Friday, January 31, 2014

New video: On Dialogue Tags

Here's me talking about dialogue tags. It covers five reasons why it's a bad idea to throw around creative permutations for the word "said" when you tag your dialogue in novels.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Big Reveal on first drafts

In the latest entry from The Literary Engineer, a group of authors (including me!) discuss the question of the week:

"How long does it take you to write a novel?"

Read answers from several writers here on the blog post!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

On the road. The snowy, cupcake-filled road.

I've been back from vacation for a few days but haven't really had the energy to write this up until now, so forgive me for lateness, but . . . I had an awesome time!

Well, except for this.

Snow. On the car with Florida plates.
Seeing snow was pretty cool, but freezing in it and getting stuck in it was not. I am SO not a winter person. I am ESPECIALLY not a winter person when I'm NOT IN FLORIDA.


That is probably bewilderment, not happiness, on my face.
So Meggie and I went on a road trip. This trip was to celebrate not only our birthday but our twentieth anniversary of being friends. I mean really, how many of you have a friend you've been close to for twenty years? Not many, I'd wager! YEAH!

Because of the birthday nature of this trip, we determined that we must have cupcakes every day. Unfortunately, that was destroyed the very first day and we had to settle for just plain cake. At Olive Garden. After driving hours and hours from Tampa to Charleston.

We were very excited about the lemon cake.
Following a full day of driving and singing at top volume to Weird Al songs, we spent the night in a Charleston hotel and ventured forth to visit Meg's dad after that. He took us into town for shopping, lunch, and architecture gazing. Quite fun, and we definitely got some tasty cupcakes there too.

Myrtle Beach followed Charleston. We went shopping at Broadway on the Beach and went around being silly, buying candy, and laughing at things. We got very tired and then in the morning we ate cupcakes for breakfast.

Have you figured out what Meg's favorite color is yet?
Then we drove from Myrtle Beach to the DC area and ended up at our friend Jessie's house. Jessie was kind enough to host us for that night and the next, and she happens to be neighbors with our other friend Cara. We all know each other through the Internet and that is just so awesome. That night we also reconnected with Meg's and my old pal Liz and my high school and college pal/roommate Ammy, and all went out for Thai food. It was amazing!

Meg, me, Liz

Cara, Jessie, Ammy
After foooood, we took a chilly tour of the DC monuments at night. It was not good for me. I turned into a tiny blonde popsicle. There aren't any pictures, but see if you can visualize this: I got cold very quickly, the other girls took pity on me and put the coat Meg had been wearing on top of me (on top of my existing coat), and I walked around with the arms unfilled and the hood flopping over my face. And I still froze to death. Talk about talent.

But I did get to see the Martin Luther King, Jr. monument ON Martin Luther King Day so that's something.

The next day it snowed and our friends' work day was canceled, which also meant we could not go to any museums because everything closed. So we just stayed home and ate sandwiches, candy, and homemade enchiladas.

Candy necklaces for all!
Cara couldn't get enough of Meg's guacamole.
We spent the night watching The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) by the Reduced Shakespeare Company, and laughing our butts off. And there were, of course, cupcakes.

Don't worry! We shared!
The next morning was cold and snowy, and Jessie had to help Meggie and me get the car out of the ice. She saved us! Yay! Then we drove to Charlotte. Seeing some pretty cool scenery along the way and going like "whoaaaa" a lot because we are not used to trees that look like they are from Christmas cards. We listened to a bunch of Welcome to Night Vale and musicals. We hate and love when our favorite songs make us cry.

Charlotte was also way colder than I like (well, let's face it, anything below 80ºF is colder than I like), but we braved it to go to a cool Restaurant Week event and the Japanese food we had was fantastic. And we got pretty slap-happy over our cupcakes. Yes, more cupcakes.

And then finally we had to go back to Tampa. It was a LONG drive--punctuated by more music and Welcome to Night Vale radio--and when we got in we went to Moe's with our friends Steve and Jessica. Meggie stayed over my place for the night so she wouldn't have to drive back to Jacksonville that night.

I bet you can't guess what we did.

Yeah you can.

Monday, January 27, 2014

30-Week Blog Challenge Week 21: Fears

I'm back with the Monday blog challenge! The lady in charge is Marie at Mom Gets Real. The questions are right here:


And Week 21's prompt is . . .


One of my biggest fears is being lost. I get lost very easily; I think if there's such a thing as dyslexia for finding your way around, that's what I've got. I hate not knowing where I am or how to get where I'm going, but the reason I fear it instead of just hate it is that this sort of problem usually evokes negative sympathy.

In other words, if I lose my way doing something as simple as trying to go to the bathroom in a restaurant, people think it's really funny, or not a big problem, or not serious, or worthy of contempt. It's a problem that has even led to people shaming me and mocking me, suggesting this issue would go away if I just "paid attention" or "stopped being such an airhead."

These are not the problem, I assure you.

Everybody sucks at something. I suck at finding my way around. I have no sense of direction, and I'm lost as soon as you tell me to make more than one turn. I will almost always turn the wrong way or guess wrong. I can follow signs. I can follow directions and landmarks. I can use maps. When it's possible I bring directions and access to directions that I can follow. I've sometimes even resorted to counting footsteps while joking about leaving a trail of breadcrumbs, because I am much more likely to accurately judge the distance I'm supposed to walk if I know approximately how many steps to take than trying to rely on "about how far away" I think something was.

But all of this would be a lot easier to deal with if people didn't think it was so damn hilarious, or if they didn't talk to me like I'm four years old when I demonstrate that I don't have the ability people are expected to have. Sometimes people exasperatedly tell me it makes no sense that I can't find something if I've been there before, or think it's ridiculous that I ended up in a completely unrelated part of town from the one I was supposed to be in, or treat me like I'm being irresponsible if I can't find their car again when we parked nearby. I'm not trying to be annoying or inconvenience people, and I'm not failing to make an effort.

So I fear getting lost, primarily because when it happens, people almost seem to enjoy blaming me for it and lecturing me about paying attention. When things like that happen, it's hard to get help--especially when people's way of "helping" me involves making assumptions about things I must know or be able to do that I just don't/can't. Being lost itself isn't so bad, but being lost and then having people delight in leaving me on my own to puzzle it out is the worst.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Cover Reveal: BURN ME by Shelley Watters!

I'm participating in a cover reveal today for my fellow Pitch Wars mentor, Shelley Watters! Check this out!

Burn Me
By Shelley Watters

An Adult Contemporary Romance
Releasing April 29, 2014
Published by Swoon Romance

After her twin brother dies in a house fire, firefighter Katrina Hale is determined to prove she’s stronger than the flames. But while her focus on her career leaves little room in her life for romance and her current relationship fizzles, she soon discovers fighting fires is nothing compared to the scorching desire she feels in fellow firefighter Greyson Neal's arms. Firefighter Greyson Neal is the type of guy girls dream about when they want their knight in shining armor to wear bunker gear. But he’s not interested in fulfilling every girl’s fantasies. Now he wants the one woman he can never have, and she seems hell-bent on getting herself killed to prove that she’s worthy of her job. Kat must choose between her career and her heart, and fight to keep them both when an arsonist threatens to take it all away.

 photo goodreads-badge-add-38px11_zps1ae6e47f.jpg  About the Author Shelley Watters writes romance for young adults and adults. She lives in Arizona with her husband, two kids and two dogs. She loves listening to music, reading good books and letting her imagination go wild as she creates new worlds and torments her characters in delicious ways.

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   photo AToMRToursC66a-A00aT03a-Z_mdm_zpsa3cc6896.jpg  photo NewLogoAdult_zps78bbfca2.jpg

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Big Reveal on book reviews

In the latest entry from The Literary Engineer, a group of authors (including me!) discuss the question of the week:

"Do you read or write book reviews?"

Read answers from several writers here on the blog post!

Monday, January 20, 2014

30-Week Blog Challenge Week 20: A hobby

I'm back with the Monday blog challenge! The lady in charge is Marie at Mom Gets Real. The questions are right here:


And Week 20's prompt is . . .


Well, everyone who knows me knows I'm a writer, and that's the subject of this blog, so I won't bother to use that go-to answer. After all, writing is way more than a hobby for me anyway.

One of my hobbies is singing! I'm a karaoke dork and am pretty much always humming something unless there's a reason I HAVE to be quiet.

Ever since I was little I've loved music, and I enjoyed trying to make up harmony parts to songs on the radio. When I got older, my ability to craft and record/mix vocal harmony grew more sophisticated. One of my favorite things to do is record a song with multiple vocal lines and mix it together so I'm singing with myself. So much fun!

Want to hear me sing in six-part harmony with myself? Here's just one of the many songs I've recorded. (All the parts are me!)

"Butterfly" by Rajaton

I also enjoy Dance Dance Revolution, baking, drawing, journaling, tennis, arts and crafts, and reading, but if I tried to make a section about each one of my hobbies for this blog, I'm pretty sure I'd never get to the end. :)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

I'm 36, yay!

It's my birthday, yaaaay!

To celebrate I'm going to be on a road trip with my best friend from high school, Meggie. We're celebrating 20 years of being friends! (And her birthday is two days after mine, so we almost always celebrate together!)

If I'm less responsive than usual, it's because I'm partying and stuff.

We're gonna have cupcakes like every day.

Me when I turned 5!
Me when I turned 16, 20 years ago!
Meg is there in that crowd. :)
Me when I turned 30, wearing a tiara!!
Birthdays are fun. I've already gotten some cool gifts and I'll write about my holiday gifts and birthday gifts when I'm back. :D

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Road to Somewhere BLOGHOP!

Today I'm participating in the bloghop for agency siblings Kelley Lynn and Jenny S. Morris in association with their cover reveal celebration for their book, ROAD TO SOMEWHERE, coming in February from Bloomsbury Spark! Check this out and be sure to scroll to the end for a giveaway they're doing.

Lovely, yes? And here's a bit about it:

New! From Bloomsbury Spark, a sunny heartwarming story of discovery and sisterhood. 

A road trip. A singing competition. And super-hot cowboys. 

What could be better? 

For Charlie, a post-high school road trip isn't just a vacation, it's life changing. While her parents think she's helping a friend move, a chance at fame is the real reason to grab her best friends and drive to L.A. But when her super annoying, uber-responsible, younger sister, Lucy, has to tag along, it isn't quite the summer of fun she imagined. 

Add in a detour to her grandparents' ranch in Texas, and between mucking the stalls, down-home cookin’, and drool worthy ranch hands, this could just turn into the best, and most complicated, summer of their lives.
The book has a major sibling theme, so to celebrate its cover reveal, we bloghop participants are sharing sibling stories! And here's one of mine.

I have two younger sisters, Patricia and Lindsay, and while I have a kabillion stories about growing up with them, I'm going to tell one about Patricia and me since whenever I tell this one people seem to love it.

Background: I grew up an eldest sister, but I don't remember being an only child because my sister Patricia was born only a year or so after me. We were raised as if we were twins, almost, but being the older sister did have a couple of perks. I got to do everything first.

For a while, when we were really young, you could tell who was older.
I found out as an adult that Patricia found it comforting to have me doing everything first. Starting a new grade was a less anxiety-inspiring experience because if Julie survived it then how hard can it be? I was unintentionally showing her the ropes just by going to school and braving the unknown--since I had no choice--and that was reassuring for her. But it had a drawback.

She was forever being asked, "Are you Julie's sister?"

We looked very much alike, and often dressed alike, except I was the red or pink "twin" and Patricia was the blue "twin." Once, at my kindergarten, my mom had come by the school for some reason and my teacher tried to stop her from leaving with me, but it wasn't me at all--it was my sister. The family found it hilarious that people kept thinking we were the same person. But after a while I imagine it got tiresome to be mistaken for me or to be associated with me.

We really did look a lot alike.
Sometimes people can't tell who's who in photos.
We went to the same school for elementary, middle, and high school. There were a couple scant years when we'd be in different schools, and a couple times she even got to go to a school where they'd never heard of me. I don't know if she liked getting a year off from being Julie's Sister, but it was pretty much still happening everywhere else. Even though we looked less alike at that point.

In high school, I don't really remember being asked if I was Patricia's sister, but I'm pretty sure people still asked her if she was my sister. We had a little bit of overlap in classes and friends, and were even taking the same math class at the same time from the same teacher (in different periods) during my senior year. But I was into singing and she was into art, so we had our own circles too. And it helped that we didn't dress alike anymore. Haha.

And she was also taller than I was by then.
We went to different colleges, so the whole "are you Julie's sister?" thing was a lot less likely at that point. I went to the University of Florida, and she went to New College. One of the experiences New College pushes strongly for their students is studying abroad; they encourage their students to spend at least one semester in another country. So my sister opted to do one semester at Waseda University in Japan.

On the first day of class, surrounded by strangers in a foreign country, one of her classes was small enough that introductions were appropriate, and some guy responded to her stating her name with "Are you Julie's sister?"


It turned out that the guy who'd asked was the brother of one of my friends, and he happened to be from the United States doing the same sort of thing. Hahah.

My sister moved to Japan after graduating from New College, and I don't think she had this problem again. She married a man she met there and settled down in California, where she also doesn't get asked if she's my sister. We don't have the same last name anymore, either.

But she will never escape being my sister. Bwahahaa.

Enter the giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Visit the others who are participating:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Book title change

So I have become one of that huge population of authors whose book title gets changed by their publisher. :)

Last week my publisher contacted me and told me in a pre-sales meeting my distributor had come to the conclusion that my book should have a different title. I'll have to go through and update the title wherever I've listed it, but it's no big deal. The title they've chosen:

THE INVISIBLE ORIENTATION: An Introduction to Asexuality.

I think this title change was a very wise choice! When I first conceived my book and titled it SO YOU THINK YOU'RE ASEXUAL: An Introduction to the Invisible Orientation, I had been thinking of it as a by-asexual-people/for-asexual-people book, but it quickly became clear to me that I wanted to cover it more comprehensively and help non-asexual people understand us too.

So really, the title I picked for it--while a little more quirky and colorful--is pretty misleading. It could have led people to believe it wasn't for them if they aren't asexual, and could have led to people avoiding purchasing it because of not wanting people to think it's for them. After all, a book that says "so you think you're X" on the cover implies that people who buy it think they're X. It will appeal to a larger audience because of this change.

So good job, Perseus. :)

My distributor. :)

The book has been finished for months, but it's not exactly finalized. I'll be doing some final research for it while attending a conference in early February. I've been given a cool opportunity: IvyQ has allotted me a 90-minute slot to speak at their pan-Ivy queer event and network with other queer-community participants and leaders, so I think I'll be able to learn a lot about asexuality's intersection with LGBT and shed more light on how/in what situations asexual people might ally with or participate in queer organizations.

I'm excited about how close my book is to becoming a real thing that people can buy and read. :D

Monday, January 13, 2014

30-Week Blog Challenge Week 19: A Fun Memory

I'm back with the Monday blog challenge! The lady in charge is Marie at Mom Gets Real. The questions are right here:


And Week 19's prompt is . . .


Okay! So let's go back to when I was in college.

When I was eighteen, I moved to another city in the same state so I could go to the University of Florida. Being that I'd moved away from home for the first time and was living on my own--and making my own choices--I was exercising my independence in many ways, and one of those was doing my hair in styles my mom wouldn't have let me out of the house with in high school. (Sometimes she used to even forbid me to wear my hair in two braids, claiming it made me look like a little child. The extent of my rebellion at that point was to braid my hair on the bus so she wouldn't see it. I know, REBEL!) In the first few months living on my own, I liked a style that involved 72 multicolored rubber bands separating my three-foot-long hair into eighteen little ropes.

New students were required to attend an orientation, so I went, wearing my new favorite hairstyle. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was spotted and dubbed "interesting" by another girl at the orientation. In fact, as she later told me, I appeared to be "the only interesting person in the room." She decided then and there that we should be friends.

On the first day of Musical Styles, I walked into the classroom and saw someone signaling to me as if we knew each other. Okay, I thought. Maybe I know her? But when I sat next to her, it became clear that we hadn't met before so much as sort of recognized something about each other. She was basically the only other weirdo in the class. And we'd found each other.

Partners In Bizarre: Julie and Jessica
That was a year of High Weirdness. Sometimes she would come up to me and make turkey noises. We would climb on the roof of the library and eat lunch. We would make strange blue men out of clay, give them pebbles for heads, and hide them around the music building (at one point convincing the instrument manager guy that the clay men were stalking him--so we began to write threatening notes from the blue men, telling the guy that they were "watching him").

We had an annoying classmate who always seemed to be talking too loudly, and we didn't like him because of his bro-ish tendencies, so we began to draw horrible pictures of us doing bad things to him.

One of the tamer drawings involved
playing baseball with his head.
Sometimes the drawings were pretty graphic.
Her bird was often featured eating parts of the guy.
Many minor pranks and silliness ensued that year and through the rest of our college career (even though we both changed majors). We had a Bad Movies party. We made Doom Cupcakes for Halloween (cupcakes decorated to have terrible messages on them). We baked cookies in dirty shapes and took pictures of our friends eating them. We became fascinated with the mournful sound my alarm clock made if you unplugged it while it was going off. We took turns lying on each other in a circle of friends and laughing. (It's called a ha-ha circle. It's hard not to laugh if someone else's belly is going up and down under you, so the vicious cycle perpetuates itself.)

We're gone.
But one of our most epic pranks was the Blue Octagon Prank.

One day, when Jessica was visiting me, we decided it would be fun to mess with people's minds, and we developed a plot to deliver cryptic messages through plastic Easter eggs. The messages would include an e-mail address for people to contact us with. We were hoping to generate weird mail and enjoy further messing with our victims.

The message we wrote in red ink on multiple pieces of paper hidden in Easter eggs:

The Egg has chosen you.

    * Have you ever seen the future in dreams?
    * Do you often perceive things that others cannot sense?
    * Are you sometimes convinced that you are not fulfilling your destiny?
We may have the answers.

We made an e-mail address to contact "THE BLUE OCTAGON," and painted a series of coded shapes on the papers so we would be able to track them and figure out where people had found them. We then hid them all over our campus.

The next morning, WE HAD AN E-MAIL!

Subject: the egg

Hi, I found an egg. What is it about? Best wishes.

So we answered them.

We are glad the Egg found you.
There was a symbol painted on the outside of your message; could you please describe it?
We are interested in your feelings about the questions inside the Egg. Do you relate to the situations presented in the message? We would like to hear about your experiences. We are trying to find others like ourselves.

    Chloe Aradia

Obviously the idea was to be as off the wall as possible.

We received some other messages too. Here's another one:

Subject: I have been chosen

The egg has chosen me. I knew it would happen. Give me the answers I seek.
-Red Square
I love it! So we wrote to Red Square:

We are glad the Egg found you.
You signed your e-mail "Red Square"--could it be that a red square decorated the outside of your message? If so, congratulations! If not . . . could you please enlighten us as to what shape chose you?
We are interested in your feelings about the questions inside the Egg. Do you relate to the situations presented in the message? We are quite keen on attempting to track down the others who, like us, have mastered the world of dreams and are currently pinning down what could be the most important destiny to grace the history books. We would like to hear about your experiences. Based on your reply, we may welcome you to the fold. . . .

    Chloe Aradia
And yet another person contacted us, though this one was, well, weirder:

Subject: fulfillment of prophecies

Yes my brother, I do forsee the future and feel as if my progress is being thwarted by the machine. This must end. WE have the answers, revolution starts with us.

We can't have someone out-weirding us. Additional weirdness, increased a notch, was sent in response:

We are glad the Egg found you.
Thank you for your enthusiastic e-mail! Though we are more interested in ruling another dimension than this one, your ideas of revolution sound fascinating. Do tell us, what symbol anointed the outside of your message? Depending on what symbol chose you, you may already be one of our leaders. Praise!
Also, feel free to expound on your feelings about the questions inside the Egg. You have touched on seeing the future but we'd like to hear specifics! We, after all, are willing to share with you our "answers": Our methods, our tools, our revelations. Your being accepted into the fold is contingent upon your reply . . . of course, we cannot accept just anyone who calls us "Brother." (We, after all, are not just one brother, but siblings, you know . . . )
    Chloe Aradia

We thought that was all we were going to get, but we received another one about three weeks later.

Subject: Kamayamaya

^^æ You lò§ e ån egg????

An appropriately weird response was sent:

We are glad the Egg has found you.
No, we did not "lose" the Egg. We sent it on a quest, and now that you have found each other, the real quest begins.
Please let us know what you thought of the questions contained in the Egg's message, and enlighten us as to what symbol decorated the outside of the message. This is very important.

    Chloe Aradia

And believe it or not, we got one even farther in the future, more than a month after we'd hidden the eggs:

Subject: I have been chosen....

I beleive that the egg has found me.. What shall I do? What adventures am I now able to embark upon.. enlighten me

We sent them the same response we'd sent to one of the others, and then more than another month later the person finally responded:

Subject: Re: I have been chosen....

Oh my g, hello. It has been quite awhile since I have checked my email. I do not remember the symbol on the egg, but if I can retrive it, I will let you know. Thank you


Our response was pretty bizarre.
Dear False Prophet,
In your last mail, you say "Oh my g." WHO IS THIS G of whom you speak? And why is he/she/it more important to you than answering our sacred e-mail? We are surprised that an honor such as the one bestowed upon you was not more of a priority in your life. The fact that we have waited over two months for a response from you is proof that you are not suited for the destiny we had planned for you. If you no longer had computer access for some reason, you could have easily sent us a telepathic message; and if you DID have computer access and were simply ignoring us, then . . . may this "g" have mercy upon your soul. You will never know how much you have lost.
    Chloe Aradia
    Blue Octagon

My sister and I repeated this prank in the future but that is another story.

Jessica moved away, got married, split up, moved across the country, and got married again. I don't talk to her much these days, and have no idea if we'll ever sow the seeds of weirdness together in person again. But she's always the person I share the weirdest things on the Internet with when I'm posting stuff on Facebook, and she always seems to be able to appreciate it like in the old days.

I miss those days. But I guess there was a time and a place.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Vacation follow-up!

In my last vacation post, I wrote up my adventures and shared pictures from the first half of my San Francisco vacation, where I was visiting my sister, brother-in-law, and new nephew! This is just a quick follow-up about what the rest of the vacation was like.

My mom and I had a chill-out day on Friday. We ate spinach pie, hung out, and had a few chats. My mom also spent some time in the lovely little backyard, because she likes to smoke and check out the nature. I'm glad she didn't get stung by any of those really scary-looking bees. We have some pretty intimidating creatures in Florida, but we're not used to the California ones.

I'm chillin' on the picnic bench.

Saturday we got my sister and her family to come to us instead of going to them! I did some editing in the morning and they came over in the evening, where I made breakfast for dinner (scrambled eggs and biscuits, plus fruit). My sister gave Baby Ash his usual dinner, as well as making sure her husband got to eat. Haha. :D

The baby accepted a pacifier for the first time! It's nice when he just needs to suck and his mommy doesn't have to feed him all the time. :) We also talked about the Japanese spelling of the baby's name. (Clearly he's a product of parents from opposite sides of the globe and they want him to learn both languages and feel comfortable in both cultures, so they gave him both an English name and a Japanese name.) His first name, Ash, is written アッシュ in katakana, and his first middle name, Aoba, is written 蒼葉 in kanji. He has a second middle name and obviously a last name too, but I'm not putting full names on the Internet because well you know. Badness!

I wonder if there are any awesome English children's books I can send for when he's older that also have Japanese versions? Several places I've seen have said bilingual children benefit from having two versions of the same book.

You've got a lot of stuff to learn, li'l baby!
The next day, Sunday, was our last day in San Francisco. We went over to my sister's place and hung out with them and the baby. We didn't do anything special really--the baby was enough entertainment. And Grandma got to have a ball.

It's so funny how he looks at her like she's being so silly and weird.
"Is that a joke? I don't get it!"
We all went to a nearby café called Simple Pleasures to have some noms and coffee/tea, and there happened to be a jazz duet there playing piano and saxophone. We sat right in front of them and the baby didn't wake up, all cozy and cuddled in the carrier against Yusuke's chest. So cute!

And we just chilled for a while at the apartment after that. The baby is such a cutie. He has no idea why he's such a big deal, and sometimes he just looks at you like "What?"

I love when he gets the forehead wrinkles.
And then it was back to Tampa. The plane rides were cold, and there was snow in Denver when we landed, and then our shuttle back from the airport was a real pain in the butt--it took just over two and a half hours to get us home because we were the last stop and they packed in like nine people! Still haven't heard from the company, even though they said they'd do something to make up for that.

Return trip plane selfie! I like plane selfies.
I did get to get some drawing done, and some reading, and a fair amount of editing for my mentee from Pitch Wars. Hooray! And . . . now I'm preparing for Vacation 2: The Birthday Adventure. Look out for updates on my road trip, because . . . it's going to be legendary. :D

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

#PitMad January 2014

Guys! It's Pitch Madness on Twitter! Unagented and/or unpublished writers looking for agents and small publishers can jump on the #PitMad tag on Twitter and pitch your book today!

Full rules/explanations on Brenda Drake's blog.

So . . . would you like some advice on pitching?  Here we go!

First off, I have only participated in ONE Twitter contest as an author trying to get signed, and I did get a request (though the agent did not ultimately offer on my book). What I learned from the experience and from watching the others who got requests is that trying to sum up the whole story in one tweet does not work. Don't give them plot summary!

The purpose of the tweet is to get agents and publishers interested enough to ask for more. You can do this by shocking them, intriguing them, or--best of all--making them laugh.

I recommend against being vague or generic. Focus on what's really different or unusual about your book. 


He may be her dream guy, but he's NOT what he seems!


Dev can manipulate Kay's dreams, and now she believes he's someone he's not. Will their meeting be a dream come true or a nightmare?

I recommend against naming all the elements your book contains in a list format. It just makes us go "okay, so it has this stuff in it, but I don't connect." Give us one unusual element to focus on.


Lady cop faces car chases, shootouts, and love triangles in a high-speed crime drama.


Jess's cop ex-lover has decided she needs to die. Too bad her police training didn't cover how to survive a shootout while running in heels.

I recommend connecting us to something personal about your character rather than just reducing them to a name, age, or profession.


Cameraman Nick wants to date rising celebrity Summer, but doesn't know how to approach their relationship.


Summer's incredible superpowers have made her famous, but Nick craves a down-to-earth romance with the girl who can fly. 

I recommend against pitching devoid of voice. Give us some funny or sarcastic flavor that matches your book if at all possible, and don't worry if we don't have the context to understand; just make us curious enough to ask!


Cassie has two personalities. They both want different things. She goes on a quest to figure out who to date and who she is.


Can't a girl and her other self have a good old-fashioned reality-crossing romance anymore? 

Sometimes it's incredibly hard to figure out what agents and publishers will nibble on, of course, and they all like different things for different reasons. But focus on a clincher, a one-liner, a sentence that makes you blink and think "Wait, what?" You only need to make them ask for more. Then you get to show them your query. Remember that, and happy pitching!  

(For the record, the first two pitches in these examples are things I made up for hypothetical books, so if you want to read them . . . sorry, they're not real. The last two examples are for books I actually wrote. And the final one is a Twitter pitch that got me a request.)