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