Shelley Sly

Author of Middle Grade novels about friendship, family, and figuring out where you fit in.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Cover Reveal for CAMP NEVER

I know I just posted about my upcoming release, but I didn't want to wait any longer to reveal the cover!

Just like my last two books, this cover was created by the amazingly skilled Steven Novak of Novak Illustration. If you're in need of a cover designer, I super highly recommend him!

And now, here's the cover for CAMP NEVER...


(You can click on it for a larger size.)

What's the book about? Here's the back cover summary:

Typer Stockton should not spend her summer at Camp Caspar.

Camp Caspar is a “behavior camp,” full of delinquents. Kids who steal. Kids who beat up other kids. Twelve-year-old Typer may not have made the best choices during her sixth grade year, but she’s nothing like these wacko and hostile campers.

Yet, her parents insist that Camp Caspar is the consequence she deserves, so she’s sleeping in a bleak, nearly empty cabin for the next month. As Typer spends her days trying to earn “smiley points,” while avoiding some of the biggest jerks she’s ever met, she can’t help but wonder:

What is she doing here? How is it fair that she’s stuck at this ridiculous camp where she doesn’t belong?

Or, even worse, what if she belongs here after all?


CAMP NEVER will be released February 25th. (At least that's the plan.) You can add it to your To-Read list on Goodreads here, if you'd like.

Thanks for checking out the cover, guys! I appreciate you stopping by!
Read More

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Excited.

Happy New Year! Not sure if it's still cool to say that this late in January, but I haven't posted in a couple of months, so I feel the need to wish you all a happy one. I have hope that it will turn out to be a good year.

One big thing happening for me in 2016 is a new book release. I have another contemporary middle grade book coming out, called CAMP NEVER. It will be released in February (exact date to be announced soon.)


I'm pretty excited. (Trivia: The title of this post, Excited, follows the same theme as the chapter titles in CAMP NEVER. They are all one word that start with -ed: Wronged, Mocked, Sneaked, etc.)

I'll share more info as it becomes available, such as the cover, a summary, and links to Amazon and Goodreads.

This is supposed to be the time to do lots of promo, but I actually have another big, new thing going on in my life that's non-writing-related, so I don't have as much time to spend on social media lately. I know, it's great timing. But I'm still looking forward to sharing CAMP NEVER with the world, even though I can't do a blog tour and other neat things. Maybe for the next book!

What exciting things are you looking forward to in 2016? Or what things do you hope will happen this year?
Read More

Monday, November 30, 2015

Middle Grade of the Past #3: Have You Seen Hyacinth Macaw?

Here's the third post in my series called Middle Grade of the Past, where I review a children's book from anytime between 1950 and 1985.

Today's Middle Grade of the Past #3 is: Have You Seen Hyacinth Macaw? by Patricia Reilly Giff, published in 1981.

Here's the cover of the copy I have:


Back Cover Summary:

With a memo book full of notes, junior detective Abby Jones and her pal Potsie piece together confusing clues and soon they are trying to unravel more than one mystery.

Squeezing through windows, sneaking onto subways, and slithering into an empty apartment during the night, Abby must make sense of the puzzling information that she is piling up. She is hot on the trail, but can she solve the case?


Now, full disclosure: This book was one of my absolute favorites as a kid. But reading it as an adult was much different. Here are my thoughts:

The Good: I might be biased because of how much younger me loved this book, but in my opinion, Abby Jones is a fun and likable character right from the beginning. She has a “memo pad” like the detectives in her city do, and she writes notes to herself that are just so charming. Though as much as I like Abby, her scaredy-cat best friend, Potsie, has always been my favorite.

The Old: I noticed that anything that had a price was less expensive than it would be today. Example: one of the characters broke a large stained glass window that was worth fifty dollars, which sounds kind of inexpensive for stained glass. Also, this book brings me back to before there were cell phones, which wasn’t that long ago. As expected, there’s only one telephone per household, its bill is expensive, and the kids are told not to hog the line in case someone tries to call.

The Funny: The dialogue between Abby and Potsie is cute and kind of snarky most of the time. Abby can be a bit bossy, but they had a fun dynamic. Potsie is sometimes a little, well, dumb, and I got a kick out of the fact that she calls other people “Dumb. D-U-M,” which tells you a bit about her dopey character. All of the characters had something amusing or humorous about them, even if they felt a little bit like caricatures at times.

Overall: While I loved this book more as a kid than an adult (I really wanted to become a detective after reading this), I still really enjoyed it, maybe more for nostalgic reasons. I remembered how the mystery was solved, though, so maybe I would have enjoyed it even more if I’d forgotten the story. I think some kids today would have fun solving the mystery, like I did many years ago.

Was there a book you read or a movie you watched that really had an impact on you as a kid? I didn't end up becoming a detective, but man, I really wanted to be one when I was younger. Reading this book brought all of that back!
Read More

Monday, November 9, 2015

What To Do With THAT Project

I have a question for my fellow writers and creative people: If I asked you about THAT project of yours, which one comes to mind?

For me, THAT project is a tricky one, because it's one that I don't know what to do with. It's one that I care about, and one that I enjoyed drafting, but now that it's complete, it doesn't belong anywhere.

All of my other completed manuscripts (16 total) have fallen into one of the following categories:

1) Hey, this might turn into something pretty great after exchanging with five or six critique partners and completing ten rounds of revisions. I'll plan to publish it.

2) Heck no, this is terrible! Put it away on the shelves for good -- never let it see the light of day!

3) Eh, I like the concept, but the execution could be stronger, so I'll keep the idea and do a complete, blank slate rewrite of it that might end up publishable.

When it comes to THAT story, I can't seem to fit it into one of those categories. It's not awful like my terrible stories in the #2 category, but it doesn't strike me as "my next published book" material, like the ones in #1. I mean, it could be, but I just don't get that immediate feeling that I've had for other manuscripts in that category.

It's possible that it's a #3. But I've had three manuscripts fall in the #3 category, and all of them were in desperate need of a full makeover (or else they'd be considered #2 quality), and this one is in better shape. But I'm not loving it as much as my WIPs I have in the #1 category, and I'd rather send my CPs those #1 projects instead of THAT story.

So, since I'm stuck, I'll temporarily shelf this one. I don't like rushing into decisions, and I always believe that if something is holding you back, listen to that something. Later down the road, I'll either revise the stuffing out of THAT story until it shines and earns itself a spot in the #1 category, or I'll shelf it for good.

Any other writers ever have experience with a manuscript that doesn't belong anywhere? Otherwise, what do you think of when I say THAT project?
Read More

Monday, October 19, 2015

Recommendation: Indie Author Survival Guide

I can't remember how much I've shared about the very beginning of my self-publishing journey, but here's a short version of the story, in case I haven't shared it before:

I decided I wanted to be an indie author in late 2013, after spending much of the year considering my options. I chose this route intentionally, because my health issues affect my ability to work, and being my own boss is the best solution for my situation. However, even though I knew that the traditional, big publisher path wasn't for me, I wasn't completely sure that I could self-publish. I mean, where you do you even start with such a big task?

I read blog post after blog post, but it wasn't until I read Susan Kaye Quinn's Indie Author Survival Guide that A) I truly felt I'd learned enough about self-publishing to make a decision, and B) I made that decision wholeheartedly -- I was going to be an indie author.

The Indie Author Survival Guide is just what it sounds like: it's everything you could possibly need to survive as an indie author. It covers everything from the "Should I go indie?" type questions (with actual, researched statistics to inform the reader of the current state of publishing), to the step-by-step how to publish (formatting, editing, cover art, everything), to the reassuring support about what to do after you're published (write another book, of course! And don't obsess over sales numbers!)

Since the Second Edition released this year (back in May, but that was when I'd just moved into my new house, so I wasn't able to read it at the time), I revisited the Guide and wrote a review, which you can read on Amazon or on Goodreads here.

Photo from Amazon.com

Here's a quote from my review:

"Although I think this book is fantastic specifically for newer indie authors and writers planning to self-publish, I don't think there's a single type of writer that I would not recommend this book to. Even traditionally published, even veteran indie published, even not-sure-if-I-ever-want-to-publish -- everyone will get something out of this. The How To Publish aspect of the Guide helped me when I first started out, but the encouraging messages about the indie author career path is what I'll keep coming back to this Guide for. A definite 5 out of 5 stars!"

