Monday, December 30, 2013

2014, You Will Be My Killer Year!


Yes, 2014, I'm talking to you! Can you hear me? You and I are going to kill it!  It's going to be Big, totally Ballin', completely Beautiful, and lots of other B-Words. 

2014 is my debut year as an author!
(and maybe the year I get a Boob job)
[see how I wrote this Boob part so small that it's less noticeable/controversial/outrageous]
And in honor of this climactic year, I would like to announce my theme: 
(yes, I have a theme) 

“Jessie With A Shot At the Night” 
*Based on The Killers song
 I’ve always been a dreamer. From a very early age I began setting goals to achieve my dreams. Some panned out (I made it to college by the beach) and some didn't (I never starred on my own Disney show called "Jessie"--someone else did that for me...15 years later!)

But here's the thing: Sometimes I get to feelin' like a washed-up dreamer, a mom-jeans-wearing nobody, a dime-a-dozen-two-bit lawyer, a carpooling hack, a burnt-dinner-wifey, a church-going-cut-out, a closed-garage-door-neighbor, and worse.

When what I really want to feel like is an artist with a bright future, a skinny-jeans-wearing somebody, a zealous advocate for good, a movin-and-shakin'-mama, a rockstar wifey, an impassioned believer, an opened-door-friend and...a girl with a shot at the night.

There are so many schools of thought when it comes to goal setting vs. new year resolutions vs. daily systems, etc. I recently read some very interesting information about unrealistic goalsApparently, setting an unreasonably large goal is an adrenaline infusion that provides the endurance to overcome the inevitable trials and tribulations that go along with any goal. I found this idea fascinating.
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5 ‘Easy’ Steps for Making Your Unrealistic Goal a Reality

iStock 000020646047XSmallWith the book tour just about wrapped up, it’s great to be sitting at my own desk in my own house writing a blog post again.
The tour has been amazing. So many roads, people, stories, hotels and cities, and so many delicious meals (especially once I hit the west coast). There are still a few events left, including Charlotte, Raleigh, and my hometown of Asheville this Thursday, but these and the remaining dates in Raleigh and Atlanta (maybe) are short drives away. The hard part — all 11,000 miles of it in my Hyundai Elantra — is over. The goal, achieved.
Yes, this self-supported book tour was like any other goal. It started as a speck of an idea that hit me on a run one day, a ridiculous and unrealistic idea. Then the day of intense, excited research to answer the “Is this possible?” question — knowing that no matter what the facts were, I’d somehow bend them into the shape of “Yes.” Finally, going public with it and creating the accountability. At which point it became real … then the rest was just details.
I’ve got plans for a book tour wrap-up post with photos, links, stories, maybe even a recording of my talk … but this is not that post.
My talk each night focused on three topics: running, the plant-based diet, and setting big freaking scary goals. Far more than the other two topics, the ones I thought were a safe bet, it was the talk of goals that people really cared about.
And so with this post I want to share, in a nutshell, what I said about goals while on tour. It’s exactly what I’ve done with just about every goal I’ve accomplished, from qualifying for Boston to the 100-miler to the book tour itself. The steps are obvious, I think, but important enough that they’re worth hearing from as many angles as you can.

1. Think really big.

If I may, an excerpt from Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek, which perfectly sums up “thinking big”:
Ninety-nine percent of the people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for “realistic” goals, paradoxically making them the most time- and energy-consuming …
If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.
Unreasonable and unrealistic goals are easier to achieve for yet another reason. Having an unreasonably large goal is an adrenaline infusion that provides the endurance to overcome the inevitable trials and tribulations that go along with any goal. Realistic goals, goals restricted to the average ambition level, are uninspiring and will only fuel you through the first or second problem, at which point you throw in the towel. If the potential payoff is mediocre or average, so is your effort.
The fishing is best where the fewest go, and the collective insecurity of the world makes it easy for people to hit home runs while everyone else is aiming for base hits.
- See more at: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/big-goals-easy-steps/#sthash.9nO6IX7u.dpuf

5 ‘Easy’ Steps for Making Your Unrealistic Goal a Reality

iStock 000020646047XSmallWith the book tour just about wrapped up, it’s great to be sitting at my own desk in my own house writing a blog post again.
The tour has been amazing. So many roads, people, stories, hotels and cities, and so many delicious meals (especially once I hit the west coast). There are still a few events left, including Charlotte, Raleigh, and my hometown of Asheville this Thursday, but these and the remaining dates in Raleigh and Atlanta (maybe) are short drives away. The hard part — all 11,000 miles of it in my Hyundai Elantra — is over. The goal, achieved.
Yes, this self-supported book tour was like any other goal. It started as a speck of an idea that hit me on a run one day, a ridiculous and unrealistic idea. Then the day of intense, excited research to answer the “Is this possible?” question — knowing that no matter what the facts were, I’d somehow bend them into the shape of “Yes.” Finally, going public with it and creating the accountability. At which point it became real … then the rest was just details.
I’ve got plans for a book tour wrap-up post with photos, links, stories, maybe even a recording of my talk … but this is not that post.
My talk each night focused on three topics: running, the plant-based diet, and setting big freaking scary goals. Far more than the other two topics, the ones I thought were a safe bet, it was the talk of goals that people really cared about.
And so with this post I want to share, in a nutshell, what I said about goals while on tour. It’s exactly what I’ve done with just about every goal I’ve accomplished, from qualifying for Boston to the 100-miler to the book tour itself. The steps are obvious, I think, but important enough that they’re worth hearing from as many angles as you can.

1. Think really big.

If I may, an excerpt from Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek, which perfectly sums up “thinking big”:
Ninety-nine percent of the people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for “realistic” goals, paradoxically making them the most time- and energy-consuming …
If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.
Unreasonable and unrealistic goals are easier to achieve for yet another reason. Having an unreasonably large goal is an adrenaline infusion that provides the endurance to overcome the inevitable trials and tribulations that go along with any goal. Realistic goals, goals restricted to the average ambition level, are uninspiring and will only fuel you through the first or second problem, at which point you throw in the towel. If the potential payoff is mediocre or average, so is your effort.
The fishing is best where the fewest go, and the collective insecurity of the world makes it easy for people to hit home runs while everyone else is aiming for base hits.
- See more at: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/big-goals-easy-steps/#sthash.9nO6IX7u.dpuf

5 ‘Easy’ Steps for Making Your Unrealistic Goal a Reality

iStock 000020646047XSmallWith the book tour just about wrapped up, it’s great to be sitting at my own desk in my own house writing a blog post again.
The tour has been amazing. So many roads, people, stories, hotels and cities, and so many delicious meals (especially once I hit the west coast). There are still a few events left, including Charlotte, Raleigh, and my hometown of Asheville this Thursday, but these and the remaining dates in Raleigh and Atlanta (maybe) are short drives away. The hard part — all 11,000 miles of it in my Hyundai Elantra — is over. The goal, achieved.
Yes, this self-supported book tour was like any other goal. It started as a speck of an idea that hit me on a run one day, a ridiculous and unrealistic idea. Then the day of intense, excited research to answer the “Is this possible?” question — knowing that no matter what the facts were, I’d somehow bend them into the shape of “Yes.” Finally, going public with it and creating the accountability. At which point it became real … then the rest was just details.
I’ve got plans for a book tour wrap-up post with photos, links, stories, maybe even a recording of my talk … but this is not that post.
My talk each night focused on three topics: running, the plant-based diet, and setting big freaking scary goals. Far more than the other two topics, the ones I thought were a safe bet, it was the talk of goals that people really cared about.
And so with this post I want to share, in a nutshell, what I said about goals while on tour. It’s exactly what I’ve done with just about every goal I’ve accomplished, from qualifying for Boston to the 100-miler to the book tour itself. The steps are obvious, I think, but important enough that they’re worth hearing from as many angles as you can.

1. Think really big.

If I may, an excerpt from Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek, which perfectly sums up “thinking big”:
Ninety-nine percent of the people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for “realistic” goals, paradoxically making them the most time- and energy-consuming …
If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.
Unreasonable and unrealistic goals are easier to achieve for yet another reason. Having an unreasonably large goal is an adrenaline infusion that provides the endurance to overcome the inevitable trials and tribulations that go along with any goal. Realistic goals, goals restricted to the average ambition level, are uninspiring and will only fuel you through the first or second problem, at which point you throw in the towel. If the potential payoff is mediocre or average, so is your effort.
The fishing is best where the fewest go, and the collective insecurity of the world makes it easy for people to hit home runs while everyone else is aiming for base hits.
- See more at: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/big-goals-easy-steps/#sthash.9nO6IX7u.dpuf

So as for 2014, here's my flat-out unrealistic, crazy-stupid, and downright ridiculous goals:
  • I will Blog EVERY DAY (excluding weekends and holidays). I have some really crazy-stupid ideas of how I am going to do this. Stay tuned—I promise to be shocking, controversial, and borderline inappropriate (as usual). I am going to do this through the use of three B-words: Bullet points, Brevity, and Bridget Jones. You’re welcome. 
  • I will take a shot at the night...and get Brandon Flowers and The Killers to appear at my book launch for KILLING RUBY ROSE. I told you these goals were going to be crazy-stupid. But just so you know, Brandon Flowers is from Las Vegas (we even went to the same high school--he was a freshman when I was a senior--go Chaparral Cowboys!), and the band is crazy-awesome, and this goal is not outside the realm of possibility. After you get done rolling your eyes…(done yet?)…make sure that you clear your calendar to come to Las Vegas on September 16. 
  • I will embark on trips to New York City, Chicago, Orlando, Seattle, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles (and maybe a few other cities) for various literary reasons: to attend book expos/library conventions, writing confrences, to meet my publishing team, party with my agent, tour with my publishing sisters at Skyscape/Amazon Children’s Publishing.
  • I will write/revise and sell another Book. Plain and simple. 
These are the Biggies. I will set smaller goals in order to achieve these downright ridiculous goals. But in honor of my goal of Brevity, I’ll end here. You got any crazy-stupid goals for 2014?

Love,
Jessie With a Shot At The Night

Thursday, December 19, 2013

2014 Conferences & Book Events

It's time to start planning and thinking about which writing conferences, book festivals, and other literary events that we would like to attend. Here's what I've got lined up:

  1. Life, The Universe, & Everything (LTUE) February 13-15 at the Provo, Utah Marriott and Conference Center. This is an extremely inexpensive conference, only $30 if you pre-register! I don't know of a better price. The conference consists mostly of panels, tons of rock-star authors, from many different genres (but mostly fantasy and sci-fi). 
  2. LDStoryMakers- April 25-26 in Layton, Utah. Orson Scott Card is the keynote speaker this year, along with a smorgasbord of other amazing authors, agents and editors. It's my favorite conference of the year. All my favorite people will be there.
  3. American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference, Las Vegas, NV: June 26-July 1. Oh hells yes, this is chez moi! As far as publication industry events go, this is a biggie. And I'll be there.
  4. Vegas Valley Book Festival (obviously in Vegas, duh) October 16th–18th. I participated in this book festival in 2013 and it was beyond awesome. So many amazing authors came to town to participate in panels, signings, and general partying. 
  5. And beyond these four events, I am set to debut with KILLING RUBY ROSE as a Kindle Serial Release on May 6, 2014, and then paperback release on September 16, 2014. I can guarantee there are going to be some more parties lined up here in the LV hood for that, though I don't quite have the exact details. Also, me and three of my fellow Skyscape authors are going to do an East-coast tour in the fall, including school visits, bookstore signings, and some more general partying. I like parties! 
Should be a pretty awesome year! So what do you have lined up for 2014? 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Simple Ways To Get Through The Submission Slush Pile--What I've Learned From #PitchWars

As many of you know, I am participating as a mentor in the #PitchWars contest hosted by Brenda Drake.

