Friday, September 28, 2012

2013 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market Giveaway!

For all of our followers who are also writers, we have something special today! We're giving away two copies of the 2013 Children's Writers & Illustrator's Market. This is the second year Donna and I have had the opportunity to contribute to the CWIM.

This guide has everything! Advice on building your author platform, on writing the perfect query letter, what agents are looking for, and lots of awesome advice from some of your favorite authors.

Check out my interviews with Kiersten White and Marissa Meyer! And Donna has the scoop on some amazing agent advice.

Isn't it pretty! I took this after my copy came in the mail.
This book is seriously an awesome resource for anyone early in the publishing game. There's a detailed section on every literary agency that represents children's books as well as details about all of the different children's publishers. And it's in stores now.

But because we love you guys, we're giving away not one but TWO copies. All you have to do to win is comment below with the best piece of writing/publishing advice you've ever heard. And that's it. Though, we'll totally appreciate the gesture if you tweet about this post too. 

Win the 2013 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market by commenting with your best piece of writing/publishing advice.* Deadline: October 5th.

*Two winners will be selected at random**
**Sorry, US residents only

Monday, September 24, 2012

What's your day job?

Sometimes I feel like two different people — on one hand, I'm the office manager of a university student newspaper, a full-time job. But I've also been a blogger, writer, and YA fanatic for just as long as I've had that position — over four years.

Rarely do those two worlds intersect, except for when I leave work early to attend a book signing or conference, and when I write a blog post during my lunch (like I am now). Or when one of my college students says they're reading a YA novel, and I start babbling with excitement until I realize that they aren't really interested to hear my enthused recommendations for other YA titles they may enjoy.

Anyway, this whole thing came to mind because I had to write an email today and used the phrase "in my mailbox," which of course made me think of the In My Mailbox meme ... and then I realized that likely NO ONE at my work would get the reference.

Then I thought maybe, MAYBE someone would.

Maybe they're just like me, living these oddly disjointed lives. (And like Sara, I don't always mind the separation!)

So that got me wondering — Is the cashier at the supermarket secretly a blogger? Is the UPS delivery guy a huge John Green fan? Is one of my students an aspiring writer?

We need a secret handshake, or something. Or we all need to wear DFTBA tshirts.

So what's your day job? And do the people around you know you're a blogger/writer/YA fan? Leave it in the comments!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Stretching Your Writerly Brain!

After the success of our first retreat, the FNC is gearing up to retreat again this November.

Some of us will be working on our books up until that point, and will be using the weekend to give a really big push to our manuscripts.

Some of us may or may not have opened up our WIP in over three months. Yes, that someone would be me. It turns out carrying a nine pound baby, then giving birth to a nine pound baby, then caring for a nine pound (now 2 month old!) baby is A LOT of work! Which means not a whole lot of time to dedicate to writing.
Here is a gratuitous picture of the adorable guy who has taken up all my time.

Now that the littlest critiquer is a bit older and has developed a reasonably predictable routine, I've decided it's time to sit down and start writing again. But you know what I realized?



So to jumpstart things, I've decided to try to do one writing exercise a week to get me thinking about my book again. If that means I also write before November, awesome! If not, that's okay--at least I'll have a better mindset going into our retreat.

The other ladies of the FNC will also be exercising with me, since you can never think too much about books!

And now, here's your chance to exercise right along with us. Every week we'll post the writing exercise we've emailed out to each other. Take it, use it, love it, tell us about it! Share in the comments your example, if it worked for you, if it didn't, or if there's another exercise that really helps you out with your writing.


Here we go:

Our first prompt is taken form the book, What If: Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter. This is one I used to do all the time in high school when I had a new idea for a story. It's a long one! I always edit/omit these categories depending on what I'm working on--for example, my story is fantasy and I've created my own world, so I won't be using the astrological sign category because they don't exist in my book.

This is perfect for a character that needs fleshing out, that you need a new perspective on, or need to get into the mind of again. I think this exercise also works well for double-checking your characters for authenticity. Sure, you think you've got it all figured out, but if you can't talk about them like real people, then they won't feel real to the reader.

Fill in the blanks for a character of your choice:

1) Name:
2) Nicknames?
3) Sex:
4) Age:
5) Appearance:
6) Education:
7) Job:
8) Status/Money:
9) Marital Status:
10) Family, ethnicity:
11) Accent/Diction:
12) Relationships:
13) Hobbies:
14) Obsessions:
15) Beliefs:
16) Ambitions:
17) Religion:
18) Superstitions:
19) Fears:
20) Flaws:
21) Strengths:
22) Pets:
23) Taste in books, music, etc.:
24) Favorite foods:
25) Handwriting:
26) Astrological Sign:
27) Talents:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

We shall retreat! AGAIN! In the retreatiest cottage ever.

You guys might remember our epic writing retreat weekend last April — you know, 38,000 words written, farm animals galore, general hijinks, and hot tub goodness? Well, we're doing it again!

The first weekend in November, the FNC will escape to a 1700s stone farmhouse called Lincoln-Boone Country Cottage for another productive weekend of word wars and more food than you can imagine.

For real, guys, THIS IS THE RETREAT COTTAGE. It's so very retreat-y, right?
And it's older than Jane Austen. Jane would totally be like,
(Apparently, the Amish neighbor sells sticky buns that are to die for. We'll have to investigate.)

So there aren't any hot tubs or farm animals... but there are oak trees and wisteria and a wishing well and apparently a wonderful view of the valley.

That would be a wishing well.
*Please oh please let my characters cooperate*
The drive up to the cottage. Talk about secluded!
And guess who's joining us ... again! Baby Robin! Last time, he was all cozied up in Sara's belly, but this time, he'll be 3 months old and napping away while we word war. 

You'd be napping, right, Robin?
Anyway, we've all been working furiously on our WIPs (except for Sara, but she gets the Newborn Exception), and we're so excited for this weekend away to give an extra boost to our productivity.

Just like last time, we found this lovely (and super, super affordable) cottage via, so grab your writing buddies and schedule a retreat of your own!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

You should jump on the COLD KISS / GLASS HEART bandwagon.

COLD KISS is one of those books that, when someone asks me what I like most about it, I can pinpoint the answer in a heartbeat.

It feels real.

Ok, it feels real if, like main character Wren, you had crazy magical abilities that you didn't understand and your boyfriend died tragically and you accidentally-on-purpose magicked him back to life...ish.

Normally, you'd think that would be the end of a paranormal YA: "Look! I'm special! My boyfriend is alive again and we'll be together forever!"

With COLD KISS, it's the beginning. It starts when you realize that your undead boyfriend isn't quite the same person he used to be. When you realize that everyone else thinks he's gone and buried, so you have to hide him from the world. When you realize that your crazy, impulsive, grief-driven decision was the worst thing you could possibly have ever done. 

And you have to deal with it.

It's as much about grieving and learning to let go and taking responsibility for your mistakes as it is about figuring out what to do with the undead boyfriend hidden in your neighbor's garage ... and the complication of the cute new guy who's reminding you what it's like to crush on someone warm-blooded.

Wren is a complex, complicated character, and she doesn't fit into any cookie-cutter mold. Sometimes I wanted to shake her until she saw sense, but I understood her mistakes. In the sequel, GLASS HEART, we explore more deeply into Wren's magical abilities — including their darker side — and why discussing them has been so taboo in her family.

I enjoyed this second glimpse into Wren's life because, again, the book delves into an area that usually isn't written about: The time after "The End," when the crazy plot has wrapped up and the main character is adjusting back to being normal (or some semblance thereof, in Wren's case).

Her relationship with Gabriel (the aforementioned "cute new guy") is developing and hitting a few bumps, and she's testing the limits of her powers and how she wants to integrate them into her life. GLASS HEART is more traditionally coming-of-age in that Wren is setting her own course for the first time, and she's pushing against the expectations of the people who love her.

Like COLD KISS, the end satisfies the reader, and I have it on direct authority from author Amy Garvey that GLASS HEART completes Wren's story. (So refreshing not to have the almost obligatory trilogy!)

GLASS HEART releases on September 18th, so be sure to read this standout duo! (I purchased my copy of COLD KISS and received an ARC of GLASS HEART at BEA.)

Full disclosure: I'm friends with Amy Garvey. She's awesome, so it's no surprise that her books are great, too.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

In which I steal Ian Somerhalder's cheese.

When you spend two weeks copyediting a guide to gourmet cheeses and mix in a brief twitter conversation with Frankie about the upcoming Vampire Diaries season premiere ... dreams can get strange.

I was in a tiny NYC apartment, and I lived next door to Ian Somerhalder. Somehow, there was a hole in the shared wall between our apartments, and I reached through and grabbed a bag of cheese —

Specifically, this bag of cheese:
Soooo not gourmet. But still yummy.

— from his mini fridge and stole it. Ian then came over and was very, very angry that I stole his cheese.
Nobody steals my cheese cubes.
And then... I woke up.

Should I chalk it up to the perils of freelance copyediting before bed?  Maybe. But why couldn't I have dreamt that Ian Somerhalder was feeding me gourmet cheese? Now that's a good dream.

Can anyone top me in the absurd work-related dream category? And who else is excited about the Vampire Diaries premiere?! Leave it in the comments!

Vampire Diaries Season Premiere Preview
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