Monday, October 23, 2017


Day 2: 20% of Authoress

To play:

Place these blog events in the order in which they occurred.  Post your answer in the comments section.  In order to be considered a viable entry, your blog comment needs to contain a completed list of all 10 items.

(Hint: A quick search on the blog will give you the information you need!)

IMPORTANT:  If you want to be eligible for the drawing for prizes, be sure to fill out the Rafflecopter!  There are options for extra entries to increase your odds of winning, so go for it!

ALSO IMPORTANT: You don't have to play the game to enter!  Simply go to Rafflecopter and choose another option for entering.












PRIZES OFFERED:  4 1-chapter critiques.  Scroll through Rafflecopter to see who they're from!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 20, 2017

Contest #1: WRITE HER BIO - Submissions Now Open!

Welcome to the Authoress Reveal series of contests!  Submissions for Contest #1 are now open.

The above picture, currently completely hidden, is broken into 5 pieces.  At the close of each contest, 1 piece of the picture will be revealed.  Reveal Day -- November 1 -- will include the final photo.  No more hiding behind hats!

Review the submission guidelines for Write Her Bio HERE.

Enter HERE.

Two winning entries (of my choice) will each receive a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card.  (Woot!)

Best of luck!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

WHAT ARE THEY UP TO NOW? Featuring Beth Revis

Today's Author: BETH REVIS

Here is Beth's ORIGINAL ENTRY ON THE BLOG (2009 Query Critique with Jodi Meadows).



1. What role did your participation in a Miss Snark's First Victim contest or critique round play in your ultimate success as an author?

The specific contest didn't help me as much as reading all the entries of all the contests that had happened in the months leading up to my querying. It really is true that you can get a better sense of understanding what works and what doesn't by reading lots of different works. Between queries, first pages, and loglines, I found the greatest benefit was participating and learning from judging and commenting on other works than compiling the comments and forming a check list of my own.

2. Tell us what your journey has looked like from your MSFV Success Story until now.

When I wrote ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, all my critique partners believed that the first three chapters were weak....but I was stubborn and holding on. The critique I got confirmed that I really needed to listen to others and bite the bullet. Soon after, that manuscript sold. And everything changed after that. It debuted on the NYT list, it enabled me to become a full time writer, it led to more book deals. I divide my life before the book deal and after.

3. What has been the best part of your experience as an author? What has been most difficult/challenging?

There's a line in Harry Potter where Ginny tells Harry a lesson she learned from her twin brothers: "Anything's possible if you got enough nerve." Getting my book published was a lifelong dream, and once it actually happened, I realized that dreams really can come true. That sounds so cliche, but it's true. It's affected my worldview.

Most difficult, however, was realizing that not everything was a dream. Even after you get to Cloud Nine, edits can be hard, contracts can be cancelled, deals can fall through, reviews can be negative. And at the end of the day, publishing is a business. Writing is craft; publishing is a business.

4. What's your latest offering, and where can we find it?

My most recent book is Star Wars: Rebel Rising. It tells the story of Jyn Erso from the movie Rogue One, following her as a child to her just before the Rebellion breaks her out of jail. If getting a book deal was Cloud Nine, writing for Star Wars was Cloud Ten--it was such an amazing experience!

5. Please leave us with some words of wisdom for all aspiring authors.

There is no one right way to write. Once I let go of the idea that if I just did "X," I'd get the book right, and accepted instead that I had to find my own process for my own story, everything clicked far better.

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE was the book that changed my life, but it was also the book I almost quit before. I'd written ten manuscripts over the course of a decade and compiled about a thousand agent rejections. I'd come close to the finish line, but never crossed it. I had decided enough of my life had been thrown away at the impossible. But I had one last idea, one last story to tell, and if I'd given up before it, I never would have seen my dreams come true.

Would you like a signed copy? Contact my local indie Malaprops.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Early Info: Submissions for the Write Her Bio Contest!

Here it is--a chance to let your creativity shine!

You don't know my name or anything about my personal life, aside from what I've chosen to share on the blog over the years.  Take what you know--and use your writerly imagination for the rest--and come up with a brief author bio for me.  Think about what you might read on a jacket flap or on an author's web site or blog--a few sentences that make it sound like you actually know everything about me.

The approach is your choice!  You can be humorous, go for something completely wacky, or do your best to try to get as close as possible to the truth.


Henrietta Toothsome spends most of her time spelunking in abandoned mines on her 4000-acre property in South Dakota.  When above ground, she enjoys writing stories while watching reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond.  She has won three local awards for her short stories, as well as a blue ribbon for the largest spaghetti squash at last year's Harvest Fair.  Her husband and three grown children live in the basement.

(Okay, not really.  I'll be more impressed if you write something that's actually believable.)

Here are the guidelines*:

  • Submissions will open at noon EDT on Friday, October 20, and will close at noon EDT on Monday, October 23.
  • Your "authoress bio" should be no more than 120 words in length.
  • Come up with a FULL NAME for me!
  • Please go HERE to submit your entry.
  • This is not a lottery; I will read all the entries and choose my favorites.
  • Two winners will each receive a Barnes and Noble e-gift card!

Any questions?  Please leave them in the comment box below!

*Those of you who actually do know me are not eligible for this contest. You know who you are. :)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

AUTHORESS REVEAL: The Official Schedule of Jollity

I've invited you all to celebrate my taking-off of the perpetual hat, so I thought it might be a good idea to share what I've got planned.  

Without further ado, here is the official schedule!

OCTOBER 20:  Submission Day for Contest 1: WRITE HER BIO (details to post on the 16th)
OCTOBER 27:  Contest 4 - 2 TRUTHS AND A LIE
OCTOBER 30:  Contest 5 - TRUE OR FALSE

Points of interest:
  • The completion of each contest will reveal 1/5 of my photo.  On November 1, you'll see the whole thing.  
  • Each contest will have its own offering of fabulously bookish and writerly prizes!  I will post the full prize list next week.
  • Contest 1 (WRITE HER BIO) is the only submission-based contest.  The other 4 will take place on the blog, in the comment boxes, real time.
  • The winners of Contest 1 will be chosen based on merit; the winners of Contests 2 through 5 will be chosen at random (via Rafflecopter).  All winners will be announced in a separate post on Reveal Day.
Please ask your questions below--I've gone over and over this, but am still worried I may have forgotten some necessary bit of information.

Also?  Thank you so much for your outpouring of enthusiasm, encouragement, and love.  I've done far less blogging and fewer contests this year, and I honestly didn't expect this level of outpouring from the masses.  I FEEL SO BLESSED.

And less terrified to reveal myself.  Thanks for that!  :)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

WHAT ARE THEY UP TO NOW? Featuring Tara Dairman

Today's author:  TARA DAIRMAN

Here is Tara's ORIGINAL ENTRY ON THE BLOG (2011 Secret Agent Contest, in which her agent was not the judge, but was lurking and requested pages!), and her 2011 BAKER'S DOZEN ENTRY (from which she received multiple offers of representation).



1. What role did your participation in a Miss Snark's First Victim contest or critique round play in your ultimate success as an author?

It played a huge role! I first entered a Secret Agent contest in October of 2011; the judging agent picked my middle-grade entry (GLADYS GATSBY TAKES THE CAKE) as a runner-up, but it turned out that another agent was lurking and reading the entries and requested a query and pages from me. It was Ammi-Joan Paquette at Erin Murphy Literary Agency, which is normally closed to unsolicited queries, so I was pretty excited to get this second request.

Then, two months later, I got into the annual Bakers Dozen agent auction. The agent who "won" my manuscript ended up offering rep, as did multiple others. In the end, Joan was the best fit for me and I signed with her. She's still my agent!

2. Tell us what your journey has looked like from your MSFV Success Story until now.

Joan sold my debut MG--which ended up being retitled ALL FOUR STARS--to Putnam shortly after I signed with her, and it came out in 2014. I'm still represented by Joan, Gladys's story turned into a three-book series, and I just published my fourth MG novel, THE GREAT HIBERNATION, with Wendy Lamb Books/Random House...and the whole journey started right here on this blog. :)

3. What has been the best part of your experience as an author? What has been most difficult/challenging?

There are so many best parts. Writing the words "The End" after slogging through a difficult draft. Getting an enthusiastic reaction from critique partners, or my agent or editor, the first time they read a new manuscript of mine. Hearing from young readers who've connected with one of my books. My writing tends to focus on humor and plot, and I never thought I'd be the kind of author kids said changed their lives...but I actually hear regularly from kids who have been inspired by my books to cook or to try a new cuisine they'd never tasted before, which is SO COOL.

The most difficult...oh, it's the same as ever: Getting through that first draft. Knowing it's terrible, but having the confidence that, eventually, I'll make it good. I still struggle with this, several books after my debut.

4. What's your latest offering, and where can we find it?

My newest book (just out September 12!) is THE GREAT HIBERNATION (Wendy Lamb Books/Random House). You can find it in hardcover or as an e-book wherever books are sold. It's a humorous, quirky MG mystery about a town where all of the adults fall asleep; the kids are left in charge and have to figure out what happened and what they should do about it. It kicks off with the Annual Tasting of the Sacred Bear Liver, features a sheep in snowshoes, and just gets weirder from there. I had an absolute ball working on it. (Well, except for that first draft, which was as painful to write as ever.)

