Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Thursday, April 29, 2010

And the Winner Is...

Workout Song of the Day: "My Chick Bad (Remix)" Ludacris ftg. a bunch of female rappers that I don't feel like listing.

With the last day of April upon us (ugh, I never want to use "upon" on this blog again), my Teaser Tuesday contest has now come to a close. Don't shed a tear--I'm thinking about doing another contest as soon as I reach 50 followers (hint hint, spread the word!).

So, did you know the answer to the last teaser? Well, it was...




That's right, the new YA classic from John Green and David Levithan. You know, the one that's sitting on my bookshelf and begging to be read? Soon, my pet...soon.

So, without further ado, I'm going to announce the winner of the $40 gift card to the bookstore of their choice. You ready?

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Am I annoying you yet? :) Okay, the winner is:

WAIT!

I just have to mention that my cuz actually drew the name, so you can be mad at her if you didn't win. :) Okay, without further ado, the winner of my Teaser Tuesday contest is....

RAELENA!!

Well deserved, Raelena! You've played every week and you were always right. Please email me at pamharris1981@gmail.com and give me: your full name, your address, and the bookstore that you want the gift card to. Congrats--you rock!

But never fear, my loyal followers, I'll be looking out for you in the near future. Remember--the magic number is 50. :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Best Book of the Month

Workout Song of the Day: "Resistance" by Muse
My peeps over at YA Highway are being very cruel. They're asking us to choose the best book we've read all month. Seriously? That's like asking me to choose my favorite type of cake or candy or ice cream or...okay, maybe I should lay off with the food analogies.

So I'm currently reading Cracked Up to Be right now, and if you've been following this blog, you know that I'm a complete gooberoo (yes, this is a word) over Ms. Summers. But even though I can't put the book down, I still haven't finished reading it. Which means that I can't officially give it the "Best Book" title...yet.

However, what I will give props to (does anyone even say "props" anymore?) is the short story collection Bleed by Laurie Faria Stolarz.



Ms. Stolarz is best known for her Blue is for Nightmares series, and after reading Bleed, I know that I'll definitely be checking those out. Bleed follows the points-of-view of ten different teens on a summer day. One betrays her best friend, one cheats on his girlfriend, another runs away from home...all compelling narratives. Blood plays a factor in each story, but not in a creepy way. I won't share too much about that since I want you guys to read this story and become a gooberoo (there's that word again) over it like I have.

I'm eager to see what books you all recommend! :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesday Contest: Final Day!

Workout Song of the Day: "Pump It" by Black Eyed Peas

It's the last Tuesday of April, which means that it's also the last day to enter my Teaser Tuesday contest. Don't shed a tear--one of you will win a $40 gift card to any bookstore you'd like! And who knows, maybe I'll have an even cooler contest when I reach 50 followers.

Did you answer last week's opening correctly? It was...


By the way, I'm so devouring this trilogy as soon as summer hits. Now on to our final opening:

"When I was little, my dad used to tell me, 'Will, you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose.'"


Side note: Probably one of the best openings. Ever. Think you know where this comes from? For the last time, here's the rules:

1. If you're not already, become a follower of my blog.
2. Shoot me an email at pamharris1981@gmail.com with "Teaser Tuesday Contest" in the subject line.
3. Make sure to email me by the end of the day--midnight EST.

Don't I make this easy or what? Shoot me an email. I'm going to announce the winner this Thursday!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Agent Wish List: Jennifer Laughran

Workout Song of the Day: "So Sick" by Flyleaf


After a brief hiatus, I'm back to highlight more amazing literary agents that I would be beyond speechless if they've ever decided to represent me. And since I heart you all, I'm also giving you information just in case you decide to query them and make your wishes come true. This week, I'm giving love to the incredible Jennifer Laughran from Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Ms. Laughran's publishing track record proves that she's someone you'd want in your corner.

Why I Heart Her: Because one of her job titles is a "kids/YA specialist." Being that I plan on making a career of writing YA novels, I definitely want someone who considers themselves to be specialist in the field to have my back and help me make decisions.

Why You'll Heart Her: Because of instead of asking you to hop on the latest trend bandwagon, she just wants all writers to write "an awesome book." Oh, and she's pretty sure that she could sell it, too.

Who She Represents: LK Madigan, author of the smash YA debut, Flash Burnout; Kate Messner; Ilsa Bick; and Daniel Pinkwater

What She's Looking For: She focuses primarily on middle grade and YA, and her favorite stories deal with "offbeat" worldviews. She also like unforgettable characters and vivid settings.


Notable Net Nuggets:

Andrea Brown Literary Agency website

Cynsations Interview

Guide to Literary Agents: Notes from a conference

Announcement of becoming an agent also on GLA

Twitter (and she updates frequently!)

Jennifer Represents Blog (she just started to post new material!)

Guest post on Justine Larbalestier's blog

Interview for Writing Wednesday

Market My Words post

QueryTracker

Publishers Marketplace

Absolute Write Agent-in-Residency thread


How to Submit to Her: Please click here for accurate submission guidelines.

As you can see, Ms. Laughran is a constant presence on the Internet which means you can do plenty of research before querying. I'll probably be knocking at her door at the end of May--won't you join me? Good luck!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fitness Friday: Laugh it Off!

Workout Song of the Day: "My Third House" by Kings of Leon

Did you hear the one about having a good laugh actually burns calories? Well, it's true. Not as much as I'd like, though. If I could laugh instead of doing cardio, I'd spend my days watching Judd Apatow movies and "Martin" reruns--which is kind of my idea of heaven. But sometimes we get so tense about this whole getting fit thing, that we forget that it's okay to just have fun.

The clip below has been prowling around the Internet forever, but it still makes me guffaw. Yes, guffaw. As in throwing back my head and laughing so loud that my coworkers think about committing me. It also warns me the dangers of taking things too literally, which I do on far too many occasions.

So laugh. Burn some calories--and enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Kortizzle Made Me Do It!

Workout Song of the Day: "Mountain Man" by Crash Kings

Okay, I drank the Kool-Aid. I created my first ever vlog today, and based on how HUMONGOUS my head is, this will probably be my last. However, I had to do it in order to win an EPIC contest in which I could speak to two super agents, Kathleen Ortiz and Suzie Townsend, over Skype for 12 whole minutes. For more info, please click here. You still have time to enter--it ends at 11:59 tonight!

So, without further ado, here is my vlogging debut:


video

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Teaser Tuesday Contest: Day 3!

Workout Song of the Day: "4 My Town (Play Ball" by Birdman, Drake, & Lil Wayne

Hey buddies! Once again, I'm begging you guys to take my money. Well, sorta. It's the Teaser Tuesday Contest again. I feed you the opening lines of a popular YA novel, and you shoot me an email with the correct answer. If I draw your name at the end of the month, you'll win a gift card of $40 to your fave bookstore! I'm crazy, right? Well, I figure if I give you the money, I'll stop buying so many books (I currently have about 20 books that I recently bought and haven't read yet. I know, I have a problem).

So, did you answer last week's clue correctly? The answer was...


Have I mentioned how much I heart Ms. Summers? Okay, enough on my author-crush. If you sent me the correct answer last week, you are "thismuch" closer to the grand prize. Here's today's opening:


"Janie Hannigan's math book slips from her fingers. She grips the edge of the table in the school library. Everything goes black and silent. She sighs and rests her head on the table. Tries to pull herself out of it, but fails miserably."
Think you know which novel this comes from? Check out the rules:

1. If you're not already, become a follower of my blog.
2. Shoot me an email at pamharris1981@gmail.com with "Teaser Tuesday Contest" in the subject line.
3. Make sure to email me by the end of the day--midnight EST.

Easy enough? Then good luck!

Monday, April 19, 2010

An Agent's Wish List

Workout Song of the Day: "Armada Latina" Cypress Hill ftg. Pitbull and Marc Anthony

Okay, so I'm doing something a little different today. On Mondays, I usually do a profile of an agent on my wish list. But today, I've been sent home from work today with the worse allergies since the dawn of allergies. Needless to say, I'm feeling a little grumpy. And I've also been seeing a lot of these:


And that makes me not only grumpy, but a little depressed. So, instead of highlighting agents that I wish would someday represent me, I'm turning the tables. While researching agents that I'm considering to query, I sometimes come across something on their wish list. I've seen agents that want more humorous stories; I've seen agents that want more "edgy" stories; I've seen agents who want more stories with male protagonists; I've especially seen agents who are looking for more middle grade.
So, I think one of two things when I see these kinds of items: 1. But I do write "insert genre here" and you rejected me, or 2. Hmm, a middle grade series featuring a blind boy who fights crime? Hey, I can write that!
Is the latter a crime? I did read about a writer who took a stab at a story just because they saw it on an agent's wish list, and now she's published! But I also always read that you should write what you want to write--what feels authentic to you. I am currently considering writing a second manuscript based on an agent's preference, but I'm still trying to stay true to my own style of writing, as well.
What do you think? Do you cater to what agents are looking for, or do you just keep writing what's in your heart and keep your fingers crossed that an agent will love it as much as you do? I need answers--and something to cheer me up a bit. :(

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fitness Friday: I Did It...Kinda!

Workout Song of the Day: "Rude Boy" by Rihanna
Okay, you may remember me mentioning that I got this for Christmas:




And then I went ahead and bought this:


Well, I'm finally done. You see, The Biggest Loser game gives you a choice between choosing a 4-week, 8-week, and 12-week program. I--being eager and, well, dumb--chose the latter. So it was 12 weeks of working out almost everyday, 12 weeks of writing down everything that I ate. Every. Single. Thing. 12 weeks of cursing at Jillian for telling me to "pick it up!" when all I wanted to do was retch and crawl into a ball and weep. But, after all my hard work, I lost a grand total of:

14 POUNDS

Go me! Okay, maybe my goal was to lose 21 pounds (an extra pound just because), but I still technically lost a little over a pound a week--which is great! Plus, I'm comfortably fitting into most of my size 6's, which was my ultimate goal.

So, what did I do to celebrate? I ate a stack of these:

Terrible, right? Wrong! You see, it's okay to indulge every now and then as long as it's just that--every now and then. While I may not continue my Rambo-like workout regimen, I still plan on getting up and moving at least three times a week. And I'm not going to scribble down in a journal whenever I eat 5 jelly beans anymore. Since I've been journaling my food intake for 12 weeks, I have a good idea of what I should and shouldn't eat--as well as how much I should eat of it.

My point is--I'm officially done with The Biggest Loser, but my weight loss is not a game. If I want to maintain, I have to alter my lifestyle--which I've been able to practice for 12 weeks. So, my advice to all of you weight watchers out there, don't just be a fad--be fabulous! Does that make sense?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Best Writing Advice Ev-AH!

Workout Song of the Day: "Girl Talk" by TLC

My peeps over at YA Highway have just posted another Road Trip Wednesday question. This week they ask: what is the best piece of writing advice that you've ever received?

And without further ado, my answer is:

READ!! Courtesy of any writer that I've ever encountered.

But even though it's pretty spot-on, I think this is more of a cop-out response. Once I really started to think about it, I realized that the best piece of writing advice came from one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Scott.

You see, the other day Ms. Scott and I were having lunch (on her tab, of course), and she says to me: "Pam, I pretty much cut out about 30% of my first draft."

"30%?" I ask, strings of cheese from my pizza drooping from my chin. "Why--that's almost a third! What do you cut out?"

"Lots. Characters, dialogue, unnecessary passages. Pretty much anything that stalls the story."

"But, but...all that work! How could you just delete it?"

"Pam," Elizabeth says, handing me a napkin for my cheesy chin. "That's what they have jump drives for."

End scene.

Okay, maybe I lied a bit. Maybe I heard Ms. Scott share this on one of her awesome vlogs from the Readergirlz blog. But her comment still resonated with me.

You see, I'm a bloated writer--and I'm not talking about my waistline (lost 14 pounds, baby! But more on that later). I tend to over-explain and repeat myself like I have OCD. And you know what? It's okay. I can write as much as I want to about someone's smile or how much they hate their father. Then later, after my first draft is complete, I can point out the parts where my eyes becomes crossed with boredom and slash them. It was scary at first, but now I have just as much fun taking out words as I do writing them.

This is advice that I think will actually stick. What about you? Do you have fun chopping up your manuscript?

P.S. Don't forget to check out my Teaser Tuesday contest, which will be held every Tuesday in April (see post below).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Teaser Tuesday Contest: Day 2!

Workout Song of the Day: "This Too Shall Pass" by OK Go

It's that time of the week again! I give you the opening lines of a pretty popular YA book, and you email me your answer! Only this time, I've upped the stakes...instead of awarding 2 winners a $25 gift card to Borders, I'm now picking 1 winner to win a $40 gift card to Borders, or any other bookstore of your choosing.

So, did you answer correctly last week? The answer was...




Congrats to those who emailed me correctly last week--you're one step closer to being my grand prize winner at the end of the month! Okay, on to the next opening:

"Imagine four years. Four years, two suicides, one death, one rape, two pregnancies (one abortion), three overdoses, countless drunken antics, pantsings...But everything you do here counts. High School."
Think you know which novel this comes from? Here's the rules:
1. If you're not already, become a follower of my blog.
2. Shoot me an email at pamharris1981@gmail.com with "Teaser Tuesday Contest" in the subject line.
3. Make sure to email me by the end of the day--midnight EST.
Easy enough? Then good luck!

Monday, April 12, 2010

My Agent Wish List: Kathryn Green


Workout Song of the Day: "Hello Good Morning" By Dirty Money


So this week I decided to showcase the very talented Kathryn Green from the Kathryn Green Literary Agency. Kathryn started her own agency in 2004 after spending 25 years in the publishing industry. That's a mega amount of experience, which I'm sure is beneficial to all of her clients. Since I couldn't find a legit picture of Ms. Green, I chose a clip art of how I'm sure she actually looks while working. Pretty awesome, huh?


Why I Heart Her: I just picked up a wonderful collection of YA short stories called Bleed written by Laurie Faria Stolarz. Since I fell in love with her writing so much, I did some research and discovered that she's kinda a big deal in the YA world--and Ms. Green is the genius behind the genius.


Why You'll Heart Her: Because her response time is on point! I've checked both QueryTracker and the Absolute Write Water Cooler and noticed that she responds to queries in record time--some even receiving input from her in the same day!


Who She Represents: Aside from the ultra talented Laurie Stolarz, Ms. Green also reps Bobby Mercer, Kristin Levine, and Jennifer Joyner among many others.


What She's Looking For: Popular fiction; young adult fiction; nonfiction including the three P's--pop culture, parenting, and prescriptive how-to's.


Notable Net Nuggets:








How to Submit to Her: Send email queries (with NO ATTACHMENTS) to query@kgreenagency.com.


There you have it. Now that I've done most of the work for you, send your queries off!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Need a Laugh?

Workout Song of the Day: "Paparazzi" by Lady GaGa (I may have used this before, but you'll see why it warrants repeated play)

So, I've been a bit stressed lately. I've been juggling querying, revising, writing short stories for my MFA program, and trying to appear normal to the human race. Needless to say, I need some fun distractions from time to time--and sometimes there's no better distraction than watching D-List celebrities on ABC's Dancing with the Stars.

If you've been watching this season, you know that Kate Gosselin is a contestant. And if you've really been watching it, you know that Kate Gosselin can't really...well, dance. My cousin and I had a great laugh off of this clip. I won't be posting again until Monday, so take a load off and watch this about two or twenty times.



Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Another Cool Contest!

So, the fabulous sister-writing act, Lisa and Laura Roecker are having an Earth-shattering contest. For full deets, check out this link.

Don't forget about my own contest--check post below! :)

Teaser Tuesday Contest: Day 1!

Workout Song of the Day: "Stockholm Syndrome" by Muse



Weight Loss Thus Far: 12 Pounds Baby--one more week to go! I'm pushing for three pounds this week to make it an even 15.



As I mentioned last week, each Tuesday for the month of April, I'll be posting the first lines of a YA novel on my "Must Read" list. If you know what novel the opening lines come from, shoot me an email at pamharris1981@gmail.com. Please post "Teaser Tuesday Contest" in the subject line. I'll be accepting responses until midnight tonight, EST.

Remember, I'll be picking two winners at the end of the month to win a $25 gift card to Borders!

I'm starting it off kinda easy--here we go:

"When I wake up, the other side of my bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim's warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress."

That's it. What are you waiting for? Shoot me an email!

Monday, April 5, 2010

My Agent Wish List: Kathleen Ortiz

Workout Song of the Day: "OMG" by Usher

This week, I choose to highlight the very cute, very awesome, very business-savvy Kathleen Ortiz from Lowenstein Associates, Inc. Ms. Ortiz started her career as an editorial assistant and interactive media designer for the young adult section, and now she's continuing to take the literary world by storm by working as an Associate Agent and Foreign Rights Manager. Check out more cool info:
Why I Heart Her: Because she has admitted that she loves "slush." Being that I have very few connections in the literary world, this is may-jah news to me. Plus, she loves watching 80s and 90s movie marathons with her buddies. Is she my doppelganger or what?
Why You'll Heart Her: Because she always holds the most epic contests for aspiring writers ever--including this one that's going on now.
Who She Represents: Kathleen is very new to the scene, but some of her soon-to-be superstar writers include Jaime Reed and Jennifer Walkup.
What She's Looking For: Chapter books, middle grade, and YA (both fiction and non-fiction). Bonus points if you've written a romance with a "male point of view and a great voice."
Notable Net Nuggets:
Check out Kathleen's own blog, Neverending Page Turner
Twitter (she posts consistently--great way to gain insight of her interests)
How to Submit to Her: By snail mail, send a query letter, short synopsis, and the first chapter. If you want to submit electronically, you have to complete the form here.
Kathleen is currently building her client list, so polish up your manuscripts and give her a try (I may or may not have already done so). Good luck!