Monday, June 30, 2008

When copy edits attack

A couple of weeks ago, I got copy edits in the mail. My first set of copy edits, mind you. I got instructions via e-mail to address the notes and change them in the colored pencil of my choice. So, I picked a pretty purple pencil and stalked the mailman until they arrived.

And then...IT happened.

I tore open the package with glee and noted sticky notes on the side and then I saw them. Lots of weird marks on every page. Marks I hadn't seen when I'd worked at a newspaper. What did these mean? OMG. I had failed at publishing because I didn't know what these meant! Eeek! I hopped online and researched copy editing marks. But these were weird ones. Did I miss the class at school that taught these?

Did I really have to, gulp, address the zillion strange marks in 24 hours before sending back the manuscript?

I emailed Agent A and it went something like this: "Um, hi. Got the copy edits. Errr...what do I do, exactly?" What I really should have said was "OMG! What's all of this stuff?! Help!!" But I didn't want to convey the extent of my freak out.

To sum this up (because it could go on for a while) I talked to Editor K first and while trying not to sound like a total newbie idiot I asked her if I was supposed to address every mark on every page and type that up in a new draft and send it back to her.

Here's why she's the best editor ever--she did not snort in disgust or hang up on me and tear up my contract. No. Through laughter from both of us, she explained I was to address the sticky notes only. Ooooohhhh. The rest of the marks were for the keyboarder.

Then I remembered Lauren Barnholdt's copy edit vid that I'd watched weeks before. Yeah. Sticky notes only. Ugh.

That e-mail to Agent A? She never got it and we both had a good laugh. So, here's the lesson. Next time you get super-panicky about something--use the phone. E-mail--no.

Now, I'll be one of those author stories at conferences. You know, those nightmare author stories? "Yeah, I've got this client and she got copy edits and..." LOL

And that sums up Copy Editing for Complete Dummies, Idiots and Other Derogatory Names. :) If this saves one new author from thinking he/she has to play the role of keyboarder than this post was a success.

In other news...

We've got big changes over at Teen Fiction Cafe! We've added super-cool authors Stephanie Kuehnert and Sara Zarr! Welcome, ladies, and we're glad to have you! :)

Also, a little while ago (on my blog vacay) I posted an extended version of my "How to Become a Freelancer" video. I had to post it on MySpace because it was too long for YouTube. In the first 2 minutes, it has new footage of my acceptance letters, magazine credits, rejections and more. Check it out here!

Diary of a Debut Author: How to Become a Freelance Writer

Reading today: Chasing Harry Winston and Lock and Key

Friday, June 27, 2008

7 months from Take the Reins publication!

It's June 27!!! (Um, duh, you say.)

But it's the 27 that's important!

That's right, twenty-seven. Two seven. We are now... 7 months away from publication of Take the Reins (Canterwood Crest!) YAAAHOOO!!! :o)

OMG. That means, gulp, next month it'll be six. (Notice my awesome counting skills?) S-I-X. That means next month, changes will be happening! Woo!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How long do you keep old drafts?

Got a question for y'all. When do you recycle (meaning throw out) old drafts? If you keep them, how do you store them and/or organize them?

I looked into my closet and I've got 3 plastic tubs of printed drafts for my 3 (Eeep! I've written three!) books and a couple of postal boxes with newer drafts. I'm definitely keeping all of my edit letters and drafts my editor or agent have sent me, but what about the drafts in between? Do you hold onto those until the book is an ARC and then toss them? Or not.

I'm not sure.

I do know I want to keep the first draft of each book. But the other stuff I probably don't need. Hmm.

If I can remember, I'll try to post what book I'm reading at the end of every entry.

Today, I'm reading Wish You Were Here (HarperTeen) by Catherine Clark. Great so far! I love the postcard entries in the book.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Books on my Wow! list

The List of Wow! books

I'm back! Wow, the week flew by. I was B-U-S-Y with Chasing Blue and made an attempt to get through my humongous reading pile. But...I was sidetracked. By Eclipse. Yeah. In my reading pile for this week are the books I meant to get through last week:

Lock and Key--Sarah Dessen
Letters from the Heart (Beacon Street Girls)--Annie Bryant
Legally Blonde--Amanda Brown

I've realized over the past week that the Twilight series are Wow! books for me. This is all subjective, of course. What makes a Wow! book for me might not make one for you. The list of Wows! are small and I don't add to it often. I'm not naming authors who are Internet friends, but authors I DON'T know who are on the Wow! list are J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Kate Brian and Sara Gruen.

I define a Wow! book as a book that:

* makes me laugh, cry, or have heart palpitations
* makes me slip into my "screech monkey voice" (thanks, Jason) that I use when I'm super-excited about something and am telling someone else about it
* forces me to run to my computer and get back to work with hopes of one day writing a Wow! book
* keeps me up at night thinking about the book's Wow! qualities

Why did I name the four above authors?

J.K. Rowling

Given, right? Maybe not for the reasons you might think. Yes, I absolutely ADORE Harry & Co. I could reread the books a million times (I'm inching toward that!) and never tire of them. The pacing of the plot is why I love J.K. Is there ever a dull moment in HP? Nope. Did she get millions of kids hooked on reading? Yes. She's the Plot Queen and I bow to her mad skills. ;)

But I also feel linked to her even more now after watching her speech at Harvard's graduation. We have an insanely similar background (it's quite freaky, actually) and I admire her open attitude about things she's gone through and how that propelled her writing. That's for another post, but from one writer to another, she has personally inspired me in many ways.

Stephenie Meyer

As I read Eclipse last night, I paid attention to how I reacted to different elements in the story. I realized Eclipse evokes a PHYSICAL reaction from me. Wow! factor material. How many books do that? Not many. Waiting for the final installment is torturous! It's one of the few series where I'd go stand in the pouring rain until midnight to get a copy.

Kate Brian

Kate's Private series is the first YA series I read that has all of the elements that intrigue me--boarding school, mystery, mean but smart girls and love. Hot guys, too, but I can't use THAT as my sole Wow! factor. ;)

Kate's the Teen Queen of Cliffhangers and I've learned so much from reading her books. I'm always the last one to crack the mysteries, by the way.

Sara Gruen

As a horsey writer, I appreciate the detail to the equestrian world, the realistic view of competing and running a stable and the lack of equine related mistakes in the text. From what I've read, Sara is a huge animal lover and that comes across on the page. Riding Lessons and Flying Changes infuse horses with love, relationships, family and loss--both animal and human. Those books are up there in my Wow! list along with my other adult horse favorite--The Horse Whisperer. I hope that if I every try adult horse fiction that I'm able to capture some of the spirit that made me love Sara's books.

So, what's a Wow! book for you?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Blog Vacation

I will be on a blog vacation until Wednesday, June 25 unless anything major pops up. It might. I'll still be reading and commenting on your blogs, so see you there!


Monday, June 16, 2008

How people find me online

I've been reading how people have been finding me online and just thought I'd share some. They're a mix of odd and funny.

So, we've got these via SiteMeter:

Top 10 literary cities (I don't live in one)
Sarah Joy Brown on Facebook (I did blog about that...)
Sneak peaks at the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic (note the "a")
The Jessica Website (I'm thinking they're looking for Alba, Biel or Simpson)
Weinheimer dog pics (Huh???)
Obsessed with Twilight (Oh, so true)
Greenbrier, TN (my old home city)
Girly books releasing in July 2008 (What's a girly book?)
Red Hills Horse Trials 2009 (I'm so there!)

If you have a StatCounter or SiteMeter, how do people find you besides your name or book title?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Busy, busy!

Sorry the blog has been quiet for a few days! I've been working on a zillion queries, editing like a madwoman and deciding how I want my new Website to look. Yep, I'm getting a new look soon! I haven't hired my designer yet, but I know exactly whom I want and can't wait to work with her. I've been bookmarking sites I like and am super-excited to have a new look for my Website and blog.

In the mean time, you prob noticed the new little sidebar bit about the upcoming blog tour. Yep, Miss Megan was kind enough to offer me a shot at guest blogging in August. For that post, I'll talk about the giveaways, prizes, surprises, events and more that will be coming up right here in the fall and spring. Yay! It's all very exciting as we start the countdown clock for 6 months and counting on July 27. Look for a special vlog on that day. Also, if you'd like to be a stop on my blog tour for December, Jan or Feb, the details about all of that will be coming over the next month or so.

Plus, I've got *things* I'm waiting to show you all and cannot wait until I can!!! :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It's a draft! Yay!

Eeeee!! You're looking at my first printed draft of the new Canterwood Crest book! (I know it's blurry, but I didn't want to, you know, give away any plot secrets just yet...) YAY!! Sure, it's a mess and needs several edits and about 5,000 more words, but it's a draft! Woo hoo! I had old light blue paper, so I printed it on that and had fun editing on something that wasn't boring, old white paper. I love the sight of a new draft.

I celebrated by deciding to buy myself a new phone when I turn in the completed manuscript later in the summer. I've been desperate to have WiFi on my phone since I'm a serial e-mail checker, so I'm leaning toward a BlackBerry Pearl or the new iPhone releasing in July. Anyone have a BlackBerry Pearl? Like it? I've had my phone for a couple of years and it's time for a change.

Give me an update on your project status! Who's working on revisions? Or drafting? Share!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Don't spill water on your outline!

Yesterday, I was working from my outline for my new Canterwood Crest book. I had it printed and had zillions of notes in the margins and ideas for what needed to be done in each chapter. It was beside my laptop while I typed and it gave me the directions I needed to finish each chapter.

I wrote some of those notes with a lovely purple Uni-Ball Vision and the rest with a blue Zeb-Roller.

Why should you care about my pen selections? Because I knocked a water glass onto my outline and everything I wrote with the Uni-Ball lifted off the pages and turned into one giant grape-colored smear. I would have had a fit if I hadn't JUST finished with the outline. This just shows how truly shallow I am--I went for a pretty pen based on its color when I could have been fine with a ball point Bic. But no, I had to have purple!

Lesson--Uni-Ball pens are not for writing anything you can't afford to lose if water should fall onto your paper.

(However, um, I still love my Uni so much that I'll continue to use it for other purposes...) :)

Monday, June 9, 2008

X-posted from Teen Fiction Cafe

Surviving Adolescence: Riding!

***The WINNER of the Daphne Grab giveaway is...LENORE! Congrats! You have 48 hours to email me with your name and info of where you'd like your book shipped so I can pass the info to Daphne. If I don't hear from you by then, I have to draw a new winner. Thanks, Daphne, for an awesome giveaway!***

For me, growing up in the 90s meant one thing...horses!

After school, I couldn't wait to get out to the stables and ride, groom and learn how to train horses. I lived in a small suburban part of Tennessee (Greenbrier) and was lucky enough to have this riding arena right behind my house. When I did homework after school, I could look out and watch boarders ride and train their horses. I often had to move to the front of the house so I stopped watching them out the back windows.

That Appaloosa, AJ, was my first lesson horse. Oh, he was old and yes, he was was stubborn. But he was the best teacher. He taught me how to be a rider and how to listen to a horse's needs. He was a great partner and he helped me learn how to impress the girls at my new school with my riding skills. :)

Before we moved to Tennessee, we lived in Ocala, FL. This was a horse from a horse fair my family and I attended. I made my parents sooo nervous because I was always walking up to strange horses (even the occasional stallion!) and talking to them. I was a tiny kid, but if you had a horse, I'd ask for a boost so I could ride.

One of my absolute favorite horsey things to do was trail ride. My friend Amy and I would take our horses into the woods and get lost riding. We guided our horses through people's backyards (Sorry!), over creeks (Kind of dumb, now that I think about it) and along roads that saw a car a day. That was in the mid-90s and before cell phones were so inexpensive. Imagine how far my mom would have let me ride if I'd had a cell!

Horses were my most precious thing during childhood. They gave me the inspiration to write Take the Reins and the rest of the Canterwood Crest books. Name something from your childhood that inspires your writing.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Author Visit: Daphne Grab and a giveaway

Please welcome amazing author Daphne Grab!

About the book

Matisse Osgood is a New York City girl through and through. She buys her clothes at Andy’s Cheapies, watches indie films at The Angelika, and wouldn’t be caught dead on a hay ride. But when her father gets sick and Matisse’s parents decide to leave Manhattan for a small town in upstate New York, her perfect world crumbles. As Matisse trudges through life in Prague, she dreams of waking up in her apartment on West 78th St. with a father who’s well enough to walk with her in Central Park and a mother who doesn’t pretend that everything is okay. When rumors surround Matisse at school, and her father’s symptoms worsen, Matisse realizes that the friends she’s making in Prague are the kind you can count on. They help Matisse find the strength to reach out to her father, who may not be as far from her as she thought. And one particular farm boy shows Matisse that country living is a lot more magical than she had ever imagined.

When did you come up with the idea for ALIVE AND WELL IN PRAGUE, NEW YORK?

I was at the New School getting my MFA in writing for children and I’d just finished a mediocre manuscript and was trying to come up with some new ideas. One of my teachers was talking about writing from a life experience and I suddenly thought that I’d like to write about the experience of having a parent with a degenerative illness that is ultimately fatal. Fun idea, right? But really, I wanted to have a character who deals with that, which is such a huge and life changing thing, but to be coping with it along with the rest of her life: friends, guys, evil cheerleaders, etc.

