Monday, January 31, 2011

Live Concerts = First Drafts

Original here

Confession: I love live concerts. The energy. The super loud music. Getting to see my favorite artist thisclose. *sigh*

I went to one last night, and as I swooned over the lead singer, I realized he and his band taught me more about writing than about electric guitars (to say I'm musically challenged is an understatement...). And since some of you are currently working on a first draft, I figured I'd share what I learned.

1) The stage/WORD document is your playground

During first drafts, it's okay to experiment. You don't have to write chronologically. You can switch between POVs till you figure out which one works best. If you've ever been to a concert, or seen one on TV, you know artists like to run around. Or jump. Sometimes both. That's because there are no boundaries on that stage. They can do whatever they want. They're free to be silly and make mistakes. So should you.

2) Singing live/drafting comes from the heart

You know how every song sounds absolutely perfect on a CD? Well, it's been edited to death. The singer's voice is flawless, with zero pitch problems. But onstage, that might not be the case. They belt out those notes without a second thought. Sometimes they hit them, sometimes they totally don't. Why? Because it's all about the moment. About how they feel, not what they think. First drafts are the place to sing from the heart. Your story is what matters--not how you tell it.

3) The audience/your characters cheer you on

The artist waves hello, people scream. The artist tells them to sing, people sing. The artist blows kisses, people die (actually, they faint, but you know what I mean...). It's these little moments of interaction that keep the artist going. Sure, they could play just fine without anyone watching them, but that's like not having great characters to write about--boring. That thirst to get your story down is the same as that audience cheering the artist on. It gives them a purpose to do what they do. It tells them that what they're doing isn't a waste of time. That it's worth it. Shouldn't your characters do the same for you?

So. There you have it. Live concerts = first drafts. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go find my vocal chords. I think I left them at the arena...

Quick reminder: Don't miss our Mystery Agent Contest tomorrow!!! Polish those 25-word pitches and be ready to post them in the comments! Only 50 spots available, so make sure you stop by before we reach the limit. Winner gets a FULL MANUSCRIPT request :) AND there'll be something special lined up for the rest of the entries, so don't miss out!

Now tell me: what do you love most about writing that first draft?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Strings Attached

REMINDER! New Mystery Agent contest coming February 1, with special surprises when Operation Awesome hits 300 followers! Now back to the blog:

My friend Tracey had another insightful post the other day, From the Heart or from the Head. As she pondered what book idea to pursue next, she wrote:
I've blogged before that “write what you love” is some of the worst advice given out in publishing. That loving what you write will only get you somewhere if what you love also happens to be popular.
I’m grappling with the same issue. The next novel I want to write is a difficult, time-consuming historical that is not inherently commercial. Yes, it’s the kind of book I want to immerse myself in as a reader and writer, but it’s not necessarily one that will sell in this very challenging market. And for me, that matters almost as much as writing a story with personal and literary integrity.

So I suggest that instead of writing what you love, you have to love what you write.

Our books are like babies in many ways, but if you’re trying to write to get published, writers have no room for unconditional love. We should try to use our love to make our books good and publishable, not just cling to our words and ideas because they are ours. Loving what you write is hard work, and there are strings attached to this kind of love.

So I pulled out my indispensable copy of Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, and I think I found a way to make my beloved historical better – a little bigger, a little higher concept – before I start it. It may not be the next Hunger Games, but I’m hoping that I can execute it well, and if I do, that it will interest readers besides me, and hopefully earn a contract.

And you know what? I already love it.

Across The Universe: The Winners

Thank you for all the comments and entries to the AtU contest.

I wish I had enough to give everybody a book, but *sniff* I can't. But I'm sure we shall have more awesome contests in the future.

The two winners are...

Katie Mills & Lisa Gibson

There should be an email from me waiting in your inbox.

And don't forget, we have the Mystery Agent contest on the 1st of February. Polish those 25 word pitches for that MG/YA.

Happy Sunday.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Authoress: Demystified (sort of)

I've been trying to tell you that Operation Awesome is where the cool kids hang out, but maybe you can't get past my supreme geekness? As if Wednesday's incredible guest (Hello! Beth Revis!) didn't convince you, today's special guest pretty much proves my seemingly outlandish claims!

The fabulously mysterious Authoress Anon, mistress of the Secret Agent contest, has granted us an interview.

We will not be revealing her identity, but we will be celebrating her recent agent-signing success and finding out more about her writing journey. *clinks glasses with Authoress* 

First of all, if you by some fluke haven't met Authoress on her blog or twitter, make sure you stop by and soak in some of that awesome!

Get her legendary e-book, Agent: Demystified.

Who needs an author photo when Authoress has a PINK TOES PICTURE?!

Without further ado, here's the interview:

Katrina: This will not surprise our readers, but our Mystery Agent contest idea came from your awesome SECRET AGENT contests! How was that idea born?

Authoress: You know, I have no clear memory of this.  I literally just “thought it up” shortly after the blog was born and went from there.  The blog itself was a sudden, off-the-cuff idea, too, designed to be a safe and happy place for aspiring authors.  After doing a couple of critique sessions, it occurred to me that it would be a lot more fun if I could include an agent. I never dreamed what it would blossom into!

Katrina: How Authoress got her agent. What do you see as the moral of your how-you-got-your-agent story?

Authoress: NEVER. GIVE. UP.  I think sometimes aspiring authors get a little tired of hearing that.  But, yanno, if you believe in what you’re doing, and if you’re working hard at your craft to assure that you keep moving forward, then you’ve got to push through even when things are at their bleakest.  In the few months prior to my happy agent signing, I can’t tell you how many times people said to me, “When your misses are THIS CLOSE? When it feels THIS HORRIBLE? You’re really close to making it.”  And they were right.

Katrina: It’s clear, after reading your first agent horror story and then your awesome Josh Getzler story, that all agent-author relationships are not created equal. What’s the one piece of advice you can give writers like me who are hoping for the kind of relationship you have with Josh?

Authoress: Well, it’s a twofold piece: DO YOUR RESEARCH and BE CONFIDENT IN WHO YOU ARE.  Careful research will ensure you’re sending your material to agents with whom you can potentially “click,” and approaching the relationship as you would any other—with confidence, poise, and friendliness—will likely lead to the “perfect match.”

Katrina: As your blog title indicates, you really were Miss Snark's first victim! How has her (snarky) advice affected your writing? What would you say to her now if she were listening?

Authoress: Oh my goodness, I’m cringing at the memory! It was the opening page of my first-ever, really-horrible-but-I-didn’t-know-it-yet novel, and she shredded it. It was absolutely the kick I needed, though.  Miss Snark taught me what it means to not be in love with my words.  That’s the bottom line, really.  I think a sign of maturity as a writer is when you can chop entire paragraphs without batting an eyelash.

If she were listening right now, I’d say, “Thank you for drop-kicking me (gently) into reality.  Yours was the first of many painful-wonderful things that propelled my writing where it is today.”

Katrina: Your e-book, Agent: Demystified, discusses the Agents As God syndrome many writers develop in the quest to get published. We know agents are just people, but if Josh Getzler were a god, which one would he be?

Authoress: Naturally, I consulted with Josh before making my final decision on this important question.  He pretty much gave me carte blanche, provided I didn’t choose someone who came to a horrible end (like Hephaestus).  So I’ve decided he would be Momus, the god of satire, mockery, poets, and writers. 

(What, you’ve never heard of Momus?  Me neither.)

Katrina: How many books have you written? What genre is the book that snagged you your agent? Can you tell us about it?

Authoress: I’m currently writing my sixth novel.  I snagged my agent with the fourth one, which is a YA dystopian.  It’s the story of a 16-year-old boy (named after my husband!).  And I promise I’ll say more about it on my blog after we’ve sold it.

Katrina: Do you outline or fly by the seat of your pants?

Authoress: Hello, my name is Authoress and I’m a pantser.

Actually, though?  I’m gradually learning the art of planning.  I could never sit down and write an entire outline, cold.  I don’t think that way.  But I’ve plotted myself into enough corners to finally see the value in a wee bit of planning.  And also in taking the time to write out detailed backstory, which brings life and depth to the worldbuilding as well as to the plot.

The logline and storyboarding advice in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat has had a profound impact on my writing.

Katrina: What makes a great first sentence?

Authoress: Wow.  I think it should be fresh and compelling without being forced or pretentious.  Definitely not gimmicky, and definitely not a description of the weather.

I will confess that the earliest drafts of my second novel (a middle grade fantasy) opened with the sound of my protagonist yelling as she slipped beneath the water, on her way to drowning.  I thought it was cool.

I was totally wrong.

Katrina: Do you listen to music while you write? Does it change with the WIP?

Authoress: I always have music playing! Pandora makes me happy. It’s funny though; even though I majored in music (I’m a pianist) and have strong opinions about it, I’ve never taken the time to create specific play lists for each WIP.  I listen to jazz, Celtic, Renaissance, or soundtracks, depending on my mood.

Best thing ever?  My husband is writing a soundtrack for my novel.  AND I LOVE IT!  Hopefully he’ll have enough of it done by the time I’m working on revisions for a publisher that I can write to it.  My own, built-in, custom-made play list! J

Katrina: What’s your favorite color?

Authoress: Unabashedly pink! (a woman after my own heart!)

Katrina: Favorite TV show and/or movie?

Authoress: I don’t watch TV.  My favorite miniseries is A&E’s Pride and Prejudice and my favorite movie is—wait for it—Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. (you have awesome taste!)

Katrina: Favorite candy?

Authoress: It’s a toss-up between Teuscher truffles and homemade toffee.  Neither of which deserves the piddling label of “candy,” of course.

Katrina: Edward or Jacob? Peeta or Gale?

Authoress: 1. Neither. (ugh)  2. Peeta!  Okay, I’ll come clean.  I was totally Team Gale until about a third of the way through Mockingjay.  Then I realized he was all wrong for her.

Katrina: At some point, you might want to use your blog to pimp your book. Is this going to be the end of Authoress Anon or will you find a way to remain anonymous?

Authoress: Both!  I’m going to unveil my real identity when the book sells, but I’m going to continue to run Miss Snark’s First Victim as Authoress.  I’ve already got my author domain parked, and will simply link to it from the blog.  I think Josh and I will have some fun figuring out the best way to approach the “big reveal.”

Katrina: Thank you for agreeing to this interview! You are a literary rock star!

Authoress: What a fun interview! Thanks so much.

Everybody say hey to Authoress in the comments. Give her an OpAwesome Welcome!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Across The Universe With Beth Revis

I've put down my cookies today. Why? Because I'm excited to be joined by Beth Revis. Beth is the New York Times bestselling author of Across the Universe. And she hearts Doctor Who!

First, a bit about ACROSS THE UNIVERSE.

A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awake on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into a brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone—one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship—tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

And now onto the questions. *rubs hands together* 

1) What made you decide to switch between narrators for this particular story?

I *had* to. I needed Amy and Elder to know and not know certain things. I needed an "inside" character who knew was it was like to be born on the ship, and an "outside" character who, like us, was new to the ship.

2) Which part of the world-building was the toughest to develop? Which part was the easiest? 

All of it was tough! World-building is what I struggle with the most--*I* know what the world looks like, and I often forget that the readers don't. The thing I've learned to make this easier is to periodically rely on other senses, like smell or touch.

3) If there is one thing you'd like readers to leave with after finishing AtU, what would it be? 

A sense of hope--that no matter how bad things look, don't give up.

4) Do you have any quirks, habits or must do routines when you write?

Not really! I'm weird like that, I guess--everyone seems to have a ritual or something to get them in the mood, but I just sit down and start.

5) The title of AtU is from a song by the Beatles. Did you have a soundtrack during the writing of the book? 

Not really! Another thing that makes me weird--it seems like every writer has a soundtrack. But not me. I like noise, but I will play one or two songs on repeat over and over and over again until I tune them out. But "Across the Universe" was definitely one of those songs.

6) How did you manage to leave such well-placed clues that make you suspect or wonder but not quite know? Did it just come out that way or were they added in later?

A combination! Some things were just little, throw-away details when I was writing, but when I came to the end of the story, I realized I could use them as clues for the plot. Some of them I hid inside the text on purpose--cackling wickedly the whole time, like a parent hiding Easter eggs.

7) How do you write such epic chapter endings and transitions? Every single one left us either shocked at a new revelation or tortured by an intense emotion. 

I don't know! It just comes out that way!

8) We're all about the awesome here. What do you think makes YA such an exciting genre to read/write?

You can do anything in YA! YA is about a style moreso than an age-range, in my opinion--it's a style that embraces fast-paced plotting, clever characters, and awesome story-lines.

9) What is the one tip you could give to an aspiring author? 

Write the next book. I have ten trunk novels. I couldn't have written AtU without having first written them, but I couldn't have published any of them, not the way they were. There's certainly something to be said about not giving up and editing and revising--but there's also a point in time when you've got to just move on to the next story.

10) If you could be any character out of the Harry Potter books, who would you be?

Ginny!!! I would SO love to know more about her--I sort of wish JKR would write another book told from Ginny's POV in the last year...and besides, she gets Harry!

Beth Revis lives in rural North Carolina with her husband and dog, and believes space is nowhere near the final frontier. Across the Universe is her first novel.

Huge thanks again to Beth for being our guest today. Across the Universe is available from all bookshops/online retailers now, but I'm also giving away two copies. How can you win? Just let me know you'd like to enter and add your email address in the comments. I'll pick the two winners at random on Sunday. Simple. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Writerly News

Today I thought I'd share with you a few writing opportunities.

The first one is the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

Each Grand Prize winner will receive a publishing contract with Penguin, which includes a $15,000 advance. All Entries can be submitted through the CreateSpace platform and must be received no later than February 6, 2011.

Up to 5,000 Entries will be accepted within each category (General Fiction and Young Adult). The contest officially started yesterday. When the spaces fill up, they close. So if you are interested, than don't delay.

For those of you who write Speculative Adult Fiction, here is a chance to win an editorial review from an editor at Del Rey.

Suvudu is holding a contest that started on January 18th and will run until March 18th. One Grand Prize Winner and three Runner Up Winners will be selected on or about May 13, 2011, by members of Sponsor's editorial department. Entries will be judged on the basis of originality, creativity and writing style. GRAND PRIZE (1): A full edit of the work by Betsy Mitchell, Editor in Chief of Del Rey Publishing and a set of Del Rey books selected by Sponsor. Approximate Retail Value (ARV): $2250. RUNNER UP PRIZES (3): A set of Del Rey Books selected by Sponsor. ARV: $250.

In March, UK Publisher, Angry Robot books, will be having an open door submission, for one month only.

Angry Robot is a global imprint dedicated to the best in modern adult science fiction, fantasy and everything inbetween. Their book line launched in July 2009, with both physical books across a wide variety of formats, e-books with audio to follow.

AND..... a week from today we will have another Mystery Agent Contest!! 

This super awesome agent would love to see your Middle Grade or Young Adult Entries from your completed novels. The first 50 people get the spots, so have your 25 word pitch ready on February 1st.

The winner gets the awesome prize of a Full Manuscript Request.

Monday, January 24, 2011

S-E-X And YA

So. I read this post yesterday. And I can't stop thinking about it.

It's, in essence, a rant. About YA book covers. In particular, these book covers:

      CHAIN REACTION by Simone Elkeles and INVINCIBLE SUMMER by Hannah Moskowitz

In her rant, blogger/aspiring author Vicky says she considers these book covers inappropriate. That they advertise and encourage teen sex. That she'd never buy these books for her teen, nor read them herself. That the motto "sex sells" shouldn't be linked to the young adult industry.

Here's my take: both covers are appropriate. Very much so, in fact. 


Because they portray what the characters are experiencing. 

No, these books are not about sex. They are about teens who are growing up, falling in love, and having sex. It's about their journeys. Their relationships. And that includes... wait for it... S-E-X. 

To me, an inappropriate book cover is an image that has nothing to do with the content. False advertising, as they say. For example, putting a Caucasian girl on the cover of a book whose main character is black? So inappropriate. 

If you as a parent stand against teens having sex in fiction (and in real life...), that's your business. My condolences to your teen son/daughter. But pretty please don't get things twisted--inappropriate is such a subjective word. It tells me you don't really know what writing for teens is about. You don't have to agree with them exploring their sexuality, but that's what some of them are doing. That's why these books are selling. They relate to those stories. To those covers.

My advice to all aspiring YA authors? Be real. Whether you write about teens having sex or not, please understand that it's an important part of their lives. Don't disrespect them by pretending it's not.

Now tell me: what do you think about those covers? Good? Bad? 

Friday, January 21, 2011

How To Cyber Stalk Literary Agents

Okay, don’t actually cyber stalk anybody. That’s creepy. I mean, don’t try to find somebody’s home address or birthday or the names of family members. Seriously, just don’t do that.

Psh! Why am I worried? You guys are normal. Right? 


No, this article isn’t about actual stalking, but about literary agent research. Far less creepy and infinitely more important to your writing career.

You’ve written the next Twilight. Or Hunger Games. Or Paranormalcy. Or Across the Universe.

All you need is a literary agent to get those big publishers to take notice of you. But there are hundreds of them listed on sites like querytracker and agentquery!! How the heck are you gonna find the right one for you?

This is why the agent hunt is likened unto dating. Because there isn’t just one right agent out there for you. There are lots of right ones, lots of agents who could fall in love with your work and be effective, tireless champions for you in the face of publishers who rarely take direct, unagented submissions anymore.

Unlike dating, though, one party is at a distinct disadvantage in the agent hunt. 

You. The writer. 

It’s not, “Hey, let’s have dinner.” It’s, “I have something here you might like, but I know you get a thousand of these letters every week, but still, would you please look at mine for a second?”

It doesn’t have to go down like that.

Agents have said in interview after interview that a professional query letter personalized to them rises to the top, while Dear Agent varieties get automatic deletes. How important is the personalization?    

To some, it’s more important than others, but all agents agree they want to feel like you’ve done your research and you’re not just taking a shot in the dark, hoping something will stick. 

I’m not a querying professional, but I am a writer of professional queries. I’ve written a lot of them. And I’ve had some positive responses, mainly from agents who knew I’d specifically sought them out for what they represent. 

One agent agreed to read my book after a query workshop on her blog. Two kind souls on the querytracker forum invited me to query their agents because we wrote in similar genres. Another awesome agented writer gave me a referral to her agent after she read my pitch. Mentioning that query workshop and those client names got my foot in a door that was sometimes barely ajar, sometimes completely closed. 

But it’s not because this business is all about connections. No. It’s because agents get slammed with queries from all sorts of writers in all different stages of their writing careers. Some are just starting out. Maybe, like me, you sent out one of those newbie queries to an agent who didn’t rep what you were selling just because you liked his blog (*cough* Nathan Bransford *cough*). Even if you didn’t, you probably know agents get those kinds of queries all the time. It’s a breath of fresh air when they get a client referral or a query from someone they recognize as a regular blog reader/commenter (in the right genre for what they rep). 

Finally! I imagine them saying, as they sip their mysterious dark-tinged beverage. Finally, somebody who actually wants to be represented by me and not just any old agent!

See, for them it might be just as frustrating as for you. They want clients who take writing seriously enough to care who represents them. They want clients who want to be their clients. Makes sense, right?

So here’s how to cyber stalk them (again, not actual stalking):

  • Read any interviews linked there. Visit their websites. Take actual notes on your favorites. If they give submission guidelines, follow their instructions.

  • Keep up on the market. Read the genre you write in. If you read an awesome book that’s similar in tone to yours, check the acknowledgements or “[author name] represented by” in your favorite web search engine.

  • Read books represented by the agents on your list. (When I first started my agent hunt, I thought this was going the extra mile, but it really, really helps you to personalize a query if you can say your book has similar elements to [published book by client name] and actually know what you’re talking about. And besides, the reading doubles as writing research, as well.)

  • Search their name at forums and forums. If they’ve done a Q&A or just been talked about by other authors, this info is priceless.

What about you guys? Any cyber stalking tips for newbies?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Homework Helpers: Essays and Term Papers Launch Day Winner!!

It's official!!! Homework Helpers: Essays and Term Papers is officially released today :D

 My blog tour is in full swing - you can see a full list of stops on my blog, but today I'll be hanging with 5 absolutely amazing ladies - Christine Fonseca, Elana Johnson, Bethany Wiggins and Suzette Saxton, and Lisa Amowitz. Come by and say hi! From now until the end of the tour, for every stop you make a comment on, you get an entry for the huge Grand Prize Giveaway that I'll be doing at the end of the tour :)

And just to get things off to a really fun start, the winner of Amparo's book and swag giveaway is.....


Congrats!!! Shoot us an email (operationawesome6(at)gmail(dot)com) with your address and we'll get your copy of Homework Helpers: Essays and Term Papers and awesome swag bag out to you :)

There will be several more opportunities to win swag bags and copies of my book throughout the blog tour as well as a chance at the huge Grand Prize Basket, so come hang out on my tour with me! :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tone. Revise. Tone.

One of my new things this year is to try (note the emphasis on try) to do regular exercise. I eat okay (cookies and chocolate are a food group, right?), but I figure toning the old butt wouldn't hurt, right?

Wrong. When you go from exercising four times a week to, um, not much, your body kind of wants to hit you over the head with hand weights. But we start slow. I mean, I'm not that insane I'd run a marathon after one training session. I'm pretty sure I'd fall over. Once, twice a week is a good base. Then three times, but you get the idea.

The point is, it's hard at first. There are moments when your abs are quivering from crunches. Your thighs can't take another climb on the elliptical. But you push through.

Where am I going with this?

Practice builds strength. You improve. Learning the moves makes your performance more efficient. That gives better results. It still hurts sometimes, but you can see the benefits. You keep going.

It's the same for revisions.

We all want a tight, toned manuscript. It's the aim of revision. We revise until our eyes bleed, shut the manuscript feeling mentally, physically and emotionally drained. We don't want to see the stupid thing again.

But we go back. Why? Because as much as it can hurt, it works. We work our base strength with plot, strengthen our core with by deleting passive writing. We get our cardio in on line edits.

After weeks/months of hard work, we sit back and see the benefits. A toned body and a toned MS? I can live with that.

So who's with me?

Shameless Lindsay post promotion time: Next week I have an awesome post -- an interview with the amazing Beth Revis. I'll also be giving away 2 copies of her brilliant debut novel, Across the Universe.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

And the Blog Banner Award Goes to...

LS Murphy!

Thanks for all who entered! 

LS, Email me at (at) gmail (dot) co
or put your contact info into the comments section. Thanks!

And don't forget about Michelle's Launch Giveaway. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

An Awesome Launch: Michelle McLean's HOMEWORK HELPERS Giveaway!!

So. This is an EPIC week for us here at Operation Awesome. E-p-i-c.


Oh, no big deal. It's just that our very own Michelle McLean has a book coming out!!! *fist pump*

*fights urge to hug it*

In honor of Michelle's book birthday, we here at OA wanted to throw a bit of a bash. And no cyber-party is complete without a BOOK and SWAG GIVEAWAY, right? Right???

Here's what you can win:


2) A super awesome swag pack filled with goodies, courtesy of the awesome Michelle!! 

On Thursday, January 20th, Michelle will do the honors of announcing one lucky winner! 

Want to be that lucky winner??

Here's what you have to do:

1) Follow the OA blog *waves hi*

2) Leave a comment on this post with your email address 

Then make sure you come back this Thursday to see if you won! Simple as that.

Future winner: I'll try not to be too jealous of you. Keywords: I'll. Try.

Best of luck to those who enter!! 

And HAPPY BOOK LAUNCH, Michelle! :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Paul McCartney, Prancing Poodles, and Girls Who Play Football: Miranda Kenneally in a blogshell


Possible covers, just to tease us. (from Teen Fire)

I'm not yelling SCORE only because Miranda Kenneally agreed to do an interview with me on Operation Awesome! I'm also yelling SCORE because Miranda's debut YA novel, SCORE, is due to come out this year!

Here is Le Blurb from her website:

What girl doesn’t want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn’t just surrounded by hot guys, though—she leads them as the captain and quarterback on her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys, and that’s just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But now there’s a new guy in town who threatens her starring position on the team…and has her suddenly wishing to be seen as more than just a teammate.
SCORE, my debut YA novel, will be released by Sourcebooks Fire in December 2011!
Add SCORE on Goodreads  

Read an excerpt from SCORE
Meet Miranda Kenneally
Le Interview: 

Katrina: Brushing shoulders with President George W. Bush?! A thumbs up from Paul McCartney?! I was absolutely floored by your list of 25 things about you. 

Do you seek out these crazy experiences or are they the result of chance?

Miranda: These days, I’m about as introverted as it gets. I prefer sitting in my green chair with a book, and anytime I’m out of the house, I can’t wait to get home and back into my green chair.

I work for the government, planning high level events and conferences and summits and whatnot, so I often find myself in strange situations.  Like having to show Newt Gingrich where the bathroom is.  Or having to test every single pen that will be used by a world leader the next day. 

But when I was a teenager and a college goer, oh yeah, I totally got myself into trouble.  I was the idiot who tried to blow up a tree someone planted in my tanning spot on the grassy knoll I liked.  One time I got into a fight with Sister Souljah (don’t ask).  That is something I regret.  A lot. 

I also regret not speaking to John Green when I had the chance.  I saw him, and I just stood there straight as stale licorice. 

Katrina: What inspired a story about a girl playing high school football? Do you play?

Miranda:  In elementary school, I was awesome at baseball (always got chosen first!) and volleyball, so the boys let me play football, even though I wasn’t very good at it.  Okay, I’m terrible at football.  I can’t catch anything without a glove. 

In junior high, I asked to be on the team, but the coach said no.  So I wrote an essay entitled, “Why I should be allowed on the football team.” My only supporting argument was that I’d beaten a scrawny wide receiver at arm wrestling in the cafeteria one day.  It didn’t work.

Growing up, I mostly hung out with guys, and in high school, I was the manager of the boys’ soccer team, so I really understand the strange creature that is the teenage athletic boy.  So writing SCORE was pretty natural for me.  What’s not natural for me is writing about your standard cookie-cutter girl.  Now that would be a challenge!

What inspired SCORE? I really have no idea. I was bored one day at jury duty and just started free writing.

Katrina: Jury duty?! Best first-draft story ever! Okay, so SCORE is a romance, but our main girl is far from the stereo-typical romantic lead. What was the hardest thing about writing from Jordan’s perspective as a girl whose priority isn’t romance?

Miranda:  This actually wasn’t very hard. I mean, we’ve all been there.  We’ve all seen that guy who just makes our stomach curl up like a slug doused with salt.  We’ve all longed for somebody. 

That being said, it was definitely hard to show why seventeen-year-old Jordan had never gone after a guy, and why none of the guys had ever pursued her (you’ll have to read the book to find out more!). 

Katrina: Any news on the SCORE cover? The ones we’ve seen on Teen Fire and your website look amazing! Has a decision been reached?

Miranda:  YES! And I’m really thrilled with the final choice, but I’m not allowed to show it to anyone yet.  I’ll give you an update as soon as the handcuffs have been unlocked.

Katrina: You’ve got excerpts on your site for a romance (SCORE) and a comedy (BEST.DAY.EVER), and you mentioned working on a romantic thriller! Love the sound of that. Is there a particular genre where you feel more at home? What do you think would be the hardest genre to write? (Personally, I think it’s the acrobatic poodles genre.)

Miranda: Those poodles = My worst. Work. Ever.

The hardest genre? Literary adult fiction. I would never even attempt this. My dad writes literary adultish stuff, so when he reads my stuff, he’s all like, “Well this doesn’t totally suck.”  Snob.  :D

I feel most at home writing your standard YA contemporary transformative/character development novel a la Sarah Dessen.  BEST. DAY. EVER. is a quest novel about a girl from poverty who gets to shadow a famous disgruntled country star for a day, and it changes both their lives in positive and negative ways.  It’s like Before Sunrise meets Ferris Bueller’s Day Off meets Pretty Woman meets American Idol. 

I also love writing crappy free verse and haikus and stuff.  SCORE is partially written in verse. 

AWESOME POEM TO FOLLOW the end of this interview.

Katrina: What’s your writing process like? Are you a plotter, panster, or a mix?

Miranda:  These days it goes like this:  I tell my agent what I’m thinking and she says either, “OOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHOHHHHHHHH” or “Eh, it’s been done.”  If it’s the former, I write a crappy first draft over a few weeks.  I send it to my dad.  He tells me why it’s crappy.  I get back to work on it.  Then I send it to other people to read.  They tell me what is good and what is bad.  I play up the good, kill the bad.  This continues for several months until it turns into a book. 

To me, writing is a team effort, and that’s not a bad thing.

Sometimes I start writing first drafts and then quit after a day or two, because it feels forced. 
I figure if I haven’t sold the book yet, no harm, no foul.

Katrina: How much time do you spend on revision versus writing the first draft?

Miranda:  My (crappy) first drafts take me less than a month.  Revisions can take anywhere from three months to six.  I haven’t gone over six yet.  Knock on wood.

Katrina: Are there any snacks, rituals, music tracks you simply must have to get into your writing zone? Paint a picture for us of what it’s like in your writing space.

Miranda:  Green chair, Diet Coke, Twitter, notes scratched on napkins and on my hands, husband constantly interrupting me and me ignoring said husband. J 

Katrina: I think we’re all a little envious of you for your agent, Sara Megibow. What’s she like to work with and what’s the most important thing you’ve learned since you started working with her?

Miranda:  Sara’s great.  I’m really honored she took me on as a client.  First, she always answers my emails in a timely fashion, and she always tells it like it is.  She’s not a big sugarcoater.  She carefully reads everything I write and offers LOADS of suggestions on how to make it better.

The most important thing I’ve learned from her is to relax and not try so hard. Forcing anything is BAD.  

Katrina: You’ve got an agent and a book deal, so that puts you on the other side of a Cat’s Claw fence from those of us still searching. Is there any advice you can offer to those of us in the querying stage of our careers?

Miranda:  Just keeping searching for the right story that fits your voice.  That’s the key, I think.  For so long I tried to write stories that just weren’t “me.”  The minute I started writing like myself (and not trying to be the next Orson Scott Card or Terry Pratchett or Phillip Pullman) was when I started getting attention.

Katrina: Thank you so much for answering my questions!

Miranda: THANK YOU!!! :D

And now, in Miranda's own words (channeling her character, Jordan)...

Silly poem from SCORE:

Evolution (a.k.a. Second Attempt at Tackling a Poem)

I’ll admit it
When I first saw Jake Reynolds
     I thought I’d died and gone to the Super Bowl
                   (as starting QB)
That blonde surfer-boy hair
That tan body that won’t stop
That bottom lip: upturned, a sexy invite 
And then he spoke
“Damn, Jordan. You should play tight end
     because your ass is wound tighter than a baseball.”
Now every time I see a hot guy
     my first reaction is to brace myself
       Wait for the sewage to seep out of his mouth
       I thought Henry was the last of his kind
       I thought hot nice guys had gone extinct
       Be still, my hormones
       Ty is here to repopulate the species

Give Miranda a shout-out in the comments. She's kindly agreed to answer some questions today from the comments, as well! Woot! 
Follow her on twitter for cover news pending