Why I Love (and Don’t Always Love) Twitter by Natasha Sinel

Photo credit: shawncampbell on Flickr

I’m not on all social media. I pretty much stick to Twitter and Facebook, and for now, that’s plenty of distraction for me. I know everyone’s on Instagram, but I Just. Can’t. Add. Another. Time Suck.

I was kind of slow to catch on to the Twitter thing. But when I did, I couldn’t believe how cool it was! I think Sara Zarr was the first person I followed, and then I saw her having a Twitter conversation with Sarah Dessen and I almost died. I get to eavesdrop on their conversation and it’s totally legal, and they even want me to! Quickly, I determined what everyone had already told me. On Facebook, you know everyone IRL, but you might not be that interested in what they’re saying. On Twitter, you don’t know anyone IRL, but you care about what they’re saying. Very much. Twitter is perfect for anyone who has a specific area of interest.

I started out by following agents, editors, and authors. I followed the ones I’d heard of and read, and then I started following the ones that were recommended to me by Twitter. I added book bloggers to the mix. One thing led to another, and not only was I up on who was publishing what, or what festivals were where, or the best ways to smash through a writing rut, I was also up on an agent’s need to get all of her pants hemmed, and I knew what kind of dog my favorite author had.

But more than that: Things have happened because of Twitter.

I basically met my agent, Linda Epstein, through Twitter—she announced a Writing Yoga retreat that she was organizing. I went. I had a different agent at the time of the retreat, but when she left the business a few months later, Linda and I had lunch, and here we are. Thank you, Twitter.

I’ve found some of my very favorite authors through Twitter—Carrie Mesrobian, Brandy Colbert, Stephanie Kuehn, Christa Desir, Andrew Smith, and more.

I can help promote my fellow authors’ books. After reading and loving them, I can tweet about them, and then one of my followers might retweet and so on.

I’ve learned about blogs and online magazines I hadn’t known about before.

I usually hear about major news events from Twitter, and it makes me feel like I sort of know what’s going on, even if I haven’t read the actual news that day.

I love when a hashtag erupts organically and you can spend all day reading and tweeting—like #MSWL (manuscript wish list, which has now become a website), #WeNeedDiverseBooks (now a non-profit entity), and #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter. Man, I could spend all day on that one alone.

I love 140 characters. I really do.

But there are some things that aren’t so great about Twitter.

It’s a huge cavernous time suck. I can’t look away. The feed is constant, it never stops, and if I haven’t checked it in a few hours, I feel like I’m missing out. The distraction is real.

Sometimes Twitter can get angry and mean. There are a few hot button issues out there in the book world universe—diversity, rape culture, sexism, racism, and more. Twitter is a great place to discuss these issues, to learn more, to encourage open-mindedness, but it’s also such an open forum that it also acts as a place where people can be attacked or silenced or minimized. I’ve seen authors disable their Twitter accounts because of backlash about something they tweeted. That makes me sad. I do believe authors (or anyone) should be aware of what they’re saying, and try not to say something stupid or offensive, but on the other hand, if they’re too afraid to say what’s on their mind for fear of getting attacked, then what’s left to tweet? “I had Lucky Charms for breakfast” or “Buy my book.” Ew.

Twitter is a huge distraction. Did I mention that one already? Amazing how those 140 characters add up one after another to hours and hours of time suckage.

Despite the few negatives, though, when it comes to Twitter, #I’mAFan.

Natasha Sinel writes YA fiction from her home on a dirt road in Northern Westchester, NY. She drives her kids around all afternoon, but in her head, she’s still in high school, and hopes that no one near her can read minds. Her debut YA novel THE FIX is now available from Sky Pony Press/Skyhorse Publishing.

A Very Team Rogue Update

We’ve had a great couple of months as of late over at Team Rogue!

Most recently, Kate Ormand and Natasha Sinel had their book birthdays on the first of September; everyone say hello to The Wanderers and The Fix!

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Meanwhile, we’ve had many new cover releases! Ami Allen-Vath’s Liars and Losers Like Us, Ava Jae’s Beyond the Red, Sarah Glenn Marsh’s Fear the Drowning Deep, and Stephanie Kate Strohm’s The Taming of the Drew all have beautiful covers now.

TRYA Covers

With 2016 quickly approaching, we’ll have many more new exciting updates and releases before we know it. 🙂

The Night I Almost Didn’t See Judy Blume by Natasha Sinel

A few months ago, I saw that Judy Blume was coming to the Greenwich Library. I jumped on that action and I immediately signed up for tickets. I’d never seen her in person—appalling! I was Judy Blume’s #1 fan as a child in the ‘70s. (At least I thought I was until I became a writer and learned that everyone was her #1 fan.) I was serious about my fandom, though. I wrote her a letter once and told her that I hoped to be a writer like her one day. I received a mailing back (from the publisher, I imagine) with a signed photo and a really nice letter that was probably a form letter, but I cherished it. I never stopped dreaming of becoming an author, but that’s all it was—a dream.

When I was seven, I loved to invent characters and make up stories about them. I would use my Fashion Plates (anyone else have these?) to create a girl, paste her on cardboard, then cut her out, and—voila— paper doll. On the back, I’d write everything about her: name, age, where she lived, her family members, favorite foods, favorite activities. And then I’d create lives for them.

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Down the road, I wrote a few bad short stories for my high school lit magazine, took some creative writing classes in college, started a couple of “novels” that fizzled out after 40 pages. But it wasn’t until after my first son was born and I stopped commuting, that I realized it was a good time to change careers and give it a shot.

Fast forward a few (or ten) years later, and here I am, less than two months away from the publication of my first young adult novel. When I saw that my childhood idol, the person who made me want to write in the first place, was going to be a mere twenty-five minutes away, I knew it was fate.

When the evening of the event came, I had coincidentally driven back and forth to Greenwich earlier that day with my son. My friend who was planning to come with me cancelled. It was the end-of-year party at school for two of my sons and, even though I’d arranged for my babysitter to take them, I was still feeling guilty about not going. It was supposed to thunderstorm. I’d gotten an email from the event organizers to get there early because parking was limited. (Anyone who knows me understands that going places where parking isn’t guaranteed gives me hives.)

So there I was, forty minutes before Judy Blume was set to speak, sitting on the couch, checking my email, hemming and hawing, thinking: You know what? I’m just not going. I don’t feel like dealing. My kids were all ready for their event at school, and I was about to say, “Change of plans, kids, I’m coming with you.” But before I could speak, my sitter said, “Aren’t you going to the thing? Shouldn’t you have left by now?” And I said, “I don’t know, I just came from Greenwich and it’s supposed to rain, and I don’t really feel like it.” And then she said, “You’ve been looking forward to this, you should go.” And it clicked. Of course I should go. I was going to let inertia win over Judy Blume? THE JUDY BLUME?

I got up, grabbed a granola bar (I’d be missing dinner) and an umbrella, waved goodbye and took off, back the way I’d come only an hour before. I found a spot in the library parking lot, no problem. I found a seat and started reading the book I had in my bag. The woman next to me was also reading. When I looked up, she said, “Of course, we’re all reading. Anyone who’d come to this event loves to read. All these people in the same room who love to read. It’s the best.” Yes, I am in the right place. This is where I should be right now, I thought. We started up a conversation, she was excited to learn that I was a writer and that I was seeing my idol for the first time.

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When Judy Blume came out, I was starstruck. Really. I couldn’t stop smiling. She was articulate and funny. She described how the idea for this book came to her, how it was the first time she’d ever had one of those “lightbulb” moments when she knew what she wanted to write—the first time! Judy Blume! And she talked about how difficult writing this book was—the research, the planning, the writing, the length of time it took. And I knew what she was talking about. I wasn’t just a reader, I was a writer too—and I could picture her process, her frustration, and her satisfaction when she got it right.

After she finished, I was thisclose to going home. The line for the signing was long, and rumor had it she she was still chatting with her interviewer, and hadn’t even gotten to the signing table yet. But I decided to stick it out. I’m so glad I did. She signed my book. I mentioned someone we knew in common, and she and her lovely husband (who was standing to her right side) and I chatted for a minute or so. A nice woman snapped some photos with my phone. They may not be my most photogenic, but I will treasure them Forever.               Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 12.17.01 PM

Natasha Sinel writes YA fiction from her home on a dirt road in Northern Westchester, NY. She drives her kids around all afternoon, but in her head, she’s still in high school, and hopes that no one near her can read minds. Her debut YA novel THE FIX will be out from Sky Pony Press/Skyhorse Publishing September 1, 2015.

Introducing Natasha Sinel and THE FIX!

Natasha-SinelToday we’re excited to introduce you to Natasha Sinel and The Fix, which is slated to release September 2015!

