Monday, September 3, 2012

GUTGAA Meet & Greet!



GUTGAA (Gearing Up to Get an Agent) is this awesome blogfest hosted by Deana Barnhart (who also happens to live in Kentucky, like me!).  This week is Meet and Greet.  Below is my bio and my nswers to the M&G questions:

I'm 33, married to the guy I started dating in 12th grade, and mama to an almost one-year-old baby girl.  For lack of any other direction in life (read: I got a master's in US history and didn't want to teach or get a PhD), I went to law school.  I practiced for a little while, but now I work at a great non-profit.  I write upper middle grade/tween contemporary girly novels.   And, yes, my husband has read them all.  :)   And, he's playing with the little one right now so I can steal a few moments to write this blog entry! 

Like most other writers, I wrote as a kid and a teenager (mostly, I tried to emulate RL Stine and Christopher Pike), but I re-found (is that a word?) writing in '06 when I was neck deep in law school and tired of reading cases.  One day in the law library, I closed my Real Estate Law book, popped open my laptop, and began pecking out the beginnings of a middle grade novel.   Then I found SCBWI, the Verla Kay blueboards, and couldn't stop writing.

On to the questions...

-Where do you write? On the old couch in my living room.

-Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?  The TV and shelves of such fabulous film fare as Young Guns, Ice Castles, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Three Amigos, Wayne's World, 3:10 to Yuma, Knocked Up, and Husband's extensive anime collection.

-Favorite time to write? Definitely morning, but since I'm working most mornings, I write in the evening by default. 

-Drink of choice while writing? Husband and I swore off buying Diet Pepsi, so now it's either some variety of Crystal Light, water, or wine.

-When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence? Silence. 

-What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it? The manuscript I have in revisions is a skating novel that came from my years as a skater.  The Shiny New Idea was inspired by my travels out west.

-What's your most valuable writing tip?  Go to conferences and writing workshops.  I always find myself full of of ideas and energy after a conference.  I went to this great plot workshop with Cheryl Klein of Arthur A. Levine books in April.  I learned SO much, and I can say that my WIP is 10x better now because of that workshop.  I use all my Christmas and birthday money for these things - so worth it!

61 comments:

  1. Nice to meet someone else with a history degree. My BA is in history and Russian and Eastern European Studies, and I'd love to someday have an MA and Ph.D. in Russian history.

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    1. The MA was enough for me. I LOVE to research, but actually writing the thesis was painful. I'd love to try my hand at historical fiction someday, though.

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  2. I have never been to a conference, sounds v. interesting!

    I have silence too to write.

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    1. Conferences are so much fun. The regional SCBWI conferences are my favorites (and it helps that they're not overpriced!).

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  3. I agree, writers conferences are worth every penny! My sister is an ice skater, and though I don't skate myself I can see how the skating world would make a dramatic setting. Nice to meet you! You can consider me a new follower :)

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    1. I'm following you, too. :) Very cool that your sister is a skater! It's an addicting sport.

      Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy!

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  4. Hi nice to meet you! Agreed with the conferences. It's so great to be with your own peeps! ;D

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    1. Nice to meet you! Conferences are so much fun & I've found fellow writers to be super supportive and friendly.

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  5. I've never been able to attend a conference. Someday:-)

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    1. Oh, you should definitely go to one! Sometimes you can find free conferences attached to book festivals. The SCBWI ones are my favorites, though.

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  6. I so agree on conferences! I've been to two this year, and I can't believe how helpful they are. I've met fantastic people and my manuscript has improved dramatically.

    Also, Three Amigos is my hubby's favorite movie. He is always delighted when someone has heard of it/likes it :-)

    My M&G post is here, if you wanted to check it out: http://thinkingtoinking.blogspot.com

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    1. Three Amigos is one of my hubby's favorites, too. :) I added a comment to your blog. I love the concept of your WIP!

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  7. Dear Gail (sorry if I got your name wrong...I tried to find it),

    Nice to meet you. I enjoyed your answers to the GUTGAA questions. Thanks for the tip to attend conferences. I'd love to go to at least a zillion. Will work on it.

    Happy writing!

    Warm regards,

    Don #138

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    1. You got it right! You can tell my blog is still under construction...I haven't even gotten my name on it yet.

      Conferences really are worth the time & money. Such a great opportunity to meet other writers (both published and pre-published), agents, and editors.

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  8. A skating novel? That sounds fantastic.

    I JUST joined SCBWI and am going to my first conference EVER in October. Gosh, I'm so excited.

    And I was just in Kentucky on a business trip for my 'day job'. Bowling Green, Kentucky to be exact. Got to see the Corvette manufacturing facility. (As well as my customer ;))

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    1. So cool about the Corvette plant! I've driven by on the interstate, but haven't been in. I live in Louisville.

