I decided to make a little vlog starring my MILA 2.0 ARCs…since, you know, sanity is obviously completely out of reach for me this summer.

*blows kisses as it floats away on the horizon*

Happy Friday, all!

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Let’s kick off Wednesday with a cover reveal—fellow Apocalypsie Leanna Renee Hieber just got her cover. Isn’t is AWESOME???

YAY Leanna–can’t wait until it comes out!

Next–let’s finish the post by tagging along with YA Highway on Road Trip Wednesday! This week’s question is:

If you could have any celebrity read the audio version of your WIP or favorite book, who would it be?

My books: For Demon Guard, I think it would be Kristen Bell. Summer just has this sort of chip on her shoulder, and it often comes out via snark.  I think the voice of Veronica Mars would be perfect.

MILA…wow, that’s a tough one. It’s a totally different book.  In my head, I hear someone a little more precise in her speaking, someone a little less humorous.  And even though Blair Waldorf is nothing at all like my MC, I think Leighton Meester’s voice could really suit the story.

Favorite books: You know, I think I’d listen to Chris Hemsworth narrate just about anything. *sighs*

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I’m curious—what do you think is the biggest key to getting published?  Talent?  Timing?  Luck?

Early on, I probably would have said talent.  I mean, it makes sense, right? You write a good book, you get published. Simple.

Except…that’s where timing comes in.  Because as most struggling writers know by now, you can write a good book, but if your timing is off, you still might not get published.  For example—you might have recently written a vampire book. And your vampire book might be darn good. But, the timing is such that vampire books are a tough sell these days, especially those featuring bloodsuckers of the sparkly variety. So yes, bad timing can definitely throw a bump in the road to publication. Or even a mountain.

As for luck, well…I think it’s basically just a matter of talent and timing coming together. Like, you might call it lucky if you happened to write a fabulous dystopian book and got it on sub at the very beginning of the big dystopian craze.

And while I still think all of these things are important, I’m going to argue that a fourth quality crushes the first three when it comes to predicting who will get published and who won’t.  And that quality is…


Nobody ever said perseverance was easy...

Yep, good old-fashioned stick-with-it-ness.  Think about it.

The more you write, the better your writing gets, and the more likely you are to write an outstanding book.  And not only your writing improves; your craft improves—things like your ability to plot, to up the stakes, to create three-dimensional characters. Also, the longer you write, the more likely you are to eventually hit that perfect timing.

What this boils down to?  Basically, if you keep writing, you radically increase your chances of getting published.

But don’t just take my word for it. Every Tuesday for the next several weeks, read the stories of many Apocalypsies—debut 2012 YA and MG writers—who did not just whip out their very first books and get publishing contracts on the spot.. No, these authors ended up with publishing deals because of their perseverance.  Hopefully, they will inspire you and remind you that, no matter how many rejections come your way, there is one key element to being a successful writer that trumps all the others:  You Never, EVER Give Up.

Kicking off the series is the amazing Jennifer Rush, whose YA book ALTERED debuts from Little, Brown in Fall 2012:

Author Jenn Rush

I’ve been writing my entire life. I wrote my first book in the fourth grade for one of the young author’s contests and won second place. My prize was a Mickey Mouse pencil. I was hooked. That was 1993. Fast forward twelve years. I sent out my first official query letter in 2005-2006. It was for a contemporary YA called Sherbet Skies. I got a lot of great feedback from agents and editors, but no offers. I felt like I was moving in the right direction. So I worked on something new. That book bombed with beta readers. I cried ate a lot of chocolate. Nearly two years after Sherbet Skies, I finally went out with something new—a paranormal YA called Possession.

My request rate was good. Partials were turning into fulls. This was it!

But then it wasn’t.

Just one more book, I told myself. I’m this close. Writer friends were landing agents and getting book deals. My turn was coming. But then I had a baby. And my husband went back to school full-time. Unsurprisingly, writing got pushed to the back burner, which was probably for the best. Looking back, I know I wasn’t ready. I still cringe when I read Sherbet Skies. And Possession had its hokey plot moments. I’m so very glad they weren’t published, but at the time, I was devastated.

Spring of 2010, when my daughter was a year old, the writing bug hit again. I wrote a younger YA I called The Loom and when the rough draft was completed, I set it aside for the recommended couple of weeks. I had planned on taking a writing break while that book sat, but I couldn’t stay away from the computer. So I started playing around with some ideas. And suddenly this book—this new kickass book!—consumed me. I wrote like crazy. I lived, breathed, dreamed New Book. I finished the rough draft in six or seven weeks. I took another six weeks for revisions. And finally, in October, I sent ALTERED out into the world.

That first week, I received five requests. All the partial requests turned into full requests. And my agent, Joanna, read and offered rep within two days. A part of me couldn’t believe it. To have an agent read that fast and offer representation after so many years seemed like a dream. Like if I poked it too hard it’d pop.

I accepted Joanna’s offer that following week and we immediately started revisions. Because of the holidays, we waited to submit to editors. Altered went out January 17th and we had our first offer February 11th.

It took five years and fourteen books to get an agent. And only a few months to get a book deal. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe I’d survived the journey! What if I would have given up after the first book? Or the fifth? Or the thirteenth? That’s why you can’t quit. Ever. If you love it enough, if you can’t imagine doing anything else with your life, keep writing. Or making music. Or whittling wood. Whatever your talent/passion is!

Because you never know when this close will turn into a YES.


Thanks so much, Jenn, for sharing your story! If you get a chance, check out Jenn’s blog and her amazing book ALTERED (Dollhouse meets Prison Break? I’m all over it!)  Make sure to tune in next week, when another Apocalypsie will share her inspirational road to publication tale!

And remember, no matter what you do:  Don’t. Give. Up.


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Read this book.

Okay, so I’m one week late with the next ARC Giveaway. In Debra-time, that’s impressively close to the target date, so we’ll roll with it.

I’m typing this up at the total last minute while my 3-yr-old pretends I’m a jungle gym, so please excuse me for brevity. Or mistakes. Or when you see OUCH! pop up in random spots.

Where She Went is Gayle Forman’s eagerly awaited follow-up to If I Stay, and I have to say, I think I loved it even more than the first one.  This book is from Adam’s perspective, and Adam is broken. And there’s nothing I like better than a broken male character.

Wow, that makes me sound like a crazy, warped man-hater. When really I’m just warped.

Anyway, it’s written in the author’s powerful prose, and like her first one, alternates between real time and flashbacks, with just a touch of magical realism.  Plus, it’s full of angry break-up songs, which made me think of Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill album, and that’s always a good thing.

Angst angst angst

Okay, now I just need a contest.  How about…in the comments, tell me you at least went and READ Maureen Johnson’s The Last Little Shelterbox fundraising post about helping disaster victims in New Zealand.  I won’t ask if you donated or not but if you do, well, know that you are awesome and entitled to be addressed as Mr. or Ms. Awesomesauce for the remainder of the week.

Contest will close Tuesday at noon, PST.

And because it amuses me, here are a few keyword searches that led people to my blog recently:

“BREAST RASH PHOTOS”—Because nothing says Quality Writer’s Blog like a few solid posts on breast rash.  Hmmmm.

“BRI SUE FIRST NAKED”—Obviously someone with ADD who got distracted from legal matters by more pressing needs

“BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER FUR COAT”—Anytime I get a Buffy search, I’m stoked. Even if I’m now picturing a black fur coat with a massive picture of Buffy wielding a giant stake painted on it. In blood. Remeber that warped part?

“MY ASS BEAUTY”—For those in search of total body sparkle.

“PENIS”—Nice. Simple. I like it.

“ SAHM PICTURE OF A NASTY HOUSE”—Finally, a legit reason to come to my blog!

Anyway, GO!  COMMENT!  WIN!  And…try not to search “my ass beauty.”  Please.

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Top Ten Reasons Why Revisions are Better than Sex

Posted by houndrat on Friday Oct 30, 2009 Under procrastination, writing

As some of you may know, I’m eyebrow-deep in revisions right now for Demon Guard, with serious hopes of finishing the main stuff before NaNo starts.? So, in the interest of procrastinating whipping my muse into shape, I’ve come up with a little blog post.? It’s a list of the Top Ten Reasons Why Revisions are Better than Sex.? Feel free to add your reasons as well, and procrastinate whip your muse right along with me.? Giddy-up!

10.? You don’t have to get naked to do revisions (Although, you can if you want–just be sure to switch your webcam off first.)

9.? Your revisions don’t care if you pause in the middle of the action to check out Glee or Gossip Girl.? I mean, it’s Chuck Bass!

8.? Performing revisions in your favorite coffee shop will not result in you being booted, arrested, or getting latte with extra froth in unmentionable places.

7.? The satisfaction of a good revision won’t wear off in, say, five minutes.

6.? You won’t feel bad about eating that extra piece of chocolate cake before jumping into revisions.

5.? Your children can be present during revisions without fear of scarring them for life.

4.? Multiple partners can help with your revisions—and you won’t be labeled kinky.

3.? You can curse your revisions with as many creative obscenities as you like, and it still won’t affect your chances of getting lucky with them.

2.? The only way revisions will result in an expanding belly is if you pig out on Haagen Dazs Dulce de Leche and In-N-Out burgers while writing.

1.? You never know—the perfect revision may lead to a long-lived and prosperous career.? The perfect sexual encounter?? Not so much.? Unless said career involves thigh-high boots and a tube top.? (Okay, so maybe the second career is more prosperous, but still…..)

Now, quit being so productive and take a moment to name yours!

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Who’s gonna do my to-do list?

Posted by houndrat on Tuesday Mar 4, 2008 Under family life, procrastination, SAHM

I don’t know what’s up today.? I can’t tell if I’m depressed, apathetic, a procrastinator or just plain lazy, but it’s one of those days where nothing is getting accomplished.? You know those? days when you completely lack motivation?? Yeah?? Well, multiply that times one hundred, and you’ll find me.? All I want to do is ignore my ginormous list of to-do’s and take a nice long snooze.

I guess that wouldn’t be such a big deal, if my to-do list didn’t look something? like this:

–clean house (it’s even too dirty for me to tolerate at this point)

–do laundry (because? sometimes after you’ve worn the same outfit for the 5th time or so without washing it, it starts to exude a not-so-daisy-fresh scent)

–put away dishes (one thing I actually do on a regular basis, thank you very much)

–put away laundry (because? in this sick and twisted universe,? my? garmets do not magically march themselves into my closet once I go to all the effort to wash them—lazy bastards)? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

–throw out used diapers (yeah, so that one’s never gonna happen–but it’s still on my list)

–go to grocery store (I feel like I was just there yesterday.? Oh yeah–it’s because I was)

–buy new pots and pans (since hubby tossed all of our old ones into the trash in one fell swoop, and it’s challenging to cook in an empty? Marie Callendar’s pie pan ((although it does make for a nice dog-food dish in a pinch)))

–take care of baby (as if I could forget that one)

–send out resume (So I can try to pick up some weekend hours, with the inadvertent effect of never seeing my husband ever ever again since he commutes 60+ miles each way to work and gets home around bedtime.? Maybe we can leave each other love notes and treat our marriage like? a long-distance romance.)

–find resume first (since we have about ten computers in our home thanks to husband’s predilection for collecting electronic junk, and I have no idea which one it’s stored on)

–Dremel dogs’ nails (so my mom and aunt don’t disown me when they come out to visit and take our Ridgebacks to a dog show–for some reason, AKC judges prefer the dogs nails not to look like eagle talons–imagine that)

–cook dinner (don’t I have to go to the store first?)

–pick up punching bag from the middle of the living room floor (because apparently my husband thinks that’s the dumping grounds for new purchases)

–read parenting books (because my son has gone a little mental in response to our newest family addition, which, in turn, makes me a lot mental)

–clean out:? laundry room, front closet, car, garage bins, my brain

So, what have I accomplished so far today?? Let’s see—looked up stuff on craigslist (not on the list), looked up stuff on ebay (not on the list), emailed some people (not on list) and written this blog (not on list)

Oh, but I am taking care of the baby, so I guess the day’s not a total loss.

? In case you didn’t believe me, about the punching bag:

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more on the messy husband

Posted by houndrat on Tuesday Jan 29, 2008 Under husbands, procrastination

So, when my husband and I argue about who’s messier, he always plays the “you never clean out the garage” card.? I will admit, I don’t do much cleaning in the garage.? In fact, I? rarely? venture into? the garage at all—it’s creepy.?

See, we live next to an uninhabited hilly area.? ? Residing in uninhabited hilly areas are oodles? of rats.? Rats, like the rest of us, ? would rather trade up from their dirty little rat homes and find nicer (yet still dirty) indoor? digs in which to warm their homely little disease-ridden rat bodies during the cold weather.? Oh, and apparently it’s an added bonus if that indoor location has lots of old clothes, cardboard boxes, rotting pinatas and various junk strewn throughout.? Did I mention we have a three-car garage in which to store all this crap?

Anyway, back on topic.? See, when my husband tidies up the garage, he does a pretty good job.? I’ll be the first to admit it.? But—and this is a big one, of J-Lo proportions—should you really get cleaning points when, in tackling one mess, you sort of maneuver half of that mess into a new, more conspicuous spot, and leave it there for weeks on end?? This is the essence of my husband’s cleaning tactics, and one of? the reasons we argue so much about it.? ? I? guess I just really don’t believe that relocating the? disaster site does a ton of good in the long run.? He does.

You be the judge.? Pictured below is? our driveway following one of? hubby’s abbreviated? garage organizing stints.? Of special interest is the fact that he cleaned the garage over a week ago, and the stuff is still moldering away, undoubtedly ticking off any remaining neighbors that were still talking to us up to this point.

The best part of taking these photos, though, is what I noticed in the corner by the garage door.? See those chairs?? Our friends borrowed them for their son’s birthday party—on December 19th.? They returned them—on December 20th.? Basically, those chairs have been sitting there, completely unnoticed by hubby or myself, for over a month now.?

? We make quite a pair, don’t we?

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I’m no mechanic, but…

Posted by houndrat on Wednesday Jan 23, 2008 Under procrastination

…even I can tell the difference between these brake pads.?

This time, we got us a nice shiny new set of calipers to go along with the rotors and brake pads.? The price difference two weeks makes?? ? About $100.? ? Now, don’t get me wrong—I like a nice pair of calipers just as much as the next person, but for that price, I can think of a few other things that might excite me a little more. (Like 1.5 tanks of gas—okay, that’s not much more exciting.? I give up).

In other words?? Procrastination doesn’t pay.

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Procrastinators, Anonymous

Posted by houndrat on Friday Jan 11, 2008 Under procrastination

Hi.? I am a procrastinator.? I admit it.? In fact, I admit it freely.? What’s more, I like to talk about procrastinating.? A? lot.? Why, you ask?? Because talking about the things you procrastinate about is the ultimate procastination.? It’s like procrastination nirvana.

? What kinds of things do we procrastinate about at our house?? I don’t think there’s enough space on the internet to list? them all.? Honestly. But I’ll try to throw out a few.

Some procrastinations are small.? For example, I procrastinate about buying various items at the store.? Toothpaste (yes, friends, that not-so-fresh-breath is sometimes me),? toilet paper (according to my husband, you can cut up used socks and use them instead—a fraternity house secret), and food (hey, we all needed to go on a diet anyway), just for starters.?

Sometimes, the procrastinations are bigger.? Like the fact? that we have yet to get? our daughter? a social security number or a birth certificate.? The midwife told us those in power like this to be done within 3 weeks of the birth.? Alas, our daughter is over 3 months now, and still without a country to call her own.?

This may not seem like a big deal, unless you knew that we had a home birth.? Apparently, if we don’t do this at some point, she will not be considered a citizen of the United States.? What I am wondering is, is it possible to be a citizen of nowhere?? How does that work, exactly?? I mean, I ‘ve heard of dual citizenship, but never no citizenship.

? But I digress (or, you might say, I procrastinate about procrastinating).? We also procrastinate about doing laundry (it saves the environment), replacing brake pads (we’re single-handedly keeping the rotor-making companies in business), and picking up dog poop (it’s free fertilizer, if you leave it long enough).? We didn’t have a crib mattress until our baby was two months old (hey, I needed an organic one, and you actually have to drive further than a mile to get those), and as for cleaning out the refrigerator?? Well, making your own penicillin does have some benefits, I guess.

Why do we procrastinate?? I honestly don’t know.? I mean, it’s not as if I really believe the toilet paper fairy is going to come make a delivery at our home (unless she just made a drop off in our trees—but I’m pretty sure that’s the kid who lives down the street, the little bastard).? And it’s not as if we think our friends are going randomly drop by and say, “Oh, I was just passing through, and thought I would? bring you? a crate of Charmin–it’s so squeezably soft, you know.”? (but friends, if you’re reading this, it’s not a bad idea—especially if you think you might need to use the john).

But the beauty of procrastination is, you can do it anytime, anywhere, anyplace.? In fact, I was able to procrastinate on about a billion projects, just by writing this blog.

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