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.