Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

Awesome Possums

I'm surrendering the blog to my friend Jen K. Blom today--her middle grade book comes out this month. Got any kids? Well, what are you waiting for? Preorder! Take it away, Jen:

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Welcome to the POSSUMS ARE AWESOME blog tour for the middle-grade book, POSSUM SUMMER, coming out IN SEVEN DAYS HOLY COW! (Have you preordered yet?)

It's surprising that we're still doing this and nobody's chased me off, but there's always today, right, Wendy? Darling woman. Lets me come by and still talks to me, even after P had at her.

First off, a little about the book:

a lonely kid.

an orphaned baby possum.

a dad that says no way.

how do you keep that kind of secret?

and what happens when you’re found out?




Here we go!

WC: What do you hope your readers will come away with after reading POSSUM SUMMER?

JKB: Well, I think I'd like two things:

1. It's okay to second-guess your parents. They aren't always right; a lot of the time they're flying by the seat of their pants as well.

and

2. POSSUMS ARE AWESOME. :-D

WC: What are some of your favorite MG books?

JKB: Ooooh! Cool question! I love Wilson Rawls' books SUMMER OF THE MONKEYS and WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS, Sterling North's RASCAL, and WHITE FANG by Jack London. Animal-y type books. Obviously.

WC: What kind of advice would you give P as she grows into her tween years?

JKB: That sometimes, more than sometimes, people can be mean on purpose. Especially if she doesn't march to the same beat they march to. To ignore them as best she could, celebrate who she is and reach for her dreams. I think that's the best I can do.

P: I don't have dreams yet! Hey, Miss Wendy! How are you today? What do you like to eat?

WC: I'm a simple girl when it comes to my favorite meal. I like my dad's famous barbeque ribs he makes in the smoker, my mom's deviled eggs, and I'll need some baked beans and cornbread to go along with that.

P: Ribs are good! Eggs...not so much. But on a whole, you're doing good. What do you like to do?

WC: It sounds so smaltzy I hesitate to answer...but my favorite activity is spending time with my kids. They are at such a great age (9 and 11) and are so funny.

P: One word: Iapprove. I like it! Kids are super more funny than adults ever are! What's something funny about you?

WC: I was once hypnotized at a comedy club and I sang like Madonna.

P: Wow, really? I bet that was the most embarrassing thing ever! *looks at JKB* *JKB shoots glare* *P tries to look innocent* Look, I drew you!

P: Have you ever seen a pronghorn antelope? They are so pretty! They look like a showtune kind of animal, don't you think? I saw a picture of Madonna once, she had cone-things on her that looked like those horns...why, one day, I --

**scuffle**

JKB: Wendy, you rock. :-D Thank you!!!!


Jen K. Blom writes about animals, the land, and kids, not necessarily in that order. Her debut, POSSUM SUMMER, is available March 2011.

Just the thing to give to a kid to start their summer of reading off right! (Available from your local indie, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, or Book Depository!)

Seen the book trailer yet?

Want more POSSUMS ARE AWESOME blog tour tidbits? Go here and knock yourself out!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Novel fodder

I recently started a new novel. Well, not so recently. I just haven't made as much progress as I'd like. I'd been flailing around with it and for many weeks I couldn't figure out why. I loved the premise. It had a strong plot. I could even weave in some interesting themes without being intrusive to the story. So what was the problem?

I haven't been paying attention, that's what. Blame it on this crap winter weather (and today in NYC it is, once again, crap) or a busy life, but there it is: I haven't been people-watching. And that, my friends, is a key part in developing my characters.

No one is outside! And if they are, they are bundled and angry and STEALING MY CAB, dammit. If I needed a pissed off New Yorker character, I'd be all set. Forget going out on the street, I could just look in the mirror.

What I need are people who spark ideas, like these characters:

1. I once had a dentist who was drippy-sugar-sweet. He spoke in sing-song and had this weird whoop of a laugh. All was fine until his assistant came in the room and he yelled her with such anger (hatred, even!) it was as if he could grab her by the hair and slit her throat any second. Then he'd turn to me and do the sing-song again. Yikes. What was going on in his head? I don't know for sure, but he snapped in the middle of a crowded shopping mall. At least in one of my short stories.

2. A character in a book I recently finished up came to me while I was listening to Amy Winehouse. What might it be like to be her BFF? Challenging, I'd bet. So I started with that idea and worked from there. I ended up with one of my favorite (albeit difficult) characters.

3. You know how preacher's kids are supposed to be the wildest? In my experience, not only is that true, but their charismatic dads are great for inspiration.

Now, I never lift someone completely from life. Every character is unique, has a little of myself sprinkled in them, and is a composite from many sources, even snippets of conversation on the subway.

But they usually start from something external. So it's time for me to pay attention again.

How about you? Do your characters originate from observations? Or do you make them up from scratch?


Monday, December 27, 2010

Stuck in the snow

Argh! Stupid blizzard. Instead of shushing down the slopes in Colorado -- and regular blog readers know how much I love to ski (Not. It scares the hell out of me.) -- we are victims of the East Coast Snowmageddon and unable to leave our fair city.

Luckily, we were able to find some fun sledding this morning and a reporter from dnainfo.com was there to snap the evidence. Look, I'm actually smiling! In the snow! Amazing. Read all about it here.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

On turning 40

Although my grandmother wouldn't find it very "ladylike" to announce my age to everyone on the internet, this particular milestone has taken up a lot of space in my brain lately, so I'm going to go ahead an (over?)share. Besides, it's not like information is private anymore. It would take someone all of 4.2 seconds to find out what I ate for dinner last night, never mind my DOB. (I'll save you the trouble. Pizza.)

My husband threw a little shindig for me this past weekend and I have to admit, it did soften the blow of such a, uh, grown up birthday. Forty. Four to the zero. The big 4-oh. Yikes. I really can't pretend to be just a kid anymore, can I?

As much as I'm going to hate no longer being thirty-something, it's an excellent time to recount where I am in life, and where I want to be. I couldn't be more happy about my husband and friends. Truly. And my girls...oh, did I mention that they wrote and recited poetry in my honor in front of a room full of people? No? Allow me just that one brag.

But my career. Well. That area needs some work. I admit I'd hoped to have a book published before The Great Day of Reckoning. That would've made the day perfect. Instead, I'm still trudging along. Making progress, yes, and not giving up, but continuing to swim slowly through a vast ocean of publishing molasses.

Still. I'm determined to get there. My craft has improved, and I'm more confident about how to go about actually finishing 300 pages of fiction in a somewhat organized fashion. I started a new project after weeks of hemming and hawing (my agent refers to this as "percolating" which sounds much more productive) and I'm excited to be working on a novel again.

The goalpost might've been moved, but I can still see it.

How about you? Any goals for the upcoming year?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The ebook smackdown

Now that I've owned my Kindle for almost a year, I thought it might be interesting to tally up the war between paper vs. ebooks. I've mentioned my love of paper books before, and I'll admit I came to the ereader world with much reluctance and consternation (it was a gift.)

The takeaway? As much as I love to hold a book in my hand, I clearly buy more books on my Kindle. It's just too easy. I'll finish a book in bed and still be wide awake, so zipzapzoop, I'll buy and start another one. I carry my Kindle in my (ridiculously giant) purse, so I'm reading more on average. I finished a book last night waiting to pick up my daughter from fencing. The lesson ran long, so I bought another novel.

In the last 11 months, I bought 26 ebooks and 15 (more or less, I don't keep the best records) real and true physical books, mostly from indie bookstores. I wouldn't have predicted those results last December.

So, what do you think? If other people are anything like me, is this bad or good news for authors?

Monday, November 1, 2010

MWF seeks BNI

No, I'm not placing an ad for a Brawny Nude Intern, as interesting as that sounds. Rather, I'm a married writing female searching for a brand new idea. For another novel. Got one?

In the past couple of weeks I've thought of six: two turned out to be short stories now sitting on my hard drive. The other four, well, they have potential. But they need to prove themselves to the judge. So this week I'm working on pitches.

I would guess most people write pitches under duress, with the goal of finding an agent or publisher. I'm writing four this week with the intention to pitch...myself. Perhaps that makes me masochistic. I don't know.

See, I'm a planner. I just HAD to know both my kids' genders before they were born. I research vacation destinations for months and months before making a single reservation, mulling over all possible scenarios. I like to know where I'm going before I start. Plans can change, of course, but I'd rather punch in a GPS destination and have it re-route than just get in the car and drive.

My four contestants will rehearse and make themselves pretty for my own personal American Idol: New Novel Edition. They must be nervous. I'm much more like Simon than Paula.

How do you vet new ideas? Do you just jump in?