Friday, January 28, 2011

FF - HEAD GAMES by Keri Mikulski

The Author:

Keri Mikulski writes about female athletes from an insider's perspective. She was a three-sport athlete in high school and two-sport athlete in college. Her experience brings authenticity to her YA novels, including her latest release, HEAD GAMES, a PRETTY TOUGH novel. Besides writing books, Keri teaches middle school, high school, and college level creative writing courses and workshops. She lives at the Jersey Shore with her family.
You can find Keri online at her website, on facebook, or by following her on twitter.

The Book:

Taylor Thomas is a total all-star on the court. Off-court, not so much. She may be model-tall, gorgeous and quite a catch, but try telling her that. With a showcase game and playoffs fast approaching, Taylor’s basketball career is totally on the line. She doesn’t know which way to turn first when her BFF ropes her into a fashion show and she finds herself torn between Zach, the super-tall, super-off limits basketball star and Matt, the super-sweet guy from her English class. Can Taylor stop her head from spinning long enough to strike a pose, land the boy of her dreams, and win the game?

Check out the book trailer here.

The Interview:

What inspired you to write HEAD GAMES?

About three years ago, a local high school basketball player was tearing up the courts and receiving a ton of praise with regards to both her attitude and athletic ability. She was the inspiration to create the main character, Taylor Thomas.

How is Taylor's character like you? How is she not like you?

I’m definitely somewhat of a people pleaser like Taylor. But, Taylor takes it to the extreme. Also, I played basketball in high school, but Taylor is way better than I ever was.

Have you ever had a premonition? What happened?

Actually, I’ve had a ton of premonitions over the years. One that sticks out in my mind is one that I had when I was pregnant with my daughter. Exactly a week before she was born, I was hit with this overwhelming feeling while scraping my plate after dinner that she would be in my arms in exactly one week. I was right. Weird.

If you could hang out with any literary character, who would you choose and why?

Hmm… Tough question. Probably Jessica Darling from Megan McCafferty’s series. She’s hilarious, fun, and unpredictable. Plus, she lives in New Jersey. I wouldn’t have to travel far.

What's your favorite sport to play? Watch? Read about? Write about?

Favorite Sport to Play – soccer
Favorite Sport to Watch – baseball and softball
Favorite Sport to Read About – wrestling

Favorite Sport to Write About - softball

Are you superstitious in any way?

I’m extremely superstitious. At one point during my athletic career, I used the same softball glove for twelve years because I believed it was lucky.

Do you have any special writing rituals or totems to connect with your muse?

Nope. My brain is always swirling.

What songs would make the playlist for HEAD GAMES?

1. Taylor Swift’s You Belong With Me

2. LMAFO’s Shot

3. Katy Perry’s Hot and Cold

4. Taylor Swift’s Fifteen

5. Queen’s We Are the Champions

What's one thing most people don't know about you?

I’ve always been weirdly attracted to wrestlers and MMA fighters. In fact, I’ve only dated wrestlers and I married an ex-wrestler, who is now a wrestling coach.

What's your favorite quote?

Just Do it – Nike

What are you working on now?

I’m reading and researching to prepare for the next book in the series.

What is an interesting writing quirk of yours?

Before I sit down to write, I have to eat a piece of dark chocolate.

If HEAD GAMES were made into a movie, who would you like to see in the role of Taylor? Hannah? How about Zach? Matt?

Taylor – Miranda Cosgrove or Taylor Swift (with brown hair)

Hannah – Aly Michalka

Zach – Chase Crawford

Matt – Taylor Lautner

What kind of chocolate best describes you?

Hmm… I guess a hug.. I like hugs.

The Freebie:

To be entered to win a signed copy of HEAD GAMES, leave a comment telling us about your favorite sport. This drawing will be open until Wednesday, February 2.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Winner and What's Up This Week

The winner of JIMMY STONE'S GHOST TOWN are:



Congratulations! The e-book link will be emailed to you directly.

Everyone, be sure to check back on Friday for another Freebie Friday giveaway, featuring HEAD GAMES: A PRETTY TOUGH NOVEL by Keri Mikulski.

What's up this week?

In honor of the Digital Book World 2011 conference, a continuing discussion about e-books and e-readers...

"What e-reader should I buy?" (PC World) compares the specs for the Amazon Kindle and NookColor

Or no e-reader at all? (Time) How about using your iPhone or Blackberry? (Too small screens for my taste, but what do you think?)

What's next for Small Booksellers? (NY Times) How will technology affect them?

Beginning of the End (Future Book) Another guess on how publishing will evolve.

Children's Books in the Digital Age
(PW) 80% of teens prefer print books.


What's Up With Borders? (Jacket Copy)

Top Ten Historically Misleading Films (Time) What do you think about books and films that take "artistic license" with history? How about other facts?

Academy Award Nominees Announced ( I have seen exactly two of the best picture nominees. Wow. I need to get out more.

The Secret to Success (Globe&Mail) Self control is a secret?

Still time to enter (The Book Aunt) I love Kate Coombs and her writing!

Happy release week to: Gwen Roman (TRAIL OF THE TUDOR BLUE), Ellen Booraem (SMALL PERSONS WITH WINGS), James A. Moore (SUBJECT SEVEN), Steven L. Layne (PARADISE LOST), Cynthia Leitich Smith (BLESSED), Frewin Jones (THE CHARMED RETURN: THE FAERIE PATH), Sarwat Chadda (DARK GODDESS: DEVIL'S KISS), Pam Bachorz (DROUGHT), Eilis O'Neal (THE FALSE PRINCESS), Todd Strasser (FAMOUS), Tomas Mournian (HIDDEN), Julie Kagawa (THE IRON QUEEN: THE IRON FEY), L. Divine (THE MELTDOWN), Dan Gutman (MISSION UNSTOPPABLE), Joel Naftali (THE RENDERING), R.A. Nelson (THROAT), and Jeff Sampson (VESPER).

This week's video link is a cool art project in NY. You can read about it and see some of the stills here, and check out the gallery here. (Thanks, Kate!)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

For Writers - Ruthless Revising with Gwen Roman

Our tip this week comes from Gwen Roman, the super hero identity of mild-mannered New Yorker Jen McAndrews. Jen has been one of my critique partners for ten years and is one of the writers whose work I admire most. Though currently working hard on her next full-length romance, she also writes mystery and young adult fiction, works full time, is obsessed with hockey, and wishes she had more time to read... or sleep.

Gwen's first book, TRAIL OF THE TUDOR BLUE, makes its debut tomorrow. Woot! (You can read an excerpt on Gwen's website or follow her group blog, Pirate Writers of the Universe.)

Gwen says:

A couple facts about me: I hate doing detailed plotting, and I love a writing challenge. Pretty sure I can’t be alone in this. I bet there are several thousand NaNoWriMo participants who feel the same, who sailed off into the creative mist and wrote and wrote and wrote. And of those several thousand, a large number face revisions that are both frustrating and disheartening, filled with repetitions, dead ends, and fluff scenes.

With this in mind, I thought I’d share the method I first tried while revising TRAIL OF THE TUDOR BLUE and have used ever since.

Open a blank spreadsheet, or create a three-column table in a word processing document, or draw one in your notebook. Label the first column “scene# and location”, the second column “characters” and the third column “purpose.” With the table ready, crack open a copy of your manuscript and begin filling in the blanks, keeping information as simple and straightforward as possible. Use the manuscript only as a reference, not as reading material, nor as something in need of editing. It’s only a guide for you to fill in the table. Here’s an example:

#4- nightclub / Ardis, Ahnshen/ Ardis must get info from Ahnshen about Marco

Why list it like this? It’s easier to be objective about a scene if you’re not reading and thus caught up in the momentum of the story and if you’re not lost – in a good way – in your own writing.

Once you have the whole manuscript set out this way, in its simplest form, take a good long look at the result. You’re checking for: scenes with no clear purpose; scenes that accomplish only one thing/arent’ working hard enough and should be combined; multiple scenes serving the same purpose.
Make all the keep/cut/combine decisions by looking at – and marking up – the table only. Then execute those changes on the manuscript page – ruthlessly! The result is a lean manuscript with stronger scenes…and a lot less time agonizing over revisions.

More links for your writing week:


Filter Senses Through Mood
(Paranormal POV)
Show Emotions Through Actions
Seven Keys to Good Dialog (Nathan Bransford) Not new, but worth another look.
Orchestrating Characters (Blood-Red Pencil)
Villains Galore (Gail Carson Levine)
Character Building (The Siren's Song)
Make Your Characters Extraordinary (Carolina Valdez Miller)
Raising the Stakes (Julie Musil)
Pretty Good vs Great - And Sellable (Genreality)
Avoiding Filter Words (Write it Sideways)
Pesky Pleonasms (BloodRedPencil)
Cool Research Tool: (Google Timeline)
Many Drafts
(Plot Whisperer)

Writers Writing:

Find Time to Write or Don't (Whatever)
Handling Criticism Effectively (Query Tracker)
Self Confidence Crisis? (
Commitment, Control, & Challenge (Writers' First Aid)
Common Traits of Successful Writers (Write It Forward)
Common Traits of Successful Writers, part deux
(Write it Forward)
Why Writers Should be Readers (Writer-In-Progress)
Happy Jealousy
(The Happy Writer)
Writing and Kung Fu (MeganCrewe)
Continuing Education (Genreality)


When to Keep Your Trap Shut (literaticat)
When to Mention Your Blog (querytracker)
Start Small (Writer Unboxed)

Now go! Write!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


The Author:

Debut MG author Scott Neumyer lives in New Jersey with his wife and daughter. He's not only a writer, but also a publicist and a photographer. He also worked as a Media Buyer for a major national film distributor. Scott has appeared in Wanted Undead or Alive: Vampire Hunters and Other Kick-Ass Enemies of Evil (Citadel Press August 2010), and has been published online and in print in such magazines such as McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Pindeldyboz, and Hobart Pulp.
You can read more about Scott on his website, on the Jimmy Stone website, on twitter, and on facebook.

The Book:

For Jimmy Stone, life in "Boredsylvania" has been pretty tough. His mom's died, his dad's completely checked out, and he spends his days running from the Coogan Boys, the local bullies. It isn't long, however, before "Boredsylvania" gets a lot more exciting. With his new friend, David and his dog, Trex, by his side, Jimmy discovers that the woods beyond his backyard hold the key to a world he could never even imagine. Soon, he ends up in Ghost Town, where he’s greeted by his ghost guide, Gasp, and receives an ominous prophecy.
“Seven things you must find.
One thing for each day.
Seven things you must find.
Or else they all will pay!"
Suddenly Ghost Town becomes as scary as it sounds, and Jimmy Stone realizes that he's in way over his head.

“Ghost towns are fraught with danger, but Neumyer makes them irresistibly appealing."—Lara Zielin, author of DONUT DAYS and THE IMPLOSION OF AGGIE WINCHESTER

The Interview:

What inspired you to write Jimmy Stone's Ghost Town?

I've told this story before, but I think it's a really good so I'll tell it again. Jimmy Stone’s Ghost Town really grew out of my desire to write something that I would have wanted to read as a young boy in 5th or 6th grade. I wanted to write a story that Jimmy himself would dig. I was inspired by so many of the books that I read and loved at that age. Things like Hatchet, My Side of the Mountain, The Never Ending Story, and How To Eat Fried Worms. I haven’t found a lot of stories like that for young boys and girls in the past few years, so I set out to maybe write something that could appeal to that group. When it really comes down to it, I wanted the book to be a fun, quick adventure with some actual emotion. I hope that’s what I’ve created anyway.

Have you ever been targeted by bullies?

I think we all have at some point, right? Maybe not by a group of bullies like The Coogan Boys (in the book), but at least by one or two individuals at various times in your youth. I was lucky, though. I had a great experience in school and I really enjoyed it. Sure, there were a few times where I was bullied and I got in a few fights but it was all your typical grade-school stuff. I was pretty popular and well-liked so it wasn't too bad. I think we can all agree, however, that bullies suck. Do you hear me bullies? Cut it out! Grow up! :)

Are you superstitious in any way?

Oh, definitely! I'm not sure if it's more superstition or OCD though. I am about as OCD as they come. I have to put on my shoes in a certain order. I have to put on my coat over a specific arm first. In college, I actually remember drawing lines on my desk around my keyboard so I would know exactly where it goes if it got moved. In high school, playing sports, I had all kinds of superstitions that involved haircuts and hats and all different weird things. Thankfully, my wife has done a pretty good job of breaking me of my major OCD habits, but I'm still hanging onto a few.

Do you have any special writing rituals or totems to connect with your muse?

I think it changes for just about every writing project, but for Jimmy Stone's Ghost Town it was very specific. When I wasn't sneaking in some moments writing in my notebook with a pen, it was always writing at night with a hot mug of Organic Rooibos Tea. I know there were plenty of times I literally fell asleep with the laptop on my lap. That's why we must all revise. Ha!

What's one thing most people don't know about you?

Most people might know that not only am I a writer, but I'm also a photographer and publicist! I've been doing photography forever (I have the first camera my father ever gave me tattooed on my right wrist), and my day job is in online publicity. I'm a Publicist at Click Communications and it's just about the best job you could ever ask for. People always ask me "if you make it big will you quit your day job?" And I always say "Nooooo! I love my day job!"

What are you working on now?

The first question I usually get when people get the end of Jimmy Stone's Ghost Town is "when do I get to read the next one?" so, of course, I'm hard at work on the next Jimmy Stone book. I'm also working on a YA that I've had percolating for ages. Oh, and chasing my two-year-old around everywhere is pretty much another full time job.

If Jimmy Stone's Ghost Town were made into a movie, who would you like to see in the role of Jimmy? David? How about Gasp?

Great question! I think, for Jimmy, I'd love to see Zachary Gordon from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie play the part. I assume you mean current actors. In my head though, I really see Jimmy as a young Wil Wheaton. Think Stand By Me. David would be played by Freddie Highmore. Mostly because I love his work in The Spiderwick Chronicles adaptation and he could play slightly older and more confident than Jimmy. Gasp is a tough one, but I think it would be cool to see a motion-capture version of the character (think Zemeckis style animation like in The Polar Express and A Christmas Carol) with the voice acted by Peter Coyote (only with a little more youth in it). Haha!

What kind of chocolate best describes you?

Well, I'd say White Chocolate because I love it, but apparently that's not even real chocolate. So I'm going to say good old Milk Chocolate. I mean, who doesn't love milk chocolate?

The Freebie:

To be entered to win an e-copy of JIMMY STONE'S GHOST TOWN, leave a message below, telling us... do you believe in ghosts? Why or why not? This drawing will remain open until Wednesday, January 26th.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Winner and What's Up This Week

And the winner of Laurie Stolarz's DEADLY LITTLE LIES is:


Congratulations! Please send your mailing instructions to gerb (@) lindagerber (.) com and we'll get that out to you. Everyone else, please check in on Friday, when we welcome debut author Scott Neumyer to the blog, with his new MG book JIMMY STONE'S GHOST TOWN.

What's up this week?

Happy Birthday, Edgar Allen Poe! (Anyone notice how much he looks like Bill Murray?)

Edgar Nominees Announced (The Edgars)

SCBWI NY Conference coming! (NY11SCBWI) <<< style="font-weight: bold;">

Don't miss the pre-conference info (Alice Pope) <<<< style="font-weight: bold;">Poor Borders (PW) Diamond won't play with them anymore, either.

Really? Snookie instead of Vanderpool? (PW) The Today Show has lost it.

This might help (FB) Join the FB Campaign to bring Newbery and Caldecott winners to the Today Show.

More E-book Challenges (Nathan Bransford) Charting new territory.

Whoa. I'm now a Gemini? (Gawker) Er... are my husband and I still compatible? : )

Just kidding (CNN) Whew. Because, you know, I was really worried. #thiswasreallynews?

No Name Calling Week next week (B&N) Check out the author message videos. Friends Lisa and Margaret join in the message. Love how Margaret kind of eases out of the frame at the end of hers. : )

Upcoming YA book to film adaptations (The Hub) Especially looking forward to WATER FOR ELEPHANTS.

More Animal die-offs! Panic! (Hispanically Speaking) I'm telling you, read THE THINGS THAT KEEP US HERE by Carla Buckley. Such a good book. And so much more satisfying that conspiracy theories...

The Benefits of Hideous Fonts ( Huh. Who'da thunk?

Australian Flood Relief (Authors for Queensland)

Quora Questions and Answers (All Things Digital)

Kodak Panel on the Future of the Industry (PW)

Happy Release Week to: Paige Harbison (HERE LIES BRIDGET) , and Julie DeVillers & Jennifer Roy ( TIMES SQUARED)!

This Week's Video Link: (Thanks, Kate!)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

For Writers - Emotional Thesaurus with Melissa Walker

This week's tip comes from Melissa Walker, author of the YA VIOLET series, and teen romance LOVESTRUCK SUMMER. She's also co-founder of the I Heart Daily newsletter, and co-creator of the website, Before You Were Hot. You won't want to miss her next book, SMALL TOWN SINNERS, the story of an evangelical girl who wonders whether falling in love means falling out of faith. It hits the shelves July 19th.
You can find Melissa on her website, on facebook, and by following her on twitter.

Melissa says:

I have a confession to make: When I write a book and want to “show” rather than “tell,” I turn to a lot of old standbys. (“She rolled her eyes.” “He bit his lip.” “She raised an eyebrow.”) Boring! The thing is, I want my emotional gestures to be varied and fresh… and I have an Ace up my sleeve.

The Bookshelf Muse ( is where I found the Emotional Thesaurus, my guide to new and exciting ways to express what my characters are feeling! Just look at all of these ideas for “amusement” (, “guilt” ( and “relief” ( It’s a goldmine!

Here’s my public thank you to Bookshelf Muses Angela and Becca. You’ve helped me through many a character gesture.

(Note from Linda... while you're checking out Bookshelf Muse, don't miss their excellent posts about settings here, here, here, and here.)

More links to keep you busy this week:

Authors Share Their Best Writing Advice (Wastepaper Prose)

10 Ways to Stay in and Write (Publishing Talk)

Creating Strong Characters (Fiction Notes)

Deepening Your Characters' Needs (Query Tracker)

Creating Fantasy Characters (Cynsations)

Ist or 3rd POV? (The Other Side of the Story) (part II)

Developing a Unique Voice (Adventures in Children's Publishing) (There are links within this link, all worth reading...)

On Writing Misery (Gail Carson Levine) (Love, love, love her.)

Getting the Most Out of Your Rewrite (Alan Rinzler)

Considering a Writers' Retreat? (YA Outside the Lines)

How about a Writers' Conference? (Genreality)

Mystery Writers Take Note (Shelf Awareness)

Why Agents Like Published Authors (Treated and Released)

The Value of the Rejection Process (Janet Reid)

Now go! Write!

Friday, January 14, 2011

FF - DEADLY LITTLE GAMES by Laurie Stolarz

The Author:

Laurie Faria Stolarz is the author of DEADLY LITTLE SECRET, DEADLY LITTLE LIES, DEADLY LITTLE GAMES, and the upcoming DEADLY LITTLE VOICES, as well as PROJECT 17, BLEED, and the bestselling BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES series. Laurie was born and raised in Salem, Massachusetts, attended Merrimack College, and received an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College in Boston. She loves Indian food, vegetarian cooking, aromatherapy, and The Black Eyed Peas.
You can read more about Laurie on her website, on her blog, or by following her on facebook and twitter.

The Book:

High school juniors Camelia and Ben have discovered a powerful bond: they both possess the power of psychometry, the ability to see the future through touch. For Ben, the gift is a frightening liability. When he senses a strong threat or betrayal, he risks losing control. Camelia’s gift is more mysterious. When she works with clay, her hands sculpt messages her mind doesn’t yet comprehend. Before either one has a chance to fully grasp their abilities, a new danger surfaces, but this time, Camelia is not the target. Adam, a familiar face from Ben’s past, is drawn into a puzzle he can’t solve. . . and his life is on the line. As the clues pile up, Camelia must decide whether to help him and risk losing Ben or do nothing and suffer the consequences. But in these games, who can be trusted?

TeenReads calls Laurie "a master creator of suspense and romance." TeenReadsToo agrees, and says the books are a "must-read for fans of romance, suspense, and mystery." Kirkus Reviews called DEADLY LITTLE LIES's romance and suspense "a winning combination." The books have been honored with several awards and selections such as the ALA 2010 and 2011 Reluctant Reader Quick Pick nominee, CBC 2010 Teen Choice Book of the Year nominee, and Teen Reads Too Gold Star Award winner.

The Interview:

Have you ever had your numbers done? Did they reveal anything about you?

Yes, they were done by the fabulous and talented Linda Gerber and it was fascinating and eerily accurate.

Are you superstitious in any way?

Yes, people have to leave my house the same way they came in, i.e. through the same doorway or entryway. If not, it takes the luck out of the house. I grew up with this superstition. I was also taught that birds in the house – either real or fake (including pictures of them) – is considered bad luck.

What inspired you to write THE TOUCH SERIES?

I wanted to write a story where the main character has to struggle with the idea of falling in love with someone who could potentially be dangerous. I tinkered with this concept in the first three books of my Blue is for Nightmares Series [(Blue is for Nightmares (Llewellyn 2003), White is for Magic (Llewellyn 2004), and Silver is for Secrets (Llewellyn 2005), as well as in Bleed (Hyperion 2006)]. In Bleed, in particular, there’s a young male character who was convicted for the murder of his girlfriend. His next relationship consists of pen pal letters he exchanges with a young girl while he’s in prison. Without giving too much away, the relationship is briefly pursued once he is released, but I wanted to bring this concept to another level.

Additionally, I wanted to continue experimenting with the supernatural (which I also use in my Blue is for Nightmares Series as well as in Project 17), showing how we all have our own inner senses and intuition, and how with work we can tap into those senses and make them stronger.

I started researching different types of supernatural powers and discovered the power of psychometry (the ability to sense things through touch). The concept fascinated me, and so I wanted to bring it out in a character, showing how sometimes even the most extraordinary powers can also be a curse.

Lastly, I wanted to apply these concepts to be part of a series. I love the idea of growing a main character over the course of several books.

Are any of your characters based on real people that you know?

No, though sometimes I’ll steal a character quirk from people I’ve known. For example, in the Blue is for Nightmares series, Amber carries around a pair of chopsticks for whenever she’s eating out. I once knew someone who did that.

What excites you?

Feeling like I’ve made a difference. Seeing people happy. Hearing success stories and stories of triumph.

What turns you off?

Narrow-mindedness, intolerance, ignorance, cruelty.

If you could invite anyone you wanted - living or dead - to hang out with you at a weekend retreat, who would you invite and why?

Gary Zukav. I find his insights and perspective on life fascinating.

What's your favorite quote?

Perseverance is key.

The Freebie:

To be entered to win a copy of DEADLY LITTLE LIES, leave a comment below, telling us - if you could have one supernatural power, what would you want it to be? This drawing will remain open until Wednesday, January 19.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

WINNERS! and Lots More




Miss Kallie

Congratulations! Please send your mailing instructions to gerb (@) lindagerber (.) com and we'll get those sent out to you.

Everyone, please join us again this Friday for another GCC interview and freebie with Laurie Stolarz!

Meanwhile, lots to tell you about this week:

DEAR BULLY is in this month's Glamour!

<Megan Kelly Hall and Carrie Jones, who made it all happen.

I'm honored to be included in this anthology. Proceeds from the sale of this book will go directly to an anti-bullying organization. Meanwhile, you can join the campaign to stop bullying. If you haven't already, please join the Young Adult Authors Against Bullying page on Facebook for book updates, stories, strategies for dealing with bullies and strength in numbers.

When Friends Aren't (TFC) (Somewhat related.) How do you know if your
friends aren't really your friends?

Life Imitates Art? ( If you were intrigued by the mysterious bird and fish mass deaths recently, you really should check out Carla Buckley's THE THINGS THAT KEEP US HERE. You can't get any more current and ripped-from-the-headlines than this story of a family trying to stick together in the midst of an avian flu pandemic. I read it last summer and it still haunts me (especially after seeing the pictures of all those dead birds in Arkansas.)

ALA Report by Mary Kole ( Scroll about halfway down for a peek at Holly Thompson's upcoming book, ORCHARDS! Woo! (Holly was in SCBWI with me in Tokyo, author of ASH and WAKAME GATHERERS, and is simply brilliant.)

ALA Winners (SCBWI Blog) (Yay for Printz Honor winner AS King! If you haven't read PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ yet, what are you waiting for?)

ALA 2011 Best Books (ALA) PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ also made this list, along with a whole stack of my TBR pile!

Edited to add: ALA 2011 Popular Paperbacks (ALA) Woot! I just realized that DEATH BY BIKINI was named a 2011 Popular Paperback! Yay!!!

RIP Borders? (DetNews) All signs point to the end for Borders - including Simon and Schuster canceling their author events at all Borders stores...

Digital sales have reached a 'tipping point" ( Is this the kiss of death for bookstores? (PBP) And what about e-book lending? (PublishingPerspectives)

Other publishing trends for 2011? (TrendSpotting) What would you like to see?

Happy release week to:
Danette Vigilante, THE TROUBLE WITH HALF A MOON, Julia Karr
XVI, Keri Mikulski HEAD GAMES, Cate Tiernan BALEFIRE bindup, Me (rah, rah) THE DEATH BY BIKINI MYSTERIES bindup, Cat Clarke ENTANGLED, Beth Revis ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
ALL JUST GLASS, Tim Tharp BADD, Dori Jones Yang DAUGHTER OF XANADU, Lorraine Zago Rosenthal OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE, Kristen Tracy THE REINVENTION OF BESSICA LEFTER, Wendelin Van Draanen
THE RUNNING DREAM, Alexandra Monir TIMELESS, and Maurissa Guibord WARPED.

And finally, for this week's video link - Daniel Radcliff lightens things up:

Friday, January 07, 2011

For Writers - Set SMARTER Goals

For most of us, a new year represents a fresh start - a chance to let go of not-great writing habits and set about creating new ones. As I've already mentioned, I wrote down exactly one resolution this year. But that doesn't mean I don't set tons of goals. I do. Here's a helpful acronym I've learned to help me reach those goals.

Make your goals SMARTER*:

  • Spe­cific - Specify your objective. Exactly what needs to be accomplished?
  • Mea­sur­able - Give yourself a way to track your progress. It's very motivating.
  • Achiev­able - Be realistic. Setting goals you can't meet is very demotivating.
  • Recorded - "A goal not written down is only a wish." Write it down!
  • Time-bound - Give yourself a specific deadline. Especially important for procrastinators like me.
  • Empowering - Be positive in your goal setting! Think do rather than don't.
  • Reviewed - Evaluating how you did with this goal will help you in setting the next.
For example, instead of setting vague goals like "Finish book", set SMARTER goals like "Write two pages on WIP each day." or "Edit ten pages of WIP this afternoon." or "Write with no interruptions for one hour."

Instead of "Find Agent", try "Query two new agents this week." You get the idea.

Best of success in reaching your writing goals!

* The SMART acronym is attributed to either Peter Drucker's 1956 book, "The Practice of Management" or Paul Meyer's 1965 "Personal Success Planner."

This week's writers' link roundup:

A Chance to Ask the Authors: (WordsOnWords)

Christina Katz discusses How To Become a Successful Writer (huffduffer)

How Finding a Publisher is a Lot Like Dating (Wild About Words)

What are the 16 Must Have elements in a novel? (Writing & Illustrating)

Is your Manuscript Ready for Submission? (Ingrid's Notes)

Are you ready for an agent? (Writer Musings)

Or maybe not... (Rants and Ramblings)

About submitting - a small etiquette primer (Buried in the Slush Pile)

Maureen Johnson is awesome. That is all. (MaureenJohnsonBooks)

Establishing your characters (PlotToPunctuation)

Top Ten List for Aspiring Authors (Jody Hedlund)

Using Famous Names For Real (Editorial Anonymous)

Ideas vs. Execution (Genreality)

Also - don't forget, the drawings for THE DEATH BY BIKINI MYSTERIES and GETTING REVENGE ON LAUREN WOOD end tomorrow. Today is the last day to enter!

Now go! Write!

FF - The Education of Hailey Kendrick by Eileen Cook

The Author:

I'm pleased to welcome back GCC Sister, Eileen Cook to the blog. Eileen is a multi-published author with her novels appearing in six different languages. She spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer.

You can read more about Eileen, her books, and the things that strike her as funny at Eileen lives in Vancouver with her husband and two dogs and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else .

The Book:

Hailey Kendrick always does exactly what's expected of her. She has the right friends, dates the perfect boy, gets good grades, and follows all the rules. But one night, Hailey risks everything by breaking a very big rule in a very public way...and with a very unexpected partner in crime. Hailey gets caught, but her accomplice does not, and Hailey takes the fall for both of them.

Suddenly, Hailey's perfect life--and her reputation--are blowing up in her face. Her friends are all avoiding her. Her teachers don't trust her. Her boyfriend won't even speak to her for long enough to tell her that she's been dumped.

They say honesty is the best policy--but some secrets are worth keeping, no matter the cost. Or are they?

The Praise:

"Hailey may be an A student headed to the Ivy League, but when it comes to taking a chance on life, she’s clueless. She’s also enormously appealing and great company throughout this breezy read. Yes, it’s chick lit, but of the highest quality—like a

gourmet truffle. Cook has whipped up a real treat.” --Kirkus starred review

"Cook effectively builds both Hailey's (justified) feelings of rebellion and the social

dynamics of her ostracism, especially in her growing friendship with a challenging

townie, Drew, who supervises her punishment working with the janitorial

staff....Cook coaxes considerable empathy for the otherwise privileged Hailey as she

abandons the achievement treadmill to explore her independence." --Publishers


The Interview:

What inspired you to write The Education of Hailey Kendrick?

The inspiration came in part from coming across a copy of The Scarlett Letter. I’m very interested in how the process of what everyone thinks of us shapes how we view ourselves. If your identity was suddenly taken away- how would you respond?

Have you ever done something your main character does in your book?

While in school I pulled a prank involving a school mascot. I can’t give details because I secretly fear the police will come for me. I would look very bad in a prison orange jumpsuit

Do you have any special writing rituals or totems to connect with your muse?

I like to play movie soundtrack music when I write. The music often doesn’t have words so I don’t find myself singing along, and it’s designed to invoke emotions so it works well when I need that extra boost.

What's one thing most people don't know about you?

People are often surprised to discover I’m an introvert. When I need to be I can be quite outgoing and I do a lot of public speaking. However, I am way more comfortable in my yoga pants on the sofa with my dogs. Being social takes energy for me. I’m socially awkward by nature. If you are really lucky sometime you can hear my snorty laugh that happens when I’m nervous.

What's your favorite quote?

I’m a total quote junkie too! I can think of zillions of favorites, but my current is “Well behaved women rarely make history.” Eleanor Roosevelt. It reminds me that playing it safe all the time doesn’t get you very far.

What are you working on now?

I have a middle grade series coming out for young readers (ages 8-10) in the Spring called The Fourth Grade Fairy. I’m also hard at work on my new YA novel. I’m working on a gothic story with the working title of Haunting Isobel. It has a creepy old house, a family mystery, a brooding handsome man and a possible ghost. It’s been a tremendous amount of fun to write so far.

What is an interesting writing quirk of yours?

If I can’t tell if a scene is working I need to read it out loud. I’m not sure why my bad acting makes a difference, but it does.

What kind of chocolate best describes you?

I’m not sure if it describes me- but dark chocolate is my favorite by a mile. I can actually pass up milk chocolate. This never happens with dark.

The Freebie:

Since Eileen doesn't have her author copies of TEOHK yet (sadly, this happens more often than you would think), she is generously offering a signed copy of her phenomenal GETTING REVENGE ON LAUREN WOOD to this week's winner.

To be entered to win, leave a comment below, telling us the most rebellious thing you've ever done (as long as you can tell us and still keep it PG-13.) This drawing will remain open until Wednesday, January 12.

Please note: As always, please be sure to check back. Winners must respond within two weeks or their prize may end up back in the pot for another winner - and you wouldn't want that to happen, would you??

ALSO: Don't forget the DEATH BY BIKINI MYSTERIES freebie, going on right now. You can find it here. (Or... scroll down to the post below...)