  1. Why did you choose the setting for your book? Did you draw from any real places to create your world?
    THE FIX is set in Mount Kisco, NY, near where I live now—about forty-five minutes north of Manhattan. In terms of real versus made-up places, I definitely used some literary license in terms of street names, distances, etc. I set THE FIX in Mount Kisco because of its ethnic and socioeconomic diversity. For example, Macy lives in a McMansion-type house with acres of land and a gate at the end of the driveway, and only a minute or two away, Sebastian and Rebecca live in small houses that are very close to their neighbors.
  2. What was your inspiration for THE FIX?
    When I was in high school, I had one of those deep conversations with a guy that can really only happen late at night when you’re young and figuring out the world. Shortly after, he spent most of the summer in a psychiatric institute. We wrote letters to each other, but I remember feeling that, despite our connection through these intense letters, we were in two totally separate worlds—he was inside and I was outside. I felt guilty and wondered what really made us that different? When we got back to school that fall, we’d have friendly chats at school, but we never really re-connected in the way that we had through those letters.So this relationship is what originally inspired me to write the story of what could have happened if we’d pushed past the awkwardness back at school, and strengthened our connection. I made new characters—of course, Macy isn’t me (she is way cooler and has deep dark secrets) and Sebastian isn’t the guy I knew—and I went from that first conversation they had one night on a porch swing.
  3. What was your favorite part about writing THE FIX?
    I have to admit, I think I loved writing every single scene! For me, putting scenes together into a plot/outline is next to impossible (see answer to #4), but imagining and creating scenes is when I feel truly alive. I loved writing scenes with Macy and Sebastian, watching the intensity of their attraction grow. The scenes with Macy and her younger brother Gavin are some of my favorites too—I had so much fun trying to capture his fourteen-year-old boy self and first love. And of course, Rebecca. Everyone needs a best friend like Rebecca—charismatic, hilarious, and self-centered, but would do anything for you when your world falls apart.
  4. What was the hardest part about writing THE FIX?
    When I finished the first draft of THE FIX, it was really just a mess of scenes. A giant puzzle with pretty pieces but scattered everywhere. Trying to pull them together to form a cohesive novel was such torture for me, there were days I wanted to give up. But thankfully, I stuck with it, and now I get to share it with everyone.
  5. Who is your favorite rogue character from a book, TV show, or movie?
    Lorelai Gilmore, of course.
  6. THE FIX includes some heavy topics like drug addiction—what led you to tackle such a potentially divisive element in your novel?
    I didn’t set out to write an “issues” book. I knew that Sebastian suffered from depression, and would be spending some time in a psychiatric institute, but I hadn’t necessarily planned that he’d be an addict, and surprisingly, I didn’t intend to make sexual abuse the central theme of the book. But as I got to know Macy, I realized there was so much anger and vulnerability in her, so I dug deeper and discovered why.Honestly, I think most of us have some sort of addiction, whether it’s drugs, alcohol, sex, adrenaline or something slightly less innocuous like food, exercise, work. As Sebastian says, “We all have our vices.” So each character in THE FIX has his or her own “fix” to cope with pain.
  7. THE FIX revolves quite a bit around secrets that your protagonists have to come clean about. What secret could you share with our readers?
    Don’t tell anyone, but I still sleep with my blankie. It’s actually a tattered red towel. I was about five when I took it from the linen closet after my original blankie had finally disintegrated (I was a late thumb-sucker).
  8. What sources did you get inspiration from while writing THE FIX?
    I am an avid reader of YA contemporary books. After I kept hearing Macy’s voice in my head (yes, creepy, I know), I started writing, but I was worried that I wasn’t brave enough to tell her story. Then I discovered Sara Zarr’s National Book Award Finalist STORY OF A GIRL. Sara’s ability to create a story that was both simple and extraordinarily complex struck me, and somehow infused me with a sense that I had to try. As I kept writing and realized I needed to know more about hospitals, depression, sexual abuse, I read a ton more for inspiration and research—Ellen Hopkins, Amy Reed, Ned Vizzini, Laurie Halse Anderson, Barry Lyga (Boy Toy).
  9. What’s one thing you want readers to know about THE FIX?
    The conversation about representation in the children’s book world has really heated up lately. There’s a lot of pressure on authors to “get it right.” So, I guess I’d like readers to be aware that I envisioned Macy as one girl with a unique story (and the same goes for Sebastian and his story). I may not have gotten it right for every survivor of sexual abuse or for every addict or teen boy who suffers from depression, but hopefully I got it right for Macy and Sebastian.
  10. Describe the type of reader you hope picks up this book when it’s on the shelves.
    First and foremost, I hope that any reader who picks up THE FIX will love diving into Macy’s life and will finish the book and say, “I really liked that!”More specifically, I hope that girls and boys who have experienced abuse or depression will clearly see that they are not alone, and I hope that they will find their way to hope as Macy and Sebastian do. Of course, I also hope perfectly well-adjusted readers with no problems or secrets at all (haha), will appreciate having a window into what it’s like to carry the weight of a secret like Macy’s.

Natasha Sinel writes YA fiction from her home on a dirt road in Northern Westchester, NY. She drives her kids around all afternoon, but in her head, she’s still in high school, and hopes no one near her can read minds. Find her on Twitter, and on her website. Natasha’s debut realistic YA novel THE FIX will be out from Sky Pony Press/Skyhorse Publishing September 1, 2015.