Friday, April 30, 2010

Do You (Nancy) Drew?

Nancy Drew is turning 80 this week and we just had to take a minute to wish her happy birthday. Chances are if you're a girl and you read a lot growing up, you're well versed in all things Nancy.

Personally, my first brush with the divine Ms. Drew was born out of sheer boredom. I was at my Grandmother's house and I had finished The Babysitter's Club #3,210 Logan Stalks Mary Ann* and I had nothing to do. Enter my Grandmother's dusty bookshelves lined with my mom's old Nancy Drew books. The girl on the cover looked pretty cool in a retro kind of way. And the cover looked slightly mysterious and maybe even a tiny bit scary to my 9-year-old eyes, so it was really a no brainer. I cracked the book open and started reading.

And I didn't stop. I made my way through all of my mom's old books and then started buying the newer ones at the store.

Nancy was my first mystery and she was the first heroine I remember reading about that had some real girl power. She had her own car, her own friends and she always cracked the case. Ned was cool too, but he was more like an accessory than a boyfriend, which in retrospect was actually kind of awesome.

Naturally, when we set out to write a mystery for tween and teen girls, Nancy Drew was the first heroine to come to mind. When we had a vision of a modern day Nancy, rocking (longer) pearls (they're SO much more versatile from a fashion perspective) and solving mysteries with a wicked sense of humor, Kate Lowry was born. Of course Kate being both self-aware and sarcastic is all too aware of her Nancy Drew like tendencies, so LIAR SOCIETY is full of her irreverent Nancy-isms.

To celebrate Nancy's birthday we thought it only fitting to share Kate's very first Nancy-ism. Our snarky sleuth has just received an e-mail from her dead best friend and has taken it upon herself to crack the case:

That e-mail had somehow transformed me into Nancy-effing-Drew and it was borderline ridiculous. I remembered devouring those books as a kid, positive that one day I’d grow up to be a kickass detective just like her. And here I am. Nancy Drew version 2.0. I wonder if Nancy had to pop Prozac to take the edge off too? Probably not. Just goes to show, remakes are never as good as the original.

Now it's your turn: Which fictional characters have inspired you? Head over to the comments and paste a little something that demonstrates how they've impacted your writing if you're in the mood to share.

Have a fabulous weekend everyone and be sure to stop back on Monday for a brand new vlog and a contest for a signed copy of one of our all-time favorite books.

P.S.
HUGE thanks to Loretta Nyhan for letting us know about Nancy's big b-day. Do yourselves a favor and go follow her blog. She's the next Sarah Dessen and quite possibly one of the smartest (and funniest) people we know.

*Fine, that's totally not a real title, but did anyone else find Logan creepy? And Mary Ann was so freaking boring. How did she have a boyfriend while rockin' Claudia was stuck closet eating her feelings?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

To Read or Not to Read (Book Reviews), THAT is the Question

Really interesting #yalitchat last night about critiques, editors and book reviews. We've heard a number of authors say that they refuse to read any reviews of their book. It's just too much of a roller coaster for them to read 'em. Some people love it, some people hate it. After all, the only thing that really matters is how many people are buying your book. Good, bad or indifferent, money talks.

Oh, but how do you not read what people are saying about your work? I mean, I can't imagine not sifting through every single inane comment about LIAR SOCIETY. Painful or not, I would just want to know. (For the record, somehow we've already got 4.3 stars on Goodreads from three readers. Unfortunately, none of them have actually read the book. So guess that shows you how much stock you can put in some reviews...)

Of course if you're an amazing author like Dianne Salerni (WE HEAR THE DEAD is out now! Do you have your copy?) with a kickass review from Kirkus, I guess maybe this really isn't a debate.

Or if you've written an incredible book like PICTURE THE DEAD (yeah, we're looking at you Lisa Brown and Adele Griffin) that's racking up glowing reviews all over the interwebs, it's probably super fun to see what the critics and readers are saying about you and your writing.

What about you guys? Would you have the willpower to avoid reviews completely or are you crazy OCD masochists like us? Tell us what you really think in the comments.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

WTF Wednesday*

Just a few things that have made us say WTF this week:
  • No new Lost this week? WTF!?!? It's the last freaking season. Isn't there a law against airing repeats when there's only like 5 episodes left of the show?
  • Ommmm....WTF? Today at the gym, I practically tripped over some girl who was practicing yoga outside of the classroom. She was following along with the instructor (who was teaching a half-empty class) and taking up valuable ab workout space. Plus, whenever anyone new practically tripped over her as well, she'd say, "I'm just doing yoga, out here." WTF crazy-lady? Sh*t or get off the pot and get out of my way, I'm trying to do crunches.

    • A conversation between Lisa and her almost 5-year-old son:
             Lisa: How was school today?
             Jack: Great. Aiden played a nazi in drama.
             Lisa: *WTF? Is nursery school secretly a cover for Hitler Youth?*       
             Lisa: A what?
             Jack: A nazi.
             Lisa: So what did the nazi do exactly?
             Jack: He took the other animal's food. I was a zebra.
             Lisa: So the nazi is an animal?
             Jack: Yup.
             Lisa: I think you might have the name wrong. Was it maybe a hyena?
             Jack: MOM! No, it was a nazi. The spider.
             Lisa: Wait, you mean Anansi the Spider?
             Jack: Yeah, a nazi.
             Lisa: Right. Maybe call him Anansi the Spider in the future, ok?
    • Why don't we have a mailing list? WTF? Every awesome debut author has a mailing list so they can send their friends information about book covers, appearances, giveaways and other awesomeness. How have we overlooked this crucial marketing task? Er, um, would you guys like want to be on our mailing list? We promise NEVER to give your e-mail address to anyone else and we'll only send you really important updates. So, pretty pretty please click here and sign up ok? Cause if you don't we'll totally be the only uncool authors on the planet without a stellar e-mail campaign. [You see what we did there? We used the exact same tone in that last line that we used when trying to convince our mom to buy us matching Guess Jean skirts. She was unable to resist. We trust it will work just as well on you.]
      So, what's your WTF moment this week? You know you've got one (or five). Do share in the comments.

      *Just to clarify for our Grandma who reads the blog on a daily basis, WTF stands for "Why the face?" Seriously. It's nothing more sinister than that. We got it from Modern Family.**
      **I think every post we write should now have a footnote. Because footnotes = fun. It's like writing my term papers for English Lit all over again and anything we can do to make our blog more like an English term paper has got to be good marketing, right? Right.

      Tuesday, April 27, 2010

      Shiloh vs. Zahara*


      Okay, if you have no idea what the title of this post means and if you don't recognize the adorable kids pictured above, you should probably just stop reading now. The five minutes you'll spend reading this inanity are five minutes you'll never get back. Trust me.

      For those of you who are on a first-name basis with the Jolie-Pitt brood, please check out this recent "news" item on UsMagazine.comWhich Jolie-Pitt Has the Best Style: Shiloh or Zahara?

      A few things here:

      1. The writer who pitched and then wrote this idea pretty much reserved themselves a spot in Hades. I mean these kids are three and four years old! Do you really need to be pitting them against each other like mini-CW starlets?

      2. Who actually takes the time to comment on "news" articles like this? Okay, so I'm totally guilty of serial blog commenting, but at least that's reserved for people I sort of know. I can't imagine having something so burning to say about the Jolie-Pitt kids that I'd actually feel compelled to share my thoughts with fellow US Magazine junkies.

      Which brings me to my third and final point....

      3. The comments are BY FAR the most entertaining part of this whole affair. Some of our favorites:
      • From SKHG, (who may or may not be Roy Ashburn secretly commenting on his iPhone from an Abercrombie dressing room.) "I really hope Shiloh's not part of their plan to help the gays. I wouldn't doubt it one bit! They seem to be pushing something that started out as cute and funny. Being the strange people they are, I guess anything's possible." [LiLa commentary: Laura - Who says "gays" in a non-ironic context? Lisa - Bat shit crazy people.]
      • From B, "Is anyone else concerned about Shiloh? Why does she look like a boy?!?" [LiLa commentary: In a word: yes. We are concerned about Shiloh, B. But not concerned enough to leave a comment about it on UsMagazine.com. Oh no...we'll post an entire blog about it instead. Yeah, we like to take the high road.]
      • From Real, "whats with all you people downing on a girl who doesnt need to be girly? I think her hair is a refreshing change. there are too many long locked mini princesses already." [LiLa commentary: We hear ya, Real. It does seem a little bit excessive, no? Although, I've got a three-year-old and she really isn't capable of deciding her own style just yet. In fact, I dress her like I would like to dress myself if I were two feet tall and under 30 pounds. Something tells me there might be a little bit of that going on here.]
      • From They Are Both Prettier Than Maniston Ever Was, "To the Maniston weirdo who is bashing St. Angelina's kids - Maniston was never a cute kid. Her own mother wrote a book about how fugly she was growing up. Angie's kids are all beautiful." [LiLa commentary: Wow. Who knew people still really cared about the whole Jen vs. Angelina thing. I mean, no offense TABPTMEW, but isn't that whole debate so 2005? I mean, clearly Angelina won the battle, she got the guy and the career. Poor Jen has really amazing hair but hasn't been in a decent flick since her marriage collapsed. I think the whole "Maniston" nickname might be a little excessive. Why kick a girl when she's down?]
      Well, there's your weekly dose of pop culture. Personally, as writers, we're SUPER excited for the inevitable tell-all books that will be published by these two in twenty years. I'll be first in line to pick up a copy of CONFUSED: MY LIFE DRESSED AS A SMALL PREPUBESCENT BOY by Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, although I'll be even more excited to read DADDY DEAREST: MY LIFE WITH A MAN WHO HATED WIRE HANGERS MORE THAN MY MOTHER HATED MANISTON by Zahara Jolie-Pitt.

      Good times.

      *Please note this post may be considered offensive if you are sensitive to tomboy preschoolers, anti-gay senators or if you are a frequent Abercrombie and Fitch shopper and a card carrying member of Team (M)Aniston.

      Monday, April 26, 2010

      Yeah, I'm Sensitive, So Sue Me

      It occurred to me yesterday as I sat weeping on my couch folding laundry that I might be a little bit more emotional than the average gal. Maybe I should back up here and give you guys a little background.

      It all started with a rather innocuous comment from my husband.

      What my husband actually said: "Wow, it's getting hard for me to work around your schedule these days."
      What Lisa heard: "You are not a good mother. Your time is not important. Your writing sucks. I think we should get a divorce."

      Yeah, I'm slightly dramatic. Deal with it.

      The thing is, writers are a sensitive breed. I guess that's part of our genius. We process feelings a little bit differently than the average person and *ahem* some of us are blessed with an extraordinary flair for drama.

      I think this makes it particularly hard for us to accept constructive feedback from readers, agents and editors. For example:

      Reader says: "I don't really understand this character's motivation. Maybe you should add some backstory?"
      Writer hears: "Your writing sucks. Your characters suck. You shouldn't be writing anything more challenging than an e-mail."

      Learning how to process feedback is probably one of the most important elements of becoming a successful writer. We all need to learn to take a step back and really hear what our readers our saying. This is one reason it's probably best to ask your beta readers to provide any notes or feedback in writing. After all, it's ok if you want to weep on the couch for a little while, just make sure you eventually force yourself out of the fetal position and really process that critique. Your writing (and maybe even your significant other) will thank me.

      So, how do you guys handle tough critiques? Any advice for keeping those writerly emotions in check? Tell us everything in the comments.

      Friday, April 23, 2010

      Pay It Forward: Send Weronika to NYC!

      GOAL MET!!! Thank you everyone for your donations! What an amazing group of friends and writers we have out there!

      Ok, Little Ms. J has officially outdone herself. She's taken it upon herself to raise money for the soon-to-be-future-publishing-rockstar Weronika Janczuk to go to the Backspace Conference in NYC. Now many of you already know Weronika so you won't be surprised to hear that she's earned herself a scholarship (She's a genius. Seriously.), but she's in high school (Yeah, I know. Try not to hate her for being this genius at the wee age of 18) so actually getting to the city is going to be difficult for her financially.

      The goal? $600

      Your mission? Shout. Please link, Twitter, Facebook and blog about our mission to send Weronika to New York.

      The ask? Give. Enter your email address in the comments section or email LMJ directly with the amount you would like to contribute toward Weronika's trip. She'll then arrange for your donation through Paypal.

      The reward? LMJ is starting things off by donating $100. AND she'll chip in an additional $10 for every person who donates until we hit $600.

      We've already made our donation and if you can afford to donate even $10 you'd be helping a fellow aspiring author out. Let's send Weronika to NYC!

      P.S.
      For anyone who comments on this blog post with the intention to donate to The Send Weronika to NYC Fund we'll enter your name into a raffle to win a custom "I Am The Fourth Roecker Sister" t-shirt AND a copy of one of our favorite books, The Body Finder. Just our way of saying thank you!

      Top 5 Things We Learned This Week

      Oh, it's been way too long since we've shared our random learnings with you, and let me tell you this week has been a doozy.

      1. Young Adult Authors are truly amazing people. We had a couple of best selling authors reply to our blatant fangirl behavior by sending us truly incredible e-mails thanking us for our support and (gasp) agreeing to send us a signed copy of their book to give away. Details will be coming soon, but I just have to say it's pretty awesome to play even a small part in the writing community. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

      2. She likes it, she really likes it! As you all know, we had a rocky start with LIAR SOCIETY 2, but a couple of weeks ago we finally cracked the plot and wrote the most amazing outline ever. And yes, I'm saying that because I wrote it and also because no one gets poisoned by Diet Coke in this version.

      Anyways, after our favorite beta ninja took a crack at the first five chapters and had little to complain about (which NEVER happens, so we were pretty pumped) we decided it was ready for a little something called "the mean agent treatment." Yes, that's what the amazing Major Agent (said in your best Victoria Beckham accent) calls it when she rips into one of our manuscripts.

      But guess what?

      This time she gushed. Okay, okay, we all know Major Agent doesn't gush, but she practically gushed which might as well be gushing. So, it's onward and upward for LIAR SOCIETY 2.

      [Insert chest bump or the celebratory gesture of your choice here.]

      3. Brittany from Glee is the light of my life. She's seriously the best character on TV right now. Blonde, dumb and lovable, Brittany has uttered some of the best lines on the show such as:

      "When I pulled my hamstring I went to a misogynist."
      "Did you know that dolphins are just gay sharks?"
      Mr. Schue: "Who can tell me what a ballad is?" Brittany:"A male duck."

      I think she might single handedly redeem dumb blonde chicks named Brittany. She's a national treasure, y'all.

      4. Women across America (err...maybe just in LA?) are getting vajazzled thanks to a washed up Ghost Whisperer. Um, yeah. I don't really want to go into details here, but J. Love (not to be confused with J. Lo) has a book and apparently there's an entire chapter devoted to vajazzling. Her impact on the American culture is dizzying. First the Hanes ads and now this. We're 99% sure this is yet another sign of the apocalypse, so do yourself a favor and watch out for four dudes on horses. You're welcome.

      5. When you're down and troubled and you need a helping hand, just blog or Tweet or Facebook me. We all have difficult weeks as writers. The weeks spent waiting or the weeks where you get a rejection that totally knocks you on your ass. But every time we ever hit a rough patch all of you guys are here to cheer us up and you don't even realize you're doing it. Every comment, every @reply, every new friend gives us a little thrill. So, thank you for being there for us throughout this crazy journey to publication. We couldn't do it without you guys.

      [Insert picture of LiLa with single tears running down their cheeks here.]

      Have a fab weekend everyone! Can't wait to see what next week brings!

      Thursday, April 22, 2010

      Finding 10,000 Fans or How to Drive Yourself Completely Insane



      Dawn Metcalf is a fellow Elevensie and her debut YA novel, SKIN & BONES is due out in Spring 2011 by Dutton Books. She's also completely insane.

      Well, maybe we should back up a little bit. Over the past year or so Dawn has been painstakingly creating a list of readers who would be interested in reading SKIN & BONES. So far she has 7,000 e-mail addresses and she's not stopping until she has 10,000.

      Holy. Crap.

      As you can imagine, little publicity whores that we are, as soon as we heard about Dawn's insane quest we had about a million (ok, five) questions.

      LiLa: We can't believe you've got e-mail addresses for over 7,000 people who would want to read your book. We're green with envy and more than anything else we want to know HOW you've done it.

      Dawn: You presume much, young Skywalkers -- I'm *hoping* that I've found 7000 people who will *most likely* want to buy my book. Who knows? But anything's better than nothing, right?  ;-)

      Let's just say that this was Something To Do instead of biting my fingernails to the quick while waiting for the publishing Godot to ping me back.  ((shudder))

      LiLa: That publishing Godot is a bitch. So, how did this all start?

      Dawn: As a flippant remark. Now there's an auspicious start! The "marketing guru" from a previous agency was explaining to me what I could do as an author to promote myself and prove to the folks at my publishing house's acquisitions meeting that I was willing to do the work and had a book worth backing. Well, I was certainly willing to do that...but how? I was bouncing off ideas when she said with a chuckle, "Well, it's not like you could go in there with 10,000 emails of people willing to buy your book." I said, "Done."

      Gauntlet issued. Gauntlet thrown. I wanted to see if I could.

      LiLa: Wow. Where did you even begin and how the hell did you find all these e-mail addresses?

      Dawn: Well, first I did the obvious thing: listed family and friends. You know, I honestly thought I was a lot more popular than that... Ah, well. So next I thought of places I had personal connections: work, school, my local library, my local bookseller, my religious community, my karate community -- places that knew me and had folks who might buy my book because it was mine. Then I looked to my writing communities: critique partners, organizations, blog groups and author hangouts and thought about the people who I knew best and who might read my book because they'd been with me for the ride.

      This still left a long way to go.

      Then I got a little more creative and a little more specific. My book is a paranormal fantasy with a latina protagonist whose powers were based loosely on the Mexican holiday, Dia de los Muertos, and prominently featured skulls. I started looking for latina youth readerships, genre readers who liked myths and ethnic cultures, fans of paranormal fantasy books that were similar to mine...there are A LOT of interest groups out there and that's where I found *a ton* of phenomenal people and enthusiastic readers, reviewers, bloggers and artists. Many went on my list, some became new online friends, a lot of research ended up nowhere. It's been a sort of hobby in-between the writing projects and I haven't grown tired of the scavenger hunt yet!

      For example, my favorite find was from *years* ago when I stumbled across an art project, Skull-A-Day, [http://skulladay.blogspot.com] which featured a piece of inspired "skull art" every day for a year (then two, then three...). I remembered it, contacted Noah Scalin about my upcoming book, and he agreed to promote it on his site. I was thrilled! I love his stuff and can't wait to be a part of that magic! He has 1000+ fans listed on his site via Google Connect, 100+ on Twitter, 1000+ on Facebook; *someone* who loved Scalin's book, SKULLS, might enjoy my book, too. (BTW, I don't count any of these fans towards my 10,000 goal.)

      LiLa: We have the biggest girl crush on you right now, you have no idea. What are you going to do once you've got 10,000?

      Dawn: I'm gonna do my Happy Dance and then add the Excel spreadsheet to my promotional bag of tricks.

      LiLa: Solid plan. Have you told your editor about all this insanity yet?

      Dawn: Well, since she's admitted that she follows me online, I guess she knows about it now! (No, seriously, I told her about this a while ago. She said that I was crazy, but respected it.)

      LiLa: What tips would you have for other authors who want to try to do this same thing?

      Dawn: First, check with your doctor or Significant Other to see if you're certifiable. Oops! I forgot: you're a writer -- same thing, right? So: remember that query letter way back when? Remember your hook, your pitch, and that line about the "fans of X and Y" who would probably like your book? After writing down your family, friends and co-workers, go there. Think of who your book might appeal to and ferret them out. Ask yourself who are my characters or where is the setting or what is the genre audience that you are trying to reach? What makes your book stand out? What makes it similar to other great books out there? See who is following those authors or who has taken the time to review them on B&N, Borders, Amazon or Goodreads. Who lists these on Shelfari or JacketFlap? Know your book bloggers? There are great folks out there! Do a search for comments on Twitter, Livejournal or Blogger. Has anyone posted a contest? Has anyone created fan art? Written fanfic? Joined a fanlist? These are the people who were moved enough to tell *other* people about a book or be inspired by it. Those are the people I want to know about my book when it comes out.

      Let me add that I did not buy any "lists" or hire someone overseas or program a spider bot to do this for me. I hand-picked each and every person on my list as someone who I thought might be open and willing to hear about, purchase and/or recommend my book. I clicked on their website, browsed their blog, read their bio or favorites list or really loved their art. I also did not take any emails from those who posted that they don't want "spam" or hid their emails or used a pseudonom or other obvious privacy settings; these folks don't want to be contacted and I respect that. BUT if a rabid fan wants to share their love of X, Y or Z with the world, then I'm right with them! They might like my stuff, too. When I contact them, I want to be sure that they know that this is from ME. They are my personal favorite 10,000 could-be fans and I want to treat them with the respect and good humor.

      ***

      Ok, so how cool is that? What do you guys think? Are there 10,000 people out there who would be interested in buying your book? Think you can find 'em? Sound off in the comments and let us know if you have any follow-up questions for Dawn.

      P.S. Don't forget to follow Dawn on Twitter and friend her on Facebook!

      Wednesday, April 21, 2010

      Gimme a Call: Advice for LiLa from LiLa

      Have you guys been following #gimmeacall on Twitter? It's awesome. Go check it out if you haven't already and definitely order Sarah Mylanowski's book by the same name.

      Here's what we'd have to say if we got a call from our high school selves:
      • Wait until college to find a boyfriend. "Dating" in highschool consists of being the designated driver after watching your "boyfriend" shotgun beers.
      • ROCK that bikini. You look hot and being self conscious is SO last season.
      • Make-out with lots of boys. Seriously. Kissing is fun!
      • When your lab partner passes you a note professing his love, be nice. In 10 years he'll come out of the closet.
      • What are you so afraid of? People laughing at you? Here's a tip: Laugh first.
      • Pay more attention in history. It's actually kind of cool.
      • Take care of your sisters. They'll always be your best friends.
      • Mixing gin and Diet Coke is a terrible idea.
      • Just say no to purple hair dye. The prom pictures will haunt you.
      • Up-do's are almost never a good idea.
      • Outdoor parties are always the most fun.
      • Save your mix tapes. They rock.
      • Why are you so afraid to dance? Just break it down. No one's really watching you anyways
      • Eat whatever you want. It will be years before it catches up to you.
      • Be nicer to Mom and Dad. They only seem to suck because they love you.
      • If you don't agree with someone, say it. Don't be so afraid to speak up.
      • Be confident. And if you're not, fake it.
      • Make eye contact. No one gets anywhere staring at the ceiling.
      • Spend as much time as possible with your girlfriends. Some of them will be in your wedding.
      • Actually apply for those scholarships Mom won't shut up about. Student loans blow.
      • Learn how to play golf.
      • It's okay to be a nerd. Seriously. Own it. Embrace it. Being cool is boring.
      • Challenge people in the summers to move up the tennis ladder. It will make Dad happy.
      • Get your eyebrows waxed--you cannot be trusted with a pair of tweezers.
      • Don't cut all of your hair off on a dare. You'll thank me later.
      • Pay attention. Some day you'll be writing about this stuff.
      So...what advice would you have for your high school self? Advise away in the comments.

      Tuesday, April 20, 2010

      Masters of the Universe

      After some intense sisterly debate (arm wrestling included, of course) we have officially drafted an open letter to the Universe:

      Dear Universe,

      First and foremost, we love your work. I mean, our lives? Pretty awesome. Also we're really excited about the Madonna centric Glee episode tonight and something tells me we have you to thank for that. Well played.

      Anywho, you might have heard rumors about us wanting to strike a deal in regards to forcing encouraging 1,000 people to follow our random little blog in 2010. I think even you can appreciate all of the round numbers at play here, right? It just feels right.

      So, if you can arrange for us to score 1,000 Followers BEFORE January 1, 2011 we will record a little something we're referring to as the LiLa Olympics. It's sort of a cross between the Beer Olympics and a really budget beauty pageant. Here's how it's going to go down:
      • There will be four events including Talent, Evening Wear, Trivia and a Dance-off.
      • There will be a minimum of three judges, most of which will probably be related to us in some way, shape or form.
      • The entire competition will be recorded and posted on this blog for the entertainment of our loyal followers.
      Universe, we feel this deal is more than fair. I mean, we're pretty much willing to humiliate ourselves in a quasi-public forum in exchange for people clicking a tiny little button on our blog. 

      We anxiously await your reply.

      Kisses,
      L&L

      P.S.
      Thanks to 74 AMAZING blog readers we are donating all of these books to our local libraries. You guys rock!

      Monday, April 19, 2010

      D-Bag-O-Meter: Matthew McConaughey


      Oh, Matthew, where do we even begin? We have so many questions for you after watching your borderline unintelligible interview with Rachel Ray. The first of which is why the hell didn't one of the producers add subtitles? Although to be fair, I might mumble if I had to talk to Rachel Ray too. I mean, she's just so freaking perky.



      Anyways, questions, we have lots. So it's probably best that we just get them all out on the table, yes?

      1. Do you want to punch Rachel in the face when she says EVOO? (Sorry, I know it's off topic, but it's pertinent. I think the D-Bag-O-Meter might even show some leniency if the answer here was a yes...)

      2. Um, sunglasses in an interview? Really?

      3. A bedazzled beret??? COME ON! Might as well just rope a matching marf (man scarf) around your neck and call it a day.

      4. The shout out to your wife who just popped out one of your babies by confusedly looking from camera to camera and then putting your arms up in the air and shouting "Camilla you're the champion!" Um...dude, no. Just no. If I was at home lactating while my husband gave me a seemingly-drug-addled shout out on national television there would be some serious hell to pay.

      5. No changing diapers? I mean, at least pretend you change diapers. Throw us a bone here, Matthew. We want to like you. Really we do. But you spend an inordinate amount of time with your shirt off and you just don't strike us as an exceptionally responsible parent.

      So...what's the verdict D-Bag-O-Meter? All right, all right, all right, Matthew. You know what I hate about these immature movie stars, man? They get older, they have kids, but mentally they stay the same age. Matthew, put your shirt on, ditch the sunglasses and change a freaking diaper if you want out of the Spencer zone.

      Kisses and bong rips,
      L&L

      Friday, April 16, 2010

      A Conversation Between L&L: Our Deal With the Universe

      Laura: Blog post tomorrow?

      Lisa: Crap. I don't know. I'm eating ice cream. Can't this wait?

      Laura: No. We need something. Come on...

      Lisa: Fine, fine. Let me just put the Cookies and Cream away.

      (5 minutes later)

      Laura: Hello?? You're still eating aren't you?

      Lisa: What? No. OK, fine, yeah I'm still eating. But I know what we can post about.

      Laura: I'm on the edge of my seat.

      Lisa: Three words for you: Deal With the Universe.

      Laura: That's four words.

      Lisa: "The" doesn't count. Whatever, stop being so mean. We can ask our blog friends about the deal we should make to get to 1,000 followers.

      Laura: This is a terrible idea.

      Lisa: Come on! We've got to give the people what they want. Maybe if it's something outrageous enough they'll help us get followers.

      Laura: You're like some kind of twisted dictator. You know that, right?

      Lisa: Yeah, and just imagine what I can do with 1,000 minions...er....followers.

      Laura: This is exactly like that time Jackie Smith actively campaigned to get homecoming queen, you know that right?

      Lisa: Yeah, but at least our friends get something out of it. They'll get to watch us make jackasses of ourselves.

      Laura: Good point.

      OK, guys this is your big chance. What would you like to see us do once we reach 1,000 followers? Sound off in the comments and we'll select a few finalists (and maybe add a few of our own) for you to vote on next week.

      Have a fab weekend!

      Thursday, April 15, 2010

      Random Thoughts on a Thursday

      Did you love PERFECT CHEMISTRY by Simone Elkeles as much as we did? Um, then you need to buy RULES OF ATTRACTION. Now. Simone's books are just as much fun as her book trailers and the romance is HOT. You can thank us later.

      In need of a moment of zen? Just listen. Seriously.

      Remuneration for SAT words in your manuscript. Last night at YA book club, one of our 6th graders shared a surefire way to get kids (well, at least kids at her school) to read our book. Apparently one of her teachers gives extra credit points to students who find SAT words in the books they read. Her idea for us? Insert as many SAT words into our manuscript as possible--she even offered to bring us a list next meeting. When you read, "Kate became very acerbic toward her acquaintances, but in the end acquiesced and came to a mutual accord" you'll know why.

      Tax day blows. But at least you can get caffeinated for free. 

      We love Tahereh for loads of reasons, but right now we love her most for introducing us to Stuff White People Like. Hilarious. And true. I mean, we're white and we happen to LOVE  Conan O'Brien, picking our own fruit and (most importantly) hating people who wear Ed Hardy.

      What's your random thought this Thursday? Share it with the world (er...the people who read this blog) in the comments.

      Wednesday, April 14, 2010

      L vs. L: The Epic Arm Wrestling Battle of Two Sisters

      There are no words to introduce this video. Get ready to cheer for your Roecker sister and enjoy the randomness.




      P.S.
      We really, really want to hit 1,000 followers before 2011, so we're thinking about making a really questionable deal with the universe. Don't worry, we'll let you vote to decide our public humiliation. Details forthcoming.

      Tuesday, April 13, 2010

      Community LiLa Style

      Butterflies fluttered in my stomach as we approached the classroom. I half-expected to see thirty nervous-looking 6th grade faces staring up at us as we walked through the door, but instead saw a group of adults huddled over blank sheets of paper, pens poised, eager, ready. It's the first day night of school, but the curriculum has changed and so have the students. It's Novel Writing 101 and instead of textbooks we're using our (random) publishing experience.

      Be afraid. Be VERY afraid.

      Class #1 of our gig at the community center was last night. After introducing ourselves and sharing where we were at in the publishing process, we heard from eight writers all with the same goal: to write a novel. We offered up a general overview of plotting, character building, dialogue and conflict, point of view, voice, joining a writing community and querying.

      We could have talked all night.

      And to our surprise, our new friends would have listened! We went in last night thinking we'd host one class, we walked out with five more on the calendar. Boot up those computers class because there's homework due Monday.

      And for the record, we might not be as funny as Joel McHale, but our students are WAY cooler than the ones on Community. Something tells me we're going to learn as much from them as they'll (hopefully) learn from us.
      P.S.: Don't forget to enter our Epic 500 Follower Contest; the last day is today. Tune in tomorrow for the BIG show!

      Monday, April 12, 2010

      Happiness is the Public Library

      I love libraries. I always have. The musty smell, the hushed whispers, and most of all the shelves and shelves of books.

      When we were little my mom used to take us to this amazing library that had once been an old mansion. I remember running through the atrium, the sunlight streaming through lead glass windows and exploring individual rooms with gigantic arm chairs and stacks of books. The old wood floors would creak beneath our feet, the paint would chip from the walls in certain places, but it was magical.

      And now it's my turn. I take my kids to that same library, praying they'll see the magic in those walls. I want to believe that the love of reading is somehow contagious and if we go often enough, they'll catch it.

      For me libraries represent possibilities, dreams. A place to lose yourself when you need to get lost. What do libraries mean to you?

      In honor of Library Appreciation Day we'll donate one book to our local library for every comment we get on this post. To read how others are celebrating Library Appreciation check out the full list of participating bloggers at Market My Words.

      P.S.
      Ms. BookSniper has answered our question on her blog. It's hilarious AND informative. How do you not love a gal who manages to work Jessie Spano into a post about book marketing and publicity? And the girl crush rages on.

      Friday, April 9, 2010

      Ms. BookSniper Outs Herself (And answers all your burning questions!)

      There's a new totally mysterious, completely anonymous publishing blogger on the interwebs and she ROCKS. Today we're welcoming the amazing Ms. BookSniper for a guest blog. We've gotten to know her a little bit over the past few weeks and let's just say we've developed a raging girl crush.

      First things first: Go to her blog and become a follower. Believe me, you won't regret it. This woman knows stuff about publishing. All the secret stuff that no one ever wants to tell lowly aspiring authors like us.

      And the very best thing about all Ms. BookSniper's visit is that she's agreed to answer any and all questions that you guys have about publishing! Just leave a comment on this post and she'll post the answer on her blog next week. See, I told you she's cool.

      Ok, enough with all this telling, time to do the writerly thing and show you how amazing she is. Without further ado, I give you Ms. BookSniper:

      My right leg twitches with every bump of the train. The pounding in my head has made me slightly nauseous. And I think I have officially chewed a hole through my cheek. This. Can. NOT. Be. Happening.

      It's 8:48 and I'm on the way home. But I've forgotten one very important thing and it's making my stomach cramp. What was I going to say about Chapter 12 in Manuscript X again? How did the hero in Author Z's chapters resolve the conflict? And what was it that was bugging me about the new pages from my boss? For some reason I can't remember a thing about any of my projects, even though I've read them each multiple times. It doesn't matter. The only thing that matters as I fold over and stick my head between my legs-breathe in, breathe out-is that I LEFT MY KINDLE AT THE OFFICE.

      I'm not going to lie. It takes me a good three minutes to calm myself down. Then an additional five minutes to somewhat relax. And when I do, I start to think about work again. And about the editorial letter I have due to Author Z in the morning. And the notes due to my boss by lunch. And the phone conference at 11:00....my breathing quickens and suddenly I can't breath. I can't breath. OMG. I can't breath. Is this what a panic attack feels like??

      Then my phone vibrates with a text from BFF Extraordinaire.

      BFFE: What up, MB? Want 2 see How 2 Train ur Dragon tonite?

      A movie tonight? I had about a billion things to do before work tomorrow....

      MB: Sorry. 2 much work : (

      BFFE: U always say that! >:-\

      And then it hits me. BFF Extraordinaire knows me better than anyone. And BFFE is right. I DO always say that.

      My father once said "Do something you love and you won't have to work a day in your life." This, Dear Readers, is very, very true. I work all the time, every day. I work so much that I'm working in my sleep. I'm constantly reading, editing, writing notes, taking calls, checking emails, tweeting, meeting with agents, editors and other industry professionals.

      My life has become books. My life has become WORK. But it never feels like it. And the only reason I'm freaking about my Kindle is because all of my working manuscripts are on there and even if I don't use it I feel 100 times better just having it close to me, just in case the train breaks down and I have time to read a submission. Or in case I wake up at 3am and decide to finish the manuscript from Author Q. Something about it just being THERE keeps me sane.

      So there. I just outted myself. I proved to you that industry professionals can be just as obsessive and worrisome as writers. And I think what it all boils down to is that we are all doing what we love. We know it.

      Deep down, we understand how lucky we are, and we all have the constant worry that at any minute it's going to be taken away from us and then we'll have to go back to...gulp...real life. Maybe my fingers will all break at once, or the computer will spontaneously combust taking all work with it, or maybe you'll get writers block and can never, ever come up with a creative thought again. It's there. Don't deny it. Part of you is always worrying that someone is going to turn around and say to you "You can't write, so don't bother. And here, let me just chuck that computer out the window for you." You have this ridiculous fear of messing up and not being good enough, because this is too good to be true, right?

      Well you know what I say to that?

      Me too.

      And I think I'll take the night off. I mean, I can write off How to Train your Dragon...it was a book, right?

      Sincerely,
      Ms. Booksniper

      P.S.
      Now here is where you guys come in. I'm starting an industry related blog for book reviews, questions, publishing posts, giveaways, contests, and advice. And to start it, I'd like to take some questions from all of you! Lisa and Laura Roecker came up with the fabulous idea to have you ask your questions here, in the Comments of their fabulous blog. Then I will answer them for YOU, one by one, starting Monday, on MY blog www.booksniper.blogspot.com. So please, ask me any questions you have!

      Thursday, April 8, 2010

      A Roecker or an MTV Reality TV Star? You Decide.

      It's Thursday and we're in the mood for a game. Can you guess which pic features a popular celebrity and which pic features a Roecker sister (identities disguised to protect the innocent) ready for a beauty pageant dance competition in the late 90's?





























      Tough call, right?















      P.S. Have you entered our contest yet?

      Wednesday, April 7, 2010

      Starting Over

      Laura: Did you see the e-mail from beta reader extraordinaire?

      Lisa: The one critiquing the first 20,000 words of LIAR SOCIETY 2?

      Laura: Uh, yeah. That one.

      Lisa: I saw it. fskjkeospakd. Oops, sorry, my tears are blurring my vision and jamming the keys on my keyboard.

      Laura: I told you the Diet Coke thing was a terrible idea. It was just like that time we tried to kill off a character by giving her a mysterious heart condition that required those miracle pills that made it all better and then she lost the pills when she was running and totally kicked the bucket.

      Lisa: Yeah, that was awful.

      Laura: The Diet Coke was worse.

      Lisa: No way. NOTHING is worse than the heart pills.

      Laura: Well, you know what we have to do, right?

      Lisa: Embrace the suck?

      Laura: NO! We can't go on this way....

      Lisa: Yeah, yeah. I know. We have to start over don't we?

      Laura: Yup. Blank document baby.

      Lisa: $*#&*&%#*(@(&

      Laura: Tears jamming your keyboard again?

      Lisa: No, I'm scared if I actually type what I want to say we'll get kicked off Skype for profanity.

      Laura: Back to the drawing board, Idea Whore.

      Lisa: Yeah, yeah. This sucks.

      Laura: No, our WIP sucks. That's the whole problem.

      *Lisa is no longer available on Skype because she hates you*

      Tuesday, April 6, 2010

      LiLa's Totally Epic 500 Follower Contest

      About a year and a half ago we were celebrating our very first blog follower. We even promised poor Sarah an ARC of THE NORTH SHORE (aka the manuscript that was rejected by almost every breathing agent in the business).

      Now that we've hit over 500 followers we figured it was high time to offer our fabulous readers something slightly more exciting than an ARC of a manuscript that will never, ever see the light of day.

      CONTEST RULES:
      • To enter the contest you must be a follower of our blog (duh) and comment on this post. That earns you one entry.
      • You can earn one extra entry by Blogging/Tweeting/Facebooking about the contest.
      • Fill out this form (also attached at the end of this post) to place a bet on Lisa or Laura (or both if you want to hedge your bets and you've earned an extra entry).
      • We are going to hold a live sister writer arm wrestling competition that we will post next Wednesday April 14th at 8 AM.
      • All of the followers who have placed bets on the winning sister (if you bet on Lisa and Laura wins, you are out of luck my friends, so choose your Roecker sister wisely) will be entered into a lottery for these amazing prize packages:
      The Reader Package:
      The LIAR SOCIETY Package:
      • Two Starbucks Gift Cards (So you can buy Kate's favorite drink: a full-fat Frappacino with extra whipped cream.
      • A fabulous pearl necklace (Um, just don't ask us if it's real okay? If it makes you feel any better, Kate's pearls are fake too.)
      • A DIY Pineapple Pizza Kit (Kate's favorite dinner! All you'll need to do is add cheese. Trust us, it's better this way.)
      • A bike bell (Kate's sole methods of transportation are her trusty 10-speed and the school bus.)
      • A 10 page critique of your manuscript or WIP.
      The Grand Prize Roecker Extravaganza Package:
      • Glee Soundtrack Volume 1 and Volume 2
      • A variety pack of every Twizzler known to man, aside from the rainbow kind because those don't count.
      • A bottle of Prosecco (sparkling juice if you're an underage/on-the-wagon winner).
      • A t-shirt that will officially christen you as The Fourth Roecker Sister (or Sibling if one of our three male followers wins).
      • Business Cards or Stationary Designed especially for you by the ultra-talented third Roecker sister, Stacey owner of PoochiePrints.
      Not bad, right? Well, at least it's better than giving away a copy of a book that will never exist. So, please enter and tell all of your friends. And get really excited for the big vlog/contest winners announcement next Wednesday. We're taking this VERY seriously.

      Monday, April 5, 2010

      LiLa's Rebel Yell

      So you guys might have caught this last week, but just in case we wanted to post our guest blog for the YA Rebels, "What We Wish We Knew Before We Got a Book Deal." Most of the scenes were filmed on our epic NYC trip, so we had a lot of fun with this one. And, yeah, our amazing editor, Dan Ehrenhaft and the legendary Libba Bray both make cameos. Randomness abounds.



      Now go subscribe to the YA Rebels You Tube Channel. These writers are AMAZING and their daily vlogs are not to be missed.

      And please, please, please come back tomorrow to enter our EPIC 500 FOLLOWER CONTEST. We don't want to give anything away, but there will be arm wrestling involved. And t-shirts. And pearls. And maybe even a bike bell. Good. Times.

      Friday, April 2, 2010

      Pay It Forward Author Week: Elana Johnson

      As you know, this week 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 four interviews with the fabulous
      Kirsten Hubbard, Carrie Harris, Leah Clifford and Victoria Schwab. We've had so much fun getting to know these incredible writers a little bit better!

      But today we have the mother of all interviews. That's right, the genius behind Pay It Forward Author Week, the AMAZING Elana Johnson is here today to share her incredible success story with us.
      1. Tell us about your book in 140 characters or less:
      Fifteen-year-old Vi has a nasty habit of breaking Rules. When she learns she can make them, she must choose: control or be controlled.

      2. Was there ever a time when you felt like giving up? Why didn’t you?
      Oh, man, you guys. Please. Every freaking day from April to November. So what’s that? Like 200 days or something? Querying was the hardest thing on the planet. And I did it twice, for two different novels. So yeah. I felt like giving up daily for 8 months. You do the math.

      Why didn’t I? Simple: I’m too stubborn. When I want something, I will work to get it. Or I’ll die trying. And I’m not dead yet.

      3. What has been the hardest part of your road toward publication so far?
      Getting an agent (two books, about 14 months of querying total). Everything since then has been like coasting on a greased track. I mean, yeah, the waiting is killer, but when you’ve got that believer in your corner, cheering you on, you can endure the wait.

      4. Bonus: Twizzlers or M&M’s?
      I know you’re not going to like this, and I may be banned from the LiLa blog, but M&M’s. The peanut butter kind. With pretzels. Mmmm.

      If you don't read Elana's blog on a daily basis then you are missing out. Her posts are incredibly well thought out and always leave me with just a tiny bit more wisdom about the crazy world of publishing than when I arrived. And if your finger is itching to hit send on a shiny new query to agents, STOP and go buy her eBook, QUERY TO THE CALL, first.

      You'll thank me later.

      Anyways, thank you to all of the authors who participated this week and an extra special thanks to Elana for being genius enough to come up with this plan. We love you E!!!

      And whatever you do, don't forget to head over to the blogs below to get inspired! Psst...we're actually featured on Elana's blog today. See, she's not only smart, she has great taste in writer friends too.

      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

      Thursday, April 1, 2010

      Pay It Forward Author Week: Victoria Schwab

      As you know, this week 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 three interviews with the fabulous Kirsten Hubbard, Carrie Harris and Leah Clifford. Today we're chatting with fellow Elevensie, YA Rebel and all-around kick-ass writer Victoria Schwab. Before reading any further check out this incredible vlog Victoria did for the YA rebels. It perfectly illustrates her complete kick-assERY.



      Okay, now I feel comfortable moving on. Victoria is repped by Amy Tipton and her book THE NEAR WITCH will be released by Disney Hyperion in August 2011. We predict this book is gonna be huge. You heard it here first.

      1. Tell us about your book in 140 characters or less.
      The Near Witch (Disney*Hyperion, August 2011) is about a girl caught between two mysteries: the strange boy who appears one night, and the children who start disappearing right after.

      2. Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?
      Heh. Last week? Yesterday? Ten minutes ago? It's a natural feeling, when you're in a process that requires so much of you, of your thoughts and emotions. It's intense. I'm in edits right now, which are very intense because you pick apart all the work you've done, delete, correct, redo, re-examine, etc. It's incredibly rewarding, but also draining. You'd think the time I felt like giving up would be when my first book didn't sell, but that's when I felt most motivated to write a new one.

      I didn't give up because the highs are more than worth the lows. Because this is my dream job. Because it feels right, in my bones, even when it's not going well.

      3. What has been the hardest part of your road to publication so far?
      Waiting. I hate waiting.

      And edits. I wrote Near Witch in under two months I'm editing it for eight months. EIGHT. And I'm so incredibly thankful for those eight months and for my insanely awesome editor, who is bringing out the absolute best in the story, but it has definitely been the hardest part.

      4. Super secret bonus question: Twizzlers or M&Ms?
      M&Ms, but definitely the special dark chocolate ones if I can pick :)

      And thank you for having me here on the blog!

      So there you have it. Another superstar. Are you feeling the love yet? Be sure to come back tomorrow as we wrap up this week of fabulosity. And don't forget to head over to the blogs below to get inspired!

      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. We bow down to you Elana Johnson for being the brains behind this operation. What will you come up with next?