ASK AGAIN LATER’s Cover is Live at YA Highway!

Today is the day!  I’ve been waiting for this for so long!!

You can finally see the cover to ASK AGAIN LATER over at YA Highway!  Many many thanks to the ladies over there for being such excellent hostesses and generally excellent people.

Now get over there and gaze, people!  Gaze!!

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Oh my stars I owe you guys a real blog, but until I can get my act together, I have to have to have to send you over to Kristen Lamb’s blog.  She takes on the Star Wars prequels and schools us all in the art of story telling.  One of those posts that made me want to stand in my desk chair fist-pumping and shouting “YES! That!  Exactly that!”

And excerpt to get you running to read the rest:

Mistake #2 Heroes are not babies, and bad guys are not whiners.
OMG…I wanted to SLAP Anakin Skywalker. If the end goal was to make Anakin into DARTH VADER the greatest bad guy EVER…then no whining. Scene after scene of Obi-Wan just doesn’t take me seriously got old really quickly.
Yes, as writers it is a great goal to have flawed heroes, because perfect characters lack depth. But, I feel there are certain character attributes that will alienate fans. Whining is one of those.

See?  You totally want to read the rest, don’t you?  What are you waiting for?

– Liz

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Happy Memorial Day, Blogiverse!

I’ve again returned from an arduous journey tramping through the wilds of the Internet Jungle, collecting rare specimens to display here in my own little corner of the world.  I bring you…Link-a-Palooza!

First, in case you missed it, agent Mandy Hubbard took herself a little trip to New York and had a sit-down with dozens of editors.  What did she ask them?  The same question we’d all like to ask them:  What are you looking for?  And then she went and put it all in the Epic Post on YA/MG Trends.  Read, memorize, and go forth informed.  But remember–DON’T CHASE TRENDS.  This is just to help you know where to market your current projects.  Chasing trends will only end in heartbreak.

Next, agent Natalie Fischer (a.k.a. Princess Unicorn CEO) has some great revision suggestions with even more links to other revision posts on her blog.  Read it and weep.  Then do what she says even though you want to cry, because she’s right.

The Intern continues to impress me with her thoughtful posts from the safety of anonymity.  Her Thoughts on Universals will make you think long and hard about what you’re writing.  And you will be grateful.

If you don’t already know Hannah Moskowitz, you obviously haven’t been reading my blog very long.  But even if you’re old pals with Hannah, you should read her post on creating the playlist for her latest book, Invincible Summer.  She has a particular fondness for covers in her book playlists and I found the greatest site for finding those amazing covers that just may inspire a new scene, book, or who knows what.  The Site of Awesomeness Covered in Awesome-Sauce is  Cover Me where you can find the most unusual covers you’ll ever here.  Just be warned:  You may lose a lot of hours to browsing this site.

And finally, your moment of zen.  Watch it to the end.  Trust me.

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On the Awesomeness of J.A. Souders

This weekend, I got the only news I can think of that might excite me more than getting a publishing contract of my very own:

My awesome crit partner, best-friend-I-never-met, future-superstar, natural redhead, and all-around cool person Jessica Souders sold her amazing book RENEGADE to Tor Teen!!!

Seriously, I could not be more excited for her if she was chosen to be the Princess of Florida (that’s a thing, right?).  And I could not be more excited that soon all you people are going to get to read her story.  This thing is going to blow your mind.

Here’s the announcement from Publisher’s Marketplace:

Jessica Souders’s RENEGADE, about a female assassin in an underwater Utopia who realizes her memories have been altered and her mind and body aren’t under her own control, to Melissa Frain at Tor, in a nice deal, in a three-book deal, by Natalie Fischer at Bradford Literary Agency (World English). Translation: 

Are you in?  You’re so in.

So now, your job is to go fan up.  Trust me, you’re going to want in on this when this story hits the shelves.  You’re going to want in on it early so you can make like a hispter and say you totally heard about it before anyone else.

Go to her website, follow her blog, follow her on Twitter, and Like the RENEGADE fanpage at Facebook.  Got it?  Great!

How was your weekend?

– Liz

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Road Trip Wednesday with YA Highway

This morning, I’m diving into the weekly blog carnival hosted by YA Highway.  For this week’s Road Trip Wednesday, the ladies of the Highway want to know:  If your WIP was a song, what would it be?

For my latest project, there is a full-on playlist, but this is the one song that really sums up the whole story:  Bon Jovi’s (You Want to) Make a Memory.


Hello again, it’s you and me
Kinda always like it used to be
Sippin’ wine, killin’ time
Tryin’ to solve life’s mysteries

How’s your life? It’s been a while
God it’s good to see you smile
I see you reachin’ for your keys
Lookin’ for a reason not to leave

If you don’t know if you should stay
If you don’t say what’s on your mind
Baby just breathe
There’s nowhere else tonight we should be

You wanna make a memory?

I dug up this old photograph
Look at all that hair we had
It’s bittersweet to hear you laugh
Your phone is ringin’ I don’t wanna ask

If you go now, I’ll understand
If you stay, hey, I got a plan

You wanna make a memory?
You wanna steal a piece of time?
You can sing the melody to me
And I could write a couple lines
You wanna make a memory?

If you don’t know if you should stay
And you don’t say what’s on your mind
Baby just breathe
There’s nowhere else tonight we should be
We should be

You wanna make a memory?
You wanna steal a piece of time?
You can sing the melody to me
And I can write a couple lines

You wanna make a memory?
You wanna make a memory?

Now, follow the link above to the YA Highway and enjoy the song stylings of all the other Road Trippers this week.

Do you have a WIP theme song?

– Liz

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From the Depths of The Slog

I had a lovely conversation over the weekend with some fellow writers.  One of them mentioned a blog post she’d read about the Four Stages of Writing Development.  We didn’t have computer access at the time, so I wasn’t sure I’d ever find the meme in question.  But as is so often the case when I find myself wont of something, I give out my battle cry, “To the Google!”

And my trust search engine steed once again led me straight to my quarry.

Mary Carroll Moore’s blog was the home to this particular tidbit, which she calls “Unconscious Competence.”  I implore you to read the whole article right now.  I’ll wait.  You know I’m good at waiting for you people.

Ah, you’re done?  Excellent.

This is the part that spoke to me:

This isn’t a fun stage, even though it turns out better writing than any of the other stages so far.  It’s what my MFA teachers used to call the “slog.”  We slog through the writing now, not really lifted up by it, not really energized.  But, at the end, we have something pretty darn good.

I am Atreyu, and my first draft is the Swamps of Sadness

These days, I find myself deep in Stage 3.  Slogging my way through a first draft and wishing like hell it was my third.  But still, the words come…sometimes only 100 at a time, but they come.  And if you add enough 100’s together, you eventually find 70,000, right?  And then you’re not so deep in the morass any more.

Falcor, a.k.a. Unconscious Competence

Stage Four, I’m coming for you.

– Liz

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In Which I Collect the Wisdom of the Interwebz…

…just for you, my faithful readers.

There’s been a lot of good stuff in the blogosphere lately.  Or, maybe I’ve just been procrastinating too much, but the fact remains that I have entirely too many windows minimized on my desktop for too long now, and the time has come to disseminate the goods to you fine people.

First, Dawn Rae Miller’s love/hate letter to her Kindle made me laugh.

Next, Roni Loren puts the smackdown on the stigma against romance novels.  And I laughed again.

Then, Chazley Dotson compares revisions to building a Lego castle in a cave.  And it was true.

Finally, John Scalzi slays me again with his Electronic Publishing Bingo Card.  So I laughed some more.

And now, your moment of zen:

(Background:  This is a real Bollywood movie, but the subtitles are buffalax’s interpretation of what English words the original Hindi sounds like–not the translation.  Hilarity ensues.)
Happy Monday!
– Liz

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On The Mystery of Voice

As we all know, “voice” is one of the most powerful elements in fiction.  A strong, compelling voice will snare a reader instantly and will keep them through the duration of your novel.  A voice can make up for a myriad of trouble spots in a story.  (Not that you should try to write a story with problems, but you know what I’m saying.)

So, what is it?  And how do you get it right?

There are a kajillion blog posts out there about voice, though I still think Megan Rebekah did it best.  But I just found a visual example.

And that’s about the time my brain exploded.

If you haven’t seen the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, this probably won’t mean anything to you.  (Also–why haven’t you seen it?  Are you kidding me?)

For those of you who have, just imagine if the whole story had been told in this voice:

The creator, Joseph Brett, says this of his video:  “My aim was to make it look more like an indie coming of age film; perhaps the kind of film Sofia Coppola or Godard might make.”

He didn’t create anything new.  He didn’t manufacture moments from the movie–this story is there in John Hughe’s classic.  He just used a new “voice” to show us another side of Ferris Bueller.

What do you guys think?

– Liz

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In Which I Reveal My Weirdest Writing Trick

One of the tips I have heard in about a zillion places as a writer is to vary your sentence structure.  And that’s a great piece of advice.  But if you’re blazing through the first draft, you might not be thinking about whether or not you led with the subject in every sentence on a page.

So, here’s my simple trick:

I try to make sure neighboring paragraphs all start with different letters of the alphabet.  I actually like all the paragraphs in any group of 5 to start with different letters.  (Yes, I know, it’s anal.)

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not aiming for all 26 letters to appear on every page.  And sometimes I can’t avoid using the same letter multiple times, especially in dialogue.  But, it’s a good goal, and it’s kept me on my toes as I write.

When I’m really feeling inventive, I try to do it within long paragraphs as well.  It’s so much easier to look at one letter than the structure of each sentence.  And I do so love to do things the easy way.

Any more lazy girl tricks for me?

– Liz

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On Getting MY AGENT

**Many apologies to any of you who already came to this half-finished meme which posted automatically without my knowledge! I would never be such a jerk, I swear it!

Writers love How I Got My Agent stories as much as 20-somethings love proposal stories.  And far be it from me to keep you all in suspense, so here is my story.

I started querying my latest project back on November 1, 2010 (I was hoping to slip into a lighter querying period while NaNoWriMo was going on).  I started small, with 5 or so queries, and tried ever so hard to be patient.  The responses were good!  Of course, I got the expected rejections, but I was also getting requests.  I was sending out partial and fulls with every appendage crossed and checking my email like I was getting paid by the ‘Refresh.’

Finally, on a Friday in January, I got The E-mail.  It was from a lovely agent who wanted to schedule a phone call with me for the following Tuesday.  I read it, closed it, went back to what I was doing for a few minutes, came back, read it again and went on like that until I’d read the message about 4 times.  Then, I was finally able to respond (with minimum exclamation points, I might add) and we set up a call for the following week.

I spent the weekend tied in knots trying to tell myself it could be a revise & resubmit call, but knowing in my heart it wasn’t.  We talked, and it went well.  Very well, in fact.  I was excited and dizzy when I got off the phone.

Like a good little writer who spends all her time reading blogs and Twitter, I knew my next move was to notify everyone who still had a manuscript.  There were nine notifications in all, and they all promised to get back to me by my one week deadline (I couldn’t stomach waiting for two. I would have imploded).  A couple of them made me promise not to accept an offer before they could respond.  And one, it turned out, had already read my partial just days before and was waiting for her second reader to finish it before asking for the full.  She wanted the full ASAP.

On Friday of that week, I got my second call (from the agent who had read the partial and asked for the full).  She’d stayed up to an ungodly hour finishing my manuscript and her second reader did the same the next day.  Although my heart was slightly lower than my throat this time, I was still as nervous as they come as we talked.  It was another great call, and that meant I had a very tough decision to make.  I also had a few days to go until my deadline.

The day of my deadline was actually one of the best days I’ve had as a writer.  Because although most of the remaining agents decided to step aside, they sent me some of the most complimentary and encouraging rejections I’ve ever received.

Ultimately, I had to base my decision on gut instinct.  Who “got” my work better?  Who had a more compelling vision of my future career as a writer?  Who had more confidence she could sell my project?

It wasn’t easy.  Both agents who offered representation were great.  The decision was a matter of degrees, and a certainly “feeling” I got during out phone call.  Sending a message to the other agent declining her offer was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

So, it pleases me something fierce to announce that I have signed with Laura Bradford of The Bradford Literary Agency.  Laura is amazing! (And you should totally follow her on Twitter if you don’t already).  She’s funny, excited about my work and ready to dig into the submission process as soon as we can get everything ready.  I am so happy to be working with her I could just burst!

Please wish me luck as I head into the next phase of my writing life!

– Liz

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