Monday, May 31, 2010

Fishing for, Feedback

I know there are people out there thirsty for a light-hearted supernatural good vs. evil story. Yes, yes I did just put "light-hearted" and "good vs. evil" in the same sentence. 

If you are in need of this type of quick escape, then I have good news for you:

I NEED BETAS! (No, not the fish) 

Hi, fishy!

I need beta readers: people I can experiment on with my fiction.
I promise it won't hurt.
The query can be found HERE.

If interested, please comment below. I'm hoping to get this manuscript ship-shape in as little time as possible. (Yes, I'm one of those writers: obsessive, driven, exhausted.)

As noted on the side of this blog, I am happy to return the favor for others.

*must like MG (middle grade)
*must like inexplicable powers, such as those wielded by superheros
*must have a very goofy sense of humor

I have no way of judging these things, so you'll just have to screen yourselves. I will accept anybody who is willing to read my unpublished goop. :-)

And if you'd like some pointers for how to give helpful feedback, I LOVED this article.

WOOHOO! I'm done! Drats! Foiled Again! is complete!

Ah, the joy of completing the first draft. It is sublime... transcendent.... peaceful.

Even though I want to shout from the roof, "I'M DONE!"

The stronger feeling is one of resolution and serenity. "Ah....I'm done."

Of course, there will be redrafts, revisions, torturous rewrites. But I don't have to think about those right now. I get to bask in the glow of seeing a project through to completion. I get to revel in the joy of birthing an idea that grew to full fruition.

I get to relax and feel free to play with other ideas without feeling like I'm cheating on my WIP.

I can play with the idea of a sequel: Foil Me Twice, Shame On Me

or a companion from the evil twin's POV: Bombs Away!

or go in a completely different direction and play with some of the fairy/spy/ghost-hunter/ordinary romance ideas floating around in my head.

This afternoon, there were ideas for the conclusion of my book spinning around and around in my mind, making me dizzy--incapable of remembering anything my husband or kids tried to tell me.

Now, my head is clear.

At last.

This, my friends, is why it is worth it to finish that novel.

I did it. You can, too!

Win an ARC of MATCHED- contest ends TONIGHT!

Okay, people! I just found out about this, so I'm sorry to be passing it on at the last second.

THIS IS THE LAST DAY (I'll stop shouting now) to comment on Ally Condie's blog to win an ARC copy of her new book, MATCHED.

The contest ends at midnight tonight:

This is another book that caught my eye based on the cover. Gorgeous, isn't it? But just to show I'm not that shallow, here's the compelling premise, too (as quoted from her blog):
In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.
Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.

So go now! You might just be the lucky one to get an advanced copy of a sure-fire bestseller that doesn't come out till November 30th. The rest of us will just have to look on with envy. I hate you already. :-)

IF I STAY by Gayle Forman: My review


It was a random tweet that sent me seeking out IF I STAY at my local If somebody had presented me with this book last week and told me, "You will cry at the end of every other scene," I would have raised a quizzical brow. No book could sustain that kind of emotion without sending readers off clamoring for a break.

It was masterfully done.

From the very first chapter, I was disturbed (and I can't recommend this book to anyone under sixteen, on principle--I wouldn't recommend a great R-rated movie to such a tender age-group either). But the way this book disturbed me was not grotesque and showy. It was by realism and raw emotion.

"Please, Mia. Don't make me write a song," was only one line that brought the torrential tears. But the poignant passages are interspersed with flashbacks on (mostly) happier times. This was enough comic relief and character development to keep me reading nonstop. Since there are no chapters, per se, there's no good stopping place. If you pick up this book, plan on reading for several hours. :-)

But there is a feeling of chapters with the one-two motion of present-tense action and thought, then past-tense stories and memories. Now-flashback-now-flashback-now is the way it goes. You'd think it would be distracting, but it flows smoothly. This is the first book I've read that utilizes first-person present-tense (I know, I know, where have I been, right?), so it was distracting to me for the first few pages. But the story and the characters quickly eclipse any thought of the format.

Several times, I paused to think how much I loved a certain character. They are all too bizarre to be fiction. They are real people. It makes you mourn those who pass on, and grieve with those who remain. This is how every fifth paragraph brings you to tears. You've been warned.

I'm not the first to say--and I surely won't be the last--THIS STORY IS PHENOMENALLY TOUCHING AND PROFOUND.

There were things I could have done without, as a Christian YA reader (preferring fantastic escapism to gritty realism, so take these thoughts accordingly).

-Language: Way too much swearing for my liking. I realize we are talking about punk rockers and dire straits here, but, as someone unaccustomed to that vocabulary, it pulled me out of the story.

