Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Referral: A Success Story

By now I'm guessing that a lot of you have seen Roni (the Fiction Groupie's) big news, but if not go take a look. Don't worry, I'll wait.

Done? So now you know that Roni signed with my wonderful agent, Sara Megibow, earlier this week. Pretty darn awesome right?

What makes it even more cool is that I had a tiny hand in matchmaking Roni and Sara. Roni gives a pretty detailed description here, but the short version is that I knew Sara wanted more romance writers and I knew Roni wrote romance. I'd read a few excerpts of Roni's work on her blog, and I knew she could write well.

I wrote a few emails, and then I got to giggle and squee when Sara wrote me to tell me she loved Roni's work and do it again when Roni wrote to say she liked Sara's notes. It was fun, and it was a great diversion during my summer of very little productivity and lots of not fun things. I'm so happy for both of them and I'm hoping they'll have a quick sale once revisions are done.

I've been thinking about why Roni came to mind when Sara asked if I knew any talented romance writers, and these are my thoughts:

1. Roni has a GREAT blog. Really. It's one of the first blogs I started following and I think it appeals to writers of all genres. Her posts are helpful, well written and informative and the look of her blog is very professional.

2. She posts occasional excerpts. This is something I've haven't done much because to be honest, when I see long excerpts (and sometimes short ones too) on a blog I usually skip it, especially if the blogger posts excerpts daily or weekly. BUT, I'll read excerpts if they are part of a blogfest I'm participating in, or if I feel like the blogger is a friend.

3. And that brings me to my last thought: Roni isn't just a blogger, she's a blog participant. She reads other people's posts and comments, she gives back with contests and critiques, and she's approachable. She's the kind of blogger that makes everyone feel like a friend.

I have no doubt that Roni would have found an agent regardless of my referral, but I hope it made the process a little quicker (and the WAIT is the worst, right?)

Have any of you agented writers given your agents a successful referral? Are those of you who are not yet agented making the most of your blog presence?

Monday, August 23, 2010

That book you COULDN'T put down

Hey everybody! Sorry for my stinky blogging lately. I'm finding it really difficult to sit at the computer and write anything these days. Between the pregnancy and foggy medicine brain I have a hard time forming coherent sentences. The good news is I am 33 weeks pregnant today and it looks like I might have the baby as soon as 35 weeks, so I should be back to normal (sort of) pretty soon. :)

I may not be a stellar writer just now, but at least I can read! I've been reading some great books lately. Over the weekend I decided to reread THE HUNGER GAMES and CATCHING FIRE to prepare for tomorrow's MOCKINGJAY release. I forgot how much I love these books. Suzanne Collins is pretty much my (and about a million other people's) writing hero.

When I started reading I wanted to analyze the reason that these books are so engrossing. Then I got too engrossed to analyze anything. This is about all I can come up with.

1. The story is brilliant. The concept is unique, the tension is constant, and the relationships are compelling from page 1 of Book 1.

2. The writing is fantastic (in my opinion-- this is one of those really subjective things). Suzanne Collins is not a word waster. Every sentence, paragraph, and chapter moves the story forward. She includes the perfect amount of description. The setting and characters are vivid. I can see the world she's created. But, I haven't noticed a single time when I've skimmed a descriptive paragraph to get to the good stuff (something I do really often when I read a wordy author).

That's about it. I can't wait for MOCKINGJAY tomorrow! I wish I could make it last a few weeks, but I'm sure I'll devour it in a day or two. And I think I'm Team Whoever at this point. I'm just excited to see where Suzanne's master storytelling takes us.

I don't think I've read a book quite so gripping/hard to put down for a long, long time. And I read a lot!

So have any of you read something recently that you couldn't put down? Please share! I'll be pregnant and on bed rest or I'll have a brand new, slightly premature baby for the next few months, so I'll probably be stuck at home for a while. I could use some recommendations for awesome books! What have you read in the last few years that you COULDN'T put down? What made it so good?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

When The Words Flow

There are a few positive things that come from being pregnant and sick and mostly confined to my bed and my couch.

1. My mother-in-law comes and cleans and cleans and cleans some more AND entertains my children. Mmm hmm. Some people might have lousy mother-in-laws. I am not one of those people. My mother-in-law is an angel.

2. I get a lot of couch snuggle time with the kids.

3. I have plenty of time to read.

4.I get to attend the AWESOME WriteOnCon from the comfort of my own home.

5. I can write as much as I want.

It sounds pretty idyllic, huh? There have been some crumby days lately, I'm not going to lie, but I've had a couple of great ones too.

Last week I had a day where the kids played sweetly with each other for two hours and I was able to WRITE. It was one of those days when the words just flowed. It was one of those days when I sat down at the computer and was immediately immersed in the story and in sync with the characters. One of those days when I LOVED the story and knew it could be great. I've only had a handful of days like that since I started writing. Usually I have to work for my words, typing them out, even when I don't feel like writing. But I guess it's worth working through those days to have a magic day every once and a while.

Have you had days like this? I wonder if the people who can write books in a few months (or weeks) have days like this all the time. If you have magic days all the time, I need your secret to success!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What We Can Learn From Reading

I haven't done nearly as much writing as I would have liked to this summer, but I've done a lot of reading.

I read a variety of genres. The last 10 books I've read include:

2 Middle Grade Fantasy
2 Contemporary Middle Grade
2 YA Fantasy
1 Contemporary YA
1 Classic
1 Adult Memoir
1 Adult Fiction

I've read varying opinions about what we, as writers should read. Some people say you should read extensively in your genre, some say you should avoid your own genre (so it won't effect your manuscript and you can write something fresh), some suggest that you SHOULDN'T read while you're writing, and some say you should read new releases and NYT Bestsellers, so you can understand what people are reading now and write to the market.

I believe I should read what I feel like reading! Reading is something I do for fun, but it's also something I do to learn. I think I can learn more by reading a variety of great books, (and maybe a few that aren't so great), than I can by reading only one or two genres (or heaven forbid, nothing at all!).

A few lessons I've learned this month from reading that will help me with my writing:

-I like short chapters, they keep the action going.
-I'm not a fan of explaining or over-description. If a book takes 500 pages to tell a story that could be told in 250 pages, I will be annoyed.
-Non-linear story-telling is awesome if it's done well (I don't think I'll try it anytime soon though).
-Humor is a great tool for keeping the audience engaged. This is true for almost all genres.
-I love a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of a chapter.

Do you read while you write? Do you read outside of your genre? What do you learn from the books you read?