Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lisa's Top Five Conference Tips

Since many of us are getting ready to head out to LA for the SCBWI conference, thought I'd share my top five tips for all of you who are going and haven't been before.

1. Try not to be shy!! If you see someone you recognize from on-line, go up and introduce yourself. This is the best part of the conference, meeting people you've only known on-line. And you can even introduce yourself to someone you don't know if you're hanging in the lobby and no one is around you recognize. I know it's hard for us introverts to reach out, but usually, you'll be really glad you did.

2. If your head is swimming by day 3 or 4, it is perfectly acceptable to skip out of a session and hang on the patio or in the lobby, talking to other writers for an hour. Those little sessions talking books, craft, agents and editors (oops - am I not supposed to admit we talk about agents and editors?) can be just as helpful and informative, if not more so, than the conference sessions.

3. If you have a critique scheduled, relax, smile, and go in and listen. Be open to the suggestions your critiquer has. Don't try to defend yourself and why you did something in your story. This is not really about YOU right now. It's about getting your money's worth and getting as much information from that author, editor or agent as possible on how to make your story better. Once the critiquer is done sharing his/her thoughts, have some questions prepared about the story. Is there something you've been on the fence about? Ask! Are you wondering if a certain character is likable? Ask! Curious about market for this kind of book? Ask! First and foremost, be kind and respectful during your session. Kindness goes a really long way. Don't be pushy about submitting your manuscript, if the agent or editor is interested, he/she will let you know.

4. For unpublished writers, I think the tendency can be to go to all of the sessions where editors or agents are speaking. But make sure you go to some craft-oriented ones too. One of the best sessions I ever went to was done by Cecil Castellucci on characters. If you have a weakness or two in your writing and there is a workshop for it, GO!!! It's a great way to learn and improve your writing.

5. Don't drink too much and get lots of rest. Okay, okay, I know - it's not gonna happen. But I had to try, it's the mother in me!

Can't wait to see you!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A note from the universe and a link

I am a worrier.

I'm pretty sure there must be a worry gene and my Grandma Beavens passed it on to me. She worried about *everything*. And some of it used to drive me crazy. So yeah, I see it in me and now I'm driving myself crazy! I mean, I don't want to be a worrier about as much as I don't want to have a bumpy nose, but there it is.

I think one of the reasons I love books so much, and writing too, is because inside a story, I can stop worrying about my own stuff for awhile and worry about someone else's. Because man, I get tired of my own stuff.

Gratitude helps to combat the worry, as does getting out and doing fun things. Enjoying life is a good cure for a lot of things, don't you think?

Anyway - just yesterday, my husband and I had a conversation on the patio about some things I've been worrying about. And today, in my inbox, I got this note from the universe (you can subscribe to these notes here) and it was just what I needed.

It is OK. You are alright. You needn't second guess anymore, Lisa.

Everyone is safe. Nothing "bad" is going to happen. All of the promises have been kept.

And you could not possibly be more adored.

By me,
The Universe

Ahhh... Thanks, Universe. Sometimes a little reassurance goes a long way.

In more helpful news, you can pop over to the Crowe's Nest blog today (a blog by my agent and her clients) and read a post I wrote about learning how to write. Hope you enjoy it!!!


Friday, July 23, 2010

Happy Friday. Happy summer!!

I love summer so much!

Today I'm taking my 13 YO and a friend to the pool, then I plan to pick up some blueberries and raspberries so I can make some berry muffins tonight or tomorrow morning.

I can't believe July is almost over. How did THAT happen? I want it to slow down. I'm enjoying getting up and getting my work out in first thing, with no worries of waking kids up and getting them out the door. And even though I've had work to do this summer, working at home is so very nice. When I need a little break, I take a book and a glass of iced tea, and head to my patio for some reading time. I love sitting outside and reading. It is one of my favorite things to do in the summer.

Hope you are all enjoying your summer too!

I'll leave you with some fun, summertime cupcakes (photo courtesy of Mermaid Cottages, Tybee Island GA):

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I love the beach!

We went to the beach a couple of weekends ago so I could do some last minute research for revisions on my next YA novel, THE DAY BEFORE. The book mostly takes place in the coastal town of Newport. It was sunny, but very, very windy, so we didn't spend a ton of time on the beach - about an hour and a half or so Sunday morning, when it was the calmest. But there is lots to do in Newport, and we had a lovely time.

Funny story - we went to the lighthouse that we saw on the beach from the distance. Only, when we got there, I started asking questions, and realized there are two lighthouses in Newport, and the one I put in the book was not this one. Oh well. That mistake made for one of the best parts of the trip. Near this lighthouse, there is a hill, and my older son said, let's climb it! I was like, really? You want to? Because it looked pretty steep and I only had flip flops. He really wanted to, so we did. Best decision we ever made. It was like we were on top of the world!

Anyway, here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Motivational Monday - Clean-A-Room-A-Day week

My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance. ~Author Unknown

I'm posting this picture to make all of you who are like me, with an office that hasn't been cleaned for far too long, feel better. Because our desks may be bad, but they aren't THAT bad. Are they???

Anyway, if you're interested, I'm declaring this week Clean-A-Room-A-Day week!

Doesn't that sound like FUN!?!?

I know, some of you are busy writing. In that case, the house cleaning can wait. I feel like I've been writing for six months non-stop, and I'm taking a break now until September rolls around.

If you want to join in, all you have to do is pick one room a day to clean and declutter. Today I'm tackling the kitchen which includes the desk in the corner where I throw all the stuff that needs to be filed or looked at "later." Oh yeah, fun times. I figure it'll take me a good three hours. But then it's done, and I can sit on my patio and read with a cold glass of iced tea by my side. Ahhhhh....

Tomorrow, I'll tackle my office.

But no jumping ahead. One room at a time. One day at a time. It's how I work best.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, July 17, 2010


I wish I could go to Paris.

I wish I could eat without worrying about my thighs.

I wish I could come up with a big book idea.

I wish I could write beautiful prose to do a big book justice.

I wish I could turn off the computer for a week and not worry and wonder.

I wish I looked cute in a short, summery dress.

I wish I was 17 again, water skiing on the lake with cute boys without a care in the world.

I wish it was easier to make new friends.

I wish I could turn off my brain...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Five

1. My presentation went well. The drive over was SO beautiful. Hardly any traffic and everything is so lush and green because of the wet spring we had. I didn't get to walk on the beach - it was really windy. But the view overlooking the ocean was breathtaking.

2. It was fun to put faces to names and tweets - I met both editor Molly O'Neil and agent Jenn Laughran. They sit in on all of the presentations, so it was a little like teaching in front of the principle!

3. I have one more round of edits on THE DAY BEFORE that I'm trying to finish today. So tired. And very ready to be done with this book.

4. The amazingly talented Laini Taylor, who writes the most beautiful prose I've probably ever read, had good news a few weeks ago and more amazingly good news today. She blogs about it HERE and HERE. She says it's her fairy tale come true, and I'm telling you, it couldn't happen to a nicer, more deserving writer.

5. Let's end this five with some cupcakes, shall we? I could really use some chocolate ones about now. And yeah, how about some stars, for all of our hard work this week??

Happy weekend!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

One author's Top Ten Rules for Writers

This afternoon I'm heading to Oceanside to do a presentation on revision at the Oregon Coast Children's Book Writer's Workshop.

Yesterday someone on twitter pointed me to an article in the LA times, and what do you know, a lot of things in this article are in my revision presentation! Hooray!!

I think it's an article worth reading. The rules come from author Janet Fitch, author of WHITE OLEANDER. I think it was   who, on twitter yesterday, said something like - a big part of revision is remembering the writing rules we already know. I totally agree!!

And tomorrow, I go through THE DAY BEFORE one last time for a final round of edits. 

I'm looking forward to a week of reading, reading, reading after this busy week is finished.

Happy Wednesday!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Motivational Monday - on finishing

"Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish." ~ John Jakes

I have one more day of work on revisions for my next YA novel, and then I need to hit send and get it back into the hands of my editor. Yes, I'm nearing the finish line. For now anyway. There may be another round of light edits. But the big ones will be done.

This last day is the hardest, I think. Because doubts start to creep in, and I worry that I haven't dug deep enough, haven't done enough, have perhaps made it worse in places instead of better. There's a part of me that wants to take the thing and go hide under the covers and not come out.

But I will finish. And I will let it go, believing that I've done everything I possibly can to make it the best it can be.

I like the above quote by John Jakes because it says to me - write from your heart. It's what matters most. And with every book, that's what I try to do.

I hope with this latest story, it shows. If it does, then I'm happy.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Book Recommendation - SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR

I picked up the ARC of SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR (Little Brown, May 2010) by Matthew Quick at the Texas Library Association conference. There was a huge stack of them, and I wondered what that meant. Now, I know. This is the kind of book you want to get into as many people's hands as possible because you will read it, love it, and want others to read it too.

The voice takes a little getting used to, but once I was in a chapter or two, Amber had me and I was ready to follow her wherever she wanted to take me. The back of the book says:

"I spread hope.

I'm a hope spreader.

Amber Appleton lives in a bus. Ever since her mom's boyfriend kicked them out, Amber, her mom, and her totally loyal dog, Bobby Big Boy (aka Thrice B) have been camped out in the back of Hello Yellow. But Amber, the self-proclaimed princess of hope, refuses to sweat the bad stuff. Instead, she focuses on bettering the lives of the people around her. But then a fatal tragedy threatens Amber's optimism -- and her way of life. Can Amber survive and continue to be the princess of hope?"

This book is my kind of book. A cast of characters so real and quirky and different, you want to live inside the book and just be around them. I laughed out loud, and I cried, I mean really CRIED, and when I turned the last page, I shouted to the heavens, more books like this PLEASE!!

Award committees - I hope you are listening. Here, maybe if they have their google alerts set: Printz, Printz, Printz, Printz, Printz, Excellence in Young Adult Fiction, ALA, YALSA, Printz, Printz, Printz, Printz!!!

I found this amazing trailer on youtube that is like - whoa, so professional! Check it out, but more importantly, pick up this book. It's available now!!! You won't be sorry.


p.s. The main character in my novel coming out next year, THE DAY BEFORE, is also named Amber. This was decided long before I read this book or even knew this book existed! I have already changed one name in the book, and it was very hard, and I simply cannot change Amber. I swear it is completely coincidental!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Disney and Vroman's Recap

Thought I'd share a few pictures from our trip last week. The weather was really nice - not too hot except the last day we were there it got pretty warm. I stood in line and got tickets to see the new World of Color show and that was really cool. If any of you have a trip planned to Disney this summer, here is my tip - get to California Adventure at 9:30 am, not 10:00, which is supposedly opening time for that park. They open the gates early, and you can get a good place in line for the fast pass tickets for World of Color. Some people waited 2+ hours to get tickets - crazy!

My 13 year old son, towering over me. When did THAT happen?

I don't know if you can see, but what they did is as the water sprayed up, they showed film clips ON the water. It was amazing.

My signing at Vroman's was really nice, and I couldn't have done it without the amazing and very sweet Shannon Messenger (whose blog you should check out because she is funny. And did I say sweet?) who got me there and back to my hotel. Driving in LA is quite the adventure, and I'm SO grateful to her for doing that for me. I took her out for margaritas and dinner and here is a picture of her in a very empty restaurant at that point. Don't worry, we behaved ourselves. Sort of.

When we arrived at the bookstore, we found this LOVELY display, complete with CUPCAKES!! LOTS OF CUPCAKES! A wonderful lady who owns a cupcake shop in Pasadena brought them down from her shop, called Polkatots Cupcake Shop. She even gave me a dozen to take home to my family. Can you say AWESOMESAUCE??? They were absolutely delicious.

Some very, VERY wonderful people came out to see me - the smart and wonderful khyrinthia of the Frenetic Reader blog, author extraordinaire and extremely nice human being Michael Reisman, educator and sweet twitter friend Alyson Beecher who runs a kidlit blog HERE and is giving away a signed copy of CHASING BROOKLYN if you're interested, and long-time LJ and Facebook friend, Christine Henderson, aka [info]christine444.

Vroman's had me sign a LOT of stock, so if you've been wishing for your own signed copy of IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES, they have one! I mentioned to Connie, the events coordinator, that I knew Linda Urban, who used to work there, and she said, oh yes, Linda used to have my job!! Connie was so sweet, she actually had me sign a book for her and bought one to take home. Awwww. 

Okay, tomorrow I promise a bookish post in which I rave about two recent reads.

Hope everyone is having a great summer!

Friday, July 2, 2010

from Disney to duty calls

We spent the week at Disney, and it was very happy. Of course! The weather was wonderful, the rides fun, as always, and OH, how I loved the Aladdin show. LOVED!!! Oh, and the new World of Color show was spectacular as well. I will share a few pictures next week, and talk about my signing at Vroman's as well. Too tired now.

One of the best parts was reading not one, but TWO fabulous books on vacation, which I will also tell you about next week. Because if I do it today, I'm afraid no one will read it with the long holiday weekend, and I want everyone to know about these books!!! Do you know how much I love going on vacation and having all that time to read?? Very, VERY much. (My kids love their pool time every afternoon, and for me that means reading time. Ahhhh...)

Anyway, there is much to be done now that I'm back. My editorial letter and marked up manuscript for THE DAY BEFORE arrived a couple of weeks ago so I must dive back into those revisions. I need to finalize my powerpoint presentation for a workshop I'm doing at the Oregon Coast Children's Book Writers Workshop in like 10 days. And I need to do lots and lots of work on a super secret project.

Oy. It makes my brain hurt just thinking about it all. So, for now, I won't. Because Friday Night Lights is on!!

Wishing you a safe and happy fourth of July weekend!!