3 S.R. Johannes: December 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jill Myles kicks off The "Agent Holly Root" Contest!

Jill Myles's new paranormal romance book GENTLEMEN PREFER SUCCUBI releases Jan 10, 2010.

I read the first chapter of GENTLEMEN online and can't wait to read the rest. Her book has adult romance, urban fantasy, vampires, angels, and... hm what else?....oh yeah....HOT GUYS! What else could a reader ask for?

The fabulous Gretchen McNeil has helped organize a month long blog tour that covers various topics about Jill's writing process, research, publication journey, books, and much more!

In addition to her month long blog tour, Jill is also giving away a super awesome fantastic prize if you stop by and comment at any of the blogs (1 entry per comment!). Her agent, the incredible Holly Root - will be giving away a free Query Critique. Jill will be announcing the winner on the last day of the blog tour - Wednesday, January 27th.

This contest is open to all writers - adult writers as well as children book writers - because Jill's awesome agent is Holly Root at Waxman Literary and literary agent to adult AND children's book writers.

Even though Jill is an adult writer, the topics covered pertain to any writer. So feel free to drop in on the topics that interest you. It will be a fun and informative month.


12/29 - Amy Bai introduces Jill Myles and her new book.

12/31 - Dorothy Windsor gets the scoop Jill's agent hunt.

1/4 - Jen Hayley picks Jill's brain on how to best get an agent.

1/5 - Kerri O'Connell finds out more about Jill's take on mythology and research.

1/6 - Stina Leicht steals some of Jill's knowledge on mythological creatures in urban fantasy.

1/7 - Sarah Eve Kelly looks deeper into Jill's historical research.

1/8 - Julianne Douglas gets advice on how writer's can deal with procrastination and self-discipline.

1/11 - Shana Silver interviews Jill about her writing process.

1/12 - Hilary Wagner finds out how Jill dealt with rejection and the scoop on working with an editor.

1/13 - Chandler Craig and Jill talk about handling common career mistakes.

1/14 - Realm LoveJoy does a fabulous illustration of Jill's character(s).

1/15 - Gretchen McNeil and Jill discuss originality in Urban Fantasy.

1/18 - Wendy Cebula gets some tips on writing effective love scenes.

1/19 - Ilene Wong and Jill discuss different ways to include "smexy" scenes in a book.

1/20 - Jen K. Blom finds out about the difference between what an author writes and what an author likes.

1/21 - Lisa and Laura dive into how to write for adults vs. writing for kids.

1/22 - Marissa Burt finds out more about Jill's inspirations to write.

1/25 - Corey Schwartz gets some insight into writing sequels.

1/26 - Shelli Johannes-Wells (that's me!) gets the scoop on marketing under a pseudonym.

1/27 - Jill Myles interviews her agent Holly Root and announces The Holly Root Contest Winner!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Winner!

The Winner is (from the Random Number Generator).....


Patti - email me at sjohannes@bilaninc.com with your address. I probably won't mail it until after the holidays though.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Marvelous Monday: Holiday Giveaway!!!!!

In celebration of the ending of 2009, I want to thank all of you for making the Marvelous Marking Mondays a huge success. This time last year, I had no followers, hadn't yet kicked off the Marketing interviews series, and barely got one comment a day.

Today, I have 400 followers (and friends :), just had my 50,000th visitor, and have conducted 40 interviews with editors, agents, illustrators, and authors.

More importantly, over this last year, I've made friends, gathered followers, and hopefully helped some of you move toward your publishing goal.

To celebrate all this, I have a....... GIVEAWAY!!!!

1) All you have to do is comment and tell me one key lesson you have learned this year in relation to your writing journey. It can be about social networking, attending a conference, your writing craft, the submission process. Anything.

2) Oh yeah, and you have to be an OFFICIAL FOLLOWER of my blog (so i can see your lovely little square faces/icons on the left side.)

Only my loyal followers get prizes :).

If you have found my blog for the first time and aren't sure if you can follow, I do come with a 30 day guarantee. If I do not make you laugh, cry, or scream at least once in 30 days, you can unfollow and still claim the prize if you win. :) Am I confident or what?

oh! What is the Prize - you ask???

Drum roll please.........

Gaiman's ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of Coraline!!!

The graphic novel adaptation illustrated by award winning artist P. Craig Russell.

You have until Midnight PST (3 am EST) tonight to enter.

Happy Holidays!

Also stay tuned because I have a holiday surprise for Wednesday!!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Belated Editor Appreciation Day

Agent Appreciation Day was so successful last week, authors did it again for Editors. I came across alot of posts this weekend.

Even though I do not have an editor yet, I love them and am thinking a little bribing and flattery could get me somewhere. ;) So here is a shout out to all the great editors who got accolades on blogs over the last few days.

Here's some I found:

Kiersten White with Erica Sussman, Harper Teen

Kody Keplinger with Kate Sullivan, Little Brown

Hannah Moskowitz with Anica Rissi, Simon Pulse

Alexandra Bracken, Egmont USA

Andrea Cremer with Jill Santopolo, Philomel

Kirsten Hubbard with Michelle Poploff, Delacorte

Victoria Schwab with Abby Ranger, Hyperion

Karen Kincy, Brian Farrey at Flux

UPDATE: Gretchen McNeil is gathering all the posts on her blog.

Happy Editor Day and thanks to all of you for believing and taking a chance on your authors!

If you have any you want me to add, let me know. Or if you know of a blog that has a comprehensive list, let me know and I'll link to it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Agents Insider 411

I thought I would outline a few things to remember for AFTER you get an agent. I wanted to give some inside scoop to having an agent and working on the submission process to editors.

I know there is a lot here so I'm sorry for the length, but I felt it was more important to share the things I was surprised about once I got an agent. So bookmark me for late night reading :) Keep in mind, this is my opinion. Everyone has one!

1. The saying is not "Happily Agent after" - Don't think that once you get an agent, you are done with the hard part in this process we call publishing. Oh Contrare Monfrare! Once you get an agent. Your book does not sail into the sunset from there. Getting an agent - is really only the beginning of this long journey. You still have edits and waiting and pressure and disappointment. The only difference is that now you have someone by your side (besides your mother and husband) who believes in you and your book as much as you do.

2. Your book is never done! - I have stopped tweeting the following statement "Yay! I'm done! Onto the next one." Why? because I've been "done" now a few times and I'm pretty sure I'm still not quite "done". In reality, I don't think you are "done" until your book is in print and even then, i think sometimes you have to revise for your foreign versions. Just say, "I'm done for now." Then you won't be disappointed or frustrated. But expect rounds and rounds of revisions with agents and editors before submission (sub), during sub,after sub, after contract, for foreign sales etc. Some agents don't do many edits but more and more are in this environment. Just know, your book will be better and you will grow as a writer.

3. Agents know things you don't! If an agent makes a decision that impacts your book's process at whatever stage it is in. Know that they have a whole lot of factors going into that decision that you might not know about. They live in this business everyday. They know things. Secret things. Unspoken rules. Secret handshakes. Coded messages. Things you and I will never know. Trust me, there is a whole secret society and set of rules that agents and editors live by that we do not see. Nor will we ever.

4. You have to trust your agent. This is why interviewing agents first is totally critical in your success. You HAVE to understand their communication process and style and submission process. B/c when things are happy, so are you and your agent. But if things get tough, and they will, you HAVE to trust your agent - their advice and their process. The reason we all get an agent is so they can help us visit/tour/stay in the Land of Publishing. Your agent is the guide and you are the tourist. You know where you want to go but they know how to get you there.

5. Be careful who you listen to. "They" are not always right. Rachel Gardner post about this today. Rumors go around that put doubts in authors minds. Rumors about agents, rumors about editors or houses, rumors about the process, rumor about books, rumors about authors, rumors about advances, rumors about rumors - blah blah. There are a 1,001 differing opinions and 1,000,000,001 ways to get published. Not everyone has the same experience, including agents or editors. You have your own path, don't let yourself get pulled onto someone elses's.

6. Revisions- quality not quantity. You will get "deadlines" from agents on when to turn your book back in. If the date is unrealistic - make sure you talk about it with your agent. Those dates are NOT set in stone. I hate pushing back on deadlines. I don't want anyone to think I'm slow or a slacker! I've learned that agents "suggest" deadlines and expect you to push back if its not realistic. You will not get in trouble if you don't meet them. Don't rush the changes or force your writing. Because, trust me, it will come back anyway. I realize now it is more irritating to an agent to have to send the book back. They are not impressed with fast turn-arounds if you miss something. So slow down and take your time. Sometimes the best moments in your book comes with time and sitting on it.

7. What exactly is a revision and how to deal? This was an eyeopener for me. Revisions are NOT just line edits and a comment here or there. When you sign on with a agent who edits. Revisions can be things like change your ending, this character sux, work on this, rework this. It is a 4 or 5 page editorial letter. Don't attack your agent for their letter or advice. I have found my first reaction to myself is always - i can't do that or that is crazy! But once I calm down and try it - it works so much better! and my book is better. So keep an open mind with revisions.

8. Express Yourself. Agents work for you just as much as you work for them. I think some people just grab an agent up b/c they offer. Because we try so hard, we grab the first think that comes. But as dating, we all know that doesnt mean "the first guy who asks you out" is right for you. Be sure you interview and ask questions. Hard questions. You need to know your communication styles and expectations match and compliment each other. I'm sure this pertains to editors too. You need to express your book and career visions and be sure you are on the same page. Be sure to say what you want or need to know and why. And find out the same from them. Here's a great article on how to choose the right agent. You need to decide if they are right for you. Because if they arent', those issues will only magnify as things get more stressful. A mismatch is worse than no match. When someone told me that - I used to always think "Yeah right easy for you to say, you have an agent!" But it really is true! Be sure you're clear all this stuff BEFORE you sign. This questioning helped me choose the right agent.

9. Know the plan for your book/career. Now, some authors may disagree, but personally I do not think it is plain business smart to be involved (at an appropriate level) in some of the strategy decisions or in the planning process for your own book. Do you want to railroad over them or boss them around? No! because they know the business!!! But why would you not want to know the rejections, the editors, the houses, the plan? Would you send your kid to a nanny without finding out more about how they handle kids. Would you hand your money over to a financial advisor without asking about the investments he/she is planning for you? I think the more you know, the better. Just b/c you ask questions, does not mean, you do not trust your agent!! It means you CARE about your future in this business and are an active participant in partnering with your agent to make it happen. To me, a good agent should not MIND answering questions that you feel you need to ask. I'm happy to go where my agent wants me to - as long as I understand where I am going and why.

10. You should never be afraid of your agent. Your agent is like your 'business partner'. You have to trust them through the good times and hard times. If you're afraid to voice your opinion - you should not be with them. You should not be afraid to speak up or contact your agent if you have a valid reason. Not every day and obviously in a respectful way. To "professionally discuss" why, when, how, and what. I personally think a good agent would respect and honor that (Again, professional is key). Most agents don't want you to be intimidated and want you to feel comfortable with them.

11. You are not the only one. This is so hard to keep in mind as you continue through your publishing journey. Your agent has other clients, a boss, colleaques, a family. Guess what? They have a life outside of your books, publishing dreams, and revisions goals. WHAT!? I know that is hard to believe b/c we breathe our books, our writing. But it its true. Your agent has about 20-40 Yous reacting the same way you are. They only have so much time - so pick your battles. If you become annoying, you are doing yourself any favors. On the other hand, if you don't hear from them timely, it could be a problem.

12. They want your book to sell just as much as you. Agents (and editors) want to sell your book as much as you do. Agents don't get paid until you do. Agents have to query just like we do. Agents have to accept rejection just like we do. Agents get excited about successes just like we do.They have to read your book a gazillion times, listen to you moan, respond to all your annoying emails, keep you calm, answer questions - all on a hope and a prayer that your book will sell. They hate rejection just as much as we do. They care about our books just as much as we do. None of them want us to fail. Because then they fail too.

13. Don't be a hound dog. Don't shoot off 100 emails a day. This sounds like "duh!!" but seriously it is soooooo hard when you start freaking out about something you heard or read or saw or think. Probably worse when you are on sub b/c everything takes so long. But use your support group to vent, freak out, cry and solicit advice. Go to all of your support people BEFORE you go to your agent. Agents are not your therapists, your BFF, or your mother. Also - when you send an email, try to save it and wait to reread. Email is tricky and innocent things can come off completely wrong. I personally think its better to talk on the phone but that is not always possible. Another thing, try to keep emails short and to the point. They dont have time to read a 8 page letter and they probably dont really care what you did last weekend.

14. Run future projects by your agent. Kirsten White did a great post awhile back on this. Of course we all want to write the book that is in our hearts. I do too. I don't want someone telling me what to write. But from a business/marketing side - you have to consider what is selling. I think its important to have a discussion with a perspective agent or your agent about what you want to or are working on next. I'm not saying write what they want you to write. But, i think as your agent, they deserve to be involved (just like you do in their process) since they're time and energy goes into it as well. If you have differing opinions - it could be a problem but better to have that discussion on word 1,000 than on word 80,000.

15. Try not to worry about your agent dropping you. Getting an agent does not mean you will sell your book easily. yes it opens doors. But there is always a possibility - especially in this market - that you will not sell. Know that if you get the RIGHT agent, most WILL stick by you. Most will not drop you. Most will help you with your next project. I think that fear always lingers. "Will my agent drop me?" I don't think they do unless something is seriously wrong in the relationship. So just know, if you don't sell and you have the right agent, you will be OK and move onto the next project. There are tons of authors out there who did NOT sell their first book and their agent stuck by them to sell their next project.

16. Be patient. If you push at this process, it will crush you. You have to try and be patient. Trust me, it is soooooo hard. Especially when people around you get deals or get agents or finish books faster than you. I have found that if you push at this process, the process only gets longer and slower. Try to breathe and know things will happen for you when they are supposed to. There is only so much you or your agent can do. Timing comes into play. Finding the right house or editor comes into play. Then something bigger takes over to create that serendipitous moment. Try to relax. Easy to say, hard to do.

If any other agented authors have some tips, please put them in the comments.

What did you learn? What were you surprised about? What do you wish you had asked an agent when you got an offer?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Marvelous Marketer: Christy Webster (Random House Children's Books)

Special Announcements

A Big Thanks! First, I want to thank all my loyal followers! I adore you guys and thanks for coming by often. I just reached 400 this weekend and have decided when I reach 500, I'm going to do a "Thank you" Giveaway! Stay tuned!

2009 Interview update: Secondly, this is the LAST marketing interview of 2009. It's been a great year and we've had some great interviewees. I want to thank all of them and let you know the interviews will resume on Jan 4th, 2010 with a brand new format and lineup!

Marketing Interview

Hi Christy! Thanks so much for coming and answering questions about marketing for us. It's always nice to get an editor's perspective. First, tell us a little about yourself as an editor.

I’ve worked at Random House Children’s Books for about four and a half years. Between my own books and the books I’ve assisted my bosses to edit, I’ve tried my hand at almost every kind of kids’ book there is. Baby to YA, licensed and non-licensed, fiction and non-fiction, new and reissued, you name it. I come from Maine. Oh, and everything I’m about to say is my opinion, not my employer’s. (Sorry).

In your opinion, after watching a book go through the publishing process, what are the top three things an author can do to help promote their book?

1. Be available to your readers in a way that makes most sense to you, your book, and your publisher. Whether it’s touring, school visits, an online presence, or something else, a personal connection is a wonderful thing.

2. Talk to people about your books, and books in general. Connect with people who love books and stories as much as you do.

3. Be nice to everyone.

I assume the last pertains to any online interaction as well as in person. I think some people forget to be as nice in Twitter as they are in person. Based on that, how can an author utilize social networking to build an audience and what should they keep in mind when doing it?

I think an author (or anyone) should put effort into social networking only if they enjoy it on its own merits. By all means—check it out, give it a chance, see how people are using these various services. But the people who find success connecting with their audience on these websites are the ones who are using them in a similar way to their fans—to connect with people, to learn new things, to share information, and to have fun.

Those who are using them as a marketing tool only? People can tell they’re not that into it, and I don’t think it’s as useful that way. Your readers want something authentic, and if social networking just isn’t your bag, it’s OK—you don’t want to fake it. Find other ways that are more you. But I definitely think it’s worth checking out and seeing for yourself. It’s one of those things that you need to try hands-on before knowing what it’s all about.

I’m on Twitter. I’ve found it to be a really neat way of keeping up with other folks in the publishing industry, from fellow editors to authors, librarians, and reviewers. But it also keeps me up on ALL my interests, as I can follow my favorite TV critics, reporters, bloggers, comedians and so on.

Sometimes I feel badly for authors that follow me, because I think they’re expecting publishing tips, and then I spend the day talking about getting my ears pierced or something. But then, that’s what it’s all about—a slightly more personal connection. I use Facebook mainly to keep in touch with family and old friends. I use GoodReads exclusively as a way to remember what I’ve read. If I don’t keep track, I forget, and that pains me. Plus I love to look at all the covers together.

I to believe you use social networking in an authentic way to meet people not for sales. It seems with all the social networking in today's environment that technology is becoming more and more important to an author’s marketing plan.

Yes, but it’s as important as you make it. There’s a bare minimum, I think. You have to have a website, with up-to-date information about your book and yourself. You have to have email that you keep up with, to keep in touch with your agent, editor, publicist, and anyone else involved with helping you market your book.

Beyond that, the sky’s the limit, and it’s a very individual thing. Some authors blog daily. Some post videos. Some do fun giveaways of their books. Some do virtual author visits. If you do the things that most interest you, you’ll do them enthusiastically, and people will respond to that.

But even if your personal proclivity is toward in-person activities, making yourself at least minimally accessible online greatly increases your chances of being contacted about in-person opportunities.

Another marketing technique seems to be around group book tours. How do you feel about group promotion?

I love that so many authors recently have teamed up to promote their books together. This is one of the things I love most about the children’s book world—there is true and sincere camaraderie. When someone in children’s books—an author, a bookseller, an editor, a librarian, whatever—loves a book or believes in an author, they will enthusiastically spread the word, regardless of any circumstances that might otherwise lead to competitiveness. Most of us know that any book doing well can be good for all books, and most of us also just put a love of stories above all else. That works out really well, because word of mouth is by far the best way for a book to gain attention. I think about how I discover new books for my own pleasure reading.

Before you can decide whether to read something, you have to first hear of it. So if someone I know is talking about about a book, or if an author whose work I already follow is talking about a book, or if an author I don’t know is at a reading with authors I do know, then I hear about it. And if it sounds like something I’d like, I read it. It’s a simple, natural thing that makes a big difference.

What other advice do you have for authors/writers regarding marketing?

Try not to worry too much about the marketing experience being different from what you expected. Remember that it's not about who gets the multi-city tour and who doesn't. It's about getting books into the hands of the readers that are going to love reading them.

When evaluating whether to take on an author or book, do you ever Google them to see if they already have a web presence or platform?

Yes, I do check out their web presence. I don’t go looking for a platform, per se. If they have some kind of platform that relates to the book in question, they should have mentioned it when submitting. If they did mention some credentials that would have a real impact on whether we’d take the book, then I’d definitely do some research to make sure it’s legit and find out more about what it is and how it could work for a book. But honestly, that’s a pretty rare thing. With the vast majority of kids’ books, we’re looking for a great story, not an area of expertise.

Can you give us an idea of the types of marketing or publicity Random House may offer to authors? Is there a standard or is it just based on the book?

We do a lot of different kinds of books, and each category has some kind of standard marketing plan. I can’t go into a lot of specifics, but an example would be sending out ARCs for original novels, that kind of thing. And the standard plan is quite good on its own. Beyond that, our marketing and publicity departments work hard to identify which books would benefit most from specific types of extra strategies, and that varies widely and depends on the book. Some traditional strategies aren’t right for some books, and other books can sometimes naturally call out for something more offbeat. The main thing is that they have a lot of magic to work with a small budget, and they really do try to make everything they do make as big a difference as possible.

What things do you and RH expect an author to do on their own?

The only thing I truly expect from an author is to write a great story, let us know what their availability is for promotion, and provide an author photo when the time comes. They should also be maintaining their own web presence in some way. But when an author has other ideas for things to do on their own, I'm thrilled.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Show agents the love!

The fantabulous Kody Keplinger pulled together several authors to create something called Agent Appreciation Day. Of course, I joined in. After all, I love my agent! I posted this a few days ago and knew it would fit in perfectly.

If you want to read some other posts and pass the agent love around, visit Lisa and Laura - as they've been great enough to create one comprehensive list!

Because I love my agent, so let me count the ways...

1) She is positive - trust me you need this!

2) She knows her stuff. I find myself going "wow I didn't know that" every time we speak or email. And i think I'm pretty up on the industry as much as I can be. She is a bundle of information. I'm talking like she is the dictionary for the publishing industry.

3) She loves my book and my writing. That makes 2 of us :) Not counting my mother or my dog of course!

4) She cracks me up! Wanna know her brilliant thoughts about book rejections -"It always sucks when someone says your baby is ugly." (funny right!)

5) She is (currently) not into the whole social networking thang. Which I find refreshing since I am all in everyone's business. (Pssst. I am determined to convert her! She just doesn't know it yet)

6) She is passionate. I love this about her because it shows.

7) She has the confidence to put me in my place. "Um, you need to relax." (true, so true)

8) She answers all my questions - in detail and doesn't mind. She even asks me if I have any questions! That never happens to me. Usually people are running from my inquisitive nature. Either that or cowering from my Spanish Inquisitions.

9) She works hard for me (and I'm sure all her clients). She turns around revisions in record time. Like before I can breath. I always tell my hubby that my book is like a boomerang with her. Just as I send it out...bam...it comes back all marked up with great suggestions.

10) She has great ideas! I think I might have to list her as a co-author.

11) She watches as many movies and TV shows as I do. Which makes for fun conversations. When we are trying to compare scenes, we constantly throw around references. That's rare to find.

12) She is the fastest emailer in the NYC area. Almost as fast as me and trust me - that is lightening fast. She always responds so quickly even when I know she's slammed.

13) Did I mention, she loves my writing?

14) She always has time for me. On phone or on email.

15) She is a great editorial agent. I know that if she likes my book, it's good. I love knowing when my book goes out, it is clean and to her standards.

16) She makes me a better writer.

So, when you are looking for an agent, use this as a checklist.

I've heard horror stories about agents and how they treat their clients. How they rank their clients by advance amounts. I've heard of people regretting taking on their agent and dumping their agent because they didn't support them.

This is not my experience!

I'm so lucky to have Alyssa. Just in 6 months, my writing has gotten so much better. I obviously have a long road ahead of me but knowing she is by my side, makes this journey so much better. (Hopefully, she feels the same - gulp!)

Agents work their butts off, get chewed out, and take big chances on people like me. They act as our advocates and pretty much a professional therapist to us in a certain sense. And they do all this for very little in return. They do it because they love it. Because they don't get paid until you or I get paid. And just like you and me, they are committed, they put in the time and effort, and throw in just as much of the blood, sweat, and tears as we do. They get just as upset at rejections as we do. Our "babies" become their step children. They care just as much as we do.

Everyday, they fight for what they believe in and love.

Sometimes it works out for them and pays off, but sometimes it doesn't.

I think we spend too much time bitching about what they don't do and seem to forget what they do everyday. All day.

They fight for the books they love to get published.

So.... be sure to show your agents the love and maybe you'll get some back!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Secret ailments from revision deadlines

When you are in the midst of revisions and deadlines (whether it be agent imposed, editor imposed, NaNoWriMo imposed) , you tend to put your life on hold.

You roll up your sleeves and dive in.

Determined. Excited, Hopeful.

Then you get in the middle of it.

And you curse, sigh, cry, and force yourself to sit and fight through it. Doubt sets in.

No one talks about the ailments of writing under speedy deadlines. It is a problem swept under the rug of the writing community. The embarrassing things we hide and don't talk about it out of embarrassment or fear of quarantine.

I'm here to bust the door open on these ailments and create a support group - in sympathy of all the writers who have to turn around deadlines in record time.

Here is a List of Common Writer Ailments (resource: WriterMD). Read it! It could save your life!

PB-ASS (also know as Pancake Bottom) - This is a very common problem that no one talks about. It a very "tush"e subject
  • Causes - sitting in the same chair for way too long, genetics, no support
  • Symptoms - sore buttocks, butt falling asleep, cramps, widening measurements, and saggy pants.
  • Cures - butt squeezes, squats, donut hole pillows, or butt implants

The Claw
- This is a problem for many writers.
  • Causes - lack of typewriter training
  • Symptoms - your hands look like they could be doubles in the Thriller video, kids think you are trying to scare them when they come around the corner, carpel tunnel syndrome
  • Cures - Typewriter lessons, prayer, stress ball exercises

(Also know as Major Sleep deprivation)
- This one is hard to notice if you have a problem with kids waking in middle of night, late night prank calls, friends on the west coast, and snoring husbands.
  • Symptoms - grumpiness, burning eyes, deliriousness (is that a word)
  • Causes - no showers (yes you heard me right) staying up late, writing for 18 hrs straight, overactive mind, too much work - not enough time
  • Cure (rare) - hubbies who allow you to sleep in!

(also know as Sugar & Caffeine Rush)
- ok so we can get this a lot.
  • Symptoms - the shakes (which makes it hard to write), stomach aches, vegetable deprivation, dehydration, quicker movements
  • Causes - chocolate, candy corn, sweet tea, coffee with hazelnut cream (the non sugar free kind)
  • Cures - detox, pace your office, pace outside

(SlipperFeet/Sweatpants Syndrome) - also known as MommyWear
  • Symptoms - 3 new pairs of sweats, lazy feet
  • Causes - shoes with soft fur inside
  • Cures - not available at this time. Incurable.

The WHAAAAs (Uncontrollable bouts of tears)
  • Symptoms - crying at commercials, crying at kids, crying b/c you forget to make lunch
  • Causes - see all the ailments listed above
  • Cures - hugs, encouragement, colored pictures slipped under the door, turning in your work on time
Should you experience the above ailments,
  • Don't call your agent! (or editor)
  • Do call your writer friends (Thanks Katie&Kimberly!)
  • Don't yell at your family
  • Do call your mom
  • Don't give up
  • Do step outside and breathe
  • Do ask for help
  • Do pat yourself on the back
If you have not experienced any of these ailments, please call for help!

Denial and avoidance can be fatal!

If you have come across any other ailments, please let us know in the comments.

You could save a life!

Monday, December 07, 2009

At the center of a busy life

As a mom, sometimes, I forget to stop and breathe.

Because there are so many thing to do as a mom.

doing the laundry, changing sheets, folding laundry, putting away laundry, stacking laundry in baskets and leaving in the bedroom until *someone* else puts it away.

unloading dishes, rinsing dishes (yeah right), reloading dishes, wishing I'd bought paper dishes, buying paper plates, feeling bad about environment and go back to dishes.

reorganizing kids closets, cleaning out old toys, reorganizing new toys, returning toys back where they belong, yelling at kids to return toys where they belong, threatening kids to return toys where they belong.

buying dog food, feeding dog, taking dog to vet after he eats a pound of chocolate, letting elderly dog outside in the middle of the night to pee - twice!

taking care of hubby, making hubby take care of me, managing an extended family, managing a British family (oi!:), getting together with family before family has withdrawals.

giving baths, forcing baths, taking a shower, skipping a shower, wishing for a shower, refusing to shower.

shifting kids from one place to another, carpooling, playdates, afternoon activities, planning family activities, allocating equal Mommy Time.

get an idea, write a book, rewrite a book, tear up a book, envying someone else's book, curse my book, love my book, cry over my book, get a rejection, get an agent, rewrite book, and rewrite book again.

preparing for school, packing lunches, giving money for lunches, forgetting lunches, forgetting homework, doing homework.

cleaning out old sizes of kids clothes, buying new kids clothes, attending kids school activities, volunteering at school activities.

planning menus (yeah right!), cooking...OK FINE!...microwaving, wishing I was organized enough to crockpot, grocery shopping, wine shopping, chocolate shopping, interim shopping, drug shopping (Oops, I mean drug store shopping!)

taking care of house stuff, bringing in the mail, sending out mail, recycling junk mail, taking out the trash, recycling, bagging recycling, paying bills, filing bills, hiding bills, forgetting bills, ignoring bills.

scheduling cleaners, calling yard people, calling car people, begging babysitters, begging mother to come down.

staying on top of holidays, moving shelf on an elf, filling advent calendars, buying presents, returning presents.

awarding stars for good behavior, awarding red stickers for bad behavior, keeping track of stickers on behavior, ignoring tantrums, having tantrums, yelling at tantrums,

going by the bank to take in a check, wishing I had a check to take in, spending money, balancing checkbook, wishing I hadn't spent money, wondering where money went.

going to the bathroom with bystanders, cleaning the bathroom accidents of bystanders, teaching kids to wipe, teaching kids to flush, stocking diapers, smelling diapers, running out of diapers.

scheduling dr appt, handling impromptu dr appt, tending to the sick, feeling sick, stroking hurt feeling, hurting happy feelings, attending to boo boos.

yelling at kids to ask for peace and quiet, wishing for peace and quiet, hiding in closets for a moment of peace and quiet (everyone does this right?)

With all that - there is little time to breath.

There are so many things to do as a wife

There are so many things to do as a daughter, sister and friend.

There are so many things to do as a writer, a critiquer, a blogger, a tweeter, a facebooker, a myspacer, and a goodreader.

There are so many things to do to change the world.

Then, there are those moments - that in reality probably come to us in every second of every day - but I miss them because I'm so busy I forgot to stop, grab it, and press it to my heart. I forget to hold it in my hand before kissing it back to the wind.

Sometimes I don't relish in the moments of joy that fly by me at the speed of light. I guess I don't open my eyes in time to see the drops of happiness wrapped in a picked leaf, a drawn picture, or a hug.

Sometimes I happen to get lucky and accidentally sit still in the small moment that I realize is perfect. Before, I mistakenly push it aside as the world blows another obligation or problem my way.

Sometimes I get tiny but memorable reminders, in the shape of a flower, or a note in crayon, a book, or a sappy song.

When the universe nudges me quietly, suddenly giving me the sense, the urge, the need, the ability...

To stop...

To breathe...

To love...

To laugh...

To live...

To just be...

And remember to cherish and be grateful for the things at the very center of my busy life.

Marvelous Marketer: Maggie Stiefvater (Bestselling author, Shiver)

Hi Maggie! *waves*

Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to stop by. Tell me a little about yourself. About your book, how you got started, and your journey to publication.

*Maggie strives to make a long story short* Let’s see, as of the time of this interview, I have three YA novels on the shelf, of which the most famous is probably SHIVER, currently on the NYT bestseller list, I’m a full-time author, and I write YA contemporary fantasy pretty exclusively.

SHIVER is the first of a trilogy about werewolves -- well, shapeshifters more properly, I suppose. And LAMENT and BALLAD are companion books about homicidal faeries and kissing. With all my novels I strive for 90% realism and 10% fantasy. I want them to feel very grounded.

My first novel, LAMENT, was a slush-pile baby, pulled out of the muck by Andrew Karre at Flux. He asked me to revise it, I made a feeble attempt, and it ended up going nowhere. A year later, I submitted my next manuscript to him, and he said, “How about that first one?” He asked me again to revise, and this time, I knew what I was doing -- well, I had a better idea, anyway -- and he bought it after I revised three chapters. I still remember what he said on the phone when he made the offer. He told me that I was going to be big in the literary world, that all I needed was to get my foot in the door. And he said, “Here’s the door.”

You are a big blogger, did that have anything to do with your success. Or how do you utilize your blog in a marketing way? (Include website/blog? When did you start it and who manages it?

First of all, the down and dirty links: my website, designed in part by Xuni (I did the header and much of the color scheme). And my blog, (also mirrored on Blogger).

The short answer is yes, blogging had a lot to do with my success. But the long answer is yes and no. Yes, I would’ve sold SHIVER without my blog. No, I wouldn’t have sold it for as much. Both of the publishers who made it to the final round of the auction for SHIVER cited my web presence in their offers.

The fact of the matter is there’s a lot of YA out there now, and even if a good book will get read eventually, a kick-ass blog will help your good book to get read faster. If you add all of my blogging and social networking folks altogether, it’s literally thousands of people that my publisher probably wouldn’t reach through other means -- or, even if they could, that my publisher can speak to on a different level because of my blog. The first step is getting people to know your name. Once they know your name, you market your book to them in a different way.

Here’s the thing about my blog, though. You have to blog because you love to blog. You have to blog about something interesting, and what you did over the weekend isn’t interesting unless you know how to spin it. A blog where you dutifully post every other day about your wordcount and how your characters are speaking to you is not going to win you thousands of readers, because there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of blogs out there, and anyway, even the best of those will only appeal to writers rather than just plain readers.

Also, don’t just blog about your book and where to buy it. Who will subscribe to a year long advertisement for you? so whoo hoo SHIVER’s been on the bestseller list for 17 weeks, sold rights in 30 countries, and been given x honor and shortlisted for y award. NO ONE CARES. That may be putting it a bit too strongly, but there’s no point in me posting “I SOLD THE CROATIAN RIGHTS!” and the next week saying “I SOLD THE LITHUANIAN RIGHTS!” My mom and husband are excited about these things. Readers will think you’re gloating if they bother to care at all. Not great content.

I have a handful of blogs in my blog reader that I read all the time. They’re all either: a) intensely informative on the industry, b) extremely hilarious, c) extremely snarky about the industry, d) involve strange photographs of animals doing strange things to tourists, or e) all of these things. I analyze why I read these blogs all the time. When I’m writing a blog post, I try to think, is this something that will actually entertain, or am I just posting dutifully?

A last comment: I reply to just about every comment left on my blog. I know a lot of people don’t, and it is a huge burden of time for me, but it makes a big difference to readers. I’ve seen authors who stopped replying to commentors, and guess what -- they stopped getting comments. Who wants to shout into the void?

How do you use social networking to get the word out about your book?

Indirectly, for the most part. Again, you can tell that direct selling of myself makes me break out in a rash. It’s far better to be a visible part of a community than always crowing about yourself. So I’m on Facebook and Twitter (I’m on Goodreads, too, but mostly to just post my favorites books rather than engaging in book clubs on there). I had a Myspace account but found it to be clunky, slow, and ultimately a giant vacuum of my time with no visible results.

Anyway, my policy for these guys is the same as my blog: I answer every comment. I change my status updates fairly regularly, and I often use these places to let readers know where I’ll be for a signing, because I have a lot of local fans/ friends/ readers. I also, however, post a lot about my love of Spock and how many nostrils human beings breathe out of at any given time.

Did you think about marketing before your book was published? Did you
start prior to getting an agent or selling your book? If so, when and what
did you do?

Well, I was a full-time portrait artist before I got published, and my online blog basically helped me pay my rent by getting the word out there about my art: http://greywarenart.blogspot.com. So I already knew about the power of blogging and the power of being a useful and friendly member of the blogging community. I also had mostly learned the lesson that your blog is a cocktail party: no religion, politics, or sex.

How do you work with your different houses on marketing? Do you plan your events together?

Generally only the conferences get planned together. Everything else is relatively independent. It was more of an issue in October, because I had just had SHIVER (Scholastic) come out, and BALLAD (Flux) came out right on its heels. So there was more juggling.

In your opinion , what are the top 3 things every author should and must do to promote their book?

Hum. There is no “must” in promoting, because it has to do with your personality. But I would say a) blog. b) reply to your comments. c) buy cases of your own books to giveaway to important folks you meet and for contests and influential bloggers.

What creative things have you done to promote a book?

My favorite contest had readers post a snippet of the book and the book cover on their blogs to enter -- in a week, hundreds of blog posts with my book cover in them went up, and even if no one hit “buy on Amazon” right after seeing it, half the battle was already won, because next time they went into stores and recognized the cover, they’re far, far, far more likely to pick it up.

I also bring my harp with me to signings for the faerie books, because they have a lot of Irish music in them. That way I can play and not look bored.

And finally, I think all the time from the point of view of the book reader. What would I want to hear about a book before it comes out? Where would I be looking for it? What would make me click buy or tell my friends about it?

Thanks for joining us today!

Thanks, Shelli!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Blog awards and Friday Roundup

Blog Awards!

I'm embarrassed to say I am waaaaaayyyyy behind on thanking those who have given me awards. So here goes....

Rules for all awards: Put the logo on your blog/post. Link to blogs that deserve the awards. Let nominees know that they have been nominated by commenting on their blog. Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award.

Thanks to
Jeanine for the "Heartfelt" award - The Heartfelt Award is all about a blog that give you a warm fuzzy feeling when you visit them.
  • I am awarding this to Mrs J, LILA and Kimberly Derting because they all speak from the heart and do not hold back. I love that about these gals!
Thanks to Dawn for the "Best Blog" award. [bestblog_award.jpg]
  • I am awarding this to to Kiersten Writes because she cracks me up. I never leave there without laughing out loud. I wish she could be my friend just so I can laugh all the time.
Thank to Mary Ann for the "You're the Sweetest - The Icing on the Cake award." (and the Lovely Blog award).
[helpfulblogger.jpg]Thanks to Lynnette and Jennifer for the "Helpful Blogger" award. This one makes me especially happy because that is the whole reason I started this blog! In addition to rules above, share one thing that no one knows about you & quote a sentence from your favorite book.
  • I am awarding this to Elana (for her Query advice) and Casey McCormick (for her awesome agent spotlights)
Thanks to Al for the "Over the Top" Award - Give to other bloggers and fill out these questions: Copy and paste this quiz and change the answers, ONE word only. (yeah right!)
  • This award goes to all my Blog Followers because all of you are awesome and over the top to me. So if you are a reader (and obviously you are if you are reading this) - you get an award so answer these question on your blog and give an award away on your blog.
  • My answers
    1. Where is your cell phone? who knows. I just wait for it to ring
    2. Your hair? naturally curly
    3. Your mother? best friend
    4. Your father? tough
    5. Your favorite food? cheese dip
    6. Your dream last night? about my book being subbed to publishers
    7. Your favorite drink? dirty martini
    8. Your dream/goal? bestseller
    9. What room are you in? living room watching tv
    10. Your hobby? writing and yoga
    11. Your fear? losing my kids
    12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? happy
    13. Where were you last night? Home
    14. Something that you aren't? hypocrit
    15. Muffins? cranberry orange
    16. Wish list item? kindle or thin mac
    17. Where did you grow up? georgia
    18. Last thing you did? Blog (sad i know!)
    19. What are you wearing? jeans
    20. Your TV? love it!
    21. Your pets? old
    22. Friends? mean alot to me
    23. Your life? perfect
    24. Your mood? happy
    25. Missing someone? my best friend in Denver
    26. Vehicle? jeep Commander
    27. Something you're not wearing? shoes
    28. Your favorite store? bookstore
    29. Your favorite color? Blue
    30. When was the last time you laughed? about 5 min ago.
    31. Last time you cried? about 6 min ago
    32. Your best friend? hubby
    33. One place that I go to over and over? bed
    34. One person who emails me regularly? katie
    35. Favorite place to eat? beach

Friday's Marketing Round Up

I am behind on these due to the holiday so I included last week's too.
  • How to plan a blog tour - blog tours are low cost and get the word out (buzz) about you and your book, and that’s never a bad thing. Here's how to get the word out.
  • How to plan a successful book launch - The nuts and bolts behind planning a book launch. A successful book launch doesn’t just happen all by itself. It takes a significant amount of planning, organization, and coordination