Monday, December 31, 2012

January Mystery Agent Contest Details!!!

Hello, all!!! You may or may not know that tomorrow is our January Mystery Agent Contest. For that reason, I'm here to provide a few details about what our Mystery Agent is and isn't looking for. 

So. Here's what our Mystery Agent wants:

Adult & YA fiction
-soft science fiction
-all subgenres of the aforementioned 3 genres
-gritty, dark narratives
-contemporary YA 
(lighthearted, funny, and moving with a raw, authentic teen voice)
-stories with strong characters, smart-mouthed dialogue, and strong plots that balance romance and action

Our Mystery Agent doesn't want the following:

-business books
-picture books
-religious/spiritual books
-self-help books
-travel books
-short stories

So there you go! If you have what our MA is looking for, then stop by tomorrow with your one-line pitch! 

Happy New Year!! :)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Blank Page

It's nearly 2013, which means the New Year's Revisions Conference is almost here. But it also means turning a new page on the calendar.

Writers often say that you can't revise a blank page, but on a calendar, the blank pages are the only ones we can change. The future is ours to write, shape, change as we will, even as events and forces change us. It is the past we cannot revise.

Serial writers -- from Dickens to TV series to comics -- may have a plan, but they write and publish as they go. That's how life works too -- we're always fast-drafting. Hopefully we get better at it as we learn from mistakes.

And as 2013 approaches and 2012, my page looks very blank. How will I fill it? What will I write? I'm not even sure of the genre. What career moves will I make? It's clear that "career" for now is something that exists alongside my writing, and that's a blank page too.

I'm proud of the page I wrote in 2012. I published a book,  signed with an agent, wrote some new manuscripts, and returned to on-site employment after years of freelancing. Mostly importantly, I spent another wonderful year with my daughters, husband, and family, and that's what I'll remember when the calendar is 50 years advanced. 

So bring on the blank page. It's not empty. It's unmarred, unspoiled. It's unwritten, and I'm ready to write it.

In Operation Awesome News: 

Get ready now for the Critique Partner Match-up on January 3rd, leading into our New Year's Revisions Conference on the 4th, 5th, and 6th

Not to mention a January Mystery Agent Contest on January 1st. If your page is blank now, it soon won't be!

Saturday, December 29, 2012


My friend and fellow author Janet Gurtler is celebrating the release of her YA novel, HOW I LOST YOU, with an ARC giveaway. Janet is published by Sourcebooks and her young adult novels are amazing. Janet and I share a fantastic agent: Jill Corcoran of the Herman Agency.
From Janet’s blog:
I was thrilled, really amazingly overexcited, I think, to get my ARC's for HOW I LOST YOU. They are so freaking pretty. A beautiful orangey color with green. It's very delightful to me. I actually kissed them.
Yes. I. Did. 

It's funny how each book is different and special in some way, but I have to say I did LOVE getting these arcs (whispers) the most of all my books. Wheee!!!! Now I only hope the CONTENT is as good as the cover!!

To celebrate, I'm going to give away an ARC of HOW I LOST YOU. All you have to do is leave a comment and you're entered. How easy is that? I'll cut this off  the morning of the 5th and do the draw on January 5.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!


Grace and Kya always do everything together, and nothing can get in the way of their friendship. They have a pact: Sisters Before Misters. Buds Before Studs.

Only Grace knows what Kya's been through, or how much she needs someone to stick by her. No Matter What. Besides, Kya keeps life exciting-pulling Grace into things she'd never dare do on her own.

But inch by inch, daring is starting to turn dangerous. And Grace will have to decide how far she can go to save her friendship with Kya...before she ends up losing everything else.

Visit Janet’s Blog for a chance to win!

In Operation Awesome news: 
We are just 6 days away from the Critique Partner Match-up on January 3rd, leading into our New Year's Revisions Conference on the 4th, 5th, and 6th

Not to mention a January Mystery Agent Contest on January 1st. I know, it's insane how much
2013 already holds! We hope you'll join us. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Pre-Conference Giveaway WINNERS!

Oliver Awesome

THANK YOU to all who entered and to all who helped to spread the word about NYRC 2013! Whether you have something ready to revise or not, you're sure to find useful wisdom at the New Year's Revisions Conference. 

It is totally online, totally free, and totally revisions. ;)

Back to our awesome giveaway...

The prizes:

SHADOWS OF THE HIDDEN by Anne Riley (e-copy)
DEADWOOD by Kell Andrews (signed ARC)
AMAROK by Angela Townsend (e-copy)
A LITTLE BIT WICKED by Robyn DeHart (e-copy)
SHIMMER OF ANGELS by Lisa Basso (e-copy)
$10 gift card

The winners: 

Amanda R.: A LITTLE BIT WICKED by Robyn DeHart (e-copy)

Rena T.: DEADWOOD by Kell Andrews (signed ARC)

Dawn A.: AMAROK by Angela Townsend (e-copy)

Tiffany B.: SHIMMER OF ANGELS by Lisa Basso (e-copy)

Aldrea A.: GABRIEL STONE AND THE DIVINITY OF VALTA by Shannon Duffy (e-copy)

Shelly C.: SHADOWS OF THE HIDDEN by Anne Riley (e-copy)

Joel S.: $10 gift card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations to the winners! Enjoy your spoils, and get your red pens ready for January 4, 5, and 6!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

New Year's Revisions Conference: A Peek At Our Lineup!!!

So. Our lineup for the New Year's Revisions Conference is amazeballs. But don't take my word for it. I'm here today to share a little sneak peek at our guest authors/bloggers/agents! 

Between January 4th-6th, expect serious awesomeness from these authors/bloggers:

Elana Johnson
Phoebe North
Cole Gibsen
E.J. Patten
Lauren Morrill
Jennifer Nielsen
Lisa Amowitz
Amanda Bonilla
Gennifer Albin
Gretchen McNeil
Kate Hart

And make sure to check out the super useful advice by some of our guest literary agents:

Natalie Lakosil 
(who's also participating in our Q&A!)
Taylor Martindale

There are even MORE surprises in our lineup, but guess what? You'll have to wait until next Monday for the last New Year's Revisions Conference news (including our guests' topics AND the full conference schedule)!! Then don't miss our January Mystery Agent Contest on January 1st, a few days before the NYRC! So yeah. We're kind of giving you the best New Year's gifts ever. 

Because you totally deserve them.

Happy Holidays, everyone!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

What Are You Bringing to the New Year's Revision Conference?

So Operation Awesome's New Year's Revision Conference is happening January 4, 5, and 6!

Here's a list of things you may (or may not) need:

  • Red pen or pencil
  • Word processing program
  • Colored markers
  • Index cards
  • Post-Its
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • 500-piece Craftsman tool kit
  • Giant pot of coffee

Here's some things you definitely need:

  • Willingness to improve
  • A manuscript.

A manuscript? That's where I get in trouble. I didn't do NaNo. I need to write a new book first, right?

Not exactly. I have a pile of picture books that need attention, stories that are polished to what I consider perfection (but my agent does not) and those that are draftier than my front door. Plus I have an "almost" novel that has a certain something that agents and editors have always loved but not been willing to buy.

So I'm ready! Whether you are revising a NaNo draft, polishing a nearly-there gem, pulling a much-loved book from your trunk, you can participate in NYRC. Whether you are working with an agent or editor, looking for one, or getting ready to self-publish, you can participate in NYRC.

So what book are you going to bring with you? 

And if you haven't entered yet, don't miss our NYRC Book Giveaway, happening now! 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Holidays to you all! I hope this year brings you many blessings!

Today I’m busy with book signings. I am at a fantastic local bookshop called the Bookshelf. The past few weeks I’ve been incredibly busy with lectures and book signings and radio programs. I am blessed to have so much support from my agent, Jill Corcoran and my Publisher, Spencer Hill Press and everyone here at Operation Awesome. I am also very fortunate to have the world’s best publicists, David Henderson and Alicia Munoz. David and Lisa spent countless hours working out a promotional schedule, interviews, marketing strategies and countless other things too numerous to mention. Below are a few pictures of my recent local events. As I plan my out-of-state book tour I’m open to suggestions.

Where would you like me to visit? Post it in the comments below!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Pre- Writers Conference Giveaway: NYRC 2013

Woot! I love it when Operation Awesome is operation: AWESOME!

It's time to spread the word about our upcoming online writers conference, and what better way than with an awesome online giveaway!

Enter using the rafflecopter form below.

New Year's Revisions Conference 2013

January 4, 5, and 6 

Totally free, totally online. 

You wrote the crap out of that book in November. Or maybe you've been working on yours even longer. The time has come... revision time. Pay the piper, meet the reaper -- all those lovely euphemisms for the real work of writing: revising. You do not have to do it alone. We have gathered a group of fabulous book lovers: the ones who write the books, the ones who represent the authors, and the ones who edit the books. They all want you to succeed in making your book as shiny as it can possibly be before you query/publish.

That's the focus of NYRC 2013.

If you love books, want to write, or have written a book, this conference will have plenty for you to love in the way of professional publishing advice, and yes, more giveaways. There will also be a critique partner matching service for those looking for a second pair of eyes for their work.

We'll be live-tweeting the events @OpAwesome6 and using the #NYRC hash tag. Hope you'll join us!

To recap:

  • Professional publishing advice from our panel of experts
  • Guest posts by literary agents, editors, and published authors - all with an eye toward helping you through the revision process
  • Book giveaways - *happy sigh* mmm, books.
  • Critique partner matching service (January 3, the day before the conference officially begins)

Giving away today via rafflecopter (giveaway runs from Dec. 21-24):
SHADOWS OF THE HIDDEN by Anne Riley (e-copy)
DEADWOOD by Kell Andrews (signed ARC)
AMAROK by Angela Townsend (e-copy)
A LITTLE BIT WICKED by Robyn DeHart  (e-copy)
SHIMMER OF ANGELS by Lisa Basso (e-copy)
$10 gift card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Who I Dedicated To Trust a Thief to and Why...

One of the things I love about publishing a book is writing my acknowledgements. I love being able to thank all the amazing people who helped get my book out into the world.

When I think of who I want to dedicate the book to, it's a little bit different for me. I always thank my husband and kids and family in my acknowledgements. I seriously could not do what I do if they weren't on board with me and they are my absolute world.

But for the dedication, I try to think of a person (or people) who really made the book possible. Who either inspired me to write it in the first place or who the book would literally not exist without.

When I chose who I wanted to dedicate To Trust a Thief to, the choice was easy.

See, To Trust a Thief has had a long, LONG road to publication. I first wrote it 5 or 6 years ago (and had started writing it 2 years before that). It was queried and rewritten and queried again (and again, and again...). I got very VERY close a few times, but in the end, the answer was always no.

I just couldn't give up on it though. And I had many dear friends who supported me and helped me with this book. But there were three ladies in particular who were just always, always there. Who wouldn't have let me give up on it even if I wanted to. Three incredible, wonderful friends who read EVERY. SINGLE. VERSION of this book (and there were a LOT of versions). Multiple times. Who brainstormed with me and shredded each page and helped me over and over again to put the pieces back together.

They  never told me I was insane for not letting it go. They never pretended they didn't receive yet another email asking for a crit :) Without them, To Trust a Thief would have been abandoned a long time ago. And I would have always regretted it.

So it is with a very thankful heart that I dedicate To Trust a Thief to my very dear friends Toni Kerr, Kristal Shaff, and Cole Gibsen.

I will always be grateful that you didn't let me give up on this book. That you believed in it as much as I did. To Trust a Thief wouldn't exist without you :) I love you all!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's Almost Time...

So Christmas is almost here. While everyone is busy preparing for the holiday season, I just wanted to remind everyone that the New Year will be just as awesome with our New Year's Revisions Conference.

Don't forget to check out Amparo's post from Monday here. There you'll find a sneak peak of our super agents who'll be answering the questions you submitted back in October. And stay tuned for the full conference schedule to be revealed soon. Yay!

Happy Wednesday.

Monday, December 17, 2012

New Year's Revisions Conference: Our Q&A Agents!!

So. Last week, I revealed the Critique Partner Connection. This week, I'm going to talk about something I've already mentioned before. Remember when we asked you to submit your questions to our literary agents for a special Q&A? Well, I'm here today to reveal who our super awesome agents are! 


Okay. Here's the list of our super awesome agents:


So there you have them! Our six agents will answer your questions during the conference (hint: click on their names to get to know them better!). I'll be revealing the conference's full schedule in the coming days, so make sure you check out when the Q&A will go up on the blog! And stay tuned next week for MORE juicy conference details!

Happy Monday! :)   

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Another Heavy-Hearted Post

And again it's my turn to post, and my thoughts are taken up a tragedy that overshadows fiction. This pattern is too frequent, and once again I'm grateful for the stories in my life. When I wake up at night, I banish unwelcome thoughts by telling myself stories -- my own sometimes, but more often fantasies I read, where the evil is always vanquished in the end. A few years ago, Harry Potter got me through a personal loss. Last night I revisited Juliet Marillier's Sevenwaters. Today I will cast around for another story that can fill my mind in the dark hours of morning.

At other times, fiction -- even, or especially, children's fiction -- can help us understand the unfathomable. For adult and child readers, I recommend Mockingbird, Kathryn Erskine's 2010 middle-grade novel about a 10-year-old girl with Asperger's syndrome coping with her brother's death in a school shooting. For those of us seeking healing, Caitlin's struggle to understand her own feelings, interpret the emotions of others, and live in the midst of an irreplaceable loss resonate deeply.

When a terrible tragedy strikes, we all have trouble comprehending how and why. Like Caitlin, we are thrown out of our understanding of our own world, anthropologists on an unknown planet, visitors to an Otherworld where ordinary rules do not apply.

Do stories help you through difficult times? Reading, writing, retelling? What books help you and your children understand tragedy?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Simon & Schuster, a Big-6 Publisher, Picks Up Self-Published Series

"Simon & Schuster is entering as yet uncharted waters for a big-six publisher: it is acquiring the print rights to an ebook hit and leaving the ebook rights with the author.
“This is a modern twist on the old paperback license, but in this case Simon & Schuster will be publishing the hardcover and paperback editions simultaneously. We’re thrilled to be able to help Wool achieve greater distribution at retail and bring this talented writer to a larger audience,” said Julia Prosser, assistant director of publicity for Simon & Schuster.
The Bookseller is reporting that in the UK Century has acquired both the print and ebook rights for the title.
Wool Author Hugh Howey and his agent Kristin Nelson will be presenting at Digital Book World 2013."Story from Digital Book World

On goodreads

"Originally a self-published short story, WOOL was first released in July 2011. Within months, word of mouth turned this small piece, never marketed, into an ebook sensation. Reviews poured in and readers demanded more, inspiring Howey to continue the story. Howey published the next four sections of the book in installments, growing his fan base with each new release. WOOL has gone on to sell over 300,000 ebooks and is now being translated into over eighteen languages. Century Fox recently acquired film rights to the book with Ridley Scott’s production company partnering with Steve Zaillian for this option." 

What do you think of this? It's well known by now that self-published authors with success on their own can expect to garner the attention of an agent, or a publisher. But this is a first for a Big-Six Publisher. Does this encourage more people to self-publish?

What is your reaction?

Honestly, my reaction is to wonder where I can get a copy! Post-apocalyptic mystery? Awesome!

Here's the blurb:

They live beneath the earth in a prison of their own making. There is a view of the outside world, a spoiled and rotten world, their forefathers left behind. But this view fades over time, ruined by the toxic airs that kill any who brave them.
So they leave it to the criminals, those who break the rules, and who are sent to cleaning. Why do they do it, these people condemned to death? Sheriff Holston has always wondered. Now he is about to find out.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

When Names Change

We are down to single digit weeks left until the release of my upcoming historical romance with Entangled Scandalous. The book has been edited, revised, and polished until it shines. And then a last-minute email came in from my editor stating that my publisher would like to change my title.

I was thrown for a bit of a loop. I mean, I pretty much go into every submission with the expectation that my title will be changed. I generally suck at picking titles (Treasured Lies was chosen by the awesome Lisa Amowitz). It happens for many authors and I fully expected it to happen with Treasured Lies. But as time went on and we got closer to release date and the title stayed put, I figured Treasured Lies would stay Treasured Lies.

My editor came up with a list of suggestions and I picked one that I liked :) So Treasured Lies is now To Trust a Thief. It's going to take a lot of getting used to, but I do like it. It fits the book perfectly. And it fits the Scandalous line better. So a win/win all around I think :)

It got me curious about other books that might have had their titles changed, so I looked around and found some interesting ones (with the titles we know them by first, followed by their original titles (though some went through several before settling on their current titles)).

  • Gone With The Wind = Tomorrow Is Another Day (and Scarlett was called Pansy, which, I believe, was also in the running for the title)
  • Pride and Prejudice = First Impressions
  • War and Peace = All's Well That Ends Well
  • Lord of the Flies = Strangers From Within
  • Dracula = The Un-dead Dead
  • Lolita = The Kingdom By The Sea
  • Roots = Before The Anger
  • Valley of the Dolls = They Don't Build Statues to Businessmen
  • 1984 = The Last Man in Europe
  • Atlas Shrugged = The Strike
Interesting to see what these classics might have been known by if their titles hadn't been changed :)

Have your titles changed from their originals? Do you know of any other books with different titles than the originals? Leave them in the comments! :D Some of these are really fun (I'm still shuddering over Pansy).

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's About the Story

We all love writing. The discovery of a story. Finding a new world to explore. And we may love a happy ending, but the journey is the adventure. Only through the journey can we find out who we are, what we are capable of and how we become the person we are meant to be. 

So where will your story take you today? 

Happy 12/12/12. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

One year...and counting.

So yesterday marked the day that my book will be coming out next year. A year from yesterday, I will be a published author. It seems so far away; however, I am already feeling nervous about the release. It's funny that, after all this time, instead of excitement, I feel so afraid.

Maybe afraid isn't the right word. I feel exposed. I've been working on publishing THE EMISSARY for years. I've stubbornly not given up on it. I've pushed and pushed and pushed. I've edited it countless times. And finally, when epic fantasy is turning around again, my book gets its time. You'd figure that I'd be jumping up and down. You'd figure that my dreams had finally come true. I'm not sure if rejection has made me skeptical, knowing that the bad reviews will come with the good. But I do know that this work, specifically, has so much of my passion, so much of my time and energy, that I feel as if I am ripping open my chest and exposing my heart to the world.

Do any of you have a book like that? One that, even though it may have failed, is the one that pulses though you to be seen? It's not that the story is about me or anything, but I've been so entwined with these characters, I've pushed until they could be seen.

And now that it is going to happen, I feel nervous. A year may seem like a long ways away, but I'm okay with it. I need that time to mentally prepare.

THE EMISSARY is up on goodreads now, for those of you who would like to wait with me. It doesn't have a cover yet, but that is coming along as well.

Monday, December 10, 2012

New Year's Revisions Conference: The Critique Partner Connection!!

So. There are TONS of reasons why y'all should be excited about the New Year's Revisions Conference. TONS, I tell you. Which is why I'm here to share one of them. :) Starting today, I'll reveal one super awesome news about the conference each week. And this week's news is about something that's part of the conference, but not really:


I know some of you have crit partners already, but some of you don't. Some of you who do have crit partners might be looking for another extra set of eyes. Fear not! On January 3rd, the day before the New Year's Revisions Conference, we're giving YOU the floor. I mean, the blog. *cough* Each and every one of you will have the chance to leave their info in the comments (the format will be shared on the 3rd, so no worries!). If something strikes your critiquing fancy, you can contact the person and see if it's a critiquing match! 

Preliminary rules:

1) You don't have to be a blog follower to enter.

2) You don't need a completed manuscript (but having a finished one is the best way to go!)

3) The Critique Partner Connection will run from January 3rd to January 6th, which is the conference's last day.

I hope y'all are as excited as I am!! Stay tuned for more conference news next week!

Happy Monday :)


Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Year of Reading

Looking back at the past year, I realize that I've posted an impressive word total -- not in writing, but in reading. Admittedly, I've written less than I should have, but I was concentrating on revising DEADWOOD, my middle-grade novel that officially released last week (read paperback or Kindle), and on writing picture books. (Hint: If you have an impressively large word count while writing picture books, you're doing it wrong.)

So instead of measuring my year in words written, I'm taking the measure of my year in reading.I have pretty complete stats because I log my reading on Goodreads, a site many authors have a love-hate relationship with but that I only love. So here's the tale of the tape:

Number of books read in 2012 (fiction only, so far): 105
Pages read: 37,951

First book read: A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness
Last book read: Keeping the Castle, Patrice Kindl
Currently reading: Everybody Sees the Ants, A.S. King
Longest book: Monsters of Men, Patrick Ness, 608 pages.
Top author: Juliet Marillier, 10 books read
2012 debuts read: 10 
Star rating of three or above: All. If it's not good, I don't finish.

The Wicked and the Just, J. Anderson Coates
A Brief History of Montmaray, Michelle Cooper
A Countess Below Stairs, Eva Ibbotson
Charmed Life, Diana Wynne Jones
Lives of Christopher Chant, Diana Wynne Jones
Heir to Sevenwaters, Juliet Marillier
Well of Shades, Juliet Marillier
Monsters of Men, Patrick Ness
Wonder, R.J. Palacio
Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein

Age Group
Adult: 19
YA: 53
Middle grade: 35

Fantasy: 65
Historical Fiction: 26
Scifi: 14
Contemporary: 8

Reading Goals for 2013
I don't have a "books read" goal because I really ought to read less and write more. Clearly I'm a bit addicted.

But I would like to make an effort to read more broadly and explore more genres and to seek out more diverse authors and settings -- as you can see in my favorites, I have a bit of a fascination with the British Isles, real and imaginary. I'd also like to read more adult fiction -- 19 grown-up books isn't bad, but it's a low percentage.

What are your reading stats from 2012? What are your favorites? Do you have goals for 2013? 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

December Mystery Agent REVEALED + Winner!

Great news, y'all! Our wonderful Mystery Agent has sent back her pick for our December contest! But before I announce who won, here's our December Mystery Agent:

Molly Jaffa from Folio Literary Management!!

Okay. Drumroll, please. Molly's pick for the FULL manuscript request is...


Here's A.J.s winning entry:

Genre: MG Mystery
Pitch Kam, a selectively mute seventh grader and world-class yo-yoer, must solve riddles on a scavenger hunt through Chicago to win big and save his financially distressed Catholic school from closing.

Congrats, A.J.!!!! Please send your full manuscript to molly (at) foliolit (dot) com!!

Molly also took some time to answer some questions! Here's le interview:

1) If you could pick one book that every writer should read, which one would it be and why?
This is a tough question. I can’t pick just one! I think it’s important to read widely, especially in the genre in which you write. Try not to get caught up in thinking “I want to write just like author X” or “I need to follow the advice in craft book Y.” There are many paths to writing success. Get to know the marketplace and what’s selling. It’s a good idea to read a book a week (I do this, too).   

2) What are you dying to see in your slushpile right now?
Contemporary YA with a great hook. Good writing and a strong voice isn’t enough! Your story also has to stand out from the pack.

3) Favorite TV show?
Of all time? The West Wing!

4) Chocolate or candy?
Chocolate, definitely.

5) Any tips for writers struggling with their one-line pitches?
Practice your pitch on people who haven’t heard it before and don’t know anything about your story. I do this before I pitch to editors! Sometimes we know a project so well that we make too many assumptions: about what will make sense, what’s self-explanatory, what will be intriguing, etc. It’s helpful to get a fresh perspective.

6) Do you have any exciting client/agency news to share?
Yes! I’ll be looking to expand my client list (and the genres I represent) early in the new year. Look for the news on Twitter – I’m @molly_jaffa. Thanks for having me!

A humongous thank you to Molly for being our December Mystery Agent!! Seriously, y'all. She's a sweetheart. Go query her! :)

And guess what? To those of you who didn't win this contest, you have another chance in January! Yes, not only are we throwing a New Year's Revisions Conference, we're also hosting a Mystery Agent contest on January 1st!!! *dances* So keep working on those pitches, and stay tuned for awesome advice on revising that manuscript.

Happy Wednesday!