Thursday, July 28, 2011

Brief Hiatus

While we say goodbye to our first home and move the final items, I'm taking a brief hiatus. I'll see you back in a few days when I'm all settled again.

Have a wonderful weekend! Miss you guys!
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Monday, July 25, 2011

Craving Perfect!

Can I just say how much I love you guys?? I do. Your comments make my day, and the best part is that you're so clever and witty. Thank you so much for stopping by here, especially since my  epic move and house hunt has made me a mega slacker!

But more on that later ...

Today I'm super excited to have the fun and sweet LIZ FICHERA here in celebration of her women's novel CRAVING PERFECT, which debuts today! This book sounds so so fun. Here's a blurb:


Grace Mills craves being perfect almost as much as she craves raspberry scones. In fact, her life would be perfect if only she could lose ten more pounds, if only the pastry café she co-owns with her sister would turn a profit, if only the hottest guy at the gym would look her way...  And then "if only" comes true. Grace is suddenly straddling two lives: an alternate reality where she's a size two, weathergirl celebrity and being chased by the hot guy. Only Mr. Gorgeous isn't very nice, and she doesn't get to eat...anything, much less bake!
In her other life, she's starting to realize her sister is less than happy running the family café, and hunky Carlos, the gym's janitor, seems to have a secret crush on her. Maybe there's more to him than meets the eye... Grace is living two lives and it's beginning to cost her. Is there a way to pick one...that's perfect?




Is that a great cover or what? I love it!

I was lucky enough to snag Liz for a few questions. Plus, to help celebrate the day, I'm giving away a copy of Craving Perfect to someone who leaves a comment here. Just make sure you leave your email with your comment.

Without further ado ...

*** Thanks for being here today, Liz! Tell us about what inspired CRAVING PERFECT.


I got the idea for CRAVING PERFECT while I was jogging on a treadmill at my local gym.  At the time, I was spending tons of hours at the gym because I had this crazy notion about competing in a triathlon. In order to make the best use of my time, I began to write this story in my head and then go home after my run and pound it into my laptop. 

1.  ****  How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing stories since I was 10 years old.  I decided to get serious about being published about six years ago.

2.  ****  What was your path to publication like?

Grueling.  Like most writers, I’ve learned most of what I know about publishing through trial and error.  Over the course of one year, I sent out dozens (hundreds?) of queries before I landed my agent.  I’ve been rejected a zillion times.  My first couple of novels will never see the light of day. CRAVING PERFECT happens to be the novel that my agent fell in love with initially.  It was not the first novel to be published, however. 
 (PK note here) Always makes me feel better when I know how hard other authors have worked.
3.     
      ***** How long did it take to write first draft?

It took me six months to write the first draft for CRAVING PEFECT.  I spent the next two years rewriting it, top to bottom, three more times before  I decided it was time to query.
4.     
**   ***** Is your published story very different from your original? 

The published story is very similar to the original.  Things I changed from the original have included point of view, secondary characters and, of course, deeper character development as I’ve come to know (and love) my main characters. 

5. ***** Plotter or pantser?

I’m a little of both but mostly at panster at heart. 

6. ****** Advice to aspiring authors?

Keep writing.  That was the best advice I got from my agent.  Even as you query/submit one novel, start working on your next one.
  
7.  *******  Describe yourself in one word.   

Determined.  (And slightly crazy.)

Author bio:
Liz is an author from the American Southwest.  She still runs almost every day, although mostly to balance out her daily chocolate intake.  When she's not training at her local gym or pounding out her next novel into her laptop, you'll find her in all the usual places on the web.  She is the author of CAPTIVE SPIRIT (2010), CRAVING PERFECT (2011) and HOOKED (Harlequin Teen, 2013).  Don't hesitate to drop by her web site or blog to connect.

You can find CRAVING PERFECT for sale here.  

Thank you so much for stopping by here on your special day, Liz! And thanks to all of you who have joined us! Liz is an awesome blogging friend, so don't hesitate to stop by her blog and say hello there too. I know I'm excited to read CRAVING PERFECT. How about you?



Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Alter Ego

As I contemplate the protagonist for my next project, I'm trying to figure out who I want her to be. Likeable and unique, but flawed, of course. So I question, what is it that makes peeps likeable? Not too hard to determine--usually politeness, confidence, courteousness, drive, humor, etc.

I can cover that much, no problem. But what is it about peeps that make them unique? I mean, we're all likeable in common ways (mostly). But we're far from carbon copies of each other. It made me start thinking of myself and how I am unique. I've come to the conclusion that it's my alter ego. You know, that little entity all its own that lives inside your brain and tries to take over and make you do stuff from time to time?

Okay, now I sound like a mental patient. lol

But if you know anything about alter egos, you know what I mean. I was able to identify mine long ago, and I even have a name for it. I call it Indy Morrison. One half Indiana Jones; One half Jim Morrison. It's a mischievous combination, and I can pinpoint when its's giving me an itch to do something. Especially, now that I'm a mom, I have to keep that alter ego in a straight jacket. No more traipsing around the world writing poetry and socializing with the locals for this lady. Not til the kids are grown, anyway. :p

But the reason I bring this up, is because it got me thinking that maybe the key to a strong, unique  character is defining what their alter ego is. Knowing what makes them do the things they do, or even just why they WANT to do the things they do. The alter ego isn't something you'd ever even mention in the story. I certainly don't go around talking about Indy Morrison like it's a second personality. lol. That's a good thing.

But knowing it's there helps me associate why I get these urges to do crazy things. Perhaps, giving our characters silent alter egos that emerge only at times in the story when it seems appropriate, we can make them unique. Or if it be a villain, maybe their alter ego of Mother Teresa will be their flaw. lol

We could really get creative with this. 


What about you? Ever tried something like this? Do you have an alter ego? Have you gone so far as to name them? Or am I the only basket case out here? lol

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Query Madness!

So all month long bloggers have been gearin' up to get an agent with the Gearin' Up to Get an Gent Blogfest hosted by Deana Barnhart.

This week we've posted queries and given and received feedback and, wow! So much awesome support is pouring in. If you're in the query phase and want to see some prime examples of great queries that have been tweaked, primped, and plumed, check out the list of bloggers on Deana's site and hop through all the talent.

I think I've actually got mine to the point I'm satisfied with it. You can see it right here. Or click to the link under My Pages on the right. I'm still open to suggestions so feel free to comment on that post.

I've posted on queries plenty of times and there are guidelines EVERYWHERE on dos and don'ts. But when it comes down to the actual query, we really need other eyes to point out areas for improvements. You can still participate with the other Gearin' Up events this month. Just hop on over to Deana's blog and see what's going on. It's a great group of bleeps there, all passionate about their stories and about finding the right agent.

How about you? Are you in the query phase?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Save the Ta-Tas!

Hey, that's what he said! Ba-da-ching

I've asked the super smart and sweet Susan Kaye Quinn over to let you know more about her book and her quest to help save the ta-tas. In short, books and boobs. :)

Susan runs a very informative blog over at InkSpells. I've won two different critiques from Susan in the past and she is an amazing help. Check out her blog, and check out her book, Life, Liberty, and Pursuit,  and her Summer Breeze Anthology for a great cause!

Take it away, Susan ....




My publisher, Omnific Publishing, has partnered with the Save the Ta-Tas Foundation to release two Summer Lovin' Anthologies - Summer Breeze (young adult) and Summer Heat (adult). These romantic short stories will whisk you away on a sweet escape, and all proceeds will be donated to Save the Ta-Tas to support breast cancer research! 
WIN and WIN.



Here's my short fiction piece in the Summer Breeze collection:
Full Speed Ahead
When Teagan's Navy linguist boyfriend pulls extra duties a thousand miles away at the Great Lakes Naval Station, she suspects he's stepping out on her. Or worse, the Navy is acting like a demanding mistress again, something she can't compete with. But when a charity fashion show turns her suspicions upside down, she has to face whether she's cut out to be a Navy wife.

Full Speed Ahead is a light-hearted romantic read and a fun afterstory with the crew from Life, Liberty, and Pursuit, my first novel.

Summer Breeze includes stories from six other Omnific authors. You'll find "breezy" romantic reading in Carol Oates’ Irish mythical storytelling, Jennifer Lane’s sassy swimmer, and Hannah Downing’s second chance at first love. Nicki Elson spins a beautiful tale of remembered love, Killian McRae employs a modern twist with her technology-based romance, and Sarah Glover tells the story of best friends’ summer discovery.

Summer Heat offers steamy tales for adult readers. The Anthology website gives more information about both Summer Breeze and Summer Heat, available for a limited time through September 30th.

I'm so excited about the anthology and the Save the Ta-Ta's charity it supports, that I'm offering free hand-made bookmarks to anyone that purchase the Summer Breeze Anthology, in either e-book or paper book. These Life, Liberty, and Pursuit bookmarks have a small lifesaver attached, just like Eliza's charm in the story.




(This is as crafty as I get.)



Just email your purchase proof to susankayequinn@comcast.net, and I'll put a bookmark in the mail! Good while supplies last!






Buy Summer Breeze from Omnific Publishing $4.99 for e-book (PDF)
$6.99 for e-pack (EPUB, MOBI, PDF)
$14.99 for paperback
Thank you for BEING A LIFESAVER and supporting Save the Ta-Tas!


p.s. You can find Summer Breeze on Goodreads.


Awesome! Thank you , Susan! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your work and this important cause. What a bargain! A great read while doing something good.

Tell me, readers .... how have books and ta-tas been an influence in your life?? lol  (Keep it clean, please) ;)

Friday, July 15, 2011

In Honor of Harry Potter ....

So yes this weekend is a bittersweet affair with the very last installment of the Harry Potter phenomenon in theaters today. All over the blogosphere peeps are celebrating in their own creative ways as we say farewell to a series that has had an astonishing effect on peeps of all ages.

I am no different than so many others who have been inspired to take up the keyboard and write after reading the HP series. I've been writing stories since I was a child, but it was after reading the HP series that I realized I really could pursue it. JK Rowling's imagination and creation opened doors and windows for peeps all over the world, inspiring us to tap into our own creative storehouses.

I love the fact this series has been a companion to so may readers around the world. I also love the fact it was written by a penniless woman--a single mother who had a vision. It gives me chills and it gives me courage. And it proves that children and adults alike can spot quality, regardless of how many pages it is.

So, in honor of Harry Potter, I leave you with a contest going on right now, through the end of this month over at Lisa Galek's blog. Enter to win some great prizes! But first, you'll need to know what house the sorting hat would put you in. I, myself, was placed in Hufflepuff.


First go here to answer some questions and be placed into a house. Then, click on the pic below to enter the contest for some HP swag.


Best of luck! Thanks so much for stopping by. Tell me how the Harry Potter series has influenced or inspired you! Please share ....

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Reason to Write

Thanks for stopping by here today. I have a very special guest, some of you probably know already from her awesome blog, Following the Whispers. .... the lovely and charming Karen Walker.

I've asked Karen to share with us her path to publication for her memoir, Following the Whispers. Thanks for being here today, Karen. Take it away ....



Thanks, PK! 


It’s hard to know where and when dreams begin and even harder to make them come true. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-forties that I allowed what was in my heart and soul to come forth. Until then, it had been so far out of the realm of possibility, it never entered conscious awareness. I’d lived most of my life on auto-pilot, emotionally, physically and spiritually shut down.

But the root of the dream was seeded 34 years ago. I was 28 years old and had just lost custody of my only child. Like other tragedies, such as a severe illness, or death of a loved one, unless you’ve experienced it yourself, it is hard to imagine. It was in the 1970’s, a time when women didn’t lose custody and it fueled an already rampant self-hatred that was burning in my soul. Gloria Steinem and Betty Freidan were fighting for women’s rights, and in later years, some friends thought my losing custody might have been a backlash to the women’s movement. I’ll never know.

But out of the depths of that depression and despair, I found a way to cope. I began keeping a journal. At the time, writing was a way for me to get in touch with my feelings. Over time, it became a therapeutic tool for healing.

Several years after the divorce, I helped a friend start a business—a public relations consulting firm for therapists in private practice. At first, he handled all the creative aspects of the business, and I handled administrative duties. But at some point, I learned to write--articles, essays, op-ed pieces, brochures, press releases, all with someone else’s name attached.

Then, in 1999, my wonderful husband suggested I quit my job to write full-time, a dream I hadn’t allowed myself to imagine. In addition to personal essays and op-ed pieces, I wrote health articles for SAGE (a monthly supplement in the Albuquerque Journal) as well as for the Journal’s Health section.

The very first essay I wrote was called “Following the Whispers.” It was a short piece about leaving Portland, Oregon and coming to New Mexico. My dear friend Clara suggested I submit it to a mutual acquaintance of ours who was in the process of publishing a second anthology of women’s stories called “Chocolate for a Woman’s Blessings.” It was accepted. I received a number of emails from women across the country, thanking me for sharing my story and telling me how much it inspired them. I began to think that if a short piece like that could help women who were going through similar pain, how much more helpful would my whole story be. I somehow hoped my pain could have healing potential for others.

Over the next 2 ½ years, I poured through my journals, an excruciatingly painful, but cathartic process. I ended up with a 700-page tome. To me, it was a nonfiction, self-help book. During those 2 ½ years, I was frequently overcome with self-doubt—who was I to think I could write a self-help book? To get past that dilemma, my working title for the book became “I’m Nobody…Will You Listen Anyway?”

When I was finished, I hired an editor who said to me, “Karen, you have a book inside you, but it’s not on these pages. You have an incredible story to tell…you just need to tell it.” Well, I’d written journalistically for years, but had no idea how to “tell my story.” By this time, it was 2001 and we’d brought my 86-year-old father to New Mexico after my mother’s sudden death. I decided to go back to school. I’d only gotten an associate degree in 1969, then got married and had a child. I’d always felt unfinished. This was an opportunity to fulfill that lifelong dream and learn how to “tell my story.”

After taking every creative writing course UNM had to offer, four years later I graduated. It was December, 2005. For the next two years, I wrote. And rewrote. And wrote. And rewrote. Then I hired another editor. Dina has a gift of helping authors find what she calls the “golden thread” that runs throughout a memoir. This enabled me to select which parts of my life should be included and which could be left out. Several months later, I had a finished manuscript, now called “Following the Whispers,” the golden thread of my memoir—learning to listen to the voice of Spirit, rather than the voice of self-doubt or self-hatred or parents, or society.

Over the next few months I sent letter after letter, hoping to find a literary agent to represent my book, but was unsuccessful. All along, I knew self-publishing was my plan b, but hoped I wouldn’t have to do it. I think every writer dreams of being a big publishing success.
The only way I felt I could get my story out, and I wanted desperately to do that so that other women might be inspired to begin their own healing journeys, was to self-publish.

It’s been 12 years since my husband offered to support our household so I could write—an unbelievable journey of having a dream, trusting myself, my hubby, and the universe, questioning it every step of the way, learning to listen for the whispers and paying attention to the wisdom.

Pk, thank you so much for allowing me to post here today. I hope my story inspires those who have a dream to go for it. It is so worth it!
Blessings,
Karen

(PK note:) Wow! What a great story, eh? Heartbreaking about the custody loss, but such inspiration for pressing forward. I've got my copy of Karen's memoir. How about you?



    Available in paperback or eBook at Amazon or Smashwords

Please leave a comment for Karen, and one lucky winner will win a copy of this inspiring story!

Thanks for being here today, Karen! We all wish you mucho success with your story! :) And thank you, readers! You make everything worthwhile.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Plot Device


Have you guys seen this? Super cute and worth the watch!

Check back here tomorrow for a very special guest. :)

Happy Hump Day!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Notes From a Writer's Workshop (and a winner!)

Hi, friends! Thanks so much for stopping by here. So far Operation House Hunt is well under way. It's a weird feeling being in between homes and not knowing where we'll live yet. But alas, there is always dear old mom and dad to take us in. lol

Needless to say, there's a whole lot happening right now. But finding retreat in the blogosphere is a welcome relief.

Congrats to SHARI BIRD who is the random.org winner of the Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading from my last blog post. Yay for Shari!!

I mentioned a few posts ago about the SCBWI regional workshop I went to, and wanted to leave you with a few notes I took while I was there. I sat in on the MG track with author Gordon Korman and kid lit agent Joanna Volpe.

** Gordon, who's been writing since age 12, made a comment that resonated. He mentioned how most writers think they have to write from experience, but how really, writers should be writing from observation as well. Makes a lot of sense, and I think most of us probably do that anyway.

** Gordon had us do an exercise where we wrote an action scene that involved these three things: a situation, something that goes wrong in that situation, and how the character (s) get out of it. Pretty basic stuff. But you should have heard some of the scenes writers whipped up in ten minutes time spontaneously.

**  Joanna talked about pacing and how every scene must move the story right to the next. If you can remove a scene without cutting any pertinent info to the plot, do it.

** Joanna also discussed plot and how all story lines must tie together. She broke it down like this:

     E = emotional plot    P = action plot   S1 = subplot one   S2 = subplot two
     They must intertwine to create the story as a whole.
     The start of the story should deal with feelings of the character's current situation.
     The first change in the story, or Gateway 1, must bring about a point of no return.

She also mentioned how:
* we should NEVER write to the trends
* pay attention to chapter books and YA
* know what types of voices kids are responding to
* writing for kids means your story has to heave HEART. It should be tried and true. MG is different from YA in that younger tweens believe they can change the world.
* in every MG story, there must be something the MC has learned
* coincidence in a story weakens the plot. Every occurrence and MUST feel authentic to the story.
* looking for how to market your book? Try BalkinBuddies.com
* kids get involved in stories when the stakes are high
* editors need a BIG story with high stakes and lots of suspense

Something else Gordon mentioned was how, as writers, it's important to step out of our comfort zones in order to push ourselves to our optimum performance. I couldn't agree more. Every time I try a new genre, I amaze myself at what I can do, even though I was certain I couldn't make it happen before writing the first draft.

Gordon also said he likes to imagine the toughest, most self-proclaimed non-reading kid out there with piercings and green hair and scowling face, and write the story for him. LOL! What a great way to taunt our muses into creating something spectacular!

Have a wonderful weekend!

What about you? Have anything to add? Is there something you've learned about writing over the last few weeks that you really liked? Please share ....

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Charlie Joe Jackson is Here!!!

Who is Charlie Joe Jackson, you ask? Well pull up a chair and stay awhile! Meet debut author Tommy Greenwald and one of the cutest new characters to hit bookstores this year!



"If my book inspires just one kid to become a reader ... that's one too many." Charlie Joe Jackson.

Okay I LOVED this book! Seriously, I breezed through it in a day and had to read parts of it aloud to my husband. Let me just tell you a little about Charlie Joe: he's a middle grade student who's smart and has a lot of spunk ... and he's this HUGE Beatles fan (which I think is so super cool), BUT ..... he hates to read. Matter of fact, people consider him the most reluctant reader ever born. Sound familiar?? Yep, I've got one of those at home too ...

This book is a MUST READ for any non-reader. Told in first person in Charlie Joe's clever voice, this story has everything a fun contemporary kid book should. And for the non-readers, the chapters are especially short ... sometimes half a page, just because Charlie Joe understands how annoying really long chapters are. Really, this book is super cute and witty and I can't recommend it enough. But don't just take it from me.... read on for my interview with author Tommy Greenwald, and you'll see what I mean.

Thanks for being here today, Tommy!


    ** Your MG book, Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading, is about a boy who hates reading. He tries everything possible to avoid books. What gave you the idea for this story?


I took the old expression “write what you know” to the extreme, and turned it into “write what you breed.” My three boys, Charlie, Joe and Jack, all hated to read when they were middle-schoolers. I wanted to write a book that even they could love – a book for kids who hate books, figuring that kids who already like books would like it too. I hit upon the idea of Charlie Joe Jackson, the most reluctant reader ever born, and off I went.

2.     ** How long did it take you to write the original draft?

About three months I’d say, if by “first draft” you mean the draft that my agent ended up submitting to editors. Then once it was sold, I did a bunch more drafts.

3.     ** You got the name for the book from your three sons, but does your character Charlie Joe resemble one of your sons more than the other(s)?

I’ve asked my kids that, and they all seem to agree that he most resembles Jack, my youngest. Jack was truly allergic to reading. I have a trailer out for the book (which you can see at tommygreenwald.com), in which a bunch of kids talk about all the horrible, boring things they’d rather do than read. One of the kids says, “Can I stare at the wall? Is that an option?” My son Jack used to say that all the time, for real.
*PK thought* lol... the trailer is hilarious! You guys have to check it out!

4.   **  Your voice throughout the story is witty and loveable, was it a collective of all tween boys you’ve encountered? Or even perhaps your own tween self?

I’m not sure where the voice comes from. When I came up with the character, it just kind of started writing itself. I’d have to say it comes from my boys though, and somehow seeped into my subconscious during 15 years of listening to them fight, cajole, beg, annoy, and generally be hilarious.

** So who's the real life Beatles fan? Or is it just a trait you made up for Charlie Joe?

I'm a huge fan, and I brainwashed my kids into loving the Beatles too.

*PK thought* And what's not to love?! Truth is, i went to middle school with a girl who dressed all in black and was in love with the Beatles. This was back in the 80s when The Beatles weren't hip anymore. Now  they're retro-hip, so it's cool again. Reading this about CJJ I could totally relate to it and immediately thought of this girl!   

5.     ** How many times did you revise before you felt ready to send the ms out?

My editor, Michele Rubin of Writer’s House, was a great sounding board to me as I worked on the first draft. She helped me fix stuff along the way. I revised a lot as I went.

6.   **  Did you have beta readers? If so, how many?

My whole family – wife, three boys – read the first draft, although obviously I had to beg my kids to read it. I have a sister-in-law and a niece who are 4th and 6th grade teachers, respectively, and they read the manuscript to their classes, which yielded lots of awesome feedback (“Don’t call girls ‘hot.’”). And my dogs, Moose and Coco, absolutely loved it.

7.     ** Is the published story very different from your original draft?

My amazing editor, Nan Mercado at Roaring Brook, bought it and then told me to change it pretty drastically. And she was completely right, of course. The first draft was way too complicated, too many plots, too many characters, too many everything. She helped me streamline the storytelling all the way down to one main plot, one main subplot, and one theme running throughout the whole thing.

8.    **  Tell us about your path to publication? Did you query for an agent? If so how long did you query before finding your agent?

This is the part where you hate me. My agent, Michele, is an old friend from high school who’s been trying to get me to write a book for years. She’s mainly an adult lit agent, though, and she thought I would write an adult novel, but when I finally was ready, it was this idea. She loved it and decided to take on her first kidlit client: Me. So no querying. Please don’t hold it against me.
*PK's thought*(How about that, eh? Having an agent ask you to write a book for them to sell???)

9.   **   Did your kids love the story when they first read it? Was that your clue that you were on to something, or do they really not like reading?

Yup they read it, and they say they loved it, but did they really have a choice? I paid for their Xbox, after all.

10 **.  How long did it take from signing with Macmillan to holding your arc in your hand? And what was it like finally getting to hold it for the first time?

Signed if Feb ’10. ARC in about September ‘10. Actual hardcover books any second. Pub date TODAY! Whole thing feels crazy.

11.** Did you always know you’d be a writer?

I always did write, but no, I can’t say I always knew. I’ve been writing in a variety of ways most of my adult life, and make my living as a writer and creative director of advertising for Broadway shows. I wrote a musical called John & Jen that’s been produced quite a bit in NYC and around the country, and wrote one screenplay that was optioned but never produced. But never in a million years would I have guessed that I’d become a children’s book author – even if you asked me as recently as three years ago.

12.**  What pitfalls, if any, did you run into during your path to publication?

Not many, really. One editor basically made an offer, and then had to rescind, because it turned out her house had a high-profile author developing a male middle-grade humorous novel that was on the same timeline as mine. That was pretty painful for a couple of weeks. But then Nan made the offer, and it was obviously all for the best, because she’s a goddess of editing.

13. ** What fiction has inspired you? What were your fave stories growing up?

I have a bad memory so this is a tough one. I loved the Matt Christopher sports books. I loved the Little Big Books, novels based on famous cartoons or movies, in tiny hardcovers with pictures on the left and text on the right. Archie Comics were a constant companion.  And I must have read the picture book ARE YOU MY MOTHER? about sixty zillion times.
*PK thought* LOVE Archie comics! Used to read them ALL the time as a kid. 
14. 
** ** What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

I used to think I didn’t have to outline a plot, but I was wrong. Know where you’re going, map it out generally, so you don’t have a sense of dread as you go. Things might change along the way, which is fine, as long as you basically know how it starts, how it ends, and one big thing that happens in the middle. And if you’re writing a humorous book, make sure you make yourself chuckle at least once a page.

15. ** As the father to three boys, do you notice any trends they’re particularly drawn to? Since there seems to be a decline in teen boys reading once they hit fifteen, is there any advice you have in regards to writing for teen boys?

I wish I had advice. I wish someone had given me advice when my kids were a little younger (they’re mid-teens now). I think kids are born either readers, non-readers, or eventual readers. Readers are awesome. Non-readers better have some other serious skills. And eventual readers kind of find their way to books on their own, as long as they come into contact with a book that strikes their fancy. My goal in writing for boys is to pass the milkshake test. Meaning, there are basically no books they’ll agree to read without an incentive. But there are SOME books that they’ll agree to read if you give them a milkshake afterwards. I hope CHARLIE JOE JACKSON’S GUIDE TO NOT READING is a milkshake book.
*PK chuckle*

16**.  Your story deals some with cliques in middle school. Did you write the story intent on sending a message, or was it the natural flow of the story that led you to tackle that issue?

Natural flow. The last thing I wanted to do was write a message book about how cliques are bad, and I hope it doesn’t come off at all heavy-handed. It’s really more of a device than a message. What Hitchcock called a McGuffin.

17**.  Plotter or panster or both?

Plots make me plotz. But I’m kinda bald, so I’m definitely not a hairy plotter.

18.**  What’s in store for you? Any new stories in the works?

Well, CHARLIE JOE is projected as a five-book series, and the second, CHARLIE JOE JACKSON’S GUIDE TO EXTRA CREDIT, is now in copy edits, for a spring ’12 release. But the next thing I’m working on is a non-Charlie Joe story. It’s a fun idea, and I need to test myself and see if I can write another middle-grade funny boy book with a different voice.
*PK cheers for more CJJ books*

19.**   Any big plans for release day?

Not really, but I’ve got some fun launch events happening in NYC and CT (where I live) right around then. Check http://tommygreenwald.com/  for details. You’re all invited! Free cupcakes!! See you there.



Yep! We're celebrating here too, Tommy! 

And to all my lovely readers, please drop by Tommy's blog (from the link right above) and read up on his funny posts. You can watch the CJJ trailer, and learn more about Tommy and Charlie Joe! 

But that's not all ... Act now, and one of you will win a copy of Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading by leaving a comment RIGHT HERE! What are you waiting for? Show Tommy and Charlie Joe some book love!

Happy *not* Reading!! :) 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

I'm Homeless!!

Yep!  Exactly 48 hours after we put our house on the market, it sold! We're still in shock.

We have to pack the rest of our things and find an apartment until we can find the right house to upgrade to within the next 30 days. So if you don't see me around the blogosphere, it's not because I don't wanna be here... it's because I'm packing!!! lol

I'll be posting sporadically and have some great interviews lined up this month. I hope you'll return for those. The first one starts off on Tuesday July 5 with funny guy Tommy Greenwald talking about his adorable new MG book Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading.

This is turning into a super busy month for me and I promise to be back on track once I'm more stable. In the meantime, I'm wishing all my fellow Americans a wonderful holiday weekend!

See you back here on Tuesday... You want wanna miss it! Thanks so much for stopping by! :)