What this means for me, and approximately forty other authors also acting as mentors, is that I have temporarily stepped into the role of a discerning agent or editor. I HAVE A SLUSH PILE! Hundreds of writers have submitted their query and first five pages to to me and my fellow mentors. Our job is to read through all these submissions and decide on one pick that we will mentor into the next round, which is the agent round. We only get ONE pick! All these amazing submissions, talented writers, exciting stories, and we only get to work with one. I have a new appreciation for what agents and editors go through when faced with an ever-increasing slush pile. Fortunately for me, sometimes writers make it easy on me with very common mistakes. Here's my two cents on what to do get past the slush pile:
  • NEVER open with a question! I thought this was a really well-known no-no, but apparently not. I don't want to asked difficult questions about what I would do if faced with an intergalactic alien king who is hell bent on killing me. :/
  • Don't get super creative with format. Stick to the basic structure:
  1. Hook section which introduces character and setting
  2. Conflict section which sets up the general story
  3. Stakes section which explains what terrible things will happen if your main character can't overcome the conflicts
  4. About section which highlights the author, word count, and comps. 
Within this framework, you can get all sorts of creative, but don't disrespect the format. It makes it easy for agents/editors to dismiss you outright if you don't be respectin' them rules!
  • PLEASE make it easy for the agents/editors to contact you or research you. At the end of the query, hyperlink all your junk: email, website, blog, twitter handle, facebook page, etc. If you don't do this, the agent/editor will either 1) assume you don't have any social media presence at all; or 2) that you aren't professional enough to help them out--they don't have time to google you, and sort through pages of google listings of super creepy people out there that share your name! Which brings me to my next point...
  • HAVE a social media presence! I realize that this is probably a controversial subject because I'm sure we can all name a few authors who got picked up without so much as a twitter account (Stephen King just got his twitter account--fifty million bucks later). Whatever. You're not Stephen King! Get a blog, and even better, get a website. If you're serious about getting published, just do it. Go ahead and rant at me, and tell me all the reasons why it's not necessary until your published or whatnot. Tell me about the agent who told you that it didn't matter to them. Well, it mattered to my agent, and it mattered to me as I was trying to narrow down the field of contestants. 
  • GET a professional author picture, and upload it to all your email accounts, social media, etc. Even if you don't love pictures of yourself, pay someone a nominal fee to photoshop the crap out of you! (As long as it still looks like you). Gmail, hotmail and I'm sure all the other email hosts provide you with an option to upload your picture to your account settings. I swear this will help! I swear that agents/editors don't want to see a character out of the HOBBIT movie in your profile pic!
  • OF COURSE, it won't hurt to have:
  1. A completed manuscript with appropriate word count for your genre. 
  2. A voice that shines and resonates with the intended audience
  3. A marketable premise that hasn't been outdone (paranormals, dystopians, angel books...sorry, but you are at a huge disadvantage right now).
If you do these things, you will already be placing yourself above most of the slushers!

And thus endeth my preaching. Amen.

Monday, November 25, 2013

NaNoWriMo Check-In and Countdown

It's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and this is the first year that I've taken the challenge to write an entire book (50,000 words) in one month. I've always been in the middle of revising during the month of November, but this year I've been rockin' the NaNo! Man, it's been fun keeping up with all my writing peeps as to how they've been doing with this challenge. It's no joke, and not for the weak of heart, so I respect each and every one of you for doing it.

Here's how I'm doing on my NaNo project:
  • As of today, I have written 57,000 words on my new contemporary Young Adult novel entitled LEAVING KALLIE. *Disclaimer: I wrote 24,000 of these words in April, so I can't count them as part of NaNo, but that puts me at a clean 33,000 with six days to go. Yikes, why do they choose to do NaNo during November?!
  • This story has been super fun to write because it's set in France (where I lived for 18 months) and when I draft a scene about a small village street with cobblestone roads and scents of patisseries floating in the air, it's almost as good as buying a ticket and going there again for real.
  • Here's my pitch for the project: When 16 year old California-girl, Kallie Kalua is forced to move to France because her mother is engaged to one of the wealthiest vineyard owners in Europe, she is also forced to experience life in all together foreign way. A summer full of exploring castles, eating French pastries, and being courted by two French boys to die for, soon turns into a nightmare of lies, deceit and a murder mystery definitley-not-to-die-for. It's ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS meets DOWNTON ABBEY, if you like that kind of thing.
  • Two weekends ago I went to a writer's retreat in Park City where I knocked out 16,000 words in 2.5 days, and today I hosted a local "Writing Day" at my house where I blasted out 6,000 in one day. These kinds of meetups really help my productivity and I wish I could do it more often.
So what's up with all y'all? Doing NaNo? Revising instead? Do you secretly hate NaNo and it's stupid name?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sometimes Your Personal Back-Story Matters

Two days ago I was invited to an "Educator Breakfast" at Barnes & Noble. This is a regular event put together by bookseller extraordinaire, Crystal Perkins. Crystal a B&N manager, an event coordinator for the Las Vegas Valley Book Festival, genius of all things publishing, most well-read person I know, and all-around amazing person. Two of the attendees "skyped" in from their various locations: Eileen Cook from Canada and Chris Howard from Colorado.

The set up of the conversation was a question and answer (amongst teachers, librarians, readers and writers), where we got to know one another, and discussed all things bookish. It was informal, fun and totally engaging. Here's what I got out of the experience:

Sometimes Your Personal Back-Story Matters

Eileen Cook is a fascinating author. She used this this one-liner that I am totally going to steal: (I'm paraphrasing) As a child, I dreamed about growing up and becoming an author, which is about as practical as wanting to grow up and be a princess. So funny! So true! So she went to college, studied psychology, and worked in the field of psychology for many years until she finally published her first book, which drew greatly upon her expertise. Her background is incredibly interesting and makes me want to read every word she writes. It also helps that she is a lovely person.

Chris Howard is an equally engaging author. His English accent doesn't hurt matters either. The dude studied natural resources management at Colorado State University, worked for the National Park Service, and led wilderness adventure trips for teenagers. No wonder he wrote an awesome post-apocalyptic adventure.

Whether we want to admit it or not, as writers we must one day step out from behind our computer screens and engage with readers. Don't you think it might help if we are interesting? If we have some kind of backstory to highlight why we became writers, why we decided to write the books we wrote?

Two great examples that come to the top of my mind are:
  • Lydia Kang who is freaking doctor and has written a thrilling science-techy book called CONTROL which comes out December 2013.
  • Christina Farley who is a school teacher, lived in Asia, studied martial arts and wrote a kick-A mythological paranormal set in Korea. Her book GILDED comes out next year.
Which authors do you find fascinating? And have you given any thought to your backstory and what will make you interesting to readers?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Monday Quickie: Three Things That Make Me A Better Writer

Good Monday to you all! It's time for another installment of:

The Quickie

This is where I  post a QUICK WRITING TIP. A writing skill everyone should know. Whether it be technical or creative, useful or not, I'm gonna give it to you! You're gonna be humming the lyrics to "Honkey Tonk Badonkadonk" by Trace Adkins:

If that's your thing :/

Without further ado, here are my:
Three Small Things That Make Me A Better Writer

  1. Meet with writer friends regularly. You don't have to be part of an official writer's group (though that's awesome too)--I'm not. You don't have to choose an official day (though it helps)--I don't. You don't have to choose the popular writers (though it might be nice to have the connections to successful authors)--I only sometimes schlepp along. It's just important to have positive friendships with those who understand you, are willing to help you, and happy to share the creative vibe.
  2. Get Outside. Sometimes as writers, we tend to be sedentary. After all, its kind of hard to play tennis and type at the same time. But it's important to take breaks, breathe fresh air, get some vitamin D (from the sunshine, not from a pill), and get some endorphins flowin'! 
  3. Indulge A Little. Right now my favorite thing to do while writing is enjoying a hot beverage. It might the crisp fall air, but anything that comes in a beautiful and steaming hot mug sounds good to me. Whether it be peppermint tea, hot apple cider, creamy cocoa, pumpkin spice frap-a-lappas (or whatever they're called)...I'll take it. And it keeps me happy while I sedentarally sit on my A for a few hours.

While I admit that none of this information is groundbreaking, it might be a nice reminder. I know it is for me. 

What small things make you a better writer?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Time to Query

I am of the school of thought that there are good times of year and not so good times of year to query. I've blogged about this before, as have many others, but here's a little B-Word Bulleted Breakdown on the matter:

Not So Good Months to Query:
  • January- because 1) everyone (and their mother) is waiting for agents to get back from holiday breaks to query, 2) because a lot of those agents will be going out on submission with their clients during this month, and 3) because of a couple big conferences which many agents attend. 
  • July- because of family vacations and heat waves.
  • August- because its still too hot and school is starting soon and one last vacation must be taken before getting back to the grind. 
  • December- because of all the unpolished NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month where hundreds of thousands of writers write complete novels) submissions streaming in and also because the holidays.
 Good Months to Query:
  • February- because the agents may have more time to catch up on their slush piles after some distance from the holidays.
  • September- because there's something about the freshness in the air, kids settling down and going back to school, and adults getting down to business, as evidenced by this post of my agent, Sarah Davies: Pounding of the Hooves. So if you're thinking of pulling the trigger on querying, DO IT! NOW!
  • November-Most everyone is so busy working on their new, shiny NaNoWriMo project that they have no time for querying and therefore agents might have a slightly less gargantuan slush pile.
    DISCLAIMER: I could be 100% totally wrong on all of this.  I am only speaking from my own personal experience. Your best bet is to research your favorite agents individually and find out what they are doing and when.

    Goodbye.

    What's your two cents?


Monday, September 16, 2013

Getting Slapped In the Face

Yesterday afternoon I was trying to take a nap on the couch when my 3 year old comes over to me and says, "Mom."

I don't answer because I want her to think I'm already asleep.

She slaps me on the face and says, "Mom."
I act like a dead fish and take the slap like a man, holding to my strategy.

She pulls at my hair and says, "Mom!"

I keep my eyes closed, determined to convince her with my peaceful protest that Mommy needs a nap.

Then she proceeds to say, "Mom," twenty-nine more times (yes, I counted) until I finally open my eyes and am forced to make a decision. Should I:

a) sweetly stroke her face and say, "What can I do for you, honey?"
b) growl at her like a werewolf until she sees the fire in my pupils and runs away
c) hold to my guns and command her (in a scary voice) to, "Leave me alone!"
d) curl into the fetal position and pray for a miracle to draw her away from me
e) plead with Mr. Humphries (at the top of my lungs because he's upstairs) to come and help me; or
f) pull her into my arms and cuddle with her until she falls asleep with me.

What happens?

g) I close my eyes and let her keep on saying Mom a few more dozen times because honestly, I'm just too exhausted after a very busy week that I'm totally capable of sleeping through that broken record. I know, I proudly accept the Mother of the Year Award!

But let's be candid--sometimes we run ourselves into the ground. I know I do. Finding inspiration, fuel, energy, balance can be difficult. But we push through it and usually there is a reward on the other end. Sometimes it's as simple as a square of chocolate, a good movie night, a beautiful scene written, a nice little twenty minute nap...but it counts.

What kind of face-slapping have you endured lately? And what kind of reward have you found for pushing through it?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Thing About Birthdays...

They add up. One minute you're celebrating your Sweet Sixteenth and the next you can barely remember that far back. And though many birthdays were just flat-out forgettable, some were pretty awesome:

Like my 8th birthday when I had a party at my house, and we played Bingo with M&M's, and someone gave me some "Electric Youth" perfume by Debbie Gibson. So rad!

And then there was my 20th birthday where me, my sister and my best friend went to Rosarito, Mexico for some lobster, cheap shopping, and maybe a little dancing. (I lived in San Diego at the time, so it wasn't a big deal). Three single young girls, what could go wrong? We got pulled over by some Federales, forced to exit our vehicle, and directed to stand still on the side of the abandoned highway while the men with machine guns searched our car. Not so rad!


And how could I forget my 27th birthday when I was informed to start prepping for my emergency C-Section the following day? Awwwww...some!

***I'm going to do everyone a solid and not show any pictures of this event. You're welcome.***

And of course there's this years birthday (no, I'm not telling you how old I am!) where me, my sister and other best friend went out to dinner and a show--Michael Jackon's One by Cirque du Soleil. I bought myself some shiny pleather stretchy pants and a Michael Jackson-esque jacket and made some memories. Yes, some of them might have been embarrassing ones. And no, I was not drinking.


So whether your birthdays are 80's rad, life-threateningly scary, or borderline inappropriate, they happen. Every. Single. Year.

What's your most memorable B-day?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Writing and the Iron Man

Not this one:


I'm talking about this one:

Right now I'm sitting in a Starbucks along the race route for the 2013 Iron Man 70.3, and dang it's inspiring!

These athletes are flat-out, crazy-pants, freaks of nature! (In the best possible way) They have 0% body fat, 0% give in, and nothing but determination in their eyes. I am in total awe. How hard have they worked to get to this race? How many hours of praiseless training have they invested? How much pain, suffering, and self-doubt have they suffered? How many slices of cheesecake or scoops of ice cream have they sacrificed in order to properly fuel their bodies?

Probably a lot.

I want to have that kind of determination in my life. NOT IN RUNNING, BIKING, and SWIMMING, of course! Maybe just in the things that matter to me. Like writing for example. Maybe I can work a little harder, train a little better, put more of myself into it, make it a top priority in my life. That way, when I run through metaphorical finish line (because let's be honest, there's no cheering section waiting for when a writer finishes a book) people will want to reach out and give me a high five!

What could you be doing to train better at what you want to accomplish?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Cluster F

And no, the F does not stand for Friday, or Fun, or Fabulousness. Let me explain...

Last weekend, a barrage of less than ideal events transpired:
  • Friday- got some eyelash extensions done and had a bad reaction to the glue. I let Mr. Humphries drive and tried to sleep it off as we traveled late to Southern Utah for the holiday weekend. Never mind that my little nap got interrupted by a flashing lights, a police siren, and someone other than Mr. Humphries asking for the ""insurance and registration, please."
  • Saturday- woke up looking like Sloth from Goonies, due to the continuing allergic reaction to the eyelash glue. Asked my mother in law if she had any Benadryl, but she only had the Children's kind. I thought I should be fine to take the dose for "children over the age of six."
  • Later Saturday--I vaguely remember attending the Peach Days parade before I wandered off and passed out in the car. Six hours later I woke up at the in-laws house, not able to recall all the details of how I got there. I totally roofied myself on CHILDREN'S BENADRYL, people!
  • Sunday- went for a walk on the golf course with the kids to stretch my strung out body, and got attacked by mosquitoes. I forgot to bring protection, yanno a machine gun or some freakin' bug spray, and we ended up with probably a thousand bites if you count cumulatively between the five of us. Mission failed, Soldier.
  •  Sunday night- tried to go see Austenland the movie (because it's not showing in Vegas), but my GPS took us to a residential cul-de-sac, and Mr. Humphries' GPS took in a full circle without leading us anywhere. We missed the movie. I might have been a little devastated.

I won't go on...but I could! It was just one of those weekends. There were some great times in between the madness, but yeah...CLUSTER F.

Ever have one of those weekends?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Supporting Fellow Authors

Let's be honest. Let's get down to the nitty gritty. Supporting our fellow authors doesn't come naturally or consistently to everyone. Don't get me wrong, there's lots of love to go around, but there's the dark side as well. Some legit (and non-legit) reasons for this unfortunate tendency might be:
  • ignorance of who and how to support
  • jealousy of authors who we've judged unworthy of success
  • spite because of personal or business reasons
  • apathy due to laziness or distraction
  • busy schedules that block our attentions
  • being tapped out financially, emotionally, or creatively
  • demanding family issues
  • etc.
I think we can all name some names of others who are warped or hindered by these issues, and I ain't gonna lie and say that I haven't been influenced by some of these justifications either, but I am whole-heartedly determined to do better. I'm in this biz now, and I had better start embracing it and getting myself involved in this chosen career. How can I expect others to support me if I don't first support them?

So, how do I do that? Here are some ideas:
  • Get on Goodreads and add our favorite author/friends' books. Add them to our TBR lists. Rate them. Review them. Become a "fan."
  • Get on Amazon and do the same.
  • Pre-order. I recently read on a Facebook article that this is one of the best ways that we can ensure the success of a book because print runs are based on pre-orders and the more books that physically exist provide a way for those books to actually sell one day! Makes sense, right?
  • Blog, tweet, FB and provide other social media exposure for the books. "Follow" them and "subscribe" to them wherever and whenever possible.
  • Participate in blog tours, contests and launch parties.
  • Physically go to a book store every once in a while and buy a book for full price. I like to do this one only for my very faves because it gets expensive fast.
In honor of this very effort that I am trying to make, I encourage all of you to visit my friend Renee Collin's blog and participate in her pre-order contest for her hugely anticipated book, RELIC. Everyone is a winner as she has door prizes for all entries.


So what are some other ways to support fellow authors?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Monday Quickie: Taking Risks

Good Monday to you all! It's time for another installment of:

The Quickie

This is where I  post a QUICK WRITING TIP. A writing skill everyone should know. Whether it be technical or creative, useful or not, I'm gonna give it to you! You're gonna be humming the lyrics, "I know you want it..." from Robin Thicke's song, "Blurred Lines."


Or not. Here's the Quickie for today:
 
Don't fail by default!

Well, maybe the original quote by my girl, J.K. Rowling, says it better:

"It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default."

So here's to taking risks. Putting yourself out there, your words, your heart, your stories. Not just today, but this week, this month, this year, this life. It takes courage to dream big, especially when so much failure and rejection loom over us, but we must continue to dream. Not in the nightmares or the luke-warm visions of meager success, but in the incautious dreams where we can fly and run through the halls of our high schools, fully-clothed, completed homework in hand, being admired and praised by our peers! 

How are you going to take a risk today, this week, this year?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Presenting As An Author

At some point in an authors career there comes the question of presenting. There are various forums at which an author can get involved to present, speak, or otherwise make an appearance: writer conferences, book festivals, bookstore promotions, school visits, national/regional/community events. For most of these occasions, an author needs to submit a presentation idea or outline.

But of course, this process begs the subsequent question: Are you, or will you be, ready to put yourself out there as an expert/one who knows a certain subject well enough to teach it?

The answer must be a resounding yes. Whether or not you consider yourself an "expert," or a fascinating public speaker, or some other kind of special person anyone would like to learn from is beside the point. You must do it! Or at least most of us must do it--some lucky B-words don't have to and still find amazing success. But whatever.

Here are some examples of authors who have built successful author platforms in part because of great presentations:
  • Elana Johnson's Killer Query Workshops - Elana is amazing when it comes to queries and everyone who has ever met her knows it. She is pretty much the query guru on the west coast and is constantly being asked to teach her query class at various events.
  • Dan Well's Story Structure Presentation - This series of presentations on story structure has gone viral and its all because how incredibly helpful it is to authors.
  • J. Scott Savage's Tour Schedule - This guy is an animal when it comes to school visits. He knows his audience and has found great success in presenting to them directly.
Those are just a few examples, but there are a plethora more. So now the challenge is for you and I to find our groundbreaking, super-helpful, amazing presentations. I have already committed to appearing at two events in the near future and am preparing to offer presentation ideas at two more.

Got any ideas for me? Any for yourself that I can steal?

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Summer Slump

You feelin' it too? The heat, the lull, the distractions, etc.?

With the kids out of school, vacations every other week (to escape the Vegas heat), and all the fun things in which a good summer requires (bbqs, pool parties, bowling, movie matinees, cousin sleep overs)...writing seems to be at the bottom of my totem pole these days. :(

The thing is, I'm pretty sure that I am not alone in my Summer Slump Situation. I know many agents, editors, and publishers who are all feeling the summer vibe. Not to mention all my writerly peeps who are vacationing everywhere from Comic Con in San Diego to breathtaking locales in New Zealand.

It's okay. Consider this post like a visit to your local addiction anonymous group! We'll call it the Summer Slumpers (instead of AA it's SS ;). Here we will feel free to confess our ineffectiveness, our laziness, our unproductivity! But like AA, we must commit to doing better. Even if it's only a small amount of progress, it is progress nonetheless.

So here is my confession: I have been watching far too much MAD MEN on Netflix. My addiction to the smoky ad rooms and whiskey laden ad men during the 1960's has been very unproductive. The secret past of the ultra-sexy MC Don Draper has taken over my attention and creative focus.

But alas, now that I've finished all five seasons, I'm ready to get back to work. Never mind that I just found out I can watch three seasons of GAME OF THRONES on HBO GO. I vow to do better. I WILL get back to work tomorrow.

Have any confessions? You wanna join my SS group? Or are you rockin' your writing this summer?

Monday, July 15, 2013

One of the Best Weeks of My Life

When I was thirteen years old, my mom had her fourth baby. The caboose. The golden child. Jeff.

Both me and my little sister (who was 11 at the time) considered him our own. We fought over whose bed he would sleep in, argued over who would change his diapers, debated on who could make him laugh most when he fussed. My mom had to put her foot down quite often to remind both of us she was the actual mother.

As the years went by, all three of us (my mom, sister and I) still vied for his attentions. The lucky kid was swarmed with attention and love that has probably scarred him to this day.


Even after my sister and I began having children of our own, we still very much considered Jeff like the sibling to our kids.
 


Well, two years ago (when he was eighteen years old) we sent him on a two year voluntary mission for our church. He has been serving in the Lansing, Michigan area. It's been a strange two years without my little bro in my life. Sure we wrote to each other every week, and spoke twice a year on the phone, but it's been very different without his spunk, his humor, his joie de vivre. But he's been really good at sending us pictures of the beautiful Michigan scenery and people:


This Wednesday he's coming home. Which makes it one of the best weeks of my life! I am so excited.

Anything awesome going on for you this hot summer week?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Checking In


Greetings from the 117 degree Las Vegas heat! I hope the rest of you out in the blogosphere are less melty and thoroughly enjoying your summer.

This is what I have been up to lately:
  • Written 60,000 words to the KILLING RUBY ROSE sequel and 30,000 words on a contemporary YA set in France
  • Hired Elana Johnson to be my independent publicist for when KILLING RUBY ROSE releases this Fall (actual date to be released soon)
  • Watched three seasons of MAD MEN on Netflix, SUPERMAN at the movie theater, and Les Miserables from RED BOX.
  • Listened to the audiobook PRODIGY by Marie Lu and dozens of podcasts of THIS AMERICAN LIFE online
  • Read FROST by Marianna Baer, FRACTURE by Megan Miranda, and PIVOT POINT by Kasie West
  • Accumulated over fifty pool hours and honed a decent tan (for white-girl)
  • Went on one date with Mr. Humphries to an excellent Brazilian restaurant
  • Babysat seven adorable children while my BFF, Erin Summerill, donated her kidney to her dad

So what have all of you been up to? 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Guest Post by an Editor

Since announcing my book deal, a lot of people have asked me if I had an editor help me with my manuscript, KILLING RUBY ROSE, before I landed my agent and signed with Amazon Children's Publishing. The answer is YES.

Over a year ago, I met Natascha Jaffa at a writers conference. After talking for awhile, I discovered that 1) we live very near each other in Henderson, Nevada and 2) we needed to be friends because of her awesome editing skills. She seriously caught things that twelve others before her had missed. Things that would have made me look like a total rookie-idiot. Basically, she's the shiz. (See, I still need her help because I make up stupid words).

Without further ado, here's Natascha:




Revising Your MS in 10 Steps
by
Natascha Jaffa
Thank you, Jessie! I’m honored to be a guest on your blog today.

So a little bit about me. Aside from being married, having a new baby and being allergic to chocolate (gasp!), I have two careers; editing and writing. Luckily, they go hand in hand. In both worlds I’ve been through so many manuscripts, I’ve discovered two reactions when it comes to revising from authors.

Some forge onward through suggestion after suggestion from their beta readers and critique partners while others go into panic mode and shut down (we all know critiques can hurt). I’ve seen both. Many, many times.

Either way, you’re ready to revise and I’m here to help you avoid that major meltdown of, “I’m crap. My writing is crap. And this book is crap.”, by taking baby steps. Ten baby steps, in fact.

1.     Print out your manuscript. Easy peasy. Anyone can do this. And for those, like me, who HATE paper (seriously, I hate the feel of paper), working on paper is much easier on your brain and your eyes during revisions. You’ll see what I mean further down the list.
2.     Set your manuscript aside for a minimum of two weeks. I personally prefer one month, but that is usually because I have several projects going at one time and have scheduled them in one-month periods. Go work on another project and let this one stew. The reason you need to do this is to get perspective on your work. It is almost impossible to self-edit and this is coming from an editor AND a writer. You need to take a step back and take a deep breath to clear your head, making this possibly the most important step throughout the process. With a clear head you will see things/mistakes you didn’t before.
3.     Read your manuscript. Get a notepad, a separate document opened on your computer, sticky notes or however else you want keep track of ideas and make notes along the way. You are NOT going to make any changes to your manuscript at this time. By approaching your manuscript as a reader and not a writer, you can make sure the story flows, you have enough detail or too much and fix any major holes.
4.     Go ahead. Make the changes. Incorporate all of those notes you’ve taken. Maybe you’ve had to replace some scenes, add characters, or get rid of them. Make sure tension, flow, goals, motivations and conflicts are all present. Clean up your dialogue because you don’t want it to sound like the dialogue from Abduction (did anyone else see that movie?). For me, this is the most difficult part; making the story make sense because I tend to write chapters out of order. To get a better handle on this step, check out this great list: http://lifetakeslemons.wordpress.com/2010/10/03/06/the-oh-so-fun-revision-checklist-for-writing/
5.     Justify every scene. My clients have such a hard time with this. It’s hard, but you have to cut the fat. Deborah Coonts, author of Wanna Get Lucky?, once told my RWA chapter that she knows why every word, sentence, paragraph, page and scene is in her novel. You need to too. Take a look at each scene in your book. Does it progress the plot forward? What importance does this scene bring to the whole of the novel? Is it developing character? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, neither will a reader and it needs to go. Sometimes, that means cutting whole chapters, which I’ve had to do. Ouch.
6.     Tighten your writing. A reader does not want to read, “he said/she said” at the end of every piece of dialogue. Editors don’t want adverbs or a sentence you’ve written in twenty words that could have been said in ten. Your story is set. Now, make it sound better. Use conjunctions, get rid of “that” when it’s used as a filler and avoid repetitive words, phrases and actions. The more succinct your writing, the better. Consequently, this cuts down your overall word count, but an agent, editor or publisher will appreciate it more than having 1,000 more words.
7.     Copyedit. You’re in my world now! The best piece of advice I’ve ever put into practice is to play 52 card pick-up with your manuscript. No, you’re not going to throw it up in the air and dance beneath them. Although, that would be fun. With this step, mix up every page of your MS. Separate those pages into 10 random piles then draw one page at a time and correct those mistakes. Grammar, spelling, typos, sentence structure, etc. With this technique, you’re getting a better perspective because you’re not getting caught up in the story.
8.     Submit to your critique group. The best way to see if your manuscript is ready for an agent/editor/publisher is to get multiple perspectives on your work. Others will catch what you haven’t and give different insight. Don’t have one? Start your research in your local area, your writing groups or even hire a freelance editor (umm, like me).
9.     Make the changes. Now, you have some, at least what I hope is, great feedback. Your critique group, beta reader or your editor has helped you tighten your writing, fix grammar and spelling mistakes, clarify POV and much more. Contemplate each suggestion. Does it work for the tone you’re trying to accomplish in a particular scene or chapter? Will it strengthen the plot or character or take away? Make sure the changes you make are ones you can live with and believe in.

Now...

10.  Celebrate! You’ve reached the end! Reward yourself for a job well done with a well-deserved break. And maybe some chocolate.


Natascha Jaffa established SPJ Editing in 2011. With a degree in psychology from Utah Valley University and a bachelors from Nevada State College, she considers herself a teacher rather than solely an editor and strives to help new and veteran authors reach their publishing goals.

Her recent projects include books placed with SirenBookstrand, Evernight Publishing, The Wild Rose Press, Secret Cravings Publishing, Ellora's Cave, Beyond the Page Publishing and Melange Books. She continues to actively build her client list and is currently seeking work in the following genres: Romance (historical, romantic suspense, paranormal, category, contemporary, erotic), urban fantasy, women’s fiction, mystery, thrillers, science fiction, fantasy and young adult.

Published in romantic suspense, she writes under the pen name Nichole Severn and can be reached through her website, www.spjediting.com, email: natascha@spjediting.com, Twitter @spjediting or Facebook (SPJ Editing).


Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday Quickie: Track Your Stats

Good Monday to you all! And even if it's not good...it's "good enough" for another installment of:

The Quickie

This is where I  post a QUICK WRITING TIP. A writing skill everyone should know. Whether it be technical or creative, useful or not, I'm gonna give it to you! You're gonna be humming the Usher song, "Love In This Club."

Or not. Here's the Quickie for today:

TRACK YOUR STATS!!!

There are several websites that allow you to do this for free. The one that I use is http://statcounter.com/. They provide easy to follow instructions and over a dozen different ways to analyze the effectiveness of your blog/website.

But listen up extra close if you are querying or going on submission. Don't you want to know if the agent of your dreams is checking you out? Wouldn't you like to be informed as to whether an editor at Random House or Amazon Publishing is perusing your site? Couldn't it be extremely helpful to know which pages and posts they are spending time on? The answers to these critical questions and more are a resounding YES!

After I saw that an editor from Scholastic had spent a significant amount of time on my severely lame "ABOUT ME" page, I decided to spend some time improving that MONUMENTAL oversight.

So go get a stat tracker and start stalking the people who are stalking you! Peace!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Donate and Karma Might Make Your Wildest Dreams Come True

Several weeks ago, friend/best-selling author/writing mentor Dave Wolverton had a tragedy in his family when his son, Ben, was in a longboarding accident. Now Dave is looking at over a million dollars in hospital bills.


Today is the day many of us in the writing blogosphere have selected for a:
DONATION BOMB for BEN WOLVERTON!
To learn more about this, GO HERE
Just remember that even small donations can make a BIG difference. And we're doing prizes for those that are willing to help by spreading the word or by making a donation!


See my sidebar for the link to donate. And also visit Leigh Covington's blog to enter a rafflecopter giveaway to win one of Dave's books.
I'm not PROMISING a 100% karma-return-on-investment (possibly in the form of your wildest writing dreams coming true), but I'm also not denying it could happen! 

Word to your mothers!
 

Monday, May 20, 2013

To Tweet Or Not To Tweet...


While I was at the Storymakers conference in Utah last weekend, I took a Twitter basics class from @jaimetheler (Jaime Theler). I didn't know all the things that I didn't know about the Twitter:
  • It's for cool people now
  • Hashtags are #awesome
  • For some people its a good thing to be limited to 140 characters per tweet
  • You have access to breaking news in a way never before possible (ex.: if you read the hashtag #Boston right after the Boston marathon, you'd have real-time storytelling from people actually on-site = #prettycool
  • Its a way to connect to writing communities without having to be invited (like the Facebook), for ex.: #amwriting #askagent #yakidlitchat #etc
I actually learned much more than this as well, like some Twitter etiquette:
  • Do Not #shamelesslyselfpromoteallthetime (people will unfollow you)
  • Do Not #includemorethanthreehashtagspertweet
  • Do Not #makeuphastagsthatarehardtoread ---I just did that! Ooopsies.

But honestly, I am still on the fence with how involved in the Twitter I want to be. I feel like there is such a steep learning curve, and I've turned into my grandma who proclaimed, "I don't need a darn remote controlly-thingy for my TV. I have two feet and I can walk! Plus the Price is Right is on and why would I want to change that?"

Am I dinosaur, sticking to blogging and Facebook? I know my agent prefers the Twitter. I know smart people like Elana Johnson and James Dashner and Kanye West rock the Twitter world.

What's your opinion? #gottwocents?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Author Pics

Last year, I wrote a blog post about profile pictures and what they say about you as a blogger. I had recently attended a writing conference where an agent spoke about the importance of how we present ourselves. Specifically, this mega-agent said:
  1. Profile pics should be of you. Not Edward Cullen. Despite the fact it might get you more blog traffic.
  2. Profile pics should be professional. Not necessarily taken by a professional, but you looking your best.
  3. They should be head shots, or at least focused on the face. Even if you have really great cleavage.
  4. They should be current. Not you ten years ago when you used to be a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model.
  5. They should represent you as an author. Not you in other mediums. (So if you love riding bulls, don't post a pic of you riding a bull...it's sort of irrelevant. And a weird example too :)>
  6. They should be formatted correctly. Not to big, taking over your whole page, and not too small, making your blog readers squint and zoom to see what you really look like. 
  7. They should be flattering but not self-indulgent. That's what Facebook is for, right?
  8. They should tell the world (readers, agents, editors, friends) that you take this thing seriously. That presentation matters to you. That you understand how you present yourself to the world says something about you. 
Lest I reinvent the wheel (I hate the word "lest"), all these things apply to author photos too. So the gist of the story (I also don't particularly like the word "gist") is to contact Erin Summerill and have her "shoot you," as she says.

But now I need your help. I need to turn in the author photo that is going to be in my book, and several other places associated with the release of my book KILLING RUBY ROSE. Can you help me choose between:
Picture A:

Picture B:

Monday, May 13, 2013

Conferences are Life-Changing


Three years ago I went to my first writing conference: LDS Storymakers 2010 in Provo, Utah. I had been writing for about a year and I'm pretty sure that I read somewhere that writing conferences were good for some reason. Can't remember what that specific reason was, but nonetheless I bought a ticket and made plans to go.

I was nervous about going alone, worried that I wouldn't fit in, unsure about what I was getting myself into, etc. So I convinced a friend from Vegas to go with me. When we sat down on the first day for the opening remarks, a very friendly girl across the table started talking to me (rather loudly). She and her friend wanted to know what my book was about and what genre it was. I think I said something about a girl who saw things and liked a boy who wasn't what he seemed...I was rambling and I looked like a total idiot.

It was classic! I had no idea what I was talking about. I didn't know how to pitch my book, talk about myself, I didn't even know what genre I was writing in. That friendly girl across the table not only ended up becoming my writing partner but one of my best friends. And the girl next to her, who was more mild mannered but equally friendly, is the true north part of our writing trifecta:




The value of conferences is far more important than learning a few tips on craft or the opportunity to meet agents. The decision I made three years ago to attend that conference changed the trajectory of my life. I became a writer surrounded by other writers who taught me how to grow. I am so grateful for Erin and Peggy, and the knowledge, joy and laughter they have brought into my life.

I am also grateful to so many more writing friends I've met along the way. I wish that I could post a picture of the dozens of friends I've met on this writing journey, but I only have a few from this weekend at Storymakers 2013:





Any life-changing conferences out there?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Monday Quickie: Get Your Manuscript "Shelf Ready"

Good Monday to you all! Good enough for another installment of:

The Quickie

This is where I  post a QUICK WRITING TIP. A writing skill everyone should know. Whether it be technical or creative, useful or not, I'm gonna give it to you! You're gonna be daydreaming about cowboy hats and singing the Tim McGraw & Faith Hill song, "Let's Make Love."

Okay, maybe not. Here's the Quickie for today:

GET YOUR MANUSCRIPT SHELF READY!!!

 So what the crap does that mean? Never fear, I got some bullet points for that:
  • Don't query until your MS is polished. Like completely, totally, and obsessively shiny.
  • Don't submit your MS to agents/editors/publishers until your MS has seen many sets of critique partners' and beta readers' eyes.
  • Don't tell yourself, "It's good enough...if I can just land an agent, she will help me get it where it needs to be to sell."
  • Don't ignore your intuition (your internal editor) when it's telling you that your MS needs more work.
  • Do be brutal with yourself. Listen to hard advice, cry over challenging notes from CP's, sweat the hard scenes out, let yourself stay up late at nights once in a while while you work out the kinks.
  • Do be patient. We've all heard the stories of writers snatching up agents and book deals after minimal work. Don't rely on that applying to you.
Now having said that, even after all the hard work you can do on your own and with writing partners, the pros will probably still have a ton of work for you to do to get it "shelf ready" all the way. I revised for over six months before I landed my agent. And then she had me revise with her for nearly four months before we went out on submission. But here's the best part of the story--when I had my first teleconference with my editors they were very complimentary about how polished my MS was. It was "shelf ready" by the time they saw it and that's what made it a quick sell for them.

On another note, who's going to spoon with me at the Storymakers conference this week? I am so excited to see so many of you, I can't stand it!



Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Check Out My New Digs

It's totally me, right? The colors, the sunshine, the beach! I adore it.

My bestie Peggy Eddleman gave me a referral to web designer, book reviewer, blog expert, and all-around genius, Hafsah at Icey Designs (also of Icey Books).  From the day I contacted her for a quote to the day all my stuff went live, she was a dream to work with. She responds to every email I send her within minutes, was patient with me as I tried to express my very un-artistic vision for what I wanted, and above all...SHE'S SO NICE! And affordable, and talented, and totally brilliant. I could go on and on about her. Basically, Hafsah is www.awesome.com.

So she did my blog, my new shiny website (www.jessiehumphries.com where I have way too many pages and information about myself...but that's what authors do--I checked), new Twitter background, a cute little button (--->), new business cards that I will give you when I see you, and other stuff that I've never had before like links and stuff. Hafsah has made me legit.

Quick tip: If anyone is considering getting a website, I would buy your domain name now, even if you won't be getting your site right away. Don't search for your name unless your serious though because I've been told that crooks monitor searches and then buy the ones that have been searched so that when those people want to buy, they have to buy from the crooks for a much higher price. They can do this because it is so cheap. So get get your domain name now!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Things Authors Do (That Don't Involve Writing)


When I first started writing several years ago, it was the ONLY thing I did in regards to developing a possible career path as a published author. Of course I read, I researched writing craft, I put my butt in a chair and drafted, revised and edited. But now that I am a soon to be published author, the list of non-writing things is getting long:
  • Develop a blog (which includes learning how to design and market--enormous feats for someone who didn't get a degree in computer design or marketing)
  • Get a Twitter account (and develop a following)
  • Get on Goodreads (as a reader first and then as an author)
  • Work Facebook (first as a reader/writer and then get an Author Page)
  • Get a website (and write crazy amounts of content for it so that people will actually spend time there)
  • Join a group blog (which requires even more blogging). I am joining the OneFour Kidlit group blog, meant for authors debuting in 2014. I should really be in  the Lucky 13's, but they are full. I guess they couldn't foresee that a person could get a book deal at such break-neck speed!
  • Organize a marketing plan involving such things as book signings, school visits, blog tours, etc.
  • More stuff that I can't even wrap my head around now.
My question is this: How am I supposed to have time to sit around the beach, intermittently writing and napping? (Which is how I pictured my author life to be).





What else have I missed? What other stuff (that I'm not qualified for) should I be doing as a debut author?