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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A NORTHERN LIGHT by Jennifer Donnelly

Check out my Afterglow Book Review of A NORTHERN LIGHT by Jennifer Donnelly.

(I loved it!)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Book Clubs for Kids

I'm a proud mama. Yesterday, my almost-third-grader said "You know what, Mom? I'd like to have a book club with my friends."

Of course the next words out of her mouth were, "But if we meet at someone else's house, can you just drop me off?" (What's up with that? Am I suddenly not cool enough to hang out? Hmm, must work on  that.)

LOL. Anyway, we're undertaking an experimental book club this summer with a few friends. Not sure how it's going to work yet, but two of the books being thrown around are ANY WHICH WALL by Laurel Snyder (which my daughter is devouring right now and the book that precipitated the outburst) and MARTY McGUIRE by Kate Messner. Two of my favorite children's authors--not that I had any input at all!

So exciting to see her love reading and want to share it!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Armchair BEA - The End, My Friend

For the briefest of moments, I fantasized about going to BEA. But there was no way it was going to happen. So when I came across the site for Armchair BEA, I jumped on it without hesitation. It was so much fun participating in the Twitter Party, checking out other blogs, and watching author video on the Armchair BEA homesite.

I think my favorite part was the Twitter Party! The feed rocked by very fast, but it was so much fun to see the answers to the moderator's questions. And get to know people a bit.


Thanks to the Armchair BEA team, and all the participants this year!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Armchair BEA - Blogging about Blogging

Why do I blog? I started because I wanted to record my journey. Then I wanted to connect with other writers. Being able to blog about books and writing has been an unexpected joy. I love reading comments from others, and sharing our love of books.

Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl.com.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Armchair BEA - Nurturing Relationships

Dictionary.com defines a "Mentor" as a wise and trusted counselor or teacher. I've had some wonderful mentors in my professional life, but not in my writing life. In my early years--when I was learning the craft and just getting started--I didn't seek out a mentor.

I do, however, have wonderful friends who I have learned "the ropes" with and those are the nurturing relationships I'd like to talk about today.

Writing is often a solitary endeavor. Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard. By yourself. But if you're like me, you need to talk about that process, vent about the challenging, complain about the rejections, rejoice in the successes. The failure doesn't seem as bad, and the success seems that much better if you share it with others. It takes the sting out of the rejection if you can share it with someone who understands.

So this post for Armchair BEA is dedicated to the three women in my critique group: Ansha Kotyk, Laura Pauling, and Jennifer Carson. All talented. All supportive. All incredible creators of children's literature. We've all been up and we've all been down. And we share each step along the way.

I've also met some great people through the New England Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators--professional organizations are a great way to find your own nurturing relationships. In fact, it's how I found my crit group to begin with. 

And the cool thing is to be able to nurture others. Support, Empathy, Understanding--sometimes it's enough to just say you understand how someone else is feeling. 


What are your nurturing relationships like?
 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Armchair BEA - My favorite Book Bloggers

Today's topic for Armchair BEA is blog interviews. I didn't sign up in time to host an interview, but I thought I'd give you a sampling of my favorite blogs and bloggers.

The Bookanistas
Afterglow Book Reviews
YA Highway
The Story Siren
The League of Extraordinary Writers

I've had the opportunity to interview some great writers/authors over the last year or so. Here are links to those interviews:

Jennifer Carson
John Lance
Amy Nathan
Cambria Dillon

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Armchair BEA - Best of 2011 (so far)

So I don't have anything to give away (alas) so my Armchair BEA post is about the great books I've read (so far) that have come out this year.


ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis
LIAR SOCIETY by Lisa and Laura Roeker
SUGAR AND ICE by Kate Messner
MATCHED by Allie Conde - even though it came out LATE last fall, I'm counting it!
THE OTHER LIFE by Ellen Meister
SUMNER ISLAND by Michael Cormier
THE THRONE OF FIRE by Rick Riordon


I've read more, but these are the ones that were released this year! I expect to see POSSESSION by Elana Johnson in my mailbox in a week or two!

What good books of 2011 have you read?

Go check out Armchair BEA and see what giveaways are going on today! They are also profiling new fall catalogs--and I'm excited to see Capstone on the list! While it's not on the website yet, I've got a book in their fall lineup.  THE REAL STORY ABOUT GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS IN COLONIAL AMERICA is scheduled for a September 2011 release.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Armchair BEA

I'm totally jumping on this bandwagon late--it always seems to be the way I do these things. For the first time, I'm participating in Armchair BEA. Someday I'd love to attend, maybe when (notice I said "when" not "if") my YA novel comes out. :)

The first question of the week is Who are you and how do you Armchair?

I'm a writer from central Massachusetts. I've published four nonfiction Work-for-Hire titles in the past two years (with four more contracted). I've got a picture book under contract with 4RV Publishing and my agent is getting ready submit my YA novel to editors. I guess you could call my writing varied. LOL. Or really, it's more like I don't like putting all my eggs in one basket. I'm a contributor to Afterglow Book Reviews--check it out, we're having a huge Start of Summer Contest this week.


My blog is a mix of book recommendations, random writing tips, and stops along my writing journey. I'd love to have you look around--and let me know what you think! I honestly don't know how I'm going to Armchair this week. I'm going to try to visit all the participating blogs.

My inspiration comes from my daughter, life in general, and my own childhood. I love making up stories of "what if this had happened instead."

I also organize semi-regular Meet-Ups for writers, illustrators (and anyone else in the childrens publishing world) in the Central Massachusetts area. If you'll be in the area on June 21, join us in Burlington, MA. Location is yet to be determined.

Nice to meet any new followers--I'm going to do my best to keep up this week!

Mega Start of Summer Contest


It's the start of summer! Well, it doesn't feel like it where I am, but the calendar doesn't lie!

Go over and follow AFTERGLOW BOOK REVIEWS -- there's a mega Start of Summer Giveaway starting on today!

Win great prizes donated by the contributors of the blog.

And then, if you're in New England, put June 21 on your calendar. We'll be reliving some of the fun times from the NESCBWI conference and celebrating the start of summer by having a children's writers/illustrators Meet Up in Burlington, Massachusetts. We haven't selected the location yet, so if you have any suggestions, let us know! And we look forward to seeing you there!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Four on Friday--things I learned at NESCBWI

Remember to go over and follow AFTERGLOW BOOK REVIEWS -- there's a mega Start of Summer Giveaway starting on Monday.

***

I still can't believe the NESCBWI (New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) is over. My crit group had been looking forward to it for months--we don't get to see each other in person all that often. And now it's over. :( But I did take away a few things I wanted to share.

1. As I've mentioned before, be prepared to answer the question "What's your book about?" anytime, any where. Call it your pitch, call it your log line, but know it and be prepared to say it out loud, to friends, agents, and anyone else interested in hearing about your writing.

2. "Show don't Tell" has a fancy scientific name--"Elision." And Janet Fox can talk much more intelligently about it than I can. Just know that it's all about the space between the words, sentence structure, and leaving things out. Read her article to find out how to add to your manuscript during the revision process.

3. In order to be successful at this writing thing, you have to DO THE WORK. Lin Oliver, co-founder of SCBWI, shared success stories from the vaults. And they all had one thing in common--you have to DO THE WORK. Which basically means, Butt in Chair, Hands On Keyboard.

4. Publishing isn't really a solitary activity. Writing might be, but once you're on the path to publication, you're a part of a team. You've got to be a team player; Divas can be spotted a mile away and no one wants to be their friends. Be a team player.

There were tons of other things I learned, but these are the four that come to immediate mind--so I'm going with them. :)

I can't wait for next  year.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Writing (and Banding) Together

One of my favorite things about being a writer is the incredible community I have discovered. I never in a million years expected to find friends, colleagues, or writing partners when I started writing for children a few years ago.

Recently, I joined the Afterglow Book Review blog as a contributor. It's an incredible group of writers and bloggers who love books. We're hosting a big blowout Beginning of Summer Spectacular starting on Monday (5/23). Thanks to the energy of Jen Daiker, the crew is hosting a giant giveaway--check it out and enter to win some fabulous prizes.

There are lots of ways to band together with other writers.
1. Write with Tina Laurel Lee in the Practice Room.
2. Critique with friends at Critique Circle.
3. Form your own critique group (online or in person) (NESCBWI Critique Group Resources)
4. Go to a workshop or a conference--it's great to meet other writers!

Share your other methods of banding together!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Live Pitching

I posted about pitching a few weeks ago (P is for Pitching). Little did I know that I would be posting about it again so soon!

Even if you haven't attended a writer's conference, you probably know that agents and editors (not to mention fabulous and talented authors) often serve as conference faculty. They always often offer critiques by appointment. Critique will probably cost you a few bucks, but it's worth it to get written comments by a professional. But make sure you have your elevator pitch ready also.

As someone who found her agent through an email query, why was I thinking about pitching? Well, you do realize that anytime you're asked about your book, you have to give your pitch, don't you?

Any time you have a chance to give your pitch, you should do it. Regardless of how nervous you are.

So anyway, on Friday night, there was a celebration. In a tight location. Lots of people. And cake. (Is that an agent over there? Yeah, it is. OMG it's Chris Richman from Upstart Crow. Go talk to him. No, you go talk to him. Maybe we should all go.)

If you're not an assertive person, find a friend who is. There is no reason not to talk to an agent. Say hello. Ask him how he's enjoying the conference. And then maybe your confident friend will ask if you can all give him your elevator pitch. Sound terrifying?

Yeah, it was. But in a really good way. Chris didn't mind at all (after all, he's at the conference to scope out potential new clients.) I was thinking--I've got nothing to lose here. I have an agent. So why were my knees knocking together? But there were a few people in our group of six who hadn't heard my pitch. So I was pitching to potential readers, too.

Over all I think I did pretty well. But I know I can do better. Time to start practicing in front of the mirror. Oh, and by the way, Chris Richman was thoughtful and enthusiastic to all of us--if you write what he's looking for (check out his sub requirements!), I bet he's an awesome agent to work with.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Conference Afterglow

If you haven't had a chance to attend a conference, and the opportunity presents itself, DEFINITELY GO!

I attended the 25th consecutive New England SCBWI conference this weekend (not MY 25th consecutive). The silver anniversary of the NESCBWI conference--though there were conferences held prior in the region--they had not been held annually.

I hung out with Heather Kelly, Laura Pauling, Jennifer Carson, Ansha Kotyk, Marissa Doyle, Alicia Gregoire and Joyce Johnson. I met new friends like Josie Cameron, Melissa Hed, Beth Gallagher and Diane Adair.

We heard keynotes from Jane Yolen (she IS a goddess), Harold Underdown, Stephen Mooser, Lin Oliver, and Tomie Dapaola. Tony Abbott (of SECRETS OF DROON fame) signed books for my daughter.

A few of us were challenged to do an impromptu live "elevator pitch" for agent Chris Richman (terrifying even though I have an agent. LOL, and not because Chris is scary. He was, in fact, very sweet and supportive of all of us.) I'll do a longer blog post on this tomorrow. It was a good learning experience.

I networked, I took notes, was inspired. I feel blessed to be a part of such a vibrant and talented community!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Favorite Four on Friday

I've read some great books lately:

BEASTLY by Alex Finn (YA)
THE OTHER LIFE by Ellen Meister (Adult fiction)
THE RED THRONE by Rick Riordon (MG)
THE LIAR SOCIETY by Lisa and Laura Roeker (YA)

What book recommendations do you have? I'm reading SUMNER ISLAND by Michael Cormier next.

Today is the first day of the New England SCBWI conference in Fitchburg Massachusetts. I'll be volunteering for part of the conference, hanging out with my crit partners, meeting some bloggy friends, and generally immersing myself in the New England writing community. Whoo-hoo! I'll report on it next week!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Afterglow

I'm very excited to announce that I'll be contributing to the group blog Afterglow Book Reviews. There are a great group of writers and readers who are part of this group--I love the concept:
Remember the feeling you got when you closed the back cover on a book that spoke to you? How you set it aside on your end table or night stand and lay back feeling amazed, traumatized, bewildered, and somehow changed?


That's the afterglow.  


Afterglow Book Reviews highlight only our very favorite books, and reviews are posted in the midst of the afterglow. This makes us more like book addict enablers than reviewers, but we're okay with that.

Check it out! I posted my first review today!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Awe, Sweet

Ashley Nixon gave me this award last week. I HAD to accept. Have you seen the title of my book?


The requirements for this award are as follows: 

1. Link it back to my giver (check).


2. Tell you seven things about me (see below).

3. Award it to fifteen other blogs and let them know (um, 15?) Okay, here goes: 

Ansha Kotyk
 First Page Panda
Julie Musil
Julia Darcey
4RV Reading, Writing, & Art News
Trisha Leaver
Kip Wilson
Kristi at Mother. Write. (Repeat.)
Kate Scott: My Life in Fiction
Marisa Hopkins
Carolina Valdez Miller
Cambria Dillon
Sophia the Writer
Leigh T. Moore
Jennifer Carson


This list is a mixture of crit partners, agent-mates, bloggy writer friends, and just plain cool blogs for writers. Enjoy them all!


Ok, now, 7 things about me.


1. My favorite movie of all time is Footloose, starring Kevin Bacon. Maybe it's because Kevin Bacon is STILL hot. Or maybe it's because I was the age of the characters when the movie came out. Or maybe because the soundtrack is one of the best ever. I loved dancing to this song at high school dances. 

2. In high school I wrote poetry. A lot of poetry. And submitted my work to anthologies--in fact, several poems were published. In books which I purchased. Ugh. Yes, I fell for it.
3. I know I've mentioned this before, but I love the band AMERICA. I've seen them over 20 times (going in August) and met them several times.
 And if you think they only sing oldies like SISTER GOLDEN HAIR and HORSE WITH NO NAME, check out this video from a few years ago.


4. But my first concert was in 1984 to see CHICAGO at the Worcester Centrum in Worcester, MA. And yes, it was before Peter Cetera left the band. Since then I've actually seen AMERICA perform with CHICAGO several times.
5. Lest you think I only like classic rock, I'm hoping to find someone who'll see DAUGHTRY with me this summer.
6. Or LIFEHOUSE. Or both. I know I should have caught the tour they did together last summer. 
7. In 1988, I saw AEROSMITH with GUNS 'N ROSES. It may or may not have been because of a cute boy. But I love seeing the expressions on people's faces when I tell them I saw this show--because it's so far outside my musical taste. DREAM ON still rocks. :)


Monday, May 9, 2011

The Toast of Twitter

Laura Pauling has a great post about the pitfalls of Twitter today--I encourage you to check it out and also play along with our TwitterGame. We'll be using hashtag #badquerytips.

I've been on Twitter for a while, but have only recently started "tweeting" more regularly. Or comfortably. I started just to follow writers (and lets face it, agents. LOL). But as I've become more comfortable putting myself out there in 140 characters or less, I've chatted with really cool people in various stages of their writing careers.

I think the important thing to remember with Twitter is that you have to be yourself. Retweet the comments you like (everyone appreciates that), including your own links. BUT, it's also about the social (it's not called a social network for nothing!). So go ahead and engage. Play TwitterGame with us. Let down your guard (but keep it appropriate--in my opinion, you've got to remember that people are watching you.)

I'd love to meet you on Twitter! Follow me @KristineAsselin

Also playing (I think) are Laura (@laurapauling), Kelly (@kellypolark), Tina (@tinalaurellee), Heather (@HeatherGKelly) and Anita! Make sure to follow all these lovely ladies so you don't miss out on a single game!!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hot Hot Hot

My lovely friend Anita over at A Still And Quiet Madness gave me this very cool award:

As I said in her comments, lately it's not so much "on fire" in my world, as dowsing the flames. But I have been trying to post daily and it seems to be showing in my traffic. I promise I'll have some type of contest soon--my local SCBWI conference is next weekend and I'll try to get some cool swag/books to giveaway.

So in the spirit of paying it forward, I'd like to present this award to a few of my new friends and followers.

Barbara Kloss
Laura Josephson
Angela Ackerman
Joyce Shor Johnson

And a few older ones:

Laura Pauling
Heather Kelly
Kelly Polark
Tina Laurel Lee
Anita Laydon Miller
Jonathan Arnston 
Michelle Teacress

I think you all have been better at commenting around the blogosphere than I have been. You're all fabulous and it's been a pleasure getting to know you!

And today's twittergame will be hashtag #thingsIletMykidsdosoIcanwrite. Please play along! Also playing (I think) are Laura (@laurapauling), Kelly (@kellypolark), Tina (@tinalaurellee), Heather (@HeatherGKelly) and Anita! Make sure to follow all these lovely ladies so you don't miss out on a single game!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Time Capsules aka Old Manuscripts

My crit partner, Ansha, was weeding out her hard drive the other day. She found a file called "Knight.Asselin.doc" dated May 7, 2008. It was a critique she had done for my short story, THE KNIGHT IN TAN KHAKIS, approximately 2300 words.

The weird thing is, Ansha and I didn't become crit partners until after the NESCBWI conference in 2009. We'd met the year before, but I have no recollection of her critting my short story.

That particular story ended up being published in Golfer Girl Magazine in the fall of 2008. As I spent the summer of 2008 revising the short story, I started think it might be a novel. Just thinking.

72,000 words, three years, and who knows how many drafts later, it IS a novel. With an agent.

When I opened the document, it was like a flash back in time. Lots of telling, no showing. Not enough dialogue. But the characters were there, just waiting for me to write their story.

I've learned about writing in those three years. I've made some wonderful friends. I've published some nonfiction. I have been paid to write. I am an author.

Wow.

I wonder what the next three years will hold? Thanks, Ansha!! ::hugs::

What do you seen when you read an old manuscript?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Twittering on twitter, AKA Twittergame

Sometimes you just need to play a game with some friends. Heather Kelly had this idea to hang out together on Twitter--anyone is free to play along.


The idea came out of seeing Paul Michael Murphy's tweet being profiled on the Jimmy Fallon show--Click here to visit PMM's blog and link to the JF show. (Even if you don't play, you have to watch this link--it's hysterical and as good an intro to #hashtags as anything else I've seen.)

So today we're asking, What's the most bizarre thing you've done while deep in writing fog? You know, when the world around you dissolves, and you are in that writing zone.
Respond on twitter with the hashtag: #dontwakemeamwriting  


Here's my answer: Tried to open my front door with my car remote #dontwakemeamwriting
Feel free to tweet the question and hashtag. You can do the same on your blog, or just watch, or play on twitter--whatever you want--or just watch up embarrass ourselves. Tweetdeck works for adding a whole column dedicated to the hashtag of the day.

We're still working on a title, hop over to Heather's blog and make a suggestion!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Big Six Publishers

I've been thinking a lot about publishing lately (Really? Why would I be thinking about publishing?). The term "the big six" gets thrown around frequently. And I started to wonder...who are the big six? And then I wondered if anyone else wondered.

According to Fiction Matters, the Big Six Publishers are:

  • Hachette Book Group
  • HarperCollins
  • MacMillan Publishers Ltd
  • Penguin Group
  • Random House
  • Simon & Schuster
This list surprise anyone? Almost all of them are owned by media conglomerates who also own other media outlets. And they all have multiple (some have many) imprints encompassing all genres.

I know I live under a rock (what can I say, it's cozy), but I've never heard of Hachette Book Group (though I know some of their imprints). All the others are familiar. At least a little.

For your edification, Fiction Matters spells them out in detail at Fiction Matters' "Who Are The Big Six?"

Disclaimer: the article I got this info from was first posted in March 2010.


 picture credited to http://ddeubel.edublogs.org/?s=competition

Monday, May 2, 2011

Formatting your MS for e-readers

Yes, it's important to write a good story. Yes, it's important to stand out of piles and piles of slush that agents and editors read every day. But you want to stand out for your writing, not your abysmal formatting.

When I first started writing, I spent hours pouring over websites like Harold Underdown (awesome if you're just getting started) and Verla Kay's message board (affectionately nicknamed "the blueboard") just to make sure I was typing in the right font and double spacing. The very first thing I did as a wannabe writer was take Mr. Underdown's book THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING CHILDREN'S BOOK out of the library.

But no one ever told me that you need to format your MS in a special manner for e-readers. No it doesn't look any different on your computer screen. But unless you set up your document in a certain way, it looks all wonky on the Kindle. Or Nook. And you know all the agents are reading on the Kindle now, right?

Anyway, my fabulous agent (I'm not too biased, am I?) put together this great post walking through the process to set up your MS so it will read well on an e-reader.

Vickie's tips on formatting your MS for e-readers

I did this after she signed me--and am horrified how many people probably read my MS all weird with funky spaces and stuff.

But I would strongly encourage everyone go do it NOW!

UPDATE: OK don't panic! Apparently, it's not terribly wonky! (thanks, Laura!) So don't worry if you've already sent out MSs without this format.

***

Very soon, a group of us are starting a new twitter game. Stay tuned for details from Heather Kelly of Edited to Within an Inch of m Life. Everyone is welcome to join in!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Reflecting on A-Z

I'm so glad I participated in this challenge! I'm happy to say I successfully completed--even being on vacation away from my computer for a week. And to think I signed up only a couple of days before it started. And didn't realize at first that the posts had to actually be in A-Z order (true, my first few scheduled posts had to be retitled to reflect the appropriate letter. duh.)

I'll admit that I didn't comment as heartily on others blogs as the month progressed, but I did "meet" some great bloggers through this event.

Welcome to all my new followers! I'll be having a contest soon to celebrate hitting 200--stay tuned.

Thanks to Elizabeth Mueller for creating this award.

This is a blog hop. Consider visiting other participants as they reflect on the challenge: