Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Lust List

After I saw a couple of drool-inducing products for the first time in the last week, I got to thinking. Isn't there some validity to writing down your dreams? Motivational posters and all that, right? So, perhaps if I create a fully-annotated list of things I'd like to have, the Powers-That-Be/Fates/God-or-Goddess-of-your-Choosing/Crazy-Stalker-Fans-Who-Want-to-Anonymously-Fulfill-My-Heart's-Desire-For-Nothing-in-Return/or possibly Me, would have an easier time procuring those items for me.

So without further ado, (how much more ado could she possibly muster, you are no doubt wondering...) I present, THE LUST LIST.

1. Twelve South has the most nerdtastic, lust-worthy protective cover for the MacBook in the history of nerdiness. I could just melt into a puddle of goo and trickle down the nearest drain I want this thing so bad. And each one is different! Could you die? I could die.

2. Mini Countryman is the new All-Wheel Drive version of the quirky little bulldog of the road, the Mini Cooper. I used to drive one (an S, actually, she said
with no small amount of shameless braggery), and the car's biggest downfall was it's unparalleled ability to suck in the snow. This is a big problem when you live in the icy north, as I do (no, I don't know why, thank you for asking). I used to do 360s on freeway on-ramps. All-Wheel Drive makes my little speed machine of the past into a viable possibility for my speed machine of the future.

4. New work shoes from Crocs because in the end, I'm a simple soul, and I'd just like some shoes without the strap hacked off and treads worn to a smooth surface something like a portable upside-down ice rink. And red is purrrdy.

5. "Someday he'll come along, the man I love...and he'll be [Indiana Jones] the man I love...and when he comes my way, I'll do [whatever it takes] to make him stay." Indy will forever hold a place in my heart and on my list of freebies (thank you, honey, and you know I'll do the same for you and Dark Angel). I don't mean Harrison Ford, either--although, frankly, if he offered I'd be hard pressed to say no to him--I mean the scruffy, smirky, fedora-wearing archeology professor that makes my heart go pitter-pat. I love you, Indy. *blows kisses*

There. I've clearly done my part.

- Liz

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Random Acts of Bravery

Today, I committed random acts of bravery. Well, for a writer anyway. See, as a breed, we are largely introverted (though general charming when you get to know us) and writing is by nature a solitary endeavor. To be fair, the very idea of querying was terrifying to me at first, because it meant I had to seek someone else's approval [rejection].

But, I digress. To the list.

1. I did my first "pitch." It wasn't in person, but it was still an experience worth having. The competition is stiff, but we should have answers tomorrow.

2. I internet stalked a number of my fellow pitchers. Why? Because they, like me, are writing contemporary YA, or Women's Fiction, and in the current market [all fantasy/paranormal all the time], it was nice to know I wasn't the only square peg.

3. My stalking resulted in some new e-mail contacts, a couple new followers at Twitter and some fun new blogs to haunt.

4. I wrote a synopsis, which most every writer I have ever met/read about/can imagine dreads the way most people dread a root canal.

5. I sent out four queries. My hands didn't even shake when I hit send this time. [Personal growth!]

So, now we're back to our regularly scheduled program of waiting, obsessively checking my e-mail and trying to tamp down hope. Now if THAT was a career path, I would be the frickin' CEO in no time.

- Liz

image courtesy of:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Maestro, If You Please...

With credit where it is due, (Thank you, Tiffany, of fame) I am way excited to present you all with my first playlist.

These are ten songs that always make me think of my main characters in A Game of Risk, and that helped inspire me as I was writing. I hope you enjoy.

Music Playlist at

The Weight of One Million Words

A while ago, I read that a writer has to write one million words before he is any good. I've been mulling it over in mind for some time, and the more I've mulled, the more it makes sense. And the more awkward the word mull feels in my mouth, but that's hardly the point.

The point is, that writing takes practice. Just like doing a pirouette, or shooting freethrows, or starting an IV on a dehydrated patient. (I can do two of those things, wanna guess which?) The strangest part is that you get better with practice. Even without a beta reader, a professional editor, an agent or even an single other living soul reading your words, you get better. Adding any of the above to your writing experience just makes the practice all that more effective.

