Thursday, September 29, 2011

Anderson's 8th Annual Young Adult Literature Conference Recap

Tip of the Day: Kindle just announced their Kindle Fire tablet, priced at $199. Looks very iPad-ish. Check it out.

The Anderson's YA conference last weekend was absolutely awesome! I had such a great time. First thing I saw when I got there was that they had my new book for sale! Two weeks early. I was so excited to get to start signing it already.

My first panel didn't start until 10 am so following the breakfast I went to see "The Edge" panel. I knew I'd learn a lot since my work is as edgy as a soccer ball.

On the panel were Elizabeth Scott, Sarah Darer Littman, and Jeanine Cummins.

Their books were fascinating and wow, lots of heavy stuff. Kidnapping, murder, rape, internet predators, bulimia...yeah. I kinda wanted to go drink afterward. Just kidding. It really is so different than the light-hearted books I write though. Do you think I'll ever do an edgy book? Hmm. Well, I never
say never.

I also caught the Urban Voices authors talking about their work and reading from their books.

On the panel were Coe Booth, Paul Griffin, Torrey Maldonado, Paul Volponi, and Jacqueline Woodson. Great stuff!

I participated in two panels (sorry, no pics!) with Franny Billingsly and James Kennedy, called Write Down the Street. We represented the local YA authors in the Chicagoland area. They were a lot of fun and the audience asked great questions.

We watched a number of featured speakers. Favorites were Patrick Carmen and the picture of him in one of the priest collared shirts his very catholic mother used to make him (so funny!) and Sharon Draper and her reading the amazing letters she gets from children. I also really enjoyed Lisa McMann (pictured left). Her new book, The Unwanteds looks great!

I had a blast signing books and meeting librarians and teachers. And when it was over I stuck around and stock signed a ton of books (pictured below) for Anderson's. If you're looking for one of my signed books you can go to their web site and order it (or visit if you're local).

It was a wonderful event and I was thrilled to be a part of it!

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Livres en francais! (or Riding on the Me-tro-o-o*)

*with apologies to Berlin

Tip of the Day: Give in to the siren song of the e-reader if you plan to take a long vacation that involves multiple train and plane rides. The freedom of not lugging along books in luggage for 15 days was worth it!

On the multiple Metro rides I took while in Paris for four days, I noticed something very cool: billboards advertising novels along the walls of the Metro stations, right along side the billboards for movies, makeup, and theater productions. Many of them! In fact, I was so exposed to one book that when I saw it for sale in a bookstore window, I wanted to buy it. Then I remembered that I'm not fluent in French.

(See the book, LE PASSAGER, in the picture below)

The Metro is the perfect place for book ads since many people waiting for the train are often bored, antsy, or just looking to pass the time. The billboards could make them think, "Of course! I need to bring a book on the Metro!" And if your Metro ride happens to end in a larger train station that sells books, even better.

A new fun image to imagine: my YA novels selling, being translated into French, and posted on the walls of the Metro! Why not?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Good news for Kindle lovers!

Tip of the Day: spiced cider. Yum.

So Amazon finally wised up and is playing nice with libraries.

Last week they announced that you can now check out books for your Kindle using the Overdrive service at your library.

Despite not having a Kindle, I think this news is exciting. Our library has been waiting for it for awhile. And now we don't have to tell angry patrons with Kindles that the eBooks won't work on them.

But another part of me also wonders what this will do to eBook sales of independently published books on Amazon. After much decision, I decided to try to self-publish one of my older books in eBook format. For the past month or so I've been doing some re-editing and getting it ready for publication. While at the same time still working on newer books to send to agents to try to get traditionally published.

After doing a bit of research of those self-publishing it appears more indie books are bought on Amazon than any other retailer.

Now with this new development, from a writer's perspective, particularly looking to possibly self-publish on Amazon, I'm not sure this will help. Because if people have the choice between $0.99 and free, I'm guessing they will pick free.

I don't think it will kill all the sales, but I do think there will be a slight drop down.

Only time will tell. We shall see what happens.

Does anyone else have any predictions?


Monday, September 26, 2011

Conquering Doubt

Tip of the Day: Did you know about Marvelous Middle Grade Monday? Google that phrase for fantastic book recommendations, interviews, and contests.

I can become overwhelmed with doubt when I'm stuck in the middle of a novel. The beginning is bright and shiny. The end means I get to start something new soon, even if it's just a round of revisions. I prefer revising to writing a first draft, which can be like drawing blood for me. The middle means I have tons more to write and THEN tons of revision work on top of it. I can't do all that work!

So now that I'm stuck in the middle, here are some methods I'm using to counteract doubt:

1. Take advice I give my kids. It's probably good advice or I'd keep my mouth shut, right? Like "Don't say you're too stupid to do that. You're very smart; you're just looking for an excuse not to do it." Or "You're never motivated to do something until you've started doing it." Or my son's favorite: "Soonest begun, soonest done." (By favorite, I mean every time I say it, he rolls his eyes so far back in his head, he almost falls over backwards.)

2. Yoga stretches. When I'm feeling overwhelmed at the keyboard, a few stretches and focused breathing make me feel better.

3. Stop aiming for the perfect first draft. Honestly, that should be in all caps, but I respect your eyes. I write like I shop for groceries: get in everything that's possible so I don't have to go back again any time soon. It doesn't work at the supermarket and it definitely doesn't work for writing. I've been sweating over setting descriptions, and my writing buddies Debbie and Christy said, you can insert them on revision. You know, I totally forgot I'm allowed to do that.

4. Open the Word document. Leave it open. Make it as easy as possible to get going. Trust that someone or something will help me fix whatever mess I put in the file.

I don't think it's that unusual for writers and other creative people to have a list of ways to conquer self-doubt. I'm always looking to add to my list of techniques if you have any tips.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fun Friday: Creative Pen Names

Tip of the Day: check out these creative writing comics by Phil Nelson.

If you are still thinking about Kate's discussion of pen names a few weeks ago, you'll definitely like this one...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Baby Pics!!

Tip of the Day: Are you going to Anderson's 8th Annual Young Adult Literature Conference this Saturday? It's my first time (I'm on two panels) and there is a list of amazing authors attending!

Look what I got in the mail this week! It's a finished copy of Just Your Average Princess!

Sometimes I'm totally on board with ebooks and how easy they are to download onto my ipad and how I can store a ton of them on there and they're so convenient. But then I get to hold a new baby and I fall in love.

Isn't it so cute?! I love the yellow binding with the blue letters and the fun font.

I a million times over love all the vines and stuff all over the back cover and on the inside pages.

I love that they pulled part of the story and put it on the back of the book. And it's a good part too.

And I love the page where I sign. It's so so so cute!

So yeah, I'm awfully proud of my new baby and glad to have her home. Next week I'll post pictures of her first bath, first bottle, and grandma holding her. Ok, no I won't.

Look for Just Your Average Princess in stores on 10/11/11!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Back to Reality....

Arrived home last night! See you on the other side of jet lag with some tidbits I picked up on:

1) my first ebook read

2) good writing and no plot v. so-so writing and a clear plot in published novels

3) book advertising in France

4) browing the YA book section in a London shop
5) seeing YA books front and center in an Italian bookstore display window
6) taking a writing break

Must organize notes and photos!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Love the smell of fall!

Tip of the day: warm cider is magnificent on a nice fall day.

I got too distracted by all the bright, shiny new tv shows to remember to blog this evening.

Oops. Hazards of fall: my favorite time of year!

But every year I love to check out new shows to see what's hot this year. It seems that whatever is popular on TV eventually makes it's way to the Book World.

Loving that there's been a resurgence of comedies in the last few years (and dare I say it, but not as much dark stuff). Hopefully that's a good sign for books!

Some of my favorites so far:

  • 2 Broke Girls: gotta say I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. Set in a cafe, I wasn't so sure. And I was kind of on the fence about Kat Dennings, since I wasn't a huge fan of hers in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. But I think this is a great role for her, and I'm curious to see where they take this show. Had some great one liners!
  • New Girl: they are pushing this one a bit and luckily they were showing fall previews On Demand. Funny enough show. Wasn't as good as I was hoping, but I think it's just because it was the pilot. Hoping this one gets better. And I'm curious to see how the new roommate works out due to the casting change of Damon Wayans Jr. (which I'm completely fine long as they don't cancel his other show Happy Endings now--which I'm avoiding those rumors as much as I can in hopes they will go away, since I really enjoyed the first season of that show as well. Funny stuff.)
Is it a coincidence both of these shows start off with the girl walking in on their boyfriend's cheating on them, which causes a new living situation?


Does that mean if I have a cheating boyfriend book that's a good thing?

Let's hope so!!!!

--Emily, Miss Loving that It's New Season Time

* No this is not me or my dog, but a stunt dog. Unfortunately my dog is not nearly as fond of TV as I am. Hopefully that habit will get broken soon. Because if he's to be a member of our family, he'll have to properly watch TV like this dog.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Keep Your Distance

Tip of the Day: Jennifer Hubbard explains narrative distance in this short and crystal clear blog post.

We are used to getting inside our character's head when we write. What does she see, what does she smell, how does she feel? Describing our viewpoint character from the outside, as if seen from a distance, is the cardinal sin. We want our reader to identify with our viewpoint character.

Except when we don't. Because sometimes we won't. (To quote Dr. Seuss.)

Sometimes we don't want readers to identify with the viewpoint character too closely. Sometimes we don't want readers to like the viewpoint character at all. That's when narrative distance comes in. Terms like "he thought" instead of just typing out the character's thoughts add some distance. And distance can come in handy when we don't want readers to think that our viewpoint character is important past their one viewpoint scene. Here's an example:

Zombie Thomas Jefferson paused. Life had been full of moral dilemmas, and now death was proving just as confusing. He needed brains--oh how he needed brains. But was it right?

Zombie Thomas Jefferson lurched down the hallway of Monticello, groaning, "Brains, brains," as if he were unaware of his grand surroundings.

Both samples describe the same moment in time. If I want you to eventually root for the zombie presidents, I would use example one. If my main character is going to be chased by Zombie Thomas Jefferson in a few chapters, I would use example two.

For a fun exercise, pull a few books off your shelf and open them to random pages. Read a paragraph from each book and rate them in terms of narrative distance, from "totally inside this character's mind" to "as objective as a newspaper article." Which characters do you like the best? In a multiple viewpoint novel, look at a paragraph from a "good guy" and a paragraph from a villain. Does the narrative distance change?

No, it really is a fun exercise, I promise.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fun Friday: Prepare Your Pirate Talk!

Tip of the Day: want to brush up on your pirate speech for International Talk Like a Pirate Day on Monday? Or planning on writing a pirate-themed book soon?

If so...check out this website.

Enjoy, Mateys!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I'm Such a Floater

Tip of the Day: If you're in the Chicagoland area and you're a young adult writer, librarian, or other publishing related industry type of person, come to the first ever Chicagoland Kidlit Drink night this Saturday. Details on the facebook page.

I'm such a floater. If you've ever watched Big Brother (finale was last night! Don't worry, I won't spill in case you've DVRed) a floater is the person who never really commits to one side, just bounces back and forth between the different teams in the house. And doesn't give any of the competitions their all. Because they know they can bounce back to the other side at any time.

Sigh. That's me this week. I can't commit to a project. I'm all geared up to write a new book but which one? I had started a YA before this last book that I wrote but put it aside to concentrate on said book. So it's still there, all pretty and outlined (chapter by chapter too I should add-- I spent tons of time on it). And the first three chapters are polished. I should just pick it right back up and go.

But, there's that new idea that's been nagging at me this week too. I think it would be a great hook and a fun book. But it's starting from scratch. So maybe I should hold off and go back with the one I already started.

Oh, but there's that middle grade too. I wrote a synopsis for it and it would be so cute and fun to write. And I haven't written a middle grade in awhile. I should definitely start there.

See what I mean? I've been bouncing between projects all week and can't seem to settle on one. Do you ever find that you're a floater with your writing?

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The art of writing the title

Tip of the Day: if you read Meg Cabot's blog, you've probably read this blog entry that she re-posts every year about her experiences on the day of 9/11. If you haven't, you should go read it. It's a great summary of someone's experiences in NYC on that horrible day and how it felt waiting to hear from a loved one working near the World Trade Center. And how it's important to never forget that day and all the people that lost their lives and loved ones.

Okay...moving on to something not as serious...

After trying this attempting-to-be-published thing for a few years now, I've grown to realize just how important a good title is to selling a book.

Not only to the public. But to an agent. And to a publisher. And so on and so forth.

If you have a good title, it helps everything.

You'll get more attention with agents. The interest will build. And everyone will want to read the book.

The writing then sells it. But the title get the interest.

But if you are anything like me, you are horrible at titles. Like really bad. You can come up with decent ones, but nothing that really gets the whole body of the book summarized in a cute, concise way.

So much so that I'm tempted to come up with titles before even starting my books. And until I come up with a good title, I won't even start writing page one.

Has anyone done this? Worked from the title first. I imagine lots of people have. But usually my titles start out as "Ally's book," "untitled," or "that one where something happens." Nothing that's inspiring or relatively likely to remain the title of the book.

And then coming up with a good title after the fact is hard. I usually put down random words and try to start making combinations. There there's lots of internet searching for common phrases that having anything to do with my topic that can be modified in a cute way. And 200 potential titles later, there's still no good options. Nothing that seems to fit exactly with the book in the best way.

And so the process continues.

If you are a master title maker, please share your wisdom with us!


Monday, September 12, 2011

How Many Obstacles Are Too Many Obstacles?

Tip of the Day: Editor and writer Rhonda Stapleton has a great post up about what editors are looking for in your main character in the first three chapters. And Karen Berger at CreateWorkLive blogs here about getting rid of dead wood words in your final polish.

So here I am trying to get my characters from point A to point B, and like a good little writer, I am throwing in lots of obstacles. They've lost something important, they've gotten caught stealing, they've been tied and gagged, they've been chased. But it's obvious to me that they have to get to point B sometime, because point B is going to be an interesting place. My readers want to be at point B. How much patience are they going to have if I throw in yet another obstacle?

Because this could go on endlessly, really. Someone can twist an ankle, break a knee. They could get caught yet again. Do I keep letting them get just a little closer to point B and then yanking it out from under them? More importantly, how much of this will a reader tolerate?

I still remember trying to read Lord of the Rings. 150 pages for the hobbits to make it to the tavern to meet the wizard, and then the wizard wasn't even at the fracking tavern. I never picked up that book again.

See, the longer it takes me to get to point B, the more point B has to be Super Fantastic Awesome. But if it's too easy to get to point B, I have a boring book with no tension. How do you find the middle ground?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fun Friday: Random Fun Announcements

If you're in the Aurora, IL area, I will be appearing with a big list of authors at the local Author Fair tomorrow, from 1-4pm. More details here.

In preparation for the release of Just Your Average Princess, I'm going to be giving away some books on Goodreads. Click here to enter to win The Espressologist. An advanced copy of Just Your Average Princess will be available on Goodreads in a day or two. Check my blog then for details.

And, if you're a book club that wants to read Just Your Average Princess and skype with me, check this blog post and if you're one of the first three, I'll send you an arc of the book asap.

Have a good weekend!

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Interview with Danielle Joseph, author of PURE RED

Tip of the Day: In preparation for the release of Just Your Average Princess next month, I'm going to be giving away some of my books over on goodreads. Click HERE and enter for a chance to win The Espressologist.

Today is the release for Danielle Joseph's third YA novel, PURE RED.

About the Book:

Orange is for energy, pink means love, and I, Cassia Bernard, do solemnly swear to find pure red—my passion—this summer. Dad's raison d'ĂȘtre is art. When he's painting, no one can reach him, not even me.

I'm giving basketball a chance. But what I really want to score this summer is the adoration of Graham Hadley—a.k.a. Cutebutt. Then when Dad agrees to mentor Graham with his art project, all of Cutebutt's attention is on Dad—leaving me feeling as colorless as the Miami sky on a rainy day. But I'm not giving up just yet.

Our Interview:

KRISTINA: What inspired Pure Red?

DANIELLE: I have loved art ever since my mom volunteered at my elementary school in the art appreciation program. I wanted to write about someone that is passionate about their art.

KRISTINA: Are there any things you must have when you're writing?

DANIELLE: When I write I like to have a cup of coffee and a comfy chair but not too comfy or I might be inclined to take a nap. I often write from my local Starbucks because there is no pile of laundry staring me down and they usually have good music in the background. I also often meet a writer friend of mine and we can bounce ideas off of each other.

KRISTINA: What advice would you give writers trying to get published?

DANIELLE: I would tell anyone that is trying to get published to never give up. You are never too old or to young to get published. Also, to be a good writer you have to be a good listener. Listen to the world around you and it will shine through in your writing.

Danielle is also running a release contest for a chance to win Pure Red on her Web site so be sure to check it out.

Hook up with Danielle at her blog, facebook, or twitter (@DanielleJoseph1).

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Honeymoon Period (or Things I Love)

Tip of the Day: The LET'S GO travel book series is still my favorite, years after I ceased being a "student traveler."

Today is the first day of my honeymoon! I love my wonderful husband, and I love to travel, and I love Europe. Good times are ahead!

This is also the first day of my honeymoon period with my WIP. I have finished the first draft of the whole book, and sent off my polished opening chapters and outline to my agent to see what she thinks. I will be away from my novel and loving it, not seeing its flaws or anything. :)

I'll check back in a few weeks!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The art of saying "no"

Tip of the Day: hope you all had a lovely Labor Day weekend.

It was lovely to have an extra day this weekend to get some stuff done at home. I had high expectations to work on writing projects this past weekend, and I did get some stuff done. But not enough.

Now I'm trying to carve out more time after work to get writing done, and I'm finding it harder and harder to find the time. Or really the motivation.

Mostly because I'm so tired all the time.

Wah waah. I know. You always find the time to do the things you want to.

But some days it's about all I can manage to take my dog across the street to the park to play catch. Like this evening. Luckily he only lasted about five minutes, which was about all my energy could handle.

So how do you find the energy to write when you are exhausted? And I know all of you are just as tired as me...

Well...let's look at some options.

  • Give something up. That always looks like a splendid idea. But then reality hits and if you are anything like me, then "no" isn't really part of your vocabulary.
  • Throw on the running shoes and force yourself out for a walk or run. Energy has to come from somewhere, and unfortunately exercise is the best way to get it.
  • Get your butt in chair. The preferred method of writers everywhere. Just force yourself to do it...and then usually the energy just appears miraculously.
All of these are potential options. But out of all of them the thing I think works the best for me if I'm really exhausted is just merely give something up. For me that's taking on less responsibility at work. As a self-professed perfectionist, I take on way, way more than I need to at work. I'm not exactly a brain surgeon here: life will go on just fine with two less programs or computer classes this month. It might even work out better!

Which is why my goal in the next few weeks/months is to lighten my load by saying "no" more or merely not coming up with ideas at all. Then hopefully the balance will regain itself and the motivation to work on writing will happen.

--Emily, Miss Here's Hoping for Balance

Happy Labor Day!

I hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fun Friday: Does Your Dialog Suck?

Because this writer says that her's does but lucky for us she has a list of tips to make it suck less.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Get My Motor Running

Tip of the Day: Tyra Banks wrote a YA novel too now. Yep.

Last week I was all ready to go! Jump back into the post-summer hectic routine of school and activities and writing. But, yawwwwwwwn, I'm tired! I don't know what is with me this week but I've had several new book ideas recently and I should be diving into them but I kinda just want to veg and watch Real Housewives of New Jersey. Bad writer! So I'm trying to think of some things that will motivate me to actually start a new book. Here's a list, maybe it will help you too.

1) Get out of the house! Go back to the coffee shops to work. A change of environment is needed.

2) Start doing the writing sprints with writing friends again! It's been a couple of weeks. Too long! Need accountability.

3) Schedule writing time in the family calendar. If it's written down then I have to do it.

4) Jot down an outline. Even if it only has the beginning, middle, and end, it's something. I can always expand on something.

5) Hire a professional nag (does such a thing exist?). I need someone to keep pestering me throughout the day to get to work.

And...I can't think of anything else. I was going to add reward myself with something for doing so many words but I can't even think of something I want. Except maybe coffee. I always want coffee.

Any other ideas for how to get motivated?

Kristina, Miss Author in (not so much) Action