Monday, November 30, 2009

A2A Teen Years: Back in Time and Forward Again

Tip of the Day: Forget about New Year's Resolutions this year. I'm going to choose one word for the year. I haven't quite decided what it is yet, but I'm mulling it over.

It's time for Author2Author: The Teen Years, when we mine our memories for what it was really like to be a teenager and how that impacts our writing. This week, we're talking about what you (and your friends) in your teen past thought you'd be like in the future--meaning now, the present. (Did that make sense? I feel like I should be inventing time travel appropriate verb tenses.)

It's good for me to remember that when I was 15, I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up and that was OK. I didn't lose sleep over it, you know? My friends and I figured we'd probably live in Manhattan and see a lot of live music. We expected to be at Madison Square Garden when the Rangers finally won the Stanley Cup again. Those were great goals.

What I really, really secretly dreamed of was writing for the best show on television: Days of Our Lives. I was willing to make the sacrifice of leaving my friends and moving to California for this.

I actually didn't move to California, as life got complicated with college and true love and the compromises both required. Also, I was not at Madison Square Garden when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup. But teenage dreams don't need to compromise, baby.

The last thing my friends and I expected was that I would have kids. I had two younger brothers and two younger stepsisters, so I was always babysitting while my friends were off doing (what I imagined were) exciting things. The only positive in this was that I honed my craft reading this masterpiece over and over again:

I don't want to spoil the ending for you. It has a great twist.

Friends were so much more important than career goals, weren't they? How about you? What did you and your friends envision doing together as legal adults?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

We're taking the week off from blogging to celebrate American Thanksgiving. We'll be back next week, as witty and topical as ever. Have a great holiday!

Friday, November 20, 2009

A little itchy

Tip of the day: Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday next week! We’ll be taking a blogging break for the week, but don’t worry! We’ll be back November 30th with another fun week of A2A, the Teen years!

I had a good conversation with my agent this week, about a finished project as well as a proposal and some pages I’ve been working on the past couple of months.

She is excited about both of these projects, and that makes ME excited. So yes, sometime soon, I will be out on submission again. It’s been a year or more since I’ve had a sale, and I admit to itching just a little for some good news of the “Sold” variety. Ack, does that make me greedy?

Maybe. Sorry, can’t help it. My mind is already thinking ahead to the year 2011 – it will be a very sad year if there are no new book babies to look forward to! Anyway, stay tuned, I guess. Although I don’t suspect we’ll hear anything until after the holidays at this point.

Honestly, I still pinch myself when my agent e-mails me and says, “Let’s set up a time to talk.” Really? You want to talk to ME? About my work?

I don’t think I’m more talented than most writers. I think I just kept writing and working at it. And it’s what I do even now.

I can remember the days when I wanted so desperately to have a sale. Or even to have an agent who loved my work. It wasn’t really that long ago. I know it seems like the publishing business is mostly gloom and doom these days, but take heart. Books *are* still being sold.

So, keep writing. Keep working at it. And if you’re itching for some good news of the “sold” variety, I hope you get some very soon!

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, November 19, 2009

How to do a Drive-By Signing

Tip of the Day: Always carry a signing pen with you. You never know when you'll be asked to sign a book and the average ballpoint just doesn't cut it.

Drive-by signings. You either know exactly what I'm talking about or you're scratching your head. This post is directed to all the head scratchers.

Once you're a published author you can stop by bookstores wherever (in your town, somewhere you're vacationing, at that store around the corner from your office etc.) your book is carried and ask to sign it. This sounds a little bizarre at first and I was really hesitant to do it until I went with Aprilynne Pike on a drive-by signing while she was in town for a signing. She, Kristin Walker, and I were walking to get a drink and were about to pass by a B&N. She said let's do a drive-by. I said what?! Are things that hard right now? Ok, we didn't say that stuff. :-) But she did suggest stopping to do a quick stock signing. After I witnessed her doing one it gave me the courage to do it myself. See, at first I thought maybe the stores wouldn't want me coming in and mucking up their merchandise. But then I was reminded that I wasn't mucking up their stuff but adding value to it by signing it. Oh yeah. :-) Someone else told me that a signed book is a sold book. I'm not sure who originally said that or if it's true but it sounds good. Anyway, on to how to do a drive-by signing.

