News & Reviews Q and A Amy Holder bio Amy Holder Appearances Amy Holder books Written in Lipstick Amy Holder contact

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

An Interview With Bettina Restrepo

Today, I'm continuing this week of inspirational interviews with author Bettina Restrepo. Her young adult debut, Illegal, will be available in 2011.

Tell us about your book.
Illegal is the story of Nora, a Mexican immigrant who crosses the border illegally to find her missing father in Houston. We are all immigrants, so this story just isn’t about one nationality looking for family in a Texas town. It’s about how we love and survive.

I started Illegal in 2002, and it was accepted by Katherine Tegen Books, Harper Collins, in April 2009. Illegal will be in stores in January 2011. Nine years.

Can you tell us a little about your path to publication?
Illegal was the book that taught me how to write, because I had to write it over and over again. My main character, Nora, began her “life” as a nine year old searching for a lost book. She grew into a 14 year old searching for her missing father across the border in Texas. This happened through revision. Lots of it.

Illegal was also rejected by twelve publishing houses (including Harper Collins in 2004) and over thirty literary agents during its pre-acceptance life – and I am grateful. The book wasn’t ready and had not found its proper home. I NEEDED the no (although each time it hurt). Now, I know have the best book I could write.

When I was first starting out, Cynthia Leitich Smith told me, “You don’t want to be published fast. You want to be published well.” It is my mantra today – because I am impatient.

While I was working on the book, I did lots of other things; magazine articles for children and adults, a monthly column for a glossy under different names, fired an agent, found another agent, published a picture book, quit my “paying” job to be a mommy, became a mom to a learning difference child, and read thousands of books. It helped that all of my eggs were not in one basket. When one egg broke, I didn’t feel like the entire henhouse was coming down. Today, I feel like a juggler of eggs.

How did I find my agent?
The first time – a conference. We didn’t work out- which sometimes happens.
The second time - a query letter.

After my first agent and I parted ways, I knew that I wanted someone with an editorial eye and a nurturing spirit.

I researched a long list and was received many full manuscript requests – but I wanted someone who was looking at me as a career writer, not just a quick sell. That person became my forever agent - Blair Hewes, of Dunham Literary.

Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?
Yep. I convince myself that I am an utter failure and tie myself into knots. After a considerable amount of self torture, I look back at what I have accomplished in one year, three years, nine years. I re-read the rejections letters. I re-read some of my terrible stories. I realize that I have matured. I savor the fact that skills I wished for years ago are now turning into my writer muscles. Feel the pain and then decide it won’t kill you. Take a nap, walk outside, pet the dog…. Then start again.

Then, occasionally, I pick up an application from Starbucks. Just. In. Case.

My advice to writers:
Your story does not have to be on a bookshelf to have meaning. Write for the craft and the art of the story well told.

This is a picture of Bettina's "little man" saying, "Put down the manuscript and PLAY!"

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and telling us about Illegal and your publication journey, Bettina!

For more information about Bettina and her book, check out the links below:
Bettina Restrepo's website
More about ILLEGAL

Also, don't forget to read the other inspirational author interviews going on this week at the blog links located here.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

An Interview with Sara Bennett Wealer

Today, I'm continuing this week of inspirational interviews with debut author Sara Bennett Wealer. Her young adult novel, Rival, will be available in 2011.

Tell us about your Book.
RIVAL is a high-stakes duet between two seniors--once friends, now enemies--who are preparing to go up against each other in a major singing competition. To Brooke, winning means escaping the in-crowd for life as a professional musician. Kathryn, meanwhile, sees victory as the key to a much-needed college scholarship. As the big day nears, each girl must face her fears about the future, her scars from the past, and the fact that the person she hates most might just be the best friend she ever had.

RIVAL will be released in Jan/Feb 2011 by HarperTeen.

Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication?
When I started querying agents (for a book I wrote before RIVAL), I actually landed the first one I ever contacted. But it turned out we weren't the right fit, which proves what everybody always says about taking your time and making sure you partner with the agent who's right for you. I know that folks who feel stuck in the query trenches right now are reading that going, "Easy for you to say! You're agented and have a book deal!" I know how it feels to be so desperate you think you'll take anybody who comes along with an offer, because my second agent search took a lot longer than the first one did. But I still ended up turning a couple of agents down because I'd learned my lesson the first time. When I finally hooked up with Holly (Root at Waxman Literary), I'd done my research and knew she'd be a great advocate for my work, and I was right!

Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?
I felt like giving up several times! Even after I'd landed an agent. Because getting a good agent doesn't automatically mean you'll get a book deal. Holly and I did a lot of work to get me to this point, and there were never any guarantees that all of the revisions and submissons were going to lead anywhere in the end. The urge to give up was even worse during those long, dark days when I was checking my email every half hour and either getting rejections or no responses, all the while struggling to keep myself motivated to write something new. When you're working toward publication, you have tons of opportunities to walk away. You're the one who sets your schedule (work on the book tonight or watch Dancing with the Stars?) and let's face it - if you let the dream fizzle out, nobody else really cares. You're only letting yourself down. So you have to talk yourself into continuing to move forward. In my case, I figured I'd come too far to give up. I believed in my books and in myself as a writer, and I'd read enough in my genre to know my work could stand up to most of what was out there. I tell people it's like banging your head against a brick wall. You get to a certain point where the next blow could be the one that knocks it down, so you tell yourself you're either going to end up with brain damage or you're going to make it to the other side. But either way, you are NOT going to stop.

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and telling us about Rival and your publication journey, Sara!

For more information about Sara and her book, check out the links below:
Sara Bennett Wealer's website
Sara Bennett Wealer's blog
RIVAL on Goodreads

Also, don't forget to read the other inspirational author interviews going on this week at the blog links located here.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, March 29, 2010

An Interview with Kathy McCullough

I'm beginning this week of inspirational interviews with debut author Kathy McCullough. Her young adult novel, Delaney Collins, F.G., will be available in 2011.

Tell us about your book.
The book is called “Delaney Collins, F.G.” and it’s being published in November of 2011 by Random House/Delacorte. It’s the story of a teenage girl who discovers that her estranged father is a fairy godmother – and that she’s destined to become one as well.

Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication?
I began as a screenwriter and went to film school at Columbia University in New York City. After many years in Hollywood, working a little as a screenwriter (mostly in TV) and a lot reading other people’s scripts and books for different film production companies, I decided to try writing a novel. I’ve always loved young adult and middle-grade fiction, and I was reading a lot of popular kids books for companies like Walden Media, which spurred me on further. I signed up for a children’s writing class with author Karen D’Arc, and the first thing she told us to do was to join the SCBWI, which I did. I attended their conferences, which were always inspiring, and after a lot of stops and starts on various stories, I finally forced myself to finish something – and then I rewrote it about 8,347 times. But, as they say, the 8,347th time is the charm, and I landed agents and they sent it out – and it sold!

Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?
I constantly despair while I’m working on something new that I’ve lost any talent I ever had, and that what I’m writing is a stupid idea, badly written. But I’ve never really seriously considered doing anything else, because I don’t want to. I’ve learned to live on very little money for the long stretches of time that “starving artists” often experience, because it’s more important to me to have time to write than to buy a new car, for example. (Proof: I drive a used 1990 Honda Civic – but mostly I take the Los Angeles!) As many writers have said before me: no one who does this is sane. You write because you have to. If you could possibly do anything else, you would. So that’s the short answer: I’m insane.

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and telling us about Delaney Collins, F.G. and your publication journey, Kathy!

For more information about Kathy and her book, check out the links below:
Kathy McCullough's website
Kathy McCullough's blog
The website of Delaney Collins, F.G.

Also, don't forget to read the other inspirational author interviews going on this week at the blog links located here.

Labels: , , , , ,

A Week of Inspirational Interviews

This week, I'll be interviewing five fabulous writers and debut authors who have successfully traveled down the long and bumpy road toward publication. I'm spotlighting one of them every day this week to hopefully inspire, entertain and/or encourage you to chase your dreams.

My Interview Schedule:
Monday - Kathy McCullough
Tuesday - Sara Bennett Wealer
Wednesday - Bettina Restrepo
Thursday - Gae Polisner
Friday - Denise Jaden

Just when you thought this week couldn't get any better, it does! The best part of this interview bonanza is that I'm not alone in spreading this positive beam of writerly light. Check out these other blogs (links below) each day this week for more inspirational interviews from writers who have book deals or agents, or both.

Elana Johnson
Carrie Harris - I will be interviewed on Carrie's blog on Tuesday.
Lisa & Laura Roecker
Kathy McCullough
Beth Revis
Kirsten Hubbard
Leah Clifford
Kim Harrington
Tiffany Schmidt
Susan Adrian
Dawn Metcalf
Suzette Saxton & Bethany Wiggins
Victoria Schwab
Gretchen McNeil

Join us for a week of 65+ success stories and remember to dream big!

*Best Wishes & Lipstick Kisses*

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, March 26, 2010

Something To...

Make You Smile:

Check Out:
The Lipstick Laws made an appearance on three of my favorite blogs! Hooray!
La Femme Readers
The Story Siren
The Book Scout

Look Forward to:
I have something up my sleeve for next week. Check back on Monday and you might be inspired. Also, stay tuned for my first contest sometime in April.

Cheer about:
As promised in a previous post, I'm passing on a few blog awards to ELEVEN bloggers (to pay homage to my 2011 pub date).

Prolific Blogger Award

Alissa Grosso @ Slightly More Than Dirt
Medeia Sharif @ Medeia Sharif
DL Hammons @ Cruising Altitude
Bish Denham @ Random Thoughts
Lily Robinson @ Becoming an Author... My Journey

Sugar Doll Blogger Award

Melissa @ Chasing The Dream
Dawn Simon @ Plotting and Scheming
Barb @ Writing - The Ups and Downs

Thank you Christine, at Christine's Journey, for passing along the sugar doll award to me.

Creative Writer Award

Gae Polisner @ Trying To Stay Afloat in a Sea of Words
Claire @ Points of Claire-ification
Tahereh @ Grab a Pen

**Don't forget, you'll have to play the truth/lies game on your own blog for this award**

Thanks again Nicole, Christine, and Medeia for the awards!

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

*Best Wishes & Lipstick Kisses*

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What Makes a Book Cry-Worthy?

I came across a website called where a husband records his wife crying at the end of movies and shares the videos online. Other than the fact that he's totally invading her cry-worthy moments and posting them for all to see, it's pretty entertaining as showcased below:

I couldn't help but wonder if she's faking her tears...because it seems a little over the top to cry hysterically at the end of Star Wars (and this is coming from someone who cried at the opening scene and music of Titanic upon watching it for a second time). My skepticism sparked me to read the Q&A section of the site to find out more about the couple behind the tearful dramatics... and I was surprised to come across this question and answer:

Q. Does she cry when she reads books?

A. Nope. Only movies with happy/sad endings.

I found this surprising because one would assume that a woman who becomes so emotionally connected to characters and storylines within films would be equally connected to characters and storylines within literature. But apparently that's not the case.

So I began recollecting my cry-worthy history, and realized that I'm much more prone to cry over movies than books too. I can count the number of books that have made me cry on one hand, whereas I'd probably need both hands and my toes to count movies that have made me shed tears through the years. To be fair, I usually choose to read books that are light hearted and funny rather than heart wrenching... so maybe it's not an accurate comparison. Still, I find the question of why movies evoke more intense emotions than books in some people to be an interesting topic.

Perhaps balancing a book with tissues inhibits the ability to turn pages properly, therefore crying is averted when reading. While hands are (usually) free for tissue use when watching movies... unless you're holding a huge tub of buttered popcorn.

What do you think? Are books or movies more apt to make you cry? What is the most cry-worthy book you've read? What made that book so cry-worthy?

Labels: , ,

Sunday, March 21, 2010

YOU Can't Handle The Truth!

Okay, maybe you can handle the truth, but the title seems so much more interesting with a Jack Nicholson quote, don't you think? Anyhow, it's time for me to come clean with my slick-von-trickster antics from the truth/lies game in my previous post. Thanks to everyone who played along... now it's time to see if any of your guesses were right:

1) I'm allergic to chocolate, but love it so much that I'll deal with the hives in order to eat it.

FALSE! I'd definitely suffer from a permanent case of hives if I had a chocolate allergy!

2) I own a show dog who has won two state championships.

FALSE! My pups are beauteous in my eyes, but neither one is a show dog. I adopted one of my dogs right before she was scheduled to be put to sleep at the pound. My other dog is half blind and was rescued from a puppy mill situation.

3) I was spat on by a llama when I was five.

FALSE! I've never been spit on by a llama because I'm the llama whisperer... referenced in the photo below. My sister has been spit on by llamas countless times though...which makes this story all the more hilarious.

4) I had an eyebrow ring when I was 18, and now I have trouble plucking that eyebrow without sneezing.

TRUE! Believe it or not, in a fit of teenage rebellion, I shocked my parents to bits by getting an eyebrow ring on my 18th birthday. I kept the piercing for a year, but will forever have to deal with the havoc it caused on my eyebrow nerves. Plucking my right eyebrow usually leads to sneezing nowadays.

5) I graduated high school a year early...but then I took the five year plan to graduate college... so it evened out in the end.

FALSE! I graduated high school on time. And I took the four and a half year plan to graduate college... it was just too much fun not to stay an extra semester.

6) I've never flown on a plane and never plan to if I can avoid it.

FALSE! I've flown on many planes over my lifetime. My most recent plane ride was to Dallas, and the time before that I went to Costa Rica.

7) I lived in Chicago for a few years and had the pleasure of meeting Oprah.

FALSE! Although I did live in the Chicago area for a while, I never met Oprah.

Thanks again to everyone who played along. Congratulations to Tahereh for guessing correctly!

Also, I'd like to extend a huge thank you to Nicole over at One Significant Moment at a Time for giving me the prolific blogger award! Please go check out and follow her awesome blog!

Stay tuned for a future post to see which bloggers I pass these fab awards on to...

Labels: ,

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Liar Liar Pants on Fire and Other Randomness

I was honored to receive the creative writer (AKA - bold faced liar) blog award from Medeia Sharif, a fellow writer and debut author. Her YA debut, THE BESTEST RAMADAN EVER, is being published by Flux in 2011. Check out her fabulous blog here.

I was so excited to get this award because I've been secretly wanting to play the truth/lies game that goes along with it. The point of the game is to list six lies and one truth, and then you (yes, I'm talking to you) have to guess which one is the true statement. PS: I am a horrible liar in person...but maybe on paper (or blog background) I can be slick-von-trickster.

Which one is my truth?

1) I'm allergic to chocolate, but love it so much that I'll deal with the hives in order to eat it.

2) I own a show dog who has won two state championships.

3) I was spat on by a llama when I was five.

4) I had an eyebrow ring when I was 18, and now I have trouble plucking that eyebrow without sneezing.

5) I graduated high school a year early...but then I took the five year plan to graduate college... so it evened out in the end.

6) I've never flown on a plane and never plan to if I can avoid it.

7) I lived in Chicago for a few years and had the pleasure of meeting Oprah.

Please-oh-please play along by leaving me a comment with your best guess. Check back in a few days for the truth and nothing but the truth!

In other randomness, I handed in my acks 'n ded (acknowledgements and dedication) for my book after re-writing them 937 times - hooray! I decided to go with the less is more concept to avoid being too long winded. Because of this, my hair straightening iron will be very upset that I left her out... therefore I'm acknowledging her here: Dear Chi Straightening Iron, thank you for straightening my hair with such precision. Without you, my hair would be frizzy and unmanageable...and how would I be able to write in that condition? The short answer is, I wouldn't.

Finally, in honor of St. Patty's Day tomorrow and my partial Irish heritage, I'd like to leave you with two of my favorite Irish sayings:

A blessing for the hopeful:

And a curse for the bitter:

May the luck o' the Irish be with you! :)

*Best Wishes & Lipstick Kisses*

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Surviving a Case of Acks 'N Ded

There comes a harrowing time in every debut author's life where s/he gets a case of acks 'n ded. Don't let the 'n fool you; a case of acks 'n ded is not innocent and delicious like mac 'n cheese. Acks 'n ded can fester if left uncontrolled... much like a rash. In fact, a case of acks 'n ded can compromise (if not take over) other parts of your life if it's not handled with care.

For example, you could easily get acks 'n ded McCrazy hair from trying to pull your acks 'n ded out of your brain. Worse yet, pull-your-hair-out McBald head is a follow-up symptom to McCrazy hair.

You could also become a serial tree murderer by slaying through mounds of paper during your acks 'n ded condition...

Not to mention, acks 'n ded insanity can ensue if it becomes too much to bear...

And if all this isn't bad enough, it's possible to come down with acks 'n ded amnesia... where you forget those closest to you at the most pivotal point of your acks 'n ded treatment.

Wait... what? You're allergic to random acronyms? What the heck is acks 'n ded, you ask?

It's the acknowledgements and dedication page that authors must write for their books. It's the one stop shop to thank the people, super heroes, or llamas (hey, whatever floats your boat...I'm not judging) who helped you along your way to publication.

The process of writing your acknowledgements and dedication page can be tricky. You don't want to be known as a long-winded loon, thanking everyone down to Luigi the tomato wrangler at your local grocery store (unless tomato wrangling is the basis of your story, of course). On the other hand, you don't want to forget to thank those most responsible for your success due to acks 'n ded amnesia.

I am currently dealing with a case of acks 'n ded... and I'm happy to announce that I'm almost finished with treatment.

Now it's your turn to spill the acks 'n ded beans. Have you dealt with an acks 'n ded condition? If so, how did you handle it? If not, who would you acknowledge and/or dedicate your book to if you were dealing with a case of acks 'n ded right now?

*Best Wishes & Lipstick Kisses*

Labels: ,

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Random Pop Culture Rant

Okay, so I came across this article today about Lindsay Lohan suing E-Trade for $100 million big ones over this HA-larious commercial that first aired during the Super Bowl:

Seriously? It's not like she's a Madonna... or a Beyonce... or even a Pee-wee Herman. If one of those names were used, the whole country would know without question whom it was about. To be honest, when I saw this commercial I laughed, and didn't give Lindsay Lohan a second thought (or first thought for that matter).

So, now it's time to play a game called: What's the MOTIVE behind the craziness?

Possibility #1 - Is she strapped for cash and looking for some quick dough?

Possibility #2 - Does she have documentation to prove that every Lindsay reference in the world is directed at her?

Possibility #3 - Underneath her exterior, is she actually a milkaholic, boyfriend stealing baby... and her dubious cover is blown?

Possibility #4 (Conspiracy Theory Twist) - Is it a big publicity stunt for all the players involved?

Possibility #5 (Conspiracy Theory Twist Two) - Have aliens infiltrated Hollywood?

Possibility #6 - Ummm... who cares?

The debate is open. Tell me, do you have a conspiracy theory of your own? Are you on team Lohan, team E-Trade, or team who cares? Inquiring minds want to know...

*Best Wishes & Lipstick Kisses*


Monday, March 8, 2010

Award Funarama & More

This is a bit overdue, but I'm sending many thanks to Alissa Grosso for bestowing me with the creative writer blog award! Alissa is a fellow YA author whose debut novel, THE BALDERDASH SEMESTERS, will be published in 2011. You can check out Alissa's fabulous blog here.

Now I have the responsibility of passing along the creative writer award to five other bloggers. All of the writers I've picked have blogs that are fun to read, so please take a look at each one (if you're not already following them)... you won't be disappointed.

Without further ado, the award goes to:

1) Carrie Harris - Carrie is a hilarious zombie-loving, self-confessed lunatic. Not only that, she's one heck of a writer. Her debut YA novel, NO PAIN, NO BRAIN, will be published in 2011. Check out her laugh-out-loud blog here.

2) Keri Mikulski - Keri is an athletically inclined author who's bringing sporty spice to YA novels. She's combined her two passions (writing and sports) to create her fantastic PRETTY TOUGH series. Check out her blog and website here.

3) Kathy McCullough - Kathy is a talented writer whose debut YA novel, DELANEY COLLINS, F.G., is being published in 2011. She has an author blog that you can check out here. Also, the delightful main character of her debut novel, Delaney Collins, has her own blog that you can check out here.

4) Sydney Salter - Sydney is a fellow Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Graphia author. Her books MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS, and JUNGLE CROSSING are available now. Her new book, SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK, will be available in April of this year. Check out her blog here.

5) Tess Hilmo - Tess is a multi-talented writer whose debut middle grade novel, WITH A NAME LIKE LOVE, is being published in 2011. Check out her blog here and her book trailer here (she composed the music herself - amazing!).

Now that I've passed on the award torch, it's up to you five to continue the flame by passing it along (if you feel so inclined) to five others in a chain-blog-Olympics-esque way.

On an equally important side note, Victoria Schwab (a fellow debut author and Elevensie) created a pretty awesome video about what makes her a rebel. Check it out below, along with her other YARebels videos on YouTube:

*Best Wishes & Lipstick Kisses*


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Breaking the Publishing Catch 22

You can't get published if you don't have an agent... but you can't get an agent if you've never been published... and the cycle continues endlessly... like an evil, undying curse...

This is what I thought too until I got "THE CALL" (er, it was actually an email) from my editor wanting to publish THE LIPSTICK LAWS. I don't currently have an agent, so I must have broken the curse! Hallelujah - it's a miracle! How did this happen, you ask? Well, the short answer is I evaded the treacherous slush pile by NETWORKING. *Surprised gasp from the crowd*

It can be done, ladies and gents!

Networking opens doors where they might otherwise be closed and locked. Not to mention, once your networking antennas are out and working, you may find that you already know someone who knows someone who knows someone willing to help you escape the dreaded slush pile.

If you question my sanity on the topic, check out the Small World Experiment. AKA: The Six Degrees of Separation.
Or if you prefer, The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon theory.

So, the best advice I can give to all aspiring authors is: network your tails off. And if you don't have a tail (which I hope you don't), network your behinds off! Get out your rolodex and figure out who knows whom. Then decipher whether those "whoms" are worth networking with... and so on and so on. If you don't have a rolodex filled with contacts, get yourself out there to meet people at writing conferences, workshops, critique groups, social networking sites, online chat boards, etc. A personal connection with an agent or editor at a writing conference, through mutual acquaintances, through a fellow writer's referral, or while stalking the agent or editor at a grocery store (okay, maybe stalking isn't a good idea) will suddenly take you from an unknown in the slush pile of doom to a solicited writer with a recognizable "I know you from somewhere" name.

Now, if your writing isn't up to par once you've networked your behind (or tail) off, well, it's not going to matter whom you know.... because agents and editors aren't biased to connections, they're biased to writing talent. Unless you're a celebrity (possibly Kevin Bacon?). So, perfect your writing craft before you network your behind off, because you'll need that behind to sit on while you're writing your masterpiece. Unless, of course, you're a multi-tasking trapeze artist who writes while dangling upside down from your knees, which in that case, you should have no problem getting a book deal or five.

So check out the Six Degrees of Separation theory for yourself. You never know, you may end up six degrees away from someone you'd never expect... case in point below:

*Best Wishes & Lipstick Kisses*

Labels: ,