Showing posts from June, 2010

Phobias and Spiraling Minivans

Last weekend I was able to attend the ALA/SCBWI drink night in D.C. It was a terrific experience to mix and mingle with some great names in the industry, including authors, agents and editors.

Remember those wonderful Lyle the Crocodile stories? I met the illustrator's daughter, Paulis Waber, who has now taken the lead on the artistry. What a wonderful, humble lady. I even got a book mark. Sa-weet.

Not only did I chat with some other fabulous authors, but I met 2 of my co-authors from the group blog I contribute to, From the Mixed-Up Files. It was like seeing a long-lost friend! Yay!

But honestly the fun began before my friend and I even entered the restaurant. After a 1 and 1/2 hour drive from our bo-dink country town in Virgina into the booming metropolis that is our nation's capitol, and missing our exit (just once, but it did require a multiple exit, no u-turn, 3 light adventure to get back on the highway we were supposed to be on for the previous 20…


Recently I received a rejection letter on a partial of my first manuscript (yes, i'm sending out 2 queries, for two projects at once) after waiting 4 months. I'm sure you ALL know how hard the waiting is. But I think it reaches a certain point and, at least for me, I've given up on the agent and relented to the fact that they probably aren't interested.

Then the email arrives.

Yep. They're not interested.

Well, at least they responded, right?

I guess.

So the rejection was pretty generic. A form. But at least the agent said, "I found it to be an enjoyable read." Ok, great....Still, I sense a "but" coming.

AH, yep. There it is. "...I don't feel passionate enough about it..."

Sigh. The passion thing.

Is that like dating and you just don't feel the chemistry? So you dump what was a really great guy/girl for the rebel that makes your heart race? The one who's got the mojo? The one who dumps you for that hot blond…

And They Lived Happily Ever After - Or Not

Last fall I read The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I never thought I could fall in love with zombies. But I did. More than the zombies though, I loved Ms. Ryan's poetic, fluid writing.

Recently I read the companion novel, The Dead Tossed Waves. Truly a sequel that outdid the first book, if that's even possible.

Both of these books have me thinking about happy endings. Because, without spoiling anything for you, neither of these stories have them. Yet, somehow, I feel gratified and fulfilled at the completion of these books.

Now I've had friends that have strongly disliked the (first) book. In their mind there were too many questions left unanswered, they didn't like the style of writing, and the ending left anything but that warm-fuzzy feeling in the pit of their stomach.

So that brings me to a question that I've been mulling over. What makes a happy ending? And does a story have to have one to be a good read?

First, let me address the second question. My answer: NO.


Desperately Seeking Susan

She's my muse. And I miss her. A lot.

Ok, now I suppose it's not entirely her fault that she's not around. I ignored her when she wanted my attention. She'd beg for hours, fill my mind with wonderful words begging for life and I shooed her away like she was an annoying fly. She'd fill my head with dreams while I slept and I forgot them all once awake.

Even with all her persistence, I promised her I'd give her my time later. After teacher appreciation week. After the scrapbooks were done. After class picnics and kindergarten graduation. After school was out for the summer. After. After. After.

Now my time is free and I'm ready to work. But she's not around. Probably gone and walked off in a well deserved crossed-arm huff.

So how to get her back? Begging doesn't work - believe me, I've tried. Screaming? Nah. That just gives me a sore throat. Besides, my kids look at me funny.

There is only one way that I know. Read.

So I am. And gu…

Remember Kindness? Well, it Worked.

A few weeks back I wrote a post about an agent that cared enough to address her rejection letter to not only me, but my 10 year old daughter as well. Ironically, ever since that post, the rejections that I've received have all included both our names.

Honestly, I'm sure it's just a coincidence. But it is kinda cool to think (in my fanTASTY world - cause, yes, my fantasy world is's created out of pure, sweet, creamy chocolate...yummm)that agents are actually reading my blog. Fantasy, FanTASTY, coincidence or not, it just goes to show you HAVE to be careful what you say. When something is on the internet, it's out there for the entire world to see. And although I'm a risktaker, I say why take a chance on your reputation when it's so easy to be nice.

Kindness begins with me. How about you?

Why Children Make a Great Audience

Last week I spent 40 minutes every morning reading CINDERSKELLA to my daughter's 4th grade class. The book was, of course, met with rave reviews.

I love children. They are so non-discriminating. They probably would have loved it if the story was horrible. But the fact that they laughed, raised their hands and made predictions about plot lines and characters really told me they were listening. And that can't be faked.

Even the boys liked what was ultimately a girls story.

So I asked the children to fill out questionaires about the story. The following are my favorite responses that I received.

Q: What was Awesome?
A: EVERTHING! (thank you, thank you. *bows*)
A: When Cindy turns into a skeleton. (yes, that happens a lot. guess most of it was awesome then :D )
A: When Cindy's foot comes off. (i think a boy must have liked that)

Q: What was Boring?
A: Nothing! (i agree.)

Q: What was Confusing?
A: Nothing! (so glad! i happen to think it's pretty un-boring myself.)

Q: …

Ace of Amie

We don't get many opportunities for bragging rights and most of the time we're so modest we don't share our successes because we're afraid of looking self-absorbed.

But I'm taking this opportunity to boast.

For my daughter's 10th birthday I made some birthday cakes that, quite frankly, rocked! Ever watched Ace of Cakes? Well I may just challenge Duff to a throw down!

Okay - so they're not perfect, but since they were my first go at fondant I'm happy with the outcome. And personally, I think anything can look great with a little creativity! The frogs were actually a bear cake pan - but with vision, the ears become eyes and paws become flippers.

So what project have you completed that you're really proud of?

Rejection Letters of the Future

I recently read a fantastic article in the Huffington Post by Curtis Brown agent, Nathan Brandsford.

Before I get into the meat of the article, I'd like to give Mr. Bransford a shout out for recognizing self-publishing as a reasonable alternative to conventional publishing methods. From what I've read, many agents have a negative perspective on self publishing. Whatever their reason, it's refreshing to see an agent give this route of publishing positive acknowledgement. Although his mention of it is more related to e-readers and the fact that not every book needs to be read by anyone other than family and friends, I was glad to see that he wasn't totally opposed to it.

In this article, Mr. Bransford - who has rejected my query letters so promptly, (sometimes in the same hour) I'm left to wonder if his inbox is set to auto-reject mode - talks about how at some point agents won't even respond to query letters if they aren't interested. Supposedly no-answ…

And The Winner Is....Casey!

Casey! You can pick up your book, "A Wrinkle in Time" on Thursday! :)

ANNOUNCING....The Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors!

Well, there's big news out there in the literary world, and I'm honored to be a part of it! WOOT!

A few months ago 25 authors banded together and formed a brand new website/blog for all things Middle-Grade. We're "The Mixed Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors" and we're proud to be the only resource of its kind on the internet! We'll be blogging about middle-grade topics, doing book reviews, posting the latest news in middle-grade books, and of course providing all sorts of information for writers, teachers, librarians and kids who adore middle-grade books.

So come on over and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Jacketflap, Verla Kay and of course, please subscribe to our newsletter on our website and be sure to leave us a message there too!

And the best part? There's a huge book giveaway on the site for our launch, so you'll really want to be part of the excitement!

BONUS: I'm doing a book giveaway too! For the follower with the most amount of point…