Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Want a peek at what the revision process is like for me?
I know, I know, SCARY!!
Are you brave? Really, really brave? I'm warning you, watch at your own risk.
If you think you can handle it, My Revision Medley pretty much summarizes the entire process.
Friday, March 27, 2009
I highly, HIGHLY recommend this book. I won my copy courtesty of Becky Levine (thank you Becky!!!) and clearly, my guardian writing angel knew I would be needing it and helped Becky to draw my name.
1. "A high-octane plot is nothing without credible, larger-than-life, highly developed characters to make it meaningful."
2. "When people act in ways that are unusual, unexpected, dramatic, decisive, full of consequence, and are irreversible, we remember them and talk about them for years."
3. "What makes breakout characters broadly appealing is not weaknesses but their strengths, not their defeats but their triumphs."
4. "Virtually all readers seek out novels for an experience of human life that is admirable, amusing, hopeful, perseverant, positive, inspiring, and that ultimately makes us feel whole."
5. "A character in trouble is engaging if she has sympathetic qualities, e.g. she is aware that she’s in trouble and tries to change. What we cannot tolerate is willful self-destructiveness."
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
2 - I wonder why it always has to rain over spring break.
3 - I wonder why royalty statements are so hard to read and understand.
4 - I wonder why I crave sweets so much, especially when I'm stressed.
5 - I wonder why some books get more buzz than others.
6 - I wonder why some people live such charmed lives.
7 - I wonder why writing one book can be easy and writing a different book can be extremely difficult.
8 - I wonder why some authors seem to know what they're doing and where they're going from the get-go and some authors, like me, sell six books and still have no idea.
9 - I wonder why I can't make a decision about going to Seattle.
10 - I wonder why School Library Journal didn't review FAR FROM YOU and if three months post-release, there's still a chance they will.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I love Elizabeth Scott's writing. Her new book, SOMETHING, MAYBE is out today! With a nice and shiny quote by Sarah Dessen - "The best love story I've read in ages."
And it is great. Elizabeth does such a fantastic job with characters, and this book is no exception. Plus, she loves putting her characters in the strangest places. This time, Hannah, Finn and Josh, the three main characters of the book, all work for a call center for Burger Town. There's a love triangle going on, and although it takes Hannah awhile to figure out the guy who is best for her, she eventually does, with some humorous drama along the way.
Congrats, Elizabeth, on your latest release!!
Monday, March 23, 2009
I know you are having a hard time with these revisions. I know this is the hardest book you've ever written and you're trying to make it a gripping, page-turning, spine-tingling read. It's making you moan and whine and snap at your family. I get it. It's bad how hard this book is to write. But you have to stop messing around. Like yesterday. Remember yesterday? You spent two hours making video after video because they were super fuzzy and it bugged you. Well guess what? Fuzzy or not fuzzy, no one wants to see your angst-filled face talking about how hard these revisions are. So stop it. Yes, I know you were trying to say something inspirational, but now is *not* the time to inspire others. Now is the time to inspire yourself so you GET THIS BOOK FINISHED. Do you hear me?
You have three more days off from work. That is precious time. Do not waste it. Take your kids to lunch, play laser tag with them, whatever, time with your kids is not wasting time. But anything else, it IS wasting time.
You can do this. Just think how good you'll feel when it's done. Do you need a bribe? Okay, here you go. Finish this book and I'll treat you to a pedicure. What? That's not good enough? Okay, I'll treat you to a pedicure AND a trip to Powells where you can buy a book. What? Two books? Okay fine. A pedicure and two books.
Hurry. Go. Now.
Your friend always,
Dear Stephenie Meyer,
My husband watched the movie TWILIGHT with me. He liked it. I think he's sort-of wondering why I don't write books like that. Well, right about now, me and him both.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
When I sat down to write the inscription to this girl, I didn't know what I could say. Although I wrote about a character who had lost her mom I can't really know what that's like. I know about losing someone I loved deeply. But I haven't lost a mother. I haven't come home to find my mother dead, like this girl did.
But I thought about my kids. And I thought about what I would want them to know if something happened to me. And so, I took a few lines from the book, changed them just slightly, and used them for inscription to this wonderful girl.
When the breeze brushes your cheek, there's love.
When the stars sparkle and shine, there's love.
When the tulips bloom in the spring, there's love.
I hope the book might help her in some small way.
Friday, March 20, 2009
2. A friend over at Livejournal, Brian_Ohio, asked the question, "In this economy, would you rather have a book on submission or a book hitting the shelves?" Then he went on to say, "And I think I'd rather have one on submission. Honestly. The thought of hoping/asking readers to part with money to purchase my book right now is daunting. Really. Maybe some of you authors 'just on the shelf' can shed some light on this. How nervous/anxious are you?"
The good news about the kidlit world is there is not this sink or swim thing thing going on the first 30 days like there is in the adult market. I think I've said this before, but sometimes a book for kids or teens takes time to gain momentum. Because kids read in school, books are often passed between teachers and students, students and students, librarians and students, etc. SO, our books can do well over time even if the first few months aren't what we hope in the retail setting. Those authors who had the foresight to see the need for books like Twilight and got on that a couple of years ago and are hitting this sweet spot right now, their books are no doubt doing incredibly well. The rest of us, we just have to hope our books get noticed in other ways.
And even getting on one state reading list can do wonders for a title. But that takes time - a book may hit a list a year or even two years after coming out, if I'm understanding it correctly.
Don't get me wrong, my friends will tell you I get plenty nervous about sales. And yet, I know I'm so fortunate to have books published and more on the way. Being on submission is fun and exciting at first. It's filled with possiblity. But after awhile, it's not so fun anymore. The waiting is really hard. Well, you all know that!! So, sorry Brian, I wouldn't trade places with you.
And is this a good place to say - if you haven't bought a book in awhile, I think you should go and buy one this weekend! I bought two last weekend!
3. Next week is Spring Break for my kids. My 6th grader has a big science project to work on. I guess they should change the name to "Spring Break - Pysche! Not Really A Break."
4. I'm currently reading Saundra Mitchell's SHADOWED SUMMER. It is REALLY good. I should have finished it by now but I had to stop reading at night because I'm a big wuss and get scared easily. Yes, it's a ghost story if you haven't heard. Which if you haven't heard, where have you been? It seems like everyone has talked about this book and I'm one of the last to do so. ANYWAY, since I do 90% of my reading at night, I'm not finishing it as fast as I'd like. But the writing is excellent, and I'm a sucker for books where there's a little of that Southern drawl going on.
5. Tomorrow morning, I must wake up and go deeper into the revison forest. I received more detailed notes from my editor yesterday. Four pages to be exact. The marked up manuscript is coming today. It's quite ironic that I have to add more scary parts, even though I don't really like scary. So get ready Saundra - ha!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Anyway, I am not working on a first draft at the moment, I'm trying to whip a book into shape and make it better, stronger, faster. Oh no, wait, that's the Bionic Man. Better and stronger probably fits though. And still, even though there is a whole book there (I think. I hope, since it's all kind-of torn up at the moment), you can bet that in some moments, it's all about surviving the suck.
But again, I go back to inspiration. Because although I totally get that we just have to muddle through as best we can, and keep on writing when we wonder if anything we are saying makes any sense, I think we can also turn to things that make us love life and try to infuse that into our writing.
So, I think it's important for every writer to know WHAT inspires you. I'm one who is very much inspired by music. Specifically, singer/songwriters who write songs that speak to life, love, and loss. For some reason, when I listen to music that makes my insides squeal and go I LOVE THAT, I write better. I don't know why. But it's not important that I know why. It just is.
Music doesn't inspire everyone. Some people are inspired by art, some by books, some by nature, some by film, some by spending time with children, some by images like this site shared yesterday with me by
There are many different ways to be inspired. The important thing is to figure out what gets your heart racing, what connects you to life and makes your heart dance. Because whatever that is, it in turn is going to make your fingers want to dance across the page.
So, my question for you today is, do you know what inspires you? And if you can't answer that quickly and passionately, take some time to figure it out. Because I think once you do, you'll find you know exactly what to do when you just don't know if you can survive the suck any longer.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
To me, motivation is what keeps you going - it's the force that keeps you moving forward.
When I'm writing a book, most of the time, there is motivation enough from inside of me to finish it. I love that feeling of accomplishment. I WANT to finish it. When we start out writing a novel, we have to be motivated enough to sit down and put words to the page consistently almost every day. And I think it is important to understand where your motivation comes from.
Now that I'm published, I'm motivated by having editors who want to see other things from me. And I'm motivated by wanting my career to grow.
Inspiration is more about the act of creating. When I talked about praying and hoping for inspiration, what I'm looking for are nuggets of experiences that speak to my heart and soul. That move me in such a way that I, in turn, want to work hard to move others with my words.
I'm deep in revisions right now. The manuscript is a mess. There are holes, there are notes in places where I need something but haven't figured out what should go there. It's hard, hard work. Every day I work on it, because I desperately want to finish it. I'm certainly motivated to finish it. But at this point, it's really not about finishing it. It's about making it good so it's worth reading. And not just a good story, but telling a story that touches someone. Really touches someone. Every book, that's my goal.
So, I look for things that touch me. That MOVE me. You know what I'm talking about here. It's that sunrise that takes your breath away. It's a music video like this one. It's holding a precious baby and watching as he reaches up and touches your face. It's watching a movie that moves you to tears. And then I take those feelings of joy/sorrow/regret/pain and try my best to drop them into my story.
I've been told many times my books make people cry. Is this my goal? Not specifically, no. It goes back to touching people. Going right to their heart and touching something there. That is my goal. Because that, to me, is life at its best. Those heart-felt moments that we remember for a long time.
It's important as writers to realize when we need inspiration. Because we can slog through the writing any old time, and get a book written. But it's the inspiration, the flutters of the heart we find in life, that makes the book something worth sharing with others.
I guess all this is to say - figure out what inspires you, and don't feel bad when you get up from the computer to go and find it. In the end, it's definitely time well spent!
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
a) I get cranky
b) I hope and pray for inspiration
I'm not really one to give up. If anything, there's a part of me that wants to dig in and dig deep when it gets hard. Like if there were bubbles above my head, you'd probably see a lot of profanity, but that frustration and anger fuels me to keep going so I'm not in that place of frustration and anger any longer. I mean, let's face it, it's not a fun place to be! And the only way to get past it is to work damn hard and get beyond it.
But the inspiration is really key for me. I'll go to Youtube and watch music videos, and that helps. I'll step away, go for a long walk, and that helps too.
Sunday evening I was really tired after working hard on revisions most of the weekend. I had a movie from Netflix here, and sometimes movies inspire me, but I thought, dang it, this one isn't the kind that's going to inspire me. Still, I was ready for a break, so I got my blanket and my remotes, and I hit the couch.
Okay, lesson learned. Never, ever, EVER try to predict whether something is going to inspire you or not. OMG how this movie inspired me! Want to know which movie it was?
Young at Heart. It's about a chorus of people with an average age of 80 who sing songs like "I Feel Good" by James Brown and "I Wanna Be Sedated" by The Ramones and "Schizophrenia" by Sonic Youth.
Often, the lyrics they are learning are difficult. Sometimes, they don't even like the song. But they ENJOY THE CHALLENGE. And they come to practice every time, ready to learn. Not just learn, but enthusiastically learn. They believe it will be worth it in the end, so they work and work and work to get it right.
These are my kind of people. And then, of course, beyond the singing, these are people with health issues. They realize every day is precious, and they vow to make the most of each and every one. They laugh, they celebrate, and sometimes, of course, they cry. Because that's life after all.
At the end, one of the men with pretty serious health issues sang a song. A more quiet song. I recognized it and yet, I couldn't place it. When I turned the TV off, tears streaming down my face, I googled. I found it. I read the lyrics. Then I found the group singing it on youtube.
Perfect. Absolutely perfect.
That song title may even make it into the book, that's how perfect it was.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
"...let us suspect something...yet still find a way to surprise us."
Lots and lots
And none of them
leading me out of this
deep, dark forest
Saturday, March 14, 2009
2. My other son slept over at a friend's house last night. So while G and his friend play here (after he's very clean) I am going to write. Nothing else but write. I told him this last night and he said, "But mom, what if we need a snack or something?" I gave him a look, and he smiled and said, "Just kidding." Isn't he so funny?
3. Tonight we are going out to dinner with friends for a birthday. I love going out to dinner with friends! This is something we don't do nearly enough and I'm just SO excited. Except, I don't know where we're going. I can't remember. So I must call today and find out. Obviously it's not the food I'm excited about, but just think if the place is really great, then I'll be SUPER excited!
4. My revisions for the YA are coming along, even though I feel like each word is similar to taking a step on a floor covered with glass. Painful! I'm having to add lots of new pages in different spots, and I'll get to a place where I need to add something, stare at the page for a couple of minutes, then click over to facebook or LJ. Why do I think this might help? It doesn't help! I must either write words, even if they are bad, or continue staring and thinking. NO clicking!!
5. This morning I have banana bread I made yesterday to go with my tea while I write. Mmmmmm. So now instead of clicking, I can chew. My story may thank me but my butt, not so much.
6. I love how God knows when I need some encouragement and sends just the right note at just the right time. Last night I got one from a girl named Emily who said, "I read the book I Heart You You Haunt Me. I just could not stop reading the book. Please please please make something similar to that..."
I think CHASING BROOKLYN just might fit the bill. So I better get to it. Emily is waiting! :)
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
In the coming weeks and months, I'll be doing interviews with some of the fabulous book bloggers out there.
First up, my pal Vanessa. You may remember Vanessa who helped me with a vlog to celebrate the release of FAR FROM YOU.
Note from Lisa: I'm so glad you did!
1. First of all, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be a reviewer of YA books? My name is Vanessa. I live in south Florida. I'm almost sixteen. I'm your average girl (except for my addiction to books), I hang out with friends, listen to music, and aspire to do great in school. I started reviewing for myself. For about nine months the blog was unknown. Then I started another blog (http://whatvanessareads.wordpress.com/ ) and started making contacts with other (awesome) book reviewers which led me to exposure and the courage to contact authors like you!
2. What are your favorite and least favorite parts of being a reviewer?My favorite parts include getting my opinion out there, making friends that have the same interest in reading, and meeting super cool authors like you, for example. The free review copies don't hurt. I dislike sitting down and typing up a review, making it flow and sound like a story, especially if I have a lot to say. I think that's why I do VLOGs (http://youtube.com/vanessathebutterfly) or podcasts.
Note from Lisa: I'm super cool? Wow, thanks!
3. What's your process of writing a review? How do you handle it if you have more things you don't like than you like? I normally sit down on my bed and write bullet points of what I liked and didn't like on paper. After I finish writing everything, I look over the amount of good things and bad things and decide on a grade or rating. When there's more things I don't like I do write about them. However, if around 70% of the review is negative I normally don't review the book. (If you really think about it, I won't finish a book that's that bad, so I barely do these bashing reviews.)
4. Have you ever had an author write to you, upset about a review? Thankfully I haven't. I think this is so because overall in my reviews I don't say I just despised the book.... I explain my reasoning. To me every book has at least one miniscule flaw... I have yet to read a perfect book.
Note from Lisa: No perfect book? Okay everyone, hurry and try write that. Vanessa is waiting!
5. I'm curious if you finish all the books you start. Do you comment on your blog about a book that you don't finish? Not most of the time. I don't really like telling people they shouldn't read a book just because I disliked it... who knows? Maybe they'll love it. I normally tweet (http://twitter.com/vanessacaterina) about not liking a book as I'm reading it.
Note from Lisa: I'm starting to feel like I'm the only one left in the world who doesn't tweet.
6. How many books would you say you read, on average, per month? Where do the majority of those books come from? Per month it's usually around 5 (in the summer it's more, obviously!). Sadly lately I haven't read that much. Most of my books come from contests, review copies, and about every six months my mom takes me to the local book store to buy about 15 books (yeah, I know, she's awesome like that), and sometimes I do pitch in my own money. That's enough for me to survive, haha.
7. What's one interesting thing about you that not many people know? I've been wanting to start a collab channel on Youtube like fiveawesomegirls or vlogbrothers to get to know other book lovers better for a really long time! This all however, came into place when Sarah from Sarah's Random Musings contacted me about starting one. We started today (March 9th)! We talk about our lives, books, and other random things. We'd love it if you checked us out and subscribed at http://youtube.com/user/Sevenbookbabes . There's many book bloggers taking part in this. :)
Note from Lisa: How exciting!
8. If you were going to order a dozen cupcakes, what flavor would you get and who would you share them with? Vanilla. Yes, just plain old vanilla. I'm classic like that... haha. I would share them with my mom, dad, stepmom, 12-year-old brother Robert, 22-month-old brother Junior, my friends who always put up with me: Danny, Hayley, Pablo, Connor, Ryan, Paul, and Fatima. <3
9. What books are you especially looking forward to in the coming months? Willow by Julia Hoban, Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen, You've Got Blackmail by Rachel Wright, One Lonely Degree by C.K Kelley Martin, Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott... among others.
10. If someone wants to send you a book to review, how can he/she contact you? I'd love to review your book! You can contact me through e-mail at whatvanessareads (at) gmail.com. I normally reply within a day or less.
I enjoyed thinking up answers for this interview since the questions weren't easy and typical. Thanks so much Lisa!
Thank you for being here! It was fun getting to know you better!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Here is the first post. (Note: Book angels, if you could please drop me a note and let me know when you've blogged about it, that would be great!)
So why did I do this book angel project? I had extra author copies and I could have done a hundred different things and I just really wanted to do something that might bring a smile to someone's face. And in the process, have people share that experience so lots of people can have a happy moment.
There is just so dang much bad news lately.
So, let's do what we can when we can. This was one thing I could do.
Thanks, Kaelyn, for being the angel that you truly are.
I love agent Nathan Bransford more and more every day. No wonder he gets 30 million queries a day. Who wouldn't want to work with him? He posted something I really needed to hear. The part I love the most in THIS POST "...try, try, try to care as little as possible." I think I'm going to write myself a note that says that and tape it by my computer.
I really like THIS POST by Shannon Hale about the different paths writers take. It's something I've thought about from time to time, and always came to the same conclusion. And pretty much it's the same one that Shannon came up with. I love how she worded it, so here it is:
"So here's my Charlie-Brown-un-asked-for-two-bits-advice: Don't make a goal to be any of these. I've come to realize that the only thing useful to me is to make goals that are achievable, like writing a book, rewriting a book, sending it out there. It would be useless for me to pin my hopes of happiness on publication or any honors or celebrity that might happen after publication. I try to enjoy my life now, every moment, living it all, in the present. Work that book, work for the opportunity to share it, but never let that dream become everything. We want to be writers because we want to tell stories. Nothing else really matters."And finally, Laini Taylor talks about the very real possibility that no matter how we feel about Twilight, and how it's shaping what is on the bookshelves in book stores right now, the series has turned non-readers into readers. They're coming into the libraries and bookstores and asking for more. And isn't that a VERY good thing? Of course it is.
Happy Wednesday, friends. Have anything happy to share? Funny? Sweet? I'm so tired of the doom and gloom
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
Maybe I am simply feeling anxious because I have a lot of work to do???
Maybe I am feeling anxious because I am worried my books aren't doing well, and this third YA may be the make it or break it one?
Maybe I am feeling anxious because I want to get these books done and work on the new, shiny idea I have?
Maybe I am feeling anxious because I've become so comfortable with that feeling, it's out of the norm to NOT feel anxious?
Okay, I think it's time to go back and read agent Nathan Bransford's awesome post - Ten Commandments for the Happy Writer.
I want to be HAPPY while I work this weekend. Happy, happy, HAPPY! Like this guy:
What about you? Are you feeling happy today? Why or why not?
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Yeah, in case you were wondering, there's a very good reason this book has received star after star after star. It is freaking INCREDIBLE.
Now, I am a major Laurie Halse Anderson fangirl. But when I heard what this book was about (eating disorders and cutting) I thought, oh no, what if I can't read it? Or what if I read it and hate it? I don't want to hate it.
But Laurie is a master storyteller, and she pulls us right in to Lia's life and instantly, INSTANTLY, we feel for this girl. We want to know what's happening to her and why her best friend has died. We want to know more. But mostly, we want to UNDERSTAND.
And that, my friends, is why this book is so freaking incredible. Laurie takes us into a world that is hard to understand and although at times it is hard to read, we know we are a better person for having followed Lia on this journey. And in the end, we do have a better understanding of kids like Lia.
This book will undoubtedly join SPEAK as a book that is talked about, by teens and with teens, for years and years to come.
Amazing work, Laurie. Bravo!
You can get your very own copy March 17, 2009. And you should, people. You should.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
2. Did anyone see the Oprah show last week where Lisa Ling went into the tent city in Sacramento? All of these people, many who have set up camp recently and used to have a job and a home and a car, just like me, are now living in tents. Apparently it's happening all across the country, people who can't make their house payments, have no where to go, and so, they pitch a tent and live in this made-up tent city. Incredible. When asked what they would do differently, if they could go back, most, if not all, said they would spend less and save more. And all of them said the thing they missed the most was a hot shower in their own bathroom.
3. On top of work and surviving the sick ward, I am doing writerly stuff as I can. I started a new YA, got one chapter down, then had to abandon it when I received some general revision suggestions for my next YA.
A friend on Livejournal, Karen, was kind to offer tarot readings yesterday, and here is what the cards had to say, when I asked about juggling so many things right now. This line brought tears to my eyes, because I really believe it is true - "when you are creating, you are exercising your soul's purpose."
"The Empress, 3 of Wands,
The Star.Wow, lovely reading. Very positive and creative - the Empress is the 3rd card of the Major Arcana, and of course there is the 3 of Wands. 3 = creativity. The Empress says that you are like an earth mother and filled with love for family & friends. Not that you can put too much into those things (they are obviously hugely important), but perhaps it is time to focus on your writing - I mean, give it centre stage for a while? None of these cards talk about the *business* of writing, which is interesting - they are ALL about the creative act itself. The Empress is a fertile, creative woman. The 3 of Wands = wands are about writing & inspiration. The Star is the personification of ART. So I think this is where you could put your focus.
The 3 of Wands represents opportunity. There is tremendous potential, perhaps in something you are writing now, or a project that you really want to write but think you don't have time for. Maybe a collaborative project could be something fun & creatively fulfilling? The Star is just a magical beautiful card, saying that when you are creating, you are exercising your soul's purpose. Not only are you going to benefit from this magic, you also *bestow* magic on others. (Which personally, I'm not surprised to see in your reading. I love reading your blog - you're so generous!) If you have a true creative dream, the Star says that now is the time to put your mind to it... it could actually come true. :)"
Thanks Karen! It's good to hear that focusing on my creativity right now is the right thing to do!