Tuesday, December 29, 2009

THE List

After our last post, Suz and I know what you've been reading. But here's the burning question.
What did you read in 2009 that will leave a lasting impression in years to come? Because those are the books I want to put on my
TO READ IN 2010 list.

In all fairness, here are some of mine:

1. Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
2. How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-Boyfriend by Janette Rallison
3. The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
4. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

So there you have it. Now it's your turn to dish. Go ahead... blast my socks off with your plethora of answers. And I promise you. I. WILL. READ.!


Monday, December 28, 2009

What Are You Reading?

It's a fun time of year, the hinterland between Christmas and New Year's when lucky recipients delve into the books they've received as gifts. Right now I'm reading two: Nate Kenyon's Bloodstone and Jessica Verday's The Hollow.

What are you reading? Are you enjoying it? I would love to know.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Our Wish for You

Just down the hill from my home is an idyllic little pond which I've blogged about before. Every time we're out driving and it's dark (we make four karate-studio-runs per week) my kids beg to drive by Salem Pond. And so we loop around the pond, the kids ooh-ing and aah-ing, and I find myself caught up in the magic of the floating displays and the hauntingly beautiful trees.

Today as I sat down, I found myself wanting to share the magic with you.

And so our wish for you is that you will find childlike wonder in your holidays.

Wishing you and yours peace, joy, and happiness.

Suzette Saxton and Bethany Wiggins

Monday, December 21, 2009

Kiss Scene

This is a kissing scene from the fourth book I wrote. Enjoy!

She pushed her dripping hair from her forehead and scowled. “Leave with them, Golmarr. I don’t want you here. You will never see a horse again! You will not be the Horse Lord!” Lini cried.

“I know what I will not see, and what I will not be! I have thought that exact thing hundreds of times. This is what I want to be!” He pointed to his short hair and shirtless torso.

“You hate this place!” Lini said.

“I am staying."

“No. This is my island, and I say you must go."

“Your being stupid, Lini. You know as well as I do that if I leave, you will be alone for the rest of your life. I am not going,” he persisted.

“I can handle being alone. I like being alone! I want to be alone!” She didn’t mean to yell. “Go back to Glennis. I don't love you any more.” It was a lie, but if anything would convince him to leave, that was it.

“No. You can take your heart back, that’s fine. But you can’t make my choices for me. I left you once and that was the biggest mistake I ever made. I will not do it again."

"I hate you," she said, turning her back to him, and stormed away.

“Lini stop!” Golmarr commanded. She froze and watched his tall shadow approach. And then he stood behind her. He grabbed her shoulders and forced her to face him.

“I… Will… Not… Leave… You! Not ever! I am empty without you!” he yelled, shaking her shoulders with each word. “I don’t care if you pretend I don’t exist, or if you hate me! I have already made my choice and—“

His touch was too much. Lini grabbed his short, sea-soked hair in her hands and forced his face to hers. She kissed him, pulling his lips hard against her own. He wrapped his arms around her waist and lifted her from the ground.

It felt so right being in his arms. Everything about him seemed to fit against her, to match, to harmonize. He set her back on the ground, but her mouth refused to relinquish his. She grabbed him more securely behind the head and pressed her body against his, as if afraid he might try to leave.

Finally, with great force, he pushed her away enough to gasp a ragged breath of air. “Lini!” he said between breaths. “Why didn’t you do that the first night on the boat?” He stared at her for a moment before asking, “So I guess this means that I can stay?"

Friday, December 18, 2009

Networking is like...

...fumbling around in the dark to find a particular item while having no clue what the item looks or feels like. And then, once you find it, the item might get irritated if it wasn't interested in being found in the first place.

Good news. On Monday I will be unveiling a cool new feature on QueryTracker.net. It's totally related to social networking and will make finding other authors on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and websites easier and faster. QT isn't just for queries anymore!

So go to the main site (it's free!) and update your profiles with all your social networking sites--and your genre preferences. Then watch the QT blog on Monday, December 21.

Oh! And spread the word! More people knowing = more connections for you. (Agents and editors look at these things!)

Thanks, Elana, for letting me "borrow" your beautifully crafted blurb!

What is networking like for you?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Writing Is Like...

... getting a slab of granite and being handed a chisel, and then uncovering David.

Writing is like being thrown a jumble of 85,000 words and being told that if you arrange them just so, they will have the power to make people laugh, cry, and remember how true love feels.

Writing is like snow. One flake is a beginning. A million flakes are a winter wonderland.

Writing is like running. You start out slow. And it hurts. But the more you do it, the swifter you become. The stronger you get.

When I was a teenager I finally admitted to myself that magic doesn't exist. As an adult, I know better. Writing is... magic.

What is writing like for you?


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Happy Unofficially Official Agent Appreciation Day!

This unofficial holiday is the brainchild of Kody Keplinger, author of The DUFF which will be published in autumn 2010. (My agent just sold the film rights!)

When it was time to query SECRET SISTERS, my middle grade mystery, I made a list on QueryTracker of my top ten dream agents. In the number one slot I entered this:

Brendan Deneen

One by one, I sent those ten queries out. Within minutes I had two full requests. Within three months I had an offer on the table and began talking by phone with agents... but pretty much knew right away that Brendan was The One. He's witty, visionary, and enthusiastic. His emails make me laugh, and Colleen Lindsay's tweets about him make me laugh harder.

Not many people know that Brendan is also a published author, making a big splash in the comic book world with his Flash Gordon series illustrated by Paul Green.

So what it all comes down to is this: I am seriously grateful to have signed with the very first agent I queried, my #1 dream agent, Brendan Deneen of FinePrint Literary Management.

Cheers, Brendan, and thanks for all you do!



What can I say about Marlene Stringer of Stringer Literary?

She’s awesome.

Her average email response time (to me) is a lightning-fast six minutes—miraculous in the agent world—I feel so loved.

She is a deal-making ninja (one of Publisher’s Marketplace’s top deal
makers) who’s throwing karate chops for me right now.

And, most importantly in my case, she really likes my manuscript (le sigh).

Wanna know more about her? Check out this interview. And you know you want to send her a query. Because she’s awesome. So here’s what she is looking for.

And she’s awesome. Did I already say that?


To learn more about our journey to representation, check out our success stories on QueryTracker:

Want to follow bunches of writers participating in Unofficially Official Agent Appreciation Day?Check out:

Elana Johnson's Blog
Lisa & Laura Write

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Stolen Christmas, Scones and Sensibility

My good friend Angie Lofthouse has a story published in this book, which is a delightful collection of short stories. I have my copy in my hands (yep, bought it as a gift for myself) and it's so shiny and pretty... click on Angie's name above for more info.

I had the honor of interviewing middle grade author Lindsay Eland over on the Query Tracker Blog. She is so much fun! To find out more about her book, Scones and Sensibility, click on either link above.
I hope you all are enjoying the holiday season!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Trial by Fire - Forging Better Writers?

This book has been a goldmine (SK is brilliant!) but what I want to share with you is something author Peter Straub said 1n 1979 when he was co-interviewed with Stephen King. I think it has HUGE bearing on the state of publishing today (the bold text is my addition):

But I have another little theory - which I've just invented - that the whole fiction market, the whole publishing world, changed a couple of years ago when the price of paper went so high. Publishers started turning down books that they normally would have accepted. It got much harder to be a first novelist. It was much harder to be a first novelist in 1977 than it was in 1973, when I was a first novelist. There was a certain handwriting on the wall, and I think one by-product of this is that many younger writers read the writing on the wall and wanted to exercise their talent in some form that would be acceptable to publishers. If you're very, very good - if you're really good - there's always a place for you: you're always going to be read, and you're always going to be published.
I can think of two mega-bestselling authors who have emerged in the last decade whose books were so poorly written they are intolerable reading for anyone who knows anything about writing. At the urging of my husband, I picked one up. He was sure the story would hook me even if the writing (adverbs galore!) did not. At page 50 I threw the book across the room, I was so disgusted.

Now, agents are asking for rounds of revisions from authors they would have signed without hesitation two years ago. Agents are submitting near-perfect manuscripts to publishers but are not having nearly the sales they did before. Newly published books are coming under harsh scrutiny for their "lack of editing." Hard times for all involved.


Could this be the best possible state for literature as a whole? Will this trial by fire "purify" what's being published, resulting in stronger books in the future?

Thank you Girl With One Eye for the Honest Scrap Award! I hereby pass this award along to any soul brave enough to comment on this post.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Glimpse Into the Edits of Dickens

Thanks to blogger/author Jay Asher, I stumbled across something I would love to share with everyone. Each December the New York Times displays Charles Dickens original "Christmas Carol" manuscript. It is amazing to look at--hand written, all scratched and scribbled, barely legible--and see the mundane origins of one of the most amazing novels ever written. Click here to see the manuscript.

So, does it remind you of your own heavily edited work?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Finish Strong

The end of the year is approaching. I have something I would like to throw out into the blog world before it gets here. Because if you're like me, the new year is a reminder of everything you didn't accomplish. For instance, when January 1st 2009 rolled around, I was like: Yay. Crap! Still holding onto those five extra pounds. And yeah, wrote another book. Ouch... wrote another book and, double ouch, still no agent. Sheesh--not only no agent, but no one even wants to read my manuscript once they read my query. Hmmm. Did I write the wrong book? Or does my writing just plain suck? Or both? Now, this sounds like the most depressing post ever, I know. But read on.

New Years comes and goes... I mean, it only lasts for that fleeting wisp of time between 11:59.59 p.m. and 12:00.00 a.m.

