Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Whatever Wednesdays and a Good Quote

Today I'm not in a ranty mood. Here's how I'm feeling, and if someone finds the emoticon for all these things let me know!

Nervous, because this weekend I'm taking my daughter's troop on a big campout and I'm not what you'd call the woodsy type. The upside? A weekend with dirt, bugs and marginal food. Probably mixed together. Whoa, my brightside-enator wasn't set right. Ummm, okay here goes: it'll be a weekend spending quality time with my daughter in the glorious bosom of Mother Earth.

Tired, because I'm always tired. My children wake at around five every morning but today they wanted to test the capacity of my unconditional love, so they woke up at four-thirty. What a difference half an hour makes! On the upside, more time to run around on the internet. (Does there have to be an upside to everything, Diana? Really??)

Aggravated, because the one-year-old keeps banging on the answering machine even though I'm telling him not to, and due to furniture and complicated child-safety devices it's not something easily unpluggable, which means I can't stick it on top of the bookcase like I do with other noisy items he bangs. I'm ready to yank it out of the wall though. Then he'll scream. Dilemma, dilemma. Is it worth the work of unplugging it, and will the screams bother me more than the banging? (Still working out the upside. Maybe some things just suck).

Happy, because if I tell myself I'm happy I usually start to believe me. Plus, it's another day and, as cheeseball as it sounds, life is good :) 

Lastly, because it's my whatever day, here's something I found that's really great and I wanted to share with you all. It's from Brandon Sanderson's keynote address at the Book Academy conference last week (Brandon Sanderson, fantasy author chosen to complete Rigney's Wheel of Time series in case you're name-challenged like me), and it's called "Ten Things I Had to learn Before I Could Sell a Book." I did not attend the conference, but Angie at Notes From the Writing Chair did and she was kind enough to post about it HERE at her blog. My favorite is number six:

"To begin is human. To finish is divine. To revise is hell. But you have to do it. Great writers are even better revisers."

I also liked numbers 1, 4, 5, and 8... okay, they're all really good. If you get the chance to check out these Ten Things, let us know which points resonate with you the most!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Kate Duffy, editor at Kensington, passed away

I am saddened to see the news on Janet Reid's blog of Kensington editor and publishing powerhouse Kate Duffy's passing, much, much too soon.

Edited to add: Diana Rodriguez Wallach was Kate Duffy's first YA acquisition and she has a lovely post about Kate Duffy, aged 56 at her passing. Check it out HERE on her blog.

When I stumbled onto Lori Foster's message board years ago and saw Kate Duffy's humorous, straightforward approach to questions and comments I knew there was something special about her. This was before everyone had a blog, and seeing an editor make daily contributions on a forum was impactful. I followed that message board for years, always appreciative of her wit and no-nonsense replies to everything from query questions to random swiffer and wax lips commentaries. At the time I tried my hand at historical romance and sent her a partial. Her letter was encouraging, and it didn't have to be. I now write YA in part because of what I learned from her and other editors who were kind enough to give me a little guidance when they had no vested interest in doing so. It's difficult to grasp that I won't "see" her online or at a writer's conference anymore. As Sarah on SBTB said, "She's the Julia Child of romance." See the full tribute to Kate Duffy from SBTB HERE and visit Media Bistro for a video.

Kate Duffy, you will be missed.

Gushing and Bashing Our Own Work

I'm on the first-draft of a new novel, and it's exciting times. 

As tends to happen to me at this stage, everything about the story feels fantastic. This is the most brilliant idea ever! The creativity surges and I type as fast as my fingers let me. My story is constantly on my mind and I want to discuss the concept with a Thinking Human... actually I want to gush about it to people (this doesn't happen because I don't tell people that I write. See HERE if you want the elaboration on that). I also want to show pages (I will regret this later if I do) and I want to write and write and write. 

I will put your minds at ease; this gushing phase will pass. As soon as I get to the end of the book (actually, if I stop the writing process at all and start going over my work), all my insecurities will join forces and stage a counter-attack. The beginning won't be right. This character is completely underdeveloped. That scene is so overdone! What's with all the passive voice? This story isn't ready to be seen. It's a mess! If I foolishly showed anyone pages I will regret it fiercely and hope they haven't gotten to it yet. I have officially gotten over myself and see that the book needs work. Tons of work. I want my story to be the brilliant gem I envisioned, so I get to revising. The honeymoon's over and I cut, promising my story that it's for its own good.

