Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Writing Goals: 2009 (or The Year My Fingers Will Wear Down to Tiny Nubs)

Tip of the Day: After every 30 minutes of writing, do 30 jumping jacks. It keeps you awake and helps combat writer's butt!

Happy New Year, everyone!

I SHOULD start this post by recapping my 2008 writing goals and seeing what I met/almost met/didn't even come close to meeting, but alas, I don't think I even made 2008 writing goals! So let's jump right into 2009, shall we?

1. Sub my MG #1 to additional eds.

2. Polish my MG#2, newly revised, and sub to eds.

3. Fast draft in JANNoWriMo style (January Novel Writing Month since I had no time in November) the Vietnam War YA that's been in my brain for years.

4. Get editorial notes from my agent on YA#1 and polish it.

5. Get critique partner comments back on MG#3, make it pretty, and send to my agent.

Wow. I'm gonna be busy!

Notice the goals here include things I can control. Of COURSE I'd like to sell, sell, sell! But I can't control that part of the process, and I'm resigned to it. What I can control is the quality of my work which I am definitely willing to keep working on until yes, I sell, sell, sell!

What are your writing goals for 2009? The ones you can control?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing (yay new Miss name!)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year, New Goals and Objectives

Tip of the Day: If you are interested in doing JanNoWriMo with Kate, Deena, and I, leave a comment on this entry. That way we know and we’ll try to check out your blog/Web site/email or something throughout the month of January to encourage you to reach 50,000 words.

There are so many goals that I’d like to accomplish this year that it’s hard to narrow them down. As 2009 approaches, I really feel like writing-wise this is a make it or break it year for me.

I’m entering my fourth year of writing fiction seriously. And I’m to the point where something drastic needs to happen for me to keep my sanity or I’m going to have to completely twist my thinking and writing upside down and try something completely outside of the box. I’d of course prefer the Get An Agent or a Book Deal change, but I’m not opposed to being twisted and contorted to improve myself.

I’m feeling really positive and motivated right now to make good changes with my writing, and what it boils down to in terms of goals is this:

Goal 1: Get an Agent

Goal 2: Get a Book Deal

  • If I’m going to have a goal to get an agent, I might as well aim big and go for the book deal too, right?

Goal 3: Think Outside of the Box with my writing and try to push myself further

  • To be honest I hope to do this even if Goals 1 and 2 come true this year.

Kate mentioned yesterday that goals should have a time limit. In the PR and advertising background I come from goals can be general, but objections should be the things that can be measured. Either in time, quantity, or some other form that can be graphed or charted. Here are my objections to make my Writing Goals happen in 2009:

Objective 1: Complete 50,000 words on Contemporary YA book in January

  • You all want to do it with us, don’t ya? If so, let us know and we can cheer each other on. Because a little known secret about me is that I always wanted to be a cheerleader. And don’t you want to help a girl out with that dream?

Objective 2: Finish and revise Middle-grade Mystery that I worked on this December

  • This book’s outline and first half draft are nearly complete. I’d like to let the ending half of the book sit, so I can finish it when my thoughts are more compiled.

Objective 3: Revise January’s Contemporary YA book

Objective 4: Do something that scares me or something new at least once a week

  • This has been one of my goals for a really long time, and I’ve never put an objective to it to actually make it happen. Well, 2009 is going to be the year I make that change. Which is why my husband and I are actually starting a new blog adventure year where you can follow our pursuit to complete so many things in our life we’ve always wanted to do, but never had the guts. And I really think it will help in my writing life to gain more confidence and overcome my query fears.

Objective 5: Query at least 50 agents

  • Of course, I will not be upset if it takes less

And it’s a good thing the most popular suggestion for my new Miss Name was Miss Querylicious. Because it’s definitely going to help me with Objective No. 5.

And oh yeah, if I want it to be measurable, I guess I want to accomplish this all by December 31, 2009.

What are your goals and objections for 2009?

Share, so I can be a cheerleader. (Seriously, I’m not lying when I said I wanted to be a cheerleader. I tried out for the squad and everything.)

--Emily, Miss Querylicious (whose additional goal is have a new name in 2009)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ring in the New Year!

Tip of the Day: Join us for Fast Draft January! Emily, Deena, and I will be writing the first draft of a new WIP this January, encouraging each other as we go. We'd love more writers to join us. Interested?

Happy 2009! I am greeting the new year with optimism! I am energized to take on new projects and challenges this year, and so I am unveiling my new Miss name for 2009: Miss Perfecting the Pages. That will get me into the revising spirit. Thanks everyone for your input on my new name.

This week, we’re discussing our writing goals for the year. I considered starting off by finding my goals from last January and seeing if I measured up. Confession time: I couldn’t find my goals for 2008! I think I was just like a ping-pong ball in a dryer, bouncing from one idea to another. So this year I’m going to be goal-oriented. I’d better start a list:

Be goal-oriented.

I believe a proper goal is supposed to have a time limit, but I’m going to let “Be goal-oriented” be a stretch goal. I do have goals with time limits, though.

I’m jumping right into January with Fast Draft January! And Deena and Em will be my partners in crime! In January, we will write the first draft of a project near and dear to our hearts. I’ll be doing something I’ve wanted to do for a long time—attempting to write the script for a graphic novel. My graphic novel takes place in 1910, so I’ve been getting primed for my Fast Draft by using 1910s slang. I know you’re jazzed for an earful of 1910’s slang from me this month. It’s gravy.

After January, I’m back to finishing the book I was working on before I stopped to read for the Cybils Award. My goal is to have that tween novel revised and ready to send out queries by the end of April. That’s 3 months: February, March, April.

I also have a first draft of a middle grade novel I’ve had “on reserve” while I work on the tween novel. I’ll start sending that to my crit partners after I get some more work done on the tween novel. Let’s say I can start working on that in March and switch over to concentrating on it totally in May. Could it be ready by October or is that unrealistic? I think I’ll need input to know for sure, but I’m going to set October as the benchmark I’m aiming for.

That leaves me with November and December to revise my graphic novel script. Okay, so what if I write the graphic novel in January and decide, hot dog, that’s jake, I don’t want to wait a year in this market to send out a graphic novel? I’ll still need to take a breather in between the first draft and revision, so I can always pick it back up in May and switch the revision lineup around.

This doesn’t really leave me any time to write short stories, do another round of NaNoWriMo, or make any other major time commitments. And I’m okay with that this year. I don’t want to gum up the works with other commitments. I’m writing down my goals so I can stay attached remora-like to my revisions or I’ll never have anything to send out.

Except for January. We’d love to have more writers join us for Fast Draft January.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, December 19, 2008

A2A Teen Years: I'm Dreaming of a Fishy Christmas

Tip of the Day: Since Christmas is next week and we’re guessing most people are busy with all kinds of wonderful things, the old author2author blog will be a bit quiet. But we’ll return the following week to reveal our new names and talk about our goals for 2009!

Oh geez. These A2A teen year posts are hard for me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being a teen. And I don’t mind telling you about my wonderful teen years. But the older I get, the more trouble I have remembering anything ABOUT those wonderful teen years. In case you don’t know, it sucks getting old! Wait, now you think I’m really old. And I’m not. I just have an old memory card in my brain. Or something.

Anyway, even though I wasn't quite a teenager anymore, I’m going to tell you about the first Christmas I celebrated with a boyfriend in college, the guy who eventually became my husband.

We had been dating about four months when our first Christmas rolled around. It was a big deal. I bought him all kinds of wonderful things, including a new comforter for his bed, a beautiful sweater that I thought would look really great on him, and some other cool things.

He handed me my first gift to open, and I have to say, it was rather odd-looking. Long and skinny. I had absolutely no idea as to what it might be. I opened it up and what a surprise - he’d bought me a new fishing pole! At some point, we must have talked about how I fished a lot with my dad and my grandparents when I was growing up. I seem to recall him asking, “So you like to fish?” And I probably shrugged my shoulders and said, “Sure.” And now I had my very own pole to go fishing any time I wanted!

The next gift I opened was small. This one, I thought to myself, must be something nice. A diamond necklace, perhaps, or a bracelet. But it was another surprise! This time, my very own pocket knife! I was so lucky!! He showed me how it had scissors and a cork screw and just about any gadget a girl could possibly need, all in one handy little place.

There were a couple of other little things I don’t remember, but that was definitely a Christmas I’ll never forget.

Since that Christmas, I’ve learned his family is very much a list-making family. When it’s Christmas, you make a list, and that is how gifts are chosen. So every year since that first Christmas, I make a list and share it with him and his mom. And what do you know, there hasn’t been a single fishing pole since. I mean, you know, since I already have one and all, I really don't need TWO, do I?

I want to thank Kate, Emily, Deena and Tina for suggesting reasons to buy my book, FAR FROM YOU, for yourself or a teen you know as a Christmas gift. That was very sweet of them. I hope everyone buys at least one book for a Christmas gift this year. Doesn't have to be my book. Just buy a book. Or two. Or twenty. After all, no fishing line required!

~Lisa, Miss Pinch Me I'm Pubbed

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A2A Teen Years: It was Beary, Beary Bad

Tip of the Day: Don't spend an hour straightening your hair and then go out in a snow storm.

It was my first Christmas with my first REAL boyfriend. We had been together most of the year and were quite in the giggly, touchy feely, calling each other nauseating pet names stage of the relationship. I had big expectations for this first perfect Christmas and the perfect Christmas gift that was sure to come from he, my Prince Charming. I imagined all kinds of things-- would it be a book of love poems that he inscribed with some amazing note that I would look at every Christmas for the rest of my life?

Would it be some amazing piece of jewelry, like a necklace with our birthstones or a locket with our pictures side-by-side?
Whatever it was, I knew it would be momentous and it would be something I'd take out to show my own kids and grandkids someday.

Or not.

Though I still remember it like it was yesterday. We were sitting on our knees, facing each other, in front of the lit Christmas tree in my livingroom. I had just given him an AMAZING gift (no, I don't remember what it was, but certainly it was AMAZING). And he had just handed me mine. It was in what looked like a clothes box, but I knew it wouldn't be clothes. Not on our perfect first Christmas. Clothes is an old person's Christmas gift. Maybe it was a stunning photo collage of our relationship? I nervoulsy lifted the flaps of wrapping paper, stealing glances at him. He was very excited and proud of whatever lay in the box. Finally it was open. I parted the layers of white tissue paper and froze. Him, giant smile, so pleased with himself. Me, afraid to lift the item out of the box and a hundred thoughts flying through my head of how I was going to make this ok and what I would tell people when they were sure to ask about my first glorious Christmas gift from my boyfriend.

Want to know what it was?

It was a navy blue sweatshirt with a white turtleneck sewn into the collar. And on the front of the sweatshirt were two big embroidered teddy bears hugging.

I didn't know what to do. I was a teenager, afterall, not eighty and in a nursing home. I couldn't figure out why he thought I'd wear a turtleneck sweatshirt with teddy bears. "Did you read it?" he asked. Oh god, there's more? I thought. I looked at the shirt and sure enough, over the teddy bears it said "I love you BEARY much." Of course it said that. It couldn't just stop at the teddy bears right? I let out some weird kinda giggle and tried to hide my dissapointment. "I, oh, uh, love it" I said. I never was an actress. "I knew you would," he said. "Wear it to my New Year's Eve party ok?" I almost fell backward. What's this? Some kind of joke? He actually wants me to wear this? In public? I tried to make like I had another outfit already but he was so darn proud of his bears in love shirt and insisted that I wear it.

I did wear it. But only that one time. I remember slipping it over my head and feeling like the turtleneck was choking me. I remember walking down the long hallway from my bedroom to the front door of my house, past my three brothers who were all rolling around on the floor laughing and pointing at me and my sweatshirt. And I remember my boyfriend's big smile and him telling me how good I looked when I walked into his house that night.

That, of course, was the last of the sweatshirt. I got rid of it soon after. It never did become that item I'd show my kids and grandkids. And I never told anyone else this story. Until now.

Kristina, Miss Soon-to-Pub

BONUS TIP: Buy Lisa's new book, FAR FROM YOU on 12/23. And then when your relatives are driving you nuts on Christmas day you can sneak off and read it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A2A Teen Years: Nutty Christmases

Tip of the Day: Don't underestimate the power of duck boots in Western NY.

At a young age, my parents were very good about some things. One of them was buying us kids very on-target Xmas presents. Yes, with three kids and one working parent, there would be no extraneous spending on gifts which could very well be either a) broken in five minutes, b) fought over in 10 minutes, or c) cast aside til the next garage sale.

So it is actually quite surprising that from childhood to teenhood, my parents consistantly filled my stocking with one gift that I never, ever used.


I still don't even know what those dark brown ones shaped like orange wedges are.

After years and years and years of me not eating the nuts, my parents continued to fill my stocking with them.* I assume it was more of an Xmas tradition than a true desire to provide me with someting exciting -- the grocery stores sold them in bulk for the holidays -- but for me it was always a disappointment to see that bulging stocking on the fireplace only to find that beneath the candy canes, oranges, and new crayons were piles of mixed nuts.

If I could blame it on the fact that they ate the nuts themselves, then it wouldn't be such a question of why they appeared in my stocking, but Dad can't eat nuts, and I never saw Mom snacking on piles of them herself.

So there you have it. Mixed nuts in the shell. The worst present I got as a teen...over and over and over again.

Know what you SHOULD buy? Lisa's newest YA, FAR FROM YOU! A reason to buy it on December 23rd is because you'll have time off from work, and what better way to spend your down time than in front of the fireplace with a versed tale of the cold outside?

Deena, Miss Recently Repped

*Mom and Dad, if you are reading this, no hard feelings, right? :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A2A Teen Years: Why Great-aunt Martha Rocks

Tip of the Day: our very own Lisa Schroeder is giving away tons of awesome prizes (including a signed copy of her new book Far From You) on her blog.

After careful consideration I’ve decided there are two sides of the fence a person could belong on in regards to Holiday Gifts.

Fence Side 1: Those who think bad gifts exist

Fence Side 2: Those who think there’s no such thing as bad gifts

Maybe you think your Great-aunt Martha should belong on Fence Side 2, especially after the reindeer antler ear muffs she got you last year.

Dear Great-aunt Martha wouldn’t know a bad gift if it hit her over the head and lucky for you she has you on her gift buying list.

But if Great-aunt Martha doesn’t KNOW her gifts are bad, does it still make her gifts bad?

(Okay, that question is totally confusing, but think of it in the vein of “If a tree falls down in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”)

The answer to that question could also probably have people on opposite sides of the fence. But my answer would be: NO. For two reasons:

Reason 1 Great-aunt Martha Rocks: because she was thoughtful enough to buy you a present she thought you would like. And that rocks.

Reason 2 Great-aunt Martha Rocks: because even if you will NEVER be caught dead wearing reindeer antler ear muffs, I bet you will never forget the gift. And if you remember the gift ten years later and have a story to tell about it, then surely it was a memorable gift. Which of course means Great-aunt Martha rocks!

Now, personally, I don’t have a Great-aunt Martha and I’ve never received reindeer antler ear muffs (though, when I was younger I did have a pair of bear ones that I received as a holiday gift from my grandmother, which I loved to wear. But had I been a teen, I probably would have been mortified).

But I still think that there’s no such thing as a bad gift. Only ones that make you laugh more than others. Which is why I personally love the idea of White Elephant Gift parties. Where people raid Goodwill stores, garage sales, or their home for hideous items, and then wrap them up and give them away, or have a fun game to gift them.

And without cheesy, bad gifts you would never find such gems of presents as these that make you laugh:

If you look closely, you will find everything from a Polka vinyl record, another vinyl record that I am holding which had raccoons and bears on it (I really wish you could make it out in this picture---but trust me it was hideous), 80’s shirt clips, the ugliest barrettes ever made, and homemade snowman sweatshirts!!

Bonus Tip: Lisa’s book Far From You would make an excellent gift. White elephant or not. To switch it to a White Elephant gift you could design or buy a cheesy image book cover like these. That way not only would the person get a laugh opening it, but then they could take the cover off, see the awesome cover on the actual book and get a good book to read. In the words of my teen pal Miley Cyrus: It’s the Best of Both Worlds.

Happy Holidays!!!

--Emily, Miss Awaiting an Agent

Monday, December 15, 2008

A2A Teen Years: Ghost of Christmas Past

Tip of the Day: Looking for gift suggestions? Visit for links to lists of book recommendations, and check out the rest of my post for my recommendation.