Which brings us back to the one million words. It's not that you can write one million words and your one million and first will be the beginning of the next great American novel. Rather, you should use your one million words to go through your growing pains as a writer. Write a short story, a novel, a poem and then let someone else read it. (That's the worst part for me--oh the agony of letting someone I know read a WORD I've written, much less a novel.) Then, let them tell you what they think. And nod, and smile and say "Thank you," and get away as quickly as possible so no one will see you cry.

And then, when you've dried your tears, go back and read your own words with someone else's thoughts in your head and see how much of it is true. The reality? Most of it is probably true. The good and the bad.

You have to do this again and again and again until you stop making the mistakes you made the first time. Then, you start making all new ones. More complicated ones. And you learn and you grow and you write and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. And sometimes you cry, and sometimes you have a little fit wherein you tell yourself that you are a worthless hack and why did you ever think you could write in the first place.

And then you go back and you write word number 301,753. You keep going.

So, I thought to myself, how many words have I written? And, yes, before you ask, I do understand metaphor, thank you. Well, a little OCD dedication to my documents file assures me that I have somewhere the neighborhood of 1,070,000 words on my hard drive. Which is to say nothing of all the handwritten words I threw away in a fit of pique when I was in college.

What that means, however, is that I am just beginning as a writer. I've suffered some of the growing pains that I needed to suffer. I'll need to suffer a few more. But there is some consolation in knowing that I haven't been slacking in the practice department.

And maybe just maybe, I've got enough words under my belt that I can start to do the serious work of writing. What it definitely tells me is that this is not just a passing fancy of mine. I love this work, and I will keep doing it even if I only do it for myself.

I didn't write over a million words of fiction because it's fun. (Although I've had a hell of a lot of fun doing most of it, I can't lie.) I did it because I love it and I can't wait to see what the next million words will bring me.

- Liz

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Contest Entry

Dear Caitlin,

I have to go to your funeral today. I don’t even want to go, but everyone’s going to be there and they’re all going to cry over you. You’re on the news, did you know that? The reporters keep calling it a great tragedy. I bet they’re even going to be there today. Jenny R. and Jenny H. have been crying non-stop since you died, and you just know they’re going to be all waterproof mascara dressed in black bullshit today.

Everyone keeps asking me if I’m okay, and I have to lie and say that I am. Because that’s what you do when you’re the best friend. It’s what you would have had to do. But I’m not okay. You ruined everything, Cait, and I’m never going to forgive you.

You were always a copycat. Always. You couldn’t let me have anything for myself. It always had to be a competition, which was complete BS! You were already better than me. You were prettier and smarter and more popular. But you still couldn’t let me have anything. You already had everything. EVERYTHING!

You were already skinny, but when I started losing weight, you just had to show off. You always had to be better than me. I fucking hated that.

You know what the worst part is? They’re going to turn you into some kind of saint now. There’s going to be two pages about you in the yearbook, at least. Like all of a sudden everyone loved you. Like you weren’t a bitch to 90% of them. Like they didn’t all call you a slut in the bathroom. Just because you died. Like that changes anything.

Just so you know, the day after you died, Brian Fischer kissed me. He told me that he’d always liked me, but everyone knew that you liked him so he couldn’t say anything. You even had to keep Brian from me.

I’m going to tell you a secret, Cait. This is the last secret I’ll ever tell you, and for once, I know you won’t tell anyone else. Not even Jenny R. Here it is: It was supposed to be me. I was supposed to die and make everyone love me. I was going to be the girl in the yearbook with the two-page spread. I wanted it to be me. I wanted to have something that you could never have, but you took that from me, too. You’re such a bitch. Even dead you’re a bitch.

You were already skinny. You didn’t need to lose any weight. But you had to make sure that you lost five more pounds than me. So your heart fails and I’m still fat. How is that fair?

I hate you, Caitlin. I really hate you. But I fucking miss you, too.

Love You,


Of Good News, Bad Days, and The Underpants of Confidence

My life is a pendulum swinging from elation to misery and every shade of emotion in between. This is not a surprise to any human, but I'm feeling it acutely in my writing life right now.

Good news! As you may have seen on Twitter or Facebook, I not only entered Nathan Bransford's Contest, I was lucky enough to get Honorable Mention! That was a lovely surprise, I must say, and thanks to Kristan Hoffman of #YAlitchat for bringing it to my attention. I was oblivious, and might have never thought to check back. If you're interested in reading the letter that got the Mention, I'm going to post it as a separate blog entry when I'm done here.

Bad news. The agent I fell in love with back in December sent me a form rejection. So, apparently my crush was meant to be unrequited. *sigh*

So, I was already feeling pretty low this morning as I was starting a new quest for potential agents when I realized something. I had a big fat mistake in the second paragraph of my query letter. (Especially painful considering the first paragraph is one sentence.) I've already sent this query out to at least three agents with the mistake in it, and it was no surprise to get a rejection from one of them already. It happened after a furious period of revising, during which I moved a sentence, but somehow left half of it behind in the previous paragraph. So the second sentence of my big story paragraph is a fragment AND it gets repeated down the road. I am feeling like the world's biggest idiot. And, unfortunately, there is just no coming back from it. I can't resubmit the query. I can't even send a note of apology and beg for mercy because part of the point of queries is to look professional.

You know that phrase, you never get a second chance to make a first impression? Well, yeah, that's the problem. Any action I take from this point is only going to reinforce the unprofessional first impression I've already given.

How did this happen? I didn't read through it before sending it off. I was so sure the beginning was solid, I just left it alone. Lesson learned: there is always time for patience.

In light of this fantastic display of idiocy, I knew I was going to need something to improve my day. So, I turned to my most trusted method of ensuring a turn-around: The Underpants of Confidence.

Perhaps I'm the only one whose mood can be affected by her undergarments, but I doubt it. Most women probably have some triage system for underwear: ones no one can see, ones everyone should see, ones only one other person should see, ones I will only wear if everything else is in the wash... I have a few favored panties that fit great, don't give me a wedgie and fit under my jeans. These are The Underpants of Confidence.

I knew today, the U of C's wouldn't be enough, so I started with a shower and freshly shaved legs. Then, it was jeans straight out of the dryer, and a shirt that I fully intend to mourn for a year after its demise. I even picked uber comfy socks. This is my version of the power suit.

Instantly in a better frame of mind, I was ready to attack the day. And guess what. It worked!

More good news! I got a request for a partial manuscript today! Wahoo! The Underpants have worked their magic once again!

Today's Lesson:
Patience and more careful attention.

Today's Recommendation:
Identify and revere your own Underpants of Confidence. They are magic.

- Liz

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Where No Man Has Gone Before...Or Since

We’re taking a break from talking about writing this week, because I simply cannot pass up the opportunity to share this with you.

So, my kiddo is a bit quirky. Always has been. Lately, the easiest way to get him to nap is to curl up on our bed with him and watch an episode of the classic televisions series Star Trek. (It's unhealthy how much I love my Roku player). I know, it’s probably a little cruel to be turning him into a nerd at the tender age of two, but let’s face it--it was just a question of when, not if he would become a nerd. A well-rounded nerd of all subjects, I hope--nay, insist--but nonetheless.

(P.S. That pic isn't me, it's just a reasonable facsimile of my state while experiencing the video below).

The point is, I’ve watched a lot of Star Trek lately, in all its campy glory. I used to watch the show as a kid (no, not when it originally aired, thank you very much), and although I remember a lot of the episodes from Seasons 2 & 3, I can honestly say I had blocked most of Season 1. It's been an entertaining trip down memory lane, believe me. The costuming is reminiscent of a high school play, the stage makeup is orange and applied with a trowel, and the acting...well, okay, the acting stayed about the same for the whole run of the show.

A few days ago, I was lucky enough to see the second episode of the season, entitled Charlie X. Charlie is a mysteriously orphaned boy found on a planet and beamed aboard the Enterprise for transport to some space port, or something, I don’t recall the details. What matters is the glorious moment in which Captain James T. Kirk takes the wayward adolescent under his wing in order to teach him the ways of being a man. This kind of lesson can only be taught in a gym. Wearing bright red wrestling tights and no shirt.

If you think I’m making this up, please take a few moments to watch this scene.

There are a few notable details for me.

  1. Everyone is wearing red. I have no idea why.
  2. The women are apparently restricted to performing second-rate gymnastics in a narrow hallway. Perhaps the fear of smacking their extremities on the ceiling or the walls elevated their heart rates into the aerobic range when the cartwheels alone couldn’t do the job.
  3. The crew of the Enterprise studied Stage Fighting at theater camp in order to add a bit of flavor to their workouts.
  4. The props left behind from this show were lucky enough to find a second life in the 1990s when American Gladiators hit the airwaves.
  5. Captain Kirk’s athletic prowess is best expressed by his ability to take a punch. “You gotta slap the floor, Charlie.”
  6. The big Redshirt loitering near the wall during Kirk’s teaching moment is apparently trying to build up his biceps by pulling on some coat hooks. Which, I suppose is fair enough considering that Kirk couldn’t even be bothered to wear a shirt, much less hang it on the hooks provided on the walls.

The tragic part about this clip from is that it cuts off too early. Here’s why: After Charlie uses his amazing mental powers to make Ensign Ricky disappear, Kirk takes a moment to give him a stern look in extreme close-up before...well, actually, that’s about all he does. A sixteen-year-old boy just vaporized one of Kirk’s crew, and he looks inscrutable. After a moment, he casually walks to the intercom and calls security, informing Charlie in a dispassionate way that he’ll be confining the boy to his quarters. For a show that made famous the line, “Dammit, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a (fill in the blank noun here) ,” this is a shocking underreaction.

Maybe the scriptwriter originally had some great scenery-chewing lines that William Shatner could really sink his teeth into, but the director was so overwhelmed by the majesty of the physical fitness he’d just delivered to his audience he knew they would be numb to any emotional outburst. Maybe there was some subtext that was lost on me, I don’t know. Whatever the reason, Kirk’s lack of reaction is the maraschino cherry on top of the visual sundae that is this scene.

With apologies to James Lileks, I just had to share this with you all. Don’t worry, I have no intention of starting a series of Star Trek related blogs. This scene caught my fancy and I am now enriching your lives with it.

In case you decide to bring it to your next book club meeting, church potluck, or Pampered Chef party, I’ll leave you with a few discussion questions:

  1. Was fitness so primitive fifty years ago, that this--THIS--was the great vision of the future? This was the best that the minds behind matter transporters and the predecessors to the cell phone could come up with? Giant Q-tip fighting behind a chain link fence and cartwheels so uninspired that they didn’t even disrupt the towering beehives of the female crew members?
  2. Was the shirtless Shatner supposed to be titillating?

And if you’re really bored, the rest of the episode is available on youtube. The basket-weave hair-do would be worth the time spent, trust me.

Live long and prosper.

- Liz

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Contests! Getcher Contests Here!

Salaam and good evening to you, worthy friends....

Actually, Happy New Year! I’ve decided to refer to 2009 as my rebuilding year. I learned A LOT, wrote A LOT, started building my presence on-line and didn’t really get very far in my Quest for the Holy Publication Grail. But, you know what? I actually did, because everything I did and learned brought me a step closer to where I want to be.

On the news front, I have finished revisions on A Game of Risk and with just a bit more tweaking I can’t wait to put it back in the big bad world and query, query, query! It’s probably bad luck to be as hopeful as I feel right now, but it would probably be worse luck to be as pessimistic as I could be.

Elsewhere in the literary world, I have found a number of contests that I’m going to enter, and I thought I’d share them here. If any of you are writers, please jump on in the competition ring, the water’s fine! If you’re not writers, prepare to get out your pompons and cheer for anyone you know who’s entering. So here’s the breakdown:

First, Nathan Brandsford, super blogging agent at large for the Curtis Brown Agency is hosting his first ever contest. Check it out at: All you have to do is write a letter or diary entry from the perspective of a teenager. See his blog for full details.

Next, Georgia McBride announced the first steps to take if you want to participate in the Sourcebooks Fire launch contest. This is for Young Adult writers as well, and requires membership in the #YAlitchat Ning community--which you should totally join anyway if you’re interested in Young Adult. Go to:

Next, Mary Kole of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency is sponsoring a contest at (another great blog to follow if you’re a children’s literature writer of any type). The contest is for the first 500 words of a novel, and has very specific rules. One of those rules is to spread the word by posting contest info in at least two places on the web. So, here’s one of mine! Go to for full details!

So, that, my dear readers, is the roundup. I’m planning to enter all three right now, so stay tuned for results.

Until next time, I bid you all a fond farewell.

- Liz