So on to the not-so-depressing part. When I scraped myself up off the floor at 12:00.01 a.m., January first, I gave myself a swift, metaphorical kick in the A-double-S. And then I sat down at the computer. And wrote. And queried. And wrote. And wrote. And queried. And then, lo-and-behold, after a lot of years of doing this, everything sort of just slipped into place, like dropping a one-thousand piece jigsaw puzzle and all the pieces magically interlock to form a picture. Maybe not the exact picture on the front of the puzzle box, but a picture just as spectacular. My point is... for things to fall into place, you have to work hard. REALLY hard. And sometimes for a long time. And you have to finish strong. BUT! To finish strong, you have to start. Sometimes more than once. Sometimes more than twice. How many times did I start??? SEVEN. And I finished strong. So what are you waiting for? Go out there and start, or finish, depending on where you are. And be sure to finish strong.

This post is dedicated to some of the people who have helped Suzette and me achieve our goals and finish stronger than we ever imagined we could. Thanks...

Elana Johnson
Jaime Wiggins
and of course, thank you Suzette! Couldn't have made it to where I am without you, sis!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Simplest Writing Trick Ever!

Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?

Sounds like a procrastinator's mantra, don't you think? Actually, it's my key to making my writing career a reality. At every crossroads in my stay-at-home-mom daily life, I ask myself a question. "Laundry or writing?" Writing wins. "Sweep or write?" Writing wins again. "Clean toilets or revise?" Um, hello!

Of course the needs of my children come first, and I am proud to say that they are all well fed and their hair is (ahem) usually combed. But every day it comes down to a choice, and I choose to write.

One of the best ways to make writing a reality is create an Ideal Schedule. Mine looks like this:

Write 8-4
Kidstuff 4-8
Read, critique, or movie w/hubby 8-11

Volunteer 9-12
Errands 12-4
Kidstuff 4-8
Read, critique, or movie w/hubby 8-11

Home Improvement projects on house

Relax and read

This schedule is highly idealized, but most days I manage to at least follow it loosely. The past few weeks have been an exception because I've been going like gang-busters on revisions. (Yep, the house is in a near-constant state of disarray.) But now that my revisions are done, I'll be settling into my old routine.

What about you? What mental tricks help you turn to writing? What kind of schedule (or lack thereof!) do you follow?

A Treat for You from Us!

Some very exciting news - our blog has reached 300 followers!

Bethany and I feel so lucky to have all of you in our lives. We talk every day about our followers, what you are saying in your blogs, the little ways we've gotten to know you better.

Today we want to say THANK YOU! We've baked up a delectable cake so please choose a slice. There is also a warm cup of tea, which happens to be the Heartfelt Award, which we want to give you for your own blog. Just leave us a comment so we can link to you at the end of the post.

Thanks to Diana Paz of the Writing Roller Coasters blog for giving us this award. She is an amazing blogger and an incredible friend.

I want to shout out a very loud CONGRATULATIONS to Elana Johnson who has signed with her dream agent. We are so happy for you!

One last thing, I've posted an interview with a contest-winning author over on the QTblog and would love to share it with you! Be sure to let me know you stopped over there by leaving a comment.


Friday, November 6, 2009

All Because Erin Dyed Her Hair.

My friend Erin (see photo--yep, that's the beautiful Erin) dyed her hair black. So what, right? Well, when her hair was black, her eyes looked gold. And all I could think as I stared at her, and probably freaked her out with my scrutiny, was, "Her eyes look like cat eyes." What does this story have to do with a blog that centers around writing? Everything. When I saw those gold eyes, a character was born. An entire trilogy was inspired. All because Erin dyed her hair (thanks, Erin!).

And then the other day, I supervised youth dodge ball. And this boy, this teenager, walked into the gym. My jaw dropped. My eyes grew round. I stared at the poor teenage boy the whole evening. And I'm sure he got totally creeped out--I am slightly beyond my teenage years, way too old to be staring at him like that. But it was as if the character from my work-in-progress peeled himself off the page and came to that gym to haunt me. If I'd had my notebook, I would have been scribbling furiously. If I'd had a camera, I would have been snapping pictures until the battery died. If I had been brave, I would have talked to him. Instead I studied him from afar and memorized the way he moved, how his t-shirt hung on him, the angle of his cheekbones, how he smiled when he pegged someone with the ball. I went home and wrote him onto paper. And finally fell in love with my character. Sigh.

So where does it come from, your character inspiration? And do you love your characters like I do? Even the bad ones?

--Bethany aka Wiggy

P.S. Check out the Querytracker blog for the latest in agent news.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Agent-Judged Contest on the QueryTracker Blog!

Fantastic news - the QTblog is hosting another agent-judged contest! I'm honored to be working again with literary agent Anna Webman of Curtis Brown Ltd. This contest is for Young Adult Novels only. Come check out all the details on the QueryTracker blog!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

An Offer I Can't Refuse

Two short months ago Bethany announced "I Have an Agent" and today I'm beyond thrilled to share the same news.

I have accepted an offer of representation from Brendan Deneen of Fineprint Literary Management. I've worked with Brendan in the past over at the QueryTracker blog, so I already know what a terrific guy he is, and I'm honored to be working with him in this capacity. For more info about which project of mine caught his eye, check out Mary's post on the QTblog.

