2015…BRING IT!

Happy New Year fabulous people!!

Sorry I was MIA for a bit. I was stuck in a funk but I’m done being funky.

Rejection is the suckiest of all suckishness. My finalist #PITCHARAMA status is officially over. The editor who was interested in JESSICA MARCO PI has passed on the project. There, I’ve said it. I was sad. I was distressed. There was a day or two of immature pouting, kicking, rolling around on the floor. It wasn’t pretty. I’m over it. Overall, it was a really GREAT experience. The editor, Katie Teller at Curiosity Quills, was helpful in getting the book into the shape that it’s in. Now I just need to find the agent/editor that it is right for. Although this project wasn’t right for Katie, I would definitely submit to her again . If you’ve got a story, hit her up. She’s super cool.

Don’t go feeling sorry for me. This is the game I’ve chosen. It’s just part of the process and I learn from every experience, even the ones I don’t particularly like.

Let’s move on! *fist in the air. feet marching*

While I’ve been away the holidays came and went… Happy Happy, Merry Merry EVERYTHING! (((Hugs Abound)))

I spent some great time with friends and family– eating, drinking, watched awesome movies, read fricktastic books, spent a day at the zoo, and visited an indoor trampoline park TWICE! I have no pictures of the amazing back-flips I did without killing myself or any small children in my vicinity– you will just have to take my word for it.

Some of my writer friends are choosing a word for inspiration in 2015 instead of resolutions. Cool with me. I pretty much have the same resolution every year: Be a better me. If I’m a better me, hopefully I’ll inspire you to be a better you. Better me. Better you. Better world. Simple.

Back to my word problem. What word will I choose? Oh, the pressure *back of hand to forehead* Good Lord there’s so many! Triskaidekaphobia? Not a great choice for inspiration since it’s the fear of the number 13. I don’t want the fear of anything. Fear is a real friger!

Fear can frig up the best of plans.

“I want to draw but I’m afraid no one will like it.”

“I want to take a dance class but I’m afraid I’ll look silly.”

“I want to talk to that person I think is da bomb but I’m afraid they won’t like me.”

“I want to write a book but I’m afraid I’ll suck.”

Before even trying, fear can beat you into nothingness. I don’t know about you, but I’ll pass on nothingness. I want to be lots of somethingness. I’ll get back to this.

I want to share some of the books I read.

The first is called Finding Out by Sheryn MacMunn. I had the pleasure of having tea with Sheryn, who is a self-published author, and has had huge success with this debut novel. It’s a story about a young woman in the corporate world whose life falls apart and gets help putting herself back together from her neighbor, a Holocaust survivor. Sheryn marries two very different stories in a cohesive interesting tale that I really enjoyed. She shows how the human spirit can endure and overcome just about anything. I personally find the spirit to be an amazing thing and love to read stories that show that. Check her out at sherynmacmunn.com.

Another book I read is Because of Low by Abbi Glines. I was especially interested in reading this book because it is in the New Adult genre just like my JESSICA MARCO PI and because I heard Abbi speak at the NYC 2014 SCBWI conference. LOVE her! It’s a romance with a great backbone. What do I mean by that? It’s not all about sex. It’s a great story about overcoming some crappy life circumstances told from the POV of the two main characters. Again, it’s that human spirit, that amazing power we all have to overcome. Abbi uses two very distinct voices so you see it clearly from each angle. She even had me sympathizing with the jerk in the story! Find her at abbiglines.com.

And the last book is called Every Day by one of my favs, David Levithan. LOVE! Imagine waking up everyday in a different body. You are always the same age but some days you’re a girl, others a boy. You have no control over who you land in whether they be obese, a drug addict, gay, straight or suicidal. Totally about the spirit of each of us who is really who we are anyway. The body is just a vehicle. It’s like a car for the soul. Trippy right? This book is awesome! For me this is what writing fiction is all about. Being able to step into the shoes of a character and bring you along for the ride. Did I mention LOVE? David has way too many other books for me to mention the love for, so go to davidlevethan.com. Be in awe. Come back when you’re done…. I’ll be here.

Welcome back!

So. My word for 2015? You probably guessed it-

FEARLESS

Fear is the stop before I start. Fear is paralyzing. Fear is anxiety producing. Fear of failing will keep me from ever being published. Not havin it. Don’t have time for it.

Are there an abundant amount of things to be afraid of? Hell yeah, just watch the news for five minutes. Will my worrying about any of it help at all? No. Am I telling you not to be afraid of anything? No. As my mother always said, “a little fear will keep you safe.” If you’re in a house that’s on fire– RUN! There’s a difference from being fearless and being stupid. Don’t be stupid. All you stupid people should be reading some other blog. Everyone else… Be fearless with me in 2015!

Until later this month,

PEACE, LOVE, AND A FEARLESS 2015.

 

 

Isla’s Inheritance by Cassandra Page

Looking for something to read this Halloween season? Nothing says Halloween like a séance and a Ouija board!

I’m talking about Isla’s Inheritance by Cassandra Page – Book Blitz & Giveaway!

IslasInheritanceBlitzBanner

I had the good fortune of meeting Cassandra on Twitter this summer when she picked me for her team in the #pitcharama contest which has put my novel in the hands of an editor, who is at this very minute considering publishing my work!!!  I love the internet! If it weren’t for the Twitter contest I would not have met Cassandra nor would I be reading her FABULOUS book! Not just because she’s a debut author but the chick lives in Australia and I’m here in CT. Not much chance of us running into each other at the mall.

Now I have the pleasure of throwing some writer-love her way! Isla’s Inheritance, released on October 9th, is her AWESOME debut novel. A full review to come but for now just a few words—hooked from page one, chill-a-licious, intriguing, secret-reading-in-bathroom-at-work! Secret reading is always a good sign 😉

Check out the Goodreads description, a teaser excerpt AND giveaway below! Feel free to ask a question or leave a comment. Cassandra will be checking in to answer.

Teaser Excerpt

“I’m not sure which is worse,” I whispered to Hamish, stroking his fur, “believing I killed my mother, or believing she abandoned me…and Dad lied about it.” Hamish didn’t answer. He was already asleep. “Well, you’re no use.”

Against all odds, the steady rhythm of Hamish’s breathing lulled me into a doze. It seemed like no time had passed when I awoke to a change in light: my father’s large frame was in the doorway, blocking the light.

“Isla? Are you awake?” His voice was tentative.
“Yes.” I sat up, rubbing my eyes. Hamish grumbled a protest.

“Can I turn the light on?”
“Sure.”

I blinked and stared at my father. He looked dishevelled and his eyes were wide, like he’d seen a ghost. He was holding the gift bag he’d given me on my birthday. “You left this at the restaurant the other week, when you went out for dessert with that boy,” he said, his voice strained.

As confused and resentful as I was feeling right now, I still loved him, and his appearance worried me. “Dad, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” he said. He was an even worse liar than Sarah. He came into the room and sat on the edge of the bed. “Here.” He tried to hand me the bag. Vomit burned the back of my throat, and I flinched back.

He saw the flinch, and his face grew even more drawn. “Isla, take it.” There was an urgency in his tone that I neither understood nor liked.
“No. Dad, what’s going on? You’re freaking me out.”
He looked around the room. “Do you have any of my work in here?”

The question confused me. I felt my cheeks warm. “Um, I’m not sure.” The answer was no. Pretty much every piece of ironwork he’d given me was in the shed. The rest I’d given away to friends.

“Here.” He upended the gift bag. The heavy iron circlet tumbled into my lap.
My stomach twisted with nausea so severe I clenched my teeth, afraid I’d throw up. Where the iron touched my thighs through the denim of my jeans it felt ice-cold, and yet it burned at the same time. I gasped, shoving it away from me and onto the floor. It singed my hand.

“What the hell are you doing?” I jumped to my feet. Hamish leapt up too, yapping.

Dad said nothing but the look on his face was wild, despairing.
“You’re crazy,” I cried, fleeing the room.
“Isla, wait,” Dad yelled after me. But I ran, snatching my bag from the hallway before rushing out the front door.

I ignored the bite of tiny rocks on the soles of my feet. I had to get away from him, from everything.

 

Isla

 

Goodreads:

Isla was content to let her father keep his secrets, but now she can’t stand the touch of iron and her dreams are developing a life of their own. She must discover the truth — before it’s too late.

Seventeen-year-old Isla Blackman only agrees to participate in a Halloween party séance because Dominic, an old crush, wants to. She is sure nothing will happen when they try to contact the spirit of her mother. But the séance receives a chilling reply.

SHE IS NOT DEAD.

Isla doesn’t want to upset her father by prying into the family history he never discusses. When the mysterious and unearthly Jack offers to help her discover the truth, Isla must master her new abilities to protect her loved ones from enemies she never knew existed.

Enter to win a $50 gift card at Amazon or Barnes & Noble – winner’s choice (open internationally) click link below. Good luck!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d0425123570/

Purchase:
AUTHOR BIO:
Cassandra Page is a mother, author, editor and geek. She lives in Canberra, Australia’s bush capital, with her son and two Cairn Terriers. She has a serious coffee addiction and a tattoo of a cat — which is ironic, as she’s allergic to cats. When she’s not reading or writing, she engages in geekery, from Doctor Who to AD&D. Because who said you need to grow up?
Author links:

**SORRY FOR THE REBLOG…ADMINISTRATIVE ISSUES!**

 

EDITOR UPDATE and WORK IN PROGRESS

Hello my friends!

I completed my revisions and sent JESSICA MARCO PI back to the editor, Katie Teller at Curiosity Quills, on September 22, which just happens to be my birthday. Guess what I wished for when I blew out the candles this year!

I am not checking my email every five minutes. Okay, yes I am, but I’m also busy on my new WIP, work in progress. I am 9,000 words into my next YA novel. That translates into about forty pages, for my non-writer peeps. After reading FB and Tumblr posts by Victoria Schwab (veschwab.tumblr.com) I was inspired to chart my progress on a calendar. I tweaked her idea to be more of what I needed.

I’ve committed to 500 to 1000 words a day. I am not using fancy stickers, I’m just not that organized. Mine consists of numbers and lots of !!!!!!! and happy/sad faces. Keepin’ it simple ‘cause it’s fight-for-every-friggin-free-minute up in here and I’m easily distracted.

I find myself squeezing in ten minutes here, ten minutes there because I rarely have a large block of time that I can dedicate to writing. That makes it sound like writing is my hobby. Quite the contrary mother cluckers!

Writing is the beat of my heart. I daydream about my next chapter like some people daydream about a holiday or vacation. I know it’s weird. I’ve always been weird I’m just not hiding my freak flag anymore which earns me strange looks from people who thought they knew me.

But the reality is that so far I’ve only made fifty bucks from writing. Although it’s the bestest-frickin’ fifty bucks EVER, and as much as I consider myself an artist, the bills need to get paid; the kids need to be driven to school, sporting events, gatherings and movies with boyfriend. The oh-God-please-make-it-stop renovations on this why-did-we-move-here house need to get finished. Groceries need to get shopped for if anyone in my house is going to eat. Dinner prep; same reason. Exercise needs to happen so the size of the booty doesn’t get completely out of control and by out of control I mean splitting my pants or hanging down to my knees. Laundry! Teenagers– ‘nuff said. Oh, yeah, and then there’s that other thing I do during the day called a JOB, which for right now is paying some of the bills until my writing career blows up and I’m swimmin’ in da doe.

BUT…writing is the beat of my heart. It is where I dream. It is where impossible things become possible. It’s where I laugh and cry, like an idiot, in a small ugly room in my house along with a laundry wrack and a snoring French Bulldog.

It is what I love to do. Besides my family and God, writing is the most important thing in my life. So I realize as I work on my WIP that I too, am very much a WIP. Aren’t we all?

PEACE, LOVE AND GROOVINESS!

My List of Ten Books…

Thank you cousin Oni Thalheimer and Mark Radzin for nominating me to name 10 books that inspired me or had some kind of impact on me.

I felt like I needed to explain some of them so what better way than to BLOG IT!
Okay so first of all, I have NOT always been an avid reader. I can hear you all gasping so let me explain. I flat-out hated reading when I was a kid. Enough with the gasping already. Sheesh.

All I can remember about reading was reading comprehension tests. I was a slow reader so therefore did not do well on those tests. I felt like a stupid failure or maybe a better way to say it is, I felt stupid and like a failure. I still have an aversion to polka dots because of those tests.
On top of being a slow reader I had a bad case of living in my own private fantasy world. While the teacher would drone on about the required reading assignment, from some boring book I hated, my mind would take me to far away places where I would be the princess in a beautiful castle beatin’ the crap outta the dragon. I was the kind of girl who wore dresses and ripped tights from climbing trees and rocks. I’m still that kind of girl but now I’m an excellent climber…I hardly ever rip my tights anymore.

 
So I made my way through school as a B/C student. I’m not advocating for these kind of grades, I’m just stating my truth. This went on until mid way through Junior year in high school. As luck would have it, I had bunion surgery. Bunions are not lucky. Quite frankly they suck. But because of the bunions the town wouldn’t let me go back to the public high school for fear of someone stepping on my enormously bandaged feet and them getting sued.

The lucky part came in the form of a tutor, whose name I am ashamed I can’t remember and my mother was sleeping so I couldn’t ask her. I couldn’t daydream in front of the tutor. It was just me and her. In a room. For four hours a day. No distractions. Game on.

I became a straight A, honor roll student in high school and in college largely because of this tutor. The first great thing I can remember reading was:

#1. The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart and The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allen Poe. This was one creepy-ass individual and I dug that about him! He inspires me still.

The rest of the books that I’ll mention are not really in any order.

2. Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read this to my children and have given it as a gift. It is incredibly insightful. A lot can be learned from the simplicity of the messages in children’s books.

3. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I was scared to death of this book because of its sheer fatness. When I looked at it, I thought, good God, it’s going to take me a decade to read this sucker! But since its one of my Aunt Minnie’s favorite books, and I adore Aunt Minnie, I finally gave in. I’m happy to report it did not take me a decade to finish and it became a personal triumph as well as one of my favorite books.

4. The Bible by God. There is some amazing history in that book! Sure, its taboo to talk about it, but a little taboo is okay. I enjoy my freedom to read and believe anything I want and I respect yours to do the same.

5. The Diary of Anne Frank. I actually read this in Jr. High while studying the Holocaust. My maiden name is Thalheimer. Half of my family was in Germany during this time. My grandmother told me a story about my Great-Grandfather speaking out against Hitler in a pub and how the SS military beat him to within an inch of his life and how they came and took over their house, forcing my Great-Grandparents and Aunt to cook and take care of them. This was horrible, yes, but it could have been so much worse as I found in Anne Frank’s Diary. This book put a face on evil for me at a very young age.

 
6. Are You There God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume. This book belonged to my cousin Heidi, who probably never realized I stole it from her. I liked reading this book because I thought I wasn’t supposed to read it and of course because it’s fabulous!

7. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. ‘Nuff said.

8. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. When my daughter (who’s now 16) started kindergarten I went back to school for writing. This was the first thing I read that convinced me, without a doubt, that I am a writer.

9. Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini. This book has great significance to me. I met Kim a few years ago when this book, her debut novel, was coming out. I didn’t know this at the time, how bat-shit-crazy a writer’s life is when their book is coming out, which makes this even more special to me. A mutual friend put us in touch with each other, and by that I mean I got her email and stalked her till she wrote back. LOL! And even though she had that bat-shit crazy thing going on, Kim graciously took me by the hand and led me down the newbie writer path. This book represents what I can attain. Kim, as a person, represents the kind of author I hope to be. THANK YOU MY SISTAH!

10. Mother Teresa’s Everything Starts from Prayer arranged by Anthony Stern, M.D. My love for Mother Teresa was cultivated by my Oma (grandmother in German). Mother T was one wise, wrinkled woman! You don’t have to be Catholic, or even Christian, to dig this lady. Mother Teresa said, “People throughout the world may look different or have a different religion, education, or position, but they are all the same. They are the people to be loved. They are all hungry for love.” Her mission was to love everyone regardless of race, gender, wealth, place in the world, or anything else you can think of. I have learned a tremendous amount from her.

You don’t have to be a writer to love reading. You do, however, have to love reading to be a writer. I read EVERYTHING! Young adult, new adult, adult, mystery, romance, paranormal, fantasy…if it’s got words…I read it! I don’t love everything I read but I usually learn something from it all.
So that’s my list. What’s yours?

PEACE

PITCHARAMA CONTEST UPDATE & BEYOND…

Life is a crazy roller coaster ride…so grab a fist full of your underpants and hang on!

As I said in my last post, I made it to the final round of #PITCHARAMA, hosted at http://www.aussieownedandread, thanks to my friend Mel @MyInnerMG, for telling me about the contest and Cassandra Page, who chose me for her team. It may have been my creative way of getting the words “goat balls” into my synopsis or that there was no one else left to pick from, but nonetheless…Cassandra Page @CassandraPage01 you-da-bomb forever in my book!

For a few days it was all—WOO-HOO! and YAY BABY!

Then on June 27th , while on a road trip with my family, the editors made their picks. I watched the twitter feed. I stalked my entry http://aussieownedandread.com/2014/06/27/30-jessica-marco-pi-na/. NO requests—NOT ONE.

My happy dance turned into a wailing-flailing-crying hot mess that went a little like this: “NOOOOOOO! Wahhhhh! and WHY? FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY, WHY?? “

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This roller coaster ride of highs and lows dove into heartbreak hill, twisted around vomit lane, chugged up frustration tower and rolled to a stop at pissed-as-hell. I settled into suck-ville and ate lots of ice cream over the course of the next day.

The twitter feed posted to keep a look out for late requests as some editors were still lurking about. I stayed hopeful for a few more days, checking my phone on vacation constantly until I got yelled at by my two teenagers. Imagine that? My kids were yelling at ME to put down my phone! So I did.

Turning the phone off was easy. Turning off my mind? Not so much. I knew I was going to have to blog about this epic fail because I had opened my big mouth to tell everyone that I was a finalist in Pitcharama and hey look at me, I’m so great in my finalist status. Shit. Shit. Shit.

I licked my wounds, drank wine with good friends and decided, GET OVER IT! Dive Bouteille.jpg

You made it to the final round and that’s pretty frickin’ cool. I stopped stalking the twitter feed and enjoyed the rest of our vacation except for the four hour traffic jam on the New Jersey Turnpike. Oh. My. God.
People do some CRAZY shiznit when they’re stuck in traffic on a hot day.

An old man peed right next to us – did not turn away, just hung it out there for all to see, and whizzed. Dude, nobody wants to see that. We saw whinny kids get yelled at, brothers and sisters beatin’ the crap out of each other and some YA’s smokin’ weed. I’m not judging. It coulda been medicinal marijuana.

I’m thinkin’ no, but hey, you never know. And driving and smokin’, not the best choice. I’m just sayin’.

After we got home I decided to forge ahead and query like a mo-fo.

Then on July 3rd my husband and I were having coffee and I get an email from the Cassandra saying, “Hey, just wanted to make sure you saw the late request.”

My heart started to pound and I started to sweat- the really unattractive sweating- not the girly Keira Knightley glow. I checked my entry and there it was! A glorious request to see more of my manuscript from Andrew Buckley at Curiosity Quills! Thank you Andrew! Check out Andrew at http://www.planetkibi.com

I checked Curiosity Quills submission guidelines, curiosityquills.com, and sent my query and first three chapters. *Note: Whenever guidelines ask for three chapters, they mean your FIRST three. I once sent an agent chapters 5 thru 8. Needless to say, I did not hear back from her.

Four days after submitting to CQ, Katie Teller @KatieTeller1, Acquisitions Editor, requested to see the full manuscript. YAY!!! Thank you Katie!!

VALIDATION! Someone, besides my mother and Cassandra, liked what I wrote. I’ve experienced this feeling one other time when I sold my first short story for fifty bucks. Best high I’ve ever had; truly intoxicating!

Let me just say, I write because I love to write. No real revelation there. It’s the same with all writers. There are stories inside of me that I have to tell, notebooks of notes, napkins with words I’ve been searching for that happen to find me at Dunkin Donuts, and snip-its of dialogue that I’ve only spoken to my French bulldog so far because I have yet to put it all on a page. But I am also addicted to that intoxicating feeling of someone telling me they liked what I wrote, that it made them laugh, that it touched them in some way.

I will write no matter how much success I attain from it. But, getting this far in Pitcharama, is just about the best thing ever!

I’ll keep you posted on JESSICA MARO P.I. and when it can be purchased 😉

Now I’m off to write the next story.

PEACE. Peace my friends, until it oozes from your pores like an infection and spreads like the plague!

*all images from http://commons.wikimedia.org

#PITCHARAMA, JESSICA MARCO PI

#PITCHARAMA

Hi All! This post is for a twitter writing contest. You can find the details at aussieownedandread.com and on twitter #pitcharama.  You can also follow my progress on twitter @jeannieintrieri. Good luck to all participants! This is my story and here’s my pitch:

 

Title:                     JESSICA MARCO PI

Author:               Jeannie Intrieri

Genre:                  NA

Word Count:      59,000

SYNOPSIS

Jessica Marco, a twenty-four year old private investigator, is working on a kidnapping case when she discovers her sister’s piece of shit husband is the kidnapper. He unfortunately gets away by throwing Jess off a small cruise ship where the transfer of money for victim was supposed to happen.

While on the kidnapping case, Jess gets a call from a friend who runs a local funeral home where Fat Sal’s arms and legs have been stolen two days before his scheduled wake. Everyone knows you can’t pull off a wake without arms and legs. They’ll be screaming, serious freak-outs and old ladies fainting at the casket. Who the hell needs that? Jess takes on the case to save her friend’s funeral home from ruin.

Her personal life is just as crazy as her work-life with a mother who steals her laundry, a sister who’s done too much plastic surgery, a grandmother who’s paranoid about the “chill” because that bastard’s always trying to get someone sick and a hot cop/sorta boyfriend.

Her life goes from bad to total goat-balls when her investigation ties both cases together and puts her in the middle of a medical black-market organization that’s killing people for their skin and organs. With millions of dollars at stake, they also have no problem killing anyone who gets in their way.

If Jessica is successful in solving her cases, everyone, except the piece of shit husband, gets to live happily ever after. If she fails, she and everyone she loves will lose their life…and their skin.

NEW ENGLAND SCBWI SPRING CONFERENCE 2014

Create Bravely: Make Your Mark
PART 2

Whoa, phew and holy canoli! Shameful, just shameful!

Sorry it’s taken so long to get part 2 of the amazing SCBWI spring conference blog done.

Life got in the way, as it tends to do sometimes. Quick summation: It was bad (dad had emergency appendix surgery), better (dad is home healing), AWESOME! (Niece’s wedding), talented (both kids were in recitals/concerts and killed it!), mundane (day job, laundry, groceries, cleaning, cooking, and taxi driving). On a side note; a cleaning lady is first on my list when I can afford it!

Anyway… *trumpet blast* onward!

The keynote speaker for the second day was award-winning author Laurel Snyder; Seven Stories Up, The Longest Night, and Good Night Laila Tov, just to name a few! You can check her out at laurelsnyder.com.

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I was shocked to hear Ms Snyder say that this was her first keynote speech. She was eloquent, poised and honest. She appeared totally at ease, no matter what her insides were doing. I was immediately engaged and thought, this is a chick I’d like to have a cup of coffee with. Coffee is big in my world, so please know that is a HUGE compliment. LOL!

She spoke the hard truth: “It’s not enough to just produce something. The world is full of books. Produce something worthy of publication.” My interpretation of this is, don’t just write a bunch of crap. Don’t settle for “it’s good enough”. We writers need to hold ourselves to the highest standards. Good enough, is, well, NOT good enough.

Be spectacular! “You can struggle to make work that matters or you can struggle to make work that doesn’t matter. Either way, you’re going to struggle.” Amen to that, sistah!

She also said, “Don’t write a book about vampires because that’s what’s hot on the market right now. If you try to be something you’re not, it’s not authentic and it shows in your work. Everyone is unique with their own personality, voice and experiences. Become who you are. Figure out what is it that YOU have to say that no one else has to say. Make YOUR mark. That’s your book.”

Inspired yet? Wait, it gets better!

“Draw on personal emotions in your writing. Not that you have to write about every painful experience, but you can use those emotions in all of your writing. If you dig deep down you’ll find the things in you that make you brave. Be brave because it will put your best work out in the world.”

A bunch of years ago I had an accident and hurt my back. Now, I’m not going to write a story about how I fell on a treadmill and broke my ass. BUT, I am going to use those same emotions to write a scene where someone is in pain. The subject matter can be different as long as the proper emotion gets across.

Ms. Snyder made another good point; “Who are you writing for? It’s not just that you have something to say, but you want someone to hear it. Picture the person you are writing for. The listener defines the voice of the speaker. The listener will shape the way you write.”

Very true. I am going to use language when I’m writing for a middle school person that’s different when I’m writing for a senior in high school.

Then, Ms. Snyder cleared something up for me personally. Okay, I know she didn’t write it for me, per say, but it spoke to my heart.

“How do you know when to listen to yourself and when to listen to what other people say?”

