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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

First blurbs for Tokyo Heist!

Yesterday I hit another great milestone in the publishing process. My first two blurbs came in for TOKYO HEIST! Blurbs, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, are brief comments about your book from Established Authors. They usually appear on the back cover of the book, and may also show up on the publisher's website or in their catalog. Authors, editors, and agents can ask Established Authors for blurbs and send these early readers galleys (advanced copies) of the book in the hope of getting a quote. Then we hope that the Established Authors will read and blurb the book, maybe while taking a short break from writing their next book -- we know they're really busy!

I am so grateful to receive these first blurbs, especially in the busy holiday season, from two YA authors I profoundly admire. They are from Kirsten Miller, whose exciting KIKI STRIKE series is a favorite mystery/adventure series of mine, and Linda Gerber, who wrote one of my favorite Seattle-based mysteries, DEATH BY LATTE. (This is part of a DEATH BY . . .  series -- the whole series is great! But as a Seattle girl, I'm partial to Book Two). I'm in awe of the talents of both of these versatile writers, and I couldn't be happier to receive their enthusiastic endorsements of TOKYO HEIST.

And here they are!

From Kirsten Miller:
"Fly to the coolest city on earth. Hunt for a missing masterpiece. Battle tattooed gangsters while rocking a kimono. And don’t forget to try the shibazuke. Adventures don’t get any more thrilling than Tokyo Heist. You’ll want to jump right inside this book and live it."

From Linda Gerber:
"Hidden paintings, yakuza assassins, vivid settings, artful intrigue, and a taste of manga make Tokyo Heist an absorbing tale mystery readers will love."

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Monday, November 21, 2011

NaNoNoteMo?

There are nine days left of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). "Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!" always sounds so great, as does the goal of hitting a 50k word count in a month. I've been following my writer friends' progress this month with complete awe. They battle in #wordwars on Twitter. They report astonishing numbers. They neglect personal hygiene. They abandon spouses, children, pets.

I'm not actively participating in this writing marathon. That's partly because my work in progress was already in progress, which violates one of the challenge's rules. And partly because I knew that I wouldn't hit that word count; life with a preschooler (who spent much of this month felled by various colds and maladies) is too unpredictable to schedule such vast swaths of writing time. I didn't want to set myself up for failure.

But I love the concept of NaNoWriMo because it makes me aware of the many people who are busily working on stories at this time. Like winds that turn brisk in late fall, I feel the energy of fingers flying across keyboards and notebooks. There must be some kind of global energy surge with so many people churning out words. I get just enough of a charge to push my work in progress along that much more.

Instead of churning out lots of pages in a Word document, I took some time this month to step back and rechart the course of my novel. I retreated. I did a lot of thinking and brainstorming in longhand, in a notebook. I keep a journal for every writing project, and in this novel-in-progress, I'm already on my third. This month, I filled up one entire notebook with outlines, scene notes, character profiles, problem-solving strategies, what-ifs, and random ideas. Notes, notes, and more notes. Many of these pages were written in the semi-darkness, as soon as I woke up. Ah, five a.m., a rare and enchanted time when I can think without distractions and interruptions.

It occurred to me, if I added up all those scrawled words, I might have actually hit the word count goal for NaNoWriMo! But I'm not counting. The pages aren't coherent. The sustained, focused, daily brainstorming  helped me refocus and develop the story. I was able to solve some problems, avoid some land mines that were in my path, and chart a better course. I plunged back in, rewrote, wrote some more, and offered up three chapters to my trusty writing group, always my first readers.

Those were my November goals: refocus, develop, and get something readable together for my writing group. I hit my benchmarks, so I guess I "won," even though I didn't finish 50,000 words of a completely new work. And hey, the month's not even over. What more can I do in nine days?

Now I just need a name for my own private November writing challenge. NaNoNoteMo? NaNoThinkMo? NaNoMuseMo? . . . .

Are you doing NaNoWriMo? What are your writing benchmarks? When do you feel you've "won" a writing challenge?

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Debut Author Challenge 2012

Planning your reading list for next year? Are you participating in the Debut Author Challenge 2012? Kristi at The Story Siren blog has just posted the guidelines. In a nutshell: between January 1, 2013 and January 31, 2013, you commit to reading at least 12 Young Adult or Middle Grade books by debut authors. There is an ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) tour for selected titles -- a great option if you like to read books before they officially come out, or if you can't buy all the books. There are also mini-challenges by genre, giveaways, and other incentives to read great new books. Many book bloggers participate and help to host this challenge, but you don't have to have a book blog to get involved. The Story Siren has PDF lists of all the debuts next year, and you can also find 2012 lists on GoodReads.

I'm really thrilled and honored to see that TOKYO HEIST has already made it onto some people's reading lists for the reading challenge, and I plan to donate a copy for the ARC tour.

Now I have a problem -- I want to read every book coming out next year! How do you choose??

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