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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What I Learned In New York


I learned nearly as much about the publishing industry just by going to New York as I did by going to the conference. Not to say I didn't learn a lot at the conference, I certainly did, but this was my first time in New York and I learned a lot about the people who live and work there by visiting it. I've been to Hawaii, Oklahoma, and now New York attending writer conferences and this is the first time I felt like I really got what the publishing industry was all about.

The publishing industry can feel like a very cold, callous place at times, what with all the form rejections and good writing that is passed up. Much of what I've been told about New Yorkers reflects that. But I have to tell you, they aren't the rude stereo types you've heard about. There are a lot of people in New York and everyone is busy rushing off to do something so there isn't time for small talk and niceties. Until you see New York you can't grasp the scope of just how many people are struggling to break out in this industry.

You and your work have to stand out from the masses, and by masses I mean thousands upon thousands of other writers who want it just as bad as you do. You have to want it more and work that much harder. There must be something that is not just great, but unique about your work that will snap publishers to attention and make them want to read it. Most importantly though, you must know deep down what your book is really about. You have to cut through all the prose, back story, and plotting and get straight to the heart of it. Publishers want someone who gets that. They have no time for those who don't. Don't wait for a trip to New York or a big conference to do this, do it in your query. Best of luck!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~Tutorial

Instead of featuring someone specific today I'm going to talk about Twitter for those who haven't taken the plunge yet because you just aren't sure how it works. After you read this post, you will have no excuse! Those of you who are already on Twitter might drop in on the comments section and let me know if there's anything I've missed. This last week at the NYC Pitch conference I made a lot of great new writer friends. The problem was, they aren't on Twitter! I'm making it my mission to remedy this. Much of this will be basic for their sake.

Twitter is unlike any other social network out there, which is part of why I love it so much. You don't have to follow everyone who follows you, it isn't like the 'friend' thing you see elsewhere. Those who follow you see what you tweet to everyone but they won't see what you answer tweet to someone else if they aren't following that person as well. The same thing goes for the people you choose to follow. If you don't follow someone who follows you, you won't see their tweets.

There is a direct messaging system on the bar to the right of your screen. You can only direct message someone you follow who follows you as well. You and the person you send a direct message to are the only one's who see it. As for regular settings, if you have your settings on public then everyone will be able to see what you tweet. For writers who are working on building their readership and platform I recommend this setting. Don't worry, as long as you're careful you won't get hacked like on some other social networks I won't name.

There are pages within pages of Twitter. Most are safe, some are not. Be very careful which one's you choose to log into because when you do so it will ask you to allow access to your account. There is only one page I will allow access and that is TweetChat. You'll need TweetChat to easily keep up with the chats you choose to participate in. Here is the link: http://tweetchat.com/ I recommend saving it to your favorites so it's easily accessible. Why do you need it? For social networking of course! There are some amazing chats for writers on Twitter. There is a #scifichat, #thrillerchat, #scribechat, #litchat, #scriptchat, #askagent among many others. Not to mention you can create your own just by using the # sign.

The # sign preceding a grouping of words means it's a hashtag. Anyone on Twitter can follow a hashtag, making those chats a great way to find more people interested in the same things you are. Now go get started and get connected!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday's Muse~Publishing Houses


Since I was at the NYC Pitch conference most of this last week my muse was the publishing houses themselves. I couldn't possibly fit them all on here so I picked three. Despite being nearly one minded in my pursuit of pitching and selling to an editor, I actually managed to get a bit of writing done on the plane rides over! Ten new hand written pages of The First Dragonwatcher await entry into my computer.

I won't keep you waiting breathlessly, the conference was an interesting experience. I met a lot of really fantastic people that I know I'll stay connected with. I hope to see their books on the shelves some day very soon, along with my own of course! This was my first trip to New York and I learned a lot merely by visiting the city. Knowing how New York works and how it's culture is will really help me on this journey. I expected it to be very business-like and abrasive. In a way it was, but underneath it you can tell the people have good hearts, they're just practical.

All right, to my news. Tom Colgan of Penguin asked to see Grendar's Tale! I'm so excited and nervous I can hardly sit still. Several of my new friends from the conference also had requests for their manuscripts to be sent to editors so I'm celebrating their good fortune as well! Congratulations to all of you. Now, get over to Twitter and set up an account so we can chat and keep in touch.

Best of luck to any and all of you who are attending conferences this year. I hope you are just as successful!