      Have a great time at your first conference! I love the regional SCBWI conferences. They're usually big enough to bring in great editors and agents, but small enough that you can get to know the other writers there. That said, I've never been to one of the big conferences (LA or NY)...some day! :)

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    2. Yeah, I'm SUPER excited to meet other writers in my area. I only have one writing friend that I meet with in person, so we're looking to expand our little group :)

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  9. I would love to go to a conference just for writing (not geared toward pitching).

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    1. The conferences I've been to have various sessions you can choose from. For example, there might be three 9 am sessions - one on character development, one on queries, and one on marketing. You pick which one you want to attend. I like that b/c it allows you to create a focus for your conference experience.

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  10. Conferences are definitely great. I even went to a panel of four authors at a small convention, and after the panel one of the authors talked to me for thirty minutes giving me advice that helped me out a great deal!

    Nice to meet you, and see you around!

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    1. Wow, how nice! Fellow writers are usually so helpful. :)

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  11. Nice to meet you! I hope you have a great time w/ GUTGAA. I'm participating too. :P I agree, conferences are the best!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! I'm counting down the days til my next conference.

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  12. The Three Amigos! One of the best movies ever!! I love the singing bush, and what happens to it, poor thing. It is hilarious, though. Have a great GUTGAA!

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    1. Haha, the singing bush! I'd never seen the movie until my husband introduced it to me. It really is hilarious. :)

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  13. Great to meet you! I was OBSESSED with Christopher Pike back in the day. I reread a few of them several years ago - not quite as magical as I remember, but still good. Looking forward to seeing you around GUTGAA!

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    1. I haven't reread, but probably will when my daughter is old enough to pull one off the bookshelf and say, "Mom, can I read this?" :D

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  14. Nice to meet you! Your post on roadtripping distracted me - impressive stats! I would love to go across country one day... ocean to ocean. Anyway, have fun GUTGAA'ing!

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    1. I'd hoped we could get to California & back, but we would've needed at least a month for that. One day, I'd love to drive up through Canada to Alaska. That would be a crazy fun trip!

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  15. Hi. I am new to your blog. I am making my meet and greet rounds. It is nice to meet you. I am a fellow mom, wife, lawyer and writer on a journey to land an agent. Good luck with GUTGAA.

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    1. Great to meet you! There seem to be a few of us lawyerly types participating in GUTGAA.

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  16. Going to conferences is great advice. I've learned so much from other writers. It's cool that you've done so much with your life. Most people have never been a lawyer or an ice skater and you've been both. Nice to meet you!

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    1. What a great way to put it. Thank you! Good luck with GUTGAA!

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  17. I haven't had the chance to go to a writing conference yet, but I've been dying to go to one!

    It's nice to meet you=)

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    1. Nice to meet you, too! I left a comment on your blog - we're neighbors, sort of. :)

      And conferences are great! I went to the Indiana SCBWI conference last year & had a great time.

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  18. So impressed that you've been with your hubs since 12th grade! Those YA contemp romances really can work out. :)

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    1. Haha! I dont know that we're nearly as exciting as a YA contemp romance, but that's prob a good thing for real life. :)

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  19. Hi from another GUTGAA participant.

    Hmm. I haven't had a chance to get to many workshops or conferences, yet. Seriously want to, though.

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    1. Hi there! Hope you can get to one. Happy GUTGAAing! :)

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  20. I totally agree with the advice about workshops and conferences. I attended my first RWA conference last month and learnt so much. Have you tried Savvy Authors? They run some wonderful online courses.

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    1. I've heard of Savvy Authors but haven't checked it out. Thank you for the tip!

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  21. Hey Kentucky girl! Sadly I just moved to AL:( But I will always bleed blue! Are you from KY? Because you are the same age as me. Maybe we went to school together. Now that would be cool!

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    1. I didn't know we were the same age. Crazy! I'm from Louisville. Where did you grow up? So sad that you had to move away:( At least you're not far from the beach in AL, though.

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  22. Hi! I LOVE Life Aquatic! All time, top five movies, for sure. Writer's conference - I haven't gotten the nerve to go to one yet, but I know I need to. Good to hear they are helpful - maybe I'll finally sign up and go! Good luck with GUTGAA!

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    1. They are really helpful, and you don't have to sign up for pitch sessions or critiques if you prefer not to. :)

      (I bought an Air Kentucky t-shirt at a local store after The Life Aquatic came out. heehee!)

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  23. I'd love to go to workshops and conferences, but sadly I don't have the money. :-(

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    1. Money is always the problem for me, too. That's why I haven't been to one of the bigger SCBWI conferences.

      For the smaller confereces, it isn't the actual conference that's most expensive - it's the hotel room. If you can find someone to share a room with, that really helps. And I only go to conferences w/in driving distance - can't spring for airfare right now!

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    1. :) I'm going to one next week. Can't wait!

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  25. That's a great story about becoming a writer. I'm so impressed by people who make it through something like law school. I think it's awesome that you changed careers though. I'm a big believer in people doing what makes them happy.

    One year old's are so great, aren't they? It's such an awesome age. Is she walking yet?

    It's hard to get writing done with a baby around, but it will get easier. I actually have five kids and I somehow manage (though at times I'm not sure how. haha)

    Anyway, speaking of writing I've also been inspired by all these awesome blogs on GUTGAA to finally start one. I'd love it if you'd come by. It's www.onemagicbeanbuyer.com I'm kind of in desperate need of followers. haha. Thanks. Nice to meet you and good luck with GUTGAA!

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  26. Hi, Tamara! Thanks for stopping by. :)

    Five kids! Wow - I'm impressed you get any writing done at all. Mine isn't walking yet, but she's obsessed with pulling herself up and cruising around the couch. It's the funniest thing to watch.

    My blog is pretty new, too. I'll stop by yours & give you a follow. I love the title! :)

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    1. P.S. I didn't immediately realize you're the same gailecn who commented on my CAGI post (#29)You agreed that Luc is most definitely a guys name (Which I appreciated)

      Anyway, when I realized you were the same person who's blog I'd visited I just wanted to return and say thanks for the CAGI comment. What number were you? Did I comment on yours? I thought I hit most of them, but I might have missed some. Good luck with CAGI!!

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    2. haha! Yep, I'm the same person. #46 on CAGI. You commented on mine:)

      I promised myself I'd enter more writing contests, and there have been so many lately! CAGI, GUTGAA, Pitch Madness (which I didn't get chosen for), a Writer's Digest MG contest, and one on Operation Awesome. Whew! Now I just have to keep up with them all!

      I'm sorry to hear about your oldest son. I can't even imagine how hard that was (and still is). Your grandson is adorable! My little one's name is Eva. She's working hard on standing up, so I think she'll be walking soon. She loves to talk. So far, she says "hi" and something that sounds like "that" (when she points to things). She used to say "key" (kitty) and "bye" but we haven't heard those for a little while. She can say "da" but I don't think she associates it with Daddy yet. So much fun!

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    3. I heard about all of those except Operation Awesome. I'll have to check that out. I didn't get chosen for Pitch Madness either. Bummer, but I was trying something new with my first 150 and now I'm thinking I want do that again. haha

      Are you doing the Pitch Polish blog hop?

      Thanks for the condolences. It was a very long time ago, almost twenty years now. My sixteen year old son is literally the best kid in the universe, so he makes me pretty damn happy.

      Eva. Such a pretty name, I love that. Aaawww...her little words sound so cute. It seems like such a short amount of time ago that Jace (my grandson) was learning to talk, and now he never stops. haha

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    4. My query & first 150 went up on Deana's blog today. I'm #21. :)

      I've changed the beginning of my finished ms so many times, I've lost count! We writers tend to be perfectionists, I think.

      Are you going to do the Twitter Pitch Party for Pitch Madness? The pitch I sent in for that contest was kind of blah. I reworked it & hope it's better. It's so hard to distill your book into 140 characters or less! If nothing else, I figure that doing the Pitch Party will tell me whether my pitch is any better...or if I need to go back to the drawing board.

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    5. When is the twitter pitch party again? If we were doing that, we probably already needed to send our entries in, right? Or do I still have time to do that?

      I wasn't even sure if I'd written a decent pitch yet but I remembered putting a tagline with my signature up on Write On so I just shot back over to check it out. Turns out the tagline I put is exactly 140 characters. What are the odds? So I guess I have a Twitter Pitch.

      I'll be sure to check out your pitch on Deana's blog! Hope you get lots of comments on it!

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    6. The Twitter pitch party is on the 13th (Thurs). I don't think you have to send anything in...at least I haven't heard that. I'm guessing all we have to do is post our pitch on Twitter with the right hashtag. I'm just getting into the Twitter thing (I feel so behind!), so this will be good for me. haha! Hopefully there will be a new blog post about it before it actually happens so we know what to do.

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  27. Thanks gailecn,

    My guys are all older. My oldest daughters are twenty-two and twenty-one. Then a sixteen yr. old son and thirteen yr. old daughter. We lost our oldest son when he was just a baby, but I always put that I'm a mom of five, cause I'm not going to disclude him.

    I do, however, have a little grandson. His picture is on my blog. He's about a year and a half older than your daughter. It's so much fun when they start walking/talking, isn't it? I can't believe how fast Jace is growing. What's your little girl's name?

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  28. I love your writing tip, I wish I'd read it ten years ago. I started going to conferences in 2010, and it's been amazing. You meet so many awesome people there!

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    1. Hi there:) I agree about all the great people you meet at conferences. I found my first critique group thanks to the first conference I ever went to. It's so much fun to be around other people who are just as obsessed about writing as we are!

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  29. Hi just hopping around for gutgaa meet awesome writers. your advice is great I hope to do more conventions next. Nice to meet you~!

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