Saturday, October 31, 2009

Phall in Philly

I'll be back for a writing post in a few days. In the meantime, here are a few pics showing how beautiful it is here outside of Philly this time of year. We lived in Connecticut for over five years, and nothing beats autumn in New England. However, Phall in Philly comes close.

I took these pictures last weekend on a drive through the nearby countryside. At French Creek State Park, a gentleman asked if we'd like him to take a picture of us. Turns out, the guy's a professional photographer. (See pic at bottom.) Some days, you just get lucky.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Write Much?

I've been asked by several writer friends how I'm able to write at such a great pace. Until I was asked this, I never thought of my writing pace as anything special or out of the ordinary. In fact, I always feel I can be writing more.

My "normal" daily word count is somewhere between 1500 - 2,500. Some days it's less, some days it's more. My best advice is the eloquent: BIC - Butt In Chair. I'm blessed in that I'm currently able to write full time. I have friends who work full time and still write as much as I do. They're the ones who deserve praise.

Here are my easy steps to increase your daily word count:

1) Find a story you LOVE - not one you just really like, but one you want to marry.

2) Think about it, dream about it, bore those around you silly with tiny details about something your character said or a small plot line or a description of a location. Conversation should go something like this:

You: Ohmygod! Did I tell you what Brooke said in Chapter 3? She said, and I swear this is true, she said, "Ohmygod, Danielle! Did you see Chelsea's shoes? Can you even believe anyone would wear anything like that in public? Ohmygod!"

Friend/Family Member/Stranger on the Subway: "Wow. Really?"

You: "Yes, and you know what happened when Justin ran over Taylor's little sister's tricycle? Ohmygod, it was like a total mess! He apologized like over and over again and Taylor wouldn't forgive him, and ohmygod, the whole neighborhood was in like a major war!"

F/FM/S on Sub: "Wow. Really?"

You: "Yes! And did I tell you about the paint color in Tristin's mom's living room? Tristin is Justin's best friend, by the way. Anyway, it's hunter green! No, seriously! You know that really deep, dark shade of green? Yup, that's called "Hunter." Can you believe anyone would paint their living room that color?"

F/FM/S on Sub: "Um, I guess not..."

And so on.

3) Don't think about anything else.

4) Stress about other partials/manuscripts you have out to agents.

5) Drink water.

6) Write.

7) Write.

8) Write.

9) Write.

10) Sleep. (I recommend at least 3-4 hours per night, though that's not completely necessary.)

11) Write.

12) Write.

13) Eat chocolate.

14) Watch Oprah.

15) Write.

16) Eat chocolate.

17) Write.

18) Shower. (I recommend once every other day, but again, not completely necessary.)

19) Feed your children. (Unless they're over three, in which case they can fend for themselves. They'll understand. Hell, it's your writing career we're talking about here!!)

20) Write.

21) Write while eating chocolate.

22) Write.

I hope this helps. I tried to break it down as best I could, but it's hard to remember every little detail. Let me know if this method works for you. If so, I might have to write a book about it.

Sharon Mayhew at Random Thoughts gave me this bloody lovely blog award. I say that because Sharon is English - how bloody lovely is that?

So, now I am tasked with nominating seven other worthy bloggers who must also follow the rest of the directions:

1) Copy the pretty picture and post it on your blog.
2) Thank the person that gave it to you and link to their blog. (Thanks again, Sharon, you princess, you!)
3) Write 7 things about yourself we don't know.
4) Choose 7 other bloggers to pass the award to.
5) Link to those 7 other bloggers.
6) Notify your 7 bloggers.

7 Things you don't know about me... (Not all may be true.)
1) I am captive to six cats and a bunny.
2) I'm a size 6, I mean 2.
3) I owned my own marketing business.
4) I have a new niece who is the most beautiful baby on earth. (PROOF)
5) I'm only 25.
6) I was Miss Universe 2001.
7) I was in a band called, "27 Dreams." (Can you say, "Big 1980's hair?!)

And now, to pass on this illustrious baton, here are 7 folks whose blogs are super-creative (and whom I've not given awards to before):

1) Literary Jules - Um, yeah. Julie Nelson is my best writer friend and she's got a super-cool new blog. You should like definitely follow her.

2) Just Jemi - Jemi Fraser rocks. She's an honest, supportive writer - excatly the kind of person you want in your corner. Plus, she's Canadian, eh? What's not to love about that? Follow Jemi on Twitter.

3) Between Fact and Fiction - Natalie Whipple is a genius. She writes. She draws. And she is recently repped by rock star agent Nathan Bransford. Just sayin'. Follow Natalie on Twitter.

4) Ruthanne Reid - Ruthanne is the consummate friend. She's all about supporting others along their path and being unduly modest about her own talents. Do yourself a favor. Check out her blog. It's filled with awesome. Follow Ruthanne on Twitter.

5) Cupcakes and Corsets - Need I say more?

6) Stephanie Damore - Stephanie is a certifiably adorable ball of writing energy. She has the chutzpah to post her query on line and let the shlubs like me critique it. She's the bomb.

7) karen...following the whispers - Down to earth, peaceful, zen-like, sweet, kind, talented, modest Karen. Follow her and her beautiful whispers.

Once again, thanks Sharon. I deeply appreciate the award. ;-)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Spread Your Wings & Fly or Before, After, Wow! What a Difference!

Here are the pictures you've been waiting for all your lives. The back of my head before and after my hair straightening. No, no, you don't have to thank me. I'm here to serve.

Um, sure, Debbie, whatever. You've finally cracked just like we knew you would.

What, if anything, does my hair have to do with writing, you ask? Plenty! I've done several posts on the difference between first drafts and final drafts, but the subject - at least for me - never grows old. These pictures of the back of my head represent "first draft" vs "final draft." For my purposes here, final draft means the point where you, as the writer, decide you're ready to submit your work to agents. From there, the manuscript is almost always edited further by both literary agents and editors at the publishing houses, so rarely is it ever the final, final draft.

The picture with my wavy hair represents the first draft. Every piece is there, ready to be teased and combed into place. However, it's a mess. It's gnarly, knotted, unruly, and not too nice to look at. My straight hair illustrates the final draft. It's perfectly structured, well-defined, and elegant. Months of focused, detailed, concentrated work is needed to transform the unruly mess into well-defined elegance.

If you're anything like me, getting to the point where you feel your work is "done" is one of the most difficult aspects of the writing process. I could literally edit my "final" draft over and over ad nauseum until the cows come home or until hell freezes over or until (insert your favorite cliche here) and never feel "done." So, when I got one request that quickly turned to three for a novel I'd finished months ago, I felt I needed to "review" my final draft before I sent it out.

Over the last 10 days, I've had the pleasure of revisiting my novel SPARKS FLY SOMETIMES: CONFESSIONS OF A ROCK PRINCESS. While it still needed editing, it was better than I remembered. I read through the entire manuscript, deleting unnecessary words, tweaking dialogue, and tightening scenes. It was a gift because it allowed me to see how far I'd come as a writer in such a short period of time, and because it gave me a chance to fall in love with the characters and story all over again.

And, I'm happy to say, SFS is complete! Until an agent or editor tells me otherwise, it's a "final draft." Like my sister, Laurie says, "Before, after - wow! What a difference!"

I've sent my baby off to those few select agents and, like a good parent, hope it will spread it's wings and fly.

And now it's back to the wild, unruly mess that is the beloved first draft. YA novel, look out, cause HERE I COME!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Have Nothing More to Say.... BWAHAHAHAH!!!! and A Certifiable Dream Come True

I was talking to my dear friend, Julie today. She was at work and I was at home doing my usual writing/editing/Twitter tinkering .

Julie: "Okay, don't say anything else interesting cause I have to get back to work."

Me: "Fine. I have nothing more to say."

We burst out laughing.

Me: "I think that may be the funniest thing I've ever said!"

Julie: "No doubt!"

And, hence, a new blog post was born...

Do you have friends like that - people you talk to when you don't think you have much to say, and the next thing you know, you've been talking for an hour? (Yes, guys, you do it, too. Admit it. It won't kill you.) Friends like these are treasures, which reminds me of a song I wrote years ago.

I'd moved to California from Colorado to pursue my musical dreams. I was feeling homesick and lonely, missing the ones I loved most in the world. My parents had sent me a diamond necklace for my 21st birthday. So, what's a lonely songwriter to do? I wrote a song. Here are a couple of verses:

I'm taking my mind to a simpler time
Trying to find the love tha
t I left far behind me...
Running back home where the snow sometimes falls,

Finding shelter i
n the arms of it all

And I'm knowing our ties won't be severed with time
That's a wonder, I'll treasure it like a my mind
You are my diamonds, I find

So hold me closer to you, closer all the time

Know I do love you Yes, I love you all the time...

It's a simple, age-old message: treasure those you love, especially family and friends, and make sure they know it.

I had a beautiful follow-up conversation on the phone today with an agent I greatly admire. She told me she loved my writing and thinks my dialogue is funny and snappy. To hear words like that from someone who knows what good writing is, is a certifiable dream come true. I've still got work to do, and I'm looking forward to doing that work.

Whether or not this agent and I are "meant to be" remains to be seen, but I do know one thing. Don't stop pursuing your dreams. (Cue Journey: Don't Stop Believin') There are many wonderful agents out there who care deeply about the art of writing and about nurturing careers. When each of us is ready, we will find that "perfect agent" - the one who "gets" our writing and is inspired enough to go to bat for it.

Until then, hang in there, my friends! Your day, and hopefully mine, will come. Get out your laptops or notebooks and keep practicing your craft. One thing I know for certain is that successful writers have one thing in common: They write. A lot.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Soon is Good, But Good is Better Or, Please, Take Your Time

First of all, I promised an update of my Denver trip complete with poodle skirt pics. Well, it turned out not to be a poodle skirt, but pretty darn close. Given my musical background, this skirt was more appropriate. Please keep your laughter to a low roar.

Here are me and my family. Aren't my guys cute? If you look closely, you can see their fake tats on their arms with hearts and Mary Lou and Peggy Sue written on them.

And here are the my parents eating their cake and looking spectacular on their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

They had a ceremony and read vows to each other. It was touching to see my parents declare their love for each other after a lifetime together.

Afterward, we had a 1950's styled party complete with an acapella singing group doing all 50's music, hula hoops, and a 50's style dinner including mashed potatoes, chicken pot pies, meatballs, and chocolate cake.

Chuck and I performed the song, "All I Have to Do is Dream" by the Everly Brothers, and my whole family performed the song, "The Great Pretender," substituting lyrics written by my sister, Laurie.

Here are a couple of pictures of the cake with my parent's wedding picture on top. Isn't it gorgeous?

Of course, meeting my new niece was a highlight of the trip. Here she is, in a puff of pink, all dressed up for the big party.

First of all, a shout-out to one of my favorite Twitter friends. Congrats to you, Jamie, for securing representation! I'm thrilled for you and look forward to watching your career flourish.

Secondly, another agent has requested the full manuscript for SPARKS FLY SOMETIMES, which is beyond awesome. He said something to me that struck a chord. When I told him I was reviewing the ms before I send it out he said, "Soon is good, but good is better." Wow. Simple yet totally freaking brilliant. I have a tendency to want everything done yesterday (I blame it on my Brooklyn DNA) so this statement is deep for me. Very deep. SLOW. DOWN. Hmm.... What an ingenious concept.

So, I'm doing my best to read/edit at a reasonable rate, and not feel like I have to finish it in record time. I'm not yet halfway through, and have shaved off over 4,000 words. As I stated in my last post, Twitter has helped me hone my writing skills and become fearless in slashing words that aren't necessary. There's always more that can be cut, but I'm doing my best. In addition, I'm tweaking the dialogue to make it tighter, more efficient, and as genuine as possible.

I'm also writing THE SECRET KEEPER, but more slowly than before the requests came in for SPARKS FLY. I'm in love with my new book, and setting it aside is hard. It's like leaving your newborn with a sitter for the first time and feeling your arms ache with longing.

BUT... I know my baby's safe in the heart of my laptop (and on a back-up CD), and that as soon as I finish editing SFS, I will nurture it to the best of my ability.

So, thank you, you-know-who, for your sage advice. I'm doing my best to follow your counsel. I hope my work will prove worthy. No matter what, it's making me a better writer which is the greatest gift of all.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sparks Fly Sometimes or Strange but Wonderful Things Can Happen...

A strange but wonderful thing happened yesterday. I was asked for a short partial - 10 pages - and a few hours later, a full manuscript for my novel SPARKS FLY SOMETIMES: CONFESSIONS OF A ROCK PRINCESS (SFS). My one line pitch for this novel is: Life as a rock princess in the Denver music scene does nothing to prepare Jenny Sampson for life as a domestic goddess in the suburbs of Philly.

Those of you who have been following me for a while may remember I queried this novel in the spring and when I finished MURDER ON TWILIGHT CIRCLE (MTC) began querying that. Then I went on to begin the follow-up to MTC called MURDER ON SONGBIRD LANE and, since the 20th of September (yup, that's the exact date I started writing!) I've been immersed in my first YA novel called THE SECRET KEEPER.

So, back to the strange thing. First of all, the agent who requested it is someone I met in person at the Backspace Conference in May. I fell instantly and madly in love with her and wondered what devil I could barter my soul with to get her to represent me. I queried her, at her request, and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Then she hired some help, got caught up with her queries, and lo and behold, requested my partial then full manuscript of SFS.

Said agent has kindly given me as much time as I need to review the ms. It's only been a few months since I finished writing it, but it seems like ages due to all the writing I've done since then. The good news is, I'm thoroughly enjoying reading SFS again! What an unexpected treat. The bad news is, I'm going to be slowing down on THE SECRET KEEPER, which I've been flying through at an average of about 2,000 words a day, while I re-read SFS.

You may be wondering why I need to review SFS since I completed it in May. I'm reviewing it because I know I'm a better writer now, and I'm taking my "new" eyes to peruse and lightly edit the entire ms. Fortunately, it's in pretty good shape. The biggest change I've noticed is due to the fact that since I finished writing SFS, I've become an avid Tweeter. That means, communicating in 140 characters or less, which translates into being a more economical writer. I'm eliminating a lot of unnecessary words in SFS or rewriting sentences to be more succinct. It's inspiring to see how far I've come in such a short time. I love SFS, and it's a gift to be given the opportunity to revisit it and tweak it that much more, all the while knowing it will be before the eyes of an agent I greatly admire.

So, there you have it. Like an unexpected bouquet of flowers, sometimes, when you least expect it, strange but wonderful things can happen. ;-)

Monday, October 12, 2009

"Agents are Mysterious People" - Interview with Agent Michelle Wolfson

I'm thrilled and honored to present an interview with Agent Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary Agency. Michelle is the agent of one of my favorite on-line blogging buds, the brilliant and talented Kiersten White.

Michelle and I were involved in a twitter chat regarding exclusives, and one thing led to another, and I roped her in, I mean gently persuaded her to be interviewed by moi on Write on Target. Michelle is a funny, down to earth, and extremely dedicated agent - exactly the kind of agent I hope will represent me one of these days.

So, ladies and gentlemen, it is my great honor to present the lovely Michelle Wolfson.

So, Michelle, tell us a little about your agency and your background.

I have a broad and varied work background, but have spent the last six years as an agent. My own agency is approaching the two year mark, which is a huge professional milestone for me.

Two years? Congratulations! That is a wonderful achievement. What genres do you represent?

One thing I love about agenting is that I can choose to take on almost anything if I fall in love with it. My standard interests tend to be commercial fiction—women’s fiction, mysteries, thrillers, romance, and YA. In non-fiction I like fun, practical guides and quirky projects. I’ll also do an occasional memoir.

What are you currently looking for?

I would say that I’m rarely looking for things in the way that you probably mean that question unless I go with a general “the next big thing” kind of answer. I’m always looking for projects that I fall in love with and for projects that feel big to me. I’m not always right, but I want projects that have that home run kind of feel to them.

What have you sold lately?

I’m working on Fall submissions now so my summer submissions are my most recent, starting with debut author Kiersten White’s three book deal to HarperTeen. The first book in the trilogy, PARANORMALCY, will be coming out in September 2010. I sold another book for Alexandra Levit, a weekly journalist for the WSJ and career writer. The new one sold to Berkley and is called YOU’RE NOT THE EXCEPTION, YOU'RE THE RULE: Debunking the 10 Myths of Business Success. And Alexandra has a book coming out in January from Ballantine called NEW JOB, NEW YOU. Finally, AJ Menden has two more books in her Elite Hands of Justice series lined up at Dorchester, tentatively scheduled for June 2010 and December 2010. She’s gotten some fabulous reviews for the first two, and her fans are eagerly awaiting the next books in the series.

I love the diversity of your writers. Moving on to a subject that is near and dear to my readers' hearts, approximately how many queries do you receive each week?

About 100, give or take a few.

I imagine it varies greatly from week to week, but approximately what percentage of queries do you request sample pages from?

It really does vary. Looking through my folders I see a ton of requests in September and very few in August. So in a given week I might not request any, or I might request as many as four or five.

Are most of your queries “cold” or are many of them referrals?

By far the majority of queries are cold queries, but I definitely get referrals too.

How many new writers do you typically take on in a year?

It really depends. I don’t have a set number in mind, but when I fall in love with a project then I want to take someone on. Obviously there are periods when I have more or less time and that factors in too, but generally four or five.

How many authors are you working with? How many have you sold work for?

I’m working with 16 incredibly talented authors right now who are at various stages of the process from newly signed to multi-published. I love the writing of each and every one of them and have every confidence they will all be published authors one day.

An agent who loves everyone on her list. Every writer's dream! Regarding requests for sample pages, do you always request a partial first? If so, how many pages do you request? Does the number vary?

Yes, I almost always request a partial first. I typically request 50 pages, but that number varies based on my level of excitement from your query. At conferences, however, I use a very complex system to determine how many pages I request based on my level of interest, the time of day we meet, how far into the conference we are, how many business cards I have left, how dry my contact lenses have gotten, and a few other secret factors which cannot be disclosed here. But suffice it to say, when the pages come in, how many pages I requested can tell me a lot. This is actually sort of true. Agents are mysterious people.

(Hmm. Maybe I'll start carrying contact lens drops with me when I meet with agents...)

When it comes to fulls, you sometimes ask for exclusives. How do you determine which fulls to request exclusives for?

Since this was the twitter discussion that led to this interview, I’ll spend a little extra time on this question. As I mentioned above, I almost always ask for a partial first, so by the time I am requesting a full, I have already started the ms and I’m really excited to read it. (It’s incredibly rare for me to request a full based solely on the query.) I usually request four weeks for an exclusive because things can get crazy here and I like to have a little extra time. So what should an author do? Well, if you don’t want to give an exclusive, don’t give one. If someone tells me no, I will generally get the ms anyway and read it as soon as I can. (Hmm...I see my exclusives forever slipping away.)

My main experience has been that people don’t give exclusives when they have other agents who have the full ms already. In that case, I always take it anyway and just ask that they let me know if they receive another offer of representation, and to please give me a chance to read and respond. I have been on all sides of this situation—meaning I have been the first agent to offer representation and an author has given other agents a chance to read and respond and the author has chosen me, or sometimes the author has chosen another agent (What?! I hear you ask. I know!! But it’s true). Or I have been told that another agent offered representation and then I’ve been given a chance to read quickly and sometimes I love it and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes they choose me and sometimes they don’t.

So the real question revolves around a writer who doesn’t want to give me an exclusive just because they don’t want to give me an exclusive. There’s no other interest, but they are worried about tying up their manuscript or whatever. So they say no, or maybe they respond to my four weeks by saying you can have it for three weeks. So I say 3.5 weeks and you have a deal. Okay, no, just kidding. I say ok. What am I going to say? But is that really how you want to start our relationship? I’m basically telling you that I’m so excited about your manuscript that I can’t wait to read it, and you are going to quibble with me about an extra week? Publishing is a slow process and by no means do I take on everything I request a full on, so it's no guarantee, but it’s the next step in the process. Why not just relax and enjoy it (while you are doing what you should be doing, which is working on your next book)? Essentially, I don’t see the harm in an exclusive, but if you don’t feel comfortable, don’t do it.

Do you only read one ms at a time? For example, if you have 10 fulls on your desk, do you read them one at a time, or do you read more than one simultaneously?

So consider this scenario: I have read your partial and loved it, prompting me to request the full (on a four week exclusive basis which you immediately granted me of course), but in between the time I could get from my eReader back to my computer to find your contact info etc. and request that full and you could respond and send it to me and I could get the full thing on my eReader, what am I supposed to be reading? So I start something else. Then, later that day maybe I’m not reading at all but actually at my desk working (although if you are keeping up with the story, I’m already in the middle of two manuscripts), and an email comes in from someone whose manuscript I requested a few days ago. I recognize the title from the subject (because if you read the query guidelines on my site you’ve put the title in the subject) and I think oh, I remember this one and it sounded so good and I get distracted for a moment and pull it up on my computer screen and start reading it in Word and it’s so good that I have to immediately put it on my eReader and while I’m doing that I put those other few ones that came in that didn’t make it on in the last batch…and before you know it I’m in the middle of five manuscripts. But no, as a general rule I try to read them straight through!

If the writer already has at least one partial out, is that okay (if you're requesting an exclusive)?

Yes, that’s fine. Since the next step would be for those agents to ask for a full, at that time you could just say that you have someone looking at the full on an exclusive basis for X number of weeks. On a related note, I think exclusive partials are ridiculous and exclusive queries go beyond that to an actual pet peeve.

I never even knew exclusive partials or queries existed! I'd have to agree, that makes no sense at all. Regarding feedback, what kind do you give on partials? What about fulls?

As much as I wish I could give feedback on everything I read, I just can't. My clients come first--trust me, this is a quality you want in an agent. If I haven’t volunteered feedback, at best I just felt indifferent, like I liked it but didn’t love it (I know that’s not helpful, but that's just how publishing works), and, at worst, I actually disliked it. If writers push too hard demanding to know "WHY," I can get cranky and those exchanges never end well for anyone. Sometimes even my polite, helpful (I thought) emails have been met by serious crazy rants, so I say, please get a critique group. That's not my job--until I sign you.

Is there anything else you’d like to share, anything at all?

I really love agenting and I think that by taking on a select group of talented and wonderful clients/people, it keeps my work fun and interesting all the time.

Thank you, Michelle, so very much. Your insights into the business mixed with your unique brand of humor have made this interview a true delight. I wish you continued success with your agency and your list of talented writers.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Baby! Baby!

Just stopping in to show off how ridiculously gorgeous my new niece is.

1) Me & Devyn
2) Devyn, Me & Chuck
3) Devyn & Chuck
4) Devyn & her beautiful mom / my sister, Michelle


BTW: Thanks for stopping by Julie's new blog. I'll be back to my regularly scheduled programming after this weekend, beginning with a 2-part interview with an uber-wonderful agent! (HINT: She reps one of my favorite blogging buds.)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Introducing... Ms. Julie Anne Nelson (Cue wild cheering, confetti, & balloons)

I'm leaving today for Denver for a week-long visit with my family. I'll be wearing a pink poodle skirt to my parent's 50 wedding anniversary party and finally getting to hold my precious new niece in my arms.

So, I'm turning over my blog to my dear friend, Julie Nelson. She found me via a comment I'd made on Jessica Faust's blog back in December. We began e-mailing each other, then talking on the phone for hours at a time, and finally we had the great opportunity to meet in NYC in May when we both attended the Backspace Writer's Conference. She's not only my best "writer" friend, but she's one of my best friends, period. And she (finally!) has her own blog. It's called Literary Jules and I'm hoping you, my wonderful readers, might check it out.

And now, ladies and gentleman, heeeeeeere's Julie!

Debbie, thanks so much for this wonderful introduction to the world of blogging!

Like many writers, my writing journey began when I was young. Somewhere, I still have the first stories I wrote. (They all involved Black Beauty. What can I say? I knew nothing about copyright infringement back then.) I was always writing and finished my first novel in high school (written on the back sides of class notes). When I hear the fantastic tales of high-school-age people securing representation and book deals, I am quite certain they are better now than I was then. Really, though, it is possible that my book, complete with characters based on the members of Duran Duran, might have changed the world. The Berlin Wall might not have fallen. Best that that book remains in a box with the Black Beauty-inspired stories, I think.

I wrote my next novels in college, along with screenplays, all without learning about the business. I seemed to know I wasn’t ready. Years passed, always writing, but never finishing to the querying stage. The teaching years were a dry patch for my writing. I was simply too exhausted after the energy I put into my classroom, my crazy battle games for the kids, the film club I created and ran, and all the other things teachers who love their jobs do. When I left teaching, which was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, I did so because the well was dry, and I knew I couldn’t do my job to my own standards anymore. Teaching is simply too important to be phoned in. (This is not to say that others can’t effectively juggle teaching, writing, families, and lives.)

Careers shifted for me and last year I made the commitment to get the stories that had stuck with me through the lean and flush years down on paper and to give myself the chance to succeed at my life’s goal. I started with commercial fiction and then fell into YA fantasy with a vengeance. So, now I write every day, at least a little bit, and have learned much more about the business, much of that knowledge coming from savvy Debbie Schubert, whom I only met because she doesn’t have the insane level of internet shyness I do. In this forum, I’m really the little, spotted fawn taking her first steps, even though in the rest of my life that would hardly be an accurate description of me.

What I’m most excited about using my blog for is highlighting the authors who inspire me every single day. The most apt description of my reading tendencies is that I read like a heroin addict, only this addiction comes with beautiful journeys that I’ll never need methadone to be free of. At some point, I’ll blog about all the ways I cram reading into my day - those stories usually make people laugh. And my other hope for the blog is to connect with other fantastic people who love writing and reading as much as I do. I never realized what I was missing in not having people around me who were traveling this writing road (but I have been blessed with a very supportive group of friends who are now my trusty readers). And I’ve seen how much fun Debbie has with her blog and how she has connected with people throughout the industry.

So, for all my internet phobias, I’m seeing this technology more as a gift than ever. I am currently seeking representation for a YA fantasy and enjoying the chance I currently have to play with my writing, spending time on first drafts and following wherever the muse takes me. Please, stop by the blog and share your thoughts. And a huge thanks to Debbie for just about everything, and thanks to you for taking the time to get to know a little bit about me.

Happy reading, and keep writing!

Julie Anne Nelson

Sunday, October 4, 2009

So Many Books, So Little Time

First of all, let's hear a round of wild applause for Daisy Whitney! She graciously led a beginner's YA class here, and I, for one, am much wiser for it. In addition to her instruction, she sent me five YA books to read:

The Opposite of Love and After You by Julie Bauxbaum; Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott, Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers, and Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler. As soon as I finish Allison Winn Scotch's Time of My Life and my own new YA novel, I'm going to dive in to these tasty gems headfirst.

We actually played two "shows" (and I use the term "show" loosely) this week. The first was at my honey's work, and the second was last night when we had the good fortune to play the Diving Cat Studio & Gallery again. The picture on the left is me waiting for our roadies to come help haul in the equipment where my honey works. Oh, wait! I forgot. We are the roadies!

The other pics are from the Diving Cat. Have I told you how amazing that place is? I haven't? Well, it's amazing! We tried out some new/old songs like "Heaven" by the Psychedelic Furs and "Never Comes the Day" by the Moody Blues. Here I am with my friend, Joanne's cowboy hat. What do you think, should I move to Wyoming and buy a horse? No? You guys are smarter than I give you credit for.

I'm plowing through my YA novel at breakneck speed, however I'm up to a very delicate point in the story. The main character, who has a particular gift/power just found out her boyfriend has a power that could weaken or even kill her. She has to decide whether or not to go forward with the relationship and how to keep his power at bay. Plus, there's the matter of New Year's Eve and the Senior Prom. You have to have a date for things like that, right? Damn, life can get complicated! (Yup, that's my son, Ethan, and his beautiful girlfriend Meghan at their prom in May. Please don't ask me what was up with the Unibomber shades...)

I'm heading to Denver on Tuesday for a whirlwind week with my family. I'll finally get to meet my new niece, Devyn Rae, and fawn all over her. I'm duly prepared with a few choice additions to her already Paris Hilton-rivaling wardrobe. Also, my family and I will be entertaining my parents on Saturday night at a party to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. The theme is the 1950's, so be prepared to see pics of me in a poodle skirt upon my return. (By "prepared," I mean you may want to slip something 40-proof in your coffee before viewing the pics. Don't say I didn't warn you.) I'll also be having lunch with some writing types including the woman who led a workshop at the Backspace Conference in May, my editor on a previous novel, and possibly an agent.

Also, I'm hoping to have another very special guest appearance on my blog in the next week or so, so stay tuned for that...

So, tell me, my friends, what books are you reading or looking forward to reading?

Like Button