Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy Holidays!!!

Tip of the day: We will be taking the next two weeks off to celebrate the season, but we'll be back in 2010 with more fun, fiction, and food for thought!!

From us at Author2Author to all of you, wishes for a very merry holiday and a happy, healthy and successful new year!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Just Call It Research

Tip of the Day: Books make an awesome gift! And if you sign up at or they'll start e-mailing you coupons every week. Or, check out Amazon where they always have a discount and you can get free shipping if you spend over $25. Or, visit your local indie and see what deals they've got going on.

I don't know about you but with the holidays zooming up on me (Yikes, is Christmas really next week?!) I can't concentrate on writing at all. Which then makes me feel kinda guilty and we can't have that. Thus, I'm telling myself everything is research:

Like Christmas shopping. It's so hard trying to find that perfect gift. And if you think you know just the right thing what would you do to get it? Would you do this?

To get this?

Some did! And maybe that type of person will be a future character in a book.

Then of course there is the cheesy Christmas movies on fa la la la lifetime and Hallmark etc. I looooooove these movies. They are a holiday must. And they always only get the top notch actors like Roseanne Barr's ex husband and that guy married to Tori Spelling and starring on her reality show.

And I have to say it was good to see Dawson again. Oh, how I've missed him.

Ahem, back to research. These types of movies provide a clear and easy example of plot structure. They're all pretty typical (really, I dare you not to know where the movie is going in the first two minutes) but enjoyable.

And the cookie making. Ohhhh, the cookie making. Let's see, that could be a practice in thinking up colorful adjectives. Like, delicious, delectable, scrumptious, tasty, yummy, succulent, delightful...

That is, until after the holidays when you're at the gym cursing out the evil little sugar balls of death.

Finally, the family get togethers. Families provide an abundance of crazy characters that you can pick interesting traits from. But like Deena has mentioned before, make sure you change them enough that your family doesn't get wise. Or you could have a situation like I had on my hands this past Thanksgiving when everyone cornered me at the table and accused me of putting various people in the book. :-) That's when you keep repeating, it's fiction people! It's fiction!

Happy Holidays!

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Why New Moon (or You Can Do No Wrong/In My Eyes*)

*With apologies to Thom Yorke (see link below)

Tip of the Day: After making your holiday cookies, immediately package them up for whoever will receive them to detract from your desire to keep snacking on them....

I saw NEW MOON. In the theater. Twice.

Now before you judge, the first time was bc I wanted to see it and a group of us went for my friend's bday night. The bday girl is a HUGE fan of the series, so of course we had to go.

The second time was bc that same bday girl asked if I would go with her again. I don't see her much so I said yes as long as we had lunch first so we could catch up on gossip. And I have to say, I enjoyed the movie better the second time than the first. It is still too long, and the parts of Bella pining and looking forelorn could be cut down, but overall there are some parts of the movie -- and the story -- that remind me of why the series is such a popular YA phenom.

One reason is that the layers of the story fit together, are relevant with each other, yet represent Bella's personal story and the greater good of other people of Forks. And bc the reader cares about the minor characters like Charlie, we care about the micro and macro stories: Bella missing Edward, Bella liking Jacob, Jacob and Edward being enemies, Victoria coming back, Charlie hunting Jacob, Jacob hunting Victoria....

There's this great montage scene in the movie -- my fave scene -- set to this song by Thom Yorke (Hearing Damage): The melancholy of the music, plus the chase/hunt scene that switches between Charlie, Victoria, the wolves, and Bella -- the micro and macro stories intertwined -- sums up so much with no dialog, and leaves me wanting more of it.

How does one write the equivalent of the powerful, emotional, action-filled movie montage in a novel?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

2009 was tough, but all that means is 2010 will be better

Tip of the Day: don't forget to schedule in vacations through the coming year! They are much needed and great stress relief.

I started to think of many things to write today, but I kept going back to Kate's post yesterday and couldn't help but add my two cents. She said it far better than I could, but this year has definitely been tough on everyone.

Many people have lost jobs, houses, loved ones, and more than I could imagine.

For me personally, it was probably the toughest year of my life. One in which I lost someone very close to me and almost lost my own life as well. Nothing like a life-changing experience to give you perspective.

The sad part is that many people had stuff happen to them that was far worse this year. I have my health now, a job I love, and family to support me, which is more than a lot of people out there.

