Monday, January 30, 2012

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

I reviewed Ashfall by Mike Mullin over at Afterglow Book Reviews...check it out here.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

2012 NESCBWI Conference

If you're going to be in the New England area in April, you should definitely consider registering for the New England SCBWI Conference from April 20-22.

I attended my first regional conference in April 2007. I was an extreme newbie. Nervous. I was sure I was a poser, and that everyone else knew more than me. Keep in mind, at the time I had been a director of a department at a major American university, had supervised professional level staff, had coordinated a regional conference (for a different organization). In short, I was a grown up. I knew stuff.

But the writing thing was new.

The people of NESCBWI are awesome. No one ever made me feel "less than." I immediately felt part of something. Something cool.

Flash forward five years. I've been a volunteer since 2008. Getting involved as a volunteer is a great way to feel a part of something, network, and make friends. This year, I'm organizing the Special Interest Groups and the Submissions Strategy Consultations.

And for the first time, this year, I'm faculty. I have the extreme honor to be on an Author/Agent panel with my agent Vickie Motter, as well as Kate Messner and her agent Jennifer Laughran, and Christine Brodien-Jones and her agent Stephen Fraser. If I squee a little, you'll know why. ::pinch me::

It's going to be an awesome conference. Registration opens on Monday, January 23. Hope to see you there!

Monday, January 16, 2012


And I don't mean doing the laundry while you're checking email.

As a writer, I've always focused on one project at a time. Write something, finish it, move on to something else.

The further I get into my career as a writer, the more I realize that I need to multitask. Multiple projects need attention--at the same time. ::gasp::

Fiction that I'd like to get published before the next millennium and non fiction work-for-hire projects that have real deadlines--need to get equal billing. Couple those with real life, and volunteer positions with NESCBWI and Girl Scouts. Add the day job, and stir. There's a lot going on. No wonder my house looks like a mess. I think my child and husband might be in there somewhere, I saw them both a minute ago.

The real question is how. How can I change the way I've always done things and shift. Make lists? Set deadlines? Get up at 3 a.m.? (yeah, um, no.) It all needs to get done, and everything is important.

I don't have the answer--just asking the question. Do you multitask? And if you do, how do you do multitask?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Guest Post: Laura Pauling of the Indelibles

I'm so proud to introduce you to my critique partner and friend, Laura Pauling. Laura and I have known each other almost three years--and I've learned so much about writing and the industry from her and with her. We've been on a journey together. And I'm thrilled to be able to share her with you today as she talks about the newest leg of her journey as a writer.
I'm particularly grateful to her for writing a guest post, because I've got deadlines and life taking up my schedule this week. 

I give you Laura Pauling:

I could give you the spiel about the Indelibles. Our mission. Our purpose. I could make it all official like that. But I'm going to fast forward through all that and cut to the chase.

Ooo a fancy website.
Ahh a cool banner.
Hot diggety a bunch of authors.
Woo hoo a fancy schmancy contest to win a Kindle Fire and 25 books.

But strip all that down...
and you have authors supporting authors.

Finding their way in this awesome and scary world of indie and self publishing.

It's part cross promotion.
It's part marketing.
It's sharing resources and knowledge.

"Have you guys used Stumble Upon?"
"Guess what? I'm an instructor at my SCBWI conference for self publishing."
"Man, I've got a wicked headache today."
"Which fonts on my cover do you guys like better?"
"What's coding? HTML anyone?"

It's being a friend.

That's what the Indelibles are all about.

If you haven't heard about the contest, start at the Indelibles blog. Follow the blog hop and piece together the sentence to enter for a Kindle Fire and 25 ebooks from the authors. Most authors are also giving away separate prizes. Pretty simple.
It ends at midnight tonight - Wednesday. And good luck!

On February 14th, we're releasing an anthology of short stories/excerpts told from the point of view of the main hotties in our books. What a great way to sample the authors that participated.

Thanks Kris for inviting me to guest post! It's a privilege.
You are so welcome, Laura! Good luck and I can't wait to read A SPY LIKE ME, for real. (full disclosure, I've seen this story grow for the last year, and I'm so excited to see it come out for all of you to read.)

Follow Laura here:

Laura Pauling writes YA and MG fiction. She lives the cover of suburban mom/author perfectly, from the minivan to the home-baked snickerdoodles, while hiding her secret missions and covert operations. But shh. Don't tell anyone. A Spy Like Me, her YA debut novel, will be released in the spring of 2012. To catch a sneak peek, her short story, The Almost Assassin, will appear in the In His Eyes Anthology on sale February 14th, 2012.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Looking For Rejection?

Last week, my agent tweeted that her blog had been found 64 times by people using the search word "rejection."

Now her blog is an incredible find. It's full of useful information for writers and readers. But, what I want to know is who on Earth is SEARCHING FOR REJECTION? My flip response to her tweet was, "Anyone looking for rejection will probably find it."

And it got me thinking. How many of us look for rejection? How many of us embrace rejection when we get it? How many of us walk away from our dream after one, two, three, twenty rejections? Rejection is a part of life. But so is acceptance, perseverance, and determination.

I once wrote a guest post on Literary Rambles about throwing in the towel, or rather not doing that. It's sort of the same thing, right? If I had given up a year ago, embraced the rejections I'd received, I wouldn't have queried Vickie--who signed me on March 1, 2011. If I give up now, I won't ever publish my fiction.

If you look for rejection, find it, and embrace it--you'll never realize your dream. I watched a special on the Smithsonian Channel on Saturday morning about L. Frank Baum. He went through many incarnations of his dream before hitting gold with the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. He faced rejection many times--but he pushed past it. And over 100 years later, his books still stand up.

Understand that sometimes you need to use your rejections to tweak your writing, but also tweak that dream. Maybe you're writing in the wrong genre, give something different a try. Maybe you're steadfastly pursuing traditional publishing when self-publishing should be your format (L. Frank Baum, by the way, self-published his first book at a time when it wasn't as easy as it is today.) Maybe you're holding out for a "dream" agent who's list is full when you should be querying newer agents hungry for promising talent.

Don't go looking for rejection, but if you find it--use it. Use it to improve your craft and make yourself stronger.

So, are you searching for rejection?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Freelance and Work for Hire

I've blogged about this topic before, but in celebration of my three new books coming out this week (see blog post here) I thought I'd talk a bit about my experiences.

In the summer of 2007, I had decided that my picture book writing wasn't going anywhere. I'd tried my hand at a short narrative about Deval Patrick, the first African American governor of Massachusetts. I loved the idea of nonfiction that came across as a high-interest piece. I sent it off to a few publisher's acquiring nonfiction, but didn't get any bites.

It was then that I came across the submission guidelines for Capstone Press. I didn't have anything to lose, so I send off my resume, my coverletter, and my writing samples. It took while to hear back from them, but eventually I got my first writing assignment. I remember signing the contract and feeling like, "Wow, my first writing contract." Honestly, it was more like "WOWOWOWOWOW."

Actually, here's my post announcing my first contract. I had forgotten, I actually journaled about the process a bit.

Anyway, the first one sort of kicked my butt. The deadlines are tight. The research can be overwhelming. And it's different than writing fiction. But, when deadlines are tight, things get done faster. When you're overwhelmed by research, you know you're on the right track. And different can be good. I always say, "it's good to be able to write to spec." Writing what you're asked to write. Working with an industry editor. Getting a pay check.

Did you hear that last piece? Getting a pay check.

There's a great list of Work-for-Hire FAQs that Vijaya posted on the Verla Kay Blue Board.

I'm currently working on my ninth freelance book, and the first one not for Capstone Press. It's been a very positive experience for me, a great stretch of my writing chops. I still want my fiction to be successful, but work-for-hire has been part of my writing career that I would not change for anything.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My New Books!

It's always so exciting to see my name on the cover of a book! I've got three new nonfiction titles out as of today! Aren't they gorgeous??? All new titles from Capstone Press. And believe me when I say, if anyone is struggling out there with the children's fiction market--freelance work-for-hire is amazing for making you feel like a real, legitimate writer. I would recommend it to anyone.

Click on my "My Books" tab across the top for links and to read more about each book. I haven't got my author copies yet, but I'm hoping today's mail?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year and 2011 in review

This is my 399th post, according to blogger. That feels like a big number. It demonstrates how long I've been at this. ::Fist Bump:: Do I look weird when I do that?


2011 was a great year for me. I signed with a fabulous agent (Vickie Motter of Andrea Hurst Literary Management). I finished two work-for-hire projects with Capstone Press (about ancient Egypt, they'll be out this month, stay tuned). I wrote 20K words in a new (read: NEW) MG fiction project. And my YA novel went out on submission for the first time.

2011 was also a good learning year for me. I learned that signing with an agent and being on submission doesn't necessarily mean a book deal. It IS one more step up the ladder toward publication, but you still have to work hard and bust your butt. At least now I've got a partner in the industry invested in my work. For anyone keeping track, the novel is heading back to the drawing board. I'm working on figuring out a way to make the plot stronger and working on the umpteeth revision. Shannon Messenger's recent blog post gave me great inspiration as I contemplate revisions. Again.

Total side note: For anyone interested in querying Vickie. DO IT! She's amazing--her comments are spot on, and she has undying enthusiasm. Make sure you follow her guidelines, though, and query what she's looking for.

I'm looking forward to 2012. I'm most excited about finishing my middle grade, getting back in the saddle with the YA. AND, the 2012 NESCBWI conference in April. Guess what? I'm meeting my agent this year--We are appearing on a panel together with superstars Kate Messner and her agent Jennifer Laughran; and Christine Brodien Jones and her agent Stephen Fraser. I'm also the Special Interest Group coordinator (and local readers, I'm still looking for a handful of moderators for SIGs--basically roundtable discussions) AND I'm the Submission Strategy Consultations Coordinator being facilitated by Harold Underdown and Lionel Bender, link here to read more.

Cheers to 2012!