Friday, October 29, 2010

No NaNoWriMo for me

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

Everyone is talking about NaNoWriMo - that is, National Novel Writing Month.

I've never done it, and honestly, I probably never will.

I suppose I can see that for people who need a push, it can be a great thing. I'm generally a pretty motivated person though. Once I get a few seeds of an idea that I think I can grow into a full-blown book, I'm working on it everyday. Some books I've written extremely fast, while others are much slower going. I always let the story decide.

The one I'm working on now is going much slower than the other ones I've written this year. It has quite a few threads, and lots of characters, and all of that means I need to spend as much time thinking about the book, away from the computer, as I do actually writing it.

That's what I don't particularly like about the idea of plowing through a draft in 30 days. There's no time to stop and think about whether you're going in the right direction or not. Nathan Bransford talked a little about it HERE.

I've finally gotten a routine down that works for me and my family. It's a balanced routine, allowing me time to exercise, time to make dinner for the family most nights, help with homework, etc. It's just not worth it to me to upset that balance for a month to try and hurry up to get a draft done. I'll get my draft done eventually. I hope by the end of the year. But we'll see.

Don't get me wrong - if you're committing to it, I'm routing for you! I just don't really want to be you. :)

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hot Topics: "B&N Divides Out Teen Fiction Genres"

Tip of the Day: This is the best Pumpkin Fudge EVER. Try it!

I've been watching too much of The View lately. My favorite part of the show is Hot Topics where they pull some current event from the news and all weigh in on it. Really, they should do the whole show in this format. I turn it off when they move on to Blahblah celebrity promoting her great new movie. But ANYWAY, here's what I want to talk about. If you have a minute go read this article about Barnes and Nobles dividing up the teen fiction section.

Ok, if you didn't go read, here's a snippet from the article:

"In a sign of just how popular teen fiction has become, Barnes & Noble is in the midst of rearranging its teen fiction section chain-wide this week in an effort to improve the shopping experience and boost sales. Already teen fiction is the biggest book growth category at Barnes & Noble, according to Mary Amicucci, v-p of children’s books. In terms of volume, it is the second largest subject, behind adult fiction.

After testing the concept at a Barnes & Noble store in Hackensack, N.J., three weeks ago, the chain pushed the go button to reorganize all its teen sections by separating out the two most popular genres—paranormal romance and fantasy and adventure—from teen fiction."

Hmph. Honestly? This bothers me. And it's hard to explain why because maybe I'm just overreacting or whatever. I mean, on one hand it's a good thing that teen books are getting so much attention, yay for them selling so well and being #2 to adult fiction. But the categories thing? Why does this make me feel like Unless you're Twilight or Twilight-esque you suck the big suck and we'll shelf you in the back of the store right before you hit the bathroom? If you're paranormal romance or fantasy yay, you'll get all of our love and attention. But the rest of you commercial fiction books, hit the road where we don't have to look at you. Sigh. It's kind of depressing right? It feels like more of the same stuff that already goes on in publishing. Where certain books are given huge amounts of marketing money and big push from the publisher and the rest kind of struggle to get any attention. Now even at the stores, someone who might have stumbled upon your book because, yes, it was near Twilight and caught their interest, might never see it now because it's placed in a less popular section.

Okay, weigh in on this hot topic. B&N divvying up the teen fiction genres-- good or bad?

Kristina, Miss See Me on the Shelves (but nowhere near Twilight)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Goals Again? (or The Girl Who Cried Goal!)

Tip of the Day: Read a zombie book, like those I have on display at my library, in honor of Halloween!

My regular blog readers probably roll their eyes now every time I post my "goal" for the month. Why? Because inevitably something comes up and said goal must be changed/modified/deleted. I have good intentions, I swear! But sometimes proirities much change.

That said, I have a new goal for the rest of October and all of November! And TOTAL confidence that they are worthy and doable! For real!

For the last few days of October, I will be finishing up PF revisions, then sending them to my fresh reader on Nov. 1. I really want to get this puppy sparkled up so we can sub it soon!

For November, the Helper Monkeys have decided not to do NaNo, but to each do our own November goal. Mine is to complete those SS revisions that I originally said I'd complete this month (the book I'm bringing to the SCBWI revision weekend in 2.5 weeks), and to get PF back to my agent, all pretty and polished up.

Is anyone out there doing NaNoWriMo this year?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Too Much Paper...

Activity of the Week: "write in your journal using a different medium (brush & ink, charcoal, old typewriter, crayons, markers."

I'm having lots of fun on my project to Spice Up My Writing. But this past week's activity was an especially fun one, because it allowed me to use some of those dreaded scrap papers.

Early on when I started writing, I'd print a lot more of my projects out to do editing. It just got to the point where it wasted so much paper. I started to feel like I was going to have to make hundreds of paper airplanes, mobiles, collages, or any other thing you could possibly make out of paper. I've cut back on the printing, but still have tons of paper that needs to be recycled lying around. Not to mention the dozens of books I have that need to be recycled.

So this week, I decide to make a pen holder using a page from an old book and a cheap pot from Michaels craft store. And I quite enjoy the result.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cheap Notebooks, I Love You

Tip of the Day: Halloween is this Sunday. This is the first year I haven't had time to make ghost lollipops, so someone do it for me, please.

So over the weekend, I went to one of those "wait while they change your oil" places. I love those places because I get some time to myself. I bring a notebook and a pen and plan my heart out.

I have a few projects going, so I wrote the name of each project (or at least it's working name) at the top of a page and started freewriting. One of the projects grabbed me so much, I had pages and pages filled up. Now I know what to concentrate on.

This is how I outline. Somehow all my outlines end up in handwritten chunks, like a synopsis gone wild in a blender. Then as I go back and plant things in earlier chapters, my outlines bristle with carets. One thing is for sure: nobody could read one of my outlines but me.

But as a sample, here's the handwritten outline for the chapter I'm writing:

more Mr. Freed--looking nauseous. CIA, David, can you believe it? next CIA John Smith, smiles a lot, nurses + parents chase them out, more Stephen, 1st impression from Paul
Jake comes in + turns off radio. S's neighbor. Volunteering for Superintendants Award. mention Duncan? ---> Who checks after Paul?

There, doesn't that make total sense? But I'd be totally lost without it, and somehow, almost every novel I write ends up coming from this cloud of handwritten words.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, October 22, 2010

He shrugged, she nodded, he laughed...

Tip of the day: Make pumpkin bread and then eat it. One of my favorite things about autumn is pumpkin bread!

I really, really, really hate having to think about what people are doing while they are having a conversation.

Does it really matter? I know, I know, it kind of does.

The more a reader can picture the characters in his/her head, having the conversation they're having, the more real it will seem.
But. BUT... I just want to write the dialogue!! I don't want to try and figure out what the characters are doing *while* they are saying the words.

And then, it seems like when I do try, I fall back on my old standards and I end up having nothing but bobbing heads throughout my book.

I think what's hard is that as you are telling the reader what the characters are saying, you (the writer) should know what each of the characters is feeling and THEN relay those feelings through body movements and non-verbal cues.

I can't even tell you how difficult this is for me. Is there something wrong with me?


Is there anything I can do to make this easier on myself? Should I just write the dialogue, letting it flow, then come back later and fill in the other stuff (what is that "other stuff" called anyway?)

Please tell me I'm not the only one who struggles with this. And please, if you LOVE writing the non-verbal stuff and have tips, I'm listening (and nodding. And smiling. And...)

 ~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What is "Edgy" Exactly?

Tip of the Day:Comment at my personal blog for a chance to win Denise Jaden's debut novel LOSING FAITH.

The term "edgy" gets tossed around a lot in our industry ("The book is really edgy." "I'm looking for something more edgy for my list.") And to me it always seems to mean that there is a certain amount of language and/or sex and/or a really rough topic that makes some people uncomfortable in the book.

I'm not edgy-- not my writing anyway. Ok, not me either. I'm like the anti-edgy. :-) I would certainly say my books are pretty clean and sweet. But then isn't edgy subjective to each reader? Would one person find my book edgy and another find it tame? When I was doing copy edits last week I noticed the phrase "I'd bang that" got flagged for language in my book. In the book I go on to have the main character yell at the person who said that phrase but still. Someone might think it was too much.

With my first book, The Espressologist, the first thing I did during edits was go through the the entire book, cleaning out every single swear word. I hadn't even really realized I had so many swears in the book to tell you the truth. But I took them all out except for one-- one that I thought really needed to be there. It was the B word if you're curious. Anyway, imagine my shock about six months after the book came out when I stumbled upon a review of the book where the reviewer said she enjoyed the book but be forewarned readers, it was full of swear words. Wh--? I KNEW there was only one. So I was slightly annoyed but I read on and noticed someone had commented what are you talking about-- there are no swears in the book. The reviewer said she felt "Oh My God" was a swear and that I used it frequently. Ah. I had no idea people would feel that was a swear. Ok, I still don't think it is one but whatever. Everyone has their own opinion.

So what is edgy to you? And what are the various degrees? Can something be a little edgy? Or super hard core edgy? What would that even mean? Whats the "edgiest" YA book you've ever read?

Kristina, Miss See Me On the Shelves

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Teen Read Week (or It's October 20th Already???)

Tip of the Day: See if your local library is doing anything special this week for Teen Read Week!

Last spring, the awesome YA librarian who founded the Rochester Teen Book Fest (omg we have Elizabeth Scott! Heather Brewer! Ally Carter! Melissa de la Cruz! Eric Luper! So many more coming in May!) had the brilliant brainstorm for the Monroe County YA Librarians to do something for Teen Read Week, like one of the "if everyone in [this area] read the same book" thingies except with a teen book. And author Terry Trueman volunteered to be our first guinea pig for the event, saying he'd come back to Rochester for the week to do library events. How freakin cool is that? (It's very cool and even more so when you've seen TT speak.)

So, in the midst of library summer reading craziness, we plotted and planned, scored a grant, and are hosting TT in a series of TRW events.

Now the tough thing about TRW is that it is in October when there are no school breaks, no holidays, nothing to alleviate the school/sports/etc. demands on teens. But does that stop the TRW and TT fever? Not for us librarians!

Despite the mediocre turnouts for the public library visits, in two days TT visited a bunch of schools, a detention center, a college, and has more coming this week. Phew! And really, a ton of people read STUCK IN NEUTRAL and CRUISE CONTROL for the events, which is what we were aiming for.

Overall, a total success. Thank you Terry and Stephanie and everyone who helped make this a great first annual Greater Rochester Teen Read for Teen Read Week!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Where are all the Sour Patch parents?"

Upcoming Activity of the Week: "Physically alter a page: (i.e. cut a hole, pour tea on it, burn it, fold it, etc.)." This one should be fun!

My assignment to Spice Up My Writing this past week was to record an overheard conversation. I really wanted to just make my character do this one, especially because I had a good place in my current story where I thought having my character record a conversation could lead to a key clue in the mystery. But since it's my first attempt at getting Spicy, I figured I should try the activity myself too.

In the comments of last week's post, BookChic suggested that I make sure to have a good cover, so if anyone approaches me I already have a good explanation as to what I was up to. So in addition to having a cover story, I also chose to have a disguise. The best disguise I could think of was to look so perfect and angelic that no one would suspect anything out of the ordinary.

So, when we were offered tickets to the Philharmonic Orchestra this week, I thought it was the perfect opportunity. Who would suspect someone was going to record their conversation at the orchestra? I put on my best outfit and smile in the attempt to look as much like an upstanding citizen as possible.

Luckily, my iPhone has the capability of recording memos. Not only did it save me from attempting to stuff an oversized tape recorder into an evening purse, but it also gave me the perfect opportunity to just pretend I was playing on my phone, instead of being covert and recording conversations.

So with my phone in hand, throughout the night at dinner and the show, I made a conscious effort to actively listen to people’s conversations. I didn’t know what type of conversation I would find worthy of recording, but I figured I’d realize it when I heard it. And this is what I discovered:

  1. I really should consider getting some Sonic Earz because trying to hear people from a distance is very hard. Even when they are only two seats away.
  2. If attempting yourself, make sure your companion knows. Because trying to maintain a conversation, while also listening to your neighbor's conversations is quite tricky. You start to feel as if you are juggling voices.
  3. Trying to find a good conversation to record was about as easy as trying to find a good pair of shoes when you have the money and the need. It always seems when you are on the hunt that it’s impossible to find anything good.
The closest thing of interest I overheard was someone at the table next to me at dinner say: “My son is probably going to go to Notre Dame, just to spite me…but as long as he ends up deciding to go to college I guess I don’t care.”

Even though it wasn't the most scandalous statement ever spoken, considering I missed the beginning, some of the middle, and the end of the conversation, this one comment still managed to raise a lot of questions: Why does this woman hate Notre Dame? Why does her son want to make her mad? Is it on purpose or accident? If her son is on the fence about attending college, do they really think a hard school to get into like Notre Dame is the best option?

And then my mind starting thinking of all the possibilities. Maybe her son's mad at her because he really wants to get a degree in art, but his mother is pushing for one of those "stable" degrees in engineering or business. And he's decided to get back at his mom by going to his dad's alma mater--not his mother's as she'd hoped--to study the art of religious buildings.

And I realized one of the greatest benefits of listening to people’s conversations. Not only can it help with dialogue, but it is one of the best tools of getting you to start questioning things. And as we all know, with questions come ideas. And with ideas come stories.

This weekend I was watching the Bo Burnham: Words, Words, Words special on Comedy Central. And not only can the guy create incredibly witty songs with his words, but he’s definitely an artist. So I wasn't surprised when during his act, he referenced the fact that a lot of people come up to him and tell him that he’s an artist. And then he gets asked how he can create art with words. He says the main thing that separates an artist from other people is that they constantly question things, like “where are all the Sour Patch parents?”

Not only is that hilarious, but I couldn’t agree with that more. To someone else listening to a conversation might just be that, but to a writer and an artist sometimes it’s more important to discover what you don’t hear or see.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, October 18, 2010

Do You Book Club?

Tip of the Day: Look who's recommending Kristina's MY FAKE BOYFRIEND IS BETTER THAN YOURS? Meg Cabot!

Lately, I've been wishing I could talk to someone about the books I've been reading. It's wonderful to figure out what makes a book work for me, but I want to know what makes a book work for other readers. I'm always surprised at how different my reactions to characters and plots are than other people's. Wouldn't it be fun to join a book club?

What am I, crazy? I have a million time commitments on my hands: a full-time job, kids, a major house construction, the holidays coming up, and oh yeah, WRITING.

Some local peeps invited me to join their book club about two years ago and I turned them down, tempted as I was, mostly because of the time issue. But also, I was afraid that they wouldn't be interested in my YA recommendations.

There is no denying, though, that I love few things more in life than talking about books with people. So what do you think? Is this worth finding time for, or is it something that will have to wait until I'm older and my kids are out of the house?

Or I could start my own book club that would work under my rules. Bwa-ha-ha. I tried to talk my middle schooler into letting Mom have a book club at her school, like the mother in Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and she rolled her eyes and began packing for Alaska. I would love to volunteer my time organizing a book club for teens, but apparently if I do it at my daughter's school, she will drop out of society and join the circus, and I have some sympathy for her point of view.

Kid in a higher grade than my daughter: "Oh, man, that crazy lady going off on sexism in Twilight is your MOM??"
My daughter in response: "Ha ha, no, my real family is way more normal than that. She's just, like, the neighborhood bag lady who pretends to be my Mom."

Okay, maybe I'd better stick to a book club with adults in it. Any suggestions?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, October 15, 2010

When characters don't fall from the sky, what do you do?

Tip of the day: If you happen to be in the Portland, Oregon area, I'm reading and signing my new picture book, LITTLE CHIMP'S BIG DAY, at the Beaverton-Tanasbourne Barnes and Noble on Saturday, 10/16 at 10:00 am!

My YA novel-in-progress has lots of characters. Sometimes characters come to me fully formed, but just as often, they don't. I have to work at them.

When I was writing IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES, which also has quite a few characters, I didn't have much trouble. Stan the barber wanted to tell knock-knock jokes. So I let him. Isabel's grandma loved hats. Okay then, hats are nice. Characteristics just sort of fell from the sky, and each time, I'd grab them, smile, and whisper thank you.

Well, it's not as easy with this book. Things aren't falling, dang it. So I'll sit there, wanting to write the page, but I'll be stuck because unless I can show who the character is, I can't move forward. And what I really want are characteristics that will add something to the story. You know, bring depth and meaning to the theme and all of that. Okay, at this point, I'm not sure I even know what the theme is, but still - I don't want just any characteristics, I want cool ones. Unique ones. Brilliant ones!

One of my favorite books this year is SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR by Matthew Quick. One of the characters is a Vietnam Vet who writes haiku poetry. And the poems become important to the story. Even more important is the relationship that forms between the old guy and the main character.

THAT'S the kind of thing I want. I mean - a quiet war veteran who writes haikus? BRILLIANT! And I don't think those type of brilliant characteristics just fall from the sky. I don't know, maybe they do, if you're open to them? I'm open to them, I swear (in case anyone up there is listening).

I love it when a character appears and he/she is perfect and there's not a lot of thinking that has to go on. But with this book, that's just not happening. So... any suggestions as to what I can do or resources I can turn to for cool characteristics?

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Copy Edits: The Method to My Madness

Tip of the Day: Wash your hands often. Yesterday Dr. Oz said people pick their nose five times an hour. Ew. Ew, ew, ew.

I'm going to let you in on my highly intriguing process of tackling copy edits. It's not a conscious process, I have to say, because I only just realized that I do this each time I get copy edits and this is my third book (Just Your Average Princess).

One month before copy edits are due: UPS man knocks on my door, makes me sign for package, I see where it's from, know it's my copy edits, and toss unopened package on the dining room table.

(I call this period of time the Acceptance period. Me accepting that yes, there is STILL more work to do on this book.)

Three weeks before copy edits are due: Glare at copy edits lying on dining room table, still untouched. Hold package and think about opening it. Probably should see what it entails. Rip open package, look at first page FULL of new notes, curse, and jam the whole thing back into the envelope and toss back on the dining room table.

(I call this my Why Oh Why?! period. The one where I thought I had reached acceptance but no, I can't believe there are still issues to fix so thus I whine. Mostly to myself, occasionally to husband.)

Two weeks before copy edits are due: Walk by dining room table, sigh heavily, think to self, I really need to start these copy edits. Take manuscript out again and start leafing through. Argue out loud with marks on the first twenty pages or so. Get frustrated and jam it back in the envelope and toss on the dining room table.

(I call this my Denial period. The one where I'm sure it's not me that's wrong.)

One week before copy edits are due: OH CRAP. Copy edits are due! Tell everyone to leave me alone and get to work!

(This is my What was I thinking Waiting Until the last Minute?! period)

That's where I'm at right now so that's it for my post today-- back to work!

Kristina, Miss See me on the Shelves

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Agent Revisions (or Talking Myself Off the Ledge)

Tip of the Day: Think whipping off fab YA novels is easy for established writers? Read this post by one of my faves, Sarah Dessen.

Last Wednesday, I got my agent's revision notes on PF. My first reaction was "OMG that's so much work -- I don't know if I'll ever be able to do it!" Fortunately, I kept this statement tucked deep inside by brain and read the email again. And something clicked:

1. Two of the major points she addressed had been mentioned by other readers while my agent was reading the ms (the too long opening, and the relationship between the MC and her boyfriend). So I'd actually been pondering these issues, and when my agent agreed with the others' assessments, I already had an idea of how I'd change them.

Phew! That only left about...100 more lines of the email to address! I read it again -- and something else clicked:

2. Two of the minor points she addressed tied into a third major point, which could all be revised through the same revision. The "told and not showed" anxiety of the MC, and the occassional lack of tension in the competition scenes, could both be fixed by adding a strong arc of the MC's anxiety levels throughout the novel -- which would also help address the major issue, the sometimes lacking "voice" of the MC.

3. And by shortening the novel's opening in (1) above and cutting out a related plot thread, that would also help up the tension by quickening the pace of the novel. Another bird with that same stone.

That only left some "easy fixes" like changing some character names and making some dialog more "teen." Sweet!

But honesty, after analyzing the actual issues that many of the comments pointed to, I realized a lot of them were the same problems just popping up in various forms. And thinking of this revision that way and tackling it as such is making me say, "I can totally do this!"

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Spice up your writing

Tip of the Day: for the next few weeks on Tuesdays the tip of the day will become the "Activity of the Week!"

It's pretty much a given that from time to time we get bored with life. Despite having just moved, starting a new job, and a complete change, I'm still a bit bored lately. Maybe it's because this will probably be the last city we move to in awhile and the dreaded thoughts of "settling down" keep entering my brain. horror.

Since life gets boring, it's no wonder that I'm a bit bored with writing lately. Sometimes it's just hard to get motivate to write, or find any enjoyment out of what you are writing. Especially when it starts to feel more like work than a hobby.

For that reason, I'm determined to spice up my life and writing lately, and I would love some fellow Spicers!

A few years ago, my husband and I found online one of those games that have tons of activities listed on them: from trying to paint to going out for ice cream. You are supposed to cut up the tiles, put them in a bowl, and when you are looking for something to do and have no ideas, just pick one out, and complete the task. We never really completed any of them and I've always wanted to.

So for the next few weeks. I'm going to post one task or activity as the Tip of the Day and give a recap of the activity on the blog the following week. Either me doing the activity or how I incorporated that activity into my writing by making one of my characters complete the activity.

So either way, I'm going to have fun or my character is. It's pretty much a win/win.

I'm going to try not to cheat and do the first thing I pull out of the bowl. Which should be good, because I have absolutely no idea what types of activities are listed.

If you want to play along, you are more than welcome. I'd love to see what everyone else is getting themselves or their characters into.

First Activity of the Week:


Omg...seriously? Is that felony worthy? Or at least a misdemeanor? Let's hope not....well...unless I want to get my characters into trouble :)

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, October 11, 2010

Don't Bother Me While I'm Exercising!

Tip of the Day: Before you reach for that vitamin water, check the sugar content--not for one serving, but for the whole bottle.

I get a lot of ideas while I exercise, as long as I'm not trying to do anything too coordinated. I used to like step class, but I was the lady stepping to the right while everyone else stepped left. That's because whether I'm walking around the block or I'm in the gym, mentally, I'm actually in Story World.

But people keep interrupting me to be friendly! Stupid friendly people.

Okay, I don't mean that. I like friendly people. But how do I politely say to someone, "I don't want to walk to work with you. I'm thinking of something really good. Can you walk a few steps ahead of me or something?"

I ran into a friend at the YMCA last week and I wanted to cry. No! Tuesday nights are my gym nights and I don't want to chat with anyone! I'm plotting!

When friends ask me if I want to join exercise classes with them, I make up sad excuses like I'm too out of shape to exercise in front of people. (The sad part being how close that is to the truth.) I was riding my bike over the summer which was awesome, but the kids always wanted to go out with me. I can't say no to a request like that. I like my kids.

So, what do you do to get people to leave you alone? Or do you just take a deep breath and realize it's better to smile and chat and put your story aside for the sake of politeness?

Actually I have the same problem when I get my hair done. As soon as I'm deep into a novel or internal plotting, my hair dresser lifts up the dryer and asks me how my kids are. I'm thinking of offering her extra tips to never ask me about my kids, but that would be, well, extremely eccentric, to put it kindly, wouldn't it?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, October 8, 2010

The game of writing and publishing

Tip of the Day: Want a chance to win a copy of IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES? There's a contest at Marcia Hoehne's blog where you can enter to win. 

So yesterday, Tina talked about whether or not it's harder than ever to publish in today's market. Author Cynthea Leitich Smith commented that she loves supporting debut authors, but she can barely fit them all in over the course of a year.

This is a good sign, yes?

When I went to the SCBWI conference in LA in August, the agents and editors all seemed to sound hopeful about the market. I certainly didn't walk away with a sense of gloom and doom or anything.

I think, however, that there are more people than ever writing for kids and teens. And I know there are books circulating out there that are great and incredibly well written and yet, they aren't being bought. So it got me thinking - how do you keep going when you know it is SO competitive? When your drawers are full of rejections and it feels like all hope is gone, how do you keep going? Or, should you just give up? Should you admit defeat eventually, and stop trying?

I think as long as you can still find some joy in the process, especially in the writing, you shouldn't stop trying. So much of this business is right place, right time. And you won't hit that right place, right time if you stop trying. And you certainly won't write the manuscript you were meant to write and sell if you stop writing.

With each story I begin, I have no idea if it will be good or not. I don't know if it will be something that sells. I don't know if it's going to be something that I'll even finish. But I love the process of making my way through a story with characters I've created, and seeing what happens. It's challenging for me, still, and I love a good challenge! That's why I keep doing this - because there is joy in the process of writing for me.

If at some point, however, the joy is gone and the process of querying and/or submitting is sucking all the life out of a person, and the writing isn't fun anymore, I think it's time to stop and think hard about the options. Because honestly, life is too short to be miserable. For most people, having a book published doesn't change their life *that* much. Is it a good experience? Some of the time, yes. Not always, though. Ask any author who has had a book published but had incredibly low sales how he/she feels. I bet you get a lot of mixed answers.

My kids loved playing chess when they were younger. They would play me or my husband again and again, even though they lost most of the time. They simply loved the game, whether they won or not. They weren't this way with most games. Most games, it was all about winning. But not chess.

I think writing is like that. If you love it, keep playing. If not, it's okay to move on to other things, like my kids have. Although just last week, my younger son asked his dad if he'd play chess with him.

And guess what? My son won!

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Breaking into Publishing and the Current Economy

Tip of the Day:Even if you aren't into ePublishing, you have to check out this blog post from J.A. Konrath. In it he shares how much money he's made on all of his different books and how many he sells of each a month. One of his books sold 10,000 copies in the first month. WOW. Check it out!

Lately I've been noticing a lot of people getting very frustrated with the publishing industry and trying to break into traditional publishing. Don't get me wrong, people have always been frustrated to a certain extent because it is very difficult to get published and you will be rejected (likely) many many times before you break in. But are things way worse now with the bad economy? Are publishers buying less than usual? It sure seems like the chain bookstores are stocking less. Even in the author universe I've been hearing authors say it's been difficult to sell more books. Second, third, even fourth books. You would think this stuff would get easier at some point right? I'm seeing lots of unagented writers post about how they've been rejected by over a hundred agents and are just ready to throw their hands up and say forget it. I've met loads of self-pub authors who are very anti-traditional publishing and practically spit with anger when they talk about it. So are things getting worse?

I jumped over to the Verla Kay board to get a feel (and if you haven't hung out here yet you must check it out! Always great industry stuff!). I checked the Good News section because back in the day when I was looking for an agent I would see loads of people announcing their new agents or new book deals here. And honestly, it does look kind of slim in respect to agent and book deal news. Hmm, I don't know. Tell me I'm wrong! Share your thoughts!

Kristina, Miss See Me on the Shelves

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October Action! (or I'll Be Working in the Lab, Late These Nights*)

*With apologies to Bobby "Boris" Pickett

Tip of the Day: If you like social media, check out THE SOCIAL NETWORK movie for an interesting view on Facebook's inception. I enjoyed it!

After about six solid weeks of hard work on PF, I slacked off for about four. Now I'm back in the saddle. It's time to announce some October goals!

1. Make agent revisions to PF.
2. Make CP tweaks to PF.
3. Send PF back to agent.
4. Complete acceptable revision of KSS to bring to the Falling Leaves workshop in November.

I can do it! We gain an hour this month, right?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Forever 29

Tip of the Day: candy parties are tons of fun! But try to plan your portions well, otherwise, you’ll be stuck with tons of candy that’s hard to resist the week after the party :)

Last week I had my big 30th birthday. I didn’t have any big life changing moments happen with the change of the decade, but for some reason it has made me very reflective over the last week. Apparently, turning 30 makes you want to evaluate your life: see where you’ve been and make a plan of where you are going.

I’ve heard that your 20s are mostly spent idealizing where you want to go with your life and your 30s are for being practical. If that’s the case then I guess my 30s should be spent realizing that my dream of being a published author isn’t very practical. Not only is it getting even harder to become a reality with publishers having stricter guidelines for the books they are purchasing, but it’s also not the most responsible or stable career choice.

But only being 30 for a week, I have to say that I never, ever want to be practical like that.

I always want to be a dreamer and live in a world where everything is possible. One where people can work hard and make the impossible a reality. Where no one gives up on their dreams just because it gets hard.

I know it’s not very practical, but I really don’t care. It’s not like I’m being irresponsible with pursuing this dream. I’m not homeless or being forced to write my manuscript on napkins...atleast yet. But I don’t ever want to get to the point that I give up on something, just because it’s the practical thing to do.

So for that reason, I guess I’ll always be Forever 29!

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mark Twain on Writing

Tip of the Day: I love Goodreads! If you enjoy it as much as I do, I'd love it if you friended me. I get your book ratings through email that way, and it helps me decide what to read next.

Yesterday, I read the middle grade biography of Mark Twain by Sid Fleischman, THE TROUBLE STARTS AT 8. I'm not a big biography reader myself, although I can see by the library and bookstore shelves that they are popular. I don't know why I don't read many biographies. I enjoy a well-written one and this was a very enjoyable read. I recommend it to writers who admire Mark Twain. If you don't admire him as a writer, this biography will change your mind!

Is Huckleberry Finn America's greatest YA novel of all time? I might vote yes.

Here are some of my favorite Mark Twain quotes about writing:

The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—'tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.

If you would have your work last forever, and by forever I mean fifty years, it must neither overtly preach nor overtly teach, but it mustcovertly preach and covertly teach.

From the preface to Huckleberry Finn:
Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.

You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.

The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it.

Surely the test of a novel's characters is that you feel a strong interest in them and their affairs—the good to be successful, the bad to suffer failure.

Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause & reflect.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, October 1, 2010

How do you spell F-U-N???

Tip of the day: Happy October 1st! It's time to nominate your favorite books for the Cybils award. Go here for more information.

I've worked really, really hard the past nine months.


I wrote three books, one YA and two MG.

I sold and revised two of them.

I gathered people to form The Contemps, got the blog set up, and helped coordinate everything as it relates to the group.

I traveled to Texas for the Texas Library Association, Rochester for the Teen Book Festival, and made various other appearances locally.

And other things I can't even think about right now because my brain feels so incredibly tired. 

I started writing a new book last week, but my heart isn't really in it. I keep thinking, I need a vacation. I want to get away and not think about writing or titles or books or sales, but just have fun. FUN! What is that? Do I even remember?

The kids are in school. My husband has his things he's doing.

Maybe I can't get away for a trip to Paris or Italy or the fifty other places I'd love to visit. But I can go to a movie. Do some shopping. Go to the art museum. Have lunch with a friend.

I've always told other writer friends that filling the well is just as important as the writing.

I think it's time I took some of my own advice.

What about you? When you need to get away from the computer, but can't take a trip and really get away, what kinds of things do you like to do?

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career