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One Week and Counting......


With the annual SCBWI Western Washington conference just around the corner, you'd think my anxiety level about my manuscript consulation with literary agent Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency would be reaching a fevered pitch.  It isn't.  I'm not sure why, but it isn't.  I guess it's probably because last year when I met with agent Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary the time I spent with her was lightening fast.  I think part of it also stems from the fact that I'm only a few chapters into my current WIP, and last year I was hibernating in my proverbial revision den.  More was at stake back then, and as much as I appreciated the wise advise from Sarah Davies, her enthusiasm for my work and her encouragement for me to make changes and send them to her, I needed a break and the last thing I wanted at the time was to revise my revisions.   

Enter the new WIP. 

The idea sparked and crackled inside my head, like a shiny new toy begging to be played with.  I sat down to write up some notes and ended up whipping out the first chapter in one night.  A few more have followed, albeit at a slower pace, but at a pace nontheless.  So, what does this mean for my manuscript consultation?  It means that no matter what words of advice are doled out, I go into it with a free mind, less apprehension, and a total curiosity as to the direction in which my characters will carry the story once the conference has ended and my writing resumes. In other words, bring it on!

Manuscript consultation aside, I'm actually more excited to be spending time with my sister, shannywriter, on what we have declared as our annual "Mommy Weekend".  The one time each year we get to spend the weekend together, enjoying something that we are both passionate about, socializing with our writerly buddies, and drinking copious amounts of wine.......with our writerly buddies.  Oh, and learning more about honing our craft is included as well. 

Moving on, I'd like to plug a few books coming out in the very near future.  Two! Yes, two of my fabulous, wonderfully supportive and all around amazing critique partners have books coming out!  I know I've plugged them before, but honestly, let's face it, authors these days need more help than ever before with the publishing houses expecting their authors to promote their own books, and holding them accountable for lackluster sales.  So, I'm all for plugging away!

First is Meradeth Houston, with her debut novel, COLORS LIKE MEMORIES, making it's debut in the middle of May.  Plus, she's holding a Blog Tour, so be sure and check it out.


Second is Jeanne Ryan, with her novel NERVE coming out in September.  And even more exciting is the sale of her next novel, CHARISMA, which was just picked up by Dial books!  Congrats Jeanne!!

What's on my Kindle? PASSION by Lauren Kate
On Deck? IF I STAY by Gayle Forman

Check This Out!

For the first time in a long time I was able to hit over 1000 words in one day!  This has really been a challenge lately, life just seems to always get in the way.  Hence, my lack of blogging for the month of February.  Fortunately, I'm at the point in my WIP where it's really quite interesting and challenging, and my level of motivation after a long day of work, kids activities, and various commitments seems to remain high.  This hasn't always been the case.  I think as writers we all hit slumps, or funks, every once in a while, and it's such a great feeling when your inspiration is renewed.         

Speaking of inspiration, one of my amazing critique partners and author friends, Meradeth Houston, has her first YA novel coming out this May titled COLORS LIKE MEMORIES from MuseItUp Publishing. She just released the cover this past month, and it is beautiful!  Please take a moment and check out her blog, http://meradethhouston.blogspot.com and read about her and her work.  She really is an amazing author!

Julia is a Sary, the soul of a child who died before taking her first breath. Without this 'breath of life' she and others like her must help those on the verge of suicide. It's a job Julia enjoyed, until the accident that claimed her boyfriend’s life—an accident she knows was her fault. If living with the guilt weren't enough, she's now assigned to help a girl dealing with the loss of her mother, something Julia is not exactly the best role model for. If she can't figure out a way to help her, Julia will lose her position in the Sary, something she swore to her boyfriend would never happen.

What's on my Kindle?  BLOOD MAGIC by Tessa Gratton
On deck?  IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Suma

Slow to Start, But Getting There!

Happy February!!  I can't believe how fast January passed.  I still feel like I'm recovering from the holidays!

I've lost a bit of steam on my current WIP, but I'm still plugging away. It would seem that this darn thing called "life" just keeps getting in the way!  That being said, progress is still progress regardless of how slow, right?  Right!  This week I'll be changing into my revision hat for a good portion of the month to dive deeper into what I've accomplished thus far, to prepare for the SCBWI conference in April.  I'm submitting a portion of my story to be critiqued, so it needs to be perfect.  My critique partners are going to be sick of me by the end of February.

Speaking of critique partners, this is the perfect opportunity to plug the fabulously, brilliant author Jeanne Ryan.  Her debut novel coming out this fall is called NERVE.  You can check out Jeanne's author page and find out more about her and her debut novel by going to www.jeanneryan.com .
    

Kick in the Can

I finally have the proverbial kick in the butt that I need to jump back into my current WIP.  There's just something about the holidays that zaps my creativity, and for some reason it's taking me longer this year to bounce back from all of the festivities.  I think my muse took a longer vacation than I did.  Damn her!

Besides that, it's been so long since I've posted anything on my blog that I feel totally out of the loop!  I am making a concerted effort to post more this year and to start running giveaways as well. 

I have kicked off my new enthusiasm by signing up for the Western Washington SCBWI Regional conference in April.  Not only did I sign up for the conference, I (eek!) signed up for a manuscript consultation as well.  Yes, that means I get to pay someone to rip apart my hard work.  But I'm okay with that.  Last year literary agent Sarah Davies had some inspiring and positive comments that have carried me through the rest of this year.  However, that inspiration was a bit short-lived, as I've ended up shelving that ms for now because the contemporary market is such a bleak and dismal world right now.  So what am I working on now? 

A contemporary. 

I'm just a glutton for punishment I guess.  But, I do have an excuse.  It is not only contemporay, but there is a mystery element to it as well.  I'm really excited about this and where it goes and can't wait to dive further into my characters.  Plus, one of my fabulous crit partners, who also happens to be agented, has said that her agent told her that the contemporary market may be making a come back.  So this gives me hope!

Quiet or Noise?

Which do you prefer?  In the past I would have said quiet.  Hands down!  But now, not so much.  I used to think that in order for me to write, I needed to have a quiet, calm place to sit and punch out some words.  That's not the case anymore. 

When I first started writing, I always waited until I was alone, or the kids were in bed and I could think without being interrupted.  So, finding time to write has been somewhat of an exhausted effort, literally.  I'm usually too tired from the day to sit and try to crank out a 1000 words, let alone even 500.  But I have to admit, these past few days I have been really productive.  Is it from locking myself away in my room?  No.  Actually, it's been after the kids get home from school, and we are chin high in homework, tv, video games, fixing dinner, and cleaning.  This part of my day has always been so active and hectic that even thinking about adding anything else, let alone writing, seemed practically impossible.  Yet I am finding that I actually do some of my best work surrounded by chaos.  In the last two days, I've cranked out over 1000 words, which is more than I have done in the past two weeks.  I have a laptop on my kitchen counter, so I turn it on, bring up my document, and just leave it up, adding to it here and there throughout the afternoon.  Now on soccer days, that's a different story, but I'm just so excited to recognize the fact that I can still write, even in the midst of what would normally be a bucketful of chaos.

I was just getting used to listening to music when I write, so this is a huge leap.  Hopefully in the right direction. 

So what's your preference?

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Long Time No Post!

Wow, I can't believe it's been since April that I posted a blog entry.  Time goes by fast!  On the writing front, I am struggling a bit.  My current WIP is very slow going, and I'm finding it so much more difficult these days to find time to write like I want to.  I think my biggest problem has been Summer.  With the kids out of school, we are no longer on a set routine like we used to be.  Has anyone else had this problem too?  Now that my boys are back in school, I'm hoping to set aside more time.  I'm about 24,000 words into my current WIP, and my goal is somewhere between 50 and 60,000.  Needless to say I have a ways to go.

Part of my struggles also have to do with work.  My business is booming right now, which I am not complaining about, but what it means is that I am exhausted almost every night.  And the idea of trying to be productive after working a 10 hour day is a daunting one at that.  But, I must keep trudging along, no matter how long it takes me.

On a totally different topic, I ask you this.  What kind of writing drives you? 
A friend asked me the other day how I decide what to write, and if I follow my morals with my writing.  After really only a few minutes, I had my answer.  I write what I like, regardless of my morals...somewhat. ;-)  Writing is an outlet for me to express myself, like it is for many others.  I write what I'm passionate about, because after all, if you aren't passionate about your own writing, then how can you expect anyone else to be? 

