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Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Flashback - The Writing Bug

Friday Flashback will be a randomly recurring blog post where I will flashback to various times in my life. Today I'm flashing back to when I began writing...

I surrendered to the writing bug back when I was a wee-little-one way before the era of TiVo, reality shows, and Britney Spears shaving her head. After reading A LIGHT IN THE ATTIC by Shel Silverstein fifty million times, I became addicted to writing funny poetry in first grade. I progressed to writing longer, more dramatic works in second grade when I penned a tear-jerker about a boy who was saved from quicksand by his pet donkey. No joke. Apparently it wasn't worth saving though because I can't find it. So, although I'd like to share the donkey/quicksand story, I've found the next best thing to share for my first Friday Flashback post: THE CAT WHO WORE GLASSES, by the second grade version of myself.

*Click on each page for a larger view*

Rising action...

Climax and falling action...

Surprise climax #2 (mean girl twist), falling action and conclusion...

Nelly (the "mean girl" cat in this story) is a bit like Britney Taylor in my book, THE LIPSTICK LAWS. Of course, Britney's not a cat nor does she break someone's glasses...but she's mean and she has manicured finger-claws. Case closed.

Happy Friday!

*Best Wishes & Lipstick Kisses*

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Confession...

In light of Valentine's Day, I feel it's time to come clean. I can no longer deny that I have a serious problem with monogamy. Yes, I admit, I am a book cheater...

It all started when I'd shift between the pages of Dr. Seuss and P.D. Eastman books carelessly... all the while, neither book knew about the other. Call me naive, but I didn't know two-timing was wrong back then. Soon enough two books weren't enough to satisfy my book cheating urges... I'd move on to three, four, or five at a time. Board books, picture books, coloring books - it didn't matter how I satisfied my compulsion - I wasn't picky.

Things progressed grimly during my elementary years when the Scholastic Book Club reinforced my book cheating addiction even more. I'd purchase piles of books at a time despite the incredulous stares and whispers of my fellow classmates.

But I confess, I didn't just book cheat in school... I would have late night trysts with the pages of Roald Dahl books... and move on seamlessly to Katherine Paterson, Madeleine L'Engle, Shel Silverstein, and Beverly Cleary...

Fortunately, my early years weren't completely devoid of book monogamy. My Judy Blume phase was a time I'm proud to say I went steady with a book. It was good while it lasted... But then Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine dragged me into the depths of cheating again by their wicked plots and twisted writing. After that, I was right back to my dirty old book cheating habits.

As I matured into young adulthood, my book cheating grew worse. Once in college, I began cheating on fiction with non-fiction... and I cheated on non-fiction pleasure reading with academic reading... and then academic reading with TABLOID MAGAZINES! Good grief, it's disgraceful to own up to!

However, I can't take all the blame for my tainted book moral compass. There are book pushers who drive me to cheat with their "books for purchase" ploys. Yes, I'm referring to bookstores.

But with the warped help of Amazon, I no longer worry about the awkward glances from book pushing clerks while I peruse the shelves of Borders and Barnes and Noble adorned with a fake mustache disguise. Amazon has been a book cheating middle-man, making it all the more easy to find books willing to help me cheat on my other books in the privacy of my own home.

And Amazon's enabling ways don't stop there... Most recently I've gone down a new technologically sick book cheating path by cheating on my real books with my Amazon Kindle books. Does the shame ever end?! For the love of books, I need HELP people!

So tell me, my friends of the blog world (if you're still actually reading this...), am I the only one suffering in the depths of book cheating torment? I beg you to come forward so we can work together toward book monogamy... or, on second thought, we could trade books and begin a polygamous book cult.

Happy heart day to all and to all a good night!

*Best Wishes & Lipstick Kisses*

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snowpalooza 2010

Yesterday I saw a family of abominable snowmen looking at the house for sale across the street. Okay, not really, but there's snow out the wazoo in the Philadelphia area. Major highways were shut down yesterday - SHUT DOWN! Do you understand the snow absurdity that has to take place in order to shut a major highway down? Honestly, I haven't seen this much snow since I lived in Upstate NY. So, seeing that I'm snowed in against my will, the least I can do is blog about it and share some Snowpalooza aftermath photos with you, my blog world friends. Happy Snowshoeing!

A winter wonderland...

My indoor cats wondering: What the catnip is all that white stuff?!?

The adventures of Snowdog!

The adventures of Mini Snowdog...

The magical disappearing grill...

Forget Where's Waldo... Where's the mailbox???

Neighborhood whiteout...

Snowpalooza out the garage door...

The magical disappearing patio furniture...

The partially dug out doggy trail...

On a snowed in happy note, it's been a productive writing/editing week and Survivor Heroes vs. Villains starts tonight! Yay!

Not to mention, I'll be getting my weekly dose of Tim Gunn on Project Runway tonight... Double yay!!

Take that, Abominable Snowman! Non-abominable folks can have fun too!

*Best Wishes & Lipstick Kisses*

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How To Book Review #2 - Formatting and Submitting Your Manuscript by Cynthia Laufenberg

Most people think that in order to get published, all you have to do is write well. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Let's face it, there are plenty of not so good writers who get published... and even more amazingly talented aspiring writers who don't. There's a lot more that goes into getting published than just being a good writer. Yes, you have to learn, practice, and (hopefully) love the craft of writing... but you also have to put a lot of time into studying the publishing market and learning how to submit your writing (that you've crafted) in the correct format to the correct agent(s) and/or publisher(s).

One book that helped me learn the proper way to format and submit my manuscripts, queries, proposals, synopses, cover letters, etc. is Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript by Cynthia Laufenberg. The nice thing about this book is that it covers many areas of writing - from fiction submissions, to non-fiction, to TV scripts, to picture books, to YA novels, to greeting cards, to magazine articles, and more. For the Jack-of-all-trades writer who's writing various genres, it's a dream come true. If you'd like a guide to help you learn the proper way to format and submit your writing professionally to agents/publishers, this is the book for you!

This is the copy I have:

This is the newer book (3rd edition) by a different author:

**Even if you're following the steps in a book like this, always remember to check an agent's or publisher's submission guidelines before submitting your writing to them. Their guidelines may be different than those covered in this book.**

Happy writing!

*Best Wishes & Lipstick Kisses*

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Puppy Bowl VI

For those of you who are animal lovers and not planning to watch the Super Bowl (or the Jersey Bowl) tomorrow, there's something cute, fun, and furry to check out - the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet:

Awww - now doesn't that make you want to cuddle a pup or chew on a chew toy?!

Best Wishes & Lipstick Kisses*


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Guest Blog Post

I've written a guest blog post titled "Séance Your Inner Teen" about writing a teen voice on my friend and fellow debut YA author, Randy Russell's blog. If you'd like to check it out, here is a direct link:

Randy's debut young adult novel, DEAD SCHOOL, will be published by HarperTeen in 2011. He is a master of writing stories that spook and I plan to host him on my blog for a future post about writing scary stories. Stay tuned...

*Best Wishes & Lipstick Kisses*

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Editorial Letter - Friend or Foe?

While waiting for my much anticipated first editing letter, I stalked the depths of the internet to hunt down every bit of info I could find about what I should expect. The results were somewhat nerve-wracking. I read a few editing letter horror stories that had me positive that I'd receive a 200+ page editorial letter, my manuscript would be scribbled over with a thick endless red line, the package would be sent to me in caution tape, and I'd have a three hour and twelve minute deadline to complete my rewrites. Yes, I have an overactive imagination... after all, I'm a writer. The point is, I worried myself silly... for nothing.

My editorial letter turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I received a two and a half page (helpful) letter, plus (more helpful) write ups within the text of my manuscript accompanying the letter. The process was fascinating - from finding out what my editor liked and what she thought could be stronger, to brainstorming how I should assimilate her suggestions within my storyline, to the nose to the grindstone rewrites - I enjoyed the whole collaborative process. This was a stark contrast from the editing horror stories I read, and (I think) much closer to what most writers experience with their first editing letters. Don't get me wrong, revisions are not devoid of hard work. Before my first round edits were complete, I had adjusted some plot points, rewrote a scene or two, tweaked a character, deleted portions of text, and changed dialogue here and there. The finished product was a polished version of my original manuscript - a stronger story! And who doesn't want that?

So, to those debut authors chewing your fingernails to nubs while waiting for your first editing letters (I feel your pain), I'd like to remind you that your editor would not have acquired your manuscript if he/she didn't like it and wanted to change everything about it. Your editor is invested in you and your book, and he/she wants to see both succeed. The suggestions in your editorial letter are meant to help your book succeed, not to give you sweat drenched nightmares. It's a constructive, invaluable process that will teach you so much. So, absorb the experience positively as one that will heighten your writing, and know that you have a talented editor in your corner. And please, don't hide from your letter behind a stack of Brawny paper towel rolls. Your editorial letter won't bite, I promise.

In closing, to answer the question of this blog post title - friend or foe? I vote friend...

Please come back for my future posts chronicling my take on the publishing process.

*Best Wishes & Lipstick Kisses*

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