Saturday, March 31, 2007

Writing mags

The poor blog has been neglected as of late. School has completely taken over my life! I have three weeks of class and then finals, so I've been swamped with papers, studying and projects. I've been reading so much for school and eyeing my YA books. I can't wait to start reading for fun again. The weekend is already half over and I've yet to tackle a few major projects for school that are on my list.

I took a few hours this afternoon and realized that my writing magazines are out of control! I've got large plastic trunks filled with The Writer, Writer's Digest, Romance Writer's Report, Poets & Writers and newsletters. I refuse to throw away any of them, so I plan to start putting them in plastic sleeves and then into binders.

What do you do with your writing magazines? Keep them forever or let them go? Any suggestions on organization?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Website Update!

My Website has been updated with a complete (almost) list of my publishing credits and a new background. :) Check it out and let me know what you think.

Monday, March 26, 2007

PowerTracker died

I don't know if anyone else uses PowerTracker, but I got the program as a limited version when I ordered a writing magazine a few years ago. I popped it and got hooked. I've been using that limited version for a couple of years and when my computer malfunctioned about 4 months ago, (Thank God for Gateway customer service!) I was no longer able to reload PowerTracker onto the computer so I had to store all of my data on the CD. For those of you who aren't familiar with PT, it keeps track of every query, article, agent query, idea, partial, etc that you write and/or send out. It stores the editor's names, addresses, the date the piece of writing was sent, alerts you when it's time for a follow up and does many other wonderful things. Anyway, this morning I inserted my PT CD and it wouldnt' work. It skipped and skipped and refused to load. I cried, threatened, screamed and begged the CD to work. Yes, it's all my fault for not backing up this data. I know, it's stupid.

I tried the CD a dozen times and a little while ago, by some miracle, it worked. I saved all of the data and ejected the CD. I tried it again to see what would happen and it now will not work. I'm thanking my lucky stars that I was able to get my info off the CD. I would have lost so much data and I'd probably send magazines queries I've already sent just because I can't remember all of the queries I send. So, the moral of the story: I need a new PT and I promise to back up my data at least once a week. I always backup my book and articles, but I never thought about that data. Scary.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Gossip Girls Pilot and more

Ah, it has been a nice Sunday so far! :) It's about 87 degrees here today, so I washed the car and hosed the porch, all while trying to come up with a new pitch for my agent. I think I may have one, folks! I wonder if I'll try to pull a NaNo and write it in 30 days and then go back and edit before anyone ever sees it. I've been meaning to e-mail Chris Baty at NaNo and share my news with him, but haven't had the time yet. Does anyone listen to the NaNo radio addresses each week? I haven't in a while, but I did today. It's all about e-book publishing, for those of you who are interested.

My girl Ella told me that Gossip Girls is becoming a pilot for The CW. Anyone else hear about that? I Googled it and found that Josh Schwartz (creator of "The OC") is set to produce the show. I'm incredibly curious to see how that goes. Apparently, there was supposed to be a movie with the amazing Amy Sherman-Palladino ("Gilmore Girls!") writing and Lindsay Lohan starring, but it fell through.

Now, I'll spend the rest of the day on school work. I spent about ten hours editing on Friday and sent off a few rewrites on Sat, so it's back to school now. 3 more weeks of classes...gotta keep reminding myself! :)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Sale and weekend plans

So, about two weeks ago I sent a query to Guideposts Sweet 16 about a great teenage girl doing some amazing charity work. I got an e-mail today from 16 agreeing to take the piece! Woo hoo! It's only my second acceptance from 16 and with each piece I write, it becomes a bigger project. I'm writing the piece for their "Positive Thinker" column and soon, I hope to get a full length article published in the mag. I'll be writing the piece this weekend and hope to get it shipped off to 16 on Monday or Tuesday.

The weekend plans are shaping up like this: article for 16, edits on manuscript, lots of homework and reading and trying to add more miles to my exercise routine.

What are your weekend plans? If anyone wants to match experiences with Gaby, she'll be downing sushi! :)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

distractions! distractions!

Oooh, the weather has been simply lovely this week! Spring has definitely began in Florida as it has been in the lower eighties all week and I've been itching to visit the beach. (Contrary to popular belief, Florida DOES have cold weather. A few weeks ago, we were 18 degrees!) I've been dragging my laptop onto the back porch and have to fend off tiny lizzards while I type. The occasional tree frog pops up and I spend fifteen minutes holding it. I then place it back on the house and try to grab a lizzard or two. I always manage to catch them in a dark brown stage instead of when they're a vibrant green. As you can see, I'm a complete nature junkie and the weather has been distracting me from my writing.

What's your biggest distraction?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

MFA info

Big thanks to everyone who e-mailed me with suggestions for MFA programs! I truly appreciate your e-mails and suggestions. :) In particular, a big thanks goes out to Jessy and the writers on the Verla Kay forums. I'm getting info and insight into schools ranging from NYU to Seton Hill. Keep 'em coming if you have MFA advice.

This week, I'm swamped with school papers. I'm trying to read Obi, or, The History of Three- Fingered Jack, Adam Bede and a book for my humanities class all while trying to get ahead and write a few papers early. I hate dealing with papers during finals week, so I'm trying to do them now.

I workshopped my second memoir piece yesterday and it went great! I got a lot of helpful feedback and I didn't feel uncomfortable presenting my topic. I received many "wow, risky topic! I like it!" and "you have such a calm, detached narrator." A well-respected guy in my class says both of my pieces read very much like the wonderful Annie Proulx. I've read Brokeback Mountain twice, but have not read The Shipping News. Guess I'll have to check that out.

Who does your writing get compared with?

EDIT: (Sorry to my FeedBurner subscribers who will be getting double emails today!) I was looking over my blog viewers and yesterday, I had someone from this server (Oxygen (Harpo Productions)) on both of my blogs! How cool is that! Yes, I know it was a mistake that someone surfed on but still, that's exciting. :) Wave at Oprah, everyone! LOL

Monday, March 19, 2007

Long or short?

This has been a quiet week for magazine queries. I've been busy with school and working on manuscript revisions and the mags have been neglected for a few days. Is it just me or does it seem like teen mags are folding left and right? Teen People is gone, I think Elle Girl went online and Teen has reduced its number of issues. For freelancers in the teen market, that's bad news. I've been trying to work up the right query for Teen and desperately want to get something in that mag before it either folds or switches to online only. I was surprised (and pleased!) to learn that 60% of their content is freelance written, so that's good news. The freelance content for Seventeen is only around 20%, so I haven't quired them yet. I wish both mags did e-queries, but they're still using good old snail mail.

So, I'm shifting back and forth between short projects (magazine articles) and long projects (my manuscript.)

What do you prefer working on? Short pieces with quicker feedback or longer pieces with more development?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Grants and Fellowships

Today's topic: writing grants and fellowships. Last week, I started researching artist grants in Florida and soon I'll expand my search nationwide. Keeping up with the deadlines is half the battle. Florida offers several grants to professional writers (meaning the applicant cannot be enrolled in college when applying for the grant) and there are many, many pages of guidelines, rules and suggestions to follow. Nationally, there are generous screenwriting grants (the competition is quite stiff, however) and companies such as ABC and WB offer TV writing grants. ABC has a daytime and primetime writing grant, but no news is available on it at this time. :/

The WB offers a fellowship where winners live near the WB production lot and study TV writing for up to a year.

Nickelodeon offers a fellowship for writers quite like the WB's award.

Scouring the Internet for these grants and fellowships takes time, but I think it's worth it. Grants can be used to fund workshops, build a Website, buy a new laptop and other things that a writer could use.

Has anyone applied for a grant or fellowship before? If not, would you apply?

Friday, March 16, 2007

The New Crop of Young Writers

(Got a couple of ideas sitting near this lovely fountain at my school yesterday!)

The list of writers published recently as teens and young-twenty-somethings is growing. A few that I keep my eye on are Jen Lynn Barnes, Robyn Schneider and Bennett Madison. I know there must be more, but those writers are writers to look up to and aspire to achieve their level of success. Age doesn't seem to be a factor in this business. I've heard people say that they've heard "you're too old" or "you're too young" but I don't think that matters. If the writing is of high quality and there's a story to tell, who cares about the writer's age?

