Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I'm Stealing That! (or Careful, or you'll end up in my novel*)

*With apologies to whoever originally put that on a sweatshirt.

Tip of the day: You can pre-order Miss Delighted to Debut's debut here! Only one month til release time!

Here's some real life gems that I heard recently that I have to incorporate into a novel:

1) A waitress had to cut-off two customers after they get their fifth free pasta entree refill, and then the eaters got mad bc they claimed they didn't get their money's worth.

2) A teen boy came home smelling of beer, puke, and urine after a party and convinced his mom that the reason she saw him sleepwalking to the dresser and peeing in it was because he was innocently slipped a drug into his non-alcoholic beverage while hanging with a boy from the church; his mom believed it bc she wanted to.

3) A crazy mom who took her 12-year-old kid to a school quiz bowl and when another kid showed up to compete, the mom said to the other boy, "You're here? I didn't know you were smart."

What have you heard lately that is begging to be included in a story?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Birthdays can be fun

Tip of the Day: want an interesting birthday cake idea? Try a Kahlua Bundt Cake. Yummy.

This week is Birthday week at A2A. And since today is mine, I've made the executive decision to take the day off.

Here have some cake for me.

I'm also sharing my cake with Deena who has a very special birthday coming up on Thursday. Happy Early B-day Deena. Let this be the year of a sale for you! :)

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, September 28, 2009

When the Kids Grow Up

Tip of the Day: If the characters in your novel all have names that start with different letters, it makes writing shorthand notes on index cards after a drive or a shower a lot easier!

On Friday, Lisa answered the eternal question: how do you find the time to write? We all ask ourselves that question, but it seems to be the hardest on parents with young children. "Write during naptime" doesn't work so well when Baby's naptime is exactly when your preschooler wants your attention. When my kids were that young, I got my writing done at night. I tell parents "it gets easier as they get older." But does it?

It's another adjustment, that's for sure. My oldest turns 11 next month, and the days of 8 o'clock bedtime are long behind me. At 10 at night, she's still up worrying about the next day. I'm more wiped out at night too. Sure, my kids are less physically exhausting now, but they're more mentally challenging, and I kind of needed some of that brain to write with.

Now I'm really living in a house with four people sharing space. Four loud,
hungry, television watching, opinionated people. It's not that my family doesn't respect my writing time. But they talk to me while I read, watch TV, cook, sew ... they don't see how writing could be any different.

I tend to write in five minute spurts now, interrupted constantly by "Honey, you need a new back tire, I'm calling the shop"; "Mommy, can you take these Legos apart for me?"; "I am SO the only kid not allowed to sleep over Cortney's house tonight!"

On the other hand, they get invited to birthday parties and play dates (well, not my husband, but the kids at least). Which brings me to the only tip I have, the absolute only thing I have learned about writing with older kids in the house: when they're not home, for God's sake, don't do the laundry or vacuum! Write!

Pretty soon, my kids will be old enough to do the laundry and vacuum for me. Right, parents of teenagers? I'm right about this, aren't I? You're not laughing, are you?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, September 25, 2009

Answering the queston "How do you find the time?"

Tip of the day: It’s almost October! How did that happen? Anyway, hurry, shop for Halloween costumes now, before the best ones are gone!

I get asked all the time how I do everything I do.

I work a day job.

I have a family, including two kids in school, one of whom asks for help with his homework almost every evening.

I write books.

I have a dog I like to walk, for both of our sakes, and a few TV shows I can’t live without. Okay, okay, I COULD live without them, but I just really don’t want to. I mean, Tim Gunn gives me a reason to get up on Friday mornings! (I know, PROJECT RUNWAY is on Thursdays, but I can’t stay up until 11:00, so I record it and watch it after we have our weekly pizza dinner Friday evening).

Anyway, I’ve definitely got a lot going on.

So, in no particular order, here is my top five list on how to squeeze that writing in.

1) Figure out when you are at your best and do your writing then. Some people do well at night after everyone is asleep. I am not one of those people. I’m better at getting up early. But it really doesn’t matter WHEN you get to the keyboard, just that you do.

2) You have to learn how to get in some writing even when you don’t have a lot of time. If you only have 15 minutes that day, make the most of that 15 minutes. Open the document, read the couple of paragraphs you wrote before right before you left off, and just get started. The hardest part is usually getting started. DON’T MAKE EXCUSES. Open the document and GO.

3) When I’m trying to get a first draft done, I make it a goal to do at least 100 words a day NO MATTER WHAT. Usually I end up doing more than that, but this simple goal forces me to think about my time throughout the day and I am ALWAYS able to find the time to open the document and add some words.

4) The internet is an evil distraction – you must have designated writing time and you must have designated internet time. I try to write in big chunks on the weekends, since I have more time then, and I work really hard to stay away from the internet during that time. If I have to turn the internet router OFF, I do it.

5) Sometimes, in order to find the time to write, I do have to give up something else. I find that as long as I don’t give up the SAME thing each time, it’s doable. A couple of days a week, I may give up 30 minutes of sleep, and get up earlier than I normally do. A couple of days a week, I may not exercise as long as I usually do. A couple of days a week, I may spend less time responding to e-mails and doing promotional things. Every day – it’s about prioritizing and making choices.

Finally, the last thing is to not be too hard on yourself. I have some days and even some weeks where there is just too much going on and writing takes a backseat. It doesn't do any good to beat myself up about it, because usually those days/weeks are ones where I'm stressed to the max anyway. So, I tell myself, it's okay. That's life!

Any tips you have on how to fit writing in to a busy life?

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Launch Party Panic

Tip of the Day: Want to see one of the cutest most unique promotional things EVER? You gotta check this out. I think I'm asking hubby to get me this for my birthday!

Okay, I'm in launch party panic. I'm at just over a month until my book comes out (OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG) and I don't have anything set up yet for a first signing/launch whatever you want to call it. Here are my two ideas so far:

1) Signing at B&N-- preferably in the cafe area

2) Launch Party at an indie coffee shop. Hopefully get a bookstore to come sell books.

And there's where I'm at. I did contact the B&N and I'm waiting to hear back but the closer we get to release the more I'm panicking. I've been going through blogs to see what other authors did. Megan Frazer (Secrets of Truth and Beauty) had hers at an indie bookstore. Malinda Lo (Ash) had hers at the LGBT Community Center. Kate Messner (Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z.) had hers in a coffee shop. And Cyn Balog (Fairy Tale) had hers at a library.

What do you guys think? Where do you like to go for author launch parties? Bookstores (indie? B&N? Borders?), cafes, parks, restaurants, libraries?

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Whatcha Readin'? (or Family Reading Time!)

Tip of the Day: Make sure all your windows are closed before turning on the heat....

What are the other members of your household reading? Do you share reading tastes? Can you get your adult housemates to read MG/YA?

My manpanion is reading:

1) THE DARK TOWER VII by Stephen King. You know the reader is serious about finishing the series when he takes an 843-page hardcover book in his airplane carry-on across the country.

2) THE NEW EARTH by Eckhart Tolle. He read THE POWER OF NOW after his mom recommended it, so I handed him this "sequel".

3) GREGOR THE OVERLANDER by Suzanne Collins is on deck. Yay! I finally convinced him to read THE HUNGER GAMES and then he blew through that and CATCHING FIRE and wanted to know what else SC wrote. I brought home GREGOR. I haven't read it yet so he may be turning me onto an MG novel!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

September is the new January and writing exercises

Tip of the Day: try out some of these fun writing exercises?

Fall to me always feel more like the start of the year than the actual New Year. Maybe it has something to do with the fact I've been in school more years of my life than I've been out of it. It's easy to recall the feelings of picking out a new school outfit, gearing up for a new year, and then starting fresh with all new classes.

As a result, I'm much more reflective and fired up this time of year then in January when we're just at the beginning of snow season and it's about all I can take to de-snow my car in the morning, let alone be productive by writing New Year's resolutions and stuff.

I'm thinking of declaring September the new January in my life.

I've been rearranging the apartment, cleaning out old files, and thinking more and more about exercising. All things I guess normal people think about when setting goals at the beginning of the year. And don't get me wrong, exercise is fun, beneficial, and a good way to stay healthy. But when faced with running 2 miles or eating a cupcake for breakfast, I'm naturally going to be more excited about the cupcake. Every time. Lately, however, I've been more pushed to run along with eating the cupcakes and this has got me thinking about other types of exercises.

Meaning exercises for the writing brain.

I haven't tried many of them over the years. Instead, I like to believe that regular writing is an exercise in and of itself, so why push it further? But I'm not so sure that's true. And I'm starting to think maybe it's time to rethink my status on writing exercises.

Here's a few I think sound interesting:
  • If writing in a coffee shop, pick a person and write down every detail about them. Including mannerisms, appearance, etc. Most of us naturally people watch, but I rarely write it down. Need to try that. And I love the idea of trying it in a group and talking about different things other people notice to push yourself to be more observant.
  • Pick a favorite or not-so-favorite line, paragraph, page, or chapter from a book and rewrite it. Either in a different style, genre (how fun would it be to re-write Princess Diaries as a zombie or vampire book or something like that?), or just in a different way.
  • Write a story from the viewpoint of an ordinary object (like a rug, pen, or something like that). I love the idea of thinking outside of the box, or in this case viewing something from a different angle.
What are some of your favorite writing exercises? And do you think they work in improving your own writing?

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Do Unpubbed Authors Need a Bio?

Tip of the Day: Not a fan of Times New Roman? This Georgia font is nice on the eyes and has TNR-like serifs. And look, you can tell the difference between 1 and l. (Compare Times New Roman: 1 and l. That drives me nuts!)

OK, I'm a writer, but there are certain things I don't like to write. Like the last paragraph of query letters. You know, that paragraph designed to convince agents and editors that I'm the most appropriate person to be writing about cursed and haunted teenagers. But as it turns out, I've needed a writing biography paragraph for more than just query letters:

-- For applying for a scholarship for the Chautauqua conference;
-- For a letter asking for information from a work-for-hire publisher;
-- For applying for an open slot in an experienced critique group;
-- For applying for a SCBWI Work-in-Progress grant;
-- For posting on the Web so you all know why you might want to read my blog.

That's just my personal experience, but I'm sure you could think of more situations--like when an editor or published author auctions off a critique, for example. Do you really want to reinvent your bio paragraph every time you need one?

I have two bio paragraphs, one informal and in third person for social networking, and another, more formal one written in first person for queries:

Kate Fall started writing fiction in seventh grade, when her teacher read her funny story to the class and everyone laughed at the right parts. She got serious about writing MG and YA five years ago. In 2007, she attended the Highlights Chautauqua conference and in 2008, she was a panelist for the Young Adult Fiction Cybils Award ( She is a member of SCBWI and RACWI (Rochester Area Children’s Writers and Illustrators). On Mondays, she blogs as a regular contributor to the group blog

I am a member of SCBWI and my publishing credits include trade magazine and newspaper feature articles. In 2007, I attended the Highlights Chautauqua conference and in 2008, I was a panelist for the Young Adult Fiction Cybils Award ( On Mondays, I blog as a regular contributor to the group blog Author2Author (

I don't do this because I'm super organized. I do this because I like to cut and paste. I keep these handy on my c drive. Any time I need a bio, I just cut and paste. It takes a little stress out of application processes. And as an unpublished author, I've been surprised how much I've used these.

Not everyone will agree that my credits will grab an editor or agent's attention, but I think they prove, at least, that I've been paying attention to the modern market and the last YA book I read wasn't FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC in 1987. (Of course I read FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC in 1987. I'm just saying I've read a lot since then.)

So if you don't have a stock bio handy, I say go for it. It will give you an extra boost of confidence when you write letters and applications. We all need that!

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy Book Blogger Appreciation Week!

Tip of the day: It's Talk Like a Pirate Day today! Argh mateys!

Did you know it's Book Blogger Appreciation Week?

Yes. It is!!

So let's give all the book bloggers out there a whole lot of LOVE. They review books, get buzz going with Waiting on Wednesday posts, interview authors, do contests, and all kinds of cool things that draw people to their blogs so they can share their love of books with the world! And the thing we have to remember is that reviewing a book is NOT easy. It takes time and work, and many of these book bloggers put their hearts and souls into their blogs for no other payment than the comments they receive.

So thank you Book Bloggers, for all you do for YA literature!! We heart you!

This week, not only do we get to say how much we love book bloggers, but awards are being handed out for the best of the best.

To see a list of who has won what award, GO HERE. Then, stop by and visit some of the amazing blogs. You'll be glad you did!

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Week in the Life of a Soon-to-Debut Author

Tip of the Day: Looking for a special kind of candy? This place has everything.

I thought it would be fun to let you all in on the glitz and glam (ha!) of life as a soon to-debut author. We'll look at my past week.

Thursday: Doing the Mom thing. Receive interview request from a reporter who used to be a barista. OMG, how fun will that interview be? Set up our phone call. Excited! Feeling very guilty that I haven't worked on my work in progress, Pumpkin Princess, in days.

Friday: Mom stuff all day. Determined to get some writing done at night. Stared at laptop for couple of hours. Started at word count 25,003. Ended at 25,223. Kinda pathetic.

Saturday: Box arrives from UPS overnight. I know it's my copyedits for My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours because my editor e-mailed me already and told me it was on the way. I place the box in the office to look at later. So much to do. Two kids have soccer games and for some unknown reason I decided that I needed to have a garage sale today. Oh, and I'm in week three of a nasty cough. Silly me. Games and garage sale go well and it's now evening and kids are hungry. I plead with husband to feed and put them to bed since I feel like I'm dying from my cold. I get a glass of hot water with lemon, turn on a humidifier and intend to take my cranky self to bed. But wait, maybe I should peek into that box and see how the copy edits are. I open the box and OH MY GOD-- my editor included a finished copy of The Espressologist!!! Whoo hoo!

Must take pics! Must blog! Must dance! Then return to dying from cold.

Sunday: Husband convinces me to cancel garage sale because I'm still feeling blah. Lay in bed all day recovering/doing copyedits. And finish! Hooray!

Monday: Do the song and dance of mommyhood all day. Put the copy edits IN to the envelope to mail tomorrow (that counts for something right?). Suddenly realize I'm only like 6 weeks out until my book releases and I don't have a first launch event/book signing set up yet. Uh oh. Scrambling to come up with ideas. E-mailing everyone for advice. Still sick.

Tuesday: Mommy stuff again but did manage to get to the UPS store and mail the copyedits back. This doesn't seem like a lot but when you're taking 4 little kids with you it's a bit of an adventure. ("Oooh, there's ice cream next store!" "Can we get ice cream?" "What if we're good?" "She hit me!" "He's looking at me!" "I'm thirsty!" "I have to pee!" "The baby ate my lego!" "Why can't we get ice cream?") Ordered stuff from the Internet for launch party. Whenever and whatever that may be. Filled out interviews for blog tour.

Wednesday: Lots of running around with the kids! Man they require a lot of attention. :-) Really want to get back to Pumpkin Princess today but too much on the agenda. Frustrated. Maybe tomorrow. I can't believe a whole week went by and I only wrote 200 words. Feeling the guilt! I did e-mail the CRM at a local bookstore with a proposal for a launch event. Crossing fingers that she says yes! Need to write Author2Author blog...

And here we are. I told you it would be all so very exciting. I'm still mad at myself for not getting more new writing done so that will have to be a goal this week. I'm sorry if I shattered the illusion and you thought all writers woke up late and drank their fancy coffees as they wrote all day in a quiet office with an ocean view, only taking breaks for yoga in the late afternoon. Some probably do. But some are like me and we just squeeze in whatever time we have and try to make the best of it.

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Vacation Memories (or Laboring Over Labor Day)

Tip of the Day: If you haven't yet, visit the Grand Canyon. Talk about breathtaking inspiration!

I still have last week's vacation out west on the brain! In an attempt to cover everything I want to about the trip and how it relates to my writerly-obsessed self, here's a list:

1) Satelite radio in our rental car and lots of listening to "80s on 8" on the drive from AZ to NV where songs like "Take My Breath Away" by Berlin and "Alone" by Heart remind me of hanging at my dad's shop as a kid where he always had WARM 101.3 on the radio, much like the MC in my MG novel, BAKERIES, BOYS, AND BEST FRIENDS FOREVER.

2) Vegas is a great, iconic setting for novels and it can work for YAs as is illustrated by BAD KITTY by Michele Jaffe (girly mystery) and TRICKS by Ellen Hopkins (edgy) -- perhaps I can tap into this in a future novel. Or maybe a Grand Canyon mystery (I should also re-read the MG SAMANTHA HANSON HAS ROCKS IN HER HEAD by Nancy Viau which has a great Canyon setting).

3) Weddings are the perfect setting for laughter, drama, characters, and fabulous glam make-up and clothes.

4) Reuniting with the sibs and new bro-in-law's sibs and sharing stories from our teen years is a great way to contemplate future teen scenes.

Now that I have all these ideas, I need to get back into a writing groove!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Does everyone want to write a book?

Tip of the day: so many awesome new shows are back on TV. Don't forget to tune into your favorites.

After writing last week that writing was just in me, I got to thinking how many people think writing is in them too. I'm sure most of the people on this blog do, but if you are reading this then chances are you've written a book, started writing a book, or are generally much more into reading than the average person.

But I've once heard a statistic that something like 90-95 percent of people have thought about or wanted to write a book. So if 95 percent of the population thinks "writing is in them," then how come more people aren't writers?

Is it a matter of how important writing is to you?

How much enjoyment you get out of it?

How dedicated you are to making it happen?

I'm not sure I have an answer. I think it mostly comes down to prioritizing and out of those 95 percent I think something else is more of a priority to them, so they never get around to writing. Just for fun or otherwise. This might also explain why sometimes it's harder to write, when you have so many other "priorities" pulling for your attention, and how hard it is to make time for writing.

But if writing is important to you, then I think you'll always find a way. If it's not then spend your time doing what makes you happy.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ooooh, the Symbolism!

Tip of the Day: Stephen Colbert is back from vacation! New episode tonight. Woo-hoo!

That Stephen Colbert cracks me up. Have you ever seen his movie reviews? He reviewed the disaster flick 2012 (you can see it here if you like) by raving about a sequence from the promos. The White House is demolished by tidal wave when it's crushed by the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy. "That's got to represent something!" Colbert gushes.

Am I guilty of symbolism that doesn't mean anything? I've written what I think are passages that contain symbolism. For example, I have the main character in one of my novels feeding a seagull. In case you've never lived near the water--you're not supposed to feed seagulls. It's like feeding city rats. But it's supposed to mean that she's the type of person who forgets to follow the rules when she thinks someone needs help. In this case, the hungry seagull, who other people might find disgusting. Oooh, deep, right? Like the USS Kennedy crushing the White House.

Well, at least I'm trying. You have to try, right? I have another manuscript where some boys are breaking into an abandoned house. Outside the house, one of the boys pulls a bush away from a basement window. It's a thorn bush and it cuts him. That was supposed to mean "there's danger in this window." But one of my critiquers asked why he'd stick his hand in a thorn bush. Well, he didn't know it was a thorn bush, but he's not my viewpoint character so that didn't come out well. I could rewrite it, but that seems like a lot of work for a little bit of cheesy symbolism. Sometimes I just have to experiment, throw something against the wall and see if it sticks. And be thankful that I have great critiquers so I can figure out if something doesn't stick.

I bother with this because I love finding those details in my reading. I just read PYONGYANG by Guy DeLise about a Canadian staying in North Korea. If there are important foreign visitors in his hotel, fresh melon is available in the hotel restaurant. The rest of the time, fresh fruit is almost impossible to find throughout the city. Whenever he has a scene with characters talking over a meal, he notes whether there's melon or not. It becomes a symbol of the total control the North Korean government has over daily life and how they use that power. PYONGYANG is memoir, not fiction, so I'm pretty impressed that DeLise found symbolism in real life. Maybe that's the key to writing it in fiction?

What about you? Got any bits you're proud of, or anything that seems like the USS Kennedy smashing into the Blue Room? I'd love to know how people handle this.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, September 11, 2009

Listening to the twinges of doubt

Tip of the day: "In the eyes of a child, you will see the world how it should be." American Proverb

So, I hope to have a new manuscript to send to my agent by the end of the month! This both excites me and terrifies me.

You'd think it would get easier over time, but I don't think it ever does.

I'm so afraid I've failed miserably with this story. I think I have a good hook. And these days, that's certainly an important thing to have.

But I ask questions like - have I done the story justice? Are my characters well enough developed? Are the fantasy elements too far "out there?" Do I need more description in places?

And as I write these questions out, I think by the very fact that I'm writing them, thinking about them, I probably still have work to do. Granted, some of these concerns, like whether certain elements are even working, will have to wait until I get some reader feedback. I'm sending it to a critique partner next week, and it'll be interesting to see what she has to say.

But some of the other things, I know I just need to dig in and do some work.

Have you ever read over a manuscript and felt a little twinge of something as you read, but you said, oh no, it's fine, and just kept going? I call those twinges of doubt. I believe most of the time, our instincts know what needs to be done. We just need to listen. The problem is that listening means more work.

But writing IS work. Anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong. For those of you who have written a novel, published or unpublished, I applaud you. It's a lot of work, as I have recently discovered yet again. And revising is work. And revising again is work. And... well, you get the idea.

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Yes, I'm Listening to You and You May End up in My Book

Tip of the Day: YA author Sara Ockler wrote a fabulous blog this week on choosing your agent. She includes a great list of questions to ask too!

I spent this past weekend celebrating my 10th anniversary with my husband in downtown Chicago.

We stayed in a fancy hotel and ate lots of fancy food in fancy restaurants and even took one of those (no I won't say fancy again) horse and carriage rides around the city.

It was awesome. One of the fun things we did was dinner up in the Signature room (it's on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building).

This was truly awesome and everyone should try it out once (though, second tip of the day, if you don't want to spend the bucks on dinner go up to the lounge on the 96th floor and get a drink or snack). Dinner was yum and really long. I'm not complaining about the time mind you, I could have sat up there all day looking at the great view and talking with my sweet hubby.

But I was doing something else too. I was totally eavesdropping on the table next to us. They were SO entertaining! My husband thought I should stop but I couldn't. All writers eavesdrop (right? It's my job! Back me up here.). The people next to me were having a going away dinner for their Italian au pair. They loved her so much. It was lifetime movie sweet. There were nonstop hugs and kisses and gifts and speeches. It was really touching how much they were going to miss her. I've never met an au pair so I was thinking I need to remember some of the things they were talking about in case I ever need it for a book. I may have even jotted down some notes on my iphone. Did I go to far? :-)

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

In Vegas, As In Life, All Bets Are Off (or I Take Two Steps Forward, I Take Two Steps Back*)

*With apologies to Paula Abdul

Tip of the Day: Put it all on black! (I'm in Vegas, baby!)

So, even when things are going along swimmingly when you're subbing for pubbing, some things you have no control over can slow you down. For example, when your agent decides to leave the agenting business. This is what happened to me last week.

