Thursday, February 24, 2011

In preparation for the March Mystery Agent

Ready, Set... (photo nabbed from RWA-Australia site here)

First thing's first: The winner of A TOUCH MORTAL (the signed copy!!!) is posted over on Operation Awesome this morning. If you entered, be sure to stop by.

Also, we're spreading the deets of the March 1st Mystery Agent contest! Yes! Another very generous, very publishing savvy literary agent has agreed to grace our (humble?) blog for this wonderful contest. (For some reason, 'humble' feels off when describing a blog named Operation Awesome!) ;)

So here are the deets:

1) Entry limit: 75 entrants.

2) Pitch length: 140 characters. Think Tweet. Since we're talking 140 characters, Title and Genre don't have to be part of the pitch -- add them on to the comment somewhere.

3) Genres: YA (especially thriller, cyberpunk, horror, historical romance); MG; women's fiction; romance (especially with a strong, female heroine).

So get those tweet pitches ready for March 1st!!!! 

Again, that contest is going to launch March 1st at Operation Awesome. Can't wait to read your awesome tweet pitches!! 

P.S. How close are you to finished with your current WIP? I remain a few chapters shy of my target--restructuring plot and stuff. I may write a post in the near future entitled, 'Plot-What a Drag.' Keep your eyes peeled for that guaranteed gem. LOL.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Win a SIGNED copy of A TOUCH MORTAL at Operation Awesome

Michelle's giving away a signed copy of Leah Clifford's debut, A TOUCH MORTAL (links to Amazon).

Happy Book Birthday, Leah!

And Happy Giveaway to everyone else!

You can enter the contest at Operation Awesome.

Add it on goodreads

Eden didn't expect Az.
Not his saunter down the beach toward her. Not his unbelievable pick-up line. Not the instant, undeniable connection. And not his wings.
So long, happily-ever-after.
Now trapped between life and death, cursed to spread chaos with her every touch, Eden could be the key in the eternal struggle between heaven and hell. All because she gave her heart to one of the Fallen, an angel cast out of heaven.
She may lose everything she ever had. She may be betrayed by those she loves most. But Eden will not be a pawn in anyone else's game. Her heart is her own.
And that's only the beginning of the end.

Are you ready for Operation Awesome's March Mystery Agent contest?!! If not, you still have a week to get that twitter-length pitch ready. We'll post preferred genres soon. Meanwhile, get over to twitter and start practicing. Can you sum up your novel in one tweet? Contest launches March 1st. First 75 pitches will be accepted for consideration by the Mystery Agent. Can't wait to see your creativity in action!

Monday, February 21, 2011

NINE Winners and SUPERNATURALLY Cover Love!

It's MONDAY and I'm happy! Operation Awesome had over 100 entries in the Follower Love Month: Agent Query Critique CONTEST!!! We were overwhelmed with the awesomeness as you guys spread the word on twitter, facebook, and writing forums all over the web.

Nine lucky entrants won query or page critiques, two from our incredible participating agents, Natalie Fischer and Josh Getzler. These are two of the nicest agents with whom I've had the pleasure to correspond.  

And the winners are... over here!

The query I get to read is for YA Paranormal! I'm very excited about that, as that happens to be my favorite genre in the world.

And on to the COVER LOVE portion of today!

Have you seen this?

Life's never fair when faeries are involved.  Add it on GOODREADS

Stole my breath when I saw it on Kiersten White's super fun blog! Sigh. August 30th, you can't come fast enough!

It's the sequel to this...
So much for normal.

...which was hands down the most fun read of 2010!

If you haven't read it yet, run to your nearest indie or snatch it up on Actually, you can pre-order the sequel now, too!!

How are you all doing with your writing? Are the words flowing or are you plodding along like me?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Perfectionism and Writing

I'm a mess sometimes. Literally. Hair unbrushed from the night before, toys strewn about the floor because I'm too lazy to get the kids to clean them up. But beneath the messiness lies a perfectionist who decided a long time ago that if she couldn't have perfection, she would just embrace the chaos.

Wow. I just summed myself up in one paragraph. Yay me!

That perfectionist lives on inside, rearing her immaculate head during manuscript revisions, or when I write poetry, or when I'm about to have company. I owe her a lot, actually. I should thank her for the time she cleaned the whole house (okay, minus my bedroom) in preparation for my wonderful in-laws' visit. I should thank her a hundred times for all the cuts she made me make to my WIP when we were first starting out. She couldn't abide my narrator's voice. It just wasn't right, she kept telling me. I'm glad I listened, because my MC's voice is Goldilocks's dream right now: just right. Not perfect, of course. But it's tangible now.

