Sunday, May 31, 2009

Whirlwind Week

It has been a whirlwind week. My son was sick part of the week and in the ER on Wednesday night, the WD/BEA Writers Conference was Wednesday during the day, my brother came down from NH Tuesday & Wednesday, on Saturday we drove from NJ to NH for my cousin's wedding and drove back the same night, and then this morning I walked the BookExpo America. Phew - I'm exhausted.

So the cooking and cleaning that I normally squeeze into the weekend is going to have to wait.

But I do have one more thing to finish before the weekend is up. I have drafted the letters and prepared the submissions for three out of the four agents that requested material on Wednesday, and I need to get them out before the day ends.

So that has been my week. It's been busy and productive and a great immersion into the world of writing. My hope is that this week might be a bit quieter on the activities side (and no trips to the ER this week-hopefully), but just as exciting as submission go out. And now I wait anxiously for responses.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Great News for Children's Writers

Here's some great news for Children's Writers. If you are a children's writer who plans on being published soon, this is a good indication of the expansion in the market for the genre. And as a children's writer myself, all I can say is, "Yes-finally, some good news!"

Kids, Cooking High on Marshall's To Do List for Borders
By Vickie Elmer -- Publishers Weekly, 5/22/2009 7:12:00 AM
Borders Group is counting on books for kids and kitchens to provide some growth in a tough economic environment. It also will rely on continued spending cuts and a new just-in-time book buying approach, CEO Ron Marshall said at a lightly attended annual shareholders meeting Thursday. According to Marshall, Borders will turn much of its dying music and movies section space into bigger children's book areas, and also will beef up cooking and health selections...(read more)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Writers Digest/BEA Writers Conference Update-part 2

I promised to provide even more information on the Writers Conference on today's post. Here are some additional event highlights:

  • Keynote Speaker Karin Slaughter was awesome! In my opinion she was the best speaker of the day. She offered a quick perspective of what her journey has been like from the early days to successful novelist. She was sincere, and extremely witty - an inspiration to any writer.

  • Donald Maas had some interesting tidbits on "The Fire in Fiction" as his new book is titled. I walked away with a couple ideas and minor tweaks I'm trying to add to my novel before I submit to the agents that requested material. One of the things that he mentioned was treating your setting like a character in the story. I never thought of it that way, but find it an interesting way of bringing the world to life, particulary for fantasy & sci-fi.

  • The Agent Panel was also interesting, not necessarily for the answers to the questions for me (because this is where I realized I knew a lot of the answers), but more so in seeing the agents as real people. I think agents sometimes seem like scary people with their submissions process, query letter formats, and the dreaded slush pile. But honestly they're just like you and me, and being an agent is their job. If they don't find the best of the best, then they don't make money or gain a good reputation. So they need all those hoops for us to jump through. The best, for me, was seeing both Janet Reid and Michelle Andelman on the panel. I follow Janet's blog and was able to meet her afterwards and she is a TRIP! Man, I wish I wrote crime fiction just to get a chance to work with her. And I'm glad Michelle was on the panel because it made me add her to my list of agents to pitch.

There were so many good workshops to attend, and it was hard to narrow it down. Now I'm looking forward to next years conference so I can attend more of the break-out sessions. Maybe at that point I won't have to attend the pitch-slam because I'll already have an agent (how's that for positive thinking).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Writers Digest/BEA Writers Conference Update

Yesterday was an awesome experience at the Writers Digest/Book Expo America Writers Conference. Let me just list out a few of the highlights that made the day extra special:
  1. I got to enjoy the conference with my brother who drove down from NH. That, in itself, made the day extra special. George is a talented writer who is working on several projects ranging from a witty non-fiction project to a children's book and a light romantic novel. You can check out his blog: Thoughts of A George.
  2. It was amazing to be surrounding by so many creative, inspired writers who were hungry for knowledge and eager to talk about their projects. Writing can often be a lonely venture, so it was nice to talk to fellow writers on the pitch lines, at lunch, and in the conferences.
  3. Listening to some of the questions by fellow novice writers, I realized that I'm more informed in many more areas than I had realized. I credit that to a lot of the research I've been doing and the blog following on writer and agent sites. I also know that I've got a lot to learn too.
  4. I am so glad I participated in the pitch slam. I have to admit it was a bit daunting, but I kept a full bottle of water handy to quench my dry mouth, and I practiced my pitch repeatedly in preparation for the event. I also combined much of the advice I had uncovered about pitching to agents: I kept it concise, I memorized the pitch, and went in with enthusiasm. I am happy to report that I pitched to 4 agents and got material requests from all 4. So, I'm excited that it's an advantage over anyone sending their material cold, I'm able to get to the top of the slush pile as opposed to the middle or bottom. Yahoo! The interesting part is all 4 requested different amounts of material, so I thought I'd share what they requested:
  • First 10 pages
  • First 3 chapters
  • Query letter and 1,000 words
  • Full manuscript

I'll go into more conference reporting on tomorrow's blog post.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Writing Conference Countdown

I am so excited that tomorrow is the Writers Digest/BEA Writers Conference. I have been counting down the days until the conference and now it's here. My brother is taking the long ride down from NH and we'll both be going to the conference together.

I think I'm most excited about spending the day immersed in writing. I get to meet some of the agents whose blogs I follow, I get to hear some great speakers, and I can meet fellow writers who are doing the "writing thing" every day.

I'm still nervous about the pitch slam, but I know it will be a great learning experience if nothing else.

So I probably won't have a post for tomorrow, but I'm hoping to be able to share some great tidbits through the rest of the week.

And then on Sunday I'll be spending the afternoon at BEA (Book Expo America). This is going to be a GREAT week!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Movie Weekend

My family decided that this weekend was a great opportunity for a movie marathon. We watched The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Because of Winn Dixie.

Did you watch any good movies this weekend? Anything that inspired you?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Quote in "The Fatal 5 Finance Mistakes Writers Make"

I'm happy to report that I was quoted in an article featured on Wow! Women on Writing entitled, "The Fatal 5 Finance Mistakes Writers Make". Thanks to the writer Allena Tapia for including me in the article. Here's my quote from the article:

Michelle Reynoso, who published with a subsidy publisher, ran into many unanticipated publishing expenses for her book Do You?.
“I budgeted for the publishing package, but didn't anticipate the extra costs that came up when I needed layout work or wanted changes made to the format. I also didn't budget for marketing collateral, traveling costs to promote the book, advertising, etc.”

It's a great article that covers many areas that writers often overlook on the business side, and definetly worth a read.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

How Authors Get Paid

If you haven't seen the May 20th edition of The Editorial Ass online - "And You Thought A Royalty Involved a Crown", you need to check it out. This outlines how authors get paid. It's really important information that we all should know. So, my post is short today so you can meandor over to see what moonrat has to say about royalties and such.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Online Tool - Trackle

This is really cool! If you haven't discovered Trackle yet, you should check it out. I started using it to to get notified about new NY times bestsellers, news about my favorite authors, and to track where my name is coming up online and in blogs. And there are so many other things that you can track too.

What a great tool! Because honestly, who has the time to do all that "tracking" ourselves anymore.

And the best part is that it's free!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

StorySouth Million Writers AwardVote

For those of you still in the voting mode, even if American Idol is over, here's a chance to make your voting count for a fellow writer.

The storySouth Million Writers AwardVote for the best story of the year!

The stories are short, and it's easy to vote.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Blog Writers Block

Major writing block today...not for my novel, but for the blog. Arghhh!

I am happy to report that after a few days of battling this cold, I'm starting to feel better. My voice is still a bit scratchy, but I have my energy back. And that's good news!

Also, on the good news front, I've completed some major projects at work which means I shouldn't be as exhausted when I go home, which equates to more energy to devote to revising my novel. I'm not as far along as I had hoped, since the WD/BEA Writers Conference is next week! I still need to tweak my pitch and practice it. And finish researching the agents that will be there so I can narrow down my picks for who I want to pitch to.

As always, so much to do and not enough time to get it all done. But I guess that's much better than being bored.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Judging A Book By It's Cover

Here's an interesting blog post by Jill Corcoran Books talking about a book's jacket cover and how that sells books. Very interesting, since I was just in Borders on Saturday and found myself looking at jacket covers, trying to figure out what books were about just by looking at them. If the jacket cover interested me, then I flipped it around to read the synopsis. So I have to say that as a consumer I find myself judging a book by it's cover (unless of course it's an author I already know, or the book has come recommended).

So, it's something to remember for the future when the book is published.

Monday, May 18, 2009

People Watching & Inspiration

Sometimes all you need is a break and some inspiration. On Saturday morning I woke up exhausted, with hints of a cold coming on, but I worked through it all and got a few hours of revising in. I had to take advantage of the quiet "me time" I had been given, as my husband and son left to run errands. But by 1:00 I was zoning out, and needed a break. So, I took a trip to the mall.

Yep, sure did, and it was the best break I could have taken. I put my observing cap on and set out to do some people watching. Since my novel is a YA novel, with teen characters, the mall was the best place to watch teen behaviour. And boy did I get some good stuff to use for my character development and dialogue. The mall was full of teens. And since it's been a few years since I was a teenager, I needed to brush-up on current teen language and mannerisms (without dating it too much). I want my characters to be relatable.

After the people watching, I stopped in to Borders and perused the YA & sci-fi/fantasy sections to do some research. I've been trying to match up my novel to some writers/books out there to give agents/publishers a reference point of what my novel is like. This is much harder than I had anticipated, but I think I've got it narrowed down. I would have to say that fans of C.S. Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia" and Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" series would be the targets for my novel.

While at Borders, I also took the time to just absorb the energy there. I love the fact that whenever I visit Borders, there are tons of people there. People are sitting in the chairs, on the floor, in groups, and by themselves. And all of them are reading. It's encouraging to see all those people reading. And I picture that one day I'll go in and see them reading my book. Won't that be a thrill!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Semi-Finalists Announced for QueryTracker Contest

The Semi-finalists were announced for the one-sentence pitch contest that I entered last week, and I'm sad to say my entry was not one of the finalist. Congratulations to the 50 entries that did make the list. And it's back to the drawing board for me.

But I'm going to turn this into a positive. The fact that I didn't make the list gives me more time to polish my MS. And the lack of placing on the list is feedback in itself, telling me to review my pitch strategy. Time to rethink the one-sentence pitch, and the longer pitch, in preparation for the pitch slam on 5/27 and for my query letters.

See, it's all good.

To see the Semi-Finalist list, follow this link:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

It's Saturday and I'm Exhausted

It's Saturday morning. I'm sitting at my laptop, in front of the windows, watching my cat taunt the birds. I've got my cup of ice next to me, and I'm ready to tackle some early morning revisions. The problem is I'm exhausted. My brain feels like mush. I'm not sure if I have any energy reserves to pull from to help kick the creative juices flowing. This is my dilemna.

I guess that's one of the downsides to being a part-time writer, the other parts of life sometimes pull so much energy that it leaves little left at the end. My full-time job was draining this week, with more projects than I could complete, all on tight deadlines, and short-staffed. On the home front, we're having some challenges with my 5 yr old son in school. I've had very little sleep and no down-time this week.

So I'm exhausted. And yet, I sit at my computer and I'm determined to get some serious work done this morning, I'm ready to chop paragraphs, rework sentences, tie-up loose ends, and polish my MS.

So here I go. Wish me luck.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Quirky Writing Habits

Ok does anyone else have a quirky habit, something you have to do while you're writing?

I have to admit my habit is to chomp on ice while I'm writing, cups and cups of ice. Is it strange, probably, at least my husband tells me it is. But somehow it helps me concentrate, and it makes me happy.

Ok, anyone else?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Preparing My Pitch

I am a writer, so naturally I feel more comfortable pitching myself and my writing on paper. And yet, I'm going to be participating in the "pitch slam" at the Writers Digest/BEA Writers Conference, where I'll actually have to talk about my novel.

Am I nervous, oh yeah! Am I excited, oh yeah! Am I prepared, not so much. I mean, yes, I now have my one-sentence pitch, but that takes all of 10 seconds. So what do I do for the remaining 9 minutes and 50 seconds?

So as I craft my longer version of the pitch, I find myself curious about what an agent expects during that 10 minute session. If you have the same curiousity as me, check out this blog from Mary Lindsey at QueryTracker:

Ok, time to write up a pitch with a few more details, stand in front of the mirror, and practice. I have a feeling my husband is going to be voluteered as a mock-agent for some practice sessions. I hope he's not too brutal.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Great Cause & Items to Advance Your Writing Career

Hey, have you taken a trip to Brenda Novak's Online Auction to benefit Diabetes Research? If not you should. You'll feel like a kid in a writer's candystore. There are some cool items up for auction.

Here are some of the writing specific items up for auction:

..... Agent Evaluations
..... Author Critiques
..... Editor Evaluations
..... Writing Books
..... Writing Classes

And then, there are lot of other goodies like autographed books, "once in a lifetime experiences", baskets, and gift items.

Here's the link:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What's the Difference Between Science Fiction and Fantasy?

So I had to decide if my novel, The Hidden Force, is YA Science Fiction or YA Fantasy. Hmmm, so what's the difference between the two? Well, if you know me, that question sent me online to do a search to see if I could find the answer.

Amazon's Fantasy Community discusses it here:

eHow article:

Ok, so I've read those (and several additional articles too) and my problem is that my novel is a mixture of both: fantasy & science fiction.

So where does that leave me? Any suggestions?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Just Entered the Contest

I just put my entry in for the One-Line Pitch Contest at QueryTracker ( After agonizing over this on Saturday, finally I was able to come up with a pitch I was happy with.

Here it is, tell me what you think:
"The death of her mother leads teenager Faith McDaniels to discover the analogous world of Enlita, an amorphous domain quickly being overpowered by an evil tyrant named Belial who will not stop until he captures Faith and the hidden force inside her."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What is Safe To Publish Online?

I've wondered about this...what is safe to publish online? To post or not to post, that is the question. Whether it be blog, online critique group, or online journal, what is considered "published" and how can that affect your contract with traditional publishing avenues.

Well, here's the answer my friends in one conscise explaination. Moonrat from the "Editorial Ass" answers it so eloquently in his blog entitled, What's Safe to Syndicate Online":

Saturday, May 09, 2009

A One Sentence Book Pitch

I'm trying to come up with a good one sentence pitch for my YA novel, The Hidden Force. This is a good exercise for introducing my book when someone asks me, "So what's your book about?"

When asked, I usually stutter and meander my way around the plot. People look at me confused. Then I try to explain it further, and their faces tilt to the side and scrunch up. You know the look. Probably not a good first impression of my book.

So, I'm working on it.

One sentence the *@!! do you get a whole novel into one sentence? Well, I did some research online, and I've discovered a good explanation of what the pitch should and shouldn't include. Check out this post by Joanna Stampfel-Volpe of Nancy Coffey Literary on QueryTracker:

AND, there's a contest that will be released on Monday on QueryTracker. I just might give it a shot. For anyone else who might be interested, here are the details:

Upcoming Contest!On Monday May 11th, our second agent-judged contest will open for entries. Literary agent Brendan Deneen with FinePrint Literary Management has graciously agreed to judge one-sentence pitches. You can only enter if your manuscript falls in the following genres: YA thriller, YA horror, YA fantasy, YA sci-fi, or adult thriller. Watch for a special post this weekend with details on how to enter. We are very excited to work with Mr. Deneen, and we wish you all the best of luck!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Creative Marketing - Lara Zielin

Now this is creative marketing. Check this out:

"Lara Zielin's agony and ecstasy as she edits her debut novel, DONUT DAYS. "Editing Letter" is sung, karaoke style, to Corey Hart's "Never Surrender." Lara's Website: More ..."

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Revising During My Son's Karate Class

Yesterday I squeezed in some writing time during my son's karate class. I typed away, revising chapter 7, while he kicked and punched and kia'd his way through class. Mid-revision I did get pulled up as a parent volunteer, but I was still able to pick-up with the thought I had left on the bench with my laptop.

I'm pumped up!

Usually I have a hard time staying focussed when working on my writing outside of my quiet desk area. But since I've already got the flow of the chapter it's much easier.

Today, back to chapter 7.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Pitch Sessions CAN Work

And how about a story showing that it can work. Here's an agent (Janet Reid) that found her client at a pitch session. Gives me inspiration for the pitch session coming up at the WD/BEA Writers Conference at the end of the month.

Hey, you never know!

I better get cranking-lot's of work to do before the end of May...story revisions, agents-in-attendance research, and of course I have to prepare the pitch.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Writing Roll Call

Thanks to everyone who has been following my blog! I love the feedback and the support.

And now I open the forum up to you...I want to hear from you...get to know everyone a bit.

So, if you can, post a comment about the type(s) of writing you create. Think of it as a roll call of sorts. And if you'd like to see certain topics covered more in the blog, let me know that too.

I'll start. Hi everyone, I'm Michelle from NJ and I write YA and Children's Story. I've written poetry and short fiction as well.

Who is next?

Monday, May 04, 2009

Writing Before Dinner Time-Here's A Great Recipe for That

Ok, sometimes the daily chores of life take away precious writing time, or force me to change my schedule to make alternate writing plans. It's just one of those things. So on the days that I know I need to flip my writing time from morning to night, I try to plan an easier meal to make at dinner time. My best writing happens when the sun is still shining. So if I can squeeze in a few minutes before dinner, I'm much more productive than let's say 10pm or later.

So, I wanted to share a quick and easy recipe that I discovered. Actually, the recipe was given to me, and I've already used it quite a few times. My family loves it! And I've adopted it as my favorite meal to make when writing time is pending at night. Who doesn't like lasagna (the easy way). And I make it with part-skim mozzarella and whole wheat lasagna noodles for a more health conscious recipe. I put all the ingredients together, stick it in the oven, and I've gained 1 hour of writing time as it cooks. Voila!

Quick & Simple Classic Lasagna
15 oz. Ricotta Cheese
16 oz. Shredded Mozzarella
5 oz. Shredded Parmesan
1 Egg, beaten
1 lb. Ground Beef
1 Jar Spaghetti Sauce
1 Cup Beef Broth or water
12 uncooked Lasagna Noodles

Mix Ricotta Cheese & Egg. Stir in 3 cups Mozzarella and 3/4 of the Parmesan. Reserve remaining cheeses. Brown Beef over medium heat & drain. Season with salt & pepper (or Sazon Completa for more flavor). Stir in Spaghetti Sauce & Beef Broth. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread 1 1/2 cups sauce mixture in the bottom of a 13" X 9" glass baking dish. Top with 3 noodles lengthwise, place a 4th noodle crosswise (breaking to fit). Layer heaping 1 cup of the sauce mixture & 1/2 of the ricotta mixture. Repeat layers. Top with the remaining noodles & sauce mixture. Cover with foil. Bake 1 hour. Remove foil. Sprinkle with reserved cheeses. Bake uncovered 10 minutes.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Productive Writing Weekend Planned

I am looking forward to a productive weekend of writing. As soon as I'm done with this short blog entry, I'm glued to the computer for a couple hours.

I woke up this morning with such excitment with the new direction my revision has created in my YA story. It fills a gap that was missing before, and it has stengthened the characters and the relationship between each of them. It was a missing link.

So, woo-hoo, off to writing I go!

Friday, May 01, 2009

What's More Important: The Writing or The Marketability?

I wrote a blog post last Sunday titled, "Marketing-It's Not Always About the Product (The Book). Interesting enough there was another blog about the same subject written last Sunday by Allison Brennan. Her blog debated what impact the quality of the writing has on marketing the book. It's a lengthy blog, but one you should definetly read. Here's the link:

My brother George tackled the subject in his blog (Thoughts of a George):

What do you think about the subject? What's more important: the writing or the marketability?