Wednesday, June 30, 2010

5-Minute Book Club

This month we have chosen Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. Here is Lauren's web-site which has some great character profiles.

What if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: the world’s most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.

Instead, it turns out to be her last. Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.


It’s hard to sit down and think about where to start when giving my two cents for Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. So many different, enjoyable aspects weave into this story, it’s hard to just narrow it down to my favorite points. For me, it was one of those books where I closed it and sat in deep contemplation for a solid 20 minutes, reflecting. The change in the main character in just seven eye-opening days is beautifully written with perfect transition—doesn’t happen too fast, doesn’t happen too slow—and there’s an interesting twist with the Five Stages of Grief coming from the dead main character’s perspective, rather than those around her. Each day brings something very new and shows little repetition. It is an amazing book and a good reminder of what really matters. Highly recommended!


Based on some of the summaries I read beforehand, I wasn't sure I was going to like Before I Fall. A girl who dies and repeats the last day of her life 7 times, like a YA Groundhog Day? Really?

All I can say This book is so much more than that. Instead of doing the stereotypical Mean Girl thing, Before I Fall takes those popular, bitchy characters and digs deep. There is nary a cardboard cutout in sight here. We actually get to experience all the endearing qualities of the characters as well as the bad, and the bonds of friendship between them. Honestly, I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say Oliver is a master of characterization.

Her prose is also quite lovely in spots, and for me, Before I Fall is a fascinating look at how even small changes in the way you treat other people can trigger a chain reaction, and how it's never too late to be a better person. If you like books about bullies, cliques, or even thought-provoking contemporary YA in general, do not wait---run and pick up your copy NOW.


I have to admit, I was really unsure of my feelings towards this book during the first hundred pages. Oliver proved to be a fantastic writer, but I never related to girls like Sam and her clique when I was in high school. However, when Sam begins reliving her days over and over, the transformation of her character and outlook on life rounds her as an individual so perfectly. Her growth made me really think as a reader, especially when instead of coming to hate her friends who were never the best people on the planet, she continues to love them and learns to love the ones she's hurt and despised. Sam's journey is emotional and moving. The love interest is to die for. Sam may have wanted the repetition of her last day to end, but I sure as hell didn't.


First off, I loved the cover and since I tend to be very visual, this is a big plus in buying a book. Obviously I knew the MC was going to die and I wondered what the point would be in reading it, if I already know the ending before I got invested in it. But it was chosen as a book club pick so I bought it and read it. The beginning sucked me in before I ever got to chapter one, and then I was entranced by the voice. Next, I was impressed with the group of friends which were very round characters. Finally, I couldn't wait to see how Sam would grow as a character. And she didn't disappoint me.

And introducing Melissa, our guest blogger.

For me, this book was about voice. Sam was real and honest. I enjoyed seeing the world through her eyes—especially the way the view changed as Sam did. The one constant through the book was her relationships with her best friends. No matter what happened, they were there for each other. What I admire most is the way Lauren Oliver drew the story out—each day digging deeper into the past. Each day—even though it was the same day—was a surprise. I don’t think you can read this book without being affected in some way.

Instead of announcing next month's book selection, Kath is announcing an awesome contest:

Win Kath’s Canadian Query Survival Kit

Ha! I thought putting the word “query” in there would get your attention. I’m diabolical, that way.

But, as promised, it’s Canada Day and I want to give stuff away.

To play: Leave a comment letting GotYA know which YA book (old, recent, or upcoming) you’d like to see us tackle for book club AND (cause you knew it wouldn’t be that easy) make sure your comment contains the word “eh”.

One comment leaver will win a prize pack consisting of:

Messing Around (CD) by Molly Johnson: Canadian’s jazzy songstress. Light a few candles and pop this CD in when you need to de-stress from querying. Yer Favourites (2 CDs) by The Tragically Hip: Need something to get you fired up? Not only are The Hip the ultimate Canadian band but they are the perfect band to give you a shot of query courage and to dance around to when you finally get that agent call. 2 buttons (“Books Kick Ass!” & “I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person”): Not strictly Canadian but bought at a Canadian store. 1 pocket-sized edition of Stephanie's Ponytail by Robert Munsch: To remind you that it’s good to be an individual.

Contest closes Friday, July 9th at midnight AST and is open to residents of the US and Canada only (sorry elsewhere guys!).

Rejections: When You Miss It By That Much

Have you ever had an agent email you and tell you things like "don't sign with anyone else before contacting me" or "I am crazy in love with the premise", but are ultimately rejected anyway? To me personally, it's those rejections that hurt the most. They get you all pumped up, and you think maybe this is it! Well, if this is happened to you, you are not alone. It happens to the best of us, believe me, but there is good news in those rejections. It means you're close!!! When an agent takes time out to write a one page critique of your work it just means they cared enough about the story to give you detailed feedback, which is awesome because it means you held their interest.

Rejections sometimes make you want to pull your hair out or maybe even quit writing all together, but don't let them get you down. We all get them. It's just apart of the journey to publication. Just think, even Stephanie Meyer sent 13 queries and only got one yes (aren't you glad Jodi Reamer your intern didn't know to instantly reject an over-the-limit YA manuscript) and Becca Fitzpatrick posted on her blog it took her five years to get Hush Hush agented. Keep hope my friend, persistence pays off, just ask any published author.

Share with us your journey in the comments section below. We writers have to stick together!!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wherein I Take The Fun Out Of Fantasizing

I’m a planner. I outline my books, I schedule my vacations, and I already know what I’m going to with my advance when (not if) I get an agent and sell my book.

Kristin Nelson’s blog really helped me out with this. She has three -make that four- posts that you should be reading on the topic.

First, and most recently, advances are hard to predict.
Second, you don't get it all at once.
You'll need to pay taxes on it at some point.

So here's my scenario. Let's say that I get an advance of 18K. Kristin Nelson threw out 25K, but I suspect those few six-figure deals skew the average, since she listed the usual range as lower. I'd be curious to see the median advance for each of those genres...

Back to the 18K. Say I get it in three parts. Now I'm down to chunks of 6K. Taxes will vary depending on your other income, and also on how big your advance is (Consult a professional!). But I think just for the purposes of idle daydreaming, witholding a third is a nice even chunk, and would end up being more than enough for me. So that takes me down to three chunks of 4K.

I think I'd set aside half of that to spend on writing related stuff - website, going to a conference, buying goodies to give away on the blog for promotion, a Nook...whatever.

This leaves me with 2K.

I'd like to tell you that I'd take my girls to Disneyland, or that I'd do something fun, but really, I'd pop that into the bank. It's nice to have an emergency slush fund because life happens. Car breaks, your kid goes to the ER, or maybe a family member picks a destination wedding and suddenly you have to spend a lot of cash or risk being branded as cheap and unsupportive :)

Because of all this, Kristin's fourth post makes a lot of sense. Don't quit your day job. Money matters - especially if you run out of it.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Got Eh?

Oh Canada! Home to the mighty beaver where we all dwell in igloos and travel by dogsled and the really hawt guys sport Chad Kroeger hair.

Not quite. (For the record, I’ve only ever dated one guy sporting a Kroeger cut and that was looooong before Nickelback. And, yes, I’m still vaguely embarrassed.)

We’re the nation of Margaret Atwood and The Tragically Hip. Of Degrassi, the Coybow Junkies, and Douglas Coupland. That Courtney Summers chick who hates werewolves? Totally Canadian.

We should be super confident. We should swagger and strut. But, sometimes, that can be a little hard. Especially when it feels like New York is the center of our universe and we can’t get there without a passport.

So let’s get our eh on.

I, GotYA’s resident “eh” sayer, am going to celebrate Canada Day in the best way I know how: I’m going to talk about books written by Canadian authors, then I’m going to give you stuff. Today I’ll recommend one great YA title (written by a Canadian) you might have missed. On Thursday, our book club will end with a contest for a Canadian musical prize pack.

With me so far?

On to part one!


A few weeks ago, someone started a thread on Absolute Write asking members what they’d like to see in urban fantasy. As someone with a book all about werewolves, these threads fill me with dread. Nevertheless, I clicked the link and was pleasantly surprised. There was some good, earnest discussion going on. And one name kept popping up.

Charles de Lint.

Three times in twenty-six posts (that’s 11%, if my shoddy math skills are right) people indicated that they wanted more urban fantasy* the way this guy was writing it and yet, even when I walk into my local Canadian bookstore, there only ever seems to be two or three titles by him on the shelves.

And that’s kind of tragic.

So I’m going to point you all to one of his YA titles and I’m not going to describe it because trying to describe Newford (the fictional city in which a great many of de Lint’s books take place) is a bit like trying to describe something you catch sight of out of the corner of your eye in those few minutes between wake and sleep.

Instead, I’m just going to leave you with the write up on the back of the book. See you all again on Thursday!

The Blue Girl

From the back of the book:

Seventeen-year-old Imogene’s tough, rebellious nature has caused her more harm than good—so when her family moves to Newford, she decides to reinvent herself. She won’t lose her punk/thrift-shop look, but she’ll try to avoid the gangs, work a little harder at school, and maybe even stay out of trouble for a change.

But trouble shows up anyway. Imogene quickly catches the eye of Redding’s bullies, as well as the school’s resident teenage ghost. Then she gets on the wrong side of a gang of malicious fairies. When her old imaginary childhood friend, Pelly, actually manifests, Imogene realizes that the impossible is all too real. And it’s dangerous.

(The Blue Girl was published by Firebird in 2006)

* I've heard that Charles de Lint doesn't really consider his books urban fantasy. Sorry!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Flashback Friday, Library Days

Brace yourself, guys. I have some really, really bad news. Maybe you should sit down. What? You're already sitting down. Okay.

GotYA blogger Krista has been KIDNAPPED! The dastardly culprits? The AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION! Yes! All of them! They are, as it turns out, criminal masterminds on par with the Hamburglar.

Okay. Alright. I made all of that up.

Krista is, however, at the American Library Association's 2010 Annual Conference. Therefore, you guys are stuck with me for this week's Flashback Friday. Krista will fill you in on all the glorious ALA10 details when she gets a chance.

In honor of the ALA, this week's Flashback Friday is all about libraries. Is there a particular library you've loved more than all the others? A librarian who just plain rocked? A late fee that made you cringe?

Share your favorite library tidbits and tales in the comments.

~ My Library Story ~

Growing up on the east coast of Canada, we picked up a lot of television stations from Maine. One station frequently ran a PSA for a library (I'm guessing it was Bangor) that I loved. In it, a woman turns a corner in a library and lets out a bloodcurdling scream. The camera pans out to show poor Stephen King who then says something or other about books and libraries and how they need your support.

It's been years since I've seen that PSA and I still remember it with a grin. Stephen King supported libraries therefore libraries were even more important than I already believed. Such was the logic in my pre-teen brain.

~ Kathleen


Josin has mad YouTube skills. She found the PSA for me and totally made my day!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Victoria Schwab Sits Down with Guest Blogger Melissa Hill

Today's interview with Victoria Schwab kicks off the first post in a three month guest slot from Melissa Hill, winner of GotYA's Do the Write Thing for Nashville auction item. Look for more great posts from Melissa in July and August.


Victoria Schwab is the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Because of this, she has been known to say "tom-ah-toes", "like", and "y'all". She also tells stories.

Your debut, THE NEAR WITCH is scheduled to be released next summer. Can you tell us about the story?

- There’s an old ghost story in the town of Near. It tells of a witch that lived on the edge of the village, and gobbled up all the darkness, and sang the hills to sleep, and loved the children almost as much as the garden she kept beside her house.
Sixteen-year-old Lexi Harris has heard the stories her entire life. Everyone loves to tell the story, but everyone knows a different ending. Some say that the Near Witch blew away on a gust of wind. Others tell of darker things. Of murders and curses and buried bones. To Lexi, they’ve always been stories, nothing more. But when a strange and silent boy walks into the village of Near, and the wind begins to lure children from their beds at night, she starts to wonder if there’s any truth in them. Could the Near Witch be more than a ghost story?

When writing THE NEAR WITCH, was there a character that surprised you?

-NW actually went through a TON of revision (when it sold it was just this skinny little fairy tale) and over the course of those edits almost every one of my characters really surprised me. It's been an adventure getting to know them.

There is a lot of information about querying agents. Can you talk about what happens once you get to “yes”?

-When you say "yes", you eat a cupcake. It's mandatory. Then, you generally revise for your agent, tighten the book up, and send it out on submission!

How do you deal with the waiting game? Waiting to hear from agents? Waiting to hear from publishers? Waiting for your novel to debut?

-I don't deal well. Anyone who has followed me online, via blog or twitter, knows that I am HORRIBLE at waiting. Like, child-throwing-tantrum awful. I try to distract myself, but nothing makes it better. And there's A LOT of waiting. AND, what I've found is that news you're waiting on never comes while you're waiting. It waits until you FINALLY manage to distract yourself.

What are you working on now?

-Right now I'm finishing up the very last edits on THE NEAR WITCH, and working on the first draft of what will hopefully be the book to hit shelves after NW. I'm not allowed to say anything about it YET :p

What authors/books influenced you the most?

-Oh, HARD question. I would say, at the moment: Brothers Grimm (fairy tale influence), Neil Gaiman (all-around brilliant), Cassandra Clare (for her incredible sense of pacing), and Kristin Cashore (for her world-building).

Do you have any advice for the aspiring author?

-Finish the book. You'll hit this place, normally, where you kind of slow, or another shiny new idea distracts you, and you'll want to wander off. DON'T DO IT. Finish the book.

What is the most recent book you’ve read that you couldn’t put down

-INFINITE DAYS by Rebecca Maizel. It comes out this August, and I LOVE IT. I almost never re-read books because I have SO many books to read, but I'm thinking of re-reading this one soon.

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not writing?

Eat chocolate, and exercise. The two don't seem to go together, but they go together VERY well. Namely I eat chocolate, and then I exercise. Sometimes I mix it up and exercise first.

You’ve worked a lot different jobs—caterer, personal chef, doggy daycare, etc. What was your favorite? Do you find inspiration from them now as a writer?

-It's going to sound wrong, but I draw inspiration from wanting to get OUT of those jobs. Writing is my dream job. The worst jobs I've had turned into motivation to hone my writing and get closer to publication. The best jobs I've had were fun and yes, sometimes inspired my work. The thing that most often inspires me is just watching and listening, when I'm on a walk, or working, or sitting on a bench somewhere.

On your blog, you have an awesome chocolate chip cookie recipe. Any other chocolate indulgence recipes you’d like to share?

-One of my favorite chocolate treats is SO easy. You take a box devil's food cake mix, and add two eggs, 1/2 cup oil, and choco. chips, and bake at 350 for about 8-10 minutes. Chocolate cake cookies. SO GOOD.

Thanks Victoria! Can’t wait to read THE NEAR WITCH (August 2011 by Disney Hyperion). You can find Victoria at

Monday, June 21, 2010

Emotions of the writing process

What emotions do you see in this cartoon? Someone jacked up on caffeine? A person in the midst of writer's block? A writer finishing a manuscript? Stress from a deadline not being met? The picture comes from here and it is supposed to be a contented writer.

I'm not going to blog about that article, I just loved the cartoon. What I want to blog about today are the emotions that go along with writing because this is a very emotional business. Here are some thoughts: if I could only finish this manuscript, if I could only finish these revisions, if I could only get requests, if I could only get an agent, if I could only go on sub, if I could only get a deal, if I could only finish these editor revisions, if I could only like my cover, if I could only get on the shelf, if I could only sell enough books to earn my advance, if I could only write another starts over, minus finding the agent, hopefully.

It never ends. Ever. Unless one decides to stop writing. Even if one becomes the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, he still has to come up with new ideas and write more books. Some pressures and "if onlys" go away or change into other "if onlys" and new pressures, but it is an ongoing cycle.

Writing suits me. Being an only child, I had to have an active imagination to keep myself company, plus I've always lived in a fantasy world of one type or another. The entire publishing industry fascinates me and I'm enjoying every step and each new thing I learn. There are times I just want to give up. Times I look at my wips and hate them, or am tired of the characters. There are times I'm discouraged, times I'm happy and times I'm just blah. But I continue on because writing is an outlet for my creativity and a way to stretch my mind. And I have a reason to consume massive amounts of chocolate.

What emotions do you feel during the writing process? Do you ever want to burn your manuscript? Let us know how you feel and I wish you the best of luck in your own writing journey.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Flashback Friday: Summer Vacations


Welcome to Week Ten of our fabulous segment Flashback Fridays where the old and new collide on everything from books to movies to first loves to favorite vacations.

This week we're flashingbacking to those fabulous summer vacations--you know, the ones you still remember to this day. Maybe they took you to wild and exotic locations, maybe they helped you to conquer fears like going on a rollercoaster or parasailing at the beach, or maybe they resembled something out of the Grizzwald's vacation to Wally World(sure hope none of you had a dead relative strapped to the luggage rack of the Family Truckster!).

But the vacations of your teenage years are probably most memorable because they held heart racing, gut wrenching first loves--I may or may not be able to still remember the guy's name I met in Panama City Summer of 94....eesh!
One of the best "summer vacation books" has to be The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. It's the first summer best friends, Lena, Carmen, Tibby, and Bridget are separated as each ventures off on different summer plans--Lena to Greece to visit her grandparents(enter hunky Greek god), Bridget goes to soccer camp in Mexico and plays on and off the field with her enter hunky, young soccer mentor. While Carmen visits her dad in South Carolina and also manages to find a hunky soon to be step-brother. And then Tibby...well, she really doesn't have an enter hunky dude in the first book. She stays at home, works on a film, and befriends a young, dying girl.

While time seemed to stand still in Stoneybrook and the members of the Baby-Sitters Club stayed in 8th grade long enough to qualify for Social Security, they did manage to take some AWESOME summer vacations. Who could forget their memorable turn as counselors as Camp Mohawk? But seriously, Ann M, could we have found a better name less offensive to Native Americans? Why not "camp runs with babysitters"? Then there was summer they all went to Sea City on the Jersey Shore--of course that would be pre-Snookie and the Situation drunken Jersey Shore. As sugary-sweet G rated as the BSC was, I can't imagine Claudia and Stacy getting in bar fight, or one of the Barrett kids almost drowning because Logan Bruno had stopped watching them to go lift weights and tan. Speaking of Logan, doesn't he kinda look like a Zach Morris rip-off in this cover?

So what are your favorite summer vacation reads?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Direct From All Points of the Blogosphere and Twittersphere to GotYA: Elana Johnson!

You’ve seen her on Query Tracker! You’ve seen her on The League of Extraordinary Writers! You’ve seen her on What Writers Read, her personal blog, and Twitter! Now, for the first time ever, here she is on GotYA—Elana Johnson everybody!

First, we must congratulate and offer virtual Oreos and bacon to Elana on the sale of her debut novel, CONTROL ISSUES, which will be published by Simon Pulse in the summer of next year.

From Elana’s blog:
In a world where Thinkers brainwash the population and Rules aren't meant to be broken, fifteen-year-old Violet Schoenfeld shatters them to pieces.

When did Violet start “talking” to you about her story, and how long did it take to complete your first draft?

I spewed Violet out violently. And she used to be named Vivian, but after a heated discussion with my crit group, she got a new name. So yeah. 17 days to get her story out. I wrote a lot. Needless to say, my husband was less than thrilled…

Is CONTROL ISSUES your first novel?

It’s my debut novel, but it is not the first novel I wrote. Or queried. It’s the third novel I wrote and the second I queried.

My novel journey looks like this:
Novel 1: wrote and queried. FAIL.
Novel 2: just for practice. Don’t ask, don’t tell policy… (FAIL)
Novel 3: Control Issues. Wrote and queried. Success!
Novel 4: just for practice. (FAIL)
Novel 5: just for practice. (FAIL)
Novel 6: just for practice. (FAIL)
Novel 7: titled ELEMENTAL HUNGER. Actually salvaged—somewhat. Maybe success?
Novel 8: just for practice. (FAIL)
Novel 9: just for practice. (FAIL)
Novel 10: just for practice. (FAIL)
Novel 11: just for practice. (FAIL)
Novel 12: just for practice. (FAIL)
Novel 13: my WIP. Hopefully not just for practice, but we shall see.

And I wrote most of these in the last two years, while I was querying my first failed novel and then Control Issues. I’ve written very little since last August, and recently started my WIP—novel 13—over again (for the second time) last month.

Yeah, I’ve written a lot of crap.

Without spoilers of course, was there a particular scene in CONTROL ISSUES that was your favorite to write?

Definitely. Vi is a bit on the snarky side, and it was fun to write her in every way. I do have a few faves of mine, one in particular where Vi gets what she wants without using any control at all. It’s just a female/male thing. *grins*

You’ve written From The Query To The Call, a guide to writing a query letter, available on  Can you tell us little about From The Query To The Call and what led you to write it? How did this prepare you for your own journey? Any surprises, or smooth sailing?

I started writing for the QueryTracker blog in January 2009. I’d already queried one book, and felt like I had a really good system down for writing a query letter. So I wrote some blog posts for the QTblog on that topic. And things sort of spiraled from there. I basically just took everything I’d learned about query letters, the query process, sending submissions, doing revisions and talking to agents, and put it together into one book.

So I’d already journeyed down the path once. And I was doing it again when I wrote the ebook. No real surprises, but I can’t say it was smooth sailing either. Just more to learn, always more to learn.

Dystopian novels—In your opinion what’s the draw for readers who flock to them? What makes them so intriguing?

Dude, I just blogged about this on The League of Extraordinary Writers! I really think dystopian novels are so intriguing because they make you think, help you examine your life, your world, and consider what you would do in those almost-too-real situations. For young adults, I think they provide a safe environment to discuss things that are controversial, and decide what’s happening in our world now that could lead to what’s written on the page.

How do you take on revisions? Break them down into small bites? Or tackle and swallow in one big gulp?

Sections, baby. Always sections. I print and read first. Big-picture stuff on post-it notes. Then I work in 100-page sections, which breaks my book down into thirds. I work from big to small, paper to computer. No big gulps here. Small steps.

Do you outline, or are you a pantster?

Pantser, all the way. It’s fun at first, but exhausting after the first draft. So much word vomit.

Which writers have influenced your own writing?

I’m not sure I can pinpoint just one or two authors. I like reading things that are fresh and new and break all the rules. So anyone who can do that, influences me. I know it when I read it, but I’m not sure I try to make mine like theirs. Does that make sense? (Probably not.)

Favorite books: SKIN HUNGER by Kathleen Duey, THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins, THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan, PERFECT CHEMISTRY by Simone Elkeles. Anything by John Green or Scott Westerfeld or Elizabeth Scott. And of course, THE GIVER by Lois Lowry and THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX by Mary E. Pearson.

Best piece of advice for aspiring authors:

Finish strong. It doesn’t matter how. Or when. Just make sure you finish strong.

What’s the key to successful blogging?

Giving more than you get.

Any tips for networking?

1. Don’t try to be someone else. They’re not you, and you’re not them. Be yourself.
2. Don’t try to do everything. Try twitter or facebook or blogging. Choose the one you like best, that you think will bring you the best results, and DO that one. Really DO it.

Have you tried the DQ Oreo Blizzard Oreo’s? How about the Strawberry Milkshake Oreo’s? How about bacon wrapped Oreo’s?

No, no, and no! I so need to though. I enjoy all things Oreo and bacon.

Thanks to Elana for taking the time to talk with GotYA.  We're all looking forward to reading CONTROL ISSUES!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


From: Rejection-YES! in collaboration with Query-YES! (a division of T. H. Mafi, Inc.)
Subject: FWD: Fwd: RE: re: Re: Rejection-YES!


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  1. Try new things. Maybe use an endearment you’d normally feel too shy to employ? Agents: Insecurity is not attractive. Writers are attracted to confidence. Don’t be afraid to say what you’re really feeling. (Examples: Snickerdoodle, Snookie, The Situation, or Spider-monkey.) Maybe even include a picture of yourself. Do something very out of the ordinary and try something new with your writer. Spontaneity breeds longevity.
  1. Talk to each other about what you want. If you want more action-adventure, tell the writer. If you want more mystery and fantasy, tell the writer. If you want to spend more time reading the kissy-kissy scenes, then tell them that, too. Spend some time really talking about what you like and want, and learning about what the writer likes and wants.
  1. Relax together. How much time do you spend running around doing things or working on somethingelse? How much quality time do spend with your query-letters, where you actually read each and every word? If you have kids, get a babysitter. Turn off the phone, close your bedroom door, and just let the stress and demands go for a while. (They’ll still be there later!) A great way to read query-letters is while relaxing in a hot tub or a nice bath (just put your laptop in a Ziploc bag!). Your new, calm, tranquil self will translate into an improved rejection letter, and writers will love you for it!
  1. Try something new in the bedroom. Start small if you need to. Change things up just a little bit, then build on that as much as you want. Maybe move your desk closer to the window? Maybe build a newdesk? Maybe buy a new lamp? Whatever you decide to do, be sure to talk about it with your writer so you can both share what you like, or anything you might not be comfortable with. Maybe employ a code word incase one of you gets uncomfortable with the new arrangement?? It helps considerably if you’re both on the same page.
  1. Don’t let yourself go. Remember when you used to write those fancy blog posts or tweet those query status updates to catch your writer’s eye or turn his/her/it’s head? Remember when you used to show up in the AbsoluteWrite forums and answer writers’ questions? Remember when you used to call writers and offer them representation all the time?? You don’t have to stop now just because you’re a serious, deal-making agent! Try all those things that you used to do, and learn some new moves as well! Get your groove back!!
  1. Play games together. There are lots of contests and even intellectual games you can play together. You can create your own, purchase something else, or use ideas from other people. You can even make up your own rules with fun props! Props are the key!! (Examples: flour, books, mugs, granola bars, long-stemmed roses.)
  1. Use your words. The way you talk to your writer can be a fantastic way to spice up your rejection-relationship! Instead of nagging or complaining, try complimenting and admiring. Tell them what you love about them, instead of pointing out all the little things that drive you crazy. What you focus on will expand, so focus on the things you want more of!
These are just a few ideas to get you started. But as you’ve undoubtedly deduced, spicing up your rejection-relationship does not have to be complicated and difficult. Once you try a few things, you’ll probably find that not only is it easy, but it’s also fun and enjoyable. So be prepared to make all your agent-friends wildly jealous of your new rejection-relationships!!


Rejection-YES! is about saying NO to the rest!!

Rejection-YES! is a sister company of Query-YES! Copyright © 2010

Query-YES! T. H. Mafi, Inc. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, all materials on these pages are copyrighted by Query-YES! T. H. Mafi, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of these pages, either text or image may be used for any purpose other than personal use. Therefore, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise, for reasons other than personal use, is strictly prohibited without prior written permission. 
We'll hunt you down. We're not even joking a little bit.   

Query-YES! is the only way to guarantee SUCCESS! 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

We Have a Winner!!!

So, the fabulous Marilee Brothers gave the equally fabulous opportunity to name a character after a lucky contest winner. Well guess what? WE HAVE A WINNER!!

ANGELA ACKERMAN....come on down! You've just won a chance on the Price Is, wait,'ve just won the right to have your name immortalized in a book!!!

And Angela, Marilee needs to know if you're going to be on the Jedi side or go to the Dark Side of the know, are you good or bad? OR, does she get to play a Jedi mind trick and choose herself....Hmm.....

Friday, June 11, 2010

Flasback Friday - You Tell Us

Krista's enjoying some much deserved time in the sun. Your regularly scheduled Flashback Friday programming will return next week.

In the meantime, enjoy the above clip from the queen of flashback movies: Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion. And, if you're so inclined, answer the following question in the comments:

What's your high school reunion fantasy?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

5-Minute Book Club

This month the book we have chosen in, If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Here is her web-site with some awesome trailers that will make you want to read it, if our blurbs do not.

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year- old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck... A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands.


One of the things I liked best about If I Stay was the presence of Mia's family. This novel proves that the parents don't have to be out of the picture, but can be interesting, fun characters that add to the story. Mia's relationship with Adam was sweet and rang true for me. This book had me in tears by the end, and that hasn't happened for a long time with a book.


There was a lot about If I Stay that I liked. First, music. We are a musical family with two of my children who play cello, so the whole dedication to music that Mia felt was something I could connect with. Next, the family relationship. Her family was a great one. She loved her brother and her parents supported her, loved each other, and her. Finally, her best friend and boyfriend. These were very real characters that I wouldn't have wanted to leave behind. It was a sad book that I found myself crying through, but was relieved to have some humor thrown in that made me laugh through my tears. I admire a writer who can pull both emotions out of me in one book.


Wow, it’s really challenging to write this review and not have it contain spoilers! One thing I loved about If I Stay is how normal everyone was. I know, I know, that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but trust me—it is. I mean, the MC Mia has a great family—something that’s on the endangered list in YA these days—a loving boyfriend, an awesome best friend. These were totally people I could see myself hanging out with. Mia’s not neurotic, or in rehab, nor flunking out of school. It’s really a nice change of pace.

This story flows pretty seamlessly between past and present tense, weaving in big chunks of memories to show the reader why Mia’s choice is so difficult. A heartbreaker, especially from the middle on.


My favorite part of If I Stay was definitely the way that Forman used description so beautifully. Every scene I could picture very clearly in my head, which made the disturbing scenes even more terrifying and the heart wrenching more likely to spark the waterworks. Oh yeah, that's another thing. Don't read this book without a whole box of tissues right at your side. Chocolate wouldn't hurt either. :-)


I would have to say that If I Stay is one of my favorite YA Contemp reads of the last few months. I adored the characters....I mean, Mia herself is such a unique girl to YA scene with "pretty girls with pretty problems" but in the long run, she is typical HS school.....well compared the vast majority of kids I teach, she fits into the norm. I loved the fact that she broke out of her rock band family mode to take up the cello. However normal she may seem, the dilemma she faces is nothing of the sort. It's very cool the way the novel is told because you almost get to put yourself in Mia's place every moment from the good to the bad, the highs and lows. You get to know her family, her friends, her boyfriend, and that makes what has happened even more tragic, so that one moment the choice might seem easy and the next minute it's gut wrenching! So, I would highly recommend this book!!

Have you read If I Stay? What are your favorite parts of the story? Leave us a comment! Next month we have chosen Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver so be sure to grab it and read it.

I am not Margo... Or John Green

The last page. The last paragraph.

I can’t stand for it to be over. I take a deep breath.

I read the last line a second time, then a third.

Closing the book, I lean back in my chair. “Well shit,” I say. Around me, people sip their coffees and peck away on their laptops. I’m in a crowded Starbucks, and I feel completely alone. There’s a second book in my bag—part of my plan to drink overpriced beverages and read all afternoon—but I don’t take it out. The thought of reading something else right now feels almost sacrilegious. Vulgar, even. How can I?

I’ve just finished Paper Towns and I want to throttle Jamie Blair.


I don’t really want to throttle Jamie, that was an exaggeration. It’s not her fault. I knew this would happen and I accept the blame. She’s been raving about Paper Towns for weeks but that didn’t mean that I had to go out and buy it, that didn’t mean that I didn’t know better, that I hadn't learned after reading Looking for Alaska.

It’s not that I don’t love John Green. If anything, I love him too much. You see, John Green is the author who makes me want to fall to my knees and cry, “I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!”

I have this theory that everyone has an author like that—even if they haven’t come across them yet.

You know that line in “Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen” where the narrators says, “The race is long; in the end, it’s only against yourself.” I believe that line. I really do. Almost all of the time. I suspect there are a few published writers that I’m better than and lots of published writers who leave me in the dust. That doesn’t bother me. But when I read John Green, there are moments when I stop and think that I’m just not worthy to practice the same craft.

He’s Shakespeare and I’m the girl who writes jingles for potato chips and calling both of us writers is true in the same way that a barstool and a Louis XV chair are both, well, chairs.

And you know what? I think that’s okay. I think it’s healthy to sometimes feel that way. Very few people can afford the luxury of complete self-confidence. Even fewer people have done things to actually warrant such a state. Truly brilliant books make me want to push myself harder, to be a better writer than I am now.

How about you? Are there any authors that you love but still find intimidating? Do you ever find yourself comparing your own prose to whatever you happen to be reading?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Word of Mouth -- From Guest Blogger Catherine McKenzie

Last week, Kathleen briefly mentioned Author Effect in her post. This week, GotYA is thrilled to have the author behind the project, Catherine McKenzie, as a guest blogger.


Word of mouth. That’s really all that marketing is, right? Just some people are better at it than others, and some people have more money, and some people have more access to mediums to get the words out of their mouths. So how does word of mouth work in today’s book marketing market? There’s the traditional way, of course. Big publisher prints a zillion copies of the book, gets other established authors to write blurbs about how fabulous it is, they buy shelf space in stores and advertisements in national newspapers and if the stars align you have a bestseller! Of course that formula isn’t a guarantee. And being published by a big publisher isn’t even a guarantee you’ll get that word of mouth treatment. Nope. In fact, most authors don’t. So what do they do?

Well, a lot of what they tell you to do these days involves social media. Get people blogging and Facebooking and Twittering about your book and you just might generate that word of mouth. But does it work? Really? Having just published my first novel, I wasn’t so sure. I know that I’ve certainly sold some copies of my book because I’ve spent many hours (too many) on these media. But I remain convinced that the main reason my book did well was because my publisher made sure my book was available and prominently placed in the national book chain.

But what about the others? My compatriots in the author business who’ve written great books but weren’t lucky enough to get the kind of placement I did in stores? What happens to them? And can something be done about it?

I’ve wondered this for a while and then I saw Betty White host Saturday Night Live. Because of a Facebook campaign. Mmmm.

A couple of days later I had started I group on Facebook called “I bet we can make these books bestsellers” (or the Author Effect for short) and had chosen two books by Wyoming writer Shawn Klomparens (Jessica Z. and Two Years, No Rain) as my test subjects. Why? Because they were the best books I’d read in the last six months that you probably haven’t heard of. But you should. And you should read them too. Because that’s what my group is all about. Sure, I’m happy to have members (over 600 of them so far – yeah!), but I’m hoping they do more. I’m hoping they actually buy the books and tell me – and the group – what they think about them. And because I’m not so full of myself that I think you should buy these books just because I say so (well, not entirely), I’ve gotten a bunch of book bloggers involved to review the books and tell us what they think too.

There’s been lots of positive reaction so far – I’ve gotten a lot of “what a great idea” messages. And I’d also say that about 10% of the group have actually purchased one or both of the books, which is pretty damn good. But not good enough for me. So, will you help me get the word out? And hey, while you’re at it, buy the books too. Because I – and some others – say so :)


Facebook Group
Shawn Klomparen’s Website
Catherine McKenzie's Website

About Catherine

Spin is Catherine McKenzie's first published novel. Her second novel, ARRANGED, will be published in Canada in January, 2011. She lives and writes in Montreal, Canada.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Starts, False Starts, and Non-Starts

“Work on something else,” is a common query-wait construction. There’s nothing like a SNI* to make you forget everything, including sluggish response times. But what if you’re not a dive-right-in kind of person?
If you outline, the new story may not be quite the distraction you hope it’d be. I like to let things simmer in the back of my brain for a while and once the real flavors start to come out, that’s when I get really absorbed. After my first MS, it took me a couple months to get something new started. Not because I didn’t have ideas, but because they were too new.
This time, it’s faster. Why?
Between drafts for the project I’m querying, I started a rough draft for my current WIP. Looking at it now, I’m probably going to rewrite just about all of what I had down. But that’s a good thing. My original idea has evolved. I can bring it off of the backburner without the lag between projects.
What about you? Leave us a comment on your starts, false-starts, and non-starts.
- Holen
*SNI = shiny new idea
**click to go to the photosource

Friday, June 4, 2010

Flashback Friday: Summertime Memories


Welcome to Week Eight of our fabulous segment Flashback Fridays where the old and new collide on everything from books to movies to first loves to favorite vacations.

This week we're flashingbacking to those fabulous first days of summer. The ones that held the sweet promise of *cues the Mel Gibson from Braveheart* FREEDOM!!!. You remember, those lazy days hanging out by the pool or lake, getting together with friends, staying up all night watching tv and movies and then sleeping until noon....oh wait, maybe we still do that except now we're staying up all night with our writing.

As a kid and teenager, I LIVED for summer. As a matured adult, I still LIVE for summer! Last Friday was my last "official" day with the kids, and then yesterday was my was first official day not having to work.

Wanna celebrate some summertime tunes? How about some Alice Cooper with School's Out for Summer

They used to play Who Let the Dog's Out? on the last day of school at one of the middle school's I taught at.

Or what about In the Summertime, a great oldie from Mungo Jerry? Whenever I hear it, I totally think of hot summer days, lemonade, swimming, and dancing around with friends.

And what would summer be without the Fresh Prince himself, Will Smith? Here's Summertime

When I was young, the New Kids on the Block were such a part of my summertime. Riding bikes with my cousin at my grandparents and taking our ginormous boomboxes outside and cranking the tunes while we rode around. And here they are singing about summertime!

And speaking of New Kids of the Block, how about LFO's Summertime Girls that makes allusions to New Kids! And how can you not love a song with the lyric, "Billy Shakespeare wrote a long of sonnets."

So, what are your favorite summertime memories?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

On Finding Books

Ah, the first week in June. It’s a week fraught with confusion and peril. A week designed for strappy shoes and barbecues. A week that doesn’t necessarily loan itself to time spent inside with a book.

Yes, faithful GotYa readers, we succumbed to the temptation of the first week of June and have delayed this month’s book club post.

But don’t fear, we have a substitute post below.


Lately, I’ve been giving a lot of thought about why and how I choose books by new authors (or, at least, authors I’m not familiar with). Part of this is, indirectly, the fault of Canadian author Catherine McKenzie and her Author Effect* project. Mckenzie started a Facebook Group on the hunch that if enough people got behind a deserving book, they could turn it into a bestseller.

From the group’s page:
I'm calling it the AUTHOR EFFECT, because, well, if I called it the OPRAH EFFECT I'd probably get sued. Every three months or so we (I probably just mean I, but I am open to suggestions!) will pick a book or books that I think should be read by the masses...
Catherine’s been pretty tireless in promoting the venture and each time I see a tweet about the group, I find myself thinking about my own book buying choices and the reasons I select the books I do. Everyone from bookshop owners to the waitresses at my favorite lunchtime spots have speculated on just how much money I spend on books. It’s not quite as massive as most people seem to think, but it’s not uncommon for me to pick up three or four books a month and often at least one of those is a debut or from an author I’ve not read before.

Here are a few of the ways I find them:

My Agent: She’s a walking book catalog. In the eight months I’ve known her, I’ve purchased nine books that she’s mentioned in passing. That breaks down to slightly more than a book a month.

Word of Mouth: There are few people I take book reviews from so when certain people recommend a book, I’ll almost always buy it.

Absolute Write Members: I try to buy books—especially debuts—by other AW members. Two of the best YA/upper MG books I read this fall were both AW debuts as was a great adult UF series debut (Break, The Shifter, and Three Days to Dead). The “What are you reading?” and the “What YA book are you reading RIGHT NOW?” threads on AW are also great ways to pick up new titles.

Twitter: I’m sort of amazed at how wonderful writers are to each other on Twitter. The latest trend of awesomeness is the Twitter book party which look a little like this: Twitter Book Party! BOOK TITLE| @awesomeauthorname | YA | @HarperTeen | #bookbday

Book Blogs
: I’m not going to name a specific blog because I’m scared I’ll leave someone out and, to be honest, this something I’m just finally starting to explore in all its awesomeness.

And over to you:

How do you find new books? Any favorite book blogs we should be watching? Are you secretly squirreling away ideas to someday market your own book through blogs and social networks?

* Disclaimer Author Effect is not a YA site and Catherine McKenzie is not a YA author. We’re not genre snobs when we see an interesting idea ;)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lessons from Backspace: Titles, Queries, and Pages

I did not get to attend as much of Backspace Writers Conference as I originally planned, but one extremely useful seminar I went to was called “Midtown Idol,” featuring agents Jeff Kleinman, Kristin Nelson, and Joanna Stampfel-Volpe.

The seminar was divided into a few rounds. In the first one, the woman at the microphone (who had a GREAT reading-out-loud voice, something I hope to develop someday) read queries. The agents would then indicate whether they would request sample pages based on those queries, or they would request to hear the logline (that one sentence “this is why my book is awesome! Read it!” thing), or they would stop her in the middle of the query and say “nope!” and give a reason.

In round two, Captain Expert Reader would read sample pages from the “maybe”s and “yes”s from round one for exactly one minute. The agents would then raise their hands to indicate at which point they would stop reading the pages. Then we all voted on our favorites.

I listened to over thirty queries, and after awhile, you start to notice patterns, even if you aren’t a query expert. But all the same, I thought I would list the Mistakes Made at Midtown Idol (That Even I Noticed).

Mistake One: The Crazy Title

This is probably the only time I will ever say this, but: better bland than ridiculous, when it comes to titles. At one point in round one, Captain ER said the title of the book and all the agents laughed and said they would pass. This wasn’t a moment of cruelty, or anything. It’s just that if the title makes your book sound crazy, ludicrous, or impossible to love, you set up whoever is reading it to hate it from the getgo. In our attempts to find THE title that will sell a million, jillion books, we sometimes forget that we have to be prepared to toss our first titles out the window when the book sells. So, the moral of the story: your wacky title may get you attention. But it’ll be the wrong kind of attention, probably.

Mistake Two: The Rambling Query

Several times, the judges asked Captain ER to stop reading because the query ran on or wasn’t concise or was just too darn confusing. The last thing you want is for someone to have to read your query several times to figure out what your book is about. It should be, above all else, clear.

The judges usually asked for Captain ER to read the logline instead of the query, when the query was unclear. The logline is just a hook. It conveys what your book is about (without conveying EVERYTHING the book is about) and also screams “YOU MUST READ ME!”, that is, if it’s doing what it’s supposed to. Here’s the kicker: MANY people’s loglines were ten times better than their queries. Their loglines were crisp, easy to understand, and interesting.

Therefore I have some thoughts about how to improve The Rambling Query:

A. Read it out loud. To other people. That way, they can tell you if they’re confused. If they can’t understand it without seeing it on paper, it’s probably not clear enough.

B. Don’t write a query. Write a hook. Most people’s hooks will be too long to be hooks, but just long enough to be queries. I think trying to restrict your query to a single sentence could be extremely helpful. Not that your pitch paragraph should be a single sentence long (although I suppose that could work, in some cases), but if you strive for a sentence, you'll probably end up with three sentences. And you may feel that those three sentences aren't enough, but you might be wrong. All your query needs to do is make someone want to read your book. It doesn't need to explain everything.

Mistake Three: The Flowery First Pages

This was a problem in a lot of the sample pages we heard. Basically, you hear that your first pages should showcase your best writing. So you try to pack in as much “good writing” as possible. What generally happens at that point is that the writing is saturated with adjectives. My thought is: less is more. Your first pages shouldn’t say “LOOK AT MY WRITING.” They should say “get sucked into my story.” If your voice is engaging, it will lead whoever is reading it along just fine.

Also, I think we could all benefit from reading the first pages (or, heck, all the pages) out loud. I know it helped me to hear writing that probably looked all right on paper read out loud without any pages to guide me. I noticed a lot more mistakes, and I definitely noticed when things got boring. So, maybe read your first pages out loud to someone, or have them read the pages out loud to you, if you can find a willing volunteer. If your volunteer stumbles or gets confused, so will your unfamiliar reader, in all likelihood.

So there you have it. Tips I put together in my head while observing Midtown Idol. Happy writing, everyone!