In the midst of all the toughness and sadness of this year, though, I think I've grown leaps and bounds as a person, despite the many days when all I felt like doing was snuggling up in my bed and avoiding the world. I really do believe our struggles only make us stronger and when we pick our selves back up and keep on going it shows our true character.

And as a result 2009 has also been one of the best years, if not at least the most eye-opening.

Just as in life, it's the same thing with writing.

So if you are out there and afraid to submit your work, afraid of the rejection, then just remember there will be a time when it gets easier. And don't forget that each one is making you a stronger writer and person (even if it doesn't feel like it at the time).

Also, when bad things happen it's hard to find joy in anything, and if writing does that for you, then please stick at it. Don't worry about no one buying your work or getting too many rejections. Just think of it that maybe someone needed it more than you right now. And if you stick with something, continue to find enjoyment from it, then your time will come.

Here's to a much better 2010 for everyone!

-Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, December 14, 2009

2009 Was a Tough Year

Tip of the Day: Can you believe people are buying out Justice snuggies and reselling them on eBay for twice the retail price? I don't know what my tip is here. Oh yeah: establish an electronic alibi so when your kids don't get the number one item on their Christmas lists, you can prove it wasn't for lack of trying.

2009 was a tough, tough year.

First of all, I had to deal with rejections. I know, poor me, everyone deals with rejections. But if you're like me, the Monday Miss without tons of experience in querying, this rejection thing stings.

I think I'm supposed to toughen up. I'm not sure that's going to work for me. I'm not type to read a rejection and say, pfft, what do they know? They'll regret rejecting me someday! No, I absorb criticism when it comes from sources I trust. I like to think that's how I managed to improve as a writer.

The only thing that's going to work for me will be to get so many rejections that I can say, eh, I've gotten a bunch of these before and lived through it. Is that toughening up? I don't know. It seems like the long road to toughening up right now.

When I get bummed out on a rejection, my husband says, "It's a tough time for buying out there." Ugh, don't I know it. And I worry. What am I expecting when established authors are having trouble selling? When bookstores are closing and publishers are cutting staff?

Will anyone ever read what I write? If not, what am I doing this for?

And then it snows and I think, boy I sure wish I was home in my pajamas writing. I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing right now. So I guess I'll keep going, and I guess once it's written, I might as well send it out. Let it snow.

The economy has been tough before and books have lived through it. Media delivery has changed before and writers have lived through it. That's why I write for young people, I think. Their lives seem tough to me. They don't have the confidence that comes from having survived tough times that are now harmless memories. So here's to us all getting that confidence in 2010.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, December 11, 2009

We must say farewell to Kirkus

Tip of the day: When you walk the dog in 15 degree weather, it's a good idea to put on the old long johns. Brrrrr....

In case you didn't hear the news yesterday, Nielsen Business Media has announced it is closing its book review publication Kirkus Reviews.

I find this really sad. As much as people bashed Kirkus because of their often times harsh and negative reviews, I know a lot of librarians relied on their reviews to make their purchasing decisions. And it starts to feel like the walls of the publishing world are crumbling just a little more around us.

Interestingly enough, just last week, my editor sent me a very nice review from Kirkus for CHASING BROOKLYN. I don't know how soon the closure takes effect. Is it immediately? I have no idea. The review is scheduled to be in the December 15th issue. In case there isn't going to be a December 15th issue, I thought I'd post it here.

Schroeder, Lisa


New Year’s Day breaks hard for Brooklyn as she faces the one-year anniversary of the car accident that killed her boyfriend Lucca; across town, Nico, Lucca’s younger brother, also mourns. Rocked hard by this grim anniversary, both teens are further aggrieved to learn that on this same day their friend Gabe, the driver of the car, has committed suicide. Following Gabe’s death, Brooklyn and Nico are drawn together, not by familiarity but instead by supernatural visitations from the two deceased boys, who seem determined that Brooklyn and Nico must continue to live. Written as a novel in verse, the text alternates between Brooklyn’s and Nico’s voices and thoughts, dreams and fears, creating an intimate and raw snapshot of their evolving relationship. Capitalizing on the elasticity of the form, Schroeder masterfully creates a parallel structure within the text, the energy and emotion of each scene heightening its overall drama, underscoring the sorrow and, above all, strengthening its final message of hope. (Fiction. YA)

Thanks for letting me share.

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Group Signings=FUN!