-Sex: Yeah. I'm all about sexual tension in YA, but this was a bit too edgy for me. As in, it crossed over the edge into actually depicting sex. This may be okay with some YA advocates/readers. It's on my don't-like list of literary attributes.

That was it. Not an exhaustive list. Just two things that caused some dissonance for me, personally.

Otherwise, I have to give this book a glowing review and declare its author a practiced and brilliant story-teller. Thank you, Gayle Forman for a touching, beautiful story. Any reader can tell that you poured your heart and experience into this novel, and the world is better for it.

P.S. As always, I welcome your comments and discussion. That's why I write, people.

Also, check out the book website: and movie gossip: GOOGLE: if i stay movie summit  (Catherine Hardwicke directing, Summit producing, Dakota Fanning as Mia)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Paranormalcy and Kiersten White: The buzz is warranted

I can't remember which blog post of hers it was that took me to Kiersten White's fabulous blog. All I know was that when I saw the cover and read the blurb of her debut novel, PARANORMALCY, I was hooked. Just on the book. Then I found out that she blogs regularly, and started listening in.

That's when I discovered how FUN she is, as a person besides just as a writer. And I wanted to take a moment to plug her and her upcoming work (released September 21st, the first of a contracted trilogy).

If you haven't heard the buzz about this wonderful new author, then go to RIGHT NOW! Trust me. You do not want to be the last to know. You'll be blushing with embarrassment.

Follow her on twitter if you can only take so much awesome in one dose: @kierstenwhite

Naked Words! Put Something Decent On!

So we've all had that naked dream, right?

Actually, I don't remember having a naked dream, but I'm sure it happened and I just blocked it out to protect my delicate psyche. I have, however, had plenty of dreams wherein I felt completely humiliated for one reason or another. Which is basically the same thing as a naked dream, in principle.

At the crux of the naked dream is the uncomfortable feeling of being exposed--warts and all--against our will. It is characterized by embarrassment, stage fright, and perhaps some jiggly running (I apologize for the mental image, but hopefully you were only picturing yourself, right?).

Stephenie Meyer, acclaimed author of the Twilight Saga and The Host, talks about her own stage fright here: STEPHENIE MEYER ON SEQUELS. (Spoiler alert, but really, WHO hasn't read these yet?)

I'll quote her here for those of you who don't want to spoil the fun of reading New Moon on your golden anniversary:
It's hard to explain how joyous the writing process was for me when I was creating Twilight. It was something I did for fun and excitement, with no concern for what anyone else might think, because no one else was ever going to read it. With New Moon, I knew people were going to read it. And some of those people were going to have bright red pens in hand while reading. I knew enough about the editing process to know that there were painful changes ahead; the parts I loved now might not make the final cut. I was going to have to rethink and revise and rework. This made it very hard to put the words down, and I had a horrible feeling much like stage fright the whole time I was writing.

Last night I got to thinking about my own stage fright and how it affects my writing, which it does...a lot. Of course, I can't claim any special reason for this. I'm not Stephenie Meyer writing sequels to the beloved Twilight. Nobody knows who I am, except for Mandy Hubbard (hee hee), and even fewer people have actually read my long form work, like the 3 novels gathering giga-dust on my hard drive. I can count the person who's read all of my work on one finger. By the way,


But after reading countless blogs, books, and author interviews about 'how NOT to write a novel', I'm suffering from a mild case of Faux Pas Phobia. Of the writerly variety.

The symptoms of Writerly Faux Pas Phobia are as follows:

  • inability to reread anything you've written without gagging
  • crippling anxiety over: sentence structure; overuse of adverbs, adjectives, pronouns, proper nouns
  • WRITER'S BLOCK, or the feeling of being stuck in the mud whenever you try to write more than a sentence.
  • reading the classics ad nauseam and comparing your writing to the likes of Austen and Poe.
  • talking to dead authors about your writing, even if in whispers
  • snapping at family members who call your writing just "good"
  • typing with one hand on your forehead
Basically, like me, you've read too many how-to's and now feel like nothing you ever write will ever be good enough for the market. Or maybe you've had a little bit of success, and now feel compelled to keep up with that success in everything you write.

I've thought of three ways to get over this fear, which is really just insecurity. *I cannot vouch for the effectiveness of these methods.

  • Pretend your audience is naked. (Okay, this has never really worked for me.)
  • Write a story for your kids, nephews and nieces, cousin's kids (and not for publication). In short, write something for fun. That is why you started writing, right? 
  • Say it with me: "It's only a first draft. It's only a first draft. It's only a first draft."
Wooh. Well, I don't know about you, but I feel much better! 

