Friday, August 31, 2012

Review: With Every Letter

I love Sarah Sundin. I just do. I love who she is, how she encourages writers toward their dreams of publication. I love what she does. She writes stories of flawed people. Humans who aren't perfect, who struggle, who question life, and who desire companionship and love. And I love that Revell keeps buying her books so that we can keep reading them. :)

Upon receiving the advance reader's copy of Sarah's new book, With Every Letter, I took a picture and sent it to my mom and my niece. They too are fans of hers. They each pleaded for the book, but they had to wait their turns. I read it in a few days (which is amazing for a slow reader like me). And needless to say, the day after I finished the book, my mom and niece were literally wrestling for it. There was a race and then a chase on foot, which led to a not so loving embrace, flailing arms, and ultimately a winner. I'd love to show you pictures, but I think it may mortify a couple people.

Sarah Sundin writes about love during WWII and this particular story is about a flight nurse and an Army engineer. I had fun reading about the nurse, Mellie, because in some ways I related to her. She is a shy introvert who has a hard time making friends and puts her foot in her mouth whenever the opportunity for friendship arises. Throughout the book, Mellie learns what being herself really looks like. She learns more than that, but I can't just give these things away. ;)

With Every Letter flows well. The story has a quick pace, and yet you really get a sense of who each character truly is. Before you know it, your emotions become entangled in the feelings of the characters, and if you're like me, you find yourself crying along with them as well as cheering for them.

If you enjoy historical fiction, I would encourage you to read With Every Letter.

Want to know more about it? Click here to buy it. Click here to add it to your Goodreads. Click here to visit Sarah's webpage.    

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kiss Summer Goodbye!

My dog, Squeakers, howling as I drove to the family reunion.

I have elementary-aged children. Yes, I smile as I write this because the first day of school is inching closer and closer. And we have a celebratory tradition in my house. Every summer, as the kids' break is dwindling to its end, we do Summer Blowout Week. Yup, it's always the week before school starts, and it's always fun. Basically we have a summer activity planned for everyday of the week. Here's this year's schedule:

Sunday: family reunion

Monday: playing with cousins, snack time at a small town bakery, hanging at the park.

Tuesday: hanging at the movie theater eating candy.

Wednesday: swimming at the local pool.

Thursday: baking lots of yummy treats for their new teachers, and of course for themselves too. (I realize this is not technically a summer activity, but it's what they wanted to do).

Friday: special secret family event in which happy tears will be shed and a celebratory lunch will be enjoyed.

Saturday: cousin's wedding, yummy food and dancing. 

Sunday: family trip (with family friends) to San Juan Island for sight-seeing and whale watching.

Yeah, now you know why we call it Summer Blowout Week! 

And then, once school starts back up again and the house is quiet and I'm able to crawl into my character's skin without interruption, I get to resume writing! I am beyond excited about this! 

And guess what else? I get to attend a conference in October. So, soon I'll map out the schedule and make plans. Super exciting. 

Yes, this fall brings good things. I just know it. 

So, what about you? What are you looking forward to this fall bringing, besides gorgeous orange leaves? What are you doing to kiss summer goodbye? 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Do You Encourage?

Over this last week, my eleven-year-old daughter has been drawing something special. My best friend recently celebrated a birthday, and my daughter wan't to draw her a gift.

See, my best friend wrote a book. And my daughter thought it'd be fun to draw the main character of that book. Because, my daughter is gifted at art.

So, throughout the week my daughter and I visited Michael's craft store to buy special color pencils and other supplies. We picked out matting and a frame to make the colors in the picture pop. And yesterday, when my friend came over, my daughter and I unveiled her work of art. My friend was touched and thankful. My daughter was encouraged.

And that got me to thinking.

As you pursue your dream, how often do you encourage your loved ones to pursue theirs?

I have heard plenty of parents tell their children they won't allow their kids to try an activity because the child will just quit. I understand teaching your child to persevere, but sometimes we must try a few things on for size before we find the activity that fits.

My oldest daughter tried ballet, horse back riding, writing, and archery. I'm sure there's more. :) But what she kept going back to, was drawing. Drawing stuck. Art fit. So, over the summer my husband and I enrolled her in art camp. She felt right at home and excelled.

As I stood in the art aisle at Michael's, watching her ooh and ah over the different types of chalks and instruction books, I thought of myself. The way I feel in a book store.

Art is where she fits. And it's my job to encourage her to pursue her dream and her passion. If you don't have children, do you have nieces or nephews? Can you think of a child you know who could use some encouragement?

Because, honestly, we all want a place where we feel like we fit. And children especially are seeking such a place.

by: My daughter. :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

WriteOnCon & A Little Sharing


Maybe it's because I'm surrounded by YA writers. Or maybe it's because these writers are just amazing. But the feedback from the WriteOnCon forums is like nothing else. Friendly. Helpful. Professional.

So, that's where I've been this last week, and I'll continue to linger on the forum until the event is over and the doors are closed.


I did want to share a little something.

Before I began writing Dark Waters, I did some research on the islands of the Pacific Northwest. I decided to create Allura's home on Friday Harbor (one of the San Juan islands), but I looked at plenty other islands in making that decision. I scoured Google earth for jagged cliffs Allura and her sisters could jump from and climb up. One island I found was Whidbey Island. On Saturday, the family went to see the place in person and WOW. Gorgeous.

I sat on a beach full of pebbles (common for beaches on the islands up here) like I'd written about. I stared at the Puget Sound. At the jetted cliffs covered in evergreens. I'd only seen these places through online pictures. These are the places Allura inhabits. And finally, I was apart of them.

It only intensified my desire to share Allura with the world. To share the islands of Washington with the world. Below are a couple pictures I took. :)

Look right

Look left

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pitch Pointers

I've never been to a writers conference. But now, my best friend has. And the night she returned home from her conference, we talked on the phone for hours. I picked her brain, asked tons of questions. And you know what she kept coming back to? This business is SO subjective.

I know, I know. The form rejections explain the same thing. So does the websites. And the books. But, when we see fellow writers receiving multiple offers of representation, a little part of us asks, is it REALLY as subjective as they say it is?

Yes. It is.

My friend told me about the first night at the conference; there was a pitch practice session. When she had decided to go, she thought the folks helping to perfect writer's pitches were fellow writers, probably of the published persuasion. But, then she walked into the room, and very quickly texted me.

There was a panel of editors and agents at the front of the room. They were the "helpers" of pitch practice. She did get up and pitch (I'm so proud of her), but that's her story to tell, not mine. But what struck her, is as the other writers pitched their work, the feedback from the professionals was all over the board. Some wanted one thing changed, some thought it was perfect, others wanted something completely different changed. And she experienced this subjective-ness all weekend long.

So, I wanted to offer that encouragement. There is no magic formula. And if she learned one thing about pitching to agents and editors (besides the fact that it's all very subjective), it's to just tell them about your book. Make sure you're not rambling, and you're behaving professionally, but other than that, tell them about your story with all the excitement and interest you'd have when sharing with a friend.

Oh, and if you're a kidLit writer, I suggest you stop by WriteOnCon. The forums are super helpful and the free online conference starts on the 14th. :)

Friday, August 3, 2012

I'm A Finalist!

I finished the rewrite of Dark Waters a few days ago, and just felt fed up with combing that ms. Tired of reading it over and over again, searching and searching. Tired of tweaking. Tired of not knowing what to do with it. And when I get so tired of my ms that I can't stand to look at it anymore, I want to delete it all. This is why I trunked my first ms, Until We Meet Again, so prematurely.

I had entered the beginning of Dark Waters in a contest called the Emerald City Opener. The winner will be announced at the conference I'll be attending in October. And the finalists get to have one-on-one pitches with the agent judges. I have been getting form rejection after form rejection, and I really needed this exposure for Dark Waters.

Yesterday the email came. Dear Author. Yup. I know those. It told me that I had NOT made it into the finals. I was out of the contest. I tried to keep my mind positive. At least I'd get a critique of my first page out of it--the judges comments. And then another email came. A form rejection letter from another agent. Okay. That was enough for one day.

I announced to my hubby that I was done with all this writing-to-get-published stuff. He smiled and shook his head. "Just give it a week," he said, "you'll get the itch again."

Well, today I opened my email to a, Dear Rachel. It contained many apologies and congratulations. Apparently there was a mix-up and I received the wrong email. I DID make it into the finals. I WILL have an agent judging my entry. And the winner will be announced at the conference.

Thus the roller-coaster. Now it's on its way up. At least for now.