Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Meeting: Blue about Missing You, and Looking for Conference Advice

The Blue Man Group rocks. Literally.
Last week was vacation week for my kids--and we did some great stuff. None of it revolved around writing or being plugged in. I miss this aspect of my life when I can't focus on it. I'm hoping to jump right in this week, and not lose any momentum that I had gathered before. (I guess that's my ROW update--I did nothing last week, but plan on hitting my goals this week.)

This April, not only am I attending the NESCBWI (New England Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators) conference, (can I get a WOOT!?) but I'm moderating a discussion there about attending a conference for the first time. Since my group is first thing on Friday afternoon, what I tell first time conference goers might affect how they go about the rest of the conference.

I remember attending my first conference, and, quite honestly, feeling like a fraud. I stuck to my writing partner, and we both introverted the entire time.

Now, that doesn't sound much like me. :)

So, I'd love to hear your take on your first conference, and what advice you would like to have heard before that conference.  Or, if you have yet to attend a writing conference, what questions you might have about preparing for the time spent there.

I think that my advice for first time conference goers revolves around the idea of picking one thing to focus on--whether it is socializing (or appropriately networking), getting critiques for your work, or working on craft. Otherwise it can be overwhelming.

On another note, I found this great post outlining the benefits of using youtube, and it reminded me about our discussion a few weeks ago about an author's platform.

And, I love this hopeful post, about YA and ereaders.

So, what goals do you have this week? What concerns did you have when you attended your first conference? What do you think about YA and ereaders? Do you youtube?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Feature: Journeys Toward Publication and Beyond: Jeff Hirsch and THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE

Hello, everyone! It's been a while since we met here to enjoy an interview and discussion with a writer. That's my fault, obviously. I've been writing. :) I hope you have been too! Anyway, I'm pleased as punch to introduce our author today.

I first interviewed Jeff before his book, THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE, was published, and so he has a good bit to fill us in on today. I'm always very curious about the publication process! Jeff is one of those writers whom I enjoyed the second I found his blog, and then more and more as I 'met' him through the interview process, and even more when I read his book. He's thoughtful, kind, intelligent, entertaining, and we're lucky to have him writing for kids (and us). 

Please pop over to his website, and, if you want insider scoop on his previous Friday Feature interview, then click here

Seriously, feel free to click. We'll wait!

Here's a little about Jeff: 

Jeff Hirsch grew up in Richmond, VA and received an MFA in Dramatic Writing from UC San Diego. He now lives in Queens, NY and works at a non-profit in the ad industry. Besides writing, Jeff enjoys cooking, fire eating, escaping from a straitjacket (while standing up or hanging from the ceiling by his ankles), and trying not to get obsessive about politics. You can reach him through his website at or

Welcome, Jeff, thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, and to converse in the comment section!

The last time we checked in, your YA was entitled THE LONG WALK HOME. Fill us in. What happened between THE LONG WALK HOME, and THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE? (Love that title, by the way.)

Wow, was it really that long ago since we talked last? Crazy. Well what came between the Long Walk Home and 11th Plague was editing, editing and more editing. That experience was great. My editors David and Cassandra did an incalculable amount of work helping me tighten and clarify and expand. The book is a thousand times better for their involvement.

The title change was Scholastic's idea and I couldn't be happier about it. This was always a hard book to find the right title for and it was great to have some assistance with that.

How was the book's launch? What did you do to celebrate?

My launch day was fairly low key actually. Me and the wife went for dinner at Craft (for you Top Chef fans that's Tom Colicchio's flagship restaurant in NYC) which was unbelievably good, then went to see the book at the Union Square Barnes and Noble and got into a bit of a tiff with the employees when trying to take a picture of my own book!

Juicy. Brawl in the Barnes! That was probably a good bit of marketing. Did you handle other strategies for your book, or did the publisher handle most of the marketing?

Everything that happened marketing-wise was about 98% Scholastic's doing. They kept me on a crazy touring schedule, doing most of the big conferences as well as book festivals all over and lots of school and store appearances. It has been an absolutely wild and intense ride. I am, obviously, eternally grateful for everything they did and count myself super lucky. On my own I did keep doing blog interviews and posts and trying to blog and tweet as much as humanly possible.

It sounds like that did a great job getting your book off the shelves, and you in front of possible buyers. That's so wonderful! What surprised you the most about (or since) having a book released?

Well, beyond the fact that it was actually happening I suppose the biggest surprise was the reaction from readers. We're told over and over that kids want TV and movies and video games, not books. So getting emails from kids, and letters from kids and meeting kids in person who are still super excited about reading and writing was incredibly gratifying.

Definitely gratifying! Do you go about writing any differently now?

I definitely do way more planning now. 11th Plague was written more or less by the seat of my pants. Now that deadlines are tighter, and I aspire to do a book a year, that's not really possible anymore. The good thing is that while I once thought planning things out would put a crimp in creativity that hasn't been the case at all. Knowing more about the road you're heading down helps a lot.

That's great for a self-proclaimed pantser to know! How has your social media habits changed since publication?

I used to be a semi-regular blogger but, like a lot of writers, I'm having more and more trouble making that happen. I'm relying on twitter and Facebook way more now. I sometimes miss the depth of conversation you can have on a blog but if the choice is spend an hour writing a blog post or spend an hour making my book better (or, you know, actually talking to my wife) then I'm going with the book (or my wife).

I'm sure your wife appreciates that! What's next for you? What are you working on?

I've got a new book coming out in September that's a good bit different from 11th Plague. It's more of a sci-fi/fantasy adventure. We're not releasing the title of it for another month or so but I can say I'm really excited about it! Galleys aren't far off!

I love that your next book is so different--that gives us all hope to follow our muses, into whatever genre they take us.

Highest high? Lowest low?

Highest high has definitely been interacting with kids. The school visits I made and the emails I get from young readers have been amazing and humbling. The lowest low? Nothing big really. There are always going to be reviews that aren't quite what you want but that just goes with the territory.

Sounds like your skin is just the right thickness. :) Jeff, what is the biggest thing which you have learned since your book was released?

The importance of the galley. These are the copies that go out to bloggers, reviewers and other influential folks about 6 months prior to the release. I made changes to 11th plague that are small but significant (to me anyway) between the galley and the final book and I wish I had made them earlier. I now think of my deadline as the draft that will become the galley, not the one that will become the finished book.

That's really interesting, and something I haven't heard other writers talking about--also I have a few galleys, and just assumed that they were equivalent to the actual book. Maybe I should pick up the finished copies! 

Do you have any trade secrets you can let us in on?

I wish. If there are trade secrets out there I look forward to the day when someone will reveal them to me.
Hear that everyone? If you know a trade secret, definitely let us know in the comments! (I think the galley point was a great trade secret, Jeff.) 

And, just because I'm curious, dogs or cats?

I have two cats (Pip and Henry) who are awesome but I grew up having dogs so I long for the day when I can get one of my own, ideally one of the large and lumbering variety.

Very cool. I have a Pip cat too. Maybe next time we check in, you'll have a new book, and a new puppy. Not sure which one takes more work. :)

Thanks, Jeff, for the enlightening interview!

Everyone, give Jeff a warm welcome in the comment section, leave him a question, and be sure to check out his website, book, and twitter before you go. I'm sure you'll want to keep tabs on Jeff and his upcoming book release. And if we ask very nicely, maybe he'll tell us the name of that new book!

Oh, and leave the BEST COMMENT or QUESTION, and I will GIVE you a COPY of THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE! Yup, because that's how I roll. Comment away, friendly followers!   

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Blog Post That Doesn't Suck

This is not a how-to, but a has-been.

I've been struggling this morning with writing a blog post which doesn't suck.

It hasn't gone well. :)

I normally think that a good blog post has a little something for everything. A sprinkle of real life, a touch of writing talk, a bit of humor or voice, an optimistic view of the immediate writing future, and perhaps a kitten.

However, it is vacation week for my kids, and that is sucking all the life out of me (in a good way, of course), and my writing time.


Meanwhile, my mouth is writing checks that my time can't cash.

I challenged This One to a duel. A finish-the-revision duel. Yup. On a week when she is going GREAT GUNS, and I can't find time to write a decent blog post, let alone revise a novel! If you click over, make sure to tell her that she rocks. :)

On another note, I proclaim that Laura Pauling wins my WANTED: POSTER contest. Check out these awesome posters and blurbs she created! I think she should go professional on creating blurbs--she's awesome!

I am struggling with my writing goals this week, as I focus on vacation stuff with the kids. I'm hoping that I'll be back on the ROW 80 goals come Monday. I hope all the other ROWers are doing better than me!

On Friday, make sure to stop by here since I am hosting the awesome Jeff Hirsch on the blog. Loved his book, The Eleventh Plague.

I hope you'll join me, and I hope that I can get my creativity back in gear soon!

How do you balance writing on a difficult week? How are your ROW goals? What, in your opinion, makes a blog post not suck? Are you revising--do you want to join in our challenge? We'd love to include you in the competition to finish first! Have a great rest of the week, and good luck with your writing!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Last Call for Wanted Poster Contest and Another Awesome Prize!

Tomorrow, at midnight is the finish line for the Wanted Poster Contest!

It took me but a moment to make three posters at this site. It's fun, and good practice, whether you do it for your own book (yay for fun marketing), or for a book you love or hate (being able to write a blurb is great for when the time comes for querying!).

Here is the final awesome giveaway book that the winner may choose from:

Untraceable--Shelli Johannes-Wells

WANTED:  A new young adult wilderness thriller with a missing father, a kickbutt heroine, and of course - two hot boys.

Sounds delish, right?

Check out the prizes, and directions, here in the contest page!

Which one would you choose from, if you win?

What books are you reading, or would recommend?

Have you checked out what John Green is reading? (I totally get sucked into his vlogs. That guy is one enthusiastic dude. :) Oh, and he writes some kick a$$ books.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Cleansing the Palette

On Friday, I typed the words "THE END" on my rough draft of my current novel.

Let me just say that one more time:

I've been revising as I go, so this work is in various stages of progress. The actual ending is very rough, but I got there. :)

*shiver of thrill* 

I am super excited to continue revising. I love this book, still. After a year (or more) of growing this idea. I do love it, still. Instead of the sinking feeling of something's-not-working, I have the feeling of I-know-what-I-need-to-do.

Again, let me repeat.

I KNOW what I need to do.

Let me just explain the emphasize--in case those-who-don't-know-me-well mistakes it for egomania, or tooting my own horn. I am surprised to be sitting in the place of comprehension. Of understanding my own writing well enough to draft to my strengths and revise to my weaknesses. Of actually knowing how to fix my weaknesses, and make them strengths. 

Maybe I shouldn't be surprised--I've been working darn hard to get here. By writing writing writing, by reading about craft. By doing crits for others. By revising revising revising. It's been a long road, and one which will continue on as long as I write.

I am surprised and thrilled to FINALLY feel like I can give a novel its PROPER DUE. :)

This palette, not the taste palate. :), although I also had a glass of wine to celebrate. 

So this weekend, I cleansed the palette, and read John Green's book THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. I love this article about it, and how YA isn't just for kids anymore (but we already knew that, yes?).

The least (and perhaps the most) that I can say after reading this book, is that it made me "Feel All The Things". Which I have heard that John Green said was his intention. (I looked for the basis of this quote, and couldn't find it, but love that it started this blog chain.)

So, John Green, in my opinion, did what he intended to do.

What is your intention with writing? Is it to make people Feel All The Things? Or something else entirely?

What, as writers (or parents, or people) do you intend to do this week? This month? This ROWing session?

If it is unclear from my BOLD FACE above, I am having a smashing time doing ROW 80, and sticking to my goals. If I keep up at this pace, (which is writing 2 hours or 1K a day), then I will be successful with this novel. I'm setting myself up for success. How about you?

I am officially one step closer to new boots. :)

Now, back to the revision cave...

Monday, February 6, 2012

YOU Are Your Platform, Or, How Your Books Hitchhike On Your Own Back

At the last couple of writing conferences I've attended, I've gotten some good ideas about marketing. One of the common tips these days from marketing professionals is that if you write fiction, then YOU are the platform.

I sat at the conferences, and kind of got it. A marketing professional stood up and talked about how her client, an illustrator, had been a puppeteer previously in his career. How she used this fact about him to market him, and then his books. That I could understand. 

But what about me? I am no puppeteer. 

How would I use ME as a platform?

Recently, I was talking with a good friend about books she was purchasing for a project. She told me how she bought two books on amazon, solely because the authors had uploaded clips of themselves talking about what inspired them to write their books.

My friend BOUGHT two HARDCOPY books, because after seeing and hearing the authors talk about their passions for their books, SHE COULDN'T RESIST. 

She would not have bought these books based on description alone. Although the books are described well.

That is making YOU the platform.

Now I get it. :)

I'm reading one of those two books now, and it is excellent. 

It's called THE RUNNING DREAM. A heart-achingly spot-on YA novel about loss and hope.

I dare you to NOT want to read this book!

(And I recommend it; it is WONDERFUL.)

My hope is that all you authors out there, put together a video showcasing how lovely and wonderful you are. Let you books hitchhike* on your back! 

(*I saw an actual hitchhiker today. I haven't seen one in years. My only thought was, 'why does that fool WANT to get arrested?' In my younger days I used to consider picking people up. And wonder what made them hitchhike. I think I'm jaded. Or something.)


Row80 Update: *waving to all my fellow rowers*: 

I am fired up to make more headway this week. Last week was a stellar week for wordcount. I want to keep up with that momentum. 

However, I need to take my weekends off--since I'm not finding time to write then anyway. (What with basketball, and kids' friends, and swimming meets, and church stuff.) So, I'm changing my goals to 1K or 2 hours a day, excluding weekends. 

I'm excited to get this novel to the next level!


What goals do you have this week?

#WantedPosterContest update:

Check out these awesome Wanted Posters:


Didn't they do an awesome job? Here's the link to the Contest Page: there are book PRIZES!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Wanted Posters Contest: More Prizes!!

It's winter, it's cold (for some of us) and so it's time for another event here at Edited. Time to warm ourselves up with some creativity.
Like this:


A YA historical novel based on the true story of teenage sisters catapulted to fame when they claim they can speak to the dead.  Celebrity status ultimately drives a wedge between them, when one sister captures the romantic attention of a dashing Arctic explorer who tries to "rescue" her from the family hoax.

Didn't Dianne do an awesome job on her WE HEAR THE DEAD Poster and Want Ad?

Check out Elana's enticing POSSESSION Poster and Ad:


A sarcastic, headstrong fifteen-year-old who is sick and tired of being told what to do. Must include broken Rules, daring escapes, and the promise of kissing.

Don't those books sound delicious? (They are--I've read them.)

Consider creating a Wanted Poster and Ad for the contest--explanation at contest post HERE. Or, here, on this contest page.

It's so easy, it's super fun, and you can win POSSESSION or WE HEAR THE DEAD as prize! Plus others!

Plus you get to showcase something you are working on (it's easier than a query), or a book that you love.

It just took me a few minutes to create a poster at Glass Giant.

Join in by adding a link to your Wanted Poster, when you're ready. Don't worry, the contest spans a few weeks (ends February 17th) so that you have time to rev up your creative juices.

And oops, I forgot to include my ROW80 progress on my Wednesday post. I am going great guns on the wordcount this week--Tuesday I even churned out 5K words. I'm super excited, and can't wait to get this novel all spit and polished! How's your writing life?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wanted Posters Contest: Because Wouldn't That Make Querying Easier?!

So, I've been thinking. (**A dangerous pastime. I know.)

I've been thinking about a couple of systems which are inherently flawed.

They are the querying and submission processes--the systems which stand between us and publication. (unless, of course, we take a different route altogether--which is a whole 'nother blog post!)

The idea of cold-querying a million agents, one by one, without knowing what kind of project they really want to work on, is, in a word, crazy.

I mean, sure they say on their website that they like YA fantasy. But would they like a contemporary YA fairy tale where the main character's friends turn into talking inanimate objects? (I don't know how to make that last sentence not be an oxymoron. LOL) Maybe, maybe not.

We do a ton of work in order to query agents who probably aren't a good fit. We have no way of knowing, at any point, if our novel (or PB) is going to match up perfectly with what an agent is looking to represent, right then.

And, then, agents do this whole process again, submitting to publishers. Hopefully, agents have an idea of what a particular publishing house is looking for at any given point in time, but really, it seems like a shot in the dark. :)

I know, agents and publishers probably don't know exactly what they are looking for until they see it.

But, wouldn't it be great if they did?


A magical novel for the age gap between PB and MG, featuring talking stuffed animals. Must make children belly-laugh, and must have tons of heart.

(Seriously, have you guys read TOYS GO OUT and TOYS COME HOME? So awesomely sweet!)


A fantastical adventure featuring a no-nonsense twelve-year-old girl, whose job is to keep the peace when quarrels and fights erupt in magical lands. Must include cantankerous unicorns and Prince Charming as a lamb.


A YA novel featuring a headstrong girl who wishes only to be surgically altered into being pretty on her sixteenth birthday. You know, like everyone else. Must make her choose between her deepest desire, and the survival of her friends.

Pretty cool, huh?

So, should we have some fun??!!

(What kind of question is that??)

Your challenge, should you chose to accept it, is to create your own wanted poster. With a Want Ad which reads vaguely like a query (see examples above).

You CAN use a book already published by another author (like I did above), but how awesome would it be to use a book which you are interested in querying, or a book of yours which is coming out soon? So awesome!

Here is the site I used to make my Wanted Posters:


Here's how you do it:

1. Create a Wanted Poster and Want Ad. Feel free to use the link above, or not. Creativity Matters.
2. Post your creation on your blog or website, with a link back to my blog. Feel free to include the Linky List on your blog post.
3. Enter your link in the linky list below.
4. Do this, before the contest ends Friday, February 17th at midnight EST.

That's really it. But there are some extras:

5. +1 Extra credit for following this blog, tweeting the contest, or figuring out what movie the **quote is from above (there is a clue within the blog post).
6. +10 Extra credit for GETTING AN AGENT OR PUBLISHER TO POST A WANT AD. (Because wouldn't that make querying easier?!)
7. Make sure to leave me a comment here stating your total points for extra credit.


The BEST Want Ad and Wanted Poster created by a writer, will earn them their choice of book from the three wanted posters above OR any other books featured in a WANT AD on this blog during the course of the challenge (if you want your published book featured as a prize, please email me).

The BEST Want Ad and Wanted Poster created by an agent or publisher will earn them queries which fit their deepest desire. :)

Sigh, I can't go a couple of months without creating a convoluted and crazy contest, now can I?

Follow the tweets: I'm using the hashtag #WantedPosterContest to give love to all the entries!