No? Well, maybe more wisdom from Stephenie will help:

The good news is that I got over—or rather got used to—the stage fright. Book three was much easier in a multitude of ways. I learned a lot through the New Moon experience, and I grew as a writer. Even better, my characters grew and matured in interesting ways that gave me so much to work with throughout the rest of the series!
 In closing, there is no published author in the history of time who has received only positive reviews--not even God himself. Art thou greater than He? (We'll discuss the God complexes of writers in another post.)

So go tell your WIP (work in progress) to GO PUT SOMETHING DECENT ON! And get on with the joy and the pain that is writing. See you in the query trenches.

Oh, and tell me: how do you get past Faux Pas Phobia?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mandy Hubbard knows I exist!

If you don't know who that is, go to your bookstore right now (any Barnes and Noble will do) and pick up a copy of Prada and Prejudice.

Instead of ruby slippers, Callie's red Prada pumps are the transportation device to another world: the year 1815 in London.

Great hook, huh? It's definitely a book we'll have to discuss on the blog in the near future. (Reminder: we're reading IF I STAY by Gayle Forman right now, to discuss and review next week.)

So how do I know Mandy Hubbard knows I exist?


My query was randomly chosen for her week-long query workshop at her blog: AUTHOR/AGENT MANDY HUBBARD: QUERY WORKSHOP DAY 3

Here's what she said about it:

So... overall? A very strong query. It's nicely personalized for me, introduces a character with a strong internal conflict, and showcases a plot in which there's plenty at stake. The word count and age range is right on target.

It might be a teeny bit brief-- perhaps we could get a little more of a sense of the character beyond his desire to be a do-gooder, but at the end of the day, this will probably still garner requests.

It's slightly more boy-oriented than I typically gravitate toward, but I would probably still request it to see if the voice would win me over to the dark side. :-)

I'm giddy right now.

Okay (moment over), back to writing.

Fun with Words at Larry Brooks' Blog

That was fun! has a wordplay game going today (blog run by Larry Brooks). Compound words (or just long words) that, when separated, create a completely different mental picture. My examples:

"Katrina Lantz May 26, 2010 at 10:46 am

Okay, here goes:

hand some: a demand you hear from your children when they catch you eating chocolate

bur lap: the feeling on your tongue when you lick a kiwi

e pic: your internet avatar

lip stick: a type of stick insect characterized by its sassy comebacks

come back: the futile cry of a man or woman who has just been dumped unexpectedly

in sect: the status of persons who are in with the in-crowd

defib rilator: a realtor who is incapable both of lying and spelling properly.

And with that last non-word, I bow out."

Check out his blog and contribute to the game HERE.

Contest for ARC's from

Run on over to to enter their fabulous contest and win Advance Reader Copies of exciting books like The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins!!! There are more, of course, but you have to check it out.

Follow them on twitter: @yaHighway
From their twitter page:
"Bio We're YA novelists from all over the world. Chat us up about travel, what you're writing, and of course, YA novels!"

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Natalie Whipple's analysis of the YA author dialect: YAWESOME

Okay, I don't normally blog about other people's blogs, but Natalie Whipple's post on YAWESOME was just too delicious not to share. Check it out! Like, right now.

Natalie Whipple is a YA author made of awesome (which is difficult to find on shelves these days).

Monday, May 24, 2010

WINGS by Aprilynne Pike: my review

As promised, I am here to discuss Aprilynne Pike's fabulous debut novel, WINGS! By the way, the long-awaited sequel, SPELLS, is available from Amazon, here.

As for the first book, WINGS: I bought this book the second I saw that it was recommended by Stephenie Meyer. If you click on Ms. Pike's name above, you can read on her blog about her journey to publication. She actually got a personal referral to agent Jodi Reamer via the famed Twilight Saga authoress. But things weren't all roses and daisies on her path to publication. It's a very fascinating story that aspiring authors and readers alike will enjoy.

Now on to my review of WINGS! Let's use a point system I just made up. Five points for anything I particularly liked. Ah, heck, why not 10?

  • 10 Points for a M.C. who homeschools, and loves it.
  • 10 Points for a very sweet boyfriend-type.
  • 10 Points for a hot, passionate boyfriend-type who creates a love triangle for Laurel.
  • 10 Points--no, has to be 50 Points--for completely original story premise and plot. Even reviews and descriptions read before the book did not give away the startling twist of who the protagonist really is.
  • 10 Points for vivid descriptions of the bad guys that made me cringe...yes, actually cringe.
  • 10 Points for creating high stakes and the question of survival, not only for the protagonist, but also for people she loves.
Well, that's 100 Points, so I should stop.

I'll just add that Aprilynne Pike really pulled me into her world by the end of the novel, so much that I was thinking about it long after I closed the back cover over the sneak peek of the sequel. If I hadn't broken my bank buying The Red Pyramid and a slew of other best-sellers at Barnes and Noble, I'd probably be out picking up SPELLS right now. As it is, I must force myself to wait.

If you have read either book, please feel free to join my monologue in the comments below! (No spoilers, please. Some of us haven't read SPELLS yet.)

Next Read: IF I STAY by Gayle Forman: "What would you do if you had to choose?"

Friday, May 21, 2010

Why My Baby is My Hero (and should be yours, too)

© Carbouval |

My baby is my hero.

He's got more going on than my current protagonist, who is fighting evil in his own family, and trying to gain control over his very sporadic powers.

You don't believe me?

Listen to this compilation of misery:

  • swollen gums 
  • sore mouth 
  • compulsion to chew on anything in sight
  • runny nose 
  • sore throat
  • mouth breathing vs. hunger (can't eat and breathe at the same time)
  • scratchy tissue paper assault courtesy of mom
  • exposed sensitive skin
  • poky toys
  • compulsion to grab things causing pain
  • thinks he's a toy
  • tries to carry him
  • steamrolls him
  • takes away his toys
  • poop; need I say more?
  • near-constant need for sleep

Okay, I'll stop there, but I'm sure he's feeling other things I can't put my finger on as an outside observer. The amazing thing is that he's laughing, and cruising along furniture as we speak. I'm pretty sure he's eating California right now (USA wooden puzzle). But he's happy.

It got me thinking about two things:

1. My baby is amazing! He's resilient. He's perky. He's way tougher than I'll ever be. I mean, I'm sick right now, and I'm being a total baby (obviously not) about it. He's just going on with his quest of learning to walk. And that's plain heroic.

2. The hero of my current WIP is weak sauce compared with Baby LJ. And I could learn something about characterization by looking at what an actual, real-life hero deals with on a daily basis. We are what we do, right? LJ is a hardcore survivor type. My protag is a sissy la la. Maybe if I gave him a few more external problems (big brother, teething, diapers) and a solid internal dilemma (compulsion to stick everything in his mouth), he'd make for a rounder, more developed character.

Food for thought, people. I'm off to make my fictional hero more like an 8-month-old. 

BIG NEWS for FALLEN fans! A Sneak Peek...

From beloved author Lauren Kate, comes a Sneak Peek at FALLEN's sequel: TORMENT.

Read 18 totally new pages HERE.

I'm hooked! I'm dying to know where the starshot comes back into play. Immortality has new rules in this sequel, and it's going to be an adventure to feel them out.

A blurb from the link above:

"Hell on earth.
That’s what it’s like for Luce to be apart from her
fallen angel boyfriend, Daniel. It took them an eternity
to find one another, yet now he tells her he must go
away. Just long enough to hunt down the Outcasts—
immortals who want to kill Luce. He hides her at
Shoreline,a school on the rocky California coast with
unusually gifted students: Nephilim, the offspring of
fallen angels and humans.

At Shoreline, Luce learns
what the Shadows are, and how she can use them as
windows on her previous lives. Yet the more Luce
learns, the more she realizes that Daniel hasn’t told her
everything. He’s hiding something—something dangerous.
What if Daniel’s version of the past isn’t actually true?
What if Luce is really meant to be with someone else?

The second novel in the
addictive FALLEN series . . . where

So there it is, people. The blurb to go with the all-out GORGEOUS cover that made me buy the first book in the series. *sigh* Now go pre-order it.

Read my review of FALLEN.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Ah, another great read! I thoroughly enjoyed this book: an honest look at the educational options available to children today, wrapped up in teenage drama, as it ought to be.

We've all read fiction with an agenda before, and I was prepared for this to be just that, based on the title. But I was wrong. Happily wrong.

The narrator's view of homeschooling is definitely biased, but the experiences the author throws at her make for a very well-rounded view of several different schooling options. THE HOMESCHOOL LIBERATION LEAGUE is the most honest fiction I have read in years. Enjoying a story without an agenda, as you all know, is a rare thing.

Katya's voice is delightful, and sometimes delightfully absurd. She's a teenager after my own heart, who loves to use her creativity. Whether it's planning a foraged-food feast of weed-salad and barberry wine, or just convincing her parents to let her stay home from school for the next year--she is up for the challenge!

There's adventure and angst and drama in this YA book, but there's also romance. It isn't Katya's first kiss that we're experiencing, but it is her first love. And who knew violin lessons could be so steamy?

Katya is thirteen, and Lucy Frank did a fabulous job making her voice match this volatile stage of life. She's emotional and excitable, but she's also more thoughtful than her parents or teachers give her credit for. Doesn't every teenager feel misunderstood this way?

I also enjoyed the catalog of changing friendships that often happens during middle school as teenagers discover who they naturally are and who they want to be. One of Katya's friends seems especially torn between playing "the game" and being herself, a question I think most adults can still relate to their lives.

But this is a book seeping with young adult spirit. I recommend it with five stars.

NEXT READ: Aprilynne Pike's WINGS
Join me next week to discuss this YA fantasy recommended by Stephenie Meyer, author of the TWILIGHT saga.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wordle Word Cloud Fun

Here's my middle grade novel, Drats! Foiled Again! summed up in a wordle blurb.

Wordle: Drats! Foiled Again!

Guess who the main character is. :-) I guess I'm saying his name quite often, so as not to confuse him with his evil twin. I love writing paranormal superhero stuff!

And here's this blog summed up in wordle, as well (in pink, of course):

Wordle: Katrina Lantz Novelist blog

Pretty easy to see my main topics here!

Alright. I'm off to butcher another brilliant idea in its execution! Wish me luck!

Blissful reading, and happy writing!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Doggerel: A poem about bad writing

I've written a thousand bad poems, and maybe a dozen real gems. Unfortunately, I can't find the good ones because I put them in the same place with the bad ones. They are lost.
Lost, lost, lost.

Here's a new one for you:


by Katrina Lantz

Show, don't tell,
Ms. Nelson said.
And then with ease
Will words be read.

Show, don't tell,
McDonnell chimed.
By now, I'm stumped.
"But why?" I mimed.

Show, don't tell,
The bloggers say.
But find your voice
And never stray.

Show, don't tell,
Editors cry.
And now I've stopped
My answering why's.

At last, it clicks.
I know the crux:
Show, don't tell
Means rambling sucks.


Oh, don't mention it. I'm always happy to provide you with a rhymey-slimy verse or two.
Got a 20-line poem to share? Do it in the comments below.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Next on my reading list/nightstand is The Homeschool Liberation League by Lucy Frank. This book came out last year, and I've been wanting to read it ever since I saw it in the window at Barnes and Noble.

"TO: Everyone I know
FROM: Nature Girl
guess what??? i wanted you to hear it from me first. do not look 4 me at school 2moro or anymore. im homeschooling. i will miss you all, but NOT the place.

details l8r.

-from the back cover

"KATYA just cannot go back to school, not after her summer at Wilderness Camp. There's no way her teachers would let her go on foraged-food-finding missions or eradicate invasive alien plants. Not to mention that she's been wondering about the mysterious violin-playing boy, Milo, who lives in her neighborhood but doesn't go to junior high. That's it, Katya needs to be homeschooled! 

Her parents are willing to give it a try, but Katya has to stick to their (just-like-school!) assignments. This isn't what she had in mind. She needs the help of Milo and new friend Francesca to come up with a plan to save her homeschooling experience. The three become the founding members of the Homeschool Liberation League--but will it be enough to convince Katya's parents that her ideas about learning might be just right for her?" -from cover flap

I've always been a homeschooler at heart (even though I went to a pretty decent public high school). I think it was junior high that convinced me school was inherently evil. I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one who thought so, either. I'm looking forward to seeing the principles of homeschooling immortalized in fiction. I just hope this book is not riddled with homeschool cliches and stereotypes.

If you're in between books yourself, please feel free to JOIN me, and when I post my review, we can have a delightful discussion.

Blissful Reading!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

FALLEN by Lauren Kate: my review

Over the weekend, I read Lauren Kate's FALLEN:

"There's something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price's attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at Sword & Cross boarding school in Savannah. He's the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are screwups, and security cameras watch every move.

Except Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce--he goes out of his way to make that very clear. But she can't let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to flame, Luce has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret...even if it kills her.

Dangerously exciting and darkly romantic, FALLEN is a page-turning thriller and the ultimate love story." -cover flap blurb

My reasons for ordering this book the moment I saw it were two-fold:

1) Somebody compared it to Twilight, which generally captures my attention.
2) The cover for its sequel, TORMENT, is absolutely gorgeous!!

What did I tell you? GORGEOUS!

So I ordered my copy of FALLEN and eagerly devoured it when it arrived the next day. Here are my thoughts:

It's not Twilight. It's really unfair to compare anything to Twilight, after all, much less something so entirely different. The only similarity is genre: paranormal romance.

FALLEN is written in third person from Luce's limited perspective. She's an unreliable narrator, being that she knows/remembers nothing helpful most of the time. But I prefer it this way, because I love finding out about a new world alongside my protagonist tour guide. Because the POV is third person rather than first person, it's lacking that intimate emotion and passion that made Twilight a midnight guilty pleasure. And that will be the last comparison I draw to Twilight...

Because FALLEN is beautiful for its own reasons:

  • The setting is perfect for its plot. I could really feel the grittiness, the austere sliminess, of Sword & Cross's unkempt grounds. A graveyard at a reform school?! Oddly genius!

  • The clues--this novel is craftily plotted right down to its minor characters. This reader got the feeling that nothing was insignificant, and it made for a compelling mystery.

  • The details lend a sense of reality to the otherwise unbelievable premise. Lauren Kate obviously did her research, and also has a knack for painting a picture: "A faded composite picture with the words PULASKI COUNTY MOOSE CLUB OFFICERS 1964-65 was the only other decoration on the wall, showcasing a hundred oval faces, smiling modestly above pastel bow ties."
One thing I hope to see in the sequel is a stronger Luce Price. From the former-life flashback in the beginning referencing "her contemptuous side", I got the impression I was dealing with a feisty heroine. I was quite disappointed in the following chapters to find her more docile than contemptuous as the hero rejects her time and time again for her own protection. Now that she understands her own importance, I hope TORMENT finds her fighting for love to conquer all.

Join our NEXT READ here.

Dreaming of rejection...

Last month, I was catching up on my favorite agent blogs when I came across a funny story about an aspiring author actually dreaming about her dream agent. I thought, You know you're in too deep when you're dreaming about agents offering representation.

Imagine my surprise when I woke this morning with a vague memory of this: I dreamed I stumbled into an agent in my apartment complex parking lot. Two other agents appeared next to her and they started commiserating over "these clumsy authors." lol. Come to find out, one of them lives two doors down in my building! (not true, btw, just a dream) My dream-self giddily plotted another accidental run-in to fix the terrible first impression.

Then my seven-month-old's crying woke me from bizzarro-world, thank goodness.

Even in my dreams, I'm working through rejection. The funny thing is that I'm not actually submitting right now. A fresh look at my work made me realize it needs extensive revision. That, and I'm knee-deep in a writing project I like better. So why am I dreaming of rejection? All I can think is that my brain is trying to process all the snarky and benevolent publishing advice I'm reading on the blogosphere.

I just hope tomorrow night's processing at least ends in an offer of representation.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Twitter, revisited

Some additional things you should know:

#yalitchat happens on Wednesday evenings, and is a LOT of fun with writers, agents, and readers. Just search #yalitchat and you'll see everything that's being discussed. If you want to talk to somebody so that everybody can see, use the "mention" or "reply" feature. If you want it to be private, DM (direct message) them instead. I find this particular chat to be fun and helpful, but there are other chats, too. Usually, you can find them via writer and industry blogs.

The great thing about joining a chat-in-progress is that there's a steady flow of conversation and ideas, and you have a chance to be witty and quippy. People usually add you as a friend if they appreciated your contribution.

As far as garnering followers, I'm still figuring this out myself. Joining a chat seems to be a great way. I also retweet things I especially enjoy, and often the person I quoted follows me back.

Twitter etiquette: never reply to a stranger or DM them just to give them your links--unless they asked for it. :-) It's a big turn-off, and I've unfollowed people because of it. There are plenty of opportunities to tweet your links without this, anyway. The people who do this usually don't get many long-term followers. If somebody mentions you or retweets you, it's nice (but not required) to thank them, either publicly or in a DM.

All along, you'll get "spam" followers--people who have nothing to do with you or your tweeting subject, but just want you to buy their products. Just ignore them, unless they're offensive. Then I block them. If you ignore them, they'll probably unfollow you, but you're better off without followers like that!

If someone follows you who does share your interests--FOLLOW THEM. They're more likely to take an interest in what you're saying when you reciprocate.

My favorite published authors and agents on twitter are the ones who are friendly. They respond to a question of mine, or ask questions of their followers. e.g. "Writers, what would you like to know about the publishing process?"

The best way to use twitter is to correlate it to your blog. Whenever you update a blog post, tweet it--that's the obvious one. But people are getting really creative with it, too. You can have a twitter contest. The author of Gimme a Call started a twitter revolution when she invited tweeps to write letters to their high school selves in 140 characters. My fave was "Dear High School Self- Put the tweezers down! #gimmeacall." By getting everyone to use her title as the hashtag, people were (sometimes inadvertently) advertising her book! Publishers have had contests to win free signed books. One asked people to write a rejection letter to an author in 140 characters. Just make sure you tell them a hashtag (#) to use so you can search the responses!

Lead a discussion using the hashtags, too. Talk about what you #amwriting (a popular hashtag). Or make up your own hashtag and invite readers from your facebook page, blog, and twitter to contribute to a groupthink.

Those are just some of the ways I'm seeing twitter used successfully.

Follow authors (we always follow back), agents, editors, publishers (they are coming to twitter in droves). When you are looking at somebody's profile, you can see their LISTS on the side of the page. Agents often make a list of their authors, so you can actually click "follow this list" and now you have access to all of their tweets. I've done this on some aspiring authors' profiles who had an AGENT list. It's really helped me to discover more agents, which will be good when I'm done with my WIP and ready to submit. You can create lists, public or private. I keep my family list private, but my "Book People" list is followed by a dozen other people.

Find me on twitter: @Katrinalantznov

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Interview: Devin O'Branagan about GLORY

Devin O'Branagan

I have the rare pleasure of introducing you all to a fabulous author and her newest book: Devin O'Branagan's GLORY is out at last! She's graciously agreed to give an interview so we can all get to know a little about her and her writing career.

"Seventeen year old Glory Templeton’s blood holds the cure for a deadly pandemic-plague and she embarks on a quest to save humanity. When evil forces conspire to stop her, three supernatural beings are assigned to be her guardians. Forbidden love, ancient secret societies, mysterious astronomical monuments, vampires, witches, angels and demons all contribute to the high adventure that tests the character of this remarkable young woman. The legend of Glory begins!'Twilight meets The DaVinci Code...'"

Hi Devin!

Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about your wonderful work!

Your novel, Glory, has been embraced by libraries and book groups alike. It is clearly a hit among fans. How did you come up with this idea,

Early last year I was just beginning to write the sequel to my comic chick-lit novel RED HOT PROPERTY, and I called my literary agent to ask if she had any suggestions for the book that would make it even more successful than the first one. She laughed and said, "Put a vampire in it." Then she stopped laughing and said, "Seriously, Devin, have you ever considered writing a vampire novel? Why don't you give it a try? " My first two novels published by Simon & Schuster were horror novels and so I had confidence I could handle the genre. Interestingly, a recent review of GLORY stated that it is a blend of both my previous genres: horror and chick-lit. And it is.

and what inspired your naming of Glory and her Australian Shepherd, Hallelujah?

RED HOT LIBERTY, the sequel to RED HOT PROPERTY, has a patriotic theme, and when I shifted gears from writing it to writing GLORY, I carried over that patriotic energy. I had been researching the lyrics to "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" prior to considering names for GLORY's heroine and her dog. ("Glory, glory, hallelujah!") As I developed the plot for GLORY, I became aware of the underlying spiritual theme of the book, and the names worked exceptionally well.

Is there a message in the novel that you hope your readers will take away from reading it?

Life isn't about us, but we are about life.

Glory grew up on a farm. Is that something from your personal experience? Where did you grow up?

I had a bohemian gypsy upbringing and there was never a place I called home. However, my grandparents had a farm in Michigan where my mother and I occasionally spent time between various adventures. I drew from that experience.

What inspired you to begin writing, and when did you realize this was your calling?

I was reading at three years old and wrote my first story at five. I was born to write.

Who is your favorite author? What is it about his or her work that you love? Is there one author you would consider your mentor?

I read anything and everything and everyone. I learn from every book I read, whether it is well-written or not.

What books are you reading now? Any new authors who have caught your interest?

Right now I'm reading non-fiction books related to conspiracy theories as research for RED HOT LIBERTY.

Though there are many fantastic elements in your story, there's also some stunning realism as far as details like the disease that has attacked her father, and almost everybody else. Was it difficult to maintain this balance between fantasy and real life?

No, it was easy. I personally believe that there is much more in heaven and earth than is dreamt of in my philosophy. For me, life is very much a blend of possible realities.

What was your favorite part to write?

The scenes featuring Hallelujah the intrepid demon-fighting Australian shepherd. She rocks!

The cover of Glory is compelling. Who designed it? Did you get to contribute to the decision?

An excellent graphic designer named Sue Campbell created the cover, and she did accept my input.

Can you tell us some of your latest news? Maybe share some of your current work in progress?

I am once again working on RED HOT LIBERTY, a comic chick-lit novel that is the second in the RED HOT series about the misadventures of plucky single mother, Molly O'Malley. Molly is a real estate agent whose newest client is Liberty True, a rebel patriot who invites Molly to a different kind of tea party and drags her, kicking and screaming, into the revolution. The website is
I am also beginning to develop the second installment of the GLORY series.

Did you learn anything from writing Glory and what was it?

I learned that writing in first person is much more difficult than I presumed it was. (GLORY was my first project written in first person.) I really struggled to find Glory's voice. It forced me to grow as a writer.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read, write, and persist.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I hope my books touch their hearts. It's why I do what I do!

Thank you for your time! Readers go to to pick up your copy! (Are signed copies still available? How would readers obtain these?)

Personally autographed copies of GLORY are available via the novel's website at
Autographed copies of all my available novels may be obtained via my author's website at

Readers, enjoy this book trailer for the novel, GLORY.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Plotting: The skeleton without which exquisite, fleshy prose sags.

I have to say a big THANK YOU to @KayCassidy for introducing me to the Hauge 6-point plot structure.

The other day on twitter, she mentioned that it changed her writing life. Now I have to confess, it is changing mine, as well! From my first attempts at writing (just butt in chair, pummel through writer's block) to my more recent (stream-of-conscious, first-person nanowrimo project), I've struggled through problems with plot. I always say I'm an idea girl. Coming up with what people call high concept ideas for novels is easy for me. I have about a dozen truly original, mostly fun concepts tucked away in raw synopsis form. But when it came to writing the high-stakes parts--rising action, climax, CONFLICT--I bumbled. Well I am bumbling no more!

Thanks to Kay Cassidy, author of The Cinderella Society, I can now plot just about any story that pops into my mind. Rather than sticking my fabulous ideas in a paragraph-length blurb, I've begun writing an entire synopsis/book proposal for each idea, based on the six-point plot structure. I number the elements on six notecards:

1. Setup

2. New Situation

3. Progress

4. Complications/Higher Stakes

5. Final Push

6. Aftermath

Then I force myself to adhere to these guidelines in creating a full, fleshed-out premise and plot. The size of a notecard makes brevity necessary, a great thing if you're outlining for a book proposal or one-page synopsis. Last, I transfer the six paragraphs (without numbering them) into a word document.


I have a synopsis, formerly one of the most difficult parts of the writing process, for me. Knowing that I have a full idea, complete with character names, conflicts, and resolution, makes writing the story a much more flowing process. It also takes a load of stress off, since I won't have to condense an entire novel into a synopsis after I've written it (you know, at that point where you think leaving minor characters and subplots out of the synopsis is a crime). If I get a request for a synopsis from an agent, I already have a document that merely needs fine-tuning before I send it out.

Having the synopsis already written does more than provide the crux of my proposal. It also helps me while I'm writing.

Writer's block is so much rarer now than when I began seriously writing two years ago. Knowing the story from beginning to end provides me with a framework, with guideposts that keep me from getting totally lost. I still have plenty of flexibility to change characters and subplots as so inspired, but if I accidentally write myself off the page and into Neverland, I can retrace my steps and get back on course.

Foiled again, no more. Now I must return to my plotting. Buwahahahahaha!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

POWERLESS by Matthew Cody: my review

UPDATE 5/26/10: This blog has been linked by KT Literary's BLOG and the AUTHOR HIMSELF! Everybody's talking about HOW EVIL IS TOO EVIL? What do you think?

Here's my original review:

I've never been much of a mystery reader, except for Mary Higgins Clark books in junior high, so I confess to being more gullible than most. All my friends said they "totally knew" the Sixth Sense secret before the end of the movie. I got to the end and was still baffled!

Still, I recognize a mystery artist when I see one--generally after the plot is explained at the end of the book/movie. That was the case with the book Powerless.

Matthew Cody is a mystery artist. From the point of view of the protagonist--an ordinary boy who loves Sherlock Holmes--the reader investigates the Case of the Missing Super Powers. At several points, I was sure I knew who the bad guy must be. But this book is twisty. You don't know what you don't know until the end, which is just plain masterful writing.

This tightly plotted mystery made me laugh and empathize. It even scared me a little. Well, the bad guy is pretty scary!

Things I loved:
  • That this story is told from the POV of a regular kid surrounded by superhero kids.
  • That the story of his grandma's cancer brings a dose of reality to the otherwise completely fantastic premise.
  • That Daniel is tough, but honest and sensitive--in other words, a great role model for kid readers.
  • That all the characters act like real people.
What I didn't love: the finality of the antagonist's actions. This does make it true to life (life's not fair, etc.), but it also left me feeling pretty down. This is one of those great debates in children's literature: should the bad guy be really and truly bad? After all, kids know there is good and evil in the world. Matthew Cody seems to side with C.S. Lewis:

"Let there be wicked kings and beheadings, battles and dungeons, giants and dragons, and let villains be soundly killed at the end of the book. Nothing will persuade me that this causes an ordinary child any kind or degree of fear beyond what it wants, and needs, to feel. For, of course, it wants to be a little frightened."

Myself, I sometimes believe this, and other times want fairy stories where no harm is permanent and it's all a good trick in the end.

Overall, a fantastic book, and one worth adding to your children's home library. It is certainly one I expect my boys to read time and time again.