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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year


Here's hoping all my followers, new and old, and my friends who stop by, have a very healthy and happy 2010. Tonight is not only a full moon, but it's a blue moon. That makes 2010 a very special year. It's not often we have a full moon on new year's eve, let alone a full blue moon! Anything is possible in 2010 folks, you just have to believe and have the fortitude to see it through.

Since the titles of my young adult series are all about different moon phases, I'm taking that to mean this is going to be the year my series gets picked up. Okay, that and the fact that I have an excellent agent hard at work on it! Whether tonight's special moon has anything to do with it or not, I feel like 2010 is going to be an outstanding year. I hope it is for all of you as well! Cheers!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Writer's Resolutions~Why You Should Have Them

Resolutions, just like goals, are something every writer should have. Until we're published we pretty much work for ourselves, which means we have to be our own boss and our own motivator. Without something like a resolution to hold us accountable, our fingers can go idle, and we know what happens then! 2009 is drawing to a close and we're about to enter not only a new year, but a new decade. Because of that I think it warrants some pretty big resolutions.

I would love to say my biggest resolution is to get my book published this year, but that has been handed over to my agent and is now in his hands. However, there is something I can work on to help the success of that book. My platform! You knew that was coming didn't you? Meeting people and getting your name out there will pave the way to success for your book. Not to mention it's fun. Writing doesn't have to be lonely.

So here's the plan: I will post my resolutions here and at the end of 2010 I'll check back and  hold myself accountable. I invite you to do the same. Leave me your resolutions in the comments and we can help hold each other to them!
  1. Continue to build my author platform. I'll do so by continuing to meet great writers and people who love books, like those I've met on Twitter! I'll also attend whatever conferences & retreats I can.
  2. Write three books this year. This could be thrown for a loop if/when my novel gets picked up and I have to work on edits, but until then I'll focus on these three new books.
  3. Rewrite the first fantasy trilogy I ever wrote and submit it to my agent. This could be thrown off course by the event mentioned in #2 as well. In which case, I won't complain!
  4. Keep hitting the treadmill every week. I know it's cliche but as a writer I spend a lot of time on my bum. Unfortunately my 'day' job is the same. Gotta stay healthy!
  5. Continue to improve my writing. Really, this should be #1, it's that important. But, it's also something I plan to do while doing the other resolutions, so that's why it fell at #5.  
Five is all I can handle. How about you?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Twitter Tuesday ~Joanna Penn

Joanna Penn wears many shoes (I so prefer shoes to hats, don't you?!) and of course, author is among them. Anywhere there are writers I seem to come across Joanna-or TheCreativePenn as she is known in most places. She always has the best tweets and advice for writers. But you don't have to take my word for it, just check out how often she is quoted among the best tweets for writers for the week on Writer's Digest.

More than just a fun person to follow on Twitter though, Joanna has an excellent website that holds many wonders for the aspiring writer. Need help with your book or advice on the painful process of submitting and publishing? She does it all. Besides all that, she's one of the sweetest people you could hope to meet. Be sure to check her out!

Here she is on Twitter: https://twitter.com/thecreativepenn
Here's her blog: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/

Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday's Muse~Avatar


A movie that makes me want to stand up and cheer is very rare. In fact, one hasn't come along for me since Braveheart. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of good movies out there, but I'm talking about that special catagory. You know the one, when a movie goes beyond just good and actual moves you. Avatar is that kind of movie.

It may not be for you. If you think humanity is infallable and the Earth will last forever no matter what we do to it, then you probably won't like this movie. But don't worry, you don't have to be a tree hugger to love it. More than just the story line, the cg was beyond amazing, we're talking a whole new level of technology. The world will pull you right in and the action will leave you breathless.

This movie made me fall in love with the sci-fi/fantasy genre all over again. I was beginning to worry about my waning interest in the genre that I've loved since I was a child. Now it's fully restored and I'm chomping at the bit as I outline my first YA fantasy novel!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Book Giveaway


For the new year I'll be giving away my favorite YA book of 2009, Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver to one of my lucky blog followers! This is the most original werewolf story I've ever read. Maggie's take on the legend is completely original and her writing style is very refreshing and magnetic. You will be sucked into this book!

Here's how it will work: I must reach thirty blog followers before the drawing will commence. The winner has to be a follower of my blog. If you would like to be entered into the contest leave me a comment on this post. If you also follow me on Twitter, your name will be entered twice! As long as I reach thirty blog followers the drawing will occur on January 2nd. Otherwise, I'll have to hold out until we reach thirty. Can't wait, you're going to love this book!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays


To all my followers, friends, family, and those who just stop by, I hope you have a very safe and happy holiday. May you be surounded by family and/or friends and may there be many books under your tree! I'll be back Monday with a special giveaway announcement.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Twitter Tuesday~Debut Author Sarah Winters


I know. It's Sunday. Don't worry, for the faithful tied to a routine, I will repost this on Tuesday! But Sarah's book is hitting stores and the internet and I had to get the news about it out before the holiday! For you last minute shoppers looking for a great book for someone, look no further.

Sarah Winters and I came across each other on a Twitter chat for writers. We started following each other and have been chatting away ever since. Sarah is nice as can be. She generously retweets and directs people to my posts, and is a great writer on top of it all! Her novel, The Strongest Fire, has just hit the stores and internet. If you love vampires but are tired of all the old cliques, you're in for a treat. Sarah's book promises to be very unique. The first chapter has already sucked me in and left me hungry for more. I hope its in my stocking!

You can find Sarah on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/SarahBWinters
You can check out her blog here: http://sarahwinters.wordpress.com/
And you can buy her book at Barnes & Noble here: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/books/e/9781440183232/?itm=1&usri=The+Strongest+Fire

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday's Muse~Final One For This Book


A vast waterfall that seems to go on forever, what could be more dramatic than that? And the perfect opener to my news: Hunter's Moon is finished! Ah, the end. The most bittersweet words an author can write. It's especially true for me in this case because the end of this book wraps up the entire trilogy for me. I've grown so attached to these characters that it's not going to be easy to leave them. But I am very happy with how the books turned out. No doubt I'll see plenty more of those characters in editing. I'm ready, bring it on!


I think I'll keep this amazing picture on my computer for a while. Not only is it beautiful and filled with possibilities, it makes me think of the culmination of my trilogy. Ah, the end.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Author Sells E-Book Rights To Amazon

If you haven't heard this yet folks, it's huge, for both authors and publishers. New York Times bestselling author Stephen Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Principle Centered Leadership) sold the rights to two of his books straight to an Amazon E-Book publisher. So what does that mean? It means he bypassed the traditional publisher and in doing so dealt straight with Amazon.

Here's the really big part. Mr. Covey will receive more than half of the net profit off these books. More than half. The standard digital royalty is 25%. Don't get all excited and try to sell your book to Amazon yet. The executive was quoted as saying 'superstars are entitled to more'. Yeah, that didn't really endear him to me.

So the big news here isn't so much that Mr. Covey got 50% (because if you're not a 'superstar' it doesn't sound like you'll get that deal), but rather that he bypassed the mainstream publishers. This puts a lot of power in Amazon's hands. The same Amazon who is taking money out of the pocket of every day authors by slashing their book prices painfully low (upon RELEASE!). So low in fact that the author makes pennies and the publisher barely makes back what it cost to make the book. 

Is selling your E-Book rights straight to Amazon a good thing? Stephen Covey thinks so. What do you think? http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/15/technology/companies/15amazon.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Borders Books Is Closing

It's true. A friend of mine on Twitter said the one down the street from her has closure signs up. News all over the internet says Borders will be closing 200 mall stores and 45 stores in Britain. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. It is a very sad day for book lovers of all kinds. Borders has been around for as long as I can remember. Things will definitely not be the same without them.

