Monday, December 30, 2013

Shiny New Ideas For a Shiny New Year

It's almost time to start the year! So what better time to pay attention to some of those shiny new ideas that have been floating around in your head like willow the wisps? You know the ones. The ones that you brush away like flies because you're trying to focus on revisions. 

Once in a while one of those lovely little wisps grows bright and shiny and demands your focus, despite your attempts otherwise. It might even wake you in the middle of the night because it's so bright. 

My advice? Pay attention. Get up and write what demands to be written. Jot down those characters and problems and first pages (that probably won't be first pages forever) and whatever else you need to. Start a file for it. Give in. Because there's nothing like that joy in discovering something new that was inside of you all along. 

Do you have to let it take over? No. You can - and probably should - finish what you need to. But you might as well take a break on occasion when the muse strikes. Because it'll refresh you and remind you what you love about this work. Yes, even if you enjoy revisions. :D 

So happy new ideas to you all!!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Twelve Days of Writing

(I'll skip to the last refrain as that's the most entertaining). 

On the twelfth day of Writing my true muse gave to me:
Twelve revisions finished,
Eleven read through passes,
ten queries pending,
nine craft books open,
eight passive verbs cut,
seven critique partners,
six books to read now,
five chocolate truffles,
four full requests,
three new rejections, 
two blogposts pending,
and a new idea in my head.

Have a merry holiday for those who celebrate!! Isn't that partridge cute? 

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Missing Piece

This time of year is good for reflection. I remember well TBW. The Time Before Writing. I felt like something was missing despite all that I was fortunate enough to have in my life. Obviously that missing piece was writing, which I've been doing ever since I realized that. 

There have been times when life has gotten crazy. Distractions exist, both good and bad, big and small, but through everything I know that if I'm not writing, I'm not complete. 

I suspect it's the same for most of you. Whether you've been living with this conclusion for years or just learning it to be true, you probably have that same driving need inside of you. It's nice to know there's company!

There will be times - and I promise you this - that you'll get distracted by the glitzy lights and colorful wrapping (yes I'm using a metaphor here), when you get frustrated by rejection when you thought this was it, or you become overwhelmed with marketing, etc. But please remember to take a breath, close your eyes, focus on the story inside, and remember. Remember the moment you realized what the missing piece was. 

Because it all comes down to that. Don't cheat yourself. Be true to you and keep working toward your goal, whatever that is. Mostly, keep working on being better at expressing yourself on paper. You can enjoy the lights and gifts too, but it's the warm fuzzies inside that fuel the soul. 

Sorry if this was a little sappy for me. I guess I'm in that kind of mood. :D 

Happy Holidays whatever you celebrate!! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

How Writing a Book is Like Holiday Shopping

It's that time of year again. Everyone's busy running around and grabbing gifts for others. Sort of like writing a book, right? Let's take a look…

  1. Making a list. Do you plan it out ahead of time or do you go by the seat of your pants and hope that perfect gift will strike you as you stroll through the mall (sit at the keyboard)?
  2. That feeling when you know you got it right! You found the exact right thing for Aunt Mabel and it was on sale too (you're on a roll and it's working).
  3. What if they hate it? Well, I guess this one's kind of self-explanatory. 
  4. Dealing with crowds. Sometimes you have to fight for the last one or stand in line for hours. Is it worth it? If the gift is that great, it is. Same with a story. Agents and editors and even readers sift through many choices, but when someone picks yours out it's all worth it. 
  5. Making a chocolate or coffee stop when it gets hectic. Yeah, self-explanatory again.
  6. Just when you thought you were done you remember your sister's husband's golf buddy. Time for revision!
  7. Wrapping everything. And more revision…
  8. You've searched and searched and you still have no idea what to get your nephew. You're about to throw the computer at the wall because you can't solve this one plot issue.
  9. Inspiration strikes. You figure it out.
  10. The smiles on your friends and family's faces when they open their perfect gifts. The feeling when you are ready to send it on submission/to your agent/to your editor/publish for others to read and enjoy. 
So, what do you think? Did I miss anything? Happy Holidays!!!

Monday, December 2, 2013

We're All Winners!

Thank you all for indulging me last week while I thanked just a few of the very special peeps in my life. And thank you for suggesting so many worthy people. Here is a list of those we are honoring and who mentioned them! 

  1. Morgan Shamy (nominated by Johanna Garth and Julie Musil)
  2. Jaybird (nominated by Johanna Garth)
  3. Tanya Reimer (nominated by Vicki Tremper)
  4. Michele Shaw (nominated by Julie Musil)
  5. Barbara Watson (nominated by Akossiwa)
  6. Jan Lewis (nominated by Martina Boone)
  7. Natalie Aguirre (nominated by C. Lee McKenzie)
If your name is listed next to a number above you win your choice of 
  1. A five page critique via yours truly
  2. A Kindle copy of THE BINDING STONE
  3. An ecopy of THE EMOTION THESAURUS (or positive or negative trait thesaurus) by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
  4. A $5 Amazon gift card

Please just email me at lisagailgreen at gmail dot com to let me know your preference and give me your email so I can reward you. 

Thank you all for bringing joy to others! 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Ian Kezsbom

Ian doesn't have a huge online presence like my other honorees, but he's no less important to me! See, Ian is not only an uber talented writer, he's also an AH MAZE ING editor. MY editor and president of Fuzzbom Publishing the company that published not only THE BINDING STONE, but all of the JOURNEYS OF WONDER anthologies. Ian's a busy guy (almost as busy as his wife, Deborah). He's a father, a film editor, and a publisher/writer. But he always gets back to me no matter how much is going on. He's multi-talented and a very funny guy. He does have a blog under Journeys of Wonder (clicky click). Happy Turkey Week, Ian!

Don't forget today is your last chance to leave info about someone you want me to thank with a prize.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Angela Ackerman

Angela is another one of those people that spreads the awesomeness beyond expectations. She and Becca (who is also topped with awesome sauce) run Writers Helping Writers blog, which says it all in the name. But Angela is also funny, sweet, and smart. If you're a writer you need to check out their bookstore, full of helpful craft books like the Emotion Thesaurus.

So this shout out is for her! *sprinkles bacon and pixie dust* because she's also a bacon fanatic. ;D

Don't forget to leave info about someone you want me to thank with a prize.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Martina Boone

Martina probably doesn't need introduction. She's the mastermind (and I mean that literally) behind the Adventures in YA and Childrens Publishing blog. She started the First Five Pages Workshop with me. And she has the first book in her trilogyThe Heirs of Watson Island, BEHOLDEN, coming out soon (but not soon enough so go mark it on Goodreads). I've known Martina for a while now and I have to tell you, she is one of those people who can accidentally intimidate you with her brain power and creative process. She's supportive, brilliant, and unbelievably talented and I hope she knows how much I appreciate her!

Don't forget to leave info about someone you want me to thank with a prize.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Leslie Rose

I can't mention Julie without telling you about our third musketeer, Leslie! Leslie is kind, giving, creative, intelligent, and one of the funniest people I know. She's also unbelievably talented. It blows me away how she can switch genres at the drop of a pin and keep the amazing voice like she does. So this shout out is for her.

Don't forget to leave info about someone you want me to thank with a prize.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Julie Musil

Julie is not only my first writing buddy, she's seriously the nicest person I know. I can't even believe how sweet she is sometimes. She's also a talented writer and an avid blogger who has touched so many others. So this shout out goes to Julie!!! Look for her first book coming out soon. THE BOY WHO LOVED FIRE and go mark it to read on Goodreads. ;D

Don't forget to leave info about someone you want me to thank with a prize.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Spread the Love

I'm switching gears since Thanksgiving is next week. I want to take time out to say thank you because I'm so grateful to so many of you. I know I'll forget people, I have trouble with that sort of thing and I don't want to leave anyone out. But I do have a few extra special people I want to give a virtual hug to. 

But I want to spread the love! So here's the deal - leave a comment anytime this week or next and let me know who you're thankful for, their email/website, and a short reason why and I will pick a couple of these awesome peeps and give them a book or critique (you may want to specify what you think they'd like), letting them know it was YOU behind the whole thing. 

Why not do something nice for someone?

So next week (turkey week) I will be doing one short post per weekday about people I'm thankful for. I hope you'll go say hello to some of these folks because they are awesome. Trust me on that! And if I don't *feature* you, it doesn't mean I don't appreciate you. Let me know who else in the blogosphere you appreciate and I'll help share the love. 

Because supporting each other is one of the best parts of being a writer!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Put It Away - Not Yet!

I thought this topic may be appropriate for those participating in Nano as well. I've been talking about breaking rules of writing and I plan on tackling one of the biggest right now - putting it away after the rough draft before you work on it.

I've mentioned before how important it is to set your manuscript aside to see it with fresh eyes. Are you ready for this?

You just wrote (are writing) a rough draft. You've vomited out fifty thousand words in one month. The characters and plot are an excited jumble in your mind that won't let you sleep. 


Yup. That's right. If it's what's on your mind and you're itching to tackle a revision, go ahead.

Shouldn't you put it away?? *bites nails* YES. You should. Just... not yet. Don't you dare go querying it or anything. But are you going to have to revise? No question. So if you want to work on it until you can't see straight go ahead, and THEN when you've had it, when you can't tell one sentence from another, THEN you put it away in the proverbial drawer. 

Monday, November 4, 2013


He he. Like my title? Lee McKenzie pointed out a rule the other week that I just LOVE to break as well and that is starting a sentence with "and" or "but". Also, writing in fragments. See what I did there? LOL

If you do it too much, it's distracting. I usually end up fixing quite a few in edits, but it's part of my style as an author. I don't do it because I have a reckless disregard for grammar (though I admit I'm not the best at that). I do it because it lends power to my words, my flow, and my voice. If it doesn't? Then I get rid of it. 

OH. You noticed the contest part, did you? *rubs hands together* I've decided to give you all some incentive to participate. All you have to do is suggest a writing rule you want me to talk about in this blog series and I will use to pick a winner. Sound good? Easy peasy, just the way I like it! 

What do you win? How about a Kindle version of THE BINDING STONE? Already read it? I'll give you your choice of that or a five page critique. Oh and of course a shout out if and when I pick your suggestion. Contest is open now through Friday at midnight EST. No extra points, but my everlasting gratitude if you help publicize it. ;D

Back to my rule of the day. And you've also been waiting for the "butt" part, haven't you? Here's an excerpt (possible slight spoilers) from THE BINDING STONE just for you. Thought you might like to see Taj in action since the next book features him quite prominently. ;D

My hands tremble. Mira has grown silent and remains pressed against the ceiling staring at me. What does she see? Does she see a monster? A murderer? A traitor? 

“I will hold her here.” Taj’s voice in my ear startles me. 


“Yes, I have a lovely butt,” says Taj. “No need to thank me, it looks ever so much fun. Now, go save that handsome master of yours.” 


“Yes, he also has a nice ass. Too nice to get beat to a pulp. Now go.”   Taj’s hands rise toward the ceiling, and I feel the burden lifted from my own. He refuses to make eye contact with me. 

I lean in and kiss him on the cheek.

Monday, October 28, 2013


I'm thrilled to be part of the HAUNTING JOY blog tour today! I was given the opportunity to read an advanced copy of HAUNTING JOY, a novella by the amazing Lena Goldfinch. Not only did I know I loved Lena's writing already, I was excited about a good ghost story before Halloween.

First about the book:

Joy’s new dress has a secret – one with a little supernatural history, one that’s a little more than she expected.

It all starts one ordinary afternoon, as seventeen-year-old Joy tries on some thrift-store clothes her grandmother gave her. The little white dress fits perfectly. Trouble is, now it won’t leave her alone. Soon Joy is swept up in an extraordinary journey to help a ghost complete some unfinished business. If only that didn’t involve Joy driving through dangerous intersections...or calling up her high-school crush, Nick...or getting stuck at a cemetery after dark.

Will Joy accept this ghostly challenge to be "more"? And just how far will she go to uncover the truth?

Light Paranormal Novella

Now, before I tell you what I think I asked the most appropriate *person* I could think of to review the book as well. Please welcome Bertha the ghost.

Bertha: Thank you, Lisa. We prefer the term bodily challenged. Ahem.  Finally I have an opportunity to prove that I'm an intelligent being worth listening to. My opinion counts, people!!

Me: Um, yeah. Of course it does. That's why I asked you here.

Bertha: It's just that it can be difficult being bodily challenged. People seem to assume I'm there to scare them - as if I don't have anything better to do.

Me: Yes, well, Haunting Joy...

Bertha: Of course. I did enjoy the book. I appreciated that the bodily challenged individual wasn't simply a one dimensional stereotype. She had goals, feelings, you know all things that make us human.

Me: *silence* (I'm not going there)

Bertha: It's only too bad we had to hear it from the point of view of a girl blessed with a body. BORING.

Me: Hey! You had a body once too.

Bertha: *eyes turn black* *teeth sharpen into points* *hair floats around head*

Me: Sorry to interrupt. Please continue.

Bertha: That's all.

Me: Thank you, Bertha and good luck.

As for me? I loved it!! It was a fun story, nicely balanced and well written. I give it 5 stars even if it wasn't written from the ghost - er, bodily challenged individual's - point of view.

In honor of the release of Haunting Joy, Lena Goldfinch is giving away a few spooktacular prizes! The giveaway is open internationally, and there will be three winners (randomly drawn) – one winner for each of the prizes listed below:

·         glass heart necklace (like Joy’s!)
·      A signed copy of Haunting Joy (paperback)
·      An e-book copy of Haunting Joy
a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

Lena lives in a scenic small town in Massachusetts with her husband, two kids, and a very spoiled Black Lab. She writes fiction for young adults, mostly light fantasy with a healthy dose of "sigh-worthy" romance. You can visit her online at

You can find Lena at any of the following places:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cover reveal for THE BOY WHO LOVED FIRE

Have I got a special treat for you today!!! My bestie, Julie Musil, has agreed to let me help in her cover reveal today. And OMG is the cover HOT!!! Like scorching. But the best part? The cupcake is as good as the frosting. Um, I mean, the book is amazing. I've read it and can honestly say WOW.

Ready?  Here we go...

Cover reveal for THE BOY WHO LOVED FIRE

Genre: YA contemporary with a splash of ghosts

Manny O’Donnell revels in his status at the top of his high school food chain. He and his friends party in the mountains on a blustery night, sharing liquor and lame ghost stories around a campfire. The next morning, as a wild fire rages in those same mountains, Manny experiences doubt. He was the last of the drunken crew to leave the cave, and he’s uncertain if he extinguished the flames. Within hours, he becomes the number one arson suspect.

Santa Ana winds + matches = disaster. You’d think he would've learned that the first time he started a fire.

As he evades a determined arson investigator, Manny, a modern-day Scrooge, is visited by ghosts of the past, present, and future. He’s forced to witness the fate of his inadvertent victims, including Abigail, the scarred beauty who softens his heart. Manny must choose between turning around his callous, self-centered attitude, or protecting his own skin at the expense of anyone who gets in his way.

Julie Musil, author of YA fiction, is a chocoholic and obsessive reader. As the mother of three teen boys, she’s immersed in teen speak, drama, and gym socks. She loves to chat! Connect with her on her blog, Twitter, or Facebook

Monday, October 21, 2013

Wrestling the Internal Editor - I LET Her Win

I'm going to be doing a series of posts on common writing rules and why I think they are or aren't a good idea. We all know sometimes rules can and should be broken, but you have to understand them first. So leave me a comment (or send me an email) suggesting a rule you'd be interested in hearing my opinion on. I'll start those after Halloween (because I have a spooktacular post for you all next week with a ghost and a review). 

Today's rule is editing as you go. 

I know it's been said many times that you shouldn't edit as you write. The main reason being that you'll never get anywhere if you keep going back to fix what you have. But the truth is - I'm a closet editor. As I go that is. Not to the point that I'm changing the same word fifty times, but I do go back before I'm done. WHY? Why do I choose to break this rule you ask? 

Well, it could be that I'm a badass force to be reckoned with. Ha! No. 

It could be that I'm weak and can't resist the urge. Um, yeah I do have problems with patience, but no. That's not the reason.

It's because sometimes I feel that I can't go forward without fixing things right then if I recognize a problem that will wind its way through my manuscript. It's sort of like building a tower of blocks, knowing that the foundation row is wobbly. If you don't fix it early on, it's only going to get worse. 

So if I realize I'm missing a character for example (yes that's happened before), I go back and thread her through to the point I'm at before I continue. It's an important step in order to go forth with my manuscript. 

What if I'm working on a paragraph and I use a cliche? Ah. That's a bit trickier. It certainly will slow me down to fix the wording and again, most people will say NO. But... if I can challenge myself right then and there to think of a better way to say it? I do it. You know why? Because it makes me feel better about going forward. It's going to have to be done anyhow. 

See, I think that's a rule for beginners. Not to say I'm any better at writing necessarily, but it all depends WHY you're doing what you're doing. If you've never accomplished a finished manuscript you have to make that your first goal. You have to KNOW you can do it. So if you're fixing and messing about in order to avoid having to do what's tough or scary then quit it!!!

But if you're doing what you feel you should in order to build a stronger foundation for the rest and you're fully intending to go forward, go for it. 

That's my two cents about this "rule". What do you think? 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Ten Things That Scare Every Writer

In honor of Halloween (my favorite holiday) I'm giving you a top ten list of the scariest things writers face.

10.  Writer's Block. Some say it exists. Others deny it. Sort of like Bigfoot. But either way we are terrified of it. Don't lose the muse! BIC (Butt in chair) is the best preventative measure I know of.

9.  Sucking. Yup. We are all secretly afraid we're horrible at the thing we love most. Even those of us who are published! Weird aren't we?

8.  Missing the window. We fret, we revise, we practically bleed to get our manuscripts in their best shape. But what if by the time we get it out there no one wants to buy those anymore? Vampires? Dystopians? Eeep. 

7.  Adverbs. The lazy writer's crutch. But do I find them? ALL THE TIME.

6.  Adjectives. Those pesky, useless, lazy, overdone, oh.

5.  Running out of chocolate. Need I say more?

4.  Cliche. Have you described your MC in the first page as waking up or by looking in the mirror? NOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Run! 

3.  The computer crashing. It's frozen on me. Word has quit. And it kind of feels like you're watching your best friend be stabbed by a murderer. Okay maybe that's overkill. Maybe not depending when you last saved. 

2.  Did I mention running out of chocolate? How about coffee? Tea? Wine? I'm panicking just thinking about it.

And the number one thing writer's fear?

1.  REJECTION. In any and all forms. Yet we all deal with this monster at every turn. From critiques to agents, to editors, to acquisition boards, to reviews and sales. But we still hang in there. 


Why do people in horror films keep running into the dark forest? Or the empty house? Because if we didn't there'd be no point. 

What scares you?

Monday, October 7, 2013

My Invisible Friends

So while working on the sequel to THE BINDING STONE I may or may not have had the following conversation with one of the characters:

Me: This is hard. Sometimes I wish I had a little Djinn Magic so I could make it perfect with ease.

Taj: I could fix it for you. Of course then I'd be the hero.

Me: You are the hero in this one. 

Taj: Of course I am. So what's so hard then? Having trouble describing me? How about, Tall, muscular, godlike...

Me: Yeah, um, too many adjectives. Look, I hate to tell you this, but I'm going to have to put you through the proverbial ringer. 

Taj: I doubt your readers will like that. They want to see more interesting things. Things like, me saving the helpless, me outsmarting everyone else, me naked. 

Me: *blanches* Excuse me? This isn't all about you being perfect. 

Taj: Isn't everything? Here. I'll write the book. *shoves me out of chair* *cracks knuckles* 

Me: If you have your way it's going to be a very short and very boring book. 

Taj: Ouch.

Me: Taj I really have to get to work. Isn't there something else you can do?

Taj: Come on. You know you want me to grant you a wish. 

Me: How about a bottomless cup of coffee that never gets cold? 

Taj: That depends. How do you describe me in the book? 

Me: I can see that I need to banish more than my inner editor if I'm going to get this done. 

Do your characters ever bother you? Do they insist on certain things? Do you have trouble torturing them? Don't. Because that's what makes a good book!

Monday, September 30, 2013

New Adult Is What??? A Guest Post By Stina Lindenblatt

I've been hearing a lot lately about NA and I wanted to find out more about what it is and who should write it. So I asked the wonderful NA author and blogging friend, Stina Lindenblatt to clarify for us. Take it away, Stina!

Ever since New Adult contemporary romances exploded on the scene, people have been scrambling for an answer to the question: What is New Adult? Unfortunately, this has led to a lot of misinformation, the most common one being that NA it’s just another name for YA. Or better yet, NA is really YA erotica.

Sorry. Wrong answer.

Many of the contemporary romances do, indeed, have sex in them. But this doesn’t necessarily mean the sex is graphic. Like with YA, it can be nothing more than a fade-to-black scene, where the reader uses her imagination to figure out what happens next. The scenes can also be such that they will leave your mom blushing (or at least mine), but that doesn’t mean the story is erotica.

So what is New Adult then? It’s the time period after high school, when the characters are between 18 to 25 years old. They don’t have to be in college. They can be married. They can be in the military. They can be traveling the world for a year before heading to college. The main thing is it explores that new found independence that comes with adulthood, and from moving away from home for the first time. Many of the “firsts” experienced in this age group are similar to YA, such as having sex for the first time or working part time while at school or falling in love. And like with YA, the happily-ever-after ending (which is only necessary if you write romance) doesn’t need to end in marriage.  

This time period is also when you struggle to figure out who you are, and what you want to do with your life. It’s a time to face new stresses and new joys. And it’s a time to deal with issues that didn’t exist when you were a teen—or the issues now become bigger. Some of the issues are similar to what we find in YA (e.g. alcoholic parent), but the impact on the college-aged character will be different. Now they can escape the home situation, but the situation will continue to haunt them and become part of the story problem, or at least influence how the character deals with the problem.

As with YA, raw emotion is a staple of NA. This is why so many YA writers have found it an easy transition to make. It’s a fun time period to explore, with so many story possibilities.

Have you read any New Adult stories? If so, what do you like about them? If not, what do you remember about this time period of your life?

Stina Lindenblatt @StinaLL writes Young Adult and New Adult novels. In her spare time, she’s a photographer and can be found at her blog/website. She is represented by Marisa Corvisiero, and finds it weird talking about herself in third person. Her debut New Adult contemporary romance, TELL ME WHEN, will be released 2014 (Carina Press, HQN). 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Top Five Things I Learned (or Reaffirmed) at the LA-SCBWI Writer's Retreat

Writers with Macs (there were at least four of us not pictured as well)
1. Writers are great people. So are editors and agents. We are all human and ultimately all strive toward the same goal, so sometimes it's nice to immerse yourself with others who have a like mind. It's quite inspiring. 

2. Revisions are never done. You can always use a new set of eyes as long as you are prepared not to be overwhelmed all at once. We had the same group of four and we met five times with different faculty members. But in between each session we had time to revise and regroup those first pages so that we could be ready for the next round. Great format because it allows you a breather and some stability, while getting a great overview of thoughts and valuable comments. 

3. Writing can overwhelm you. I may have started a pantser, but I'm all about lists. I came back organized with a list of pass throughs I intend to do on my current WIP. I know it's a tough climb (see last weeks post) but I feel prepared for it. 

4. If you give a writer wine, she WILL perform karaoke. 

5. Sometimes we forget that this is an art form. One session was lead by a PB editor (the awesome Allyn Johnston). Despite us having all MG and YA, it was INCREDIBLE. She was able to look/listen to our work and approached it as art. She went not just by rules and such, but by feel and rhythm. I absolutely loved that and it was a great reminder for me that it's okay that sometimes I write something because it sounds or feels "right" or natural to me. 

There was so much to take in and I'm sure far more lessons learned. But fresh from the retreat these are at the top of my list and I wanted to share with all of you. 

Please visit next monday when New Adult author, Stina Lindenblatt visits and gives us the real scoop on NA.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Tackling Revisions

Sometimes when you get those first notes back - and you know perfectly well that you're going to have work to do - it's a little intimidating. Do you ever feel like you're looking at Mount Everest, armed with only gym shoes and a latte from Starbucks? I do.

So the logical answer is to take one step at a time, right? Well, sort of. Yes, that's how you approach it, but you also should probably take the time to sip your latte and go get yourself some appropriate gear before you start climbing. 

What kind of gear would you use for tackling a mountainous revision? Well, here's a checklist we can all add to:

  1. Notes. Gather all your critique notes and organize them into categories. Maybe you realize that Character A has an issue with likability. Make that one category. That can be one step up the mountain when you're ready. Do a pass through looking only for opportunities to fix that. 
  2. Read. It really helps me when I read a good book before I start. That always inspires me and jumpstarts my brain. 
  3. Crash Course. Go back to your favorite craft book or blog post about the areas you seem to be having issues in or that intimidate you the most and study up on it. Then you have some good picks and a bungie cord to catch you if you start to slip.
  4. Time. Make sure you have a plan as far as when you are going to attack this project. You can't just say, "I'll be done by two so I can pick up the kids." Well, you can, but not with the whole thing. Be realistic in other words. If you have fifteen minutes, great! But don't expect more than fifteen minutes worth of work. 
  5. Chocolate, music, coffee, wine, whatever it is you use to get in the zone. Your favorite spot on the couch with your laptop perhaps. 
Good luck climbing that mountain, friends! Maybe I'll run into you on my way up and we can share some chocolate. ;D

Monday, September 9, 2013

How Much Do You Invest In Your Writing?

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”  - Ernest Hemingway

Most of us nod our heads to this, right? We put our time and effort into our work. We write, we learn, we study, we read, we write some more, we revise, we query, we deal with rejection, we start again. Sound familiar? If you're in this business as a lark or to make billions, I have some sad news...

STILL, there's more we can invest in our writing and I'm wondering how far you would go? As in money, moola, smackers, compensation. Well you get the idea. Here's a list of okay and not okay things to spend your money on if you're a writer. Most are serious. ;D But honestly, it's something I've been juggling lately as far as promotion goes, so I know I can't be the only one. Can you add to the list, please? I know it can't be complete.

Oh and one more thing - I'm not saying you HAVE to spend a single penny. I'm only saying it may not be such a bad idea if you're already investing all of your time and effort to consider some possibilities.

Things NOT to spend money on:
  1. Agents who ask for money. This is not how it works. A legitimate agent is difficult to come by, but worth the hard work. If they offer representation it will be because they want to work with you and they get paid by selling your work. Simple as that. 
  2. "Publishers" who ask for money. Same deal. If you self publish, that's different. But if it's a legitimate press they should be the ones to front the costs for the editor, printing, etc. Publicity is a different story. Many authors do not get a publicist, or if they do, they still find themselves doing much of the promotion, but you can always negotiate this in your contract.
  3. Don't quit your day job. I know, this isn't directly spending money, but you're definitely losing it if you do this solely to write. I know plenty of authors who still work and find time to write even with a family. Is it hard? You bet! But if you have to write, you have to write. Just don't forget you also have to eat and sleep somewhere with a roof over your head.

Things you CAN spend money on, but you'll have to prioritize:
  1. Editorial services. Is it necessary? NO. You might just have fantastic critique partners who are enough. You should have them no matter what. Mine are indispensable. But sometimes you're close, so close, but you need a little more help from a new set of eyes. OR sometimes you decide to self publish and then it's an absolute MUST.
  2. Cover design. This is only if you ARE self-publishing. But a cover is very important. I'm in love with mine, but I know my publisher paid for it. It's worth it. 
  3. Contests. I'm debating right now entering a few of these. But each one costs money and it adds up. I think in my case I will swallow the bullet and pick maybe 3 of my faves. I'll probably get some input and do a bit of research first though. Is it a guaranteed win? No. Of course not, but the more eyes on my book and the more possibilities the better.
  4. Conferences and continuing education. I allocate myself several smaller workshops or one larger conference per year. Each one has absolutely been worth it for me. I get so much out of being with other writers and learning craft. I love it. You shouldn't spend this money though if you're expecting to meet someone who will instantly offer you publication. That's not what the networking is about. If you really can't afford it, you can always find online free conferences. There's Writeoncon, which is awesome and I believe there was (and hopefully will be) Indiecon online too. 
  5. Books. You gotta read if you're gonna write. Libraries are good resources though! ;D
What can you add? Oh and to save you a bit of money, we are offering THE BINDING STONE free on Kindle September 9 and 10th!!! So go grab a copy!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Social Media Tip of the Century

Social media giving you a headache? I admit that having published a book I find that promoting said book is darn tricky. I don't want to keep saying, "Hey, buy my book!" because we all know how annoying that is. I have a decent platform through this blog and Twitter. I did the blog tour thing and contests and goodreads and so on. But now what? 

I have to reach my audience. So I also started an FB author page, a Pinterest account (which is sooooo much fun), revived my Tumblr, and have about 7 followers (woohoo!) on Instagram. But how on earth do I manage all these things and know what to post where and when? I have a baby you know, not to mention two other kids and, oh yeah, writing to do. 

My friend, Martina Boone, tipped me off to the most awesome tool for social media I've seen in well, forever. So I want to share with all of you! 

It's called IFTTT. Seriously. Go there now. It's all logic and recipes. You make an account then tell it through these easy peasy recipes to use logic and help you out. Example: If I post to FB, THEN post to Twitter. So I made chains. I wish there were a few more in existence, but now instead of posting to all of the above I can say, post a picture from a website to Pinterest, then IFTTT will take that and post to FB, which will then tell it to post to Twitter and Tumblr. So I do it once, and *poof* it's everywhere! Cool right? You can also turn your recipes on and off if you don't want it to post everywhere. 

I am seriously so excited about this that I had to share with all of you. Did you know about this? 

Monday, August 26, 2013


How do you label an accomplishment? There are the obvious ones: Score a great agent, get a book deal, etc. But there are also smaller milestones. We have to celebrate them all (preferably with chocolate). Of course you already know how amazing it is if you finish writing a book. Not everyone can or has done that (it just feels that way because we all congregate together LOL). 

Since I had my wonderful little angel just over a year ago I've had to rearrange my "hours" a bit. But I didn't stress too much over it because I KNEW I had to write. That I wasn't giving it up. It's so much a part of me that I wouldn't be a whole person without it, and she deserves a whole mom. 

Obviously though I couldn't do the full time thing anymore. X hours of reading, writing, and social media. Something had to give. But how did I decide? And when did I fit it in? 

Sometimes I don't, plain and simple. Sometimes I have to postpone my goal. But I try to make those daily goals small enough that they aren't impossible, that I can make them up fairly quickly if I have to, and most of all that I feel that I've truly accomplished something. 

It can be as small as writing this blog post. Let me give you some more examples of smaller things you can do and count it as a win (some have to do with where you are of course):

  • query an agent you've been researching
  • submit to a small publisher
  • write a thousand words (or some other specific goal in line with your own process).
  • revise a chapter
  • do a critique
  • reply to all your blog comments
All of these things deserve a pat on the back. And the more you do that? The better you feel about your writer self. The only downside? You might end up eating too much chocolate. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

How Important is the Writing Itself?

We talk all the time about character, plot and world. But I was thinking about the last bunch of books I read and wondering about what it was that made the difference for me between LOVE IT and EH. What I realized surprised me. If the writing itself was beautiful and seamless I was able to dive into the story and characters and world so much easier. If there were simple errors that I've been taught I should avoid in my own work, I had a harder time and found myself pulled out and ultimately enjoyed it less. 

Here are just a few tips for things to look for when you revise that might make the difference for your reader:

  • Avoid cliches. Particularly when using comparisons like metaphors. I know it's tough, but time spent thinking of fresh ways to say things really goes a long way.
  • Vary sentence and paragraph structure. Don't start every line with I. Make sure the page is a mix of dialogue and description. It makes a difference!
  • Don't repeat yourself. Find the best, most unique way to say something and trust us to get it. If it's important, spend more time and detail on it than other places. 
  • Lose the helping verbs. Don't be passive. Make everything you can active and in the moment. She had followed the footsteps should be She followed the footsteps. 
  • Search and destroy. Find the words you use too much, locate superfluous adverbs and adjectives and see if they are needed. If there are two or more in one place, pick one. 
Will you miss some things? Heck yeah! You're human and that's why we have other eyes besides our own looking at our work. But we should get our work in it's best form before putting it out there. It's worth the effort. 

What distracts you about writing when you're reading a book?

Monday, August 12, 2013

So Many Blogs So Little Time

So today it's my turn on Scene13! I'd love it if you'd stop by and join the conversation there. *bats eyelashes*

In the meantime I will leave you with some quotes from Oscar Wilde:

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.” 

“It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.” 

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” 

And finally:

“I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.” 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Jan Lewis on Writer's Spreadsheets

Today I am handing control over to the amazing Jan Lewis who most of you probably know from Adventures in Children's and YA Publishing. Take it away, Jan!

When Lisa first asked me to guest post, I jumped at the chance. Then, I was like "uh-oh". I've never done a guest post before and had NO idea what to write about. Then my friend Martina reminded me that I should write what I know. So what do I know? Spreadsheets. I am the spreadsheet queen. I use them for anything and everything. So, today I'm going to share with you a couple of ways that I use spreadsheets.
Photo by CraigMoulding on Flickr
1. Blog Organization The most important way I use spreadsheets is to organize things for Adventures in YA Publishing. As the Scheduling and Contest Coordinator (sounds official, right?), I use spreadsheets on a daily basis to keep myself organized. The blog post schedule has its own spreadsheet with monthly tabs, so when I'm trying to schedule a new author, I can find our availability quickly. I keep the contact info for each scheduled author on the spreadsheet as well, so if I need to send a reminder email, I don't have to go looking through the inbox for it. I also have a spreadsheet where I keep track on Agent contact info and records of past participation for our agent round-up posts and contests. Again, this is way easier for me than weeding through emails, websites, and blog posts to find what I need.

2. Agent Tracking For any aspiring author, a spreadsheet of agent contact info would be an excellent tool for querying. Example column headings could include: Agent, Agency, Genres Accepted, Submission Guidelines, Average Response Time, Date Queried, Response. Or anything else that is relevant to your agent search. You can download the Agent Tracker I created for myself. Here are some great links where you can find info on agents and what they're looking for: QueryTracker Agent Query ConnectLiterary Rambles On my spreadsheet, I also included a "Wishlist" column. There's an interesting Tumblr that pulls Tweets posted by agents with their Manuscript Wish Lists. And of course, you can always check out our Agent Roundup posts on Adventures in YA Publishing for some insight into what agents are looking for: July Agent Roundup May Agent Roundup February Agent Roundup

I hope that you can use these ideas to make your writing life simpler and more organized. I'll be posting more spreadsheet ideas on Adventures in YA Publishing in the next few months, so be sure to keep an eye out! If you have any questions, please ask in the comments, and I will definitely answer to the best of my ability. Or if you have a use for spreadsheets that I didn't mention, please tell us about it. I'm always looking for new ways to use them!

Bio: Jan Lewis is the Scheduling and Contest Coordinator at Adventures in YA Publishing. She writes YA fantasy of the contemporary and traditional varieties. Instead of unpublished, she prefers to call herself pre-published. While she enjoys drafting, her heart is truly in rewriting and editing. In the past, she may or may not have been called a "Grammar Nazi." She loves spreadsheets, ladybugs, fairies, blue roses, cats, musical theater, and pretty much all things geek. She lives in Oklahoma with a husband, two kids, two cats, a dog, and a mother. You can find Jan on Twitter at @janlewis77.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Character Interview With Kita from SONGSTONE by Lena Goldfinch

Stay tuned after the interview for contest and book info!! I LOVED THIS ONE, GUYS!! And isn't the cover gorgeous??

Hi, Lisa! Lena here. Thanks so much for having Kita on your blog. I'm just a little bit nervous about what she'll say, but I'm so glad you invited us here! :)

Kita, Tell my readers a little about yourself and what makes you special.

I was found as a baby crawling in the forest by a village girl named Noni. No one knows where I came from or who I am, but they all say I must be Huwi. They all fear me just a little, for the Huwi are a mysterious tribe with pale skin and blood red hair. Like mine. They live in the trees of the smoking mountain, among the ancient island spirits. They protect the sacred places. And they can turn to mist.

Don’t look into their eyes, mothers whisper to small children, or they’ll steal you.
They look at me and shiver. I'm sure they think I'm about to do something awful to one of them. I'm not sure why. It's not as if I have any special powers. For one thing, if I'm supposed to be Huwi, why can't I turn into mist? I suppose I can meld song into stone, and only a few can do that...but that's not really a mystical power. It just is. It's as natural as breathing. How else would we share our stories with the generations to come? 
I don't dare tell my master my secret though. As it is, he steals drops of my blood to perform his terrible black magic. How I hate him. He's such an evil, vindictive man, who punishes his enemies for the smallest offenses. What if he found a way to use my gift for evil, to capture a spell in the heart of the stone? I'm not sure how he'd do it, but I don't ever want to find out.
What are your favorite three things about the island you live on?

1. I love the sound of the island breathing: the sound of waves surging to shore and the sigh they make as they return to the sea. It's a beautiful place, and it's also a deadly place. That's something I deeply respect and admire.

2. I love sea turtles. I love how they loll the waves and bob gently up and down. Noni used to take me to watch the sea turtles when I was little, because she knew I loved them....
I think life for a sea turtle must be very simple. A sea turtle doesnt have to worry about magic or wickedly sharp bird bones, or losing drops of her blood—or any of that. Besides that, they're simply beautiful and just looking at one can make you feel better. 
3. Lastly, I love trees (even though that only confirms to the villagers that I belong in the deep forests, beyond the green belt of Mount Tul, where the mysterious Huwi live). I especially love kala trees and dream of someday having a hut in the kala trees near the sea.

* Of course, everyone loves Pono, don't they? It's more than annoying how, in one day, he can win the whole village with one of his silly smiles. It's even more annoying that I find myself watching him when no one else is looking. But I don't really want to talk about that. I barely know you, after all.

If you could change three things about your life, what would they be?

I can't imagine changing three things about my life. All my energy is spent wishing for one thing and one thing only: I want to be free--to escape from my evil master, Matiko. I want him gone forever. I wish he were dead. 

I suppose that is three things, isn't it?

What I can barely admit to myself is how much I long to know who I am and where I belong. I want family, friends, and love. I hope this isn't too much to wish for, but I fear it is. If there is anyway that I could have it all, well, I suppose I'd be willing to give up just about anything for that.

Enter below for some really AWESOME stuff! The giveaway is open internationally, and one winner (randomly drawn) will receive:

·      A signed copy of Songstone (Paperback)
·      A sea glass necklace with turtle charm 
·      A $10 Dairy Queen gift card (U.S.) or a $10 gift card (international)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Book 

Kita can meld song into stone. In a world with no written word, storytelling—the ability to meld (or magically impress) song into stone—is greatly honored. The village honors her master as their medicine man, but Kita knows he's secretly a sorcerer who practices black magic using drops of her blood. She fears he’ll use her beautiful gift for a killing spell, so she conceals it from him. Each day, his magic tightens around her neck like a rope. His spells blind the villagers, so they can’t see him for what he really is.

Not that anyone would want to help her. She was found in the forest as a baby and would have died if a village girl hadn't brought her home. But the villagers saw Kita's unusual coloring and decided she belonged to the mysterious tribe who lives in the forests of the volcano, a people feared for their mystical powers. So they fear her too. Now seventeen, she can barely admit her deepest longing: to know who she really is and where she belongs.

Then Pono, a young journeyman, arrives from the other side of the island. He's come to fulfill a pact between their villages: to escort a storyteller back to his village—a storyteller who'll be chosen at the great assembly. Finally, in Pono, Kita sees her one slim chance at freedom and she'll risk her life to take it.

A dark, twisty tale of sorcery, tummy-tingling romance, and adventure, inspired by the folklore of New Zealand's Māori people.

About the Author

Lena lives in a scenic small town in Massachusetts with her husband, two kids, and a very spoiled Black Lab. She writes fiction for young adults, mostly light fantasy with a healthy dose of "sigh-worthy" romance. You can visit her online at

Author’s Links