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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!