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?