Cuz We Write: The Remix

Writing Song of the Day: “The Phoenix” by Fall Out Boy

Taken from Forbes.com

This seems vaguely familiar, huh? Don’t adjust your blog roll…wait, is it even still called that?

Anyway, WE’RE BACK! And we’re all changed and new and shiny. We’re ready to get back into this blogging thing and keep you guys up-to-date on our lives because we know you care.

We’re so close to 2014 and with that in mind, we’ve been remixing our lives since last spring. How so? Well, if you really wanna know…

  • We left our former jobs! That’s right, we got out of the classroom and the school building. We’re both working on doctoral degrees (Pam full time at The College of William and Mary, Quita part time at Old Dominion University–shifting to The George Washington University) and Quita took a promotion to work in a school system’s administrative offices. 
  • We changed our eating habits–once again. All summer, and throughout the fall, we tried eating clean. It worked well at first (we both lost around 7-8 pounds) and then we gained all of that weight back. Something wasn’t clicking so we’ve gone back to a low carb lifestyle. So far, so good.
  • AND, did you see our new banner? Yeah, that was created by our second sistah from another mistah, Natalie Henry (recently featured The Huffington Posted for a Hunger Games themed wedding–ahhh!) and it’s perfect for our newly remixed minds.
  • Finally (and this is one we wanted to tell you about a month ago) we rewrote both of our very first novels for NaNoWriMo this year. Pam worked on a new version of WANTS to get to know her characters again and Quita revisited a novel set in the 1960s called CHASING MANSON (a novel adaptation of a screenplay we actually wrote together). 

Whew! That’s a lot of changes…Oh! And another big one–we moved for the SECOND time within four months. We just can’t stay settled. Who knows, in a few months we may be updating you all on more changes.

So there you have it. All of our changes. What have you remixed in your life lately?

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Contest Winners AND An Interview with My Agent: Jennie Goloboy

Winning Song of the Day: “Jenny From the Block” by Jennifer Lopez

First off, thanks to all of you who entered the contest and who took the time to follow us on Tumblr and subscribe to our YouTube channel. We hope more of you will take part in our social media take-over later. In the mean time, we have some winners to announce!

So, that’s grammatically incorrect, because we have more than one, but you get the idea!!!

1. Leslie Wright!!!!
2. Melanie Conklin!!!!
3. Rachel Searles!!!!

Contact us at cuzwewrite@gmail.com and rank the prizes from one to three. Here are the prizes once more: Jennie’s query critique, Dawn Frederick’s query critique, or the ten dollar gift card. We will reward you all in the order that receive the e-mails.

In the mean time, why not learn a little more about my agent, Jennie Goloboy of Red Sofa Literary?

You are a newer agent, when did you start and what made you want to become a literary agent? (How many clients would you consider your “max” and where are you on that list right now?)

People who’ve known me for a long time say I’m a natural matchmaker, and that is what drew me to being an agent– the idea that this writer and that editor should know each other, and I can help by introducing
them! Currently, I am growing my client list, but I do know I plan to keep the list small so each of my authors gets special attention.

What kind of projects do you usually look for/gravitate toward?
Right now my practice centers on YA and MG novels and science fiction and fantasy for adults. Beyond that, first of all, I have to love your protagonist and care what happens to him or her. I love funny books (Terry Pratchett, Christopher Moore, and Fay Weldon are current favorites). I love fantasy with a realistic feel– either because it’s set in the real world, or because the world and its characters are fully imagined and credible. Romance is always a plus, as long as the romance doesn’t solve all the protagonist’s problems (especially in YA). And as a historian, I appreciate historical settings!

I also love it when my authors already have an audience ready and eager to read their books when they are published– for example, by starting a popular blog and running exciting contests…

(Tee hee, Oh Jennie :D) 

When do you usually stop reading a query or sample pages?
I stop reading queries if I can tell that the book is not something I’d represent (like a thriller or a memoir). I skim queries if I think I’ve seen the idea before, in case the author has promising credentials or an unusual twist on the idea. Currently I’m seeing a lot of novels about girls who have prophetic dreams and girls who
either are or are dating the grim reaper.

If I like the query, I generally let it sit for a while, and if it still looks good at a second glance, I will request the first three chapters. (I don’t ask for a synopsis– I like to be surprised.) I always read all three chapters. If I like them, I will ask for the full manuscript, which I will also read in full.

In general, if I’ve asked for it, I’ll read it.

How do you network with editors and other industry professionals with your office being located in Minnesota?

I have the benefit of Dawn’s years of experience in the industry and great track record. Beyond that, I love conferences! I’ll be speaking at three this year, one at the Loft Literary Center in late April (https://www.loft.org/classes-at-the-loft-literary-center/writing-conferences), one at the DFW Writer’s Conference (www.dfwwritersconference.org), and one at the Florida Writers Association
(http://www.floridawriters.net/Home_Page.html). I also plan to be at Worldcon again this year, as well as a couple of history conferences.

