Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"How to Milk a Dinocow" Book launch!

Do you remember when we sent Critter around the world last year? Critter met all kinds of writers and illustrators and then was auctioned off for St. Jude.

Critter's mega-talented creator, Ian Sands, has his first humorous middle grade book coming out on December 10th.

If you're in the state of NC . . . .“How to Milk a DinoCow” will be released December 10, 2011. The publisher and the Halle Cultural Arts Center, located on Salem Street in downtown Apex, NC will be co-hosting the launch event which is open to the public. The event will take place from 3-5PM. But you can pre-order it here

Don't forget to become a fan on Facebook too!

Go on! Reserve your copy. You know you want to!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

NaNo, words flow, go, go, go! How do you get the words out?

I can't believe NaNo is going so well for me this year. I have three youngin's and a busy life. I didn't even know if I should tackle NaNo this year; 1) because my past NaNo stories have turned out to be junk 2) I didn't know if I had the time. I hate to start something and not finish it.

But then I decided to do it; 1) because a friend talked me into it 2) I had an idea to write the back story and character sketches of my book instead of the book itself 3) we all can find time to do the things that we WANT to do. I knew I could find the time if I really tried.

I encourage anyone who is thinking about NaNo to do NaNo on in the way that will best suite you and your goals. Who cares if you don't make it to the full 50K? Who cares if you are writing a book about your book? Who cares if you're just brainstorming nothing in particular? The point is setting your goals and working towards them.

Writing a book about back story and characters seems "weird" but it has been really helpful.
1) I'm gaining a better understanding of what motivates my characters and how they effect each other.
2) I'm seeing my characters in a more well-rounded way. They are becoming real to me and I think that will help my story when I start to really write about them.
3) I'm able to connect the dots with some questions I had in my mind but didn't know how to work them out.
4) My inner editor is completely shut off. None of this is meant to be cut and pasted into my novel, so I can type freely with little to no road blocks.

When I do find that my creative process is slowing down, I know it's time to stop. One of the best ways I find to let the words flow is to visualize the scenes or thoughts that I want to write about, like I'm watching a movie in my head, before I start to type. The clearer movie-like picture I have in my head, the easier it is to let the words pour out.

OK, I'm going to go now and try to plunk out another couple thousand words. That is, if I can keep the cat off my key-board. Shooooo Sammy, shoooooo!

What about you? What helps you get the words out when you're writing?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Encouragement for Writers: An Agent Success Story with Jenny Murray

Visit Jenny Murray at

I'm especially happy to bring you this week's ENCOURAGEMENT FOR WRITERS section because today's guest is one of my critique group buddies. Jenny Murray is a dedicated and talented writer that hasn't let our economy discourage her from writing a great book. Jenny recently signed with Danielle Chiotti at Upstart Crowe Agency. Her dedication to the craft of writing inspires me. Now you can read on and get inspired too!

What type of writing do you do and how long have you been writing?

I write novels for middle grade readers. I have been writing all of my life, though it’s only been since 2003 that I’ve been seriously working toward a goal of publication.

How long had you worked on the manuscript that landed your agent?

I started this project almost four years ago, and I worked on it exclusively for about a year and a half. Then I thought it was ready to go out into the world, and I started the submission process while beginning another project. It wasn’t ready, though. After receiving mixed feedback, I pulled it back out for another full revision. This latest revision took about six months.

How many revisions?

Nineteen and counting!

When did you seek an agent for the first time, and how/why did you know it was time to look for one?

I have to admit that I submitted this book too early. It wasn’t ready. I think I thought it was done because I wasn’t sure what else to do with it or where to get more feedback. Then I received a few personal rejections. They were gifts because they helped me see the hard work that still needed to be done. They gave me direction.

How did you find your agent and then come to the conclusion that she was the one?

My final path to representation did not follow the normal querying process. The first time I queried agents, I received several comments about the characters and setting of the novel. They both needed to be strengthened. I listened and took the comments to heart, working for a solid six months to bring the novel to its current form. I felt good about my work, but didn’t want to make the mistake of querying agents too soon again.

Luckily, the Carolinas SCBWI conference was just around the corner. I signed up for a critique, hoping to get some positive feedback, but also hoping to know if my changes were working. I was assigned an editor from a major publishing house for my individual critique session. She was wonderful, saying that she loved the pages and that I could say she was interested in the project in my queries to agents.

I talked with a few authors at the conference. They were tremendously helpful, and when I returned home I began my query process. While I was researching agents, Danielle Chiotti of Upstart Crow Literary contacted me. One of her clients, whom I had met at the conference, told her about my project. Danielle queried me asking to see my manuscript. Completely flattered, I sent it to her.

Within two weeks, I had two offers for representation. I spoke with both agents on the phone, and I was immediately drawn to Danielle’s professionalism and enthusiasm. I finalized my contract with Danielle one week later.

What encouragement given to you did you hold on to while you were searching for an agent?

I remember reading that even in this tough economic climate, there is, and always will be, a place for great books. This comment stuck with me as I worked on my book. I listened to feedback even when I wanted to ignore it and say I was done. It was a struggle and sometimes discouraging, but I always knew that I had to work to write the very best book I can write.

What encouragement or advice would you give others who are searching for an agent?

Keep writing. Revise, revise, and revise and then revise again. It’ll happen.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’m still revising! I’m working on Danielle’s editorial letter (seven, single spaced pages) and I am thrilled because her comments are spot-on and making me ask hard questions about my book. I still struggle with impatience, but I know, in the end, my book will be better for the work. And that’s the goal. I want to write the best book I can because what we do is too important to rush. We’re building the reading lives of young people. They deserve the very best books we can write.

Thank you for joining us and sharing your journey to representation, Jenny.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Making NaNo progress.

I'm off to a good start. I've averaged a little over 2000 words per day. I'm not going to be able to do any typing on Saturday because I'll be out doing family stuff, but I'll be thinking and visualizing what I want to write next. That's one key that I've found to being able to type fast and furiously. If I have a movie-like idea in my head of what I'm going to type next, the words just flow.

I'm having tons of fun with this. I'm unlocking a lot of nuggets in my head and finding out a lot about my story that is falling into place. YaY!

More next week. I have to get ready for the weekend.