April 2010

My husband and I just listed our house and have received some interest for showings, which is great. But after we return to an empty house and a realtor card, I want immediate feedback. What did they think? What’s the level of interest? Are they going to make an offer? And then it hit me: I’d better get used to it, because this must be what it feels like to query.

Think about it. You work hard to get the house as cleaned up and sparse and attractive as possible. You enlist professional help from someone in the business. You have a listing of the basic information (the pitch). Someone shows interest and gives the house a more thorough examination (the manuscript request). And, in the best scenario, offers to buy! Sometimes the whole process can take a LONG time, but you have to be persistent and willing to make changes.

This is another opportunity for me to practice patience. It is a good thing (she keeps repeating to herself). But when I’m ready to query, I hope the manuscript is ready and clean, not like my house, where I have to remember to put the books back on their shelves and take down the bras drying on hangers.

Have you survived either of these processes? Any tips?


Happy Wednesday peoples! I’ll have presentation reports from the SCBWI-Iowa conference starting Monday, but for now, it’s Linkfest time:

Livia Blackburne gives a fantastic summary from a Harvard Writers Conference. My favorite point: “People think they’re reading because they want to find out what happens, but actually, they’re reading because the author made them care about the characters.” (author Michael Palmer).

Before you send out your writing, search for these common and weak words/phrases (via Nathan Bransford).

Agent Jennifer Laughran presents her take on rejection. Everyone should read this! (Seriously. Go Now…Are you back? OK.)

Galleycat asked readers for the best books on writing. Some of them I have, some I’ve never heard of. Which of your favorites didn’t make the top ten?

And this week’s awesomeness from Indexed: Snack Time!

Breaking news: a second piece of awesomeness has come to my attention. Does it bother you when people type “u” instead of “you”? Or leave out apostrophes? Or lastly, and most importantly, combine “a” and “lot” into a single entity? Is this the post for you! Enjoy. (thanks Janet Reid)

Good morning all and Thank Goodness It’s Friday! Especially this Friday, because in a few hours I’m headed to the SCBWI-Iowa spring conference. Waiting for me in the Quad Cities are fun people I’ve gotten to interview for the Writing Cave, Twitter tweeps, my first official manuscript critique (*yikes*), and of course, Mom and Dad 🙂

So watch for reports on presenters bringin’ the knowledge, and hope to see some of you there!

Happy-ish Wednesday everyone. Let the Linkfest begin:

If you’re on Twitter, you’ve achieved immortality via the Library of Congress. Congratulations! As reported here by GalleyCat, the Library of Congress is archiving every public tweet ever sent. That’s over 50 million per day. So, have fun with that…

Count on Chip MacGregor to be able to sum up writing advice into ten bullet points. Valuable advice that covers all the basics.

Or, if you’re not much for rules (“they’re more like ‘guidelines’ anyway”), check out this week’s link to my new favorite website Indexed. Where are you on the curve?

While on the “chart” kick, are you classified as a nerd, a dork, a dweeb, or a geek? (via YABOOKNERD)

Also from YABOOKNERD, it’s a Harry Potter poster! Ooo ooo fangirl squeal!

Finally, for everyone headed to conferences soon (SCBWI-Iowa starts Friday, hoorah!), Forbes has 10 tricks to remembering names. Now I just have to figure out how to put the faces with the names I remember…solution: everyone wear your name tags!

Anyone else going to SCBWI-Iowa this weekend?

In honor of National Library Week, some of my favorite places on earth:

Davenport Public Library

I have vague recollections of the Davenport (Iowa) Public Library and my first library card: a happy red rectangle of plastic, signing my kindergarten kid signature in the white space. I remember thinking “Someday I will read every book in here.” Well, I think you all know how that’s going, but maybe I’ll refine that goal to “Someday I will read every book in the children’s section.” 🙂


Fuquay-Varina Public Library

My first paying job (other than babysitting) came at the Fuquay-Varina (North Carolina) Public Library during high school. Actually, I wasn’t hired at first because I wasn’t around during the summer, but in the fall the librarian recognized my Mom and asked if I was still interested. (um, YES!) I was the page for the children’s section which, needless to say, was awesome. I kept running across picture books I’d loved as a kid and discovered new ones by some favorite authors. To this day, I’ll find myself alphabetizing based on the colors of tape they put on the bindings (A and B are red, C and D are blue. True story) I also gained tons of respect for librarians because, holy cow, people can be rude and those kids book shelves are ALWAYS out of order! My co-workers got me hooked on maple-covered nut candy things they always kept behind the circulation desk and I really enjoyed the whole “government holiday = day off” situation. The other prime part of this job was that I could move my name to the top of waiting lists (teehee) and my sister had just introduced me to Harry Potter, so guess who got the library’s first copy of Goblet of Fire 🙂


Pickerington Public Library

After graduating from Iowa State, I moved to a suburb of Columbus, Ohio and found myself on my own for entertainment. Shocker that I spent lots of time at the library! I started volunteering one or two nights a week after work and was assigned to the two children’s librarians (notice a pattern here? I think it was a sign), who had me prepare materials for story time. I got to play with construction paper and glue sticks to my heart’s content, and rarely left without some new reading material as well. What is it about being trusted with collecting items from the book drop? Anyone else ever had that warm fuzzy feeling?

From the beginning, libraries have been huge parts of my life. Every time I walk through a library door, it’s like a shot of peace and inspiration gets injected into my veins. All those books, all those words, available for anyone to experience. Can you think of anything better? Thank you to all those librarians and teachers. Keep doing what you’re doing. Readers, what are your favorite library memories?

Aaaaand I just realized it’s Wednesday and thus, time for Linkfest. (Stayed up late catching up on Glee. You understand.) On tap this week:

The Intern’s guest Lindsey Carmichael speaks from experience on what sells books (hint: as an author, you can’t do everything, but you can do something!)

Check out Alexandra’s 10 Things To Know About Revising on the Murderati blog, including a nice summary of the Three Act Structure.

New to Twitter, or just looking for publishing folks to follow? The Huffington Post has a list of the 50 Best Book People to Follow on Twitter. (No, I’m not on there. Must’ve been number 51, hehe. @SMullenGilbert if you’re interested)

For a weekly bit of responsibility, agent Rachelle Gardner has a helpful post on taxes for the self-employed. Oh, for the day I have self-employed income…

Finally, I’m probably the last person on earth to discover the vlogbrothers channel on YouTube, home of author John Green and his brother Hank, but just in case I’m not, click here for awesomeness. I will be on my way to a bookstore to find a copy of Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

Fellow SCBWI member Peg Finley is visiting The Writing Cave today to discuss social media and writing.

Peg, thanks for stopping by! You are very active online, with Twitter and JacketFlap accounts and a blog. How do you balance keeping these accounts active and writing?

Honestly, it can be a challenge. There are days when I am a little crazy, like when I have two sick kids, two submissions due and two critiques plus a commitment to someone on Twitter to finish up an interview. But, with a little patience it is do-able. It’s a matter of keeping my priorities straight. I have a huge calendar where dates and times go to keep it all straight.

As luck would have it I am not someone who needs a lot of sleep. I never have been. No kidding, I just have more “awake” time. As an insomniac who deals with chronic pain I do a lot of writing when I am in pain. It helps me keep my mind off the pain, at least some days. LOL.

The other thing is that I am constantly scribbling things down all day long … sometimes in the strangest places. For instance when I got tired during shopping with a friend, I sat down on the bench and waited for her to finish her shopping. While I sat, I wrote. Once when an idea came to me and I had no paper, just a marker, I wrote the gist of the idea on the side of a gallon milk jug so I wouldn’t forget it. 🙂 I start probably three quarters of my writing that way. Then on my weekend with no kids, I write most of the weekend. (I’m helping my brother raise his two boys.)

Hear that writers? Make sure you always have gallons of milk on hand 🙂 Do you have any advice for writers getting started with social media?

Getting started with the “social medias” is a lot like any other aspect of writing. I recommend doing your research. There are so many different social medias that a writer can use. It’s a tad daunting to say the least. I use Twitter, Facebook, and Jacketflap and my blog primarily, though am open to others if I can find a way to be more disciplined.

First ask yourself what is it that you as a writer want the social media to help you with? Will you be using it to chat? Networking?  Book Promotion? Build a writer’s platform? I use them for all of the above.

Once you’ve determined the purpose you want to use it for, then you need to determine which ones suit you and your writing life. Research the ones that you find appealing. Then, select one or more that you know that you will use regularly. It’s in investment in your career for you to become a part of a community. Many of the people I know and have interviewed have come from the contacts I’ve made through these media sites. I also use the various media sites for research for articles to include as links to on my blog and to send to my three critique groups. I send my Twitter comments on my blog as well.

If you chose to participate in more than one media, I’d suggest writing your passwords and info down somewhere safe. I also keep a daily work-list which I schedule in my times to visit the various sites. It can be easy to spend a lot of time online if you are not disciplined.

There are so many other things that I could do, should do and may someday will do.

Great advice Peg. It’s like getting a dog: research, and find the ones that fit your time, location, and lifestyle 🙂 What are some lessons you’ve learned since starting your blog and other online accounts?

I am not a computer geek at all so there are all kinds of things I needed to learn before I got my blog up and running. I’m still working on that. I like to stretch myself as a writer so this has been great for me.

I am fairly shy in a lot of ways and have been working my way through that. Social medias have helped me expand my horizons. There are so many people that I would never have gotten the chance to know if it was not for the internet.

Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned in regards to blogging and my participation on the sites like Twitter etc. has been to be totally open to unexpected opportunities. I’ve found if I am willing to invest in others and help them by sharing my thoughts and ideas as well as my time, people return that back to me. I genuinely like and respect the people I have contact with. Besides, other writers know what it is like being a writer in ways that no one else does. We support one another.

Industry trends are often discussed on the various chats. It is not uncommon for editors, agents and others in the writing fields to participate in a chat. It gives me a feel for what they are wanting in submission, etc.

I recently got on Skype with family and figure some day I just might use it for author visits.

I agree about the chats; anyone on Twitter should check out #kidlitchat on Tuesdays and #yalitchat on Wednesdays. On a more personal level, Peg, you’ve recently had some articles accepted for publication, congratulations! What are you working on now?

Thank you. I’m slowly but surely pursuing my goal.

What am I working on? I just finished a guest blog for Becky Levine’s blog and well. Let’s see, it’s 4:50 am and the grocery shopping list is finished. My five emails in boxes are cleaned out. (a personal one for family, 3 for crit groups and the other is for newsletters and notifications from Twitter/Facebook/Jacketflap and my blog so I don’t miss the opportunity to reply to someone. I separate things so my inboxes don’t get too crazy) A to-do list is ready for the two nephews for after school. Still, on my plate for today is this for you, three crits, and a blog entry on picture books. I just checked out New Frontier Publishing to see if they are some place I might want to submit to in the future. I have an idea about a picture book that I want to explore. Last but not least, I’m getting ready for NaPiWriWee with Paula Yoo in May. 

In case you haven’t guessed, I multi-task a lot. I wish I could clone me. You know, one for writing and one for all the other things I have to do.

Oh, clones would be nice! Finally, what is your favorite kind of cheese and why?

I like most types of cheese but plain old cheddar is my most favorite. I like simple foods. My life is complicated enough.

True story. Some days you just can’t beat cheddar. Thanks so much for visiting, Peg, and good luck with your many different hats 🙂 Visit Peg on her blog, JacketFlap profile, Facebook, and Twitter account and check out her recently published article for Guardian Angel Kids.

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