When you’re a writer you have to have critique partners. You need an opinion on what you’ve written that isn’t from your mom, sister or neighbor; I don’t care how honest you think they’ll be. It’s great if they like what you wrote but their view is going to be tainted, slanted and sometimes just plain wrong. No one who loves you is going to actually tell you you suck.

BUT, what if you get some feedback from a crit partner that feels off to you? Ms. Snyder said, “You have to check in with yourself about how you react to what other people say, and ultimately you have to have the final say.”

For new writers, here are some fun facts that she mentioned:

– Kids don’t read down. A senior in high school is not going to read a middle grade book so when you write to an agent and you mention who your audience is, be mindful of this.

– Publishing shuts down in the summer.

– Querying during the holidays is useless.

FIRST WORKSHOP

Writing in 1st Person with Nova Ren Suma, author of 17 And Gone and her new book, The Walls Around Us, coming out Spring 2015. Congrats! You can check her out at novarensuma.com

 

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Ms. Suma spoke about some of the reasons writers use first person point of view. Sometimes it’s for story reasons; why the story can only be told through this character. It may also be to illuminate the character so that the reader can get up close and personal. “A writer should take advantage of the narrow scope in which first person tells a story. It should be used as a tool not a fall-back.”

The positive possibilities for using first person:

-The story can feel more real and authentic. The reader can know deep secrets only that character can tell. In first person you can “write with authority, bringing the character to vivid life.”

-Some of the challenges for writing in first person and things to consider:

-You have to be distinct not generic. You can’t write in generalities.

-If you are writing from more than one point of view, you have to make it clear who is speaking.

-You have to describe your character/narrator physically. Nova said, “NOT looking in a mirror! It’s been done to death.”

-Make sure your character knows only what they can know.

-Is your narrator’s voice likable?

Nova also reinforced what I’ve heard at all of the conferences I’ve attended: Show don’t tell. “Instead of having your character say, I’m angry, I’m hurt, I’m out of control—show it. She read an excerpt from Miles From Nowhere by Nami Mun to demonstrate this technique.

Ms. Suma gave us some tips on finding your narrators voice:

– Journal as your main character.

– Make a list of character’s stuff; room, clothes, music, images.

– List character’s painful memories, make a to do list, write a letter he/she would write.

SECOND WORKSHOP

Beyond OMG; Writing Authentic Dialogue for Teens with Sashi Kaufman, author of The Other Way Around. You can check her out at http://www.SashiKaufman.com and on twitter @sashikaufman.

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Ms. Kaufman said, “Writing good dialogue comes from hearing voices in your head.”

“Listen to the dialogue going on around you.”

I love to write dialogue! Here are some helpful suggestions from Ms. Kaufman on getting it done:

“The use of dialogue is to reveal characters, NOT to advance the plot. Remember that your characters are people first and foremost. Do NOT use dialogue for a plot dump!”

“Everyone needs a voice – Not the same as everyone needs a stereotypical role.”

“When you’re writing for teens realize they are one body in two worlds; not children any more but not adults either. Embrace the contradictions.” I LOVE this accurate statement! I have a sixteen year old and a thirteen year old…I live in contradiction-land 😀

“Make your dialogue do the work.”

“Dialogue reveals characters through conflict.”

If your characters are sitting around having coffee and everything is hunky-dory, your story goes nowhere. If your characters meet at the coffee house to discuss fictitional-Joe’s new head growing out of his arse, well now you’ve got everyone wanting to be at the coffee house.

“With dialogue, less can be more and remember you can never go wrong with IDK.”

“Don’t overuse dialogue tags,” she said knowingly. Dialogue tags, like adverbs, should be used sparingly and thoughtfully. (Love Sashi’s humor!) “Unless you absolutely need something for connotation or sarcasm, a simple he said or she said will usually do it.”

When slang works:

– It’s part of voice.
– It’s carefully researched.
– It’s originality.

When slang fails:

– It’s dated.
– It’s meaningless.
– It’s overused.

For those of us who write YA – How to stalk teenagers:

Starbucks, food courts and movies. Sit near them and listen.

 

Twitter    Instagram   

Google+       YouTube 

And other social media venues.

Drive a bunch of them some place. (I can totally attest to this one!)

It’s important to note that Ms. Kaufman takes no responsibility if you get arrested. LOL. 

A few Truths from Ms. Kaufman:
– Teens don’t stand still to talk. You have to get them moving.
– Teens are emotional creatures. They think with their heart first then their head.
– They are universally self conscious about EVERYTHING.
– Avoid stereotypes.
– When writing parents into the story, keep them clueless.

 

AFTERNOON WORKSHOPS:

Six Steps to a Killer 1st Page with Patricia Newman, Regional Advisor for SCBWI. patricianewman.com

 

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“Your first page has some heavy lifting to do. It has to be so compelling that the reader won’t put it down. Your first page is your thirty-second pitch to an agent.”

That statement is SOOOO true! Who hasn’t gone shopping for a new book, picked something up off the shelf, read the first page, and either bought it or put it down? Agents do the same thing. Ms. Newman surveyed a panel of agents for this workshop and shared her findings, which I found t be super useful.

Agents:      Scan the cover, read the submitted pages and IF they like the pages, they read the synopsis. The first page must communicate tone through language and style, character and plot, description and setting.

To accomplish what the agents wants, ask yourself these questions:

Who is your character?

Start with people. Show emotion. Focus on a single point in time; setting, relationships, action. Establish the main character’s voice and age. And the end of the page informs the beginning.

Agent Says:      Grab me! Intrigue me. Ground me. I can usually tell within the first page if it’s a yes or no.

Where are we?

Give a physical location. What’s the weather? Give a hint to the time period. Include senses; talk about textures to refer to touch, color to sight, and what does it smell like.

When I’m writing a scene I close my eyes and I ask myself, what do I see? What does it sound like? Is it hot or cold, wet or dry? What can I smell? Food? Cut grass? Cow poop? Whatever it is, I write it so that the reader can BE there with me. I have an interior design background so it’s a very visual process for me. BUT, at the same time, Ms. Newman said, “Don’t over burden the reader.” So for me, that means to hold myself back a little. She also said, “–ing words are passive. Get them off the first page.”

What engages us?

Unusual settings. Suspense. Mystery. Character’s voice. The time period. Artful prose (or verse). Read your first page out loud and record it.

I’ve heard of reading the page out loud before but I never thought to record it. I thought, hmm, how does it sound? Is it choppy? Does it flow? Does the voice come through clearly? Did I repeat anything? First page real-estate is precious. Don’t waste it by saying something you’ve already said!

Agent Says:      I have to be kidnapped by the language.

What is the Action?

Get your characters moving, put them in motion. Start with a plot point; conflict, question. Get your characters talking: Dialogue. Show vs. Tell. Skip exposition on your first pages. And remember that in YA and MG, parents stay in the background.

Agent Says:      Age? Who is this manuscript for?

Who Is Your Audience?

Know your audience. Picture your ideal reader. Do your word choices match the setting and time period? Know the word count for your genre. The child must solve the problem in the story. And lastly, white space is essential on page one.

Agent Says:    I want a sense of style on page one. Voice is key.

Does Every Word Count?

What is your language style; formal, conversational, regional? Is your use of vocabulary done well and more importantly, correctly? Use active verbs. Mind the white space! Find the words that suck and change them to ones that are FABULOUS! Every. Word. Counts.

“Make your language sing right off the page.”

Thank you Ms. Newman! LOVED your workshop!

 

LAST WORKSHOP:

English 101 for Authors with Professor Marvin Terban, author of a ridiculous amount of books! LOL. (see below)

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First I have to say, Mr. Terban is hilarious in his presentation. If you have a chance to listen to him speak, do it! You will be informed and entertained for the whole session. Mr. Terban said, “We write for children and therefore have a responsibility in doing it correctly.”

Three reasons why an author uses the best grammar possible:

1. The first person who reads it (agent/editor) does not want to fix it.
2. We write for kids and have a responsibility.
3. Modern day technology is ruining English.

If you send your work to an agent and she/he is looking at your query and someone else’s that is equally engaging, it may come down to grammar to make the decision on who to represent. It is extremely competitive in today’s market. Agents and editors want to work with authors that make their job easier. So even if your idea is good, but your paper is loaded with spelling and grammatical errors, they will pass on you.

 

Go here to see the top 15 grammatical errors that make you look silly.  http://www.copyblogger.com/grammar-goofs

 

English, and the learning of English, hasn’t changed. Look at some of Mr. Terban’s books, or all if you’re feeling confident your brain won’t explode from the awesomeness. Refresh yourself. Check on the things you think you know. Change all of the things that you have no frickin’ clue about.

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Schools can invite PROFESSOR GRAMMAR to visit their school by emailing him at mterban@verizon.net.

Like Laurel Snyder said, “It’s not enough to just produce something.”

Be magnificent! Be superb! Be brave!  Make your lasting finger print on the world. Be someone who wrote something that people can’t stop talking about. And then do it again, and again, and again…

Peace My Friends 🙂

*You can also find me on twitter @jeannieintrieri

 

NEW ENGLAND SCBWI SPRING CONFERENCE 2014

Create Bravely: Make Your Mark

Part1

What an amazing experience!! I have so much to tell that I thought it best to break this blog into two parts.

I left my house at 5:30 a.m. Okay, that’s NOT the amazing part since I’m not really a get-up-at-the-crack-of-friggin-dawn kind of girl!

The conference began with a welcome from the conference organizer, Kristin Carlson Asselin, author of Any Way You Slice It. Thank you Kris!! You did an awesome job!

Kristin said, “You have to be brave to get through the process.” So true.www.kristineasselin.com

Then they picked names for a door prize drawing…And I won this book!!

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The first keynote speaker was Peter H. Reynolds, author of Dot and Ish. Both of these wonderful picture books are about encouragement.

Peter said, “We get magnificence from just a little encouragement.”

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Both books illustrate this message beautifully for children. He also spoke about what’s going on in our schools, how art is the first thing to get cut when budgets are decided.

“Get rid of tests that stifle creative teachers from teaching creatively. This age of testing keeps teachers from actually getting to know their students which would enable a teacher to teach more individually.” Totally agree Peter!!

Art and creative writing teaches our students to expand their minds. Teaching to the test teaches our students to limit themselves to learn just what they need to know for the test. Common Core assumes that we are all the same and should all learn the same thing at the same time. Not true. We are not the same. Even identical twins, who may look the same, have a different voice, different interests, different abilities. We are all wonderfully unique. And that’s all I have to say about that…for now.

My first workshop of the day was Perfecting Your Pitch with The Book Doctors, http://www.theBookDoctors.com, a.k.a. Arielle Eckstut & David Henry Sterry, authors of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published.

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I LOVED these two! They were hilarious and super informative. They asked, “What is your book about? The answer is your pitch.” They explained how sometimes the only opportunity you get is to give an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is over in a flash, the same amount of time that it would take an elevator to get from one floor to the next.

Then there’s the long pitch, which is funny because it’s over in under a minute, two hundred and fifty words. That’s it. The people that we are pitching to, read/hear pitches all day long; be ready at any time to give your pitch. And it better be badass. Practice it out loud. If it sounds stupid or confusing to you – you who wrote the book – imagine how it will sound to a stranger.

David said, “Back story does not belong in your pitch.” He also said, “Show don’t tell. Don’t tell me it’s funny, make me laugh. Don’t tell me it’s sad, make me cry.”

Then there was a discussion on finding comp titles. That’s where you find something already out on the shelves that’s similar to your books. “Find out who the author’s agent is and query them. BUT, don’t pick a book that’s too famous. Pick something that’s like your book, has done well, but not so commercially known. This shows you know the industry.”

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My second workshop was a Writing Intensive on Character Development with Aubrey Poole, Associate Editor, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky and Fire. http://www.sourcebooks.com

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Aubrey talked about using an ISTP (Introverted Sensing Thinking Judging) for character development. This relates to characters that have introverted sensing with extraverted thinking. She spoke passionately about Sherlock Holmes as an example of this type of character. She REALLY likes Sherlock! Me to Aubrey!!

Aubrey also said, “Characters shouldn’t be the same at the end of a story as they were at the beginning. They have to go through change.” Some questions to ask yourself when you’re working on your plot:

What does your main character want?
What is the price he/she will pay for it?
How will he/she achieve this?
What will he/she sacrifice?

Verythought-provoking indeed.

The Crystal Kite Award was given to Jo Knowles for, See You At Harry’s.

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This woman’s speech made me cry. She was so gracious and genuinely touched to receive such an amazing award. She spoke about knowing what it’s like to be an unknown author, conference attendee. She encouraged those of us who have not been published yet to persevere and stick with the SCBWI. Congrats Jo! And thank you for the words of encouragement. I truly appreciate them!

My next workshop was, Write What You Don’t Know; A Workshop on Fleeing Your Comfort Zone with Kendra Levin, Senior Editor, Viking Children’s Books, http://www.KendraCoaching.com, and Julie Berry, @julieberrybooks, http://www.julieberrybooks.com, author of All The Truth That’s In Me. AMAZING book! This workshop was two hours of frickin’-awesomeness!!

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This very hands-on workshop is the second workshop of Kendra’s I’ve had the pleasure of attending and the first of Julie’s.

One of the exercises we did was to write a conversation between two of our character’s where the main character learns something they didn’t know. After that we described the secondary character; looks, personality, feelings. Then we did the same exercise but made all the characteristics of secondary character the complete opposite. My opposite secondary character was very dark and angry. I kinda liked him that way! LOL!

We talked about what we already know about our own comfort zone.
What POV do you prefer? What kind of voice do you like to use? What kind of stories do you write; contemporary, fantasy, horror, sci-fi. Julie said, “If you always write in first person ( I ) try to write in third person (he, she, it). Or try second person (you). Pushing your boundaries makes you a better writer.”

The next writing intensive we did was to show your character discovering their true calling. I LOVED this one! I got a whole scene out of it.

Some of the books they recommended were, Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich, Creating Fiction by Julie Checkaway and The Art Of Fiction by John Gardner.

I would love to do another workshop with these two ladies!

Now after all that you would think the day would be done. NO!

The Industry Professional Panel on Publishing In and Out of New York featured:
Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, LLC.  http://www.marsallyonliteraryagency.com

Mandy Hubbard of D4EO http://www.d4eoliteraryagency.com
Emily Mitchell of Wernick & Pratt Agency  http://www.wernickpratt.com
Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger, Inc.  http://www.harveyklinger.com

All of the agents agreed that you do not have to be in NY to get published. Here are some words of wisdom from the panel.

“The writing sells the book. Write a good book and you will get an agent interested in working with you.” Mandy Hubbard

“Don’t give up. Perseverance pays off.” Kathleen Rushall

“Having an agent will not solve all of your problems. You will still have a lot of work to do.” Emily Mitchell

“Just because one of us passes on your book doesn’t mean it won’t sell. It just means it wasn’t right for us.” Sara Crowe

Phew! It was a jammed packed day, that for me, ended with a hot fudge sundae in my room 😉 Some of my fellow writers attended the poetry slam and others went to the peer critiques that evening. Day 1 of the New England SCBWI was well worth every penny!

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Day 2 coming soon!!

Peace party people 🙂