Friday, December 31, 2010

Booklist 2010

This is the first year that I've kept track of all the books I've read for a year. Turns out, I average a book a week. Not bad! I also decided to keep track of all the books I read to my son at bedtime because, heck--I'm reading them, right? Plus, I like the idea of knowing what he's reading. Turns out, he outpaced me, and he's only 3 years old. Hmm. A future voracious reader, methinks.

My List
1. The Key to the Golden Firebird - Maureen Johnson
2. The Gate House - Nelson DeMille
3. Devilisih - Maureen Johnson
4. Interior Desecrations - James Lileks
5. Practical Demonkeeping - Christopher Moore
6. Names My Sisters Call Me - Megan Crane
7. Break - Hannah Moskowitz
8. Going Bovine - Libba Bray
9. Under the Dome - Stephen King
10. Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson
11. Looking for Alaska - John Green
12. Art Geeks & Prom Queens - Alyson Noel
13. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie
14. Sizzling Sixteen - Janet Evanovich
15. Dirty Little Secrets - Cynthia Omololu
16. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
17. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
18. Conversations with the Fat Girl - Liza Palmer
19. My Life As A Doormat - Rene Gutteridge
20. Struts and Frets - Jon Skovron
21. The Sky Is Everywhere - Jandy Nelson
22. The Lion - Nelson DeMille
23. Rules of Attraction - Bret Easton Ellis*
24. English as a Second Language - Megan Crane
25. Magic Under Glass - Jaclyn Dolamore
26. Stray - Rachel Vincent
27. Kissing Kate - Lauren Myracle
28. Just Listen - Sarah Dessen
29. Suite Scarlett - Maureen Johnson
30. Hex Hall - Rachel Hawkins
31. The Charm School - Nelson DeMille
32. A Love Story: Starring My Dead Best Friend - Emily Horner
33. How to Say Goodbye in Robot - Natalie Stadisford
34. Castration Celebration - Jake Wizner
35. If I Stay - Gayle Formann
36. Mommy Knows Worst - James Lileks
37. Paranormalcy - Kiersten White
38. The Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs, and Me, Ruby Oliver - e. lockhart
39. Jellicoe Road - Melina Marchetta
40. Paper Towns - John Green
41. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks - e. lockhart
42. Bloodthirsty - Flynn Meany
43. The Boy Book (a study of habits and behaviors, plus techniques for taming them) - e. lockhart
44. Feeling Sorry for Celia - Jaclyn Moriarty
45. Vegan Virgin Valentine - Carolyn Mackler
46. Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature - Robin Brande
47. What My Mother Doesn't Know - Sonya Sones
48. So Yesterday - Scott Westerfeld
49. If We Kiss - Rachel Vail
50. Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins
51. Liar - Justine Larbalastier
52. The Year of Secret Assignments - Jaclyn Moriarty
53. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins (this one is out of order)

*couldn't finish it because I hated every character in the entire book and felt no sympathy for any of them

