Posts Tagged ‘publishing’

Writing friends, I just gave up. Completely surrendered.

Again.

And you know what? It felt great. I’ll probably do it again tomorrow. And the next day, too.

I see the confusion on your face. Surrender?? Gave up on what???

Stuff I have no control over. Factors outside my influence. The immoveable metric ton of tricksy particulars I keep trying to shoulder. Pesky things like:

–the economy

–market and genre trends

–shifting state of the publishing industry

–today’s seven figure deal for the latest self-published/YA/fanfic/erotica/BDSM/OCD/PTSD/STFU phenom

–three day auctions

–past failures

–past revisions

–past mistakes
–present learning curve

–rejection

–silence

–editorial taste

–editorial lists

–acquisitions meetings

–editorial boards

–the submission process

–submission response times

–NYC weather

–THE SPEED OF LIGHT

Maybe your list is different. Maybe you’re querying agents or staring at your debut’s book cover or sobbing over your last royalty statement. But I bet you have a list. Take a good hard look at it, and ask yourself if you’re like me, a writer who needs to put her hands up and say…

I am not psychic. I am not a special snowflake. I am not superman, yet I am not immune to kryptonite. I am just a girl, sitting in a red chair, typing some words. I am just trying to tell a story, the best way that I can. I can control the words. I can’t control the rest. The rest will not cripple or paralyze or smother the joy I find in words. Yesterday and today and tomorrow.  Amen.

Surrender is sweet. I highly recommend it. 🙂

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I have news! The University of Texas at Arlington contacted me about developing/teaching a few courses for writers. This spring, I’m teaching Writing Young Adult Books. You do NOT have to be a UTA student. Anyone can enroll.

The class will run for five sessions, Monday Evenings from 7-9 p.m. CST.

Session one: April 30th
Session two: May 7th
Session three: May 14th
Session four: May 21st
Session five: June 4th (No class on May 28th for Memorial Day).

Basically, during the class, I’m sharing every secret I’ve ever learned about writing, querying, revising, landing an agent. And here’s the thing…You won’t just be learning from me and from the other students in the class…You’ll be learning from some amazing industry pros!

Check out these STELLAR SPECIAL GUESTS!
GWEN HAYES lives in the Pacific Northwest with her real life hero, their children, and the pets that own them. She writes stories for teen and adult readers about love, angst, and saving the world. Gwen’s first novel, Falling Under, was released in March of 2011 by NAL/Penguin and followed up by the sequel, Dreaming Awake, in January of 2012. She is represented by Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. You can find her at http://www.gwenhayes.com/

Gwen will be sharing her expertise in creating chemistry between characters!

Jeff Hirsch is originally from the suburbs just south of Richmond, VA. Growing up, he always knew he wanted to do something artistic but it wasn’t until he started writing poetry and short stories in Junior High that something really stuck. Jeff  graduated from the University of California, San Diego, with an MFA in Dramatic Writing and is the author of The Eleventh Plague and Magisterium (Scholastic).  He lives in Beacon, New York, with his wife. Visit him online at www.jeff-hirsch.com.

Jeff will wow us with his expert skills in writing taut action with emotional intensity!

Kiera Cass is a graduate of Radford University and currently lives in Blacksburg, Virginia with her family. Her fantasy novel The Siren was self-published in 2009, and The Selection is her young adult debut. Kiera has kissed approximately fourteen boys in her life. None of them were princes. You can keep up with her at http://www.kieracass.com/

Kiera will be Skyping into class to answer all your burning questions about the writers’ journey! (Did you know CW snapped up The Selection, and a pilot is in the works?! You might want to ask her about it.)

Rosemary Clement-Moore is the author of award-winning supernatural mystery novels for young (and not so young) adults, including Texas GothicThe Splendor Falls, and the Maggie Quinn: Girl versus Evil series. Her books have been included on the YALSA list of best books for teens, the New York Public Library’s Books For the Teen Age and Kirkus Reviews best teen books of 2011 and received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal. A recovering thespian with a master’s degree in communication, she now puts her drama queen skills to use writing novels and posting on Twitter. She loves coffee, dogs, history, Jane Austen, archeology, fantasy novels, comic books, Gilbert and Sullivan, BBC America, Star Wars, books with kissing and movies with lots of explosions. You can visit her webpage at www.rosemaryclementmoore.com.
Rosemary will appear (in person!) to teach us all about making magic on the page–creating rich narratives that sing with romance and  crackle with adventure.

Sara Crowe  is an agent at Harvey Klinger, Inc. where she represents adult fiction and nonfiction and children’s fiction. Her clients include NYT Bestselling author Jonathan Maberry, Nina LaCour, Michael Northrop, Lisa Schroeder, Kristen Tracy, and Dan Wells. Her authors have been nominated for Edgars and the Morris Award and have been on the ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults list and in the Top Ten. She is consistently ranked among the top three YA agents in Publishers Marketplace. You can check out her submission guidelines at http://saracrowe.com

Lucky for me, Sara is my own (WONDERFUL!) agent.  She’ll be chiming in to offer advice and answer all your burning questions about agents and the industry in general.

In case I hadn’t mentioned it yet, I CAN’T WAIT FOR THIS CLASS!  https://www.uta.edu/wconnect/CourseStatus.awp?~~12CO1722001

We’ve all heard about (or maybe even know!) writers with bad additudes–scribblers who are bitter, self-important, unrealistic, or just plain old hard-headed.

I worry about that quite a bit–I don’t want that to be me.  I’m no expert, but here’s what my interactions with writers, agents, and editors have taught me about cultivating a healthy writing attitude:

1.) Realistic expectations should balance optimism.

Some of my friends in our writers’ group tease me about being a bit of an Eeyore when it comes to writing. No, I’m not oozing with false modesty or self-deprecation. No, I’m not a naysayer.

I’m…cautiously confident.

For example, when I started querying my novel, I told myself I probably wouldn’t get requests. When I did, I smiled. When I got requests, I told myself I probably wouldn’t get offers. When I did, I danced. I always let myself dream and entertain thoughts of success, but here’s the key: I never expect them. I never feel entitled when it comes to getting published.

If and when it happens, I will shout and jump into the air and fly to the moon. Until then, I will keep my feet on the ground. I will keep putting one foot in front of the other.

2.) Live in the moment.

Once a manuscript is queried or goes on submission to editors, there’s not much more writers can do to influence the outcome. We have to let our work stand on its own. We have to let our wonderful, capable agents do their jobs. To wax Beatle-esque, we have to LET IT BE.

Here’s what we can do–we can read in our genre or field. We can work on another projects. We can take the time to support fellow writers. Day by day, we can enjoy the blessings we already have in our work, friends and family.  After all, a writing project should be fulfilling, but it shouldn’t be the only thing keeping a suicide watch at bay. (If  you feel it is, PLEASE GET HELP NOW.)

3.) Be circumspect.

At every point in my journey, I’ve been faced with the temptation to blab, blab, blab about the minutiae of my writing life. I’ve fretted. I’ve obsessed. I’ve contemplated word vomiting my ups and downs into cyberspace. But one thought stops me (almost) every time–I can’t regret what I didn’t say, blog, or tweet. My rule is simple: If I can’t say something constructive or share good news, it’s crickets for me.

4.) Embrace opportunities for real growth.

Setbacks and rejections are tough schoolmasters, but they are instructive, all the same. Every time I sit down to write, I process and exploit whatever feedback I’ve received.  I try to get better. I always want to always look back and see development and change. I always want to stretch for words just beyond my reach.

Stasis is my enemy, not rejection.

What about you? I’m so grateful for all my writing friends. What have you learned so far?

Hungry for more? Try this recipe for my cinnamon rolls. They’re from scratch, but they’re worth the wait!


Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients:

4 packages rapid rise yeast

1 cup hot water (not boiling, not lukewarm, just hot tap water)

2 tablespoons sugar

2 sticks real butter

1 1/2 cups warm (not hot!) milk (heat on stovetop or in microwave)

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. salt

8-9 cups of flour

Filling:

More butter

Dark brown sugar

Good Quality Cinnamon (don’t cheap out on this one, ok?)

Frosting:

Even more butter

Powdered Sugar

Vanilla

Milk

Dissolve yeast in a medium bowl with 1 cup of hot water and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. You will not the yeast mixture is active if the yeast bubbles up (mixture should get very foamy, if not, you goofed with bad yeast or too hot or too cold water).

Melt one cup butter and combine with 1 1/2 cups of milk. Mix the milk/butter mixture with the yeast mixture. Add 1 cup sugar and then the eggs. Mix in salt and four cups of the flour. Mix until smooth. Add in the remaining cups of flour, a little at a time, just until the mixture is cohesive enough to handle. Save some of the flour to knead with. I usually save the last cup or so for this purpose.

Slap dough onto the counter and knead it a bit. Knead it just enough so it no longer so gooey and sticky in your hands.

Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Put the dough into the bowl. Cover the dough with a thin cloth and let it sit. Let dough rise for an hour to an hour and a half. Dough should double in size.

Spray a counter top surface with cooking spray. Spray your rolling pin, too. Divide the dough into two lumps. Roll one out one lump into a large rectangle. Soften a stick and a half of butter and smear on the dough. Sprinkle a lot of cinnamon (to taste, I like a LOT) over the dough. Smear a bunch (a heaping cup) of dark brown sugar. Roll up the dough from the widest side to make a log. Use a length of dental floss (unused, please!) to cut and section individual cinnamon rolls (1 1/2 inch width sections).

After placing the rolls in a greased 9 by 13 pan (you should have approximately a dozen), roll out the second lump and do the same. You’ll end up with two pans of cinnamon rolls. Cover pans with a thin cloth and let rise for another hour to an hour and a half. I put my rolls on my stove top and turn on the oven to preheat. The warm airflow near the oven helps the rolls rise.

When the rolls are nice and puffy, bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. I have a large oven, so I can bake both pans at the same time on the same rack. If your oven is not big enough, bake one pan at a time. Don’t use different racks.

After rolls have cooled a bit, ice with homemade frosting. For frosting, I use one stick of melted butter, one tablespoon of vanilla, some powdered sugar (just add until the mixture is the right thickness), and a tiny bit of milk. Add powdered sugar and whisk until icing is the right consistency.

Binge!

Myth:

1. a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation, esp. one that is concerned with deities or demigods and explains some practice, rite, or phenomenon of nature

New buzz on the Percy Jackson Lightning Thief movie, anyone?

Check out School Library Journal’s inside scoop on the movie companion guide.

2. an imaginary or fictitious thing or person.

Is Scarlet Whisper: Librarian/Rockstar/International Jewel Thief a mythological creature?

Discuss.

3. an unproved or false collective belief.

Check out super ninja agents Brandi Bowles, Emmanuelle Alspaugh, Colleen Lindsay and Jason Allen Ashlock bust myths about queries, agents, and publishing in general. This eight minute clip features their panel discussion from the 2009 Backspace convention. The video is truly worth a look.

Hungry for more?

Try my Italian Cream Cake. Although it’s delish, I don’t recommend trying to sneak it into the Percy Jackson movie.

Italian Cream Cake

1/2 shortening (butter flavor Crisco is best)

1 stick butter

5 eggs

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2 cups coconut

1 cup chopped nuts (pecans are great)

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup butter milk

Cream shortening, butter, and sugar. Add eggs. Beat well. Add buttermilk, soda, flour, coconut, nuts and vanilla. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Makes three 9 inch layers. Cool completely. Frost.

Frosting:

1 stick butter, softened

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened

1 box powdered sugar (3 3/4 cups)

1 cup chopped nuts (optional, I don’t add them)

1 tsp. vanilla.

Combine until smooth. Frost your cake, then frost your beak.

BINGE!

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of posts written about the future of publishing. This weekend I also watched The Planet of the Apes and howled at the trailer for the 1980 crap-tastique movie The Apple, a dystopian pastische about the year 1994 (Watch out, this one will burn your eyes out!)

I’m not sure if it was the post-apocalyptic cinema or the glue I was sniffing, but I had an epiphany, a profound vision. Move over Nostradamus, Scarlet Whisper has seven predictions about the death (and resurrection) of print:

1. In 2012 (of course), a Malaysian scientist discovers Bibi, an orangutan capable of writing paranormal romances and techno-thrillers.

2  In 2014, after the Rand Corporation analyzes Bibi’s manuscripts against the slush pile, major publishing houses around the world begin to outsource selected projects to primates.

3. When Oprah’s book club pick, A Million Opposable Thumbs, a poignant memoir written by a red leaf monkey, skyrockets to the top of the NYT bestseller list, publishers begin to bypass agents and work directly with zookeepers in filling their lists.

4. Even as primates take over the industry, Sony capitalizes on the continued rise of e-books. Their banana shaped e-reader dominates the market. Each device comes preloaded with Stephen King’s Cell and Bibi’s first book, A Confederacy of Buttons.

5. In 2016, rabid neo-Luddites hack into Sony’s system and dump a virus into the big banana’s server. The conspiracy backfires when the virus causes banana readers to fall into a catatonic stupor after visually scanning the title page of any e-book. Biblio-zombies outnumber the uninfected within six months.

6. A death blow to publishing is struck when writer Joan Didion’s suffers a fatal heart attack after her book is passed over for the Pulitzer.  Bibi’s latest opus steals literature’s top prize.  The orangutan’s novel is comprised of one single word typset in Comic Sans: Meep.

6. By the fall of 2017, a ragtag cadre of librarians moves underground and operates small lending institutions. A handful of self-published authors are the only remaining uninfected human writers. These scribblers hide in bunkers and  study the simian  books. They learn to write.

7. In 2020, Optimus Primate, a silver Gibbon from Brooklyn, deactivates the virus by hurtling his body into Sony’s supercharged mainframe.  After the brain numbing banana readers are neutralized, publishing rises from the ashes. Although Optimus Primate’s heroics prove fatal, he is immortalized in an award winning, 666,000 word novel. Written by Scarlet Whisper.

Hungry for More?

Try my moist and delicious Kona Inn Banana Bread.

1 cup sugar
1 stick real butter
3 bananas, ripe and mashed
2 well beaten eggs
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
Cream together butter and sugar, then add bananas and eggs. Stir in dry ingredients, but don’t overmix. Bake in a greased loaf pan at 350° for 45 minutes.
Binge!