Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hunkerin' Down for the Holidays...

I'm going AWOL for the coming festivities, but wanted to wish everyone a safe and fun-filled holiday season!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's that time...IHYB Award Nominees!!!

As promised, it’s time for me to post my I HEART YOUR BLOG AWARD nominees. So, here are the “official” rules:

1) Add the logo of your award to your blog.
2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4) Add links to those blogs on your blog.
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.

Now, the smart thing for me to do, in light of the fact that I do have a book coming out in 2009, would be to nominate a bunch of book reviewers (to do a little pre-publicity sucking up). But, BAH, I say! I’ve never been accused of being smart, and I’m not about to start now.

Instead, I’m going to throw my noms back to my fellow writers. Those in the trenches; toiling away over revisions, panicking about what kinds of reviews they’re going to get, or even those who are still spending hour after hour crafting the “perfect” query letter.

That said, here are my nominees (in no particular order):

1) P.J. Hoover at Roots in Myth. Not only do P.J. and I share an agent, but she has already gone through the trials of her debut novel’s release. And she shares her wisdom on her blog. I love a gal that doesn’t mind lending a helping hand! P.S. If you’re looking for a perfect gift for that kid, aged 8 and up, you can still get your copy P.J.’s The Emerald Table on Amazon in time for the holidays!

2) C. Leigh Purtill, another seasoned veteran, posts about all kinds of things, including her books, Love, Meg and All About Vee. Another author not unwilling to give advice and tips to those of still struggling to learn the ropes. Thanks, Leigh!

3) Heidi Willis at Ocean Deep is a newbie for me. I’ve just started reading her blog, and I have to say, so far I love it! She has great information for those writers still trying to snag an agent’s attention, complete with articles and links. Plus, she totally taught me what a pellet stove was. Hurrah!

4) And Heidi’s friend, Brit, over at Dream the Dream. Another great new blog for me, with tons of good links and info. And, hello??? I made her book list for 2009, so she’s smart too!!!

Both of these ladies are funny and insightful.

5) Mandy Hubbard, author of the upcoming Prada & Prejudice (what’s not to love with a name like that???). She is funny and honest…I love someone who is willing to put herself out there, and Mandy does! Also, she lives just down the street. Seriously, we just figured out that we live just miles apart. How cool is that?

6) Carrie Ryan, who is the author of one of the books that I would literally rip someone’s arm off to get an ARC of. That is, if I were a zombie. (ehem, her book is about zombies, by the way.) Her forthcoming debut, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, is due out March 10th, and I, for one, will be pre-ordering my copy.

7) Maggie Stiefvater, another fellow Laura client, and author of the recently released Lament, and the forthcoming Ballad (the follow-up to Lament) and Shiver, both due Fall 2009. I’m incredible excited to see Shiver hit the bookstores, as I’ve heard that it will have millions of teen girls crying onto the pages (in a good way!).

8) Christy Raedeke’s blog, Juvenescence, is another one that I’m just starting to stalk (I mean, umm, read). Coincidentally, her sidebar has a post called “Stalking” which is a list of things-not-to-do when you sign with an agent, and when I read it, I cracked up. Why? Because I had done ALL of them! Speaking of which, since Christy is one of said agent’s clients, why do I have her listed here at all? Am I just begging for an inferiority complex???

Anyway, since my list is growing slightly too long, I just want to add that I love all of your blogs and I wish everyone FANTASTIC success in 2009!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Exquisitely Exquisite!

Girl Week over at Reviewer X’s site has eclipsed all others. It is a week of sheer awesome, with author interviews and guest blogs, book reviews, and contest giveaways, all featuring books dealing with women's issues and strong female protagonists. That’s right, kick-ass heroines! And we could all use a little more kick-ass these days, right?

The deadline for giveaways is December 21st, and here are the contests so far (that’s right, SO FAR!):

A signed copy of I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE by Stephanie Kuehnert
An ARC of ARTICHOKE’S HEART by Suzanne Supplee
One of five tubes of TESS LIP GLOSS (donated by author Melissa Walker)
A copy of I KNOW IT’S OVER by C. K. Kelly Martin
An ARC of LOCK AND KEY by Sarah Dessen
A signed hardcover copy of BRALESS IN WONDERLAND by Debbie Reed Fischer
A signed copy of TEN CENTS A DANCE by Christine Fletcher
A signed ARC of WILLOW by Julia Hoban

But this is just Wednesday, people, so head over every day this week to see what’s new.

Oh, and, in the spirit of kick-ass, let’s just say that Steph has worked hers off to put all of this together. So a great big (HUGE) thanks to her for the pre-holiday festivities!

Monday, December 15, 2008

I Heart Your Blog Award

Okay, so this is my first time being nominated, and I honestly have to say... that it really IS an honor just to be nominated!

YA Book Realm nominated my blog (MY BLOG!) for the IHYB Award, citing:

Kimberly Derting: Author for the upcoming THE BODY FINDER. (September 2009) Her blog is freaking hilarious and very informative at the same time (like Steph from Reviewer X).

Wow...I'm speechless. Speechless.

Thanks YA Book Realm. Really, thanks!

(Since this is a pay-it-forward award, I'll announce my noms later this week!).

Thursday, December 11, 2008


For most writers, getting THE CALL may be the single most monumental moment of their lives.

Yeah, yeah...meeting the man of your dreams, getting married, having babies....all happy happy happy. Blah blah blah. (Sorry, honey!)


That’s something else altogether. That's the stuff dreams are made of. That’s what you’ve been working toward...the moment you know you’ve actually made it.

A lot of people talk about the moment they got “THE CALL.”

Me, I didn’t get the call. I got “the message.” And actually, I didn’t get the message, my husband did.

My agent had warned me something was up after I'd run into her at a conference in LA (which coincidentally is also the first time she actually remembers meeting me!). She told me that she got a voicemail, and that she might have “some news” for me. Of course, she quickly followed that up with, we might not know for sure what that news is until next week because she's at this conference, and the editor who contacted her is out of the office until Monday.


Plus, here's the thing: "Some news" could be just about anything, right?

So, here's how it went down in my head: They read it, loved it, and want to make a HUGE pre-empt offer on it. I mean, that happens, right?

But an entire weekend needs to pass before things come together and I have to hope to God no one’s dog dies over that weekend, because a crappy mood could be the kiss of death.

(Seriously, you guys, am I the only tortured writer out there?)

So as we cut to the next week, I head off on a planned camping trip with the family. And by “camping” I'm not talking about the roughing-it kind of camping. I mean we have a fully equipped trailer, complete with shower, microwave, air-conditioning, and flat screen kind of camping. I am so not the “roughing-it” kind of girl.

At this point, my nails are chewed to nubs that I desperately hope will grow back one day, and I’m permattached to my cell phone. I’ve taken to checking it every five minutes to make sure it’s on, and every ten for new voicemails.

Fun times!

That Tuesday, we decide to take the kids to a water park and spend the day in the near-hundred degree sun, and somehow, for the briefest of time, I manage to forget I'm supposed to be on pins-and-needles. When we get back, my husband calls our home phone to check messages. And then he gets this look on his face (with really wide, crazy eyes), and he yells, “You got it! You got an offer!”

I was laying down on the bed, and I swear it took me far too long to process any of what he'd said or why he was jumping up and down (in a really manly way, of course). He hands me the phone and lets me listen to the message, which I have to say, I’m not sure I even heard beyond: “We got an offer…”

I tried to call my agent back but it went straight to her voicemail. At this point, I didn’t even know what the offer was, but, hell, who cared?


I think I might have cried, I’m not sure. I know that I screamed. And I definitely know I jumped up and down with my husband and my kids. And then, out of nowhere, there was a sign that the kids made for me ahead of time, and a card, and some really warm champagne that my husband had packed (just in case)!

We drank the toasty bubbly out of plastic cups and we talked about the what-ifs, and I think I said “I can’t believe it” about a thousand times.

And quite possibly the best part of the entire night was that we were all together. All five of us in our ridiculously busy family just happened to be in the same place, at the same time, when I got THE CALL.

Definitely the stuff dreams are made of!

Monday, December 8, 2008


My seven-year-old waits all year for this program to come out, so this morning I started messing around with it and this is what I came up with (I normally don't post pics of my kids, but this was too funny!).

Check it out (you have to wait a few seconds for it to load after you click the link):

Elf Yourself

Okay, so I'm probably the only one, but...I crack myself up!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Edits, Edits, and More Edits...

So, one of the things that has really surprised me about this whole “publishing” thing was the editing process…at least the substantial edits, in which the manuscript is tweaked, changed, and in some cases, entire sections are rewritten.

But what surprised me most of all was how much I loved doing these edits.

No, I didn’t just love them, I LOVED them-loved them! Like there was something-wrong-with-me loved them!!! (Picture me with hearts floating out of my eyes...)

This probably shocked me more than anyone, because I was so nervous about getting my editorial notes for the first time (mostly since I really wasn’t sure what to expect). It was all new, like your first kiss or learning to drive a car. Nerve-wracking and exciting and a big fat adrenaline rush all at once.

The funny thing was, though, that love was not my first reaction when I received them. My editor sent over the editorial letter, which was three pages long. Not too bad. And as I read through it, I thought: Okay, I see where she’s going with this. I get her…

And then I started looking through the page-by-page edits. We used Track Changes (a program in Microsoft Word), which was new to both of us, for the bulk of the minor edits. So, within the manuscript she could make little “electronic” comments in the sidebars, and I would get to some of those and think, she wants me to cut what? Or, what the *#!%…? She’s crazy!

And then I’d spend some time thinking about her notes…you know, letting it all sink it, and I’d look again and go, Oooh, she’s totally right!

In the end, I was so grateful to have her critical eye and her alternate perspective on some of the scenes.

Because it was all electronic, the Track Changes program also made it really simple to scan through all of the pages over and over again. So I was able to go through the entire manuscript for the first time and just accepted all of the “no-brainer” changes that she’d suggested. Those were the ones where I learned that I’m like a brain-dead chimp when it comes to punctuating dialogue. Apparently, I missed that section in Basic English for Dummies 101.

But one of the things that really cracked me up was how much she seemed to love the chapters I’d written from the killer’s perspective, and ultimately, she asked for more of them. Apparently, I do “killer” very well. I think that should probably disturb me. Or at least my husband, right?

Anyway, because the publication date was less than a year from offer and acceptance (and even though we still didn’t have an official contract yet), we only had three weeks to get through the entire substantial editing process, which is generally considered a pretty short period of time. So when I received them, I completely immersed myself (immersed = sat in my pajamas all day and survived on Cheetos and coffee) in them, and found that the pressure of the deadline made me work best. I had the first round back to her within 10 days, and before the entire three weeks were up, we were done volleying all of the minor changes back and forth, and were ready to send it off to copy-edit.

It was amazing!

So, I LOVED substantial edits, but I’ll have to let you know about copyedits…I just received a big fat envelope last Friday and I’m about halfway through. I can honestly say that it looks like a sticky-note bomb has exploded on the pages where I’ve made my own notes.

I’ll let you know if there are any survivors when the wreckage is cleared.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Some Shout Outs...

I have some special thanks to give. These are a little belated for Thanksgiving, but better late than never, right?

First, to Dear Author for posting my book deal announcement on their site, it’s just so dang cool to see The Body Finder listed among the ranks of other (real) books! It makes it seem so official…I feel like I need to pinch myself!!!

Also, a special thanks to Steph at Reviewer X (collaboratively with Kristi at The Story Siren) for her Steph Intervention in announcing the deal in their weekly YA Connection. And again to The Story Siren and Reviewer X for letting everyone know that my jacket blurbs were up the following week. I appreciate you guys more than I can say!!!

And lastly, to Lenore over at Presenting Lenore for the free copy of Audrey, Wait! I won it in the contest that ended last week and I’m so excited to get my hands on it.

Oh, and for anyone out there (like me) who has been curious about Reviewer X, she just posted a great/fun/adorable post about herself yesterday…complete with gorgeous photo that is NOTHING like I imagined her. It looks like she’s having way too much fun over there. Check it out!

Thanks everyone!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

'Tis the Season!

So yesterday I took on the monumental task of digging out the boxes upon boxes of Christmas decorations from our garage. And this is just the indoor stuff!

When I’m done, it’s like Santa exploded in my house.

Dude, I love the holidays!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

What's Your Book About???

Last week, my editor sent over some of the printed materials that will go on the book jacket (not the cover or anything fabulous like that!), but some of the other fun stuff.

Here’s the excerpt from THE BODY FINDER that will go on the back jacket. I love this scene…I think it captures the creepiness of the story (which is some of the stuff that I love best!):

Violet strained to see into the lake below. Multihued light seemed to be radiating up from beneath the water, centered among the reeds, and then diffusing outward as it reached the surface. Violet had never seen anything like it, and she knew that the spectrum of light was defying its very nature by behaving in that way.

It could be only one thing.

There was something dead down there.

So, here is the jacket flap copy (at least this is what we’re planning on so far). I’m really happy with the way my editor captured not just the thriller portion of the story (of the spooky, paranormal variety), but also the romance angle. I was wondering how they were going to incorporate all of that into a few short paragraphs, but somehow (I think, anyway) she did it:

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her “power” to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay’s intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she’s falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself.

Now if I could only see the cover design…

Friday, November 21, 2008


I just got back from New York, where, among other things, I had the most amazing opportunity to meet my editor, Gretchen Hirsch, and to take a tour of the HarperCollins offices where I got to meet some of the people who will be responsible for putting my book into book stores. The coolest part: being introduced as “the author of The Body Finder”, and having people know who I was!

Besides catching a nasty cold on my last day, this was my first time EVER in New York, so everything was frickin' awesome! We ate a ton of great food, walked until I had blisters all over my feet (and yes, I spent $12 on two sad little Band-Aids from the minibar), and shopped until my credit card was practically on FIRE!!!

One thing that I got to see:
Naked Cowboy in Times Square!

Thirty degrees and no pants…that’s living the dream, people. Living the dream!

And if you can stay up late tonight, you can catch me in the audience of the Late Show with David Letterman (yep, that’ll be me sitting right smack-dab in front of Dave’s desk…they moved us all the way to the second row!). Don’t forget, though, my hair is brown now, so don’t be looking for a blonde.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I'm Getting Published!!!

So, this is it! The day I’ve been waiting months for…holding my breath and dying inside a little more each day because I couldn’t make this announcement yet. And, finally, the big day is here...

Cyber-drumroll, please……………..!

I sold my first Young Adult Novel!!!


Okay, so maybe I didn’t actually do the selling part but my amazing agent, Laura Rennert, did, in a two book deal to my wonderful editor, Gretchen Hirsch, at HarperCollins! (I know, right?) The name of the book is The Body Finder, and it will be available in stores September 2, 2009 (seriously, I can’t believe I just said that!).

Here is the link to the Publisher's Weekly article about the deal:


So, now that it’s finally ok for me to talk about this, I will be blogging about how I got the news about my book deal, what the editing process was like (don’t worry Gretchen, you were freaking awesome!), what the official launch dates for both books will be, when it will be available for pre-order (shameless plug), when the cover is posted on my website, when the reviews start coming in (crossing my fingers) and…again, I can’t believe I’m saying this…where I’ll be doing book signings next year.

I hope you all visit my blog often to say hi and to chat with me! I would love to hear from all of you!! If you have some time, check out my website and register to receive official updates! (I have no idea what an “official update” is, but as soon as I figure it out, I’ll let you know).

Thank you all for your friendship, good wishes, and support!

For those of you who are wondering, I used 20 exclamation marks to create this blog…but, really, can you blame me?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Save The Publishers...Save the World! (or something like that)

So there a few things I wanted to point out that I’ve come across this week in the Blogosphere…

First, the publishing industry is definitely feeling the financial crunch. After a brutal October, some publishers have reported negative earnings for the entire year of 2008. Those are frightening statistics for those of us who are hoping to earn a living from a floundering industry…and almost as terrifying for avid readers, when publishers take fewer risks on new authors and we will see fewer titles on the shelves. There have been several (MANY!) bloggers proposing a universal solution to this problem, and what is it?


That’s right, it’s that simple. This holiday season, instead of some disposable toy or another set of bath gels that will only get re-gifted later on, give the gift of laughter….or inspiration…or terror (if you’re like me and like something a little spookier). Buy a book for yourself, for a friend, for your mom, your kids, a co-worker. Anyone…anytime!


In other book news, check out the Presenting Lenore site for free giveaways of Robin Benway’s book, Audrey, Wait! She's giving away not one, but 5 copies, people! You have until November 25th to get over and register…it’s quick and easy. So, do it. Now!

I also read a great (4-star) review of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman over at Em’s Bookshelf. This is a book I’ve been eyeballing for a while…it looks exactly like something I’d love, even though it’s more Middle Grade than YA. (Another great gift idea for those 9+ kids in your life!). After reading her review, I will definitely be adding this to my Amazon cart this week!!!

And a suggestion for those tough-to-buy-for teen girls (and believe me, I’ve got ‘em too), try 13 Reasons Why, by Jay Asher. I read it last summer and was completely blown away by it!

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker--his classmate and crush--who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.

This is a serious subject matter, and while on the surface it might sound depressing, it’s not. At all. It’s deep and soulful and heart-wrenching, but also beautiful and, in the strangest of ways, optimistic even. You can read some reviews at The Book Muncher and The YA YA YAS.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mr. Fix-It

I’ve noticed something lately.

I complain.

It’s true. There’s no point denying it. Apparently, it’s just part of my nature, part of who I am.

And my husband, he responds. He wants to fix things, to make everything better (probably to stop me from complaining).

My big gripe, as of late, is about how much (or actually, how little) time I’ve had to write. The kind of real, sit down, no kids tugging at my sleeve or screaming in the background, time. Quiet time. So...I complained. And my wonderfully sweet, and well-meaning, husband decided to help me out.

He took the kids to basketball, he did the dishes, and he attempted to do the laundry. And herein lies the rub. I say “attempted” because, as flattered as I am that he thinks I’m actually that small, I find it extremely difficult to fit into my seven year old’s teeny-tiny (size XXS) panties when he inevitably puts them into my underwear drawer.

Plus, they totally pinch and ride.

And frankly, too-small Barbie briefs are never a good look for any woman over, say, 30.

So, thanks honey, but I’ll take care of the laundry from here on out!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Agents, Reviewers, and Books...

I know this blog hasn’t been about writing lately (ya know, considering the title and all), but that won’t be the case forever. I promise. Lately, I feel like a racehorse waiting for the starting gates to open. I’m ready, I’m just waiting to be told to go.

In the meantime, I do have some writery (no coffee = made up words) stuff to talk about.

First, here are some of my favorite new blog discoveries:

These are some great agent sites. Nathan Bransford and BookEnds, LLC, both of which have an abundance of information on writing query letters (which every writer can use help with), how to shop for an agent, what agents are looking for, the process they go through in looking for clients, and all kinds of good publishing industry information. These are just all around fantastic sites for any writer, at any stage of the game!

The second sites are these amazing teen reader blogs that I’ve stumbled across. They are amazing, and these are just two of my favorites so far, Reviewer X and YA Book Realm. These are smart, sometimes sharp-tongued, well-read, and just down right brilliant girls who review Young Adult books online. Damn, I wish I’d been as articulate as they are at their ages! (I’m a little bit afraid of Reviewer X, but I secretly want to be her when I grow up).

There are so many of these great sites out there (and reviewers of all ages), like Em’s Bookshelf, Presenting Lenore, and Young Adult Book Bloggers, just to name a few. Check them out!

And lastly, speaking of books, I am anxiously awaiting my shipment of The Emerald Tablet by PJ Hoover from Amazon. I cannot wait to get my hands on this Middle Grade fantasy adventure to read with (or without) my daughter. After reading all the reviews, I know this is going to be a great book! You should pop on over to Amazon and order one for those 8-14 year olds in your life. Did that sound like a plug? Umm, yeah…

I’m currently reading, Lament by Maggie Stiefvater, and so far I’m really into it. Unfortunately, I have far less time for reading lately then I would like. Ugh, kids! Do they really need to be fed?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Out of the Mouths of Teens

Technology is taking over our world.

Seriously. And I think it’s dumbing us down as it does. I'm starting to believe that it's all part of its evil, evil plan.

So, case in point: My fifteen year old son and I were talking about something he needed to get done, something I wanted done by nine o’clock. (The only out I will give him at this moment is that it was the weekend, when apparently time ceases to exist for people between the ages of thirteen and, well, grown-up). My son, who up until this moment I have considered bright, maybe even brilliant at times, looks at the clock, and then looks at me like I’m stupid and he says, “Mom, relax, it’s only 11:35.”

Now, I’m not sure how this played across my face, but try to picture this…I may have choked on my own tongue, just a little, and then my mouth dropped open. I know I wasn’t laughing (yet) because I was too stunned at that moment to recognize the humor. I shook my head, I think, and said…

(those of you who can tell time will totally appreciate this)

“Dude, it’s 7:55. SEVEN FIFTY-FIVE.” (I said that last part like maybe my formerly bright son had recently inhaled some super glue, killing off a billion or so brain cells).

Picture a standard wall clock here (i.e. not the digital kind). The hands…the little one and the big one…and their placement.

Since when can't our kids tell time on a normal clock? How hard is it to tell which hand is the little one (the one pointing to the seven) and which is the big one? And how in the holy crud did he lose track of over eight hours?

So what did I do? I laughed. I laughed so hard I almost cried. In front of him. And I retold the story to anyone who would listen. In front of him.

And now, I’m blogging about it...and I may even post it on his MySpace page.

Someday, I’ll say, “Remember that time…? That was awesome!!!”

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Through The Eyes Of A Seven Year Old...

Throughout this election season, my daughter has been very excited by the prospect of our nation having its first black president. I’m sure that much of her enthusiasm was learned on the playground at school, and in her classroom, where they’ve been learning all about the election process and have even voted on some of their own issues (like which ice cream is better, strawberry or chocolate). Overall, the elections have been very thrilling for her.

So without discussing our own political views too much in front of her, mostly because there has been some division among our extended family members, we have supported and encouraged her interest, reveling in her unabashed idealism and eagerness. She has been like a breath of fresh air, walking around the house saying things like, “Obama is a stand up guy!” or “Maybe after a black president, we’ll have a woman president.”

This from the girl who went into the school nurse’s offices yesterday to tell the nurse that she has Hepatitis A. I'm not joking, I got a call! So you can understand why I’m impressed when her thought process goes a little deeper.

Last night, at around 8PM Pacific Time, my husband and I called our kids downstairs when we realized that the election was being called. We told them that this was an historic moment, and that someday they would tell their children that they remember where they were when our nation elected an African-American man into our highest office. Our daughter jumped off the coffee table, screaming with glee.

But the best part came later, when I went to tuck her in while she was watching TV in her bedroom. And what, you ask, was she watching???

Wait for it…

My seven year old daughter was watching Barack Obama’s acceptance speech!

Oh, yeah, and she does NOT have Hepatitis A (or any other variety, for that matter). That’s just a rumor.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Too B Ore Knot 2 Bee...

So...I was pondering something the other day (that’s right, people, I ponder!), after reading a post by Eve over at The Disco Mermaids’ site. The question she posed was about who you want to be as a writer, and she gave a great list of certain famous authors and the characteristics of their writing styles.

It got me thinking along another (albeit similar) line…

Given the choice, and assuming that you could do so consciously, which would you rather be…the famous, *rock star* writer who has hordes of frantic followers? You know, the one who lands on the bestseller’s lists every time you put pen to paper, cranking out 1-3 so-so novels every year until, eventually, you can hire “interns” to do the actual writing and you simply sit back and collect royalties checks just by attaching your name to the manuscript?

Or, do you want to be the deeply, poetic, and long-suffering writer (of the Pulitzer Prize winning variety), who is conscientious of pairing each word to form beautifully crafted phrases that make the reader weep from the sheer exultation of your prose, and creating intimately moving pieces of real, ground-breaking literature? Oh, and did I mention that as that writer, you will live in relative obscurity for most of your life, but that future generations will reference your work in their Master’s Dissertations for years (and, many long, years) to come?

So, which would it be? Millions of fans now, in this lifetime, screaming your name and throwing their panties (or boxer briefs, as the case may be) outside of your book signings… or having your name used to describe a style of writing, like Dickensian or Hemmingway-esque?

I don’t know…“Derting-ism” has a certain ring to it, but I kind of like the idea of sipping Pina Coladas on the veranda of my winter home in Maui too!

How 'bout you??

Friday, October 24, 2008

Some Pics From Our CRUSH Weekend...

This is the vineyard, pre-harvest.

My beautiful niece, Emilee, doing her part, and the girls running around.

My brother-in-law, Joe, gathering the harvest.

This was a great event for everyone!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Stop Wine-ing!

It was Crush 2008 this past weekend at my brother-in-law’s vineyard in Oregon. Which, loosely translated, means free labor for the harvest of his grapes. Generally speaking, I am not the first girl you call if you’re looking for manual-labor-type work. My friends know this. My husband knows this. Pretty much everyone knows. But, for Crush, I made an exception. We packed up the kids and headed south for an “adventure”. And, as it turns out, it was.

I liked it. Seriously.

Stop laughing.

There was something about it, something about moving up the rows and clipping fat, ripe clusters of grapes from the vines. It was cathartic. It was Zen. It made me feel really cool. Plus, I was totally racing my husband to see who could gather the most grapes at certain starting and stopping points (even though he didn’t know it). Although the real victim in those particular events was my brother-in-law since I was harvesting leaves, vines, and probably spiders too in an effort to fill my bucket the fastest. Sorry, Joe!

But besides the actual work, there was great food, wine (from previous harvests), all of our nieces and nephews running around, a barn with a warm fire, and perfect, perfect weather! It really was a great experience. And the real payoff is when we each receive a bottle of the exclusive (and dare I say, expensive) boutique-style 2008 Pinot made from the harvest. Oh, did I mention that we get that in 2010? Only two more years to go…

Sounds a bit like a scam to me. I think I’m going to plan Landscape 2008. You guys can all come over and weed and prune for me, and in two years I’ll send over a case of Bud Light. Deal?

No? How about some Corona? Fat Tire Ale? Jagermeister…?

Monday, September 29, 2008

How I Found My Agent...

For a writer, finding an agent can be a very stressful/painful/frustrating process. Most of us don’t send a query letter to our favorite agent on agentquery.com, and get a nice contract back in the mail.

I get a lot of questions about how I found an agent, so I thought I’d talk about how it all happened for me.

First of all, Laura was not my first agent. Years and years (and many dark years…) ago, I went through the querying process with my first novel, which was a horror novel (circa my all-things-Stephen King-phase). This was pre-internet mind you, so the Writer’s Market was my bible. Through a long drawn out process, and many rejection letters later, I managed to snag an agent, which was ginormous! I thought I’d died and gone to literary heaven. I was sure I’d retire rich from my oh-so-superior manuscript which would take the industry by storm.

Alas, despite overcoming that (seemingly insurmountable) hurdle, my book was never published.

I tried several times over the years to rewrite and resubmit my manuscript, and yes, I did find another agent willing to take it on. And again, heartbreakingly, no publishing contract.

Finally, I decided that if I wanted to write, then by-golly I was gonna write! And by then I’d discovered YA (thanks to a very good friend of mine…whose name rhymes with “Schm-aylene”, but really starts with a “G”), and had pretty much fallen head over heels with the whole genre. Plus, with kids in my house 24/7 I had plenty of real-life material to draw from in creating characters and dialogue. Although they’ve banned me from trying out their cool new phrases out loud. Like I'm not down-with-the-411. Whatev!

Anyway, I wrote a YA manuscript and started looking into writer’s conferences.

It just so happened that the BEA (Book Expo of America) would have their annual conference in May, so my husband convinced me to sign up. We decided to make a romantic getaway of it (romantic meaning no kids, of course).

Well, as it happened the conference was at the end of the month, and on May 12th I finished the last revisions of my novel. I eagerly poured through the list of agents who would be at the conference, and was thrilled to see that Laura Rennert, an agent (okay, THE agent) who I had planned to query once I’d completed the YA manuscript, was attending! This was huge for me!!!
So we headed out for Los Angeles, shiny new manuscript in hand (well, not literally, but I had a disk and some sample pages, just in case). As it turns out going to this conference will have been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

In case you’ve never been, here’s how the Pitch Slam at the BEA works:

The agents and editors are placed in conference rooms through the convention center and you are handed a map. You plot out which agents you want to see most, and start with your favorites and move down the list. At each agent/editor, you stand in line with several (a lot!) other nervous writers hoping to snag themselves a contract of some sort. So, when it’s your turn, you have three timed (yes, there is a stop-watch) minutes to pitch your manuscript and then find out whether you’ve gotten the go ahead to send samples in post-conference.

Basically, it’s like speed-dating, but without the cocktails.

So, here’s how my “speed dating” went:

1) Take a Xanax an hour before Pitch Slam starts.
2) Stand in line with Laura Rennert (my #1 choice agent in the country!)
3) Hope the Xanax kicks in soon.
4) Nervously meet Laura, try to stop my voice from sounding like a warbling country crooner. (Remind myself that I’m a cool and confident woman, for God’s sake!).
5) Confuse the words “urban” and “rural”, and then try to smooth over the mistake after she’s gone on to talking about something else.
6) Pitch book, and get the green light to send in five (yes, FIVE) sample chapters!
7) Leave room as calmly as possible before freaking out and calling hubby on cell phone!!!

I pitched to six other agents and editors after Laura, and got five other yes’s and only one “thanks, but no thanks”, which was pretty amazing to me. By the time I left the conference that day, I felt like I’d won the freakin’ lottery!

By the time we were leaving LA, I had already decided I was going to send my sample chapters to Laura first, since she was the agent I really wanted anyway. I waited until the following Monday, and sent the chapters at about 8:00PM that night. That may have been the most nerve-wracking “SEND” button I’ve ever hit.

Three hours later, my husband came racing upstairs to wake me up, telling me that she emailed back and wanted to see the entire manuscript!

What, are you kidding me??? Needless, to say, I did not sleep that night.

The rest is history…

For me anyway, going to that conference was a huge milestone. After Laura contacted me to say she wanted to represent me (another lottery winning moment!!!), I had to email the two agents who still had my Middle Grade manuscript to let them know that I was signing elsewhere. One of them emailed back to say how disappointed they were, since they were planning to offer representation on it, but I’m a firm believer in things happening for a reason.

As for me, I got the agent of my dreams out of the deal!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Comb-overs, Depends, and Other Cool Grown-up Things

Here's a conversation I had with my daughter yesterday...

MY 7 YEAR OLD: Are you gonna get a new car while I'm this old?

ME: No, I don't think so. Why?

MY 7 YEAR OLD (shrugging casually): I was thinking about a car that would make us both happy.

(Keep in mind, we're not in the market for a new car. At all.)

ME (suspiciously): What?

MY 7 YEAR OLD: A convertible!

ME (laughing): I don't think so.

MY 7 YEAR OLD-GOING ON USED CAR SALESMAN (raising her eyebrows now, in her best "what-do-I-have-to-do-to-put-you-in-this-car-today" look): It'll make you feel young.

Nice! So when did my age become an issue? When did feeling younger become a problem that I needed to consider? When did I become a candidate for gold chains and hair plugs?

Isn't 40 supposed to be the new 20?

Am I right? Who's with me?



Is this thing on???

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Too Funny Not to Share...(not for those with a weak stomach)

My seven year old daughter and I were playing "Would you rather...", in which we ask each other silly questions like: "Would you rather go without food for a whole day or drink sour milk?", and then the other person has to choose one of the options.

So my daughter asks me, "Would you rather shoot a bird or eat dog poop?"

I have to add that my daughter is a HUGE animal lover, so to her the answer was simple. Dog poop.

Me, not so much. While I can honestly say that the killing a bird option is pretty horrific, I have to admit that eating dog poop is just...unacceptable.

Although in hindsight, I probably should have lied.

My daughter was so upset when I gave her my answer that she nearly cried. And then she got mad. Really mad. She tried to clarify her question several times, making it clear that she meant that by shooting the bird I would be killing it (as if I hadn't already considered this point). Unfortunately, I didn't change my answer.

As a result, she drew some (lovely) pictures of me:

(Disclaimer: No actual birds were harmed in the drawing of this picture)

The second one was even funnier than the first. This is me eating a big pile of elephant poop (her version of revenge):

(Yes, that's me on my hands and knees. I love the angry drawing!)

I know there are some of you out there who think it's terrible that I found this humorous, but I couldn't help it. It cracked me up!

But next time, I think I'll save the bird.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Chaos Reigns

After five action-packed days, we dropped our two eleven year old nieces (who were visiting from Portland) off yesterday. The house is a mess, our schedules were off, and we ate way too much junk food. So it was the best kind of chaos, like a last minute party before heading back to school next week! One of the girls, while she was asking me about my book, tells me: "I want to be in your book. I want to be a dead girl."

You gotta love a girl with a sense of adventure, right? So it looks like I'll be renaming one of the characters (or rather, victims).

Also, we got the chance to meet our daughter's new 2nd grade teacher for the coming school year. I think she may actually be fourteen years old. Seriously. Sixteen tops. But young is good...lots of energy, new ideas, hasn't had her spirit broken by unruly children. Hopefully my girl won't be the one to crush her. Fingers crossed!

So now that our nieces are gone, it's back to the grindstone. This morning I've gotten as far as opening the Word document for the project I've been working on, and then ignoring it completely to blog. I'm not sure if that considered multi-tasking or procrastination. Or maybe just a touch of ADD (is that catchy?).

Whatever it is, I've got it bad.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Website is Live, People!

I'm very excited to say that the website is now available at www.kimberlyderting.com. The designer did an AMAZING job capturing exactly what I wanted it to be. It's the perfect amount of spooky! We're still working on all the content, and for some reason the links section has been challenging for me...trying to decide how much, or how little, to include.

I feel so...so...virtual!!!

It's Almost Back-to-School Time

As much as I hate to admit it, this year I'm really looking forward to the kids heading back to school. I should say that I'm just concerned for their education and socialization, but really I'm looking forward to the peace and quiet. It'll be nice to write without having to filter out arguments, TV, and interruptions all day long. Not that I mind the occassional "there's nothing to do" or "he's looking at me", but there's a time and place for it...preferably not here, and not ever! In less than two weeks they'll be the teachers' problems. Yeah, public schools!!!

I'm actually really excited for my son, who starts high school this year. I loved high school...I just hope he likes it for different reasons than I did (namely friends, boys, and parties). He can have the friends. That's it.

In other (exciting) news, we got a sneak peak of the new website this week...AND I LOVE IT! I can't wait to get it online. I'm also (barely) learning to navigate the MySpace thing and have even gotten a couple of new friends online. PJ Hoover was my first friend request that wasn't one of my kids. We share the same agent AND she has her first book coming out this fall. How cool is that?

Anyway, time for a coffee refill, my brain is feeling muddled and slow this morning. Maybe it's just me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I Survived the Photo Shoot

Fortunately, my friend was patient, because besides being completely un-photogenic, I also feel stiff and awkward in front of the lens. She offered me wine, but I was afraid that might lead to...Come on, just one more button...

Anyway, she sent over two of the photos for me to check out, and (surprise!) I actually liked them. A lot. At least, I did once I got past the part where I critically picked myself apart.

She did a great job and I can't wait to see the rest!!!

I also began work on my MySpace page yesterday...with the help of my kids of course. Somehow they managed to work together without arguing, which makes me more than a little nervous. It's like they're up to something...

I'll be watching them.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Working on my Website

This has been a daunting task, and one that I've railed against every step of the way. My husband encouraged (ie. pushed) me into getting on this long before I felt like I was ready, or that it was even necessary. I tend to be one of those people who embraces technology somewhat reluctantly (I didn't learn to text until I realized that it was the only way to communicate by cell phone with my kids). I'm not sure it's so much the technology as it is that I'm not a big fan of change. Kind of a creature of habit here.

Anyway, we hired a great web designer, and I spent HOURS pouring through images at gettyimages.com, itstockphoto.com, and literally hundreds of web sites and templates to decide what I like and what I don't. The what I don't like was easy. Nothing pink, girlie, flowery...nothing that says romance writer (not that there's anything wrong with that). What I want is dark, creepy, possibly foresty (if that's even a word)...something that conveys the sense of my YA paranormal thriller. Tough to capture in just an image, but I think we've finally done it! I sent the info over to the designer, along with the tabs I want, some content, and a bio that was much harder to write than I thought it would (or should) have been. And tonight a photog friend of mine is taking some pics for said BIO page...that should be fun, assuming she's providing wine/booze/jello shots!

So, what's next?

You guessed it! A foray into the teen world of MySpace. Something I've more than railed against up until now, mostly because as an adult woman with three kids it makes me feel more creepy-stalkery than hip. (For those of you under thirty, "hip" means cool). Yet another reason I should not be allowed to grace the pages of MySpace.

Maybe I should have said "groovy".

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Meeting Laura Rennert

So, as I was saying before...there we were, waiting for our drinks at Starbucks, and it's pretty much now or never. If I wait, then I'll be kicking myself all day for not just doing it. It's go-time!

I turn to her and introduce myself.

She is completely polite, shaking my hand as I introduce myself, with absolutely no recognition of who I am as she says hello. (I feel like I'm sliding my manuscript beneath the bathroom stall to her. She probably feels the same way.) And then she hears my name...really hears it. As she realizes that I'm one of her clients, she repeats her hello again, but in a completely different (and probably relieved) way. She's enthusiastic to meet me and she talks about my project, making me feel better about infringing on her personal space. It was a great meeting, and the perfect ice breaker before the big agent-client soiree that night.


Besides that fantastic first meeting with my agent, my first class was also great. It was "Up Close at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers" by editor Nancy Conescu.

She was a great speaker, but the part that really got me, was when she talked about the Acquistions process, something I knew very little about.

So here it is in a nutshell from Nancy Conescu:

An editor receives your manuscript and loves it (at least that's what we hope happens). She then takes your manuscript to the editorial meeting, which happens once a week and has 3-5 fellow editors read it. If they all feel the same way as she does, then they have the executive editor/editorial director/publisher read it. If it passes that litmus test, then it goes on to the Acquisitions Board, a meeting that happens generally once a month.

A proposal is prepared in advance for everyone who will attend that meeting, which includes people from finance and budget, marketing, publicity, publishers, etc...basically about 20 (yes, T-W-E-N-T-Y) people involved in the decision making process. Everyone has to be behind the project for them to take it on. If they love it, then they decide whether or not an offer will be made.

I was a little overwhelmed. I'm amazed that anything ever makes it through this process at all.

At the party that night, I had a chance to meet Laura's other clients (who were all fantastic!), including Jay Asher, one-third of the Disco Mermaids, who wrote Thirteen Reasons Why.

Sidenote: I picked up his book this week for vacation, and absolutely LOVE it!!!

Another third of their Terrific Trio represented by Laura, Eve Porinchak (hopefully I got that spelling right), was a lot of fun to hang out with. I wish I could have been there Saturday night to see their costumes!

Friday, August 8, 2008


And let me start by saying that the conference was nearly nearly ruined by a poorly placed can of hairspray (thanks to our friendly neighborhood airport security screeners). Okay, so accidentally putting my (not so small) can of hairspray in my carry-on was my mistake, but come on...have any commercial airliners actually been taken down by a can of ultra-hold hairspray? Forget that it's a discontinued brand that I had to outbid a little old lady in Topeka, Kansas for on eBay (and at the rate I've had to pay for it, it's like liquid gold in a can). Apparently it would have been okay if it was under 4 ounces, but anything over that is, what...lethal?

So, I get to LA and head to the SCBWI conference at the Hyatt Regency downtown sans hairspray (at this point I figure I'll buy some in the hotel gift shop). After all, this was my big chance to meet my agent, Laura Rennert (who I'm sure couldn't pick me out of a crowd, since we'd only met once at this point for three minutes at the Pitch Slam session at the Book Expo of America conference in May. That was when she first requested to see my manuscript). She had arranged a private cocktail get together at the hotel bar that first night for all of her clients attending the conference.

I was more than a little excited for the party. That would be my chance to make a great first impression, since I'd have plenty of time after the day's classes to get freshened up after my early (did I mention EARLY?) morning flight.

But before I registered, I decided to grab a cup of coffee at the lobby Starbucks. Haggard and exhausted, I waited in line and eavesdropped on the conversation starting up in front of me. A man in the line introduced himself to the woman directly in front of me. As she starts talking, I think, is this her? Is this my agent?

Of course it was.

Well, crap. This wasn't how it was supposed to happen. This wasn't supposed to be my great first impression. I decided, almost immediately, not to say anything to her. I'm going to wait until I can check in to my room, get a bite to eat...and hopefully, buy some hairspray.

Unfortunately, she ends up having to wait for the Starbucks people to refill the half-and-half for her drinks while I'm waiting for my latte to arrive. We were suddenly side by side. I turned to her and...

(Check back later to see how this plays out)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Monkey on My Back

So, in the midst of the chaos of trying to organize a week-long family vacation, I've decided to make a quick trip down to LA (yes, they did have a magnitude 5.4 earthquake today) to do the SCBWI Conference this weekend. Something about these conferences (this is my third in as many months) is like crack to me. That, or I'm a glutton for punishment...

At least that's how it feels right now. I made the decision to go last night (the conference starts on Friday), got up this morning and booked my hotel & airfare, shot over a fax with my conference registration, and delayed the start of our vacation by one day. In the meantime, I've got to do laundry, make sure the dog will be taken care of while we're away, and pack for two (back-to-back) trips.


But I'm definitely looking forward to hob-nobbing with the writers, agents, and editors of the children's publishing world. And hopefully something fun (or more likely, embarrassing) will happen that I can share when I get back.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Family Reunions...

There's something about eating other people's food that makes me very happy.

I'm not talking about jabbing my fork into the food on someone else's plate. I'm talking about parties...the kind where everyone brings their favorite dishes to share. So you can imagine that this past weekend, at my husband's family reunion, I was in hog heaven (sadly, I mean that literally...I ate my weight in salads, slaws, and salsas). Someone should have told me to put down the fork and back away slowly...

Meanwhile, on the writing front, I've been working on my latest book (a follow-up to my YA paranormal thriller)...plugging away sans outline, as usual. I'm sure it would make my life much less stressful to have a neatly detailed plan. Unfortunately, I'm just not that person. At least not in my writing. But, (insert drumroll here) over the weekend I finally worked out a crucial detail to keep the story moving along (something I've been hung up on), and even added a new antagonist (I freakin' love writing the bad guys). Everything's coming together beautifully!

Next week, it's off to Lake Coeur D'Alene in Idaho for sun and fun with the kids!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Back from the Pacific Northwest Writer's Conference

Great conference, great classes, great panels...what more could a girl want? Maybe some ice for my aching backside! After sitting (and sitting some more) for three days, all I can say is HOLY CRAP my butt is sore. I know, I know...there are people out there who sit for eight hours a day, five days a week. I'm just not one of them. Plus, I don't have my very own cubicle with a Ziggy poster to make it all worthwhile.

My fave was an impromptu class on World Building, given by the coolest panel of urban fantasy writers (who are probably a little cooler than the rest of us anyway just by virtue of the kick-ass stuff they write). They broke us into little groups and assigned us our very own writer (I got Kat Richardson -- who rocked by the way!) and we got to play author.

I will say, thank God I didn't have to pitch this weekend, so at least I could sit and absorb the knowledge and wisdom from the presenters without feeling like I might throw up in my mouth from nervous tension.