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Last of the pay it forward interviews!

my words

Today is the last of the Pay It Forward Interviews.  My inteviewee today is Colleen Rowan Kosinski, who has worked harder than most people I know to get published.  To me, Colleen's tenacity has made her a success, because if there's one thing you see over and over it's "Don't give up."  Colleen is a shining example of that attitude.

Can you give us a haiku of your book?


THE SILVER CORD

Above and below
A silver cord in between
Holding on to life.

 

When will I consider myself a “real” writer? I believe I’ll be able to call myself a “real” writer when a publishing house loves my work enough to invest in publishing my novel.

Where are you on the path to publication?

I’ve been on the journey towards publication for over six years.

Six years ago I pulled out a picture book I had written in college and decided to see if I could get it published. I was so naïve. I bought a Writer’s Market book and concluded that I’d need an agent. Opening the page to agent listings, I started alphabetically. After querying two agents in the “A’s” I was offered representation. Easy, peasy.

We worked together on a few projects and almost sold one. The editor loved it but sales and marketing didn’t. Unfortunately, that agent made the decision to pursue another line of work and I was left agent-less. No problem I thought, I’d pull out the old Writer’s Market book again and find a new one. Not so easy this time.

I had so much to learn. Veered away from picture books and started writing screenplays. I actually had a producer read one of my scripts. It was too “blue” for his investors (they wanted a ‘G” rating) so he passed, but he told me he had enjoyed the script and it had made him laugh out loud.

I decided to use that script as an outline for a novel. Finished that first novel and wrote another. Then another, and another. I completed five novels. All bad, but I was learning. I joined a critique group. Went to an SCBWI conference in NY and was blown away. Kept writing. Tried again for an agent. No go. I began exchanging work with writers on line.
Wrote another book. Same thing. But the important thing was with each novel attempt I learned more about the craft.

After a trip to Ireland, I came up with a nonfiction idea that was completely different from my novel work. Queried a few agents with the idea, and had three offers of representation. I was over the moon! Worked feverishly on the new project and it almost sold, but those darn sales and marketing people nixed it. They are my nemesis.

Sadly, I found that my new agent, although she had loved my nonfiction project did not feel the same passion for my fiction work. We parted ways. I cried a lot. I’d gotten so far.

I’m hoping my current project will be “the one.” I’ve learned so much over the years. I’ve exchanged manuscripts with extremely talented writers (almost all have sold their novels), enjoyed conferences and workshops, and gotten to know so many nice people in this small world of children’s book writing. I’m hoping I’ll reach my destination of publication soon, but until then I’ll read and write every day. Writing is my passion, and I’ll never give up.

Thanks, Coll! 

You can find out more about Coll at her site and the links to other interviews by clicking on the last entry!

I hope these interviews have inspired you to keep going, regardless of where you are on this crazy road!
 

*comments have been disabled because i keep getting spam stuff. :(
eden

My third interview in this weeks Pay It Forward Interview week is with the author of My Soul to Reap, Courtney Allison Moulton.  If you read todays Publisher's Lunch, you saw her name mentioned.  Mark my words, this girl's onto something! 

So, Courtney, where's that haiku about your book...

Yeah.. this is about to go down in the Haiku Fail Hall of Fame. I don't do poetry, but I'll do this for you because I love you, L.

Reapers are awesome
But Ellie has to to kill them
'Cause they eat people.

When do you think someone becomes a "real" writer?

I've always been a firm believer in the old saying, "If you fall off the horse, get right back on" and then you're a real horseperson. That applies to writing, as well. You're a real writer once you sit back, take a good long look at your writing, and realize what about it sucks. Once you realize good writing takes many drafts and many psychotic breakdowns, then you're a real writer.

Where are you on the crazy rocky road to publication?

My debut YA urban fantasy trilogy, beginning with MY SOUL TO REAP, will be published in March 2011 from HarperCollins / Katherine Tegen Books. Hard work, dedication to becoming a better writer, and belief in yourself can get anyone this far. You have to want it bad enough to work your butt off.

Thanks, Courtney for stopping by!  You can check out more about MStR here!

You can find other author interviews ALL over the web this week by clicking this link and scrolling to the bottom!

*huge apologies for the late posting! Livejournal was being a butt earlier, and unfortunately I had to head to work...
my words

Day Two of the Pay It Forward Author Interviews!  Today we've got Tiffany Schmidt answering my 3 questions!

Can you describe your story for us in haiku form?
 
Mia had luck, once.
Cheerleading turns to chemo
Is luck made or found?
 
At what point do you think someone becomes a "real" writer?  Finishing the novel? Querying? Sale?
 
My answer to this question is tinted by my profession; I teach sixth grade during my non-writing hours. I could no more tell the kiddo who spent all weekend writing a short story, “You’re not a writer,” than I could tell his classmate who brought in her 3-on3 tournament trophy “You’re not a basketball player.”

So, with writing, when do we become “real”?  My first reaction comes from my favorite childhood book: The Velveteen Rabbit, you become real when someone loves you… but that doesn’t work so well here.
Unless… maybe it does. Maybe you become a “real” writer when you love it enough to make the sacrifices that this profession requires.

Yes, this will be my answer, Leah. You become a real writer when the idea of writing becomes real to you. When you’ve grown a thick skin, written your drawer novels, picked yourself up after the rejections, and persevered. When it stops being, “someday I’m going to write a book” and starts being (bottom+chair+words on paper) - (tv + distractions +excuses) x never, ever giving up.*

*Yes, I had to finish with a math equation. It’s the teacher in me.
 

Where are you on the road to publication and how did you get this far?

I’m just beginning my journey on the path to publication. MIA goes back to Agent Awesome this Thursday (Oh, the irony of April Fool’s Day as a deadline). After that… *shrug* 
 
The path to publication feels a lot like a video game; each step in the process is like beating another level and each level has its own challenges and demands. I don’t know what the next level looks like, because I haven’t gotten there yet. 

My journey so far has been full of highs and lows and me pretending to be patient. I was lucky enough to meet Agent Awesome in person last year, and knew right away that I would LOVE to work with him. That being said, last April he requested a full of my previous book – and passed on it. As did all the other agents who read it. Rather than give up, I put it aside and I wrote another book.

This time around I sought a support system: feedback groups, critical partners, workshops, I attended writing conferences, and, finally, I took a deep breath and jumped back into the query game. You know, the query game where you check your e-mail compulsively and then – when there is an e-mail from an agent – you're too scared to open it. That game. (It would not be very fun as video game.)

But, four months, endless e-mail refreshes, full requests, rejections, a few good cries, and many moments of panic after I started querying this book, I found myself sitting at dinner across from Joe Monti, my Agent Awesome, signing a contract.

So, I don't know what my next level looks like, whether it's another round of revisions or if I'm ready for submissions, but I do know this: There is not another game I'd rather play. Despite the waiting, the heartache, the uncertainty and the waiting, I wouldn't be ready for the unknown next step without the journey I've had so far.



Thanks for the interview, Tiffany and I can't WAIT for Lucky Mia to sell!  There are SO many other sucess stories out today! You can check them out on these blogs:

Elana Johnson

Beth Revis

Victoria Schwab


Kristen Hubbard

 Carrie Harris


Kim Harrington

Suzette Saxton and Bethany Wiggins

Amy Holder

Kathy McCullough

Tiffany Schmidt

Susan Adrian

Dawn Metcalf

Gretchen McNeil
 
Lisa and Laura Roeker (my interview will be up here later this week!)

ON TOP of all that coolness, the guest vlogger for today's YA Rebels video is Kami Garcia, co-author of Beautiful Creatures talking about what she wished she'd known before being published!

Success Stories Week

my words

So we're back from the dead on the blog!  This was just too good to pass up.  Earlier this month I was approached about doing a Pay It Forward interview chain of pre-published authors!  The idea was to show that people do make it, and even if the road gets hard, you keep going.  What a great way to spread the positive vibes!  Don't worry though, I'm not going soft.  See, this interview came with the added plus that I got to interview people, and got to write their questions.  So, I made my interviewees write their pitch in a haiku.  Seriously.  I'm cruel like that.  So without further ado, the first interview is with Gretchen McNeil, my YA Rebel buddy!





Can you describe your story for us in haiku form?
 
I hate you a little bit for this.  Just a little.
 
exorcist Bridget
banishes demons to Hell
Evil is revenged

 
At what point do you think someone becomes a "real" writer?  Finishing the novel? Querying? Sale?
 
Labels.  They suck. 
 
I think writers come in all varieties and sizes, whether you're writing copy for a radio detergent commercial or winning the Pulitzer.  But for me, the moment I thought I was a "real" writer was when I wrote "THE END" for the first time on a novel.  I set out to write a novel.  I wrote a novel.  I became a "real" writer again when I edited that novel.  Then again when I queried it.  Each step is part of the same journey, and I realize every day that as long as I'm continuing to move forward, I AM a real writer.

 
Where are you on the road to publication and how did you get this far?
 
I have a wonderful, rock star agent - Ginger Clark at Curtis Brown - and we are currently on submission.  I finished my first novel 2 and a half years ago but didn't land an agent until I started querying my second novel.  Next step?  Publication!


Thanks for the interview, Gretchen!  Her blog is here, and she posts as Monday on the vlog collab channel the YA Rebels (which btw is holding an AWESOME guest vloggers week right now!). 

My interview will be up on Lisa and Laura Roeker's blog  later this week, but there are MANY others participating and sharing success stories!  You can check them out here:

Elana Johnson
Beth Revis
Victoria Schwab
Kristen Hubbard
Carrie Harris
Kim Harrington
Suzette Saxton and Bethany Wiggins
Amy Holder
Kathy McCullough
Tiffany Schmidt
Susan Adrian
Dawn Metcalf
Gretchen McNeil
 


Moving on....

eden
Well, I guess I kind of abandoned this blog, which bums me out. But between facebook and twitter, most of the people who were reading this saw what I was up to pretty much constantly.  With the ads on here now, I'm just not into it.  I may switch to wordpress in the future, but for now, I'm concentrating on vlogging.  You can find me here. And as of January 4th, I'll be doing weekly vlogs on the YA Rebels channel on youtube, which is a collab project between 7 YA writers, all with agents, some with publishing deals.  We're gonna be talking about edgier topics but still having a blast doing it. First month topics include Writer Caves, Blanket Forts and Smex.  Subscribe if you head over there....could get interesting. Otherwise, I'm on twitter and facebook. Stalk away!

#Amazonfail…the bigger picture!

blue skull

Dear fellow writers:

This Easter Sunday, the Twitterverse was inundated with backlash over the #amazonfail, which, if you’ve been living under a rock, is a “glitch” (Amazon’s term) that removed books with LGBT themes from their rankings and filed them under adult content.  Basically, they’re saying if you’re looking for a book, you’d be better off handing pornstar Ron Jeremy’s biography to your child than the picture book Heather Has Two Mommies.  Yes, this is terrible.  Yes, I feel it’s appalling.  Even worse is the BIG PICTURE. 

Clearly, this is an evil plot by Amazon to STOP ALL WRITERS FROM WRITING.  That’s right people, Amazon is plotting to kill the future of literature.  Take a look at the number of livejournals, twitter posts and other mentions of #amazonfail made on writing blogs.  That’s not even taking into account the time spent hitting refresh for the latest.  How many collective writing hours were lost?  How many story ideas were pushed to the back burner, only to be forgotten in light of the news that #amazonfail made EW??  (no seriously, check out the link here!)  And it’s not just the writers…  Agents didn’t get around to reading query letters.   Editors pushed aside the latest submission, eagerly watching the rise of the googlebomb as hatched by Smart Bitches, Trashy Books! 

Sure, it seems innocent now.  Fighting the good fight, standing up for what one believes in.  But what happens in three months, when authors don’t have their next novel ready by deadline.  Publishing dates will be pushed back.  If you’re on submission, by the time your agent gets around to sending out your novel, editors will have already found that “book we’ve just purchased that would be a competing title so regretfully we must pass.” A book written by someone NOT watching the #amazonfail…a supporter of the Man (or Woman…or two women, or two men).  Pretty soon, all supporters of #amazonfail will be back on the Ramen, wondering where it all went wrong.  Soon, it’ll come down to feeding the kids or shutting off the internet.  No more interwebs means no more voice.  It’ll only be a matter of time before any resistance loses steam and the evil that is the Amazon ranking system takes over .    Ah, the power of distraction to decimate those against you….well played, Amazon.

(Clearly this is satire…but seriously people, WRITE! I’m waiting to buy your books Amazon Ranking or no!)

Reasons I Haven't Blogged in a Month....

new me

Two truths and a lie version...

1.  I worked 60+ hours at the job of awesome this week alone....combined with the 8 hours last week, that means i'll be getting almost a double check from what I'm used to.  I'm thinking about getting another tattoo of a ten letter word tattooed with some of the extra (Please leave cool ten letter word suggestions and definitions in the comments!  My first word was Stentorian, so that one's already taken.)

2. I dropped into a coma trying to read the first page of War and Peace.  It took almost a month to come out of it...

3. I spent the last month falling in love and being fallen in love with.  It's amazing and only going to get better!

So which one's the lie????  ;) 

PS. I'm sorry guys...I totally have been AWOL.  I really have had a lot going on, and unfortunately I can't promise it's going to get any better, but I CAN promise I'll try to blog at least once a week and update when I can.  Thanks especially to onegrapeshy for the nudge!  What's been up with everyone?

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

blue skull
So there I was in the middle of Borders on Thursday, wandering through the YA section when my eyes darted up.  Hey, says brain.  You know that cover.  And I do.  It's a cover I've seen and loved for what seems like forEVER waiting for the book to come out.  A cover who's contents weren't even supposed to BE out til Tuesday.  It was The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.  It took a moment for my hands to acknowledge what my brain was telling me "IT'S THERE IT'S THERE!!! GRAB. ITTTTTTT!!!!" which I promptly did, with a loud "SQUEEEEEE" audible all the way over in Poetry, beyond Travels.  I made it even worse when I added, "Ohmygodforestofhandsandteeth!" reverently and to no one in particular.  I then stood there clutching the book with the kind of smile I only use when something totally joyous has occurred, the one that usually scares my friends.  The smile faded.  This book, it wasn't supposed to be out yet.  What if they tried to take it back? 

I watched the cashier, trying to gauge the distance from the counter to the door in seconds.  If she tried to take it back, could I snag the book and just send carrie_ryan</lj> a check?  But then it happened....  Borders clerk?  She HANDED. ME. THE. BOOK!!! I did kind of a side step wary shuffle (zombiesqe?) to the doors, waiting to be ambushed by security.  I opened the door, paused...nothing.  Huzzah! Early copy of FHT was MINE!!! 

I was very pleased with my restraint.  I made it all the way to the car before I cracked it open...yanno, just a few sentences while I turned the key and sipped my coffee and got ready to drive. 

....and here's where things get strange.  You know how there are those people on the weird scifi shows that talk about aliens and losing time?  I get them now.  Because I opened the book, started to read and the next thing I remembered thinking was "Wow, it's hot in here."  By that point I was on Chapter 4.  With my car idling.  In the parking lot of the bookstore

That's pretty much how the rest of the book went.  I'd sit down for "just a chapter" and wind up devouring fifty pages. I sat down to eat, looked at the clock and thought "You can read til 8 then back to work."  It was about quarter til.  A "few minutes later" I looked up at the clock.  Still about quarter til 8.  Did I find it odd?  Nope.  I went right back to reading.  It was quite awhile, and my third check of the clock when I realized it was impossible that I'd read that long and no time had passed.  Check clock again....still quarter til 8...but the second hand was doing that little bouncy stuck thing.  Real time?  9:30pm.  OUCH.  Of course by this time there was no escaping.  I COULD NOT put the book down.  I HAD to find out what happened to Mary, what  the deal was with the Sisters...and the Unconsecrated.  

Guys, you have to read this.  I actually had nightmares.  The good kind that wake you up terrified and checking shadows and listening for zombie moans.    With all the hype I was worried it wouldn't live up, but Carrie not only delivered on a wonderful read, her world was so well written it left me with nightmares. This book, in short, ROCKED my socks.  Well done, Carrie!!

If you need MORE convincing (srsly??) check out her awesome book trailer:


The Whole #queryfail thing...

dog ate ms
is not something I'm going to take sides on, but here's the deal.  Me and a few others have gotten together and are doing a weekend wordathon.  Kind of the anti-queryfail...a little something positive, because new words make everyone happy right?  If you want to participate, I'm at www.twitter.com/leahclifford or you can search for #wordathon.  It runs through Sunday at 6pm!  Spread the word and see you there!

Wrapping Up The Darkness...

my words

So...voodoo, darkness, demons...rocks fall, everyone dies?  The QT Blog Chain was started by yours truly here, so follow the link to read through the answers to:

What do you do to amp up the conflict?  What pins do you stick in the little voodoo dolls?  How do you torture your characters??? 

I promised at the start of this to answer my own question, but now that I'm here?  It's no easy thing.    Mary said that character torture is like slowing down to look at car wrecks, which, I have to admit, I do.  Be honest, do you?  And if you're the type to look away...what else does that say about you? The answers were so varied-- Abi used torture to create layers, Michelle shot first and asked questions later, Elana wondered if she tortured her characters ENOUGH, and Heather gave her characters "the final blow to light the powder keg."  Jess said she didn't consciously torture them...which makes me wonder what her unconscious is planning without her knowledge ;)  Kat tries to make them their own worst enemy, to which I can relate.  Terri worries about her "social filter" (Terri needs to read The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things by JT Leroy...after that her fears will be permanently set to rest).  Everyone had a great answer, but no one seemed to answer the question how I wanted... and to be honest, I'm not sure quite what I wanted to hear. I thought maybe if I had everyone else answer it first, it would help me out, give me some direction. Maybe that's why I didn't answer it myself.  I wanted to see where it would go. 

*Enter long pause*   

Maybe that's it?  Is that why I torture my characters? To see where it will go?  How far they'll go before they break?  How far *I* can go before I break FOR them?  Kate's post quoted a poem by Stephen Crane, which I'm going to repost here, because I think it hits close to what I was going for....

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said: "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter-bitter," he answered;
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart."

-Stephen Crane

"And because it is my heart."...how much of ourselves do we put in our writing?  How many of our fears end up on the page? Not being rescued in time (as Archy pointed out).  Not being saved.  What happens after?  How do you go on? How much of that world you put on the page is a mirror? 

I also got some great quotes from everyone.  Christine said, "The journey my characters take as they confront the shadows in themselves helps them become conscious."  But my favorite is from Sandra.  "The wounds that I give them will remake them."  The question is, how?  Are they whole now ,made stronger, or are they monsters, missing parts and sewn on bits found along the way--reshaped by what's been done in the past.  Both are beautiful, but I gravitate towards the flawed ones.  The ones that can't ever be fully fixed, because they are missing the parts that would make them whole.  And I think that's how I torture my characters.  I break them down.  I make them almost unfixable, and then I try to show them that the parts they're missing can be found in others.  And I wait to see if they will seek them out.

I must say, if anything, the answers have forced ME to stretch.  Interesting things in the darkness.  That's for sure. 

Next Blog Chain goes to HL Dyer

Also, before I go, I wanted to say thank you so much to everyone for the congrats.  You've been there for me so much in the past (wow...has it been years?  YEARS plural?  Really?) and understood me in ways others just couldn't.  I love you guys.

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eden
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