Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy last day of the decade and the Wonderful Wizard of Plotting

A few ruminations:
Yeah, yeah..the first decade of the twenty-first century is over. I guess it's been a mixed bag as far as these things go. This country has lost its innocence and a good bit of its exuberance. I think we have tempered our expectations, but within that realized that happiness can still be pursued and found.

I suppose in my own way, that has been my journey as well. I started writing midway through the decade, at rather a late point in my life. I'd already committed myself to the visual arts. As I became more and more engrossed in writing, my dream of publication became all-consuming. It also happened to be timed with the meteoric rise of the Young Adult Book sector (initially spurred by Harry Potter then fueled by Twilight). It seemed in 2007-08 that getting published was an easily attainable goal. I got pretty close. But my timing was a bit off. I signed with an agent in late 2008, one week before the near collapse of the American economy. And that was the week that for the country, and for me, things started to change. It became difficult for agents to sell books to a skittish industry. Many agents closed shop. Things soured quickly.

My agent and I parted on good terms six months later. I bear her no ill will and am pleased to see that things are turning around for her. They seem to be turning around for the industry as slowly, the economy returns to life. But either way, the industry is changing as e-readers become more popular.

As for me..I am the furthest thing from discouraged. I am still in hot pursuit of the publishing dream. But as I read books that I admire, such as Hunger Games and Beautiful Creatures, I realize I am in even greater pursuit of writing excellence. I am more interested in upping my game, and improving my writing. I don't even want an agent until I am certain I have reached a higher level. When I signed with my agent, I thought I'd gotten as good as I could. I was wrong. Now don't think I am stalling. I am revising and hope to begin querying in the early part of 2010. But I am in no hurry. And I am content writing, critting and blogging. I never expected to love blogging like I do! Thanks to all the people who have chosen to follow me and listen to my blatherings!

Now, for my find of the year (thanks to my blog-sistah Christine Fonseca for the lead) I am now officially addicted to the PLOT WHISPERER. This genius blogger has just completed the month long, day by day plotting plan. It is SUPERB. I am posting the link to DAY ONE. Now, with the whole month of steps posted, you can follow at your own speed.

Thank you Plot-Whisperer, you magnificent Wizard of Plotting!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Scones Contest WINNERS!

Okay. I know I promised three winners, but you know, we only had five contestants! They were all great, btw. So We decided we would pick two winners. The grand prize winner, who gets one signed copy of Scones AND a ten page crit from two or more Cudas. The second place winner gets a ten-page Cuda crit as well, but most likely from just one Cuda (which is most likely to be me!).

So congrats to our GRAND PRIZE WINNER:
Steena Holmes!
We loved the characterization of the elegant chocoholic vs. the rather banal veggie guy. The dainty chocolate sipper reminded us of one of Linds' characters in Scones!

so congrats, Steena!

Second Prize goes to:
You had us after Booger Flickr!!!

And thanks, everyone else. It was a tough decision!

Winners..get in touch at
mommatoo (at)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday BlogNog

So the contest is over. I wish we'd had more contestants, but the ones we had were splendid! Judging begins and we should announce our winners sometime next week.

Just want to give a shout out to Christine Fonseca and Elana Johnson for naming this blog as one of their faves of 2009. Did I already do that? If so, I'm saying it one more time for good measure. It gives my blog authenticity because I usually repeat my good stories at least twice (so my mother is quick to tell me.)

Elana gave me this award!!! I am so honored. My little blog is a newborn, but hopefully in 2010 will grow to maturity. (Well, since it's my blog it's never going to be that mature.) I'm passing this on to:

The Bloodred Pencil
Deb Salisbury
The Bookshelf Muse
To end off the year I'm going to list my favorite books of 2009.

And yeah, I admit it. ALL I ever read is YA with an occasional MG thrown in.

These days, we've been remodeling our living room and have just built two giant-sized floor to ceiling bookshelves (yes!). I unloaded all my old books from college days and even earlier, and realized I have some GOOD ONES in there, like Ursula LeGuin THE DISPOSESSED, and Robert Heinlein's TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE. Anne Rice's vampire books. (Man, am I dating myself). I'm itching to re-read some of these.

But let's get back on topic—2009 faves:

1) CATCHING FIRE—by Suzanne Collins. (It think I read Hunger Games in 2008).

This series has got to be my all-time favorite. When I started reading Catching Fire I had to force myself not to read the whole thing in ONE SITTING. I managed to spread it over two days, I think. This woman is everything I want to be as a writer. Descriptive. Imaginative. Poignant. Suspenseful. She has it all. Bless you, Suzanne Collins. Keep em' coming.

2) CITY OF GLASS—Cassandra Clare. How do I love thee, Cassandra? Let me count the ways. She is my icon of urban fantasy, plain and simple. The master.

3) FIRE—Kristin Cashore. Again, I love her books. She does so much telling, yet somehow gets away with it. It fascinates me. And her romance is exceptional, her world unique. This one started off slower than GRACELING, but in the end, I loved it just as much.

4) GOING BOVINE—Libba Bray. I haven't seen this on too many fave lists, but I adored it. As I've mentioned on the first post on this blog, I love Libba!!! How she has leapt from a Victorian fantasy to a modern day Jack Kerouac teen road trip that was wrenchingly sad and gut-splitting funny at the same time, I'll never understand. Can't imagine what's next.

5) BEAUTIFUL CREATURES—I'm not done, but the creep factor and the southern small town gothic makes a wonderful combo.

These five books have something in common—great writing and great characters. I crave this. If anyone has others they can recommend, please share.

In other news:
Don't forget to check out Lindsay Eland's newly released SCONES AND SENSIBILITIES. It is a hoot!

Now for 2010 coming attractions:
Three critmates have books coming out.

Heidi Ayarbe's second book COMPROMISED The tale of an escaped foster child and her harrowing road trip in quest of a long lost relative. (her first book FREEZE FRAME won acclaim and awards. Check it out!)

Christine Johnson— CLAIRE DE LUNE, young adult fantasy
A story of forbidden love and coming of age as a werewolf. She has a sequel due out in 2011!!

Kate Milford— THE BONESHAKER, steampunk fantasy
Devilish happenings at the crossroads at a turn-of the century medicine show. This book is life-altering. Kate is one of the most original voices around. Just wait. You heard it here first.

I'll be interviewing all of these fascinating ladies and more...

Have a great holiday and be well!!!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Scones contest deadline TONIGHT at midnight

and...I am tickled and honored to be mentioned by Christine Fonseca as one of her FIVE FAVE blogs for the year. Wow! This blog is only three months old. Thanks, Christine!

Now everyone go follow her if you don't already. She is a BUNDLE of energy and smarts. If I ever feel lazy I read her blog and realize it's possible to do eight million things in one day and do them well. I'm kind of hyper, myself, but I think Christine has me licked!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Plot issues never take a holiday

At least in my head.

My characters don't really care what's going on in my life or the "real world" around them, so lately, wading into the deep waters of the mucky middle of my revise, I'm stressed. I sat for two hours last night listening to my computer read my ms to me, on high alert for tension and sufficient foreshadowing, all the while worrying—Does anyone care? Is there enough romance? Enough spookiness? Or too much? Is my MC proactive enough?

Argghhh. I'm probably due for some intensive crits, but I want to untangle all the threads as best I can first.

Elana Johnson had a fabulous post on the Querytracker blog once about how to approach the daunting revise, which helped me loads.

I just stumbled across another post from Janice Hardy about how to push your characters to make hard choices. Thanks to Deb Salisbury for that cool link! This sparked an idea for me, so let's see how it goes...

Anyway, I'd love to hear from people. Any advice you have for working out plot kinks; either links to other blogs or your own thoughts are welcome. Thanks!

In other news:
Christine Fonseca is holding a comment contest on her blog in honor of the one year anniversary of her blog! (and pssstt...she has another one as well). Christine is an energizer bunny of a woman, writing, working, parenting and I often find myself wondering if she is a cyborg. Anyway, visit her and join the fun!

Friday, December 11, 2009

In honor of Happy Agent Day and reaching 60 Ode to Sarah Davies

I figured I'd weigh in.
Nope. I don't currently have an agent, though I did have an amazing agent once who I hold in the highest esteem.

It's simple. We NEED agents. We WANT agents. And agents have to deal with lots of whining from the writing community. But I am not going to whine. As a design professor who is in the position to judge the merits of other's work, I can sympathize with agents and their plight.

So instead of praising agents wholesale as a group, I am going to single out ONE AGENT who is not my agent or even close to becoming my agent. But this particular agent has treated me with absolute kindness and fairness and given me amazing advice. She has a blog where she treats other striving authors with the same kindness.

That would be the wonderful Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary.

SO this post is for you, Sara, in celebration and appreciation of your awesomeness. I don't know if I'll ever be lucky enough to become your client, but even still, just knowing there are agents like you out there gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.

I raise my coffee cup to you, Sara Davies, agent extraordinaire!

here's the link to her blog:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Another Interview with Lindsay Eland on the blog

YA writer, Suzette Saxton, Querytracker blogstress extraodinaire interviews Lindsay!
Head on over:

and don't forget to enter the Super-fabby Scones and Sensibility book giveaway and Cudawriters critique contest.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Announcing the SUPER-FABBY Scones and Sensibilities Challenge! First Prize, a signed author's copy of SCONES plus a killer Cuda critique!

In honor of the December 22 release of Lindsay Eland's SCONES AND SENSIBILITY (aka Lindsay, the Nice Cuda) Why A? is holding our very first contest! With prizes!

SCONES tells the story of Polly, the dreamy, Jane Austen-obsessed tween who sets out to make a love match for all the lonely souls in her sea-side town, with hysterical results.

Entry Rules:
All you have to do to enter is choose the Follow button, if you haven't already (on your right hand column of the blog) and leave a comment describing a poorly conceived love match, set-up or blind date in 1-3 paragraphs. Humor is encouraged.

For example:
Describe a love match between
  • a cat person and a dog person
  • a germophobic vegetarian and a carefree meat-eater
  • a roller coaster fanatic and a carsick person
  • a tightrope walker and someone with a fear of heights

Use our samples or make up your own!
You get the idea!

December 22 or the first 50 entries, whichever comes first;
Winners announced December 27th.

First Prize:

Signed Author's copy of Scones and Sensibility
Full-toothed Cuda crit (with bite marks) from 2 or three actual Cudas of the first ten pages of your YA or MG manuscript

Second Prize:
Cuda crit (with bite marks) from one Cuda of the first ten pages of your YA or MG manuscript

Third Prize:
Full-toothed Cuda crit from one Cuda of the first five pages of your YA or MG manuscript

Good luck! email with questions

AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Artists: Exhibition Opening; 50 Books 50 Covers

50 Books/50 Covers

This exhibition opens on December 10. All of you New Yorkers who are interested in design or publishing (or like me, both) should make it their business to get down there. I am, so maybe I'll see you there!

There's an art to this cover design thing! It does not simply occur as if by magic (ask my students). Here's the link to the show info. You can also link to the AIGA website and view previous shows on bookcover art (and all kinds of other award-winning graphic design).