Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

  • Agent Announcement!

    Date: 2015.06.06 | Category: Agent, Publishing, Writing | Response: 5

    I’ve been waiting to make an announcement like this for a long time, so I’ll get right to it!

    I’m thrilled to announce I am now being represented by Clelia Gore of Martin Literary Management.

    But big news like this deserves the whole story. This is going to be a long post, so settle in and get comfortable, friends. I’ve EARNED this post.


    As many of you know, I’ve been writing fiction for children and young adults for years. What many of my writing colleagues may not know is that after getting 2 degrees in engineering, I’ve built a successful career in the sciences and information technology. Yes, folks, I work as an engineering geek for my day job.

    I'm an Engineer and I Love Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. I am Not a Geek

    I still wonder why it took me so long to realize the obvious: Why not combine my love of writing for children with my professional experience in the sciences? Duh. What a natural transition for my writing goals!

    I conceived of an idea for a science book series targeted at young readers ages 8-12. The first book in the series is titled IS IT OKAY TO PEE IN THE OCEAN? and is about…well, peeing. Before you start freaking out, no, it’s not a gross out book. Yes, there is much talk about peeing (I have three boys.  Welcome to my hell) but the book also explores the impact humans have on the environment, marine biology, and the effects humans have on the oceans.

    The thing is, I’d written 4 full length fiction books, but I’d never attempted to write nonfiction. So I stressed for a while, trying to figure out how to make this project happen. I quickly realized writing nonfiction, for children, is pretty much exactly the same as writing fiction. Children’s books need a unique voice to grab a reader’s attention and keep it. It doesn’t really matter if it’s fiction or nonfiction. I could do this!

    So off I went. I drafted a few sample chapters and put together a proposal for my book series.

    And I didn’t’ tell anyone.

    None of my family, friends, or members of my writing circle knew what I was working on. My husband didn’t even know what I was working on. You see, I’ve been doing this writing thing for a long time and I was tired of people asking, “so when are you going to get one of your books published?” I know this question was not meant to hurt my feelings, but the question always stung. I’d get the same well-meaning questions from my (non writing) friends and family “You wrote a book? So why isn’t it a New York Times Bestseller yet?”  or “Maybe you should self-publish? I hear lots of people are doing that?”

    That’s nice. But that’s not what I wanted.

    I wanted to be traditionally published.

    So off to the query trenches I went with IS IT OKAY TO PEE IN THE OCEAN? But this time I didn’t tell anyone. I decided this was going to be my little secret until I had some news to share.

    I queried the project and the first agent requests started coming in.

    I didn’t get too excited because I’d been here before.

    But then more requests started coming in.

    And I still didn’t get too excited. I’d been here before.

    It was still my secret.

    Then an amazing agent sent me an email asking if we could “talk”.


    This made me excited. It was time to tell my husband. He was over the moon happy for me.

    I talked to the agent the next day by phone and had my first official offer. You guys, this was a big deal. I’d queried my other projects before but I FINALLY had my first legitimate offer from an amazing agent. I’d done it! I made plans to meet this agent for lunch a few days later and we were going to talk all about how to make the peeing book a smashing success.

    I informed all the other agents who were still considering my work that I had an offer of representation. What happened next blew me away.

    I received 2 additional offers the following day.

    Multiple offers! WHAT??

    But I still believed I was destined to work with the first offering agent. His credentials and experience were stellar. He was a rock star, practically a legend. But I agreed to have a follow up phone conversation with one of the other offering agents. The phone conversation was scheduled immediately before my lunch appointment with Rock Star agent. I parked myself in a Starbucks and waited for her call while trying not to be too nervous about my lunch meeting with Rock Star agent.

    Clelia called, but she was in the vestibule of a moving Amtrak and I could barely make out what she was saying. Combined with the background noise in the Starbucks the conversation wasn’t happening. No big deal, because I was about to have lunch with Rock Star Agent.

    And the lunch was fabulous. We had a great meeting and I was convinced I’d found the right partner to represent my work.

    Except another few offers came in (holy moley!) and then I exchanged emails again with Clelia who offered to meet in person over coffee to continue our talk. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I should bother. I was convinced that Rock Star Agent was THE ONE, but my husband insisted I keep an open mind. Don’t tell him I said this, but he’s usually right.

    It was a rainy, miserable day when I made the trek into Manhattan to meet Clelia.

    When I sat down with Clelia I knew she was the real deal. We instantly clicked. I felt my goals and her vision for not only the IS IT OKAY SERIES, but for me as an author were completely in synch.

    In the end the choice was simple. I know Clelia will be my champion and together we’re going to rock this publishing world.

    And because I’m a math geek and it’s popular to post these statistics, here they are:

    Agents queried – 33

    Number of proposal requests– 11

    Number of offers– 5

    Special thanks to my friends Jennifer, Brian, and Melanie for living through my freakouts. And of course my husband who has been my biggest cheerleader through all of this.


    The balloons that were waiting for me when I came home from my agent meeting. My family is amazing.


  • Introducing

    Date: 2013.07.08 | Category: Critique, editing, Publishing, Writing | Response: 0

    For those of you on Twitter, I’ve been dropping little hints about a TOP SEKRIT project for a few weeks, but I’m finally ready to spill the beans.

    But first some backstory… a while back I was lucky enough to meet the most amazing, supportive, and brilliant group of writers. We all came together off a call for critique partners on Krista Van Dolzer’s Mother, Write, Repeat blog. We started calling ourselves the #MGBetaReaders – I know the name is terribly uncreative, especially for a group of writers that are supposed to be creative, but the name sort of stuck.

    This group is magic.

    Since coming together, I’ve gotten to know the guys and gals and have learned so much from each and every one of them. We’ve become partners in this writing journey, and I am honored to call them all my friends. I’ve watched many of the members find agents, and some of them even sell their books. I am so proud of this group and humbled to be a part of it.

    With all of this diverse talent, It was time to take the MGBetaReaders to the next level.

    I am super excited to introduce:

    Visit us here:


    The blog is dedicated to all things Kidlit, focusing on MG and YA books and writing craft. There is a little something for everyone, whether you’re a reader or a writer! I hope you will check it out. The blog officially launches on July 10th, but feel free to visit now. We are having some epic giveaways, so spread the word and please enter!

  • Who do I write for?

    Date: 2011.10.12 | Category: Kids, Publishing, Writing | Response: 0

    What reader do I think about when I write?

    These readers!



    My own three boys.

    When I craft a story I think about whether my boys would enjoy it. Does it have enough to keep their interest? Would they like the characters I’ve invented? Would they want to keep reading? I think this is why my writing is so boy-focused. As the mother of three boys, I wouldn’t have a clue how to write for a girl reader.

    But I also consider my children when I think about the content of my story. Is the subject matter appropriate? Would I approve of this book as a parent? Does it send a positive message?

    Which is why I am amazed by some of the books that have been published.

    Recently, my 4th grader completed an author study on Roald Dahl. My son selected the book George’s Marvelous Medicine for his study.


    If you are not familiar with this book, here’s a brief synopsis: George and his family live on a farm with a cranky grandma. One day George decides he can’t take it anymore and decides to swap Grandma’s medicine with his own concoction – a cocktail of poisons around the house. Grandma takes the medicine, causing her to grow into a giant. Mom and Dad come home and see what happened to Grandma, but rather than get angry with George for trying to poison Granny, Dad decides to recreate the medicine for his own personal gain. If they can give the medicine to the farm animals and produce giant chickens, they’ll be rich! But George can’t remember the exact recipe. Eventually, mistaking it for tea, Grandma drinks one of the failed recreations.The resulting overdose causes her to shrink into nothing. The family decides that losing Grandma finally removes a nuisance from their lives.


    Lets put aside for a moment that George feeds POISON to granny (for real?). There isn’t a single good character in this book. And the family celebrates when grandma is gone! Huh? I called my mother and told her she better be good to her grandkids because they might just make her a special medicine! But seriously, what kind of message does this send?

    For the record, my son actually liked this book. He thought it was funny and “magical”. Okay, but I’m still  not a big fan of the book’s negative message.

    George’s Marvelous Medicine was published in 1981. Do you think such a book would be published today?

  • Severus Snape: Tragic Awesomeness

    Date: 2011.07.12 | Category: Harry Potter, Writing | Response: 7

    Yesterday I talked about the magic of JK Rowling. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, in honor of the release of Deathly Hallows Part II, this week the blog is dedicated to all the awesomeness that is Harry Potter.

    Today, I wanted to talk about one of my favorite characters in the book : Severus Snape.

    Seems that I may not be alone. MTV sponsored a Harry Potter World Cup which had 64 characters competing for the title of greatest Potter character ever. Check out the full matchup here. In Round 4, Snape goes against Harry Potter himself. The potion master crushed “the boy who lived” with a vote of 62% in his favor. He then went on to beat Hermione Granger to make it to the finals where he was matched up against Ron Weasley (who just eeked out a narrow victory against another one of my favorites, Sirius Black).

    This popularity contest was great fun (thank you MTV), but speaks to a bigger point : WE LOVE SNAPE! Sure we love the Fab three of Harry, Hermione, Ron. I have a special place  in my heart for Neville and Dobby. But without a doubt, Snape is my favorite character in the whole series. Remember the first time we see Snape as the potions teacher? I love how he bursts into the room, swooshing his cape dramatically, flicking his long black hair reciting, “There will be no foolish wand waving or incantations in this class.” AWESOME!

    Snape is the character with the most complicated story arc, and that makes him interesting. Throughout the 7 books we are led to believe that he is cruel, but I think he is basically an insecure person longing to find the respect he never received as a student at Hogwarts. He wants to be the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, and yet Dumbledore rewards that position to everyone but Snape. And then, none other than Harry Potter shows up at Hogwarts – the child of the only woman he ever loved (Lilly) and his biggest antagonist (James).

    There are so many reasons to love Snape (did I mention Alan Rickman yet?), but only at the end of the book series do we really learn how special he really is. He fights and dies to protect Harry. Why? Harry who should be the thorn in his side. Why would he die for Harry? Because in the end he still loves Lilly and must protect her son. Because despite being passed up for the Defense Against the Dark Arts post, he believes in what Dumbledore stood for and will continue to fight for his memory. And because when you peel away the mystery that is Snape you are left with an incredible person who appreciates the simple idea that good must triumph over evil. Snape knew that only by his death would Harry ever stand a chance against Voldemort. It is Snape’s tragic ending that shows us just how amazing of a character JK Rowling has created.

    Stay tuned tomorrow where I will be featuring a great fan-fiction piece on Snape. You are definitely going to LOL when you read it. But in the meantime, here is a video that my kids have been watching and laughing about. I don’t know why this is so funny, but it is.



    Try getting that song out of your head now!!!! Mwhahahahah

  • The Magic of JK Rowling

    Date: 2011.07.11 | Category: Harry Potter, Marketing, Publishing, Writing | Response: 1

    It was the summer of 2000, and my family was headed up to Cold Spring, NY to visit my baby brother, Isaac, who was spending his first summer at sleep away camp. He had given us explicit instructions as to what we should bring up for visiting day: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Book four in the series was released just one day before visiting day, and Isaac couldn’t wait to get his hands on the book.  51HJX1X824L

    After our reunion with Isaac, we found a nice spot near the lake, where nearly a hundred other families had already set up picnic blankets. We were excited to hear stories about Isaac’s camp experience. But instead of catching up with his family, what was Isaac doing? Reading Goblet of Fire!

    I looked around, and dozens of other children were doing the same thing. Reading Harry Potter! Clearly other families had the same idea to bring the new release up for camp visiting day. Instead of boating on the lake, playing sports, or hiking, so many of the campers were ignoring their families in favor of reading Harry Potter!

    What was going on? Kids were reading!!!!

    And herein is the real genius of Ms. J.K. Rowling. We all talk about the billion dollar empire that she singlehandedly created, and yet all of that doesn’t speak to the real magic that is J.K. Rowling. With one boy wizard, Rowling had transformed reading for children around the world. Reading became fun again. And not only were children reading, adults were reading too. Harry Potter became an experience the whole family could share together. So forget about the Potter movies, the theme park, and the gluttony of merchandizing. The true magic is that Rowling found the formula to make reading awesome again.

    No other writer in modern times has been as transformative as JK Rowling, and for that, I salute her. I know that she has inspired many other day writers to create books that children actually want to read, yours truly being one of those writers. And yet, I don’t know if there will ever be another book as epic and enduring as the Harry Potter series.


    This is a big Harry Potter week in my house. We are taking the kids to see the Deathly Hallows Part II on opening night. We’ve had tickets for almost 2 months! In  honor of the final adventure in the Harry Potter film series I plan on dedicating my blog this week to all things Harry Potter. So stay tuned this week to more Harry Potter fun.

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  • National Novel Writing Month National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30.