I don't believe the literary market is collapsing though. Like all things, it is evolving to keep up with the times. Unfortunately, this might mean less actual stores. I certainly don't think it's the end of the bookstore altogether though. Despite Borders being such a prominent part of where I grew up, I think I only went to it once or twice. I love bookstores, don't get me wrong, but I always favored Barnes & Noble and Powell's. I'm not sure why really, just did. The financial crunch has hit everyone, booksellers included. Some will fall but others will rise. It wouldn't hurt to give books for the holidays though!

My shopping is done and here's a glimpse of some of the titles I've sent off to lucky friends & family (in case you need ideas): It Sucks To Be Me ~ Kimberly Pauley, Shadowed Summer ~ Saundra Mitchell, Phantom Island: Wind ~ Krissi Dallas, Beautiful Creatures ~ Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, Primary Justice ~ William Bernhardt, The Divine Talisman ~ Eldon Thompson (all from Barnes & Noble), The Strongest Fire ~ Sarah Winters (from Amazon).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Twitter Tuesday ~ William Bernhardt

Aside from being a New York Times Bestselling author of mind blowing thrillers that push the envelope of squeamishness and suspense, there are other reasons you should follow William Bernhardt. As  if you needed more of a reason than that, I know, but there is more!

I've had the very distinct honor of being a student of Mr. Bernhardt's, not once but twice. You've probably read about my experiences in his class if you've caught my posts on the Hawaii Writer's Retreat. If not be sure to take a look at them, I've shared much of what I gleaned from his lessons. Mr. Bernhardt is a fantastic teacher, the kind you always wished you had. You know the ones, they push you and encourage you but aren't afraid to tell you you're writing is off when it's off. He's the kind of teacher that will make you a better writer, guaranteed. Mr. Bernhardt not only teaches at the Hawaii Writer's Retreat, but does more affordable writing seminars closer to his own stopping ground. You can check out both programs here:
https://www.hawaiiwriters.org/retreat.php
http://williambernhardt.com/writing_programs.php

Aside from being a stand out teacher, Mr. Bernhardt is one of those rare guys who manages a very successful writing career with a happy and healthy family. There is a lesson to be learned there as well, believe me. Find him on Twitter here:
https://twitter.com/wbernhardt

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday's Muse ~ Double Whammy


There's a reason art and arcitecture sound so much alike. This amazing picture inspired dimensions and elements I hadn't planned for my latest chapter. Elements that, once inserted, felt like they should have been there all along. This is part of why I like to travel so much, it opens up possibilities you might never have thought of if you hadn't experienced something, or seen a certain place or person.


It was a busy week for me. I pumped out two chapters and started on the next. The inspiration just couldn't be held back. Unfortunately I'm nearing completion of Hunter's Moon and whenever I'm close to the end of a book, I just can't stop writing. I've fallen in love with this series and it's characters and it won't be easy to finish it and move on. It started out as a simple little idea for a book that began growing when I was younger than its main character. I'm glad I waited to write the series because now its developed into something more amazing and indepth than I imagined it would be.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Myra McEntire Lands A Book Deal


Huge congratulations are in order to one of the sweetest ladies I know. Myra McEntire just got a two book deal with Egmont USA! Her debut novel, Hourglass, is set to come out in summer of 2011. Read about her journey and share the excitement here: http://writingfinally.blogspot.com/2009/12/i-haz-newz.html

For you aspiring writers every bit of good news for a debut novelist like this just goes to show you, it can happen, it is happening, and yes, it could happen to you!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Writing: The Wait

Second only to writing, waiting is what we writers do best. But at times we get discouraged, and yes, even scared. Waiting and hoping for someone to love what you do is a lot like torture. Do you watch any of the shows like American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance? I'm addicted to the last one. Phenomenal talent there. But back on track. The reason I love watching those shows is because I get to see someone living their dream. Every time someone gets voted off SYTYCD I tear up. Can't help it. It touches me so deeply because I have a dream just as powerful as theirs and I'm waiting for that 'vote' so to speak, as are many writers.

This last week a tweep of mine (twitter people for you non-Twitterers) got really discouraged by the wait. She's at the same stage I am, the editor submission stage. It's almost scarier than the agent submission stage. Almost. At least once you land an agent you feel a bit vindicated because someone liked your writing well enough to believe in you. But the editor submitting is still hard. That's when it all comes down to whether or not people think they can sell your book. It's a very stressful time but that's when we need to put our faith in our agents. They believed in us and now it's our turn to believe in them.

A friend of a friend's recently got discouraged at the agent submission stage. I've been there, believe me. My first round of agent hunting was long and arduous. It makes you start to question yourself. How many no's do you take before you give up? You don't. Keep improving your writing and your manuscript, keep trying. Believe in yourself and want it bad enough, and you will get there. When you have your dark times, and you will, seek out great people like I've found on Twitter. They'll help get you through the wait and make the whole process that much more rewarding. Enjoy the journey, not just the destination.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Holiday Wish List

Aside from world peace, an end to hatred, hunger and disease, there is a more reachable item on my wish list this year. I would love for the publishing industry to get a huge boost this holiday season due to everyone buying books. A bit of a self serving wish? Yes. It is on my wish list after all. A boost to the book market means a boost to writers, both aspiring and already published. The more books people buy, the more books publishers buy, and the better the economy does. My family and friends know to expect books from me. Thankfully, like me, most of them love books. I learned it somewhere after all!

If you need ideas take a look at the books on my Shelfari shelf, to the right side of my blog. I highly recommend every one of them. Even if the people on your list don't read much, chances are they have a hobby or interest that they would enjoy reading about. It's an easy gift idea when you're shopping for folks that you have to ship gifts to. Most booksellers will ship straight to your gift recipient. My favorite, Barnes and Noble, will ship to your recipient, gift wrap for a few dollars more, any order over $25 ships for free, and they arrive within three days! You've got to love that, especially if you're a last minute shopper!

Check them out here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/bookstore.asp Whichever bookseller you prefer, just be sure books are on your list of things to buy this year!



Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Twitter Tuesday~Myra McEntire

Every now and then you meet someone really special on an online community that makes you think, 'yeah, that's why I'm on here!' Someone who makes you laugh and cry and feel llike the whole writing experience doesn't have to be lonely at all. Myra McEntire is one of those kind of people. I think we first came across each other in the YA lit chat on Twitter (or #yalitchat for those of you who tweet!).

Myra writes young adult urban fantasy and is represented by agent Holly Root of Waxman Literary Agency. Now that's a dream team! In her free time (LOL!) she reviews books for Young Adult Books Central Blog (YABC). She reviews some outstanding books and has never steered me wrong!

Keep an eye on the bestseller lists for Myra. Its coming girl. . .

You can find Myra on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/MyraMcEntire
Here's her blog: http://writingfinally.blogspot.com/
And here she is on YABC: http://yabookscentral.blogspot.com/

Monday, December 7, 2009

Monday's Muse


My muse practically jumped up and down when I saw this picture. You can almost taste the humidity and smell the plant life. Is this picture amazing or what? It reminds me of Jamaica a bit, though I don't think it was taken there.

Something about the jungle always gets my muse working over time. Maybe its all the Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe I read as a child. Whatever the reason, the jungle calls to me on a visceral level and has to be the place where I'm most inspired.

For music I've been listening to a lot of Shelly Fairchild (great bluesy singer) and even some Jewel. When I get the rare opportunity to sit in front of the TV Eastwick and FlashForward have been keeping me inspired. How about you, any great inspiration to share?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Reasons For Writers To Twitter

Whether you want to meet agents, editors, other writers, or even connect with your target audience, Twitter can do it all. I'm amazed at how many writers I know who still don't Twitter. I don't know of any other site out there where agents and editors will follow an unpublished writer. If you're looking for the new place to be discovered, I've found it. Just look at my followers. My book isn't published yet and I already have agents, editors, published authors, and producers following me. I'm close mind you, but not there yet.

While I didn't meet my agent on Twitter I did use Twitter to help me decide who I should submit to. And yes, he was on there. Reading his tweets was a huge help in deciding if he was right for me. I saw how hard he worked and how much he advertised his clients. Those are priceless tidbits of information when you're figuring out who to submit to.

Before you jump in be sure to read Jane Friedman's (from Writer's Digest) article on Twitter Tips for writers:
http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/2009/12/03/TwitterTipsForWriters.aspx

So how do you get started meeting the right people? Reach out. There are several great chats on Twitter for writers, sometimes more than one in a day. Rather than rehash all of them (and there are a LOT) I'll give you this link to Inkygirl.com who wrote a fantastic entry on the subject: http://www.inkygirl.com/twitter-chats-for-writers/ You never know who you'll meet or who will end up following you because they found you on a chat. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What Makes An Agent Keep Reading

That's easy right? A great book! Well, yes and no. Of course your book must be great, but most importantly, the first five pages must be amazing. If it doesn't pull an agent in right away, they'll probably pass. Worse yet, most likely its an intern reading your manuscript, looking for something specific the agent has told them to look for. If your manuscript doesn't match what the agent told them to look for you still have a shot at blowing them away and making them read it regardless.

So how do you snag them by the collar and yank them into the pages? First, don't pull your punches. Don't save your best stuff for later in the book. What good is it a hundred pages in if the agent or intern never gets past page four? When you're as popular as Stephen King you can save the good stuff for later (actually I wouldn't recommend it even then) but for now pour everything you've got into it from the begining. This doesn't mean throw in the kitchen sink. It means write smart.

At all costs avoid clique beginings. You know the ones, a telephone rings, it's a dark stormy night, or worse, an alarm clock goes off. Be original! Let them know right away that this is going to be something special. Try to introduce your protagonist right away, they are who the story is all about after all. Above all, there must be conflict and something to gain or lose. Conflict makes a reader want to keep reading. It can be small or it can be huge, it just has to be interesting!

For more great info on the subject check out editor Chuck Sambuchino's blog entry on a panel of agents who were asked what made them stop reading: http://ow.ly/163Ovs

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Twitter Tuesday~Kami Garcia

One of the main reasons I love Twitter is because I can connect with other writers who are at the same stage in their careers as I am. Sharing this journey is priceless. But I also love finding debut authors who are one step ahead of me. Hey, I like to live vicariously while I'm waiting for that big sale!

Kami Garcia found me and I remember looking at her page and loving what I read. I followed her back immediately. I'm so glad I did because otherwise I might have missed out on an amazing book. Though I'm pretty sure some of the great gals I follow would have steered me toward it eventually.

As you may know from my previous ravings about her, Kami is one of the co-authors of Beautiful Creatures. What you may not know is Kami is a great lady who supports others. You can find her on Twitter at:
https://twitter.com/kamigarcia

Though it was released early, today is the official release of Beautiful Creatures. Happy birthday Beautiful Creatures! I haven't actually got to read much of it yet because it's on my Christmas list, which means my other half won't let me buy it! But, I keep sneaking peeks at it every time we go to the bookstore. I'm up to chapter four! Shh, don't tell.

More great news, Warner Brothers bought the movie rights to Beautiful Creatures! Huge congratulations to Kami and Margaret Stohl! I hope Hollywood moves fast on that production!
http://hollywoodinsider.ew.com/2009/11/30/warner-bros-on-the-hunt-for-the-next-twilight-is-it-beautiful-creatures/

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday's Muse


I'm not really sure if these are Mayan ruins or Aztec but what really matters is they inspired me this week! With all these pics of Mayan ruins you'd think I was writing a novelization of the 2012 movie, but nope, not even close. Some of the strangest things inspire me at times. Like Credence Clearwater Revival's Run Through The Jungle. Yet, I'm not writing about the Vietnam War either. The mind is a funny thing.

I know that since this is the last Monday of the month I usually highlight the books I've read this month, but I'm ashamed to say, I haven't got through one this month. It's no fault of the book's I'm sure, just that I've been focused so hard on writing that I haven't read much at all. I'll be better next month, I promise.

What inspires you and gets your muse working? Photos, music, books, movies, or TV shows? I'm curious.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Contest for Beautiful Creatures

What does the south look like to you? What do you think of when someone says the south? The ladies over at http://beautifulcreaturesthebook.com/extras/contests/beautiful-creatures-photo-contest/ want to know. While it's not my contest, I just had to let you all know about it. They're giving away an ARC (advanced reader's copy) of Beautiful Creatures to the winner. You've got to get in on this folks, it's going to be an outstanding book. When I think of the south I think of sprawling plantation houses and rows of oak and willow trees drooping in the humid heat. Here's a photo that reminds me of the south:


Friday, November 27, 2009

Harlequin's Vanity Imprint

Harlequin recently announced that it is starting a vanity imprint, or basically a self-publishing imprint. This has created a lot of stir in the industry from other publishers and from authors. There are many different avenues of self-publishing already so you might be wondering why this has caused such an uproar.

As a traditional publisher, Harlequin pays the author an advance for their book, then after the book makes back that much, they pay out royalties. Such is traditional publishing. The publisher must believe the book will be a success to invest in it.

Harlequin's vanity press works in the opposite way. The author pays to have their book published and pays for so many copies. Then distribution is up to the author, usually through Amazon and similar sites. If the author wants more printed they have to pay the publisher. For many authors who can't land an agent and a major publisher, or simply don't want to, this is a good option.

However, if the experts didn't believe the book would be a success, the chances of making money off such a venture are probably slim. There are exceptions of course. Look at Christopher Paolini and Eragon. He landed an agent and a major publisher after he self-published. It's a gamble that can pay off but more than often doesn't.

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer's of America are outraged at Harlequin's venture. Here's their official statement: http://www.sfwa.org/2009/11/sfwa-statement-on-harlequins-self-publishing-imprint/ What do you, the writers and readers, think of it?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving



To all my wonderful readers and followers, as well as those who just stop by, I'm very thankful for each and every one of you. Each of you helps to make this journey a little less arduous. You're breaking that myth about writing being a lonely life and I thank you for that.

This year I'm especially thankful for my wonderful new agent, Ken Atchity and the great folks at AEI. Thank you for loving and believing in my novel. You inspire me to work even harder. I hope the new year will bring us many successes together.

I hope you all have a great day filled with family, friends and good food. Or at least no work!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Twitter Tuesday~Mundie Moms

Some fabulous ladies found me on Twitter and I'm glad they did because my bookshelf has never been the same. The Mundie Moms review fantastic young adult books, have great giveaways, and keep me thoroughly entertained. They're hilarious, big-hearted, and have excellent taste in books. They're HUGE Cassie Clare fans, love Aprilynne Pike, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Maggie Stiefvater. If you don't know who those authors are, then you have to check these gals out. They've done thorough reviews on books by each of those authors and they're honest critiques will ensure you find an excellent read. If you need a great recommendation for a book, or just a laugh, check them out.

Here they are on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/MundieMoms
And you don't want to miss their blog!: http://mundiemoms.blogspot.com/

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday's Muse


This week my muse has taken me to Costa Rica. She takes me to the best places! This is a random shot of a creek in the jungle. Having been to a few different jungles now I've got to say, they are the most amazing places, and so inspiring! But take bug spray. One of my favorite things to do when traveling is visit the less populated areas, get back to nature. I already knew the scene I wanted to write before I found this picture, but it helped keep me in the right frame of mind for the chapter.

As for literature, I'm still working on Never Cry Werewolf by Heather Davis. The reading is going slow since I spend most of my time writing! I've really noticed the music I'm listening to while writing this book is vastly different than what I listened to while writing it's predecessors. I think it's matured as my characters have. Funny how that works!

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Moon Craze--Meyer's Mojo

As New Moon mania hits some of you are still wondering what the big deal is. If you're a writer, trust me, you should take the time to read the book and figure it out! As writers there is something we can learn from every author's success, no matter what genre they write.

After some friends took me to see Twilight I honestlly wasn't that impressed. I couldn't see what the big deal was. As a writer I had to know, so I bought the book and read it. I could not put it down. I haven't read a book that fast since high school.

