Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I Need Help ... Judging Help!

UPDATE: You all are fantasic!  I've got the judges I need thanks to your help:)
Hey all!  Gearin' Up to Get an Agent Blogfest begins in 5 DAYS!!!  Can you believe it?  I can hardly wait.  We've got 64 blogfest buds who you can check out here.  Head over and get to to know them, follow them, LOVE them!

So here's the thing.  WEEK 4 of said blogfest is going to be fabuloso with Literary Agent Kathleen Rushall hosting the First 200 Words Pitch Contest (YA, MG and PB only since that's all she accepts...sorry to everyone else).  BUT--this is where you come in--I have to get this long list of contestants down to 10 (or 5 depending on the number of entries we have). 

I NEED HELP... Judging the contest, that is.  Here's why...

- I've gotten to know many of you through the blogosphere and I don't want my pickings to seem bias in any way.

- It's going to be a lot of work and I'd simply love some help.


If you aren't planning on participating in the WEEK 4 blogfest contest (you can be a part of the other weeks), would you be willing to help a girl out?  Leave a comment below with your email address if so.

If not, I'd love to hear about a time when you in desperate need of some help and you turned to your blog buddies or writing pals to get it.

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

Monday, June 27, 2011


For me, motivation to write comes in many forms. 

Some examples:
- There's something about sitting in a dark theater with a hundred or so people, all of you ready to watch a new story unfold on a screen as big as a house.  The thought just makes me giddy with the motivation bug. 

- When I read a book in a day because I can't put it down, because the words sing to me like the most addictive siren song I have ever heard, I want to do nothing but write something that may move another in the same way.

-I'm also an observer of people.  Watching the interactions of a husband and wife shopping together or a group of girls out to dinner is magic to my writing juices.  Wondering where they came from, what they are talking about and what they plan on doing in their future...well, it's inspiration in its purest form!  To me.

- I was reading someones blog the other day and the way they came about their inspiration inspired me too. 

So as you can see, tons of ways I can be motivated to write.

What about you?  What gets you excited to create another page, and another, and another until you have thousands of words and your own masterpiece?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Firsts Fridays: Literary Agent Kathleen Rushall

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

I know I say this every Friday, but boy have I got a Firsts Fridays treat for you!  Especially for those participating in the Gearin' Up to Get an Agent Blogfest.  Why you ask?  Well Kathleen Rushall is only the judge of the first 200 word novel contest and a literary agent to boot. 

She is experiencing some pretty cool firsts as she is a fairly new agent and recently made the move from Waterside Productions to Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.  So without further ado let us get to know the lovely Kathleen Rushall.

DB: What kinds of manuscripts are grabbing your attention these days?

KR: First of all, thank you so much for featuring me on your blog! I’m so excited to be here and to participate in the July Agent Blogfest – really looking forward to seeing what creativity shines through on the 200 word limit pitches. So, this first question is a bit tricky because I love the variety I see in my queries. I appreciate a wide range of stories from science fiction and magical realism to contemporary humor and supernatural thrillers. That being said, right now I’m finding myself especially attracted to Southern gothic, edgier YA like thrillers or mysteries, and am always on the hunt for an authentic, truly compelling historical fiction or character-driven multicultural book. For picture books – I want quirky!

DB: Your so welcome Kathleen, thank you for being here and for being a judge for the contest!

The writing industry seems to have a million and one ways to concoct the perfect query letter.  Is there such a thing and if so what is your idea of the perfect one? 

KR: I think Andrea Brown said it best: “The perfect query letter is like the perfect skirt: long enough to cover everything but short enough to excite.” I love that line! For me personally, the perfect query demonstrates the author’s research (why did you choose me to query?), plot points and character intro (what’s the hook, why do I care about these characters - why do I want to open your sample?), and a brief bit about the author (relevant information – are you a member of SCBWI or any writing groups, published before, writing experience, etc.). Bonus points if you can cite comparable books already on shelves and why yours is different. Easier said than done, I know, but keep trying, research what a good query is like, and look at examples – it will help so much!

DB: Yes, it is easier said than done, but it's nice having some ideas laid out before us.  Writers can really work with what you gave us.  And I am loving Andrea Brown's quote!

Formatting a manuscript is a big concern for beginning writers.  What are the key points to know about it, and will format make or break an acceptance from an agent? 

KR: Format won’t make or break an acceptance – but it will get you that much closer to having an agent read your sample material. With so many queries to wade through, you don’t want to make it even the teeniest bit more difficult for an agent to read your work. If she/ he likes your query enough to open your pages, of course you want them to download or open properly. The simplest way to go is a doc file – not docx.  This is because it’s the version of Word that everyone can read (regardless of whether the recipient has the latest version of Word or a Mac or a PC or what-have-you). Additionally, this is the easiest file to open on an e-reader. Many of us are reading our queries on Kindles, iPads, or Nooks – so take that into account. Other than that, this is where research comes in – each agent will usually specify on their website profile or blog what format they prefer. Be smart about what your sample or manuscript is saved as – always put your last name and the title of your work in your document’s name.