Your main character, Matisse, has to move from the city to the country. Your Website says you grew up in the country. Did you channel any of that into Matisse?

A lot of it! I love a lot of aspects of the country, like the smell of fresh cut grass in summer and the friendly feel of a small town, but I was also tortured by spiders and chased by a goose the way Matisse was.

Beverly Cleary is one of my all-time favorite authors, too! What about her writing speaks to you?

I bet that means we like a lot of the same books- neat! What I love most about her stories is that they deal with the real life struggles of kids, like how crummy you feel if you mess up the words to ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ and your whole family laughs at you. And she does it in a way that is hysterically funny but totally respectful of how kids feel.

What was your writing process for ALIVE AND WELL? Were you an outliner or did it just flow?

I am outline girl- I live for my outlines. I like to sit down and know exactly what I am writing that day, and also to think “I just have to write this next scene” and not “I’m sitting down to write a book.” But that said, I feel really strongly that there isn’t one “right” way to write a book and that the most important thing for a writer is to find her or his own process.

What’s one scene in ALIVE AND WELL that you’d kick and scream if someone told you to delete it?

Funny you ask because I had one of those deleted! It was a short scene at the beginning of the book that I loved so much I read it for my senior thesis reading when I graduated from the New School. My editor was right about cutting it but I loved it so much that I put it up on my website where anyone who browses the “books” section can read it.

You’re a member of the Class of 2k8. How has the support from 2k8ers helped you?

I love being a member of 2k8! There’s a lot that is great about it but I think the most important thing is being able to share ups and downs with a group of people who totally get it and who will always be cheering for me.

Do you have any big summer writing plans?

I am working on my next teen book and am actually hoping to finish it before Labor Day- I’m about fifty pages in so wish me luck with that!

What’s next for you? Any super-exciting new projects?

I have a MG novel coming out next. It’s about a boy who is a huge football fan and one of the kids who gets teased at school. The book starts with him learning that the baby his mother gave up for adoption 21 years ago is the best college football player in the country and the story is the ups and downs that follow that discovery. I’m a huge football fan so this was a fun one to write.

Jess, thanks for having me on your awesome blog!!

Thanks so much, Daphne! You were a fantastic guest!

About Daphne Grab

Daphne Grab grew up in a small town in upstate New York. She has worked a number of jobs including teaching high school history, building houses for Habitat for Humanity and teaching ESL in China. She also earned an MFA in Creative Writing at the New School. In 1998 she moved to New York City where she discovered that she has always been a city girl at heart. She lives there now with her husband and children

Alive and Well in Prague, New York
hit shelves on June 3.

Okay, people! If you want to win a signed copy of Daphne's book, leave a comment here or on LiveJournal. Or, if you want, leave a comment in both places and you'll be entered to win! You have until 11:59pm on Sunday night to enter. I'll draw a winner on Monday morning, so check back. Remember, if I draw your name, you have until Wednesday to e-mail me with your name and address to send your prize.

Visit Daphne online here: and find Alive and Well in Prague, New York on Amazon.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Tomorrow's guest

Just a friendly reminder that author Daphne Grab is here tomorrow with a giveaway! Even if you've won before, it's okay! Be back here tomorrow to enter.

The post has to be short today to avoid any unnecessary typing. Yep, my carpal is back in full force in my right hand (it HAD to be the mouse hand!) and while the brace has kept it out of my wrist, it's now in my elbow. :/ Annoying and painful.

So, if you've emailed me in the past few days and I haven't emailed back that's why. I'm taking Aleve (not working) and using a heating pad (also really not working.)

Anyway...come back tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hannah Montana in Greenbrier, TN

I laughed out loud when I read that on E! (Not because there was an accident on set--no injuries) I used to live in Greenbrier, Tennessee. If you haven't been there and I'm betting you haven't, it's a tiny little town about 30 mins from Nashville. I attended Greenbrier Elementary and have a feeling I know exactly where they're filming the movie.

It's just quite weird to think my little town was invaded by Miley & Co.

The story.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Read My Lips by Teri Brown

Check out this great trailer by friend and S&S author Teri Brown! :) If you haven't already, go order a copy of Teri's YA novel, READ MY LIPS.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Diary of a Debut Author Video: How to Become a Freelance Writer

I decided to go for it yesterday while I had a little free time (meaning, I was thinking of a mean girl trick and taking a writing break) and made the freelancing video I've been plotting for a while. I hope I answered your questions and thanks so much for the emails and messages! As I say in the vid, if I don't answer your question or if you have other writing questions you'd like me to tackle, get in touch. :)

Hope you enjoy it!

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