Friday, April 30, 2010

What Would You Say to Your High School Self?

Author Sarah Mlynowski came up with a brilliant marketing plan for her new YA novel, Gimme A Call. She asked YA novelists what they would say to their high school selves if they could. Here are some of my favorites:

Dear HS self: There are two reasons you have no girlfriend: 1. no confidence. 2. poor hygiene. #startwithnumbertwo - John Green
Dear HS self: You are NOT FAT. You will be, but you're not now, so enjoy it. - Sara Zarr
Dear HS self: Facebook will be invented. Are you sure you want your friend to take that picture? - Julia Devillers

I first read about this on Dystel and Goderich Literary Management's blog - thanks, Stacey Kendall Glick!

As for what I would say to myself:

Dear HS self: You know that boy you love who broke your heart? He's gonna propose to you one day!

Now, dear readers, what would you say to your HS self?


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Conference Highlight

I live in a town where Wal-Mart and Payless Shoes are the only places to shoe shop. So, while I was at the afore mentioned writers' conference, I snuck away during the hour break before dinner to get some desperately needed running shoes (mine are four years old!).

I walked into Famous Footwear and didn't make it to the back of the store where all the boring tennis shoes are kept. Nope. Something caught my eye and I experienced euphoria (see picture at left).

Books are just like those shoes. If you can catch your reader on the first page with something so totally awesome that they can't put the book down, you've got a winner.

I walked out of the store with those shoes on. They were one of the highlights of the entire conference. And who needs running shoes? Besides, after wearing these shoes all day, I can hardly walk--let alone run!

What book can you recall off the top of your head that had you hooked by page two?

Monday, April 26, 2010

If I Had a Million Dollars...

What would you do if your books were as successful as Stephen King's, Stephenie Meyers's, or J.K. Rowling's? Would you buy an island? A private jet? A half dozen castles?

I like to think if I ever made it big I would pay it forward within the writing community, perhaps offering college scholarships to aspiring writers. (Or conference scholarships! That'd be a fun way to help bunches of peeps.)

The truth is, most writers will never be THAT big. But we do deserve to be rewarded. Seven years ago when Bethany and I made a pact to each write a novel, we also agreed that we deserved to be rewarded for our work. We decided to buy one piece of jewelry for ourselves for every completed book. We've written nearly a dozen manuscripts between us, so we've not stuck to this, but we have bought a few lovely (and surprisingly affordable!) pieces from jewelry creator extraordinaire B.J. Anderson. (She also writes Middle Grade fiction.)

Bethany and I both have a necklace similar to the one modeled above, and I have a bracelet like the one below.

Her jewelry can be found at Bonny Lass on Etsy if you are looking to reward yourself. *wink*

Do you reward yourself when you complete a project? What would you do if you had a million dollars?


P. S. I don't often post vids, but this kid Jordan has a really funny take on the Barenaked Ladies song (he makes up random gifts when he forgets the lyrics.)

Have a great week!

Friday, April 23, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It's conference season again! I've been to many conferences and have learned so very much, I can see myself attending them for a lifetime. Bethany is a conference virgin...until today! We are attending LDStoryMakers Conference where our friend Elana Johnson will be presenting, along with Krista Marino of Delacorte Press, Nephele Tempest of The Knight Agency, Laura Rennert of Andrea Brown Agency, and many others. (So exciting!)

Here's a pic of the gals I'll be hanging with today -from L to R, me, Bethany, Angie, and Elana. =)
Angie Lofthouse posted something fantastic on her blog and has given me permission to share it with you:
Angie's Writing Conference Survival Guide

I've been to several writing conferences lately, so I feel qualified to post this handy, dandy survival guide. Please note, this is my personal survival guide. Your survival may require something different.

Before the Conference:

1. Arrange for childcare. Practice believing that even though there are about ten major family events going on this weekend, the family will not fall apart in your absence. Your hubby's an amazing, capable guy. Your kids are independent. You gave up co-dependency years ago. Really. Your recovering, remember? It'll be fine.
2. Decide what to wear. Shopping may be required at this point.

3. Get a good night's sleep, especially since you'll have to get up at an hour you normally consider indecent.

4. When you get up at that indecent hour, don't forget to pray. 'Nuff said.

At the Conference:

What to bring:

A backpack (it's easy to carry around)
A notebook for taking notes
The notebook with your novel in it (who knows, you may get to write)
Copies of the chapter for the Bootcamp critique group
Lots of pens

What to do:

1. Remember why you are there. You are there to have fun, to meet new people, to reconnect with writing friends, to get excited about writing.