You are a writer as well. How do you balance your time between writing your own material and helping your clients get published?

Coffee. I also try to keep a daily schedule: Monday is for sorting through the mail, Tuesday and Thursday are for client needs, Wednesday and Friday for my own writing. Of course, if there’s an urgent issue
from one of my clients, I get to it right away!

As a writer, what advice would you give to others still working to get published?
This shouldn’t be a lonely business! Once you’ve written that book, you’ll need beta readers. You’ll need people to show you the next steps, and you’ll need people to help you commiserate and celebrate.
Go out and find some writer buddies!

Do you have any recommendations for writers on how to build their platform?
It’s not enough to write a great book, you also have to know the kind of book you’re writing, so it can find its proper audience. At Red Sofa, we’re big fans of Christina Katz’s Get Known Before the Book Deal, which has some great exercises to help you define yourself as a writer, and to publicize your work using social media.

What is your favorite book/author right now? What is your favorite book/author of all time?
Wow, that’s a hard question! The best book I read recently– the most creative, immersive, moving and satisfying– was Lauren Beukes’s Zoo City. Probably the book I think about most frequently is actually a
history book: Richard Bushman’s The Refinement of America. But when I want to reread a book, it’s usually one of Terry Pratchett’s Ankh-Morpork books, of which Thud! is my very favorite.

Random Questions!

Me and Pam are scared-y cats. We’re scared of clowns, mermaids, centaurs, and people on stilts… What freaks you out the most?

Mayonnaise. And yet, oddly enough, I love chicken salad, and I’m willing to make some to get it.

If it’s your last day on earth, what would you eat (all we think about is food)?

I’d head down to the North End in Boston and get pizza and an arancine from Galleria Umberto, followed by Italian rum cake from Modern Pastry (all I think about is food, too!).

“The Voice” or “American Idol”?
I’ve run out of time for most TV, but I always watch Mad Men, to see how Don’s messed up his life this week.

What would you do for a klondike bar?
For a Klondike bar? Not much. For a Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake bar? I’m embarrassed to say…

Thanks so much, Jennie!

And again, thanks to all of you who entered the contest (and even those of you who were THINKING about entering). If you want to query Jennie, find out more about her here:

Jennie’s Facebook
Jennie’s Twitter
Jennie on Querytracker.net

I Saw That In A Movie!

Comparing Song of the Day: “For the Movies” by Buckcherry

Okay, so we felt like it was about time that we touch on the age old topic of the movie versions of books. We saw Water for Elephants this past weekend without having read the book. Right after the movie, I promptly bought the book. The same thing happened when we saw the movie version of I Am Number Four (which we’ve heard was a lot better than the book–full report after said book is read)…and of course this occurs the other way around, too. We read and love Twilight, we saw the movie. We read and love The Hunger Games, so we plan to see the movie. You get the point.
Sometimes movies and books work hand in hand, helping each other sell (cha-ching) and bringing the movie/book to a wider audience. On some occasions you get situations where the book is better than the movie (okay that happens on MOST occasions), but we wonder…are there ever times where the movie is better than the book?

When we were younger we couldn’t get through the book Gone With the Wind, but we watched the movie with intensity. Is that an age thing or was the movie better than the book? Pipe in–can you think of occasions where the movie was able to outdo those things that we love and hold dear (books, people-duh!)??

Let Us Entertain You Part Deux: The Results!

Results Song of the Day: “Feeback” by Janet Jackson

It is finally amongst us–our long awaited Spring Break! While we’ll be spending this week relaxing and enjoying our week away from work, we will also be taking into consideration the results of our poll last Monday.

We asked all of you what we should do more of on our blog…59 of you voted woo hoo!!!!! (or maybe our mom’s came up here and voted 20 or so times…)

Anyway, here are the results:

So, as it stands you guys really enjoy when we tell you about conferences, when we give writing tips, and when we fight each other. *blinks* Also, you seem to really like our new “What Agents Want” series (yay!) and when we participate in blog fests. Please be sure that we’ve heard you loud and clear. In fact, there’s a blogfest tomorrow- Query Letter Blogfest. There’s still time to enter, check out the rules here!

Since you all really like when we give you advice that we hear from conferences,why don’t you tell us about your favorite writer conference you attended…or will you be attending one soon? What conference do you WISH you could attend but work, life, and general suckiness gets in the way?

Let Us Entertain You!

Polling Song of the Day: “Opinion” by Nirvana

We are getting close to ONE YEAR as blogging partners–can you believe it?!!! And we felt like it was about time to ask you, our lovely and loyal followers, what YOU would like to see more of (or at all) on our blog.

Please take a moment to vote on one or more of the following items that you would like to see on the blog.

Hey, wait! If you have ANOTHER moment, tell us if we left something off of the poll that yo u would like to see. Also, what were some of your favorite blog posts here at Y(A)? Cuz We Write! and on any of your other fave blogs?

