Mar 30, 2012

Friday funnies

I've signed up for the April A-to-Z challenge (because apparently, I am crazy) so this will be the last Funny Friday  until May. In case you've been under a rock missed all the bloggy blurbs about this fest, those of us who've signed up will post on a topic that corresponds with a letter of the alphabet every day next month except for Sundays. You, too, can join in the fun here.

And now, on to the funs.

Just when you thought you had everything figured out...

And my favorite anchorman, Ron Burgundy, shares his wisdom re: 24-hour cable networks:

And finally....

Have a great weekend!

Mar 25, 2012

Triberr: help with increasing your social media reach

I'm dabbling in a new social media platform these days. It's called Triberr and yeah, it's been around a while. But I'm always slow on the uptake so  it's taken me this long to get onboard.

Triberr's concept is simple: join a 'tribe' of other like-minded bloggers. Everytime you post, Triberr imports your post title/link into a queue that's visible by all your tribe members - called your tribal 'stream'. Your tribe members then click to allow an automatically-generated tweet, which Triberr releases to Twitter in 20-minute increments.

Here's an example of what those tweets look like: 'Friday Funnies' via rewrighter01

I check my tribal stream at least once per day, choosing those links I think my followers would enjoy. Triberr does the rest. It's fast,  fun and increases my own blogging reach exponentially. Currently, I belong to two tribes (a small number - most Triberr members belong to several more) with a reach of over 8,000 people. Triberr calculates the 'reach' by figuring out the total number of followers of your entire tribe. So if Suzi Q has 1,500 followers and I have 250, it adds up those totals to get a reach of 1,750 people.

an example of a tribal queue

Upside: Everything so far. Triberr also hosts a forum called 'bonfires' where potential tribe mates can meet and match, or discuss various things. To grow my own tribe - called YA Writers - I posted a thread saying my tribe was open to those who write, read or blog about YA writing. Simple, right? Read on...

Downsides: I've discovered that there's really no foolproof way to screen people who want to belong to your tribe (other than visiting the supposed sites of those that indicated an interest.) I began inviting people who indicated an interest on my thread about YA Writers. Each invite costs me 15 'bones' - as a newbie, I started out with 85. Unfortunately, a few of those new members were apparently spammers, since the posts that have gone into my tribal stream have nothing to do with YA writing. This is a pain but not (hopefully) fatal. I just don't click on those posts to share. But I have lost all those bones, which I need to invite other members. I'm down to 10 now, so no more invites until I somehow earn some more.

The other downside is, of course, the time it takes to find those like-minded bloggers. Reading bonfires can be a time suck, and there's no guarantee the writer of the original thread - who is also usually the Tribe Ruler - will ever answer/invite you to join their tribe. No doubt those Rulers have the same issue I do, which is to earn back the bones needed to invite/increase your tribe.

Anyway, joining Triberr is free and worth a tour. If you decide to join, stop in and say hey. I'd love to invite you to YA Writers as soon as I have the means to do it. If you form your own tribe, and it overlaps with mine, send me an invite!

Mar 22, 2012

Friday funnies

First, a funny I stole from Kristin over at Fairies & Pirates. The first one is only funny if 1. you're a parent and 2. you've been driving your kid all over kingdom come until recently.

And, while I'm part of the Hunger Games craze out there, am I the only one that thinks making an honorary cupcake of the occasion goes too far? No? Here's the link to make your own. 

This last one is a politically-themed video I hesitated over adding (bc this isn't a political blog) but I'm totally in awe over the editing in this thing. Just goes to show you - in this day/age, the media can not only put words in your mouth, but make you rap like a star.

And finally, it wouldn't be Friday w/o some LOL cats.

Have a great weekend!

Mar 18, 2012

The lesson of UNSPOKEN

I just finished an ARC of UNSPOKEN by Sarah Rees Breenan (thanks NetGalley!) and was completely blown away.  This is the first in a new series by Breenan, who wrote The Demon's Lexicon trilogy. This new series is classified as YA Gothic Romance and comes out this fall. Rather than paste the blurb here, visit Sarah's site or watch the trailer :

BTW, this genre is not normally  my cup of tea. And yet I fell hard for this book. Why? One word: tension. The longing between Kami and Jasper is immediate, intense and constantly foiled. See, the two of them have been communicating their thoughts since they were born, years before they ever met. They're each other's best friend, albeit invisible, and both have put up with crazy reputations as a result. Then they meet, and everything changes. The ending had me literally yelling at the book like I did when Catching Fire or  Delirium ended, in that delighted, frustrated oh-no-she-did-not-do-that-to-me way.

