My brilliance is beyond brilliant

I was ransacking going through my closet looking for Christmas bags (because Christmas is, you know, weeks away, and I need to know how many bags I still need to buy like, NOW) and I came up with this awesomely awesome and wonderful idea. Actually, I came up with a few awesomely awesome ideas. And the shock that rippled through my body as I realized just how brilliant I was -- I mean, we are talking BRILLIANT, people -- well, that shock just about did me in. I seriously could have been found by Lovemuffin, spread out on the closet floor, clutching an ugly Christmas bag and Scotch tape dispenser to my chest (it had a little bitty hole in it... I throw nothing away people... this has been passed down three generations... don't judge), that's how mind-blowing these ideas were.

Are you tired of waiting to hear about my awesomely awesome ideas? Well wait no further. Here they are, in no particular order. (Hold on to your seats. No not those... the chair, people... I meant the chair.)

Five wonderful books I am going to write:

1) My Pickled Life*: Chronicles Perry the pickle's life from seed plantage to pickage to being shoved into a bunch of vinegar and whatever else they use to turn cucumbers into pickles. It will be educational, and even hilarious at times ("Nooooo... vinegar stunts my growth! yelled poor Perry Pickle"). And best of all, with the magic of faster-than-ever publishing these days, the package will be out in time for Christmas with one (or maybe more than one!!!) of these nifty pickly gifts.

2) Attack of the Horn**: A cute, meaningful story about a unicorn named Foofie whose beautiful horn somehow dislodges itself from Foofie's head and tries to poke her in the eye. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry. And best of all, it will come with a strap-on one-size-fits-all-foreheads unicorn horn for the unicorn at heart.

3) Redundancy at a Glance: Saying the same thing over and over is *so* redundant, don't you think, right? So kick back and put up your feet and relax as you read Redundancy at a Glance. Things you never thought to think of will be sparking your interest, like these chapters, for example...

Eating cheese on a cold winter night that is freezing

Marshmallows are for hot cocoa and smores and for putting in between wedges of chocolate and graham crackers

I just said this and now I'll say it again


The best phrases to use *ever* (What? You'd like few examples? Well, sure! Try these out in talking conversations -- advance planning, same identical and free gift)

4) Noodles are so Noodly***: Inspired by my mother's phrase, "holding on like a wet noodle", Noodles are so Noodly is a compliation of photographs taken by yours truly showing the many things you can do with noodles (sorry, photos are copyrighted, or I would have posted them on here).

Here are a few examples to spike your interest:

Hair getting thin? Add a little bit o' noodles to that bare spot.****

Not sure what to stuff that Christmas turkey with because you're out of bread and crumbs and all that other stuff that goes into stuffing? Stuff him with noodles.

Out of cereal and the kids are screaming they're about to collapse from malnutrition? Give 'em noodles. (They won't even know the difference. I swear.)

Running low on icicles for the tree? Do not fear -- why not wrap your Christmas tree with noodles!? (Can we say beautiful, and yum?)

And last but not least...

5) How to Waste Time Writing Weird Blog Posts When You Should Be Writing Your Actual Book Instead***** (or, as I like to call it, HWTWWBPWYSBWYABI <--- much shorter).

Well what are you waiting for? Head over to your favorite bookstore and order these today! (And I will finish writing them... sometime in the very-near-possibly-soon-to-be future!)

*Slightly torn ugly Christmas gift bag optional for an additional $1.99.
**Inspired by Charlie the Unicorn. I don't know what makes this guy do what he does, but hopefully he never stops.
***Comes with three free noodles in the shape of your choice - elbow, pinwheel, long and skinny, or noodle
****Cooked, or dry. But if you use raw noodles, take care not to poke anyone in the eye.
*****No explanation available at the time of this post

A different kind of turkey


Imagine, if you will, that you're at a bowling alley.

You think you're a pretty good bowler, but the strikes are evading you.

At first, you don't think much of it. At least you're knocking the pins down, getting that occasional spare once in a while, right? You'll just try harder when your next turn comes around.

Now imagine that each set of bowling pins stands for something -- in my case, they'll stand for a query -- but they could be a job you're applying for, something you've been striving to do in your life, whatever.

You keep rolling the ball, trying to knock down the pins, attempting to get somewhere with those queries/job applications/et cetera. But those darn strikes... they refuse to materialize.

Now, disappointment starts to settle in. Within a short matter of time, that feeling goes from being a thin, hardly noticeable vapor of frustration, to the heaviest fog EVER.

But here's the thing.

Does the bowler attempt that first strike, use his second chance to do it again, then say, "Forget this, I quit" and walk out of the bowling alley?


How about after a few frames? Does he quit then?

Not at all.

The game isn't over until ten frames have been played -- that's twenty chances to knock the pins over. So if each set of pins is a query, that's a decent amount of opportunities!

Maybe you knock down a few pins, but the results aren't what you were hoping for. One pin gets knocked down -- one response after carefully analyzing the "perfect" way to throw the ball. It's not a bite, not a positive reaction as you'd hoped, just a reaction.

Time for another frame.

And if none fall down, or they do, but they aren't what you're looking for (rejections, someone else hired for that position, et cetera), you do another one.

And another.

And another.

And... another.

You keep practicing, sending that bowling ball in the direction it needs to go.

And eventually, though it may not be as soon as you want, you'll get that strike -- that request, that job offer. Heck, you may even get more than one. Maybe you'll get three. A query turkey, so to speak.

**For a much better query analogy, check out Amy's post, In Which I Compare Querying to Toothpaste.

Friday Focus: Your writing must have you

"There's one thing your writing must have to be any good at all. It must have you. Your soul, your self, your heart, your guts, your voice -- you must be on that page. In the end, you can't make the magic happen for your reader. You can only allow the miracle of 'being one with' to take place. So dare to be yourself. Dare to reveal yourself. Be honest, be open, be true... If you are, everything else will fall into place." ~ Elizabeth Ayres

Happy Friday, everyone! =)

Heavenly Blessings

I was going to post a query analogy today, but that will have to wait until next week. Today, I'm posting a few things I'm thankful for. But first, a quote...

"The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!" ~Henry Ward Beecher

A few things I'm thankful for:

I am thankful for the way Lovemuffin goes out of his way to make my life easier on a daily basis, thankful that no matter how much I correct him or forget to do the dishes, he still loves me. Thankful for no matter how terrible I look or insane my hair is or how dark the mascara rings under my eyes are when I wake up, he still tells me that I'm beautiful.

I am thankful for the friends who are there to listen to me, who let me ramble on and on about this writerly journey that has to bore them at (most) times, and yet, they keep listening -- who know they can trust me to keep their secrets, and know that I trust them enough to keep mine.

I am thankful for the way my oldest daughter laughs silently when she laughs really hard, who gets my personality and doesn't get embarrassed by me very often, whose usual response is a shake of the head and a "You're weird, Mom."

I am thankful for the way my middle daughter can be utterly frustrated and furious and yell and stalk off to her room, slamming her door and screaming about the unfairness of it all, only to come out minutes later crying and saying she's sorry for making me sad.

I am thankful that my youngest daughter forgives me every time I put her wallet in a new place, to be lost for weeks on end until I happen to come across it again -- for her OCD tendencies, because even though it drives me batty I can't imagine how much messier the house would be without her constantly picking it up.

I am thankful for the view of the sunset right above our back fence every evening -- for having the best seat ever to watch the glowing leaves, the pinks and oranges spread across the sky as the sun melts into the horizon.

I am thankful for books, for words, for creativity -- for people who didn't give up and pursued their dreams to get their stories out there on paper in order to entertain little ol' me.

I am thankful for music, for the lyrics that make me happy, sad, hopeful, energetic. Thankful that if words ever leave me and I'm not sure what to say, I can find a song that explains it perfectly.

I am thankful for the writing community, the huge group of people who not only strive to get their own work to publication, but who also strive to help others reach that goal as well.

I am thankful for a roof over my head, a car that runs, flannel sheets, coffee, clothes to keep me warm, food in my pantry.

I am thankful for hand sanitizer.

I am thankful for cameras -- for photographs of captured milestones, silly moments, the people you love.

I am thankful for trees orange as flames lining the neighborhood yards, for the crisp, cool air that hits my face and makes my head hurt -- because if I can feel it, I'm still breathing.

and finally...

