Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fast Drafting over at YA Misfits!

Hi, sweet readers!

I haven't been posting too much at all, which I hate, but it's for a reason I LOVE - I've spent the month Fast Drafting!

I'm posting all about it, long-form, at YA Misfits today - including whether I'm succeeding! Some come check it out. But over here, a few things I've learned about Fast Drafting, in pictures:

30/365 by Leigh Ann Kopans (the Littlest Birds Photography), via Flickr
It is hard work.

It's a little insane.

It can get very messy.

And it's totally worth it. 

Come read about the Whys and the Hows at length over at YA Misfits, and have an awesome Wednesday! *Smooch*

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Author Trisha Leigh and BETRAYALS IN SPRING!!!

Hi, sweet readers!!!

I'm so super excited about today's post, because it's an interview with one of my favorite authors!!

Here's what happened: I came across Trisha Leigh's WHISPERS IN AUTUMN this past summer when I was browsing for some books to read. The cover was absolutely stunning, and when I read the description I was hooked. Basically, it's a dystopian with aliens who subdue humans via mind control (!) but the main character isn't affected. Awesome.

Whispers in Autumn (The Last Year, #1)Winter Omens (The Last Year, #2)Betrayals in Spring (The Last Year, #3)'
(Tell me these covers aren't like the most gorgeous things you've ever seen. Go on.)

Anyway, I read WHISPERS IN AUTUMN and WINTER OMENS, all the while freaking out on Twitter like a crazy good fangirl does, and either Trisha was so scared of me or enamored of me that she let me read BETRAYALS IN SPRING before it was published!!!!!!!!

I know. I'm freaking out too. Obviously.

And even more exciting, the amazing author agreed to do an interview right here to celebrate the launch of SPRING. (Freaking. Out.)

So without further ado, here she is! Enjoy!

Q: Trisha, thank you SO MUCH for coming over. First, I'll ask what all my readers really want to hear: Can you tell us a little bit about The Last Year series?

A: Sure! The Last Year is a four part, post-apocalyptic series that begins about eighteen years after a race of aliens has conquered earth through mind control. The books are about four kids who aren’t what they seem, but might be able to find a way to save humanity from a future of slavery and annihilation. The stories are told from the first person perspective of Althea, and along with her we learn about the world, the Others, love, friendship, and the truth in all of those things.

Q: Oooh, gorgeous. Does it have a playlist to go with it? Tell us the Top 5 songs?

A: I’m that rare weirdo writer who doesn’t listen to music while she writes, BUT I do have several songs that go with certain scenes or books. The five most important (to me) would be: I’ll Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab For Cutie, Belief by Gavin DeGraw, Wild Hope by Mandy Moore, Turn to Stone by Ingrid Michaelson, and Possibilities by Freddie Stroma. There are more. I could probably make an entire playlist for my central couple (no spoilers!), but maybe another time.

Q: I don’t think most people realize just how much work goes into making a beautiful book. Can you give us a quick rundown of your process, first draft to publication?

A: I’d love to. First, I worked with a cover designer to get her going with a summary and concept. I got lucky and only had to do this once, instead of four times, since my cover designer came up with a concept that wouldn’t change much for each new installment. Then, while she works on a cover, I write the first draft (typically a 4-6 week affair, for me). I send the first draft to my developmental editor, then she returns it and I do a (usually daunting) first revision, along with a couple more read throughs for tweaking. Then it goes for line edits, and back to me again for input. Then copy edits, then three proofreaders. Once I’m finished proofreading, I format the print book myself and send the manuscript our for e-book formatting, upload it all, check proof copies, and viola!

It’s a lot when I write it in a paragraph like that. Also in real life. But quality is the most important thing, as far as I’m concerned.

Q: What are the best and worst things about being a debut author?

A: The best is definitely sharing my stories, having readers connect with the characters, and being able to interact online. It’s gratifying and unbelievable. As far as a worst, maybe just the pressure of putting out new work and hoping it’s not a disappointment to the people who have come to love the stories as much as I do. I might have more anxiety than I did a year ago, but the good makes up for all of it.

Q: What’s the biggest thing that keeps you going? Reviews? Chocolate? The Vampire Diaries?

A: HA. Actually, I gave up on The Vampire Diaries last season! Mostly coffee, Hershey’s Kisses, coffee, and most importantly, a fabulous and unwavering support network made up of critique partners, writing friends, non-writing friends, and family. I’d be completely insane without them.

Q: Oh, the support network is KING. For sure. In that vein, what’s the greatest lesson living in the writing life has taught you?

A: To be tough. To believe in your work enough to want to clearly see the flaws in it so that you can erase them as well as possible. And also to support other authors, at every stage, so that they can find their way to that toughness as well.

Q: Can you please give us some book recommendations? Our TBR piles are empty (ahahahahah).

A: DARK INSIDE by Jeyn Roberts, IF I STAY and WHERE SHE WENT by Gayle Foreman. HERE by Denise Grover Swank. SWEETHEARTS by Sara Zarr. THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH trilogy by Carrie Ryan. SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo. I could go on, but those are the favorites that come to mind.

Q: Favorite Wintertime drink?

A: Hmm. Salted Carmel Mocha, hot spiced wine, and peppermint tea.

Q: X-Men or Avengers?

A: GAH. I know I’m going to answer wrong, Leigh Ann. I’m not a comic book reader (though I have recently started reading FABLES), so my only point of reference is the movies. So based on those alone, I choose Avengers. Because…Joss Whedon. And Thor.

You did answer wrong, but I still love you. 

(Isn't she awesome, you guys???)

To celebrate the release of BETRAYALS IN SPRING, which comes out today, I'm doing a giveaway of all three books in the series to one lucky commenter! Wheeee!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Importance of a LOVING Writing Community

Hi, sweet readers.

I've missed you guys SO MUCH. And I really have a kajillion blog posts started, and I'm hoping that I can finally ease back in to blogging a little more soon. Especially because my second writerversary  is coming up, and I want to recap. #EgoClub

But, BRIEFLY, the past couple weeks have reminded me of the importance of having a loving and supportive writing community. My sweet and brilliant friends Kelsey and Andrea wrote posts about that here (click here) and here (click here,) and you should read those.

A few months ago, my friend Darci and I vlogged about that very topic. And today, she interviewed me (along with copious Jeremy Renner gifs) on her Arizona writer's blog! So, if you're so inclined, go say "hi" to us over there, and then hang out with us for a few minutes here:

Do you  have a loving and supportive writing community? If  you do, tell me about it. If you don't, what's stopping you? 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

EVER by Jessa Russo blog tour and GIVEAWAY!!!

Hey, sweet readers!

This is a super exciting day for me because I get to host the amazing Jessa Russo for an EVER blog tour showcase!!!

There's Jessa! Just as gorgeous as her book.

EVER opens up with the haunting memory of a car crash, and I felt for poor Ever right away. The way Jessa describes Frankie's ghost and his presence in Ever's day-to-day life is, well, haunting.

Jessa's writing is beautiful, and I want one of my lucky readers to have a chance to read EVER too. So I'm giving away a Kindle copy to one lucky commenter this Friday, November 9th!!!

Here's the blurb from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Ever’s love life has been on hold for the past two years. She’s secretly in love with her best friend Frankie, and he’s completely oblivious.

Of course, it doesn't help that he’s dead, and waking up to his ghost every day has made moving on nearly impossible.

Frustrated and desperate for something real, Ever finds herself falling for her hot new neighbor Toby. His relaxed confidence is irresistible, and not just Ever knows it. But falling for Toby comes with a price that throws Ever’s life into a whirlwind of chaos and drama. More than hearts are on the line, and more than Ever will suffer.

Some girls lose their hearts to love.

Some girls lose their minds.

Ever Van Ruysdael could lose her soul.



Have YOU read EVER?  Tell us how much you loved it in the comments, or sign up to WIN an e-copy!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Plea to Keep NaNoWriMo Discouragement-Free

It's National Novel Writing Month!!!! Wheeeee!

I'm super bummed that I'm not doing it. I know. I'm a party pooper. But this is the second year in a row it just doesn't fall in the right month - I have 16k to go on my WiP, then I need to do a first pass edit, and then I'm outlining Two. (I KNOW!!!! I can hardly believe it either.) So, not exactly drafting weather over at my writer's desk. Such a bummer. Maybe next year.

That doesn't mean that I haven't seen all the discussion of NaNoWriMo happening on Twitter. For the most part, it's super inspirational - people encouraging one another, inviting others to be 'friends' with them on the NaNo site, being interested in concepts, and all kinds of general writer cheeriness and support. So cool.

As November approached, however, I started to see more and more writers and agents giving "advice" about NaNoWriMo that, in my opinion, only added up to so much discouragement. 

"The words probably won't be any good,"

 "You'll have to cut most of the words you wrote anyway,"

 "Drafts can't be rushed," 

"If you really wanted to write a novel you wouldn't wait till November to do it," 

"You're not an exception to the rule. Most people aren't that lucky or talented or disciplined."

My one overwhelming reaction to all of this? Sadness. And then a little bit of anger. Because, seriously - WTF, you guys?

So I started chatting with a bunch of my writer friends about their experiences with NaNo, since I haven't everdone it - and even if I had, my experience wouldn't be The Experience By Which We Measure All NaNo Experiences, right? Right.

So, here's what they said:

NaNo is a learning experience. It teaches you discipline, the importance of momentum, and that you CAN write a substantial amount every day. Hopefully, it also teaches you what planning you need as a writer in order to crank out a decent first draft. (Whether it's as little as drawing a map of a submarine and naming a rock band, or as extensive as a 20-page outline.) 

NaNo is a motivational experience. There's something incredible about being one huge team of writers who all have the same basic goal. The support and camaraderie is just amazing. Also, meeting that fifty thousand word goal can be encouragement enough for writers to not procrastinate - for some of us, that's gold.

NaNo encourages you to write with abandon. Often, the worry over Doing Things Right hinders the creative process. The goal of getting 1700 words on a page every day makes us forget everything that holds us back so we can let the words pour out. 

Lastly, for everyone reminding us that our NaNo novels need to be edited - that's totally true. And it's also true of any other draft that anyone has ever written, whether it took them a month or a year to get the words down. Some people write faster than others. I know from experience that I can crank out 5-6k on an uninterrupted day, and the majority of those words are merely tweaked in edits - not axed, not drastically changed. There have been weeks at a time that I've done a steady 1.5k a day while working full time and mothering four kids without breaking a sweat. 

So it is possible. Really. REALLY. My CP Andrea Hannah says that she wrote the novel that got her signed with her incredible agent during NaNo, and it only went through one quick revision before she sent it out. Those were good words, legitimate words. 

Just because a novel was written during NaNoWriMo does not mean that it's a load of crap words, she said. It means that the writer buckled down every day and made writing a priority. And that's something incredible. We shouldn't discount that and make assumptions about the quality of the work that comes from that.

And, last, to those of you posting your discouragement: I know you might think it's altruistic. You've experienced it, you have some advice to give, right? 

Well, if you feel the need to "caution" people, can I just ask...why? These writers are excited. They feel ready. They're going to write fifty thousand words this month, or they're going to try their hardest. They're not hurting anyone. 

If they annoy you, unfollow them for the month. If you disagree with their blog post, you don't have to comment. If you are an agent and you don't want to see their query in December, close to queries then. Or make your intern sift through the ones that obviously suck, like you would any other time of year.

You may be right. Their fifty thousand words might be crap.


If they are, the world won't stop. Take a deep breath. Remember a time when you were that excited about writing. Wasn't that magic? How would you have felt if someone had brought their "warnings" to your magic writing parade of excitement? That's what I thought.

 Please, don't ruin it for anyone else. 

And maybe, just maybe, stop to think - What if that novel that is about to spill out of their thoughts and into their word processors *is* good stuff? What if it's the book that gets them signed with an agent (like at least three of my CPs?) What if it's the next Crewel, or The Night Circus, or White Cat, or Losing Faith, or Cinder, or Water for Elephants

Because it just might be. And if I found out that anyone discouraged any of those authors from tackling NaNoWriMo because their words probably would suck? I'd be MIGHTY angry.

So, to all you NaNo discouragers, haters, and party-wreckers, please, for the love of excitement and creativity and Writing Magic everywhere, back off. 

And to each and every one of you potential special snowflakes tackling NaNoWriMo - write on, my sweeties. Good luck writing, good luck editing, good luck on your paths to publication.  Support each other. 

You are brave, and you are awesome. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

PitchLive! Agent Round - It's ON!!!!

Welcome to the agent round of Pitch Live!!!!!!
(And welcome, illustrious agents, to my blog - here you will find the scrappy, hilarious, skivvy-slinging, passionate, and many-accented members of #TeamLA. Hope you're ready to read lots of subs!)

Thank you so much, Brenda, for asking me to host - it's been So MUCH FUN!!!!

 The following entries have made it through the first round and are in the ten posts after this one.

 Please no comments other than those from agents.

 If you want to comment on the entries please go to this post here and click on each participants' link. From today, October 17 - Friday, October 19 the agents will hop around and request pages from their favorite pitches. Check out all the agents viewing the pitches on this post here. 

 Submissions: Should you get a request from one of the agents, go to their websites and follow their submission guidelines.
 In your submission, make sure to put this in the subject line: Pitch Live Requested Material: TITLE OF YOUR NOVEL.
 Unless, of course, the agent puts specific instructions in the comments of your posts.

 There are  a total of 30 videos and I'm hosting 10 of them here on my blog. So make sure to visit Brenda and Erica's blogs for the other entries... We had a vote going for the best video during the blogfest part of the contest, so we'll announce the winners now.

 The runners up from the blogfest vote for best video, each receiving a $10 gift card from Amazon are ...Sarah Blair and John Krissilas!!!!

    And the top dog, Grand Poombah of video pitches, panty slinger, elevator riding champ, and the winner of a $25 gift card from Amazon is ... Lauren McKellar!!!!

(No coincidence that two of those winners are on #TeamLA, NBD.)

Winners please send an email to to claim your prize. Keep scrolling for the video pitches...

Pitch Live! - L-1 - IT'S COOP NOT CUPID

Title: IT'S COOP NOT CUPID Genre: YA Myth Retelling Word Count: 60,000


Title: THE SHIFTING DARKNESS Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy/Thriller Word Count: 67K

Pitch Live! - L-3 - KISSING FROGS

Title: KISSING FROGS Genre: YA Contemporary Word Count: 61,000


Pitch Live: Against the Falling Moons, YA light Sci-Fi romance, word count: 95,000

Pitch Live! - L-5 - FORGET-ME-NOT

Title: Forget-me-not Genre: YA Science Fiction Word Count: 77,000

Pitch Live! - L-6 - VEILED

Title: VEILED Genre: YA Science Fiction Word Count: 87,000

Pitch Live! - L-7 - LOSING IT

Title: LOSING IT Genre: YA Contemporary Word Count: 58,000

Pitch Live - L-8 - ACE OF SHADES

Title: ACE OF SHADES Genre: YA Steampunk Fantasy Word Count: 80,000

Pitch Live! L-9 - Title: JENNIFER STRANGE

Title: JENNIFER STRANGE Genre: YA Paranormal Horror Word Count: 55,000

Pitch Live! L-10 - RIP HER TO SHREDS

Title: RIP HER TO SHREDS Genre: YA contemporary Word count: 80,000

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pitch Liiiiiive!!!!

The sign up part of Pitch Live is now closed. Today starts the blogfest part of the contest. Hop around and view each others videos, comment, and meet new friends. You never know what agents will be lurking around the blogs. On October 17 at 8AM EDT the top 30 videos will be on the host blogs for the agents. Check out our agent line uphere.

The judges/hosts will cruise the blogs and pick their favorite videos. In the comments of the entry posts the judges will let you know if they've chosen your pitch for their blog. 

Make sure to put this heading above your videos... 
Genre: The Genre of your manuscript 
Word Count: The word count of your manuscript (round up or down to the nearest thousandth)

And here's your hosts...

Leigh Ann Kopans         erica m.
 Leigh Ann Kopans                         Erica M. Chapman             Brenda Drake

Go check out the live pitches and come back and vote for your favorite in the comment of this post. We'll give away some prizes (to be announced) for the top ones. 
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Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Next Big Thinggggg

Hey, sweet readers!

My brilliant co-redux-slinging CP, Cait Peterson, is the Next Big Thing, so she tagged me in this meme. (?) (I think that's how it works?)

Anyway, now that I've turned in Solving for Ex, my contemporary YA retelling of Mansfield Park, to Tricia, my awesome agent, I'm diving head first into my next project, which is what this meme is all about. I think you've all heard all of this already, but eh, what the heck?

What is the working title of your book?

Where did the idea for the book come from?
Well, I'm a sucker for theme in a story, as well as conflicted characters.  I spent like five years studying the Bible in grad school and I knew the story of the Exodus from Egypt had both out the wazoo. I thought it would be awesome to retell it for a young adult audience in a completely different setting. (Though there still is a bit of sand.)

What genre does your book fall under?
YA Science Fiction, baby!

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Uhhhhh I don't have any actors, but I have pictures! Beautiful ones.

Here's Havah:
Google Image Result for
(model Carolina Thaler)

And her sister Sarra:
choppy pixie cut

And here's Havah's S.O., Orev:
Alex Cruz – Greg Vaughan – Dailymalemodels 03
(model Alex Cruz. Yum.)

What is the one-sentence synopsis for your book?
Chrome is a futuristic science fiction retelling of the Biblical story of the Exodus from Egypt with robots instead of taskmasters and plagues of mechanical spiders, twisted circuitry, and leaking battery acid. 

Will your book be self-published, or represented by an agency?
My work is represented by Tricia Lawrence at EMLA, who is a ROCK STAR. 

How long did it take you to write a first draft of your manuscript? May we see an intro?
I'm only about 40% of the way through, but all told it'll probably take me about three months.

What other books would you compare this story to within the genre?
Probably CINDER. *grins* A retelling of a classic story with robots. Wheeeee!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The complete and total badassedness of Moses and the whole freaking story. Seriously. Go back and read Exodus 1-15. EPIC.

What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
At the heart of the story is two relationships: a deep and complicated one between sisters, and a devoted, sexy romance. Also: a murderous queen and BATTERY ACID.

Thanks for reading! I hate tagging people in these things, but by all means, if you want to play, consider yourself tagged and link up. 

Everyone wish me happy drafting! Thanks! <3 font="font">

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Banned Books Week! Plus, GIVEAWAYS!

 Hey, sweet readers.

So I know I've been MIA for awhile - going back to work at the busiest time of the year after a new baby while revising a manuscript will do that to you - but this week I have pretty much the best excuse ever to kick my butt back into regular blogging....


I love banned books.

First, I should say I don't believe in banning or in any way censoring books for children. Or anyone, really, but especially for children. (Yes, I'm a mother. Of both boys and girls.) I've blogged about that before here and I'm also talking about it over on my dear friend Andrea's blog today.

Today, I want to tell you a little bit about some books that have shaped me as a reader and a writer. They've all been banned in one library or another.

1984 by Orson Wells and The Giver by Lois Lowry - I read them both in sixth grade, have been a dystopian junkie ever since. Equal parts terrifying and thrilling because LOOK WHAT THE HUMAN SPIRIT CAN ACCOMPLISH, you know?

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - I read this as part of English glass in seventh grade, and I'll never forget Scout and her courage, and the teacher who helped my young brain unpack and analyze its deep themes of racial inequality and fighting for justice.

Forever by Judy Blume - Raise your hand if this book taught you things about sex your parents couldn't stomach telling you. Go ahead. No one can see you.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - Taught me that ideas are the most powerful weapons possible.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle - This book was so important to ten-year-old, pudgy, glasses-wearing, geekiest-kid-in-English-class, so far from the popular-kids'-table-it-could-have-been-a-mirage me. Meg Murry was awkward and misunderstood and angry and brilliant and not only did her brains save the day, but got the boy too. (Calvin - *swoon*)

(Only she could pull off that first line. *sigh*)

Sweet readers, these books are such a huge part of what made me who I am that it actually makes me tear up to think about what my childhood and teen years would have been like without them.

And some of the books that have been banned in libraries, schools, and programs across America since then? I don't want to think about my kids growing up without Harry Potter and The Hunger Games to read.

So. Instead of thinking about that, I decided to do the thing that makes me happiest on Banned Books Week - give away banned books!

I'm so grateful to have a couple good friends helping me out with that:

John Hansen over at Teens Can Write Too has a great list of contemporary banned books AND is hosting a giveaway  of The Perks of Being a Wallflower sponsored by me and my friends the YA Misfits.

Andrea Hannah is interviewing me about my thoughts and feelings on banning books, and hosting a giveaway of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler.

Please run over to their blogs and comment and enter to win! And read a banned book in honor of Banned Books Week! 

And, of course, I want to know - What is your favorite banned book? (A decent list here.)

Pitch On! Pitch Entry - GLOWING SHADOW by Anabel Gonzalez

Hey, sweet readers! Look, another pitch!

I'm so pleased to be a host for Pitch On! It's an opportunity for writers across the internet to pitch an editor. The hosts are critiquing individual pitches on their blogs, and in a couple weeks they'll all go up on Down Under Wonderings or YATopia to be perused by Marisa Pintado of Hardie Grant Edgmont!

Exciting, no?

Time for my brave writer to get her Pitch On!*

Name: Anabel Gonzalez
Country of residence: Mexico
Title: Glowing Shadow
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Word count: 81,000

Pitch: A genius girl with the curse of being an emphat and broadcasting her feelings to everyone finds a bigger curse in Madrid. There she needs to fight along a glowing shadow to rescue her brother and stay alive from the shadows that hunt her, while she convinces him that he deserves to love.

Welcome, Anabel! So glad you landed on my blog. 

 I LOVE the concept of empaths - one of my CPs wrote a whole book about them! Good stuff. 

I would LOVE to know some basic info about your main character - especially her name, since that helps us identify with her right off the bat. 

I'd also love to see a punchier first line. Something like, "Sixteen year old empath Anabel thinks broadcasting her feelings to everyone is the biggest curs possible - untili she gets to Madrid."

I'd also love to get the information that her brother has been abducted/is in danger right up front, since that would give us a sense of conflict and mission right away. 

Also, why are shadows hunting her? Have they always been doing so? Are they only after her now that she wants to rescue her brother? If so, why is he so special? 

I'm also confused as to why her brother's deserving to love is part of the conflict. If you can tie up all those answers in the allotted space, great - otherwise, consider what info you REALLY need to communicate in a pitch to sell the book's concept without being dishonest.

This sounds like such a cool concept! Best of luck!

*Please leave your critiques, comments, and encouragement below! Thanks!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pitch On! Pitch Critique - MAD AS A HATTER

I'm so pleased to be a host for Pitch On! It's an opportunity for writers across the internet to post an editor. The hosts are critiquing individual pitches on their blogs, and in a couple weeks they'll all go up on Down Under Wonderings or YATopia to be perused by Marisa Pintado of Hardie Grant Edgmont!

Exciting, no?

Time for my brave writer to get her Pitch On!*

 Name: Alexandra Hayman 
 Genre: YA Supernatural Thriller 
 Word Count: 51,000 

 Pitch: For fourteen-year-old Emil Aleric, the series of ‘Wonderland Murders’ ravaging London mean only one thing: his former abductor, the Hatter, is back. Seven years ago, the man took Emil to a place called Wonderland, murdered Emil’s sister, and barely missed Emil himself. Emil knows he won’t be able to hide forever—until his best friend is taken by the madman, and Emil’s not sure he wants to. 

 Hey darling!
 I've seen this MS running around the contest circuit, and this writer running around Twitter, and am seriously impressed with both. So excited you landed on my little old blog, dear writer!

 So, this is a compelling pitch. There are just a few things that were unclear or I felt could be cut.
(Re: pitches - In my experience, clarity and economy of words can't be underestimated.)

  First sentence:
I'd love to know what differentiates the Wonderland Murders from any other crime. Give me a sense of the horror.

  Second Sentence:
I think you can cut "a place called Wonderland" in the second sentence, and just tell us that he abducted Emil. That means you can take "his former abductor" out of that first sentence, too! :D

How did the Hatter "barely miss" Emil? Did Emil escape? If he did, that tells us something cool about Emil in a few words - he has tenacity and wit. See if you can replace that "barely missed" with more specific words that also tell us something about story or character.

  Third Sentence: 
I understand what your last sentence is trying to say, but I think we might be able to streamline it with some artful rewording. What about, "Emil knows it's only a matter of time until the Hatter catches him, too - until he decides that he's going to be the one to catch the Hatter?" Just a suggestion. :D

  Lastly: I'd love to see a little extra bit of voice in here - just a little phrase or a word here or there would do. What's something that Emil says when he's mad or frustrated? That might be a great way to squeeze a little voice in there. :D

*Please feel free to comment and critique for Alexandra and her lovely pitch as well!  When you're done, the other hosts and I would love it if you'd run around to their blogs and critique over there, as well! Thanks, sweet readers!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pitch Live! Video Pitch Contest!!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Pitch Live! ... Elevator Pitch Contest/Blogfest

I'm so excited to announce PITCH LIVE! What is it, you ask? It's a video of your best elevator pitch to an agent. I wanted to give you guys enough time to produce a video of an elevator pitch for your finished novels, so I'm posting this now. We already have a couple agents signed up to view the top 30 videos (if we get that many), but there will be more agents. I'll announce the agents in a post soon. The contest is for AdultNew Adult, Young Adult, and Middle Grade fiction. The elevator pitch should be creative, as if you ran into an agent at a conference.

The blogfest...

Sign up on the linky below by October 15 at 8AM EDT. From October 15 to 17 judges will be hopping to each blog to pick the most creative and exciting pitches (content is important, too) that will make it into the agent round. Hop around the blogs and view your fellow competitors' videos, comment, and make friends. Participating in the blogfest is important, because if you don't make the top 30, you could have an agent or editor not participating (or participating) in the contest hop around the blogs offering to read more. It has happened in contests past. 

The contest... 

The top 30 videos will go live on the hosts' blogs onOctober 18. Agents will view and request to read more of their favorites from October 18 to 19.


All videos must be accessible on YouTube and the recommended size of no larger than 854 x 480 (51.79 MB). Please make sure your videos are set to public viewing (not private). The video shall be no more than two minutes in length. No obscene content (I will remove the blog from the linky). Make sure to title it "Pitch Live!". Your posts should have the following heading above the embedded video:

Genre: The Genre of your manuscript 
Word Count: The word count of your manuscript (round up or down to the nearest thousandth)

Remember to include these things in your pitches: Character, Inciting Event, Goals, Obstacles, Conflict, and Stakes. 

