Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Break...

I will be taking a blogging break for the holidays.
I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season! I hope this season brings you joy and happiness.

I will be back on January 2nd!



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Monday, December 19, 2011

Wrappin' Up Some WINNERS!

So... the linky is closed, the votes are in, and we are mending our battle scars from the judging, but don't fret. Because David, J.A and I have finally put together a list of WINNERS! It was so hard to narrow it down but somehow we managed and the winners are ready to be announced! Are you curious who they are? Don't bite your nails, don't twiddle your thumbs because I won't keep you waiting any longer.
* * *
And the WINNERS are:

1st: Sara Bulla - Lost and Found

2nd: Jenna Quentin - Everything for Christmas

3rd: Melanie Fowler - Christmas Battle

4th: Kelly Lynn - Remember When

5th: Phyllis Sweetwater - The Christmas Cactus
Congratulations! We will be contacting you shortly about your prizes! AND... a 
HUGE THANKS
for all of those who participated. We loved being able to read your entries and we know the people that you share them with, will love them just as much.

But wait..... we have a SURPRISE!
All three of us have agreed to offer Query Critiques to anyone who wants one for the next three days. That's right. Anyone. Meaning you did not have to participate in this blogfest to collect on this offer. Send it to one of us, or send one query to all three of us. Send queries in an email, as you would to an agent. NO ATTACHMENTS. We won't open them. We'll provide honest opinion and offer suggestions for improvement, if needed.

Contact one (or all) of us:

dpowersking[at]gmail[dot]com

author[dot]jabennett[at]gmail[dot]com

covington[dot]leigh[at]gmail[dot]com

The offer stands until Wednesday,  21st, 11:59 PM
Thanks for the fabulous entries! This has been a wonderful hop and we appreciate you guys taking the time to participate in it with us!

So... is your week as hectic as mine?

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Check It Out...

I obviously can't enter to "WIN" the "Wrap It Up" Bloghop, but I still wanted to participate. My story, "O' Christmas Tree" is posted HERE! Hop over and check it out. While you're at it. Check out these other awesome entries. (I have decided this is going to be MAJORLY hard judging.) I have loved everything I have read so far. You guys have submitted some great stuff.
14.

You are next... Click here to enter
This list will close in 1 day, 15 hrs, 12 min (12/16/2011 11:59 PM CST)

What is a blog hop?
Get the code here...
 Also... if you haven't seen it... Susanna Leonard Hill is hosting a Holiday Contest on her blog! Susanna is the author of several wonderful children's picture books. What do you do for this
Write your own version of Clement C. Moore's traditional poem, 'Twas The Night Before Christmas!  Entries must be at least 12 lines/3 stanzas, not to exceed 40 lines/10 stanzas. (The original is much longer... we know!)
Post your entry between December 19th and December 22nd. 3 finalists will be chosen to vote for on December 26th. The winner gets a $15 Amazon gift card!
Cool right?
Also... I have a fabulous interview from Susanna HERE. Be sure to check it out. She is truly amazing. I love having the opportunity to learn from authors who "know!"

Have you entered any contests lately or is the Christmas season consuming you? I won't lie... this week is crazy-hectic for me!

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Visit from Kate Coursey!

I don't know if you know Kate - but if you don't - you should! She is one of those awesome teenage novelists! YES ~ I am serious! She is 18 years old and already has a book out to an editor. Can you say... "You go girl!" She was kind enough to agree to an interview today so I hope you will show her some love. And when you're done, be sure to hop over to her blog and say "hello!"

Kate! Thanks for being here today! I've followed your blog for a while now and love what you have to put out there for us. What I think is particularly awesome, is that you are 18 years old and you already have a novel being published, correct? What stage are you in with the publishing, and can you tell us a little about the process?
Hi Abby! Thanks so much for having me. I have a novel that's undergoing revisions at Scholastic Press (LIKE CLOCKWORK), and a second novel, AILLEA'S CARDS, that's almost ready to go out on submission with my agent Edward. I recently finished revisions for both these books, so I guess you could say I'm at the beginning of the publishing process (!!!). I got an agent the traditional way (lots of queries and lots of rejections), and I've received editorial letters from both my agent and my editor at Scholastic, Jody. Thus far revisions have been the hardest part of publishing. They took absolutely forever, but my agent worked with me a great deal and the changes made my books a lot better. 

Your book, LIKE CLOCKWORK has already been accepted by Scholastic, right? Could you tell us a little bit about it and when it is supposed to be released?
Actually, LIKE CLOCKWORK is not officially contracted as of December. There are still some issues to work out after I turn in my latest revision, due to the fact that Scholastic "discovered" LIKE CLOCKWORK through the PUSH Novel Contest, rather than through traditional channels (such as an agent).. There are no guarantees in publishing....I would be very surprised if the deal fell through completely, but I can't say anything with certainty at this time. If all goes as planned we'd probably be looking at a late 2013/2014 release. 

As for the story, LIKE CLOCKWORK is a YA steampunk novel set in a city resembling  16th century India. I know that's a pretty vague description....I'm still trying to come up with a good pitch paragraph!

What advice would you give to those ready to query?
Research, research, research! Read blog posts on querying! Stalk agents like a madman! (Okay, maybe not the last one.) In all seriousness, through, it's important to know an agent's tastes before you send a query letter. I'd also suggest spending a fair amount of time working on your opening chapters. An awesome query letter is all well and good, but it's not going to get you anywhere if your first chapters aren't captivating. 

Lastly, resist the urge to query prematurely. I'll repeat for emphasis: RESIST THE URGE TO QUERY PREMATURELY. Now, I'm a total hypocrite for saying this, because I'm definitely guilty of sending out a few premature queries. Guess what? I got my first full request within a half hour. That's right, a half hour. What are you going to do if your manuscript isn't ready? I sent it along anyway, and ended up with a personalized rejection. I understand the urge, I really do, but spare yourself the pain and make sure your manuscript is fully polished before querying..

So that's like the worst/most generic/boring query advice ever....sorry, guys! :)


I see that you are part of the TEEN EYES Editing Service. That looks so cool! I think it would be awesome to get a teens opinion of a book - especially for those writing YA - and especially since you know what you're talking about! Can you tell us a little more about TEEN EYES?
Of course! My friend Taryn and I started Teen Eyes because we felt we had something useful to offer in terms of manuscript appraisal. I'm agented and editored (yeah, totally just made that word up) with extensive freelance experience, and I spent the summer as an intern at Scholastic Press. Taryn is an amazing/insanely prolific writer, and she interns for one of New York's top literary agents. Taryn and I (at 18) also happen to be within the target age range for most YA novels. We read with teenagers in mind.....would your 16-year-old protagonist actually say that to her mother? Are high school cliques really so pronounced? Technological advances have completely altered the high school scene in the past 5-10 years, so Taryn and I offer the dual perspective of being familiar with modern day teenagers as well as experienced writing-wise. 

Give us a little sample of what you think teens are looking for in literature today..
Oh goodness....I would never presume to speak for the teenaged population as a whole, but I can tell you what I myself would like to see. Some things I (and my friends) love:

~Flawed, morally ambiguous protagonists.
~Complex antagonists, who aren't just evil for the sake of being evil.
~Unique hooks.
~CHARACTER DRIVEN, always.
~Please, no more love-at-first-sight....it just doesn't happen.
~Expanding on the last point, romance that feels realistic/develops in a believable manner.
~Strong, lyrical writing.
~No more love triangles....I think some writers can pull them off, but it's really difficult to do without making your protagonist seem whiny/self-centered/unable to make her own decisions.

Now, in 40 words or less... tell us a little bit more about yourself.

I eat. I run like a maniac. Sometimes, on rare occasions, I sleep. My BFF and I once accidentally died our skin green with shaving cream in a child’s swimming pool. BAM. You’re jealous. (We were 16 at the time.)

(That's exactly 40 words.)

Awesome! Now for my "chocolate chip questions." (These are the little morsels that I throw in for added flavor!)
ahem... If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
Turquoise, like the Caribbean. 

If you could be a literary character, who would you choose and why?
Hmmm.....probably Crookshanks the cat. Because I think it would be awesome to be a cat. 

If you could take a trip in a time machine, would you travel to the past or the future, and why?
Past. I have this obsession with ancient cultures....I'd love to visit Egypt/the Mayans/India/Ireland/ZOMGEVERYWHERE. Just the mention of traveling gets my blood pumpin'. :)

And last but not least... will you share a favorite thought or quote?
"Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed."
Again, thanks so much for having me! I love your blog and I'm so honored your agreed to interview me :). 

I won't lie Kate... I am honored that you came! Thank you! Now everyone show her some love!
AND... if you haven't had the chance to enter the "Wrap it Up" Blog Hop go HERE! It's turning out great so far! We'd love to have you join!

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Wrap It Up ~ Blog Hop!

I sent out a little post last week on my other blog about doing a blog hop to celebrate my birthday on the 18th! I thought it would be an awesome way to give something to YOU! Well, I was more than thrilled when I received emails from David Powers King and J.A. Bennett about joining in their blog hop! (They are both reaching 500 followers and wanted to celebrate!) How awesome is that? Being the awesome blogger/conference buddies that they are, I couldn't pass up the opportunity - so I hope you will join in the fun and enjoy this holiday celebration. So consider this a special invitation from J.A., David and myself...
Here's the deal:

Write a piece of flash fiction, poem, or song (300 words or less) for someone you know (real or imaginary). It may be in any genre, but it must have a holiday theme (real or fictional). Post it on your blog anytime between now and when the linky closes. You will then give it to that someone, sometime before the new year.

Give it in the form of an email, on fancy stationary, or laser-etched onto a solid gold plate. Your choice.

Telling us who you're giving it to is optional.

Every eligible entry will qualify for a chance to win one of a few special gifts. The linky will close at 11:59 PM, Friday the 16th (MST). J.A., Leigh, and I will then read, debate, and decide on five winners for the following:

1st: An Amazon Gift Card for $15
2nd: "Champaginer Challenges 2011" and "Totally Clich├ęd" E-books
3rd: A 5-page critique from David Powers King
4th: A 5-page critique from J. A. Bennett
5th: A 5-page critique from Leigh Covington

Judging will be based on the effectiveness and quality of your writing. There is no point system, no popularity votes, and you do not have to follow us to participate.

We're givers. What can we say?

Sound good? Awesome! Copy and paste the linky code below with your entry. Spread the word! Paste the button on your blog! Tweet the sweetness! We look forward to reading your holiday magic!




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Friday, December 9, 2011

Bits of Awesome...

One of the things I love about "Bits of Awesome" for Friday is it gives me a chance to count my blessings! So here is what "awesomeness" I have to share with you today!
  1. We're going to have PUPPIES for Christmas! Yep - my husband has to heeler dogs for the farm and we've finally managed to get the female to cooperate with the male! Whoo-hoo! I'm so excited for these pups!
  2. I AM DONE WITH SCHOOL this semester! I am SO HAPPY about this! I had my last day on Wednesday and all my work is turned in. Couldn't be happier. I can finally write again!
  3. My favorite Christmas movie of all time is: WHITE CHRISTMAS!
  4.  
    I LOVE this show! Old school?.... Maybe, but I don't care. My husband has to leave the room when I turn it on, but I always crack up on this part.
    So... in honor of Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye... Here is another Christmas favorite. (Did I mention these guys rock? ~ and no... I'm not 70 years old.)
     
     Now share your bits of awesome! What is your favorite Christmas movie?
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    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    Marvelous Michael Offutt

    Do you guys ever get nervous asking people to do interviews on your blog? Cause I totally do! Luckily, Michael was an awesome sport about this and I'm excited to share this interview starring him. Michael has a book coming out this spring - probably May (YAY!) And it sounds like it's going to be awesome! And one of the things I can't forget about Michael is that he always says what he thinks and doesn't sugar coat. I've come to appreciate this in people. So please welcome Michael!

    Michael Offutt Blog
    Michaels Book on Goodreads!


    Q: Thanks for joining us today, Mike! Tell us about yourself in 40 words or less....
    A: I think people have birdfeeders so that cats have something to do all day.

    Q: Now you've got a book, SLIPSTREAM, coming out this spring, correct? Can you tell us a little about your book?
    A:  One day, I thought to myself, “Why are the laws of physics so concrete?” The universe breaks down quite nicely to mathematical equations, you know? Scientists can describe gravity, the speed of light, and even the tidal surges of the oceans in mathematical terms. So I created a story envisioning God as an engineer. He created a computer program that defined all of the laws of physics for the entire universe.  When finished, like any good engineer would, he started the program up.  Then he looked into the universe to see how it was running. But just like in Schrodinger’s Cat, when he took an observation, it split the universe in two.  The idea of Schrodinger’s Cat is that at the time you take a measurement of the system, you create two possibilities.  One in which the cat is alive. The other in which the cat is dead.  And one is never aware of the other because these possibilities exist in separate universes.

    So God now had two of these to deal with.  The other universe was essentially a mirror image of the first one.  In order to keep from causing another split, God created angels, gave them the power to move between universes, and sent them to Earth and its twin world in the other universe and had them build enormous towers to contain the boxes that ran the amazing computer program mentioned above.  The one on earth is hidden under two miles of ice in Antarctica and looks like one of the many peaks of the Gamburtsev Mountain range recently discovered.  The other once rose above White Sands, New Mexico (it's all cracked and ruined now--explanation below).

    My story begins when something catastrophic happens. Earthlings detonated an atomic device in 1945 and the electromagnetic pulse crossed dimensions and turned the box off on the mirror world for a few seconds. So for an instant, all physics in that mirror universe failed.  The tower blew up and billions of people died.  But God was a clever engineer. He had a failsafe program that would launch in the event of something terrible happening to one of the two boxes.  Called Zero, it took the form of a man only with glass skin.  Zero saved the world but people didn’t trust him. So a woman named Eve volunteered to join with Zero so that he could understand human desires and needs. The only problem is that he assimilated the human fear of death. Because Zero was an immortal being, this irrational fear drove him insane. His mind fractured into Light and Shadow and they fought a civil war in his body. The Shadow won and imprisoned the Light’s consciousness.  Then, the Shadow became a mad despot over the humans on this mirror world who live in cloistered mega-cities with populations in the hundreds of millions.

    “Slipstream” is about Jordan, a 17-year-old boy on Earth who loves ice hockey and who in many ways, is a genius.  He finds out many incredible things about himself, not the least of which involves bringing Order to Chaos in a world that he didn’t even know existed.

    Q:  I've already got your book on my TBR list on Goodreads! Can't wait to read it. How would you describe the publishing process thus far?
    A:  Publishing is glacially slow. Plus it gives you lots of time to think on whether you suck or not as you’re waiting. There are times when I want to write my publisher and say, “Let’s hold off on putting my book out there” mostly because I wonder if there’s an error in the manuscript that I didn’t catch. I know there are.  I just cannot find them and neither can the editor I’ve worked with. But a small publisher doesn’t have an infinite budget for editing and at some point you have to let go and say “it’s good enough.” The other thing about publishing is that with the exception of very few people, no one makes any money at this. All of us writers just sit around dreaming up stories for people and we make like a hundred bucks (I think) and then it’s time for a new story.  Maybe some of the Big Six authors make money.  But I’ve noticed that Nathan Bransford hasn’t quit his job at CNET. That kinda tells me something…like maybe he made enough money to pay off a car.

    Q: Any tidbits of advice you want to share for aspiring authors? 
    A:  Read books. I’ve read 27 books just this year. Be active in the community. Review the books that you’ve read.  The reason I say to read books is because for the most part, the world gives back to you what you put into it.  If you are networking online through your blog, you have got to realize by now that there are thousands of aspiring writers out there. When I realized this, I decided to start buying their books and reading them. Someone has to, right? All of these people are out there spending time alone in front of their computers typing away and the time means a lot to them.  How would you feel as a writer, if people just pushed your book to the side and said, “I don’t have time for your book right now but could you please read mine?” That’s just rude.

    Q: You've got a great blog! Do you feel like blogging and social media is important for a writer or do you just do it for fun?
    A: It’s very important. If you don’t connect with other writers out there, you think somehow that you’re special and get this inflated idea that you might be a genius.  This couldn’t be further from the truth. I think nearly 8 out of 10 people in the U.S. are writers (don’t fact check that but I heard it from someone).  I think it’s accurate. I’ve gone around my workplace and asked people if they write and found that they do. All these people sitting in closets writing. Who knew? Everyone wants to have a voice and to be heard.  Blogging allows us an easy way to connect with each other and to share ideas and to support one another.

    Q: And now for a few "chocolate chip" questions.... (That's what I call them anyway... they make for a funny sort of treat.)
    So... if you were a crayon, what color would you be?
    A: I would be blue because I think blue eyes are pretty. Although Elizabeth Taylor pretty much takes the cake for the best looking natural peepers I’ve ever seen. Professionals claim they are violet though (a rare genetic mutation).

    Q: If you could make 1 trip in a time machine, would you travel to the past or the future, and why?
    A: I would want to see the dinosaurs. I’d go to the past to see that. I’d make sure I had the proper equipment to be comfortable though and to protect me from being eaten.

    Q: If you could be one literary character, who would you be?
    A: I think I’d pick Garion from David Eddings’ Belgariad. I loved the Belgariad as a kid, and the stories stuck with me as an adult. Garion was just really cool and the world was incredibly detailed. Plus he had blue eyes J.

    Q: And finally... share a favorite thought or quote with us!
    A: “They say when a parent dies, the child feels his own mortality. But when a child dies, it’s immortality that a parent loses.”  --spoken by Constance from the FX television show, American Horror Story

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    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Figuring Out Your Writing Process....

    I remember a point where I thought everyone "wrote" the same way. Then I realized there were "plotters" and "pantsers." 
    I was a pantser.
    BUT... I was fascinated with plotters and I wanted to learn more. I took in the "plotting" ideas and really sat down and tried it... 
    It wasn't for me.
    I felt awful! Yes - I seriously felt guilty because I was not a plotter. I just thought that had to be the best way to write. It made so much sense and I could see how useful it was.
    But I couldn't do it!

    So I came to the conclusion that it's okay if you're NOT a plotter. Even pantsers write awesome books and I can to! All I had to do was figure out how "I" wrote a book. Here's how I work...
    • I write! Yeah, since I'm a pantser - I just take the idea in my head and go with it. I do take some time to consider characters and such before hand, but most of their personality comes out on paper.
    • I consider my 1st draft my outline. There is so much wrong with it, but it get the ideas out of me and gives me something to work with.
    • I try not to edit while writing. That being said... I think it's impossible not to edit anything while writing. So let me explain. I try not to worry about the editing. But... (like in an outline,) when I notice something that I need to work on, or add to help build the story, build the plot line, characters, whatever - I add it! Or I at least leave a little comment note in the margin so I remember what I need to add or work on.
    • I thought I would dread revisions and editing, but I am actually looking forward to it. Weird, huh? But I am excited to see the book grow and improve and become polished!
    • I've decided patience is a virtue. (Took me a while to catch on, right?) But, I don't want to rush it. I want to take my time and really put something good out there. Originally I wanted to start to query my YA book by summer. But... I've noticed that taking a while to really make your book ROCK - is worth it. So while I'm going to work my butt off ... I am going to take my time with edits, revisions, crits and betas before I jump into action.
    And that is what I have figured out about my writing process. What is your writing process like?

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    Friday, December 2, 2011

    Bits of Awesome....

    Happy Friday Everyone! I am transferring "Bits of Awesome" over here for Fridays! Here are my shares for today...
    "Little Brother" (that's what I call him), got married yesterday! Doesn't he look handsome, and isn't his bride so beautiful? It was a wonderful day and we all survived the madness with the wind! WOW - that was some crazy weather, but I love weddings. LOVE THEM! Very happy for my brother. He found an amazing girl.



    Also - I LOVE Christmas time! I love it! So each Friday until Christmas I will share a Christmas song that I love! Not only do I love this song, but I love "The Grinch" movie that she sings it for!

    And FINALLY ~ I have made it through my first week as "Leigh Covington!" It's been so awesome and I appreciate all your support and all the follows! This is AWESOME, and not as hard to get used to as I thought it would be! :)

    What do have going on that is AWESOME? Do you have a favorite Christmas song?

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    Wednesday, November 30, 2011

    I need THERAPY...

    So I made an appointment and the therapist was in!

    It wasn't exactly like this....

    or like this...
     and thankfully, not like this....

    So you'll have to jump over to Dr. Shelly Brown's, and check it out for yourself!
    (It's so embarrassing to share my problems... but luckily, Shelly is a professional!)


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    Tuesday, November 29, 2011

    VARIANT - by Robison Wells

    Have you read VARIANT yet? It's on Amazon's Best Seller List, so it's definitely worth checking out. 

    Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Fantasy

    Blurb From Goodreads:
    Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.
    He was wrong.
    Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.
    Where breaking the rules equals death.

    But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape—his only real hope for survival—may be impossible.

    MY OPINION:
    4 out of 5 STARS!
    This was an awesome story! Seriously AWESOME, and suspenseful! I haven't read much in the sci-fi category lately, so this was different but cool. I was dying when you started to find out "who was who," and I'll leave it at that, so as not to spoil it. The only reason I gave it 4 out of 5 is because it was too slow in some parts. When I thought he should be sitting still, and plotting an escape he was actually attempting them and when I thought he should be RUNNING he wasn't. It was aggravating! But still - WORTH IT! If you haven't read this yet, be sure that it is next on your TBR list!

    On a cool note... I just won this on Donna's Blog, "Weaving a Tale or Two" and I am SO EXCITED. I was going to buy it for my niece for Christmas, but now I won it for her! YAY! Love to save me some money and give a good gift at the same time!

    If you've read VARIANT, what did you think of it? What are you reading right now?
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    Friday, November 25, 2011

    Hello!

    Hello friends! Please bear with me as I figure out a good design for this blog. So many backgrounds... so little time! Thanks for popping over! I hope you'll click the "follow" button while you're here. And watch for updates! Happy Writing!