A Deal for You, A Deal for Them

I came across this AMAZING deal the other day from Writer’s Digest. And now you have just a couple more days to act on it, so don’t waste another minute. Go HERE and check out these SEVEN writing books that are absolutely FREE.

That’s right, friends. They’re part of a free NaNoWriMo ebooks deal. And don’t tell me that you don’t have an e-reader, ’cause you can download a FREE Kindle for your PC. Yes, you can. Then you can download any or all of these FREE books. Yes, you can!

Then, after saving ALL that money, you can zip over to the Light Up the Library Auction and bid on something special. There are a ton of categories, and one especially for you, writers.

Now, I love libraries and I love how this auction will benefit the Musana Children’s Home Library in Uganda. So check out what Jean Reidy‘s been up to, and take a look at her book, Light Up the Night, then light up a child’s life with your bid.

Finding Something Friday: 2011 Goodreads Choice Awards

If you want to be a writer, you’ve got to be a reader.

Yes, I know you know that. But are you reading? Not the newspaper, or the magazines in the checkout aisle, or the cereal box on the breakfast table. I’m sure those all make for mighty interesting reading. But what you’ve got to read is mighty fine books.

And what I’ve found today is the Goodreads Choice Awards over at Goodreads.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to be bothered with posting all the books you’ve read on Goodreads. Or that you don’t care about the really cool Goodreads widgets. Or that you might get sucked into playing that books trivia game and have a screaming hissy fit because you miss three questions in a row that, really, you knew but didn’t go with your gut first answer. Ahem.

No, writers. What matters is what you’ll find at Goodreads that’s going to help you become the best writer you can be.

You’re going to find lists of books. And with the Goodreads Choice Awards, you’re going to find 15 excellent, current books in each of 30 categories. You’ll find the best humor books (Want to write humorous essays? Check ’em out). You’ll find the best of the year’s memoir (Got a life story? Check those out.) You’ll find the best non-fiction (Thinking of a proposal? Look into what’s out there.). And you’ll find the best in fiction, from horror to historical, graphic novels to romance, picture books to paranormal fantasy.

So, off you go, writer. Goodreads is a mighty fine place to start finding, well, good reads. And if you’re like me, you’ve got an awful lot of reading to catch up on!

Finding Something Friday: Humor, Books I’m Reading, Contest, Writing Tips

That’s not a very catchy post title, but it does pretty much sum up the day’s catch.
If you’d like to read October’s column in Modern Senior Living, check out page 13 for “My Not-So-Smart Phone.” (I could probably write a book about phones at the Hall house. One time, I walked into Juniorest Hall’s room and found this mangled mess of wires and such on his bed. Just before I threw it out, he yelled, “Wait! That’s my phone!” Which he was actually still using. It was the phone I’d purchased 24 hours after I’d bought his first phone–but that’s another story.)
As you may remember, October is National Book Month, and I thought I’d update you on what I’m reading now: Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley (a middle grade novel with fairy tale overtones) and Bodies of the Dead And Other Great American Ghost Stories (Did you know Edith Wharton wrote a ghost story? Neither did I, but there she is with Ambrose Bierce, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Willa Cather, and Harriet Prescott Spofford. I don’t know Harriet Prescott Spofford from Adam’s house cat, but how many times do you come across a name with that many double consonants? When I finish this scary book, I’m giving it away in the All Hallow’s Read Giveaway. Don’t forget to mention BOOk in a comment if you want your name in the cauldron.)
Janet Reid (yes, the literary agent, again) is having a contest. You have till tomorrow (at noon) to write a 100 word themed Halloween story with the words she’s posted. You can win a critique from Barbara Poelle, and that’s pretty awesome for a micro-fiction story. (You get bonus points if you work in the word “insalubrious”. And yes, I know that you know what insalubrious means, but I thought I’d give a quick definition for all those folks who may have taken a siesta during 10th grade Vocab drills: insalubrious=not conducive to health, unwholesome.)
Finally, just a quick mention of the writing tips you can find over at Finders & Keepers this week. I mentioned that I attended an SCBWI conference and I wrote a “what I learned from whom I saw” post. It’s packed with stuff you can use, whether you’re a children’s writer or not. (Seriously. It’s kind of a long post. But no one will know if you skim it.)
And now, as my insalubrious tale won’t write itself, I have a story to find on this fine Friday. I’m pretty sure it’s rattling around in my head, somewhere.

When Is A Debut Novel NOT a Debut Novel?

Yesterday, I read a blog post from Janet Reid (the literary agent). What I spied with my little eye was the bit about the writer who was very, very good but she’d turned him down because she’d seen that story a dozen times. A debut novel needs to be something fresh and new, she said.

Over the weekend, I attended an SCBWI conference where Alexandra Cooper (an editor) mentioned that writers should do their homework, see what publishers are buying and pay attention to what kinds of books are glutting up the marketplace. But what if a writer’s been working on a book for a couple years and NOW the marketplace is glutted with her kind of story? What to do then? Ms. Cooper suggested that perhaps that “overdone” novel might need to stay under the bed for awhile. A debut novelist needs something…yep, fresh and new.

The last query response I received was very sweet. I can’t remember the agent’s name off the top of my head, but she personally answered the email. Loved the title, she said, loved the humor, and she felt that the writing was good and that the book would find a home. But this sweet agent already had something like my novel. Honestly? It’s not the first time I’ve gotten a response along those lines.

And so I’m considering, or perhaps I should say re-considering, whether this manuscript is the one I should be putting out there as a debut novel. I really love this story. I love these characters. And I want to tell more of their story. A story that may, if I keep pushing, sell sooner or later.

But is it fresh enough and new enough to be a debut novel? In the last three months, I keep hearing this message, and now it’s beginning to take on an ominous tone, like a warning. To wit: just because you can get your first book published…should you?

Which just goes to prove that October may be all about scary monsters and things that go bump in the night, but what really keeps a person wide awake and terrified is freakin’ reality and the choices we make that might affect the rest of our lives. (Boo!)

A This ‘n That Thursday on Reading

So I came across Neil Gaiman’s bloody brilliant idea the other day on Twitter: All Hallow’s Read.
It’s pretty simple. Just give someone a scary book to read on Halloween. It doesn’t have to be brand-spanking new. It doesn’t have to be just for kids. It doesn’t have to be written by Neil Gaiman, even.
Just go watch the short video and hear what Neil has to say. But you’ll probably be distracted by the zombies in the background and not really listen. Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, I love this idea. In fact, I love it so much that I’ll give some lucky blog reader a scary book. Maybe I’ll give away a couple of scary books. I guess that depends on how many scary books I can round up. In the meantime, leave a comment with the word “BOOk” in it and you might get one from my personal stash of creepy favorites!
Also, whilst piddling…um, make that business networking, on Twitter, I came across a very funny site about the value of our libraries. If you’re familiar with the book, Go The F*** To Sleep, and have a wondrous imagination, you’ll know where I’m going with this site. And why I can’t actually mention it in a G-rated blog. You’ll just go and laugh and laugh and laugh.
Or again, maybe that’s just me.