We Answer YOUR Questions

Q & A Song of the Day: “Question Existing” by Rihanna

We asked and you…well, asked. Last week, we opened up the comments for any burning questions you may have for us. Why? Well, we’ve been blogging together for almost a year and we wanted you to get to know us a little better. Oh, and we also had no clue what to blog about today, but that’s besides the point! Let the Q & A begin…

Alicia Gregoire wanted to know…why did we choose a picture with Elmo last week? Well, to give you nightmares, darling, of course. 🙂

Tracey Neithercott had two questions:

1. Is there ever a bad time to use a Charlie Sheen quote? Hmm, we would suggest using them sparingly…or Chris Brown may get mad and throw a chair out of a window. Sorry, we couldn’t resist. We think they’re BOTH jerks.

2. What’s your writing process like?
Pam’s Answer: Slow and steady wins the race. Yes, I am an EXTREMELY slow first drafter. In fact, I was surprised that I actually “won” NaNoWriMo last year. Usually I plot a little, then write. Then whine. Plot a little, write, whine. And so forth, and so forth. I’m a perfectionist and I fight everyday to turn off the dreaded internal editor. However, I find it productive for me to set goals for myself–like finish a chapter/scene a day–or finish 3 chapters by the end of the week. Oh, and my muse always seems to attack me while I’m at the day job. Shh, don’t tell.

Quita’s Answer: I basically plot a little bit, then I write…then I change some of the plot based on what I wrote. Then I finish it and let Pam read it before revising and sending it to other beta readers. Simple. (and now Pam’s wringing my neck).

Abby Stevens wanted to know some tips and tricks we learned at the CNU Writers’ Conference.

Well, we sat in our one of our favorite sessions at ANY conference–and that’s the First Page Critiques. Here’s some tips based off that panel (which featured Michelle Wolfson and Mitchell Waters):

  • Sentences don’t need 3 adjectives
  • Do NOT ask rhetorical questions
  • Do NOT use intense verbs in rapid succession (pounding, pummeling, etc.)
  • Read the story aloud–or, even better, have someone read it aloud to you
  • “Telling” is sometimes okay on the first page, but make sure to transition to action soon
  • Put the readers inside of the story

There, those were the basics. Oh, and Michelle Wolfson also mentioned that when pitching (whether in person or through a query), try to make it as conversational as possible.

Jamie (he’s a guy, btw) also had 2 questions:

1. For Pam, how did you know your WIP was ready for agent queries? How did you know it was good enough?
Confession time: I didn’t know my WIP was ready when I first started querying almost 2 years ago. In fact (gulp), I even started querying even before I was completely finished. I know…the horror. Needless to say, an awesome agent ended up asking for a full–which means that I had to spend a week actually finishing the manuscript (and if you read my response on the writing process, you know this was quite painful for me).

Thankfully, that agent didn’t just laugh in my face. She rejected, gave me great feedback, and opened the floor to send me the revised version (note–this was NOT my awesome agent, Sarah LaPolla). So, I stopped querying, incorporated her feedback, and sent it off to some beta writers. Then I revised again, attended workshops, revised again, got a revise and resubmit request from Sarah, revised again…then months later, magic happened. As you can see, LOTS of work. I highly recommend actually having a completed manuscript before querying. Scratch that, have a completed manuscript that’s been butchered with a red pen by at least 3 awesome beta readers. 🙂

2. Why didn’t we invite him to the conference? Oh, Jamie. We will roll out the red carpet for you at the next conference we attend–especially since you’re about to be a published author, you rock star, you. 🙂

So, that was fun–we need to do this again. But let’s get to know you all better, lovelies. What do you think is the best book to read during the summer (we’d love the recommendations!)?

You Win Some…And You Win Some

“Winning” Song of the Day: “Right In Two” by Tool

First of all, sorry for the Charlie Sheen quote–it had to be done. Secondly, are you ready for some winners from our TWO HUNDRED followers contest???

We had TWO prize packs up for grabs for TWO winners.

Two…it’s such a nice number. Why don’t we take a moment to admire some unique two’s:

Wow…the number 2- spelled out!

A snaky two…

Elmo says “hi” from his two…

Two people hanging out on a two…

A balloon filled two…

Have you had enough two’s??? Hope not b/c we still have to announce our TWO winners! Without further delay…

The Winner of the Reading Prize Pack is…

VIVIEN!!!!

The Winner of the Writer’s Prize Pack is…

ERINBERRY!!!!

Thanks to EVERYONE who entered. And don’t worry, you know we’ll have more contests for you later!!! Winners, check your e-mails for further insturctions 😀

WAIT! Before you go. We have a favor to ask. We’ve noticed that a few of our bloggy pals have been requesting questions from their followers. We would like to do the same. Ask us ANYTHING! How do we start writing new WIPs, how do we like to drink our coffee, how do we manage to not kill one another every day…whatever! We’ll collect the questions and answer them next Monday, April 4th, 2011! We look forward to your questions!