Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Fives: Mmmm...Book Covers

Ogling Song of the Day: "Cover Girl" by Jamie Foxx

We're joining Pam's awesome bloggy pals over at the uber rad (sorry, didn't want to use awesome again) blog, Paper Hangover for some Friday Fives fun!

This week, they wanna know:

What five book covers are you lusting over?

As you all know from our Pam v. Quita series, we don't ALWAYS agree on everything, but this topic was one we could easily agree on. Here are the five book covers (in no particular order) that are so delicious we could just gobble them up.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Brooklyn, Burning by Steve Brezenoff

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Aren't those just gorgeous?! What book covers are you currently lusting over?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I Saw That In A Movie!

Comparing Song of the Day: "For the Movies" by Buckcherry

Okay, so we felt like it was about time that we touch on the age old topic of the movie versions of books. We saw Water for Elephants this past weekend without having read the book. Right after the movie, I promptly bought the book. The same thing happened when we saw the movie version of I Am Number Four (which we've heard was a lot better than the book--full report after said book is read)...and of course this occurs the other way around, too. We read and love Twilight, we saw the movie. We read and love The Hunger Games, so we plan to see the movie. You get the point.

Sometimes movies and books work hand in hand, helping each other sell (cha-ching) and bringing the movie/book to a wider audience. On some occasions you get situations where the book is better than the movie (okay that happens on MOST occasions), but we wonder...are there ever times where the movie is better than the book?

When we were younger we couldn't get through the book Gone With the Wind, but we watched the movie with intensity. Is that an age thing or was the movie better than the book? Pipe in--can you think of occasions where the movie was able to outdo those things that we love and hold dear (books, people-duh!)??

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

RTW: The Soundtrack of Our Writing

Writing Songs of the Day: "Misery" by Maroon 5, and "Duality" by Slipknot

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:

If your WIP or favorite book were music, what song(s) would it be?

We LOVE anything mixing music and reading/writing so this should be a fun RTW!

Pam's Answer:

Here's a secret: I like a lot of depressing music. You know--Eminem, Chevelle, and anything else you'd listen to while waiting for the apocalypse. So when I was writing my kinda, sorta romantic comedy, Project J, I just blinked at my iTunes playlist a lot.

And then I rediscovered my love for Maroon 5.

I mean, I've always been a fan; I even saw them in concert and swooned over Adam Levine's sexy swag. But I never had a place for them with my own writing until my narrator Jonah popped in my head. Jonah's a self-proclaimed nerd who tries really hard to win the affections of the most popular girl in school--but in the mean time, he falls for someone else that he may not ever be able to have. Is that misery or what? Hence, "Misery" by Maroon 5. Yeah, it's not the most creative song choice, but damn if that song doesn't make me jerk my shoulders to the beat. And have you seen them perform this live? Again--sexy swag.

Quita's Answer:

Like Pam, I have a lot of slow, depressing songs--the music getting the most play on my iPod right now is Adele's latest- 21. But, that doesn't quite fit with the mood and tone. Yes, it is slightly depressing since it involves death--but I want it to the have the feel of a fast paced mystery. And Adele won't work for that. Blake, my MC from The Blues, is not scorned by a lover, instead he discovers secrets about his best friend after his mysterious death.

So, if I had to choose a song for The Blues, it would be...
"Duality" by Slipknot. My MC has to deal with the fact that he can't change the situation his best friend was in or his current dilemma (and this song got heavy rotation while I was writing The Blues)

Now tell us, what song(s) would represent your WIPs or a fave book of yours?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chipping Away at Writer's Block

Writing Song of the Day: "Did It On 'Em" by Nicki Minaj

Last week, something miraculous happened. Something so awe-inducing, that years from now, townspeople will be celebrating a day in my honor. Yes, ladies and gentlemen--I, Pamela N. Harris, have completed another 1st draft.

Okay, I get it. Some of you may be thinking: "But you write. Aren't you supposed to complete 1st drafts?"

Why yes, lovely followers, this is true. But as I mentioned here, I'm not a big fan of the 1st draft. And this one--well, this one was a doozy.

I started Project J (no, I don't have a title yet) in the summer of 2010. I outlined the first 13 chapters, wrote the 1st 13 chapters, and then...

That's right, I hit a wall. I did have Wants to fall back on since I had to complete some agent-requested revisions. And then in November, I wrote another 1st draft for NaNoWriMo. And then more Wants revisions. And then there's work and school.

And Project J. Well, Project J started to collect cobwebs. It's not that I hated it--it's just that I didn't know what the heck to do with it anymore. When my lovely agent said that she'd like the idea, I knew I had to get to work. But how do you work on a project when your mind is filled with this: ??????????????????????????????

Here's my cure to chipping away at this bout of writer's block:

1. I printed out what I had so far and read through it. Made notes on what worked, what didn't work.

2. Made (I mean, asked) Quita to read what I had so far, too. Asked her to take notes on what worked, what didn't work.

3. Listened to music that fit my manuscript. Project J is one of my lighter manuscripts, so I played lots of pop-friendly songs (thanks, Quita--for blasting so many Britney Spears in the office).

4. Watched teen comedies and paid attention to what worked, what didn't work. Project J is inspired by an 80s teen comedy, so I really wanted to get back to that place of how fun being a teen can be sometimes. Of course, I touch on some "heavy" topics, but I wanted to have a good time while doing so.

5. With all that said and done, I finally was able to have a bare outline of what should happen next. After that, I set myself goals on actually writing it. Some days it was 1 chapter, some days it was 2--it all depended on how much work I needed to do for my two jobs and school.

6. Gave myself an incentive for when I was actually done. And me being me, my incentive was food. Even though I whined when I was too tired to work, I always reminded myself how much I wanted those Cheddar Bay Biscuits from Red Lobster. Yum!!

And now--1ST DRAFT IS DONE! Of course, the hard work is next: revision. Call me weird, but I love me some revising, so I'm actually looking forward to the next step.

What about you all? How do you all overcome writer's block? I'm always looking for new tips!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Fives: More Please!

Wishing Song of the Day: "Gimme More" by Britney Spears

We're joining my lovely group blog, Paper Hangover, again this week for the Friday Fives. This week we want to know:

What are five things you wish to see more of in fiction?

1. More diversity. In most of the books Quita and I like to read, we don't nearly see as many ethnic characters...or GLBTQ characters...or characters with disabilities. Of course, none of these need to be an "issue" of the book--but it would be nice to read books that were reflective of the world. Speaking of which...

2. More realistic YA. Don't get me wrong, I'm a total fan girl of Cassandra Clare and Quita is ga ga over Maggie Stiefvater, but we'd like to see realistic fiction receive the same attention. Nothing excites me more than seeing a contemporary YA deal on Publishers Marketplace. Well, except for pizza and/or chocolate chip cookies, but still...

3. More love stories that actually make sense. Sure, it's great to think that the hottest guy in school will suddenly open his eyes and fall head over heels for you--risking his popularity and even his own life just for your well-being. But that ain't happening, cap'n. We like love stories with a more authentic feel, just like the one in Anna and the French Kiss. The chemistry was there between Anna and Etienne from the beginning, but their actual relationship took time--which is the way it usually happens.

4. More stories from the male POV. Sure, girls usually read more than boys, but this could possibly change if there were male narrators. Thank you John Green, Hannah Moskowitz, and Blake Nelson for breaking the mode. And on the POV front...

5. More multiple POVs please. Sometimes a story works even better when you get to see everything from different angles. Steve Brezenoff did a wonderful job with this in The Absolute Value of -1 and Jackson Pearce rocked it out with Sisters Red. I like to dabble with this method, so I'd LOVE to see more examples.

What about you all? Anything you'd love to see more of in fiction?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Right on the Kisser!

Kissing Song of the Day: "Kiss" by Prince (obviously)

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
Compare your first kiss with your favorite characters first kiss?

Okay, so here are one of my fave couples in YA, Jace and Clary:

See the passion? The heat? The lust that just oozes from this picture?

Now, here's a dramatization of my first kiss:

'Nuff said.

What about you all? Were any of your first kisses anything like the books?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Query Letter Blogfest!

Critiquing Song of the Day: "All the Critics Love You in New York" by Prince

It's blogfest tiiiiiime! Once again, we're joining the lovely Alicia, Holly, and Erinn in a new blogfest-this time it's a Query Letter Blogfest!

If you are paricipating, don't forget that we're asking each person to critique at least five query letters--you can definitely do more though!

Since query letters are always so subjective, what exactly should you be looking for in your critique? Here are some helpful suggestions:

*Tell whether or not the letter hooks you--is there a pitch line apparent somewhere through out the letter?

*Determine whether or not you GET what the novel is about.

*How is the sentence flow? Transitions?

*If you were an agent--would you request pages? Why or why not?

*Try to stay away from grammatical errors- that's a little nitpicky. We just wanna know what you think about the content.

So, obviously one of us will not be posting their query...*coughs* Pam already has a super agent *coughs* But I am braving the masses and posting my query letter for all to see and critique.

I'm fragile, yes--but critical feedback is good...even for those as precious as me. Show me what you got!

Dear Agent,

Solving the murder of your drug-dealing best friend can be difficult, especially when you’re only sixteen.

Blake Farmer’s suburban neighborhood in North Carolina has always bored him. The worst crimes ever committed on his street were from teens pushing pills to their peers. But one summer night after the tenth grade, Blake’s father is murdered following a car jacking. A suspect is never found, and despite his mom’s efforts to get Blake to see a counselor, he buries his emotions by working at a skateboarding park and getting high with best friend, high school drug dealer Kyle.

But then Kyle misses a day of school without letting Blake know. At first, Blake believes the text messages from Kyle—he’s just under the weather. He even trusts the updates that Kyle’s boyfriend, Evan, gives him. Eventually, dependable Kyle doesn’t show up for too many commitments and Blake knows something is wrong. With help from Margo—the target of Blake and Kyle’s teasing in middle school—Blake tries to figure out what’s happened to his best friend.

Not wanting to rely on the police who let him down before, Blake and Margo start their own investigation. They both become entangled in a long-standing drug war that Blake had no clue was happening right under his nose. Confused about new feelings for Margo and the real identity of his best friend, Blake becomes overwhelmed as he uncovers an entire underground drug ring and makes enemies out of people he never thought twice about before.

The Blues is a contemporary young adult mystery about the violence, drugs, and betrayal that ensues when trying to get to the bottom of a small town crime.

I am currently a secondary history teacher and a member of SCBWI and AWP. I am working toward my MFA at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) and I read for the FDU Literary Review Magazine. I have included the synopsis and the first ten pages per your submission guidelines. Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Let Us Entertain You Part Deux: The Results!

Results Song of the Day: "Feeback" by Janet Jackson

It is finally amongst us--our long awaited Spring Break! While we'll be spending this week relaxing and enjoying our week away from work, we will also be taking into consideration the results of our poll last Monday.

We asked all of you what we should do more of on our blog...59 of you voted woo hoo!!!!! (or maybe our mom's came up here and voted 20 or so times...)

Anyway, here are the results:

So, as it stands you guys really enjoy when we tell you about conferences, when we give writing tips, and when we fight each other. *blinks* Also, you seem to really like our new "What Agents Want" series (yay!) and when we participate in blog fests. Please be sure that we've heard you loud and clear. In fact, there's a blogfest tomorrow- Query Letter Blogfest. There's still time to enter, check out the rules here!

Since you all really like when we give you advice that we hear from conferences,why don't you tell us about your favorite writer conference you attended...or will you be attending one soon? What conference do you WISH you could attend but work, life, and general suckiness gets in the way?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Fives # 2: Trading Places

Reading Song of the Day: "Trading Places" by Usher

It's the second week of Pam's uber-new, uber-cool group blog, Paper Hangover's Friday Fives. This week's prompt: The FIVE book characters you would switch places with for a day...

This is hard because there are so many book characters we would swap out with, especially if we only had to endure a day in most of their tortured lives :D Here are me and Pam's collective choices in no particular order:

1.) Violet from Kimberly Derting's The Body Finder trilogy. Okay, I know--why would we wanna switch places with someone who could sense the dead? Probably because it'll feel nice to have that power & help solve crimes. It would make us feel special :)

2.) Anna from Stephanie Perkins' Anna and the French Kiss. DUH- she was in Paris and she had a hottie like Etienne St. Clair fall in love with her. Who doesn't wanna be Anna?

3.) Isabel from Maggie Stiefvater's Linger. Because she got to make out with Cole...and because she is pretty strong and resilient.

4.) Clary from the Cassie Clare's The Mortal Instruments series. Again, another obvious choice The world Clare created for TMI is intriguing and mesmerizing and not only is Clary an awesome and strong female, but she also gets to finagle with Jace-YUM!

5.) Jessamine/Will from Cassie Clare's Clockwork Angel. Jessamine was pretty bada**. It would be neat to live in that time period as well and Will b/c he's smooth and blunt--everything we wish we could be (and because we wanted to say a boy so that laughter could ensue...laugh, please).

There you have it...what characters would you want to switch places with?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It's Time For Something Real!

Writing Song of the Day: "Real World" by Matchbox Twenty

I just recently finished Judy Blundell's National Book Award Winner: What I Saw and How I Lied and I LOVED it!

Not only was the plot engaging, but the MC Evie was relatable yet mysterious, and likable. I read a few historicals before this novel, but I must say Blundell did a great job of weaving in historical details without spelling out- "Hey, this story takes places in the mid 1940's right after the end of World War II!" And I was in complete awe.

As a matter of fact, reading this made me want to go back to my baby, In Limbo. I'm re-plotting the novel and revising it now. And I must say, I am falling in love with it. I queried In Limbo and got a couple of bites, but no offers of representation--that made me think. I was getting response from the queries but not from the fulls or the partials. I guess that means I need to look at the actual WRITING. So, that's what I'm doing. But it made me think--what makes a realistic historical young adult novel interesting? Does it need mystery, romance, a love triangle, murder?? Why is steampunk (check out our blog post here on steampunk novels) gaining so much popularity when there are some fantastic realistic historical YA novels to be read?

This made us think--let's ask our bloggy pals! So, we take these questions to you: What makes YOU want to read a realistic historical YA novel (or adult novel)? Why would you choose a steampunk novel over a realistic one? If YOU could play agent, what would you look for in a realistic historical YA when considering to represent it?

***BTW- Steampunk novels are awesometastic. I am not saying they are not great--just saying I needs to know what to do with my realistic. Help!***

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Scars Remind Us...

Painstaking Song of the Day: "Scars" by Papa Roach

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic: What's is the story of your best scar?

Pam's Story:
I have so many nicks and holes in me that I pretty much look like a cheese grater. I've had two pretty serious surgeries before I even hit 30--one to remove my gall bladder, the other to fix my stupid knee. However, my most unique scar would probably have to be this long, dark scratch I have on my right forearm.

For some reason, whenever Quita and I attempt to share a dog as a pet, we get a spawn from Satan. One of them was an adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Skip. He kind of looked like this:

But he acted more like this:

Anyways, as I was fighting to get him in his crate after he chewed on the coffee table/pooped on the carpet/bit my ankle/all of the above, he did some kind of fancy maneuver that resulted in me scraping my arm against something sharp and pointy on the top. So I pretty much had a long claw mark from my wrist to my elbow. Pretty gross. But it's like he sensed he hurt me, because then he calmly entered the crate and laid down. I don't think I'll ever have a pet again.

Quita's Story: Funny that Pam had the knee surgery since I'm always banging mines up. When I was little, I was running like the wind (but not because I dined and dashed...this time), only to turn around and bang my forehead on a piece of wood sticking out from the bed of a truck. I fell to the ground and scraped my knee pretty badly.

Oh, and just a few weeks ago, I was taking out the trash on the way to work. Thing is, I have to wear nice shoes to work--code word for uncomfortable. I ended up taking a tumble down the stairs and the trash went flying. Once again, I skinned my knee until the "pink meat" showed. Yuck.

What about you, peeps? Any nasty scar stories?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Let Us Entertain You!

Polling Song of the Day: "Opinion" by Nirvana

We are getting close to ONE YEAR as blogging partners--can you believe it?!!! And we felt like it was about time to ask you, our lovely and loyal followers, what YOU would like to see more of (or at all) on our blog.

Please take a moment to vote on one or more of the following items that you would like to see on the blog.

Hey, wait! If you have ANOTHER moment, tell us if we left something off of the poll that yo u would like to see. Also, what were some of your favorite blog posts here at Y(A)? Cuz We Write! and on any of your other fave blogs?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday Fives: Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

Reminiscing Song of the Day: "Wish" by Nine Inch Nails

We're trying something new at my uber-new, uber-cool group blog, Paper Hangover. Every other week, we'll be doing the Friday Fives. This week's prompt: The FIVE things you wish you'd known before you became a writer...

Let's give this a try, shall we?

1. You know that "lame" English assignment? You know, the one where you have to swap papers with classmates and help them revise? Yeah, pay attention to those. It's going to make you a helluva beta reader.

2. You can kill your darlings. Sure, it sounds a little...morbid. But if you start missing any of them, you'll always have them saved in another file.

3. What? You'd rather read than to go to Tom, Dick, or Harry's big bash this weekend? Cool! The more you read, the better you write.

4. Your mom thinks you can be immature sometimes, but that's a COMPLIMENT! Your eternal adolescent behavior will make you a pretty cool YA writer.

5. Typing does not equal exercise. Get your butt to Zumba class.

What about you all? Any 5 things you wish you would've known? Swing by Paper Hangover to check out what others have to say. :)

BTW, we're joining the lovely
Alicia, Holly, and Erinn in the Query Letter Blogfest! Join us and post your query letters on your blogs on April 19th--we'll make sure you get some valuable feedback!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What Agents Wants: The Fractured Fairy Tale

Querying Song of the Day: "Somewhere Out There" from An American Tale

What Agents Want is a new series in which we will research what trends/topics agents are looking for right now. We'll give you information on the trend/topic and the agent that is looking for this specific type of project. The better to query with, my dears.

This week we are looking to a land not so far, far away...that was horrible, but it will all make sense. We noticed that a few people are buzzing about fairy tales around the interwebs. And normal fairy tales are not what's being buzzed about--it's the FRACTURED fairy tale that's getting attention.

There are a few agents who are always looking for re-worked fairy tales. Among them is Sarah LaPolla of Curtis Brown LTD. (yes, Pam's super agent!). In fact, she recently blogged about the topic here.

So, what the heck is a fractured fairy tale?

A story that takes the fairy tales we know and love and literally "fractures" them. Some of the characters, settings, key plot points, and points of view are changed but the general story remains the same.

According to Marilyn Kinsella a fractured fairy tale is "...a fairy or other folk tale that has been modified in such a way as to make us laugh at an unexpected characterization, plot development or contrary point of view."

Of course, some fractured fairy tales are not humorous (what's so funny about a witch trying to eat two little German children??) but the point is the same as the description above--elements of the tale are changed to give a fresh spin to the material.

Go here to have fun making your own fractured fairy tale!!!

What books can I read for research? (Books that include a fractured fairy tale)

The True Story of The Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka (illustrations by Lane Smith)

Ash by Malinda Lo

Finally, tell me about the agent who is seeking fractured fairy tales!

Sarah LaPolla began working with Curtis Brown LTD in 2008 after receiving her MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. She is seeking new clients (and took on Pam this past December!!!). To query her and learn more about what she is interested in, see her page on the Curtis Brown LTD website and Querytracker.net through the links below.

For more information on Sarah LaPolla check out the following links:

Curtis Brown LTD

Glass Cases (Sarah LaPolla's blog)


Agent Interview: Sarah LaPolla on our blog

Agent Interview: Sarah LaPolla on Janet Johnson's blog

Agent Wishlist: Sarah LaPolla

**DISCLAIMER** We are BY NO MEANS telling anyone to follow trends or try to hurry and write novels based on these features. This is for people who have written, or have been thinking about writing, on the topic presented.

Did you know about fractured fairy tales before reading this post? Or better yet, have you already started a WIP in this genre???

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

RTW: In Which We See the Future

Fortune Telling Song of the Day: "Fortune Faded" by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers

After a crappy week, we love the fun of participating in YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday's. This week's definitely no exception--crappy week overload, actually. But, let's put that aside and discuss this week's topic:

Assuming we make it through the 2012 apocalypse, what do you imagine the publishing world will look like 100 years from now?

100 years from now we'd like to think that book publishing would still exist. And because of this wish, we see publishing going in the direction of one of the following two options:

1.) Humans have lost ALL desire to read books. The select few (hopefully our ancestors and the ancestors of our bloggy friends who love to read/write) will preserve special hard copies of books and collect the rare ones that are still printed. The others (you know the people who DON'T read and write)will refuse to read books. Books will be transcribed into two hour movies or a collection of quick images.

2.) Books are now programmed into tiny computer chips lodged in our brains. The chips will be implanted and we will have to plug ourselves into a digital library to download the books that we want. The books will then "play" in our brains and we will see images and the text through our new mega brain power.

Hmmm, # 2 sounds pretty awesome actually. What do you all think publishing will be like 100 years from now??

Monday, April 4, 2011

We Answer YOUR Questions

Q & A Song of the Day: "Question Existing" by Rihanna

We asked and you...well, asked. Last week, we opened up the comments for any burning questions you may have for us. Why? Well, we've been blogging together for almost a year and we wanted you to get to know us a little better. Oh, and we also had no clue what to blog about today, but that's besides the point! Let the Q & A begin...

Alicia Gregoire wanted to know...why did we choose a picture with Elmo last week? Well, to give you nightmares, darling, of course. :)

Tracey Neithercott had two questions:

1. Is there ever a bad time to use a Charlie Sheen quote? Hmm, we would suggest using them sparingly...or Chris Brown may get mad and throw a chair out of a window. Sorry, we couldn't resist. We think they're BOTH jerks.

2. What's your writing process like?
Pam's Answer: Slow and steady wins the race. Yes, I am an EXTREMELY slow first drafter. In fact, I was surprised that I actually "won" NaNoWriMo last year. Usually I plot a little, then write. Then whine. Plot a little, write, whine. And so forth, and so forth. I'm a perfectionist and I fight everyday to turn off the dreaded internal editor. However, I find it productive for me to set goals for myself--like finish a chapter/scene a day--or finish 3 chapters by the end of the week. Oh, and my muse always seems to attack me while I'm at the day job. Shh, don't tell.

Quita's Answer: I basically plot a little bit, then I write...then I change some of the plot based on what I wrote. Then I finish it and let Pam read it before revising and sending it to other beta readers. Simple. (and now Pam's wringing my neck).

Abby Stevens wanted to know some tips and tricks we learned at the CNU Writers' Conference.

Well, we sat in our one of our favorite sessions at ANY conference--and that's the First Page Critiques. Here's some tips based off that panel (which featured Michelle Wolfson and Mitchell Waters):

  • Sentences don't need 3 adjectives

  • Do NOT ask rhetorical questions

  • Do NOT use intense verbs in rapid succession (pounding, pummeling, etc.)

  • Read the story aloud--or, even better, have someone read it aloud to you

  • "Telling" is sometimes okay on the first page, but make sure to transition to action soon

  • Put the readers inside of the story
There, those were the basics. Oh, and Michelle Wolfson also mentioned that when pitching (whether in person or through a query), try to make it as conversational as possible.

Jamie (he's a guy, btw) also had 2 questions:

1. For Pam, how did you know your WIP was ready for agent queries? How did you know it was good enough?
Confession time: I didn't know my WIP was ready when I first started querying almost 2 years ago. In fact (gulp), I even started querying even before I was completely finished. I know...the horror. Needless to say, an awesome agent ended up asking for a full--which means that I had to spend a week actually finishing the manuscript (and if you read my response on the writing process, you know this was quite painful for me).

Thankfully, that agent didn't just laugh in my face. She rejected, gave me great feedback, and opened the floor to send me the revised version (note--this was NOT my awesome agent, Sarah LaPolla). So, I stopped querying, incorporated her feedback, and sent it off to some beta writers. Then I revised again, attended workshops, revised again, got a revise and resubmit request from Sarah, revised again...then months later, magic happened. As you can see, LOTS of work. I highly recommend actually having a completed manuscript before querying. Scratch that, have a completed manuscript that's been butchered with a red pen by at least 3 awesome beta readers. :)

2. Why didn't we invite him to the conference? Oh, Jamie. We will roll out the red carpet for you at the next conference we attend--especially since you're about to be a published author, you rock star, you. :)

So, that was fun--we need to do this again. But let's get to know you all better, lovelies. What do you think is the best book to read during the summer (we'd love the recommendations!)?