5. Please leave us with some words of wisdom for all aspiring authors.

When you're prepublished, it can feel like you're waiting forever to make it (whether you define "making it" as signing with an agent, getting a book deal, or something else). Looking back, my journey from contest entrant to person-with-a-book-deal was relatively fast, but I remember that it felt torturously slow at the time. What I'm not sure I appreciated then was the freedom that being prepublished gave me to write whatever I wanted, no matter how outlandish the premise seemed. Once you're "in" the industry, there can be some pressure to stay in your lane (whether that's MG, humor, etc.), especially if your early books in that area see some success. So use that prepublished time to be as outlandishly creative as possible. Write the book that ONLY you can write. And have fun with it, if you can.

The Great Hibernation (and other books) by Tara Dairman

Monday, October 9, 2017

Pssst. I'm Nervous.

I've been talking about this--and you've been encouraging me--for quite a while now.  Maybe even, I don't know, two years?  I've talked about it, but I haven't done it.

But this time, it's really going to happen. 

I'm taking off the red hat.

For real.

Of course, I'm going to do my best to make it fun.  With prizes and audience participation.

And, of course, photographs.

Of me.

(That's the terrifying part.)

It's already in the works.  It's happening SOON.

And I wanted you to know.  Because it's going to be a party, and you're invited.

I'm ready to say hello to you as the real me.

Will you be there?


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

WHAT ARE THEY UP TO NOW? Featuring Alice Loweecey

For the next several weeks, I'm going to be posting updates on some of our Success Story Authors (who attribute the turning point of their success, either in whole or in part, to participation on this blog).


Here is Alice's ORIGINAL ENTRY ON THE BLOG from a 2008 Secret Agent Contest.



1. What role did your participation in a Miss Snark's First Victim contest or critique round play in your ultimate success as an author?

After learning how to write a query and beginning to amass what would become nearly 200 rejections, the contest was a huge confidence boost. People gave me feedback in real time, and some of it was positive! The query-go-round is soul-sucking. Hearing from avid readers really helped.

I took that confidence and ran with it. I firmly believe attitude affects presentation, and now I had a more positive attitude.

2. Tell us what your journey has looked like from your Authoress/MSFV Success Story until now.

Long. Hard. Tiring. Exciting. Did I mention hard? While the Secret Agent whose contest I won did not ultimately offer to rep me, I did find an agent about a year later. This agent brokered my debut 3-book deal with Midnight Ink. I proudly say I made my mother cry in public over that: I was performing with Denver and the Mile High Orchestra and waylaid my parents in the lobby before the show to give them the news. Sorry not sorry.

Things change and Midnight Ink dropped me after those three books. I stocked up on coffee and worked my heinie off to sell the series to another publisher. I'm pleased to say that Henery Press picked up the series several months later (that was a nerve-wracking phone call! I'm not a natural salesperson).

Things change, and that agent and I moved in different directions. I negotiated my next contract extension myself (there is NOT enough wine in the world for those phone calls), and recently Henery extended the extension for a total of ten books. I'll be busy for the next few years.

None of these books have any connection to the book that won the Secret Agent contest. After more rewrites, I sold the book to Dark Recesses Press. It was published in 2015 under the title The Redeemers. If any book is close to my heart, it's The Redeemers. It was my learning curve and it contains my favorite villains. I published it under a pen name--Kate Morgan--because my mystery brand is light and funny. I didn't want to scare my mystery fans.

3. What has been the best part of your experience as an author? What has been most difficult/challenging?

The best part is connecting with fans. I meet so many fans at conferences and signings and I love talking with them. I will say that writing "TheEnd" on a WIP is incredibly satisfying.

The most difficult was learning to fly on my own without an agent. That wasn't a learning curve, it was a learning bungee jump into the Niagara Gorge. "I Will Survive" is one of my theme songs now.

The most challenging is keeping a series fresh. If I'm feeling worn out, the characters will too. That's not the way to engage fans. After 3 books with Henery we changed up the series from humorous PI to humorous ghost-hunting PI. The research has been so much fun! I may be making a spirit box next. Buffalo has some famous cemeteries.

4. What's your latest offering, and where can we find it?

My latest mystery is The Clock Strikes Nun. It's everywhere: Amazon, B&N, iTunes, Kobo, Google Play. And please don't forget The Redeemers by "Kate Morgan"!

5. Please leave us with some words of wisdom for all aspiring authors.

Never give up! Never surrender! This is a career. Treat it as one: Work at it. Network, improve your craft, research, write--and READ. Don't neglect reading. It refills the creative well when you get burned out. I reread some of my favorite books when I can't find a new word to add, and those favorites make me remember why I love reading and writing.

The Clock Strikes Nun by Alice Loweecey

Monday, October 2, 2017

Amazing Editing Services For Serious Writers

You may or may not have heard me gush about the fabulous Adam Heine.  He's been my colleague/friend/critique partner for a number of years now, and he wrote this awesome book:

Izanimi's Choice by Adam Heine

Adam amazes me for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that he lives in Thailand and is a foster (and biological) dad to more children than you could possibly imagine living under one roof.

It's thrilling for ALL WRITERS that this man has now hung his official editing shingle.  I can honestly say that I couldn't imagine not sending my work to Adam for critique.  Adam is a master worldbuilder, and he's adept at poking holes in worlds that need shoring up.  (And when I get something right and he praises me? It's like Sudden Christmas.)  His in-line notes are relevant, thoughtful, and infused with his special brand of humor.  (Seriously, I laugh out loud. And everyone needs a bit of out-loud laughter in the midst of reading a critique, yes?)

I recommend him to you with great enthusiasm!  Here are his own words:

I've been writing (professionally) and editing (unprofessionally) for years, but I've recently opened up my services as a professional editor. I love helping authors, whether seasoned novelists or those still on the road to publishing, and I offer several different levels of editing -- including a sample edit so you can try before you buy. My specialty is speculative fiction (all categories), but I'll edit anything.

So if you'd like to have a professional author with an obsessive eye for detail take a look at your novel, I'm your guy. More detailed information can be found here: Editing Services

Friday, September 29, 2017

Friday Fricassee

Dear ones!

Isn't it funny how a shift of color and setting can suddenly make blogging more appealing?  I didn't realize until after I made the changes yesterday how utterly tired I was of that old, brown blog theme.  And yes, I DO sit and stare at shiny-new things after I've created them, so I've done a lot of staring since yesterday.

I so appreciate your positive comments as well!  Some of you mentioned the writing spot and/or view, and what's interesting is that I don't usually write there.  On the day I took the photo (a couple months ago), I was working on an intense revision and needed the space to spread out my worksheets.  Kitchen tables are good for that sort of thing, yes?  I didn't snap the picture with any intention to use it on the blog; I was simply documenting my journey.

You're probably not dying of curiosity, but here is my most usual at-home writing spot:

Disclaimer:  The panoramic setting stretched the room to make it look nigh palatial.  Yes, it's an unusually large bedroom, but it is in no way as big as it appears in this picture!

I like sitting by the windows because I can stare out them while I'm thinking.  And also because I love natural light.  I like putting my feet up on the other chair, and the bathroom is right through that door there.

(And yes, the wardrobe does lead to Narnia.  I know you were wondering.)

I've got other "spots", too.  Most of us have more than one, right?  I've spent a lot of time this past year writing on a pub-height table in our TV room (again, by a window), and I can also be found on the sofa downstairs, legs stretched out, beverage on the coffee table within easy reach.

When the weather's nice, I can sometimes be found on our back porch.  But then this happens:

I often say I wish I had my own little office, but when I think about it, I'm pretty adept at making any space my "office".  Coffee shops work especially well (as long as I've got earbuds).  I've even written during long car trips, but I have to swallow vast amounts of homeopathic motion sickness tablets, or it would get ugly fast.

The bottom line is that I am so very thankful for my laptop.  My stories come with me everywhere.

You may have noticed the red book sitting on the table in my bedroom.  THAT, my friends, is my latest recommendation for you!  Lisa Cron's THE STORY GENIUS boils it down to what REALLY makes a story a story.  And you don't just read it--you work your way through it, following along with little exercises that help you work your way from the tiniest seed of a new idea to a fully realized novel.

No, really.  If you want to take your storytelling to a new level (note: STORYTELLING; not WRITING), I highly recommend this book.

As I've lamented about before, I am not an ideas-flow-like-the-Nile writer.  It's more like waiting-for-giraffes-to-go-into-labor.  Lisa's book is helping me take my New Idea (sparkly! exciting!) and grow it into something viable.  I'm thinking, if I can train myself to take this approach with every itty-bitty idea that crosses my mind, I'll get a better handle on developing these mere thoughts into ACTUAL BOOKS.

Maybe this is what I've needed all along--a concrete way to make flitting thoughts STICK.

Anyway.  It's working for me.

And that's all for today!  My goodness, it's just so freeing to call this place "Authoress".  I may even post more regularly!

(Yes, I know.  If I'm feeling this free being "Authoress", how much freer will I feel when I'm my REAL SELF?  It's coming.  I'm working on it.  I promise.)

Have a glorious weekend--and thanks for being here!