Friday, February 25, 2011

200 Followers! Blog Party and a Giveaway!

Let's face it: bloggy friends are a huge part of what makes blogging so fun. We read about each other's writing journeys, share tips, and cheer each other on. Blogging has made me feel connected to the writing community on a much grander scale. So thank you! To celebrate having 200 followers, I'm giving away a copy of Betsy Lerner's THE FOREST FOR THE TREES: AN EDITOR'S ADVICE TO WRITERS.

Betsy Lerner is a writer who worked as an editor for 15 years before becoming an agent. She is currently a partner with Dunow, Carlson and Lerner Literary Agency. All these roles (author, editor, and agent) have given her a huge amount of insight--not only into the industry, but also into writers.

Half of the book offers advice to help jump-start writers who may be getting stuck for various reasons. The other half shows publishing from the other side of the desk--the editor's seat--tying in her experiences as a writer and an agent. I've just started reading the second half (of my copy--not the one I'm giving away), and I look forward to hearing what Ms. Lerner has to say about the entire process.

Now let's get to the contest! To enter, all you have to do is:

a. leave a comment on this post before
11:59 p.m. PST on Friday, March 4th
b. be a follower of this blog

c. have a mailing address in the U.S. or Canada (sorry I have to set limits--I wish I didn't)

Each person can enter only once. I think that's it as far as the rules go. I'll update if I realize I forgot something.

What to comment on? Tell me if you've read the book, share the title of your favorite writing book(s), let me know how your writing is going, or just say hi! This is a blog party, people. Pass me an hors d'oeuvre and try not to spill on the carpet!

thank you! Happy writing!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Blog Awards

I've been sitting on some blog awards from really nice bloggers, and it's time I pass them to others.

Thank you,
Hema, for this one.

Hema and I "met" through last year's Mark McVeigh Skype chat. While we haven't met in person, I feel like we have! Hema is very thoughtful, and I always enjoy visiting her blog.

"The Versatile Blogger Award" is from
Amy Sonnichsen.

My beautiful friend
Molly Hall introduced us at the SCBWI Summer Conference in L.A. last year, and I'm so glad she did. Amy is so much fun, and she can out-dance me any day--even when she's pregnant.

Catherine Ensley gave me the "Stylish Blogger Award."

Thanks, Catherine! Catherine is a children's librarian and a writer. She and I hope to meet at this year's SCBWI WWA conference.

Medeia Sharif allowed her award recipients to select one of four awards. I picked this one, the "I am One Citrusy Blogger Award."

it cute and all retro? I figured it could simultaneously jazz up my sidebar and help me prevent scurvy. Hee!

Thank you, Medeia! Medeia
reads books at super human speed, and she has a great blog. She'll debut this summer with her novel BESTEST. RAMADAN. EVER. It's being published by Flux. Medeia, I hope to see you at a conference in the near future!

I'm supposed to tell seven things about myself. Hmm, let's see...

1. I had over six inches cut off my hair a couple weeks ago.

2. I love playing Xbox 360 (or as you hip people might call it, X360) games with my husband and kids even though I'm the worst player in the family.
I'm getting better, though! I haven't given up, family members o' mine! Mwa-ha-ha! (Trust me. They aren't scared.)

3. My daughter and I are addicted to MAD MEN, though we're seasons behind everyone else. Please don't tell me anything! No spoilers! I want to be surprised!

4. I'm slow when it comes to passing blog awards. Obviously.

5. I love Thai food.

6. My husband bought me new work shoes in November.

Soccer players need cleats, ballerinas need tutus, swimmers need Speedos, and I need slippers. Okay,
need is a big word; let's just say I want slippers when I'm writing at home.

7. Some friends and I heard
Jonathan Evison speak last week, and he was super interesting--and funny. Now I want to read WEST OF HERE.

(left to right: me, Margaret Trent, Jonathan Evison, Martha Schoemaker)

I'm going to copy the lovely Medeia and say everyone who commented on my last post gets an award. Well, everyone who commented but didn't pass me one of the above awards. Otherwise it might start to feel like award volleyball. You choose which award you want! So congratulations to TerryLynnJohnson, Lydia Sharp, Stasia, Terri Tiffany, Laura Pauling, Susan R. Mills, Margaret Nevinski, Susan Fields, WritingNut, Suma Subramaniam, Robert Guthrie, Paul Greci, and Sharon K. Mayhew! If you choose "The Versatile Blogger Award" or the "Stylish Blogger Award," you're supposed to list seven things about yourself. Of course, no blog police will come and arrest you if you choose to not list seven things. I'm just saying.

Two more things!
1. Children's book editor and writer
Nina Hess is blogging! She's super smart and a sweetie, so check out her blog!
2. I'm so happy to now have 200 followers, thanks to you fabulous people who have clicked the follow button! I'll do something special for you with my next post!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Congratulations, Elsa!

Elsa Watson has a new book coming out in May 2012. It's called DOG DAYS.

Here's the
Publishers Weekly blurb:

Elsa Watson's DOG DAYS, pitched as a Freaky Friday story with a canine twist in which a small town cafe owner is struck by lightning and switches bodies with the lost dog following her, then must struggle with her new canine instincts to overcome her fear of dogs and learn how to live and love with the carefree perspective of a dog, to
Kristin Sevick at Tor, in a two-book deal, for publication in Spring 2012, by Kevan Lyon at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency (World English).

photo of Elsa and her dog, Lucky, by Susan Wiggs

* * *

When I read Elsa's first book, MAID MARIAN, I'd never met her. I'd read a newspaper article about her that said she was a local writer, and it gave a description of her book. Intrigued by the premise, I bought the book and loved it.

I eventually got to know Elsa through
Field's End and mutual friends. She is such a sweet person! I feel fortunate to have her as a buddy. She's super intelligent, kind-hearted, and--did you guess?--a dog lover.

For those of you who are also dog lovers, here's how Elsa pictures Zoe.

Zoe, by the way, is a white German sheperd. Isn't she a beauty?

Congratulations, Elsa! I'm so excited for you!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Let's Talk about Writing Groups!

Field's End, a local writers' community I love, had a super interesting Writers' Roundtable in December. The title: "Starting, Finding, or Caring for a Writing Group." The speakers were Margaret Nevinski, Margaret Trent, and Paul Hanson. All three are members of the Field's End Team, and together they have oodles of experience with various types of writing groups. Also, Margaret Nevinski is one of my critique group members!

left to right: Margaret Nevinski, Paul Hanson, and Margaret Trent

Even though the event fell on December 21st, four days before Christmas, the room was packed. The speakers had prepared a fabulous list of questions to consider, and they shared their expertise on writing groups as each question was addressed during their talk.

Some of the questions:

*How often will the group meet?

*Will manuscripts be exchanged at the meeting or ahead of time?

*Will there be time for socializing?

*Will there be a moderator?

*Does everyone have to write in the same genre?

*What about skill level?

*Will drop-ins be allowed or is a commitment required?

A couple of the answers they shared:

Paul's group, the
Speculative Fiction Writing Cooperative, is unique in many aspects. Meetings take place at Eagle Harbor Book Co., the incredible independent bookstore where Paul is the manager. Also, it's
not a closed group (I'll define a "closed group" as a group with a set membership); newcomers and drop-ins are welcome. Paul acts as a moderator. He said they talk at the beginning, and it is very much a support group for writers.

Both Margarets felt skill level was important. Margaret Nevinski said if a writer is way more advanced than the others in the group, frustration and resentment can build for that writer. She said frustration could build on the other end as well, if a writer feels like more of a beginner than everyone else.

Questions they listed about goals:

*Do we need them and what will they be?

*Will the group spend all their time discussing members' writing?

*Will we do writing exercises?

*Is their a collective publishing goal?

*Is it a support group?

*Will we invite guest speakers?

*Will we allow time to discuss publishing, marketing, and professional considerations?

They also talked about online groups, rules for critiquing, problems, and when to leave a group (when to disband or when a writer should leave one).

A couple questions regarding rules for critiquing:

*Orally or in writing?

*How to give feedback?

They followed up with what to do with the feedback and how to keep the group on track.

It was a wonderful evening.

How about you? Do you have any writing group advice?
Mine would be to join or start a group, and discuss expectations in advance. I understand some writers do best without a critique group, but not me. My critique groups have been vital to my growth as a writer, and they've strengthened me on this journey.