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Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday's Muse~San Diego State Writers' Conference

It may seem odd that a writers' conference was my muse last week but it was a special kind of conference. There are no expletives that can accurately express just how great this conference was for me. I've been to several different conferences and this is the first time I've had this type of experience.

The evening of our arrival we attended a no host cocktail mixer. I've been to these at other conferences before. Usually you stand around and chat with a few other writers and sip on your drink until you get bored and leave. Not at the San Diego State conference. Agents and editors (identifiable by the red lanyards they wore) wandered around and engaged people in conversation.

The next day I was shocked to discover that the consultations were ten minutes long. Anyone who has participated in a pitch slam (1-3 minutes of an agent's time) can appreciate just how precious and rare ten minutes is. The lectures were informative and engaging as well. Lunch was another opportunity to network like never before, with agents or editors at every table. Such was the atmosphere all weekend. If I didn't get to pitch to someone there was plenty of opportunity to find them at lunch, dinner, cocktails, or in lectures. They were always open to hearing about people's books.

At most conferences I've been to you are highly discouraged from approaching agents and editors outside of your pitch session. It was the opposite here. Of course pitching in the bathroom was still frowned upon (I can't imagine anywhere where it wouldn't be!) but it was encouraged and even initiated by the agents and editors everywhere else. I would absolutely recommend this conference to anyone who is serious about getting published. And oh yeah, I got a full request from a fabulous agent, two invitations from remarkable editors to send a partial, and a third request from an outstanding editor to contact her when I was ready.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

HOT Mug Blogfest

As you know I don't normally participate in blogfests. Though I love reading them I don't usually have the time to write them. But this one hosted by one of my favorite set of bloggers, Erica & Christy, I couldn't pass up. This is the Hot Mug Blogfest in which we're supposed to show our favorite mug and give a little story behind why it's our favorite.

This mug was a special gift from a dear friend who went above and beyond to support me. Anytime I'm feeling down or like I need a little extra encouragement this is the mug I reach for. Last year I attended a writer's conference in New York. It was my first time going to the Big Apple and I was going alone.

Though she couldn't attend the conference with me, my critique sister Karlene Petitt hitchhiked on a flight (she's a pilot) and met me in New York for dinner. She brought me chocolates from Belgium and this beautiful mug as a memento of my trip. This mug will always be special to me, not because I got it in New York, but because my dear friend flew across the United States to show her support for me and gave this to me as a gift. I smile every time I take it out of the cabinet. How could I not? Be sure to stop by Erica & Christy's blog to read all the other great entries!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

San Diego State Writers' Conference

This weekend my critique sisters and I are off to San Diego for the San Diego State Writers' Conference. It appears to be a conference of a different flavor. Like any other conference we'll get to attend lectures and workshops on the craft of writing and on the publishing industry. What seems to make it stand apart is the way they utilize meals and downtimes as further networking and mingling. During those times the faculty will be available to us on a casual basis to talk to. Most conferences I've been to are strict about not bothering the faculty at all when you aren't in a workshop or specific meeting with them so I'm really looking forward to this alternative way of conferencing.

Another unique feature is what they call the Advanced Reading Appointment. If you add this feature to your conference experience then you get to send in the first ten pages of your manuscript and it is read by an editor often from a major publishing house of your choice. They read your work prior to the conference and then you have a ten minute meeting with them during the conference to discuss it. This is the only conference I've come across that gives you this kind of advanced reading and access to an editor. There are also more traditional type of consultation appointments available where you get the chance to discuss your book with an agent or an editor.

My fingers are crossed that this conference turns out as amazing as it sounds.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Twitter Tuesday~Agent Advice & WriteOnCon

I caught a lot of great advice on Twitter last week that I've been dying to share with you! This first one is an even that occurred yesterday and I hope those of you looking for an agent had a chance to attend! It is the first WriteOnCon event of the year!
@ElanaJ The January Live Event announcement is up. #WriteOnCon starts the New Year with Pippin!! http://tiny.cc/5suhc #amwriting

Writer's Digest shares this advice with us on how to write a synopsis for a novel with multiple important characters:
@WritersDigest How to write a synopsis when you have a lot of characters: http://tinyurl.com/48bebqm  #writing

Agent Vickie Motter gives us a bit of great advice on why it's a good idea to come up with a great title:
@Vickie_Motter Why your title can't suck: http://www.urltwit.com//39j

Agent Weronika Janczuk gives us some excellent advice on signing with an agent:
@WeronikaJanczuk Advice on signing with an agent: http://bit.ly/hx8VZ0 .

Agent Ginger Clark let's us know about following up after submission:
@Ginger_Clark Authors: just had an author email me to confirm I have her MS--and I never got it via email. It is OK to follow up some weeks after subbing.

Agent Vickie Motter gives us a bit of advice on what she doesn't want to see in a query:
@Vickie_Motter #queries If one more person makes a joke about how their vampires don't sparkle, I might throw my laptop.

Agent Jennifer Laughran reminds us that we're under the public eye when submitting:
@literaticat When should authors on submission keep their traps shut? Well, almost always, actually. http://tinyurl.com/4cxthyh

My writer friend Jennifer Shirk gives us a great heads up on something to watch out for when submitting:
@JenniferShirk Best Solution Author Agency (or, Beware of Agent Solicitations) http://t.co/Ss3ovRJ  #agenttip #writing

For anyone who had the chance to participate in the WriteOnCon chat I mentioned in the first tweet I'd love to hear about how it went! Unfortunately, I had to work. :( But knowing the wonderful ladies behind WriteOnCon (such as Elana!) I know there will be many more chances to catch some fantastic events this year!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday's Muse~Internal & External Threats

This brown bear helped inspire me last week and reminded me that not all threats are as obvious as they seem. In the case of this chapter is isn't the physical threat my main character needs to worry about but the emotional one that arises after the situation. I love working external threats into internal threats and really putting my characters to the test. This main character is turning out to be my favorite so far, but don't tell the others! Oh yeah, and I entered Trouble With The Dragon Empire into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest last night. Wish me fabulous luck! I'm going to need it with all the great competition.

I'm still reading Rampant because I'm just that slow of a reader when I'm working on a new novel. Don't take my slow reading as a reflection on how Rampant is though. It is a unique story that keeps you moving along and I'm really enjoying it. Many days I've had to leave it in another room so I wouldn't pick it up and sneak a few pages in between writing.

As my novel is growing more intense I'm finding myself listening to a lot of the Braveheart soundtrack. If you've never heard it you really need to. It's my go to soundtrack music for intense writing situations. Last week's song was Attack On Murron. What inspired you last week? And have you ever worked external threats together with internal threats in your manuscript?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Writer With A Perfect Plan

Today I came across a post by my good writer friend Anne Riley who is agented and has exhausted all options of submitting her novel to publishers, but she is not losing hope. Sometimes even an agent can't get your book sold. It happens, in fact, it happened to me. But Anne decided not to accept the idea of shelving her novel. She spoke with her agent about self-publishing and guess what? Her agent said go for it!

Why do I think someone self publishing is so wonderful? Because, Anne's book has been thoroughly edited over and over again and it is good, good enough to land an agent. When you get an agent they go through the book with you thoroughly enough that it is highly polished for a publisher. But then it's up to the publishers and they, like agents, are often looking for something specific. Your book can be fabulous and not make it onto their list. Many of the editor (publisher) rejections I received myself were glowing about how they enjoyed the book but it just wasn't right for their lineup at the time. And you know what that means. A lot of really good novels are passed up.

Anne's novel, The Clearing, is one of those novels that is more than good enough for publishers, it just didn't make the cut due to specific wants of the publisher at the time. I hope you'll join me in ordering a copy when it becomes available. This is going to be a fantastic book! You can check out Anne's post on it here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Writer's Platform Vs. Writer's Foundation

Should you be building a writer's platform or a foundation? What's the difference and why should you care? All good questions. Chances are you've heard the term writer's platform and you know that it's an important part of preparing for becoming an author. A platform is what it sounds like, the thing you'll stand upon to bring readers to you and sell your novels. For some people they find that in blogging, others find it in Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, or some other social network. You must choose what works for you and go with it. But there is an important factor that is often skipped.

Before you can build a platform, a floor, you must have a solid foundation to build that floor on. Without a foundation your platform will be shaky, weak, and subject to all manner of disasters. Don't worry or cringe at the idea of yet more work, chances are you've been working on your foundation and you don't even know it. It is a solid base of friends, family, and/or supporters who will stick with you through thick and thin. You can meet them in person at conferences, writer's retreats, or workshops. You can also meet them online through the various social media sites. The difference between building a platform with this people and a foundation is commitment.

You have to give as much as you get, more if at all possible. When you 'friend' everyone on your social media sites who you think or hope might some day buy your book, you're working on a platform (and a shaky one at that). But when you commit to support and befriend people for real then you're building a foundation. You must always remember not to look forward to just dollar signs, but connections. Make connections, support others you feel passionate about, and it will all come together in the end.
 
Join me on the #WritersRoad chat on Twitter tomorrow January 19th at 6:00pm PT when we'll be discussing this! For a link click on the picture of the #WritersRoad on the sidebar.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Twitter Tuesday~Contest & #Pubtips

If you write literary fiction you don't want to miss Chuck Sambuchino's contest! It's judged by agent Lindsey Clemons:
@ChuckSambuchino Agent Lindsey Clemons is judging a free contest for writers of literary fiction: http://tinyurl.com/2euvlwt

Agent Weronika Janczuk gives us a bit of golden advice that will help keep you sane while you're submitted:
@WeronikaJanczuk Write something new when you're querying. Always. It's beneficial for an agent to work with writers with multiple mss done. #pubtip

Weronika gives us a bit more great advice on the ever popular #pubtip hashtag:
@WeronikaJanczuk If you query widely and one agent asks for an exclusive, you are free to decline to give it, out of courtesy for the others. #pubtip

If you're submitting or about to be, you NEED to read this. Agent Natalie Fischer gives us some tips on what not to do in a query:
@Natalie_Fischer The absolute WORST things to do in a query (or, how to annoy the hell out of an agent): http://bit.ly/g85Zod

Super agent Deirdre Knight gives us a heads up on what not to put in a query:
@DeidreKnight Pub tip: Don't include your protagonist's physical description in query or pitch unless it relates to the plot. #pubtip #askagent

Curious about the changing book industry and what it will mean for agents? Check this out:
@WritersDigest The Agent’s Role in Today’s Digital Book World, via @Kid_Lit -- http://bit.ly/h6QlBf

Looking up at the Twitter links I'm kind of amazed at all the different tweets from great people that I came across! It just goes to show that it pays off to follow a variety of people on Twitter. Or to just check my Twitter Tuesday's. ;-)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday's Muse~Dark Places

Sometimes it's in the darkest places that you find the light you've been searching for. My main character discovered that last week. The tension is ratcheting up and the stakes are increasing as I tip over the midpoint of this novel and start the climb to the finale. I can hardly believe I'm getting so close. I'm guessing I have less than 20,000 words to go. I haven't had to worry about a sagging middle on this one. It has just flowed right along naturally. I love it when that happens!

The novel Rampant is definitely holding my interest and filling my head with all kinds of interesting ideas. Diana is a crafty writer who knows just how to suck her readers in. At first I thought, killer unicorns, really? I had to read it just to see how crazy it was. And it's really good!

I'm listening to a lot of classic rock n'roll but I attribute that more to my new favorite show, Supernatural, rather than last week's chapter. The one that I listened to that fits best with last week's chapter would have to be Fear Of The Dark by Iron Maiden. 

What inspired you last week? Have you read anything recently that you weren't sure you'd like and it surprised you?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Double Giveaway for Best of 2010

Now that the holidays are over it's time for a book giveaway! I read some really good books in 2010 and most of them were debut novels, which is exciting because that means I have a lot of new authors to look forward to reading in the future. This is a two part giveaway with two different prizes to two different winners. You must be a blog follower and must comment to win. The first prize is a copy of Grave Witch by Kalayna Price. This is an adult urban fantasy novel and it was one of the best adult novels I read in 2010. If you'd like to enter to win Grave Witch leave me a comment and let me know that's the one you're interested in.

The second prize is a novel of your choice from the list of debut YA authors I featured in 2010. To enter to win one of these novels you must be a blog follower and must leave me a comment stating which one you'd like to win. Email addresses can come later. Here are the books:

Under My Skin by Judith Graves 
Mistwood by Leah Cypess 
The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard 
13 To Life by Shannon Delany
Change Of Heart by Sheri Maurer  
The Tension Of Opposites Kristina McBride  
Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus  
Losing Faith by Denise Jaden  
Freaksville by Kitty Keswick  
Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell  

Best of luck to all who enter! The drawing will be done and the winners announced on February 3rd. I use Random.org to determine all my contest winners.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Twitter Tuesday~Writers Digest Conference Agents & #QueryTips

If you're submitting or getting ready to then I have a treat for you this week! I happened to catch a literary intern friend of mine who was handing out fantastic #querytips like Halloween candy! First a few other tweets I came across though. This one is by agent Weronika Janczuk and shows just how busy an agent's day can be:
@WeronikaJanczuk To do: reply to client's ?s re: edits; reply to other emails; work on publicity/marketing hdbk; read slush mss, client ms, #queries; write.

Agent Jennifer Laughran gives us a heads up on a YA Novel Workshop:
@literaticat Kickstart Your YA Novel Workshop at Books Inc. with @kristen_tracy and @nina_lacour http://conta.cc/hxC7ey

Here's something you'll hopefully need soon, an email list for marketing your novel:
@AngelaAckerman How Authors & Writers Can Build An Email List For Marketing - http://bit.ly/cHxmc5 @thecreativepenn

Writers Digest gives us a heads up on the awesome agents attending their conference this month, along with their Twitter handles! (Tip, agents are excellent to follow on Twitter for advice and tips!):
@WritersDigest Awesome lit agents @ WD Conf, Jan 21-23, http://tinyurl.com/3x7jt5w - @4writers @ChrisRichman @EpsteinLiterary @FolioLiterary @Janet_Reid
@WritersDigest (More!) lit agents @ WD Conf, Jan 21-23, http://tinyurl.com/3x7jt5w - @jasonashlock @kate_mckean @kid_lit @WolfsonLiterary @trydzinski
@WritersDigest (Even more!) lit agents @ WD Conf, Jan 21-23, http://tinyurl.com/3x7jt5w - @amachinist @Tor_intheory @RivetingRosie @sztownsend81 @KOrtizzle
@WritersDigest (Still more!) lit agents @ WD Conf, Jan 21-23, http://tinyurl.com/3x7jt5w - @JoSVolpe @sarahlapolla @Emmanuelle15 @louisefury @ElisabethWeed
@WritersDigest (MORE!) agents @ WD Conf, Jan 21-23, http://tinyurl.com/3x7jt5w - @daniellechiotti @LoriPerkinsRR @brandibowles @mcorvisiero @michellebrower

These guest features on Chuck Sambuchino's blog are always a good read:
@WritersDigest How I Got My Agent: Laura Spinella - "How I Got My Agent" is a recurring feature on the GLA blog. Some tales are of ... http://ow.ly/1aJj7N

And the fabulous literary intern Amanada Johnson's #querytips:
@AC_Johnson89 Tell me about your book. Don't tell me themes or that its about a boy whose life changes because of Destiny. Give me the STORY. #querytips
@AC_Johnson89 Don't ATTACH your query. the majority of agents don't open unsolicited attachments. #querytips
@AC_Johnson89 The phrase "I have recently completed..." makes me nervous. It sounds like you probably haven't had time to edit, personally. #querytips
@AC_Johnson89 Plot is essential. I don't know you have it unless you include it in your query. #querytips
@AC_Johnson89 Do not query agents who do not represent your genre and/or age group. RESEARCH. #querytips
@AC_Johnson89 Rhetorical questions most often make me respond with "Do I care?" or "No." Is that what you want? #querytips
@AC_Johnson89 There is a line between being mysterious (which makes me curious) and being vague (which is obnoxious). Do not be vague. #querytips
@AC_Johnson89 Your query is important. Don't pitch your book in 3 sentences if you can do it better in 6 or 13. Take your time; do it right. #querytips
@AC_Johnson89 Publishing credentials only really help you if they're from something we've heard of. #querytips

With all that it's hard to imagine I missed anything but as happening as Twitter is, I'm certain I did! Let me know if there's a great tweet you caught that you'd like to add. I hope you find these helpful!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday's Muse~Complications

Things started to get really complicated for my main character last week when this lad showed up. Everything she thought she knew about her enemy is challenged and she has to face some pretty uncomfortable situations. For those of you who don't know this is a picture of the late Heath Ledger in his younger years when he starred in the television show Roar. The picture was so close to my secondary antagonist that it was eerie when I came across it. That's right, secondary antagonist. This is the first time I've wrote a novel with two. It's both challenging and a lot of fun. I've reached the 50,000 mark, whoo hoo!

Sadly I decided to set aside Voices of Dragons. It just wasn't pulling me in enough to stick with it. However, I will probably give it another try at a later time when my patience isn't so short. I hate giving up on reading a book. I've started reading Rampant by Diana Peterfreund, a novel about killer unicorns. Really. It has already pulled me in and caught my interest.

The song that I listened to again and again while writing last week's chapter was Fear Of The Dark by Iron maiden. It may seem like an odd choice but it was oh so fitting with what was going on in the chapter. What inspired you last week? Have you made any progress on your writing lately?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

January Feature Debut Author~Beth Revis

As a lover of great science fiction this month's debut is special to me. It is Beth Revis and her breathtaking young adult science fiction novel, Across The Universe. Before we welcome Beth, first a bit about Across The Universe:

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awake on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into a brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.


 
Doesn't that just make you ache for the book? Welcome to Heather's Odyssey Beth! Thank you so much for joining us. There is a painful shortage of Sci-Fi in the young adult genre. I'm so thrilled that you've added this excellent book to the ranks of great YA. What compelled you to write a YA Sci-Fi?
Beth: I did not originally set out to write science fiction. I had an idea for a story--it's the twist at the end of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE--and in order to write that story, I needed a space ship setting. Everything--the characters, the plot, the setting--came from that one idea for the end of the story.

Wow, that had to have been an interesting endeavor then! It makes me very curious as to what your favorite part of writing this book was?
Beth: Getting to that twist! It was all the way at the end, and I had to write to get to it.
 
That has to be fun to know the end and be so eager to get to it. Can you tell us a bit about Across The Universe that we may not know from your website?
Beth: Hmmm...I revealed a lot of secret stuff about the novel in the telescope hidden link (click the link in the telescope and type the password: seekthetruth). Something new...well, there's a scene in the book where Amy eats food on the ship. I added that scene specifically for my friend, Heather because she's cooked recipes from books before and I wanted her to do it for mine.

I love that special touch, that's excellent! Will Across The Universe be a stand alone or can we expect a sequel? If there isn't going to be a sequel do you have another novel in the works?
Beth: Across the Universe is a trilogy! I just finished the rough draft of Book 2, and have an idea of what's going to happen in Book 3.

That's fantastic! I've got to ask, is there anything in the publishing process that surprised you?
Beth: It all surprises me. How fast some things are, how slow others are. How kind everyone is. How amazingly wonderful the whole writing community can be.

I know exactly what you mean about the community. It's pretty amazing! Any closing thoughts to leave us with?
Beth: Keep writing! I wrote for ten years--and wrote ten novels--before I found the right one at the right time.

Thank you so much for joining us Beth and thank you for writing such a fabulous science fiction young adult novel! I can hardly wait to see what you have in store for us next in the series. Hurry over here peeps and pre-order Across The Universe for someone you love or even for yourself. Believe me, you'll want to be in on the book everyone will be talking about next year!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Twitter Tuesday~Agent & Editor Advice & #WritersRoad

It was a light week for writers on Twitter last week. I think everyone was still recovering from the holidays, I know I was! Here are a few great tweets I managed to catch. The first one is from Writer's Digest to an excellent reoccurring post on Chuck Samubuchino's blog about writers and what they've learned so far:
@WritersDigest 7 Things I've Learned So Far, by writer Danica Davidson: http://tinyurl.com/293wx9o

Here is a bit of advice from the editor of the up and coming publisher Egmont:
@EgmontGal Tip #1: Follow agents' guidelines to the letter, Don't write "requested ms" on envelope when submitting to pub #askYAed (itor)

The editor of Egmont shares with us the trends she is predicting:
@EgmontGal I predict we will see a resurgence of the middle grade novel AND of realistic YA--but historical fiction, not yet in 2011 #askYAed (itor)

Jennifer Laughran of the Andrea Brown Literary graciously offers an open thread on her blog that you don't want to miss!
@literaticat OK guys and dolls - it's OPEN THREAD TIME! Have a question about publishing/agenting/books/life? ASK AWAY, here: http://tinyurl.com/2br4hlt

Don't forget to join me on Twitter this Thursday at 6:00pm~7:00pm Pacific Time for the first #WritersRoad chat. We'll be discussing the journey along the writer's road. Authors Alissa Grosso (Popular debuting this May), Leah Cypess (Mistwood), Judith Graves (Under My Skin), Kristina McBride (The Tension of Opposites), Kristie Cook (Promise), and Krissi Dallas (Phantom Island: Wind) are all going to try to attend. There will also be several represented writers in attendance, possibly a few literary interns and who knows who else might drop by. Click here to join us or click on the new picture I've posted for the chat on my sidebar. Hope to see you there!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Monday's Muse~Darkest Fear

Last week I passed the 40k mark on my work in progress and my protagonist finally got her first look at the antagonist who until this point in her life had only been the subject of scary stories told around the hearth fire. The full horror of what she is up against finally hits her and she realizes that sometimes reality is much worse than stories. From the picture I found that inspired me you can get a small taste of how imposing of a figure the antagonist is.

I'm a good fifty pages into Voices of Dragons and it just isn't pulling me in yet. Have any of you read it? I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. At this point I'm not sure if I'll stick with it so if you've read it and it get's better let me know!

Last week I listened to a new CD I received for Christmas so I've been listening to it a lot. It's by Lisa of Celtic Woman. What inspired you last week? Were you able to get back into the writing groove easily after the holidays?

If you know who the artist of this alluring painting is please let me know so I can give them credit! I searched all over but couldn't figure out who it was done by.