Monday, May 21, 2012

What's Your Favorite Road Trip Music?

As you're reading this, I'm on our bi-annual pilgrimage to the old country (that would be the Netherlands for me). There's some significant driving involved, and then there's the epic flight.

When I think of road trips, I think of Willie Nelson (and my dad belting the 'On the Road Again' tune), and Tom Petty for some reason. Maybe it's the whole American classic quality of his music.

How about you, YA Sleutheri? Any favorite road music to share?

 

Friday, May 18, 2012

List of Great Middle-Grade Mysteries for the Summer (my post at Criminal Element)

In case you're new to MG mysteries, or if you're just looking for a few good books...

Check out my post at Criminal Element, where I talk about some of my favorite MG mysteries. So you can stop giving Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to the tweens in your life--not that we don't love them. But there's so much fresh stuff to read in MG mystery. And these books are good for adults, too.

Happy Summer!

Come See Me Over At Sleuth, Spies and Alibis


I'm the new kid on the (cell) block over at Sleuths, Spies and Alibis, a group blog all about YA and MG mysteries. Cool, right? Come say hi and check out the blog; there's lots of good stuff to read.

Oh, and the best part? No one has warned them to hide the silver yet, so shhh....

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Where I Wonder: Do You Ever Truly Unplug?

It's hectic madness here at Casa Bradley. We're going on vacation in a few days, and for some reason, that involves insane preparation activity--almost to the point where you wonder: why do we go on vacation again?? I need a vacation from my vacation, people.

But the good thing is that I get to take a break from the daily grind, even if I love my work very much. There's the email inbox that overfloweth, the sink full of dishes that overfloweth, the laundry basket--as you can tell, there's a lot of overflowing in my life. Stuff's busy.

The one tough part: unplugging from the ol' internet. Since I work for myself, the floweth never really stops. There's manuscript editing, email, blog posts, articles due. And then there's Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Blogger--you get the idea. As writers, we live on the internet. So it's a little weird to unplug for a few weeks, I have to say. Not that the internet will miss me, what with the gazillion other people on it.

I'm really looking forward to just forgetting about the WWW for a little while, though. I'll come back with that vacation smile, and renewed energy (also with a suitcase that overfloweth with laundry, but I won't think about that now).

How about you all? Do you have scheduled unplug time?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Favorite Movie + Good Song = Happy Monday

O Brother, Where Art Thou? is still one of my favorite movies. And this is probably one of the few country songs I actually like.

Happy Monday. Y'all...

 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Since It's Children's Book Week, Tell Me: What's Your Favorite Children's Book?

For me, it's Pippi. As a redheaded freckly girl who liked to daydream, I loved this book. I slept upside-down in my bed, and dreamed of living in a house with a veranda (that's a porch). This book is still The Book for me.

Interesting story: my mom loaned it to someone who forgot to return it. My mom was frustrated (see my love for said book above), and always hoped she'd find it.

Years later, she found it at the local secondhand bookstore--no lie. It was 25 cents. My name is still written inside, in careful cursive letters, including my old address. Fate boomeranged this book back, and Pippi sits on my shelf again. And I still hope to have a veranda one day...

How about you? What's your favorite children's book?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday Music: A Life Story In A Song (Fast Car)

An oldie--but man, this is one of those songs that stays good forever. There's a whole novel in this song, don't you think?

Can you think of any other songs that tell a story like this one does?

 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

How To Find The Right Literary Agent--A Quick Guide

I have a YA/MG/(fill in the blank) manuscript. Who's your agent?


I get this question a lot now, and the answer is more difficult than you'd think. Not because my agent is top-secret (he's Stephen Barbara at Foundry, and yes, he's awesome), but because finding an agent should be more involved than asking for a name. And I didn't always know that either, so I thought I would give you the five-minute answer here.

How you should select your agent:

1. Does (s) he have the same vision for your manuscript (and career) as you do?

This seems like an easy one, and "I don't care, as long as (s)he sells it!" is not the right answer. You'll be doing edits, changing plot lines, characters--your agent will also be your editorial adviser. Make sure YOU know what you want your work-in-progress--and your career as a writer--to be.

2. Do you communicate well with each other?

This is a big one, and I didn't get that until I worked with some people who just didn't communicate like I do. I like straight answers, directness, specificity. Just tell me what stinks. Some people like an agent who talks in broad terms, maybe you're looking for lots of small talk or weekly updates. Think about all this before you sign with an agent. Ask questions. Talk a while, and ask yourself if you're both on the same page.

3. Has (s)he sold manuscripts in your genre?

You need an agent who has the connections to editors, and having sold manuscripts is the real test here. If you go with a brand-spankin' new agent, make sure they're with an agency that has those connections. See the resources below on how to get this information.

Ask your prospective agent where (s)he thinks your manuscript might fit (publishing house, editor). Better yet, do your own homework, and know who publishes what in your genre.

4. What agency is the agent with?

You want an agent who has access to other agents, to sell foreign rights, movie rights, etc. If the agent is a solo op, ask how (s)he handles this.

These are just a few questions I would ask. Think of your own, and add them to the list. You'll be working closely with your agent, so make sure (s)he is the right agent for you.

Here are some resources online, so you can research stuff:

Publishers Marketplace: Agents get to design their own page here, so you know you're getting the info about submitting, etc. straight from them. You can subscribe to get access to Publishers Marketplace's deals database (see #3 above).

Agentquery: Great for a quick database, but make sure you check all info against the agent's website.

Preditors and Editors: To make sure your agent didn't sell swamp land in Florida last week. Simply check the name against their A-to-Z database.

Jacketflap: A hub for kidlit writers, editors and agents. Vet any agent name against the sources above, because remember: anyone can call themselves an agent.

AAR: Association of Authors' Representatives--a regulating organization that's all about protecting your rights. Extra points if your agent or their agency belongs to AAR, because that means they'll adhere to their canon of ethics. Belonging to AAR comes with a price tag, though, so I wouldn't rule out an agent based on their AAR membership alone.

Google: The Google is your friend, people. You can find agent interviews, authors gushing about their agent, authors moaning about their horrible agent and how they were dropped--oh, and you would've found the name of my agent, too. Use search engines to find the books your prospective agents has sold, so you can reference them in your query letter and sound smart. Use the internet, y'all. It's the lazy person's library.

That's it, in a nutshell.

Anyone have resources or advice to share?




Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tell me: do you pre-order books?

Exciting moment #29 (or something like that) in this newbie author journey: realizing you can pre-order Double Vision.

And I'm a bargain at B&N, check it out. But who really cares but me and my writerly friends, right? I know I don't pre-order books much more than a week or two in advance, if at all.

Which got me wondering: do you pre-order books? And if so, how far ahead of publication?

I'm curious.