Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Hi all!

I haven't done a teaser for a while and thought I'd post one today. If I'm not careful, I'll probably end up posting my whole book (just kidding . . . I know my chances for publication would be pretty much nil if I did that!). But seriously, I do so love the feedback from everyone. It's very encouraging!

Today I'm posting from TRAIN WATCH (yep, I'm still revising it, adding scenes here & there, etc.).

Here's the setup for the scene: Cleo, my protagonist, is on her way to the train station in Winston-Salem, NC, with her mother, brother, & grandfather, as well as the kind schoolteacher that she & her mother befriended at the previous station in Hamlet. (And just a reminder, the year is 1941)

Cleo looked up from her book, wondering why Mrs. Grissett was frowning so. Mama also noticed.

"Is there anything wrong, Mrs. Grissett?" Mama asked.

"Why, no dear, not especially. I was just thinking about your Cleo's big dreams is all." She tried to face Cleo but could only turn halfway as they jammed so tightly in the old Roadster. "It's a beautiful thing to realize such big dreams as yours, Cleo, but don't forget to look back every now and then. There are others dreaming right behind you."

"Yes, ma'am," Cleo said, heat rising to her cheeks.

Turning back to Mama, Mrs. Grissett continued, "You know, the young ones today don't realize that good, qualified Negro teachers are still needed down here, as well as up North.

Cleo dropped her chin and closed her book. She blinked back the tears that threatened to drop any second. Maybe she did read too much like Otis said. She really hadn't meant to sound so self-centered. And it wasn't that she had anything against working in the South--okay, she was against working in the fields--but it was just . . . just . . . that she knew, no felt, something bigger was in store for her in New York.

"Cleo! Cleo!"

Mama was shaking her shoulder so hard she thought her collarbone would come unhinged. How long had she been lost in thought? "Yes, Mama?"

"Didn't you hear me calling you, girl? What's wrong with you?"

"I'm fine, Mama. I was just thinking is all."

"Well, child, that's the saddest look of "fine" I've ever seen." Mama shook her head. "Cleo, this here's a mean, hard world. And I don't mean just here in the South. The North has its problems, too."

Well, that's it for today. Thanks so much for reading!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankful Thoughts

Truly, this year, there is SO MUCH to be thankful for:



INTERNET ACCESS (without which I could never have created this blog and met all of you, my writer friends)

Thank you all for following . . . see you next week!

Have a great THANKSGIVING DAY (& weekend)! :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A little writing Inspiration . . .

Hi all!

I came across a few posts/articles over the last couple of weeks that I thought were SO INSPIRING, that I just had to share them with you, my writer friends.

1) From the Writers First Aid blog author Kristi Holl asks,"How Does Your Talent Grow?" Choose an attribute (one per week, she says) and watch your talent grow in the coming months! Love her list, don't you?

2) Novelist Alexander Chee, a graduate of my alma mater, wrote this inspiring essay for The Morning News, recounting his studies with Annie Dillard. After I read this, I could have kicked myself for not having signed up for her class (especially being an English major)! Ah, well . . . I am grateful still that he took the time to write of his experience in her class. I especially like the part where she told his class, "If you're doing your job, the reader feels what you felt. You don't have to tell the reader how to feel. No one likes to be told how to feel about something." And that's just one of the nuggets of writing wisdom she shared with the class . . . imagine a whole semester's worth! Like I said, I could kick myself . . .

3) Lastly I just wanted to share (and many of you have probably seen this already), posts from two newly agented writers on a timeline of their writing journey thus far:

From Shelli at Market My Words: What a difference a Year makes


From Caroline Starr Rose at Caroline by line: My agent: Michelle Humphrey of Sterling Lord Literistic

ALSO--I'm going back a few months here--just thought about the writing journey of Tess Hilmo, one of my first blogging friends, and wanted to include it here as well. It's wonderfully inspiring! (Tess is repped by Steven Chudney of The Chudney Agency.)

I so love reading about a writer's journey . . . it gives me so much hope to think that if they can do it, I can, too!

So here's to all of us on the writing journey . . . be INSPIRED!

Happy Thanksgiving! :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wonderfully Wednesday :)

Hi all!

Okay, I know this was supposed to be Monday's post, but since Monday and Tuesday have both come and gone, I'm posting it today on this wonderful Wednesday, or "hump day" as most of us working-class folks call it.
It’s so funny how addictive blogging is! When I often stop for a few days or a week or so and I get a little more writing done, I soon get antsy & start really missing the interaction with other like-minded writers/bloggers like yourselves. I think maybe it’s because having this blog (and also just plain perusing the blogosphere!) kind of fills the need to talk to, commiserate with, and rejoice with other writers—a need that is basically not fulfilled at home or work. Anyone else feel this way?

Okay, now that I’ve jabbered on long enough, here’s a couple of links that you may, or may not have seen around the blogosphere. At any rate, I hope they can be of some help on your writing journey! Enjoy! :)

1) First up, some agent info:

Last Thursday, for those who missed it, aspiring author Casey McCormick shone the Agent Spotlight on Barry Goldblatt of Barry Goldblatt Literary.

Going back a little further, on October 22, the Agent Spotlight shone on Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency, LLC. These spotlights are so helpful and informative . . . Thanks, Casey!

ALSO!! Click here to find out Casey’s very latest agent news!

2) I came across this article the other day at School Library Journal. I'm sure many of you are already aware of these blogs, but librarian Elizabeth Bird drew up this list of ten of the best blogs for folks (like us!) who are interested in kids' lit. She also shares how she came to start her own blog, A Fuse #8 Production.

3) Anyone interested about querying with a series? Check out this post by Mary Kole, Associate Agent at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Wonderful advice!

And also while you're at her blog, if you're considering writing in multiple genres (I know I am!), click here to see what encouraging things she has to say on that issue.

4) Newly-contracted (Yay!!) historical fiction author, Jody Hedlund touched on this issue of multiple genres yesterday in her post, "Does Platform Really Help an Unpublished Writer?"
This thought-provoking post and the multitude of comments that followed will benefit ALL
writers, I believe. Check it out! :)

And while you're there, be sure to check out this post by Jody on the elements of her manuscript that really landed her her book contract. It's so inspiring, as well as informative! Thanks, Jody!

5) Next up, Jody's agent, Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary shares all you ever wanted to know about BACKSTORY--what it is, what it is NOT, & when to use it. As always, this is another great post by Rachelle that was both timely & enlightening . . . and it made me want to immediately take a fine-tooth comb through my manuscript!
Rachelle's blog is such a treasure trove of writing and publishing information, and not just for those who write for the inspirational/Christian market, but for ALL writers . . . so go check it out, if you haven't already!

6) Back on the children's editorial front, new kidlit blogger & aspiring author Sheri Rosen shares what she learned from Jessica Garrison, an editor at Dial Books for Young Readers, at a recent Editor's Day conference. As always, Sheri took fabulous notes, sharing Jessica's editorial insights as well as what Jessica's looking for now.
And guess what, folks? Sheri says she has SIX more pages to post! Whoo-Hoo! Thanks, Sheri! :)


Aspiring author Colleen Rowan Rosinski of the Writer Girl blog has graciously posted bio information and genre preferences of a multitude of editors & agents (over 50, at least!) that attended last month's Rutgers One-on-One Conference in New Brunswick, NJ.

Talk about a wealth of information! Folks, having attended this conference myself last year, I would get right on this & print it out ASAP, or at least bookmark it. I've only posted the link for her first post (there are TEN posts altogether) because I figure you all can go on from there.

If you haven't gone to this conference, and live in the Northeast (or are just plain curious), I think you (children's writers only, that is) should give it a try at least once. You're accepted based on a short synopsis & writing sample of 3 pages (for a MG or YA) or whole manuscript for picture book. Granted it's kind of competitive--only 70-75 "mentees" are chosen out of @200-300 applicants--I think it's still worth a shot because not only do you get to hear a mixed panel of editors, agents, or industry professionals, and 2 guest speakers, you're matched up for approximately 45 minutes for a one-on-one consultation with either an editor, agent, or published author.

I was paired with Shauna Fay, now an assistant editor at G.P. Putnam's Books for Young Readers. She was a tremendous help, suggesting a few different directions my manuscript could take plot-wise. She invited me to submit a couple of chapters when I was ready but, *sigh*, me being ever the procrastinator, have yet to send it on. I wonder if I'll ever stop revising . . . it seems like there's always something new to add or delete! Anyone else have this problem? Maybe I better go reread Jody Hedlund's post . . . :)

8) And on an endnote, Publishers Weekly has posted their Best Children's Books of 2009 . . . I'm currently reading When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead but it seems like there could have been a couple more middle grade titles added to this list . . . what do you think?

Well, as Porky Pig (believe it or not, my kids do NOT know who this is! Of course, they grew up on "Barney" . . .) would say: "Th-th-th-that's all folks!"

Till next time . . .

Happy Writing!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sad day in Children's Lit

I don't know if anyone's heard about this yet, but I just read on Elizabeth Bluemle's Shelftalker blog that children's and young adult author, Norma Fox Mazer has passed away. You can read Elizabeth's tribute here.

I know Ms. Mazer will be sorely missed in children's litearture. I remember her as one of the first YA authors I read as a pre-teen, around the age of 11 or 12, I guess. She was an amazing author, to say the least. Among my favorite titles by her were (and I know this is going back aways): The solid gold kid, Taking Terri Mueller, and When she was good.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fabulous Friday Links :)

Hi folks!
Hope all is going well with everyone. Haven't posted much news lately (not that there hasn't been lots in the last month or two!), so I thought I'd offer up a few links/posts that you may or may not have discovered. Hope they help!

) The National Book Award Finalists have been announced! As reported by Publishers Weekly, the nominees in the Young People's Literature category are:

Deborah Heiligman, Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith (Henry Holt)
Phillip Hoose, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Davd Small, Stitches (W.W. Norton & Co.)
Laini Taylor, Lips Touch: Three Times (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic)
Rita Williams-Garcia, Jumped (HarperTeen)

Congratulations to all!
Click here to see the complete list of nominees

I've got JUMPED in my to-be-read pile . . . just wondering, has anyone read any of the others (in the Young People's category)?

2) Yesterday, Casey McCormick over at Literary Rambles, shone the Agent Spotlight on Michael Stearns of Upstart Crow Literary.

And in case you missed it, here are a few more that were "spotlighted" these past few weeks:

Beth Fleisher, Barry Goldblatt Literary
Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates, Inc.
Eddie Schneider, JABberwocky Literary Agency
Joe Monti, Barry Goldblatt Literary
Merrilee Heifetz, Senior VP, Writers House
Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio, LLC
Bill Contardi, Brandt and Hochman Literary Agents, Inc.

3) In the mood for a contest or two?
New Associate Agent Mary Kole, of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency is running a QUERY Contest at Kidlit.com. The query must be for a finished children's book manuscript (YA, MG, or picture book) and must be under 500 words. It must be either pasted in the comments field (she explains how on her blog) or emailed to her by October 31st at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time.

The prize? --- A critique of the first 30 pages of your manuscript


For the next contest, hop on over to new blogger and aspiring author Sheri Rosen's blog, The Worries and Triumphs of an Unpublished Author. Sheri's giving away a FREE, SIGNED COPY of Michael Grant's GONE. What do you have to do? Become a follower of her blog and/or refer someone to her blog. That's it! Click here for more info on this contest. Oh yes, it ends on December 1st!

AND, while you're there, check out her notes from a talk given by AnnMarie Harris, series editor at Scholastic Trade Paperback, at an Editor's Day event sponsored by the Orange County chapter of SCBWI. AnnMarie's topic: middle grade paperback series for boys & girls. Sheri took some awesome notes, folks!
Also (yeah, she's got more!), for all you aspiring historical fiction writers (myself included), be sure to check out Sheri's Editor's Day Part 2 post on a very interesting talk by Alexandria LaFayette, winner of the 2005 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction for her novel, Worth.

4) Ooooh, just remembered! Debut author Cynthia Jaynes Omololu is giving away postcards, bookmarks, & business cards celebrating her YA novel, Dirty Little Secrets (Walker, February 2010). Check it out here!
She also recently published a delightful, multicultural picture book entitled When It's Six O'Clock in San Francisco (Clarion).

5) Want the last word on Word Count for Novels and Children's Books? Peep this definitive post by Guide to Literary Agents' blog editor Chuck Sambuchino.

6) Are vampires on their way out? Check out this article on the presumed rise (or fall, depending on the story) of angels posted last month on the Publishers Weekly website!

7) Lastly, for those debut authors coming out with books in the next year or two, and even for us aspiring authors, you may want to take heed of these New Rules for Authors courtesy of Stet!, the Backspace writers' blog. I guess it's never too early to start planning . . . :)

And for a cozier, more personal take, Kristin Tubb, author of Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different (Delacorte) shared, earlier this week on her blog, Do Things Different, what she's learned in her first year as a published author.

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Hi everyone!

Well, I'm back with another "teaser" today but it's not from my middle-grade work-in-progress. No, this time it's a very brief snippet from one of 2 picture books that I'm working on. It's about a young duckling who, while out on a stroll with his family, gets separated from them as he tries to chase a rabbit.



Last in line behind his brothers and sisters, Little Duck Devin turned to see . . . a rabbit, munching on a carrot. It hopped right past him and his family. Little Duck Devin flew fast behind it.


Little Duck Devin rubbed his beak. Where DID that rabbit go?

YIKES! What was THAT he heard? Oh! It was just his stomach grumbling! He waddled on until he came to . . .


Little Duck Devin waddled and hopped, first this way, then that. But the cars and trucks zoomed right on by.

Would he ever see Mama and Molly and Holly and Tevin again?

I welcome any criticisms/suggestions/feedback as picture books are NOT my strong suit but I love the challenge of writing them anyway.

Thanks for reading, guys! :)

**Oh yes, if anyone's interested in reading the whole thing (about 5 pages), you are more than welcome. I'll swap you for another PB or a 1st chapter of your MG. Just shoot me an email! :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Hi all . . . I haven't posted a teaser in quite a while and just wanted to run this by folks . . . it's a relatively new scene I've been trying to develop.

Just to set up the scene for you: my main character, Cleo, has gone to visit her great-grandmother (Ma Murr), a former slave, who lives a bit farther out in the country.


Ma Murr said, "Do it, chile! Run for your life!" She got a faraway look in her eyes. "Yes, yes." She nodded. "Just like I ran for mine. Mmm. hmm. You want to be free. Lum and Jenny ain't free 'cause they still working for Boss Man. But you, chile, you has a chance to be free. Grab it!"
She twisted around, causing Cleo to abruptly stop combing her silvery, waist-length hair. "You hearin' me, chile?"

Cleo blinked. "Y-Y-Yes, Ma'am." Ma Murr always gave her the willies with that piercing stare.

Ma Murr smiled, content with her preaching. "Good. Good. Go on home, now. We's finished for today."

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Big 3-0

No, I'm NOT turning 30 (unfortunately!), just celebrating the fact that I now have 30 followers! And, even though I'm not (yet) consistent with my posts, I just wanted to say thank you(THANK YOU!) to all who still follow my blog (or even just pop in occasionally) for sticking with me.

And so, taking a cue from this post by Karen Strong over at Musings of a Novelista, I am going to list 30 things you may, or may not, know about me:

1) I have 1 brother who is 6 years younger than me.
2) I wear glasses (mainly when driving).
3) I wore a uniform for 12 years.
4) No, I wasn't in the military, just Catholic school (1st thru 12th grade).
5) I am not Catholic, though.
6) I grew up in New York City, specifically upper Manhattan, and more specifically the Hamilton Heights section of Harlem.
(If you're interested in this section of Harlem, wikipedia explains it much better than I ever could.)
7) I am often mistaken for being Hispanic.
8) Unfortunately, I do not know any Spanish.
9) However, I did take 3 years of French in high school, which still doesn't help because I've pretty much forgotten all of it. So . . . I would still need a French dictionary if I ever went to France.
10) Facts of Life was a favorite show as a kid. AND so was Diff'rent Strokes, Brady Bunch, Wonder Woman, The Jeffersons, Little House on the Prairie, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley and . . . I could probably go on & on . . . brings back great memories of childhood, though!
11) I graduated from Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
12) My majors in college were English & Economics.
13) However, I did not get a job on Wall Street.
14) I did get a job in reference publishing.
15) I have an ancient computer. No, seriously, it is ANCIENT, like the monitor has the huge back to it circa the 1990s. I know, I know, it is definitely time for a new one.
16) My husband is a cook/chef, and yes, he can cook much better than me, thank the Lord!
17) We have 2 daughters.
18) AND my mother and grandmother live with us. Yes, you heard, er, read that right.
19) Which is why I mainly write late at night when EVERYONE is asleep.
20) Love Your Life by Victoria Osteen is a favorite inspirational book.
21) And also Reposition Yourself by T.D. Jakes
22) I don't drink. (Well, ONLY socially--and even then I mainly favor margaritas & daiquiris)
23) I don't smoke, and have never tried. Nope, not even once!
24) I can't swim.
25) My favorite pastry is a chocolate croissant.
26) And I LOVE white chocolate in practically any form.
27) I am also partial to lemon meringue pie.
28) I got my first library card when I was 8 years old.
29) I first found out I had somewhat of a talent for writing when I was 16 years old during a semester of creative writing in high school. I'd often receive a fiction writing assignment handed back with "Is this real?" or "Did this really happen?" jotted at the bottom of a story.
30) But I did not seriously think of writing for publication (or even writing children's books at all)till 20 years later.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11

I just wanted to offer my condolences to those who lost loved ones and/or were injured themselves in NYC or at The Pentagon on the morning of 9/11/01. It was an awful, tragic day that no one will ever forget.

My mother (who retired 2 years ago) at the time worked in lower Manhattan for the City of New York as a clerical aide for the NYPD & actually saw from her desk window the first plane hit Building 1 of the WTC but thought it was an accident--at first. Then, when the 2nd plane hit, the impact shook her whole building (which was probably 10-15 blocks away). She said everyone (well, everyone on her floor anyway) grabbed their purses/bags and ran down the stairs to the street level. But once they got outside, it was, of course, utter chaos. She said everyone on the sidewalk was running for buses, trains, whatever to get away from the debris falling from the sky. She said she didn't dare look up to see exactly WHAT was falling/flying through the air, and also the STENCH was so horrible you had to cover your nose & mouth as you ran. But run she did and made the last train uptown to the George Washington Bridge Bus Station to catch a bus back home to Jersey. During this time I had also left work (in the Bronx) & was on my to the GWB as well. But, as we soon found out (I somehow met up with her at the GWB), the GWB was CLOSED until it was deemed safe for buses to cross.

While we waited, we struck up a conversation I will never forget with a woman who escaped from no. 1 WTC after the first plane hit. She was on a lower floor and decided to leave right then & there. At that time, no one knew exactly what was happening, she said. And no one else wanted to leave but her. When she got down to the ground floor (elevators were still working at that time), it was a madhouse outside, debris from the plane, bodies, etc. everywhere. She said after she ran a block & looked back, her building was coming down. She didn't think anyone else in her company made it out alive. And this woman was amazingly calm (or maybe in shock?). My mother & I just listened in awe as she told this story.

The GWB finally reopened around 6 or 7 p. m. We got home around 8 p.m., but some people we later learned didn't make it home till around 11 p.m. or so. It was just an awful, awful, awful, day we will never forget.

Thanks for listening. I hope I didn't depress anyone; just wanted to share my experience.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thoughts on a Thursday

Books on Writing for Children

Hi all!

Yesterday, I was rummaging around my bookshelf and noticed I had accumulated quite a few titles on writing for children. So I thought I'd list them. Now those of you who've been writing for some years probably already own many of these. But for the newer writers out there, I hope these books will offer the same hope, direction, and inspiration that they have provided (and still provide) me along my writing journey.

Here they are (in no particular order):

1) The Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children by Nancy Lamb

2) Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine

3) How to Write a Children's Book and Get It Published (3rd ed.) by Barbara Seuling

4) Creating Characters Kids Will Love by Elaine Marie Alphin

5) How to Write and Sell Children's Picture Books by Jean E. Karl

6) Writing Fiction for Children by Judy K. Morris

7) Writing for Children & Teenagers (3rd ed.) by Lee Wyndham

8) Writing & Publishing Books for Children in the 1990s; the inside story from the editor's desk by Olga Litowinsky

9) The ABCs of Writing for Children; 114 children's authors and illustrators talk about the Art, the Business, the Craft, & the Life of Writing Children's Literature; compiled by Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff

10) How to Write a Children's Picture Book; learning from The Very Hungry Caterpillar . . . and other favorite stories by Eve Heidi Bine-Stock

11) Origins of story; on writing for children; edited by Barbara Harrison and Gregory Maguire (NOTE: this is a collection of lectures presented at various symposiums sponsored by Children's Literature New England, by such authors as Ursula K. Le Guin, Katherine Paterson, Maurice Sendak, Susan Cooper, Sharon Creech, Margaret Mahy, Tom Feelings, Jill Paton Walsh, and Virginia Hamilton)

And, of course, the ANNUAL directory no children's writer should be without: the Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market (CWIM). I believe the 2010 edition is now available!

And if you have any particular book(s) on writing for children, or writing in general, that you refer to often please feel free to share them here. Thanks! :)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fabulous Friday!

Well, there's been some interesting discussions going on in the blogosphere. Here are a few, if you haven't come across them already:

1) On her blog Brooklyn Arden, senior editor Cheryl Klein of Arthur A. Levine Books posted this Open Letter to Agents. The comments, by both agents and bloggers alike were very interesting. Also, Michael Bourret posted a very thoughtful response on his agency's blog here. As for me, while I can clearly see cases for both sides, I think I lean a bit more toward Cheryl's perspective as I said on her comment page that giving ALL interested editors sufficient time to read a manuscript & get their respective houses on board would really be the best means of matching the right editor to the right manuscript. Because working with an editor is usually a long-term realtionship, isn't it? A good 18 months or more, right? I know, personally, that I'd rather be hooked up with someone who was compatible, both editorially & personality-wise.

What do you think?

2) Elizabeth Bluemle of Publishers Weekly's online column Shelftalker: A Children's Bookseller's Blog posed a question yesterday, garnering a multitude of thought-provoking comments. The question (and article) was Where's Ramona Quimby, Black and Pretty? And in light of the recent Bloomsbury cover controversy, I don't think it could have come at a better time. Although I LOVED reading the Ramona series growing up, this is something I really didn't wonder about until years later. I guess at the age 8 & 9, I mainly read stories that interested me, not really taking note of the main character's race. I mean I read Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, and Louise Fitzhugh as easily as I read Alice Childress and Rosa Guy. All I cared about then was a good story. It was only till years later when I really paid attention to the craft & business of writing for children that I wondered about this issue. And even now, with the arrival of such chapter books as Ruby and the Booker Boys and the Keena Ford series, I still think there is room for much more. Who know, I may even try one, one day . . . :)

3) And finally, last month I read an enlightening letter (to all kids' book publishers) by a school librarian in the online issue of School Library Journal. I found it quite interesting. here's the link.

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Musings

Okay, I missed last Monday--all right, I missed posting all last week. But here I am today!

Before I start with my links and tidbits of information, I want to give a BIG WELCOME to my newest followers from the last couple of weeks (months?). Thanks so much for your thoughts and encouragement!

Next, I want to offer my long overdue "CONGRATULATIONS!" to Shelli at Market My Words on acquiring her agent, Alyssa Eisner Henkin at Trident Media Group. Now, I did congratulate Shelli over at her own blog but I just wanted to give her a shout-out here, too. And folks, if you want some inspiration, read Shelli's journey here, and one of her more recent posts about The Editorial Letter. Also, today she interviews literary agent Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary, part of her ongoing Monday's Marvelous Marketers series. Check out the previous & upcoming posts in this series. Great reading!

Wow. It's been so long since I've posted links to share with everyone, I almost don't know where to begin. But I really like finding new links to share about writing and publishing . . . so here I go!

You've more than likely come across these by now, but if you haven't . . . well, I hope they can help.

Since I last posted in depth, aspiring author Casey McCormick has shone the "Spotlight" on these agents:

Marietta B. Zacker (Nancy Gallt Literary Agency)
Daniel Lazar (Writers House)
Kelly Sonnack (Andrea Brown Literary Agency)
Sarah Davies (Greenhouse Literary)
Steven Malk (Writers House)
Jamie Weiss Chilton (Andrea Brown Literary Agency)
Rebecca Sherman (Writers House)
Ted Malawer (formerly of Firebrand Literary)
Marianne Merola (Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents, Inc.)
Jill Corcoran (Herman Agency, Inc.)
Erin Murphy (Erin Murphy Literary Agency)

And here's a few more agents who'll soon be appearing:

Bill Contardi
Rosemary Stimola
Merrilee Heifetz
Joe Monti
Brenda Bowen

So . . . go bookmark her site, Literary Rambles. NOW. Happy agent hunting!