DB: So good to know, I think I send things in docx.  Not any more:) 

Can you share with us a submission pet peeve you have? 

I think this is a pet peeve for all agents/editors, but please don’t submit things outside of my scope. This goes back to doing that pesky homework. If you have written a poetry collection or short stories for adult readers, I’m not your girl. The agent who will best represent your work is one who truly believes in it, so you want to only query agents that you know have the potential to love this kind of story.

DB: Got that people, do your homework.

Should a writer worry about trends before beginning a writing project? 

KR: Trends are not something to worry about. Any agent will tell you – do not write for a trend. The trendsetters certainly didn’t – write a book that YOU love and are proud of creating. That being said, trends are something you should be conscious of, just so you know your book’s marketability. For example, even if you didn’t write for the vampire trend, but you wrote a book with vampires you are excited about– it’s going to be a really tough sell right now because people are weary of those nightwalkers (no matter how fantastic it is).


Ooo, I know you all are wanting more...and I have more, but I am going to hold onto it until the week of the contest.  Give us something to really get excited about.  Kathleen's advice keeps on getting better, so get a pen and paper next time you come so you can take notes. 

If you are dying to know more about Kathleen right now or you can't wait until the contest for her to read your goods, head here to learn her submission guidelines and more about what she is looking for.

 If you are interested in signing up for the contest she will be judging, go here for the details.

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Gearin Up to Get an Agent Blog List and Blathering

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

I have put together a list of participants for the Gearin' Up to Get an Agent Blogfest for everyone.  So far we have 52 people entered and the number continues to grow! 

After today's post you can find the continually updated list to the left under the Pages section.  I figure now would be a great time to go ahead and get to know your fellow writing pals who signed up, follow them if you'd like, see what their about, build friendships, the choice is yours. 

As for the blogfest start date, we will be kicking things off here on the Fourth of July.  I know if you're in the US you may be busy setting off fireworks and all so don't worry, we're going to keep day one pretty low-key.  We'll basically do the sign-ups for the 'I Just Had to Ask...' portion of the fest and I will be giving further details. 

This is just a suggestion...If you want to stay up to date on when and how things will be happening you may want to sign up for email notifications which you can find on the right sidebar under the About Me section.

And as you check out your names and notice there is something you'd like to change, let me know and I will get it added.  I'd like to put the genre you write and any other links you may like to connect through, so let me know in the comments section here. 

It's not too late!  If you still want to sign up, you can.  Just go here,read what it's all about and sign up with your email and blog address in the comments section.  Then grab the button on the right sidebar and post it on your page.'re entered!

And now I give you the names so far.  Drumroll please....

fOIS in the City


Well folks, TWELVE DAYS left!  I hope you're getting ready!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

I Feel Famous!

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

I'm not one to gush or anything but...ok, I'm going to!  I had my first interview and my first guest post all in the span of a few days.  I feel so special!

If you want to check either of them out or the blogs of the lovely ladies who are the cause of all this giddiness on my part, then by all means do.

Emily Rittel-King has been a writer for awhile now and has recently restarted her blog, Get Busy Writing, after a small hiatus.  With this new beginning she is doing Blogger Mentor Mondays and I am her first interview!  If you want to read what I have to say or go over and check out the awesomeness that is my pal, go here.

Debbie Maxwell Allen from Writing While the Rice Boils saw some specialness in my post about adverbs and decided to guest post me.  Pretty cool!  You can check it out here.  On any given day Debbie posts the most helpful advice for writers.  I kid you not!

I frequent both of these blogs and you should too...not just because they noticed me, though that is outstanding in an of itself:)

So happy Monday everyone, happy writing and editing and any other writing goals you have too.  Oh and guess what???  It's almost July...Blogfest time!  Are you getting those queries and novels prepped?  If you don't know what in the world I'm talking about just click on the link at the top of this post, or the Gearin' Up to Get an Agent Blogfest button on the right sidebar.  The numbers keep on growing, it is going to be a blast!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Firsts Fridays: Rockin Debut Author Jennifer Hiller and ARC Giveaway!

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

It's that time again and boy have I got a Firsts Fridays doozy for you!  If you don't know Jennifer Hiller yet, what are you waiting for?  This girl is fab squared, just check her out (sadly I couldn't get her pic to download so I opted for her killer --no pun intended-- book cover instead).  Head over to her blog to check out her beautiful face and much more.

Jennifer was born in Toronto, which is where she spent the first three decades of her life. When her husband was offered a transfer to Seattle, she didn't know which would be worse: leaving Canada or moving to the West coast. She spent her first few months on American soil bemoaning her existence and writing her first novel. Now nicely settled in the Pacific Northwest, the only thing she misses — other than family and friends — is snow.
A member of International Thriller Writers, she's always been drawn to dark fiction, even though she sleeps with the lights on when her husband isn't home.
DB: Congrats on your debut novel Creep!  Can you tell us a little bit about it?

JH: Creep is a psychological thriller about a popular college professor who is stalked and terrorized by her teaching assistant. (Hey! I think I actually remembered my elevator pitch for once!)

DB: Ooo that really is creepy! 

Can you tell us about the process for Creep being born, from the first write to becoming a debut author?

JH: I started writing Creep back in the summer of 2008. I woke up with an idea about a serial killer and thought I’d bang out a short story. What I ended up with was a first chapter. Five months later, I had a completed first draft. With the help of a workshop I took through Gotham Writers in NYC, I revised the heck out of it, and ended up with a pretty polished seventh draft by the fall of 2009. I was ready to start querying, but I was terrified to jump in, even though I had written a query letter and had a detailed spreadsheet with a couple hundred agents I’d researched all ready to go.

I queried close to one hundred agents over a three-month period, sending out my queries in batches of about twenty each time. Half the agents rejected me. Ten requested. One offered. I blogged about getting The Call here:

My agent and I worked on another two rounds of revisions for Creep before going on submission on April 30, 2010. My book sold exactly two months later. And now, a year later, the book is about to come out! Creep will be available in stores on July 5, 2011.

I still can’t believe it all really happened.

DB: I honestly never tire of hearing these amazing stories.  Talk about motivation!
How do you go about writing?  Are you a plotter or a pantster and how long did it take you to finish the novel?
JH: On my own, I wrote seven drafts, which took fourteen months. Another two revisions with Victoria took an additional three months. I’m a pantster, but I’d love to be a plotter. As fun as it is to write a first draft organically (I love surprising myself!), second drafts are a nightmare for me. Once I get into the third draft, though, it’s fun, because by then the story structure is in place and it’s just a matter of making the prose as polished and shiny as possible. For my final draft, I print out the entire manuscript and read the whole thing out loud to myself. And I always edit with a purple ink pen.

DB: Did you read that readers?  Even the successful ones have draft after draft. 

What do you think has helped you develop your talent enough to become a published author?

JH: Workshopping helped a lot. I got my work ripped to shreds many times over, and while the feedback wasn’t always easy to take, it made my writing so much stronger (and my skin that much thicker). I also read extensively in my genre – I’m a huge fan of thriller authors like Jeffery Deaver, Chelsea Cain, and Greg Iles – and so I felt I had a good idea of what type of book would be marketable. In the end, I wrote the book that I really wanted to read.

DB: Can you tell us a little about your query letter and where you learned the most about queries?

JH: I spent a lot of time in Absolute Write’s Query Letter Hell forum reading and absorbing as much as I could about queries. I also read Janet Reid’s Query Shark blog religiously. In the end, though, I don’t think my query letter was all that strong – queries are ridiculously difficult to write! I tried out three different versions, and you can read them all here: (Hint: Version A, which was actually the second version I sent out, was the one that piqued my agent’s interest).

DB: Now see, I thought that was pretty good:)

Do you have any fun plans for the debut of Creep?  If so, how can we find out how to be a part of them?

JH: I’ll be at ThrillerFest in New York the same week that Creep is released (July 8 and 9) as part of the Debut Author’s Breakfast panel. Afterward, I’ll be signing books alongside my fellow debuts. I’m excited and nervous! I was at ThrillerFest two years ago when Creep was somewhere between the third and fourth drafts, and I can’t believe I get to go back this summer as a debut novelist. It’s so surreal… but in an amazing and wonderful way.

DB: I love it!  I couldn't be more excited for you:)

Who is your agent and how do you like that working relationship?

JH: I’m repped by Victoria Skurnick of Levine Greenberg. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the woman  kicks ass! We’ve been working together for over a year now and have developed a really strong relationship. She’s been in the publishing business a long time, and her advice is always spot-on. Plus she makes me laugh. I’ll be meeting her for the first time at ThrillerFest, and I can’t wait to give her a big fat hug for all her hard work.

DB: That gave me cold chills Jennifer!  You get to finally meet her!

Just for fun…

What is something we just have to know about you?

JH: Hmmm… not that this is a big secret, but my favorite movie of all time is The Princess Bride. I can find a quote from that movie to suit any occasion. I’m always surprised when someone tells me they’ve never seen it. INCONCEIVABLE!

DB: Haha...well I HAVE seen it.  I get your obsession!
JH: Thanks so much for having me, Deana! Since my book doesn’t come out for another two weeks, I’d love to offer one of your blog readers an ARC of Creep. I’ll do a random drawing for anybody who comments below, winner to be selected on June 21st.  
DB: How cool is that?  Even I can be suprised at my own interviews!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Writing Community in the Making

If you haven't signed up for the Gearin' Up to Get an Agent Blogfest, now's your time!
I am so head over heels in love with writing and writers.  When I first began this journey, I am ok with admitting I was in my own little bubble.  I hadn't the first idea of how to connect with other writers, let alone already published authors.  I didn't see how any writer would ever want to hang with a lowly little newbie like me. 

Fast forward a few years and I see what a load of bull honky I've been feeding myself all these years.  I am meeting writers left and right, learning that many have the same insecurities, dreams, challenges and goals that I have.  I love the writing community I have stumbled upon through blogging and other means.  It has opened my eyes to so much learning to be had and friends to be made and I only want that to grow.

This is where a fellow writing friend of mine comes in.  She is a work horse and I gawk at all she does.  One of those things is her starting a site that is in short, SPECTACULAR!  Time 4 Mommy is loaded with lovely ladies, talk, advice and giveaways. 

My absolute faves there are:
- The writing forum  which include a writer's chat in A Writer's Block, Creative Writing Prompts and a Critique Group.

- I'm also a fan...and contributor (though I've been a major slacker lately with all that is on my plate) of the Books Section.  There you will find book reviews, hops and a book club.  This months book we are reading is Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card just in case you were wondering.

This is a new and very quickly growing community.  I advise you stop over and join in the conversation.  There is nothing like watching a diamond in the rough turn into the shiny jewel we all see in the store.  This site is a diamond in the rough people so come and join us writers for some fun, learning and of course, gabbing!

Monday, June 13, 2011


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

I'm going to have to bow out of the awe inspiring posts today.  I feel like mush.  Meaning I am completely under the weather.  Please forgive me:(

I will say we have less than three weeks before the Gearin' Up to Get an Agent Blogfest so if you haven't signed up yet, what are you waiting for?  It will be loads of fun and critiques will be given by some greats! To check out the events we have going on for the July blogfest go here.


Also I haven't updated my Firsts Fridays June calendar to the left, but we have already had two pretty killer authors you can check out here.  And there is more goodness to come.

Here is the FF low down for the rest of the month:

June 17th- Jennifer Hiller: debut author, her novel Creep is coming out July 5th through Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books

June 24th- Kathleen Rushall: literary agent, recently made a change from Waterside Productions to Marshal Lyon Agency.  She is going to enlighten us on the ins and outs of what writers wanting an agent need to know.  

She is also helping me with the July blogfest.  Kathleen will be choosing the winner of the first 200 words novel contest.  She will also be giving said winner a query and first 30 page critique.  Now I don't think I have to tell you how valuable it is to have your work chosen and then critiqued by a literary agent.  Who knows what could happen if she really digs it.  So have those fulls ready! 

 Okay, this is about all I can handle for now, I'm going to put a movie in for the kiddos and curl up and rest.

Until next time.
Keep learning.  Keep writing.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Firsts Fridays: Author Traci Hall and Signed Book Giveaway!

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

Update: Congrats to Mandie at Time4Mommy!  She won Traci's autographed book Diary of a Bad Boy!
Are you trying to figure out whether traditional publishing or e-publishing is right for you?  Well, maybe our Firsts Friday's spotlight can help you out a little.  Traci Hall has experienced many firsts in writing but is recently giving the e-publishing route a go round.  Today she will share with us a little bit about what she's learned working both ways AND we'll get a sneak peek into her new book, Wiccan Chalice coming out in August 2011.

So what are we waiting for, lets get to know Traci Hall...

My name is Traci Hall and I love to write. Now that my kids are in college (yikes!) I figured I'd have more time to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, but that's not the case at all. I still find myself fighting for writing time. I am a barista at Starbucks - an excellent company to work for if you need a flexible schedule - and I market, promote and edit, which takes more time than writing the book.

***Read more to learn how you can enter and win a copy of Traci Hall's Diary of a Bad Boy ***

DB: You are already a published author, why now are you making the switch to self-publishing? And are you going to make this a permanent switch?

TH: Traditional publishing is soooo slow J My agent is shopping three different YA stories right now – paranormal stuff that is typical for today’s New York market. 
The coming of age stories that I am publishing under Kendelle Publishing are books about the aches and pains of growing up – nothing flashy, just great themes that appeal to a steady audience.  I have two other partials already completed and ready to shop as soon as the first three sell, which are in the same genre.  Self publishing my coming of age novels gives me freedom to have books available while I wait for New York.
DB: What a great idea!  You sound like you've been one busy lady with all those books:)
You are currently published through Medallion Press and Samhain Publishing which are smaller publishers, what is the process for a book going through this market?

TH: The process for submission to Medallion or Samhain is the same as it would be for any size publisher or agent.  Study the guidelines.  Query.  Be professional.  Never burn any bridges because you never know when the editor at the small niche house gets promoted to the BIG traditional house.  In this era of multi media, what you say can be repeated forever, lol.
DB: Great Advice!
Is there more work involved in self-publishing as far as marketing, book covers, editing, etc.?
TH: These days every writer I know has to work extra hard at doing their own marketing and promotion.  We all have websites, facebook, twitter and a mailing list.  I am considering a publicist to help keep me focused, so I don’t feel overwhelmed by the big wide web.  My experience at a smaller press was similar, where I did the majority of promotion– although both publishing houses were awesome about getting me into places to be reviewed.  I also had a say in my covers, and back blurb content.  Doing it myself – which in my case means hiring a professional, allows total control.  I recommend doing your homework and learning everything you can about why a book will sell, what makes the cover appealing, editing, formatting and creating a sales platform before actually putting a book up on Kindle or Smashwords.

DB: You nailed that one...even us non-published joes work our butts off marketing:)
Can you give someone unsure about whether to self-publish or go the traditional route some advice you have picked up along your journey as a writer?
TH: I recommend doing whatever feels right to you when it comes to self publishing or finding a traditional publisher.  From what I understand, how people make money in e format by self publishing is by having a large list of books to choose from.  You should be prolific, and ready to market at the drop of a hat.  The idea is to get your name and your stories out there to the reading public – I decided to try as many roads as possible.  One of them is bound to lead to success J

DB: Perfect advice!  What's right for one may not be right for the other. 
Could you tell us a little about your book coming out in August?
TH: Wiccan Chalice is the fourth paranormal young adult novel in the Rhiannon Godfrey series, and it will be available in August.  Rumor has it that the first book in the series, Her Wiccan Wiccan Ways, will be available as a FREE download that month – so keep your eyes open for it!  Rhiannon is a psychic prodigy who has Wiccan parents.  She claims her abilities come from a scientific base, while her mom and dad give thanks to the Goddess for all of her gifts.  In Wiccan Chalice, sixteen year old Rhiannon finds out that her mom is going to have a baby, and Rhee has to adjust to the idea of not being the only child in the family.  Weird psychic phenomenon begins happening, and Rhiannon has to figure out where the energy is coming from – her friend Melody, who recently moved into town, or Rhee’s ex boyfriend, Jared?  It could be Bonnie, or Corey - or maybe it’s the spirit showing up in every picture Rhiannon takes.
DB: These all sound so exciting!  And guess what folks?  Traci is giving away a signed copy one of her books, Diary of a Bad Boy  to one my readers.  Just leave a comment and I will randomly select someone Wed. June 15th.  The giveaway is only for the US.  Sorry everyone else:( 
Okay, last question, just for fun…
Can you tell us something we just have to know about you?
TH: A little known fact about me is that I love sand dollars.  My idea of a great day is walking the beach and finding a whole sand dollar – I live on the coast of Jupiter and we don’t get very many.  I think they are pure magic!!
DB: Very cool tidbit!  Traci, thanks so much for joining us today.  I wish you the best of luck in all your writing endeavors.
TH: I wish everyone success in their writing journey, and if I can help in any way, please email me at
I am part of a writing video series called I WANNA BE A WRITER that you can find on you tube – they are pure fun, but there is excellent information there too!
Haven't gotten enough of Traci yet?  Check her out on her website:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Get Out of Your Own Way!

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

Please tell me I'm not the only one who makes a list of writerly things to do the night before.  You know, the kind when your head hits the pillow, just before you float away to sleep you smile because this is it.  Because of this list you are finally going to get it together and make it all happen the way you want. 

Then the next day comes.  You oversleep, the baby is sick, your daughter is yelling at you because she wants to go to the pool and your husband is out of clean socks.  By the time you get the children calm and load of laundry in, your emails have piled up.  You really should check them because you don't want to get behind.  There could be some great writing info in there, maybe a tidbit on great agents and that will be important if you ever finish your novel.

Finally, all caught up, it's time to get down to business.  Oh wait, the kids are hungry.  Is it already lunchtime?  And that laundry, can't forget to put it in the dryer.  Might as well do another load while you're at it.  Oh and the house, you at least need to straighten it.

What kids?  You say you're tired of being cooped up in the house all day?  The guilt settles.  To the park you go!

Once are good, second load of laundry is drying--the rest can wait.  It really is time to write. 

Oh, hey honey.  Is it already 5:30?  Guess you'd better start dinner, clean up dinner, get the kids bathed and in bed. 

Whew!  Now you're going to do it...get one word on paper at least.  No wait, Vampire Diaries season finally is on tonight.  You can't miss that and then if you don't get in bed you won't be able to move in the morning.

Okay, fine, after you watch that you will make another list for tomorrow and this time you'll be better.  This book isn't going to write itself.

