The Sweetie Chronicles

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

Update: My Vision Board

I finished! Here's a look at my personal vision board:

It is full of affirmations and goals and dreams of what my future will be. I know that I already have the most important ingredient for my own happiness - my amazing husband. He's everything I ever dreamed of in a life partner, and more. Now, it's just a matter of us working together to achieve the rest of our dreams. Hopefully this vision board will help us to focus on those goals and get motivated to work toward them every day!

Creating My Vision Board

My goal for today is to create a "vision board". So what is a vision board? As I understand it, it's a place where I can put my goals and where I want to be in the future into visual images and affirmations. For example, I want to focus on losing weight and getting healthy. In the future, I see myself as someone who is thin, beautiful, and healthy. Last night, I cut out pictures of healthy food, exercise equipment I want to use, and words like 'beautiful' and 'go the extra mile'. Weight loss is just one part of my vision for my future, but it's important. There are four other things on my personal vision board, and while I won't go into them, I will post a picture of the finished board on Monday or later this weekend.

After I finish making the board, I will post it somewhere near my desk in the office where I can see it all day, every day. In the mornings, I will meditate on those images. I will picture myself having those things and imagine myself working hard to make them come true. I think the major difference between what I've been doing with my goals and the vision board is that in the past, I have always thought about my long-term goals and felt overwhelmed. It's easy to get frustrated and feel like these goals are so far away that they are nearly impossible. When I think of my goals in these terms, it's always negative thoughts like "I can't do it" or "I'll never happen" or "It's just too hard".

With a vision board, the whole point is to visualize myself already having this life that I want. If I meditate on these images and picture myself inside of this vision I have for my future, I will be more motivated to work toward those goals every day. Now, there are also people out there who claim that simply focusing on specific wants and declaring to the universe that I want them (in a positive way) will open up doors out of positive energy. The universe will move in order to bring these things into my life. I don't know for sure how or if that really works, but I'm willing to test it out and give it a shot. Being positive and finding a morning motivator will only bring good things into my life. A positive attitude can only help me in achieving my goals. So today, I make a vision board. It's my Friday project, and I'm excited to get focused and clear about what I want as we move into September next week and I begin writing a new novel.

Happy Friday all! Have a great weekend!

Book 15: NAKED IN DEATH


I know I've lost count at this point. I've definitely read more than fifteen books this year, but I have failed to write reviews on my site about them. /sigh. It was a good idea, but I've definitely fallen short on getting every book up here. This one, however, I wanted to mention for a variety of reasons.

'Naked in Death' by J.D. Robb was an awesome book. I read it over the course of four or five nights, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Eve Dallas, the main protagonist of the series, is a cop in the 2050's. She's tough-as-nails, sexy, and very smart. She doesn't take shit from anybody, which I love. But what I love most about her is that she doesn't feel... manufactured. She feels real, like someone who could really exist. She's flawed. She's capable of being vulnerable. As I read this book, I worried for her and cheered for her. No wonder there are now something like 30 books in the 'in death' series. I'm definitely a new fan.

Roarke, the love interest, is also quite sexy. He's a billionaire, for one. And has an Irish accent. What's not to love? He's definitely an Alpha male who doesn't take no for an answer, which for me can often be a turn-off. But with Roarke it works simply because he's so head-over-heels for Eve. He truly cares for her and is protective of her, but at the same time, he's impressed by her and respects her skills and intelligence. Very sexy.

This first installment of the 'in death' series follows Lieutenant Eve Dallas as she investigates a series of murders involving certified "companions", which basically means prostitutes. I'm guessing that each book hereafter will explore some other police mystery that will have her questioning witnesses, lining up suspects, finding clues, and eventually capturing the criminal. I can't speak to how well the series formula holds up after fifteen or so books, but the first book was certainly riveting, and I already have the second, "Glory in Death" here to read next. If you haven't read any of Nora Roberts' 'In Death' series, I highly recommend it.

Fish-sitiing

I am the proud babysitter of one very pretty Beta fish. His name is "Alpha", how cute is that? My friend J is going to Japan for a couple of weeks, so I agreed to watch him. I'm already loving him. As you can see, I couldn't really get a great picture of him. He tends to hide in the little grass most of the time, but every once in a while, he comes to the front of the tank to say hello.

Fish are so cool, and the fact that you can have one who is content to live in a small enough tank to sit on your desk? I love it. I just hope I can keep him healthy and happy while J is in Tokyo, hopefully having the time of her life. I'll try to get some better pictures of Alpha this week as we become more acquainted.

Shiny New Idea

I love new ideas. It's exciting to come up with a totally new cast of characters, a new setting, a brand new plot or premise. It feels especially shiny and new when you've been working on your last novel for almost a year. I'm burned out on it, to be honest. I know it needs more revisions, but I need space first. Time to let it cool off before I go back in and start dissecting it again or rewriting. I'm hoping that once I go back to it, I'll find out that it is actually pretty good. Haha. After struggling with one idea and one story for so long, it's awesome to start working on a brand new, shiny, fresh idea.

It's too early for me to share the details of this idea, because it isn't really formed yet, but I have this plan. I am going to write a series with the intention of self-publishing online. I am setting some pretty huge goals for myself, hoping to have two books written and published online by Christmas. Meanwhile, I am going to let my novel, Pandemic, get cold for a few months. Then I'll brush it off and begin rewrites again with the intention of querying agents and sending it out.

I have also been thinking of starting a new blog. Something totally fresh where I can explore the topic of self-publishing vs. traditional print publishing. It's definitely a topic worth exploring these days. So much to think about... If I do start a new blog, I'll be sure to let you know. :)

Digital Titles at the Library

Yay! My local library has finally started carrying ebooks! I went on their website to peruse the selection, and it's actually not too bad. In fact, I have already checked out 2 ebooks for my Sony reader. 'The Carrie Diaries' by Candace Bushnell, which is the teen life of Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City. I haven't started reading it yet, but I have loved almost all of Bushnell's books, and we all know how much I love the series her book spawned. I've been dying to read this newest book, but haven't wanted to shell out the $15 bucks or so to buy it. Another book in that same category (the category of not wanting to pay fifteen dollars, I mean) is Nora Roberts' 'Vision in White', the first of her Bride Quartet. I have to say, I actually love the actual trade paperback copy of this book in the bookstores. It's beautiful. Tattered edges, silky cover, gorgeous dress on the front. I love all things bridal, so this book appeals to me without even having to know what's it's about. Still, every time I pick it up, I see that huge pricetag and put it right back down.

Being a book lover is expensive. I support the industry and purchase several hundred dollars worth of books a year. But when the price of a book gets over $10, I often have to put it down and look for something else I wanted to read. Or I have to look for alternate ways to read that book. Does a friend of mine have a copy I could borrow? Is there a copy at the used bookstore for only $4? Do they have a copy at the library? I was extremely happy to find out that the Wake County Library system here in the Raleigh area is now offering digital audio and ebooks for check-out. The audio books are 7 day or 14 day check-outs and the ebooks are 21 days. You can download them to your computer, then transfer them to your ipod or your ereader. After the time has expired, they simply disappear. It's brilliant.

I will continue to support the publishing industry by buying books, don't get me wrong. In ebook format, audio, and paperback. I even buy the occasional hardcover (Mockingjay anyone?) if it's a book I have been waiting for or an author I can't resist. But it's nice to know that for those other books that I want to read, but can't really afford, there's now a digital option. I hope this spreads to all library systems and that more and more selections become available for temporary download. If you live in Wake County and would like to check out their selection, go to the library's digital media page to read more.

Making Character Collages

After this awesome video by Tera Lynn Childs at Writeoncon, I felt inspired to make a few character collages. I'm going to be starting a new project soon, and I wanted to get an idea of who these characters really are. Plus, I got to spend lots of fun time with my friends and critique partners, which is always good. We talked through our stories a little bit and worked out some plot details while we cut things out. I wish I had taken a picture of the living room floor with all of the magazines on it! It was completely packed with everything from Dwell Magazine to Vogue to Martha Stewart's Weddings. We probably had over 50 magazines spread out on the floor to choose from! When you're stuck on figuring out a character's personality or what kind of clothes she wears or what her hair really looks like, heck even what house she might live in, you can always grab a stack of magazines for a visual cue. It's visual inspiration that gets your ideas flowing and helps give that extra spark when you're either stuck or just tired or unable to make some decisions. I highly recommend it.

And no, your collages don't have to be the best looking, most artistic pieces in the world. Seriously. Check out my first collage from last night here. It's simple, but you can easily get an idea of what this character's personality is. Include words, outfits, details like the cheerleader, ice cream, kittens, her favorite handbag, a scarf, whatever. Anything goes as long as it gets you thinking and helps you clarify who that character is or what she likes. You don't even have to show them to anyone else. I plan to hang mine on the wall in front of my computer so that I can look up while I'm writing that character's dialogue or a scene from their POV. I figure it's worth a shot to see if I can get into that character's head a little faster and see things from their eyes.

Happy Friday everyone. Have a great weekend.

Making Decisions

Sometimes I feel paralyzed when I have to make important decisions. I'm certainly old enough to have been making my own decisions for many years now, but at the same time, there are certain kinds of decisions that leave me spinning my wheels for months, unable to really commit. Yesterday, I had a breakthrough when I realized that this is definitely where I'm going wrong with my career path. Too many options, not enough focus.

When I think about the different ways I can make money, I know that I am lucky. I have multiple options. I'm not saying I could become an instant millionaire, but making a decent living for myself wouldn't be too hard if push came to shove. I'm also extremely lucky because my husband gives me the freedom to explore these career paths so that I can find the best one for us both financially and emotionally. The only problem is that I've been spending a couple of years now bouncing back and forth between several possibilities.

Yes, I am a writer. But I'm also a voice and piano teacher who has thought about opening a full studio to make money. I also have put applications in at various teaching jobs and sub jobs. I also write articles online for money. And I write novels, hoping to someday get published by a 'Big Six' house. I also have considered writing books to self-publish in digital format. There are lots of options out there, and even though I'm working hard, I know I've lacked the focus I need to truly make any of those things work out the way I hope they will. It reminds of that old saying "jack of all trades, master of none." I don't want to be sort-of good at a lot of things. I want to be super successful and really amazingly good at one thing (and therefore, make a ton of money doing it, if possible :P).

Over the next week or so, I'm going to be doing a lot of thinking about my goals and options. I'm setting a September 1st deadline for myself to make some important decisions about my career focus. Self-publishing? Voice teaching? Traditional route? What is my number one career goal? I'll let you know :P.

5 Things

There are 5 essential things I need to do every single day in order to keep moving forward with my goals. Sometimes, life can seem overwhelming, so narrowing my focus down to these 5 things will (hopefully) help me seem less frazzled and make my goals seem less impossible. Earlier this week, I suffered a sort of meltdown. I couldn't sleep, so I got up and wrote in my journal until almost 4 am. What did I write about? Basically, the fact that so many of my goals feel so impossibly out of reach. I want to lose weight, but it's hard to stay consistent with good eating habits. I want a career as a writer, but it's so hard to get published or make any money. I want a nicer house with a garage so G can work on his old Hornet. And I want a baby. But when I put all those things together like that, it feels like there's all these huge, unattainable goals just out there mocking me.

So, I'm going to try just making sure to get something done from eat of these 5 things every single day. If I can stay consistent and make it happen, then I'll be moving in the direction of those goals and dreams. What are the 5 things?:

  1. Eat Right - I have lost over 10 pounds, but I still need to lose 41 pounds before I hit my goal weight. Then I want to actually keep it off. This will help in my self confidence, but will also make it better for when we start trying to have a baby.
  2. Write - This means either working on my novel or writing articles online for adsense revenue. Either one works for the writing, but bonus if I can get both done in one day. Right now it doesn't equal much money, but eventually I have to hope that it will produce the millions.
  3. Exercise - In the same basic category as eating right, I want to also exercise. It will help me lose weight faster, relieve stress, and gain energy. I recently found out that I can use the gym and classes at my husband's work for free! I just have to get a health check first, so that's step one to using the gym. Other than that, I walk or use the stationary bike here in the house.
  4. Read - Definitely the easiest one on the list, but no less essential. Reading is important for my career and for my peace of mind. I love to read. As a writer, it is good to stay up with the market and to see how other writers handle plot, imagery, mechanics, characterization, etc. Right now, I'm reading Stephen King's 'IT' on my Sony Reader. This is the easiest of the 5 to fulfill because I can simply read for half an hour or so before I go to sleep.
  5. Clean the house - Ugh. This is one of the hardest for me. I hate cleaning, but there's always so much that has to get done. I can't imagine what this one will be like once there actually is a child living in our house. Hopefully doing all of the other things on my list will lead to making enough money someday that I can hire someone to do a lot of the cleaning for me. :) In order to keep it from getting out of hand, I need to do a load of laundry or clean the kitchen or something every day. For some people this is automatic and not worthy of going on the list, but for me, it's torture.
I am going to work to stay consistent with these 5 things. Every day. As long as I move forward with each of these, I will be moving in the direction of what I want in life. Simple as that. The more I can do, the further I go. Every single choice I make regarding these five aspects of my life makes a difference. My goals aren't nearly as unattainable as they sometimes feel, and I need to remember that some things are under my control.

The Pain of Rejection

Yesterday, I got rejected by the agent of my dreams. For the most part, it was a form rejection. And it broke my heart. There was a short note at the very bottom of the email saying that although my writing is strong, the story didn't stand out enough to make her fall in love with it. Sound familiar? If it doesn't, then you haven't been reading my rejection letters. They are starting to sound like a broken record.

I guess as far as rejections go, I would much rather be told that I have strong writing with a weak story that didn't quite grab them than be told that my story seemed interesting, but my writing sucked. Of course, G and I have spent hours talking about how a truly great writer can make pretty much any story fly as long as he/she can make you love the characters. Epic fail on that front, I suppose.

One agent does not a disaster make, though, and I plan to keep sending queries. Maybe someone will see potential there and want to give it a shot. I don't even have a list of possible agents yet, to be honest. My goal is to make that list, give the manuscript a final revision and polish, then send out a fresh batch of queries on September 1st. That's two weeks from tomorrow. I'm also toying with the idea of writing a 3 book series of short, 50,000 word books with a plan to digitally self-publish them through the Kindle store. There's a chance I would be like the majority and sell somewhere around 20 copies total. But there's also a good chance I would sell 20 copies a day at some point. Or more. I'm willing to work hard to see if it could be a viable career option. There's just something about not having to go through these gatekeepers that is so damn appealing. But that's another blog post all together.

Weekend Purge

Sometimes it just feels good to organize. For example, our office has been slowly growing out of control. We have this closet that used to have sliding doors over it. When I first moved in, we took those doors off, put in a few bookcases, and turned the closet into a little mini-library. It was all very organized. I promise.

G's side of the closet pretty much always stays organized. He rarely adds anything to it other than some spare computer parts, so it stays the same most of the time. My side, on the other hand, is insane. I stack books, CDs, pens, notebooks, and papers over there. Magazines, ugh. Once my shelves were full, I just started stacking things on top. I seriously wish I had taken a "before" picture yesterday so you could have seen it. It was... precarious.

Saturday night I had a minor melt-down in the middle of the night. I stayed up crying and writing in my journal, feeling like I was never going to be the person I want to be. It happens. It sucks, but it happens. To make myself feel better, G suggested I pick one thing and concentrate on making it right. I picked the mini-library/ex-closet mess. It took hours. First, I pulled everything out and organized it into piles. Real Simple magazine here. Game Informer there. Books I've already read and can (sadly) give away in one pile. Books I want to read in another. I even still had an entire box of tapes with my old singing lessons on them. G and I listened to them while I cleaned. Wow, it was like visiting another lifetime. A lifetime that reminded me just how lucky I am in this one.

My finished closet isn't perfect. I'm not exactly a natural when it comes to cleaning and organizing spaces. But I'm happy that there's no longer a tower of books on top or a mess of things on the floor. For the most part, it's organized. And G was right. I do feel better.

School Supplies


I have a school supply addiction. I admit it. Always around this time of year, I feel like a reformed gambling addict forced to live in a casino. I get all these daily emails from the office supply stores with promises of $1 items and 20% off! How can I resist?

Pens are the worst. No matter how many pens I own, I always want more. I can't help it. Pens and different colors of post-its. Come to think of it, it's the colors that get me, really. Anything that typically comes in lots of different colors - I want it. Binders, notebooks, rulers, index cards, post-its, paper, pens, flags, highlighters, and the list goes on. I get this from my mother, the teacher. In fact, it was one of the best things about being a teacher. I had an endless excuse to get more pens and especially more white-board pens in every color imaginable. Oh, and the magnets too, of course, which were fun.

Now that I'm a writer and I am using these school supplies all the time as real tools to help me create stories and organize ideas, I feel like I'm in heaven. All that's missing is making money so that I can afford to buy more. I'm thinking next week calls for a series of posts on how I use colorful office supplies to help me in my writing. Fun! Have a great weekend everyone!

Heat Advisory - Again

Ugh. The August heat is killing me. I keep hoping to wake up to a day of cool rain or nice 80 degree weather. Instead, my weather channel desktop gave me the ominous storm sound this morning when I turned my computer on - heat advisory today that the heat index will reach 105-107 degrees. Seriously? Again? It's sweltering out there. I don't know about you, but I'm ready for Fall.

I'm also super happy I don't live in Georgia right now.

Thinking ahead to NaNo WriMo

What's that? It's only August, you say? And National Novel Writing Month is still several months away? Yes, yes, but it's never too early to start planning! Having recently finished my YA novel, Pandemic, I am looking ahead to my next project. (Other than querying and trying to sell said YA novel, of course.) If you aren't familiar with NaNo WriMo, it's one month out of the year where thousands of writers across the globe attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. 2010 will be my third year participating. I won my first year with a novel I called "Into Darkness". I finished the word count, but never actually finished the book. In fact, it got right up to the most interesting and terrifying part of the book and stopped. My husband is still upset about it. Last year, however, I only made it about 30,000 words in (this being the same novel I just finished), at which point I trashed the entire thing save one scene and started over.

This year, I will be triumphant. Heck, I might even set my goal larger than 50,000 words! Oh, the insanity! But let's face it, 50k does not a novel make in most instances. It's only half a novel. Ish.

So, the question already tickling the back of my brain is which project do I write this year for NaNo?

Option 1. I write the second book in my Pandemic series. It's definitely not going to be complete at 50k since book 1 is easily almost 90k, but getting 50,000 words into the second book would be great. On the other hand, some writers have said that you shouldn't write the second book in the series until you know whether or not the first book is ever going to sell. Hmmm. Could be good advice, since selling book 2 would be particularly hard if no one wanted book 1.

Option 2. I write a book that will be complete at 50,000 words and is targeted toward an ebook only self-publishing route. I have been toying around with the idea of self-publishing a lot lately. The writing community is up in arms about the future of traditional print publishing and with last week's announcements that Dorchester is ceasing its Mass Market paperbacks and Barnes and Noble is possibly up for sale, I am beginning to wonder if it might be smart to test the self-publishing waters just to learn a thing or two. After all, any writing I do is good practice, and I might as well try to get some practice in with the publishing bit too, just in case.

And those are pretty much the two options I am tossing around. If I decide to go with option 2 and write a book I specifically plan to self-publish through Kindle and Smashwords and PubIt! or whatever other self-publishing ebook formats are out there at the time, then I'll have to completely brainstorm ideas for what I want that book to be about. There will probably be a little bit of research involved as well, such as what demographic is buying most indie ebooks. What genre is selling best and is there a market for my type of YA horror/urban fantasy/romance mixture? Option 2 comes with a lot of unanswered questions, but a lot of excitement as well.

Good thing I have a few months yet to think about it.

The Value of Critique Groups

For a new writer, joining a critique group can be one of the most important decisions you make to advance your writing skills. Shortly after I first joined RWA two years ago, I also met my first critique group. They have taught me more about my writing than I ever could have learned so quickly on my own. I probably would have learned it eventually, but there's nothing like having almost weekly feedback on what's going wrong and what's going right in your current work. Recently, I joined a second critique group that is (if it's possible) even more awesome-cakes than my original group. I am member of both right now, but what I get from the two groups is two very different experiences and critiques.

Here are my top 5 tips for making a critique group work:

  1. Make sure you get along with the people in the group. If you don't get along or have anything to talk about, eventually you might find yourself bickering or getting your feelings hurt. You might start to dread the entire experience if you can't get along with the group and learn to trust them.
  2. Give your critiques the time they deserve. Most of the time, you get what you put into something. If you only give half-effort critiques, how can you expect the people in your group to spend effort and time on your piece? If you want them to put a lot of time into your pages and give a detailed, constructive critique, then you should do the same for them every time.
  3. Be honest. If someone says something that hurts your feelings, let them know right away. Do it in a non-confrontational way, but don't hold it in. Believe me, I know this from experience. If you hold it in, then what happens the next time they hurt your feelings? And the next? Eventually it builds up, and that can lead to an argument or worse, the breakup of the group. Critiques should be helpful and everyone in the group should be supportive. It's all about working together to make sure that the group is successful and that people reach their personal goals. If a comment hurts your feelings or is presented in a way that seems ugly or personal, speak up! A simple, "The way you worded that hurts my feelings. In the future, if you could try to present that in a different way, I would appreciate it." might save the group.
  4. Be clear about your goals and what you want from the group. Let your critique partners know what you are aiming for. Just want to finish a dang book for a change? Brainstorm ways they can help encourage you to keep moving forward. Looking to polish the first fifty pages and enter that contest you've already dreamed about? Let them know they're going to be micro-critiquing those pages for the next month. Stating your goals and putting them out there where you can find support and be held accountable goes a long way toward actually reaching those goals.
  5. Find people with similar goals and writing time. If someone in your group is writing 100 pages a weeks and you only have time for 10 on a good week, you might not work as the best critique partners. You'll end up spending hours on their work and only getting a small amount of critique in return. Also, if your goal is to get published and to be a serious author, but your group members are writing for fun and without any serious goals, you might find that they don't take the critiques as serious as you do. Find people who have the same goals you have and want the same things out of the group that you want. You'll all get so much more out of it because in the end, you all want the same thing.
I am a huge advocate for critique groups. They can change your writing for the better. Just make sure you know what you're looking for and who you're committing to before you get into it. After all, these are the first people you're going to trust to read your work. And your work is important and unique and it's personal.

Have a wonderful Friday everyone! Hope you had a great week and an even better weekend!

Pitching at Conferences

Pitching face-to-face with an agent or an editor is one of the best ways to get your material on their desk. With the experience fresh in my mind, I thought I would share some tips about how it works, what you should wear, whether or not you should be nervous, and whether the stress is worth it.

First things first. Before you even sign up for an appointment, do your research! Make sure the person you are meeting with represents or publishes the type of novel you are pitching. Also, make sure your book is finished. Pitching an unfinished book about a serial killer to an agent who only represents sweet historical romances is only going to waste her time and will get you nowhere in your goal to become published.

How does a pitch appointment work? There are probably lots of different kinds of pitch appointments, but so far in my experience, a one-on-one pitch lasts about ten minutes and is given sitting down at a table with the editor or agent. Like in this photo of last week's pitch room at RWA's National Conference, pitches are often given in a room full of agents and editors, rather than in a private room. Be sure to arrive at least fifteen minutes early in order to sign in and find your seat. At RWA, a volunteer was there to line up all of the people who had appointments at a specific time so that we could walk in an orderly way to our respective agent or editor's table. Personally, I like to sit in the waiting area for about thirty minutes thinking about my pitch and getting my mind in the right place. (Translation = giving myself a pep-talk and saying things like "you're awesome" and "everyone wants to read my book!")

Once you sit down with your agent or editor, you have about ten minutes. It's a good idea to introduce yourself and ask how their conference is going or if they are having a nice morning. Compliments are always nice, especially if you have done your research about this particular agent and you love some of their client's books or have been following their blog for the past year, just be careful not to ramble! A lot of times, the agent or editor will then ask you what your project is about, at which point you should launch into your pitch.

"The Pitch" is best kept to around a minute. That way, the editor or agent has plenty of time to ask questions about your novel and to judge whether this particular project sounds interesting to them or not. Having notes in front of you doesn't seem to be a problem most of the time, just try to remember to look up from time to time and make eye contact. As far as what to say in your pitch, I personally have had a lot of success with simply telling them about the inciting incident that pushes the story forward. What's the hook of your story? What's that first thing that sends your character into a new world? A pitch appointment is not the time to tell the agent or editor the entire story all the way to the end. Think back cover blurb or query blurb, not synopsis!

As far as what to wear, keep it professional. Be comfortable and most importantly, be yourself. Jeans and a tshirt is probably not the best choice for a professional meeting, but in the end, what really matters is your story. Write the best book you can. Period. I just think that dressing nice shows an editor or agent that you respect them and that you take the opportunity seriously. This is a first impression scenario, so make the most of it!

Try not to be too nervous! I know, this is a tough one! I get nervous too, of course, but try to remember that editors and agents are people too. The reason they are taking pitch appointments in the first place is that they are looking for new authors. They want to find a book that they can sell or publish. They are rooting for your book to be the next story that touches their heart or keeps them up late at night turning pages. Deliver your pitch, answer questions slowly and speak clearly, and chances are, they are going to ask to see something from you. Most of the time, it's a partial - like the first 30 pages or the first three chapters and a synopsis. Sometimes, they might even ask for the full manuscript! Outright rejections at a pitch appointment are rare unless you didn't do your research and are pitching your novel to someone who simply isn't interested in your genre or sub-genre.

Most importantly, follow up. If someone requests your manuscript, send it! This is your chance to bypass the slush pile and get your work in front of someone who can potentially change your life! Don't let that opportunity pass you by simply out of fear of rejection or because you weren't prepared. One question people ask a lot is how much time after the pitch do you have to submit? I think the answer is different for everyone, but my advice is the same no matter what - send it in as soon as possible. An editor might still look at your partial manuscript six months down the road, but by then they might have already acquired a book like yours and no longer have room on their list. An agent might have truly been interested in your hook and excited to read your pages, but if you wait three months to send it in, you're allowing that interest to cool and pass away. Send your pages as soon as you can, preferably within the first week after the request was made. That alone will put you way ahead of the game.

Pitch appointments are always worth it as long as you are ready to submit and are looking for an agent or an editor. It's great experience talking about your novel and answering questions, and it's the fastest way to get your work on an agent or editor's desk with the words "Requested Material" on it. Take the chance to pitch every single time you have it, just make sure you aren't wasting anyone's time by pitching something you might never finish or send. Now, I'm off to finish reading through a final polish of my novel so that I can send requested pages to both an agent and an editor I met at RWA last Saturday! Wish me luck!

RWA 2010 - Heart of Carolina Pictures

A fun time was had by all at the RWA 2010 National Conference in Orlando! Here is a slideshow of some of my favorite pictures from this year's conference, featuring the beautiful and talented women of Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, the Raleigh, NC chapter of RWA.

I tried to get by and say hello to all of our authors at the signing, but somehow I missed taking pictures of Alexandra Sokoloff (who was looking so good in her sparkly top btw) and Beth Williamson. Also, I could have sworn I had pictures of our fabulous Deb Marlowe, one of our very own RITA finalists this year, but alas, there aren't any pictures of her on my camera. I'm not sure what happened, but it makes me sad. She looked so good and so happy. I might have missed a few others too, and if I did, I'm so sorry! It was a great week, and I am so happy to be a part of such an amazing chapter!

An Amazing Conference

I had an amazing time at the RWA National Conference! Of course, I got home yesterday and crashed for about five hours, then slept like a baby last night in my own bed, but it was worth any loss of sleep! I met some amazing authors, fellow YARWA members, spent time getting to know people who have the same dreams as me and are working to get published and also talked to writers who are in the position I WANT to be in someday. It's an amazing networking opportunity and I am so happy I went.

I have a feeling it is going to take a few days to recover, haha. Laundry is piled up, my sweet dog is hungry for attention, and I really missed my husband. Plus, I have a couple of requests for the first three chapters of my novel, so I want to go over it one last time to make sure I'm sending in the very best opening I can. Today or tomorrow, I will post copious amounts of pictures from the conference, so stay tuned :).

Congratulations to all of the RITA and Golden Heart winners! Especially want to give a shout-out to Erica O'Rourke, the YA Golden Heart winner. You go girl!!! Can't wait to read your book when it comes out! Also, a huge congrats to fellow YARWA member, Simone Elkeles. PERFECT CHEMISTRY is an awesome book and you totally deserve the award. As one last have-to-mention, my amazing fellow chapter-mate Sabrina Jeffries did the best job as emcee! She looked amazing up there! Plus, she was super fun and well-spoken. Great job Sabrina!

Sarra Cannon

Young Adult Indie Author

I always secretly wanted to be a cheerleader. And a witch. Now, I write about both. The first five novels in my Peachville High Demons Young Adult Paranormal series are available now in ebook!

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Beautiful DemonsThe Time Traveler's WifeLoveroot: PoemsFear of FlyingWe the LivingAnthem

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