Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Got my nose back in the books

Ah, I have pretty much finished my revisions. More final editing will take place this week, but since this I know this story in and out I know it will be ready in time to get those queries out the first week of January. Wooohooo!

Aside from the obvious reasons why I'm thrilled to be finished, I am back to reading again! My parents gave me Beautiful Creatures as one of my gifts(eee and I have two gift cards to use for the bookstore too!), and I LOVED it. I devoured it. If you haven't read it yet, go now! It's that good. Plus you can stroke that beautiful purple metallic title on the cover. I went and joined the fansite before I was even finished. Yep, it's that good. More on this later.

Most of the time it's a bummer to come off of reading a book you lose sleep over. Not when you have Catching Fire waiting for you. I bought CF the day it came out and have been saving it as my reward for finishing a new book I started at the time, which then turned into the revisions on Sage. So as any of you who have read it know, I'm dying to finish my day so I can crawl into bed and lose myself in as many chapters as I can manage tonight.

Feels good to be back! Not only am I reading more again, I'm going to get back into a more regular blogging schedule and doing my best to read and comment out there as well. So much to look forward to even if it is bone chilling cold outside and I'm still suffering from the post Christmas depression.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Time for family, food and fun!


I'm taking my holiday leave a bit early and signing off of checking blogs and posting until after the holidays. Not too much of a big deal since I haven't been posting or commenting much lately to begin with. But the edits are wrapping up and my queries will be going out the first week of January so it's back to business as usual come mid-January.

I'm looking forward to more of a routine with my son starting nursery school two mornings a week (we're also doing a music/dance class together on Wednesday afternoons!). I'm getting a new laptop bag so I can drop him off and head right down the road to the library where I can write my little heart out for two hours straight, free of distractions, including the big one...NO INTERNET. That alone will help me write this new story in record time. Sure, I could go to the gym, grocery shopping, or even head home and clean. But that is so not me. Not when I could be writing. Nope, I think I'll stick with pursuing my dream! Four hours of pure freedom cannot be wasted. Maybe with this change of schedule I'll end up getting more than six hours of sleep at night instead of staying up until the wee hours of the morning to get my writing/networking time in.

Ah, January, I'm very excited to see what surprises you'll bring. Don't even get me started on 2010. This new year is going to kick ass for us all.

Whatever you're celebrating (or not celebrating) this time of year I hope you enjoy time with your loved ones and that you get to relax, have fun, and make some great plans for the year ahead. Ohhh, and eat fabulous bad for you food and drink. Cookies, ham, cranberry margaritas, champagne, candy, croissants....


Friday, December 18, 2009

Oh my, how you've grown!

Last night right before I went to bed (I never actually lay awake in bed anymore since I got to bed so freaking late I just fall asleep pretty much the second my head hits the pillow) I was thinking about my plan to begin querying the first week of January.

It hit me.

I sent out my very first batch of queries.


Last January.

For the same book.


It's safe to assume that those queries sucked BIG time. And for the most part so did SAGE at that point. The good news is that my current query kicks some serious ass, and SAGE is pretty much unrecognizable in it's revised form. The main characters are unchanged (aside from my MC's age and a few details with her life) and the main plot is close to what I envisioned in the beginning. But everything else is brand spanking new.

SAGE and I have both grown since last January and I think it's safe to say we're ready to see what the new year has in store for us. I'm so diggin' the whole full circle thing.

Now, does anyone else notice that I'm at 99 followers? Can you help me ditch that number for something larger. Say, a three digit one with two zeros and a one?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

We've been together so long that...

I can finish your sentences.

I know what you're thinking before you think it.

No, I'm not talking about someone. Something. More like my manuscript. I know it inside and out. We've been together for, let's see...almost a year and a half. So we're in that middle comfortable stage in our relationship where we can totally be ourselves and still love each other for it. You know, like farting in bed (lol remember that Sex in the City episode?) or admitting you love a really bad TV show that most people would make fun of you for (like me who at the age of 30 loves The Secret Life of the American Teenager in spite of the mostly cheesy acting and the word sex being used at least twenty times per episode). Wait, did I just say it twice in my blog post with only paragraph in?

While knowing someone so well that you can be yourself through and through, it's a little tough. You lose a little of that I-want-to-be-around-you-so-much-I-don't-need-to-sleep-or-eat feeling. Things get more predictable and sadly, boring. Not that it's a bad thing.

Unless of course, it's a book you've written that you're reading for the twentieth time in hopes of spotting mistakes and areas that need improvement. Trust me, at this point it's a daunting process when you aren't seeing it with fresh eyes. I'm plowing through, but it's way harder this time. And the other super exciting, new ideas for other books that are taunting and dancing around in my head aren't helping. Fortune tellers and Hollywood's hottest young celebrity who's actually a big time nerd with zero game. By the way, those are two different stories!

But, no worries. We'll make it through this rough patch. I love SAGE too much to give into temptation. (I know, I know, if you're a regular reader here then yes, I did cheat awhile back and start something new. I swear I thought we were done at that point!)

So it's back to reading and editing my way to the end. It might be harder working with something I know so well, but at least I can rock my rattiest pajamas and skip a shower when while we're working together.

Ah, true love.

*I am noticing that when I run spell check on my posts here lately I have way less yellow highlights pop up telling me I misspelled something. All this revising and editing might really be whipping me into shape to do it right the first time. Gotta love that.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A little update

I know you've all been waiting breathlessly to hear how my revisions went. Right? Bah! Didn't think so. But I'm going to share anyway.

The revisions on Sage are done. Ahhh, feels so good to say that. I actually finished them a couple weeks ago, but I'm still hard at work on the editing. My favorite part. Ok, not really. More like my least favorite part. This is made especially difficult considering how many times I have read Sage. Still, I love this story and characters with ever fiber of my being. Much like being a mother, I adore my child but some days I would like nothing more than a break. But until I get these edits done that's out of the question. So my blog posts will remain short and few until January when the queries go out and my son starts nursery school, leaving me with 4 hours of free time each week. I'm so ready to hit the library so I can write without interruption or the temptation of the Internet.

Speaking of January. I had yet another new idea. This one is good---really good. But it's going to have to get in line. Not to the back of the line, more like third at the moment, but at least I took the time to start writing the opening scene while it was so vivid in my mind. If there is already a YA urban fantasy about a snarky teenage girl who pretends to read fortunes, please tell me now! Because I'm super excited about this one and have the whole plot planned. *crosses fingers it hasn't been done already*

On a personal note, I only have three more gifts to buy for Christmas and I'm done shopping. Then it's on to wrapping and helping my mom get ready for the annual Christmas party this weekend. Oh, and I got my military ID today (no, I didn't join, my husband did and he leaves next month for training) and it's hideous! I look like a man. The fact that the lady doing it said, "oh this is a nice one." Makes me a)think she is just a very nice person b)has poor eye sight or
c)all IDs she produces look horrible. Seriously, it's that bad. My own mother said I looked like a man when she saw it!

So the next two weeks are all about getting ready for the holidays and making my ms shine. If only Santa could have a big ol' edited copy of Sage beneath the tree for me.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

2010 is mine!

2009 has been an awesome year in many ways, but I have to tell you...2010 is going to rock.

I don't know about you, but I'm so ready for this. I was going to put my resolutions list for all to see then changed my mind because I don't want to put a cap on what's possible. There are no limits to what can happen and I like it that way. Of course I want the usual things. On the top of that list, a safe, healthy, happy family as well as my own health and happiness. World peace. (seriously, I dream big, remember?)

Ahhh, then there's SAGE. My beloved story that refused to be shelved. It's Abbey and Gabriel's year. I believe that so deeply that I'm posting it here for all the world to see. I'm either really brave or stupid. I think I'll go with brave.

How about everyone else? Any goals you're willing to put out there for the world?

*Also, I just noticed that I have 97 followers here. WOW! Thanks for your support guys! I never thought this many people would be interested in my little blog. Now who doesn't like seeing a big fat 100? 100% on a test? $100? Love em'.

How about a 100 followers? Yes, please!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

You won't want to miss this if you're a writer!

There are many perks of running a fansite for an author as fabulous, down to earth, and fun as Becca Fitzpatrick. And now there's a big fat one to add to that list...

Becca has agreed to do a strictly writing topic chat in January!

It's an awesome opportunity for all of us writers to ask her questions about the writing process, querying, editing---whatever. One of the great things about Becca is how approachable and available she has been with doing chats on various blogs, commenting to people on her own, and taking emails, but all of that has centered around HUSH, HUSH. So this will be a rare opportunity to interact with her on how she created this NYT Best Selling novel as well as the highly anticipated follow up, CRESCENDO.

*Disclaimer* I swear this is not shameless self promotion for our site. I really am this excited about it! No. Really. I'm just super geeky like that.

Because this all started from our site and the fact that we have many aspiring writers already in the forum we will be hosting the chat through our site, Fallenarchangel. You will need to be a forum member to attend so I thought I would get the word out there now to give anyone interested time to register and plan ahead. I'll have the date and the other official details posted very soon, but as you can imagine I've been dying to share this new with all my writer friends!

If you're interested check out the site here. You can click on the forum tab at the top to visit and register and check out what sort of fun stuff we have going, like our awesome new feature called Featured Fiction of the month. December's focus is on another awesome YA series WAKE, FADE, and GONE by Lisa McMann and you can enter to win your own copies of the first two books by telling us about a dream you've had. How easy is that?

Now that I got that exciting new off my chest I better get back to my edits because, guess what? I finished my massive revisions last night! *wink wink* Much more on that later...

If you're as excited as I am to chat with Becca about all things writing please leave a comment below just saying "I'm in" or any sort of topic you're hoping to ask her about. I can't wait! Hope to see you all there. I'll get that date and time up ASAP.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Change your way of thinking

It's been forever since I've shared one of the fabulous Daily Guru quotes
I signed up to receive daily. Love them. Love this one...

"If you expect the best, you will be the best. Learn to use one of the most
powerful laws in this world; change your mental habits to belief instead
of disbelief. Learn to expect, not to doubt. In so doing, you bring
everything into the realm of possibility. "

--Dr. Norman Vincent Peale


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Two names you need to know: Jamie Harrington and Sketch McGee

If there is one piece of advice I would give a fellow aspiring writer just starting out, it's to find a critique partner you trust, who is brutally honest with you on both what works and doesn't work in your story, and who you think can write brilliantly (because trust me, you need to love their work because you will be reading it A LOT). That being said, I found two. And trust me I know how blessed I am to have them. So how could I not make a fuss over the fact that one of my critique partners and incredibly talented friend, Jamie Harrington, scored an agent?

You know all those qualities I mentioned above that a good writing buddy should have? Well, Jamie's got all that and more. She's a rock star. Seriously. Since she signed with a fabulous agent it's pretty obvious Jamie is a top notch writer and story teller, but she can also edit the pants of anything you send her and like her main character, Sketch, she does it with lightening speed. As you can see she's a pretty handy person to know when it comes to writing, but Jamie's also one of the funniest, optimistic and most supportive people I know. She's brought me back from my dark and twisty place more than once and with her comment bubbles and suggestions to hack away up to an entire chapter at times, has made my own work way, way, way better.

Now, without further ado, I give you the woman herself...

Okay, so let's just get right to it. In two sentences, describe your book.

Sketch is about a sixteen year old super villain that can change the future with her drawings. Her nemesis is a super cute hero who turns out to be more fun than any adversary really should be.

You ended up with multiple offers of representation, but ultimately went with Victoria Horn from Liza Dawson Associates. How do you even make that kind of decision?

Well, that was kind of a crazy week. One agent made an offer, and then I had to email all the other agents that had my manuscript. When it was all said and done, I ended up with five offers, and just had to go with my gut. I clicked pretty much instantly with Victoria, and was really impressed with her agency. But, and most importantly--I liked what she had to say about my book and my career. She's very business minded and I'm all artsy. She's the sturdy peanut butter that holds the sandwich together while I'm the fruity jam that makes it all tasty. (Ohmigosh when she reads this I am in t-rouble!)

When you were writing Sketch, did you think it was THE book?

Now, that's a toughie, because when you're in the middle of writing a book, you love it more than anything else you've ever written. But, I knew there was something about Sketch. The whole premise of the book is so dang cool that my only worry was being a strong enough writer to do the characters justice. I actually did a ton of super hero/villain research (read: watched loads of movies and read piles of comics) to make sure I got the whole world building and origins thing. In the end, though--I think the voice of the characters is what makes the story so smackin' awesome.

You're about to start submitting the story to publishers. What's going through your head?

We're waiting until after the holidays to send the story out, because we're hoping they are kind of over the Christmas rush and all hunkered down for the winter looking for amazing books then, but I am a huge ball of emotions. Part of me is the most excited person in the world, I can't believe that actual editors of actual publishing houses are going to be thinking about MY book. That's just insane. Then there's this whole other part of me that is super scared. What if everyone hates it? What if they think my ideas silly and my writing trite? That could totally happen. Man, this writing thing's a tough gig.

And, of course we all want to read the query that scored you the agent. Would you mind sharing it?

Of course not! I think a well written query is the writer's best tool. We need to remember that it's our first contact with an agent. It's our two minute opportunity to make an awesome impression, so make it amazing. Here's mine:

Dear Secret Agent (Wo)Man,

(This is where I personalized the query in some way. If I twittered or talked them in the comments of their blog or just whatever. I tried to remind them that we'd had contact in some way, and that I was all cheerful and adorable.)

Compared to super speed and mind reading, sixteen-year-old Sketch McGee’s ability to draw the future makes her a pretty lame villain in a family of super-bads. It’s all she can do to make it through a day of high school, much less mastermind evil plans. But, everything changes when the new guy, Chase Fairway, steals her heart—which is quickly broken when she discovers he’s the obnoxious new do-gooder in town flying around mucking up her family’s life of crime.

Drawing the future turns out to be a little bit cooler when she learns she can also shape it however she wants. Goodbye do-gooder, hello perfect bad-boy boyfriend Chase. Life is great, until she figures out he’s a whole different kind of bad guy. Not bank-robbing, diamond-stealing evil like her family, but murderous psychopath evil. Suddenly her drawings of a man standing over her dad’s lifeless body make perfect, horrifying sense. Chase plans to kill her dad.

Governed by her emotions and struggling to control her powers, she has to find a way to erase her mistakes and create a new future without Chase as her boyfriend, or watch her father’s death—in real life.

SKETCH, a YA Superhero complete at 60,000 words, is available upon request. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.

A big thank you to Jamie for doing this interview and for just plain being awesome. I think it's safe to say that we can expect to hear about Sketch finding a home with one of the big publishers before spring. If you'd like to know more about Jamie and Sketch visit her blog and be sure to check out a great interview with Jamie our other amazing critique buddy, Sara Tribble, did on her blog here. Keep your eye on Sara too because I have a good feeling she'll be landing an agent next.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Still typing...

I thought I better pop in to say hello and to let everyone know I'm still alive. I've had all these great idea for posts but have been way too involved in revisions and life in general lately to get the ideas down.

So...hello! *waves hand* I'm alive!

Life is good. The revisions are moving along and I have a shiny new query (thanks to some awesome helpers) ready to go when they are finally finished (which is looking like the end of the month). Eh, so maybe things are better than good. Let's go with great, shall we?

Once I get the rewrites wrapped up and I'm in editing mode I plan on posting more regularly and finally sharing the scoop on our meet-up in Philly with the fabulous Becca Fitzpatrick and her editor from Simon & Schuster, Emily Meehan, complete with photos and all. As well as a few thoughts on what it's like to be back working on a book that I thought was ready to collect dust. Boy, am I glad I listened to my instincts on this because I have changed about 89% and if I do say so myself...it rocks.

Speaking of revisions. Back to work. I can't waste this golden quiet time with the little guy asleep and the house to myself.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I could go on and on...

I hadn't really thought about writing a post in honor of Thanksgiving, but after seeing the fabulous list Lisa & Laura shared this morning I felt rather inspired to do the same. I hope you ladies don't mind if I duplicate a few of your things to be thankful for, because let's face it, many of us writers can appreciate a lot of the same things.

Family and friends.
I could chew up this whole post on how amazing my family and friends are, how supportive they are, how thankful I am for all they do. They have, and continue to go above and beyond the call of duty, and without them I shudder to think of where and what I'd be doing. Probably working a stuffy full time job in some city I hate instead of writing and loving the simplicity of life. This includes my incredible little guy who has no clue about what mommy does on the computer but who makes me laugh and inspires me to be better in every way. Then there's Jenn, who's my number one fan, tech person, fellow Fallenarchangel.com founder, and all around rock star big sister. The fact that she has read SAGE like twenty times already in its various stages says it all.

Writing buddies.
Speaking of people who have been kind enough to read some of my rather rough stages in SAGE, I couldn't give thanks without mentioning two of the most spectacular writer friends a girl could ask for. Sara and Jamie, who have stood by me since the day we connected to start a critique group. Without them my book wouldn't be half of what it is today. They didn't even call me crazy when I pulled SAGE back out and started tearing it apart last month. Love them!

Becca Fitzpatrick is just as awesome in person as I imagined and after reading her blog this morning I had to share. Here's that post here. Not that I'm bragging or anything about having the chance to hang with a NYT best selling author and ask her all sorts of writerly questions and stuff, and meeting two other fabulous publishing stars. Getting to know someone who is living the dream I'm aiming for myself and having her be sooo down to earth and excited is about as inspirational as you can get. *Just please excuse the small detail that my face looks puffy and my hair is all flat in the picture.

I couldn't mention each and every person here, but if you're reading this it's safe to say I'm pretty darn thankful for you too. When I started this blog I thought I'd reach about 20 followers, but here I am with 94! You mean people actually want to read my little random rants? Like Lisa & Laura said, I too am so grateful for your comments and I love reading your blogs every morning. I wish I had more time to post comments out there, but know that I am reading them and appreciate you.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you and your loved ones. Enjoy!

Friday, November 20, 2009

What do authors, editors and New Moon have in common? My weekend!

I know a lot of you out there aren't so into the Twilight thing, but I am a very big fan, and proud of it. Which of course means I went to the midnight show last night. It was perfection. I won't gush too much but I can tell you it was a thousand times better than Twilight and it was very true to the book. I cannot wait to see it again Sunday to really digest it all. Yep, I said Sunday. Two times in one week. It was sooo worth the 3.5 hours of sleep I got last night.

Now, to continue with my fan girl theme in a whole different way...

I have to head to bed super early tonight so that I can actually wake up in time tomorrow. My sister Jenn and I are heading out at about 5:45 am for Philadelphia to meet the fantastic author of Hush, Hush, Becca Fitzpatrick, and the equally amazing editor, Emily Meehan, from Simon & Schuster who worked on Hush, Hush. I'm extremely grateful that both of them are so gracious to make the time to meet with us. As both an aspiring writer and major fan of Becca, Hush, Hush and the books Simon & Schuster produce, this is way better than meeting any A-list celebrity. Hello, a NYT best selling author and a rock star editor. Um, yeah, no question this will be awesome.

Off to take a nap then let the weekend continue with all its fabulousness...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I'll crawl out of this hermit hole soon...

So, I have pretty much sucked at posting on my blog the last few weeks. There has been a lot going on in general, but I'm also hardcore revising my book and query. Which is nothing new since I've been at this for months now and the end is in near!

*Note--there is now a sobbing 2-year-old laying on the floor beside me because he is upset that I won't allow him to consume a very large quantity of soy milk this morning. This also tends to get in the way of things like blogging. It's a good thing he's so darn cute and says things like this...While tucking him the other night I said "Good night, pumpkin," to which he replied with the most serious little face "No, Mommy I'm not a pumpkin. I just Nathan."

Heart officially melted.

But, I have and will have some very exciting things to share here like, my super awesome writing buddy/critique partner who scored an agent, the chat we did with the HUSH, HUSH cover model, heading to Philly to meet Becca Fitzpatrick this weekend, New Moon opening...so much good stuff going on that it makes my head spin. In the best of ways, of course. Yep, all of these things will have my fangirl self out in full force. Watch out!

*sigh* I love November...

Now, off to prepare for a day of installing the Christmas display windows at work. Seriously, when did it get to be the time of year for this to happen? I really ought to get out of this hermit hole more often.

Friday, November 13, 2009

This has been so hard to keep quiet

One of the toughest parts about being the first one to break a story is keeping your mouth shut before you share it with the rest of the world. And so, I give you the model from the cover of HUSH, HUSH...

Check out the exclusive interview we did with Drew with even more photos here. Eeeek!!! He's even doing a chat with our forum members Sunday to wrap up our cover week. *sigh* Then it's back to my usual writing and everyday life rants on here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The scoop on the follow up to HUSH, HUSH

For our second feature of the week on Fallenarchangel.com's HUSH, HUSH Cover Week, Becca was gracious enough to share some info on the cover of the sequel, CRESCENDO! She rocks.
Check it out here.

*I'll be back to blogging with my usual randomness next week, but with how fun all the HUSH, HUSH stuff has been I thought it would be perfect to share here. Even if you haven't read the book it's awesome info on what goes into making a gorgeous cover like this one.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Read Hush, Hush yet? Doesn't matter! Check this out.

Hmm, not sure I have ever been so excited for Monday to come until now. Woohoo! My sister Jenn and I thrilled because today kicks off our Fallenarchangel.com HUSH, HUSH Cover Week with a fabulous interview with the genius behind the cover, James Porto. You can check that out on our site here. Be sure to read the note near the bottom because there's a hint at what's to come later and it's HUGE for anyone who loves the cover of HUSH, HUSH. Squeee!

*Sigh* This one of the many reasons I heart this November...

Of course there's also New Moon, finishing my revisions and the biggest thing--there's a good possibility Jenn and I will meet the amazing Becca Fitzpatrick in person while she's in Philly for a convention! Heck, if November rocks this much I can't wait to see what December holds.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Because who doesn't want to win a Kindle

As if Lisa and Laura aren't fabulous enough with their new publisher and all, they're having a contest to give a free Kindle. Yes, I said Kindle. As if we don't love them enough already! All you have to do if visit their blog to become a follower and for more chances to win you can leave a comment and post on your own blog to spread the love. Heck, even if you don't want a Kindle you should follow their blog because it's stinkin' hilarious and these ladies are about to become a household name.

And since I'm on the topic of the incredible LiLa I want to just say how super excited I am to get my hands on A Kate Lowry Mystery: THE HAUNTING OF PEMBERLY BROWN come spring 2011! Congratulations ladies!!! Check out their surprise post with the big news here.

Writing Community

Lin asked us to share our thoughts on the writing community this week for the blog chain. Do we mainly write alone? Do we work with a critique partner or group? Attend workshops? That sort of thing.

This a super easy thing for my to discuss because I simply adore the writing community I've come to know over the last year since beginning my own writing. I would be lost without my critique partners and beta readers like Jenn, Sara, Jamie, Crystal, Nova and the other fabulous volunteers who have read my work. There's no question about it. My writing would be a total mess, my sanity would be gone, and I would likely have given up on Sage. And speaking of critique partners who rock. My rock star writing buddy, Jamie Harrington scored an agent last month!!!! But stay tuned because I plan on posting about her and her kick ass story next week.

Then there are the super awesome writers, bloggers, agents, editors and fellow fans who I've connected with or follow. I'm not the most consistent commenter but I try and read all the blogs in my follow list and always find some helpful writing tip or at least something to make me smile. I love the connection of knowing other writers out there are going through the same things whether they are published or struggling to complete their first novel. I believe strongly that writing is not a solitary art and that if you surround yourself with positive and supportive people your work can only improve.

I have yet to attend any workshops, classes or conferences but I hope to do so at some point down the road. But for now I'm grateful for the people I've found, especially those of you who take the time to read my random posts about my journey and offer comments. Whether they are words of encouragement, sharing your opinion on a question I asked or stopping in to say hello, I truly appreciate each and every one of you. You rock!

Visit the other blogs this week to see how they feel about their writing community. Flames and Shadows, Somewhere Nowhere In My Kingdom, From Elysium, and Girl With a Notebook

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Stand back folks, I'm planning a book binge!

Its like I've been on a reading diet the last couple months since I started my new story then went back to my hard core revisions. This is nothing new. I tend to stray away from reading while I disappear into creating first drafts and such, but I think it's time to feast. There are far too many books sitting on my desk waiting to be read. (not literally, some are my sisters or the libraries -which I have now renewed twice!)

My lack of reading slapped me across the face when I saw Maggie Stiefvater's blog announcing the cover of Linger and a passage from the book. It looks and sounds awesome, but ugh, I haven't read Shiver yet! I've been meaning to since it came out when my sister read it and loved it. Then there's Catching Fire. I bought it the day it came out and have lent it to three people, yet I have yet to crack that exquisite jewel open for myself. Oh, the horror.

With the end of 09 looming and kick ass sequels on the horizon for 2010, I'm putting a stop to this madness and going on a reading binge. Of course I'm waiting until I finish my revisions because I'm dark and twisted and like to torture myself like that.

Here's what my list looks like:

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Fire by Kristin Cashore
A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
Shiver by Maggie Steifvater
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Wake by Lisa McMann
Fade by Lisa McMann

Ahhh, it sounds good just typing those titles. There's no doubt they will satisfy my YA fantasy cravings. Is it wrong to salivate over a book? I'll keep you posted when I start this little party and of course I'll share my thought on the ones I love, which I'm hoping will be all of them.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Did I seriously write that?

I experienced one of those rough patches last night where everything I read in my manuscript sounded awful. You know those days. Thankfully they pass quickly for me and the next night I'll be in love with it again, but in an effort to motivate myself I went back and read one of my first query drafts.

It's so awful I would never subject anyone (else. yes, I made the HUGE mistake of sending it out to a few agents last year!) to it let alone humiliate myself by sharing it here. It sucks. There I said it. Not even the closing was good. The word count was ridiculous, it was packed with cliches, and the story sounded like crap. After I got over the initial cringe I laughed. I sat there staring at the computer screen with a big ol' smile spread across my face because where I'm at today is light years ahead from that horrible beginner query. Not just the query, my writing, the story--me. We've all come a very very long way in the span of a year. So the next time I hit an icky mood and think my work isn't so hot I'm totally pulling out the old query and first drafts.

So instead of hiding your old work under a bed or if you're considering sending the file to the trash bin, think again. Save it for those days when you second guess your writing because I guarantee you'll see just how far you've come and it will make you feel loads better. But if you're like me and actually allowed other human beings to read the early mess I recommend blocking out that small detail from your mind. It's way easier than crawling under the bed with the dusty old first, second, third or fourth draft.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween! Time for candy and...less blogging?

Hope all of you that are heading our to trick or treat or party till the wee hours of the morning have a great Halloween. I'll be enjoying it with my toddler who can really only eat lollipops thanks to his allergies, which means Mommy gets all the chocolate. Bad for him, good for me!

I'm also planning on taking a little break from blogging to get my revisions done, prepare for all the great stuff we are doing with fallenarchangel.com, and of course the New Moon chaos. I've really been slacking with my posts and tweets anyway so I figured I better just say I am unplugging for a bit. I thought about participating in NaNo but with my revisions and the holidays approaching I feel its best to to stick what I'm doing and get my query whipped into shape. Something I'm very excited about since I had a great critique from Joanna Stampfel-Volpe thanks to her incredible generosity to critique the first ten queries she received from readers of Lisa & Laura's blog last week. How awesome is she for doing that? So now I'm armed with an agent's feedback on what's working and what needs help in my query. I am one lucky little writer.

I'm still trying to read all the blogs I follow and comment when I can, but I'm really determined to kick some butt and wrap up these hard core revisions in the next few weeks. I'm thinking this is probably good timing since so many of you are doing NaNo which means you won't be blogging as much either. Good luck to all of you who are taking part. I look forward to hearing how it goes since I plan on doing it next year.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

If you don't have something nice to say...

...don't say anything at all. Just like Mom taught us, right? I find it rather amusing that my sister commented on my question about how people feel about negative reviews and used this same quote I intended using myself for this post. I'm thinking our mom must rock.

Speaking of that little question, you can check out what other writers/readers feel here in regards to posting and sharing negative reviews about other books. Good stuff, thank you all for taking the time to share those awesome opinions! And it looks like many of us writers share the same philosophy.

So now it's my turn.

While I wish every book was great to everyone who read it, I know that's impossible. Like anything in the world there will be some people who love a story and some that hate it, with every imaginable opinion in between. I have no issue with sharing those opinions. I like to read reviews to find out what people thought of a book before I buy it. My issue is with people who spread that negativity. Why? Why would anyone who loves to read want to intentionally knock someone else's story to the ground and go out of their way to stop people from reading it? I'm not talking about a review shared only on a blog. Especially a book review blog. But I've seen a few instances when they do it there and in other places. Huh? Because like I said earlier, every story will have fans and critics. Surely any book that has made it through a literary agent, an editor or editorS, and countless others, have some good qualities? Shouldn't we focus on both aspects? But like Lizzy said in the comments I hate when I spend money only a book to be disappointed. So I can definitely see why the not so nice opinions need to be shared.

Like a few of the readers who commented on my post Friday I have chosen not to talk about books I don't like and focus on the ones I do. As a writer I want to see my fellow writers succeed. I want people to buy their books. It doesn't mean I think everyone should follow this philosophy or that if you post a negative review you don't support authors. I just think it's important to think things through and know what sort of stance you want to take in the long run because as one commenter said, you never know who you might end up sitting next to a local writers group or conference. (Thank you Roni for providing the example!)

As an aspiring writer there is a lot more to think about when it comes to blogging, posting on forums, tweeting, etc. But equally important are the things we say about other books not only our own blogs but on sites like Amazon or Goodreads. Everything you put it out there is available for authors, agents and editors to see. But that's another post I'm planning...

Anyway, to wrap this up I should say also say something on the flip side of this debate. I don't know about you, but I'm guilty of not sharing my glowing reviews enough. If I'm so into supporting authors, what's my problem? Well, I can tell you I plan on changing that and making much more of an effort to spread the word on stories I fall in love with. As for the ones I don't, I'm keeping my mouth shut. Unless someone asks, of course. Thank you Lisa & Laura for inspiring me to think about this with your awesome Spread the love post!

Friday, October 23, 2009

What's your take on negative reviews?

I started writing a big ol' post on my thoughts on negative reviews as a writer, but I think its better to ask you all before hand what your take is before I share my little rant.


As a writer how do you feel about sharing negative thoughts on other books? Do you post them on your blog? On sites like Amazon and Goodreads? Do you do share those thoughts in multiple places?

This is a free for all, so please share any thoughts you have on the topic. I'm extremely curious to see where you all stand on this one.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Please tell me how I can keep you up all night?

Yes, this is indeed a serious question. I want to know what it takes for a story to make you lose much needed sleep just to finish?

You know the kind I mean.

The sort of book that you can't put down. One that you sit and read during breakfast, one hand holding the book, the other holding a spoon mechanically shoving cereal in your mouth. The kind that you shove in your purse to read during your lunch break. The sort of story that leads you to put a video on for your child to keep him distracted enough that you can sneak in a few more chapters. The kind you don't want to end because you want to linger just a little longer in that world.

So tell me what is it about these sort of books that captures us and won't let us move on with our lives until we finish? Because I want to write like that. I can think of no greater honor than to know that I made someone lose sleep so they could read my story. And what books have you read that did it for you? Because let's face it they aren't all that common. To me they are a precious treat that I can't get enough of. Sure I love many of the books I read, but I'm taking about the few that REALLY hit hard with the suspense.

Here's a few recent ones that have done it for me.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
(and I'm sure Catching Fire once I allow myself to read it)
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning

Monday, October 19, 2009

Memorable characters and getting to know our own

I'm very late with my post on the blog chain this week which is especially bad since I am in charge of posting who starts the chain today and as you can see I'm posting it today. Sorry guys!

Of course I'll take Monday so that I don't throw someone else off.

Last week's topic was started by Icy Roses who asked what made a memorable character and to list a few examples.

For me a memorable character isn't necessarily the good guy I tend to find find the "bad" characters more memorable, not that I like them or relate to them more, they just stick with me in a way that even some of my favorite characters don't. I think I'll go right into those examples since the reasons why I chose them will explain my qualifications a little better.

  • Lord Voldemort. Yep, I said it. Voldemort. I adore Harry and the rest of the "good" gang but Voldemort has always intrigued me. The fourth movie only made this odd fascination worse. That whole cemetery scene is incredible. He is just soooo evil. Yet behind that horrid cold creature you can't help but want to know more about him. The instant he appears on screen or in a scene in the book the mood changes. And it's unnerving the way he lurks on the edges of the story. In my opinion Rowling created one of the best villains of all time with his pure darkness and lust for power at any cost while showing us his broken past and all too human weakness. I hate Voldemort for his cruelty, but I can't look away...

  • Jehrico Barrons. Oddly enough I didn't love the Fever series he's from, but I can't help myself. It may be because a friend lent me her copy of the newest book, Dreamfever, (which is not suitable for anyone under 18 in my opinion!) but he had to be on this list. The number reason is that in all four books (still at least one more out next year) we never learn what he really is. He's the very definition of tall dark and dangerous, he oozes sex, and is powerful beyond belief. All of this good bad guy stuff is magnified by the fact that the rest of the story contains lethal faeries, vampires, etc. yet we have no idea who or what he is and he's far worse then any of them. So unsettling. He does something that seems good only to turn around and does something that appears deceptive and evil.

  • Katniss Everdeen. Most of you have read The Hunger Games so I think you can see why I list her. She has such guts and courage. She is a good girl who proves she is capable of anything. Killing, lying, acting the part. Kat is the ultimate underdog turned hero. One of my favorite scenes is when she is so fed up with the pathetic and cruel way she's treated and shoots the arrow at the judges before the games. Amazing. Oh I wanted to be her right then. I love her for the way she's willing to do whatever it takes to survive and protect the people she loves. And she's more than capable. Girl power! (and shhhh don't say a word to me about Catching Fire - it's my revision completion reward)

Now for this week my topic is character bios. How deep do you dig into your characters when you create them? Have an example you're willing to share or some inspiration photos.

I find photos of their cars, their houses, locations they visit in the story, clothes, and of course what they look like. For some I've made a list of their favorite things, like their fav band, movie, book, etc. Since I'm pressed for time at the moment I'll wrap this up with a picture I threw together late Friday night after I saw a book cover at our Borders event. The second I saw it I knew it was Abbey from my first book, Sage.

For the blog chain here's the list for this week. Again, sorry this is late!

Mon- me. Tues- From Elysium. Wed- Girl With a Notebook. Thur-Flames and Shadows. Fri-Somewhere Nowhere In My Kingdom

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A special day!

Today is October 14th. My son's second birthday! Holy cow where did those two years go? He is such a little person now it's scary. He just told me "go get dressed, Mommy" because he wants to go play with the trains at Barnes & Noble. Or the hysterical way he replies "yeah, of course" when you ask him things like whether he wants more juice. Love it.

I was determined to keep this blog primarily about my writing journey so why am I gushing about my kid turning two you might ask? Well, he has played just about the biggest role of anyone in my writing dream.

For starters he's the reason I walked away from a career I loved (at that time). Never would I have dreamt of attempting to write a novel if I hadn't become a stay at home mom. God bless all you working moms who find time to write! I do work but it's very part time most weeks so I can't really consider myself a "working mom." So if he hadn't swelled up my belly and popped out on October 14th two years ago I would have never been back in my hometown writing my heart out. No doubt I'd still be in another state far away from my family, working crazy hours, oblivious to my real dream.

Then there's the whole motivation thing he provides. The child makes me want to be a better mother - a better human being. I want to succeed not only for myself, but because I want to show him anything is possible. That you really can take big risks and have them pay off. Life is full of possibilities just waiting to be taken. I'm a firm believer that the best way to teach your children how to live a fulfilling and happy life is to do it yourself. Of course I also want with my all my heart to maintain the life we have now. I work a few hours of week so I get to watch him grow and to spend my time the way I choose. I want nothing more than to shift from a writer to an author so that I never have to go back to a typical 9-5. Even then I know it won't be easy but at least I'll be living my dream and for that I'll have my baby boy to thank.

Happy Birthday to my crazy boy!!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fallenarchangel.com. Spreading the Hush, Hush love.

I couldn't let October 13, 2009 pass without mentioning the small detail of today being the official release day of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick. Not only because I think it's an incredible book that you should all read, but as I've mentioned before my sister and I started Fallenarchangel.com, a Hush, Hush fansite.

Yep, we love it that much.

We've got all sorts of great stuff, a forum, a blog (for those of you who have read it you get why it's called The Coldwater High eZine) contests, twitter, even an "Ask Becca" thread on the forum where she'll stop by on Mondays to answer questions. She is just that super cool and down to earth. Just ask Lisa and Laura who posted 13 reasons why they love Hush, Hush!

While it's still insane to think we have an actual fansite, things have REALLY started to get exciting. Especially with the release today! Jenn and I are going to be at our local Borders in Scranton, PA this Friday from 7-10 pm to help promote Hush, Hush with giveaways (bookmarks, posters, a signed copy!) and a reading. Eeek, we even plan on wearing t-shirts with Fallenarchangel.com on them. Becca will be in Philly next month so we are working on arranging a time to meet her. In person!!! We've had the pleasure of working with Simon & Schuster here and in the UK. So many amazing things and more in the works.

And let me tell you Becca'a fans are incredible. One of the best parts about starting the site (aside from getting to work with Becca) is meeting the people who love Hush, Hush like we do. We have 119 amazing members who have been already built an awesome community with pics of who they see as Patch and Nora, other books and TV shows the love and more. Then there's Brittany who has been pumping out some killer banners using the teaser lines we posted the last ten days leading up to the release today. I'm telling you, they are just the best fans a girl could ask for. Becca is one lucky lady!

Hopefully if you've read Hush, Hush you will come join the fun and show your love for Becca. And if you haven't read it, you'll go pick a copy up today and come hang out with us when you finish at www.fallenarchangel.com.

So here's a BIG shout out to Becca Fitzpatrick on her very first release day! Thank you for writing one of the best stories I've ever read, and for being so supportive and just plain awesome. I am beyond excited to see what lies ahead. Hmm, Crescendo (the follow up to Hush, Hush) anyone? Heck yeah!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Can too good be bad?

There are countless stories (books, movies, TV shows etc.) that follow this formula:

Good girl falls for the bad boy with a dangerous secret.

For as often as its used it works pretty darn good. I for one am a huge fan of the good girl loves the bad boy thing. I can think of a dozen examples right now. It's a tried and true formula. Just look at some of the books you've read over the course of your life. Sage, my first book that I've recently lost mind and decided to revise, falls right in line with this idea. Which got me to thinking.

Is a girl who's too good a bad thing?

Should I tip the scales on my main characters tendencies and make her a little more naughty? Well, maybe not so naughty, flawed might be a better word. She's already stubborn and independent, but she's still what you'd call a good girl. Maybe she needs to loosen up and sneak out of her bedroom window to meet a boy or skip school a time or two. Because believe me, she's got it in her to do those sort of things.

Then again if the whole good-girl-loves-bad-boy thing has worked for so many, maybe I should stick with what works. Lots to consider.

What about you? How do you feel about the good girl formula? Does your story follow it?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I have to confess...

I did it.

I broke my own rules.

I cheated...

on my new story.

I tried to stay away from Sage, really I did, but like one of those nights when you've had a little (okay, way) too much to drink and run into your ex, well - we hooked up.

I was sitting there all fine and good working on Let the City Burn. Typing away. Then it happened. This overwhelming urge flattened me, and I cracked open my most recent file of Sage. And it felt soooo good. I didn't even think about LTCB once. Is that bad? Do you think it will hate me now and want to break up? Do I want to break up and go back to my ex? Does this mean we're already back to together?

I haven't told LTCB yet, but I swear I will. I may cheat. But I don't lie! I'm not even sure what this means. Oh, but the revisions are good. Really, really good.

Now, if you'll excuse me I need to go do some heavy thinking.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Who would you pick?

If you could present your work to one (or more) specific author (or any celebrity, for that matter) who would it be?

This fabulous blog chain question is courtesy of Kim at Somewhere Nowhere In My Kingdom. And boy oh boy did I have to think about my response. There are soo many authors I respect and admire. Not so much with the celebrities. I could easily list a dozen authors I'd love to talk to and die to have read my work and see what advice they could give me. Scott Westerfeld, Becca Fitzpatrick, J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Eckhart Tolle, James Patterson... But, I'm going with one.

Suzanne Collins.

In case you aren't familiar with her name. She's the author of one of the most incredible books, The Hunger Games. If you're a fan then you might wonder why I'm not mentioning Catching Fire. This is because I *GASP* haven't read it yet. Yep, I'm saving it as a reward and incentive for when I finish my current WIP. (which I may take way longer than planned, but that's a different story) Crazy, I know, but I know that I won't get a thing done once I start that book!

Much like her style I'll keep this short and to the point. The reason I chose Ms. Collins, is because in my opinion she has created one of the most heart-stopping-keep-you-on-the-edge-of-the-seat-stories I've ever had the pleasure of reading. And she wrote it in first person present tense. Not an easy thing to pull off, but she does it so effectively that you feel like you literally are Katniss at times. I want to know how she does it. I want to learn how to write even half as well as she does... *sigh*

What about you?

Stop by Somewhere Nowhere In My Kingdom, Girl With a Notebook, Flames and Shadows, and From Elysium to see who they'd like to share their work with.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Finding time to write. How do you do it?

For some reason I've struggled way more with my writing time with the new story. I thought it would get better with summer ending with it getting darker earlier, the pool getting covered, my child heading to bed earlier (hopefully). Sadly, this has not been the case. It seems like there is always something going on. Ugh. I don't want to push people away and become a recluse or force my child to go to bed way early just so I can write, but some days it's a little tempting...

So I'm curious, how do you handle it? Do you always write at a certain time? How do you make time to write when life gets hectic? Do you set a timeline to finish?

Monday, October 5, 2009

First novels die hard

I'm not sure if my brain is playing tricks me in order to further distract me from my current WIP, but it appears that it has some killer ideas on revising my first novel, Sage. Uh, when did this happen? Better yet, why? Why am I thinking about a story I shelved in order to move on to something that has a better chance of succeeding?

For a split second I actually considered halting my new story to go back to the old one. WTF? I quickly got my head together and realized this is not a good idea. Not yet. The revisions I have planned (which I made sure to write down for later) are massive. We're talking changing my MC's age, where she lives, a huge portion of the setting. Major changes. And even though I think, no scratch that, I know, these changes will fix what has ailed the story, I need to sit on it.

I'm half way done with Let the City Burn and it's going fantastic. Why mess with that? Why set myself back in my demanding timeline? These are the sort of questions I'm asking myself and the answers are pretty clear. They all end up leading to the same decision. Finish Let the City Burn. Sage can wait. But, can it? Because those characters have been paying me frequent visits lately, making me miss them, making me want to spend some time with them.

Like the ex boyfriend you know you should forget but are still hung up on even though you have a really great new boyfriend. I tell myself things like, "oh give the new book more time, you just need to get to know those characters better" or "you spent the last year of your life with them so of course you miss them." Then I hear one of our songs (from my writing playlist) and I think about them and end up eating a container of triple fudge brownie ice cream and watching sappy movies to make me cry. OK, not really but you get the idea.

Anyone else been wooed by an old story with ideas of improvement? Did you resist or give in and cheat on your new WIP? I'm determined to at least finish the first draft of LTCB before I get all crazy and run off with Sage again. So if you see us off in a dark corner together slap me before I get myself in trouble!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Anyone live in the UK or know someone that does?

Simon & Schuster UK has been incredible enough to provide ten copies of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick to our fansite to give away to UK readers. If you're from the UK or know someone that is you can check out the details here. All you have to do is post the contest badge on your site, blog, or other social networking sites to be eligible. How easy is that? Winners will even be chosen BEFORE the book hits stores!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Getting better

We all have to room to grow. And I mean all of us. From the newbie writer typing their first words to a best selling novelist, each and every writer evolves and learns with each word they write. At least that's my opinion. I started thinking about this after reading Lin from Flames and Shadows question for the blog chain this week when she asked what advice we had to help writers improve their work.

There are a lot of ways to improve like Lin already mentioned (reading books on technique, taking classes, etc.) but I think I think I'll stick to what's worked for me.

  1. Read. Read. Read. I love to read and I read every chance I get with the exception of when I'm in first draft mode. It's one of my personal quirks to keep my head clear and focused when I'm really in intense creation mode, but aside from that I read constantly. Reading is like studying for a test. The more you do it, the better your score will be. I personally stick to reading what I love but I think as long as you read something of quality it doesn't really matter if it's the same genre you're working in or not.
  2. An extra set of eyes. Or two. Or three. Finding critique partners was one of the best things that ever happened for me as a writer. I can't imagine where I'd be without them. I shudder to think of it! Not only did their comments and edits make my work 1000% better. I learned volumes from critiquing their work too. It's helped me read my own work with a fresh eye and to revise in a more confident and effective way. I also recommend having a handful of beta readers and writing buddies so you can get different views on what's working or not working.
  3. My first novel. I was sure my first book would be the one, but oh how very wrong I was. I, like 99% of writers found out that my first attempt at a novel wasn't my best work. I wrote several drafts, queried, had agent feedback, revised, queried some more, then finally set it aside. That was over the course of a year, and though there were times I wondered if I could have done things differently, I realize now it was all part of the process. I write slower now. I think about my words before typing them. I outline. I send chapters as I write them to some of my readers. I take my big ideas and kick them down a notch.

There are more things I could ramble about, but I'd love to know what you guys think. Any advice on what's helped you improve?

Visit Flames and Shadows, From Elysium, Girl With A Notebook, and Somwhere Nowhere In My Kingdom to see their advice on improving your craft.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Reading a big girl book

The other day I went out and bought my mom the book Traveling With Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor. It's a dual memoir written by mother and daughter while they travel through Greece and France as they both struggle with changes in their lives. There are two reasons I bought this. One, my mom is a big fan of Sue Monk Kidd's other books like Dance of the Dissident Daughter and The Secret Life of Bees. Two, I opened a magazine to a mini interview about this book, and knew instantly that my mom had to read it. But that's another story. I should also note that this is a mother/daughter memoir. Another reason it was perfect. You can read more about the book here.

Nerd confession time.

We decided to read it aloud to each other. In my defense, this isn't my normal routine with books, but there is one exception - Harry Potter. I read that to my mom on a road trip once, and I have read the entire series to my now 9 yr old niece, of which we're only half way through book seven at the moment. (so please don't tell me how it ends!)

Anyone else read this way? Because you really need to try it. It's fun. And I mean reading to someone who isn't too young to read for themselves. I do that pretty much every day when I read to Nathan. (who is turning 2 this month!) There's something really special about reading to a fellow reader and sharing in the story together. My sister and I had good intentions of reading Catching Fire aloud but that didn't work out due to timing, but can you even imagine how stinking fun that would have been? Because let me tell you how incredible it is reading the last Harry Potter book for the first time with my niece. I get to experience it with her instead of knowing what's ahead like I did with the other six.

No pun intended, but it's magical.

I hope I get at least one of you to try reading to a friend, a boyfriend, an older child, a co-worker, the babysitter, the cable man...I don't care who, just give it a shot. And I'll share more thoughts on Traveling With Pomegranates as we go because I think the fact that a best selling author opens her heart on trying to reconnect with her writing is going to be pretty inspiring. And aren't wondering where the hell the title came from?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Calling all YA Fantasy fans!

*In case you missed my post a few weeks ago, my sister and I started a fansite for Becca Fitzpatrick's incredible debut novel Hush, Hush, called Fallenarchangel.com. I thought I better mention this since the rest of the post would be a bit confusing...

This week I stumbled upon a treasure at my local Barnes & Noble....the hard cover of Hush, Hush! Quite a shock considering it wasn't supposed to be out until October 13th. I bought it, and as of yesterday afternoon it's on its way to the thrilled winner of our Twitter contest. We randomly selected a winner once we hit 100 followers. We're trying to do the same with our forum but the pace has been a bit slower considering it involves registering not just clicking the follow button like you do on Twitter.

So I thought I'd spread the word here since I know some of you have already read Hush, Hush and that many of you are YA fantasy fans. Once we hit 100 users on the forum at www.fallenarchangel.com we'll choose someone at random to win Hush, Hush and we'll send it out right away. This is especially awesome since many people are saying their local stores have not put it out yet! We're itching to get that book in the mail this weekend and I'd love for it to be one of you, so please stop by and register.

Have a great weekend! *sigh* I'll be working all day Saturday and Sunday.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

So, what's new?

Since I'm all about new goals and ways of doing things this fall, I'm excited that Kim asked the blog chain this week to talk about what was new in our writing lives.

  • I set a firm deadline of when I want to complete my current WIP. It's a much shorter span of time than my first experience, but since I work extremely well under a time restraint and I want to beat all you NaNoWriMo people to the punch in getting my query out in November instead of the hectic December (which isn't so hot due to the holidays anyway) I went with a very ambitious goal to be done, as in ready to query done, by the end of October. Ok, so maybe I gave myself a couple extra weeks, but don't tell my WIP that because it thinks it only has another month!
  • In an effort to complete my WIP in the time frame mentioned above I'm using a new approach to writing. Instead of just letting the words pour out like I've done in the past, which left me with some hefty revisions -ugh, I have been taking my time with each and every sentence. So far this has been a good thing, it honestly does mean less rewriting since I'm aware of things like not starting too many sentences with "I" or adding in just the right amount of detail. I won't truly know if this is the way I'll continue to write until I finish, but right now it's looking pretty promising in spite of the slow daily word count rate.
  • There's an idea that refuses to be ignored and wait its turn in line, it's insisting on moving to the front of the line right behind my current story. The thing is, it's not a YA fantasy, it's a YA romantic comedy! *gasp* I struggled a little with the idea of writing something so completely opposite my other work, but this idea is just too good. SO my next WIP after I complete Let the City Burn, a story full of magic and danger, will involve romance, cowboys and hot pink boots (not on the cowboys). See why it scared me? Oh but I promise it's super fun and refuses to sit quietly and wait its turn, so...

There you have it, three of my "new" things happening with my writing this fall. What about you? Are you starting anything new? Any ideas harassing you too?

See what the other bloggers in the chain have going on...Somewhere Nowhere In My Kingdom, From Elysium, Flames and Shadows, Girl With a Notebook Oh, I also need to apologize for missing my turn last week in the blog chain, sorry! I'll post this week.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I just didn't connect with the story. Wait, that's what...

Who hasn't read a book that didn't exactly knock your socks off? It's happened to me many times over the course of my reading journey. The thing is, it doesn't happen all that often with books in my genre of choice. I can think of about two times I either didn't finish a book or just plain didn't like it when I did make it through. Because let's face it, some books don't seem as great until you shut it and digest the story. Still, I have on the rare occasion stopped reading. Ouch, right?

A month ago I read the first book in a series (which I have chosen not to name) and liked it but didn't love it. Didn't even come close to loving, actually. For me it was just OK. Since this story is very popular I decided to give the next one a chance. Still just OK, and now I'm considering not finishing after only a few chapters because my time is so limited with trying to finish my own new story, and I have books like Catching Fire and Evermore waiting on my bookshelf. Books I know I will love.

Now, does any of this sound familiar my fellow writers? Because it really struck me that this is EXACTLY how it is for agents/editors. Aha, the light bulb moment! How often do we hear agents saying they just didn't connect with a story even though it's a genre they are currently looking for and the writing was strong? When it's our own story its pretty tough to hear that someone didn't connect with our work, but as a reader we should all remember how true this can be. I personally know people who love the book I am considering quitting reading. It's what you'd call a very successful series. Just not for me. And that's ok.

Not everyone is going to love every book and as reader that's a pretty disappointing fact when you pick a book and find you don't want to finish. Even the part about shelving one book to focus on the ones you are more drawn to is the same. Readers can only read a certain number of books so we want the best. Agents can only take on so many books, and they really have to go with the best because they not only have to love it and enjoy it, they have to sell it.

But, as a writer it's a good thing to remember. Even more important is recalling this simple fact of life during the query or submission process. One of the most frustrating things is to hear from an agent who says they didn't connect with your story without a shred of evidence of what you can improve upon. Up until my little epiphany with the book I'm referring to in this post I felt like the whole not connecting thing was an excuse. That surely there had to be something they could point out for me to consider changing. It took a good knock on the head to get it but now I hear it loud and clear. There honestly are times when a reader won't connect with your story and they may not have a single reason to explain why. And since agents and editors are readers it makes perfect sense. Duh. Why didn't I get this before?

In a couple months I'll be back in the query trenches and I truly feel that I'm armed with a whole new way of seeing things so even if those vague form rejections come rolling in I'll be able to shrug them off and keep smiling. Because what really matters is believing in that one person it takes to connect with your story so that it can end up in the hands of the other thousands of readers who will to.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Let's hear it for YA books with male main characters!

Since beginning my new WIP with a teenage male main character, I took the advice of a trusted writing friend and picked up Paper Towns by John Green for some killer first person writing. With what else, but a teenage male main character. Awesome book. Yes, Jamie you were spot on with this recommendation, thank you! I've heard the name John Green on twitter, review blogs, etc. but I'd never read any of his work. After picking up Paper Towns I can safely say I plan on getting my hands on the rest of his books, because it was that good.

Green's story of Quentin, a seventeen-year-old who has a less than predictable end to his senior year, kept me on the edge of the seat, but not in the high action fantasy sort of way I'm used to. It was so completely believable I had to remind myself it was a novel and not a memoir. The fact that one of the key words on Amazon for this book is 'beer swords' tells you there is a healthy dose of humor in place. I kept thinking "oh, so this is how teenage boys talk," or "eww, do they really act this way?" Green captures so much of what high school is and does it brilliantly considering he allows us a glimpse into a diverse cast of high school stereotypes, like the band geek, the popular bitchy girl, the jock, and more. I highly recommend Paper Towns for a read that has no bells and whistles, it's just a really great story with characters you want to hang out with and laugh with, and even slap around once or twice.

For more fun info about Paper Towns and John Green's other books visit his site here.

I'd heard a lot about The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan so I decided to pick that up at the bookstore as well. As you can guess this too has a teenage male MC. (more research) Oh, Nick! While it's not written in first person, Ms. Rees Brennan had no problem snatching me up and carrying me away into Nick's mind. I thought I had him figured out with his dark emotionless behavior. But, how very wrong I turned out to be. And that's just one of the reasons I loved The Demon's Lexicon. Sarah's ability to tell a story that twisted and turned me upside down at the last minute. As I've mentioned before, I am very difficult person to trick when it comes to movies and books, but she got me. And, good. Of course I won't say any more on that aspect since I refuse to give the least bit of information away.

I'm a huge fan of Young Adult Urban Fantasy so I had high expectations of the Demon's Lexicon, especially with that beautiful creature on the cover, and in no way was I disappointed. There is so much I can say about this story, the wicked and dark world, the characters who you know and trust only to discover they too have secrets, ultimately though you just plain need to read this book if you're a fan of any kind of fantasy. And better yet, it's the first in a trilogy. Be still my heart. There is nothing sweeter than a kick ass series.

To read more about The Demon's Lexicon and Sarah Rees Brennan herself click here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Second time is a charm?

Last night I hit 18k in my WIP, so that on its own is enough to make me smile, but I also realized how much more on track I am this time around. It's one of those things that you have to see to believe. Since I started blogging and following the whole world of writing I've heard it repeated over and over again how writers pushed their first novel aside when they had the agent door slammed in their face. Like most newbies I thought this wouldn't happen to me, my book was going to be one of those rare stories of success. Um, no. I was clearly wrong about that. I am not one of those uber talented lucky writers who wrote a best seller with my first book. Far from it.

While I did make some great progress on my query journey I decided to quit while I was ahead and start new instead of sending any more queries. I quit at about 80 since my request ratio wasn't nearly a good as it should have been and I had rejections on two fulls. But I did learn from it and I got feedback that has helped me tremendously in revising my first book and starting my second. I'm in awe of how much I've learned in a year so I've decided to take that knowledge and put it to good use with a brand spanking new story that's free of all my beginner mistakes. That's the plan at least. I had some doubts this week but a friend of mine (Sara!) set me straight and assured me what she has read so far is spot on. And since I trust her I'm going to leave the beginning alone for now and keep blasting away.

I have two writing buddies that have proven the theory of the second book to be true with hugh request rates and already I see how much smoother it is. The title came to me right away, the hook was immediately clear, I found photos of my characters without any trouble. So I'm curious about what the rest of you out there have experienced. Anyone else suffer the delusional new writer syndrome? Any advice for the second time around, or maybe the third or fourth or fifth?

Now, off to write...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Kicking my goals ass and the VMAs

Wooohooo! I just hit 15,000 words in my new WIP (Let the City Burn) a few minutes ago. For someone who works in segments to meet a word count, I am truly pleased with my progress tonight. Ahhh, I can rest easily knowing I have one big milestone down. Especially considering it's going GREAT. Really great. The feedback I have had so far from my favorite beta readers has been fantastic. Yes, gasp, I let them read it before I even did one ounce of editing. I'm just crazy like that. I know it's not the best idea to let anyone read your work (get this, I didn't even run spell check on it before sharing it!) in such a rough state but I am determined to streamline my process this time around. I want to know it's all fitting into place and kicking ass before I put a month of my time into something that will require major revisions. So far this new theory is working well, but I'll keep you informed whether it holds true or not.

I can't wait to introduce you all to Cameron and Skye...get ready to meet one bad ass chick. Best of Skye isn't even the one telling the story. Oh poor Cam, he has no idea what's in store. Is it wrong that I love being inside a fictional boy's head?

P.S. Who else watched the VMAs? WOW in both a good and negative way. To summarize quickly - Kayne was a dick. Pink is far more talented than anyone knew. The New Moon trailer rocked my world. And, Beyonce deserves far more respect than I've been giving her.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Quirks. We've all got them.

Blog chain time! How fun, Icy Roses wants to know what sort of quirks we have when it comes to writing. I've never considered myself quirky, but the more I thought about I guess I am. Check out my list below to see what I mean.

  • I have to check my email and blog list before I can start writing. This is both practical and a time waster since I get to knock that one task down before moving on to my writing mode, but I get sucked into responding and reading instead of the actual act of writing. I've learned to just stop feeling guilty for doing this so now I can embrace it as a quirk.
  • I can't lose myself in other books when I'm writing my first draft. It's like my head can't allow all that in while my mind is busy concocting my own story.
  • I always talk about writing some place besides home but never do it. Part of my issue is that I am always home with my son and always busy when he can be watched. Now I'm wondering if this too is a quirk. Am I a homebody writer? Hmmm.
  • Having the TV on helps me write. I do better with it on low in the background than I do even with music! It's odd because I'm not really a TV watcher aside from the one time when I should have peace and quiet.
  • I have a list of ideas that would make for amazing and very marketable YA novels, yet I start them and can't move past the first few pages unless they have a fantasy element. How silly is that? I'm hoping I can go back to them after I get all these urban fantasies written because they would be fabulous books.

So that's all I can think of now but I'm certain there are more just waiting to be discovered. I'm not so sure that's a good thing. Go visit the other great blogs in the chain to see what sort of quirks they have. From Elysium, Somewhere Nowhere In My Kingdom, Flames and Shadows, Girl With a Notebook

And ladies for next week here's the schedule. (sorry for any repeats I threw this together fast!)Monday: Girl With a Notebook Tuesday: From Elysium Wednesday: Sometimes Nonsense Thursday: Somewhere Nowhere In My Kingdom Friday: Flames and Shadows

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fallenarchangel.com Revealed!

I've made it no secret how much I adore Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick so since my secret project has everything to do with her I thought I'd use her own words from her blog post today to reveal my news. (and yes, I am obviously the Rebecca she is mentioning!)

Speaking of HUSH, HUSH news...the book has a fansite! Rebecca and Jenn, two sisters who read the ARC, loved the story enough that they wanted to start a fansite. I'm so amazed and impressed and flattered. Thank you, Jenn and Rebecca! Everyone is welcome to join, and since there is a forum, I'm planning on dropping by as often as I can to talk about the book and answer questions. But enough from me. Here's the site: www.fallenarchangel.com (love that name, btw). I've been watching the Patch and Nora thread with interest, because people are posting pictures of actors they envision playing the characters, and there are some goooood ones. Yum.

I know it might seem a bit strange for a grown woman who is an aspiring writer herself to be running a fansite with her sister for someone else's book, but if you've had the good fortune to read Hush, Hush you understand why. It's just that good. And Becca is incredibly sweet, (obviously super talented) approachable and supportive.

I've visited other fansites here and there but never really got all that into forums or anything but after finishing Hush, Hush and loving it so much, I realized how cool of an experience it would be to create a way to connect with other fans and support such a great debut author, so I suggested the idea to my sister. A month later Fallenarchangel.com was born! Jenn is of course the brains behind the site and forum setup of which I think she did a spectacular job. YAY Jenn!

We just went live this week and already we have fans who have joined from all over the globe, California, Brazil and Australia. How cool is that? Like Becca mentioned there's some awesome pics already up of how we see the fabulous Nora and Patch. And best of all Becca is going to be popping in to answer questions and join in on the threads. See how great she is?

So, that's the big secret project I've been working on and now that it's out there I can get serious about getting more chapters in my own WIP and having fun meeting the new fans joining the site and chatting about Hush, Hush. The crazy thing is we still have a month until the actual book is released so it's only going to get more exciting. I didn't intend for this to be a shameless plug for our site I'm just super excited to share the news and wanted to share it with all of you who I know have read the ARC. We even have a contest with prizes that include items Becca has signed, t-shirts and more.

Ahh, I feel better getting my secret out...my name is Rebecca and I'm a writer, a blogger and a fansite administrator. ; )

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Howdy partner!

(Sorry about the pic quality - taken with my phone.)

So, we live in the country according to most folks but going to the county fair is always a reminder of how not country we are. I won't get into the ugly truth about how frightening some of the fellow fair goers were, just try to imagine for yourself, then multiply that by like a hundred. We're talking Diet Coke in a 1-year-old baby's bottle type here. Once you move past that aspect there is a lot of fun to be had, including petting giant cows, watching grown men race tractors (the kind you mow your lawn with), eating french fries and funnel cakes, throwing ping pongs to win a gold fish, riding the ferris wheel, ahh and this year buying cowboy hats...

Yeah, I'm not exactly the cowgirl type. But watching those girls ripping around on their horses sure makes me feel like a wimp! I have secretly always wished I grew up around horses, but in reality I'm always afraid to walk behind them in fear of getting a kick to the jaw or feeding them a carrot and getting my thumb bit off. OK, so maybe I know enough not to do those things since we had relatives who owned a bunch of horses and ponies when I was growing up. They also had dogs, barn cats (ohh they are super mean kitties!), some sort of pheasant bird things, a baby deer (or fawn if you want to get technical), a turkey at some point and other random creatures - yes, I loved going there.

Back to the hats...

My mom was the one buying the hats for the kids and when Nate came back wearing an extremely large hat, which is actually the same size as his 9-year-old cousin's hat, I was a bit surprised. Turns out that's the one he insisted on having. Not the one that fit him and looked like his cowboy idol Woody from Toy Story. Go figure. Nope, he had to have the big one like his cousins. And really why shouldn't he? He'll grow into it at some point and it sure as heck made him happy. More than happy - thrilled! This picture doesn't do justice to show the joy on that kid's face when he showed us his shiny new GIANT hat.

Being that I am a big nerd my brain came up with this inspirational connection on the ride home.
If you know what you want, go for it. Don't let anyone tell you you have to settle for what fits at the moment, because eventually you will outgrow it. Aim for the biggest goals you see before you because they are out there just waiting to be claimed, if you don't claim them someone else will. Don't be afraid to look up to those who have what you want and work to get what they have. If they can get there so can you. Never be ashamed to be proud of what you have achieved and if someone laughs at you for wanting what you want, laugh with them because they're the silly ones.

Can you imagine I got all this from my son who's a month shy of being two? I learn more from him than just about anyone I know. He just wanted that hat and didn't care what anyone said. If only we could live that way in every aspect of our lives without fear like kids tend to do. Of course there is often some stomping, yelling and tears involved, but still you get the idea. Who knew I'd find the inspiration I need to kick ass on my new book from my son wanting a cowboy hat. Oh yeah, another reason to love the county fair that doesn't involve eating something that's deep fried and coated in powder sugar. Now let's just hope he doesn't get too attached since mommy isn't all that into him rocking a huge white cowboy hat at the grocery store or mall. Like I said we may technically live in the country, but if my child plans on wearing that hat out in public again he better be riding an actual horse or trick or treating. (No offense to anyone who does! Remember I said I've always wished I was horse person!)