Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tweet! Tweet!

I know some of you are still lagging in the discovery of Twitter's awesomeness. That's okay. I'll let it go a while longer. After all, I was once in your shoes; sad, lonely, bitter, perhaps a bit arrogant, and certainly far too busy to be bothered by such trivial nonsense as what Joey Smith of Bumblersville, AK had for breakfast this morning. Who the hell cares what Joey ate? I sure don't.

Plus, what's all that nonsense with the "@" and "#" signs? Way too confusing. Better to get back to your freshly baked, hot-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies and watch Oprah.

But, wait! Don't give up so fast! Twitter is so much more than random ampersand and number signs and what Joey's having for breakfast. It's more. It's oh, so much more! And you can still eat all the cookies you want. Remember, you're on the internet - no one can see you! (Well, except for the aliens, but that's a whole 'nother story...)

Want to connect with other writers? Want to get great tips from agents? Want to participate in chats regarding the publishing biz? Then get your lazy bum over to Twitterville and start tweeting! It's fun, easy, enlightening, surprising, and ever-changing. Go on. Dive in. The water's a perfect 85 degrees.

Just don't tell me what you ate for breakfast.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I'm Blown Away...

Allison Winn Scotch, the author or NY Times Bestseller "Time of My Life" has been posting about what works and what doesn't in queries on her blog this week. Today's post was "what works." Here's the crazy part: she chose my query! Please hop on over to her place, read the queries, and tell her I sent you. I am humbled and honored that a writer like Allison finds my query so wonderful....

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Don't Let Time Command at All, Just Make Sure You Hear it Call...

Love this picture. Circles have no beginning and no end, as does much of life. Life is filled with cycles. Watching children grow and experience things we did, caring for our parents as they once cared for us, and birth to death to birth again... (in many Eastern faiths.) Life, in so many ways, comes full circle

Since I got such lovely comments on my lyrics in my last post, I figured I'd ride that egotistical wave a bit longer. The title to this post is from a song I wrote before most of you were probably born. (Seriously. I wrote it in 1980.) I actually co-wrote it with a dear friend whose name I won't mention (cough, Erich, cough). It's about finding love and reaching for your dreams. Funny how some things never change... Here are the lyrics:

Hear it Call
Dreaming dreams along the way
If you slow down you'll fall astray
Finding what you
need in love
Knowing you'll soon rise above

Remnants of you fade away
Searching for the way to say

Loving is the only way
Let me in and let me stay

Learning all the secrets and knowing how to play the game...

I can feel it coming on
To turn your back on love is wrong
Don't let time command at all
Just make sure you hear it call

Forever is a long, long time
Don't let anger plague your mind
Passion is the key to see
You will find your way to me

Learning all the secrets and knowing how to play the game...

I can feel it coming on
To turn your back on love is wrong
Don't let time command at all
Just make sure you hear it call

What dreams have you left in the dust because too much time has passed, you're too old, or you just don't "have it in you" anymore? What new dreams have you created for yourself? What goals are you currently pursuing?

and...

Do you hear the clock ticking? If so, what do you make it mean? What is it you're waiting for?

By the way, I chose this particular watch for a reason. See that little key? We each have one. It's the key to open ourselves up to anything we choose to pursue. What does your key unlock?

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:
I want to alert my writer friends of a wonderful new agency with a kick-ass logo. Upstart Crow consists of agents Michael Stearns, Chris Richman, and Danielle Chiotti. They're website is easy to navigate, and their blog is a breath of fresh air in its honesty and availability to writers. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Creating Something from Nothing or Stepping on a Cloud & Hoping I Won't Fall Through

I'm a quarter into my latest novel, MURDER ON SONGBIRD LANE. Each day when I open my computer, I feel as if I'm stepping on a cloud and hoping not to fall through. That's the kind of faith it takes to create something from nothing. That's the kind of faith it takes to be an artist.

Like Elizabeth Gilbert, the brilliant writer of one of my favorite books Eat Pray Love, said in her uber-awesome speech on creativity, you must have faith in The Muse or God or Your Inspiration or whatever you choose to call it. You need to show up every day for your part of the job and have faith that she - your muse - will, too.

Here are lyrics to a song I wrote many moons ago. (Seriously, I was 20.) It's called VOICES IN THE WIND and it's about exactly that - listening for the magical voices and capturing them while you can:

VOICES IN THE WIND
Songs from within the w
ind
Rap upon their doors

Currents whisper to lookers who will hear

Camouflaged dancers all waiting for a show
Waiting for their show

To talk and laugh and sing


Magical murmurs are asking to be caged

So they may open up and speak their minds on stage

Absent are heartbeats, still they're living for word

Living to be heard
To talk and laugh and sing


To talk and laugh and sing
A message each does bring

To have the chance to say...


THE MYSTERIOUS CREATIVE PROCESS
We artists sometimes feel afraid to do the work we were put on this earth to do. Why? Because being a creative person is both a gift and a curse. A gift because artists see the world differently and are able to communicate our communal experiences better or more clearly or more powerfully than non-artists. A curse because being an artist is often a scary unacknowledged thing that can - if we let it - haunt our very souls.

So, here's to you, my writer friends. Here's to your courage, your commitment, your artistry, and your willingness to bare your souls in the face of what may be joyous glory or dark lonely despair. Why do we do it? Because we are artists and it is our joy, our challenge, and our calling to create.

SHOW UP FOR WORK!
So, for today, I'm showing up for my part of the job. I'm committed, as always, to creating something from nothing - and to stepping out onto that cloud feeling fully supported and free.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'd Like to Thank My First Grade Teacher...

I haven't received an award in awhile, nor have I given one out. All that's about to change. The lovely Karen Walker from Karen...following the whispers was kind enough to honor me with the wonderful Superior Scribbler Award. How sweet is that? I'd like to thank my family, cats, and Mrs. Stenz, my first grade teacher for teaching me how to write. She had no idea what her teaching skills would reap. I'm sure she couldn't have imagined such breathtaking awards coming down the pike for at least one of her incredibly short students.

So, here's the deal. I need to somehow elect a mere five blogs to pass this auspicious award on to, which is ridiculously hard to do. First of all, here's the award in all its awesome glory:
For the record, and I mean this with all my heart, the blogs I follow all deserve this award. So, if I haven't named you here, feel free to hop on the Superior Scribbler train and take this award with my blessing.

However, here are the "proper" rules:
  1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

  2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
  3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to this post, which explains The Award.

  4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!

  5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.
So, here are Write on Target's Super Scribbler recipients:

1) My dear friend, Beth of Nutwood Junction fame. She is one of the most prolific bloggers I know, and every one of her posts are well thought-out and informative. Plus, she's got an awesome husband. Thanks, Beth, for always lighting up my day!

2) Mandy the Magnificent. Her blog Mandy's Life After 30 is heartwarming, funny, and well-written. I'm so glad we've recently found each other.

3) Can you say "soul sister?" That's what Penny Roberts aka PenPen of Sugar Spun Dreams is to me. I love, love, love her posts. The pictures she finds are pretty enough to eat (of course, they're often of cupcakes and other French pastries), the music on her blog is THE coolest, and most importantly, we share a deep love for Katy Perry.

4) The lovely Rebecca over at Provocation of Mine (D) is one of those writers who keeps you coming back for more. Her honesty and humor are contagious, or at least I hope they are! She's tall, beautiful, and incredibly talented.

5) If you're feeling a little naughty, try Deborah over at The Peach Tart. This trashy Southern Belle will surprise you and make you blush. I promise, you won't be disappointed.

And, I would be completely amiss if I didn't pause to congratulate one of my favorite on-line pals, Kiersten White. Kiersten is a YA writer who not only snagged the attention of the brilliant agent Michelle Wolfson, but has just received a three-book deal with HarperTeen. Her first book of the three, Paranormalcy, will be released next year. Yay, Kiersten! I'm continuing to do the East Coast Happy Dance for you, though, I must admit, my legs are getting VERY tired! (Oh, and please send Laptop my love.)

Do yourself a favor and visit these award-winning blogs, and all of the award-deserving blogs listed on my site. It's an honor and a pleasure to be on this writing journey with so many talented, funny, and truly lovely writers. Thanks to you all for making my life that much richer.;-)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Embrace Action, Release Results

I've been on a wild querying streak lately for my last novel MURDER ON TWILIGHT CIRCLE (MTC). I've done tons of research and am being very particular about the agents I query. This takes time and focus, but as strange as this may sound, I love the querying process. I like writing query letters, and the process is akin to courting your future partner, which can be both frustrating and exhilarating.

The key, I've found, is to Embrace Action and Release Results. In other words, be as proactive as possible in your search for an agent, but once you hit the "send" button, let go of the result. Of course, this is easier said than done, but it's a good game plan. And, when you're determined to be published, you must have a game plan!

Here's how I've broken it down:

1) EMBRACE ACTION - Write the best freaking book you can!!!

a) Take your time. It's not a race. Slow down and concentrate on the story at hand.

b) Have word count goals and a completion date goal. Some of you may remember a prior post I did on the Daily 1,000. For me, that's a daily word count goal that is achievable. If I go over, great! But, I do my darndest to get at least those 1,000 words a day in.

2) Have one or two people read your first draft.
Find one or two people you trust to give you the good new and the bad news of your first draft. For MTC, I had two people read my first draft - a beta reader (kudos to Julie!) and my faithful alpha reader (love you, hon). The crits I got at that point were PRICELESS and had me revise in ways I wouldn't have thought of on my own. I know some of you think you'd rather have hot needles stuck in your eyes than have someone read your first draft, but trust me - this can be the smartest thing you do. I highly encourage it!!!

3) Edit the book OVER AND OVER AND OVER again!
Seriously, edit and revise until the point you can practically recite the pages by heart. I read straight through for the first revision, and then over and over until I feel the whole story flows and is 'complete.' You may want to review a chapter until you've got it right, or keep reading from beginning to end, or maybe a little of both. How you choose to do this is up to you! Just, make sure you do it until there's nothing of any major importance left to change.

Remember - you're a writer. Therefore, there will ALWAYS be wordsmithing to do no matter how many times you read through your ms. But, you need to get to a point where you know that changing this word or that sentence may be a good idea, but it's really not necessary. You have to know when you are done.

4) Have beta readers read your 'finished' project and give you feedback. Take what they say graciously, but with a grain of salt. Only make those final changes that completely ring true for you.

Then, and only then...

5) Start the querying process!

a) Write your query. Polish it until you feel it's sleek, to the point, and interesting enough to spark an agent's interest. Remember, the idea here is NOT to hit on all the characters and all the plot points, but to give an overall feeling of your work. ALWAYS INCLUDE: Title, Word Count, Genre, and Contact Information!

b) Research agents thoroughly. The tools I use are: Querytracker, Agent Query, and Publisher's Marketplace. You should also check out the agent's website to learn about the agency and the indivdual agent's backgrounds and genre preferences. Absolute Write is another great tool to see what other writers have said about various agents. There are other useful sources, but these are the ones I tend to use. If you've got questions on any of these, please feel free to leave it in the 'comments' or to e-mail me at dlschubert@verizon.net.

c) Make the queries personal where you can. If you've met an agent or heard an agent speak at a conference, be sure to mention it. If you adore a book they've repped, mention it. Those types of things help get their attention and create a personal connection. As scary as agents may seem, they're human! We all like to feel connected. Here's a great article from today by Agent Jessica Sinsheimer that addresses this very subject.

d) Be prompt, courteous, and professional when responding to partial or full requests from agents. Make sure to give them exactly what they request in the format they request it.

6) RELEASE RESULTS! Congratulations! You've done what you can do. You've written a great book, gotten as much feedback as you can, researched agents, and sent out queries. Now, trust the universe to do its job, and get to work on your next project.

As written in my header, "Little By Little All Your Sweet Dreams Come True."

Here's to all of our sweet dreams coming true.

Namaste - I bow to you.;-)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Securing an Agent is Child's Play...NOT!

Great news for us mystery/thriller/suspense writers over at the wonderful blog, Pimp My Novel.

I have many wonderful attributes (must you look so confused?), but the big ones I'm missing are PATIENCE and NOT BEING IN CONTROL. I blame both of these glaring defects on my Brooklyn-born DNA. Tests show it's physically impossible to be born in Brooklyn and be a patient person who doesn't care about being in control. Freaks like that simply don't exist. Or they do, but they're immediately banned to Staten Island.

So, what do I do? I choose a career path that is wholly based on patience and my having absolutely no control over anything. Pure genius.

I'm finding the whole "getting an agent" game to be eerily similar to what my mom used to tell me in college, I mean, middle school. "Chase the boys until they catch you!" I'm doing the chasing now in hopes that some brilliant, talented, visionary agent will catch me! My mom also said once they "catch" you, you need to play "hard to get." Really? What should I say when I get that call?

Hi, Dream Agent. Why don't you have your girl call my girl?

or...

Leave it after the beep. I'm lunching with my therapist.

or...

I'll think about it and get back to you during the next Perseid Meteor Shower.

or...

Tag! You're it!
Then hang up the phone.

Also, there are like a gazillion more writers than agents, so securing said visionary agent is like playing a gigantic game of Musical Chairs. Every time the music stops, which is pretty much continuously, some poor sod of a writer gets kicked out of the game. And, I've been told, agents giggle. Some even clap. Harsh, wouldn't you say?

So, here I wait. Patiently. Having no control whatsoever over the situation, other than writing and querying and silently selling my soul to the publishing gods for a buck forty nine.

Of course, my beloved blog and Twitter make the days go by faster and keep my mind off the cruel game these dastardly agents play. But, really, how much peeking in on Ashton Kutcher or tweeting about my angst and desires can a girl do in one day before she gets bored out of her mind and wants to hang herself from the nearest DSW shoe store? (I mean, if you're going to go, you may as well go in a new pair of Manolos, right?)

And, I'm working on my new WIP, MURDER ON SONGBIRD LANE and having more fun than a gal alone in her bedroom with six cats should have. But still...

What about you? How do you bide your time while waiting for THE CALL? Or, for those of you who've received THE CALL and are waiting to hear about your submissions, how do you distract your overactive minds???

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Kicking and Screaming Into Heaven

Now that you've helped me get past my insecurities, I'm back on track. Thanks for all the great advice, and for putting up with my glaringly obnoxious bout of self-pity. As Chelsea Handler would say, "WHAT... a jack-ass!"

I'm now less than 250 words away from my first big mile marker on MURDER ON SONGBIRD LANE (MSL). I'm nearing 10,000 words, which means I'm about 1/8 of the way done with the new book. And, if I do say so myself, it's getting exciting! Well, as long as your not the doctor's wife who doesn't make it past Chapter Three...

The first in the series, MURDER ON TWILIGHT CIRCLE (MTC), was set in an upscale suburb of Philly. MSL is set in a beach town in southeastern Connecticut. Each place lends itself to a different kind of story. It's fascinating to see how a place becomes another character.

I love the smart-ass back-and-forth dialogue between the two main characters, Jenny Sampson, the lay person who ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time when her doctor's wife friends bite the big one (she happens to be a doctor's wife too, so she'd better beware!), and Bree Lang, the stunning, red-headed, bisexual, beauty-pageant winning Assistant District Attorney who insists on dragging Jenny in on the investigations.

Jenny and Bree come from strikingly different backgrounds, which probably explains why they get along. Like they say, 'opposites attract.' Jenny grew up in a lower middle class, Jewish, Long Island family and is a married mom of two teenage boys. Bree was raised in a wealthy WASP Main Line Philadelphia clan and lives with her girlfriend, art gallery owner Lisa Ling. "Ling and Lang," Jenny says. "No wonder you two get along so well!"

When Jenny was young, her parents took her to public beaches like Point Lookout and Jones Beach. Bree's family, on the other more well-manicured hand, summered in the Hamptons. Jenny makes sure to point out that, although Bree comes from money, Jenny is royalty. She's a Jewish American Princess.

I'll keep you posted on my progress on MURDER ON SONGBIRD LANE. Thanks again, for your help in getting me out of my funk.

IN OTHER (RELATED) NEWS:
I've finally embraced Twitter! Once again, like the groom in the picture above, I found myself kicking and screaming my way into heaven. This has happened several times in my life, namely when I did The Landmark Forum - a transformational weekend I experienced back in 1992. (Maybe I'll do a post on it sometime...)

I'm finding Twitter to be fun, interesting, and informative. I'm following and am being followed by brilliant writers like Kristina Riggle (real life & liars), Allison Wynn Scotch (time of my life), and Barbara Delinsky (where do I begin to list the bestsellers???). How amazing is that? It's kind of like I imagine chatting with Stevie Nicks would be - totally freaking awesome.

It's interesting to see how some agents, I won't name names, think they're "above" speaking to unpublished writers. Then again, there are the super awesome ones like rock star, Janet Reid, who treat people with respect and answer your messages directly. (I've got two rock stars in this post, Stevie and Janet!)

If you haven't joined Twitter, give it a try. You just might find yourself kicking and screaming into heaven...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'll Send an SOS to the World...

Is it just me, or does this picture look suspiciously like a phallic symbol?

It's amazing how starting a new book sets off the doubting Thomasinas in my mind. How do I do this? What makes me think I can do this? How can this book possibly be as good as the last? Will I ever get to 80,000 words? What the hell was I thinking????

For the most part, I'm an upbeat, confident, optimistic person. But every now and then, I feel like I did in high school... Does anybody like me? Am I popular? Will I succeed in life? Am I like a totally lame dweeb, dude? Will I have a date for Friday night? Where the hell did I leave my stash?

Part of my self-doubt has to do with the carnival query ride I'm on. I've had 6 partial requests, 3 full requests, and 14 passes on MURDER ON TWILIGHT CIRCLE, so every few days I'm either up or down on that fun-filled roller coaster ride. Plus, I'm completely impatient and a bit of a control freak (okay, a TOTAL control freak), and those traits don't bode well in the publishing biz, no they don't bode well at all.

Judging from past experience, the further I get into the book, the more my confidence will rise. I just finished the third chapter, and am about 7,000 words in. Once I figure out how the victim got whacked and who did it, I'll be fine. I know who she is, I'm just not sure who'd want to kill her or why. I mean I have some ideas, but I'm not quite there yet. After all, she's a perfectly lovely lady, drop-dead gorgeous (bad pun, I know), plays tennis, watches her neighbor's kids, gets regular facials at the spa. What's not to like? Until I figure out the mystery, be glad you're not my husband, kids, or kitties, because I'll be like a totally neurotic mess, dude!

Of course, once the WORLD'S HOTTEST LITERARY AGENT who's meant to represent me finally stops playing hard to get and shows him/herself, then all will be well in my world.

That is, until I start the next book...

So, I'm sending out an SOS to the world. Is this the same for any of you? Words of wisdom? Specific names of bridges to jump off of? Poison to drink? Chocolate to eat? New shoes to buy? Should I call The Police and ask their advice? I'm sure Sting could stop riding his horse on his huge-ass English estate for like five minutes to give me some words of wisdom. I mean, it wouldn't kill him or anything. (Why does everything in my life lately revolve around killing and murder?)

Anyway, you get the picture. I NEED HELP!!!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Doctor Is In! Or, Five Things to Tickle Your...

Is it just me, or are people awfully cranky lately? I'm sensing a need for a little therapeutic humor, so... THE DOCTOR IS IN! Dr. Debbie, at your service! (FYI, of course, that's me in the picture. Who the hell else did you think it was, some random gorgeous model?)

Okay, here are five things to tickle your bone. I mean, your funny bone. Let's start with a true story:

1) While driving today with my son, Adam, he asked how we used to travel in the olden days - you know, before there was GPS. I told him we used a thing called a "map." I even took one out and showed it to him.

Me: "Look, Adam. Here's Pennsylvania. And over here, that's New York."

Bear in mind, he's 20.

Adam: "I can't imagine going on a road trip using only a map. That's insane!"

Um, yeah. We were a bunch of crazy lunatics driving around the freeways willy-nilly, crashing into each other, fender benders, head-ons, going south in the northbound lanes, you name it, we did it. How we ever got from Point A to Point B using only pictures in a big, unwieldy book in nothing short of a miracle. "Where the hell is GPS?!" we subliminally screamed in perfect unison. INSANITY I TELL YOU, INSANITY!

2) Anything on Funny or Die, but here's my current favorite: Bush's Letter to Obama.

3) Margaret and Helen - Two elderly women with wicked political wit and wisdom. They've had over two million hits. You read that right, TWO MILLION!!!

4) My husband and I are getting a little too into Bill Hader's imitation of Keith Morrison of Dateline NBC Fame. Oooohhhh!

5) And, of course, one of the funniest SNL clips of all time. Hint: It's something in a box...!

Check these funny things out, and then come back and tell me I put a smile on your face. I admit it, I need the reinforcement. It's not my fault, I'm the firstborn of four girls.

Laugh, people, it's good for the soul. It's also the best medicine. And, I'm pretty sure it's a universal language. ;-)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Baby Bump Alert! (Bet You Didn't Even Know I Was Pregnant!)

MURDER ON SONGBIRD LANE is starting to kick. Small, barely noticeable tingles that feel like butterfly wings fluttering against my skin. 2,000 words in, I feel lost, unsure, incapable, and incredibly excited. This is a miracle - creation at its base level emerging into the physical world.

I said to my husband last night, "I'm in labor, honey, and it's going to be a long, drawn out delivery. Bet you didn't even know I was pregnant!" He laughed. He's used to living with a writer. "Yup," he said, "I'll support you however I can. I'll even cut the cord when it's time."

Ah, yes, cutting the cord. I just did that with MURDER ON TWILIGHT CIRCLE. It wasn't easy and it wasn't pretty. I didn't want to let go of my beautiful new baby, but, alas, it was time. I've sent it on its way, watching as it spreads its wings and makes its mark in the world (five partials and one full, so far - not bad for a newborn!).

So, to all you writers who are in the long, sometimes painful, and often thrilling birthing process, may you have the strength, endurance, and deep love to bring that baby to life.

And, you thought men couldn't give birth?

*This post was inspired by my beautiful sister, Michelle, who is weeks away from giving birth to her first baby (how cute is she?!), and by Sara Megibow at Nelson Literary Agency. You simply must read this post!

And, yup, the fat, little, nugget above is me!

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