December 31, 2012

As promised on this the last day of 2012, I've decided to go back and show you what my first year as a soon to be agented/published writer looked like. So in timeline style, here goes:

January 13, 2012 (Friday the 13th): I am so very busy twitter stalking my friend who also happens to be an agent. I'd formally queried her with my latest project back in November, in the midst of the annual NanoWrimo assault on her and every other agent's slush pile. She'd warned me that she was swamped, but would read my manuscript as soon as was humanly possible for her. I had not given the manuscript to anyone else yet because I wanted to give her first dibs. I also valued her opinion and wanted to see if she'd give me some pointers on how to improve it before I sent it to anyone else. That night out of the blue she mentions that she's reading a manuscript she can't put down. I cross my fingers that it's mine. She emails me about a half hour later and confirms that it is and that she'll get back to me when she finishes. Needless to say I don't sleep that night. AT ALL.

January 14, 2012: I'm sitting at the local Mexican restaurant with the hubs and kiddies pounding chips and salsa because I'm still nervous and twitter stalking and...nervous. I get an email from said agent who happens to be the fabulous Lucienne Diver, and she says she wants to discuss representation. I think I squee so loud that the ENTIRE restaurant stares at me. Kids look at me like I've lost my mind. Hubby had stepped away from the table and so found out a few minutes later. I can no longer eat (rare for me) and so I just sit there and grin. Because I'm lucky enough to live in close proximity to Lucienne she emails me offering to meet the next day to talk things over over coffee. I step all over myself to email her back and accept. Then I call every single person I know. The plus here? I could be just over the moon excited and not ask all of the questions you're supposed to about your prospective agent because I already knew Lucienne well enough to know that she would be an awesome agent.

January 15, 2012: I meet Lucienne for coffee and pretend to be cool. I doubt I pulled it off too well. I was shaking like a leaf inside. That nervous, jittery, "I'm about to freak out" kind of shaking. Probably my lips were twitching. Lucienne started the conversation by gushing about my book. I can't remember all that she said, I just know that I was beaming. She asked if I'd sent it out to anyone else and if I would consider having her represent me which shocked me because she seemed nervous that I might not pick her. It was all I could do not to tackle her when I said yes, I was that excited.

January: the next five or so days after that: I haven't put an exact date because this is where things get blurry in my memory. Lucienne sent me my contract for the agency and got to work on my revision notes. She felt that the manuscript was tight enough to go out with just a few tweaks. She gave them to me in two parts and I spent about a week making the necessary changes and biting my finger nails that I managed to do them well. She was scheduled to go up to NYC for some other business and decided to pitch my book while there. She gave me a list of editors/houses she planned to submit to. It was long and impressive. I emailed back as calmly as possible that I liked the list. I had a few secret faves, several of whom had edited authors that I love. It was surreal and scary and I didn't sleep much at all. By now I was checking email like a mad woman and basically researching every editor on the list.

Beginning of February: Lucienne goes up to NYC. She'd sent out the manuscript to some editors already and met with several others. My list of editors grew as she mentioned my manuscript to other editors not on our list in passing and they asked to look it over. I walk around the house twitter stalking all of the editors actually on twitter and wringing my hands.

Second week of February: I get my first editor rejection. It is kind, the editor did end up reading the whole manuscript (which is not always how it works), but unfortunately didn't connect with it. I try not to freak out and concentrate on all of the really nice things she had to say while rejecting it.

AND then there is silence for a few weeks. I have other friends who are out on sub. They get deals very quickly. While I'm happy for them--as in very, very happy for them, the speed of their deals shakes my confidence and I begin to worry.

Third to fourth week (or there abouts) of February: I get my first interest, an offer from an editor, and one that I have grown to really like (from a distance) whilst Twitter stalking:-) I start to get excited and nervous. I would like very much to write a sequal to the book I have out on sub, but this editor is not interested in said sequel at all. I swallow this disappointment and write up several synopses of other ideas I've been kicking around to show her to consider since she'd like to offer a two book deal, gulp. I'm worried that she won't like what I'd like to write next, that she might reconsider offering. She doesn't and I begin to feel real hope. Still, we decide to wait to hear from the other houses or at least some of them before talking about taking this offer. This is where an agent is crucial. It's hard to know what the right move is in this kind of situation. An agent has been there/done that a bunch of times before. Lucienne kept her head when I didn't/couldn't and steered me right.

A few days go by and still silence from the bulk of  the list of editors. I'm beginning to get nervous. Lucienne has nerves of steel and keeps me calm and informed as stuff arises.

Beginning of March: I get some nibbles that quickly snowball into interest. My manuscript is in second reads, etc. with several houses and is being seriously considered. One of them I have been secretly coveting. I try not to get my hopes up too much for this house because second reads don't make a deal, all of the interest can still fall through. Every day brings a flurry of emails now. There is enough serious interest to warrant an auction which is how Lucienne expected it would go from the start. I am in a perpetual state of "on the verge of throwing up". The auction date looms closer. A few houses drop out, but there are still an impressive amount of houses working through all of their reads. We go into auction day with I believe at least four or five houses still in the game. I navigate emails and agent phone calls from everywhere from Walmart to my oldest's field trip where they fuss at me for being on the phone, but I do it anyway because this is the biggest thing to ever happen to me. One of the houses I was really excited about drops out here, but there are still enough in the game that I am not too disappointed. I do start to worry about how the auction will go and have anxiety attacks that the day will arrive and they'll all realize that they don't want my story and back out.

Auction Day!(Middle of March): The day is strangely quiet at first. I freak out BIG TIME, but silently and to myself. Lucienne is upbeat and keeps in touch all day. I refresh my email constantly. I chew my fingernails to the quick. I pace. I stare at the ceiling. One house drops out. I feel sicker. The original house interested in me weighs in with their best offer. I'm happy that they've come back again with an even stronger offer and am now feeling like I will definitely get a deal, but am secretly still holding out hope for this certain house that I've been coveting. They're very much in the game and want a sequel and working on their offer.We wait to get the other offers in from the remaining houses as well. The deadline is set for 4pm.  Finally, I am in the car rider line at my kids' school waiting to pick them up. It is now five minutes to four. We've heard from all of the houses except the one I've been coveting. I've begun to lose hope that they'll come back with an offer. The phone rings as the cars start to inch forward to the pick up lane. It's Lucienne. She asks if I've checked my email. I haven't. I've just spent the last few minutes staring into space. The last house has come back with an offer. Plus it is from the house I secretly really, really wanted. She tells me the advance sum and I promptly yell "Oh my God!" into the phone over and over while Lucienne laughs. It's for so much more than I dared hope, although is almost exactly what Lucienne was predicting (not that she told me this until it was over in case it didn't actually go that way--the process is nerve-wracking enough for me already). I'm shaking all over and feeling strangely like a character in a movie-like the guy who makes a touch down in the last seconds of the game. My ears are roaring. Lucienne gives me some more details and I try to listen, but I'm basically out of my body. The kids enter the car and gawk at their teary-eyed, overly tembly mom. At first they're scared. I hang up the phone and tell them what happened and then we're all screaming and shouting and celebrating. I call my husband and he leaves work immediately to come home, shows up at our door with a bouquet of roses. I call my mom and she starts to cry. It is one of the best moments of my entire life. We eat out that night and I think I smile for an entire week straight, even in my sleep.

The week after the auction: I hear back from Lucienne about details. We firm up a few broad points about the deal and I get a very, very nice email from my new editor, Suzy Capozzi, who just seems lovely. We schedule a time to talk on the phone. I try to write something new, but it's hard. My life seems so surreal. My deal appears in Publisher's Weekly and in Publisher's Marketplace. I stare at both anouncements for a long, long time and just marvel. It still doesn't seem real. I talk with Suzy over the phone and we click right away. She gets my book in ways I didn't dare hope. She is wonderful and gushy about it and it hits me just how big this all really is all over again. I float around the house for days afterwards.

AND then I am in for a wait. Once the deal is set, the world slowly goes back to normal. After the flurry of excitement around the auction and such, my email goes pretty quiet. The contract is being worked out and drawn up and I won't hear from Suzy for awhile about my revisions. I begin to think about the sequel and start writing it, but it is slow, slow going. I think it's hard because my concentration is just shot. I have to wrap my head around what it all means and because my deal was much bigger than I'd ever dared to imagine, I felt the weight of it. I wanted (and still do) to live up to that advance and not disappoint anyone. The only problem? I didn't feel different as a writer. Validated? Yes. Different? No. I could almost see the wide gap between what I knew craft wise and what I felt I should know now that I was "legit". I write a lot of scenes that I won't ultimately use. I buy a lot of new craft books and start studying earnestly.

It is the beginning of July before I sign my contract. Four months from the time of the offer. It was enough time to make me worry that they were changing their minds-irrational and ridiculous on my part, but I am insecure about every aspect of this business at this point. I'd prepared like a fiend for the querying process, I am not at all prepared or versed on this part. I let out the longest sigh of relief when I sign. The first advance payment comes shortly after this. I almost throw it away by accident! It comes with a copy of the contract and so at first I only think it is the contract that I'm supposed to be getting. The check itself had stuck to the side of the FedEx envelope. I had already put the envelope in the trash when something inside me told me to make sure that there was nothing else in it. I take a picture with the check and make a copy to keep before running directly to the bank. We celebrate by leaving two days later on a summer trip to the mountains in North Carolina and to visit family. I was about as happy as anyone can ever be. It felt the same way it did when I was newly pregnant, like my dreams were coming true one at a time and the future was scary, but bright.

This puts us at  a little over the half way point in the year. Since this is quite a long post, I'll finish this up on Wednesday. Happy New Year, everyone! May this year be for you what last year was for me. Truly a dream come true!

December 28, 2012

Guest Post: Hangin' with the Luckies

I'm over at the Lucky 13's blog today talking goals and such for the new year. Stop in if you have a minute. And check back in on New Year's Eve when I recap this year (my first as an agented and then soon to be published author). I'll let you in on what my timeline has been like from agent to book deal to where the book stands now progress-wise. In the meantime, have fun with family, be merry and enjoy this last little bit of 2012!

December 21, 2012


The cover for my book, GATED (formerly THE SILO) is being revealed over at Iceybooks today!!!!
I'd love it if you stopped over there and took a look-see. I'm so in love with it. It's just the right amount of creepy and the girl in it is perfect as Lyla. Her face really conveys Lyla's fear/questioning. I actually gasped when I saw it for the first time. Intrigued yet? I hope so! Get yourself over to Iceybooks and check it out. I promise it'll be worth your while. My editor's donating an arc in honor of the cover release which are being printed very soon. If you win, you'll be one of the very first to read it!

December 17, 2012

Total Brag Fest for Krystalyn, My Critter

This post is all about my lovely critique partner, Krystalyn Drown. Specifically, I'm throwing down the cover for her upcoming book for you to ogle at.

Isn't it purty?!!! I've read this book and I can tell you that the cover captures the mood and feeling of it perfectly. I especially love the wistful quality that it has and of course, that sunset. And did you notice Krystalyn's last name? How perfect is that for a book about selkies and the sea? If you'd like to know more about the book or Krystalyn, be sure to visit her blog.

Congratulations on a great cover, Krystalyn!

December 12, 2012

I Have the Perfect Way to Celebrate the End of the World

According to the Mayan calendar, the end of the world is just a little over a week away now. They ended their calendar on December 21, 2012 (12/21/12) and so people everywhere are eithering gearing up to party Prince-style like it's 1999---in 2012---or to bug out and hunker down in a shelter somewhere.

 Is it the end?

I don't think so. I think it's something else. Something exciting....

What it is is my book's cover reveal. My apocalyptic book's cover reveal!

 I know.

How perfect, right?

I wish I could say that I planned it that way. The strangest thing about it is that I didn't. I only realized after we set the date. BUT I think that makes it all the eerier, don't you?

I'd love to hint at what it looks like, but as much as I'm dying to, I won't. My lips are sealed. Tight. So tight that I am barely talking for fear of letting things slip. What I will say is that the cover completely exceeds every expectation I had. IT IS AWESOME!!!!!!!But you'll have to see for yourself...

that is if you survive long enough to look it up.

You never know.

Maybe those Mayans are on to something after all....

Just in case you're still here next week, here's the cover reveal particulars:

The cover will go up at ICEYBOOKS on Friday, 12/21/12 along with a rockin' giveaway and a personal post by yours truly. I'll tweet reminders at you all this week and would love it if you spread the word for me too! Then come Friday I'll be popping in to ICEYBOOKS to see what you think of the cover, so please do leave a comment to let me know.

Come party with me apocalypse style!

December 11, 2012

Zombies, Christmas Trees, and Deadlines

As you know I've been really, really busy writing/revising of late and haven't been around these parts nearly as often as I should have been.

What I've learned?

I'm not as good at balancing things as I'd like to be, but I think maybe I'll get the hang of it over time. So, what I'd like to do now is to catch you up on what's happening here, so here we go:

1. Halloween--That's right I'm going back a few months, but only because I have to brag on my super sweet, Halloween obsessed hubby who did a fabulous job turning our yard into a zombie apocalypse. Every year he themes out the yard differently in time for the pumpkin carving party we have for our two girls and their friends. He even turns their playroom into a mini haunted house.

We had radioactive zombies
Hubby and me at my agent, Lucienne Diver's, Halloween party. Hubby was Grimes from The Walking Dead, I was Alice from Resident Evil


2. Revisions/Edits/and Release dates--Right before Halloween I completed my first edits on my book, THE SILO, and then we went and changed the title to something that better reflected what the book's about, so now it's called GATED. After that and since then, I've been neck deep in GATED'S sequel which is a beast and getting beastier all the time. Hardest book to write ever. I've heard lots of authors complain about how hard second books, ones under contract, are and they are not lying. This book has been the ultimate test in perseverence. BUT I am at the last stage of revisions and feeling much better about it now. And as you know, my book is now on Amazon for preorder and has an actual release date...August 27, 2013. Even as I type the date it feels unreal. I keep thinking all of this is happening to someone else!

3. Thanksgiving--I traveled up to Pennsylvania to be with family over the holiday. It was nice to get away to someplace cold since it's a non-season here right now. Our Thanksgiving tradition? Wake up and play parade bingo (I print out these bingo cards with parade themed stuff to find and mark off), breakfast by the TV, taking a long afternoon walk and turkey dinner time around four in the afternoon. We usually end up sprawled out on the sofa at day's end watching a Christmas movie and this year it was ELF. Favorite food item? I make a mean sweet potato casserole that is probably my favorite thing to eat all year.

My hubby and the kiddies with my parents before we seriously tucked into the food.

4. Now, Merry Christmas--Now we're deep into the season, but as per usual, we are only just now getting up decorations. I am slow and a bit curmudgeonly about doing them before it's actually December. Our tree got decorated last is always a hodge podge of sentimental decorations. The ornaments are almost all homemade. If you look close you'll see big felt ones that look like snowmen and trees and stars...these were on my Christmas tree when I was little. My mom made them.
Our tree, newly decorated.
Our Christmas countdown. The kids open the doors and I leave little prizes or scavenger hunt clues to the prizes.

And now, I'm just gonna tease you bit. I have a present for you! One that I'll talk about in my next post. Look for it by week's end. Until then, enjoy your holiday season and if you get a moment, tell me what's been happening with you too. I've missed you guys!

December 4, 2012

I'm Baaaack! And With News, Too! THE SILO is now GATED and It's On Amazon!

I know, I know, I dropped off the face of the earth there for awhile. BAD BLOGGER! *wraps own knuckles*

I have a really good reason, though.

No, it's not that I went on a Godiva salted caramel milk chocolate binge (although mutliple bars have been consumed, I won't lie).

I've been revising my first book and trying to finish my second book--the one that is literally the monkey on my back right now because it has been such a challenge to write--more on that in upcoming posts. I've been deep in my writer cave for the last two months, sometimes not leaving the house for a week at a time, sad but TRUE.

BUT I am leaving it today because I have some awesome news to share!! Are you ready for it? My book is on Amazon for pre-order and I can officially let you know that the title has changed from THE SILO to GATED!!!  I won't lie, I'm over the moon this morning-completely and utterly floating. I have an ISBN number! I have a release date-August 27, 2013! I have a book you can pre-order! Eeeep!

Today is officially a great day!

October 31, 2012

Tag, I'm It! THe Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Elsie Chapman, my Random House sibling and fellow Lucky 13-er, and author of a book I am DYING to get my hands on this winter, DUALED, has tapped me to take part in a blog hop today with the theme, The Next Big Thing. We're supposed to answer ten questions about the next big thing that we're working on and then tag some other lovely writers to do the same. Since the big thing I'm working on right now is the sequel to my debut novel, THE SILO, I'll be answering all of these questions with both books in mind. Once you're done here, you should really stop by Elsie's blog because she has ALL KINDS of interesting stuff going on over there.

1) What is the working title of your book?
THE SILO is the title of book one and the sequel is VERY tentatively called THE COMMUNITY--but don't get comfortable with it since I am almost one hundred percent sure that I'll change it as I get closer to finishing.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was watching this show on TV about people who are prepping for the end of the world this year and all of the underground shelters that have been built recently--some very elaborate and expensive. It fascinated me that there were people out there willing to shell out millions of dollars for a luxury shelter because they were that convinced about the end of the world. It got me thinking about how people who are intelligent and well off could become convinced of something that seems sort of looney tunes to most us, so convinced that they'd pull away from regular society to prepare. The book really just grew from there.

3)What genre does your book fall under?
Strictly speaking, my book is a contemporary. Everything that happens could and in some instances has happned, but I do think that there is definitely a dystopian vibe to it because the community I'm writing about is self-contained and basically self-governed in a sense and it's own little world inside of our bigger one.

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I actually don't know. I google pics of regular type people for character inspiration. I might google something like: red haired boy or some such and pics of normal people will show up amongst the movie star ones. I'm more drawn to the regular pics. But for Pioneer, my cult leader...if pressed I'd say the actor who plays House, Hugh Laurie, most closely resembles him.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
THE SILO and it's sequel are about a girl who's grown up in an apocalyptic cult who has to decide what she believes in and what she's willing to do for those beliefs in the last few months leading up to what just might be the end of the world.

6)Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Both of my books are being published through Random House Children's and will come out in Fall 2013 and 2014 respectively.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I don't know. The truth is that I never actually finish a draft until after the revisions are done. I save the last few chapters to write once the rest of the book is polished. So, to give some sort of an answer, I write a draft in 7 months, but at the end of seven months it's polished.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Good question. I honestly don't know. I purposely avoided any books that were about cults to make sure that I didn't unconsciously borrow from them. But there is a movie that I watched shortly after I finished book one that has some similar elements---Martha Marcy May Marlene. Not a YA movie, but definitely has the same pyschological themes.

9) Who or What inspired you to write this book?

My need to understand why someone would chose to give up their freedom and ability to think critiquely to belong to a group. I am a control freak and I just don't get it. I think I'm closer to understanding it now, though.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I think the fact that everything that happens in it could happen to contemporary teens. It's scary and creepy and terrible and heartbreaking in some senses and absolutely inspired by news stories from our past and from now.

Tag, now YOU'RE it!

I'm breaking the rules just a bit now since I was elbow deep in revisions the last few weeks and many of the people I reached out to tag (very last minute *hangs head*) were already tagged by someone else. SO, in leiu of tagging, I'm going to propose that  anyone reading this blog that's interested in taking part is officially tagged to take part in this hop next week. Just put your link in the comments and I'll edit this post to also put it up here. You will need to answer the ten questions above on your blog next Wednesday, November 7th and then tag five others to do the same for the Wednesday after.

And we have some players!!!

Check out these blogs next Wednesday:

Katie over at Breath of Books 

Rachel over at Rachel Writes Things


October 25, 2012

Guest Blogging Today

Okay, I am totally not keeping my word and blogging all regular like. SORRY! Life keeps getting in the way. Namely edits for my book, THE SILO, and trying to finish it's sequel by my deadline. In the pajamas now as I noon...on a weekday. Haven't been outside of the house since the weekend. Falling apart here a little, people!

BUT in the midst of this, I wanted to let you know that I'll be at The Luckies blog today talking about crushes and writing. If you want to stop by, I'd be over the moon.

In the meantime, I'll be back here blogging in the next few days, really, no really, I MEAN IT. Gotta show you the awesome front yard scape the hubs did for Halloween among other things. SO KEEP CHECKING IN!

October 15, 2012

Anyone Up For NaNoWriMo?

I am just about done drafting the sequel to my book, THE SILO, which means time for new projects and trying new things. SO, I'm going to dip my toes in the NaNoWriMo water and see if I can bang out a fairly sucky first draft next month for a new idea I've been toying with. Have any of you attempted it before? If so, how did you do? I figure it's a good idea because I find that first draft phase to be the longest part of the process for me and I tend to write the first half of the book over and over again before I tackle the end. Now I'm wondering if maybe shaking up my process and forcing myself to write one entire draft without tinkering might help me in the long run go quicker. I'll probably still have to throw out quite a bit of what I write next month before I have anything workable, but who knows?

My Goals:

1. I'm going to try and be just slightly more ambitious than 50k, but only because I write full time and can devote more writing time per unofficially my goal is 60k.

2. I'd like to complete the first draft of a sci fi piece that's a bit of a mash up of a YA Total Recall/Matrix and is a complete departure from what I've been writing recently. Time to challenge myself, I think and to cleanse my writing palate...too much time spent researching the inner workings of cults and fringe groups can mess with your head.

