Monday, December 26, 2011

Posie & Mosey Monday

On Mondays, I share word posies with my readers. Comments are disabled so you can enjoy this gift of poetry then mosey on along to your list of daily do's.*

*Hungry for more in-depth Monday posts? Visit any or all of the entertaining and insightful blogs on my sidebar.

~Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)

OPPOSITE my chamber window,
On the sunny roof, at play,
High above the city's tumult,
Flocks of doves sit day by day.
Shining necks and snowy bosoms,
Little rosy, tripping feet,
Twinkling eyes and fluttering wings,
Cooing voices, low and sweet,--
Graceful games and friendly meetings,
Do I daily watch and see.
For these happy little neighbors
Always seem at peace to be.
On my window-ledge, to lure them,
Crumbs of bread I often strew,
And, behind the curtain hiding,
Watch them flutter to and fro.
Soon they cease to fear the giver,
Quick are they to feel my love,
And my alms are freely taken
By the shyest little dove.
In soft flight, they circle downward,
Peep in through the window-pane;
Stretch their gleaming necks to greet me,
Peck and coo, and come again.
Faithful little friends and neighbors,
For no wintry wind or rain,
Household cares or airy pastimes,
Can my loving birds restrain.
Other friends forget, or linger,
But each day I surely know
That my doves will come and leave here
Little footprints in the snow.
So, they teach me the sweet lesson,
That the humblest may give
Help and hope, and in so doing,
Learn the truth by which we live;
For the heart that freely scatters
Simple charities and loves,
Lures home content, and joy, and peace,
Like a soft-winged flock of doves.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Night Circus

Before I announce this week's trailer, just a quick bit of news: Splintered has sold to Brazil, so now my characters will be speaking in German, Chinese, and Portuguese. I never dreamed they'd be multilingualists. :)

My trailer today is for Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This one caught my attention not only for it's beautiful narrative, but for the subject matter. I'm a circus junkie. I even have a novel planned that involves a gargoyle shape-shifter finding his way to a circus circa 1930. 

As an added bonus, this trailer's artwork is darkly beautiful. I hope it captivates you like it did me. (After viewing this, the book immediately found it's way to my TBR shelf on GoodReads).  

Other than next week's poem, this is my last post for the year. Thank you so much for hanging out with me, cheering me on, and supporting me throughout my crazy ride in 2011. I'm so grateful to have met such an amazing group of people!

I wish you all Happy Holidays, and a productive, successful, and wondrous New Year! See you in 2012.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Posie & Mosey Monday

On Mondays, I share word posies with my readers. Comments are disabled so you can enjoy this gift of poetry then mosey on along to your list of daily do's.*

*Hungry for more in-depth Monday posts? Visit any or all of the entertaining and insightful blogs on my sidebar.
A Poet of One Mood 
~Alice Alice Meynell (1847 - 1922)
A poet of one mood in all my lays,
Ranging all life to sing one only love,
Like a west wind across the world I move,
Sweeping my harp of floods mine own wild ways.
The countries change, but not the west-wind days
Which are my songs. My soft skies shine above,
And on all seas the colours of a dove,
And on all fields a flash of silver greys.
I made the whole world answer to my art
And sweet monotonous meanings. In your ears
I change not ever, bearing, for my part,
One thought that is the treasure of my years-
A small cloud full of rain upon my heart
And in mine arms, clasped, like a child in tears.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The five biggest mistakes I made as an aspiring author...

Finally, I sent in the edits to my editor, and now I'm waiting to see if they pass the mustard. So, until then, I'm back in the land of the living.

Holy Schnikies, Batman. I can't believe how long it's been since I've posted and visited blogs. I'm SO out of practice... hope I remember how. *nervous*

Please be gentle with me!

Okay, looking back at my blog idea file (those of you who know me can attest that YES, I'm that much of a geek to actually have one--hee), I found two awards and one meme I haven't done yet. So this week, the awards. 

Lovely A.M. Supinger over at Inner Owlet (BTW, she's every bit as cute as the name of her blog) gifted me with this:

Thank you, dahling! This gal never ceases to amaze me with her talent for story telling, and she's also artistically gifted ... which means she'll be getting a very special award in my upcoming  Second Bi-Annual Wonderland Bloggy Awards in a few weeks. (◕‿-) 

The rules for this award:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them. Done!
2. Pick some of your favorite blogs to share the award with!

A.M. picked two recipients, so I'm following in her hoof prints.

1. Bethany Crandell, of the notorious Rookie Riter blog. Why do I think her blog is lovely? For one, she's put up a new rocking background that fits her book (presently being subbed) to a T. Also, because I love to hang out there. Her insights are witty, irreverent, and laugh out loud funny. Not to mention, there's always a kernel of poignant truth in everything she says. Simply put, she's a gem.

2. Jenny Phresh of The Party Pony fame. She's been redecorating her place of late, and it's quiet lovely. Also, much like my other recipient, she always makes me laugh, and sometimes makes my heart sigh. So, anyone who can pull my emotional puppet strings like that, deserves a lovely award.

Next, Bailey over at Over Yonder Lit gave me the versatile blog award.

Thank you, Bailey! It's already on my sidebar which means I've passed it out another time or two, so I'll skip that bit, but here are five things about me ... with a writer's twist.

The five most naive mistakes I made when first starting out as a writer (IOW, five things aspiring writers should never do as proven by my bumbling bloopers):

1. Trying too hard to stand out. When I started querying the first book I ever wrote, I read LOTS of books and articles on how to go about it. One of them suggested you do something out of the ordinary to get noticed. So I decided to make a query brochure ... the tri-fold kind *in full color, mind* that had pictures of my characters, a short synopsis, excerpt from the book, and an author's bio (under a pseudonym, thankfully ... that's the one thing I did right). To further humiliate myself, I included a picture of me. Want to see?

*Shudders* Needless to say, I didn't get many responses. And those I got, well, they aren't worth mentioning. ;) So glad I only sent out five.  Lesson learned: The only way your query should stand out is a unique story premise and polished writing. Everything else needs to be standard and professional.

2. Thinking that finishing a book = instant success.  I just knew the first publisher who read my three page query letter (after I abandoned the brochures) would buy my MS. In truth, I got over 100 rejections before I ever learned how to write a query letter to begin with. And it took that many for me to realize maybe I wasn't going to get in with book one. Here's a picture of HALF of the rejections I received. Didn't have room to lay them all out, so imagine a line twice this long (Note: some of the rejections are on small slips of paper or postcards, so they're hard to see)...

Lesson learned: There are a lot more steps to getting published than writing a book. Educate yourself on those steps and ace them. It will give you an edge over the millions of other writers out there trying to get in the door.

 3. Assuming agents are out to make you miserable. I once did a post on my old blog poking fun at all of the pointless form rejections I'd received, even copying some word for word--omitting names, of course. A very savvy fellow blogger (who happened to be an assistant for an agent) pointed out that it might not be the smartest move, considering I was querying at the time, and if any agents googled me, they might be offended and write me off. Lesson learned: agents are people; they have limited time, ergo, they have form letters to help them do their job. Treat them w/respect if you expect it in return.

4. Thinking that once you get an agent, you'll have him/her for life, they'll love everything you write, and you will be published within months of signing. This may prove true for some, but I was with my first agent for over two years and while we sent out the MS she signed me for, I wrote three more. My book didn't sell, and she turned down two that I wrote, and wanted me to change the last one (SPLINTERED) so drastically it would've killed my vision for the book. We were on completely different pages for my career. So we parted ways. Lesson learned: Sometimes we don't find our literary soulmates until round 2 or 3 or 4. What's important is to be willing to make changes that resonate, but stay true to your voice and vision. Have the courage to do what's best for your longtime career.

5. Once an agent turns you down, never ever query them again. Refer once more to the long line of rejections above. One of those is actually from my present agent. She doesn't even remember that I sent a query her way for the first book I wrote (some six or so years ago), or even that she read a chapter of it. She turned it down because she didn't love the writing. Thinking that meant she'd never want to see anything else I wrote, I made a point not to query her with my YA. I queried her colleague instead. Had said colleague not sent the MS my agent's way after deciding it wasn't the right fit for her, I wouldn't be where I am today. Lesson learned: An agent's tastes can change over time, just as your writing will. Never be afraid to try an agent again, especially if you have a few more books under your belt. Chances are, one of you has changed enough to make a connection. You certainly won't know unless you try.

I hope you can glean some positive insights out of my ignorance. :) You know what they say about hindsight? It's even better when it's someone else's. I wanted to post this to prove that no matter how many mistakes you make, the only mistake that can keep you from getting published is to quit trying.

I did some stupid things, but the one thing I did right is I hung in there and never stopped writing. Now I'm about to finally see my dream come true. It can be that way for everyone aspiring to be published.

Never give up, and it will be your turn to sit on the shelves one day soon. 

Have a great weekend!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Posie & Mosey Monday

On Mondays, I share word posies with my readers. Comments are disabled so you can enjoy this gift of poetry then mosey on along to your list of daily do's.*

*Hungry for more in-depth Monday posts? Visit any or all of the entertaining and insightful blogs on my sidebar.

The Ghost
~Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)

Softly as brown-eyed Angels rove
I will return to thy alcove,
And glide upon the night to thee,
Treading the shadows silently.
And I will give to thee, my own,
Kisses as icy as the moon,
And the caresses of a snake
Cold gliding in the thorny brake.
And when returns the livid morn
Thou shalt find all my place forlorn
And chilly, till the falling night.
Others would rule by tenderness
Over thy life and youthfulness,
But I would conquer thee by fright!

'The Ghost' is reprinted from The Poems and Prose Poems of Charles Baudelaire. Ed. James Huneker. New York: Brentano's, 1919.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Posie & Mosey Monday + Winner of QT gift card!

On Mondays, I like to share word posies with my readers. Comments are usually disabled so you can enjoy this gift of poetry then mosey on along to your list of daily do's. But today I have a WINNER to announce.

E. Arroyo, Mr. has chosen you as the recipient of Patrick's generous premium membership gift card which will last you a full year (a $25 value)! Please email me at anita(at)aghoward(dot)come and I'll send the linkage your way via your email address.

Thanks to everyone else who participated. Patrick and I really appreciated all of the comments. :) Have a great week!

Now onto today's poem...

Alone ~Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Guest Interview with Patrick McDonald *AND* QueryTracker Gift Card Giveaway!!!

(click on the above image to visit site)

Today I'm honored to have Patrick McDonald, founder and moderator of, joining us for an interview. *waves to Patrick*

(click picture to read Patrick's QT bio)
Patrick, who works in Industrial Automation by day, started QT back in 2007, and since then it's grown to be one of the most extensive online data bases for aspiring authors, boasting statistical information for 1,253 literary agents and 131 publishers. To date, there are 681 success stories born of the some 47,530 QT members.

Yet the most important service QT provides is the community fellowship. There's such a supportive spirit to be found at the blog, the agent/publisher threads, and the groups/forums. When I first started hanging around the threads, I was touched and impressed by the cheerleading and encouragement taking place. In spite of the fact that these people were all vying for the same thing, no one was competing. They were there to lend a helping hand or offer a word of comfort when someone was down, or share in the celebration when someone got good news.

I'll never forget the people who reached out and helped me, Patrick included. And even though I don't get over there like I used to, I know that there will always be someone to take up the slack. Because writers rock like that. (◕‿-)

One of the best things about QT is it's completely free to join and get access to the agent/publisher info, threads, etc... BUT, a $25/yr premium membership opens a whole new world of features. Click here to check out that list.

Interested? At the end of this interview, I'll let you know how you can win a FREE premium membership gift card. So stay tuned...

In a prior post, I put out a request to my readers: What would you like to ask Patrick Mcdonald, the wizard who so humbly stands behind the curtain to keep things running smooth in QueryTracker Oz? The last several questions in this interview were born of that post, so thank you ladies for your contributions! 

And off we go...

AGH: It’s rumored that you dabble in writing yourself. What genres are you drawn to creatively?

Patrick: It's been a long time since I've dabbled in writing, and that's a good word for it. I'd be the first to admit I'm just not very good at it. Now days, when I feel the urge to write coming on, I resist with every ounce of willpower.  I've accepted the reality that my poor brain is much better suited for programming than writing. When I write, it always comes out sounding like a computer manual, and we all know how much fun those are to read. 

AGH: Are you working on any current projects you can tell us about?

If you mean writing, then no. Besides being terrible at it, QT has kept me too busy to give it much thought. There are some new QT features I've been considering lately, and I hope to have time to get to them real soon. Maybe over the Christmas Holiday when I'll have some time away from my day job.

AGH: How did you being an aspiring author influence the birth/growth of QT?

It certainly helped me to identify the need for something like QT. Way back, when I was querying, I used AgentQuery (which is a great resource, by the way) but I kept thinking it would be really nice if I could mark off agents right there on the site as I went along. I looked around, couldn't find anything that did what I wanted, and since my queries weren't going anywhere, I decided to give it a shot. And, thanks to all of you out there who gave it a try and continue to use, it has been a success.

AGH: Who comes up with all of those great premium membership feature ideas?

I'm always on the look out for new ideas, so if anyone has any thoughts on new features, please let me know.

AGH: Speaking of features, QT has a recent one for premium members where if you mark which agents have your full MS it'll tell what other agents have "similar tastes." Kind of like the “customers who liked this book also bought this one” feature on Amazon. How do you come up w/that information?

It is based on the query results recorded by users. So, if two agents request the same material then they must have similar tastes.

Angela Cook: Some of the comments left on agent profiles are brutally honest and/or emotionally charged. Have you ever been asked by an agent to remove those comments? If so, did you?

I don't recall ever being asked "nicely". There have been a few cases where an agent threatened legal action if I did not remove a comment. In those cases I just removed the agent entirely. Those kinds of people don't deserve to be listed.

Jenny Phresh: Have you ever considered letting authors choose the look of their frowning/smiling status faces from a gallery? I would be prefer my frowning face, for example, to have an insouciant, devil-may-care expression that shows that I Will Rise Again! Right now it's too durned sad and beaten-down looking.

That's actually a pretty good idea. But I don't have the artistic talent needed to draw up a bunch of different icon sets. So, if anyone out there wants to contribute, just let me know.

Mindy McGinnis: How do you keep your agent contact information updated? Do they inform you of changes or do you hunt this information down?

Some agents will inform me of changes, other changes I find myself. But the majority come from users who send me a note about something they found, or post it on the agent's profile. After confirming the change, I update the agent's profile. And I really appreciate all the help I get from users. There's just no way I could keep up with all the agents on my own.

Krista V:  How can QueryTracker users get the most out of QueryTracker? And what is QueryTracker's best little-known feature? 

There's a lot going on at QT, and it can be a little overwhelming at first. So, I think the best place to start is with the tutorial videos (which can be found at

As for best little-known feature, it's hard to think of just one. But, one of the things that I think is really simple, yet highly useful, is the agency cross-reference. When you view an agent's profile page, there is also a list of all the other agents at that agency along with your query status to any of them (if you happened to have already queried them). It helps to know, so you don't query the same agency twice. If you're a premium member you'll find the cross-reference on the right side of the page, where the advertisements would be.

**Five for fun**  

1) What’s your favorite breakfast?

Lunch. I like to sleep in.

2) Are you Team Dog or Team Cat?

It depends on how they are cooked.

3) If I were at your house right now, what would I find in your refrigerator?

Absolutely nothing. Just ask my teenage son.

4) If you could morph into any food, what kind would you become and why?

Turkey. It's the holidays and I always wanted to be the guest of honor. 

5) What would be the first thing you would do if you woke up to find you were a fish?

Drown. I can't swim.


Eek on the drowning! Hee. And I get what you're saying about your teenage son. I have one of those, too. Hungry little critters.

Thank you, Patrick, for the interview, and for everything you do for us!

Now for the GIVEAWAY: Patrick has offered to donate a premium membership gift card to give away to one of my readers. All you have to do is leave a comment* on this post, from today through Sunday at midnight (central time). I will close the comments then, and will draw the lucky winner's name TBA on Monday.

Thanks for dropping by. Have a fabulous weekend and see you next week!

*Please note: this pertains to legitimate comments ... I reserve the right to use the delete function if there are any naughties out there ... 'nuff said. ;)