Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Read This: Firefly Cloak by Sheri Reynolds

I love a book that you blaze through in one day and weep when it's over. Both because it's poignant, beautiful and true, and because the writing humbles you with its exquisiteness.

Firefly Cloak by Sheri Reynolds is such a book.

I've been a fan of Ms. Reynolds since her Oprah bout with Rapture of Canaan. She's one of my favorite authors, and her latest novel does not disappoint. Is it too embarrassing to admit that one of the reasons I became a writer is because of her work?

I play a little game with the novels on my must-read list. I don't read reviews or even back-page summaries. I simply open the book, start at page one, and let the story unfold without a hint of what's to come.

I highly recommend Firefly Cloak, and I recommend the method, which is why I won't reveal any secrets about the plot.

Just read it.

Who's on your must-read list? Do you have any quirky tics in the way you approach a book? (Please tell me you don't read the last page first - total sacrilege.)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Pretty Princess

My dog, Rosie the Chihuahua, smiling in her party gear. Because sometimes you just need a pink feather boa.

There, now don't you feel better? Posted by Picasa

Ask the Author: How do I find an Agent?

One of the most frequent questions I receive as an author is where to find the all-elusive agent. There are a slew of books and articles that will tell you all sorts of things, but I'll share my best advice in a nutshell.

Go to a writers' conference where they host agents and editors and get thyself an appointment.

I met my agent, the fabulous Marcy Posner of Sterling Lord Literistic, at the Texas Writers' League Agents' Conference. She wasn't even my scheduled agent appointment, but I happened to hear her speak on a panel and I liked what she had to say. When we chatted in the hall afterward, I pitched her POTTER SPRINGS. Then, I heard those magical four words, "Send it to me."

Actually, I had several agents request my manuscript that weekend, but I ended up going with Marcy because I thought we'd work the best together. I like Marcy because she's smart, tough, and honest. Plus she's a total advocate for my writing, which is essential in a great agent. The fact she knows just about everyone in the biz doesn't hurt things either.

As a board member for the Texas Writers' League, I'm headed back to Austin this year for that same conference, and they've already booked an impressive roster of agents. Check it out here.

Where to find a conference in your area? Try Google, look in the back of writers' magazines, ask local writing groups. Make sure you have a finished product before you pitch, but even if your work is still in progress, conferences can be a great way to learn and start networking.

In fact, if you're in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, there's a great conference this weekend hosted by the Trinity Writers' Workshop. They're flying in agents and editors, as well as pubbed authors to help shed a little light on this crazy business.

I'll be there (insert shameless plug here), teaching a workshop called "The Art of Rewriting: From Brain Storm to Book Deal." Check it out, drop by and say howdy.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Brushes with Fame

I just returned from a holiday weekend in California to visit my sister's family - she of the seven adorable children (but that's another blog) - and I'm excited to report:
I flew on a plane with Johnny Knoxville.

The cooler thing to say, I suppose, would be, "Oh, Johnny Knoxville and I flew out to L.A. the other day for the weekend...", but my husband might have issues with that.

Here's the scoop.

Johnny sat in first class, looking entirely like himself. Faux messy hair, big aviators, shlumpy clothes. I nearly had apoplexy trying to get my family to look at him without appearing like gawkers.

We might have failed.

The whole plane was buzzing about it, and at luggage pick up, Johnny (see how we're on a first name basis? We're like, thisclose) was surrounded by fans, shaking hands, signing autographs. Not me, though. I figured the more sophisticated choice was to hang back and whisper madly with my little sister while we pretended not to stare.

My husband was thrilled when, in a show of true Knoxvilleism, Johnny sucker punched a nearby fan in the groin.

Talk about class.

Have you had any celebrity encounters? How'd you hold up under pressure?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

When Kimberly Willis Holt Comes To Town...

A public service announcement: one of my favorite writers is coming to Fort Worth, and I'm tickled to get to see her again. Her name is Kimberly Willis Holt, she of the National Book Award winning fame. Her young adult novel When Zachary Beaver Came To Town not only won that coveted prize, but was made into a film. I first met Kimberly while living in Amarillo, and she's not only talented, but is a genuinely kind person.

Kimberly's currently on tour with her first children's picture book (the rest are YA), Waiting for Gregory, and she'll be in the DFW area at Brystone Children's Books in Watauga, TX, from 4-6 p.m. today (April 11th). If you're in the area, swing by and meet somebody superfamous and supertalented. Grab some of her books to get signed, too - they're all amazing.

Speaking of which, what are some unforgettable children's books you love?

Some of my childhood favorites include Where the Red Fern Grows, Charlotte's Web, The Little Princess, Sideways Stories From Wayside School, A Wrinkle in Time, the Little House on the Prairie series, and (caution: scandalous girl coming-of-age story) Are You There God it's Me, Margaret.