Sep 30, 2009

Opening Paragraphs. . .Eek!

Need help grabbing the reader's attention on the opening page? 

Check this out.

Sep 28, 2009

Fairy Tales

You know how when you were a little kid and you believed in fairy tales? That fantasy of what your life would be. Yeah, I can visualize it now. . .that white dress and a prince charming who would carry me away to a castle on the hill. When I was sick, I would lie in bed at night, eyes closed, and have complete and utter faith. Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Prince Charming, they were so close I could taste them, but eventually I grew up. See, I had the chance to grow up, to be a part of something that isn't perfect, but was damn near close. 

Some people open their eyes and think the fairy tale disappears. Most turn to things they think will make them happy rather than people. All the while having a chip on their shoulder that the world is a cold, cruel place. 

Me? I hold on to a sliver of that fairy tale. Others, they may open their eyes and realize theirs has come true. They may open their eyes and see the world in a whole new light, but maybe they should've been seeing that light all along. How many people has this happened to? 

The faith to believe turns up when you don't really expect it. Its like one day realize that the fairy tale may be slightly different than you dream, but its still there. The castle, well, it may not be a castle. Its not so important that its happy ever after, just that its happy right now. 

Sep 27, 2009

Warning: Churchy Post

Okayy, I know I'm cutting it close I the deadline. This is more of a thoughtful monday post. ha. (this is where you laugh at my extremely corny joke) Anyway, today was pretty interesting. Church was pretty good. . .even though I had to leave early. My pastor should be a comedian. Seriously, you'd love him too. He has OCD and constantly says, "ain't that good," while shaking his legs like Elvis.

Here's the deal:

Walking in, I received a brochure and inside of it was a piece of paper with a check list and fill in the blanks. (No, I didn't get my days confused! I promise I was at church not school!) On the paper, was some caine and abel verses--pretty normal. Underneath, there were a few simple questions.

1. Am I showing that I care about others?
2. Am I happy?
3. Am I patient?
4. Am I nice?
5. Am I living by my commitments?
6. Am I control over temptation?

Not going to lie, there were a few no's to those questions. Figured I'd post them and see what your answers would be. If there are no's then I think you have to reconsider a few things like I am at the moment.

BTW--Don't post your answers on here if they are personal and you don't want others to read. I shouldn't HAVE to say that, but, well, figured it's better to be safe than sorry.

Okay, I'm finishing up my L.J. Smith book. Yeah, haven't really gotten the chance to finish it yet, but it's DEFINITELY good. Highly recommend it.

Sep 25, 2009

Classics are Good

Okay, so lately I've been trying to "widen my horizons" and decided to give a few different books a go. I came across this great quote and figured I'd share it. . .

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be."
--Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut

I genuinely liked this novel. Yeah, he's straightforward, albeit quirky, but all around it was a good food novel. I call them food novels when they fill me up on more than humor or romance or whatever. Deep novels are pretty good once in a while. Plus, I'm a sucker when it comes to history.

Hmmm. . .Maybe that's why I'm doing so much research for my novels. It's weird I don't put all I've learned into them, but I like knowing about myths and such.

Anyway, I'm going to challenge whoever reads this post to go pick up a new book--one completely different from what you normally read--and see if there's anything you can get out of it. Who knows, maybe it'll become on of your favorites.

Author Interview: Aprilynne Pike

A Q&A with NYT bestselling author Aprilynne Pike!

"Fifteen-year-old Laurel has led a sheltered, homeschooled life in a very small town, so when her parents decide to move and enroll her in high school, she has trouble getting used to her new life. A life, as it turns out, that's not at all like those of other kids. One clear sign is winglike blossom that blooms on her back. Oh, and her new best friend, the scientifically minded David, reveals under a microscope that her cells are more plant than animal. But it takes an encounter at her old home with the handsome but decidedly different Tamani to convince her she is a faerie. She also learns it's up to her to save her land from the evil influences that are trying to take it away from her and her family. . ."

Rambling to Interviews: When and how did you decide that you wanted to write this book?

Aprilynne Pike: In the summer of 2007, I was in kind of sticky position. I had an agent, but the book she had been shopping was going nowhere. So I knew that if I wanted to continue with my dream of being a writer, I needed to write another book, and basically start the process over again. So I was trolling agency sites one day, and I found an agent's blog who had reported that Barnes and Noble was expecting faeries to be one of the new trends in YA lit. I felt like I had been hit by lightning. I have always loved faeries, for as long as I could remember, and I love YA. I don't know why I had to get thunked on the head with the idea of putting those two loves together before I made the connection. But I remember sitting there staring at the computer screne thinking, "Faeries? Oh my gosh! *I* want to write a book about faeries!!!" and something in me knew that I had to do it Right. Now. I turned the first draft of Wings into my agent six weeks later.

RI: This wasn't you first novel. Your website states you had written three novels before Wings, which were all rejected by agents. Was the second round of agency rejections easier or more difficult?

AP: *laugh* No this certainly was not my first novel. But honestly? By the time I started querying my second novel, I had racked up over 100 rejections, so I think I was actually used to it by then. It did help, however, that I had a much higher request rate with my second book. Mostly, I think, because I learned how to write queries better.:D

RI: Many authors assume it's easy to land an agent. Could you share with us how many rejections (queries, partials, fulls) you faced before finding yours?

AP: Wow, those are some dusty numbers! Let's see, on my first book I sent out about 140 queries (I queried *everyone*), I had probably 20 requests for the partial and 7 or 8 requests for the full. For the second book I sent out about 40 queries and had about 25 requests for the partial and I think four requests for the full. Eventually, I signed with my agent with my first book. 

RI: Are any of your characters based on real people?

AP: Only one, and I didn't mean for him to be more than a two or three line character. There is a character in the first book named Ryan who is based on my brother-in-law, Jared. Mostly because I picture him and very tall with dark hair, just like my brother-in-law. However, now that Ryan figures pretty heavily in the second and third books, I still sometimes have to pause and think, "Ryan, not Jared." In fact, even into the second round of revisions my editor found a place where I had typed the wrong name. 

RI: Did you have a favorite book growing up?

AP: It's really hard for me to pick just one, because I read so much as a kid, but when I read the question, the first book that popped into my head was Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. I still read that book about once a year. 

RI: Do you plan on working on more books in the future?

AP: Oh, absolutely! I have simmering idea for my next series as well as two stand-alones, and I have a non-Wings book that is currently in negotiations at Harper, which is really exciting to me! I'm a fairly prolific writer, so I am always working on something new!

RI: Do you have any advice for young writers?

AP: Read! You will learn more about writing from reading than any other single thing. Also, finish a book. As in, finish writing a book. Being able to say, "I finished a book!" is such a huge thing. Because if you can do it once, you can do it twice, and three times, and that--ultimately--is what it takes to be an author. Finishing books. 

RI: What’s the one question no one ever asks you, but you wish they would? (Plus the answer!)

AP: I always want someone to ask me about Orick (the town where Laurel's cabin is.) It's a fascinating little town that literally is in this pocket of land just off the road in the middle of Redwood National Forest. It's a neat little place and no one ever asks about it. 

3 Quick Facts:

3 things that make you feel better-

Hot baths, chocolate, working out.

2 things that are considered weird-

I love vinegar. Rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, Balsamic vinegar. Love it!!! I also love broccoli.

1 thing that you can't go a day without doing-

This may sound sappy, but kissing my husband. I have a really special relationship with my husband and even after being together for almost ten years, I still miss him when he leaves the room. 

Handling Rejection

Today, I visited the hospital for a routine check-up on my sprained wrist. I slipped on a sliced lemon at work. Yeah, I know soo funny cause a lemon did me in, right? Not even a banana peel. Nope. I had the satisfaction of being taking down by a lemon slice. 

Anyway, I went into the wrong building and found myself at the emergency room. I saw a family crying there. It got me thinking about the grief some people go through. The dictionary defines greif as keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or lose; sharp sorrow; painful regret. In criminology, we're taught to learn from and rely on books, on facts, on definitives when it comes to dealing with victims. But in life, strict definitions rarely apply. In life, grief can look like a lot of things that bear little resemblance to sharp sorrow.

Grief is something no-one wants to deal with.

It's also something people should consider next time they get rejected because of a "query letter or partial." I guess what I'm trying to say is that next time someone is discouraged because of a standard rejection, remember what you've read. Think about the pains others have dealt with or the pain you've dealt with sometime in your life and remember it's not the end of the world.

My first novel got rejected by about. . .eighty-something agents. (Definitely justified by that way. That first novel was a hot mess. New one? Much better and polished, but word to the wise writing about college kids is hard to sell. Those are the forgotten years in publishing. Luckily, the new one is the awesome high school years *laughs*) Next time you get one think about other things. Don't let two or three sentences ruin your day. I'm sure others would love to be in your place. The abilities to walk, to talk, to sing, to feel, to love. . .those are great things. Things not everyone in the world are able to have.

I saw on television the other day a show where a man lost his entire family in a car crash. Yeah, it wasn't real, but stuff like that really happens in life. Now THAT is what I call having a bad day.

Take those rejections like you do a bad hair day. Suck it up and move on. Like many agents say, "All you need is one yes." So deal with the no's because, one day, you'll get that yes.

Sep 24, 2009

Query Wars

Hmmm. . .So, it seems I got another nibble today for a partial. Yes, I'm excited, but the waiting process is sooo long! 

For those interested in my stats:

Total Queries: 31
    Q. Rejections: 13
    Q. to Partial Requests: 6
          In consideration: 4
          Rejection: 1
          Turned to Full: 1
     Q. I'm still waiting on: 12

So, today I decided to pick up a L.J. Smith's reprinted Dark Visions trilogy. It's the only series of hers I've never read so I figured I'd hop to it. What else? Ahhh, I strongly agree with Simner's advice on Awesome site. Also, if you haven't already, I suggest checking out There's some great people there that will help you through editing queries, rejections, manuscript editing, and all other good stuff. So, check it out!

Tomorrow I'll finally be posting the interview with the lovely Aprilynne! So, be sure to check back!

Now, excuse me while I go read and eat cookies.

Author Interview: Janni Lee Simner

"The war between humanity and Faerie devastated both sides. Or so fifteen-year-old Liza has been told. Nothing has been seen or heard from Faerie since, and Liza's world bears the scars of its encounter with magic. Corn resists being harvested; dandelions have thorns. Trees move with sinister intention, and the town Liza calls home is surrounded by a forest that threatens to harm all those who wander into it. Still Liza feels safe. Her father is strong and has protected their town by laying down strict rules. Among them: Any trace of magic must be destroyed, no matter where it is found. 

Then Liza's sister is born with faerie-pale hair, clear as glass, and Liza's father leaves the baby on a hillside to die. When her mother disappears into the forest and Liza herself discovers she has the faerie ability to see--into the past, into the future--she has no choice but to flee. Liza's quest will take her into Faerie and back again, and what she finds along the way may be the key to healing both worlds."

First off, I want to thank Ms. Simner for answering a few questions today. And, for those of you who've read the book, the awaited interview is finally here! If you're visiting my blog and haven't read this book, well, you'll have to leave. Seriously. Shoo. Just kidding, but seriously I suggest you go to your nearest B&N and grab a copy. 

Anyway, I'm exited to bring you a Q&A with Janni Lee Simner!

Rambling to Interviews: Did you always want to be a writer?


Janni Lee Simner: I always wanted to write (and always did write), but I don't think I realized that maybe I could write for publication until around the time I graduated from college. I didn't know if I would ever sell my work, but I spent the last of my student loan money on my first computer and told myself that I would write something -- even if it was only a few words -- every single day. The thought of writing a whole book was overwhelming, but the thought of those few words wasn't as scary -- I knew I could do that. (I didn't yet know how much work it would be to revise those words into something others would want to read, but there was time for that later!)


RI: What is your goal as a writer?


JLS: To keep getting a little better with every book I write -- there's always something new to learn, which is part of what I love about writing. It always challenges me, and I never get bored with or tired of it.


And of course, I also hope to keep selling those books, so that they can make their way out into the world where others can read them!


RI: What is your writing style? Outline or no outline?


JLS: No outline!


If I have a choice, anyway. I'm happy to write an outline when I need to present one as a sales tool, but it's not the way I prefer to write. I prefer to jump in and find the story by writing it. The first draft, I often tell the entirely wrong story, actually. Then the next draft gets closer to the right story, and then I spend several drafts after making that story compelling and readable. It's sort of like the first draft is the exploratory draft (where I'm finding out what characters and tensions are available to me), the second draft is the incoherent draft (where I tell the right story, mostly, but it's pretty rough and rambly), and the third draft (and the several drafts after that) are where it begins to come together. By the fourth draft or so, I'm compressing the story and adding details; by maybe the fifth I'm polishing the language.


I do think whether or not to outline is a really individual call, though. Writers all think and work so differently--the important thing is for each writer to find a process that works for us, and then to make the most of it.


RI: Faeries have been a major trend lately, yet your book manages to take a fresh spin on the subject. What made you come up with such an interesting post apocalyptic world? Was it the main character whispering to you as you've mentioned on your website?


JLS: The whole story really did come from that opening scene. I wrote it fifteen years ago now, and I still don't entirely know where it came from! I was already fascinated with faeries, and had been reading lots of early urban fantasy, and the opening ... just happened, with its image of Liza (I wasn't even sure of her name yet) describing how her baby sister was set out on a hillside for the faeries to take. I loved that opening, but it terrified me, too, because I didn't know what came next, or how to write a book worthy of those first few pages. So I went off and wrote other things, and worked on becoming a better and better writer until I was finally ready to tell the rest of the story.


It's funny -- when I started writing Bones of Faerie, no one was writing about faeries anymore, and I kind of worried there'd be no place for a book about them. I had no idea lots of other people were writing faerie books too, and that by the time Bones of Faerie sold, they would be a trend! Sometimes I wonder what it is that makes many writers decide to write about the same things at the same time without realizing it. And what's really fascinating is how when we do that, we all still wind up telling very different sorts of stories -- I love how that happens!


RI: The romance is intriguing and subtle. (Sorry, don't want to contain spoilers) Did you draw from some of your own experiences when it came to the characters?


JLS: Interesting question! I think not directly ... but I am very much a fan of relationships that begin as friendships (I'm also lucky enough to be married to my best friend), so that probably did have some influence. I figure if you're not friends, what's the point? And I also think romance doesn't always begin with sparks flying the moment your eyes meet -- sometimes it sneaks up on you while you're busy doing other things, and I like seeing that in fiction, too.


RI: For those of us wanting to learn more about Tara, Caleb, Kate, and Matthew, can you tell us anything about a sequel? (Due out in 2011)


JLS: I can't say much mostly because I don't know much yet! I'm still in the middle of one of my early "incoherent" drafts, so even the things I think I know are likely to change. I can say that we'll be back in Liza's point of view, probably during the winter after the end of Bones of Faerie. I want to know more about all the characters, too, which is one reason I'm thrilled to be writing a sequel -- writing is a process of discovery for me, and I'm learning things right along with Liza.


RI: The querying process generally deals with loads of rejection. Was your first novel picked up quickly or did you face a lot of,  "While your story sounds interesting, I'm afraid it isn't right for me"?


JLS: I've definitely gotten letters like this for most of my books, and for many of my short stories, too. The book I sold before Bones of Faerie (Secret of the Three Treasures, which is aimed at kid rather than teen readers) received a large collection of rejection letters that mostly said, "I love this book, it's perfect, but I don't think I can sell it" before I received an offer. Bones of Faerie is the first book I sold with an agent, so it found a home a little more quickly, but there were still publishers who liked the writing but thought the book wasn't right for them. (But given how much I love working with my editor, I really don't regret those rejections at all -- his enthusiasm and concrete suggestions for how to make the book better have both made a huge difference.) 


RI: Any advice for those looking to land an agent?


JLS: Be persistent. Do your research, and try to find out both what various agents are looking for and what sorts of books they tend to represent -- is a good resource, and many writers also acknowledge their agents in their books as well. Query agents who genuinely seem a good fit, and don't give up if the first few tries you get turned down.


Also, start working on your next book even while you're querying the first one. If the book you're working on turns out not to be right for anyone, possibly the next book (which, because we're all always improving as writers, will probably be a better book) will fare better.


RI: What's the one question no one ever asks you, but you wish they would?  (Plus the answer please!)


JLS: Q: What's your favorite apocalyptic poem?


A: Richard Wilbur's "Advice to a Prophet" ( -- I was reciting bits of it aloud long before I knew I'd be writing a post-apocalyptic novel. I'm also fond of the eerie imagery of W.B. Yeats' "The Second Coming" (


3 Quick Facts:


Favorite author-

Madeleine L'Engle (started reading her as a teen and still turn to her books for comfort now)

Books you're reading at the moment-

Kathleen Duey's Sacred Scars, Kate Messner's The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z, and The Illiad

Bad movie you secretly love-

Do old (70s and 80s) Doctor Who episodes count?


RI: Yes, it does! Again, thanks so much for the wonderful interview!


JLS: Thanks for having me here, and for your good words about Bones of Faerie!

Sep 20, 2009

Warning: Churchy Post

So, today I went to church and afterwards I was in a discussion on what to do if you found money. Now, my first thought would naturally be to take it--if it's one of those no I.D., no photo, no address instances--and say see yah, but the more I thought about it, people really shouldn't take what isn't theirs if their is some POSSIBLE way to finding who it belongs to. 

Okay, there are exceptions to the rule like if you walk in on a drug deal gone bad. Sure, I'd take it--granted there wouldn't be a repeat of No Country For Old Men.  Yeah, running for my life is not something I plan on doing. I make my characters do things like that. But anyway, if there's a chance to give something back...Why not do it? Okay, okay, okay. I'm not saying if you find random money lying on the road somewhere you hold it up and ask the crowd whose it is. C'mon now. People would be on you like your the next Masiah (no pun intended). I'm just saying if you can give something back you should because you never know what that money could be for.

On the lighter note, a family member was discussing how someone had left their money belt in the casino bathroom stall. Looking over the fact of WHY it was taken off is something my family doesn't do. My grandfather, the jokester he is, decided to say "Well, I guess that guy could say, "Oh shit, I guess I'm out of luck." I'm hoping someone reading this understood that joke. If not. . .read again.

You're probably saying what the heck does any of this have to do with writing. Well, it didn't. Now, I guess is sort of does. I guess there's a point in every writer's life where they should ask themselves what they are writing for. If the answer is for money. Step away from the keyboard, or typewriter, or pen if your amish.

Me? I write because I love it. Those moments where your writing pulls you out of the real world, well, it's hard to stop. I think good writer's HAVE to write like it's a drug. I've written since I was a wee little one with fragment sentences, misspellings, and doodles.

Sep 18, 2009

Book to Movie

I'm sure many of you are excited about Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely becoming a movie. Yes, I'm one of those people. Like I said--dork. For those of you who haven't heard, Melissa Marr sold the Wicked Lovely movie rights to Universal Pictures. The movie will be produced by Wild West Picture Show Productions and adapted by Caroline Thompson. No casting news has been announced, but I'll definitely keep you updated. Stay tuned!

Ahhh, there's more.

Yesterday was the lovely Marr's interview with Blog Talk Radio. Go to to hear about her new adult anthology. The book also features Kim Harrison, Jeaniene Frost, Jocelynn Drake, and Vicki Pettersson.
"Not all hunters are bound by human laws. . .

Revisiting the paranormal realms they've made famous in their wildly popular fiction, New York Times bestselling authors Kim Harrison, Jeaniene Frost, Vicki Pettersson, and Jocelynn Drake--plus New York Times bestselling YA author Melissa Marr with her first adult supernatural thriller--unleash their full arsenal of dark talents, plunging us into the shadows where supernatural stalk the unsuspecting. . .and every soul is a target.

Get ready for the ride of your life--because the wildest magic has just been unleashed. . .and evil is about to have its day."

Publishing News

The Latest novel from "Da Vinci Code" author Dan Brown, "The Lost Symbol," broke one-day sales records, its publisher and booksellers said. Readers snapped up over one million hardcover copies across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom after it was released on Tuesday, said publisher Knopf Doubleday, a division of Random House Inc.

"We are seeing historic, record-breaking sales across all types of our accounts in North America for 'The Lost Symbol," said Sonny Mehta, editor in chief of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Knopf Doubleday is a division of Random House Inc. Inc, the world's largest online retailer, called the book its bestselling first-day adult fiction title ever, including pre-orders.

Barnes & Noble Inc said "The Lost Symbol" broke its previous one-day sales record for adult fiction.

The success of the Dan Brown's latest is a boost to publisher Knopf Doubleday and booksellers, which have endured sliding sales in the midst of the recession. Booksellers have anxiously awaited a popular title that will resonate with readers and fuel the same sort of frenzy seen earlier this decade with the "Harry Potter" series, from author J.K. Rowling.

--Yahoo! News

Sep 17, 2009

First Post!

Hi everyone! I seem to be interviewing again! My names Ashlee (my last name and where I live will never be mentioned, sorry to say). I'm an unpublished writer who craves midnight helpings of YA novels, whether it be fantasy, paranormal, sci-fi, or whatever else peeks my interest. Bring it on! I'm also an editor for my college newspaper and pursuing a degree in Criminology. 

Hmm...I guess it's time for a list. (Yes, there will be a lot of these. In addition, I will be posting interviews with new authors such as the wonderful Aprilynne Pike, writing tips, publishing & movie rights news, and even some rants about things that just tick me off.)

Onward with the list!

Top 5 Cookies of all time:
Oatmeal Raisin (you will see me mention these a lot)
Chocolate Chip
Oreos (they totally count)
And, of course,  juicy fruit. Kidding. Wanted to see if you were listening!
Okay, last, but not least, fortune cookies. Who doesn't love reading those little, random one-liners?

Don't Forget to Check Back for my interview with the talented Aprilynne Pike!