Friday, January 29, 2010

Where I Am...

Hey Guys!

As you probably know (because I've been whining/stressing all week. Okay, two weeks. All right--a month! Whatever!) I'm not here right now.

I'm at the San Diego State University Annual Writer's Conference!

So...if you need me, I won't be here because I will be...

-at a Conference where I don't know ANYONE
-pitching my project to agents and hoping they don't tell me that it sounds like Suckfest 2010
-getting my first 10 pages ripped into by an editor
-not eating
-not sleeping
-have I mentioned that I will be ALL ALONE IN SAN DIEGO FOR THREE DAYS??????

*Panic Attack*

(Even Roget Vito Messenger isn't calming the panic--though he is packed and ready to go and looking VERY handsome, if I do say so myself)

*bites nails*

But really, in all seriousness, I AM nervous--but I'm also SO excited!!!!!!!

Not because I'm expecting to land an agent or get an awesome critique on my pages or get requests for my WIP (though I certainly wouldn't complain...). But because I can't wait to meet some new writer friends, meet agents in person (and hopefully discover that they aren't nearly as terrifying as they seem), and hopefully learn a bit more about writing/publishing.

Whatever happens--whether it be Shannon Shame or Shannon Success or anything in between (believe me, there's plenty of opportunity for both)--I promise a full update next week!

And if you want a glimpse of the schedule I'll be enjoying/stressing about, here's a link to the conference website.

See you guys next week!

And, for your viewing pleasure, here's how I hope my pitch will NOT go...
(if you follow Colleen Lindsay on Twitter you may have already seen it, since that's how I found it)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Who Wants to See a Were-Platypus Cupcake?

I do! I do!

Okay, I am SOOOO going to get in trouble for this...but I just can't help myself.

Not sure how many of you follow the fabulous C.J. Redwine, but she has a little poll going on at her blog that I want you guys to help me with.

See, she made the mistake of letting her followers suggest cupcake designs (classic mistake, I mean really, WHAT was she thinking?) and of course she got some rather interesting suggestions--some of which came from me (somehow I don't think you guys are surprised by that)

To be fair, all I suggested was 'platypus,' because I personally feel that the platypus is a highly under appreciated mammal--especially in baked goods. I mean, have any of you ever seen a platypus cake? I think not. So I thought it was high time we did!

And because I'm not her only evil follower, someone decided that it needed to be a Were-Platypus (which is AWESOME!) and C.J. foolishly decided to include it in her poll, thinking it would be a joke.
(Poor girl, will she never learn?)

Naturally it's winning by a landslide!

So of course C.J. is trying to rally with blog posts and Twitter campaigns and all kinds of other shenanigans to stall the Were-Platypus vote.

And that's just cheating! So I'm running a counter campaign (and praying that this won't turn into another blog war. C.J. would destroy me. She has a Spork of Doom and she's NOT afraid to use it.)

So please, if you love me at all--or just like me a little--or just want to see what a Were Platypus cupcake would look like, hop on over to C.J.'s blog and vote for Wally.

Yes, he has a name.

In fact, C.J. gave him a whole profile
(somehow she thought this would make him less popular, silly girl)

Name: Wally the Were-Platypus
Occupation: Fighting underwater crime
Hobbies: Eating sushi, listening to show tunes, and polishing his bill
Special Attributes: He can turn into a duck-billed, web-footed platypus at the drop of a hat. Or when he wants to show off for the women's' swim team.

Come on people, let's make this happen!
Wally the Were-Platypus FTW!!!!!!
*runs and hides from C.J. and her Ninja Spork of Doom*

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fashion Emergency!!!!!

Okay, I'm trying to pack for the San Diego State University Writer's Conference this weekend and OMG--I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO WEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Heh. I'm sure my male followers are going to LOVE this post!)

Here's what the Conference Website recommends for wardrobe decisions:

What should I wear?
Room temperatures vary from room to room. We suggest you dress in layers. Most people are not in suits and ties or high heels and dresses, but generally they look casually professional.

Casually professional? What does that mean??????????

I mean, this is Cali. We wear flip flops with pants. Pink Uggs are perfectly normal--even paired with a dress. And we count dark jeans as 'dressy' (no really, go to any trendy spot on a Saturday Night and dark jeans will rule supreme!)

So I'm BEGGING you for your advice.

Is a black and white sweater dress with flat boots too dressy? Are well cut, dark jeans and a blouse too casual? What about a plain black skirt and black flats with a blouse? Or must I resign myself to my "safe" clothes: Black slacks, cardigans, and conservative heels? (ZzzzzzzZzzzzzzZ)

Help me people--otherwise I'm going to pack my entire closet, and I REALLY don't want to do that.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Another Landmark Reached!

