September 2010


It’s time for pumpkins and fall colors, and that also means World Dairy Expo. That’s right, there is a World Dairy Expo. Picture 2,500 of the world’s best dairy cattle with 65,000 visitors from 90 countries. And I’ll be there all week (and therefore not blogging or reading blogs). Just standing on concrete, smiling desperately at people walking through the trade show. But there will be amazing grilled cheese sandwiches to eat everyday, so that’s something.

So, in honor of Expo week, I’m collecting favorite grilled cheese recipes, ice cream flavors, and cow stories. Ready, go!

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I stumbled upon notes from the WIP I forced on my poor critique group my first few months with them and started re-reading. I knew the thing had some major problems, but couldn’t help falling back in love with some of the characters and the banter (these are a few of my faaaaavorite things…). And a little voice in the back of my head whispered, “You could fix this.”

But do I want to invest the time and energy in re-building the world, adjusting the plot, etc.? I have a great WIP that needs a finished second draft and at least three new shiny ideas poking at my brain.

When did you say “enough is enough” to your first “real” WIP? Or did it go the distance?

Linkfest is back! It’s been a dreary week in Iowa, making butt-in-chair look like a better idea than usual. And my Google Reader is down under 300 unread items, yipee 🙂 Some of my favorite finds:

The always helpful Donald Maass lists questions to ask your main character throughout the novel to ensure character growth in this post on Writer Unboxed.

Ingrid has a series of summaries from Gail Carson Levine’s address at the 2010 SCBWI LA conference. This one focuses on plot and predictatbility, but be sure to also check out the posts on character development and surprise and tension.

David leaves no stone unturned and gives 100% in this list of clichés. Which ones are you guilty of overusing?

Rachel at Books & Such is running a fantastic series of Things Writers Should Keep Track Of. So far, Part1, Part 2, and Part 3.

If you need any motivation to keep going this week, check out mental_floss’ list of “10 People Who Did It Anyway.” (prepare to be humbled as well)

Link of Awesome: Usually my Venn Diagram fix is met by Indexed, but this week’s nod goes to mental_floss for their post of 9 Silly Venn Diagrams. I hope you enjoy (if you don’t, we might not be able to remain friends…).

 So that’s it for this week’s edition, folks. What’ve I missed?

So here’s what my Friday will involve:

  • One rented cargo van
  • One tarp
  • Six bags of softener salt
  • 892.04 miles of highway
  • One month old calf

What’s the strangest work trip you’ve ever had?

Yes, it is Wednesday and yes, again, there is no Linkfest. Here’s the thing, I got back from a work trip late last night only to discover an email that said, that’s right, you need to rent another car and leave on Thursday. So now my head is spinning around and around and it’s all I can do to force myself to do laundry and pack another suitcase.

ANYWHO, I think this would be a good time to try out an audio book. I’ve never listened to a book while driving, although I did try to learn Irish while driving and, let me tell you, that was very distracting. So I need some recommendations! Any books you’ve heard read aloud that are awesome?

Wendy Delsol is the debut author of Stork, which was just named to the ALA’s list of “Best Fiction for Young Adult Nominations.” Congrats and thanks for stopping by The Writing Cave, Wendy!

Tell us about your journey to publication.

Following a medical scare, I decided to pursue my dream job: writing novels. Once I’d made that decision, I put my butt in the chair and wrote one. It was awful. Truly horrible. But the important thing was I loved the process. We were living in L.A. at the time, so I was lucky to have access to the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. While taking a year of writing courses, I learned craft, met other aspiring writers, gained confidence, and wrote my second novel. Still not good enough, but better. My husband’s job then moved us to Des Moines, where I attended the University of Iowa’s Summer Writing Festival, joined a critique group, and wrote my third novel in the women’s fiction genre.

All along, I’d been querying agents, even after that first monstrosity. Ugh. For my fourth book, I tried my hand at young adult, because, inevitably, my adult fiction had a teen character who was—well—a page hog. I wrote a first draft for Stork in five months. I queried my agent, Jamie Brenner, on a Tuesday. She asked for a full the same day and signed me on Friday. She sold the manuscript to Candlewick three months later.

What a great story of perseverance! Stork incorporates Norse mythology, which sounds awesome. Was that included from the beginning or was it added later? What was the research process like?

In order to heighten my main character’s emotional unease, I made her the new kid in town. I brought her from the beaches of L.A. to something drastically different: Northern Minnesota. Knowing that there are pockets of Scandinavian communities in Minnesota, I went with an Icelandic heritage for Katla, because even its name evokes a cold and foreboding place. Once my (entirely fictional) town of Norse Falls had been created, the pre-Christian cosmology of Norse lore lent itself perfectly to my world of human Storks, deliverers of souls. The research was fun. I’ve always been fascinated with other cultures and their history. I do, however, want to stress that Stork is a work of fiction. I take liberties, big-time liberties.

Any hints on Stork sequels or related projects?

About halfway through Stork, I knew I had more than one book in Katla and Jack’s story. By the end of that first manuscript, I had decided on a trilogy. Book two, Frost, is written and in the editorial phase. Book three, as yet untitled, is still nothing more than a very rough outline. If all goes well, this will be my third winter hunkering down and pounding out a manuscript.

You’ve put in years of work, and since you sold Stork, you’ve inked two additional book deals. Were you working on all three projects at one time? Are you superwoman in disguise? 🙂

The chronology of events is a little confusing but it went like this: I wrote my third adult novel, The McCloud Home for Wayward Girls, during the period of November 2007-September 2008. I wrote Stork from October 2008-February 2009, a time during which I was actively shopping Wayward. One agent, in fact, had had my full in her hands for several months. When Stork was finished, I began sending that out to agents, too.

Jamie was the first agent to offer representation and was so enthusiastic about Stork that I knew she was the right partner for me. Stork sold in May of 2009. During the summer and fall of 09 and winter of 09-10, I revised Wayward for Jamie (twice), edited Stork with Candlewick, and wrote Frost. Wayward sold to Penguin in April and Frost sold to Candlewick in May (of 2010). So, while I technically sold three manuscripts in one calendar year, they were all written at different times. Not superwoman, by any stretch, but incredibly motivated. Beware the writer scorned by years of rejection!

Wow, that really shows what butt-in-chair can do! Any additional words of advice for aspiring authors?

Tell everyone you know about your publishing dreams. That way, on those long, dark, blocked days, you won’t give up. Verbalizing the goal and making it public just makes it that much harder to abandon.

I know you’re looking forward to this question: what’s your favorite cheese and why?

My sister in Chicago has turned me on to a cheese called Explorateur. It’s a triple-cream made from cow’s milk. OK, so I had to google it to provide that information. Anyway, it’s white and silky and utterly decadent with a fat content rivaling only the butter-sculpted Elvis at the Iowa State Fair.

This was a serious first: a favorite cheese I hadn’t heard of! Now frantically searching the Internet to find…

Lastly, who are your picks to win the U.S. Open?

I love this question because you’ve obviously done your homework about my little tennis obsession. And now I’m rethinking the advice I gave to aspiring writers. Here’s an addendum, anyway: On those really frustrating writing days, find something you can take a really good whack at (note the operative word is something). Now back to your question. At the start of the Open, I had Murray and Federer in the finals with Murray taking the title. Oops. Murray went out in the early rounds. Looking at today’s standings (as I’m typing this it’s Wednesday, September 8th at 11:30 pm), I’m predicting a Federer-Nadal finals with Federer winning his 17th grand slam tournament. Go Roger. You’re the best, ever! [Sarah’s update: Federer ousted, boo] And thanks, Sarah, for indulging me.

Thank you, Wendy, for taking time out of your super busy schedule! Stork is released on October 12 and Wendy will be making appearances all over Iowa. Check out her website and Twitter for more information.

There are few protagonists I enjoy more than Conn in Sarah Prineas’ The Magic Thief series. He’s funny, bold, adventurous, and totally relatable. The supporting cast is awesome too, especially Benet, who makes me hungry with all the biscuit-making. The third book in the series, The Magic Thief: Found, is now available (support an Indie, find your nearest one here). Sarah has been hard at work with new books that I can’t wait to read. Learn more at The Magic Thief website, Sarah’s website, her blog, and Twitter. My interview with her is here.

That’s the end of Random Acts of Publicity week, folks. Are there any books or author friends you’d like to highlight? Give them a shout-out in the comments!

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