Monday, October 31, 2011

If I had all the magic in the world, I'd . . .

. . . create a time pocket where time doesn't exist.

That way I could get all those tasks on my to-do list knocked off and still have plenty of time to smell the roses. *Dreamy sigh as I imagine the possibilities*

So today I joined in to help Elizabeth Mueller launch her YA romance, Darkspell. What a perfect day to launch a novel with such a title!
Winter Sky believes she is everything ordinary . . .until she is kissed by Alex Stormhold.

As seer of Stormhold Coven, Alex is sworn to be Winter’s protector against the darkness that hunts her. Violently thrust into a magical realm she always thought impossible, she stumbles upon a disturbing secret of her own.

Will love prove thicker than magic?

You can purchase a kindle/ebook copy at Amazon >>here<<, but to learn more about Elizabeth, or to purchase your own signed copy, you can visit her blog or website.

Happy launch day, Elizabeth!

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Today I am NOT going to conclude the chocolate chip vs. sugar cookies debate, so you can still go vote. But when I had this lightbulb moment, I couldn't resist. So today's debate?

(Yes, the cowgirl is me)




Monday, October 24, 2011

Conference Advice

This past weekend, I went to my local SCBWI region's annual conference. I had a great time, and my head is swimming with all the great advice and inspiration shared by the speakers.

I was reminded that agents and editors are nice, normal people, too. When you find yourself in the query trenches, it's easy to forget that. And same goes for award-winning authors.

Also, I got to meet Caroline Tung Richmond who blogs at Adventures in Space. This is the first time I've met a fellow blogger in person (and of course, I didn't have a camera), but we had a great time visiting!

Anyway, over the years, I have attended several conferences, and I wanted to impart a bit of advice to anyone considering going to one.
  1. GO. Find a nearby conference, bite the bullet, and pay the enterance fee.
  2. Sign up for a critique. This means you need to sign up early. And it costs extra. Plus it may break your heart. But trust me when I tell you it's worth it. These are the people who know the business. They know what they're talking about. Even the stuff that hurts to hear puts you that much further ahead.
  3. Volunteer. Okay, I can hear the groan. You don't have enough time. Or you doubt you have anything to offer. Or you're nervous because you don't know anyone. . . . I'm telling you to push past that. I have done it both ways. My first few conferences, I didn't dare volunteer. But when I finally got up the courage to do it, I enjoyed the conferences so much more. Not only did I meet a lot more people, I got a special name tag. *pauses while you all turn green with envy*
  4. Take notes. Because that stuff you think you will remember? You won't.
In short, my advice is to participate as fully as possible. There's nothing like a conference to boost your writers morale and get you inspired to finish your WIP. The more you put in, the more you get out. (cliché, I know, but still true).

Have you ever been to a conference? What was your experience?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Follow Your Heart

I know I'm a bit late to the party, but I ran across this Steve Jobs quote while waiting in a doctor's office. This was from a commencement speech he gave. Anyway, I had to share:
"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.

"Almost everything---the external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure---these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important . . . There is no reason not to follow your heart."
Definitely puts it in perspective. There is no reason not to follow your heart, people. Let's do this thing!

P.S. If you haven't heard Shannon Whitney Messenger's amazing news, she had a book deal! A mega, super, awesome book deal. And she's celebrating with a crazy fun contest that you need to check out by Oct. 22nd. Seriously, you don't want to miss >>this.<<

Monday, October 17, 2011

Winner and License Plate Interpretation

First, a random picture just because.

Second, the winner of The Liar Society is Dawn Simon. Congratulations! If you haven't yet, please email me your address (rjljohnson.janetATgmailDOTcom), and I'll send it post haste. :)

Third, you may have noticed I took my Blog Roll down. Something to do with a virus on one of the referenced blogs. Easiest thing was to chop the whole kit and kaboodle. I'll start rebuilding soon. Just wanted to let you know.

