Friday, October 30, 2009

Talk about scary...

Tip of the day: Have a safe and happy Halloween!

I can't stop thinking about this blog post by agent Kristin Nelson.

In case you don't want to click over (but I hope you do), she talks about how editors are saying very complimentary things about manuscripts, but in the end, declining because they don't see it as a "big book." She also says, "mid-list authors are getting hit the hardest - especially when it comes to option proposals."

Um, yeah. See, I am one of those mid-list authors.

So what does this mean?

It means I feel a lot of pressure to make the next book fantastic. Incredible. Out of this world awesome.

Except, I don't know if I'm really capable of all that. I will certainly do my best, which I do each and every time, but in the end, I don't know if I write the kind of stuff that equates to a BIG book.

I guess I just don't really get it. I mean, I understand, publishers have to make money. It all comes down to the bottom line. But books that aren't "big" can make money for a publisher too, can't they? Of course not as much as a book that hits the NYT list. But if I've earned out, aren't I making money for the publisher now? And surely they must realize, on some level, it's impossible to have a list comprised completely of bestsellers. Unless a house decides to have a very, very small list. And part of me wonders if maybe publishers will move to that? Which is sad because there goes a lot of choice in what we have to read.

In the end, I suppose we have to try and put all of that out of our minds and focus on the only thing we can, and that is writing a damn good book.

Yeah, it's scary out there. But pass me a Snickers fun-size bar, please. I have some writing to do.

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Release Day (in pics)

Tip of the Day: Take Zinc tablets to get rid of a cold faster.

My release day this past Tuesday was so fantastic! Since it was my birthday also I decided it was going to be a big fun wonderful day. It started bright and early with dropping off tot #1 at school (husband took the day off from work to watch tots #2 through 4) and then a stop at:

You saw that coming didn't you? :-) Yep. I didn't get my regular drink though. Instead I got a celebratory Venti Espresso Truffle. Yum. Then off to:

for a spa day! Oh my, this was HEAVEN.

5 hours of quiet and relaxation! Facial, massage, pedicure, manicure, and makeup. Awesome. I tried the steam room for approximately 13.5 seconds and thought I was going to die though. Do people really like that?!

After my spa day, there was still a little time before I needed to pick up tot #1 so I stopped at the local B&N. And look:

5th row down, 4th from the left. My book!! I just gazed at it with a stupid look until a woman came over and asked if I needed something. I told her that's my book!! She was very nice and asked if I would sign the five that they had. I said of course! And then she put these cute little autographed by author stickers on them:

After I got home with tot #1 we finished off the day with family birthday stuff: dinner, cake, and presents.

It was a super fabulous day!!

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Re-Agented! (or It's a Small World After All*)

*With apologies to Disney

Tip of the Day: Email the talented Cynthia Leitich Smith (go to her LJ for details) for a chance to win Lisa's FAR FROM YOU along with an armload of other great books! (FFY is a great winter read -- get ready! Snow is coming....)

Guess what? Guess what? After my agent left the agenting business this summer and I was left floating on my own in a world of editor research, I am now re-agented! And let me tell you, the way this went down was nothing but serendipity (and a little bit of talent, right? ;-)). Here it is, in list format:

1) After querying the BETH book and LAKE NEADE to select agents for about a month, I have nothing to show but rejections or no responses.

2) I email Miss Delighted to Debut, saying, "Tina! What is wrong with me? Two years ago I got requests for pages all the time, but now I'm a better writer and I'm getting nada! What is going on?" Tina assures me that bc of editor slow-downs, agents are taking on fewer clients/are being more selective, and to hang in there.

3) Less than 24-hours after my desperate email to Tina, I have a request for the BETH book. Not from an agent who I queried, but from another agent in the agency who the query was passed on to. Hey, she sounds excited so I email her the full ms.

4) As soon as I click SEND, I see the agent has already replied to me again. Her email says that she JUST opened a box of agent copies of books, saw THE ESPRESSOLOGIST and peeked at it, saw my name on the acknowledgements page, thought there couldn't possibly be two Deena Lipomis writing YA lit, and said to herself how crazy it was that she had emailed me right before seeing my name. WOAH!

5) I write back that it IS crazy, Tina is my CP, and that one reason I queried their agency was bc when Tina's agent was with them, she loved working with them. All true!

6) The next morning, I have an email from the reading agent. She says she loves the book and wants to know if anyone else is reading it, and either way she will get back to me on Monday or Tuesday. OMG! At this point, it is all happening too fast for me to even freak out too badly.

7) I work the weekend at the library so time flies by. Phew. Monday morning comes and I'm sitting on the porch working on my wip and checking my email about every, oh, 10-12 minutes. OK, OK, 5-6 minutes. Around noon there's an email from the agent. My heart races. I immediately go back to working on my wip until I have the courage to open the email, about five minutes later.

8) I read the email, scanning the long message in search of the words, "No thanks, not for me," or "I'll take it." And I find..."but if you are interested, I would like to take the project on." EEEEEEEE!

9) I write back in my oh-so-succinct way (right) that I am super excited but: I have some questions, here are some other concerns and thoughts, and could we talk on the phone before I formally accept or decline.

10) She immediately writes back that she'll call me in an hour. So far her communications in the past five days -- five MINUTES -- have answered one of my questions about her responsiveness and quickness!

11) We chat on the phone for a while, she answers all of my questions, and I'm super excited to make the revisions she has suggested. Small things that will help amp up the dimensions of the the minor characters and the drama of the climax scene. Cool!

12) What else do I learn during our phone convo? That before she worked for the agency, she was an intern for Tina's agent and had read THE ESPRESSOLOGIST as a reader before Tina's agent took it on. She had opened the published copy of the book to see how it turned out on that fateful Thursday (a mere 4 days before) when she requested my ms. That was when she saw my name. Such a small world!

13) At the end of our convo, I officially accept her offer of rep! YAYAYAY! The contract comes on Wednesday, I sign and return it on Thursday, and in the matter of 10 days from query to signing the contract, I have a new agent.

Total time from querying any agents to signing: about 6 weeks (with my 7th novel)

Total time from querying any agents to signing with my FIRST agent 1.5 years ago: about 20 months (with my 1st through 5th novels)

To all of you looking for an agent: rest assured that with each book you write and revise again and again, and with all you soak in from the writing world, critiques, conferences, and kidlit novels you read, your work will continuously improve. It will seem "easier" to get an agent as time passes, but in reality, you worked very, very hard to get to the point where things seem to come easily. Yes, I know some serendipity played a part in my query process, but without a polished novel, it wouldn't have helped me at all. Don't give up if you want publication to happen for you! -- I know I'm never giving up! :)

This week, Kerry Evans of LGLA read through the final tweaks of my newly titled MG, BAKE, SET, MATCH and we are officially subbing for pubbing! Woo hoo!

Anyone have any newly agented stories to share?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy Release Day for The Espressologist

Tip of the Day: today is not only the release day for our own Kristina Springer's The Espressologist, but it is also her birthday. Happy Double Birthday Tina!!!!!

Happy Release Day!!!!!

Welcome to the world of books The Espressologist. Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, October 26, 2009

Coping with Too Much to Do

Tip of the Day: Tomorrow is the launch date for THE ESPRESSOLOGIST by Kristina Springer! (*throws virtual confetti*)

Let's play a game today! Let's play "How many of these things go through your mind before you sit down to write on the weekend?" Check off all that apply.

1. I should really be doing the dishes.
2. I should really be doing the laundry.
3. I should really do some critiques for my lovely critique partners before I get to my own writing.
4. I shouldn't leave dinner until the last minute. What am I going to cook?
5. I should really be getting the kids' stuff ready for Halloween.
6. I definitely should not look at the carpet in this room before I start writing. When was the last time someone took out the vacuum in this house?
7. I should get the kids' papers off the dining room table and then I'll feel like I accomplished something around the house before I write.
8. This room is freezing. I should really put the summer clothes away for the year and dig up my sweaters.
9. I should pick up the kids' (choose one: new earring disinfectant, saxophone reeds, irish dance shoes, cleats, pastels for art class, or whatever weird thing is going to take you into a store in town you barely knew existed) before I totally forget again.
10. I should get more writing done than I did last weekend. Man, where do the weekends go?

Here are your test results. Count how many you checked off:
1-3: Congratulations, your significant other is a neat freak with anal retentive tendencies, leaving you lots of time to write. Just don't let him or her near your closet or your car.
4-6: Congratulations, your life is about in balance. Now tell yourself you're going to write until one of the kids or pets comes to you with an injury or problem of great tragedy. That should give you almost an hour!
7 - 10: Do you think that medicine for adult ADD really works? I wonder that. A lot.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, October 23, 2009

Congratulations Tina!!!

Tip of the day: Next Tuesday, go to your local bookstore and buy THE ESPRESSOLOGIST by Kristina Springer, then grab your favorite beverage of choice and curl up and read this GREAT book!

I still remember when I heard the concept for Tina’s book. Match making based on the type of you coffee drink you like!? BRILLIANT is what I thought. I knew she would have no problem selling it. And she certainly didn’t, with multiple publishers interested!

So, I’m very lucky in that I got an Advanced Review Copy at the American Library Association conference last July. I was having fun reading it during an especially hot spell and carried it over to our neighbor’s to read during an afternoon by the pool. Remember this photo? I have proof! (You’ll notice the ARC had a bit different cover than the final book).

But then, after carrying it around with me for a few days, I went to look for it, and couldn’t find it! Isn’t that tragic? There’s nothing worse than losing a book you were in the middle of! I don’t know what happened to it. Maybe I left it at my neighbor’s and she wanted to read it so badly, she didn’t let on that she had found it? Who knows!? But I do know I’m dying to find out what happens and will be going to the bookstore next week to buy my very own copy.

There were some cover changes along the way, but I really think what they ended up with is just so perfect, don’t you?

Congratulations on your debut, Tina! I’m so very excited for you! May your book fly off the shelves and into the hearts of many, many teens, coffee-lovers, and anyone who is looking for fun, sweet read!

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Espressologist: Concept to Pub Timeline

Tip of the Day: Want to read a fun interview with me and have a chance of winning a signed copy of THE ESPRESSOLOGIST plus a $10 Starbucks gift card? Go here.

Deena had the super fabulous idea that I should post a timeline of the publishing process for THE ESPRESSOLOGIST. Fun! So here goes:

7/19/06- I type up the idea for The Espressologist in a document cleverly titled “Another idea”. I open a new document, this one titled “The Espressologist is In”, and start writing the book.

12/20/06- Book is finished and I’ve revised as much as I thought it needed. Start sending chapters to critique partners for feedback.

2/2/07- Finished revising books based on critique partners’ feedback. Start querying agents. One agent asks for edits. Start edits for him.

3/1/07- Didn’t work out with that agent. Back to querying!

4/11/07- Receive two offers of representation from agents.

4/13/07- Signed with my agent, Jenoyne Adams (then, with Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. Now, BLISS).

4/14/07- Jenoyne submits THE ESPRESSOLIGST to 17 publishers.

4/19/07- An editor called my agent with verbal interest in having the book. Said more info to come.

4/25/07- First offer for book comes in! Whoo hoo celebration!

4/30/07- Second offer comes in! Yippee!

5/2/07- Agent sets up auction for 5/10/07 and lets all editors still reading know.

5/10/07- Auction day! Offers received from four publishers. Narrow it down to the two best offers. By the end of the day, decided to go with FSG for a two-book hardcover deal with paperback follow-ups a year after release.

6/27/07- Offer from German publisher comes in and we accept.

10/22/07- First Editorial Letter arrives and I start revising.

12/4/07- Turn in first edits.

1/31/08- First round of line edits arrive in mail.

2/28/08- Complete line edits and return to editor.

3/14/08- Second round of line edits arrive mail.

3/28/08- Complete line edits and mail back second round of line edits.

4/3/08- Third round of line edits arrive.

4/7/08- Complete and mail back third round of line edits.

4/9/08- Book goes to copyedits.

6/12/08- Copyedited manuscript arrives.

6/19/08- Make adjustments and mail back to copyediting.

7/1/08- Book flap copy arrives.

7/3/08- Second draft of book flaps arrives.

9/17/08- Book galleys arrive.

9/22/08- Make minor changes to galleys and mail back to editor.

10/6/08- Queries on proofread galleys come in.

10/7/08- E-mail back responses to queries.

10/31/08- First cover arrives.

2/20/09- Cover #2 arrives.

4/28/09- Cover #3 in the works.

5/2/09- Receive Advanced Readers Copies. So cool!

6/30/09- Final cover arrives and I LOVE it! Yay!

7/12/09- Attend ALA in Chicago for the weekend. Sign ARCs. First signing!

9/12/09- First copies of final book arrive! Beeeeautiful!

10/27/09- THE ESPRESSOLOGIST releases! Party!!!!!!

Phew. That was long. And it took me forever to compile. :-) I stuck strictly to Espressologist related stuff in this timeline but it wasn’t all I was up to. During this time I also wrote Revenge Queen, Boy Swap, Night at Claire’s, three proposals, My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours, and the first draft of Pumpkin Princess. Fake Boyfriend is my book coming out next fall and is in copy edits at the moment, just in case you were wondering. It might seem like a lot when it’s all written in one post like this but this process took almost three years from start to finish. Wow, huh?

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut (next Tuesday. Whee!!!!)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

CP Score! (or Let Me Tell You 'Bout the Old Days)

Tip of the Day: Don't forget to wish Miss Delighted to Debut a Happy Birthday AND Book Birthday on 10/27!

Ah yes, I knew Tina back in the day...back before she had cutie baby #4, before she had an agent in love with her work, before she had a book sale.... But as soon as I read her second WIP, THE ESPRESSOLOGIST, while sitting in my office at my old job, I knew -- I KNEW -- THAT would be The Book of hers to sell first.

Heck, when Tina and I became crit partners, as soon as she "pitched" her idea for THE ESPRESSOLOGIST, I was like, "YES!" So hooky! So clever! So cute! Then she started sending me pages of the novel and I laughed as I read. I begged for more pages. It was such a smooth read, so well plotted and paced. Such great voice. I couldn't stop reading it and remember waiting for Tina's agent offers to roll in after she finished and polished the manuscript.

Then it was there -- multiple agent offers. Then multiple editor offers! I refreshed my hotmail while sitting in my old office, watching the play-by-play and cheering at every step. This book needed to be published -- a bright piece of fun, romantic-comedy amidst the dark and scary vamps and wolves.

And now I'm patting myself on the back bc I was right! THE ESPRESSOLOGIST hits the shelves for all to read on Tuesday -- and I am so glad I was right. Read the book and you'll agree! :)

Order THE ESPRESSOLOGIST from an indy bookstore

CONGRATULATIONS, TINA! Hope on Tuesday you party like it's 1999! ;)

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Celebration Continues

Tip of the Day: I'm so excited for Tina's book release next week. Not really a tip, but celebration doesn't have boundaries :)

As a person who reads all of her favorite author's books, I'm constantly on the lookout for books like my favorite authors or favorite books. I love to look at "if you liked [this book] then you'd love [this book]" comparisons and lists. So today, I'm bringing you a list featuring our very own Kristina Springer's The Espressologist.

If you loved these books:

You'll love The Espressologist

If you love books by these authors: Meg Cabot, Lauren Myracle, Kate Brian, Niki Burnham, Louise Rennison, Melissa De La Cruz, Lauren Barnholdt, or anyone else that writes humorous teen fiction for girls.

You'll love The Espressologist

If you love books that make you laugh out-loud (which is exactly what happened when I first got the chance to read Tina's book).

You'll love The Espressologist

And if that's not enough to convince you, I went to the author and asked her this important question: Do you remember where you were when you thought up the idea for The Espressologist? And when you wrote it, did you know it was the One?

I was in a coffee shop. I know, I know, completely shocking! :-) But yes, I was sitting at the local Starbucks with my husband having drinks. We were just chatting and watching people come in and out and a particular person caught my eye and I remember thinking, I know what that person is going to order. So I sorta eavesdropped on her order and it turned out I was right. I told my husband I should write a book about what type of people drink what type of coffee drinks and call it Espressology. He thought this was clever and wonderful of course (he says that when I write the grocery list too mind you). Then I was watching the barista dealing with a customer and I thought no wait, I should have a barista who is an espressologist and matchmakes people based on their favorite drinks! That became my lucky spot and I wrote the whole book from the same table at that Starbucks. As far as knowing if it was the One, when I first started writing it I thought wow, this book is really fun to write and I'm really loving it. About halfway through though I did have the thought, Oh my God, I'm totally going to sell this book!

Now doesn't that book sound awesome! Who doesn't love a good matchmaking book. Especially one featuring coffee!

I loved The Espressologist when I first read it a few years ago. I had meet Tina online in a writing class. A few months later we decided to become critique partners. When we first exchanged work, I had joked with her that I was a good-luck charm as a critique parnter, since right before that I'd just joined an online critique group and two people sold right after I joined...even before I could read their work. Tina was probably, "yeah, whatever, Emily!"

But I had barely made it through three chapters of her book, before she quickly made the sale for The Espressologist. I'd like to think it was my good luck, but I really know it's because it's an awesome book. I knew from the moment I heard the concept it would sell. And Tina's love of writing really shines through. Within the first page, I was hooked. Tina has a wonderful ability of comedic timing. Something I'm sure we all want, but very few of us our blessed with. She just has it, and it makes her books all the better for it. Plus, her characters are sweet, but strong at the same time and completely relatable.

So run, don't walk, to the store next week to pick up your own copy of The Espressologist.

Trust me, you won't regret it.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Espressologist Launch Celebration!!

Tip of the Day: Did you know Kristina has her own website? Check it out!