1) Stroll into a bookstore.

2) Locate all of your books on a shelf (in my case it's only like 3 to 5 at a store).

3) Carry all of your books up to the information desk.

4) Say to the person working there, hello, I am the author of this book and I'd like to sign it. Do you have any signed by author stickers?

At this point they'll give you a huge smile, whip out a strip of the stickers, and say fabulous! Or some such scenario like that. This actually happens often for them.

5) Sign each book.

6) Sticker the book (or the employee might sticker the book for you).

7) Ask the employee, would you like me to re-stock the book?

And they'll (hopefully) say no, no, I'm going to put them on display up here at the desk.

And that's all there is to it! Bonus tip: you can go online to or and type in your zip code to see if the stores near you have your book in stock. Might save a trip!

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How BAKE Came To Be (or Warning: Sappiness Ahead)

Tip of the Day: It's not too late to enter THE ESPRESSOLOGIST contest! All you have to do is snap a pic of the book at a coffee shop. It's too good a deal to pass up!

I've got an exciting, Subbing for Pubbing news bite for you!


I got my first rejection.

I know, I know, you're all in tears for me, but I'm not! I have faith. Just send good vibes into the publishing world for my MG, BAKE, SET, MATCH if you have a spare minute. Can I tell you how much I love this book? I really love this book -- and what it has become through all of its visions.

Oh, you want the whole saga in abridged form? Of course! Here it is.

When I was in 3rd grade, I met another 3rd grader named Beth. She, her older brother, and her parents were new to the neighborhood. And both her parents had cancer. Her dad's was really bad and her mom's was a passing thought as she spent all her time caring for her family. My 8-year-old self didn't even know her mom was sick, but Beth and I became super friends.

At some point, Beth began spending nights at my house. Sometimes weeks. Of course to me this was fun and new and exciting to have a friend over 24/7! But the reality was that her dad was in the hospital all the time and her mom was there with him and she didn't want to leave Beth alone.

Mix in what happens when pre-adolscent girls spend tons of time together (bff love + sisterly beeyotching), a step into the tumultuous fourth grade, best friend necklace drama, and material jealousies and you have the makings of an MG novel 20 years later without even knowing it.

Very sadly, Beth's father passed away while we were in fourth grade, and her mother while we were in sixth. At my older, wiser age of 12 I couldn't believe all the materialistic, trivial stuff I thought about and went on about with Beth in elementary school. I mean, her parents were really sick and I would get upset when my mom let her eat candy before dinner but not me.

So a few years ago in super hindsight, I wanted to explore the relationship between two girls who are trying to forget about the scary cancer surrounding them. Yet if they completely forget about it, nothing else is really in perspective anymore. It's a balance between what's real, what's right, what's important. And I think it's a good lesson for ALL of us at any age to think about.

BAKE, SET, MATCH is not a memoir of my time in 3rd through 6th grades, but rather a story about friendships and baking and tennis based on that kernel of best friends who are forced to become nearly sisters in the midst of drama and heartache. OK, so my first drafts were a bit more true-to-life, but once I got that out of my system, the true plot of the book came out and I think it says what I want to say and have needed to say for all these years.

Fortunately, Beth and I remained friends after she had to move away in sixth grade, and are still friends today despite the miles between us. She also gave me permission to keep the name "Beth" for the Beth-like character in my book. What friend could ask for a greater gift than that? :)

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Joining a Writing Group

Tip of the Day: joining a writing group can be fun and encouraging.

I've been writing fiction seriously for about four years now (wow has it really been that long?), but I've yet to join a writing community such as the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators or Romance Writers of America.

I've kind of dabbled a bit by going to meetings, but just when I started to feel a part of something, I moved and had to start all over again. And I've justified not joining because there's such a wonderful writing community online that I've gotten a lot of great information from and I didn't feel I needed to spend money.