But right now, *deep sigh*, I love my story. I want to take it on long walks by the beach. I want to stay up late into the night, just talking. I want to wake up to blueberry bagels and spend all morning together in our jammies. My story is so dreamy. Right now, just being together is enough. Editing and revising and querying, oh those are future responsibilities... right now we're a couple of crazy kids having a good time, and I can't help but gaze into my story and think, "This time I've found The One!"

Am I the only one with a love-hate relationship when it comes to writing? Or do you love every second of the process? Or suffer for your art? Or have a realistic outlook from page one? How does writing make you feel?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Karate Wisdom and the Path to Success

I lurked again. And on forums where a person like me has no business lurking. Why?, you might ask, Why don't you stay away from the negative side, Diana? It will bring you no good! And I DO stay on the positive blogs and forum threads mostly. I will not be seduced by the dark side, otherwise you know what will happen. I'll have to fight a small green guy and I am really non-confrontational. But this isn't Star Wars wisdom, it's Karate Wisdom. I should be talking about wax-on, wax-off or other overused karate analogies. Thanks to a little seminar by my kids' new karate sensai, however, I have some easy tricks to following the path to success and I don't even have to do sunrise kicks on the beach with Mr. Miyagi.

This knowledge I pass to you from the wisdom of Karate-Dude. While at the new karate place listening to the first-day-of-class intro, Karate-Dude tells the bouncy, energetic four-to-eight year olds that every single one of them can become a black belt. (Really? Some of them are digging for gold or lost in space, but I'm listening). Yes, all of them can, he says, because the path to success is as simple as A-B-C. 

I'll pause here to say that Karate-dude is completely awesome. He has a second degree black belt and five thousand patches all over his karate suit. AND he has, by this point, somehow snagged the attention of about a dozen hyper-jazzed children who have been promised an hour a week of fighting barefoot in what appear to be pajamas. This would scare me, especially watching one crazed boy who keeps standing and sitting like he's ready to bust something, and who eventually yells, "Kiiii-yaaaaaaaah!!!!" right in the middle of Karate-Dude's speech for no reason at all. But Karate-Dude doesn't lose his cool. He tells them that they will all learn to be focus-masters, even crazy-boy. I want to be a focus-master too!

A- Attitude
Yes, attitude is everything. Successful people don't keep saying that to trick everyone. Have a positive attitude, even when it's hard, because it makes the hard times easier to handle and because it'll make it easier to see when good opportunities come your way. Plus, if we have to go through the difficult to attain our goals, we may as well seek out and enjoy whatever positives we find along the way. And here's an interesting point Karate-Dude brought up: sometimes people with negative attitudes feel better about themselves when they bring others down. Surround yourself with positive people and learn to tune out the negative.

B- Believe
Believe in yourself. Sounds simple, but karate-dude said it's one of the hardest things a person can do. It's easier to think, "I doubt I'll ever get such-and-such goal accomplished," than to risk the disappointment of really believing in yourself and your goals. We try to protect ourselves from that yucky feeling of being let-down, but if we don't fully believe in ourselves and in our writing, how can we expect an agent, editor, and ultimately the public to believe in what we write?

C- Concentration
Whoa, I totally thought he was going to say Confidence. But concentration, he said, is the final key to success. Because the right attitude and believing in yourself will not help if you don't focus on your goals and work hard. Set small, attainable goals and stay focused, making sure each small goal you've set leads to your ultimate goal (and once you achieve that ultimate goal, that is the time to set a new ultimate goal and the small attainables that go along with it). For now, concentrate on your writing, even if all you have is an hour a day or an hour a week, that time is about the goal you have set out: to write your story. I also translate that into the old acronym BICHOK, (Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard). It's the only way things can keep moving forward.

Karate dude finished with the "I-Can Blast," a tool to help us stay on the path to success. First, visualize your ultimate goal: to become a real black-belt in karate, (yours can be something different). Then say, "I can!" five times with all the power in your heart.  

Say it every morning, think it throughout the day, follow the A-B-C's and you will be on the path to success.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Book Talk: Give up the Ghost by Megan Crewe

I look forward to my book talks here on the Coaster. In my face-to-face reality it's not as fun talking books because, a) I only have one friend who reads (and I don't even have to quantify that because it's not an exaggeration), b) no one,
and I mean no one in my family or extended family reads either, which leads to, c) if I fall completely in love with a book or author and need to share, the people around me look at me with huge, Precious Moments eyes and say, "Please don't start talking books, Diana." 

