Friday, July 30, 2010

Top Five Things We Learned This Week

1. We'd rather go naked than wear words. Er...that's not quite right. Just check out our guest blog on Querypolitan for proof that fashion and writing go hand-in-hand in spite of the fact that most of the writers we know spend 99% of their time in pajamas.

2. Bitch sessions on Skype are cheaper than therapy. It's true. Instant messaging provides a 24/7 outlet for our writerly angst. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

3. We're not at SCBWI LA and we're bitter. To see just how bitter, check out our guest blog over at Market My Words. 

4. WriteOnCon is going to be AMAZING. We've been reading the faculty lectures and watching the vlogs as they come in and you guys are going to be blown away. August 10 - 12th, it's free so even poor writers like us have no excuse not to be there.

5. Jennifer Love Hewitt has a new nickname, thank you random commenter on According to an amazingly astute commenter who goes by the name "???" J. Love has been dubbed Jennifer Love Desperate. Awesome on so many levels. According to the caption on this photo "Jennifer Love Hewitt cuddled with a dog Tuesday in Beverly Hills." What it should have said, "Jennifer Love Desperate spent three  hours with a team of 10 stylists to achieve a casual, just chilling look and then stole someone's dog in order to entice the paparazzi into taking her picture after her publicist had paid them to show up." P.S. I'm DYING to see The Client List. How have I not seen this movie yet? 

Have a fabulous weekend everyone! May it be filled with trashy television and fabulous books...and, in our case, AMAZING queries!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our amazing beta reading bestie Loretta Nyhan. To celebrate Loretta is giving away all kinds of amazing prizes on her blog including a full manuscript critique. You guys are crazy if you don't go over there and enter. We would be completely lost without Loretta's amazing insight on our work. So get over there, follow her blog and wish her a happy birthday!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Bookanistas: YOU by Charles Benoit

This week we've decided to recommend the much buzzed about  YOU by Charles Benoit.

Here's what the back cover has to say: 
This wasn't the way it was supposed to go.

You're just a typical fifteen-year-old sophomore, an average guy named Kyle Chase. This can't be happening to you. But then, how do you explain all the blood? How do you explain how you got here in the first place?

 There had to have been signs, had to have been some clues it was coming. Did you miss them, or ignore them? Maybe if you can figure out where it all went wrong, you can still make it right. Or is it already too late? Think fast, Kyle. Time's running out. How did this happen?

YOU is the riveting story of fifteen-year-old Kyle and the small choices he does and doesn't make that lead to his own destruction.

In his stunning young-adult debut, Charles Benoit mixes riveting tension with an insightful—and unsettling—portrait of an ordinary teen in a tale that is taut, powerful, and shattering.

LiLa's Take: 
Read this book. 

I actually feel like I should just end my review there, but of course I'm way too opinionated to pull that off. This book is completely different than anything I've ever read before. Written in 2nd person POV it really forces the reader to see the world from Kyle's perspective. When Kyle makes a bad decision, the reader feels like they've made a bad decision. When Kyle flirts with redemption, the reader is on the edge of their seats, hoping that he might finally be able to turn his life around. 

This is one of those books where a lot of seemingly insignificant decisions have serious repercussions and it will definitely give both teen and adult readers a lot to think about long after they've put the book down. YOU is scheduled to release on August 24th. Do yourself a favor and pre-order a copy today. Just add it onto your Mockingjay order. You know you want the free shipping.

Here's what the other Bookanistas are up to this week:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

WTF Wednesday: The Kardashians, Sister Writers

In yet another sign of the impending apocalypse, the Kardashian sisters (best known for their sex tapes and vacant stares) are publishing a book.

According to

Kardashian Konfidential will include relationship advice and candids photos from reality TV's favorite trio. "It's a little bit more of an in-depth look into our lives, even though people think that they've probably seen everything," Kim, 29, said of the book, to be released Nov. 23.

Yeah, that's right, they intentionally misspelled confidential in the title. Suck on that Kirkus.

I think Laura said it best via Skype last night:

Relationship advice from the Kardashians? Awesome. One dates a complete D-bag, one got married to an NBA player after dating him for a week and one is best known for her bodacious booty and a sex tape. Also Angelina Jolie looks like she's going to die lately. Nast.