Welcome to A2A: The Teen Years, where we explore our inner teen and dredge up those memories that work their way into stories. This week, we'll be blogging about our best and/or worst holiday gifts as teens, so feel free to join the party and share your own gift triumph or disaster in the comments.

What was my worst Christmas gift ever? Something homemade from a well-meaning aunt or age-inappropriate from Grandpa? Oh, no, mine was way worse. I qualify for that teen angst memory "boyfriend you're about to break up with buys you expensive jewelry."

The fact that I was seeing this guy in December wasn't entirely coincidence. He was a football player, and in my high school, wearing a guy's football jacket was the height of cool. I was slightly bothered by the chauvinistic ownership message implied by the whole football jacket thing, but you know, it was football season and those blue and gold jackets were really nice looking. Plus most of my friends were on the bandwagon and I was on the rebound from another breakup with my "on-again, off-again for four long years" high school boyfriend. But by Christmas, I'd realized that the jacket was cooler than the offensive lineman who'd asked me out. He'd seemed like a nice guy at first but time was revealing him to be jealous and possessive, the kind of guy who wanted to know where I went with my girlfriends (so he could show up unexpectedly) and why I didn't call him if I was going to be five minutes late getting home.

So I had major misgivings at Christmas, but how do you break up with someone on Christmas? I was learning that he had a bad temper too. I had to plot my escape carefully if I wanted to avoid a high school scandal. I'd play it cool at Christmas and break up with him before the New Years parties. And then he presented me with the most gaudy piece of jewelry I've ever seen. Seriously. It was an elaborate ankle bracelet that was meant to be worn as a necklace with hearts and freshwater pearls and our names engraved and every Long Island bell and whistle you can imagine. And here's the quiz: what was the worst aspect of this present?

a. He was so interested in draping me with another object with his name on it that he never noticed that I didn't wear jewelry.
b. It cost a chunk of money, and he didn't work because of football practice, so where did the money come from?
c. Engraved means non-returnable, right?
d. Now he was going to be twice as pissed when I broke up with him, and now I obviously needed to do that right away.

So I broke up with him, and on our first day back to school from the holiday break, he got suspended for ambushing my ex-boyfriend. Then he started driving by my house real slow at night, around the block, over and over. Then I was really scared because I'd have to get my parents involved, and my father was likely to go out there swinging a bat Sopranos-style. My father always got me the best Christmas presents but they'd usually fallen off a truck in Manhattan somewhere if you know what I mean. Oh, he wasn't mob connected, but he'd lived and worked in the city all his life and he'd picked up what he'd had to pick up. My suburban linebacker didn't stand a chance, but there was no way I wanted my father in trouble for my stupidity.

Well, in real life, it all worked out. My ex-boyfriend's friends convinced him he was being stupid and he got over his temper tantrum. It wasn't like we'd been together for more than a few weeks, so it blew over quickly. But in the fictional universe, if I ever finish the story I started about it, it will escalate, of course. Because such a traumatic (and ugly, did I mention ugly?) gift should at least be fodder for a story.

Do you want to avoid bad-gift trauma? Books are the perfect gift (you probably knew that!), and I'm psyched to remind you that A2A's Lisa Schroeder's novel Far From You goes on sale December 23, in time for your holiday shopping! My top reason to buy Far From You for the holidays: you can have it shipped from Amazon right now instead of waiting until December 23. Check it out at I'm hoping my husband ordered my copy. I wonder if I should search the house for it?

-- Kate, Miss Apprentice Writer

Friday, December 12, 2008

My arms are getting sore from all that pinching!

Tip of the day: A friendly reminder this holiday season – please, don’t drink and drive!

Wow, hasn’t it been fun to see all the cool name choices for my blogging buddies? I can’t wait to see what they choose! We’ll reveal our new names in the new year when we talk about our goals for the coming year.

Now, as far as my name, I suppose I should be at the point where I don’t have to pinch myself anymore. I’ve had one book on the shelves for almost a year, and another book comes out in less than two weeks.

Still, just a few weeks ago, I sold a mid-grade novel to Aladdin. And I was like, wait, I sold a MG novel? Me, Lisa, the one who wrote not one, not two, not three, but FOUR before one was finally good enough to be published? And then, just this week, I sold a third YA novel to my publisher, Simon Pulse. And I still can’t believe THAT happened. First of all, I sold on a partial. How do they know it will be any good? How do they know I’ll be able to finish it? Does my editor really believe in me that much??? Pinch. Ow!

So here are some ideas for me – let me know what you think!

Miss Stop Pinching and Get to Work – Okay, not the most catchy name, but it’s the truth! I have one novel to write and one novel to revise. If I use this one, every time I do a blog post and sign my name, it’ll remind me there is work to be done!

Miss Dreaming of Ditching the Day Job - Okay, I’d be lying if I said I don’t occasionally imagine what it’d be like to make enough to write full-time. But I don’t see it happening any time soon, certainly not in the next year, and if my boss happened to stumble upon this blog? Uh, not good.

Miss Pub Pub Pubbing Along – This is cute, and I like it a lot. Although, does it sound like I’m going brew pub hopping, trying to find the best tasting ale?

Miss Crafting a CareerThis one is nice, and easy to say. But when I read it, I sort-of feel stressed. With every word I write, I’m crafting a career? Yikes – the pressure!

Miss Don’t Stop Believing – Because it’s kind-of become my motto!

Love to hear which one you like best, or if you have any suggestions of your own.

~Lisa, Miss Pinch Me I’m Pubbed

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Who Am I? The Search for the REAL Me

(Doesn't that title make it sound like this is going to be a DEEP post?? It isn't.)

Tip of the Day: Join Buy a Book, Save the World on facebook.

It's kinda crazy to think almost a year has gone by since we started this blog. And really, my name is still pretty suitable- Miss Soon-to-Pub. Obviously I meant "soon" loosely-- like somewhere between a week and two years. And now I'm even sooner to pub since it's only about 9 months away.

*Pausing to comphrehend this. Whoa. 9 months isn't all that long is it?*

Ok, I'm back. So, I guess I could be Miss REALLY Soon to Pub. But that's not so catchy. Let's look over some more options and if you guys think of anything else, please, let me know.

Miss Pumped to Pub- Pretty self explanatory. I'm pumped!

Miss Proud to Pub- And proud too of course.

Miss Reved to Release- I guess this is kinda similar to pumped. But makes me sound like a motorcycle. Vroom vroom.

Miss Ready to Release- I'm so ready! But, then again, sometimes I'm not. Sometimes I like to just look forward to it like Christmas. Though I have been looking forward to it for a long time. Ok, I'm ready!

Miss Dying to Debut- Huh. Kinda gruesome. Maybe dying shouldn't be in there? Though I DO like "debut" since 2009 is my debut year.

Miss Delighted to Debut- I'm kinda liking this one the most. What do you think? I am definitely delighted. Though, when you read this title does it evoke a picture of me standing above the words with a big cheesy smile and a tray of muffins? Like on a cookbook? Or maybe that's just me. I should probably stop writing down everything I'm thinking...

Miss Plans to Pub Plenty- This is my goal one. In 2009, I hope to sell more books. (Let's hope the industry picks up!)

So do any of these work for me? If you have any other suggestions at all please let me know!

Kristina, Miss Soon-to-Pub (for now)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Names That I Call Myself (or Split Personality)

Tip of the Day: Buy books for all your holiday gifts! Support the industry!

So it's been almost a year since I signed with my agent. Wow! The year has flown by! And while we haven't gotten a book deal yet, we have a plan (more writing, revising, submitting, of course!). But after 365 days, I don't think I'm "recently repped" anymore.

What I am is all of these things -- but which one has the nicest ring to it/most meaning and hope?

Miss Determined to Debut -- I am certainly determined and pride myself on my determination.

Miss Coveting a Contract -- I like the aliteration, but does coveting sound negative?

Miss Subbing for Pubbing -- No lie here. This is what I'm doing and it has a nice Seuss-like rhyming quality.

Miss Sure to Sell -- The optimism here is wonderful, and I like a positive message.

Miss Envisioning Editors -- Yes, I think about the editors reading my manuscripts and picture them offering contracts.

Which of these Misses should I be for 2009? Or if you have any brand new suggestions, please post them in the comments!

Deena, Miss Recently Repped

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Should I be Miss Querylicious?

Tip of the Day—If you are interested in reading tons of first paragraphs or entering a first paragraph contest (which someone writing this blog might have also entered—you so want to compete against me and well 500-600 other people, don’t you? If you do, check out Nathan Bransford’s 2nd Sort-of-Annual Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Challenge.

I stand before you today a bit embarrassed I haven’t been forced to change my Miss Name yet. When we started this blog at the beginning of the year, I was optimistic and hopeful that 2008 would be my year and I would be at the very least agented by the end of it. Unless something miraculous happens within the next 22 days, that pretty much ain't happin' (but this is the season for miracles, isn’t it?)

And I discovered I’m okay with that. Because it means much better things are probably in store for me in 2009, and that’s a great feeling.

Even though I haven’t been forced to change my Miss Name because of a move onto the next stage of my writing journey, I do think it’s time for a not-so-forced change. Because change is good, right?

So without further ado, here’s some suggestions on a new name for yours truly who has been going by Miss Awaiting an Agent for the past year. Suggestions and thoughts in the comments section would be much appreciated, because you are talking to a girl who decides pretty much everything in her life with a mini-poll or survey.

Who Should Emily Be? Poll

Miss Will Be Repped-- I do like this, because it’s all about positive thinking and willing it to happen. Plus, if you read this fast it sounds like “Will Be Rapped.” (at least in my mind) and I’ve always secretly wanted to be a rap star. If only I didn’t have a problem with singing or talking fast, I would so be E-to-the-M or Miss Em-derstood!

Miss Agent Hunting—this was actually a possibility for last year. Even though the hunting aspect can be scary, because it makes me think of Bambie being shot, I do like that this Miss name implies it’s work and you are out there completing tasks instead of “awaiting an agent,” which sounds like agents frolic in a meadow and come to you.

Miss Ready for Rep—yep, am I ever ready.

Miss Query Widely—I like this because it’s so true, and it’s definitely motivation to get querying more. Plus, if you say it three times fast, it's a tongue twister. And having a name that's a game has always been a dream of mine.

Miss Querylicious—um, yeah, Tina suggested this one. And I like Tina and her love of “licious” words, so I included it. (Okay, who am I kidding? I secretly heart Beyonce and the song Bootylicious, too.)

Miss Revision Queen—I threw this one in there because I think much of my time last year was spend revising and not querying, and I was starting to feel bad that I was Miss Representin' myself and saying I was looking for an agent when I was really still putzing along and working on my manuscripts to make them agent-worthy. And I have a feeling much of this year will be the same.

Especially because several of us on the blog are making January JanNoWriMo (more of which I’m sure we’ll discuss later and invite all of you to join us, because the more people involved the more motivation it is for us to get our butts in gear and type away). Oh, yeah, and I’m also doing the same thing in December. So, yeah, two books written at breakneck speed. I'm so going to need to be a Revision Queen. Maybe I need to buy one of these tiaras to complete the look.

Thanks in advance for your help!

--Emily, Miss ???

Monday, December 8, 2008

New Year, New Goals, New Names

Tip of the Day: Thank you everyone who participated in our giveaway last week. If you won, remember to e-mail us your contact information at author2author dot blog at gmail dot com so we can get those books out in the mail to you!

This week at A2A, we continue with our one-year anniversary celebrations. We like to celebrate as long as possible. (My Christmas tree will probably stay up until mid-January.)

When we first started blogging, we each picked out a "Miss" name that encapsulated how we felt about our place in our writing careers. Deena had just gotten an agent, Lisa was launching her first novel ... we picked our names based on what was uppermost in our minds. But a year can bring a lot of change, especially to women who work as hard as my blog partners. Our Miss names don't seem to apply anymore. It's time for new names!

Currently, I sign my blog post "Miss Apprentice Writer" and I definitely still feel like an apprentice. Do you ever stop learning to write? But I have a lot on my mind, writing wise, and I think I want a name that will help me step up to the challenges of 2009. Can you help me pick one out?

Here are some suggestions we brainstormed:

Miss Optimistic Writer. This was one of my choices because I could use some optimism and maybe this will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Miss Ready to Revise. That's most of what I'll be doing this year: revising. A lot.

Miss Revision Goddess. I'm leaning towards this one because I want to be a revision goddess!
Miss Draft 'til You Drop. That seems to cover new works and revisions. It makes me sound like a go getter, I think.

Miss Perfecting My Prose. Doesn't that sound so sophisticated? Should I be sophisticated this year? Another variation is Miss Perfecting the Pages.

Miss Creative Crafting. It would be nice to have the word "creative" in my title to help me keep that as a top priority.

Did you ever notice that writers are supposed to be good at titles but most of us think we suck at it? I'm in the "I stink at titles" camp. So please let me know which name you like best in the comments. Thanks!

-- Kate, Miss ???

Saturday, December 6, 2008

And the winner is...

Wow, thanks so much to everyone who entered to win an ARC of FAR FROM YOU. Your messages were all so nice, and I wish I had a box here and could just send one to each of you!! That's the one thing I don't like about contests - I wish everyone could win!

But alas, this time there can only be one winner, and the winner is:


Please e-mail us your contact information at author2author dot blog at gmail dot com!

I will be having another contest starting December 21st and I'll be giving away a LOT of fabulous prizes, so stay tuned for more information on that.

Have a great weekend everyone. Please stop by next week where we're going to have some fun coming up with new Miss names. We'll be asking for your help and we hope you'll weigh in on what name you like the best for each of us.

~Lisa, Miss Pinch Me I'm Pubbed

Friday, December 5, 2008

We Heart Our Blog Readers - Holiday Giveaway Day 5

Tip of the day: Congrats to HOPE, the winner of Tina's book, Lauren Barnholdt's FOUR TRUTHS AND A LIE. Hope, please e-mail us at author2author DOT blog AT gmail DOT com with your mailing information to receive your prize!

Hasn't this been a fun week? Thanks for all who have participated! Today is your last chance and look what I'm giving away today!

Yes, that's right, I'm giving away my last Advanced Review Copy of FAR FROM YOU. I still haven’t figured out how to describe this book well in one sentence. I know, I get an F in the blurb department. This is the flap copy:

Lost and alone...down the rabbit hole

Years have passed since Alice lost her mother to cancer, but time hasn't quite healed the wound. Alice copes the best she can, by writing her music, losing herself in the love of her boyfriend, and distancing herself from her father and his new wife. But when a deadly snowstorm traps Alice with her stepmother and newborn half-sister, she'll face issues she's been avoiding for too long. As Alice looks to the heavens for guidance, she discovers something wonderful.

Perhaps she's not so alone after all...

So let's ask author Lisa Schroeder what she's thankful for.

Lisa: What are you thankful for in your writing life this past year?

Lisa: Well Lisa, I'm so glad you asked! Being an unknown author is hard. It's scary. It's nerve-wracking. Even now, with my second book coming out, and one that isn't getting nearly as much buzz as the first simply because it doesn't have as much of a hook as the first, I'm scared and nervous. So today, I want to thank those people who championed my first book. Because I'm REALLY thankful for those people. Here, let me show you.

For all of the people who bought I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, I'm thankful.
For all of the people who told their friends about I HEART YOU, I'm thankful.
For all of the teachers and librarians who handed I HEART YOU to a student, I'm thankful.
For all of the readers who blogged about it or reviewed it or gave it away in a contest, I'm thankful.

My book got a TON of support in the teen blogging community. And to all of you (you know who you are) I'm especially thankful. When I had the idea to do a fun contest and get a couple of teen bloggers involved to celebrate the release of FAR FROM YOU, I worried that I might not find anyone who would want to do it, because I'm asking them to do something pretty different for the contest. But you know what? The first two people I asked said yes. They didn't even hesitate. They were right there, willing to help me. So I'm also thankful to Vanessa and Liv, who you'll "see" more of in a couple of weeks when that contest gets underway.

In the meantime, leave a comment here, today, and you'll be entered for a chance to win an ARC of FAR FROM YOU. The book doesn't even come out until December 23rd, so you'll be winning it before you can buy it! Please note, we can only ship to the US and entries must be received by midnight EST, December 5th. For a second entry, link to this blog on your own blog and let us know in the comments. I'll do a special blog tomorrow letting you know who's won!

~Lisa, Miss Pinch Me I'm Pubbed

Thursday, December 4, 2008

On the fourth day of the holiday giveaway my blogger gave to me...

Tip of the Day: The winner of Deena's giveaway, KENDRA, is Khyrinthia. E-mail us at author2author DOT blog AT gmail DOT com with your mailing address to receive your prize.

Love, love, love giving away books! Especially to our wonderful readers because I know you guys totally love YA books just as much as we do. So today I'm giving away Lauren Barnholdt's FOUR TRUTHS AND A LIE.

I'm a total Lauren Barnholdt fan-- and not just because her books are always fun and clever and told in a great voice. Lauren is also a super cool person and taught me a lot in this whole YA writing world. Before I took her YA chick lit class online the summer of 2006 I'd never had another person read one of my books. Not even a family member or close friend. And I ended up with several great critique partners from her class. I also had never blogged or even heard of live journal or blogspot back then (yeah, I was living under a big rock). And I didn't know any other YA writers. And now from blogging around (I just love that phrase) I know tons. So, I'm thankful Lauren popped up in my google search that day back in 2006 and that I signed up for her class.

I asked Lauren what she was thankful for in her writing life this past year and here's what she said:

"There are so many writing-related things I'm grateful for this year. I have an amazing agent, a new chapter book series that will be out in the fall, and new deals for both my tween and YA books. And while all this stuff is exciting and wonderful, the thing I'm most thankful for is that over the past year, I've rediscovered my love for writing. I am so, so lucky to have found what I'm passionate about, what I love, and what I want to spend my time doing. So many people go their whole lives without finding that thing, that goal they can work toward and get better at. This year, I am most thankful just for writing. The pure joy of knowing that I've found it."

I totally agree! It is so awesome to get to do the thing you love. And one of you lucky readers will get to read one of Lauren's fab books by commenting here by midnight EST tonight (two entries if you post on your own blog and let me know). Lisa will post the winner tomorrow!

Kristina, Miss Soon-to-Pub

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thank You Blog Readers (or How Bout Stopping Eating When I'm Full Up*)

*With apologies to Alanis Morisette ("Thank U") in honor of holiday eating.

Tip of the Day: The winner of Emily's DEATH BY books is Bamabelle! Bamabelle, please email us at author2author DOT blog AT gmail DOT com with your mailing address to receive your prize!

I was very fortunate to attend the YALSA Symposium in Nashville, TN in November, where I schmoozed with authors and got copies of their autographed books. One such author was Coe Booth, an amazing writer with a fabulous personality, generous spirit, and great smile.
Coe's first novel, TYRELL, tells the story of a teen boy living in the projects of NYC who fights day to day to make sure he has food, shelter, and money to survive. Coe's second novel, KENDRA, which just came out in October, is about a teen girl who lives with her grandmother who is obsessed with making sure Kendra doesn't get pregnant as a teen like Kendra's own mother did with her. Both novels are gritty and emotional with realistic dialog and scenarios.
You can visit Coe on her newly revamped
website, or at the Longstockings blog.

I asked Coe, what writing-related anything from this past year is she thankful for. Her response:

"I really have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. I recently returned from my year-long writing residency in Switzerland, and I'm very thankful for being given that opportunity, especially since it came completely out of the blue!

"I'm also thankful that my second book KENDRA is out. It feels good to know real people are reading it, and I love the feedback I'm getting from readers.

"And now, as the deadline for my third book approaches, I'm really thankful that I'm able to write full-time. Time really is a gift -- one I'm really appreciating right now!"

Because the A2A Misses are thankful for YOU, our readers, we're giving you a chance to win books all week long (we can only ship to the U.S.). Comment to this post for a chance to win KENDRA by Coe Booth (please note the book is recommended for ages 15+) by midnight EST. For a second entry, link to this comment on your own blog and let us know in the comments.

Thanks for giving us a reason to blog!

Deena, Miss Recently Repped

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Holiday Giveaway--Day 2

Winner of the Day: Congratulations to TruBlu93! you are the winner of I Know It's Over. Please send your mailing address to author2author (dot) blog (at) gmail (dot) com!

Today I'm giving away not one, but TWO BOOKS. Yep, I'm so excited about the books in this series I had no idea which one to pick to give away so I decided to do both.

So to win a copy of both DEATH BY BIKINI and DEATH BY LATTE by the very talented Linda Gerber, please leave a comment. You can tell us what you are thankful for, you can tell us which cheesy holiday movie you are most excited to see (I need suggestions), or you can simply say hi. We don't care. Just leave a comment by midnight tonight. Deena will announce the winner on the blog tomorrow. And if you put the contest info on your blogs, let me know again, so you'll get double the chance to win.

Okay, now onto the fun part.

These books are incredibly fun and entertaining, and follow the life of Aphra Connolly. She grew up on a remote tropical island resort and mingled with the rich and famous. But in Death by Bikini when a guest washes up dead on the beach lots of mystery follows. In the sequel Death by Latte, Aphra's adventures continue in Seattle. These books have mystery, tropical islands, coffee shops, and hot boys. What more could you ask for?

The author Linda Gerber agreed to participate in our mini interview, and was willing to share what she's thankful for in her writing life.

Take it away Linda...

"I was glad that Emily asked me to take a moment to write about what writing-related thing I was most thankful for this past year. Thinking about all that I've been blessed with was awonderful exercise - I highly recommend this to anyone! The problem was, I couldn't decide on only one thing, so I decided to list the top ten - in no particular order:

1. Fans. I wouldn't be writing if people weren't reading, so I am incredibly grateful for them! Especially the readers who take time to send me a note letting me know they are enjoying the books. It makes all the hard times worth it!

2. My Critique Group. I belong to a fantastic Crit group. We've been together for six years, and we haven't killed each other yet!

3. My Editor. I have been lucky enough to work with the same editor on every book so far - a novelty in the industry, I understand - plus she's probably the kindest, most diplomatic editor in the business.

4. Puffin's Book Designers. I LOVE the covers they gave me for the DEATH BY series!

5. My Agent. I signed with Elaine after the DEATH BY series had sold. Even though she isn't the agent of record for those books, she has been incredibly supportive and patient with me as I finished up with them and we launched into our next project together.

6. Teen Fiction Cafe. I feel incredibly lucky to be included with this group of talented blogging YA authors.

7. Online Friends. LOVE connecting with other authors, writers, readers, librarians, reviewers and interesting people online!

8. My patient family. They deserve sainthood for the number of times they've endured takeout, undone laundry, being locked out of my office and other indignities that go along with being saddled with a wife/mom who is a writer.

9. Really Good Books. Reading keeps me going!

10. Diet Coke. Nectar of the Gods. Has seen me through many a deadline."

Doesn't she sound just nice and sweet?! Thanks so much Linda for stopping by. We are incredibly thankful for you and your awesome books! And of course for Diet Coke.

--Emily, Miss Awaiting an Agent

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanks Readers! Holiday Giveaway Week

Tip of the Day: Can't get enough of giveaways? Check out Tina Springer's Livejournal at for a chance to win The Twelve Dates of Christmas. But be quick--her giveaway ends at midnight tonight!

We have got a phenomenal week planned and I am PSYCHED. We're giving away 5 different novels this week, just in time for you to give as gifts. Or keep them for yourself! I would. Not to be selfish but these are great books we're talking about here. And here's our holiday theme: thankfulness. We want to thank you, our readers, for a fantastic year in the blogosphere, a year that I have loved.

I get to start off with a novel I absolutely loved, I Know It's Over by C.K. Kelly Martin. This book was so highly recommended to me, I couldn't wait to read it, and I was not disappointed. I Know It's Over is the story of Nick and Sasha from Nick's point of view, and what happens when: they break up, Sasha discovers that's she's pregnant, and Nick's broken heart threatens to overwhelm his life. I am very envious of how well C.K. Kelly Martin writes emotions. Nick and Sasha were portrayed so truthfully it seems amazing they don't really exist.

I asked C.K. Kelly Martin what she's most thankful for in her writing life. (Was it her talent for making her readers feel along with her characters? That wouldn't have surprised me.) She said:

Since my first book was released this year I feel like I have so much to be thankful for but at the very top of this list would be the fact that I'm writing in a place and time that allows me the intellectual freedom to explore whatever themes and subject matter I'm drawn towards. Books do get challenged in North America (the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom received 420 reports of book challenges in 2007) but attempts to restrict access to books like Uncle Bobby's Wedding and The Perks of Being a Wallflower are themselves often challenged. We also celebrate these same books during Banned Books Week in the States and Freedom to Read Week in Canada. I know my agent has faced difficulties in placing I Know It's Over with certain foreign publishers because of its subject matter. In some countries that knocked the novel out of consideration from the very beginning but I'm so incredibly grateful that in a country where a sizeable segment of the population support abstinence-only sex education (although thankfully the tide really seems to be turning on this) and would like to see Roe v. Wade overturned that Random House was willing to publish a book where teen sexuality is explored and abortion is given serious consideration as one option to an unplanned pregnancy. It's amazing to be writing in a time and place where authors can feel free to tell the truth about difficult situations and not have to worry that will automatically mean our books will never have the opportunity to find their way into readers' hands!

