My husband's been working on his genealogy, and fortunately for him his grandmother has a treasure trove of photos. And even more fortunately, he has a wife that knows her way around Photoshop. It was pretty warm today, so we decided to stay in the a.c. and work on some projects.

This one is slightly larger than a postage stamp and in pretty poor condition (not unexpected since it's from the early-to-mid 1930s) and I thought I'd offer a little glimpse of the process (to see more of a progression, click on the first photo and it will open them as a viewer):

Can't you just see her catching some outlaw's eye? She was living in Moss Landing, California, when this picture was taken.

OA Today and Some Helpful Info on Avoiding Scams

I've got a post over on Operation Awesome today, talking about cover art for books.

And also wanted to direct you to a post on David Gaughran's blog with some new dirt on AuthorHouse, and how they're using the Penguin Random House merger to try to lend some legitimacy to their practices. The most confusing thing about all of it is that AuthorHouse now has so many subsidiaries, it's difficult to keep track of them all. There's also a thread on Absolute Write going back to 2002 with complaints about AuthorHouse's practices.

It's just another reminder to do your due diligence if you're looking for a way to self-publish your book. This is not the way to go! I had someone in my writer's group fall for this and he was out over $2,000 for a book that was riddled with errors (most of them on the "publisher"'s side) that was unsold and unsellable.These are the kinds of practices that give legitimate publishing services a bad name.

RTW: Riding Wildfire

Have I really not done a Road Trip Wednesday since January? Wow, that's a long time to be parked on the side of the road! Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors and followers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on their blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic: What song would you love to see a book based on?

This was a total no-brainer for me--I thought of one song immediately.

A little background: I was completely horse crazy as a kid. Dog crazy too. I could recite and identify every breed of horse or dog, thanks to enablers in my family who kept me supplied with encyclopedias and picture books. Still have some of those books, except for the ones I lent to a friend for a school report and never got back before she moved (Lisa, I still want those back! --shakes fist--)

So with that backstory, you'll understand why I'd love to see this song made into a book. It's already pretty much a story, how hard could it be?

And as a bonus, I'm including a song that is a fantastic companion to my book--in fact, I've approached her about using it for a book trailer.

Feel free to put a link to your post in the comments if you played along with Road Trip Wednesday. Don't forget to go to the YA Highway post and read all the answers!

Upcoming Pitch Opportunities

We've missed a few months for the Mystery Agent Contests over at Operation Awesome, but now that the summer is winding down we'll be back on track with agents committed for August, September, and October. So keep an eye on Operation Awesome for details on a wishlist for the August 1 Mystery Agent Contest!

Plus, Adventures in YA & Children's Publishing is running another Pitch+250 Contest, and I've been invited to be one of the judges for Round 1! Here's how to enter (be sure to follow their blog for updates, including the agent judges reveal!):

Submissions will be accepted starting on Wednesday, July 31st at 6:00pm EST time. The submission window will close on August 3rd at 11:00pm EST time, or when we receive 50 submissions, whichever comes first. The entries will consist of a pitch of no more than 100 words plus the first 250 words of your completed manuscript. For your pitch, think logline, not query.

Pitch+250 is open to YA, NA, and MG submissions only. It will consist of 3 rounds of judging. We will accept a maximum of 50 submissions.

Round 1: A great set of bloggers will judge the submissions. The 25 submissions with the highest scores will move on to the next round.

Round 2: YA authors will judge the top 25 submissions. The 10 highest scores will move on to the next round.

Round 3: Agent and Editor judges will score the top 10 submissions.

The top 10 submissions will receive a critique from one of our judges. All 50 entrants will receive scorecards from each round of judging they participate in.

Starting at 6:00 pm Eastern time on Wednesday, July 31st, please send your pitch of no more than 100 words plus the first 250 words of your completed manuscript in the body of an email to 4kidlit (at) gmail (dot) com. We will accept a maximum of 50 submissions. You must include Pitch+250 in the subject line. Please use the following format in the body of your email:



1st 250:

The details of writer-friend Alison Kemper's book deal were announced today:

Debut YA author Alison Kemper's DONNA OF THE DEAD, about a teen girl who has to face the obliteration of the human race to a virus that makes people act zombie-like with only the help of a rag-tag group of high school classmates, including her long-time crush, in the campy humor-meets-action vein of the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Entangled Publishing in a three-book deal with the first book releasing in 2014.

I've read the first book as a beta, and I can't wait to read the rest of the trilogy! Go congratulate Alison on Twitter

Westercon, and Query Crit on OA Today

Our second query critique is up on Operation Awesome today if you'd like to check it out! After you read this riveting blog post here, of course.

My husband and I went to Westercon over the weekend, and although he refused to dress up like Commander Ryker (hey, I was willing to try for Deanna Troy) we had a good time.

This was the first fan con that I've been to; I generally do writers' conferences and then I did a storytelling conference years ago. I only found out about Westercon because my friend Karen Sandler posted on Facebook that she was going to be on some panels there. And good thing she did, because otherwise I would have missed out on getting her to sign my book (yes, we do see each other outside of conferences, but I don't always carry a copy of her book around with me, lol).

Awakening is the second book in Karen's YA trilogy, which started with Tankborn, and now I'm re-reading Tankborn to refresh my memory before diving into book two.

I attended most of the panels to do with writing and publishing (found out about Westercon too late to sign up for the writer's workshop), many of which were concentrated on self-publishing, e-pubbing, and small presses. Got some great links and resources out of it, but I'd like to add some resources of my own here . . .

One of the panels was on using sf/fantasy in the classroom and they talked about K-12, but I noticed that most of the books they were talking about for the high school level were titles like Farenheit 451, 1984, and Brave New World. Valid books, all, but I must've not been the only one who noticed that the most recent book they mentioned was written 25 years ago because another audience member asked for more recent YA sf titles.

And the panel was stumped (they said they don't deal with YA as much). It was as they were wrapping and I didn't have a chance to speak up, but I did go up to the person who had asked the question and provided some YA sf titles that I'd read:

Beth Revis's series (starts with Across the Universe)
Veronica Roth's series (starts with Divergent)
James Dashner's Maze Runners series
Mike Mullin's Ashfall series
Paolo Bacigalupi's series (starts with Ship Breakers)
Scott Westerfield's Uglies series and Leviathin books
Marie Lu's series (starts with Legend)
Marissa Meyer's series (starts with Cinder)
Feed by M.T. Anderson (this one's actually on my TBR list)

There are so many more, of course, but these are the ones that occurred to me during the panel or right afterwards. If there was a Westercon in Sacramento in the near future (it moves to different cities), I'd definitely be proposing a panel on YA sf and fantasy!

Saturday was the masquerade but we left well before it started. I did manage to catch a few cool costumes with my camera phone though:

Would like to have seen what else people came up with, but I was tired from only two days of this! Kudos to the people who stuck it out for all four days. Since it's only about a 40 minute drive from our place, we opted to do the day trip thing.

So who would you have dressed up as, if you had unlimited time and money to make a costume?