Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wednesday WOLF

I've got a collection of random information in my brain that makes me an awesome Trivial Pursuit partner, but is completely useless when it comes to real world application. Like say, job applications. I thought I'd share some of this random crap with you in the form of another acronym-ific series. I give you - Word Origins from Left Field - the WOLF. Er... ignore the fact that the "from" doesn't fit.

Are you familiar with blue laws? It's a holdover from the Puritans that still exist "on the books" in some places, although they are rarely enforced. Puritans had very strict rules about what should and shouldn't be done on a Sunday, and so many blue laws came about as a result.

Just FYI - this is why in many states you can't buy liquor on a Sunday.

And while that one is familiar to most of us, in Texas you couldn't purchase washing machines, pots and pans and many other housewares on Sundays until the mid 1980's, presumably to enforce the "no work on Sunday" rule.

But why are they called blue?

The word blue, in the 18th century could be used to mean "rigidly moral" - and it wasn't said nicely. It would be the equivalent of calling a female an "ice queen."

So this made me wonder... is there a connection to blue meant as a disparaging way to comment upon someone's Puritanical manner, and the phrase "swearing a blue streak?"

I looked, but couldn't find any known reference between the two.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Debut Author Heather Smith Meloche On The Submission Process

If there's one thing that many aspiring writers have few clues about, it's the submission process. There are good reasons for that; authors aren't exactly encouraged to talk in detail about our own submission experiences, and - just like agent hunting - everyone's story is different. I managed to cobble together a few non-specific questions that some debut authors have agreed to
answer (bless them). And so I bring you the submission interview series - Submission Hell - It's True. Yes, it's the SHIT.

Today's volunteer for putting up with my SHIT is Healther Meloche, who graduated from Michigan State University (MSU) with a degree in English and Telecommunication. At MSU, she wrote and copy edited for newspaper and television, and also mentored with poet Diane Wakoski. After college, she pursued a Master’s in Teaching English as a Second Language through Bowling Green State University (BGSU), and eventually took classes through The Institute of Children’s Literature. Her debut, RIPPLE,  released from Penguin Putnam last week!

How much did you know about the submission process before you were out on subs yourself?

I knew pretty much zilch. I really trusted my very seasoned agent, Heather Schroder, to know how to go about getting the book out there effectively. 

Did anything about the process surprise you?

My agent sent the book out in rounds. She chose about a half dozen editors she thought would be a good fit for the first round. When none accepted, she regrouped and did it again with a second group. 

Did you research the editors you knew had your ms? Do you recommend doing that?

Heather gave me a brief, verbal list of the houses she was submitting to, but not specific editors. So there wasn’t a chance to research. I’m really glad about that because I’m sure I would have obsessively looked them up online, social media stalked them, Googled them a thousand times. It would have been maddening. And pointless. An editor was either going to accept or not. My Googling them ad nauseam wasn’t going to change that. 

What was the average amount of time it took to hear back from editors?

The first round took three to four weeks to complete. When that was done, the second round was faster since there were a couple editors interested. They got back within a couple weeks.

What do you think is the best way for an author out on submission to deal with the anxiety?

Trust the book, the time and effort you put into it to give it legs of its own, and your agent. And frankly, move on. Keep writing something else. It will distract you and keep you focused on the idea that, if the novel on sub can’t get sold, you’ve got something else prepping in the queue.

If you had any rejections, how did you deal with that emotionally? How did this kind of rejection compare to query rejections?

When Heather came to me with the news that the first round was not successful, I was frustrated. But my agent is awesome and always positive. She immediately told me she was getting her next set of big guns out and getting ready to fire that second round. Because I knew she was out fighting for me and she was already a fan and an advocate, those sub rejections were a lot easier to deal with than any query rejections. With her by my side, I knew I already had someone in the publishing business who believed in me and my work. 

If you got feedback on a rejection, how did you process it? How do you compare processing an editor’s feedback as compared to a beta reader’s?

The feedback I got from editors was much vaguer than a beta reader’s and primarily dealt with them not quite grasping the issue I was writing about. One of RIPPLE’s main themes focuses on an issue that people tend to either click with or not. I actually drafted an author letter with my personal story connected to the issue and sent it to my agent as added fuel for selling if she chose to use it. As far as I know, she never did since the second round ended successfully. But I’ve used that letter now as the basis for other promotional author letters to media outlets who receive my book, so I’m really glad I wrote it!

When you got your YES! how did that feel? How did you find out – email, telephone, smoke signal?

Heather called super excited to tell me a great house and a fantastic editor had chosen RIPPLE. It was a simultaneous, long-distance happy dancing session, for sure!

Did you have to wait a period of time before sharing your big news, because of details being ironed out? Was that difficult?

I told my immediate family and closest friends right away, since they’d been on this publishing journey – with all its ups and downs – with me. “See! All Mommy’s moodiness was worth it!” I didn’t share the news with most people until I signed the contract. I know that in this business, until things are written down, filed, on the shelves, they can fall through. So I waited to shout it from the rooftops until all the legalities were in order. Then I shouted like a crazy woman.

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Keeping It Real

Often people ask what release day is like for an author. You have two choices. You can reload your Twitter feed and check your Amazon ranking constantly, or you can pretend like it's any other day and go about your business.

THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES released last Tuesday and I opted for the latter. First things first I went out and walked the yard because we had a decent storm a few days earlier and there were sticks that needed to be picked up. So I went about doing that and discovered a dead crow in the yard. Being a writer, I had a reaction.

Me: There's a dead crow in the yard.
Boyfriend: Do you want me to get it?
Me: I'm more concerned about what this could mean on my release day.
Boyfriend: *stares* Okay, I'll get it.

Then I checked my Twitter feed and Amazon ranking.

Then I did laundry, which has a particular zen to it because I hang my laundry outside to dry. I managed to forget it was a release day for about ten minutes, because nothing smells quite as good as wet laundry and sunshine. And then one of the cats came over to see me and and flopped over for a belly rub, so life was good.

Then I checked my Twitter feed and Amazon ranking.

Next it was time to do dishes, because there's a particular zen to that when you own a dishwasher. I had some mason jars that had herbs stuck to the bottom from the homemade pizza sauce that had been in them so I told the boyfriend we needed to go to town because I needed a scrubby thing on a stick.

Boyfriend: Right now?
Me: Or I could get on my laptop and check my -
Boyfriend: Okay, right now.

So I went "into town" (and yes, that's a phrase we still use out here in the country, all Laura Ingalls Wilder-like) and I got my scrubby on a stick, and Mr. Boyfriend decided he needed to buy some other things at the hardware store, so we went there. I remembered I wanted copper pipe for distilling essential oil out of my juniper bushes, so I distracted myself with a whole wall of copper pipe for about 10 minutes.

Then I pulled out my phone and checked my Twitter feed and Amazon ranking.

And then - amazingly - Paula Abdul was playing on the store music feed and I found out I still know all the words to "Straight Up," which led me down this path of thought about oral history and cadence, and how music and rhythm assist memory. It really is a particular kind of magic that you can hear a song you haven't heard in 25 years and still know every word. Boyfriend was attempting to figure out what size vent pipe he needed for a project while not listening to me sing and so...

I pulled out my phone and checked my Twitter feed and Amazon ranking.

Then we got coffee and I'm one of those people who rejoices at pumpkin spice time and doesn't mind that absolutely everything is pumpkin spiced right now. My road is being resurfaced as a I type this and I think they're using pumpkin spice. I'm thrilled.

I got home and pulled out the laptop. I had some emails from friends who also had books releasing that day, who were taking a break from checking their Twitter feeds and Amazon rankings to email me and ask me about my Twitter feed and Amazon ranking.

This is what release day is like.

It makes you neurotic and I enjoy every second.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Book Talk & Giveaway: THE GRACES by Laure Eve

My book talks are coming at you from a librarian, not a reviewer. You won't find me talking about style or craft, why I think this could've been better or what worked or didn't work. I only do book talks on books I liked and want other people to know about. So if it's here I probably think it won't injure your brain if you read it.

River's new school has the Graces' - a blue-blooded, old-money, super-attractive group of siblings who attained everything they have through witchcraft. Or so people say. River's heard all the rumors, and she wants to learn from them. But how does the awkward new girl get the attention of Summer, the most popular girl in school, and the twins Fenrin and Thalia?

By slowly, carefully, becoming their friend. The first step is to hide her attraction to Fenrin, because his sisters hate girls who only get close to them to get close to their brother. The next step is to play it cool when she gets invited over to their house - somewhere no one else has been since an ill-fated birthday party the town is still talking about.

The last step is to learn their secrets - and keep them.

The only problem is... River has a few of her own.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

Thoughts lately...

1) I want the humor of the 2000's and the humor of the 90's to blend into one with the overuse of "That's what your mom said."

2) If you want to turn it into a publishing joke you add, "in space."

3) If you want to make sure the sexual innuendo super clear you add, "last night."

That's what your mom said in space last night.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wednesday WOLF

I've got a collection of random information in my brain that makes me an awesome Trivial Pursuit partner, but is completely useless when it comes to real world application. Like say, job applications. I thought I'd share some of this random crap with you in the form of another acronym-ific series. I give you - Word Origins from Left Field - that's right, the WOLF.

Let's face it, some people are just outlandish. They blog, they tweet, they have tumblrs & a an eponymous website, they make their own book trailers and make vlogs of themselves being idiots, they are brunettes and have the initials MM. God... these people.

In connection with such folks, today I want to talk about the expression over the top.

World War I was kind of awful for a lot of reasons - large scale mechanized warfare, the introduction of chemical weapons, and of course, trench warfare. Barbed wire that lined trenches has become iconic of WWI in a lot of ways, because despite the new technology involved in fighting, some of the most lethal and horrific moments came when soldiers crawled from their trench to fight hand-to-hand with the guys crawling out of the opposite trench.

Anyone who took the fight to this extreme was said to have gone... over the top.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Finally! Today THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES hits the shelves, a book whose first draft I wrote over 15 years ago. Buy links are below!

First of all, I want to say that everyone always asks me what a release day is like for the author. It's utterly fascinating, I have to tell you. I'm sitting in my pajamas, have researched how to grow mushrooms out of coffee grounds, and need to call insurance to argue about medical bills.

Sexy. As. Hell.