I am thankful that I can see, that I can hear, that I can remember. Thankful that though there are many wonderful people who won't be physically here on Thanksgiving Day, they'll be with me forever in my heart, in my memories.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! =)

The Sky is Falling

There's been some talk on the internet lately about the way the industry is going -- what publishers are looking for at the moment, and what's been overdone.

I read both articles (first this one -- scroll down to the Nov. 8th post -- then this) and my first thought was, Well, sh*t. (To be honest, I actually began to panic before I'd even read the second post.)

The main discussion in the first link was about contemporary YA, but she also said this: "It’s telling me I’ve got to be wary of paranormal. And that there are lots of stories around about teen girls with ‘an altered state of consciousness’ (ie, who transport somewhere else, switch places with someone, live an alternate life)."

But but... that's what I'm querying right now! Dreams! Fantasy! Not paranormal, but still... I mean... what? How was I supposed to know other people were writing the same thing, that the agents were feeling inundated with that sort of work? (Well I did know, because not too long ago I queried an agent who immediately tweeted that it was being done too much. But at that point, FLORA was done, so I was kind of stuck.)

I sat there, outside, in my chair holding Henry, shivering, and thinking, "Now what? What do I do? What do I write? How in the world am I going to come up with something entirely different?"

But you know, this sort of thing happens all the time. One person says things are in, another says they're not. The industry is entirely subjective. It depends on who you know, what you're writing, how you're writing it, and if your voice stands out. (At least, that's what I'm telling myself right now.)

I spent a better half of the day yesterday trying to change my new WiP into something that it wasn't. Into something more daring, more "high concept" than it really was. And for what? To make sure I covered the bases for something that will most likely change in a few short months? Way before I even finish this thing, that came two me a mere few days ago?

Then I remembered this post I read the other day - at the Getting Past the Gatekeeper blog. And it made me feel better. It made me remember that we have to do what we do, the way we feel like doing it. (Further proof of that is the ever-popular author Ellen Hopkin's response in the comments section on the Kidlit blog.)

Sure, FLORA may not go anywhere. Do I want that? Heck no. But if it doesn't, I'll keep writing, finish up this new WiP, and then I'll have yet another novel under my belt. Another piece of work I'll mention when querying -- that may or may not spark interest. But at least I'll be able to mention it, if they don't like the current piece of work. And who knows, by then it may be something agents are looking for again. At least, that's my hope.

We have to get to a point in this writerly journey where we're comfortable with who we are, comfortable with what we write. Because if every single article we read spurred immediate panic, and we all rushed around saying "Did you hear? Did you hear?" there's a whole lot of awesome work out there that would never go anywhere.

This is your brain...

This is your brain...

This is your brain during the query process.

That is all.

Friday Focus: Follow your inspirations

"Far away in the sunshine are my highest inspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see the beauty, believe in them and try to follow where they may lead." ~
Lousia May Alcott

Talk about an inspiring point of view!

Happy Friday, everyone!

Slumpy Snuffalupakins

So the past few days I haven't been me, or Snip. I've been Slumpy.

I'm not IN a slump necessarily, but this longline thing has me ready to poke my eyes out. Or cut off my fingers. (There will NOT be any removal of hair.) Between that and working on the ol' query thanks to Elana Johnson, who critiqued it a few days ago (check out her website, blog and ebook, From the Query to the Call, BTW, all three of which are AWESOME!), my brain is stuck on



So I just wanted to say,

How are you
Hope you're doing well
Hope you're feeling creative and productive and smart and refreshed and appreciated and Nanocomplished
I'm sorry I haven't read any of your blogs but I promise I will be back next week to drive you all crazy with my boring comments


I will be back on here soon, too.

Much love,


Friday Focus: The way to resume

“The way to resume is to resume. It is the only way. To resume.” – Gertrude Stein

Resume: to take up or go on with again after interruption; continue

Thought this was a good one after Wednesday's post.

Happy Friday!

RE: A renewed point of view

Have you ever noticed that most words starting with re are positive words? They reenforce something. Make it better.

Think about it.





We use the above actions to make our work as good as it can be.

And then, there's another re word that we don't usually associate with good at all: Rejection.

Rejection: A gentle push in a new and better direction.

Yes. That definition is much better, don't you think?

Writers write, right? Right. Write.*

*the above title was taken from

Oh dear. I believe the inevitable has happened. My brain has shut off.

This weekend was crazy and super boring at the same time. Two kids got injured, one by racing her sister on a bike WAY too small for her, then flying off (road rash sucks); and the other by going in the back of her dad's truck and slicing the bottom of her foot (no stitches, though it's going to be a crappy healing process). I finished doing the laundry, stayed caught up on the dishes (that never happens), worked on my query and logline (bugging my friend Andi so much she probably shudders every time there's an email from me in her inbox), and I even cleaned out a closet full of junk I never get rid of because "what if this is something I could use sometime in the future -- you know, like the next ten years".

Time must have slowed somehow, because by last night I'd found a way to get caught up on two missed Parenthood episodes and watch the newest Jacob's Patience installment on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. (The first one was with Will Farrell.)

And now, it's Monday. The sun is bright, the ground is wet from the rain last night, and a swift cool breeze is sweeping through the trees. The house is relatively silent (the dogs aren't barking at people pushing lawnmowers around the neighborhood for once -- oh wait, they do still bark when the mower is at OUR house), coffee is brewed... and my brain refuses to cooperate.

Friday Focus: The People Who Get Up

"People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them."

~ George Bernard Shaw

And there you go.

Happy Friday!

Hunger and writerly advice

hippo.jpg hungry hippo image by denistephenson

Advice can be a double-edged sword when it comes to writing - everyone critiques differently. I used to submit my work (queries, loglines, first whatever-amount-of-words, et cetera), then sit back and wait with the attitude that though it probably wasn't that good, it wasn't all that bad, either.

So when the advice/critiques/words of wisdom would pour in, I'd be shocked. It wouldn't take much for me to cringe, to freak out, want to cry, and feel as though I should have the right to defend myself, explain why I worded it this way or chose to do something a specific way.

But I am finally, finally learning. Maybe it's because I'm at that point (the point I thought I was at a long time ago, strangely enough) where I don't give a rat's whisker about what people say, as long as it will potentially benefit my work. I'm hungry -- close to starving. Considering how I felt a year ago (I was probably a tad unsatisfied back then), this is a wonderful thing. And I hope, even though I know it will mean I'll be more emotional and on edge, that in the next few weeks/months I will become ravenous.

I am ready to hear what people have to say, ready to take their advice in any way shape or form I can get it, to make it what it needs to be, get it where it needs to go.

None of this could be done without the tons of writers/agents across the internet offering logline contests and free critiques and query sessions and chats and so on. These people take time out of their busy schedules to pour over our work, to offer advice on how they think things can be improved. True, a few of them come across snarky, but for the most part, they are completely genuine in trying to help us improve. I can't even begin to imagine where I would be without these lovely people. Talk about appreciating so many people I've never even met.

So the next time you submit work looking for advice, remember this: none of us are perfect. We wouldn't be sending stuff their way if it was, right? And tone? Tone is hard to read. It's easy to take one person's point or question as rude or hateful, but that doesn't mean it was meant to be that way at all. Before you read what they have to say, take a deep breath. Make sure you have plenty of time for contemplation, and you're having a good day. Then make your notes, tally up those questions and points made, and go for it. Let it loose. Address everything, and decide what is worth changing and what isn't. Polish that sucker up, and send it back out again.

Be hungry. Heck, be voracious. That drive is what keeps us from giving up.

Bucket List

"It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things." ~Leonardo da Vinci

The other night I got together with some friends at a local restaurant for a couple of hours. Our lives have changed over the years, grown busier and led us off in different directions, but we've kept the tradition of getting together for birthdays (which basically means, three times a year we go out to dinner).

The three of us had a great time catching up, giving each other advice, venting about life's bumps, twists and turns, and near the end of our relaxing get-together, as my friends discussed similar interests in accomplishing the same goal - the kind you think you'd love to meet but know in actuality it probably will never happen - I suggested we make a bucket list.

Enter amusement, contemplation, and an immediate set up of rules.

First, there was no way we could make a bucket list that would span over a long number of years - it would take too long, and wouldn't that make us less likely to reach our goals?

Second, how many "big" things would go on that list? Ah yes. We all agreed. One big thing, and if it was crossed off, it would qualify for bonus points.

And third, wait - we need more time - how about we meet in a month with our lists completed, and go from there?

As our evening drew to a close, one of my friends pointed out that I still hadn't come up with a single item for my list. So of course, being stuck in the whole query process like I am, I jotted down land an agent. (After which, I promptly informed them that if I still didn't have one in five years, I would be needing a straightjacket.)

Later that night, as Lovemuffin and I were lying in bed and I was trying to come up with more items for my list, I found myself feeling frustrated. The minute I'd brought our idea up to him when I came home, adrenaline-wrought items for his own personal list flew from his lips. Sky diving. Climbing Mt. Everest (okay, he didn't really say that one, but that was the kind of things he was coming up with), et cetera. I told him we weren't looking at it like that - our bucket list was more of an inspiration to accomplish a few things that could actually be accomplished in a short amount of time. Sounds simple, right? And yet... aside from the agent goal, I had nada.

So as I lay there staring into the dark I thought, Holy crap. What's wrong with me? Why can't I think of anything?

Then I said, "Honey, do you think the fact that I can't think of anything means I'm content, or do you think it means I'm boring?"

He replied, "Maybe a little of both."

Of course, then I was so busy trying to figure out if I was boring that the bucket list got pushed to the back of my mind.

The point of today's post is this: We all have things we would love to do or try - and yet, I think most of us have never really thought to write them down. So today I'd like to hear a few goals you'd like to accomplish. What would you love to do? Are there places you would like to go? A marathon you'd like to run? A fear of something you would love to confront?

I'd love to hear about them in the comments... maybe your ideas will help me with mine!

Pitch me a fast one, me hearties!

The internet is brimming full of pitch (also called a logline) contests right now. The Authoress on Miss Snark's First Victim recently held two critique contests for loglines, and will be holding another one this week (here's her post from last Friday), in preparations for her Baker's Dozen Agent Auction in December. (Note - the MG/YA category has been bumped from 40 up to 80 submissions.)

How important is it to have a logline ready? Pretty important. Knowing your logline ahead of time can give you a foot in the door when conversing with agents, and an agent who chooses to represent you may also use that same log line when trying to interest publishers.

Also, a lot of writing contests require a logline to be submitted with your work, including WRITERS DIGEST's seventh "Dear Lucky Agent Contest" (which ends November 3rd - YA genre only - you still have time to enter!), judged by Ms. Tamar Rydzinski of The Laura Dail Literary Agency. In this contest, a logline must be included in the entry of the first 150-200 words of your novel. (Quick side note: I am entering this contest, and was very excited to learn that Ms. Rydzinski belongs to the agency that represents Bonnie Hearn Hill, YA author of The Star Crossed Series. Ms. Hill is actually from where I live, and a few fortunate writers, including myself, received a quick critique from her a few months ago at my local RWA meeting! Kind of crazy that I'm now submitting the exact same thing to her agency!)

The ladies at the Operation Awesome blog are holding a one line pitch mystery agent contest (ends soon), so if you have one and it's for a novel in the genre they're looking for, head on over there!

For those of you who've spent countless hours of blood, sweat and tears trying to write a query or synopsis, the one sentence pitch is yet another opportunity to claw your eyes out (or, if you're a fan of Snip's poem, chew your own feet).

But what IS a one sentence pitch, exactly? Well, to put it simply, it's the summarization of the plot of your book in one sentence - a way to grab an agent, suck them in, and make them beg to read some (and hopefully all) of your work.

If you're wanting to learn more about pitches, here are a few links to check out:

* Holly Bodger's (who is helping critique Authoress's logline submissions) Loglines

* Angelica R. Jackson pointed out in the comments of Operation Awesome's contest that another good place for info on pitches is on Kristen Nelson's (of Nelson Literary Agency) blog, Pub Rants.

AND, JUST ADDED: Agent Miriam Kriss's post on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog - The Perfect Pitch.

So there you have it. Another feat to accomplish in the writerly world. (They never stop coming, do they?) After spending so much time working on mine (it's far from "good", but I'm going to keep trying), I've learned that from now on, before I even begin to write a book, I'm going to write the pitch first. Not only does it help give perspective on the plot and MC's goal as you're writing, but it also saves a lot of time when you're done and trying to figure out how in the world to put this story full of discoveries, twists and turns into a mere sentence or two!

Have any of you written a pitch for your current MS/WiP? Feel free to share them in the comments - I'd love to read them!