2. Remember what you are not there to do. You are not there to compare yourself to others. You are not there to feel like a dork. You are not there to have people pay attention to you.

3. Listen to your body. Have a snack when you need it. Take a break when you need it. Try to stay relaxed. Use relaxation techniques if necessary. This will hopefully minimize the sheer exhaustion at the end of the day.

4. Forget about yourself and look for ways to make other people happy. It's not about you anyway.

5. Be happy. Remember you are awesome, 'cuz you are.

Thanks, Angie!

What conferences have you been to that you loved? Do you think they are worth the investment of time and money?


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I asked my four-year-old kidlet this today. She replied:

I want to be a scientist...
...what is a scientist?

After some discussion, she decided she wants to be an orinthologist and a writer (like you, Mommy!)

I always knew I wanted to be a writer, from that first Kindergarten poem (too distasteful to repeat!) But it took me awhile to get here. There were many things I channeled my creative energy into (stone masonry, crochet, on and on) until the day I finally got the guts to sit down and put fingers to keyboard. Even then, my first novel was pretty much a mess.

But today I am happy to have reached this place, and grateful for the years I've invested in reaching my dream.

What about you, dear readers - has writing always been your ultimate destination?

I'd like to shout out a huge thank you to Elizabeth Mueller. Was I ever surprised to find this beautiful sketch of me on her blog as part of a fun guess-who game. I get to see Elizabeth at a conference on Friday and she's going to give me this sketch. It'll hang where I write for inspiration.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Trying to Paint a Person Without Seeing His Face

I have Blogger's block today. Yeah. How pathetic is that? My sis emailed me and asked if I could do today's post. So I put a movie on for the kids and gave them each a substantial pile of chocolate chips. And now I'm sitting upstairs staring at the computer and waiting for inspiration to hit. And it hasn't. So now what? Writer's Block post. Yep. Might as well, right? I mean, I'm experiencing it at this very moment!

Do you guys ever get this--writer's block--when you're writing fiction? I do sometimes, but mainly when I don't have a clue where my plot is going... sort of hard to write something when you don't know what it is, right? Like trying to paint a person without ever seeing his face. Yep. Nearly impossible.

So what's the solution? Fill me with inspiration guys! Because you are all brimming with it. I see it every day in your blog posts.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Agent-Judged Contest Announced!

Exciting news! Chris Richman of Upstart Crow Literary will be judging a contest on the QueryTracker blog. Here is the blurb I wrote for today's Publishing Pulse:

The QueryTracker Blog is hosting another Agent-Judged Contest! Chris Richman of Upstart Crow Literary wants to read your one-sentence pitch. The contest will open April 27, 2010. Mr. Richman is looking for Middle Grade and Young Adult. He WILL NOT BE CAPPING ENTRIES.

I'm excited to be working with Mr. Richman on this contest! You will need to be a follower of the QueryTracker Blog to enter, so go give it a follow.

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

All About You

So, we just posted all about waiting. One of the things that helps with the waiting part of writing is you. Seriously, I feel like the luckiest lady alive to have people like you making every day a little brighter. So in lieu of you, it is award time!

OfficeGirl over at Tired But Writing (if you haven't read her blog, go check it out. She is HILARIOUS!) gave me the Blogger BFF award.

I'd like to give this award to:

...because you guys are always there when I need you. Thanks for being awesome!

Also, check out this contest for a chance to win chocolate and a book (can there be a more winning combo? No, I think not).

Monday, April 12, 2010

Writing and Waiting, Waiting and Writing

Have you ever noticed that




differ by only one letter?

Perhaps it's because they are so closely intertwined - no matter what stage you are at in your writing journey you are waiting.

Writing? You're waiting to hear back from betas.
Querying? Waiting to hear back from an agent.
Agented? Waiting on submissions.
Sold your book? Waiting on publication.
Published? Waiting on reviews.

Here are a couple of fun things to do while waiting, things that will give you a fun inside peek at the publishing industry:

Read The School Story by Andrew Clements: Don't mess with Zee Zee Reisman from the Sherry Clutch Literary Agency. Especially when she's promoting the hot new novelist Cassandra Day. New York's publishing scene is impressed by the book she's pushing... but stunned when they find out Zee Zee and Cassandra are both 12-year-old girls. Zee Zee is really Zoe, best friend to Natalie Nelson, a.k.a. Cassandra Day. When Natalie writes a story, a really good story, Zoe is determined to let the whole world know. The catch? The editor Natalie wants happens to be her own mother, an editor at Shipley Junior Books. (Description from Amazon.)

Watch the movie Julie and Julia (or read the book!): Julie and Julia is not only about the publishing of Julia Child's famous cookbook, but about how blogging landed an author a major book/movie deal.

What do you do while waiting?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Creepy-Cool Pendant Contest!

Congratulations to our sweet friend Stephanie Boman who recently become agented! She signed with Alyssa Reubin of Paradigm Talent Agency.

Stephanie has a brand new blog and she's ready to get the party started! She's holding a CONTEST for a creepy-cool pendant. And all you have to do is leave a comment on her blog about something that creeps you out.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Walk Down Memory Lane

When I was twelve, I wanted to be my sixteen-year-old sister (the taller girl on the right with the totally hot date). I crept into her bedroom in the morning and snuck clothes out of her closet. I stole her books... and returned them after I'd read them. I fell in love with her boyfriends (and there were lots). I even listened to the same radio station because if she listened to that weird alternative stuff, like Depeche Mode and Gene loves Jezebel, then it was the ultimate cool.

Jump ahead thirteen years. My sister decided to be a writer of novels and asked if I wanted to be one too. I was doubtful of my own abilities (failed 9th grade english, didn't go to college) but if she was going to do it, obviously it was the ultimate ULTIMATE cool. That night I sat down and wrote my first page.

Dude. Thanks for the lifelong inspiration, Sue! Hope you have a happy belated Birthday.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Status Updates, Writerly Style

What would you inject into a person to calm them WAY down? Like if he was having a psychotic frenzy and in danger of hurting himself or others?

Yep... that's my status update, currently garnering mucho attention on Facebook. I had to chuckle when my friend and fellow writer Katie Anderson replied:

This cracks me up. Surely this is for a story? I hope so.

Yes, for my WIP!!! A few other status updates Suzette and I have posted go something like this:

What's the weirdest thing you ever put through the washing machine?

Do teenagers still say "dude"?

What is the location of your first kiss?

Why is it so freaking hard to write a synopsis when the manuscript came out of me with the inexorable force of a hurricane?

What's the weirdest status update you've ever put? And if we aren't already Facebook friends, click on the link in the toolbar. I'd love to be friends.

Also, the Querytracker blog has a very necessary article for those of you who are seeking literary representation. Check it out if you have a few minutes.


Monday, April 5, 2010


Congratulations to our sweet friend Amanda Bonilla! After two years of hard work and a seriously kick-butt manuscript, she has signed with Natanya Wheeler of the Nancy Yost Literary Agency.

As an aside, want to learn how to Build the Framework for Your Authorial Success? Check out my post today on the QueryTracker blog.


My wishes are belated because of our week of Author Success Stories, but I wanted to tell Bethany how much I enjoy blogging with her and thank her for always being there for me. It's been one heck of a fun journey - I love ya, sis!

This photo is fun - it's Bethany in her teen years, but everyone thinks it's me. The CREEPIEST thing (look closely) are the hands coming around to grab Bethany. With experiences like these in her past, no wonder she writes stories like The Hunted!

What scary experiences have you had that have shaped you as an author?


Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Day in the Life of Two Agents

Agents Suzie Townsend and Jo Volpe, both of whom I absolutely adore, have put together this uproarious trailer you won't want to miss. Enjoy!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Authorly Journeys - Kimberley Griffiths Little

Today we are graced with author Kimberley Griffiths Little. All I can say after reading her interview is... Holy freaking cow! She's fought for the opportunity to be a writer, guys! And her book is amazing (yep. She sent me the ARC. *feeling important*).

Tell us about your amazing book.

THE HEALING SPELL (Scholastic, July 1, 2010). Deep in the bayou country, twelve-year-old Livie’s mamma arrives home from the hospital in a coma. Daddy is determined she will only get better surrounded by the people who love her best, but Livie is terrified of her mother’s lifeless condition and wracked by a guilty secret. Livie travels into the forbidden recesses of the swamp to buy a healing spell from the mysterious traiteur in hopes that she can bring her mother back to life. Secrets, gators, and sisters abound!

Excited about my very first blog review this week!

Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication ?

The Healing Spell is a love story – one of those stories I loved from the moment I got the idea and Livie began to appear in my dreams. She took six years to bring completely to life (maybe 25 revisions after a fast 3 week draft!), even as the project received lots of interest from editors right from the start. I rewrote for several editors, but it just wasn’t “there” for them – I think it just took time to find the right editor. The editor at Scholastic who bought it and ran around begging the publisher that “she HAD to have it!” told me in her first letter that The Healing Spell was a *rare gift*. I have never in my life received such a compliment!

I’d had an agent for many years, but we parted ways as she was getting out of the children’s/YA arena. That was nail biting! She’d been my security blanket – and now I was out in the cold. It took me two years of querying, querying, querying (39 agents in all!) to sign with Tracey Adams who had been my dream agent for a long time. I even followed her across the country just to meet her and pitch my stories!

Six weeks later, Tracey sold a three-book deal for me with Scholastic Press and finally found my editor - “The One”! After YEARS AND YEARS (Um, DECADES) of writing my heart and brains and derriere out, not to mention over two years of agent querying, the speed was stunning.

I’m a true believer in the right timing.

Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?

There are always those *dark* and *evil* moments or bad rejection days you feel like giving up. While you’re trying to learn your craft or on submission and the rejections just keep coming and coming and coming, it often feels like you’re banging your head against a brick wall—or the nearest computer monitor. It’s easy to feel alone, and get that absolutely-positive-no-question-about-it “I must suck and I ought to just go read a good book and quit torturing myself!”

Why didn’t I give up? I call it The Voices after Midnight Phenomenon. That sounds schizophrenic, but every writer will tell you that their character’s “voices” and stories tug at their mind or heartstrings. I am literally compelled to write it down and watch it unfold, just like I’m watching a movie. But it’s more than just *watching* a movie—it’s like I’m LIVING a movie.

Find Kimberly Online:

My brand spanking new website with a Southern Swamp Flair!

My blogs: or

Pre-Order Amazon:


And to read all of today's Authorly Journey interviews, click below:

Elana Johnson

Lisa and Laura Roecker

Beth Revis

Leah Clifford

Victoria Schwab

Kirsten Hubbard

Carrie Harris

Kim Harrington

Amy Holder

Kathy McCullough

Tiffany Schmidt

Susan Adrian

Dawn Metcalf

Gretchen McNeil

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Authorly Journeys - Medeia Sharif

Another amazing writer with an outstanding journey, guys. Today is all about Medeia Sharif, represented by Marlene Stringer. Read this carefully! I'd have to say Medeia is the most optimistic writer I know!

Tell us about your book.

THE BESTEST RAMADAN EVER will be published by Flux in the Summer of 2011.

Fifteen-year-old Almira Abdul is fasting for Ramadan for the first time ever, but the month does not move smoothly at all. She has her first major crush, treads on her best friend’s toes, butts heads with a new archenemy, and has a strict old-world grandfather who drives her crazy.

Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication?

I finished my first book in 1995 at the tender age of eighteen. In the 90’s and early millennium I wrote several experimental books and collected a gargantuan pile of rejection letters. I was switching between genres and trying to find my voice and style.

In 2005 I wrote a coming-of-age story entitled THE ART OF KURDISH MARRIAGE. In 2006 and 2007 this novel was represented by two different agents (respectively, not simultaneously). Both relationships turned rocky and ended quickly. My heart was broken since I believed in the book at the time, and it was hard to come to terms with being unagented after the initial excitement of gaining representation. But I kept writing.

In the fall of 2007 I began THE BESTEST RAMADAN EVER. In the spring of 2008 I received a call from an agent who read the full manuscript and gave me advice which I took to heart. After I revised my manuscript, I sent it to her and a few other agents. In the summer of 2008 I got another call, this time from Marlene Stringer of The Stringer Literary Agency. She liked me, she really really liked me. She became my agent and started subbing immediately.

In the winter of 2008 and spring of 2009 I received word that the acquisitions editor at Flux, Brian Farrey, was interested. He sent me revision notes, and I spent a few months going through another round of revisions to make my manuscript stronger. In the summer of 2009 my agent landed a book deal with him.

As a side note, I highly recommend I know there are other websites, but this is the one I used the most to find agents’ electronic and snail mail addresses during the querying process.

Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?

I never felt like giving up. I was always writing. I had a well of optimism and persistence that guided me in the right direction.

I learned so many things about perseverance and criticism. THE BESTEST RAMADAN EVER and my current work-in-progress are undergoing so many filters. There’s my critique group, agent, editor, copyeditor, and a few other filters I’m still meeting along the way. Every time a manuscript is critiqued and revised through the lens of another reader, it comes out better. Instead of giving up, I’d rather just look at room for improvement. Also, I’m blessed that others are willing to give me feedback.

To learn more about Medeia, check out the links below.

Thank you, Medeia. You are an inspiration.

And to read all of today's Authorly Journey interviews, click below: