Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Enough is enough...

Tip of the Day: I started doing something I swore I'd never in my life resort to...keeping a food journal. But I have to admit its sort of easy with this app. All I have to do is search for foods and click to add to my journal. With all the hard work technically done for me, it's been enlightening and kind of fun. So for a few short weeks (or i.e. until the fun runs out), I'm going to give "MyFitnessPal" a try.

Every writer knows that revision is a necessity.

But just as important is stopping.

Because if we don't stop revising at some point then there would be no great books on the shelves or books for us to cuddle up with and read by awesome looking fireplaces like these.

However, determining when to stop revising always seems to be the tricky part.

Sure you want to stop after:
  • Changing everything you get comments on that resonate with you.
  • Reading your work multiple times. Preferably out loud. And correcting anything that doesn't sound right.
  • And then after completing a final round of edits, even after what you thought was your last round.

But how do you know you're done?

I think the best indicator is your gut. If something deep down is telling you that one aspect still isn't "quite" right, then you need another edit.

If that feeling goes away. Or you feel that there is no possible way you could make something better then you are ready to stop revising (at least temporarily until you get more comments :)) Because if all you are doing is changing things instead of improving, then chances are "enough" might very well be "enough."

Image from: http://cheezburger.com/View/3010085120

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, January 30, 2012

Secrets in YA and MG, or the Character in Ignorance

Tip of the Day: Are you following Kristina's blog? She's running a giveaway of a signed hardcover, has news about her YALSA honor, and more!

Here's a secret about me: one of my pet peeves is when people think the difference between Middle Grade and Young Adult writing boils down to sex, drugs, and rock and roll. No! There are huge thematic differences between the genres. Middle grade characters are learning who they are and what makes them unique; young adult characters are figuring out how they affect the world.

Let me illustrate this with the role of secrets in middle grade and young adult novels. Take family secrets.  Your family has skeletons in the closet. Think about how old you were when you discovered them. Were your parents really able to hide big secrets from you until you were 16? Some secrets do reach that level, if they're very taboo.  But divorces and adoptions or (as I see in manuscript submissions) secret societies and superpowers? Even the most self-absorbed teen is interested in his or her family history. It's practically part of self-absorption.

If Dad is an evil overlord with a secret lair, your typical sixteen year old will have a few clues, at least. You're probably dealing with a middle grade novel, and adding sex and drugs won't instantly morph it into a young adult novel.

Secrets you may see in young adult novels:
-- things the entire family doesn't know yet. In Sarah Dessen's DREAMLAND, the main character's parents don't know why the oldest daughter has run away, so we believe that the main character doesn't know it, either.
-- unsolved crimes. These should be plausibly unsolved by everyone, without leaving trails of forensic evidence.
-- conspiracies by the entire society. In GONE WITH THE WIND, the male characters conspire to keep from the young ladies back home how badly the Confederacy is losing the war. This conspiracy extends to newspapers, political speeches, and intimate relationships.

Secrets you may see in middle grade novels:
-- family skeletons in the closet that have been hidden from the main character by the adults in the family.
-- secret societies or groups of people, such as witches and wizards in Hogwarts. "You have magic powers but your family didn't tell you" is very much a middle grade trope.
-- neighborhood secrets that some people know about, but not all. Haunted houses, secret places in the woods, urban ruins ripe for exploration, teachers or neighbors with double lives.

In other words, the young adult character should reasonably know just as much as the adult characters, even if she is as self-absorbed as Scarlett O'Hara. Or at least that's my opinion. Do you agree?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, January 27, 2012

Editing the Indie Novel, Part One

Tip of the Day: Going indie doesn't mean you should go it alone. Surround yourself with a tribe of talented writers.

Okay, I wasn't going to do this right away, but it feels like a discussion of editing should be the next step. The reason I hesitate to tackle this topic is because nothing in e-publishing leads to more anger and arguments than editing.

Self-published novels have a bad rep for being poorly edited. In some cases, it's deserved. As epubbing has evolved over the last couple years, editing has taken on a whole different face. I wouldn't recommend anyone ever epublish without extensive editing.

Just. Don't. Do. It.

Today I'm going to tell you a bit about my editing practices

Here's my process:

1. I write the whole novel
2. I edit & rewrite
3. I edit & rewrite again
4. Then I send it out to Angela Carlie, who is the ying to my editing yang. She has a deep understanding of all of my writing foibles and she's not afraid to tell me when I've royally screwed up. She points out every zit, every freckle, and every stoopid mistake in my manuscript. Getting back any less would be a disservice to me. I WANT to be aware of every problem. Otherwise, what's the point of editing? (note: I just wish I could learn not to repeat the same mistakes over and over - I'm trying)
5. I cry, debate quitting writing, and eat a lot of chocolate
6. Then I edit & rewrite
7. I send the manuscript out to several more readers
8. I edit & rewrite
9. Then I start my proofreading chain - I send the first third of the book to one person who proofreads it. Any mistakes s/he finds, I correct. Then I send that segment to another reader while sending the first reader the second third of the book. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. I run my proofreading through at least three readers in this fashion so by the time the last person gets the book, it's hopefully squeaky clean.

Oh - each one of these readers is different. I never ask the same person to read the same manuscript twice. It's so easy to become comfortable with a book. I want my editors & proofreaders to come at my work with 100% fresh eyes. (My love & thanks to Karly, GP, Magan, Kim, Margaret, Tim, Marcia, Mark, Kate, Cherie, Teresa, David, Eugene, and OMG I know I'm forgetting people - if I forgot you, please email me and tell me and I'll add you in!)

Do I claim to be perfect? No. Do I think everyone will 'get' my style? No. I've been trashed by some readers for editing - while other readers praise the exact same style choices. Again, it leads back to the idea of subjectivity and enjoyment when a reader reads.

I think sometimes the casual reader with little experience in editing doesn't understand the difference between style choices and poor editing. When I edit other people's work, I am heavy into editing of punctuation and grammar. I don't often touch on style unless it's something that's glaring, like an author's tic versus a character's tic (which is something Angela taught me to find). Then I will say something. I usually try to let the author's style shine through because I feel that's what makes indie novels so special.

Okay, I could go on for years on this topic. Check out me & Ang below. The longer you're around me, you'll learn I have a slight obsession with FaceinHole.com. Ang & I haven't met in real life, but we've been internet friends for years now. :D

(Pssst....my first novel, Anathema, is free right now on the iBookstore - go download it if you're interested)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tweet Your Favorite Author Day!!

Tip of the Day: There is still time to enter my contest for a signed hard cover of Just Your Average Princess. It's easy! Go to my blog to follow me and comment here to let me know.

I've been having a very good e-mail/facebook/twitter week. By this I mean I've been getting super nice notes from fans, parents, and librarians and it's awesome-- many smiles this week. And it made me think that we don't tell authors enough how much we like their work. Sure there are reviews posted on Amazon and Goodreads but outside of dedicated bloggers, a lot of people don't take the time to post a review after they've finished a book. I know I don't do it nearly enough. #Guilty

So, by the power invested in me by, well myself, I hereby declare today,


Let's spread some author love. All you have to do is go on twitter and send out a tweet to your favorite author(s), telling them that you love one of their books. Here's an example:

@megcabot, your Airhead series is amazing! Love it!

Need to find YA author's twitter names? Here's some great lists: Mitali's, Mashable, and Reader's Ink. Or just google search your author's name and twitter.

If you want to include a hashtag- #TYFAD.

Go forth and tweet!

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

ALA Youth Media Award Winners (or Silver and Gold Writing Lessons)

Tip of the Day, Librarian Edition: If a library fine of less than $1 appears erroneously on your account, please make sure your freak-out to the library staff is monetarily equivalent. It is hard to take you seriously if you are foaming at the mouth over 50 cents.


Just wow.

None of the books that the Printz Club read made it on the Printz list this past Monday, and overall I only read one of the Printz books. I read about 150 teen novels last year -- how could I miss them?

In other news, my TBR pile now has four more titles on it. :)

One of the Newbery Club books made it onto the list, but only two honor books were chosen in addition to the Newbery winner.

You can see here that my predictions and wishes were wrong or not granted.

But congratulations to all of the winners, especially to the authors who books my Newbery and Printz Clubs read:

BETWEEN SHADES OF GREY by Ruta Sepetys (Morris Honor)
WONDERSTRUCK by Brian Selznick (Shneider Award)
OKAY FOR NOW by Gary Schmidt (Odyssey Honor)
INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN by Thanhha Lai (Newbery Honor)

As a writer, I look at the winners above and hope that I can channel the parts I love from them:

--Ruta's historical accuracy and chilling setting
--Brian's daring storytelling techniques
--Gary's emotional truth and complexly layered characters
--Thanhha's powerful brevity and lyricism

Did any of your favorites win? What have you learned from their writing, or what do you hope to achieve?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

5 Tricks to a Revising Mood

Tip of the Day: need a good stress relief? Check out some of these aromatherapy products. Cheap and effective!

If you are like me, then you have to be in a "certain" mood to revise. At least revise well. This magical mood makes everything flow better. It not only sparks ideas of paragraphs to move around, but the right words also start coming to you quicker than a Real Housewife can cause drama.

But knowing how to get in that magical mood can be a bit more challenging. Here are my Five Tricks to try when wanting to get in the revising mood.

1.) Get active: a good workout of the whole body definitely encourages the brain to get active as well.

2.) Get calm: my personal choice I mentioned last week: a nice long bath. It not only helps me think, but it calms my mind which makes my revising more productive.

3.) Get sweets. Enough said!

4.) Get focused: one of the best ways I've found to get in a revising mood is to not finish everything in the last revision session. That may seem counter productive, and unfortunately sometimes it is. But usually if I have an idea of what I'm working on when I sit down and have a game plan of how to attack it, things will go much easier. The harder part is knowing just how little you can leave undone that will motivate you to get back to your project later. For me, that's usually only one or two paragraphs of text that needs revised. Once I start that the next time around, I'm in the mood already and its easier to tackle the next forty pages of revisions.

5.) Get your booty in the chair. That's really all you need. Once you've done all the others the last trick is that you have to make time for revising. This is sometimes very hard. Especially when a marathon of the Real Housewives of Orange County is on. But resisting the urge and getting your butt in the chair is half the battle.

(Now if only I could find a booty chair like these, I'm sure I'd be in a revising mood all the time. Because who wouldn't be motivated to sit in one of these all the time? :) )

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, January 23, 2012

So Not a Morning Person

Tip of the Day: Shameless self-promotion tip: check the story of my acceptance letter for Highlights Magazine at MiGWriters.

So I hate mornings. I hate how early my kids have to catch the bus, I hate that I have to physically drag them out of bed, I hate having to walk the dog in freezing weather. But it seems like I'm the most productive when I write first thing in the morning.

The thing is, I have so many other things to do: clean the house, write blog posts, freelance work, watch the kids, cook, read emails and blogs, look for more freelance work. If I start my day doing "the stuff for other people," it easily fills my whole day. But if I start off with my own writing, then I'm motivated to power through it because of all that other stuff hanging over my head. I'll knock out a scene in an hour or hour and a half, knowing I have lots of other things I need to do in the afternoon.

The only drawback is that I'm so not a morning person. It's easy for me to lie on the couch with a cup of tea, promising myself I'll write after breakfast. Or that I'm too groggy to do anything that requires brain cells. Most mornings, though, writing before I do anything else really works.

Now I just have to figure out how to write for longer periods of time without the "OMG I NEED to do stuff for other people first" syndrome kicking in.

When do you get your writing done?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, January 20, 2012

Choosing Your Path: Traditional or ePublishing

Tip of the Day: If you're a writer, join Pintrest. It's a great place to find inspiration for far-away settings.

(note: I wanted to originally make this post a quiz, but I couldn't find a good widget for that. If you know of one, let me know because I was quiz-obsessed as a teen. Like quizzes in magazines titled 'What Kind of a Kisser are You?' not math quizzes.)

Before I get too deep into posts about the technicalities of epublishing, I wanted to help you figure out where you belong first. It's not as simple of a decision as you might think. ePublishing is NOT about giving up on traditional publishing (many are still hoping to land an agent who can procure additional venues for their books). It's NOT about making gobs of money (most don't on both sides). It's NOT about  being a control freak (most of us hire out things like covers and editing).

The decision comes down to how to stay true to yourself and your goals. There isn't a right or wrong answer. What I'd really like to do is break down some of the barriers between traditional and epublishing. There's a lot of anger coming from both sides as they spout off about who is better. Guess what? Neither is better - they are just different. Different goals = different path to publishing.

Here are some things to ask yourself:

1.  Is my need to see my book on a bookshelf at Barnes & Noble greater than my need to get my books in readers' hands?

In self-publishing, we can releases books our own schedules. Many traditionally published books take a year, or more, to get to the bookshelf.

2. Do I want to just write, leaving all the extras to the professionals or am I eager to stick my hands in the dirt and manage every aspect of the publication process?

This is really at the heart of self-publishing. There are many writers who just want to write and not be bothered with the minutae of publishing. That's a perfectly acceptable reason to go traditional. There's a ton of work on the business side of self-publishing. Not everyone wants to be bothered with it.

3. Do I need recognition from the establishment or am I content to letting my books speak for themselves?

This may be one of the largest obstacles to self-publishing: how we perceive the quality of our work. Many people think self-published = crap. It's not always true. Bottom line is: You will never please everyone. There will always be someone who doesn't like your book, even if you get the traditional publishing stamp of approval.

I know this isn't a huge amount of questions, but I think that these are really the three most important. There are obviously far more differences between epublishing and traditional publishing. If you're seriously considering coming over to epublishing, you have to be willing to dig in hard, especially where marketing and editing are concerned (not that those are a cakewalk in traditional publishing).

It's not an easy choice for many to make. It wasn't for me. It took me months to come around. Almost one year later, how do I feel about my decision? I wouldn't change one moment of it. I love epublishing!

This discussion always reminds me of the Kia Soul commercial. Who doesn't love rapping hamsters?!

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Do You Dream of Having a Writing Cottage?

Tip of the Day: Twilight fans, did you know you can get a replica of Bella's engagement ring? 

I don't know what it is about us writers but I think we all secretly want a writing cottage. Fess up, do you? Ever since I first saw Cynthia Lord's cottage in her blog. And Laurie Halse Anderson's too. (Watch it. The video is AMAZING.)

And I've been following Kimberley Griffith Little's construction of her new writing cottage on facebook for awhile now. Click through to her blog here and then click on her journey and you can see the pictures from the very beginning.

Cynthia Lord posted a video of her critique partner's Toni Buzzeo's gorgeous writing cottage. I dare you to watch the video and not call your husband/significant other and beg him to build you one. 

How cute is this writer cottage?


Though I might feel slightly like a hobbit. Ooh, now there's an idea-- a hobbit house!


Ah, who am I kidding? My best chance is one of these.

Better get the kids to work.

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Job is Awarding III (or I Predict Literary Greatness!)

Tip of the Day, Librarian Edition: Keep your email address up-to-date with your public library. It cuts down on library system costs to email you rather than call or send a snail mail notice, and libraries can use all the financial help they can get.

It's award season! While people across the country are discussing who wore what and who won which Golden Globe Sunday night, I'm awaiting Monday, January 23 at 7:45 Central Time to hear the Newbery and Printz winners!

I discussed the Newbery and Printz Club reads, but now to prepare for the official decisions!

Based on a verbal sampling of the kids from both clubs, it seems that for the Printz, they want IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Suma to win, but think SHADES OF GREY by Ruta Sepetys will win. And for the Newbery, there is more of a mixed bag but WONDERSTRUCK by Brian Selznick is high on the list.

My personal opinions? For Printz I'd love to see:
3. EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS by A. S. King (which came out too late in the year to make the Club's short list)
4. HOW TO SAVE A LIFE by Sara Zarr (ditto note above)
5. BLOOD RED ROAD by Moira Young

And for Newbery I'd love to see:
1. OKAY FOR NOW by Gary Schmidt
2. CLOSE TO FAMOUS by Joan Bauer (ditto note above)
3. THE AVIARY by Kathleen O'Dell
4. BIGGER THAN A BREAD BOX by Laurel Snyder (wasn't on the Club's short list)
5. HOUND DOG TRUE by Linda Urban (also wasn't on the Club's short list)

I'd rather see WONDERSTRUCK win the Caldecott for its illustrations than the Newbery for its story (the illos for Rose's story are brilliant).

What are your predictions and/or the books you'd love to see make the lists?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The many joys of revising

Tip of the Day: want an interesting quick read? Check out this list of things from a 1911 The Ladies’ Home Journal on what they think life would be like in 100 years.

Revising is never fun, and it seems to be an ongoing learning process on discovering the best way for me to revise a current work-in-progress.

Currently, I'm working on revising based on feedback on the book, so I’m going about stuff a bit differently.

Here's what I've done:

  • Printed out the feedback and made a bulleted list of the main items that need work to keep by me as I read through the book.
  • Read through a printed-out version of the manuscript and made notes throughout. I rarely print out my manuscripts, but I wanted to be able to quickly go back and forth between chapters to make notes on things once an idea came to me. To make this even easier I printed out two pages per sheet and single spaced. Not only did it save paper and the small text made me read more carefully, but it made it super easy to find chapters I wanted to mark-up after the fact.
  • Kept a notebook beside me as a read through the manuscript to jot down larger items that I came up with to change. Some people use post it notes, but considering my desk at work is cluttered with about 20 post it notes at a time, I was trying to organize that clutter into one paper list to make it easier on me.
  • Then I’ve just been going through page-by-page to make edits and change things that need work.
  • As I'm editing on the page, I keep open multiple versions of the manuscript, so it's easier for me to move things around. I recently purchased a new computer and got two monitors with it that makes this super easy!
And of course lots of chocolate and long hot baths have been in order before or after revising.
Any tricks on revision you’d like to share?

Do you think you revise different for every book? Or is that just me?

Happy Editing everyone.

Emily, Miss Revise-a-maniac

Monday, January 16, 2012

Slushy, Slushy Reading

Tip of the Day: Avoid the temptation to slump on the couch with your laptop, and find a comfortable spot that will support your spine and posture.

I've been reading some submissions for Rhemalda Publishing, assisting the acquisitions editor. If the manuscript and synopsis is really good, I recommend that the acquisitions editor read the full. We don't get a lot of strange, off-the-wall submissions because we ask for 30% of the manuscript and a synopsis. So the writer actually has to have written a novel to submit, not just have a multimillion dollar idea.

What I find is that don't really have a preference for genre. If anything, I'm probably pickier about the manuscripts in the genres I know well because I've read so much in them. If the story is good and I like the characters, I'll enjoy just about any genre, though.

But I have not recommended very many manuscripts. I haven't figured out my percentage, but I've only handed up three manuscripts, and I had slight reservations about each of them. Nobody's perfect, and no manuscript is either, I guess. The manuscripts I recommended had strong voices, likable characters, and something different that made them stand out.

Manuscripts I didn't like? The characters were hard to tell apart, the characters didn't have redeeming characteristics, I wasn't sure why I should root for the supposed main characters, there wasn't enough research done for me to believe the characters were who they were supposed to be. Even in a very plot-focused genre, I have to relate to your characters in some way. They have to be "real people."

And yes, I've also seen the "this is written YA but it should be MG" problem. That deserves a whole post of its own.

Anyway, check out Rhemalda--it's a great operation. They care about their books and care about promoting them. Plus, I'd love to read your manuscript.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, January 13, 2012

No Goal? That's Okay Too

Tip of the Day: Think you can't make money at epublishing? Look at this post by Joe Konrath.

I love how everyone is talking about the goals they've set for 2012, even though I don't set goals and I don't make resolutions. Thinking about where you want your career to go is is important. For many people, when they translate those ideas into a specific plan, a goal is formed. I used to makes goals when I was younger, but I gave that up about ten years ago. Don't mistake that for flightiness.

In 2012 I will release at least two more novels. The first is Afterlife, which I am writing right now. This is the sequel to Sleepers. After Afterlife I'll write the third book in The Swarm Trilogy. No specific goal for that either. I know Afterlife will be out by summer. The third novel in the series will be out by winter. I'll have more details as I get closer to release.

I have no daily word count goals. I don't force myself to write every day. Those kind of binding rules don't work for me. I tend to break them more than follow them. Then I get disappointed in myself and my writing. I lived that way for years. Not anymore.

Now I write some words most days. That 'some' could be 500 words, it could be 7,500 (I once wrote 7,500 words in two hours - I may have sprained a thumb). As for 'most,' well, I try to write Monday through Friday. Occasionally on the weekends. Sometimes at night. I fit it in where I need to.

To my odd little brain, goals are too limiting. I know I will have two books out this year. I don't have to set a goal to do it because I already believe I will. I also have a partially-written middle grade fantasy sitting in the wings, begging for attention. Then there's that contemporary YA that's about 25% written. When the time is right, I'll attack those with the same fervor I'm spending on The Swarm Trilogy. Plus, I have a third fantasy trilogy planned.

I don't think I'm bad to the bone, or a ruler breaker, or anything like that because I don't set writing goals. I also don't think being goal-free makes me a poor businesswoman. 2011 proves that I can handle the business side of epublishing too. I've spent the last seven years modifying my day-to-day writing techniques. I'm a well-oiled machine now. I've learned to trust my process and trust myself.

In the past, when I set goals, I was always trying to reach them. Now, I just do. Cheesy as it is, the clip below from Star Wars illustrates my exact approach to life and writing.

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Stuff I Want to Do in 2012

Tip of the Day: Want a chance to win a signed copy of JUST YOUR AVERAGE PRINCESS? Follow me on my personal blog and comment to let me know that you're following.

I suck at making goals. I faithfully wrote New Year's resolutions in my journal up until 2011 when I said screw it. Each New Year's Eve I'd look back at the previous year's goals and see that I never completed the majority of them. It just made me mad so I decided no more.

That doesn't mean there isn't stuff I want to do. Like sell another YA book. And finish writing the middle grade I'm working on right now. And then sell that too. That's not too much in a year right? I also want to finish writing this YA that I love, love, love. It's heavily outlined and several chapters are done so I can jump back into it any time. And I started outlining this awesome YA idea. Oh my gosh, it's such a good idea, I'm sure it would make a great book. So I wouldn't mind getting that written too this year. Oh, and I wrote synopsis for the first three books in a middle grade series. So how many books does that bring me to now...6 or 7? Easy peasy! Not. See? This is how I set myself up to fail. There's so much I want to do but I don't know what I'll have the time to accomplish. But I guess it's better to have a lot of projects in queue rather than be struggling to come up with something right?

Ok, so in 2012, my plans are to get a lot of stuff written. I hope you write a lot of stuff too!

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Goal Control (or I Got To Write a Lot*)

*with apologies to Janet Jackson

Tip of the Day, Librarian Edition: Follow me at @bmlkidsteens for tweets from my librarian persona!

I love the idea of coming up with a key word for the year and using that to focus my goals.

My life word is BREATHE. I sometimes think I forget to use 50% of my lungs. I work out a lot, but am doing more yoga and will continue to do so throughout 2012. Breathing helps to center, calm, and heal and I need to consciously do more of it at a lung-filling level. And release the air sloooowly.

My writing word is PRIORITIZE. As you will see in my month-by-month breakdown below, I want to finish 50 pages of one YA novel (a companion to my ms on agent sub), and a complete first draft of another YA novel (a humorous ghostly idea). I haven't written more than 1 book a year in....years. So if I'm going to do it in '12, I need to prioritize writing over other things, like a) reading, and b) futzing around on the internet. It will be hard bc I really enjoy both of those activities -- and now I have my addicting Nook! -- but I know I can do it if I focus on the satisfaction I'll feel with the end product.

And now, a look ahead:

January-February: Complete 50 pages of YA #1.
March: Get YA #1 to critiquers. Write rough outline for YA #2.
April: Revise YA #1 (50 pages). Start writing first draft of YA #2.
May-December: Complete first draft of YA #2 (about 200 pages).

I will also keep submitting and revising my current YA as requested by agents and/or editors, which may cut into the schedule above, but for now this is what I feel I can forsee/control in the next 12 months.

Thanks for keeping me honest as the year goes on (!!! Please???)

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My horescope told me it's going to be a good year

Tip of the Day: interested in ePubbing this year? There's some great free eBooks on Amazon to help you!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm very excited for this year. Because I feel there are big things in front of me. And not just because I’m imagining it or wishing it to happen, but my most recent fortunes on my Fortune Cookie App and my horoscope confirm it :) And as we all know horoscopes are never wrong. Merely because they are generally so broad and present both sides that they have to be right. Here are some gems it told me about 2012.

"…this is a year that might start out slow but within weeks it is going to explode into a flurry of activity.” And “they will experience the most of everything during the upcoming year of 2012. Libras will benefit from a very successful year 2012 in terms of finances and goodwill...”

Success, flurry of activity, and experiencing the most of everything. I'll take it!

I'll of course choose to overlook this other comment in one of the same horoscopes: “however, they should not fail to prepare themselves on dealing with a few discouragements and frustrations that may come their way…”

Anyway, I think the year of 2012 is going to be great in terms of my writing career. Merely because I’m choosing to make it great.

At the end of last year, I decided to indie-publish one of my old novels as an eBook under a pen name. After dusting it off and working on revisions, it is almost ready to go.

With that included, my concrete goals for the year include:
  • ePub one of my Young Adult books
  • Continue to submit one of my Middle Grade novels to agents
  • Continue working on another YA novel I started several years ago
  • Start working on an adult holiday novel

Looks like it might be a busy year. But all of that will have to be put on the back burner. Because late last night via email I received a wonderful revision request for my Middle Grade mystery book/potential series that I've been submitting to agents.

Now I've been around the Agent Revision block more than once. So I’m remaining cautiously optimistic. But I have a very good feeling about this. If for no other reason than my horoscope says January is going to be a good month for me :)

--Emily, Miss Cautiously Optomistic

Monday, January 9, 2012

Big plans, amazing plans, for 2012

Tip of the day: Think literature needs more cats? Check out this hilarious Kitty Lit article at AbeBooks.

Last week, we talked about our writing life in 2011. This week, we're talking about 2012--the Apocalypse! The apocalypse of laziness and being unfocused, I mean. And the apocalypse of negativity. Welcome to a new world of positive productivity!

Normally, I pick a word to be my theme word of the year, and my 2012 word is POSITIVE. Positive thoughts, positive actions. But in addition, I also wrote out goals for the year, something I rarely do. But I wanted to do it this year as part of my positive thoughts, positive actions mantra. With thanks to Margie Lawson's Defeating Self-Defeating Behaviors, I have divided my goals list into sections:

Writing the Books--first priority
Career Planning
Wild Card (stuff that would just be fun)

So, my number one goal is to finish the novel I'm working on by Valentine's Day. I'm finding success in this by working on my own writing first--putting it at the very top of the day's to-do list.

I'm also writing a to-do list! Seriously, I've been telling myself to do that for months. I'm also writing down how long I think it will take me to accomplish a task as part of the list. This should stop me from trying to cram 12 hours of work into a 6 hour day. Also, before I worry too much about the to-do list, I try to think of positive things. For example, my 13-year-old daughter has actually been waking up herself in the morning instead of me putting the cat on her head while her alarm goes off. Now I can put the cat on her head at a more normal hour.

So, what are your planning strategies for 2012? What do you want to accomplish just in case the world ends?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, January 6, 2012

Introducing Me (Megg) and My 2011 Writing Recap

Tip of the Day: Don't be afraid of independent authors. There's some really great self-published books out there!

Hi! *waves* My name is Megg. I'm a former freelance parenting journalist turned ninja! Oh, well, in my imagination at least. If you want a basic bio about me, click here. Or you can strap on your seat belt and take a trip with me in my handy-dandy time machine.

I know we're supposed to recap our 2011 writing goals. I'm going to break the rules a bit (watch out, I tend to do that) and take you back to 2010. In the midst of a declining freelance parenting career due to poor economic conditions, I submitted novel queries to agents. Perhaps a bit obsessively. I knew there was a reason my freelance career was on the skids - it was because it was finally my time to shine as a novelist. <insert angelic music here>

I had completed two novels, ANATHEMA and SLEEPERS, and was absolutely sure I would easily be able to get an agent, get a book deal, and live the rest of my life in blissful happiness. Um, yeah, didn't quite happen that way. There were the agents who never responded (ugh), then there were the form letter rejections (ugh), and the sweet personal notes telling me my book looked awesome, but that it wasn't for them and never give up rejections (double ugh). There were quite a few who requested my full. I KNEW one of them would take me on. I had no doubt in my mind whatsoever.

Guess I should learn the difference between knowing something for a fact and hoping for something so deeply. One agent offered to take me on if I'd switch genres. That was a deal-breaker for me. One had me submit all my work to her. In the end she just decided to reject me and I'll never know why. Another held on to my work for nearly a year, kept promising to get back to me and never did. By the end of 2010, I was convinced my books would never, ever be read by anyone outside my critique group.

My BWF (best writing friend) Karly Kirkpatrick told me about epublishing. I scoffed. Self-publishing was for people who gave up, right? Not one to automatically dismiss any idea, I researched it. Karly & I talked, and talked, and talked about it. It wasn't until I saw the quality work being put out by so many self-published authors (Konrath, Amanda Hocking, Sarra Cannon) that I decided to jump in the epub pool.

There were no sharks - just eager readers. I'll swim with them any day.

Now we're in 2011 - I epublished ANATHEMA in February. OUBLIETTE in June. SLEEPERS in July. SEVERED in November. THE INITIATE in December. Over 25,000 copies of my books have been downloaded. I have countless new Facebook and Twitter friends. I have met so many new & amazing readers in the last year. I've also sold foreign rights to my books. I don't regret one moment of 2011.

If you follow my A2A posts, you'll learn more about how I accomplished so much. Believe me, I have a TON to say about it too. I'd really love to know what you guys want to hear. Leave some comments below or email me - meggjensen (at) gmail.com - and tell me what you want to learn about epublishing.

I'm so excited to be on A2A and thank you so much to the ladies for inviting me!!!! :D

-- Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2011 Year in Review

Tip of the Day: WOW! Great Deal! 50% off your entire purchase of Teen books at BarnesandNoble.com! - Use F3Y9V4J at checkout. 

Happy New Years! I'm excited to be back for 2012 and all the good things it holds in store. But first here's a look back at my 2011:

In JANUARY the paperback of The Espressologist was released.

I was super excited for this because B&N gave it a great display for Valentine's Day and when I saw it I had to buy one. I couldn't even wait for the publisher to send me some. I loved when the hardcover came out but the paperback had the little extras we added like recipes from the book and a fun interview. So exciting!

And the most exciting part of the month was seeing my middle grade, My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours, come out at the Scholastic Book Fairs! I was seeing it everywhere-- in fliers and on posters at the kids' school. And the most exciting part was seeing it at the book fairs firsthand. I love, love, love Scholastic Book Fairs!

In FEBRUARY I got to do a book signing with my dear friend Kristin Walker (did you see she has a new hilarious book coming out soon?) and the super sweet Elizabeth Eulberg.

And I also got copies of the Japanese version of The Espressologist. So cute!

One of the most exciting things to ever happen to me in my writing career also happened this month. We're talking, just about ties with the time Meg Cabot blurbed my book (I'll never stop mentioning that! :-) ). My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours was a BESTSELLER for Scholastic Book Fairs!!! I still get giddy thinking about it.

In MARCH I got advanced copies of my third book, Just Your Average Princess, in the mail.

I sold Korean rights to The Espressologist this month too. I also did an hour long interview for author Dyanne Davis's cable writing show. That was so fun and I couldn't stop staring at the monitor. Total amateur!

In APRIL a super creative book club threw a Fauxpresso night to talk about The Espressologist. And I attended the annual Author Fair in Bolingbrook, IL. I also sold Indonesian rights to The Espressologist.

In MAY, I had what I call my Justin Bieber moment when I went to talk to a group of 4th grade girl scouts and they screamed when I held up my book cover. Again, I owe this to Scholastic Book Fairs. I don't think any of them would know who I was if they didn't see my book in their fairs.

In JUNE, I went to Chicago's Printer's Row to do a panel with some really great authors. It was so much fun, I hope to do it again.

In JULY and AUGUST I was busily brainstorming and writing proposals. I outlined a really fun YA and several middle grades. And I was also busily writing The Paparazzi Project (hopefully my fourth book!). 

In SEPTEMBER I participated in Anderson's 8th Annual Young Adult Literature Conference. This was another super fun day full of panels and getting to sign my new book (that wouldn't release still for several weeks).

Reviews of the new book started to trickle in too. Here's one from VOYA.

OCTOBER was an especially great month because my third book, JUST YOUR AVERAGE PRINCESS released.

And I also got to go on a fantastic writing retreat with Deena and Emily to Frankenmuth, MI. Frankenmuth is a super cute Christmas village kind of town that everyone should experience at least once. And I got the first three chapters of my new middle grade written here too.

In NOVEMBER, I was a revising fool. I spent every free moment I had whipping The Paparazzi Project into shape to have it done by Thanksgiving. Also this month I sold Czech Republic rights to The Espressologist and my short story "Cart Princess" came out in THE FIRST TIME anthology of 25 awesome YA authors. It's only $2.99 and you should totally buy it. But if you want to read my story for free right now, go to the Amazon link and click on "Look Inside". It's the first story in the anthology. :-)

And in DECEMBER, I did nothing! Seriously! I guess I sorta took the month off and concentrated on Christmas parties, wrapping gifts, cookie making, coffee drinking, Christmas concerts & plays. But now it's back to work for me! I hope to have great news to share in 2012! And share your great news with us too!

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2011: A Recap Odyssey (or Everyone Else is Doing It, So Why Can't We?*)

*with apologies to The Cranberries

Tip of the Day, Librarian Edition: Books are not coasters. Please do not use them as such. Thank you for your support.

It's that time of year -- the beginning! And time to reflect on the previous year.

In 2011, I read 178 books. To see my favorite four, check out my LiveJournal. Wow. So many great titles came out in 2011. Here's to many more in 2012!

And now for my month-by-month recap of the highlights:

--Successfully threw Dad a surprise 80th birthday party
--Sent my newly completed YA to my agent (FASHION)
--Started writing a new YA (the one that would become BLACKOUT)

--Got revision notes from agent on FASHION
--Stopped writing BLACKOUT to revise FASHION
--Sent revision back to agent

--FASHION goes out on sub
--Traveled to San Francisco to visit sibs; stopped by the legendary Books, Inc. bookstore

--Had planned on writing a proposal for BLACKOUT (synopsis and 50 pages), but I liked it so much I kept on writing
--Wedding dress purchased

--Rochester Teen Book Fest! Got to hang with awesome authors Selene Castrovilla, Shari Maurer, and many others
--Accepted as a new VOYA reviewer!
--Trip to Rhode Island with librarian friends
--Bridal shower, Paint-Your-Own-Pottery style
--Have received a handful of rejections on FASHION since March
--Still writing BLACKOUT
--Dad breaks his shoulder

--Dad-in-law breaks his arms
--Dad breaks his hip
--Try to keep the wedding jitters together despite the broken bones(!)

--Send what I have of BLACKOUT to my agent
--Agent gets back to me that she doesn't love BLACKOUT and offers revision feedback
--FASHION has pretty much come back with a dozen rejections; editors "like the writing but contemporary realistic fiction is a hard sell right now"
--Revise BLACKOUT, a darker book of a speculative nature that I hope will resonate better with editors in this market

--Continue revising BLACKOUT

--Send revised BLACKOUT's first 60 pages to my agent
--European honeymoon!
--Read part of a novel on our new-to-us iPad with its Kindle ap on the airplane for my first time

--My agent still doesn't connect to BLACKOUT; after two years and two books that haven't sold, we amicably part ways
--Writing Retreat Weekend with Emily and Tina in Frankenmuth, MI!
--I sub FASHION to a few more editors on my own
--Decide to have BLACKOUT polished and ready to query new agents by December 1.

--Plow through revisions of BLACKOUT, excited to complete this book

--Send queries to agents on BLACKOUT
--A mix of rejections and requests for pages come from the queries
--Get a request from an editor for the full of FASHION
--Mom gets her MLS! Sibs come into town to celebrate
--Get a Nook for Christmas! Download and read my first full novel on an eReader.

Wow, it feels like a lot has happened when I put the whole year out there like that. Phew! Here's hoping for a busy, fun, successful 2012 to all of our blog readers!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Settling in is just the beginning

Tip of the Day: Happy New Year to everyone! Thinking of writing resolutions and haven't done it yet. Check out the Top Ten Most Popular New Year's Resolutions.

So last year my goal for the year was to go with the flow. All I wanted writing wise was to finish working on some of my projects, submit to a few agents, and renew the joy of writing.

Easy peasy. List accomplished.

To be honest, I wasn't really in a writing mood at the beginning of last year. After just having moved twice within the space of a few months and starting a new job in a familiar-yet-new-again state, it was kind of a writing buzz kill.

As a result, much of 2011 was spent settling in. Both in life, work, and with writing. For the first time in a long time, I'm living in a location that might be semi-permanent and instead of feeling in limbo, I had to start searching for what I wanted out of life again. Which required some soul searching and a bit of growing up. Which I'm not fond of. But is necessary in life.

Now that I'm apparently older and wiser, it's much easier to say no to the things I don't want and focus more energy on things I do want.

In realizing this I was kind of afraid writing might get tossed to the side. After all it is hard work and rejection is never fun.

But instead while "going with the flow" throughout the year, I think I found my drive again. Writing started to look appealing. I started to hear tons of positive things about people indie publishing eBooks, which opened up new writing possibilities and something to get excited about. And I managed to work on a few of those projects and start submitting to agents again.

Still nothing major happened. But it laid the groundwork for something to happen!

And I’m very excited for what that means is in store for 2012. I'm motivated and determined, which is a good mix for me and hopefully that means big things will be coming my way with all the hard work. Because if the world is ending in December of this year as those End of the World People want you to believe, then why not go out with a bang, right? And if it's not, then at the end of the year we might as well be even more settled in and ready to do great things in 2013.

Happy New Year!

--Emily, Miss Determined Writer