Friday, January 7, 2011

We've Moved!!!

Hey Y'all!

After much discussion and a relaxing few months at home, SF and I have decided to venture forth into 2011 with separate blogs. SF is going to focus her attention on all things picture books and middle grade, while I am going all into young adult (not to mention my surprising new foray into adult non-fiction.)

It's a new year and we are super excited about all that's happening, so come see us at our new blogs! We need some followers ;)

Can't wait to see you on the other side!

Katie and SF

Sunday, October 3, 2010

To Blog or Not to Blog. That is the Question...

SF and I have been discussing a hiatus lately. We have loved every minute of our two years writing this blog, but, more and more, we feel pressured to promote ourselves and not only does this feel artificially cocky sometimes, but we aren't sold on how effective blogging is for our intended audiences. There have been many posts about this lately, including this one by the Shrinking Violets, all of which have caused us to want to re-think our positioning.

And let me say that there is a difference between what I would call destination blogs (like Nathan Bransford's where we found this link), and ours. Nathan's is a go-to source for all things writerly. He is "an authority" on the industry, and he spends a lot of time developing his blog for this purpose. By design, we haven't chosen to have a blog with a purpose--we're just trying to have a little fun out there. Yes, we are both writers, and yes, we like to write ABOUT writing, but we know that our blog is no different in content from hundreds, if not thousands, of others. And we don't want it to fall into the same category as hundreds of blogs that exist soley to promote the writers who own them.

Another issue we are having is that we are building two separate careers, targeting two very different audiences. SF is growing her picture book and MG career, while I am focusing on expanding my YA books, as well as adult non-fiction. Therefore, we have totally different marketing tracks. This is really fun when we chat on the phone and hang out, but when it comes time to blog, leaves us stumped as to how to reach both markets effectively.

We also are working on some marketing and publicity ideas that are much larger and more interesting than what we are currently doing, and would like to continue to find new avenues to reach our target market - avenues that are more personal and creative. (*I'd like to insert that IF I sell my book, and IF SF's idea for marketing it works, I will just explode with joy. She has come up with an incredibly innovative and different idea for launching my book and I am about to bust to do it.)

As for now, we have decided to go on a blogging vacation until 2011. We will still be around reading and commenting on all our bestie's blogs, but our main focus is going to be writing and coming up with creative alternatives to reach our readers. We will see you in 2011 with new websites and good news!


Katie and SF

Monday, September 27, 2010

What's your "Blue Dog"

I don't know how many of you are familiar with the Louisiana artist George Rodrigue.
Here, this will help:

His iconic image of "Blue Dog" is one of those images that stays with you. It's haunting. It's compelling. It's intriguing. There is ONE blue dog, and he appears in every one of George Rodrigue's paintings.

I saw George speak a few years ago, and he talked about working as a painter for years before he painted this image. He had had some success as an artist, but it wasn't until that auspicious day, the day that "Blue Dog" emerged from somewhere deep within his consciousness, that he hit that next level. He became a very successful artist--one whose works sell for huge amounts of money and whose works hang in museums, galleries and collections around the world. The "Blue Dog" image has been compared to the Mona Lisa for having that unique quality that resonates with people. That je ne sais quas. Even George Rodrigue said that he doesn't quite understand why that one image hits an emotional chord with people. But it does.

Katie and I attended the MidSouth SCBWI Conference in Nashville over the weekend. It was a great conference, and we both left feeling energized and inspired. But, on the way home, we started talking about what it takes to make it in the publishing world. We were surrounded by so much incredible talent--both the illustration and writing talent. We heard some incredible first pages read and the illustrations exhibited were AMAZING. I was truly humbled.

But, talent aside, the reality is that many of the people in that room will never be published--that's just statistics! It can be disheartening when you really think about it--you're good enough, but you might not make it.

So what is it that brings a few people to the top? Hard work--yes. Tenacity--yes. Talent--yes. Fearlessly submitting--yes. Revising and rewriting--yes . . . .

But, I think that there has to be something else. A little bit of God, luck, or good karma.

That "Blue Dog" quality.

You have to have that little something extra, some little flair, that gives you that tiny edge. There must be something iconic in your work that sets you apart--whether it's a great character, hook, writing style, or voice. And, you have to be able to recognize those "Blue Dog" moments when you have them and exploit them for all they're worth. Okay--maybe exploit isn't the right word. But, you do have to latch on to those moments of brilliance (I believe EVERYONE has them at some point) and have the good sense to run with them.

So, everyone . . . what's your "Blue Dog"?


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Gellin' in Nashville

I am currently reclined just like this in SF's and my hotel room in Nash Vegas, Tennessee where we are marinating in the fabulous advice found at the SCBWI-Midsouth writers conference - one of our favorites.

SF just went downstairs to the first pages discussion while I prepare to "take a break" and work on the ol' revision. But, ten minutes later and I am still sitting here, so I've decided to blog instead.

(* note: I'm so brain dead that I have had to edit this durn post like 80 times due to all the typos. Hopefully no one here in Nashville will decide to google us and read it.)

Anyhoo, most of you know that SF is our Resident Notetaker Extraordinaire, and you will definitely want to tune in next week for her killer notes, but, in the meantime, here's a glimpse of the kind of notes I take:

  1. Ask Kelly Sonnack where she got those killer gray boots.
  2. Ruta Rimas is a rockstar editor. She LOVES words and analyzes them as if they are separate brushstrokes within a canvas. Very cool and so technical that I love it!
  3. Gigi's is giving away coupons for cupcakes.
  4. Ellen Hopkins thinks about her characters for a month or so before she ever starts writing. Has awesome handout.
  5. Take extra teeth wax on long trips.
  6. Tell organizers to make more coffee.
  7. Rethink the relationship between your MC and her nemesis. I think they are more similar than you previously thought.
  8. Read Crank.
  9. Figure out what motivates every action your MC makes. Make sure it's motivated by her own desires and not yours as the author.

As you can see, I rely totally and completely on SF for the full conference breakdown. I prefer to absorb the genius and gel with it for a while. But this works well for me. By the time I go home, I will be a revision machine (and know where Kelly got those boots).

Later Gators.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Braces Saga Continues...

I just had my bottom brackets removed...

No, "removed" sounds so nice - like removing toe nail polish or makeup. I just had my bottom brackets pried off with pliers and the remaining glue underneath them filed down with an industrial sanding machine. To say that it was scary would be an understatement. I wish I had asked the nurse to take a picture of my face, I think it must have looked like this:

You see, my overbite was so deep that my top two teeth were the only teeth that touched the bottom. My entire upper jaw was being stopped by the lower brackets. This kept my jaw permanently ajar and made eating solid food impossible.

Doc agreed to remove the bottom brackets until the tops moved out enough that I could chew again. We estimate a few months.


On the way home, I had a horrifying discovery. I could feel that my mouth was now touching on one side in the back, but something still felt off. Pulling down my car mirror, I opened my lips with my finger and could see that I had just created THE SAME PROBLEM but on my back molar! Now, still only one tooth makes contact with the bottom and instead of being my front one, it's the back right molar. But like the front problem, it isn't touching the bottom molar like I want it too. Now, it's touching the bottom metal bracket that is attached to the molar.

Remember: Tooth + Metal = OW!

Sigh.... I don't know why I thought getting braces would be easy. My teeth are complicated to say the least. As complicated as the story I am currently reworking. Oddly, the new problem didn't make me want to ditch the braces entirely, it made me so mad that I am determined to figure out a way to eat better, brush better, and mentally will my friggin' jaw to function again in record time. It did nothing but increase my drive to succeed.

