Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Interivew with Monica Leonelle & Excerpt + Giveaway

Hi Monica! Thanks for stopping by today, can you give us the “elevator pitch” for Socialpunk?

Socialpunk is a fast-paced thriller set in a future where everyone makes money through creating art. It's based a bit on my time working in digital marketing and has touches of social media that I think people in the biz will appreciate. There's also a ton of romance and a pretty awesome heroine, if I might say so!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Monica Leonelle and I spent years working in marketing before following my dreams of becoming a writer. I'm lucky to now have the opportunity to help writers through my free email consultations and free writer toolkit at

I'm a sucker for young adult novels, probably because I never grew up! I love to both read them and write them. All my novels are suitable and appealing for teens 14 and up.

Where did you get the inspiration/idea for your novel?

I was inspired by the city of Chicago, by social media issues in our current world, and by the cyberpunk genre. The book is a bit like the Terminator series and I reference that a couple times just for fun. James Cameron is basically my favorite director ever, and he really inspires me with his world-building and storytelling skills.

What sort of research did you do for Socialpunk/Socialpunk trilogy?

I spent a lot of time researching predictions for the future. The series/book is heavily based on my background in digital marketing. That said, I live in Chicago and worked in digital marketing, so a lot of the book came straight from my imagination.

Are you a plotter or a panster?

Plotter. I will outline my entire book by chapter, then by scene, then by paragraph. I think this is essential for writing an addictive book or a "page-turner." It's also essential for writing a ton of words very quickly. When I edit, I have a list of about 20 things I edit for that pertain to marketing psychology. For example, one of the things I edit for is tension, or whether I'm opening and closing plots in every scene. I think most writers would do better in the marketplace if they edited for marketability. Yes, line editing and beautiful prose can help, but really, The Hunger Games isn't exactly great writing. Yet the books are an international phenomenon. Because it's a great story with lots of marketability.

I'm really big on creating fascinating hooks. If you are a writer you can find out if your first 1000 words are hooking here:

What other projects can we look forward to reading from you soon?

I feel like books are too long these days, to be honest. I'm actually working on a serialized fiction story that I hope people will enjoy. I definitely feel like people want to be entertained during a two-hour flight rather than read a book for a week, trying to finish it.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I have tons. My favorite book from the last year is Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare. It's so romantic and lovely and sweet. It's actually the second book in the Infernal Devices, so start with the first one, Clockwork Angel.

What are you currently reading right now, or what are some books in your TBR pile?

I'm currently reading Black Heart by Holly Black. I also have The Scorpio Races (Maggie Stiefvater), Pandemonium (Lauren Oliver), and Let's Pretend This Never Happened (The Bloggess) in my TBR pile. I genuinely try not to let these pile up and don't read a ton.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

LOL, a few people said, "Ugh! I can't finish reading this!" about my last book, Silver Smoke. And the best compliment I typically get is along the lines of "loved it, couldn't put it down!" That's my favorite to hear.

The criticism is not as difficult to take as you might think. Criticism says something about the person giving it and something about the person receiving it. If you can remove the person giving it from the equation, you can find truth and construction in just about anything. In that sense, criticism is a gift. I use criticism to help me improve as a writer.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Writers should inject their marketing directly into their manuscripts. Writers often think of marketing as this separate thing from writing, but it's not at all. 80-90% of books are sold through word-of-mouth and most of the marketability of a book is right there in the manuscript. So even if you are going the traditional route, if you are serious about getting published you should hire an editor to go through your book and see how marketable it is. Traditional publishers are looking for marketable books. It's a business and they need to make money.

Then, you launch your book by asking people to read it. If it's any good you'll start getting word-of-mouth for your book. My goal is to give away one thousand copies of the book during its launch. I'm maybe a fifth of the way there so far? It's a lot of work, more than most people realize. I write about this stuff constantly on my Prose on Fire newsletter, so if these concepts interest you, you can check it out here:

Finish this statement: You’ll enjoy SOCIALPUNK if you like…

The Matrix, The Terminator, The Hunger Games, Divergent (by Veronica Roth), 1984, Neuromancer, and probably a bunch of other stuff. Very few people have hated the book so far, so that's always a good sign.
Thanks for stopping by Monica! 

Mini Excerpt: Prologue
After playing God for six years with the world he created, he couldn’t control any of his subjects, none at all. Over the years, he had watched them evolve and become the sum of their own choices rather than the sum of his; and for that, he regretted ever giving them life.

A small, blinking red light from just inside his eyelid reminded him of the news they sent him earlier that morning. The company had cancelled his funding and would shut down his project within three months. According to them, the project cost too much and took up too much space, and the inconclusive results couldn’t be published reputably, now or in the future.

Six years of his work, tens of thousands of lives at stake—and he could do nothing to save any of it. He bowed his head, letting his chin rest on the rim of his breakfast smoothie. The smoothie reeked of powder—crushed pills—but he supposed he had better get used to it. He wouldn’t be able to afford the luxury of real food after they canned him.

He closed his eyes and called up the camera view of one of his favorites, number 3281. She fascinated him; he couldn’t deny it. When he had designed her, her pre-teen rebelliousness lit fire in her eyes. A survivor, he’d thought. He’d meant for her to have it all—to grow up, to get married to the love of her life, and to have a beautiful family of her own someday.

But he had only given her sadness so far. Instead of creating a strict father, he had given her an abusive one. Instead of creating a loving boyfriend, he had given her a friend who could never love her. And instead of creating a strong, proud mother, he had given her a meek one, who watched the whole thing unfold and did nothing about it.

He looked at his last and final creation sitting in the chair across from him—his own son, not awakened yet. The law forbade him to have any children of his own, so this boy would substitute.

But he had done the unthinkable with this creation—he had bestowed on it his own thoughts, emotions, and decision-making processes. He’d given the boy his own mind, his own physical characteristics, his own wants and desires.

He had never done so with any of the others because of the dangers of investing too heavily in any one of his subjects. But who could he kid? He had not stayed objective thus far, watching some of his subjects more closely than others, wishing for the happiness of some at the expense of others. He had become an abomination, a monster of his own doing, who had created subjects only to watch them suffer.

He couldn’t forgive himself; not now, not ever. His eyes lingered on the vial that sat next to his breakfast smoothie, that he’d stowed away for the day when they destroyed all his work, his entire world. He would save it, tuck it away for now, for as long as he could protect them. When things spun out of his control, he would drink it and end himself the way he had ended them.

In the ancient stories, gods frequently gave their sons as gifts. Now, he would give his son as a gift to her, number 3281. So she could be happy in her last months on earth, before they destroyed her with the rest of them.

Monica is also hosting a Blog Tour giveaway, fill out the Rafflecopter below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To learn more about Monica and the Socialpunk trilogy check out!

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