I love this answer. You can tell from it how well-thought out and honest this novel is. Thanks, C.K.

So, would you like to win this book for your very own? All you have to do is leave a comment before midnight EST. Mention our giveaway week in your own blog and you get two entries! Just let us know you linked to us in your comment. We can only mail books within the continental United States. Emily will announce my winner in her post tomorrow. And she'll be announcing her own choice of book to give away. Oh, man, wait until y'all see the titles we're offering this week and the authors we've spoken to. You have GOT to check back. And thank you for all the times you've checked us out.

-- Kate, Miss Apprentice Writer

Friday, November 21, 2008

One Thankful Author

Tip of the day: It will be quiet here at Author2Author next week, as we celebrate Thanksgiving with our loved ones. But we’ll return on December 1st with a fun giveaway to say thank you to YOU, our ever faithful blog readers. The only chance to *win* an Advanced Review Copy of FAR FROM YOU by yours truly will be right here! So we’ll see you then.

2008 will always be remembered as the year my first novel came out. I have friends, including our own Tina, who are looking forward to the release of their first novel in the coming months. It can be a scary, stressful time as you worry about reviews, blurbs, a web site, marketing, sales, etc. etc. So I thought for this post, I would share what I’m thankful for as far as being an author of a young adult novel.

I’ve gained more confidence. Knowing I have an agent and an editor who believe in me has made a huge difference in my writerly life. First my agent, then my editor took a chance on me and my strange little book about a ghost written in verse. While I still struggle at times with doubts, as we all do, it is a good thing to have people in my corner who believe in me. I am more confident in my abilities and perhaps I work even harder, because I want them to be happy with the work I produce.

It’s a dream come true. I can remember a time when I didn’t even know if I could write a novel. But I did. Again and again. And I dreamt of what it would be like if I ever sold one and had kids actually reading a book I wrote. I wanted that. I wanted to know what that felt like. And now I know. Which leads me to the best thing about being an author of a young adult novel.

Connecting with readers. It’s been amazing to see how my book has touched people. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined some of the notes I’ve gotten from readers. Some tell me how they’ve become more thankful of the special people in their life. Some tell me they feel less alone after experiencing the death of a loved one. And some have talked to me about how they don’t especially like to read, but they enjoyed my book, and many ask for my recommendation on other books they might enjoy. I can’t even find the words to describe how amazing it is to know I’ve touched someone’s life and maybe even changed it a little for the better.

So now, I’m looking forward to 2009 and all of the wonderful books coming out. This is an exciting time in young adult literature, and I’m so blessed to be a part of it.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Author2Author!

~Lisa, Miss Pinch Me I’m Pubbed

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Tip of the Day: Mush up some of the left-over Thanksgiving stuff together in a bowl the next day and heat & eat. It’s good. Really. :-)

I love this week of seeing what everyone else is thankful for and looking back on what I'm thankful for in my writing life too. And sometimes we're thankful for similar things so obviously that means they are extra cool. Like,

1) Critique Partners-- Critique partners are amazing-- they are so smart and see so many things in your writing that you may not see. Like when something really sucks or something is really great or something should be added/deleted.

2) Writing Friends-- They are just the best. They get what you are doing, they understand and share the struggles and triumphs and they are so supportive. I'm especially thankful for the A2A ladies and our cool readers, my Live Journal friends, my MySpace and facebook pals, and the Debs.

3) My Family-- They rock. They just get it and let me do my thing when I need to.

4) Time-- I'm thankful for any time I get to do this thing that I love.

5) My Agent-- I'm happy she keeps enjoying my books and is trying to sell more.

6) My Editor-- I'm thankful for the whole putting a book together experience I've had over the past year and for her helping make my book awesome.

7) Low-fat wheat pretzels from Trader Joe's-- Dang they’re good and I always pack a ziplock of them to snack on while I write.

8) The future- And all the possibilities of what will happen in my (and your) writing life (lives) next. So much to look forward to!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Kristina, Miss Soon-to-Pub

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thanking the Thankless (or Yes, I'm Thankful for People, Too)

Tip of the Day: Amidst the business of the holiday eating season, don't forget your workouts. I recommend Hip Hop Hustle!

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm thankful for my writing buddies and their LJ posts and Verla's BlueBoard and SCBWI and its organizers. Of COURSE I'm thankful for those people -- I better be or I have no business even using their bright minds and amazing resources to my advantage.

But what about the thankless? Those things that make my writing life so much easier than never get thanked? I'm going to thank them right now.

1) The Table-Mate II. Before the Manpanion bought me this gizmo, I was writing on my laptop on my LAP. Can you believe it? The ergonomic atrocities! But thanks to the brilliant inventors of the Table-Mate II, I can write in couch-cushioned comfort all night long. Thank you, Table-Maters, for your genius crafting of metal and plastic!

2) The Republic of Tea's Blackberry Sage Tea. It's delicious, smells amazing, can be drank warm in the winter and cold in the summer, and it provides that needed boost of caffeine for late night writing sessions without clogging you down with sugar. (I save that for #3 on the list.) Thank you, Republic of Tea, for brewing a tasting concoction that gets me through the day!

3) Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Chips. Sometimes, despite best intentions, sugar is needed. And if you're gonna do it, you might as well do it right. For best results, freeze before consuming. Use sparingly. And do sets of 30 jumping jacks between 30-minute sessions of writing and snacking. Thank you, Hershey family, for your brilliant combination of cocoa and whatever else goes in your chips!

What are YOU thankful for that you think's been forgotten from most people's thankful lists?

Deena, Miss Recently Repped

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pre-Acknowledgement Post—Writing Things I’m Thankful For

Tip of the Day: If you are in or visiting an area near a casino. Make sure to people watch. Great character ideas abound. And if you are looking for teen or kid character ideas, check out the arcade!

I have a confession to make. Maybe it’s a writer thing or the fact I still have a 6th grade Gossip Girl living inside of me, but I’m an acknowledgementoholic. The first thing I do when buying a new book is open the spine and check out the acknowledgement section. I’m fascinated by all the people that help in making books, and who has helped the writer along the way.

So you can guess I’m excited for this week. Because not only do we get to thank people that have helped us, but we get to talk about general writing things we are thankful for.

So without further ado, here’s what I’m thankful for writing-wise:

1. Critique Partners: Yes, it’s cliché, but having critique partners in the past that didn’t work out for various reasons, I am incredibly thankful for the ones I have. All of them have different strengths than I do, and are incredibly insightful when critiquing my work. Also, they are one of the best writing support systems. I think I might have quit on several books if it wasn’t for them reassuring me that “no, you don’t write like a drunk monkey,” or that they want to see my book in print so I better send it in. See what I mean? Invaluable!!

2. Online Friends: Not only my online critique partners that have been a tremendous support and encouraging force that has kept me going through all the close calls, but blog friends and buddies that I’ve enjoyed reading posts, learning about their writing, and hearing they are going through some of the same joys and struggles I am. It’s almost a necessity in this solitary business.

3. Supportive family (i.e. my husband): I’m incredibly thankful for everything my husband does, but in regards to supporting my writing he’s a tremendous help. Not only as a shoulder to cry on after a harsh rejection or close call, but the fact he’s never complained when I zone out mid-sentence because I’m thinking about writing stuff, when I pause the TV mid-show because I have to jot down my writing idea before I forget it, when I shut the door to write in complete silence, or sometimes emerge much later smelling like a left over turkey sandwich. And even now he’s letting me write this blog entry despite the fact we are in crapped hotel room, it’s way too early, he’s trying to sleep, and the glow from the computer screen and tapping of keys isn’t the easiest to tune out. Is that supportive or what? I’m also thankful for my parents and grandparents who are incredibly encouraging and want to see me succeed at writing, and the fact they instilled a love of reading upon me at a young age.

4. Learning to grow: I’m so thankful that I continue to grow in my writing abilities, and that I’m willing and open to pushing myself further. I’ve had several jobs in the past where I’ve just lost interest in, but with writing, despite how frustrating it is at times, I’m glad I’m still willing to give publishing a try. Because if I didn’t, I think I might always regret the “what if.”

5. Close calls: having written seriously for several years now, I’ve had my fair share of close calls. Several requested revisions that almost made it, but didn’t pan out because of another person not approving, the market, or just general losing of interest from the requesting person. Yes, they are frustrating and yes they make you want to cry. But then after that’s passed, I’m thankful for knowing that I’m close. That at any moment one of the close calls could be The Call. And I’d rather know my strengths and weaknesses as a writer to continue to grow further, and make the best books I can. And I’m thankful these people saw potential in me that they took time away from their busy schedules to write in some cases very detailed revision suggestions that helped improve my books!

I’m thankful for so much more, but if I go on further I worry I might sound like a Hallmark card or movie. Which I generally love, don’t get me wrong. But maybe it’s best to keep some of my thankfulness for my acknowledgement page! Gotta have some suspense, you know?

--Emily, Miss Awaiting an Agent

P.S. I'm also thankful for the Aroma Coffee Shop in Reno, NV, because after driving around all morning, they were the only ones that weren't going to charge me an arm and a leg to use their WiFi for less than 5 minutes to post this! Thank you!

Monday, November 17, 2008

And Also I'm Thankful for Turkey and Cranberry Sauce Sandwiches

Tip of the Day: Only 38 days until Christmas!

This week at Author2Author, we’re kicking off the holidays by blogging about what we’re thankful for in our writing lives. And, you know, it’s pretty easy to be thankful. I’m mostly thankful to be born in this time and place. I can work on a PC in the evenings and weekends, rather than using a sharpened quill or spending all my time foraging for food and wood. But all the people clogging the highways with me on my morning commute are also recipients of the gifts of living in a first world country in the 21st century. What makes me different from most of them? What makes me a writer and not a plumber or an accountant or an embezzler?

OK, perhaps I don’t have the education to make a good embezzler. But I think what drives me to be a writer, what makes me most thankful in my writing life, is that I was raised to have a wacky sense of humor. Nothing reminds me of this more than the holidays.

Like, we had this gorgeous old Nativity set that belonged to my grandmother and each piece was about a foot tall. We placed it under the tree every year. One of the wise men lost his head. So we used to balance the wise man’s head carefully on his shoulders and hide gifts behind him. When someone came to our house to celebrate, we’d ask him to hand us the gift we had tucked away. Naturally, the wise man’s head would fall off and my brothers and I would gasp and yell, “Oh, no, you killed the wise man!” This remained hysterically funny to us year after year. We called our Nativity people “the Wise Guys.” We also had assorted angel body parts hanging from the tree since we refused to get rid of broken ornaments, and there was much family laughter when we hung the disembodied heads on the tree.

I was very picky about the tinsel. We called that foil stuff you get at the dollar store “tinsel” and I despised clumps of it on the tree. “Separate the strands!” I’d tell my brothers every year. “Don’t just chuck it on there! No clumps!” The first year I attended college away from home, I drove home for the semester break at night. My brothers had tossed the Christmas lights into one big clump in the bushes to welcome me home.

Every year when How the Grinch Stole Christmas came on, the whole family would gather around the TV and complete silence was mandatory. I don’t know what the penalty would be for breaking the silence because nobody did. I learned the genius of Boris Karloff, Chuck Jones, and of course Dr. Seuss from my father’s absolute worship of this Christmas special. He always laughed, every year. When I asked him why he still enjoyed it so much even though he was an adult, he said, “Kate, we’ll always be kids on the inside.”

I thought he meant everyone, and it took me a long time to realize that not everyone stays a kid on the inside. And I’m thankful that my parents thought it was OK for me to stay a kid on the inside. I’m thankful we had a house where we could laugh all the time, where it was funny that the ornaments were all broken and you could watch the Grinch for free on TV and it was the highlight of the year. I think I became a writer so I could keep that feeling of looking at the world and finding it remarkably, amazingly weird and funny. I hope I can share that feeling with readers someday.

-- Kate, Miss Apprentice Writer

Friday, November 14, 2008

Getting a negative review and living to tell about it

Tip of the Day: Have some Christmas shopping to do? Start now! Only 40 shopping days left!

All right. Let’s talk about reviews.

Specifically, bad reviews.

Good reviews are a piece of cake. Starred ones leave you, well, starry-eyed. A good review, especially a starred one, gives the author validation that his/her book is worth reading. Actually, even better - worth buying!

But bad ones? They hurt. There is just no way around it, unfortunately. As a book release approaches, an author is trying to figure out ways to get the word out. Marketing is probably occupying the brain about 75% of the time two months before a release. The hope, I think, is that some reviews will come in that get people talking. Because that’s what you want, right? A buzz. A buzz that it is so persistent, people just can’t ignore it and so they go to the bookstore and buy the book.

THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins is a book that had so much buzz around it I just HAD to go and get the book. And I wasn’t disappointed, believe me.

But how often does a buzz like that really happen? It seems to me, not very often. So is it realistic for us to think that any review might even come close to doing this for us? Probably not.
So what if a review comes in for your book, and it’s not what you were hoping for? In fact, it’s quite the opposite of what you were hoping for. Is it the end for your book? Like, is it over before it even began?

No. Not at all. First I think you have to ask the question, who is going to read the review journal? In the kidlit world, it’s primarily librarians and teachers. Most or all of the reviews will also end up on Amazon and B&N, but I wonder, in the end, how important those reviews are to regular readers? I think readers often put more weight into what other readers have to say versus professional publications, but that’s just a guess on my part.

Negative reviews remind me a lot of a harsh critique. At first, it stings. At first, you want to argue with everything negative being said. But eventually, after some time has passed, your brain begins to ponder the comments, and you might even begin to think, yeah, maybe that is something I need to work on.

One of my reviews for I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME talked about how, beyond Ava, my characters were only “shallowly realized.” I can tell you that those words stuck with me, and as I wrote my next book, I found myself paying more attention to the character development.

As they say, that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?

~Lisa, Miss Pinch Me I’m Pubbed

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My Cover

Tip of the Day: Facebook is SO much fun! You should sign up. And then friend me.

I don't want to right out say I'm a psychic but I may open up a 900 line in the near future. Remember earlier in the year when I talked about my Cover Dreams? When I said I couldn't really imagine my cover but that maybe it would have a big espresso mug and maybe it would be brown or pink.

I swear I had no input but check it out:

What do you think? It's cute right? And I'm definitely a fan of the pink. Whenever I hit a bookstore or library I pick up the pink books first. (Hopefully I'm not the only one who does this).

Ahhhh. At first I thought the whole publishing process was going so slow. And now it feels like it's picking up speed! Sure, the book still won't be out until next fall but it's almost 2009! Next stop is ARCs. And then reviews (only good reviews please). And the marketing prep. Fun stuff ahead!

Kristina, Miss Soon-to-Pub

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's the Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of (or "It's the Stu-uffed Green Tomatoes"*)

* With apologies to Carly Simon

Tip of the Day: Never travel via airplane without a bag on wheels -- even if it's just a carry-on. When you have to sprint through the Atlanta airport from concourse E to concourse C to catch your next flight that leaves in 5 minutes and your bag is full of free YA novels, you will regret it.

This past weekend I was in Nashville for a YALSA (Young Adult Librarian Services Association) conference. The sessions were fantastic. I learned lots of things that I can apply as a librarian and as a writer.

And I realized I want to some day speak at a YALSA conference. This is my newest/latest/additional career goal.

It was so amazing to be among so many people who love literature for teens! I could turn to anyone around me and talk about YA books, and freedom of speech. There were other librarians writing books, too! If a presenter mentioned a book but couldn't remember the author's name, at least one person in the audience would know who it was. Usually more than one. So cool.

For the librarians, the visiting authors were rock stars. I've never seen so many women in one room racing for YA novels like it was their oxygen. (And yes, I was one of them.) It's not that I want to be a rock star, but to know that so many people understand the value and importance of literature for teens is reaffirming and rewarding. I want to speak to people who know this.

So I'm putting it out there. I will sell my books, and I will speak at a YALSA conference to fantabulous librarians who know what teens need, enjoy, and treasure.

Deena, Miss Recently Repped

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The J.K. Rowling Effect

Tip of the Day: in between all your writing, don’t forget to make time for reading too!

Working in a library I am exposed to wannabe writers on a frequent basis. I am constantly amazed at the number of people in our community that want to publish a book.

But out of the large section of wannabe writers, I’m starting to notice an interesting trend. These people tend to fall into two groups.

Group 1: Potential writers that read
Group 2: Potential writers that don’t read

And a large portion of these people are in Group 2. People who are not readers, nor do they want to be.

Writing that sentence seems like an oxymoron to me. What’s the point of writing if you don’t read? And if you don’t read, then how on earth do you expect other people to want to read your book? (Yes, even if people are in Group 2, they still want to “publish” a book traditionally and see it on library shelves ::hits head against desk::).

I attribute this trend to the J.K. Rowling Effect.

There are many potential J.K. Rowling Effects. But in this instance, I mean people that hear about J.K. Rowling’s story: about how she was on welfare and looking for a way to support herself and her kids, so she wrote a book, and now she’s richer than the Queen of England.

But they don’t hear about all the rejection she went through to get that success.

There’s a lot of misconceptions about publishing, but I have to say this is one of the ones that baffles me the most.

And I’m amazed it comes up as much as it does.

Because for every one person that is genuinely interested in learning about writing, invested in taking the writing programs we offer at our library, and doing research on the subject by reading books or blogs like this, there’s another person that walks in and basically wants you to publish their book for them. And the last thing those people want to do is pick up a book and read what others are writing, because nine times out of ten, they “don’t think their book is like any out there, so what’s the point in reading others.”

If this happens at our little, local library, I have no idea how publishing companies and agents deal with this on a daily basis.

Nor do I understand where so many people got the idea publishing is an easy process, that most people make a lot of money from it, or that you don’t have to edit your novels before publishing them, but I wish it would stop.

Does this happen in other industries, too? Does every Joe Schmo going to an acting audition believe if they get a gig they can become Brad Pitt. Despite the fact, they don’t even want to read the script before the audition?

Because I really don’t think people would expect that. But maybe I’m naïve like that.

So to do my part to end this particular J.K. Rowling Effect, anytime anyone asks me anything about writing or publishing, I am going to slip in somewhere in the conversation that to be a writer, you have to be a reader.

--Emily, Miss Awaiting an Agent

Monday, November 10, 2008

Working the Rochester Children's Book Festival

Tip of the Day: Check out this blog post Tina pointed me to: on poor book sales in October. Depressing, but there's hope!

I didn't want to steal Tina's find for my Tip of the Day, but it piggybacks on my news from the weekend. I volunteered at the 2008 Rochester Children's Book Festival on Saturday. Can you say CROWDED? Wow! What a fantastic turnout! It was the best turnout for the festival ever. The authors sold out of many of their titles halfway through the day. The onsite bookstore sold out of their titles. We were afraid people wouldn't be buying books due to the economy but that was way off.

Anyway, I'm still recovering from hours on my feet saying "The authors are signing upstairs. Bruce Coville and Tamora Pierce are speaking in the Red Room. Follow the red balloons. The zoomobile is downstairs. Jeff Mack is reading in the yellow room. Follow the yellow balloons. The elevator is behind you." I gave people directions for hours. Almost everybody was friendly except for the parents of kids who didn't get balloons. Look, every kid got a free balloon, but sometimes the balloon people had to restock for a minute. Tip to organizers of children's events: Balloons are serious business!

Anyway, it's amazing how hard the volunteers worked and how long of a day our authors had. But if you get a chance, volunteer! I had a great time! Thanks to the phenomenal Barbara Underhill for coordinating the volunteers and sending me these pictures. And thanks everyone who made it out to Rochester for a successful event. The authors shown here are Bruce Coville, Michelle Knudsen, Tamora Pierce, Vivian Vande Velde, and Ellen Stoll Walsh.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Learning to love myself at age 41

Tip of the Day: If your kids STILL have too much candy, offer to buy it from them and throw it away. Who knows, it might actually save you money if you prevent a cavity or two!

Warning: I apologize in advance if my posts get more and more angsty with each passing week. I have a book coming out in less than two months. Need I say more?

Sometimes I wish I could go back to the days when the internet didn't exist. Do people even remember those days? Like, when I was in high school? No internet. We didn't send e-mails or IM each other or even text on our cell phones. We wrote notes and passed them to each other in the halls. By the way, how come I didn't keep those notes? Dang. I want those notes!

Anyway, reading blogs lately is not a good thing for me. It's like I read blogs of really famous authors who are selling mega books and their careers are booming and I think how I'll never be that famous, and I get depressed. Then I read about authors getting awards and how great their books are and I think, I'll never be that good of a writer. And I get more depressed. Then I read about all these new up-and-coming authors with two and three book deals and their stories sound SO awesome, and I think how they could be the next Stephenie Meyer and lucky them, and then I get super-duper depressed.

And now I'm probably making you depressed. Which is not something I want to do. But seriously, I think this is something that writers, published or not, have to figure out how to deal with. Just like in real life, there are always going to be people who have more than me. I have become pretty good at being thankful for what I have in life, and counting my blessings every day. I don't care that much about things. I care about relationships. I care about doing something that matters to me and hopefully helps to make the world a better place. I care about saving money, not spending it, so hopefully I can send my kids to college and do some traveling later in life.

So, in my book life, how can I be thankful for what I have, and not get caught up in wanting things I don't have and letting it weigh me down? Is it possible?

Perhaps I need to ask myself WHY do I find myself wanting the success, the awards, the fame?

Money is a small part of it. No, I don't want things, nor do I want a bigger house or a fancy car. But it comes back to saving for the future, and knowing with some peace of mind that things will be okay. I'd love to have a little more peace of mind.

Mostly, though, I think it's about how I perceive myself. There is something inside of me that no matter how hard I try to turn it off, I want to be one of the cool kids. One of the popular kids. I always have. I never quite made it in high school and I know in my heart I'll never quite make it in the publishing world.

So what's a girl to do?

A girl is to smack herself upside the head and say - "Knock it off." This is no different than me staring at the People magazine and getting all sad because I don't look like Heidi Klum. It's ridiculous! There is only one Heidi Klum. And it's NOT me.

As writers, just like teens, we have to become comfortable in our own skin. We have to be who we are and learn to accept ourselves as we are. Is it easy? No. Of course not! But it's the only choice, really. Every day, we can choose to be happy for what we get to do, which is WRITE, or we can choose to be depressed because of all that we don't have.

Now, I'm off to sit at the benches where the cool kids *don't* sit and there is no internet, and write a book that may or may not be fabulous. Care to join me? I'll write you a note with lots of Xs and Os. That's something I'm REALLY good at.

~Lisa, Miss Pinch Me I'm Pubbed

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I Don’t NaNo and I’m Okay

Tip of the Day: Try the new Espresso Truffle at Starbucks. It's YUMMY.

It’s that time of year again—NaNoWriMo. Every year when it comes around I think oooh—that looks like fun. So many writers do it and everyone is blogging about how their projects are coming along and look at them all whip books out in just a month. It’s pretty cool. I’m in awe of those of you who can do it. But I just can’t do it. I’d love to, but it feels like an impossible thing for me.

1) I don’t work that way. I can’t just force myself to hammer out X amount of words a day. For me personally, most of them would probably be thrown out if I was forcing them like that. I need time to think about things—like sometimes days thinking about a scene or what should happen next. And THEN I sit down and write it. I may only get 1000-3000 words written a week this way. Definitely not good for NaNo-ing.

2) I can’t find the time every day. I don’t work really well when I’m tired so waiting until the end of the day is useless. I just want to go to sleep. First thing in the morning doesn’t work out for me either because that’s when I exercise and I can’t just ditch that either. All that time in the middle is all the stuff with the kids. So I have to set planned writing dates where my husband is hanging with the kids and I go out to write somewhere. Totally not conducive to Nano-ing.

3) I also always wonder why this takes place in November. Isn’t November a busy month for everybody? What with Thanksgiving and then getting ready for the winter holidays? Maybe Nano should be in February or March?

Anyway, I just wanted to let everyone know that I don’t NaNo and I’m okay. I used to feel guilty about it (like every good writer should be doing this! Why am I not doing this?!) and maybe that is just a mom thing—we always feel guilty about one thing or another. But I’m okay with it now—my system works for me.

Kristina, Miss Soon-to-Pub