Until now.

Recently, I decided to attend the Winter SCBWI conference coming up in January (with Deena!) and thought what better time to join when it would help get me a discounted rate at the conference.

I just received by packet of information and I have to tell you that I actually kind of feel like a real writer now. It makes me feel official that I'm going to a conference to better my writing and my career and that I'm part of such a great group of writers. I'm kind of amazed I hadn't joined before and I'm so excited to meet writers in my area and future events. And to get the most out of membership that I can.

Are you all members of writing groups? And what benefits do you see and how do you get the most out of your membership?

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, November 16, 2009

Time to Type "The End"

Tip of the Day: This is a periodic public service announcement. Backup your word processing files. Have you saved your writing to a stick drive lately?

Revisions are done, line editing is done, and it's time to virtually step away from another huge folder on my c drive. I've spent lots of time on my tween paranormal, but now it's completed. It's time to work on a new project.

I always feel weird when this happens. It's almost like moving to a new town. I have to meet new people, figure out where all the important buildings are, and say goodbye to the characters I knew so well.

To make it worse, I have a few projects competing for what to work on next, and I'm having a hard time making up my mind. I have a haunted house novel that I feel needs an entire rewrite, a graphic novel script I started in Fast Draft January, and a shiny new idea that needs a lot of research.

To paraphrase Doofenshmirtz from Phineas and Ferb, I need a Brain Switch Gearerator.
I always feel happy the first time I type "The End" on a project, after the first draft. Yahoo, finally, I can start revising!! But the last time I type "The End" makes me feel a little adrift. I guess it's time to be the new kid in a new town again.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, November 13, 2009

When bad things happen to good authors

Tip of the day: Check out this GREAT post by Agent Rachelle Gardner on how much it really costs to publish a book.

October was a hard month. And until now, I haven’t talked about it publicly. But what happened to me is something that happens to authors quite often, and it’s part of being an author, hard as it can be. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk about it a little bit.

See, my editor was let go from my publisher. The editor I made three beautiful books with. The editor who I had a wonderful connection with – who got my books and my writing in a way I had only dreamed of.

Some will say editors don’t really edit anymore. I can’t say that’s untrue all the time, but I know in my case, with this particular editor, it wasn’t true. When I flip through each of my books, I see a little bit of him on every page. And it’s a little hard to imagine having books in the future without those fingerprints, so to speak.

I really went through the stages of grief when I heard the news. I was in denial, I was mad, I was sad, and finally, I think I’ve come through to a place of acceptance. You know what they say – the only thing that’s constant in life is change.

I’ve been assigned a wonderful new editor, and now, after I’ve had some time to grieve a little bit and process everything, I do think it will all be fine in the end.

Interestingly enough, months before this all happened, I felt the need to dedicate CHASING BROOKLYN to my editor. He knew how much I appreciated him, because I told him a few times. But I'm so glad the world will know that too. Especially now.

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Launch Party Re-cap: My Favorite Things

Tip of the Day: The 2009 Debutantes are doing group signings in a number of locations across the country this holiday season. See if they are coming near you! Check Holidaze with the Debs.

I survived!! Actually, I did better than that-- I had so much fun at my launch party!! I couldn't wait until today to blog about it so the big post is on my personal blog here.

Today, I'm going to share some of my favorite things from the party.

First, signing. I signed my arcs at ALA this summer but this was different- it was the actual book! And it was really, really fun. People started coming about ten minutes before the party started and it was pretty steady for the entire time.

Speaking of books, don't they look so pretty all set up in a big ol' stack like this?

Then of course there was all the pink. I love pink! (Did you spot the plates I was freaking out about last week?)

And I loved that so much family came! My parents and all three of my brothers (even the one from Seattle, WA) and their families, my aunts and uncles, cousins, and godparents. And of course my family, Hubby was taking mega pictures and the kids were SO good. I was very relieved!

Although my 3-yr old kept taking advantage of my being distracted to steal chocolate hearts again and again. And again.

And the writers! I love getting to chat with other writers and I was especially happy that local writers came out. Below is Kristin Walker and Trina Sotira.

And finally, I was so excited to see so many old friends-- some I hadn't seen since high school!

Thanks for the support everyone!

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Polishing Two Novels in One Month (or How the Heck is it November 11th Already?!?)

Tip of the Day: Take Tina's THE ESPRESSOLOGIST out for coffee for the chance to win great prizes!

After writing my post about how to overcome my setting deficiencies, I decided I need to revise my YA novel SURVIVING LAKE NEADE. Not that it needs a huge overhaul, but I know that I want to immediately ground my readers in the setting. That means giving the first page a solid intriguing setting, then adding in the four best friends, followed by a continual sprinkling of more setting. Right now it's mostly characters and dialogue; I need to change that.

BUT! I after having my MG novel BAKE, SET, MATCH go on sub, I decided I need to revise my MG novel 24 HOURS TO POPULARITY to beef up the main character's point of view, motivations, and general character; what makes her tick and why is she doing what she's doing. Again, it doesn't need a huge overhaul, but I know that I want to immediately ground my readers in the MC's life. That means reading through the whole novel, page by page, and adding internal dialog so the reader knows what the MC is thinking despite what she's saying.

Oh man, that's a lot of work. Especially since I'm also a third of the way through a rewrite of my first ever novel.

There's only one way to fix that -- blast through the revisions and polishing of both novels in one month! NaNoREVMo! WOO HOO!

I am also a fan of NaNoWriMo, but this year with all my hot projects just burning a hole in my laptop, it didn't make sense to create another document to dilute my attention from the others. :)

So far I'm on page 108/184 of 24 HOURS and page 0/159. Hmmmm...looks like I've got a ways to go. If others can write a 50k-word novel in a month, I can certainly add some details to two mere manuscripts in the next 19 days!

Anyone else doing alternative NaNo challenges this month?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

MG vs. YA

Tip of the Day: try to enjoy the nice weather, while it lasts!

Most of us at A2A have dabbled in writing both Middle Grade fiction and Young Adult. They seem so similar, but yet so far apart. The reading level for an average 9-year old versus a 13-year old is vastly different, and at the same time much of their interests differ as well.

Trying to write my first MG novel, I've found I'm enjoying discovering the differences between the two writing styles and getting into the head of a younger character.

So far, here's where I've found these two writing styles differ (at least in my own writing):

  • MG has to be a bit speedier. With shorter chapters and a quicker plot. Most 9-year olds get distracted very easily and if you don't keep them constantly entertained they might put the book down. At the same time, 9-year olds tend to have slightly more energy and your characters need to reflect that as well.
  • You can have more fun with strange characters. I think younger readers are more forgiving of the unusual and quirky characters and tend to enjoy them.
  • You're plots can be even more far-fetched. This is the case with YA too (as are all these bullet points), but I think you can go even further and push the limits with MG fiction. The crazier the plot, the more enjoyable and fun the book could be.
  • Friendship is really important at this age.
  • Parents play a bigger role in MG fiction than YA fiction.
  • The romance definitely has to be light if there is one.

These are ever changing points and things I'm picking up, but what do you all notice in the differences in MG and YA? With so many cross-over genre books for these age-ranges, there's so many different types of books out there. There's definitely something for everyone to read and write.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, November 9, 2009

I'm All Ears (and Eyes and Shoulders)

Tip of the Day: Win a copy of ONCE WAS LOST by Sara Zarr and THE ESPRESSOLOGIST by Kristina Springer in Tabitha Olson's cool contest here.

What is it with me, first drafts, and body parts? I'm hoping this is a common problem and you can all chime in and say, sure, Kate, we all do that, you're not totally insane. But all my first drafts sound like this to me while I'm writing them:

Their eyes locked. He tapped her hand. She hoisted the backpack on her shoulder and brushed her hair behind her ear. Their arms brushed against each other and she felt a shiver up her spine. He couldn't meet her eyes anymore and stared at his feet. Her back was against the wall. She banged her elbow. Pain shot up her forearm and she opened her mouth to yelp in surprise.

Alright, I'm exaggerating a tiny bit, but that's what it feels like. I mean, obviously I've got some dialogue and stuff sprinkled in there in real life. But man, my characters are extremely fidgety while they're talking.

Did you ever run Wordle ( over your manuscript to see which words you've used most often? I keep expecting to get back EYES in 38 point font. (Actually I usually end up with LOOK or some variation of it in 38 point font, which is close enough. You'd be surprised how many meanings I think that word has.)

So ... common problem? How does one edit out the body parts?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mine, all Mine!

Tip of the day: Have a great release party tomorrow, Tina! We look forward to pictures next week!

Someone at work recently asked me what I was working on as far as books were concerned. I said I’d been working on a project for the past 8 months or so, but I was hesitant to share anything about it yet. She asked me why that was, and wondered if it was because the person being told then projects their expectations about the book or something. I told her that might be part of it, but I couldn’t really explain it, that it’s just sort of a writer’s thing, to hold our projects close to our chests sometimes.

Muses can be very fickle things. At least, mine can. Sometimes simply releasing a story out in the world before it’s ready, even just a verbal description, makes my muse cranky. Suddenly, that sparkly project doesn’t look so sparkly any more.

And I’ve learned over the years that sometimes what I think is a great idea doesn’t sound as great to other people. I always hope it will be met with enthusiasm, but when it’s not, it can be a bit discouraging.

Finally, I think that since I now have other books out there for others to judge, it’s simply nice to have something that’s mine and only mine for awhile. No one else’s. Mine to do what I want, to build it up or rip it down, and not have anyone passing judgment on what I’m doing.

What about you? Do you like telling people what you’re working on, or do you tend to keep it under wraps, like I (usually) do?

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Launch Party Brain

Tip of the Day: Take the Espressologist out for Coffee! Check out the fun contest on my blog.

I've been trying to think up a blog post topic for this week but I'm having a hard time concentrating on anything else but my launch party this weekend. It has been on my mind 24/7, I swear. Here's my brain these days-- Must find pink paper plates. Where do they sell pink plates? This is the blasted fifth store I've gone to-- are they conspiring against me? Is someone two steps ahead of me going through my town and buying up all the pink plates? WHY CAN'T I FIND PINK PLATES? I have to finish the favors. OMG, why do they take so long to make? What was I thinking? They're awfully cute though. I love them. Did it really just take me that long to make five? What? You're hungry? When will you kids learn to use the microwave? (Kidding). Pink forks would be nice. Oh no, let's not go there again. I wonder who will come? What if no one comes? What if everyone comes? What am I going to wear? Should I make cookies or buy cookies? What? I should be writing? Yes, yes I know but I'm looking for pink plates! Priorities! I refuse to use white paper plates. I've put my foot down to white plates. Who is screwing with me and my search for pink plates? There are other towns with stores that might have pink plates. I need a table cloth. I should have thought of this last weekend. Kids, you promise you won't run in circles at Mommy's coffee party right? Right? I am not above bribery-- just name your price. OMG!! Pink plates!! I've found you, you beautiful beautiful disposable paper product you! What? You are way overpriced? I don't care. I must have you.

And that's how it's been going. If you want to see me and my pink plates come to my party this Saturday from 2-4pm at Fat Bean Coffee bar in Naperville, IL! Details on my Web site.

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Nationals! (or I B @ SCBWI NYC!)

Tip of the Day: Write an 8-line poem for a chance to win Rhonda Stapleton's debut romantic comedy, STUPID CUPID!

I did it! I registered for my first ever National SCBWI Conference! You'd think that between my (a) conference addiction and (b) physical proximity to NYC that I would've gone before, but alas, the timing never worked out. This year, however, I made NYC on Jan 30 and 31 the priority, and will attend panel discussions, breakout sessions, and will meet my agent. (And I believe Miss Querylicious may join me!) Fun! (More info is here:

I'll be at the Fantasy Novels, Literary Novels, and Teen Novels breakout sessions. My wrist will cramp from the notes I'll take!

Mosty what I hope to gain is (a) inspiration from dedicated editors, (b) encouragement from authors, (c) energy from the experience of being surrounded by hundreds of people who are in love with kidlit.

That means I won't be attending this year's local SCBWI winter con in Syracuse, NY, but it looks like it will be fab as well. (

Any tips from anyone who's been to the NYC SCBWI con before?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It's NaNoWriMo Time!!

Tip of the Day: if you want to be NaNoWriMo buddies with me, my username is em.ma16. Go ahead and friend me.

It's that time of year again when the leaves are changing, fall is coming to an end, everyone is preparing for the big holidays, and almost 120,000 people attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.


And yet I can't seem to step away from National Novel Writing Month.

For the last three years, I've done NaNoWriMo in some capacity. Usually in a modified version, because November is the travel month in the Marshall household. This year, however, there are no trips and no excuses.

So this month, I'm whipping out a work-in-progress and am going to attempt this again. Except I'm working on a Middle Grade novel, so my goal is around 30K (which is slightly more manageable).

I've yet to "win" by completing all 50,000 words, but every time I participate I still walk away feeling I accomplished something. Either finishing a draft, pushing myself to write more, or making myself work on hard scenes that seem impossible during other parts of the year. Getting motivation to work on a project is priceless and having buddies and friends to share it with is even better. I love the feeling of seeing my word meter go up everyday and trying to reach my word-count goals for that day or week.

I highly recommend it, even if you don't want to do the whole 50K. Just set your own goals and pace yourself accordingly.

So who out there is NaNoing this year?

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, November 2, 2009

Driving and Singing like I'm Kermit and Fozzie in one Great Package

Tip of the Day: The Rochester Children's Book Festival is this Saturday in Rochester, New York. It's a great lineup and the festival is free!

I drive from the suburbs into the "city" to work every day. (The "city" is Rochester. I grew up on Long Island so I'm obligated by birth to put quote marks around "city" when not referring to New York City.) This is a time of solitude. The kids are on the school bus and it's just me and my car and my tunes. And my works in progress, of course. Commuting time is prime brainstorming time.

Some people can listen to books on CD while they commute, but I always lose the thread. I get cut off by an oversized pickup or have to dodge an old Dodge, and by the time I gain equilibrium, I'm two chapters behind. So I gave up on audiobooks in the car and now I just sing along to my music and think about what I want to write when I get home.

To get myself instantly into fiction writer mode, I have playlists in my iPod named after my characters. I plug my car tuner into my iPod, push play on my playlist, and by the time I get to the highway on-ramp, I'm mentally deep into ideas for my next chapter. My playlists are sometimes music my character would listen to, but usually I don't have the same taste in music as my characters, being born in a different decade and all that. So my playlists are more like what I see as the soundtrack to the imaginary movie of my novels.

Here are some of the songs I heard this morning, from the Holly list:

  • Witch, by the Bird and the Bee
  • iDecide, by What Made Milwaukee Famous
  • Criminal, by Fiona Apple
  • Promises in the Dark, by Pat Benetar
  • Bang Bang Bang Bang, by the Soho Dolls

It's not that I listen to that kind of music on a loop while I'm writing. But if I'm doing something else (like driving), those songs will make me think of my story. Instantly, I'm in that story world.

So how do I find the right songs for my characters? Fortunately, I get to listen to internet radio sites at my day job. Check out,,, and for new music ideas. I keep a steno pad on my desk while I work. When I hear a song that reminds me of one of my stories, I jot it down. Then I periodically take the list home and download my favorites from iTunes or Amazon. That may seem like a lot of work, but with my particular job and commute, it's very convenient for me.

The key is to remember to write down my ideas before I get caught up in work or home life! So I keep index cards and pens just about everywhere.

So what do you do while you drive? Some people pay attention to the road, I hear. I hate it when I have to do that.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages