Monday, May 23, 2011

One Ticket for Adorable-Class, Please

The things I have to research can lead to some disturbing Google Images, but sometimes I luck out and come across much more pleasant search results.

Recently my editor asked me to check if it was accurate to have a mouse described in the story as "the color of sand."

When I did a search on mice in Northern India, these little fellas came up:

Cutest way ever to escape a monsoon.

And you know how Internet searches are--you see one mouse riding a frog, and pretty soon you're clicking on videos of other animal jockeys.

How tired do you have to be to hitch a ride with this guy?

I was surprised to find how many animals had the same idea:

Hard to imagine that would be much fun, or efficient. Unless you're this guy:

Okay, that was fun, but it's time to get back to work. Just as soon as I Google whatever that last animal was riding the tortoise.

Monday, May 16, 2011

I'm Sure Jane Austen Agonized Over Author Photos Too

Last week my publisher asked for my author photo. I found a picture on my computer to send in, but it's just a placeholder for now. I didn't mention that I'm putting off getting my author photos taken.

I'll do it soon-ish, like this summer, but since there's not enough time to lose a metric buttload of weight before then, I at least want to grow my hair out. See, a couple months ago I got my haircut. Twice in two days. So I have a lot less than I'm used to. Yes, I have a hairstylist I've been going to for a while who I'm really happy with, but, um...I had a Groupon for a cut and color at another salon. Of course I had to try it because sometimes I don't think things through it was such a great deal and it looked like a nice place.

Long story short, I left the salon looking like I'd been attacked by a team of drunk scissor-wielding monkeys. Instead of the long layers I asked for, I had a multi-layer extravaganza that approached mullethood.

The next day I slinked into a trusted salon for a repair, and the guy did a great job transforming me into something like a normal person. But of course he had to work with what he had, which wasn't much. And I can get it looking pretty nice if I spend some time on it. I usually don't, though, and by the time I walk out into the 1000% humidity, I give up and resort to using my sunglasses as a headband.

And that won't do for the book jacket.

So if the publisher wants the photo sooner rather than later, what are some other options? Hats are in now, right, because of the recent royal wedding?

I know the hat doesn't hide the hair, but if you're wearing this, no one notices anything else, right? It does make a statement, that's for sure. But the statement is something like, "I have no idea how to shop."

Maybe a different look. This company makes some interesting hats that are good for any bad hair day:

They're also good for a bad face day.

But I don't know if that's the right look. How about something more creative? I can't think of anyone more creative than Lady Gaga. No, of course I'm not going to wear the meat hat. Don't be ridiculous.

Too much?

Wait a minute, we know how much I love fellow author Snooki. How would I look with a Snooki pouf?

...and Snooki boobs.

I think we have a winner. I look so writerly!

Thanks to my sister Lisa's friend Casey Clark, creative services director of Zimmerman Communications, for her time and Photoshop skills.

Before I get the real pictures taken, I'll get my hair done by a real professional. And I have a Groupon for a microdermabrasion facial, too! So if you notice my nose looks like it was added with Photoshop, you'll know why.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

That's What (S)he said: Weekly Round-Up

Hi everyone! Here's the latest "interesting things I found around the interwebs" post:

I'll start with this fascinating article from ScienceBlog, "We Actually 'Become' Happy Vampires or Contented Wizards When Reading a Book," about how our need for social connection causes us to identify with the characters we read about in books.

In The Hunger Games casting news, we found out that Woody Harrelson will play Haymitch Abernathy, mentor to Katniss and Peeta. I don't think anyone pictured him as Haymitch, (I was thinking of someone more like Phillip Seymour Hoffman or Nick Nolte), but I bet Harrelson will play the role so well we won't be able to picture Haymitch any other way after that.

Are mermaids the next vampires? Sounds like they are, from all the upcoming mermaid novels I keep hearing about and from this article in USA Today. I think the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie will contribute to mermaids' popularity too. Have you seen the creepy mermaids in the new trailer?

Glee fans, check out E.M. Kokie's post, "Don't throw yourself around like you don't matter," about the Brittany/Santana storyline and why it hasn't the attention Kurt's journey has.

I love hearing about how other authors like to write. We all do it differently, but the goal is the same--write an awesome book that readers don't want to put down. I write a lot like what Roni Loren describes in her post "My Ten Steps to Novel Completion." I tend to edit as I go, but I'm trying to write first drafts now without editing so much. The revising works out better after I've written the novel and know the story and characters better. Characters always come to me before the plot too. Still have no plot for the next novel I want to write, although I have the characters, maybe a setting, and some random stuff that happens.

Because of Blogger's recent meltdown, the Help Write Now folks have extended the bidding time for their Day 7 items, which includes the second package donated by the Apocalypsies and a critique and phone call from SuperAgent Joanna Volpe. Bidding for these listings will end Monday night.

From Blurb is a Verb, here's author Emily St. John Mandel's Five Questions Never to Ask at a Bookstore Signing. Are you guilty of any of these offenses?

Speaking of bookstore signings, Will Write For Cake buddy Christina Mandelski's debut YA novel, THE SWEETEST THING was released this week, and she had her first book signing yesterday! So happy for her but sad for me since I had to miss it. (College graduation of niece and nephew took me out of town.) Thankfully Vonna Carter was there and put up a blog post about the event right away, with pictures. No word on if anyone asked her the forbidden questions.

Have a fabulous week!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hit Send, Then Forehead

Had to stay up most the night to get them finished, but I was finally able to get round two of the edits turned on Friday morning. Yay! Such a relief to get those finished and click "send." After taking a moment to dance around the living room, of course, I had a little time left to get ready for work.

I think I was still smiling during my commute when I literally smacked myself in the head. THE DELETED SCENES! THEY'RE STILL THERE!

You might know how well I handle requests to delete things, so when I did take out scenes the editor wanted removed from the manuscript, I tacked them on at the end to save them. I couldn't bear to just shove them outside to be all alone in the cold and rain. Plus, maybe I'd find a place they could be used. If not the whole scene, at least a sentence or a few of the prettiest words.

But I meant to cut and paste them onto a new document before sending the manuscript. They weren't supposed to be clinging onto "THE END" or standing around like bad house guests. As soon as I parked I took out the phone to fire off an "ACK!" email to the editor. She's lovely, and replied back with a "No worries allowed" message. I still felt like a dork.

It could have been worse, though. At least I didn't have any notes-to-self on there like, "Develop sinister plot to sneak this back into the manuscript. Mwoohoohoohahaha!" And thankfully it's an editor I'm already working with and she's really nice. If this were our first correspondence, leaving a page and a half of randomness after the story ends wouldn't make the best impression.

I know I'm not the only one--what flakiness have you submitted in a premature click of the "send" key? Letters addressed to "Dear Agent," or a draft that wasn't ready to go?

Anything that's made you feel like this guy?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

That's What (S)he said: Weekly Round-Up

Just realized that my last blog post was also a weekly round-up, but I've just emerged from a revision cave, so that's ok, right? Round two edits are done! Yay! Of course it was after hitting "send" that I realized I left all my deleted scenes tacked on to the end of the manuscript. Oops. Literally smacked myself in the forehead while driving when I remembered I hadn't taken those off.

So now I'm catching up on some of the great blog posts that were out there this week.

Please stop by the Help Write Now auction and browse through the awesome items you can bid on to benefit The Red Cross' relief efforts for storm victims around the country. The 2012 debut Apocalypsies have donated two packages; the first is up today, and includes critiques of 50 pages, a query, and a synopsis from several members, plus two ARCs and a 10-page editor critique. I'll be in on the second package and will post the link here when that's posted.

I don't know if I'll ever be able to write a good picture book, but I've always loved reading them. Here's a fabulous article from The Horn Book, "Why We're Still in Love With Picture Books" by Allyn Johnston and Marla Frazee.

Agent Kristin Nelson has one of those bookmark-worthy blogs. Her informative post this week about requesting book blurbs from authors is a good one for those in the "I sold a book; now what?" category.

Or, if you're at the query letter stage, check out agent Janet Reid's post about how to format an e-mailed query letter. Also, her Query Shark blog should be regular reading for anyone who's working on writing a good query letter.

The post "Why I'll Never Be An Adult" isn't new, but it's my favorite from Hyperbole and a Half. What is new is her book deal!

And now that she finally has permission to shout her good news to the world, I can out Nikki Loftin as the part of "Rational Bunny" in this post. Her debut novel, THE SINISTER SWEETNESS OF SPLENDID ACADEMY, will be out next year from Razorbill. How awesomely spooky is that title? Congratulations, Nikki!

Lastly, how excited are we about the next Harry Potter movie? But sad too, since it's the last one.

Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

That's What (S)he said: Weekly Round-Up

I'll be doing weekly posts about some of my favorite things I saw around the blogosphere during the week. Many will be writing-related, while some will be about other fun or interesting stuff I found.

Usually I'll put these up on Fridays, but I've been out of town since Thursday with limited Internet access. It was horrifying.

So here's the list of last week's awesomeness:

Do you know about Spaghetti Agents? Maybe you have one. Maybe you've queried one. Read Nathan Bransford's post to find out what to look for.

You've published a novel, now what? Here's a great article by Tayari Jones, "Five Things I Wish I Had Known When I Published My First Book."

When my daughter took the SAT, she said the hardest part was having to write the no-cheatin' oath in cursive before the test started. There was a collective gasp in the room when the students got that instruction. They learned cursive in third grade, but they hadn't been using it much. Some schools now aren't teaching it at all. Some people get really emotional about this, but it doesn't bother me, really-- we're just adjusting with technology that's available now. I'm sure there were people who lamented the loss of quills as writing utensils. A bigger problem might be that people aren't going to be able to read cursive. Maybe handwriting analysts will have trouble finding work in the future, but imagine the possibilities for those who can read cursive for those who look at it like a foreign language. The New York Times had a fascinating article about the disappearance of cursive this week in "The Case For Cursive."

Feel like you suck? It happens to the best. Here's Libba Bray's post about self-doubt, including a hilarious I Suck Playlist.

And because baby animals make everything better, I'll leave you with these baby marmosets from The Daily Squee.

See some fabulous blog posts this week? Please share in the comments!