Friday, April 30, 2010

Next on the Bookshelf

I took a trip to the bookstore yesterday and walked out with two books, one for my son and one for me. If I had carte blanche I would have walked out with an armload of books, because as I perused the shelves I saw so many titles that are on my "to read" list!

The Midnight CharterWhat am I reading now? I'm finishing up an ARC copy that I never got around to reading when I got it last September called, "The Midnight Charter" by David Whitley. Very interesting read, check out the editorial reviews on Amazon. 

Uglies, The Collector's Set: Uglies, Pretties, Specials, ExtrasNext on my reading list will be one of the two books I picked up yesterday, "Uglies" by Scott Westerfeld. I've heard lot's of talk about this series, but I'll be honest I never felt inclined to buy it because the title turned me off. But...my brother and sister-in-law and their daughter have all read it and raved about it, so I bought a copy yesterday. It's next on the list!

Goosebumps: The Beast From The EastAnd I just had to get another Goosebumps book (by R.L. Stine)for my son. He's hooked on the series. This time I got him "The Beast From The East". And we've already started reading it as a bedtime story.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Observations Turn Into a Story

I was sitting in the parking lot of a local park today. I had my lunch with me, but it was a bit too chilly to eat outside on the bench only a few feet in front of me. So I stayed inside the car and ate.

There was another car in the parking lot not too far away. The occupant of the car was quirky and acting a bit bizarre.  I observed him. And within minutes a story was brewing in my head. I rushed to jot down details about the scene and the actions of the person. And voila, instantly I had a detailed story nugget and basic character development.

Stories can come from anywhere and at anytime. A person just needs to be observant and ready to write it down. Because another thing I've learned is that if you don't write it down, it fades away, never to be captured again.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Revision Update

Revisions are going well! I've maintained my schedule of 1,000 words per day for the last 8 days. I've been pruning away the weak material and I feel the strength of my manuscript growing. I started with 53,976 words and the manuscript is down to 49,258. There's still lot's to do, so I'm off to conquer another 1,000 words.

Do you have some writing or revising success you want to share?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Goosebumps for Kids

My son has library time at school, and last week he came home with a book from R.L. Stine's Goosebumps series. He knew about the Goosebumps stories because we've seen a few of the movies, but this was the first book that we'd read together.

From the first page, my son was hooked. Everytime we'd complete a chapter, he begged me to keep reading. He tried to guess what was coming next, and he couldn't wait to see what would happen to the monster in the story.

The power of a good book is powerful for a young mind, and I'm glad to see that books have now captured my son's interest as well.
How To Kill A Monster (Goosebumps Series)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Query Letter Tip

There was a great tip in today's Guide to Literary Agents (GLA) newsletter. I've  pasted it below for those of you who didn't see it yet.

"A great way to start your query letter is by explaining to an agent why you've picked them out of the big pile. In other words, what is your "connection" to the agent? This connection doesn't have to mean you're friends with her brother-in-law or you both went to the same high school. It could simply mean that you read an interview online where she explained how she wasn't seeing enough boy-centric YA come through the slush pile. If you have a boy-centric YA manuscript that's ready to go out, that's your connection. State it upfront and show the agent why you've chosen to query her."

-Chuck Sambuchino, Editor, Guide to Literary Agents

Here are some ways to find articles and information on agents that can be used for this approach in your query letter:
  1. Review the agent interview archives at the GLA Blog.
  2. Search for articles online
  3. Sign-up for blogs or newsletters from agents you are interested in querying
  4. Follow industry conference & event schedules. Often agents will be interviewed at these events, or will participate in round table discussions.
  5. Subscribe to writing magazines, here are a few of note:
    1. Poets & Writers Magazine
    2. Writers Digest
    3. The Writer Magazine
    4. Writers' Journal

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Starting Strong on My 40 Day Quest

I'm starting my 40 day quest strong with two solid days of 1,000 words of revisions to my novel. Sorry it's such a short post today but I'm heading back to revise some more.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Setting My Goals Publicly

I am determined to finish revisions on my novel. I've been pushing myself to do revisions a little bit per day, but I think I need to bump up my game. If I can write a 50,000 draft in 30 days with NaNoWriMo, then I can certainly revise 39,550 words in little over a month. So in an effort to give myself a swift kick in the butt, here's what I'm planning on doing to make this happen...
  • I've revised 14,426 so far leaving me 39,550 to go. I'm setting my goal at revising 1,000 words per day which means I should finish revisions in 40 (rounded) days.
  • I will refrain from farming on Farmville so as not to waste precious minutes of revising time.
  • I will carry a hard copy of my manuscript with me during the day so I can revise on my lunch breaks.
  • I will find a quiet, non-tv occupied room in which to work to avoid distractions.
Ahhhhh, I feel more focused already. I'm up to 655 words revised, so let me get back to my manuscript so I can reach 1,000 words today.

Have you written down your writing/revising goals? Anyone want to share?

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Power of A Good Story

When I was in grade school many, many years ago I remember hearing the story of "Bloody Mary". Older girls would use the story to scare younger girls and dare them to recite Bloody Mary several times in front of a mirror summoning a female witch or ghost. Her image was said to appear in the mirror, and depending on the variation of the story, any number of bad things are supposed to happen to the summoner. Do any of you remember hearing or experiencing this at school or at a slumber party when you were younger?

Well, my son, who is only in first grade mind you, came home this week scared out of his wits over the story. He doesn't go to the same school I went to, nor do we live in the same state, and yet the story is out there just as it was over 30 years ago.

My point is a good story can survive generations and travel great distances. This story of "Bloody Mary" is of course an urban legend, a great story that keeps on getting told, and hasn't yet lost its power to scare.

Now if only our stories, the ones we slave over writing, could somehow contain that same magical element; to survive the years, to resurface and be just as powerful as the first time it was read. That is a feat. If only we were magicians and could sprinkle fairy dust on the pages of our manuscript. But alas, it is not that easy. The only thing we can control is our writing, to write the absolutely best story we can  before we pitch it to agents and publishers, and before we release it to the world.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Building a Vocabulary

Building a strong vocabulary is important as a writer. If you feel you need a little brush-up in that area, you may want to consider receiving "A.Word.A.Day" by Wordsmith.org. They send you a new word to your inbox everyday. Here's an example of what was in today's A.Word.A.Day email:

Babylon

PRONUNCIATION:
(BAB-uh-luhn, -lawn)

MEANING:
noun: A place of great luxury and extravagance, usually accompanied with vice and corruption.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Babylon, an ancient city of southwestern Asia, on the Euphrates River. It was the capital of Babylonia and known for its opulence and culture. It was the site of Hanging Gardens, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

USAGE:
"Tsuyoshi Morimoto said that when the economic crisis hit the international market, many big companies turned to Iraq in hopes that it would save them. 'Big companies talked a lot about Iraq and paid a huge amount of attention to it. It is just like we suddenly built a Babylon, and now the Babylon is collapsing.'"

Qassim Khidhir; "Don't Expect Too Much From Iraq"; Kurdish Globe (Arbil, Kurdistan); Jan 16, 2010.

Explore "babylon" in the Visual Thesaurus.

If you're interested in learning more, you can visit the Wordsmith website.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Writing A Book - It Takes Commitment To A Writing Schedule

Writing a book is a long process filled with highs and lows. Some days the writing comes easy, while other days the process is tedious and difficult. But the key is to work on a schedule and write a little bit everyday. When I started writing, I suffered from only writing when I was inspired and that's why it took me nearly eight years to finish a novel. But with more experience and much more understanding, I now know what it really takes to get the job done. You can't work through the writing hangups, the writers block, the procrastination, plot issues, characters that won't cooperate, boring dialogue, blah, blah, blah, without committing to a writing schedule and sticking to it. Writing makes a writer, not writing makes a wishful writer.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"Infinity" by Sherrilyn Kenyon - Free Galleys

Are you interested in upcoming YA paranormal titles? Would you like a chance at receiving a free galley of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s debut young adult novel, "Infinity"? If you answered yes to both of those questions, then head on over to the Macmillan Library Marketing page for both. The first 100 respondents on the Macmillan Library Marketing page will receive a galley of "Infinity" - good luck!

"Infinity" is scheduled to be released to the general public on June 8, 2010.

Here's a blurb on "Infinity" from the website: At fourteen, Nick Gautier thinks he knows everything about the world around him. Streetwise, tough and savvy, his quick sarcasm is the stuff of legends. Until the night when his best friends try to kill him. Saved by a mysterious warrior who has more fighting skills than Chuck Norris, Nick is sucked into the realm of the Dark-Hunters: immortal vampire slayers who risk everything to save humanity.



Infinity: Chronicles of Nick

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Event Alert - BEA 2010

BookExpo America (BEA) 2010 is coming up May 25-27 in New York City. I attended last year and was amazed at how many aisles of books were lined up in the Javits Center. I admit it was a bit overwhelming but also inspiring at the same time. If all those books got published then why not my book? And why not your book?

BEA boasts 1500 exhibitors, 500 authors, "Big Ideas at BEA" Conference, Let's Get Digital! New Content for a new age, Global Marketing Forum: Spanish Publishing, Autographing area, author stages, and much more!

The event also hosts seminars, author breakfasts & luncheons, and book giveaways.

To learn more, you can go to the BEA website.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Book Review - Thirteen Days To Midnight

I just finished the YA book, "Thirteen Days to Midnight" by NY times bestselling author Patrick Carman. I had received a copy of the ARC after attending one of the book buzz webcast events from School Library Journal. It's one of those books that you keep thinking about days after you've read it. It has a very interesting storyline in which the main character, Jacob Fielding,  has been passed the power to be indestructible and it has the ability to be passed to other people. After testing the limits of the power, Jacob and his two friends Ophelia and Milo decide to use the power for good to help people who would otherwise lose their lives. But soon the friends learn that the power comes with dire consequences. From the backcover of the novel, "In this nail-biting novel of mystery and dark intrique, Jacob must walk the razor-thin line between right and wrong, good and evil, and life and death. And time is running out."

This is a great read for young adult readers, particularly boys who will find the plot and storyline appealing. The only thing that is a bit distracting in the book is Ophelia has a nickname of "Oh" which gets confusing at times as you have to constantly remind yourself someone is not saying "Oh" as in the exclamation. I would have prefered to see her nickname spelled "O", but all in all this is a minor issue.  The book releases today to the general public.
Thirteen Days to Midnight

Friday, April 09, 2010

Contest Alert - Four More to Consider

I posted five contest links yesterday, and today I've got a few more to add.

''Dear Lucky Agent'' Contest: Middle Grade and Young Adult (with agent Regina Brooks)
This contest is running over at GLA (Guide to Literary Agents) and it's a cool one. If my YA book was ready, I'd be jumping on this one. Details and entry guidelines are available at the GLA website.

The New Letters Literary Awards
This is really three contests rolled into one. The $1,500 New Letters Prize for Poetry for the best 2010 group of three to six poems, the $1,500 Dorothy Churchill Cappon Prize for the Essay for the 2010 best essay, and the $1,500 Alexander Patterson Cappon Prize for Fiction for the best 2010 short story. For more information visit the New Letters website. Postmark deadline is May 18th.

Family Matters contest from Glimmer Train Press Inc.
Glimmer Train Press is looking for original, unpublished short stories about family. There's a $15 reading fee, and the prizes are as follows: 1st place wins $1,200, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of that issue, 2nd-place: $500, and 3rd-place:$300

The 79th Annual WD Writing Competition
Win a trip to New York City! GRAND PRIZE: $3,000 cash and a trip to New York City to meet with editors or agents. Writer's Digest will fly you and a guest to The Big Apple, where you'll spend three days and two nights in the publishing capital of the world. While you're there, a Writer's Digest editor will escort you to meet and share your work with four editors or agents! Entry Deadline: May 14, 2010.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Contest Alert - Five to Consider

The contest notifications have been piling up in my inbox, so today I've grouped a bunch of them together for your review. Good luck!

NPR: Three Minute Fiction Contest
And another installment of NPR's Three Minute Fiction Contest has been released. For this one, the parameters are for a fictional story that uses all of the following words, which may be used as nouns, adjectives or verbs of any tense: plant, fly, trick, button. And, as usual, it must be able to be read in under three minutes. For a full set of rules and guidelines, go to Three-Minute Fiction Round Four Official Rules. There is no entry fee, and the deadline is 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on April 11, 2010.

Garden Verse Poetry Awards
The deadline has been extended for the Garden Verse Poetry Awards to May 3rd. So if you haven't gotten your entry in yet, there's still time.

Garden Photography Awards
And for those of you who dabble in photography like I do, you might want to check out this contest. The deadline is June 1st, and is open to photographers anywhere in the world. There's a $20 entry fee per image, and full rules can be viewed at Horticulture Magazine.

Puzzler #51 - Poetry Puzzler
Narrative Magazine is running a contest in honor of National Poetry Month in April. The contest can be viewed on the contest page, and the deadline is Monday 4/12/10 at noon.

Book Award Series
Narrative Magazine is offering a $25,000 award to any book-length work chosen for inclusion in their Narrative Library Book Award Series. They accept submissions of previously unpublished book-length works, year round, for publication in the Narrative Library and for the $25,000 Book Award Series. All works considered for publication in the Narrative Library will also be considered for the Book Award.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Are You a Facebook User?

Calling all facebook users - I just added a fan page. Search for "Michelle Reynoso - Author" and add yourself as a follower. I've posted an excerpt of the YA novel that I'm revising and would love feedback (check out the Discussion Tab). You can also click this link to be connected to the site: "Michelle Reynoso - Author"

Up-to-date news on upcoming events and contests soon to follow.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

What Do You Think The Future Holds for E-books?

There's been so much talk of late about e-books. Everyone in the industry is talking about them. So now I'm curious, what do you think the future holds for them?

I'm conducting a poll on this subject, and I'd like to get as much feedback as possible. So if you're interested in participating, follow this link to voice your opinion on the subject: Poll Link

It's an easy one - there's only one question.

Thanks for participating!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Webcast Alert - Nonfiction Book Buzz for Spring 2010

If you are interested in learning about upcoming nonfiction book releases from publishers, this is the event for you. I've attended two similiar events hosted by the School Library Journal and they are an invaluable experience in learning about what's being touted as the hot new releases, as well as seeing how publishers are actually selling the titles. It's a webcast so it doesn't matter where you live, and the event is free. Here's the information:

DATE: Tuesday April 13, 2010

TIME: 3:00-4:00 PM ET 

"There’s a lot of competition to get and keep the attention of young readers. When it comes to books, fiction is often thought to outshine nonfiction, though we know that's not necessarily true. The key is to find nonfiction books that dazzle, amaze, and have kids saying, "Wow! I didn't know that. I want to know more!" In answering their homework questions or simply addressing curiosity on a subject, the one thing kids don't want is a long, boring, drawn-out explanation, whether it's from you or a nonfiction book. And you definitely to provide them with reliable information that will support their research needs.

Enthusiasm, fast facts, and cool, interesting information – that’s what our publishers want to provide with the titles featured in the SLJ Nonfiction Spring 2010 Book Buzz!"

REGISTER FOR THIS FREE WEBCAST

PANELISTS
Mark Enslow, President, Enslow Publishing
Chris Nasso, Publisher, Greenhaven Press, Lucent Books, and KidHaven Press
Luana K. Mitten, Editor in Chief, Rourke Publishing
MODERATOR
Henrietta Thornton-Verma, Editor, SLJ's Series Made Simple

Friday, April 02, 2010

Testimonials for Your Book

We live in a society where people want to be a part of what's popular. Testimonials about your book are a great way to spark interest from the public if you have the right kinds of testimonials and if they are used correctly. But the first step is how to get them. Here are some creative ideas that can be used with current customers, attendees at book signings, or even other clients of your agent that may have some name recognition.

From the website Security Selling:
5 Easy Ways To Get Testimonials From Customers

Five of the best and easiest ways to get customer testimonials.

All companies need testimonials yet few know how to get them. Here are 5 tips to help you get more.

1. Create a testimonial form
Make up a testimonial form that asks customers specific questions about what they liked about doing business with you. Send the form to customers with some incentive offer to return it. Let customers know comments may appear on your website or in your marketing.

2. Survey customers
Use tools like Survey Gizmo or Survey Monkey to find out what customers think about you. Allow room for them to offer narrative answers. Those answers are your testimonials.

3. Use a flip camera
For less than $200, you can shoot HD quality video from a camera that fits inside your shirt pocket. Use the camera to capture customer comments about your products and services. It’s fast, easy and effective. You can shoot the customer comments and have it on YouTube (or your website) in a matter of minutes.

4. Use a record-a-call option
You can use automated or live calling services that will contact customers, interview them and record their comments. These customer comments can then be used in audio testimonial form or transcribed for written use. You can also get a recorded, toll-free line which allows customers to call and leave feedback at their discretion, another great tool for obtaining feedback and testimonials.

5. Offer an incentive
Many companies use giveaways and other incentives to obtain customer testimonials. They offer their customers a “reward” for the testimonial. The reward drives the number of responses, thereby accomplishing the business objective.

The correct use of testimonials in your marketing and selling can drive huge increases in your sales. Make getting testimonials a priority for your business and watch sales soar.
And how do you utilize testimonials effectively once you get them? Check out this article from the website  Vertical Response-Marketing Lounge (formerly Workz) entitled, "How To Use Testimonials To Increase Sales", By Loren Beckart

"Endorsements and testimonials are among the most effective ways to establish credibility in any marketing situation, but they are especially important online. With a third party saying in effect, "Yes, this is real, and it is good," the online shopper is reassured. The prospect starts to believe in the reality of your offer by reading that others either recommend you or have been glad they made a purchase from you... (click to read the full article).