Thursday, April 30, 2009

Jeff Somers: Day in the Life of a Writer

I had to share this with you guys, because it cracked me up.

This was how agent Janet Reid knew her client, Jeff Somers, was working on his latest novel--he's procrastinating on YouTube!

Check this out:

Mmmm... whiskey!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Progress Update!

I'm happy to say that I've written over 4000 words and deleted many as well this week (yay!). It's been crazy, but since it's mostly re-writing and editing, I feel pretty dang good about it.

SHOUT OUT to Elana J and Christine F for their awesome Weeks-In-Writing! :D You guys make me look like a slacker! Good on ya!

Here are some of my favorite writer quotes to aid us in the upcoming week's work:

"I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning and took out a comma. In the afternoon, I put it back in." --Oscar Wilde (My week in a nutshell!)

"The business of the poet and novelist is to show the sorriness underlying the grandest things, and the grandeur underlying the sorriest things."--Thomas Hardy

"Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him to the public."--Winston Churchill

And lastly, because I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new book this week:

"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me."--C S Lewis

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Helpful Hints: Honing Your Pitch

Today I was surfing over in Query Shark-infested waters, and found this awesome link:

Thank you to Janet Reid for posting it! We love you!

I'm thinking of revisng my query, and found this exercise extremely helpful. There were a few really crucial pieces of my plot that I was just plain missing.

As you guys from Query Tracker may have noticed, I'm a bit of a minimalist when it comes to my query, but am slowly learning that while less is more.... sometimes you just have to show a little more and hope for the best ;).

I'm rewriting, and will attempt to become Query Shark bait soon.

I hope this post is helpful for you guys, too!

Any tips of your own? Please share!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Book Trailer and Contest!

Hi, guys,

Sorry about the lack-o-blogging this past week. I've been one busy lady, editing, revising, editing, and you know, re-writing. Phew!

Anyway, I finally had time to catch up on my fabulous blog-readage, and look what I found--a contest and a fabulous book trailer for a debut novel, SILVER PHOENIX, by Cindy Pon!


Go to her blog to enter to win a signed copy of her book, or other awesome prizes. Otherwise, go buy the book on 4/28/09, and help show the publishing industry that debut authors are the way to go ;).

See? I have an evil plan!!

Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hardcover Vs. Paperback

I was going through my favorite editor and agent blogs today, and found an old post of Moonrat's that got me thinking.
She had a delimma: should her debut novelist's book come out in hardcover or as a trade paperback?

It was fascinating, because I'd never really sat down and thought before about the pros and cons of either--I just figured when the time came, my Awesome Future Editor would tell me what the house was thinking of going with and I'd say "Hooray!" no matter what.

However, Moonrat laid out that for some authors, coming out only in paperback makes them Sad Pandas because they feel that their book is being slighted and won't be reviewed as widely.

BUT in this economy, are people really buying hardcovers? I know I don't unless it's something I've read in paperback and want to collect and preserve for all time. Those things are expensive!

Yet their expensive-ness is what makes them three times as profitable... WHAT TO DO??

Sell more paperbacks, but run the risk of not creating good review buzz? Or sell fewer hardcovers, and run the risk of their never being a paperback run because your publishing house is saddened by your awful, tiny, puny, microscopic sales numbers?

What do you guys think? Which would you go with if you had the choice?

Cloth or paper?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Just Do It

As I was in the gym today, laboring under a squat bar and trying to figure out what was wrong with my "squattin' form," I had an epiphany. What I've been doing wrong for about two weeks is trying to control my squat, and by being a control freak, had not been letting my body drop low enough to do the exercise correctly.

I finally put the heavy metal stuff down and decided to just see if I needed to stretch to do it right, and BAM! The second I just decided to let go and see how far down I could really go... I did it. My ass hit grass, and I realized I went down lower than I ever thought possible in that moment.

(Here's a link to some awesome "how to squat" videos that led to my revelation:

This got me to thinking--this is a lot like some of the breakthroughs I've had in my writing. I can be such a control freak that I have a hard time letting go and letting myself go ass-to-grass with my story.

My husband is amazing at getting me to let go my white-knuckled grip on "propriety," and helps me get down to the dark places where I need to go for my novel. For example, I was having a hard time writing a fairly violent scene and kept thinking "my grandma is going to read this, my mom is going to read this, the church will hear about this..." and couldn't just let go and write already.

My man sat me down with a notebook and threw down this challenge: Write down the most visceral, awful thing you can think of. No inhibitions. No worries. No grandmas watching.

What I wrote in those few minutes (the words have a tendency to flow when you let up a little), turned out to be awful and yes, totally awesome. I actually have incorporated that exercise as a pivotal part in my novel. It's weird, but in that uninhibited space I did some of my best writing.

So here is my question for you guys:

Do you have any moments where you found yourself truly going Ass-To-Grass in your writing? How did it pay off?

If you haven't, I challenge you here and now. Throw down your hang ups, and GO FOR IT. Whatever you wanted to write but never could, the secret is, you CAN.

The only one stopping you is you.

Friday, April 17, 2009

QueryDay Lessons: Sharing is Caring!

I participated in the Fabulous QueryDay today on Twitter (well, ok, lurked), and wanted to say that IT ROCKED!
Strangely enough I wished there was a wee bit less asking of questions and little bit more query rejecting. Weird, right? However, even though I missed a little bit of the old "fail," I did have a great time reading the questions other writers had and the answers from the agents.

One thing that absolutely blew my mind was this: Agents prefer only one space after a period!

Holy Uncomfortable Wrongness, Batman!

My whole life I've been living a lie. Everyone told me this was correct from birth until now, and I just learned today that the publishing world prefers the one-space rule. Agent Colleen Lindsay said it looked funny on her e-reader when there were two spaces, creating vast deserts of whiteness that was hard to look at.

Who the heck knew?

While I was crying over the thought that I'd now have to go through my manuscript sentence by sentence and remove the offending extra-spaces, I had an epiphany I would like to share. You can do a Search & Replace in Word by typing in Search For *space space*, Replace With *space.*

Magnifico! Technology to the rescue :). Needless to say, I love Bill Gates right now, and am grateful that Microsoft Word is so awesome.

I hope this helps any of you just now learning this same fact and thinking "blimey, so many maaaaaany!"

Tell me: am I truly the last person on earth to discover this rule?

Happy Friday, Everyone!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

#QueryFail 2: Queries Never Die

Remember all of that intarweb hoopla a couple of weeks ago caused by #Queryfail on Twitter, and the scathing responses in #Agentfail?

Well, hold onto your hats, because tomorrow is #Queryfail 2: Queries Never Die! It's actually been renamed, which I think is sort of cool, to #Queryday, so please make sure you search for that if you're going to follow it.

Here's the link to agent Colleen Lindsay's post about it:

The agents have really taken the feedback they received to heart and are aiming to make this a more friendly, educational day.

I was morbidly fascinated by the first round of #Queryfail, but am even more excited about #Queryday. We get to ask questions as well as seeing the query-readage in real time. SWEEEEET!

So? Who's in? :D

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Progress Update!

Hi, All,

I hope this evening finds you well! Yes, it's that time again--time for an update so I can show you that I'm not just a slacker, blogging away all of my writing time ;).

This week I've been going nuts on my revisions (in a good way), and feel like I've been accomplishing a lot. Have any of you ever noticed that when you add a new scene to beef up your story that it comes out about 10 times stronger than your "first draft" writing? What's up with that? I think it must have something to do with the fact that I know how the story goes, unlike when I was writing the rest. I know how it starts, ends, everyone's motivations, and most importantly exactly what I want to add to that part of the story.

I once read somewhere someone saying "I'm not a good writer, but I'm a great re-writer." I really feel that way this week, and it's encouraging. Also, it's encouraging that no one has to get it right the first time.

Here are some other great quotes to sum up my week:

"The waste basket is the writer's best friend." --Isaac Bashevis Singer

"The writer, when he is also an artist, is someone who admits what others don't dare reveal." --Elia Kazan

"Even the best writer has to erase." --Spanish proverb

"The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say." --Anais Nin

Hooray for the DELETE key, that keeps us all grounded! Isn't it nice to know that all writers both strive for the same outcome that we do, and struggle along the way?

I've also been blessed with the challenge of critiquing other people's manuscripts, which is just a lot of fun, and a great way to procrastinate. All in all, I've been a busy gal, and loving every minute of it.

I'd love to hear from you guys what you're up to with any works in progress!

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Agent for a Day!

Today I participated in Nathan Bransford's blog contest "Agent for a Day."

To my surprise and delight, going through queries is FUN AS HELL! If you haven't already, I recommend you get yourself over to, read the rules, and dive on into the slush pile! The water's fine.

Basically, I got the chance today to sift through 50 real queries and decide if I loved them enough to request some sample pages. We could only request a total of 5 out of the 50, to make it realistic (agents can't help their clients if they are waist-deep in sample chapters, after all), which was the hardest part.

I read each and every query and found at least 7 that I really, really liked. THEN I had to go through the agony of paring it down to those I absolutely loved.

I see much more clearly now that when an agent rejects you, it may not be because your writing stinks or your query is poor. It could be that they are just in "like" with your project, but not head-over-heels in love with it.

And it has to be true freakin' love when you have that many queries to get through in a day.

So, KUDOS to all the agents out there :). I love your job, and I can see why a lot of you really enjoy reading queries on a day to day basis. But I also get how hard it is to reject people, why you need form letters just to keep on schedule, and that you have to be truly nuts about a book before you can say that fateful "Yes."

Good luck to all you queriers out there, and remember: sometimes it's not you. It's the slush pile.

Friday, April 10, 2009

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8.

I think whether you are a believer or not, everyone can gain something from the story of Jesus' life and death. It is the ultimate story of sacrifice and redemption; a call for all of us to think about how we can lay down our lives for our brothers and love more unconditionally from day to day.

For Christians, this should be our biggest party of the year. This is bigger even than Christmas--this is the reason why we have our salvation. This is when we celebrate Christ's sacrifice for us. Often, I think we let ourselves get bogged down planning Easter egg hunts and dressing up fancy for Grandma, and forget to be excited. This year, let's take a moment to remember why Good Friday is so good :). Don't forget to shout "HE IS RISEN!" as soon as you wake up and scare the other members of your household who are still asleep. It's funny every time!

For others, the story of Jesus can still hold meaning this holiday weekend. Even if the stories and events in the Bible didn't actually take place, the messages can still hold power. "Love your neighbor" is helpful for people of all faiths, as is the financial advice Jesus doles out (extra handy nowadays). Plus, it's a great story. Tension galore!

I hope all of you have a wonderful time this holiday weekend, if you're getting together with family, friends, or flying solo, tucking into a large plate of deviled eggs and watching Charleton Heston movies.

May all of you be blessed this Easter, no matter how you celebrate! :)

Party on, my friends. Party on.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mmmm... Book Smell

Today there were a couple of blog entries in the publishing world about getting over the "book smell" argument against e-books.

Kassia Krozser posted that we should all stop arguing that digital books shouldn't take off because the experience isn't the same as paper books (, and Nathan Bransford agreed with her on his blog, saying that car owners aren't always lamenting the fact that their subaru doesn't smell like a horse.

I agree with Kassia that the e-books and paper books are two entirely different things. However, when most people talk about e-books they are talking about whether or not they are the future of publishing, the next big step, the ultimate replacement for the books we know and love. It is exactly like deciding on whether or not you like horses or cars, and not deciding between a car or a train. The only difference I can see is that horses smell like asscrack.

Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of an e-book. But when I think of them taking over, I find myself saddened. I'm a rare book collector (yes, I'm a geek), and love not only the feel and look of paper books, but yes, the delicious musty smell. Mmmm... Old.

The smell brings up memories of my childhood when I'd tuck myself into the 2' x 2' place between my bunkbed and my bookshelf, tack a blanket up, and read for hours with my flashlight. It reminds me of waiting in the used book store until the bus showed up, stowing away in the attic and pretending I was that kid in "The Neverending Story."

I'm going to miss that smell, dangit, and I think we're allowed to say that it's not the same.

E-books are cool and probably necessary, but if they take over entirely, what will happen to the simple pleasure of smelling a good book?

What do you all think? Book smell: awesome or overrated?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Just For Fun

© United Feature Syndicate Inc

I'm busily working on home improvement projects before my awesome mother-in-law gets here for Easter weekend, so forgive me for such a short post tonight :).

To all you patiently querying authors--please enjoy this Snoopy Moment of Zen.

Happy Pre-Easter to all!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Progress update!

Hi, All,

Progress Update Time!

Recently I've been working feverishly on revising my novel, LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS to make the ending stronger. My mom and husband had some awesome things to contribute (my mother is a hard woman to please) and I've been working on the ideas I agree with, fleshing them out and making my story fuller.

Today, I got three AWESOME volunteers from the query tracker forums to be my first officially non-family member Beta Readers. I'm so excited and grateful to get their feedback, and am still working to pad out my ending, to get that "Zazz Factor" as high as I can. I'm only going to start querying again once I get this feedback, and I'm stoked about the process.

It feels amazing to have the chance to have another chance to make your work not just "ok" but "great."

As a side note, I have another work in progress: my body. My goal is to become stronger and leaner slowly but surely. I'm starting some heavy weight lifting (squats, deadlifts, assisted pull ups, bench presses, etc) and working on not eating as much crap.

If you are starting a strength training or weight loss regimen to get rid of that "writer's butt," I highly recommend It's literally THE BEST website ever for ladies wanting to get fit, and dispels a lot of myths and lies we've heard our whole lives.

Yes, bitches can lift heavy things. No, it won't turn you into a grotesque She-Hulk. Enough said. We can do it!

Wish me luck, and good luck to all of you on your various Works in Progress :).

Monday, April 6, 2009

New Contest On Dar Intarweb!

Superstar agent, Nathan Bransford, just posted an interesting contest on his blog. In response to the recent #Agentfail posts, he's giving US a chance to not only post our queries on his website, but to step into the shoes of an agent for a week.

You heard right--he wants us to feel the pain/thrill of strapping on the hip waders and stomple out into the slush pile. If you sent your query (real or pretends) to, he will choose 50 or so to put up on the website for us to sift through. Our challenge (should we choose to accept it) is to pick 5 out of the 50 to request full manuscripts from, and to send tasteful "no thanks" replies to the others.

Not only is this an opportunity for us to "get" what it's actually like on the other side of this process, but this as an amazing chance to see how we stack up in the real world against other authors. I emailed my query today hoping for some feedback from my peers.

Afraid? Maybe :). Excited? TOTALLY.

As a rebuttle to the outpouring of author-rage recently, I think this is an amazing solution. After all, who can gripe after walking a mile in another's shoes?

So, who's game?

For more details, please see Nathan's post at

Let the games begin!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Agentfail vs. Queryfail--The Ultimate Smackdown!

Something both bizarre and fascinating happened this week in the agenting world. In response to the controversial twitter event #Queryfail in which dozens of agents tweeted on why they were passing on queries in real time, the wonderful agent ladies over at Bookends LCC innocently asked "what do agents do that fails you?" on their blog... and all Hell broke loose.

Check it out here:

I honestly think they were trying to get feedback to make sure they and their agent friends were doing a good job of serving authors. What they got was a crushing wave of author-rage overflowing their comments section. I mean... whoa. Writers definitely had a lot to say and most of it wasn't pretty.

Since then, I've seen several agent websites responding in the vein of "Hey, WTF, guys?"

What do you guys think? Is it fair to rip on agents in light of #Queryfail, or is this backlash simply childish and bizarre? Are the agents right to be upset?

My own experience with the now infamous #Queryfail event was that I went in hopeful and excited, hoping to get some tips on things to avoid. What I got, though, were helpful gems in a sea of "Lulz! Prisoners query me!" While the stories were funny, I was a little sad there wasn't more helpful information. I can see why some authors felt attacked, but then again, isn't everyone allowed to blow off a little steam now and again? I don't have a problem with it, but I also didn't find what I was looking for.

What do you all think? #Queryfail Vs. #Agentfail--valuable or vindictive?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Devil is in the Details: Writing the Perfect Ending

So, I'm hip deep in ideas on how to give my novel, LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS, that extra zazz-factor, and have been struggling with an obnoxiously elusive question: What makes an ending, well... satisfying?

I've gone over and over it, and now I want to ask you!

What do you think makes a GREAT ending? Are there any novels that literally made you squirm with joy after reading that last line? Cry? Burst into hives caused by too much goodness and best of all... zazz?

On the flip side, are there any novels that were amazing up until that very last chapter and then suddenly fizzled into a big pile of "eh"? I've been there. Two words: Hyperion Chronicles.
Don't let it happen to you, kids. Stop after the first half. Keep the memories alive.

So you tell me: what brings on the zazz?