Friday, May 28, 2010

Control Freak

I recently did some writer's soul searching and discovered a major part of the reason why I write.

Creative outlet? Nope.

Personal fulfillment? Not really.

Bragging rights? NO way.

Love of writing? Yes... but no.

The answer? CONTROL.

Seriously. I like to create a story that I have omnipotent control over. It starts how I want. It ends how I want. The MC kisses the love interest when and how I want. I am a major control freak!

What's your deep, hardly-realized reason for writing?

BTW, if you missed our last post, it is a link to an AWESOME contest for YA writers, plus links to write the perfect blurb. So scroll down to check it out!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

In case you missed this on the QTblog, I've posted it here. This contest rocks!


Agent Kathleen Ortiz of Lowenstein Associates will be judging our next contest. Here are the deets:

  • Opens Tuesday June 1, 2010 at 9:00 PM EST
  • Only 100 entries will be accepted
  • Genres: Young Adult and Middle Grade only (next month's contest will be adult only.)
  • You must be a follower of the QueryTracker blog, widget at right.

To enter the contest:

  1. You must have a free QueryTracker membership
  2. You must submit a one-sentence pitch (helpful links below) and your first chapter
  3. Your submission will be accepted on the submission form (won't be available until the contest opens) 
  4. DO NOT EMAIL YOUR SUBMISSION DIRECTLY TO THE AGENT. You will be disqualified if you do.

This contest is not for whiners! It is only open to those who are willing to receive honest feedback. Ms. Ortiz will:

  • Treat every entry as a partial submission (therefore you must only enter if you, in Ms. Ortiz's words "for the LOVE OF GODIVA," have a completed MS)
  • Read every entry TO THE POINT SHE WOULD NORMALLY STOP READING on a partial submission
  • She will tell you why she stopped reading
  • She will request more of the manuscript only if it is something she would normally request.

Helpful links on pitching at Elana Johnson's blog.
Literary agent Laura Rennert helps you build your pitch.
Literary agent Rachelle Gardner reveals the secrets of a great pitch.
Also, read  a word about pitches and what makes them work by last month's judge, Chris Richman.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Never Judge a Book by its Title?

So we talked about first lines and how they grab you. And they say never judge a book by its cover (but I bought Wicked Lovely solely on its cover and don't regret a penny of that purchase).

But what about titles? Do you judge a book by its title? Can that make or break a book purchase for you?

Let's look at a few random titles. Which would you read?

1. The Forest of Hands and Teeth

3. The Dreaming Void

4. Shiver

5. The Shadow of Your Smile

Are you hooked? Would you read any of those based on title alone? I haven't read all of them (yet) but must say... I read The Forest of Hands and Teeth solely on the title. Total awesomeness! But when I heard the title The Gurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I was like, WHATEVER! That's something I'd find on my mom's bed-stand. Then I read the reviews. That book is on the wait list for me at the local library.

And, BTW, the Authors:

1. Carrie Ryan
2. Mary Ann Shaffer
3. Peter F. Hamilton
4. Maggie Steifvater
5. Mary Higgins Clark

So, what have you bought/read solely on the title of the book? What titles are so awesome, you'll never forget them?

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Importance of First Lines

First lines are a big deal. A REALLY big deal. My most hated first line is from Scott Westerfeld's UGLIES:

The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit.

I hated it because it was obviously there just to snag my attention (cats were never mentioned again.) Good book, though. (Westerfeld blogs about first lines here.)

Of my four newly-purchased books, I decided to read the one with the best first line:

1. "I told you this was a great place." Corbin Dunston beamed with pride as he held up the trout he'd just reeled in.

2. "Nick. Nick-ee. Are you there? I'm in trouble. Real bad trouble."

3. Today they will find her body.

4. News item from the Westover (Me.) weekly Enterprise, August 16, 1966: RAIN OF STONES REPORTED

Based on these first lines, which book would you choose to read? And do you think first lines should say something about the book's genre or story?

What is the first line of the book you are currently reading? What is the first line of a book you are writing?


P.S. In case you are curious, the first lines are from the following books:
1. KILLER DREAMS by Iris Johansen
2. OBSESSION by Karen Robards
3. THE SURGEON by Tess Gerritsen (my favorite author)
4. CARRIE by Stephen King

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Junior year in high school, I didn't have any friends. I'd just moved back to Utah from New Mexico and all my old friends had either dropped out, gone to a different high school, or grown too cool for me. At lunch, the too-cool-for-me friend would run the other way when I walked toward her. I learned fast. She only had to run away once.

What does this have to do with writing? I know how it feels to stand by the girls bathroom during lunch, a spot hidden from the cafeteria, so no one knows you're such a loser that you don't have anyone to eat with. Annnnnnnd guess where my main character eats? Yep. By the girls' bathroom.

Gilbert Blithe from Ann of Green Gables was always telling her to write what she knows. Because if you know it, it's true. You know the emotions associated with the truth, the pain, the joy, the fear. And all of those things=depth.

So embrace your challenges and hardships because one day, you can write about them.

Are you guys the same? What hardships did you endure in high school that are now featured in your books?

Friday, May 14, 2010

What Writers Read

Have you ever picked up a book that was so moving, so soul gripping that it inspired you? You know, like made you want to go on a diet. Or go plant a big wet smooch on your significant other? Or, in my case, write a book.

Have you ever wondered what books writers read? I think about that all the time (seriously). And then my brilliant sister Suzette had an idea. The light-bulb got plugged into the socket in her brain. Her exact words...

Why don't we start a blog about what writers read?

And a new blog is born.

Suzette and I, with the help of writer/blogger/query ninja Elana Johnson are going to give it a shot. Plus, we've each got a page to keep track of what we read and would love book suggestions!

On top of that, we have links to some of the best book review blogs, so if you're looking for something awesome to read, drop by.

Ahem, why are you still here? Go check it out, guys! In case you missed the earlier link, here it is again:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I've Done It!

I am smiling as write this post. I have something to share. A lifelong dream has become a reality. Here's the Publisher's Marketplace announcement:

Bethany Pinnell's THE HUNTED, in which a seventeen-year-old shapeshifter is being hunted by
supernatural creatures, and her only hope for survival is found in Navajo legend, to Emily Easton
at Walker, for publication in 2011, by Marlene Stringer at the Stringer Literary Agency (World).

After years of work, years of writing, years of rejection, and most importantly

Thanks to everyone who's been there along the way!


p.s. If you have any questions, ask them in the comments section. I'll do my best to answer.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Spread the Awesome - WINNERS!

Thanks to all who participated in our Spread the Awesome contest.

Angela Ackerman wins autographed WOODS RUNNER by Gary Paulsen.

Natalie Aguirre wins autographed PRINCESS FOR HIRE by Lindsey Leavitt.

Speaking of Lindsey, I interviewed her! It posted today on the QueryTracker Blog. And Elana and I got to meet her - she is AWESOME!

Winners, email us bethanysuzette(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address.
(FYI, the winners were selected with the Random Number Generator.)

Wishing you all a productive and happy week. =)


Friday, May 7, 2010

Agent Critiques, Editor Critiques, Autographed Books, and More!

This video made me cry:

And I'm embarrassed to admit, at first I had no clue there even was a flood. Why? No TV in the house...and I was deep in revisions, so deep I stayed off the net completely. It was only when I got back online, onto Facebook, that a friend in Tennessee mentioned the flooding. You can imagine, I was flooded with guilt.

Well, now there is something we can do about it! Authors Vitoria Schwab, Amanda K. Morgan, and Myra McEntire have put together an AMAZING auction called Do the Write Thing. So far, the items up for bid include:

  • 30 minute phone calls with literary agents (Chris Richman or Michelle Wolfson)
  • Query Critique (from agent Mary Kole or author Hannah Moskowitz)
  • Critique of pages (from Brian Farrey, the acquisitions editor of Flux or Josh Adams of Adams Literary)
  • Custom book trailer
  • Autographed books
  • And so much more!
New prizes are added daily. You have only three days to bid (it's easy - you bid in the comments.)

Now I must say that Nashville astounds me. They have really come together as a community to get through this. But there has been billions of dollars worth of damage with very little news coverage, and they need our help. 

I'm going to get brave and go bid on an item - right now. I hope you'll find it in your heart to do the same. (And I believe donations are still being accepted!)

Spread the word! Use the tweetie at the top of the blog post. =)


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Jumping at Shadows

Have you ever read a book that made you sleep with the light on? Or made you so scared you didn't dare go down into the basement without your trusty dog at your side in spite of the fact that it was three o'clock in the afternoon?

I will not read ghost stories. I will not watch ghost movies. It takes a lot of coaxing to get me to tell them. And I definitely DO NOT write them! Why? Because I've seen enough ghosts to know they're real. (Yeah, I just admitted to seeing ghosts.) I have no problem writing about murderers and psychopaths. But ghosts? If I write/talk/read about them, I catch myself looking over my shoulder every five seconds. And jumping at shadows. And noises.

So, is it just me? Or are all writers this way? And I don't mean do you see ghosts. Is there something that freaks you out so bad you don't put it down on paper? What subjects are taboo for you and why?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Spread the Awesome + Contest!

This day of awesomeness is the brainchild of Elana Johnson. It's a way to show our love and appreciation to published authors whose books ROCK!

We are giving away signed hardbacks of two of the most amazing books ever! (Details below.)


Gary Paulsen

No person outside my family has influenced my son's life more than this amazing man. You can see the thrill on my face at meeting him last month. In person he is just like his books - full of incredible stories and interesting information. BUT in real life he is hilarious! It was such an honor to be able to thank him in person for his influence in my son's life.

Gary has written a new book woven with historical vignettes called Woods Runner. It's about a 13 year old boy who sets out to rescue his family from during the Revolutionary War. (Don't be surprised if this one's an award winner!) Followers of this blog can win an autographed copy just by commenting on this post. (Be sure to specify if you'd like to win this book or the one Bethany is featuring!)

For a bit of round-robin fun, head on over to Danyelle Leafty's blog for Shannon Hale's Forest Born. (And no worries! If you follow the links each blog in the chain, you will end up back here to read Bethany's post! And to see a master list of all those participating, click here.)



If I had to scream praise for a book, it would be Lindsey Leavitt's middle grade novel PRINCESS FOR HIRE. From the first page, I was laughing... the first sentence! The main character drew me in and carried me through the story to the end. Humor, heart-ache, magic and love--that's what makes this book shine.

Followers of this blog can win an autographed copy of Lindsey Leavitt's Princess for Hire just by commenting on this post. Be sure to specify which book you'd like to win!

For round-robin fun, head on over to L.T. Elliot's blog, Dreams of Quill and Ink to read about Jay Asher and 13 Reasons Why. (Master list available here.)

Winners will be announced in one week. =)