What makes my journey and Bethany's unique is that we set out together when we made a pact to write. Seven years and many novels later, we have reached agenthood within six weeks of each other. I love ya, sis, and have enjoyed sharing this journey with you!

Thanks to each and every one of you who follow this blog and who have offered your unfailing support. You have helped me grow as a writer and as a friend.

Warmest wishes,


Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Moments that Make Us

Just so you know, for the next week, in preparation for Thanksgiving and being barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen A LOT, I'm going to post a week's worth of old but awesome posts. Even though it isn't next week yet, we'll start with this one, written by my amazing blog partner and sister, Suzette Saxton. Enjoy!

There are things in life that we have no control over that leave their mark - death of a loved one comes to mind - and then there are those subtle things that make just as big an impression.

Take opera. My exposure to it consisted of Pretty Woman, when Edward Lewis (played by Richard Gere) said, "People's reactions to opera the first time they see it is very dramatic; they either love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don't, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul." I made a point of listening to a smattering of opera after that - nothing happened. I figured I was one of those who would never have it in my soul. Many years later I bought a collection of classical music, and tacked on at the end, almost as an afterthought, was a very short opera piece by Puccini. I was so stunned by its beauty I found myself crying. That one piece unlocked a window in my soul, and I have loved opera ever since.

Another involves Flaming June, a painting I think you all know I love, as I use it as my Google icon. (Sweet Cynde even sent me Flaming June emery boards!) On a recent trip to the museum I found myself face-to-face with an original 4x4 inch oil study that was part of the planning stage for Flaming June. To see the actual brushstrokes of Lord Fredrick Leighton ... I stood riveted to the spot as a long line of patrons accumulated behind me. When one of them finally cleared his throat, I gave up my place and moved to the back of the line to await another turn.

Other life-altering moments that come to mind include a recent camping trip I took with my children, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, and sunsets in general, which never fail to spur spiritual growth. This past weekend I swam in a million-year-old crater pool. Once I got used to the fact that I was floating atop 65 feet of water, the experience was profound.

I want to know about those subtle, life-shaping moments that make you who you are.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Fact in the Fiction

Much of one of my manuscripts takes place around an abandoned silver mine. Giant, gnawing holes so deep you can't see the bottom, stipple the ground where the earth has collapsed in on the mine shafts. Fact: I played at this mine as a teenager, snooping through the brush and ponderosa pines to find these sunken-in mine shafts. My cousin used to write stories about what came out of those shafts. I write about what's been dumped inside.

I have a neighbor. He's in his mid-twenties, braids his goatee, is as rough and hard as asphalt--the type of guy you make sure not to make eye-contact with if you see him on the street. He heard I wrote books and asked what they were about. I told him I had written a book called "The Hunted," about Skinwalkers. His lips thinned. He told me a story. A story that made his voice shake. A story he could not tell while looking at my eyes. He stared at his hands all the while, probably clasping them to keep them from trembling.

"I was chased by a Skinwalker. I was driving along a dirt road in the middle of the night. When I saw it, I pushed on the gas as hard as I could. It ran as fast as my car. It looked mostly human, but not quite. I have never been more scared of anything in my life. I've never told anyone." Fact: "The Hunted" part two is about Skinwalkers that look mostly human... but not quite.

An old family friend of mine worked as a security guard at a youth mental hospital. While doing rounds one night, he witnessed a teenage girl committing suicide--she had tied a shoelace around her neck and was twisting it tighter and tighter with the pencil she'd looped through it. He turned to the hallway and screamed for help. When he turned back, she was gone. While searching the records of the hospital, he found the report of a teenage girl who had committed suicide by shoelace and pencil--more than half a century before. Now there's the premise for a story. Fact: I don't write ghost stories. I don't dare.

So, tell me, how much of the fiction you write is based on fact?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An Award - For YOU!

Hey friends, let's party! I'm going to do something a bit unorthodox here, so hang on to your hats and get ready to win an award.

First, I'd like to thank the following for giving our blog an award:

Danni at Romantic Harbor
Angie Lofthouse at Notes from the Writing Chair
Michelle McLean at Writer's Ramblings
Andrea Cremer at A Blurred History
Pamela MacLean at From Barbies to Words

If you have given me an award but don't see your name here, please let me know!

And now for the unorthodox part. I have the hardest time singling out blogs for awards, and then worry that I've missed someone. So here's the deal - if you leave a comment on this post, you get an award. You can choose one of the awards from below. Leave a comment letting me know which one you've nabbed and I will put a link to your blog in the post. Voila! We're all happy.

And now for the awards:

A Light in the Night Award

The Lemonade Award
Judith Mercado at Pilgrim Soul

The Splish-Splash Award
Wendy at All in a Day's Thoughts
Diana Paz at Writing Roller Coasters
Crystal and Pamela at Two to Write

The Zombie Chicken Award
Stephanie Thornton at Hatsheput: The Writing of a Novel
Danyelle Leafty at Myth-takes
Angie Lofthouse at Notes from the Writing Chair
JM Diaz at An Ulterior Motive

The Kreativ Blogger Award

Wishing you all a fantastic week,


P.S. Special thanks to The Book Bundle blog for a special package I got in the mail today - from Ireland, no less! I won their first contest and am looking forward to reading Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton.

Friday, September 11, 2009

From the Query to the Call

So you've finished your work in progress. Not only have you finished, but you know that it is going to be the next big thing--like Stephen King big. Awesome! Time to celebrate! Now all you have to do is write the query. Right? Because without a magnificent query letter, not a single agent will even look at your manuscript, no matter how good it is. Well, if you're like me, you'll sit down at the computer to write a nice little query that conveys the extreme awesomeness of your manuscript... and hit a wall worse than writers block.

Why is it so hard to write a few short paragraphs about your work? Well, let's get the opinion of an expert. Christine Fonseca interviewed Elana Johnson, query expert extraordinaire, and here is her (Elana's) opinion....

Elana Johnson (EJ): In my experience, writers have a hard time getting to the main conflict of their novel. They want to spend so much time setting everything up, from character details to the fancy world they’ve created to the relationships. And books are about conflict. Along with that is the fallout of the conflict. Most of the queries I’ve seen are missing the consequence if the MC can’t solve their problem. And if I don’t know what the stakes are, why do I care?

For the whole interview and a review of From the Query to the Call, click here.

Oh, how I wish I had this ebook in my hands five years ago when I wrote my very first, horribly long-winded query! The time I would have save! I'm not saying that it'll be easy to come up with that perfect query, even with this wealth of knowledge at your fingertips. But it'll make it a heck of a lot easier.

Congratulations to our friend and fellow writer, Elana Johnson, who is releasing the ebook From the Query to the Call this Monday, September 14th.

So, here is the question of the day. Why do you think writing a query is so stinkin' hard?

Also, check out the Querytracker Blog for the the Publishing Pulse and a fascinating article on plagiarism.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Hollow

CONGRATS to our friend Jessica Verday on the publication of her book The Hollow! It is now in bookstores everywhere.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I Have an Agent

It feels surreal to be writing this. I have an agent! Marlene Stringer of Stringer Literary Agency! Just typing these words brings butterflies to my stomach.

After reading my query letter, Marlene Stringer requested the first fifty pages of THE HUNTED and I accidentally sent the wrong manuscript (I had titled two partials with the same title). I sent a traditional YA fantasy which she very promptly rejected. I emailed her right away explaining my mistake and she graciously allowed me to resubmit.

Three weeks later, she requested the full manuscript.

A bit of time passed. On an ordinary Tuesday afternoon, I had an email from her. My stomach was in knots. With trembling fingers I opened the email.

“As promised, I have read THE HUNTED. I really enjoyed it, and tried to phone you on the number listed on your email.

I think I connected with wrong number.

Please advise a number that I may reach you by phone so we can talk.”

I had to read the email four times before it sank in. I emailed her my home number. She called within minutes and we had a nice long chat about her agency and my writing. She offered to represent me.

And that is the beginning of my story.

Anything else you wanna know? Ask away. I’d love to answer any questions.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Yay and Boo

YAY to Angie Lofthouse! Her story, which you can find here, won the Publisher's Choice Award and will appear in a Christmas collection. Congratulations, Angie!

BOO to spammers who use comments on others' blogs to promote their pornographic websites. We've had a few of those lately, so I've had to turn comment moderation on. (Sorry!) Have you had problems with spammers? If so, how do you deal with them?

I wish you all a most amazing week.


P.S. Be sure to check out my post today on the QueryTracker blog. :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

So long, summertime...

As I bid a fond farewell to summer and see my older two kids off to school each day, I find my thoughts turning back to writing. I recently penned a short story and had so much fun with it! I've also been working on a project with a certain fantastic sister of mine. *wink*

Some of you have wondered if I'm actively querying, and the truth is, I'm not. I have a few queries floating around out there for a couple of different projects, but for the most part I've decided to take it slow and easy and enjoy each day as much as I can. There have been times when writing was all-consuming; when I was not writing I was thinking about it. And as thrilling as that was, I'm striving to find the perfect balance between family and writing. Because I still have a little one at home for this final year before she goes to school, writing will not quite be a full-time endeavor --- and I am okay with that.

Does the change of season affect your writing? Where are you in the writing/querying journey? How do you find balance?


P.S. My dear friend Angie Lofthouse has a short-short story in a contest, and I would love it if she won! (Voting closes August 22nd.) Check out her blog, Notes from the Writing Chair, for details... and for a FREE CHOCOLATE contest!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

To Delve Into the Forbidden

When talking with friend and fellow writer Michelle McLean today, she made a comment that got me thinking. It went something like (but not exactly like) this:

"The reason I have to wear glasses is from all the hours spent reading books with a flashlight."