I wish my agent the best in her new/return to her previous career! She is a great woman and I know she's doing what's best for herself, though I will miss her.

This does leave me, however, agentless and back out there in query land. Good thing Miss Querylicious has been giving me some tips these past few weeks! But I haven't had to go through this research/query process for a while and it is a time-consuming yet exciting process. So I'm shopping a brand new novel to agents and am hoping to get someone's attention.

Meanwhile, I am still subbing for pubbing! The manuscript my agent shopped has been revised and repolished, so I'm sending it out to editors on my own. This is also a lot of research and time. Phew! Go agents who do this every day for their careers!

This experience of querying both agents and editors has been eye-opening to me; it's made me really look at what's selling, what's grabbing the attention of publishing pros, and what it entails to really focus on who wants what types of novels. I also feel that this time around in my agent search, I know what questions to ask before signing, what specialities the agents should have before I even query, and what different authors are saying about who they work with. Fortunately, with so much info online, it's fairly easy to get a lot of this info!

But it doesn't mean that the agent who sounds "perfect" for me will want me!
So I must continue to query widely.

I also believe that everything will work out the way it is supposed to work out, and in the mean time, I'll continue writing, writing, writing!

And if anyone wants to recommend their fabulous agent, feel free to leave me a comment! :)

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I've got the writing in me

Tip of the Day: when things get discouraging, try to remember why you started writing in the first place.

No one in their right mind would choose novel writing for a career. Not knowing when your next paycheck is coming, writing for many years without a payoff, and the intense rejections that flood you before a sale that make Simon Cowell’s remarks on American Idol seem sweet and kind.

Therefore in my honest opinion, I think writing as a career finds you. It’s in those people that just can’t help but wake up at five in the morning because they are excited about a new story idea and have to get started…now. It’s in those of us that feel like we’ve won the lottery every time a book by our favorite author comes out. Writing is just in you.

For me personally, I didn’t realize writing was in me, until I wasn’t writing. School was finished and my day job at the time didn’t require extensive writing. Something just felt off. I’d get the itch to break down my day into manageable paragraphs with a topic sentence. After I realized how boring my own day could be, it became fun to imagine a much, more exciting life. And then stories just came naturally from that.

They haven’t stopped coming since.

Trying to find a way to take these stories to the next level with amazing description, action, plot, and believable and likable characters has been a daily challenge. But a challenge I’ve loved embracing. Definitely not what I’d expected the first day I discovered writing in me. Some days it’s a million times better than I imagined, and other days it makes me wish I’d had acting or, better yet, singing in me.

But it’s not like you can choose your big passions in life, so it’s best to embrace them, learn from them, and give them all you can.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Friday, September 4, 2009

Help me, please!

Tip of the day: Have a safe and wonderful Labor Day weekend. It’s supposed to rain where I am. I plan on spending a lot of the weekend writing!

All right.

Dilemma time.

I need help!

In case you haven’t heard, we’ve been in a recession. A recession means less money for everyone, schools especially.

So, I’m getting e-mails quite often from teachers asking if I might donate a book or books for their classroom library.

Now, please understand – I love teachers! And I especially love that these caring teachers want great libraries of books in their classrooms, and want to include MY books in said libraries.

So I have said yes to these requests most of the time, because I feel like it’s something I should do.

But if I donate a book every week to a teacher or some other cause, and it’s a hardcover book at $16.00 that’s $832 in books! And for the record, let’s make sure everyone understands – that’s $832 out of my own pocket.

I mean, to me, that’s a lot of money! Money I need to be saving for my kids’ college tuition that is coming up in the not-so-distant future.

I hate that I may just have to start saying no. But I feel like saying yes has opened the floodgates and now I’m getting even more requests.

Yes, I want kids to read my books! But I also don’t want to be known as the author who is happy to give away books, because I can’t really build a career giving away books. Or can I? Do you think giving away 50+ books would help to sell many more books than that in the long run, because kids read one and then buy more later?

Would love to hear your thoughts on this! What do you think? Should I keep saying yes, or is it time to put my foot down?

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cleaning my office (or stalling? Who me?)

Tip of the Day: Just say no to table sharing with strangers. When you're writing anyway.

My office is clean! Well, let's be truthful. It's clean-ish. It's clean in the sense that I can now walk in without stepping over anything and I can get behind my desk and actually set stuff on my desk.

Why the sudden cleaning? Sunday I was supposed to work on my current WIP (work in progress). I'm a little over halfway through and I have an outline and a sense of where I'm going. But I'm also kind of stuck. The last few times I've sat down to write it's taken me a long time to get words down and I've been kind of veering off. Like, adding in new characters, new situations, new problems. Things that weren't in my outline. So now I'm worried that I'm just making a mess of things and I've been hesitant to go forward. I will go forward of course because I want to finish the book. And I know I can always revise, revise, revise and it will all be okay if I just get that first draft written down. But I'm being slow about it. Thus the office cleaning!

I've also been thinking I should try writing at home more. Sure, I've never gotten very far with this in the past but I should give it another try. Starbucks will always be there if I just can't make it work.

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Popular Picture Books (or They Tell Me What They Want, What They Really Really Want*)

*With apologies to the Spice Girls

Tip of the Day: Chilled, sweet NYS Finger Lakes wines are delicious treats for summer writing nights on the porch. My recommendation? Red Cat.

I love working the Reference Desk in the Children's Center at my library. Watching kids get so excited about books is encouraging and energizing! I know this blog's focus is on YA and MG work, but with my recent picture book dabbling, I have to do a post on The Most Asked For Picture Book Topics.

So here they are, in no particular order:

1. Cars and trucks (I like TRUCK STUCK)

2. Trains, specifically Thomas the Tank Engine (I like ALL ABOARD THE DINO TRAIN)

3. Sesame Street, specifically Elmo (most of ours are board books)

4. Faries (we have a lot of chapter books on them, less picture books)

5. Princesses, often Disney princesses (Barbie works, too)

6. Dinosaurs (Jane Yolen's a winner here)

7. Earthmovers, cranes, construction vehicles (The McMullans's I'M DIRTY and I STINK are hugely popular. I'M BAD fits the dino category.)

8. Airplanes (Nina Crews is good for this)

9. Well-known characters, specifically the Berenstein Bears, Curious George, Clifford

10. Dr. Seuss, specifically anything

...and parents often ask for...

11. A new baby coming into the home

12. Potty training (MY BIG BOY/GIRL POTTY)

I know that publishers don't like to have too many competing subjects on their lists or backlists, but man, we buy every picture book involving dinos that comes out -- we can never have enough! The new books that come out on these topics are ALWAYS checked out for AT LEAST A YEAR before we can get our hands on them to give requesting patrons.

Non-fiction books on these subjects are good, too, especially the ones on construction vehicles, trains, etc, for the little kids (ages 5 and under).

What picture books are popular in your homes/families/libraries/book stores?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Breaks are not the enemy

Tip of the Day: don't focus all your energy on writing, make sure to keep living your life too. Your writing will thank you for it :)

Have you every felt guilty for taking a writing break? Sometimes it's hard not to. You see all these people succeeding and making deals and you feel left out and that the only way you can get a deal is by acting like go, go, go. And write, write, write.

But there's a reason the average person has two-days off a week for their day job. If all you are doing is go, go, go, then you can burn yourself out quickly.

It's hard to realize we aren't superwomen or men. And that we need our breaks. I'm just now learning this with writing and that it's okay to take some time off to chill. Small breaks. Longer ones if you have no deadlines and just need a breather.

It makes it a challenge to get back into the flow, but often when it does start flowing again it's much better for having that rest period. And your writing improves when you take time out to focus your brain on other things that are important to you.

So give yourself a break. Literally. And don't feel bad for it.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious