3 S.R. Johannes: February 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fly High LK Madigan

I do have Bookanista post I will do later today.

But first things first.

I must say a farewell to the sweet, sweet LK Madigan. Her words have been such an inspiration to me. I met LK (Lisa) in 2009 when she roomed with Lindsey Leavitt at SCBWI LA. Not only was she sweet but she was hilarious.

This was a picture taken at breakfast one morning. I totally forgot about this until I was looking back through SCBWI pictures I've been sent or collected hoping I had just one small memory of the time when I met her. I think Lindsey took this picture and I think it's a perfect shot of LK. Happy.

I don't remember too much of that time but I for some odd reason do remember Lindsey Leavitt and I not having as healthy a breakfast as LK and Kimberly.

Even though I did not know her as well as many, I am saddened by her passing and more so for those (especially my friends) who are left behind with a hole in their heart that will never close. To her heartbroken hubby and son - my thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.

If you want to honor LK - maybe go buy her wonderful and inspiring books or maybe even donate money to the Cancer Society in her name. There is also a trust you can contribute money to that benefits her son. She has touched so many and she has made her mark on the world through her brilliant words.

I don't want to say rest in peace because LK seemed to have so much energy and zest for life - I doubt she could ever rest...she probably has many things to do and many people to watch over.

So instead of RIP - I say...

FLY HIGH LK - may you soar to even greater heights.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Christine Fonseca knows her kids!

Last month, my daughter got into the Discovery gifted program at her school. And, I must say she seems to be doing better. She is such an awesome kid - so smart - smarter than me. But she is so intense. her feelings are all over the place.

I read Emotional Intensity when it came out last year and am excited about Christine's next one.

I met Christine last year at SCBWI and she opened my eyes. (not to mention she is funny and adorable.) She's a school psychologist and so so smart.

Emotional Intensity for the Gifted Child was her first book.This book helps parents and teachers understand why your gifted child is so
intense and helps them understand how to work through their emotions and frustrations.

It helped me see that all the questions and - what looks like defiance - and independence.

You can look inside the book to see if it is for you here.

Now, she has another one coming out: 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Children

101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids: The Ultimate Handbook is a must-read for gifted kids ages 8 to 12 who want to find success in school and life. If you’re a gifted kid or you know gifted kids, you need the 101 awesome secrets, tips, and tricks included in this book!

Here is an excerpt to see if this book is for your child. I personally think some of the ideas and strategies ca work for any smart child so don't shut away because it says GIFTED. Besides, we ALL think our kids are GIFTED right? :)

For more information, head to Christina's blog.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cover Release: Possess by Gretchen McNeil

Housekeeping Stuff

The winner of the Sean Boudin book is Jess. Please email your address to sjohannes@bilaninc.com

The next phase of Pay it Forward Agent Contest will be announced Friday (I hope!) I will choose 3 queries to move on to the next round and get query critiques. The winner gets a referral to my agent, Alyssa.

Also starting back (by popular demand - thx for emails!) is a Marketing Monday and Friday Roundups of the best Marketing bests for the week.

Now for the Cover release.

Gretchen McNeil just got the Cover for Possess - scheduled for August 2011.

ifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her overprotective mom, by the hunky son of the police officer who got her father killed, and by the eerie voices which she can suddenly and inexplicably
hear. Turns out the voices are demons--the Biblical kind, not the Buffy kind--and Bridget possesses the rare ability to banish them.

San Francisco's senior exorcist and his newly assigned partner from the Vatican enlist Bridget's help with increasingly bizarre and dangerous cases of demonic possession. But when one of Bridget's oldest friends turns up dead in a ritualistic sacrifice that mirrors her father's murder, Bridget realizes she can't trust anyone. An interview with her father's murderer reveals a link between Bridget and the Emim: a race of part-demons intent on raising their forefathers to the earth in human form. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the Emim's plan before someone else close to her winds up dead, or worse--the human vessel for a Demon King.

Oh isn't it gorgeous and spooky all at once??

I cannot wait for this one!!

Course I also adore Gretchen to death so she could write the dictionary and I would buy it more than once. But her writing is amazing and her heart is lovable.

I LOVE it!

Congrads Gretchen!

Head over to Gretchen's blog for more information on the cover. Oh yeah, and your probably want to follow her too. I think she's going places :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Guest Post: Sean Beaudoin (author of You Killed Wesley Payne and Fade to Blue)

Note: If you were a winner in the Pitch contest - do not forget to post your query letter on the winner announcement post by today at 5pm PT/8PM EST time.


Sean Beaudoin has three books out: Going Nowhere Faster,
Fade to Blue, and his newest, You Killed Wesley Payne.

Comment on this post and receive a copy of one of Sean's books.

You Killed Wesley Payne

He's come to do a job.
A job that involves a body.
A body wrapped in duct tape found hanging from the goal posts at the end of the football field.
You Killed Wesley Payne
is a truly original and darkly hilarious update of classic pulp-noir, in which hard-boiled seventeen year-old Dalton Rev transfers to the mean hallways of Salt River High to take on the toughest case of his life. The question isn't whether Dalton's going to get paid. He always gets paid. Or whether he's gonna get the girl. He always (sometimes) gets the girl. The real question is whether Dalton Rev can outwit crooked cops and killer cliques in time to solve the mystery of "The Body" before it solves him.

Sean Beaudoin (Going Nowhere Faster, Fade to Blue) evokes the distinctive voices of legendary crime/noir authors Dashiell Hammett and Jim Thompson with a little bit of Mean Girls and Heathers throwin in for good measure. It'll tease you, please you, and never ever leave you. Actually, that's not true. It's only a book. One that's going to suck you in, spit you out, and make you shake hands with the devil. Probably.

Here is Sean Beaudoin discussing how to write a noir mystery and crime novel for teens:

I think a noir mystery/crime novel for teenagers is really no different than one marketed for adults. At least that's the way I approached You Killed Wesley Payne.

Of course, some of the violence and sex might be toned down. Or it might not. My impression in general is that a book that panders to a younger audience is a book that ends up not having much of a spine. I hope the books I've written have been challenging to the teens that have read them, mostly because those were exactly the kind of books I wanted to read when I was sixteen.

Of course, back then, YA didn't really exist. There was no online branding, specific bookstore shelving practices, or row after row of lurid covers. We made it through elementary school without a single precocious wizard to help transition into high school’s chaste vampiric longings. There were a handful of titles, like The Outsidersand Go Ask Alicethat were known to be specifically for teens, but if you go back and read those books now, they’re pulling very few punches. Flowers In the Attic and The World According to Garp and The Basketball Diaries were all books that were sort of being handed around on the "black market" at school. We knew they would be confiscated if discovered, so we highlighted the salacious pages and giggled knowingly over them during study hall.

I feel very lucky to be writing YA in 2011. The audiences are incredibly smart and sophisticated. Tastes are eclectic and passionate. Noir can battle zombies, either on the page or at the register. YA is like the wild west--even though the breakout YA western doesn’t yet exist--in that everyone’s a gunslinger, pretty much writing about whatever they want. The limitations of the last few decades, in publisher’s imaginations and reader’s choices, have completely disappeared.

So I like having my back against the saloon wall, twin revolvers in my hands, plenty of bullets just a laptop away. It’s up to me to come up with something excellent—either an impossible shot or an brilliant escape plan. Which is exactly the way I wanted it way back in junior year, when I looked up from a copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan, busy understanding only half of it (gleefully so) and said “Hey, man-I want to be a writer!”

Some other links:
Free Excerpt for a Tweet
YKWP Trailer
Follow Sean on Twitter and Facebook

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bookanistas and Stuff

Arc Contest
If you are waiting on a book from the last contest, I have not sent them out yet. I'm sorry but with my agent revisions, family stuff, and the pitch contest being so successful (with over 100 pitches), I haven't found the time. My plan is to send them out next week. Thanks for your patience.

Pitch Winners
Don't forget to enter your query letter on the Winner post (again you can email me if you don't want to post it on the site) by this FRIDAY at 5pm EST. I plan to go through them next week.

The Bookanistas
Check out the Bookanista posts this week. There is some good stuff coming!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Winners of Agent Pitch - Onto the next round

First - Im sorry everything took longer. And thank you for being supportive and patient.

Okay - so here's the deal....

I could NOT get my list down to 5. So I choose the top ten I would like to read a query from. I will say these were - for the most part - great pitches with good ideas.

Most of my notes include the sentence: "But, what is different?" BE SURE in your pitches and query letters that you hone in and highlight the ONE thing that makes your book different. Especially the paranormal and angel books!

Because I know how frustrating it is to enter and wonder why you didn't get chosen, I will offer all of you some extra love on V-Day! :)

If you submitted a pitch in THIS contest and want to know WHY I didn't choose your pitch in the top 10 or as an Honorary Mention, you can email me your pitch and I will share my notes with you in case it helps you perfect your pitch. sjohannes@bilaninc.com

Next Steps for WINNERS:

1) I'd like these people to post their query letters on today's post by the end of this week (Fri 5PM EST). After 5 - the query will not count. Your query letter should have more content in it plus a bio aspect. I'd like to have everyone see how the pitch moves into the query letter. If you don't want that - you can email it to me offline st sjohannes@bilaninc.com

2) Of these 10 - I will pick three to get a query critique and send me the first three chapters.

3) I will choose my winner from those.

May sound involved but my name will be attached to it.


I shared why I chose these pitches so you could see my thought process. From what I hear, Im pretty sure agents and editors choose in same way - what calls to them for whatever reason. Could be a very random thing.
  1. Rita Monette (MG) - I like the Louisiana setting with the voodoo.
  2. Janet Johnson (MG) - The voice pulled me in on this one (love the appendix line) but I would work on it to give more. It didnt tell me the story.
  3. Mai (YA) - im intrigued because of the creating a person - Very "Weird Science" and I loved that movie. I would play up the girl more than the rest of it.
  4. Lisa - I chose this because I think likes classics redone especially in mysterious houses :) I love the twist on Jane Eyre.
  5. MarcyKate - Loved the idea of letters in her writing. Also Alyssa loves mysteries in mansions. The runaway millgirl peeked my interest.
  6. Wendy Lawrence - (MG) I've seen time travel fighters (be sure to read Time Raiders- i think it came out in the last year) but i really liked the voice so Im interested to see how it is different.
  7. Shannon ODonnell - (MG) Again, the voice pulled me in. The idea of a Naughty Camp for Boys was funny to me.
  8. BJ Andersen - First - she did her research and is right - Alyssa loves wishing stories. Second, the voice was evident.
  9. Marie Reardon - at first , the angel/heaven/Hell thing threw me off (I would take play that down). But I like the idea of stealing memories ( Very Inception-ish for kids)
  10. Rachel - I like "contemporary humor" of Operation Sex Appeal - seems kinda like the new movie (A) a little.
Honorable Mentions:

I wanted to mention these because I may have picked them had they offered more information. The premise was intriguing but in a stack of 100, it simply didn't stand out only because it was too short or too general or not different enough.

I thought this might help you hone your pitches more b/c that is all it needs:
  • Christine Arnolds (YA) - liked a story about a girl who controls the elements. Very MindBender but it sounds like its MG for some reason?
  • Dorothy Dreyer (YA) - a story about Muses (reminds me of Al Brooks and Sharon Stone movie Muse.) Though the pitch with the Zeus part and being grounded sounded a bit MG to me.
  • Holly Ann - I love the monsters under NYC but I didn't get enough of the story. Reminded me of a YA Neverworld by Neil Gaiman
  • Magan - I like the idea of girl falls in love with alien - but didn't understand the whole story.
  • Amy - the split conscious thing grabbed me but I couldn't get my head around it. May need to pull this out more? Also - the first 2 lines confused me as to who this girl was?
  • Tanya Reimer - I was intrigued but I needed more. I like the world with no males but didnt understand any more.
  • Karen Atkins - I think you need to explain more who Bree is and how she is involved in your query? The ONLY reason ( i thought this was a good pitch) I didn't choose this is b/c I just started a book "kinda similar" (but DONT WORRY, ours are obviously probably very different) I just didn't want to get "corrupted" by your idea at all (or scared of you because I like you! :)
  • Elena Solodow - I liked this but it was way too short. Didnt give me enough to stand out.
  • Angelica Jackson (YA) - I like the historical aspect to this combined with paranormal. But how is it different?
Congrads to everyone!

Friday, February 04, 2011

Timely interview with Alyssa

I've had an unexpected family event that has prevented me from fishing going through the queries completely. I wont be able to announce winner until Monday - sorry :(


The contest is now closed. We had over 100 entries.

I loved reading all the PAY IT FORWARD posts so thank you for participating.

Also, I appreciate everyone taking the step to put your query out there for everyone to see. Sometimes, that is the hardest part. There are so many good ones, I'm worried I won't be able to choose!

The top 5 will be announced on Monday, 2/13!

It just so happens my friend over at Mother Write Repeat did an interview this week with Alyssa.

Check it out!

Have a great weekend.