Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What I Haven't Read (or What's Old is New Again)

Tip of the Day: My libary's summer reading is online this year -- check to see if yours is too!

Tina's post last week got me thinking about "classic" books that everyone has read -- but me. While I did read and enjoy THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, here's what I haven't read:

--anything by Jane Austen (I tried P&P once but only made it in like 5 pages)
--A WRINKLE IN TIME (though I loved WHEN YOU REACH ME and swore I'd read AWIT right after....)
--anything by Agatha Christie (her books are still on the middle school's summer reading list in my town)
--ENDER'S GAME (though my manpanion read it as an adult)

I know there are more, but these are ones that come up regularly.

To put things in perspective, I've read 81 books so far this year (I read 200 last year, and about 160 the year before), so I read constantly. But it takes a lot for me to pick up a non-new book since the new stuff is what I hear buzz about and what I need to be able to recommend for book lists and teen readers who stop into the library.

I also feel like I want to be on top of the "what's new and popular?" bandwagon, not going back to catch up on popular stuff I missed. Like, I never owned a real Cabbage Patch Kid as a child but I wouldn't get one now; instead I'd stock up on those plastic bracelets that look like animals when they aren't stretched out (what are they called?).

Still, I really should read at least AWIT and EG before the year is out, right?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

When agent searching is like going on a blind date...

Tip of the Day: Michigan really needs to get a Sonic, because I’m craving cherry limeades way too much lately.

Having just gotten back from a wedding, I have relationship fever. You know that feeling when you start to think about your own relationships and reminisce about all the big relationship-milestones in your own life. It’s sort of hard to get away from during weddings when all your family likes to share how they met, fell in love, and then married. But if you are like me, and love a good love story or stories with happy endings, you don’t usually mind.

But I do have to admit it has gotten me thinking that finding an agent is kind of like being set up on a blind date (at least I assume it is given the fact I neither have an agent nor have been on a blind date or even a first date in over twelve years. But based on things I’ve heard it sounds very similar to me.)

Basically you are never going to know what it’s like dating, or in this case working, until you actually meet someone and give it a try. For example, if your agent feels like only submitting a manuscript once a year and you have completely different views on this subject than you might not make a good match.

But you aren’t going to really know this until you work together.

Sure, just like a blind date, you can ask friends or other clients to get their experiences and find out more about the agent. But they might have completely different viewpoints on aspects of publishing and look at stuff differently than you.

All this to say that with publishing you have to keep an open mind.

We all like to think we know exactly what the perfect “match” is going to be when we meet them. You might think you want someone tall with dark hair that likes to take long walks on the beach. But in actuality you click with someone that’s short with blonde hair that’s deathly afraid of water. You just never know. But if you keep an open mind, you have much more to choose from and are open to the possibility when the right agent that meets your needs and also “clicks” with your books does come along.

Image from:

Monday, June 28, 2010

So How's the Summer Schedule Going?

Tip of the Day: Set ground rules for your tween's first cell phone, such as "The phone should not be used as a pager for Mom when you're too lazy to walk downstairs."

Two weeks ago, I unveiled my summer schedule. No more baseball practice! No more piano lessons! Instead of taking my kids to activities, I planned to use the time between dinner and the kids' bedtime for writing. Why not? It was basically free time in my schedule. What could possibly go wrong?

So let's check in on my summer writing schedule progress. The first thing I did last week with my scheduled time block was

... buy a bike! Well, okay, that's not writing, but I really need the exercise. A bike will make it easier for my exercise not to interfere with my writing time. So the next thing I did was

... challenge my husband to ladderball! That qualifies as exercise too, right? No? That's alright, I can catch up on writing time over the weekend. It rained all day on Saturday. Perfect writing weather. So I

... took the kids to see Toy Story 3.

Alright, I have no excuse for that one. Obviously I have trouble sitting still in the summer, especially after working in a cubicle all day. It's time to remember that writers have to give things up to write. The time will never land in my lap. I have to wrest it away from summer fun. So last night I did the only reasonable thing I could.

I went to the lake. Ooh, pretty herons.

-- Kate, Miss Summer Slacker Who Needs to Get Sick of Nice Weather ASAP

Friday, June 25, 2010

I love my idea journal!

Tip of the day: I will be talking books, reading and signing at Vroman's in Pasadena on Thursday, July 1st at 7:00 pm. If you're in the area, I'd love to see you!

Last fall, I read THE MAGICIAN'S ELEPHANT by Kate Dicamillo. Now, while it wasn't my favorite book of hers, I still really enjoyed it. There was something a little bit magical about it. And after I closed the book, I had this longing to write a book that felt magical in a way. I can't describe what I was thinking or feeling. But I grabbed my idea journal and I wrote down these words:

A story in the garden.

Events happen in and around the garden, a beautiful flower garden.

There is a bird.

There is a gypsy.

There is a girl and a boy.

There is a mother.

There is a king.

The bird ties everything together

Since then, I've written many other things in that journal. But always, I came back to that page, and thought, what is the story on this page? I want to find it. Someday.

Recently, when I became frustrated with a novel I had been writing for a few months, I flipped open my idea journal, like I often do, to see what I might find. And again, I paused on that page I had written months and months ago. And suddenly, things started coming to me.

I finished writing the book recently - it's a middle grade novel. Once I started, everything came together in a very magical way and I love, love, LOVE the story I ended up with. Not all of the things listed above ended up in the book. And some things are a tad different from what's listed above. My agent has read it, and she loved it as well. YAY!! I have some minor revisions to do on it before it's ready to go, and I've been swamped with other stuff, so haven't gotten to it yet. But hopefully it will be ready for submission soon.

When I bought the journal on etsy, the girl making it asked me what quote I'd like put on the inside, for inspiration. I chose this one:

Do you have an idea journal? Have I tempted you to try one if you don't? I highly recommend it!

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Reading: Had Me a Bla-ast

Tip of the Day: Like iced coffee but don't like the watered down taste after you throw in ice cubes? Make coffee ice cubes the day before with your left over coffee. Then as they melt in your ice coffee today it won't be watered down.

What's on your reading list for the summer? This week I'm reading Catcher in the Rye because it's this month's book club selection for the fabulous book club I'm in.

And, you might not believe this, but I've never read it. I know other people joke they've read it 100 times. And I've read books that made this type of reference, like King Dork, but nope. I never actually read this one. This makes me feel like a bad author. Good authors would have read Catcher in the Rye years ago right?

Is there a book that everyone else has read a million times but you never did? Confess now! What well-known/loved books should every author have read? I need to build my summer reading list.

Kristina, Miss See Me on the Shelves

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Beginning Again (or Chapter 1! We can have so much fun.*)

*With apologies to New Kids on the Block

Tip of the Day: Want to laugh? Read WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON by John Green (of course, the master of dialog hilarity) & David Levithan.

I recently rewrote Chapter 1 of my WIP after spot-on feedback from my crit group (who shall now be referred to as The Helper Monkeys).
(Photo from
I started again on a brand new page with a brand new setting and brand new characterizations. This was after I'd written about 60 pages of the book.

I think part of the problem with my initial Chapter 1 (and my C1s in other works before Helper Monkey interventions) is that us writers hear that we need to start "in the middle of the action." So I jump into the main conflict/action too soon -- before readers get to know the characters in their regular lives. In order to relate to characters, to sympathize with their situations, readers like to see characters in their "regular" environments first so we can then compare how the main conflict changes them when it happens.

Really what the "in the middle of the action" advice means is that the character should be doing something -- not waking up in the morning and thinking about the day ahead, not driving alone down a lonely road contemplating life; she should be arguing with a boyfriend, burning the breakfast for her parents anniversary meal, some action. A mini-action, if you will, before the inciting bigger incident that sets off the plot of the book.

If readers hadn't seen Harry Potter living under the stairs and instead the book started with him being sent immediately to wizard school, we'd lose a lot of sympathy for and understanding of Harry.

In my case, I switched my WIP from opening right at the fire that burns down the diner to the MC and her boyfriend at his house having a slight disagreement before heading out to see the fire.

In my MG on submission, I switched from opening right at tennis tryouts to the MC arguing with her dad at the bakery about being allowed to go to tennis tryouts.

So this is all what I will keep in mind when write future Chapter 1s. And when I inevitably rewrite them.

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer Water Books

Tip of the Day: it is not a good idea to attend a Backpacking Around the World program at your local library when you are in the middle of a move and shouldn't be spending any money. Not a good idea at all.

This week is the first official week of Summer Reading at our library. Since it's water, water, water everywhere around here, I thought I'd share some of the books (related to water of course) that you might enjoy:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Blog Etiquette: I'm Following You, I Think

Tip of the Day: Starting to query? Check out this great post on starting at the top and doing the research at Writer Beware.

There are a lot of blogs I'd like to read. There's a lot of everything I'd like to read. I'm a reader. From time to time, I get worried that I'm doing this blogging and reading thing wrong. I'm a reader and a worrier. But what if I'm not following accepted blog etiquette?

Mostly I worry about technology. (I'm not going to leave a comment on your blog selling you something or calling out your politics.) Many times, I read your blog post and don't leave a comment. I nod to myself and think, "Yes, I enjoyed that," but I don't go through the word verification process to comment "yes." But you'd probably like to know I'm reading, right?

So then I should be your follower. And I want to be your follower. I use Google Reader. It has a Subscription list of blogs I've "subscribed" to with a subfolder of blogs I'm "following." I have no idea what the difference is! What if I accidentally "subscribe" instead of "follow" and the blog owner can't see me? What if someone who comments regularly here is thinking, "That Kate, she won't follow me, what a snot." Because somehow I'm subscribed to you instead. Are there people subscribed to me that I don't know about? Um, probably, given how confused I am on this distinction.

If you comment here, I've tried to go back and follow you. I'm probably reading your blog or your twitterfeed. So here's my chance to say: if it doesn't look like I'm following you, would you mind letting me know? Because I can see what my Google Reader looks like to me, but I can't see what it looks like to you.

Any tips and tricks on blog following are appreciated!

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, June 18, 2010

Writing, you are always on my mind

Tip of the day: Need a book to read? Here's a 40% off coupon for Borders - go buy a YA or MG book you've been dying to read!

Most of the time, I love being an author. I love writing, I love hearing from readers, I love talking with other authors.

But one of the things I don't like very much is that it's really hard to turn the job of author "off."

If I'm not writing, I'm thinking about the book I'm working on. Or I'm thinking about what I should be doing promotion-wise. Or I'm thinking about how I need ideas for the next book. Or a million other things.

The problem is, I rarely take a day off. Because Saturdays and Sundays are good writing days since I get up early and my family sleeps in, so I can get a few hours of good writing in during that time. I may not do much else the rest of the weekend, unless I'm on a deadline, but nonetheless, I'm still doing some work 7 days a week.

I'm beginning to realize that this is not a good way to live. I have to start designating "days off" for myself, and stick to it! It's hard though, at least for me. Because even if I say - okay, no working today (which of course I do tell myself from time to time), it's hard to turn the brain completely off. It likes to drift... back to the story, back to the characters, back to the world I've chosen to leave behind.

I think I need to take more longer vacations, because that's when I can really relax and leave it all behind. Fortunately, we have one coming up soon, at the happiest place on earth. I can't wait!!!

So, I'm wondering. Is this just me? Do you have the ability to shut it all off and really take a break from the job of writer?

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, June 17, 2010

More on Success

Tip of the Day: Kate was talking on Monday about the need for more funny YA books. I found this great list of funny YA books here.

I was all set to blog about something entirely different today and then I read Deena's post from yesterday. And it was great! The line that I liked the most was the last one:

"And with or without a publishing contract, I am a YA/MG novelist."

And it's true. I've read a bunch of Deena's books and she is most certainly a YA/MG novelist (a great one at that!). And I love that she says it proudly to the world. Here's why. I remember before selling that first book I never told people I was a fiction writer. Like, I thought I wouldn't be believed if I didn't have a book in my hand to show as proof or something. My own family (not my husband but everyone else) didn't have a clue that I even wrote fiction books until I told them I signed with a literary agent. Why did I do that? I don't know but I know a lot of writers do that when instead we should be open and tell people.

And then you think after you sell that first book you'll be forever content because you finally made it after all that hard work, and don't get me wrong, it is awesome. But then, at least for me, I find I'm always comparing myself to other authors now. I want to sell more books. Sell more foreign rights. Sell movie rights. I want to sell a series. It just goes on and on and on. So when do you officially call yourself a "success"? What's the line?

I'm going to agree with Deena on this topic-- we each have to make our own definitions of success.

Kristina, Miss See Me on the Shelves

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What is Success? (or "You're the Best! Around!"*)

*With apologies to Joe Esposito

Tip of the Day: Write outside during nice weather for a change of scenery and fresh inspiration -- and to make you feel like you're not missing the summer by sitting at your PC.

"Success" means different things to different people. To me, it means accomplishing the goals that I've set for myself, the goals that I have control over.

In writing, it means taking myself and my work seriously. It means creating work that says what I mean to convey, creating work that entertains my CPs and reader friends.

It does not mean signing a publishing contract.

Yes, I WANT a contract! I would LOVE a contract. Don't get me wrong here, people! I may be waxing rare sentimentalities here, but I haven't lost my mind. :)

But as far as being a success at my writing, a contract is not a measure.

And this weekend, when my manpanion's band Filthy Funk played two super hot sets at the Rochester International Jazz Festival, played the best they have ever played for 1000 people, they succeeded.

No, they don't have a contract with a record label for their fabulous self-produced CD, but whoever saw them in action would never deny that on Friday night, they were a huge, rocking success.

Watch a song from the performance here and here.

Yes, they would also like a record deal for in order to spread their music to more of the masses, but with or without it, they are musicians. And with or without a publishing contract, I am a YA/MG novelist.

Keep on working and success will come!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

When titles just aren't working...

Tip of the Day: Today is the last day to enter Kristina’s My Fake Boyfriend Is Better Than Yours contest on her blog.

Your book title is probably one of the most important aspects to any book. Not only does it have to be catchy and make people want to read it, but it has to represent the tone of the book and be fairly easy to remember. It’s also probably not the best idea to name your book Twilight, since there’s a really popular book out there by the same name (maybe you’ve heard of it?)

With all these things going on, when trying to title your book you might feel slightly overwhelmed.

People have told me titles get changed all the time, so they aren’t that big of a deal. But when trying to sell your book I do think it’s important to have a title that sticks out in the crowd. That just might be the thing that gets an agent or editor to look at the book. And it might be the one thing that clenches the deal. Because with great titles like these summer or recently-released books, how could you not want to read them?:

  • The Dead Tossed Waves
  • Forgive my Fins
  • I Know Pronounce You Someone Else
  • Only the Good Spy Young
  • How to Be a Zombie: A Hands-on Guide for Anyone with Brains
  • My Little Phony

Coming up with a good title, however, is not nearly as easy as looking up other books with good titles. If you are struggling with titling your own work, maybe you could try one of these:

  • Go to the library and browse the shelves. Does anyone else’s title spark inspiration for your own?
  • Reread parts of your book. Are there any phrases or combinations of words that would make a great title? You might have already come up with a great one and not even realized it.
  • Try a common phrase, and twist it. Just like Ally Carter does for all her books, the newest one being Only the Good Spy Young.
  • Think of the theme of the book and what you want someone to come away from it.
  • Write down a ton of words that make you think of your book, then start combining them in different combinations and see if you like anything you come up with.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, June 14, 2010

I Think I Have Dark and Edgy Overload

Tip of the Day: Google your website or blog name every once in while to make sure you haven't been hacked. Here's more information at Inkygirl.

Has anyone seen the new ALICE IN WONDERLAND? What was that? Sure, it was visually stunning, but I expected the combo of Alice in Wonderland and Tim Burton to add up to something with a sense of humor. I mean, Alice in Wonderland without wordplay! Really, Mr. Burton? There was more humor in SWEENEY TODD. And possibly fewer decapitations.

Why does absolutely everything have to be dark and edgy these days?

Maybe it's just me. I've always written funny novels, and now I'm writing one where I can't insert jokes and obnoxious dialogue without breaking the tension and atmosphere. It's killing me. I'm taking it out in other areas of my life. Like today at work, someone wanted to know what to do with unassigned pages, and I suggested origami swans.

Fortunately, I'm reading Michelle Jaffe's BAD KITTY, which is the perfect antidote for overdoses of gloom and doom.

I'd love to know if I'm the only one sick of black book covers and the epic, humorless struggle of evil against possibly-not-as-evil. I sincerely hope we do not leave the graduating classes of 2010 with their only memories of humorous entertainment consisting of ICarly and The Suite Life of Zach and Cody. Oww, that thought made my brain hurt.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

EDIT: I just realized time is ticking away on Tina's MY FAKE BOYFRIEND IS BETTER THAN YOURS contest. Today's the last day: take a look!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Amazon, Sales, and Returns - OH MY!

Tip of the day: If you think tracking Amazon rankings is a fun way to pass the time, is a web site you can use to make a list of books and compare their Amazon rankings.

Yesterday Tina talked a little about the craziness of Amazon checking, and I thought I'd follow up on that and talk about why it is authors do this, even though it is totally crazy-making.

Publishing is not just a business that is slow on the front end - waiting for responses to submissions. It is also slow on the back end. Most authors don't have any idea how their books are selling until months, perhaps even years, after the book is released. Why? Because royalty statements only come out twice a year, but not only that, they reflect a period of time that was months ago. Before I show you an example, understand when I say "most" that's because if your book is selling extremely well, you'll likely know that. If you hit a list, like the NYT list, of course your editor is going to call you! And if your book goes into a second printing fairly quickly, you'll probably be notified of that also. But beyond that, it can be very hard to know exactly how your book is selling.

So, let's take a look at my second book, FAR FROM YOU, which came out December, 2008.

Now, for those of you who don't remember what was happening in December, 2008, that was back when the financial market was on the verge of collapse, companies were laying people off right and left, and it pretty much felt like the floor was about to fall out from underneath us. So, a good time to have a book released? No, not really. But what could I do? That's the thing that authors have to understand - so much of how a book sells is beyond our control. Whether the chains pick it up or not, whether a cover screams "pick-me-up!" or cries "what were they THINKING?" or a hundred other things is all beyond the author's control. And the economy at that point, when my second book baby was released, was completely out of my control.

Was I curious how much it was going to affect sales of my book? Yes, absolutely. Wouldn't you be?

So, all I had at that point was Amazon. And I could tell within the first month that FAR FROM YOU probably wasn't doing very well. While rankings don't mean anything per se, and I've been told by a professional in the industry that Amazon sales are only 2% of total sales, I think they do give us a general gauge as to how a book is doing.

In the first month that I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME was released, the ranking most of the time was below 10,000. And I think anything below 10,000, and you can be fairly certain your book is selling well, both on-line and out in the real world. And that was true for that book, because after just one month of being released, it went back for a second printing.

As far as the rankings for FAR FROM YOU during that first month? I was lucky if it got below 100,000.

So, fast forward to August, 2009, and this is when I got my first royalty statement for FAR FROM YOU (9 months after the book came out). It listed the sales for the months December 2008 - March 2009. And that's when the reporting period stopped for that statement. The problem, though? At that point, it didn't take into account returns. That is - bookstores order a number of books. And your statement will show those orders as "sales." However, the bookstore has the ability to return books that don't sell, and that's probably going to happen AFTER the first 3 months of a book's release.

So, I had to wait all the way until February, 2010 (1 year and 2 months after the book came out) to see the next six months (April 2009 - Sept 2009) to have a better picture of what was happening with the book.

And guess what? Quite a few returns! The publisher holds back some of your royalties because of the return issue, so they do expect it at some level. But until you see the statement, you have no idea how it all played out.

Some authors will have their agents or editors check bookscan, which is the database bookstores report sales to, and find out how retail sales are going. The problem with that for us who write for kids and teens is that often, a book's total sales will be off by 25-75% when talking about bookscan, because it doesn't take into account school and library sales.

Since my last royalty statement, FAR FROM YOU has made the Texas High School Reading List. It's also been rereleased in paperback with a new cover. I'm hoping those two things will help with the sales.

I'll let you know in a year or so. And in the meantime, I'll try not to let my Amazon rankings drive me too crazy!!!

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Why Amazon Ranks are Like a Crazy Old Drunk Aunt

Tip of the Day: Fabulous post on the importance of having a style sheet here.

I'm an Amazon Rank Checkaholic. Ok, really I'm in recovery but I think like other aholics once you are one you are forever-- just fighting the disease. I use to check my Amazon rank 1.2 million times a day. At least it felt like that. Lately, I've only been checking it maybe once every 3-4 weeks. And yes, I'm so proud of myself for slowing it down like that! I think the gum has helped a lot. Want to know why I'm kicking the habit? Because it was driving me crazy/messing with my head/wasting writing time. That stinkin' rank would one minute be at 89,000 then later be at 550,000 and then oh look now at 17,000. The emo rollercoaster was taking too many hills and dips with each new number. And what did it really mean anyway? Did I sell a truckload of books at 2pm and that's why my rank was awesome? Doubt it. So today I decided to find out the meaning of the Amazon rank.

My research:

First I checked out this guy.

I'd like to start by saying I don't believe any of this. I think he's just guessing. And what's an "Expert Author" anyway? But seriously, I've seen rank changes every hour so his theory on ranks over 100k changing only once a day doesn't hold. And his chart that shows you have to be ranked in the 100s to be selling 200 books a week? Uh uh. I've sold 200+ books in a week and my Amazon rank never made it anywhere near the 100s. So ignoring this information...

I came upon this article. Here she says very simply, "Your rank is how many books on Amazon are selling more copies than yours."

Ahhhh, this makes sense. I can see this. There are SO SO SO many books on Amazon so like she points out, if you're ranked at 14,000 then that means there are 13,999 other books selling better than yours right now. She also goes on to explain the crazy fluctuations. She says if your book suddenly jumps by 100,000 you didn't just sell a TON of books. You maybe sold two this hour. But the other people you just edged out? They maybe sold one or none. So yay you this hour. Next hour? You're so going down!

See what I mean? This is crazy making stuff. I say we all ignore Amazon rankings from now on. Who's with me? Go to my Web site and sign my pledge. Oh, sorry, had an Oprah moment there. I don't have a pledge. Let's just all give a collective nana nana nana to Amazon rankings!

Kristina, Miss See Me on the Shelves

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sittin' in the Waiting Room (or I'm Gonna Fight for What I Wanna Be*)

*With apologies to Fugazi

Tip of the Day: Check out my manpanion's labor or love: his band's debut music video Breathe!

I am going to take this moment to publicly announce that I am still patiently** waiting to hear back on my wonderful revisions on my MG novel that my lovely agent subbed this past fall and winter.

I know industry pros in editor world are working hard, and are overworked and understaffed, but here's a little hint from my little blog to the universe that it's been plenty of time for us to hear back, no matter what the outcome.

And no matter what the outcome, I am working on my next awesome book, a YA, and will sub that and then a next book and a next book. Because eventually I WILL hear back and it will be good news and all of this time in the waiting room will have been worth it.

What are all of you waiting for?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

**Relatively speaking

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The things you can learn on Wikipedia!

Tip of the Day: Wikipedia is sometimes not your friend :( Boo.

In an attempt to be more organized this summer, I actually had a blog post and idea ready to go today. But then my husband sent me a text message this morning, and quite frankly it was too funny not to share.

We are in the process of moving to another state. With that comes all the packing, planning, and the fun of finding a new place to live. We originally had an apartment lined up, but as I’ve gotten further into the job search, we discovered we might have to move a bit farther out from the city to be halfway between both of our jobs. So this morning, my husband was researching one of those small towns on Wikipedia, and came across this gem of a paragraph in the town’s local history section:

“Recently, scientists have discovered a time portal under a local farmers porch that leads to the Middle Ages on Planet 3GHJ8 in another dimension. This dimension is still being searched upon, it may either be the 8th or 9th dimension.”

Now I like to consider myself open-minded. As an avid reader, I love to suspend reality and believe anything is possible when reading a good book. But my hunch is telling me, someone is playing a joke on the good readers of Wikipedia.

And it is funny. It certainly gave me a good laugh this morning.

But it was also a great reminder that sometimes not everything you read on Wikipedia is fact. And for those of us that use Wikipedia as a resource (which face it all of us have done at one time or another when looking up a small bit of info. It’s just so darn easy and convenient not too), it’s nice to remember to go to other sources as well!

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Picture borrowed from:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Summer Schedules Anyone?

Tip of the Day: Uh-oh, I've been reading about how the brain works again. The more you train yourself to positive thoughts, the more they overwhelm the negative, reducing stress-related wear on your neurons. So say something nice to yourself today!

I've been experiencing technical difficulties today, and I haven't been able to post all day. So I apologize for the lateness and I'll make this short and snappy.

My kids have less than two weeks left of school!

Now I work outside the home all day while they're at school, so their school time never could be my writing time. Summer means more free time for me. No more homework, no more Scout meetings, no more saxophone lessons, no more baseball practice or choir concerts or packing lunches.

Of course, it also means good luck getting the kids in bed before 10 p.m. So I'll have to shift my writing schedule. Instead of writing after they go to bed, my new plan is to kick them out of the house after dinner and write until the mosquitoes drive them indoors.

Have you planned out your summer writing time? Does it change for you--or do you live in one of those states where school ended weeks ago and the kids are already in your hair during your writing time?

Whatever your plan is, I hope you dare to come up with one. If you know when your writing time is supposed to be, I think you'll have a much better chance of showing up at the keyboard regularly. So what's your summer schedule?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, June 4, 2010

An interesting twitter story

Tip of the day: Don't forget #kidlitchat happens on twitter Tuesday evenings (9pm EST, 6 pm PST) and #yalitchat happens on twitter Wednesday evenings (same time).

So, every once in awhile, I put in one of my book titles in the little search box that sits in the right-hand column of twitter. Because, come on, it's fun to see what people are saying about my books in 140 characters or less. Every Friday, I try to remember to share one of my favorite tweets from the week, because some of them are just fun!

But then, a funny thing happened this past week when I searched on my title. Someone tweeted to someone with "Edit" as a part of their twitter name, and one of my book titles was in the tweet. Only problem was, the rest of the tweet wasn't in English. I put the tweet into the handy dandy google translator and determined that the language was Portuguese, and the person had been asking the editor if they might consider publishing my book in Brazil. I looked up the company the editor was with and it looked like a good one, with some well-known books published by them.

Here's the funny thing. The past few weeks, I've gotten a few e-mails from readers in Brazil, wanting to know if they could have a copy of my book to read and review, because they've heard such good things about it. Apparently, Brazilians can order it from Amazon, and some have, but it's expensive. I told one person I'd do it, just because she was VERY convincing and told me she'd try and get it some good exposure, so it could perhaps be published over there. (Yes, this was a different person than the one tweeting the editor).

Anyway, I'm not very shy when it comes to twitter for some reason. So I tweeted a reply to the girl as well as the editor and said, "Brazilian rights are available..." The editor immediately tweeted back to me and asked who she should get in touch with about acquiring the rights. I told her to contact me through my web site and I'd provide more specific information.

We e-mailed back a few times, and then the next day, she told me she was talking to the sub-agent in Spain and things were off to a good start.

I don't know yet how the story ends, but even if nothing comes of it, I still think it's a cool story. One that does show the power of twitter!!

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Contests: Love em or Hate em?

Tip of the Day: My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours comes out in less than three months!! Release date = August 31st. Help me spread the word and get the chance to win a cool prize pack! Contest details here.

I'm sure you've seen the book contests all over the Internet: comment here for a chance to win _____ (free book(s), gift cards, critiques etc.). (See the tip of the day above for my current contest.) Generally they are posted by authors on their blogs/facebook etc. Often book bloggers will hold contest on their sites as well. Usually to enter you're not asked to do too much- anywhere from comment to follow to repost something on your blog. You've probably noticed that we've done them here on A2A too.

So here are my questions:

As a reader, do you like these contests? Do you enter them? What would make you enter a contest? Before I sold my first book I loved entering contests for free stuff. But that's me. I'm not sure people pay too much attention to contests now. Am I wrong? I'm hoping so.

And now to authors/and others who host contests on their blogs, do you like holding contests? Do you think they're worthwhile? What do you think makes a successful contest?

Sometimes I wonder if there is such a thing as having TOO many contests. When your book first comes out people e-mail a lot asking for books to giveaway on their blogs. As Lisa's mentioned on here before, we get a few books for free but we have to buy the books we're giving away. Which can get expensive. And is it such a good thing to be giving away fifty of your book for free anyway? Is there a point where readers will think SIGH, her book is in a contest AGAIN?

Can you tell I have contests on the brain? Feel free to weigh in on one or all of the questions above-- I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Kristina, Miss See Me on the Shelves

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Skype! (or Hiding Safely Behind My Keyboard)

Tip of the Day: Search through Kate Messner's blog for tips on Skype author visits!

On Thursday at my local RACWI meeting, author Kate Messner will be Skyping with us about how she successfully teaches, takes care of her family, and writes picture books, chapter books, and middle grade novels. Although my own PC doesn't seem to agree with Skype, I actually love the idea of using it for author visits on both the giving and receiving ends.

First of all, Skype is free!

Second, you can traverse great distances in a matter of seconds through the miracle of the internet. No long car trips to get an author into your library, classroom, meeting, etc.

Third, when I some day have my own pubbed books to discuss, the anxiety that accompanies doing a "visit" is so much less when you are doing your talk from the comfort of your own home.

And fourth, as a librarian who has hosted author visits at my library, it is kind of embarassing when you don't get the turn-out you hoped for to come see a fab author and it feels less of a burden when the author is on the big screen instead of in the room. :-o

There are tons more reasons why Skype is fab. What have your experiences been with this software?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Checklist for Editing

Tip of the Day: If you are in the final stages of your editing, check out this article from RT Book Reviews on tips for self-editing your work.

As a self-professed Lover of Lists, I make lists for everything: to do lists, lists of favorite recipes, lists of books I’ve read, lists of books I want to read…you get the picture.

So it’s only natural that in my editing process I started to create a checklist of items to go through when reviewing my manuscript. Because if I used the word “towards” 153 times in my last manuscript, chances are I used it excessively in my current work as well.

The article I linked to in the Tip of the Day above provides a great overview of large-ticket items to review when editing: make sure each scene has a goal, conflict, character motivation, your unique voice, etc. And then tightening your prose, check the obvious grammar and spelling issues, and that all your plot holes are fixed.

Those are all excellent things to have in a checklist, but sometimes there’s just things that you need to check personally. Those are the things that I like to build my list for editing around. Because if I don’t write it down, then I’m never going to remember them.

For example, I have to:

  • Check to make sure each of my characters have a unique voice, since I like to make them all sound just like the main character (because I usually think she’s so fun and has a great voice, that I think everyone should be just like her :)
  • Check my overuse of words: towards, but, so, in other words, etc.
  • Make sure my sentences make sense. In real life, my husband likes to tell me I speak my own language, which is true. I have much more fun making up my own sentences and words. Unfortunately, not everyone always understands them, so I have to make sure they are readable to the average person who doesn’t speak Emilyese.
  • Double check that my character’s growth makes sense, is believable, and happens in a logical fashion.
  • Make sure every page contains the word chocolate
And about a hundred other things that critique partners constantly tell me I need to work on. Having them all in one place to remember to do them, makes life much easier!

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

P.S. I’m totally kidding about bullet No. 5. I only wish I could do that to my manuscripts. Wouldn’t it make them so much more fun if you could? Mmmm…chocolate!