But that's a topic for another day. Today I'm excited because I get to share a truly outstanding book! Give up the Ghost by Megan Crewe is a debut novel but the crazy thing is I didn't know it was Ms. Crewe's first book when I read it. After I Googled her up to find links for this Book Talk I was stunned because she writes like someone who should have a backlist a mile long. The dialogue is so natural I could hear it, the characters were so real I felt like I knew them... even the dead people!

Should I do the disclaimer thing each time I do a Book Talk? Okay, in case you haven't read one of my talks before, I'm not so much interested in "reviewing" and giving this-many-stars and summarizing the plot...I just love talking books :)

So what I loved most about Give up the Ghost is the way you fall right into the story and instantly feel like part of Cass' life... like we'd been there since forever. There's no spoiler in revealing how the story starts with Cass chit-chatting with her dead big sis, who has great fashion advice btw, and the best is I didn't feel bogged down by some terrifying, frosty-breathed "I see dead people" reveal. Seeing dead people is awesome! 

Give up the Ghost has such an original take on the ghost-seeing storyline that from the first page it felt like I'd found a new spot in my brain to explore. It is a fast read, I couldn't believe how sadly fast I was getting through the story because I wanted it to last. And it didn't even have a huge romance (usually a prerequisite for me loving a book) but I didn't care! I just hope this isn't the only story we get to read about Cass and her ghostly powers.

The last thing I'll say about Give up the Ghost is that Ms. Crewe did a great job with balancing all the facets of Cass' character, because obviously she's grieving and that's part of her life, but she has to deal with high school drama and her parents AND the dead people (one being a sister who you can't exactly complain to Mom and Dad about), but even when all of that brings out her more sarcastic side, I always liked her. She's interesting and funny and one of those characters I forget is not a person in real life.

Edited to add:
I struggled with how to end this post. A big part of me wants to say, "Read this everyone!! You will a thousand per cent LOVE IT I PROMISE YOU GAAHHHH" but really, reading is so personal I find that a hard statement to make. Thanks to an early comment by Imogen over at Write About What? I got the idea to say this: if you're interested, take approximately three minutes out of your day and go to Amazon with this link HERE and read the first few pages. If you like what you see you will love the rest :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Reasons to Celebrate: Do You Have Any?

It's my weekly warm and fuzzies! Sometimes it'll be harder than others, but in the span of a week there's bound to be something good that happened in our book/writing adventures. And if not, we can always build on the positivity of the people around us, so don't forget to share your happy news too!

Two writing-type things I have to smile about this week: First, thirty-two followers, thanks guys :) :)  and second and most exciting (for me at least), I finished plotting and started writing, and I'm fifty pages into my third novel! Don't be too impressed by the fast word count, it's crazy-rough but when I feel the flow I let it carry me... next week who knows, right?

Thanks to those who shared their great news last week! I'm excited to report that Danni's interview with Christine Feehan (one of her all-time favorite authors) was fabulous at Romantic Harbor... read it HERE. I'm also happy to share Alison's fantastic interview with Jocelynn Drake at The Book Bundle... read that one HERE. I do live vicariously through the joys of others so if you have any good/happy/wonderful news let's hear it! 

Before I go I'll share a tidbit about me that will likely come as no surprise to anyone. I like playing writing games (writing "exercises" on my fancy days). Most of the time I make them up while driving the kids to karate or if I have to do the Terrible Ironing (I may someday blog about the Terrible Ironing but this is supposed to be a POSITIVE blog). The Literary Girls have a fun writing game ("exercise") and you can check it out HERE if you're weird like me. Below you'll find the game-type way I started today's blog, mostly thanks to an Orbitz commercial that came on when I was adding the links (what IS that actor's name again??). I put it at the end because I figure most people will have stopped reading by now and it's very corny, but it's all about having fun! 

