Friday, February 29, 2008

A little rock-and-roll is good for the soul

Tip of the Day: Browsing the backs of CDs can be a great way to find the perfect title for your book.

On Tuesday, I went to a concert. I saw these guys perform:

I almost didn't go, because the practical side of me says there are more important things to spend my money on. But I've been working so hard lately, I REALLY needed a fun night out. So I did it. I bought the tickets, and took a friend along with me to experience the awesomeness that is Lifehouse.

The thing is, seeing artists perform, like singers or actors, or even admiring great works of art, helps feed my creative soul. I work in a job that doesn't allow for much creativity. After work, I come home, do chores, help with homework, take the dog for a walk, and go to bed. If I'm lucky, I read a little before I go to sleep. When I'm writing, I wake up early and write, and write a lot on the weekends.

It's important to find time in my busy schedule to be inspired. Music inspires me. Theater inspires me. Great books inspire me. Beautiful art inspires me. Sometimes, I have to invest a little time and money to go out and find the inspiration. And I'm finally realizing that it's definitely time and money well spent.

What about you? Are you inspired by seeing other artists perform?

~Lisa, Miss Pinch Me I'm Pubbed

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sixth Annual Children’s Literature Breakfast

Tip of the Day: Don't finish a three-year old's glass of milk. Really. Trust me on this. You could end up with a mouthful of milky peas and carrots.

Last weekend I attended the Sixth Annual Children’s Literature Breakfast hosted by Anderson’s Bookshops and WOW—I had no idea it was such a huge and cool event. First, there were like 600 people there. Authors, librarians, teachers, reading specialists etc. It was an amazing sight. And while I was a bit nervous going by myself to the event that went away within seconds. People were so friendly and fun and I found myself gabbing away with everyone like we were BFFs within minutes of getting there.

There was a HUGE bookstore set up and people were buying like crazy! Me too. I was pretty bad. But they were giving a 20% discount so I made it okay in my mind to splurge. Ann Martin was supposed to be there as one of the big speakers but got snowed in so I was pretty bummed about that. Especially since I bought a couple of her books to get signed. But the rest of the breakfast made up for it.

Here were some of the highlights:

Spatulatta Sisters

Granted, I never heard of them before that day but apparently they are a big deal. They are these adorable 9 and 11-year old sisters that have been doing cooking shows online and now have a cook book. They did a cooking demonstration for us.

Kevin Henkes

He’s the super popular children’s author that does all of those cute mouse books like this one:

And he also has YA books. I haven’t read any yet but I picked up this one:

He read from his YA books and gave a nice talk. He’s the tiny spec at the podium in the picture (you can see how packed the place was!)

Richard Peck

I don’t know how I did not know who he was before the breakfast because he was pretty freaking cool! He’s written 30 books for middle grade and young adult kids and he gives one heck of a speech. He was absolutely fantastic! He had one great one-liner after another—one of my favs: "Being a writer is like being a greeter at Wal-Mart––there are no benefits, but you never have to retire." Here’s a pic of him signing books:

Illinois Authors

There was an Illinois author stationed at each table and every half an hour or so there would be a switch and a new author would come to the table. What a cool idea! I totally want to do this one day. I met a number of cool authors but one of the coolest was Brenda Ferber—another FSG author! I probably drove her nuts picking her brain about FSG (they are my publisher too) but she didn’t seem to mind. And she had a cool getting published story. She sold her Middle Grade novel to the very first place she queried (FSG). Then sold her second to the same publisher. When she wrote a children’s book she decided it was time to get an agent and e-queried one agent (and a REALLY good one at that) and that agent offered her representation that afternoon. AMAZING isn’t it? She makes the whole thing look like a snap. During one of the switches we were missing our author and my table said “you do the author talk!” You know I was like, “Oh no I couldn't…ok!” :-) And then I blabbed away about getting published. I figured it was good practice for the future.

Bag of Swag

Free stuff is SO fun! Each seat had a Kevin Henkes designed canvas bag full of things like posters, CDs, buttons, fans and even a spatula (from the Spatulatta Sisters of course). My favorite items from the bags? The little sample books! OMG!! Especially the Meg Cabot one, Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls, Moving Day. It even came with sheets of stickers. Please let me some day be fabulous enough to have pretty colorful sample books to give away!

So as you can see, I had a pretty great time and I learned SO much from all of the great authors! Granted I don’t get out much in the way of writerly things (this being my second writing-related outing) but I totally want to go again next year. If anyone is in the Chicago-land area we’ll have to meet up and go next February!

Kristina, Miss Soon-to-Pub

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tapping Into The Secret (or How to Make a Movie With Really Bad Acting and Still End Up on Oprah)

Tip of the Day: Why belong to the B&N rewards program when the Border's one is FREE and sends you coupons like every day?

In the summer of 2007, I had a plan. I was going to two conferences in the fall where I'd earn "ins" with attending editors -- meaning I could sub to them without an agent bc I'd also attended the conference. So I decided that even though I really wanted an agent, if I didn't get any bites by 1/1/08, I'd use all my conference sub ins and give the agent thing a rest for a while.

And I was OK with this plan.

But just to make sure I had my eye on the prize, I wrote down on a sticky note: "I will be agented by 1/1/08." I stuck it on my cubicle wall at work where I'd be sure to see it every day. Some people had pics of their kids up to motivate them to work, I had ballpoint scrawl on a generic yellow Post-It. To each their own.

Soon after, my friend suggested I read THE SECRET just to see what I thought of it. There were a ton of things in the book that seemed ridiculous to me. I mean, I'm still not convinced that Ludwig van Beethoven would've put his stamp of approval on the DVD.

Well, OK, maybe he would've if they used his Symphony No. 5 as their theme song and he collected royalties.... Nah.

But what I gleaned was that you need to put your intentions "out there" to up the chances of them coming true. Don't be afraid to tell people what your goals are.

It couldn't hurt.

So I told people I was actively looking for an agent, and that I hoped to have one by the end of the year, and I "told the universe" these same intentions while also reading my sticky note every day.

And guess what? After that I was offered rep in November and had the contract signed in December -- I'd made my 1/1/08 date!

Coincidence? The jury's still out on that one -- I mean, I did write a pretty damn good book ;) -- but as I said, "It can't hurt!"

And for the record, if you watch the DVD of THE SECRET, please be prepared for cringe-worthy acting and bad reinactments. Don't say I didn't warn you.... :)

Deena, Miss Recently Repped

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Revision Girl

Tip of the Day: Teens will do just about anything if pizza is involved.

For the past few weeks, Emily’s Writing World has had the fortune to entertain Revision Girl.

Revision Girl posing as Wonder Woman

Unlike many writers, I actually love having Revision Girl around, sometimes even more than Writer Girl (but please don’t tell Writer Girl that, because she’s kind of important to the whole operation in Writing World and I like her lots, too). Because Revision Girl gets to karate chop sentences/scenes/chapters, whip a character into shape, and sparkle up the page with fun descriptions and details.

But after much time and work sometimes Revision Girl gets tired and starts to look like this:

And feels like this:

Which makes her want to stop Revising all together. And attempts such as: tricking her by letting her work for one hour then rewards of seeing Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice followed by chocolate begin to no longer work. Nor does a comfy new superhero outfit.

So because Revision Girl is quite shy and afraid to speak up on this blog, I am going to ask a question from her on her behalf. She’d like to know what you guys use to keep your own Revision Girls (or Boys) active and wanting to keep fighting crime one word and sentence at a time.

Is it the old Butt-in-Chair? A simple week off? Reading a Super-Awesome book? Or maybe a simple reminder that Revisions are an important operation?

Revision Girl thanks you dearly in advance for sharing and helping a girl come out of her superhero rut.

--Emily, Miss Awaiting an Agent

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Words of Fear

Tip of the Day: Want to listen to scary stories at work? Search iTunes for Classic Podcasts. Edgar Allen Poe holds up remarkably well over time. But nothing you hear will be as scary as listening to your coworkers explain politics.

I’ve been working to improve a writing weakness of mine: relaying events and dialogue and forgetting to emphasize my main character’s emotional reactions. I think this weakness stems from my lack of experience in describing emotions separated from action. I can write a good, fun angry, with my MC stomping around and busting things up. Fear, though, is harder for me. And I want to write some scenes where my MC is flat out terrified. So I’ve been reading scary stories lately so I can steal … I mean, learn from example.

Here’s something I’ve learned: when my viewpoint character is afraid, he or she acts like I do when I’m afraid. When I’m anxious, my heart rate speeds up and I struggle to catch my breath. So that’s what happens to all my characters, every time they’re afraid. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but it’s getting painfully repetitive. Still, I wouldn’t know the feeling of chills running up my spine. I don’t think that’s ever happened to me. Does that happen to people? I guess it must, huh?

It was a revelation when I was reading my daughter a story the other day and one of the characters in peril was described as sweat soaked. Aha! I thought. That’s what my characters need to do more. Sweat. I need to go back and add more sweat. So my critique partners are in for a pleasant surprise.

More reading reveals that you can get away with a little more in third person than you can in first person. This is from Nighttime: Too Dark to See by Todd Strasser: “Ethan tensed. He gripped the seat … The car door opened. Ethan’s heart was pounding.” Now this is really good, but I don’t think it would work in first person. You’d lose those unconscious actions like tensing and gripping the seat. My internal point-of-view-police would jump in, “Ahem, your MC wouldn’t realize she was doing that. And she certainly wouldn’t know her eyes were widening, so delete that, too.” [Of all the voices in my head, my point-of-view-police annoys me the most. She’s so freaking nitpicky about things nobody in their right minds should notice. She’s a complainer. I’m sure she’d say “Ahem” if she could.]

In a tight third person, you can do practically anything. Even the most internal thoughts still work. This is from the story A Cry in the Night by Nancy Berberick and Greg LaBarbera: “The walls seemed to be closing in on him … Fear … grasped him now and squeezed the breath from his lungs.” Oh, yeah, walls closing in! I need to go back and throw that in somewhere.

A lot of the scary stories I’ve loved most have been in first person, so I think that can be done well, too. But I’m glad I chose to write my “scary” NaNoWriMo book with its many haunted house scenes in third person. I have my main character on the floor curling into fetal position after escaping the coffin-sized spider. I was disappointed to run into “he curled into a tight ball” in someone else’s story, but I still think it works in mine. It would work even better if he didn’t curl into a ball in one or two later chapters. He’s not Armadillo Boy. I’ll fix that on revision.

You know what the best part of this analysis has been? I scheduled a mortgage payment before my vacation, and it didn’t go through. As I realized my mortgage was mistakenly very late, my stomach dropped. And my brain kicked in with: wait, I need to write this down. How does my stomach feel exactly? I almost forgot about the mortgage. Boy, all I need is a good car wreck and I’ll be set for material. I really hope you all know what I mean by that.

-- Kate, Miss Writing Apprentice

Friday, February 22, 2008

Taking a Break after writing THE END

Tip of the Day: Editors may be reading your blog. They like humor. They like wit. They like good writing. I have a friend who has had *two* editors contact her after reading her blog. You could be next! Put your best blog forward!!

I am currently in that in-between book stage.

Yep, I worked on one YA from last summer until about November, then started right in on another one and finished it up this week.




So now, the doubts start creeping in. Will I ever have another halfway decent idea? Will I ever write anything worthy of publishing? Will I ever write again, period?

Even after all this time (seven or so years of serious writing), isn't it interesting that I still wonder if there's another book inside of me? Does that ever go away?

I have some exciting presentation opportunities coming up, so even if I wanted to, I couldn't start in on another project right now. I need to focus my time and energy elsewhere over the next few months.

I'm looking forward to a break. To having more time to read. To just *being*.

Except the problem is, I say that every time, as I wonder if there's another book inside of me. And then, BAM, when I least expect it, a character starts talking to me or an idea falls from the sky and I get cranky if I take too long to put it down on paper.

What about you? Do you jump right in to another project when you finish one, or do you take a breather?

~Lisa, Miss Pinch Me I'm Pubbed

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Mysterious Line Edits

Tip of the Day: Eat lots of left over V-Day chocolate while working on line edits.

That thing you’ve heard about for so long and wondered what it is? Well, I got mine. Last week. And to sum it up in one word—WOW. I’m going to let you in on a little secret that you might not know if you haven’t reached this point in this publishing biz yet or you are just reaching it now—you have to know another language to read the line edits. Seriously! Prepare to understand things like LC/, swirlies, ^, something that looks like the cents sign, things that have three underlines, two horizontal or vertical dashes above a letter, swooshy arrows, big boxes above and below the text and so on.

When I first looked at my line edited manuscript my instinct was to curl up into a little ball and cry. The marks seriously looked like this to me:

(The above comic by Eve Corbel,

But I am a mature author now so I didn’t do that. Instead I e-mailed my writer friends and whined, “WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN???” This is why writer friends are so great—some of them DID know what this stuff means! They pointed me to great Web sites like—

And would you believe a lot of these swirlies and slashes have meanings to them? Yup. But then I came across a number of them that still didn’t make sense to me. So I studied them and studied them and then finally just e-mailed my editor. I didn’t want to bother her with questions and look like I didn’t know what I was doing but hey—I DIDN’T know what I was doing. She very quickly and nicely explained everything to me and even sent a great example. Whew.

Now I am plowing my way through them and I have to say—at first it kind of feels like when you are in high school and you get back that English paper and it is SO marked up in pen or pencil that you just feel like OMG, what did I do wrong? Except, you know, a couple of hundred pages of this. But I keep reminding myself that every author goes through this, of course the book just can’t be perfect right off, and isn’t it wonderful to have an editor take so much time and work so hard on every little detail of your book? It is. I know this is just part of the process to make the most perfect book we can. So YAY for reaching this stage in the pub process!

Any of you authors that have been through line edits want to share your experiences?

Kristina, Miss Soon-to-Pub

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My Agent Hunt Strategy (or You, Too, Can Find Love Through the Internet)

Tip of the Day: When you say you're going on a chocolate detox, don't purchase the econo bag of Nestle Tollhouse Morsels while grocery shopping.

As Miss Recently Repped, I feel it is my responsibility to share with you how I found Chris, my wonderful agent. I know there is a lot of comprehensive information out there on how to start such a search, but this is my personal story for those who are interested. And maybe it will inspire some readers!

First, a re-cap: Between June 2004 and June 2007, I'd completed 4 YA and 1 MG novels. Some of them were crap, but that didn't stop me from querying on them (bc I didn't know they were crap, I swear!) and then receiving rejections on them. But when I completed that YA novel #4, I KNEW I was onto something. There was plot! There were stakes! There was voice! This book was UNDENIABLY FANTASTIC! (***Sending these vibes to editors right now***)

SO, what I did to find an agent once I knew I had The Book:

1. I visited and made a list of the first batch of agents to query. My first list included those who accepted equeries, had given me positive feedback on my past work, or who repped some of my favorite authors.

2. I read the acknowledgments pages of MG and YA novels to see who repped these books and made notes on who to query.

3. I read Verla Kay's message board, particularly the Agent threads.

4. I Googled the names of the agents I was interested in so I could personalize their query letters.

5. I read the deals on Publishers Marketplace.

6. I wrote query letters. I revised the letters. I got my CPs to weigh in on the letters. I sent the query letters out into the world of agents.

7. I got rejections. Some forms, and some personal ones that pretty much said, "Great writing, interesting premise, but I'm not that into the year 1955," which was apparently a problem since 1955 was the year my book to place.

8. I figured since I was getting personal feedback on the query and sample pages, those weren't the problem. The problem was finding someone to connect with 1955.

9. I went back to and modified my search to those who repped YA and Historical Fiction, when previously I'd been searching for the criteria in (1) above with MG, YA, or Children's as the qualifying genres. My new search terms resulted in only a few agents who I hadn't already queried based on my original criteria. Chris was one of them. She was worth a shot!

10. I sent Chris a snail mail query. Two weeks later, she emailed me asking for the first 30 pages. One month later she emailed me asking for the full. Two months later she emailed me with the word that she loved my book, but she was switching agencies and needed her new head agent to read it as well and agree that her agency could rep me!

11. To say I was THRILLED is an understatement. She TOTALLY got my book and LOVED the historical aspect and the year it took place! She asked for some fact verifications. And then the head agent at her new agency loved it, too!

12. Not only was the new agency that Chris moved to a better fit for me (due to the amount of kidlit sold), but I now had the support of two great agents. Wow. We talked on the phone and could've blabbed for hours. She answered my emails in a day -- even on the weekends! She wanted to rep me for my whole career. Wow again.

13. Six months after my initial query to Chris -- seven from my first query on this novel -- I was signed with an agent. One who supported the year 1955 (I still don't know how ppl can deny its greatness after Back To The Future).
Don't give up, fellow authors. Good things come with time -- and a little research.

Those of you with agents, what was your search strategy? How did you connect with YOUR agent?

Deena, Miss Recently Repped

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

When’s the right time to query?

Tip of the Day: If you ever wonder when to query agents and the only advice you keep seeing is “when it’s ready,” then it’s perfectly acceptable to take a break from writing and regroup while watching American Idol.

As I’m finishing up my current work-in-progress, I keep asking myself the above question on when is the right time to query. I’m not sure I have an answer. Or really if one exists, since I imagine it’s different for every person and book. Sure, I definitely need to finish the book first. Then I need to wait to do more edits after having critique partners read it. But after that, how will I know when it’s ready?

I don’t want to be like those American Idol beginning contestants and think I have a good voice and then get laughed off by the judges. I want my “voice” to be ready when I send it out to my own judges (i.e. agents).

But knowing if your work is good enough and “ready” to be sent out into the world is hard to judge for yourself. There’s two good pieces of advice I’ve heard about when a writer should query in the last few weeks:

1.) Most authors submit to agents one-draft too soon. (Sorry, I don’t remember where I saw the first one, so I can’t give them credit. If you know, let me know.):

This is excellent advice and a reminder that when I’m ready I need to wait and hold out until one-more draft is done. And just hope it’s the draft that will get me through. This is definitely something I’m learning with each book I write.

With the first books, it’s really easy to send early, since you are craving feedback and want to know if your “baby” has a shot. It feels more like you are jumping up and down in a crowd and waving your manuscript back and forth yelling, “Pick me. Pick me.” However with each book, I think you learn more of not only what to do when querying agents to effectively target the attention you do have, instead of waving erratically, but also about patience. And hopefully about making the book better that agents can’t resist but to pick you (wouldn’t that be nice!).

2.) The second advice was on Kate Schafer’s Ask Daphne! Blog. Here’s a link to the entry. I read this tons of times, just because I knew it was advice I needed to hear. Basically her advice is that if you are down to tweaking instead of making the story better and you have all your loose ends tied together and have complete story and character arcs, then the book is ready to query.

I like this advice for a number of reasons. But mainly because I can understand it better than the standard, “send when it’s ready.” Because frankly, I really don’t get that. Because no one asks when it’s going to be ready if they know what “ready” really means. Now do they?

Which brings me to you all. When do YOU think a manuscript is ready to be sent to agents? Because I could really use some more advice and a slap on the hand, since occasionally my old-newbie writer self comes out and really craves to jump the gun and see if my “baby” has a shot. And I’d really rather refrain from looking like a fool jumping up and down yelling, “Pick me. Pick me.”

--Emily, Miss Awaiting an Agent

Monday, February 18, 2008

Writing on Vacation

Vacation Tip of the Day: Have kids? Bring a towel to the beach. Even in February when everyone insists the water is too cold and your kids won't go near it. They will.

I’m on a family vacation this week. No work, no school. We left the snow belt and are now south of the Mason-Dixon line. Time for some R&R.

But in the back of my mind, there’s a little voice saying, wow, think of all the writing you can get done this week!

Now, could I go a week without writing? Oh, sure. No problem there. I might feel guilty, like if I ate ice cream for dinner all week. But I don’t want a vacation from writing. I don’t get enough time to write in my regular life. On the other hand, I don’t want my vacation to be a driven, goal oriented, “I have to accomplish this or I’ll feel inadequate” type of week. I know I won’t get a lot of writing done because time is an illusion, especially on vacation. At the beginning of a week off, I think I have all the time in the world to catch up on my sleep, bond with my family, meet old friends, read a few books, evaluate my life priorities and whip out a few chapters of my work-in-progress. But experience tells me that the time will slip through my fingers, leaving me with nothing but a backlog of laundry.

So here’s my plan for vacation writing: I’m going to write slow. I’m bringing a legal pad and a few pens. I’m letting my characters go off on tangents. I already have a great stupid tangent idea—based on a long-ago family vacation—about the world’s worst family restaurant experience. I just need an imaginary restaurant name. So far I have:
-- Steamy's
-- The Microwavery
-- The Opossum Road Grill
-- The Country Trough

None of these are funnier than the real-life restaurant inspiring my bad family meal scene, where I was introduced to gray soup. (SmorgaBobs. No lie.) I'll just have to keep brainstorming.

To punch up the sibling rivalry part of my WIP, I’ll ask my brothers to brainstorm creative ways to destroy a girl's possessions. I know they used to be experts. Too bad there isn’t a modern analog for putting things in a hot-air popcorn popper and shooting them across the house, but maybe we can come up with one.

The outline is staying at home. When I get back to real life, I’ll get serious about writing that synopsis. Really.

Do you write on vacation? Or do you need a vacation from writing? Or has it been so long since you’ve been on an actual vacation that writing is your vacation? And have I inspired you to write about your worst family vacation dining experience? (Can you top gray soup?)

-- Kate, Miss Apprentice Writer

Saturday, February 16, 2008

We Heart Contests!

Congratulations to tasha - you are the winner of LOST IT, by Kristen Tracy! HOORAY!!!

Please e-mail us your information so we can send you your book. The e-mail address is author2author (dot) blog (at) gmail (dot) com.

Thanks to all of you who participated in our first contest! We love sharing book love with others, so we promise there will be more contests in our future.

In the meantime, happy reading and writing!

~Lisa, Miss Pinch Me I'm Pubbed

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sharing the Love Book Giveaway No. 5

Tip of the Day: YA Librarian Lena is the winner of THE BOYFRIEND LIST from yesterday. Yay Lena! Please send us an e-mail at author2author dot blog at gmail dot com with your information!


It can be tough, sometimes, being a writer for teens.

If you have a book with love, does there need to be sex?

If you have a book with romance and sex, does there have to be love?

Of course, there’s no right or wrong answer. You have to ask, what’s true to the characters? What’s true to the story? And then you hope like crazy you’re getting it right.

I think Kristen Tracy’s book, LOST IT, our giveaway book for today, gets it right. It actually has all three of the above elements PLUS a bonus. Yep. A bonus!


Now you’re asking, wait a minute. Humor with love? With romance? With SEX???

Yes. Absolutely. Because let’s face it, when you’re a teen in the middle of a relationship, and you’re figuring everything out for the first time, it’s often awkward. And yes, FUNNY! Okay, so maybe it’s hard to see the humor at the time. But come on. It was there, wasn’t it?

I adore the way the author uses humor in this book. It makes it all so real.

Check out this starred review from Publishers Weekly.

“Readers will be immediately drawn to this hilarious and heartfelt first novel about a girl who falls in love—and has her first sexual experience—and tries to let go of her fears. Tess Whistle lives in Idaho with paranoid parents, who ‘became born again’ after a kitchen fire. The book begins with an account of how she loses her virginity, then flashes back to the start of junior year, when she expected to stay a virgin until she is ‘at least engaged.’ Tess has plenty of phobias, mostly of the natural world where she could be ‘torn to pieces by a pack of recently relocated gray wolves.’ Just before her whole life crumbles, Benjamin Easter transfers to her school. Tess falls intensely in love without realizing ‘that you can't depend on another person to provide your own balance.’ And there's no doubt that Tess's life is out of balance: Her best friend is building a bomb, claiming she wants to blow up a poodle, her parents run off to join a survival camp, and Tess tells Ben she is diabetic as way of explaining her ‘juvenile’ apple juice box, then maintains the lie. Readers may be so busy laughing out loud at the eccentric characters and outrageous plotting that they may not realize how much they have grown to empathize with desperate Tess until her relationship is in crisis. Readers will fall in love with this offbeat story—and its rich lesson about living a life without guarantees.”

To enter to win this book, just leave a comment here or at the Livejournal feed. If you’ve posted about the contest this week, you’ll get another entry (but please let me know about it when you enter). Look for a special post tomorrow morning announcing the winner!

Have a great weekend!

~Lisa (Miss Pinch Me I'm Pubbed

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Book Giveaway Day 4 -- "15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and me, Ruby Oliver"

Tip of the Day: Financial guru Suze Orman is GIVING AWAY her book, WOMEN AND MONEY until 8 p.m. EST TODAY. Go to and click on the link at the top to get your copy. Have a great Valentine’s day! <3

And, elainareads, write to us at author2authorDOTblogATgmailDOTcom with your name and snail mail address because YOU are the lucky winner of Wendy Toliver’s THE SECRET LIFE OF A TEENAGE SIREN.

Isn’t that line in the title a great line? It sums up the story so simply and it’s written on the super cute cover of the book, THE BOYFRIEND LIST, by E. LOCKHART. The Boyfriend List stars 15-year old Ruby Oliver who is having a super sucky time at school. So bad that she is having panic attacks and her parents send her to a shrink for help. And to understand what is going on with her better, the shrink has her make a list of all of the boyfriends she has ever had—which you just know is going to get her in trouble too. Through examining each relationship, we see how Ruby got to the point she is at.

You’ll adore the book for its interesting format and of course—love/relationship problems throughout. Like how Ruby just loves her boyfriend SO much and then how not only is her heart completely broken when he dumps her out of the blue but it is a double whammy when it is at the hands of her BFF. You’ll also instantly feel for Ruby and her new situation at school--one of those times when all of your friends turn on you and you want to just hide and never go to school again but you force yourself to face it anyway. Something probably all girls can relate to at one time or another. For me it was this one girl in 5th grade that we’ll just call Christy (because a) I shouldn’t post her last name and b) I can’t remember it anyway. Hey, at least I wasn’t too scarred!). We were BFFs until one day she thought I said she smelled or something (which I totally didn’t) and turned all of my friends against me. It was horrible! I hid in the bathroom handicap stall at lunchtime for a week until I finally told my mom and she called Christy’s mom and told her to stop being a little snot and apologize. She did and we were never friends again after that but at least I had my other friends back.

Ok, so I veered off the Valentine’s/love thread a bit here but hey—this book has it all! Heartbreak can be a part of Valentine’s Day and BFFs can break your heart too. Was there ever a Christy in your life? Do share if so. Come on—it’s group therapy! Or, just comment anyway before Midnight EST and you’ll have the chance to win this book (two chances if you post with the link to your promo of our contest) and see how things turn out for Ruby. Lisa, Miss Pinch Me I’m Pubbed, will announce the winner tomorrow!

Kristina, Miss Soon-to-Pub

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sharing the Love Book Giveaway Day 3! (or How to Spot My Boyfriend a Mile Away)

Tip of the Day: If Valentine's Day gets you as excited as dry white toast, check out Bittersweets at Heart messages include gems such as "Dog is Cuter" and "He Fit U Fat." Couldn't have said it better myself.

***And the WINNER of SOMETHING TO BLOG ABOUT by Shana Norris is: candycana

Yay! Congrats! Please send your snail mail addy and name to author2authorDOTblogATgmailDOTcom.

To all non-winners (bc no one's a Loser here on A2A!), you have until Midnight EST to comment on this entry for a chance to win Wendy Toliver's THE SECRET LIFE OF A TEENAGE SIREN (two chances if you post with the link to your promo of our contest).***

Novels are, by their very nature, fictional. They have characters who aren't real -- or are they?

Every teen love interest male character in my books has pieces of my manpanion* in it. I mean, how could I not include such fabulousness? I would never have made it to Recently Repped if he hadn't been so supportive -- and helpful -- with my writing. It only makes sense that I use someone who evokes strong loving emotions in my real life to transfer to what my MCs wants in a boy as well.

What are these traits? Glad you asked!

1. An excellent sense of humor, wittiness, sarcasm, and gentle flirting.
2. Musical talent.
3. Tall, dark, and handsome -- but not the traditional "model" look (no Ken dolls for me).
4. Laid back, comfortable, and warm.
5. Likes his t-shirts, fleece, and jeans.
6. Is a year or two older than the chick.

Of course, not every character I write will have all of these characteristics. Some books might have a few boys who each have a couple. But you won't get through a whole novel of mine without coming across some of them. And then there is my one book where I blatantly named the teen band Filthy Funk....

The other good thing about my manpanion*? He knows I'm writing this post about him and doesn't mind!

What traits repeatedly show up in your girl/boy love interest characters? And are they based on your real life sweetie? Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win this book! Post about this contest on your blog and leave a comment with a link to that post, and you'll be entered twice!
THE SECRET LIFE OF A TEENAGE SIREN is a fun romance read! I love these Simon Pulse Ro-Coms bc they have fiesty MCs who aren't perfect, but are still totally likeable. This is a trait I need to learn to perfect myself.

SIREN doesn't have an older musician love interest, but it does have a female floutist who on her 16th birthday turns into a Siren and can play her music to make men do her bidding. I hope that's not why I'm always writing my guitar-playing man into my books...he's controlling my mind with his tunes....

Comment to win it! Woo hoo!

Happy Valentine's Day, all!

Deena, Miss Recently Repped

*"Manpanion" is a trademark of the lovely and talented author Rhonda Stapleton, and is used with permission, though she wishes its use to become more commonplace in today's society. I concur.

Sharing the Love Book Giveaway No. 2

Tip of the Day: …..drumroll…..elissa please email your full name and mailing address to author2author(DOT)blog(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Because yes, you are the winner of IT'S NOT ABOUT THE ACCENT. Congrats.

For those that didn’t win, you are in luck because we have another giveaway going on right now! Just leave a comment to this post for your chance to win!

Today is a super special day. Not only do we have another Sharing the Love book to give away (Who doesn’t love a giveaway? Aren’t they the coolest?), but we also have an extra special visit from another author: Shana Norris. Shana has agreed to not only tell us about her book SOMETHING TO BLOG ABOUT, which you can win today, but also share some tips for all the authors out there. Shana doesn’t know it, but for agreeing to do this, I am even giving her an honorary Miss name of Miss Awesome Author.

So without further ado here is the lovely and talented Shana Norris to tell us about her new book that you can win, which just hit shelves a little over a week ago.


First, Shana thanks for stopping by. We are really glad to have you and appreciate you taking the time to answer our questions!

Thank you for having me here, Emily!

Now, on with the questions:

Why don’t you tell us a little about your newly released debut novel Something to Blog About:
Something to Blog About is a humorous young adult novel about fifteen-year-old Libby Fawcett, who has a reputation for getting into embarrassing situations. At the beginning of the story, she has a mishap with a Bunsen burner and sets her hair on fire—in front of Seth, the guy she’s had a crush on since eighth grade. So Libby decides to start a secret blog to write about all the traumas of her life. She never intends for anyone else to ever read the blog, but then it gets posted throughout her school and everyone reads her secrets as well as her friends’ secrets too.

What was your favorite part about writing this book?
I loved Libby’s voice. She’s a fun perspective to view the world from because she’s overly dramatic as well as being klutzy. I also really liked developing the relationships between Libby and the other characters, especially Libby and her mom, and Libby and Angel.

How many books did you write before Something to Blog About sold?
I’ve been writing since I was a kid, so I’ve written A LOT of books during that time. But they were all really bad, so I don’t count them! From the time that I decided to seriously pursue publication, I wrote four books before SOMETHING TO BLOG ABOUT. But STBA was my first YA. Before that, I thought I would become a fantasy writer, which is what the four books before STBA were. I still love to read fantasy, but I’m not very good at writing it! I never had any luck getting my fantasy stories published and never even got any interest at all from agents for my fantasy books. But with STBA, I got several requests for partials and fulls, and then was offered representation 11 months after I first started querying for it. Then seven months and a lot of revisions later, we had a pre-empt offer from Amulet Books.

What's one piece of advice you’d give the people reading this blog in each of those stages?
For those in the Writing Apprentice and Awaiting an Agent stages: Not everyone is going to realize your brilliance the first time you send out queries. LOL. Seriously, you’re going to get rejections. Even bestselling authors have been rejected at some point. Just keep trying! For the Recently Repped: It doesn’t get any easier once you have the agent. There is still a lot of hard work to prove yourself in this business and there will probably be times you feel like crying and giving up. Don’t give in to those feelings! To the Soon-to-Pub: Learn all you can about paying taxes on your advance so you understand exactly what you need to do! Seriously!! And to Pinch Me I’m Pubbed: Don’t let the bad reviews get you down. One way I’ve figured out to make me feel better when I get a not so great review is to go to, look up a best-selling author, and then read all of her one and two star reviews. It always cheers me up to know that even best-selling authors get bad reviews.

Can you tell us more specific information about the love interest in your book?
Libby’s love interest is a cute, quiet guy named Seth. She’s been in love with him ever since the eighth grade, when they had to work on a class project together. But Libby has never had the courage to talk to him, so she admires him from afar—until the perfect opportunity to get close to him lands in her lap and she can’t pass it up. Seth is a bit of a mystery to everyone at Libby’s school. He doesn’t have a lot of friends and usually keeps to himself. No one knows too much about him because he hates being part of high school gossip so he keeps his personal life as secret as he can.

If you could cast any Hollywood actress/actor, entertainer, model, or other personality to be the main characters of your book, who would you choose?
We would all be in trouble if I was in charge of casting a movie version of SOMETHING TO BLOG ABOUT because I have a hard time choosing any actors that I think fit the roles! LOL. But I could see Amanda Bynes as Libby, since she’s got that cute, bubbly look about her. And Michael Cera as Roger. Maybe Vanessa Hudgens as Angel. But I have no idea who would play Keisha or Seth!

If you could switch places with any other author who would it be?
Meg Cabot! I’d like to spend the day in her head and find out how she writes such hilarious books.

And finally, if you could go on vacation tomorrow, where would you go?
My husband and I are really into history and I love Greek mythology, so I would love to go to Greece and see ruins of ancient cities and temples.

Thank you so much Miss Awesome Author Shana. We all really appreciate you stopping by and sharing with us today. For those out there that what to show Shana some love, they can visit her Web site at: to learn more about her or her new book.

And please, please don’t forget to leave a comment, either here or on our LiveJournal feed, for your chance to win your very own copy of Something to Blog About. Comments have to be in by the end of the day (midnight EST). And if you link or have linked to in your blog or Web site, let me know where in your comment (even if you told us yesterday, please let us know again) and you get two entries.

Deena will announce the winner tomorrow in her post, which I caught a glimpse of and it’s about boys (which I am super excited about because I love hearing about boys!) and you can win a copy of The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren. So make sure to check back to see if you won!

--Emily, Miss Awaiting an Agent

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Share the Love Giveaway Starts Here!!

Tip of the Day: Leave a comment every day this week to enter the daily giveaway. Tell us where you linked to for a second, bonus entry!

I have a Valentine’s Week confession to make about love.

I don’t present myself as a lover of material possessions. I don’t have a secret name for my car. I’ve never missed a utility bill because I couldn’t resist splurging on new shoes. Life, I tell my nine-year-old repeatedly, does not revolve around accumulating things. But I lie! Because there’s one big, big exception to this rule: I love my iPod.

You recall the classic dilemma “if your house was on fire and you could go back in to save one thing, what would it be?” Well, it wouldn’t be one of my personalized, signed books. It sure wouldn’t be any sappy photo album of my children’s babyhood. Really, the only question in my mind would be how I got out of the house without my iPod in the first place.

I love my iPod! I listen to my iPod while writing, while at work, and while in the car. I have playlists for my characters, my settings, and my plots. I know what music my characters love; schizophrenic as it sounds, their tastes in music have expanded my own. My first novel was set in California. Now I’m the station-wagon-driving, upstate New York suburban Mom blasting Daddy Yankee on my way to the supermarket.

Which brings me to my pick for our Share the Love Giveaway: Caridad Ferrer’s It’s Not About the Accent.

In both this novel and Ferrer’s earlier Adios to my Old Life, she includes many references to modern, popular music. The main character in Adios is a musician, but in Accent, we find out the romantic lead’s music tastes because … oh, come on, how could you not want to know? Could you date a man after discovering he loves Toby Keith? Isn’t telling the man you love about the music you listened to in junior high school a touching act of revelation and trust? And there’s something so wonderful about my husband, when I pull up to the elementary school singing along to Wisin y Yandel or Dashboard Confessional, admitting proudly, “Yes, that’s my wife.”

Ferrer’s leading men have strong ethnic identities, which, along with great taste in music, is very attractive. It’s the attachment to something bigger than one’s self (like the musician to his art) combined with the love of the history of who came before you, a theme in It’s Not About the Accent. It’s also lure of the unfamiliar setting, if the main character doesn’t share that culture. Think Kardik in Libby Bray’s trilogy, or Jamie in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. Romantic fantasy has this lure; in Stephanie Meyer’s books, Bella sure falls for Edward’s vampire history.

I’ve been writing Middle Grade lately, but my next NaNoWriMo novel will be older YA and I’m already planning to “borrow” these attributes for my main character’s competing romantic interests. In Accent, the leading man is very close to his family. I don’t find that to be an instant turn-on. Lots of great people come from nutty families. But a guy watching out for a younger sibling, I think, has a lot of punch. So while I’m at the character building stage: Anything else you think I should build into my leading men?

I definitely learned a lot about “the guy you want your main character to be with” in It’s Not About the Accent. I wouldn’t call this a RomCom. There are heavy emotional trials in store for the main character, Caroline. Ferrer skillfully writes two love interests for Caroline—the one we’re rooting for and the one we’re not—and lets us see why Caroline makes the choices she does. Her bad boy isn’t a cardboard villain. Eric and Paul are real people, with pasts and futures beyond the pages of the book. As in many YA romances, this novel isn’t all about the romance and doesn’t follow a formula. Like most 17-year-olds, Caroline wants a different life than the one she’s led to date, and, like most 17-year-olds, she finds that’s a pretty easy goal to accomplish … if only she had defined it better because “different” turns out to be way too vague a goal to aim for without shooting yourself in the foot …

Have I intrigued you? So enter already! Leave a comment, either here or on our LiveJournal feed, and you’ll be entered in my drawing to win It’s Not About the Accent. Link to in your blog/website/little piece of the internet and tell me where in your comment, and you get two entries. Emily will announce the winner tomorrow in her post—a fantabulous interview with Shana Norris, author of her giveaway novel, Something to Blog About!

By the way, right now my husband is blasting America’s “A Horse With No Name.” *Sigh* I swear, he hid this tendency from me until after the wedding. But I love him anyway. Now isn’t that romantic?

-- Kate, Miss Apprentice Writer

Friday, February 8, 2008

Sharing the LOVE Book Giveaway Contest

Tip of the Day: Reading A LOT of books in the genre you're writing in is one of the best things you can do to improve your writing.

In honor of Valentine’s Day next week, we’re hosting a contest where each day, one lucky blog reader can win a lovey-dovey young adult novel. Yep, we’ll be going to our bookshelves and selecting a new or a gently used, but like new, book and sharing the love, in more ways than one.

Here’s how it works.

Each day, we’ll blog about a book we are giving away. Simply leave a comment if you’d like to be entered to win that particular book.

If you’d like an extra entry, post about the contest on your blog, but make sure when you comment on our blog to enter for the contest that you tell us where to find your post for that extra entry. You only need to blog about it once, but when you are leaving a comment, refer to that entry each time, since we have five people doing five different drawings.

Entries must be received by midnight EST (9:00 PST) each day. Sorry, we will only be able to mail to US addresses.

Here are the books you have the opportunity to win!

Monday – IT'S NOT ABOUT THE ACCENT, by Caridad Ferrer
Tuesday – SOMETHING TO BLOG ABOUT, by Shana Norris
Wednesday – THE SECRET LIFE OF A TEENAGE SIREN, by Wendy Toliver
Thursday – THE BOYFRIEND LIST, by E. Lockhart
Friday – LOST IT, by Kristen Tracy

The contest begins Monday, February 11th - be there or be square. It promises to be a fun week, as we even have an interview scheduled with Shana Norris on Tuesday!

~Lisa, Miss Pinch Me I'm Pubbed

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Who Do You Let Read Your Stuff?

Tip of the Day: Packaged cookie dough from the store (but NOT homemade) is ok to eat when you are pregnant.

Well, they ask and they ask but I just won’t let my family read anything I write. Is that awful? Nah—they are the most judgmental people on earth! Ok, I’m kidding about that of course (really—you guys are great!) but I won’t let them read any of my books. Not yet. If they want to shell out the bucks when they hits the bookstores well then that would just rock. I’ll just disappear for a week until I’m positive that everyone has finished reading and then slowly reemerge. But I’m just not at a point where I can hand it over to them now to read. Is it a problem with me? I don’t know. I keep telling myself that they just won’t “get” my books. They aren’t my target audience.

But I’m not sure that’s it either. On Oprah they are always talking about things like that book The Secret or laws of attraction and how you bring something to your life by wanting it and visualizing it. One woman on yesterday’s show said that she purposely didn’t tell her family when her husband lost his job because they viewed it as a good thing (they even broke out the wine and glasses) and she was afraid the family would put off negative energy and bring them down at a time when they needed to remain positive. So maybe I’m anticipating the chance of negative energy and I don’t want anything to pull me down? Kinda like how I didn’t even tell my family I was writing books until I was about to get an agent? Like if I told them they might have said “that’s stupid”, or “you can’t do that” and I didn’t want to be slowed down so I just plowed straight ahead? Hmmm…I wonder what Dr. Phil would say about all this?

I would let my husband read my books but honestly that scares me a little too. He’s more into science fiction stuff and he reads like 250 books a year. That is a lot of books to compete against. And he HAS to be nice to me so he would just say everything is wonderful right? I kinda almost sorta offered that he could read one of my books once…but he said he wanted to wait until he could hold the book in his hands so I’m just fine with that because he’s probably the only person I’d bend my “nobody in the family reads my stuff” rule for.

That’s not saying that I don’t let anyone read my books—obviously I do that. I have a number of great critique partners, and my agent, and others at her agency, and then editors etc. that read my books. They are all great readers because they “get it”. I willingly and happily send them stuff all the time. So when the family asks me now if they can read something, I practice a number of techniques—1) avoidance, 2) redirection (“Oooh, is that a new shirt?” 3) Fake labor pains and 4) The smile/head bob/no comment thing.

What do you guys think? Am I wrong here? Do you let your family read your books? Who do you let read your stuff?

Kristina, Miss Soon-to-Pub

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

First Page Critiques (or What Makes Me Wanna Go All Simon Cowell)

Tip of the Day: Click the link in the right-hand pane to my first introductory post for some FABULOUS NEW DEVELOPMENTS in my work life!!!

SCBWI conferences are great for inspiration, learning about the market, and meeting up with other kidlitters.

They are also good for laughs.

I apologize ahead of time for being what some may consider "harsh," but fortheloveofgod people, please do some serious reading and revising before reading your first page at the First Page Critique session at a writing conference. If you do not, these are the thoughts that will be in my head -- and if I were Simon Cowell, you'd be hearing them:

1. Dustballs riding helicoptors and zucchinis running around town looking for dinner are not stories. Not even in picture books. Ever. In fact, just stay away from anthropomorphism all together unless you know how to write a story without it. Oh, and please avoid the word "crotch" in your picture book. I mean, does an illustrator really want to have to deal with that one?

2. Picture book readers do not want to hear 250 words of boring prose before something -- anything -- happens. The wind whispering the name "Martinique" whilst smelling of primrose and frankincense makes me wish I was reading about dustballs, crotches, and zucchinis.

3. Novels that switch point of view three times in one page are confused. Who is the main character? If it's the teen boy, then why do we care what Dad is thinking about while he chews his pork chop? We don't. In fact, we don't even care that he's chewing.

4. Starting out a picture book with child-like imagery that suddenly shifts to the sentimental thoughts of an adult is like watching 35-year-old Luke Perry play a high schooler in Beverly Hills 90210. Not attractive, not believable, not right.

5. Hilarious middle-grade novels are always appreciated, even if they center around puke. Poorly done middle-grade novels that are supposed to be funny and center around anything make me embarassed for the author. You know that feeling you get when you watch the "acting" in the High School Musical series? Like you need to cover your eyes and ears or you'll cry for them? Yeah, that feeling.

6. Rhyming picture books rock
When the text is not a crock.
If the lines only rhyme
'Cause of crappy texty brine
And it makes no sense
But you think it's cute
Just throw it down
The garbage shute.

On the Paula Abdul side, there was one great rhyming picture book first page that had me tappin' my toes. And most of the first pages that made me want to read more were YAs and MGs (yeay!). Some people are really talented and I am excited to see people in my SCBWI region do well.

But the people I am really impressed with are the conference faculty members who sit at the front of the First Page Critique room, listening to each page with all their attention, who don't once let a Simon Cowell comment slip from their tongues.

What are some of the best/worst First Page Critque pages you've heard? If you don't wanna go all Simon Cowell, you can keep them to yourself (but make sure to comment on my post next week for a chance to win a nearly new YA novel!).

Deena, Miss Recently Repped

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

What's common in YA and how to seperate yourself

Tip of the Day: A little birdie named MySpace told me it was our very own Lisa Schroeder’s Birthday today. Have an amazing birthday, Lisa!

In the YA writing world, some of you might have seen the 25 common phrases and ideas in YA books that Joelle Anthony posted and Agent Kristin Nelson reposted on her blog last week. On one of my online writing lists there has been a small discussion centered around whether it’s okay for new writers to take to heart and/or remove their most common or clichéd phrases from their manuscripts.

I don’t really want to debate that, personally because I think that if someone posted information in an attempt to be helpful to new or established writers, those writers can either take the advice as intended or simply not look at the information. And I come from the camp that you can do anything—even clichéd—phrases if you do them well. I also come from the camp of loving lists—which topped this particular list as the most used idea in YA books—and would hate to see all the “lists” in books suddenly disappear.

However, in seeing the discussion it sparked something in me that I think a lot of new writers, myself included, sometimes forget.

And that’s marketing!

If you think you don’t need to be aware of marketing when just starting out writing a book and trying to sell it, then I am here to tell you, you are wrong. (You can go ahead and throw objects at me for admitting that, if you wish. But please no tomatoes or computers—unless it’s the new MacBook Air, which I will gladly catch and keep.)

Marketing is much more than selling books to readers. From my good old college days, I do remember that there are four main P’s in marketing: product, price, place (distribution), and promotion. Luckily as a new writer just starting to write and sell we only need to be concerned about product at this point.

But another key component to any marketing is that you are aware of who you are marketing this product to. That’s why there’s entire classes devoted to demographics and psychographics of understanding the “customer” and your “competitors.”

So for YA novels, who’s your customer?

Sure it’s teens. Sure it’s adults (because we all know there’s plenty of adults that read YA).

But even before that, the main “customers” of your book are agents and editors. You have to get it by them before you can sell to your end customer.

And you know what, these are the people you have to be concerned about cliché and popular ideas for. Because teens probably wouldn’t be able to spot a clichéd phrase out of a line up (some would, but most probably won’t care if they like the book enough); however, agents and editors read hundreds and thousands of sample pages a year. And if they are seeing stuff come up over and over again, then I think it’s important you know about this, so you can try to separate yourself from the pack.

Just like how on most agent blogs you read that in query letters, agent don’t really like seeing clichés in the letters, since it makes it “appear” like the book is going to be like a bunch of other books already out there.

Separating yourself from the pack doesn’t have to mean completely removing clichéd phrases or concepts. Maybe it’s twisting the phrase or idea on its head. Maybe it’s focusing on the stronger parts of your manuscript instead, such as your voice or your plot. Just something to make it stand out. And most of the time, this happens naturally. But I do think it’s important to be aware of what else is out there.

That’s why, I for one am very grateful to have an inside look at what other writers, editors, and agents are seeing an abundance of. It’s the good old marketing-brain in me that loves to know all about my competitors and customers and how I can separate myself from them in both query letters and my manuscript.

So if you think it might help you, too, then make sure to check it out: here and here. And is there anything else you guys see alot of in YA books?

Bonus tip (since I loved Kate’s idea of one): Make sure to check back on Friday for a special announcement about a oh-so-exciting thing we have planned next week to celebrate Valentine’s Week.

-- Emily, Miss Awaiting an Agent

Sunday, February 3, 2008

My Favorite Book as a Teenager

Tip of the Day: Never bet against New York, baby!

A friend blogged on her LiveJournal about a YA novel from the 1920s she picked up at a yard sale and how awful it is. How far we’ve come, she mused. Perhaps, but I have wonderful memories of my favorite novel when I was a teen. It was originally my grandmother’s. I never knew my grandmother; she died when I was 2, so I loved reading her book. By the time I got it, the cover and title page were missing, as were many other pages. As far as I knew, it was the book with no name. And it rocked. Hard.

The book was written in the late 1920s/early 1930s. Inside the book were three “contemporary” stories about a group of teen girls. Each story featured a different friend as the POV main character, ala Babysitters Club.

The first story starred Evelyn, who loved to read books and wanted to be a writer. Like me! What a coincidence! OK, maybe not that much of a coincidence. (Bonus tip: If you want readers to identify with your main character, make her like reading.) But she had the world’s coolest bedroom with a full bookcase and her own writing desk. And she was particular about her pens. How could you not love her? The plot revolved around Evelyn and her friends reuniting an orphan girl with her family based on clues they found in old needlework samplers. There was a general air of “oh, those poor oppressed girls in earlier generations who couldn’t speak for themselves and had to code their knowledge in their sewing!” I got an impression of Victorian teenagers imprisoned in red parlors, slaving away at samplers and seething with thwarted rebellion. No sewing for Evelyn and her friends—they were way liberated.

The second story starred Dorothy, who yelled out windows and made Evelyn look like a wet blanket. This time, the girls were off to a vacation in West Point (which meant they lived near me approximately!) where they encountered—gasp—boys!! They decided to name themselves the Linger-nots. I hated that name, but if it meant they were swooping on the cute boys ahead of the local girls, then I was all for it. Dorothy was always up for adventures with Roger and his buddies.

The third story starred Aline, and the Great Depression was starting to show. To help her family, Aline quit high school when offered a waitress job. I thought the name Aline was the shizzle. The girls were again reuniting an orphan with her extended family. I was willing to overlook the recycled plot because the MC matter-of-factly dropped out of high school to become a waitress. The YA novels published in my teen years never would’ve dared, at least not without a lot of head shaking.

I think this book started my love for YA literature and put me on the path to writing what I write. I had adult books and children’s classics on my shelf, but this old novel that my grandmother and my mother read when they were teens got to the heart of what I cared about: friends, boys, women’s rights, my crappy teen jobs. I read it over and over until it fell apart. About a year ago, I posted about this book on a “lost books” thread on Verla’s [insert link] and a wonderful blue-boarder told me my book was the collected “Linger-Nots” series. The original books are available on the used market for reasonable prices. I always say I’m going to buy them, but I never get to it. I’m afraid in the “real” book, Aline’s name isn’t really Aline and all those missing pages I filled in—probably with illicit meetings between Dorothy and her brother’s friends—have been edited out. Maybe the book reads better as a memory.

What was your favorite book when you were a teen, and when was the last time you read it? Do you think you’d still love it today?

-- Kate, Miss Apprentice Writer

Friday, February 1, 2008

Baby, oh BABY!

Tip of the Day: Sleep when the baby sleeps. And when she's awake, cherish every moment.

I’ve decided having a book published is a lot like having a baby.

You wait and wait for the little bundle of joy to arrive. Some days, you can hardly stand it, you want to see and hold her so badly. But there’s nothing you can do – when she arrives is totally out of your hands.

Once the baby is finally born, you are in awe of the cute little thing, and you want to show her off to the world. Birth announcements and pictures are sent via mail and the internet to anyone and everyone. "Look! She’s here! Isn’t she beautiful!" Well wishes come from far and wide. And it’s a joyful, joyful time.

A couple of weeks later, the flowers are dead, and the delicious food people brought is gone, replaced with peanut butter plopped on a piece of bread and a can of soup, if you can manage to open the can with one hand.

Reality sets in. Having a baby is hard work. There are sleepless nights. There is constant worrying. And there is the work, day in and day out, to help your baby grow into what you want her to be.

Constant questions swarm your brain - Am I doing enough? Am I doing it right? Should I be doing more? What do others do?

Postpartum depression sets in. Once in awhile you look at the baby and think, what have I done? I have no idea what it takes to do this. I can’t do this!

Then, one day, you take the baby out. And someone stops you and says, “That baby is the CUTEST baby ever. Why, look at her smile! You sure did something right with that one.”

Your heart swells with pride. You look at her like you did the first time you saw her. And suddenly, it doesn’t matter that some babies are bigger than her or prettier than her or have their pictures in magazines because they’re so fabulous.

She is here, and she is yours. And it may well be a long road ahead, but in your heart you know, you’ll do the best you can and you promise yourself to remember that’s really all anyone expects you to do.


It’s pretty much exactly like that.

~Lisa, Miss Pinch Me I'm Pubbed