Tip of the Day: Online shopping is so much easier than going store to store. But you have to buy your gifts now to get them shipped to you in time!

Last weekend was my first group signing ever! (Well, two signings. And really it was my first signing in a bookstore too.). The first signing was at the Borders in Bolingbrook, IL. It was Cynthea Liu, Lara Zielin, Aprilynne Pike, Me, Darcy Vance, and Saundra Mitchell.

Things I learned:
1) We brought way too many cookies and candy. And my giant coffee cup is HEAVY to lug around.
2) Aprilynne & Cynthea's idea that we each only talk for a few minutes was brilliant! It really kept things moving at a nice pace and nobody got bored. And it left lots of times for questions and funny stories.
3) Prizes are a fabulous idea! We let people pick something from the basket for each question asked. Such a good idea. I'm glad I was with these super smart experienced authors!
4) It's smart to sign whatever stock is leftover at the signing. That way the store can still sell autographed books.

This signing went really great. It was nice and relaxed and fun and we really got to talk a lot with the audience. And it was great to see book lovers, librarians, and bookbloggers.

After this signing we went downtown for this yummy, yet incredibly expensive pizza and then to our next signing at The Book Cellar in Lincoln Park.

The Book Cellar was awesome! Lots of really fun people and a great atmosphere. It's the kind of place you want to spend oodles of time just chilling in.

Things I learned:

1) A bookstore that serves both coffee drinks and alcohol is a fab idea!
2) How to deal with hecklers. This woman kept yelling that we weren't starting on time and she had places to be. It was quite adorable actually. Once we got going she seemed to love our talk and asked lots of questions but alas, abruptly stood up in the middle and announced that she would be going to the library to check out all of our books. Like I said, she was adorable.
3) And finally, group signings are PERFECT for the debut author. Face it, when you're new no one knows you. There aren't going to be long lines of fans waiting to see you. But when you're in a group each person will attract a few or more and even if you only have a small group there it will still be like a great fun party because there are others up there sharing the spotlight.

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Holidramas (or We Are Fa-mi-ly)

Tip of the Day: If $10 electric beaters seem too good a deal to be true, they probably are.

Real life family dramas can be draining enough, but when they are rampant through the holidays, well, get the wine bottle opener ready. Or lock the liquor cabinet, depending on your guests.

Because of the amped-up drama surrounding times that are supposed to be Jolly and Chipper and full of Good Cheer, adding a holiday family gathering into your manuscript can be a great way to increase tension or set the scene for a solid familial blow-up. Besides, you can get the whole family in one location for the ultimate audience for your MC's explosion/revelation/meltdown!

(Ellen Wittlinger's PARROTFISH is an excellent example of using Christmas as the backdrop for a climax/beginning resolution scene. Have I mentioned lately how much I love Ellen Wittlinger)

I need to follow my own advice on this. So far I have two books that feature Independence Day, and one that features a birthday party. Good, but not nearly as potentially theatrical as Thanksgiving through New Years.

However, in writing such scenes since they often do include family, be careful not to too accurately portray your own Crazy Aunt Luella or Drunken Grandpa Pete, lest they recognize themselves upon publication. Unless they thrive on that sort of thing.

This year, family dramas are abounding, but I don't want to exploit the fam's holidrama even if I do find it somewhat amusing. How do you find the balance between writing real minor characters who mirror your own family and flat-out stealing Cheating Cousin Kyle's exact hilarious personality and situation for the sake of your story?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holidays and writing

Tip of the Day: have your had a cup of hot apple cider lately? Yummy.

The holidays are always a stressful time. There's so much shopping to do, so many activities, so much family to visit.

So why is it that holiday time always brings the desire to write?

At least for me.

Maybe it's because you can't help but people watch this time of year. And the things you see are much stranger than fiction. As in people sleeping out at tents, just to get into Walmart on Black Friday.


Is it really worth that 10 dollars saved?

These questions and others seem to pop up all the time during the holidays. There's just so much going on and so much different stuff happening all around us, I think it's second nature to want to capture it.

Either it's that or watching all those Christmas movies as Kate mentioned yesterday.

Whatever it is, don't forget to take time to write during the holiday. Your brain will appreciate the break from all the other craziness.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Ghost of Christmas Backstory

Tip of the Day: Books for Christmas! Sure, you know your YA and MG and even adult bestsellers, but you probably have younger kids on your shopping list. Check out the School Library Journal's Top 100 Picture Books. Something for everyone!

So I watched a LOT of Christmas specials this weekend. (We're Christmas crazy
in my house. Every room smells like pine and sugar cookies!) I began to notice that a lot of Christmas movies follow a pattern. They have a narrator ... who starts by telling us something strange and/or wonderful happened in the past. Then he brings us through the main character's entire childhood until we finally, finally we get to the main story. (I guess in the case of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, the wonderful thing is about to happen, which is sort of an improvement on the pattern.)
Could you imagine writing a book like that? Okay, it can be done. TALE OF DESPEREAUX was written like that. But man, talk about pressure. Your main character has to be really unusual to get away with that.

ELF worked for me because the backstory was so funny (and I love Bob Newhart). And in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, every selected instance from George Bailey's life is so bittersweet. And in RUDOLPH, well, we all know what's going to happen anyway and I can distract myself by wondering what the snow was made out of. (RUDOLPH has to be watched in High Def.)

But you know where the pattern gets really annoying? SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN. Santa was a baby once, did you know that? He learned to make toys, did you know that? Yawn! Also, he adopted a penguin who eventually got him arrested. What the heck? How does that fit into anything?

As a writer, SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN really irks me. Don't tell me it's just kids watching; that's the world's worst excuse for poor craft. That whole entire hour is nothing but backstory.

Dickens had it right. Get a ghost to take care of the backstory for you. You don't even have to worry about transitions!

So which Christmas special gets on your writer's nerves, and why?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, December 4, 2009


I'm a little excited. Can you tell? Lisa has the day off today so I thought I'd sneak in and tell you guys about the Holidaze with the Debs Tour that starts tomorrow!! Authors that debuted in 2009 are grouping up in different areas for super fun signings. I'm so lucky that 5 of them are coming out to me tomorrow in Bolingbrook, IL (at Borders, from 1-3) and then we're all heading downtown for a signing at The Book Cellar (7-9pm). And then I'm having a sleepover. Yep, that's right-- a YA author sleepover. Maybe I'll blog about that next week? :) Anyway, here's the schedule- if you're near any of these areas please come!



Dec. 6, 1-3 p.m.
Books of Wonder
18 West 18th St.
New York, NY
Including: Megan Crewe, Sarah Cross, Deva Fagan, Neesha Meminger, Kate Messner, Shani Petroff, Jon Skovron, Michelle Zink


Dec. 5, 1-3 p.m.
161 N. Weber Road
Bolingbrook, IL
Including: Cynthea Liu, Saundra Mitchell, Aprilynne Pike, Kristina Springer, Darcy Vance, Lara Zielin

Dec. 5, 7-9 p.m.
The Book Cellar, Inc.
4736-38 North Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL
Including: Cynthea Liu, Saundra Mitchell, Aprilynne Pike, Kristina Springer, Darcy Vance, Lara Zielin


Dec. 5, 3-4 p.m
588 Francisco Blvd. West
San Rafael, CA
Including: Lauren Bjorkman, Cheryl Renee Herbsman, Malinda Lo, Sarah Quigley, J.A. Yang

Dec. 8, 7 p.m.
Menlo Park Public Library
800 Alma St.
Menlo Park, CA
Including: Lauren Bjorkman, Cheryl Renee Herbsman, C. Lee McKenzie, Sarah Quigley, J.A. Yang

Dec. 9, 12 p.m.
Petaluma High School*
201 Fair St.
Petaluma, CA
Including: Lauren Bjorkman, Cheryl Renee Herbsman, Malinda Lo, Sarah Quigley, J.A. Yang
* Open to the public, but visitors should check in at the school office when arriving

Dec. 12, 2-4 p.m.
The Shops at Tanforan
1150 El Camino Real Space 277
San Bruno, CA 94066

Including: Lauren Bjorkman, Cheryl Renee Herbsman, Malinda Lo, C. Lee McKenzie, Sarah Quigley, J.A. Yang


January 7, 7pm
Yorkdale Indigo
Yorkdale Mall
3401 Dufferin St.
Including: R.J. Anderson, Megan Crewe, Neesha Meminger

Jan. 9, 2 p.m.
Eaton Centre
220 Yonge St.
Toronto, Ontario
Including: Megan Crewe, Neesha Meminger, Sarah Ockler, Rhonda Stapleton, Lara Zielin

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A2A The Teen Years: Which Way Do I Go?

