Monday, November 27, 2017

5 of the Best Writing Podcasts

Writing in Real Life
If you're a parent and a writer, this is the podcast for you! Covering the topics of parenthood, publishing and marriage, the episodes speak to everything I think about on a daily basis as a mom and aspiring writer. I binged-listened to all the episodes and may have written an embarrassingly long fan letter. Hosted by real-life married couple: Morgan Baden (VP of Communications at Scholastic) and Barry Lyga (New York Times Bestselling Author).

What a breath of fresh air! Best-selling and award-winning authors, Danielle Trusooni and Walter Kern provide an uncensored glimpse of publishing from the perspective of published writers. From bad editor experiences to the perils/benefits of working in New York City, these two never hold back. When you listen to a lot of writing podcasts, you start to hear the same slant on various topics, but these hosts never fail to bring a new and genuine outlook to the table.

This podcast is fairly new (only 11 episodes), but it's off to a great start! Hosted by Jennifer Laughran, Senior Literary Agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency, each episode features a guest expert who answers questions on a given topic. Jennifer usually opens with a pub tip before launching into the interviews.

88 Cups of Tea
Warning: this podcast comes with an entire community! Listen for interviews with authors, storytellers and agents from various walks of life. Host Yin Chang asks compelling and sometimes unexpected questions that keep listeners listening. Join the Facebook group to learn about upcoming episodes and submit questions for Yin to ask on air!

Print Run
Hosted by agents at Red Sofa Literary, Laura Zats and Erik Hane, this podcast covers a variety of publishing topics, many times taken from the latest headlines. However, the best parts are the semi-irregular segments entitled the James Patterson Book of the Week and (I'm going to get this title wrong), Author Under Investigation by the FBI of the Week. You can also enjoy special query and first page episodes when you join as a patreon listener.

Photo by Juja Han on Unsplash

Friday, June 30, 2017

#pimpmybio PitchWars 2017


Hi! I’m Julia. Nice to meet you. Let me tell you about myself.


The first book I ever wrote was a….software manual!

I’ve been lucky enough to write professionally in various capacities since 2001. But as I say in my queries, fiction is what gets me through the lunch hours and witching hours. 


I have a job in advertising.

Yes, like Mad Men. Minus the affairs and crazy gender inequality. Ok, both of those still exist on some level, but I refuse to acknowledge either! And I don’t wear a suit. I also don’t smoke. So then nothing like Mad Men.


Married, 2 kids, Denver, 50s ranch home, chocolate > vanilla


Jane Austen
For her realistic characters, depth of romance, humor and obsession with hypochondriacs. I’ve read Persuasion more than 12 times, once on a flip phone. 

Jane Austen

P.G. Wodehouse
For his clever turns of phrase, screwball comedy and interesting characters with unabashedly selfish motivations. 

Author, P.G. Wodehouse

IMPORTANT NOTE: Yes, I love modern fiction too. I’m not a total snob. Here are some of my favorite books written in recent times (anything during my lifetime is recent━don’t you dare tell me otherwise. I’m not old, dammit!): Fangirl, The Night Circus, To Say Nothing of the Dog, The Scorpio Races and Portuguese Irregular Verbs.


I love reading Sanditon completion stories. This is Jane Austen’s unfinished novel that has been “finished” by many other people. It’s like a choose your own adventure! Some of these are terrible (because let’s face it; you have to be kind of pretentious to attempt this) and that’s part of the fun. Like Mystery Science Theater 3000 for books fun! This one is actually amazing and the author handles it very gracefully.


I thought it would be fun to take the premise of His Girl Friday and make it my own!
His Girl Friday

The blurb (new and improved coming out of Pitch Wars!)

Journalist Samantha Hale would rather live off cereal and carrot sticks than freelance for her cheater-McCheater ex-boyfriend, Tor Mackelroy. But it’s been two months since she’s had a decent byline, rent is past due, and Tor just offered her the chance to blow the lid off the biggest charity embezzlement scandal Denver’s ever seen. Too bad she’s never been able to resist a juicy exclusive—or him.

As the investigation heats up, so does the couple’s old flame. Between crashing charity galas and contracting hackers-for-hire, Sam can’t decide what holds the biggest mystery—the nonprofit’s missing funds or the man who broke her heart. The more time they spend together, the more she questions exactly what happened the night she found another woman draped all over him.

When evidence points to Tor’s father’s guilt, finding the truth goes hand-in-hand with destroying the family of the only man she ever loved. Only time will tell if her new-found faith in Tor—and humanity—will be enough to give this rebooted romance a second chance.

Complete at 77,000 words, EAT YOUR HEART OUT, TOR MACKELROY is a romantic comedy inspired by the classic 1940’s film, HIS GIRL FRIDAY, and will appeal to fans of THE HATING GAME.

So that's it! Thanks for reading. Happy #PitchWars, everyone! Go here for the blog hop.

Monday, February 2, 2015

On failing #nanowrimo

I've had a couple months to think about this now so here goes...

This is the untold story. The one no one talks about. All through October, it's nothing but "Didn't such and such published author write XXX during nano?" It's all sunshine and rainbows until November ninth rolls around and many people lose steam and try to forget their infant novel was ever conceived.

This was my fifth year doing Nanowrimo and the first year I failed (meaning I didn't reach the 50,000-word mark). I actually only made it to word number 10,463. EPIC #FAIL. Or was it? These are the reasons I failed and I'm totally ok with it:

1. I love my 10,463 words
I adore my characters, I love where my story is heading and nano gave me the jumpstart I needed to get the ball rolling. I have over 10,000 words I didn't have before. So there!

2. I wasn't done plotting
Let's face it, part of the reason I stopped is because my outline wasn't complete. I need direction before I can get more words on the page or my story will be shot and possibly unrepairable. I'm not really into writing words just to write them. I need to know where I'm going.

3. I had a 2-month-old baby
This sounds like an excuse, but it's more of just a reality check. Having a newborn makes time management tough. My daughter needed me to bond more than I needed to write a book. She'll never be 2 months old again and I have no regrets.

Basically, I might have failed at Nanowrimo, but I'm not a failure. I didn't just slack off. The timing wasn't right this year. If it wasn't your year either, it's ok. It really is. It wasn't as if I didn't accomplish anything. I wrote some words, got inspired and I'll be back when I'm ready. And I'm 100% ok with that.

Did you ever try and fail Nanowrimo?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Blogging hiatus & other news

So the reason I haven't been blogging is...


I've been puking! Yay!

In other words, I'm PREGNANT. Due September 10. I've had terrible morning sickness, but I'm coming out of it and I'm energized and ready to pick up my favorite manuscript and start some deep revisions. Which will probably take me a year, but that's ok. This industry is slow, right? I already fit in.

Where am I getting all this new inspiration? I attended the Big Sur Writing Workshop this past weekend. I highly recommend it. I went in trying to figure out which manuscript I should focus on and came out confident in which one has the most potential.

If you've never heard of the conference, I highly suggest you consider it. It is run by the Andrea Brown Literary Agency and is typically held twice a year. Writers get to bounce their first pages off agents, published authors and editors. It is a great place to find critique partners and learn about the publishing industry. Very helpful! Most of the info is on their site, but email me if you want the scoop from a writer's perspective.

So, without further ado, I give you my birth announcement (my 7-year old son's vlog).

2013 Book List: Summer Update

Summer is here and that means...reading on the front porch! I've gotten off to a slow start on my reading list this year, but I thought I'd post a mid-year-ish update. I've read many of the books on my 2013 list. Updates are in orange below.

1. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
I've endured acute torture ever since I finished the last page of Clockwork Prince, so this selection tops the list. I will be devouring this book, starting midnight March 19, the second it's available.
This was a somewhat satisfying final installment, but the last 100 pages were a little contrived and disappointing.

2. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Girl watches loud messy boys next door and wants to be a part of their lives. I need to read more contemporary YA because I write it and this one is quietly calling me. The gorgeous cover doesn't hurt.
This was a great summer read! I'm so glad I judged this book by its cover. 

3. Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting
I love this series and I can't wait to read this latest installment when it comes out in April. She senses dead people, people!
The fourth book in the Body Finder series was a not my favorite. Too much drug use, too many gruesome murder scenes and too many unanswered questions!

4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Two cancer patients fall in love. I must be the only person on the planet who hasn't read this, so I'm giving it a shot. Apparently, I better get my tissues.
Well, I didn't cry. I love John Green. Maybe it was all the hype, but I wasn't in love. More of a Paper Towns person?

5. Linked by Imogen Howson
The twin she never knew existed! This book looks incredible. I'm reading it when it comes out in June.
This one comes out in a few days!

5. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
This must be the most talked about book on Twitter. It doesn't seem like something I'd normally pick, but I haven't read one bad review so it makes the list.

6. Crewel by Gennifer Albin
I wanted to read this before it came out because I heard it was dystopian with a vintage feel. But I was BURNED OUT ON DYSTOPIA in 2012. Here's hoping I'll be in the mood soon.
Turns out, this one is more of a science fiction novel than dystopian. It's unique and I'm starting to get into it.

7. Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger
Is there a nicer author on Twitter? No. Shannon is totally down to earth and awesome and I can't wait to read this book in March.

8. And, Also, My Palms are Sweaty: A memoir in sixty-four men by Gigi Griffis
I'm going to make a point to start reading more self-published works. This one about a woman's adventures in dating looks hilarious. Plus, I know the author!

9. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
A girl named Ruby survives a mysterious disease and ends up with crazy powers. I've been following this author on Twitter forever and this book looks fabulous.
I really enjoyed this book and I can't wait for the next installment, coming out October 15.

10. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
I love Stephanie's books and I can't wait to read the finale in this companion series. The only question is, will this book ever get a cover? Come on already!
What??? This is now coming out in May of 2014? Oh, well. At least it has a cover now.

11. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
So many reasons to read this book. There's a movie coming out. It takes place in the south (love). And it's written jointly by two authors. How awesome is that?
I started this book, but didn't get very far. Not sure if I'll go back to it.

12. It Takes a Village to Kill Your Husband by Jethro Collins
Another self-published book by an author I know and I can't wait to read it! "A moving story about long-lost love, finding yourself, onions rings and the importance of pink." Does it get better than that? Plus, there's a trailer.

13. Finale (Hush, Hush #4) by Becca Fitzpatrick
I read the first three, so I feel sort of invested. But I have to be in the mood to read something fluffy.

14. Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
I'm OBSESSED with Jennifer Echols as of last week, during which I read two of her books. I haven't even read the synopsis of this one. Just reading it because it's her.

15. The Boys Next Door by Jennifer Echols
I don't take my obsessions lightly. I may read everything she wrote before the end of 2013, who knows.

16. Harken by Kaleb Nation
I'm swooning over this cover. Conspiracy theories! Supernatural organizations! Yes, please!

17. Unusual Uses for Olive Oil by Alexander McCall Smith (Portuguese Irregular Verbs #4)
Ok, this series isn't for everyone. But it's definitely for me! The first in the series was probably the funniest book I've ever read.
The third book in this series was a little weak, but this was a great comeback! I want more from this hilarious series!

Other things I've read this year...

Levitating Las Vegas by Jennifer Echols
This was my first NA book. It started out unique and entertaining, but ended up annoying me to no end!

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Genius! Genus! Genius!

Divergent by Veronica Roth
I'm in the middle of reading this and I love it! Can't wait for the movie!

How is your 2013 reading list going so far? Have you read any of the same books? Have you come across any surprises?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Nanowrimo prepping

It's that season again! Time to prep for one of my favorite months of the year...November and Nanowrimo. This will be my fourth year participating. Part of the annual ritual is the preparation time. Here's what I'm doing to gear up...

1. Setting up my desk area
As you can see, my new desk is right next to my bed, which should make it easier to roll out and write at 5:30 a.m. every day. I will need to get my electric blanket handy because it's freezing that early in the morning here right now.

2. Creating a playlist
Music is essential for motivation throughout the process. I like to set up a list of new songs to help me get a fresh start. Here's what I've got on tap so far:

2013 Nanowrimo Playlist >>

3. Scammed my husband into cleaning my laptop screen
It was gross...and now it's not! Yay for husband. He hates Nanowrimo and November, but he did his part by cleaning the screen. That will be the end of his contribution. Oh well.

4. Purchased tea!
Caffeine is essential. I stocked up on English Breakfast from Taylors of Harrogate.

I'm doing a complete rewrite of my Nanowrimo from 2011 so the plot is pretty much there. Otherwise, I would be doing a lot of plotting right now too.

Here's my profile if you want to be my buddy:

So...what am I forgetting? What are you doing to prepare for November 1?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

WriteOnCon at your own pace

If you were working full time/on vacation/forgot and didn't attend WriteOnCon this week and now you're feeling like you missed out, DON'T. The beautiful thing about WriteOnCon is not all the benefits require real-time attendance.

If you missed it, why not experience the content at your own pace? (Don't know what I'm talking about? Click here.)

Google+ Hangouts
This year, WriteOnCon had several Google Hangout sessions with agents and editors critiquing queries, pitches and first pages. While you can no longer submit your content for possible critique, as soon as the Google Hangout is over, it becomes a full YouTube video. You can watch the entire presentation from the beginning, pause it--and even fast forward if need be. Check them out:

Twitter Pitches with Literary Agents Danielle Smith and Tamar Rydzinski 
This video is split into two halves:
  • Danielle Smith is looking for picture books, chapter books & middle grade
  • Tamar Rydzinski is looking for almost anything except paranormal and holocaust
Twitter Pitches with Literary Agents Mackenzie Brady and Duvall Osteen
Both agents are looking for YA, specifically: realistic (contemporary), mystery/thriller, issue-driven and non-fiction

Twitter Pitches with Literary Agents Suzie Townsend and Kathleen Ortiz
They are looking for anything from middle grade to new adult.

Twitter Pitches with Spencer Hill Press editors Danielle Ellison and Patricia Riley
These editors want YA, anything realistic (contemporary) and/or speculative fiction.

First Page Feedback with Literary Agent Marietta Zacker
This agent is all things kids lit!

The best thing about these sessions is that you can get a an idea of individual agent tastes. If you have one of these agents on your query list, you'll want to listen in, real time or not!

Live chats
There were also some live chats with agents and editors that you can replay and read at your own pace. Just click on the links and scroll.

Live Chat with Editors Andrew Harwell, Sarah Dotts Barley and Agent Lindsay Ribar

Live Chat with Agents Sarah la Polla, Katie Grimm, Brooks Sherman and Victoria Marini

This is just the beginning of the content available. View all content here for the 2013 WriteOnCon. You can also dip into the archives for previous years: 2012, 2011, 2010. Just keep in mind that information about trends may be dated.

Tip! If you missed out on your chance to ask an agent a question, keep an eye out for agents using the #askagent hashtag on Twitter. This goes on all year round!

The forums
The forums are definitely the most important part of the real-time WriteOnCon experience. You can post your query, first 250 words and first five pages and gain peer critiques. If you missed it, browse through the forums and read the comments left by ninja agents (literary agents who went under cover and made comments/made MS requests). And be sure to participate next year, since you can post whenever you have time and don't necessarily have to be active during the day if you have other obligations.

Tip! If you need help with your query, you may also try submitting to Query Shark

So that's it! Don't miss out on this great content. Take it in at your own pace. All the Google Hangout videos above can also be found on my YouTube playlist, YouTube Writing Resources.