Yeah, the Angelina commentary is completely unrelated, but I was highly entertained with the term "nast" so I had to include it. I mean, does it really take that much effort to type the "y"? Perhaps it was just a typo? Either way it's funny.

Anyway, back to the Kardashian sisters my big question for all of you is what's the over/under on them having a young adult series? I give it about 6 months to 1 year before we see the inevitable announcement on Publisher's Marketplace.

July 6, 2011
Young Adult
Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian, and Kourtney Kardashian's YA series KRAZY 4 U, in which three sisters open up a trendy boutique, sleep around and take Hollywood by storm without an ounce of discernible talent, to Lucifer Beelzebub at Hades Bound Publishing, for publication beginning in Summer 2012, by Kris Jenner at Pimp My Daughters Inc. (World).

Ok, your turn. What's got you screaming "WTF!?!?" on this lovely Wednesday?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday: Guilty Consciences = WIN for Queriers

Confession: We have over 600 blog comments lingering in our inbox. Whenever we open the folder, we say a little prayer that the other sister had 24 straight hours over the weekend to respond to each and every comment and visit all the blogs we know and love. A single tear falls down our respective cheeks when we realize that this has not happened. The comments are still there and we still SUCK.

Time is tight, friends. We are spread too thin. We barely acknowledge our children, rarely have time for showers and Lisa is almost three full episodes behind on Real Housewives of New Jersey. Not. Pretty.

But we saw an opportunity yesterday when we read through all of your amazing one sentence pitches. We sat on Skype for about an hour arguing about which to choose. We figured we'd critique three queries since there was no way we could choose just one, but we kept finding more that we had to read and then we began fighting. Since there was no time for an arm wrestling match we had to get creative.

It didn't take long to remember the 600+ comments weighing heavy on our hearts. And idea whores that we are, we wondered, what if we did a little something-something on the blog once a month to make up for our inability to make it around to all our favorite blogs? What if we critiqued ALL of the amazing entries we received yesterday?

Done and done.

Okay, so we know it doesn't make up for the fact that we have been royally sucking at blog surfing and comment responding, but if you entered the query contest yestereday, consider your query critiqued! If your pitch made it in before the comments were closed, please email your complete query to us here using the subject QUERY CONTEST.

Warning: We like to rearrange and sometimes even rewrite lines of queries. We can't help it. It's our curse as Query Queens. Also it's going to take us a bit of time to make our way through the entries, so it might be a few weeks before you get our critique. Finally, we'd love to feature a few befores and afters on our blog, with permission of course. So, please let us know if you want your query to be featured and rest assured we will NOT share your query without your explicit permission.

And if you happen to have any suggestions about other ways we can pay it forward to our fabulous commenters, please let us know. Our plan is to randomly do something fun for you guys once a month and we are open to suggestions.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Queens of the Query

Last night Laura and I were lucky enough to critique a friend's query, and we were reminded about how much we love a good pitch. For the uninitiated, queries are basically brief teasers overviewing a manuscript that writers use to convince agents and editors that they absolutely must read their book. Queries are like puzzles. You put all the right ingredients together to create a picture of your manuscript and if your picture is compelling enough, agents should, in theory, want to read more.

It's a beautiful thing.

So, we thought we'd celebrate our love for queries by hosting a little contest. Query season is upon us and we're guessing lots of you are ramping up to query agents in the fall. Considering we still send our
own agent queries for new WIPs, we thought maybe it was time to give her a break and (hopefully) help you instead.

Here's the deal:

  • Write a one sentence pitch about your WIP in the comments section.
  • We'll choose our favorite. 
  • Winner gets a LiLa query critique which involves Laura and I spending an hour on the phone reading your query back and forth until we figure out exactly how to make it sing. 
  • The contest is open until midnight EST.
  • We'll announce the winner tomorrow.
Let's conquer the query!

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Friday Chat with LiLa

Lisa: So...

Laura: Yeah...

Lisa: Um, how are you? Still married? Lydia still alive and kicking?

Laura: Yeah. You?

Lisa: I started crying last night for no reason. So Ken thinks I'm crazy. Just business as usual.

Laura: PED.

Lisa: Huh?

Laura: Post Edit Depression.

Lisa: Oh, good call. You think they have drugs for this kind of thing? I just don't know what to do with myself.

Laura: I know. Have you tried refreshing email?

