Friday, February 26, 2010

Can you handle the truth???

Ok, we just had to do an emergency blog to let you guys know about this uber cool contest Joanna Stampfel-Volpe is doing tomorrow between 12 and 1 EST.

Jo will respond to any queries received that hour with 100% honesty. You may see something as simple as "Not bad, but just not for me." or "I don't represent academic non-fiction." OR you may see something like "I stopped reading when you mentioned that the mailman was a vampire space zombie who has come to deliver a message of PAIN. Because come on...seriously?"

Um...is she awesome or what?

Check out all the details at The Neverending Page Turner.

How cool is this? I hope some of you are brave enough to give it a go!

The LiLa Write-Off

Laura had a brilliant idea to do a little exercise where we both had a one-line prompt about our favorite girl detective and then we each write a paragraph about the sentence. Only one Neither of us managed to stick to these rules. Shocker.

Anyways, we thought it would be fun to show you how different our writing styles actually are (this will be even funnier when you read the samples) and even better we'd let you guys decide which sample belongs to which Roecker.

So what do you say? You ready to play?

The prompt: Kate Lowry loses her pearls.

Sample #1:
I groped the velvet seats of the auditorium, using them as a guide, not daring to put my heels to the floor. I knew their click would give away my location. It felt as though my eyes were squeezed shut, but really it was the darkness—thick and suffocating. But that wasn’t the reason I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t breathe because he’d hear. As I moved down the row, I hunched my shoulders attempting to take up as little space as possible, to disappear.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” he yelled. His words came from in front of me, forcing me to silently switch directions.

And that’s how it happened.

My long strand of pearls caught on an armrest or a chair number or a nail or a something and snapped. Pearls dropped to the tile like bombs, tearing through the silence giving me away one by one by one.

Sample #2:
I eyed my 10-speed warily. Obviously, I couldn’t ignore Seth’s cry for help, but I really just wished I had another way to get from point A to point B. Even worse, a brand new, shiny pink helmet hung off one of the handlebars with a sticky note stuck onto it. “Remember the deal. No helmet, no bike! We love you!” It was in my mom’s handwriting. Of course.

I grabbed the helmet and stuffed it on my head. Seth better appreciate the lengths I was willing to go to save his ass. I mean, it’s one thing to be a 15-year-old forced to publicly ride her bike. It’s quite another to have to do so in an adult sized Barbie helmet.

I sped out of my driveway, enjoying the feel of the wind on my face in spite of myself. Riding a bike might be dorky as hell, but it’s also sort of fun. My pearls bounced against my chest as I picked up speed, I swung a left under Farrow’s Arches and skidded to a halt in the garden. I leaned my bike against the frost bitten brick and my breath formed tiny little clouds around my face as I scanned the garden for Seth. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something felt…off.

I felt the warm breath on my neck and started to turn around, relieved that I’d found him.

“Seth?” His name died on my lips as a hand grabbed my pearls and started pulling. Hot panic flooded my body and my hands flew to my neck, clawing at the smooth white beads that dug into my skin. But my fingers kept slipping away, the vice-like grip of the pearls was too tight. My lungs burned and my nails scratched at the delicate skin of my neck even though I knew it was no use.

And then I heard the tiniest pop, and saw the tiny pearls scatter all over the bricks like snow. I fell to the ground and gulped the air greedily, my breath rasping in the quiet of the garden. My head snapped around, looking for my attacker, but the garden was empty.

There was nothing left for me to do except get on my hands and knees and pick up the pearls. One by one.

***

Hmm...one of us is certainly long winded, no? Leave us your best guess in the comments and stop back on Monday to see who wrote what and to read all about the inevitable fight that erupted afterwards.

Have a fab weekend everyone!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Daisy Dishes on the 1,000 True Fans Theory

Our favorite marketing guru, Daisy Whitney, is back with an in-depth look at the 1,000 True Fans Theory.

There’s a theory in marketing that if an artist has 1000 “true fans” she can make a living at her craft.
Lisa, Laura and I wanted to explore this theory in my guest post with an eye toward what it might mean for a teen lit author.

The 1000 True Fans theory was developed by Kevin Kelly, the co-founder of “Wired” magazine and author of the book “What Technology Wants” due out from Viking/Penguin this fall.

He posited that given the massive amount of competing content artists are creating in the Internet age it may appear as if there are only two options – pen a blockbuster or toil away in the backwaters of the Long Tail. But never fear! There is another choice. And an artist can escape obscurity by cultivating 1000 True Fans, he says.

“A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can't wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.”

Yes, he’s talking about musicians in the above quote, but the theory applies to authors too. And 1000 actually sounds doable, right?

But how do you get there?

“You have to maintain direct contact with your 1,000 True Fans,” Kelly says. “Pleasing a True Fan is pleasurable, and invigorating. It rewards the artist to remain true, to focus on the unique aspects of their work, the qualities that True Fans appreciate...You also benefit from the direct feedback and love.”

What that means is you need to LOVE them back. I’ve talked about this notion in other columns here, such as when we’ve discussed social media, blogging and commenting on other blogs. It’s about customer service, it’s about relationships, it’s about real connections!

But does the 1000 True Fans theory work?

Well, let’s look at the theory from the position of a fan.

I am one of Elizabeth Scott’s 1000 True Fans. I read all her books, I post recommendations of her books on my blog, on GoodReads and on Amazon. I rave about her book to other writers, to teens and to anyone else looking for a good read. I’ve bought her books for friends. I also have exchanged emails and Facebook messages with her. I am confident that I have accounted for directly at least 20 sales, if not more, of her books.

If she has at least 1000 fans like me – and she has way more – then she’s generating at least 20,000 sales of each book from those true fans. Her next novel, The Unwritten Rule, releases March 16 (a date I bookmarked on my calendar so I can buy it at the local bookstore). It’s listed at $16.99. If it sells 20,000 copies that equals $339,800 in sales.
Elizabeth will receive some portion of that in royalties. Now, I’m not going to speculate how much exactly each author needs to quit her day job and just live on her writing. However, I do think making a living from writing alone seems doable if you cultivate 1000 True Fans.
I’m a believer in it only because I have been on the other side. I am a Fan Girl for my favorite authors. I’m playing a big role in keeping them in jammies and slippers in front of their computer all day long, rather than pounding away at a day job.

By day, Daisy Whitney is a producer, on-air correspondent, podcaster and raconteur in the new media business. At night, she writes novels for teens and is the author of The Mockingbirds, to be published by Little, Brown in Fall 2010. When Daisy's not inventing fictional high school worlds, she produces conferences for iMedia and provides strategy consulting to businesses on online video. She is the host of her own online newscast The New Media Minute that covers the business of Internet video and of the top-ranked iTunes audio podcast “This Week in Media."

And remember, Daisy is going to be back next month and she's dying to answer your questions, so ask away in the comments!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Get Fired Up With LiLa in NYC

LiLa is hitting the Big Apple! That's right, we've booked our discount airfare and reserved a room at the swanky Hampton Inn (we travel in style, people) because we're officially attending The Sourcebooks Fire Launch Party.

Get. Excited.

So, here's the deets:

Time: March 18, 2010 from 6pm to 8pm
Location: Books of Wonder
Street: 18 West 18th Street, NY
City/Town: New York, NY 10011

Sourcebooks Fire invites YOU to attend the launch party for our new Young Adult imprint. In attendence will be Fire authors and friends. All books will be available for purchase, including some that won't be out for a few months. Come and have them all autographed!

The event will also feature music by Tiger Beat--the first ever YA author Rock Group featuring Libba Bray, Daniel Ehrenhaft, Barney Miller, and Natalie Standiford.

(Editorial note: Squee!!! Libba Bray? Natalie Standiford? And...the best editor/amazing YA writer on the planet, Dan Ehrenhaft? IN A BAND? Laura and I are going to be a couple of inarticulate fan girls. Is it awkward to ask your editor to sign something that's not a contract? Wait...don't answer that.)

So, we're officially extending the invitation to all of our amazing blog friends. Want to see us make fools of ourselves in front of legendary authors, editors, agents and other publishing professionals? Or perhaps you'd just like to know once and for all which Roecker sister is the fun one? (Spoiler alert: It's totally Lisa. Duh.) Please, please RSVP here and send us an e-mail or a message on the Ning to let us know if you're coming. We'd love to meet some of you guys in person!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday...

Please note these are Lisa and Laura's truths in no particular order. We're keeping them quasi anonymous this week so you can't call child services.


  • I judge the girls on 16 and Pregnant while watching 16 and Pregnant and reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear at the same time.
  • Yesterday I told my daughter to lie about her age so she could spend an hour in our grocery store daycare. I seriously thought about bringing my laptop with me so I could spend an hour writing after I did my grocery shopping. Only problem is that now she's convinced she's three and her birthday isn't until May. Yeah.
  • For the past two weeks I've taken a nap every. single. day.
  • I read magazines in the locker room at the gym until my 2 hours worth of child care is up.
  • Sometimes I can barely write one sentence without screwing around on the Internet. This completely explains why it takes me 7 hours of computer time to write 1,000 words.
  • Even though everyone told us not to feel obligated, we can't stop responding to comments. It's like a compulsion. In fact, at some point someone is probably going to find one (or more likely, both) of us collapsed on our laptops with our comments folder open. Death by comments.


Ok, people, what's your truth this Tuesday?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mistake by the Lake?

When scrolling through Yahoo's top stories this past Friday, something caught my eye. The word, "Cleveland" next to the words, "Number One." I knew I moved home for a reason. Cleveland is number one.

And then I read the article.

Cleveland earned the number one spot on Forbes' most MISERABLE cities list. Yowser. Apparently our weather blows, over 71,000 people have hightailed it out of here over the past five years, and our unemployment rate and income tax levels are through the roof. Oh, and it's dangerous. Like, really dangerous.

Clearly the Forbes editors haven't ever lived in Cleveland and lucky for them we're here to report the top 10 8 6 reasons why Cleveland doesn't suck.

Listen up, bitches.

6. In 2005, The Economist ranked Cleveland as the best city for business meetings in the continental U.S. Cleveland encourages quick and efficient work. What's not to like about that? And no, this doesn't have to do with foreigners wanting to leave, Forbes.

5. Clevelanders are committed. Despite years of heartache, people still dress up in orange and brown (some are even known to snap on a leash, get inside of a cage and then crawl on all fours to a doggie bowl full of beer, er, not that we know them personally or anything) and cheer on the Browns. Each and every year, my husband is convinced we're going to the super bowl. I guess you could say his hope tank is full. And so are the tanks of thousands of Browns' fans. They just keep comin' back.

Which leads me to my next point...

4. We always cheer for the underdog. Clevelanders take pride in supporting independent stores, mom and pop shops and local boutiques. With stores like Baci, Sweet Threads (you can't call yourself a Clevelander unless you've purchased a prom dress at Sweet Threads where they make sure that no one at your school purchases your dress. Now that is customer service!), Stroller Mama, or our favorite independent book store The Learned Owl. What can we say? We like to keep it in the family.

3. Cleveland is the home of the first traffic light. When you're sitting in traffic, you can thank us. We were also the first city to get pedestrian controls for traffic lights. I guess you could call us traffic light connoisseurs.

2. Cleveland has great museums. We have the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Great Lakes Science Center, The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, The Cleveland Museum of Art, you name it, we've got it. The Roecker family has some fond memories in some of these museums. Mainly, Stacey at the tender age of three screaming, "GET! ME! OUT! OF! HERE!" when seeing the huge skeletons of dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum. Good. Times.

1. And the number one reason Cleveland doesn't suck is...The people. Cleveland is made up of overwhelmingly nice people. People who are committed to making the city a better place, people who set up shop and lay down roots in Cleveland, people who do stay and some of us (*ahem*) even come back. And we're funny too. We know how to take a joke and we're not afraid to laugh at ourselves.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Forbes.

Still have doubts about Cleveland's fabulousity? Take a look at Liz Lemon's take on our fine city...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Happy (almost) Birthday Laura!

Well, Laura is turning the ripe old age of 29 this Sunday and even though the great Diet Coke battle rages on, I couldn't let the day pass without honoring my overly sensitive, poetically inclined, middle sister.

So, without further ado, here are the Top 5 Reasons Laura Roecker rocks:

1. Laura is always up for anything. Seriously. When we were little I used to dress her up as a boy and call her Patrick and she was totally fine with it. And whenever we played Mermaid and Seahorse, she was always the Seahorse in spite of the fact that I outweighed her by a good 15 pounds. So I guess it was only natural that when we had our epic phone conversation about doing something with our lives and I suggested rewriting PRIDE AND PREJUDICE for young adults (so original, I know), Laura was totally on board.

2. Laura is good at everything I suck at. She's really thoughtful and sensitive. She's good at writing descriptions and actual emotions. And she's got wicked poetry skills. I'm too blunt, impulsive and if I wrote a book by myself it would be all plot and one-liners. Oh, and don't even ask about my poetry skills. They're nonexistent. Basically, I'm only half a woman. Laura, you complete me.

3. Laura never gets annoyed with me. I have what some people might call a "strong personality." I'm bossy, crabby, and oftentimes downright bitchy. Shockingly, some people aren't really on board with being bossed around by yours truly. But Laura never complains, she never screens my phone calls and she even lets me get my way. Well, sometimes anyways.

4. Laura never judges me. I can literally tell Laura anything and she just gets it. My three-year-old still sleeps in a crib mostly because it doubles as a kind of sleep cage. When I confessed to Laura she told me she recently read a book that said a crib until three years of age actually supports good discipline. SCORE. Yesterday, I casually mentioned that I'd like to purchase a poster of Zach Efron for my bedroom. Laura agrees that if I didn't live with my husband and two children this kind of thing would be totally normal for a thirty-year-old woman. See? No judgement.

5. Laura is smart. I mean, obviously, she's smart because she's an amazing writer, but she also gives amazing advice. Let's face it, without her insight I'd have a picture of Zach Efron on my ceiling and I'd probably be in the middle of a mental breakdown. Laura just has this way of making things seem OK even when you're bawling your eyes out because you're convinced your children are sociopaths. It's very endearing.

And finally, because I've had many, many requests for some embarrassing Laura pictures I decided to put together a little slideshow for your viewing pleasure. Some of you might remember the humiliation that was my birthday post back in October.

Yeah, payback really is a bitch.


Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Happy Birthday Laura!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Comment Whores

So, it's no secret that we love the blogosphere, bloggers, blogging and pretty much everything blog related. And our very favorite thing about our own blog is the AMAZING comments we get every single day. We always try to respond to comments in some way shape or form, whether it's a quick e-mail or a visit to your blog, we love getting to know you guys.

Unfortunately, lately we're running into issues with time. Mainly that we don't have enough of it. Stupid time. Anyways, we decided we'd put it to a vote. How do you guys prefer to be contacted after you've left a comment on a blog post?

How do you want to interact with LiLa?
Receive response to comments via e-mail.
Comment on your personal blog.
Response to comment in the comment section at this blog.
I don't really give a crap.
pollcode.com free polls
And we'd love to hear all about how you manage comments and keep up with blogs in the comments. Will you hate us if we stop responding to every single comment? And how do you find time to visit new blogs? We want to keep expanding our network of writer friends, but that bastard time keeps getting in the way.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sister vs. Sister

OK, so you might have noticed that we've been a little crabby lately. (Sorry, Joe Jonas.) And the truth is we're fighting. That's right. We fight sometimes (fine, we fight a LOT of the time) and it's almost always about the writing.

Here's a little snippet of what's been going on in LiLa land:

Lisa: So, I think that twist with the Diet Coke [editorial note: I'm definitely not making this up. There really is a twist in our WIP that involves Diet Coke. And it's AWESOME.] really works.

Laura: I don't know. I'm still not sure why she would drink it. I mean, what's her motivation?

Lisa: *too pissed off to type*

Laura: We just need to make sure that everything makes sense.

Lisa: Yeah, well I still think the first four chapters SUCK. There's just something a little off. They're not working.

Laura: You're being too hard on them.

Lisa: Whatever.

Laura: Fine, I'll fix them, but what's wrong?

Lisa: I don't know. They're just not right. I'll do it.

Laura: No, I'll do it and I'll fix that stupid Diet Coke crap while I'm at it.

Lisa: Fine.

Laura: Fine.

Um, yeah, so apparently writing as a team is all fun and games until someone thinks up a plot twist involving diet soda.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Twenty Questions for Joe Jonas

1. Are those real glasses or the kind that come with the nose and eyebrows?

2. Why the bandana?

3. Are you really working up a sweat on that bike?

4. Is that a green spicket on the front or some sort of good luck charm?

5. Did you attach that little skull to the handlebars to scare birds or look cool?

6. Is that a purity ring I spy on your left finger?

7. Or are you the married Jo Bro?

8. If you're married why in God's name did your wife let you out looking like this?

9. Is that a swatch watch?

10. What size are those pants?

11. Did you intentionally match your shoes and bandana to the bike?

12. What do your dog tags say?

13. Did Robert Palmer loan you that blazer?

14. Do you even know who Robert Palmer is?

15. If you happened to fall and skin your knee would you bleed real blood or yellow robot fluid?

16. Are you aware that your stylist has a deep seeded hatred for you?

17. Do you think Walt Disney would spin in his cryogenic chamber if he saw you cavorting around like this in the name of Disney?

18. Do you ever get to hang out with Zach Effron?

19. Your hands look REALLY soft, 'fess up, you totally do weekly paraffin treatments don't you?

20. Do you regret doing this?

Now it's your turn, what questions do you have for good old Joe? Let us know in the comments. I'm sure he'll be checking in throughout the day.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ask LiLa: Random Questions

This week we've got some interesting questions (and some rather pathetic answers) from the hilariously random Simon.

Um... You did ask, right? Okay. Just checking. 'Cause I'm just going to go stream of consciousness here...

1. Why don't we see teenage zombies in love in books if we've got werewolves and vampires and stuff having heart palpitations all over the place?

Zombies are distinctly unloveable. We think it has something to do with the fact that they're comprised of rotting flesh. BUT...perhaps this is a gap in the market? Idea whore file here we come...

2. Why do you guys live in Ohio? Seriously. I know what Ohio's like. I've been to Youngstown.

Dude, haven't you seen the tourism videos? Cleveland ROCKS. Um, and two words for you: free babysitting. All of our relatives live here. Doesn't get much better than that.

3. If I ask questions in stream-of-consciousness mode, what are the odds that one's going to pop out that you'll actually answer?

Surprisingly good.

4. Wouldn't your vlogs be funnier if you wrote soundtracks and choreographed dance numbers for them?

Why, yes, yes they would be. But they'd also be humiliating and potentially damaging to our reputation as serious authors who write serious books and take themselves very seriously. Yeah, we totally couldn't get through that last part without laughing.

5. Why haven't you watched Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog yet, if NPH is one of your favorite people ever?

Dammit. I love me some Neil Patrick Harris and I have no good answer for this question. I will watch it this week and post a review. Pinky swear promise.

6. Did you see NPH in the superbowl commercials last night? And if so, did you call that number? You know you did. What happened when you called it?

Um, you know we're allergic to football, right? Totally missed the commercials. I was watching Emma on PBS. Sadly, Mr. Knightly didn't hold up signs with toll free numbers, but if he did I totally would have called.

7. Am I going to run out of odd questions before my fingers get tired of typing?

*Waits patiently for Simon to answer his own question*

8. No.

Victory!

9. Should I keep going till I reach ten random questions?

Looks like we're sort of committed at this point. I mean we could stop at nine, but ten is such a nice, round number.

10. Why don't you say "douche" in your blog posts? You can totally get away with it, y'know.

Here's the thing, our book is going to be marketed to "savvy tweens." We're guessing these faceless young women are probably familiar with the term "douche-bag," but we figure we might be slightly less offensive to their parents if we continue to use the "d-bag" euphemism. This is just one of the many little white lies we like to tell ourselves.

11. If you could have lunch with any YA author, living or dead, what would you get to drink?

First off, we'd totally have lunch with Simone Elkeles. We have a girl crush on her right now. Have you seen her book trailer for PERFECT CHEMISTRY? She totally seems like our kind of girl, no? Also, I'm in the middle of LEAVING PARADISE right now and it rocks.

Anyways, I think it goes without saying what we'd be drinking at lunch with Simone. Prosecco! Duh.

Er.. there. You're welcome.

Cheers,

Simon

Thanks for playing Simon!

Do you have any questions you're just dying to have us answer? Send us an e-mail at lisa-laura(at)live.com. Come on, you know you want to...

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Freaky Valentine

Dear Stephen King,

It's almost Valentine's Day and I just finished UNDER THE DOME so I thought it might be time for a mushy love letter to the schlockmeister himself.

You see, I've loved you for a long time. My love began (as so many loves do) in my preteen years. I somehow got my hot little hands on a copy of CARRIE and it was all over. I loved Christopher Pike, but you put him to shame. As Renee Zellweger would say, "You had me at hello" or in this case you had me with all that telekinetic energy and blood. And like any teenager in love I became slightly obsessed and read every single one of your books.

I wish I could say my obsession has lessened with age, but it hasn't. I still get a little fangirl shiver when I see you've got a new book being released and I usually end up pre-ordering like the rest of the junkies.

I'll admit I doubted you when I first began reading UNDER THE DOME. Honestly, I sort of wanted to hate it because it was so freaking cumbersome. I think I might have sprained my wrist just trying to read the damn thing in bed. But it was amazing, as usual. Chock full of the creepy ass fantastical stuff you're known for and grimly underscored with the scariest shit of all: human nature.

Bravo.

You have no way of knowing this, but in our tiny little corner of the writing universe, Laura and I are working on the second book in our series. At this point all we've got is a killer outline and a couple of flat chapters. Something just wasn't working and as soon as I read the last page of UNDER THE DOME, I knew exactly what it was. Tension. There just wasn't enough of it. We need this book to start off like that last moment where the roller coaster is creeping to the top of the hill, a couple of ominous clinks and clacks and then you're soaring downward, aware of nothing but the wind in your hair and the scream stuck in your throat. I think for this book to live up to its potential, we need to channel the schlockmeister himself. I only hope we're up to the challenge.

Oh and I really like your columns in Entertainment Weekly. They totally reaffirm my suspicions that you're a pretty cool dude both on and off the page.

So, um, thanks and Happy Valentine's Day. I was totally going to send you some chocolate covered Twizzlers, but I polished them off while I was reading your behemoth of a book. What can I say? All that gore makes me hungry.

XOXO,
Lisa

Thursday, February 11, 2010

LiLa - The Early Years

Many people think it's odd that two grown sisters spend so much time together. I mean, let's face it, Twilight slumber parties with your sister when you're 15? Awesome. Twilight slumber parties with your sister when you're 30? Questionable at best.

Others wonder how we can work so closely together without killing each other and the truth is: We've been working the same craptastic jobs together our entire lives. Yup, you heard it here first. Team LiLa was actually born one fateful day back in 1996 at Dr. L and G's Dentist Office.

Now, being 15 and 17 and working as receptionists in a dentist office might sound like a really glamorous job, but, sadly, the reality was grim. Dr. L was approximately 85 years old. He didn't wear gloves and he had this weird policy where you had to bring his appointment book into exam rooms with a little note attached when there were dental emergencies. After you stood there for a minute or ten, he'd take whatever instrument was in his hand and gesture vaguely at the appointment book to schedule the patient.

And there were a LOT of emergencies mainly because he was too old to be practicing. Bridges were constantly falling out and root canals almost always required multiple appointments. Laura couldn't sleep for a week when she heard a horror story from the dental assistants (which, no joke, were girls from our high school with zero training) about a patient who had an abscess that popped. She didn't know what an abscess was, but it didn't matter. Something popping in a mouth was horrifying regardless of what it actually might have been. Dr. L's particular brand of dentistry meant that 99% of his patients walked out of the office with one huge, fused-together tooth. Actually two, if you counted the bottom "teeth."

Now, Dr. G was the younger and angrier of the two dentists. No doubt he was ashamed to be working in a practice where the teenaged "receptionists" frequently dined on pasta marinara and made prank phone calls from the front desk. As a result, when emergencies came in for Dr. G there was always an argument about who would have to take the note back to the exam room. He'd frequently mutter four letter words under his breath when he saw one of us standing there in our tapered white jeans from Dots (yeah, that was the office uniform) and if Laura was the poor jackhole standing there with the book, he'd completely ignore her and she'd cry.

Good. Times.

Responsibilities for LiLa at Dr. L and G's Office Included:
  • Making fake patient charts (Mr. I.M. Coloring, anyone?)

  • Fielding fake appointment calls from the mean girl dental assistants (yeah, the ones from our high school). Laura ALWAYS fell for the ones made in an Irish accent and cried afterwards.

  • Wrapping scotch tape around the tooth brushes attached to the bathroom keys so patients didn't use the tooth brush in the bathroom. Don't laugh. It happened.

  • Ordering random and increasingly complex food from local restaurants. We ate chinese, Boston Chicken, bagels and a crap load of pizza all while welcoming patients into the office. Classy.

  • Snooping through Dr. L's ginourmous collection (we're talking wall-to-wall stacks) of old Playboy magazines piled in his decrepit office. He also chain-smoked back there so when we ordered food, it mixed with Dr. L's smoke to create a stench typically associated with college bars before they passed laws about smoking in public spaces. Precisely the atmosphere you're looking for you visit the dentist.

Writing books together is a cake walk compared to this. And we haven't even told you about the summer when Lisa was a waitress at The Ground Round and Laura was the hostess. Let's just say Lisa cried almost every time Laura seated a customer in her section and often completely forgot about entire tables of people.

I guess it was only natural for us to team up together for this next adventure. The only thing we know for sure is that someone's bound to start sobbing uncontrollably at some point.

Buckle up.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The D-Bag-O-Meter: The Boys of The Buried Life


Dear Jonnie, Ben, Dave and Duncan,

You are officially four of the coolest guys we've ever "met." You've crashed a Playboy party, made a toast at a random couple's wedding (who were super-gracious, by the way), tried to ask out Megan Fox and even helped deliver a baby. But more than that, you've raised money to buy a computer for a classroom in need, helped a dad reunite with his son after seventeen years, helped a little girl tackle her fear of roller coasters and bought a plane ticket for a young woman so she could finally say goodbye to her mother who was buried in Denver after Hurricane Katrina.

Oh, and you've made us cry.

You've restored our faith in MTV's ability to produce quality television. You're changing peoples' lives and inspiring other young people (and, um...not so young people) to do the same. And most of all you've proved that you don't have to be a complete d-bag just because you're on a reality television show. Yeah, Jon Gosselin, we're looking at you.

Rock on boys, rock on.




The D-Bag-O-Meter has spoken. These boys are giving George a run for his money. I mean, I don't see Mr. Clooney traveling around the country on a big purple bus listening to peoples' stories, raising money and changing lives, right? Well, unless you count that whole telethon thing that ended up raising millions of dollars.

So, in honor of non-d-bags across the world, we must leave you with the official Buried Life question: What do you want to do before you die?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Want a critique of your first 1,000 words?


Visit Teen Fire

Laura and I have been spending more and more time hanging out at the Teen Fire Ning. It's good times over there people. Lots of amazing writers and book lovers networking, critiquing and discussing all things young adult.

We even have our own page. Isn't it pretty? There's just something about pink and green that makes me happy.

Okay, moving on.

The latest addition to the Teen Fire Ning is a Writer's Forum. We've spent hours combing through the various snippets writers have posted and offering our feedback. Some of the entries are truly amazing. The coolest part is that Sourcebooks Fire editors have agreed to read up to 1,000 words of the three selections with the most comments once a week, and to in-turn post suggestions, comments or any other constructive criticism.

Given that so many of you guys are aspiring writers, we figured that we'd make you guys a deal. If you are one of our blog followers and you join the Teen Fire Ning and post the first 1,000 words of your manuscript in the Fire Ning Writer's Forum, we'll critique it. Just send us a message on the Ning to let us know it's out there.

Can't wait to read some of your work!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ask LiLa: Getting Points for Originality

Today our question is from the lovely Ella of Blogger Girlz fame.

Hey guys!

I was just wondering if you have any advice on writing a kick ass, original first draft. I've been having a really tough time writing my current WIP lately because I'm afraid my plot ideas aren't original enough and that they resemble the work of a YA author whose work I adore and can't seem to stop thinking about as I work on my own writing. Help!

Thanks!
Ella

Well Ella, originality is something all writers struggle with. After all, we're all pretty much retelling the same seven stories. And yet, according to our agent you must have a "stunning new idea" to be able to truly compete in publishing.

So yeah, no pressure.

Honestly, we've come to the conclusion that you've just got to write stories that you love and worry about originality later. Obviously this isn't fool proof (which may or may not explain how we've ended up with two manuscripts collecting dust on our shelves), but what else can you do? After all, some of our favorite books could be considered knock-offs. SOME GIRLS ARE was reminiscent of SPEAK, but it's still one of the best books we've read...well...ever in large part to some wicked plot twists, stomach-ache-inducing-tension and Courtney Summer's inimitable voice.

XOXO,
L&L

P.S.
Remember to e-mail us at lisa-laura(at)live.com with your questions! We love answering them. The more random the better.

P.P.S.
We've got a super exciting post going up tomorrow for all of you aspiring writers out there so be sure to check back. Trust us, you won't want to miss it!

Friday, February 5, 2010

In Pursuit of the Trivial

In retrospect, I should have known this was a terrible idea. Vlogs and trivia questions aren't typically a good combination.

But I was so confident I could thoroughly kick LMJ's ass in this competition. I always dominate when I play Pop Culture Trivial Pursuit with my family. I guess this speaks more to the intellectual pop culture capacity (or lack thereof) of the Roecker family rather than my exemplary trivia skills.

Hindsight is a bitch.




Click here to see how LMJ fared. I hope she doesn't completely humiliate me...

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

LiLa on Twilight the Movie

Well, last night was the big night. That's right. We watched the movie Twilight for the first time. We've read all the books, but after hearing terrible reviews of the movie itself we knew this was a feature film we had to watch in the privacy of our own home. I mean, what's the point of watching a bad movie if you can't mainline Diet Coke and Twizzlers with the option to replay scenes like Edward running up the mountain with Bella on his back over and over and over again. (We seriously almost peed our pants.)

As you can imagine we have a lot of commentary on the movie itself. We could literally go on for days. But in the interest of time we'll wrap this up with two things:

First off, the movie is AWESOMELY bad. Seriously. It's terrible in the best way possible. (We were officially hooked a mere 11 minutes 24 seconds in.)

And secondly....


P.S.
The winner of our signed ARC of THE NAUGHTY LIST is...

Anissa! Congratulations!!!

Everyone else needs to go order a copy today! Happy release day Suzanne!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How NOT to Get Published by Suzanne Young

We had the distinct honor of reading an ARC of Suzanne Young's debut, THE NAUGHTY LIST. This book is SO much fun! In fact, I think someone should make this the official book of Spring Break 2010. It’s about a group of girls who investigate and catch cheating boyfriends. Genius, right?

And because Suzanne rocks, she not only wrote a killer guest blog about her road to publication (we're getting to that, I promise), she's also given us a signed ARC of THE NAUGHTY LIST to give to one lucky reader!!! To enter just make sure you're a follower and leave a comment on this post. You've got till 7 AM EST February 4th to enter. And even if you're not the lucky winner, THE NAUGHTY LIST goes on sale tomorrow, so you can pick up your own copy. See, in LiLa land everyone wins!

And now, we give you HOW NOT TO GET PUBLISHED by Suzanne Young.

There are tons of posts about how to get published, the ins and outs, the secrets to success. But here is a guide to sure failure.*

*Disclaimer-This is my journey to publication
  1. Write a book very quickly, like in a few weeks. Don’t let anyone edit it; after all, you don’t really know what editing would entail. Instead, you post chapters on a forum and ask people for advice. They tear it up. You cry. Then without making any changes, you query anyway.
  2. Your query stinks. It honestly begins with something like, “Hi. My name is Suzanne Young and I wrote a book called…” You get form rejections. You’ve never seen a query before and decide to maybe look into it. You post yours on a forum and they tear it up. Again. This time you rewrite.
  3. Success! An editor wants to view your first novel. Right, did I mention that you were querying editors directly? Because an agent? What—like a real estate agent? Don’t get it. You mail out full ASAP.
  4. While you wait, you begin writing another book. Finish it. Then query it, all while an editor is still reviewing your first manuscript. Agents request! You’ve got this query writing nailed. In fact, you spend your free time writing fake queries.
  5. Editor responds. It’s a rejection. Sort of. She says your writing is addictively readable and suggests you contact another editor that she knows. You email her over and over trying to get clarification until she stops responding.
  6. Agent offer of representation! This is it, right? The end of the journey! Finally. You breathe a huge sigh of relief. Actually, since the agent knows of at least 3 editors that will love your manuscript, you don’t worry about the other two who still have it and are considering.
  7. Editor emails to say that your agent submitted your manuscript to another editor at the house. She’s not happy. You feel bad. They reject.
  8. The holidays hit. The world is silent. You start writing. Each month you send your agent a new manuscript. In fact, you send her five. In six months.
  9. An editor that you really like isn’t answering your agent. But you know that he’ll love your latest novel. You ask her to send to him, but she says it’s not ready. You email him directly and ask if he wants to see it. He says yes.
  10. Your agent drops you.
  11. You give up on writing for about two weeks before you start revenge-querying editors. Within the week, you have a call of interest.
  12. An agent reads your blog and emails to offer you representation. From reading your blog. You tell her you’re not really interested.
  13. Another editor is interested. That’s two! And now you realize that you might just need that agent. You accept her offer and sub wider.
  14. You get three offers and sell a multiple book contract to Razorbill.
  15. You dance like a fool like this



Huge thanks to Lisa and Laura for letting me guest blog! This blog is seriously one of the coolest ones around! I’m totally honored!!!

BTW, The Naughty List comes out TOMORROW! It’s about a group of girls who investigate and catch cheating boyfriends. Wish they had some of those when I was in high school.

XOXO,
Suzanne Young

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ask Lila: The Feedback Blues

This week we've received a question from a reader who wishes to remain anonymous. To make it more fun, we've given him/her a nickname. Insulted in Seattle. Aren't we original?

Hey guys,
Not sure I feel comfortable having my name out there, so if you could make it anonymous, that would be great!

How do you avoid taking criticism too personally? I've recently received a lot of feedback on my WIP that is mostly constructive and often accurate, but I can't help but feel insulted. Instead of making me want to work harder, I read comments that make me want to give up. How can I work through this?

Thanks ahead of time for the help,

Insulted in Seattle

Dear Insulted in Seattle,
We feel your pain. Writing is quite possibly one of the most subjective businesses around. Just think about queries. When we sent out ten, we definitely heard a few, "not for me's," some almost instantaneously. But on the other hand, we earned a few requests and eventually landed an agent. But as tempting as it was to send some bat-shit crazy email to all of the agents who ever rejected us saying something along the lines of, "booyah!" we held back. Why, you ask? Take a seat.

We try our damnedest to integrate something we like to call, WWSD (What Would Stacey Do?) into our daily lives as much as humanly possible. Stacey is the youngest Roecker sister and is quite possibly the most laid-back person on the planet. She rolls through life letting bad news bounce right off of her. We attribute this particular quirk to years of abuse at the hands of her evil older sisters. Let's just say we gave her the gift of thick skin.


The fact is, Stacey doesn't let anything bother her and she never takes herself too seriously. Combine the two together and you've got a recipe for success. Stacey not only has her own stationary and nursery design business she also designs websites and pretty much anything else you ask her to do. She doesn't worry about taking risks or failing miserably, she just follows her gut and it always pays off.

Think about it. You've got two choices: You can let the feedback humiliate you completely, stifle all of your creativity and eventually just throw in the towel or you can take those insulting lemons and make some lemon drop martinis!


Give yourself some time to digest the feedback and then decide what resonates with you. If you completely disagree with everything your reader told you, get a second opinion. Whatever you do, don't give up. We guarantee you'll end up with stronger writing and a little bit of Stacey-style resilience. Both will serve you well.

Now that you're really on a roll, try your hand at not taking yourself too seriously. This is where it gets tricky. We have been burned (and I mean burned) after taking ourselves way too seriously. This is so good, blah, blah, blah. We nailed this, blah, blah, blah. This is a big deal, blah, blah, blah. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Publishing is not an easy business. Prepare to get your ass handed to you and get used to picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and laughing at your stupidity. The laughing in particular seems to help.


We've learned there is always room for improvement and we really try to embrace opportunities that help us grow as writers. It's not easy playing Stacey and we often forget how, but it is so, so worth it in the end.

XOXO,
L&L