Thursday, September 30, 2010

Interesting Ways to Sell Writing

Tip of the Day: If you put one of those Werthers caramel candies in your mouth and take a swig of apple cider, it's pretty good.

We talk a lot about traditional publishing on here since we're all either traditionally published or getting close. And I feel like I know a lot about publishing articles in magazines and online and how to get short stories published. And I even feel like I've heard a lot about self-publishing and epublishing to understand how it all works. But in the last week or two I came across two ways people are selling their writing that I have never heard of before so I'm going to share.

First came via a post by Karly Kirkpatrick. If you don't know Karly she's a facebook rockstar, blogging goddess, and soon to be epublished author. Her first book, Into The Shadows, comes out November 1st.

The other day she posted on facebook that you could subscribe to her blog on Amazon. As in, you go here, pay $1.99 a month and you can have her blog posts downloaded wirelessly to your Kindle. How cool is that? Maybe I'm a bit behind but I'd never heard of this before. It sounds awesome-- especially with how much work and thought so many writers do put into their blogs.

I had another No Way, That's Cool! moment about two weeks ago. I was at an author fair in Aurora, IL, with a ton of authors and we were having lunch. While I was chewing on a yummy turkey roll I was listening to the fascinating Greg Stolze, writer and game designer, talk about fan publishing. What's fan publishing? Well, here's an example. Greg set a $$ amount on one of his short stories (somewhere between $400 and $500 I think) and fans could pledge money and once that amount was met he released the story for free on his Web site. Interesting right? He has an illustrated serial up right now too. If you go to the pledge page for From The Dragon's Mouth you can see that so far 12 people have pledged $305 of his $500 goal. If you look at one of his roleplaying games you'll see he had 124 backers pledge more than $2500 for him to release the game for free. C'mon, how cool is this?

Have you guys come across any other interesting and untraditional ways people make money with their writing?

Kristina, Miss See Me on the Shelves

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

November Novel Revision Retreat! (or I'm a Sucker for SCBWI)

Tip of the Day: I've previously advertised my enjoyment of Red Cat, but White Cat -- yum for post-revisions! Delicious!

You may remember a few weeks ago when I was deciding whether or not to apply to the SCBWI Falling Leaves Weekend Novel Revision Retreat.

Well, after asking my manpanion if it was crazy to apply for that conference after attending the YALSA conference in Albuquerque the weekend before, he said, "Nah. Go for it." So I did -- and I got it! (Ok, it's possible that only 30 people applied to go so "getting in" wasn't that far of a stretch, but it feels nice to say "accepted" instead of "rejected" as much as possible in this business.)

Pubbed as well as unpubbed authors will be there in attendance -- and I can't wait to network with all of them plus the editors and lovely SCBWI advisors!

The novel that got me accepted is the YA that was my first ever novel that I started rewriting last summer before I went nuts-o writing the FASHION book. I'm excited to have a reason to go back to it and polish it up!

Is anyone else going to Falling Leaves in November?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Casting your characters

Tip of the day: writing a blog post on your iPhone is probably not the most productive use of your time.

One of my biggest struggles with writing is making sure each of the characters have their own voice. I have a tendency to want to make all of them sound exactly like the main character. Usually because I have so much fun with the main character's voice.

But having everyone use the same words and sound exactly the same is not only boring but it's also confusing.

So in an attempt to prevent this is the future I'm going to start casting actors/actresses/ and people I know to play my characters. Then I'm going to try to study what makes their voices unique: either their movie characters or their real life voices.

Do they have a phrase they love to say?

Do they always lift one eyebrow when talking?

Do they stutter?

Do they mumble or talk really fast when they are nervous?

But researching this before the book should hopefully help get my characters down before I even write anything they say.

And modeling it after traits of movie characters or friends and family should hopefully help.

Does anyone else cast their characters?

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Unreliable Narrator

Tip of the Day: Check your tires! You won't regret investing in a portable tire inflator for your trunk.

I write in short sentences. Not necessarily on this blog, where I can be myself, but in my fiction writing, when I'm being somebody else. It's starting to irritate me, actually. I would like to write long sentences full of dependent clauses and adjectives. But my main characters just don't think that way because I'm in love with unreliable narrators.

My main characters lack focus: one gets in trouble at school for angry outbursts and not paying attention. They all struggle with schoolwork to varying degrees and don't see school having any connection to their future. None of them see themselves as very bright.

I'm not sure why I like to write from this point of view. I was a good student in high school myself, an honor roll student who couldn't wait to go to college. Most of my friends weren't though, and my high school friends didn't stay in college for long. I never clicked with the rest of the kids in my AP classes. The things they cared about seemed trivial to me, I guess. In their quests begging for two more points on an English essay, they seemed worlds away from the things my friends worried about: sick family members, money, substance abuse, car crashes. The kids pursuing nothing but grades didn't seem to have the same level of maturity or responsibility. In retrospect, I can see that they most likely did have the same problems the rest of us did. But they sure knew how to hide it from me.

And I guess I'm not all that interested in writing about kids who don't have problems. Who is, right? When you're smart, the world is easier. When you make good decisions, your problems are fewer. So my main characters may not be the sharpest knives in the drawer, but I have fun writing about them. I just have to figure out how to get them to be more descriptive.

What about your main characters? Are they as smart as you were?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, September 24, 2010

Is the grass THAT greener? Thoughts about writing FT

Tip of the Day: Easy A looks like a really good movie for those of us writing books for teens! I may see it this weekend.

This week I read a post on a message board by an author who was feeling frustrated about going to work that day when she wanted to be writing.

I remember those days well. I can specifically remember sitting on the couch with my laptop, trying to catch up on e-mails and do any blogging before I left for work at 8:30. There would be moments when I'd look out the window at my backyard and think, I want to stay home! Why can't I stay home?

It's hard to believe it's been 9 months since I quit the day job.

Most days I love it. I really do. I wrote three books this year, two of which have already sold and been revised. More writing time is obviously a wonderful thing. I also love being more available to my family. I love having more time for things like exercise and occasionally, sleep! But I have to admit, there are things I miss about having a day job. (Granted, I could also do a list of things I don't miss as well, like the commute!)

Anyway, for those who are still at the day job, I thought I'd share the things I miss about working, to help you feel a little better.

1. I get lonely! I'm very much an introvert, but still - working in an office with people and having those water cooler conversations? I miss that!! Not to mention going out to lunch at least once a week.

2. It is SO easy to squander the day away. I watch a little bit of Good Morning America, but I turn the TV off at 8:00 at the latest, so it's not that. It's the dang internet! When I'm into a story I love, it's easier to ignore the lure of the internet, but right now, when I'm playing around, trying to find a story to sink my teeth into, it's hard. And I really don't like the fact that at the end of a day when I didn't do much but play on the internet, I have nothing to show for it. I'm trying to be better about getting off the computer and reading a book if I'm really struggling with writing. Because at least reading a book is time well spent.

3. The routine a day job brings. Yes, there is less time to get things done, but there is something really nice about routine. I'm trying to make my own, and I think it's getting better, but still, it's hard.

4. And of course, the regular paycheck, and the contributions on my behalf into a retirement fund.

Whatever we're doing - writing full-time, working while writing too, parenting while writing - I think we have to realize that there is no *perfect* situation. We just have to do the best with what we have, and be  thankful for those good writing days, whenever they come.

Whatever your writing situation is - do you wish you could change it somehow?

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What's in a Name?

Tip of the Day: Book banning sucks. Check out this recent blog post from Sara Ockler: On Book Banning Zealots & Ostriches.

Quick, on a scale of 1 to 5, how important is the book title?

What was your guess? Me, I'm going to say 4, 4 1/2ish. I haven't thought too much about titles until recently. With my first two books I titled them at the beginning of the process and the names pretty much stayed the same. But I recently needed to give a new title to my book coming out next fall. You might remember it was called Pumpkin Princess. Ready for the new name...


I'm digging it. The book was called Pumpkin Princess for so long that it's a bit hard to switch to the new title in my head but I do think it's cute and more appealing.

I know people are always saying, "Don't judge a book by it's cover." But everyone SO does! In fact, I think your average bookstore browser judges books first on cover, then title, then jacket flap. In that order. The book can be AMAZING but no one will know if the cover is blech. Would you agree?