Finally, I know I've kept you all in suspense for a horrible amount of time, so here are the license plate interpretations from >>this<< post (for the "hard" ones):
  1. CRPE DM = Carpe Diem
  2. TRNTLA  = Tarantula (Pontiac G5 Spyder)
  3. HAF PINT = Half Pint (Cream-colored convertible Mini Cooper)
  4. YES OCFR = Yes Ociffer (What a drunk person would say to the cop who pulled him over. Odacious, no?)
  5. APRESVU = After you. (How polite!)
P.S. Here is another interesting one: NOT ED'S. It was on a convertible BMW. What's the story this time?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pay It Forward Blogfest

I know I don't usually post on Fridays, nor do I often join in the blogfests, but I like the spirit of this one, so I decided to jump in with two feet. Matthew MacNish and Alex J. Cavenaugh are hosting the Pay It Forward Blogfest today. You can click on their names to find the LONG list of blogs participating.

The idea is to share three under-the-radar blogs that I love and then visit all the blogs everyone else mentions. Okay, ALL might be impossible, but there we are.

And before I mention my three, just a quick note to say I would choose you all if I could! *waves and smiles to everyone reading this*

First is my long-time crit partner Victoria Dixon at The Ron Empire Wants You! She focuses on writing with Asian settings, which (even though I don't use them) I think is very interesting. Plus, she's a writer of gorgeous prose. Her work always makes me jealous. ;)

Second is Saumya at Left and Write Brained. She is fun and bubbly and I always leave her blog smiling. You should visit her.

And finally, Abby at Something to Write About. I found her through the Platform-building Campaign and just adore her posts. Personality exudes from her writing, plus I learn stuff. Like how to put polls directly in your post. (Yeah, okay, I'm slow.) Point is, she has a great blog!

So who would you recommend?

P.S. Click >>here<< to enter for a chance to win The Liar Society. You have through 16 September!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

10 Random Facts

Lindsay, over at Adventures in Writing, tagged me last week with a Random Fact post. So it is my privilege to share 10 random things about myself (the trick is to keep you from getting bored).
  1. I bite my lip when I'm thinking. (My bottom lip really takes a beating when I'm writing.)
  2. I have amazingly high arches. Shoe shopping is very difficult.
  3. When I was age 6 or so, I randomly decided I was going to go to Harvard. That lasted until I looked at tuition prices in high school.
  4. I learned to play the guitar because my college roommate took a class and I thought it looked fun. I have a reperatoire of about 10 songs I can play (including "My Grandfather's Clock"). ;)
  5. I once slipped a piece of broccoli down my shirt to avoid eating it. I totally got caught because it fell onto the kitchen floor before I could dispose of it.
  6. My sister named the car I drove in high school "Calico." (Bet you can guess why.)
  7. The horn on Calico didn't work. Except when it did. And then it tried to make up for lost time.
  8. The passenger door on Calico wouldn't stay shut in freezing weather. We had a lot of freezing weather my senior year.
  9. When I was 15, I travelled to Mexico with my family to witness a total solar eclipse. It turned out to be cloudy.
  10. I like coloring in coloring books.
 I am tagging:

Kamille Elahi
Bethany Elizabeth
Maeve Frazier

P.S. This is a low-stress tag. Do with it what you will. :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rockin' 2011 Debut Author Spotlight: Lisa and Laura Roecker

When Christina Lee suggested we band together to spotlight some of our favorite 2011 debut authors, I knew right away I wanted to spotlight Lisa and Laura Roecker who debuted in March with The Liar Society.

Fabulous book!

Here's the blurb from their blog:
 Best friends don't send emails once they're dead. With her dead best friend's pearls and skirts tiny enough to make Nancy Drew blush, Kate's on the trail to prove once and for all that Grace’s death was more than just a tragic accident. But secrets haunt the halls of her elite private school. Secrets people will do anything to protect. Even if it means getting rid of the girl trying to solve a murder...

I revel in brevity, so I give you Three Things I Loved about The Liar Soceity:
  1. The pink hair. This is not just an outward description of Kate (the MC). It's all part of the mystery of what happened and how it affected her. (I believe this is called Depth.)
  2. The mystery. It starts on page 1 and doesn't let up. I wanted to solve the mystery as much as Kate! And the clues? How cool that they show up in her email.
  3. The tension. It is no easy feat to fill every page of a book with just the right balance of tension and believability. Let's just say that I stayed up late to make sure Kate was okay. Laura and Lisa (just wanted to change things up there) rock at writing page turners.
In short, I can hardly wait for book 2!

To share the love, I'll be giving a copy away to one lucky commenter. You have until Sunday, 16 October 2011 EST to enter. So comment away (and please make sure I have a way to contact you in case you win)!

P.S. Feel free to stop by Christina's blog for the list of everyone who's spotlighting an author today.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Story of a Story

Today I want to tell you a story:

Once upon a time I wrote a book. It was not my first book, but I loved it like it was. People critiqued it, and I made changes. More people critiqued it, and I made more changes. People started telling my good things about my book. This made me happy.

So I worked on my query letter. People critiqued it, and I made changes. More people critiqued it, and I made more changes. And people told me happy things about my query letter. This made me happy, too.

And I wanted to query.

But one thing bothered me. . . .

. . . the page count.

My book was long. This did not make me happy.

So I started cutting. Little things at first:
  • "he said." 
  • "she said." 
  • "he turned and walked." 
  • "lightly" 
  • "stupidly" 
  • "blindly" 
  • "quickly" 
  • . . . blah, blah, blah . . . you get the idea. 
But it wasn't enough.
So I cut more. Bigger things this time:
  • "this passage is so funny! but it doesn't move the plot forward." 
  • "this passage tells us so much about this character! but it's already shown in other ways." 
  • "this information is so interesting! but it's all backstory in one big chunk."
  • . . . blah, blah, blah . . . you get the idea. 
But it still wasn't enough. (Yeah, it was LONG.)
So I cut more. Even bigger things this time:
  • "I really like how this plot line twists right there! but it's a bit long winded, and what if someone asks this question . . . you know, the one that makes all the logic of getting there crumble?"
  • "what I said before but for a different part of the story."
  • "I really like what happens here! but a similar thing happens in this other part."
  • . . . blah, blah, blah . . . you get the idea. 
And while this story isn't finished yet, I will tell you this: My beta re-readers between each cut session couldn't tell what I'd cut. None of it was missed. None. And while they did notice the plot changes I'd made . . . they thought it was better.

So if you, too, are struggling with the the dreaded thing called word count, are you sure you've cut all you can?

Monday, October 3, 2011

This vs. That: Pooh vs. Tigger

I know you've all been dying of anticipation on this one, so without adieu, on to the results:

Total votes: 20

Pooh: 12 votes; 60%
Tigger: 7 votes; 35%
Impossible to choose: 1 vote; 5%

That said, 4 of you who voted would rather have voted for Eeyore (20%); 2 of you mentioned Piglet (10%), and 1 person mentioned Owl (5%). Poor Rabbit didn't even get a pity mention. (Kanga and Roo have each other, so I don't worry as much about them.)

This round, I gave my vote to Pooh. Perhaps like Amy, I'm surrounded by so much Tigger, that the calm of Pooh sounded VERY attractive. Tiddely pom indeed!

On a side-note, I find it fascinating to learn everyone's favorite character. It's so telling! If you care to indulge us, I'd love to hear which one is your favorite and why.

My favorite has always been Roo. He's the combination of the sense of adventure of Tigger, the wonder of Winnie the Pooh, and the common sense of Christopher Robin. (In my humble opinion, of course. And wow, I wasn't even trying for the alliteration!)

Anyhoo, on to the next debate:

Chocolate Chip Cookies


Sugar Cookies
(Ahem. You may have recently read about my Kryptonite)

(Photo Credit: