Thursday, March 31, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
In "real life" I work as a grant writer. At first glance there's not much that's similar between this type of writing and my fiction. Or even my nonfiction. But it HAS helped my writing.
2. Show don't tell. Even with a grant, it's important to show the reader why it's important that you receive the grant money. I usually show this by using metrics and outcomes. You can't just say "because I said so." Just as with fiction, show the reader. Make him or her believe.
3. Be brief. Don't use a page to say what you can say in a paragraph--unless you really have to. You have to engage the reader, and then keep her engaged.
4. Proofread. Do I have to say more?
5. Know your audience.This is important. If you're audience is 13-year-old girls, your language is different than if it's middle-aged suits.
6. **Update! Research -- Tracy made a great point in the comments about research so I wanted to add that to the list. It's important for fiction as well as nonfiction...and grant writing.
Amazing to me that there are any similarities in these types of writing. On the surface they feel soooo different. Thoughts? Other theories?
Monday, March 28, 2011
A month ago I went from being an EXPERT Non-Agented Author, to REALLY NEWBIE Agented Author. I'm the same person. My expertise is the same. My experience as a writer is still evolving. The difference between one month ago and today is I'm Agented.
Does the writing community look at me differently?
I've been asking myself that question. To me, it means I've pulled myself up to the next level. But there are responsibilities that go with that, I think.
I've updated the look of my blog. Got rid of a bunch of extraneous stuff to make it look cleaner. I hope it looks more professional. I'm trying to post as many days of the week as I can. I'm struggling to look cool on twitter just in case anyone is looking. Not that I didn't do that before, it's just that now people might be looking.
As a newly agented author, what are my responsibilities to the writing world? I'd like to pay it forward like others before me have. I'd like to WOW you all with my wisdom. But...is it valuable? Do I even have anything WOW-worthy?
What do you look for in a writing blog?
Comic used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl.com
Friday, March 25, 2011
Quick, my four favorite songs:
1. Sister Golden Hair by America
2. September by Daughtry
3. Hard to Say I'm Sorry by Chicago
4. Separate Ways by Journey
What's your favorite? Mine change all the time, but these are four sort of classic faves.
Right now I'm listening to a lot of Daughtry, Lifehouse, and Vertical Horizon.
Posted by Kristine Asselin at 10:38 AM
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Shy, studious Persephone Leland would far rather devote herself to her secret magic studies than enter society and look for a suitable husband. But right as the inevitable season for "coming out" is about to begin, Persy and her twin sister discover that their governess in magic has been kidnapped as part of a plot to gain control of the soon-to-be Queen Victoria. Racing through Mayfair ballrooms and royal palaces, the sisters overcome bad millinery, shady royal spinsters, and a mysterious Irish wizard. And along the way, Persy learns that husband hunting isn’t such an odious task after all, if you can find the right quarry.
I met Marissa Doyle a couple of weeks ago at a writer's social. She's also an administrator at Verla Kay's Blueboard. She's generous with her time on the boards, and a lovely person In Real Life. I always really like reading books written by people I've met--And I was excited to read BEWITCHING SEASON.
I really liked BEWITCHING SEASON. It's a lovely combination of YA historical fiction (I loved reading about the Victorian era London aristocracy) and magic. I loved the ending and I don't think it's giving too much away to say--little brothers and handsome childhood friends ROCK.
If you like historical fiction and a little magic, you'll love BEWITCHING SEASON. I haven't read the sequel yet, but I can't wait to get it! Marissa's website.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Now I know I've made it to the big times.
Thank you to Casey McCormick for inviting me to guest blog on Literary Rambles today.
AND, Cambria Dillon interviewed me for her blog, here. Win query critiques and signed books during Cambria's celebration week!
Thanks to both Casey and Cam for having me today. I've got to go pinch myself....
Posted by Kristine Asselin at 7:00 AM
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
My 8-year-old is the consummate perfectionist--with all the intensity and anxiety that comes along with it. She struggles with making the first effort at anything perfect, even though I constantly try to explain that NOONE gets it right the first time.
She's been making paper cranes lately. And the most recent ones are coming out well. Countless have ended up ripped to shreds, recycled, lost at the bottom of the bin.
As writers, it's often frustrating that words don't just flow onto the page. I'm a writer, right? The words should just be there. Perfect. The. First. Time.
Five years after I started it, I'm finally feeling like maybe my novel is close to being publishable. Of course, I didn't start is as a novel, so I'm hoping my next effort doesn't take quite so long. But when I think of all the words that ended up on the cutting room floor, I cringe. Thank goodness I didn't give up.
Don't give up. Keep practicing. Eventually, it gets easier. And the cranes start looking like cranes.
Monday, March 21, 2011
I'd like to welcome my agent-sister Cambia Dillon to the blog today-- go follow her right now. I'll wait.
Cambria is celebrating having signed with our wonderful agent Vickie Motter of Andrea Hurst Literary Management and officially submitting her manuscript to editors. She's running a fabulous contest this week on her blog--win query critiques, first five page critiques, signed books, and agent critiques. She was also kind enough to take time out of her busy week to answer a few questions for me.
CD: My mom will say she remembers taking me to an Amway convention when I was younger, around seven or so, and would let me stay in the car because all I wanted to do was write "furious stories about ghosts and magical trains." I don’t remember this at all. And I’m more than a little troubled that my mom would leave her seven-year-old daughter in the car while she was at a convention! But I do remember a cross-country trip I took with my parents where I did nothing but write from D.C. to Spokane, WA. So it’s safe to say I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember…however, I didn’t start writing toward publication until April 2009, a few months after I had my first daughter.
CD: My current WIP is another contemporary YA (still in the first draft phase) but it’s more of a ‘trial of love’ story — following two teens who question their place in each other’s lives when what they thought they knew, comes into question. It’s told in dual perspectives and I did A LOT of research at the end of last year just so I could get to a point where I would feel comfortable enough writing it. There are some twists I'm really excited about…but that’s all I’m gonna say!
CD: YES! I'm surprised by how quickly things seem to be moving right now! I did a few rounds of edits for Vickie and it really seems like it was only last week when she offered to represent me. For as slow as the publishing industry moves, these last five weeks have FLOWN by.
CD: The news. Photographs of random people and places on Flickr or DeviantArt. Music. Advertisements on the sides of buses. Snippets of overhead conversations. The beauty of a child's brutal honesty. All of these things inspire me to some extent.
CD: I wish! I work full-time at a software company and I have a husband who competes in triathlons and ultra-marathons, and a daughter who'll be three in September. It's never quiet in our house! Someone once told me that the "Terrible Twos" are nothing…year three is the one to watch out for because by then, she'll be two years old with one year of experience. I can't tell you how terrified I am about that!
CD: My biggest challenge is that I'm a natural pantser but I TOTALLY want to be a plotter. Like, a real one. With spreadsheets and whiteboards and character bibles and flowcharts. So sometimes I start off in one direction, and then as I start to think more about the plot and what needs to happen, I realize my original idea isn't going to cut it without some major reworking. Feeling like I wasted my time by not producing something tangible on the page is a bit of a mindtrip for me and something I still struggle with.
CD: I'm such a sucker for a good contemporary YA. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson is on my fave reading shelf. So is Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott, even though it's still probably the most haunting book I've ever read. Also, Stolen by Lucy Christopher is lush and beautiful and engaging. And anything by Laurie Halse Anderson or Courtney Summers. They're both big reason why I even write contemporary YA. For non-contemporary books, I'm a HUGE sucker for The Hunger Games trilogy – I mean, who isn't, right? But I'm proud to say I actually convinced my non-fiction-only husband to read the whole series and he loved it too—a true testament to an evergreen story.
CD: Sour Patch Watermelons! New office supplies. Google Reader. Words with Friends (iPhone edition). Talent-themed reality TV (American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, Project Runway, etc…). Buying something I like in multiples. Going to Sephora and splurging on lip glosses I don't need. And now that my daughter has just enough hair to pull back in a half-ponytail, I've taken to buying elastic holders in every color, flower, jewel-bob-thingie they come in!
Friday, March 18, 2011
Location is important when you're buying a house. It's also important to consider when you're thinking about schools for your kids or when you're parking your car. You might also consider location when you're determining if the drive to the grocery store brings you past Starbucks.
As a writer, I have many locations for writing. Dining room table. Library cubicle. Borders cafe (well, not anymore, my local Borders closed), Panera, Starbucks, Community Center where my offspring takes art class. I've even been known to take notes in the car (but not while driving, of course).
I've never really considered how these locations change my state of mind. Does library work better for nonfiction? Does Starbucks influence the energy level of my MC? I'm more easily distracted at home. But I can also get my best work done there.
I'm likely to see acquaintances at the library--but sometimes that's just what my brain needs.
How does location impact your writing?
Check back on Monday for an interview with YA author Cambria Dillon. Read about her good news and contest here.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Tara over at the Bodacious Pen inspired this post today.
A year ago I realized that certain songs really got under my skin and reminded me of my novel. None of them are really truly love songs...most are sort of angsty getting-to-love songs. For most of my book my MC Kate and her crush sort of dance around their feelings. And they almost miss each other.
I started pulling songs into a folder called "Kate's Songs" on my iTunes. Look for my list on the right sidebar.
In particular, FIRST TIME by Lifehouse fits my characters perfectly. Enjoy! And, okay, I'm old enough to be his ever-so-slightly-older cousin, by isn't Jason Wade adorable?
Posted by Kristine Asselin at 9:43 AM
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
My YA novel, THE SWEET SPOT, is a realistic contemporary sports novel combining competitive junior golf with a touch of romance. I am hoping it will appeal to your love of sports and interest in young adult fiction.
Fifteen-year old Kate Anderson wants two things this summer: to play in the Massachusetts Junior State Championship and to turn Scott Turner from her best friend into her boyfriend. As one of the only girls playing competitively, making the cut for the championship won’t be easy. But if she does, the publicity might be enough to get her parents’ failing golf course back on its feet. Unfortunately, golf is a game of focus, and Kate has a hard time tuning out the distractions. Her number one distraction? Scott Turner.During a tournament early in the season, a sudden downpour leaves her t-shirt soaked and Kate exposed in front of Justin Foley and his leering posse. Like a knight in tan khakis, Scott gives her the shirt off his back and she’s able to finish the match, modesty intact. Angry at them for embarrassing him the same afternoon, Justin threatens revenge. Confidence soaring, Kate starts to find her stride regardless of Justin Foley and his threats. When two British exchange students start working for her dad, Kate is positive they’ll finally have the manpower to get the golf course ready to host the championship qualifier. But, days before the tournament, two of the greens are hit by vandals and “the smoking blowtorch” is found in Scott’s backseat.If the championship committee relocates the qualifier to another golf course, Kate loses her home-course advantage and Willow Bend loses its chance to host. If Scott isn’t cleared of the vandalism, he stands to lose a lot more. Kate is sure that Justin Foley is the vandal; she just needs to prove it. And then prove to Scott that they belong together.
The Knight in Tan Khakis, a short story excerpt of THE SWEET SPOT, was published in Golfer Girl Magazine in December 2008. In addition, my middle grade non-fiction Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn: All About the Earth Signs for Capstone Press was released in January 2010. I have recently completed two additional non-fiction titles for Capstone scheduled for release sometime in 2011.Throughout my teen years, my parents owned a golf course in central Massachusetts. Though not a memoir, this novel is loosely based on my experiences playing a lot of golf with boys as a teenager.THE SWEET SPOT is complete at 68K words. I’ve included the first five pages at the bottom of this email. Would you be interested in seeing the full manuscript?
With the family golf course on the verge of bankruptcy, Kate needs to be the first girl to win the Junior State Championship to draw the crowds back, but her plans are derailed when her best friend and crush is accused of vandalizing the course with a blowtorch.
For fifteen-year-old Kate, being the first girl to win the Junior State Championship means more than bragging rights or a college scholarship. The gigantic media blitz that comes with it might draw the crowds back to her family’s almost-bankrupt golf course. But golf is a game of focus and Kate’s distractions are mounting by the day: the hotshot bully; a pair of Brits her dad hires for the summer; and the sweetest distraction of all, her best friend Scott.
When vandals torch part of the golf course and the cops find the “smoking blowtorch” in Scott’s car, it rocks Kate’s world—first Scott withdraws from her and then she finds out the family might lose the prestige of hosting a major tournament. She suspects her friends, stakes out the bad guy, and gets her hands dirty for the first time in her life to prove Scott’s innocence and guarantee the course is repaired in time. Maybe then Kate can tune out the distractions and prove she can play to win.
Though not a memoir, THE SWEET SPOT is inspired by my experience growing up on my family's golf course in central Massachusetts. It wasn't always easy being the only girl playing golf competitively in the area, but it was fun!
The Knight in Tan Khakis, a short story excerpt of THE SWEET SPOT, was published in Golfer Girl Magazine in December 2008. My elementary non-fiction TAURUS, VIRGO & CAPRICORN: ALL ABOUT THE EARTH SIGNS for Capstone Press was released in January 2010. OUR SUN, STARS, and WHO REALLY DISCOVERED AMERICA with Capstone were all published in January 2011. I have completed two additional titles for their fall 2011 catalog.THE SWEET SPOT is a contemporary YA novel complete at 68K words and available for your immediate review should you be interested. This is a simultaneous submission. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Thanks to everyone who joined my agent party last week! I'm going to print out all the recipes and try to work through them--check them out here. I drew the winners late Monday night using random.org--kind of cool that all the winners are new followers! Without further ado, they are:
Winner of the Query Critique from Vickie Motter--Girl Friday
Winner of the first page critique by Laura Pauling--Tana Adams
Winner of the first page critique by me--Sophia the Writer
Winner of WHO REALLY DISCOVERED AMERICA--Caryn
I will contact the winners with instructions! Thanks to all who participated! This was the best blog party ever! We'll have another one when the books sells... :)
Monday, March 14, 2011
I can't actually juggle. I've always envied people who could have three balls in the air at the same time. I'm not even all that good juggling on Wii Fit.
But juggling projects? I'm not half-bad.
I have control over my fiction deadline--so I'm trying to stagger my workload to work on fiction one week, non-fiction the next. So I don't switch gears too quickly and hurt my brain. It will also allow me to let the fiction revisions "rest" while I work on nonfiction.
How do you juggle more than one project?
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Cambria Dillon--new friend and agent-sister--awarded me this lovely blog-bling last week. It's taken me a few days to accept it, but thank you Cambria! If only she knew that I am so not stylish. No one tell her, okay?
So part of the rules of accepting the award is to share seven things about myself. Yikes. Why does it always take so much thought to think of interesting things about myself? Here goes:
1. In my previous life (i.e., before kids) I was Director of Student Activities at Brandeis University.
2. I once drove through Las Vegas only stopping at a McDonald's restroom.
3. I love Disney World.
4. I've only had a smart phone for three months, but I don't know how I lived without it.
5. I've seen America (the classic rock band famous for SISTER GOLDEN HAIR) in concert over 20 times.
6. During a concert I coordinated as an intern, Meatloaf (yes, the Meatloaf) shouted "F*** You" to me from the stage in a crowded field house.
7. I'm a Girl Scout volunteer and have a troop of 12 Brownies who I adore working with.
So NOT stylish--but hopefully you've learned something about me today. :) Here are my recipients for the award.
Carolina Valdez Miller
Krista Van Dolzer
You've all had some impact on me this week as I've started my agent revisions--either by helping me get the word out, having a great blog for writers, sharing an enthusiastic congrats, or just being plain nice.
Here are the rules:
1: Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award.
2: Share seven things about yourself.
3: Award ten recently discovered great bloggers (except I only listed eight because my brain quit on me!)
4: Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.
Thanks again to Cambria. I hope everyone is having a great Sunday!
Posted by Kristine Asselin at 8:11 AM
Friday, March 11, 2011
Check out my guest blog post on Backspace about my recent picture book sale!
Thanks to my friend Amy Sue Nathan for inviting me!
Posted by Kristine Asselin at 7:03 AM
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Update: Here's a link to Margie Lawson's blog.
Monday, March 7, 2011
I'm going to milk this new agent high for as long as I can.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Check back on Monday for a party!! Get your recipes ready! Psst...There might be an agent query critique up for grabs, as well as other cool prizes!
Thursday, March 3, 2011
My first official school visits were yesterday. I mean, I've been in school reading my stories. I've visited my daughter's class with my books. But yesterday, I had three formal presentations to the entire 2nd grade in my home town. Topic: writing nonfiction.
I was nervous! I've presented to an auditorium full of first year college students and their parents, and a room full of 2nd graders made me nervous. But it was great. They were good listeners. They had good questions. And some of them have taken out my books from the library--that was cool.
Best comment from a little boy, "No offense, but John Lance was here yesterday and HE started writing in the 3rd grade." This is all the funnier because I'm friendly with the Lance family, and John is fellow local author.
Things I learned:
1. Go to the bathroom before they walk in the room.
2. Have a bottle of water ready--cause your throat will dry up.
3. Be ready for ANY question (i.e., talking about my book WHO REALLY DISCOVERED AMERICA, one child asked "what about Adam and Eve?" Someone else asked "How old are you?")
4. Be ready to fill in silence...with a question to them, some interesting thing about yourself, reading a bit from your book.
I had made myself an outline so I had a loose idea of what I to say, but I wanted to give them a chance to ask questions. Next time I think I'll be a bit more formal. Powerpoint? Notecards? I strayed from my outline a bit. But they didn't seem to notice. :)
Next month, third grade.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
I am proud to announce that I am now represented by the fabulous Vickie Motter of Andrea Hurst Literary Management. She has a great blog for writers here.
I am so excited to be working with Vickie. I'm still pinching myself to see if this is real. (It is!)
I'll be posting a longer, more coherent post with the details of how it happened and more about my book and the query that attracted Vickie. But I want to scream it from the rafters, and posting it on my blog is the next best thing.
I'm a writer. A writer with a literary agent. Oh. My. Goodness.
I'm in a particularly good mood today and wanted to share this link (thanks to my sister for sending it to me!):
The Happiness Project
It talks about what makes us happy. Friends, family, good works. Feelings of accomplishment. A good book.
What are your happiness triggers?
Posted by Kristine Asselin at 10:11 AM