Friday, May 13, 2011

Ask Me Anything Day! Because I'm Tired of being Stumped by Kid C

Kid C has been asking me questions all week. He never stops. He must think that's how he earns his keep around here. And his questions are impossible to answer:

"How do you make glass?"

"Who would win in a fight between Sonic and the Avatar?"

"Is everything in the world real?"
Follow up: "So, you're saying Sonic is real?"
Follow up to the follow up: "What do you mean really a cartoon?"

"Why are knights extinct?"

"Where is the desert?"
"Where is the Garden of Eden?"

"Who invented school?"

"Who made the first house?"

"Why is America so much younger than other countries?"
follow up: "So, did we steal it from the natives?"
follow up to the follow up: "But isn't stealing bad?"

"Why didn't you catch that Bin Laden guy while you were in Pakistan?"
 (We were in Pakistan two years ago).

And my favorite:
"Is everything in the world possible? Or is nothing impossible?"

Personally, I would love to get some questions I can actually answer. So, let's have an open topic in the comments. Do you have any questions about publishing? Querying? Book Covers? ARCs? Swearing in YA? Writing? Me? Anatomy? The air speed velocity of an African Swallow?

It's a free-for-all. Ask me anything. And I'll try to answer in the comments as the day goes on. 

I know other authors do this, but they are much more popular than I am, so please ask me some questions so I don't feel like a tool. :)


  1. Yay! I'm #1! I have a few questions: When are you releasing your fabulous book cover? When are you posting more teasers? How long did you work on your query letter before you knew it was perfect? How did you decide which agents to query? What did you put in your "why I'm querying you" paragraph? Is Draft 1 OF EVERNEATH 2 finished? What were your scores on your winning first chapter contest entry? :)

    That should be enough to get you started. :D

  2. Now that you mention as one of your questions, is swearing in YA required? I know if you want to be real to the life of a teenager it would be. But, let's say an author doesn't normally swear so making one of their characters swear is hard. Do editors or publisher require it? And, what is too offensive for YA? How much is too much? Am I starting to sound like Kid C?

  3. How did you get so lucky to find and marry such a handsome and fun guy?

    What is the best dance move?

    How many licks does it take to finish off a tootsie pop sucker?

  4. Robin-
    Cover: The book cover will be released in about three weeks.
    More Teasers: I have no idea when I'll be posting more teasers. I've already posted the first few pages a couple times- what more is there? :) Maybe I can start posting some of my favorite lines...
    Query letter: I worked on my query for a long time, then I sent it out in small batches (5 agents at a time) and if I didn't get any requests, I'd tweak my query. I did this until I started to get routine requests for fulls. It was a long process. If you can get your query righ the first time, I would suggest doing it that way. :)

    I'll answer the others in a bit! Great questions, and thanks for asking.

  5. Jenni- Yes, that sounds exactly like Kid C. :) No, I don't think you have to swear in YA. It's not a requirement or anything. I always try to stay true to my characters, and what they would do.

    Emily Wing Smith once said one of her characters in The Way He Lived came out swearing, and to tone it down wouldn't have been true to his voice.

    That being said, Everneath has very few swear words in it. And my editor remarked on how she loved where I put one particular swear word, because since I hadn't used them much, it added more impact to the scene. She was not a fan of swearing for swearing's sake.

    In many ways, anything goes in YA. But an author, and I'd imagine an editor, has to weigh certain factors: will you be alienating a large portion of your audience because of the amount of swearing? (Or any other taboo things) I would think there is a fine line between being true to the teenage voice, and swearing so much that it becomes economically risky.

    What do you think?

  6. Follow-up: how many agents total did you query for EVERNEATH? We know you had five offers of representation, but how many did you query?

  7. Back to Robin's questions:

    "How did you decide which agents to query? What did you put in your "why I'm querying you" paragraph? Is Draft 1 OF EVERNEATH 2 finished? What were your scores on your winning first chapter contest entry? :)"

    I decided which agents to query based on criteria on and (Or maybe those are .net?) Anywho, I inputed my selections (YA, Paranormal) and looked for those agents who were actively seeking the stuff.

    I also queried agents that my friends had and loved.

    Everneath 2: No, the 1st draft isn't finished. But I'm making good progress, and every day something unexpected happens in the story. I am definitely a writer-by-discovery kind of gal.

    For the first chapter that won the Grand Prize at Storymakers, I'm not sure where I placed the score cards. But I do remember one judge who gave me straight 4's. You can't please everyone. :)

  8. Did we make a huge mistake in our decision to move? What color should we paint our living room? Am I ever going to see or talk to you again?

    When does your ARC release?

  9. Robin- I queried a boatload. With my first book, and first agent, I'd queried over a hundred.

    With Everneath, it was different. I felt better about my query letter, and better about the book, so I sent a ton of queries out at once. It was about a week before I got my first offer. At the time, I had 12 fulls out. 10 of those offered. :) (One offered, but only after I agreed to go a few rounds of revisions, and then he may or may not offer. I didn't go with him.)
    The others were straight up offers.

    I would say it all happened too soon for maybe 2/3 of the agents I queried to respond. But I did cast a wide net, because I'm sort of a doom-and-gloom, glass half empty sort of gal.

  10. And I should add, even though I got a lot of offers, I still got a ton of rejections too. The rejections still outnumbered the offers. :)

  11. Heather- You're moving??!! I didn't know this! But, I would say, you can make the best out of any situation, no matter where you end up, so I'm sure this will be a good move!

    You should paint your living room Botany Beige.

    Of course we will see and talk to each other. Come to my launch party in January!

    ARC's will probably be out in mid to late June. A little over a month. Crazy.

  12. Sam- I kidnapped him and took him to the Everneath, where he was so out of it he thought he loved me.

    The Lambada


  13. Oh you know I'll be at the launch party. Dressed as one of your characters.

    Yes, we are moving. I put a deposit on a 3 bedroom apartment in Sandy yesterday. Then I was immediately hit with buyer's remorse that is now starting to dissipate. We get the keys next Saturday.

  14. Heather- That's awesome on the apartment! Congratulations!

  15. If I could just add my 5-year-old's best question ever, which he asked after seeing the Dos Equis commercial with the Most Interesting Man in the World:

    "Why does he want his friends to stay thirsty?"

  16. David- Ha ha ha! Stay thirsty my friends. If it makes your 5-year-old feel any better, I used to think that commercial was true, and he really WAS the most interesting man in the world. I was all, how do they decide that?

  17. I hate to burst your bubble...I heard 'the most interesting man in the world' on a radio show and let me say, he was NOT the most interesting man in the world. Sorry for the spoiler!

  18. Funny post! Sounds like my kid "a". :) I'll be thinking of a question for ya...

  19. I feel extremely lucky - both of my kids are still stuck on "What's this?" as their only question. (Although they do ask it constantly, and about things they can identify on their own. *sigh*) MY questions are: Will you have any contests for ARCs when they become available? How did you keep from crying/consuming large amounts of chocolate/giving up when you got rejections from agents/publishers? And what has been your favorite book so far for 2011?

  20. Don't you love the insight a child's questions give to how their thinking process works? They can ask some great questions, though.

    Brodi, have you ever been sorry you started on this writing journey? Ever ready to just walk away from it?

  21. Katie- Yay! I can't wait.

    ARC contests: That's an excellent idea! I'm not sure how many ARCs I'll be getting, but hopefully I'll have a few extras I can use for contests.

    Crying: I have no idea. But I didn't cry at all. I think I'd convinced myself that every rejection got me closer to my goal, and I really believed it when people told me it's a subjective business. I was really prepared that every writer experiences rejection. Every. Single. One.

    And then, I ate lots of chocolate.

    I never gave up, because... well, I just didn't. I think it was Sara Zarr (talking about bad reviews) who said give yourself a day to mourn it, and then move on. I think that's what I did. "That sucks. On to the next one."

    Favorite book of 2011 so far: I can never pick favorites. But one I'm reading right now (Divergent) is pretty darn awesome.

    Thanks for the questions!

  22. Donna- Am I ever sorry:
    Nope. Not yet. I'm feeling the pressure of a tight deadline for a sequel, but I haven't felt any regret about my road so far.

    I'm definitely not ready to walk away from it. I feel like I've made it to Base Camp of Everest; a feat, but not exactly the summit.

    Thanks for asking!

  23. How many times did you realize you'd fallen off the writing horse, chastized yourself and got back on? From when you decided to write a novel to when a publisher picked up everneath.
    (Did I actually just write 'got'?)

  24. LC- That's a good question.

    My first book never sold, and I had to part ways with my first agent. That was definitely a dark moment where I wondered how I'd gotten so close only to end up so far off-track.

    But I never stopped writing. Thankfully I had another book ready to go, because the only thing I could concentrate on while my first book was being submitted was writing the second book.

    As far as after the deal, I sort of took a walkabout for three months at the beginning of 2011, only to realize that when you sell three books, they're going to actually want to see book 2. And even book 3.

    I had to really kickstart my motivation again, and it's only now that I feel like I'm in a groove for book 2 in the Everneath series.

    I don't know, did that answer your question?

  25. I love Kid C's questions. He is practically a Zen Master!

    I'd like to know what you do to get ready to sit and write. Do you have a routine to get you in a groove? Do you prefer silence or background noise? What gets those creative juices flowing?

  26. Those questions sound like the ones from my kids. Fortunately, my husband is really, really good at answering questions, so I can usually send them to him and he will actually tell them why the sky is blue and those sorts of things.

    So, some questions that you can answer:

    How long did it take you to write EVERNEATH? How did you know it was ready to query?

  27. I might be able to help with kid's question #2:


    You're welcome!

  28. Ask you anything day? Very cool. I am compiling a list. Don't worry, it's a short one, and the questions should be easier to answer than Kid C's.

    I just hope that your "day" does not expire at midnight.... :)

  29. Lulabell- I like to write in the mornings. Sometimes I need a good Word War (where a bunch of Twitter friends write for an hour straight and then share our word counts.)

    I like to have water, Diet Coke, and Tea nearby, as well as the playlist for the book softly playing in the background. I'm one of those writers who needs background noise. :)

  30. Jenilyn- Everneath took me about six months of writing. It went through several rounds of revisions with my crit group, and then I turned it in to my then-agent. When we parted ways, I started querying it the next day.

    I think I just knew I couldn't take it any further without help.

  31. Heather- I totally agree. Avatar could kick Sonic to the moon.

    Kristin- Questions are welcome all weekend!

  32. Great answer. Thank you. I was always just wondering about it. I think staying true to the character is important and while I don't normally swear, there are occasions when I do, and that's just me. I know there are those that do and that's them and in order for a book to be more true to life, all kinds of characters are going to be present in novels.

  33. Hi, Brodi. Sorry I am just now getting to my questions. Crazy busy weekend. :)

    My questions have to do with "The Call."

    What would you consider the most important questions you asked?

    Since you had multiple offers, what was the deciding factor/s that led to you going with Michael Bourret?

    Is there any other advice you would give for handling "The Call"?


    BTW....Can't wait for the EVERNEATH cover reveal! :)

  34. Kristin-

    Questions to ask an agent: Definitely ask about revision ideas. It's so important to make sure you both are on the same page. Also, ask about communication style. I didn't realize how important that was to me until I had an agent who didn't communicate very well. Luckily, Michael's communication is awesome. He's spoiled me for anyone else.

    Why I decided on Michael- Well, I'd heard such good things about him, but that wasn't necessarily the deciding factor, since I'd also heard great things about the other agents. In the end, I loved our rapport over the phone, and I especially loved his revision ideas, and his vision of the book as a series. I remember him asking, "You've created such a great world. Are you really ready to be done with it after only one book?"

    I was all, "No. I'm not ready to be done the Everneath!"

    In the end, his plan involved more work on my end, but I was also the most excited about it.

    Other Advice for The Call: Make sure you answer the phone, and you aren't blow-drying your hair at the exact moment your potential is calling. (Yeah, I did that with Michael. No one else.) I've also been unreachable for him a few times at some very crucial points in the submission process. Like when we had an offer.

    So, my main advice for handling "The Call" is to answer "The Phone".

    Also, realize you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you.

  35. My friend told me that apparently Charlemagne invented school. One down!