Monday, May 30, 2011

I've Just Gotta Ask...

If you haven't signed up for the Gearin' Up to Get an Agent Blogfest, now's your time!

First things first...HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND!  I hope while we are all stuffing our face with burgers and potato salad (so not on my Weight Watchers plan) that we will take the time to remember our troops who have fallen and who still stand as well.  I'm sure we all know at least one and they deserve some extra special love today.

Now onto my question.  Maybe I should make this a regular occurrence because  my readers gave me some killer advice last time:)

So...does your current emotion alter the way your characters feel during writing?  I just finished reading Divergence by Veronica Roth and when I went to writing after that, all I wanted to do was make my protag fall in love with some super sultry dude.  Not that that is what Divergence is about in any way, but the chemistry in the book had my stomach doing flips more than once...sigh

If your emotions take over you when writing, is it a good thing or a bad thing?  And if it is a bad thing, what do you do to get out of your emotion and tap back into your characters?


In blogfest news, the sign up numbers keep on climbing and I am thrilled because the more we get, the more fun it will be.  Wednesday I will be posting about the specific deets so come on back and check it out!

Until then...
Keep writing.  Keep learning.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Firsts Fridays with Agent Acquired, Monica B.W.

If you haven't signed up for the Gearin' Up to Get an Agent Blogfest, now's your time!

What do you know, it's Friday and I have a sweet treat to kick off your weekend!  Monica B.W. recently has a new addition to her AGENT!  And she has stopped by to answer some of the burning questions those of us lacking the illustrious agent have.
Monica Bustamante Wagner is a YA fiction writer represented by Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Lit. She was born in Peru and raised in Chile. With a sister in Australia and her father living in Ethiopia, she’s had no choice but to be a bilingual world traveler.  And she loves it!  She travels around the globe with her husband and three kids, learning about different cultures and countries.  After earning a bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s degree in HR, Monica settled with her husband in a very small town in Chile, near the Pacific Ocean. Visit Monica’s website at

DB: I see you write paranormal/fantasy (I love it!), where do you get your ideas?

MBW: First of all, let me thank you for inviting me to your blog today! I feel honored.

DB: Likewise!  I'm thrilled to have you:)

MBW: Hmm, so where do I get my ideas from?  I’ve always loved paranormal things like ghosts and mysterious orbs appearing in pictures and parallel universes, etc. So I guess my ideas come from my obsession about these things. To tell you the truth, I once spent like 6 months trying to have an out-of-body experience…but failed miserably, lol. So there. I’m a little crazy and obsessed!

 DB: Now that is a killer interview in and of itself! 

How do you go about plotting your novels? Or are you just a write it first kind of gal?

MBW: I have a very unusual way of plotting. I talk about the outline with my hubby—and usually it ends up being a long-winded monologue that only I understand. But talking about my book with somebody else makes me come up with ideas.  And then, when I start writing, I pretty much know where things are going.

DB: Aww, your hubby is your sounding romantic:)

I love Elana Johnson’s book, ‘From the Query to the Call’.  How long was that journey for you?

MBW: I <3 Elana!

My journey wasn’t that traditional since I didn’t get my agent through a query letter. It was through a contest in which 13 agents read the first pages of some mss, and they picked some to read more. And I got picked! (Squee!)

So if you count from the day of the contest until I got the offer, it was only like 10 days. But if you count from the day I started querying, it would be like 3 months.  AND if you count from the day I started writing my very first novel till I got the offer, it would be like 4 years!

DB: Ooo, I didn't know that.  How cool!

Can you tell us what your agent has of yours that he/she is trying to get published?

MBW: I signed with my agent just a few months ago, so I’m not on submission yet. But the good news is that we’re going out with a manuscript soon!

And guess what this YA ms is about…  yeah, you’re right! About out-of-body experiences. :)

DB: Can't wait to get my fingers on that one!

Do you have anything new on the works?

MBW: Umm… it depends on what you mean by new. I’m rewriting a novel from scratch. This is the ms I queried like a year ago, got some requests but in the end nothing happened.  And now that I’ve let it simmer, I think I know what was wrong with it. But I still love the idea and I want it to work! Crossing my fingers that it will now.

DB: Good luck on it!

What is something fun about you that we just have to know?

MBW: About 11 years ago, my boyfriend and I went to India. And we decided to get married there. So one hot afternoon, we went to look for a brahmin to officiate the wedding.  And when we found him, he said that in India, you couldn't marry any day.  You had auspicious dates depending of whom you marry.  And he picked the most auspicious day for us.  And it was THE NEXT DAY!!  So we had to prepare our wedding in less than 24 hours! We ran around looking for a beautiful sari for me and for toe-rings and rice and clothing for my boyfriend and many other things.  It was crazy! But in the end, it was really fun, and we got married there, and just a few friends attended the ceremony. 

 DB: That is some serious getting married in style:) 

Monica it has been a blast rehashing your journey to getting an agent.  I look forward to seeing your books on shelves in the future!

Haven't had enough of Monica yet?  Check out her super addictive blog, Love YA.

Until next time...
Keep writing.  Keep learning.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dear Future Self Blogfest

If you haven't signed up for the Gearin' Up to Get an Agent Blogfest, now's your time!

Now on to another kick butt Blogfest...

This one is super fab, hosted by Kristin Creative.  I think the above button is pretty self explanatory...basically write a letter to your future self.  Any kind.  Here we go!

Dear Future Self,

Holy smokes girl, you finally made it!  I knew you could...well sometimes I had my doubts, but I guess you showed me.  Now look at you schmoosing with other crazy and quirky authors, travelling on book tours and not just attending conferences, but dang, you're a guest speaker at some!
Also, I love that you have stayed true to the newbies, continuing to help those who were in your shoes not long ago.  Don't you ever forget how that felt.  I know riding high must be exhilarating, but isn't it so much better to share the journey!

I do have to say I'm sorry for dragging my sorry tail more times than not.  You could have been published a couple years before if it weren't for me getting in your way.  What can I say; I'm a sucker for punishment.

I love you!  You keep rockin' it like a super studded rock master and I will continue to muscle through! 

If I could walk into the future I'd give you a big ole hug, I'd also thank you for never giving up on us.  I can tell it wasn't easy, but man it looks like it's worth it.

Have fun, keep it real and always tell yourself what you tell our daughter.  "Remember who you've always been."

Much love chica! 

See you soon,

Present Self

P.S. Say hi to our agent and tell her not to be so hard on me when I query her:)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Gearin' Up to Get an Agent Blogfest...Here We Come!

Writing is my passion and blogging is a blast! 
Since joining the blogosphere I've come across some pretty darn cool people.  I've also learned the smorgasborg of aspiring authors is vast, varied and oh-so-talented.  Given this, it's only natural that some of us may be shooting for the same goals. 

Write a novel.  Get an agent. 

As these two things stand as a constant in my life, I've found four things related to them that I continuously work on to make these goals a reality.  They are...

-Gaining more knowledge about the craft

-Building my platform

-Actually writing the novel 

-Sweating bullets over the query letter

When my followers shot up from 70 to 150 this past month the wheels in my head began cranking on how my new writer buddies and I could share in this crazy journey holding hands and singing Kum Ba Yah.


Get ready because together we're going to gear up (Kum Ba Yah style) to get an agent in my month long July blogfest!  WOOT!

(Now, you'll have to excuse my complete lack of button making skillz.  I never claimed to be a graphics gal:)

Update: I've got the week by week details HERE
What does this blogfest entail? Each week in July we are going to focus on the agent-grabbing elements (platform building, learning the craft, the novel and queries) in an interactive way.  I will give more detailed information about the individual weeks at a later date, but let me just tell you the end of each week I will be giving away CRITIQUES GALORE from some seriously talented people who have agreed to help me out in this department.  I can assure you, you won't be disappointed (*hint hint* think agents, writers with agents, published authors...see, you aren't disappointed are you?).

Who can join in  on the action? This is the really fun part because not all writers are bloggers, so we are opening the fun up to not only blogs, but to all the little Twitter birds out there too!  I've got some help here as well.  You may remember the last 'Firsts Fridays' interview with Agent Gone Writer, Lora Rivera.  Well, the awesomeness that is her is teaming up with me to take on the Twitter side of the madness.  So if you would prefer to Tweet with us during the blogfest let Lora know here on her Twitter.

Cool, how do I sign up? Glad you asked because all you have to do is let me know your name and blog or twitter id you'd prefer to interact with us through. 
Put it in the comment section of this post and I will get you signed up, OR hop on over and tweet, letting Lora know.  Also, if you have a blog, grab the button above and pop it on your blog to share the love.  The more people we have in on this, the merrier.  Simple enough right?

Yay, so excited to finally have the cat out of the bag. I am writing this, I'm bleary-eyed and mucho-exhausted, so if I've confused you or you have additional questions put them in the comments, email me, whatev and I'll do my best to answer them.

I can't wait to get this party started!

Until next time...
Keep writing.  Keep learning.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Firsts Fridays with Agent Gone Writer, Lora Rivera!!

I am more than tickled pink to introduce this week's 'Firsts Fridays' interview!

Most may know Lora Rivera as a literary agent, but staying true to her heart, she has decided to focus solely on her writing.  I think her insider experience in the writing biz as well as her writing skillz can be especially beneficial to us, so without further ado... 

Give it up for Lora Rivera!

I hold an MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of Arizona, Tucson, where I live with my husband, who is active Air Force working with the 55th ECG at Davis-Monthan AFB.

After three years working for the Claire Gerus Literary
Agency, first as assistant and then as fiction associate (2 years), and finally as literary agent (6 months), I've decided my tastes lie on the writer's side of the desk. I'm ever-grateful for the wonderful experience I gained working with Claire Gerus and for the fantastic writers I met. I'm a better writer, editor, and even human being for my time with CGLA.

DB: Since you have recently decided to focus on your writing.  Would you mind telling us why, and what you are working on?

LR: Sure, Deana! And before I get started, thanks so much for this opportunity to appear on your blog! I’m excited to be so well-received among fellow aspiring writers, even though I’m stepping aside from agenting. The reason? As an agent, my greatest passion lay in finding a manuscript that was still a bit rough around the edges. I loved getting my hands dirty, “massaging” each scene until the book was ready for an editor’s desk. After a while, I realized the job was actually becoming more of burden than a joy. I wanted the thrill of working with characters—my own and others’—without the constant pressure one encounters as an agent. In the end, I found being an agent just wasn’t a fit. I know this sounds selfish, but at some point, if you’re going to be a writer, you have to get a little selfish with your time and creativity. It wouldn’t have been fair to my authors or to myself had I stayed.
I’m currently a few chapters into my middle grade sci-fi WIP (straddling the pantser/plotter divide). I’m also rewriting my contemporary YA and working on adult literary short stories whenever they crop up in my creative stream.

DB: Thank you too Lora!  It sounds like you're staying plenty busy!  And I must say I love that you are being true to yourself, that couldn't have been an easy decision.

Being a writer as well as an agent, what are your thoughts on self publishing as opposed to traditional, and what route are you trying for now that you are focusing on your writing?
LR: Good question. I think there’s definitely a place for self-publishing. You might’ve heard in reference to the sheer volume of literature being published this decade: “There’s no better time than now to be a writer.” This is very true, and we definitely have options. Ultimately, I feel that the real highlights of self-publishing (I’m discussing e-publishing, here) are immediacy and control. You’ll have your book out there right away—no two-year wait time, no fears the company will pull your project. It’s cheap and fast; and if you’re savvy with self-promotion or choose to hire PR help, you can be quite successful going this route. And honestly, going with traditional publishing (TP), you’ll still need to develop platform via social media, word-of-mouth, niche audiences, etc.

Personally, I’m still in favor of traditional for a few reasons. First, I believe the traditional publishers have stronger editor support. I want my book to be in top-notch condition before it’s available to a wide readership, not only because I want to be proud of it, but also because I feel readers need and deserve this kind of excellence. And only a sharp editorial eye can bring this about. Second, at this time, TP does offer a legitimacy self-publishing doesn’t—thinking long term, here. As an agent, unless a book sold like candy at a carnival, I wouldn’t consider a self-pubbed book as pubbed. Plain as that. And from what I hear, most agents are still of this mind. Third, I suppose I’m just still a tad old-fashioned.
DB: Wow!  I love that answer!

You hear about those pesky agents who you should stay away from.  What are the red flags you should look for to steer clear of them?
Reading fees, editing conflicts of interest. (Though I did offer editing services as an agent, if you ever contacted me you know I sent you a huge preamble about my editing work not being connected with the agency, which showed up in the contract, too.) If an agent is interested in repping your work, you shouldn’t have to pay them for critiques. Also, be wary of referrals to freelance editors. Referral to an in-house editor? Run.

If you’re lucky enough to land an agent, make sure he or she is a good fit for your needs and that your personalities mesh. Don’t be afraid to turn someone down if there’s a lack of communication after several attempts or any appearance of unprofessional behavior. And honestly, be concerned if an agent isn’t making sales. is good but not perfect at keeping track of these.
DB: Those tips are so important to know for us greenies out there:)

I am a young adult writer as are many of my readers.  Is this a saturated market?  Would you say it is harder than others to break into?
LR: If you’re writing a vampire paranormal romance, then yes, you’ll find the YA market is saturated. But otherwise, no, it’s not harder to break into. It may be a bit more trendy, so you’ll have to be careful you don’t fall into the trap many of us (myself included) have blundered into. Number one writing advice: “Read, read, read,” right? Well, then we turn around and write what we read and find we’re not only producing clichéd Been-There-Done-That books, we’re also two years behind the real-time industry. Agents moved on from our trendy book two years ago.
But the truth is readers of all ages are drooling for YA and thus so are agents, editors, and publishers. It’s always hard to write great fiction. But great books will get you a foothold into what I’d call a hot market.

DB: Did you hear that YA writers?  Don't fall into the trap!

If an agent rejects an ms, should the writer mark them off the list never to return?  What is the protocol for that?

LR: Not at all. How can you know your next book might not blow them away? And especially if they requested a partial or full, they’re worth trying again. Agents DO want to say yes. Oh, they really do.

Now, revisions…. Some agents won’t consider these, and you’ll have to research to find out. In general, only re-query the same book if you’ve made MASSIVE (yes, bold, underlined, caps, and italicized) rewrites.
DB: Good to know:)

What makes and breaks a query letter in your opinion?
LR: Lame or overly-dramatic voice, clichéd plotlines, self-importance (my book is AWESOME), self-deprecation (I know you’ll probably hate this, but…), not getting my name right, infodump, character soup… Um. Right. Those all become rejections. A short-and-sweet, showing-not-telling, voice-accurate and professional query that follows guidelines with relevant bio info will catch my attention.

DB: Is there any parting advice you can give those trying to snag an agent?
LR: Do your homework on the agents you’re querying, and play it safe in your query (unless your homework tells you otherwise *wink*). Always be professional and (yes) upbeat, especially on social networks. FIND A CRITIQUE GROUP. Writing is not a solitary sport J

DB: Okay newbies, you have your assignements.

And just for a little fun…
Can you tell the world something we just have to know about you?

LR: Ooo…. Can I play the “One of these isn’t true” game? If so:
DB: Why, absolutely! 

1.       I can sing these entire Broadway musicals by heart: Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables.
     2.       I once asked a group of mothers-to-be whether babies had skeletons.
     3.       I sometimes read books aloud and in British accents.

DB: Hmm, I'm going with number 2 NOT being real.  If it is, then...hats off to Lora right!?!  What does everyone else think?

Lora, thanks so much for doing this interview! If I had a cool girl badge I'd give it to you:)
If you agree with me then look Lora up for yourself.  You can find her on Twitter here and on her website here.

Stay tuned next week for the latest deets on the big BLOGORAMA I am hosting in July.  I can give you a hint...Lora is going to be doing something really cool for us during the festivities!

And finally we have winners for Margot Finke's book giveaway!  Go here to find out who they are.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I've Just Gotta Ask

When is the right time to put down a WIP for a new idea?

I finished my first ms last year.  It took me over two years to write because I got in my own way, comparing myself to other writers, not thinking I was good enough.  Then there was the guilt of doing something so time consuming without pay, the editing pains, pure laziness...and the list goes on.

Once I FINALLY finished, edited it three times, got it critiqued, and read by a beta, I realized it was crap.  It wasn't that is couldn't be just wasn't.

I ended up changing so much I decided to just start from scratch.  I am half-way through and am now at a stand still.  My characters don't want to talk to me, and maybe it is because their mad I've been cheating on them.

Here's the thing...for the last two years, I have had an idea simmering in my brain and this past weekend it wouldn't shut its pie hole so I plotted the story out all the way to the crisis point.  I am loving it and thinking about putting the other ms on the back-burner. 

So let me ask you, is it right to put an ms away that you have poured three years of your life into, for another?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Changes, Updates, and Blog Love

I know I don't usually blog on Tuesdays, but I just can't be contained.  The finishing touches for July's Blogorama are underway and I will be announcing the details next week!  That's right, do the's okay. 

Anyhoo, in other news...

There is going to be a slight change in this months 'Firsts Fridays'.  Agent Kathleen Rushall had to push back her interview from May 20th to June 24th, so filling in for her, and perfect for the job, is Lora Rivera!  She was an agent for the Claire Gerus Literary Agency and has recently stepped down to pursue her love of writing.  I can't wait for her to share the insight she has gained from working in the biz.  So be here Friday and hear it from one who knows.

Lastly, I want to apologize for being a slacker on awards.  I have been given three in the last couple of weeks and now I just want to say...awwwww, thanks!!!

I've got Firestarter by Prodigy screaming through my head with this award.  This  was given to me by Juliana Brandt over at I Aspire to be....  She is an aspiring author and blogs about some really fun things.  Check out her post today and see if you really know the definitions to some of the hard words we pepper our writing with to sound all smart and stuff.

 I was given this last award two times.  Once by the cool as ice Leslie Rose and the other by the ever addictive (her blog, not her, though she could be as well:)  Ashley Nixon.  Both gals are writers and I am lurving visiting their blogs!  You should too. 

 In the spirit of sharing the lub (as my three year old son would say), I now pass these awards on to:
Thanks for having such cool blogs!

Until next time...
Keep writing.  Keep learning.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Interview with Platform Building Extraordinaire Rachael Harrie - Part Dos

Having a good Monday yet?  Well it's about to get waaaaay better because as promised, I bring you Part Two of Rachael Harrie's interview on platform building.  If you missed part one, check it out here.  The stuff is to die for!  Seriously...

PART TWO         
DB: How important do you think it is to build a platform before you are a published author? 

RH: This is one of those questions to which there is no right answer. These days, I think it is very important to begin building a platform early. But at the same time, it’s just one factor that agents and editors will take into account when considering whether to take on your work. Many writers have still gotten an agent and had their books published even though they did not have a platform.
Having said that, I think it will become so much harder to begin building your platform after you sign on with an agent or publish your first book. It takes a lot of time and commitment to successfully build your platform, and I think unagented writers who don’t have deadlines and obligations to their agent are in a better position to spare that time to start with.

DB: All terrific points! 
Often times the idea of platform building is hard for beginning writers to wrap their brain around.   Can you give those struggling with this concept a basic step-by-step idea of how to start?

RH: Building a platform will work differently for each person. I think the most important question is: what are you comfortable doing? You need to decide which social media you want to focus on, and (more importantly) which social media you have the time to commit to. Some people find Twitter suits their needs/preferences the most, others Facebook, and others blogging. I prefer blogging over everything, though I do have a Twitter account and am on Facebook and LinkedIn. But I don’t operate equally in all of these forms of social media.
My next advice would be, don’t spread yourself too thin. You don’t have to be fantastic at each of these forms of social media, but I think you do need to be “good” at one of them (at least).

Once you’ve decided which avenue of platform-building to pursue, you need to set up your platform. Create your blog, or your Twitter account, or your Facebook page, and make sure you personalize it to you. Try to steer away from the templates/backgrounds/banners that are provided to you at the start – it’s very easy to download your own and it makes a huge difference. This is something even those who already have their platform can think about.

Make sure you’re accessible and that your personality shines through, both on your “platform” and in your travels around the blogosphere, so people start to get an idea of who you are. If people don’t know anything about you, it’s much harder for them to connect with you.
In the writing community, a good thing to remember is the saying: “It’s not all about you.” People can tell when your only interest is in promoting yourself or selling your books. Do what you can to support others, and be genuinely interested in them and in helping them to build their platforms, and they’ll do the same to you.

Also very important to realize – it takes a lot of time and commitment to build a platform. You will only get out what you put in. So if you want lots of comments on every post, for example, you need to get out into the blogosphere and comment heaps on other peoples’ posts. You can’t just “do it and they will come,” unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way.
DB: It is hard but hard!
Where will your platform building go from here?  Do you have any future plans that may be exciting for your audience?

RH: I can only hope it will go onwards and upwards. I’m expecting my Third Writer's Crusade in August to be rather big (*grins*), and I’ll be running at least one Crusade per year thereafter. I’ve also just announced an initiative I’m starting on Rach Writes… - Beta Match. It will start on Monday June 6 and is intended to help people find critique partners and beta readers. I have some further plans along those lines, which I’ll be announcing in coming months as well. Very exciting!

DB: I can't wait!  Seriously:)

Clearly you have a great start up for a blog presence.  Have you ever thought about how you might grow it by taking your platform out into the world?
RH: Thanks J At the moment I’m content with remaining in the writing community. But who knows what I’ll come up with in the future *grins*.

DB: Are there any last parting words of advice you’d like to leave us with before you go?
RH: Be yourself when you blog/tweet etc. People can sense if you’re being “fake”

Remember that behind every little follower icon or avatar is a real person. Don’t take them for granted, and treat everyone as you would treat them in real life. Sometimes it’s as simple as thanking them for a favor they do for you, or checking to see if they’re ok if you come across an emotional blog post or tweet.

And, of course, when you’re platform-building, you’ll get out what you put in.
DB: Rach, thanks so much for taking time out of your busy life to visit me:)  You are pure awesomeness!!

RH: Thanks again for having me, it’s been fun!
Rachael has been kind enough to give back to the blogosphere writing community in a BIG BLOGOTHON I will be having in July.  Yep, it's my first and I'm biting my nails to the nubs from the excitement!  I can't wait to give you the deets so come back and check in.  I'm pretty sure you won't be sorry:)

In other blogfest news:  Here are a couple I am joining in that you might like...

and I don't even know what this one is about, but the picture looks so dang cool I've got to join in!

Until next time...
Keep writing.  Keep learning. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Interview with Platform Building Extraordinaire Rachael Harrie - Part One

Sorry for the delay today, but as most know, Blogger was having issues...

I happened upon a blog awhile back and in the sidebar was an, ‘I’m a Crusader’ button emblazoned in a pretty multi-colored shield.  It sounded intriguing so I clicked on it, and low and behold Rachael Harrie was born in my eyes. 
In her words, Rachael says, It is these blogging crusades that had me emailing her for an interview.  In under a year she has built her blog from three to over 700!  She not only has a wonderful readership, but she is helping fellow writers and industry people connect with each other in order to build their own platforms.  I am all about helping a writer out so for this edition of ‘Firsts Fridays’, I am more than thrilled to introduce you to Rachael and see what she thinks about platform building for writers, and how it has helped in her writing endeavors.
I’m a writer, a mother, a wife, and an Aussie. I have a wicked sense of humor, a very loud wolf-whistle, and a fascination for all things Young Adult. Sparkly vampires optional. I kill cacti (accidentally), I collect dragons, I adore emoticons and exclamation marks (but never in my manuscripts), and I used to have a dead fern called Prudence. Why? Cause everybody needs at least one dead fern in their lives.

I tweet occasionally, I blog religiously, and I organize Crusades so bloggers can connect and network together.”

Rachael did such a wonderful job answering the questions I asked, in detail, I am breaking her interview up into two parts.  Part two will be up Monday.  You won’t want to miss it, I assure you!

And now I give you Rachael Harrie…

RH: Thanks for having me along today Deana J

DB: No, thank you for being here!  I am ecstatic about this interview because platform building raises so many questions for the beginning and seasoned writers alike. 

In your own words, what is platform building?
RH: To me and at its most basic, platform-building means creating a way to reach out to people. You may have an aim or a goal in mind, e.g. selling books or building your credentials (for non-fiction writers), but you’re unlikely to achieve that goal unless you have people listening to you in the first place. In my mind, platform-building isn’t about how many followers you have, it’s about having a network of people around you who want you to succeed and who want to help you succeed.

DB: So true! 

Before you began building your blog audience, did you have anything going for you to help you along? Ex: college degree, past job experience, already published work?  If so did you factor that in before making a plan for your platform?

RH: I’m a lawyer-turned-writer, so in that respect I have a solid background in the English/Arts/writing sphere. During my legal career I published various non-fiction articles and also learned how to promote myself, market, and network. I think my experience has helped me have the confidence to go out there in the blogging world and begin building my platform, but it’s not something I’ve consciously considered over the past year since I began blogging.

DB: Wow, you have some serious background, good for youJ 

I’m sure you consider yourself a writer first and foremost.  Would you mind telling us where you are in your writing journey?

RH: I’d love to. And yes I do J I’ve written in one form or other my whole life, but only started to write seriously in the last five years. I finished (and “drawered”) my first book—consider that a service to the writing community *grins*—then realized how much I really had to learn. I spent a lot of time trying out different genres until I found my writers’ voice with YA fiction and my awesome critique partners, who’ve taught me so much. I’m currently revising my YA Horror novel, which I hope to query in the next few months. The novel is titled, “From the Other Side,” and the logline is as follows:

“Seventeen-year-old Verity Ronson is murdered by the boy she loves and awakens with deadly powers and an unquenchable desire for vengeance—if only she can stay sane long enough.”

DB: Ooo, I love me some YA with major intensity and it sounds like you are going there!

What connection does your writing have to the platform you are building, and do you think a connection with the two is important or is it more about gaining the numbers and hoping they will stick around through it all?

RH: There are two different answers to this question. My writing, in that I am a writer and a part of the writing community, is inherently linked to my platform. I wouldn’t have one without the other. But at this stage of my journey there isn’t a huge connection between my WIP and my platform. Bloggers follow me at Rach Writes… and on Twitter and Facebook because of my role in the writing community, not because of my WIP. Ideally, as I progress through my journey, the two would become more connected.
I should add that I think it’s the wrong approach to, as you say above, just try to “gain the numbers and hope they will stick around through it all.” I see platform-building as a shared journey with other bloggers (part of the reason why I created my Writers’ Platform-Building Crusade). I think it would be difficult for anyone to successfully market their book (or whatever else they created their platform for) if they simply try to gain numbers of followers without building relationships with their followers at the same time.

DB:  Such a good point!

Speaking of numbers how do you transform a platform into being more than numbers to a true audience?

RH: As I mentioned above, I think it’s all about developing and maintaining a connection with your followers. Commenting on their blogs, getting to know them, showing an interest in their journeys, and helping them out wherever possible, are all important. While I might have 700+ followers in the Followers Gadget, not all of them will read my posts – my goal is therefore to connect with as many of my followers as possible.

DB: I love your last words about connecting to your followers.  It is so easy to click on the follow tab, but to keep an audience coming back…now that is the challenge.

Rachael thanks so much for your words of wisdom.  I can’t wait to share with my readers part two of your interview.  It gets even better! 

Don’t miss Rachael’s next Writers Platform Building Crusade beginning August 22 – October 31.  Sign up closes August 31st, so set a reminder.  It is guaranteed to be something special!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Excuse Me While I ....

I wish I could tell you I've tapped the awesome powers of the writing biz and that I'm ready and willing to share them with you, but alas...

My name is Deana Barnhart, and I have a reading addiction. 

Currently, the Iron Fey books by Julie Kagawa have me wrapped in an icy embrace and I just can't let go!  So while I have about a million things to do--blogging mind-blowing words of wisdom being one of them--I allowed myself one day to indulge in another world.  It has been wonderful!

can take a moment from my reading binge, however, to remind everyone about 'Firsts Fridays', and feel good about it too, because it is going to be super helpful.  This Friday I will be interviewing the Aussiefab Rachel Harrie, from Rach Writes..., about platform building.  In less than a year she has taken the blogosphere by storm.  You don't want to miss this one!


Don't forget, I have some massive fun coming up this summer also!  A tiny hint, and this is only part of it: I've got a literary agent in my pocket and she is in a giving mood:)

Until next time...
Keep writing.  Keep learning.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mothers Day Recap, Giveaway, and All Kinds of Goodies on the Horizon

First off I want to give a BIG SHOUT OUT to the MOMS out there!  Hope your Mother's Day was fantastic, I know mine was...breakfast in bed, cards from the kids AND (drum roll please) my husband got me a membership to SCBWI!  I can't wait to get connected with more writing buddies, go to conferences and learn learn learn.  Woot!

In the midst of happiness I also found out some very emotional news about my three year old son that has me simultaneously broken hearted and sighing with relief.
Some developmental issues since birth have had him very familiar with a doctors office and blood tests.  It was a urine test, however, that finally brought to light the diagnosis causing him developmental delays, low tone and lack of energy.  It is a rare genetic disorder called SCAD (Short-Chain Acyl-CoA Dehydrogenase Deficiency) which is basically a condition that prevents the body from converting certain fats into energy.  Since fats are the bodies second source of energy it can cause loads of problems.  It goes without saying, as I've poured over research on this rare disorder, how blessed we are that his form is mild.  It is also a relief to finally have a name and soon enough, a plan to help.  It is still never easy to hear one of your children is going to have to live in a restrictive way of life in order to live a long healthy one.  Needless to say this Mother's Day was especially touching for me.


In other news the first edition of 'Firsts Fridays' was a blast!  Thanks again to Margot Finke for being my guest.  Please don't forget to enter for a chance to win Margot's E-book for children, Taconi and Claude's 21st Century Adventure.  It is a fun filled book starring a smorgasbord of her reader's favorite characters.  To enter, just follow my blog then go to Margot's interview here and tell me what wonderful insight she had to offer you.  There are three chances to win and the contest closes May 19th so don't miss out.


Last but not least, blogging has been all kinds of fun for me as I've learned a butt load of useful info and met a slew of like-minded and fabulous people.  I want to give back to writers and I believe, even as a newbie, it is possible. 
Stay tuned for a really big, fun, earth shattering extravaganza in your near future.  Think summertime, think networking in the writing biz, thing blog-o-rama with contests you don't won't to miss!  Check back soon for more details on how you can be a part of the action.

And just so you're up to date on the 'Firsts Fridays' excitment we have planned for the month of May...

May 13- Rachael Harrie from Rach Writes... and master of the Writers' Platform Blogger Crusade will be dousing us with platform building tips

May 20- Kathleen Rushall agent from Waterside Productions Inc will go in depth about what an agent wants from you.

May 27Monica B.W. has landed an agent and she will clue you in on her journey there and what happens after you have one.

Until next time...
Keep writing.  Keep learning.
Short chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency

Friday, May 6, 2011

Firsts Fridays: Featuring Children's Book Author Margot Finke and E-book Giveaway!

UPDATE: We have winners for Margots Giveaway!  They are....
Megan Frank, Kristi Bernard and Jeanette Larson
Congrats ladies!
Today I introduce to you 'Firsts Fridays', a series spotlighting those of us experiencing a first in the writing biz as well as the more seasoned folks who remember their humble beginnings like it was yesterday. 

My very first 'Firsts Friday' spotlight is an old hand in the writing biz and she remembers well starting out.  Let's do a little dance for Margot Finke...
One thing I have learned about Margot is she knows tons about the biz and she is always kind enough to stop and help little lost writer souls out.  She is also being quite generous and offering up an e-book to three lucky readers as a giveaway.  More on that after the interview.  Without further ado let us learn a little bit about Margot Finke.

Margot Finke is an Aussie transplant who writes midgrade adventure fiction and rhyming picture books. For many years she has lived in Oregon with her husband and family.
Gardening, travel, and reading fill in the cracks between writing. Her husband is very supportive, and their three children are now grown and doing very well.
Margot didn't begin serious writing until the day their youngest left for college. This late start drives her writing, and pushes her to work at it every day. Margot said, "I really envy those who began young, and managed to slip into writing mode between kid fights, diaper changes, household disasters, and outside jobs. You are my heroes! "
 Her 7x book, rhyming series, "Wild and Wonderful," offers fun facts about animals from the US and Australia.  Educational and fun, eBooks can be read on a computer, laptop, or various color eReaders.  They are great for classroom or home schooling moms.
Remember, kids today are computer savvy, and ALL Margot’s books (both hard copy and eBooks), including those in this article, can be viewed on Margot’ Magic Carpet.
Discover extra fun facts about the animals in this series as well as her other books.

Her Manuscript Critique Service attracts clients from all over the globe, and her website offers a great deal of help for new writers. Nothing gives her a bigger thrill that to hear that a book she helped polish has been published.  “This is always a huge YEA moment,” Margot says.

And now Margot will teach us what she knows...

DB: Can you tell us how you started writing?
MF: I had always written small things, but the books started when I was a teacher’s aide.  When we came to the US, I wanted our three children to remember their roots, so every night I asked them to pick an animal from the Australian map I had pinned  on their bedroom wall.  Then I told them a story about it,  right off the top of my head.  As a teacher’s aide, kids noticed my accent, and asked about it.  I began telling  them about Australia and their weird and wonderful animals.  My teacher friend suggested I write them all down – so I did.  My stories grew into “Wild and Wonderful, ” a 7 book rhyming series about animals from the US and Australia:
DB: Very cool! 
How long was the road until you were first published and how did it come about for you?
MF: My experience fitted the average time – approx ten yearsPatience and sticking with it is the main ingredient of publishing success – oh, and a little luck and talent really helps.

DB: Wow, ten years!  I'm running on three:)  
 In your opinion, what is the hardest part: writing, editing, querying or the wait for a published book?  And do you have helpful tips for any of those?
MF: Writing and polishing my manuscript  is the easy part for me. I actually find book promotion  the hardest part.  Even with a large publisher, and especially if you self publish, it is extremely time consuming.  There are so many different aspects you need to be on top of all the time. Writing Press Releases, contacting newspapers, bookstores, schools, is just a beginning.  Getting book reviews,  doing interviews (like this - grin!), keeping up a constant presence on Facebook, Twitter, website and blogs. Then there are Virtual Book Tours to negotiate: and somewhere in-between it all, a new book to write. HELP! 

Of course the second and third book is easier (I have 11 pub now), because you learn from previous mistakes and disasters. And if you self-publish there is a host of other stuff to add to this load.

DB: You critique work professionally, as well as write.  What are some major mistakes you find new writers making and how can we get past them?
MF: I have met some fascinating people thanks to my Manuscript Critique Service – writers from a variety of different countries.  I guess overwriting is what I see most.  It takes a while for writers to appreciate the idea of tight and terrific versus loose and waffling on. I tell them all, “Waffles are fine for breakfast with maple syrup, but keep waffles out of your manuscripts.” 

Wimpy verbs are also a problem I often see .  Active, powerful and evocative words paint vivid mental pictures that HOOK your readers.  Combine tight writing with powerful words, and you have a book worth reading.

DB: Tight and terrific...I really like that!  
 Have you had insecurities in the biz and if so what have you done to overcome them?
MF: In the beginning, I hung around the mail box a lot, waiting for that hoped for acceptance. Then I discovered that time went much faster if I began on a new story while I waited.  Rejection letters are never fun though, and I received my fair share. The saying goes,  that you have to get enough rejections to paper a small room before you can expect an acceptance – I can definitely state this is true.

DB:  What do you do to remedy writers block?
MF: I know many suffer from this scary malady, but I never have.  Wild and wonderful ideas come to me the moment my head hits the pillow each night.  I tiptoe into the bathroom, so as not to wake my husband, sit on the toilet seat, and scribble my heart out. If I don’t, by morning my fantastic ideas have faded into a blurry and useless miss-mash.

DB: No writers block?  I'm jealous:)
 You seem to be everywhere in the writing blogosphere, what would you say your best platform building tool is?
MF: Aha, it takes time to build a writing persona – nothing happens overnight, mate.  It is a combination of Blog, Website, Facebook, Twitter and other writing lists and blogs I have been an active member of for years.  My idea is to have the name Margot Fink instantly associated with Books for Kids.  It’s called branding, and unless you have big bucks to spread around, or are already famous, like Madonna, it takes lots of time, persistence, and know-how to accomplish.  I am not there yet.

DB: It seems like a huge key ingredient it time.
How do you time manage between writing and platform building/marketing your work?
MF: At the moment I am all out promoting my last three books.  I have others written, and as soon as possible I will begin the final edit of them.  My recent hip and knee replacement surgery  has meant an ALL ONLINE promotional push.  I have been unable, due to  daily physio sessions, plus the effects of both operations, to get out and about as much as before.  Being well organized is a blessing under these circumstances.  I make lists, notes, and plans galore.  I have reminder apps plugged into my computer.  I try not to pull my hair or scream too loudly when it seems everything will fall apart by midday – it never does!

DB: I do hope you get to feeling better soon.  You are too busy to stay down,
Last question for you Margot.
In this massive industry, full of writers trying to break out, is there any advice can you give beginner’s?
MF: Oh yes.
#1 - Learn the basics of writing: you can’t break the rules until you know them by heart.
#2 – Make the Thesaurus your best friend. This is where all those active and powerful words hang out.
#3 – Patience really is a writing virtue – nothing happens fast in this business.
#4 – Join a good critique group that has advanced members whose brains you can pick.
#5 – Network with other writers.  For centuries men have realized the value of networking. Women      in business also do it now.  It also applies to writers.
#6 – Treat writing as a business.  If you want to dabble in writing as a hobby – fine.  Just don’t expect to be published.  These days, publishers watch their bottom line, and so should you.
#7- Never underestimate the value of having the right book, at the right time, with the right publisher.  It’s called LUCK!
#8- Cultivate contacts.  The old saying, “It’s not what you know but whom you know,” still applies.

            DB:   Great advice Margot!  Thanks so much for being our very first test subject...I mean spotlight...for 'Firsts Fridays' and providing us with a great e-book for a giveaway. 

If you would like to learn more about Margot and her adventurous, inspiring and funny books check her out at Margots Magic Carpet.  If you'd like to contact her about critique services check her out at

MF: Deana, thanks for giving me this wonderful opportunity to speak to your readers.

It's giveaway time!!!

For my first giveaway (you catching the theme here?) Margot has been kind enough to give three copies of her book, Taconi and Claude's 21st Century Adventure

Because of a magical Boab Tree, Taconi and Claude find themselves marooned in the 21st Century. Ruthie and Horatio (2 characters from my other books) join forces to help Taconi and his cockatoo find their way back home to where they belong - the Aussie outback of the 1950's.

I'm going to make it really simple to enter:
1) Follow me with Google Connect or through Feed Burner email to stay up to date on some pretty amazing things we have in store for the future.

2)Leave a comment letting me know you did.  While you're commenting, (this part is optional) feel free to let me know if anything from Margot's spotlight helped you or what kinds of questions you might like asked in the spotlights.

This giveaway will run until May 19th and is open to anyone!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Platforms ... not the shoes ... and 'Firsts Fridays'

Oh snap, how I want these to be the platforms I'm talking about!  Can I tell you how much I love zombies?  Let me dream for a moment I have great legs and a killer zombie book out on the shelves and am sporting these bad puppies on my 'round the world' book tour....

That was nice, thanks for allowing my indulgence.

Now, where were we?  Oh, yes, platforms...the writer kind.

What is a writers platform?
Christina Katz wrote a wonderful book about just this.  Get Known Before the Book Deal, is an inspiring read if you are hoping to one day be a published author or already are and need some marketing help.  In her words: "The word platform simply describes all the ways you are visible and appealing to your future, potential, or actual readership.  Your platform includes your Web presence, any public speaking you do, the classes you teach, the media contacts you’ve established, the articles you’ve published, and any other means you currently have for making your name and your future books known to a viable readership."

Do you need a platform before, or after the book deal?
Again, in Christina's words: "Platform development is important not only for authors; it’s also crucial for aspiring and soon-to-be authors."

She goes on to say that often times, authors who don't worry about platform until after the book deal don't have much of a leg to stand on and eventually their book goes out of print.  It is a definite eye opener I think we, as newbies, should consider. 

So this is me considering it. 
Because seriously, what do I have going for me in the writing world besides one day having a book published (what can I say, I'm an optimist)? 

I met my man-to-be in college and dropped out to get married and have babies.  I have been a stay at home mom for going on seven years.  All I have is a dream and a computer, but that computer can do miracles right?  We blog, we cyber-hang, we network.  Even the uneducated have a shot at this!

This brings me to my 'Firsts Fridays'
In a previous post I glanced over how I wanted to make the industry of writing easier to navigate for us simpletons.  Hint Hint   That's me working on a platform.  It's not just hot air either, I really feel strongly about it.  This is where my 'Firsts Fridays' come in too.

Everyone in their writing journey experiences firsts.  Even Stephen King had to start somewhere.  I'd like to spotlight that!  Each Friday I'm going to try my darnedest to get an interview from some debut authors, new agents, editors, fresh platform builders as well as pick the brains of some old hands in the business and take them back to some of their firsts as a way to inspire us newbies to be better and always strive for greater things.

So join me back here on Friday and see who my very first spotlight will be.  You won't be sorry.  Heck I may even throw in some giveaways.  Oh, and between you me, I've got some things a brewin' in my little noggin' (who said college drop outs couldn't do things:) that can really get us newbies on our feet.  More on that later though.

Until next time...