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! 🙂

Quick Hi + Scary Story Contest Winners

I just returned from a great weekend in Columbus, Ohio, where I not only got to meet five Write-Brainiacs IRL (who I’d never met IRL before) but I also got to meet and hang with a few other really cool folks who were attending World Fantasy Con—some of whom I “knew” from Twitter and some of whom I didn’t.  Plus, there were a ton of agents and authors I’ve interviewed and/or stalked researched, so it pretty much awesome.

Me with Laura Atchison and Brittany Roshelle

Simon C. Larter, Sara McClung, and Carol Valdez Miller

Gina Penney and me

Carol and me with Karen Hooper

An exhausting, but all-around faboo, weekend.  I’m always so sad when these writerly functions come to an end and it’s back to the real world!


I’d like to show a little love for WB member and woman-of-awesome Candace Ganger, who is running another contest—I Heart Joy like BR80—over on her blog, The Misadventures in Candyland.

Check it out here.


On the way up to the buckeye state, my husband and I were entertained by the “Scare Me in 1,000 Words or Less” entries, and we have the winners:

First prize—a book + DVD combo of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein . . . and Kenneth Branagh’s mutant of a movie adaptation of the same name—goes to . . .

E. Cluff Elliott


“Death Wheels”

Shoot me an e-mail with your snail mail addy, Cluffer, and I’ll send out your swag this week!

Second prize—a 10-page critique from me—goes to . . .

Andi Newton


“What Doesn’t Make Us Stronger”

E-mail me and we can chat about it, Andi.

Congrats, guys!  All the entries were good—so hard to choose!—but in the end, I went with the most classically suspenseful and classically scary.

OKAY . . .

Well, since I am making a big push to complete my second manuscript this month for NaNoWraMo (National Novel Wrap-up Month), I’m off in search of a couple thousand words!

Good luck to NaNoWriMo and WraMo folks galore!

Pointers from the Pros: Killer Nashville Roundup

Pointers from the Pros” gives tips from authors and publishing industry professionals on everything from craft to querying to their experiences on the road to publication.  This post is by guest columnist and WB member Gina Penney.

The weekend of Aug. 20, I was bound for Tennessee to attend the Killer Nashville Literary Conference, which brought together numerous writers, agents, publishers and author Jeffrey Deaver for a weekend of mystery, true crime and thrillers.

The classes were mystery themed and extremely informative.  I had the privilege of attending “Serial Killers and other Serial Offenders,” headed by a panel of four published authors: Richard Helms, Rick Reed, Nelda Copas and Carolina Bertrand.

What I learned from the best:

  • Describe, explain and predict behavior.  These three things are key not only in tracking down potential suspects in crime, but also in writing characters.  In order to write your characters, you have to really know them.
  • Experience can come from anywhere.  You don’t need to be a professional to have the ability to pen a fantastic crime story.  A passion for detail and a strong plot is a good way to start.
  • Research, research, research.  Can this really be said enough?  Not in mystery writing.

Also, I was fortunate enough to attend a breakout session with a panel of agents, including Jill Marr with the Sandra Dijkstra Agency, Cari Foulk from Tribe and Jeff Gerecke with the Gina Maccoby Agency.




Here is what the agents had to say at the informal Q & A session:

  • They want us to submit and succeed.  They’re on our side and rooting for us.  They don’t make money unless we do.  And if an agent asks for money, we should run screaming. 


  • A well-written query letter could mean life or death in how you represent yourself.  Jill Marr mentioned a very catchy one with the opening line: “There just isn’t enough room in the trunk for a spare tire and a dead body.”  Makes you want to read more, doesn’t it?
  • Agents are not only agents—but editors too.  Your work should be in tip-top shape when it reaches them, but remember that sometimes changes are suggested. 


  • Keep in touch with your agent.  Jeff Gerecke said that, if he hasn’t heard from a writer in a year, he’ll stop submitting their work.  It’s a team effort!

Jeffrey Deaver was this year’s guest of honor, and he spoke at great length about his methods of writing as well as the future of the publishing world:

  • In order to be a successful writer, you have to be a professional.  Writing is a business.  It isn’t an easy task to write a book a year; but with dedication and hard work, it can be done—and done well.  Treat it like a job instead of just a hobby, and it could turn into something you end up doing full time.

  • There is a reason no one buys liver flavored toothpaste.  When writing, ask yourself, are you writing liver-flavored toothpaste or mint-flavored toothpaste?  What helps him create mint-flavored toothpaste is outlining his story heavily (on average, about eight months and 150 pages).  This can help you keep your story on track and prevent it from becoming liver flavored.

In summation, Deaver credited his fascination with his stories to his ability to keep the reader asking: “What’s going to happen next?”  We don’t read stories to get to the middle—we read them to get to the end.

Gina Penney is a formatter by day.  By night, she writes freelance projects, blogs and manages the Cincinnati Scribblers.  She is currently at work on her second novel.  Visit her Web site or follow her on Twitter.