Wednesday, September 30, 2009

WiP Wednesday: Field Trip!

I don't think I've done a decent WiP Wednesday update for a while. It could be due to my not having written anything new in weeks so I didn't actually have anything to update you on. But now I've decided to turn a new leaf.

Instead of sitting around, waiting for the words to come to me, as I've been doing, I'm going to go out and look for them! Can't be that hard, right? I mean, seriously . . . I don't have to drive around in the middle of the night with no lights on. I can search during the day (well, daylight hours after I'm done being a responsible adult anyway). I can even have my lights on during the day!

So in honor of my newest work in progress (and thanks to my uber-awesome oldest friend Joanna - of Joanna Taylor Photography - go check her out), here are some pics I snapped while we were out "scouting" locations for my book. If this isn't inspiring, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

One of the Best Housecleaning Contests EVER!!!

Go check out Princess Bookie's blog HERE and you'll find one of the BEST HOUSE CLEANING CONTESTS EVER!!

Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!

Turn On Your Brights!

I'm going to try to keep up with my theme for this week based on the Quote of the Week.

When I first had this whole epiphany that I could be published someday I didn't think too hard about it. Wrote my book. Wrote a query. Sent it all on it's merry way. Lotsa rejections later, I realized I was probably going about this the wrong way. I think at the time, the best way I could put what I was doing was flying blind. Or driving at night with no headlights.

Unless you're a Transformer with excellent night vision or something, I don't advise this.

So I started researching.
  • Publishing
  • Queries
  • Agents
  • Synopses
  • Trends
  • Genres

My biggest lesson is that publishing is about 10% talent and all the stuff above and 90% luck. My ratios may be slightly off, but I don't think you'll find many people who will argue that there is much more on the talent / stuff side than what I'm estimating.

So with only around 10% of things in your control, wouldn't you want to turn on the brights of your car and light up anything along the road that might help you increase your odds?

Below I've gathered a few links I've found helpful through all my research. If you guys know of any that aren't on my list, please let me know! Knowledge is power. Even if my brain is at capacity and I'll have to purge some of the old stuff to take in the new stuff. . . I don't really know how to tie shoes, right? That's what velcro is for. . .

Anyway, here you go! These are just a few that I've used, so by no means think that is a complete list. – This is a great database to track your queries and do agent and agency research. They also have a great blog they publish daily and a forum where you can meet other writers slugging through the slush. – Another website where you can research agents and literary agencies.

Preditors & Editors – A good website to double check on agent reputations before you query and/or sign with one. – This site is a huge resource for those who write for the children’s & YA markets. – This is a subscription required site that is updated monthly with information about agents, literary agencies, publishers and other industry stuff. The writers on the staff also have blogs that provide you with a whole slew of helpful tips.

Publishers Marketplace – Much like the other sites listed above, this is yet another resource to research agents and publishers.

Here are a few agents who blog who I've found to be awesomely insightful and helpful:.

Nathan Bransford – Curtis Brown Literary Agency

Rachelle Gardner – Wordserve Literary Agency
Janet Reid – FinePrint Literary Management runs Query Shark
Jessica Faust – BookEnds, LLC

Also, don't be afraid to reach out to other writers in the vast blog-o-sphere. Start commenting. Join discussions. You never know who you'll meet and it's amazing how many great friends you may end up finding along the way!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."
--E.L. Doctorow

Friday, September 25, 2009

All About Quantity

Firstly . . . Happy belated Autumn Equinox!!

I totally scheduled this to post on Tuesday, and then I guess in all the craziness of my being on a work trip (to San Jose, training people about stuff) I guess I didn't hit the Publish Post button. Duh... but anyway here you are!

So... quantity.

How many books have you written?

Me? I've written 4. Each one is less sucky than the one I wrote before it.

As I've written each book, I've seen how much better my writing has become. I've figured out how my flow works. And I feel more like I know what I'm doing when I'm writing.

My QUALITY has improved as my QUANTITY has increased.

I suppose that is what practice does for you, right? The more you practice (write) the better you get. Sweet.

But what about the publishing thing? Well, I think Ally Carter (author of the Gallagher Girls series & upcoming Heist Society) said it best on Twitter:

@OfficiallyAlly all starts with a finished book and with lots of homework. Be prepared and patient and if you're ready an agent will follow.

I believe all the quantity is part of the homework. So is the agent research, the query/synopsis writing, the waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

Then, when Quantity meets Quality. And the stars (or planets) align. And mountains move. And you find a plate of magical cupcakes on your kitchen table. That is when the agent follows.

I am sure of it!

Now . . . where is my forklift so I can move this mountain???

What about you? Your thoughts on quantity & quality ? How many books have you written?

P.S. To those at the writer's conference yesterday, it was great to (finally) meet you! More on my writer's conference experience next week!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Expanding the Circle

I am super excited. On Thursday (today, but I'm writing this post early so it isn't really Thursday yet) I am going to my first writer's conference / book conference.

The Book Academy at UVU.

Anyone else going? I think there are a few other locals I'm familiar with who are going. I'm looking forward to the chance to expand my in-person writer-buddies circle and get a chance to meet a few of the online buddies in person!

So since I'll hopefully be meeting some people live, I'd love to meet you guys out there in the blog-o-sphere. Below I've "borrowed" some questions off those chains from Facebook/Myspace/emails and posted them with my answers below. Beneath that I've posted the same questions, but blank, so you can just copy and paste into your comments and let me get to know you! A little of the writer you, and a little of the non-writer you!

(Thanks to Christine for the idea for this post! If you're not already following her, pop on over to her blog: The Musings of Christine Fonseca she's always got some interesting info!)

  1. Where are you from? West Jordan, Utah
  2. What time did you get up this morning? 6:00 A.M.
  3. Last movie you saw at the cinema? UP—gotta love Dug and Russell!
  4. What is your favorite TV show? Don’t want much, but I do really like NCIS, Project Runway and Design on a Dime. I haven’t had a chance to watch Glee yet, but it is totally on my list to catch.
  5. What is your favorite CD? Currently the Evanescence CD Fallen
  6. Are you a morning writer or a night writer? Night. My muse usually doesn’t wake up until around 9 or 10 P.M. so the creative juices take all day to percolate. And I’m totally a night owl. If I can fall asleep before the clock kicks back to A.M. hours, it’s a good day, er, night.
  7. What genre do you write? Young adult contemporary fiction.
  8. Prefer summer or winter? Since Fall and Spring are not choices here, I’ll pick winter. I LOVE sweater weather!!
  9. Coffee or tea? Gave up coffee about 3 months ago, so have a new appreciation for tea. Earl Grey (with chocolate covered Hobnob biscuits) is my fave right now.
  10. Favorite day of the week? Lazy ones that let me sleep in then wake up to write all day!
Here's the questions, blank, so you can just copy and paste them into your comments!

  • Where are you from?
  • What time did you get up this morning?
  • Last movie you saw at the cinema?
  • What is your favorite TV show?
  • What is your favorite CD? 
  • Are you a morning writer or a night writer?
  • What genre do you write?
  • Prefer summer or winter?
  • Coffee or tea?
  • Favorite day of the week?
 Thanks so much for following me! Look forward to meeting ya!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Quote of the Week

"There are times when quantity is at least as important as quality in learning an art."
--Lawrence Watt-Evans

Friday, September 18, 2009

How to Get Unstuck (with a Side of Cupcakes!)

The auto-tweet for this blog post is my 2000th Tweet! I know, I know, I'm a total dork for celebrating such an event, but every now and then, a girl just needs a reason a for some cupcakes!

Moving on... Here is some general "getting unstuck" advice:
  1. It seriously stinks, but nail polish remover with Acetone will almost always work if you've mistakenly superglued somethings together. Like fingertips together. Or a butt in a chair. You know who you are!
  2. Peanut butter will get chewing gum out of hair. (Gum? In hair? You better have a good story to go with this one...)
  3. Freezing will get gum out of clothes. (Which one of you didn't empty your pockets before we started the laundry???)
But what about getting words out of your brain?

I think everyone has a different answer for this. As I've been poking about in other blogs, I noticed I wasn't alone in my sudden feeling of stickiness. Not that I was sticky, but I had hit a wall. I was stuck. (So maybe I should've said feeling stuckiness?)

Anyway, as I was saying, I was stuck. I knew there were words I wanted to get out, but I just couldn't find them. Every time I sat down to write, I just stared at the computer screen. At the notebook. At the pen. And everything stayed blank. This lasted for days. Days grew to weeks.

Then a friend said "take a break."

Lightbulb! Duh. Why didn't I think of that?

I don't know what made me think I had to write everyday forever. But that was what was going through my head. I felt like I had to keep running, running, running. Swimming, swimming, swimming. How on Earth was I going to keep up with all the other aspiring authors out there trying to write the next NYT Bestseller, trying to find an agent, trying to get published if I didn't keep writing?

So I decided a break was what I was going to do. I had enough written to last me for a while in both my online and live crit groups. I would just focus on reading (research!) and maybe the fog would clear. Less than 24 hours after I decided this, my muse returned. And I've been scribbling notes relentlessly since then.

So when you get stuck (wordage wise), apparently one of the best things you can do is NOTHING! Who would've thought? Oh, and jamming to Evanescence doesn't hurt either.

Oh, but wait. You guys didn't come to hear about me doing nothing. You wanted cupcakes, right? I know, sorry. I got distracted. But here. See, aren't these worth the wait? Wasn't sure what you guys would like. Go ahead, help yourselves!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday Thought: Conjunction Junction

So we have a 4-year-old who has recently started preschool. We will call her Phephe (as in Fifi. Don't ask.). Anyway, as with most children of a certain age, they say some pretty interesting things. Here are a few notable quotes from Phephe:

"Mommy, I think you and I need to sit down and have a conversation."

"Actually, I think we should go to the zoo instead."

"Uncle Andrew makes me so frustrated because he eats so many hamburgers!"

I know, kinda random. I was just amazed she knew words like conversation, actually and frustrated and understood their meanings enough to use them in the proper context!
So when we sat down to eat dinner the other day and she decided she didn't want to eat a certain dish that was made she said, "Momma, I amn't going to eat that."
Yes. Amn't.
The husband and I just looked at each other for a moment, stunned.

Just for some background information, my parents came to this country speaking very little English. I grew up in a household speaking 2 languages simultaneously. Even now, we speak both languages, switching seamlessly between the two. When my parents were learning English they were always told it is one of the hardest languages to learn, because there are so many quirks in it.

Phephe has apparently found another. My husband and I tried to explain that amn't is not a proper contraction and gave her "I'm not" to use instead. She nodded and smiled and we continued on our merry dinner-eating way.

So now I'm waiting for the moment when she turns back to me and asks if

IS + NOT = Isn't
ARE + NOT = Aren't
DO + NOT = Don't

Then why does AM + NOT not equal Amn't?

I think I amn't sure what to say.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

WiP Wednesday: . . . And Cupcakes For All

The Husband has asked politely if I would start today's post with a big fat: GO UTES!! (even if the game isn't until Saturday)
So there you go. Moving on.

I've been in a rut lately. Stuck in the mud. Or quick sand. Or drying concrete or something. I haven't written anything in weeks. Weeks I tell you!

For all these many days I've loitered about the house. Mostly I spent time with the family, which has been really good, and then after they all went to sleep, I read this and that (I probably wouldn't have finished TTW if I was writing), worked on my crits, did laundry, pretended I knew how to cook and just generally putted about.

I have to say holy huge THANKS! to the gang on Rallystorm Throwdown and my Twitter Critter buddies for all the words of encouragement, sympathy, and just because you guys let me whine without making me feel lame! You guys ROCK! You kept me just this side of drowning myself in Jalapeno Kettle Chips--a recent new MUST.
So after all this many days of dinking around, I had to go to live crit group. The last meeting was 6 weeks ago and we've gone through a "management change" so I did have a chance to submit something back then. It was a good meeting and I got some insightful feedback.
On the drive home, as I was jamming to my Fallen CD because I <3 Evanescence and can't listen to it when the kids are in the car. (Phephe calls it my scary songs, yeah, I guess I can see that.) And then IT struck me.

I pondered IT some more overnight. When I woke up still thinking about IT I knew I was on to something. So I dropped a quick note to one of my BFFs with a 1-liner thought on the whole thing and got the most AWESOME positive response from her. She's even going to help me with research and everything!

So YAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY! Adorable Hello Kitty Cupcakes for ALL!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Recent Reads: The Time Traveler's Wife

Book: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenberger
Book Count: 31
Okay. Lot's of hype. Even a movie. Everyone's talking about and . . . I am not sure what the big deal is. The book was just okay for me. It jumps around a lot (well, duh, because he's time traveling, yeah, I know) and that made it hard for me to get a grasp on the characters. It was very difficult for me to care, I guess.

I LOVE it when I pick up a book and lose sleep reading it because I am so emotionally vested with the lives of the people in the story. I didn't have that here. It was waaaaayyy too all over the place for me. Keep in mind, this is totally just MY opinion. I did like the story as a whole. The premise is still very compelling and does keep me thinking about living life out of order and such, but the book itself. Yeah, well, at least now I can say I've read it.

Plus, as I mentioned in my last Recent Reads post, if you haven't gone back to check out the link I added to see where you can go buy Elana Johnson's From the Query to the Call, here it is: Click HERE and it will take you to Elana's blog where you can buy the book!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Recent Reads: From the Query to the Call

Book: From the Query to the Call by Elana Johnson
Book Count: 30

Last week I mentioned a new e-book coming out and I'd already received my preview copy, but I hadn't had a chance to read it yet. But I have now and it is available to everyone TODAY!!!

**UPDATE: Click >>>>HERE<<<< to go get your copy!**
Okay, so you've written a book. Maybe a couple. Or four or eight or thirty-two. But you've finally finished that one. The one you feel really has a chance at getting published. If only you could get it into the right hands. What now? What next? How do you even do that??

Well, here's some help!

Firstly, I have to be honest. I have a very short attention span when it comes to instructional "how-to" guides about anything besides home improvement projects or cooking (because I'm just that sad in the kitchen). So, at first, I wasn't sure what to expect. I mean, the title is pretty clear, but you just never know, right?

There are a lot of "how to get published" books out there. There probably is some valuable information in them too. Somewhere. You may need to don a wetsuit and oxygen tank before you dive in. No idea how long it could take to find what you're looking for.

I was concerned needlessly. Elana Johnson's e-book is 63 pages of valuable info that every aspiring author should read. It's what I think totally fits into the description of "Short, Sweet and Straight To The Point."

This is not a book about how to write a book. It is not a book about how to edit a book. It is about what to do after you've written your book, gone through 30 iterations of editing it and hashing it out with your beta readers / crit group(s), etc and have mentally and emotionally (to some degree anyway) braced yourself for the inevitable rejections that will come.

From the Query to the Call is just that. It takes you on a journey from writing a "Killer Query" through the what happens after you send it out, all the way through what happens when you get THE CALL!

Elana addresses questions with sound advice and real world examples. There are points made around what NOT to do when you get a rejection. What a simple cover letter responding to a request could be. Suggestions on what to do while you're waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

Some of my fave parts:
  • Interviews with agented authors.
  • Tips on researching agents.
  • Sample query letters. (A must read!)
  • Links. Links. Links. **
**Because this is an e-book, there are links EVERYWHERE so you don't have to try to figure out which article Elana is referring to, or which blogs she referenced. Soooo helpful and such a time saver!

I have to be honest, this is the FIRST writer's guide-ish book I have ever FINISHED. And it was probably because the book is concise and written clearly with the end reader in mind. I was finished reading it before I even realized I was done and I've already been able to use it as a reference!

If you're an aspiring author sitting in that limbo of having just finished your wip and are now considering seeking representation, research is key. Take a look. Read a book. Might I suggest this one? And seriously, it's 63 pages of some of the best information that will take you From the Query to the Call.

Sorry, that last line is oozing of cheddar, but it made me giggle when I typed it. So I had to keep it. :D

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Quote of the Week

"I found that the men and women who got to the top were those who did the jobs they had in hand, with everything they had of energy and enthusiasm and hard work."
--Harry S. Truman

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thursday Thought: People-ese

Totally random and I'm not even sure where this came from, but when this happens, I figure I'd share. Just so you all can really meet the real, oh-so-random, me.

So people from France are French.
People from England are English.
People from Spain are Spanish or Spaniards.
Peeps from Italy = Italians.
Greece = Greek.
Norway = Norwegian.
Canada = Canadians.
America = Americans.

But why is it that in most Asian countries people are some kind of -ese?

That's not to say there aren't countries where people are not an -ese. Thai, Laotion, Cambodian, Indonesian, etc.

Like I said. Totally random. Doesn't mean anything. Just a thought.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


So normally, Wednesday would mean that it is time for a wip update. But, yanno, I wasn't really feeling in the updatey mood. Could be because I feel like I've done NOTHING for the last week. We had too much family time over the weekend. Or maybe just because I have something MORE EXCITING to talk about than how many words I attempted to write. (The number is so pathetically low, I don't even want to get into finding an excuse.)

Anyway, many of you know my awesome friend ElanaJ. She's supportive to other writers, between her personal blog and the QueryTracker stuff she does, it seems Elana always has answers. And now behold: a bunch of those answers are coming in e-book form! W-O-W!

From the Query to the Call is an awesome resource on, well, everything from writing a fantabulous query to fielding all those calls from agents who are fighting to represent you (the situation we ALL want to be in!). The e-book will be available later this month, so keep an eye out! I'll have some more insight on the book later this week, but I wanted to make sure that if you didn't already know about it... you do NOW!

Oh, yeah. You can become a Facebook Fan of the book HERE.

SEPTEMBER 14, kids. Pick it up!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

When I Grow Up

I'm going to be a rock star. I'm going to be a newscaster.
I'm going to win the lottery.

I'm going to be a writer was not actually on my list.

Writing was always just something I did and it never occurred to me it could be THE something I did. Funny enough, I realized I answered the "When I Grow Up" question in my VERY FIRST BLOG POST ever. So I'm not going to get into it again.

My question pertains to characters, actually. In my head, I know everything that's happened in most of my character's lives up until their written story begins. That part is unfolding right before my eyes and I'm just there to capture it. Record it. A play-by-play of these characters' lives from when they want to begin sharing their story to when I get to write THE END.

But I've found that I have a hard time leaving my characters alone. I want to know what happens next to these people. To me, they are completely real and I've suddenly become vested in their lives. Mind you, if I wrote horror and just killed everyone off at the end of every novel this could be a pretty moot discussion point, but I don't.

My characters are of the angst-ridden high school variety. Life doesn't end when high school does.

I feel like the stories aren't over when I've finished them. I feel like every single one of my books already has a sequel waiting to be told because my characters' lives aren't over yet!
Does anyone else have this problem, or is it just me? Am I so lame as to become completely obsessed with my characters to the point that ALL of them need full novel-length backstories and sequels (even if they never get written)?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Quote of the Week

"One must not always think so much about what one should do, but rather what one should be. Our works do not ennoble us; but we must ennoble our works."
--Meister Eckhart

Friday, September 4, 2009

Yes, I Know

I have totally been slacking on the blog posts. After last week, I spent the weekend trying to catch up on life, had enough time to find us a good quote for the week, then got SLAMMED with work and more real life stuff! SUCK. (See last Friday's post if you can't remember what I'm talking about.)

As I said, yes, I know I've totally been slacking. I was just getting into the routine of having posts all written over the weekend and then scheduled to post throughout the week. Uh, yeah. Clearly that didn't work out.

So now things are finally settling down.

And..... squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee look at what the husband found for me:

I know, bad picture and I should not nearly be this excited for another expense (committing to the first car payment of our married life) but that is me. And my new (to me) car. YAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYY. Finally! We have a car from this century. Yep, my old car was a '96. The husband's a '92.

Okay, so now that a good chunk of real life stress as worked itself out, back to revisions in the ms, critting and maybe some sleep.

Have a great weekend everyone!