Saturday, December 6, 2014

Liebster Award/Blog Hop fun!

Been stuck here with the flu (I think--but isn't that the purpose of a flu shot?) so sorry for the delay, but here we go . . .

I've been tagged by Wade White to answer the following questions for the Liebster Award/blog hop.

1. Is the book you landed an agent with the first book you ever wrote?

Alas, it is not. It is not even the first completed book I wrote. When I began seriously writing a YA a few years ago, I would read "How I found my agent" posts and see that, most of the time, the successful writer reported the book that landed the agent was not the first book. I'd scoff at those people. Scoff! Because of course MY first book would be different. It'd be awesome, and I'd get an agent once it was done. Uh, not so much. I think it does take one under the belt to understand not only the writing, pacing, etc. process, but also the query process.

2. Favourite type of pie (you must answer this even if you don’t like pie)?

Easy. My sister makes a triple berry pie for my birthday and for Thanksgiving -- raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Yum!

3. Was there any aspect of querying agents that turned out differently than what you anticipated? If so, what is it?

I don't think so, but I joined Query Tracker early on, so I could see what other people were doing, what worked, what to do/not do, etc.

4. Name one book or author that has had a significant impact on your own writing and why.

Stephen King. I loved his books when I was in high school, especially the short story books--Night Shift was a particular favorite. His On Writing is one of the best books on writing there is. I also loved Crichton and the way he brought science into mainstream fiction. His nonfiction book, Travels, is one of my favorites, and I will still go back and read it, along with stories in Night Shift.

5. Where do you do most of your writing?

My basement. And I know that sounds creepy, but I remodeled my basement, and it's comfy without distractions.

6. The genre(s) you tend to read the most versus the genre(s) you tend to read the least.

Hmm. I do read a lot of YA and MG, simply because that is what I write, and it helps with developing voice. Those are more contemporary or fantasy. In the adult realm, I'm all over the map, from King to Patterson to George Martin, Terry Brooks, Terry Goodkind, Crichton, and one of my recently discovered favorites is Chris Kusneski. I've also read Patrick O'Brian, whose more literary. Oh, and John Sandford's Prey books! Really all over the map in adult, except women's fiction.

7. Best piece of general advice you’ve received from a critique partner?

Try and make chapter endings have a hook. I try to do this, but he emphasized it.

8. Do you prefer to read the book first or see the movie first? And with or without popcorn?

Read the book, and then complain the movie didn't hold up! Doesn't everybody? Not a big popcorn eater, so I'll sit and sip my Diet Coke.

9. What is your favourite part of the writing process (first draft, editing, revising, submitting, etc.)?

I LOVE editing. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. To me, the best part is getting a good first draft done, so I can print it on crisp white paper, take it to McDonald's, where I again am sipping a Diet Coke, and read it through with a red pen, making edits, revisions, etc. This obsession spills over into my job as a lawyer too, where I am always volunteering to read other people's motions/briefs, and edit them.

10. The one bit of advice you wished you had discovered before you started querying.

I don't think there's any advice I wished I had discovered. I think I pretty much exhausted the query process before I started. Now, there's parts I should have listened to more, like making sure word count makes sense with genre, etc., but I don't hink anything caught me off guard.

AND, there we go. Now, I hereby tag Samantha Joyce with the following questions:

1.  When did you first decide you wanted to write a book, and how long after that did you start your first real attempt?
2.  Is there a particular book or author that made you want to write a book?
3.  Did you pattern any of your characters after people you know? Use any names of people you know as characters in your book?
4.  Do you watch TV, listen to music, or do anything while you write?
5.  What is your favorite movie from a book and why?
6.  While writing your book, did you think of actors/actresses who would play your characters when they make your book into a moive?
7.  What part of the writing/editing/revising process do you like the most? The least?
8.  Do you outline before you write? How much of the plot/character development do you have mapped out before you begin?
9.  If you had to do it over again, from first writing your book, to the querying process, to the phone call with agents process over, is there anything you would do differently?
10. Now that you have an agent, have you started the next book?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Agent News!

Hi everyone! The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity at my day job and in writing. But now that the craziness has died down (somewhat at least!), I'm happy to report that I am officially agented!


And although I did not get an agent via Query Kombat, it was Query Kombat where I first submitted my query, got great feedback, met my wonderful CP, and well, why I am telling you all this? Check out the story at the blogs of Query Kombat's sponsors:

Michelle's blog

SC's blog

Michael's blog

And while you're at it, check out the blog of my CP, Wade White:

Wade's blog

Monday, August 11, 2014

Pitch Wars is Here!!!!!

Part of the fun of any contest is getting to know the fellow contestants, judges, and contest coordinators. With the submission date for Brenda Drake's Pitch Wars around the corner, it's time for a "Get to know me" post for my fellow participants. And, hopefully it doesn't turn out to be a "Wow, that woman is strange" post -- "I better stay away!"

1) I was born a troublemaker

Like most of our favorite YA and MG protagonists, I've faced conflict since birth. The trouble started with my name. That's right, the obviously-controversial name of Kimberly was not met with "Awww, how cute," or, "great name!" with my relatives. Turns out Kimberly, Wisconsin was a huge rival of my father's hometown.


Apparently, the father's side of my family was very upset when my parents' advised Kimberly would be my name. They seemed, however, to get over it until . . .

2) The doll incident: 

I hate dolls. Always have, always will. They're creepy.

(As an aside, an image search of "creepy doll" produces disturbing results.) ANYWAY, when I was four, and I still remember this, my great aunt (may she rest in peace) on my father's side (of course) gave me a doll for Christmas. I recall opening the box with enthusiasm, seeing it was a doll, and then tossing it aside while saying, "I hate dolls." Yes, that's right. Tons of tact there. But it's really not my fault. I mean, c'mon.

The funny thing is my younger sister feels the exact same way. There was never a doll in our house. Alas, we've come to learn this trait isn't genetic. I have two nieces who, much to my and my sister's chagrin, love dolls and keep asking for dolls for presents no matter how much we try to steer them toward other, better obsessions, like stuffed animals and board games.

3) I was writing fan fiction before I knew what fan fiction was:

And what wonderful mash-ups they were! Laura Ingalls meets the A-Team. CHiPS meets Dukes of Hazzard. Star Trek and anything. My third-grade "essays" were based on any combination of the above. Yep. That's right, peeps. I created fan fiction!

4) I have a favorite game designer

I cannot describe the brilliance of Stefan Feld any better than fellow game nerd Nicholas Shayko. I am a big fan of European board/strategy games, and Feld's are the best. So not only am I a gamer geek, but I am a gamer geek with a favorite designer. Shhh.

Some of Feld's greatest games (not my collection, but awesome!!).

5) I like things with the letter "S"

I have no idea why, but Stephen King, Star Wars, Seinfeld, (Stefan Feld), Springsteen . . . the list goes on, and it's really kind of freaky. Even my MG protag's name (truly coicidentally) is a double S!

6) I love to write

Always have, always will. I lost my way a bit after college. I, like many others, had no idea what I wanted to do and writing for a living didn't seem possible. So I went to law school, and since then I spend my days telling judges and juries my clients' (absolutely true, of course) stories. Fast forward to a couple years ago when I started (again) a novel. But this time it was different. I fell in love with the idea (YA fantasy) and couldn't stop. It was then I made the decision to switch to being a part-time lawyer so I could focus on writing.

After an unsuccessful round of querying that YA fantasy, I shelved it to work on an MG story I simply couldn't get out of my mind. I finished it in a few months, right in time for Query Kombat in May, where I won a few rounds and received great feedback. Now, a few revisions later, it's ready for Pitch Wars as I work on a new manuscript. Switching to part-time and giving myself permission to write was truly one of the best decisions I've ever made. To any other forty-year-olds out there: it's never to late to start doing what you love.

Thanks for stopping by, and best wishes and good luck to all!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

For your consideration: Olympians!

I've never had a problem naming my protagonists or main characters. If a name doesn't come to me, I'll scroll through a baby name website, click on "similars" and eventually find the "ah" moment. But it's harder for those peripheral characters. I want something memorable, but nothing that sounds too close to the main character, and it needs to be authentic.

When I started my work-in-progress, an MG contemporary fantasy with a cast of characters from around the world, I knew I needed help. What are some popular, but not too popular, Norwegian names? Chinese? And not just first names--I need surnames too. The baby name sites can be great in identifying a name's origin, but I need to make sure it's current. It's be great if there was a way to peruse a bunch of names quickly.

Behold the 2014 Olympics! With a click of a button, I can see the Norwegian ski team, Chinese speed skating team, Russian bobsled team, etc. Mixing and matching first names and last names, I assembled my cast, and I know they sound realistic. If you're looking for a resource, give it a shot!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Pitch Slam

Another day, another pitch contest!

April is the month for query/pitch contests. First came #nestpitch, then #LV14, and today #PitchSlam. What's interesting about each of these is that they don't focus on the dreaded query letter, but rather on your novel's pitch--a 35-word hook that summarizes the main plot, gives a peek at your protagonist, AND, most importantly, gives the stakes of the novel.

If you think it would be hard to do all of that in 35 words in a way that entices the reader to want to read more, you would be correct. If you think it's more difficult that writing a query letter, Congrats! You've won the parlay (gambling/betting term for all you innocents out there).

But the fun thing is all of these contests have a theme, and PitchSlam's is music. A battle of the bands, so to speak, where in addition to your entry you have to provide the name of a song that best describes your story.

Mine? Badlands by Bruce Springsteen from Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)

In a battle for the kingdom's throne, how can you not appreciate:

Poor man wanna be rich,
Rich man wanna be king,
And a king ain't satisfied 
Till he rules everything

Trying to realize your dreams? How about:

Talk about a dream
Try to make it real
You wake up in the night
With a fear so real
Spend your life waiting
For a moment that just don't come
Don't waste your time waiting

Right? Judging from the #PitchSlam hashtag, there's been a bunch of great entries and interesting song choices. The contest is running all week, so if you get a chance, check it out!

Friday, April 18, 2014


Hi Everyone! I've been meaning to start a blog for a while now, and since I'm part of the Like a Virgin 2014 contest by the great Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez, let's start!

And without further delay, let's get the answers to those questions!

How do you remember your first kiss?

With satisfaction. I was in kindergarten and chased him between the monkey bars--he had nowhere to run to avoid my determined peck.

What was your first favorite love song?

I was a big country music fan in my pre-teen years. Probably Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle's You and I.

What's the first thing you do when you begin writing for the day?

Turn off the TV and/or radio. Yeah, I know! There was a time I had to have the radio or TV on to study or write, but at some point in my 30s I found I work a hundred times more efficiently in silence. And time flies!

Who’s the first writer who truly inspired you to become a writer?

Stephen King in my youth. Terry Brooks a few years ago.

Did the final revision of your first book have the same first chapter it started with?

Nope! Chapter Two is now Chapter One.

For your first book, which came first: major characters, plot or setting?

Setting, then characters, and then plot, although it all kind of came together pretty quickly. Plot changed as I wrote it, but from the start it was always a sibling-oriented novel.

What’s the first word you want to roll off the tip of someone’s tongue when they think of your writing?

A smile, a nod, along with a Yes.

End of my first post! Please make sure to check out the contest on Twitter via #LV14 and visit Rhiann and Kristina's blog.