Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wednesday Weird

Woo Hoo! I'm back from Wiscon 36 and it was awesome! I'll chat all about it later, maybe Monday, but for now, we're back to Wednesday Weird.

On today's Menu:



No not Pandas.


Question? What's the largest living organism on the planet?

No it's not the blue whale, it's Pando.

Pando (Latin for 'I spread'), aka The Trembling Giant is a tree, specifically a single male Quaking Aspen, located in Utah. Sort of (the tree part I mean. Not the Utah part)


All right, let me start with some bio. When the Quaking Aspen reproduces it both flowers and produces a clone of itself. It extends its roots and then forces them up through the ground, producing a new tree. The new tree is a clone, with the same genetic makeup and markers to show that it actually belongs to the first tree.

Similar to how Twin is a clone of me. But don't let her tell you otherwise. That's just clone talk and should be avoided.

So the new tree grows with the old one and together they develop a large root network which produces more and more Quaking Aspens causing the single tree to expand into a clonal colony.

Normally clonal colonies are about 0.1 hectares in size. But not Pando. Oh No. Pando is 43 hectares and weighs about 6,000 tons.


As the trees on the surface die, the root system lives on and shoots up more trees and stops producing nutrients for those that have died. Because of this, Pando is protected from forest fires, which actually help it by killing nearby conifers and providing more space.

Because of this, Pando is, more or less, the Wolverine or Hulk of trees: invulnerable. Pando is estimated to be around 80,000 years old. Which means it was watching mastodons walk around doing mastodon things.

Of course, being that old has some drawbacks, mostly the changing environment. Pando hasn't flowered in over 10,000 years, which means its survival is dependant purely on its cloning ability.

There you have it. Pando. The tree you don't want to mess with.

(shout out to Matt for the Pando push)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wednesday Weird

Woo Hoo! Back to our usual installment of Wednesday Weird. Oh how I've missed it.

Before we get started, though, just a brief update. This weekend I will be heading out to Wiscon 36, and because of that, I won't have blog posts for either Friday or Monday, since I'll be driving to and from Madison WI (hopefully without getting any speeding tickets). Blog posts will resume as normal next Wednesday.

OK! Onto the Weird!

Today we're going to talk about Sedna.

What's Sedna, you ask? Why the ninth planet in our solar system, of course! (tenth, if you're still counting Pluto. I haven't made my mind up on that yet)

See that dot? Yep. That's Sedna.

What what you ask? Yep. You heard me.

Let's get serious here. Space is effing big. We can all agree on that. And pretty much it's too bright between Mercury and the sun and too dark after Uranus to even really see anything with our current technology. So really, anything could be in our solar system. Space whales? Why not! Space Titanic? Don't be ridiculous. That thing crashed on its maiden voyage.

Even though we're pretty confident about our existing planets (except for Pluto, of course) we're actually not all that confident about other possible planets hanging out in the neighborhood. Which is too bad because they probably hate us for not inviting them to the block parties and junk.

Back to Sedna. Scientists discovered an object orbiting the sun. Yep. Sedna. As of 2012 it was about 3x the distance from the sun as Neptune. So you know, waaaay out there. No one's really sure of its size, but it's at least as big as Pluto. Sedna's long, elliptical orbit takes 11,400 years to complete. Which means chances are, anyone living there has never had a birthday.

So there you have it! Sedna! Of course, I haven't even mentioned Tyche yet, or the fact that there's also a huge gap in asteroids after Pluto, which tells scientists that there's likely a planet between the size of Earth and Mars hanging out back there, munching up all that space rock.

Ahem. But we will. We'll get to Tyche and other things (Nemesis) on later Wednesday Weirds.

Space is awesome.

So what do you think?

Monday, May 21, 2012

In Which I Share More Stuff Pt. 3

All right! This is my last post regarding the Children's and YA Literature Conference. This will just be covering Megan Atwood's Steps for Revising which I'm sure we're all interested in. At least I know I always am.

Fun fact. After this panel (and some thoughts from a trusted Beta Reader) I realized I was finally ready to begin querying my MS Break Free. So, officially I started querying three weeks ago. Fun times! Cross your fingers for me.

And since we're on crossing fingers - today is also the day the 8 Agents participating in the Writer's Voice Competition vote on the entries. Cross your fingers (again) that I get a vote. I would be over the moon happy if even one agent would like to see more.

OK. Sorry. Back to the revisions.

Megan Atwood was awesome. I would, hands down, take a class from her. She was also really really funny, which is always fun.

Deets on her: Megan Atwood created the Young Adult imprint Flux through Llewellyn Publications and was an acquiring editor for five years as well as an agent for one year through Firebrand Literary. She currently writes work-for-hire projects for publishers and has published 14 children's books.

OK. Her steps for revision:

  1. Feeling for the bones: Does your premise suit your story? Does your story start in the right place? Is your narrative Arc arcing? Can you add some more sensory language?
  2. Characters: Does your MC grow/does the inner journey match the outer journey? Are secondary, yet important characters growing (or not)? How often are you in your character's head - when can you ground emotion in the body (show don't tell)?
  3. Pacing/Suspense/Foreshadowing: What scenes need to be slowed or sped - are your important scenes given the time they deserve? Are events and emotions "earned"? Are you giving out the right info when you need to? Do your chapters end with some sort of suspense and are you zigzagging those so as not to fatigue your reader?
  4. Language: Are you overusing dialogue tags? Which words can you change to enhance ambiance?
  5. Repeat: Put it aside for at least two weeks and work on something else. Try to read for pleasure to turn off your editor brain. Then start over at step one.

So there you have it! It sounds easy, natch, but we all know it's much harder than that. Still, it's always nice to have a game plan

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Fun

Yvie here!

Try and pattycake me now!

It's the beginning of the weekend again! Which means time to start the fun!

funny pictures - Mittens works up her courage on her first visit to a nudist beach.


funny pictures - They said I could become  anything. So I became a Furby


funny pictures - Mogs and mugs.


funny pictures - Sorry, guys -

Thursday, May 17, 2012

In Which The Entries Are Posted

Woot woot! Today is the day that the Writer's Voice entries are posted!

You can find my entry along with my teamates' on Monica's Love YA blog. The other entries are on Cupid's blog, Brenda's blog and Krista's blog.

Feel free to comment on the entries and cheer the contestants on, but please no critiques!

AND! For those not yet in the know, on May 24th (a week from today) Vickie Motter and John Cusick will be reading twitter pitches under the hashtag #WVTP from 12PM - 6PM EDT. And there's rumors that there may be other agents lurking as well!

Click here for the rules and get those 140 character pitches polished!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

In Which I Share More Stuff Pt. 2

So I'm back, with more deets regarding the Children's and YA Literature Conference Hannah and I hit up. The last presentation of the conference was Andrew Karre for Seizing the YA Moment.

Andrew Karre is the editorial director of Carolrhoda Books, Carolrhoda Lab & Darby Creek, imprints of the Lerner Publishing Group. He publishes books for kids & teens.

He was, imop, hands down the highlight of the conference. So totally cool and laid back.
He spent a lot of time talking about the #YAMatters Trend on Twitter, as well as the fact that YA is popping up in the media and culture more and people who were previously oblivious, or didn't pay attention, or now taking notice.

Highlights of his talk:

  • YA is now a "thing" and to be important you have to have an opinion on it, which is why we see so many articles etc talking about YA (that tend to make us angry, etc)
  • He prefers fiction "about" young adults instead of fiction "for" young adults. Because he feels that fiction about YAs is a self examination of the cultural phenomenon of adolescence, which everyone goes through, and have been since the abolishment of child labor laws and since teens aren't getting married and having kids when they're 14 anymore (as a generality).
  • Adolescence is a time in all our lives that we never get over. Moments of extreme emotions we experienced in adolescence we still feel just as keenly today. It changes us forever, which is why he loves fiction about adolescence because nobody moves on from it.
  • Writing "for" teens isn't necessarily conducive to art, since you're too busy trying to put across a message, or deciding what's appropriate and what's not
  • Nostalgia in YA lit is fatal. Nostalgia is like the song Jack and Dianne, which is all about the good times growing up, through a filter of an adult. YA fictions should be more like Smells Like Teen Spirit, with emotion felt in the now. Almost like looking through a microscope, unable to see the big picture, to see past what is happening and what the characters are feeling at that moment
  • YA is in its adolescence right now. Any disapproval that comes about (think of the hullabaloo regarding Marbury Lens) is all just fuel for the YA fire. YA is kind of like rock and roll. Maybe some people don't "get" it, so then they assume it must be bad.
  • He was open for submissions in April (or for a year for anyone who attended the conference) but he said by and large YA writers should get agents and that they should spend more time querying agents than querying him or other publishers

When he was done and there was a Q&A session, people actually ran out of questions to ask him because I think everyone was just so blown away by how awesome he was. Definitely attend a panel by him if you ever get the chance.

Monday, May 14, 2012

In Which I Return And Share...Stuff...

Hi everyone! I'm back from my vacay! Normally I have no problem taking a week off and more or less hiding away from the interwebs, but with all the crazy interwebby stuff going on lately, man, it was a bit of a chore. Anyhoo, I'm back now and I'll be spending some time on catching up on your blogs and stuff. Let me know, though, if I missed anything awesome, like someone getting an agent or a book deal or something. That's need to know shit right there.

Anyway, I know I promised you some posts on the Children's and YA Literature Conference Hannah and I attended a few weekends ago, and today, I deliver. At least partially. They'll be one other post, maybe two, next week.

The Keynote Speaker was Justin Chanda, the vice president and publisher for Simon & Schuster books for young readers, Atheneum books for Young Readers and Margaret K McElderry Books and he spoke about Picture Books. And I have to say, I really don't have much of an interest in PBs. I mean, yes, I read them and buy them for friends who are having babies, but I mean, they're pretty off my radar when it comes to writing and publishing.

His presentation was fascinating as hell. Both Hannah and I left feeling amazed and loving PBs.

Highlights from his presentation:

  • PBs are too important to die
  • PBs are not going away, but we have to be realistic about their future.
  • Kids who read, read cyclically. They start with Goodnight Moon, go on to Harry Potter, then Twilight, then Hunger Games. And then the cycle starts all over again
  • PB sales are down 40% from 2007, but they were up last year
  • ebooks will probably not replace hardcover PBs, because they don't necessarily pass the "lap test" (reading with a child on your lap) or the "bedtime test" reading to your child in bed
  • They are publishing less PBs but the ones they do, they can hard sell and there is a lot of opportunity for first time authors and illustrators.
  • PBs used to be ages 4-8 but are now 4-6 because many kids are being pushed to read "up"
  • Marketing yourself is essential but does not trump good storytelling
  • Teens want to get to know you as an author, but for PBs your audience are the parents so you may want to target mommy bloggers
That was mostly what he covered in a nutshell. He was really awesome, funny, smart. He also told us he was accepting submissions from anyone who attended the conference, and not just for PBs either, which is really awesome when you think about it.

All in all, he made me feel really hopeful both for the PB market and for the children's and YA market in general.

If you ever get a chance to see him speak, I would highly recommend it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

In Which I'm In!!

Holy cow guys! I made it! I was one of the peeps selected for the Writer's Voice Competition!

I was totally surprised! I had actually just assumed I wasn't going to get picked because the competition was so fierce, but then I got an email from Monica and a comment on my blog post!

I'm super excited! Here's hoping maybe some of the agents like my first chunk enough to want to see more.

Cross your fingers for me!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

In Which I Take A Break

Hey all -

So I'm off from work all this week, mostly for gardening and yard work, which means I won't be around the interwebs that much.

So I'm taking a break from blog posts this week, mostly because I won't be able to respond to your comments easily, and, more importantly, reciprocate by checking your blogs.

I'll be back with normal postings on Monday.

Have a great week!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday Fun

Woo Hoo! The week is almost over and then the weekend is here!!

Time to party!!

I've got places to go and brothers to bite

Let's get this rolling without any screwing around. Time for the fun!

funny pictures - Carl makes a faux paw.

funny pictures - No Kitty Comic

Funny Pictures - Cat Gifs

funny pictures - When you absolutely, positively have nothing else to do

Thursday, May 3, 2012

In Which I Participate

So Today is the day for the Writer's Voice competition. I'm participating because it's different than any other contest I've seen on the blogosphere and it sounds like a lot of fun. Here's hoping I get picked.

Anyhoo, here's my entry (my query and my first 250 words) for my YA fantasy Break Free

Seventeen-year-old courier Kiel Reaux has one goal: pay off the debt chaining him to the Baron of Old Town and earn his freedom. After a failed delivery, the Baron reminds Kiel how bloody the consequences will be if he doesn’t agree to run one final package. When the job goes balls up and he stumbles into the hands of slavers, the Baron’s bloody promise drops to bottom of Kiel’s list of priorities.

Kiel is sold to Izzy, a young priestess na├»ve enough to trust him. On the run from her own problems, Izzy needs to travel through the Wild, a jungle of untamed magic. What’s more, she’s decided Kiel will be her guide. Only he’s not playing nice.

Assassins trail Izzy’s every step and in the Wild the trees can kill and flowers resurrect the dead. Even if Kiel’s forgotten about the Baron, the Baron hasn’t forgotten about him. But while Kiel manages to keep everything under control, he fails to guard himself against the most dangerous power yet: Izzy herself. Her beauty and kind nature chain Kiel so tightly he starts to forget about his dream of being free. Now Kiel has a choice: forget Izzy in an attempt to save face with the Baron, or trust in Izzy and her promise to free him if he helps her. But he’ll have to choose quickly, because unless Kiel can find a way to save them both, he won’t have to worry about his liberty. You can’t enjoy freedom if you’re dead.

250 words:

I lost the package.

It should’ve been the final job for the Baron. The last delivery, and then I’d be done with him forever. But I lost the package and here I found myself, back at the Baron’s, ready to beg forgiveness. To ask for a final chance to pay off my debt – a final chance to be free.

I hesitated in front of the wrought-iron gates and scratched the stubble on my jaw. The Baron’s white manor gleamed in the sun. It almost looked pretty. It always looked rich.

My stomach twisted and dropped into my groin. What was that feeling called? Dread? Yeah… definitely dread.

The setting sun turned the dust from the road red. Jal stepped beside me and stared at me out of the corner of his eye, brushing a lock of brown hair off his forehead. “Why’d we stop?”

I shook myself and contained my worry. “No reason. Just thought maybe you needed a rest.”

His face flushed and his eyes widened. “Shut up, Kiel! You’re just saying that to make me mad.”

 “Prove it, Kid.” I shrugged. “Now come on. I want to get through this as fast as possible.”

“You’re the one who stopped in the first place,” the kid mumbled. I ignored him. When Jal sulked, he looked even younger than his thirteen years. Too young and he’d attract the Baron’s attention, something I’d managed to prevent for a long time.

Bam! Good luck to everyone participating!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Writer's Support Group

So here we are, another month has gone by and I'm sure we've all had our ups and downs in our writing.

I've been mostly up, which is nice. Because being down sucks.

But we all get down, sooner or later. Which also sucks, but here's the thing, no one stays down forever. Things swing back around. They really do. And if you stay positive, and think good thoughts, then things will be great again, and you'll wonder why you ever felt down in the first place.

Just remember. I believe in you. I really do. Work hard enough and you'll get there. You just have to put one foot in front of the other.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

In Which We Celebrate!

Today is the day! The day Elemental is available!


I was lucky enough to snag an arc (courtesy of Yvie's hairless tummy and a temporary tattoo) and let me tell you, the book is awesome! So many great characters, and I loved them all!

You will too!

What are you waiting for? Grab your copy today!!
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