It made me go back over the slow romance in my own WIP. My MCs are total opposites (you met them here) and when things start to heat up, I can't bear for them to be mad at each other. I'm like their mom, always wanting them to be happy. WRONG! Instead of Cupid, I must play Devil's Advocate - getting them close, almost touching - before ripping them apart via misunderstanding/circumstances/other people. I've gotta shed my ooey-gooey center and be as ruthless as the Grim Reaper on a scythe-rampage.

So here's my dilemma - how much delay is too much? Is it ever permissible to end on a less-than-satisfying-romance note? This is one of my questions for Sarah (who has agreed to an interview!!! Squee! I'm such a fangirl...) but what do you guys think? What's your formula for creating that angst-filled teen romance? How much delay is too much?  And, most importantly...

Is there room for an unhappy ending in YA if your MS is not part of a series? 

Mar 15, 2012

Friday funnies

Three videos this week - Sh*t Writers Say and Sh*t Non-writers Say sandwiching a brilliant music video by OK. Go that I found over at Maggie Stiefvater's blog (who, in addition to writing the fantastic The Scorpio races, has a blazing sense of humor).  

Finally, I stole these very bad metaphors from Matthew MacNish's blog - go here to read more. It's worth it. :
The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

  • He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

  • She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

  • Have a great weekend!

    Mar 12, 2012

    When it's time to recycle your writing

    Tomorrow is the release day of PRETTY CROOKED by the awesome Elisa Ludwig. I interviewed her on my blog last September; since then, she's added a book trailer you'll want to check out here.

    You'll notice I'm a tad late in posting my usual Monday info. I was at a state championship competitive  hockey tournament all weekend and had hoped to actually still be there today. Alas, my son's team was defeated in the crossovers (with help from some very questionable refing) so we came home at midnight last night with our heads hung low. This is our eleventh year of being a hockey family; my son has played since he was four. Needless to say, every year games get more tense, the stakes get a bit higher as the ever elusive goal of a hockey scholarship nears.

    Last year's championship game - the Boy is #8
    I say elusive because there are only 900 Division 1 hockey scholarships in the nation. 900. Sounds like a lot until you consider there are tens of thousands of kids just like my son who can play pretty well. One of those Division 1 schools is the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. Number of scholarships they've offered to their home-state kids for hockey? Not many. Competition is fierce, folks, and there's always somebody willing to go play in the juniors or throw money at expensive camps Outside or that simply has more talent.

    Chances are, the Boy won't make the cut.

    You may be asking how this all relates to writing...although I'm guessing the numbers above are creating the metaphor in your mind. In case it's not, here's how: there are only so many publishing houses out there. And hundreds of thousands of writers.  Just looking at the numbers can throw you into despair.

    But wait. We're all multi-talented writers, right? Like the Boy - who has a talent for test-taking and, when he isn't being a bonehead, is a pretty smart cookie - we can look at the market for weaknesses niches that don't have as much competition.

    If  the paranormal romance genre is awfully crowded and agents are rejecting your vampire/ghost/werewolf/talking-spider story right and left, what other genre can you try? Maybe your MS is centered around a mystery or has elements of a thriller. Could you strengthen the mystery/thriller aspects of the plot and change the characters around a bit?

    Or you have a fantasy with an MC who discovers she's half-fey and has powers to rule/change/destroy the world. Unfortunately, it turns out that about half the other querying writers out there have the same premise. Your plot is so centered around this idea, you're totally bummed. But your MC is this mind-blowing, a** kicking heroine you can't bear to consign to the drawer. How about using elements of her character in another plot?

    Know this: nothing you've written so far is wasted. It may never be published but it ISN'T a waste. Step back from your creation and look at it like it's a house you want to sell. You've got to make it marketable, right? So try removing your emotions  - because the MS isn't your baby, it's your business -  and view it with fresh eyes.

    The Boy probably won't get a Division 1 hockey scholarship. But chances are pretty good that his brains will attract what his brawn will not. An academic scholarship at a Division II school is a real possibility. Sure, it's not as prestigious as Div I but an education is an education. That's our ultimate goal.

    What's your ultimate goal? And are you committed enough to reaching it to get creative with your approach?

    Mar 9, 2012

    How to launch a series, with Rachel Morgan

    Today I am thrilled to introduce you to Rachel Morgan, the intrepid author of the CREEPY HOLLOW novelette series that kicked off with Guardian March 5.  Everything about this project is so classy, clean and professional looking, I was dying to find out how Rachel pulled it all together. (BTW, do stop by her blog. She's got some awesome giveaways going on in honor of her blog tour that runs through March 15.)

    But first, check out her blurb:
     1. Receive assignment.
    2. Save a life.
    3. Sleep.
    4. Repeat.

    Protecting humans from dangerous magical creatures is all in a day’s work for a faerie
    training to be a guardian. Seventeen-year-old Violet Fairdale knows this better than anyone—she’s about to become the best guardian the Guild has seen in years. That is, until one of her assignments—a human boy who shouldn’t even be able to see her—follows her into the fae realm. Now she’s broken Guild Law, a crime that could lead to her expulsion.

    The last thing Vi wants to do is spend any more time with the boy who got her into this mess, but the Guild requires that she return Nate to his home and make him forget everything he’s discovered of the fae realm. Easy, right? But Nate and Vi are about to land themselves in even bigger trouble—and it’ll take all Vi’s training to get them out alive.
    is this an awesome cover or what?

    1. You are hitting your GUARDIAN launch with all social media guns blazing - blog tour, author site, book series site, giveaways - it's an impressive list! Talk about where you've gotten your publicity approach (a mentor?) and how many people you've hired to make it all look so professional and cool.
     Um, I haven’t hired anyone to help with publicity! And I don’t have a mentor either. (But I’m glad you think it all looks professional and cool!) Basically I just watch what other authors do and get ideas from them. The blog tour idea has been going for a while, so I always knew I wanted to do one of those. Then it just came down to what exactly would be happening throughout the blog tour: a “launch day” where I asked a number of bloggers to post about the release of GUARDIAN to get the word out; book reviews; author interviews (like this one); character interviews (those are fun) and guest posts. None of these are radically new ideas. For the book reviews, I didn’t want to only ask writers that I know, so I Googled YA book review blogs and searched for the ones that accepted self-published books. I sent each of them an email and waited for their response. The really scary part was when I then had to send out actual review copies for people to read! I was HONESTLY terrified!

    If you want to read some of those reviews, check out this list.

    2. Creepy Hollow is a novelette series. Why did you decide to go shorter and what's the word count difference between a novel and a novelette?Wikipedia gives the following information regarding the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and their Nebula Award categories:
    Novel: over 40,000 words
    Novella: 17,500 to 40,000 words
    Novelette: 7,500 to 17,500 words
    Short story: under 7,500 words
    The very first reason I decided to go shorter was that, after following several successful self-published authors, I noticed that they all had something in common: a list of published works behind their names, not just a single novel. Okay, great, so I wanted to do that too, but it would take me years to publish several novels. So I figured the easiest way to get several titles out there in a short-ish amount of time would be (obviously) to make them short works. Hence the novelette :-) That then morphed into a series of interrelated stories, CREEPY HOLLOW.

    I think it's a great idea - savvy, fun and a good business decision all in one.  

    3. So you grew up in South Africa and you're teaching Maths to girls right now. From your use of 'maths' plural, I'm guessing you're not living in the U.S. So where do you live right now? And what influences have you drawn on to write GUARDIAN?
    I am still living in South Africa, and we all say ‘maths’ (plural) here! It sounds weird to us to say math with no ‘s’. I mean, how can you teach/learn a single math? What about all the other mathS?! ANYWAY, getting back to the point. For GUARDIAN and the CREEPY HOLLOW series I’ve been influenced by a number of different books and TV series that I’ve enjoyed: Paranormalcy, Hex Hall, Graceling, The Vampire Diaries, Veronica Mars. And as for writing styles, I really enjoy the way Cassandra Clare and Stephanie Perkins write (though the writing voice of CREEPY HOLLOW is way more similar to Stephanie than Cassandra).

    Fellow teachers and I have discussed the weird singular title of Math here in the US. I have no idea why we dropped the 's'. It's a bit misleading.
    4. Now, tell us how this series is different from other Fae series out there. Why should we buy it?Well . . . I can’t be completely sure (because I haven’t read all the faerie books in existence out there) but I think (I hope!) that the main idea is quite unique: faeries who are protectors of humans. Kind of like guardian angels, but with magic and sparkly weapons and super-gymnastic attack skills! These faeries spend years developing their fighting skills so that when they receive their assignments they can successfully protect humans from dangerous fae creatures, all while remaining invisible and undetected by humans.
    This is also fiction that doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s a time for “serious” fiction, but I wanted to have fun with this series, and I hope readers have fun reading it :-)

    5. What's your goal for this series? And your next project?
    Okay, if I’m going to be honest, my goal (for all my writing) is probably the same as any other writers’ goal – to magically make enough money to quit The Day Job and be a full-time writer! Yup, that’s my ultimate goal, and I’m holding onto it for as long as it takes to reach it. And as for my next project . . . I am so consumed by the current project (I’m not exactly sure how many CREEPY HOLLOW stories there will be, but at least seven), that I’ve barely thought about the next project!

    Wow - seven!? I'm guessing you're a plotter. Thanks so much for joining us, Rachel.
    ~  ~  ~

    Rachel Morgan is the author of Guardian, the first novelette in the Creepy Hollow series. She was born in South Africa and spent a large portion of her childhood living in
    a fantasy land of her own making. These days, in between teaching mathematics to high school children, she writes fiction for young adults.

    Buy Guardian from

    The Creepy Hollow Series

    Author Info

    Friday funnies

    First time I've seen this clip featuring Johnny Depp confronting Ricky Gervais for his jokes on the Golden Globes.

    And one of my all time favs from Talking Animals - The Bacon Dog.

    Speaking of food, this isn't funny so much as COOL and GIMICKY in a temporarily awesome way. Meet: the Cupcake ATM:

    Click on the video to get an idea of how the machine works. This first one is based in Beverly Hills, where people there apparently don't mind paying $4 for a cupcake from a sophisticated vending machine. 

    Mar 6, 2012

    Second Campaigner challenge

     Since I missed the first challenge due to crazy busyness, I'm determined not to miss out again!  This one gives a variety of prompts and choices to fulfill - go here to see the photos and catch up.

    Flash fiction - under 200 words

    Fighting the Light

    It really sucked to be poor. As he sifted through the dump searching for food, Dem remembered happier days before his parents were killed by the lighting strike. Back then, the rain still came, occasionally so hard Dem would watch its glistening funnels dance across the river. Now the river was dried up, his parents were gone and instead of clouds, the sky was webbed with deadly golden tendrils of heat.
    "That kid is going to get struck," Lara said, lifting hair wet with sweat off her neck. Dem followed her gaze to see a child chasing a ball across the broken bridge. Tendrils coiled above the boy’s head.
    "Hey!" Dem yelled, already running, Lara beside him. The boy kicked and played, oblivious to the lightning above. Dem wanted to run faster but he was too weak; the light hit, blinding him. A hand closed around his arm, pulling him to safety. Something sharp jabbed his leg as he collapsed next to Lara.
    "We tried," Lara said. Rust from the bridge piling flaked off on her skin.
    Dem thought of the boy-shaped pile of ash above their heads. "But it's never enough."

    Mar 5, 2012

    Talking Origin with Jessica Khoury

    Jessica Khoury
    This week I'm thrilled to be featuring up-and-coming author Jessica Khoury, whose work I first read over at QueryTracker last summer. She'd posted her first five pages for review and I was blown away by her concept  (a girl scientifically bred to be the first of an immortal race) and writing style. I tend to do a bit of cyber-stalking when I find interesting folks like that, so I found her blog and discovered she'd just landed Lucy Carson of the Fredrich Literary Agency as her agent. Then a month or so later, she hinted that she had bigger news she was waiting to share (which in author-speak means "I've sold my book and I can't tell you yet!!").  Not only did she sell it, but Razorbill/Penguin has committed a HUGE first print run of 250,000 when it debuts in September. I don't have to tell you this is a dream come true for any writer...wait. I just did tell you that. Sorry.
    Anyway, the wait is over, both for her pub announcement AND her cover art. It's so fab I've posted it below.  I know you're dying to get inside Jessica's brilliant brain so I'll stop writing and let you read on...

    Talk about the origin of the title ORIGIN. How many titles did you go through and who suggested this one?

     The title was originally "Perfectly Pia," which was deemed too "chick-lit." And I agreed. So the folks over at Razorbill brainstormed and I brainstormed and we just threw ideas back and forth. We came up with some great titles, but there was always some little thing that was wrong -usually they were too close to something already out there. It was my editor who suggested it ultimately, and we all loved it.

    Before you signed with Lucy, she suggested some revisions. What kind were they - indepth or mainly fine tuning?

    They were actually fairly in-depth. The biggest change was the ending. I'd tell you more--but don't want to give anything away.The rest of the revisions had to do with pacing and information control and fleshing out some of the characters. In all, it took me about three weeks to do the revisions, which is a long time for me (I wrote ORIGIN in four weeks).

    And how did you know those edits were right for your story?

     Though the changes were big, they all ultimately enhanced my original vision for the story. Instead of changing what the book was about, they helped to make its core stronger. That was part of the reason I chose Lucy as my agent. The other agents I talked to wanted to see revisions that would have done the opposite: altering the story's essence and changing Pia's voice. I am thrilled with the revisions Lucy suggested. It's a huge bonus to find an agent who's not only a totally savvy salesperson, but an insightful--and willing--editor as well.

    What kind of edits did your editor suggest after you signed with Razorbill, and how did those differ from Lucy's?
    There really were no points on which my editor's suggestions differed. Laura's revisions weren't as drastic--thanks to the fact Lucy had already helped me shape the book into much of what it is. My editor mostly had me add information. She wanted me to answer world-building questions, add some new chapters, deepen some of the relationships more, stuff like that. Actually, during my revisions for Laura, the book gained a lot of weight. ORIGIN went from 80,000 words to 105,000!

    There's a reason why we keep our debut novels short, people! It's so the editors who buy them have room to deepen the story if it necessary!

    I've always wondered why it takes so long before you can announce a deal. What is going on during the delay between you knowing about the sale, and being able to announce?
     The reason we had such a long delay was because my publisher wanted all the edits to be finished before the announcement. So the deal was signed in October, but we went through several rounds of edits--from the major  changes to the niggly little details--during that time. The reason for this was so that when the announcement was made, we would be able to send the finished manuscript out as soon as requests for subsidiary rights started coming in. And an extra month delay was added because we were lucky enough to get picked up by Publisher's Weekly for the announcement, which meant we had to wait for them to print it.

    I've heard many authors don't get cover approval for their first book. Did you?  If not, did you have concerns about ensuring the cover fits the story? 
     I saw some preliminary cover work--and it was absolutely gorgeous! I am getting quite a bit of say in that process, though I haven't had any major complaints. I've made a few suggestions on some of the details, all of which have been graciously accepted and implemented. Really, the team at Penguin is fantastic. I couldn't be happier.

    How are you balancing the demands of a debut author with that of a writer? Do you set aside some days for writing and others for authoring?
    Well, since I've been pretty much embroiled in editing up till now, the two have pretty much been synonymous. I have spent a lot of time trying to build my online platform, but my brain is starting to itch for a new story. I am a pretty fast writer, so I'm not too worried about running out of time. Once I dive headfirst into writing, though, I don't do much else. So there will probably be at least one month this year in which I disappear from Twitter and Facebook, then reemerge later like some kind of troglodyte, manuscript in hand. I won't even think about ORIGIN during that time unless it's absolutely necessary.

    What are you working on now?  Right now I'm developing several different ideas. I have about six new projects in outline form, any of which I could start writing tomorrow. But again, when I'm writing a novel, I delve into it with a kind of feverish tunnel-vision, so I don't commit to anything until I know I have the time to really dig into it and get it done. My next project will definitely be YA. And it will not have vampires. That's about all I can say for sure.

    How has your drafting process changed now that you've gone through the whole gamut of revision, from betas to agent to editor?
    I've certainly learned oodles from my agent and editor. I know now what my weak points are as a writer (e.g., too many commas, not enough backstory, romance), and I'll be able to watch for those better. Just from working with Lucy and Laura, I've grown so much in my ability to look at plot, characters, and pacing more objectively, and I find myself often catching plot holes or dialogue flaws I might have missed before. I also know now what my strong points are and what kind of things I write best, and I can exercise those to the fullest. I can write with their past critiques in mind--and best of all, get immediate feedback on my work. So I think the most valuable change in my drafting process is that I now have stronger confidence. Before, I was always second-guessing what I'd written, wondering if it was total crap; but now, I have a lot more faith in myself and in my ability to evaluate my own work.

    Thanks, Jessica!  If you have questions for her, be sure to leave them in the comments. Have a great week!  

    Mar 1, 2012

    Friday funnies

    I heard of Dr. Horrible through the fantastic Carrie Butler and couldn't resist sharing:

    And it isn't Friday without some lol cats

    Finally, as I start a new WIP (this one has the Iditarod, wolves, a murder and a fearless young musher) I'm going to be keeping this reality in mind: