Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Giveaway Hop

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED.

Links to all the other giveaways can be found here.

For this giveaway, Lemon Inkwell is giving away one $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble.  What you have to do to enter:  Leave a comment about your favorite back to school memory, your favorite teacher, or your favorite year in school.

If you would like additional entries, you may follow this blog (+ one entry), tweet about this giveaway including a link to Lemon Inkwell (+ one entry), facebook about it including a link (when did facebook become a verb? + one entry), like the Melissa Lemon author facebook page which can be found to your left (+ one entry).  Please add up your total.  Please.  Pretty please.  The only thing you have to do to enter is leave a comment.  There are 5 total possible entries per person.

Can't wait to see who the lucky winner is.  Happy Back to School!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Great Read-Aloud Books

 
My kids and I read this book last year and what a treat!  Rinkitink in Oz was nothing short of delightful.  Bilbil the goat is my personal favorite, but I loved all of the characters in this book.  An unfortunate catastrophe, magic rocks, amazing ships, underground enchanted caves, and of course, Oz.  Dorothy even makes an appearance if I remember correctly.

One of the great things about reading Charlotte's Web out loud is doing all of the voices.  What fun to pretend you are a wise spider, whiny pig, know-it-all goose or a glutenous rat.  For the longest time I would get car sick if I tried to read in the passenger seat of the car.  This book cured me of that because it was so much fun to read out loud to my kids while on a road trip.
It's true.  Cinder and Ella is a fantastic read-aloud book.  Just ask my 7-yr. old.  Several of the reviews on Goodreads mentioned that this book is meant to be read aloud.  I quite agree.  I can't wait to do some readings; only a couple of months to go.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It's Out of My Hands

I had a teacher in middle school who loved analogies.  He once said that if he had to choose between analogies and his children, he would let his children go.  Today I let go of Cinder and Ella after reading through and making comments on the final proof, and am happy to report that I love my children more than my book.  Letting go felt relieving.  Final.  Good.  When my children go somewhere, I always want them to come back, but leaving my book in the hands of my editor felt natural.  Peaceful.  Freeing.

Time to move on to other things, like launch parties and finishing the edit on my first novel.

Writer Wednesday--A New Kind of Rejection

When you write books, rejection is a part of life.  I don't really know how many rejections I've received to date, but it's been plenty.  Enough to last a lifetime.  Now I'm finding that there is another stage of rejection along the path to publication.  I'm trying to get author endorsements for Cinder and Ella.  The problem?  I don't know any published authors.  Well, not personally.  And so I'm going cold turkey here, sending e-mails to authors who I admire and whose books I cherish.  And I've heard several things like:  I'm too busy, I just don't do that, I don't feel qualified.  Then there is the cold shoulder--if they just ignore me maybe I'll go away.  (They don't know me very well, do they?)  Here are my "conclusions" about author endorsements:  If a super star author endorsed a book they are either old high school buddies or new BFFs with the author whose book they are endorsing.  Feel free to share your story if you have seen something different.  I would like to give a couple of honorable mentions here for authors who responded to my e-mails.  Go check them out people; they are awesome.

Jan Brett
Lois Lowry
Mette Ivie Harrison

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Musings--Some Thoughts on Agents

When I first began seeking publication, almost everything I read talked about the importance of having an agent: publishers won't look at you unless you have an agent and agents won't look at you unless you've already been published.  Or something like that.  Over the three years I queried agents, I only sent my book ideas to a handful of publishers.  While landing a publisher was always my end goal, I thought having an agent was a necessary step to reaching that goal.  Only one article I read over those years mentioned the possibility of not having an agent.  More than mentioned, actually.  It basically said that you only need an agent if you're a baby and have to have somebody holding your hand through the publishing process.  (Don't be angry with me people, that's just what I remember.)  While I continued to try to find an agent, I kept that idea in the back of my head just in case; I am not a baby, after all.  I did not have dreams of going with some huge publishing company; I've always preferred boutique shops to chain stores.  And for right now, I am perfectly happy without an agent.  So you writers, publishers, agents out there, what are your thoughts?  Are agents becoming obsolete?  Writers, if you have an agent, what benefits have they provided?  Publishers, do you prefer working through agents or directly with an author?  Agents, what will you do if your profession dissolves?  (I had to ask that because you all rejected me.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Character Introductions--Meet Jack

Name:  Jack Sparks
Gender:  Male
Age:  19
Goals:  Take care of his sisters until they graduate from high school
What makes him tick:  Whatever

Full of snarkiness and big brother love, Jack can turn anything into a joke.  He enjoys picking fights with his father and working in a small souvenir shop.  His life won't be going anywhere until his sisters are grown up and out of the house because someone has to take care of them.  One day his estranged brother's girlfriend shows up.  Jack welcomes her into their family and home because he knows it will give his father a conniption.  Plus she's cute and she might know something about where his brother has been for the last few years.  That's Jack.

Jack is a sidekick in the novel I'm getting ready for submission.  Hopefully you'll get the chance to meet him someday soon.  :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

It's Monday--I'll Post Whatever I Want

Man I've been grouchy lately. Life can get stressful. And when things pile up a little too high and I begin to feel overwhelmed, I sort of shut down and get nothing done. Well, not as much as I'd like anyway. Then I look at everyone around me and know that I'm not the only one with a full plate and so I tell myself to stop being a wimp. Which doesn't help. Why can't we just say, "Self, you are awesome. You are doing the best you can and anyone who thinks you aren't can just go..." I'll let you fill that in with your favorite saying or whatever. I have been stressed for a few reasons lately. Let me share. It is your lucky day, after all. I want to write. Write, write, write. But I'm also a teacher. And while teaching music is enjoyable, compared to writing it's kind of like having an empty popsicle stick. I look around and say, "Hey, who licked all of the ice cream off of my popsicle stick?" You tell me, if you had to choose between an empty popsicle stick and one covered with thick, smooth chocolate ice cream, which would you choose? But things aren't that simple. It is time to cut back on the teaching, however. The problem? How do I choose which students to let go of? It seriously has had me close to tears all day. Teaching music may be like an empty popsicle stick, but my students are like Jolly Ranchers: sweet, surprising, tart, fun, colorful. I hate to see any of them go. Cutting back is going to break my heart and some of their hearts as well. :(

Another thing that has been stressing me out is not having the time that I would like to write. I keep telling myself that the kids will be back in school in a week and there will be time. But you try telling myself something; it just doesn't listen; it's like talking to a brick wall. So, first novel (whom I love) you will have to wait. Next novel (whose essence I am smitten with) you will have to be patient.

Then my parents went and gave me apricots. Okay, I really am grateful, but apricots don't can themselves, you know. And finding time for a little bit of enjoyment or relaxation--think again!
My hubby and I went to see HP7 and I couldn't even enjoy it because I kept thinking of the apricots and my students and the Cinder and Ella proof that I need to go through.

So here's me begging you to share with me what stresses you out. Please, it will make me feel better. Not that it makes me happy to see others stressed; sometimes you just need to feel understood.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Few Recent Reads

The last two weekends have provided the opportunity to read quite a bit.  And it has been a treat.  Here are a few of the books that I've thoroughly enjoyed.  (Why does thoroughly have to be so darn hard to spell?)

 I have some new favorite authors and Hilary McKay is one of them.  I LOVED this book.  It reminded me so much of what it was to grow up with several siblings and how strong those relationships can be and all of the good times I've had with my brother and sisters.  The story was lovely and I'm smitten with the characters.  Lucky for me, there is a book for each sibling so I'll get to spend some more time with the Casson children.  Oh, and their parents?  HILARIOUS.
 I read several of these books in the Gail Carson Levine "Princess Tales" series, but this is my favorite.  It's just a lot of fun.
And this book...I don't even know where to start.  It was absolutely stunning.  I recently saw the movie "The Help" and let's just say that Nory Ryan's Song took me to another place and time that I'm grateful I was not a part of.  I cried in a few spots, which for me, means that I felt this story so deeply and suffered along with the characters.  But I liked that it ended with so much hope for sweet little Nory.  Ah, historical fiction, you puzzle me.  I want so much for these people to be real.  But I'm grateful for the things you teach me, real or not.

What books make you cry?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

And the Winner is...

The winner of the summer giveaway hop is Marci.  Congratulations!!

I enjoyed reading about your favorite reading spots and pictured each of you under a tree or on your porch or at the beach or in your favorite chair.  Here is to reading!!  And maybe it was a mistake asking your favorite summer reads because I now I have more to add to my list of books I want to read.  Thank you for entering.  Watch for another giveaway in September and for more giveaways as the countdown to the release of Cinder and Ella begins.

Monday, August 1, 2011

How Would You Like to Win a Copy of Cinder and Ella?



The pictures say it all.  It's a Summer Giveaway Hop from August 1st-7th.  That means you can hop around and enter hundreds of book giveaways.  Cool, huh?

I am giving away one ARC of Cinder and Ella for this Giveaway Hop. 

What you have to do to enter:  Leave a comment telling me about the best book you've read this summer or where your favorite reading spot is.  You can earn an additional entry if you tweet about the giveaway hop.  You can also earn an entry if you follow this blog and one more if you like my facebook page.  Just be sure to tell me in your comment because if I have to go find you or do math I might get grumpy.
There are lots of other fantastic giveaways.  For a complete list, go here.

Good Luck!