This is what I realized I do with my writing. The fact that it's so hard to sell a book does nothing but make me more determined. Why is this? Am I a glutton for punishment? A lover of pain? Maybe I should have been a Navy Seal. I would have probably kicked butt in boot camp.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


SF and I are thrilled today to interview Hilary Wagner, the author of the new classic, NIGHTSHADE CITY!

Let me start by saying that I was not sure what to expect with a book about rats, but boy was I hooked! Hilary is an incredible writer which makes reading about all of her rats fascinating and addictive. I predict this book has a shelf life like none other. It is destined to be a classic.

Hilary has been on a whirlwind blog tour and today we have the privilege of talking to her about all things creepy crawly :)

1. Why rats? Did the story evolve like this or did you consider horses, frogs and bunnies first?

Oh, I always knew it would be rats. I'm a kid at heart and being born just a few days before Halloween, I've always adored the holiday and the books and movies that came with it! In the stories I read and in animated movies, they tend to use rats as creepy background. Nothing more than bony, sinister-looking rats rummaging around a dark alley in the beginning of a movie or in a part of a novel where things really get scary! I decided it was time to make rats the main characters, to explore their world. If you do some investigation, you'll discover they're far more then creepy critters. In fact, they are smarter than most animals as a whole.

2. I love the world you created for them as well as all of their different looks and personalities. Did you have to do any research for this?

Yes indeedy! I love doing research! Who knew I was such a nerdy girl? Okay, I was always nerdy, but I had no idea I was this nerdy! I read several non-fiction books on rats, taking meticulous notes and scoured websites, even got in touch with some known rat experts who were gracious enough to help me. Even still, my rats are very different than the ones that roam the real world. They have "humanish" qualities and not just because I needed them to talk in the book. There is a secret reason for their uniqueness, one that even they have yet to discover.

3. You are so good with these intriguing animals. Do you have plans for any other types of creepy crawlies in future books? Is this going to be a Hilary trademark? :)))

I can't believe you asked me this!! KINGS OF TRILLIUM, Book II in the Nightshade Chronicles, which comes out next year, has some new and intriguing creatures and let's just say my inclination for creepy critters comes back into play and then some. Don't worry though, no talking spiders or anything like that--don't care for spiders, especially talking ones! ;) Also, I'm working on a new animal series, one I'm under lock and key from my publisher not to talk about. I feel all super spy! I'm very excited about it. I'm doing research now and learning about creatures I never even knew existed!

I suppose what I like so much about animal series is having a chance to explore their world--to discover what their lives are like--to try and feel what it would be like to have a long spindly rat's tail or the ability to travel deep under the ground or possibly up into the trees--the sky! To me, animals give us endless possibilities for wonderful storytelling.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog! Your questions were so much fun to answer! Every time I talk about my rats I get all inspired--has me thinking about Book III now! ;)

NIGHTSHADE CITY is available on-line, at Barnes and Noble stores nationwide and Indie Booksellers as well.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Final Thoughts and Painful News


I promised I would tell you the cool advice Robin gave me about plotting, so here it is.

She tries to end each chapter on either an emotional high (+), an emotional low (-), or a cliffhanger (*).

She makes sure she alternates these feelings to always keep her reader on their toes and actually marks them at the end of each chapter with the symbols above.

If she sees too many (-)s, she inserts a (*) or a (+).

COOl, huh? Try it!


I got BRACES yesterday! And, believe it or not, I asked for them for my 40th birthday (coming very soon). I just had no idea how painful they would be! I am in too much agony to really do a bunch of blogging, so I thought I'd leave you with some before and after pictures. These were taken before the insides of my cheeks were ravaged by spiky metal thumbtacks. Not to worry, I've gobbed enough wax inside my mouth to form candles, and I've purchased the mac daddy food processor and all kinds of special toothbrushes too. I plan on being the poster child for perfect brace care. Why? Cuz that's just how you roll when you're 39 and choose to get these things.

Does anyone remember their braces?


Oh. Remind me next time to powder my chin before photos. That sucker is beaming. Ick.

Our Motto

Our Motto