I'm reminding myself how much I love this little perfectionist inside me because I wanted to wring her neck yesterday. She made me cut over 7,000 words near the end of my manuscript. I'm now faced with the delightful task of rewriting the climax. It just wasn't quite... right.

Maybe you think I should have finished the gulram story and revised later? Well, messy me agrees with you. But when it comes to my writing career, perfectionist me is the one you have to talk to. Sorry. Just the way it is.

It's good, though. A little perfectionism in the chaos could be just what Azalea and Gabriel need to save their worlds from evil.

All I know for certain is when I'm done with this book, I'll feel like I can walk on freaking water.

To help me out, I put together a Happy Writer Toolkit over at Operation Awesome today. Go check that out and tell me: What's in your happy writer toolkit?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Fake Boyfriend/Girlfriend Blogfest

 The Fake Boyfriend/Girlfriend Blogfest is here! Go sign up if you're just finding out about it! This is Amparo's first blogfest, so show her and your special crush some love for Valentine's Day!

Le rules: Choose between an author crush and a celebrity crush, then write them a love letter on your blog. It can be from your POV, or the POV of the main character in your WIP.

Le love letter:

On the Count of Three by Mapvee@deviantart

Dear Peeta Mellark,

If I were ten years younger...

And really good at archery...

With a secret talent for singing to the birds...

And a chance to prove my fierce family loyalty...

You would so be mine!

Read the other entries and join the linky here

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Follower Love Month!

Oh, and, umm, Happy Valentine's Day, too. ;)

Operation Awesome is celebrating 300 followers! It's quite a bit over that now, but hey, it takes time to organize a contest with AGENT QUERY CRITIQUES! Huge thank you to Natalie Fischer of Bradford Lit and Josh Getzler of Russell & Volkening, who both offered up a query critique as a prize. Add in the Operation Awesome ladies' contributions and we have nine prizes to give out! Skip over there to enter in the comments. (all links in this paragraph direct you to the contest post)

Since the prizes include query critiques, here's a little helper to get that query in shape. Most of you are way past needing this primer, so just skip straight to the bottom of the article and click the link to Elana Johnson's awesomely free e-book, From the Query to the Call!

And while I've got your attention... hee hee...

Don't forget to join Amparo for The Fake Boyfriend/Girlfriend BlogfestFebruary 15th is Official Fake Boyfriend/Girlfriend Day, so get over there and sign up today!

p.s. I hit 53K on my WIP last night! What's your progress?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Four-year-olds, coffee cake, and awesome middle grade books

My three-year-old just turned four years old. We let him pick his own cake at Costco and he chose...


Cinnamon coffee cake!

Random, right? It had this pretty drizzled frosting on top, which I think is why he chose it. But it just goes to show that you can't predict what kids will like.

If you are a parent of tweens or young teens, then you know the challenge of finding age-appropriate books that your kids actually want to read. Some kids, like the nine-year-old girl who seriously asked Robert Pattinson to please bite her, seem to jump straight from Fancy Nancy to Twilight, missing middle grade altogether. And when I hear about my twelve-year-old niece reading The Hunger Games, it makes me wonder:

What happened to Harry Potter?

What happened to Percy Jackson?

The Mysterious Benedict Society?

The Name of This Book is Secret?

The Fairy Tale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm)?

I'm sure you can name several other middle grade gems from this decade. If not, I highly recommend you check out From the Mixed-up Files of Middle-Grade Authors!! They have links for parents on how to get your kids to read, awesome book lists nicely categorized for easy searching, and the latest middle grade news and book releases.

It's an amazing gift to be able to share the joy of reading with our kids. There isn't a single age-group that literature misses from picture books to early readers to middle grade to young adult. And there is something your kids will love. It's just a matter of knowing where to look, letting them choose from age-appropriate options (your discretion, of course), and, yep, trial and error.

My four-year-old son might like the cinnamon coffee cake he picked. He might not. But once we cut that cake today, we'll find out. And if he hates it? There's always ice cream.

Have you read any amazing middle grade lately? (We're loving some Mysterious Benedict Society.) Any of my writer friends working on a middle grade idea? (I've always wanted to write a fairy tale adaptation of Snow White or Beauty and the Beast.)

p.s. We're giving away a pre-order of BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY over at Operation Awesome today! Not middle grade. It's historical YA, and the video trailer on made me cry.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Abandonment Issues

"Books are never finished, they are merely abandoned." Oscar Wilde

Is a book ever really finished? Is an author ever truly pleased with her own work?

I'm at the end of my fifth book, so I wonder. I mean, I still love/hate my other four books. They're awesome/crap and I'll never forget them. But I have moved on. I have to. 

I'm a writer. Writers write, right? Or else they're not really writers. They're just thinkers. But it's kind of depressing to imagine finishing this WIP, revising it, and then letting it rot on a hard drive somewhere (as if I don't know exactly which hard drive it would be rotting on!). 

Is it naive to believe every time that this will be the book? I mean, at some point, it IS the book! 

Ask Beth Revis! Or Kiersten White. Or Elana Johnson. I could go on naming my favorite writers who became published authors after years and forgotten manuscripts built from hard work and perseverance. But I'll let you fill in the blanks with your favorite authors. 

________ made it after ten years of writing and rejection.

________ almost gave up, but good friends and writing partners wouldn't let him.

________ changed my life with her one and only book. 

Yes, I have abandoned more books than most people ever write. Maybe you have, too. But believe this (repeat it if you're alone): Someday a book by me will be finished by the hardcover binding that's more satisfying than typing THE END.

And real people who have never met me will pick it up and read it. 

And I will be pleased with it, even though it will never be perfect.

Because it will be a piece of me shared with the world. 

When do you feel your work is finished on a particular book or project? Is publication the end? Or do you feel satisfied just in finishing your final round of revisions?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Dreams and Bestsellers

I have weird dreams. I'm not worried. As far as I know, all of you have weird dreams, too. Which makes weird normal, in this case. Last week I dreamed about being part of a literary agent team. It was awesome. My kids were in the dream, of course, because any dream where I go back into the workforce would have to take them into account. I left them happily with a caregiver and went to an exciting meeting with a group of other literary agents. We had a book we couldn't wait to sell.

It was an awesome dream.

The next night, I dreamed about Alan Tudyk, or as I know him from recently finishing Joss Whedon's DOLLHOUSE, Alpha. But in my dream, Alpha wasn't scary at all. He was just a little crazy and sad. My dream character (because it definitely wasn't me) found herself fighting against some invisible organization that wanted us all dead. My partner in crime was some tall brown-haired guy I've never seen in my life. I'm going to assume he represented my husband (tall, dark-haired, and handsome). :)

Being a writer, I woke from each dream with book ideas. Maybe this happens to you, too.

You just can't ignore a dream that could give you THE IDEA, like Stephenie Meyer and her sparkling vampire dream about why Edward wanted to eat Bella but just plain couldn't.

So I woke up and scribbled out an outline in chapter titles and 2,000 words of intro. Good idea? Probably not, considering I'm only 15-20k away from finishing my current work in progress (or maybe I should say I'm all of 15-20k away). Sometimes it seems I'll be done with this book tomorrow. Other days, it seems I could take another whole month.

But the dream was so shiny and fresh, I just had to record the feel of it!

What do you think? Odds of your dreams becoming bestsellers? How often do dreams derail your WIP progress?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Linky Thursday: Writerly Links for Today

A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. -Thomas Mann

That quote comforts me. Oddly. I wrote 3k words last night and a good bit of the climax. Still a long way to go, but it feels good to make progress on a story that's been twisting me in knots since its inception.

What are you working on?

*dramatic movie guy voice* Now for the Linky Thursday links:

Michelle McLean just wrapped up a very successful blog tour for Homework Helpers: Essays and Term Papers

There's a grand prize winner announcement on her blog today.

On the Query Tracker blog, she's written about the similarities between fiction and non-fiction and how each must have a point with evidence to back it up.

Also, she's leading a discussion on Operation Awesome about Likable and Unlikable Characters.

Amparo Ortiz is throwing a blogfest on February 15th! Sign up at her linky and join The Fake Boyfriend/Girlfriend Blogfest!

Literary agent Weronika Janczuk posted earlier this week about a web site being published as a book in the near future! Check out WHEN PARENTS TEXT and laugh till you cry.

Hankering to win a true writing contest? Here's a list of poetry and short story contests from

There's still time to enter to win the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. They've created forums for writers to commiserate, I mean to chat. Check it out.

In the mood to write some flash fiction about MONSTERS? Me, too! always has a writing challenge going on where writers post and give each other feedback. It's a great community. Can you describe a compelling monster in 400 words?

Enjoy the links, my friends! Thursday is a beacon of hope in a long week. It means Friday is just around the corner!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mystery Agent Contest Today! Update: CLOSED! Thanks, everyone!

Have a completed MG or YA novel? Whip up a 25-words-or-FEWER pitch about your book and post it in the comments on the OFFICIAL CONTEST POST. Winner gets a FULL manuscript request from our Mystery Agent, who is truly amazing!

Fifty entries will be accepted. I'll keep the remaining spots updated in this post's title.

Good luck, everyone! I hope you win!