Thursday, January 28, 2010

Do You?

I teach Kindergarten every day as I write. It's true. My 4yo daughter started reading at age 3 and this year she's ready to learn "everything else." Yesterday we picked up the sweetest owl journal* and my daughter penned her first entry:


I can't imagine a more perfect way to start a journal. I used to keep a journal, but looking back realize it was one of those things I did because I was scared to sit down and get busy writing. So I no longer keep one regularly, though sometimes I wish I did.

Do you keep a journal? Does it help you in your writing?

*The journal pictured was designed by Susie Ghahremani for Chronicle Books.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Permission to Quit

For the past few months I've been suffering from PHGD (also known at Post Hunger Games Disorder.) Every book I pick up fails to hold my interest. Even my old stand-by, Stephen King, hasn't done the trick.

There was a time in my life that I would force myself to slog through books no matter what. One day I came up with the rule of 50. If, by the time I reached page 50, I wasn't absolutely hooked, I gave myself permission to quit.

Some of you may know that I mentor a group of aspiring teen authors called The Literati. This month we are reading Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. I picked it up at the library yesterday and could not put it down. HALLELUJAH! Finally the curse of PHGD was broken! I read 96 pages in one sitting.

Do you give yourself permission to quit, or are you a slogger-througher like I used to be? What books have you not been able to put down?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Nudging Demystified

I've posted an article on the QTblog about when and how to nudge an agent. I would love to share it with you. If you stop by, let me know with a comment on the QTblog.

Muchas Gracias!

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I'd like to extend a huge CONGRATS to Brendan Deneen, formally of FinePrint Literary. Brendan has accepted a position as an editor at a major publishing house. (Not sure he's announced where yet, though it has been mentioned on the web...) As you may know, Brendan has been my agent these past months. The publishing house is lucky to have him, and I will miss him dearly.

And now for my uber-fabulous news! You've probably noticed I've been a fan of Suzie Townsend's blog for quite some time. (I found it when several of her clients raved about what a fabulous agent she is.) I am pleased to announce that SUZIE IS MY AGENT! I am beyond thrilled, and I look forward to working with her.

I also get to hang with the lovely author/clients who first inspired me to visit her blog. So give them a follow, and be sure to let them know I sent you!

My daughters and I are just sitting down to watch Bride and Prejudice while we (gasp!) quilt. (Next in the line-up is A&E's Pride and Prejudice.) Wish me luck, and have a lovely weekend, everyone!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Skinny or Fat?

I had to laugh when I read Elana's post on the QueryTracker Blog. CUTTING THE FAT is an insightful article about putting your manuscript on a diet (aka revisions.)

I laughed because the night before, Bethany and I had this conversation:

B: Some writers' first drafts are massive. They have to cut their word count in half when they revise.

Me: I think you and I are the opposite. We write the bones, then flesh them out with subsequent drafts.

B: I agree!

Me: So while our first draft is like a skeleton, other people's are more like a really chubby person that needs to go on a diet.

(Copious laughter ensues.)

So which kind of writer are you, SKINNY or FAT? And is there a middle ground?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

2010 Debut Author Challenge

I was visiting FinePrintLit agent Suzie Townsend's lovely blog today, where she blogged about the 2010 Debut Author Challenge. The idea is to read a set number of YA or MG books (you choose the number) by debut authors in 2010.

Bethany and I hereby accept Ms. Townsend's challenge to read at least 12 books by debut authors this year. We'll be keeping our list of books-to-read here on this post. (So far we only have three.)

  1. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
  2. Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers
  3. Siren by Tricia Rayburn (thanks, Alyssa, for the suggestion!)
  4. Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt
  5. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
  6. Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
  7. Scones and Sensibility by Lindsay Eland
  8. The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard
  9. Dirty Little Secrets by Cynthia Jaynes Omololu
  10. ?
  11. ?
  12. ?

To officially sign up, you'll need to go to The Story Siren, a fantabulous book review blog. There are even several shiny free buttons to choose from for sidebar display!

We would love to have your help in beefing up our list. Tell us about any books from debut authors you plan on reading this year.

UPDATE: Just ordered my first three books on Amazon. Yay! 1-25-10

Monday, January 18, 2010


We have been searching for the perfect title for our YA paranormal. We both knew we'd recognize the one if we found it. After two weeks of tossing titles back and forth with no luck, serendipity stepped in.

Stef commented on my last post, and I went to her blog and read OF TIME.

Stef's post was an exercise in generating imagery. It sparked my journey that started on her blog at 10pm and ended at 2am with an article on pranayama (which of course I knew nothing about, but it happened to be perfect for our book. (And BTW Bethany probably knew what it meant because she is big into yoga.))

The moment I created our two-word title, I experienced an epiphany. I knew it was the one.

But would Bethany feel the same?

She was busy with a houseful of guests, so waited until a decent hour the next morning to call her. I was a bit incoherent from my lack of sleep, and in a hurry to get all the words out. So my spiel started with

"I think we've been barking up the wrong tree..."

and ended with

"...and you can say no if you don't like it, but the title I came up with is..."

And I uttered those two magical words.

Bethany was silent for (what felt like) a long moment. And then,

"Oh my gosh. That's the one! I have chills!"

So now we have our title. (Yay!) And if you really, really want to know what it is, you'll have to head on over to my website.

I want to hear about your moments of serendipity. What has guided you down the right path? And epiphany - what helps you know something is the one?

Friday, January 15, 2010

You know you're a writer when...

  • ...bad things happen and you think, "It's okay because I can use this in a book!"
  • eavesdrop on your teen's conversations hoping for fodder for the next great YA.
  • invite 20 writers (plus kidlets) to your house for a party AND THEN you spend the whole week beforehand working on your WIP instead of cleaning the house. (Can't wait to meet all those who are coming!!!)
What makes you know you're a writer?


Wednesday, January 13, 2010


In light of the tragedy that has befallen Haiti, I would like to say how grateful I am for my healthy children, food to put on the table, a husband who works hard for everything we have, and the roof over my head. Human tragedy puts everything into perspective. All the bad/hard stuff in my life just took on a trivial glow.

So, as you go about your day, remember how lucky you are to be you. Remember that a query rejection, or writers block, or the diet that seems so stinking hard to follow might get you down. But you'll be back up before the sun sets.

My heart is with the people of Haiti today. (And so is Suzette's.)


Monday, January 11, 2010

Awards Ceremony

Before I announce the winners, I have to give a huge, heart-felt thanks to everyone who made our first Shooting Stars contest an amazing success. WOW! Suzette and I are feeling the love. Checking my email for blog comments was like having Christmas for a week. The contest was so amazing, in fact, Suzette and I are going to hold similar contests on a monthly basis. So if you want advanced warning, put your email address in the widget found on the right of this post!

We have a little surprise for the winners of the query critique portion of our contest. THE Query Ninja, my dear friend Elana Johnson, author of From the Query to the Call, volunteered to do the query critique. How amazing is that? I guarantee you, if she takes a stab at your query, you will be well on your way to lots of partial and full manuscript requests.

Anyhow, back to the reason you are reading through my ramblings.

And the winners are….

Elizabeth Mueller

first five pages

Diana Paz

first five pages

Robyn Campbell

first five pages

Sharla Scroggs

first five pages

Shannon O’Donnell

query critique

Michelle Hickman

query critique

Roni Griffin

The Dark Divine

In case you’re wondering, this is how we selected the winners.

Again, thanks for being the most awesome bloggy friends in the ciber-verse.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

MORE Wicked-Awesome Prizes!

Want your first five critted by two agented authors? Seems like many do, because this has been our most-requested prize. We've had such a good response to our contest (thanks to you!) that we've decided to add two more first five page critiques to the bounty.

(First time visitor? Click here to enter.)

Want to up your chances of winning? Simply tweet this post and let us know in the comments below. (Isn't the cover of Bree Despain's Dark Divine lovely?)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Suzette and Bethany's Wicked-Awesome-Prizes Contest

Bethany and I have decided to hold a contest, our very first, all in the name of ringing in the New Year. We want to give you a boost toward achieving your dreams!

The Prizes:

2 Query Critiques*
2 First Five Page Critiques*
1 Inscribed/Autographed The Dark Divine*
5 Winners

To enter this contest there are two things you must do.
  1. Be a follower of this blog (in the sidebar on the right)
  2. Post about this contest on your own blog (not just a mention, an actual post.)
To earn more entries you can do the following:
  • Tweet about the contest with a link to this blog
  • Link to the contest on Facebook or MySpace (i.e. paste it in your status)
  • Mention this contest in a forum (such as Absolute Write or the QueryTracker Forum.)
Here is the address to copy-and-paste to link back to this post:

Then let us know what you've done in the comments of this post so we can get you entered. And be sure to tell us which prize you want to win! (You have one week to enter. Winners announced Monday, January 11, 2010)

We are so excited to be doing this! Please let us know if you have any questions. And check out my uber-fun (and informational!) Top Ten post over on the QueryTracker blog.

Good luck!


*All critiques are private and will not be published on this or any blog.

*The Dark Divine is written by Bree Despain and will be inscribed with the winner's name and autographed by Bree on February 13th, and shipped shortly thereafter.

Friday, January 1, 2010


A new day, a new year, a new decade. Oh, my amazing blogger friends, what do you want out of this decade? Who do you want to meet? Where do you want to go? What do you want to do?

So many questions, so little time. And time is precious. I won't take much--will answer only one of the above questions (five times).

Who I want to meet this decade
(in my wildest dreams, obviously!)
by Bethany Wiggins.

1. Intellectual: Alexei Filippenko, Professor of Astronomy, Berkley. Al, I want to know the secrets of the Solar System, Galaxy, Universe, etc. Is there other life out there?

2. Actor: Christian Bale. Chris, I loved you way back when (anyone remember "Newsies"?). Mind giving me a recap of the past twenty years of your life?

3. Author: Robin McKinley. This woman introduced me to new worlds and inspired my imagination as a young adult. And it has never stopped growing. Love you, Robin!

4. Musician: Moby. Dude, you don't eat meat so if you want to hang out for a chat, I'll do vegan for a day. But where do you get the inspiration to write music that inspires entire novels?

5. Other: Marlene Stringer. Oh, how I'd love to sit down with her for an hour and pick her brain--learn everything I can about the publishing industry and what's hot now! (I suppose I could just email and ask, but in person would rock!)

So... Who do you want to meet? What amazing feats are you going to accomplish? What are you NOT going to do this decade? (I'm not going to query for the first time in five years, but since I already answered the above question, I won't tell you that!)

Please, feel free to share.