Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Twitter Teaser Tuesday!

Twitter Teaser Tuesday! If you want to play too, please tweet & entice us with an excerpt. #TTT

"She held out a fist and opened her fingers slowly, palm up. Bright, orange flames danced gaily in her hand. Like a moth attracted to the light, Ben couldn’t help but look over at his wife who had suppressed this gift for close to 13 years." #TTT

Monday, March 30, 2009

I Found My Happy Writing Place, but I Can't Afford It

I was at Homewood Winery in Sonoma, sitting outside on a tall, wooden table with an English lab gnawing on a pinecone at my feet. I was sipping sauvignon blanc, enjoying the sun on my skin, and gazing out at the newly-sprung flowers when it hit me: I could probably finish my novel if I had my laptop right then and there. I've found my happy writing place. Even though I've still got at least 60% of the book to write, I was inspired and content and fueled by the perfect weather in the perfect location.

Unfortunately, California wine country comes with a hefty price tag. What's your happy writing place?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

An Agent's Critique

I promised to keep you posted so here we go:

In February, I agonized for weeks over how many $1 "lottery tickets" I wanted to buy to win a manuscript critique by super-agent Mr. Stephen Barbara. The critique was worth A LOT to me because it'd be the first time a professional pair of eyes would read my story. With the economy the way it is though, I didn't want to spend too much. If it were an auction, at least I'd know that my $200 will either win me something or I would lose the bid, but get to keep my money. With a lottery on the other hand ... if you buy $200 worth of lottery tickets and your number doesn't come up, game over.

Anywho, I spent an amount I was comfortable with (if you're wondering, I did not spend $200) and on the night of the drawing, refreshed the results page like mad. To my extreme delight, I won and Mr. Barbara contacted me a couple days later. Wee!

I have to admit, a big part of me hoped that he would fall in love with my story and that the critique would turn into an offer of representation - a girl can dream, right?

Even though that didn't happen, I still bounced with joy over the feedback he gave me. BONUS: he said some very nice things:

"In terms of my critique, I think you have a big premise here and potentially, a novel with a strong chance to succeed in the market ... I also like your line by line writing."

Another SUPER-DUPER-BONUS: he recommended a handful of agents he thinks may like my story.

He was very kind, very professional, and as he listed the things I could work on, I nodded along. This was what I was hoping for: some direction.

Even though his feedback was my-novel-specific, I thought I'd share some of his great advice to help you with your writing.

1. To help improve pacing, he recommended that I read books by Eoin Colfer and Kenneth Oppel - authors he called "masters of tension." He stressed the importance of moving the story forward and establishing a strong and urgent sense of pace.

2. Avoid genre cliches - show readers something they haven't seen before! Got a gorgeous vampire in your story? A white wizard? Sprinkle them with *special* dust and make them edgy and different. Fantasy is a crowded market and you don't want to be "stale."

3. As your heroes get stronger toward the end of the book, be aware that there will be a lot less tension. To counter the strength of your protag, make the obstacles greater. Basically, the big, bad, nasty monster needs to grow, too. It'll make the battle at the end much more powerful.

Hope this helps you!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Twitter Teaser Tuesday!

I unofficially declare today & every Tues: Twitter Teaser Tuesday! If you want to play too, please tweet & entice us with an excerpt. #TTT

"With a laugh in his eyes, Christoph said, 'Girls will do that to you. Make you sweat out of places you didn’t even know you had.'" #TTT

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How Harry Potter Was Pitched to Editors

This video makes me giggle!

Editor: So her book's about a magic kid and he goes to school ...
Agent: *magic school*
Editor: And they do sports?
Agent: Oh yes.
Editor: Tennis?
Agent: No.
Editor: Football?
Agent: (pause) *magic football*
Editor: So what is the plot?
Agent: He's trying to avenge his parents' magic death!
Editor: Right.
Agent: *magic death*

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Two Awesome Guys Whose Names Begin With 'N'

Agent Nathan Bransford teaches about character arcs (really, really essential writing stuff, folks) and answers questions in a cool interview.

and! One of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, has a video interview on colbertnation.com! His prose makes my heart skip beats. If only I could write half as well as him ...

So what's up this week?

Did not make the ABNA cut, but am not too bummed about it. I think I prefer the traditional agent route anyway. On the query note, received a rejection on a query I sent in November and have not sent anymore out. Would love to, but am not in love with my query. Don't know if I ever will be. Still waiting to hear back from Ms. Cornier and Mr. Barbara. Have reached the 20,000 mark on FRIENDS WITH DEATH, but have not written anything new in two days. Signed up for a Match.com account (for my protag), but got overwhelmed by all the single boys.

Oh, and Happy St. Paddy's Day! I'm sorta bummed that the cafe is not serving brisket and cabbage. Hm. Green beer would make it better, but I don't know where I can get my little hands on some. I also completely forgot to wear green which is weird because I happen to own many a green things. On a happier note, it feels like Christmas! squee! Just learned about all the spiffy new iPhone OS 3.0 updates. Finally, foto text messaging and copy and paste! Hurrah!

Sunday, March 15, 2009


After all that I've learned from #queryfail ... I still queryfail.

I found a spelling mistake tonight on a query I sent to 3 agents.

Yes, I spell-checked, but the computer is not smart enough to know that I meant "form" and not "for."

This makes me very, very sad.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Hello! I don't have enough content to post a Friday Five, but Agent Colleen Lindsay tweeted a really cool blog that I wanted to share with y'all:


"The Public Query Slushpile: Writers, you can submit your queries to this blog. I'll post them, and then visitors can comment on each query. Hopefully they will leave encouraging feedback and constructive criticism. I'd like to think that at some point, a few agents and/or editors may start trolling these waters and find something they like in this Public Query Slushpile."

I threw caution to the wind and submitted my query for public consumption!

I've been agonizing over my query letters for two weeks now. Every time I get a rejection, I re-write. It's very sad. I currently have 5 queries written, but since it took me about 7 drafts each ... technically, I've written about 35 queries ... eep! Query 1 seems to be the most successful. It was the one that got me 2 partial requests from amazing agents. BUT, it was also the one I've used the most. Query 4 is freshly edited and the one I used to submit to the above blog. I decided to post it here, too. Let me know what you think if you get a chance!

Dear Agent,

With a pro-environemt motif similar to Carl Hiaasen's HOOT, THE UNICORN TAMER is Greek mythology meets Pokémon.

Try being 13 and discovering that your parents spent your whole life lying to you.

Try being 13 and having to deal with a kidnapped dad.

Try being 13 and learning that your mom - yeah, she can create fire with her bare hands.

When Emma Brown's dad mysteriously disappears, Emma is catapulted back to her birthplace - a dimension where fairies are anything but tales. In the wonderland called Drualtys, teenagers study to become Tamers - people who form unique bonds with legendary animals to save them from extinction. Through this bond, Tamers absorb the creatures' majick, special powers ranging from the ability to control lightening, run on water, or see through skin.

Emma embraces her taming lessons to rescue her dad from the Hunters, a ruthless clan of humans hell-bent on proving that man is the most powerful beast of all. Their mission: murder the creatures of Drualtys and steal their majickal abilities. The prize: a unicorn's cloak of invisibility. Together with her newfound friends, including a half-pixie who's too pretty for his own good and a whimsical boy who can talk to animals, Emma must stay one step ahead of the Hunters and save her dad and the unicorns - before she is hunted herself.

THE UNICORN TAMER is approximately 100,000 words and is the first in a middle-grade fantasy trilogy. Upon your request, I'd be more than happy to send you the complete manuscript.

I graduated from Santa Clara University with a Major in Communications and a Minor in Creative Writing. I worked on my university's literary magazine as well as a Children's Storyteller at Barnes and Noble.

Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work. I look forward to hearing from you.



Thursday, March 12, 2009

Waiting On A Full

The road to publishing is difficult and depressing. Shiny, happy BUT, it's also exciting! First kiss exciting!

I'm currently on my *first* full request and if you think waiting for a query or partial reply is agonizing, just wait till you're in the spot I'm in right now. Waiting for a reply on a full is COMPLETELY and UTTERLY different than waiting for a reply on a query or a partial. I'm no longer refreshing my Gmail every two minutes. I kind of don't want to ever open my Gmail again. The reason: because if the agent loved my full, I'd be getting a phone call, NOT an email.

Now you can see why Gmail and I currently aren't speaking.


* 1 full out
* 1 full crit out
* 12 rejected queries
* 4 no-answers
* 2 no-answers that probably mean no
* 7 agents that I really, really want to query
* 4 days till ABNA (Amazon Breathrough Novel Award) quarterfinalists are announced
* 9,000 words that need to be deleted from THE UNICORN TAMER
* 33,000 words that still need to be written to make my March wordcount goal for FRIENDS WITH DEATH
* 19 more days in March left
* 1,740 words need to be written a day
* 0 words written today (#writerfail)
* 9, on a scale of 1-10, on how much do I hate writing hooks? (with 10 being 'a lot')

Friday, March 6, 2009


I learned today that printing with an inkjet printer takes a VERY, VERY, VERY long time! Cry. I started at 3PM - thought I had plenty of time to print my whole manuscript out (380 pages/doublespaced) and make it to the post office before 5PM. Wrong. Printing was still going on at 5PM. Fail.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Can't. Pull. Myself. Away. From. Twitter!


Because it's #queryfail day!

RT @christinepuddin aspiring authors: today is #queryfail day! it's like a free "do not do" query class from agents - check it out!

The agents are really doing us a HUGE favor! Also, some of the #query fail tweets are HILARIOUS! So go, what are you waiting for? Go glue yourself to Twitter for day.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ahh, Book Research

You know what's on my writing-to-do-list for this week?

Sign-up for a Match.com account.

Not for me, no. I've been happily dating the same guy for 4 years. It's research for my book. I need to find my dying girl a boyfriend ASAP. Since my protagonist is under 18, she's not going to be picking up guys at a bar. So she's turning to the interwebs for true love. I'm not REALLY going to create an account but I'm going to go through the motions so I know what it's like.

This should be fun.