Monday, July 25, 2011

Is good, enough?

I participated in a Twitter chat for #askYAed Saturday morning with some great talents in the industry.  @Literaticat (Jennifer Laughran), @EgmontGal (Elizabeth Law), and @mmanlove (Melissa Manlove), to be precise.  One is a literary agent at Andrea Brown Lit, one is a publisher at Egmont USA, and one is an editor for Chronicle Books.  I know the east coast didn’t appreciate the hot weather but it made three great industry leaders stay inside and hold a Twitter chat, so I’m just going to say… YAY for me!
Every time there’s a chat going on, I try to go against my personality and stay quiet.  I’ve heard many writers describe themselves as introverts; however, I am definitely not one of them.  Even when I try!  I know I’ll learn a ton just by reading what others ask and get answered, but somehow I cannot stay silent.  Even if I end of embarrassing myself, which I do frequently.
So, there I was reading the chat tweets and the next thing you know…  BAM!  I’ve asked a question.

I groaned inwardly, knowing that once again, I’ve either become Mr. Obvious or Mrs. Self-Promotion.  I glanced quickly at my post, and then gasped.  It wasn’t some inane comment this time.  What a shock!  Unfortunately my reasonable question about ms formats kindled a confidence in me to ask more questions.  (By the way, the formatting question was answered with:  “just type, double spaced, with a 12 sized legible font.”  In addition, they added, have the ms show your name and the title at the top of each page. – In other words, don’t over think it and there is not one wonderful format out there.)

The next question was centered on my story’s genre, Children’s chapter books.  I’d heard they are a hard sell, and so I asked if that was true.  The story I’m getting ready to query is a standalone chapter book geared toward 1st/2nd graders and promotes integrity, responsibility, and basically, character.  The responses I received were honest and I admit a little disappointing.  Children’s chapter books are a hard sell, standalones are nearly impossible because they get lost on the shelves, and kids prefer series.  In some ways I knew this and yet, it was sad to hear it spoken from true experts in the field so specifically to my questions.  They didn’t say don’t write it (which is good, ‘cause it’s already written).  They just tried to prepare me for the fact that its future is not bright. 

And of course, that got me thinking.  “But what if it’s good?”  Now, I’m not saying my story is award winning (although you never know *fingers crossed*).  But the fact is that even if it is good, it might not be enough.  Good writing, a wonderful story, etc, may not be enough to get an agent or a publisher willing to take a risk.  I completely understand the experts’ viewpoint on the Twitter chat Saturday.  If standalone chapter books are risky from a sales perspective, it’s not in their best interest to take them on.  (It is a business, afterall.)  Even if they really think the book is good.  It might not matter enough to get past the obstacles in front of it.

Wow.  So what should I do?  Of course I’ll keep writing and coming up with new stories.  Maybe even in different genres.  At the chat, I responded with a “Thank you for answering my questions.  I am near the query stage but will have my hopes based in reality.”  I am researching agents that represent my genre.  I am working on a great query letter, and I am going to hope that someone thinks my story is good enough to take the risk.

What about you?  Have you had similar experiences?  Do you think good is enough?  Or is even great, enough?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Elevator pitches and Contests, oh my!

Bree Ogden from Martin Literary Management is hosting a contest on YAtopia! 

The contest is designed to ferret out the best elevator pitch. 

It’s short, it’s exciting, and you have the chance to have your MS read by Ms. Ogden! 

However, there are rules!  Check them out here.
My internet pal Michelle Simpkins of GreenWoman blog fame, has given me an award!  Now, I know you were thinking, “What?  How could this be?  What momentous, impressive thing has Kellie done now?”   I assure you, although it’s probably hard to believe, I didn’t earn this one.  In reality Michelle stated that I was too nice not to accept. 

(How did she know that?  I’ve really got to become a tougher internet personality!)

It’s actually a very sweet and silly award.  It’s called the Seriously Cute Blogger Award and apparently has nothing to do with looks.  In order to accept I need to share five books, movies, or TV that I’ve read/watched over the last 12 months.  The hard part will be to narrow down.  Actually, that may not be too hard, I have a terrible memory!

#5.  Book  I am currently reading The Complete Guide to Editing Your Fiction by Michael Seidman.  I love his analogy that the first draft is the stone that you pulled from the quarry.  It isn’t until you chisel away at it, through revisions that it becomes the statue of David.  I’ve only begun this book, but I’ve been a little at a loss about how to edit my story, so I decided I needed help.  Like Hermione Granger, I turn to books when I want to learn.

#4.  Movie  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.  We are eagerly anticipating Part 2.  In fact, just yesterday we competed at our library’s Harry Potter Trivia Contest.  During the last competition my 8 and 10 year old ruled, coming in second place.  This time we didn’t fare as well because there were tons of competitors and they were all teenagers.  We finished a very proud 4th place and treated ourselves to ice cream to celebrate.  My husband and I wished our boys knew math as well as they knew Harry Potter!

#3.  TV  I’ve pretty much given up TV in the two months or so.  However, I did have some TV shows DVR’d that I liked that I hadn’t watched.  So this past week on vacation I watched six episodes of GLEE.  I admit it, I’m a Gleek!  I assume that when fall TV rolls around I will continue to DVR my two shows – Chuck and Glee.  Other than that, no TV is necessary in my world.

#2.  Book  The BIBLE.  Preferably the Eastern Standard Version.  It’s the closest translation to the Greek and Hebrew.  It’s this amazing non-fiction story about God and how he loved the world so much that he gave his only son (also God) to die for our sins.  The ultimate sacrifice!  And we didn’t even deserve it.  Grace at its finest.  It’s truly a great book of Good vs. Evil with Good triumphing.  If you haven’t read it, I mean really read it to understand it, I highly recommend it.

#1.  BLOGS  Do blogs count?  Because it seems like that’s most of what I’ve been reading lately.  Take a look at the Blogolicious section of my blog to find some great blogs.  There are more that I read that I haven’t added to the list yet, but here’s a starting point.

I'd like to thank the Academy....

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bloggers want to know

Meme-ilicious: My answers to my bloggy friends' questions

I don’t know who started this Meme, but DeanCRich has tagged me, so I will do my best.  One concern is that I’m supposed to tag 8 other folks but everyone I know well has been tagged.  That means I’m actually going to tag 8 people I don’t know very well which is going to throw a kink in the questions.  I will make something up (I do write fiction, after all).

If you could go back in time and relive one moment, what would it be?

My honeymoon.  We were young and in love.  (
BTW, now we’re old and in love.)  The perfection of Grand Cayman stills haunts me.  Perfect sandy beaches, a nice little city, great diving and snorkeling. The breeze blowing across our faces as we lay in the hammock watching the waves crash on the beach.  Heaven. 

If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?

Well, this is probably strange but I would go back to my firstborn’s birth and change the fact that I didn’t get an epidural.  What was I thinking?!  Oh, I know, I was in California, the land of fruits and nuts, and thought Natural was the way to go.  I just didn’t know that I wouldn’t dilate all the way and that it would take 16 hours to deliver.  Man, the boy and I were under some serious stress.  I would have changed that one small thing to make us both enjoy the birthing process a little more.

*On a side note, I didn’t get any drugs with the second kid either.  But not because I didn’t want them.  Son #2 waited until 12 days past my due date, waited for me to be induced, and then, when he realized we wanted him to come out, he shot out of there before the doctor could even arrive.   

What movie/tv character do you most resemble in personality?

Alright, um, I admit it.  I don’t watch tv or watch many movies.  I read and then read some more.  So, I don’t really have an answer.  When I was young my family said that I looked like Natalie Wood.  She was a movie star a long time ago.  From a personality perspective?  Geez, um, probably…oh, wait for it….my husband says Sandra Bullock or Sally Field.  I can be funny when I want to or serious.  What a sweet guy!!

If you could push one person off a cliff and get away with it, who would it be?

I can’t even torture my characters, so I really couldn’t push someone off of a cliff.

Name one habit you want to change in yourself.

I wish I loved to exercise.
Describe yourself in one word.


Describe the person who named you in this meme in one word.


Why do you blog? Answer in one sentence.
I wanted to build my platform as a writer and see if anyone would visit.

Who am I tagging?

Karen Lee Hallam, Tansy Ragwort, Scott Niven, KaciMari, RS Mellette, Sheena, Pete Morin, and Layinda.

Meme The Second:
Upload a picture or wall paper you are using at the moment.

Talk about a Party Pony!
This was taken at a bar in Nashville.
Are you hot?
I used to be cute. Now I look at myself and think what?!
When was the last time you ate chicken meat?

I don’t remember.  It has to be recently though, right?

The Song(s) you listened to recently?Bulls on Parade by Rage Against the Machine

What were you thinking as you were doing this?

I was thinking that I’m crazy to give up my very bad habit of constant Diet Pepsi drinking.  I’m so sad; it’s like losing a best friend.

Do you have nicknames?

My husband calls me baby or geek.

Tag eight Blogger friends.

2.  Tansy Ragwort
3.  Scott Niven
4.  KaciMari
5.  RS Mellette
6.  Sheena Mullally
7.  Pete Morin
8.  Layinda

Who’s listed as number one? 
Karen Lee Hallam.  We just met because we write for similar age groups and are looking for crit partners.

Say something about number 5. 

RS Mellette is serious about his films.

How did you get to know number 3?
He followed me on Twitter; I checked him out and followed him back.

How about number 4?

We met at Agent Query Connect.

Leave a message for number 6. 
Sheena, I don’t see you on Twitter very often so I thought you’d enjoy this chance to share on your blog.

Leave a lovey-dovey message for number 2. 

Dearest Tansy,  You’re artwork is like a whisper to my soul.  You are talented and wonderful.  Love, Me.

Do number 7 and number 8 have any similarities? 
Only that both are on AQC, I think.