Showing posts from May, 2010

Monday's Muse~Veteran's Day

This picture of the Vietnam Memorial has always touched me deeply so I thought it would be a very appropriate picture for this Monday's Muse. I wish I knew who painted it so I could give them credit, but I despite my research I couldn't find out who. If you know please leave me a comment and I'll give them credit. My father served in Vietnam and though he didn't die in the war, he died because of it many years later. It was cancer caused by exposure to the chemical agent orange. Many of the soldiers who survived Vietnam and the severe PTSD that followed, finally succumbed one of the numerous cancers caused by this chemical. So what does this have to do with my writing muse? And how on earth can something so depressing be inspiring? Since you asked. . . Like pictures, writing is all about the emotions it evokes in us. Actors often use powerful events in their own lives to elicit emotion when they need it. We writers can, and should, do the same thing. Emotion is what

Friday's Food For Thought

"Agents and editors often ignore synopses and plot outlines; instead, we skip right to the actual manuscript. If the writing is good, then we'll go back and consider the synopsis. If not, the manuscript is discarded." ~ The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman .

Creating The Perfect Pitch Part 2

Part of my pre-conference homework assignment for the NYC Pitch and Sell conference  was to research five book jackets of novels in my genre. The reasoning behind this was to help in the development of my person to person pitch. At first I didn't really see how that would help. The written word can be very different from the spoken word. But they're the experts so I did my homework. After I wrote the first draft of my person to person pitch I picked five young adult novels off my bookshelf at home and read the jackets. It amazed me how straight to the point they were. Of course they all had a great hook sentence that makes the reader sit up and pay attention. Then they teased on a few of the most interesting points of the book and really made you want to start flipping pages. And, they made me want to throw the first draft of my pitch into the fireplace. My wonderful critique group, the Scribe Sisters , were lifesavers. They metaphorically rescued my pitch from the flames a

Celebrating Your Friends' Success

This post is all about celebrating the success of your friends. Things are tough in the literary world right now. Books are taking months, sometimes longer to sell to publishers. Agents are being far more discerning than they've ever been, taking on fewer and fewer new clients. But don't let this discourage you. This is the perfect time to reap the benefits of all the social networking you've been doing (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc.). The best part about the writing community is that when one of us succeeds we can all celebrate. Every success is a sign that things are getting better, books are selling, and agents are taking on new clients. Today I have several fantastic announcements to make so you can all celebrate the success of my friends. You may have heard me mention a few of them but they're worth mentioning again since we're celebrating today. Earlier this month my friend, Frankie Mallis, received an offer of representation from Laura Rennert of the An

Twitter Tuesday~Nikki Katz

Today's Tuesday shoot out is a writer (of course) and so much more. Nikki Katz is not just a represented writer and mom but also a rocket scientist, yep, for real. She just received an offer of representation for her young adult urban fantasy novel currently titled Shoreline. Nikki has also been a freelance writer for over ten years! With this lady's dedication to the craft I have no doubt we'll soon be celebrating a book deal with her. Nikki and I started following each other after a Twitter chat a while back. She isn't the type to ramble on aimlessly and fill up your Twitter page with miscellaneous stuff and I love that about her. Whenever she does tweet I know it's about something I'm going to have to read. Don't worry, she's far from boring though! Nikki is always quick to share writing advice and experience and share her successes and failures. If you're looking for someone to truly connect with you've got to check her out. You can find

Monday's Muse~Main Character Inspiration

My new main character bares a resemblance to the actor  Kellan Lutz . Kellan may not have my MC's shoulder length brown hair (which he cuts later in the book for practical reasons), green eyes, or tropical tan, but he's close enough to be inspiring. I'm sure Kellan is at least in his early twenties but there aren't many seventeen year old actors out there that are built like my character. A hard life of fighting and swinging a battle ax around just isn't something the teenagers of this world really have to do much! Thank goodness. I did mention it's young adult fantasy didn't I?! I'm still reading pages of Unders My Skin when I get a chance but I'm also trying to tackle Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel at the same time. Reading is slow going since I'm in full swing writing mode. This week's song off my playlist is Patience by Guns & Roses. Yep, really. Check it out here:

In My Mailbox~Werewolves And Vampires

I'm really excited about getting my hands on both of these books and not just because they involve werewolves and vampires, though that definitely doesn't hurt! These authors are both exceptionally good. Blood Promise  by Richelle Mead  is book four in the Vampire Academy series. Don't let the title fool you though, it is anything but clique and it's the best vampire series I've read in a long time. Not to mention the main character Rose is unforgettable and wonderfully flawed, the kind of character you root for and cry for. Many of you may remember my feature of  Leah Cypess as April's featured debut author. Well I've finally got my hands on her book Mistwood  and I'm so excited! I'm not going to lie, I've peeked at it and her writing has threatened to suck me in despite the fact that I'm reading another book right now. I can tell I'm going to love it. On a side note I have to shout out congratulations to a friend of mine, Robin Mel

When To Start An Author's Website

Once I landed an agent I really struggled with the decision of when to start an author's website. I had a conversation with my agent about it and he said to go ahead if I wanted to but that many wait until their book is picked up by a publisher. He also said that some of his published client's still don't have websites. It was an individual decision he said based on what the author wants to accomplish with the website. That made me really think hard on what I wanted to accomplish with a website. I realized I wanted to connect with readers, get to know them, I wanted to help other writers who were on a journey to getting published, and I wanted to support debut authors. A friend advised me to look at a few of my favorite author's websites. That's when I realized I didn't have any. Then I had to ask myself why. The question was pretty simple, though I loved their books their sites didn't offer me anything. Even as a reader I want a more personal connection,

Pitching In Person

This June I'm attending the NYC Pitch and Sell Conference in New York, which means I'll be pitching my manuscript to editors. Editors . Just typing that, let alone saying it nearly makes me break out in a sweat. This is a different kind of conference. There aren't any tutorial workshops here save for the one's on perfecting your pitch, and there are no agents in attendance. This conference is for writers who have a highly polished manuscript that is ready to put in the hands of editors who work for publishing houses. I know what you're thinking. You already have an agent Heather, why bother? Surely he'll be pitching it to them. True, he has pitched it to them. In fact, it's sitting on the desk of five of the attending editors. So why am I bothering? I met my agent at a conference and I think that person to person conversation made a world of difference. I knew immediately how professional and hardworking he was, and I knew that we clicked. If I hadn't

Twitter Tuesday~Kerrie Flanagan

For my new followers, Twitter Tuesday is a special feature I do on people I've found through Twitter that are great to follow. Kerrie Flanagan and I met during a Twitter chat in which the subject of writer's conferences came up and we've been following each other since. Kerrie is encouraging and supportive and always tweets great links that are helpful to writers, and she's a very sweet lady. She also made me aware of the Northern Colorado Writer's Conference. Kerrie is not only freelance writer but also the director of that conference. Any writer who has looked knows just how hard it is to find a good, reputable writer's conference that is worth your time and money. This is a conference filled with some of the top agents in the industry, editors and award winning authors, oh yeah, and it's in the beautiful state or Colorado! I haven't been to it yet but it will definitely be on my list of potential conferences to attend next year. To follow Kerrie o

Monday's Muse~Artist Matt Stawicki

This picture popped up while I was searching for something else entirely and it spoke to me in a very powerful way. The artist is Matt Stawicki  and I think the painting is called Heartwood.  It seemed to express visually exactly what was going on with my the main character in my new novel. My protagonist is a teenager weighed down by his desire to make the world a safer place and yet is unsure of whether or not he's worthy of the task. I have a feeling this picture will inspire me through the entire novel. This character is so much fun to write! I'm having a blast with this book. He's different from any protagonist I've ever had. There's a devil may care attitude to him that makes me smile every time this book comes up in conversation with anyone. If you've never written a novel with a protagonist that makes you smile like that, I highly recommend it. For the first time I've actually put together a play list on my MP3 player for my novel! I can't be

Writers Improving The World

Everywhere I go on the web lately I see outstanding writers, authors, and book lovers doing things to improve the world around them. It has really made me stop and think about what we as writers do, what we stand for, and what we can do. We create worlds in which things are different, better, more interesting, or magical. But what do we stand for in this world and what are we willing to do? You don't have to stand for something as a writer and you don't have to do anything more than create worlds with your writing because that in itself makes a difference. But there are those that go that extra step, beyond the computer screen and the page, to reach out into the existing world. Today's post is all about honoring them. Please click on the underlined words for the links. Soon to be debuting young adult author Myra McEntire was directly affected by the flooding in Tennessee since she calls the state home. Rather than stand aside and watch, she jumped into action and help

Writing The Next Book

You've finished your book, edited it thoroughly, and started submitting. Its time to celebrate! But then what? Do you sit back and wait for an agent to gush over your carefully prepared baby and sell it to a big house for a huge advance? *Virtual Slap!* That is exactly what you shouldn't do. Unless of course that's the only book you have in you and you have no desire of making a career out of writing. And that's okay if that's the case but this post is for those who have more than one book in them. How long you wait depends on you. If you need a break take it. But have no illusions, to be a writer you must write. You shouldn't wait for an agent to pick you up and sell your book. That process can take years and you can write another book in the meantime. If you have research or outlining to do, start as soon as you feel up to it. I begin only days after I send off that last book. Yep, days. Writing is my crack. I cannot stop. You can wait a day, a week, a month

Learning From Agents Who Blog

If you are hunting for an agent and haven't discovered agents who blog yet, you don't know what you're missing. Of course there's the obvious things you can learn from them such as what they're looking for, how they'd like you to submit, and that kind of thing. But there is also a wealth of knowledge that many of them are willing to share through their blogs. And then there are those who offer up their services through contests they run on their blogs. The dynamic Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown Ltd. runs contests all the time and offers up not only advice on writing, but great information about the publishing industry. Nathan's blog is not something you want to miss. His posts are like tiny jewels of knowledge that he generously shares with his readers. He even has a sidebar titled 'The Essentials (Please Read Before You Query)', how great is that? Kristen Nelson of the Nelson Literary Agency posts the queries h

Twitter Tuesday~Eisley Jacobs

This week's Twitter Tuesday featured writer is a very special lady, Eisley Jacobs. There is a nice little tip on her website telling how to pronounce it, of which I was very grateful for since I had no idea! She is one of those rare souls that is so pure and inspiring that you're instantly drawn to her. Her tweets and blog posts almost always make me smile and definitely always evoke some kind of emotion. Eisley is a young adult and middle grade fantasy writer. She's currently on the prowl for representation and with her positive outlook, dedication, and faith I have no doubt she'll land an agent very soon. In fact, one is looking at her work now... Eisley's blog is full of great advice and a generous helping of fun. She even reviews the occasional book and I look forward to hearing her honest opinion. This is one writer you don't want to miss connecting with. Be sure to look her up before she's famous! Which will no doubt be very soon. Check out Eisley&

Monday's Muse~Parents In Young Adult Novels

In honor of mother's day I thought I'd write a post on parents in young adult novels. It had kind of been my muse this last week. All too often the parents not only don't play an important role, they aren't present at all. In many books one or both parents are killed or simply are never mentioned. While this definitely heightens tension and drama it can also take an opportunity away to fully develop your character. Don't throw things at me yet. In my first young adult novel both of my protagonist's parents died right away so I'm guilty of this too. However, now that I'm on my fourth young adult novel I'm starting to see how having the parents play an important role can enrich the book. A child's first role model is their parents and their view of the world is colored by how they're raised. Much can be learned about a character by their interactions with their parents. These interactions can help us show instead of tell. A tender interaction

Spells Spotting!

There is little I love more than finding a friend's book on the shelves of a store. I get all tingly and make girly squeeing noises, especially when it's a book I've really been waiting for like this one. Apryilynne Pike's debut novel Wings came out in 2009. It's a rather unique story about a girl who discovers she's a fairy. The catch is, fairies are nothing like she imagined. Wings was a refreshing look at a very old legend and it heralded the return of fairies to literature. If you haven't caught the book that brought the trend back to life run out or click over and buy it now! Then, you can pick up a copy of the sequel Spells and we can chat about them both! Until then I don't want to give anything away. I'll just say that I know you'll love both and will want to buy it for the girls in your life. I'm looking forward to seeing the characters grow and face new challenges in Spells . Knowing Aprilynne, she probably has more than a few

May's Debut Author~Jennifer R Hubbard

This month's feature debut author Jennifer R Hubbard has graciously decided to stop by Heather's Odyssey to talk to us about her book The Secret Year which is now available in stores and online everywhere! First a bit about The Secret Year : Seventeen-year-old Colt has been sneaking out at night to meet Julia, a girl from an upper-class neighborhood unlike his own. They’ve never told anyone else about their relationship: not their family or friends, and especially not Julia’s boyfriend. When Julia dies suddenly, Colt tries to cope with her death while pretending that he never even knew her. He discovers a journal Julia left behind. But Colt is not prepared for the truths he discovers about their intense relationship, nor to pay the price for the secrets he’s kept. Welcome to Heather's Odyssey Jennifer I'm thrilled that you could stop by and share the excitement of your debut novel The Secret Year with us. From your website I've noticed that, like me, you'r

New Look And New Inspiration

I have caught spring fever and it has leaked onto my blog. But the new look is more than just that. Now that I have two very different books out on submission (one to publishers and one to my agent) I didn't think it was fair to spotlight one or the other. Besides, Heather's Odyssey isn't just about my books, it's about the journey, the experience, and the people I meet along the way. I wanted the header of my blog to reflect that. I originally began blogging because when I was starting out I had a million questions and no one seemed to have the answers. I'm the kind of person that wants to know everything about what I'm getting into, that way I have the highest chance of success. Forewarned is forearmed and all that. Each entry I write is about making the journey easier for the next writer on the path. I haven't always taken the right path, I've made mistakes and taken many missteps. Hopefully by sharing both my failures and successes I can help some

Twitter Tuesday~Shannon Delany

If you aren't following the career of Shannon Delany yet you're missing out. This rising author is not only a fantastic writer but a great lady as well. Shannon goes out of her way to help others and has an incredible, giving nature. There's a fascinating story behind this great lady as well. Shannon wrote a very short version of her upcoming novel and won the grand prize in the first ever cell phone novel contest with it. Not long after that her success attracted the attention of St. Martin's Press and they came offering a publishing contract. I am so glad they did because what I have read of 13 To Life the text novel has me hooked and wanting more, a lot more! I'm not going to get too much into 13 To Life though because Shannon will be my featured debut author for June and will be stopping by for an interview so you'll get to hear all about it then! Until then be sure to follow Shannon on Twitter: And check out her blog

Monday's Muse~April's Reads

This week I thought I'd spotlight the book that was my reading muse for the month of April. Normally I read a few books a month but April was the wrap up month for my work in progress so I didn't get a chance to read as much as I normally do. It wasn't easy disciplining myself to write and edit instead of read this book. Rachel Hawkins pulls off a unique twist on the whole magic school idea, so unique in fact that I had trouble putting the book down. All manner of creatures are present in this unconventional tale of magic, secrets, and surprises. Some of the twists will keep you guessing until the very end. The main character and even supporting characters pulled me in from the very first page. I enjoyed Hex Hall so much that I'm eagerly looking forward to the sequel! You can check out Rachel's site here: You can buy Hex Hall here (among other places):