Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Publishing 101: What You Need to Know

While I'm home this week, I'm trying to get caught up on reading the magazines that have piled up in my reading pile. In so doing, I came across this article from the July/August 2009 edition of Writers Digest and found it to be a concise and well detailed overview of what every writer should know about the publishing process. The article is written by Jerry D. Simmons who is a 25-year veteran of NY publishing with Random House and the former Time Warner Book Group. I wanted to post it on the blog as a great reference tool. Here's the link:

Publishing 101: What You Need to Know

Monday, December 28, 2009

Post Christmas, Pre-New Year

I hope everyone had a great holiday. As I get back into the blogging cycle, I'm pleased to say that this long weekend has helped me get back into my novel revising work. I'm so excited about the follow-up novel I worked on for NaNoWriMo back in November that I've decided to focus on getting that one polished now. I was able to write for two solid hours today, something that I rarely am able to squeeze into my hectic schedule. Tomorrow, I'm hoping to do the same thing.

Christmas was great, although my family had to change our plans as we had vehicle issues and we weren't able to take our traditional trek to NH. But it gives us something to look forward to as we're just postponing the trip for a couple weeks.

And now the New Year is coming quickly. This week, while I'm home with my son, I'm using the break from my full time job to organize my writing, revise, and set some goals for the new year. I come!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays everyone!

It's Christmas eve & I want to wish everyone a happy & healthy holiday. May we all remember the blessings we have in our lives: a warm home, food on the table, and loving family and friends that surround us. Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Quote of the Day - George Jean Nathan

This one is serving me well this week as I battle some unforeseen challenges of life:

"No man can think clearly when his fists are clenched."

– George Jean Nathan

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I Received The Best Gift Today

I received the best gift today. It wasn't expensive. And it didn't come with any monetary benefit. And yet it was awesome. Tucked in a holiday gift bag, hidden with tissue paper, I discovered a hardbound book entitled, "How many people does it take to make a difference? One" It's filled with pages and pages of anecdotes and motivational snippets, words to inspire and stir to action. And what made the gift so perfect was the hand-written inscription on the inside cover, "To Michelle, Thanks for all your hard work & dedication! Happy Holidays. PS At this crazy place, you make a big difference."

The greatest gifts of our lives are the ones that help us remember what's important, the ones that bring us closer to family, the ones that inspire us to be better every day.


Title: Gift Book: 1: How many people does it take to make a difference? One ISBN #: 9781932319729
Description: The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give your gift away. Throughout your life there's a voice that only you can hear. It's a call to the true value of your life - a call to make a difference that only you can make. If you never hear it, something magical will be lost. But if you hear it and heed it, then your life will become a wonderful romance and adventure. Each of us comes into the world with certain gifts designed to make life a better place for ourselves and others. We all have special gifts that we've never opened. This book invites you to open and discover some of honor and celebrate those special gifts...and, above all, to share them with a world that truly needs you. Hardcover, 9 x 7," 80 pp.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Opinions on Writing Contests

Did anyone else read Nathan Bransford post on contests last week? If not here's a link: All About Contests. I'm curious to hear other opinions too. I mean I can appreciate the advice about making sure you understand a contests rules before entering - very good point, especially when it pertains to your rights and any publishing contracts that may be offered as a prize. But I was really surprised to learn that winning a prize doesn't seem to offer any more advantage in the eyes of an agent. And here I thought it might give an edge. Huh, there's just so much to learn. So maybe I need to go back and rework my plan. Anyone else have opinions either way?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Writing During the Holidays

I don't know about you but this time of year makes it exceedingly difficult to stay focussed on writing projects. With holiday parties, christmas shopping, school events, and a myriad of other holiday committments, I find that my time is being pulled in so many different directions.

I'm still trying to carve out time each day to write but the amount of time seems to be minimal compared to everything else.

Anyone else feel the same way?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

Did you hear the news? This year the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award will feature two grand prize winners, one for General Fiction and one for Young Adult Fiction, and it will be open to novels previously self-published. This is going to be my first year entering the competition, and I'm excited to enter. I've got two choices of novels to enter, but both still need work. So the rest of December and January will be filled with revisions in preparation for the contest.

Open submissions for manuscripts will begin on January 25, 2010 through February 7, 2010.

Anyone else hoping to enter? Anyone have experience & advice for the contest they'd like to share?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Writing Contest Scams

The WM Freelance Connection blog had a great post yesterday entitled, "Spotting the Red Flags of Writing Contest Scams". Thanks ladies for a great post!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Writing Withdrawals

My eyes are barely open as I write this today. My son has been sick for the past two days, which means mommy is there for every cough through the very long nights. Oh yeah, and there was the ER visit on Sunday night. I am tired for sure. Which also means all my energy has been reserved for those important things like cooking and caring for my son. And Saturday was reserved for pulling Christmas decorations from storage, putting up the Christmas tree, and decorating.

So, no writing here the past couple of days, and I'm starting to get writing withdrawals. But hopefully, I can get a good nights sleep tonight and pick up tomorrow. That's the plan anyway.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Another Self-Published Success Story - Elf on the Shelf

And here's another example of "if you've got a good idea, it doesn't matter how it's published". As quoted from the Publishers Weekly article about the book, "A self-published children’s holiday book has become a bestseller at a major online retailer..." And from elsewhere in the article, "Sales growth has averaged 342% a year; first-year sales were a little over $100,000, and the company expects 2009 sales to approach $7 million." Bookstores are actually teaming up to meet the strict 12 book minimum, and there's now a waiting list for reorders. You've got to love it! And the most motivating part of all is: "Pitts said that when her family first wrote the book, a literary agent tried selling it to a major house but had no luck, so they decided to self-publish."

So guess what folks: write a good story, create a good product, and don't give up. You can do it!

Publishers Weekly Article: Elf on the Shelf's Sales Policy Works for B&N, But Not for All Independents

The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Break Neck Pace May Have Slowed But Not Stopped

I'm not slowing down. Eventhough the mad dash to 50K is over, I'm ready to pick up where I left off back in October. Today, I already finished a final polish of my children's story, "Petunia Wiggles, Giggles, and Hops". And that means it's ready to start submitting to agents, contests, and publications. I just need to formalize a submission plan and I hope to have that done by the end of the week.

I've also submitted my writing to five contests over the last six weeks, so results should be rolling in any day.

Next on the agenda, will be to pick up my first novel, "The Hidden Force" and finish revisions so I can submit it to the Delacorte First Young Adult Novel contest by December 31st. Then I'll work on revisions to my NaNoWriMo piece, "Hidden Force-The Reckoning" so I can submit it to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest in February.

And then more revisions if needed, and off to literary agents galore! It feels really good to have so many projects at different stages.

Monday, November 30, 2009

NaNoWriMo - Winner 2009

I am so excited, I had to share the news. On the last day (today) I got my final 2,000 words in to complete NaNoWriMo. I did it! I did it!

And for any of you out there still chuging away to complete your 50K - go! go! go! You can do it!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a quick post today to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! And for the rest of you fellow NaNoWriMo'ers out there, I wish you a creative flow of words to get you that much closer to 50K.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New Moon

I saw New Moon on Saturday and loved it! At this point last year, I had never heard of Twilight or Stephenie Meyer, and I'm so glad I stumbled upon it. The first book in the series is what helped me realize that my novel, The Hidden Force, is a YA novel instead of an adult novel, and helped me see that the YA genre is where my current focus should be.

Anyone that can write a book that keeps you engaged from start to finish has a skill, no matter what genre or label you want to put on that book. Writing a book like that is challenging.

So kudos to Stephenie Meyer and her writing. May my novels be as engaging as yours.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cool Video Promotion - watch this!

This is a super cool video promotion! I saw it on Janet Reid's blog.

Check it out:

And here's the link:

Friday, November 20, 2009

NaNoWriMo - 30,876 words and counting...

I've tried to spare you all from daily NaNoWriMo word counts this week, but seeing as it's Friday and there's only 11 days remaining...

NaNoWriMo word count (drum roll please)...30,876! Woo-hoo! Only 19,124 words remaining.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Support the Creativity of Youth

As I've written about in the past, I think it's super important to encourage our young people to express themselves through the arts. Whether its writing, dance, photography, music, or whatever their creative venue of choice.

For me, writing was an important part of my youth. It allowed me to explore my emotions and bolstered my creative confidence. If fact it was probably the one thing that helped me get through the awkwardness of growing up.

So when I hear about great programs that support the creativity of youth, I think it's important to share. I just learned about The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. If you know a young person who is artistically inclined, you should direct them to the website. You can also support their efforts by becoming a member or making a donation.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Event Alert - Bookfest Hackensack 2009

For those of you in the NJ area, here's an event worth checking out. Who can resist an event that has free books - not me!

11:00am (C) Bookfest Hackensack 2009
When: Sat, November 21, 11am – 2pm

Description: Free book giveaway for kids of all ages (and even adults) at the Johnson Public Library on Saturday, November 21, from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. Come join the fun, courtesy of “Read Now!,” an organization founded for the purpose of promoting literacy for young children, predominantly preschoolers, in the Paterson, Passaic, Hackensack, Englewood, and Teaneck areas. With the goal of helping these children be better prepared when they start school, Read Now! provides books for children to keep. They also provide trained volunteers to read to children and encourage parental involvement in promoting reading and literacy in their homes and communities. Refreshments will be served. All are welcome! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Urge to Read Won Out

I couldn't resist the urge to read. I know I had vowed to give up reading during the month of November so as not to be tempted away from writing for NaNoWriMo, but I coudn't even last two weeks. And now I've picked up a new book that sits on my bedside table, calling to me to open the pages and read through the words that make up the story.

So what is my newest book? Well, I was in Barnes & Noble on Saturday, and I was looking in the YA section (have to keep you with the books of my genre, you know) and I spied a book that I have heard a lot about and decided to take the plunge.

So I'm now reading, Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Very interesting concept, and a refreshing change. I'll let you know what I think when I'm done.

Monday, November 16, 2009

5,000 Words Seemed Insurmountable

I could have woken up today feeling self-pity and doubt, because that's how I was feeling last night. I had put my son to bed and fallen asleep in the process. When I woke up it was late, and I had missed my final writing session in which I had planned to get caught up in my NaNoWriMo word count. I had started the weekend having to makeup 5,000 words by Sunday night, and I'd only written 2,000 so far. I was tired, unmotivated, and feeling like the 3,000 words hanging over my head was insurmountable. I just wanted to go to bed.

And yet, something inside me said, "Just go to the computer and try to crank out 500 words, because that's 500 words less that you'll have to make up. Then you can go to bed." So I went to my computer, checked email, checked facebook, and finally made my way to the NaNoWriMo website. Going to the site gave me a small boost in motivation, not much, but enough that I opened my writing document and starting adding to the story. I hit 500 words, and somehow I had a flow going. I knew what I wanted to write, and the story was ready to unfold before me. I started to get excited about where it was going. Those 500 words turned into 1,000 words, and then into 2,000. It was now midnight. And I debated whether I should just close down the laptop and pick it up Monday. But a voice in my head said to keep going. Another 1,000 words, now that things were flowing so nicely, would come at a quick clip. At 12:45 I had my last 1,000 words completed. I had made it, 25,000 words completed, half way through my 50,000 word novel. Wow, it felt good going to sleep knowing I'd accomplished that goal.

So this morning, I awoke tired, but excited. I didn't wake up with a huge deficiency in words that I had to make up. I was caught up and ready to proceed with my 1667 daily word goal. In past years I would have succumb to the desperation and given up thinking the task was too big. This marks a turning point in my writing process. Before this I was lucky to crank out 1,000 words in one sitting, and here I am shattering my own ceiling. It's just another layer of growth, and I thank NaNoWriMo for helping me learn that a writer is always a work in progress.

Friday, November 13, 2009

NaNoWriMo - 18,014 words and counting...

Ok...I's been a couple days since I last posted. I've been burning the brain cells as I race to keep pace for NaNoWriMo. I'm up to 18,014 words and still going strong. I've got about 2,000 words that I need get caught-up with over the weekend, but other than that the words are still flowing.

And I'm actually having fun doing this! It has pushed me to make huge strides in just writing, no excuses, no waiting for inspiration, but pure blood, sweat, tears, and creativity. And I'm actually REALLY happy with the content that is coming out.

I posted a novel synopsis and an excerpt on NaNoWriMo if you're interested in seeing what I'm up to: novel synopsis.

I'll catch-up with you on the other side of the weekend.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How To Write A Great Novel - article

The Wall Street Journal had a great article last week and I was finally able to read it over the weekend, "How To Write a Great Novel". As I was reading it, I pictured myself as a writer highlighted in a similiar article and imagined what might be said about my writing process. I was comforted in knowing that not only is the writing process as long as multi-layered for other authors as it is for me, but also that many authors have some quirky habits.

I have printed a copy of the article and have pinned it up in my office to remind me that although the writing process is a lonely process, writers from different genres have similiar experiences.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Writing Priorities This Week

"Most people are so busy knocking themselves out trying to do everything they think they should do, they never get around to do what they want to do." – Kathleen Winsor*

What a great quote to start off another important week in my writing.
Today is Monday, and everyone needs a swift kick in the butt for the first day of the week and I am no exception. It's the day that I review my schedule for the upcoming week, determine prioritites, and set a plan for what I want to accomplish. So, it's pertinent to remember that some tasks have real importance and others are just hiding behind a guise of importance. So what are my writing priorities this week?
1. It's week 2 of NaNoWriMo, and I have a goal of another 13,089 words. I held a steady pace last week, and only missed one day of writing (and was able to make up some of it over the weekend).
2. In continuing with my plan of submitting my work, I've got 3 contests I plan to enter this week (2 poetry contests & 1 photography contest).
And finally...
3. It's time to resume submitting to literary agents, so I need to finish a final revision of "Petunia Wiggles, Giggles, and Hops". Then it's time to send out my baby to the first group of agents I want to target.
It feels good to put the things "I want to do" before other things that only pretend to be priority.
*"About Kathleen Winsor: American author Kathleen Winsor is best known for the racy historical novel, Forever Amber, which made a huge splash when it was first published in 1944, selling 100,000 copies the first week. It was banned in 14 states for its sexual content. The ensuing debate contributed to the loosening of restrictions that allowed works by D. H. Lawrence and Henry Miller to be published in the US. Winsor wrote a number of other novels, none as successful. She was born in 1919 and died in 2003." - quoted from Today's Inspiration newsletter, Waterfront Media, Inc.

Friday, November 06, 2009

I Couldn't Resist A Few Edits

Ok, I vowed not to do any revisions while I'm doing NaNoWriMo, but I couldn't resist last night. I had to tweak, and revise, and edit the story I'm working on...and luckily I was still able to make my word count.

And while I'm sitting here, I've been debating whether I should take the story in another direction as I'm not feeling like the plot turn I added last night is the exact way to go. So I may just do some revisions today too, but I still vow to get my word count where it needs to be.

My gut feeling is it's a needed direction otherwise I'm might get myself stuck too far into a plot that I'm suddenly not happy with...and then would come writers block...and disaster for completing my goal! So a little tweaking now, could help me make it all the way.

NaNoWriMo word count: 8419

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

No Reading for One Month

There's nothing like opening the covers of a new book and preparing for the journey into the world that the writer has created. So it pains my heart to go cold turkey on reading. Yep, I've quit books - for one month. In an effort to focus all my writing energy to completing NaNoWriMo this month, I've decided that I won't pick up a new book until December 1st (or until I complete the 50,000 words needed to finish NaNoWriMo). Yikes - 1 month without my favorite characters.

It's going to be tough, but I need to do it so I won't be tempted to curl up with a book instead of curling up with my laptop.

I'll let you know when I start having withdrawals.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

It's Tuesday and a Big 3...

It's a big day: voting in NJ, "V" premiers on tv tonight, and it's day 3 of NaNoWriMo.

Speaking of NaNoWriMo, I'm up to 3473 words and that's before adding today's count. And now I'm headed to the keyboards for another 1667 I go...because if I don't hit my mark I'm not allowed to watch "V" (and for those of you who know me, you know I'm a die-hard fan of the series from the 80's).

Monday, November 02, 2009

Day 2 of NaNoWriMo

Day 2 of NaNoWriMo...and here's a quick quote for the day:

"Believe that you can do it, under any circumstances. Because if you believe you can, then you really will. That belief just keeps you searching for the answers, then pretty soon you get it." – Wally "Famous" Amos

As you probably guessed, my blog posts between now and November 30th may be a bit shorter than usual as I focus on my word counts for NaNoWriMo.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Happy First Day of NaNoWriMo!

Good morning fellow NaNoWriMo buddies! It's 6:40 am and I'm at my computer to put the first words down on paper...just wanted to wish you guys good luck and a productive first day!

Friday, October 30, 2009

My Brain is Mush

I am sitting at my computer and my brain is mush, my fingers want to write but I can't think of anything to write. This is not good. I need to do some yoga, or spent a few hours outdoors, or find something, ANYTHING, that will kick start me. Otherwise I'm going to sputter out before I even begin on Sunday when NaNoWriMo starts.

Maybe I'll pray for a muse, or beg the writing gods for some inspiration. Or maybe, I'll just sit at my computer and type, type anything, just to get my fingers moving and my brain past the wall of writer block.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Writing Plan - Year End 2009

Ok I've fine tuned my approach of how I'm proceeding with my writing - the business side of things. Instead of putting all my hopes into just one project, here's my plan. I want to have several writing pieces that are at different stages at any one time, so as one gets published then there's always a next one either in the works or ready to go.

1. I'm doing some minor revisions to my children's book ("Petunia Wiggles, Giggles, and Hops"). I had it tucked away for a few months and now I see it with a new perspective and I'm ready to do some much needed revisions.  Then I will start submitting it to contests, agents, children's magazines - everywhere. I feel that it's nearly ready, just a few minor touch-ups. Then it's submit, submit, submit until I find the right home for it. In preparation, I need to review and tweak my query letters and here are some great tips on query letters from agent Janet Reid: 20 tips on Query Letters.

2. My YA sci-fi/fantasy novel, "The Hidden Force",  is still being revised. I know in my gut that it's still not quite where it needs to be. The plan is still to whip it into shape in time to enter the Delacorte Press Contest for a First Young Adult Novel - the deadline is 12/31/09.

3. Of course NaNoWriMo is only a few days away and that will take up most of my writing time come November 1st. By the end of November, I'll have an extremely rough draft but at least it will be another project that will have all the main elements and structure and will be ready for some revisions. Then that draft will be shelved until "The Hidden Force" is revised.

So, that's my plan! It's sounds so simple on paper doesn't it?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Process of Getting An Agent

Here's another great post from Rachelle Gardner on her blog, "The Process of Getting An Agent." It's a great look into the process from an agent's point-of-view. A must read for all of us, even if it's just a reminder that rejection just might mean not "bad work" but not the "right fit".

Monday, October 26, 2009

NaNoWriMo-Only 6 More Days!

Only 6 more days until NaNoWriMo...and I'm super excited (and silently starting to get the jitter-bugs in my stomach). Yes, I've done this before, I tell myself, but I have yet to finish this daunting task. On that note, I'm hoping to hook up with writing buddies - anyone looking to hookup on NaNoWriMo? I've pasted a link to my profile below to make it easier.
My profile:

Friday, October 23, 2009


This sounds like a very productive workshop for any of you children's writers out there. Check it out:
Date: Sunday, November 15, 2009

Place: Shelburne Hotel, 303 Lexington Avenue (at 37th Street), New York City

Time: 9:30am to 4:00pm

Here's a blurb from the website:
"3 Literary Agents, 3 Opinions is a seminar-style, one-day workshop designed by literary agents Andrea Cascardi, Anna Olswanger, and Ann Tobias to bring to children's book and YA writers much-needed, seldom-offered feedback on a manuscript rejected by agents and/or publishers..."read more

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Off track - Obama was here!

So today's post is a bit off track, but I wanted to share what happened yesterday. It started out as a normal day at work (yes, my full-time job), but by mid-day we all knew it was going to be extra special. Cops starting piling out of vans, and lining the streets on watch. And then we found out what was happening...President Obama was scheduled to drive by on his way to a political rally to support Governor Corzine.

What a surprise!

It was about a two hour process in total, and we weren't sure if he was actually going to drive by us or if it was just a shut-down of all the streets for security purposes.

And around 5:20 by golly President Obama's motorcade drove within inches of me. I snapped a couple pictures, as you can see above, from my cell phone. How cool is that?! I never thought in my life that I would be so close to a president. It was definetly a thrill.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It's a Complex Business, This Writing Thing

Who ever thought that "writing" would be so complex. As readers, we're innocent to the long, tedious process. I think most non-writers out there think that all you have to do is write a book, and it will easily slide into the bookstores, people buy it, and voila you're rich!

I, myself, never realized how tedious the whole process can be, and how hard it is to break out into the industry and then to make money.

Sometimes it's exhausting just thinking about it.

But, I love writing. I've written since I was in first grade (so many years ago) and I will write for the rest of my life. I just hope someday I'll be able to share my writing with the world. And maybe, just maybe, make some money out of it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Contest Alert - Narrative Fall 2009 Story Contest

Here's a quick blurb about the contest from the Narrative website:

"Our fall contest is open to all fiction and nonfiction writers. We’re looking for short shorts, short stories, essays, memoirs, photo essays, graphic stories, all forms of literary nonfiction, and excerpts from longer works of both fiction and nonfiction. Entries must be previously unpublished, no longer than 15,000 words, and must not have been previously chosen as a winner, finalist, or honorable mention in another contest.
Awards: First Prize is $3,250, Second Prize is $1,500, Third Prize is $750, and ten finalists will receive $100 each. All entries will be considered for publication."

Click here for more information.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Good News: Children's Sector Beats Market

I love to report good news, and particularly when it's about books & writing. I found this article on and it talks about the "Children's sector beats market".

Here's a piece of the article:
"The children's book market will benefit from strong growth in retail sales in 2009 and longer-term demand for digital books for children. Digital will grow as a result of the proliferation of devices such as the iPod Touch and games consoles, and the increasing availability of e-books on mobile phones.

These were the main findings of the Children's Conference, hosted last week by The Bookseller, and attended by more than 100 children's publishers, retailers and digital more".

How about that for a little silver lining in the dark cloud surrounding the industry!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

National Book Award Finalists

The National Book Award Finalists have been of which is a debut fiction writer!

Here's a quick intro to the article on Publishers Weekly:

List includes one debut fiction writer, three previous NBA finalists and the second graphic novel in the Awards' history

By Lynn Andriani -- Publishers Weekly, 10/14/2009 10:17:00 AM

The National Book Foundation has announced the finalists for the 2009 National Book Awards. One debut fiction writer made the list, as well as three previous NBA finalists and the second graphic novel in the Awards’ history. Farrar, Straus & Giroux landed three nominations and Holt two giving Macmillan five nominees. Random House has three finalists, one from Little Random and two from Knopf; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Norton each nabbed more

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Calling all Writers - A Contest Not to Miss!

If you have a work-in-progress and you want to see if the beginning is ready to get the attention of a literary agent, then try this contest over on Nathan Bransford's (literary agent with Curtis Brown Ltd) blog.

The 3rd Sort-of-Annual Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Challenge

I entered today, how about you?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Marketing - National Bookstore Day

Sunday November 7th is National Bookstore Day and a great opportunity for you to contact your local bookstores and setup a reading or book signing.

And for those of you with books in progress, you can still contact the local bookstores to find out if they are open to local authors participating in the event. They may allow you to read some of your short fiction or poetry, which helps to get your name out to the world. Hand-out postcards or other promotional materials (with the bookstore's permission) directing people to your website or blog. If nothing else, it helps to build your mailing list.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Brainstormed for NaNoWriMo Novel

I got up early yesterday morning, before anyone else was up in my family, and got to it. I woke up with ideas in my head for my NaNoWriMo novel. I had been toying with two seperate ideas but I've decided to work on a follow-up to the novel I'm revising. I worked for about an hour on brainstorming ideas and I feel good about it. I still want to create a chapter by chapter outline so I know where I'm going for each one, but I've still got time for that. Of course, I'm leaving myself open for any changes. As I know with my current novel, the story can take on a life of it's own and meander around in a totally new directions, and I'm ready for that too if it happens.

Yes! I feel really good about NaNoWriMo this year. 50,000 words here I come!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Contest Alert - 30 Below Story Contest—2009

This is a contest for all of you between the ages of 18-30 years old. (Darn, not one I can enter!) It's a call for a variety of artists: writers, visual artists, photographers, performers, and filmmakers. It's the 30 Below Story Contest-2009.

As quoted from the Narrative website:
"Awards: First Prize is $1,500, Second Prize is $750, and Third Prize is $300, and ten finalists will receive $100 each. The prize winners and finalists will be announced in Narrative. All N30B entries are eligible for the $5,000 Narrative Prize for 2010 and for acceptance as a Story of the Week."
Good luck!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Book Giveaway Contest - "Catching Fire"

There's another book giveaway contest I found online that I wanted to share with everyone. This one is for either an ARC or Hardcover edition of the much talked about new book by Suzanne Collins, "Catching Fire". I have it on my list of books to acquire & read so I'm entering the contest myself.

So if you're interested in the book, check out the blog, The Lateiner Gang Book Review Spot.

Good luck!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

NaNoWriMo - I'm ready!

I am SO ready for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I just updated my profile and signed-up to participate in this years competition. I've already been toying with the idea of what my novel will be about this year, but I still need to formally sit down and draft an outline.

Last year when I participated, I tried to do it by the seat of my pants. It was a great experience for me to not know from one day to the next where my story was going to go, but I also think it hindered me in trying to complete the 50,000 words in 30 days as I didn't have a direction. This year I'm going to have a solid outline, as I find I need to know where I'm going to keep up the pace needed to reach the 50,000 words.

It's a daunting task, but I'm up for the challenge. Any one else ready to participate this year?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Motivation - Where For Art Thou? (PART 2)

Ok, so my plan was to get up and get some writing done, remember? Well, I slept an extra hour after my alarm rang, and then, as my son was getting ready for school, he pulled his neck muscle while putting on his shirt. Needless to say, not only did I NOT get to my writing, I also had to spend extra time taking him to school, talking to the school nurse, and arriving an hour late for work.

BUT, I will say that I am even more determined to get some writing done today. I've brought my laptop with me and I plan on taking a trip to the park during lunch and working on some revisions there. So Ha!, I laugh in the face of procrastination, lack of motivation, or any other device that creeps in my way.

I'll keep you updated, as I wrangle my way through this.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Motivation - Where For Art Thou?

I've been lacking motivation the last couple of days, and I don't know how to get out of this slump. I know I have a lot of work to do to stay on schedule with my novel revisions, and still I can't get going again. And yet, I find myself constantly thinking about my writing, and where I want the novel to go, and what areas I need to strengthen. But, everything else has been taking up my time. My son has SO much homework to do every night that between that and cooking dinner I have very little time to sit down and write. Once he falls asleep I'm too exhausted. I want to get up early in the morning but I can't seem to get myself out of bed.

Argh - what a dilemna! Maybe I just need to give myself a swift kick in the ass! I'm going to head off to bed now, read for a few minutes, and try to get a good night's sleep. Maybe then I can get up early and write in the morning tomorrow. That's the plan anyway. Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Let's Appreciate The Act of Reading

As a writer and a mom, it has been a great process watching my 6 year old son learn to read. I think we all take for granite what an incredible leap that is for a youngster. For those of us that are surrounded by books on a daily basis, I think we tend to forget the effort it takes to get to the point of actually being able to enjoy the story in a book. When kids are learning to read, the majority of the effort is in remembering the sounds that each letter makes, and then stringing those letters together to make words, and words turning into sentences. At this stage it's often hard for them to enjoy the story, as most of the work is focussed on the reading of the words.

But I look forward to the day when I can see my son make the next big leap. I know that he will love the stories that books contain - he's a creative kid.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Author Success Stories-Good News To Prove It Can Be Done

Do you love to read author success stories as much as I do? Well, here's one from The Washington Post that gave me a boost in the arm when I read it. It's proof that even in this economy debut authors can still sell books and make a name for themselves.

On Web, A Most Novel Approach - With Promotion Money Tight, Authors Take to Online Sites To Toot Their Own Horns

Thanks to Ginger B for sharing this on her blog!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Writing In Different Genres - What's the Answer?

So does anyone else have this same dilemna? I love to write, many different genres, and yet I find that each book project I have in the works would require a different agent and publisher. Argh - is anything in this industry easy?

Here's what I mean. Here's a list of my current writing projects and the genres of each:

1. POETRY: My first book, "Do You?", was a collection of original poems & photographs. It has gotten acclaim as a finalist in two contests (The NY Book Festival, & The Writers Digest International Self-Published Book Awards), and I'd like to compile a second volume.

2. CHILDREN'S: I've completed a children's book, "Petunia Wiggles, Giggles, and Hops". I'm preparing to send it out to agents.

3. YOUNG ADULT: I'm completing revisions on my YA sci-fi/fantasy novel. The plan is to submit to two upcoming contests, and then to agents.

4. SELF-HELP: I've got rough draft pages on a Self-Help Management Book I've been preparing over the last few years. It still needs a lot of work before it's close to completion and I need to map a plan to finish it.

5. ADULT: I've got plans to write an adult novel for NaNoWriMo in November.

I just love to write, and I love to experiment with different styles. I know most agents will want me to associate myself with one genre to gain momentum with that particular fan base, and I'm certainly willing to commit myself to writing more in one genre once I get committments, but why not keep myself open to all writing styles, because you never know which one will be the ONE. Right? Anyone else have an opinion on this?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Schools Building Readers and Writers for the Future

Tonight was "Back To School Night" at my son's school, and it reminded me how important teachers are to all of us. I was amazed at how much a 1st grader is expected to learn in one year, and even more amazed at the grace, enthusiasm, and skill of the teachers that tackle this task.

It was also nice to see a strong emphasis on writing and storytelling at such a young age. In first grade, kids are already learning to craft stories, explore their opinions about character & plot, and even to debate key elements of the stories they read. They have individual and group reading time, and are expected to read 20 minutes per day every day.

Teachers and schools are building platforms for great readers and the potential for great writers into the future. Keep up the great work!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On a Roll with Novel Revisions

I'm happy to report I've been on a roll with novel revisions lately. My son was home sick the past two days and I was able to somehow sit in front of the laptop and get some writing done. I'm still working hard to make the October 31st deadline I've placed for myself, so that I can focus on a new project for NaNoWriMo.

Hopefully tonight I'll be able to carve out more time to write. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

National Punctuation Day

Have you heard about this...National Punctuation Day is coming on September 24, 2009. Mark your calendars! :

1. Become familiar with the punctuation rules and issues on the website.
2. Organize punctuation activities at your school, library, or office.
3. Share punctuation peeves with NPD founder Jeff Rubin at

4. Send photos of incorrectly punctuated signage to Jeff Rubin at

5. Forward this website to your friends, teachers, and co-workers as a way to spread the importance of proper punctuation.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Crafting a Press Release That Gets Results

Press releases are an essential part of any book marketing program. I blogged about my press release formula back in July, but here's some additional information on crafting a press release that gets results. Check out this article on called  "Anatomy of a Pitch-Perfect Press Release - How to craft a release that gets results"

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Writing at 2:44 am

It's 2:44 am and I'm writing. Can't sleep. I tried everything to succumb to sweet slumber but alas nothing has worked. It could be the soda I drank in the afternoon, it could be the stresses and anxiety of daily life, or it could just be my time to get in a little writing.

Either way, I have opened up my novel on my laptop and I am working on revisions.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What is YA Literature Anyway?

I was over at today and I stumbled on a great post by Mary Pearson, "What YA Lit Is and Isn't". I found it to be a great read, especially considering I write and love to read YA (young adult) books. For any of you that fit that category, or are intrigued by it, this post is worth a gander. And while you're at it, read through the comments that follow, because there are some good gems there too (and some books suggestions to add to the reading list).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Books and Movies

Every time I see a movie based on a book, I wonder if my book will one day have the same fate. There have been some great movie renditions: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Harry Potter, Twilight (just to name a few). And then there have been some flops, poor adaptations of the original story: Eragon is the first one that comes to mind for me.

It always makes me think about my own book. Will my book have the opportunity to make it to the movie level? And if so, what could I do to ensure it has a movie that is true to my vision and a sound recreation of the story. Right now I don't have the answers to those questions...I don't have the experience to know what the right decisions would be.

Anyway, there are some upcoming movies, that started as books, that I am anxiously awaiting the release of: The Lovely Bones, New Moon, and The Lightning Thief.

Are there some upcoming movies that you are looking forward to?

Monday, September 14, 2009

One Book in 168 Million!

My book is one in 168 million - how about those odds! Google is putting together this master database of all the books in the world and they've amassed a count of 168 million books. So what does that mean for us, the writers of those 168 million books? First off, the story had better be good, not just good, but amazing. It must be so full of life that it can hardly be contained between the front and back covers. It should be so engrossing that all it needs is that first reader, and that person recommends it to another, who in turn tells someone else...anyway you get the picture.

And our book had better stand out, we had better give it a voice outside the covers. Because getting published (or self-published) is really only the beginning. A book hidden in a warehouse or relegated to someone's back office is not going to become the next big thing if noone knows about it. So we have to actually tell people about it, jump on the social media sites, send out press releases, maybe hire a PR group, do book tours, and just talk to anyone who will listen.

And lastly, we need to believe. Believe in the book, and believe that your work is important enough to compete against all 168 million books...and counting.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sept 11th Attack Anniversary

I was living in NYC when the September 11th Attack happened. It is a time that I will never forget as long as I live. I worked only a few blocks from the location of the attack and for months I had daily reminders of what happened. Ultimately my husband and I moved out of the city, but we never moved too far.
I wrote this on the 1 year anniversary of the terroist attack on the World Trade Center. I posted it last year on the blog, and I feel compelled to post it again in honor of this years anniversary. May we never forget...

Can You Believe
Can you believe,
It’s been a year?
A year of tears,
A year of fear.
A selfish enemy took so much,
An ignorant enemy gave us much more.
Precious lives of many are gone,
Lives of so many more carry on.
We’ve gained a greater understanding,
Of freedom, love, and compassion.
It’s sad to say that tragedy alone,
Has the ability to set that tone.
We’ve cried tears together,
Remembered together,
And now we must heal and move on together.
Never Forget 9/11/01, Flags of freedom wave on.
photo credit: Michelle Reynoso

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Quote of the Day - Dorothea Brande

"All that is necessary to break the spell of inertia and frustration is this: Act as if it were impossible to fail."

– Dorothea Brande

Wow, what a quote! I think we need to follow those words all the way to success, even on the days that we have writers block, or we're feeling the writing blahs. In other words, just do it!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Writing is Like Starting A New Year at School

I sent my son to first grade today. It's a big accomplishment for him considering last year turned into a struggle. He got hit with challenges and he didn't know how to cope with towards the end. So after a summer of practicing and talking through it, I'm hoping he's much better equipped for this school year.

And even in that there is a lesson for writing. We may get frustrated, and get to a point in our writing where we don't know what to do next, but if we step back and practice, reach out to someone more experienced to talk us through the challenges, then we can step back in the game...and succeed.

So in this time of year of new beginnings, I wish you all a fresh outlook, and a new beginning in your writing. Think of it as starting a new grade in school, and stepping one level closer to the finish line.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Local Newspaper Features Me in an Article

Another local newspaper featured me in an article last week, and I am super excited! The County Seat ran a piece last week titled, Hackensack Author Earns NY Book Festival Nod. I've posted a copy of the article on my website for easier viewing.
Thank you again to everyone who has shown me such incredible support!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Contest Alert - Midwest Book Awards

For anyone who has published a book in 2009, the 20th Annual Midwest Book Awards is now accepting entries. For more information, go to the Midwest Independant Publishers Association (MIPA) website.

Good luck!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

How Can You Help a Writer?

How can you help a friend who is a writer? Well, the best answer to that is so eloquently said by Nathan Bransford in his recent blogpost Writer Appreciation Week: Published Authors!...and the short answer is to buy a copy of their book.

Here's a quote from Nathan's post:
"How can you help out these writers, the ones whose book you happened to hear about on a blog or picked up off the street or checked out at the library and loved? The best way: buy a new book."

I'm constantly buying books, it's just part of understanding what's out there, and learning about the craft of writing, and keeping the creative juices churned up. But I have to admit that sometimes I overlook supporting the "little books" as the big books are hyped-up so much more.

So, I turned the corner today and purchased a copy of "From Where The Rivers Come" by Terin Miller. He's a fellow finalist in the 2009 Book Festival, and I had been meaning to pick up a copy of his book. So I made today the day to do it, and now I can't wait for my copy to arrive. Check out Terin's website, and order a copy of his book on Amazon.

And by-golly help support writers by buying our books. Every sale helps us gain leverage in this topsy-turvy industry.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

I'm Writing Again, and Not Just Revisions

"I'm baaaaaack!" And excited as ever! It feels good to work on some writing outside of just revisions.

I mailed out contest entries today to: The Emerging Writers Awards (with a copy of my children's story: Petunia Wiggles Giggles and Hops), and The Garden Verse Poetry Competition (with a new poem that I was inspired to write today titled, "Crickets Wings")

It feels good to have the creative juices creeping back in.

And on top of that I also did some revisions to The Hidden Force yesterday, and I have plans to work on more revisions tomorrow.

Woo-hoo!! I needed writing back in my life. If feels really good.

Monday, August 31, 2009

National Book Awards - Big News!

This is big news...for the first time in history The National Book Awards will open up voting to the general public for The Best of the National Book Awards Fiction. Voting commences on September 21st, and if you vote you can be entered into a contest to win two tickets to the 2009 National Book Awards event.

For more information check out the National Book Foundation's website.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Blog Change

I've been trying to keep up with updates every day of the week for the blog, but starting today I will be updating Monday through Friday only. This move is an attempt to open up even more time for my writing projects on the weekend, which is when I actually have larger chunks of time to devote to them. In addition, I find I get much fewer responses to blog posts on the weekend than I do during the week, so you all are probably doing the same thing too.

Of course, this doesn't mean I won't submit an occasional blog post on the weekend when I have some juicy news to share or when I get smacked on the head with a major writing epiphany.

So have a great weekend everyone - catch you on the other side.

My Poetry - Punctured and Porous, I Become

As I mentioned in yesterday's blog I've been working on some poetry as a source of catharsis during this difficult family time, and I wanted to post one of my poems today.

Thanks for the encouragement T. Anne!

Punctured and Porous, I Become

Death punctured a hole in my soul, not the first and not the last, and bequeathed as its gift a perpetual emptiness.

The longer I live, the more punctured and porous I become, growing ever more so with each loss.

I stand poised and proper, as dictated, yet left with little more than an aging shell and a fragmented spirit.

Elusive power - Change this life-death cycle! But alas that power belongs to mythic gods, of which I am not - I am only
skin, and bones, and fingernails, and hair.

Death must live, and life must die.

This is our legacy.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back In The Swing of Things

I'm trying to get back in the swing of things. During this time, juggling my responsibilities with the emotional flux has been the biggest challenge. I've been having a hard time sleeping at night. Most of my energy is spent on keeping up a facade during the day at work, and at night for my son. But it has been hard. Yesterday I realized how much I needed to get back to writing. I've pulled out my notebook and started working on some poetry as an outlet for dealing with everything that's going on. The novel revisions have been pushed to the side yet again, but this time for a very good reason. Right now I need the quick emotional vent that poetry has always provided for me.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Blogging Hiatus for a Few Days

My apologies for disappearing for a couple days. I'll be taking a few days hiatus as I received news this weekend that my father-in-law passed away. It's a sad time. Please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Book Giveaway Contest - 16 books & walmart giftcard

If you love to read, check out this cool contest for a motherload of free books. Check out Cindy's website for contest details: 16 books & a walmart giftcard. Books include: Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, Along For the Ride by Sarah Dessen, a preorder for Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins and many more.

Don't miss this opportunity.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Upcoming Events

There are two upcoming events that I wanted to mention in today's post. The first one I stumbled upon on a fellow writing blogger's website. Thanks Beth and Congrats on your nomination. Check out Book Blogger Appreciation Week, September 14-18, 2009. And the other event is this year's NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The event itself begins November 1st, but now is the time to start some prep work like coming up with a solid story idea and drafting an outline. Some people just like to fly by the seat of their pants and create it all from scratch the first day, but I need ground work laid out. I've participated twice, but have yet to complete the challenge. This year my sights are set on finishing the 175 page, 50,000 word goal. Anyone else up for the challenge?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Business of Publishing - Book Publishing Glossary

I nearly missed this blog post by Nathan Bransford, Literary Agent with Curtis Brown Ltd., but I'm so glad I didn't. This is useful on so many levels. He's taken the time to compile a list of book publishing terms with quick definitions for each in his blog post entitled, Book Publishing Glossary. This is a must read for anyone still learning the ropes of the industry.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Contest Alert - Bellwether Prize for Fiction

And here's another contest, The Bellwether Prize for Fiction. This contest is for writers of "serious literary fiction that addresses issues of social justice and the impact of culture and politics on human relationships."

The top prize is $25,000 and guaranteed publication by a major U.S. publishing house.

Good luck!

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Cat is Taking Over the Keyboard

And today's guest blogger is my cat, Felix. And here's what he has to say: "=========================================================\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\="

Yep, Felix is at it again, helping me to write. It's actually lunch time and I sat down to write today's blog and here comes Felix. Anyway, back to business.

I got up this morning and resumed my morning stretches to Sunrise Earth (I blogged about this earlier, check out the link). It was a great start to the day. It was nice travelling to British Columbia even for just a few minutes. //(Sorry, Felix is at it again. Now he's covering half the keyboard with his body, while I'm fighting for the other half).

Anyway, A reminder popped-up on my Outlook Calendar this morning and I wanted to pass it on. The Emerging Writer Awards contest deadline is approaching on August 31st.

I think that's it for the post today as I'm slowly losing the battle for the keyboard. Talk to all tomorrow!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Inspiration - The First 30 Days

Inspiration seems to have been an unintentional trend this week. I don't know if you're like me but harnessing inspiration on a daily basis is a constant struggle. Many days I try to write even without inspiration, but of course it's easier to write with inspiration.

So to keep with the theme of "inspiration", I wanted to share a website/newsletter/book that I recently rediscovered. I had heard about this a few years ago on Oprah, and came across an old email newsletter from them again recently. It's called "The First 30 Days". It's great advice, motivation, and inspiration for the first 30 days of any new life-changing project.

For me, the most helpful section has been, Pursuing Your Dreams. So I just signed-up for the free newsletter so I can receive inspiration and tips in my email every morning. If you're in need of a little inspiration and advice, check out the The First 30 Days website.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Here's To A Spark of Inspiration

I'm sitting in a quiet apartment, husband away, son asleep, cat off to the other room, no tv, no radio-no distractions, and I'm perched at my laptop like a bird on a branch. I have a cup of ice beside me, and I'm revising. After a week of writing blahs, I'm inspired once again. I'm determined to make progress on this chapter tonight.

May you all have a spark of inspiration this weekend!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Character Inspiration

While waiting in the doctor's office last night, I was intrigued by an elderly lady who was also in the waiting room. Before we even starting speaking to each other, I was drawn to her. There was just something about her. And then we started talking. I learned a lot about in her in our short 10 minute conversation.

And then it hit me...she would make an excellent character for a story. So, after she left the waiting room, I jotted some notes down on my phone. I described her appearance, parts of our conversation, and what I learned about her in that short time.

Now I'll file it away until I have a story that needs an elderly lady as a character.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Writing Tools - Test Your Story Ideas

I get Writers Digest email updates quite frequently, and today I got an email about N.M. Kelby’s new book called The Constant Art of Being a Writer. I read through the synopsis and the book sounds like a great tool that offers writing strategies and techniques. If you want to learn more you can even read an excerpt of chapter 13 titled, "Test Your Story Ideas".

Here's a quick blurb about the excerpted chapter:
"In this excerpt from award-winning novelist and short story writer N.M. Kelby’s The Constant Art of Being a Writer, you’ll learn how to:
• Determine whether a story idea is sustainable
• Use conflict to make your idea stronger
• Evaluate your characters and their place in your story..."read more

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

2009 National Book Festival

I wish I lived closer to Washington DC so I could participate in the 2009 National Book Festival. Any event that celebrates books and reading is an event worth attending. This year's event is going to be held on September 26th, and the list of authors that are participating is a who's who from several genres including: childrens, teens, mysteries & thrillers, history & biography, fiction & fantasy, and poetry & prose. So if you're going to be in the area, check out the free event. In the meantime, check out past years' webcasts.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I'm Back and Ready to Talk BLOGS!

I'm back from a two day hiatus as I was dealing with family events and issues. But now I'm back and ready to tackle this week with enthusiasm.

I thought a good way to start the week might be to talk about blogs, marketing them in particular, as many of you have blogs just like me. Here's an article from SocialMedia Today that's all about that very subject: How To Market Your Blog.

I've been using LinkedIn and Facebook as my main sources for getting the word out. They have both proven useful. Have you guys found other useful methods of letting people know about your blogs? I'm always open to new avenues.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Quote of the Day - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Quote of the Day

"Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody."
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

About Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a beloved American poet of the 19th century, is best known for "The Song of Hiawatha" and "Evangeline." He was born in Maine in 1807. He knew Latin by the age of six, and when he taught at Bowdoin College, he wrote the textbooks himself. He courted his second wife while teaching at Harvard and frequently walked the several miles from Cambridge to Boston across the West Boston Bridge. The bridge that replaced it was named the Longfellow Bridge in his honor. He died in 1882.

(content from The Everyday Health Network's Daily Inspiration Newsletter)

Friday, August 07, 2009

Writers Resource - The Writers and Artists Yearbook

The Writers and Artists website relaunched this week, and I wasn't familiar with it until I saw a blurb about in on the Briefing Editor from It looks like a great resource...check it out.

Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook online
For over 100 years the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook has existed to help unpublished writers make it into print, assist established authors, journalists and others who want to develop their career, and give artists the encouragement and information they need to exhibit or publish their work.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Agent Submission - Update

Another rejection letter, and yet I'm doing a happy dance. Yes, I did just say that. The rejection letters won't daunt me, because I'm feeling more confident than ever about my novel. I've done so much revision work since submitting it that it's finally whipping into shape. And yet, I know that I still have more work to do to make it as polished as it needs to be. I don't just want a mediocre novel, I want a GREAT novel!

Plus, it fits in with my revised plan-of-action for this novel, which is revising until October (if needed), then submitting to the Delacorte Press Contest for a First Young Adult Novel. One of the stipulations of the contest is that manuscripts cannot be submitted to other publishers or literary agents while under consideration for the prize, so it works out perfectly. Notification is between January and April as submissions are evaluated by the editors, with final contest results announced around April 30, 2010. If I get notification before the end of January, then plan B is to submit the novel to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Plan C will be to submit to a new round of literary agents after that. So it's just the beginning of the process.

And since my goal is to finish revisions by October, then I'll be ready for this year's NaNoWriMo November 1-30, and this year I'm determined to finish. National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

SCBWI Summer Conference

Of course we can't attend every conference or writing event that rolls around. So, lucky for us, there are lot's of ways to stay on top of what's happening at the events even without being there.

Case-in-point, the 38th Annual SCBWI Summer Conference is being held August 7-10th in Los Angeles. And for those of us not able to attend, follow the comings and goings on The Official SCBWI Conference Blog.

The SCBWI Summer Conference is the biggest-ever summer conference line-up of agents, editors, and art directors, plus keynote addresses and over 70 workshops from the most well-known authors & illustrators in children’s publishing, including specialized tracks on Non-Fiction, Young Adult novels, Illustration and Marketing.

SCBWI: Founded in 1971 by a group of Los Angeles-based children's writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is one of the largest existing organizations for writers and illustrators. It is the only professional organization specifically for those individuals working in the fields of children’s literature, magazines, film, television, and multimedia.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

How To Order A Copy of My Book

I've had quite a few requests lately about how to order my book. Keep those requests coming!

Here's the ordering information & take advantage of the summer sale I'm offering on my webstore.

Three ways to order

To order online: My webstore (summer sale - order here for savings)

To order from the publisher: XLibris

(tell me your choice of hardcover or softcover and how many copies you'd like to order...I'll email you an invoice.)

I can sign copies of the book upon request.

Thanks to everyone who has been supporting me. Hopefully soon I'll have my second book available too - keep watching for updates.

Do You? is a collection of original poems and photographs (76 pages, 36 full-color photographs). Click here to view excerpts from the book: Excerpts

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions."

– Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Ooh, I love that one!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Balancing Social Networking and Writing Time

Building a platform in preparation, or in conjunction, with launching a writing career seems to be a hot topic these days. It's a selling point for any new writer trying to break into the industry, as a "platform" gives an outlet for immediate buzz to the world at large. So the key question then becomes, how do we balance the social networking aspect with actual writing time?

Good question, right? It's a question I've battled with, and one I continue to evaluate on a day-to-day basis. My feeling is that Social Networking should complement the writing, not distract from it, but that's easier said than done.

This article has some helpful tips on this very subject:
HOW TO: Deal With Social Networking Overload
July 30th, 2009 by Alexandra Levit
"As a career and workplace writer, I get asked all the time: I feel like I’m on social network overload"...(read more).

Friday, July 31, 2009

It's 1 am

Ok...I'm writing this post at 1 am. I can't sleep, the apartment is quiet, and it's a perfect opportunity to write. So the plan is to write until I get tired. Hopefully that won't mean writing until too late otherwise I will be a zombie for my J-O-B tomorrow.

My cat is perched beside the computer, my cup of ice is stationed on the other side, and I'm closing down the blog - here I go...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Press Release Formula

So I've been working to perfect my skills in press release writing and distribution; all in preparation for promoting my novel once it's published. To do this, I've spearheaded the press release campaigns at my full-time job, volunteered to do some press release distribution for my high school reunion, and I've tested the waters with press announcements about Do You?'s recent award.

All-in-all my "press formula" seems to be working. All three press release projects have been successful in that I've been able to get press publication for articles at work, for the reunion, and for my book.

Here's why I think it's working:
  1. I've written several versions of the press releases to appeal to the audience served by the publications. As an example, for Do You?, I decided to target NJ and NH publications. For NJ publications I used a tag-line that mentioned that I am a local, NJ author. For NH publications I used the tie-in that I'm a NH high school graduate. Both appeal to the audience who want to hear about local success. In addition, the subject matter can also be utilized as a tie-in for industry specific publications. It's all about showing the recipient of the press release why your news is important to the publication's audience.
  2. I created a list of publications in the targeted area/industry/genre and researched contact names to correspond to each publication.
  3. When sending the press releases, I chose to send them via email with a personalized message for each publication. It's a bit more time consuming but the extra time increases the success of the story. Think about it, are you more likely to open an email that is personalized or one that looks like spam? Me, I'd open the personalized email and chuck the spam.
  4. And finally, I used a version of the tie-in tag line in the email subject so the person receiving the press release automatically knows that this is a story that has appeal to the readers.

I'm not saying that I'm a pro at this by any means, but I'm excited by the success in what I've been doing on a small scale. Now the trick is to create a plan that can be implemented on a national level for my next novel once it gets published.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rachelle Gardner's Lessons from "Proposal to Publication"

Did you all see this blog post from Rachelle Gardner, literary agent with Wordserve Literary: Lessons from "Proposal to Publication"

This is a nice overview of her "Proposal to Publication" series. Here's an excerpt:

"As I was reading through it, I noticed there are some lessons you could take away in terms of what you can be preparing yourself for, now, before you enter the process.
1. Many writers balk at the requirement to write a really strong book proposal. You may have noticed in Friday's post that everyone in the publishing company, including the sales, marketing, and art departments, are given your book proposal and sample chapters. They might not have time to read your whole book, but they need to know enough to do their jobs. This should be enough of an incentive for you to write the best book proposal you possibly can! If your book is fiction, that 1-sentence hook and 1-page synopsis are all-important..." read more

Monday, July 27, 2009

Today I'm Stuck - Writers Block

I’m sitting at my computer, hoping to be hit by some creative inspiration, and it’s just not happening. I’m at a loss for words for today. So, I’ve decided to post some articles about working through writers block. And maybe when I’m done with this blog, I’ll use some of the exercises for myself.

How to Get Rid of Writer's Block

How to Get Over Writer's Block

Five Ways to Break Through Writers Block

Breaking Through Writer's Block

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

Borders Ink - An Expansion in Everything "Teen"

I blogged about the expansion of the teen section in Borders back on 5/30/09, and now we can see the expansion actually taking place. Get the inside scoop in this article that was released on Wednesday:

Borders Expands Teen Section
By Jim Milliot -- Publishers Weekly, 7/22/2009 2:55:00 PM
Borders Group is rolling out a new teen section to take advantage of the relative strength of that category. “It’s a natural extension of what we’ve been doing,” said Kathryn Popoff, v-p of merchandising/trade books at Borders about the creation of Borders more

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Did I Tell You?

Did I tell you? I got an email yesterday from a state library requesting a copy of my book. It must be the press strategy working. Yahoo! Now if I can only get my YA novel finished, published, and on bookshelfs. Literary world here I come...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Quote from Ovid

Short and sweet today - Here's a quote for the day:

"Let your hook be always cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish."– Ovid

"Publius Ovidius Naso, the Roman poet known as Ovid, best known for the epic Metamorphoses, is considered one of the greatest poets of Latin literature. He was born in 43 B.C. in what is now Italy. He rose quickly in Roman government and was on track to become a senator when he chose to devote himself to poetry instead. His tale of Pyramus and Thisbe is the source for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Emperor Augustus exiled Ovid from Rome for unknown reasons in 8 A.D.; he died in exile in 17 A.D. " as quoted from the Today's Inspiration newsletter, Everyday Health Network.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Writers Sharing Knowledge

As writers, we should share the skills we learn with others. As we gain knowledge through our experiences about writing, publishing, marketing, and all the business aspects of the industry we should willingly share that information to anyone who is interested in the same.

That's part of the reason why I write this blog. If I uncover a piece of information that is helpful to another writer, then I consider this blog to be a success.

On that note, I've been thinking a lot lately about how I can pass on the information not only to the writers that frequent here, but also the writers that are just beginning, the ones that are just discovering the magical world of books in schools around the world. It's something that has been rolling around in my head the last couple of weeks. I'd like to tour some local schools to encourage kids to explore their imaginations through books, reading them & writing them.

Upon researching writing tools for kids, I discovered these on the Library of Congress website Suggested Writing/Illustrating/Storytelling/Creating Pop-ups Topics.

Can anyone offer advice as to what might or might not work in sharing this knowledge with kids?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Rejection - The Unpleasant Part of the Equation

I arrived home from a fun filled trip to Lake Compounce Amusement park on Saturday to find another dreaded rejection letter waiting for me in my inbox. I took in a silent gasp, and felt my euphoria from the day of fun 'n sun dwindle to the floor. My heart dropped with it.

But then, after a moment, a silent voice in my head reminded me that some of the all-time great creative minds have had to endure rejection. I reminded myself that it's "paying the dues"; success cannot come without rejection.

George Lucas of Star Wars fame for example had his share of rejection. Did you know that Star Wars was turned down by several studios before being picked up by Twentieth Century Fox? Imagine if he would have quit after the first few studios turned him down, there would be no Star Wars - imagine! Here's a link to his biography on The Internet Movie Database.

And what about Stephen King who had over 30 rejections for Carrie. Check out this piece on him at Rejections & Writing Habits.

I think I need to read a few more of those stories right about now - Which artist has your favorite rejection-to-success story?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Another Local Newspaper Contacted Me

Yesterday, I received a call from a second local newspaper who had interest in the press release they received about my award from The New York Book Festival and my book Do You? She asked me for a headshot photo and answers to a few questions.

I'm so happy that my press release distribution is generating interest, and I hope I can utilize some of this for future projects as well.

I'll keep you updated.

Friday, July 17, 2009

"Sunrise Earth" and Morning Stretches

I tried something new this week. I discovered "Sunrise Earth" on Discovery HD Theater. It has become a nice replacement for actually being back on the camping trip. I find it soothing to see the sunrise and hear the sounds of early morning in different locations all over the earth. One morning I followed the animals on a Vermont farm, and this morning I watched the sunrise in Cambodia and listened to the monks chanting. So cool!

It's relaxing and spiritual at the same time. And it gives me an opportunity to do my morning stretches while I watch. I found I was better prepared to start my day, and more in touch with my creative side, which is always more alive in the morning than at night.

Now if I could only squeeze in some writing time right after it I'd have a perfect mix.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Contest Alert - NIEA Excellence Awards

Another contest for all you self-published authors with book publishing dates from 2007 until 2010.


All entries must be postmarked by March 31, 2010.
Winners and Finalists will be notified May 15, 2010

Good luck!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Good News: Book Deal for Self-Published Kindle Author

After yesterday's post, I needed to counter the sober news about the publishing industry with some uplifting news. That's just my nature. So how about this:

Book Deal for Self-Published Kindle Author
The tech news website Gizmodo thinks that Boyd Morrison may be the first writer to self-publish on the Kindle and secure a book deal. Morrison scored a book deal with Simon and Schuster's Touchstone imprint for "The Ark"--the imprint acquired "hardcover, paperback, audio, and electronic rights in the US and Canada." It is the second book in the author's Tyler Locke adventure series, and is scheduled for a summer 2010 release. Another book is planned for here to read more

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sobering Updates on the Publishing World

Today's post is another update on the status of the publishing world. Even though the news is just another reminder of how hard the publishing world is being affected by changes in the industry and the economy, It's also a reminder to all of us writers that we need to be more vigilant now. We need to fine-tune our work to a level that is more ready for agents & publishers than ever before.

I'm forcing myself to revise, revise, revise; creating the most polished manuscript I can. I've had portions of my work read by people I trust for feedback, and then it's back to revise, revise, revise. I may even send my manuscript out to a professional editor, and submit it for reviews. I've got contests lined-up as potential venues. And every agent, contest, and professional I consider means research. My hope is that the added work will increase my chances of securing a traditional publisher for my novel. I will not lose hope, I will persevere, as I hope all of you will too.

And in the words of Cardinal Leon Joseph Suenes, "Hope is not a dream, but a way of making dreams become reality."

Outlook gloomy for US publishers - survey
Pay freezes, job insecurity and dissatisfaction characterise the US publishing industry,...
How Low Can You Go? PW's 2009 Salary Survey, by Jim Milliot -- Publishers Weekly, 7/13/2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Whisper of Stories

I've got so many notes stored in boxes. I carry a notebook with me almost everywhere because I don't know when I'll be inspired by a scenery, a character, or even a dialogue. I did the same thing in acting school as we were taught to constantly observe our suroundings and take notes. It works the same for writing.

I've got so many writing projects just waiting in the wings, many that started as a single note in my notebook. But it's hard to keep denying those ideas that whisper to me in the quiet. I record them, hoping that one day I'll get the chance to develop them.

The hardest part is finding a way to categorize the character sketches, story ideas, and misc notes that I've accrued over the years. It's hard to be inspired by something that is sandwiched in a manilla folder collecting dust.

I remember seeing a news piece on Phyllis Diller and she used to have a huge card system to store all of her joke ideas. It worked for her.

But I'm very visual and I need to see the notes to be inspired by them. So I'm curious, fellow writers & artists, how do you deal with this problem?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Chalk One Up To Perseverance!

I've been stuck all week on my writing. I thought when I returned from vacation that I'd have broken through the writer's block I had started right before I left, but it wasn't the case. I've been working on a revision in the middle of my novel that has been holding me up. It required some research, which I hadn't done, so each time I'd go to write I'd stare at the page because I didn't know enough about what I was writing about in that chapter. While I finally did the research, and YAHOO I'm past the writers block. I was able to get a solid portion completed this morning and it makes me so happy to be moving again with the revision.

Chalk one up to perseverance!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

E-Zine Submission Alert -

I don't remember when I originally stumbled onto this E-Zine, but I received an email from them today and thought it might be a resource to pass on to everyone. Good luck! is a New York-based webzine devoted to publishing engaging personal essays, memoirs, art, fiction, poetry, humor and more. The webzine features emerging and under-recognized writers and artists alongside more established contributors.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

PRESS - Article About Me in the Hackensack Chronicle

So one of the first things I did when I finished unpacking from the trip was to collect all the mail from the mailbox. I flipped through the pile with a purpose; I was looking for one thing in particular - the Hackensack Chronicle. That's the local paper where I was interviewed by a reporter a couple weeks back. I was expecting to have to scour the paper, and then to go back a second time to find a small write-up sandwiched towards the end. But, to my surprise, I found the article on page four and it was a half page with a picture to boot. How cool is that!

Let me tell you, I was jumping around with excitement. I sat my husband and son down on the couch and read the entire article to them. They were excited too!

So, of course, I had to share the excitement with you.

So here's a link to the article: Hackensack Chronicle. Let's hope it's the beginning of many more to come.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Becoming a Full-Time Writer

I think we all have those moments when we fantasize about being able to turn this passion of writing into our full-time careers. And there are writers who are able to do it. But when is the best time to make the switch?

For those of you pondering this question, this article by Jeff Yeager in the May/June issue of Writer's Digest is worth a read: 10 Questions Writers Must Ask Before Quitting Their Day Job

The idea of writing full-time is something I strive for, and yet as I ponder it I find there are many stepping stones to reach before it becomes an actionable reality.

Anyone out there already a full-time writer? Any advice or comments you'd like to offer on the subject?