Friday, December 21, 2012

Vacation Time and Reflections on 2012

Tip of the Day: I'm participating in a blog hop & giving away a ton of Amazon money and ebooks. Check out the giveaways here and here.

Wanted to let y'all know at the top of the post that Author2Author is going on vacation for the next couple of weeks. Plus, our format is changing a bit in 2013. Instead of hearing from us on a daily basis, we will be blogging only when we have interesting, informative, and fun things to pass on to our readers. You are guaranteed to hear from each of us at least once a month and please email us with and questions or topics you want covered.

Wow, so 2012 was kind of crazy year for me professionally. In January, out of the blue and a total surprise to me, my books kind of exploded. The amount of ebooks I sold in January was half the total of what I sold in the entirety of 2010. Talk about a bit of spike! Sales only continued to climb through April, then held steady until August 6th, when inexplicably, my sales on Amazon were cut in half. I never recovered that high of the first half of the year. In fact, just this past Tuesday, I had my lowest sales day on Amazon in a year.

This crazy rise in sales led to agent interest. Very few outside my inner circle know that I was contacted by some pretty big agents (who shall remain nameless), possibly interested in repping me. It was exciting and scary. But, just like my sales, those fizzled out. Even the one who was most interested in me ended up rejecting me with a form letter. Depressing!

So while you're reading this, you're probably thinking, Gee, Megg, your career was great and now it sucks. Guess you're going back to querying. If you thought that, you wouldn't be the only one. Friends keep asking me the same question. While I've tossed the idea around in my head, I really can't see any advantage to sending out queries now. Look at what I accomplished on my own - and I got to keep 70% of the income. I made more money this year self-publishing than I've ever made at any job in my life. Plus, I'm inching ever closer to that 50,000 sold mark. Not too shabby for a nobody self-pub.

I've got a new book in the works already for 2013. I'm not telling a lot about it now, but if you're interested, you can follow here to get updates.

Enjoy your holidays and see ya in 2013!

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Tip of the Day: Katie Klein is giving away a copy of The Paparazzi Project on her blog. Go here to enter!

The Paparazzi Project is out and available on Amazon for $3.99! Makes a great addition on those Kindle Fires you're getting from Santa. ;-)

And stop by my blog to enter to win a $25 Amazon gift certificate and a copy of all four of my books plus swag!

Even Santa gets followed by the Paparazzi. Merry Christmas!

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's the End of the Year As We Know It (or I Feel Busy But Fine*)

*with apologies to REM

Tip of the Day: Check out THE AGE OF MIRACLES by Karen Thompson Walker for a great adult book with teen appeal (I hope it makes the Alex Award list). The earth's rotation is slowing, making the days and nights longer...will it stop or be the end of life as we know it? (And will it happen to us on Dec. 21??? :))

Happy Holidays, A2A Readers!

Lately I've been swamped with a few things:

1. Christmas preparations, including making the house decent enough for my bro and his wife to stay with me and attending various holiday soirees (aka Festivus).

2. Revising the end of a MG novel I hope to query agents with by February.

3. Reading the Morris Award nominees, some adult novels that may be Alex Award contenders, and two books to review for VOYA.

4. Using up my vacation time at work, while still trying to pull together a teen art opening and reception tomorrow night.

My post today is lacking real concrete content due to said busy times, but I promise in January to recap my top five reads of 2012 out of 200 books read (yes, I will hit 200 by Jan. 1; am at 196 now).

Until then, enjoy the days getting longer and the New Year!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Monday, December 17, 2012

Peanuts for Christmas

Tip of the Day: Make out a wish list for your characters. And a wish list of what they'd like to get that significant other!

Since this is my last post before Christmas swallows me up, I wanted to post about something fun, but I couldn't figure out what. Then I got a text from my brother. "Did you send me a package?" Ha ha, I did. I sent him peanuts.

Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I was able to send him peanuts. The Internet is a wonderful thing.

Probably everyone has a stupid in-joke with a sibling. He used to get me a Chia pet every year. My Chia pets tended to run into accidents, but one did very well and I had it growing for months until I ran out of seeds. He's also bought me past life cards so I could figure out who I was in a past life. Hint: not a Viking, to my disappointment.

Also, we had a wise guy. He was a wise man in our nativity set whose head broke off. We used to carefully balance his head on his neck and ask people to reach for presents we tucked behind the wise man. When his head inevitably fell off, we'd cry that the set had been in the family for generations. I think that's how my husband met my brother.

I think some of us like writing humor so much because we remember and cherish these silly things. My father never let us miss The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. The dog cracked him up every year, and now the dog cracks me up every year. My daughter, on the other hand, has always been terrified of Frosty the Snowman. I'm sure her brother will send her Frosty figurines when he's my age.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, December 14, 2012

Secrets Galore!

Tip of the Day: Get your pets Bob Barker'd (for those of you who aren't familiar with The Price is Right - spay or neuter your pets). That's my baby schnauzer, Tanu. She just got spayed on Monday.

I feel like I'm filled with secrets these days. On Facebook I get invited to groups all the time. Probably 47 times a day, if I bothered to count. But within the last couple weeks, I've been invited to two groups, both secret, and I plan to actually stay in them and participate.

The first was started by two of my fellow writers. Peeps I know, but don't know well. Writers I already admired. We chat about publishing in general, but there's no spam. Refreshing.

The second group came about just a couple of days ago. Again, started by a writer-friend I like a lot and totally trust. She wants to find a way for us indies to band together and help each other out. It looks like it might be fun, if nothing else.

Did you know you can create secret boards on Pinterest? I did and I thought it was dumb. What's the point of a secret board? Then I started seeing these great fantasy pics in my Facebook feed and I took screen shots. I thought What will I do with all of these pics? Ding! Ding! Ding! Secret Pinterest board. Why secret? Well, they aren't credited to an artist. I want them for inspiration, but I don't want to get sued for posting something I don't own the rights to. Plus, I now have my inspiration with me at all times via my iPhone, iPad, or iMac. Woot!

It's pretty incredible that it's possible to have secrets online. It seems like everything is open to everyone. Luckily, that doesn't have to be the case.

I think back to nearly 20 years ago when I was just starting college in the fall of '93 and I was assigned an email address. I had no idea what it was - or how it would change my life and the lives of everyone around me. I think that's another reason I'm so into e-publishing. I was learning to program in html and creating websites before most people knew what they were (just for fun - my degree is in medieval history). All of this awesome techy stuff keeps me young. :D

Have a great weekend!!!!

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Exciting week! Contest Alerts!

Tip of the Day: 11 shopping days until Christmas! Get those online orders in!

It's been an exciting week! On my blog I talked about The Espressologist being purchased for film (yay!) and I'm running a contest for one more day. Check it out. Five winners will received a signed copy of The Espressologist and a $5 Starbucks gift card.

And I'm really excited about The Paparazzi Project coming out on Saturday! And another fun giveaway will launch then. Check back on my blog then and enter!

What are you guys excited about this week?

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Songful Reminder (or Driving Music of the 90s)

Tip of the Day: Check out Winter Escapes for free and cheap YA fantasy ebooks as well as other giveaways!

There are certain songs that will come on the radio that immediately take me back to middle or high school. Usually it's because these songs:

1. were in heavy rotation on 90.5 WBER when I first started driving and listened to the radio all the time in the car, or

2. were one-hit wonders on WBER in my early driving years so that is the only association I make with those songs, or

3. were in heavy rotation on 98PXY during middle school when that was the "safe" station for the school bus driver to play.

So, do you all remember:

A. "Wonderwall" by Oasis (my gym teacher would sing this, making a whiny vocal even worse)

B. Marilyn Manson's "Sweet Dreams" (I was a fan of the Eurythmics' original, and when this version debuted, my emo high school self couldn't get enough)

C. The Rentals' "Friends of P" (never a true fan, but always seemed to be playing in the mid-90s)

D. "Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts" by Less Than Jake (the beauty of the jump-around-dance-music -- ska! -- whatever happened to this band?)

And to end with a Christmas song...

E. OK, granted I was only five when this song came out (1984), but it still reminds me of middle school (the 98PXY effect) and would be stuck in my head all day when I got off the bus in the morning for the entire month of December: Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" You gotta love Bono's passion in this epic feel good tune.

(For more amusement, also check out "We're Sending Our Love Down the Well," a The Simpons classic, circa 1992 (skip to 1:00).)

What songs take you immediately back to driving around after school?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A season for writing

Tip of the Day: trying to get inspired this winter? Try some of these creative writing prompts from Litbridge.

Not sure if it's the cold weather and snow covered roads that force me inside during the winter or if it's just the perfect time of year for writing, but winter seems to be my prime writing season.

Even though winter is always busy with events, the holidays, etc., it still seems that I have more ideas for stories and get inspired to write more than any other time of the year. Maybe it's the NaNoWriMo tradition or maybe it's something else. Whatever it is, it's Writing Time for me.

What's your favorite time of the year to write?

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, December 10, 2012

YA Internet Meme Fun

Tip of the Day: Miss your pumpkin coffee treats? You can still get Starbucks VIA pumpkin spice packs at Target!

Today's post is for my 14-year-old daughter. What do 14-year-olds like? Internet memes of course! And talking about books. See, those worlds can mix.

Which one is your favorite?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, December 7, 2012

Creating Your Own Book Trailer

Tip of the Day: Need to get in the Christmas mood? This video from The Muppets always does it for me:

Today I'll be spending some time creating a book trailer for my Hell Bent Heaven Sent series (under my other pen name, Isobel Lucas). So I thought I'd give you guys a quick and dirty outline on making book trailers.

I actually start with the music. Why? Because the music you choose typically determines how long your trailer's going to be. My favorite place for royalty free music? Neosounds. It's amazing. I could spend all day long listening to music there. It's awesome. You can sort by length, genre, and even emotion. I love it there. I generally choose music approximately one minute in length.

Next, buy some stock photos that fit the themes of your book. I get mine from Dreamstime. This is usually where I find my cover models, so I buy additional pictures of those models, as well as generic shots that I want to use under text for the trailer.

Write your script. You want to include the pertinent parts of your book. Use your blurb, or your elevator pitch, and split it up over a few frames. Make sure you include a spot for your cover(s), as well as where to buy.

Then you just put everything together in a movie program. Okay, okay, I know that makes it sound easy. It was a big learning curve for me when I made my first trailer. It took days to make Anathema's, but like with anything, the more you do it, the faster and more efficient you become. It takes a bit of time to learn how to use the program, but trust me, if I can do it, so can you!!!!

I'm going to be using iMovie tomorrow, but for my other trailers I used the movie program that used to come with PCs through Microsoft. I don't own a PC anymore, so I can't look up the name, sorry. But if you have a PC, it should be there on your hard drive, pre-installed.

Book trailers aren't necessary, but they are a lot of fun! I haven't made one in over a year, but I really wanted to do one for the Isobel Lucas series, so I'm going to give a whirl.

Here are the trailers I made for Anathema, Oubliette, and The Initiate last year. Hope you like them! :D

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas-Themed YA!

Tip of the Day: 10 days until The Paparazzi Project comes out! So excited!

I've talked about my obsession with cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies over the years and if you're a fan too you'll have to agree this year is the BEST! For weeks now they've been playing the movies one after another continuously. My DVR is so dang full right now. Happy sigh. :-)

What about Christmas themed-YA though? I've been working on one for awhile and I love it. And hopefully one day people will get to read it. In the mean time, here's a list of some Christmas-themed YA:

by John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle

From Goodreads: "Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses."

by Hailey Abbott, Melissa de la Cruz, Aimee Friedman, Nina Malkin

From Goodreads: "Snuggle up beside the fire with this juicy collection of four different, but equally sizzling, winter romances.

Glittering white snowflakes. The handsome blond ski instructor. The sparkle on a cashmere skirt. Hot cocoa and kisses in front of a crackling fire. The holiday season is the ESSENCE of magic...and romance. Four of today's bestselling teen authors -- Melissa de la Cruz (THE AU PAIRS), Aimee Friedman (SOUTH BEACH), Hailey Abbott (SUMMER BOYS), and Nina Malkin (6X) -- bring us delectable tales of love and lust and holiday cheers (and tears) in this one-of-a-kind collection that teens will devour faster than a plate of Christmas cookies."

by Kate Brian

From Goodreads: "Two Exes. One holiday adventure. Merry Ex-Mas? 

Seventeen-year-old Lila Beckwith's parents just left for vacation, and Lila's all set to throw the holiday party of the season. But when her Christmas-obsessed little brother, Cooper, discovers that global warming is melting the North Pole, he and his best friend, Tyler, take off on a runaway mission to save Santa.
Lila has to get Cooper safely home before her parents get back on Christmas Eve. But the only person who can help her is Tyler's older brother, Beau — a.k.a. Lila's musician, anti-everything ex-boyfriend.

It'll take more than a Christmas miracle for Lila and Beau to overcome their differences and find their fugitive brothers. But could a journey destined for disaster help these polar opposites fall in love...all over again?"

by Kate Brian

From Goodreads: "Ariana Osgood has everything an Easton Academy girl could want: straight A's, the perfect boyfriend, and a coveted spot in exclusive Billings House. But on the first night of Christmas vacation, a blizzard traps her on campus with irresistible bad-boy Thomas Pearson. Alone. Instead of snuggling with her boyfriend next to a cozy fire in Vermont, she's huddling for warmth with Thomas in Ketlar House.
As the snow transforms Easton into a winter wonderland, Ariana finds herself falling for Thomas. But someone is watching their clandestine romance unfold, someone intent on turning their holiday weekend into a nightmare...

Last Christmas reveals the secret of what really happened before Private began -- and the shocking truth will change everything for fans of Kate Brian's bestselling series."

by Sabrina James

From Goodreads: "A tale of love, romance, confusion, and Christmas perfectly timed for the holiday season.

Noelle, a hopeless romantic, just knows that her gifts have to be from her senior crush! And geeky Froggy thinks the game is the perfect way to get super-popular Celia to fall for him...except she thinks his gifts are from Jake, the school's resident bad boy, and starts to crush on him! Romantic mishaps abound, but all is revealed the night of the Winter Dance, where there's more than one surprise waiting under the mistletoe!"

The Twelve Dates of Christmas
by Catherine Hapka

From Goodreads: "Lexi's feeling a little holidazed this winter....
Lexi's been going out with Cameron for way too long. Sure, he's a nice guy, but there's a spark missing between them. So she comes up with the perfect plan: get him to fall for another girl so she'll be free -- and guilt-free, too.

But when Lexi sees Cameron looking awfully cozy with Jaylene, her heart melts, especially when her budding psychologist best friend tells her that once a new couple has gone out a dozen times, their relationship is pretty much set. Cameron's twelfth date with Jaylene -- the Christmas Ball -- is coming up. Can Lexi find a way to rekindle her relationship with Cameron in the (saint) nick of time?

Happy Holiday Reading!

Kristina Springer

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

eReading v. Paper Reading (or We Are Living in a Digital World and I Am a Digital Girl*)

*With apologies to Madonna

Tip of the Day: Check out these YA for NJ ebay auctions for more chances to get cool stuff for donating to NJ's Sandy relief efforts!

Last Christmas, my mother bought me a Nook Simple Touch.

I was excited to own an ereader because a) I wanted firsthand experience with the new technology that we'd be promoting at my library with our OverDrive ebook lending platform, and b) I wanted to easily read some ebook-only novels on a nice matte screen.

Skip ahead 11 months into ereader ownership. Do I prefer digital words to printed? Let's find out.

1. When flying (lighter packing)
2. When on the exercise bike/elliptical machine (easier to hold onto with sweaty hands/less finger strain)
3. When a good sounding book is only epubbed
4. When reading in bed (easier to read with less moving (yes, I'm lazy right before sleepy time))
5. When I want to read something very fast (it's easy for me to skim with one-touch page turning)
6. When I want a book immediately (wifi connection!)

1. When flying (can still read during "no electronic devices may be turned on" period)
2. When at the library/bookstore (can easily/quickly flip through, read random pages, see if the book is for me)
3. When the cover is gorgeous and I want to look at it again and again
4. When the formatting of the ebook is messy/hard to read (has happened with self- and trad-pubbed books)
5. When reading picture books (I like the images big and bold)
6. After I've been staring at a computer screen all day at work (need a break from screen time)
7. When doing book talks to teens (they can see the whole package of what they're getting -- length, tone from book design, etc.)

From these lists I can easily say that both types of books have a place in my life, and I don't want to see either go away any time soon.

What do you prefer about each type of book/reading experience?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Real vs. Fake Settings

Tip of the Day: since I've talked a lot about procrastination on this blog, thought I would point out this post by Laura Murray on additional ways to combat it. She has some excellent ideas (though--not sure if I'm ready to commit to implementing them just yet).

This weekend, I got to take a very brief trip to visit my sister and some other family members on the east coast. Prior to the visit, my mother had happened to read an article that Nora Roberts lived in a nearby town, and the town itself was featured heavily in one of her latest trilogies: Inn Boonsboro (which incidentally Roberts herself owns the actual inn and refurbished it after a fire).

Anyway, we decided to take a bit of a field trip to visit the town and check out some of the places featured in the books. I hadn't read any, so I just went along for the ride. But while in town, I stopped at the bookstore owned by her husband and picked up one of her books to give it a try.

And I have to say, I probably never would have bought the book had I not been there, but now I'm completely intrigued with the idea of reading about the local pizza place that we lunched at that's featured in the book or learning more about the inn itself.

In my own books, I tend to stick with fake settings. Primarily because it usually doesn't work out to use real locations for the purposes of the novel. Or I can't research locations well enough that geographically work were the novel is set.

However, I'm completely re-changing my thought process on this. It was so much fun to visit a real place featured in a book and it sort of added to the entire experience. Plus, if you use real settings and businesses (especially in a small town) you have an instant revenue source, built in businesses that will sell your book, and everyone in town will want to read the book.

As for Nora Roberts, she's clearly a genius  Not only to write about her town, but to include several of the place she owns in her books, which create instant tourism buzz. Nothing like cross promoting!

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, December 3, 2012

For the Super Busy!

Tip of the Day: Kefir whole milk yogurt drinks are great for kids on antibiotics.

I. Am. So. Freaking. Busy.

Hours and hours of freelance writing committed to. A couple of books I'm editing are due to the publishers. A request and resubmit from a fantastic agent. Christmas shopping. Christmas decorating. Kid with strep throat. Mother-in-law wants to be driven places. Husband working all weekend. Mom angry at me for not calling. Teen girl also wants to be driven places. Christmas cards (ha!). Christmas outfits. Holiday piano recitals. Car repairs. Doctor's appointments. Dog. House. Cat. Laundry. Cooking ... I can't take it any more!!

So when life keeps you running the treadmill (except not actually exercising, who has time for that?) how are you supposed to feel like a writer?

Because the thing with writing is it never ends. Story ideas. Promotion ideas. Social networking. Revisions. Critiques. Always, always behind, even in the best of times. But now? Can't even type complete sentences.

But every Christmas, I re-read Dickens's A Christmas Carol. I watch It's a Wonderful Life. I try to go to bed early (not nursing a cold, I can't afford a cold) and read. And while I'm driving around, my mind is wandering, too. I'm that lady wandering aimlessly around Macy's trying to remember why I'm there, but getting some character's backstory straight.

Somehow Christmas dinner will make it to the table. Right?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, November 30, 2012

Write Like No One is Reading

Tip of the Day: If you're a self-publisher, you might not want to set up release dates until you book is actually done. It'll save you some stress. Trust me.

My newest series (under my other pen name, Isobel Lucas) isn't doing so well. I have deadlines to pub a new installment every two weeks, and now that I see sales are practically non-existent, it was hard for me to convince myself to keep writing.

Yes, I love writing for the sake of writing, but I also have this pesky left brain that tells me to manage my time in a way that will encourage a steady income. Spending time writing books for a series that isn't selling is not a good use of my time/income ratio.

There's also the other side of me (how many freaking sides do I have?) that won't give up. I'm like a puppy chasing after a big dog. I. Will. Not. Stop. Not until I've accomplished my goal. Since I promised readers a new short every two weeks, I have to give it to them - even if there's only a few out there that are interested.

So I sat down with my iPad. I stared at it for a while. I played on Facebook. Started some new Song Pop challenges. You know, productive writing things. Then I sighed and wrote some really bad words. Really, really bad ones. Words I knew wouldn't make it past editing.

Then I turned off my iPad.

When we are unpublished, writing is a joy. We have only dreams for our babies. After publication, our babies are clothed in stress and deadlines and bad reviews and rejection and poor sales. Writing loses the joy because in the back of your mind, there's always that nagging voice, "People will hate this. People won't buy this. People won't read this. Why waste your time? Write something more commercial. Stop following your muse."

I did the only thing I could. I ignored that voice in my head and I sat down to write whatever the hell I wanted. I didn't worry about everyone else, and instead I wrote for ME. And guess what? I love what I wrote. I really do. I kind of giggle when I read it because it's soooo me.

I just uploaded that ebook last night. I have no clue what people will think when they read it. Besides, there are three novelettes that come before that one. I know how sales work - the most sales are on the first book and there's always a decline after that. People drop out for whatever reason. I just hope the ones who stuck with it enjoy the ride, because Infliction is a lot of fun. ;)

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Holiday Publishing Lull

Tip of the Day: Did you all catch the news about Simon & Schuster offering self-pub? What are your thoughts on it? Leave comments below. Here's one author who thinks it's an awful idea. 

The holidays are upon us and that means things in traditional publishing come to a screeching halt. If you're just now querying agents or your agent is pitching to editors you can expect not to hear from them until probably January. In fact, you may want to just hold off on subbing anything until then and be higher up in the inbox.

So what can you do in the mean time?

1) Research. If agent-hunting spend time building up a list of dream agents to submit too, noting what order you want to contact them in. Make sure you’re finding agents who rep the kind of work you write. You can find info about them on Another good way to spot agents is to read the acknowledgement section of books in the same vein as yours and see who the agent they thank is. If you’re looking for a publisher to contact directly look to see if there are any calls out for specific types of works. Entangled often puts out these types of calls.

2) Another thing you can do is continue to polish your work. Maybe you need a fresh set of eyes. Send your book to a new critique partner. Or get a professional opinion of your book. There are still some auctions open at the KidLitCares for Sandy Relief auction.

Also, YA author Michelle Zink recently posted on facebook that she’s open for new clients for her edit/critique service. “Are you planning to query agents or editors soon with your shiny manuscript? November/December is a perfect time to fine-tune your work (publishing all but shuts down until mid-January), and I just found out that I have an unexpected opening for edit and critique services at the beginning of December. I have a solid track record of helping authors gain representation and would love to help you ready your manuscript for representation and/or sale. Partials and fulls accepted! Inbox me for details.” Her contact info can be found on her Web site.

3) Or finally, just take a break and enjoy the holidays. A little time away from your book can be a big help. I often find fresh insights after I haven’t looked at one of my books for a while.

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Adult Children (or I Don't Want to Grow Up, I'm a Year 2000 Kid*)

*with apologies to Toys 'R' Us

Tip of the Day: See author Erin Dionne's blog post about How "Homeland" and "The Walking Dead" have made me a better writer. Great points and things to think about when developing characters and plot elements! I'll be looking at LOST when I write my thriller sequel.

FaceBook, Twitter, texting, emails, blogs...with the turn of the century came the turn of communications to one even more heavily based on technology, where face-to-face dealings aren't required for the exchange ideas.

Techno world is also, apparently, the prime place for whining. Why? Because whiners have an entire audience "following" them, people who will "listen" to their grief, people who will "pay attention to them" even if in real life they would never announce the same things they do online or through electronic means.

And these people are adults.

How is this related to writing for kids and teens?

Well, in some ways it's not; I just wanted a public forum to whine (ha ha!) about the whiners who clearly just want attention.

In other ways, it totally is related to kidlit. Just pull up your FaceBook account, skim through your Friends' posts, and stop at the ones that sound passive-aggressive, whoa-is-me, or inappropriate for a public forum (such as posts made during work hours that make derogatory comments about said workplace). Then borrow those for future manuscripts about teens who use technology.

Or hell, just keep the characters who act that way as adults. Contemporary realistic YA fiction is coming back, right? Let's just keep it real.

Whine away!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The final stretch of NaNoWriMo

Tip of the Day: if you've ever participated in NaNoWriMo or just like to hear people talk about it since it motivates you to write during the month of November, think about making a small donation to the cause. According to an email they sent to participants, they need some more donations to consider continuing the program next year and beyond.

My rush to type 50,000 words this month during NaNoWriMo has completely failed (no surprise to me). About half way through the month, I decided about 20,000 words would be more appropriate since I really only wanted to push myself to get writing and wasn't too concerned about actually finishing a book.

Now with only four days left to write in the month, I'm about 10,000 words away from my goal. This could actually be accomplished fairly easily if I sit down to work the next few nights instead of reading, watching TV, or going to Old Navy to use my 40 percent off coupon.

I'm a huge procrastinator and in school I never finished my homework until about 2 am on the day the assignment was due. I found there are two types of people in life: those that get stuff done as soon as they have time and then the rest of us that goof off, spend too much time browsing the Internet, and then finally get around to actually accomplishing our goals.

I'm quite content being in that second group, since getting stuff done in a timely manner sounds completely boring to me. If I did that, then I'd have no time for fun, since I'd constantly be working on projects. I've been told by some non-procrastinators that they still have time for fun, since they get all their work done in a timely manner and can relax during their "down" time. But I'm really not convinced of that, since I've never seen it work out in my own life. Until that time comes, I'm perfectly content to wait until the last minute to complete my goals.

To get my work done, I've already stocked up on Mountain Dew and gotten a bit of chocolate to make the writing process much easier.

If anyone else is close to meeting their writing goals this month, this post is just meant to encourage you to keep going. Because if you are like me and procrastinate until the last minute, there is still plenty of time to get words written in the next few days. Let me break it down for you--even if you needed to write the entire 50,000 words in four days and you want to take a break and sleep for 8 hours a night, you'd only need to write 13 words a minute (if my math is right--which is a huge IF). So see, it's very doable! You should easily be able to type faster than 13 words a minute.

Good luck for anyone else who is finishing NaNoWriMo!

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ho ho ho, Merry PitchMAS!

Tip of the Day: No matter how good you are, you're not a puppy. (Courtesy of F Minus by Tony Carrillo).

So I have really exciting news! In my capacity as an Associate Editor at Entangled Publishing,  I am going to be participating in a Christmas Pitchfest called PitchMAS! It's run by Jessa Russo and Tamara "Feaky Snucker." Eight editors and seven agents (including me) are waiting to read your pitches and request some great manuscripts. It all starts December 4th. So please spread the word!

Check out the #PitchMAS details HERE and find out how to pitch.

And read the editor and agent bios HERE so you really want to pitch!

And follow PitchMAS on Twitter at #PitchMAS. It will be loads of fun, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Holiday PitchFest 2012

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

We will be taking a break for the rest of the week, but we hope you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do?

Tip of the Day: I have a tumblr now, full of funny pictures. It's called YA from New New York.

I've gotten some feedback that the Bad Boy in my manuscript just isn't bad enough. He's too nice, not rough enough around the edges. So I spent some time thinking about my favorite bad boys and why I love them so.

1. Daryl Dixon/The Walking Dead
What's awesome about Daryl: Cool competency with a crossbow and sculpted arm muscles to match.
Weakness: Kids. He's got a soft spot for them.
What makes him a bad boy: Talk about rough. Daryl loses his temper, calls it like he sees them, resorts to violence and isolation as his fallback positions, and suffered from his alcoholic, neglectful parents.
How he sees himself: low self-esteem, a  loner, has trouble living up to his brother's expectations, thinks others see him as a no-account redneck.

Contrasted by: Big brother Merle, who raised Daryl. Merle has no redeeming characteristics but the same incredible competency at survival. Merle is BAD. He cut his own hand off, cauterized it, and replaced it with a bayonet. Merle's only saving grace is that he's on a search to find his little bro. But you know it will be showdown time when Merle and Daryl meet. Because there's only one person who can stop Merle from his sadism ... his brother. Dum dum dum! And so the fandom waits with eager anticipation for the Daryl/Merle meetup.
Daryl is the only one who can save: Glenn and Maggie, everybody's favorite characters, from Merle.

2. Sandor "The Hound" Clegane/Game of Thrones
What's awesome about Sandor: He's never a hypocrite and you can't intimidate him. Cool competency with a sword and sculpted arm muscles to match.
Weakness: Fire. Sansa Stark.
What makes him a bad boy: The first significant thing he does in the books is kill an innocent boy at his Prince's command. He's rude, he curses, he drinks, and his childhood makes Daryl's look like a picnic in the playground.
How he sees himself: Horribly scarred by a fire caused by his brother, he thinks other people see him as a scary freak only good for fighting, and he's internalized that.
Contrasted by: His older brother! Well, there's a pattern. But while Daryl has some good memories of Merle and was at least able to depend on him when they were kids, Gregor Clegane has always been an abusive ass. When Gregor came of age, their parents died in "mysterious circumstances." Gregor ruled the Clegane household with fear and fire, just as he now rampages the countryside. Only Sandor can match Gregor's strength; only the Hound can stop his brother. Cue inevitable showdown music please.
The Hound is the only one who can save: Oh, I can't give you spoilers on this one. But it will be characters we care about.

So what do I need in my book? An older brother? I don't have room for another character. But I need my bad boy to be outspoken (can work on more), have a contrast with someone less likeable (needed), be the only one to save  my main character (check), be competent at fighting (check), have self-esteem issues (hmmm), and be disliked by my other characters (hmmm some more).

Anything else to add to the Bad Boy checklist?

 -- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, November 16, 2012

Where Are You, Really?

Tip of the Day: I'm trying to learn how to cook, so instead of wasting money on cookbooks, I'm trolling Good Morning America's website. They have tons of great recipes - for FREE - from famous chefs.

I like to have a plan. I'm willing to change my plans, but I need to have one in place before I make a move. Lately I've been doing a lot of questioning about the publishing industry.

Do I want to keep self-pubbing? Do I want to submit to agents and editors? Where do I want to be in a year?

I don't have solid answers to any of these questions. For me, both paths have so many pitfalls and traps that I almost want to stop writing. But I can't. Because if I stop writing, my brains will explode. Or I'll drive my husband and kids nuts because I would simply go insane.

I continue to write, to dream, to invent with words. What should I do with those words? I can self-pub next year, but the waters are now filled to capacity. The pool is overflowing. It's almost impossible to get noticed anymore because every person with a word processor is screaming, "LOOK AT ME!" I've spent most of my life hiding, using Jedi mind tricks to get them to NOT notice me. It goes against every bit of my being to put myself out there.

I could go traditional, but then I'm selling my rights for peanuts, unless I'm one of those lucky breakout authors. I'd be better off playing Powerball. Chances are I'd end up with a small deal, relegated to the midlist, be forced to promote my own how is that any different than self-pub other than the honor of having that little label on the spine of my book? (Don't talk to me about editing and development - that can be bought from reputable freelancers. Some of the big NY editors are doing this on the side. Some of them not-so-secretly.)

It's always been common wisdom that every person has a story to tell. It's an integral part of the human condition. We want to be recognized and remembered. We want to be heard. Now, with digital publishing every single person with access to the internet can be published.

So where am I? On a road with a million others. We're like a horde of zombies, pressing down the freeway, looking for our next meal. Instead of moaning "brains," our chant sounds more like, "readers." We're all looking for a person to connect with our work. To remind us we are valid and we're not wasting our time.

I keep saying I'm going to take a break from publishing as soon as I'm done with the current series. I'm going to try to hold myself to that. Come mid-December, I'll be free from deadlines and commitments for the first time in two years. I'm not sure where I'll emerge afterward in regards to publishing. All I really know for sure is that I will never quit writing.

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

Thursday, November 15, 2012

SCBWI-IL Prairie Writer's Day Conference

Tip of the Day: Check out this interesting article about self-publishing, and side note, Jackie Collins is self-pubbing some books now too-- interesting!

I went to my very first ever writer's conference this past weekend-- SCBWI-IL Prairie Writer's Day. And it was pretty fun. The highlights were getting to hang out with writer friends and listening to interesting editors talk industry. And it was really cute in the opening when we all wore finger lights and they played the Chicago Bulls opening song as the editors and agent walked in.

The editors that came were Dianne Hess (Scholastic Press), Beverly Horowitz (Delacorte), Meredith Mundy (Sterling), Elizabeth Parisi (Scholastic Trade), Lisa Yoskowitz (Disney-Hyperion), and Marietta Zacker (Nancy Gallt Literary).

My very honest thoughts are that it was an amazing conference, well-put together and packed with information, but...I wish I would have gone to it like 8 years ago. The information was mostly geared toward new writers-- how to get an agent, how to write a query letter, how to perfect your first page and so on. And when I looked around the room I saw many people that have been in SCBWI for years and years so I'd think a lot of this information wasn't new to them either. I know the basic writer 101 stuff is needed at conferences but I wish they'd include sessions for published writers too. Like, how to effectively promote my book, how to throw an awesome book launch, maneuvering social media and what authors today need to do, how to make your book stand out from the rest, negotiating future book sales, getting foreign and film rights, how to break out of the mid-list and I could go on and on. I'd also love to see sessions on epublishing and all that goes with that: finding a cover designer, where to upload, formatting mistakes to avoid, how to promote your ebook, managing your hybrid author career ("hybrid author" is a term I just learned from the link in the tip of the day. It's for the many traditional authors who are publishing both with their publishers as well as self-publishing.).

So yeah. I'm happy I went, I had fun chatting and I always love to meet editors and hear their thoughts on the current industry. But if I go to another conference I'm going to try to find one that covers a broader range of writers.

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Guys Talkin' to Guys (or This is What Makes Us Boys*)

*with apologies to Lana Del Rey

Tip of the Day: Have you seen the amazing items up for auction on Kidlit Cares, started by author Kate Messner to benefit the Red Cross and Sandy victims? (Now author Joanne Levy is helping out, too.) GO KIDLITTERS!

My favorite session that I attended at the YALSA Symposium earlier this month was "Guys Talkin' to Guys" where four teens from different high schools in St. Louis answered questions on a panel with five male YA authors.

What made this 90-minutes so great? Real live teen guys talking to librarians and authors about reading and books! It's not something that I get easily in my day job and I really enjoyed hearing what they had to say. Some of it was funny, surprising, smart, real, and/or inspiring.

Take aways:

1. Teen guys do read, but often if is in the forms of magazines, instruction manuals, sports articles, short bites of information on subjects they are already interested in.

2. Cover art and titles make a huge difference on if a guy will feel comfortable carrying around/reading a book. They don't want to be perceived as "weak" by their peers, so a book needs to look "tough." (One panelist was convinced THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER was about a girl based on the title, so he resisted reading it despite recommendations and was surprised when he finally read it.)

3. It is more acceptable to be seen going to a "girl" movie than reading a "girl" book. (Often going to the movie involves going WITH a girl, which doesn't happen with a book.)

4. Books with girl main characters are fine to read as long as the cover and title don't seem girly (THE HUNGER GAMES was cited as the perfect example of this).

5. Books have a lot to compete with, and since guys spend a lot of time online, playing video games, watching movies, playing sports, using smartphones, etc., ads for books need to be just as convincing as those for other forms of entertainment -- and as easy to come across.

6. Guys would read more, and be more comfortable seen reading a variety of books, if they were "forced" to read in groups, like as a class in school for 20-minutes a day for example. Group reading wouldn't make anyone stand out for doing it instead of something else.

What have you learned from teen guys lately?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Moment I Was Inspired by Justin Bieber

Tip of the Day: Angry Birds Star Wars is out!!!!!! Treat yourself to a day of nothing but blowing up pigs. :D

A lot of people ask me about self-publishing. I think I've become some sort of unofficial poster girl, which is funny because while I love self-pub, I honestly don't think it's right for every writer or every book.

When I say that, people shoot me funny looks, then say, "But you're so successful!"

Well my dear readers, I finally have the right comeback to that. It's brilliant. It's fresh. And I stole it from a Justin Bieber and Big Sean song, "As Long as You Love Me."

When Big Sean (who, until just a couple minutes ago, I thought was Little Wayne rapping) breaks it down, he says:

"But the grass ain't always greener on the other side,
It's green where you water it"

Wow, how profound and true is that?! Self-publishing works for me, but only because I water the grass every freaking day (not my real grass - my lawn is awful). If I was trad pubbing, I'd be watering that grass too - but maybe not as much. Since I get to stick my fingers in every aspect of the publishing process, I can make sure it's fertilized, dethatched, aerated, and watered.

Okay, enough of the grass references. lol. Point it, is you're going to choose a path, you have to make sure it's the right one for you. Screw everyone else's opinions. Doesn't mean you shouldn't solicit advice from everyone you know, but you need to process it with your own heart. Frame it in your dreams. Once you make your choice, give it all you've got. Water the hell out of it.

And the next time someone asks me why self-pub instead of trad? Imma quote Big Sean and JB....but maybe I'll pretend the Dalai Lama said it. ;)

Enjoy your weekend!!!!!

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Worst Christmas Present Ever

Tip of the Day: The cheesy Hallmark channel Christmas movies are back! And every Saturday night 7c/8e there is a brand new holiday movie!

I'm totally in the Christmas mood already. Usually I hold off until after Thanksgiving but I've already switched to the Christmas Starbucks drinks, I'm watching all the holiday movies, and my Christmas shopping is well under way. And I was thinking about my worst Christmas present ever, which I blogged about on here four years ago. It's flashback time:

It was my first Christmas with my first REAL boyfriend. We had been together most of the year and were quite in the giggly, touchy feely, calling each other nauseating pet names stage of the relationship. I had big expectations for this first perfect Christmas and the perfect Christmas gift that was sure to come from he, my Prince Charming. I imagined all kinds of things-- would it be a book of love poems that he inscribed with some amazing note that I would look at every Christmas for the rest of my life?

Would it be some amazing piece of jewelry, like a necklace with our birthstones or a locket with our pictures side-by-side?
Whatever it was, I knew it would be momentous and it would be something I'd take out to show my own kids and grandkids someday.

Or not.

Though I still remember it like it was yesterday. We were sitting on our knees, facing each other, in front of the lit Christmas tree in my livingroom. I had just given him an AMAZING gift (no, I don't remember what it was, but certainly it was AMAZING). And he had just handed me mine. It was in what looked like a clothes box, but I knew it wouldn't be clothes. Not on our perfect first Christmas. Clothes is an old person's Christmas gift. Maybe it was a stunning photo collage of our relationship? I nervoulsy lifted the flaps of wrapping paper, stealing glances at him. He was very excited and proud of whatever lay in the box. Finally it was open. I parted the layers of white tissue paper and froze. Him, giant smile, so pleased with himself. Me, afraid to lift the item out of the box and a hundred thoughts flying through my head of how I was going to make this ok and what I would tell people when they were sure to ask about my first glorious Christmas gift from my boyfriend.

Want to know what it was?

It was a navy blue sweatshirt with a white turtleneck sewn into the collar. And on the front of the sweatshirt were two big embroidered teddy bears hugging.

I didn't know what to do. I was a teenager, afterall, not eighty and in a nursing home. I couldn't figure out why he thought I'd wear a turtleneck sweatshirt with teddy bears. "Did you read it?" he asked. Oh god, there's more? I thought. I looked at the shirt and sure enough, over the teddy bears it said "I love you BEARY much." Of course it said that. It couldn't just stop at the teddy bears right? I let out some weird kinda giggle and tried to hide my dissapointment. "I, oh, uh, love it" I said. I never was an actress. "I knew you would," he said. "Wear it to my New Year's Eve party ok?" I almost fell backward. What's this? Some kind of joke? He actually wants me to wear this? In public? I tried to make like I had another outfit already but he was so darn proud of his bears in love shirt and insisted that I wear it.

I did wear it. But only that one time. I remember slipping it over my head and feeling like the turtleneck was choking me. I remember walking down the long hallway from my bedroom to the front door of my house, past my three brothers who were all rolling around on the floor laughing and pointing at me and my sweatshirt. And I remember my boyfriend's big smile and him telling me how good I looked when I walked into his house that night.

That, of course, was the last of the sweatshirt. I got rid of it soon after. It never did become that item I'd show my kids and grandkids. And I never told anyone else this story. Until now.

What was your worst Christmas present?

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sympositastic! (of YALSA Does It Again)

Tip of the Day: If you are a YA author and have the chance to go to a YALSA Symposium, go! EVERYONE there will LOVE YOU! We'll be in Austin in 2014!

Wow. Thank you SO MUCH to YALSA for putting together the 3rd YALSA Symposium in St. Louis this past weekend. On Friday and Saturday, I attended sessions and activities from 8:30 til 7 PM, and on Sunday from 8:30 til my transport to the airport at 1:30. And it was all amazing!

First, proof that I was actually there:
Due to my issues with being CLOSED INTO TINY RICKETY ELEVATORS, I chose to glimpse it from the park below. More power to those who braved the climb and saw the Mississippi River from the top!

I have tons of notes of cool tips for authors (hence author2author) that I will dole out over the next couple of weeks, but today I want to highlight some cool moments.

1. Having dinner/drinks with authors Selene Castrovilla and Jo Knowles.

Selene and I have met a few times now at YALSA and TBF and she is a spunky woman with great edgy YAs, historical non-fiction for kids, and some adult novels in her too. It's always fun to catch up with her, and I wish her the best as her homestead recovers from Sandy!

Jo I've followed on LiveJournal for years and she is very sweet and very talented and writes the type of novels I loved as a teen and still do now.

I also attended the lunch where these two authors spoke:
Patricia McCormick

David Levithan

They both spoke about the human experience in some way, noting that any book can connect with any person -- even if they are a different color/sex/religion/etc. of the main character -- because we all share the human experience.

The final keynote speaker on Sunday was Scott Westerfeld. The topic of his fun, educational, hilarious, and thoughtful presentation was on the history of the integration of illustrations in books for teens and adults and how he used that in LEVIATHAN.
His speech would appeal to teens as well. If you ever have the chance to see him present, you must go! Seriously, I laughed and listened and was truly entertained.

On the flight home from STL to ORD, I had the pleasure of sharing my row with Helen Frost! I'd seen her session earlier on Sunday, and am a huge fan of HIDDEN, as are the teens in my town.
We chatted about books and authors and politics and writing and the 1-hour flight flew by (pun intended). If you haven't had a chance to read her work, you must; it is brilliant. Poems within poems, meanings within meanings, that all form a cohesive novel. Her Printz Honor novel KEESHA'S HOUSE will release next year in paperback, as well as her new YA SALT; definitely keep your eyes out for them.

Thanks again to all the librarians, authors, publishers, and YA lovers who made this conference possible.

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Don't forget to VOTE

Tip of the Day: starting a new book just before bedtime is never a good idea!

Since this is a big day in our country, I don't think I could compete with it by saying anything other than "Don't forget to...."

And if you are feeling inspired, check out some of these fun "election" themed items.

1.) "Election" the movie. A classic...

2.) These cute "Vote" Shoes available at

3.) And you can wear these fun socks with your shoes! Available at

4.) Or how about a red, white, and blue stylus set for your tabloid or eReader! They are even on special today.

5.) And if you are tired of all the political ads, you can purchase this cute pillow to rest on now that the election is almost over!

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, November 5, 2012

Literary Costumes

Tip of the Day: I just booked my flight for the February New York SCBWI conference. Let me know if you're going!

So last week was a washout here, with schools closed and no internet service. I hope my friends and family on Long Island and New Jersey are recovering. I grew up on Eastern Long Island and my hometown had 92 mile an hour winds! I'm thankful my family is safe and sound.

Halloween was rainy because of the storm. Actually it hasn't stopped raining since. But I bought a costume so I wore it. I don't usually dress up at Halloween but I had an idea this year. My daughter was sure I would traumatize the preschoolers down the street as I handed out candy, but all they cared about was the candy. Still, here is my first literary costume. I am one of the permanent inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel from THE SHINING.

Can I just say nobody understood my costume? It didn't help that the weather kept me inside of course. My mother in law said I looked pretty. Noo, I'm supposed to look creepy! Well, I didn't really expect people to say, "Oh, you're from the 1920's party in THE SHINING, I love that novel."

Also, have you seen this movie coming out about THE SHINING? I'm dying to see it!

Have you ever dressed up like someone from a book for Halloween? There are three sisters on my street who all came to my door as Hermione. That was adorable. What's your dream literary Halloween costume?

Personally, I'm wearing this one again next year. Hope for better weather.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, November 2, 2012

Gift or Curse?

Tip of the Day: Um, uh.... Be kind to chickens. They come from broken homes. (That's one of my mom's favorite jokes. I suppose it also qualifies as a tip.) ;)

We self-pubs seem very focused on the raw numbers. How many ebooks we sell. How much we make per month.

It's almost an obsession. We have access to data our trad pub friends are dying to see. Or so they think....

Sometimes I think it's a curse to know exactly, on a minute-by-minute basis, how I'm doing. I made an announcement on Facebook about a new book and within minutes, I knew how many people jumped over to Amazon to buy it. You'd think that would be great. It's really not.

In the beginning, I was super-focused on my sales. I checked about nine thousand times a day. Now I check once a day, in the morning, and enter the numbers into my spreadsheet. I used to check every sales outlet every day. Now I only check Amazon (though iTunes is coming in a very close second lately - thanks, Australia!).

Many writers say this can help you market better. They say it can help you keep track of what matters to readers. They say lots of things.

I say it simply drives us insane. Don't get me wrong, I love the business side of self-publishing. I grew up in a family business and owning my own corporation is very fulfilling. But sometimes I think too much information at our fingertips is more distracting than advantageous.

It makes us proud at times, but it can also make us horribly insecure. A couple months ago, when my sales fell off of the Amazonian cliff, I panicked. I tried everything in my marketing toolbox to bring sales back. It worked - a bit - but I never did get back into the high sales I'd had earlier in the year. It's fair to say I was a smidgeon depressed for a couple of weeks. Now? Meh.

It took some time, but I remembered I didn't get in this business to rake in cash. I did it because writing is the ONLY career I've ever wanted with all of my heart. I wanted to write something other people might like. I've done that. Maybe that should be enough.

Happy Friday!!!!

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber