Blog Hop: 8 Terrible Titles

So my lovely author friend Tasha Raulerson, whom I co-host a new webcast with, tagged me in a fun blog hop where essentially I just flip through my current manuscript and the first place my cursor lands, I need to take the phrase and that’s a new faux title for my book– EIGHT TIMES.

Could be fun. I’ll be brief though because I’m feeling a bit exhausted at the moment from my whirlwind past couple of months. But now I present to you the 8 TERRIBLE replacement titles for THE TRUTH ABOUT TWO-SHOES!

1) Arms Embraced Me
2) Overbearing Neck Kisses

(Okay…side note commentary– my book is NOT a romance. Totally anything but. There’s like one kiss. So this is…amusing/horrifying?)

3)  Freebles and Frobbles

(More commentary: OMG PERFECT!)

4) Between Taco Shell Crunching
5) Like A Scared Child
6) Sarcasm Were Gone
7) The Very Best Private School
8) Leslie Shook Her Head

(Final commentary: While #8 is fantastic, #3 probably takes the cake! But MAN #6 is the worst by far)

Well, that’s that! Since I just recently tagged people in another blog hop, I figured I’d just open this up to whoever wants to join the fun. If you do, let me know and I’ll link to your blog below.

My Biggest Announcement Ever + End of Pitch Wars Wrap-Up

I’ve been trying not to blog too much because I was having trouble keeping my current happenings a secret. But guys— I HAVE AN ANNOUNCEMENT!

And before you even think it– NO. I am not pregnant.

But my Book Baby is one step closer to being born. And I have news…

I HAVE AN AGENT!

Like a real one. A real literary agent! Like one who will represent, not only my book THE TRUTH ABOUT TWO-SHOES, but also my writing career as an AUTHOR!

(I may or may not have just done a victory lap around the cubicles in my office) So here’s how it happened…

The agent round for Pitch Wars arrived, and I was pumped. They featured my first 250 words and a 50 word pitch (view my entry here). But man, when I saw the other entries of my fellow Pitch Wars mentees— I was blown away!!! Everyone was so talented, I was suddenly so nervous I was going to be lost between the cracks.

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Ask my coworkers. I was a crazy mess. By lunch time, people already had like six requests and I had none. While super happy for many of my Pitch Wars friends, I began losing hope that Pitch Wars would be my way to an agent and figured I should start getting my queries ready to send out.

But then something amazing happened. Agents saw me. And loved me. In the end, I had five requests on the blog and two private “ninja agent” requests via Twitter. I was BLOWN away.

One Ninja Agent saw me only because my Pitch Wars mentor’s BFF Rachel Simon decided to tweet about my entry to support me. One of her agent sisters saw it and tweeted it as well. And as a result– their agent saw my entry too.

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Via Twitter DM, Carrie requested I query her and within a day asked for my full manuscript! I was on cloud nine!

After I got my seven requests via Pitch Wars, I sent a handful of queries out. Almost immediately I started getting requests for fulls. I was beyond flabbergasted. I’ve queried three other books before (given, none as awesome as THE TRUTH ABOUT TWO-SHOES. I revised this manuscript more than any other ones I’ve ever written), but I’ve never gotten so many responses.

In the end, I got 14 requests for further materials between querying and Pitch Wars. That’s a LOT of important people willingly reading my book.

And when I got my first offer and had to nudge the rest, it turned into an avalanche of both more requests, rejections, and calls. Two weeks after Pitch Wars’ agent round, I had seven phone calls with agents (six offers and one R & R). Carrie was my second offer, and I immediately clicked with her over the phone. She loved my book so much and had such great ideas for it. She also saw the other projects I was working on and was just as enthusiastic about those. At one point, she said the biggest compliment I’ve ever gotten in my life when she was talking about my talent as a writer: “I’d read your grocery list.”

But I talked with more agents, listened to their visions for my book, contacted many of their clients to see what it was like to work with them, and quickly learned that no two agents or agencies were the same. All the agents were fabulous and were so sweet to believe in my book. Making a decision was literally agonizing. Just ask the Hubs who ran out to get my ice cream one night so I could wallow while watching The Mindy Project as I tried to sort through each and every agent’s vision for my book.

But at the end of the two weeks, I couldn’t stop thinking about Carrie and how much we just clicked over the phone. So I called her up again with some more questions to make sure I felt the same way still and I DID!

And now I can finally announce that I am an author represented by Carrie Howland of the Donadio & Olson Agency!

And just FYI because I think it’s cool…that’s THE AGENCY WHO REPRESENTS CHUCK PALAHNIUK — THE AUTHOR OF FIGHT CLUB!

Carrie is so fantastic, and I am beyond thrilled to start working with her. This is an exciting new step in my author career, and I still can’t believe it’s happening.

Ironically enough, after her offer call, even though it was the second one and even though I didn’t know I was going to accept then, my neighbors and husband agreed we should celebrate since I didn’t get to really celebrate after the first offer because we already had plans that night– so we went out and got Chili Cheese Fries (because they are actually a part of my book lol).

So we are sitting there and my husband goes, “Wow. Did you realize you’re wearing a red cardigan today?” If you haven’t red my book, you don’t know that my main character wears the same red cardigan on occasion throughout her pregnancy despite how it gets tattered/doesn’t fit anymore.  I looked down at my cardigan and argued it was wine colored but he continued.

“I’m so telling people you wore a red cardigan eating chili cheese fries after that agent call.”
“Haha. Please don’t. People will think I’m weird.”
“Can I if you end up with this agent?”
“Uh..sure. I guess so.”

So, I’m beating him to the punch. Hey guys. As a weird as fate would have it, the night I talked to my future agent, I wore a red cardigan like my main character and ate her favorite food  (I swear none of this was planned lol).

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Thank you to everyone who helped me get here. Obviously Mom & Dad for encouraging my writing, and my husband Addison for letting me spend so much time these past few months working on nothing but my novel even though it meant the house was a pretty big mess. Thank you to my AWESOME Pitch Wars mentor Rachel Lynn Solomon for her help revising THE TRUTH ABOUT TWO-SHOES, her crazy awesome advice handling query/the calls, and putting up with my stressed out moodiness. Thanks to the beautifully awesome Brenda Drake for running and organizing contests like Pitch Wars. Thanks to my writer friends–both old and new– especially my trusty CP Emily who watched my brain explode constantly via Skype.

Oh and thanks to my cubicle neighbor for putting up with my incessant talking about all this stress. She’s wonderfully patient.

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I still can’t believe that my dreams are coming true! Stay tuned for further progress on this epic adventure <3

 

 

The Liebster Award: 10 Question Blog Hop

I was tagged by my new author friend Rachel Simon for the Liebster Award. I have to answer her ten questions about my work-in-progress and then tag some more people and give them my own questions. Since THE TRUTH ABOUT TWO-SHOES recently completed it’s agent round for Pitch Wars (more on that at a later date), I’m going to answer these questions about my newest projects…yes…plural. Why? Because I’m a crazy person in love with two different books and am writing them at the same time until one pulls ahead as the one I should focus on. Last night, I started leaning a little more one direction over the other, but it’s still too early to say.

But regardless, here are my to WIPs:  THE LIFE AND DEATH AND LIFE OF CRAIG and THE DAY I KNEW I’D BE MURDERED– both are  young adult contemporary thrillers.

1. Describe your current WIP in 6 words.

CRAIG: Doomsday-prepping foster kids running from druglords (I may have cheated by making drug lords one word. SUE ME!)

THE DAY: Boarding school girl tutors red-flagged sociopath

Read more about both of these here on my author site.

2. Who was the first fictional character you had a crush on?

I’m not sure I had too many of those. Maybe Gordo from Lizzie McGuire? I had a thing for nerds (still do!).

3. What authors would you like to do a panel with and why?

This is a hard one. I’d honestly be so humbled to be on any panel with other authors. I love meeting writers and hearing their process. It doesn’t really matter how successful they are or what they write. But for the sake of being optimistic, I’m going to say my author friends who currently have unpublished works that are close to making their debut (I’ll tag some of those lovely writers at the bottom of this so you can visit their blogs since I’m giving them the award too!).

4. What is your favorite beverage to have when writing?

Really depends on my mood. Currently it’s anything hot (probably because it’s on the verge of snowing every day now) whether it’s green tea, chai tea, mocha lattes, or hot chocolate.

5. What is your favorite beverage to have when revising?

I literally edit with a gallon jug of water next to my desk so I can stay hydrated. If I’m not hydrated, my brain cannot work at all. Like…it cramps. Like a charlie horse for my noggin. Not pretty.

6. If you could describe your main character as a candy, what would it be and why?

For CRAIG, l there are two main characters whose point of views are being shared:

The first is obviously Craig, the 17-year-old foster kid obsessed with doomsday prepping. He’d probably be a jawbreaker because he seriously believes he cannot die. Talk about an invincibility complex.

The second main character is Trust (short for Trustine), a 16-year-old foster kid who puts up with Craig because she doesn’t have many options for friends so she gets in on the doomsday prepping stuff for lack of a better thing to do. She’d probably  be a Ferrero Rocher– hard and prickly on the outside, but smooth and sweet once you get past her hard outer shell.

For THE DAY, the main character is a sophomore named Mia who was dumped at a super isolated boarding school while her parents travel the world on last minute notice. She’s a total word-vomiting empath without a filter, so her candy would probably be….eh… let’s just say old school Fun Dip. Just cuz. Those things always confused me as a kid, but I loved them anyway.

7. Did you ever change a character’s name (in any of your works)? And from what to what?

I did for once! Usually that’s something I never mess with. Once a character tells me his or her name, they’re stuck with it.  Francis Grace in THE TRUTH ABOUT TWO-SHOES was originally named Katie Beth until a coworker’s wife made some very valid points on why I should change it to Francis Grace, but those are unfortunately a secret. Maybe one day…

Oh and last night in THE DAY,  I changed a librarian’s name to Zeborah. You gotta trust me on this one, guys.

8. If you could describe your WIP in a song, what would it be?

I actually just picked a theme song for THE LIFE AND DEATH AND LIFE OF CRAIG the other night, and then added a second song to the playlist to get me started. The husband says the two songs don’t go together, but I don’t care. But here’s the theme song (for right now, at least):

THE DAY, doesn’t have a play list yet, but I’ll let you know when something hits me.
EDIT: No lie. Two seconds after I published this, someone recommended a song and I was like, “Eh. This works maybe.” So just in case:

9. What is your main character’s astrological sign?

I actually hadn’t entirely thought about that yet for either book, though I’m not really into those. But CRAIG opens on Trust’s birthday– though I’m still deciding on what time of year to make it in. So far I’m leaning toward August…so I guess whatever sign is for August people?

10. If you could re-cast your favorite movie for today’s audience, who would play who?

My favorite movie is the classic PRINCESS BRIDE and that thing was sheer perfection. I’d recast with all the original actors (including the ghost of Andre the Giant to play Fezzik) and have them do it all over again.

WHO IS NEXT?

Here some of my lovely author friends who deserve some love and are being tagged for the Blog Hop!

Emily Herring Dunn
Jessica Bloczynski 
E.G. Moore
Kathleen S. Allen
Mary Ann Nicholson 
Margarita Montimore

And for their Liebster Award, here are the 10 questions:

1) How did you come up with your WIP’s title?
2) What motivates you to write?
3) Do you find yourself putting past experiences in your book? Give an example!
4) What is your main character’s biggest obstacle?
5) What is your crutch word that you always have to go back and delete because you use it too many times?
6) Who is your author role model and why?
7) What happens in your favorite scene from your WIP?
8) Please share a favorite line from your manuscript!
9) Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year?
10) What advice do you have for other authors

Baby-Bola: The struggle is real

Beware: This post may be terrifying. 

It was subtle at first. The baby catcalls shouting, “You’re next!” The random pokes to the guts to “zap” some baby dust in there. But then, the we-want-you-to-have-babies-right-now disease spread in ways I couldn’t even begin to fathom or prepare myself for.

I was minding my own business in my cubicle when a lovely, dear friend and coworker of mine found her way to my desk. I stared up into her eyes, slightly terrified at the sight because…well…she somehow had procured a baby. In our office. Out of nowhere.

Note: I STILL DO NOT KNOW WHOSE BABY THIS IS.

And before I could even speak, she held him out to me and began rubbing his diapered butt all over me. “There,” she said with a sweet smile. “Now you’ll have a baby.”

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Apparently I missed a major key component of sex-ed in school growing up, because I certainly was unaware that one could catch pregnancy through the act of simply touching a baby…

But it wasn’t just her. It didn’t end there. The terror of my blatant misinformation continued.

One day, my darling Hubs and I went to visit another coworker friend to play cards. They recently had twins and of course we both took turns holding them. And since babies are just so darn cute, we couldn’t resist a photo op. I mean, just look at this little guy. Who could resist?

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But then a bizarre thing happened once I posted these simple pictures to the internet. It was like an outbreak of craziness infected our friends and family in cyberspace.

At first, we got the expected, “You’re next!” comments. But then things like “Congrats!” started trickling in, and I stared in horror at my computer wondering what the heck I was being congratulated on. For holding a cute baby? It’s really not that hard, people. Just find someone with an adorable little one and ask (though, it’s probably best if you know said person so you don’t, ya know, get arrested).

Then the disease spread further still. Comments left the photos to my actual Facebook wall. Dumbfounded horror slapped me across the face as I saw the words: “YAY! Saw you’re pregnant. Congrats!”

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I immediately deleted the friendly comment before anyone else could see and then further assume I was pregnant, and then I politely contacted the person to clear up the miscommunication.

But it didn’t stop.

I got IMs from family members asking me if I was pregnant because they heard from so-and-so that maybe I was and that someone said I posted pregnancy announcement pictures or something.

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And that’s why I’m here to warn you, oh dear young marrieds or anyone who, in fact, has two hands and can hold a baby. BEWARE. Use protection. And by that, I mean literal gloves on your hands– maybe even hazmat suits, because we have been gravely misinformed our whole stinkin’ lives.

You can get pregnant touching babies. That’s right. Skin to skin contact. Like Ebola.

And all this time I thought it was just sex! My bad. 

So if you see me glaring at you next time you ask me to hold your baby, please don’t be offended. I’m simply trying to protect myself from this contagious disease, which now sorta makes sense considering every single person I know on the planet is pregnant at the moment or posting baby pictures on Facebook.

In the mean time, Addison and I will only be making public appearances near bundles of joy if we get to put these bad boys on:

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**And for the record, because I know that for some inexplicable reason this still needs to be said even after some people read this: NO. I AM NOT PREGNANT. But I am terrified, so there’s that? **

#PitchWars the Musical Compilation

The actual agent round of Pitch Wars is tomorrow. To celebrate, I decided to put all my dorky “Pitch Wars the Musical” vlogs on here so people can point and laugh and forget about their crazy amounts of stress probably going to happen over the next couple of days.

But basically, every once in a while when stress was there, I decided to shake it off with a few rounds of over-dramatic parody singing. You’ll see what I mean.

From Broadway plays to Disney movies to loves songs and that one dark moment where I took on my first attempt at rapping (I’m sorry)— the playlist is below:

Why I Wrote My Book: A PitchWars Mentee Blog Hop

Many of the Pitch Wars mentees and alternates organized a fun blog hop for us all to kick off the agent round with a big bang, and I’m honored to get to participate. Not only should you read my post below, but feel free to hop around to the other amazingly talented writers being featured this week. Links below! Pitch-Wars-2014-logo-300x161-36758_240x161 The topic is an interesting one. Why did I write THE TRUTH ABOUT TWO-SHOES? I feel like there’s so many layers to this that I could either make it light hearted or super heavy. But the truth is– just like my book– the answer isn’t just one or the other. It’s a crazy mix of both. I had the idea for THE TRUTH ABOUT TWO-SHOES a couple years back, and its working title was something completely different (however, it was so bad, I won’t even share it lol). But overall the general concept on a shallow level had been on my mind for awhile. Even in 2007, I wrote a short monologue called “Baby, Baby” that was featured in a showcase called “Words of Choice” in New York. It was about an inner city teen whose abusive boyfriend left her after she was pregnant. Even though she was abandoned and even though she didn’t choose the situation, she couldn’t bring herself to abandon the baby.

A lot of that is in THE TRUTH ABOUT TWO-SHOES except I flipped the story on it’s head, made it about a a Mississippi pastor’s daughter whose perfect Christian boyfriend left her because she’s pregnant, and made it actually…well…funny.

So this idea had been bouncing around for awhile, and midway through this past year while I was working with my lovely editor friend, Katelyn Stark, on my YA light Sci Fi, THE CURED, I decided I needed a break. My editor at one point said, “Not going to lie. In a couple of places, your male MC has the voice of a teenage girl.”

Obviously I had a teenage girl voice inside me fighting to get out–which I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised considering I was one at one point (Also, fun fact: my MG novel was critiqued by an author in a contest and she too said, “Hmm..your 12-year-old MC sounds more like she’s 16. It was fate, I tell you!). My Pitch Wars mentor Rachel even said she couldn’t believe I had written sci fi before because I had a strong voice for contemporary.

So, it was time to take a breather from that story and start a new one. Basically, I had learned so much through the revision process for THE CURED paired with the other books I had recently written and thought, “Hey! Why not start a book with all my new knowledge!”

What happened to come from what I thought would be a month-long break was actually a whirlwind love affair with this book now entered in Pitch Wars. I didn’t even sit down thinking, “Yup. Finally going to write that book about that girl from that monologue.” It just sorta, well, happened. And then to my surprise– it came out pretty funny. I had so much fun writing the cast of characters and was beyond humbled when some betas compared it to FREAKS AND GEEKS. 

But when it came to the MC’s story arc, a lot of what I was exploring had to do with a conversation I had with friends over a particular topic (which, unfortunately, I can’t explain here in great detail because I would like some mystery to be surrounding the book for those who intend to read it). In that conversation, we all explained how we would handle it if it happened to us. I’m a pretty open, transparent person. I don’t really believe in secrets. I’d rather people see me and know what they get than to have to guess and wonder. But that got me thinking, especially after hearing other friends express their personal takes on if they had to encounter such a situation. I wanted to explore a character who was the complete opposite of me. Someone who would rather die than people know the truth, someone who values her privacy above all else, and someone who doesn’t care that people have the wrong idea of her.

And that’s how my MC Ellie was born. It was more of a fun, soul-searching exercise drenched in empathy to explore a different type of person. But then, it turned into a whole lot more. Over the past couple of months, I’ve really channeled a lot of personal frustrations regarding certain things that I won’t go into too much detail about here. The book took on layer upon layer of different issues–often in a comical way–and came out with something I thought was reminiscent about how life as a whole really is.

It’s not all happy.  It’s not all sad. And sometimes, what seems like the big issue isn’t really the main issue at all.

Why did I write THE TRUTH ABOUT TWO-SHOES? The story wanted to be told. The subject needed to be explored in a new, fresh way. And I honestly couldn’t NOT write it. It just sorta happened. And I’m glad it did. I love making people laugh and cry, but above all else, I just love writing. I hope people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Now if you were to ask me why I’m writing my next book, THE LIFE AND DEATH AND LIFE OF CRAIG-- well, that’s an entirely different story involving my neighbor who asked for me to write his semi-fictionalized autobiography. I accidentally started an entirely fictionalized YA thriller about doomsday prepping foster kids on the run from drug lords, but that’s sorta the same thing, right? Stay tuned!

Check out the links below to visit some of my fellow Pitch Wars mentees and their beautiful books.

Carleen Karanovic: HOPE ON A FEATHER

Heather Truett: RENASCENCE

Tracie Martin: WILD IS THE WIND

Susan Bickford: FRAMED

Rachel Sarah: RULES FOR RUNNING AWAY

Amanda Rawson Hill: GRIMM AND BEAR IT

Charlotte Gruber: CODE OF SILENCE

Kip Wilson: THE MOST DAZZLING GIRL IN BERLIN

Mary Ann Nicholson: CALAMITY

Nikki Roberti: THE TRUTH ABOUT TWO-SHOES

Anna Patel: EXODUS

K. A. Reynolds: LE CIRQUE DU LITERATI

Susan Crispell: WISHES TO NOWHERE

Ron Walters: THE GOLEM INITIATIVE

Rosalyn Eves: THE BLOOD ROSE REBELLION

Ashley Poston: HEART OF IRON

Mara Rutherford: WINTERSOUL

Janet Walden-West: Damned If She Do

Kazul Wolf: SUMMER THUNDER

D. Grimm: WITCHER

Kelli Newby: THORNVAAL

Tara Sim: TIMEKEEPER

Elliah Terry: POCKET FULL OF POPPIES

Alessa Hinlo: THE HONEST THIEF

Rachel Horwitz: THE BOOTLEGGER’S BIBLE

Whitney Taylor: DEFINITIONS OF INDEFINABLE THINGS

Lyra Selene: REVERIE

Natalie Williamson: SET IN STONE

Robin Lemke: THE DANCE OF THE PALMS

Stephanie Herman: CLIFF WITH NO EDGE

Shannon Cooley: A FROG, A WHISTLE, AND A VIAL OF SAND

Ruth Anne Snow: THE GIRLS OF MARCH

Elizabeth Dimit: PHOEBE FRANZ’S GUIDE TO PASSPORTS, PAGEANTS, & PARENTAL DISASTERS

Gwen C. Katz: AMONG THE RED STARS

Jennifer Hawkins: FALSE START

Kelly DeVos: THE WHITE LEHUA

Gina Denny: SANDS OF IMMORTALITY

Natasha M. Heck: FOLLOW THE MOON

Esher Hogan – Walking After Midnight

D.A. Mages: THE MEMORY OF OBJECTS