Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Gift to You

In case you haven't seen it yet... ENJOY!

This holiday season, enjoy yourself, your family, and most importantly, your food for after the First, we diet! See you next year!

Merry Christmas y ¡Buen Provecho!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

El fantástico book two: CAUGHT IN THE PARALLEL by Robin Brande

Oh, you lucky, lucky reader! Due to my need to fill up my word tank, I have another fantastic book to recommend. A sequel to my gushy review (yes, I'm a gusher) from last week's INTO THE PARALLEL. I present to you the equally lovable book two in the Parallelogram series: CAUGHT IN THE PARALLEL by the always wonderful and much anticipated Robin Brande. If you haven't finished book one yet, you may want to skip the following description to avoid spoiling some cliff-hanging surprises.

SPOILER ALERT: From In a desperate move to save her parallel self from certain death, high school science genius Audie Masters managed to bend the laws of physics. But now she’s trapped in the wrong universe, with no sign that her scheme to save her alternate self, the famous teenage explorer and adventurer Halli Markham, actually worked.Until she can sort out the physics of what went wrong, Audie has to pretend to be Halli–and fool everyone from Halli’s parents to the guy who’s in love with her. And meanwhile there’s her own life Audie would like to reclaim, including Daniel, the only one who knows the truth about who she really is. Is Halli still alive? If so, where is she? And can Audie ever find her way back to her own universe, her own family–her own life?

ALERT END. Whew! Now you may read on for a spoiler-free review.

When reading a series, you oft times expect book two to be the weakest. Not with Robin Brande at the helm. Book two is every bit as brilliant as the first one! Smarter, more romantic and fantastical, and new, just as authentic teen characters as before.  Ms. Brande displays her world building chops by taking us to another dimension, all while showing how this new world and what is happening in it is all technically possible through real quantum physics. I was so invested in the story and characters from the first book, that I hit the ground running with this one, starting it at 8pm Friday night and finishing by 11am Saturday morning. The story never slows, but propels you further into a new world full of questions and betrayals - you never know who to trust. Since Audie doesn't know what's going on, neither do we, so we get to experience that most wonderful aspect of reading - the joy of discovery. And Ms. Brande serves it up expertly, delivering new discoveries and newer, more perplexing questions, setting us deliciously up for book three. I cannot wait!!

The e-book edition is available now for $4.99 from Smashwords (which supports all e-book and PDF formats), Kindle, and Nook. The paperback edition will be out shortly. You can even visit for an excerpt. But I say skip it and go right for the whole book - you won't want to stop reading.

Wishing you happy reading this Christmas season, and as always, ¡Buen Provecho!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

¡El Libro Más Fantástico! INTO THE PARALLEL by Robin Brande

Every time Robin Brande comes out with a new book, my heart jumps. I love her writing; it's like wrapping yourself in a soft blanket on a chilly night - warm and comforting. So with great pleasure, I introduce you to INTO THE PARALLEL, book one of her new Parallelogram series. And what a great kickoff it is!

From High school senior and amateur physicist Audie Masters has discovered what no other physicist has been able to prove: that parallel universes do exist, and there is a way to journey into them. She also discovers something else: a parallel version of herself, living the kind of life Audie never could have imagined for herself. Now Audie is living that life, too, full of adventure, romance, and reality-bending science. It’s all more than she could have hoped for–until something goes wrong.

As usual, Robin Brande's spot-on teen voice rings true and pulls you back to those wonderful, confusing and arduous times. Her characters leap off the page and into your heart. Audie's whip-smart comments and heart-felt honesty left me in tears more than once. And smart only begins to describe not only the main character, but also the writing. The science used here is grounded in real quantum physics and related in a way even I could understand. I felt my IQ rise from page one: after reading, I understood more of the jokes on the Big Bang theory. The romance is clever, never condescending, and had me falling in love right along with Audie. The only negative - having to wait for the next book to satisfy this cliffhanger of an ending. And I mean that in the best way possible. I simply cannot sing enough praises for this wonderfully imaginative, smart, and exciting YA novel. This will make a perfect gift for that beautiful, smart girl in your life. Even better - for you!

INTO THE PARALLEL is available as an e-book for $4.99 from Smashwords (supports Kindle, ePub, and other formats), Kindle, and Nook, and as a paperback for $13.98.

More than ever, happy reading and ¡Buen Provecho!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Research and Replenish

NaNoWriMo has left me a wordless hunchback with carpel tunnel syndrome. Since I have depleted both my fortitude and willingness to summon words this week (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!), let me direct you back to Miss Snark's Bakers Dozen Auction. Bidding has closed, but you can still get an eye-full of what agents are looking for; an easy way to research which agents will be a good fit for your work. Chances are your genre is represented, from YA to adult, fantasy/scifi to literary. Go see what grabs an agent's bids and attention.

As for me, I will replenish this week by drinking from my most favoritest word-fountain of all time: Lord of the Rings.

In regards to whether or not I reached my NaNo goal:

Happy writing and ¡Buen Provecho!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Baker's Dozen starts Fri!

While I finish up NaNoWriMo (so close!) here's a little something from Miss Snark's First Victim Baker's Dozen. Make sure you you take a good look at her auction; it's a great way to see what agents are looking for. Your book may be next!

Happy writing and ¡Buen Provecho!

The 60 winning entries for our Baker's Dozen Auction will post THIS FRIDAY! You're in for a treat.

I'll be posting all the itty-bitty details about the auction on Thursday. In the meantime, here are a few important tidbits:

  • Critiquing may begin IMMEDIATELY. I will ask you to hold off on critiquing during the actual bidding window next week.
  • WINNERS: If you see any formatting issues or want to change anything once you see your post, please email me at facelesswords(at) WITH THE TITLE OF YOUR NOVEL IN THE SUBJECT LINE. I will make the changes.
  • NON-WINNERS: I will be posting instructions on how to submit your excerpt to one of our 10 guest blogs for public critique. Please remember that this is OPTIONAL; you don't have to participate if you don't want to.

I'm excited! Spread the word to your writing friends and communities; this is going to be wonderful to watch as well as to participate in. The posts are already in the queue and ready to post automatically. I'm finally getting to the point where I can sit back and watch things unfold.

Well, almost. A few more emails and last-minute details. Then the fun will begin!

Another word of thanks for your donations, too. Just a reminder that all donations from this point forward will go to admin. I'm going to be placing the book order for my library this week, so I can no longer accept donations for books.

You can donate at any time during the auction. Again, thank you. I am repeatedly humbled by your generosity.

Okay -- onward! Many sparkles ahead.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Week Four Nano: Oh, What a Lonely Boy

For those of you too young to know the reference, Lonely Boy is a song from 1976 by one of the decade's many one hit wonders, Andrew Gold. Ok, he was a two hit wonder, responsible for the Golden Girl's TV show theme, Thank You For Being A Friend. Kinda fits with what I have to say today.

This week, week four for NaNoWriMo, I hit a word wall. I knew it was coming, but I didn't know how to climb over it. That's when I discovered week three's enemy: solitude. Writing can be a lonely business - just you alone with your thoughts, worlds, and characters.

But a good friend gave me a lift up over that wall. She is the Book Babe, Faith Hochhalter. If you don't know her, you should. Here is a wonderful blog interview with her by the equally wonderful and soon to be published Shannon Messenger. Included is a chance to win a critique from the fabulous Book Babe herself. Go now. Well, maybe wait until the end of this, which is coming quick.

Last Sunday, I complained to Faith that I didn't think I could still get my word goal out for that day. A lazy Sunday afternoon and frenzied writing don't always mix.

All Faith did was tell me I could. 'All'. Like that's a little thing. It's not. It's huge. And it made the biggest difference for me. I hit my goal that day and the days following. I'm at 42K words. Only 8K left to go and a week to do it. I CAN do this.

And so can you.

Faith - Thank for you being a friend. See? I told you it would fit :)

Don't be afraid to seek support. We all need it. It can change everything.

Good writing and, this week especially, ¡Buen Provecho!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Week Three Nano Enemy: Yaaaaawn.

I have met mine enemy and it is boring. My enemy isn't boring; boring is my enemy.

This week, I got so bored with my story! The characters felt stale, the plot stagnant, all the evidence pointing to my failure as a writer. But perusing the NaNoWriMo website, I saw I wasn't alone. Looks like week three has a common enemy. Since I'm writing by the seat of my pants and doing it as fast as I can (re: writing without thinking too much), I decided to shake things up a bit.

First, I shot my main character. Totally didn't see that coming.

Then, I switched two characters' roles. I made the bad one good (sort of) and the good one bad. The good one had been getting on my nerves anyway. He acted a bit too good, more annoying than endearing, if you know what I mean. Now he has purpose.

In switching the roles, I ended up with a hidden, inter-dimensional conspiracy. Now we're cooking!

Week one enemy: Inner Critic. Goal met.
Week two enemy: Inner Editor. Goal met.
Week three enemy: Boredom. Goal meeting.

I learned that when boredom hits, do something crazy. When Erin Morgenstern got tired of her NaNo-novel, she sent her characters to the circus. And now we have her stellar debut book, The Night Circus.

Don't be afraid to let your story take you somewhere unexpected. You may just end up on a best-seller list.

Good writing and ¡Buen Provecho!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New NaNo week, new NaNo Enemy

Participant_120_200_whiteOk, here I am, week two, day nine of National November Writing Month. And I'm still writing. A lot. At least for me. NaNo recommends a goal of 1667 words a day to reach 50,000 words by the end of the month. I set my personal goal at 2500 per day: a morning session of 1250 and an evening one of 1250. That way it would take me 20 days and I could take off weekends plus Thanksgiving and Black Friday (a holiday all its own).

But like all writers, I learned to be a little more flexible. A good writer is nothing if not flexible. 

So, when evening writings turned into late nights, I changed them to early afternoons right after lunch until it's time to pick up the first round of school goers. (We have three. Rounds, not kids.)

That worked, and it worked really well. So I wrote right after breakfast and right after lunch. Having a full belly appears to give me super human typing speed and strength against the writer's natural enemy: the inner critic. Sounds like a good excuse for eating, so I'll take it. Toss in few more words over the weekend (flexiblility wins again after sick child stayed home from school on Friday) and week one goal met. Yay me!

This week has started just fine. Met my daily goal so far. But I met a new enemy as well. Now not only am I fighting my inner critic, but my INNER EDITOR. I want so badly to go back and fix, add, read, etc. what I've already written, that I'm endangering all the new words that want to get out. This is a rookie mistake not uncommon for a first time nano-er like me, but I am determined not to look back. Writers look forward, at least on a first draft.

To recap:

Week one enemy: Inner Critic. Goal met.
Week two enemy: Inner Editor. Goal meeting.

I can't wait to see who I meet week three.

So if you're nanoing and facing the same temptations to edit that I am, it's time to refocus and remember that its National Novel Writing Month, not Editing Month. Be patient. That time will come. We'll rename Jan, Feb, and March NaNoEdMos. Because editing is what separates the writers from the wannabees.

The best news? I'm enjoying writing again and for that alone, I'm happy I'm nanoing. Hope you are, too!

Good writing and ¡Buen Provecho!

NaNo Writer Workout Wish!

I wish this really worked:


Then maybe only thing moving this month wouldn't just be my fingers. But darned if I don't have the most beautifully fit fingers in the neighborhood! Well, next to the concert pianist down the street :)

That is all.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bigger Steps

Participant2_180_180_whiteGuess where all those baby steps from my last post led me this week? Straight to NaNoWriMo. For those who don't know, this is National Novel Writing Month. That's where writers, both professional and amateur, buckle down and write 50,000 words in 30 days. It's not too late to start, either - join us here!

In my last post, Wee Steps, I mentioned that the words were not coming easily. So I took baby steps in getting them out by writing letters to friends. That way I didn't have to worry about quality or quantity, I only had to get them out.


With nanowrimo, the emphasis is squarely and totally on word count. Quantity over quality. And it was the perfect next step to take.

I had a general story line in mind, complete with flexible log line and opening sentence. But beyond that, I have no idea what's going to happen. This is a total pantsing experience. Not the kind where some bully pulls down your pants in front of everyone, - though sharing what you write feels eerily similar - but the not having an outline kind. Plot vs Pants. For me, for this one, it's completely by the seat of my pants. Does thinking about it before I fall asleep count as plotting? Prolly not.

So I set a daily word goal of 2500, breaking it into a morning run of 1250 and an after-the-kids-are-in-bed-hopefully-before-midnight one also of 1250. And wouldn't you know? I hit it. And in just over an hour each time. It's amazing how fast you can write when you aren't shedding blood, sweat, or tears over every word (and then end up changing them anyway once you start editing). But that's the whole point of nanowrimo - silencing your inner critic.

I have never written so much in so little time. I'm actually starting to believe that I'll have a whole book by November 30th.

The best part is that under all those words, a story is starting to emerge.

And I can't wait to see how it ends!

¡Buen Provecho!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday Writer Workout Tip: Wee Steps

That's right, wee. Not Wii. As in baby. Baby steps. Baby steps on the bus. 10 points if you know what movie that's from!

But seriously. There are those days when baby steps are the equivalent of leaps and bounds. Like when the workout, or the words, just won't happen. Notice I didn't say can't. Can't implies that the workout/words are out of our control, and they are not. But some days are definitely harder than others.

Right now, I just can't, um, I mean won't, pick up another Wii remote or play one more game of tennis. Or even look at a treadmill. Or an exercise bike. Or yoga video. Get the picture?

I also won't open one more note book or type another consonant or vowel, let alone string them together to form an entire word.

This is where the baby steps come in.

The quantity isn't always the goal, workout or writing. These days, for me, it's not even the quality. It simply is the doing. The baby steps.

Get Shape With Skechers Shape-ups and Kim KardashianSo my baby steps for working out are donning my spiffy new Shape Up shoes
and parking in the furthest spot at the Wally World. Or the grocery story. Or the library. Getting the picture again?

My baby steps for words: letter writing. Connecting with friends I haven't written in a while, electronic or otherwise. That way my words don't have to be perfect, or even correct. They can just be.

And you know the funny thing about baby steps? They grow.

So take a baby step with whatever you're struggling to do. You never know where you'll end up.

¡Buen Provecho!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

And Now for Something Completely Different

Me at the Happiest Place on Earth with my Nightmare Before Christmas Mickey ears and a white chocolate and caramel apple Jack. I may not eat for a week.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Agents Revealed!

This week, Ms. Snark revealed the agents for her annual Baker's Dozen Auction. And what a list it is! If you have a finished MS, you must get involved with this. It's an opportunity akin to a writer's conference without the travel and expense. I can't wait!!

Posted: 03 Oct 2011 05:00 AM PDT
Our list is official, and I'm pleased to announce this year's sparkling array of agents.

The 2011 Baker's Dozen Agent Auction participating agents:

1. Jenny Bent (Bent Agency)
2. Laura Bradford (Bradford Literary)
3. Danielle Chiotti (Upstart Crow)
4. Sarah Davies (Greenhouse Literary)
5. Josh Getzler (Hannigan Salky Getzler)
6. Weronika Janczuk (Franklin and Siegal)
7. Melissa Jeglinski (Knight Agency)
8. Sarah LaPolla (Curtis Brown)
9. Jennifer Laughran (Andrea Brown)
10. Lauren MacLeod (Strothman Agency)
11. Victoria Marini (Gelfman Schneider)
12. Ammi-Joan Paquette (Erin Murphy)
13. Tamar Rydzinski (Laura Dail)
14. Kari Stuart (ICM Talent)
15. Danielle Svetcov (Levine Greenberg)
16. Michelle Wolfson (Wolfson Literary)

In addition to being on the auction block, all 60 entries will receive critique from an editor and a published author.

The Editors:

Gabrielle Harbowy of Dragon Moon Press, adult

Sarah Shumway of Katherine Tegen Books (Harper Collins), YA/MG

The Authors:

Nancy Bilyeau, author of THE CROWN, a historical thriller set in Tudor England, to be published by Simon and Schuster's Touchstone in January 2012, and six foreign countries. adult

Amanda Sun, author of INK WASH, the first in a YA paranormal series set in Japan, debuting in late 2012 by Harlequin Teen. YA/MG

And of course all the entries will also be open to critique by our entire blog community as well.

Let's have a huge round applause for this magnificent collection of talent and energy!

Next week is October break, which means a house full of kids and a sky full of autumn. Yes, we do have autumn here in Phoenix. It's that special time of year marked by the changing of colors of licence plates. So, stay tuned for something completely different.

¡Buen Provecho!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Logline Love

Writing is hard work, but to quote a friend, of the two, it's often more work than hard.

And nothing's harder than condensing 80,000+ words down to 100 words that include all the where's, what's, why's, who's, and how's: the logline. Except maybe the query, but that's another post for another time.

A logline is a one~two sentence description of your book, something you should be able to pitch while riding in an elevator with your dream agent. It could happen. Hey, we're writers - we dream big. The logline must have character, conflict, stakes, and a good hook to work. To see my latest attempt, take a look at the logline/elevator pitch tab at the top of my blog. Be gentle.

This week started the call for logline submissions over at Miss Snark's for critique. Don't worry if you missed it - there are two more rounds. But get over there and give a little logline love. Because the best way to improve editing your own work, is to edit someone else's:
I submitted mine to Ms. Snark's, but was not randomly chosen and posted for critique. But I will try again next week. Or even the week after that. Getting critiqued makes my tummy hurt. Writing hurts. But what great endevors don't? Good luck to all who enter and good eats!

¡Buen Provecho!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Book Review: The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann. Mucho Wanted!

New York Times bestseller Lisa McMann has done it again! Her newest release, THE UNWANTEDS, should definitely be on your most wanted list.

UnwantedsEvery year in Quill, thirteen year olds are sorted into three groups: the Wanteds, the Necessaries, and the Unwanteds. Wanteds go on to university, while Necessaries go to work. And the Unwanteds? They are purged. Permanently. Yes, that means exactly what you and everyone else in Quill thinks. Until identical twins Alex and Aaron are sorted. Aaron is declared Wanted, while Alex is deemed Unwanted. But being permanently purged isn't what it used to be: Alex and the other Unwanteds find themselves rescued by the so-called Death Farmer in his hidden magical land where all who have the creative talents that had doomed them back in Quill, now can work real magic. Real dangerous magic if needed, and boy, does it become needed when Quill discovers the magical land and hits it with everything they have, including Alex's twin, Aaron, leading the charge.

THE UNWANTEDS is an imaginative, fast-paced, fun read that will make you forget it's meant for a middle grade audience. Lisa McMann weaves a classical fantasy feel with today's demand for high octane action. The fantastical elements reminded me of Nickelodeon's excellent series, Avatar, The Last Airbender. You'll meet a cute but deadly squirrelicorn, an Art-teaching octogator named Ms. Octavia, and, my personal favortie, Jim, the winged turtle. Funny, poignant, and, at times, heart-wrenching, THE UNWANTEDS is a showcase for how modern MG fantsay should be done.

Go read, now. And together we can wait for the sequel. While you're wating, be sure to check out Lisa McMann's other titles: The WAKE trilogy (WAKE, FADE, and GONE) and CRYER'S CROSS. You can visit her at or follow her on facebook, twitter, and Vyou.

¡Buen provecho!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Action! Oops, I mean Auction! The only difference is U.

Get your manuscripts ready - it's almost time for Miss Snark's Second Annual Baker's Dozen Agent Auction. Yes, Auction. As in agents placing bids. On YOUR work! Here's the skinny:

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 07:28 AM PDT
Here it is, folks.  (Yes.  It was either force myself to get uber-organized, or curl up in a corner and pluck my eyelashes out.) Mark your calendars!


Each Baker's Dozen entry is required to have a logline.  We will have 3 critique rounds for those of you who would like feedback on your loglines prior to submitting.  These rounds will be run as lotteries.  Times TBA.

ROUND 1:  Tuesday, September 27
ROUND 2:  Tuesday, October 4
ROUND 3:  Tuesday, October 11


ADULT ROUND 1: Tuesday, October 18 (100 entries)
ADULT ROUND 2:  Thursday, October 20 (100 entries)
YA/MG ROUND 1:  Tuesday, November 1 (150 entries)
YA/MG ROUND 2:  Thursday, November 3 (150 entries)


25 adult category winners notified via email:  Monday, November 14
35 YA/MG category winners notified via email:  Monday, November 21

60 WINNING ENTRIES POSTED:  Friday, December 2

AUCTION GOES LIVE FOR AGENTS:  Tuesday, December 6 (for 24 hours)


  • There will be an $8 entry fee for this contest.  Payment will not be required until after your submission goes through (so you're not, yanno, paying for nothing).
  • A maximum of 500 entries (200 adult, 300 YA/MG) will be accepted.  Of these, 60 winners will be chosen (25 adult, 35 YA/MG).
  • If the maximum number of adult entries isn't reached, the remainder will be added to the YA/MG entry maximum (because you know as well as I do that I'm going to be inundated with kidlit).
  • The 60 winning entries will receive critique from editors, authors, and blog readers, in addition to being on the auction block for our participating agents.
  • The (up to) 440 non-winning entries will be given the option to receive critique on participating blog sites after the auction has closed.
  • A percentage of the fee is earmarked for a donation of YA/MG books to my local library (which, sadly, has one of the worst selections of YA/MG I've ever seen).  Given anonymously, of course. *grin*
  • Currently, we have 14 agents who have given us a firm YES.  And 2 amazing editors.  Names of participating agents (and critiquing editors and authors) will be posted as soon as they are finalized.
  • Just a reminder that there will be no Secret Agent contest in November.  October's SA will run as planned.  And, yes.  You may enter the October SA and still submit to the Baker's Dozen auction. Unless you win the SA contest, of course.
Whew!  Please let me know if I've forgotten anything.  (But please don't ask specific submission questions.  I'll be posting detailed submission instructions later.)

Spread the word.  Invite your friends.  And start working on your loglines!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wednesday Writer Workout Wii Tip

It's Wednesday. Are you moving? Everyday? Ok, me neither. But I'm trying. I aim for 4 days a week so that I move more days than I don't. I am noticing small changes. The pews at church don't hurt as much. I can stand more comfortably for longer periods of time. And I'm getting this little bump above my elbow that the doctor assures me is a triceps muscle. Now I'm focusing on the great divide, the ponderosa spread, the wide load – what I affectionately refer to as Writers' Butt. Believe it or not, I can minimized it, and maximize it, in all the right place with a simple step added to the Wii workout.

TIP: This tip works best when playing 9 holes of wii golf. In between holes, do 10 deep knee lunges, five on each leg. By the time you get to the last (ninth) hole, you'll have done 80 lunges! Believe me, you'll feel it the next day. And the next time you do it, it'll be worse, but I promise it gets better after that. You'll work muscles you didn't even know you had! Don't forget to stretch.

Now if I could just stop eating the kids' leftover pizza crusts.

¡Buen Provecho!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Submit for Crit: Ms. Snark's

This is only a (beta) test :)

If you're looking for feedback on your work, here's a call for some of your more dialogue heavy words (250 to be exact) courtesy of the fabulous Ms. Snark's First Victim. If you haven't checked out her blog, get over there now. Many a writer has been picked up by an agent here, so polish up your WIP. Submission open tomorrow (9/7) at 9am EST. Here's the skinny:

Posted: 06 Sep 2011 05:55 AM PDT
Okay, this is going to be fun!  (No, I promise!)

Michael Extraordinaire wants to be sure that everything's running smoothly by the time the Baker's Dozen submissions open (next month!).  So we're running a live test right here on the blog.

Best part?  It's still going to be a real critique!  So please only enter work on which you would like to receive feedback.

FUN THING NUMBER ONE:  This round is going to be a LOTTERY!  That is, everyone who submits will receive a lottery number.  Once the submissions close, the bot will randomly choose the winners.  These winners are the ones whose entries will be included in the crit round.

FUN THING NUMBER TWO:  Our submission web form is ALIVE AND WELL! So for this round, you will have the option of using email or the web form, whichever works best for you.  (We need to test widely, so please don't feel compelled to only use the web form.)

FUN THING NUMBER THREE:  Plain text in emails is no longer necessary!  When you receive your lottery number, you will also receive a link to preview your entry.  So you'll get to see exactly what it will look like BEFORE it goes live.  (If your entry is chosen, naturally.)

FUN THING NUMBER FOUR:  Italics will work in the web form!  Instructions are included in the form.


Email:  authoress.submissions(at) (same as always)
Web form:

With me so far?  Yay!!

Here are the submission guidelines:

1.  Submissions will open tomorrow at 9:00 am EDT and will close at 3:00 pm EDT.  All entries will receive a lottery number.
2.  At the close of the submission window, the bot will choose 10 winning entries.  All winning entries will receive email notification.  Winning numbers will also be posted on the blog.
3.  The crit:  Talking Heads!  Please submit a 250-word excerpt from your novel (completed or in progress) that is heavy on the dialogue.  Please include a BRIEF lead-in sentence to help drop us into the scene.  (You will be allowed 30 extra words for this.)

The format:


SCREEN NAME: (type it here)
TITLE: (type it here)
GENRE: (type it here)

(type your lead-in here IN ITALICS)

(type your 250-word excerpt here)


Follow the instructions on the web page.

So there it is. Go for it - you have nothing to lose and lots to gain. We'll talk more about the importance of critiquing, both giving and recieiving, another time. Until then...

¡Buen Provecho!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday Writer Workout: Wii!

Now that the kids are all back in school, and the lazy days of summer have come to a screeching halt, it's time for me to get moving again. Yes, it's so hot here in Phoenix, that we move as little as possible June through August. Sometimes into September. But my on-the-wrong-side-of-forty writer's body can't wait. So move I must.

As much as I believe in walking, the air here is awful. This summer's haboobs (it's a monstrous dust storm, but much more fun to say haboob) didn't help. And with high gas prices, driving to the mall just to walk is not doing my wallet any favors. Neither does the gym. My solution: I head to the Costco, stock up on AA batteries, and plug in the Wii.

You'd be surprised at what a good workout you can get from a video game. I prefer the original Wii Sports, which you can buy separately now for $20. First, I use my right hand to play Wii fitness, then a best three out of five tennis match, power hitting baseball, and finish up with a round of golf or ten frames of bowling. Next, I switch to my left and start all over again. The whole thing takes a good hour, and for the first week, my arms kill me. But I'm moving and feeling better. And discipline in one area (working out) spills over into another (writing). Now I'm ready to sit and write.

TIP: do not measure this workout on the scale. Muscle weighs more than fat. Use a measuring tape or how your clothes fit. I can tell it's working for me because now my shorts no longer cut off the circulation to my brain. Another writing plus!

Come move with me. If you don't feel better, I'll treat you to a zumba class.

¡Buen provecho!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

¡TMI ay ay!

I've come to conclusion that my novel is a bad first date. You know, that date that gives way too much information up front and sends you running from the restaurant? The one you follow up with an uncomfortable text a few days later, if at all? I've been on that date. Heck, I've been that date. These days that text has been replaced by the rejection letters I've received for my book. Thankfully, that can be fixed.

Greater minds than mine have said that the first fifty pages of a first novel are more for the author than the reader and usually can be cut.

:::hanging head, raising hand:::

My bad habit tells me I have to give my reader all the information upfront so they can understand what's going on, why it's so important, and what to expect next. But half the fun of reading is DISCOVERY. I'll say it again: DISCOVERY.

Harry Potter wouldn't have been as satisfying if we knew that Snape (SPOILER ALERT) had loved Lilly so much that he was really protecting Harry all along. Nor Star Wars if we had known from episode one (the REAL one - for you youngsters, that would be episode four) that Darth Vader was Luke's father. Ok, that one's a movie, but it still works.

So I'm taking a good hard look at my first fifty pages. Maybe the history of the breaking of the world doesn't need to be there. Or how Wind, Water, Heat and Cold came to be. Or my main character's lineage. Yet. Giving all your information up front, while important for the writer to know, makes for a boring read. I not only want to hold the attention of my reader, but my agent, editor, and pubilsher as well. Even more so given that this is my first book.

But I got better at dating. So if I can get married, I can get published.

For more information on better beginnings, check out:
HOOKED by Les Edgerton, and

¡Buen Provecho!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Review: OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy. Mazel Tov to a wonderful read!

First of all, welcome back after what I hope was a wonderful summer for all! Be glad you weren't here: we are still hitting temperatures of 115 this week. Where ever you are, enjoy the weather - its got to be better than the Arizona desert.

Back to business.

I have a wonderful debut novel from a Phoenix author to recommend. Highly. OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy is about fourteen-year-old Ellie who was born to argue, especially with her beloved Zeydeh (Jewish grandfather). So speech and debate became her likely passion, until she meets a young man at speech camp with her same gifts and talents. Did I mention he was hot? Complicating the issue of first love is that she is at a Christian speech camp. As her Zeydeh says, "We've been arguing with Christians for two thousand years. You have to go to camp to argue more?" Furthermore, she's competing for a scholarship to a prestigious high school she desperately wants to attend and cannot afford. But when the scholarship's benefactor, the hot young man's grandmother, makes it clear that being Jewish is certainly not going to help her, Ellie must decide if she's willing to hide her Jewish identity, and outspoken Zeydeh, in order to get what she wants. Oy vey!

I loved this book! Amy Fellner Dominy captures the realistic casualness of having parents from two different backgrounds, when you don't strongly identify with one side over the other. I didn't have a Zeydeh, but I had a Tata (Mexican grandfather). I wasn't half Jewish like Ellie, but half Mexican. So, like Ellie, people couldn't always tell exactly who/what I was. Dominy expresses precisely what can happen when people assume you're something you're not, and how easy it is to allow them to, especially when you're afraid that you may be something they may not like. Or hate. The pressure, and temptation, to conform is so strong in teens (and, let's admit it, in adults, too) that this story is a tale for everyone. There are no stereotypes here, just complex characters interacting with one another. Ellie is a wonderfully realistic young teen. She knows what she wants and how to get it, but eventually realizes she can't live with that. And she shouldn't have to. I cheered for her at her big moment as will everyone reading it. OyMG is faced-paced, well told, funny, and poignant. And while you're being entertained, you just might learn a thing or two without even knowing it. So don't be a meshuggina, go get yourself a copy today.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Choices: Death and New Life at Comicon

We make choices everyday. And each time, a little piece of us dies. Take heart: that death always results in new life. A small sacrifice so that another part may live and flourish. And no death is ever permanent. I learned that at, of all places, Phoenix Comicon.

Fifteen years ago, when my first child was born, I chose to quit work and devote myself to raising my new family.  No matter what choice I made at that time, some part would have died - if I'd chosen not to have kids, it would have been a different part; or chose to work after having kids, RIP to another part. There's no escaping death in choice. So with this huge decision came the unavoidable death. However, this part of me died not with sadness, but relief. For this part was tired, and it embraced, even celebrated, the rest.

For years after, this part of me, the social, working, adult-interacting, feedback-receiving part, laid so low, I forgot it was there. Until I worked Comicon.

The minute I donned the business casual, did my hair, put on some makeup, and reported for duty, this part roared back to life. It felt good, too, better than I can remember feeling in a long time.

Not the same 'better' as holding a newborn, or even cuddling with hubby on the couch watching our favorite show, but an older, different 'better'. A 'better' that everyone, especially a mom, should never feel guilty about enjoying. For one weekend, I did something I loved and was relatively good at. I was complemented, thanked, and asked to do more. I wasn't somebody's mother, somebody's wife, somebody's cook, laundress, driver, etc.

I was just.


These are the type of choices we all make, not just in life, but in writing as well. For us, for our characters. Our/their choices define who we/they are. And that's what's going to keep your readers interested. Don't be afraid of the hard choices: they're the most entertaining. Yes, you will lose something, but you may gain something else you didn't even know you wanted. A new life. And like notoriously back from the dead comic book characters, nothing dies forever.

I don't know if that part of me will ever get the chance to be revived again, so I'm just going to choose to be grateful that it happened at all. Thanks, Phoenix Comicon Guest Relations crew!

And now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

PS Comicon was also a great workout - I lost five pounds! Now to keep it off...

PPS No were-jaguars spotted at Comicon. Maybe in the years to come :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

El Comicon del Phoenix

First of all, I'm sorry for not having posted recently. But I'm happy to explain why: it's time for the PHOENIX COMICON! No, I haven't been busy preparing a costume - though if I did it would be something Hobbity - but gearing up for volunteering. I'll be attending all three days, Fri, Sat, Sun, as both spectator and volunteer, and needed something business casual. As a stay-at-home mom, my idea of business casual is slippers and a cup of coffee.  Needless to say, this requires something, well, more. A good excuse as any to shop. So outfit in hand, I am ready. This is my second year volunteering and I must say, I look forward to it all year. It's an exciting, fast-paced, stressful experience that I wouldn't miss for anything. Not as big as San Diego (yet), the Phoenix Comicon offers a chance to meet and mingle with icons like Stan Lee and Leonard Nimoy while still allowing you enough personal space to breath :)

This year I'm most excited about the authors. Especially Az home grown YA writers like Janni Lee Simner (BONES OF FAERIE), Aprilynne Pike (WINGS), Lisa McMann (WAKE trilogy), James A Owens (HERE, THERE BE DRAGONS), Tom Leveen (PARTY), and Jon Lewis (INVASION) to name a few.

If you're in the Phoenix area, come downtown and say hi! We'll leave a light on :)

For more info, click on PHOENIX COMICON. May the force be with you. Live long and prosper. Journey well. Namárië (If you know that one, you have my utmost respect!). And, coming soon, ¡Buen Provecho!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

¡El Libro Fantástico! DOGGIRL by Robin Brande

Love animals? Love reading? Love Young Adult books? Even if you answered just one yes, you will love DOGGIRL by the wonderful Robin Brande. Part Dog Whisperer (Cesar Millan, not Pet Psychic), part High School Drama Department, and a pinch of Mean Girls, DOGGIRL showcases the magic that happens when a young girl finds her niche in high school, and the rough road she took to get there.

Fourteen-year-old Ryle Case has always had a special relationship with animals, both wild and domestic. She understands their needs and what it takes to bring out the best in them, especially her three dogs. It's her peers she doesn't understand, and has resigned herself to staying as unnoticed as possible. But when she learns the high school's drama director wants to use animals in his newest production, she can't help but come out of the shadows and into the spotlight. Doing what she does best - dog training -  not only elevates the play, but her high school experience as well.

Having pet allergies myself, DOGGIRL was a wonderful way for me to experience the love and acceptance that comes with being part of a pack and having that unexplainable connection with a pet. Robin Brande also captures all the coming-of-age ups and downs, from the anxiety and depression from not fitting in and getting bullied, to the triumphant joy of finding that special group, and even that one cute guy, who likes you just the way you are. I adored it and especially appreciated that while true to the high school experience, its also something that all my kids can read. (no explicit profanity or sex, thank you very much!) Highly, highly recommend - a wonderful summer read!

DOGGIRL is available now for e-readers. The print edition will be available the end of May 2011. Check out Robin Brande's website for more details. Then be sure to pick up her other titles: FAT CAT and EVOLUTION, ME & OTHER FREAKS OF NATURE. Enjoy!

Monday, May 9, 2011


Every month, Miss Snark’s First Victim (Writers Digest winner “101 Best Websites for Writers”) runs a Secret Agent contest. Each contest includes a maximum of 50 entries, which will be posted on the opening day of the contest and critiqued by her blog community and a Secret Agent whose identity will not be revealed until the contest closes. Click here for rules and submission guidelines. This month’s contest will open next Monday and is for the first 250 words of your completed Young Adult or Middle Grade manuscript, including science fiction/fantasy. Like mine. But I haven’t decided to enter. My MS is not agent ready, but it’s close.
I hit a major milestone last week. After two years – yes, years – I finally condensed my monstrous 167,000-word (think roughly 800 pages) novel down to a more manageable 85,000. Now to smooth out the rough edges. This will be the last edit, for good or for ill. The good news is that with all the leftovers, the next two books are already half written J
Buena suerte to all who enter. And for the rest of us, ¡Buen Provecho!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Welcome to Writings, Workouts, and Were-Jaguars! Let me begin by explaining what we'll be doing here. And my crazy title.

Why Writings? I'm a writer on my publishing journey and will share every stupid (and not-so-stupid) move I make. Hopefully, you'll keep from repeating the bad and follow the good. In addition to my embarrassing wanna-be-writer blunders, you'll also get loads of info on agents, writing contests, query (book pitch) help, critique groups, book giveaways and reviews. If you're on this journey with me, I'll hook you up with everything I can get my virtual fingers on. For today, check out the first four chapters of the very talented Robin Brande's newest YA novel, DOGGIRL (<click). If you're an animal lover or simply a lover well-written stories about high school awkwardness and not fitting in, you'll be glad you did!

Why Workouts?  I spend most of my day, well, writing. So the only part of me getting worked-out are my fingers. And sometimes my brain, but I'm not sold on how many calories that burns. We should all get some physical activity, if only to stimulate blood flow to our imaginations. Today, I'll play tennis. And golf. And practice hitting home runs. How does a mother of four very busy kids do this? One word: wii! It may be virtual but it gets me off my actual cushion. And it doesn't bother my allergies.

And finally, why Were-Jaguars? Were-Jaguars are the obstacles keeping us from getting what we want. In my case, they really are were-jags. Were-jags, or Balam, are my novel's antagonists, keeping the heroine from her goal. I've had a few agents critique my query, and they all stopped reading the moment they hit the term were-jaguars. Thus keeping me from my goal. I'm still working on that one. What are your were-jaguars and how do you get over them?

Thanks again for stopping by! I promise next time, there will be more to see and do. In the mean time, ¡buen provecho! (bon appetit)