Welcome! Please sit down, make yourself comfortable, and have a brownie or three...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Robert Frost Farewell

Thanks to all who entered, and congratulations to Beth, who won my giveaway for The Heroine's Bookshelf!

This is my last post of the year. I'm off to Austin, Texas for family time.

I thought I'd leave you with one of my favorite poems by Robert Frost. I had to recite it in front of my 3rd grade class, and Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening has been firmly entrenched in my memory ever since. I've always found it simple, magical, and deliciously full of Winter.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
See you in January!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Book Gifts, Part 2 (and my first GIVEAWAY!)

Books are one of the best gifts to give during the holidays, and today I'm suggesting a few that might pique the interest of specific people in your life. If you want to get straight to the giveaway details, scroll to the bottom.

FOR YOUNG ADULTS: The Resurrection of Magic Series, Kathleen Duey
I discovered this series this year, and was blown away by how much I loved the story. Don't be thrown by the rather creepy-looking covers (and by that, I don't mean they aren't attractive in their own way, I just mean the images might not appeal to your four-year-old), these are beautiful novels that cleverly intertwine two storylines, bringing the past and present together in a world where magic is being shunned and rediscovered. In Duey's world, magicians are not cute, cuddly, and would not get along with Harry Potter or Albus Dumbledore. The apprentices are tested, abused, and tested again. According to Duey's blog, she hopes to finish writing the 3rd installment in February 2011. Her website is pretty darn cool--click HERE.

Avec Eric: A Culinary Journey with Eric Ripert (I love him...can't help it). Click HERE

A Feast of Words: For Lovers of Food Fiction, Anna Shapiro. Click HERE

The Love Goddess' Cooking School, Melissa Senate. Click the book.

For this group, I'm going to defer to Terry Lynn Johnson's blog (author of Dogsled Dreams--she's giving away a signed copy on her blog!), resident outdoorsy lady and dog aficionado. Here's her great post on CELEBRATING DOG BOOKS.
FOR WOMEN (or guys who want to buy a meaningful gift for their friend/girlfriend/spouse who loves to read):
The Heroine's Bookshelf: Life Lessons from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder

I saw this a few months ago and immediately bought copies to give my special group of girlfriends as Christmas gifts. It looks to the characters and authors of women's fiction for inspiration, humor, and heart.
THIS BOOK IS MY GIVEAWAY! If you'd like to win The Heroine's Bookshelf, please leave a comment on this post by midnight on Sunday, December 19. If your account isn't attached to an email address, leave me that too. I'll pick a random winner and ship the book on Monday morning.
**UPDATE: All entrants were assigned a number. The Random Number Generator (a handy contest tool- Click HERE) came up with a winner- Beth!!! Congrats to her, and thanks to everyone who entered :)
Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

For The Kids In Your Life (or the kid in you!)

My two posts this week will be dedicated to holiday gift ideas. Today is for kids (Friday will be for YA/adults), so I’m going to share my favorite Christmas story and an amazing series that might just get a reluctant reader on the book bandwagon.

The first suggestion is my absolute favorite Christmas book~ I made sure I had a fresh copy of it for my youngest kiddo, who was born only a few days after Christmas. I tried drinking tons of eggnog to get her to come out on December 25, but it didn’t work (*note to expecting ladies~ remember to drink the pregnancy-safe eggnog). Anyway, I adore this story and I’m slightly obsessed with Barbara Cooney’s illustrations. If you’re looking to add a holiday book to your family’s collection, this is a MUST-HAVE:

The Story of Holly & Ivy
by Rumer Godden & Barbara Cooney (*Click on the book for details)


For the Reluctant Reader:

Equally great for avid readers and kids who just don't seem to like books, try the hilarious (and educational…shhh!) You Wouldn’t Want To series. The books are actually used in primary school classrooms in the UK, and are definite crowd-pleasers.

The authors change, but the illustrations are always by the delightful David Antram. They blend historical fact with a fictional narrative, and can be blunt and a little gruesome...aka, they have an aura of the forbidden about them, which is something a lot of kids count as a plus.

These have been around for awhile, but I recently bought a stack of them to keep around the house. The covers alone are so compelling that my twelve-year-old (a sports-fanatic who lives by the credo, "this-activity-better-have-movement-or-I'm-outta-here") couldn't leave them alone. His favorites are You Wouldn't Want to Meet a Body Snatcher! and You Wouldn't Want to Be a Pirate's Prisoner!

Here are a few more titles:

NEXT UP: On Friday I’ll have suggestions for YA, Foodies, Animal Lovers, and Women. I’ll also have my first giveaway, and will ship one winner a book in time for X-Mas!


Friday, December 10, 2010

YA Genre Battle- Dystopian vs. Historical

During the Baker’s Dozen Agent Auction (hosted by MSFV) on Tuesday, there was serious fighting over a couple of YA Historical manuscripts. Agents were pouncing on one in particular, leaving comments of disappointment if they didn’t win it. With Scholastic coming out with its list of 10 Trends for MG/YA in 2010, it got me wondering…are historicals the future of YA?

Dystopian was firmly on the trend list, as it should be. That said, when the future fizzles out (and sadly, most trends must come to an end, or at least take a healthy break—R.I.P. vampires,werewolves, angels, demons,etc.), who will be there to pick up the pieces? Could YA novels in historical settings become more popular?

Steampunk is already bringing a little bit of old-world style back into vogue, albeit with some pretty cool alterations that may slip into the fantasy realm. Will settings, plots, and characters backed by historical fact be the next big thing? I want to be clear about saying BACKED by historical fact, because we're still talking about historical fiction here, not nonfiction.

It's tough to say whether historicals are going to take over (especially with all the melding of genres going on), and I think Dystopian still has a good amount of gas left in its tank. Check out this awesome entry from the Auction—it’s for a Dystopian novel about ZOMBIE GLADIATORS—sweet.

In terms of YA genres, who would win in the battle ring—a Roman gladiator or Katniss Everdeen?

In honor of my inability to choose between past and future, I declare my winner to be a new sub-genre called (drumroll please):

YA Historical Dystopian Timetravel

Think about it…a young gladiator in ancient Rome is suddenly thrust into a black hole that drops him where? The Hunger Games, of course. Then, through a series of timetravel mishaps, the protagonist manages to save himself in the angst/danger-ridden past thereby saving all of humanity in the even more angst/danger-ridden future. Any takers?

Okay, maybe not.

Anyone have an opinion about historicals being on future trend lists?

Have a great weekend!

**The agent pitch contest on Market My Words runs until midnight tonight--don't forget to follow Shelli's blog to be eligible!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Digging Deeper To Find The Right Agent: A Level Four Research Tool

I’m sure most of you have a method of researching agents that you’d like to query. Here’s mine:

Level One: Use Query Tracker and Agent Query to compile a fat list of agents who represent my genre/genres (I dabble in Middle Grade and Young Adult).

Level Two: Go to agency websites and also Google for individual agent blogs. Check again for interest in genre, present clients, and current wish lists.

Level Three: Scour the internet for interviews and go to their agency’s thread over at the Absolute Write website (awesome resource, by the way--you need to sign up to use the Search option, but it's free). Follow their Twitter account. Check to see if they’re listed on Casey McCormick’s blog, Literary Rambles (she's got TONS of background information about children's agents).

Level Four: Reading over past Miss Snark Secret Agent Contests. This is something I’ve been doing recently, and it only works for a limited list of agents. Miss Snark’s First Victim (hosted by the incredible and anonymous Authoress) holds Secret Agent contests almost every month, and it’s a wonderful way to really see what an agent’s tastes are. You can read an agent’s comments on all twenty-or-so entries, and then see who they choose as their winners.

This has been extremely enlightening for me, because I can see who leans more towards humor, who leans more toward descriptive/lyrical language, etc. They occasionally make comments about what turns them off, what’s not working for them, and what they do/don’t like to see in dialogue.

I’ve made it into this contest once, and while the critiques I got pretty much said that my excerpt wasn’t the best crayon in the box (which it definitely wasn’t—I really appreciated every person who took the time to comment), I realized that I could learn a lot by reading the agent’s comments about all the entries, not just mine. These are things you can’t learn in a blog interview. The fact that you can look at specific examples is fantastic.

If you go to her website and scroll down on the right, you’ll see the list of participating agents. Then you’ll need to look through the archives to find the right posts. Below is a list of agents who’ve participated. Many of them represent Middle Grade and Young Adult, and are open to queries.

MSFV Secret Agent "Hall of Fame"
• Holly Root (July, 2008)
• Barbara Poelle (September, 2008)
• Michelle Brower (October, 2008)
• Colleen Lindsay (November, 2008)
• Sarah Davies (January, 2009)
• Kristin Nelson (February, 2009)
• Josh Getzler (March, 2009)
• Kate Schafer Testerman (April, 2009)
• Jenny Rappaport (May, 2009)
• Lauren MacLeod (July, 2009)
• Emmanuelle Alspaugh Morgen (August, 2009)
• Ginger Clark (September, 2009)
• Rachelle Gardner (October, 2009)
• Laura Bradford (November, 2009)
• Ammi-Joan Paquette (January, 2010)
• Nathan Bransford (February, 2010)
• Joanna Stampfel-Volpe (March, 2010)
• Jennifer Laughran (April, 2010)
• Kathleen Ortiz (May, 2010)
• Danielle Chiotti (July, 2010)
• Cameron McClure (August, 2010)
• Suzie Townsend (September, 2010)
• Michelle Wolfson (October, 2010)
• Weronika Janczuk (November, 2010)

Feel free to email me if you’re confused about how to access the entries they chose as winners and the comments (warning: it involves a healthy amount of clicking).

**Note—the Secret Agent contests are always open to public critique, and if you’re going to use them for research, it would be a nice thing to critique some entries in next year’s S.A. contests (and feel free to enter them too!).

**Extra note: Authoress has added a Donate button to her website. She does a lot for the writing community, so if you participate in contests/use her website, it would be a nice thing to contribute.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Spirit of Giving~ Jackee Alston's Book and School Supply Giveaway

Project Give a Book, Give the World is blogger Jackee Alston's answer to how to give back this holiday season. In honor of her 200th post, she is proposing something simple and generous:

Give a book to someone, anyone (and this includes your own children!), and she'll send a Humanitarian School Kit to a child in need. The kits will look like the above photo.

If you have a spare moment, please take a look at this post on her lovely blog, Winded Words. With each donation of a book, you'll also accumulate points and be entered for a giveway that includes FARM GIRL (by the awesome Karen Jones Gowen, otherwise known as Karen G) and NIGHTSHADE CITY (by the super cool Hilary Wagner).

Again, please head over there and take a tissue~ the powerful story of what motivated Jackee to do this is a tearjerker.