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Dead River is Out!

Yesterday, DEAD RIVER was unleashed unto the world.

Actually, no, it had already been in B&N for some time before that. But the official date was yesterday.

SO, as usual on book release day (I've heard that after 5 books, you can start to use "usual" and "book release day" in the same sentence!), I donned my fancy pants and got ready to bask in the congratulations that would surely follow.

Only, that really didn't happen.  Oh, how I remember those days where the twitter-verse would be bursting with well-wishes from people as far away as Mars, people you didn't know existed! Oh, how I remember having to beat people off with a stick.  But today, nothing. Probably because I'd beaten those people off with a stick. My husband didn't send me flowers, my parents were like, "Um, don't you have another book coming out one of these days?" my kids still whined. Random House forgot to send me my author's copies, or else mailed them to another YA writer on their list, or else some UPS drivers are using them as doorstops. World peace was not declared.

To make matters even worse, I found myself having to run after people, shouting "IT'S MY BOOK BIRTHDAY!  LOVE ME!!  AND BUY A COPY!" It was quite embarrassing.

I know, I'm not the only one who doesn't receive confetti cannons going off when her book releases. I can't tell you how many times, lately, I've seen a book out from a favorite author of mine, one who had burst onto the scene amidst much fanfare a few years ago, and been like, "Whoa, when did that release?" There are so many books out there.  I suppose as we go along, our new releases get less interesting to everybody else. But while everyone else might be "pshaw, another Balog book," I can't help secretly squeeing to myself, like a madwoman. It's still, and will always be, a thrill.

So there you have it. Book Five. Dead River. Out in the world.

Love me.

And buy a copy.



Hey, Good Looking

I really don't know what to call this post, other than the "my-husband-checked-my-blog-and-called-it-pathetic-because-I haven't-updated-in-so-long" post. So really, that title is for him, since he snoops on my blog. But also for you. You are quite attractive as well.

So let's see.  News.  DEAD RIVER is releasing in only a few weeks!  Are you excited?  This will be my fifth book and I'm kind of shocked I've lasted this long. (Okay, I almost didn't.)

Anyway, it's based on a whitewater rafting trip I took with my husband and his friends on the Dead River in Maine.  (Side note to Mainers: I am sorry to disappoint you if you thought this was a book about the gas station). We lived in Maine, once, a million years ago, until the madness set in. Being quite timid and completely unadventurous, it's a wonder I even made it out on a river called The Dead. What was I thinking?  I will tell you three things I learned during that trip:

  1. I look like a black garbage bag filled with potatoes, in a wetsuit.

  2. If you give me a life-saving paddle AND a granola bar during the trip, expect that I will drop the life-saving paddle AND hold onto the granola bar for dear life (it's food! and it has chocolate chips in it!) if we should fall out of the raft.

  3. If I am with you, we WILL fall out of the raft. I think because dirty, freezing water with gross things in it likes me a lot.

My husband actually texted the poor guy who arranged the whole thing and made the mistake of inviting us. He was excited to be mentioned in the acknowledgments and promised to "single-handedly make Dead River a bestseller in Maine." After he gets over the trauma of reliving that terrible event. So if you live in Maine, please do not let this guy down.

This is the cover blurb:

My friends and I are spending prom weekend at a remote wooded cabin on the Dead. The Dead River.

I thought it was going to be just us.

I was wrong.

Nothing is what it seems in this creepy paranormal thriller by Cyn Balog.

I know!  Doesn't it sound like Jason will be involved? He isn't, but that would probably be just my luck if I ever decided to go rafting on the Dead again. Jason shows up in his freaky hockey mask, or creepy hands come out of the water a la the cover. Trust me, you do not want to go with me next time.  Which, there will NOT be a next time. For the above reasons.

If you would like to check it out, go here. And I can't lie, I would love if you would buy a copy, too.

Also, Nichola Reilly, that little vixen, is working on her 2014 edits and just gearing up to write the sequel! Gosh, I hate talking about myself in the third person. No wonder writers are crazy.


A Tale of One Author, Two Names

Today I'm announcing some very exciting news (well, for me, anyway!).

Children's: Young Adult
Cyn Balog writing as Nichola Reilly's DREAM KINGDOM, set in a future flooded world in which the heroine and her island people must all climb onto a precarious platform at high tide or be swept away and drowned -- or worse, attacked by deadly ocean predators -- and the secrets kept by the ruling class may be the end of their dwindling society, to Annie Stone and Natashya Wilson at Harlequin Teen, in a two-book deal, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel & Goderich Literary Mana gement.

This is big news for me, and makes me probably more proud than any other deal I've made, because last year was really tough on me, personally. I'd written this book many years ago, but it took awhile before it felt ready for the world.  Also, despite being published, which I always thought would make me feel like the Queen Master of the Universe, I still felt like a poser who knew nothing about how to write. There were many times I never thought I'd ever publish again, and I even tried to walk away. But in the end, I realized that if I just need to do what makes me happy, and accept whatever happens after it, good or bad. This is one of the good things.

People have asked why I am writing under a pen name, and there are a number of small reasons that made it the best choice. The biggest of those is that it's a departure from paranormal and supernatural romance. It's post-apocalyptic fantasy, about a girl named Coe who has to overcome enormous odds to save the remaining members of her diminishing society. It is a very odd thing, though, to be writing under a pen name, and so I am sure people may wonder if they call me Cyn or Nichola or what, but hey, just don't call me big fat loser, and I'm good. :)

Also, it will be my very first series. I do not know why I'm so late to the series party... actually, I do. It's hard work. Series writers, you have my kudos! I'm hoping that both books from the series will be released in 2014, so you won't have to wait too long between them, because that drives me crazy, too. Well, I suppose I should just hope that you'll WANT to read the second book. Like I said, writing series = crazy hard. And I have not even really delved too deeply into the second book, yet. I am going to have a busy summer!

Thank you for reading my news. And it would mean a lot to me if you'd follow me on twitter and facebook, where I will be posting more updates about this book (I'm not calling it anything right now because the title is undergoing reconstruction!), Twitter: @NicholaReilly (I'll follow you back), or like my fan page on facebook.

Objects in the Mirror...

About a decade or so ago, I had a bunch of stressful things happening in my life. So I a) never ate and b) exercised all the time, which was a really bad combination, probably just as bad as eating too much and never exercising. Anyway, as a result, I was this little twiggy, unhealthy, size-0 thing.

But I can still remember, very clearly, sitting in the passenger seat of my husband's car as we travelled, looking at the reflection on the side window. Of the flesh of my things, spreading out across the seat.

And I thought, "Ew. I'm fat."

But I was a size zero.

Now as a healthy and normal size 8, I'll look at pictures of myself back then and think how positively skeletal I was. How sick I was.

This is something I remind myself of when I'm writing. When I read my work back to myself and think, "Wow, this stinks."

We are too close to ourselves, and to anything we create. We can not see it accurately. At least, not without stepping away from it for a few weeks or months.

I know some writers operate without critique partners. I am really not sure how they do it, and I'd love to know. I will occassionally think something I write is awesome and learn from my trusted friends that it is not. More often, I will think something I wrote is terrible, and learn that it actually isn't so bad. But I really have no idea, most of the time, where my stuff rates on the Suck-o-meter. Even after five books. No idea. I doubt I ever will.

I don't think it helps that writing is so subjective, and that one person's trash is another person's favorite book of all time. Often I'll send a book in after edits, thinking it needs another couple of drafts, only to be horrified that it was accepted and moved on to copyedits. I want to scream, "No, not yet!" hold it to myself as tight as I can, do a takeback. But it's too late. I try to comfort myself, "My editor is a pro, she knows when a book is ready." But most often I wallow in the thought of all the changes I could've made, that would have made it so much better.

It's so easy to see the flaws in yourself. So easy.

It's impossible to write a book without flaws, at least in someone's eyes.

A decade or so ago, I always had my husband, pulling me from the brink, telling me that I was perfect, just the way I was. Not that I was too thin, or too fat. In his eyes, I was more than my weight. I was perfect.

And now I have critique partners that do the same thing for me. So someone says my books are too short. So someone says my characters are whiners. So someone says that scene was too unbelievable. They tell me my books are more than that one character, or that one scene. And while my books may not be perfect to everyone, they may just be perfect for someone.

And that's enough for me.

I hope you find yourself a wonderful critique partner. They are worth SO much.


Bow Down Before Me, Fools!

It has come to my attention that some of the world thinks that I am an egotistical jerk because of my response to the person who contacted me regarding the titling of Dead River.

Why, yes, I am. I am SOOOOOO important, being published by a Big-6 publisher, and you all, if you are not, are nothing.

I've found there is no way for me to say who my publisher is without looking like a big, conceited blow-hard, which is why I deleted part of the post. (Thank goodness for screen shots!) Actually, here's the thing: Being published by a major publisher does not make an author feel better than anyone else-- in fact, usually, it scares the crap out of them.

I know, boo-hoo-hoo, you got paid to write and aw it's so awful. Go shut up now, Cyn. I'll admit, that part is awesome! But:

Firstly, when it happens, you think that you're a fluke. You think that just about anyone in the world, even a few monkeys working in a room round the clock for a year, can ALSO be published by a major publisher, if only the stars aligned correctly.

Secondly, because of the first point, you live in fear that you will never have another book published. You likely got an okay advance, and so your life is devoted to making sure that advance earns out to please the "Big Publisher Gods" that you "work" for. You become a slave to the numbers, because you want to make this your career and you want your bosses to be happy with you and not think you're a big turd.

Thirdly, because you are not Suzanne Collins, you did not get as much promotion as you would have expected from a large publisher. In fact, you probably got next to nothing. And so while you are sitting at a signing twiddling your thumbs and watching people snatch your bookmarks away and use them as tissues, you think of all the money that YOU YOURSELF put into those bookmarks, and wonder if you should have spent ALL your advance money on promoting yourself, instead of half of it. You set up a blog and a website and a facebook and twitter account even though you don't like all that crap and are a very private person, just because you know that's what they expect of you. You wrack your head trying to think of things to tell people that are interesting, so they don't forget about you and your books, and meanwhile because you are a social nitwit you let it slip what a conceited jerk you are who hates reviewers and writers and basically anyone who might read your book.

Fourthly, also because you are not Suzanne Collins, when your editor tells you to change this, you change it. When they tell you to go to this place, you go there. When they tell you to spin around in circles while patting your head and rubbing your belly, you do that, too. Because you're their bitch. So I couldn't change the title of Dead River if I wanted to. It's in my publisher's hands. If they wanted to call it Poop River, I'd go with it.

Those are what I can think of off the top of my head. I know I am hugely fortunate to have been published by a major publisher, and NOT the other way around-- it's a dream I've had since I was a kid. Despite the above, it's still wonderful. And it's one I know that anyone can experience, should they choose, with the right amount of luck and patience. And maybe a monkey.

Two books, one title

I received this letter this morning:

RE: The Novel Title "Dead River"

Are you aware that the title of your new novel is the same as another novel published February 2010?


Professional courtesy would call for you to change the title of your novel to avoid confusion even though the genres are different.

Most all professional writers do due diligence and check titles of published novels so these conflicts do not occur.

(Name Redacted)

My response was this:

Dear (Name Redacted):

I am aware of this. However, I believe "most all professional writers" are aware that book titles can not be copyrighted. And because there are millions of books on Amazon, with thousands being added every day, it is a very common occurance for books to have the same title. I am actually surprised there are not more books entitled "Dead River", considering there a quite a few Dead Rivers in the United States, and it does make for a very creepy title.

The book you are referencing came out awhile ago, and it's not the same genre, so there can be little confusion. I would like to point out to you my novel SLEEPLESS, which came out in 2010. If you check it on Amazon, you will see MANY books with that title. Ironically, two of them are the same genre as mine. Yet, I have never once had my titles confused with theirs. Another book of mine, TOUCHED, which came out this month, shares its title with another book in the same genre, coming out later this year. I consider those to be closer matches than what you have provided me, and yet, as I have learned, there is little reason to be concerned.

I am fortunate to be working with a major publisher who regularly consults the market and makes determinations for me as to what my titles should be. If they have any concerns over conflict, believe me, they would address them.

Thank you for your concern.

Cyn Balog

FAIRY TALE (Delacorte, out now!)

SLEEPLESS (Delacorte, out now!)

STARSTRUCK (Delacorte, out now!)

TOUCHED (Delacorte, out now!)

DEAD RIVER (Delacorte, April 9, 2013)

What are your thoughts about two books having the same title?

UPDATE: The person who contacted me earlier responded. The response is so laughable that I should probably not feed the troll, but sometimes I can't help myself.

Of course titles can not be copyrighted, you missed the point. This is not a legal issue but a professional one.

I already stated below, the genres are not the same, however, there still could be confusion having the same title ...

Your publisher may want to do a better job next time.

Glamorous Release Day

TOUCHED releases today.


I have read so many release day stories, which included book signings, travelling to bookstores, parties with cake and friends and champagne and all those good things. 

But me? Today, I'm going to work. I'll eat lunch at my desk. I'll come home and take my daughter for her yearly physical. I will go to bed. I will not have received any congratulations from anyone in my "real" life about the release of my book. All the people that I deal with on a daily basis do not know it's release date for me. They know I'm an author, but they don't read, so they don't really care.

So that's release day. Pretty much just like any other day in my life. 

But here's why I'm grateful. I have some really great online critique partners and friends that have helped me with TOUCHED, and I know that the book never would have made it into print without their help. Heather, Teri, Maggie, Mandy, Karen, and Brooke, I'm looking at you!  Also, I owe the team at Delacorte and my agent, Jim, a huge debt of gratitude for putting up with my craziness. And I can not forget the bloggers who have taken the time to review TOUCHED and my other books on their blogs. And lastly, but most importantly, to all the readers... thank you. My day may be very ordinary, but I'm still releasing A BOOK, my 4th one, and to me, that's extraordinary, and all because of you.  

YA Fest in Easton, PA, this Saturday!

I just realized that I've never posted about this little event I've been helping out with! It's called YA Fest, and it will be at the Palmer branch of the Easton Library on August 4-- that's this Saturday! 35 of the best YA and MG authors will be there.

Check out their website here.

Also, TOUCHED officially releases on August 14, but if you simply can't wait, you can order a copy from Harleysville Books here. They have VERY LIMITED copies of TOUCHED available now and at YA Fest, 10 days before you can buy them! Exciting? Sort of.

I am still in a weird state of disbelief that my FOURTH book is releasing in only TWO WEEKS.

Something Tells Me This Needs to Be Said...

I am simply horrified. The gap between reviewers and authors seems to be widening. I've just learned that this drama is not playing out only on the internet. Lives are being threatened.

Can we go back to the beginning?  Nearly 10 months ago, I posted a goofball piece on my blog for about 30 minutes, about how authors were weird, and that just getting a 3-star review on Goodreads (though technically, that means "I liked it") can ruin some authors' days. I said that if you are a reviewer and an author, you might need to be careful because authors, especially new ones, remember these things. I said that Goodreads has drove me crazy.  Heck, I'm a newbie. And seeing all the author meltdowns that have gone on in the past year, can anyone tell me I'm wrong?  Reviews drive authors crazy, until they learn the all-important lesson of just looking away.

When I was attacked for saying the above on my blog, I decided that I needed to reevaluate things. What can I say? I'm a new (and naive) author, who made an error of judgement. I learned my lesson. Deleted the post. Nevertheless, I received a bit of backlash-- some harrassing emails and comments on my journal, and saw some postings that people had made "from" me that weren't actually from me. No big deal. Figured it was better to hide than try to explain myself and make things worse. So I decided I needed to pull myself away from Goodreads completely and leave it to readers, because it's really meant for them. Account deleted. End of drama.

Move forward, say, oh, six months. I'd had too many recent events at a table in the mall, alone with my books as passersby cast nasty looks at me. I hadn't seen my most recent royalty statement, but since B&N declined to carry the last one, I knew my latest book wasn't doing well. Fan mail had completely dropped off. I'd convinced myself that any other author who looked at me wrong was looking at me out of pity. I couldn't do anything right. I had stress at work and with the kids, and started looking at my friends. Stay at home moms, happy kids. Me? I had TWO jobs and kids and everything seemed to be going miserably with all of it. Maybe I was spreading myself too thin. 

So, if you read this blog regularly, you know what happened. I wrote that post, giving up writing. The one that was screen-captured and posted elsewhere.

But here's the thing. I'd given up Goodreads six months earlier.

My decision to leave the business had NOTHING to do with Goodreads, or whatever "evil" might be lurking there. Perhaps there are nasty trolls on there who would like to think they're so important as to have brought down my career, but I wouldn't know. I'm not there.  (And my advice to all other authors is, if you are thin-skinned like me, is to not be there, either).

Much of my life for the past few months has been staying away from the drama, but a friend tipped me off to some rather frightening news-- that one of the so-called "bully" reviewers was being harrassed in real life and receiving threatening emails and phone calls. I am so sorry this is happening to her, as it is beyond my comprehension that anyone could cross that line. And I can completely understand the fear she has, as I have also received threats. What led me to the bully site in the first place was a comment from someone who told me that "they knew I'd started" the site and that they were "going to get me."

What the hell is happening here? How have things gotten so twisted that we've forgotten that we are, first and foremost, in the business of fun and entertainment... for young people! It has taken awhile to make the transition (and I will confess that some days I am still weak), I have learned that as an author and "sorta" public figure, I'm going to get criticized. It just happens. If you ever hope to be a success in any public forum, you've got to put your blinders on. I can't say it's been easy for me, but you can call me or my books a POS from now until the end of eternity, and I'll be good with it. Because I'm ignoring it. But I'm not going to ignore it when someone comes and tells me they're "going to get me." 

I mulled over posting this, I hate this drama so much, and I don't want to do anything to perpetuate it. I want it to all end, on both sides. Reviewers, you can post whatever you want, free speech and all that, but just because you can call someone an POS, doesn't mean you should. Authors, learn, please learn, to NEVER respond to reviews. Just don't. Rise above it, and work on your next book.  I am so happy most of you feel like I do.... that books can be wonderful, life-changing things. But they are not worth hurting each other over.


Dead River

Dead River, my 2013 book, is up on Amazon! It is releasing on April 9.

I get creeped out just looking at the cover and I'm a little amazed that I wrote something that would warrant a cover that makes me want to run and hide. Here's a little bit about it:

My friends and I are spending prom weekend at a remote wooded cabin on the Dead. The Dead River.

I thought it was going to be just us.

I was wrong.

Nothing is what it seems in this creepy paranormal thriller by Cyn Balog.

I just turned in the First Pass Pages on it so I am sighing with relief I don't have to look at it again. But that cover! That cover I HAVE to look at! Eeek! *hides under her bed*