I love this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who could find it useful and inspiring, no matter where you are in your journey. Find it here on Amazon.


Writers, have you read a non-fiction writing book that impacted you and changed your writing life for the better? Please share!
Read More

Monday, October 5, 2015

Middle Grade of the Past #2: A Girl Called Al

A couple of months ago, I started a new series called Middle Grade of the Past, which focuses on a children's novel from anytime between 1950 and 1985. You can check out the first post in the series here. (And if you have old books at home and would like to join in, feel free!)

Today's Middle Grade of the Past #2 is: A GIRL CALLED AL by Constance C. Greene, published in 1969.

Here's the cover of the copy I have:


Back Cover Summary:

Al is a little on the fat side, which is why I didn’t like her at first. She has a very high I.Q., she says. But she doesn’t work to capacity. She says things like that all the time, but I don’t like to let on that I don’t always know what she is talking about.

“I am a nonconformist,” she told me, like she was saying she was a television star or Elizabeth Taylor or something. Al’s mother and father are divorced. She says she doesn’t mind too much that they are divorced. She gets more presents that way.

We figured out the night before last that Al and I have known each other for exactly three weeks. It feels like forever. Some people you just feel like you have always known. That is the way it is with me and Al.


It's a bit offbeat, being told in first person. I'm guessing it's formatted that way because we never learn the main character's name. I remember staring at the cover of this book as a kid and wanting to read it, but I'd never gotten around to it. (Too much homework, probably.)

The Good: Right away, I love the main character’s voice, and I love the things that she and Al say. Fun dialogue (especially in middle grade) can promote an already good book to a very memorable one, and A GIRL CALLED AL is one that will stick with me. I’m also a big fan of kid/adult friendships that are written well, not creepy or unrealistic, and this story has a nice friendship among neighbors.

The Old: Though I’m not sure if it’s an old term or not, I hadn’t heard the phrase “dining ell” (as in, a portion of an L-shaped room reserved for dining) until reading this book. Also, when one character introduces another character, she says, “May I present [name of person]?” I’ve heard that expression before, but only in older media. From this book, I also learned the phrase, “Not on your tintype,” meaning, “Absolutely not.”

The Funny: Al matter-of-factly tells the main character that their teacher’s wife has “ball stones” in her “gladder.” I mentioned in the last Middle Grade of the Past post that I just had my gallbladder out, so I found this particularly amusing. A lot of their exchanges made me smile.

Overall: I loved this book! More than I thought I would, actually. It ended up having more depth than I expected, and even some sad scenes. A GIRL CALLED AL seems like it would appeal to the same audience as the manuscript I’m drafting now, so I read it at the perfect time. Even though this book is a little dated, I still think girls today might enjoy it.

I'm not sure how common this book was. Have any of you read it? I'm still so pleased with how much I enjoyed it. Have you read a book lately that pleasantly surprised you?
Read More

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Change of Plans

One thing has definitely changed around here, and that's my blog design. I wanted to go for a simpler theme this time.

I'm not always a fan of change, though, because I'm a major planner. I have a precious pocket calendar that I use to schedule almost all events in my life. I know that not everything works out, (which is why about half of the events I write down have a question mark after them), but I like the security of knowing when things will or might occur.

So, when I decided to change my next book's release date after planning it for months, I felt a little disoriented.

I originally intended to release another contemporary MG novel (more details coming soon) in October, but after a crazy busy spring and summer, I wasn't able to finish revisions by September 1st, like I wanted to. I don't like to rush any of my books, so I'm giving myself lots of extra time to work on this one. The new tentative release date is February 11th. Yeah, that'll probably change, too.

I'm striving to feel better about change instead of feeling thrown off balance. Because, really, it's quite all right that my book's release is delayed. Not only does it give me more time to improve that manuscript, but I'll have time to work on other manuscripts, too -- which is hard to do when you're formatting and preparing a book for publication.

What changes have you experienced lately? Are you easily accepting of change, or do you tend to be attached to your plans?

Read More

© Shelley Sly, AllRightsReserved.

Designed by ScreenWritersArena