Friday, June 25, 2010

What I'm Up To

This week I'm in New York for the NYC Pitch and Shop writer's conference. For those who haven't read my prior posts on it, it's a different kind of conference where you get to pitch to editors from the big publishing houses instead of to agents. The only workshops and classes are those which focus on improving your pitch. This conference isn't about improving your work, but selling it. By now I've already pitched to my first editor and am gearing up for tomorrow when I'll be pitching to two more. When I get back I'll tell you all about it but for now you can catch tidbits when I manage to squeeze time in on Twitter. Wish me good luck!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What Does An Agent Do?

What an agent does for their clients can sometimes seem like a mysterious thing to those who don't have one, or have just recently landed one. Agents are people~oh pick your jaw up, really they are~and therefore each one is different in the way they operate. However, there are some similarities in what you as a writer can expect from your agent. Most agents are actively seeking new clients at some point in their career. This is where you come in. But once you've been picked up, don't forget that your agent may still be seeking clients, which takes up a lot of their time. Imagine wading through a thousand queries a month. That's thirty three a day. Now you know why some send out form letters.

After you've signed with an agent they will probably critique your manuscript and make suggestions to improve it. This means they have to read it thoroughly, probably more than once, and will most likely pass it on to a second reader within their agency, another agent or an intern. More eyes means less mistakes or issues are overlooked. This takes up your agent's time and don't forget that you aren't the only client they have. They're critiquing the work of every one of their clients at some point.

You're going to have questions for your agent, a lot of them if this is your first book or first time being represented. That's all right, good in fact. You can't learn if you don't ask. Just about every agent out there encourages their clients to keep an open line of communication. However, try not to flood them with phone calls or emails. How much is too much? Well first, if you have a question you shouldn't be afraid to ask. That's part of what they're there for. While editing your manuscript per their critique you may be talking weekly, or sometimes even several days in a row. Once the editing is completed and they've accepted your manuscript as ready for editors, then communication is going to slow down. Don't panic. When there's news to share, you'll be the first person they tell, trust me.

It may feel like once your agent is happy with the manuscript and has submitted it to editors that their job is over. That couldn't be farther from the truth. Submitting to editors is probably the least of their work load but it isn't always as simple as sending out a letter to the editors they think might be interested. There are dozens upon dozens of publishing houses out there and your agent has to know what each of them are looking for and who they are. This takes work, lunches, meetings, phone calls, and emails.

Remember next time you're getting impatient or worried that your agent has forgotten about you, it isn't all cocktails and tropical vacations. They're working hard for you and every one of their clients. Relax, let them do their job. Check out this great article by Writer's Digest on 5 Myths You Shouldn't Believe About Agents: http://writersdigest.com/article/5-myths-you-shouldnt-believe-about-agents

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What's In A Name?

We've all stressed over the titles of our novels but what about the name of our characters? If you're like me, you put just as much thought into the names of your characters as you do the title of your novel. Actually, I put more work into naming my characters because the title usually comes along naturally at some point. But the names of my characters are a part of them and they affect a reader's first impression and perception. But Heather, a rose is a rose and all that right? Yes and no.

If I told you my protagonist's name was Poindexter that immediately forms a picture in your mind does it not? Don't worry, that isn't really my protagonist's name. A name can be nerdy, masculine, feminine, beautiful, or complicated, among other things, which is exactly why you should choose carefully. Usually if the name feels right to you then it probably is right for your character. But you must be aware of how it sounds and feels to other people.

Consider the name Poseidon. If you didn't already know that name and associate it with Greek mythology it would sound very foreign and possibly be hard to pronounce for some. Readers might stumble over it and it would therefore become a crutch in the book, something that slows action. However going the opposite direction and using an overly common name might not be something you want to do either. It could be boring and unmemorable to your readers. Now I know that when I say Edward most of you know immediately who I'm talking about and would argue that he is very memorable and nowhere near boring. But Lestat and Louie are just as memorable and certainly more distinctive.

Think of your own name, it has meaning or sentimental value to your parents, some kind of connection to their family or past. I like to use names that have to do with my character's heritage. Of course that can be tough in fantasy but for paranormal or urban fantasy that's the rule I follow. It adds depth and interest. When in doubt grab a book of baby names. I have several I use as references and they've been more than worth their weight in gold. Don't have a baby name book handy? There's always the internet. Find that balance between obscure and common and in the end, go with your heart.

Check out this great article by Writer's Digest on How To Give Your Character The Perfect Name: http://writersdigest.com/article/how-to-give-your-character-the-perfect-name/

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~Mercedes Yardley

I think I finally met someone who writes more than I do, well okay, maybe just as much. Mercedes Yardley and I met on a Twitter chat. She's funny, supportive to other writers, and has great taste in stories. Mercedes is a wife, mother, and an avid writer. Not only has she written a few novels, but she also writes poetry, short stories, essays, and nonfiction for Shock Totem: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted. As if that wasn't dedicated enough, she's also a member of SFWA or the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Mercedes is currently shopping her latest novel around.

Connect with Mercedes on her blog here: http://abrokenlaptop.wordpress.com/ which is full of her distinictive and well crafted writing.

And you can find her on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/mercedesmy
As a Twitter follow Mercedes is one of those people who connects with her followers and is supportive of writers and those who love reading.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday's Muse~More Elmore

This picture titled D&D Air Attack by the fabulous Larry Elmore has been inspiring me for many years. When I was a teenager I actually had a poster of it hanging on my wall. Now that poster is framed and hangs in my office. And you thought I wasn't a nerd, tsk, tsk. I visited Larry's website and was thrilled to see that he is teaching classes both on painting and drawing. If you are artistically inclined that way you should definitely check out his site. He is a master. I only wish I could do with a brush what I can do with words. You can also by prints of his work!

From the picture you may think it inspired me on my work in progress, The First Dragonwatcher, but it actually didn't. Those that read my Agent Critiqued Manuscript post know that I've been revising Grendar's Tale all week. Don't throw things at me for finishing in one week (please). The fixes were minor and I had the whole week off from work so I was working on my manuscript around the clock without interruption. The timing couldn't have been better.

My reading muse this week was of course Mistwood again and I didn't get much of it read since I was editing like a crazed woman. I wish I'd had more of a chance to read it because it is very inspirational.

This week's song was For the Love of a Princess from the Braveheart soundtrack. You can click on the title to check it out. So what inspired you this week?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

June's Debut Author~Shannon Delany

This month's featured debut author post is a bit late but there is an excellent reason for that, one I know you're going to love! June's featured debut author, Shannon Delany has not only stopped by for an interview but she was gracious enough to include Heather's Odyssey in her Start Your Day With Serial Blog Tour in which she's leaving behind snippets of her debut novel 13 To Life! So keep reading to learn more about Shannon, her novel 13 To Life, and to catch an excerpt!

You may remember my Twitter Tuesday post featuring Shannon back on May 4th. If not you can check it out here and hear all about how 13 To Life started as a textnovel! I'm so excited because I have been looking forward to Shannon's debut for several months now. Did I mention its about werewolves?!

First a bit about 13 To Life (used with permission from the author):

When junior Jess Gillmansen gets called out of class by Guidance, she can only presume it’s for one of two reasons. Either they’ve finally figured out who wrote the scathing anti-jock editorial in the school newspaper or they’re hosting yet another intervention for her about her mom. Although far from expecting it, she’s relieved to discover Guidance just wants her to show a new student around—but he comes with issues of his own including a police escort.

The newest member of Junction High, Pietr Rusakova has secrets to hide--secrets that will bring big trouble to the small town of Junction—secrets including dramatic changes he’s undergoing that will surely end his life early.

Welcome to Heather's Odyssey, Shannon! I'm thrilled that you could stop by and share the excitement of your debut book 13 To Life with us.

Thanks, Heather--I'm very glad to be here!

Was it hard expanding this from a textnovel into a full length novel?
I'm one of those folks who has no problem expanding a story (I blame my father's delightfully verbose ways for making me such). Most of the concepts were already in the textnovel version and getting the chance to expand my word count allowed me to deepen and strengthen my characters and insert some subtext, symbolism and spend some much needed time to set up additional subplots.

Would you use the abbreviated textnovel process again or do you think you'll write your next book fully fleshed out~no pun intended?
I like the textnovel method for starting because (if you're truly aiming for a cell phone novel format) you have to be very economical with your language and word use. It sort of forces you to think about the heart of the story again and again. There are definite advantages to writing a strong first draft with Textnovel.com.

What drew you to write 13 To Life as a young adult novel?

It was all the voice. I sort of hear (and see) the characters as they begin to emerge from the shadows of my mind (that dark region where I keep mathematical formulas I was forced to memorize along with the differences between ser and estar ;-). There was no doubt Jessie and Pietr would be teens.

What was your favorite part of the writing process?

My favorite part of the writing process occurs after I've gotten to know a bit about the characters and they sort of take over and ruin most of my plans with their personal agendas (selfish kids! ;-). I generally "watch" the story unfold and take on the role of journalist or biographer.

Your book is being called a tale of teenage love, loss and--oh yeah, werewolves! You had me at werewolves. Can you tell us a bit about it that we may not know from the synopsis on your website?

Sure! Here's what it's NOT. It's not love at first sight. It's not awash with horror and blood and hairy guys who sprout fangs and tails. It's not BFFs and magical teen love that'll always be butterflies and rainbows and somehow last forever.

It IS friendship and anguish and struggle and pain, sacrifice and snarky humor and twisted views of life and love and death. It's fear and tragedy and Shakespeare and transformation (in so many ways). The series is designed to be read at multiple levels (and 13 to Life's just the first in the series). Can you devour it quickly and enjoy it as an exciting romp in a paranormal realm? Yes. But you can also read it and consider the clues I drop, the red herrings who might or might not be "big bads" and you can try and answer the questions Jess most often raises for herself. It's really up to the individual reader.

Are there plans for another novel in the works? A sequel or stand alone perhaps?

At this point I'm finishing up my copyedits for the second novel in the 13 to Life series and getting ready to pretty much wrap things up with the third. I have other (vastly different) stories in the works and the 13 to Life series allows me wiggle room (and expansion possibilities) if we decide to go that direction at some future point. 13 to Life gives readers the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this series. Book 2 in the series rips open a wider view of a much weirder world than Jessie ever imagined.

Is there anything in the publishing process that surprised you?

Everything about the process surprised me. I heard the following things before Textnovel.com: 1.) it's impossible to get published in this economy, 2.) it's a nightmare trying to find a tolerable agent, 3.) big publishing houses just want to exploit authors. And yet (although I've heard many stories about authors who have had problems, I've been tremendously fortunate. My agent and editor are both very supportive and my publisher (and publicity and marketing contacts) are tremendous.

Any closing thoughts you'd like to leave us with?

Just that writers should take heart from my path of publication story. I'm a "Cyber Cinderella" and got published in part because I looked at non-traditional avenues to get traditionally published. So find voice, then find your own path. It can happen!

Thanks for hosting me, Heather! It's been a pleasure!

Thanks again for taking time out of your crazy debut schedule to join us its been a lot of fun and I've really enjoyed your visit. Now I'm off to order 13 To Life!

You can buy it here (among other places): http://search.barnesandnoble.com/13-to-Life/Shannon-Delany/e/9780312609146
Check out Shannon's site here: http://shannondelany.com/
To learn more about Shannon stop by her blog: http://13toLife.us/blog
And you can follow Shannon on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/Shannon_Delany

You didn't think I'd forget the snippet of 13 To Life Shannon left for you did I? Not a chance. First, be sure to check out the other snippets she's left behind on her tour. Here it is (used with permission from the author):

"And how do you think you'd do that? I know this school way better than you."

 He glanced at my hair just long enough I had to fidget with it. "I'd find you." He was so self-assured it angered me more.

 "Fine," I snapped, grabbing my pencil and glancing at the clock on the wall. "Let's just see how easy that'd be. I'll be at your next class," I added, folding his schedule and slipping it into my back pocket. "Meet me there."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Weekend Wolfy Fun

You may have noticed that I'm very late on featured a debut author this month. Don't release the hounds yet, I have a good excuse, one I think you're going to like.

Normally I don't blog on the weekend because I like to give my readers a chance to catch up on the posts I've written througout the week. Tomorrow is special though. Heather's Odyssey has the honor of hosting part of author Shannon Delany's Start Your Day With Serial tour! What on Earth does that mean? Since you asked, it's Shannon's brilliant idea of visiting several different blogs throughout June~her debut month~and leaving behind not only information about herself and her novel, but a snippet of her novel! If you follow the trail of blogs you'll get to read more than a little of 13 To Life! And of course, Shannon is June's featured debut author!

You can get up to date on all the excerpts and snippets she's left all over the blogosphere here: http://13-to-life-a-werewolf-tale.blogspot.com/2010/05/start-your-day-with-serial-links-to.html

Then be sure to stop by tomorrow to read all about Shannon, her debut novel 13 To Life, and pick up the bit in the bread crumb trail she leaves here...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Agent Critiqued Manuscript

When I got back from vacation I was thrilled to see an e-mail in my inbox regarding Grendar's Tale, the latest manuscript I'd sent off to my agent for consideration.

The first line of the comments read:
     "Heather has created a detailed and inventive fantasy world that looks good to intrigue a wide fantasy audience. The writing style is easily readable and involving."

Much squeeing commenced. Thank goodness I was home and not still in the hotel lobby on vacation. Folks would have thought me crazy. And they would have been right, crazy excited! Especially since that was followed by dancing around and chanting, "he likes it, he likes it!"

For those of you who are unagented I'll share a bit of mystery and let you in on what an agent critique is like. The thing to remember is that every agent is different so they way they critique your work is going to differ slightly from one agent to another. However, I'm on my second agent now and I've got to tell you, the critique isn't a thing like what I imagined. I always thought I'd get my printed manuscript back with red ink all over it. Boy was I wrong! That is very atypical now days so don't expect it.

First of all, our agents are NOT our editors and if you're expecting that level of critiquing, don't. My agent expects my work to be up to a level to where I need very minimal editing, more of a tweaking really. Most agents feel this way and won't accept your work until it's structurally sound with little to no grammar issues. They expect it because editors expect it. It's not that editors don't edit, they do, they just want authors who are at a level craft wise where all they have to focus on is the story. It's a tougher business than it ever has been, which is why it's so important to attend workshops, retreats, or classes to get your work up to par. Don't worry though, if grammar isn't your thing you can always use a reputable freelance editor before you submit. If you can avoid it though and use the money to learn to edit on your own, I highly recommend that route instead.

So what can you expect from your agent? A rare few will send the manuscript back red line edited others will send it via email with comments in the margins on what they'd like you to tweak or change. For the most part they'll be focusing on plot, pacing, and character arcs. Most agents send out a critique letter that is usually between 2~4 pages long and addresses the strong and weak points of the book as well as the changes they want to see. The critique letter has been my experience with both agents I've had.

Once I got past the excitement of Grendar's Tale being accepted I read thoroughly through the letter to see what my edits would involve. All things considered it wasn't bad. I have to do a bit of work on the supporting characters, tone down certain elements, spotlight others, and add a few chapters.

By the way, I have much love for my agent's critique format. The story elements (Mechanics, Characters, Structure, Market Value, and Film Production Value) are broken down on a scale and marked either Solid, Fair, Needs Work, or Rethink. I'm very happy to say I only got a few marks under Needs Work and no marks under Rethink! Most things fell between Solid and Fair. I'm completely happy with that but plan to work harder so that everything falls under Solid. I'm off to edit, happy writing everyone!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

An Exciting New Writer's Conference

If you're a regular here on Heather's Odyssey you've probably heard me rave about how you really should attend a writer's conference to help advance your writing career. You've heard me go on and on about everything I've learned at conferences and the wonderful connections I've made. And some of you, unfortunately, are bound by responsibilities or financial budgets and haven't been able to take my advice on attending conferences. My heart breaks for you, literally, because I hate to see people held back because they can't attend a conference. Today my heart is very happy though because I have an exciting announcement to share.

A group of six great authors have come up with the fabulous idea of putting on a free online writer's conference for kidlit writers. Elana Johnson, Casey McCormick, Jamie HarringtonLisa & Laura Roecker, and Shannon Whitney have put their heads together to create WriteOnCon. There are already a bunch of agents, editors, and authors who've signed on to participate. As long as your protagonist is eighteen or younger then this conference is for you! It's occuring August 10th ~ 12th so mark your calendars, check out the ladies websites, then run over to the link for WriteOnCon and find out all about this unprecidented opportunity! Writers, you don't want to miss this, it's going to be huge.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~Harley May


Harley May is one of the sweetest, funniest people I've met on Twitter. I love it whenever I see her avatar pop up on the site cause I know she's going to either make me smile, laugh, or think really hard. This is one writer who isn't afraid to share her thoughts and opinions, which can be kind of rare in today's world. Over the years Harley has moved around a lot, to the point where she actually attended seven different schools between kindgergarten and her senior year. Much of that time was spent in South Korea so you can imagine the stories and culture this lady has to share!

Harley is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, or SCBWI for short. She's currently working on editing a coming of age faery tale.

To learn more about Harley check out her website here: http://harleymay.com/  
And click here to connect with her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/harleymaywrites

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday's Muse~Green Valley

This incredible picture is called Environment: the Sun Light Of The Purple Vall and is by Green Valley. You can learn about it and the artist here: http://fantasyartdesign.com/free-wallpapers/digital-art.php?i_i=488&u_i=179&count=1  While it doesn't remind me specifically of a the current chapter I'm working on, it seemed to have the right mood. There was a serenity to it yet held that promise that something was happening. In this week's chapter my main character faces his biggest challenge so far, impressing a group of people who have every reason to doubt him and no reason to like him. By contrast he is in one of the most peaceful places imaginable.

I'm now reading Mistwood by Leah Cypess and am loving it! Her writing is like poetry, it flows eloquently and carries you along for the ride. Don't forget to stop by the contest link on the right for your chance to win this book!

The song for this week is The Gathering Of The Clans off the Braveheart soundtrack: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000V6MH3Q/ref=dm_mu_dp_trk8
 
On a side note, I want to say thank you to all my new followers, it's a pleasure to have you on the journey with me. I hope to keep you entertained and informed! And to my pre-existing (old sounds oh so bad) followers, much love for your continued friendship and awesome comments!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

When To Stop Editing

 Knowing when to stop editing and start sending their work out isn't easy for a lot of writers. It wasn't always easy for me. Many writers second guess themselves at every bend in the road to publication and because of it they may linger at the crossroads. Not only have I seen friends of mine caught at this crossroads, I've been caught there myself before.

The question is, how do you break the cycle and go down the right road? Or more importantly, how do you know when it's time to take that road to submission? Going it alone without help of any kind will almost always result in taking a left, right, or going back instead of forward. Or worse, it can result in going forward when your manuscript isn't ready. I've been guilty of both.

What do you do if you're going it alone as so many writers do? You've heard me say this before, attend conferences, workshps, retreats, any place where you can improve your craft. This will help build your confidence and prepare you so you will realize when you and your manuscript are ready. Can't afford to in this tight economy? Don't worry, there are other ways. Join a writer's group. Can't find one in your neighborhood? Join an online writer's community. Make friends there, start to assemble a critique group. I recommend Scribblerati but there are many great writers communities out there to choose from. With the advances in technology~email, Twitter, Facebook, Skype~you don't have to meet in person to have a critique group.

I have a wonderful critique group as many of you know, the Scribe Sisters, who help me in getting my manuscript polished and ready to go to my agent. Aside from them I have a five step editing process.

Step #1 A mini-edit. I handwrite everything first then put it in the computer that night or the next day and fix minor things like not enough description or grammar issues.
Step #2 Once the manuscript is completely done I do a read through edit of it on my computer and make note of any story issues I need to fix later. I also do a spellcheck and fix any grammar issues I see.
Step #3 I print the entire manuscript and take a red pen to it, fixing everything from character arc issues, to spelling, grammar, names, and description issues, to adding and deleting. Then I enter it into my computer.
Step #4 My critique group helps me with key chapters. The inciting incident, plot point 1, midpoint, plot point 2, and the climax. Then I enter changes into the computer.
Step #5 (this is a new one for me and if you don't do it, you MUST! I've discovered this step is worth the printed manuscript's weight in gold) I read the entire manuscript aloud to a beta reader/listener. And no, it is not my cat. I read to a person. You'd be surprised how much you catch this way when you're worried about what someone will think. I enter changes into the computer after every chapter I read.

Once I'm through this process I know I'm ready to send my manuscript out. Whatever method you use, just be sure you're moving forward. A stagnant writer is an unpublished writer.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Birthday and Contest Announcement

That's right, my blog turns one year old today! I can hardly believe it. Time flies when you're having fun and thanks to all of you I've been having a lot of fun. Since I started this blog I've landed a new agent, my young adult paranormal trilogy has gone on editor submission, and I've finished another book that my agent is now considering. It has been a very busy year, but a wonderful one!

Because it's Heather's Odyssey's birthday and all you wonderful followers have made my journey so enjoyable, I'm announcing a mid-year/birthday contest! I've picked some of my favorite books from 2010 (so far). Here's the plan: There is no minimum follower acheivement for the blog requirement or any other catch. At the end of July I shall throw all the entries into the Random List Generator and pick a winner! Just be a follower and leave me a comment letting me know you'd like to be entered into the contest. Here's the really great part, since I've read so many great books already this year I'm picking my three favorite and the winner gets to choose which book they'd like!

Let's get to the good stuff. Here are my top three favorite books of 2010 so far (one of which one lucky follower will get to choose!):

The YA paranormal 13 To Life By Shannon Delany. True, I haven't read the whole book yet but I've read enough of it to know that I'm going to LOVE it! If you haven't checked out Shannon's Serial With Breakfast blog tour you must go do so now! She's visiting blogs and leaving a chapter of 13 To Life on them for us to read! Click on her name and check it out, I'll wait until you get back. Now you see the genius that is Shannon!
 