Sound like a day in your life?  If not, good for you! 

Do you get in your own way?  This example is one tiny thing I do in a long list of road blocks.  What are yours and how do you deal with them?

A couple things I do to get out of my own way are:

1)Find the writing time that works for me and stick with it.  For me this happens to be early before the kids wake up.  Talking myself out of it and sleeping in would be nice, but then writing doesn't happen when I do.  We are all different.  What is right for you?

2)Break down my writing goals into small attainable goals.  How long do you want your current novel to be?  When do you want to finish the first draft?  How many days do you plan on writing?  Figure those three things out and you will come up with a number.  Mine is 1283.  Is your number doable for you?  If not tweak some things, but get your number and stick to it.

3) Stay on course.  It is easy to get side tracked with emails, play times, phone calls and the many other things that come in our way every day.  Try setting time aside for each of these things so they don't interfere.  Then...don't cheat.  If the phone rings while you are writing, don't pick it up.  Plan play time and when it comes make it happen, don't wait.  The kids will be happier and so will you.

These are just a few things that work for me, but just like my novel, I am a work in progress so I'd love to hear from you.  What do you do to get out of your own way?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Plot Whisperer + Follow Love + Tag You're It = Good Stuff

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

This weekend you guys made me blush.  How?  Well, I passed the 200 follower mark and I am thrilled for the love.  I hope you come back often and enjoy what you see.  Leave me a comment too because I am addicted to checking out other blogs.  It gets me all warm and fuzzy inside to find like-minded friends.


Now, on to writing endeavors...I have found a new love...other than my 202 followers:)  Ok, and maybe it's not brand new, but I'm just getting around to telling you all about it.  What, you may ask, could possibly make me weak in the knees and googly eyed in love?  Martha Alderson is what, or as she is known in the writer's circles...the Plot Whisperer.

How often have you had a story idea that seems an insurmountable obstacle you couldn't possible keep in check so you give it up rather than trying, move on to something you think might be more doable?

My new wip has been this kind of challenge...until I found the Plot Whisperer.  She breaks the story down in such a way that you have no choice but to know the ins and outs of the Protagonist, Antagonists, the world and so on. 

Her plot series layers your novel so important pieces don't get lost or she takes your idea and helps you build a well thought out masterpiece.

Here are her 27 steps from You Tube which are each from 5-10 minutes and well worth your time.  They are:

  • Step 1: Dramatic Action Plot

  • Step 2: Character Emotional Development Plot

  • Step 3: Setting for the Beginning

  • Step 4: Exotic World

  • Step 5: 3 Major Plots in Every Story

  • Step 6: Secondary Plots & Subplots

  • Step 7: Climax Affect on Beginning (part 1)

  • Step 8: Climax Affect on Beginning (part 2)

  • Step 9: Energy Anatomy of the Universal Story

  • Step 10: Plot the Beginning

  • Step 11: Turning Points

  • STEP 12: Goal for the Middle

  • Step 13: Antagonists in the Middle

  • Step 14: The Exotic World of the Middle

  • Step 15: Halfway Point -- Recommitment Scene in the Middle

  • Step 16: Rediscovered Skills and Knowledge in the Middle

  • Step 17: Cause and Effect in the Middle (scenes and emotion)

  • Step 18: Character Emotion and Thematic Significance

  • Step 19: Creating Conflict & Tension in Prep of Crisis

  • Step 20: Writing the Crisis

  • Step 21: Developing the Threshold Scene after the Crisis in the Middle

  • Step 22: The Beginning of the End

  • Step 23: Thematic Significance

  • Step 24: Relationship Bond

  • Step 25: Develop Scene Sequence to Climax

  • Step 26: How to Create the Climax

  • Step 27: Resolution

  • ***
    Last item of business, I was tagged by uber-talented Juliana Brandt.  If you haven't checked out her on her name darn-it, she is awesome!

    So here we go.
    Do you think you're hot?This may be tmi, but it depends on if it's that time of the month or not
    Upload a picture or wallpaper that you're using at the moment.
    This is for my current wip.  It gets me motivated.

    When was the last time you ate chicken meat? For lunch, we had Hawaiian haystacks.

    The song(s) you listened to recently.  Arms of an Angel by Sarah McLachlan

    What were you thinking as you were doing this?
    That the guy singing above song on America's Got Talent was rockin' it

    Do you have nicknames? What are they?   Umm, yea.  They are in no particular order: Bean, Sunny D, Sweetie Pie, Deana Beana, Smile Child

    Tag 8 blogger friends...
    Katie Ganshert
    Lora Rivera
    Robin Weeks
    Cara Nelson
    Pk Herzo
    Ashley Nixon
    Leslie Rose

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    Firsts Fridays: Nancy Allen, Children's Author

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


    I am particularly fond of this Firsts Fridays Spotlight because she's a good ole' country girl like me, living in me!

    If children's books is the area you want to get into then this is the lady for you.  She has 20 picture books and 1 chapter book published as well as more picture books in various stages of publication.  Clearly she isn't having a first but she does remember what it was like.  Let's see how her knowledge can help us in our journey shall we...

    Nancy is surrounded by children’s books, and that’s how she likes it. Her former profession as a primary school librarian together with her evening ritual of writing or ‘pondering’ her next children’s story has provided the perfect creative atmosphere. She fondly recalls childhood evening story times and credits her father’s never-ending supply of humorous stories for her love of reading and writing. She has a master’s degree in Elementary Education from Morehead State University and a master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Kentucky. Nancy lives in Kentucky, in the very log cabin in which she grew up in Knott County. She shares this home with her husband Larry and two canine writer assistants, Jazi and Roxi.

    DB: Since our ‘Firsts Fridays’ is all about spotlighting other’s firsts in an effort to help fellow writers, can you tell us a first that was particularly beneficial to you in your writing career?
    NA: When I was mailing picture book manuscripts to publishers and trying to land my first contract, rejection letters practically beat me back home. If it hadn’t been for rejection letters, I would have had no contact with editors those first seven years. One day, my husband came in from mowing a field of hay. He walked upstairs to change clothes and reached into his pockets to remove the loose change. In an attempt to drop the change into a small jar, the coins missed the opening and clinged and clanged, tinged and pinged against the wood floor. As soon as I heard the clinging and tinging, I looked at my two canine babies and said, “Listen, girls, the money tree is ripe and dropping its fruit.” I don’t know where that idea came from but as soon as it poured out of my mouth, I knew I had the heart and soul of a book. I began working on the story that afternoon. A few weeks later, I gave the story to a friend of mine. She said it wasn’t ready because the farmer and the woman in the story should get married. I didn’t want to hear that because it meant I would have to make a major revision. I snatched the manuscript, worked and reworked the plot, and returned it to the same friend for another critique. This time, she loved it. I mailed the manuscript to the publisher and the contract soon followed. Two years later I held my first picture book, Once Upon a Dime, in my hands.

    DB: Now that is a cool story...I suppose we all must start from humble beginnings)
    You have already told us some of this , but how long did it take for you to get published and can you tell us a little more about that road?
    NA: Nine long years after I began writing, I received my first book. Later, I discovered that seven years is the average time to get a contract.  There are several reasons my manuscripts were rejected. The primary reason was that I had not developed my writing skills to the level required to garner a contract. Each rejected manuscript led me down the path a little closer to my goal of publication. With each story, my writing improved so I don’t consider any of the rejected work a waste of time. Writing is a journey and rejection is simply a bump in the road. During this time, I worked as a school librarian and read books to kids every day. Not only did I become acquainted with the styles of lots of authors, learn the type of books in the marketplace, and gain exposure to good writing, but just as importantly, I observed the reaction of students to the various types of books. Working with books and kids provides a fertile training ground. The wider the variety of books I read, the more I experimented with my writing. Slowly but surely, the contracts came. I also learned to target the manuscript with the publisher and editor who were most likely to publish it.
    DB: You always here the best practice for writers is to read read read, in your case it sounds like it was absolutely true!
    Is it pretty easy to write a book and get it in stores because you already have a large number of books out, or is every time like the first time?

    NA: Competition is fierce so every manuscript has to offer something that resonates with the editor and team that make the decision to publish a book. Writing is never easy for me. I play with each word, each phrase, trying to squeeze the music out of the words and the rhythm out of the phrases so they play on the ear with a ping and a ting or a swoosh and swish. I use metaphors, alliteration, similes, and other devices to add that extra element to capture and hold the attention of the audience. I want each piece I write to hold up to multiple readings. When parents tell me that their child wants to hear my book read every night, I simply tingle inside. That’s music to my ears. When I first began this wonderful adventure, my goal was simple: I wanted to write a story that would be published. I wanted a book. Today, my goal is to write a story that will hold up over time. By writing the best story I can create, the chances of a contract increase.
    DB: Do you have any exciting future projects you’d like to share?
    NA: I have a new book, Big C and Little Ox, coming out sometime this summer. Big C is a Cape buffalo and Little Ox is an ox bird. Big C needs Little Ox to nibble the fleas off his back. Little Ox needs the food. The buffalo is a loner, grouchy, and has little to say.  The ox bird is the opposite: jabbers, happy mood, and enjoys the company of the Cape buffalo. The two personalities collide but the characters learn that although they are different, they can still be friends.

    DB: That sounds adorable!  I'll bet my son would love that book:) 

    What is the best advice you’ve learned in the biz that you just have to share with us?
    NA: The top ten ways to become a writer are write, write, write, write, write, write, write, write, write, and you guessed it, write. The next best way to learn good writing skills is to read, especially books in the genre in which you want to write. If you love writing westerns, read lots and lots of westerns. The same is true for children’s books, romance novels, mysteries, or any other writing.
    Accept the fact that you will receive rejection. That’s just part of the process of improving your writing skills. Writers who land coveted contracts are those who persevere, who don’t give up.

    DB: Wonderful advice Nancy!  Thanks so much for coming on and sharing your words of wisdom:) 

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Gearin' Up to Get an Agent Blogfest Specifics

    One month from today it's happening people!  We are going to put our writing caps on, sharpen our pencils (or turn on Word as the case may be) and get ready to rumble.  I'm excited, are you???

    I've had two main questions come up that I will answer, as well as give the week to week deets for the blogfest.  So let's get this party started shall we....

    I don't think I'm quite ready for an agent, can I still join?  Oh yea!  This blogfest is gearing up to get an agent...if that is tomorrow great.  If it is three, six, even ten years down the line, that's ok too.  We are getting ready by building our platform, moving those creative juices in our brains and, if you are to the point, working on queries and submitting part of your novel to an agent for the final contests.  You can join in on part, or all the fun...the choice is yours.  There will be critique contests at the end of each week so even if you don't have a polished manuscript or query, you can still win a critique!

    How much time is needed to go into this blogfest? As much or as little as you'd like.  There will be four different mini-fests.  As I said in the previous question, you can do one or all.  It is up to you as well as the amount of time you take visiting other blogs, making connections and building your platform.

    Now we're going to get down to the nitty-gritty.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, click on the button above or go here.

    Here is the layout for the blogfest...

    Week 1:
    I Just had to ask...
    What burning questions (about writing of course) do you have?  It doesn't matter how ridiculous you think it may be, just ask.  Post the question on your blog and we will hop around the blogs trying to help each other out.  Discussions about topics on writing can really pump you up for your novel, plus you can make connections, follow one another, brainstorm platform building ideas...whatever.  This will be our time to ease into the blogfest and get to know one another.

    Giveaway for week 1: critique overview of a picture book ($30 value), or an overview of the first 3 chapters of a YA or Mid-grade novel ($55 value) from Margot Finke, published children's book author and critique extraordinaire.

    Week 2:
    Story Chain
    We are really going to get those creative juices flowing with the story chain. 

    Rules of the Story Chain
    -I will create a list for the participants of this mini-fest, each will have a time they have to post their story by on their blog and a word limit of 50-100 words. 
    -Follow, make connections with as many in the chain as possible. 
    -The first in line will start the story having a certain theme and a few special words that have to be used.  
    -The next person in line will continue it with there own direction and words for which they have been assigned to take the story. 
    -Each theme will be pretty vague so the individual can really do their own thing and make the story unique. 
    -By the end of the day we should have a story...who knows how it will turn out:)

    Giveaway at the end of week 2: Rach Harrie, Crusade guru will be giving away a double query critique!  And by double I mean she will critique it not once, but TWICE.  This should really get you geared up for week three...

    Week 3
    Query Critique Contest

    I think this one is pretty self explanatory.  If you are ready to query then we are ready to help. 
    -Monday post your query on your blog. 
    -We will hop around giving our input
    -Tuesday take your polished query and email it to me
    -Wednesday I will pick top 5 or 10 depending on number of participants and post on my blog
    -Friday agent gone writer, Lora Rivera will pick a winner and he/she will get a choice of query critique or a first 5 page critique. 
    One thing about Lora and her critiques...
    She may not be an agent anymore, but she still thinks like one.  She has told me her critiques are very thorough, therefore I believe they are extremely beneficial!

    Week 4:
    First 200 Words YA Novel Contest

    Literary agent Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency and author Monica B.W. (rep by Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary Agency) have been awesome enough to help me host this contest!  Sorry, but this contest is only for YA or mid-grade novels. 

    -Monday post first 200 words of your completed manuscript along with your name, title, genre and novel length
    -Those participating and anyone else who wants to help can hop around giving constructive criticism
    -Polish manuscript as you see fit
    -Tuesday email your final submission to me
    -Wednesday I will pick top 5 or 10 (depending on entries) and post on my blog
    -Friday Kathleen will pick a first and second place winner
    -1st place will win a query and first 30 page critique from her
    -Second place will win a first 10 page critique from Monica

    Do any of these sound like something you could dig your heels into?  If so go here to sign up.  Just give me your name, email address and blog and I will contact you the closer the contest to find out what weeks you want to participate in.

    You may want to sign up for email updates or rss feed updates to stay up on the latest and greatest info for the contest.  Other than that, let the countdown begin!!!

    Whew!  That was a mouthful.  Please let me know if you have any more questions.  The closer we get to the big day, the more I'm sure I'll remember extra things and let you know.

    Until then...
    Keep writing.  Keep learning.