Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A PitMad Victory, A Winter's Hibernation, And POOF! It's Spring!

Today there is a feeding frenzy happening on Twitter called PitMad. Some writers knock contests saying that they are time sucks and that writers should stick to querying agents they've researched. I think that advice is only half true. Writers should always research an agent before deciding whether or not to submit pages to them. Just because someone has Twitter followers and an agency, doesn't mean he/she is a good agent or a good agent to represent your writing.

But contests can be amazingly helpful for writers hoping to find agents. You see, my fabulous agent Laura Zats found me because of last fall's PitMad.

*stops to do the Peanuts' happy dance*

It's true! I pitched my young adult suspense ASHES AND INK, and Laura Zats requested a partial...followed by a full...followed by a request for a phone call which led to an offer. Some would argue that I could have found her on my own, but here's the thing: It hadn't been announced that she was an agent yet. *gasps* That's right! I snagged a ninja agent that I would have never known was an option had it not been for pitching ASHES AND INK into the PitMad frenzy. So I researched her, emailed her references, and signed with her a week after our phone call. Initially, I was going to take two weeks to decide, but we clicked so well, and I loved her ideas and enthusiasm so much, I could not wait another week to team up with her and Red Sofa Literary.

This led to my winter hibernation from my blog. On top of being a driven agent, Laura Zats is an extraordinary editor. She sent me fantastic revision notes to help fix plot holes, draw out scenes, and make my YA shine. So that's where I've been. Hibernating in my revision cave. And now that my manuscript is polished and pretty, I get to work on my next one.

Good luck, PitMad peeps! I know it seems crazy to throw your manuscript into the Twitter rapids, but wonderful things can happen! So take a chance, do your research before hitting send, and know that I'm cheering for you!

Comment and tell me your Twitter handle if you're participating in PitMad. I'd love to see your pitches and cheer you on!

To read the interview with Laura Zats and myself, check out Jamie Corrigan's big reveal.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thankful For Great Characters

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought we’d put a bookish spin on things and talk about characters we’re thankful we've met. One character I’ve loved since I was a little is Pippi Longstocking. She’s creative. She always has a story to tell. She’s much stronger than she looks. Annnnnnnnnnnnd she has a pet monkey. Ha!

So how about you? Is there a character you’ve read about recently or one from your past that inspired you? Share about him/her in the comment section. On Thanksgiving, I’ll draw one sharer's name to win a $10 Barnes & Noble gift card. This contest is only open to U.S. residents. Be sure I have your email address, Twitter handle, or some way to contact you in case your name is picked. Good luck, and thanks for sharing!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Five Things You Will Never Hear Me Say

Sometimes the things a person or character won’t say are more telling than what they will say. Delia Moran has a post on what she wouldn’t say, and I love it so much I decided to steal (with her consent) the idea. Here’s the link to hers. And here are five things you’ll never hear me say:

5. Want to meet me for a 5:00 a.m. jog?
4. I know exactly where that random piece of paper I jotted that down on is!
3. Who would buy paperclips just because they come in cute shapes or colors?
2. Baked Kale tastes just like potato chips.

And last, but not least:

1. No worries. I never take my story ideas from real life situations.

What would be on your list? Share by leaving a comment.  If you decide to steal Delia’s post idea, be sure to leave the link so we can read yours too! J


Monday, November 4, 2013

In Love With Love

My littlest is in love with the idea of having a puppy. We emailed in a rescue application for a particular fur baby. They called our veterinarian. Things were hopping along, until I checked Petfinder and discovered someone else had adopted the cutie over the weekend. My little one cried. SOBBED.

Until I showed her a new puppy…with a fat little puppy belly…and pleading puppy eyes. Then my daughter fell in love. Again.

Sometimes we’re in love with an idea more than an individual.

This happened to me in college. I was dancing with my friends in a club, when I noticed a quiet guy watching from the corner. He’s probably shy…and smart…and funny…and perfect for me, I thought. In reality, he was shy, but not funny. He was sure UFO’s existed and visited often. I would look up during random times of my day and find him watching me. Not the romantic, sweet, sort of watching. The creepy sort of SomeoneDoACriminalBackgroundCheck watching. Yeah. Not so perfect for me after all.

Writers can do this with agents and editors. There are awesome professionals scouting for talent on Twitter and blog contests, but there are also people out there who call themselves agents and editors that don’t do either well. When a request comes from someone, ANYONE, it’s hard not to get excited. But a savvy writer will check out them out thoroughly before deciding whether or not to submit their work to them.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever been in love with the idea more than the individual? Tell us about it in the comment section. Substitute Bob or Bobbette to avoid naming names!


Monday, September 16, 2013


My summer was packed with adventure. Camping with Yogi Bear. Racing down waterslides. Even finding my inner ARRRRGH at the Beaufort Pirate Invasion.

A favorite scene happened during one of my kids' gymnastics lessons. A teacher from a different class had a group running through the same obstacle course over and over. All of the sudden, a differently-abled little girl had had enough. Instead of returning to the end of the line like the others, she took off with arms flailing and a rebel cry toward the giant foam pit on the other side of the gym. The staff called for her to stop, but she ignored them—keeping her eyes on where she really wanted to be.

It is a thing of beauty to watch someone leap.

We get caught up in the day to day, making sensible choices and listening to reason, but most of us long for something more. To dive into a foam pit. Sing on a big stage. Lay a kiss on someone we’ve secretly loved. To fly across the Atlantic Ocean using hundreds of helium-filled balloons. It takes courage to leap. After all, it doesn’t always end well. But that moment when there is more hope than there is fear? It tastes like freedom.

So as the new school year begins, I’ll ask you…heck, I’ll double dog dare you! LEAP! Find something that makes your heart sing and take a chance.

Are you planning on leaping? Comment below to tell us what you are doing to throw yourself into a dream.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Beer Goggles, First Drafts, and Tattoo Nightmares

I love it when seeming unrelated things connect like paper dolls in my mind. Beer goggles (for those too innocent to know) are what people claim to have been wearing when they've had a few drinks too many and the Star Trek fan who never caught their eye before suddenly becomes HAWT and fascinating and all sorts of kissable.
So what would beer goggles have to do with a first draft of a manuscript? Lots, my friend. Lots. Creating words and worlds, chaos and conflict—it’s intoxicating. We come up for air enamored and hazy, buzzing enough that the lines between a good start and a good manuscript get blurry and sometimes disappear.
One of my current favorite shows is Tattoo Nightmares. It’s a reality show where people with awful tattoos come to three amazing artists to get cover-ups. The backstories? Fascinating. The finished products? Mind blowing. You can hardly see traces of the botched pieces they used to have. They each leave with a masterpiece of skin art.
Being a part of a critique group keeps me from beer goggling after a first draft. I am still the artist, but discussing my manuscript with other writers helps sober me up and transform a good beginning into a work that’s ready to show others.
So how about you? Ever fall in love with an awful first draft or get a terrible tattoo? Comment and tell us about it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Stars Fell Sideways Interview & Giveaway

It's Halloween, and since you stopped by, I have a treat for you. I interviewed Cassandra Marshall about her brand new book THE STARS FELL SIDEWAYS. Not only will you get the inside scoop on this author/freelance editor/lit. agency worker, but two commenters will be winning prizes. YAY! So ready, set, here we go...

What is your pitch for THE STARS FELL SIDEWAYS?
Alison Arroway takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’. She has to, or she won’t get paid. Alison is a stunt double for pampered teen actress Pomegranate and when the director takes the shoot to Portugal, Alison is anything but thrilled to be rooming with Pom. But getting to hang around teen hearthrob Erik? Now that’s a plus. 
Erik invites both girls on a sunset boat trip and Alison manages to have a decent time. Until the storm hits and the boat is shipwrecked on a small island, leaving Erik missing and the boat captain dead. 

In the morning light, Alison and Pom find themselves on the lost island of Atlantis. Only one problem: now that the girls know the secret of the island, the Atlanteans don’t want them to leave. They're stuck with corsets, full-skirted dresses, and the strange steam-driven contraptions that are just a way of life for the islanders.
When a plot by the ruthless army Captain to take over the island and declare himself General over all emerges, an underground group promises to return the girls to the mainland if they can help stop him. They'll go through a mountain, literally, to find the Book of Blue, a book that will explain how to make ‘the stars fall sideways' in order to save the day and earn their freedom.
THE STARS FELL SIDEWAYS, a YA Steampunkish fantasy, from MolliePup Press!
How would you explain steampunk to a reader who is unfamiliar with the term?
The basic gist of steampunk is imagining a world where mechanical development stopped in the Victorian age with steam-powered contraptions. There's also an undercurrent of questioning authority and asserting your independence. Aesthetically it's about Victorian garb--top hats, parasols, corsets, heeled shoes, etc--and decoratively it's about cogs and gears, wood paneling, rivets, hodgepodge construction, reusing the finite, etc.
Your main character goes on a sunset boat trip with a hottie actor. If you could go to sea with any actor, who would you choose?
Oh, wow... Um... ?? Hopefully one that knows how to make the boat go, because I have no idea! How about Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes? I feel like he'd know how things work, plus he's nice to look at!
If you could play any character from any book in the movie version, who would you play? Hermione Granger! I'd get to play with magic, Crookshanks, and I'd curl up with Neville Longbottom!
In addition to writing, you work for a literary agency and do some freelance editing. What are some of your tricks for balancing it all?
Scheduling, compartmentalizing, and I stay in a lot. :)
Where can we buy your book?
ISBN: 978-0988264502

Amazon | Createspace | Indiebound

ISBN: 978-0988264526
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Apple iBooks Diesel
Signed print copies can also be purchased from thestarsfellsideways.com!

Thanks, Cassandra! I hope you sell a bajillion copies.

And now for the giveaway: Cassandra is offering one first page critique (up to 250 words) and an e-copy of THE STARS FELL SIDEWAYS as prizes. To enter, leave a comment telling us who your favorite movie star is. Make sure I know how to email you in case your name is drawn! For an extra entry, tweet a link to this post with @LauraRenegar in it. I'll draw 2 winners (one for each prize) out of a hat after Halloween's midnight. Good luck!