Friday, December 21, 2012

Best of 2012

Hey, lovelies!!

So I've done something I've never done before--I kept a list of all the books I read in 2012. So some stats:
Books Read: 164
Young Adult: 96
Adult: 57
New Adult: 11

They ranged from paranormal (62) to dystopian (16), historical (5), retellings (16) and contemporary (14) and favorite books I reread (22)

But which ones really stood out? This year's top 10 are:

10. THE ROSE GARDEN This is an older book, but I was drawn in by the time-travel and historical aspects of it, and the beauty of the writing. It really stuck with me, a long time after I finished it, and there was something sweet and simple about it. Excellent quiet read.

9. TIME BETWEEN US What if the boy you love lives two thousand miles and twenty years away? This book was described as Time Traveler's Wife for teens, and I really have to agree. It didn't get a ton of buzz, but the bond between the main characters, and the way she had to save herself--I loved it.

8. UNRAVELING This book. Wow, this book. That this came in at 8 says something about the other books on this list. For weeks after reading this, I couldn't get it out of my head. There were sentences, a delicate turn of phrase that just stuck with me, and the scene where Janelle gets into Ben's head and sees exactly what he feels for her--*sigh*. I loved it. And the fact is, though partly predictable, the book was fresh and original and I loved it. :)

7. EASY A self-published title made my list, you guys. Because it was that. Damn. GOOD! (Tammara and Easy went on to a contract with a big house!). Anyway. The book is a romance, plain and simple. What's unique is that Lucas has some serious issues--ones that even I didn't see coming--and Jacqualine is finding her own feet. That Lucas lets her, even helps her, definetely helps the story. And the scene where he draws her for the first time? Holy hell, that's hot.

6. UNDER THE NEVER SKY There is nothing I didn't like about this book. Slightly predictable, but the world-building, the characters, the fact that it wasn't insta-love. The very feral Perry next to the quiet, gentle Aria--all of it added up to a gorgeous read. I can't wait for the sequel. :)

5. DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE Yes. I know. This was a book from 2011. But it was the second book I read of 2012, and it set the bar HIGH. Unique, original, with a savage loveliness that still catches me off guard when I'm daydreaming, it was flawless. I know some folks weren't a fan of the way the book seemed to be two different stories pasted together, but I didn't see it that way. It was one girl's story, that happened to be a bit more complex than it appeared at first glance. And I loved it. I'm looking forward to reading the sequel Christmas Eve. :)

4. ICED I am a huge fan of Karen Marie Moning and her Fever series, so when I heard about ICED, I was on cloud nine. And then I heard it was about Dani, and I was worried. And THEN I heard Barrons (and Mac) weren't gonna be in it and I almost lost interest.
And then I read it. And though, KMM didn't manage to replace Barrons (I don't think anyone can do that, and if you don't know what I'm talking about, go read the Fever series. RIGHT. NOW.) But she certainly did make me forget him for a while. Loved it.

My last three are actually tied. They were all amazing. SO:
 INCARNATE One word: Sam. In all seriousness--besides the phenomenal Sam, there was the dragons, and just the pure beauty of the writings, and the world Meadows created and...gah, I'm gonna sound like a crazy fangirl but DEAR GOD, GO READ THIS BOOK, IT'S AMMAAAAZZZZING.  

 THE RAVEN BOYS Maggie Stiefvater is a favorite--all of her books are--but this one. Just wow. The relationship between the boys, the complexity of it, completely overshadows Blue's role. And yet, she finds a place with them that makes me anxious to know more. It left me overwhelmed by the beauty, surprised by the story, and longing for more RIGHT NOW. And yet, Maggie managed to wrap it up with a cliffhanger that DIDN'T make me want to hurt someone. That's actually a little unsual. Good job, Maggie.

 SHADOW AND BONE So I should admit--I have a soft spot for Czarist Russia. And this was undeniably inspired by that. But wow--the Darkling, the Grisha's, the historical fantasy wove a world of beauty familiar and new and I LOVED IT. I couldn't decide if I wanted Alina to end up with the Darkling or not, and in the end, she makes her own choice about that, and I was thrilled to see her find her own strength. It was a standout book in a year of standout books.

So that's it, my dears. My favorite reads this year. What have you read that you loved? Any of my favorites, or something else completely? Talk to me in the comments!

Please note: The Rejects will be taking off until Jan 2 to relax, read, and enjoy our families. Happy holidays, and we'll see you next year! :)


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Publishing Auction for Sandy Hook Victims

There is an official fundraiser going on in the publishing industry to benefit families and victims of the Connecticut Sandy Hook Shooting. 

A friend of mine will be participating. Her details are below:

Author Christina Farley has offered a critique of the first 25 pages of a manuscript. The highest bidder will win the following package:
  • Critique of first 25 pages
  • Query critique
  • Open internationally

Opening Bid: $20
Please bid in increments of $5 The auction will start
Wed (Dec 19th) at 9 AM EST (6 AM EST)

The auction will end
Friday, Dec 21st at
Noon PM EST (9 AM



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wish List

            It’s almost Christmas. Soon we’ll see just how if we got anything on our wish list. Yeah we’ll be happy with everything, but wouldn’t it be great to get that one gift that we didn’t think was even remotely possible to get?

            You know, agents go through this all year round. They have a wish list, and they hope and hope that old Saint Nick might remember them from time to time and bring them that golden treasure. They want that original book to represent and bring to the masses.

            But that’s just it, isn’t it. It’s a wish list—not a reality one.

            Does this mean you can query your sci-fi novel to an agent that only represents romance? Not if you really want to get it published. We just need to write the story we’re compelled to write and don’t worry about if it’s original enough. If it’s a smart, fun, and addictive story (within the agents genre), then trust me, the agent will want it.  

…….just be sure the query doesn’t go on the naughty list.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Boundaries in a Virtual World.

So, today I've been thinking a lot about boundaries. Most of y'all know I'm a mom. I don't make a secret of that, or that I'm married to a dude named Mike. I'm pretty transparent, and also, it gives me something to talk about (because my babies are awesome!).

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll get random updates about housecleaning and kids mixed in with books and writing and #revisiontips. It's just part of my life.

But what about boundaries? I'm sure a lot of you heard about the attack on agent Pam van Hylckama. I didn't address this then other than a general, 'WTF, dude??' tweet.

But let's face it. There are crazy folk out there. In our industry, as nice and sunshine and roses as we like to think it is. So what do you do to protect yourself and your family while still being real and accessible?

Wait, N, this doesn't apply to us. We're Rejects--no one cares about us right now.

Okay, that's not true--WE CARE!! But I get the point. You aren't an agent, you aren't a publishing professional, you aren't an author with crazy fans (or haters) filling up your inbox. Your just an aspiring writer. Who cares if you tweet about your kids or post pictures from your babies daycare on Facebook?

Fun fact: I so rarely use my childrens names on facebook that my sister-in-law actually addressed a Christmas present to my youngest by her internet name. (Bug). Amusing, yes? But also, it means I'm doing what I want. Because sure, I have lots of family on Facebook. And I post pictures of my kids there.

But I have lots of writers there that I've never met, and probably never will. Some of them--Auzy and Liz, for example--I wouldn't care if they knew my kids names and fun stuff like that, but the fact is, I'm not comfortable sharing that kind of personal details with the general public. It's not need to know information.

Okay, but why can we know Mike's name. Don't you care about him?

Well, duh. But dude, he's an adult. He can take care of his own self.

That's my line--I don't share personal details about my kids, like names and where they go to school. Same goes for my nieces and nephews. Everyone else is fair game.

What boundaries do you have in the realm of social media? What aren't you willing to share?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Jumping on the Bandwagon

Okay, I'll admit it.

I've been a very bad girl.

I'm just now downloading and about to read Cassandra Clare's The City of Bones. My aunt and every writer around  has been saying--what's wrong with me? Why haven't I read this yet? I know, as a writer who tries to keep abreast of what's popular in children's publishing I've bypassed a book I should never of. In my defense, I did TRY to read this about three years ago, but alas the audiobook's voice completely turned me off. So much so that I got up to that FAMOUS club scene and shut the damn thing off. I tried SO hard, but the voice killed the story for me.

So Lesson 1) Choose your audiobook narrator carefully.

Lesson...well Lesson 1 was the only lesson I actually had.

Basically, now that the movie is coming out, I'm jumping on the bandwagon. Now, I know I'm not the only one doing so. Come on, ya'll. Raise your hands--I know I'm not the only one.

Is it really so wrong to jump on the bandwagon, especially if it helps us discover a great story? Would love your thoughts.



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

#Pitchwars: What I learned from being a mentor.

So today Brenda announced the teams and alternates. And most of the interwebs goes back to their lives while the mentors begins digging into their top picks.
But can we take a minute? Pull yourself away from the chocolate consolation prize and unfollowing mentors, and let's talk about what we've learned in the past week.

I was stunned by how good the majority of applications were. Sure there were a lot--which was also a little surprising, but I expected some to be not ready for querying. And for the vast majority, that wasn't true. There were some really talented people out there.

The excitement from the participants -you guys were amazing. Just so full of nerves and laughter and willingness to learn. It was so much fun connecting with y'all--and the dude who wrote that poem deserves a chocolate cake.

But how 'bout useful stuff, right?

  • Saying  'this isn't right for me' sucks almost as much as hearing it. I was told during the past two weeks that it's just a false platitude, and I'd like to address that--it's not. There were several applications that were good--query ready, nice premise, well written pages, consice pitch. But for whatever reason, it just wasn't my cup of tea. I hated saying that, knowing that it wasn't helpful. But there's something to learn here, y'all. It's that what you write--it won't be for everyone. And that's okay. What's not right for me, could be JUST right for someone else. (Point in fact--one of mine was a pick for another mentor.)
  • A form letter? It's not fun, but I totally understand it. I won't discuss numbers, but lets say this: the sheer amount of applications in some mentors folders rivaled the query numbers I've heard from agents. That's a lot of 'this is why I quit readings' (especially when you consider that each of those takes a good five-ten minutes). No one likes form rejections. But after writing my own personalized passes--and I was one of the mentors who did--I totally understand why agents use them. 
  • Genre. Oh my gracious. Little tough love, y'all. KNOW. YOUR. GENRE. Fiction isn't a genre. Thriller/Fantasy/Sci-fi is not a genre (it's three). Conceptual retelling of Abraham Lincoln's biography? IS. NOT. A GENRE. Look, when reading a query, and I got to the housekeeping and saw the genre that you assigned your book? If it was something crazy, off the wall that I'd never heard of? I passed. Because you should know enough about your genre, be widely read enough, to know what your book is. And none of those ARE. (Also, those are made up examples.)
  • Word count matters. Look, I get it. You have an EPIC and the amount of words that takes is...well...EPIC. But when I had my list narrowed down and I was trying to decide which to mentor, word count mattered. 353K is not reasonable. And just like too high is a red flag, so is too low. I beg of you--go find Jenn Laughran's blog and read her post on word count*. And then read the one on genre*. And then bookmark both. 
  • Sometimes, the choice comes down to not which one I like, or even love, but which one I think will gather agent interest. There were a lot of subs to love in this contest. Too many to take, obviously. And when it came time to weed out, I had to look at that. Again, hearing 'there isn't a market' from an agent might suck--and they might not even say that to you--but it's also true and something to be aware of. 
  • While there were a LOT of great subs, there were some standout applications that...well, need work on their query. It rambled, or told me what the book would teach me or what it was about without ever telling me the story. None of those things interested me. At all. All I want--all an agent WANTS--is a good story. Deliver that, and your golden. 

The best thing about Pitchwars, though? The community. I've connected with writers on Twitter who are so awesome and down to earth, people I am so excited to see succeed. Mentors and contestants alike, it's an amazing community to be in and I'm so glad that this has reaffirmed that for me. And no--not everyone got chosen for a team. Not everyone COULD. 
But if you connected with someone--ANYONE--or learned anything at all, even if it's just letting go and putting yourself out there, which is so hard to do--well, than you won. And that's by far the BEST thing about Pitchwars.

So huzzah, and congrats to mine and Liz's teams and come back soon--I think we're going to have a query workshop sometime in January. :)


*Jennifer Laughran's Word Count Dracula
**Jennifer Laughran's Big Ol' Genre Glossary

Monday, December 10, 2012

What's Happening In Our Corner of the Internet

Property of Elizabeth Prats--Crystal Milk, a character from her picture book.

Whelp! I'm taking a page from Kelly Hashaway's book and doing a bit of a Monday Mishmash of what's happening in the Rejects corner of the Internet.

Just as a reminder two of the rejects me (I'm Liz!) and Nazarea are mentors in the super amazing contest Pitch Wars! On Wednesday the 12th the authors we've chosen will be announced here. Get ready. A big hug and thank you to all who have subbed to us.

Finals! Tomorrow is my last final of the semester. One more class and then I begin my LAST semester of college. Scary, huh? Of course, I'll be getting a lovely winter break in between. Thank God!

Now, we all know the holidays are coming up. I'm planning a read through of my YA and then I'll start querying again in the new year, but I do have new picture books ready to enter the world! My first, but to be honest I'm quite proud. And just because I'm SO excited, here's my illustrations portfolio if you want to see some cool drawings!

Agency Stuff: Yeah, I have lots of agency reading to do over the break! Middle grade!

So what are your plans for the month of December and its oh-so-wonderful-holiday festivities? Oh and don't forget to check out Nazarea's awesome writer gift ideas list!



Friday, December 7, 2012

I wish you a Merry Christmas...

Okay, so I know not everyone celebrates Christmas. If you don' this post for your birthday/anniversary/Valentine's day?

Okay, so every year Mike (lovely husband) asks me what I want for Christmas. And every year I give him a blank look and ask for an agent. Which, understandably, leads to cursing and gnashing of teeth and general discontent. Then I scrap together a list, he goes shopping, and everyone is happy.

Guess what we just went through at the Andrews' house?

So I figured, let's take this question to Twitter--thank you, tweeps!--and find out, what exactly is a great writerly-type present? And!! Because writers come in all shapes, sizes (and budgets) I have a sliding scale for you.

Big Gifts! 
Obviously, a tool of the trade is a computer. (Unless your old school and like typewriters). I dug around a bit and my research lead me to the Microsoft Surface. Because it seems a bit perfect, has the versatility of a tablet and holy crap, did y'all see the commercial? Awesome-ness.


There are a lot of cons to chose from--local SCBWI conferences, conferences that specialize in romance, big ones in New York. They come in all shape, size and budget. And if you don't mind a bit of delayed gratification (you can't go ON Christmas, lovelies), it's a great option and good for networking.

Little Gifts!!
Okay, so your significant other can't dish out 300+. Understandable. Let's look at smaller things. 

Coffee Mugs-
Almost every writer I know likes hot beverages (COFFEE!!!) and who doesn't like an awesome mug to drink it out of? There are all kinds, of course, but I'm a hardcore Game of Thrones fan, and this one CHANGES COLORS!! 

Craft Books-
Everybody has their favorites, and mine is On Writing by Stephen King. It actually made my list this year, because as much as I adore it, I don't have it on my shelves. There are plenty of others, so peruse your local bookstore or check out the resource page of Writer' Or ask writerly friends on twitter which ones they recommend! :)

Grammar Resource-
If it's your forte or not, a grammar book can't hurt. Especially when your deep in edits and revisions. A twitter friend suggested Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Guide to Writing For Students

A trade publication (Writers Digest, Romantic Writer's Report, Publisher's Marketplace) or even memberships to YAlitchat or SCBWI are something that can go a long way and last all year.

A word processing app for your phone is great for writers on the go (ME!) but they tend to be a little more expensive than your average app. Worth every penny, though. (I use Pages on my iPhone and LOVE IT!)

and the stocking stuffers (if you don't do stockings...well, I'm sorry. We do and I love them. :)

Gift cards--to buy books or music for their iPods!

Office Supplies--post-it's, pretty pens, highlighters, or just a giftcard to go get your own, but handy things to have when it's time to edit/revise and perfect to shove into a stocking.

Godiva Chocolate--um, you are a writer. Rejection is part of the game. Chocolate makes rejection better. Simple math.

Coffee--I think we went over this already. :)

Okay, so there you have it--a range  of gifts for the writerly folk in your life--feel free to print this and post it on the fridge, bathrrom mirror, shower door, windshield or where ever else it's most likely to be noticed by your significant other. And add other ideas in the comments, please!

Happy shopping!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pitchwar AGENTS! :)

Pitch Wars ... the agents!

Are you ready for this? We have 16 incredible agents vying for our Pitch Wars team manuscripts. We're so excited to see what pitches they fall in love with, and what teams will win the coveted Pitch Wars Most Requested Manuscript title. 

And, in no particular order, here are the agents...

Louise is seeking teen Sci-Fi and Young Adult horror.  She's also on the hunt for deep, dark contemporary YA and select Middle Grade fiction with a literary feel--it must be realistic and thought provoking and the characters must be authentic and original. Louise loves horror and romance, especially Regency and Victorian.

Jessica Sinsheimer
Twitter: @jsinsheim 

Jessica is seeking Literary, Women's, Middle Grade, and Young Adult Fiction.


Twitter: @Natalie_Lakosil 

Natalie is looking for commercial fiction, with an emphasis in children’s literature (from picture book-teen), romance (contemporary, paranormal and historical), and upmarket women’s fiction. Specific likes include historical, multi-cultural, paranormal, sci-fi/fantasy, gritty, thrilling and darker contemporary novels, and middle grade with heart. 

Twitter: @BookaliciousPam

Pam represents young adult and middle grade children’s book authors, and adult romance authors. 

Twitter: @bluedragonfly81 

Jordy is on the look out for Romance (contemporary, historical/Regency, and paranormal). YA contemporary/historical or dystopian, sci-fi/fantasy with romance elements. She's also open to YA GLBT within those genres. She'd love to see unique, well-developed plots featuring time travel, competitions, or travel.

Twitter: @andreasomberg 

Andrea's looking for the following categories: Fiction; literary, commercial, womens fiction, romance, thrillers, mystery, paranormal, fantasy, science fiction, young adult, middle grade.

Jennifer Mishler
Twitter: @literarycounsel 

Jennifer is seeking Young Adult Fantasy, Young Adult Contemporary, Young Adult Literary, and Young Adult Historical. 

Suzie Townsend
New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc.
Twitter: @sztownsend81 

Suzie represents adult and children's fiction. In adult, she's specifically looking for romance (historical and paranormal), and fantasy (urban fantasy, science fiction, steampunk, epic fantasy). In Childrens' she loves YA (all subgenres) and is dying to find great Middle Grade projects (especially something akin to the recent movie SUPER 8).


Victoria Marini
Gelfman Schneider Literary Agents, Inc. 

Victoria is looking for literary fiction, commercial fiction, pop-culture non-fiction, and young adult. She is very interested in acquiring engaging Literary fiction and mysteries / suspense, commercial women's fiction (romantic suspense, sci-fi, fantasy), and Young Adult (contemporary, sci-fi/fantasy, thriller and horror ).

Kerry is looking for Young Adult and Middle-Grade fiction, both commercial and literary. She tends to shy away from werewolves, zombies, faeries, and the like, but she’ll read anything with a fresh voice and compelling characters. She is particularly keen on contemporary YA, quirky MG, books with a strong cinematic element.  

Drea is currently seeking: fiction, memoir, crime, non-fiction and YA. Her roster consists of British, American, and Canadian clients. International talent is welcome. 

Katie Shea

Katie specializes in fiction and memoir, especially women’s fiction and commercial-scale literary fiction, and realistic YA.  She is most interested in coming-of-age stories and stories of unique relationships.

 Elise Capron

Elise is interested in serious character-driven literary fiction, well-written narrative nonfiction, and short story collections. (Note: She is not interested in Fantasy, young-adult/middle-grade, picture books, romance, and sci-fi.) She aims to work with writers who have a realistic sense of the market and their audience.

Jodell is interested in YA, MG (especially funny) , fiction and nonfiction, book proposals, and picture books. She will also coach writers wanting to self publish.  She simply loves a well-paced story that moves her between joy and tears.

Brittany and Michelle are teaming up to look for Adult, YA, and MG manuscripts. 

 Michelle Johnson
Twitter: @MJsRetweet 

Michelle’s published one novel, The Footloose Killer, and edited several others for publishing houses and private clients. She also is a Script/Story consultant on an independent film in Halifax, NS, Canada, and enjoys working closely with writers to help them develop their voice and craft.

Brittany Howard
Twitter: @brittanydhoward

When reading, Brittany  loves to be introduced to new and interesting people and places. She looks for strong voice, good storytelling, and fascinating relationships between characters—romantic or otherwise. More than anything, she loves when a book surprises her.

There's just one more day to get your applications in for Pitch Wars. Make sure to check out this post here to get all the details.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Being Picky

            Sometimes I wonder if I’m too picky when it comes to books. I’d like to say that I’m very commercial with my tastes, but honestly that just means that I prefer my entertainment to be highly polished.

            My favorite novels have almost always been in the young adult section (and notice I didn’t say genre). The reason I’ve liked these novels is because the stories usually have to be tight and extremely entertaining for a teen to even read it.

My favorite novels for young adults have been:

1.    The Harry Potter series.

2.    The Warrior Heir.

3.    The Mortal Instruments trilogy.

4.    Eragon, and its sequel Eldest.

5.    Wicked Lovely, and its sequel Radiant Shadows. (though I did like the others)

6.    Vampire Academy series, including Bloodlines

7.    Tithe

8.    The Grimm Legacy.

9.    I Hunt Killers.

            Lately though, I’ve been having difficulties in finding lots of novels that I adore. The last two novels that I loved, I’ve posted a book review on them for all my fellow rejects. And trust me that’s a really small number compared the how many I’ve picked up and tried to read.

            So here are my questions for everyone. Has anyone else noticed romance has become a part of the main synopsis for too many novels even when they’re not considered a paranormal/urban fantasy romance (to be clear, all novels should have some romance in it)? Are any of you having issues finding world entrancing novels, for either guys or girls? And lastly, am I being too picky?