Saturday, February 27, 2010

Agents & Awards

I'm happy to report that I had my Skype chat with agent Mark McVeigh last week. He's a super nice guy and if you haven't been over to his new blog yet, you should definitely check it out. If you missed the fifteen minute phone or Skype chat this time around, stay tuned for when he offers it again the first week of April.

I also emailed my query letter to be critiqued by agent Jennifer Laughran at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Thanks again to Shelli at Market My Words. Jennifer said I should hear back from her sometime this week.
In other exciting news...some of my fellow bloggers presented me with awards this week. Thanks guys!
First off, Niki at Wool 'N' Nuts and Old Kitty at Ten Lives and Second Chances both presented me with the Creative Writer Award. For this award, I'm supposed to tell six untruths and one truth about myself and then you guess which one is true. I'm going to take these from my childhood because some of you out there know me entirely too well, so here goes:

#1 - When I was young, I had two pet iguanas named Cheyenne and Rufus.
#2 - I skipped second grade.
#3 - The first book I ever wrote was about alien body snatchers from the planet Xydor.
#4 - I was once suspended from middle school for taking part in a cafeteria food fight.
#5 - I was the editor of my high school newspaper.
#6 - I once sang "On the Good Ship Lollipop" in my school talent show.
#7 - I went to high school with Gillian Anderson who played Dana Scully on the X-Files.
So, which one is true?
Shannon from Book Dreaming presented me with the From Me to You Award. As part of this award, I'm supposed to tell you seven (true) things about myself, so here goes:

#1 - I consider the morning a waste if I'm not up by at least 4am.
#2 - I take a nap everyday.
#3 - I've been to Canada, Scotland, Ireland, England, and Israel, but not Mexico.
#4 - My college degree is in electrical engineering.
#5 - I wrote my first book when I was seven years old.
#6 - My kids complain about riding in my car because the only band I ever listen to is the Goo Goo Dolls.
#7 - I spend two mornings each week leading a bible study.

I'd like to share the Creative Writer Award with Shannon at Book Dreaming, Theresa at Substitute Teacher's Saga, Jackee at Winded Words, Tess at Tess Hilmo, Amy at Invisible Sister, and Sharon at Random Thoughts.

I'd like to share the From Me to You Award with Wendy at W.M. Morrell's Musings From Down Under, Abby at Abby Annis, Niki at Wool 'N' Nuts, Old Kitty at Ten Lives and Second Chances, Robby at Once Upon a Book Blog/Fourteen Years, Velva at Tomatoes on the Vine, and Paula at MomforLife.

I know that not all of you "do" awards, so go ahead and post them, pass them on, or maybe just smile and think of me, but please know that I am so thankful for each one of you!

Until Thursday, happy writing, and may your coffee pot never run dry.

One Hour Contest - Act Quickly!

Do you want to know what agents really think about your query? Now's your chance to find out, but you have to act quickly. Agent Joanna Stampfel-Volpe is offering to respond to queries she receives today, Saturday, February 27, between noon-1pm EST, in complete honesty.

Click here to see what's she's looking for.

Click here to see contest rules.

Good luck!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Toss Around Thursday

In my last post, I included my list of ten things that make me happy. I have found that being deliberately grateful, going out of my way to count my blessings, makes a profound difference in how happy I actually feel. So what I'd like to toss around today is this: name one thing that has to do with whatever pursuit you love, be it writing, reading, painting, sports, etc., that makes you truly happy.

One of the parts of writing I like the most is when I create a character I love. Just as my enjoyment of a book I'm reading is usually proportional to my fondness for its characters, so it is with my writing. My favorite characters aren't necessarily the brightest, the most beautiful, or even the nicest people. They have flaws, they make mistakes, they lose their way sometimes. But they're always vibrant, passionate, and real. More than anything else, spending time with these characters is what makes me excited to get up while the rest of my family's still asleep, settle in with my coffee pot and my laptop, and lose myself in my fictional world.

Okay, your turn!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Why I Love Blogging

What an exciting blogging week I've had! First, my good friend Sharon over at Random Thoughts awarded me the Sweet Friend award. Thank you, Sharon! Sharon has a fantastic blog - please visit her at Random Thoughts.

As part of the award, I'm supposed to name ten things that make me happy. I answered: my husband, my kids, writing, coffee (of course!), warm spring weather, naps, a good book, chocolates, blogging buddies, and a day where I don't have to go anywhere and can stay in my jammies all day. After yesterday, I've got a few additions:

#11 - winning awards and contests;
#12 - being awarded a fifteen minute Skype conversation with agent Mark McVeigh - please visit Mark's new blog and become a follower - he'll be doing more phonecall/Skype giveaways in the future, so stay posted;
#13 - being awarded a query critique with Jennifer Laughran at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency by winning Shelli's Fabulous Follower prize at Market My Words. Please visit Shelli's wonderful blog - you'll be glad you did;
#14 - winning 2 books by bestselling author Aimee Friedman, French Kiss and a signed hardback of Sea Change. I can't wait for these to come in the mail!
I've said it over and over, but I'll say it again - thanks Sharon! Thanks Mark! Thanks Shelli!

Okay, I'm done gushing over my amazing blogging week, now I'd like to hear from you. Did anything fantabulistic happen to you last week? (Okay - I stole that word from one of my very best college friends whom I lost track of but recently found again on Facebook. Another great thing that's happened lately. And Judy, I miss your rather inventive vocabulary!)
Until Thursday, happy writing, and may your coffee pot never run dry.

Friday, February 19, 2010

New Blog by Agent Mark McVeigh

First off, I still want to hear everyone's answers to Toss Around Thursday, so please also check out my previous post and leave me a comment! But today I wanted to let you know about a cool offer from agent Mark McVeigh at the McVeigh Agency. He's starting a new blog, and he's offering a fifteen minute skype or phone chat with anyone who gets ten friends to follow his blog at

Check out his blog and invite your friends - this is an awesome opportunity!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Toss Around Thursday

Today's Toss Around Thursday question is: Which is your favorite genre to read and/or write and why? What are your favorite books in that genre?

I'm a fantasy/sci fi girl through and through. If something can happen in real life, it's just not that interesting to me. I guess if I'm going to escape into a book, I want to escape big time, to a world that doesn't even exist. I love reading about quests, mythical creatures, prophecies, sorcerers, and magical lands. I've always considered myself more of a fantasy fan than science fiction, but my latest WIP involves time travel and a world-obliterating virus, so I would have to classify it as sci fi. I'm finding I'm enjoying this as much as fantasy and have started adding more sci fi novels to my TBR stack.

As a child I loved reading Zilpha Keatley Snyder's books and C.S. Lewis's Narnia series. Some of my new favorite series are Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan, Fablehaven by Brandon Mull, and Maximum Ride by James Patterson.
Okay, your turn!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Real Life or Virtual Life?

Happy Valentine's Day, dear blogging buddies! I'm particularly partial to Mrs. Fields chocolates, for obvious reasons. :)

Thanks to everyone who played along in my new blog feature, Toss Around Thursday. I appreciated all the great book recommendations, and I hope you'll all check back this Thursday for a new question to toss around.

While paging through a magazine last week, I came across an article that posed an important question: "Is your virtual life taking over your real life?" The author began by relating a scene that was all too familiar to me. She was sitting at the computer in the morning. Her husband said goodbye as he prepared to go to work. She mumbled something back at him, and he left.

That's me, I thought. Every morning my husband sits beside me in the living room to put on his shoes and pet the dog while I'm writing or blogging. He might try to make conversation, but he rarely gets more than a grudging, muttered response. Eventually he gives up and leaves for work.

Seeing myself in that magazine article struck a chord with me. I do let my virtual life, and even more than that, my writing life, get in the way of my real life. How many times have I only half-listened (or even less than that) to one of my children tell me about his/her day, because he/she chose to tell me while I was answering emails? How many mornings has my husband gone off to work without so much as a goodbye because I was checking out the latest blog posts? Life is going on all around me. Am I missing it because I have my nose stuck in my computer?

The next morning, when my husband came downstairs to put on his shoes, I looked away from my computer and looked at him. I started a conversation. We talked and laughed. I even kissed him goodbye. When the kids came home from school, I ate a snack with them and coerced them into a game of Scrabble. My WIP and the blogosphere and my email inbox aren't going anywhere. My husband and kids are far less stationary.

I don't want to live a virtual life. I want to live my real life, right here and right now.

Until Thursday, happy writing, and may your coffee pot never run dry.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Toss Around Thursday

Today I'm adding a new feature to my blogging week. I call it Toss Around Thursday. The concept is simple: I toss out a question, and you tell me your answers. I learn so much from reading what you all have to say, so I hope you'll chime in with your two cents! This isn't strictly for writers, so I'd like to hear from the non-writers out there as well.

Today's question is: What is your favorite book published in the past ten years?

My answer is Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson. I just fell in love with Max. She makes me laugh out loud, and I cherish a character who can make me do that. The later books in the series get a bit far-fetched (okay, they're all far-fetched, but I can overlook that), but the first two especially kept me on the edge of my seat. All three of my children (ages 13, 12, and 10) also read them and loved them.

Okay, your turn!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Where Do You Write?

I have a beautiful office in my home. When we first bought our house, I had grand visions of sitting in my ergonomic chair at my fine wood desk, with my coffee pot at my side, writing through the wee hours of the night.

I also have a dog. She's a gorgeous, lively, playful, affectionate, unbelievably naughty Golden Retriever named Piper. Piper likes to chew pretty much anything she's not supposed to, with the books on my bookshelf way up at the top of the list (second only to my slippers, which she likes to chew right off my feet.) Finally we had to install an indoor electric fence to keep her out of many rooms in the house, including the office. We call this handy little device the "disc of death."

That should have solved the problem, but it didn't. Piper has another annoying habit. She barks at people when they're in a room she can't go in. And since I do the majority of my writing while everyone else is asleep, that's a big problem.

So much for the beautiful office. I now keep all my writing notebooks, etc. in a box with handles that I can carry around the house. Luckily I write on a laptop, also portable. Now I write in the living room or the dining room.

Every morning I pack up my supplies and move to wherever I'll be writing for the day. Usually Piper will lie contentedly at my feet. We says she's "guarding the writer." She seems to view this as one of her main roles in the family, along with giving each guest an exuberant greeting and keeping the cat in line.

When my morning writing time is up, I pack up my books and laptop and move them back to the security of the office. Sounds like a lot of work, you say? I couldn't agree more. Good thing Piper is so darn cute.

How about you? Where do you write? Do you have your own space, or do you share with other family members? Or do you have a portable "office", like mine?

Until next Sunday, happy writing, and may your coffee pot never run dry.