Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend...

was swell. I had the privilege of going on a road trip with my fun cousin who taught me Spanish (apparently, all you have to do is add -ero to the end of every word) and introduced me to Pandora Radio. I learned that my kids can be pleasant even when on a 10-hour car ride.  Long-lost friends were visited and endless, gorgeous mountain canyons were travelled. I made a new friend--a bright-eyed 2-year old who repeats everything anyone says and who says his name with his tongue stuck out. Way too many M&Ms were inhaled and I had the first ever pleasant conversation about politics. I realized how much I miss living in the great state of Colorado. And the greatest thing about the weekend is how friendships can pick up right where they left off after years of little or no contact.

What did you do for Memorial Day weekend?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Follower Friday--Welcome Jo Ann Schneider

Follower Friday is where I spotlight a blog follower.  Meet the lovely and talented Jo Ann Schneider.

Jo and I have been in the same critique group for almost 2 years now, which means she knows what a punctuation nazi I am and I know that she hates girls who cry too much.  Jo recently won a first chapter contest for YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi.  I've had the privilege of reading the whole novel and it is action-packed awesomeness!   She is in the process of getting her novel ready for publication.  Her blog is called:  Novel Writing or Kung-Fu Fighting?  Jo is down-to-earth, delightful, and deadly.  That's right, people.  She's a black belt, so don't mess.  I asked her a couple of questions and here are her answers.

Q  What is your all time favorite book and why? I'm not very good at favorites. I'll be watching a movie and say, “Oh, this is my favorite part!” like six times. Discrimination is hard for me. However, in the spirit of the question, I'll pick a book I like.

Science Fiction and Fantasy have always been my genres. I remember the first time I read Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. The story and the characters swept me away into a world I'd never known before. The book isn't funny, which is usually one of my requirements for loving a book, but I still found myself drawn to it. I longed to be as smart as Ender, and playing in the battle school training area is a dream I still harbor. So cool! I've never forgotten how it felt to read this story the first time—I'd never wanted a character to win so badly in my life. I wanted to reach into the text and make the story end happily just so the characters that I'd grown so attached to would get their just rewards. For good or ill. Perhaps the book caught me in one of those rare changing moments in life. Or maybe it's just a great story. Either way, my copy is pretty dilapidated.

Q  When it comes to peanut butter, chunky or smooth?
Chunky. When life gets smooth something usually comes along and roughs it up a bit. Why wait, just get it over with in your PBJ!

Thanks for following Jo!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

It Starts in Less than a Week!!

The blog tour calendar is now ready.  You can find it here.  I have been blown away at the response for this blog tour and am so grateful for all of the bloggers participating.  Please give them some support.  I have been to all of their blogs and they are talented, passionate readers.  I will keep a weekly schedule to the left under "Weekly Events" and update the calendar on the Cinder and Ella website.  I am so excited for this event and the opportunity to travel around to all of these awesome blogs!  I hope you will join me on the tour!  There will be reviews, interviews and guest posts by moi.  So, of course you don't want to miss it because if you're still reading this, you must love my blog posts.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Writer Wednesday--Feed the Horse

I hope that no agent or publisher out there will take this personally, but they are a lot like a horse.

Horses will not eat just anything. But a horse will eat hay, oats, carrots and apples. Not only will they eat them, but they will eat them right out of your hand. 

Horses get hay all of the time, so they will only eat that if they are really really hungry. If your book is like hay, it may take a famine to get an agent or publisher to look at you.

Oats, carrots and apples are a treat. Horses will eat them even if their bellies are full. I highly recommend writing something that falls more into this category. Many agents and publishers will tell you what this is; spending some time reading their website or blog should be helpful. For further help, consider reading this blog post about current trends in the YA/MG world. Or, you could just write something that will knock their socks off.

The thing about horses, though, is that they are clumsy eaters. You have to know how to hold your hand just right so that you don't lose your fingers. Or, you have to know how to hold the food just right so that it actually makes it into the horses mouth rather than onto the ground. When it comes to writing, this is where a good query letter comes in. Here are a few pointers:
  • Know your agent/publisher before you begin. Despite what you may have heard, every single one of them wants something different. Keep a sample letter saved in word that you can customize for everyone you send it to.
  • Be brief. (But not too brief.) Your letter will most likely include a short intro, a body that features a short synopsis, and an ending that includes a short, pertinent bio. (Even though it's not in bold, the "pertinent" part is critical. Nobody wants to know what your hobbies are or how wonderful you think your book is. At least, not yet.)
  • Have someone proof it for you and give feedback before you send. If someone is going to reject you, they're going to reject you. Don't let it be because you could have written a better query letter.
  • Let your writing SHINE. Now, I'm not telling you to include glitter, because I've heard they hate that. But, it should get their attention. It should make them say, "Holy crap, that was awesome and it was only a query letter!"
If you would like me to proof your query, feel free to send it along (melissalemon(dot)writing(at)gmail(dot)com). A great place to learn about writing query letters is the Query Shark blog.

Happy querying writers. And don't forget to feed the horse (I mean agent/publisher).

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cinder and Ella Synopsis

For the poets out there.

         of lIfe's
        CinDer and
    in an Attempt
      to uNdo
the kingDom's
            Evil and
   their fAmily.

Now you try. Write a synopsis for a book using as few words as possible and including all of the letters of the title in order.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Wah-wah--(Rap lovers may be offended)

So, one of my kids got this toy car for her birthday, complete with a stereo that plays two little songs--one a rap variation and the other classical. Whenever the rap version comes on, my kids start singing along with it and it sounds something like this: Wah-wah, wah-wah-wah-wah, wah-wah-Wah-wah.
Rap has never been my favorite kind of music. Now I know why. It's just a bunch of Wah-wah. You know, like in the Charlie Brown cartoons and anytime an adult is talking it comes out Wah-wah because adult talk is not understandable to a kid. When it comes to rap, I just don't get it.

Personally, I like rock and alternative rock. What's your favorite kind of music?

Oh, and rap lovers, please forgive me. It's just a prefrence thing.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Some Super Exciting Stuff

Cinder and Ella has a fully fairly functioning website. You can check it out by clicking on the book cover to the left.

You can now preorder Cinder and Ella on Amazon. Click here if you just can't wait to order, and some bleak day in November you will have a surprise on your doorstep.

I'm getting pumped for the blog tour coming up in June (less than 2 weeks). For those of you who don't know what a blog tour is, it is a way for a book to be featured all over the place without the author having to travel anywhere. Kind of cool, right? Technology is a wonderful thing. There will be reviews, guest posts, and interviews. I have been in touch with several of the bloggers participating and I am really looking forward to it. More updates will come as we get closer.

And finally, the most super exciting thing of all. Today is FRIDAY. Have a fabulous weekend!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Evil of Oreo

I'm not a big fan of store-bought cookies.  Why eat one of those when you make chocoloate chip cookies like I do?  But I do have a weakness for oreos.  I decided to make cookies today because it's been about a week (Yes, I average about a batch of chocolate chip cookies a week.  Pathetic, I know).  When I went to grab the brown sugar out of the pantry, I discovered my husband had stashed a package of Mint Oreo Fudge Creams.  The devil.  So, I ate one while I made cookies.  Maybe I'll save some of the cookie dough for when all of the other cookies are gone.  Life is better with chocolate chip cookie dough.  That should be a bumper sticker.

See?  So much better than an oreo.  What's your favorite kind of cookie?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Writer Wednesday--Gee Mom I Wanna Go to Camp

For those of you out there who have never heard of NaNoWriMo, I am going to tell you a little bit about it (and probably will again).  NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.  It is an organization that gives a challenge to write a novel in a month and the challenge is held annually in November.

BUT, I got an e-mail about a week ago about something called Camp NaNoWriMo.  As far as I can tell, it is a way to embark on the challenge in a month other than November.  I highly recommend this challenge.  I will be participating this summer and am waiting for more information to become available.  You can read about it yourself here.  Once you're at the NaNoWriMo site, read under the heading Breaking News.

What novel will I be writing?  No idea.

Are you up to the challenge?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Utah Writers of Canada Meet Again

Tomorrow is when my critique group meets and I'm not quite finished with my piece. The assignment is to write the moment where our protagonist meets the bad guy face to face. This was difficult because I'm not there in my story yet. Not even close. I decided that I was going to try anyway. There are now a couple of pages building up to that point, but I can't decide what comes next. What is my character going to do to this guy? He can't hurt him; that will make him disappear. It is impossible for him to run or hide. If he inflicts pain on himself, he will vanish, but what will that accomplish? I think it's going to be a rough night at critique group. Where are you in your story?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Days of the Week

Friday is usually my favorite day of the week. To me, it signifies that all of the hard work is over and it's time to play and relax. But after a piano recital Friday night and a birthday party Saturday, I am loving that it is Monday. The first day of the work week has never been my favorite. It usually means that the fun is over and it's back to the grind.  But there is something about today that is familiar. Somehow today feels more relaxing than the last few days have been. Somehow, I am glad to see that it is a new week, fresh in its possibilities and experiences.

Happy Monday to you. What's your favorite day of the week?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Writer Wednesday

I would like to dedicate this day to writers: to encourage, to help, to spotlight, to make fun of (I'm just kidding, calm down). 

Since I went to a writing conference last weekend, I thought I'd share something that I got out of that conference.  Several times, as I was surrounded by many aspiring authors that have not yet had that blessed offer for publication, I noticed something.  There were comments like, "Look at all these people, trying to reach the same goal.  It's ________."  You fill in the blank--challenging, discouraging, scary, disheartening.

I have been amazed at the response when I tell people I have a book coming out.  Their eyes widen, congratulations flood out of their mouths.  Even people that are not in the industry seem to understand at least to some degree how difficut this business is.  But there is a pattern, a formula, and for most aspiring authors, they are somewhere along that difficult road of work, rejection, work, rejection and luck.  Yes, unfortunately, luck is a part of the formula.  Someone in the right place at the right time is going to have to fall in love with your book.

But don't give up.  That is the greatest piece of advice that I can give you.  If there are stories inside of you that need to be told, tell them.  If writing is the best way for you to express yourself, then write.  If it is a part of you that you cannot give up, don't.  I love the saying, 'Tis a lesson you should heed, try, try again. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.'

People may tell you along the way that you should quit.  But I won't.  People may tell you that you're crazy or foolish.  I will not.  They may think that you are a dreamer.  (As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing wrong with that.)  Try again.  And again.  And again.

Even though I have a publishing contract, I am still an aspiring author.  I am still on that road, awaiting my next rejection or critic, and hoping for that luck that I still need.  There is comfort in reading my book.  Because if I can get lost in a book that came from my own imagination, a book that I've read ten times, a book that still makes me laugh and cry (sometimes on the same page), then I know someone else can too.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Word Percentages

Have you ever known someone that uses a word that is less than 100%?  For example, I was being trained at a job when I was 18 by a woman who constantly said the word "BASICALLY."  Basically is a 75% word.  You basically box the chips and basically fold the flaps of the box in like this.  There is definitely room for personal interpretation there.

VIRTUALLY is a 0% word.  It isn't really there, it is virtually there.  But I think sometimes it is used as a word that falls somewhere in the 80s.  It's hard to tell.  Any thoughts?

ESSENTIALLY is a 95% word.  I am essentially awake.  Can you hear the lack of commitment there?

POSITIVE is a 100% word, although someone can think they're positive about something and still be wrong.  I know it has happened to me before.

ABOUT is a 50% word.  When people use the word, they are estimating, so I'm putting it right in the middle.  It could be very close to 100%, but it could also be way off.

PRETTY SURE goes two ways.  It can be a 25% word if there is a lot of uncertainty that comes along with it.  But it is often used with a tone of sarcasm.  In this case, I think it is a 99.9% word.

What words can you add to this list?  What is your favorite word percentage word?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Funnies

For Mother's Day, each my kids gave me a paper where they had filled in the blanks to explain why I am a super mom.  My kids think they're pretty funny. 

The oldest melted my heart by describing me as understanding and kind.  Then I saw that she also included "short."  She likes to tease me about this because it won't be long before she is taller than I am and she's not even ten yet.  Ha ha.  She also wrote that I am "in discise."  I can only assume this is meant to be "in disguise" and to tell you the truth, that one has me a little baffled.  Does she not believe that I am her real mother??

Oh, my middle child.  She said some nice things too.  But mostly she left a lot of blank spaces.  I am trying to console myself by believing that she didn't have time because of the beautiful picture that she drew.

And my youngest said that I am super at: "unscrewing things that run out of batteries."  Yes, I have many talents.  The funny thing about that statement, is that when she wants me to change the batteries in something, I struggle to even find a screwdriver that is small enough.  And other times, I have been too wimpy to unscrew the opening that contains the batteries even if I have a screwdriver.  Then I explain that she will have to wait until her dad gets home.  I am glad she has been able to look over these times to see that when it actually happens, I am good at it.  (The trick is to look at the positive and negative signs.)

Don't I look great in green?  At least I have a head, because my oldest drew me without one of those.
I hope all you moms out there had a wonderful Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Top Ten List--Why I'm Excited for LDStorymakers

  1. I get to leave my house for TWO WHOLE DAYS.
  2. Rubbing shoulders with other writers; they are the only ones that understand me.
  3. Learn marketing strategies through repetition.  Learn marketing strategies through repetition.
  4. Dave Wolverton's Worldbuilding class because I think it will be useful for the novel I'm currently working on.
  5. I love chicken and that's what I ordered for dinner.
  6. The massive book signing.  What a great place to people watch.
  7. Carpooling with a friend from writing group because she cracks me up.
  8. The goodie bag.
  9. Soaking up useful information to help me as a writer.  My brain could use some good sponge time.
  10. I get to leave my house for TWO WHOLE DAYS.
In other words:  I can't wait! I can't wait! I can't wait!  LDStorymakers is a writing conference held in the Salt Lake City area every year.  You can learn more about the conference at http://ldstorymakers.com/.