Thursday, April 29, 2010

*Signed* INSIDE OUT WINNER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered our contest to win a signed copy of Maria's Snyder's latest book of awesome, INSIDE OUT!!!!

We've tallied up the results and we have our winner!


Drum roll...



Yay! Congrats! Send us an email with your address and we'll get that to Maria for you right away.

Thanks again everyone. Stay tuned for more contests on the way!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Who Knows Where Thoughts Come From? They Just Appear!

First off, mega brownie points to anyone who can tell me what awesome movie my title is from. (I'm pretty sure I quoted it correctly. I'm darn close, at least.)

But it's a good question. Where DO thoughts come from? Or, more specifically, where do ideas for stories come from?

Something I've heard a lot of people say is they get ideas whil they're in the shower. When the FNC was at the SCBWI Poconos Retreat, we chatted with a woman who said she got so many ideas in the shower that she actually kept a notebook and pen on the edge of her tub!

There was another woman at the conference who said she fixes all the problems in her novel in her sleep. If she can't seem to figure something out for her story, she writes the problem down on a piece of paper right before she goes to sleep. When she wakes up, she has the solution! (I WISH this worked for me!)

Ann Patchett was the keynote speaker at my undergraduate graduation. In her speech she talked about being terrified to get married, because how on earth was she supposed to explain to her husband that her job consisted mostly of lying on the couch staring at the ceiling?! (I still have issues explain this one to my husband. I've even got to the point where I will tell him, when he inevitably asks, "So, what do you want to do?", "I want to stare at the wall," because he seems incapable of understanding concepts like "quiet" and "thinking time." Ah, boys.)

So let's check out our list. So far we've learned that ideas come from the shower, from sleeping, and from staring at stuff.

But... I figured out a new place ideas come from. For me, at least.

I bet you'll never guess. It's not quiet and peaceful like any of the above three.

It's the gym. That's right, the gym. Like sweating your butt off on the treadmill gym. Like water bottles and spandex pants and techno remixes gym.

Doesn't sound very inspiring, does it?

But it was! There I was on the elliptical machine, doing my obligatory 30-minutes-to-stay-healthy workout, listening to Dashboard Confessional (like you do, when you're at the gym...) and suddenly my head was filled with ideas!

During my 30 minute workout, I had ideas for no less than THREE new novels/stories, plus two new scenes of my current novel, AND a really good idea for a blog post/essay.

That's like a new idea every 6 minutes! It was awesome. I had so many ideas I had to write them down on the back of a CVS receipt in my car the moment I left the gym because I knew if I didn't they would all jumble up in my head.

I guess this is a whole new reason to stay healthy, right? I guess it's true--exercise releases endorphines. Endorphines make people happy. Happy people don't just kill their husbands. Or run out of ideas, apparently. (Again, brownie points for telling me what movie that quote is from. And this time I know it's right, because I looked it up.)

So, the gym is Inspiration-Central for me. But what about all of you? Where do YOUR ideas come from?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Interview with Lee Nichols and GIVEAWAY of Hand-Me-Down!

The FNC loves it when a fabulous adult author crosses over to YA, and here to chat with us is Lee Nichols, who's doing just that! 

Lee Nichols is the author of five romantic comedies with Red Dress Ink: Tales of a Drama Queen (2004), Hand-Me-Down (2005), True Lies of a Drama Queen (2006), Wednesday Night Witches (2007) and Reconstructing Brigid (2008). This spring, Lee will be debuting on the YA shelves with the first book in her haunting paranormal trilogy, Deception ~ A Haunting Emma Novel (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, June 2010).

You’re on Twitter, so can you describe DECEPTION in 140 characters or less for us?
Seventeen-year-old girl discovers she can control ghosts. Parents fail her. Falls for guy she can't have. Kicks a lot of evil ghost-butt.

"Ghost-butt" -- love it! What’s the biggest difference you’ve found in writing for teens vs. adults?
The process is really the same for me. The only difference is that my editor calls me on language and emotions that aren’t “authentically teen” and I’m aware when I’m writing that a twelve-year-old might pick up the book.

Where and when do you usually write?
At home, on the couch when my son is at school.

What from your books have you shamelessly stolen from real life? What do you wish you could claim as true?
I do know someone who married a guy who had dated her older sister, which was the premise of Hand-Me-Down. And I wish I could talk to ghosts.

[Pssst! Hey readers, you can win a copy of Hand-Me-Down at the end of the interview!]

If you go back in time to when you were writing your first novel, what one piece of advice would you give yourself?
Enjoy the freedom of no deadline and being able to take the time to get it right.

We'll keep that in mind! What’s the key to a good relationship with your agent and editor?
Airing your grievances to your agent, not your editor (yes, my poor agent!). Trusting her advice--whether it's a problem with your manuscript or any step in the publishing process. And appreciating how hard she works.
I think a good relationship with an editor entails making your deadlines and addressing all the problems she has with the manuscript, even if you don't think they're problems. And also appreciating how hard she works.

Can you describe your revision process for us?
I like to go over line edits first. Fix the little problems written into the margins, like 'I don't think this is the reaction she'd have to this situation,' or 'Make this dialogue, instead of summary.' Then I'm familiar enough with the book again to start addressing the major issues in the revision letter from my editor. Things like "This story line needs work," or "Add another scene on page 54."

What do you see as your greatest strength and greatest weakness as a writer?
Structure and dialogue seem to come easiest. Even though most of my books include a romance, it’s probably the hardest thing for me to get right.

What’s your most recent favorite young adult or middle grade read?
There are a lot of books I’ve enjoyed recently, but I think the most special is Suzanne Collins’s HUNGER GAMES series. Can’t wait for the third.

I think plenty of people would agree with you there! And we can’t resist a creepy final question: In DECEPTION, Emma is a ghostkeeper. Have you ever had a firsthand experience with ghosts or the supernatural?
I’m convinced my best friends’ two-hundred-year-old farmhouse in Maine is haunted. There are shallow graves in the cellar and the attic is beyond spooky—I’m positive ghosts are living in it. If only I could talk to them!

Thanks, Lee!

Alright, everyone, it's your turn ---- we want to hear about your spookiest paranormal encounter in the comments! (Or, yanno, anything else you feel like sharing. We're not picky.)

Want more Lee?
Follow her on Twitter @LeeXNichols or Friend her on Facebook at Lee Nichols. Check out her website and find her on Goodreads under Lee Nichols.

We have a copy of Hand-Me-Down to give away to one lucky reader!
(Only entries in the form below will qualify.)


Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Most Epic List of Blogs Ever!

Remember when we promised we'd provide an epic list of blogs and blog resources from our blogging panel at SCBWI Poconos? it is! And this list IS crazy!

Because there are four of us, we follow a lot of blogs, and yet we can't possibly even come close to listing them all. (Check our profiles for the complete list.) Also, my brain could only handle a certain amount of linkage before it wanted to explode.

So this isn't at all a final list and if we didn't mention your own awesome blog, please please please pimp your blog in the comments section, or pimp a friend's blog who is awesome. So be sure to check the comments for more awesome. We love finding great blogs and just couldn't possibly list them all or anywhere near that, but here's a pretty awesome list for you.

Query Critiques/Advice

KT Literary ("About My Query" feature)

Query Shark

Miss Snark (archives)

Evil Editor

Agent Blogs
(super incomplete -- check out the last list in the post for sites with more linkage)

Dystel and Goderich

Suzie Townsend

Nathan Bransford

Kristin Nelson

Rachelle Gardner

Janet Reid

Mark McVeigh

Sara Crowe

Jill Corcoran

Elana Roth

Book Bloggers

The Story Siren

Bloody Bookaholic

Books By Their Cover

Bookworming in the 21st Century

Edge of Seventeen

Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf

Mindful Musings

Persnickety Snark

Presenting Lenore

Reverie Book Reviews


Steph Su Reads

The Bookologist

The Compulsive Reader

The O.W.L. (middle grade reviews)

The Page Flipper

Tynga's Reviews

Aspiring/Debut Writers

Between Fact and Fiction

Kiersten Writes

Myra McEntire

Elana Johnson

Hey! Teenager of the Year

Lisa and Laura Write

Literary Rambles (fantastic agent spotlights!)


See Heather Write

Sarah With a Chance

Shannon Whitney Messenger

The Babbling Flow of a Fledgling Scribbler

The Insanity of Writerhood

The Secret Adventures of Writer Girl

Writing It Out

Writer Musings (has great advice)

Writing Advice

The Other Side of the Story

Market My Words

Help! I Need a Publisher

The Blood-Red Pencil

Lisa Gardner's Writers' Toolbox

Industry Knowledge/Anonymous Publishing Professionals


Guide to Literary Agents blog (has a long list of links in the left sidebar)

Alice's CWIM Blog

Editorial Anonymous

Editorial Ass

The Rejectionist

Pimp My Novel

Getting Past the Gatekeeper blog

Jacket Whys


Group Blogs

Blue Rose Girls

Books, Boys, Buzz

MTV Books

2010: A Book Odyssey


The Novel Girls

YA Highway

The YA 5

The Elevensies

Blogs with Helpful Lists of Other Blogs -- Agents, Editors, Authors, Book Bloggers, etc.

The YA Book Blog Directory

Kidlitosphere Central

Agent Query

I think we will periodically update this list to include more, but at the moment, temporary brain explosion!

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Various Nefarious Ones: Villains/Antagonists in YA

They make our protagonist's life hell. They provide conflict, raise the stakes, and force tough choices.

We loves them.

Since we already analyzed Gaston from Beauty and the Beast to show what makes a villain truly great, I'm compiling a list of the types of villains/antagonists used in novels.

Here's a rundown of the Various Nefarious Ones:

Queen Bee
The classic high school nemesis.
Movie example: Regina George, Mean Girls
Novel example: Lila Fowler, Sweet Valley High; Blair Waldorf, Gossip Girl

Government/Sekrit Organization
Life's totally unfair.
Movie example: the Paladins, Jumper 
(Yes, it was a terrible movie, but I couldn't think of anything better.)
Novel example: the Capitol, The Hunger Games; Specials, Uglies

You're your own worst enemy.
Movie example: Tom Hansen, (500) Days of Summer
Novel example: Lia, Wintergirls

Remember when you had sleepovers and braided each other's hair?
Movie/TV/comics example: Lex Luthor, Superman/Smallville
Novel example: Lauren Wood, Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood

Unconditional love? Questionable.
TV/novel example: Damon Salvatore, Vampire Diaries
Novel example: Janie's mom, Wake series

The Big Bad
You're a teenager. He's a super villain. Nice odds.
TV example: The Master, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Novel example: Lord Voldemort, Harry Potter

Sucky Circumstances
When shit happens.
Movie example: global warming, The Day After Tomorrow
Novel example: the moon, Life As We Knew It

The Corrupt Establishment
So much for enriching your life.
Movie example: Principal Vernon, The Breakfast Club
Novel/movie example: Miss Trunchbull, Matilda

Psycho Serial Killer
Look out, you're on the list.
Movie/novel example: Bellatrix Lestrange, Harry Potter
Novel example: serial killer, The Body Finder

Any villain/antagonist category I forgot? Where does your nefarious foe fit in? Leave it in the comments!

For a fabulously in-depth look at the character traits that make a dynamic antagonist, check out "Antagonists of many flavors" from Laurel's Leaves.

For more character list goodness, check out FNC posts on:
The Nice Guy

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My latest musical/YouTube addiction. It will be yours, too.

Check out the Vitamin String Quartet channel on YouTube.

They do amazing string versions of a TON of songs.

Like the Beatles' Hard Day's Night

Shania Twain's Man, I Feel Like a Woman

Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall

Death Cab for Cutie's Meet Me on the Equinox

Red Hot Chili Peppers' Snow (Hey Oh)

Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal

Alanis Morrisette's You Oughta Know

Weezer's Buddy Holly

Oasis' Wonderwall

VSQ's website. Because you totally need to buy a CD. Or fifteen.

What's your favorite VSQ tribute?

Monday, April 19, 2010

In which I meet my favorite adult author, Christopher Moore.

The FNC doesn't usually highlight adult authors... but Christopher Moore is so beyond worthy.

He's the bestselling author of absurdly hilarious books with a cult-like following. They have some of the coolest titles around.

Island of the Sequined Love Nun
Practical Demonkeeping
The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove
The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror

I am a proud, proud member of the Christopher Moore cult of awesome. He's currently on tour for his latest book, Bite Me -- the third book in his hilarious vampire trilogy (Bloodsucking Fiends and You Suck = sparkle-free amazingness) -- and he stopped by Chester County Books and Music in nearby West Chester, PA.

(The FNC also met Laurie Halse Anderson and Sarah Dessen there last fall, and fellow blogger Joanne from My Brain on Books works there. We heart that store!)

Anyway, Sara and I are HUGE Christopher Moore fans, so of course we went!

But here's why Moore is so awesome -- he turned my reluctant reader Future Husband into an avid fan, and Moore was the first author FH ever got me hooked on. (He never lets me forget it, either.)

FH was like a giddy schoolgirl when I told him about the signing.

Well over a hundred people showed up, and Moore spent about an hour talking and answering questions.

I didn't take any notes from his talk (bad, bad blogger, I know), but he was just as quirky and entertaining as his books. From a writer's perspective, I loved how obvious it was that he loved writing and had FUN writing. He talked about some of the travel research he did, specifically for Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. And he talked about his hat. And why he doesn't sell as well as Dan Brown. And how he occasionally sets out to write a "normal" book, but then he gets bored and throws in some random absurd paranormal element, like Roberto the talking fruit bat in Island of the Sequined Love Nun. (I freaking love Roberto.)

One thing he said that made me squee with vindicated joy is how he is an incredibly slow writer, but because of that, he barely needs to revise. I wanted to jump up and down and go "I'm a slow writer TOO!!!" Except I, um, still need to revise. But still!

And then he took his time chatting with everyone as he signed their books and took pictures.

Here's a pic of FH and me with Moore.

(I was so entertained watching Moore's different expressions in the pictures he took, and his lack of a smile is even funnier because of the giant cheesers FH and I have.)

What's so awesome about Moore is his wide appeal. The audience's age range was from young teens to retired people. Men and women. Joe Normal and unwashed hippie types. All with PILES of Moore books. (Another notable is Fool, Moore's take on King Lear.)
So if you're not already a Moore fan, I'd recommend starting with A Dirty Job. (The audiobook, read by Fisher Stevens, is hands down the best audiobook I've ever listened to.) If that doesn't strike your fancy, try to vampire trilogy (also with a great audio narration).
If you're a Moore fan -- what's your favorite book? And how much do you wish you could meet the Emperor of San Francisco?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Before I Fall Gushing

This is not a review of Before I Fall, the New York Times Best Selling Debut by Lauren Oliver. This is a GUSHING.


I am in total awe of this novel. I can't get it out of my head. I couldn't reach the end fast enough and I can't stop myself from wanting to go back and start all over again. The writing was flawless, the characterization breathtaking and the drama and tension and the play on all of my emotions blew me away.

There are some novels that are like a great escape, or throw you into a world you want to be a part of, or that inspire you, or make you laugh or cry.

Before I Fall has those qualities but this is the sort of novel that makes you appreciate being alive, makes you question your choices and want to be better. Throughout the novel a certain question is posed or brought to your mind just from the subject matter--what day would you want to live over and over again? Do you have any days that are like that? Any moments? What makes a moment special enough to exist in forever? To make you want to? It's a rare novel that can affect me and make me question myself so deeply.

Plus I have not rooted so strongly for a character like Sam in a long time, nor have I been so heartbroken.

Seriously, go and read this book. I LOVED IT!

Here's the product description from below.

What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?
Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.
Instead, it turns out to be her last.
Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

Ok, now go read it--if you still haven't!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Want to Come to a Chat with Arthur Levine?

So Arcadia University, where all the FNC girls met in class is hosting a talk with Arthur Levine, (aka the American editor of Harry Potter) that's free to the public to attend. Here are the details below.

A Conversation with Arthur Levine

Friday, May 7th, at 3:00 p.m.
in the
Mirror Room
of Grey Towers Castle, Arcadia University

Come hear the publisher who brought Harry Potter to America talk about the world of publishing for aspiring children’s and YA writers! Learn what a major publishing house is looking for from its authors!

A book sale will follow Mr. Levine’s presentation and the question-and-answer period.

This event is open to one and all, and requires no prior registration! Don’t miss this valuable opportunity!

And don't worry if you can't make it, or live faraway. You know you can count on us to have a totally in depth report afterwards. And pictures!
Also, if you want to read a silly story about how this talk came to involves me walking Arthur to the bathroom...check out my other blog.

When "done" means "done." How do you know?

I typed "The End" in my novel way back in early December.


Silly me thought I'd be done my revisions by February, at the latest.

I must've forgotten that I'm a perfectionist. I must've forgotten that life (ahem, retinal surgery, engagement, househunting) gets in the way sometimes.

Here I am, mid-April, finally heading toward the finish line. But I see it, a shiny ribbon that I'm so close to breaking through.

I'm quite tired of saying the phrase "All I have left."

All I have left is cutting 20,000 words. (That took two rounds.)
All I have left is checking my character and plot arcs.
All I have left is perfecting my hook.
All I have left is reading it aloud for line edits. (Four chapters to go!)
All I have left is revising my synopsis.
All I have left is polishing my query letter.
All I have left is finalizing my agent list.

"All I have left" took me five months.

And it's not like my first draft was rough. Nope, after two years, that sucker was pretty darn clean and beautiful, since I revise as I go, and I've rewritten each chapter two to seven times to get it right.

I think I'll be done this month. For real, this time. And it's a little scary. Obsessively perfectionist Donna kinda sorta WANTS to add more to the "All I have left" list, because technically there's ALWAYS more you can do.

But somewhere inside, I KNOW I'm ready. I've gone through this book and analyzed it from every possible angle, looked at the big picture and squinted at it with a microscope, read it as a reader and as a writer -- plus I've gotten feedback from the FNC ladies every step of the way, and heard from a few beta readers. And I've even reread a bunch of writing blog posts I've bookmarked to refresh their excellent advice.

It's time to let go.

Thankfully, I make settlement on April 30th, so there will be plenty of things to distract me from my separation anxiety.

Plus, I have a shiny new idea. We have a date on May 1st. It's completely different from my current WIP, and I'm thrilled to start the rollercoaster ride all over again.

Which just goes to show -- every novel is a first novel.

Help! How do you know you're finished?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Vampire Diaries Episode 17: Let the Right One In

Opening Scene
Super scary thunder and lightning are apparently the culprits behind this opening scene. The big bad storm has woken up Elena—but hey! We’ve finally returned to the way the show used to start, with Elena waking up in bed! Does anyone see her diary? Does ANYONE keep a diary? Should we put out a search for her alleged diary?

And now we’re in Jeremy’s room and he’s with Anna and she LOVES storms because they’re bad and scary and well, she’s a vampire, the very definition of bad and scary.

Jeremy: Will I sparkle when I’m a vampire?

Anna: Dude, you’ve seen me in the sun. It just brings out my highlights.

Jeremy: Ok well will I be able to read minds as a vampire?

Anna: I am NOT vampirizing someone whose entire basis of knowledge for vampires came from the movies.

Jeremy: Not just from movies. I watched Buffy!

Anna: OMG! Buffy was a movie first, then a TV show second. What kind of desperate vampire-wannabe are you?

Elena: Knocks on the door

Anna: Super Vampire Invisibility

Elena: Can you help me check the windows? There’s a storm coming.

Jeremy: Shouldn’t Aunt Jenna be doing that?

Elena: She’s not in this episode.

Jeremy: Oh. Is Bonnie?

Elena: No

Vamp Farm

Bad A$$ Vampire: Can I go to the hospital and get us more blood?

Pearl: Not after you disobeyed me and got some vampire killed. You’re grounded!

B.A.V.: Why don’t we just go out and kill everyone?

Pearl: Stop trying to remind me of what a Bad A$$ you are. Remember the spoon?!?! Next time I use a spork! Now sit there and sharpen your stake and stop holding grudges or being resentful or wanting revenge. They’re not trendy this year. Watch Oprah! We’re above that.

B.A.V.: Sharpens Stake: I’ll show you what a Bad A$$ I am. Boys!

Houston, the B.A.V. has minions!

Salvatore Mansion

Elena: I can’t believe you agreed to help Pearl!

Damon: Well she’s kind of a scary bi-atch and she poked my eyeballs out! Plus she’s going to give me Katherine.

Elena: Right, of course, because why would Damon Salvatore ever do ANYTHING unless he had an ulterior motive, or it involved him losing his shirt and dancing around.

Damon: Whoa are you liked pissed me at me or something?

Elena: It’s only been one episode since I discovered you vampirized my mom, plus I just found out 27 previously entombed vampires are on the loose and I look like the woman they most hate and want to kill. So yeah, I’m pissed at you. What are you going to do? Wiggle your eyebrows?

Damon: Snark is not a good look on you, Elena. I’m going to go. Call me when you’re pouting sexily again.

Stefan: Ok, now that the passive aggressive sexual repression portion of the show has passed…Elena, I want you to stay here and stay safe while we go and kill Pearl and her vampires.

Elena: No. I can’t stay here by myself and act helpless. Plus what if you’re not safe?

Stefan: You’re a weak human, what can you do? Anyway you don’t need to foreshadow the fact that I won’t be safe in this episode—it was in the trailer. Plus I’ll have my insanely self-serving lunatic bastard of a brother Damon to protect me.

Elena: You are SO screwed.

The Only Restaurant in Mystic Falls

Jeremy: Here, Anna, do you want to wear my bracelet?

Anna: Oh where’s it from?

Jeremy: Stefan’s Anti-Damon collection, limited spring edition

Anna: Ummmm no thanks. I uh…only wear  vintage Anti-Damon from before 1983. Also don’t tell Elena that we hang out.

Jeremy: Why? Its not like she knows you’re a vampire or you kidnapped her and Bonnie that one episode. Hey do you know Bonnie? Have you seen her lately.

Anna: I need to go, right now!

Matt: So I told my mom off and I was like Mom, you need to be an adult and make casserole and stop showing cleavage. And she was like ok.

Caroline: Well, hopefully she’ll do it and it’ll last and some tragedy involving your dead vampirized sister won’t send her into crazytown.

Matt: Aha. So be really careful when you’re driving in this really bad storm to your gay dad’s boyfriend’s friend’s son’s cousin’s hermit’s gerbil’s zookeeper’s niece’s birthday party.

Caroline: Ok I will. I won’t talk on the while driving or get into any car accidents at all.

Salvatore Mansion

Stefan: I’m hungry.

Damon: I’ve got soccer mom, track coach, and tri delt in the fridge? There’s also some librarian and a hint of bus driver.

Stefan: It’s cool. I’m in the mood for squirrel.

You know I just realized, we have NEVER seen Stefan hunting or eating and what does he like? Does he like squirrel? Does he eat deer? Bear? Lion? Snake?

Stefan: I’ll be right back.

Oh man…here comes the kidnappers. Stefan is running through the woods with his hood up and finds two other vampires coming at him with their hoods up and then the B.A.V. is there with his hood up and it looks like all vampires own the same raincoat and...STEFAN-STOMACH-STAKE! Ow!

At Elena’s
Elena’s Cell Phone: Ignores a call from Damon

Elena’s Front Door: Let’s Damon in

Elena: Is pissed to see Damon there

Damon: Why aren’t you taking my calls?

Elena: Because you killed my mom!

Damon: Stefan is missing! He went hunting for squirrels and then he never came back.

Elena: You think the squirrels ate him?

Damon: NO! I think he’s been kidnapped by the B.A.V. and is probably locked up and being tortured without his shirt on at the vampire farm.

Elena: Let’s storm the Bastille!

At the Vampire Farm

Damon: Where’s my brother?

B.A.V.: Minions! Show Damon his brother.

The minions show Stefan looking very tortured and pained and…ok, he looks kind of hot….

Then the B.A.V. compels Mrs. Gibbons to never let Damon inside, the minions stab Stefan again and the B.A.V. gives us the speech about how he starved for 145 years and he wants revenge and torture made him crazy and by the way he’s a Bad A$$ and did he mention he was insane and say good bye to Stefan because we’re totally going to kill him in the worst way possible. Have a nice day.

Damon: Super vampire run to Elena in the car: So uh…Stefan’s going to die and I can’t get him out of there.

Elena: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111111111111111111111111111111111

Vamp Farm: Vampire Torture Room

--Stefan: Is tied up and shirtless!

Frankie: Is drooling
—Ok back to the recap—

Aw poor Stefan, he’s tied up in Anti-Damon ropes and their dropping Anti-Damon in his eyes with vampire eye droppers and rubbing Anti-Damon across his chest and—

Harper: Stop! Stop this madness. We are vampires. We don’t torture!

The B.A.V.: Has Harper tied up: Dude, this sense of justice thing you have is totally unbecoming of your vampire status.

Mystic Falls High School

Elena and Damon are back and school and they are there to seek help from…

Alaric, AlAric, AlarIc

Damon: So your magic ring brought you back to life, and I’m guessing that means you can’t die, so if you go break into a vampire farm and save my brother, it’ll totally work, and probably suck for you, but I don’t think you’ll die…much.

Alaric: WHY would I help you? You vampirized my wife!

Damon: I slept with her too.

Alaric: Not helping…

Elena: OMG PLEASE Mr. Salzman! It’s Stefan! STEFAN! You have to help us, he was always nice to you.

Alaric: No!

Damon: Help us and I’ll lead you to Isabel

Alaric: Fine.

The Only Restaurant in Mystic Falls

Jeremy desperately continues to convince Anna to turn him.

Jeremy: So I wrote up this list of all the reasons why you should make me a vampire. 1) I have super dark emo hair that I just died black. 2) I have the perfect jaw structure to support sexy fangs. 3) I get sunburn. 4) I look good in a cape.

Anna: Vampires don’t wear capes. I’ll only turn you if you swear your undying love for me and tell me you want to spend forever with me and then I’ll say isn’t it enough for you to live a normal happy life with me and you’ll be like I’m dying, it’s not enough, I can’t be parted from you ever, EVER! Don’t leave me, turn me now, and then we can married and then we can have sex and…

Jeremy: We can do that now if you want.

Anna: I’m not turning you!

Then Pearl shows up and is like let’s go Annabelle and they try to leave but Tyler-Douchebag and his dad Mayor Lockwood has arrived and is all like OH No! Don’t go out there. It’s raining! Raining! People die in the rain! And Pearl’s like, honey, I’m a 400 year old vampire of awesome. I can handle the big bad rain. Bit then she’s like oooooh, you’re Mayor Lockwood, well what do you know, let’s talk. And then Tyler totally nails his dad for staring at her ass.

Mystic Falls High School: Super Secret Rescue Mission

Damon: Ok, so Alaric you get into the farm and get me in, then get out and Elena, you stay in the car.

Elena: I’m going with you! You can’t do this by yourself--there'd be too many scenes without me!

Damon: I have to do this by myself.

Elena: Just because your muscles look good when you’re fighting, doesn’t mean you deserve an entire scene to yourself! I’m the star of this show damnit!

Damon: I have more twitter followers than you!

Elena: I’m on the cover of Seventeen!

Damon: I’m in U.S. Weekly!

Alaric: Are you two done yet?

Damon + Elena: NO!

Damon: Look I get it, he jumps you jump, he’s a vampire you become a vampire, he dies you die, he wants to watch Monday night football, you make the nachos.

Elena: What are you—are you crying?

Damon: I. Can’t. Protect. You. Too. *tear* I need to get in, get out and know you’re safe! *tear*

Elena: Oh Damon… Crying scenes are my specialty! Stop being emotional.

Alaric: You two are weird.

Damon: You’re helping your wife’s murderer.

OMG….the intensity is like whoa and um….I LOVE DAMON!

The Back Roads of Mystic Falls
So Caroline is totally on a detour through the woods…seriously Caroline, how hard is it to stay on the road? It’s just rain! And not only is she lost and detoured but she’s on her cell phone. CAROLINE! You have been bitten by a vampire and vampirized like a snack and possessed and kidnapped and head-slammed! Use common sense. Hang up the phone. And….her wheel is stuck in the big bad mud and she has lost her cell phone signal. Caroline… why am I not surprised?

Vamp Farm: Super Secret Rescue Mission

Alaric: Oh um…hi, ummm, my car broke down in the storm and my cell phone is dead and can I come in and use your phone and call for help?

Minions: ATTACK!

Alaric: I am Alaric, AlAric, AlarIC—vampire slayer!

Then Alaric brings Mrs. Gibbons outside to Damon and…

Damon: Vampire-Neck-Snap

Mrs. Gibbons: Is dead

Damon: Can go inside

The Secret Rescue Mission: Is On

Back inside the farm, Damon is totally going around on a B.A.V. minion killing spree and Alaric goes to find Elena and she is…GONE.

So then we find out Elena has totally snuck out of the car and decided to go sneak into the farm herself because she’s totally stronger than like 10 vampires…yeah…right…and so then she’s like in this cellar thing and some vampire is there and he’s going to vampirize her and then…

Damon: Elena Rescue Mission!

Damon: WHAT is wrong with you?

The Back Roads of Mystic Falls

Rules for surviving a Kevin Williamson horror show.
Rule #1 Do Not Get Out of Your Car!

Rule #2 Do Not Lose Your Cell Phone Signal

Rule #3 Do Not Listen To Rap Music

Rule #4 Do Not Get Out of Your Car

Rule #5 Do Not Emit Helpless Girl Noise!

Rule #6 OMG for the love of all that is Vampiric, Caroline STAY IN YOUR CAR!!!

And then…she falls down a hill and grabs hold of….

OMG! She’s uncovered Vickie’s dead body.

Vickie’s Dead Body: Man, it took you long enough to discover me!

At the Only Restaurant:

Pearl: Annabelle I forbid you from seeing Jeremy Gilbert again! His family entombed us.

Anna: But he’s different mom and he likes me.

Pearl: Do you think you’re in some star crossed romance between a human and a vampire?


Pearl: Well I’ve seen Twilight and let me tell you…these stories only work when the guy’s the vampire.

Anna: But what about… *thinks of a movie where the girl is a vampire…and…can’t*

Then Pearl vampire-slaps her and Anna texts Jeremy. Girl! He's just not that into you.

Jeremy’s Cell Phone: The Vamping is On!

Vampire Farm: Torture Chamber

Stefan: Th—ank…you…Har—per…for…trying to heeeeelp me.

Harper: This sucks, weaksauce!

Then Damon and Elena burst in! And Damon cuts Stefan down and spares Harper on Stefan’s wishes and Elena pulls the stakes out of his legs—ouch—and drags Stefan away while Damon sticks around the kill some more minions and fight the B.A.V. if he can!

Outside the Farm:

Elena: Stefan, can you make it?

Stefan: Is weak

Elena: Drops Stefan

Elena’s Hand: IS BLEEDING OMGizzles!!!!!!!!

Stefan: Eyes Elena’s Bloody Hand!!

OMG is Stefan finally going to drink her blood!!!! FINALLY! I’ve only been waiting for this to happen for like 7 episodes!!!!!!

Meanwhile Damon is fighting the B.A.V. and…Alaric has returned to help him and Pearl and her vamps are returning and…Alaric…you have a strange sense of justice, but I kind of love that these two are working together.

Now Elena is DRAGGING Stefan to the car and he’s soooo weak and she’s soooo bleeding and omg just feed him already! Ok, we’re in the getaway car and…where are the car keys?

B.A.V.: Window Smash!

Elena: STEFAN!!!!

AAAAAH! The B.A.V. is continuing to increase his B.A.V. status and beating the crap out of Stefan and stakes him!

Elena: Stakes the B.A.V.

Stefan: Is DEAD! Ok, he looks dead. He can’t really be dead…because the show would be over, but OMG he looks DEAD!

La Casa De Matt

OMG, Matt’s mom is HOME! And she is dressed…like a mom…and…she made a casserole and…oh crap this whole new mom thing is going to last like 5 minutes and…

The Door Bell: Rings

Caroline and Officer Forbes: Are at the door

Matt’s Mom: Can I help you?

Officer Forbers: I’m just here to put a stop to the new you. Vickie’s dead. I'll pour the vodka.

Matt’s Mom: Noooooooooooooooooooooooo

Matt: I’m never eating casserole again!

Vampire Farm: The Woods

Elena: Stefan!!!! WAKE UP!!!!!!!!

Stefan: Gurgle-blink-tongue flop

Elena: Stefan! Stay with me!

The B.A.V.: In true bad a$$ fashion is not dead and starting to wake up

Elena: Stefan, you have to drink my blood!

Stefan: *Cough* No…*Sputter* Stop… *Tremor* Don’t tempt me…

Elena: Drink it, b*tch!

Stefan: Drinks her blood

And man, he is REALLY drinking

Elena’s Eyes: Flutter

Stefan: Blood Slurp

Elena: Ok, you can stop now…Stefan…you can stop…

Edward Cullen: Find the will! Find the will to stop—she needs you. OMG stop Stefan, you’re killing her!

Stefan: SLURP!

Edward Cullen: Does not approve!

The B.A.V.: Knocks Edward Cullen out and comes for Stefan

Stefan: Jumps at the last second and totally kills the B.A.V….again…and again…

Elena: Stefan you can stop, he’s like really dead now.

And Stefan totally goes vamp face on her and snarls and Elena is like dude! WTF?!?!? You look scary! And then Stefan pouts.

Salvatore Mansion

Elena looks introspectively in the mirror because the poor girl is petrified of her boyfriend now that she saw his true vamp face and he’s all pouty and she’s acting distant and then he apologizes that she had to see that and thanks for saving my life today even though what you did was totally crazy insane and almost made you dead.
Stefan: I’m sorry you saw that.

Elena: It’s my fault, I made you drink my blood.

Frankie: *cringes* Ugh…are we really going there?

Elena’s Cell Phone: Rings

Jeremy: Vickie is DEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111

La Casa De Matt
Everyone is there and everyone is crying over Vickie! Even Douche-bag Tyler is there and he shares a look with Jeremy that continues to make me suspicious of his sexuality and also whether or not he’s a werewolf

Matt’s Room

Caroline: I made you coffee

Matt: I need to be alone!

Caroline: Is there anything I can do? Anything at all? Like…anything at all?

Matt: Go away!

Elena: MATT!

Matt: ELENA!

Matt and Elena: Super Hug


Caroline: That was supposed to be my scene!

At the Only Restaurant:
Damon: Dude, today was awesome, me and you fighting together. We could be a duo, we could be the D.A. Damon and Alaric or…oh! “S” squared! Salzman and Salvatore! Vampire killers!

Alaric: Damon Face Punch

Damon: Shakes it off

At the Gilbert’s

Jeremy totally rips up all of his vampire research in a mad fit and Anna comes and then she realizes the truth: Jeremy wanted to be a vampire for Vickie, not Anna.

The Vampire Turning: Has Been Canceled…maybe...

Salvatore Mansion:

Damon: What is that mysterious slurping noise?

Stefan: Is covered in blood

Damon: You ate my soccer mom! AND the crew pilot!

Stefan: And the girl scout leader's mom :-(

Damon: Dude…this is messed up

Stefan: This is going to make me fat, isn't it?


Stefan: Epic Emo Sigh

Bonnie: Can I be in the next episode please??????????????????????????

Monday, April 12, 2010

Crescendo Cover!

Just in case you were living under a rock this weekend...or are just signing online...


The cover for Crescendo, the sequel to Hush, Hush by Becca Fizpatrick was revealed on Saturday.

It is amazingly gorgeous, isn't it? I don't know if I prefer this one to the original...I mean, shirtless Patch...but this has a lot of atmosphere and beauty. Becca, you are SO lucky with your covers!!!

And here's the description from Becca's website!

Nora should have known her life was far from perfect. Despite starting a relationship with her guardian angel, Patch (who, title aside, can be described as anything but angelic), and surviving an attempt on her life, things are not looking up. Patch is starting to pull away and Nora can't figure out if it's for her best interest or if his interest has shifted to her arch-enemy, Marcie Millar. Not to mention that Nora is haunted by images of her father and she becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened to him that night he left for Portland and never came home.
The further Nora delves into the mystery of her father's death, the more she comes to question if her Nephilim bloodline has something to do with it as well as why she seems to be in danger more than the average girl. Since Patch isn't answering her questions and seems to be standing in her way, she has to start finding the answers on her own. Relying too heavily on the fact that she has a guardian angel puts Nora at risk again and again. But can she really count on Patch or is he hiding secrets darker than she can even imagine?

The wait for November 16th feels like forever!!!

Please please please Book Gods, send us an arc:-)

What do you guys think? Do you love it? Does it surpass the original?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The SCBWI-EPA Pocono Retreat Live Blogging Roundup

Here's a quick roundup of links to all the posts related to our Pocono Retreat live blogging weekend conference extravaganza!

Workshop Breakdown
Interview with Agent Elana Roth

Twitter Updates

Faculty Introductions and First Page Sessions
Sandy Asher's Keynote Speech
Author Intensive: Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Judy Schachner's Keynote Speech

The Picture Book Process
The Elusive Hook
Books from the Beginning to the End
Whose Story is This? And Why? Are You Sure?

Writing Historical Fiction
Picture Books Outside the Box
Enter the Internet: Let's Talk Promotion

Picture Book Revision
It's All in the Voice
The Great Query Caper

Setting the Scene
Break Time!

Bloggers' Panel
Authors' Panel

The End!

PS: Epic List of Recommended Blogs

And because we don't believe in all work and no play...

We had a chance to relax for a couple hours on Saturday afternoon after the sessions. A break! A real, live break!

This is Steve's break time face.
(Steve is the son of Marilyn Hershey, SCBWI-EPA's Regional Advisor. We heart Steve. Hi Steve!)

We ladies decided to grab some wine and wander the grounds of Shawnee Inn to enjoy the beautiful weather and take a hiatus from all the technology!

Sara and Janine by the water.

Plants growing by the water.

Sara, Janine, and Frankie walking along the deserted golf course.

Then we saw this sign.

And two seconds later, we saw golfers. Surly ones. They told us in their surly way to go back to the hotel. And that was pretty much the end of our grand adventure.

That's ok, we needed to refill our wine glasses anyway.

Joke's on you, surly golfers. Joke's on you.

The End!

Ok everyone, the conference is over and we're heading home.

We had a great weekend and met some fabulous writers and illustrators, and we hope you enjoyed.

Thanks to all the speakers and session leaders who attended and gave us the excellent info to share.

And a HUGE THANK YOU to Marilyn Hershey and Mary Ann Scott -- without them, this conference wouldn't be the awesome experience it is.

Want more SCBWI-EPA?

Bloggers' Panel

Could it be more awkward to record a panel when... WE... were the panel? hehe.

We're still learning about blogging, but it was great to share our knowledge thus far with the conference-goers, who asked awesome questions!

Thanks to the wonderful Joanne of My Brain on Books for taking the notes as we jabbered on about blogging!
Action shot of us jabbering on.

How did you get started?
We met in a children's writing workshop course in college, and our critiques worked so well for one another that we decided to continue meeting after the class ended! It's been over two years since.
For the blog, we got the idea to share our experiences as aspiring writers (reading, writing, navigating the industry, and the rest of life) at the 2009 Pocono Retreat -- so that others can come along on our journey and add their experiences to the mix!

Can you describe your physical webspace?
Alright, this answer's a bit more obvious to you guys, because you're um.... on the site. But we operate through and decided on a 3-column layout (code from The Cutest Blog on the Block) because the two-column layout seemed too cluttered on the side.
On the left side, we keep links to our most popular posts/post categories and post archives for our readers' easy accessibility. On the right side, we keep contact information and our follower boxes. Simple!

What content do you have?
Our main features are character, plot, and topic studies (i.e. Disney character studies, parents in YA, religion in YA); recaps of conferences and book signings; book reviews and co-reviews (two-person conversational reviews); author interviews and guest posts; Vampire Diaries episode spoof recaps; and general posts with writing advice and about our writing journeys.

How many hits have you received since you've been blogging and during this conference?
Well, our page views have doubled for the live blogging days! Yay!
There are a few ways to gauge your readership with blogs. We use a basic stat counter at the bottom of our main page that logs page views (and tells us which countries our readers are from!), but for more detail we use Google Analytics, a free service that tracks EVERYTHING about your site -- readership, traffic, length of site stay, most popular posts -- EVERYTHING. And it's free! Also, the easiest way to gauge readership is by checking out followers. In less than a year, we jumped about 500 followers, which is SO exciting. We recently added the ability for people to follow us via Facebook, so we're building that element. Lastly, people can read us via an RSS/email feed.

How often do you post? Do you go on daily? How do you stay consistent, keep the content going?
Because there are four of us, we use a shared (and free!) Google Calendar to note who's posting when so we don't overlap or have a gap. It's semi-planned but also spontaneous. We basically try to post at least four times/week and try not to go more than two days without a post. Some posts take two hours to write, others take five minutes, so we balance the content as much as possible. We all contribute, but some of us do more than others, which is fine as long as we have frequent quality content!
* Note: We didn't mention this, but it's great that you can schedule posts to publish in the future. So if you want to write your posts for a week in one day, you can!

Are you getting responses that you have to respond to?
We get up to 30 comments on a really popular post, but we could have 300 page views for a day but only 4 comments. Which we understand, because we read a ton of blogs ourselves but don't have time to post a comment on each. We do respond to each comment, which continues the conversation of the post. It's intriguing to see which posts generate the most enthusiastic responses -- some of them are ones that took a lot of time to write, like "Rounding the Bases" in YA and a Hunger Games plot study, but others took five minutes, like I Now Pronounce Thee...Incorrectly and 2009: Year of the Twilight Babies.
* Note: Didn't mention this, but it's helpful to encourage a response by posting a specific question for your readers to answer. We love feedback!

Do you have any advertising on the site? Do you get income from it?
We have the option to include Google ads, but we choose not to, so we get no income from the blog. Not to be cheesy, but the "income" for us is getting the occasional ARC, or getting a link from Laurie Halse Anderson after she met us, or getting a link from Publishers Weekly -- anything that increases the reach of our blog.

If you had to honestly appraise, do you spend more time on the blog than writing?
We all spend more time on our writing, but it can be tough to maintain the balance and not get too sucked in to blogging. Basically, you need to know your limits. Blogging is still writing, just like keeping a journal, and it can increase your overall writing productivity because it keeps your mind in that writing space.
A lot of established bloggers will announce a short hiatus of a week or two when life overwhelms, and readers understand that it's not a job, it's what you do for no money in your "spare" time.
Also, the time you spend blogging isn't a waste of time -- it's an investment in your career. And it's a nice change of pace from writing novels because you have instant gratification with comments, as opposed to working for two years on something that may never get published!

How personal do you get with your posts?
You don't want to make yourself vulnerable. There's a fine line between not being a robot and keeping your privacy. If we post something personal about our lives, we keep it relatively surface and link it back to writing. We want our readers to feel like they know us without oversharing, and while staying professional.
Sample posts: Janine's writing space, Sara's triathalon, Donna's househunting, Frankie's... entire personal blog.

When you do book reviews, how do you handle negative opinions of books?
Our reviews are supportive. We don't review books we don't like -- which is fine, because we're not a book blogging site. And we'd never ever lie in a review, but if there's an element of a book that we recommend that we're not fans of, we just focus on the elements that we loved. No book is perfect, but if we find it worth reading, we'll happily endorse it!

How do you use the blog to do research on teens for your own book? Or to market yourself to teens?
We don't actively try to do research on teens via the blog, but we learn a lot from our teen commenters in their responses to our posts. We haven't quite left the teen mentality!
For marketing ourselves to teens -- Any blog whose purpose is purely marketing won't be successful. You need to offer your audience something worthwhile. Technically, our audience is writers, with a more specific focus toward aspiring writers of children's books. But if you look at our followers, they're writers and non-writers of all ages -- teens, teachers, librarians, book bloggers, YA readers, authors, etc. Any and every connection you make to people on the blogosphere is useful, whether or not they're the target audience of what you're writing. We just aim to build our community of FNC-ers!

Lastly, someone asked about the blogs we found most useful... and we're going to concoct a list when we get home for you so that it's as complete as possible. So stay tuned for that!

[Update from the future: LINK to epic list of recommended blogs.]

Hopefully you found our answers helpful, and feel free to ask more questions in the comments or add your input and knowledge to the mix!

Author's Panel

So we just did our bloggers panel and WHEW! We survived. So I guess after 2 years of attending these conferences I've finally ended up on the other side. Which I have to say is pretty fun, if not a little nerve wracking.

But now we're sitting for another panel, one we're not on! Whew! Though hopefully we will find ourselves there soon.

Anyway a few of the attendees who have books published or soon to be published are now in the hot seat ready to answer questions.

My mind is still kind of whirling from ours, and Donna is sitting next to me working on it, but I'll do my best to report.

Litttle known fact: Firefly is the official insect of PA....I know you wanted to know that;)

Sandy Asher is reading a really wonderful letter from a student she visited at a school, thanking her for inspiring her to write. It's really touching....we should all be lucky to receive letters like that one day.

Another writer is relaying a story about a reader who kept an early copy of her book when she went through a very rough time in her life. It's amazing how much books can touch a person, I guess this is why we're all writing.

Someone from the audience asked if the authors on the panels have agents--most do not. But Judy Schachner just sold the option rights for a movie, so she does have a Hollywood lawyer.

Judy Schachner is telling us about how much pressure kids put on her to write more Skippyjon Jones books.

Someone just asked what was the most important thing that led to being published?

--Persistence!!! Keep going!


--Be Prolific! Keep writing, don't just write one story and stop.

--Coming to conferences--you meet great friends, network, make connections, meet your future editors or agents.

--Collect your ideas, inspiration can come from all of areas of your life.

Ok well, we have to go pack our room up and then eat!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Setting the Scene

Because scene-setting is key to any good story, I wandered the Shawnee Inn's grounds on this gorgeous day and took some pictures for you!

Welcome to the Shawnee!

Daffodils on the Delaware River

Writers enjoying nature ... quite solitary, we are.

Too pretty not to show a close-up.

Last daffodil picture, I promise.

Frankie blogging for you guys on the porch!

That's all for now. We'll be back later!

The Great Query Caper with Agent Elana Roth

Elana receives 10-20 queries by email daily

She's been an agent for 2 years (so relatively new).

She reads queries in the order they came in.

And she reads about 20-30 queries in the morning over coffee in the morning after she wakes up.

According to Elana, when you read so many you start to see the same thing over and over again.

So for this workshop, Elana is giving everyone about 20 queries and 15 minutes to read them and we have to reject 15 at least and request 5--which is a way higher number than would normally be requested.

---Going off to read 20 queries....omg...---

So I just read 20 queries and my eyes hurt! They hurt! Ah! I could never be an agent, wow!

If you can tell Elana your hook really quickly--right up front--the rest of the query isn't as important. A strong hook can count for a lot.

The writing is very important--can you construct your sentences well? Are you able to express your ideas clearly? 

Sometimes we get so obsessed with the content in the query that our writing isn't always the strongest.

Shorter letters are always better. Be clear, concise and to the point.

And don't forget that your query is a business letter. So don't have your animal narrator write it, because animals don't write business letters. You do!

Having a strong voice in the query lets the agent know that you are a strong writer. If your book is humorous you shouldn't have to say your book is humorous, it should come through in your writing.

Don't go overboard on the sell--meaning, don't include a whole paragraph as to why the agent is perfect for your novel. Let your hook and query speak for itself!

It's a one-page letter. It shouldn't be harder to write than your 60,000 (or ummmm 120,000) word novel.

Elana is open to hearing you're planning a series, but...most likely she'll shop only one book for you.

Donna spotted the query for one of Elana's clients whose book is out there (Pam Bachorz's Candor). Nice, Donna!

Two queries were requested and the writers signed with agents other than Elana because she passed them onto other agents whose tastes better matched the books. <--That's nice to know.

Elana also mentions that agents do A LOT of revisions and editing with the writer before sending it to editors. Books really need to be almost ready to go before they hit acquisitions.

Elana tends to requests the books from queries where she can clearly grasp and pull out the concept or hook. If you can't sum up your story in 3 sentences, you don't know what your book is about. She needs to know the hook or concept and if she has to dig for it, she won't, she doesn't want it.

Also if you can't edit yourself in a query letter, it's a good chance your book is overwritten.

Remember that this is an agent's first taste of your abilities as a writer.

Not every book has to be high concept, but you should know your hook or log line--single sentence about your book...check out the descriptions of books on the NYT best seller's list.

Think about what's the key conflict in the book? What makes it stand out? That's what you need to include? That's your hook. Don't worry about the whole plot.

One of the queries that came in was for a book that Elana wanted, but the writer signed with an agent super quickly and she missed it.

Elana recommends  for agent info and If you're willing to pay, subscribe to Publisher's Marketplace for deal information. She prefers the websites where the agents control the information that gets posted, but most agent info sites have pros and cons.

For finding an agent, don't always go with the first offer just because it's the first offer. It's not always the best offer.

If you're making writing your career, then you need to do the research behind it, and take it seriously and learn as much as you can about the industry.

Elana's definition of high concept--the Hollywood pitch, one sentence and you know EXACTLY what the book/story is about. One common way to do this for movies is to take two things and mash them together -- like Alien = Jaws in space.

BUT even if your book is quiet, you still should be able to whittle it down to few words in a logline. Check out the New York Times lists for the 5-10 word descriptions of all different genres.

This session was kick-butt and hopefully you learned a lot. And now....

We're taking a nap in our room!
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