When I was a tweenager, I'd hide in the linen closet with my two little sisters (who made beds in the blankets on the high shelves) and read aloud to them by the light of a flashlight (torch for all of you UKers). The books we read were Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's witch books--forbidden reading for my younger sisters.

Then came the year that I lived with my Aunt. Ten o'clock sharp was lights out or die! At least, I thought she'd kill me if I didn't turn the light out. When she pounded the ten o'clock warning on my closed bedroom door, I'd turn off the bedside lamp and flip on the electric blanket no matter that it was the middle of summer. Why the electric blanket? It had a microscopic orange light on it, just bright enough that if I moved it along each individual line of the book, I could read! I hunkered down into the wee hours of the morning with the likes of "Clan of the Cave Bear," "The Hobbit," and "The Hero and the Crown."

And yes. I, too, wear glasses.

Anyhow, the point I am trying to make is:

What lengths have you gone to to read?
What rules have you broken?
Where did you have to hide to delve into the forbidden?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009

One More

Silver, you are worth your weight in gold. *wink* Thanks so much for thinking of me for the One Lovely Blog Award! Without further ado, I'd like to pass this award along to the following lovely blogs:

Angie Lofthouse's Notes from the Writing Chair
Suzanne Palmieri's Tales of Extraordinary Ordinariness
Lilly Jones's A Voice on Fleming Road
Lady Glamis's Innocent Flower
Stephen Baird's Nikon Sniper

Primios Dardos and Humane Awards

Many thanks to Ana Rios for unending patience and the Premium Dardos Award! And to the lovely Danyelle over at Myth-takes for making my day on many occasions, and for giving this blog the Humane Award.

I've had the honor of reading so very many amazing blogs that it was incredibly hard to choose just ten.

I hereby award the Premios Dardos to:
Tips from Ina
Cynde's Got the Write Stuff
The Virginia Scribe - Reflections by Amy Tate
Eric's Working My Muse
Stina Lindenblatt

* * * * *

For downright sweetness I give the Humane Award to the following:

Amanda's Keyboard
Silver's Reflections
Andrea Cremer's A Blurred History
Liana Brooks
Coffeelvnmom's My Thoughts Exactly

Thanks to everyone who follows my blog. What you write inspires me every day, and I'm honored to have you in my life.



Hey winners:
1. Accept and post the award on your blog.
2. Link to the person from whom you received it.
3. Pass the award to 5 other blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment.
4. Let them know they've been chosen for this award.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Heeeeeeeeeeeeere's Wiggy!

Alright, so that's me... Wiggy aka Bethany Wiggins. And in spite of the fact that I have been writing for many years, I am so nervous to blog! I mean, I have FOLLOWERS! Yikes. Just nobody drink the Koolaid unless I try it first. Anyhow, it is awesome to be here and I can't wait to get to know everyone a little better.

By the way, go to the QueryTracker blog to check out Suzette's interview with the amazing YA author Sara Zarr.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Best Things

Blogging is fun. Really, really fun. I love connecting with all of you people out there in the blogosphere.

There is one thing I like better. Srsly, it is more fun than blogging. What is it? Meeting fellow bloggers in real life.

I'm on the left. I got to hang with, from left to right:
  • Michelle Argyle, also known as Lady Glamis whose blog is The Innocent Flower.
  • Elana Johnson. We met online in the QueryTracker forum about a year and a half ago and have hung out in RL several times since. Seriously, this gal is a laugh a minute - and one of my best friends. Her blog is Mindless Musings.
  • Tess Hilmo was gracious to host us all in her beautiful home. The kiddles ran through sprinklers and Tess had a barrel full of iced drinks. (How cool is that?) Her blog is here.
  • And the cute-as-a-button Natalie Whipple. Though I'm sure her kids are cute as buttons, I didn't get to meet them. Her blog is Between Fact and Fiction.
Have you ever had the chance to meet up with people you've met online? How did it go?

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Par-tay! Thanks to you, our wonderful followers, we've just hit the 200 mark! Cake for everyone. Thanks for following!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Big News!!!

At last, the long-awaited news!

Some of you may know that my sister, Bethany Wiggins, writes YA fiction, urban fantasy in particular. She and I started our writing journey together after I heard the most inspiring bit of advice imaginable from Louis Sachar on the bonus features of the Holes DVD.

This is a picture of Bethany and I (she's on the left) at our little sister's wedding reception a few weeks ago. Our brothers-in-law are on the right. My wonderful husband took the picture.

And now, we've decided to join forces and take on another journey together. Blogging. That's right, Bethany has graciously agreed to co-author this blog with me. And who knows - you may see a co-authored book from us before too long!

I've told Bethany of all the wonderful friends I've made while blogging, and she's excited to get to know all of you. Let's extend a warm welcome to her.

And for those of you who don't know, I write books for children of all ages. To see what I write, come visit my website: www.suzettesaxton.us

Thursday, July 2, 2009

What Do You Love?

