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Friday, May 31, 2013

WIP IT GOOD Blogfest

Thanks to DL Hammonds and Elise Fallson for the Bloghop where we answer the questions below about our Work In Progress.

As a Christmas Present and joke one of my CP's made me this cover-It's nothing like my book or my MC, but it sure looks good. A bit mature for my target market though:D

Word Count (projected/actual so far): 65,000 projected finished. actual: 79,000
I'm in the revision cave, big time.

Genre: YA Contemporary

How long have you been working on it?: Too long-LOL I write the first ROUGH draft for NaNo 2012. I'm polishing draft number three but in the middle of a cross-country move (it's taken over my life) so *crosses fingers* hopefully I'll be ready to send it to CP's in August.

Elevator Pitch (if you came across an agent in an elevator ride, what couple of lines would you use to summarize your book): You mean when I suddenly feel like I have to pee and I can't quit squirming but I NEED to make a good impression? Yikes! I don't do well under pressure. I found my agent through a writing contest. But if I had to talk to them, this is what I'd say if I didn't swallow my tongue first:
Bowler nerd Jules's only hope of escaping small town misery and not hiding behind her bowling jacket is to both win  the State Physics Scholarship and find a wife for her dad, but along the way she realizes she can shed her armor in her home town.
*I worked on this pitch during Hannah Bowman's Master Class at LDStorymakers, but like everything in my life, it's a WIP.

Query Attempt:  

When  bowler girl Jules sees a hickey on her boyfriend’s neck that she didn’t put there, she totals her Beetle and their relationship. Now all the changes she has made over the summer—taking her from reject to wanted—feel fake and wrong. So, with senior year starting, she’s back to being Gutter Girl, the school pariah, working at Pie Alley and biking to school like the freshmen. Tired of hiding behind her dead mom’s league bowling jacket, she decides to get out of her small town and make a fresh start, because even though bowling runs in her veins, being tormented isn’t worth it.
Jules’ only way out is a full-ride scholarship to college in the city. With physics on the brain and a bowling ball in hand, she needs to win the State Physics Competition to secure her scholarship, but to do that, she has to beat out Junior Olympic diver and physics whiz, Nate. He gets under her skin, and not in a good way. When her lab partner gets sick and Nate’s brother steals her lucky bowling jacket, Jules realizes getting Nate’s help is her only hope of securing the scholarship or getting back her jacket—the one piece of her mother she’s not sure she wants to give up anymore.

Are you looking for a Critique Partner?: Not at the moment. I have a great group of ladies right now. Here's a shout out to the Plum Critters: Emily Prusso, Kathryn Purdie, Ilima Todd, and Taryn Albright. You can find links to their awesome blogs on my right sidebar, if you're interested.

Are you looking for a Beta Reader?: Not yet, but hopefully this fall:)

Thanks for stopping by. I'll be visiting, but I'll be a little slow today. We're painting again. Dun dun dun...

See you next week for my Golden Five Recent Reads and for the launch of  Sporty Girl Books.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Agent Michael Bourret and Author James Dashner: Top Secret Publishing

Warning: this post written while high on paint fumes (so Michael and James are even funnier)
*wiping the paint off my fingers*
*sitting on a drop cloth*

As promised, here's the first of my LDStorymakers Class Notes: Top Secret! The Top Ten Secrets of Agents, Editors, and Publishing

Michael Bouret is a hugely successful agent at Dystel and Goderich representing MG, YA, and adult novels and memoirs. He represents Sara Zarr, Lis McMann, Heather Brewer, James Dashner, Scott Savage, and many more (6 clients are LDS)  For more details on Michael visit the DGLM Website and his Lit Rambles Spotlight.

This class was hilarious with Michael talking and James constantly stealing the microphone and including his two cents. It was seeing the author/agent relationship that made the class for me.
 I didn't recognize James when he stood up to introduce Michael. "Who's the guy doing the intros," I asked the nice-looking girl sitting beside me. She choked on her decaffeinated beverage and her opinion of me plummeted. "That's James Dashner," she said. I heard loud and clear, though she didn't say it, "And he's practically a god." I could have told her her I'd read his Mazer Runner series, but I could tell I had already fallen since I didn't recognize him instantly.

Okay, to the notes before I start typing complete nonsense.

1. Agents are people too
    So don't text/call them on the weekend. Michael read one of James' Saturday texts
2. Publishing is much smaller than you think
    Don't talk mean about ANYONE
3. Agents read on their free time
    1st: client material
    2nd: Requested material
    3rd: Queries
4. Agents and editors don't like saying no
    We like helping people share their stories. Queries=PROOF of MS. make short and sweet. Tell us about your book, who you are, and if you were referred
5. There is no one measure for success in publishing
    don't base on $$, best sellers etc.
6. There is never a THERE is the publishing world-it will just keep moving
     Once I have a book deal I'll be a success. No, once I sell x number of copies I'll be a success. Once I'm on the NYT best sellers list, etc. the carrot dangling out of our reach.) Think long game. Control your goals, but enjoy your career. Grab onto the dang carrot and be happy where you are-this is the paint talking, not Michael
7. People think publishing is about who you know, but the best way to get published is to write a great book and get it out there.
   True networking--not using other people--is the best way to go.
8. The ability to revise and accept criticism is more important than the ability to write.
    The best writers he knows are great revisers (he mentioned the brilliant Sara Zarr here). James Dashner warned to be careful of critique groups because they can be dangerous to your confidence and writing.
9. You are your own best advocate.
     No one cares about your book more than you do (except maybe your mother) Ask questions, understand how everything works. Clients who get the most from me are the ones that ask the most of me.
10. There are no secrets.
      If you are proactive you can find out pretty much anything.

From Q and A:
On agent match: interview agent. Just because only one offer, be confident enough to only take it if it's right. Relationships are different with every client.
On NA: He thinks the label will eventually fade away.
On Goodreads: Root of all evil. To which James told us, "If I read a book and I love it. I tweet about it and put it up on my blog. If I hate it, I don't mention it at all."
If you want to keep up to date in publishing world: Try PW Children's Bookshelf and Shelf Talker

  • If I'm amazing they'll be another Class Notes The WIP it Good bloghop on Friday.
  • Next week I'm spotlighting a book each day. I'm taking James Dashner's advise and blogging about the books I love. It just so happens that the last 5 books I read are gold. (3 of them I picked up at Storymakers) 
  • A new blog Sporty Girl Books is launching June 1st. I'm thrilled to be one of their creaters and hope you will check it out, contribute, and help us grow. We're starting off the blog with a tribute to our favorite sporty reads and a massive giveaway.

*the paint is taking over*
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Monday, May 20, 2013

LDStorymakers 2013: Favorite Tidbits

I attended my first LDStorymakers conference two weekends ago. *waves to all my new friends*
I was able to spend the weekend with my CPs, The Plum Critters (we missed our Taryn).
Katie, me, Ilima, and Emily at lunch the last day

 I'm totally shy in public, like please-don't-look-at-me-or-I'll-pee-my-pants shy, but I told myself I would be bold, I would be brave, I would introduce myself to people and talk to strangers-and for the most part I did. On the first day I even went up to Jenn Johansson and Natalie Whipple and told them what a huge fan I am. I was reading INSOMNIA (so good) and I told Natalie I couldn't wait to read TRANSPARENT. To my shock she told me she had 2 copies, an ARC and the British version and I could pick one. I chose the British version:) I'm still kicking myself that I didn't get a picture with them, but I opened my mouth to wonderful results!

My CP Emily gave me the quilt she's been working on during her Friday sew days. I write under it every morning. She gave me a rainbow of colors because the hi-desert is varying shades of brown and I miss the green of my childhood.

Chris, Renee, Emily, me, Ailsa, Matthew
Day 1:
Publication Primer lead by Renee Collins, author of RELIC (fall 2013). I took the first chapter of my WIP, Gutter Girl. We only had 5 writers in our group and we each had an hour for our work. I had tons of positive feedback and great ideas for little bits to tweak and improve. I totally crushed on one of my classmate's books-it was an adult urban fantasy and it totally sucked me in. I tried to control my fangirl self, but when he told me my writing made him want to read YA, a genre he avoids, I may or may not have squealed.

That night I joined a group of writers for dinner at my favorite Provo location
 and celebrated as Ilima Todd announced her 2 book deal with Shadow Mountain.

Katie, me (not aware of the camera), and Emily

Ilima, me, and J.A. Bennet (who put on the super fun dinner with DPK) 
Below I'm including a tidbit from each class I attended. There were so many good classes to choose from. I wish I could have gone to them all.

Day 2:
Hannah Bowman's Master Class on Plot*
One good idea isn't enough for a book, only a premise. We need one good idea on every page.

Jordan McCullum: All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Grow
There is something deeper your character needs/lacks. If you're not sure what it is here's a cheat: look to the end of your MS--what does your MC gain?

Michael Bourret (and James Dashner)*
My favorite thing Michael said, (if I'd been drinking milk it would have spewed out my nose): Goodreads is the root of all evil.
James's added, "If I love a book I tweet and blog about it, if I don't love a book, I never mention it."

Janette Rallison: Writing Unputdownable YA*
Your hero is only as strong as the antagonist.

Anne Perry: Keynote Address
We can write good letters, but a book is of more value. It is a letter to mankind.

Book signing!! This event could be a post of its own. Here I am with Kimberly Griffiths Little and her book When the Butterflies Came.

Day 3:
Met my agent sister Precy Larkins

Anne Perry Master Class:
Great beginnings and great endings must fit the theme. Especially the end. Know when you're done and stop.

Sandra Taylor: Blogging
"Why do I write? Because I see little stories everywhere and I want to catch them much like a child catches a moth" -Doyle

Lunch: 1st chapter contest. LOVESENSE placed 2nd in YA Spec! My friends Celesta Rimington and Kate Coursey also placed.
Celestia (5th), Kate (1st), Me (2nd)
Alyssa Henkin: The Sunny Side of Publishing
Remember the good, happy stories. Buck a trend-don't follow it.

John Brown: Story Turns*
Turns have a shelf life: they expire. You have to have lots of them.

I'm planning on posting in more detail about the classes with asterisks in the next few weeks, but it might take me longer with my cross-country move looming in 4 weeks!

Did you attend Storymakers? What was your favorite tidbit? Do you have another favorite conference (possibly on the East Coast)?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Happy Book Birthday, Dianne!
 *launches confetti rockets*

I met Dianne last summer when I signed up for First Impressions. Could you tell us how First Impressions works and why you do it? 

First Impressions was Marcy Hatch’s idea. She asked if I’d like to join her in critiquing first page samples of people’s work – especially people who were getting ready to query and wanted to polish the first thing an agent/editor would see.

We do it because we love helping people, and we’ve been thrilled to have writers come back and share first pages that were revised based on feedback they received from our blogs. We also love sharing success stories – like you, Robin, and Pk Hrezo, who received offers of representation afterwards. We like to imagine we helped!

You did help, Dianne. You and Marcy still do, to me and countless other writers out there. How much you give back not only helps me want to be a better writer, but it makes me want to be a more giving person. 
I did First Impressions twice as honed by first page of LOVESENSE. I remember the little things that confused readers. Do you remember her trainers--not people, but her shoes? It was on your recommendation that I focused the first page more on Rae not looking at the photo and really made my first page pop. 

Could you tell us about yourself and how you became a writer?

I’ve always been a writer. Even before I could write, I drew the pictures and got somebody else to write the words down for me.

But I became a published writer because of my husband.  He’s the one who submitted my early (and unready) works to agents and editors. He’s the one who suggested, when I wrote the novel that would eventually become We Hear the Dead, “Let’s try self-publishing.”

Self-publishing High Spirits in 2007 led to an offer in 2009 to re-publish the work traditionally with Sourcebooks AND a film option with a Hollywood producer.  The film option recently took a leap forward with the creation ofThe Spirit Game, a short film premiering at Cannes Film Festival 2013.

I enjoyed reading  We Hear the Dead-especially the dynamics of all the Fox sisters. The cover is brilliant; it speaks so much about the story unfolding inside. Congratulations on the short film! Cannes Film Festival starts  tomorrow. How wonderful to have so much goodness is one week. 
Can you tell us the legend that inspired The Caged Graves? I'm still impressed with your husband's ability to locate the cemetery using Google Earth.

I was researching ghost stories connected with the Pocono Mountains for a short story when I stumbled across a photograph of a grave enclosed in an iron cage. The grave was supposedly located in a cemetery “near Rorhbach’s Orchard” in Catawissa, Pennsylvania. The article was not very factual. It said a girl was buried this way because her family thought she was a vampire. Or a werewolf. Nobody seemed sure. But the grave was dated 1852, and legends of vampires and werewolves were NOT common in North America at that time.
My husband found Rorhbach’s Orchard on Google Earth, then started searching the surrounding area. He was pretty sure he’d pinpointed the cemetery, and when we drove out there in January 2010 (while on our annual family ski trip), we did indeed find the cemetery.

Only there were TWO caged graves there, not one. And from that moment, I knew I was going to write a novel about these graves.

Ohh, I have chills. The premise behind the story is so creeptastic. I keep putting myself in Verity’s place and trying to imagine how I would react to seeing my own mother’s caged grave. Could you tell us more about creating your main character? I love that she’s named Verity. Seeking truth seems like the theme of THE CAGED GRAVES.

Verity chose her own name, as most of my characters do, and her name shaped her character. I decided right away that Verity prided herself on her truthfulness. Of course, when I started writing her story, she immediately showed the flaw in her character: Sometimes the truth hurts! Verity won’t tell a lie even for social nicety, and even though she tries to be devastatingly polite, she will tell you the truth to your face.

This rubs a lot of two-faced people the wrong way. And the young man she agreed to marry to further her father’s business prospects has never met anyone like her. Not to mention, there are some people in town who want the truth to remain buried and might be willing to see Verity buried along with it.

I can't wait to read it. You’re represented by Sara Crowe, could you tell us about how you signed with her and your road to publication? 

Continuing the story I started in question #2, after Sourcebooks re-released my novel, I realized I needed representation for future works. I started querying a historical paranormal novel and received about 30-35 rejections, including 2 Revise & Resubmits that did NOT end with an offer of representation. However, I credit those R&Rs with helping me see what my manuscript needed. By the time I queried Sara Crowe in December 2010, it was good enough for her to fall in love with it.

As these things often happen, however, this was not the first manuscript Sara sold for me. The Caged Graves, the second manuscript I turned over to Sara, received an offer first. Lesson for everyone: Keep writing that next story!

6. Dianne is a pantster like me. When I feel guilty for not being a detailed plotter, emailing with Dianne helps me embrace my writing style. She shared a quote by Stephen King that resonates with me and my writing-LOL. 

"I don't take notes; I don't outline, I don't do anything like that. I just flail away at the goddamn thing."

Can you tell us what you're working on now and how that's affected your pantstering?

Ha, ha – You know I’ve hit a slight problem with my pantstering! I have no apologies for being a pantsterer. It’s part of my process that I discover the story as I write it. But I’ve come up against a little problem.

In October 2012, Sara sold my MG fantasy story The Eighth Day as a 3 book series to HarperCollins – with the potential for more books if the series is a success. And now I have to plan and plot – two things I’m not good at!

I have to know where I’m going in the series to make things exactly right, even in Book 1. Details have to be correct. Characters need a history and a future. The conflict has to grow over the series, building to a climax in Book 3, but with the potential for continued conflict beyond that book. And unlike in YA, cliffhangers aren’t all that welcome in MG. Each book should be complete in itself.

So yeah, this pantster is trying to learn how to plot.

Here's a link to her post A Pantster Plots. The premise of The Eighth Day is super fun. It'll be a read aloud at the Hall house when it releases (if I can keep my oldest from sneaking it and finishing the book himself--not that he's ever done that *cough, cough*) You're doing great tackling that series. 

Robin, thank you for having me here today to help celebrate the release of The Caged Graves!

Thanks Dianne, for being here!
You can find THE CAGED GRAVES goodreads, indie, amazon, b&n
S.A Larson has a giveaway and sneak peek on her blog: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dianne K. Salerni is the author of YA historical novels We Hear the Dead (Sourcebooks 2010) and The Caged Graves (Clarion Books 2013), and the forthcoming MG fantasy series The Eighth Day (HarperCollins). Salerni lives in Chester County, Pennsylvania with her husband and two daughters, where she teaches fifth grade.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Cover Reveal: Cassie Mae's FRIDAY NIGHT ALIBI

Cassie Mae of took over my blog today. Thank goodness she's so funny, so her hijacking is enjoyable. Prepare to laugh, prepare to grin, prepare for pigs, hot guys, and one crazy productive writer.

Take it away, Cassie Mae.
(I couldn't resist the rhyme)

Let's all dance together!

I'm super thrilled to show you all my cover for my New Adult debut, FRIDAY NIGHT ALIBI, published by Random House Flirt. This baby comes out on July 29th, but you can buy it now! And it'll just zap onto your ereader the day it's released.

Wanna know what it's about? Well, it's about this pig who learns how to fly, but only on friday nights and he grants wishes to people who are not where they're supposed to be, to get them out of a bind. You know I'm totally joking. I just wanted to see how many people just skipped over all these words to get to the pretty cover, lol. You mention the pig in the comments and you get cyber gold stars.

Here's the blurb :D

Rising star Cassie Mae introduces New Adult readers to a practical soon-to-be college freshman who seems to have everything—until a special guy shows her what she’s been missing.

In the wealthy town of Sundale, Kelli Pinkins has hatched the perfect plan to capitalize on her sweet reputation. For a generous fee, she will be every trust-fund baby’s dream: a Friday-night alibi, the “girlfriend” or “BFF” that parents dream about. With college approaching in the fall, Kelli’s services are in demand more than ever, which means that her social life is nonexistent. But Kelli is A-okay with that. She’s raking in cash for school. Besides, relationships are tricky, and sometimes very messy. She’d rather be at home on Xbox LIVE, anyway. Then the unexpected happens: She meets college stud Chase Maroney.

Chase isn’t like the preppy, privileged guys Kelli usually meets in Sundale. For starters, he’s twentysomething, always wears black, and he shoots back one-liners as fast as she can dish them out. But Kelli’s attempts to drive Chase away falter when she realizes that he treats her like he really knows her, like he cares about knowing her. When Kelli finally gives in to the delicious kiss she’s been fighting for so long, she faces a tough decision: make Chase a real-life boyfriend and risk her heart . . . or keep her clients and lose her first true love.

Advance praise for Friday Night Alibi

“Totally entertaining with as many swoon-worthy moments as hilarious ones, Friday Night Alibi is a must-read.”—Jolene Perry, co-author of Out of Play

“A fun, funny, and fantastic story, this is one you will read in a day, and pick up to re-read again the next.”—Kelley Lynn, author of Fraction of Stone

Oh, and stuff about me too.

Cassie Mae is a nerd to the core from Utah, who likes to write about other nerds who find love. Her angel children and perfect husband fan her and feed her grapes while she clacks away on the keyboard. Then she wakes up from that dream world and manages to get a few words on the computer while the house explodes around her. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with the youth in her community as a volleyball and basketball coach, or searching the house desperately for chocolate.

And now the pretty!

You can buy this book HERE, and it takes you to all the places it's available. Yay! My first published book with MY NAME ON IT! Squee!!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

IWSG and Cover Reveal: YOU ARE MINE by Janeal Falor and a GIVEAWAY

Edited to add giveaway winners:
Amanda and Gina, Congrats!

Because of the cover reveal, I'll keep IWSG short today.
Current insecurities and voices I'm struggling to silence: I'll never sell a book, never finish another one and like it as much as LOVESENSE, and not trusting my choices.

What I'm doing about it: making myself write, even when it's hard to keep going, reminding myself that all first drafts are messy, and even 2nd and 3rd drafts are allowed to be that way, telling myself that I'm young, I have decades of writing ahead of me, if I keep going not only will I become a better writer, but one day I will see my name on a book cover.

Now for the Cover Reveal:D

Guys...remember the Keeping it Real post from last month and how fun Janeal was?
Well she wrote a book. A good one with some of that "rommance" she talked about, a girl completely out of her element, and a handsome stranger. I twisted Janeal's arm until she let me read an advanced copy during my road trip last week. It helps to have an Army Ranger for a little brother to show me some tricks;-) Yes, I am one lucky girl, both in my brother and in getting to read YOU ARE MINE. And while I don't want to give anything away know there're warlocks, magic, sisters (I love reading about sister relationships-I have 4 sisters), secret rituals, a seriously hot guy, and a dressmaker. Janeal even got me to care about a seamstress, guys, and not because of her daring patterns allowing women to dress themselves either. By chapter three I didn't want to put this fantasy down. And boy did I want to beat up her dad. I wanted to beat up a lot of people in this book, but I didn't want to destroy my kindle, or scare my family, but it wasn't easy:). YOU ARE MINE is a satisfying read and I'm glad to know she's working on the next book.

Are you ready for the cover?

Here it comes

Isn't Serena a knockout? I can't help but stare at her eyes-I see both beauty and pain in them.

Publication date: May 6th 2013
Genre: YA Fantasy


Serena knows a few simple things. She will always be owned by a warlock. She will never have freedom. She will always do what her warlock wishes, regardless of how inane, frivolous, or cruel it is. And if she doesn’t follow the rules, she will be tarnished. Spelled to be bald, inked, and barren for the rest of her life– worth less than the shadow she casts.

Then her ownership is won by a barbarian from another country. With the uncertainty that comes from belonging to a new warlock, Serena questions if being tarnished is really worse than being owned by a barbarian, and tempts fate by breaking the rules. When he looks the other way instead of punishing her, she discovers a new world. The more she ventures into the forbidden, the more she learns of love and a freedom just out of reach. Serena longs for both. But in a society where women are only ever property, hoping for more could be deadly.



Janeal is giving away one ebook copy and I am as well. All you need to do is leave a comment. I'll randomly pick 2 winners on May 10th and the ebooks will be delivered the week of May 20th.

Janeal Falor lives in Utah where she’s finally managed to live in the same house for more than five years. In her spare time she reads books like they’re nuts covered in caramel and chocolate, cooks whatever strikes her fancy, and enjoys the outdoors. Her husband and three children try to keep up with her overactive imagination. Usually they settle for having dinner on the table, even if she’s still going on about the voices in her head.

Author links:
Website / Goodreads / Twitter

What books are you looking forward to this month? 
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