My Son's List
1. Harold and the Purple Crayon - Crockett Johnson
2. Harold's Fairy Tale - Crockett Johnson
3. Harold's ABC - Crockett Johnson
4. Harold's Trip to the Sky - Crockett Johnson
5. Harold at the North Pole - Crockett Johnson
6. Harold and the Purple Crayon: Race Car - Liza Baker
7. Harold and the Purple Crayon: Under the Sea - Crockett Johnson
8. Harold and the Purple Crayon: Dinosaur Days - Liza Baker
9. Blue's Perfect Present - Kitty Fross
10. Blue's Sharing Surprise - Tish Rabe
11. Where is Polka Dots? - Samantha Berger
12. Oh, The Places You'll Go - Dr. Seuss
13. The Cat in the Hat - Dr. Seuss
14. Fox in Socks - Dr. Seuss
15. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish - Dr. Seuss
16. Happy Birthday to You - Dr. Seuss
17. Hop on Pop - Dr. Seuss
18. Thidwick the Big Hearted Moose - Dr. Seuss
19. Toot & Puddle: Let It Snow - Holly Hobbie
20. Olivia - Ian Falconer
21. One Monday Morning - Uri Schulevitz
22. Snow - Uri Schulevitz
23. Curious George Rides a Bike - H.A. Rey
24. Cuddle! - Beth Shoshan
25. The Big Tidy Up - Norah Smaridge
26. The Sneeches and Other Stories - Dr. Seuss
27. I Went Walking - Sue Williams
28. Goodnight Gorilla - Peggy Rathman
29. There's a Wocket in My Pocket - Dr. Seuss
30. My First Halloween - Tomie dePaola
31. Morris's Disappearing Bag - Rosemary Wells
32. Noisy Nora - Rosemary Wells
33. Bedtime for Francis - Russell Hoban
34. How the Sun Was Brought Back to the Sky - Mirra Ginsburg
35. Green Eggs and Ham - Dr. Seuss
36. Dr. Seuss's ABC - Dr. Seuss
37. The Poky Little Puppy - Janet Sebring Lowrey
38. Mess Monsters - Beth Shoshan
39. Mess Monsters in the Garden - Beth Shoshan
40. Mess Monsters at Christmas - Beth Shoshan
41. The Going to Bed Book - Sandra Boynton
42. Doggies - Sandra Boynton
43. Pajama Time! - Sandra Boynton
44. Your Personal Penguin - Sandra Boynton
45. Underwear Do's and Don'ts - Todd Parr
46. The Potty Book - For Boys - Alyssa Satin Capucilli
47. Toot and Puddle - Holly Hobbie
48. Toot and Puddle: I'll Be Home for Christmas - Holly Hobbie
49. Curious George's Christmas Countdown - Tish Rabe
50. Olivia: Snow Day - Farrah McDoogle
51. Curious George and the Puppies
52. Curious George Visits the Aquarium
53. Curious George Visits a Chocolate Factory
54. Curious George at the Toy Story
55. Curious George Makes Pancakes
56. Curious George's Dinosaur Discovery

Overall, this was a great year of reading. I found some wonderful stories out there. Can't wait to get my hands on some more debuts for 2011!

Happy Reading!

- Liz

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lessons from the Trenches: Practical Query Tips

Courtesy of Getty Images.
Sure, you can find endless blog posts from Agents, Publishers, Writers both Published and Unpublished on how to query.  What makes a good query letter?  How do I know which agents to query?  What not to do with your query letter.  It's all been covered.  Maybe someday I'll amass you all a nice omnibus list of great query resources.

But, as I have recently become a querying machine, I have a few more practical tips.  Things you might not think of when you're starting out writing your letters.  Things that will make your life easier.


1.  Create a Draft Query:  No matter what e-mail program you use (I use G-mail) there should be a place to save a draft.  Put your query letter in that spot without anyone in the To: field.  Why?  Because e-mail programs sometimes do some quirky formatting stuff, and if you get it all right the first time, you can copy and paste it into a new message whenever you're ready.

2.  File Names:  Save your completed manuscript with a properly formatted cover page (in Word 97/2000 format, please--a.k.a. .doc NEVER EVER EVER .docx).  In the header, put your e-mail address on the left side.  On the right side of the header put TITLE / PAGE NUMBER.  I personally put my last name on the right side as well, but to each his own.  Just make sure you've got contact information available all the time.  Name the file  LastName_ManuscriptTitle_Full Manuscript

3.  Other Essential Files:  From the completed manuscript, create a new document for each of the following:

  • The first 3 chapters
  • The first chapter
  • The first 50 pages
  • The first 5 pages
  • The first 10 pages
4.  The E-mail Ready Format:  When you've got your first chapter (or 10 pages, 3 chapters, whatever you've got the ambition for) saved.  Save it as a new document.  Select all, right click and use Paragraph to single space it.  Then, go through the WHOLE thing and put an extra return after every paragraph.  You absolutely must do this manually, even through Paragraph lets you do it the easy way.  Why?  Because then you can just copy and paste it into the body of an e-mail without making your recipient go blind at the massive block of text.