Little-known Gems
(pssst... stay tuned, at the end of this post I'll reveal something little-known about me!)

Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them all. ~Henry David Thoreau

Have you ever happened upon a book, one that nobody's heard of, or one you would never had heard of if someone hadn't recommended it to you, and then found it to be the loveliest little treasure? I want to know about it. Let's give these books the recognition they deserve!

Any genre will do. Let me know (in the comments) your obscure favorite and I will post it here and see if we can't get some word of mouth going for these amazing authors and/or illustrators. (I'll also be linking back to your blog!)

Homeplace by Anne Shelby. I was stunned to learn that this book is out of print! Without doubt, the story and illustrations make this the coziest, most beautiful children's book I have ever read. This one I'm passing down to my children... and grandchildren!

What do you Love? By Jonathan London, author of the popular Froggy series, this book is often overlooked though it is still in print. The illustrations by Karen Lee Schmidt are stunning and truly capture love in print.

The Black Rose by Thomas Costain. On a vacation to my grandmother's house in Whittier California as a teen, I found this in her guest house; an original version first published in 1945, and could not put it down.

Stephanie Haefner:

I saw the kids book you listed and immediately thought of a book called 'Someday' by Alison McGhee. I saw it on the shelf in Walmart and began reading it. I knew I had to get it when I couldn't control my tears right there in the store! Bought it as a gift for a friend who had a baby girl right around that time.

I thought of another one myself. This dystopian YA will stick with you! The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick is one my family happened to listen to on tape while on a road trip. We found ourselves driving extra hours at the end of our trip just to keep listening.


The one which springs to mind for me is The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. Recently made into a film, this book is my mother's. I must have been leafing through her bookcase (I can't remember...I've had it on my shelf for years now!) and started reading it. It's a lovely, historical fantasy (that's how i place it) Written in...possibly 1940's, it's a sweet tale. Might re-read and review at some point. A rich girl gets sent to the country with her companion/governess, to live with her uncle. It turns out she's not just a guest, she's The One to bring joy and safety back to the village.

Eileen Astels Watson

Childrens books are always so wonderful to look back on. Max Lucado wrote one, I believe it was called "I Love You This Much" that read over and over again to my girls. I need to go on a hunt for that one, not that you've reminded me of it.

Andrea Robertson Cremer

Hooray for The Black Rose and The Little White Horse, both amazing.

I also loved, Birth of the Firebringer. A YA fantasy about unicorns that is amazing and I think little known.


I LOVE Annie Dillard. She doesn't write fiction, per se, but it's kind of like fiction. She is poetic, too. Her love of nature, and the way she writes about God and our world really helps me with writing. Pilgrim At Tinker Creek is my favorite.


I recently rediscovered a little book published in 1950 called Mr. Snitzel's Cookies. It was in my grandmother's house when I was a kid and I remember sitting on her lap, being read to. Somehow it survived, though it's rather tattered, and I read it to my daughters the other day. It's a great little story about generosity.

NOTE: I was unable to obtain a picture - sorry!


Yes....Beauty by Susan Wilson. I enjoyed it throughly and past it on to my daughter who fell in love with it as well. Its about love and how it cuts through all things.


I am going to read the Black Rose very soon. A fav from my youth in the YA fantasy area would be any of the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander.


When I was a teenager, my older sister worked in a book store. In the early mornings before school started and she was still asleep, I'd slip into her room and sneak whatever new book she had just finished reading. That is how I discovered Patricia McKillip's "The Changeling Sea." I don't know why, but that book has stuck with me for nearly two decades. I have read it several times since (my sister keeps it in her guest bedroom so I read it every time I visit her) and it still holds the same magic for me.

LITTLE-KNOWN FACT: Bethany Wiggins is... MY SISTER! It's true, and I am the owner of The Changeling Sea. Bethany is a writer just like me, and in fact, we started our journey out together. Stay tuned, in the near future I'll have an exciting announcement to make regarding this blog - - - and Bethany! *wink*

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Trick to Get Your Writing Noticed

I'm about to let you in on a little-known secret. Contests are a great way to get your work noticed! And if you place in a contest, you can mention it in a query to an agent or editor.

How do you find a contest? Google, of course!

The first thing to do is look for contests is in your local area. Most states have a league of writers, and most leagues have one or more contests per year. Annual membership fees are nominal, and more often than not, you don't even need to be a member to enter! (Though you will get a discounted entry fee if you are a member.) Also, Art Councils usually hold annual contests in every state.

The next step is to look for contests on a national level. The resource I use most often is Stephanie Smith's Contest Chart for Writers. Though your chances of winning are slimmer because there are more entrants, it is still worth a shot. Often, national contests are free.

Some trivia. Without doubt, the romance genre has the most contests. Rumor has it that in order for an author to be successful writing romance, he/she must win a contest. Romance readers look for it! The genre with the fewest contests is, most unfortunately, Childrens. (With the exception of YA.)