Is it the greatest book ever? That depends on who you are. Which is exactly what the big deal is. You may have heard me say this next part before, but it's so important is deserves repeating. Figuring out who your target audience is and exactly what they want, creates magic.  New Moon/Twilight type magic. So, if you're a writer who isn't interested in how to nail that down to perfection and sell millions of books, don't go see it. Don't read the book. But don't complain about Stephanie Meyer's success either.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Twitter Tuesday~Ken Atchity

Today's Twitter Tuesday is about someone with excellent taste in books who is incredibly dear to my heart, my agent, Ken Atchity. As you may know from prior posts, I met Ken at the Hawaii Writer's Conference in 2008. I pitched a book to him that he found very interesting. However, I ended up going with another agent. Ah, the mistakes we ametuers make. Anyway, while the other agent was trying to sell that book I wrote another, in a different genre. This other agent wasn't interested in young adult. So I pulled out Ken's card and shot him an e-mail to see if he remembered me and would be interested in looking at it. He did and he was.

I already knew from past research that Ken had an excellent on line presence. His agency website is extensive and he blogs regularly. By the way, I love that in an agent. It is the technological age after all and I love someone who shows their progress and supports their clients. I looked him up on Twitter. He had an account! Only days after I started following him he followed me back.

(Just an aside for aspiring writers: Here's where it's really important to be aware of what you're twittering and blogging. You never know who could be following you or looking you up. It could be agents, could be publishers, could be prospective readers. Twitter and blog responsibly!)

I was so impressed at how he supported his clients that I was itching to hear back from him. In the meantime, another agent wanted to read my book. Long story short, I ended up going with Ken because I knew more about him and knew he was the right match for me and my work. Without Twitter and the wonderful world of blogging, I wouldn't have known that.

You can follow Ken on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/kennja Or check out his blog here: http://kenatchity.blogspot.com/

And um, no, sorry folks, you can't tell him you know me and that I refered your writing, because I haven't read it. (And in case your thinking of asking, I'm terribly sorry, I don't have the time to do so. I wish I could because I love helping aspiring writers but I'm crazy busy writing my next book!) Just think of this as an inside tip on a great agent in the industry to follow and learn from.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday's Muse


















This is the last week my mind will be in Mexico, but the next place will be just as amazing, I promise! This is a shot taken from the beach that looks up to the Tulum ruins. Just seeing a place like this sparks something and the words start flowing for me. Amazing. I had a great writing week. The story simply would not leave my head and I couldn't stop writing. I kind of get that way once I pass the halfway mark of writing a book though. It's almost like it picks up momentum and carries me with it. But I'm loving every second of it.

When I want to get into the writing mode I watch something that get's me in a creative frame of mind. Usually something off the Syfy channel. Vampire Diaries works. So does Flashforward, Fringe, and Stargate Universe. I even squeeze in a bit of reading someone else's book when I can! I finished Shiver, which I ended up loving. Now I'm reading Never Cry Werewolf. I'll let you know how that turns out at the end of the month when I do my Monday Muse on what I've read this month.

Happy writing!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Will English Class Ruin Your Writing?

It may surprise you to learn that your education can disect your writing like an autopsy and leave it in nasty pieces all stitches together. I was blessedly lucky to learn this very early in life.

My freshman year in high school I recieved my first creative writing assignment. I will never forget what my English teacher said after I turned it in. He wanted to know if my parents had helped me. I laughed, literally. Writing was definately not my Mom's thing and while my Dad had an amazing imagination, stringing together words on a page was not his strong point. As I laughed I realized my teacher was serious. I assured him they hadn't helped me. He put me on the spot one day in class (I've always thought it was secretly to make sure I was telling the truth) by asking me to describe the statue of liberty using creative writing. I did. He was blown away and the rest of the class didn't want to follow me.

A week later he asked me to stay after class. He explained to me that his class (advanced English) was going to ruin my writing ability and he wanted to take me out of it. I was horrified. I loved English. He explained that he wanted me to sit in the library instead of class everyday and work on a creative writing assignment. I would have to turn a short story in every week. I was in heaven for the rest of high school. Because he was so foreward thinking about my future, I never understood what he meant by 'English class would ruin my writing ability'. Until I took a few classes after high school. I was appalled at how teachers expected me to write.

If you're an aspiring writer and you're in school, take English class with a grain of salt. Or perhaps the whole salt shaker. English is vital to a writer, don't skip out on it. But, know that much of what you learn in that class isn't geared toward creative writing. It is, however, important for building a foundation of good grammar. Here's a great post by the copyblogger on 7 bad writing habits you learned in school: http://www.copyblogger.com/bad-writing-habits/

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Link Salad for the Submitting Writer

Today is a link salad from agents about query letters, the cost of publishing, and what to ask an agent.

Finishing your book and deciding you want to get it published is only the first hurdle in a long marathon. Unfortunately there isn't a nice track either. There are side roads, many that lead into nowhere. So what is an aspiring writer to do? Here is a great link from Writer's Digest on 10 things to do before you even send your query letter out to agents:
http://writersdigest.com/article/Ten_Things_You_Should_Do_Before_Trying_to_Find_an_Agent With querying comes a lot of rejection so be prepared. Be sure to check out great agencies like the Waxman agency. I love what they say about rejection:
http://waxmanagency.wordpress.com/ And read up on other great blogs like Chuck Sambuchino's editors blog. Here he gives advice on what to say and what not to say in a query letter: http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/20+Tips+On+Query+Letters+As+Told+By+Agent+Janet+Reid.aspx

You may want to check out agent Rachelle Gardner's post on whether or not your book is worth it. She breaks down the cost of creating a paperback and a hardback book. It's a real eyeopener and, it will give you an idea of how many books you'll have to sell to make your advance back for your publisher.
http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/2009/11/is-your-book-worth-it.html

Once an agent makes an offer take a deep breath and ask questions before you accept it. Finding out what their plan is for your book is vital to having a healthy working relationship with them. Despite the barrage of questions I asked my agent, this one, suggested by literary agent Janet Reid, didn't occur to me: http://ow.ly/ArjY

Best of luck!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Twitter Tuesday~Lindsey

This Twitter Tuesday post is about one of the most energetic and uplifting aspiring writers I've met in a long time. I first met Lindsey on http://www.authornation.com/ a website for writers to network with each other and share their experiences. We kind of took the Twitter plunge at the same time.

Lindsey is a historical romance writer who, like me, is sharing her writing journey via her blog and Twitter. I've got many great tips from her about all things publishing. More than that though, Lindsey has been there to help keep me motivated and going. Chances are if I'm looking for an answer to a question about the publishing industry Lindsey either knows it or knows where to find out!

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Lindsey this summer when we both attended the Hawaii Writer's Conference in Honolulu Hawaii. https://www.hawaiiwriters.org/conference.php I didn't think it could be possible, but she is even more fun in person! It crushes me that we live states away from each other. However, through Twitter we keep connected every day. It's almost like sitting down and having a cup of coffee together every morning.

You can find Lindsey on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ThoughtfulPen
Or check out her blog here: http://thewritewords-lindsey.blogspot.com/

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday's Muse

My mind is still in Mexico this week. These are the ruins of Chichen Itza. It was once a Mayan ceremonial center with over one hundred buildings that spanned over six miles. Chichen Itza emerges from the jungle like the set of an old Indiana Jones movie. It's easy to imagine the bustling center is must have once been.

As for the other dishes my muse is feeding upon, I'm still reading Shiver, and loving it more with every page. I still feel like I want to know more about the main character, Grace, but the story has me intrigued enough that I can overlook it. Would I recommend the book? Definitely.

I must admit, I have been watching the Vampire Diaries, despite it's tendency to touch upon every clique in the industry. In fact, I think that's part of the reason I like it. It's true to the legends and that has a certain appeal.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Debut Of Beautiful Creatures

I love supporting debut authors because I think it helps keep the industry and sales of new manuscripts to publishers up. This one is special though. I've been waiting for this fantastic looking book for months so you can imagine my delight when it debuted a month early! I befriended one of the co-authors Kami Garcia on Twitter a while ago and I've been itching to read the book ever since. So what's it about?

