Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Writer's Road

The writer's road can be a lonely one but it doesn't have to be. Have you ever wanted to chat with other writers, meet agents, editors of publishing housing, and authors? Or at least ease drop on their chat? You can achieve this by attending conferences but let's face it, they are getting hard to afford in this economy. There is another way.

Every Thursday night on Twitter there was a fabulous chat called #Scribechat. I met a lot of authors, agents, editors, and fellow writers by attending that chat. Unfortunately the hostess, Lia Keyes, had to step down due to other commitments so the chat is going away. I'm very grateful to her because I've made amazing friends, connections, and learned a lot from #Scribechat. You can find Lia hosting #SteamPunkChat on Fridays on Twitter at 6:00pm PT.

For those of you who loved Scribechat and are sad to see it go, have no fear, we have a plan. My friend and fellow chatter TS Tate,or @TeeTate as she is known on Twitter, plan to start a new chat in Scribechat's absence. The new chat will be called #WritersRoad and we'll be discussing everything about writing, reading, and getting published. The first chat will be a week from today on Thursday January 6th at 6:00pm PT on Twitter. We'll be chatting about all aspects of the #WritersRoad. A few of my friends who are debuting soon may be dropping in as well as a few represented friends and many who are just looking to learn. Did I mention there will be a giveaway for the very first chat? You don't want to miss it.

There are many ways to join in a Twitter chat but the one I've had the best luck with is TweetChat. Go to the link and just type WritersRoad into the box. You will need a Twitter account. Mark you calendars and join us!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Writer's Resolutions 2011

Last year turned out nothing like I had hoped but probably exactly as I needed it too. Everything changed after an amicable parting of ways with my agent. It happens, a lot more than you hear about. He was restructuring his business model due to the economy and as a result our contract was dissolved. I learned a lot from him and feel that I am a better writer for having worked with him. As you can imagine though, with that happening much of what I had hoped to accomplish shifted. And my goals for 2011 have changed. I'm optimistic that it's going to be a fabulous year. Here are my resolutions:

1. I hope to sign with an excellent agent with whom I can build a career partnership with. What makes an agent excellent isn't necessarily their sales record or the size of their client list but their vision, work style, enthusiasm, and dedication. That's the kind of agent I'll be looking for!

2. I will continue to improve my craft and networking by attending workshops, retreats, and conferences. With registrations filled out for the San Diego State Writers' Conference in January and the San Francisco Writers' Conference in February, I'm on my way to accomplishing this one already!

3. I will finish writing and edit To Ride A Puca, my young adult historical fantasy set in Ireland and prepare to submit it. I'll also submit the two novels I wrote and edited in 2010.

4. I will write and edit two novels, a dystopian young adult novel, and a rewrite of a fantasy novel that I'm turning into a YA fantasy.

5. I will continue to provide you, my wonderful readers, with insightful and interesting posts that will hopefully help you in your own journey through the world of writing!

What do you have planned for 2011?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~New Agent, Advice, & Open Submission Call

Since it was the week of Christmas I didn't make it onto Twitter much at all. But I did manage to catch a few great tweets for you. This one is from a literary intern on how many queries she read versus how many she passed on to the agent she reads for (AA stands for awesome agent. How cool is that?!):
@AC_Johnson89 Before I go, for those of you wondering: out of the 140 queries I read yesterday I sent 7 on to AA. 1 of which wasn't even a query.

Writers Digest and Chuck Sambuchino bring to our attention a new agent looking for YA. You don't want to miss this one. I've been Twitter & blogging friends with Vickie for a while and she rocks:
@WritersDigest New agent seeking YA as well as adult fiction: Vickie Motter of Andrea Hurst Associates

New agent extraordinaire let's us know what she wants to see in a query:
@Vickie_Motter My blog today: I answer the credentials question. What should you include in your query?

Do you write science fiction or fantasy for adults? If so you don't want to miss this. It's an open call for submissions from Angry Robot Books, a sci-fi/fantasy imprint that doesn't normally open it's doors. Brought to us by my friend Em:
@EmApocalyptic RT @SFXmagazine: Calling all aspiring novelists: @angryrobotbooks open to unsolicited manuscripts, 1 month only in 2011 -  

Jane Friedman of Writer's Digest gives us a late holiday gift with this link to her post of fantastic links for writers:
@JaneFriedman My best posts for writers from 2010: [plus a photo of my cat, Zelda!]

With the holidays over I will hopefully be much better about bringing you more links! I have to warn you though, I've been hearing crickets on Twitter lately because most of the publishing world takes the week between Christmas and New Year's off.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday's Muse~Dark Forest

This dark forest road made me think of a scene out of the novel I'm working on, last week's chapter in fact. The mist and darkness evokes an ominous feeling making one wonder if something terrible is waiting just behind the trees. This is the turning point where something happens that takes my main character down a path she cannot turn back on. I'm closing in on 39,000 words which is exactly where I want to be. At this rate I should easily reach my goal of 40K total by the end of December!

I finished reading The Hunger Games and I'm really glad I gave in to my friends recommendations and finally read it. I quickly overcame my initial reservations about it being written in present tense because it was done so well that I hardly noticed it after a while. It is easily one of the best books I've read this year. It passed the 'would I read the sequel test?' I absolutely will! I received Voices Of Dragons by Carrie Vaugn for the holiday and I'm eagerly starting that next.

I didn't listen to much beyond Christmas music last week so my muse is hungry for new music this week! We'll have to see what I come up with. How did your writing goals fare through the holidays? Did you have to set them aside?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Storyteller's Holiday

Of all the holidays this one is perhaps the one that truly belongs to storytellers. Since this holiday has begun we have been inspiring joy, sharing miracles, and making children smile with the simplest pleasure, storytelling. Think back to your favorite things about Christmas, the memories and experiences that come to mind before the day itself arrives. Many nights were spent huddled up around a book, perhaps on a grandparents knee or tucked in bed next to a parent or sibling. Here are a few that come to mind:

And that's just to name a few! We must not forget when we celebrate this holiday season to also celebrate the authors who've brought us the magic, miracles, and joy that make this season so special. What are your favorite holiday stories?

I won't be posting again until Monday~sorry no Creature Feature this Friday. I'll make up for it next week though! Have a wonderful holiday everyone.

Picture by Thomas Kinkaid. Click on his name for a link to his fantastic website!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~Giveaways & Agent Advice

I'm sorry I don't  have a lot of Tweets for you this week but the holidays have kept me pretty busy. I did manage to catch a few really good ones though! Writers I know how curious you always are on what kind of trends agents are seeing in submission. Agent Mandy Hubbard reveals it here brought to us by my Twitter friend at LTWFblog:
@LTWFblog Literary Agent and Multi-Pubbed Author @MandyHubbard Posts On Trends in the Slush Pile: #amwriting #pubtip #writechat
(For my non-Twitter friends, a reminder that # followed by a word is a hashtag that allows you to search for any tweet that has it attached)

If you're submitting or plan to be soon, or even if you just want a good funny read, then you'll want to get in on this great giveaway by Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest. Look what you could win:
@ChuckSambuchino Free book giveaway! Enter to win the 2011 Guide to Lit Agents, & my Gnome Attack book --

My Twitter friend Jolina caught this great tweet by author Jody Hedlund on whether or not a writer can make a profit self-publishing. Come on, you know you're curious:
@Jolina_Joy Can #Writers Realistically Make a Profit Self- #Publishing? (via @JodyHedlund)

Agent Jennifer Laughran helps us with the question of what happens after you get The Call from an agent:
@literaticat New blog post: Timelines, or, You got 'the call'... Yay you!...umm... now what happens?

Some query advice from a fabulous literary intern that you are going to want to heed:
@AC_Johnson89 Please don't drop all (or any) of these names in your query: J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind, Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling

Sorry the list wasn't longer but hopefully you find something interesting or helpful in these tidbits!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday's Muse~Festive Spirit

This beautiful picture by Thomas Kinkaid was exactly what I needed to get me into the festive spirit both for the holiday and for the chapter I'm working on. Though the holiday they're celebrating in my chapter is quite different from Christmas it's the spirit of celebration that I was going for. Friends, family, the feeling that even if just for a moment, all is right with the world.

As for the reading that's feeding my muse, I'm over halfway through The Hunger Games and am completely caught up in it. It takes a powerful, outstanding book to make me look past my dislike of first person, not to mention present tense so that should tell you a little about how good it is.

The music feeding my muse is more of Mairead's instrumental music. That lady is amazing with a violin. It isn't my normal kind of music but it fits the novel I'm writing so I'm rolling with it. What inspired you this week? Are you reading anything really good?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Book Giveaways Galore

Tis the season for book giveaways! I won't be doing one until after the holidays because you never know what you're going to get between now and the new year. But next month I'll be doing a great giveaway so stay logged in!

Last week I won the fantastic looking novel Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick from my good friend and soon to be debuting author Myra McEntire. If you don't know who she is quick go find out! She is beyond awesome and her book is one of next year's most highly anticipated for me.

If you're looking for some great giveaways all you have to do is check out the blogs I follow. Nearly every one of them is doing a giveaway or has done one this month. Check out Kari over on the Under The Fairy Dust (don't you just love that title?) blog for a great one. And don't forget all my favorite book bloggers. Many of them are doing giveaways as well. There are links to them on the sidebar just over there. -->

If you know of a great giveaway or are doing one yourself feel free to leave me a link in the comments.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My 2010 Writer's Resolutions

It's that time of year again. I have to admit, the thought of looking over this last year's resolutions to see how I did kind of makes me cringe. I know I didn't meet them all but that's okay. As long as I met a few of them then I have accomplished something. Let's rip the band aid off shall we? Here are my resolutions for last year:

1. Continue to build my author platform. I'll do so by continuing to meet great writers and people who love books, like those I've met on Twitter! I'll also attend whatever conferences & retreats I can.
Accomplished! My blog followers have grown more than I could have anticipated (I love you all!) and I've made many wonderful friends through blogging, Twitter, and Scribblerati.

2. Write three books this year. This could be thrown for a loop if/when my novel gets picked up and I have to work on edits, but until then I'll focus on these three new books.
Accomplished! I wrote (and edited, yes really!) Sanctity Of A Society, The Trouble With The Dragon Empire, and The First Dragonwatcher.

3. Rewrite the first fantasy trilogy I ever wrote and submit it to my agent. This could be thrown off course by the event mentioned in #2 as well. In which case, I won't complain!
Failed. I haven't got around to this yet. But that's okay because some wonderful ideas for it have been percolating.

4. Keep hitting the treadmill every week. I know it's cliché but as a writer I spend a lot of time on my bum. Unfortunately my 'day' job is the same. Gotta stay healthy!
Accomplished! And I bought an elliptical machine. I've been alternating between the two. I haven't lost any weight but I haven't gained any either and I have built a lot of muscle.

5. Continue to improve my writing. Really, this should be #1, it's that important. But, it's also something I plan to do while doing the other resolutions, so that's why it fell at #5
Accomplished! I attended a writers' workshop with bestselling thriller author William Bernhardt and a workshop with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. I also read several of Noah Lukeman and Donald Maass' books on writing.

Four out of five isn't bad. I'm going to have to consider that a very successful year. Did you make any resolutions in 2010? If so how did you do on meeting them?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~Editor & Agent Advice

This week is filled with even more agent advice than I usually dig up on Twitter. This first tweet is from Chuck Sambuchino of Writers Digest who brings us another great new agent who is looking for middle grade and young adult writers:

@ChuckSambuchino RT @CynLeitichSmith New #agent Joan Slattery seeks MG/YA at Pippin Properties:

Agent Natalie Fischer was tweeting some great advice about query letters. Here are a few of the tweets that I caught:
@Natalie_Fischer How to shoot yourself in the foot in a query: typos. Wrong agent name. HUGE word count. "To Whom It May Concern." #queries
@Natalie_Fischer Cont: apologizing for the submission. Incoherent letter/plot. Bitterness. "My test readers loved it!" Books 2 and 3 complete. #queries

Agent Marisa Corvisiero announces her search for a literary intern. If you're interested in agenting and qualify then this is an opportunity you don't want to miss!
@mcorvisiero Literary Intern Search...

Agent and author Mandy Hubbard gives us a bit of advice well worth heeding:
@MandyHubbard Hey guys: that whole underline-the-words-you-want-italicised thing disappeared with the typewriter. Just use italics! #pubtip

Editor Regina Griffin shares a bit of bad news about Borders (It isn't look good for them peeps. I hope you're buying books for the holidays!):
@Regina_Griffin More sad/bad news for Borders. RT @PublishersWkly: Borders Sales Disappoint, Loss Soars; Liquidity Issues Arise

Jane Friedman of Writers Digest brings us a gift of truly valuable advice about social media and online image:
@JaneFriedman My advice to writers on how to handle social media, transmedia, and online image:  (part 2 of interview w/@ThereseWalsh)

Editor Megan Records joins in on the publishing tips:
@meganrecords Don't refer to yourself in the third person in your query letter. It's weird. #pubtip

Are there any great tweets you caught last week that I missed? Any good contests or advice maybe?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday's Muse~Enchanting Encounter

I already had the scene in my mind when I came across this picture and I was blown away by how close it was to what I had imagined. It seems like magic when that happens, as if in some way you and some random artist out there are on the same wave length. In this chapter my character has to deal with the consequences of staying out too late and scaring her parents half to death. Haven't we all at some point?!

I finished reading Grave Witch by Kalayna Price and I really enjoyed it. In fact, it passed the 'would I read a sequel' test. Not only would I read a sequel, I'm eagerly awaiting it! Be advised though, Grave Witch is adult fantasy. You might have noticed by my sidebar that I'm now reading The Hunger Games. Finally, yeah, I know. It was jarring to discover that it is written in present tense first person. First person isn't my favorite and present tense is next to nails on a chalkboard for me. However, I had faith in my hoard of friends who recommended it and I kept reading. Now I'm on page fifty and I'm absolutely hooked. Who knew?

My music muse has been Orla Fallon's Celtic Christmas. It isn't Christmas in my novel but my muse has to compromise a bit for the season. How about you, are you able to keep up your writing momentum through the crazy holidays? If so, what is inspiring you?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

2011 Debut Authors

2011 is closing in on us and that means it's time for a post listing the debut authors for next year. This is the class of 2K11. You can click on the author's name to find out more about them and on their book to find out more about it. Many of these will be at the top of my 'to buy' list for next year! If nothing is highlighted I couldn't find a link.

Julia Karr: XVI a YA speculative novel published by Puffin/Speak, January 6.
Bettina Restrepo: Illegal a YA novel published by Harper Collins-Katherine Tegen Books, March 11.
Amy Holder: The Lipstick Laws a YA novel published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Graphia, April 4.
Carole Estby Dagg: The Year We Were Famous a YA historical fiction novel published by Clarion (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), April 4.
Angie Smibert: Memento Nora a YA dystopian novel published by Marshall Cavendish, April 15.
K. Ryer Breese: Future Imperfect a YA fantasy novel published by Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Griffin, April 26.
Gae H. Polisner: The Pull of Gravity a YA novel published by Frances Foster Books/Farrar Straus Giroux, Spring.
Christina Mandelski: The Sweetest Thing a YA novel published by Egmont USA, May.
Sheila O’Connor: Sparrow Road, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, May.
Alissa Grosso: Popular a YA novel published by Flux, May.
Tara Hudson: Hereafter aYA paranormal novel published by HarperCollins, June 7.
Geoff Herbach: Stupid Fast a YA novel published by Sourcebooks, June.
Carrie Harris: Bad Taste in Boys a YA urban fantasy (what does one call zombie books?!) published by Delacorte (Random House), July 12.
Amy Fellner Dominy: OyMG! a YA novel published by Walker Books, Summer.
Caroline Starr Rose: May B. a MG historical novel published by Tricycle Press, Fall.
Tess Hilmo: With A Name Like Love a MG murder mystery published by Margaret Ferguson Books/FSG, Fall.
Megan Bostic: Never Eighteen a YA novel published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall.
Trinity Faegen: The Mephisto Covenant: The Redemption of Ajax a YA novel published by Egmont USA, Fall.
Kiki Hamilton: THE FAERIE RING a YA urban fantasy published by Tor Books/Macmillan, Fall.

Not on the roster but still part of the class:
Beth Revis: Across The Universe a YA science fiction published by Razorbill in January.
Myra McEntire: Hourglass a YA paranormal published by Egmont, May.
Sonia Gensler: The Revenant a YA paranormal, historical published by Knopf, June.
Elana Johnson: Possession a YA dystopian published by Simon & Schuster, June.
Victoria Schwab: The Near Witch a YA paranormal published by Disney Hyperion, August.

If I've missed any debuts for next year let me know and I'll add the link. Each month next year I'll be featuring a debut author, many of them from this list so be sure to check back to learn more about them.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~Agent & Publishing Advice

Interested in being a marketing intern for a fantastic literary agency? Then you don't want to miss this link by agent Weronika Janczuk:
@WeronikaJanczuk Mary Kole of Andrea Brown (@kid_lit) is looking for a marketing intern:  *Awesome* opportunity for anyone qualified!

If you write young adult you don't want to miss this tweet by The Knight Agency about the YA imprints:
@KnightAgency Overview of new YA imprints: "Today's YA Scene: New Players, Innovative Directions, Fresh Voices" @publisherswkly

Here is great news from literary agent Ginger Clark about a new sci-fi/fantasy/horror imprint at Quercus! But sorry peeps, they won't be accepting unsolicited manuscripts.
@Ginger_Clark Fantastic news about Jo Fletcher opening her own SF/F/H imprint at Quercus. Imagine that--a new SF/F/H imprint! Hurray!

Fellow writer and friend Roni Loren did a great post on things not to do on Twitter. If you're on Twitter or you're thinking about getting on it then you have to read this!
@RoniLoren Twelve Ways To Scare Away Twitter Followers - What are some of your pet peeves?

Author Elizabeth Craig reminds us that there is more than one way to get published and gives hope to those who are having trouble finding an agent:
@elizabethscraig Can't find an agent? Go to Plan B:

Jennifer Shirk gives a great list of some of the best agents on Twitter. I added a few of my own favorites to the list and re-tweeted her!
@HeatherMcCorkle I would add @NepheleTempest @DeidreKnight & @KnightAgency RT @JenniferShirk Best Literary Agents on Twitter-GalleyCat

Here is another great tweet from Jennifer on what writers should do before their book releases:
@JenniferShirk Guide to Literary Agents - 5 Things Writers Should Do BEFORE Release Day

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December's Debut Author~Saundra Mitchell

I'm cheating a bit for December's feature debut author. Why, because she is that awesome and I couldn't go this year without featuring her. It is Saundra Mitchell and her riveting ghost story Shadowed Summer debuted just last year. Saundra is so awesome that along with the interview she gave us a deleted sequence! Keep reading to learn more and check it out. First a bit about Shadowed Summer.

Summer in Ondine, Louisiana is always predictable: hot and boring.

Not this one.

This summer, Iris is fourteen. This summer, she doesn't have to make up spooky stories for excitement, because a real one falls right in her lap.

Years ago, before she was born, a teenager named Elijah disappeared. All that remains of him are whispers. Until this summer. A ghost begins to haunt Iris, and she's convinced it's the ghost of Elijah.

What really happened to him? And why, of all people, has he chosen Iris?

Does that not give you the chills? I know it does me! So Saundra, what compelled you to write a ghost story?

Saundra: I've been a big fan of ghost stories all my life. Not only were they among my favorites at the library, my family has tons of ghost stories too. My grandmother always claimed she saw her late parents in her turned-off television just a few months before I was a born. She swore they told her that I would be a girl!

Wow, your family sounds awesome! What was your favorite part of writing this book?

Saundra: Shadowed Summer was a struggling kind of book to get on the page. The characters were uncooperative, the story didn't go where I expected it... But I think I had the most fun writing the scenes where Iris and Collette talk over each other. They've been friends for each other, so they just say what's in their head, and keep going whether they're on the same wavelength or not. (I really like the exchange where Collette tells Ben they have spells for invisibility, and Iris adds that they only work if no one's looking.)

I loved Irish and Collette's conversations so I can easily see where that would be fun to write! Can you tell us a bit about Shadowed Summer that we may not know from your website?

Saundra: The first draft of Shadowed Summer was significantly longer than the final book- twice the length as a matter of fact. And I had to cut one of my favorite parts because it really had nothing to do with the story. Here it is, a deleted sequence from the original manuscript:

Where I lived, people who went crazy were allowed to with respect. Nobody went to psychiatrists, we didn't take happy pills, and we didn't go to the state hospital unless we did something so wild nobody knew how to handle it. Clotille Rydell's granny had gone that kind of crazy; Clotille told us all about it during show and tell in fifth grade.

Apparently, when her granddaddy passed on, her granny waited until the family finally left with the last of their casseroles, then went down to the family plot to drag her husband from his crypt. A couple weeks later, an uncle came to check on Granny. He found her sitting at one end of the dinner table, making conversation with Granddaddy down at the other end.

Off to the institution went Clotille's granny while the family put granddaddy to rest again, that time with a cement seal on the slab to make sure Granny couldn't get at him again. For Clotille's show part, to prove her Granny really had been there, she held up a menu from the state hospital, and passed around letters Granny had written on hospital stationery.

I don't think our teacher liked the presentation much, but Clotille hopped to most popular girl in our class. At least, until Peter Nash brought in a scrapbook of casket pictures that had been in his family for years. Rebel soldiers sleeping in pine trumped a crazy granny, and shortly thereafter, our teacher cancelled show and tell for good.

Saundra: Call me sick, but Clotille's granny cracks me up!

Thank you so much for sharing that! From your website I see that you have quite a bit of writing experience as a screenplay writer and successful short story writer. With that experience under your belt, is there anything in the publishing process that surprised you?

Saundra: Yes! I was surprised to find out that the chain bookstores- Barnes & Noble and Borders- didn't have to stock a book. In fact, they skipped books all the time! Until I was published myself, I just kind of assumed if I went to those bookstores at the right time, any book I could imagine would be there. Turns out, that's not the case!

From your website I also see that you have another novel, The Vespertine coming out in March of 2011, about a young woman in 1889 who has visions of the future. It sounds fascinating, I can hardly wait for it! Your writing tends to run along the mystic side, I love that. Where do you get your inspiration for such wonderful, creepy stories?

Saundra: It all depends on the story! I'm not sure where the idea of a girl who sees the future in the sunset came from. I'd been kicking that around for five or six years, and tried it out in various mis-starts. One version was set in contemporary southern Indiana. Another version was set at a boarding school in Maine. They never really took shape, though.

What kickstarted the story that became The Vespertine was this: I was watching Burn Gorman play Hindley in the recent BBC adaptation of WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Watching his scenes with Catherine, I thought to myself, "Now that's a dude who would lock his sister in an attic!"

Something about that sparked my imagination, and before I knew it, I was writing The Vespertine at light speed. And yes, it does start with the main character being locked in an attic by her brother! Thanks, Burn!

I love how your mind works! What a wonderful way to come up with an idea for a novel. Any closing thoughts to leave us with?

Saundra: Thank you so much for your support of debut authors. I'm passionate about debuts myself, and I'm particularly looking forward to these fresh new debuts in 2011- Myra McEntire's Hourglass in May, Victoria Schwab's The Near Witch, and Sonia Gensler's The Revenant in June.

You're very welcome. I like to pay things forward and besides, so many debuts are fantastic! Thank you so much for joining us Saundra. I'm confident my readers are going to love your book just as much as I did. I can't wait for The Vespertine!
Hurry peeps, click on the title and grab a copy of the wonderfully creepy Shadowed Summer and get it read before The Vespertine comes out in March! Which by the way, I'm looking forward to so much that I have pre-ordered it.

Check out the website for Shadowed Summer here.
And learn more about Saundra and her upcoming works at her website here.