July 2010

YAY, one year of blogging! (yeah, just checked the archives and my first post was actually July 23, 2009…oops) So to celebrate the past 53 weeks of Linkfests, publishing talk, and you all putting up with my cheese obsession, I’m having my first giveaway!

So here’s the deal. I am offering a $25.00 Visa gift card (U.S. entrants only, please). Using it for books would be awesome, using at your local independent bookstore would be aweseomer! All you have to do is leave a comment recommending a book you’ve enjoyed recently, your favorite bookstore, or your favorite kind of cheese. (feel free to answer more than one, but one entry per person) Entries will close at 11:59pm central time, Friday, August 6. Make sure you include your email or blog address so I can let you know if you win.

It’s been a big year for taking my writing seriously, and I want to say thank you to everyone who’s visited, commented, and encouraged me. You all are amazing and this blog would be worthless without you!


Inspiration, giveaways, and book lists abound in this week’s Linkfest *epic echo* Linkfest *softer now* Linkfest:

Another great WOW Wednesday post from Adventures in Children’s Publishing. The moral, again, is to never ever ever give up. 

If anyone’s looking for a list of great “boy books,” The Enchanted Inkpot has you covered. 

Speaking of great book lists, From the Mixed Up Files posted this one today, highlighting books that should’ve received award recognition. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t read any of them, but they’re definitely going on the to-read list (approaching epic proportions). 

Author and wonderfully helpful blogger Jody Hedlund has a redesigned website and a giveaway to celebrate. Stop by and check out the gorgeous-ness! 


Another uber helpful author, Janice Hardy, has this post on adverbs and how they “red flag” opportunities for improvement. 

Finally, a sentimental choice for this week’s Link of Awesome: some parental love and much truth from Indexed.

So this was on YABOOKNERD awile (OK, a long time) ago, and this is all the brain power I have for a Friday 🙂

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack:

I snack all the time. Favorite reading snack is either chocolate or Skittles, same as necessary writing snacks. And Diet Coke. Always Diet Coke.

What is your favorite drink while reading?

(Note to self: read ahead). So yeah, Diet Coke. Hot chocolate if it’s rainy or cold.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?

Only in nonfiction books. The first time I marked in a book in college, I felt like such a rebel. Remember that rush you got from writing your name in the front of a classroom textbook? But in fiction books, never. I don’t even put my name in the front. Only exception: I’ll write a note on the title page if it’s a gift.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?

Used to dog-ear, thankfully stopped that. I own about a billion bookmarks, but of course never use them; random receipts stay in place much better. If I get interrupted (ex: The PopTarts are done, husband says “the cows are out”), I’ll lay the book flat.

Fiction, non-fiction, or both?

Usually fiction. Non-fiction if it’s research or farm-related.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?

I prefer to stop at chapter endings, otherwise I’ll have to re-read a page or two when starting up again. Who am I kidding, that happens anyway.

Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you?

No, but I yell at characters and make weird noises (often at the same time).

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?

I probably should but I don’t. I just take the context and move on.

What are you currently reading?

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (finally).

What is the last book you bought?

Check the Powell’s swag post.

Are you the type of person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?

Usually just one. Sometimes I’ll try one fiction and one non-fiction, but I just get caught up in the fiction. And there’re so many books to read…

Do you have a favorite time/place to read?

ALL THE TIME! Of course, that’s not always possible, so usually before bed. And in the car. I can’t imagine how different my childhood would’ve been if I got car sick.

Do you prefer series books or stand alones?

No preference, but I do hate waiting for the next book in a series to be released 🙂

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?

There are so many great books and authors out there! My family and friends tend more toward young adult than middle grade, so my John Green books, The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, and Shiver are making the rounds.

How do you organize your books? (by genre, title, author’s last name, etc.)

I had a very specific series-based random system growing up (I know it sounds weird…and it was), then I went through an alphabetizing phase. Then, when we moved a few months ago, we inherited this bookshelf John’s great-grandfather made (which is awesome), but the top shelves are really small (which interrupts the alphabetizing). So they’re all over the place now. (Unpacking sounded like this: “Ooo, Dealing with Dragons is small. And The Odyssey. And, God bless them, all these Redwall books!”)

What are your answers to some of these?

And Linkfest is back! With no further ado, the awesomeness:

Uber-agent Nathan Bransford had this great take on “undercooking” your novel (OK, so all his posts are great, but this one referenced Top Chef, so it makes the Linkfest. That’s how I roll). The moral of the story: “Writing isn’t about capturing real life as it actually happens. Writers have to elevate life and add spices and all the rest.”

Wendy Lawton over at the Between the Lines blog did a great series on “career killers,” or behaviors that get authors in trouble. I was just reading along when she hit me with the one titled “Playing Around the Edges.” I admit, I have been spending more time on blogs than writing. Lesson learned, medicine swallowed, I just hope my WIP is ready for the revision storm that’s coming…

The uber-awesome middle grade-focused From the Mixed Up Files blog has this illuminating list of beginning writers’ biggest mistakes. A must-read, for encouragement along with learning.

Author Lara Zielin posted this delicious and wonderful idea to reward hard working, underappreciated folks. Who have you rewarded today?

Weekly Link of Awesome: The Old Spice guy plugs for libraries. Need I say more? (via Leila)

I didn’t intend to be missing in action all last week, but I have good excuses (making excuses being one of my specialties). So hopefully Linkfest will be back on Wednesday and I’ll think of something relevant and publishing-related for Friday, but for today, the things I actually accomplished last week instead of blogging:

  1. It all started with Shannon’s post about pie. Pictures of baked goods make me hungry. So I made chocolate chip zucchini cookies, peach jam scones, and peach cobbler. YUM!

    Helloooo cobbler!

  2. After baking came cleaning the kitchen and doing dishes. Ick.
  3. My aunt came to milk cows and make cheese! Despite it being frakkin’ hot and humid, she persevered. Doesn’t she look proud of our queso blanco?

    Say cheese

  4. I got the first three chapters of my revised WIP ready for critique group. Such a good feeling to be making progress, no matter how slow.
  5. My sister turned 21. Needless to say, my Friday was spent celebrating and Saturday and Sunday spent recovering, but we started the party by painting some pottery. Munchkin painted a practical mug, while I chose a gnome. Can you blame me? He’s adorable!

How have you guys been spending your summer? Any recipes to share or good stories?

I just finished reading Jacqueline West’s The Books of Elsewhere: The Shadows (yay, Powell’s trip) and loved it. But it also raised a question I’ve been thinking about for awhile. I first heard about the book by stalking reading the Upstart Crow agency blog and was reminded about it on Twitter. There are plenty of articles about author platforms, but as writers, should we be looking for agents and editors who have strong platforms themselves?

There are many agents and editors who generously share their time and knowledge to give writers insight into the publishing industry. Writers are also readers, and usually voracious ones. So when your book is released, how much of an impact can an agent or editor’s followers have on sales and buzz?

On the other hand, would you rather have an agent/editor who isn’t spending time on blogging or Twitter or other social media? Many people say “Spend your time writing the best book you can,” instead of spending lots of time on social media. Should the same principle apply to agents and editors?

For my part, I think social media use is just another variable to consider when finding the right fit in an agent or editor. If you are active on blogs and Twitter (which I assume most of you are), maybe you want that kind of contact and interaction. What are your thoughts? Does online activity impact which agents/editors you target with your work?

Alrighty, Wednesday. Taking a break from applying aloe to annual 4th of July sunburn to deliver weekly links:

I’ve had some moments of doubt during the last few weeks, moments when farm chores and full time jobs and bills and housework were crowding hopes of writing out of my head, and then I saw this link from Adventures in Children’s Publishing’s weekly roundup. Read and take to heart Sherrilyn Kenyon’s journey through publication and life.

Here’s another author journey, this time from Suzanne Young (again from AiCP). I sense a theme for this week: never give up!

So now that we’ve thrown off the mantle of doubt and amped up the persistence, check out Agent Jennifer’s tips for self promotion, and be looking out for part 2.

Awesome link of the week: Star Wars pancake molds. Seriously. Christmas shopping for half the family DONE! (and of course, one set for me) Thanks Leila!

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