Thursday, October 24, 2013

The WHW Amazing Race: OPEN CALL for Submissions

By now you've probably noticed that Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi at Writers Helping Writers (formerly The Bookshelf Muse) have added two more books to their Descriptive Thesaurus Collection: The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Attributes and The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Flaws. To celebrate, they are hosting a race, and not just any old race, either. It's the...


Writing is hard, isn't it? Create the perfect hook. Make your first page compelling. Craft an amazing 25 word pitch. Knock out a query that will blow an agent's mind. On and on it goes. And sometimes, well, you just wish someone would help.


From October 21st until October 27th, Writers Helping Writers is posting an OPEN CALL for writers. You can fill out a form, requesting help with critiques, book visibility, social media sharing, blog diagnostics, advice and more.

An army of Amazing Racers are standing by (ME INCLUDED!) waiting to help with your submissions. How many people can we help in a week? Let's find out! Did I mention there are Celebrity Racers too--amazing authors and editors who know their way around a first page. Maybe one of them will pick your submission to help with!

Each day this week, there's an AMAZING giveaway, too. So stop in at Angela and Becca's new Writers Helping Writers website and find out how to take advantage of this unique, pay-it-forward event for writers. I'll see you there! 

Photo Credit: Tharrin

Monday, October 21, 2013

This NaNoNewb wants to know: Are you in?

I am a total NaNoWriMo Newbie. I've WANTED to do it a million times before, but November for me usually means being buried deep in revisions, peering out of my revisions cave every now and then in the direction of the NaNoWriMo camp, all wistful. (The last couple of years, I participated in NaNoReviMo instead. :))

But this year, the planets all aligned, and I AM IN! Who else is?

If you've done it before, do you have any advice for any of us NaNoNewbs? I think I could use all of the advice I can get, because I AM DETERMINED TO WIN.

If you're doing NaNoWriMo this year, friend me! My NaNoName is PeggyEddleman. Let's hang out with 117,000 other writers and write a bazillion words in a short amount of time together. It'll be a blast.

P.S. Want to see my query letter, read about how I wrote it and why it worked for my agent? Carl Hackman has a new series called Queries that Hooked an Agent, and he recently featured mine.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Quotes & Cookies: The First Time

"The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right
the first time, unlike, say, brain surgery."

~Robert Cormier

Ha! I have to admit, the term "Dude-- it's not brain surgery," has never come to mind in regards to writing for me. But dude, it's not brain surgery. It's SUCH a good thing to remember! Especially if you just came off intense revisions, where you made your book all pretty, and slaved over each sentence to make sure it flows just so and accomplishes heaps. (Erm-- anyone else really struggle most with remembering that a first draft stinks when you've just spent forever revising?)

So that's my new mantra, going right above my monitor. IT'S NOT BRAIN SURGERY. The first draft can be far from right, and that's just how it should be.

I was going to give us cookies. Honest. And then I saw this, and I wanted to sink my teeth into soft, gooey, crunchy, sweet, (is that sea salt?! yum!) salty goodness. So today is brought to you by Quotes and Caramel Apples.

photo credit: QuintanaRoo via photopin cc
Happy fall, everyone!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Quotes and Cookies: Books aren't written, they're rewritten

I mentioned on Tuesday that my second book went to copy edits. After massive amounts of edits, it's finally to the point where it's only minor things that will change. I cannot even begin to tell you how awesome this makes me feel! It has taken rewrite after rewrite, round of edits after round of edits to get just right.

Want to know what makes me happy right now? The fact that someone like Michael Crichton said this:

Books aren't written, they're rewritten. Including your own.
It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh
rewrite hasn't quite done it.

~Michael Crichton

Because if he spends rewrite after rewrite to get his books the way they need to be, then we all should expect ours to, too.

This calls for a really indulgent, comfort food-ish cookie. Enjoy!

photo credit: poopoorama via photopin cc

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

How to plan a big launch party, and giveaways!

If you've ever thought about having a large launch party, I'm spilling all the secrets about how I planned mine over at the Lucky 13s blog.

Giveaways! Giveaways galore! Want to enter to win a copy of SKY JUMPERS? You can at each of these places:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

On writing your second published book

My second book went to copy edits yesterday.

I never thought I'd be so thrilled to be able to say that sentence! Book 2 has been a bear. It has challenged me, beat me to a bloody pulp, and raised me up to a higher skill level than I've ever known. It has both frustrated and elated me. And in the end, I'm really proud of what it's become.

photo credit: electropod via photopin cc
I've gone into publishing with my eyes wide open, thanks to the many writing bloggers who've been very honest about the process along the way. They helped prepare me for everything before I got to it. Now that book two is finally done, I want to talk about the struggles of writing a second* book, in hopes that it helps someone in the same way.

(*I'm not talking about writing your second book in general-- I'm talking about writing your second published book. It comes with entirely different struggles.)

Factors that make that second book hard:
  • When you are writing under contract for the first time
  • When you are writing the second book in a series
  • When that series is a trilogy
  • When you are writing a book when you have one out in the wild
Any one of those things make writing the next book hard. Combine two or more, and it gets infinitely more difficult. It's just the way it is.

Things I thought were responsible for making it hard:
  • Getting reviews by professionals and by people you don't know will be crippling, and affect your ability to write. 
  • That it would be tough to write knowing that people outside of your family and critique group were actually going to be reading it.
And just like I had guessed before writing a book 2, those things are true, to one extent or another, depending on your nature. But there's a LOT more to it than that.

Other things that made book 2 hard:
  • Character arc. This was a huge stumbling block for me. Before I sold book 1, I had plotted the second and third book. "Plotted" as in "figured out the main plot." For some reason, I had not "plotted" the character arcs. On my next series, you can bet I'll be plotting the character arcs for the entire series along with the main storyline arc from the beginning, since character arc is every bit as important. At the very least, I'd suggest deciding what personality traits will cause them grief, and plant those in the first book.
  • Starting over. When it's your first book that you sell, you've likely been working on that same book for a while. Polishing and polishing and making it prettier and prettier. Then when it sells, you work with an editor, and make it shiny enough to see yourself in. So it's understandable that you've forgotten how very un-pretty a first draft is. It can be a little frustrating. And make you wonder if you've forgotten how to write. It's important to somehow remind yourself that book one came out much the same way. Unpretty and all.
  • Drafting / editing time. With book one, you got a chance to spend exactly how much time you needed on it. Years, even. You didn't have to query until it was all the way ready. If life got crazy and you needed to take a week off writing to keep things sane, that was fine. Book two? Not so fine. You've got a smaller window of time to write and edit it, so you need to make sure that time is well spent.
  • Your editor hasn't seen it. If you sell more than one book, your editor likely has only read the first one, and bought the next + without it being written. Once you do write it, it may or may not be exactly what your editor was hoping for. There may have to be some adjusting to get your visions in line with each other.
  • Giving readers what they want. In a series, it's important to repeat some of the things that worked-- the things that readers are hoping to see again-- without actually repeating any of it. Readers HATE when book one feels like a repeat of book two. And sometimes it's hard to guess what were the really successful parts of the book that you should include. And even when you are continuing the successful elements, it's important (and sometimes very difficult) to keep everything fresh and new. Expect it to need a lot more rounds of revisions (or just more intense rounds of revisions) to get the balance just right.
  • Pressure to live up to book one. I'm not going to pretend this doesn't exist. Because even when you pretend it doesn't, you feel it. Right in the very center of your soul. And really-- it's not just that you have to live up to book one, but you have to exceed it. It's there. It's a thing. Ignoring it won't help-- you DO need to step up.
  • Deadlines. The big D-word. And if you split it up into dead and line, it's two four letter words. It doesn't matter how tired or burnt out you are, or if you just aren't "feeling it." You have to tell yourself that it's time to work, and make yourself do it. I found it really helped to think of what authors I was most hoping to be like, and think how they would handle things. And then just figure if I wanted to be like them, I needed to step up.
  • Most advice out there is for writing the first book. There is significantly less on writing a second book, especially on series arcs. But it is out there if you search for it.

I think the more you know about what to expect on this journey, the better you can prepare yourself for it.

If you haven't written a second book after getting one published yet, were there any things on the list that surprised you?

If you've already been through this, what was the hardest part for you? Do you have any advice you want to share?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Infographic that will help you find your next kids book

Noodle teamed up with the New York Public Library’s Youth Materials Collections Specialist, Betsy Bird, to create this infographic on the best children's books of 2013. Pretty incredible, no?

National Book Month 2013
Brought to you by: