Monday, April 22, 2013

NYC Trip!

I am in love with New York City. I miss it like crazy. If you've never been and you ever get the chance to go, take it!

My hubby and I started out with a trip to the Natural History Museum. Or, as my kids like to call it, "The Night at the Museum" Museum.

Where we got to see things like the most adorable little skellies imaginable.

Okay, I may be just a *little* scared of spiders. They don't even have to be real. Give me any six-legged creature and I'm fine. Give me something with eight legs, and eeuurrrrghh. So, I'm standing there, staring at this wall, trying very hard not to be freaked out that there's some crab-like creature that looks very spider-like and as big as me....

...when my hubby looks up and says, "Uh...." In an "Oh, no-- this is going to freak her out" sort of way. Which immediately makes me crouch, cover my head with my arms and look up. Gosh. This picture so doesn't do this giant squid justice! This baby is like 40 feet long. Big enough that when I looked up, I didn't see the squid body--- all I saw were legs bigger around than my arm, and I screamed. An Imminent-Death-By-Gigantic-Spider-Consumption scream that drew everyone's attention and freaked out every kid (and possibly every adult) around.

Then I realized it was a squid and not a spider (and clearly has ten legs instead of eight), and everything was okay. (At least for me. Some of the kids were still a little rattled.)

We took tons of pictures for our kids, including this of an ancient wall phone that my kids didn't believe actually still existed anywhere in the world. They were awed by the photographic evidence that they aren't extinct.

I loved the Subway. A LOT. Even though there was a disappointing lack of crazy people on it. Seriously? Why so many normal people? I was dying for at least one crazy!

We took it everywhere, even though we were both Subway Newbs. I thought we were getting the hang of it after the first day, until we woke up the second day and headed off toward Random House. Apparently I led us to the wrong Subway entrance on 34th Street, so when we couldn't find the train we needed, we walked in the labyrinth underground for what felt like forever. Eventually, we found what was the right place, but then we thought that Random House was now halfway between where we were and the next subway stop. So we went above ground and started walking.....

And walking faster. And faster. And then hurrying as fast as we could because ohmygosh we were so very wrong and so very far away and even though we left very early, we were going to be very late. (Why it didn't occur to us to hail a cab, I'll never know.)

Oh, and it was the hottest day New York had seen since last fall.

We finally arrived at our destination (late, but excited, smelling like the street, with sweat on my back) and stared up at the beautiful building. (Seriously-- is this not so very pretty?)

Yes, I stood in front of the building and took a picture, while I'm sure the guy inside grinned and thought, "Another Newbie Author's first time here." I didn't even care. IT'S MY FIRST TIME AT RANDOM HOUSE!!

I walked into the lobby in reverenced awe. The lobby is lined with their books. In 5 months or so, mine will be there amongst them. Surreal? You betcha.

The guy behind this desk led us up to the 8th floor to meet my editor, Shana, who is just as beautiful and amazing and kind in person. She hugged me, and all I could think was I SMELL LIKE THE STREET! AND MY BACK IS STILL SWEATY! She probably thinks I'm not okay with hugs by how quickly I pulled away.

But then she gave me two ARCs (and I almost started crying, right there in her office, at seeing my book in book form for the first time), and took me around to meet people. First was my publicist Paul. He is incredible. And I found out that my teacher from a few years ago, Brandon Sanderson, and I share the same publicist! James Dashner, too! Then I met the school and library marketing people, the copy chief, the President of RHCB, the art director, and the marketing folks. I was blown away by how kind and enthusiastic everyone was. I love them all to pieces.

Then I my hubby and I went out to lunch with my editor and the art director, where she told me all about the awesome treatments they're doing on my cover. It was so much fun, I totally forgot to take pictures!

That just means I get to go back again soon, right? ;)

Now let's look at the pretty building again, shall we?

This is me, in the subway, still giddy at holding my ARC.

Then we went on the Staten Island Ferry.

And to the memorial at Ground Zero.

And the next day, to Bobby Flay's restuarant, Bar Americain, with my lovely agent Sara where we got to hear some of the funniest query stories ever. I think this was possibly the thing my kids were most excited about us getting to see. My daughter was dreaming about me running into Bobby and getting his autograph for her for DAYS.

I didn't run into Bobby, but I did get a picture of my dessert! And yes, it was every bit as tasty as it looks.

Then we took a Pedi-Cab on a tour through Central Park where we got to see a wedding under the bridge....

And this fountain. And the homeless man bathing in it.

And as we walked the streets of NY for hours, we saw things like F.A.O. Schwartz....

... where they have Hot Tamales bigger than my laptop!

Then we went here...

....and got to see this. :) :) :) :) :)

And decided that 5 days (two of them travel days) wasn't nearly enough time to spend in a place with so much to see.

Then we took one last ride on the subway-- to the airport. About halfway there, a man entered our car, and started chanting sermon-like. Between his strong accent and the subway noises, I couldn't understand what he was saying at all. Either he was selling drugs that would make you "sleep forever," or saying that homeless people shouldn't be hungry. It was unclear. Another man in the car didn't like the man's loud chanting, so to counter it, he started singing at the top of his lungs "DOE, A DEER, A FEMALE DEER..." The man was unfazed by the competition, so the other man kept getting louder and louder until the song was over and he was just yelling, "LALALALALALALALALALA!"

Crazy subway riders at last. I could've died of happiness.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Book deal for my CP

So I have this amazing critique partner, Jessie Humphries, who wrote an incredible book. Not only did she write a book that was amazing, but she EDITED IT like editing was an extreme sport. I have never seen-- or even heard-- of anyone working as hard as she did on making a book as fabulous as possible before they got a book deal. I thought I was insane in my pre- submitting to editors edits, but Jessie blew me out of the water like nobody's business. This girl went to unbelievable lengths on her book, and it paid off big time.

Her publisher had been scouring through submissions for many months to find the perfect one to launch a new, unique, groundbreaking line, and found the perfect book in Jessie's submission, and snatched it up in a heartbeat.

And because her book was perfected before even going on sub (I'm talking perfected in a way that blew away her agent. In a way that her editor said he's never witnessed before), it's coming out in a mind-blowing TWO MONTHS FROM NOW!

The power of revisions.

So go congratulate her! The girl is an incredible example of what to do so editors can't bear to tell you no.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Quotes and Cookies: My new favorite quote on critiques

New York was INCREDIBLE! So. Very. Incredible. I am still lagging way behind in the game of catch-up, and haven't even gotten a chance to look at my pictures yet, but I will do a post on it soon.

I recently ran across a quote that I think is brilliant! For a long time, I've heard (and totally believe in) two different pieces of advice that I've had a hard time reconciling.

The first piece of advice is that you need to have a good (and very strong) sense of your book, so when critiquers suggest you do different things, you know which voices to listen to. If you don't, your book will head a million different directions, trying to please everyone, and it'll end up worse than when you started.

I totally believe in this.

The second I'm not sure if I've ever heard, or if it's just the way I feel. Whenever I hear about an issue from a critique partner, I figure that person represents a slice of the bigger pie that will one day be my readers. If I don't find a way to address that issue, then all the people that critique partner represents will have the same issue.

I totally believe in this, too.

Yet they seem to be at odds with each other.

Then I ran across a quote from Neil Gaiman that explains why those two can both be true, and coexist. Are you ready? Here it is:

"Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong."

~Neil Gaiman

I had never heard this quote before, which surprises me. The thing is pure gold! There's a big difference between a critique partner bringing an issue to your attention, and them telling you how to fix it. (Which explains why you sometimes really bristle at a suggestion.) And of course, asking a critique partner to brainstorm ways in which the issue could be fixed is something else entirely, and can be so so so helpful.

Now that we've had such a breakthrough, let's skip the cookies and go straight for the donuts, shall we?

Thank you,!

Have a fabulous weekend, everyone!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

NYC, here I come!

Ohmygosh, you guys. In just a few days time, I'm going to be here:

photo credit: EJP Photo via photopin cc

My hubby and I decided that for our anniversary, we're going to go to New York. Times Square, specifically. It's been forever since we've gone on a vacation sans kids! They are old enough that they are easy to take, and I hate going places and just wishing they were there to see everything too, you know? Plus, they're awesome, and I'd miss them. BUT, I am very excited to go on this trip just with my husband! I'm excited for him to meet my agent, and I'm excited for us to both meet my editor and her assistant, my publicist (holy frijoles! by this time next week, I'll have a publicist!), my marketing team, the art director, and possibly even the publisher. Plus, I'll get to tour the Random House building. And we're going to see as many of the sites as two people can possibly see in 5 days' time. I'm so happy/anxious/thrilled/nervous/ecstatic I can't stand it!

Have you ever been to NYC? Are you dying to go there as much as I am? If you've been before, what should I make sure that I don't miss?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Most Important Book Ever – I had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew

Hi, everyone! This is Liz Coley. She's in the Lucky 13s with me, and she is made of awesome. Her book, PRETTY GIRL-13 just came out, and sounds so creepily fascinating! She's here with us today, talking about the most important books in her life. I love that this one is a Dr. Suess one. :) Take it away, Liz!

After Hop on Pop, the next most important book ever  in my life was also by Dr. Seuss. I had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew is the perfect story. There’s a  brilliant beginning, a middle fraught with rising  conflict, and a bittersweet, empowering life lesson  and personal growth at the end. Perfect.

In the beginning: “I was real happy and carefree and young and I lived in a place called the Valley of Vung, where nothing, not anything ever went wrong. Until….” In a mere twenty-seven words, we have a vividly drawn protagonist, a setting, and a situation on the brink of change.

In the middle, the poor protagonist suffers a stubbed toe. First solution? Watch where you are going. Then he’s bitten from behind. Second solution? Aim eyeballs in different directions. Vowing vigilance ahead and behind, he is attacked from above and below. Now he’s in a real quandary because he only has two eyes. What’s a lad to do? He sets off on a journey to find a new and safer place he’s heard of—“the City of Solla Sollew on the Banks of the beautiful River Wah-Hoo, where they never have troubles! At least, very few.” This classical hero’s quest takes him through terrible trials in which, just as hope is in sight, something else goes horribly wrong repeatedly. The final insult, the ultimate crisis, is the single trouble with Solla Sollew: the door to almost-paradise is locked, barred by a key-slapping slippard.

At the end, the moment of truth, the hero learns of a more distant Utopia, “the city of Boola Boo Ball on the banks of the beautiful River Woo-Wall, where they never have troubles! No troubles at all!” He’s wary; he’s been let down by so many promises along the way. Can he flee trouble one more time, just a little farther, for a promise? No, he decides. Something in him has changed. After facing Poozers and billions of birds and a flubulous flood and a camel with gleeks, he has outgrown his innocence. He wasn’t passive to begin with, but now he’s stronger and wiser, and he picks up a weapon and heads home.

The twenty-word resolution: “I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready, you see. Now my troubles are going to have trouble with me.”

I can’t even convey how much I loved this story, how many times I read it until it was memorized, and how much I still love it today. I think it is Seuss’s crowning glory.

About Pretty Girl-13:

When thirteen-year-old Angela Gracie Chapman looks in the mirror, someone else looks back–a thin, pale stranger, a sixteen-year-old with haunted eyes. Angie has no memory of the past three years, years in which she was lost to the authorities, lost to her family and friends, lost even to herself.  Where has she been, who has been living her life, and what is hiding behind the terrible blankness? There are secrets you can’t even tell yourself.

Available in ten languages on five continents
About Liz:

Liz lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, her teenaged daughter, a snoring dog, and a limping old cat. When she's not involved in writing-related activities, she can be found sewing, baking, shooting photos, playing tennis, and singing.