Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Look! She's Aliiiiiiiiiiive!

Whew! It's been a week since I blogged. Crickets were about to set up residence. Readers were lining up and it sounded a little something like this:

BUT, it turns out, I was this:

Why was I mostly dead? Because I was up to my eyeballs in my second round of edits on DEFIANCE. I turned them in on Friday, and then spent the next few days stuffing my brains back into my head. The entire process looked something like this:

Yes. I have a plan. The words are flowing. I know what I'm doing! Due Friday morning, you say? No problem!

Who told this scene to misbehave? Wait...WHO TOLD THIS ENTIRE MANUSCRIPT TO MISBEHAVE?

It's okay. IT'S OKAY. My plot isn't broken. My pacing isn't broken either. If I just twist this piece and tug on that line and move THIS ... and then pray for a small miracle ...

Rome is burning. ROME IS BURNING!

Alright. So I burned down *#$%ing Rome. That will just have to be my new plot crisis. Anyone who doesn't like it can burn too.

Thursday night. Arcs. Plot twists. Veeeeerrrrrrbbbbbs. I don't think I remember what a verb is anymore. Is that a problem? I hope that's not a problem. 

*cue hysterical laughter for no apparent reason*

Hey! Rome didn't burn! All the pieces miraculously fit! I turned it in on time and I DID NOT DIE!

Shh. My brain is dead.

Accurate post-edit face. For four days. Maybe five.

And that is why I haven't blogged in a week. *wanders off yelling BRAAAAAAIIIIINNNNZZZZZ!*

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Interview With Lisa Mantchev

I've been a loyal Lisa Mantchev fan since I met her on Twitter two years ago, a few months before her first book, EYES LIKE STARS, came out. I was fortunate enough to get an advanced copy of ELS, and I was WOWED. Smart, original, vivid, compelling, and addictive! Then, PERCHANCE TO DREAM came out, and I was thrown for a loop. I'd thought I was staunchly Team Nate, but ... PTD made me wonder if maybe I was really Team Ariel. Or both! Can I please have both?

So now, as the final book in the trilogy is released, I thought I'd have Lisa on the blog to introduce these fabulous books to my readers. (I won't tell you which team I finally decided to support! You'll have to read and decide for yourself!) Here's a sneak peek at SO SILVER BRIGHT:

Things are never easy for Beatrice Shakespeare Smith. Something's happened to the Théâtre Illuminata, putting the only home she's ever known in limbo. Her mother's sanity is fraying under the strain, her father has vanished and an angry goddess is out for revenge. Bertie is caught between her duties and her dreams, just as her heart is torn between Ariel and Nate. But hope glimmers in a Distant Castle, and if Bertie can put on the performance of her life, maybe she can win the magical boon that may save them all.

Lisa decided to be interviewed by the Spork of Doom. Considering how easily she handled Captain Jack last year, I think the Spork should be worried.

Spork of Doom

Lisa Mantchev
Now that you know who's who, it's time to reveal the cupcake of ... well, this is a PG blog, so I can't really use the adjective this cupcake deserves. If you've read Lisa's books, you know the fairies from A Midsummer Night's Dream are mischievous scamps who both help and hinder Beatrice in her journey. The fairies are especially distracted by dessert. When Lisa told me the theme of SO SILVER BRIGHT is dreams coming true, my hubby decided to make a cupcake of a fairy's dream come true. It ... well ... he was tired. It was super late. And I think that while his original vision was sound, this is the cupcake destined to go down in cupcake history as the Frosting Crotch. Without further ado, I give you Lisa's interview with the Spork of Doom and one lucky fairy getting his ultimate cake dream.

1. I’m all about world domination, and I’m always looking for good help. Would you be an acceptable minion in my quest?

Probably not. I'm the older sister, which means I am bossy as all get out. I don't follow orders well (never have) and prefer to take the reins in almost any project, be it business or pleasure. Hence the reason I started writing short stories... I got tired of the "rules" of online roleplaying. What's that you say? My elfin elemental sorceress can't become a vampire? Well, screw you! I'm taking my writerly toys and playing by myself over there! *stomps off*

2. The only rule you need to understand is that I make the rules. Being a Spork of Doom takes moxie. What’s the sporkiest thing you’ve ever done?

I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die!

Interesting. I didn't think a spork could raise an eyebrow like that.

3. Funny. You don't look like Johnny Cash. Besides, shooting is for wimps who don't have titanium tines at their disposal. When I’m not busy taking over the world, I like to eat pie. What kind of pie do you think is worthy of my Spork of Doom status?

My mom makes the most Awesome Pie Ever... it's called a "flat apple pie" and it's made in a cookie sheet. Seriously! You roll out enough crust to cover the bottom of the cookie sheet, then put down a thin layer of crushed corn flakes (stick with me, I know it sounds weird) then slices of Granny Smith apple, then the top layer of pie crust. Bake, and douse with lemony powdered sugar glaze. When it's cool, you can pick up a big square of it in your hand and NOM NOM NOM.

4. *glares* While I'm sure that travesty of a "pie" is delicious, a REAL pie is one where you can use your tines and not your hand. What’s your favorite thing to do with a spork?

Eat pie and poke people. I actually own a titanium spork from ThinkGeek that was a gift from my friend, Jenna Waterford.

5. Ah ... so that's where one of my minions resides. Don't worry about any noises you might hear in the kitchen on October 9th, 2011. I'm sure it's just the cat and NOT the soon-to-be infamous Spork Uprising. I have the ability to be simultaneously spoon, fork, and weapon of mass destruction. What unique ability do you have?

I'm the Queen of Show and Tell... which is a fancy way of saying I like going overboard when it comes to things like parties and projects. For my senior thesis project in college, I did the costume, scenic, and lighting design for an imaginary production of Much Ado About Nothing set in WWII-era New Orleans Mardi Gras. I built a replica of our on-campus theater out of foamboard, added working colored lights that ran on dimmer switches, installed speakers to the back that played swing music, painted and displayed more than a dozen watercolor costume designs, then decorated the table with masks, beads, plastic champagne flutes, and banners.

*might have taken home a prize for that*

6. So, you're saying your superhero ability is to be an over-achiever? HOW does this make sense with your paltry little under-achieving pie from question 3? In this day and age, a savvy spork bent on world domination can’t afford to ignore a good marketing campaign. I’m thinking t-shirts with “Spork or Die.” If you made a shirt with your own slogan on it, what would it say?

I have "Taste the Bad Candy" written in silver on my (black) business cards. Let's just say it never fails to get the conversational ball rolling.

7. Actually, that has a nice ring to it. *takes notes* If I had to compare myself to anyone in history, I’d have to say I’m most like Napoleon. Only skinnier. And shinier. And smart enough not to lose my empire at a place with a ridiculous name like Waterloo. Who are you most like and why?

Considering my obsession with cake and the fact that I'd forget my head if it wasn't attached--I blame the kids!--I have to answer Marie Antoinette.

8. Why is your job just as much fun as world domination?

Because I literally get to do and say everything I've ever wanted to... all I have to do is imagine something and then write it down. Best magic trick ever.

9. I get to do and say everything I've ever wanted to. If someone tries to stop me, I spork them! In between conquests, I like to read a good story. What can you recommend and why?

Michelle Zink's trilogy, starting with Prophecy of the Sisters, Cindy Pon's lush Asian fantasies that start with Silver Phoenix, Stephanie Burgis's Kat books (different titles here and in the UK), Tiffany Trent's forthcoming Unnaturalists, Y.S. Lee's The Agency series, and Ysabeau Wilce's Flora Segunda series. Obviously, I like my YA well-written and full of good costuming!

10. Speaking of costumes, you need to accomplish a secret, night-time mission as my minion. Cloak? No cloak? Why?

I think Edna Mode said it best in The Incredibles... NO CAPES.

11. My best piece of advice to others is this: “Fear the spork!” What’s your best advice?

Play nice with the other kids (unless they hit you first, then clean their clock!) Also, eat dessert first.

Thank you, Lisa, for such an entertaining interview! To find out more about Lisa's books, included links to where you can purchase them, head to her website. Of course, the fun isn't over yet! Lisa is offering a fabulous giveaway to one lucky commenter.
Prize package: Signed paperback of EYES LIKE STARS, signed paperback of PERCHANCE TO DREAM, and assorted Theatre Illuminata swag!
The contest is open to North America until Sunday, August 28th at 8 p.m. Central Time. To enter, simply fill out the form below. Good luck, and happy reading!

Winner of the Nocturne Necklace!

Thank you to all who entered the giveaway for the necklace inspired by Christine Johnson's NOCTURNE and designed by the fabulous Tashina Falene! As always, I used to choose the winner. And the lucky winner is

Allison Mulder

Congratulations, Allison! I hope you love your new necklace. You'll be receiving a confimation email from me shortly.

If you didn't win this time, don't worry. Lisa Mantchev is being interviewed on the blog later today and is bringing an awesome giveaway with her!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Top Five Ways to Prepare for the Zombie Goat Invasion

The hilarious and talented Christine Johnson is back this week with another giveaway and her sure-fire methods for preparing to face the Zombie Goat Invasion! Up for grabs is this gorgeous necklace designed just for Christine's books(CLAIRE DE LUNE and NOCTURNE) by the fabulous Tashina Falene.

To enter, simply fill out the Google doc below this post. Contest is open to North America and closes Sunday, August 21st at 8 p.m. Central time. But FIRST, find out what you need to do to ready yourself for the Zombie Goats. Oh, yeah. They're coming. Take it away, Christine.

1) Buy canned goods. Either you can eat them, or else you can lob the cans at the zombie goats. They'll either be injured or else distracted by the cans - goats are notorious for their willingness to eat cans, right?! Hmm. I'm beginning to worry about my odds of survival.

2) When the looting starts, FOR GOD'S SAKE HIT THE SPORTING GOODS STORE. Go to the shoe section first. It seems like almost all of the post-apocalyptic zombie stuff I've read features people who are invariably hampered by their poor footwear. I, for one, am not a fast runner. I need all the assistance a well-fitted athletic shoe can give me. You're taking notes, right?

3) Lay in a stock of glue-on horns, fake beards, and red contact lenses with horizontal slits. Zombie goats? Not that smart. There's a possibility of slipping past them if you're disguised as a fellow zombie goat. I think. Maybe. Oh, crap.

4) Shower. A lot. If you don't stink, I think you have a better shot at hiding from the goats. (Have you gathered yet that my advice is all bad?)

5) Buy books. Why not? If you're going to get zombie-goat-ified, you might as well be reading something good while it happens!

I, for one, am going to go hop in the shower, put on my best fake beard, and curl up with an awesome book. Look at me! I'm goat free! Great advice, Christine. :)

Please leave Christine a comment at the end of this post, and don't forget to enter to win the fabulous, one-of-a-kind necklace designed in honor of her books!

First Post Sale Interview

Want a sneak peek at my book? Want to know what I would do if I knew the world was ending?

Check out my first post-sale interview! And be sure to leave a comment so I know whom to call on when I need a minion you were there! :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Where's The Beef?

Pardon the title. I saw an I Love The 80's Show recently and now, stuck like duct tape to my frontal lobe is THIS:

You're welcome.

I sort of wanted to title this post A Love Letter To My Editor, but she prefers me to show my love to her with baked goods and squeezable chickens. Which is fine. I prefer love via baked goods and squeezable chickens too. It's one of the many reasons we're a good match.

The true point of this post, though is this: Do you really need an editor?

I've seen both sides of the debate on this. There's the "Everyone needs a professional editor!" camp. And there's the "Editors take over your work and make it their own thereby stamping out all freedom of creativity!" camp. And plenty of people in between.

So, do YOU need an editor?

I can't answer that for you, any more than I could tell you if you need a literary agent, or if you should self-publish or hold out for a deal from a traditional publisher. Those are personal decisions based on what you want out of your career, and what you feel is best for you.

I can, however, tell you why, even though I'll be self-publishing my adult urban fantasy novels, I will never put a book out without working closely with a good editor. I turn in really clean drafts. In fact, one of the editors I spoke to when I was looking at offers for DEFIANCE told me the draft was publishable as is. If so, why use an editor?

Because there's a gap between publishable and HOLY COW AWESOME.

A good editor knows how to equip you to close that gap.

Having gone through two rounds of edits on the "publishable as is" DEFIANCE, I can say with confidence that gap has lessened. Will you read my book and decide it's HOLY COW AWESOME? I don't know. That's between you and my book. But I'm so pleased with the revisions I would probably lick the manuscript in public given half the chance.

So, how did  my editor equip me to close that gap? Did she tell me what to write? Take over the scenes and insert her own ideas?


She simply pushed me. Asked me tough questions.(Please note she has yet to highlight a section of my manuscript and ask "Where's the Beef?" but after this post, I expect that situation to be remedied.) She pointed out plot holes or pacing issues. Gave me feedback on the various story arcs. And then sat back and let me ruminate on it all until I could SEE how to fix and polish and perfect the story. My way.

Always my way.

My editor treats me and my story with respect. Part of that respect means she recognizes that I have the chops to really push this story to its full potential. Another part of that respect means if she questions something, and I say "No, it stays this way because ...", she listens. Because it's my story. Always my story.

She's there to help me make it the story I always meant to write in the first place.

Having that push, those tough questions, and that feedback from someone as committed as I am to making DEFIANCE the best it can be has been invaluable, and I'll never send a manuscript out into the world without it. It makes me a better writer.

So, do YOU need an editor? I don't know. But I do know if you decide the answer is yes, you should hold out for one who not only "gets" your story, but who respects you and your vision for your book and simply seeks to push you to make your original vision an amazing reality.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway for the signed set of a paperback CLAIRE DE LUNE and a hardback NOCTURNE from the hilarious Christine Johnson! As always, I used to pick the winner. And the lucky winner is

Scott Stillwell

Congratulations, Scott! You will receive a confirmation email from me shortly. Didn't win this time? Don't worry! This Wednesday, Christine is back with her Top Five post and another giveaway. Until then, happy reading!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Interview with Christine Johnson

I met Christine Johnson on Twitter several months ago and was immediately impressed. She exudes kindness and class. Plus, she's a ton of fun! So, when I learned she had NOCTURNE, the follow up to last year's gorgeous CLAIRE DE LUNE, coming out, I couldn't wait to have her on the blog. Not only did she agree to be interviewed, she offered to give away a signed set of both CLAIRE and NOCTURNE. Yay! Here's a peek at both books:


Hanover Falls hasn’t had a werewolf problem in over one hundred years. Seattle, Copenhagen, Osaka–they’ve had plenty of attacks. But when humans begin dying in Claire Benoit’s town, the panic spreads faster than a rumor at a pep rally. At Claire’s sixteenth birthday party, the gruesome killings are all anyone can talk about. But the big news in Claire’s mind is the fact that Matthew Engle–high-school soccer god and son of a world-renowned lycanthropy expert–notices her. And flirts with her. A lot…

After the tragic events of the summer, Claire is looking forward to a new school year. All she wants to worry about is finding the most gorgeous dress to wear to the Autumn Ball with her perfect boyfriend. But as Claire know all too well, the life of a werewolf is never that simple, or that sweet…

I've always been a sucker for a good werewolf story! Naturally, being storyteller who loves shape-shifters, Christine chose to be interviewed by the Were-llama. Let's meet today's guests.


Christine Johnson
Now that you know who's who, it's time to reveal the beautiful cupcake my hubby made in honor of Christine's book. My hubby would like it noted that he is most grateful to Christine for having a simple tree branch design on her book cover, with nary a decomposing limb or intricate design in sight. He hopes other authors lined up for interviews on this blog are equally considerate but considering his wife's love of books with decomposing limbs and intricate designs on the cover, he doesn't hold out much hope. Without further ado, let's reveal the NOCTURNE cupcake and dive into the interview!

1. So, you’re a writer. I’m a super-scary shape-shifter who can command obedience with the awesome power of my glowing red eyes. What do we have in common?

Glowing red eyes, obviously. Though I find I get less screaming in public when I wear my regular, hazel-green contact lenses. *muah, hah, haaaaaaa* Seriously, though, writers are complete shape-shifters. It’s one of the things I love most about it. Before I was a writer, I was in the theater and it filled the same need for me - that desire to get right down into someone else’s head and see the world through their eyes. As a writer, I get to do that *all the time*, which makes me incredibly lucky. My job is to imagine how other people think and work and walk and talk. I get to be whoever I want while I stare at my computer. I love that.

2. I feel no need to be anyone else. Being ME is a full time job. I like to spit at my enemies from whichever end is closest to them. Do any of your characters have cool abilities like that?

Not so much with the spitting, no. But I do love things that are beyond the ordinary, which is one reason I love paranormal and sci-fi so much. In the CLAIRE DE LUNE novels, my Super Awesome All-Girl Werewolves do have the occasional extra-extra special ability, like Claire’s gift for hearing conversations that are taking place miles away. She can only do it in wolf form, but then I’m guessing you can only spit dangerously in Llama form?

3. Are you casting aspersions upon my spitting ability? *glares* Tread carefully, madam, lest you meet my business end and rue your very existence. If I had a nickname, it would be The Awesome. You?

The Klutzy. Possibly also The Random. Or maybe The Sarcastic. Which are all fairly lame as nicknames go, but are pretty accurate descriptors.

4. All nicknames except The Awesome are fairly lame, and that one is taken. I hang around this blog because I love stories. What’s your story about? Bonus points if it includes a llama.

No llamas. Sorry. NOCTURNE is the continuation of Claire Benoit’s story. Claire, part of an all-woman werewolf species, is struggling to find a way to fit her new, secret life as a shape shifter into her normal high school world without blowing either of her identities to smithereens. When the pack’s challenges prove to come with unimaginably dire consequences and her strained secrets threaten to burst her whole life at the seams, Claire has to find a way to stitch it all back together or lose everything she’s ever known - herself included.

5. It does sound fairly exciting, but you have to admit if you threw a llama into the mix, no one could resist your story. You’re making me a cake worthy of my awesome Were-llama status and decorating it to represent your story. What does it look like?

I can’t remember. I ate it too quickly. Cake doesn’t last that long around me. Okay, okay! Um, it would be a red velvet cake with white and black frosting, so that all the colors of my AWESOME new covers would be represented. And I think it would be a long, skinny, rectangular cake, with black shimmer-coated fondant. Across the top would be a very simple pattern of the phases of the moon, in white fondant, with the full moon smack in the middle of the cake and the waxing and waning phases stretching out to the left and right. Simple, but strong and elegant. Which is what I hope the books are.

6. YOU ATE MY CAKE??!? *prepares spit* I'll have you know the only thing saving you right now is C.J.'s hubby, who is unduly impressed that you know what fondant is. Any Were-llamas in your book?

There *were* Were-llamas. Then the werewolves ate them. Sorry.

7. Brace yourself. I'm told death by llama spit is most unpleasant. Anyone who might be a Were-llama and you just haven’t figured it out yet?

I have my suspicions about a particular sales clerk at the mall in Hanover Falls, but it’s hard to say.

8. Llamas or camels and why? Think carefully.

Llamas. Better hair. (Fur? Hair? Crap. Now I have to Google this.)

9. Better EVERYTHING. I give you a baby Were-llama as a companion. What do you name her?

“Little Lily-Llama the Magnificent”. Or “Spitty”. It depends on my mood.

10. I'd go with the first one, unless you want the second to constantly be mistaken for a command. My favorite word is “awesome” because, yanno, look at me. What’s yours?

I love too many words to pick a favorite. A short list would include (but is not limited too, see me later for full legal disclaimer): Cerulean. Kerfuffle. Antediluvian. Effervescence. I can say, definitively, that my most hated word is “ointment”. I’ve never willingly said it. I don’t even like to type it. Excuse me, I have to go wash my hands now.

11. I find I sound suspiciously like a pig when I say "ointment" so I avoid it as well. As a young Were-llama, I dreamt of taking over the eastern seaboard one face full of spit at a time. What did you dream of doing when you were young?

As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to be an actress. I was quite serious about it - I even spent two years in a very competitive university conservatory program. Ultimately, it wasn’t for me. Or, more accurately, I wasn’t for it. I’m not cut out for a theater lifestyle. Writing suits me better, and, in the end, I love it more. I do occasionally miss treading the boards, and I still know the opening speech to Shakespeare’s Henry V by heart.

12. O for a Muse of Fire that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention ... or failing that, a gloriously awesome were-llama to take the stage. Cake or cookies?

GOOD CHRIST, WHAT KIND OF MONSTER ARE YOU?! *sigh* Fine. Cookies, but I’m staring longingly at the cake the whole time I eat.

13. Oh, no you don't. No cookies for you. No cake either. WHY??! Because earlier you ate my cake. *clears throat* You may call me Were-llama of Justice. Do you share chocolate?

I will share white chocolate with anyone. I will share milk chocolate if I like you. If I did not grow you in my womb, then DO NOT TOUCH MY DARK CHOCOLATE.

14. Does spitting on it count as touching? The Zombie Goat invasion is upon us. How will you fight them off?

Me, personally? Probably I’d run for the hills. If that wasn’t possible I guess I’d try to feed them old tin cans and hope for the best, but in reality I don’t think I’d last all that long in a hand-to-Zombie-Goat battle. Hey - thanks for having me over to chat. I really enjoyed it!

Thanks, Christine, for a thoroughly entertaining interview. And because the Were-llama ate the cookies AND the cake, I'll give you your gorgeous cupcake.

Of course, the fun isn't over yet! Christine is generously offering a signed set of books to one lucky commenter. The winner will receive a paperback CLAIRE and a hardback NOCTURNE. Don't forget to vote on the poll at the sidebar, and tune in next Wednesday when Christine posts her Top Five blog and gives away a one of a kind piece of jewelry designed just for Claire!

Contest is open to North America and ends at 8 p.m. Central Time Sunday, August 14th. Please fill out the form below to enter.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I Can Have Naps Now, Please?

1. The cat pictured above?

2. That was me all last week.

3. Why? Because poor Baby J was teething and that equalled five nights in a row of about 3 hours of sleep a night for me.

4. It killed my brain.

5. Killed it DEAD.

6. I'm still not 100% sure it's been fully revived, but I have way too much to do to wait around for something like coherent thought to arrive back on the scene.

7. Besides, it's sort of debatable whether I actually had that in the first place.

8. When I don't sleep for long stretches like that, two things happen. Well, three including the brain death thing, but I've already covered that.

9. First, my fibromyalgia decides to play havoc with my nerve endings, so pain has become a constant companion recently. It will subside soon.

10. Second, my (no longer coherent) thoughts run in very strange loops.

11. At one point last week (around 3 a.m.), I decided I had an amazing plot for a new book.

12. It involved ostriches with super powers.

13. You can see where there might be a few marketing dilemmas for my editor.

14. And because I've only had two nights of sleep to balance the five I went without, the idea still sounds vaguely appealing.

15. I tried Nutella for the first time this morning. (Mostly because I'm meeting Beth Revis tonight for the first time and naturally since she tried to kill me with Nutella earlier this year, I'm bringing her some. Payback! Sort of . I don't actually expect her to die.)

16. Nutella is delicious, but I was instantly suspicious. It was TOO delicious to be the healthy alternative the commercials claim it to be. I checked the label.

17. The first ingredient is sugar. There are 21g of sugar per 2 tbsp serving as opposed to 3g of sugar for the same serving of peanut butter.

18. *sigh*

19. Which means even though I now ADORE it, I can't have it very often because sugar inflames my fibromyalgia too. And because I don't want to have to buy the next dress size up simply because I've developed a Nutella addiction.

20. Before you decide my label-reading, abstaining-from-sugar self is boring, may I remind you I plotted a book where OSTRICHES HAVE SUPER POWERS?

21. Yeah. You put a cape on that baby, and see if he couldn't stop criminals in their tracks.

22. I rest my case.

23. Tune in Wednesday for another fabulous author interview and a two book giveaway!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

You're Kind of a Big Deal

It's a funny thing, selling a book. From the inside, it looks like this:

I did ... what? WHAT? Are you sure? I might vomit. In a good way. No, seriously.

But from the outside, it sort of looks like this:

Yes. That's right. I've joined the Inner Sanctum. I have my crap TO-GE-THER. I'm kind of a big deal.

It's been a strange thing, having people say things like Don't forget the little people or Now that you're a rock star. Those statements make me sad. There aren't any little people. And if there are rock stars in the publishing industry, it isn't the girl who got nothing but solid rejections for two years after signing with her agent and then finally wrote a book that sold.

I don't say that to put myself down. I say that because it's true. I wrote a book that garnered me my amazing agent. And it didn't sell. It went on submission a second time. And didn't sell. So, I sat down to write another. And guess what? That didn't sell either. I revised it and went out again. Still nothing. I can't tell you how many times I wondered when my agent would call and tell me we'd taken a good run at it, but it just wasn't working, and it was time to part ways. (She NEVER gave me that impression. I created those personal demons all by myself.) I can't tell you how many times I saw others sell just weeks after signing with an agent and offered them public congratulations even while inside something sharp sliced into me and whispered things like You'll never sell and What does everyone else have that you don't? and Why don't you just give up?

It wasn't that I couldn't be happy for others. I was. How could I not celebrate when I knew how hard the journey could be? It was that I felt like I was missing something crucial. Overlooking some important ingredient that would transform me from the girl who couldn't sell a book to one who finally had a contract.

Guess what? There IS a secret ingredient. It's called sweat. Perseverance. Sheer undiluted stubbornness. I might lack a lot of other qualities, but I've got stubborn down to a science.

You know what other secret ingredient is required? Guts. Nothing I was doing was working. It was always just shy of what publishers wanted. Two years after I'd signed with Holly,  I still hadn't sold, and I figured I had a choice. I could quit. I could keep writing stuff no one seemed to want. Or, I could dare to try the project that had been lurking in the back of my brain, taunting me with it's awesomeness and with how HARD it was going to be. How much it would stretch me craft-wise. How much it would ask of me emotionally.

I'm no quitter.

And I wasn't interested in writing yet another adult genre book that might not sell.

So, I looked the scary, possibly-too-big-for-me project in the eye and said Bring it.

Two weeks after I turned it in to my agent, it sold in a three book deal at auction to Balzer & Bray. Someone who didn't know I'd just spent two years as the girl who couldn't sell a book to save her life read that announcement and said you're a rock star. Someone else who'd been with me for a little part of the journey, but had never traveled the depths of despair I sometimes felt in my heart, said don't forget the little people. Others who'd never given me the time of day suddenly sat up and paid attention.

But here's the thing. I'm still the same person I was the day before I sold my book. I still snort inappropriate things through my nose on accident. Usually in public. I still have to sit down some days and chisel my word count from my brain with a pick axe because my brain has decided to move to Jamaica and call it quits. I'm a mom. A wife. A friend. A writer who knows with exquisite clarity what it feels like to be on the outside looking in and what it takes to keep going, against any obstacle, until one day you finally see your dream come true.

I'm thrilled to have sold my book. My life has changed because of it. But I haven't. There are no little people. There are only different places along the path. If I ever do "forget the little people" I will have lost a piece of my integrity that is worth more to me than any publishing contract ever could be. I'm not a rock star. I'm stubborn, and it paid off. Finally.

Please don't look at the good news in my life (or in other's) and devalue your own talent, your chances, or your experiences. There are no inner sanctums out of your reach. There isn't a finite number of contracts. You aren't one step closer to missing your chance. If you want to take anything away from my own experience, take this: I'm just a girl who kept writing.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Happy Monday

1. How is it August already?

2. Not that I'm complaining. My boys go back to school in a week and a half.

3. And while that turns this week's To Do list into something that would make a weaker woman cry, it also heralds the return of structure and schedule.

4. I'm ready for that.

5. If you're reading this, and you're a writer, my monthly column is up today at Romance University. I discussed ten ways you can raise the stakes in your book and make your conflict matter to the reader.

6. I'm also hard at work writing a handbook for the querying process -- from the moment you start researching agents to the moment you receive a call from an agent wanting to discuss representation. I estimate releasing the handbook in e-book format in early October.

7. I've now spent eight hours doing back to school shopping, and I still have one kid left to take to the stores.

8. My loathing for back to school shopping is well documented.

9. All those crowds? All those people letting their cart block an entire aisle because if they don't, you might find the last purple folder with both brads AND pockets before they do?

10. They make me crazy.


12. Not that I've ever actually threatened a fellow shopper with cannibalism.

13. I save that for hospital personnel.

14. I will do my best not to threaten, maim, or send anyone to their eternal reward on my last trip through the stores, but I make no promises.

15. I've read some truly amazing books lately. Most of them aren't yet available for purchase, BUT I've lined up the authors for interviews and giveaways when their books release and you will thank me for it.

16. Because these books are good.

17. I've also seen some great movies in the past couple of weeks. I highly recommend Cowboys & Aliens and Captain America. Honestly, Harrison Ford's performance in C & A is one of the best of his career. Amazing.

18. Sadly, I think that's it for this blog post. I'm feeling both un-funny and a bit overwhelmed at the list of things I need to accomplish today.

19. If you click through on the links I gave you, however, you can still have your laugh at my expense. :)

A Bad Culinary Decision

A few days ago, on a whim, I bought a bag of Lay's Potato Chips in their new Chicken and Waffles flavor. I figured my kids (who love bot...