Writerly Advice

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: Day 6 - Letter F

Day #6 and today's letter is F on the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. And my topic today is:

Favorite Books

Everyone has at least one.

Me? Way too many - but that's a good thing, right? Afterall, isn't that the point of reading - hoping to find that next amazing book that you just can't put down?

My list of favorites is constantly growing - and when I look back on all the good books I've read, here are ten great books (or series) that always pop up as books I'd recommend to anyone - plus, I've included links to my reviews, if you're interested in hearing what I thought:

1. Anything by Roald Dahl:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
The B.F.G.
The Witches
James and the Giant Peach
The Twits
The Enormous Crocodile
Fantastic Mr. Fox

2. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

3. The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay trilogy by Suzanne Collins

4. The Divergent series by Veronica Roth

5. The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Dead-Tossed Waves, and The Dark and Hollow Places trilogy by Carrie Ryan

6. If I Stay and Where She Went by Galye Forman

7. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

8. Unbroken by Laura Hilenbrand

9. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

10. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Favorite Books - what have you read lately that will have a permanent home on your all-time favorites list? 

If you're out and about today, head on over to Jaime Morrow's website and check out her E post from yesterday on the 80's - it'll make you wonder, how did we survive that decade? 

Sarah Pearson is all about Friends, on her F post today - stop on by!

And Colin D. Smith has a Friday Fives post on his Favorite Fables - say THAT three times fast!

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: Day 5 - Letter E

Day #5 of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, with today's letter, E! And my topic?

E-Books vs. Real Books

This is a topic that can be divided into two teams and two teams only. I believe you're either a fan of e-books, or you're not. 

And me personally?

I just can't do it.

Yes, I have an iPad. I even have the Kindle app loaded on both of my phones. But even with all that, I can't seem to convert to an e-reader. There's just something about a real book - holding it in your hands, cracking it open for the very first time, and smelling the pages and ink. 

Maybe it's because I can't wait to have my own name printed on the cover of one. Or maybe it's just what I've grown up with - and well, I'm pretty darn stubborn and making the change to an e-reader just isn't going to happen. Or maybe it's because I believe in the traditional methods of printing and publishing - something that goes back hundreds of years. But I really think it's as simple as, I'm around technology all day: 2 cell phones, a desk phone, my iPad, and my MAC - then my laptop when I get home - so when I'm getting ready for bed and I pick up my book, the last thing I want is something that requires electricity to function. 

Whatever it is, I can promise you - I will always be a fan of real books. And I will always collect the hard cover editions of all my favorites - even if it means giving up a bedroom to turn it into a library. I'm a real book kind of girl - always have been, and always will be...as long as they keep printing them. Good thing I have that library of mine, just in case.

E-Books vs. Real Books - Which side are you on and why?

Here are some great blogs to check out on the A to Z journey:

My great writerly friend, Huntress, over at Spirit Called is doing a fantabulous movie quote theme - check it out!

Suzanne Lieurance and I have managed to have the same topics - we think great minds think alike!

The beautiful and talented Katy Upperman has been hitting the nail right on the head with all of her posts so far - you've gotta check out yesterday's D post for Delusions!

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: Day 4 - Letter D

Day #4 and the letter D, on the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. And my topic?

Deadlines and DONATE!!!

Holy bajolly, Batman! I originally wrote this post to discuss deadlines, so we'll of course start with that first. But keep reading below, as I've just come across something pretty darn cool, and it's all about donating books to teens - so it fits perfectly with today's letter!

Eh-em. Now on to our originally scheduled post: Deadlines.

Every writer knows, there comes a point when you need to stop kanoodling that manuscript. It's time to reign it all in. The moment has come when you need to focus on the next steps. But let's back up a moment.

While we all know we can re-write our stories and second guess the paths our characters take, a million times - why not help yourself in the long run, by setting deadlines up front?

Before you sit down to write that next chapter - have you thought about your long term goals on where you even want to take this story? Do you have any idea what you'll do, once you've written that last line?

Setting yourself up for success in the beginning, not only makes the journey getting there all the better - but it also gives you something to look forward to. But start out small. Make tiny goals for yourself and set realistic deadlines. Then tie rewards to each one. For instance: Tell yourself you're going to take one week to finish that initial draft of your outline - then on the 7th day, you're going to the book store to buy a new book. Or a new Moleskin journal. Or, ohhh, a fancy new pen. 

But it all starts with setting deadlines for yourself. Because if you're anything like me, you can talk yourself into or out of, anything. And if I don't have a deadline to compete against, then unfortunately, anything bright and shiny that floats by, will have my attention (just call me Dora, from Finding Nemo).

I'm a pretty competitive person by nature - so I've found that setting deadlines and striving to achieve them, really speaks to my alter-Dora ego. And well, a writer can never have too many Moleskin journals, right?

Deadlines - do you set them for yourself? What do you use for rewards?

Now on to the something cool part! I was just over at Jessica Love's website - a wonderful writerly friend of mine - and saw that she's participating in something called Rock the Drop...and what exactly is that you might ask? (Don't be ashamed, I had to ask, too!).

Well, the amazing peeps over at Readergirlz and Figment are hosting the Rock the Drop book event, to support Teen Lit Day on 4/12/12.

All you need to do, is print a copy of the bookplate over there to the right and insert it into a new or gently used book (or 10!).

On April 12th, drop the book(s) (with the bookplate inside) in a public spot - park bench, bus seat, restaurant counter - you get the idea! Snap a picture of your dropped book to share on the Readergirlz facebook page - then tweet the drop at #rockthedrop with all the other lovers of YA books. 

And voila! Lucky finders will see that the new book they've found, is part of ROCK THE DROP!

What a great way to share a YA book with others and help support Teen Lit Day!

A big thanks to Jessica for sharing this wonderful cause - I'll definitely be supporting it, won't you join me?

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: Day 3 - Letter C

Day #3 and the letter C on the Blogging from A to Z Challenge...and my topic is:

Critique Partners

I have some truly amazing critique partners. Seriously. 

Most have been around for a few years, while a couple are more recent - but regardless of our time together, they are all still amazing. 

If you're a writer, then you already know the importance of a good critique partner - and even more so, how a good one is hard to find. And if you're just getting started on sharing your manuscript with others, here are my top 5 reasons why my CP's have been invaluable to me:

1. Each one of my CP's is an actual writer themselves (vs. a relative or friend), and we're all pretty close in the timeline of where we are with our writing and the road to publication.
2. While everyone has a full plate, they all give willingly of their time and expertise - but it's reciprocal, and I owe it to them to do the same for their stories. Lately, I could definitely take note of this point, as I've been slacking on my CP duties!
3. This one's a tough one - but each CP knows when I need the hard truth and when I need to hear encouragement, and they make the encouragement sound like honest praise. None of them comment, just to comment and nothing is said with a spiteful tongue.
4.  They're great for brainstorming new ideas. Sometimes that brilliant idea you have in your head, isn't so brilliant when you flush it out with your CP's - and sometimes, it gets even better!
5. They are my friends - and while I've only met one of them in person - they all care about me and what challenges I face on the long journey of becoming published. I will have no issue calling each one of my CP's out by name, at the back of my book in my acknowledgement section - cause yes, they have been that helpful!

There are many great resources out there, on finding the right CP for you - but here's a post I wrote last year, on an amazing writerly group I belong to, The Write Brained Network. I also happen to spearhead their YA group - YAwesome Writers, where we have a pretty fantastic critique group set up for those writing in the YA / MG genre. Hop on over if you're interested - the more, the merrier!

Critique Partners - what are your thoughts? Do you have any you just couldn't live without?

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: Day 2 - Letter B

Day #2 - letter B, on the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. And my topic?


Now normally I've been a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of writer.

When a story comes to me, I just sit down, and start writing. After all, you never know when your muse will decide to pack up and take a vacation - leaving your fingers to sit idle at the keyboard.

Which is strange, because I'm also a huge list person. We're talking, every single day, I make lists with tiny boxes next to each action item, that gets filled in once I've completed the task at hand. And yes, I will write down a task that I've already completed, if I forgot to add it to begin with, draw the tiny box, and fill it in. Don't judge. :) 

So it's weird I never took this same idea to my writing.

But lately I've kinda changed my tune. 

I'm sure it's because of this uber revision process I'm undergoing with Mr. Agent Man. He's challenged me to sit down and map out my entire story. See where all of my characters are going, find out if they even belong, determine if there are other paths I could be taking, and relook it all from an outside perspective vs. trying to just make it work.

To think about all of the possibilities.

And that's exactly what I've done. With the help of an enourmous white board and various colored dry erase markers and post-its (cause that's how I roll), I'm constantly mapping out my story and brainstorming where it all can go - then I take a picture with my iPad and download it onto one of my writing apps, erase the white board, and start again. 

I thought sitting down and just writing, was amazing - and believe me, when I'm on, I'm on...and I can tap out 20,000 words in one day, easily. But the ideas that have now been unleashed because I've taken it all one step further? Unimaginable. And it just goes to show that sure, sit down and write it all out when you're Muse wants to play - take advantage of that! But when she's off visiting some foreign land without you - take the time to brainstorm all the potential avenues your new story could be taking.

Because you never know what might happen when you unleash your creativity. 

Brainstorming - how do you take the time to do this? And what are your methods? 

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: Day 1 - Letter A

In order to kick-start my blog, well, back into the blog-o-sphere, I've decided to try out the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. And what is that exactly?

A challenge to all bloggers for the month of April to post a blog every day, except Sundays, during the entire month. And to up the bar, each post needs to be thematically written, from A to Z. And since I'm a writer, well, I'm hoping to blog each day on a writing-related topic, all linked to my journey towards publication and the NYT's Best Seller List.

Day one is here (the only Sunday we'll actually post) - so today's letter is A...and my topic:

Agents: Of the Literary Kind.

So what exactly is a Literary Agent?

A literary agent is the in-between buffer between you and the big house publishers. They will try to sell your manuscript to a publishing house, will handle contract negotiations and all the mind numbing legalities that come with it, and will often times also help edit your manuscript to help make it shine. 

Why do you need a literary Agent?

Amongst many things, an agent will shop your manuscript around publishing houses, using their inside knowledge and connections, to place it with the right editor. And believe me, the world between agents and publishers is tight-knit - so why not leverage your agent's connections, vs. trying to tackle that yourself?

And did I mention agents also handle all the minute details of the publishing contract? Unless you have a fine understanding around contracts and negoitiations, I'd recommend leaving that up to your fabulous agent - allowing you to focus on what got you here to begin with: your writing.

Cause like you, your agent's goal is to sell your work - because they don't get paid, if your book isn't sold. 

Does everyone need an Agent?

Of course the answer to that is no, not everyone does. But my dream is to get published using the old fashioned, traditional methods - and I believe having a literary agent will help me to focus on my writing, vs. all of the other stuff that comes with the publication process. Afterall, that's their job - and having someone to back you on your journey to the NYT's best-seller list? Well, I'm all about that.

Do I have an Agent?

Not "officially" yet. But I'm in the process of a massive revision on my current manuscript, THE LUCKY FEW, with an amazing agent - who I've been working with for almost a year now.

Because we haven't officially signed yet, I won't be saying who he is - but I will say, he has been one of my all-time top three agents, for the 5+ years I've been writing and querying agents. It has been a dream to work with him - afterall, how often do you get pages of editorial comments on your work, from a real-live agent? Not to mention, the numerous emails and phone calls we have traded so far = invaluable.

While the revision process has taken a little longer than I expected, it has been incredibly interesting - and I wouldn't give it up for anything. I look forward to the day I can officially post, I have an agent (fingers crossed, it's sometime this year)!

Where'd I find him?

There are many great resources out there - but here are two of my favorites:



Agents: of the Literary Kind...what do you believe? Do you have one or want one? I'd love to hear all about it!