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…

PERSEVERANCE.

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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OMG! OMG! OMG!  DIVERGENT IS FINALLY IN STORES!!!

Do you know how long I’ve been waiting to say that about this book?  NOW EVERYONE CAN SHARE IN THE BRILLIANCE THAT IS VERONICA ROTH’S BRAIN! (Only, you know, in a non-creepy, non-brain eating way.)

DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth is a book that makes you think, a book that stays with you long after you finish reading. A book that makes you question:  which faction would YOU choose?

DAUNTLESS—The Brave

CANDOR—The Honest

ERUDITE—The Intellectual/Knowledgeable

AMITY—The Peaceful

ABNEGATION—The Selfless

One of the many things I took away from the book is that while sticking to one virtue might sound simple, ultimately, it’s probably better to branch out a little bit.  So guess what?  I created the DIVERGENT FACTION-OF-THE-WEEK CHALLENGE, where some of my writer friends and I are going to take on all five of them!

THE CHALLENGE:

Every Monday for the next 5 weeks, I’ll announce the faction/virtue of the week. Over the next four days, we’ll be trying to perform at least ONE ACT that embodies that virtue/faction. It doesn’t have to be fancy; just something in everyday life, something we might not usually do.  Then, each Friday, we’ll all blog about our act.

THE GOAL:

TO SPREAD THE DIVERGENT LOVE–and maybe find out a little something about ourselves in the process. Tell your friends, get them involved—the more, the merrier!! If you plan to join us, leave a link in the comments section each week, and I’ll make sure to add them to the bottom of the posts.

And, in honor of the main character Tris’s upbringing, our kick-off virtue is…..

WEEK ONE:  ABNEGATION!

According to the Divergent fansite, Abnegation means:

  1. To refuse or deny oneself (some rights, conveniences, etc.); reject, renounce.
  2. To relinquish, give up

Basically, Veronica says the faction is about selflessness; stripping unnecessary things from life in order to help people forget themselves and do away with vanity, greed, and envy.

So, this week–GO FORTH! Step outside of your “you” zone and perform your selfless act in the wild. If you like, tweet about your trials and tribulations with an #abnegation hashtag. Then, on Friday, blog about your experience and share your Abnegation-ness with the rest of us!

Participants:

Kate Hart

Sarah Enni

Dawn Rae Miller

Jenn Wood

Lori Tays Eastep

Kathy Bradey

Jess Byam

Ashelynn Hetland

Katharine Owens

Dana Alison Levy

Sarah Nicolas

Marilyn Almodovar

Antimony

Kaitlin Ward

Cass

Adam

Nikki Katz

(Pssst! If you haven’t read DIVERGENT yet, you can still join us. Plus, what are you waiting for?  DIVERGENT is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Over at Write Hope, there’s an auction going on, featuring all things Kidlit.  Proceeds go to Save the Children for disaster relief in Japan.

The four wonderful ladies putting this on are all writers: Rachael Harrie, Amanda Milner, Luna and Marieke.

There are tons of writing related goodies up for grabs, including ARCS, signed books, critiques, phone chats with agents, etc.  My lovely agent Taylor Martindale and I donated a package that went up for bids today–a full manuscript and query critique by me, and a full manuscript read by her.  And tomorrow, I’m donating an ARC of the amazing IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Sum, who has graciously volunteered to sign it!

Buying an auction item is the ultimate win/win–you get something great, and your money goes to a good cause!  So, please, stop by Write Hope,  bid on one of the auction items, and avoid a pesky case of buyer’s remorse–so you don’t end up like this  guy:

Baby Got Crab.

 

 

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Interview with author Liz Michalski and Evenfall Giveaway!

Posted by houndrat on Tuesday Mar 29, 2011 Under contests, dogs, Ridgebacks, writing

I’m so excited to share an interview with debut author Liz Michalski, whose adult novel EVENFALL just recently hit stores!.  Read through the interview, then comment to win a free copy of Liz’s book!

Here’s the EVENFALL cover:

Isn’t it gorgeous?  And here’s the book description:

In life, Frank could’ve had any woman he wanted.

In death, he’ll try to win back the one that mattered…

Frank Wildermuth always regretted a mistake he made as a teenager: choosing Clara Murphy over her sister Gert. And like a true Murphy woman, Gert got on with her life, never admitting to heartbreak. Not even now, decades later, with Frank dead-dead, that is, but not quite gone. Now, Frank’s niece, Andie Murphy, is back in town to settle his estate, and she sees that things have changed in Hartman, Connecticut. Aunt Gert still drives her crazy, but Cort, the wide-eyed farmboy she used to babysit, is all grown up-with a whole new definition for the word “sleepover.” Even freakier are the whispers. Either Andie’s losing her mind, or something she can’t see is calling out to her-something that insists on putting right the past.

Now for the interview!

D:  Evenfall is written from three points of view:  Aunt Gert’s, Andie’s, and Frank. Did you know going into this story that you’d be using multiple perspectives, and can you tell us some of the difficulties associated with that?

L:  I knew early on that Frank would tell his story in the first person but that he wasn’t omniscient — there were too many gaps in the way his story came to me for him to ‘know’ everything.  Originally I had Gert in first person as well, but her voice was so strong that way I felt it would take over the book and overpower everyone else.  With Gert in third person, it made sense to have Andie tell her story from that perspective too.

The most difficult part, for me, was choosing which characters to leave out.  I toyed with having two other perspectives in the book — that of Clara and Cort –  but I felt five would be too unwieldy for me to manage.  Since Clara’s choices truly influence the arc of the book, I tried hard to let her tell her story through the other characters, and to make her sympathetic through them as well.

D:  Was Evenfall your first book, or do you have some hiding in the trunk, clamoring to get out?

L:  In my twenties I did write another novel.  I sent it out to one agent, who rejected it with a very nice personalized note.  I put it away after that.  : )  I think, looking back, that it really never would have found a home, but it was a very good learning experience.

D:  A ghost plays a prominent role in your novel. Do you believe in ghosts?

L:  I would like very much to believe in ghosts, especially benevolent ghosts like Frank.  I have had very, very vivid dreams featuring people I love who have passed on, and would like to believe that they aren’t only the product of my subconscious, but am not quite convinced.

D:  Since you know I’m a dog nut, you won’t be surprised that I glomped onto the dog in your story, Nina.  Did you base Nina on characteristics of your own dogs?

L:  The story of Nina is actually one of the ‘secret pages’ on my website.  (For people who come to a book reading or send me a picture of themselves with my book, I’m giving out codes that let them access those pages and learn more about the backstory of Evenfall.)   But all of my dogs have been big-hearted, protective beasts.

D:  Name the naughtiest thing one of your own dogs has done:

L:  Oh, the list is long and illustrious, and I’m not sure there can be just one thing. (Debra:  I know the feeling) It has to be a toss-up between the time one dog concussed me (accidentally, of course) and the time the same dog decided that a horse counted as ‘big game’ and attempted to take said horse down by the neck.  The counter-surfing incidents in which they ate entire cakes, loaves of bread, a 120 count bag of Dum-Dum lollipops (just the wrapper and candy — they spit out the sticks) and an entire bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken aren’t even in the same league.

(While Liz didn’t have photos of her dogs caught in the act, I just happened to have a few of my Fergie–aka: The Ferganator.  In honor of naughty dogs everywhere):

Sprinklers Taste Just Like Chicken

So do toothbrushes.....

What this backyard needs is more cardboard pieces....

D:  Nina seems to have an awareness of what’s going on above-and-beyond what many would attribute to a dog. Do you believe dogs understand and sense more than we realize?  Do you have any personal examples?

L:  I do believe dogs are often more aware than we give them credit for.  My current pup, Harley, is particularly sensitive to moods.  There have been times when I’ve found him sticking especially close to me, and when I’ve thought about it I’ve realized I’m particularly stressed that day.

Harley kicking up his heels

Another dog I had loved absolutely everyone, and barked maybe 10 times in his life.  I was hiking in the woods one day with my daughter and that dog, who had rambled off on his own.  All of a sudden he bounded down from a hill, got directly in front of my daughter and started to growl.  A moment later a very unsavory gentleman emerged from the woods.  He’d been hiking on a separate path and started to cut across the uncleared woods toward us.  When he saw the dog, he immediately got back on his own path and disappeared.

D:  I know you’re writing another book. Can you tell us a bit about it, and also—will there be dogs in that one, too?

L:  My next book is about a family in which in every generation, one daughter is born with the power to make things disappear — to literally wish them away.  Those wishes don’t always work out as planned, however.

Like Evenfall, this book has very strong ties to the natural environment.  And there are dogs — a small furry pack of them.

D:  Describe your ideal writing environment:

L:  My ideal writing environment would have shelves lined with the colorful  Waldorf toys my children are outgrowing, and maybe a few fish bowls with beta fish in them.  It would have white walls, but plum, hydrangea blue, raspberry, and canary yellow chairs and throw pillows, and a beautiful pine desk.

My most productive writing environment is an unheated beach cottage with no television and no internet connection and no phone.  I go there in March, when it is still quite chilly, and walk in the morning to warm up.  Then I write for four hours, break for lunch and short walk, write for a few more hours, go for a run, eat, edit,  and go to bed.

D:  Sweet or salty treats?

L:  BOTH!  Popcorn with dark chocolate, or a Snickers bar.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog!

Author Liz Michalski, photo by Elizabeth Sullivan Photography

And thank you, Liz, for stopping by!

Remember—comment to win a copy of her fabulous book! Share your favorite pet or ghost story, if you have one (but not necessary to win). Winner will be chosen this Friday, April 1st, at noon PST.

 

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This weekend, I was lucky enough to attend writer friend slash YA Highway girl Kirsten Hubbard’s Like Mandarin book launch in La Jolla.  Such an awesome gathering, complete with homemade iced cookies that looked like cowboy hats and Jackalope cut-outs decorating the walls. Kirsten even sported a Jackalope dress she ordered just for the occasion.

Also, I got to hang with a bunch of my fave local YA writers:

So of course I wanted to participate in the Total Non-Blogfest blogfest today to support Kirsten! In the beginning of Like Mandarin, MC Grace would have given anything to be like exotic, wild girl Mandarin.

And when I was in high school?  I was like this (the blond sitting in front):

BUT


 

 

Yes, I was the kid who desperately wanted to be a rebel, but was too terrified to try.  So I lived vicariously through those who did. And who symbolized rebellion better than Madonna in her early days, wearing whatever bits of ratty clothing she could throw together, writhing around on the ground in a wedding dress and thumbing her nose at the idea of being “proper,” and generally giving conservative adults everywhere heart attacks?

So, I would have given anything to be THAT girl in high school:  confident, unconventional, and completely unconcerned about what others thought of me.

It’s  okay, though. I’m still a work in progress.  (Also, in the interest of complete disclosure, I could not have dealt with Madonna’s hairy armpit phase AT ALL. I have this neurosis about freshly shaven pits. And enough with the over-share.)

Go, buy Like Mandarin, if you haven’t already!

Must. Have.

Oh, and I’M GIVING AWAY AN EXTRA SIGNED COPY of Like Mandarin that I bought at the launch, just for the occasion! Simply tell me in the comments who YOU would have given anything to be like in high school (or WOULD give anything to be like, if you’re still in high school) and I’ll select a winner.  Contest ends at noon this Friday, March 18th.

 

 

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And the (very, very belated) winner (one day I promise to do these things on time) of the Where She Went ARC (but maybe it just makes you savor the anticipation even more) by Gayle Forman (or probably you find it utterly annoying. I’ll shut up now) is…..

ALEEZA!

Yay!  Please email me at houndrat at yahoo dot com to claim your ARC, WOOT!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Now for a quick announcement!  Do you see that Goodreads button on the right?  Do you?  That actually LEADS TO MY BOOK!  Yes, I realize it’s still titled Book One, but still—IT’S MY BOOK! SQUEEEEEEEEEEE!

I can’t tell you how thrilling it is to see my name next to that poor, empty rectangle featuring that poor non-title.  Even the tiniest thing makes my book deal feel a little more real, you know?  Some day, I might actually be 100% convinced that’s it’s going to happen.

Anyway, I planned to follow up that announcement by blogging about Important Things. Except, the only Important Things I can think about at the moment are asiago bagels and where I can find a sparkle cowboy hat for Kirsten Hubbard’s book release this weekend.  (if you know, please tell me…I’m flailing here. FLAILING.)  But it’s kind of hard to carry an entire blog post with those topics.  Okay, that’s a lie. I could totally carry an entire blog post about those topics…it just wouldn’t be one you’d want to read.

So instead, I decided to embrace the easy path and give away another ARC instead. YAY!

This one is Chime by Franny Billingsley, which earned a starred review from Booklist. If you enjoy dark fantasy, this is your kind of book!  Here’s the blurb:

Before Briony’s stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family’s hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it’s become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.

Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He’s as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she’s extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn’t know.

And here’s the cover, which I totally love:

To win, follow me on Twitter, and leave a comment telling me which power you would want the most if you were a witch.  Personally, I’m kind of a fan of the classic turning someone into a newt.  Or maybe a banana slug.  Seriously, how entertaining would that be? Well, as long as you could change them back.

I Need This Sign.

Contest ends this Friday at noon, PST and I will TRY MY BEST to notify the winner that same day.  Feel free to poke me in the comments if I forget!  GOOD LUCK!

 

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Blog Tour with Jen K. Blom and Possum Summer!

Posted by houndrat on Friday Mar 4, 2011 Under dogs, Ridgebacks, writing, Young Adult

Blog Tour! Blog Tour!

My friend Jen K. Blom’s debut comes out this month, a Middle Grade book called Possum Summer. It sounds EXACTLY like the type of book I gobbled up as a young girl, a book I can’t wait to share it with my son. Orphaned possums being hidden in rooms? A little girl who despises her name–Princess–and insists on going by P? Awesome, right?

So, in order to spread the word about Jen’s fabulous book, she’s going to answer some questions below and, in turn, Princess–I mean, P–is going to ask me a few questions!

And here we go….

Welcome to the POSSUMS ARE AWESOME blog tour for the middle-grade book, POSSUM SUMMER, coming out THIS MONTH HOLY COW! (Have you preordered yet?)

Debra has allowed me to steal a day on her blog for my little blog tour … and of course P is with me. It seems I can’t shake her. So I must say thanks first to D, and then onward and upward!

First off, a little about the book:

a lonely kid.

an orphaned baby possum.

a dad that says no way.

how do you keep that kind of secret?

and what happens when you’re found out?

Here we go!

DD: I’m fascinated to see if other writers are as scatter-brained as me, so I’d like to know if you write scenes out of order or in order and why?

JKB: Well, I am scatter-brained. Or maybe it’s baby-brained? That being said, I write in order. Each scene normally creates the next and adds layers I couldn’t get by writing this and that scene out of order. And usually I have a couple that I look forward to writing so much that I use them as candy for when I’m half-way through and thinking that the book is bunk.

DD: If you could be one animal, which would you choose and why?

JKB: HM. I think I would like to be … an earthworm. Sometimes all this higher-brained claptrap and thinking and introspection just doesn’t work for me. Wouldn’t it be nice to simply eat your way through your world, being able to regenerate yourself whenever you got cut in two, happily squiggling through whatever came your way? (Except for rain. That would be a bad part. Oh, and birds. Hmmm. It seems I need a rethink.) Unless earthworms also have higher-brained claptrap and thinking and introspection. In that case, I think I’d rather just be water or something.

DD: Since I lived in Oklahoma for a few years, I’m dying to know why you chose it for POSSUM SUMMER’s setting?

JKB: Oklahoma is a beautiful place. It doesn’t get enough appreciation, really. Anyone who didn’t grow up there really looks at me oddly when I say that. The flatness has its appeal, the animals, the climate, the … most everything. It was the perfect place to make POSSUM SUMMER happen, because it quite simply was the only place I envisioned making it happen.

Princess: Oklahoma is THE BEST. You lived there, you know it!

JKB: P, this is Miss Deb. Deb, this is P.

P: Hello, Miss Deb! How are you? What do you like to eat, since you were once in Oklahoma?

DD: Anything with sugar in it. Seriously. I guess if I had to pick ONE thing, it would be … really good, warm, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

P: OH CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES. Those sound so good! I agree. You can’t go wrong with cookies! Well, what do you like to do? You know, for fun?

DD: Dancing really badly to hip hop music.

P: That sounds so funny! My sister Mon can’t dance for nothing, either. Realy embarrassing, lemme tell you. Well, tell me something really funny about you!

DD: Hmmm…how about that I got sent to the principal’s office in 4th grade for jumping like a frog across the desks the second the teacher left the room? =D

P: See? SEEEEE??? Finally! A grown up that says what really happened when they were a kid? To hear my dad talk he was born and then was twenty years old! In honor of you as a 4th grader, I drew you as this:


P: I think that because you’re so quick and spry – and you jump across desks so well, ha ha ha! – you’re most definitely a jackrabbit! I love them and their big ears. The dogs never can catch them, and Jen says you have some beautiful dogs. Why, I’m looking for a dog —


**scuffle**

JKB: Thanks, man, for having me by! I appreciate it!

Jen K. Blom writes about animals, the land, and kids, not necessarily in that order. Her debut, POSSUM SUMMER, is available March 2011.


Just the thing to give to a kid to start their summer of reading off right! (Available from your local indie, Amazon,Barnes & Noble, Borders, or Book Depository!)

Seen the book trailer yet?


Want more POSSUMS ARE AWESOME blog tour tidbits? Go here and knock yourself out!

Thanks so much for joining us, Jen–can’t wait for your book to come out! (Also, depending on the day, I’d be more than happy to hand my dogs over to P. Beautiful is as beautiful does. *glares at shredded cushions patio cushions*)

Mess? What mess?

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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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I have a special announcement to make. For the first time, ever, in my entire life, I’m writing a novel based on an outline.

That’s right. An outline. Something that implies organization. Pre-planning. Vision. Or perhaps more terrifyingly, something that DOES not imply pantsing my entire way through three-hundred plus pages.

No, I don’t have a fever. (Unless you’re talking about Bieber Fever, and that was totally forced upon me by Stephanie Kuehn and her Write Night avatars of death. You might be happy to know that I’ve posted so much in my private writing forum—like the kind I talk about here—that I’ve bypassed the Mr. Never Say Never avi in favor of that dude who asked his date if she likes daggers.)

Wait, what were we talking about again? Oh, right: outlines. So, I’m working from an outline. And I’m super excited. I’m super excited, until I sit down at the computer, poise my fingers over the keyboard, and realize…holy crap, I’M WRITING FROM AN OUTLINE.  That means writing my scenes in order. Or at least, I’m telling myself it does. I mean, it’s probably sacrilegious to write out of order when you have the map to your entire book right there, flashing you with those big, professional-looking chapter headings.

But I can do this. I can write my scenes in order. So, I sit down at my computer again, poise my fingers over the keyboard, and realize…holy crap, I’M WRITING ABOUT A REAL PLACE THIS TIME, not a fictional town that exists only in my brain. A fictional town where any detail I provided was exactly correct because I got to make that junk up as I went.

In fact, the very first scene takes place in a real establishment, which takes place in a real city. Cool…all except the part where I’ve never been to this particular establishment before. This could present a slight problem. What if I say the wallpaper is purple with orange Ho-Hos, when really it’s pink with lime green Twinkies?  The last thing I want to do is anger the locals because I jacked up their wallpaper in my book (though, if Neon Hostess is the wallpaper of choice there, I really think they need to direct their energy elsewhere).

How do all you writers who write about real places do it?  Do you own private Jets?  Possess super spy skills?  Have lots and lots of friends with cameras?

I will figure this out. Eventually. In the meantime, I have the oddest craving for brightly colored snack foods. Sno balls, anyone?

Yum?

And also–I posted this on facebook the other day, but it makes me smile, so I’m posting it here, too.  I often type while on the bed, and this is what Fergie and Skye do next to me:

Snuggle Buddies

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Don’t Speak: On Writers and Angst and How to Deal

Posted by houndrat on Saturday Feb 19, 2011 Under writing, Young Adult

Is it just me, or does a ton of publishing advice lately seem to revolve around telling writers to glue their tongues to the roofs of their mouths? Rules. Everywhere you look, more and more rules. But these rules aren’t about writing—at least, not as it pertains to drafting novels. They’re more a list of what writers SHOULDN’T write about on the internet. A list of writer DON’Ts. Such as:

DON’T talk about the querying process
DON’T talk about the submission process
DON’T talk about agents
DON’T talk about books unless you LOVE them
DON’T talk about anything negative
DON’T talk
DON’T talk
DON’T talk

Zip it!

This might sound easy, simple, cake-esque. The truth is, it’s not. Not at all.
Personally, I think it’s unfortunate that we have this mindset, that talking about anything other than successes or double rainbows is taboo.

For one:

There are a lot of misconceptions out there regarding parts of the publishing process, especially if we’re talking about going on submission to editors. Which makes sense, given how we’re lectured up and down that what happens on sub, stays in Vegas. Or, yanno. But for me, this policy is problematic. It’s problematic, because new authors going on sub for the first time only hear about the huge success stories—you know the ones, about the books that went to auction after, like, two minutes—and have NO CLUE about the more common stories. The ones where it takes weeks, months, years, even a second or third or fifth book to sell. And, if we writers follow The Rules, we have no way of accessing that information. Because we aren’t allowed to take about it. See the problem yet? (for an amazing post by a writer who shared her submission journey, go to Natalie Whipple’s blog)

For two:

Us writers? We’re angsty creatures by nature. We can angst over things that most people wouldn’t bother devoting even an eighth of a brain cell to. Things like, “I can’t tell if my agent was mad at me in that last email—she didn’t use any <3’s this time,” or “I just lost a follower on twitter. One! Whole! Follower! WHAT DOES IT MEAN?” or “OMG, did you see that another YA contemporary set on the planet EARTH sold on PM? That’s right—EARTH, just like mine! My novel is doomed!”

Bottling up this angst? Not good. Not good at all. Not unless we want to trigger our own Writerpocalypse, which, while potentially far more colorful than the Snowpocalypse, would also involve a whole lot more clean-up. And bleach.

I’ll be honest. Even WRITING this post makes me a little angsty. I worry I’ll be labeled a troublemaker or a complainer or that-writer-who-used-the-word-angst-way-too-many-times-in-one-post. No, honestly, that’s just how it feels. Like once you decide to become a writer, you’d better run and sign up for a daily sunshine enema, because God forbid you ever mention you’re experiencing any of those less-than-perfect feelings writers naturally feel once they get serious about…writing.

On a more serious note, I get that writers should be cautious online, and that no one wants to hear a constant stream of negativity. But at the same time, no one wants to feel like they’re being smothered, either, or as a writer friend recently said, “sanitized.” Or rendered voice-less. Writing is a socially isolating endeavor, and that leaves writers at a higher risk of certain health issues already. So angsting suffering in silence may not be the wisest solution.

My suggestion, and one that I hope satisfies both sides? Form a safe haven for yourself, a place where you can discuss the anxiety-ridden parts of being a writer without worrying about repercussions. I’ve actually created a list of “Writer Dos” to replace those “Writer Don’ts” because personally, I find “Dos” much more palatable.

DO group up with other writers, some of whom are at the same place in their publishing careers as you.
DO form a private discussion group (such as Google Groups), email list, or forum (such as invisionfree or forumotion.
DO make sure everyone knows the new forum and its contents are to remain PRIVATE, at the penalty of offenders having their Macs replaced with manual typewriters.
DO use that group to angst as needed. Vent and moan and groan all you want about querying and subbing and who wrote the most ridiculous book ever, and why, oh why, can’t people STOP writing contemporaries set on YOUR PLANET until your book sells?
DO read all the information you can on what different publishing professionals say about online protocol. Read it, and then come to your own conclusions.

And if reaching out to other writers and honestly voicing my opinion here makes me a complainer? You know what? I can live with that.

Also, just because:

needs ketchup!

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