If you are going to sign up this year, I'd love it if you'd drop me a line about it in the comments and then if you wanna, :-) you can hop on over to the NaNoWriMo site and we can be writing buddies. I'm there under amychristinepar1 *Jumps up and down* Can't wait to get started!!!

October 9, 2012

My Process

So, I'm in the final stages of writing the sequel to my book, THE SILO. Yay!!! And since I'm at the end I've been thinking a lot about the process I go through to get from the idea to the finished book...and here's the's not the most efficient or speedy method. I start out with good intentions, outlining and mapping out day to day what scenes I'll work on, but I'd say for months I end up writing a lot of scenes that I ultimately end up throwing out. I take every possible wrong turn it seems until I finally find the right road to take story wise. I read an interview with Libba Bray recently where she said that part of her process always involved writing the book wrong before she could get it right and I am exactly the same. I throw out just as much, if not more as I keep with EVERY SINGLE BOOK. And I don't foresee that changing. I have notebooks and notebooks of words that will never see the light of day again as well as a whole host of typed in scenes that are going to launguish in my computer forever. I keep hoping that I'll somehow figure out how to skip this part so I can go faster, but no matter how much preplanning I do, it doesn't happen. And this is what makes writing a novel hard...because the part where I write all the wrong stuff...isn't fun. Somehow I can always feel it, even when I'm in the midst of writing it, but still I have to soldier on because for me it's the only way to get to the stuff that'll stick. Which means that about 90% of my writing time feels forced and hard. Things only get fun at this stage--the one I'm in now, that last 10%-- when I know exactly where I'm going. At this point the words come easily and I can't wait to get to the computer and have to drag myself away from it at night. How about you? Is your process similar or do the words come easier?

October 1, 2012

Five Strange Things You Didn't Know About Me Until Today

Okay, so I am off on a kick butt family vacation, soaking up sun and frolicking. Here:

In honor of my gulp fortieth birthday which is October 3rd. It will be my last by the way. After this I refuse to get any older...that's right, you heard me Father Time, the madness stops here. Anyway, so I will be off the grid until Friday, but in my absence I'm leaving this post.
Five Strange Things You Didn't Know About Me Until Today:
1. I had a giant (and I do mean GIANT) poster of Bo and Luke from The Dukes of Hazard above my bed when I was in second grade and I used to kiss Bo right on his paper lips regularly. It was this picture. Seventies/eighties style sexy!
2. I once got stitches in my forehead because I hit the corner of a glass end table with my face when my brother and I decided to try to see who could knock over who first...with our hands and feet bound together with socks. Yeah, we were BRILLIANT.
3. In third grade my favorite past time was popping in my parents' eight track of Barry Manilow and doing seventies style karoake to "Copacabana". I was so edgy. I can still sing that song by heart. Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl...
4. I once beat up a boy when I was in fourth grade who was trying to bully me---with my violin case.
5. One of the most embarrassing things I have ever had to do was when I was a teacher in inner city Atlanta. I used to meet with some of the teachers to work out after school and when my principal caught wind of it she made us get up and do an aerobics routine in front of ALL THE PARENTS on meet the teacher night. Picture a very white and non rhythmic me surrounded by three very overweight elderly black ladies (doing a much better job working what the good Lord gave them) in front of a room full of gangsta style parents and grandparents from a neighborhood that's one of the roughest in ALL of ATL. doing a sort of weird Richard Simmons type thing. IT WAS NOT PRETTY. There was a lot of laughing going on...and pointing....and I wasn't the one doing it.

September 26, 2012

Lucky Blog

I am over at The Lucky 13s blog today talking about quitting and the key to publication. I'd love it if you stopped in to check it out.

AND if you haven't already, I'd love it if you'd stop over at Goodreads too and put THE SILO on your to read list.

AND if you haven't checked out my latest Fiction Femme Fatale short story, it's up RIGHT NOW.

I'm just sending you all over Blogger today, aren't I?

September 24, 2012

Five Things To Keep In Mind Once You're Querying...and Beyond

Just a quick post today listing five things that not everyone considers once they've finished their novel and start sending out queries. (I know I didn't) I'm not talking writing queries or picking agents or any of that really wonderful advice type stuff. I'm talking the underbelly of things, the stuff you don't always hear about or prepare for.

1. The genre of the novel that you're querying to agents and hoping to get out on submission will probably be the genre that you'll need to stick with for awhile. I know that this isn't the case for everyone, but for me, it was absolutely true. If you get an agent and your manuscript goes out on submission, the editor that considers it seriously or picks it up is looking to round out the publishing house's list. It's not the only thing that they consider, but it helps them make a stronger case for picking up your book to other in house editors and the marketing team if you fill a hole in their current list and look to be someone who'll continue filling it. For example, your editor may already have several parnormal authors signed on, but is lacking a contemporary one...or is in need of someone who does dystopians. Chances are good that if you want to pitch the editor that picked you up again for the next book deal, they'll be hoping that you'll pitch a book in the same vein as the one you've just written and therefore keeping that hole filled. SILO is what I like to call a contemporary with a twist which really means that I just sprinkled in dystopic themes/elements, but all in all it is one hundred percent something that could and does happen in this world right now. For the book that I'll be pitching after I've completed the sequel for SILO, I'll be pitching another contemporary, this time with hints of the paranormal, but still one hundred percent real and possible in this world. I have ideas that fall out of SILO's genre, but for now I'm pursuing the contemporary ones because they serve to build the audience I'll hopefully attract with SILO. As a new author it only makes sense for the publisher and for me to write in a similar vein for awhile before I veer too far off the path into something else. Or if you write quickly and are really good at multitasking, you can always consider writing those other ideas under a pen name so that you can write them along with the others and sell to an additional publisher.

2. You should have other ideas that have nothing to do with your current book that you could write synopses for if your agent or the editor asks you to (which they will do and will even sometimes ask you to complete them in a short period of time, say a day or a few hours-you're out on submission after all and you have to strike while the iron's hot). I wrote SILO as a stand alone always knowing that there could be a sequel. I just wasn't going to write that sequel unless the editor expressed interest. Which was the right way to go considering that out of the two editors that were the big front runners for picking up SILO, only one was interested in a sequel. Luckily, I had already been toying with two other ideas and had started writing one of them. I also had a sequel synopsis for SILO that I sent as well.

3. You may have an extremely short wait or an extremely long one while finding an agent and neither is always an indicator of how fast your submission process will be. I got my agent pretty quickly. She read SILO and offered me representation in less than twenty four hours. I'd queried her the month before, but it was the holidays and so I think my process was extremely fast. She asked me to do some very simple revising, like I only needed a few days to do it kind of revising, and then we were out on sub by the beginning of the next month. Which is really, really fast. But once it went out, I was rejected by one house almost immediately and then it sat in editors' slush for a month before anyone else had an opportunity to pick it up and read. BUT once one of them did and offered, everyone else read in a hurry and things sped up. I've had friends who signed on with an agent and then revised for almost a year before going on sub...but once they were on sub, got picked up in less than a week. I've had friends that went out on sub not long after getting an agent and were on sub for almost a year before they got picked up. And I've had friends that spent a year querying before signing with an agent and then once out on sub, got picked up almost immediately. I wish I could say that there was some formula to it, but so many factors go into how an editor prioritizes their slush, how an agent prioritizes theirs, and how all the right people for one book finally find each other. AND just because you're waiting periods are short, doesn't mean that your advance will be big. (although in my experience, most of the writers I know that had fast sub times also had larger advances, just not all)

4. You will feel emotional and needy and mildy hysterical on and off basically from now on. Querying is just the beginning of your rollercoaser ride. If you think you're tied to your email waiting for agents to respond, just wait until you're waiting to hear from editors. So take up some kind of intense physical exercise and prewarn all family members that many emotional break downs are in all of your futures: you'll have them and they'll have the unfortunate task of witnessing them. And if all goes well and you get an agent and an editor, your angst won't disappear, it'll intenisfy. Being picked up by an agent and/or a publishing house is win the lottery big. And it feels like that. Getting my agent call and the call with editor offers were the two times my life most closely resembled a movie, it was that dramatic. It is a high that I can't possibly describe except to say that it felt like my body was splitting apart and soaring in every direction. I have never, ever been so completely joyous save for the birth of my two daughters and the day I married my husband. It's a joy that you just want to experience over and over again, a realization of a long standing dream. Which is where the emotional needy thing comes in. It feels so good that you immediately become terrified that somehow it won't work out in the end, like somehow the editor/agent will change their minds. I think it's the pessimistic nature in all of us...the this has to be a dream because there's no way I get to have this for real kind of stuff. And so I know I have to fight the urge to get constant reassurrance from my agent or editor or both of them, especially when the writing of the next book isn't as smooth as I'd like, because otherwise I would literally be emailing or calling them EVERY SINGLE DAY.

5. Querying, being out on submission, and ultimately writing under deadlines will mess with your will whatever you write next. I had an extremely difficult time writing during every phase of this process. It was unbelivably tempting to just brood and hover over the email all day stuffing my face with chocolate. BUT weirdly, pushing myself to do it anyway always helped. You can't actually hover over the email all least not after about a week or so and when you do, it makes for incredibly slow days. Still, what I managed to write was nine times out of ten not very good. I did it anyway, though, and so should you because it's good practice, this persevering in the face of high anxiety for what comes later. At least for me the writing of the next book, the one under contract has been some of the most difficult writing that I have ever, ever done. I want to stay published so badly that it's almost paralyzing. Failing when no one's looking isn't nearly as embarrassing and frightening as the concept of failing when ALL THE PEOPLE YOU ADMIRE are. This is where the determination that it took to hang in there no matter what comes in handy. It's why having to wait months and years to get to this point is a good thing. It gives you time to develop some giant brass you know whats.

September 18, 2012

What My Writing Day Looks Like

I know that before I was able to write full time from home I was always fascinated by other writers who could and what their day might look like and I thought maybe you might be too. So, I figured that I might give you a glimpse of what my day looks like. Here goes:

6:30 ish-I aim to work out at this time....sometimes I make it...other times I hit the snooze. A LOT.

7:30-9:50-Get dressed, make kids' lunches, unload/load dishwasher, make my bed, check emails, make breakfast for the kids, fold a load of laundry, put a load away.

9:50-10:00-Twitter/internet time...when I'm writing I try to keep this to a quick look see until lunch time...but sometimes I fail and am still online a half hour later.

10:00-12:00-Writing time/banging my head on the computer/scribbling out words on my legal pad/angsting time. I try to keep this time sacred, BUT sometimes it's interrupted by sick kids or unforseen tasks like cleaning up cat puke.

12:00-12:30-Lunch/reading time. I dive into a book with my Lean Cuisine. I'm exciting aren't I?

12:30-2:30--type in/revise as I type what I wrote in the am (I draft initially on legal pads). If I'm lucky, I don't want to erase it all...if I'm not...I'm rewriting as I type, sometimes from scratch.Since I do this everyday you'd think that I would finish a novel extra quick...but no such luck. I am usually forced to throw out LARGE amounts of what I write before it gets good enough to keep.

2:30-3:30-Check internet, maybe blog if my brain's not fried. Run all errands like a crazy woman with ten tasks and only an hour to do them in.

3:30-pick up the kids from school so I can then: help with homework, make dinner, clean up dinner, give baths, blow dry hair (and with two girls this takes FOREVER), start dishwasher, check email, take the kids to their various extracurriculur type activities, read with kids, get everyone ready for bed. It's like a marathon of tasks until about 9pm

9ish: Hubby and I sit down to read/work a little more/watch an hour of television...between requests for water, heating pads, cool cloths for foreheads, etc.

I usually fall into bed about 11ish with a book and am out by midnight.

It's a pretty great schedule, I'll be the first to admit it. I'm a lucky, lucky girl. I still pinch myself just about daily. As you can see I'm still pretty first book isn't out yet and I haven't had any heavy revision sessions for it so far. I'm assuming that the above schedule will start to evolve into something a little more hectic and crazy once I get closer to my debut time and after I have multiple books to focus on at a time. I'll keep ya posted. 

September 14, 2012

Guest Blogging

I am over at The League of Extraordinary Writers today blogging about dystopians and how the present can help inspire them.

Also, my CP, Krystalyn, has a terrific flash ficiton piece up on our blog: The Fiction Femme Fatale. Check it out, it's beautiful and heartbreaking...and if you haven't ever wandered over there before, there are a lot of great short stories there written by myself, Krystalyn and my other two CPs, Stefanie and Jenn.

September 13, 2012

Once You Have The Book Deal: 5 Things I've Learned

As most of you know by now, I was lucky enough this past March to get picked up by Random House Children's for a two book deal. Well, I thought now might be a good time to summarize what I've learned to date about the process (at least how it's worked for me). I know that at least for me personally, I did a TON of research on how to get an agent and the submissions process, but I did little to none on what comes after. So, without further ado, I'd like to share what I've discovered with you. I've compiled 5 things that I didn't fully know or understand about this process before I was actually in it.

1. It can take months and months after your deal to get your contract signed. There's a lot to hammer out when a contract is put together and sometimes it sits on someone's desk while they're on vacation or working on other people's stuff or your agent has to negotiate some items on it. You will feel like that after the initial flurry of excitement surrounding the deal there's nothing but crickets talking to you and you might end up spending a lot of time rereading your Publisher's Marketplace announcement trying to convince yourself that it really happened. Bank on anywhere from one month to up to four or even five before you finally sign. I was on the long side of things, but well within the normal range at four months. This also means that any advance that you may be getting won't come until a week or two at least after the contract is signed. In other words, don't quit your day job just yet.

2. There will be long periods where you won't hear from anyone. Agents and editors are busy, busy people who can barely squeeze all that they have to do into any given day. Expect updates when they have them on your book and it's progress, but don't expect daily or weekly emails all the time. This is important to know because after you get a deal, you will go from ecstatic to scared crapless in the space of the first twenty four hours after your deal and will be looking for reassurrance and guidance and as much information as possible about your book at all times. But here's the thing: after the deal's made, chances are that your book won't be out for at least a year and a half, but probably longer. There's nothing going on with your book right after the deal because you still have a LONG way to go before anything needs to be done. Your editor will be working on your editorial notes, but that's about it and that can take her some time, think months here. Use this time to get your internet presence together (Twitter, a blog, Tumbler, a website) and to start working on your next project, especially if you have a two book deal. (this is what everyone's hoping you're doing which is sometimes why they don't bother you with updates until they need to). The only time you should be worried is if you send emails to your agent or editor and they consistently don't get back to you within a few days to a week.

3. Support groups made up of other debut authors and/or published author's is key. I joined The Lucky 13s AS SOON as my deal went through and am so glad that I did. Hearing about their experiences and realizing how similar they are to your own will save you many, many times from composing a paranoid, angst filled, and weepy email in a moment of weakness to your agent, or worse, your editor that makes you look less than professional and more than a little crazy pants. You will be insecure about 99.9999% of the time during this process. Embrace it and make friends who are in the same boat. It will save your life and your career, I promise.Publishing is a SLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW process most of the time and you will have long periods where you are isolated in your little writerly hole waiting on news or fretting over edit letters or fretting over cover concepts or release dates or marketing. Other writers can help you figure out how to deal when you're just too close to the situation to see the forest from the trees.

4.Give yourself EXTRA time to write your second book. Here's why: there will be days when the highs or lows you're experiencing with the book that sold will keep you from being productive. You are going to be published now and so the expectations you have for yourself and the expectations that others have for you will mess with your head. It can be a real struggle to get anything good on paper and you may have to do more writing than you've had to do before just to get a novel you're statisfied with and want to show to your agent/editor. Add to that balancing the revision work that you still have to do for the soon to be pubbed book and the learning curve you're facing with marketing that book and a book that might've only taken you six months can take twice that now.

5. There will be authors with very different experiences from your own and that's okay. I know people who have editors that send them other author's books and little gifts whenever they send them something in the mail and others who barely hear from their editors except in the most business-like ways. I have friends who've toured their publishing house's offices and others who have yet to and their books are about to come out. I have friends who've had an accelerated schedule from the deal to the release date and others whose debut experience stretched out well over two years. Some people's books get a lot of marketing, some don't. Some people have IBN numbers and are on Goodreads the day after their deal and others wait months and months for these things. You will have days where you are getting all the love and people are green with envy over it and days when you'll be the one green with envy.

There's more. I mean there's lots more, but this is the big stuff. So, what about you? Learn anything important that you'd like to share? Jot it down in the comments, I'd love to read it!

September 7, 2012

Just a Quick Hello

Okay, I've got nothin'. No really. SO for today I'm just going to be all chatsy and tell you what's happening in my neck of the woods.

1. I bought a new sofa which is HUGE for me considering the fact that the current sofa has been in our house (or several of them, actually) for the past twelve years. It was time. That baby had seen A LOT of life. BUT I'll miss the loose cushions on the back that we used to throw across the floor like lily pads across a pond for the kids to jump on. New sofa has no loose cushions, so we'll have to make our lily pads a new way. But I'm okay with it. Especially after we moved the old one, turned it on it's side and it sounded like a rain stick because it was so full of random junk that slipped into the interior of the sofa itself. Am now enjoying my shiny new sofa that's quiet and junk free. Can't even tell you how excited I am about this. The kids--not so much. They wanted the loungy media room black leather lazy boy type grouping with the cup holders built in and I went over their heads and picked one that was comfy, but cute. The absolute coolest thing about this sofa? We bought it with money that I earned from my book. *puffs out chest*

2. I started reading Tessa Gratton's new book, THE BLOOD KEEPER, and OMG, it is AMAZING so far. The writing, the story. She had me by the end of page one and now I'm resenting all tasks/happenings that keep me from reading it. I liked the first book in the series, but this one is I'll review it more thoroughly when I'm done, but I can say without having finished, that if you haven't gone out to get this book yet, you should. Seriously. GO NOW!

3. A baby snake got into our house. Hubby convinced my two VERY snake-phobic daughters that it was an extra large earthworm. It most definitely wasn't. Now I'm wondering if there are more where that one came from....

4. We're starting to gather Halloween type stuff for next month. My family takes this holiday pretty seriously and decorates to the hilt. We made an entire haunted room last year and an alien invasion scene in the front yard complete with fog and an extra large UFO (I'll post a pic as soon as I can dig it up). The theme this year? ZOMBIES.

5. I went from a blonde to a redhead--a sort of auburn/brownish red red head. Still not used to myself in the mirror, but the change is fun.

And that's about it. How 'bout you, anything good happening? Let me know.  Have a great weekend!

August 27, 2012

My Husband Is Trying to Kill Me and Other Stuff

Okay, maybe my husband isn't trying to kill me...but I'm beginning to think that he IS trying to permanently maim me. Here's why:

Incident #One: We were unloading groceries from Sam's club. I was busy throwing milk, Coke Zeros, etc in our garage refridgerator (yes I am one of those suburbanites) when hubby set down a stack of juice boxes behind me. HE claims that he thought that I knew that he put them there, but of course being the writer that I am I was fully in my head, humming tunes to myself and thinking plot points and the like as I organized the fridge, sooo when I backed up to go get more groceries I never even saw the stack of juice boxes and well, I stepped into them, lost my balance, had time to go what the? in my head and then I was spinning like a drunken ballerina, finally landing on the concrete floor by way of my hip then wrist, then face. Walking with a slight limp now.

Incident #Two: (same week) We were in bed (no, this is not going anywhere naughty) and I leaned over to kiss him and he ELBOWED ME IN THE FACE. He claims he was "adjusting his pillow" but I think we can all see the pattern starting to develop here. The man has it out for me. Now I have a swollen lip AND a limp. I AM SO PRETTY RIGHT NOW...time for that author photo shoot, right? I would look slightly deranged and could sell books, right?

The only upside to my injuries? They've guilted him into taking me to IKEA later today.

As for the other stuff....

Tropical storm Isaac is descending on us well as a bunch of republicans. BUT neither will keep me from furniture shopping!!!

Kids are home from school because of said will be a month before they're in school for a full week at this rate. Gah!

I have recently discovered Godiva milk chocolate salted caramel candybars at CVS...which is less than a mile from my house...way, way too close. Have already consumed one. (there goes my diet).

August 22, 2012

Want a Stronger Authorial Voice In Your Writing? Write Like You Talk and LET GO.

We hear a lot about voice, how it's one of the most important things that agents and publishers look for when taking on an author. In the past I've given you my take on what voice is (for my purposes, when I'm blogging about voice I'm almost ALWAYS targeting authorial voice-the voice you bring as the author-not your character's voice or the narrative's style, but your own personal writing style, what makes your writing uniquely yours). If you missed my other post on it, it's here. Now I'd like to talk about one of the biggest ways that you can infuse your own unique voice into your work without doing anything drastic.

 Very simply put, you write like you talk.

What does this mean? It means pretending that the reader is right there in the room with you as you write. It means acting like the words you put on the page are the ones that would naturally come out of your mouth.Your writing should feel intimate, confident--you're talking to a dear friend after all. It's all about you letting down your defenses and letting this person glimpse the you only those closest to you ever see.

When you're talking to someone this close to you are you ever worried about sounding smart or witty? No, you're concentrating more on conveying the story in the clearest, most entertaining way possible and on building your relationship with them. You want them to laugh with you if the story is funny or cry with you if it's sad. Your natural need for them to do this is infused into how you tell the story from the start because you're most concerned with helping them understand why this story was so important for you to tell in the first place. I think sometimes writers (I'm talking about myself here too) get caught up in trying to sound like a writer. They use words/sentence structure that they would never in a million years use under normal circumstances with the hopes that it will somehow elevate the story or make their writing sound stronger when ultimately it sucks their voice right out of the story. It's crucial, especially in that all important first draft that you let the most unchecked part of yourself, the rawest part speak.

 So how do you know if you're writing with less authorial voice than you could be?

1. You're purposely put words into your writing that you would find in a Jane Austen or Dickens novel that would get you weird stares if you folded them into a conversation with your neighbor next door...and you're not writing a historical novel.

2. You are trying to sound Harvard educated if you know what I mean. This is a trap I think writers in MFA programs and who prize intellect above all things make the most. They're sounding pretentious to please the literary critiquers or to fake a pedigree.

3. Or on the opposite side, you're trying too hard to sound like a teenager in your contemporary novel and pepper every sentence with slang. I think slang on a whole should be avoided at all costs unless you have a very good reason to use it. It will date your story right out of the gate. Try to get back into the mindset of  a teenager--how intense that first love relationship can be, how difficult it is to separate from your parents and find your way, standing up for what you believe in, figuring out what exactly you believe in.

4. You're trying to sound like a famous author you admire. It worked for them, right?

Authorial voice is one of the hardest parts of the writing process to nail and I think it's because to do it, you have to let go. You can't control how it comes out on the page, you just have to let it come. I think it's a lot like dancing or singing well.

 When someone's whole heart is in it, you can feel it, it raises goosebumps on your skin, brings you to tears, leaves you breathless. Forget the art and craft of writing(assuming that you have a pretty good handle on all of these things to begin with) and get lost in the passion and I promise your voice will be in every single word.

August 20, 2012

Exciting Cover Reveal!!

Some of you out there may already know that my critque partner, Krystalyn Drown has a book coming out with Entranced Publishing next spring-April 15, 2013 to be exact. Well, I'm extremely excited to help reveal the cover for her book today!

Pretty cool, right?

If you like it, make sure to stop by her blog, See the Stars and let her know!

August 15, 2012

Learning Better Writing In The Absence of Words

This past weekend I finally got around to watching a movie that I've been dying to see for awhile. I haven't watched it up until now because, well, I am the ONLY person in my house who was interested in it. The movie in question was The Artist. It's almost entirely a silent film.

It got great reviews and won lots of awards which combined with it's homage to the silent film era put it on my must see list, but put it firmly OFF of my husband's. If it doesn't have military dudes, aliens, zombies, and/or lots of explosions it is not his thing. Ever. So this week when he went out for a long run and the kids were zonked out for the night, I finally ordered the movie and settled in for an Amy-centric movie night. I was not disappointed. This movie utterly rocked...just not OUT LOUD.

Now before we go any further, you should know that I'm a sucker for musicals and movies made long before I was born. Brigadoon is still one of my favorites (if you mention this movie in front of my brother he'll STILL grown about how often I watched it). So keep that in mind as you read this and also if you decide to use this post as a reason to go rent The Artist. If Charlie Chaplin doesn't thrill you and dance numbers put you to sleep...this is probably not your thing either and you can join my husband in pointedly ignoring this movie.

BUT if you are a writer, no matter what your preference, you should stick around a moment because this movie gave me more than one writerly epiphany as I watched it. The most important being this: You can learn a lot about putting together a good story by seeing one unfold with little or no words attached to it. Think of it. Telling a story with only the characters' facial expressions, actions, and music. A challenge of epic proportions, right? I think it is and while I watched the actors in The Artist pull it off, I got to thinking about how I could take some of what was happening in this film and apply it to my writing to improve it. Here's what I learned:

1. Action can absolutely speak just as loud if not louder than character interiority when used properly. In the movie the wife of the main character is slowly starting to hate him. She can't exactly yell this at him because we can't hear it...but what she does is funny and telling and perfect. While he's reading the paper every morning in blissful ignorance, she defiles his pictures, drawing overly large moustaches on his upper lip and blacking in some of his teeth to make them look like they're missing. We never get in her head outside of these actions, but we absolutely know how she feels. Now, I'm not talking about a whole bunch of adverb laden descriptions of body language here like: he arched one eyebrow mischeviously, but actual physical action described in a very active way.

Example created from a scene in the movie ( I know, there is some interiority, but most of what's here is physical): She bent over a bit too far in an effort to grab her pen and paper from the sidewalk and felt her body go out of balance, tip forward before she could catch herself. She tumbled out past the barricade of police officers and  straight into her idol, the man whose autograph she'd been so hoping to get. He made no move to catch her. Instead he backed away, his jaw set into a grim line. She stood up with effort, her body righting itself an inch at a time. She felt her mouth twitching. Should she frown too or try to laugh off her clumsiness?

2. Physical characteristics/traits/clothing items (or lack there of) when used properly and intentionally, can speak volumes about your character. In the movie the male lead is a veteran silent movie actor who runs into the female lead quite by accident. She is a young aspiring actress and he takes her under his wing. He tells her that she needs something to distinguish herself from the pack, something to make people notice her. He draws a small beauty mark in the corner of her mouth, his suggestion on how to be different and it ends up being the very thing that makes her famous...her first leading film role is named for it.

The mole becomes not just a physical trait of hers but a symbol of how he helped her become a success even as his own career languishes. She can't look in the mirror without being reminded of him every time she draws on that mole. Genius. It deepens the story on so many levels (watch the movie and see what I mean), it tells us that part of him lingers with her even when they take different paths, and so much more. Conversely, the male lead has a tuxedo that he wears that's indicative of his old school status as a silent film star who isn't interested in moving with the times. Eventually he is forced to sell the tuxedo, which hints at how much of himself he has no choice but to abandon when the film industry changes.

3. Tap into a person's emotions and they'll stick with your story without intending to. My husband came home before the movie finished. At first he gave me the exaggerated eye rolls and pointed stares to "for the love of all that's holy, change the channel already", but after about five minutes, became totally engrossed in the film, watching it with me until the end. We even discussed it a little after it was over. He actually admitted that it was pretty good! I think it's because the actors did such a fantastic job of making their characters relatable without ever having to say a word. They showed us why they were worth watching. They tapped into our humor and heartstrings and gave us a story well told. ( Just don't tell him I told you this, it'll wreck his Jason Stratham-loving reputation...the one he's cultivated in his own mind)

4. A highly developed plot coupled with believable, relatable, and vivid characters is half the battle. Your words can be beautiful, perfection on paper, but if the story and characters aren't there, no one will stick around to read them.

There is more to be mined from this movie, of that I am certain, but this is what I took away from it. Are there any movies that taught you a thing or two about your writing? If so, drop me a comment and let me know!

August 13, 2012

This Weekend: All Good Things....

SO, in honor of this, our final week (at least in my neck of the woods) before school starts, we took off to Orlando, stayed over one night, then hit Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. It not as much fun as it has been in the past. Sounds crazy I know, but there it is. The night in the hotel meant my husband and I each slept with one child. There was a lot of this:

What is it about hotel beds that makes you want to bounce?

And even more of this:

Only these people look infinitely better than we did that morning.

Which we expect and have no problem with usually (and thought for that matter, that we wouldn't now). BUT we were just away and spent about a week in hotel rooms and another week rotating between family members' houses less than a month ago, so this ended up being one night too many. It sounded a lot better in theory than in practice.

The girls were moody and emotional AND at each other's throats. They aren't even at THAT time of life yet if you know what I mean, but there are moments when I start to wonder anyway. There was a lot of this:

Which meant I did a lot of this:

Then when we ran out of the hotel early the next morning to be at the amusement park right when it opened to hopefully beat the crowds into the Harry Potter part of the park and ran into this:

Add to that the fact that August is probably the worst month in Florida heat-wise than any other month, bar none and you'll understand why it didn't take long for all of us to look like this:

Okay, I'm exaggerrating a wee bit. There was fun this weekend: laughing and great memory/bonding type moments, but the high excitement that usually accompanies this type of escape was definitely missing and I'm pretty sure I know why. I think maybe this family is ready for school and the end of summer. The kids are ready to get back to their friends and my hubby and I are ready to get back to our regular schedules in general. I guess all good things really must come to an end, otherwise we won't actually be able to appreciate them.

August 10, 2012

Next Week is FULL Of Awesome!

One of my all time favorite writing conferences begins next week. I'm talking about WriteOnCon, the online, absolutely FREE writers conference for young adult, middle grade, and picture book authors.

Here's why I like it:

1. You can attend in your pajamas while eating chocolate. What's not to love about being comfy and indulgent while learning how to be a better writer?

2. You can post your work: first five pages of your manuscript, your query, your synopsis. Not only do other writers take a look at them, but quite possibly lurking agents!! You could get discovered without actually ever querying!!

3. All kinds of talented authors contribute. There is no other con that I know of where so many authors give out advice at the same time.

4. You can talk directly to agents, ask them questions, and get answers right away during the live chats. Last year Jessica Sinsheimer stayed in a live chat LONG after she had to answering questions and it was one of the most informative and wonderful interactions I've had with an agent at a con. Every agent that participates here is so generous with their time and expertise. It literally bowled me over last year.

5. You can pitch an agent without all the face to face nervousness that usually accompanies a conference pitch. I participated in the Twitter pitch last year and it was seriously fun and my palms weren't even sweaty!

6. It's one of the easies places to find other writers, get a feel for what kind of things other people are writing, and generally figure out if what you're writing is unique. Reading other people's work is where I got the most out of the con.

7. I'm a part of it this year!!! That's right! I'm involved with the Lucky 13 writing and marketing tips (scheduled for Wednesday), am on the official books list, and giving away a critique!

So clear your schedule, gather some snacks and join me at the con this year. I promise that it will be worth your while! AND if you decide to attend and are posting work, let me know in the comments (remember to give me specifics on how to find your thread) so that I can drop by and read your work!!

August 8, 2012

Not One Word Is Wasted

I am a very wordy writer. Now when I say this I don't mean that my books are filled with lots and lots of unecessary words, pages and pages of lengthy description, reams of paragraph-long, rambling dialogue, or irrevelant scenes (at least I hope not, but I suppose you all will let me know once my book comes out if I'm delusional here *grins*). What I mean is that I have to write A LOT of words to get to the ones that will one day make it into the final draft of one of my manuscripts. I have to meander down a lot of paths that lead nowhere, write scenes that I know I'm probably going to cut even as I'm still writing them. AND I'm not even a panster type writer. I'm a dedicated outliner. For every manuscript I've managed to finish there's at least as many words I've deleted as kept, usually much, much more. That's why it takes me a minimum of seven or more months to complete one story.

I wish it wasn't true.

 I wish that the first words I put to paper every day were pure gold, genius in ink form, but they are SO not. The real work for me as a writer is plodding through all of those unecessary, wrong words to get to the right ones. I HAVE to write out back story and take lots of wrong turns to get to the heart of my real story and its characters. I won't know either well enough to make them authentic otherwise. BUT it never fails to make me nervous and sometimes self critical. Some part of me will always believe that the process should be faster...if I were better organized, or more creative, or just, well, BETTER in general at what I do.

But what I'm finding is that the process is what it is. The only way to get a good book written is to write the bad version of it first--at least for me and I'm pretty sure one or more of you out there reading this.

Now I try to think of writing a story as climbing a giant staircase with an end so far into the sky that at first I can't even see it.

 I can't jump to the top, it's too high. I can't skip steps because they're too widely spaced. I have to put one foot in front of the other and take EVERY single step until I get to the top.There will be lots of times when I'll be out of breath, frustrated, and sure that the top doesn't exist-- that it's a staircase with no end that leads absolutely NOWHERE--and I'll sit down and have a good cry and contemplate staying right where I am or worse, going back the way I came without ever reaching the top.

 BUT then I'll think about the view all the way up there--which is panoramic and rich with landscapes I wasn't even sure were possible until I finished my first book--and I'll start climbing all over again, grateful that at least I'm not starting from the bottom. I'm halfway there. Every step forward tips the scales closer to done.

Not one word that I've written was wasted.Not one word that YOU've written was wasted.

Not one.

Every word that we write, usuable or not is part of a necessary step on the staircase that leads us to our finished books. We have to place our feet on those steps, to feel their rough, uneven terrain. It's the only way to get where we're going, to reach the heights ahead. The only way our words will have been wasted is if we never use them to MOVE FORWARD.

August 6, 2012

Road Trip!!

So you may have noticed that I have been MIA for more than a little while from this blog and sporadic at best with the posting before then. I must apologize. I was all good intentions and dedication at the start of the summer, but then the travel bug bit me and I lost my head for a bit, took off on a very impromptu road trip and just, well, lived a little.

Here's where I went:

The Biltmore: I've been dying to go ever since I wrote my first shelved novel where it plays a part in one scene. The surrounding area figured into most of the book in a BIG way.

The hubby sifting through rocks at a gem mining place that the kids LOVED.

Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. I made it across the swinging bridge which is a mile above sea level, but totally could not conquer my fear of heights to inch out across the outcropping of rocks beyond it. Instead I huddled in a crevice and tried not to whine!

The caverns we went to. To me this looks like another planet. Kept expecting gollum to come out...MY PRECIOUS.
Basically, I went searching for inspiration in the mountains...and found it, went to visit family and reconnect...and did it, hoped to make fabulous parent-kid memories...and succeeded, and generally decided to take advantage of the long days and the very needed influx of cash from my very first author advance (The day I got it was EPIC. There was squealing AND just a wee bit of dancing--something I NEVER do if I can help it, because I am rythmically challenged and plain old inhibited).

BUT now I'm back, recharged and fully ready to re-engage! So, after a little contemplation and a whole lot of re-organizing, I'm going to attempt to put this blog on a more concrete schedule. I say attempt because well, I am ME and generally begin with great intentions, but have moments of dramatic failure! So, here is my proposed blogging schedule barring any major complications such as sickness, acts of God, or general procrastination:

Monday: Personal post--could be embarrassing moment, a kid catastrophe or anecdote, etc. Lots of wiggle room here, so expect the unexpected!

Wednesday: A writerly post on craft. Something I've learned, struggle with, wonder about, or am working on at the moment.

Bonus Posts: Hopefully every other week or so on the days I'm not regularly posting. I might post a book review from a writerly perspective and/or recommend something for you to read that rocked my world and made me grow pen and paper-wise. These could also include alerts to other blog giveaways, my own giveaways, contests, wild card posts so to speak.

So there you have it, my very loosely structured blog schedule for the forseeable future. I must admit I'm looking forward to getting back into some sort of long as the kids stay healthy...and don't fight...and go back to school very soon!