I participated in two author fair this past week and I can't tell you how many people stopped, looked at my poster, mouthed the words: My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours, and then giggled. They then asked me what it was about or told me stories of their own fake boyfriends. I always liked the title but it was really neat to see so many people react to it.

So tell me, what do you think about titles? Super important or nah, doesn't matter?

Kristina, Miss See Me on the Shelves

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Busy Day at the Library (or What Can I Do, My Dear, To Catch Your Ear?*)

*with apologies to The Music Man

Tip of the Day: Get ready for the Rochester Children's Book Festival: Sat, Nov. 6th, 10AM-4PM. FREE at Monroe Community College. Amazing authors and illustrators will be there.

I recently read another one of those agent blog posts that is like "A Day in the Life of a Literary Agent" and I thought I'd do A Day in the Life of a YA Librarian -- except to do that one must also understand that due to budgets, etc, I am actually the YA/Circulation/Programming Librarian.

Here's a "typical" Tuesday:

9AM -- Arrive at library, boot up PC, head out to YA area before we open (10AM) to fix up displays, straighten shelves, etc.

9:30 -- Field questions from business office staff regarding cash register receipts/payroll/time tickets that are lost/missing/incorrect

10 -- Check voicemails and emails, make reply calls and emails. Get interrupted by Page Supervisor with questions/comments regarding staffing/hiring. Get interrupted by other librarians in the back office regarding patrons/reference/programs/teen volunteers. Forget that I was answering emails and get pulled into filling out Procurement Requests for art contest materials, and calling staff to cover Circ shifts for next week as I hurriedly work on the Circ Desk schedules. Oh, and get phone calls from Circ Desk with questions re: problem accounts, schedules, etc.

12 -- Lunch time! Oh wait, I didn't finish answering those emails!

12:20 -- Go to lunch, usually somewhere that I can read uninterrupted (a.k.a. my car).

1-5PM -- Go to Children's Center for my Reference Desk shift. During this time I will: (a) straighten children's book displays; (b) answer reference questions for kids, teens, and adults, find them materials and place holds; (c) skim through VOYA, Publishers Weekly, blogs, etc., and add more YA books to my order cart; (d) skim through professional journals like American Libraries and Public Libraries; (e) sort through job applications for an open Circ position; (f) sort through program applications and make a note to call performers the next day from my cube; (g) sign kids onto the computers and type in "" and "" for them; (h) check my To Do List and realize I don't have enough time left to do anything on it (create book lists, design program flyers, etc.).

5-5:10 -- Debrief with the night shift librarian on what's been going on, and head back to my cube.

5:10-5:30 -- Clean up the piles of papers I've created and accumulated while at the desk, debrief with remaining staff in the back office, make phone calls that can't wait until tomorrow, reply to emails from my boss.

5:31 -- Head out.

Phew! I'm tired! But the days usually fly by and I just love being around the books and kids excited about them!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Developing your Business Side

Tip of the Day: try going vegan for two weeks. You'll never enjoy ice cream and chocolate as much as you will when you are finished!

We all know this writing business has a lot more to it than just writing. And it's easy to get overwhelmed in the business-aspect of growing a writing career.

You might find yourself in a constant spin of wondering...
  • Do I really need a professionally designed Web site before submitting to agents or editors?
  • How much time should I be spending on Twitter now, before having a book published?
  • How many queries should I be sending a week?
  • How do you write the best possible query letter to catch an agents attention?
So why is it that it's hard to drown out all the business aspects, even when you don't have a book coming out.

1.) you want to be competitive
2.) you want to appear as if you know what you are doing
3.) you want to create buzz that could lead to a book sale
4.) you want to feel you are part of the in crowd.

It's so easy to get lost in all the marketing, advertising, and promotions that you forget about what is most important...the book.

So to all of you in this same boat, maybe we should all make a mass exit off of Twitter, the Internet, and worrying about sales...

And then jump right back into working on our books!!!

And when time permits, then--and only then--can we work on marketing, promotion, and the business-side of things.

Who's with me?

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, September 20, 2010

Brainstorming Ideas: The Plot Web

Tip of the Day: Author2Author celebrates post number 700! Thanks so much for following us!

I bought a workbook for elementary school teachers at a yard sale called Teaching Creative Writing. It's not very helpful for adult writers as opposed to elementary school teachers, but hey, it was only a quarter. I love me some yard sales.

There is a fun exercise in here I'd like to share called the plot web. Basically, you take a topic you've always wanted to write about, write it down, and draw a box around it. Then you draw lines radiating from the box--about 12 lines. Each line ends in a circle. In each circle, brainstorm something that could happen; some kind of conflict.

For example, I always wanted to write a story about motor boats. So if I had boating in my box, what could be in my circles?

1. Stranded at low tide
2. Motor failure/out of gas
3. Catching a big fish
4. Drunk boyfriend/girlfriend tries to drive
5. Fall off boat, almost drown
6. Sharks!
7. Winning or losing a race
8. Fishing/clamming/shrimping for a living
9. Poaching in a black boat
10. Rogue wave!
11. Crash Dad's boat into the dock
12. True story: once a deer swam to my Dad's boat and jumped on board!

For kids, the book recommends picking one of these ideas to write about. But I think it would be more fun to combine a few, don't you? Like maybe my main character's father is a clammer and she lets her boyfriend take the boat out. He has a few beers and crashes into the dock. Now she has to talk the dock owner into letting her pay for the damages without telling her father. Oooh, now let's say that the dock owner's gorgeous son hates her boyfriend. I don't know why yet. Maybe when they were kids, boyfriend pushed hottie off a boat and he almost drowned. So by extension, hottie hates my main character, but his parents agree to let her work off the debt.

Well, it doesn't seem like I'm working the shark into this story. But that's not bad for ten minutes of thought. This isn't a bad method if you've always wanted to write about an interest but you're not sure exactly what.

The best advice in the book is this: "It must be remembered it's a hard line of balance between having thoughts flow smoothly and being conscious of everything that should be included." Doesn't that make you feel better?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wait. Should I really be reading this?

Tip of the day: If leggings did not look good on your short and stocky legs 25 years ago, they probably will not look good now. Yes, I am speaking from experience.

I've been reading some REALLY good books lately.

First of all, I read THE BOOK THIEF shortly after it first came out, but I recently decided I wanted to listen to it in audio form, so I got the set from the library. Wow, what an experience it is, listening to that book being read out loud. 

I finished some Advanced Review Copies of some great books - MY FAKE BOYFRIEND IS BETTER THAN YOURS by our own Kristina Springer; THE MOCKINGBIRDS by Daisy Whitney; and LOSING FAITH by Denise Jaden.

I'm currently about two-thirds of the way through CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare. Holy crap, that girl can write!!!

So this morning, when I sat down to start in on a brand new project, I had a really hard time! All of these great books made me feel so inferior. Like - I will NEVER be able to write as good as these people, what am I doing even trying?

The first couple of hours were rough. Eventually, I found my way and stopped thinking about all of the wonderful words THEY had written and was finally able to focus on my own.

I think reading good books is important. I learn a lot from well written books. But at certain times, they actually hurt me more than they help me, if that makes sense. 

Anyone have a crappy book to recommend after I finish CLOCKWORK ANGEL? I need something to make me feel a little better.

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Top 5 Reasons Why it's Super Cool to Have a Second Book Out in the World

Tip of the Day: Pictures of my first book signing for My Fake Boyfriend is better Than Yours are up on my blog, check it out.

#5: That awesome feeling of seeing the book in a store for the first time-- it never goes away!

#4: The swag is much cooler the second time around! Maybe it's having more practice?

#3: I love the first signing! I like all the signings because I love meeting people, especially readers, but that first signing is always so special because friends and family and devoted fans come out to help celebrate.

#2: While signing copies of my new book last weekend, a few people were carrying my first book (Espressologist) in their hands. This made me giddy for some reason.


#1: That fear we authors carry after putting a first book out, the OMG, can I actually do this again? Maybe the first time was a fluke! Maybe I was just lucky! That whole thing goes away. Pretty much.

Kristina, Miss See Me on the Shelves

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Revisions Fried My Brain (or Um, Uh...Right)

Tip of the Day: Favorite recent read besides Tina's MFBIBTY: SIREN by Tricia Rayburn. A paranormal that stays firmly rooted in reality -- my type of fantasy!
It also makes me wonder if there's hope for one of my water-related YA drawer novels....

My WIP, "PF", was primarily "finished" on Sunday night! WOO HOO! From start to finish, this writing process (with tweaks still needed but nothing major as of yet) took about 8.5 months. And it's my longest book ever! My brain is tired. And fried. And Sunday night I couldn't sleep because it kept whirring for hours while I lay in bed from my marathon writing day.

That said, I can write nothing else coherent right now, and am going to do some critiques and get my brain into others' WIPs! Yay!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Black Abyss of Writing

Tip of the Day: make sure to check out the new 2011 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market book. Not only is it a great resource, but the lovely Carmela Martino wrote a great article about group blogs, which includes some quotes from us!

Making time for writing is hard for everyone, but now I’m in the flip side of this and I have all the time in the world for writing. And I’m finding out that sometimes when you have too much of a good thing, it can get overwhelming too. Kind of like you are swimming around in a black abyss and don't know which direction to go.

Lisa wrote a great blog entry awhile ago about how hard it is to turn your writing brain off. I couldn’t agree with this more. But now I’m finding out it can be just as hard to turn it on. At least effectively.

When you go to a day job you have people around and you get there at a certain time and you leave at a certain time. It’s a lot easier to trick your brain into thinking you should be working. But when you are in your home, it can get challenging to motivate yourself. Maybe it’s just me and my procrastinator brain that never likes to get anything done until it absolutely has to be done, but sometimes when I sit down to write, nothing happens, even if I’ve been thinking about my story for hours. It’s like I need to clock in to actually be productive. Trick my brain into thinking, “Hey Kiddo, you shouldn’t be staring at the blank screen or re-alphabetizing your books, but actually working.”

When I had a day job, there was a lot less time, so it was easier to get focused. Which is probably why I’ve always been much more productive when I have a busier schedule.

So I’ve made a pact to do that very thing for the next few weeks. I’m going to figuratively clock in a certain number of hours each week and then clock out when I’m done. And in between, I’m going to fill it with as much stuff as possible that’s not writing related.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, I’m going to be trying to figure out why when writing the quote above I immediately thought to call myself Kiddo.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, September 13, 2010

It's OK to Not Be Happy All the Time

Tip of the Day: Feeling blue? Read through some of your early writing and pat yourself on the back when you see how much you have improved. Practice really does work.

If you're like me, and like most writers I know, you don't like to admit it when you feel discouraged. Rejections are supposed to happen, and writers are supposed to shrug them off. As for the discouragement of being stuck on a plot or not being happy with the pages you've written? Complaining about that is, well, nothing but complaining. Nobody's making you be a writer at gunpoint.

Writing means giving up family time, so for me, the last people I want to complain to are my family. They are the ones who live in a messier house, don't go out for movies with me, and watch me spend household money on writing classes and conferences. It seems like it would take a lot of nerve for me to make them listen to me complain about writing on top of everything else.

But last week, I couldn't take all the disappointment anymore and I broke down to my husband. Ugh, I've been writing for so long, why aren't I better at it?! Why is it still so hard for me? Will I ever sell anything? Do I have an ultimate goal here or am I just kidding myself?

And my husband was very surprised that it took me so long to talk to him. Keep going, he said. Don't keep it all inside. The people who love you want to support you. We believe in you.

Then he booked a babysitter and made reservations for us at a trendy restaurant.

So the lesson I have learned is one I have had to re-learn many times in my life. It's fine to ask the people you love for help and support. It really is. I can't always be Super Spouse or Super Parent. It's okay for the people around us to see that we try our best to achieve our dreams even when it's a huge effort--and that sometimes, this effort requires a little pampering.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, September 10, 2010

Looking back at this revision process

Tip of the day: To print out your manuscript so it looks like a book (and saves on paper), go to Format, Columns, then select two. After that, change the set-up of your page to landscape and your line spacing to single spacing. I find reading the book this way helps me read it differently and I often find things I want to change I didn't see before.

I am happy to report my revisions are finished!

This book required some big changes. Lots of scenes had to be deleted and new ones put in their place. I was really nervous going into it, because I liked what I had and I worried I was going to ruin the book.

I think this is often what we fear when we go in and make changes. What if we make the thing worse, not better?

What really helped me was to draw out on a piece of paper 24 boxes, with each box representing a chapter. The chapters that didn't change, I wrote in what their purpose was (develop the plot, develop the characters, or both) and the big thing that happened in that chapter. Then, with the boxes where things were going to change, I wrote in pencil what I needed to have happen, and ideas around the scene(s) that would get me there.

One character became a lot more present during this revision. My editor liked him and said - more, please! Okay then. More. But if he was going to be a bigger character, I realized I needed to figure out what he wanted. Every character wants something, not just the main character. And I love it when characters' desires compliment each other or contradict each other. In this case, what he wanted came sort of organically, as I played around with a scene, but it ended up working really well, and tied in nicely with my main character's desire. I hope it works, anyway. We'll see what my editor has to say.

Anyway, each time I revise, I learn something. And the more times I do this, the more I realize that it's during revision when the real book is really written.

So yay, I'm done! Now I get to clean the house. Although there's that new idea I've been pondering...

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Setting up a Book Signing

Tip of the Day: Congrats Soap Box in My Mind! You won MY FAKE BOYFRIEND IS BETTER THAN YOURS. E-mail me your mailing address at: Kristina at KristinaSpringer dot com.

I find that I blog on here about whatever is hogging up the most space on my brain at the moment. And at this moment it's book signings. Specifically my first signing for My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours. It's this Saturday, 9/11, from 2-4 pm at the Bolingbrook, IL Borders so if you're in the area stop by! But for today I'll talk about how to set up your own book signing.

1) Scope out bookstores in the area you're interested in signing in. Usually independent bookstores love to host authors. But the chains will too, sometimes.

2) After you've googled a phone number for the bookstore you're interested in, call and ask for the events coordinator.

3) Introduce yourself and your book. "Hi, I'm Awesome Author and my new book, Bound to Be a Best Seller comes out in October from Kick Butt Publisher. Would you be interested in having me come for a book signing?

4) If no, thank you anyway. Can I come by and sign stock sometime?

Note: The theory floating around the authorverse is a signed book is a sold book so stock sign whenever you can.

5) If yes, great! Set up a day & time and decide what you will be doing (Talk? Read? Both? Meet & Greet? Just sign?).

6) Advertise your book signing. Post on your blog, twitter, facebook etc. Send a note to the local newspaper for their calendar/events section (it's pretty easy to find e-mail address for this kind of thing online.).

7) A few days before the signing, check in with the bookstore. Is everything set? Did they advertise you were coming? Did they order enough books?

Note: Bring your author copies in your car. If they sell out of their stock you can bring in your books for them to sell and the store will replace your books at a later time.

8) Check your closet. Do you have something cute to wear?

9) Arrive early the day of the signing. Bring any giveaways you have (bookmarks, stickers etc.), any signage you have (cute posters?), your pen to sign with, your camera, and if it's a launch signing you might want to bring a treat for the readers (cupcakes, cookies or whatever).

10) Have fun! Smile pretty!

Kristina, Miss See Me on the Shelves

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My Revision Process (or My Revision Process This Time)

Tip of the Day: Feeling nostalgic for junior high as school starts up again? Watch this movie again. Sing along with Cyndy Lauper!

By approximately this time next week, my YA WIP will be ready for my agent! I'm so excited about this book; it's been a blast to write. Let's go through a little time line of how I wrote and revised this novel, shall we?

Fall 2009 -- Brainstormed idea with agent. She liked it. Made notes and preliminary chapter drafts.
Jan 2010 -- Wrote about 30 pages. Kept brainstorming. Needed a title for the book/TV show in the book. Attended SCBWI Conference in NYC where Jane Yolen unwittingly provided me with my title in her keynote speech! Score!
Feb 2010 -- Edited 30 pages. Sent pages to Em and Tina for our meeting of the minds in Chicago. Revised some more. Sent 30 pages to agent who said to keep going.
March 2010 -- Wrote more book.
April 2010 -- Wrote even more book. Also, bought a house and prepared to move.
May 2010 -- Writing of book wanes as packing and moving gears up, but I start sending chaps to the Helper Monkeys CPs and taking in their feedback.
*MEANWHILE! Rejections come in on MG on sub and my motivation to get the YA WIP to my agent increases!*
June 2010 -- Helper Monkey Writing Day takes place and serious revising of first 100 pages or so based on Helper Monkey notes is completed. Woo hoo! I start to feel really good about this book.
July 2010 -- Wrote more book, sent more pages to Helper Monkeys.
August 2010 -- Wrote a ton like a mad woman with a writing itch! Finished the draft! Sent almost all of the book to Helper Monkeys.
September 1-8, 2010 -- Began revising like a mad woman, using notes I'd written to myself as I wrote and notes from Helper Monkeys and HM meetings. After revisions were completed on chaps 1-20, I sent them to my other CPs, Em and Tina. While my agent reads the book, I'll make some of their suggested changes as well.

So as of now, I have about 20 more chaps to edit, a handful more of chaps to get feedback on from the Helper Monkeys, and then all will then be sent to Em/Tina for the check of the polished pages. Then off to the agent!

I have to say, if I could always be this focused, man, I could be super writing productive. And this process of passing pages from one set of CPs to another for fresh views on revised pages has been working really well.

What has your revision process been like lately? Has it been working well?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Book Hype and Tourist Traps...oh my!

Tip of the Day: Don't forget to leave a comment on Kristina's post last Thursday for your chance to win her latest book!

There’s nothing better than a good tourist trap. Like Dinosaur World or the Wall Drug store and it’s famous ice water. A giant sculpture of Babe the Blue Ox or the World’s Largest Toilet.

Or even the one I went to over the weekend The Mystery Spot. It’s a place in northern Michigan where I’ve travelled by tons of times and always wanted to stop. You can’t miss the hundreds of signs advertising it every ten feet or so. It promises to be a piece of land discovered by three surveyors in the 1950’s that defies the laws of physics and gravity. A place where a person can climb a wall and tilt precariously in the air without falling. Or balance on the edge of a chair on the side of a wall :)

Classic Tourist Trap behavior!

Instead it was a dilapidated old building built on the side of a hill in various angles. So when you are on the inside, the sloped ceiling, floor, and sides create several visual effects that play with your eyes. Not exactly what I was expecting, but it was still tons of fun. Because they play up the “mystery” of the place so much, you can’t help but laugh and have a good time wondering if anyone is actually believing this.

In contrast, there’s nothing more that I dislike when a book is so hyped up and you sit down to read it you are left completely disappointed. A book that you’ve heard about on all the blogs, one recommended by your friends or family, and one that has so many holds on it at the library you can’t help but think it has to be the best book ever if so many people want to read it.

And usually when this happens--if I even bother to read the book at all--I’m always disappointed. Even if it was a good/decent book. The hype is just hard to live up to. When you go into a tourist trap, you basically know what to expect. You know it isn’t going to be as good as it says and that’s part of the fun. But with a book, it’s harder to tell. Maybe I just need to lower my expectations, and then every book I pick up I’ll go into thinking it can’t be as good as everyone says, and then I won’t be disappointed. Or I just need to stop listened to people who tell me “I have to read this book.” Because I know enough of my own tastes to know what I’m going to like and what I won’t.

But sometimes it’s just so hard to resist—the pull is too much. And you have to know what everyone is talking about. Can Lauren Conrad actually write a book? Hmmm…I’ll have to check that out.

I guess that’s how best sellers are made.

Maybe all of us just need to purchase hundreds of billboards all over the country and advertise our books every 10 feet and we’ll be a bestseller in no time!

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Top Ten Things I Don't Like About Revision

Tip of the day: Have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend. School starts up for my kids next week, which means I'm back to my third (or is it fourth?) part-time job, that of Homework Assistant. Oh joy.

It has been a week of revision for me. This is me revising:

I know revision is a necessity. I know it makes the book better. I know it's a wonderful thing to have an editor tell you what to do to make the book sparkle and shine.

But it is hard.

Really, really hard. Sometimes it's harder than others. And this time? Pretty dang hard.

Here is my top ten list of things I don't like about revision.

10. About halfway through, you start to question everything. Everything! It can become almost paralyzing, because you have this urge to erase the whole freaking file and start completely over.

9. It makes you focus on all of your weaknesses.

8. Because it makes you focus on all of your weaknesses, you start to feel like you really suck.

7. That sucky feeling makes you reach for the crappy food, because crappy food comforts you.

6. Because you're eating the crappy food, and sitting at the computer for 12+ hours a day, you start to gain weight.

5. Sitting at the computer for 12+ hours a day not only puts on the pounds, it also gives you raging headaches.

4. A raging headache means when you finally get off the computer, you are absolutely no fun to be around and your family wants nothing to do with you.

3. When you finally go to bed at night, hoping for sleep that will bring relief from the misery and pain, you toss and turn, plot struggles and character issues refusing to leave you alone.

2. Each passing day means more suck, more fat, more crankiness, and less sleep.

And the number one thing I don't like about revision.

1. It is messy. It is rip your book apart, throw the pieces on the ground, mix them up, throw some of them away, try to find new ones that fit, messy. I hate messes!! And then there's the mess that accumulates around the house while you're revising, too. See?


I better get back to it. I have a lot to clean up.

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Release Week and GIVEAWAY!

Tip of the Day: Check out the way cute ad my publisher is running for Fake Boyfriend-- I love it!

YAY!! MY FAKE BOYFRIEND IS BETTER THAN YOURS came out this week! I'm so excited! And I've been getting lots of good reviews from all the biggies- Kirkus, School Library Journal, PW, and Booklist so I'm a happy girl! In case you're not sure what the book is about, here's the blurb:

Seventh grade was supposed to be fun, but Tori is having major drama with her BFF, Sienna. Sienna changed a lot over the summer—on the first day of school she’s tan, confident, and full of stories about her new dreamy boyfriend. Tori knows that she’s totally making this guy up. So Tori invents her own fake boyfriend, who is better than Sienna’s in every way. Things are going great—unless you count the whole lying-to-your-best-friend thing—until everyone insists Tori and Sienna bring their boyfriends to the back-to-school dance.

I'm giving away a copy of MY FAKE BOYFRIEND IS BETTER THAN YOURS this week on A2A! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post between now and next Wednesday night at midnight EST. Thursday morning I'll announce the winner in my Tip of the Day.

Kristina, Miss See Me on the Shelves

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Keep Reading, Please! (or I Will Follow Her, Follow Her Wherever She May Go!*)

*with apologies to Little Peggy March

Tip of the Day: Lactose intolerant? Going low-fat? Don't underestimate the power of Haagen Dazs sorbets. YUM! (Mango, raspberry, peach, strawberry!)

I was chatting with Tina the other day and expressed my concern that perhaps people who have been reading A2A since its inception in 2008, when we we claimed readers would be following the careers of five writers in five different stages, might think that is not really what's happening.

Why would I think that?

Um, because I've been Subbing for Pubbing for 2.5 years maybe? Ha! How's that for writer growth?

Over that time, I've had two MGs on sub, polished another YA (that neither agent loved but oh well, it was fun to write and my friends like it!), started rewriting my first YA, and am done with the draft of a new fun YA.

And I haven't sold anything yet.

Am I stagnating, I wondered, in the world of Subbing for Pubbing? Yes, I want to sell a book, but I am OK with being here -- but blog readers are like "What is going on with that girl?"

Tina, wise and thoughtful girl that she is, said no; that it was important for other writers to see that it is a long journey, that we each do have different paths, and that as long as I keep writing and really am Subbing for Pubbing, others can revel in the fact that there is nothing wrong with it taking time to sell.

And you know what? She's right. For those who hae followed me on this journey so far, the experience will only be sweeter when I DO sell and you can all celebrate with me. I've read that the average length of time to sell a book is 7 years from when a writer first seriously pursues publication. I started writing kidlit in 2004, and began subbing for pubbing to agents and some editors in 2006, so I'm around the 5 year mark. That gives me two more years to be average. And you know what? As much as I want to sell a book, I'm OK with that.

I hope you are too, readers, and you'll keep sticking it out with me!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing