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Monday, August 30, 2010

How to send Requested Materials

Okay, just another quick post today. 

For the most part, requested partials and fulls will be sent via email, so this post is probably irrelevant--minus the cover letter.  However, there will come a time when you will need to send via “snail” mail.

So, you’ve perfected your query and you’ve gotten a request for a partial, or even better, a full.  Now what?

You take one more glance through your manuscript, looking for typos.  You don’t need to rush this, just take your time.  Chances are you’re going to miss things anyway.  But, if you even catch one that slipped by your beta readers and you, you’ll be golden. 

Don’t take too long though, no more than a day for partials or 3 days for a full.  While agents/editors don’t expect to get the manuscript the next day, they don’t want to be kept waiting either.  They’ll begin to wonder why it took so long!  Note:  There are exceptions, but that’s a post for another day.

Okay, so they’ve requested the partial/full and you’ve done your run-through, now you need to draft your cover letter, which is basically the same thing as your query, but it reminds them they’ve requested your manuscript and what it’s about.

Here’s usually what I used:

Dear Agent:

Thank you for requesting the partial/full of my manuscript, TITLE. I am pleased to enclose it, along with a synopsis (only include the synopsis if requested).

(Include the synopsis from your query here.)

I truly appreciate your taking the time to read it.  I look forward to hearing from you.


Then you print it and the requested amount of pages up, grab two more blank pages to put on top and on bottom of the pile to protect your pages, and secure them with a rubber band.  I always used two.  One to go lengthwise and another going widthwise, so it forms an X in the middle of the paper.

Then, I include a SASE and take it to the post office.  I usually secured the SASE with a paper clip to the cover letter, which so it didn’t get lost.

Now here’s the tricky part.  How do we send it? 

Well, remember, it doesn’t matter how fast it gets there.  There’s no need to send it overnight.  Save some money and use a priority flat rate envelope/box.  They’re red, FYI. 

There’s no real difference between boxes and envelopes.  The paper envelopes are plenty big enough for your whole manuscript, but they might end up being dinged up.  If you use a box, they might slide around during transport and get dinged up that way.  So don’t think too hard about this one.  Just pick one and stick your stuff inside it.
Then grab delivery confirmation, it’s the bright green one.  It will let you know the package arrived, but they won’t have to sign for anything.  That way they don’t have to come to the post office to get it, and you know it got there safely.

If you’ve done this right, it shouldn’t cost more than $10 (at the time of this writing) to send this along.

For email, it's pretty much the same.  Include the cover letter in the body, attach the requested materials and send following the agent's guidelines.
And there you have it.  Now all you have to do is wait for your manuscript to do its work. 

Good luck!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Interview with agent Natalie Fischer

I know I've already posted this, but I wanted to give it it's own page.  I'm pretty sure she deserves it!  I've also updated information and added links for you to reach her more easily, should you be interested.

Natalie M. Fischer is a Literary Agent and office assistant at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. An honors graduate of the University of San Diego, California, Natalie holds a B.A. in Literature/Writing. She started as an intern at the Agency in 2007, after which time she left to write author profiles and book reviews for the San Diego Union Tribune. Finding that journalism was just not for her, she returned to work full-time at the Dijkstra Agency in April 2009, and started building her own client list in September of that same year.

Read a typical day in Natalie's work-life here!

Natalie is actively seeking new clients, and is especially interested in talented, hard-working new authors with a fresh, unique voice and hook. Her specialty is commercial fiction, with an emphasis in children’s literature (from picture book-YA/Teen), romance (contemporary and historical), historical fiction, multi-cultural fiction, paranormal, sci-fi/fantasy in YA or romance only, fairy-tale/legend spin-offs, and “beautiful dark” novels. She will also consider select memoir (has to be really unique) and that amazing project she never even knew she was looking for! She is always drawn to an open and positive attitude in an author, good grammar, and fantastical, engaging and sexy plots.

The Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency is one of the most respected literary agencies in the United States. With over 150 authors based around the world, SDLA represents an impressive client roster, which is both selective and eclectic. Founded in the early 1980's, the Agency has helped guide the illustrious careers of many best-selling authors across a broad spectrum of genres, including Maxine Hong Kingston, Amy Tan, Lisa See, Melinda Long, Janell Cannon, Diane Mott Davidson, Peter Irons, David Landes, Mike Davis, Chalmers Johnson and Susan Faludi, among others.

Read more about the agency on their website, and follow Natalie on Twitter @Natalie_Fischer!

Want additional info on Natalie?

Agent Spotlight
Teens Writing for Teens Interview
Let the Words Flow Interview

And for kicks, a cheat-sheet of tricky grammar (so you don't blow your submission!).

Bio and picture courtesy of Natalie's website. 

JS:  How did you become an agent?

NF:  By writing and interning. By writing, I learned what the heck an agent was, and by interning at the agency for two years and doing first reads and edits for romance agent Kevan Lyon (now of Marsal Lyon Literary), I learned exactly what an agent does. After starting a position here at the Dijkstra Agency in 2009 and getting the green light in September to start building my own list, I was an agent!

JS:  Tell us about a recent project you’ve sold.  (You can skip this one if you don’t feel comfortable talking about it.)

NF:  Most recent project was a lovely, lovely picture book, called RED IS A CHILI PEPPER (title pending). It’s quite an inspiring story, actually, how this one came about. The manuscript was sent in to the editor last SEPTEMBER, and, only last MARCH did she have time to really read and decide she loved it! It can take quite a while for things to happen in this business (especially in children’s literature), so don’t give up!

JS:  Are there any books coming out now that have you excited?

NF:  Oy, I just want to catch up with my already-purchased reading before I even think about this question. I have a two-foot pile next to my desk of MUST reads, and a bookshelf of unread books to read…eventually.

JS:  What are you looking for right now when tackling the slush pile?

NF:  RIGHT NOW at this moment, I’m looking for well-written, steamy romances (I’d love to find a time-travel romance, or a GOOD Regency or Victorian, or something like Jude Deveraux’s TEMPTATION) and REALLY unique fantasy/sci-fi YA. As in, not just a spin off, but in a whole class of its own. Also, well-written, well-plotted historical fiction.

JS:  What are you sick of seeing in queries that come across your desk?

NF:  Vampire novels, adult chick lit, “this is exclusive” even though we’re a no response if not interested agency, rhetorical questions, typos, a FANTASTIC premise that isn’t well-executed, pictures, abuse memoirs, and really, anything that makes me go “ick.”

JS:  Name three things that make you stop reading every time they crop up in a submission.

1.     Word count 100,000 or over
2.     Present tense (this is SO hard to do in my opinion)
3.     Whiney, bratty, snotty, or rude characters (snarky is ok)

JS:  How do you know when you’ve got “the one” sitting in front of you?

NF:  If I’ve read it and I want to write back to the author at one o’clock in the morning OMG but have to restrain myself to remain professional.

JS:  Will you be at any upcoming writers’ conferences where writers can meet and pitch you?

NF:  The next event I have scheduled is a panel at the Ventura Book Festival in July, and after that I’ll be at the Society of Southwestern Authors’ Conference in AZ. Staying pretty local for a while.

JS:  Do you have any advice on how writers can maximize their success in this changing industry?

NF:  Keep reading. The best way to soak in what you want to write is to read it, see what’s out there and what’s working. Stay tuned to discussions on Twitter, blogs, etc. And keep on persevering.

JS:  What is something about you writers would be surprised to hear?

NF:  I’m pretty “superstitious,” you might say. Any time I pass a patch of clovers I look for a four-leafed one (my five-leaf clover is taped to my computer). I believe in gut “feelings” and intuition, like to consult the online magic-eight ball on occasion (though, so far, it hasn’t really been all that reliable), and am a through-and-through Cancer. I also keep thinking of these fantastic ideas for novels that I’m never going to write. L

I’d also like to add that I’m pretty approachable. I know most agents and editors scare the bejeebes out of writers, but really, we’re just over-caffeinated book nerds like you. I hate getting calls about submissions, but emailed questions I’m always happy to answer. 

And I’m obsessed with SUPERNATURAL. And cats.

JS:  Best piece(s) of advice we haven’t talked about yet?

NF:  One of my favorite quotes comes from Lady Gaga, speaking to her younger self: “Don’t give up bitch; you’ve got a long way to go.”

JS:  How hands-on are you in terms of editing? How much input do you expect to have with your clients’ work?

NF:  I’m pretty well known as a hands-on agent. I expect any client I sign to be open to suggestion, and I always discuss this upfront. I don’t expect to re-write a book, and I also expect to have to back off if the writer absolutely feels that what I’m suggesting is not best for their work. I really enjoy a collaborative working relationship.

JS:  Best way for writers to submit to you?

NF:  Hard copy, unless requested, then by email. Submission guidelines are available at   (NOTE:  Natalie is now accepting email submissions.  You can send them to ONLY.  Please send query, synopsis, and the first 15 pages in the BODY of the email.)
Bonus Question: What is your favorite way to relax on a warm summer’s eve?

NF:  Drink wine and play Pictionary with a small group of good friends.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Hey all.  I lied yesterday when I said I was going to do a post on how to send fulls/partials.  It will have to wait until Monday, because I'm blogging over at Oasis for YA.  So check them out instead!  Also, if you haven't heard I'll be mentoring a few authors at the Adventures in Children's Publishing blogsite.  This week we're working on short pitches.  Why don't you head over there and leave a few comments for these awesome authors?  I'm sure they'd be appreciative.

In other news, I'll be part of a blog tour starting Sept 2.  In preparation for my friend, Jordan Deen's release of her sequel, which I've had the pleasure of reading and think you will LOVE, she's having a blog tour scavenger hunt.  Complete with AWESOME prizes.  Go check out her website for details. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

To Nudge or Not to Nudge. That is the question.

Okay my fine friends, just a quick post today.  I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about response times and when to nudge.  I guess they figure I should know since I made it through the gauntlet of agents.  LOL.  Yeah.  Uh.  Hate to tell you this, but…all agents are different.  ;)

However, I can give you a few pointers.  The worst time to query in regards to response times is the summer. Now I’m not suggesting to not send just before or during the summer months, I’m just letting you know to not expect a response until well after school starts.  And then they'll still move in order of "first come, first serve."

If you sent a query in May, the time to START looking for a response is late September to early October. For a partial or full, start looking around mid- to late October.

For the rest of the year, here’s a pretty good timetable (obviously these only reply to agents/agencies that don’t have a no response=no policy):

Query only:  4-8 weeks.  It’s okay to nudge after this time has passed.  Then once more after another month has passed.  If they still don’t respond they are probably not interested.

Partial:  3 months minimum. Follow the same pattern as above, but I’d say you should be able to status query a total of 3 times.  It is a partial after all.  Unless, of course, that partial was a part of that initial query stage.

Full:  6 months minimum with the same status query pattern.  Once a month after the initial nudge for a total of 3 nudges.

Obviously, this was just my pattern and something else may work better for you, but you don’t want to go overboard and look like you’re a prima donna or high maintenance, so status query with discretion. 

Also, I would think it okay to nudge once on a no response=no agent/agency.  Sometimes things happen and things get lost in the transit.  So I always suggest getting a confirmation from the post office for snail mail.

Join me tomorrow where I’ll talk about how to send that requested full/partial. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

We have a WINNER!!!

And the winner of the long awaited and highly anticipated third novel in the HUNGER GAMES trilogy, MOCKINGJAY is (DRUM ROLL PLEASE):


Thank you all for participating.  I hope you continue to follow me as I've got some more really great things planned in the coming weeks.  However, I'll be rerunning posts for the next few days as I plan on diving into my own copy of MOCKINGJAY starting...NOW!  LOL.  I'll have my review posted (I promise NO SPOILERS) ASAP.

And for, Ezmirelda, I'm already on my way to the post office (Well, you've got to email me your address first  :D).  Please email it to j.souders (at) jasouders (dot) com.  Obviously replace at with @ and dot with  . but I'm sure you knew that already.  Hopefully, it'll arrive post haste and you'll be on your way to reading Katniss' last adventure soon.

And for those that didn't win, we have another awesome contest here.  To win an autographed copy of THE BROKEN LAKE!!!  Go. Now.  Sign up to win.  :D

Also, keep spreading the word about my blog site.  Once I get to 500 followers I'll be giving away some more books and when I get to 1,000 I'll be giving away an amazon gift certificate!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Penguin UK accepting email submissions?

Yep, it appears so.  While the publishing giant Penguin UK is normally not open to unsolicited or unagented manuscripts it has decided that for a limited time (August - October) they'll be accepting email submissions.

See what they've got to say here(NOTE:  It appears in the few hours I wrote the original and the time I'm writing this now, they've changed their site.  I do NOT know what this means.  However, I would still carry on as normal and if you were planning on querying, keep querying.  The worst they can tell you is they've changed their mind.  However, I do apologize for the inconvenience.)

People frequently ask us how to go about getting published. Our company policy is to not accept unsolicited manuscripts or synopses and we cannot enter into correspondence about unpublished work. However, for a limited three-month period from the beginning of August until the end of October 2010, we will be inviting submissions to be sent in electronically to the following address:

We ask that email submissions comprise a brief covering note and synopsis and not a full manuscripts. Please do not send attachments, please write out your cover note and synopsis in the body of the email. We remain unable to accept hard copy submissions and will not return or be responsible for the safety of any that we do receive, so please do not send any original or hard copy manuscripts to us. We will not contact you with feedback on your submission and will only enter into email correspondence with you if an editor within Penguin is keen to progress your idea. 

And people were saying that publishing was dying.  Obviously not if one of the biggest publishers in the world is ACTIVELY looking for new authors.  

So, if you've got that manuscript ready this may be your opportunity to really shine, but don't just toss together a synopsis and the first three chapters.  Don't rush!  You have until the end of October to get them that manuscript.  Give them, and your fellow authors, a break by making sure that manuscript is FINISHED and polished before sending it off.  And follow all guidelines. 

And don't forget to sign up to win a copy of MOCKINGJAY here.  Contest ends at midnight.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mockingjay Contest

To celebrate the release week of the Suzanne Collins' final installment of the Hunger Games series, MOCKINGJAY, I've decided to hold a contest.  I will be giving away a pre-ordered copy of MOCKINGJAY!  This contest is open internationally, but I do request that you give me a little bit of time to receive the copy and then send it to you.  The contest will close on Midnight August 24.  Oh and for those that are wondering how to follow Oasis for YA.  Click here. It's chalked full of great information for readers and writers of YA fiction.   :D 

Good luck!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fun Friday--I like to Moo, Moo

And for your viewing pleasure and a treat for putting up with me this whole week.  I give you...The Dancing COW!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

RWA Day 3: The final day (for me)

RWA Day 3-Final Day (for me)

Woke early (AGAIN) and then went to eat the breakfast provided for us. Talked with a few new people, who didn’t give me cards and I can’t remember their names.

Then it was off to the Writing Fight Scenes workshop which was GREAT! If you missed it, I seriously suggest you buy the mp3 or DVD of the workshop. It isn’t just about fight scenes. It’s about choreography. How to lead up to a fight scene. Even a little bit about sex scenes, since they’re about the same ultimately.

Next was another truly AWESOME workshop by a new friend Sandy James, called Freud Knows Romance. Another one I suggest buying the taping for. It really explained a lot about the Psychology of people and how to use that in your books.

Then I went to a dialogue one, which was good, but the handouts said everything she did and I left early.

Then lunch was a complete disaster. We were on our own and with 2200 other ladies trying to eat at the same time, it was almost impossible to find a place to take us.

Finally we found somewhere, but they completely SCREWED up my hamburger. I had to wait almost an HOUR to finally eat. I was not happy. Because that made me miss a workshop I REALLY wanted to attend.

Then I went to the Carina Press spotlight, which was very informative.

Then I went to the Goal, Motivation, and Conflict in the YA novel, which was also VERY good.

Then it was back to the hotel to pack and wait for my husband to come get me. I was sore, tired, and I missed my kids. Yes, I skipped the awards dinner and ceremony. I just couldn’t stand to be away from my family any longer.

Next year though, I’m going! I was so sad to have missed it. ☹

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

RWA Day 2

RWA Day 2:

This day is honestly a blur! It went by so fast! But I’ll try to recap here.

I woke early, my pitch running through my head. We went for breakfast and then I head straight to my pitch appointment. I was about an hour early, but I prefer to be early if I can help it.

Then I met with the editor and nailed it ladies and gentleman. I mean NAILED IT!!! I got a full request with a blurb for the sequel. After that I waited for Cate, who was meeting with the same editor and also got a full request. Not surprising, since we both have angel books and helped each other perfect our pitches.

After the mandatory celebratory sodas and bragging to our family members we went to our workshops. Fat-Free writing by the Grammar Divas was SPECTACULAR. It was recorded so if you can, I'd suggest buying the recording.

Then it was off to lunch with Jayne Ann Krentz, who’s basic point of the story was “Be on the cutting edge of trends, not the bleeding edge." Which meant, know your market and stay within it. Apparently she tried to commit career suicide approx. three times.

After that it was more workshops. First up was the spot light on Belle Bridge Books with the awesome Deb Dixon. Then it was off to Turning Straw into Gold. I honestly wasn’t that pleased with that one. I felt the author and her editor spent too much time talking about her books. Books I wasn’t at all familiar with and it left me with no idea what the workshop was about.

Then I freaked out because I lost my cell phone, but I didn’t. It was in my bag the whole time, but I was so panicked when I couldn’t find it, that I kept missing it.

Then it was time for dinner, and a swim in the pool, which was GORGEOUS!

The best part was after we were finished swimming we went to a restaurant/bar along the boardwalk and ended up talking to Jessica Faust about turkey legs, drunk swimming, and next year’s conference.

Ms. Faust, if you’re reading this by chance, do you believe me now that the turkey legs are made from Emu? :D

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

RWA Day 1

RWA Day 1

The next day started off on the right foot.  I woke early, and went across the lake to the Dolphin to register for the conference, then grabbed breakfast with a friend before going back to hotel room, to get ready for the keynote lunch with Nora Roberts.

Which, let me tell, you was a THRILL.  First we wait in this long line to be let into this HUGE ballroom with 2 Nora Roberts books on each chair.  I unfortunately didn’t take any pictures (forgot my camera), but I wished I would have.  It was beautiful.

They served us some kind of weird, but good tasting chicken that looked like it had moss growing on it, and then key lime pie. 

Then the highlight came and Nora Roberts gave her speech.  She is so HILARIOUS.  The main point of her speech was to say that publishing is hard, it’s always been hard and will always be hard, but if you don’t get into the pool, you’ll never learn if you can swim. 

She also talked about all the friendships she made through the RWA.  This year was it’s 30th anniversary.  I hope the friendships I made this year will last as long!

After that it was a quick rush into the bathrooms before the lines formed and then another rush down the hall to where the PRO meeting was held.

It was very informative, but I don’t think I’ll be attending it next year.  I’d rather go to the workshops.  But, then again, maybe next year I’ll be able to attend the PAN workshop.  :D  I surely hope so. 

The PRO speakers were Donald Maas, who is AWESOME!  If you get the chance to get his book, “Writing the Breakthrough Novel”  GET IT!!!  Then it was another author--who I’m soo sorry, but I can’t remember her name.  She won the RITA seven years ago, but somehow her next book was never published.  Then she lost her agent (mutually) and had a hard time finding another, but she kept persevering and now she writes YA and is a best-seller. 

Then it was time for the editors and agents panels. 

After that it was time to head back to the hotel and baby my poor feet.  Ladies, please, when they say wear comfortable clothes and shoes, they mean it.  I mean really, really mean it.  Next year I’m bringing Crocs.  LOL.

At PRO I was invited to the YARWA get-together, but the worry wart I was decided my time would be best spent getting ready for my pitch meeting the next day. 

Which I did, then I went to the bars to “network” with Cate before coming back and practicing my pitch again.

Monday, August 16, 2010

RWA 2010- Day 0.5

RWA 2010 Day 0.5

Okay, so I’ve finally gotten around to blogging about my first conference.  At first I wasn’t planning on writing about it because I didn’t feel I had enough to share, but so many of you have been emailing me and asking me how it went that I’ve decided to give you a day by day.  As short as they’ll be.

First let me start by saying going to Nationals for my first conference was completely overwhelming and I’m so glad I had my friends (and roommates) to be with me.

We’ll start with Wednesday as that’s the day I officially arrived on Disney property. Let’s just say, it wasn’t good.  LOL.

My friend and I arrived late.  Yes.  I know.  I live in Orlando.  How the heckleberries did I end up arriving late.  Let’s just say it’s almost impossible to 1) leave ontime in my house and 2) drive through Orlando without getting stuck in traffic.

However, despite the fact that we arrived with 30 minutes to spare, my friend and I ended up driving for 15 minutes looking for a parking spot (she refused to pay $12 for 2 hours—I don’t really blame her). 

So, we arrived at the registration desk at 8:01 pm.  It closed at 8.  I’m not even kidding when I say they were closed tighter than a virgin’s legs.  Crude?  Yes.  But, very, very true.  

That, of course, meant I couldn’t get into the First timer’s Orientation, which meant I couldn’t meet my roommates. So, my friend and I walk back to the Boardwalk where our room is and try to get keys. 

Easy right?  Wrong.  LOL.  Our names weren’t on the register, so my friend left me with my bags and hers to wait for our other roommates.  She wasn’t staying in the hotel.  I was. 

When they finally came, we fixed the registry, which took, oh only another 30 minutes.  LOl. 

But finally we get into our room (which was, of course, in the room farthest from everything.  Literally.  But at least we had a corner room and a patio that overlooked the pool.  

I finally caught a break when my friend Cate Hart and I went to Kimonos and listened to our friends and fellow Romance Divas sing at the Karaoke bar, before finally turning in for the night.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fun Friday-Silly Laws(A look around the country.

Today I'm taking a trip around the United States and taking a look at some silly laws that are still on the books. 

It’s illegal to wear a fake mustache that causes laughter in church.
Whispering in someone’s ear while he’s moose hunting is prohibited.
Cutting down a cactus may earn you a twenty-five-year prison term.
It’s illegal to mispronounce the name of the state of Arkansas.
You may not eat an orange in your bathtub.
It’s unlawful to lend your vacuum cleaner to your next-door neighbor (Denver).
A pickle cannot actually be a pickle unless it bounces.
It’s illegal to get married on a dare.
Washington, D.C.
It’s against the law to post a public notice calling someone a coward for refusing to accept a challenge to duel.
If you tie an elephant to a parking meter, you must pay the same parking fee as you would for a vehicle.
It’s illegal to change the clothes on a storefront mannequin unless you draw the shades first.
All residents may be fined for not owning a boat.
A man must not give his sweetheart a box of candy weighing fewer than fifty pounds.
It’s illegal to take a French poodle to the opera (Chicago).
The value of pi is 4, and not 3.1415.
One-armed piano players must perform for free.
It’s illegal to throw knives at men wearing striped suits (Natoma).
Every citizen is required to take a shower once a year.
Biting someone with your natural teeth constitutes simple assault, but biting someone with your false teeth classifies as aggravated assault.
If you keep your Christmas decorations on display after January 14, you’ll be fined.
It’s against the law to wash or scrub a sink, no matter how dirty it is (Baltimore).
No gorilla is allowed in the backseat of any car.
A woman may not cut her own hair without her husband’s permission.
It’s illegal to paint a sparrow with the intent of selling it as a parakeet (Harper Woods).
Walking a dog without dressing it in diapers is forbidden (Temperance).
Children may buy shotguns in Kansas City, but not toy cap guns.
It’s a felony for a wife to open her husband’s mail.
Bar owners may not sell beer unless they brew a kettle of soup simultaneously.
It’s illegal for men with mustaches to kiss women.
New Hampshire
It’s forbidden to sell the clothes you’re wearing to pay off a gambling debt.
New Jersey
It’s against the law for a man to knit during the fishing season.
New Mexico
Females may not appear unshaven in public.
New York
While riding in an elevator, you must talk to no one, fold your hands, and look toward the door.
North Carolina
It’s against the law to sing off-key.
North Dakota
It’s illegal to lie down and fall asleep with your shoes on.
You must honk the horn whenever you pass another car, according to the state’s driver’s education manual.
It’s forbidden to take a bite out of another person’s hamburger.
State law requires dishes to be drip-dried.
It’s illegal to sleep on top of a refrigerator outdoors.
Rhode Island
You may not bite off another person’s leg.
South Carolina
If a man promises to marry an unmarried woman, he is required by law to keep his promise.
South Dakota
It is illegal to lie down and fall asleep in a cheese factory.
Selling hollow logs is strictly forbidden.
You may not shoot a buffalo from the second story of a hotel.
It is illegal not to drink milk.
Women must obtain written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth.
Tickling a woman is unlawful.
It’s illegal to pretend that one’s parents are wealthy.
West Virginia
If you make fun of someone who does not accept a challenge, you risk a six-month prison sentence.
Unless a customer specifically requests it, margarine may not be substituted for butter in a restaurant.
Unless you have an official permit, you may not take a picture of a rabbit from January to April.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tip Thursday

I've decided to cheat and take Thursdays to point you to a few websites and articles that I've found in my own research. Today it's Creative Writing 101.  I hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Is writing your hobby? Or your career?

“Why are you wasting so much time and energy on writing?  You should really take a break.  It’s only a hobby after all.”

I’ve been getting this a lot lately, especially now that I’ve had to take an unexpected trip.  I went crazy trying to find something so I could stay in touch with my agent.  We’ve been working on some not so little changes to one of my novels and I have an editor waiting to see them.  I really can’t afford to be incommunicado with her.

 Even my wonderful husband, who teases me about loving writing so much it couldn’t possibly be a job, has done everything in his power to help me.

But to others, including members of my own family, don’t understand that while I may not be getting paid yet, this IS my job.  They only see it as a somewhat silly, but relatively harmless way to pass the time.  In other words.  My hobby. 

At first I was angry.  Okay, all right, I’ll be honest.  I was downright pissed.  Then I realized they don’t understand.  How can they?  They’ve been taught they’re whole life that something is only considered a job if they get paid for it. 

It doesn’t really count until I’ve got the green in my hand. 

While I consider this time I’m not getting paid, my internship, until I get “hired,” they will only continue to see it as a hobby.  They forget that a doctor isn’t a doctor until he goes through 8 years or more of unpaid training. 

Anyone in the publishing industry goes through some kind of internship.  Plumbers, electricians, glass blowers, all have apprenticeships.  These positions are all unpaid, or the pay is so pitiful it might as well be unpaid, but no one considers these hobbies. 

So what makes writing so different?

I’m going to venture a guess and say it’s because it’s fun.  Not all the time.  There has been plenty of times I’ve wanted to bang my head on the wall because a scene wasn’t coming out right. But, despite all that, we love it. 

Just like people who collect stamps or seashells.  They love doing it and though it may not earn them money, they keep doing it. 

So, I guess, if that’s the case, then yes, writing is a hobby.  But it’s also my career.  And I love my career.  :D

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tuesday Tunes

I'm away from my blog today and visiting my home away from home at the wonderful Oasis for YA.  Please stop on by over there and say hello!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Social Media: Friend or Foe?

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of questions on how important social media is to an aspiring author.  And the answer, unfortunately, isn’t as simply as the question.

It really depends on what kind of person you are and where you are in the publishing game.

Are you willing to spend several hours a week blogging?  Do you barely have the time to write as is and don't know where you'd find the time to blog?  Are you still learning the craft?  Or do you have a book coming out next spring?

Social media is a huge time suck.  So the key is to find something that you like and keep doing it.  In the beginning, you don’t really want to spend a whole lot of time on social media.  It’s not important. When you’re aspiring, an editor or agent isn’t going to pick—or not pick—your book because you have thousands of followers.  They don’t care.  It’s a bonus if you do, but it won’t make or break your book.

It’s better to focus on the craft of writing; that’s what’s going to land you your agent and editor. How great your book is. Not how many followers you have.

If an editor wants those things as part of their marketing strategy, they'll let you know.  And will help you set it up.  

If you feel you want to have a blog, and know you can keep up with it, great! Go for it.  If not, then maybe just have a website.  You can buy a domain name pretty cheap now days.  I only spend $10/year.  And you can use blogger, wordpress, or any of the other blogging sites to host it.  For free.

If you're going to do facebook, I do suggest getting a facebook FANPAGE, not a separate account for your author persona.  Accounts limit you to 2,000 “friends,” while there is no limit to the amount of “fans” you can have.  And it’s extremely easy to attach your facebook updates to twitter.  Which means you can update both with the touch of a button.  Two birds.  One stone.

But if you do facebook and twitter, make sure you interact with your “Fans.”  If you’re only using it for promoting purposes, it gets old.  Fast.  Make sure to “update” with something other than self-promotion.  Though it’s okay to do that, too.  As long as it’s within moderation.

Youtube is great for uploading book trailers and vlogs, but as with all social media it's important not to spend too much time and money on it.  Book trailers don't win you an editor and it's been questioned whether they really draw in a readership, but if you want one, go for it.  Just make sure not to spend a ton of money on it.  Book trailers can be made inexpensively at home.  The only usual cost is time.

So,what do you think?  Is social media necessary for today’s author?  Or is it just a waste of time since publishers do they’re own marketing?


Saturday, August 7, 2010

The results are in!

And the results are in! 

Just wanted to introduce our Secret Agent for the month, the fabulous Kathleen Ortiz from Lowenstein and Associates.  To read more about her please see the interview I did here with her.  Thank you.

And now, onto the good stuff.

Due to a number of reasons, she has decided to only choose two winners.  And those winners are:

In 2nd place, with her story, SECRET KNOWLEDGE,  Pat Esden!

And in the coveted first place, with her story, EPHMERAL, Hanna Howard!

Both of these lovely ladies have been informed of their wins already, so let's just give them a giant CONGRATULATIONS!

And as a side note:  Due to popular demand, I will be posting my experiences and notes from RWA Nationals in Orlando.  Please stay tuned starting next week. 

And thanks to all of you who have made my second contest a success. 

Friday, August 6, 2010

Blog Carnival: The Five Senses


Oasis for YA is having a blog carnival today and each of the Oasis Ladies was assigned a particular sense.  I have scent. Scent is a big thing for me.  You may notice it, if you ever get a chance to read my stories.  Here are the rules of this particular carnival: You've just graduated from high school and your awesome parents have taken you and your boy/girl-friend on the trip of a lifetime to the Seychelles Islands off the coast of Africa.  This (picture above) is the view from your hotel window. You have ONE paragraph to describe the setting, and you can use only ONE of your senses. Go.

Here's my paragraph on scent:

I stand at the railing of our balcony, letting the salty air and the fresh clean perfume of the sea wash over me.  A breeze blows bringing with it the aroma of the coconuts from my mother's suntan lotion and citrus from the oranges and grapefruits sitting in a bowl to my left.  Then I smell it.  The one fragrance I crave more than any other: the mixed scent of Irish Spring soap, sweat, and motor oil that can only be my boyfriend, Ben. His minty breath bathes the side of my face when he kisses along my throat and whispers “I love you,” in my ear.

To view the rest of the carnival and find out what the other fabulous ladies did with their senses please follow the bouncing ball:

Sight - by A.E.
Sound - by Nikki
Taste - by Jessie
Touch - by Sher

And we hope you'll join us.  Post your own description on your blog and link to it in the comments.  We'd love to see what inspiration you find from our prompt.

Monday, August 2, 2010


I am still waiting on the SA to get her list back to me.  I will nudge her later today and hopefully we'll get those results out to you soon!  :D