Thursday, March 31, 2011

QueryTrackers Making Tracks, #2

Today is the second of a series on successful authors I've met through QueryTracker.

Some of the authors I'll be spotlighting on Fridays have agents, others have found success in less conventional ways. But, one thing they all have in common is their use of the QueryTracker website, whether for information or emotional support. In some way or other, each of my upcoming guest posters have utilized this amazing online tool to help make their tracks in the publishing world.

For today's author interview, I'd like to welcome David Kazzie, who recently signed with Ann Rittenberg of the Ann Rittenberg Literary Agency, due in no small part to these two videos:

Now onto the interview:

AGH: David, your road to representation took some interesting and unconventional twists and turns. Could you give us a rundown of how you got your agent?

David: I’ve been writing fiction for about 10 years. In that time, I had completed a couple of manuscripts and after finishing each one, I tried to find an agent. As the years went by, I felt like I was improving with each manuscript – getting more responses from agents, more requests for material, but I never was able to find an agent. It did get discouraging.
But I kept writing, and last summer, I decided to start writing a humor blog while I figured out which way to go with my fiction. I wrote the So You Want to Go to Law School video in October (now with 1.3 million hits), and then I followed that up with So You Want to Write a Novel in November. As you know, the Novel video went viral in the writing/publishing community, which put me in contact with a number of different agents, including Ann. She read my blog and watched my other videos, we talked about what my future writing plans were, and then she offered to take me on as a client.

AGH: Before you signed with your agent, how many books had you tried to query?

David: I'd queried two different books before signing with Ann. I wrote the first one from 2001-2002, queried about 20 agents, and completely struck out. Honestly, It was a truly terrible book. My villain was a corrupt U.S. Senator, which I've since learned is always a bad, bad sign for your book. I gutted that one and rewrote it, including changing the villain to someone who wasn't such a terrible cliche. I got a few more requests the second time out, and I think it had some good parts, but overall, it was still pretty weak.

I took some time off from writing and started a brand-new manuscript in late 2007. Including revisions, I worked on that for about 18 months.

AGH: What were the responses to those queries (stat-wise: fulls, partials, etc.)

David: Manuscript 1 (and its rewrite) -- collectively, probably about 50 queries. A couple requests for the full.

Manuscript 2: 175 queries. About 12 partial requests and 7 more requests for the full.

AGH: What genres do you write?

David: Crime thrillers. It's one of my favorite genres to read, and I've always been fascinated by the dark side of humanity -- crime, violence, greed, and other bad decisions. I'm particularly interested in the humorous side of all this malfeasance.

AGH: What inspired your very first book idea?

David: Honestly, I used to be terrible at coming up with story ideas. For the first one, I had this idea for the main character whose brother goes missing just as the brother is supposed to reveal some family secret. I started writing without really fleshing out much more than that. I'm still amazed I came up with 325 manuscript pages for that.

Now I've figured out that just about anything can make a good story if you execute the concept the right way. I like to play the "what if" game to come up with story ideas.

AGH: What books / authors have most influenced your own style and concepts?

David: Carl Hiaasen has had the biggest impact on me. I discovered his crime novels about 10 years ago, and it really opened my eyes about how to use satire and comedy in writing thrillers. He's just freaking brilliant. My early manuscripts read like standard thrillers, but I worked hard to inject a lot of dark humor into my last book -- i think it paid off, as it was by far my best work to date, and I think that's my natural style of writing,

My three favorite books are The Stand (I love apocalyptic fiction, and the characters from The Stand just make the book so unbelievably good), Mystic River (hands down, the best crime novel I've ever read) and Lonesome Dove (it's just a kick-ass story).

AGH: How did you find QueryTracker, and how did it help you in your effort to get inside the publishing doors?

David: I don't remember exactly how I found QT -- it must have been through a blog. I'd been using another submission tracking site, but then they revamped their site, and I didn't like the change, so I moved everything over to QT.

I found it to be very helpful in keeping things organized, and it had a lot of up-to-date info on agents and people's experiences submitting. Oh, and finally getting to click on the "Offered Representation" field was pretty awesome too.

AGH: Can you share any current news with us?

David: Nothing right now. I'm more just adjusting to the idea of working with an agent and settling back into writing fiction again.

AGH: Have you recently learned anything about the business side of publishing that you can share with up and coming writers?

David: I think writers need to remember that it IS a business. Publishers have to make money. Agents have to make a living. Rejection isn't personal -- agents and editors know you've poured your heart and soul into your work, but the nature of the business sometimes demands a quick and impersonal rejection.

And yes, I hate to say it -- sometimes luck is involved. Why one book takes off and another doesn't. Why one person gets an agent after 10 queries and another queries 200 agents and has nothing to show for it (even if the books are of relatively similar quality). Always, always act professional. Never respond angrily to a rejection.

That said, social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and industry blogs lets writers get up close with agents and editors on a daily basis. You probably don't want to add an agent you don't know as a FB friend, but you can certainly follow them on Twitter and interact with them (appropriately) in the Twitterverse. Many agencies also have FB fan pages, where you can also interact with people.

AGH: Considering how your YouTube "writing a novel" video went viral and your law school parody has over a million hits (WOW), you appear to be a master at promoting yourself online. Is there any advice you can give those of us who are already or are about to be on the promotional side of our publishing careers (marketing our book trailers, pushing our titles, etc…)?

David: I think it's important that whatever self-promotion you do needs to reflect your identity as a writer. My videos and my blog (and more recently, my Twitter account) have a lot of dark, satirical humor, and so I'm guessing that people will (rightfully) expect that my fiction will be similar in style. Also, never, ever post anything less than your best work. You never know who's watching. 

Also, be polite and friendly. My five-year-old knows this, and yet I still find instances where people don't act friendly. Talk up other people whose work you like. I've made numerous friends and contacts through social media doing that.

As for the videos -- I wish I had a secret formula for making something go viral. With my most successful videos (Law School, Write a Novel, and Facebook), I think I just tapped into what a lot of people were thinking. And the Xtranormal website was the perfect vehicle for my ramblings.

I think there's a lot you can do even without a viral video. Visit other blogs, participate in discussions, play to your strengths. It can be time consuming, but I think it's worthwhile. Plus, you get to meet a lot of cool people.  

Five for fun:

AGH: What’s your favorite breakfast?

David: The egg-and-chicken burrito from Chick-Fil-A. With coffee. Or an asiago cheese bagel with honey-walnut cream cheese. 

AGH: Are you Team Dog or Team Cat?

David: Dog. We have an 11-year-old Lab mix. Although I respect cats and how they don't give a crap about anyone.

AGH: What video games do you play?

David: I grew up on Super Mario Bros. and Nintendo Ice Hockey. I haven't mastered many things in my life, but I dare you to find someone who could've beaten me in Nintendo Ice Hockey in the late 1980s. No, I didn't date a lot. These days I play Lego Star Wars on the Wii with my son.

AGH: When would you go to if you had a time machine, and why?

David: Oh, a dangerous question indeed. If I changed anything about the past, I might not be where I am today, right? Butterfly effect and all. But if you visit the future, you see where you end up, and then the question becomes whether everything you do from now up until that point is predestined. And if you try to avoid it because you don't like how things end up, maybe it's doing those avoidance things that get you to the place you're not happy with.

But let's say you could go anywhere with no effect on the timeline -- sort of like watching a replay. I think I'd go back to the day I met my wife and see how the day unfolded. Maybe even the whole week before. I think it would be interesting to see all the little things that had to happen to put me at that place at that moment. It turned out to be the most important day of my life -- but I had no idea for a good part of it.

AGH: Drinking tea … pinky up, or heavy on the Long Island?

David: Long island is my preference. Black tea is my reality. Pinky is never, ever up.

Thank you, David, for sharing your insights and for letting us peek into what makes you unique and successful. And I'd like to point out that, judging by that lovely and swoon-worthy answer you gave to the time machine question above, should you one day have a little daughter who wants you to drink tea with her -- pinkies up -- you'll be a proper English gent and wear a smile on your face the whole time. What a nice guy!

Congratulations on catching that elusive agent, and I wish you much luck and happiness on your climb to the shelves! Don't forget to follow David's blog or tweets as his journey unfolds. He also has a success interview posted at QueryTracker.

Now it's your turn. If you have questions for David --or if you'd simply like to congratulate him and show your support --please leave a comment below!

Twitland and trailer parks

Some of you already know I made the Twitter plunge. Those of you who don't know, and have accounts there, please tweet me (@aghowardwrites) and I'll follow you! I've been having a blast meeting new writers/readers in the twittersphere. ;-)

As to the second part of my title today? Nope, I'm not tossing out my writerly ponderings to promote alternative housing options. My agent retweeted this link where very clever author, R.A. Evans, announced his idea to help others promote their book trailers in ... yep, you guessed it ... a trailer park! LOL. Love that.

Here's his tweet: Looking 4 a way 2 promote your book trailer? Check out my trailer park and contact me if you want to park yours.

How cool and generous is that? What a super nice guy. Let's all support him right back by dropping in and checking out those trailers.

Also, don't forget to stop by tomorrow for our interview with fellow QueryTracker vet David Kazzie. He's going to talk to us about going viral, a corrupt US senator, and how to find the humor in crime.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Going viral ... let's hope they never find a cure.

Viral used to be such an ugly word. But now it's something we as writers -- seeking to promote ourselves and our books -- aspire to. On that note, here's a teaser for our second QueryTrackers Making Tracks guest, David Kazzie, who will be joining me here on Friday:

What does this very familiar and hilarious video have to do with my guest? Well, he watched it like all the rest of us, for one. But there's something a little more personal this video did for David ... some way it played into his recent offer of representation. Want to know more? Stop by on Friday for all of the dirt on David's unconventional journey toward publishdom!

Also, since we're talking viral, I'd like to help fellow author, Jessica Bell, get closer to reaching that sought after status. Her debut novel, STRING BRIDGE, is a women's fiction about a woman who gives up her career as a musician to have a family, then later plots a return to the stage to try to find the person she lost along the way.

Jessica's having a contest to help spread word of the book trailer she's posted on YouTube. Visit her blog here to meet her and win prizes!

To further entice you, I have a sneak peek below (and heads up: that's Jessica herself singing a song her mother wrote. So this lady is twice talented. What an incredible gift!). Now without further adieu, I give you, the trailer.

Thank you Leigh T. Moore for cluing me in to this amazingly talented author/musician. I LOVE this song!! And the story looks every bit as fantastic!

Good luck, Jessica!  And I hope to see you all on Friday for David's guest post. He's got some interesting insights into the viral phenomenon. Maybe, if we're nice, he'll share. ;-)

Publishing 101

I'm concentrating on my WIP today, so we'll make this short and sweet...

If you've ever wondered about the importance of foreign rights to a writer's career, there's an intriguing and surprising post about that here. AJ Hartley is a USA Today and NYT best-selling author whose savvy agent sold his first book to foreign countries while the US was trying to decide whether or not they even wanted it. I love stories like this that both inspire and teach you a thing or two about the biz.

Also, please join Rachel Harris for an interview with successful YA author, Holly Schindler, who talks about trying her hand at Middle Grade books.  Rachel is having a giveaway, so if you like freebies, head over there to have a look.

Hope everyone has a productive Tuesday! I'm off to write.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fishing for readers with a three pronged hook...

From Wikipedia: The rule of three is a principle in writing which suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. The reader is also more likely to consume information if it is written in groups of threes. A series of three is often used to create a progression in which tension is created, then built up, and finally released.

Most of us, as writers, have heard this rule. Now let's put a twist on it, and apply it to the first three lines in our novels. Do our first three sentences: "create a progression in which tension is created, then built up, and finally released?"

Yes, it's our first line which has to hook an agent/editor's attention. But say we write a great first line, and let them down with the second one. Will they read on? My theory is, tie those first three sentences together ... hold the reader through them -- with voice, tension, and a revelation/release that will leave them emotionally moved or mentally intrigued. When you do this, you're setting a tone for the whole story, and your reader will  read on in hopes for another taste of that magic.

Here are three examples of great three-sentence novel beginnings that do just that...

1. The Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux (literary classic horror):

The Opera ghost really existed. He was not, as was long believed, a creature of the imagination of the artists, the superstition of the managers, or a product of the absurd and impressionable brains of the young ladies of the ballet, their mothers, the box-keepers, the cloak-room attendants or the concierge. Yes, he existed in flesh and blood, although he assumed the complete appearance of a real phantom; that is to say, of a spectral shade.

2. Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie, by Maggie Stiefvater (YA fantasy):

I was used to being the hunter. If I saw something I wanted, I stalked it, smelled it, made it mine. By "it" I mean "him," of course.

3.The Dead-Tossed Waves, by Carrie Ryan (YA zombie horror)

The story goes that even after the Return they tried to keep the roller coasters going. They said it reminded them of the before time. When they didn't have to worry about people rising from the dead, when they didn't have to build fences and walls and barriers to protect themselves from the masses of Mudo contstantly seeking human flesh.

Each of these beginnings radiate voice, as well as intrigue, surprise, and captivate the reader. They make you want to know more, dare you to keep reading.

If you're willing to share, I'd love to see the three pronged hook you fish for readers with. Post it in a comment below. And to play fair, I'll share, too (despite the butterflies in my stomach that always visit when I know someone is reading my stuff--eep). In keeping with the trinity theme of this post, I'll give you the beginning three from three of my books, each with very different voices and premises.

1. Splintered (YA fantasy):

I’ve been collecting bugs since I was eleven. It's the only way I can stop their whispers. Sticking a pin through the gut of an insect shuts it up pretty quick.

2. Untitled WIP (YA paranormal):

Back home, I have a poster on my wall of a rose that’s bleeding. Its petals are white, and red liquid oozes from its heart, thick and glistening warm. Only, if you look very close, you can see that the droplets are actually coming from above where a little girl’s wrist—camouflaged by a cluster of leaves and petals—has been pricked by thorns as she reached inside to catch a monarch.

3. Forgotten Silences (literary gothic love story):

Throughout my childhood, my mama sang to me. In her gardens, in the midst of foxgloves and hollyhocks taller than my five-year-old head, her voice took wing—a melody lovelier than a nightingale, more moving than a storm-crested sea. Now that I am deaf, I’m haunted by two regrets: that I didn’t memorize the sound of her voice … and the eternal absence of song in my life.

Okay, your turn! Surprise, enthrall, or tantalize me. I'm closing my eyes, and counting to three...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Buzz patrol

Nope. I'm not planning to be a beekeeper anytime soon, although my heroine in SPLINTERED aspires to be one.   ;-)

I'm in charge of buzz patrol for my MS, so Agent Goddess asked me to post my book trailer on YouTube. It was an interesting experience. I've never done anything like that before. It was fun though! I've figured out all the ins and outs finally, so if any of you ever need any tips, feel free to ask!

I haven't yet sent out spiders or tags into the blogasphere to make the video more visual to the internet world. For right now, I'm just sitting there quietly, in case a passing considering editor, friends, or family would like a peek. Once the book sells, I'm taking advantage of all of YouTube's publicity strategies. I'll do a post one of these days about the steps that involves.

As to any news about said book, we're having some good things going on w/my subs but I can't say anymore than that yet. Heehee. I promise to post about it the minute I can!

I hope everyone has a wonderful and productive weekend.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

QueryTrackers Making Tracks, #1

Today, we begin the official first of a series on successful authors. (For the unofficial first, hop over to my LiveJournal blog for an interview with Mindy McGinnis.)

Some of the authors I'll be spotlighting on Fridays have agents, others have found success in less conventional ways. But, one thing they all have in common is their use of the QueryTracker website, whether for information or emotional support. In some way or other, each of my upcoming guest posters have utilized this amazing online tool to help make their tracks in the publishing world.

For our official first QT author interview, I'd like to welcome Brenda St. John Brown, who recently signed with literary agent Marlene Stringer. If you're a fan of dancing Snoopies, and you'd like to read Brenda's representation story, click here.

Let's jump right in:

AGH: What genre(s) do you write?

Brenda: I write YA Contemporary. I've got a women's fiction that's about 50% complete, but I'm not sure I'll ever go back to it, although I still like the story line, so never say never, right?

AGH: What inspired your very first book?

Brenda: My first complete MS is a YA paranormal, inspired by all the paranormal I was reading at the time, no doubt. It's got some good points, the best being what it taught me about writing, characterization, moving the plot along, showing vs. telling...I could go on and on. My betas were incredibly helpful and I learned SO much from them that I then took and applied wholeheartedly to what I've written since. My current MS, SWIMMING TO TOKYO, is definitely better for it!

AGH:  How do you come up with titles?

Brenda: Titles are hard! My current MS is titled SWIMMING TO TOKYO and will likely be changed due to all that's happened recently in Japan.The title fits the book, but it might be inappropriate. So, I'll use my usual totally nonscientific method and scour Amazon to see if what I've thought of has already been taken (98% of the time it has) and then think about what's unique about my character or situation that could make a pithy title. I'm a fan of short titles, so the fewer words the better.

AGH: What scenes do you find most challenging when you write? 

Brenda: I try to visualize the scene as I write it, so emotionally charged scenes are difficult for me. I can "see" it but then choosing the words that match the pictures in my head -- without being too over the top -- can be a challenge.

AGH: Is there a message or theme that seems to be prevalent in your novels?

Brenda: Hmmm...well, there always seems to be a love interest/first love (because it's really fun to relive all of that excitement and angst when it's not actually happening to you). Difficult family situations seem to be prevalent, add to that angst?

AGH: What books / authors have most influenced your own style and concepts?

Brenda: In current YA contemporary, I love Sarah Dessan and Sara Oeckler. I tried writing in first-person present after reading Meg Cabot this summer. And Margaret Atwood is my long-time absolute favorite. I wrote my grad school thesis on "The Robber Bride."

AGH: How did you find QueryTracker, and how did it aid you in your effort to get inside the publishing doors?

Brenda: I found QT via Elana Johnson's blog and have found it invaluable! From researching agents in my genre to helping write the query in the forums, I can't imagine going through the process WITHOUT it. People are so genuinely helpful and there's a great sense of community.

AGH: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about your querying process?

Brenda: I'm a VERY cautious querier, so I'd probably send out more queries. I only sent out 13 queries, including the one I sent to Marlene. I've been lucky to land such a great agent so quickly, but I also learned a lot from the rejections I got and had some good feedback on a couple of rejected partials that I'll definitely think about when I'm doing edits.

AGH:  Can you share any current news with us?

Brenda: I just got my agent edits back this week, so am working on those. They're not as extensive as I feared and I'm excited to get those underway.

AGH:  Have you recently learned anything about the business side of publishing that you can share with up and coming writers?

Brenda: I've barely touched this side of things, so no, probably not.  I will say that I'm always surprised when I go over to the QT forums and I see people posting their query letters who say, "I've been getting a lot of rejections on this, so I thought I should ask for some feedback." Get feedback before you send a single query. Other people can almost always see your query more clearly than you can and better to get it ripped apart in the forums or by your betas than pile up the form rejections.

5 For Fun:
AGH: How many hats do you have in your home?

Brenda: There are three of husband, 5-year-old son and me. I swear, we have enough hats for our entire neighborhood.

AGH: Which would you rather do: carry an umbrella or sing in the rain?

Brenda: I never carry an umbrella. A huge mistake in London, can i just say? And my curly/wavy/frizzy hair pays for it dearly.

AGH: What’s your favorite breakfast?

Brenda: Coffee and Doritos.

AGH:  Are you Team Dog or Team Cat?

Brenda: Definitely Team Dog. We have a yellow lab named Lucy.

AGH:  What video games do you play?

Brenda: I'm really bad at video games, but occasionally I play on the Wii with my son. I really like the boxing game and I do far better at Wii bowling that I ever do in real life.

Thank you, Brenda, for sharing your insights and for letting us peek into what makes you unique and successful. Two things I love: 1) that you don't carry an umbrella, and 2) that you live in London. It's all so romantic, somehow.  :-) Congratulations on catching that elusive agent, and I wish you much luck and happiness on your climb to the shelves!

Now it's your turn ... anyone who has questions for Brenda about her journey, her agent, or her book--or if you'd simply like to congratulate her--please leave a comment! And don't forget to follow her blog as her dream to be published unfolds.

Blog hopping and name dropping...

So, I dished on my crit group gals (The Divas) over at Mary BK's Not An Editor critique series today. One is a best-selling thriller author, and another is about to launch her first YA with Harper Collins in April. The other two are up and comers like me. If you're curious about who they are, and what I think of their critiquing skills, have a look!

Also, tomorrow begins my new Friday series: QueryTrackers Making Tracks. My first guest will be Brenda St. John Brown who recently signed with Marlene Stringer of Stringer Literary Agency. She'll be talking about a family member named Lucy who likes to chase kites and chew tennis balls, an interesting morning ritual, oh, and maybe a little about writing, too. :-)

Please join us to learn how QueryTracker helped her find her dream agent.

See you then!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Keep the heartlight burning...

Hmmm. So I guest blogged today about why writers sometimes leave their agents.

Then I saw this VERY infomative and interesting parallel by a well known and respected agent who explains why agents sometimes choose to leave their clients.

It all comes down to compatibility--vision wise, career wise, and personality wise for both parties.

My hope for us all: that we'll each find (or have found) our literary soulmate, and that the passion will burn bright and strong and eternal until the day we pen our very last word.

Sigh. I can't help myself ... I'm a romantic at heart. ;-)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why I left my first agent (or did she leave me?)...

If you'd like to know the answer to that teaser, I'm dishing the dirt (more like picking off lint balls) in a guest post over at Mindy McGinnis's blog, Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire.

Also, I'd like to announce two FABULOUS contests in the works. And no, neither of them are mine, but I hope to have one going soon...

Hmm, another teaser. Heh.

Contest one:

My crit pal, the lovely Jennifer Archer, wants to give you a brand new FREE Kindle, iPod Shuffle, leather bound journal, or an autographed copy of her ghostly YA novel...

Simply click the beautiful and mysterious book cover for details. ;-)

Contest two:

One of my new blogger acquaintances, Carolina Valdez Miller, has just signed with agent Vickie Motter. Her crit partners are generously sponsoring a contest with gifts ranging from: a $25 Amazon Gift Card, a 1st page critique from the afore mentioned agent, a Kindle and signed hardbacks of recent and popular books.

Click the champagne bottle for details.

Good luck to all who choose to participate!

And don't forget to drop by Mindy's blog for my guest post!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Playing with Window's Movie Maker...

I'm loving this tool. Here's my first ever book trailer. Squee!

And kudos to Kevin Macleod for providing FREE royalty-free song clips for any artist at his website: All he asks is that you reference him or his website in the credits.
What a super nice guy! 

Also, photobucket has TONS of royalty-free pics so the only thing I spent today was time. And when you're having fun, you know how that flies! 

Go on and give it a try yourself, it's easier than it looks!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Slasher Girls

Top Ten Horror Movies That Scarred Me For Life
-A.G. Howard

There are ten movies I’ve watched over the years that left such an indelible impression on me, I experienced temporary (and sometimes permanent) phobias.  Here's a countdown, along with the emotional scars they left behind:

10. The Omen 

Daemonophobia – Fear of demons, most especially if they’re named Damien and ride a red tricycle. *shudders*

9. The Ring 

Chaetophobia - Fear of long, black hair – particularly the kind that hangs in one’s face as they’re crawling through the TV screen.

8. Aracnophobia 

Aracnophobia – Fear of spiders. Note to self: when a movie is actually named after a phobia you already have, probably not a smart idea to watch it. 

7. It  

Coulrophobia – Fear of clowns. The gif says it all.

6. The Birds 

Ornithophobia – Fear of birds. To this day, any ominous gathering of black birds can set my teeth to chatter. They don’t call it a murder of crows for nothing.

5. Mirrors 

Spectrophobia – Fear of mirrors. Who says it’s not a twisted, more sinister *you* looking back, sizing up a way to step into your life and take over?  

4. Flatliners

Mnemophobia – Fear of memories, especially those you’ve tried very hard to forget.

3. HellRaiser 

Aichmophobia – Fear of needles or pointed objects. After this movie, I’ll never think of the phrase “Pinhead” the same.

2. Nightmare on Elm Street 

Hypnophobia – Fear of sleep or of being hypnotized.  A premise like this makes you think long and hard about how vulnerable you are while you’re sleeping or unconscious.

1. Dead Silence 


Automatonophobia – Fear of ventriloquist's dummies, animatronic creatures, wax statues, or anything that resembles a sentient being.  Given I already had an intense fear of dolls before watching it, this one’s a no brainer for the #1 spot. Take a look at that dummy’s murderous eyes and gnarled, razor-sharp fingertip. Now imagine hundreds of them—in all shapes and sizes—coming to life in their dusty cases inside a dark, abandoned theater, and turning their heads to look at you. No further explanation required…

Have any of you experienced phobias after watching gruesome or disturbing horror flicks? I’d love to hear about them! Oh, and FYI, I’ve read all the stories in Slasher Girls & Monster Boys. Be prepared to develop a phobia or two … maybe even some new ones that have yet to be discovered.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


This used to be my attitude about Twitter:

But I'm starting to see that I'm fighting a losing battle. And since it's officially springtime, within the next few weeks, I'm going to start up an account. Eek!! I can already feel my knees getting wobbly and my head whirling (those of you who are true Disney Bambi connoisseurs know what I'm talking about here...)

Thankfully, my wise and wonderful agent tweeted the other day about a savvy blog that's been posting helpful tips and insights into the world of tweeting. Nina Badzin has a series on learning to Twitter, and for that she's earned a space in my sidebar. Hop over to learn all you ever needed or wanted to know about the networking service that's taken the world by storm.

Okay, shaking off my fears. I'm looking forward to seeing you all in Tweet land (ahem--someday soon)!

Thank you Disney for the wonderful clip that so perfectly suited my post today.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sorts and sundries...

Just a quick heads up to all of my MANY MANY folllowers *insert self-deprecating giggle here* of what I have planned for this blog. Starting next week, every Friday I'm going to do a series of success stories for writers who used or are using QueryTracker to help them realize their publishing dreams.

For those of you who are new or unfamiliar to the world of querying, QueryTracker is the online Bible for aspiring authors. The site not only allows writers to search for and track submissions to agents, but also has comment sections on every agent where you can gauge their response times on partials and fulls, not to mention cheer one another on. There are even help forums where you can get some serious first aid for your query letters.

I think you'll be surprised at some of the successful authors who got their start there. I was.

For example, anyone who's familiar with YA knows about this book:

The Hollow (The Hollow Trilogy)

But did you know that Jessica Verday used QueryTracker to help find her agent? Not saying I'm going to have her interview here ... not saying I'm not either. Who knows what will unfold over the next few weeks?

You'll have to tune in to see, won't you? (Surely you recognize a thinly veiled plea for an audience, right?)

I hope you'll join me. I'm looking forward to promoting my fellow QT-ers and to making new friends here on blogger. ;-)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Living up to my sign...

I'm a Gemini. So ... what does this have to do with my post here?

Like my astrological persona, I now have a duel personality, online anyway. I'm opening up this Blogger account to play doppelganger to my LiveJournal blog. It's easier to follow and be followed on Blogger, so I made the leap.

I'll be making updates of my publishing journey on both blogs now. Anyone into reading and /or writing who happens by and follows me here, I'll do the same for you!

This is a work in progress. I'm still decorating the place, so please be patient with me. ;-)