Sunday, October 30, 2011

QueryTracker Success Story + an Awesome Giveaway!!!

Photo Courtesy of e calamar
I have been drooling over the Query Tracker "Success Stories" ever since I began querying my novel, and I'm beyond thrilled that I now get to post a success story of my very own!  (Apparently, I was Success Story #640; I will remember that number forever!)

Here's a link to my newly-posted success story: An Interview with Lisa Ann Chickos, and thanks again SO much to all of you who have been so instrumental in keeping me sane and positive during this crazy experience.  YOU ARE AMAZING!!

Speaking of amazing, I'd like to take a minute to plug my good friend Allen Walker, who I mention in my interview as one of my beta readers / the best editor EVER. I've known him since the third grade, and my novel literally (literally, literally) wouldn't be here without his incredible editing advice.  He's been with me every step of this process, from that very first phone call where I said, "You know what might be fun? What if this girl joined this beluga whale research team in Alaska, and then some crazy stuff started happening...?"

He helped me through the terrible Act Two lull, talked me out of making my secondary characters into cartoons (specifically Snidely Whiplash, in at least one case), and helped me through every single step of revision until I got this thing as perfect as I could.  More specifically, he helped me become a better writer, and for that, I will be eternally grateful.

Allen is in the process of setting up an online editing service (Blue Fox Studios), and he's agreed to do some free line-editing work for my writerly friends in exchange for some quick testimonials on his brand-new website.  (But ONLY if you like his work... If not, there's no pressure. No strings attached, I promise.)

So... If you mention this blog post and tell him I referred you, he will give free line-edits to the first five people who email him the first 25 pages of their novels. (This is a GREAT deal.  Seriously. Try him out, and I am CONFIDENT you won't be sorry!)

Thanks again for the amazing support all of you have shown me during this crazy submission process; I am SO lucky to have you!!

UPDATE: 10/31/11 @ 12:11pm: Wow! That was quick! Allen has already received emails and samples from five interested folks, so his free critique giveaway is officially closed. Stay tuned, as we may offer this promotion again in the near future, and thanks so much for trusting my recommendation and putting your faith in him. He can't wait to get started, and I can't wait to hear how you like your critiques!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pay It Forward and 7x7 Link Award!

I am so excited to participate in the Pay It Forward Blogfest, courtesy of Dawn Kurtagich's awesome blog shout-out. If you haven't visited Dawn yet, I highly suggest stopping by to say hello. She's an aspiring YA author, represented by Weronika Janczuk, and her life truly reads like an adventure novel. (Think, elephant stampedes at close range and baboons stealing her underwear. I'm not making this stuff up.) Plus, she's just so friendly, approachable and nice. You will love her; I am confident!

Now to the blogfest. The purpose is to introduce others to three bloggers you find awesome. Then attack the list and explore! Find some cool new friends, and discover some great new bloggers to follow.

Here is my list:

1. Rebekah Crane actually lives in Colorado, and we just spent the most hilarious evening drinking wine and cocktails, laughing about the craziness of this submissions process, and generally just laughing. Oh my gosh, it was fantastic, and Bekah is so much fun. She has gotten like 15 full and partial requests for her YA novel so far, and she is perked on the cusp of great things.

2. Dan Brennan is "a mystery, an enigma, and a riddle rolled into one. He’s also a tiny bit pretentious, sorry about that." (Haha!) He's also one of my favorite writerly friends around, and his newest foray is an attempt to simultaneously seek traditional and self-publication (with different projects). His Infinite Circles series is his experiment in self-publishing, and he plans to post his novel, BURNING DAYLIGHT, chapter by chapter on his blog. Chapter One is currently up, and it's really (really, really) good.

3. Peggy Eddleman just got an agent!! She is now represented by Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger, and she absolutely deserves to bask in this happiness. She's thoughtful, she's positive, and every time I visit her site, I am overwhelmed by a burning desire to eat cookies!

(Recipients, feel free to pay others forward on your blog if you'd like, or just sit back and enjoy your new visitors!)

On to my new award, which is the 7x7 Link Award, presented to me by the lovely Girl Parker, who is an aspiring writer, an aspiring photographer, an incredibly sweet and supportive friend, and freaking amazing cook.  (Seriously, just read this post: Date Night, German Chocolate Cake Style. Are you drooling yet?)

The purpose of this award is to ask bloggers to identify their own blog posts in certain categories (to breathe new life into some oldies but goodies). Here are mine:

1. Most Beautiful Post: The Quirks and Idiosyncrasies of Dolphins... Nothing in the world humbles me more than a pod of dolphins, and I posted some fantastic footage of them from Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, in this post. (Okay, this is kind of misleading, because "Most Beautiful Post" implies that I actually wrote something beautiful. But hey, how am I going to compete with a pod of dolphins?)

2. Most Popular Post: Announcing My New Agent...  Yeah, not too surprised about this one. The day Jamie Brenner (and Brianne Mulligan) entered my life was definitely a life changer, and I am so thankful for all the support and words of congratulations everyone shared when I announced my big news.

3. Most Controversial Post: The Hotdog... I love my hometown in Florida more than words can say.  But like most kids from small Southern towns, I didn't always feel this way. I posted this older essay about myself as a teenager because I'm proud of the risks I took while writing it.  But I also posted it with a great deal of trepidation, because the years (and life and wisdom) have pretty much erased every negative feeling I expressed while writing this.

4. Most Helpful: RMFW Lesson #1: Time Management for Busy Writers... This is my first--and currently the only--post in my "Lessons from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers" series.  Life got crazy busy right after this, but I can't wait to continue adding nuggets of wisdom from all the incredible authors I got to meet during my first-ever writers conference.

5. Most Surprisingly Successful: Dolphin Tale Premiers September 23rd!... I think I have excellent timing to thank for the success of this post.  I simply wanted to shout-out that adorable dolphin I remember from my time in Florida, but I didn't expect so many random readers to stumble upon my blog through their Google searches.  (And let's face it, Winter is fantastic.  Once again, how am I going to compete with a dolphin?)

6. Post That Didn't Get The Attention It Deserved AND 7. Post I Am Most Proud Of: The Product of Post-Crash Insomnia... Okay, so I cheated and combined these last two. But I am proud of this post on so many levels. I survived a pretty intense car accident in October of 2010, and I quickly realized the only way I could purge my experience was to write it down. It's gruesome and violent, and I posted it way back in March before I really had any followers, so I'm not surprised it has gone relatively unnoticed until now.  I also understand that many people probably don't want to join in on my car crash, but the writing, the editing and the reading was the only catharsis that actually worked, so I've never been prouder of anything.

And HERE are the five bloggers I would like to bestow with their very own 7x7 Link Awards. (Recipients, right-click the award to save it and post it in your own blogs if you'd like. Then feel free to pass it on to five more worthy bloggers.)

1. Deana Barnhart is hilarious, and she makes such an effort to support other writers by posting interviews, hosting blogfests, and researching great information for all of us to enjoy.  I am very excited to hear which posts she likes best.

2. Jenny Phresh... Okay, I have to admit, I'm posting this selfishly.  I just can't imagine which post the lovely Party Pony would put under "Post I'm Most Proud Of."  If you don't know why I'm so excited, go visit her blog, and then you will know why.

3. Beckah-Rah is dark and hilarious.  Check out this random sample of the first few words that just happen to be on her blog today: "Last night, I dreamed that my sister talked me into going swimming with her at this strip club’s indoor pool, which turned out to have a chemical in it that dissolves your clothing. Then, of course, we saw the pervs watching from the underground pervert rooms. We got out and were promptly man-handled by creepy homeless-looking strip club patrons, and then we got kidnapped by Santa Claus."

4. Audra has a really unique site called "Rediscovering Domesticity," where she shares all sorts of great tips for home life, from fun and easy recipes to budgets to children.  A great resource, and I'd definitely be interested to hear which posts she thinks are most helpful.

5. Perri's "Lesser Apricots" blog is fantastic, because she always posts random song clips, great pictures, and really unique posts. (i.e., These are the subjects that are "near and dear" to her heart: one-hit wonders, lesser apes, rural Florida and other relevant oddball bits.) Can't wait for a "Best-of" list!

That'll do it, folks!  Have a wonderful night!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sea Lion Rescued After Crossing Highway 101 in Burlingame

Here's a crazy story from the San Jose Mercury News about a sea lion that was rescued by The Marine Mammal Center after it crossed a busy highway in Burlingame. (I volunteered for The Marine Mammal Center during the fall of 2005, and it was my very first hands-on marine mammal experience.  An AMAZING organization run mostly by volunteers...  Check out their website here!)

Photo Courtesy of Mike Baird
Sea lion rescued after crossing Highway 101 in Burlingame
By Patrick May
Posted: 10/01/2011 10:52:14 AM PDT
Updated: 10/01/2011 10:48:03 PM PDT

Sluglike, the beast lumbered across Highway 101, vaulting the median barrier, coming to rest on the shoulder of the Broadway exit, dazed and confused and now eight wide traffic lanes away from the bay it apparently emerged from early Saturday.

Not a good place for a sea lion.

Burlingame police got the call shortly before 7 a.m.

Fast Lane Freddy or Bayshore Betty -- take your choice, since the marine mammal's sex remains undetermined -- had somehow scooted up and across the freeway, a beautiful 150-pound blob of Zalophus californianus, now sitting in eucalyptus leaves, wondering to him/herself: "What the heck did I just do?''

"We got between a half-dozen and a dozen calls from motorists saying 'A sea lion just crossed 101!' " said Burlingame police Cpl. Laura Terada. "By the time we got there, he was heading down the ramp actually exiting into Burlingame. Then he sat on a tree stump, just chillin'."

While police discouraged the animal from leaving the scene of a crime (and we have to assume jaycrawling across 101 violates some law or another), volunteers from the Marine Mammal Center in Marin County rode to the rescue. They scooped up the creature with a huge net, then used herding boards to nudge the scofflaw into a carrier crate for the trip to Marin.

The California Highway Patrol shut down the exit for two hours to prevent motorists from injuring the animal and vice versa.

The veterinarians would try to mend the mammal -- it was stressed, and there was apparently damage to its jaw, though police said the sea lion had not been struck by a vehicle.

"I'm thinking it already had a broken jaw and that's why it came out of the water," Terada said. "Maybe he couldn't chew his food, so he came out of the bay and ended up on 101."

Jim Oswald of the Marine Mammal Center said the veterinarians would try to figure out what caused the animal to become disoriented in the first place. He said "they can do an EEG" -- a test that measures and records the electrical activity of the brain -- "and see if there are any signs of epileptic seizures. They can be indicative of toxic algae poisoning, which can disturb the brain and interfere with their navigational skills."

Fortunately, Freddy/Betty undertook his/her highway crossing at an opportune time; rush hour could have been far more problematic, Terada said.

"Luckily, it was early Saturday morning," she said. "I mean, he managed to cross eight lanes of traffic, so it couldn't have been that busy."