her first book when I was about 12 years old. For several years before that she wrote and was rejected and attended meetings and read books about the craft of writing. She was absolutely 100% self-taught and so I really saw first hand everything from absolute rejection to pretty exciting success. I've enjoyed writing for myself since I was about seven years old but publishing as a business has felt like second nature to me. And I have to give a huge shout out to my mom, here. I have vivid memories from a very young age of mom typing (yes typing) articles and mailing them out, of trying different genres and styles before she finally got her first break. If watching my mom taught me anything, it was the profound value of study, passion, and commitment.

Cover art for "An Unstill Life" by Kate Larkindale
(Buy it here)
One of the books Jeanne is most proud to have edited

How did you get to this point in your career?
My story is definitely not the only way to break into publishing, but it's one way. I wrote a lot in high school and college and won scholarships and awards for my undergrad writing, but I supported myself after my freshman year of college, so balancing a job that paid the rent and writing was an absolute must. I balanced reading, writing, editing, and a day job through my late 20's when I was accepted to the University of Notre Dame's MFA program in Creative Writing, fiction concentration. I worked the entire time I was in the program, teaching, doing other odd jobs including one colorful stint at a dating service. The MFA degree isn't essential for everyone, but the experience of getting that degree allowed me to edit and publish in a real world way, in addition to teaching me how to instruct other people in writing. I wrote a lot of course, but I feel the MFA program taught me to teach, slush read, and edit even more than it gave me space to write. I had my first publication as an editorial assistant and seeing my name in print like that was thrilling. Sitting face to face with a class of college freshmen teaching rhetoric, argumentation, and composition at a place like Notre Dame - well, that brought out my A game. I completed my MFA 14 years ago! In the years since, it would be an understatement to say that life has intervened. I've continued to write and edit and work day jobs while experiencing the death of loved ones, major health issues - nearly debilitating health issues I experienced in my 30's. So I think the path for each peson is different but the critical issue is to keep at it, whatever it is that you love. Just keep working.

Cover art for "The Dark Citadel" by Jane Dougherty
(Buy it here)
One of the great books edited by Jeanne

What does a typical workday look like for you?
Musa operates a virtual office, so my typical workday starts when I open my eyes in the morning - whatever time that is! We have authors all around the world, so I inevitably wake up to new emails, submissions, everyday. And since we can work 24/7, I am somewhat tied to my job, but it's beyond a doubt completely worth it. I know I'm in the right place because even when I've answered all the emails and it's Friday night and I am babysitting my niece, I'm thinking about work, about our authors, about a book I am going to edit.

The job is very diverse which is also what makes it so fun. At Musa we have a really wonderful staff and a really open team approach, so if you're willing to step in and help, you've got work. So while I have a core workload of acquiring and editing books, helping with promotions, managing social media accounts, I also hire and develop interns and staff. I give input and help authors with every kind of question under the sun from, should I change my title, do you like this cover art, I'm thinking about attending this conference. I help other editors, contribute to business planning issues. It's like being a teacher, counselor, artist, and more. It's really a wonderful job and the only time I don't love it is...never!

What advice do you have for people who want to enter the book publishing industry?
I think the digital nature of our business means that there are just so many opportunities out there. If you want to get into publishing, be sure you love it. I have lost many editors because they thought they would love the work but don't realize how tedious and difficult it can be. Study writing - the craft. Read books about the craft. It's really important to be able to know from a place deep in your mind and heart why something works - and then be able to communicate that to others. You need to read a lot, write a lot, edit a lot. Take unpaid work as an intern or assistant. Nothing is "unpaid" if you earn valuable skills. The best currency though is passion. No matter what drives you in life if you approach it consistently, work hard, and never give up, you'll find your way.

Cover art for "The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis" by Sharon Ledwith
(Buy it here)
One of the great books edited by Jeanne

So, there you have it, the inspirational Jeanne De Vita. She is definitely an amazing person to intern for! If you would like to learn more about her or to connect with her on social media, here are her links:


Monday, February 3, 2014

Musa Publishing is Looking for Submissions!

It is the dawn of a new year, and Musa Publishing is looking to work with you! If you have always dreamed about becoming a published author, this is your chance; we are looking for submissions!

Musa is home to many imprints: Aurora Regency, Calliope, Clio, Erato, Melpomene, Pan, Penumbra, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, Urania, and - of course - Euterpe! What does this mean for you? Well, it means that we accept submissions for genres ranging from romance to horror.

However, at Euterpe, our focus is young adult fiction.

What will set apart your young adult submission? Quality writing. This means that we are looking for authors who are serious about the craft of writing. Sure, the character, story, setting are important, but we are also looking for authors who can execute their stories with flair. If you believe that you can live up to these standards, please read on.

The editors of the different imprints have different expectations. For a detailed list of that, please visit the Submissions page on our website.

We request that you submit your manuscripts electronically here through our online form.

What will you need to submit? We typically ask for a query letter, a synopsis of your story, and the first 20 pages of your manuscript. If we like what we see, we will contact you for your entire manuscript.

Please visit the Submissions page for a complete list of guidelines before you submit anything.

Happy writing!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Today is Multicultural Children's Book Day!

Research suggests that ONLY 10% of children’s books contain diversity content. That number is much too low and does not reflect the true makeup of our multicultural world! Multicultural Children’s Book Day was created to showcase children's books that celebrate diversity. To help you create reading lists and favorite reads, Musa Publishing is giving away free copies of three of our multicultural titles! Please share in the celebration of multicultural fiction and enter to win a copy of one of these books below.

Escucha Means Listen

Escucha Means Listen

First Frost and Glass Frost

Last Timekeepers and The Arch of Atlantis and Legend of the Timekeepers  

To enter to win a copy of one of the books, please leave a comment on this blog with your email address.  Comments must include an email address to be included in the drawing.  Winners will be selected by random drawing and notified Tuesday, January 28, 2014.

Spread the word to families, teachers, and libraries! 

You can learn more by checking out

Monday, November 4, 2013

5 Questions with S D Everington, author of BOY RED

To celebrate the release of Boy Red, the Euterpe blog caught up with the novel’s author S D Everington, with some revealing Q&A.

1)      What kind of reader were you as a young adult?

As a teenager at school, there was a huge distinction between the books you had to read and the books you wanted to read. The first time the two coincided for me was To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, which we studied for our GCSE English Literature exam. I was right there with Scout and the whole character cast. It is such a thought provoking, engaging book – a real ‘must read.’ That was the first time a book I read at school touched me. Other than that, it was the Judy Blume books that were doing the rounds at our school. We thought Forever was so illicit!

2)      Why do you like writing for young adults?

I am drawn to writing for young adults as there are so many themes and topics that resonate with this audience. That sense of being on the edge of change and being open to the world excites me. Plus there is less literary snobbery in YA fiction – less of a distinction between literary and mainstream work. I particularly like the idea of writing young adult books that appeal to both genders and to bigger adults too. J That’s what I attempted to do with Boy Red.

3)      What inspired you to write Boy Red?

Boy Red, like all my writing, was inspired by a series of unconnected real happenings that got under my skin and worked their way into a story. For various reasons, I became quite preoccupied with the whole nature v nurture debate, and what makes a person who they are. Red, the 16-year-old protagonist, faces this issue head on when he discovers that the man he thought of as his dad is not, in fact, his biological father. I know it sounds corny but Red just started talking to me one day and telling me his story and I was compelled to listen until I found out the ending.

4)      What would you do if you weren’t a writer?

In fact, I do many other things already! I am also a teacher and a charity worker. For me, the idea of being a ‘full-time writer’ is strange. I think you need diverse experiences to write; you need to have a rich life, not sit at a computer all day, every day! If I didn’t have writing as a creative outlet, I’m sure I would find another medium, maybe visual art or food art. The urge to create is always there! Maybe in another life, I could be an inventor!

5)      What advice would you give to young people who are interested in becoming writers?

Go for it! You don’t need anyone to tell you that you are A Writer. You are a writer as soon as you put pen to paper and write. Read lots and write lots. It’s as simple as that. When people say they want to become a writer, they often mean that they want to get published. That’s a whole different ball game. The publishing industry can be fickle, difficult, demanding. But there are some wonderful independent publishers around, just like Musa Publishing, and perseverance and good writing usually pay off eventually!

Link to Boy Red on Musa

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

COMING SOON!  November 1, 2013 Release

The day after his sixteenth birthday, Red discovers that the man he calls ‘Dad’ is not his biological father. Will Red be able to track down the anonymous sperm donor who gave him life? What will he learn about himself along the way? And just what else are his parents hiding?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Advice from An Author -- Dusty Crabtree

This week's author...

Dusty Crabtree

Hey guys! Euterpe intern Camille here with Dusty Crabtree, high school English teacher and author of Shadow Eyes, to give her tips for aspiring authors.

"My writerly advice would be on revision," she says. "It's something I do while I'm writing several times, after each chapter, and then again when it's all finished.  Basically, revise until you have your story memorized." 

That's an awful lot of revising, Dusty. Are you sure it's really necessary? She insists: "Have you heard the saying, 'There are no final drafts, only deadlines'?  I tend to agree with this.  I was still revising up until I signed with Musa Publishing, then I revised some more before I got my editor, and then I revised again with her help."

With all her insistence on revision, Mrs. Crabtree gave us a few things to watch out for. Here are her revision tips: 

1. Show, don’t tell – You’ve probably heard this before.  It’s such a common editing phrase that it’s cliché.  But it is so important!  A lot of this is changing adjectives and adverbs to descriptions.  Instead of telling us, “Britney was angry,” or even, “Britney’s anger showed in her face,” how about “Britney pressed her lips into a thin, taut line as her eyes narrowed to slits and her entire body became a rigid, volatile, hyper-sensitive stick of dynamite that would go off at the slightest touch.”

2.Get rid of filtering.  Filtering is when we tell the story through the character’s eyes, instead of letting the readers experience it themselves.  If the story’s in 1st person, you’ll use phrases like “I knew, I saw, I heard, I felt, I thought, etc.”  Check out the examples below to see the difference.  Little changes can make a big difference.

Good: “From the street I could see a small sliver of light where the dark curtains met but didn’t quite touch in the middle of the window.”

Better: “From the street a small sliver of light glowed where the dark curtains met but didn’t quite touch in the middle of the window.”

Good: “I knew I would have to make it to the edge of the woods.  It was the only way.”

Better: “I had to make it to the edge of the woods.  It was the only way.”

3. Check for repeated words - I have a running list of around 20 words I tend to use a lot - some just because of my writing style (like/as if, finally, turn)  and some due to the nature of the book (ex. shadows, dark/black).  I'm still adding to the list every once in a while.  Lol!  I search for each word at the end of each chapter to make sure I don't have too many close together, changing them up with the help of the amazing to add variety.

4. Cut unimportant parts (phrases, sentences, whole sections).  If it drags the story or doesn’t add to the story’s plot, character development, theme, etc., get rid of it.  It might be amazing writing, hilarious, or so moving it could win an Oscar if played out on the big screen, but just as movies must delete scenes and lines for the sake of the overall movie, your story will have to do the same.  (Note: For the bigger sections, especially, you may need an outsider to help you know what’s not as important because it's all going to seem important to you.)

Wow! Thanks, Dusty! These are some great tips! I think I'm going to write my own novel now... If you are as inspired as I am, go give Dusty a shout out on Twitter or Facebook. Or, if you want more of Dusty you can follow her blog here.

Interested in her book Shadow Eyes? You can view the book trailer here or buy your own copy here.

 Now, get out there and start writing! 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What I Learned From Terry Kay, Part 3 (by Kaitlin Bevis)

The most interesting piece of advice I got from Terry Kay at GCTE regarded writer's block. Introduce a new character. Even if you don't keep that character, the introduction to a new person in the situation will force you to look at it from another angle. How your current characters react to this new character IN their current situation will also really informs your writing. 

Another fantastic suggestion was to read your story out loud. I do this every single draft. I catch so many errors this way and it also tells me when something sounds unnatural. If it sounds weird when you read it out loud, then it reads weird. But its hard to see that in your own writing. Hearing it is a whole other story. 

Reading your dialogue out loud also really helps to tell you if the dialogue flows well and sounds natural. In my writer's group, a problem we often see in new writers is that they have long, unbroken streams of dialogue. No one talks like that. Read it out loud and note where you pause, fidget, feel your mind wandering then use those natural beats to add in description and action. 

Integration is key. You never want more than a paragraph of description, or dialogue, or exposition, or anything without breaking it up. Read it out loud and search for those natural beats. That doesn't mean anything needs to be cut. Just rearranged. 

I learned a lot from Terry Kay in just one afternoon. He taught me how to outline, vary my sentences, overcome writer's block, catch my mistakes, and integrate the action in my scenes to take advantage of natural beats in dialogue and keep my stories moving. This blog is no substitution for a workshop with Terry Kay. If you ever have the opportunity to attend one, go. Otherwise, I'm glad to have had the change to pass on a bit of is wisdom. 

I hope it helps.

Kaitlin Bevis spent her childhood curled up with a book, and a pen. If the ending didn’t agree with her, she rewrote it. She has always wanted to be a writer, and she spent
high school and college learning everything she could so that one day she could achieve that goal. Kaitlin graduated college with my BFA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, and is pursuing her masters at the University of Georgia.

Her young adult fiction novel Persephone, and her short story Siren Song are available to buy in ebook stores everywhere. She also writes for Athens Parent Magazine, and She has also published several short stories.

You can find her on her website and on Twitter @KaitlinBevis

Death is a luxury she can't afford 

Life is hell for Persephone. Zeus will stop at nothing to gain access to the living realm and the Underworld, and as the only living god with a right to both, Persephone’s in trouble. Captured and tortured beyond the limits of her resolve, Persephone must find the power to stand against Zeus. But will she be strong enough?  

Meanwhile, Hades contemplates desperate measures to rescue his queen. Persephone never thought of herself as dangerous, but there’s a reason gods never marry for love. A being with the power to destroy all of creation shouldn’t place more value in one individual than the rest of the planet. But Hades...Hades would break the world for her. 

To save the world and stop both Hades and Zeus, Persephone must make a difficult choice. One that may cost her everything.