Our own Miss Delighted to Debut, Kristina Springer, doesn't have much longer to wait. THE ESPRESSOLOGIST releases early next week on October 27th! We're celebrating her success all week long. If you want to know how it feels to have your first novel hit the shelves (I do! I do!), this is the place to ask her questions and revel in the positive energy.

And put THE ESPRESSOLOGIST on your reading list! Here's a taste of the yummy reading awaiting you:

What’s your drink of choice? Is it a small pumpkin spice latte? Then you’re lots of fun and a bit sassy. Or a medium americano? You prefer simplicity in life. Or perhaps it’s a small decaf soy sugar-free hazelnut caffe latte? Some might call you a yuppie. Seventeen-year-old barista Jane Turner has this theory that you can tell a lot about a person by their regular coffee drink. She scribbles it all down in a notebook and calls it Espressology. So it’s not a totally crazy idea when Jane starts hooking up some of her friends based on their coffee orders. Like her best friend, Em, a medium hot chocolate, and Cam, a toffee nut latte. But when her boss, Derek, gets wind of Jane’s Espressology, he makes it an in-store holiday promotion, promising customers their perfect matches for the price of their favorite coffee. Things are going better than Derek could ever have hoped, so why is Jane so freaked out? Does it have anything to do with Em dating Cam? She’s the one who set them up! She should be happy for them, right?

With overtones of Jane Austen’s Emma and brimming with humor and heart, this sweet, frothy debut will be savored by readers.

So, here's a question I couldn't resist asking Kristina. What happens when you tell your parents you have a novel coming out? Do you give them a signed copy of your book?

Kristina says: "Yep, my parents are so stinkin' proud. My mom tells absolutely everyone and passes out business cards with my book cover on it and bookmarks. And they introduce me to everyone as "This is my daughter, the author." :-) And nope-- they're buying books! I'd give them one of course but they want to buy a bunch just because. I gave my mom an ARC in her Mother's Day basket back in a May and she read the book that day and my Dad read it during the next week. They both loved it! And theirs were completely unbiased opinions, I swear. ;-)"
That is so freaking adorable, isn't it? Tina, I'm so psyched that your parents really get it. Your writing friends get it, too, and we couldn't be more happy that your hard work is paying off. Congratulations on your debut!

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, October 16, 2009

The choice is mine, all mine!

Tip of the Day: FLASH BURNOUT by my friend L.K. Madigan is officially released Monday, October 19th and I HIGHLY recommend it!

Been a busy week so here it is 7 a.m. and I'm just now doing this post - ack! TGIF indeed!

So, I spent the last 6+ months writing and rewriting a YA story that I have now decided needs to be totally reworked as a mid-grade novel. It is pretty depressing if I let myself dwell on it for too long. I just don't have the energy to do the rewrite now, and who knows if I ever will. I think, sometimes, the longer you spend on a story, working and reworking, the more you start to doubt the story. At least I do. I've decided the best thing for now is to put it away, and maybe next spring, revisit it and see how I feel about it.

Last winter, I ran a story idea past the Author2Author gals and they all said they thought it sounded good. Maybe they just said that because they are very nice gals, but since then, that story has been simmering in the back of my brain and last weekend, when I realized I needed something new to work on, to bring me out of my depression, I sat down and wrote a synopsis, and then started in on the manuscript.

The thing I like about this story, more than anything, is that it ultimately is about a choice the main character must make. And it's not an easy one. It's another novel in verse, and it's something new, I think, that we haven't seen in the verse format before.

Anyway - I LOVE stories where the main character is forced to choose between two things and the choice is hard. Have you seen the preview for that new Carmen Diaz film The Box? Push the button for a million dollars, but when you do, someone somewhere in the world dies. I'm SO going to see that movie!

As for me, I had to choose between letting a story go that I spent a LOT of time on and moving on. Who knows if I made the right choice, but, like most things in this business, you have to follow your instincts and cross your fingers it all works out in the end.

Have a great weekend! I'll be writing. Again!

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tina’s Top Ten Tips to Author Interviews

Tip of the Day: The National Book Award Finalists were announced. Congrats to the finalists!

In getting ready for my release in less than two weeks (Eeeek!), I’ve been doing lots of author interviews—mostly online with book bloggers and also with the 2009 Debs Blog tour. But some have been over the phone for papers too. Today I’m going to share some tips (DL countdown style) for doing author interviews.

10. If you’re on the phone, speak slowly and clearly and make sure the reporter is hearing you correctly. Not every reporter tapes the phone conversation so it’s easy for details to get mixed up.

9. If you conducted the interview over the phone, consider asking the reporter to see the article first so that you can check your quotes (Thanks Lisa for this tip!).

8. If you’re e-mailing the interview, proofread your answers several times.

7. There will be standard questions multiple interviewers will ask so be prepared. Typically you’ll get questions like: How did you get the idea for your book? How did you sell your book? What is your writing process? What are you working on now?

6. Being that you will get similar questions from different interviewers, resist the urge to just copy/paste the same answer again and again. Answer it freshly each time.

5. If there is a question that you really don’t want to answer, don’t. The interviewer will understand.

4. Send pics of your book cover and/or yourself to go with the interview.

3. Everyone loves giveaways. Considering giving away a signed copy of your book or some signed bookmarks or other swag.

2. Be yourself during your interview. Don’t throw around a lot of big stuffy words in an attempt to sound ultra cool. Unless of course, that’s how you always talk.

1. Remember that other people will read your answers. Think to yourself: Is it ok if my mom or grandma reads this? Don’t write anything that will make you cringe later!

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Teen Takes on Twilight (or The Velocity of Vampires)

Tip of the Day: Pop some echinacea if you feel a cold coming on. It might be a placebo, but who cares as long as it works!

I've had the pleasure of working with some teen volunteers lately, ages 13-15, and a great book conversation starter is always, "So did you read TWLIGHT?"

Some responses (all from girls -- and they are smart!):

--The first book in the series is the best. It showed the most of Bella and Edward as individuals. It had the most/best plot.
--I read the series many times. I read TWILIGHT 7 times. I bought all 4 books. I was sad when I finished the series. I stopped reading book #4 halfway through bc I didn't want it to be over.
--TWLIGHT was about what it is to be human and what Bella would have to give up
--THE HOST was about our souls and how they are a powerful connection between ppl
--THE HOST was better than the TWLIGHT series. I can't wait to see who plays Wanda in the movie version
--BREAKING DAWN spent too much time on Bella's gross pregnancy. I felt sorry for Victoria. The ending was sad. The ending was perfect.

Number of copies of TWLIGHT currently on my YA shelf at the library: 1 out of 10 available. Yep, Ms. Meyer is still going strong! Go YA lit!

Other vampire books are also popular, but I have copies of VAMPIRE ACADMEY on my shelves and only own two copies of each of those books. Overall, it seems no matter how hot vamp books are, TWILIGHT is still tops on teens' lists -- and adults, too, in the TBR piles!

Me, I liked Amanda Marrone's UNINVITED for a YA vamp book.

Just some observations from the crowd for which I write -- and love to work with!

Any other vamp books that are different and worth checking out, preferably YA?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Nobody wants stereotypes (or do they?)

Tip of the Day: there's lots of amazing new shows on this season. Some of my favs so far: Flash Forward, Modern Family, The Vampire Diaries, and Glee.

When listening to complaints about the new show Glee, I've heard many TV critics point out it has stereotypical characters. The overly feminine gay character who enjoys dancing to Beyonce's Single Ladies. The overweight black female that likes to "riff" her music and is slightly violent in her behavior. The pretty cheerleader that's part of the Mean Girls trio and tries to break up Glee club, and her jock boyfriend.

Alot of people have stopped watching the show because of these stereotypes, despite the fact I think to some extend the show's purpose is going to try to break these down in future episodes and you'll ultimately get to see very different sides of these character that are hopefully less stereotypical. Including a previous episode in which we find out Kurt's character is good at football. And much of the appeal of this show lies in the music and uniqueness of the show, instead of it's characters.

But is there a fine line with stereotypes that you don't want to cross? And how do you avoid this in your writing?

In one of my current books many of the characters are from diverse cultures, and it gets tough to constantly push my own boundaries in trying to make these characters realistic without coming across as stereotypical Japanese, Italian, American, etc. One of the easiest ways to avoid this is to focus on developing the character fully and separate the character from the culture they come from. I'm an American and proud of it, but many of my traits don't fit typical views foreigners have of U.S. citizens. And the same goes for most cultures.

At the same time it's important for me to celebrate cultural differences in this book, because in real life I think it's important to recognize different cultures and appreciate them. So for that reason stereotypes have to come up, even if they come up because the characters are "shocked" by one of the other characters not fitting their own idea of a certain cultural trait, such as shy, flirtatious, good at dancing, always late, money-hungry, or any other stereotype you want to choose. Plus, I think it makes it more realistic if some stereotypes are in the book and are broken. Because as much as we don't like to admit it, that happens in real life to. So why try to hide that fact?

What do you guys think? And how do you deal with stereotypes in your own work?

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, October 12, 2009

Big, Big World Building

Tip of the Day: Seriously, someone please remind me next Sunday NOT to watch the Buffalo Bills game. It totally buzz kills the weekend.

Do you know what I'd like to write? Science fiction. A big futuristic fantasy with some technology thrown in. I'm thinking "colony on the moon." I really want to write a story that takes place in a moon colony.

I've shied away from this kind of story before because I haven't had good luck with stories with super cool settings and sketchy, vague characters. I have a ton of potential "awesome settings, no characters" ideas: 1900 Outerbanks, 1910 Steampunk Metro New York, the Great San Francisco Earthquake (possibly also steampunk), and also some kind of Gilligan's Island type thing--hey, I never thought of doing Gilligan's Island Steampunk until now! I'm calling that one! Don't you all jump on it first! (Or is Gilligan's Island already Bamboo Punk?)

My moon colony idea is different, though, because it has characters with motivation. I met a couple of restless teenagers on the moon. They're unhappy with their lives and want out of my colony. Of course, there's no air on the moon, so they can't just walk out. They're going to need my help.

If I'm going to explore this story further--and I think I should, because setting, plot, and character all together are hard to come by--I'm going to have to world build. What do they eat? How do they dress? How is the colony heated? Is there garbage? Where does it go? I can't even imagine all the questions I'm going to need to address. This isn't like a paranormal where I can build some magic rules and history and assume a kitchen is still a kitchen. This is going to require more planning before writing than I'm used to.

Does anybody have any tips on where to start? Websites, books, templates? Do you plan out your story world on paper or on computer? I'm at the very beginning of exploring this idea, so now is the perfect time for me to learn new ways of planning. I'd be grateful for any suggestions.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, October 9, 2009

How much is too much?

Tip of the day: Want to read Tina Springer's book, THE ESPRESSOLOGIST? Of course you do! Her release day is getting closer! You can pre-order your very own copy HERE or HERE.

With my own book's release date less than three months away, I've been thinking about promotion. Specifically, is there such a thing as too much?

I have a little blog tour lined up for the week of the release. But I know some authors set up guest blogs and interviews for an entire month after the release.

I suppose the idea is that the more places you and your book are, the more people who see you. But what about the people who see you again and again? Are you potentially turning them off by showing your book to them over and over?

I have to admit that sometimes I think to myself, okay, enough already. But I may be an odd duck. I understand, we all have to promote ourselves. But I guess I believe that at some point, you have to let go and turn the book over to the readers, and let them tell other people to buy it. If it's good, that's exactly what they'll do.

But I want to ask you - do you think an author can do TOO much on-line promotion, to the point where you're potentially turning people off? Or is there not such a thing as "too much?"

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, October 8, 2009

How are You?

Tip of the Day: Don't write while wearing spanx.

I've been stressing over launch party stuff the last few weeks as you might recall from my posts. But I'm happy to say I've finally got it all resolved! Whoo hoo! It's going to be at Fat Bean Coffee Bar in Naperville, Illinois on November 7th, from 2-4pm. And Borders will be there selling books. And there will be lots of coffee, (hurrah!) juice, and cake. And I will sing and dance. Okay, I lied, I won't sing and dance. But the rest is true. So if you are anywhere in the area please come and say hi!

And now that I'm not actively freaking out about anything, I need to catch up with everyone. Talk to me blog readers. What are you guys all up to? What projects are you working on? What are you reading? What are you going to be for Halloween? :-)

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pro Opinions (or Y I RACWI)

Tip of the Day: If you'll be in Western NY on Saturday, November 7, check out the Rochester Children's Book Fest!

My local SCBWI chapter contains the Rochester Area Children's Writers and Illustrators (RACWI) and I feel so fortunate to be part of this group! Not only are the kidlit writers talented and friendly, but they are helpful and put on the amazing Rochester Children's Book Fest!

At our last meeting, we got into small groups and discussed problems we know we have with our writing, the business, etc., and the other group members offered their 2 cents. My writing question to the group was, "How do you balance the right amount of setting details with rest of the novel? (How do you make sure that the novel isn't bogged down with environmental descriptions, yet there are enough so that the reader can see what is in your head?)"

Here are some of the helpful responses and suggestions I received:

1) Sprinkle details in small batches, 2-3 sentences or so, around the ms.
2) Write out every setting detail you see in your head in a separate doc, then transfer the relevent bits over to the main doc where appropriate.
3) In a separate doc (after a complete draft/scene is written), write a list of every detail that was included, then a list beside that of what is still important and has not been added in yet.
4) Use the five senses in every scene.

Thanks again, RACWI friends!

Anyone else have any more suggestions for me on making the setting clear yet seamless with the rest of the novel?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Monday, October 5, 2009

Written from Planet Psyche Myself Out

Tip of the Day: Before you buy pumpkins, check them for fruit flies. Liquid pumpkin guts on your porch is a little too gruesome!

I have just begun work revising a very important scene. A big scene where different plot strings have to come together. There needs to be adventure, tension, revelations, and 7 characters interacting, all with different motives. I can't forget the setting, either, or how my main character is feeling extremely worried about her best friend hating her and about being caught sneaking around. She has to find the right things sneaking around that reveal enough of the mystery to take us into the end of the book.

I am procrastinating this like mad, and nothing is working to get me working.

I feel in over my head. I can't do all this! So what that I have a million notes. I have too many notes! They all say different things!

I've been trying to bribe myself by telling myself that this is really the last thing that needs to be revised and after I finish, I can send out queries. That isn't working. Now I'm like OMG, everything rides on this scene!

In other words, I'm psyching myself out. I'm rapidly approaching "I'm not good enough, I'm not smart enough, and nobody is going to like this" territory. I wonder what Stuart Smalley would have to say to that.

I deserve good things. I am entitled to my share of happiness. I refuse to beat myself up. I am attractive person. I am fun to be with.

Okay, seriously, how do you get yourself out of a psyche-yourself-out mode?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Day My Writerly Life Changed

Tip of the day: Don’t buy Halloween candy yet. You know what will happen if you do!!!

My agent posted about what she’s looking for HERE, and is open to queries now.

Since I know there are people reading this blog on the agent search, I thought I’d point you there.

You may notice that in her post, she talks about my books and the query letter that interested her enough to ask to read my book.

Reading that description again, it took me back to the day I heard back from her after she read my manuscript. Keep in mind what I had written – a novel in verse about a girl being haunted by her dead boyfriend. Not exactly an easy sell.

I had some interesting responses to my query letter prior to Sara asking to read the manuscript. One agent said he wouldn’t know a good verse novel from a bad one, so he definitely wasn’t the agent for me. Another agent said the word count was far too low for a novel, what I had was more of a novella. Obviously she had never read a verse novel before! Others just straight out said – no.

But I kept trying, because of all the books I had written, I really felt like this one might be THE ONE. Thankfully, Sara requested the full, and a couple of weeks later, I got an e-mail from her. I was at work, and when the e-mail popped up, I waited, and didn’t open it for a couple of minutes. You know some of you do that too! I remember thinking, I need to prepare myself. I need to prepare myself for another no.

Finally, I opened it. And when I saw words like “the verse created a unique atmosphere” and “I would be the strongest of advocates,” I stepped up and away from my desk, my hands clutched at my chest as I said, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh.”

The secretary in cubical next to me said, “Lisa, are you okay?” I think she thought I was having a heart attack.

Nope. Not a heart attack.

An agent! An agent who loved my work!

And now, I am close to having four novels out.

Dreams really do come true!! So get those queries out there. You never know when it's your turn for a YES!

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Everyday is a little bit like Christmas

Tip of the Day: It's Deena's birthday! Whoo hoo! Have a fabulous day! :-)

Yeah, I know this is a really weird title for today's blog but it was the best way I could describe how I'm feeling right now. It's less than a month until my first book comes out and the build up to that moment is CRAZY. I'm so freaking excited! There is something happening everyday. You know at Christmas time how the month before everyone is really nice to each other? And you get little surprises like the neighbor stops by with cookies or your aunt sends you a poinsettia? And all the trickling in Christmas cards? Fun right? Well I'm getting lots of surprises like that. Lots of notes wishing me and my book well and reviews coming in with a date of when they will be published. Interview requests and e-mails with attachments of kick-butt ads for my book that will be appearing in magazines or newspapers. Things that I've ordered for my launch party are being delivered. It's really, really cool.

BUT, since it's feeling a bit like Christmas I'm hoping that the after Christmas let down isn't next. You know that day after when you're like, all that work, all that lead up and preparations and now it's all over and I'm left with a stomachache and a house full of shredded wrapping paper and empty boxes and those annoying little silver twisties that come with every toy and oh blech, taking down the tree isn't nearly as fun as putting it up and there are 364 more days until next Christmas. You know what I mean right? Think that's what happens?

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut