Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pay It Forward Author Week: Leah Clifford

For those of you who have been tuning in this week, you'll remember that we've teamed up with some amazing writers at various stages in their journey to publication to spread good vibes and inspiration across the blogosphere. Some of these authors have book deals. Some of them have agents. All of them have "made it."

We hope you enjoyed our first two interviews with the fabulous Kirsten Hubbard and Carrie Harris! Today we've got fellow Ohioan Leah Clifford. [Insert awkward plea for Leah to come hang out with us at one of our YA Book Clubs HERE]


Leah is repped by the inimitable Rosemary Stimola and her debut novel A TOUCH MORTAL will be published by Greenwillow in Winter 2011. So far for jobs she's sold corn at a roadside stand, been a pizza delivery girl, a camp counselor, an extreme cave tour guide, a flight attendant, a waitress (x3), a grocery store clerk and a writer. Out of all of them, writing has been the most fun. She's pretty sure she's gonna stick with it.

1. Tell us about your book in 140 characters or less.
Eden, trapped btwn life & death, can kill others like her. The Fallen get wind, and she has to get help from angels that betrayed her before

(PS. I hate you both so hard for that :P )

2. Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?
Oh god yes. There were a few months in the middle of writing the first draft where I really considered moving on to a different project, but I just couldn't let it go. I also owe quite a few people huge debts for letting me blabber endlessly about the same plotholes for those months and still pushing me to finish. It's not easy being friends with a writer...

3. What has been the hardest part of your road to publication so far?
Losing friends? lol Just kidding. I'd say every part is different, and when you're going through it each part is hardest. Right now I'm working on edits, so today's answer would be edits.

4. Super secret bonus question: Twizzlers or M&Ms?
My nearly empty 56 oz bag of M&Ms wishes it was Twizzlers.

Ok, now you must go to Goodreads and update your little TBR list to include all of these amazing authors, okay? And be sure to hop on over tomorrow for even more author porn. And don't forget to check out the blogs below for even more interviewy (we like adjectives so much that we create new ones!) goodness.

Elana Johnson

Beth Revis

Leah Clifford

Victoria Schwab

Kirsten Hubbard

Carrie Harris

Kim Harrington

Suzette Saxton/Bethany Wiggins

Amy Holder

Kathy McCullough

Tiffany Schmidt

Susan Adrian

Dawn Metcalf

Gretchen McNeil

P.S. MAJOR props again to Elana Johnson for organizing this bad ass event. She STILL rocks! And yes, we might be sort of kissing her ass because we get to be interviewed on her blog this Friday. Yeah, we're shameless. Deal with it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pay It Forward Author Week: Carrie Harris

If you joined us yesterday, you know that we've teamed up with some amazing writers at various stages in their journey to publication to spread good vibes and inspiration across the blogosphere. Some of these authors have book deals. Some of them have agents. All of them have "made it."

We hope you enjoyed yesterday's interview with the fabulous Kirsten Hubbard! Today, the hilarious and Richard Simmons obsessed Carrie Harris is joining us. She's repped by Kate Schafer Testerman and her debut novel NO PAIN, NO BRAIN is going to be published by Delacorte in 2011.

1. Tell us about your book in 140 characters or less.
NO PAIN NO BRAIN explores a matter of grave importance: A battle of science geek versus zombies. (It's wise to put your money on the geek.)

2. Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?
Oh yeah. I remember getting so close to selling my first book so many times, and you’d THINK it would get easier each time, but of course it didn’t. But I think it helps for every writer to follow the zen of zombie, or zen of serial killer… heck, zen of assorted-movie-creature will do. Every time you think those suckers are dead, they rise up again. And the writers who manage to do that again and again are the ones you see on the shelves.


Of course, following the zen of zombie might get you sent to therapy too, but it’s a small price to pay for publication.

3. What has been the hardest part of your road to publication so far?
Well, the therapy bills are pretty hefty…

But seriously. In this business, there are very few cut and dried answers, and I had a tough time coming to terms with NOT KNOWING. If someone comes out with a book just like my fabulous WIP, should I scrap it? Should I write in present or past tense? Am I wasting my time!?! As much as you might try to reason things out, sometimes you just have to go with your gut and get the words down. How many other professions make business decisions based on their Magic 8 Ball? Not many. It’s both supremely cool and uber scary at the same time.

4. Super secret bonus question: Twizzlers or M&Ms?
I’m editing right now, so the answer is YES. The answer is also Hostess cupcakes and Cool Whip straight from the container.

Fun, right!?! Be sure to hop on over tomorrow for even more author porn. And don't forget to check out the blogs below!


Elana Johnson

Beth Revis

Leah Clifford

Victoria Schwab

Kirsten Hubbard

Carrie Harris

Kim Harrington

Suzette Saxton/Bethany Wiggins

Amy Holder

Kathy McCullough

Tiffany Schmidt

Susan Adrian

Dawn Metcalf

Gretchen McNeil


P.S. MAJOR props again to Elana Johnson for organizing this bad ass event. She still ROCKS!
P.P.S. Check out our guest blog in fellow Elevensie Julia Karr's neck of the woods!
P.P.P.S Tahereh, our brand new best friend, is hosting a Query Poetry Writing Contest on her blog that was MADE for me. Head over and enter or just head over!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pay it Forward Author Week: Kirsten Hubbard

This week, we're teaming up with some amazing writers at various stages in their journey to publication to spread good vibes and inspiration across the blogosphere. Some of these authors have book deals. Some of them have agents. All of them have "made it."

First up is Kirsten Hubbard, a 26-year-old travel writer and young adult author, represented by Michelle Andelman. Her YA debut, LIKE MANDARIN, will be published by Random House/Delacorte in March 2011.


1. Tell us about your book in 140 characters or less.
In the wind-battered town of Washokey, Wyoming, Grace finds beauty not in her mother's pageant ideals, but in Mandarin Ramey: the town slut.


2. Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?
Never! Although, there have been moments I thought I might have to look into getting my English teaching certificate, or seeking full-time employment at a non-profit. Travel writing (my "day" job) is volatile, and unless you are traveling & writing non-stop, it doesn't pay all the bills, all the time. I've never really been a shark about pitching publications, either. Mostly because fiction owns my heart. I have never doubted I wanted to be an author above all else -- but sometimes the goalposts appeared farther than other times.

3. What has been the hardest part of your road to publication so far?
When a series of setbacks -- specifically, full rejections for my first book -- made me feel discouraged, it was hard to open that Word document every morning. But the best antidote to writerly gloom is to get excited about another book. In my case, that book became LIKE MANDARIN. And my last book? I just finished overhauling it. It's so many times better, and it wouldn't have been if I'd clung to it, instead of writing that next novel. Letting go of a book can be the hardest thing in the world, but if it's a great story, you'll come back to it -- in the future, when you're a much better writer.

4. Super secret bonus question: Twizzlers or M&Ms?
M&Ms, because wax is not a food ;)

[Editorial note: BLASPHEMY!]

How's that for inspiring? Well aside from all that Twizzlers not being food nonsense. We ALL know they're the practically a food group unto themselves.

Anyways, be sure to check back every day this week for even more author porn. And we're not the only ones spreading the love. Check out the blogs below to read more amazing author success stories.















P.S.
MAJOR props to Elana Johnson for organizing this bad ass event and for letting us ride on her coattails. She ROCKS!

Friday, March 26, 2010

A day in the writing life: Lisa and Laura Roecker

Whenever we tell people that we write together, they furrow their brow and ask one question:

How?

We usually delve into the details of writing LIAR SOCIETY (trying our new title on for size), the ins and outs of writing a novel with another person, the emails, the switching off of chapters, the editing, the late night phone calls, but there's one thing we usually just breeze right over...the arm wrestling.



That's right, arm wrestling. You see, when Lisa and I don't agree on something, we make it a point to drive across town, meet at one of our houses and settle the score the old fashioned way--with our muscles (or lack thereof).




As you can see in the above picture, we take this ritual very seriously.

Can't agree on hair color for a new character? Sit down, clasp hands and flex those muscles.

In a major fight regarding whose name should go first on the cover? Grit those teeth and push with everything you've got. (Lisa won that particularly bloody battle.)




And then after we've had a good match (often best out of three) we can finally sit down and get to work.*

*We have never, ever been able to successfully write anything while we're in the same room. This picture is totally staged. Our husbands wouldn't agree to take the "real" pictures of us writing in the dead of night because they go to bed at 8 o'clock.


P.S.
The winner of THE BODY FINDER is Kate! Send us an e-mail at lisa-laura(at)live(dot)com to claim your prize!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Top 5 Reasons You Should Read THE BODY FINDER (or enter our contest to win it)


1. I finished THE BODY FINDER in under three hours.
Between the romance, the mystery and Kimberly Derting's impeccable sense of pacing, I literally could not put it down.

2. Violet is no damsel in distress. She's sarcastic, funny and has a slightly bizarre hobby of burying murdered animals. You'll fall in love with her instantly.

3. Jay isn't your typical YA love interest. Jay is sweet, sensitive and an amazing friend. Bad boys are so last season. It was beyond refreshing to watch Violet fall for a sexy guy who actually remembers to open doors for her. Not to mention the fact that the scenes with Jay totally brought me back the heart pounding, stomach flipping feeling of falling in love for the first time. Excuse me while I swoon.

4. The writing is AMAZING. My favorite line in the entire book is a spoiler, so I won't quote it, but please go read the first couple of chapters so you can see exactly what I'm talking about. I dare you not to run to the bookstore when you're done.

5. Kimberly is one of the coolest authors out there. Seriously. She even stopped by to answer a few questions for us:

Tell us about your book in 140 characters or less.
TBF is about a girl who can sense the echoes the dead leave behind and the imprints attached to their killers. You’ll be shocked when Violet...(Sorry, out of characters).

Where did you get the idea for THE BODY FINDER? (As the official idea whores we have a vested interest here.)
Ha, my husband’s favorite question! Because of this, I thought it might be fun if we both answered.

Hubby: I came up with everything about this story and should really be considered Kimberly’s co-author.

Me: Hubby’s contribution was the following sentence: “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a boy who could find dead bodies?” As soon as he said it, I had already changed the MC to a teenage girl and started creating her creepy ability…and a love story, cause that’s how I roll. While he may not be my co-author, I still gave him some love in the acknowledgements.

Someone has a pair of scissors to your head (oooh, SCARY!) and you have to choose: Awesome title or gorgeous book cover?
Ok, for idea whores, THAT is the scariest situation you could come up with???
I would go with gorgeous book cover every time! And then hopefully everyone would be SO caught up with its blinding beauty that they wouldn’t think twice about my book title which would be:

“ROUND AND ROUND THE D-BAG-O-METER GOES” by Kimberly Derting (for which the Roecker girls may or may not deserve some love in the acknowledgements. Just sayin’). But that would be one amazingly awesome cover!

When did you know you had to be a writer?
In high school, I would write these heartfelt notes for the attendance office about how sick I was the previous day…. and then I would sign my mom’s name. That was when I thought that just maybe I could be a writer. Or maybe just a really good liar. (Sorry, mom!)

Twizzlers or M&Ms?
M&Ms. In popcorn. With Twizzlers.

And Skittles.

See what I mean? Kimberly ROCKS. And her book is one of the best I've read all year.

Lucky for all of you we're giving away our copy, so leave a comment and make sure you're following our blog to enter. We'll announce the winner tomorrow at 8 AM. Good luck!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Learning How to Fall

Yesterday I decided to take my two kids and one of their friends to The Cleveland Children's Museum. The trip started off relatively uneventfully. We played in the sand pit, sorted faux veggies at the farm, ate some lunch and chilled at the water table.

Things started to get interesting when my almost 5-year-old decided that he was ready to climb this:


Ok, so bear in mind that 2-year-olds make it up and down this bad boy without incident, but my dear son is one of the most cautious human beings on the planet. He's big for his age, he'll throw elbows at the train table with the best of them, but when it comes to anything remotely dare devil-esque he is out.

But when his friend started scrambling to the top of water cycle thing, Jack was right behind him. The problem is that when he got to the top he was terrified of coming back down. And by terrified I mean literally quaking with fear. His little foot was shaking as it searched for the next step down, but he couldn't see it and he couldn't feel it. He was sure he was going to fall.

So my daughter and I sat at the bottom and watched him freak out. Museum personnel climbed the outside netting to talk him through it. A fellow mom the size of a 10-year-old squeezed up to the top to try to guide him down. But 45 minutes later the kid would not budge.

By this time a small crowd had gathered on the ground. I felt the stares of the other mothers as they judged me for being a mom lax enough to let her scaredy cat son get so high with no hope of getting down.

But what could I do? I cheered for him, called out instructions, I even tried to squeeze up the damn exhibit. (Yeah, that just wasn't happening. Trust me.)

The whole experience got me thinking. How often in life do we climb to the top with no plan for how the hell we're going to get back down to safety? When Laura and I started writing together we were like Jack. We scrambled to the top without ever bothering to look down. We figured we'd be the exception to all the rules. We'd get our books published and we'd be rich and famous.

And then we fell.

And you know what? It hurt like a bitch. Bruised egos aren't fun. But instead of moping at the bottom we climbed right back up. We started a new project, found better beta readers and kept writing.

And then we fell again.

But the key is we keep climbing, keep striving. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. You've got to be willing to take the fall.

As for Jack, he literally had to be pulled down by the 90-pound mother. It wasn't pretty. But I sure hope he decides to make the climb again the next time we're there.

What about you guys? Do you know how to fall?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Introducing our Brand New OFFICIAL Title

OK, so you've all witnessed our title suckage.

Originally the first book in our series debuting in Spring 2011 was called GMAIL.

Turns out that was a lawsuit waiting to happen. Oh, and Editorial Anonymous thought the title was totally cheesy.

When we queried we called it FINDING GRACE. We even went so far as to change one of the character's names to Grace to really make it work. When our agent offered representation she called the title "wet" (we're pretty sure that's Australian for totally cheesy) and said it absolutely had to change.

We went through about a bazillion different titles before Catherine finally agreed to THE HAUNTING OF PEMBERLY BROWN: A KATE LOWRY MYSTERY. Aside from being the longest title ever it also sounded like a long lost Jane Austen gothic, which for those of you familiar with the book, it most certainly is NOT.

Enter editor Dan. He has grand ambitions for our book and said we needed the perfect title. We tried everything...THE ACADEMY, PEARL ACADEMY, PEARLS DON'T LIE, FIRED UP (I wish I was kidding about that last one...), but nothing stuck. Truthfully they all sort of sucked.

And then it happened...We came up with the perfect title. Seriously. We're in love. Dan is in love. All of the peeps at Sourcebooks are in love. Even Catherine "that title is wet" Drayton is in love.

Now we just need to hear what you guys think...

So, without further ado. Our debut novel will be called...


This title will also double as the title of the series as a whole. And you guys will be so proud, we've already got a title for the second book in the series! But we're keeping that one a secret for now...

Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments. Do you love it? Hate it? Will you miss THE HAUNTING OF PEMBERLY BROWN? We most certainly will not.

Monday, March 22, 2010

LiLa Does The Big Apple

Our big trip to NYC was a huge success! We had an absolute blast meeting Dan and the rest of the Sourcebooks team and The Teen Fire Launch was epic. Here's how it all went down:

Thursday 8:07 AM: Flight approaches La Guardia. Laura digs her nails into Lisa's arm in a gesture reminiscent of our raging battle for the armrest when we were 10 years old because she is sure we are going to land in the water.

Thursday 8:13 AM: Land safely and manage to de-board the plane without humiliating ourselves (unless you count the fact that we asked the flight attendant if we could videotape her denying Laura peanuts. Yeah, it's kind of a long story...)

Thursday 8:35 AM: Apparently we look like total tourists making our way to the cab line because a sketchy black market cab driver tries to lure us toward his beat down Honda Civic in the parking garage. Discuss repercussions in reference to the movie Taken. Decide against offer.

Thursday 9:40 AM: Make it to the hotel without puking in cab. A bigger accomplishment than you might think.

Thursday 9:50 AM: Drop bags off at tiny bed and breakfast. After heading to the basement to use their bathrooms we are 99% sure that it is haunted.

Thursday 10:09 AM: Totally mess up directions and attempt to enter a condemned building to meet editor Dan. Yeah, the construction workers aren't impressed.

Thursday 10:11 AM: Successfully locate the Sourcebooks offices! Get a really weird look from the guy manning the door when we try to sign into the building. In retrospect we're pretty sure we tried to sign an inventory form.

Thursday 10:15 AM: Meet editorial assistant extraordinaire Aubrey Pool who is amazing. She puts up with us as we request photo after photo. Yep, we're those people.

Thursday 11:30 AM: Conclude epic meeting with editor Dan and the amazing Rebecca Frazer. So excited to be Sourcebooks authors!


Thursday 11:40 AM: Discover that if you try to eat lunch in an NYC restaurant before noon, you will almost certainly be the only people in the restaurant.

Thursday 11:41 AM: Also find out that the waitress really doesn't like us very much. Or perhaps her Russian accent just makes her sound perpetually irritated. Too hungry to care.

Thursday 1:45 PM: Laura makes the first big purchase of the trip: A gorgeous grey purse that Lisa found on a clearance rack. Lisa is only slightly bitter that she didn't keep it for herself but extremely thankful she won't have to host a diaper bag intervention. With Lydia's second birthday right around the corner, it was time.

Thursday 2:00 PM: Meetings at InkWell! The agents there are amazing and informative, as always.


Thursday 4:15 PM: Finally back to the hotel. Forced to answer the question "How many Roecker sisters does it take to open a hotel room door?" Answer: All three of us AND the super nice guy from the front desk. We are idiots.

Thursday 6:07 PM: After approximately 16 wardrobe changes and one last minute decision to change into ballet flats after hobbling to the elevator in heels, we are ready for the Teen Fire Launch Party. SO nervous to meet all of the amazing writers and industry peeps in person!

Thursday 6:22 PM: Walk the wrong way on the same street twice (not even sure how that's possible) guided by Stacey's iPhone (yep) but finally make it to Books of Wonder (i.e. The coolest bookstore EVER).



Thursday 6:25 PM: Make our grand entrance and don't spot a single familiar face. Okay, this is going to be harder than we thought. The entire bookstore is packed.

Thursday 6:27 PM: Spot Frankie Diane Mallis! She's just as adorable and outgoing as she is on her blog. Success!


Thursday 6:45 PM: Meet writing bud Shana Silver, fellow Elevensies Alissa Grosso and Kiera Stewart, Lorettajo Kapinos from the Fire Ning and fellow Sourcebooks authors Joy Preble, Lisa Brown (how did we miss Adele Griffin????), Dianne Salerni and Jennifer Nielsen. Also shook hands with Dominique Raccah who has the most inspirational story about how she created Sourcebooks. Amazing. The only hard part is that there is not nearly enough time to chat with everyone and the amazing Tiger Beat tunage is loud so you sort of have to yell.



Thursday 7:03 PM: Meet longtime girl crush Joanna Stampfel-Volpe in person for the first time ever. She is AMAZING. Seriously. Anyone looking for an incredible agent should query Jo. Not only is she super fun, she also freely channels Pat Benatar. What's not to love?


Thursday 7:30 PM: With Frankie's help, humiliated ourselves in front of the Libba Bray, who is maybe the best sport ever. Let's just say we have top secret video proof--but this is for another time, our friends, another time.

Thursday 8:30 PM: Met our NYC friends for dinner at the trendy (um...The Hills filmed there!) Il Bastardo. And yes, we totally pick restaurants based on where MTV reality shows film. We're cool like that.

Thursday 11:30 PM: Collapse into bed. Us Cleveland girls are SO not used to the big city life.
Friday 9:40 AM: Ate a bagel.

Friday 11:30 AM: Ate a pizza.

Friday 12:22 PM: Ate some mints out of Lisa's purse.

Friday 1:04 PM: Ate the most expensive soft serve ice cream cone in the world. Tried to hail a cab with said cone in hand. No go.
Friday 2:45 PM: Lisa bought a scarf at Old Navy. Hey, big spender!

Friday 3:00 PM: Ate a famous NYC hot dog.
Friday 4:00 PM: Ate veggies and dip in a failed effort to counteract having eaten our way through NYC. Fail.

Friday 7:00 PM: Inhaled mini pretzels, a super secret ARC and THE BODY FINDER on the plane ride home.

Roecker sisters out.

And the winner is...

Stephanie Thornton!

You've won a copy of Lee Nichol's fabulous book HAND ME DOWN.

Please send us an e-mail with your mailing address so we can send you your prize! Congratulations and thanks to everyone who entered!!!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Gone Shopping

We're still in NYC and have a rigorous day of shopping planned. The Teen Fire Launch was AMAZING. So much to report that I'm not even sure we can fit it all in one post.

But our credit cards are burning holes in our pockets and we have our spring wardrobes to consider, so sadly you'll just have to wait until next week to hear all about how we humiliated ourselves in front of some of the most influential people in publishing. Get excited.

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why I Write YA by Lee Nichols (and a contest!!!)

Today we're lucky enough to have the amazing Lee Nichols as our guest blogger. Lee has written five romantic comedies for adults (one of which you can win today, see details at the end of the post!), and then suddenly found herself writing a young adult novel.


DECEPTION: A HAUNTING EMMA NOVEL follows Emma Vaile after her parents go missing while away on a mysterious business trip. She's left all alone in her creepy old house only to be whisked away to New England by a knight in J. Crew armor. But the eerie visions she's been hiding from everyone have gotten worse and Emma learns she is a ghostkeeper, a person who can communicate with ghosts. And now she's got to track down an other-worldly murderer.


Ok, so who doesn't want to read that book? Seriously. It's going to be released on June 8th, my friends, so mark your calendars.


But we were sort of wondering how an acclaimed adult novelist suddenly found herself mired in the endless angst of YA and Lee was gracious enough to answer.


***


When I tell people I’m writing a series for teens, they always ask, “Why?”


After finishing my fifth chick-lit novel for adults, I kicked around some ideas with my agent for a new book. We both liked a sort of contemporary ‘gothic’ novel about a woman who moves into an old New England house that she discovers is haunted.


So I started fiddling with the plot, but couldn’t make it work. My character kept getting younger and younger. Instead of a thirty-something house-sitter, she turned into a twenty-something historic preservationist, and finally a teenager. But not just any teenager: one with the power to see, dispel, and communicate with ghosts.


And I finally had to admit I wanted to write a YA novel.


Which was a huge relief. I love the genre. It’s thrilling in the same way that chick lit was exciting when it first appeared. The writing is fresh and new, and even if the stories are the same (it’s not like we’ve never seen vampires before), the YA take on them is so appealing. These characters are not dressed in thigh-high boots and leather dusters. There’s something real and identifiable and romantic about them. And don’t get me started on YA literature authors like Laurie Halse Anderson and Alexie Sherman who are simply brilliant.


The reason adults are finding themselves scanning the shelves of the YA section is because they’re tired of formulaic genre fiction, but still love great, fun, dramatic, twisted, adventurous books. It doesn’t matter that the characters are only seventeen. They just want a good novel and discovered teens were getting it.


So that is why I wrote my first YA book, DECEPTION: A HAUNTING EMMA NOVEL, and why I can’t wait for it to hit the shelves in June.


Writing for teens was a natural transition for me. All my adult novels have a coming–of-age theme, in the sense that the main characters are searching for who they are, the type of person they want to be. And even though my character Emma has killer ghosts thrown into the mix, she’s still dealing with those fundamental questions: Who will she choose to be? Someone who hides from her abilities and destiny or who stands and fights?


I guess the answer is obvious. But I hope readers have fun learning how she does it. And while it may appear I’ve stumbled into the YA realm, I feel like I’ve grown into it.


***


Ok, so I know we're all dying to read Lee's books now, and lucky for us she's giving away a copy of HAND ME DOWN (Love triangles, romance and SISTERS! Um, this book is AMAZING.) to one lucky reader! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post and become a follower of Lee's blog. We'll announce a winner this weekend. Good luck everyone!


P.S.
If you're like us and plan on cyberstalking Lee from here on out, you can follow her on Twitter, friend her on Facebook and find tons of other cool info on her website.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

LiLa University

Big news in the Cleveland writing world: The Roecker sisters are going back to school.

That's right. We're teaching an adult education course in Beachwood, Ohio called Novel Writing 101. This all sounded like a fabulous idea back in December when we pitched the idea to the local recreation department, but now that it's starting in less than a month we're scared.

Hold us.

I mean, what if no one signs up? What if we totally bomb? What if everyone thinks they wasted their $85 ($80 for residents)?

OK, deep breaths.

Bottom line we have two hours every Monday night for six weeks (12 hours total for our math challenged readers) to talk about the crazy ass world of writing and publishing with aspiring authors and if we're being honest we're not really worried about filling up all that time. If anything, there's too much to talk about. Agents, queries, the first 250 words, going on submission....so. much. information.

Our question for you guys is if you had shelled out $85 to listen to us blab about publishing, what would you want to know? (Please don't say "nothing" we're already panicked enough as it is....)

P.S.
If we can talk our Dad into being our AV guy, we might be able to post vlog snippets of our course every Monday. But seriously how geeky is it to have your dad video tape your adult education class? SO much more humiliating than dance recitals and you all remember what happened to those videos...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday...

1. I've tried on a bazillion outfits for our NYC trip and all of them make me look 6 months pregnant. I wish I was kidding. MAJOR fashion crisis.

2. I'm spring cleaning right now and it feels really good. Really good. Is there something wrong with me?

3. I might have squealed out loud (in case you're wondering, I sounded like a jealous pig) when I read this fantastic news about Beth Revis. I mean HOLY. CRAP. How good does that book sound?

4. We haven't had nearly enough time to read blogs--see number 1 and 2.

5. The show How to Make it in America sort of makes me want to leave my family and move to New York City to do something crazy like try to be a professional writer. Oh wait....

6. The last time we went to New York, we dressed in business casual (or as Lisa likes to call it "business chic") to meet our agent (Lisa was all, "Trust me, I worked at a company. You were just a teacher). Clipping around NYC in heels was a big mistake. Big. You can bet your bottom dollar that I'm packing flats this time. [Editorial note from Lisa: Who says bet your bottom dollar? People who don't get "business chic," that's who. Can you tell who did the final edit on this blog post?]

7. I'm really nervous for the big Sourcebooks Fire Launch Party on Thursday. I mean, what if no one talks to us? What if we hide in the bathroom the entire time? What if I talk too fast and too loud? Yeah, that last one is pretty much a guarantee. I've never encountered an awkward silence that I don't rush to fill. It's a little like my mouth gets the runs. And let me tell you, Laura just loves it when that happens.

8. I gave up candy for Lent and have been housing cartons of ice cream and cookies. Yep.

9. I just finished a book that is a New York Times Bestseller, a book EVERYONE raves about, a book that sold for huge amounts of money, and I hated it. Really hated it. So apparently, I have terrible taste in books. Super.

10. I'm listening to A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY because I just know Libba (we're on a first name basis) will want to talk to me about it at the launch party. As my daughter plays outside, I blast it from my car. I'm that neighbor.

Ok, you're up. What's your truth this Tuesday?

Monday, March 15, 2010

In Which Laura Has a Panic Attack (again)

As you know, this blog is rated PG (and so are our books). But if I'm being honest, I'm the true prude of this twosome [Editorial note from Lisa: Shocker!!!].

I think it's because I used to teach 6th grade and I know exactly how young our readers are (Lisa may or may not think high schoolers are the equivalent to the cast of Gossip Girl) [Editorial note from Lisa: Honestly, I think it's more of a cross between Gossip Girl and the new 90210. Totally fair assessment in my opinion].

I also realize that my daughter will one day read what we put out there. So, I guess you could call me relatively conservative. [Editorial comment from Lisa: If you consider wanting our book club members to call us Ms. Roecker conservative, then yes, I would agree with that statement. Of course I would also call it having a stick up your ass. But that's just me.]

That means I like to read the books BEFORE we choose them for our YA book club. But at our last meeting, something happened. It all went down so quickly, I didn't even have time to think. First we were watching a book trailer, then we were reading the premise, then we were checking out reviews and then we had chosen the book. All without me having read it first! I know, shocking, right? Anyways, Lisa was making fun of my panic stricken looks and subtle warnings that maybe this book would be inappropriate for 6th graders as the girls were chatting happily about reading BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver.

[Editorial comment from Lisa: For the record Laura looked like she was going to cry. At one point I considered giving her a paper bag to breathe into.]

As soon as everyone left, I immediately began my research about whether this book would be appropriate for our savvy 6th grade girls. Let's remember, I run into their mothers at the grocery store and they live in my neighborhood. I don't want to be responsible for exposing them to...well, anything (that's the baby in me speaking). So, you can imagine the growing pit in my stomach as I read the pages available on Harper Collins' website. Let me say, Oliver's words were amazing, hooked my right away, and I absolutely didn't want to stop reading. But I learned that the main character is a senior, like many kids her age, she went to parties and *gasp* drank alcohol and was contemplating having sex for the first time with her boyfriend.

All of these issues are totally appropriate for ages 14 and up, as the book says, but our impressionable, somewhat naive eleven, soon-to-be twelve-year-olds? I started to feel a panic attack coming on. I called Lisa, [Editorial note from Lisa: Laura called me three times and sent me two separate e-mails. When I finally answered she was out of breath and fighting back tears. I laughed at her and we got into a fight.] she got annoyed and told me to email the girls' parents.

So I did.

[Editorial note from Lisa: Laura was obsessed with getting responses. I think she was worried that the parents were going to blackball her from book club or something. She's seriously going to give herself an ulcer.]

And they wrote back the most open-minded, reassuring, responsible emails. They said things like, "...opening up lines of communication," "I prefer to have issues presented to the kids in this manner," "As long as it's YA," "...wonderful opportunity for her," "....I soooo appreciate the positive influence."

[Editorial note from Lisa: They also said things like "the girls are gushing when they leave meetings. They trust you and see you as peers." I might have cried. Just a little.]

So, wow. Crisis averted. Pretty amazing that in this age of helicopter parenting there are still parents out there who give their kids complete freedom when it comes to reading books. So, where do you stand on this issue? Do you (or will you) let your kids read whatever they choose? Fire away in the comments.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Most Important Question of All

It may just be the weather--you know, longer days, sunglasses, car windows half down, warm breeze blowing in, music rolling out.

Or maybe it's the feeling that anything could happen, that anything is possible. The realization that at this time next year, we'll be published authors, that kids everywhere (or somewhere) will be reading our words, the ones we chose, the message we've delivered.

Perhaps it's the 6th grade girls we meet with once a month to discuss amazing books. The ones who once sat stiffly on my couch, unsure and uncomfortable, who now curl their legs beneath them, throw out high fives, laugh and joke. The same girls who brainstormed title ideas with us, who plan to create their own version of our cover with color and sparkles. The girls we write for.

It might be the outlet, the creativity, the writing. The late nights and early mornings, fingers clicking, paragraphs written, chapters woven. The way places come alive and characters fight to be understood while navigating conflicts we've created.

Or maybe it's the support. The blog posts, the witty comments, the amazing friends. The way people light up when you tell them that you're actually doing it. You're following your dream. Living it.

Either way, we're happy. The kind of happy that has us scrambling to our computers in the morning. The kind of happy that makes you realize that in 10 years you hope you're lucky enough to be doing the exact same thing you're doing now. Only, you know, better.

So, on this gorgeous, almost-spring Friday we have only one question for you guys: What's your particular brand of happy?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Behind the Cover: WE HEAR THE DEAD

Today we'd like to welcome the fabulous Dianne Salerni whose debut novel WE HEAR THE DEAD will be published by Sourcebooks Fire this May.

And based on this blurb it's clear why the book is generating so much buzz:

Maggie & Kate Fox didn’t mean to create a new religion. It started out as a harmless prank. But soon enough, spiritualism was the fastest growing movement of the nineteenth century, and they were trapped in a life of deceit.

Lucky for us, Dianne agreed to write a guest blog about what it was like to see the cover for WE HEAR THE DEAD for the first time. Join us as we live vicariously through her.

***

So … Lisa and Laura asked me: “What did it feel like to finally see your book cover from Sourcebooks?” I had to cast my mind back to my original reaction when I saw the cover last summer. As near as I can recall, I jumped up and ran excited circles around the living room – kind of like our dog. Embarrassing, huh?

I’d envisioned various covers, of course. Who wouldn’t? But I have to say this cover was unlike anything I’d ever imagined. I was struck by the bright colors and the confident, perky stance of the girl in the illustration, which contrasted sharply with the title “We Hear the Dead” and the creepy font chosen by the designers. Sourcebooks selected a title that hinted at spooks and horror, but coupled it with a cover which emphasized the performance aspect of the whole story. Looking at this cover, I think readers will know immediately that Maggie Fox is bamboozling her audience. And because the viewer is positioned behind her on the stage, readers will expect to be “in on the secret.”

Seeing the cover for the first time was awesome. The only thing better than that first glimpse of the cover was seeing it on an actual ARC. And the only thing better than seeing the ARC … will be seeing a stack of them at a book store!

I should mention that credit for the title goes to one of my fifth grade students. My editor and I were bouncing around various ideas for a title (and the design crew kept throwing them back). I mentioned the problem to my class, and one student, Emma, suggested “We Can Hear the Dead.” I threw that one into the mix in the next batch of titles I sent to my editor, and wouldn’t you know – they loved it! Not only is Emma getting a free, signed copy of the book (as soon as I get some), but I think she might just have a future in publishing!

***

Total author porn, right? Follow Dianne on her journey to superstardom on her blog, Twitter or friend her on the Teen Fire Ning. Thanks for a great post, Dianne!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Boobs

That's right. This blog post is about boobs. If you find that word disturbing on any level, I think it's best you stop reading right now before we seriously offend you.

OK, so now that it's just us pervs, let's get started, shall we?

Yesterday I got a fantastic e-mail from our friend Loretta posing a very simple question: What are 16-year-old boys calling breasts these days?

Well, unfortunately (actually I think maybe it's fortunately) I've never had the opportunity to talk to any actual 16-year-old boys about the female anatomy on a day-to-day basis. However, I watch a LOT of television shows that feature 16-year-old boys, mainly because I'm suffering from an extremely advanced case of arrested development.

So, let's break this down:


Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl (suave, obnoxious, Upper East Sider) would DEFINITELY say breasts. As in "Her breasts are fantastic."

Tim Riggins from Friday Night Lights (love of my life, truck driving, football playing, rough around the edges, Texan) would say jugs. As in "Check out the jugs on that stripper."

Finn from Glee (geeky, singing, quasi-dumb jock) is definitely a boob guy. As in "Holy crap, I hope I might get to touch Rachel's boobs."


Puck from Glee (hot, cougar hunting, singing, jock) is probably a random boob euphemism guy. As in "Damn, Rachel's got some nice fun bags."

The moral of the story is that you can tell your reader a lot about your characters based on how they talk about female anatomy and other less controversial topics. So remember, whether they're discussing jugs, breasts or (my personal favorite) fun bags, it's not just about the boobs. When it comes to your characters, you've got to choose your words wisely.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday...

1. Sometimes I have to watch Damages twice to really understand what's going on.

2. I only half watched The Academy Awards this year because I haven't seen any of the films nominated for best picture. Oh, the shame!

3. My sitter fell through today, and I'm supposed to get my hair cut and colored. Rather than cancel my appointment and go to NYC with hideous hair, I'm dragging my daughter along with The Curious George Movie loaded onto my husband's iPod. This has got to be a whole new low.

4. I like writing my truths better when Laura isn't around to edit them. She always deletes my confessions that she feels aren't ready for public consumption.

5. Sometimes I think the pace of the publishing industry might kill me. (I've been trying to sneak that one past Laura for weeks.)

6. The other benefit to Laura being out of town is that I can send e-mails to our editor and agent without her approval. She is not going to be happy camper when she sees our inbox tomorrow. Sorry, Laur!

Your turn. What's your truth this Tuesday?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hello. My Name is Lisa and I am a Cover Whore

Yup, it's true. I judge books by their covers.

And the weirdest part?

I love covers that other people openly despise. And I hate covers that some people adore. As our fellow Elevensies start to share their book covers we're getting more and more excited to see what the cover of our book is going to look like.

And to be perfectly honest, we're a little scared too. I mean, we all know that people who say they don't judge a book by their cover are either a) lying or b) an author that got stuck with a really unfortunate cover themselves.

So, I thought it would be interesting to post a some book covers that are so amazing that I'd be forced to pick them up if I were browsing at the bookstore.


Ok, so I love the big sunglasses. I love how there's a painting in the reflection. I love that the girl looks super fashionable. Bottom line: This just looks like a book I'd really enjoy.

Ok, I've been waiting over a year to read this book, so I might be a little bit biased here, but I love the color. I love that it somehow manages to evoke creepiness without being obviously creepy. I love how the title sort of speaks for itself. Just an amazing cover.

I love the red umbrella and the overall look and feel of the cover is just compelling and slightly mysterious. I want to know more.

I think this cover is just gorgeous. The colors are so exotic and her eyes are just amazing. I can't wait to see this one in person.

And I'm going to let you guys in on a little secret. I really did not care for the covers in THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy, especially the forthcoming MOCKINGJAY. Honestly, I think it took me forever to actually read THE HUNGER GAMES because it just didn't look like a book I would enjoy. Um, yeah, needless to say I was completely wrong. But those books are a great example of covers that people rave about that I just don't like. Weird.


So, now it's your turn. Favorite cover? Least favorite? Feel like ripping me a new one for hating the cover of THE HUNGER GAMES? I want to hear all about it in the comments.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Winner of DREAMING ANASTASIA

Krispy you are the lucky winner! (22 is your lucky number by the way)

Send us an e-mail with your address at lisa-laura(at)live(dot)com and we'll send you your copy DREAMING ANASTASIA. Also, if you like we'll be meeting Joy in person on March 18th so if you'd like a signed copy we'll wait and ask her to sign it for you. Totally up to you!

Congratulations! And for those of you who didn't win, the good news is that we've got tons of giveaways coming up over the next month, so stay tuned!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Five Fabulous Things on a Friday

Holy crap. It's been a FABULOUS week, people. There are good things happening in publishing right now. Things that are making us jump up and down and dance and squee and do all sorts of things that will one day embarrass our children. And sadly, we can't share all of them today.

Lucky for you there are five we can share.


1. YA Rebels: Victoria Schwab is the author of THE NEAR WITCH, which will be published by Disney Hyperion in the winter of 2011. She is also a member of the kick ass vlogging group The YA Rebels along with six other talented Young Adult authors. Below is her response to the question, "What makes me a rebel?"




How cool is that?


2. Some of the Elevensies are beginning to reveal their covers! (And yes, in case you're wondering we're TOTALLY jealous.) Check out Amy Holder's and Kirsten Hubbard's gorgeous cover art and start drooling.

3. Unless you haven't heard, the NYC Teen Lit Festival will run March 15th through the 21st! And, in case you forgot, we will be at the Teen Fire Launch Party with bells on. Join us! You know you want to...

And the next two require a little introduction. We have some truly amazing, crazy talented writing friends and two of them landed kick ass publishing deals this week. We could not be more excited for them and...HOLY CRAP 2011 is going to be a good year for debuts!

4. Lisa Albert's MERCY LILY, about an Oregon teenager faced with a heartbreaking choice about her ill mother, to Brian Farrey at Flux, for publication in Fall 2011, by Mary Kole at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

5. Jen Blom's POSSUM SUMMER, her debut novel, will be published by Holiday House books in Fall of 2011.

Totally amazing week, right? We'll be back with more amazing news next week, so be sure to check back. Have a fab weekend everyone!!!

UPDATE: MORE GOOD NEWS!

6. That's right there's MORE! One of our absolute favorite and most talented bloggy friends, Sarah Wylie has sold her debut novel ALL THESE LIVES in a two-book-deal AT AUCTION. Holy. Crap. Ok, we've read the book so we're totally not surprised, but still. Awesome, awesome news. We could not be more thrilled for Sarah. Hoorah!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Review, Interview and Giveaway: DREAMING ANASTASIA

I've always been fascinated with the Romanovs and the folklore surrounding the youngest daughter, Anastasia. DREAMING ANASTASIA by Joy Preble is a fun, modern take on Anastasia's story full of history, magic and even romance. One of my favorite things about this book is that it never takes itself too seriously. Anne's quips and commentary throughout the narrative had me laughing out loud. You guys have got to read this book.

And because Joy is so awesome she even agreed to answer a few questions for us about the book.

1. Tell us about your book in 140 characters or less.
Girl meets mysterious handsome guy. Wackiness ensues. Magic, princess, witch, bad guys & kissing. (I might have gone over, but I think I came close.)

2. Where did you get the idea for DREAMING ANASTASIA? (As the official idea whores we have a vested interest here.)
The Anastasia story has fascinated and resonated with me since I was in junior high. And I've been a fan for a long while of kick ass female characters, reverse fairy tales, genre shaking/blending. So, I guess Dreaming Anastasia is a product of all of that. You can probably blame some of it on my hero, Joss Whedon. But mostly, I think it's the story I've been trying to write since I was a teenager, only I just didn't quite know how. Once Anne's voice came to me, the rest of the story followed.

3. Someone has a pair of scissors to your head (oooh, SCARY!) and you have to choose: Awesome title or gorgeous book cover?
Gorgeous book cover. Hands down. I work in a public high school and I see what students check out of the library. Honestly? People DO judge a book by its cover. But a good title doesn't hurt, either.

4. When did you know you had to be a writer?
I've written since I was about seven years old. But I would say that about ten years ago, it occurred to me (well past 2nd grade at that point) that I just wasn't happy if I wasn't writing. So I started taking it seriously and lo and behold, I started getting pieces published - in magazines and newspapers, mostly for about five years. In 2003, I upped the stakes and joined SCBWI. And in 2004, I began what turned into Dreaming Anastasia. The rest of this grand adventure followed. So your question is a good one; I don't think you find success until you realize you MUST write.

5. Twizzlers or M&Ms?
Twizzlers. Sometimes I bite off the ends and use one as a straw to drink Diet Cherry Coke.

Wow! Girl after our own heart, right? That is clearly the best way to enjoy a Twizzler. Although we do find they get a little hard and waxy if you use them as a straw for too long. Just something to keep in mind.

Anyways, we're going to give one lucky reader our copy of DREAMING ANASTASIA. All you have to do to enter is follow our blog and leave a comment. We'll announce the winner tomorrow. Good luck!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Psychiatric Evaluation Gaga Style

I enjoy Lady Gaga's music, have even been known to sing along to a few songs (okay, okay and maybe have a dance party or two in my living room), but I think she's batshit crazy. I get that the insane-looking outfits (she makes Bjork look like an amateur) are her "thing" and probably make her more popular because they force people to talk about her and remember her (exactly what I'm doing here), but just looking at her annoys me.

Anyways, I've decided to put the pics to the Rorscharch test. Move over ink blots.

Dr. R: Tell me, what do you see after looking at this picture?

LiLa: Nurse of the high seas. She is mocking all land animals with the chicken claw bracelet.


Dr. R: Good, good, and this one?

LiLa: Room Raiders--that terrible show on MTV circa 5 years ago. It looks like she's going to use a gloved finger to see how dirty my ceiling fan is.


Dr. R: Ah yes, that is very telling indeed. How about Lady Gaga at the Grammy's?

LiLa: Bedazzled hooves. That is all.

Dr. R: (Writing vigorously on his notepad): Fascinating, fascinating. How about here?

LiLa: The Devil Wears Nada, the soft porn version of The Devil Wears Prada.


Dr. R: Your free association is magnificent, not to mention your taste in porn. Tell me, what are you thinking now?

LiLa: Wedgewood. Mr. Gaga and Wedgewood had a baby. A high-waisted Wedgewood-inspired spandex baby.


Dr. R: And, our last picture. What comes to mind, ladies?

LiLa: Good God, her breasts! They've stolen her breasts. Sparkles! Sunglasses! Robert Pattinson.

Dr. R: This is troubling. Very troubling indeed. Further evaluation is mandatory. Please see my receptionist up front to schedule a follow-up ASAP.

Now it's your turn! Head to the comments to use free association to share the first thoughts that came to your mind after being eye-raped by Lady Gaga's particular brand of crazy. Dr. R. will be checking in periodically with evaluations.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday

It's Tuesday, you know the drill...

- When I work on Book 2 in the Kate Lowry Series, sometimes I feel like I'm prying the words from my brain with a giant pair of tweezers. And in case you're wondering, that is not a comfortable way to write.

- We have a new title for THE HAUNTING OF PEMBERLY BROWN. Is anyone really surprised by this? No? Well, if it's any comfort we really think this is it. This is THE ONE (granted we thought Gmail was the one and could have sworn that Finding Grace was a sure thing). But we're sure of it this time. Now it just has to be approved by all the amazing people at Sourcebooks. Fingers crossed.

- I watched the entire season of The Bachelor. It was an exceedingly painful experience and I'm currently seeking treatment for post traumatic stress disorder after watching Jake dick around for two hours about who he should propose to. If I ever hear "On The Wings of Love" again, I will scratch my own eyes out.

- There may or may not be a website in existence that has a chapter of our first (God awful) attempt at writing a novel together. You will never find it. Ever. But the possibility of its existence out there in cyberspace taunts us on a daily basis.

- Our worlds are slowly beginning to collide. Someone found our blog the other day by Googling "Laura Roecker Signature of Solon Wedding." I'm betting they got more than they bargained for.

- I got a pit in my stomach when I watched my daughter run around the library like a banshee today. I'm traveling this weekend and the trip home involves me driving 7 hours with my daughter. Alone.

Phew, we feel better now. Have at it in the comments. What's your truth this Tuesday?

Monday, March 1, 2010

The LiLa Write-Off: Results

Before we post the official results from our little contest on Friday we thought it might be fun for you to see a little bit of what was going on behind the scenes. As usual, it's in our preferred mode of communication, Skype, and it took place 5 minutes after we thought up the prompt:

Laura: Ok, I'm donezo
Lisa: Yeah, I'm almost done. [Crap. I'm not even close. Done!?! That amateur. Her paragraph must totally suck. How embarrassing for her.]
Lisa: Mine is going to be way longer than a paragraph...
Lisa: Is that ok? [This is not really a question. Bow to my will little sister!]
Laura: Mine is 151 words [Annoying. Lisa is always breaking the rules. Who does she think she is anyways? Oh that's right she's the oldest sister. Rules totally don't apply to Queen Lisa. Gag.]
Lisa: Um...mine is 384 words. [Bigger is ALWAYS better] Whoops. [Ha ha, victory is MINE!]
Laura: Wowsers--it's kind of funny because you're so chatty. [You are the single reason our manuscript had 7,000 completely extraneous words, you wordy cow.] Chatty Kathy.
Lisa: Haha. [Seriously? "Chatty Kathy?" No one under the age of 87 says that. She better not try sticking that in our WIP.]
Laura: In my defense, it was SUPPOSED to be a paragraph. [Remember? Rules? Am I ringing any bells here?]
Lisa: I had a vision dammit. [I'm an artist. Artists can't be bothered with rules. Duh.]
Laura: Whatever, let's just post them and have the readers guess. [They'll recognize genius when they see it.]
Lisa: Good call. [You are going down, bitch.]

So, yeah. Laura wrote #1 and Lisa wrote #2 and somehow we write entire books together.

And go ahead and come clean in the comments if you liked Lisa's better. Laura will totally understand.