Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Social Networking is Killing Me

Because I was gone all last week, I wasn't able to do any of my facebooking, twittering, blogging, commenting, forum posting, etc.

And you know what? I didn't miss it. In fact, now that I'm back, the weight of social networking is so heavy, I'm considering scaling back. Like way back.

Because I'm tired of social networking. Are any of you? What are your best social networking stories? Met anyone amazing? Crit buddies? Agent convos? Basically, I need you to sell me on this whole thing again, because I really didn't miss it and just thinking about starting up again has me shaking.


Monday, June 29, 2009

What'd I Miss?

Okay, I was gone for 75 hours to a mountain camp. It rained all night the last night and we packed up all our stuff, including three tents, in the pouring rain.

After 75 hours, this is what I miss most:

1. My family. No phone contact was hard. My girl kidlet was standing in our doorway when I walked down the sidewalk. She said "Mommy, I missed you," and was bawling before I could scoop her into a sweet hug. Man, I missed her too.

2. A couch. You don't know how much you enjoy couches and chairs until you don't have them.

3. A shower. I didn't take one for 75 hours. Good thing my hair is only an inch and a half long. Well, most of it. Standing in the shower never felt so good.

4. Being warm at night. Do I really need to explain this? I think not. And I could add dry to that as well. It's nice to sleep warm and dry, but hey, maybe that's too picky.

So what else did I miss? What did you do all week? Anything exciting happen?

BTW: That's not me in the picture, but that's what the last 14 hours of camp was like. So much fun! Besides the miserable rain, the other 61 hours were really fun. Ziplines, canoeing, s'mores, etc. I really did have a blast.

Monday, June 22, 2009

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Blog

Yeah, this is going to be my only post this week. I'm off to girl's camp bright and early tomorrow. I know you're all turning a delicate shade of green that I "get" to go hang with 10 (yes TEN) 12 - 15 year olds for 4 (yes FOUR) days.

In the woods. Tents. Five-minute showers. No Internet, no cell phones, no electricity, no nothing. Not even lotion (it attracts the wildlife *panic face*).

Now, some of you may not know me very well, so let's just say that I'm not a Carly Camper. I had to practice how to cook outside. That's right. I practiced in my 15 x 25 foot backyard on a camp chef. I still don't know if I can build a fire. Seriously. I hope I can. Then I set up a tent in the common area behind my townhome. Three, actually. Tents, I can do.

It never hurts to make sure you aren't going to make a fool out of yourself in front of said teens. Trust me on this.

So I'll be gone the rest of this week. Have a great time without me!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Are Your Bad Guys...

...well, bad?

Yeah, mine aren't. I've been doing a lot of reading ('member last week? I read like 8 books) and one of the books I read was GONE by Michael Grant. You should totally read it if you're into YA or futuristic stuff. It's not aliens or anything. It's simply amazing.

Okay, the man made his bad guys really, really (really really really) bad. I was supposed to be paying attention to other stuff in the book, but I found myself really (should I use that word again? Bonus points if you use it in your comment! Ha!) admiring how BAD his bad guys are.

Like terrifying bad.

Like encasing people's hands in cement bad.

Like hurting people and enjoying it bad.

Yeah, my bad guys aren't that bad. Are yours? How do you make them that way? I need a Making Your Bad Guys Really Really Really Bad - So Bad Everyone Will Hate Them and What They Do crash course.

Lay it on me.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Dreaded R-Word...

...yeah, you know it...if you know me at all, and you do. You totally do.

The Dreaded R-word = Research.

Kat asked these questions (She must hate me or something.): How do you do research for your settings, your story and your characters' quirks? What interesting tidbits about yourself and the world you live in have you learned along the way? (Michelle answered them before me, and Annie will talk it out tomorrow.)

Oh crap. My secret is out. I, uh, don’t "do" research, just like I don't "do" running and stuff like that. Well, if big dogs are involved, I can move pretty fast. Otherwise? No running.

I actually dislike researching so much I break out in hives if I have to do it. So you wanna know how I research for my settings and story and quirks? *whispers* I make them up. I might pick a place (the setting) that could be anywhere. Then I don’t have to know street names and stuff. I’m writing a novel right now that requires the characters to go to the beach. So I know it’s in California. But I don't know what city. I don't care what city. The setting is not that integral that I need to know what city. Or the name of the high school. And if I did, I'd simply make them up.

I did need the name of a beach. So I asked my friend Christine for sweet beach in SoCal. Research, over and out.

Seriously, the book I’m querying right now? Dystopian. Setting = made up (Well, okay, I know where it takes place in the US. But the "country" is made up. I do have to know the terrain and stuff, but I already did. No research required). Research = very little.

Story = made up. Research = very little.

Character quirks = made up. Research = very little.

My stories require very little research because I don’t write what I don’t know. For example, I have to know how long a sunburn takes to heal, but that can come from my real life knowledge. If there is something I don't know, like what symptoms someone would have coming off inhalants, I just ask someone smarter than me. (Thanks Carolyn!) Another reason I think I can get away with minimal research is because I write speculative fiction. You know, with magic and powers and made up places. Thus...I can make stuff up!

Most of the research I do for characterization comes from watching people. I carry a 6 x 9-inch notebook in my purse. When I see some guy at the post office wearing a cool hat, I write it down. I jot down notes about people I know. Like, my BIL talks in his sleep. A lot. So I put that in a novel. I've gushed over people's names in the grocery store and stuff. It's a bit embarrassing, but Walter-the-checkout-guy liked it. I know he did.

What have I learned about myself? That I’m lazy? Ha ha!

But seriously, I think there's something to be said for writing what you know. Sure, I could research 17th Century England (if I wanted to die) and then I would "know" about 17th Century England. I just choose not to, cuz I am not a fan of the R-word.

What about you? Firmly camped in Research Central? Love the stuff? Hate it? How do you do research for your settings, your story and your characters' quirks? What interesting tidbits about yourself and the world you live in have you learned along the way?

Am I really lazy? Wait. Don't answer that. kenyit

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

WIP Wednesday...

...I loathe you. You're always lurking in the back of my mind "Whadd're you gonna post? Whadd're you gonna post?" You're like a dog, shadowing me everywhere I go, pink tongue flapping, mind focused on one thing. Whadd're you gonna post? Whadd're gonna post?

If I don't write, you're there, nagging.

If I do, you're there, nagging me to keep track of how much.

If I edit, you're there, nagging me to take notes of how well I've done.

No matter what, YOU'RE THERE. Nagging. It's like I'm married and can't get away for even one second to go to the bathroom by myself!

You know what, WIP Wednesday? I liked you better when you were Whatever Wednesday. I even did a WIPpet last week just to get you to back off. Have you?


Still there.


Whadd're you gonna post? Whadd're gonna post?

Well, guess what, WIP Wednesday?

You're not winning this round.

*ding ding*

Round One: ElanaJ

I'm not telling you what I did / didn't / should / shouldn't / could / couldn't do this week.

Take that, WIP Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Struggling To Be...

...happy for those who have "made it" in this biz.

Yeah, I said it. I have the Jealous Thing going on. And the thing is, it's so lame. I mean, it's people I don't even know. People I do know I'm happy for. So why do I care that Totally Unreachable Author is having great success by hitting the NYT bestseller list?

Maybe because I'm not? Because I'm a bad person? Because jealousy is a natural emotion we have to learn to deal with?

Am I the only one who deals with this? It's okay if I am. Really.

I strive to help people on the Interwebs. I'm a regular on the QT forum, I write for the QT blog, I feel like I have a good grip on what this business is. I know it comes with rejections and roller coaster highs and lows. Every once in a while, that Jealous Thing comes up. It consumes me. Pulls me down into the depths of fire and brimstone. Fills my heads with No Good Thoughts.

Like "You're not good enough."

Or "You should just give up."

I don't necessarily compare myself to others, but instead, beat myself up on how made of suck I am. Do any of you do this?

And it's always worse when I read / hear of someone else's success. Again, it's lame. Because I don't get like this when my online pals have good things happen to them. It's always with people I DON'T know.

How do you beat this Jealous Thing? Is the nasty JT and NGT's just one more thing I have to learn to deal with as an author? Like, "you've got to be able to handle rejections, waiting and the Jealous Thing whispering No Good Thoughts in your ear."


Monday, June 15, 2009

Don't Hate Me, But...

...I like writing query letters!

I really do. I've been reading a lot of blogs lately. Okay, not just lately, but all the time. (It was worth a try.) And I've noticed something: it seems that most people don't like writing a query letter.

I just don't have the same dislike.

In fact, I quite like writing my queries. I usually have the query letter done before the manuscript is completely written. It's not like I have to know how the book ends to write the query. Right?

I'm going to share a query letter I wrote for a novel that currently has 6000 words penned. And they are all made of "teh suck" and need to be deleted. In fact, I have a goal to write this book by hand, and I'm going to start over completely. Oh, and some of you will get a kick out of this: it's the same novel that I "outlined" a few weeks ago. Ha ha!

Here's the query for that "outline", for a book I haven't even really started on yet.

Sixteen-year-old Penelopie Baker has died 67 times can feel death approaching like you can feel rain falling on your skin. Penny thinks her 68th death will get her one step closer to being able to reclaim her lost life, but she’s dead (lol) wrong.

Because the death she feels is not her own, but that of a friend. Everyone thinks the drowning was an accident--until another classmate croaks under mysterious conditions. In order to get her years of service counted for this 68th life, Penny and her Servant partner, Blake, set out to find the true cause for two suspicious teenage deaths so close to home.

What they find makes all the bloody deaths they’ve experienced seem like pinpricks. They must find a way to bring the true murderer to justice or their next death will be permanent.

DYING TO LIVE is a young adult mystery, complete at 70,000 words.

I'm not saying this is, like, perfect or anything. I'd like to think it's pretty good, and that you could tell what the novel is about from it. Yes? No?

Like I said, I like writing the query letter almost as much, or more, than writing the novel. So much, that in this case, I wrote the query FIRST. What kind of crazy pills am I on? Or is this just another distraction tactic? You tell me.

I mean, you could try this guy's method, but I wouldn't recommend it. (But isn't that pic hilarious?)

So, of course, me being a human of the curious kind, I want to know WHY 99% of writers out there don't like writing the query. What's so bad about it?

Friday, June 12, 2009

More Than You Want To Know...

I think I'm going to have every post next week have those ellipses in the title. I seem to do it A LOT. So sorry if that bugs you.

But I thought I'd share some stuff about yours truly in mostly pictures, cuz I'm crazy like that.

What I do for fun:

That's me in the blue jacket. I have a pitchfork. Don't ask. Mary Lindsey is the one with the Grim Reaper scythe-thing. Suzette Saxton is just trying to defend herself. Good times.

I love songs by people with food for their name:
No Rain by Blind Melon
Never There by Cake - dude don't you love Cake? I had their CD in high school, like, forever ago. I was kewl back then, too. *grins*

I like this song too:
Heartless by Kris Allen

And I still adore "Mad World" by this man:

Books I've Read For the First Time (don't judge) In the Past 10 Days:
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (I had *panic face* for a chapter or two)
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin (holy world-building Batman!)
The City of Gold and Lead by John Christopher (utterly awesome)
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (it is what it is)
The Roar by Emma Clayton (post-apocalyptic, what could be better?)
Gifts by Ursula Le Guin (loved it!)
The Giver by Lois Lowry (shut up)
Gone by Michael Grant (words cannot describe the awesomeness this book is)

I hit one of these this week:

My girl kidlet said, "Mom, you're scaring me." Yeah, I scare myself sometimes.

I had my first experience with one of these:

They're webcams, in case you didn't know. Critique group will never be the same.

My best picture to date:

That's Mary with me. Maybe I look good because she's so cute.

What I learned doing this post: It takes forever to insert pictures into blogger and move them where you want them. My advice? Put in the last one first, then you don't have to drag so far. Freak.

What I also learned: I am amazing when suffering from Avoidance. I tried to get a prescription, but apparently, there is no cure. Dangit.

Other random facts: I've been hovering at 99 followers for three days. I'm going nuts. Someone just follow so I can get on with my life. Please.

I updated my sidebar with Wicked Awesome Bloggers, i.e. people I love to read everyday. There were 39! Thirty-freaking-nine. And I wonder why I have to limit myself to an hour of online time. If I missed yours, let me know. I follow so many....

What I should be doing:

Yeah, I'm in a killing mood right now. It's Jag again. For some reason he brings out the homicidal tendencies I work so hard to repress.

Oh! Talking about Jag made me remember. This is what he looks like:

<--- David Henrie from Wizards of Waverly Place. Yes, I watch it.

Eddie ---> Gilbert from The Next Food Network Star. L-o-v-e the spikes. And the eyesbrows... totally Jag.

And now you know more about me than you should.

One more thing: This blog post took me two hours. I am just that lame.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

How Much Stock Do You Put Into What Someone Else Says?

(Strap on the life vest. I'm goin' in deep today....)

This question has always plagued me. When I first started with a crit group, I changed every single thing they told me to. I guess I just sort of assumed that's what everyone did who got feedback. Hey, I was a newb. Don't judge me. *wink*

Some people have been blogging about this this week. Beth Fleisher said it yesterday on the QT blog. Jessica Faust had something about writing what you know (and I added "love" Write what you love). I swear I scheduled and wrote this before I read their stuff. I've been to crit group this week. I've heard some stories lately from people who are changing everything because of a single suggestion. (Not people I've directly talked to, so this is all hearsay, but still. I know it happens.) And it got me thinking and asking myself:

How much stock do you put into what someone else says?

So way last summer, I was telling my DH about a crit suggestion I got (which is a miracle, cuz he doesn't much care for the writing gig), and I just didn't like it. And he said the words that changed my life. Seriously. He said, "Like I tell my sixth graders, just because someone tells you to do something doesn't mean you have to do it."

Whoa. Wait. What?

I don't have to change it? For real?

It was like I'd never thought of that before. Since then, I take every suggestion seriously, I really do. But sometimes they just don't work for my story. Or I've worded things the way I want to, and I don't care that it's not grammatically correct or that it repeating. It's deliberate.

My confidence has increased in this area since I've realized that just because my critmate doesn't like present tense, doesn't mean I have to change it to past. Or that if they don't like something, doesn't mean it has to go/change. Now when all three of them can't figure out what the heck is going on...well, then yeah. I have to rewrite whether I like it or not.

Don't get me wrong, all critiques are attention-worthy. That's why we're in crit groups, right? But changes are not mandatory. Over the last year, I've learned what kind of writer I am and what I'm trying to achieve. The critiques I get that fit me and my story are like drugs. I just can't get enough. And I usually do implement everything they tell me. The critiques I get that don't fit me and my story and my style get tossed. In private, of course, but tossed still the same.

This is why random crits by people I don't know are difficult for me. I know there are places to find critiquers (Critique Circle and OWW for example) and I've been to those places and left dissatisfied. My online groups are with people I have spent time getting to know and trust, even if we haven't met in person. I know they "get" me and/or they "get" my genre and my style. That's important to me, so I can get the best drugs, er, crits possible.

So I'm curious. How much stock do you put into what someone says about your story? Have you enjoyed Critique Circle or OWW? Where did you find your critmates? What about agents? Do you automatically buy what they're selling? Why or why not?

How much stock do you put into what someone else says? Especially someone you don't know that well. That's what I want to know. Here's why: I've seen some people in the past change everything everyone says. Their story gets lost. They get lost. They have no confidence. So I guess this is about YOU too. How do you get the confidence to toss the crits that don't work for you? How do you decide what kind of writer you want to be? Have you? Do you stay true to yourself and your story? How do you do that amidst the advice, critiques, and self-doubt?

Wow. Toldja it'd be deep. Hope you had the proper gear.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

WIPpet, WIPpet Good

Yeah, I totally stole that term. Lisa and Laura always have the hippest terms. "Hip" is probably outdated. You see, I still wear clothes from like the 90s and all that. I think I have some T's from high school. No, really. I'm not what you would call fashionable in any way. Maybe my hair...

Anyway, so they posted a WIPpet last week. It's basically a snippet of writing on a Wednesday. See how that makes a WIPpet? Work In Progress + snippet = WIPpet. Yeah, I like new words and stuff like that. Word equations are also high on my list of Simple Things That Make Me Happy.

So anyhow, this is from my WIP (obviously or it wouldn't be a WIPpet *rolls eyes*) Dying To Live. My MC is in social dance class with this guy who's been assigned to be her trig tutor, but she doesn't want him...yeah, just read it.

“Can I dance with her today?” another guy asked. I turned around to see pretty-boy, red-polo Landon Wilson. He grinned, revealing an orthodontically-induced set of white teeth.

“Sure, man,” Brian said, turning to Sarah. They moved out into the middle of the room where Mrs. Bowman was yelling instructions.

I stood staring up at Landon’s too-happy face. At least he was taller than me.

“I won’t bite,” he said, reaching for my hand.

I stepped toward the dance floor just before he touched me. He followed and we positioned ourselves the way Mrs. Bowman demonstrated. His hand felt hot on my back, but the skin where we were touching felt cold.

“Look,” I said. “I’m gonna need some help after all. Can you come over this weekend?” I looked at Mrs. Bowman so I wouldn’t have to see the victory in his eyes.

Landon moved like he’d been taking private dance lessons his entire life. I stepped on his foot and cringed.

“Sure, no problem. When? I can come over after school today…if you want.”

I didn’t want, but I didn’t have a choice. “Okay. Maybe like, four o’clock?” That would give me time to do my other homework and get the house cleaned up a little bit. As an added bonus, Michael usually took a short nap around four.

“I can, um, give you a ride home after school. If that would help.”

Now he was the one looking anywhere but at me. The music started and Landon twirled me through the steps easily. I let him toss me and push me where I was supposed to go, wondering how to answer.

“Wonderful, Mr. Wilson,” Mrs. Bowman praised. “Ah, Bristol, glad you’re here today.” She smiled and moved to the next couple, who were all tangled up in each other’s arms.

I stepped away from Landon. “No, I don’t need a ride.” He was way out of my league; he had a car and could make his own schedule. Not to mention the fancy-pants jeans and professional hair cut. I hacked at my own every few months to keep the split ends at bay.

He did the annoying throat clearing. “Okay. I can come at four. I can’t tomorrow, because the soccer team is having a senior send-off, but I can come on Saturday.”

I knew it. Soccer. “Are you a senior?” It sounded like an accusation.

“Yes.” He answered like it was a defense.

“What about Sunday?” I asked. Dad always went to church on Sunday. Maybe I could keep my failing grades in trig a secret—as well as my new, senior-soccer tutor.

“Sunday works for me. What time?”

“Eleven-ish. Is that okay?”

Landon grinned. “Anything is okay. See you at four.” He moved through the crowd to a group of senior boys I recognized from the soccer team. He wasn’t the tallest, or the best-looking, the loudest or the quietest. He probably was the smartest, but I never would have known. They’d signed up for the “social” part, just like Brian, because a few girls sat with them, all smiles and short skirts.

Did I WIPpet good? Or do I need to address "teh suck"?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My New Plan

Yeah, yeah. I can hear the snarfing nationwide. World-wide, actually. But I really do have a plan to achieve balance this time. A real plan. A well-thought-out plan. Really.

It's called the "one hour plan."

Don't you want to know how it's going to work? You do, I know you do.

Here's the dealio. I waste a lot of time. I'm actually better with my time when I'm working because there's only so much time to get so much done and some of that time is used in a way I don't like (um, working). So yeah. I'm a bit more focused during my "free" time when I'm working.

Now that summer is here...not so much. So I developed the "one hour plan." It's simple, it's effective, even your dog could do it. Srsly.

Here it is. I have three projects I'm working on. I blogged about this last week, but since I can't even remember what I ate for dinner a couple of hours ago, I know some of you might have a slight problem remembering *my* goals.

Control Issues - read books
The Mirror - edit/revise/rewrite
Dying to Live - write

Remember now? Good, moving on. Here's the one hour plan.

I read for one hour.
I edit/revise/rewrite for one hour.
I write new wordage for one hour.

And, you knew it was coming.... I get one hour of online time. Yes. Only one hour. You may have noticed my blog comments declining and my forum participation on the decrease. Yeah, there's only so much I can do in an hour. I can't go totally dark like BJ and Lady Glam and some others, but I can reduce to one hour.

So, mathematicians out there, that's four hours of my day. What else do I do? Yardwork. Clean. Cook. Push the kids on the swings or go to the pool. Beta read. You know, real life stuff. It's working. I feel productive in my writing life. I feel like a real human. It's a win/win for everyone.

It's the one hour plan. It's patented people. *wink* The Elana Johnson One Hour Writing Plan! New and only available--just kidding.

So, I'm interested. Have you ever timed how long you spend on things? How long do you really write every day? Edit? Read? Spend time online in blogs, forums, email, etc? Being a real person? Is it too much in one area? Not enough in another? How do you keep the balance between computer time and face-to-face time?

Monday, June 8, 2009

How Do I Love Thee, Blog Chain? Let Me Count The Ways...

Sandra picked the topic this time. I’m going near the end and feel like all the good answers have been taken. Especially by Michelle who was up right before me. I just know Annie will have something equally impressive to say tomorrow.

So here’s the topic, and it’s one of my faves: Romance. Ahhh, romance. What work of fiction is complete without it? I mean, seriously. Okay, okay, I’ve read some books lately that don’t have a smidgen of a relationship in them. At least not a romantic one. To me, literature is all about relationships and there is none better than the romantic one. Sandra asked a lot of questions, so I’ll break them down for you in my now infamous fake interview format.

SUA: Do you write romantic relationships in your books?
EJ: Yes. Even when I try not to, I still do. In fact my NaNo novel (Elemental Hunger for those of you keeping track) has this on the front page (I wrote it by hand): THIS IS A DYSTOPIAN NOVEL WITH NO ROMANCE. Yes, it’s in all caps. Pen even.

Yes, there is romance. A lot. I just couldn’t help it! I’m either a huge sucker for romance or a complete wimp when it comes to disciplining my characters. You choose.

SUA: If so, what do you do to show the attraction between your characters?
Uh, they’re hot and stuff. LOL. Just kidding. I don’t mind my characters being uber-hawt and all that, but I’m sort of drawn to regular people. In Elemental Hunger, I say this about the male MC (Adam), through the female MC’s (Gabby) POV: “He had the pinched, unhealthy look of someone who hadn’t eaten a decent meal in days.”

It’s not all about how rockin’ hot Adam is (and he is, just wait a few chapters, he has this wicked cool tattoo…). It’s about the protection he offers to Gabby. He’s something she needs desperately to survive. Like air. How romantic is that? I mean, come on.

I’m not sure I answered this question, so let me have another swing at it. I try to show the attraction between them as realistically as possible, so that the reader can see that romance is not all about looks. This may be lame, but I think one of the most romantic things is how comfortable each person is with the other in complete silence. That speaks a lot for me. When I’m with the one I love, we don’t have to be speaking or doing anything. We’re happy just because we’re in the same room with each other. I try to infuse that into my relationships, because it’s real for me.

SUA: What problems do your characters encounter?
As many as humanly possible. No, really. That’s what makes great fiction, so I try to torment them to the point that they just cannot go on. This is usually where I paint myself into a corner and I have to delete, but whatever. I’m not afraid of the delete key. I’ve done some (what I hope are) nasty things. For example:
  • I imply that Jag is Vi’s brother. And she’s been kissing him.
  • That tattoo I was telling you about? Yeah, it transmits locations and Adam can’t touch Gabby unless he wants to broadcast where she is for the bad guys. That complicates the romantic side of things.
  • I make one of them betray the other. It’s usually for something the betrayer can’t control, but the betrayee doesn’t know that, and there’s this huge thing. Trust is a big deal in relationships, so if you can break that down and toss it out the window, that causes quite the dent in the romance. Of course, then you have to build it back up…. Isn’t writing fun?

SUA: What qualities do you think make a romantic relationship work in fiction?
EJ: The same things that make romantic relationships work in real life. Thrills, chills and automobiles. I mean, didn’t you always want to go out with the guy with the smokin’ car that made your skin tingle when he touched you? Yeah, me too. Never happened. Le sigh. But that’s why I’m a writer! I can make it happen for those living in my head. Man, they have such a good life in there.

I’m gonna skip the fictional couples to save myself the embarrassment points.

So, how do you feel about romance? Do you write it in your novels? Is it hard to write? Easy? Natural? How do you make it work?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Awesome Agents

Hey guys. You know I write for the QueryTracker blog. You know we've just had a big carnival. You know we had agents doing query critiques.

Okay. So those agents are awesome. Every single one of them has been easy to work with, fun to email back and forth with, and just all around spectacular. I'm going to post what they're looking for here too. If your writing / genre fits with what they want to see, query them! Query. Them. Any of them would be awesome.

And before I start, I just want to shout out a big thanks to Jon Tienstra, Kae Tienstra, Lindsay Davis and Jim McCarthy.

Kae and Jon Tienstra:

Kae and Jon Tienstra launched their literary agency, KT/PR & Literary Services, in 2006. Kae was publicity director at Rodale for 13 years before launching her publicity firm, KT Public Relations, in 1993. Jon, a corporate veteran and frustrated literati, joined the public relations business in 1995 after getting his Masters in library science. Today they manage the literary agency and publicity firm as two parallel publishing-based businesses. They are seeking a variety of genres. Jon likes to receive queries for science fiction and contemporary fantasy; mysteries; YA; literary fiction; police/detective.

Kae is interested in great women's fiction; quirky, contemporary fantasy; mysteries (especially cozies); historical fiction; YA. She's always on the lookout for nonfiction writers with impressive platforms on the topics of gardening, parenting, psychology, health, and self-help.

Lindsay Davis:

Lindsay Davis is a literary agent at Writers House. Before joining the agency, she worked in the children's marketing department at Harcourt and taught fourth grade as a member of Teach for America. For the past three years, Lindsay has apprenticed with Steven Malk in the West Coast office of Writers House, where she's had the opportunity to work with some of the very best authors and artists in the industry. She's now building her own list and is actively seeking picture book, middle grade, and young adult manuscripts. She's always been passionate about children's and young adult literature, and, as an agent, she's eager to help bring fresh voices, characters and stories to a new generation of readers.

Jim McCarthy

As an avid fiction reader, his interests encompass both literary and commercial, adult and young adult works. He is particularly interested in women's fiction, underrepresented voice, mysteries, romance, paranormal fiction, and anything unusual or unexpected. In addition to fiction he is also interested in narrative nonfiction, humor, memoir, paranormal nonfiction, and anything related to architecture, planning, or real estate. Check out the Dystel & Goderich website.

So I hope you guys had fun during the carnival. Good luck with your querying and all that!

Oh, and here's one thing I'm wondering about. I've been working on something (my NF project). I'm looking for queries to critique and include in an "examples section" of an e-book. Would any of you be interested in submitting yours for me to shred, er, critique, knowing that I might possibly be putting it in said e-book? It's like a free query critique. I mean, I'm not a literary agent, but I am a pretty good query shredder. Just ask Kate. She said I have a patented system!!

Thoughts? Let me know. kthxbai.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My Future Self Said...

Okay, so I watch The Office. That show is freaking hilarious. I was watching some episodes OnDemand, and there was one where Jim stole some of Dwight's personal letterhead. Then, from the Stamford office, Jim sent Dwight a fax from his future self.

How cool would that be?

Like, for example, my June 1st self could have told my May 31st self that everything was going to be just fine. Maybe to stay away from the intersection on Geneva Road and 7th South around 6 PM, but other than that, everything would be fine.

Or my May 29, 2009 self could have told my August 17, 2008 self that this school year would fly by and be awesome. Except for maybe that one time...but now isn't the time to talk about school! Freak! What am I doing? Maybe my August 17, 2009 self has somehow impacted my June 4th self with thoughts of what she'll be doing in a couple of months. Sheesh.

I wonder what I would come back and tell myself today from my future self tomorrow. Can you wrap your brain around that? *gray matter twisting into knot* I think that would make an awesome novel. I'm not much into time travel, but wouldn't that be super cool? Of course, I have no idea what it would be about, but don't you wish you knew some things before you actually experience them? Like, do we always have to learn things the hard way? That kind of thing.

So question for today: What do you hope your future self could come back and tell you, say, in five years? Or even one? Basically what's your advice to yourself? From one self to another and all that.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

WiP Wednesday - Goals

Okay, so I've been buried up to my eyeballs in revisions. See, I got some really good advice from some really good agents and since it was two people saying the same thing, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

That project is now on hold while I spend some time thinking and examining a few things that need to take place in the novel.

So I've spent some time reading some amazing books. It's a good way to unwind, stop thinking about your own book, and just be a consumer of words. For the past little while, I've viewed reading as a chore, and it hasn't been as enjoyable. I've been thinking things like, "This is taking my writing time." instead of just enjoying the fact that I have time to sit on my couch and read something good. So that's been fun--to just sit and read and not worry about "my writing time." It is my writing time and I'm using it for something productive.

I haven't been writing anything new. At least not since Saturday when I did some final rewrites on the aforementioned novel. But now I need time to absorb and stuff, but I always find myself floundering in the intermittant time.

I was knee-deep into another story, actually plugging away at about 1000 words a day. When the revision ideas came in, that stopped and it's been about a week and half since I've penned a new word. So without further ado, I have three goals. I know you don't know all of my projects, but I'm going to name them anyway.

Control Issues - read other books
The Mirror - revise
Dying to Live - write

What are your goals? How have you been adjusting them as things progress in your "writing life"? Are things progressing in your writing life?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Contest: Are You a Word Wizard?

*nods* Yes, yes I think you are. I've done this before, and it was such fun! There's so many funny, talented people out there. And yes, because I am lame, I basically took what I wrote in that post and copied it here. I am only original on Thursdays and sometimes Saturdays. LOL.

Today I'm hosting my SECOND Comment Contest! This is gonna be so much better than the first one, so I hope you've brought your delicious A-game to the table today. If not, never fear! This contest will be open for a few days so if you're currently playing your B-game, maybe you could take a nap or have a refreshing beverage before participating.

Rules That Must Be Followed:
1. Leave a comment on THIS post.

2. The comment has to be a single sentence. Not two. Not three. Not even a one-word second sentence. One sentence. Em-dashes, commas, hyphens, and semi-colons are encouraged and may earn you extra points. Or maybe not.

3. The sentence must use your verification word in it in a unique and interesting way. Oh, and it must make sense. (Side note: NO CHEATING. You get the word you get, and you can't throw a fit. That's what I tell the kids at school. This means no exiting the page because you "don't like" your verification word. I have no way to police this, so police yourselves people.)

4. Post said sentence with said verification word by Sunday, June 7.

5. Since I am the queen of Mindless Musings, I will choose the one that makes me spray Sprite out my nose the most and meet you back here with the dripping wet winner sometime next week.

6. This contest is open to anyone. Writers, non-writers, boys, girls, facebook addicts, non-twitterers, professional blog readers, everyone. Because of this, please make sure your entry is PG. And spread the word! I want to laugh my fool head off this first week of summer vacay! Okay? Okay.

7. The prize? $10 gift card at Barnes and Noble.

Ready? Set...Go!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Coffee Tawk

Holy blogger, Batman! I totally forgot to do my blog post for today. And now it's late on Sunday and my very last brain cell was used up an hour ago so I can't even remember what I was going to be posting about. I've been wallowing in the Holy-Cow-School-Is-Over Paradise Inn, then Stewage Strait, and then Revision Rapids.

*head desk*

You guys can talk amongst yourselves right? Summer plans? Weekend things you accomplished? Things you've always wanted to post in a blog comment? How awesome M&M's and pretzels go together? Why Batman is the best superhero on the planet?

I swear I'll find my brain and put her in her place before tomorrow. Imagine you're on Saturday night live or something.

Topic: Whatever.


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