Thank you Liana for bringing up sci-fi! WRITERS OF THE FUTRE has an acclaimed contest that is free to enter, and winners are published in an anthology. The judges are well known sci-fi authors. Entries can be up to 17,000 words, and the contest runs quarterly. Check out this LINK for contest rules.

A good friend of mine entered a YA contest. One of the judges was an editor for a rather large publishing imprint. Though my friend did not win (she placed in the top 3) the editor offered detailed revision suggestions and asked to see her full manuscript, which she recently submitted.

Another kind of contest is one held on a blog with an agent as a judge, and submissions to that agent as prizes. These contests are super easy to enter, as everything is done online. As I write this, agent Mollie Glick with Foundry Literary+Media (who is, by the way, an absolute delight to correspond with) is accepting elevator pitch entries in the third QueryTracker blog contest, which ends at midnight PST June 16th. Here are her genres:
  • adult fiction
  • YA fiction
  • narrative non-fiction
I would love to know if any of you have entered contests. And if you've won, let's celebrate!

  • KATIE who placed in Inspiration for Writers
  • STINA LINDENBLATT who placed in Miss Snark's First Victim
  • LORI CALABRESE recently won 1st place in Dragonfly Publishing Inc.'s 2009 Picture Book contest and will have her first picture book published next year
  • LORI CALABRESE also came in 2nd place in the Children's Writer nonfiction sports contest!
  • LACI SMITH for placing runner-up in the QTblog one-sentence pitch contest with Brendan Deneen
  • ANA RIOS for finaling in a poetry contest (and thanks for the great link in the comments!)
  • BARMAID for winning the National Writers Association scholarship contest

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Call

The other evening I was on the phone for an hour. The conversation started like this:

Hello, this is ***** with the ******* ******* Literary Agency. How are you this evening?

I'm fine, just fine. How are you?

Can't complain. Do you mind if we talk about your book?

Not at all.

I am looking for a few special manuscripts to represent, in both middle grade and Children's. I have strong contacts in the publishing industry, and have a good sense of what the Children's book market is looking for. That's why your book caught my eye. Can you tell me a bit about what inspired you to write it? I'd also like to know who your favorite character is and why.

Before you start sending me congratulatory messages, you need to know:
This was a test. This writer was conducting a test of the Emergency Agency System. This was only a test.
Tis true. It was a practice of "The Call" and I had a lot of fun "playing" the agent. A dear friend of mine was expecting The Real Call the following day, and needless to say, she was a bit jittery. (Okay - panicked!) She had never talked to an agent before. And while she found it strange that my sister Wiggy (also a writer) and I often surprised each other with out-of-the-blue-pretend-agent-calls-just-in-case-a-real-agent-ever-calls-one-of-us, my friend agreed to a practice run.

The next day she aced The Call, talking coherently and even intelligently with a dream agent.

Is it a good idea to call a friend up and pretend to be an agent? Yes! If they know in advance you are going to do so. (It's always a good idea to use your real name when calling.) Just as with a pitch you plan on sharing with an agent at a conference, practice is a good thing!

I'm lucky enough to have fielded a call or two myself, and am always surprised by how down to earth agents are - I think sometimes we tend to forget that agents are people too!

Have a fantastic June.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What do you write?

I wanna know! Tell me all about your projects.
  • Genre(s)
  • How many books you've written
  • Have you submitted to agents/publishers?
  • Anything else you want to share

Sunday, May 17, 2009

QueryTracker Carnival and a FREE WEBSITE

Hey friends, we have some fun things going on the next few weeks over on the QueryTracker blog. I'm going to hand the microphone over to the lovely Elana Johnson, dear friend and fellow QTblog author:

QueryTracker Turns Two!

That's right. It's like a proud parent moment. Except I am not the parent, and well, Querytracker.net isn't a kid. But it's the same excitement!

Because we're having a party!

Click on the picture below for more details. Oh, and there's also a little blog chain contest going on. The grand prize of this hulla-baloo is a FREE WEBSITE designed by the awesome Carolyn Kaufman and QT's daddy, Patrick McDonald. That's right. FREE. (They're the Purple Squirrel Web Designers. Check 'em out.)

You want that, don't you? Um, yeah.

You get one entry into the grand prize drawing for every contest you enter. (Details on the carnival page, click below.) You can also get another entry by helping us advertise!

Thanks, Elana!

Now here's how you do it: Simply make a post like this one you're reading on your blog. Make sure to use the wicked fun graphic and direct them to the carnival page for more deets. Then come back here and leave a comment with your link and real name. Or email your link with your real name to SuzetteSaxton(at)QueryTracker(dot)net.

I'll make sure you get in the drawing.

Be sure to tell your readers to EMAIL ME (or comment here) their link and real name so I can put their name in the drawing. You can link to this post so everyone knows how to make sure they're entered for the FREE WEBSITE!

And hurry! You must have your blog post up by next Saturday, May 23 to get the extra entry.

Spread the word! Win a website!