Friday, July 29, 2011

Don't forget to Follow for a chance to win Banana Split Pizza and Other Snack Recipes!

Aaaaahhh! Revisions!!

I've been emailing an editor, waiting for revisions, and she responded today. My first reaction: I sort of wish I hadn't asked!

I always feel this way when revisions come back to me. I have this initial sense that the revisions are too difficult somehow. There's too much to do or the editor's questions are questions that seem impossible to answer.

This is where I used to go wrong. I'd jump right in, or maybe email the editor back right away.

I hope those editors didn't sense my panic. Because the feeling goes away. It dissapates if you just wait a few days. Whenever I reread an editor's comments after taking that time, I discover the work I'm facing isn't so involved after all. It's manageable. It's just a matter of breaking it down and addressing each comment one by one.

This is a lesson I've learned over the years, yet for some strange reason, I always have to suffer through that moment of panic anyway. Maybe I'll get over that part of it... someday!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Lesson From Party of Five

Remember that show Party of Five? Oh, my God - that was such a good show! Remember the one where Claudia gave up playing violin? Remember when Charlie wrecked his relationship with Kirsten? Didn't he leave her at the altar? I couldn't believe that!

But I digress.

The reason I'm bringing up this show in the first place actually has something to do with writing. And jealousy. Yes, I'm ashamed to admit I suffer from a serious attack of author envy whenever I perceive that some other writer has already achieved what I'm working toward. When this happens I:

1. want to read the author's book, but stall instead. What if it's better than anything I could ever write? What if it's not?

2. research the author's age and background. Let's just hope the author is much older than I am, and has paid plenty of dues (ie. more dues than I have paid to date).

3. dig up the author's hometown in the process of researching. Let's just hope the author lives far away, so I can imagine he or she achieved greatness with some geographical advantages I simply don't have.

Looking over this list, it's clear my jealous feelings actually stem from insecurity. I'm looking for excuses, reasons why it might make sense if I never achieve my goals. Jealousy is silly. Ridiculous. Self-defeating.

But I'm not a lost case. Because there's also...

4. think back to that episode of Party of Five, where Bailey was jealous of his girlfriend Sarah's success. I forget what she was doing - acting? voiceovers? singing? - but the point was, she didn't have a lot of free time for Bailey anymore. And when he got on her case about it, she told him off. The gist of it was something like, "Don't sit around being jealous. Do something to make your own life better. Do something to get what you want."

And that's the part to really remember when you're a writer with goals.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

It's Over!

My first book signing, that is. It was nerve-wracking - more so than Pitchapalooza, which is saying a lot. But it only felt like that for the first few minutes, while I was setting up. Once people started coming, it was a lot of fun.

And people did come - from near and far! I think it helped that I emailed everyone I knew, put it on Facebook, sent reminders the day of, sent out press releases, got the event on some local calendars, and got an article in The Spotlight Newspaper. (It's not online, but thanks reporter Andrew Beam!)

It was weird and exhilarating and validating to have people see my books, buy my books and ask me to sign my books. I probably should have done this a long time ago.

So now, today, there's a little feeling of let down. It's over. But not for long. I've got other books in the works, and when they come out I won't wait so long to promote them. More book signings are definitely in my future.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Book Signing Tomorrow!

A few days ago, I started freaking out about my book signing (at The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, tomorrow at 3 p.m. - be there!) Then, I started preparing. Here's what I'm bringing with me:

1. A framed sign with my picture on it that explains if I'm not seated at the table, I'm out working the room.

2. Slips of paper visitors can fill out for a drawing to win a free book.

3. A container to hold said slips of paper.

4. A sheet of paper that asks people to follow my blog.

5. Business cards that tell people my blog address, email address and cell number (I'm still skeptical about that last one, but whatever).

6. Information to explain how my books were structured and the sources I used to write my books (since they're nonfiction).

7. A sign up sheet for young readers who'd be interested in reading and critiquing my middle grade novel (my next project).

8. A small framed page offering a synopsis of my book.

9. Information about my background and previously published books.

10. Scissors, paper, pens, tape, and a clipboard - just in case.

11. Refreshments of some sort TBD.

Preparing for this has made it more fun than nerve-wracking. I'm excited!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Let’s Get Back to Pitchapalooza!

I’ve written about Pitchapalooza before, but I haven’t covered the most important piece: How I prepared. I want to get back to that because I think it could be useful information for anyone who’s planning to attend in the future. And here’s the schedule of upcoming events by the way.

The minute I learned about a Pitchapalooza event within driving distance of my hometown, I knew I had to go. I was terrified, but it was as if knowing the opportunity existed left me no choice. Since I was stuck, I decided to prepare as much as possible, to avoid making a complete fool of myself. I’d read that Pitchapalooza was like American Idol without Simon, but I was skeptical. If there happened to be any Simon-like comments made, I wanted to be sure they weren’t directed at me.

So first I wrote my pitch. It was boring, rambling and made me realize I didn’t even have a handle on the book I was writing. This was not discouraging, but rather useful information. Next, I revised my pitch. And revised. And revised. And revised.

Now I was getting somewhere. But I was still nervous about delivering this pitch before a live audience of agents and publishing experts. I decided I needed to know more about Pitchapalooza. There had to be something on the Internet that would reassure me I wasn’t setting myself up for a verbal massacre.

Lo and behold, the Internet delivered! Go to YouTube and search for Pitchapalooza and you can get a preview of exactly what to expect at an event. They’re not all filmed, however, so you don’t have to freak out that live pitching means not only standing before an audience but also that you’ll be viewed internationally for years to come.

YouTube was useful and reassuring. But I wasn’t satisfied yet. I had specific questions about how to craft my pitch. How important was it to state my title? Should I give away the ending? I continued my Internet research and came up with this gem on The Book Doctors' website. Every question I had was answered in the comments on these 25 pitches. (Side note: You can also get these answers in… the book! Yes, The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published outlines how to write a pitch. But I was waiting to buy the book at the event, since it would come with a free consultation!)

After completing my research, I revised some more. And practiced out loud. And timed myself. And revised so endlessly that the revision process was not fully completed until minutes before I delivered my pitch. I wrote my new first line as an audience member and when I was next to go, I stood behind some bookshelves whispering the pitch so I wouldn’t stumble over my freshly written material.

The reward for all this work on a one-minute pitch? I was not “Simonized” (really, no one was) and I even came out a winner at the event. The lesson: Be prepared! You can't control everything when you put yourself and your ideas out there. You certainly can't control the panel's opinion of your book. But you can control how well you prepare. Take care of that piece, and you'll have the confidence to stand and deliver your best pitch.

Friday, July 1, 2011

What I've Been Up to This Week (This Concerns YOU!)

Well, it's been a busy week. I'm going to tell you about it because my busy week isn't really all about me. There's info in here for you, too!

I suddenly realized if I wanted to apply to the Rutgers One-On-One Plus program, I'd better get to finishing the application. This is an amazing opportunity I learned about at the Who's the Seuss? workshop I mentioned previously. About 70 to 80 applicants are selected for this one-day mentoring program in October, which matches writers with editors, agents, experienced writers and other publishing professionals. The deadline, alas, was today. But I'm telling you this so you can plan ahead for next year!

Monday through Thursday
Intense writing and revision to meet my (mostly self-imposed) deadline.

Gave an interview about my writing to a local weekly called The Spotlight. I'm excited because it's publicity for my upcoming book signing and I know people really do read this paper. I'm scared because I don't know what the article is going to say. Very strange to be on the other side of an interview.  I could have been better prepared. I gave the interview off the cuff knowing I had extremely limited time. I didn't want to risk missing my chance altogether. I think I made up for it by mulling over some of the questions later and emailing the reporter some "better quotes." People used to do this all the time to me when I was a reporter, and I always used the new stuff because it was thought out and just plain better. So there's a tip if you ever feel nervous after an interview.

More on the importance of preparing later. Happy weekend!