Blogger's Log: Day 24

Things seem to be going well since beginning my voyage into cyberspace. I've amassed a crew of thirty-two followers, many of whom are willing to communicate. I also follow others on their journeys and am gaining much insight into strange new worlds. Some of these fellow explorers have banded together in a sort of community and I believe I have been accepted into their society. Others have offered me ritualistic awards with tasks to complete and I must admit I find these customs gratifying. It seems my initial concerns over being hunted by cyber-trolls may be unwarranted. Time will tell and I will remain vigilant. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Am Portobello Mushrooms

The Wednesday Rant is here! Somewhere inside me the alliteration beast I keep chained up wants to call it Wednesday Whinings. Rant is so intense an image. I picture people stomping around, tearing at their hair and throwing their microwave burritos against the wall in pent up rage and frustration. Not really my thing. Still, a blog is about venting to a certain extent, right? Maybe I'll call it the Vendsday Vent, bwa-ha-ha-ha!

Possible ranting/whining/venting topics:

People Who Don't Return Books. This is on my mind every time I look at my bookcase. Rant-rant-rant, it's my own fault for lending out the books so what do I have to rant about? 

People Who See You Engrossed in a Novel But Insist on Making Small-Talk. This just happened to me in the doctor's office but again, myself to blame. I tend to make eye-contact and smile when I enter a room. Combine that with the fact that I was raised to endure torture and eat poison before making anyone feel bad, and the outcome is, put the book away and chit-chat with the nice lady.

License Plate Frames/Bumper Stickers That Make No Sense. Is this book/writing related? No, but I'm going with it because I enjoy witty bumper stickers and license plate frames and I saw one yesterday that confounded me. Maybe you can figure it out... A license plate frame that says: "I AM PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS." What. Gives. I almost followed the lady down a wrong turn trying figure out the code I was missing. And the worst is, no one who I tell this story to believes me! There's nothing more frustrating than begging someone to believe when you're telling the truth!!! Okay that was a blanket statement but not being believed is at least on the top ten list of frustrating feelings. Everyone thinks I was confused and it must have said "I LOVE PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS" or "I GROW PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS", but I promise you, as I sit and type this it did say I-AM-portobello-mushrooms. If the lady in the car's purpose was to have someone's mind thrown into the spin-cycle for the rest of their drive home, she succeeded. You win P-shroom lady, wherever you are! I am portobello mushrooms too!

I admire people with bumper stickers. It seems so damaging to the paint! Do you have anything on your car? Your Alma Mater? Your favorite band? One that says, "If at first you do succeed, try not to look astonished" or "Make way for the princess"? 

A quick search on Google provided these gems: 
  • "The Book Was Better." 
  • "Destiny Has Brought us Together"
  • "I Ignored Your Friend Request"
  • "Don't Judge a Book by its Movie"
  • "Shh...I'm listening to a book"
  • "I Believe I Have a Keen Sense of Humor But it's Hard to Convey that Sense on a Bumper Sticker."
Let me know of any good ones you've seen! :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Good Quote. Also, Singing in the Car and How This Cannot Apply to Writing

Janet Reid is an agent at Fine Print Literary and if you read her blog you know how fortunate every client on her list is to have her dedication and wisdom. When I read this quote from her blog (the full text is HERE) I almost wished I wrote crime novels or women's fiction just so I could query her :) 

"I make my living based on material people send me. I couldn't pay the rent if you didn't write. Never doubt for one second I don't remember that and value it every day."

Ahh, the warm and fuzzies...agents need submissions, a pleasant reminder in the midst of an often negative business. 

But this quote underscores the very plain fact that if we are pursuing publication, then our writing is something to be sold. It has to be wonderful to more than just ourselves for this to happen. 

Maybe I enjoy singing show tunes in the car, but does anyone want to listen to me sing show tunes in the car? Would anyone pay for this "opportunity"?? No, no, a thousand times NO! The world is not deprived of my singing, my singing is just for me because here is my truth: I like to sing, but I am not a singer. 

Apply that last sentence to writing instead of singing... it becomes a real kicker. I couldn't type it out without an internal wither. Go on, try it if you dare, but have someone with a hug ready after!

Being that we are writers, this kind of comparison tends to motivate us. We're as stubborn as we are praise-thirsty. So if we are serious about pursuing publication then it's up to each of us to work hard and get a real handle on the craft. We can't write like we're singing in the car, we have to be brutal with our stories and open our eyes to the market, and turn our writing into something wonderful...something people will want to read. Something they'd pay money for. 

Writing Contests; Or, Anyone Part of the Pageant Set?

Lurking about as I tend to do, I noticed something about writing contests. There are tons of them, yes, and some writers submit their work to every single one, while others have no clue they exist. Sometimes the whole scene reminds of pageant moms collecting crowns for their darlings, but maybe those titles will give their ms the exposure that could kick start a career.

There are contests for every stage in the writing process, from getting those first ten pages polished to submitting an entire manuscript, even synopsis contests and query contests. So where does that leave you and I?

From what I can see, contests can be a great way to get that highly coveted impartial feedback, for reals, if you think you can stomach it. If your ms is ready, they can even place your work in front of a finalist judge (usually an agent or editor). So what's not to love? This is my dilemma as I scroll through page after page of contest listings and what they provide. At the forums I lurk at, though helpful, I get the sense that unless I do a few contest rounds myself, I won't know for sure whether to pitch my flag at Camp "Contests Are My New Addiction" or Camp "Contests Aren't Really Worth It". (There's also a "Judges Are Meanies and I'll Hate Them Forever" Camp, but I really don't want to go there!).

Before I go on, a couple of links: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has an outstanding page on contest information, pros and cons, and how to spot scams (check it out HERE). Romance Writers of America hosts several contests a month through their regional chapters, and many of them have categories for YA (find a nice comprehensive list of mostly RWA contests HERE). There are also a few contests held by publishing houses themselves, but you can't submit to agents while they have your entry, and you get no feedback. If your ms is ready for the bigtime, you can find an example of a publishing house contest HERE . 

Some things to think about, (or mainly one thing), Cost:
  • Most contests run somewhere between $25 and $35 dollars a pop, and that kind of money buys quite a lot of books with a Barnes & Nobles membership card and a keen eye for internet coupons. 
  • Some contests require membership in RWA, $110 for the first year and $85 each additional. Cha-ching!
  • Many contests are now online, but for those that are still snail mail the cost can add up... usually they ask for three to four copies of the first few chapters. Add up printing all this and postage fees.
  • Time: Every contest has its own guidelines, and you must format your ms and package everything accordingly.
But the benefits look pretty rewarding:
  • Feedback, glorious feedback! (Some contests, like the coveted Golden Heart, don't offer this, so check first!!). Just remember, you asked for it!
  • If you make it to final round judging, most RWA contests have an editor or agent as a finalist judge.
  • If you final or win, it would be something to add in the "credentials" paragraph of your query.
  • If you don't final or win, you might still find the process helpful, especially if it takes your writing in a better direction.
I don't know if contests are for me. It's hard to step onto that stage, but if I do I will blog about the experience (most likely falling across the stage as I attempt to cross in six-inch heels). Have you thought about contests or even entered? What was it like?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Book Talk: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Faerie stories have always been among my die-hard favorites, and since I'm about to start
Ink Exchange I thought I'd revisit Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr and the love triangle that is Seth, Keenan, and Aislinn (pronounced ASH-ling, I realized too late in the book!). 

A reminder, the real reviewers do things like summarize the plot and all that so if you're interested click on one of the links to the left :)

Did anyone else LOVE the descriptions of Faeries? Ms. Marr did a superb job of presenting Faeries in a completely believable way, yet keeping the story firmly set in our contemporary world. I gobbled up all the fairie folklore and how it played into the story. She didn't make Faeries talk in some antiquated way, and if you think about it, most of the myths and legends surrounding fey folk were "contemporary" when they were first passed down... so I really appreciated the fact that Ms. Marr kept the same rules (regarding iron, for example) and yet portrayed Faeries as how they have adapted and changed with our world, just like humans have.

And now, the love story, always my favorite part of ANY book. Ms. Marr kept me guessing until the very end. Will Aislinn choose edgy yet caring Seth, normal boy who desperately loves her? Or glowing, golden Summer King Keenan, the Faerie who has never known real love, not even from his own mother? It's rare for an author to succeed in making me fall for two heros at once, and I almost turned to the end of the story to see who she ended up with just so I could relax about it already (I said I almost turned to the end. Apparently this kind of sacrilege is a terrible disrespect!). 

I'm excited to start Ink Exchange, the next in series even though it apparently isn't exactly a sequel (Fragile Eternity is the true sequel but I haven't gotten it yet).

Have a great weekend, and happy reading!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Reasons to Celebrate: Splish-Splash Award and a Fellow Writer's Success!

Thank you Suzette Saxton at Shooting Stars for the Splish-Splash Award!! Here is a list of fellow recipients:

(and to add your name to this award list, all you have to do is splash a little comment!)

The Sound of the Rain (Natalie Murphy)
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost (Alison)

Do you have anything to celebrate?? I'm excited to report twenty-five followers on the Coaster! Thank you guys, and I hope you're having fun!

In some even more exciting news, Bethany Wiggins, sister to the fabulous Suzette Saxton (who I mistakenly mistook for Bethany in an earlier version of this blog. Thank you Elana!!) just accepted an offer of representation by the Stringer Literary Agency! Bethany Wiggins and Suzette Saxton can be found at Shooting Stars, a fun, positive blog that I love. Enormous congratulations and all the very best Bethany!! 

On top of these already wonderful reasons to celebrate, Suzette kindly invited me to her blog Award Party! I didn't have a thing to wear but how could I refuse? It's great fun, and if you go over I'm the quiet one sipping Shirley Temples against the wall. Just don't drag me out to the dance floor, I have NO rhythm! I mean it!! Okay well maybe just one dance.

While I was at the party, (which you should definitely check out), Suzette gave out the cutest party gifts...our choice of award! I chose the Splish-Splash Award, and now I'm having a party of my own! Come on in, have some chips, do a little dancing or chill on the couch and play Wii. I think someone's setting up a karaoke machine but you won't get me near it... and if you'd like to take home an award of your own just splash a comment on this post and I'll add your link!

So what's your good news? Did you interview a great author or finish a book you loved? Maybe you got through another chapter in your wip or finally came up with the perfect villain name...let's hear it! :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesdays I Rant. Unless I Have Nothing to Rant About

It may or may not be glaringly apparent, but I try to keep things positive over here on the Coaster. I love snarky, biting blogs but there are plenty out there, and I get my dark fulfillment nodding in agreement as I read through the rants of others, thinking This blog is so great! It's funny because it's true! Har har har!!!!

As for me, I'm that person who tries to turn everything into a win-win situation. Ah yes, you know the type. There's always a bright side...there's always a way to turn a negative into a positive. In short, irritating. It takes a special kind of person to be friends with me. 

But we all have our grouchy, craggy-faced moments. My peak in bellyaching came when we welcomed baby number three into our happy home. Things got so hectic, and I had no time to read books, much less write, and everything was a blur of diapers and bottles and horrible, horrible laundry-- I had the green-eyed look of the Hulk a little more often than I'm proud of. Thankfully I have a good husband who realized what was happening. He sent me to Barnes & Nobles and even allocated "mommy time"; he was a man with a big plan and even bigger dreams of getting his sunshiny wife back, and as you might have figured out, it worked!

We all have those crusty days (or weeks) when moans and groans make us feel better, and on the flip side, I bet even the crankiest, most sourheaded griper on your favorite blog or forum has an uplifting moment from time to time. Okay, maybe you've never actually seen it, but it's certainly possible!

The point is, this blog is not a rant-free zone. In fact, I set Wednesdays aside as my official "rant" day. But I figure if I don't have anything to rant about that's okay too. So in conclusion, if I have something bugging me I get to rant on Wednesdays (yay!), and if I have nothing to rant about I can blog endlessly about whatever comes into my head (yay!). See? A win-win situation :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Writing Balancing Act

There is a best-case scenario on Pimp My Novel (and you can find it here) that outlines twelve basic steps in a writer's career. In case you haven't checked out Pimp My Novel it's written by someone who works in sales for a major book publisher, and the site is fantastic for market info and an insider's view. This person really knows the biz! 

So okay, looking at the twelve step program (I get the joke, twelve steps, haha) where am I in all those steps? The second one mostly, and I'm breaking Pimp My Novel's advice of casting a wide net with the querying. I know, I know-- bad Diana! I'm not query-intensive and I absolutely have to be! I get my thrills just having one or two queries tailored to this or that agent and that is doing me no good! Tell me how foolish I'm being. Go on! I need to hear it, because it can't ALL be about writing another novel. Writing and revising are just two out of the three parts. Getting the book out there is the equally vital part three in the tri-force of getting published (and now I'm doing Zelda references, so moving on...)

From what I gather, at the next stage, the miraculous someone-who-can-sell-books-likes-your-story stage, there will be even more to balance, with writing and promoting and understanding the market. All that (and probably much more) need to be pretty much continuous and overlapping. It's like the great circle of life, or that water condensation table in science class, or I don't know, reuse-reduce-recycle. It's all connected and it's all important.

Where are you in those twelve steps? Step one? Step three? Any lucky writers in step four or beyond? Wherever we are in our writing we have to keep up the balancing act so I say, embrace it! Let's love writing the book we're writing, and love querying or promoting the book we've written. But don't be like me...polish off that query and send it out there!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Writer Conferences

At the Querytracker Blog I found an informative link entitled SCBWI 2009: Why Your Manuscript Got Rejected from a recap of Delacorte Press editor Wendy Loggia's keynote address at the SCBWI conference. I always get excited when I come across a blog about someone's conference experience or an article about a conference workshop. Writer Conferences are enlightening and exhilarating, and if you're at the right stage in your writing, there are few better places for getting ahead in your career. 

Writer conferences are exciting. Being able to listen to an author give a talk or hear a panel of agents discuss the market, or even sit across from an editor at lunch and chit-chat about the wonderful time we're having made me aware of an often overlooked point in forums and blogs: despite the rejections and all the snarky comments we read about, people in publishing are some of the nicest people around! They truly are! I met nothing but highly enthusiastic, helpful people who wanted to find new authors and wanted to help. They want a great manuscript! They want one so bad that they spend endless hours of their free time reading through submissions in the hopes of finding one.

The afterglow of the New York conference lasted a long time, especially since a pitch session with a phenomenal editor led to my first full request (it was for that first book that should never have been queried/submitted in the first place...but still!). I know that we're "not in this business for rejections, glowing or otherwise," (Janet Reid, agent extraordinaire) but that was a pretty terrific letter, and it led me to understand where my voice truly lay. 

If you have a polished, ready-to-submit manuscript, a conference is a fantastic place to make contacts, learn and have fun!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Book Talk: The Hollow by Jessica Verday

I should preface this with the disclaimer that I'm just gabbing about books here because I LOVE books; for in depth reviews you should definitely check out one of the many fabulous reviewer blogs on the left :)

Isn't this cover gorgeous? I wish I knew how to do my make-up like that. In any case, I'm usually too much of a chicken to read ghost stories, but word on the street was there would be mysterious romance and no headless horseman in
The Hollow by debut novelist and Querytracker alumnus Jessica Verday, so I decided to give it a try and I'm so glad I did!

Abbey is dealing with a lot, (an understatement), her friend's tragic vanishing obviously casts a shadow over her life, yet she still has a life to live. It's interesting as a writer to see how Ms. Verday balances Abbey's world: mourning a friend, her feelings for the yummerific Caspian, the freaky stuff that keeps happening. I appreciated the way Ms. Verday didn't overwhelm the story with Abbey's grief and yet still showed how hard it was for Abbey to let go. 

The book is upwards of five-hundred pages, but both the atmospheric tone and the secretive Caspian made it a page turner, especially since I'm always one for books that hint at the supernatural. Mostly though, I wanted to know more about Caspian, and not only because his name took me back to my Narnia-lovin' days-- what was he? Ghost? Witch? Just a creepy guy with great hair and the habit of showing up at funerals?? Don't expect answers to ANYTHING until the near end of the book, and even then you're left with questions a good way. There's promise of a series and I can't wait to find out what happens next!

Overall a fun and eerie read. Take a peek at the first few pages here and let me know what you think :) 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Reasons to Celebrate!

Today is Writing Roller Coasters' big ten day anniversary!! For ten days we've laughed, cried, thought and sighed, and now, my six loyal Followers (never mind that I'm my own follower so technically it's only five), we look to the future. What awaits? Passion? Adventure? More rhetorical questions? Stick around and find out! 

And here's another reason to celebrate: Writing Roller Coasters has been nominated for a very cute award, known as the Lemonade Award. Yay for turning lemons into lemonade, one of life's sweetest recipes!

Thanks to Danni at Romantic Harbor for this award, the support, and especially for her beautiful book review blog! You should definitely check it out. She has contests and a teaser game that led me to an author I never tried before. Plus, she's a great book reviewer! Thanks again Danni!

Now that my blog has been nominated I'm set with the task of nominating ten other worthy recipients... 

Here are the rules:~Put the Lemonade Award logo on your blog or post.~Nominate at least 10 blogs that show great attitude or gratitude.~Link your nominees within your post.~Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.~Share the love and link to the person from whom you received the award.

Thanks everyone who's following or reading Writing Roller Coasters! I hope you're having fun!