Wednesday, August 31, 2011
I did it! By the time you read this, I will have written at least 15-minutes-a-day for every day in August. Woo hoo! I owe the idea to the amazing writer Laurie Halse Anderson who made me see that it was pretty pathetic of me, someone who claims to be a writer, to not be able to hash out a mere 15 minutes per day.
No, those weren't Laurie's words, but her encouragement certainly made me look at how I spent my time a different way.
It also made me think about how when I am published, I'll have deadlines and I'll need to budget my time differently. I may even need to -- *gasp* -- write when I don't feel like writing! Sometimes people aren't "in the mood" to do their jobs, and if you are writing for money, it is your job.
Who knew? :)
I am heading for Europe next month (yay!), so I DO have a good excuse not to write every day -- BUT I am going to bring my journal and pen and scribble notes on the trains and any other time the urge sets in. I don't want to lose my momentum!
Oh -- and I did finish the draft of my WIP this month!
I encourage anyone who is a writer to write 15-minutes-per day, every day, for a month. You can do it! And you'll be so glad you did!
Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
If you read agent and editor blogs at all, one of the most popular things they talk about looking for in a novel is the "voice" of the author.
We've talked about it a few times here. About what makes voice specifically. No one can seem to define it, but everyone has an idea of what it is. Basically it's how the author tells the story uniquely...using a combination of lots of tools from description, dialogue, character development, and everything in between.
I'm assuming some really smart person out there gave it the term "voice" very carefully. Because not only does it relate to how the author tells the story, but also just like your actual voice, when you age it seems to mature.
As I'm editing some old projects, I've found my voice has changed a bit. It's a bit more serious, a bit darker, and a lot deeper. And never one to enjoy a high-pitched voice, I guess that's a good thing!
But it is interesting to reread old material to see how your voice has matured. It still sounds like you...but yet it doesn't.
--Emily, Miss Finding Her Voice All Over Again
Picture found here at http://www.smcubedconsulting.com/2011/02/finding-your-voice/
Monday, August 29, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
One of my awesome teen volunteers this summer wants to do a Mock Printz Club with some of her friends. She asked me what some of my top reads of 2011 were. I went to my handy LJ book log and easily picked out these as "Printz worthy" out of the 116 books I've read this year (not that all would qualify for the award):
BLOOD RED ROAD by Moira Young
When Saba's twin brother Lugh is stolen by bandits, she resolves to get him back and travels through the sandstorm ridden wastelands to find him. This dystopian future novel doesn't spend any time explaining what happened to the world to cause the new landscape; it delved into the characters and plot, the heart and meat of the story, and felt like it was missing nothing. Saba is a fabulous narrator who fans of Katniss (HUNGER GAMES) will enjoy. The voice takes a little getting used to at the beginning of the novel, but is strong and real and carries the book through. Great adventure YA. (M. K. McElderry, 2011)
*This book stood out to me because in a glut of dystopian, BRR didn't dwell on the "catastrophic event" that made the world what it was; it just went forward with strong characters, visuals, and story.
RIVAL by Sara Bennett Wealer
Brooke and Kathryn became friends as juniors, but jealousy and misunderstandings tore them apart and one year later, they will be competing for a prestigious singing prize that may move them from rivals to enemies. This book is so well done for many reasons. First, because of the great alternating first-person pov that shows how neither girl is stereotypically bad, wrong, or evil, but that misunderstandings happen; second, because of the accurate portrayal of girls who are so similar in desires, thoughts, actions, and skills that those same things that make them bffs are the things that make them in competition with each other; and third, because of the relatable description of the confusing feelings/jealousies related to both points above. I loved this contemporary, realistic, relatable YA. (HarperCollins, 2011)
*This book stood out because of its on-point, realistic portrayal of teen girls who have lots in common without any added drama for drama's sake.
OKAY FOR NOW by Gary Schmidt
Doug moves to "stupid" Marysville with his sad but beautiful mom, angry dad, and pain in the butt brother, but when he discovers John Audubon's bird pictures, a love for drawing, and a pretty girl, even his injured oldest brother's return from Vietnam might make everything okay for now. I loved loved loved this book even more than GS's TROUBLE and WEDNESDAY WARS which I also loved. The combination of Audubon's birds with what was going on in Doug's life, the relationships between Doug and his family members and neighbors, and the way Doug wanted to be better than his abusive father made me love his character and fear for him when things went wrong. Reading this just pulled at pieces of me. Amazing upper MG to YA. (HMH, 2011)
*This book stood out because of its heart, its truth, its worrisomeness that will resonate with many, its hope, the way it still gives me chills to think about the main character.
IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Suma
When she was 14-years-old, Chloe tried to swim across the resevoir that buried an old town when her older sister boasted she could do it, but instead she discovered a dead girl; two years later, Chloe's sister claims she has fixed everything and they can be together forever, but Chloe knows she's hiding something. I should've been revising my own novel but I couldn't put down this book or skip over any words. This atmospheric tale of magical realism was captivating, sweet, and sad, but most of all addicting. Great YA. (Dutton, 2011)
*This stood out because of its atmosphere and hinted mystery and lovely magical realism, all of which made me *need* to keep reading.
What books do you think are Printz worthy so far this year? What makes a book really stand out to you among all the YA novels to choose from?
Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
REVISION--the dreaded eight letter word.
Sometimes we welcome the thought of it; other times we want to poke our eyes out in the hopes we won't have to look at our book anymore.
Recently I've decided to revise some old books with the attempt to bring new life to them. And what I've found out is that when everyone tells you to let a novel "rest" they are 100 percent correct.
I thought I was doing this before: waiting two, three, or even four months before going back to a project. But there's nothing like waiting three, four, or even five years to give you perspective. Because if you are anything like me, you can hardly remember what you wore on Monday, let alone significant details from that many years ago. And reading your novel with completely fresh eyes gives you much needed objectivity.
After all this time, what am I finding:
- I really like boys that fight for no reason. Hhmmm...not sure what that says about me.
- I was quite fond of heavy dialogue and no description.
- My character's had some growth, but it was not really as much as they could have. And with four years more life experience and more growth as a writer, it's much easier to spot that out now. Kind of like when you are 18, you think you are completely grown up and know everything about the world, and then when you turn 28 you realize what an idiot you were. Yeah...like that.
- That I'm decent at writing, but just need to kick it up a notch.
So that's what I've been doing lately is trying to kick it up a notch. But first I'm still rereading everything and trying to figure out how to get across what I really meant. Which is the fun part. Everything up ahead will soon become the "wanting to poke my eyes out" part. Oh the joys of being a writer :)
--Emily, Miss Trying to Figure out How to Revise Again
* make sure to check out all the other comics at inkygirl.com. Too funny!
Monday, August 22, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Just Your Average Princess
Jamie Edwards has loved growing up on her family’s pumpkin patch in Average, IL, and she’s always dreamed of one day being the town’s Pumpkin Princess at the annual Pumpkin Festival. But when her rich and famous cousin, Milan Woods, comes to town and changes everything, Jamie knows she has to expose Milan for who she really is and teach her that life’s not all pumpkins and apple butter at the patch.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Today I had a feel-good moment. I went to a local family care center to celebrate the 400 books that 57 kids and teens had read this summer. They also all signed up for my library's Summer Reading Program.
The kids had beaten the goal set for them to read 375 books, so their principal had his head shaved in front of them at an assembly this afternoon. So much fun to see these kids and teens excited about reading, and proud of their accomplishments!
It is for reasons and events like this that I believe in the following:
1) Libraries where kids and teens from all different backgrounds and life events can find something to read that speaks to them. New York State's funding for public libraries has dropped down to 1993 levels. We cannot continue to offer avenues of hope and success to kids at places like this institution if funding continues to decrease.
2) Teachers, administrators, and aides who love working with kids from all types of backgrounds, and who introduce them to a lifelong love of books.
3) Realistic contemporary fiction for kids and teens, because sometimes when you are having a "life sucks" moment, you want to know that other people are having -- or have had -- that moment too, and have found a way through it. Without the help of magic or a vampire or pyschic powers.
I hope all three things in this list contine to be supported for the benefit of each other.
Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Coming from an advertising background I think I approach all my stories from the view point of how they will be pitched to the reader in the end. As such there are a few things I like to do before, during, and after I've written a book.
- A one sentence pitch is a must! Trying to sum up your entire book into one sentence is hard. Really hard. But it can be done, and knowing it upfront will help you stay on topic while you are writing the book.
- The synopsis can be your friend! I have to have a synopsis (or close to one). Everything can change, but it's nice to get a start of something written. It helps me narrow down my thoughts and get to the meat of the story and what to focus on, and expands the one sentence pitch to something more workable. Otherwise my mind wants the story to go every which way and it's much more work in the end to focus it.
- Cover images! Last week I mentioned I like to make cover art. Every good advertising piece has amazing art work. And when I design stuff the picture is what I find first. Every time. Then my concept is centered around it. It's amazing what a little picture can do to impact a story in your mind.
What would happen if you are an exterminator, a plumber, or even a teacher. Interesting how you might approach a book project then :)
Monday, August 15, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
Here's a creative contest with the chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card. Check out YA Fantasy Author Megg Jensen's contest for her newest book, Sleepers.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Kate's Monday post is exactly right. Laurie Halse Anderson is brilliant. And realistic. And motivating. Her Write 15-Minutes a Day in August Challenge is just too simple to pass up -- but the proof is in the writing. I've written pages and pages and pages of my YA wip this way! Often I'll get so into my new words that I write for longer than 15 minutes and I'm at the climax of my book this week!
The best parts of the challenge:
--a bunch of us CPs are doing it together, so we have group motivation
--by writing just 15-mins a day, my wip stays in my head every day and it is easier to get started during my writing sessions
--I use any 15-min block of time I have, and that means most of my writing this month has been done by pen in a small notebook of lined paper, which has changed my tendency to spend most of my writing time going back and editing already written pages
--writing longhand also means that when I copy it over to Word later, it'll be edited once already
--I could easily add another month to this challenge and feel I could succeed
I'm convinced: a draft of a kidlit novel can totally be written in a couple of months this way.
So what are you waiting for? Try this challenge -- there's no excuse NOT to come up with 15 minutes a day!
Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Being the type of kid who generally got in trouble for doodling in my text books without realizing it or in my notebooks while I should be paying attention in class, it's no wonder I've grown up to be a very visual adult. As such I love to involve pictures in many stages of my book writing process. From making a collage of images representing the book, to finding pictures that represent characters, and more.
But lately, I've taken it a bit further and started making book covers for my books. Before they are even written. Or to inspire ideas.
Not only is it fun, but it helps give me an idea of how it might be pitched and helps me focus the story around an image or a concept.
The cover can change (obviously, since you usually don't get control over the book cover), but it's still a nice exercise in focusing your novel to it's very core and the tone you want it to set. Because having to use one image to sum up an entire story makes you focus your thoughts and have a strong foundation.
And once you have your core, it's much easier to build on. Probably exactly like my husband keeps telling me that if your core muscles are stronger than it's much easier to do any exercise you want and helps everything in your body run smoother (you'd think that would help with wanting to strengthen the core, but alas, it hasn't).
Even making book covers for non-existent books helps generate ideas. Pictures are a huge inspiration to me. I could spend hours at istockphoto.com just searching for random images to spark a book idea.
If I like one, I might put a title on it in Photoshop (though Word would work just as fine) just to see if it fits as a book and as a novel I might want to write. Or if it helps focus an idea I'm working on. And then if I really like it, I might buy the photo to print so I can look at it often.
Just look at some of these images and feel all the ideas that could be sparked. And the fun book covers that could be created.
All images can be purchased on istockphoto.com for relatively cheap if you want to actually do anything with them, besides look at them on your computer.
Anyone like to make book covers for your books?
Monday, August 8, 2011
Friday, August 5, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Do you want to share any promo ideas you've tried that worked or were a bust?
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
A couple years ago, two fellow librarians at BML and I thought it would be a good idea to have library Twitter accounts to post about our programs.
Two years later, I still use the account (@bmlkidsteens), but have never heard of a patron who came to a program because they saw a tweet about it. In fact, most of the first people who followed my account were from Brighton, England (I'm in Brighton, NY). Now some authors, illustrators, and other publishing pros follow the account because I follow them, which is fun and makes BML seem like a hot library! :)
I do have fun tweeting about books I love, and those are the ones I get responses on.
So my question is: If you don't already have a "fan base" on Twitter, can you build one there? If so, I know it takes time (retweeting, replying to tweets, etc.), but how much time per week do you think needs to be invested? *I am thinking about this as an author.*
And finally, is there any situation that would make you follow a local library's Twitter account and actually come to advertised events? What would you like your local library to tweet about? *I am thinking about this as a librarian.*
Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing
Several authors I know are taking to self publishing eBooks lately, and I'm starting to think more about it. Most of the ones I know about have already published traditionally and have decided to self publish eBooks in between sales to give their fans something to read or because they are finding the type of books they write tough sales in this market.
So they've turned to eBooks.
And you know what?
Most of them are having much more success in eBooks than they imagined.
Which makes me excited so many people are being YA eBooks. Contemporary ones too.
At my library we are doing a push of eBooks right now, since we just switched our eBook provider. More and more people seem to be coming in with eReaders. Even people who have trouble using a computer are finding them fun and easy to use.
I know it's a ways off that everything in the book world goes electronic, but it seems to me that even in the last few months eBooks are taking off in a big way.
So what do you think...would you consider self publishing eBooks? Even if you'd never considered self publishing before?