Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Do You Have a Day Job?

I read a post the other day where a published author (I forget who) discussed how they chose to keep working part-time in addition to writing. They gave a list of reasons as to why they chose this (feel free to give the link if you saw it too), and it got me thinking. I think the fantasy of chucking everything to be a "full time writer" is pretty common.

I'll admit that as a mom to two young kiddos who also works part-time, carving out time to write can be a challenge. But knowing I only have an hour or two to write after the kids go down makes me that much more focused. Also, the people I interact with as a psychologist in my private practice remind me that truth will always be stranger than fiction--I seriously couldn't make up some of the bizarre things I come across each week. My creativity stays in high gear due to the variety of situations I encounter, and as much as the idea of writing alone in a cabin sounds a little like heaven (okay, a lot, depending on the day), I like to think that my chaotic daily life enriches my writing.

What about you? Do you have a day job, or are you a full-time writer? What do you see as the advantages/disadvantages? Do you dream of writing full-time one day? 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Contest Monday with Agent-Judged First Page Contest

Today is Shelley Watters birthday *insert happy birthday to Shelley song here* and Shelley is celebrating with a contest of awesome. It features your first page and literary agent, Victoria Marini. Get the deets on Shelley's Birthday Blowout First Page Contest and enter by 11:59p June 27th (that's tonight, so hurry).

Got a contest you'd like to promote? Enter it in Mr. Linky below:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Elvis Lives

It is summer! Finally! The warm weather is here, the kids are home until September, and I am in full mom mode. Which, unfortunately, leaves very little time for blogging, reading, and writing. If I skip a Thursday post here and there, please forgive me. I've got the summer fun bug.

As you may know, and if you didn't you do now, I am a big Elvis Presley fan. I think he's the most beautiful man that ever lived, and his voice belongs to some supernatural being of awesomeness. Sooo naturally, when I hear that an Elvis impersonator is doing a free concert at the beach fair, I HAD to go. Even though it was Father's Day and I'm pretty sure my husband was a teensy bit jealous. Seriously, babe, the real thing is long gone and nobody compares to you. Mwah. So we took the kids to the beach for the day and then parked on the grass for the concert. I saw "Elvis" when they were setting up the stage and had to run up there and say hello. He was super nice and took a picture with me. I warn you, he looks nothing like The King, but still, he was awesome.

I give you Elvis, the Italian version from Jersey.

He told me if I came back up after his concert, he'd take another photo wearing his costume, but we left an hour into the show. Kids needed to go to bed, although my oldest did not want to leave. She stood by the stage the whole time we were there. "Elvis", by day known as Anthony Liguori Jr., waved at me from the stage while he was singing and then brought me a scarf, which my girl confiscated and wore all night.

This is the very short (battery died) video I took where he waved at me. :) It's a small wave, and then my camera got all shaky because...well because he waved at me.

As you can hear from that short clip, he was awesome! Sounded VERY much like Elvis, and he was a great performer. If he's ever in your area, check him out!

I hope you're all enjoying your summer!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Reading Day

It's a cloudy, muggy day, and I haven't spent an afternoon just laying around and reading in months, so I'm declaring today a reading day. I have SO MANY awesome books I've been dying to read just waiting for me to pick them up. The hard part will be deciding which one. Here's just a few that are calling me:

What about you? What are you reading - or wishing you could take the time to read - today?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Contest "Monday"

Lots of great writer prizes and book giveaways this week! (Let's all just pretend this is Monday and I didn't forget to post yesterday!)

I'm giving away a copy of the awesome new middle grade fantasy The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente on my blog. Contest ends 6/27.

Kari at A Good Addiction is celebrating the release of A NEED SO BEAUFITUL by Suzanne Young with some amazing random acts of kindness that include awesome things like Query Letter Critiques, First Chapter Crits, Signed Books and more! Contest ends 6/28

Tahereh Mafi is giving away an ARC of her debut SHATTER ME. Check out her blog for the details. Contest ends 6/26

Spot Open for October Breckenridge Writing Retreat

As many of you know, because I've been singing it from the rooftops (not really, but only because my singing would kill the birds nesting in our chimney), I'm going to a 5-day writing retreat this Oct. in Breckenridge. The mountains and trees that time of year are ah-mazing, and I can't believe the awesome people I'll get to meet up there. Anyway, I was chatting via email today with the lovely Cicily Janus, who besides being a published author of this book:

...and former intern to uber-agent, Scott Hoffman, is also the host of this fabulous writer-ly getaway. She told me that one of the writers backed out because they found out they are a finalist for a Fulbright (must be nice to have those kind of conflicts in your schedule), and will have to postpone their retreat until 2012.  That means there's a spot open for this year--and because I know that all our blog followers are super cool, and I really want someone super cool to spend the week with, I'll share the details one more time:

You can spend 5 heavenly days here:

 "Here" is Breckenridge, Colorado where you can write and talk shop with Cicily, 3 awesome editors, an amazing agent, an Edgar-nominated author, and 12 other fabulous writers. Attendees get critiques by all staff on the first 10,000 words of their ms, and have scheduled meetings with the staff during the week BONUS: Cicily is a gourmet cook (I'm listing sample menu items below), AND there's a hot tub.My awesome hubby, who may or may not be trying to redeem himself from his shocking betrayal (can you tell I'm still not over it?) encouraged me to go for it.

Important Info is below, but check out the Writing Retreats website for more info and how to contact Cicily.

DATES: Oct. 13-17, 2011 It's an easy trip for me since I live here, but Cicily has had attendees from all over the world, including Australia and England. You'll get to meet some interesting people...ya know, aside from me. :)

2011 Staff of Awesome:
Literary Agent: Scott Hoffman
A refugee from the world of politics, Scott Hoffman is one of the founding partners of Folio Literary Management, LLC. Prior to starting Folio, Scott was at PMA Literary & Film Management, Inc.
My current list is about half fiction and half nonfiction. My fiction is about half literary, and half commercial (chick lit? Sure - if it's smart and fresh, and has a strong voice.) Nonfiction is spread out among
serious journalistic or academic nonfiction, narrative nonfiction, and quirkier pop-culture books. If your project doesn't fit one of the "established" categories, I'm probably your guy - I love projects that
can't be easily classified.

Editor: Anica Rissi
Anica Mrose Rissi is the Executive Editor at Simon Pulse, a YA imprint of Simon & Schuster. She looks for edgy, voice-driven fiction; unexpected or dark humor; smart writing; and characters that she can’t get out of her head. Anica especially enjoys launching and building the careers of debut novelists. Her list includes New York Times bestselling authors Jessica Verday and Orson Scott Card, two-time RITA finalist
Lauren Strasnick, and Eileen Cook, Terra Elan McVoy, Amy Reed, Albert Borris, Nina Malkin, Elana Johnson, Leila Sales, Carolee Dean, and Hannah Moskowitz.

Editor: Kevin Doughten
Kevin Doughten is an editor at Viking Penguin specializing in nonfiction. He has worked with a range of authors, including Barack Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, Malcolm X biographer
Manning Marable, and bestselling authors Jimmy Breslin, Robert Lacey and Rafe Esquith. He enjoys working with writers of all stripes including memoirists, essayists, jounalists, and has a particular interest
in 20th-century history, the arts, and outsider stories.

Editor: Katie Gilligan St. Martin's Press

After four years at Thomas Dunne Books, I’ve acquired nearly every type of fiction—and while I seek primarily women’s lit, I am always on the hunt for genuine narrators, or quirky plots, or cry-into-a-glass-of-wine tearjerkers.  I’ve had the privilege of working with McSweeney’s alum, Diane Vadino (Smart Girls Like Me), Giller Prize Finalist, Alissa York (Effigy), and have recently acquired the next two ballad novels by New York Times bestselling author, Sharyn McCrumb. 

My women’s fiction acquisitions range from the commercial to the literary, and all points in between—including crossovers into mystery and romance genres.  I’ve recently acquired non-fiction titles ranging from the memoir of an organic blueberry farmer, to a savory travel-cookbook set in Umbria.  In short, I’m eagerly seeking voices that have me at page one and can keep my attention while running on the treadmill or inspire me to test out a new recipe.

Author: David Corbett

David Corbett is a recovering Catholic/ex-PI/former bar-band gypsy and—lest we forget—a novelist, poet and screenwriter. Nominated for virtually every major prize in crime-writing, he would hate to ruin
things by actually winning one, though having a New York Times Notable Book and a story in Best American Mystery Stories is kinda sweet. He has four novels under his belt (which frees up room on his
bookshelf)—the most recent being 2010's Do They Know I'm Running? ("a hard-hitting epic"—Publishers Weekly)—and routinely gets compared to Graham Greene, Robert Stone, Dashiell Hammett
and Telly Savalas. Feel daring? Go to: www.davidcorbett.com

Sample Menu Items: (Cicily accommodates all food allergies)
• Panini Grilled Peanut Butter and Jelly
• Asparagus and Feta Risotto served with Lamb Roast and Spinach Salad
• Golden Carrot and Ginger soup with Saffron
• Southern Style Grits with fried Ham Steaks
• Black and Blue Bison Burgers
• Roast Beef Open Faced Flat Bread Melts with Grilled peppers and sweet
Horseradish sauce
• Spinach and Leek Bisque
• Chunky beet and sweet potato salad with honey goat cheese and Almonds
• Tomato Basil Fettucini with Fresh Vodka Fire Sauce
• Oat Bran Pancakes with Fresh, Warm, Fruit Compote

NOTE: All beverages, including wine, coffee, tea, and water are also included.

I'm so excited and am already counting down the days. Come write in Breckenridge with me!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

No Love For The Present?

Since I made the switch from screenwriting to novels, I've discovered that some people don't care for present tense. In fact some people have violent hate for present tense prose. I find this curious. I rarely notice tense when I'm reading and the times I do, it's usually because a book written in past tense has suddenly confused me as to when something is happening/has happened. (That whole, "I'm saying it in the past tense but it's really happening right now" thing hurts my brain.)

I tend to naturally write in present tense. I used to think this was because of screenwriting - scripts are written in present tense. But then one day I was flipping through my old journals and I discovered I've always written in present tense. And that made me think about the way people tell stories. I think in our daily lives, we use present tense much more often than you might think.

I'm sure you've had a conversation that went something like this:

"You won't believe what happened to me today!"


"So, I'm in the store and this guy comes up and is like, did it hurt? And I go, um, what? And he gives me this big cheesy grin and says, when you fell out of heaven? And I was like seriously??"

(Okay, hopefully you don't have conversations like this, but you get the point.) The story was told naturally in present tense because she's sort of reliving it. It makes the moment more immediate. So with this in mind, I am really curious what it is that those of you that hate present tense find so awful about it. I've read terms like "jarring" and "annoying" and I wonder what about it gives you those feelings.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Getting Naked

This post was prompted after seeing a one-line description of a man who stripped naked on a flight in front of fellow passengers, and refused to put his clothes back on. Though one can assume he a) drank one too many cocktails at the airport lounge b) is suffering from mental illness or c) was playing an extreme version of "truth or dare," I have to admit I also thought, "Wow, he got naked in front of a LOT of people...and he didn't even care!" Yes, I'm getting to how this relates to writing.

As a writer, part of me feels exposed, like I'm baring it all when I send my work out there to crit partners, etc. Side Note: This is where I planned to insert an accompanying picture of someone feeling naked, but when I started Googling, I only found the naked part--and holy cow, they were NOT what I had in mind for this article.

Anyway, when I first began writing several years ago, I read that it was a good idea to join a critique group so I joined SCBWI and found a group I wanted to join. The problem was that it involved sending a sample of my work to the moderator, as they only had one opening. Up until this point, no one aside from family had seen my writing and I freaked out a little. Sure, you write things because you want other people to read them, but it was my first time, and I felt vulnerable and exposed. Like I was baring a part of me no one had seen before...I felt naked. Thank goodness they took me in (the fabulous Critiquers) because I've learned so much from this talented group of women, but at the time it was a difficult step to take.

Since then, it's gotten way easier, and I get naked all the time--in the writing kind of way. I still have that twinge when I send a new ms to my blog Sisters, or a new chapter to the Critiquers, but it's way easier now than it was that first time. Part of me wonders if that feeling will ever go away, and part of me doesn't want it to--it means I care about what I've created and want others to connect to it the way I did while writing it.

What about you? Anyone else feel naked when they send their stuff out into the world? Or you used to feel that way but you've gotten over it? NOTE: If you've ever stripped down on an airplane--um, wow--but you don't need to share!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Contest Monday with a 5K Critique

I love reporting success stories! The lovely and fabulous Natalie Parker, who is part of Tangled Fiction with my blog Sisters, has some amazing news to share. She signed with the amazing Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary. *throws confetti* *drinks champagne*

In celebration of her awesome agent-finding news, she's giving away critiques to EVERYONE who wants one. Yeah, that's right: EVERYONE! She totally rocks...and she might be a little crazy. Send her the first 5K words of your ms and she'll critique it for you. She's accepting entries through June 17th on a first come, first served basis, so get yours in ASAP. I chatted with her via email yesterday and it sounds like she has a TON already, so get movin'. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Book Recommendation: DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (May 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062024027
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062024022

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

Amazeballs. Seriously. I LOVED this book! I devoured the first 2/3rds of it and then slowed down because I really didn't want it to end. It's a gripping, heartbreaking, must-read debut. 

Visit Veronica Roth at her blog, or follow her on twitter

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"...The Most Unlearned and Uninformed Female That Ever Dared To Be An Authoress." --Jane Austen.

The above is a piece of a Jane Austen quote (one I found online some years ago, so take that for what it's worth) that has always stuck with me. Jane Austen, the woman who created the mysterious Mr. Rochester, and made us love him despite his many faults, was uneducated.

***And if you stopped right there and thought, wow, she's an idiot, please keep reading. Or don't. Up to you.***

It takes some guts to admit this, believe me, but this is something that has bothered me from the day I sat down with a blank Word doc. I don't have a BA in English lit. I don't have a MFA. Shoot, I didn't even finish college.

I can't write a novel.

I've never been to Europe. I've never been to Vegas. I've never even been off the East Coast of the USA.

I can't write a novel.

But Jane had never gone to college. And Jane had probably never seen Vegas either (snarf). And Jane has been in our hearts and minds for centuries. We were forced to read her impossibly long books in junior high (and most of us, self included, hated them), and then we fell in love with her again (or in my case for the first time) as young adults.

I don't aspire to write like Jane--I know I am my own writer and I can only write like me. But I do hope that someday (soon) someone is going to love what I've created as much as I do. I want a protagonist that readers connect with. A character they can stand by, no matter her faults. I want a male lead that makes the reader's heart pound right along with the protagonist, despite what he keeps in his attic.

So many great authors have said it before: you can't teach someone to be a great writer. Charlaine Harris (a huge inspiration to me) said recently that writing is nature over nurture. You can learn the craft, but a writer is not made in a classroom.

A writer is born.

***The goof is intended, folks. I assure you.Good catch!***

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Writing more than one book at a time

Until now, my writing process has been fairly straight forward:

Step 1. Get story idea.
Step 2. Write it and revise ad nauseum.

End of story (pun intended). I never worked on more than one thing at a time, because I  became obsessed with that one manuscript. This time around has been a little different. I've gotten excited about several different projects and couldn't pick just one. I know last week I confessed to a little summer slacking, but I've started working on three different projects. (Side note: as I tend to be an over-achiever by nature, my definition of slacking might differ from others.) They're pretty different in scope (boy-centric MG, YA ghost story, and YA horror).

I thought if I started on all of them, one would sort of "take over" and I'd finish that one first, but so far, I'm still drawn to all three. Granted, I haven't gotten that far yet but I wondered how that has worked for others. On the plus side, it gives me the opportunity to go back to something with fresh eyes pretty quickly if I've worked on a chapter for a different ms. One big negative is that if I keep working on all of them at once, it will take me that much longer to finish something.

Has anyone out there worked on more than one ms at a time? What did you see as the positives and negatives? Did one eventually take over? Am I crazy? NOTE: my lovely blog sisters are prohibited from answering that last one. :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Contest Monday

Good morning, lovelies!

Vampire Book Club blog has recently passed their one year birthday, and to celebrate they're giving away ten books! Most of them are adult paranormal, but I did see HEREAFTER by Tara Hudson and STARCROSSED by Josephine Angelini on the list. Closes Thurs. June 30th 11:59pm. Check that out here.

Good Choice Reading is hosting an after BEA giveaway. Up for grabs is a copy of FOREVER and THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater. Ends Wed. June 22nd at 11:59pm. To enter, go here.

"Geek Girl" has a birthday coming up! And to celebrate, she's giving one lucky reader a book from her birthday wish list. Stop by her blog to wish her a happy birthday and to enter her contest. Ends June 12th, on her b-day.

Book bloggers, we *heart* you.

As always, if you know of any contest (book or writing related) feel free to share them below! You can put the prize you're offering in the "name" box instead of your name.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Like Kristi, I've been slacking a little lately. Or distancing myself from my WIP, rather. Yes. That.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Weekend! Mine was a success. With my grilling skills, yes, but I mean with my summer-spot hunting. New York is a very crowded place. I don't think a spot exists within the city limits that is not cluttered with people.

Except this one.

And I like you, I really do. But I'm not telling you where this is because it is MINE! Precious.

It is a part of the beach near my house. (I live on an island. Sounds exotic. It's not.) Apparently, not a lot of folks like to hang out on the beach that has more shells than sand and smells like dead sea creatures because the tide comes in and drops them off in shallow pools for the birds to eat. But I like it just fine. Because it is EMPTY! Seriously, I felt like I spent the afternoon in a Dystopian novel. Or like I'd turn a corner and see Mary chopping the head off of a water-logged Mudo.

There were a few inhabitants.

But they're really very quiet. I do believe I've found my new writing spot. Have you a favorite hideaway?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Valerie is on vacation! And she may or may not be posting while she's gone. We thought we'd let you all know so you don't think we ate her.

We didn't.
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