5.  Memorize This:  If you've saved a longer portion in the E-mail Ready format, memorize where your 1, 3, 5, and 10 page breaks are.

6.  Get the Greeting Right:  When you create a new message for your query, CHANGE THE NAME IN THE SALUTATION TO THE PERSON YOU ARE SENDING IT TO BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE.

7.  Join QueryTracker:  The free version will do you just fine unless you start juggling a lot of projects.  Create a list of agents and keep it updated.  Do your fellow QTers a favor and put in a new comment when you get results from a query.

8.  Check For Yourself:  When you use QueryTracker, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS go to the agency's actual website and double check the submission guidelines.  Follow those.  Even if they're not up-to-date, you can't be faulted for following an agent's own guidelines.

9.  Be A Google Genius:  While on QueryTracker, each agent page has a list of links to the left.  Click on the Google link.  But don't stop there.  Change your search to include "agent interview" and probably get rid of the agency name in the search.  Why?  Agents don't always stay at the same agency, or agency's merge, change names, etc.  Their personalities and tastes don't really change though.  There's gold in them thar interviews.

10.  Save It All for Later:  Create a folder in your e-mail program for Query-related messages.  Whenever you get one--even form rejections--save them to this folder.  Why?  Because if you are querying the same agent in the future, you can look back and see what kind of personalization you wrote the first time.  You can see if you got a form rejection or personalized rejection.  If you got something personalized, you might be able to mention it in the future.  You never know what might be useful.

Will these tips help you get an agent?  Not if your story's not ready.  Not if you're chasing a dead trend (and believe me, I know all about that one).  Not if you query the wrong agents for your book.  But, they will help you be professional, efficient and avoid being a #pubtip on Twitter.

Does anyone else have a great querying tip?  Share it in the comments.

- Liz

Monday, December 13, 2010

The World's Worst Blogger

I've been a querying machine lately.  It seems like all I do is research agents, write letters and save small segments of my books in every imaginable page length, document type and font size.

In the midst of all that querying, I read a lot of agent blogs, submission guidelines, FAQs, Writers' Resources and the like.  A lot of them talk about what kind of on-line presence they like writers to have.  Most of them mention a blog.

Some are kind enough to tell you what they don't like to see in a blog.  Namely:  infrequent posting.


Being the insecure little unpub'd writer that I am, I--of course--interpret this to mean:  "Liz, you don't post enough on your blog, and even if I were interested in offering you representation, one little google search would have me thinking otherwise, because here you are NOT POSTING ON YOUR BLOG."


So, now I wonder--is having a bad blog worse than having no blog?  And if so, what do I do now?

I'll tell you one thing--this place needs a cosmetic overhaul.  I've got blog ennui.  It's ugly here and recent attempts to snapify it up have resulted in making it uglier.  It's like I got an ugly house and covered it in a coat of builder's white.  Blech.

New Year's Resolution perhaps?  Perhaps.

What do you guys think:  Is a bad blog worse than no blog?

- Liz

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I Am Thankful For... (Writer's Edition)

1.  My family
2.  My friends
3.  The fact that my mind remains 
intact even while my body is being insane
4.  Good books
5.  The ability to read them
6.  The fact that my high school 
required me to learn touch-typing
7.  My laptop
8.  The wonderful people I have met 
through blogging and Twitter
9.  My crit group, The Inkslingers
10.  My amazing, incomparable beta readers

What are you thankful for?

- Liz

Monday, November 15, 2010

Interview and Contest Announcement

My very good friend, amazing critique partner, and soon-to-be bigshot published author J.A. Souders did an interview with one of her favorite authors, Rachel Vincent at The Oasis for YA blog.  Go, read a great interview, leave a secret in the comments and get a chance to win the first book in Rachel's Soul Screamers series.  What could be easier?