Okay. It's one thirty in the morning and my eyes are blurry because I've been writing and editing pretty much since seven in the morning yesterday (I don't even want to THINK about how many hours that is) but I did it. I finished my major ending re-write (which was basically a last 1/3 of the book re-write) and finally typed the two words I hadn't let myself type all last year because they felt premature. The two little words that may be my favorite thing I've ever written.

The End.

I think that calls for some happy dancing, don't you?

So how about:

And of course, I HAVE to include the Dance of Joy again

Now, sadly this doesn't mean I'm ready to enter query wars. My draft is still too long and I'm sure there's more plot holes or things I need to clarify so I'm fully expecting at least one more round of edits (or maybe two. MAN I hope it's not two.)

But at least I feel like I've taken this story as far as I can currently take it, and I'm ready to send it to my intrepid CP's so they can rip it apart and let me know what I did wrong. So keep an eye out for it guys--it's heading your way in a few hours (once I proofread the ending in the morning. Not sure I trust my eyes anymore tonight)

And hopefully once I'm done fixing everything they catch I'll FINALLY be ready to query. So maybe another month--two at the latest. Which is both exciting and terrifying! Ahhhhhhh!!!!!!!

Alright. I'm officially beat so I'm not even going to proofread this (apologies for any typos) and wish me luck guys because tomorrow (or wait, I think it's today. AHHHHH!!!!!) I tackle an even bigger beast: the dreaded synopsis.

Friday, January 22, 2010

You Might be a Writer if...

I'm sure I'm not the first one to do this, but I couldn't resist giving it a try. the style of Jeff Foxworthy, I humbly present:

You might be a writer if...

- You own multiple baby name books, even though you have no children

- You think it's perfectly acceptable to eavesdrop and record strangers conversations for 'dialogue research'

- You can't imagine life without a laptop

- You have notebooks and pens hidden in your house, car, purse/wallet and still have to scribble things on a napkin half the time

- Waking up in the middle of the night to write down a dream is a common occurrence.

- You are not bothered at all by having 'followers.' In fact, you seek them out and are constantly checking to see how many little pictures are on your blog or Twitter

- You could spend all day in a bookstore and still not be ready to leave

- Your first thought when you heard about Oprah retiring was, "what will happen to her book club?"

- You refer to people as 'Alphas' and 'Betas' even though you're not greek or in a Fraternity or Sorority

- You know what WIP and CP stand for

- You've ever considered making a deal with the universe

- You hear voices in your head and they don't scare you. In fact, you listen to them.

...and finally...

- You've ever practiced your signature for book signings
 (c'mon, you KNOW you've done it)


Did I miss any?
If you can think of one leave it in the comments, I'd love to read it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

For Your Viewing Pleasure!

In case you missed my post yesterday, I'm in in full Shannon-Panic-Mode right now as I try to get my pitch and synopsis ready for the Writer's Conference I'm attending next weekend (and for those who asked, it's the SDSU Writer's Conference in San Diego). So I don't have a lot of time for blogging and blog hopping and commenting and tweeting and all the other ways I procrastinate hang out with you guys online.

But since I can't stand the idea of disappearing completely, I will be throwing together a quick post every day to keep you entertained while I'm busy writing stressing. And I figured there's really no better way to do that than with some awesome YouTube clips (and no, sadly I do not mean the Game Show clip that is part of my deal with the Universe--you'll have to keep waiting for that!)


(oh, and I know I'm not replying to comments, but please don't stop leaving them. You have no idea how much I love reading them)

Today's theme: music!

First up: Another awesome Johnny Depp/Pirates of the Caribbean song and dance.

Next: Christopher Walken reads Lady GaGa's Poker Face
(need I say more?)

And finally: What the heck is this?!?!?!?!?!?!?
(and thanks Sarah for introducing me to this monstrosity in a #youtubewar)

See you guys tomorrow for some more hilarity courtesy of YouTube!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Trying Not To Panic

So...I don't know if you guys know this, but I'm going to a writer's conference in 10 days.


And I know there's no law that says my draft must be 100% done and ready to go before the Conference (which is good because it isn't) but I still have a LOT of work to do. I have to write my synopsis for my Consultation Appointments and practice my pitch and iron my clothes and pack and--okay, I'm going to stop listing things because it's FREAKING ME OUT!!!

So--fair warning--you may not see as much of me these next few days. I'll be around, and I promise I will still post something everyday, but they won't be up to my usual high standards. (And I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to postpone the USC Lessons until after the conference--those take WAY more time than I have available.)

Thanks for your patience. I promise I will still do my best to keep you all entertained and things will be back to normal after the Conference.

Okay...diving back into editing. Wish me luck people. I'm gonna need it!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lyric Fails

For the last day of Lisa Schroeder week I thought we'd look at songs--since they're basically verse set to music, and I happen to know that music plays an integral role in Lisa's writing process (and mine).

But since music taste is subjective, and listing a bunch of song lyrics could be pretty boring--especially if you guys aren't familiar with the melodies--I thought instead we'd explore a rather bizarre and upsetting phenomena: When Bad Lyrics Happen to Good Bands

You all know what I'm talking about. You're listening to your favorite band, following the words and melody to a state of pure, unadulterated bliss, when something pulls you out, makes you sit up and think, "What?" You back the song up, hoping you heard it wrong. But no. It's even worse than you thought, and you want to call the band up and ask them why, WHY did they do it? How could they ruin such an amazing song with such a random or weird lyric?

What you're experiencing my friends, is a lyric fail (or #lyricfail, for you Twitter afficianados)

And here--in my opinion at least--are a few of the greatest offenders.

Dashboard Confessional
Sure, sometimes they're too Emo--even for me--and if I listen to too many of their songs in a row I could sink into severe depression and never come out. But in small doses their music is amazing. All except:

(from Screaming Infidelities)
"Your hair, it's everywhere
Screaming infidelities, and taking it's wear"

Um...what? That doesn't even make sense!

And if that wasn't bad enough, here's the chorus:
As for now I'm gonna hear the saddest songs and sit alone and wonder
How you're making out.
And as for me I wish that I was anywhere with anyone
Making out.

I have no words.
But the judges say: #lyricfail

Next up: Taking Back Sunday
Yes, they're Screamo. But I'm not ashamed to say I love them and they are amazing live. And yet...

(from MakeDamnSure)
My inarticulate store-bought hangover Hobby Kit it talks
And it says, 'you, oh, you are so cool.'

What is an inarticulate store-bought hangover hobby kit, why does it talk and why would it say "you, oh, you are so cool"?
I still love the song, but that definitely earns them a MAJOR #lyricfail

Last--and worst of all: Shakira
I'll admit, she has some funky lyrics in her songs. But nothing tops this:

(from Whenever, Wherever)
"Lucky that my breasts are small and humble so you don't confuse them with mountains"

Yes, you read that right. OMG-WHY WOULD ANYONE SING THAT?
Definitely #lyricfail
(Heh, I'm giggling right now because that's EXACTLY what Frankie has to do when her book sells. Crazy girl and her crazy deals with the universe. )

Okay, those are the best ones I could remember off the top of my head (editing is not helping my brain function). Can anyone else think of any others I've missed? If so, post them in the comments. I'd LOVE to read them.

And, as a reminder, you only have until 11:59 pm tomorrow (Sunday) night to enter to win all three Lisa Scroeder books. So hop on over there and enter if you haven't already. Contest winner will be posted Monday. Good luck!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Book Review: Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder

I'll be honest. I don't do book reviews.

Maybe it's because of Film School, where we were NEVER allowed to turn our papers into reviews. Or maybe it's because I'm not big on criticizing someone's art--especially in public--so I can't imagine ever giving a negative review (which then kind of negates the purpose of doing a review). Either way, I usually prefer to do book recommendations and just rave about something I love. So I was more than a little nervous when I realized I would need to do an actual review of Chasing Brooklyn when I organized Lisa Schroeder week--especially since I hadn't read the book when I was putting everything together.

But when I got my hands on Chasing Brooklyn a few weeks ago I realized I had nothing to worry about. Only glowing, five star reviews here. So now the only challenge is figuring out a how to talk about what makes it so wonderful in a way that does it justice. It's kind of a stretch for me. Silly I can do. Intelligent is a WHOLE other ballgame.

Never-the-less, here goes:

Here's what the publisher says about Chasing Brooklyn:

Restless souls and empty hearts

Brooklyn can't sleep. Her boyfriend, Lucca, died only a year ago, and now her friend Gabe has just died of an overdose. Every time she closes her eyes, Gabe's ghost is there waiting for her. She has no idea what he wants or why it isn't Lucca visiting her dreams.

Nico can't stop. He's always running, trying to escape the pain of losing his brother, Lucca. But when Lucca's ghost begins leaving messages, telling Nico to help Brooklyn, emotions come crashing to the surface.

As the nightmares escalate and the messages become relentless, Nico reaches out to Brooklyn. But neither of them can admit that they're being haunted. Until they learn to let each other in, not one soul will be able to rest.

I would add that it's a verse novel,  a dual narrative, and while it is Lisa's gift to fans of I Heart You, You Haunt Me, it's not a sequel, and definitely stands alone. There's loss. There's love. And above all else: there's hope. It's also my favorite book she's written thus far.

What I love about all of Lisa's books is that she has a way of making me like things I normally wouldn't. I'm not really a big verse novel person. Nor am I into ghost stories. And I'm generally not a fan of anything that makes me cry. But I adore her books. I would love to figure out how she does that, but it remains a mystery. Maybe she has magic powers I don't know about.

Somehow she manages to make me forget that I'm reading poems instead of paragraphs. In fact, I think this story would lose its power if it were written traditionally. The verse feels so intimate--like diary entries--that you really connect with the characters on another level.  And while the format makes for a quick read (my first time through only took a couple hours) I would strongly encourage anyone to read slower (or to read it twice) because there are subtleties woven through the words that are too easily lost while speed reading.

Bottom line: It's a wonderful story to sip and savor--not gulp--and I highly recommend it for anyone who loves touching stories about living with loss and finding a reason to keep going.*

I won't say anymore because I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but I'd love to know what you think of any of that, so I'm willing to bribe you. I'll give one extra contest entry to anyone who leaves me a comment about this post (just make sure you give me the name you entered the contest under so I can add it accordingly) And if you're not entering the contest I'd still love to hear from you, and I'd love to know if any of you plan on reading Chasing Brooklyn (not because of my review, just because it is awesome) :)

Oh, and time is running out to enter the Lisa Schroeder Contest. Remember, I'm not only giving away a three book prize pack (one of which is signed). I'm giving a the second prize winner a copy of Chaing Brooklyn too! So if you haven't entered yet, you might want to get on that.

Thanks for reading!

*And to fulfill the FTC's requirements, yes, I was given a free copy of Chasing Brooklyn for hosting a day of the blog tour. But I also bought my own copy and I'm giving the free one away so it did not affect my opinion in the slightest. 

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How Poetry SHOULD be done!

Lisa Schroeder week continues with our celebration of poetry--and today, we have the good stuff! I promise, you won't have to read more of my horrible poems. (*sigh of relief*) It's ALL you guys.

Some of you emailed me poems to post, and some of you will be linking to posts on your blogs. But first, Lisa Schroeder selected one of her favorite passages for me to include (and since it's her week, I figure she should probably go first)

This is from Far From You

autumn perfection

the air was cool
and crisp,
the way you want your sheets
when it's blistering

We walked to the park
and ran through the leaves,
picking them up
and throwing them at each other,
as if they were snowballs.

Instead of loud splats
we got quiet flutters
of crimson and amber.

He pulled me to him,
spun me around,
and we fell
into a bed of foliage
fit for a king.

I wanted to freeze
the moment
in my mind
because there's nothing better
than flutters
of the heart.

*sigh* She is one talented lady. 

Okay. Now it's your turn!

(And sorry, blogger is being weird about fonts so some of the poems that follow will be different sizes. I tried a zillion ways to fix it and it would NOT cooperate *shakes fist at technology*)

First, a beautiful contribution from the amazingly awesome Q.


To watch you
where I have not--
and anything I could say
is wrong on every level,
hollow and insincere,
even when sincerely meant--
it would only cheapen your pain.

And I cannot help but be happy,
because I have not your
to be unhappy.

With every piece,
(broken for you)
crashing to the ground
entrapped in my silence,
my heart
and cries, "Unfair!"
though my head knows
it is not so.

You refuse to speak;
I hide behind my best defense,


And from Heather Zundel--our resident Superhero and poet extraordinaire we have:


When you see the sky start to darken,
hear the low rumble of thunder rolling in
like a growling, a rising and falling of breath
that swells, charges the air until it is
tangible, prickling your skin even if you
cannot tell it for what it is;
something happens then, as you feel
the first drop of rain break and
shatter against your skin, something
unconscious and miraculous and
simple all at once, like becoming
a child again, if just for that moment,
you open your eyes and see the world
for what it truly is --- perfection.

Last up, three beautiful haikus from the lovely and talented Myrna Foster:

The Wasp

The metallic wasp
flickers blue in the sunlight
and works undisturbed.

The Storm

A herd of horses
turns their faces from the wind.
Rain pelts their behinds.

Sunset in the Desert

Roadrunner running
long and gray over the rocks.
Shadows grow longer.

Okay, those are all the poems that were emailed to me (I hope--I checked a few times to make sure, but if I missed yours let me know and I will add it A.S.A.P.)

And for the rest of you, I'm really hoping you'll post a poem on your blog today and use this lovely little Mr. Linky Widget to lead everyone to them. It can be something you're proud of or something you wrote as a kid and can't stop giggling when you reread--it's up to you! I'm sure everyone would love to read them. (And remember, everyone who participates will receive 2 extra entries in the contest  to win all three wonderful Lisa Schroeder books) Here's the Mr. Linky. I hope some of you sign up and I hope the rest of you check out the links--some amazing talent is sure to be revealed!

(And tune in tomorrow for my review of Chasing Brooklyn and one more chance for extra entires in the contest!)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I am NOT a Poet!

I know it's Wednesday, which is supposed to be USC Lesson day, but things are a little different today because it's LISA SCHROEDER WEEK (and I can't bring myself to dole out writing advice when such an amazing writer is hovering around.) Next week we'll be back to normal, and to make it up to you, I offer instead a heaping helping of your favorite: Shannon Shame. (dun dun dunnnnnnnnn)

But before we begin, I must take a second to say that if you are late to the party, there is still time to enter to win all three wonderful Lisa Schroeder books so you might want to get on that. :) Also, if you missed her fabulous interview yesterday (and when I say fabulous, I mean her ANSWERS were fabulous--not my questions) I highly recommend you check it out, especially since there's a way to get an extra entry in the contest.

Okay--enough of that update-y stuff.

Today, we're talking about poetry!


Well, because Lisa Schroeder is an AMAZING verse novelist, so it seemed appropriate.

Only problem?

I SUCK at poetry.

We're talking really, REALLY bad.
(but we'll get to that in a minute)

First I wanted to remind everyone who was kind enough to offer their poetic talent last week that it is time to make good on that promise! Today I'm posting my horrible atrocities. And tomorrow will be "how poetry SHOULD be done." (Pssst! That's where you guys come in.) Some of you have emailed me poetry to post (and if you still want to do that--it's not too late! Send it today and I will add it to the post). Others of you will be posting poems on your own blogs and I will be linking everyone to them (at least, I think you are. I hope you are. What if no one does? Ah!!!!!)

If you are posting a poem tomorrow, make sure you stop by tomorrow's post and add yourself to the Mr. Linky Widget I will be providing so that other people can find you.

And since I'm REALLY worried that this is going to be a party no one attends, I'm prepared to bribe you with two (2) extra entries in the contest for everyone who participates (whether it be by emailing me a poem or linking through Mr. Linky.) And even if you're not entering the contest, please, help a girl out. I need poetry and I'm not above begging!

Okay, I think that covers what will be happening tomorrow pretty well, but if you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments.

And terrible poems...


Both of these are from 8th grade, so I was either 12 or 13 when I wrote them.
And they're BAD.
(And I have a horrible feeling they're going to somehow show up in future blog war dares.)

But it's either post these or try to write something new, so here you go.
My wonderful attempts at poetry:

I used to be a tiny bug flying through the air
But now I am a buzzing thing, stuck in someone's hair

I used to be a tiny bug, as black as a pit of tar
But now I am a sticky splat on the windshield of a car

I used to be a tiny bug with wings of sparkling blue
But now I am a gooey glob on the bottom of a shoe

I used to be a tiny bug, perched on a glass of water
But now I am an oozing mess, stuck on a flyswatter

Okay, so apparently I was kind of a sadistic little kid. I mean, first I kill off Tarzano in Earth Had a Snack without a second thought, and now I write a whole poem about death and dismemberment of insects--written in the first person no less! Seriously, I'm kind of scared of myself now.

But sadly, that's not the worst one.

For some reason--which I cannot remember--I decided to retell The Little Mermaid as a poem (the Disney-ized version) and twist the ending. (What kid does that? Why was I so weird?!?!?!?) You'll see what I mean as you read (and warning, this one's a long one.) You'll also see some 28-year-old-Shannon commentary in blue.

(*sighs* Why am I doing this? WHY?)

The Little Mermaid
Once upon a time, deep beneath the sea
There was a little mermaid who wanted to be
A human who walked with two legs on the land
Out in the sun, running on sand
But this wasn't to be, for legs she had not
But instead a tail was what she had got
And a father whose rules were so unfair
That she always felt like tearing out her hair
Her only refuge was an undersea cave
Filled with things she collected from sunken ships graves
And she had a seagull friend who lived on the ground
That she asked questions about the objects she found
When her daddy found out he was really mad
So he decided to do something to make her sad
He took his rod and destroyed her cave
He felt that this would make her behave
But daddio (yes, I actually used that word) was very wrong
His lovely daughter was very strong
She lashed her tail and with a sniff
Rushed to the cave of the great sea witch
Now the sea witch, she was really mean
But she knew how to use her bean (I am loathing myself right now)
She made people believe her spells were for good
And got people to buy them anyway she could
Ariel was a princess, her father was the King
Now Ursula thought to herself this must be worth something
If I could get the princess tightly in my hands
Then I could get her father, and that would be truly grand (*sighs*)
So she made Ariel a deal that she could not resist
To have three days to be human so that she'd get her wish
If she could find someone to love her in the allotted time
Then she will be human forever, if not her life is mine (huh?)
Ariel agreed and signed the scroll
But she didn't know there was a toll
The price was told after Ariel made her choice
But then she found out that the price was her voice
But it was too late to go back on the deal
There was no sense in making an appeal
So the spell was cast and her voice was taken
And she swam to the shore not too badly shaken
As soon as her mind cleared she opened her eyes
And looked around and found a surprise
A handsome prince was admiring her
He saw a wonderful smile and beauty that was pure
He asked her her name, and when she hadn't replied
He said, "that's okay, I like the silent kind" (um...that doesn't rhyme!)
So they fell in love. (gee, that was easy!) That's right, no joke
And just like that the spell was broke
And so she spoke with an eager reply
"My name is Ariel, I'd like to say Hi" (my dialogue skills needed some help!)
To this the prince got out of his seat
"A silent girl was what I wanted to meet
I thought you were mute but now you are not
So I do not love you, even though you're hot!" (I REALLY wrote that. *facepalm*)
Ariel was aghast. She didn't know what to do.
So she rushed from the room and cried "boo hoo" (*facepalm* again)
After a while she stopped and looked up and saw a gentle, smiling face
"I'm not a prince but I think you're swell (yes, swell! Gah!) and I'd like to take his place"
"What, are you kidding? Not marry a prince? Is what you're saying true?
Can't you see, it's crystal clear, I'm way too good for you!" (*headdesk*)
So off she went with her nose in the air trying hard to suppress laughter
I wrote this poem to let you know, everything's not Happily Ever After.

I have no words.... 

And I apologize in advance if you have to sit through a movie version of The Little Mermaid-a-la-12-year-old-Shannon (I'm watching you Frankie! I see that evil smile! And I will buy you white shorts and make you wear them!) because I think this might be worse than Earth Had a Snack.

Okay, I think that's enough Shannon Shame for today. If you need me, I'll be in hiding. But please, PLEASE consider helping me out with poems tomorrow (you can see now why I need your help!) And tune in tomorrow for hopefully some worthy poetry. :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Interview with YA author Lisa Schroeder

She's here! She's here! She's finally here! The amazing and talented Lisa Schroeder is here today to talk with us about her books and writing secrets! 


*Deep breath*
Okay, I'm blowing it. I'm supposed to be professional and dignified. 
I can do this! 
*Clears throat* 

*Straightens up to a more intelligent-looking posture*

Thank you so much for stopping by today Lisa--you have no idea how honored I am that you would grace my silly little blog with a visit--especially since I know how hectic your life is. I'm always SO amazed when you talk about your busy schedule. What are your secrets for juggling a job, a family, guitar lessons AND writing amazing books. Do you get more hours in the day than the rest of us?
I wish I got more hours in the day! Actually, big changes are coming in 2010. I've resigned from the day job to focus on the writing for awhile. I'm equally excited and terrified, because it's a HUGE leap. But I'm hoping a net will appear as I take that leap. For the past five years, I've worked in the HR department of a large teaching hospital, and have had to squeeze the writing in on the side, getting up early in the mornings and putting in long hours on the weekends. I figure I'll give myself a year, and I will probably have to get a half-time job at some point, but it's going to be nice to have a break from working alongside the writing for a little while.
What I tell other writers who are struggling with the time issue, because I totally understand, is that when there's a will, there's a way. When I was in the middle of a first draft, I'd make myself open the document every day and at least write 100 words. I mean, that's like what, 10 minutes of work? I think half the time, the battle is just opening the document and diving back in. Once you do that and get going, it's not so bad. And I think we can find 30 minutes in a day if we really want to. It might mean giving up something once in awhile - sleep, internet time, TV - but 30 minutes is doable, right?

*Picks jaw up from the floor* 
Forgive me for a minute while I TOTALLY LOSE MY COOL! 

Squee! That is the Best. News. Ever!!!!!!
I'm so happy for you--and I know great things are going to come from this! 
*happy dances*

*sits back down*

*clears throat*

Sorry about that. I’m just so excited for you. I promise--it won't happen again. 

*Shifts back into interview mode*

What was your biggest challenge writing Chasing Brooklyn? Was there one scene or character in particular that was especially difficult to tackle? If so, what made it so hard and how did you work through it?

CHASING BROOKLYN is another ghost story, specifically for the fans of I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME. So the first challenge was to make it different, and yet give readers an emotional read again. I decided to write it from the point of view of two characters, Brooklyn and Nico, and adding that second narrative helped make it different. But, it also make it much more difficult to write. Not because writing a male character was hard, but because suddenly I had two characters telling a story, so it was almost like writing two books at the same time. 
I can't think of one scene that was specifically hard to write - but one of the things I struggled with was one of the ghost's motivations. I hadn't thought about it much - WHY is this ghost is haunting her? My editor made me really think about it and dig deep and figure it out so the story would make more sense. Yeah, making sense is kind of important, isn't it?  
It is? *Makes note to self: remember, your story needs to make sense!* Maybe THAT'S why editing is taking so long. :)
And on that note: since a lot of my followers are currently unpublished writers--including myself--do you have any secrets you'd like to share to help us on our path? Is there anything you've learned along your journey that you wish you'd known at the beginning? Are there any mistakes new writers make that we should try to avoid?
Oooh, secrets! Let me see if I can think of a secret. Okay, here's one - psssst - you should be able to describe your book in one sentence. Yes, I know it's a pain to figure out that sentence, but it's important. And it needs to be a sentence that makes someone go - oooh, I want to read that book! 
Before I even start writing a book anymore, I try to describe the premise in a sentence. In today's competitive market, a hook is really important. That doesn't mean your book necessarily needs to be high concept, but it does need to be something that when you say - my book is about xyz, the person listening perks up.
So spend time getting that sentence polished. Once you have a sentence, you can then expand a bit for the query letter, when it's time to query agents. 
As far as mistakes, one thing I've read about in two different blogs (one by an agent and one by an editor) is how important your title is for getting your thing read quickly. A good title makes a difference! So spend time on it - make sure it's something interesting, something special. Because apparently, a great title DOES catch the agent or editor's eye and can often move it to the top of the pile. I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME is different, but it also catches your interest I think, right?
It totally did--for me at least. *resists the urge to gush endlessly about how much I love I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME* And that's excellent advice. I'll need to work on the sentence for my book before I start querying.
And while we're on the subject of querying, how many rejections did you get during the querying process? Did you keep any of them? Which one was the worst, and why? Do you have any secrets for how to heal from the sting of rejection? Secret ointments maybe? Copious amounts of chocolate?
Hundreds. Literally. And yes, I still have many of them, because they're good to show at talks that it's important to not give up. But I was writing picture books and mid-grade novels for the first few years, trying editors and agents, and I was not afraid to submit. In fact I know I submitted many things that weren't really ready. 
I got one pretty harsh rejection from an agent who I had submitted a few different things to, including pages to I HEART YOU YOU HAUNT ME. She said it was just too sad and she really didn't think teens would want to read something like that. Of course I went on to sell it and now with over 60,000 copies in print, I think it's safe to say teens DO want to read something like that. 
I know some rejections hurt. A lot. I wish I had something that took the sting away, but mostly I just want writers to remember it's ONLY ONE OPINION. I have learned that so often in this business it simply comes down to taste. Just because someone doesn't like something doesn't mean it's garbage. So keep going and find that one who DOES like it. 
That is excellent advice. I'm going to tuck that away and reread it when I enter the query wars--assuming I ever finish editing! And speaking of the torture that is editing: How many revisions do you go through with your books? Do you let anyone read the first draft? Does your family ever read your drafts? How many critique partners do you have? What is it that tells you a project is ready to pass on to your agent?
I'm one of those weird writers that does quite a bit of revising as I go along. But sometimes I need help making sure I'm on the right track. With this last novel I wrote, I sent it to my agent and a friend after about 75 pages to see if it was going okay. They both had suggestions and I ended up rewriting it.  When the first draft was complete, my husband read it and didn't get the ending, so I rewrote it. Then I sent it to a couple of people to critique. The ending still wasn't right, so rewrote it again, along with some other changes. And finally, after about 3 months of revising, I felt like it was ready to send to my agent. 
I think it can be hard to know when it's done, but mostly, I just go with my gut. When I can't think of anything else I can do to make it better, and I know I've worked hard to make it the best it can be, it's time to send it.
Wow. I can't wait to get to that point--I am SO sick of editing! Which makes me wonder: Do you ever have days where you don't feel like writing anymore? Do you ever hit walls in your drafts that you don't know how to get around? Do you ever doubt yourself? If so, how do you keep going? Any secrets for staying motivated?
Oh, absolutely. And you know, I do think sometimes it's important to step away from the computer and fill the well, so to speak. I find I will have a few months where I write pretty consistently every day. And then, I'm happy having a couple of months where I'm not writing. Having breaks like that makes me happy to get back to it. I go back renewed and refreshed and excited about writing again. 
I think I've learned over the years that when I find a roadblock in the manuscript and feel blocked, it's usually because I took a wrong turn somewhere. At that point, I look at what has happened prior to that point to see if I've perhaps written myself into a corner. And then I back track if necessary, and job down some ideas of what I want to happen next.
I've also learned that to make reentry back into the manuscript as easy as possible, DON'T leave for the day at the end of a chapter. Leave in an exciting place, in the middle of a chapter, and leave notes for yourself to remind you of what you wanted to write next. 
As for doubt, it's a writer's greatest enemy. Don't let it take over. Open the manuscript and dive in and don't think about it too much. Getting lost in your story is the best way to combat the doubt. I always tell myself, when I'm wondering if the thing sucks too much to finish, that I'm writing that draft for ME. Because I want to see what happens. I try to forget about anyone else and just write it for myself. 
I think that is the hardest and most important part. Thanks so much for the reminder. Okay, one last thing and then I will let you go—I promise. Your first middle grade Novel, It's Raining Cupcakes comes out in March, and since cupcakes happen to be one of my favorite desserts, I have to ask what your favorite cupcake flavor is.

Mmmm, I love talking cupcakes! When my editor asked me if I wanted to try and come up with a couple of recipes to go in the back of the book I said - you bet! And I created this applesauce cupcake recipe that I really love! I'm one of those crazy people that love applesauce donuts - I like the spiciness or something, I guess.
But my favorite cupcake shop cupcake has to be this chocolate mint one I had at work one day that was to die for. Wouldn't it be dangerous to live near a cupcake shop? Delicious and dangerous!!
*wipes drool off chin*
Okay, yum—now I REALLY can’t wait for It's Raining Cupcakes! That recipe sounds amazing. Well, Lisa, thank you so much for visiting today (and putting up with my insanity)—you really made my year. And I can honestly say that I adored Chasing Brooklyn (I read it in one day) and I know great things are going to happen for you in 2010 because of it! (Stop by Friday for my glowing review!)

I did it!
My first author interview--and with one of my favorite authors!
Thanks to all my followers for reading and don’t forget to enter to win not one, not two, but ALL THREE awesome Lisa Schroeder books. AND--because I'm really curious to hear what you guys think of my first author interview--I'll give ONE EXTRA ENTRY in the contest to anyone who leaves me a comment today (well, to anyone who's entering the contest who leaves a comment--though if you're not entering you're still welcome to leave a comment. I love comments!) So please, leave a comment, make sure you let me know what name you entered the contest under, and I'll add your extra entry. It's that simple. :)

And tune in tomorrow as Lisa Schroeder week continues and we talk a little bit about poetry and I share some awful poems I wrote as a kid. Shannon Shame is sure to be included! 

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Edit-a-thon is On!

So, today's post will be short because I have declared this weekend my own personal edit-a-thon. I wish I could claim I was suddenly inspired or motivated by some burst of self confidence, but really--um, I don't know if you know this, but AMERICAN IDOL STARTS NEXT WEEK!

(Yes, I am a TOTAL Idol nerd. I'm not ashamed. Carrie Underwood and David Cook totally owe their careers to me and my obsessive texting/voting)

Now, if you're not a fan of the show, you might not realize how much time that show can soak up. I mean, it's on like 3 nights a week, two hours each night. And since I currently only have time for about 20 minutes of television a day--if that--well, I need to finish up these edits so I can free up my schedule a bit.

So far I've done two chapters--which is actually quite a lot considering how messy they were--but I have like 10 more, so we'll see how far I get by Sunday. I doubt I'll finish, but by golly I'm going to get as close as I possibly can!

Which means I really shouldn't be blogging. (Oops) But I had to stop by and announce the last two winners of Follower Appreciation Week (yes--there's TWO! I figured I should doubly reward you guys for sitting through that horrible movie and then NOT making fun of me for it)

Okay, so without further ado, today's winners (according to are....

Comment #2
Left by the adorable: Marybeth Poppins
(who actually played fair this time and only left one comment. Heh.)

And Comment #19
Left by the awesome Robyn Campbell

*tosses a bucket of confetti*

So check your email guys. You have one in there from me begging for your mailing address. :)

And that--sadly--concludes Follower Appreciation Week.

But don't give up hope. Another contest starts Monday, and I must say, I'M even coveting this prize. The author provided a signed book for the giveaway--because she's AWESOME--and it's a book I don't even have a signed copy of. Plus I'm giving away her other two books along with it--including the new one that came out this week--so it's going to be pretty epic. (Can I enter my own contest? Is that wrong?)

Thanks again for all your wonderful comments and support this week! I really have read--and LOVED--each and every comment. Next week I'll be back to replying to comments, so please keep the comments coming. And I had so much fun with this, I will definitely be doing it again. Not sure when--maybe you'll have to wait till I become a grumpy pants again--but keep an eye out for it. You never know when I'll get hopped up on Pepsi and decide to do crazy things!

Oh and Frankie--I saw that comment yesterday, and no, I'm NOT getting less shy. But I am getting more evil. So remember that when you're daring me. I have two words for you: red wellies. :)

And now, I'll leave you with the wonder that is the American Idol Auditions! (which I *hope* I'll be watching next week) This is probably the worst song ever written, and it's about being brothers forever--what better way to end Follower Appreciation week!

(oh and notice the way Paula seems to be TOTALLY insane in the clip. That's me--after a few hours of editing. Be afraid people. Be very afraid.)