Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
This book is a smart, fun story about four extraordinarily gifted kids who must stop an evil man from taking over the world through hidden messages in the television--basically, television is rotting people's minds.
It takes place in a very Roald Dahl-esque Real-But-Not-Real world (and if you've read any Roald Dahl, you know his thoughts on the television), and the characters are wonderfully memorable. The four kids have such fun character quirks and real emotions that you can't help but be endeared and cheer out loud for them. Along the way, the kids must solve several puzzles and clues to achieve their goal, and you find yourself working out the problems right along with the kids as you read it. The back jacket flap asks in bold, "Are you a gifted child?" From the very beginning of the book, you think hey, I believe I am, thank you very much. It's full of heart, and just a gem of a book. I can't wait to read the sequel, and then the third one coming out in October.
Having said that, I now Officially and Publicly Recommend The Mysterious Benedict Society.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
It was great seeing all the old group, and awesome meeting all the new people, too! The best conference I never attended!
Friday, May 22, 2009
For my "holiday" weekend, I'll be working about 12 hours a day. Of course, it's really cool work because I am going to be a referee for the Men's Junior National water polo tournament. This will be by far the biggest event I have ever reffed, and if I do well this weekend, I could potentially get on the fast track to start reffing internationally! Am I justified in being just a little bit nervous?
Anywho, I hope everyone has a great Memorial Day weekend!
Saturday, May 16, 2009
The Lemonade Stand Rules:
2) Nominate ten other blogs and link to them .
3) Let your nominees know that they've received the award.
1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.
2) Pass the award to 5 or more other bloggers that you've newly discovered.
3) Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
Your award winners, without further ado (and in no particular order):
1. Paul Aertker
2. Nidal Bukhari, Tyler Kelly, and Jeremy Olson - Twigdiculous
3. Corey Schwartz - Thing 1 and Thing 2
5. Purple Clover (She won't reveal her true identity. ;) So I can't put her real name here)
I limited it to five, just because I don't have an extensive blog roll, and I want the award to mean something. All these people are either newish to the blogosphere or newish to me! So check 'em out! (And sorry for the weird spacing, it got all messed up when I added the pictures)
Friday, May 15, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I opened up Publisher's Lunch this morning and found something very interesting. Apparently, you can publish your blog posts to Kindle and make them available for purchase for a couple of bucks. Amazon keeps most of the profit, but I don't really think it's about the profit.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
To all you mothers out there, I hope your day is filled with awesomeness!
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
- Sloppy writing will get you thrown out immediately. I found myself not even finishing a query if it opened up with an awkward sentence, or some other mistake that fragrantly caught my eye.
- Voice is more important than a catchy premise. While a good tag line up front helps, the style of the writing and whether or not it pulled me in was infinitely more important than the one-liner hook, or overarcing premise. If it was a great hook with lackluster writing, I found myself thinking the hook felt gimmicky.
- Get to the story right away. Whenever there was a paragraph of praise toward the agent/writer's accolades at the beginning, I skipped it. If you're going to include this, put it at the end once you've already got the agent loving your voice and story idea.
- Accolades help, but not as much as I thought. If I liked a query, the mention of some publishing credits confirmed my decision to request, but their presence did not sway me into requesting if I didn't much like it to begin with. Also, a lack of publishing credentials didn't prevent me from requesting if I liked the idea and query.
- When an agent says it's not right for them, they're telling the truth. Now more than ever, I realize that that intangible "it's gotta click with me" is one of the most important decisions that an agent makes in deciding to represent someone. This is the biggest reason to query widely; you never know who it might click with.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
I just finished listening to the audiobook version of Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture for the third time, and thought I should Officially and Publicly recommend it to everyone.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
I love March Madness. It's the only time of the year I watch basketball, but I just love it. So many upsets and buzzer-beater victories, and ultimately, a crowned champion.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Sunday, March 8, 2009
So what did we do, you ask? To which I wittily answer: MarPrilWriMo.
I'm sure most of you have heard of NaNoWriMo before. You know, write a novel (or at least 50k of one) in a month. We're not going to be quite as intense (shooting for 30k, which averages out to a grand a day), but it still will be a fun, commiserating, one-person-pushes-the-other-until-everyone's-achieving-more-than-they-would-have-on-their-own kinda way to pound out those pages.
If anyone ELSE cares to join in on the fun (not to mention, it'd be almost a third of that 100k we're all shooting for by year's end knocked out), we're starting tomorrow, March 9th and running through April 9th. Midnight to Midnight, I suppose, if you want to be all official about it. We could even potentially schedule some word wars and think up some dares such to make it really feel like nanowrimo. Join us. It'll be fun, I promise.
And see you on the MarPrilWriMo front!
Saturday, March 7, 2009
But you've got to start in pieces. So I'm posing two things: a question and a challenge.
First, how many words of fiction do you think you've written so far, in your lifetime? Just a rough estimate. I'd guess I'm probably right around 110,000.
Second, I challenge you to add at least 100,000 words to your total before the year is out. Counting today, there are exactly 300 days left in 2009, which leaves only a little over 300 words a day on average. That's only a page in Times New Roman font. That would put me personally over 200k, and I'd be pretty stoked with that. One fifth of the way towards mastery.
Anyone up for the challenge?
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Sunsets. I love figuring out different ways to write that the sun is finishing it's long day of hard work lighting up the world. I've tried to tone them down in my actual manuscript at the risk of sounding redundant, but I still really enjoy writing them. Here are a few samples (One of which is actually the opening line to my novel...can you guess which?):
“The setting sun sprinkled flitters of gold across the crashing waves.”
"The sun’s last rays clung to the city skyline, splashing milky gold across its towering sand structures."
"The sparse trees stood like velvet cutouts as the sun sunk behind the mountain."
Is there one specific thing that YOU really like to write about?
2 - Click here: http://www.quotationspage.
3 - Click here: ht tp://www.flickr.com/expl
4 - Assemble it in Word, Photoshop or http://www.picnik.com/ and post a link to it!
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Then I made The Move. I proceeded to the back of the bus, next to my buddy Daniel, and she sat in the row just ahead of me. On this particular day we hadn't been doing any sharing of flakes, so conversation hadn't been flowing yet--which makes this next part even awesomer, I think. I was sitting there crouched low in my bus seat, wondering if I should say hello or make some small talk, when suddenly her hand appears on the top of her seat in front of me. In a flash of instinct, before I could even think to stop myself, and leaped up and kissed her hand! She blushed and pulled it away, and I think from then we were official.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
I was in Target today, looking to spend my recently acquired gift card, and headed straight for the books section. Let me tell you something, friends, it was practically empty. There were at least five or six different books that were completely sold out, and several others that had maybe one copy left on the rack.
Has anyone else noticed this, in stores like Target? And does it mean book sales are up, or that Target just isn't buying as many books? It seems to me that if these books are selling out at Target, then they should be doing at least fairly well in other actual, well, bookstores.
At Big Sur Andrea Brown did say that history has always shown children's books survive through hard times in the publishing world, so I'm hoping this is an indication of things to come. Maybe parents are finally realizing that if you calculate the number of hours of entertainment you get with reading a book and compare it to how long it takes to watch a movie, books are actually VERY cheap entertainment.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Monday, February 9, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Alas, this motivation has very little to do with writing books. I'm starting to hearken back to my original dream that brought me down the path to being a writer in the first place: animation/theme park design. A couple years into my college career I got really into the notion that I wanted to start my own animation studio, which would eventually lead me to opening my very own theme park. I bought a bunch of books on animation and imagineering, and designed several rides and a cartoon character for each land in the park, six in all. I was very into it. Only problem is, I can't draw. At all. Seriously.
But then another idea for a story popped into my head that I liked a lot, too, and that idea transformed itself into my first novel, which I just finished. Writing was great because I didn't have to find some awesome artist to animate my ideas and bring them to life; I just needed a notebook and a computer, and my ambition.
But in reading about Walt and all his struggles and successes, and the fabulous story that is his life, I'm wanting to get going on that almost-forgotten dream of mine. I love teamwork, and all the comraderie and group effort that goes into something like an animated film or designing a ride is what I'm really looking for in my creative outlets. I'm seriously ready to pack up right now, move back to LA and start my own animation studio.
Too bad I have a car payment weighing me down (although Walt did sell his car to pay for the second take of recording the audio for the first Mickey cartoon...history repeating itself, perhaps? Or so I'd like to tell myself.) and the general concern for eating food and surviving. What's an ambitious young man to do?
I'm thinkin' I need to find me a good animator, that's what. Or maybe publish a book or two first, get some clout in the creative field. Who knows, but my hope is that some of this pent-up motivational energy will at least spread to all of you who read this, and you'll each go crank out like five novels in four hours. Because that's how excited I get when I start talking about this stuff.
Now get crankin'!
Monday, January 19, 2009
Saturday, January 3, 2009
So, where was I? Ah yes, dinner on Saturday night. Well, I ended up sitting at the same table as the aforementioned Editor again (I swear I wasn't stalking him; on Saturday night he actually approached ME as we were walking into the banquet room). We had another great dinner, and when I started talking with the people next to me about what I write, The Editor piped in from a couple seats down and said, "and he writes it very well." Well how about that? That little comment from him gave me the confidence to eventually ask the ultimate question. I'll get to that in a bit.
As dinner wore on, the subject of Agent MS, who I've submitted a partial to, came up, and The Editor mentioned that he was good friends with him. More good news, right? After hearing that, a little seed planted itself in my mind about how I might maximize the potential of the weekend. But it was a seed that would only blossom if watered with some courage.
After dinner, there was a fantastic Q & A with all of the editors that were in attendance. They talked about publishing/submitting in general, the absolute necessity of an agent, and the state of the children's book industry in this economy. Good news, folks: while every other division of the publishing industry might be hurting horribly, the children's sector is perfectly fine. They said that history has shown that children's books have never suffered too harshly, even in a recession/depression, because children always need to read. So the editors are all absolutely still acquiring, and the agents are all absolutely still looking for new authors.
Okay, back to my little seed. Let me preface this with why I was slightly nervous: When we were in our second critique group with The Editor, one of the members asked that if we worked REALLY hard and revised our work, could we maybe submit to him? He answered with a flat, "Absolutely not," that was sorta joking-but-serious, then said bye and walked out of the room without another word. I talked to him later about that and he felt kinda bad about it, but I actually thought it was quite hilarious. But you can see that he's not afraid to say no, and how that might make me nervous. Now, while sitting at dinner, I thought what better way to give my book a little nudge towards success than a couple approving words from a major editor. So after a couple quick self-pep talks, I approached The Editor and said, "I was wondering, and feel free to say absolutely not, but if I could maybe get your stamp of approval to send a quick update email to Agent MS saying that you enjoyed my material."
He replied instantly with an, "Absolutely! Tell him I enjoyed it and am interested in it, and you can tell him that I told you to say it."
So there you have it; I obviously got on the computer right away and emailed Agent MS with the update. I still haven't heard back from him, but I know he's very busy and I've gotten used to waiting. But NOW, even if I do get a rejection this time, I'll be able to include in my query that The Editor has expressed interest in my manuscript. Talk about your Ace in the Hole for getting something read.
The next day we had our final critique group. At that point my weekend had been made and I didn't really care how this one went, but it actually went really well, and added a very nice little extra positive spin to coast into that final section of the insane rollercoaster that was my Big Sur Weekend. It sure made the next week in Disney World a lot sweeter.
(P.S., Sorry it took so long for Part Two; I've been in Colorado since the day after Christmas without access to a computer. Sheesh, I feel like I'm always apologizing for taking too long to post things; maybe I need to be more disciplined.)