Click here:  Interview with Rachel Vincent

Happy Monday!

- Liz

Monday, November 8, 2010

What I Did On My Blogger Vacation

I've been gone from here. A lot. As usual, no small part of it has to do with me being an infrequent blogger. But for once, I have a decent reason, too.

In October, I accidentally did my own personal NaNoWriMo.

See, I was plodding along through a decent project that I like, and I'm still fond of, but it just wasn't coming easily. Meanwhile, I was struck with inspiration in one of those bolt-from-the-blue moments.

I have an older project that has made the querying rounds with lots of requests, lots of positive feedback, but no offers. A lot of "great writing, not enough of a hook," "love your characters, love your dialogue, but this plot isn't original enough to be a debut." Which was really hard at the time, because I love those characters, too, and I felt like they weren't getting a fair shake (from their story, not from the agents).

Now, over a year later, I finally had my Aha! moment: I was telling the story from the wrong character's perspective. The idea stayed with me, and all but stalled progress on my other work-in-progress.

"I'll just write a few pages to get the basic premise down," I thought. "Get that first scene out of my head so I can concentrate on the other one."

Twenty-two days and 74,000 words later, it was done.

And it feels right. My wonderful crit partners have already given me the thumbs up and the first 50 pages have been through the ringer in my crit group. If I had a Magic 8 Ball, it would be reading 'All Signs Point to Yes.'

It doesn't feel like a first draft, or even a second, third or fourth. It feels like the final edits on the story I told a long time ago. I guess it just took a year, a leave of absence from work, and that final spark to give me the chance to absorb all the input I got on the query trail last time.

So, I'm not doing NaNo this year. I need a break! My wonderful friend Ryan made me my very own certificate though, for doing my personal NaNo a month early. It's at the top of this post. Pretty awesome right?

Fingers crossed, people! And for those of you doing NaNo--It can be done. Trust me!

- Liz

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lessons From the Weekend

On Saturday, I went to a wedding.  It was a lovely affair, peopled by friends from college.  Lots of fun had by all.

In the course of the evening, I talked to a friend who, when I asked what he was doing now, replied, "Writing, teaching and traveling."  I was struck by his priorities, but first asked about his teaching.  Then, I bucked up and asked about his writing.  He is a screenwriter in L.A. who has an agent, and is currently making the rounds at studios, trying to sell one of his projects.

I decided to take his example and be bold.  I told him about my own writing, my search for an agent, and the poor market for my kind of stories right now.  We talked shop for a while, discussing crit partners and sharing your work and the fact that "writing is rewriting."

He told me in L.A. lots of people say they are writers just because they have an idea.  They've never put a word on paper.  I've heard a lot about this on the Interwebz--that the distinguishing feature of writers is that they write.  But this was the first time I ran into someone who had experience with it firsthand.

I consider myself lucky to be surrounded by such an active community of writers, on Twitter, on my blog and in my critique group.  And I wanted to give all of you props for getting out that and doing it everyday.  Writers write, my friends, and you guys do that.

Write on.

- Liz

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


It's been a while, so I thought I'd give you all a round-up of some of the great stuff I've stumbled onto through Twitter and my own procrastinating. Them interwebs is the greatest thing to EVAH happen to procrastination.

Blogs to read:

Ten Commandments for Working with Your Agent from Steven Laub's blog.

250 Chances from the Storyflip blog. A fine piece on the importance of the first 250 words of your story, and how to screw it up.

No Exceptions from the Aspiring Mama blog, in which Pauline Campos reminds us to keep going even after our delicate little egos have been given the reality smackdown.

Soulless Turns One in which Gail Carriger gives you the blow-by-blow of real life after you make a sale. Fascinating, detailed and invaluable for those of us who obsess about what happens next.

Websites to check out:

BookSwim turns out to be the Netflix of reading, and I don't know how I'm just learning about it's existence. For a very reasonable rate, you can get all kinds of booky goodness delivered to your door, read at your leisure, and return books in pre-paid envelopes. Sounds like a great Christmas gift for the book nerds in your life.

In related news, I also just learned you can enter to win free ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) of books from GoodReads. Like, for free. All you have to do is be a member, and if you're not a member, you should be. No easier way to store the ol' To-Read list. And now that they have an iPhone app, you'll never get to the library or bookstore without your list again.

Video Goodness:

The Dictionary of Jack: Literally in which Jack discusses the abuses of the word literally in the English language.

And speaking of abusing language--here's Hank Green's STOP EMBARRASSING YOURSELF on the vlogbrother's vlog. If you haven't already discovered the wonder of the vlogbrothers, now would be a great time to start!

And then, for a dose of fun: Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake do A History of Rap backed up by The Roots and just plain tickle the hell out of me. Go enjoy! (You'll want speakers)

Find anything good lately? Share it in the comments!

- Liz

Monday, October 4, 2010

More About Me Monday - Stupid Human Tricks Edition

I found an article about things that most people can't do, no matter how hard they try.  (This is the article, if you're interested.)  I've heard these called Stupid Human Tricks, and I think it's because people look so stupid trying to do the things they can't.  Those who can only look marginally stupid.  Or really cool, in the case of my number one stupid human trick.

So here's my list of Stupid Tricks:

1. Raise one eyebrow.  Only the left, but I'm darn good at it.

2. Licking my own elbow.  I practically get a tongue cramp doing it, but I can do it.

3.  Rolling my tongue.  Much to my non-rolling husband's dismay.

4.  Sneeze with my eyes open.  I've only done it while driving and it's not pleasant.

5.  Tickle myself.  On occasion, only along my ribs.  Very embarrassing if done in front of someone else.

6.  Touch my elbow to my opposite shoulder.

7.  While lying on my back, rest on my knees on my shoulders.   I can actually put them on the bed beside me, under my arms.

8.  Pat my head and rub my stomach at the same time.  And the reverse, actually.

What's your stupid human trick?

- Liz

Friday, October 1, 2010

And the Winners Are...

Thanks to everyone who participated in my contest.  Since everyone had a great idea about a way to share these challenged books with at least one other person, everyone who entered had a chance to win.

I assigned everyone a number and used a randomizer to choose my three winners.  They are:

1st prize: Crystal

2nd prize: Stephanie S. Kuehn

3rd prize: Kristan

Congratulations, ladies!

I'll be contacting each winner by e-mail (hopefully I can reach you all!).  Crystal gets first choice of the three books, then Stephanie, and Kristan gets whatever is left.

Hope you all enjoyed this contest!  At the end of the year, I may hold another one to give away some of the great books I've read this year.  Stay tuned!

- Liz

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Book Giveaway Contest UPDATE

In light of a rather spectacular lack of interest in the contest so far, I'm going to suspend choosing winners until Friday (October 2, 2010 for those of you more date-minded folks).  There's still plenty of time to enter!

See yesterday's post for full details, and to enter in the comments.

Rule refresher:

1. To enter, become a follower on the blog, and make a comment on this blog entry. Bonus points if you Tweet or Facebook about it. Just tell me in your comment.

Here's the twist: In the comments, please tell me if you plan to share this banned book with anyone. You could lend to a friend, donate to your library, leave it in the dressing room at a clothing store--the possibilities are endless. Be creative, and be sure to tell me about it.
You can still win, even if you plan to keep the book. Just lend it to a friend, okay?

2. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, I will use go through the entries to look for the best ideas (Hey, it's my blog, I get to be the judge.) The top five will go into a randomizer and the winner will be notified.

3. Wednesday's winner gets to choose from the three books available, Thursday's chooses from the remaining two, and Friday's gets whatever is left.

4. Oh, and I'm not rich, so let's restrict winners to the U.S. and Canada, please!

Spread the word and win a book!  

- Liz

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Losing My Contest Virginity

In Honor of Banned Books Week (September 25, 2010-October 2, 2010) I am holding my very first blog contest! Are you shivering with anticipation or what?

Let's get down to the nitty-gritty.

I have three (count them, 3!) banned or challenged books to give away this week, but it only takes one entry to win.

The prizes:
SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson

Well, we should all know why this one was challenged. If not, please see either of my blog posts (here and here) relating to the recent controversy.


Challenged in 2008 for sexually explicit situations. I've also heard complaints about the teenage characters' use of "bad" language, cigarettes and alcohol.

DEENIE by Judy Blume

Challenged in 2004 and 2005 for passages that deal frankly with masturbation.

(Note: My copy is NOT new. It's got the cover seen to the left and was already old when I obtained it lo those many years ago. Original copyright 1972)

The rules:
1. To enter, become a follower on the blog, and make a comment on this blog entry. Bonus points if you Tweet or Facebook about it. Just tell me in your comment.

Here's the twist: In the comments, please tell me if you plan to share this banned book with anyone. You could lend to a friend, donate to your library, leave it in the dressing room at a clothing store--the possibilities are endless. Be creative, and be sure to tell me about it.

You can still win, even if you plan to keep the book. Just lend it to a friend, okay?

2. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, I will use go through the entries to look for the best ideas (Hey, it's my blog, I get to be the judge.) The top five will go into a randomizer and the winner will be notified.

3. Wednesday's winner gets to choose from the three books available, Thursday's chooses from the remaining two, and Friday's gets whatever is left.

4. Oh, and I'm not rich, so let's restrict winners to the U.S. and Canada, please!

Easy, right?

So, tweet it, blog it, Facebook it--spread the word. Books for free. All you need is a mailing address and some creativity.

Have fun. Even if you don't enter, please read a challenged book this week. It's good for the soul.

- Liz

Sunday, September 19, 2010

And the People who #speakloudly better than me...

Melanie at Reclusive Bibliophile has taken on the impressive task of collecting all of the responses to the attack on Break.  You'll find her list, full of lovely, talented people who made a lot more sense in their responses than I did.  In particular, I'd draw your attention to Myra McEntire, who brings the pain to Mr. Scroggins as one of his fellow Christians in such a dreamy way she almost makes me want to join her church.

Here's the list.  Read, get loud.

- Liz

#SpeakLoudly for SPEAK

This morning, I woke to find Laurie Halse Anderson posting on Twitter about an attack on her book, SPEAK.  Please go here to read her blog about it.  It's got my blood boiling, so I had to do what I can.

The man in question, Dr. Wesley Scoggins, is a associate professor of management at Missouri State University.  In his letter to the editor, he derides all manner of things, but the thrust of his argument is that public schools should not expose children to inappropriate sexual material.  On it's face, it's not a bad argument, but it's the things he's opposed to that have my hackles up.

He wants Kurt Vonnegut's SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE banned as well (and according to the editor's note at the end, it has been), which is a topic I can't even handle right now.  Vonnegut?  VONNEGUT?!  Are you KIDDING me?  But I'll leave that self-evident and focus on Anderson's work.

SPEAK is a beautifully written, honest, often funny, often heartbreaking story of a 15 year-old girl who is universally hated at her high school because she called the cops during an end-of-summer party, thereby ruining everyone's fun.  The narrator, Melinda, take the bulk of the book to reveal that she called the police not because she's a consummate party pooper, but because she was raped at the party.  Melinda is paralyzed with fear and finds herself unable to tell anyone what happened to her.  It takes her an entire year to find the courage while she suffers through depression, withdrawl and social isolation.

SPEAK has helped hundreds, probably thousands, of young women and men find the courage to speak out about their own experiences with sexual assault.  It's an important work that tells teenagers the truth.  It is NOT as, Scoggins suggests, soft-core pornography.

I'm sickened at the thought that his protests will be met with anything but dismissal.  Rape happens.  It happens to Christians, too, Mr. Scoggins.  And it won't go away if we don't talk about it.

Do what you can to fight those who would stop you from reading what you want to read.  If a book offends you, you don't have to read it.  But I don't think it's anyone's right to decide what's available to everyone else.

*Dismounting soapbox.*


- Liz

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Not-So-Secret Shame

Remember this?

Well, that's me watching the replay of the Glee finale last night.

But here's why it's so weird:  I'm not all that invested in the characters on the show.  Don't get me wrong--I enjoy the show.  The characters are not without their charm.  But the reason I watch it is for the singing.

I. Love. Choirs.

And they make me cry.  Almost without fail.

I used to be able to control it.  I used to be in a choir, for God's sake.  A Swing Choir.  Which is a lot like a Show Choir or a Glee Club.  At the time, I would have fought you to the death for saying it was the same.  We wore no sequins!  We sang jazz standards!  We were acapella or accompanied by only one piano!  Our choreography didn't suck!  But, really, it was Show Choir.  And I used to be able to sing all those songs without bawling.

As the years have passed, I have slowly become afflicted with a need to cry whenever I hear beautiful choral music.  In fact, I see my own Swing Choir about once a year at a Christmas performance, and I spend the whole time glassy-eyed and quivery-lipped.  It's pathetic.

I cry in the car all during the Christmas season.  I cry virtually every episode of Glee.  I cannot explain it.

But I do have greater sympathy for that pathetic little Sanjaya fan than I did at the time.

Does Glee make you cry?

- Liz

Friday, September 10, 2010

Open Letters

Dear Friday,

Thursday was not forthcoming with the sleep.  You're going to have to make do with caffeine and sugar.  Starting tonight, we're going on a sleep hygiene diet--promise.


Dear Fall,

I think you know that you and I haven't exactly been friends in the past.  I hate the cold, and really it's all you have to offer.  Your pollen and mold, while I'm sure delightful in an Earth-renewing kind of way, make my eyes itch and my nose drip.  I appreciate the earlier sunsets a little, because my son is much more willing to go to bed when it's dark, but if we could somehow negotiate for a permanent 8:00pm set time, that would be great.  Also, if you want to put a cap on the cold weather in the 60-something range, I would be willing to reconsider my position on you as an all-around harbinger of suck to come.

With Hope,

Dear WIP,

Let's pick up the pace.  We've done a lot more than this in a lot less time before.  You're just embarrassing me.  I'll bring the chocolate chip cookies and the fingers, you bring the work ethic.


Dear Zit on my Forehead,

Can we be done now?


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Twitter Is...


a C.B. radio
a bathroom wall
a confessional
an ad hoc psychiatrist
the hive mind
the lazy man's research tool
a note passed in class
the margins of your notebook
a waiting room
a news channel
a suggestion box
the complaint department
a whisper in the dark
a giggle in Church
the echo off a canyon wall
a booster club

What did I miss?
- Liz

Monday, September 6, 2010

Weekend Roundup

I spent too long trying to
figure out if the two pics were
the same girl.
I was pleasantly surprised by Rachel Hawkins's Hex Hall.  I'm not an enormous paranormal fan, so I was expecting to find it acceptable, but not much more.  Instead, the voice made me drool with envy.  And the plot, while somewhat predictable, threw me a few twists that made me appreciate Hawkins's skill.  All in all, a big thumbs up and I'm looking forward to Demonglass.

My pathetic blogging efforts continue to be sporadic.  I have a great plan for a blog, but I can't find the video I need on-line, so it's not coming quickly.  Grr.

Bender.  HA!
Yesterday's "Futurama" marathon made me so freakin' happy it was a little pathetic.  Personally, I think it's the funniest cartoon on television--and yes, that includes "The Simpsons," "Family Guy," and "South Park."

My work on Chronic (still hate that title) is starting to pick up a bit.  Working on Chapter 8 right now, of an anticipated 24, so a third of the way done, I guess!  How crazy is that?  It does, however, mean I am just about to enter the dreaded Middle of the Book (cue suspenseful chord progression--duh-duh, DUHN!) so prepare for me to hate everything about it and think I'm a big fat hack.

On the query front, things are quiet.  Unfortunately, no news is not usually good news in the agenting world.  Especially when some of the agents in question are "No response means 'No'" people.  Right now, I've only got one lonely partial out in the world, but you just never know which one is going to be The One, right?  Right?  Hello?  Is this thing on?

J.A. Souders - who will probably want to
kill me for putting her picture here
My friend J.A. Souders is having a big ol' contest over at her blog.  She's giving away all kinds of goodies, from books to manuscript critiques and all you have to do is follow her blog.  Easy, peasy!  So go do it.  

So, how was your weekend?

- Liz

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Check Out My Fancy Cover!

I was lucky enough to work with the astonishingly talented Wilette Youkey on a for-fun cover for my project, The Sorbet Guy. 

Check it out!!

So cute, right?!

Wilette is fabulous to work with, quick and obviously wicked good at what she does.  She asked me questions about what my characters look like, any important symbols in the book, and for examples of book covers that I like.  

What we ended up with was this chalkboard-based motif that tickles me no end.

If you want to see more of Wilette's amazing work, or see about using her services for a cover of your own, please check out her website.  You won't regret it.

I'm gonna go gaze at my cover and smile goofily for a while. 

- Liz

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Author Bios, or One More Annoying Thing To Do Before You Get Published

Yesterday, the lovely C.A. Marshall wrote an excellent blog about author bios.  That's the little blurb about the author at the end of the book.  For those of you who don't know, the authors write those themselves.  It's all part of the package that an agent sends out to editors when you are "out on sub."  (A place I'd dearly like to be.)  

Yeah, that's right, after you've already tied yourself in knots over condensing your magnum opus into a two paragraph tease for your query, after you've suffered the slings and arrows of making a three-hundred page epic into a three-page synopsis that somehow manages to retain all the wit and wonder of your manuscript all while telling the cut-and-dry beginning middle and end of your story, you now have to talk about yourself in the third person.  And be interesting.

Good luck with that, right?

As is so often the case, this is a topic that seems to be swirling around the blogosphere of late.  Literary agent Natalie Fischer inaugurated her blog with a post that had a great tip about writing the dreaded Bio. To whit:


           (name) lives in (state) with her (husband/cat/parrot). An avid writer, she spends her days (job), and
           contributes to (blog/magazine/newspaper). (Title) was a (second/first/third) place winner in the (contest).
           (name) is currently hard at work on her next project, (wip).

Okay, so maybe that doesn't seem so hard.  But some of my favorite author bios have some sparkle.  Who doesn't want sparkle?  (Damn you, Twilight for ruining that word for me.)

Cassandra's blog contains some really excellent examples of bios from books she's enjoyed.  I added one of my favorites in her comments section, so I won't bother you all with rewriting that. 

I figured I would try my hand at this bio business.  You know, better be prepared for the inevitable, right?  (Dig me and my power of positive thinking.)  So here we go.

Simple version:

Liz Czukas lives in Wisconsin with her husband, son and cat.  The Sorbet Guy is her first novel.  An avid writer, she spends her days as a nurse and her nights hard at work on her next project, Chronic.

*THUD*  (That was the sound of me putting myself to sleep and hitting my head on the desk.)

Vampire-free Sparkle Version:

Liz Czukas lives outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her husband, son and the world's loudest, fattest cat.  The Sorbet Guy is her first novel.  During the day, she maintains her secret identity as a labor & delivery nurse.  At night, she spends all of her time writing, using the Internet to turn her brain to a well-informed soup and devouring as much pop culture as she can get her hands on.  Liz is hard at work on her next project, Chronic, due out from [fill in publisher here] in 2013.  She loves visitors at, but makes no promises about refreshments.

So which one do you like better?

If any of you writer types want to share your bio in the comments, please do!  Maybe we can all help each other be sparkly sparkle sparks.  *Yurp!*  I think I just made myself throw up in my mouth a little.

- Liz