Set in the old South, it's a tale about a boy suffering from disturbing nightmares who wants nothing more than to get out of town some day. But when a mysterious, and hauntingly familiar girl moves onto the town's oldest plantation he finds himself drawn to her.

Seeped in magic, curses, and intrigue, this is one book I can hardly wait to read! Did I mention Barnes and Noble will get the book to me in three days?! Can't wait to tear into it!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pub Industry Failing--I don't think so!

The turmoil in the publishing industry has many authors and aspiring writers in a panic. There is talk that the industry is going down, that the novel is an endangered species. Don't put down your pencil or close your laptop just yet folks. Now is not the time to give up on your dreams of being published or publishing more books.

The publishing industry is not like the dinosaur, it is more like the alligators. No matter what history has thrown at it, forbidding the written language, book burning, or book banning, it has survived. With each new major form of entertainment that has emerged, radio, motion pictures, and even television, it has survived. The Internet won't be any different. It won't wipe out the written word, it embraces it and nurtures it. Will it change the way we do things, the way we read things? Yes of course. It already has. But it won't stop people from reading, in fact it's doing the opposite.

Nothing history has thrown at the publishing industry has been able to destroy it before. People want to write and read. Since the beginning of language storytelling has been ingrained into our lives. How we do it may change, but the fact that we do it, will not. The publishing industry is like a phoenix. No matter what happens, it will rise from the ashes. It will survive.

See what super-agent Nathan Bransford has to say on the subject:
http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2009/10/this-week-in-publishing_30.html
And LitDrift, an excellent source for all things literary:
http://www.litdrift.com/2009/10/27/5-reasons-why-the-novel-is-not-a-dying-medium/

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Twitter Tuesday~Writer's Digest

Today's Twitter Tuesday post is one aspiring writers don't want to miss. It's all about the great people from Writer's Digest that are on Twitter. So why should you follow the folks of Writer's Digest? You really only need to look back through my prior posts to answer that question. My posts are chalked full of links to Writer's Digest. They help writers connect to each other, find agents, editors, and keep up to date on everything that is going on in the publishing industry.

Check them out on Twitter at the following links:
https://twitter.com/JaneFriedman Publisher of Writer's Digest magazine
https://twitter.com/alicepope Editor of Writer's Digest magazine
https://twitter.com/WritersDigest

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday's Muse

These are the Mayan ruins in Tulum Mexico. When standing at the bottom of the massive staircase they seem to rise straight up out of the incredibly blue ocean like the bleached bones of an ancient giant. How could that not be incredibly inspiring? Ruins just like these are scattered all over the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. If you're wondering what in the world Mayan ruins could have to do with my book then be sure to check back Thursday when I introduce you to my main character!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

May the holiday be an inspiration to your writing. Or at the very least, may you enjoy an abundance of chocolate and cider! Whether you're playing tricks or out searching for treats, everyone have a very safe and happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Flash Friday On Twitter

I've discovered yet another great way to network on Twitter, or rather, it discovered me. Emma Newman started following me and I went to check out her Twitter page. Her bio said: writer of YA post-apocalyptic fiction by night, web content writer by day. I was intrigued. There was a lot of talk on her page about Flash Friday, which mentioned writers a lot. Even more intrigued. So I clicked on her link, which took me to a great page and an explanation.

First for non-Twitter users I'll have to explain what a hashtag is. When you're on Twitter's search page you can search trending topics either by words or the popular hashtag, which is basically just the words plus a # in front of them. Such as #flashfriday. Everyone who Twittered with the phrase #flashfriday will show up when you do the search. So what if flash Friday all about? Promoting your writing! Writers write a short story, Twitter the title, the link to the story, and the hashtag #flashfriday. Everyone who looks up #flashfriday and participates is encouraged to comment on the stories.

This is meant to help writers network, increase their followers/readers, and possibly attract agents and editors. You have to love an idea that's meant to do all that!

For more info on it check out Emma on Twitter: https://twitter.com/EmApocalyptic
Or check out her website: http://www.enewman.co.uk/

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Know What Your Audience Wants

So you've finished your novel and are ready to submit it. Are you sure it's something your audience wants to read? That's the burning question that will determine whether or not an agent and/or publisher is going to pick it up. How are you supposed to find out what your audience wants? First you must make sure you know your audience.

Where will your book be found in a book store? What shelf will it sit on and next to what books? These are fairly easy to answer. Take my book for example. It will sit on the young adult (or teen as some bookstores call it) shelves close to (gulp) Stephanie Meyer (no pressure). Go into the bookstore and find where yours will sit.

With the easy part over, how do you find out what your audience wants? Don't leave the book store or young adult (insert your own genre) section yet. Look at the books that are hot, look at the New York Times bestsellers. What are they about? There you go. That is how you find out what your audience wants. That doesn't mean you have to be a cookie cutter writer. Just be aware of what your audience is reading. Not just the story line, but the type of voice or mood of novels that are popular. It doesn't hurt to be one step ahead of the game either. Research what agents and editors are looking for. Your book may not be what's hot now but it could be what they're looking for to be hot tomorrow!

Check out Publisher's Weekly's pole on what teens want in a book: http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6703770.html

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Twitter Tuesday

This week I'm spotlighting one of the first people who found me on Twitter. When I saw he was following me I stopped by his page and was immediately interested in what I read. He's a published author who's range runs from vampires to angels. Sounded intriguing. I had to know more. Upon checking his website I saw that he's a writer, producer, and ninja. What's not to love about that?! At that point I knew I had to follow him. He was too interesting not to. So who is this mystery guy?

His name is Jon F. Merz and he's an accomplished writer who has drawn the interest of Hollywood--and a nice guy to boot! Whether you read or write, be sure to check him out.

Here he is on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jonfmerz
And his website: http://www.jonfmerz.net/

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday's Muse

This picture is of the Aillwee caves in Ireland. They were formed by an underground river that was fed by a melting glacier. So why did a picture of an ancient cave inspire me and what could it possibly have to do with werewolves? You'll have to wait to find out! The good news is, my agent is happy with my editing and we're moving on to the stage of submitting to editors! I'm so excited I had to cut back on my coffee intake. So what's keeping me sane during the wait? You're looking at it. Writing my third book.

Check out the Aillwee caves here: http://www.aillweecave.ie/

Since it's the last Monday in October I thought I'd spotlight the books that have inspired my muse this month. I'm a firm believer that writers have to read to keep up on the trends and new voices in their genre.
This month I started with Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. Honestly, I didn't expect to like it. The cover was great but I thought the title was awful. However, after reading the jacket I chose this over the popular Vampire Diaries. This seemed to have far less cliques. I chose well! This book is great. The idea is original, the characters are original and well developed. I instantly cared about them. In fact, I'm going to have to get the rest of the series!
Check out Rachelle Mead's Vampire Academy series and her fantastic web site:
http://www.richellemead.com/books/vampireacademy.htm


My friends over at http://www.mundiemoms.com/
raved so much about this next book that I knew I had to read it. Check these ladies out if you're in need of a good book because they review honestly and support authors they think are great. I bow to their expertise because so far, they've been right!
Shiver is Maggie's debut novel and it's a very different twist of a werewolf story. Since I'm writing about werewolves I like to read everything out there involving them. Maggie doesn't disappoint. Her ideas are very different than mine but it makes me like her even more. I love originality! It started out hard to get into but once I got past the very unique style and reached page fifty I was absolutely hooked. You don't want to miss this great new author and her outstanding debut.

And have an excellent October!



Friday, October 23, 2009

News on the Book Price Wars

The American Booksellers Association is throwing down the gauntlet over the Amazon, Target, and Wal-Mart's bestseller price wars. The ABA believes it's illegal predatory pricing that will hurt the book industry. They could be right.

Think of it this way. When a movie first comes out you won't find it below $15 anywhere, not even at Costco. In fact, it's quite a while before it drops below that price, if ever. Why? Because the price is controlled. All parties involved get the chance to profit off their product. Up until this announcement by Target, Amazon, and Wal-Mart the price of books was pretty steady at the release of the book. You might get a discount if you had a bookstore card or went to Costco, but otherwise not. This gave the publisher, bookseller, and the author the chance to profit off their product.

It seems odd to me that big conglomerates who don't even specialize in books are trying to seize the book industry and squeeze the blood from it. The worst part is, authors will feel this crunch the worst. Out of all parties involved in book selling, the author gets the least amount of profit off the book they wrote.

For us consumers there are other ways to get our discounts. Worst case scenario, we can wait for the paperback to come out and pay a lot less. Most of us who are in a crunch do this anyways. So me, I'm cheering on the ABA because they're standing up for not only booksellers and publishers, but the authors! Read all about their plea to the Department of Justice here:
http://news.bookweb.org/7130.html

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What If Your Agent Isn't Working Out?

Unfortunately just because you landed an agent doesn't mean that the two of you will have a good working relationship. It finally hit me a while back that things weren't working out with my first agent. But what was I supposed to do? The idea of parting ways with him made me sick. Could I get another one? Should I? There are a few other questions you should ask yourself first

What should you expect from your agent? What's normal and what's not? What are red flags that things aren't working out or legit? These are all questions that go through your mind when you're searching for an agent and after you first land one. Having had two agents I've had two completely different experiences. One bad, one good.

My first agent was for my adult fantasy series. My books would be one of their first ventures into the fantasy genre. That was a red flag but I didn't know it at the time. They had represented some excellent authors so I figured they knew what they were getting into.

I received an offer of representation through the email. For me this is a red flag because I'm all about personal communication. This is not terribly unusual I've come to learn, just impersonal. They did not have me sign a contract. Again, not terribly unusual for an agent taking on a first time author. If they're on the fence about you or your project this is a way to protect themselves if they can't sell it. Then they can drop you, which is why it's a red flag. Not to mean they aren't legit, just to mean they may not be sure they can sell your work.

Once they deemed it ready to submit they didn't tell me who they were sending it to. Red flag. After almost a year they stopped answering my emails. I wasn't a pest, one email a month at the very most. Red flag. If you're a pest they aren't going to answer them all but if you aren't they really should be answering you. I called them twice in the course of that year and they were 'out of the office' both times. They didn't return those calls. Red flag. After I pushed hard I received an apologetic email answer (we only talked on the phone once the entire time) that things had been hectic and they hadn't had time for my manuscript. Crimson flag. After pushing even harder I learned they had only sent it out to two houses over the entire year! Red flag. At this point we parted ways since he was too busy for my project (in other words had lost interest!). I wish he'd told me that six months ago.

Thankfully in the meantime I'd kept writing, had finished another series, and had been looking for another agent for it since mine did not want to rep young adult. My new agent has been completely different every step of the way and I'm loving it. Every agent does things different. Finding the right one is not easy. Best of luck!

For some expert advice on the subject from lit agent Kristen Nelson check this out: http://pubrants.blogspot.com/
A great link from the folks at Writer's Digest on how to break up with your agent: http://ow.ly/vU0x

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Book Price Wars

If you're a writer or a reader you've probably heard about Wal-Mart and Amazon's plan to offer new hardback books at only $9. If not, grab your coffee and sit down because you've got to get in the know about this. For readers this could be great news. For writers, not so much.

Authors only get typically 10% off the cover price of a hardback. Suddenly makes a $25 book not look like such a great profit huh? Now knock that down to a $9 book. That more than cuts an authors profits in half. Ouch. Not such a big deal for the authors who sells hundreds of thousands of books but what about for those who only sell tens of thousands, or even just thousands?

For readers this is great because everyones wallets are thin in this economy and who couldn't use a break when it comes to their entertainment costs? You can pick up some great titles at a discount price.

In the end, it's better for authors if readers buy the hardback regardless of it's discount because we get typically 10% of that price and only 6% or less of the cover price of a paperback. If more people are able to buy hardback books instead of having to wait for the paperback the profit for authors will still be better.

Will I be rushing out to buy my books from Wal-Mart or Amazon? No. I'm not a fan of Wal-Mart and there isn't one within 100 miles of where I live anyways. Considering Amazon posted only bad reviews of a friend's book (that was quite good I must add!) despite all the great reviews written, I've been boycotting them ever since. So Barnes & Noble, no worries. I'm faithfully yours forever!

Associated Press's announcement of the price wars: http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_16036/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=DyE8QsXP

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Twitter Tuesday

Today I'm spotlighting the first two people I followed when I jumped on Twitter, Aprilynne Pike and Sarah Rees Brennan. I had the privilege of attending a writer's retreat with these two fantastic ladies in 2008. They're both creative, funny, and supportive of those in the writing industry. If you've ever had the pleasure of meeting them at a signing you know how incredibly nice either of them are. And yep, they're really that way all the time.

Both Aprilynne and Sarah's first books debuted this year. Aprilynne's book, Wings, shot immediately onto the New York Times bestseller list. It's a young adult novel about a young girl who discovers she's a fairy. Disney has since bought the movie rights. Sarah's book The Demon's Lexicon stormed the European market before landing in the U.S. It's a story about magic and demons that would no doubt make J.K. Rowling envious.

If taking the literary world by storm isn't enough reason to follow these great ladies, there's also the fact that they're, well, great ladies. Check them out. I'm sure you'll love their books, their blogs, and their twittering.

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/AprilynnePike & https://twitter.com/sarahreesbrenna
Their Blogs: http://www.apparentlyaprilynne.blogspot.com/ & http://sarahtales.livejournal.com/
Their sites: http://www.sarahreesbrennan.com/ & http://www.aprilynnepike.com/

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday's Muse

Okay, so part of me picked this picture last week because of the proximity of Halloween! But for the most part I picked it because I'm at a really dark place in my book. It's one of those moments where my main character does something that will change her life forever-or so she thinks. Hard chapter to write but so rewarding and worth it to see her growing. While this book is fun it is anything but light when I compare it to the last two.

As for music this last week, I've been listening to some dark things as well. Hey, it's a theme and it gets me into the right mood for the chapter!

Here's a link on why your manuscript can get rejected to start your Monday off right: http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/Why+Your+Manuscript+Can+Get+Rejected+Part+II.aspx

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sequels and Submitting to Editors

Sorry about my absence this week. I've been crazy busy getting things ready for my agent!

Even before I submitted to agents I wondered what to expect if I've written a sequel to the book I'm submitting. Not much at the agent stage really. At that point you want to focus on your first book. If you don't get someone interested in it they aren't really going to care about what comes after. However, once an agent takes you on then things change. First and foremost you have to get your first book ready. Which means revision even after you get an agent. They want to make sure they have something polished and ready to go before considering more.

Once I'd got through the revision stages with my agent I asked him what I should have ready in case editors ask about the sequels. At that point he was very excited to hear about the sequels. He wanted to know how much I'd written. I've completed the second novel (and revised several times) and am about half way through the third. With that in mind he wanted not only my revised first book, but a synopsis or outline of the second, 2 chapters of the second, and the first page of the third. Since that was all already done it was just a matter of attaching those things to the email.

If you've written a sequel to your book be honest with your agent about what stage it's in. If its the first draft tell them. If you've revised it several times, let them know that. Have a synopsis or an outline ready! Most important, never stop writing. If I had stopped writing the moment an agent showed interest I wouldn't have a sequel completed and be half way through the third. I used all the nervous energy to keep writing and now I have a trilogy instead of just one book! You don't have to write a sequel though. Write another book altogether if you like!

If you have written a sequel have it ready, then once your agent is happy with the revision of the first book, mention the sequel! Both your agent and prospective editors will want to know about it. Happy writing!

For those of you looking for an alternative way to publish check this out. Here's a new publishing imprint that wants authors to take a more active role in their own promotion and are taking a different approach: http://kenatchity.blogspot.com/2009/10/morgan-james-publishing-and-atchity.html

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Progress With Editing

Today I had an excellent phone call with my agent. Sounds like I've revised to his liking! Yay! Now I have to work on a cover letter to editors. Yikes. I'm thinking a root canal might be easier. But the good news is I'll have help from my agent. And I had an idea of where to start thanks to agent Kristin Nelson's blog. Check her out here: http://pubrants.blogspot.com/ She posts letters to editors that she's written, among many other wonderful things. Just goes to show, an agent doesn't have to be your agent to help you.

With the basic idea in mind I wrote a rough draft based on what I read and the material that's in my query letter. So far it seems a query letter to an editor isn't much different from a query letter to an agent. Your trying to sell the same thing after all. We'll see what my agent says when he kicks the first draft back to me!

For those who need an extra boost of confidence in the recovering literary field, check this out. My last agent said manuscripts just don't go to auction any more. He said the state of the economy just didn't allow for it. My current agent doesn't agree and I'm excited about that. Apparently he isn't the only one. Here's a success story of two books that recently sold at auction: http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6701023.html Things are looking good!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Twitter Tuesday

Some wonderful friends of mine over at http://mundiemoms.blogspot.com/ gave me the idea to start Twitter Tuesday. Rather than steal their idea completely I'm using the title and doing something slightly different. Be sure to check them out though. They're a fantastic group who reviews the hottest new young adult titles. The stalk Twitter for the best tweets from the best writers out there and they come up with some great stuff so be sure to stop by their page.

I'll be talking about some of the great people I've found in the writing industry, and perhaps some who've found me. If a week goes by that I don't find anyone new, I'll find something else to dazzle you with! This last week I met Kami Garcia, co-author of the soon to be released Beautiful Creatures. She's a great gal and the book is going to be excellent! Check her out on twitter at: https://twitter.com/kamigarcia and http://www.beautifulcreaturesthebook.com/

I also met the up and coming young adult author Myra McEntire. Myra is represented and kind of at the same stage in her career as I am. You can find her on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/MyraMcEntire and check out her fun website at: http://writingfinally.blogspot.com/

Other big news on Twitter: fantasy author Neil Gaiman is starting a story on Twitter that fans can add their own lines to. When it's finished he's going to record it as an audio book! Check him out here: https://twitter.com/neilhimself and read about his idea here: http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6701457.html

As daunting as it may seem for those of you who haven't taken the plunge, this is what Twitter is all about. I can't think of any other website or chat room where you can meet anyone from published authors, editors, agents, publishers, readers, to up and coming authors. This is the melding pot folks and if you aren't in it, you're missing out!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday Muse

I thought I'd change my weekly 'Last Week's Writing Inspiration' post to Monday Muse. It has a nicer ring to it and is shorter to type! On Monday's I'll be posting whatever inspired me the week prior, in hopes that maybe it can inspire you!

Last week my muse drew power from this picture. These are the cliffs of Mohr in Ireland. I've had this picture stuck away for some time and was saving it for when I reached this stage in my book.

The moment I saw this picture I knew I had to write about this place. It hit me on a visceral level. I started researching the cliffs immediately. The more I found out the more fascinated I became, and the richer my story became!

I posted it a while back when I first found it but now that I'm at this point in my book I just had to post it again!

As for ear candy last week, my muse has been snacking on a lot of Irish music and Loreena McKennitt!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Secret To Getting Published

That's easy, write a great book and get discovered! While accomplishing that is very complicated, the answer to the question really is that simple. So how do we achieve this? Well, relax. Great books don't start out that way. Like all things in life, it takes work to get them to the stage where they are publishable. Don't be afraid to write a rough first draft. You will be revising, a lot, so save that part for later. Get the words on paper or into a computer.

Once you've finished then you can go back and start making it great. Don't expect to do it in the second draft either. You'd better really love this book because you'll likely end up re-writing it so many times you'll lose count. I felt like my novel started out great and I've still re-written it so many times I've lost count! Don't get discouraged by the revision process. Uncovering a diamond takes time and hard work.

As for getting discovered, I've talked a lot about queries and conferences in past posts, check them out. For an absolute treasure trove of info on getting published check out this outstanding post from Jane Friedman at Writer's Digest: http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/2009/10/06/TheSecretsToPublishingSuccessJanes2009ToughLoveGuide.aspx
And if you have doubts about what Twitter can do for your writing career check this out to see what other writers have said about it: http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/2009/10/04/HowTwitterIsHelpfulForAspiringWriters.aspx

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Blogger Book Reviewers Beware!

The Federal Trade Commission has just flexed their muscles to make bloggers who review things disclose whether or not they received it for free or were compensated for their review. This will include books! If you picked up an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) at a book festival for free, you'll have to disclose that! If the author sent you their book because you're a friend or 'reader', you'll have to disclose that! It is the FTC's intention to give the consumer a clearer picture of whether or not the review may be biased.

I get what they're trying to do. This works on say, diet pills. But not so much on books! Yet books get lumped into the mix with everything else. Lawsuits and fines can be involved, though I doubt we'll see much of that in the book industry. But in a sue-happy nation, one cannot count it out. There is a bit of a clause that may or may not help out bloggers who review arc's they picked up at a festival. It says a blogger who receives a freebie without the advertiser knowing won't be in violation of the FTC rules. Sounds like a gray area to me. Gray areas are never good.

I don't think the FTC's intention is to target book reviewers but any time a blanket clause is put into affect it tends to effect the wrong people. So be informed and beware! Leave me a comment, I'd love to see what you all think about this.
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/10/05/technology/AP-US-TEC-Bloggers-FTC.html?_r=3&hpw

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

More On Queries

Often the hardest part of a writer's job is learning how to sell themselves. This all starts with the query letter. It's a careful balance of professionalism, knowing your audience (the agents), enthusiasm for your work, and knowing how to put it all together. Learning how to mix all this and come out with an outstanding query letter is not easy.

Don't confuse enthusiasm for your work with overconfidence. Saying things like, 'there isn't another book like this on the market', or 'this will blow away Twilight', are red flags, not good points. If your book isn't like anything on the market then an agent is going to wonder if they'll even be able to sell it. You do want to express it's uniqueness but also touch on what it is similar too. Making a statement like the second one is arrogant and may come back to take a chunk out of your posterior. When doing comparisons be respectful of the author's work and make sure your accurate.

When it comes to the paragraph about yourself if you don't have any publishing credits, don't panic. Focus on what you've written, if there is a sequel available, or if you plan to write one. Here's some great advice from editor Chuck Sambuchino on the subject: http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/What+Should+You+Write+In+The+Bio+Paragraph+Of+A+Query+Letter.aspx
Here's an example from Chuck of an excellent successful query letter: http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/Successful+Queries+Agent+Michael+Bourret+And+Wake.aspx

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Weekend With My Agent Critiqued Manuscript

I absolutely stalked my mail box waiting for the hard copy of my critiqued manuscript to arrive from my agent. I've never been so excited to receive a package, seriously never. Not that my life is dull, just that I was dying to see what he liked and didn't like about my baby. When it arrived on Friday I abandoned all my other worldly duties, tore open the envelope and dove in.

So what does it look like when an agent critiques your manuscript? That depends on the agent. This I must say though, they are not your own personal editor so don't expect them to catch or correct all your grammar mistakes. That wears on them and they don't like it. I always feel horrible when I read through a critique and find a bunch of grammar mistakes my agent has fixed! My first agent sent only bullet points, no printed out manuscript. Things did not work out with him but I think that had more to do with the book than with him. That book is on a shelf awaiting a serious re-write. This time and this agent were going to be different.

First was the cover letter which I read and re-read before moving on. The cover letter stated both good and bad, with emphasis on what needed fixing. I'm lucky, it was gentle and the fixes were minimal. I haven't always been this lucky though. The critique of my first book was brutal and was followed by two more brutal critiques. Back to my current book. Once I read through the cover letter I eagerly set it aside and started on the manuscript. Point to remember at this stage: your agent loves your book and wants it to succeed. Take their criticism as constructive. They only want to polish your book and make it the best it can be. Take a stand only on points you feel are vital to the story. Trust their expertise!

There were enough grammar mistakes to make me want to send the reader flowers and wine. Ugh, now I feel horrible. I had gone over this manuscript so many times I'd lost count and still made mistakes! It happens. Try not to sweat it too much when it happens to you. Do your best and be prepared. Your agent will expect mistakes to a point.

I sat down at my computer with my critiqued manuscript next to me and fixed all the grammar errors my agent/reader generously pointed out. Then I double checked the entire manuscript for similar errors. Once that was done I put the cover sheet beside me and scoured the entire manuscript for the points I needed to fix. When that was done, I went over it again, and again. I'm nothing if not thorough! Now I'm awaiting a conference call with my agent later this week. Now that my manuscript is polished and put together I'm starting to get very excited!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Last Week's Writing Inspiration

Despite being on pins and needles waiting to get my manuscript back from my agent last week, I continued to write the sequel. Idle hands would have drove me insane and writing another book seemed like a good alternative to a straight jacket. The picture above helped inspire me and keep me focused. It was taken in the Lough Key Forest in Ireland and it took my breath away when I came across it. Quite a bit of my latest book takes place in Ireland and that's all the news I'm going to dish out about it, for now! :)
http://www.loughkey.ie/

Friday, October 2, 2009

Book Industry Is Recovering And YA Is Moving Front and Center

There are a lot of signs that the book industry is recovering and children/teen books seem to be moving front and center of all the talk. Even if you don't write either of these genres take heart that the next generation are reading, despite the state of the economy, and will likely do so the rest of their lives. It's one of the many reasons I write for children/teens, they're the future and our world's future has never looked brighter.

Just a week ago records were shattered at the National Book Festival in Washington D.C. with over 130,000 attendees! Among the authors in attendance were such great names as Judy Blume and Holly Black. Over 70 authors attended and many of them were children/teen authors. Booths were packed! http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6699603.html

At the Midwest Bookseller Association's Meeting and Trade Show teen books stole the limelight as well. Booksellers seem to be looking for the next Stephanie Meyer as many new young adult novels are focused around the paranormal, vampires, or magic. Some great new titles were announced. http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6699685.html

With record young adult and children's book sales it's no surprise that Sourcebooks is adding a young adult imprint. This is great news for young adult writers, especially those of us hoping to debut soon! They're first lineup for 2010 looks like it's going to be amazing! http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6699678.html
http://www.sourcebooks.com/independentvision/francesca-simon/2.html

Regardless of what genre you write, this is excellent news because it means children and young adults are reading. They will eventually move into other genres and hopefully will pass their love of books on to their own children when they grow up. The future is looking better all the time!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Release Day For My Friend's Book!

Today is release day for my friend William Bernhardt's book, Capitol Offense.

Capitol Offense is a thrillers about attorney Ben Kincaid. Ben is approached by a man who asks for his defense for a murder that hasn't happened yet. The man is beside himself with grief over the horrible death of his wife and wants to kill the detective involved. That same day, someone shoots the detective down, killing him. Against good advice, Ben decides to defend him.

This proves to be yet another riveting thriller from William Bernhardt, no doubt packed with gasping moments and page turning nights. Think of a cross between Stephen King (without the supernatural) and Tom Clancy and you're getting close to how great he is. Bernhardt will shock you and change the way you think about legal thrillers in a very good way.

Check it out: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Capitol-Offense/William-Bernhardt/e/9780345502995/?itm=2&usri=C
Bernhardt's site: http://williambernhardt.com/

Monday, September 28, 2009

Calling All 2011 Debut Authors

While I'm not yet among them (fingers crossed), I wanted to get this info out for those of you lucky writers who are. However, for those of us who haven't joined those prestigious ranks yet, it might not be a bad idea to follow their journey and see what their books are about. Following anothers path of success can help point you in the right direction.

There is a community of 2011 debut authors being put together as we speak. So why should you join a community of other debut authors, aren't they your competition after all? No! They are your comrades. Success is not achieved alone nor is it an easy feat. Take a few friends of mine for example. They met on line and started a community of 2009 debutants, a great group of female writers who debuted this year. They support each other, blog about each other, and have even done some touring together. That kind of support is priceless in this industry!

The fantastic Alice Pope from Writers Digest is looking for 2011 debut authors to interview and feature! She does have a few guidelines to follow, I think you have to be published traditionally, it's all on her blog. Jump on that folks, it's great publicity that won't cost you a thing. Even if you aren't among the chosen yet, follow along and track how they pull this amazing feat off. It will help you when your time comes.
http://community.livejournal.com/2011debuts/profile
http://cwim.blogspot.com/ Alice Pope's call for debut authors
http://www.escapewith7.com/ 2009 Debut authors
http://community.livejournal.com/debut2009 more about the 2009 Debut authors (these girls have been busy!)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Writing a Page Turner

It would be great if I could give you a magical formula or link that would map it all out, but with most things in writing, it isn't that easy. There are a few tips and tricks I've learned that help make it less of a mystery though.

The first thing you have to achieve is identifying your audience. A page turner is different for everyone. Some people enjoy Shakespeare while others like Stephen King. Know who your writing for. There are as many audiences as there are books, young adults, children, men, women, thrill seekers, fright seekers, adventure lovers, the list goes on and on.

After identifying your audience you must get to know them. How in the world are you supposed to do that? Look at what's on the shelf in your genre, that will give you a good idea of what's hot which gives you a good idea of what people like. Don't forget to read the books that are hot. Now you're starting to get to know them!

Now comes the hard part, your actual writing. Writing a page turner is all about pace and keeping the readers interest. You don't have to have action scene after action scene to achieve this. In fact that could be overkill. Meaningful dialogue can speed up a slow page or chapter. Leaving out anything that doesn't achieve anything for the story is another way. Cut out all excessive adjectives, adverbs and unnecessary words such as 'that', 'so', or 'suddenly'.

Put all this together and you're on your way to writing that page turner!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

To Be A New York Times Bestseller

Every writer dreams about achieving this goal. But do you really know what it means? How do you become one of these elite and how does it really effect your career as a writer? We'll start at the beginning.

New York Times bestsellers are based off how many books are ordered in by the booksellers, not by how many are sold. But if they order more in won't they sell more? Not necessarily and here's where it gets tricky. If a bookseller orders a bunch of your books in and they don't sell, they get sent back. You could still make the list but may not even make your advance back for your publisher! This decreases the chance that your publisher will want another book or could mean you'll be getting a much smaller advance the next go around. There is good news. If your publisher gives you a large advance they are going to do their part in making sure you get a lot of publicity to increase the chance of your book selling very well. They want to make that advance back and then some! So don't panic, they'll be putting in the work to make your books sell. But don't just sit on the sidelines either, be active in your own promoting.

So how does becoming a NY Times bestseller affect your career? There is no doubt that it's a good thing. It's great to be able to put on your letter to editors and even better to be able to print it on the cover of your next book. But, will you be able to tell those editors that it sold through, meaning all those books weren't returned? Hopefully so.

Don't think any less of the prestigious title of NY Times Bestseller, but now that you understand what it really means be prepared. No matter how much your publisher promotes your book, get out there and do all you can to promote it as well. Blog, get a web site set up, Twitter, FaceBook, MySpace, whatever it is you prefer, or all if you prefer. Start to build your audience and then amp up your efforts once your book is ready to hit the stores. Be the key to your own success!

http://www.writersdigest.com/article/what-is-sell-through-in-publishing/
http://www.writersdigest.com/article/what-is-the-90-10-rule/
http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/2009/09/22/InstantPublishingToolsGettingNoticedVisible.aspx