Friday, April 30, 2010

Spring Cleaning Giveaway - Last Day!

Tip of the day: Today is the last day to enter our giveaway. Comment on any or ALL of the posts this week and you earn entries for FIVE great books: PROJECT 17, THE SQUAD: KILLER SPIRIT, SIGHT, LUV YA BUNCHES, and STUPID CUPID.

Thanks to everyone who has commented and followed us this week to enter to win the spring cleaning giveaway contest.

Today it's my pleasure to announce the last book by the amazing Rhonda Stapleton. It's called STUPID CUPID and is published by Simon Pulse, just like my YA novels. And look at this adorable cover!

Felicity's no ordinary teen matchmaker...she's a cupid!
Felicity Walker believes in true love. That's why she applies for a gig at the matchmaking company Cupid's Hollow. But when Felicity gets the job, she learns that she isn't just a matchmaker...she's a cupid! (There's more than one of them, you know.)

Armed with a hot pink, tricked-out PDA infused with the latest in cupid magic (love arrows shot through email), Felicity works to meet her quota of successful matches. But when she bends the rules of cupidity by matching her best friend Maya with three different boys at once, disaster strikes. Felicity needs to come up with a plan to set it all right, pronto, before she gets fired?and before Maya ends up with her heart split in three.

You know you want to read this darling book. So go on - comment already.

Happy weekend!

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spring Cleaning Giveaway Day 4: Luv Lauren Myracle Bunches!

Tip of the Day: Remember, you can get an extra entry in this week's giveaway for each one of our personal blogs you follow too! I'm here, Lisa's here, Kate's here, Deena's here, and Em's here.

As you may already know, Lauren Myracle is one of my YA idols! I looooooove her books! So much so that you may remember this. If you clicked on the link you'd see the recap and pic of me going to see Lauren at a signing a week before my due date with kid #4. I was so hoping I'd go into labor there and she'd have to deliver and I'd name the kid Lauren if it was a girl or Myracle if it was a boy. "Myracle Springer you clean your room right now!" :-)

I just finished the audiobook for her Peace, Love, & Baby Ducks last week and OMG, so good! The actress doing the voice of the main character was amazing and the book was wonderful too of course. And I just noticed the hardcover is at a crazy sale price on Amazon right now so I have to link ($6.80!). But alas, my copy was audio. And I checked it out at the library. So you're not getting it. You can, however, get another one of her awesome books! Luv Ya Bunches!

Luv Ya Bunches is told through four points of view, and I know how hard that is to pull off! The first book I ever wrote was four points of view. No one has seen that book though (you're welcome). And Luv Ya Bunches is told through IMs and blog posts and mini-screenplays. Cute stuff!

So re-read Kate's awesome post on Monday for the in-depth contest details if you'd like and comment here for a chance to win all five books this week!

Kristina, Miss See Me On the Shelves

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sping Cleaning (or Moving is in SIGHT)

Tip of the Day: Comment on today's post -- and/or any posts this week -- for a chance to win all five novels mentioned on A2A this week! See Kate's Monday post for details.

For Spring Cleaning Week here on A2A, I'm giving away a copy of the super talented Adrienne Marie Vrettos' SIGHT!

This is a small town murder mystery with twists and turns and psychicness. So good! I received this book as an Xmas gift from my bro after putting it on my wish list.

After reading AMV's SKIN,

where the voice of her MC, the younger brother of a girl dying of anorexia, is perfect, I knew all her future books would rock. So far, I'm right.

I am excited to soon get my hands on the copy of this that I bought for my library, AMV's latest release:

It looks a bit lighter than her other work, but I'm hooked on AMV and will read all her books. From B&N: "Heathers meets Bring It On in The Exile of Gigi Lane, where a high school queen bee's rise to glory is nothing compared to her fall from it."

Comment on this post for a shot to win ALL FIVE BOOKS featured this week on A2A, including SIGHT! Mention that you became an A2A follower, and/or "retweeted" this contest somewhere for bonus entries. Comment once per day for max entries! Thanks for helping me clean off my book shelves in anticipation of a move!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spring Cleaning Giveaway: Day 2

Tip of the Day: don't forget to comment every day this week for a chance to win books, books, and more books!

[complete contest information]

When most eight-year olds were watching My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake, my brother was on a mission to make me "less girly" and "more tough." His training regime consisted of making me watch as many Bruce Lee, Steven Seagal, and Jean-Claude Van Damme movies as humanly possible. Followed by reenacting fight scenes from the movies and jumping off buildings.

So it's no wonder I've grown up to appreciate kick-butt females in movies and books.

I love them even more when the female heroes are the underdog. Excatly like my eight-year old self was when my brother told me I couldn't jump off the roof of our house because I was "too chicken" or "not brave enough." I loved proving him wrong!

So when I heard about The Squad books by Jennifer Lynn Barnes that feature cheerleaders that are actually undercover government operatives, I knew I'd love them. I wasn't disappointed and I know you won't be either! Even if you don't love kick-butt female underdogs quite as much as me, there's still something in these books for everyone.

For your chance to win The Squad: Killer Spirit--along with Project 17--all you have to do is leave a comment.

Everyday you leave a comment this week, you'll get an extra entry. If you are a blog follower (and let us know) you'll get another bonus entry. And if that wasn't enough (I'm totally feeling like an infomercial announcer at this point--but the ways of winning just keep coming) for an additional bonus entry if you want to follow my brand new Twitter account @writeremily. It's really new (as in I just literally started it seconds ago, so I really need friends!).

Super easy way to win FIVE BOOKS!

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, April 26, 2010

Spring Cleaning Giveaway! Win! Win! Win!

Tip of the Day: Check back every day this week for more chances to win 5 hand selected novels from Author2Author!

Springtime means out with the old and in with the new. It's time to participate in the cycle of life and pass on those books you enjoyed so much to others--to make room for more books on your shelves, of course.

So here at Author2Author, we're giving away five YA novels to one lucky winner!

Each day this week, we will tell you about a book you really, really want to read. (Trust us, we're good at this stuff.) Then all you have to do to be entered in the contest is leave a comment. That's it.* At the end of the contest, the randomly selected winner receives all five books. (However, we can only mail them to U.S. addresses.)

*OK, you saw that asterisk up there? That means you have some easy and painless (i.e. non-spammy) ways to increase your chances. First of all, you can comment once a day. So your comment today is one entry, your comment tomorrow is another entry, etc., through Friday.

AND if you tell us in your comment that you started following our blog (Google reader, Bloglines, any RSS feed) you get an extra entry. AND if you tell us in your comment that you started following one of our personal blogs, you get an extra entry. Yes, some of my multi-talented friends here have personal blogs and they rock! They're all different in style and a great part of the YA writers' community in unique ways (stay tuned this week for specific info). I blog with my critique partners at MigWriters which is also awesome. I love being part of group blogs and if you check out the MigWriters site, you'll probably recognize some names from your travels around our internet neighborhood. (It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor, would you be mine?)

OK, before Spring makes me any more loopy, let me bring on the chill factor with a horror novel. One of the five books we are giving away is PROJECT 17 by Laurie Stolarz. I picked this book because I'm all about speculative fiction lately and I've always been in love with scary stories. My husband and I are also urban explorers, and this novel combines urban exploration with good old fear. PROJECT 17 takes place in an abandoned mental hospital. Six teens go in with video camera. Publishers Weekly calls this novel "Breakfast Club meets Blair Witch Project" and that's one of the best "This novel is X meets X" propositions I've ever heard.

Are you ready to be a winner? Leave a comment! Follow us! Ask questions in the comments and we'd be glad to answer them. And don't forget to check back tomorrow for more. Happy Spring!

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, April 23, 2010

Juggling multiple projects

Tip of the day: If you want to read three EXTRAORDINARY blog posts about plot, you must check out Laini Taylor's blog. But make sure you have a good hour to read, digest, take notes, etc. Seriously, it is GOOD STUFF.

I am not a very good juggler, at least when it comes to writing projects.

I like to work on one, see it through to the end, set it aside, let it rest, and while it's resting, if I have something else I need to work on, then get to it while the other one is out of my hair for the moment.

So, it's a little strange to be in a place where I have two things pulling for my attention.

One of them is a book I worked on most of last year. It ended up being more of a tween or young YA book, and although my agent loved it, it's been rejected more than a few times now, and many of the editors have said the same thing - the main premise of the novel will be more interesting to middle grade readers.

Well, that's fine except suddenly my character is 12 instead of 17 and can't drive or work or be getting into a steamy romance and and and... So yeah. It's pretty much a total rewrite. But I love the concept and I think it *is* a premise that middle grade kids might like. So I'm starting completely over. Oh joy.

The other project is also a middle grade, and for that one, I may not have to write the entire thing, which will be nice. I hope to get 3-4 chapters done, write a synopsis, and see if that might be all we need at this point. So hopefully that one will be done and out of the way in a couple of weeks. But we'll see. The best laid intentions and all of that...

The good thing about two projects is that when I'm trying to figure out something in one of them and need that time to just let my brain perculate, I can be actively working on the other one. The challenge, of course, is to keep the voice true in each story.

What about you - do you like working on multiple projects at a time?

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Why I Love Author2Author

Tip of the Day: When you blog, always remember to tag your entries. It really helps you find stuff later on!

Ok, there are dozens of reasons I could tell you about why I love Author2Author but I'm going to focus in on one particular thing. The archives. Every time I'm going through something in my writerly life I check through the Author2Author archives to see a) Did I go through this before and how did I deal with it then? and b) Did the other Author2Author girls go through this before and how did they deal with it then?

Take right now. I'm smack dab in the middle of revisions on my third book, Pumpkin Princess. And I'm at the stage where I keep thinking to myself will I ever be able to straighten everything out and have it all make sense?! Part of me wants to hide the editorial letter under my bed and pretend it doesn't exist. Lalalalalala. But I know I can't. It's kind of like walking into a room where your kid has puked ALL over the place (sorry for gross visual) and you sigh deeply, push up your sleeves, pull your shirt up over your mouth to cover the smell, and tell yourself, "I've got to do it." Nobody else is going to clean up the mess. It's up to me. So everyday, when I look at my editorial letter I tell myself to just get in there and get it done.

Which brings me to why I love Author2Author. I was trying to remember how the heck I handled the first revisions on Espressologist and Fake Boyfriend and of course I'm blanking. So I look under Blog Labels on the bottom right of the page at Revising/Editing and see that, Lisa felt the same way when she was revising Far From You. And how Em turns into Revision Girl to fight bad grammar and whip manuscripts into shape. And I read how Deena keeps herself from getting distracted during revisions. And how Kate has to print out the entire book and hold it in her hand to revise (me too!)

And it all reminds me that I'm not alone and even thought this latest revision looks so hard I'll get through it too!

Kristina, Miss See Me On the Shelves

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Feast of Festivals! (or What Makes Them Irresistable?)

Tip of the Day: Get ready for Spring Cleaning Giveaways on A2A all next week!

With Lisa's blog post from TLA, my growing excitement for the upcoming Rochester Teen Book Festival, and my jealousy of those traveling to DC for this year's ALA Conference, I'm thinking about kidlit festivals and conferences.

As a generally high strung person, I assume that other people are like me, so as a festival volunteer I try to do everything in my power to make the faculty authors comfortable (get more water for them when needed, point out the restrooms, give them time checks, lead them to where they need to be next, tell their adoring fans to chill til the autograph session when they need a minute to themselves, etc.).

On the business side for TBF, the festival organizers try to have as many copies of the authors' books for sale as possible -- and in some cases copies of books pre-release!

On the attendee side, the fest organizers try to provide as many opportunities to see the authors as possible, and want to make the schedule and directions in the location clear.

As a kidlit festival attendee or faculty guest, what makes a successful event for you? What are your must haves? What have you not liked at some fests?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What Authors say to Librarians

Tip of the Day: if you happen to be in the Lansing, MI area and would be interested in seeing an author speak, picture book writer Deborah Diesen will be at the Fowlerville District Library next Tuesday, April 27 from 5:30-6:30 pm. And if I read this correctly, I believe she shares an editor with our very own Kristina!

One of the perks of being a librarian is attending conferences. Recently, I attended the Michigan Library Association's spring conference for children and teen librarians. There were lots of wonderful authors and illustrators who had some interesting things to say, so I thought I'd share a few words of their wisdom.

Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket):

Unfortunately not only was my camera not on me when meeting him, but I was also so enthralled and entertained with his speech that I forgot to write down much of what he said.

But I did find it interesting that he got his name on the fly as a joke, because for a hobby he used to read small newspapers, pick out the most harmless articles about things like bake sales, and compose outrageous letters to the editor about the articles for fun. He didn't want his own name associated with these, so the first thing that came to mind was Lemony Snicket. I guess everyone has to start writing somewhere :)

E.B. Lewis:

Extremely interesting to listen to an illustrator's point of view. He mentioned that the difference between a good painter and a great one is the absence of detail. If you fill in too much detail the reader will walk away feeling complete, but if you leave just enough to the imagination they will keep coming back and find new meanings out of the painting. It's essentially tricking the brain to want more. He compared this to writing too. I found this such a great way to explain the saying "less is more."

Brandon Mull:

I found his story very interesting only because his Fablehaven series is with a smaller publisher Shadow Mountain and it's sort of snow-balled and become a New York Times Bestseller. I think this gives hope to all the people who think that their books can't find success because of small print runs or limited marketing. Sure it's not as likely, but Brandon credits word-of-mouth for his books becoming successful. So it is possible!

Kazu Kibuishi:

He talked about how important graphic novels are becoming for the teen group. He also gave a very interesting talk about how illustrations are done for graphic novels. And my head was pretty much spinning, thinking of all the drawings that have to be done, redone, and then perfected. I believe he mentioned that his first Amulet book took him 4-years to complete, but now he's got it down to about 6-months, since he has assistants help with some of the coloring and detail work of the illustrations. Very fascinating.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, April 19, 2010

SciFi Kaos: Like Mystery Central, except not about mysteries and not centralized

Tip of the Day: For fantastic information on writing and submitting speculative fiction, check out the SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) website, especially the Information Center for writers.

Over the past few Tuesdays, Emily provided some tools and resources for writing an MG/YA mystery, and I was so impressed (seriously, check it out if you missed it, starting here) that I thought I'd try something similar. I'm writing a science fiction story, so maybe I could do SciFi Central? Only I'm afraid I'm nowhere as organized as Emily. This is my first full-length sci-fi work, and I'm learning as I go. So I'm presenting what I'm learning as SciFi Kaos.

Just like with mysteries, a science fiction story requires a considerable amount of up-front planning before you get to start writing. And even before you start planning, I'd recommend asking yourself these three questions about your sci-fi idea:

1. Who is your audience? It's a good idea to know that about any novel, sure. But books like Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer and The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson opened my eyes to the fact that I could write science fiction for teen girls. I can do that, really? Awesome!!

2. What is your time period? Sci-fi can be set in the future, but it can also be set in the present. Think of The Stand by Stephen King. That worldwide plague or asteroid hitting the Moon could happen this afternoon, y'all.

3. What is your "What if" idea? There's something interesting you that makes you want to write a science fiction story, and it can probably be phrased as a "What if" question. What if corporations took over space travel for profit? (The movie Aliens.) What if people could be turned into hologram copies and something went wrong? (The Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson.) What if people whose bodies failed in old age could live in virtual reality? (Otherland by Tad Williams.)

Once you've figured out your What If question, that will tell you what nonfiction to read: stuff on space travel, holograms, or virtual reality. That would be the next step. Before you start outlining, you'll have to know if your ideas are practical. After all, science fiction should be a story that could actually happen.

That's what makes it fun. It could happen. A good science fiction story should be a way to see things we take for granted in a new way.

Try not to get too hung up on the asteroid hitting the Moon, though. That probably won't happen this afternoon. Probably.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, April 16, 2010

Blogging from TLA!

Tip of the Day: Change your e-mail password regularly. I haven't changed it in a long time, and someone managed to hack into my account yesterday and sent spam to hundreds of my contacts. Not fun!!

Sorry I'm posting late today. I'm sure you'll understand when I say I had to hit the exhibit hall here at the Texas Library Association conference this morning, and snag a few more ARCs, which include LINGER by Maggie Stiefvater and TOUCH BLUE by Cynthia Lord. I got some yesterday too. Look - anyone know who wrote THIS book (which I got an ARC of!)

The conference has been fabulous. My panel with Sonya Sones and Ellen Hopkins went really well - we had a practically full room and it seats 550 people!! Texas librarians are so nice, and it's been great to spend time with fellow authors too. Last night I had a great time talking to Varian Johnson (SAVING MADDIE), Jay Asher (13 REASONS WHY), and Jandy Nelson (THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE) about writing, books, school visits, web sites, books, writing, readers, and lots more.

This afternoon I'm spending a half hour chatting with teens, who are coming in today to spend the day meeting authors, getting ARCs, going to book talk sessions, etc. What an awesome opportunity for those kids - so cool!

Okay, I must run - have to get these books shipped off to me back home. I may dash through the exhibit hall one last time and make sure I didn't miss any good ones. :)

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Five Things I Love About Author Fairs

Tip of the Day: Want to chat? Borders in Bolingbrook, IL is hosting their monthly Reader Meet Author event this Saturday, 4/17 at 4pm. I'll be there with some other fun YA authors to discuss whatever you want to know!

I attended another FUN Author Fair this past weekend. I can easily get hooked on these things (have I mentioned in previous posts that they give you candy? Oh wait, I gave up candy. Never mind.). I want to road trip around the country just hitting author fairs. The people who come are so nice and the people who run the fairs are awesome. Love it. But here are five specific things I love about author fairs:

1) Kids who are writing their own books and are very excited to chat about them.

I loooooove hearing about all of the cool books young people are working on! What a bunch of talented creative kids out there. When I was a pre-teen and teen I was too busy chasing boys (they could run fast! Haha.) to sit down long enough to write a book. So impressive!

2) Kids that come by with their autograph books.

I have huge love for the autograph book! I totally had one as a kid and I asked every famous person I met for their autograph. Of course, back then famous people to me were the guys on the soccer team and the high school kids in the school play. I still remember chasing Danny Zuko around after a matinee of Grease. "Danny Zuko! Danny Zuko! Sign my book pleeeeeeeease!"

3) All the authors.

It's so fun to walk around and see everyone's cool tables set up with all their books and swag. Some have tables covered with a dozen or so books. And everyone is so darn smiley and in a good mood. Of course, that could be from the free lunch (and the candy. Did I mention the loads of candy?) but I'd like to think it's just from sharing the love of writing.

4) The staff at the libraries.

They are always so nice! And they kinda treat you like a rock star. "You can go relax and grab a beverage in the Green Room." Green Room? Wh--? Am I on Oprah? I scooted right over to the Green Room (aka storytime room with a Green sign that said Green Room) and chilled with the other guests.

5) The badges.

Oh, the power of getting to wear an author badge. I kind of want to wear one everyday. Would that be weird? I could wear it at the gym, picking up kids from school, at the grocery store etc. How cool would that be? If I got pulled over for speeding I could be all, um, do you not see the badge? Emergency Author Fair obviously. You'll be providing police escort, no?

Kristina, Miss See Me on the Shelves

(Me & Kristin Walker at last week's fair.)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Book People (or "Spendin' all our Money on Brand New Novels"*)

*With apologies to Moxy Fruvous

Tip of the Day: Check out Cynsations -- a great blog by Austin author Cynthia Leitich Smith who has a shout out in her April 12th post to an interview with Tina! Thanks, Cyn!

This past week I was in Austin, Texas. What a great city! There's so much going on -- and there's an awesome bookstore called
Book People. I had heard about it from Austin writer friends like Jo Whittemore so I got my manpanion to swing by.

The first thing I saw when we pulled up was that John Green, David Levithan, and Erin Hunter had recently been there. Wow.

The second thing I noticed was that this indy store was the size of a B&N or Borders. Wow wow.

The third thing I saw (after I flew to the YA section) were the laminated, colorful, handmade signs by the BP staff, recommending specific titles. Adorable!

Also cool is the way the YA section is set up. The fiction is broken down into realistic, fantasy, and TWILIGHT read alike/vampire books. The stock is so great that each section had a large selection.

The signed stock is clearly labeled with stickers, teens and kids roamed the floor with interest, and I left with some board books and this for a mom-to-be:

Because of my impending date with
I didn't sample any of the cafe wares. The dining area was large, though, and busy. A good sign.

Overall, man, I loved that Book People!

The next day I ran into my cousin, a high school librarian, who was also in Austin from Rochester for my bro's wedding. What did she say to me? "Deena, did you go to Book People? Oh my gosh, that store is awesome!" I laughed and drooled along with her, glad I wasn't the only one who made a special trip while on vaca to a bookstore.

Indie love to Book People! Invite me back when I have a book on your shelves and I'll happily sign stock!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mystery Central: General Tips

Tip of the Day: check out this cool mystery book trailer for the latest book in the "Dead Is" supernatural mystery series by Marlene Perez. These books are awesome!!!

Last day here on Mystery Central. Don't forget to check out my tips on characters, crime, and mystery structure. To wrap everything up, I'd like to give some general tips about things I've learned writing mysteries for middle-grade and teen readers.

1.) Watch alot of mystery TV shows. I know you are supposed to read. Yadda. Yadda. Yadda. But this is an excellent quick way to understand how plots fit together, red herrings are thrown at the viewer, clues are given (and mistaken), and how the sleuth figures it out.

Ones I particularly like: Castle and Psych (mainly because both of these take a comedic mystery approach, which I think fits more with younger readers), and Vernonica Mars (why oh why did this show have to get cancelled. I'm still not over it.)

2.) Keep a running list of things you want to add later. With lots of clues you are giving out, it can get confusing (at least it does for me), so I like to have a list of things I need to add later to remind the reader.

3.) There's lots of cool books out there that help with crime solving. One which is especially good for a younger audience: The Nancy Drew Sleuth Book.

4.) If you are wanting tips for more forensic type stuff or just general crime info. The FBI has tons of great stuff on it's Website, particularly on their Law Enforcement Services page and Research page.

There's tons of tips online and in mystery writing books, so you should never be without ideas. If anyone wants to share any other tips, I'd love to hear them.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, April 12, 2010


Tip of the Day: There should be a word in the English language for being sure you own a book but being unable to find it anywhere.

I just finished reading BEWITCHING SEASON by Marissa Doyle (I loved it and absolutely must get my hands on the sequel) and I was admiring her use of Victorian slang. "Smashing," "He's a brick," "horripilatious" ... we wouldn't say those words today, but they're all so clear. We know what she means. If only I was having such a fun time with the slang in my work in progress.

When I was writing something set in 1910, I had tons of fun with phrases like "It's jake." But I like research. Now I'm writing a book set in the future, and I feel like my slang is incomprehensible. The book is set a little over 100 years in the future, so people will definitely speak considerably differently. I could go the Hitchhikers Guide/Red Dwarf route and make up words like frag and grok, but I haven't gone that way. It doesn't feel right. Here's what I'm doing:

1. Dropping verbs, especially in conversation between friends. People get less and less formal with speech, so it seems to me that this is a safe bet. Plus "What you doing?" is still fairly understandable.

2. Adding in foreign words. Hola for hello. I toyed with Mira for Look or Listen in dialogue, but on the page, it looked like I have an invisible character named Mira. I didn't want to add in too much Spanish, even though it's probably the easiest other language for readers to understand. My created world leans more towards Russian and Chinese influences. Guess how much Russian and Chinese I know? Nyet.

3. Twisting cliches. I don't know how well this iron bird is going to glide, but it's fun, at least. Yesterday, when a character didn't want his sister to come with him somewhere, I had him say "Who bought you a ticket to this shuttle?" I kind of like that.

The dialogue I'm writing is more 2010 than 2112, but it still needs to read well in this century. It's not supposed to be an accurate representation of how I think people will speak. But it has to sound sufficiently different from how people speak today for readers to believe they're in a different world. It's definitely a work in progress!

So advice would be appreciated. Do svidaniya!

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, April 9, 2010

Thinking about Word of Mouth

Tip of the day: Check out a great post by Donald Maass on "The Elements of Awe" which speaks to what kind of book generates word of mouth.

Here is what I know about word of mouth:

Word of mouth sells books.
Word of mouth is probably the best kind of marketing there is.
Word of mouth is something all authors want a lot of, yet whether it happens or not is entirely out of their control.

Or is it? When we're writing our book, can we make sure and include those elements Donald Maass talks about in the blog post I linked to?

He says: The researchers defined awe as an “emotion of self-transcendence, a feeling of admiration and elevation in the face of something greater than the self.” Stories that inspire awe have two important dimensions: 1) Their scale is large, and 2) they require of readers “mental accommodation”, meaning they force the reader to view the world in a different way.

I find the whole thing fascinating. There are lots of good books. But the good books that people MUST tell other people about - they have that something extra special. TWILIGHT has it. THE HUNGER GAMES has it. WHEN YOU REACH ME has it.

Think about those books and what Donald is saying regarding WHY some books elicit a feeling of awe in readers. Do you think it's something the authors consciously thought about while writing, or did it just come about from trying to write the very best book they could?

Do you ever think about it while writing?

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Author Etiquette

Tip of the Day: The Espressologist is available on Kindle now! Also, if you're near Bolingbrook, IL I will be at the 2010 Author Fair this Saturday, April 10th, from 11am-3pm at the Fountaindale Library. Stop by!

I was driving through Naperville with two of my kids yesterday and we passed the cute coffee shop where I had my launch party for The Espressologist. My oldest said, "Mommy, look! That's where we had your book party! Where are we having your next book party?" I immediately said, "Oh no, honey, that was a one time thing. Authors don't have big parties for every book they write." And then I thought, or do they? Huh. I think I right away equated releasing a book to having a baby and went with the oh you don't have a baby shower for any of your kids after your first thing. I know I didn't. It was a known thing (in my fam) that people just don't do that. And the occasional person who would have a baby shower for say kid number two, three or oh my god four, would be tsked tsked and talked about for weeks if not well through the next two holiday gatherings. But is this all old fashioned? And why am I comparing a book release to a baby shower anyway? Still, I can't say I recall a party party for a second or third book. A nice big launch book signing at a bookstore-- yes. I've seen lots of those. But the big hoopla invite everyone I know party? Hmm. Of course, I'm out here in Illinois and not New York where most authorly stuff goes down so maybe authors do throw big parties each time. Have you guys been to launch parties for books that weren't debuts?

This then got me thinking about the acknowledgment page that goes in the back of the book. With your first book you sorta gush and thank everyone you know and it's so cute and sweet and I know I love reading them. But then with your second book you either don't do one at all or it's shorter and more to the point thanking maybe a few individuals. Then by the time you get to book three you have people rolling their eyes and going oh please, look at so and so go on and on like she just won an Oscar. Am I wrong? What do you guys think about acknowledgment pages in that back of books? Ok, quick test-- I'm going to run to my bookshelf and get three books by authors who are not debut and see if they have acknowledgment pages. Here we go: 1) Rymes with Witches by Lauren Myracle. Nothing in the back but a short four-sentence Acknowledgments in the front. 2) How to Ruin My Teenage Life by Simone Elkeles. Again, none in the back but a slightly longer one than Lauren's in the front. Simone's is a little over half a page. Last, 3) After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick. Nothing in that back again (what is this a new trend? I thought they were always in the back.) but a one-sentence Acknowledgment in the front. So, my quick research concludes that the acknowledgment page does get shorter with subsequent books but does not altogether disappear. Unless, perhaps you are Meg Cabot. I bet she doesn't have Acknowledgment pages any more. Anyone have a Meg Cabot book and can check for me? I usually have tons but I must have loaned them all out because I couldn't find any just now.

So what do you guys feel about this author etiquette stuff? What's an author to do?

Kristina, Miss See Me on the Shelves

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mish Mash (or Bake, Austin, Fest!)

Tip of the Day: Never underestimate the power of a notary. (Yes, I'm in the house buying paperwork trenches. Why do you ask?)

1. My BAKE revision is back to my agent and will be interwebbing its way to the requesting editor soon! I'm excited as it is better than ever and I hope MG girls looking for sports or bakery or friendship or family books will love it. Now I can go back to drafting PforF...once I return from...

2. My trip to Austin for my bro's wedding! I wish I had time to meet up with the awesome Austin writers I know live there, but time is tight. I will be reading Austin writer Jo Whittemore's FRONT PAGE FACE-OFF on the plane. Once I return to NY it will only be one month until...

3. The Fifth Annual Rochester Teen Book Festival with our very own Lisa!

Hope everyone else is having a productive month!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mystery Central: The Characters

Tip of the Day: want a good overview of writing a young adult mystery, read this eHow article.

As with most novels, characters are extremely important to a mystery book. And some might argue even more so than with other novels. Sure mysteries are generally driven by plot and the "who-done-it" factor not character, but most mysteries tend to be series. And with series, the character is king!

So a quirky character can do a lot for your mystery book. Do they have an interesting talent you could highlight? Something they dislike more than anything?

Things I like to know about my main character before starting:
  • Name, age, physical appearance and other general attributes
  • His or her interests, status, ambitions, etc.
  • Talents and skills
  • Personality
  • Tastes and preferences
  • Reason for getting mixed up in the mystery
  • Background and purpose throughout the story
  • Any subplots they might be involved in
  • How will the reader be able to relate to them
It's also important to know information about any victims:
  • Name
  • Why/how this person became a victim
  • Secrets
  • How can the reader relate to the victim (the reader needs to want the sleuth to solve this case and care about the victim)
And any suspects:
  • Suspects name
  • Relation to victim and relation to sleuth (if any)
  • Apparent motive
  • Secrets and lies
  • If they did the crime or not
  • How you are going to clear them if they didn't commit the crime
  • And how you are going to catch them if they did commit the crime
And of course any supporting characters:
  • Name
  • Relationship to the main character
  • Role in the story
--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, April 5, 2010

In the Words of Principal Skinner, "Gonna, Shunna, Wunna."

Tip of the Day: You can win gorgeous swag from Korea in YA/MG writer Christina Farley's Shopping in Korea contest! Deadline is April 10, Korean time.

I talk to myself a lot when I write, especially when I write dialogue. It mostly helps me avoid the trap of using dialogue to move the plot along, like this:

"Come with me, Matilda, and don't ask any questions, even though I know this is very sudden and I haven't given you any reason to drop the important thing you're doing."
"Oh, okay."

Fortunately (or unfortunately) my main characters tend to resist that sort of thing.
"Come with me, Matilda, right away."
"Ohh, do I have to? I'm in the middle of cooking dinner."
*Sigh* "Are you really going to make me summarize the plot up until now just to get you into your front yard?"

The pitfall of talking dialogue out loud is that I'm a lazy, slang loving talker. I grew up in the suburbs of New York City, I lived for almost a decade in Virginia, and now I live near the Great Lakes. I have no problem dropping a sentence like, "Y'all guys gonna want some pop?"

The problem with writing sentences like that is, unlike speaking them, the words that stand out the most are the ones written with unusual syntax. Y'all and gonna seem like the most important words in that sentence when written down, or at least the most noticeable.

When critiquing and reading, I see people use gonna, wanna, and 'cause as shorthand for "typical kid." But I think of them as typical Brooklyn/Queens blue-collar words. Which do you imagine Archie Bunker saying?
1. I am going to get to that.
2. I'm gonna get to that there.

If he were from Upstate New York, he'd add the introductory yeah: "Yeah, I'm gonna get to that." And if he were from Virginia, the verb would be complex: "I'll be getting to that."

So what happens for my novel set in blue-collar Long Island? Every character can't say "gonna" all the time just because they would in real life. It would irritate the reader. Plus people from different regions would wonder why the adults say "gonna." (Well, where do they think kids pick it up from, English class?) If I pick one character and make it his or her distinctive characteristic, what's the criteria? Intelligence? That would be condescending. Time lived in Brooklyn? Then the adults would say gonna and not the kids.

So now when I'm tempted to use "gonna" just because I say it, I remember the immortal words of Principal Skinner:
Bart: "I was gonna!"
Principal Skinner: "Gonna, shunna, wonna."
... and try to use variations like gonna as sparingly as possible.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, April 2, 2010

My TV debut

Tip of the Day: If you celebrate Easter, hope yours is a happy one!

So, do you remember how I talked about the radio interview, and keeping the dog happy while I talked on the phone, and all of that? And how almost immediately after that radio interview, I got an e-mail asking me to do a brief TV interview for Better Portland?

That interview was this week. We met at a local cupcake shop, and she asked me some questions which I tried very hard to answer without a) sounding like an idiot and b) sounding like I might throw up any second. Here's a picture of me and the TV host.

I realize TV exposure, even a local show that doesn't get a huge viewing, is a great thing. But as I told Brooke Carlson, the host who interviewed me, us authorly types generally don't like the spotlight much. We would rather be holed up in our offices with our characters, pouring our hearts on to the page.

But it's good, I suppose, to stretch ourselves. And if I sounded a little scared, it's okay, I'm human after all. I like to think people relate to that humanness. At least that's what I'm telling myself now that the TV interview has aired. Would I change a couple of my answers if I could? Yes. But unlike writing, I only got one chance.

In the end, I did the best I could. Which is what so many of us do, day in and day out, with the writing or the promotional opportunities. It's not easy, I know! So today, I applaud all of you who stretch yourselves one way or another, try your hardest to do the best you can, and step out of your comfort zones when you really don't want to.

Good for you!!!

As for the interview, if you're curious, and brave, you can watch it RIGHT HERE.

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, April 1, 2010

To Google Alert of Not to Google Alert?

Tip of the Day: If you want to see what people are saying about you online, you can set up your own google alerts here.

Ok, everyone respond please-- do you have google alerts turned on for your name? Your book? I'm coming to that point in a writer's life where one must decide, do I turn this thing off or what?

Let me explain why. At first it was exciting and fun-- Oh look! :-) People are talking about me! They like me, they like me! Cue confetti! Now, I sorta cringe when the thing pops up in my inbox. Oh. People are talking about me. What new hell is this? Ok, it's not THAT bad. But the cringing does happen. Because while there has been lots of nice stuff said about my book there has been some not as nice stuff too. And aren't we programmed to automatically think the worst is the right stuff? So if 50 people say OMG, I love this we're still thinking oh yeah? Well so and so anonymous poster says I suck rocks and they must be right! SIGH. And then I think what if that screws with my writing because I'm thinking about what someone said? I'm sure it's just this type of thing that drove Heidi Montag to getting all that plastic surgery. Too many google alerts. I'm wondering if it's not worth bothering with at all. I mean, if something fantastic were to shoot up online from an official reviewer I'm sure someone would let me know. I don't really need to know every single thing said, do I? Although, I will admit that the google alert on My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours gives me a laugh most days. Not once has it sent me to a page that had anything to with my book. Instead I get links to all kinds of crazy problems people have with their boyfriends from he's cheating on me, I'm cheating on him, I'm going to trick him into marrying me, I fake you know whats, his mother is trying to kill me etc. So maybe I should keep that one.

What do you guys think? Weigh in!

Kristina, Miss See Me on the Shelves