A while back, a blogger left a comment (question) about wanting to break into the children's picture book market. Now I'm really not much of a picture book expert (although I am working on 2 PBs on the side) as I've been concentrating mainly on revising my current work-in-progress, a middle-grade historical novel. BUT, in my perusings around the blogosphere & internet, I have come across some great links on writing picture books.

Here are some of them:

Tips for Writing Picture Books by children's author Dotti Enderle

A Children's Writing To-Do List by Tara Lazar

Another post by Tara Lazar on what she learned at a recent NJSCBWI first page session (for picture books & MG/YA) held earlier this year. Doesn't she take awesome notes?

Some helpful links from children's author Lisa Schroeder

Resources for Children's Writers by Rachelle Burk

Want info on How to Write the First Draft of a Picture Book? Just click here.

More recently, I found this great post by author Mary Ann Rodman on the Teaching Authors blog, on how she became the Accidental Picture Book Author

ALSO, be sure to check out this link from the recent SCBWI 2009 Summer Conference on Creating an Extraordinary Picture Book

Last, but not least, for some general writerly advice, go and review these TEN COMMANDMENTS by literary agent (and former editorial director) Michael Stearns

Sorry I took so long to do this, but I hope these help! (Oh, yes, if anyone else knows of any other picture book tips/links, please feel free to add.)

Happy Writing! :)

Friday, August 7, 2009

It's Friday!

Whoo-Hoo, the weekend's here!
Sorry this post is coming so late everyone, but I do hope you all had an excellent day. The weather was pretty nice here in the Northeast.

I had named this post "Fabulous Friday" but I'm sure for the Hughes family it is not fabulous. I know everyone has heard by now of the recent passing Thursday (Aug. 6) in Manhattan of writer/producer/director John Hughes ("Sixteen Candles," "The Breakfast Club"). I don't know about you but Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club were movies that I so identified with in the mid-1980s as a student in high school. And it's funny, but just like a majority of the YA books I read back then, I could so identify with the teen angst in these movies even though I was of another ethnicity and background (I grew up in Harlem and went to an all-girls Catholic high school in NYC). But I could just so relate to Molly Ringwald's character, especially in Sixteen Candles & Pretty in Pink). You know, those feelings of self-doubt, self-consciousness, fitting in/standing out, making friends, making enemies, watching cliques, creating your own "group," etc. I think, emotionally, that she was a sort of EVERYGIRL, which I guess is why the movies were so popular. I think Hughes really GOT the teenage mind.

Hughes also wrote and produced Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Uncle Buck, and Home Alone (1 & 2). And I still find these hilarious whenever I catch them on a cable channel.

Anyone else ever watch these movies as a teen?

(I, um, of course don't mean to give away anyone's age. So you needn't reveal you saw the movies when they first came out (unless, of course, you want to). I think most everyone has probably seen them later on cable anyway. :)

See you all Monday!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Power of the Blogosphere

Great news!

As announced today in the online edition of Publishers Weekly, Bloomsbury Children's Books has agreed to change the cover of Justine Larbalestier’s Liar.

You can read about it here.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"Sparkly's" Birthday

Just wanted to give a great big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my oldest daughter, "Sparkly," on celebrating her 10th birthday today! Wow, time really flies.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, "Sparkly"!! Love ya!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Musings

Hi folks,

By now, most everyone in the writing blogosphere (or more specifically, the children's writing blogosphere) has read/heard about the flack over the cover of Justine Larbalestier's newest title, LIAR. I haven't read her book yet, but I'm gonna throw in my 2 cents anyway. Also, there is a wide barrage of comments at Editorial Anonymous, the blog where I first read about this.

Apparently, the protagonist of the story is a black female who wears her hair in a short natural (sort of like a low-cut afro, I'm assuming, but correct me if I'm wrong) style. Okay. I get that. But that is not what's portrayed on the cover. So what I want to know is: how can the publisher be so misleading to such an impressionable audience as to which this book is marketed? I, for one, am baffled. I mean, I know most authors don't have much say as to what's portrayed on the cover. But did the Bloomsbury marketing department, like, not read any of the book, or what? Hmmmm . . .

Thankfully, the author has spoken out on this terrible occurrence. Here are her thoughts. And I applaud her for her fantastically brave post.

One more thing. Now, I don't mean to go on and on about this, but when Justine said in her post, "Every year at every publishing house, intentionally and unintentionally, there are white-washed covers," I found that kind of scary. And then I thought, well, if it can happen to her, it could happen to any one of us children's writers, but maybe--okay, probably--to me moreso as an African American writer. I mean, I have an idea for a contemporary YA novel with a multicultural cast of characters and I'm wondering now how that cover would be portrayed if the protagonist were a person of color. Then, as I read more of what Justine heard from editors & sales reps, I wondered if I should even bother querying agents or even continue writing. But . . . I quickly dismissed those thoughts, because, you know what? I like a challenge (for what it's worth, I went to both a very competitive high school & college, so I guess it's ingrained in me now). But even more than that . . . I LOVE to write! So come what may . . . I'm still in the game!

Okay . . . I hope I haven't been too outspoken here . . .

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Work-In-Progress Wednesday

Well, I finally made some progress on a picture book that I've been working on, like, forever this week. I got it down to 500 words! Which, of course, is also the word count limit for the 3rd Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories Contest. Yeah, I went ahead and took the plunge and entered the contest. Today. The last day to enter. Yeah, I procrastinated till the end. I really have to stop that. But folks, there's still time if you, too, want to go ahead and take a chance. The deadline is 11:59 p. m. (Central Time).

And to all who have already entered: GOOD LUCK!


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Memories of Michael

Before I do Thursday's Tidbits, I going to take a moment to pay my own respects to Michael Jackson. I'm late blogging about his death due to a death in my own family that same week.

First, I just want to say that the memorial on Tuesday was such a stunningly beautiful and heartfelt tribute. Especially touching were Brooke Shields' tearful remembrances of her & Michael as teenage friends, the songs by Stevie Wonder & Usher, and the many memories of Michael by Berry Gordy, Magic Johnson, and Smokey Robinson. And of course, the most touching remembrance of all, will always be daughter Paris Jackson's poignant farewell to her father. That was truly heartbreaking.

Going back down memory lane, I can recall watching reruns of The Jackson Five's cartoon show (forgot what it was called) on Saturday mornings in the mid-70s. I think that's really where I first heard "ABC" and "The Love You Save." By the time I was about ten (1978), I really knew who they were. By this time, The Jacksons' (having already left Motown by this time) big hits were "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)" and "Blame it on the Boogie." Anyone remember those? They were rockin'! Another fave of mine around this time period was Heartbreak Hotel (I still LOVE that song to this day). Then came OFF THE WALL. Wow. What a great debut for him as a solo artist! My faves: Rock with You, Off the Wall, Working Day and Night, & Don't Stop Til You Get Enough. When I turned 15, the THRILLER album had just hit big and I had huge posters of Michael, as Tee Brown said in one of her posts, "wallpapered" to my bedroom walls. What can I say about THRILLER? An album where practically every single on it was a hit and got frequent airplay? For me, it's the best album ever made. Michael was at his musical best here.

In later years, there were only a few singles I liked from albums that came out after THRILLER. And some of the things he did and said, I didn't totally agree with. But who am I or anyone else to judge? No matter what anyone says about Michael, he was a true musical genius, with talent that could only be a gift from God. So let God be the judge. As Marlon stated at the memorial, "Maybe now they will leave you alone."

Rest in peace, Michael.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I'm back . . .

Hi all,

As some of you know I had a death in my family; my father-in-law passed away last week on Father's Day. Needless to say, my husband took it VERY HARD. So we had to go out of town to Connecticut (we're in NJ) for a few days. But now that things have settled down somewhat, it's getting better. My husband has come to terms with his dad's death & realizes that his dad is finally out of his pain (he had congestive heart failure) & at rest.

And so I'm back to blogging; I hope to post a few things later today or tomorrow.

Thanks so much for your condolences & prayers.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Work-In-Progress Wednesday

Thought I'd catch the tail end of W-I-P Wednesday with this short passage from my work-in-progress, TRAIN WATCH:

Scene Setup: Grandpa Lum has just brought Cleo (the 11-year-old main character) and Otis' mother, Sarah, home from the train station. Cleo learns her mother and grandfather were fussing during the whole ride back.

Okay, *taking a deep breath*, here it is:

"Cleo, baby," Mama cried, as they hugged.

"Mmm." Cleo sighed, inhaling the floral scent of her mama’s perfume, her arms wrapped tightly around her mama’s waist. "Mama, you smell so good."

"Thanks, honey." She shrugged off her fur-collared coat, then set her shiny black handbag down on one end of the sofa. "The lady who lives next door to me is a representative for this beauty company called Avon. She showed me a little booklet filled with all kinds of perfumes, powders, and lipsticks, then let me try a sample of this fragrance. Isn’t it heavenly?"

"It sure is, Mama. What did Grandpa say?"

"Oh, what didn’t he say? First, he said I smelled like I’d taken a bath in a pot of simmerin’ flowers. Then I said, ‘Well, Daddy, I got a gentleman friend who likes it very much.’ Then he said, ‘if you spendin’ your time with a fella, I ’spect you won’t have much time for your children. So’s they might as well stay with me and your ma.’"

"Oh, Mama, no."

"Oh, yes, he did. So I lit into him like a match to wood."

Taking one look at her mama’s face, Cleo knew she and Grandpa Lum must have been arguing something terrible during the ride back from Winston-Salem. Her mama was piping-hot mad but, boy oh boy, did she look dignified! She wore a silk-like emerald green suit that enhanced her caramel complexion to a T, topped off with a matching hat tilted to the side, Greta Garbo style. And with those satiny-smooth white gloves, black high-heeled patent-leather pumps, and newly-pressed pageboy bob hair-do, she looked like she was going to a church revival! Cleo beamed, proud that her mama was doing good in New York, despite what Grandpa Lum said about her leaving the South.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sunday Specials

Hi Everyone!
I know, I know, where have I been? Well, I was going to post a few days ago, then my oldest daughter came down with a bad head cold, and then yesterday (probably because they share a room) my youngest daughter came down with a cold an a fever. So, since about Thursday on, I’ve been doing the Dr. Mom thing.

Although I have been roaming the blogosphere (it’s so addictive!), I have really missed the act of blogging itself. Oh, and also, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been on a special project at work that really demands mucho concentration, and when I get home I think about blogging, but my hands just don’t reach the keyboard (I’m on a computer at work all day, everyday, btw). This is why I guess I unconsciously saved blogging till the weekend.

So without further ado, here are some things I found that might interest you:

1) Aspiring author Casey L. McCormick shines the spotlight on Agent Jennifer Rofe of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Also, check out her current line-up of agents for the next few weeks. Thanks, Casey, for all your research! I know doing all this research must take an enormous amount of time from your writing. Just wanted to let you know it’s greatly appreciated!

2) Literary agent Rachelle Gardner wants to know if you have any advice for literary agents. If you do, she says feel free to leave your questions/comments for literary agents in her comment section. So far she’s got over 60 very interesting comments!

3) Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic senior editor Cheryl Klein offers her definition/theory of YA literature. Check it out here! I check Cheryl’s blog periodically because she provides awesome in-depth analyses of topics such as voice and plot, as well as thought-provoking discussions of the various titles she’s recently edited.

4) If you’re interested in historical fiction, Melinda Meister at The Paper Wait chats about the challenge of getting readers to identify with the problems of characters at that specific time in history. As we can see, setting matters very, very much in historical fiction. Personally, I think I struggle more with this than anything in writing historical fiction, i.e. recreating the world as it was "back then" and enveloping the reader in such authenticity that he/she will be able to envision his/her self in the story.

5) Over at Cynsations, Cynthia Leitich Smith posted this fantastic interview with literary agent assistant Tracy Marchini of the esteemed Curtis Brown Ltd. Thanks Cynthia (and Tracy)!

6) ICL (Institute of Children’s Literature) instructor Kristi Holl of the Writers First Aid blog has this timely (well, at least for me!) post on the five stages of procrastination. I confess I’m guilty of number 5. Okay, maybe a few more, but I’m not telling. I’ll just say I’m workin’ on ’em. Seriously, I am! J And I’m getting that book she recommends, too!

7) Lastly, but not least, Pen To Page blogger Tee Brown shares this wonderfully inspiring quote from an excerpt from A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson. Thanks, Tee, I’m keeping this nearby as I revise my work-in-progress! Also, CONGRATS AGAIN on your feature in AuthorsNow!

Happy Reading . . . and Writing!
Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Yes, folks, today is my birthday. Another year older, wiser, smarter (I hope). At this time last year, I had no idea about how to create a blog. I knew I wanted one, but I hadn't yet figured out just what I wanted on it. Now my new goal is to have an agent by this time next year. I know it may take longer, but I'm going to at least start sending queries. Yes, this birthday is really sort of a wake-up call because I see that time stops for no one. When I was in my 20s, I knew that one day I wanted to write & publish a book. I thought, well, I'll have it done by age 30 or by 40, for sure. Well, life got in the way (got married, had 2 kids, work full-time). And 40 has come and gone. And so . . . I'm 41 today (still can't believe it 'cause I remember 21 like it was yesterday!). And the years seem like they're speeding up . . . although I hope (pray) that I have many more years to come (longevity seems to run in my family--my grandma is 92 & her mother passed away three years ago at 106). But given my propensity to procrastination (is that a tongue-twister or what!) I just feel like I better get MOVIN' if I want to realize my publication goals. Anyone else feel like that? Like time is flying by on your journey to publication? You don't have to say your age, of course. :)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Links

Hi folks,

I'm not calling today "Fabulous Friday" because of my previous post. I know you'll understand. But today is (or was) STILL a good day because, well, it's the start of the Memorial Day weekend. And the sun did shine beautifully today. Well, at least here in the NYC/NJ area it did.
So without further ado, here's my news for today:

1) First, I want to offer my CONGRATULATIONS again to one of my newest writer friends, Tess Hilmo, on getting . . . AN AGENT!! WHOO HOO!!! See this post to see how she surprised her readers with the news. Also, if you have time, check out her book trailer. It's wonderfully captivating. I just know this book will be snapped up by an editor/publisher soon!

2) Attention all children's writers:
Registration for the 2009 Rutgers One-on-One Plus Conference is now OPEN.
Having attended the conference last year, I can honestly say that my work-in-progress has really improved. And I have to give credit to the editorial assistant I was assigned to for that improvement. The suggestions/ideas she offered were dead-on, and really made me think more about where I wanted to go with my storyline. I was so excited I started writing out scenes right after my one-on-one session! My mentor was Shauna Fay, an editorial assistant (she may be an asst. editor now) from G.P. Putnam's Books for Young Readers. Folks, she is sharp! And, she's very much interested in historical fiction. Yay!

For official details, go here. The deadline for applications is JULY 8th! Good Luck!

3) Aspiring author Casey McCormick of Literary Rambles shines the Agent Spotlight this week on Alyssa Eisner Henkin of Trident Media Group, LLC. Very informative! Thanks, Casey! You've got me looking forward to this every week now.

4) Aspiring author Beth Revis over at writing it out interviews Cindy Pon, debut author of the much-heralded historical fantasy novel, Silver Phoenix. I don't usually read fantasy but I'd LOVE to read this! It sounds like an awesome story! And the cover is gorgeous, too.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend, everyone!

Depressing news

Hi all,

I haven't really posted this week because my mind has been on the things going on at my company. I work for a reference publisher in New York and the layoff bug has seemingly gotten around to us now. One person from my department has been laid off so far. That leaves eight of us. And I don't think it's finished. Please, everyone, pray that no one else in my dept. is affected. We're really stretched to the limit as it is. And more people have been let go throughout the rest of the company. *Sigh* It's really depressing.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fabulous Friday!

Greetings everyone!
Hope all was well with you this fine and fabulous Friday!

*Big sigh* Seems like I can only get around to posting on Tuesdays & Fridays. I really would like to post more, but my organizational skills for blogging are severely lacking, I think. Hmmm. Maybe I should write my posts out in advance? I'm really curious to know how everyone organizes their blogging time versus their writingtime/home life.

As usual, what I'm going to list here you may already know about. So without further ado, here are some things going on around the blogosphere:

1) 78th Annual Writer's Digest Contest deadline is today, BUT there is a LATE ENTRY deadline for all you procrastinators (like me). That deadline is JUNE 1st (must be postmarked by this date). Click here for more info.

FUN FACT: Did you know that Ruth Spiro's picture book, Lester Fizz: Bubble-Gum Artist (Dutton, 2008) was a winner in the 72nd Annual Writer's Digest Contest? Inspiring, isn't it?

2) Just found out over at Kimberly Willis Holt's blog, A Pen and a Nest that Ella Enchanted author Gail Carson Levine now has a blog. And she's welcoming visitors!

She says, ". . . I intend to post once a week, and I will probably blog mostly about writing, but I don't know that for sure. I'll see how it shapes up. If you are reading this, I would welcome a post to tell me what you're interested in reading from me."

Hmmm. What would all of us aspiring authors be interested in reading from a Newbery Honor award-winner? I say ANYTHING & EVERYTHING! Seriously, though, with all her success, I'll read whatever she chooses to write about. But since she asked, I'd specifically love to hear more about her writing process as well as her thoughts on voice, setting, plot, conflict, etc.

In her first post, she talks about how she creates descriptions for her characters. Simply amazing!

Go visit her folks! Oh yes, and if you blog, please spread the word!

3) Cynthia Leitich Smith over at Cynsations is holding a BOOK GIVEAWAY. Enter to win one of 20 copies of THE CHOSEN ONE by Carol Lynch Williams. See her blog for details. Cynthia posted this interview with Carol Lynch Williams a few days ago. I must say she's written a very interesting story!

4) For all those who just started blogging (like me!), Kathy Temean, Regional Advisor of NJSCBWI, offers these 10 tips for getting more people to comment on your blog posts. Think I'm gonna commit these to memory!
And speaking of blogging, I found this 2007 article from WOW! Women On Writing about optimizing your blog/website. I think much of it still holds true for today. I found it very informative. Hope you will too.

5) In regard to WOW! Women On Writing, here's another writing contest with a looming deadline of May 31st. I know it's close buthere you only have to write a max of 750 words. What kind of contest is it?
It's the Spring 2009 Flash Fiction Contest being given by WOW! Women On Writing. I may try it. They say they're open to all styles of writing, although the guest judge is Literary Agent Wendy Sherman who reps adult fiction and non-fiction. I still think it's worth a shot, though, because, well, you never know. The entry fee is $10 (not bad at all!) and there are 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place monetary prizes as well as goodie bags for 7 Runners Up, and 15 Honorable Mentions. Now how do the kids today say it? SWEET!

FUN FACT: Danette Haworth, a fellow blueboarder & author of Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning (Walker, 2008), received an Honorable Mention in the Spring 2007 Contest.

6) Lastly, aspiring author Casey McCormick over at Literary Rambles put the spotlight on Jill Grinberg of the Jill Grinberg Literary Management, LLC. I really love these agent profiles. Thanks, Casey!

Well, that's it, so far. Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Today I'm posting my entry from a recent "Drop the Needle" exercise given by Miss Snark's First Victim. The point of this exercise was to show an instance of over-the-top emotion. I chose this passage from my current work-in-progress, TRAIN WATCH:

A very brief blurb to set up the scene: The primary character is Grandma Jenny who is in the midst of whipping Cleo, her granddaughter, with a switch for being insolent. Cleo, in an attempt to distract Grandma Jenny from whipping Hattie (who is Jenny's 12-year-old daughter as well as Cleo's aunt), had sucked her teeth at Grandma Jenny (a no-no in the 1940s). What brought all this on was when Hattie, in a fit of anger, struck Cleo's brother in the head with a rolling pin.

Okay, here it is:

Grandpa Lum grabbed Grandma Jenny as she started to swing out again at Cleo.

“Lum, let go now!” she ordered. “Get away from me!”

“Jenny, Cleo ain’t done nothin’ wrong here, ” he said, loosening his grip on her arm.

“Nothin’ wrong my foot!” Grandma Jenny snorted. “No child gonna suck their teeth at me.” She nodded toward Cleo. “And get away with it.”

“Now Jenny I heard Cleo trying to apologize. Why don’t you leave her be?”

“And why don’t you go on in the house, Lum?” Grandma Jenny said, her nostrils flaring.

He started to say something back but, catching Grandma Jenny’s piercing gaze, ambled on toward the house, mumbling about how it was useless to argue when she was in such a state.

“Cleo, I don’t know what’s gotten into you, but you goin’ to hear this, too.” Grandma Jenny turned to face Hattie.

“Girl, you can’t be haulin’ off and hittin’ people just because they say somethin’ about you. Shoot. They talked about my savior, Jesus. And guess who came out on top anyway? She closed her eyes and shook her head as if trying to erase a bad memory. “Before I know it, you’ll be done hit some white person upside their head. And then whatcha gonna do? Huh? Them white folks don’t play around, Hattie. They’ll just as soon lynch a colored woman as well as they would a man.” She wiped her forehead. “I better not catch you raisin’ your hand to your nephew again.” Her eyes narrowed. “You hear?”

So, any thoughts/suggestions/criticisms? You can click on my entry (see above) to see what others had to say.

Anyone else doing Teaser Tuesday? Let me know and I'll drop on by. Thanks!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!!

My youngest (she's 6), bless her heart, with the help of her sister (age 9), made "breakfast" for me this morning: a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal and a glass of Hawaiian Punch! Not IHOP, of course, but very nice and sweeeeet! And, of course, they made cards for me . . . which I loved!

And the husband is cooking dinner, which is always GREAT! Plus, since he's a chef, he cooks 10x better than me, anyway! Right now, he's making fried chicken, macaroni 'n cheese, string beans, and corn on the cob. Yum!

Enjoy your day everyone!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato from Kidz Korner

Hi Kidz Korner! Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato almost have the same music
i love both of their music. My two favorites are ''The Climb''and ''Don't forget.''
She soon will be going on a world tour. But I also like hip hop
but light rock and pop are my favorite. My sister loves Hannah Montana
more than Demi Lovato. But I+ don't agree. Demi Lovato is a rockin' player.
Some people even say she's better than Hannah Montana. Am I one of those people. Demi Lovato is going on tour with somebody else I like, David Archuleta. Miley Cyrus went on tour in America and Europe.

---by "Sparkly"

Friday, May 8, 2009

Fabulous Friday! Some News & Tidbits

Hi all!

I know, I know, where have I been? I feel so bad that I haven't posted all week. But I'm making up for it today!

First off, I've been working on revisions to the 1st three chapters of my work-in-progress, like adding descriptive elements to certain scenes, checking the pace & flow of the story, making sure all the familial relationships make sense, etc. I caught one glaring error in a passage that I've read dozens of times. I referred to someone as a cousin when it should have said nephew. An agent or editor reading that passage would have been totally confused!

As usual, I was also perusing the blogosphere this week. Here are some posts that you may or may not be aware of:

1) Today, over at Pub Rants, agent Kristin Nelson has an awesome (when isn't it ever?) post about when an agent gives up on you & your right to know the names of editors who saw your work so that your next agent will know who, or who not, to submit to.

2) Aspiring author Casey McCormick shines the Agent Spotlight on Regina Brooks of Serendipity Literary Agency.

3) Another aspiring author, Tess Hilmo, is giving away a copy of a new writing resource, 20 Master Plots and how to build them by Ronald B. Tobias. To enter the contest, you must leave a comment stating what you would like written on your headstone.

4) For all you historical fans, Kirby Larson, author of the Newbery Honor Award-winning novel Hattie Big Sky, interviews Barbara Kerley, author of the historical picture book biography, What to do about Alice? (Scholastic, 2008). Her book is based on the life of Alice Roosevelt, daughter of Theodore Roosevelt (26th President of the United States). Also check out the rest of Kirby's blog. It's really neat!

5) Let's see, what else?

Lori Degman, winner of the 1st annual Cheerios' Spoonfuls of Stories Contest (btw, the 3rd annual contest is accepting entries now!) tells an exciting story of how she got her agent after winning the contest in this April post. And the story of how she found out she'd won the contest is equally charming.

6) Danette Vigilante offers this post on the power of prayer during her writing journey & search for an agent.
If you want to see the inspiring story of how she got her 2-book deal (BEFORE getting her agent), please see this past interview with her by Danette Haworth (author of Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning, 2008). It's really awesome!

7) Beth Revis, over at writing it out, presents this delightful interview with Sarah Prineas, author of the middle-grade fantasy, The Magic Thief.

8) HarperCollins children's editor Molly O'Neil offers her opinion on The Great American (YA) Novel over on her new blog, Ten Block Walk.

9) Lastly, children's lit agent Elana Roth of the Caren Johnson Literary Agency now has her own blog. Check it out!

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Soon To Come from Kidz Korner

Wow!!!!!! I hope we get a sportsman. My cousin said he would be intrested and maybe you would be to. He could talk about Kobe Bryant or LeBron James or he could tell you about a game he saw. So tell us what you think, and how you feel about the idea.
Don't think we would forget about the boys.


Friday, May 1, 2009

Fabulous Friday!

Ah, it's the end of the work week . . . what's not to love about that!

I was going through some files the other day and came across an article by Irene Goodman of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency entitled "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Authors." I thought I'd share some parts with you all.

1. Write on a schedule.
Ah, I think this was meant for me! She says, if I may quote, "Successful authors sit down and face that blank screen every day. You don’t actually have to do it every day, but you do have to do it on a firm schedule. . . . If you write only when the muse strikes or when you feel like it, you will have a very hard time finishing a book." Well, I know that is definitely true because I've tried doing that and it doesn't work.
She goes on to say "Just because it’s a calling doesn’t mean you should wait for inspiration. You must have the sense and the discipline to exercise your craft on a regular basis. This will accomplish a number of useful things. One, you will get a lot of work done. Two, you will oil your mental writing machinery very well. Even if you throw out everything you wrote the day before, you have still used those writing muscles."
So true, so true.

2. Don't quit.
Yes, this does sound simple. But it isn't to me, especially when you get that nagging voice of self-doubt, wondering if you can really compete with all the authors in your genre, both published and unpublished. I think not quitting requires a HUGE amount of self-confidence in yourself & in your work.
Goodman says that "truly accomplished authors know that all careers have their own hills and valleys. What may appear to be a valley to you might be someone else’s nirvana . . . Some very talented authors have been through some pretty tricky times. Some of them have even reinvented themselves with new names and new identities. Whatever happened, they figured out a way to go on. If you quit, you aren’t an author any longer, and that’s the end. There’s nothing wrong with that if that’s what you really want." Nooooo, that's not what I want. How 'bout you?
And she goes on to say "if you’re in this for the long haul, if you are truly committed to publishing books no matter what, then you will always rise and shine no matter what life brings."

3. Feedback is a gift.
She says "that means editorial letters, constructive comments, and even rank criticism."

I think she's talking to those authors who are published, but I think even us "pre-published" writers can learn from this point.

The point being that, and I quote, "it’s natural and human to become defensive about your own work. While your editor is talking, you are already forming the arguments and denials in your mind. This may be natural and it may be human, but it’s not smart. Learn to turn that mechanism off. Stop arguing in your head and just listen. If you don’t agree or you don’t understand, say so. Let her keep talking. She has a reason for thinking something isn’t working, and you need to find out why it isn’t working for her. . . . Don’t be afraid of getting your feelings hurt. Learn to separate your work from yourself. A manuscript is a product. It can be changed. It probably will be changed."

4. Know your audience, know thyself.
Again, I think she's talking to published authors here, but it's worth remembering.
She says "If you get fan letters, pay attention to them. If they praise the same things repeatedly, keep doing those things. Learn to plan your career around the things your readers like, and use those things while you grow, even if you are moving away from them. . . . Once you target your true, authentic voice, hold onto it. Don’t let anyone mess with it. Even if your books seem to change, the ultimate thing you are delivering to your readers won’t change."

5. Have a plan.
Gotta have a plan. She says "Successful careers are not an accident. . . . Without a plan, you are going to spin your wheels or just not grow fast enough. It is an ongoing process, one that begins on Day One, and continues through countless revisions and adjustments until you are no longer writing. . . . Careers that have been intelligently planned have consistency, overall growth, and a sense of order. They may not be perfect, but they have a sense of forward motion and organization that sets the stage for moving to the next level. Your agent is your career manager, or should be, and the two of you are partners in its creation."
Goodman further advises to "Take control of what you can and leave the rest to the people who work for and with you. Make sure they are the best, trust them, and then let it go."

6. Separate your work from your life.
She says that "Successful authors live well and they enjoy their good fortune. They know how to be good to themselves. . . . Your family, your faith, your friends, your outside interests, and your physical health are all a part of who you are. Give them all their due."

So basically, I guess what she's saying is that to be a well-rounded author, we should have a life outside of writing. I think that's good advice especially when you feel yourself getting too burnt-out. But I know some people will probably say writing IS their life. Because sometimes when things get crazy in your life, all you have to keep you from cracking up is YOUR WRITING.

7. When the bus stops, get on.
I think she's saying, basically, don't let fear or doubt prevent you from grabbing an opportunity when the time arises. She says, " It means taking a leap of faith. It means that you must be willing to shake up your own comfort zone and head into unknown territory."

For me, my comfort zone is revising and more revising. But I know I have to leave it soon and head out into the unknown world of querying and submitting the work, if I ever want to move forward in my writing career.

And lastly, Goodman reveals that the eighth habit is ATTITUDE. She says, "The attitude is that you have to want it, and you have to want it bad. There is too much competition to risk taking success for granted. . . . If you know deep down that you will do whatever it takes, then these habits will not be difficult for you to maintain."

Well! I think I'm re-charged now! How 'bout you? How bad do YOU want it?

If you want to read the article in it's entirety, please click here.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday Tidbits

Agent Elizabeth Jote of Objective Entertainment is looking for, and I quote (because this is NOT listed on her Agent Query page), "MIDDLE GRADE (no one is writing this and everyone is asking me for it. Proposals are welcome.) . . . ."

She goes on to list other genres on the adult side. If you’re interested, she also wants contemporary romance with REAL women, suspense, and nonfiction proposals of all kinds (currently biographies, business, and women’s interest).

Now, I’m thinkin’, if she’s being asked for middle grade novels, maybe other agents are too! Hmmm.

In other agent news, aspiring author Casey McCormick shines the spotlight on Ginger Knowlton of Curtis Brown, Ltd. From what I read, Ginger seems like the kind of agent every author would want to have in their corner. No wonder she has such a STELLAR list of clients!

Christy Raedeke, over at Juvenescence, interviews 2010 debut YA author Steve Brezenoff. Steve tells a fascinating story of how he met his editor, Andrew Karre from Carolrhoda, and then his agent, Edward Necarsulmer IV at McIntosh & Otis.

And over on the QueryTracker blog, Agent Joanna Stampfel-Volpe of Nancy Coffey Literary, having recently judged the One-Sentence Pitch contest there, offers constructive advice on what to include in a one-sentence pitch. She says that out of the 585 entries, 25% of them weren't even pitches at all.

Folk, I printed out this post because the advice she offers and examples she gives of what is and isn't a pitch sentence is really on the money, if I may be so cliche. And as many of you already know, this type of pitch is perfect for conferences and writer's day events.

Kidz Korner is back with a . . .

Kid Recipe

Here's a kid recipe from right out of the blue. It's called a sweet fruit tart
and it won't be tarty so don't go away from the computer yet.

First, get a biscuit or a Thomas English muffin.
2nd take fruits such as apple, peach and orange or put any other fruit together.
3rd, slice the biscuit in half.
4th, then put fruits in a microwave and heat it up but not for too long .
5th, look at it, dig in, and reply to me.


Movie Review -- MONSTERS vs. ALIENS

Monsters vs. Aliens is a movie about 5 monsters: Insectasouras, Ginormica, Missing Link, Dr. Cockaroach, and B. O. B. They have to save everyone fom the Aliens. B.O.B. is the funniest.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Work-In-Progress Wednesday

Well, it's almost midnight on Work-in-Progress Wednesday (soon to be Thursday!) and . . . I haven't written a thing! All this week! I feel soooooo bad. I'm really slacking here. I know this has got to stop in orde for me to move forward in my novel. I think I'm procrastinating because I know I have A LOT to revise. But I know the revisions would be for the betterment (is that a word?) of the story. Sigh.

But, actually, I did write some--if you count commenting on other people's blogs as real writing. I think I do because 1) sometimes you can learn a great deal just from someone else's comment and 2) it's good practice in learning how to write concisely. I'm hoping this makes sense.

Ah well, I'm going to try again tomorrow. Writing, that is. And not so much blog-hopping! Hope to report more progress next week!

So . . . how's your week going? Are you getting much writing done?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's Release Day for Debut Author Cindy Pon!

I'm happy to announce that it's release day for fellow blueboarder and debut author, Cindy Pon. Yay!!!

Her debut title, Silver Phoenix drops today in bookstores and online book retailers like amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc.

AND, in celebration of this joyous event, Cindy is graciously giving away (well, actually raffling off) her original, framed brush paintings (they're beautiful!), gift cards to bookstores, and, of course, copies of her book, which has already garnered rave reviews from Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and Princess Diaries author Meg Cabot! Whoo-hoo!

Click here for details on how to win these fabulous items!

Teaser Tuesday

I'm not sure if anyone's reading this, but here's another excerpt from my MG work-in-progress:


Cleo raised her eyes to the ceiling. Thank you, Lord. Grandpa Lum hasn’t reached the house—yet.

“Whoo-weee! It’s . . . some . . . kinda . . . hot . . . out there!” Hattie huffed, as she pulled herself up and over the ladder. She wiped the steady drip of water off her dirt-streaked face with the back of her hand and down the sides of the faded, dust-covered overalls she wore. Catching her breath, she continued, “Papa says you better hurry on down. He don’t want anymore dilly-dallying from you.” She focused more clearly on Cleo. “You still in your school clothes?”

“Hattie,” Cleo begged, shimmying out her knee-length plaid skirt, “tell him I’m coming. Please?” She forced her clammy legs into the new pair of blue jeans her mama had sent last month. “ I just have to finish something first.”

“Papa don’t care ’bout none of that. You better get a move on or he’ll be up here with a switch—or a belt.” She looked over her shoulder, then back at Cleo. “He’s right behind me, you know.” Hattie’s anxious voice matched her worried face. She crooked her finger. “And I don’t want any part of it.”

“Humph. My papa never made me work in the field,” Cleo grumbled, looking out the half-way boarded window for her grandfather. “He wanted me to be a teacher, maybe even one for the high school.” She closed her eyes, remembering his dream for her. “He said my hands were for writing, not farming,” she muttered, turning from the window.

“I’m sorry ’bout your papa, Cleo, but, um, you know my papa don’t stand for no foolishness.” Hattie nodded vigorously as if confirming this fact more to herself than to Cleo. “Shoot. You’re lucky. None of us ever got any special treatment here, don’t care what they were tryin’ to be.” She stood glaring at Cleo with her chin stuck out and arms folded across her chest. “So you best get used to it. You been here long enough,” she added, her anger building.

Okay, so . . . any comments? criticisms? Don't worry, I've built up a tough skin!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday Tidbits

Today I'm posting links to interesting posts on writing, publishing, books, etc., that I've come across in the last few days. Some of you may already know about a few (or maybe all) of these items, though, so bear with me.

1) This morning I came across this enlightening interview with editor/author Jill Santopolo on Agent Sara Crowe's blog. Jill is an editor at HarperCollins' Balzer and Bray imprint as well as a published author in her own right. Her title, Alec Flint, Super Sleuth: The Nina, the Pinta and the Vanishing Treasure was published in 2008 by Scholastic.

2) Aspiring children's writer, Tess Hilmo, had a terrific post yesterday with inspiring reminders from her readers (me included!) about the Do's and Don'ts of the writing process.

This was my contribution:

DO write a story that you'd want to read (over and over)--make it THAT GOOD!

DON'T ever give up!

3) Over at Literary Rambles, aspiring author Casey McCormick shines the spotlight on Nancy Gallt of the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency.

4) This past Sunday, at Juvenescence, Christy Raedeke, debut author of the forthcoming Prophecy of Days (Flux, 2010), posted a fantastic interview with debut YA author Alexandra Bracken. Bracken landed a top literary agent on--now get this--her 21st BIRTHDAY! At 21, I would have never even fathomed such a possibility while in college. Yes, she's in college, too! Her story is definitely inspiring, to say the least.

And while you're at Juvenescence, be sure and check out the rest of Christy's interviews with a bunch of other debut authors. I find these stories fascinating because, of course, they were once (and not too long ago, either!) aspiring authors, too!

5) Lastly, I just wanted to reiterate a message posted on Verla Kay's message board that there is a call out for debut authors who have Middle Grade and Young Adult titles coming out in 2010 to join the Class of 2k10. The book must also be published by a house listed in the CWIM (Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market) and in the US.

To apply please visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/classof2k10/

For more information or questions, contact Janet Fox at jfoxtx@aol.com

That's it for me so far. I'll post more as I come across it.

Enjoy your day, folks!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Work-In-Progress Wednesday

My revision strategy, or lack thereof

One of my goals for this blog was (is?) to write about my writing process and revision strategies, that is, whenever I figure them out. I do know, though, that I need a better system of organization. Right now, my writing process is VERY scattered and much too jumbled to understand. I mean, I'll write a little on some days, after coming home from work, then other days I'll just surf the 'Net for writing tips or I'll research facts that pertain to my story. And sometimes, when I'm just too tired to write (after feeding the kids, helping with homework, running baths, etc.), I'll just THINK--about scenes, storylines, plots, characters, etc. Of course, to my husband and children, it doesn't seem like I'm making any progress at all. But I know I am.

But I do wonder if there will ever come a time when I can get my writing totally organized, that is, have a set time or day to write while holding down a full-time job.

Anyone care to offer tips? How do YOU do it?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

I've noticed that some blogs have what is called Teaser Tuesday. I don't know the official rules (are there any?) but I guess this is where you post a snippit or two from a current work-in-progress in the hope of a little feedback from your readers. Am I right? I hope so because . . . here I go!


April 10, 1941

Dear Mama,

I hope you are doing well. PLEASE COME GET ME AND OTIS! I’m tired of working in the field picking cotton and corn and tobacco and whatever else Grandpa Lum grows for the “BOSS MAN.” I thought slavery was over! I want to come live with you, Mama. NOW! And Mama, you’re not going to believe this, but yesterday, when me, Hattie, and Otis were out in the cotton field pulling weeds, Grandma Jenny hit me over the head with a hoe! She said I was too slow. Mama, I was just tired. Tired from walking the mile home from school. Tired from the heat. Tired from working in the fields. Please come get--


Oh no. Someone’s coming up the ladder! Grandpa Lum will skin me alive if he finds me up here writing to my mama.

Shoving aside the worn notebook she was writing on, Cleo Holmes swung her brown, mosquito-bitten legs over the side of the bed, narrowly missing the jagged metal springs poking through the thin mattress.

With the finished letter still in her hand, she hurried across the room and quickly pushed aside the dark sheet of the makeshift closet. Pulling down an old, tattered shoe box from the back of the top shelf, she placed the letter in the box alongside her blue ribbon ink pen (won in a most-books-read-over-the-summer contest). She scooted to the middle of the room just as Hattie, her twelve-year-old aunt, appeared at the top of the ladder, sweat streaming down the sides of her sun-kissed, chocolate-brown face.

Middle Grade Alert

Hello Everyone!

Before I get into Teaser Tuesday, I just wanted to alert readers, especially those who write middle grade fiction, to a post I read yesterday on the Caren Johnson Literary Agency blog by Agent Elana Roth.

The topic was YA vs. Middle Grade and why publishers and agents are seeing--and have more clients--writing YA than MG. Elana says she, herself, is BEGGING for MG. Yay!!!

Needless to say, this is a very interesting and INSPIRING post as Elana goes on to say that "editors are constantly asking for middle grade series, which need to be grounded in the tradition of what works but also offer something new."

I for one find this heartening as middle grade is easier for me to write than say, a picture book. I think it's because the middle grade years were some of the happiest ones I had in school. In the middle grades (grades 5-8 for me), there was less peer pressure and angst than in high school. And the middle grade years were also when I "discovered" some of my favorite children's authors, like Judy Blume, Norma Klein, Richard Peck, Paula Danziger, Norma Fox Mazer, Lois Duncan, and Rosa Guy. I could go on but I think you get the idea.

So fellow readers/writers, what were YOUR favorite (or maybe not-so-favorite) school years & were they the reason you write what you write now?

Click here to read Elana's entire post.

Happy Writing!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Katherine Paterson Prize for YA and Children's Writing

Just came from Cynthia Leitich Smith's blog, Cynsations, where she has announced that Hunger Mountain, the arts journal of Vermont College of Fine Arts, has launched the inaugural Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult (YA) and Children's Writing.

Folks, my heart literally leaped with joy at this, because Katherine Paterson is, like, one of my literary icons in children's literature. And I know, having chatted in many children's forums, that she is a favorite of MANY writers for children, both published & unpublished. Wow! What a great way to honor her!

The Grand Prize is $1,000, with 2 honorable mentions receiving $100 each. The contest is open to writers of young adult fiction, middle grade fiction, and picture books for a piece of fiction not yet under contract or under consideration by a publisher. They are accepting novel excerpts or a short story for YA and MG, and the whole text of picture books.

And get this, Katherine Paterson will judge! Isn't that exciting?! And maybe a little nerve-wracking, too . . . just knowing a NewberyAward-winning author will be reading your work!

Ok, let me stop babbling. For more info, go to Cynsations. Right. Now. The deadline is June 30th!