The YA paranormal Under My Skin by Judith Graves. If you read my Monday post this week then you know just how brilliant I think this book is! If not go ahead and click over there, I'll wait. Don't want to just take my work for it? Click on Judith's name to learn more. See what I mean, you must get your hands on this book!


The YA paranormal fantasy Mistwood by Leah Cypess. I've just started reading this one but already I love it! Leah has a way with words that is almost poetic. She pulls you along the page and compells you until you have no choice but to read. As if I needed anything more compelling than a shifter in a fantasy setting! Click on Leah's name to see read the first three chapters of Mistwood!


Wanna hear the best part? Okay, free books is probably the best part, but this is almost as good. I've read a lot of books already this year and these three are absolutely the greatest, and~wait for it~they're all debut novels! How cool is that? There is a lot of talent entering the literary world this year. With a bit of luck, perhaps my books will be among them soon.  

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~Kristy Baxter

Kristy Baxter is a writer who loves writing (of course),the outdoors, music, oh yeah, and frog wrangling. Yep, you read that right, though you'll have to ask her about that one yourself! I've seen pictures and they're awesome. You'll definitely have to ask her about it! Like myself (and many other writers, maybe it's a writer thing) Kristy has a cat, though hers has a much more unique name than mine, Shakespeare, how awesome is that?!

Kristy's intriguing sounding young adult novel, currenlty titled Grim Light, is represented by Marlene Stringer of The Stringer Literary Agency.

As the frog wrangling probably cued you in, Kristy is a lot of fun. Follow her on Twitter and you'll see what I mean: https://twitter.com/kristophrenia
Check out Kristy's website here to learn more about her and follow her journey to publication: http://kristybaxter.com/

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday's Muse~May's Reads

I was so immersed in my own world~literally as I worked on The First Dragonwatcher~that I only read one book last month. However, if I had known I'd only be able to read one book I would have absolutely picked this one. Under My Skin by Judith Graves was like a high speed chase, full of excitement and hot guys. It is a young adult paranormal book set in a world that could very well be our own. The main character, Eryn, is spunky without falling into the tired snarky, clique, which is not easy to pull off anymore. Aryn has a rawness to her that makes her feel very genuine and makes you want to cry and celebrate along with her. For those who enjoy a good love triangle there is one in here, only it is understated very nicely so it doesn't dominate the novel. Of course my favorite part was the non-stop action. Because of it I think this book will appeal to both guys and girls in YA. The ending absolutely left me wanting more, in a good way.

The ultimate question, would I buy a sequel to this book? Yes, I absolutely will. In fact, I'll probably re-read it while I'm waiting for said sequel!

You can buy Under My Skin here, among other places: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Under-My-Skin/Judith-Graves/e/9781616030001
And follow Judith's adventures and keep an eye out for future novels from her here: http://www.judithgraves.com/

Friday, June 4, 2010

Approaching The Right Agent

"...there are a few things you can do to that may get you into a better pile-or at least a better position within the slush." ~The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman.

As my friends are all arriving at William Bernhardt's annual writing workshop my thoughts have turned to approaching the right agent. Your querying success depends so much upon this that I cannot stress the importance of it enough. With the state the economy and everyone's finances lately this becomes even more important when choosing which conference you should attend.

Before registering for a conference because it's in a convenient location or is an old favorite, make sure there are agents attending that you want to~or more importantly, should~see. If the conference can't guarantee which agent you get to see that is a serious downside and a reason you may want to reconsider that conference. Let's face it, driving or flying a great distance, at great expense, just to end up seeing an agent who doesn't even represent your genre, is probably a waste of your time.

Research conferences carefully and then research the agents in attendance even more carefully. Make sure there is an agent there who is a good match for you, and not just because they represent your genre. Check the attending agents out on line. Do they have a blog? If so read through it and find out as much about them as you can. Many will talk on their blogs about how they like their submissions. Some even post successful query letters. You can get a great feel for what an agent is like by reading their blog. Don't forget to check Twitter as well. Just remember, many people use Facebook or MySpace type networks for family connections, not work connections, so I don't recommend looking them up there unless their agency has a page.

After a pay cut, a freeze, and furloughs (unpaid days off) were implemented at work, I had to be very careful about my selection of conferences. Which meant I didn't get to go hang out with my friends in Tulsa this weekend. And, I have an agent so that really complicated things~in a good way. You know me though, I couldn't just sit on the sidelines and let him do all the work. So, in less than three weeks now I'll be meeting with publishing house editors in New York! You can bet I did my research on them!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

An Author's Image

As the NYC Pitch & Sell Conference approaches I've been thinking a lot about an author's image, mine in particular. What am I going to wear to the conference? How should I do my hair? What should I take with me? All of that reflects who I am. First impressions can make or break you, especially in a situation like this and I'm acutely aware of that as I rifle through my wardrobe. Those of you who have attended a conference know just how much stress this can cause. Should you worry about your appearance? Yes and no.

You are who you are and the agent or publisher isn't buying into you, they're buying into your work. Ah but wait, now days an author doesn't get to sit around the house in a pair of comfy sweats, drink coffee, and write their life away. Don't worry, there's much of that to be done, but an author has to wear more hats now than ever before. Publishers are doing less and less promotion. That is falling to the author more every day. You'll be doing book signings, book readings, speaking at conferences, retreats, and book related events. Anymore it isn't just your book the publisher is investing in, it's you as well.

The industry is getting tougher. Fewer books are being picked up and fewer writers are finding agents. You have to stand out. Not just your book but your image must be something they think they can sell. How often do your hear, 'build your writer's platform now'? All the time. That's why so many of us blog, to connect with others and build that platform. While image may not be about what you wear to the conference or how you style your hair, it is about how you come across online. Always be aware of that and know that someday what you say on line could be seen by an agent or publisher considering you.

Needless to say, I won't be wearing my sweat pants or even blue jeans. I'll be ironing my best business casual outfits, gathering everything I need to take in a presentable package, and putting my best foot forward (which will not be clad in my hiking boots). I don't feel like I'm misrepresenting myself by doing this. I have a business side and this is the time when it needs to come out. While writing can be a hobby or pastime, becoming an author is a business, one I intend to be very successful at. And you know what they say about success, dress for it!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

All About ARC's

With fantastic events like Book Expo America (BEA) going on I've seen a lot of discussion about ARC's across the internet. For those who don't know, an ARC~otherwise known as an advanced reader copy~is an advanced copy of an upcoming book meant for distribution for the purpose of promotion. When you get published you'll get a certain number of copies~amount is determined by your publisher~of your book in ARC form to give out to whomever you see fit. We're not just talking friends and family here, though hopefully you'll have enough to give out to them as well! ARC's benefit the author most when put into the hands of booksellers who will hopefully like it and then order the books, or to book reviewers who will review and support it, and of course to fans.

Most ARC's say somewhere on them 'promotional copy, not for sale', so you should never see them at a reputable book seller. It's illegal to sell ARC's, and a bad idea if you like the author at all. Authors and their publishers do not profit from ARC's. In fact, ARC's cost the publisher money to make and distribute, money they don't get back. It's an investment, like any promotional act.

If you can't buy them, then how do you get a hold of an ARC? BEA is all about book promotion so if you're lucky enough to get in then you can walk away with bags of ARC's. Most people who attend BEA are authors and booksellers, the people ARC's are really made for. But don't worry fans and book lovers, you can also win ARC's in contests on the websites of authors or book reviewers. When it get's close to release time for a book from your favorite authors be sure to frequent their website to check for contests!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~Karlene Petitt

Today I'm featuring someone who is not only a great friend of mine, but a member of my critique group, the Scribe Sisters. Karlene and I met at the 2009 Hawaii Writer's Retreat. The friendship between she and I~along with the other two members of our critique group~developed instantly and we knew we had to keep in touch. We met up the following year at William Bernhardt's writer's workshop and our bond solidified into something we knew would last a lifetime. Since then the four of us have been e-mailing each other nearly everyday and have shared the journey from critiquing our novels, to our synopsis, to our query letters.

Karlene is a very special lady. She inspires me to see the bright side of nearly every situation and to find the good in the world around me. Though she is working on a thriller, Karlene writes across the genre board, and even writes some fantastic inspirational material. I've now convinced her that as a wonderful mother and grandmother she would make a fantastic young adult author. I can't wait to read what she comes up with! She also loves to write aviation training programs. Yep, aviation. Karlene is a pilot, which kind of makes her my hero. The amount of years she's been flying would blow you away. She has eight airlines under her belt and now flies for Delta.

If you need inspiration or are up for an adventure, you've got to follow this lady. Jump on board now because her writing career will soon be as successful as her career as a pilot!

Check out Karlene's personal blog here: http://karlenepetitt.blogspot.com/
You can also find her on the Scribe Sisters blog here: http://scribesisters.blogspot.com/
And on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/KarlenePetitt