I heard that a 14 year old Australian girl got a two book deal from Harper Collins. She submitted an unsolicited manuscript that made its way out of the slush pile and into an editor's hands. Did they care that she was fourteen? I think not. If anything for young writers, editors and agents want to work with young people who could have a long, lucrative career.

I'm blogging on this because I get the occasional e-mail with "I'm fifteen. No one will publish a fifteen year old, right?" and I e-mail that person back with a resounding "age doesn't matter! Submit your work!"

The only time I've faced scrunity about my age and my options as a writer are from people in my immediate circle. Doubts swirl that since such few writers in their forties have agents, surely that means I can't have one. It's a quiet topic in my life with some because of the doubts and because those people are certain that 20 year olds won't get any R-E-S-P-E-C-T in the publishing industry.

So, young writers who read my blog, step up and prove those nay-sayers wrong!

Happy weekend! :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Second Workshop

Tomorrow, I hand in my second piece for my nonfiction memoir workshopping class. This time, I went deeper, darker and wrote a very personal piece. Printing it felt odd and I'm sure I'll feel a bit self-conscious tomorrow when I hand it out to people. But, my eventual goal is to write a memoir to turn into a screenplay, so I figured this was the first step in getting bits and pieces of my stories down on paper. People seemed interested in my subject matter from my first workshop, so I think my classmates will also be interested in this piece. Who knows though...writing is so subjective. Overall, with only five weeks left in my workshop, I think workshopping is a good way to see how peers feel about your work, but it is most certainly not my favorite form of writing. I'm not a fan of feeling pressured to commment on someone else's work (or fail in participation) after not having much time to absorb it and without know what he/she truly intended to write. I'm fine with critiquing fiction, but nonfiction is so personal. Anyone else done workshopping before?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Plan

I'm looking ahead and planning each month of the year I won't be in school. Pathetic, I know. But, I have this fear of wasting time and I'm the type of person who has to be working all of the time. I'm a complete work-a-holic and I fidget if I sit still. So, the official list is shaping up like so:

12 Months of No School (sort of)

* Enroll in UCF's online writing classes
* Take and pass the GRE (the math practice is gonna kill me!)
* Sell my manuscript (hopefully!)
* Write a new YA (darker, edgier)
* Write a screenplay (the plotting is now underway)
* Write a spec TV episode (I think "General Hospital" for a soap and "Desperate Housewives" for primetime)
* Sell as many articles as possible (That means a least a query a day- I've never accomplished that before)
* Read a million (or zillion) books

Ah, now that I see that in print, I feel better. :) Share your summer plans!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Counting down...

Five more weeks until graduation! Originally, I tried to graduate from college at 19, but now it will have to be 20 and 2 months. :) I'm not attached to my college and am thrilled to be able to spend a year writing before I go to graduate school. I'll probably take classes online from UCLA Extension or UCF's Certificate in Professional Writing until I get into grad school. (Any great program recommendations, anyone?) It's also exciting to have that time to work on my current MS, write a new book and do the zillions of other writing projects I've been dying to do. I was whining a bit about going back to school tomorrow, but 99 percent of the time, I'm a nerd. I love school, love to study and enjoy learning. I'm just ready to take a break for a bit...

UPDATE: RAW just e-mailed! She said she lost my number and told me to call again. I'm doing that ASAP! :)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

It's about time!

Update: Okay, I read a great article about authors using MySpace to get more publicity. I'm a MySpace virgin and decided to sign up today. I still have NO idea how to add friends, yet. (Anyone know how?) Anyway, check me out here and I'll fully update that soon. Hey, if MySpace is good enough for Meg Cabot...

Friday, March 9, 2007

the end of spring break

Spring break draws to a close (back to school on Tuesday!) and I feel good what what I accomplished this week. I sold 5 articles, sent a handful of queries and read five or six books that I've been eyeing. Today, I'll have my piece for Girls' Life finished and sent off. :)

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Verla Kay Boards

Anyone else addicted to Verla Kay's forums? I joined a little while ago and spend waaay too much time there. So many topics and so many writers to mingle with. I'm "jessicab_87" on the boards and I hope you all check them out here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Harlequin Pink

I went to the library last night to raid the teen/YA section and get a handle on all of the new books. Among my picks- the fabulous Lauren Barnholdt's Reality Chick and How to Ruin a Summer Vacation by another author (I forget her name). As I was browsing the YA scection, I came across Harlequin Pink- a line of manga (comic book) romances for tweens and teens. Apparently, they've been out since 2004, but I've never seen them. Anyone else heard of these? It's important to me to write for all different genres so I may see what it takes to write one. I know you don' t have to illustrate, which I could NEVER do. The books are written in the most adorable, brightest pink ink and I haven't read them yet, but plan to soon.

Today's projects: printing graduation announcements, writing my piece for Girls' Life, hoping RAW calls and writing papers for school.

Finally, a BIG SHOUT OUT to friend and fellow writer Diana Peterfreund for having Secret Society Girl chosen as one of the New York Public Library's Books for the Teen Age 2007. Congratulations, Diana!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Girls' Life

I opened my inbox a few moments ago and saw an email from Girls' Life. Another rejection, I was sure. Wrong! GL is going to run a short (very short) profile of a local girl with an amazing charity. I pitched it to them 8 weeks ago and with a waiting period of 3 months, I was shocked to have a response that fast. It's my third query to GL and I'm beyond thrilled!!

Also, I called RAW and she wasn't home. I left a message and now I must wait....

Monday, March 5, 2007

Pep Talk

Last week, my writing instructor at college gave me the e-mail address of her mentor and one of FSU's best writing professors, "The Really Accomplished Writer." Let's call her RAW. So, RAW e-mailed me back on Thursday with an invitation to call her to chat. There was serious hyperventilation! She said I could call her that weekend, if I wanted. The weekend rolled by and I never called. Why? I'm scared. Terrified, actually of calling this person and sounding like an idiot. She has a string of best sellers, a movie in the works by Nickelodeon and I'm a nobody who is scared to call her. I need a violent shove in the direction of my phone. Her number is programmed in my pink Motorola. I look at it in shock that I have RAW in my address book. Someone give me nudge so I can call this woman!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Advice for a writer from 1987

I checked out a book from my local library from 1987 about a person's relationship with his or her agent. The book is so outdated that almost none of the advice is useable anymore, but it made for a funny read.

Some of the best advice:

Write your agent a nice, handwritten letter every 4 weeks to check on the progress of your manuscript (Aw, I'd love to send my agent a handwritten note. She'd laugh at me, though.)

Do not ever mail your manuscript out to more than one agent at a time (That would take forever now!)

Remind yourself that your agent will be taking 10 percent of your paycheck (Hmm...the industry norm now seems to be 15 percent)

Overall, the advice would have been great in '87 but not relatable to 2007. It really shows how much things have changed.

As for new advice, the 120th anniversary of The Writer came out this month and it is chock full of good stuff. The amazing Sara Gruen has a lovely spread in the mag and there's also a great exercise from Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler, a writing professor at my school.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Thanks to Steph!

Big thanks to Steph for providing me with excellent quotes for my deployment article! You rock, Steph! :) More blogging to come...stay tuned...

Friday, March 2, 2007

Spring Break!

I'm officially on spring break! Nope, I won't be haunting the local beaches and clubs, instead, I have at least a dozen projects that require immediate attention. A research project on Oroonoko, a paper on Isle of Pines an essay for my writing class and a humanities essay are among the school projects. Now...the fun stuff....YA manuscript revisions are calling my name, magazine queries need to be sent and I was assigned a great article for Listen that I'm working on. Spring break is going to be busier than a regular week. Oh, joy! :)

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Quotes for Listen Magazine

Want to be quoted in Listen Magazine? I'm putting out a call for quotes. The question:

If you know anyone who has been deployed in the military, how did you deal with the deployment?

Email or post your answers here. Your quotes will be used in an article to help teens cope with family and friends in the military. I'll need your quotes ASAP.

Thanks a bunch! :)

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