Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Star Alert: Elana Roth

So I've been reading agent blogs, lots of them. It's a great way to get a feel for someone. It's why I'm spending more time on mine (or trying to). Some folks keep more than one blog. How they do it is beyond me. I would have thought blogging would be a breeze for me, but it's not. I'm stunned at how boring I sound sometimes. Others couldn't do boring on their blandest day on earth. Oh, do I admire them.

The best agent blog entry I've read is by Elizabeth Evans. Her 6/19/09 entry on the Kimberley Cameron website is a blogging masterpiece imo. The Plunge. It's got it all, form, substance, funny lines, the whole package. I wonder how long it took her to write? She couldn't have come up with that off the top of her head, no way. "Resistance is futile," I can't wait to meet her at a conference one day and use that on her.

Finally, I've found an equally gifted agent blogger, Elana Roth. Talk about smart and interesting. Elana has good instincts and has no problem sharing her thoughts. I like what she says about storytelling. She's certainly one to watch.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

SCBWI Readings

Yesterday, I went to my first SCBWI event. Cynthia Omololu and Heidi Kling talked about their debut books DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS and SEA. It was worthwhile. I'm halfway through SECRETS and find the writing and story impressive. Great details so far. I asked the writers what marketing strategies have worked well for them. They said Twitter has become an essential marketing tool, their blogs have generated lots of attention, and bookmarks are simple and essential to the promotion of any book. I was one of only two men in attendence. The 24 other attendees were women. Wow. That's quite a ratio. I think I'm going to like SCBWI events. Cynthia used a PowerPoint slideshow to illustrate the points she was making during her opening remarks. That's a good idea. Both mentioned the supportive, encouraging nature of the YA community. I'm heard that several times now. I like it. I'm really looking forward to LA in August. I suspect that event will be more fun than I can imagine. I do like talking shop. After the reading, I went to Rossana's for her birthday and met a writer named Nathan. We talked about writing, films and teaching for at least an hour.

Week in Review

Yesterday, I played outdoor racquetball for the first time at Pleasanton with a few E-Force players and Angela Grisar. Kenny, Mark, Melissa, Elaine and I played from 10-1. Lots of fun. The ball does some crazy things coming off 12 inches of cement, and with no ceiling shots and no back wall, keeping a ball at chest level actually makes for a difficult return. A fun game. The red ball is tough for me to see, but by the end of the day I was getting used to it. Thanks, Kenny, for the invite. I'm really going to enjoy my E-Force sponsorship this year. I'm motivated to participate more in tournaments and conduct some clinics with Rod. Perhaps I can shoot for State Championships next spring in the A division.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mad Men Kinda Week

Got to show off my PowerPoint skills at work today with a revised presentation for an attorney. She had a 50-slide presentation on Sexual Harassment that she shows every two years. She wanted a new look for her slideshow, and thank goodness for that because what she had was clownish, clunky, and just plain bad. I deleted all the random graphics and replaced them with images from Mad Men. I love the irony of using Mad Men characters to educate supervisors on the do's and dont's of Sexual Harassment in the workplace. I haven't created a PowerPoint slideshow in a while, but this one put my right back in the game.

I emailed seven queries today using my newly revised query letter. Let's see if I get any takers. I can see why this query is so much stronger than the last one I used. I was 0-14 on the last one, so I certainly can't do any worse. At least I'm improving (hopefully).

Talked to Chris tonight for 90 minutes. The longterm goal is getting a script sold and made into a movie. Deja Bride, Grandudes, Botticelli Girl or RetroTherapy, one of these scripts must be sold soon. I want that to happen more than anything.

Annabelle, an Algonkian writer, was the first to finish Julia Milan. She really liked it a lot and her comments made me smile. The ending totally worked for her...yippie!

I'm going to be an E-Force Sponsored Racquetball player. How awesome is that! I love E-Force racquets and look forward to a longlasting relationship with them.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Designs

I just spent the last 30 minutes playing with my blog designs. How fun. What a busy week. Monday I played racquetball from 5-7, worked from 10-7, then played my first match of the summer league, taking care of Fabio 15-2, 15-5 (sweet) and playing Tyrone 3 games before coming home at 11. Tuesday I got up early and spent an hour on the computer, worked from 10-5:30, went to Ari's graduation, had dinner at the Boathouse with the Youngs and Rossana, arrived home close to midnight, then fell asleep. Wednesday I woke up at 7:30, spent an hour at the computer, worked from 10-7, played poker with Craig & Co. until midnight (came in fifth --ugh!), then went to bed around 1. This morning I woke up at 8, went to work from 10-7, then came home and relaxed. I can't sustain this routine indefinitely when there's so much to do!

I have a lot to read. I'd like to finish Sara's two manuscripts, post a few agent sites for the Algonkian guys, collect a few more agent names to query, and take care of the rest of my to-do list. I'd also like to finish the Nick Hornby and Richard Russo books. No time though. Ugh!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Reading Blogs

I'm amazed at all the reading blogs there are by readers who seem to do nothing but read (and blog!). I wonder how many writers use these readers/reviewers to get the word out about their own books. Some of these blogs have a strong followings. These blogs also list all the books out there, and wow are there a lot of books floating around, books I've never heard of by writers I've never heard of. I really do need to educate myself. So far in my YA reading, Suzzane Collins is the best writer I've come across. No one else has come close, though Rick Riordan is very clear and funny. I requested "Dirty Little Secrets" from the library. Catherine's neighbor Aaron mentioned it to me and it sounds very interesting (about a girl whose mother, a hoarder, is found dead and is too ashamed to call 911). I'm realizing I have so much to do before the conference in LA, so much to prepare for and think about. I'm excited about the future!

Sunday, June 6, 2010


I made the last of my edits to "Julia Milan and the Chapel of the Chimes" and it's ready for agents' eyes. I feel the manuscript is strong. I'd like to bring one last layer of research to the Snow scenes, but aside from that, this story is ready to read. My thanks to all my readers who helped me get this book in shape. I see a bright future for this series. It's late and I'm tired, but it feels good adding those necessary changes to the final chapter.

Writing for the Masses

I had dinner last night with a writer who wrote a book in diary form. She has an agent (Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Lit) who submitted the manuscript to 17 editors. I asked what the responses were. Not enough action, apparently, and too quiet. From the description of the book, it did sound a little internal. It may be a better strategy to write something big, bold and full of movement as a first novel. My strategy is to write something that resonates with kids and keeps them wanting more. Having "24" as my model makes sense to me. I'm going to miss that show. I submit this week to an agent named April. I hope she likes it.

I'm going to the SCBWI conferense in Los Angeles in late July/early August. The $190 rooms at the Hyatt were sold out, so I opted to go budget, staying at a very reasonable $80 room with great reviews on Trip Advisor 7 miles away. I'll have a car for the weekend. The writer I met last night had attended the conference last year and said it was a blast. I'll do my best to be social and meet lots of people. I'm looking forward to it.

I feel I have little time to do what I'd like, but in a way it does make me very productive. Still, I miss the time I had at home. I can't wait to recreate the stay-at-home lifestyle I so miss.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Endless Things to Do...and I'm distracted again

I'm editing the last chapter of Chapel, making it flow a little better, tightening the scenes, reworking what wasn't working that well to begin with, establishing that magic feeling readers get when they reach the closing line of a book that doesn't disappoint. I'm trying to do that with mine, and it's not quite there, not yet anyway. Today I'm blog-spired. I read a couple of great blog entries that showed me just how effective good blog writing can be. Wow, they were good, so good in fact that I contacted the writer and sung her praises. What I'd give to write that well.

Don't even get me started on 80s videos on You Tube. I wanted to include a line in chapter 8 or 9 about Audrey's 80s music video collection, and three hours later, I put the line in (after watching all the Toto, Human Leauge, Cyndi Lauper, Bangles, Eurythmics, and Men at Work I could stomach...three hours worth, apparently). What a sad situation I sometimes seem to be.

Finishing up a couple of good YA reads, 39 Clues and 20 Boy Summer...oh, yeah, I have a dog to walk and feed, poor Sandy...thank God she likes alone time.

Okay, today, here's what the goals are: 1) get those damn edits into ch. 14 now! 2) finish 39 clues and 20 Boy summer please! 3) Read and comment on Annabelle's opening 2 chapters 4) Send a query out, just to remind yourself how the process works (find appropriate agent, insert pitch, add detail that creates brief bond, review, make sincere prayer, press send).

Back to work...