Check out this site here for some samples on how to create a video pitch. 

Here's some videos from your hosts for hints on what to put into your pitch (warning: mine is awful, but hopefully it will make you feel better about your own)...

Brenda's gawd-awful video (Can you guess the skyline I didn't know?)... 

Erica Chapman's very informative video...

My video on how to create a video pitch...

Remember you can be as creative as you want, but your pitch must be there and we must see your face. It's about your personality. Good luck! 

So what are you waiting for? Sign up now!

Mister Linky's Magical Widgets
To add your link to the list, enter your name and URL in the form below and press Enter.
Your name:  
Your URL:  
Please leave a comment after linking... Thank you!

Pitch Onnnnnn!

(This post graciously donated word for word by Marieke, also hosting Pitch On!, in my time of most intense dayjob mania. Love you, Marieke.)
Hey sweet readers!
In case you haven’t heard yet, there’s an awesome new contest in the blogosphere: Get Your Pitch On! Hosted by Down Under Wonderings and YAtopia on October 15th, during Get Your Pitch On! Commissioning and Managing Editor of Hardie Grant Egmont, Marisa Pintado, will be poised and ready to take your YA pitches.
Marisa is looking for YA in any genre and is accepting submissions from any where in the world. It’s your chance to skip the slush pile and put your pitch right under the nose of a fantastic editor. There’s even better news – there is no limit on how many requests Marisa will make from the contest.
Here are the rules:
  • Your manuscript must be complete, polished and ready to query – this means no first drafts or almost finished manuscripts.
  • It must be YA.
  • When the contest goes live on October 15th, post your entry details in the comments section of either YAtopia or Down Under Wonderings – each blog is accepting 100 entries only.
  • Your entry detail needs to include a 50 – 70 word pitch.
  • You can enter more than once if you have more than one complete, polished, ready to query manuscript.
Your contest details should be formatted like this:
Name: Sharon Johnston
Email: smjohnston [ @ ]
Country of residence: Australia
Genre: Speculative Fiction
Word-count: 58,000
Pitch: Seventeen-year-old Mishca Richardson is a sleeper soldier with a weak heart. She has no idea that a life saving heart transplant has accidentally triggered her programming. In the search for answers, she discovers the truth and that her creator, Wirth, has classified her remaining “sisters” from her experiment group as defective, scheduling them for termination. Mishca sets out to save them before they’re eliminated.
All a bit daunting? No fear! Dozens of blogs around the ‘sphere will help you whip your pitch into shape. And (surprisingly) I am one of them! Workshops for Get Your Pitch On will start on October 1st*, but you can send your pitches through now to secure your spot with a host blog.
There is no date deadline for the workshops. Each blog has allocated a set number of pitches that they can host and once those spots are full then no more submissions will be taken. I’ll be hosting 10 pitches here on my blog!
Important Rule: If you want to participate in a workshop, you must be pay it forward by commenting on at least one other pitch. Not so difficult, right?
Also! For each critique you leave in the comments, you get an entry in the draw for one of eight 10-page critique from contest host Sharon Johnston and workshop hosts Larissa HardestyStephanie DiazCatherine ScullyJodie AndrefskiPaula SangareTalynn Lynn and Kaitlin Adams. Please use the exact same names for all of your critiques. The opportunity ends October 14. 
How to submit: Email your draft pitch to and include PitchOnWS and the title of the manuscript in the subject line. Pitches must follow the formatting as specified for the Get Your Pitch On contest. If you missed if before check out this post here and you can see the list of blogs participating here.
Draft pitches will be evenly distributed between host blogs.
An interview with Commissioning and Managing Editor of Hardie Grant Egmont, Marisa Pintado, so that you have an idea what she’s looking for before she takes your pitches will be coming up soon on Down Under Wonderings. The exact contest opening times will be included in that post.
Have fun honing your pitches!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Are You a Misfit? (YA Misfits Launch Giveaway!)

— n

a person not suited in behaviour or attitude to a particular social environment

Yep. I've been a misfit in so many different environments, in so many different ways. Depending on the situation, my abilities, attitudes, voice, background, looks, and personality have failed to fit in one way or another.

In fact, I feel like a misfit in pretty much every situation. I'm not like the other rabbis, or the other moms. I'm generally pretty at home in the writing community, but even y'all have to admit that YA superhero origin romance stories are pretty few and far between.

*insert shaky smile*

Which is why I'm so honored to be one of the founding YA Misfits - a ragtag group of Young Adult writers who are changing the world of YA Lit, one novel at a time.

Speaking of superheroes. I think I always loved them because being a superhero was about being a misfit, and finding your place in the world anyway. The supervillains were the ones who got angry and tried to exact revenge. But the heroes...they were something special.

They were misfits, and they were damaged, yeah. But they turned that into something positive. It may have taken them a long time to get there, but they were courageous, and determined. They found their place in the world by making their misfit-ness into something awesome, into a contribution, instead of something to be ashamed of.

I guess I wrote a superhero novel because I hope to do the same thing.

In celebration of the YA Misfits' launch today, I'm giving away two superhero DVDs, full of misfitty awesomeness, that inspired me to write about kids who turned their different-ness into awesomeness.
(Also, I named my main characters after a character from each of them. I HAVE to share.)

The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes: Volume 1

There's Jan VanDyne, AKA "The Wasp," Elias's namesake. She is FIERCE.

X-men Volume One (The awesome 1992 cartoon. Yes.)

X-Men: Volume One (Marvel DVD Comic Book Collection) 
Aaaand here's Jean Grey:
 total badass, quintessential smart-girl heroine, and Merrin's namesake.
One entry for doing each of the following: (just tell me you did it in your comment - I trust you.)
1. Follow the YAMisfits blog
2. Follow the YAMisfits on Twitter
3. Enter the YA Misfits Launch KINDLE GIVEAWAY.
4. Follow this blog.
5. Follow me on Twitter.
6. "Like" me on Facebook.
 (hey, don't judge.)
7. Tell me your favorite superhero, or, heck, ANY misfit character. 

The giveaway ends on Thursday at noon, so you can have your DVDs for your weekend viewing pleasure.
U.S. only, I'm afraid. :(

Thanks so much for coming over, and GOOD LUCK!!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

On Sacrifice

Hi, sweet readers.

Yup, I've been gone from regular posting for a few weeks. I've missed you. Somehow, I always forget how chaotic and stressful back to school is for a campus professional. There are few things I love more than my college students (hi, you guys!) but going back to  work has been stressful and exhausting in ways I somehow forget every year.

You know, people often ask me how I "do it all" - working a (three-quarters time) day job, managing my house, taking care of my kids, writing books, looking halfway decent every day, sleeping enough, and maintaining my sanity.

 I don't like to complain, because I truly am grateful for every aspect of my life that makes me crazy busy. Healthy kids, a job working with people I love, a house to live in, a budding writing career. Also, because I really don't like to assume myself more busy than anyone else. Everyone has responsibilities and stresses that take up their time and leave them suffering from Not Enough Hours in the Day syndrome.

But when people ask me how I "Do it All," I try to be honest and clear - I don't. If I'm spending time on the weekend with my kids, you can well assume that there's a disastrous house or languishing CP on the other end of that equation. If I'm being productive with drafting or revisions, you can bet my elliptical  - and abs - haven't seen any action for weeks. More often than not, I'm running on not enough sleep, and dealing with chronic anxiety and depression to boot. And even with All the Coffee and a supportive spouse, there are only so many writing minutes you can squeeze out of a day before you collapse in a fit of exhausted tears.

I guess what I want to say is that fitting writing into your life isn't easy. Sometimes, it's damn near impossible.

Either way, it takes sacrifice.

I spend less time with my kids than I could, I've all but given up cooking, I do minimal housekeeping. I still have twenty pounds of baby weight to lose and, honestly, I'm not sure it'll come off any time soon. I don't watch TV. I don't do a lot of hanging out with girlfriends, and my kids never go on playdates.

Do I regret any of these things? Heck no. I know I'll never look back on my life and say, "I really wish my kitchen floor would have been cleaner," but I definitely would think, "Damn, it would have been awesome  if I had just made the time for that Mansfield Park redux."

So, I slept less, spent some cash on babysitters, had a dirty house and a couple nervous breakdowns. But I wrote the redux. Sacrifice. 

ed hardy & splash one I
Licensed for use under CC by Thomas (donnga BS) - thank you!

That's not to say there won't be times when I take weeks or months away from writing - I've just taken a couple weeks "off," and I'm not sure exactly how much more time I'll need to get adjusted.

Burt I do know that, now, once again, I have to figure out the new balance of work, self-care, and family to enable me to keep writing in which the sacrifice does not have to be my sanity. 

What about you? When people ask you how you do it all, what do you tell them? What sacrifices do you make for doing the things that you love?

P.S. - Watch this blog over the next several days for exciting news about something new and awesome that I'm lucky enough to be part of! (no, it's not a book deal, or anything like that. But it is awesome. I promise.)