Rock Star Advances & Secret Splurges

I didn’t mean “secret splurges” like that—ew!  You should be ashamed of yourself!


Last weekend, two my favorite writing pals, Sara Mclizzl (there—are you happy?  Even though McClinginstein is MUCH better!) and Cristin Terrizzl, came over to my place for a few days of writing fun—and since the Virginia Festival of the Book was closer to my house than it was to theirs.

And so Sara wouldn’t be alone in case she wore two different boots to dinnerBut I digress.

Aw, yeah.

One of the things we talked about—outside of The Hunger Games movie and whom to query and what to put in our crepes (thanks, C!) was what we’d splurge on if we became rock star authors with rock star advances.

Cristin was the most passionate about this. She has obviously known for a long time, as she says that white socks, right out of the

package, are the best things ever.  So she’d splurge on socks—she’d buy packages

and packages of white socks (Hanes, I believe? I’m not sure that mattered) and she’d wear them only once.*

Sara . . . well, I’m not sure if Sara came up with anything.  But perhaps she’d splurge on the purple fountain pens she already buys in bulk.  Maybe she’d only write with those—and maybe only once, before she’d toss each one over her shoulder because she’d be so badass. And children would scramble in her wake just to pick them up and run home with them.  “Look what I found, Mom! One of Sara McClinginstein’s purple fountain pens!”

And, I . . . well, I don’t know.  I’m kind of boring.  I didn’t come up with anything at the time, but maybe I’d keep a special pantry permanently stocked with my favorite flavored coffee—banana nut bread.

Or I’d buy medicated ChapStick by the drawerful, so whenever Molly ran off with one and ate it under the bed (Molly’s a dog, folks), I’d have another one on deck.

That's how I roll, baby.

Meh. Those both sound pretty lame.  Perhaps I’m not cut out for secret splurges after all!  (Stop it!)

What’s the craziest thing you’ve heard people splurging on?  And what would you buy if you got a rock star book deal?

*This is in the land of make-believe.  At least I think. 🙂

Me, for the Win

I announced this shortly after it happened, but one of favorite writing friends, Cambria Dillon, landed herself an agent a few weeks ago—Vickie Motter of Andrea Hurst Literary Agency.  To celebrate, she’s hosting a week-long contest on her bloggity blog, and I am one of the prizes!

Well, you can’t win ME, per se, but you *can* win a 5-page critique from me, and I promise to put so much coffee, coffee, and coffee into it (I bleed and sweat coffee, so none of this blood, sweat, and tears business!), you’ll feel as if you’ve won a five-page dose of me.

Today’s winner will also win a copy of Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott.

Sound good?  To win, pop on over to this post and check out the little interview Cam did with me as well as the contest directions—it’s easy peasy.  One criterion is to be a follower of this blog, so before you go, subscribe via e-mail or RSS, if you don’t already—and pat yourself on the back for being so efficient!

You have until 10 p.m. EST tonight to win, so hurry up, buddypants!!

Great Weekend: SCBWI/WB Fun & My Beagle Becomes Famous

I spent the weekend up in Maryland, at SCBWI MD/DE/WV’s “Spring into Action” conference with some of my Write-Brained Network palsy-walsies: Alison Miller, Cambria Dillon, Cristin Terrill, and Sara McClinginsteinOkay, okay—that’s not her last name. But it should be!

(Also: SCBWI = Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators <—That was for my husband who just asked me what that acronym stood for—and for you, if you didn’t know either.)

A fantastic time was had by all; I’m so lucky to have such awesome writing friends!  We laughed. We talked A LOT.  Like, probably more than anyone has ever talked. We created our own pasta.  We said, “That’s what she said” more than Steve Carell.

Macaroni Grill -- huzzah!


And we attended some great sessions featuring heavy-hitters like Rosemary Stimola (if you just said, “Wowzers—I think that’s Suzanne Collins’s agent,” YOU ARE CORRECT, SIR!) and the Newbury Award winning Kathi Appelt.  (I’ll be posting session recaps soon!)

Now, my juices are flowing (that’s what she said?).  I came home pumped and rejuvenated—and freaking tired, but I plan to lasso some zees shortly.  I can’t wait to beat out (TWSS) that shiny new idea that’s been swirling around in my brain for the past few weeks!

Also, here’s something awesome: I sent in some pictures of my beagle, Molly, for a contest on Confessions from Suite 500 that Nancy Coffey Literary agent Joanna Volpe’s Chihuahua, PeeWee, was holding, and he posted them!  Molly and I were muy excited—Molly strutted around the house all night, like the regal beagle she is.  Check it out!

So, how was YOUR weekend?




In the Blogosphere: 2/28-3/11

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m making one of my resolutions to be better with these blogosphere posts.  *Well, I’m trying, but I’ve been reallllllly busy!* I’ve saved a lot of great stuff, though, and it’s all definitely worth a read.


Here on Pub Rants, Kristen Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency shows you four easy steps for a “killer” opening—or, four things that will KILL your opening.

Does writing in the young adult genre appeal to you?  Or, are you already doing it but are unsure if you’re doing it well?  Mary Kole of Andrea Brown Lit pimps Regina L. Brooks’s book, Writing Great Books for Young Adults.


I’ve done a “Straight Dope” post on this, but don’t take it from me—take it from the Grammar Girl herself: Mignon Fogarty talks the capitalization of proper nouns.

Here, YA Highway’s Amanda Hannah helps you strengthen those sentences, simile-and-metaphor style.

Feeling tense?  Claire King is feeling first person present tense—and she makes a case for when and where (and why) it’s appropriate.

After checking out what Kristen Nelson says NOT to do in your beginning chapters, New York Times bestselling author (Across the Universe) Beth Revis spills on what TO do in order to hook readers in your first chapter in this post on the League of Extraordinary Writers.

Here, Gabriela Pereira of DIY MFA gives some concrete tips and exercises to create concrete characters.


Are you a Type A writer?  In this post, author Jody Hedlund suggests that, if you devise and stick to a writing plan, you’re likely to be a more successful writer.

End-of-winter sluggishness contributing to your writer’s block?  Here, horror writer of awesome Zoe C. Courtman offers tips on how to sweat through the blockage!


And while we’re on the subject of writing regularly and successfully, organization is key to clearing out distractions.  Incarnate author and ferret aficionado Jodi Meadows agrees in this post, where she shares her secret for keeping her inbox organized.

Where is all the time for writing?  It’s hard to come by, says D4EO agent Mandy Hubbard, but that’s no excuse.  She says you must find the time—and she does it with Debbie Ridpath Ohi cartoons!

I’m looking forward to seeing some writer friends at SCBWI this weekend—can’t wait to tell you all about it!

How about you?  Anything fun this weekend?

Awards from Your Besties #WINNING (Or: I Can Haz Award)

You know those days/weeks/months where you need a little pick-me-up?  Well, I got one the other day when my Twitter soulmate, up-and-coming YA author—yes, I said author—she just landed Andrea Hurst agent Vickie Motter (congrats again!)—Cambria Dillon bestowed this “Stylish Blogger Award” upon me.

Here ’tis:

Aw shucks, C! 🙂  Thanks so much!!

Here's Cambria & me at RWA '10. FUN!

Part of the deal is that I have to list seven things about myself—and follow these rules:

1: Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award. (check!)

2: Share seven things about yourself. (getting there!!)3: Award ten recently discovered great bloggers (*thinking*)
4: Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award. (I always feel lame telling people this . . . so I probably won’t.  Sorry!)


  • When I was in high school and in college, I wanted to be a soap opera actress.  On General Hospital, to be exact.  Hence the name of this blog and hence part of the plot of my first manuscript (that may or may not see the light of day—it’s currently in a drawer—well, not an *actual* drawer.  It’s in a folder on my computer.)
  • My favorite number is 8.  Always has been. No idea why.
  • I have a problem: I think I am addicted to the color purple.  I don’t mean the book—although that’s not too shabby.  I mean as in I can name five things in my immediate line of vision that are purple.  (Way more than than if you count the purple pens in my pen cup!)  And that’s just sitting at my desk.
  • I *definitely* am addicted to caffeine.  Because all the writer friends I know—or people who think they drink a lot of coffee—always look at me like I’m crazy.  I mean, two cups of coffee a day and you think you’re addicted?  Honey, please. But I’m trying to cut back a little because I feel like it’s been giving me chest pains lately.
  • See that “I Can Haz Award” thing in the title?  I know I’m a YA author and Internet-savvy and whatever, but . . . I really hate that.  And “Internets.” And I know a lot of my bloggy friends talk this way, so I’m really sorry—but it’s just one of those things that makes me want to rip my eyes out.  Or yours. 🙂
  • I write YA and I’m not ashamed. And, if you’re even reading this far down into the list, that means you probably already know that about me.  But I’m just saying.  I have felt lately like I have to defend myself—and my career choice—to a lot of people.  Even if I’ve only been defending it to them in my head.  And maybe it’s just my own insecurities getting the best of me (probably).  But sometimes I feel like I have to apologize for what I do—or hide it—or downplay it (I do A LOT of this)—and I’m kind of . . . tired of feeling that way.
  • I have tiger’s blood in my veins.  OK—that one’s not true.  But, as I said, this IS harder than it seems.

I’d like to pass this award on to the following fantastic bloggers:

Check ’em out!  These are some of my favorite writing peeps, and they might become yours, too! 🙂

If You Missed the WB Live Chat on Research . . .

Feb. 22, the Write-Brained Network hosted its February live chat.  The topic?  Research in Fiction—What’s Your Process?

The gist . . .

We started by discussing the different methods people use when they need to do research.  We brainstormed a quick list of ways to do research and came up with reading stuff and interviewing pros or specialists. Nothing too groundbreaking there, no?

Then, we talked about the ways in which we go about incorporating research.  Because everyone’s process is different, it was interesting to compare notes.  Some Write-Brainiacs need to have their whole plot frame up before they even attempt doing any research. Others begin writing and leave themselves notes in terms of where they need some research beefing (in other words, get the story down and THEN worry about the nitty gritty). Others still can’t move on to the next sentence if they haven’t done their homework.


After that, we talked about where people go to get the necessary info:

  • Google.  We agreed that with the Internet, there isn’t really much excuse for getting something wrong these days.  A good, old-fashioned Internet (or library) search can mean all the difference in a lot of cases, so it’s a good thing that’s pretty accessible to pretty much everyone.
  • ProfNet.  I hadn’t heard of this one, but it definitely sounds like it’s worth checking out.  Through PR Newswire, ProfNet is a free database where one can search for info—or (and this is where I was really sold) ask a specific question that one of their 30,000 professionals will answer.  And they’ve got pros in a ton of areas!
  • Google Maps. We got into a little discussion about research and setting—i.e., do you have to have visited the place you’re writing about (if it’s not a fictitious world you’ve created).  Of course, if you’re looking for concrete details, it’s probably better if you’ve been there or at least talked to someone who has been.  However, if you are simply looking for distances of locations, Google Maps is a great tool.

  • Lydia Kang’s Medical Mondays.  For medical research, I pointed to a blog I follow—The Word is My Oyster—by doctor/writer/blogger Lydia Kang.  She has a series she does every where she takes some kind of medical condition and explains it thoroughly for writers looking to incorporate things about it into their work.  If she hasn’t already done a Medical Monday on a subject of your choice, you can write in and she’ll answer your questions in a subsequent post.  For example, today’s question is: “If someone died and was buried in a shallow grave in New England (about an hour northwest of Boston) for nine years, would only a skeleton and clothing be left behind? Or would hair, skin or anything else be left?” Find out the answer here.
  • CSI stuff. We also talked about a few books out there that cops and other investigative types have written—some specifically *for* writers to answer their questions about police procedure where crimes are concerned, etc.  For a while, a few of us thought we were talking about the same book only to find out we were talking about a couple of different books, but in the midst of that convo, someone metioned the Crime Scene Investigator Network Newsletter (which is exactly what it sounds like).

I know this is NCIS, but I just really hate CSI.


After all that, we discussed how (and where) to keep everything straight, and, quite frankly, we talked about Scrivener so much they should be endorsing us. 🙂  But some other Scrivener-esque programs out there were mentions as well—two being Evernote and My Novel.

I haven’t tried any of these, but with the glowing reviews from other Write-Brainiacs, I can’t wait to play around with them soon, as I embark on manuscript #3!

All in all, it was an enjoyable hour (two hours for some of us who stuck around after the allotted time!).  I always have a great time chatting live with other WBers.

Want in?  Join us March 22 from 9-10 p.m. EST for our next WB Live Chat!  Topic: Plotters & Pantsers.

Gone But Not Forgotten TV Shows

I joined a blog fest over at Something Else to Distract Me today, and the topic is gone but not forgotten TV shows.  We’re supposed to list our top five shows that are no longer making new episodes.

This is tough!

#5—Dark Angel

Although I get my Michael Weatherly fix on a fairly regular basis on NCIS, I still miss me some Logan Cale action.  Jessica Alba and Weatherly were a match made in Manticore, and I was so sad at how the series ended—so lame, and so much left unresolved.

#4—The O.C.

As bizarro as season four got, I miss all the Seth Cohenisms.  And although there are O.C.—like shows out there, they’re nothing but sad imitations in my eyes.  It’s nice to see some of the actors pop up from time to time—Benjamin McKenzie is on a show that no one watches, Alex pops up on House reruns (Is she still on it? I’m behind on House), and Summer’s dad is on NCIS from time to time as well as All My Children, which I don’t watch—it’s not enough!


One of the best-written shows ever.  That is all.

#2—The Cosby Show

Bill Cosby just makes me smile.  And no matter how many times people on Twitter try to say he’s dead, Heathcliff Huxtable will always be alive in my heart.

#1—Space Ghost Coast to Coast

This one really stings because they’ve been pretty stingy on the DVD releases as well.

You’re welcome:

Write-Brained Network Workshop: Registration Now Open

Sorry I missed posting so far this week—the Write-Brained Network has been keeping me super busy.

Mark your calendars for 9/10/11, kids, because the WB Workshop is on like Donkey Kong!

For only $45, spend the day learning tips from writing and publishing industry pros and mix & mingle with other writers at the Court Square Theater in Harrisonburg, Va. Registration is now open.

(Forgive the pimpage, but I’m pretty psyched that this is all actually happening!)

We have some fantastic speakers lined up—more on that later—and a fantab-looking program. For more info, visit our landing site, where I’ve posted the schedule as well as our current list of speakers.

If you have any questions, please contact me through the WB or via e-mail.

That’s all for now—hope everyone’s having a great week! 🙂

In the Blogosphere: 2/12-2/25

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m making one of my resolutions to be better with these blogosphere posts.  *Well, I’m trying, but I’ve been reallllllly busy!* I’ve saved a lot of great stuff, though, and it’s all definitely worth a read.


At RWA nationals in 2010, I attended a fantabulous session with agents of awesome Holly Root and Barbara Poelle, Pocket Books senior editor Abby Zidle, and author Jenny Gardiner, where they reenacted what happens in an acquisitions editorial meeting.  SO eye-opening! Along those same lines, WordServe Literary’s Rachelle Gardner recreates a pub committee meeting here.

Is there such a thing as a fictional memoir?  The Query Shark herself, FinePrint Literary’s Janet Reid answers that question.


Over at Writer Unboxed, Writer’s Digest and the University of Cincinnati’s Jane Friedman gives tips about using Facebook as a marketing tool—without becoming a nuisance.

And, here, author Jody Hedlund offers seven ways you can market your book—gasp!without the Internet.


Here, my favorite Scotsman, Simon C. Larter, says action through dialogue is where it’s at!  And he also calls Shakespeare “Billy Shakes,” which is one of the reasons we’re be-fris.  🙂

But how does one write good dialogue, you ask?  Former agent turned author Nathan Bransford tells you here.

Also, I absolutely love the Sentence Strengthening series on YA HighwayHere’s one on how to more effectively use adjectives and adverbs (or not use them, as the case sometimes is).

Want more strength in your writing?  On Write Anything, Annie Evett lists some weak words to “bin” in her series on self-editing tips.

And here is a fantastic, comprehensive resource with that lists tropes (common storytelling devices or conventions) for . . . just about everything.  You could seriously spend months playing around in there!


Need to send a press releaseAngus Shaw over at The Blog Herald tells you how.

And here, agent Natalie Fischer gives some advice on how to avoid making common mistakes in your manuscript.


We’ve all experienced it—perhaps you’re even going through it right now:  The CraziesHere, author Ally Carter talks about The Crazies—what they are, what not to do when you have them, and how to combat them.

I’m sure some of us have learned this the hard way: Taylor Mali’s The The Impotence of Proofreading. Enjoy.

Happy weekend, everyone!  🙂