I write YA, and in my first project, I was careful not to use too much swearing, and you can forget about sex.  Although there were several angsty moments between my characters that I could have easily lead to other things.  With my second project, it's totally different.  My MC's about as frisky as a frat boy on Sorority Rush night, with a mouth that would put sailors to shame.  And it's a girl.  So, my spectrum of interest is fairly broad, although there is one phrase that I won't use, mainly because I just don't feel comfortable, and that is "Oh my God!"  Even now I find myself apologizing to God for even writing it!  I will use OMG, just because that could interpreted as being "gosh" instead of the alternative, which I prefer.  My Catholic guilt just won't allow me to use the "other" word.

So, in essence, my morals do play a small part in my writing, but generally speaking I let my mind, and my characters take me where I need to go because really, I'm just along for the ride.

I'd love to hear other opinions about morals and writing.  It's so nice to be able to find the time to post an entry after so long! 

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SCBWI Western Washington Conference

What a whirlwind weekend!  I felt like going to bed as soon as I got home last night!  The entire experience was just phenomenal, and I'm so glad I had two wonderful people to share it with.  Thanks shannywriter  and mandyhubbard  for an awesome MOMMY weekend!

Friday night started out with a Kidlit Party and I got to meet so many great people from all walks of life, authors, illustrators, agents, editors, etc.  It was so nice to be around people who really get what it's like to be in this creative environment. 

Saturday was literally non-stop from the time I woke up at 6:00 am until the time I went to bed at 1:30 am (schmoozing with editors, agents and authors until the wee hours of the morn in the hotel bar.  SO MUCH FUN!)  First thing Saturday morning was the newbie meeting to let everyone know what was going to happen and what to expect, then introduction to all the guests and speakers.  There were so many industry professionals, such as agents Michael Bourret, Edward Necarsulmer (who I absolutely LOVED!), Sara Crowe and Paul Rodeen.  Also, editors Elizabeth Law from Egmont USA and Jordan Brown from Walden Pond Press, Lynne Polvino of Clarion Books, Lisa Graff Editor/Author, and Tim Gillner of Boyds Mills Press.  The keynote speakers were authors and illustrators, Laini Taylor, Jay Asher, Peter Brown and Mitali Perkins.  They also had many other authors, such as my tour guide/roommate/party buddy/all-around great person who now knows way too much about me,(Hee Hee) Mandy Hubbard mandyhubbard , illustrators, etc.  This place was jam-packed! 

They really kept us all on the go, whether be with sessions or key-note speakers.  Saturday ended with a Wine and Cheese party where my sister Shannon, who is shannywriter , and I got to sit and chat with a group of authors, editors and agents, and we literally felt like the geeky kids who got to sit at the cool kids table.  It was really wonderful to meet so many local successful authors.  I'll be sure to check out their books!

After the Wine and Cheese Party we got to meet up with a bunch of people from the message boards on Verla Kay www.verlakay.com   GO Blue Boarders!!!!  We all ate dinner at Mehfil's, and I have to say I was pretty hesitant about our dinner destination.  I have to admit that I've never eaten Indian food before, so the first thing that popped into my head was the movie "Along Came Polly" with Ben Stiller sweating at the table.  And his, um, bowel issues.  With my luck, that would have been me.  Thankfully none of that happened.  Phew!

Sunday was pretty similar, keynote speakers, sessions with agents and editors, but the one session that I really enjoyed that day was with agent Edward Necarsulmer.  I had spent some time talking with him the night before, and he showed me a picture book about Jimi Hendrix that one of his author's had done.  It hasn't come out yet, but it is really colorful and fun, so definitely keep an eye open for it.  Anyway, he did a session on what the job of an agent is, and what he/she does for the authors.  His dedication toward his authors is absolutely amazing and by far exceeded what I would have expected from an agent.  He has such a passion for what he does, which I am sure many other agents do as well, but you just don't hear about it very often.  I was very impressed by what he had to say both during the session and during our conversation prior to the session.  If you get the chance to query him, do so!  You won't regret it, especially if he offers representation.

Of all the keynote speakers, I have to say that the one I loved the most was Jay Asher, author of Thirteen Reasons Why.  We all love to hear about how authors got where they are today, and his story had no shortage of disappointments and agonizing moments.  Overall he was just a very relaxed, funny and at one point, an emotional speaker.  At the end, I don't think there was a dry eye in the crowd, though it was for celebratory purposes and not sad in nature.  I also got a chance to spend some one-on-one time with him Saturday night and he was very easy to talk to, and just a down-to-earth kind of guy.  So many people get a big head with success, and he is definitely not one of those people.

If you ever get a chance to go to one of these conferences, DO IT!  It really was an experience I will never ever ever forget.  I will definitely be attending this conference EVERY year from now on!

Here are some pictures of my time this weekend.
Hanging with the pros.
Okay, I can name some of these people, but not all of them.  On the bottom left is my sissy Shannon, then me, author Mandy Hubbard, editor Elizabeth Law, some guy I don't know, agent Michael Bourret, behind him is author Suzanne Young, behind her is editor Jordan Brown, then a fellow Blue Boarder Bryan Bliss, author Jay Asher, local author Kevin Emerson, and then two more local authors whose names I can't remember (sorry ladies).

Here's Shannon, Mandy and me!
Shannon shannywriter , Mandy mandyhubbard , and ME!

Blue Boarder Dinner
These are just some of the people we went to dinner with.  SO FUN!



Cards
I know I have more of these!  I think I lost a bunch some where, oh well.  I really enjoyed meeting so many wonderful people!  I have to give a shout out to one of my fellow blue boarders Jeanne who summoned the courage to talk to an editor, who then agreed to take a look at her manuscript!  Way to go Jeanne!

My badge
The all important "Ticket to Ride".  Okay, at first I felt a bit cheesy about the First Time Attendee ribbon, but it all worked out.  People took mercy on me, plus it gave me a good excuse to make a fool of myself without an expectations.  Hee hee!  Not that I did or anything, it was just a good excuse. "Oh, she doesn't know any better, she's new."  LOL!

Long Time No Post

My how time flies!  It doesn't seem like that long, but it's been ages since I posted an entry.  Bad me!  So, I will be attending my very first SCBWI conference next weekend and I would love to hear some suggestions.  What are some Do's and Don't's?  What kinds of questions should be asked?  What is an absolute necessity to bring with me?  If any of you have some nuggets of wisdom to share, I'd love to hear it.  Plus, this may help out others as well! 

Also, I know all you seasoned conference veterans out there must have a story or two to tell, and I'd love to hear it if you're willing to share.  Did you stumble and fall in front of your Dream Agent?  Did you totally flub your logline?  I want it all, the good, the bad, and the ugly! 

Thank You Writer Buddies!! 

 


Renewed Enthusiasm

The other day I sent off a partial requested by an agent, and now the waiting begins.  This single act has renewed my enthusiasm for querying agents again.  It's been a long time, well, several months I guess, since I sent out a query letter and I am determined to revise my query letter and get back in the game.  I've gone through so many revisions of my manuscript, that I think it's just about as tight as I can make it.  Now, I need to tighten my query letter and some how come up with a log line.  YIKES! 

My sissy, shannywriter  purchased a book about query letters from Elana Johnson called From the Query to the Call and you can purchase it right from her website, queryninja.blogspot.com, and download it immediately.  Shannon has raved about it, and as an added bonus for buying the book, Elana herself will critique your query for you.  The book is fairly inexpensive, less than $10, but seems to be a great investment.  I may jump on that bandwagon also. 

So, once again I enter the realm of Queryland where I hope to avoid Darth Rejection.  Hopefully this time around won't be as bad as the last time.  Although, I have to say that last time I had no right querying agents, I sooooo was not ready, and fortunately I realized fairly quickly and didn't go through too many agents before stopping.  So this time around I know my ms is tighter and I hope to have more requests for partials and fulls.  It is a long journey, and I have miles upon miles to trek, but I do so with a story I believe in and an unwavering determination.

CHARGE!!!  ---------------------------------------------------------->  (my joust, do you like it?) Hee Hee!

Mini Squee!

I have a ms that I have been working on, and working on, and working on.  Feeling a bit frustrated, I had decided to shelve it for a little while so I could focus on another project that I started about 2 months ago.  So, here I am chugging away on said new project, feeling really good about it, and loving what I've done with it so far, when low and behold I get a request for my first ms.  Don't get me wrong, I'm really excited because the agent is a well-known agent in a Big Agency, which also only makes my nerves flare up that much more.  But, now I have to stop with my other project and focus on this one, just as I was starting to get into a good rhythm with my new one.  Make sense?   Does anyone else find it difficult to jump right back into something you've set aside?

So, I'm switching gears now and immersing myself into my first ms to ensure perfection, or as close as I can get, before sending it on its merry way.  Thankfully I have two great critique partners who have helped me with the first few chapters, yay!  

Wish me luck! 

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