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Been There, Done That

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 16 April 2012 · 109 views

Forgive me, my friends. Today you get a re-post of last week's Lucky 13's post from me. Having no internet at home is really screwing with my productivity. On the other hand, I'm reading a ton :)


It took me a long time to admit that I'm really not that creative.

And guess what? Neither are you.

I read. A lot. It's kind of my job. A necessary by-blow of this has been that I've realized the old adage that all the stories have been told is... true. I can't tell you how many times I've opened up boxes of books (Yay!) only to glance at the back-cover material and realize it's been done before. A running mental commentary might run something like this (this isn't referencing any actual books, FYI, so don't go racking your brains trying to figure out what I'm referring to):

Okay, so this one is Hunger Games but set in Bulgaria and using cats.
Oh look! Turner & Hooch but with a dinosaur.
Hey! Romeo & Juliet but with a crustacean and a pearl hunter.

You get the idea. But here's the thing... the Romeo & Juliet title featuring the really attractive crustacean might have the zippiest dialogue this side of the Pacific, and it just might bring me to tears a lot faster than angsty Italian pre-teens with excellent wardrobes quaffing poison.

We've all been in love, we've all suffered loss. We all continue to learn from others and seeing the world through a pair of eyes that we weren't born with will always be a useful experience, even if the plot isn't the brightest star that ever rolled itself up into a gas ball.

Every time Mindy-Brain says, "Hey! I've got an idea!" I have to ask Mindy-Brain how it's been done before (not IF!), and how I can do it differently, give it the Mindy-Spin and make it Mindy's-Story instead of, Bogus! It's Jurassic Park with manic Dodo birds!

Always remember that your job as a writer isn't necessarily to come up with something that has never, ever been done, but to find a way to tell it again - your way.

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BBC Book Talk - DEAD TO YOU by Lisa McMann

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 12 April 2012 · 119 views

[url="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Df-HmWEjJg0/T1S806OJKGI/AAAAAAAAAbk/6uysvEhJ5dU/s1600/11724850.jpg"][img]http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Df-HmWEjJg0/T1S806OJKGI/AAAAAAAAAbk/6uysvEhJ5dU/s1600/11724850.jpg[/img][/url]Ethan DeWilde knows that he had a family once. He had a life before shelters and digging in dumpsters, before Eleanor’s johns and the beatings that came with them. It’s a miracle that he recovers that life, but he’ll need another one in order to fit back in to the family that comes with it.

He doesn’t remember his parents, and his little brother Blake, now a teenager, blames Ethan for the fractures in the family. Blake was the only witness to his abduction, and even the details that he’s able to provide aren’t sparking memories for Ethan. He believes his brain has erased the first few years of his life so that he could live in Eleanor’s fictional world, where she was his mother and he was her son.

Little Gracie, the child born to replace him, is the one he’s able to connect with. Her innocence and immediate acceptance of him as her brother is the only thing tethering him to the home he can’t remember, overriding the primitive urge to run that life on the streets has taught him.

Then he meets Cami, his neighbor and one-time best friend that he cannot recall either, though he’d love to try. Especially when she tells him they used to take baths together. Cami’s sweetness and their immediate attraction encourages him to build more relationships, try to scale the walls that his brother has built, and finally have a place to call home.

Even Cami can’t overcome the blankness, or the hysterical laughter that descends on Ethan whenever he tries to remember his abduction, his childhood, anything from his life before he became Eleanor’s.

Because some things are too unspeakable to remember.
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Thursday Thoughts

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 11 April 2012 · 117 views

Seriously? You guys[i] like[/i] this stuff?

Well, apparently at least some of you do, because the poll said YES! Tell us more about your randomly firing synapses! Fine then. I will. Remember - you asked me to.

And before you bother reading my non-scripted stuff, check out an interview with me on [url="http://caterinatorres.com/blog/category/interviews/"]Caterina Torres'[/url] blog where I actually sound intelligent.

Thoughts Lately:

1) What's the deal with tampons? What sick person came up with this? A pad... ok that makes some kind of sense. But who was the first person to say, "Hey! I know!"

2) I feel very sorry for the woman who provides the instructor's voice on the Wii Fit. If I ever ran into her in public I would probably punch her in the throat on general principal.

3) I had a theory in college that if someone is eating easily dispensable food (like M&M's) and you walked up to them looking pathetic with your mouth hanging open, they would feed you. It actually works most of the time. However - it does NOT work with someone else's mobile hotspot.
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On Submission with Liz Coley

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 09 April 2012 · 112 views

[center][url="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-VV7hu3P0OXA/T4LnU3uec_I/AAAAAAAAAd0/MIuC85c83Dc/s1600/54coley.jpg"][img]http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-VV7hu3P0OXA/T4LnU3uec_I/AAAAAAAAAd0/MIuC85c83Dc/s200/54coley.jpg[/img][/url][/center]Before you jump into the SHIT (ha ha) check me out over on [url="http://thelucky13s.blogspot.com/2012/04/been-there-done-that.html"]The Lucky 13's [/url]today, talking about how not-awesome I am.

Today's guest for the SHIT (Submission Hell – It’s True) is fellow [url="http://thelucky13s.blogspot.com/"]Lucky 13'er[/url] Liz Coley. To make things even cooler, Liz is an Ohioan AND an imprint sister. So really it's like we're the same person. Since she's from Ohio, technically this is a SHIT - Wow! (We're Ohio Writers). Yeah, you like that little acronym, don't you?

Liz has been writing seriously for more than ten years, and is finally feeling the luck! Her novel [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13450398-pretty-girl-13"]Pretty Girl-13[/url] is scheduled for release in early 2013 by Katherine Tegen Books of HarperCollins.

When thirteen-year-old Angela Gracie Chapman looks in the mirror, someone else looks back--a thin, pale stranger, a sixteen-year-old with haunted eyes. Angie has no memory of the past three years, years in which she was lost to the authorities, lost to her family and friends, lost even to herself. Where has she been, who has been living her life, and what is she hiding behind the terrible blankness? There are secrets you can't even tell yourself.


[b]BBC: How much did you know about the submission process before you were out on subs yourself?[/b]


LC: I had learned a lot about submitting short stories--format and etiquette--before I moved on to novels. Since I had attended a writing conference prior to subbing my first novel in 2005, I knew the formalities. However, when I look back at my early query letters I truly cringe. I’ve learned a lot about improving my pitch in the intervening years.


[b]BBC: Did anything about the process surprise you?[/b]


LC: The snail’s pace of responses surprised me in the early days. Two of my submissions did not receive replies for a full year, and one of them was a publisher who insists on exclusive submission of a full manuscript. That practice just eats your life away. Two years later, the speed of responses surprised me when we were starting to see queries allowed via internet. Going by the timestamp on the e mails, one of my queries to an agent in California was rejected BEFORE I sent it from Ohio. Explain that one, Einstein!


[b]BBC: Did you research the editors you knew had your ms? Do you recommend doing that?[/b]


LC: After my first two manuscripts had been roundly rejected by editors and all the major houses had closed to unagented manuscripts for children’s literature, I dedicated myself to finding an agent for my third manuscript. I put myself entirely in her hands for submissions. The only editors I researched were those guest editors at my annual writing conference, and I do recommend that since they will invite submissions at the end of the conference.


[b]BBC: What do you think is the best way for an author out on submission to deal with the anxiety?[/b]


LC: The only way to deal with the anxiety is to get on with the next writing project and forget the current one exists.


[b]BBC: If you had any rejections, how did you deal with that emotionally? How did this kind of rejection compare to query rejections?[/b]


LC: Well, the one that broke my heart was a husband-wife agency team who disagreed about whether to represent my first book. But the next manuscript I wrote received a hand-addressed, personal rejection letter from an editor who praised the story, found no faults, but couldn’t use it. I taped that one on the wall for a year as an encouraging “good rejection.” In a way, it is easier to get a manuscript rejection than a query rejection because the reader has the opportunity to see your real work. With a query rejection, you can drive yourself nuts second guessing the way you presented your credentials or your pitch.


[b]BBC: When you got your YES! how did that feel? How did you find out – email, telephone, smoke signal?[/b]


LC: I got my yes for representation on the phone a week after I’d sent my full manuscript (#3), and I felt like crying and drinking champagne. Such a huge wall had been knocked down and, for the moment, I thought I’d found the end of the rainbow. Actually, I’d found the leprechaun who still had to lead me to the end of the rainbow. It took another four and a half year to sell a manuscript (#7)--the big YES. And that was another cry in your champagne moment.


[b]BBC: Did you have to wait a period of time before sharing your big news, because of details being ironed out? Was that difficult?[/b]


LC: I did have to wait for the contract to be negotiated and the offer announced in PM. The hardest thing was keeping my husband quiet about it. I was so terrified of screwing things up, I didn’t breathe a word, even to my sons at college, until the deal was done. And then we all jumped up and down about it. The funny thing is, a friend of mine saw it in PM before my agency notified me that it was officially out, so lots of people knew before my own kids.
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When The Internet's Away the Cat Will...

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 09 April 2012 · 118 views

Not do a whole hell of a lot, it turns out.

Yes, it's sad but true. All last week I did not have internet at the homestead. It's not because I'm going organic either, it's because I have country internet. Hopefully everyone can bear with me while I address these issues. I'm caught up on my commenting from last week (thanks to everyone for dropping by while the blog took care of itself!) and today we're playing catchup with my other appearances via some link-love, and also just a little house cleaning. (Hey, it IS spring.)

First off - thanks to everyone who voted in my poll! It turns out you guys want to see interviews from authors (no problem), more vlogs (gluttons), and for some reason people actually care what I'm thinking, so the Thursday Thoughts shall recommence (remember, you asked for it). While you may not absolutely adore my book-talks, it's not in my nature to not share what I'm reading. But instead of featuring one book at a time, I'll probably do some overviews of what's out, what's new, what's cool, and what's making me happy this week.

My Linkety Links: Last month I spoke at the regional SCBWI meeting. If you want a great overview of everything I said, and exactly how damn charming I am (oh, yes - really), check out this [url="http://kspowers.blogspot.com/2012/03/coscbwi-meeting-march-2012-chat-with.html"]excellent write-up[/url] from K.S. Powers. I didn't even know she was taking notes, I would've talked slower. Maybe.

Suzi Retzlaff features dribbles of wisdom from me (wisdom content has not been evaluated by MENSA), and people smarter than me on her continuing [url="http://literaryengineer.areavoices.com/2012/04/03/the-big-reveal-5/"]Big Reveal [/url]series.

Today I'm being featured over on the excellent [url="http://elloecho.blogspot.com/2012/04/what-diversity-means-to-me-featuring_09.html"]Ellen Oh's blog[/url] talking about what diversity means to me as a YA librarian. And it means a lot. You'd be surprised how much.

Lastly and by far the most important: my YA debut group [url="http://fridaythethirteeners.blogspot.com/"]Friday the Thirteeners[/url] are donating[url="http://critsforwater.katbrauer.com/guest-critiques/"] Crits for Water[/url]! If you want us to whip you into shape while you help save the world, this is the place to do it. Our particular donation opens for bidding / donations on June 28th. I'll post a reminder when the date is closer.

Thanks everyone for hanging in while I was incommunicado last week. Even though the blog seems to have coasted without me fairly well, I still missed it and will stare it at lovingly most of the day today.
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BBC Book Talk: ASHES by Ilsa J. Bick

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 05 April 2012 · 195 views

[center][url="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-rMrY-9V0oFE/Tz0h2kHv13I/AAAAAAAAAas/TnSjUBmnn5U/s1600/9975679.jpg"][img]http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-rMrY-9V0oFE/Tz0h2kHv13I/AAAAAAAAAas/TnSjUBmnn5U/s320/9975679.jpg[/img][/url][/center]Ilsa J. Bick went and blew my mind again.

And all of her characters' minds too.

[url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9975679-ashes"]ASHES [/url]is the story of Alex, an orphaned teen who has her own date with death as the tumor in her brain continues to grow. A last ditch medical approach has Alex seeking solitude and a place to spread her parent's ashes in the woods of Waucamaw, Michigan. When an electro-magnetic pulse kills most of the world's population she finds herself caring for Ellie, a young girl whose grandfather dropped dead while they were camping.

And it seems her tumor is gone.

Alex strength has returned, her health is as good as it's ever been. Maybe even better. She can smell feelings emanating from people in waves; fear mostly, but sometimes the faint glimmer of hope. And more importantly, she can smell the Changed.

The particular brain chemistry of teens allowed them to live through the EMP, but they are shadows of people. Aggressive and hungry for human flesh, teens are feared and shot on sight. Ironically, Alex's tumor saved her from that fate. Tom, a young veteran of the Iraq war was likewise spared because of PTSD. Together, they protect Ellie and head north, hoping to find shelter in an area with low population - of both the Changed and the living, who would kill them because of the pervasive fear of the young.

But not all of the aged living want teens dead. Some realize that the future of the human race lies with them, and healthy teens - especially girls - are as valuable as gold.
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An SAT with Debut YA Author Emma Pass

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 02 April 2012 · 118 views

[center][url="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-DLna5UJE2_o/T3tZAapTU1I/AAAAAAAAAds/7ZDfvvyR9KY/s1600/Twitter+Profile+Pic.jpg"][img]http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-DLna5UJE2_o/T3tZAapTU1I/AAAAAAAAAds/7ZDfvvyR9KY/s200/Twitter+Profile+Pic.jpg[/img][/url][/center]My guest today for the SAT (Successful Author Talk) is fellow [url="http://thelucky13s.blogspot.com/"]Lucky13[/url]'er Emma Pass. Emma lives in the north-east Midlands in the UK with her husband and a retired racing greyhound, and has a day job in the local library, where she also runs a writing group. Her debut YA dystopian, ACID, will be available from Random House in 2013. It takes place in the year 2113. When Jenna Strong was 13, she was jailed for murder by ACID - the Agency for Crime Investigation and Defence. Now, four years later, she’s been broken out by a mysterious organisation who won’t tell her who they are or why they got her out. Set up with a new identity, Jenna is just getting used to being on the outside when she runs into Max, the son of the man who died getting her out of jail. Soon, ACID are on their trail and they’re forced to go on the run. Now Jenna must keep herself and Max safe – and somehow prevent Max from finding out who she really is…

[b]Writing Process:[/b]


[b]BBC: Are you a Planner or Pantster?[/b]


EP: A bit of both! I like to have a rough outline before I start, and an idea of the start, middle and end, but if I plan a book too rigidly I get bored with it before I’ve even started writing it. And things always end up changing. The story I end up with is usually nothing like the one I started out with in my head.


[b]BBC: How long does it typically take you to write a novel, start to finish?[/b]


EP: It varies, but on average it’s around 6 months for a first draft. Subsequent drafts tend to be quicker - about 3-4 months.


[b]BBC: Do you work on one project at a time, or are you a multi tasker?[/b]


EP: One project at a time. I get so into my story and characters that I don’t have room in my head for any more! However I usually have the next project brewing away at the back of my mind, and if any revelations come to me about it I’ll make notes.

[b]BBC: Did you have to overcome any fears that first time you sat down to write?[/b]


EP: Not really. I wrote my first ‘novel’ when I was 13, and just remember feeling incredibly excited about the whole thing, because it was then that I realised this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. It always feels daunting to start something new, but I welcome that fear, because it makes me strive to write as well as I possibly can.


[b]BBC: How many trunked books (if any) did you have before you were agented?[/b]


EP: Two - both contemporary YA novels. I queried the first one, but didn’t bother with the second as I knew it wasn’t good enough.


[b]BBC: Have you ever quit on an ms, and how did you know it was time?[/b]


EP: Yes. It was the MS in between the book that got me an agent and ACID. I wrote about 5 drafts before I gave up on it, but I knew, deep down, that it wasn’t working almost from the start. It just never seemed to come alive – I couldn’t click with the main character and I knew readers wouldn’t either. To be honest, when my agent read it and agreed I should start something new, it was a HUGE relief.


[b]Querying and Agent Hunt Process:[/b]
[b]BBC: Who is your agent and how did you get that "Yes!" out of them? [/b]


EP: My agent is the wonderful Carolyn Whitaker at London Independent Books, who I found in the Writers and Artists Yearbook. I chose her because she represents one of my favourite authors, Chris Wooding, and because YA is one of her specialities. When I sent her my query (for another contemporary YA), I was preparing for my wedding. A few weeks before I was due to get married, she wrote to me saying she liked the chapters I’d sent, and asking me to send the next 10,000 words. In a daze of excitement, I shoved them in the mail. Then I went off to get married. When we got back from our honeymoon, I got [i]another[/i] letter from her saying it sounded good so far, so please could I send the rest. You can imagine how excited I got then!


Not long after that, my husband and I were driving to the supermarket when my phone rang. It was Carolyn, wanting to talk about my MS and some ideas she’d had for revisions. Cue frantic scrabbling around in the glove box for a pen and a scrap of paper, while my husband (who was driving) looked for somewhere to pull over. After those initial revisions (which I was more than happy to do), the novel went through another two rounds of revisions, and then she started sending it out. I didn’t dare call her ‘my’ agent for ages, though!


[b]BBC: How long did you query before landing your agent?[/b]


EP: Carolyn was the third agent I queried (with my third novel… so I guess there’s some truth in the saying, “third time lucky”!).


[b]BBC: Any advice to aspiring writers out there on conquering query hell?[/b]


EP: Keep going. Keep writing. If you don’t get taken on with this book, you might get taken on with the next one… but if you don’t write it, you’ll never know.


[b]On Being Published:[/b]
[b]BBC: How did that feel, the first time you saw your book for sale?[/b]


EP: ACID’s not out till next year, but it’s highly likely I’ll burst into tears in the middle of the bookstore. Or jump up and down. Or scream. Or all three.


[b]BBC: How much input do you have on cover art?[/b]


EP: I have no idea! My publisher does wonderful covers, though, so I’m totally confident that ACID’s cover will be wonderful too.


[b]BBC: What's something you learned from the process that surprised you?[/b]


WP: How long everything takes - you definitely need to be patient in this business! And I am in awe of my editor’s insight into my book and her ideas to make it better. I always thought you had to write a book that was good enough to be published. Now I know you have to write a book that’s good enough to make an editor want to work with you… and then between you, you write the book that’s good enough to be published.


[b]Social Networking and Marketing:[/b]
[b]BBC: Do you have a blog / webisite?[/b]

EP: Sure do! [url="http://twitter.com/EmmaPass"]Twitter[/url], [url="http://emmapass.blogspot.com/"]Blog[/url], [url="http://pinterest.com/emmapass/"]Pinterest[/url], [url="http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5333625.Emma_Pass"]Goodreads[/url], [url="https://www.facebook.com/EmmaPassAuthor"]Facebook Author Page[/url]


[b]BBC: When do you build your platform? After an agent? Or should you be working before?[/b]


EP: I didn’t do [i]any[/i] social networking before I got my book deal – and that was four years [i]after[/i] getting my agent! It was my publisher who gently suggested I should start tweeting and blogging, and I have to admit, my heart sank at the thought. But it’s brilliant - I really love it! I don’t think it was a problem that I didn’t do any of these things before, though. You have to feel comfortable doing these things, and take them at your own pace.


[b]BBC: Do you think social media helps build your readership?[/b]


EP: Yes, absolutely. I’ve connected with so many readers, book bloggers and other authors online, and I’ve read tons of books because I’ve heard about them or talked to their authors through social media.


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Feminism and Insults

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 01 April 2012 · 114 views

Writing and reading YA, plus spending the 40/wk with teens means that I usually know what insults are being bandied about at the moment. Some of them are funny, some of them are horrific, and the tried-and-true are still holding strong.

Something that I've noticed about the old standbys of Insultland is that the ones generally reserved for males are actually directed at their mother, not at the fella himself.

Somewhat-Tamed-Down-Examples:

1) SOB - Well, duh
2) Bastard - implies that mom is loose
3) MF'er - it takes two to tango

And my personal fav, not necessarily related to mothers:

4) D-bag - what you're really saying is, "Hey! You're a really useful tool for personal hygiene."

But yeah... still female oriented.

So, to counteract this I've come up with a whole slew of male oriented insults that are quite fun. I won't be sharing them on the blog though. If you really want to know you'll just have to read my books to dig out those little gems of wisdom.

I will add though, that I don't think those time-tested insults will be going anywhere soon, and my own creative and amusing insults will probably only be flashes in the proverbial pan. So, instead of trying to force my new slang into the mainstream I'm going to embrace the negativity of feminine wordage and start calling everyone I don't like a "menstruater."
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BBC Book Talk - MAGIC UNDER STONE by Jaclyn Dolamore

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 29 March 2012 · 124 views

[center][url="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-QN3pxRmJAw4/T2oQCX2uaFI/AAAAAAAAAdU/C1F5GPUaLRQ/s1600/8171792.jpg"][img]http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-QN3pxRmJAw4/T2oQCX2uaFI/AAAAAAAAAdU/C1F5GPUaLRQ/s1600/8171792.jpg[/img][/url][/center]At the end of [url="http://writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com/2011/05/bbc-book-review-magic-under-glass-by.html"]MAGIC UNDER GLASS[/url] we left Erris and Nimira about to embark on a journey to find Ordorio Valdana, a powerful sorcerer who may be able to restore Erris to his rightful body, rather than the half-flesh, half-clockwork prison brought him only halfway from his automaton state.

MAGIC UNDER STONE begins with the lovers in an unenviable position. Erris' body is partially restored, but his spirit still yearns for the full freedom of his faery body. Unable to love Nimira properly, he draws away from her, and as they travel to find Valdana she questions whether delivering Erris from one captivity to another was any kind of rescue at all.

Her hopes fall even lower when they arrive at Valdana's home to find the master gone, and the only servant a human girl whose face is badly scarred by fire. But there is another resident, one with a powerful charm around her to make those who meet her forget her existence; Violet, the daughter of Valdana and Mel, Erris' sister. Part-human, part-faery and 100% spoiled, Violet stands to inherit the faery throne as the last living Tanharrow.

But another family is on the throne of Telmirra, and a recently freed jinn is bound to their throne. The jinn's magic is able to counteract Violet's protective faery charm, and he remembers her after a chance meeting in the forest. Aided in part by the hair bow she innocently slipped into his hands so that he would not forget her, the reluctant jinn is forced to spill the secret of Violet's existence to his master.

With Erris' partially clockwork body damaged, and Nim's spirit weakened by the weight of his grief, they face a powerful enemy in a land where Erris' should reign, if only they can restore his body.

Dolamore once again captures her reader with a lyrical touch, easily bringing her readers back into Nimira's world within the first few sentences. Fans of MAGIC UNDER GLASS will be thrilled with the sequel!
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An SAT With DEAD BLUE Author Elle Cosimano

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 27 March 2012 · 135 views

[url="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-y8pgwNdV9Ic/T3G0jE36DLI/AAAAAAAAAdk/kodACy1c6Ww/s1600/IvyWallMedium.jpg"][img]http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-y8pgwNdV9Ic/T3G0jE36DLI/AAAAAAAAAdk/kodACy1c6Ww/s1600/IvyWallMedium.jpg[/img][/url]I'm lucky (or cunning) enough to have lured another author over to the blog for an SAT (Successful Author Talk). Elle Cosimano is a fellow[url="http://thelucky13s.blogspot.com/"] Lucky 13[/url], who grew up in the Washington DC suburbs. The daughter of a prison warden and an elementary school teacher who rides a Harley, she majored in Psychology at St Mary’s College of Maryland, and set aside a successful real-estate career to pursue writing. Her debut [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13409664-dead-blue"]DEAD BLUE[/url] is a thrill-ride of a novel, in which a math-whiz from a trailer park discovers she’s the only student capable of unraveling complex clues left by a serial killer who’s systematically getting rid of her classmates. DEAD BLUE will be coming from Dial/Penguin Fall, 2013.

[b]Writing Process:[/b]
[b]BBC: Are you a Planner or Pantster?[/b]

EC: If you’d asked me a year ago, I would have told you I’m a planner. By nature, at least. I’m a total Type A, list-making, life-planning, goal-oriented systems-thinker. My first novel was outlined on tidy color-coded note cards. And I think for my first time around that was important in helping me to envision the ending, so I could actually make myself get there. But I ended up re-writing that book… twice… from scratch. And as I learn more, and I become more confident, I’m loosening the reigns. The book I just finished was completely pantsed. And I loved the feeling of discovery that came with each new page. That doesn’t mean it won’t need a complete overhaul or major revision, but it was fun to cut loose with the pen for a while.

[b]BBC: How long does it typically take you to write a novel, start to finish?[/b]

EC: Not counting research, from first word to last word, I usually spend eight to twelve weeks piecing together the first draft. Most of my time is actually spent in very intense revision.

[b]BBC: Do you work on one project at a time, or are you a multi tasker?[/b]

EC: I try to write one story at a time, to keep my head in that character’s world. But simultaneously, I’m researching, reading, or gathering ideas for the next project.

[b]BBC: Did you have to overcome any fears that first time you sat down to write?[/b]

EC: GAH! Yes! I hadn’t written a word of fiction in over fifteen years when I wrote DEAD BLUE. I had a very successful career, a busy family, and I was the breadwinner. Taking time for myself to write that first book wasn’t only daunting because I wasn’t sure I could do it (or do it well), but because it felt like such a selfish thing – to do something for myself, simply because I wanted to. My colleagues were confused and upset with me for taking time off to “write a book” of all things! My family was supportive, but afraid that we couldn’t afford so much time off. And I was afraid of disappointing all of them. I wasn’t afraid of failing myself. I was afraid of failing everyone else. Realizing that emphasized how badly I really did need to do this, just for me.

[b]BBC: How many trunked books (if any) did you have before you were agented?[/b]

EC: DEAD BLUE was my first book. It showed promise but the plot was a mess. Thankfully, I found a talented and patient literary agent who saw something in my work. With her feedback, and the help of some very talented critique partners, I completely re-wrote the book. So I guess you could say the first incarnation of the story is in the proverbial trunk.

[b]BBC: Have you ever quit on an ms, and how did you know it was time?[/b]

EC: I’ve never quit on a manuscript, but I did cannibalize the first story I ever dreamed up, and ended up donating its organs (bits and pieces of plot and character) to the two stories I’m working on now. I’ll get back to that story one day, but it will take some reimagining to revive it.

[b]Querying and Agent Hunt Process:[/b]
[b]BBC: Who is your agent and how did you get that "Yes!" out of them? [/b]

EC: My agent is Sarah Davies of The Greenhouse Literary Agency. I submitted a traditional query. She responded the same day requesting a full. I knew I loved Sarah right away because she communicated with me throughout her read. She’d send brief one-sentence emails with her reactions to different characters or scenes. Querying can be such a silent process, and those emails were a real comfort to me. I was a wreck of nerves! I signed with her the same week.

[b]BBC: How long did you query before landing your agent? [/b]

EC: I took my complete manuscript for DEAD BLUE to the Big Sur Writers Workshop. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I made a deal with myself that if the editors, agents, and authors there hated my story, I’d go back to my full time job. And if there was hope, I’d attempt a round of queries. The story was well-received and I came away feeling pretty optimistic. When I returned home, I spent a few weeks polishing my letter and sample pages, and queried my top six agents. Five of the six requested the full. I signed with Sarah a week later.

[b]BBC: Any advice to aspiring writers out there on conquering query hell?[/b]

EC: Read. Read. Read. Read everything you can get your hands on in your genre. And read blogs too. There’s a wealth of information on craft, finding the right agent, self-promotion, and writing a saleable book! Submission guidelines and agent preferences are more accessible than ever. Read. Research. And most importantly, follow directions.

[b]Social Networking and Marketing:[/b]
[b]BBC: How much of your own marketing do you? Do you have a blog / site / Twitter?[/b]

EC: I have a [url="http://www.ellecosimano.com/"]website[/url], I tweet at @ellecosimano, I have a [url="https://www.facebook.com/ellecosimano"]Facebook[/url][url="https://www.facebook.com/ellecosimano"] [/url]page, and I contribute regularly at [url="http://inkandangst.com/"]Ink & Angst.[/url]

[b]BBC: When do you build your platform? After an agent? Or should you be working before?[/b]

EC: I think the answer to this is different for every author and depends on your comfort level with various social networks. Personally, I’m glad my platform was established before I found my agent and sold my book, because it gave me the opportunity to meet and interact with other authors. So many valuable resources are shared within the online writing community. It would have been a very lonely process without the friends I’ve made along the way.

[b]BBC: Do you think social media helps build your readership?[/b]

EC: I think social media is most successful when it’s used for its intended purpose… reaching out and participating in a broader community. When it’s approached as a reciprocal, caring, and genuine way to connect with others who share similar interests, then it truly opens doors. It makes us accessible to our readers, and to each other, and in doing so, encourages those connections to grow organically.
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