Lisa: Yes, I'm doing it right now. It's so wrong, but it feels so right. Kind of like J. Simp's romper.

Laura: If that's not a cry for help, I don't know what is.


Lisa: Yeah. So...

Laura: Um...I guess I'll just talk to you when we get line edits?

Lisa: Yeah, whatever. Wait! What about the blog?

Laura: Can't you just post this conversation? It's riveting.

Lisa: Done.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Bookanistas: Covers We Covet

It's no secret that we're a couple of cover whores and as 2011 approaches, there have been a slew of gorgeous covers revealed. Here are a few of our favorites:

XVI by Julia Karr

In the year 2150, being a girl isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially when your sixteenth (read sex-teenth) birthday is fast approaching. That in itself would be enough to make anyone more than a little nuts, what with the tattoo and all – but Nina Oberon’s life has taken a definite turn for the worse. Her mother is brutally stabbed and left for dead. Before dying, she entrusts a secret book to Nina, telling her to deliver it to Nina's father. But, first Nina has to find him; since for fifteen years he's been officially dead. Complications arise when she rescues Sal, a mysterious, and ultra hot guy. He seems to like Nina, but also seems to know more about her father than he’s letting on. Then there’s that murderous ex-government agent who’s stalking her, and just happens to be her little sister’s dad.

Freak. That’s what they called seventeen year-old Donna Underwood in high school after a horrific fey attack that killed her father when she was just a child. Her injuries and rehabilitation resulted in magically enhanced strength, thanks to the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. As a child of the alchemists, she is both blessed and cursed with a magical heritage that doesn't leave much room for boys, parties and homework.  

Now, after ten years of wishing for a normal life, she finally has to accept her role in the centuries-old war against the darkest outcasts of Faerie: the Dark Elves. Aided by a gorgeous half-fey dropout, Donna must race to save her best friend’s life - even if it means betraying one of the world’s greatest secrets and confronting the very thing that destroyed her family. 

Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris

Super-smartie Kate Grable gets to play doctor, helping out her high school football team. Not only will the experience look good on her college apps, she gets to be thisclose to her quarterback crush, Aaron. Then something disturbing happens. Kate finds out that the coach has given the team steroids. Except . . . the vials she finds don’t exactly contain steroids. Whatever’s in them is turning hot gridiron hunks into mindless, flesh-eating . . . zombies.

Unless she finds an antidote, no one is safe. Not Aaron, not Kate’s brother, not her best friend . . . not even Kate . . .

It’s scary. It’s twisted. It’s sick. It’s high school.

2011 is going to be EPIC. We've had a few questions about when we'll be revealing the cover for LIAR SOCIETY and we are hoping to unveil it very, very soon. We've seen a couple rough comps and we are beyond excited to share.

Check out what our fellow Bookanistas are up to today:

Christine Fonseca is coveting the cover of A TOUCH MORTAL
Shelli Johannes-Wells is working some MAJIK
Bethany Wiggins is totally team Jay with THE BODY FINDER
Beth Revis recommends THE REPLACEMENT
Carolina Valdez Miller talks up NIGHTSHADE
Shannon Messenger raves about The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter
Kirsten Hubbard is coveting 2011 covers

Please go congratulate the ab fab Gretchen McNeil on her book deal for BANISH! We could not be more excited for her!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

WTF Wednesday: Frustration

After reading some of the comments from yesterday's post I decided it might be time to post something that we wrote a few months ago. We had hit a major bump in the road to publication and were beyond frustrated. As Heidi Willis said yesterday, "Once you get published it doesn't feel like the dream came true. It feels like it's just getting started."

I don't want you to think we have rainbows shooting out of our asses, because we most certainly DO NOT. We've gotten rejected more times than I care to remember, we've had our asses handed to us by editors, agents and beta readers of all shapes and sizes and we've come thisclose to giving up about a million times.

But we're still here.

So, without further ado, here's my take on frustration:

As I'm sure you guys have noticed we're sort of glass-half-full kind of gals. There's not a lot that can happen in the publishing world that really gets us down. In fact, one of our writer friends recently confessed that when she pictures the two of us she can't help but visualize us shaking pom-poms. [For the record, we were NOT cheerleaders. In fact, as those of you who have seen me dance can attest, rhythm is in short supply in the Roecker gene pool.]

The truth is, we love what we're doing and I think that happiness just sort of bleeds into everything we say and do.

But today, for whatever reason, I'm frustrated. I get this pit in my stomach and wonder if we're ever really going to make it in this business. I'm terrified that we've been given this golden opportunity and we're going to somehow blow it. I'm tired of all the waiting. I'm frustrated that we just had to delete 20,000 words in our WIP. And I just want this whole crazy business of getting our book published to be easy. For once.

Are you guys throwing rotten tomatoes at me yet? I mean, how dare I complain? We've made it, right? Our book is going to be published. We should be sitting at a pool somewhere sipping strawberry daiquiris and giggling at our good fortune.

But in this business it seems like there's always another hurdle ahead. Oh, congrats on your book deal! Are you going out in hardcover or paperback? What's your budget for PR and marketing? Have you gotten your cover yet? Who's blurbing your book? What's your print run? Are all the major chains going to stock your book? Have you sold in any foreign markets?

And the list goes on and on and on.

So, today is one of the days I stop and remind myself that we ARE lucky, this is a golden opportunity, and that no matter what this crazy business throws at us next, we will not blow it. And above all else, we'll enjoy every single moment of this process. Even the the dull ache I get in my index finger after refreshing my e-mail approximately 5,000 times a day. After all, a couple years ago the most exciting thing to hit my inbox was a dirty e-mail forwarded by my grandmother.


I guess we just want to remind everyone that we ALL have bad days and we all feel like giving up at one point or another. Laura wouldn't let me post this in the midst of all of our drama for fear that we'd come off like a couple of Negative Nancys, but I think it's important that we all recognize the highs and lows in this business.

And you know what? We made it over the hurdle that inspired this blog post. It wasn't easy and it wasn't fun, but we survived. So, whatever bump you're facing in your writing or life in general, don't be afraid to shift into reverse and hit the gas. Sure you might crash and burn, but chances are you'll be over it in no time. After all, it's only a bump in the road.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Two Years Ago Today...

Two sisters sat on the phone and had a long talk.

A talk about their lives. (they sucked)

Their dreams. (they weren't even sure they had any)

And their big idea. (to write a book and get it published)

If we had known then how much hard work it would take to get us where we are today, I'm not sure if we would have had the guts to even start.

But we've come a long way baby. 

And if we had to do it all over again, we would. 

Now we're soon-to-be-published authors. (March 2011, baby!)

But there are still days where our dreams feel further away than ever. 

But two years in and we're still nowhere close to giving up. (mostly because we're not exactly sure what we'd be doing if we weren't doing this)

Plus, you don't just give up on your dreams. (especially when it's taken you this long to figure them out)

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Monday Mouth-Off with Miley Cyrus

It's Monday and we're sick of the sound of our own voices after spending the entire weekend on the phone hashing out edits, so we decided to put words into Miley's mouth. She rarely has anything remotely interesting to say anyways.
  1. Don't knock toeless socks till you try 'em, y'all.
  2. [Miley's remake of Achey Breaky Heart] Don't tell my unitard, my hole-y sparkly unitard, It just might snap off and leave me naked.
  3. Once a Disney Princess, always a Disney Princess.
Your turn. Fill in Miley's word bubble in the comments. We'll tweet our favorite entry.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bring on the Betas...

So, the last week has been all editing, all the time. Lucky for us we have an amazing beta ninja who's willing to read (and rip apart) our work as we go. She gives us the gift of instant feedback and we will never, ever be able to thank her enough.

And now it's time for the big test.

We're sending our baby off to people who have never read our writing before (unless you count the blog). Writers who don't know Kate or Grace or Seth. Writers who (if we're being totally honest...) scare the shit out of us. They're that talented.

So, now we wait. And we see if they love it or hate it or want us to rewrite the whole damn thing. After all, this is our last chance to make big changes.

This might be one of the scariest things we've ever done, but I guess it's time for us to (wo)man up. Because after we're done with line edits, it's going to a couple other authors who we like and respect and who have written books that we love. And pretty soon after that we'll have to send it out to writers we've never even met before who may or may not want to say nice things about our work. And then there will be ARCs floating around and reviews popping up and tears being shed. And you guys might have to remind us to breathe.

Bring. It. On.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Bookanistas: An Interview with Author Lee Bantle

Today we'd like to welcome Lee Bantle, author of the acclaimed DAVID INSIDE OUT

From the publisher: David Dahlgren, a high-school senior, finds solace in running with the track team; he’s a fast runner, and he enjoys the camaraderie. But team events become a source of tension when he develops a crush on one of his teammates, Sean. Scared to admit his feelings, David does everything he can to suppress them: he dates a girl, keeps his distance from his best friend who has become openly gay, and snaps a rubber band on his wrist every time he has “inappropriate” urges. Before long, Sean expresses the thoughts David has been trying to hide, and everything changes for the better. Or so it seems.
In this thoughtful yet searing coming-of-age novel, Lee Bantle offers a raw, honest, and incredibly compelling account of a teenager who learns to accept himself for who he is.

We are thrilled that Lee agreed to answer some questions for us today!

1. How much (if any) of DAVID INSIDE OUT is based on your personal experiences?

Lots of it.  Not so much the actual events as the feelings.  Like David, I wanted to change myself to be straight.  I went so far as undergoing a year of therapy.  Like David, I found out it doesn't work.  After that, I felt free to follow my heart.

2. Our first thought after finishing this book was that it was a great way to reach out to teens coming out of the closet. Have you heard from any of your younger readers? 

I get lots of email and Facebook messages. Many LGBT teens identify with David.  They don't want to be gay.  But they know they are.  David's struggle is their struggle.  The book shows their feelings.

Some of the letters are heartbreaking.  The writers fear harassment. Or their parents' rejection.  They're  afraid to take the book out of the library so they have a friend do it or read it secretly at Barnes & Noble. What I want to say to them is no one should be embarrassed about being gay.  Or about what they read.
3. What was your road to publication like? Was it harder finding an agent and publisher because of the book's content and themes?

Not at all.  My agent, Mitchell Waters is gay and he was behind the book.  My publisher, Henry Holt, wanted an LGBT title for their YA line.  I think publishers generally ( or at least in NYC) are more concerned about good writing than about a controversial theme.  

4. I was so excited to find that our local library system has almost 20 copies of your book in their system because this seems like it would be a great book for kids struggling with identity issues. What has the reaction been from booksellers, librarians and teachers?

My favorite reaction from a librarian was when I told her the book had sex in it.  "I hope so!" she replied.  That made me laugh and feel comforted.  Librarians have written me that they are so glad the book is out there for the kids who need to read it. I haven't  had much interaction with teachers.  I suspect the book is not going to be in the mainstream classroom on account of the sex.  But hopefully, that's why all your readers will pick up a copy.  lol.    

5. (Ok, this is the big one...) Twizzlers or M&Ms?

Now, you're talking.  Definitely Twizzlers.  But if I could have what I really wanted, it would be Whoppers.

Thank you so much for taking the time to join us today, Lee! Even better for you guys, Lee has agreed to give away a copy of DAVID INSIDE OUT to one lucky commenter. All you need to do is leave a comment or question for Lee here and we'll announce the winner tomorrow morning!

And be sure to check out what our fellow Bookanistas are up to today:

Elana Johnson is spreading some cover love with BAD TASTE IN BOYS
Christine Fonseca is dishing about TELL ME A SECRET
Scott Tracey is gushing over PARANORMALCY
Beth Revis is spreading some cover love with XVI
Carolina Valdez Miller is raving about FIRELIGHT
Myra McEntire is loving SIREN
Shannon Messenger is digging THE DUFF
Michelle Hodkin is embracing the awesome of THE REPLACEMENT
Shelli Johannes Wells is adding to the buzz about MATCHED
The Plot This Belles are adoring THE HEALING SPELL

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

In Which the Sister-Editors Turn on Each Other

After five straight days of editing things inevitably start to fall apart. Our children start to hate us, our houses look like someone bombed them with toys and cookie crumbs and our yoga pants start to develop a very distinct odor. Life isn't pretty in LiLa land at this stage of the game and it's usually right around this time where we start to turn on each other...

Lisa: There's something wrong with the big reveals. They don't feel big.

Laura: *silence*

Lisa: Hello? Are you there? The book sucks. It's not working.

Laura: We can't do anything about it. Maybe they're not reveals anymore, more like putting puzzle pieces together. It's still totally satisfying.

Lisa: *silence*

Laura: Did you hear me?

Lisa: Yeah, I heard you, I just think it's stupid.

[Kids begin wrestling and screaming at the top of their lungs for ice cream. Lisa locks herself in the nearest closet.]

Laura: Well, fixing that particular issue would require rewriting the entire book. We'd have to change alliances, destroy friendships.

Lisa: What's that noise? Are you crying or did you just turn on Strawberry Shortcake again for Lydia?

Laura: *sniffles* Both.

Lisa: Pull it together. [Sounds of battling children escalate to the point where there's a 50/50 chance that the neighbors have already called child services.] I gotta go.

Laura: Whatever.

20 minutes later....

Laura: I've got it! We can tone down the flashback, make it less obvious. Then it's still a surprise.

Lisa: Holy shit. That totally works. You're a genius.

Laura: I know.

Lisa: I love you.

Laura: I know.

Lisa: Also I'm 99% sure Ken is going to divorce me by the time this book hits the shelves.

Laura: You are not moving in with me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Confessions of a Sister-Writer Editing Team

Hi, my name is Laura and I'm the one who contributed 99% of the gerunds/participial phrases (whichever are the bad ones) to our manuscript.

Hi, my name is Lisa and I'm obsessed with unnecessary additions of "that." Sometimes Laura deletes them and I add them back in.

Hi, our name is LiLa and we still really, really like adverbs that end in -ly and we tend to overuse the word "look."

Move over Stephen King.

Monday, July 12, 2010

From LiLa-ctionary: Edit Brain

 1edit brain 
Pronunciation: \ˈe-dət\ \ˈbrān\
Function: transitive verb
Etymology: Skype conversation between the sister-writers Lisa and Laura Roecker, commonly referred to as LiLa
Date: July 2009
1: complete inability for normal brain function following excessive editing of manuscripts 
2 : emotional detachment and inability to interact socially while consumed by editing your novel 
3: inability to come up with thought provoking or entertaining blog posts while engaging in the act of editing  
4: a temporary affliction caused by removing an excessive number of gerunds from an 80,000 word manuscript
5 : the direct result of living off of Diet Coke and Twizzlers for weeks at a time while attempting to make constructive changes to a manuscript
6 : the complete and utter neglect of wifely and motherly duties in order to improve a manuscript. Common symptoms include large piles of laundry, dirty floors and bringing your laptop to the gym

Suffering from edit brain is a bitch. (See that, Loretta? Another gerund!) As a result our posts may be particularly disjointed and random this week. Enjoy.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Top 5 Things We Learned This Week

1. Editing can be fun. No seriously! We're actually kind of enjoying edits. Don't tell anyone though, ok? We don't want this getting around...

2. Spelling out "HOME" in fireworks still doesn't make people want to stay in Cleveland. Shocking, right? I feel like Cleveland was acting like a stage-5 clinger in the whole LeBron James scenario. Maybe it's time that we all start focusing on fixing some of the bigger problems that plague our city as opposed to pouring money into sports teams that most often end up playing like the Bad News Bears. Just a thought.

3. Twinky is an adjective. That's right, interwebs, when a guy is twinky, he's young and cute, but scrawny/undeveloped. So, Justin Bieber? Totally twinky.

4. Apparently, some people look like they just ate a large cheeseburger when they're actually 7 months pregnant. This makes me very, very sad.

5. I LOVE our Cleveland YA Book Club. This week we discussed INCARCERON followed by our usual publishing industry therapy session. I come home from book club meetings feeling happy and refreshed. It's just nice to hang out with other writers, people who really understand what we go through on a day-to-day basis. So, if you're ever planning a trip out to Cleveland (perhaps to take in one of our epic firework displays!?!) please shoot us an e-mail and see if your visit falls near a book club meeting.

So, what did you guys learn this week?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Bookanistas: STRANDED by J.T. Dutton

We are so excited to introduce a new book review blog chain called The Bookanistas. We're a group of writers who are at various stages in the publishing process and have decided to band together to recommend and promote the books we love. As writers we've made a conscious decision to post only about books that we're excited to read or books that we've already read and loved.

We will post reviews every Thursday that cover various topics – upcoming ARCs, books we've read and enjoyed, and even cover reviews. The Bookanistas think books are the new black, so if you'd like one of us to review your book or ARC, feel free to contact us and we will add it to our list.

This week we've decided to recommend STRANDED by J.T. Dutton.

Here's what the cover has to say: A farmer’s discovery in his cornfield thrusts a small farm town into a raging media frenzy—and Kelly Louise into a new home. Who knew a person could feel so completely stranded somewhere with national news coverage?

How is Kelly Louise supposed to shed her virginal status when the baby in the cornfield shadows her every hair flip, every wink? And the one boy around who rates anywhere near acceptable on the Maximum Man Scale only has eyes for her cousin, Natalie (who only has eyes for Jesus).

But Natalie has a secret. Everyone is so busy burying the truth about Baby Grace, they can’t see who they’re burying alive.

Welcome to Heaven, Iowa.

LiLa's Take: We fell in love with this book when we attended the book launch and heard the author read an excerpt. Kelly Louise's voice is engaging and often times laugh out loud funny.

According to Kelly Louise, the Sorenson family is very emotional, "possibly the reason we have a history of farm foreclosure and alcoholism." Yet her Nana is always hoping they'll turn things around which might explain the reason "she opted for the white rug in the living room, instead of a more practical color for soda and gin drinkers like bright orange. The Sorensons had such a bad track record maybe we should be a little more humble in our decorating choices."

Dutton's lyrical and entertaining voice really brings Heaven, Iowa to life. The themes throughout the book are dark, but Dutton has a light touch and handles difficult situations deftly. In Kelly Louise's world wearing a beret is "like wearing a wink." There's magic in her words and her story, and we hope you'll check it out.

Here's a list of the other amazing book recommendations you can check out this week:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

How Writing Novels is a Little Like Peeing Your Pants

As my daughter writhed on the floor of a public bathroom and I practically foamed at the mouth in an attempt to yell at her quietly, it got me thinking. Potty training is really similar to writing a book. Let me explain...

We often take two steps forward only to take one giant leap back.
Potty Training...Dry pull-ups for three nights in a row in addition to naps! M&Ms and stickers all around! Only to be followed by four accidents within an hour directly after that third dry night. That's a lot of poopy Dora panties, people.
And writing...We have a plot! We have characters! We have 20,000 junky words we must delete before starting again. That's just a lot of poop. Period.

You're overcome with an intense fear of leaving the house. 
Potty Training...Do I really want to explain to the librarian the source of that wet spot near the board books? How will I ever go to Target again after my child brings a whole new meaning to the "clean up in aisle 10" announcement? You mean I have to pack three changes of clothes, numerous plastic bags and a portable potty seat my sisters will make fun of me for buying because I'm afraid of the germs in public bathrooms?
And writing...I'm almost done with this chapter, then I'll go and brush my teeth and maybe shower. I only have a little more research to do and then I'll buy groceries. I'll refresh my e-mail for another half hour and then I'll clean the house. Wait, it's Thursday already and all I've done is dick around on the internet and write 1,000 words!?! $%&*.

When the going gets tough, you want to quit. 
Potty Training...As opposed to feeling sad or embarrassed after accidents, your child seems especially excited to pick out new underwear. Ask yourself for the millionth time why you didn't just buy boring, white underwear as opposed to Minnie, Elmo and Princesses.
And writing...You've written a chapter you think is especially engaging or exciting or perfect in every way. Writing partner or beta informs you this is your worst chapter to date. You wonder whether you should consider adding Minnie, Elmo AND Princesses. I mean, it couldn't hurt...

Oh what a thankless, thankless job. 
Potty Training...As the washer is running for the tenth time and you've scrubbed the same spot in the playroom for the eleventh, she decides to use the potty right when her dad gets home from work eliciting from him the whole, "This potty training thing isn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be!" line.
And writing...As the dishes pile in the sink, you're on day three of your favorite black yoga pants and you haven't had a decent meal since Thanksgiving, your husband rolls home from work and asks, "When are you supposed to get that advance check?"

It's a slooooooow process. 
Potty Training...You've visited the same public restroom four times within the hour as child squeaks out a few drops of something or other and seconds later asks to do the same all over again and you can't possibly say no because the second you do, more pee than you've ever seen in your life will be dribbling down that tiny two-year-old's leg.
And writing...No, our book will not be available this Christmas, yes, it's a slow process. No, the second one won't come out a few months after the first, yes, they take time to edit. No, we haven't written all the books in the series, yes, they take a while to write.

So, the moral of the story is that the next time you're stuck on a tough chapter or constantly refreshing your e-mail waiting for responses from agents or editors, remember it could be worse. You could be potty training your 2-year-old at the same time. Either way things are guaranteed to get messy.

If you're in the mood for some good old fashioned cyberstalking today check out our guest post on uber famous author Kimberly Derting's blog AND our interview with the FABULOUS Jen Daiker. We kind of feel like it's raining awesome today.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday

1. It's 90 degrees in Cleveland. The air is like soup and I feel a little like someone has drained the life out of me (Edward? Is that you watching me sleep and sucking the life out of me? If so, you better buy me a WAY cuter ring than that hussy, Bella). This kind of weather makes me want to hibernate until it's October.

2. I spent almost my entire weekend reading. SO many good books to share with you guys over the next few months. In fact, we've even come up with an exciting new way to get the word out. Check back on Thursday for all the deets.

3. I'm down to like 3 hours of must-see TV a week. Summer TV is simply not what it was cracked up to be. I've even (gasp) removed shows from my Season Pass list. And those of you familiar with my TV viewing habits are well aware of how bad a show has to be to actually get permanently deleted from my DVR.

4. My dreams are full of book-related craziness. I had a dream last night where I was loitering around a book store informing customers that THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE will change their lives. I must really love that book.

5. When I go to the gym without any reading material, crazy things happen. Crazy as in we may or may not be starting our very own LiLa Reality Vlog Show...stay tuned this week for an epic announcement.

6. Scott Tracey has a better, smarter, more productive truth than us today. Read and discuss, my friends. We happen to agree with him 100%.

So, what's your truth on this steamy Tuesday?

Friday, July 2, 2010

WTF Friday...

No, it's not Tuesday, but it is almost our nation's birthday, so we figured it was time for a good old, all-American WTF. This week's installment is brought to you by the one and only, Chris Brown.

You can't NOT say WTF after reading this article. I mean...
  • Chris Brown, the R&B sensation convicted of domestic abuse singing a tribute.
  • Chris Brown, the R&B sensation convicted of domestic abuse singing a tribute to MJ, alleged sex offender.
  • Chris Brown, the R&B sensation convicted of domestic abuse singing a tribute to MJ, alleged sex offender using the song "Man in the Mirror" (The irony is not lost on us, CB.)
  • Chris Brown, the R&B sensation convicted of domestic abuse singing a tribute to MJ, alleged sex offender using the song "Man in the Mirror" AND fake tear drops.
We rest our case.

But wait! There's a rebuttal from one of US Weekly's dedicated commenters. She goes by Patty, but we're wondering if maybe that's just an alias for good old Chris himself:


Wow. God Bless America. When you light a sparkler this weekend think of Chris Brown, fake tears and Patty.

So, WTF is up with you this Friday?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

PMS: Post Manuscript Sorrow

You know that feeling you get when you're absolutely loving a book and you pass the halfway point? You slow down a little, re-read great sentences, prolong the experience of reading really amazing words. And then when there's only one or two pages left, you begin to mourn the loss of the book, even before it's over. What will you read next? How will you ever love characters as much? How will another author ever top this book?

That's how I feel when we start a new project.

Lisa can spout off ideas like it's her job, and as the official idea whore, I guess it kind of is. She can form an entire plot in seconds with characters to boot. I sit back unconvinced, still bitter at having typed "The End" on whatever manuscript we've just wrapped up. We go back and forth like this, Lisa spouting, me poking until we're a combination of exhausted, annoyed, excited and confused and there's nothing left to do but write.

So we do. Well, actually, Lisa does. She always writes the first chapter. Always. And then it appears in my inbox and I download the document 1/4 curious, 3/4 skeptical. But as I read her words, her first-take at the start of a shiny new project, I'm hooked. And before I know it I'm editing and rearranging and typing Chapter 2.

And so it starts. The beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Tell me I'm not insane. Does anyone else grieve endings and beginnings like I do?

Don't call this a comeback

So it’s been a minute. Or 10. Or truthfully more like 2,102,400. At least we think that’s how many minutes there are in 3 years, but let...