Tip of the Day: I'm doing two fun signings this Saturday with a great group of authors. If you're in/near Bolingbrook, IL or Chicago, IL please come by!

As a teen, I had no clue whatsoever what I wanted to be when I grew up. I always kind of assumed I'd go to college and do something but never gave much thought as to what. The big plans I had with my BFF at that time was for us to graduate high school, get an apartment together next door to our future boyfriends (who would also be BFFs), and go to school somewhere.

And then one my day, I think either late junior year or early senior year, the school guidance counselor called me in and asked what my future plans were and I said I was going to go to college. He told me he didn't think I was smart enough for college and that I should look into being a secretary. Um, what? Nothing wrong with being a secretary but let's back up here-- did you tell me I wasn't smart enough to do something?

So of course I was now on the path to prove him wrong and not only did I go to college, I went on to get my Masters and ended up teaching college courses for six years. So PBBBBBBT! to that guy. I still think I need to track him down on facebook or something and be like um, what was that about me not being smart buddy? :-)

I think it was ok that I had no clue what I wanted to do for a long time. Because I got to try lots of careers to figure out what was the right one. I taught high school, taught college, wrote freelance articles for magazines/web sites, and did technical writing. And now I'm an author, which I LOVE being, and I never saw that coming when I was a teen.

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A2A The Teen Years: What Will You Be When You Grow Up?

Tip of the Day: Don't deny the powers of the neti pot during cold and flu season!
In junior high, my friends and I played the Ouija Board all the time. One question we liked to ask was "What will we be after high school?" It told Kim she'd be a "sex queen." It told Shaunna she'd be a "nun." It told me nothing! Not that it mattered, I guess, since its predictions for my friends were completely wrong.

In high school, my friends said I was like Daria. She was a book nerd who ripped on social norms and had big hair. Uh, yup -- except unlike Daria I swear I had a sense of humor! (Photo of me is from 10th grade; I must have forgone my glasses for this snazzy pic.) Still, it was no big surprise to anyone when at age 15, I got my first job at the local library.

During this time, I wrote a lot of short fiction for English classes, and when my family got our first computer with Word Perfect, I was psyched to type type type my own social commentaries for the amusement of myself and my friends. That was when I think people first started telling me I was going to be a writer "when I grew up."

Did people say I was going to be a librarian? Despite my six-year tenure at the Parma Public Library as a Page/Processor, I'm not sure anyone did.

At least my friends who guessed were half right. And I'm glad they were!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My future, according to a teen

Tip of the Day: hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!

From the time I was five till seventeen, I only had one career aspiration. I never dreamed of being a princess, firefighter, doctor, or even a wife and mother. Aside from the short stint around age six of wanting to work in a grocery store, because using a cash register seemed like the most exciting thing in the world, I’d always wanted to be a lawyer.

Arguing was in my blood. If my parents stance was my bedtime should be 8 pm, mine would be it should be 9 pm, and I’d have a bulleted list of reasons to support it. Mainly because I loved a good debate, even from a young age.

Plus, lawyers wore suits everyday, got to use words such as “objection” and “your honor,” and always seemed put together on television or in books. And in my mind, they lived alone in the big city, which when growing up in a small town seemed more appetizing than anything in the world.

There was only one type of law I thought of practicing: criminal. To be honest, I’m not sure I realized there were other forms of law until high school and even then they didn’t seem appealing. I loved trying to understand the human psyche and getting to the bottom of a case, so to speak. I’d always loved mystery books, and watched Perry Mason and Murder, She Wrote before crime and law shows became the norm.

It wasn’t until I was looking for colleges my senior year that I really began to think about my future and what I wanted to study. I looked at several pre-law programs and ultimately decided I’d make a horrible criminal lawyer. There’s no way on earth I could defend someone I thought was guilty or prosecute someone that might be innocent.

Ultimately after several major changes, I landed on journalism, advertising, and public relations. And I couldn’t be happier.

Ironically, I turned back to my days of Murder, She Wrote and decided to try my hand at writing after graduation and found my niche in the mystery world. From behind the scenes in making up characters and having the ending turn out exactly how I’d like. And now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I never made it to the big city to live, but travel to them frequently instead. And ultimately I married way younger than I ever imagined. But it’s funny how things work out and you end up doing exactly what you’re meant to.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious