Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Molly Marie Tibbets 1997 - 2012

First, I would like to wish all my loyal readers a very Happy Happy Holidays!

I am in the midst of holiday preparations here at home, but I would like to take a moment to honor one of my loyalist of pals, my pooch Molly Marie, who has been with me for fifteen years.

Molly came to live with me in 1999, at one and a half (although, my husband and I were suspicious that she might have been older).  When visiting our local vet to care for my husband's old and ailing cat, we saw a flier on the vet wall advertising a "German Shepherd Mix" in need of a good home, and seen as how we had just purchased our first house, and I am a sucker for all things furry, I begged Hubby to allow me "just a look" at the homeless dog.

From the moment they brought her out I was a lost cause.  Molly, who was called Mama by the vet staff due to the fact that she had just given birth to puppies, had the biggest and brightest brown eyes I had seen on a dog, and she pranced out and came straight to me, ignoring all the other dogs as they walked behind me, and stuck her nose right at mine.

Molly was found alone and abandoned on the streets of Los Angeles, a Mama Dog with no puppies.  The vet staff suspected that someone had taken her puppies and let her loose, and some nice lady had scooped her up, but since she had had no place to keep her, brought her to the vet's office in hopes someone would adopt her.

I wanted to take her home immediately, but the vet staff had to get permission from the "adoptive mom," so we went home without her and waited to hear.  A few hours later, after the vet staff had gotten permission, we went back and brought Mama (who we renamed Molly because I couldn't imagine standing at the back porch and calling, "Mama!") home, and she has proven to be a gift to my entire family.

The first day Molly was with us was a Saturday, and she rewarded our generosity by eating a plate of ground turkey that was defrosting on the kitchen counter for dinner.  After being scolded, Molly slunk off and has not misbehaved once since.

She's been a constant companion to my two daughters, even allowing them to crawl all over her and pull her hair and ears when they were babies, and she never complained an ounce.
She's never bitten a soul.
She's never jumped up or licked a single solitary human being.

In her youth she would bark when the doorbell rang, and often volunteered her dog food to another stray we adopted several years later, Mocha, may Mocha rest in peace.

Molly endured a move to two more houses, the loss of two cats, the addition of another (from our local shelter), and the loss of Mocha (who I believe was truly her best friend), and then the addition of Bella Lugosi, our latest stray doggy family addition, who is rambunctious and hardly gives Molly any peace.

Molly, now fifteen-ish, has severe arthritis in her back hips, a skin infection that will never heal that results in patches of fur and skin falling off at odd places and times, a slew of hot spots and medications, surgery on her butt to remove a tumor, several teeth extractions and cleanings, car rides (which she hates), kids, and grumpy cats who always seemed to push her around, a temporary puppy friend who used to bite her lips until they bled, and an owner (me) who never seems to get her nails clipped often enough.

She has never complained once, and spends her days sleeping beside the kitchen island because her food is stored inside that island in an old popcorn tin.  She doesn't remember to ask to go outside when she needs to go potty.  And her sensitive stomach often leaves her nauseous.

Molly will go to be with the Lord this Friday at noon.
I find myself riddled with extreme guilt for having not cared for her better in her years with my family, as she's always been a great dog and a great friend to my children, but I can no longer allow her suffering to continue.  My last gift to her is freedom from pain.  I wish it felt sufficient.

I urge all my readers to seriously consider adopting pets from shelters, they are truly the most appreciative and loving creatures, and are worth every ounce of trouble.

Farewell to Molly.  As I've always said, "If she were hairless, she'd be the world's most perfect dog."

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Facebook Complicit with Bullying

Very recently, a young fifteen year old girl made a mistake.  She took a partially nude photo of herself, and this photo became public.

Soon, the photo spread.  Her whole school became aware of it, and the teasing was relentless.
She grew so depressed by the constant torment, she started cutting.
She posted a video on YouTube about her struggle - a brave attempt to set things right, and acknowledge her mistakes - but in the end the depression won, and yesterday, this girl took her own life.

I've blogged about teen suicides before because I understand as deeply as any person can, the pain these girls are feeling.

I'm living proof there is life after teen depression, but when you are in the midst of the deepest darkest hole, it's hard to see the faintest speck of light at the end of a very, very long tunnel.  You believe the speck is a figment of your imagination, and something people just tell you about in fairy tales.

This girl made mistakes, but the actions of her classmates and the in-action of the school administrators contributed to this girl's demise.

The best way to combat bullying, is to not stand alone.  And this girl, despite the help of those immediately around her, did not feel the support from the greater part of her community, and lost her battle with the darkness.

An article about this girl's story: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/11/amanda-todd-suicide-bullying_n_1959909.html

This is a sad loss.

Yet still, there are others, who celebrate it.

I came across a page today on Facebook, that showed a picture of the above mentioned girl, and stated that she deserved to die.

"A girl who takes nude photos and shows them her to boyfriend deserves the ridicule."
There were photos of girls hanging from rafters by a noose.  There was a photo of this specific girl with the caption, "She deserved to die," and there was a great much more which I was too disgusted to read.

Several writer friends of mine, as well as myself, posted a link to this hateful Facebook page, and reported it for improper content.

We then Tweeted, and posted, and begged, and reported, and eventually, rejoiced when Facebook took the page down.

I thought, "Finally!  Some decency in this world!  The good guys win."

And then, I got this exact email:


Thanks for your recent report of a potential violation on Facebook. After reviewing your report, we were not able to confirm that the specific page you reported violates Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

Learn more about what we do and don't allow by reviewing the Facebook Community Standards: https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards.


Give us feedback to let us know how we are doing: https://www.facebook.com/survey/take.php?survey_id=242477152482072&cid=236942833100156

Apparently, wishing somebody is dead, and then celebrating their suicide, is not in violation of the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, because being a indecent human being without a soul and a shread of empathy isn't what Facebook considers wrong.

How about a violation to the human race?!?!

I am disgusted, outraged, thoroughly perplexed and at a total and complete loss.

I'm going to take that survey link and let Facebook know exactly how I feel about them, and I hope you do too.

Hate towards girls, or any suffering soul of the human race, deserves compassion, love, support, and help...NOT torment, shame, bullying, and in Facebook's case - utter and complete complicity.

You know what's worse than a bully?
The person who stands there, and watches the bullying, and does nothing.

Shame on you, Facebook.
Shame. On. You.

Monday, September 10, 2012

How I Got My Agent the Old Fashioned Way

Someone asked - and I shall provide...

A few years back I was querying agents off a list I found on Query Tracker, but since the book I was querying broke several "unwritten" rules of YA (ex. 12 y/o protag, novella length), none of the agents wanted to touch it (understandably).

Flash forward a year later and I had written the first half of a YA Speculative Fiction.  I entered it in an SCBWI Writer's Day content and won 2nd place.  I was totally blown away.  I went home and finished it a few months later, and tried to query a few more agents, 10 total, but all of them passed.

I gave up and resigned myself to thinking I would digital publish the spec fiction like I had two previous works, until I got together with two writer friends who encouraged me to try again.

One of them actually said,  "How many agents did you query?"
When I said, "About a dozen," she almost spit in my face laughing.

I went home and thought and thought about it, and figured, what the hell?
I accumulated a list of agents based on Writers Market, writer friends, Twitter feeds, and QueryTracker.  I only looked for agents who repp'd my category of YA, and ones I liked personally.  You can find this information on their biographies on their agency websites, and by Googling their name.  Scads of interviews and articles pop up.

It would take me an hour of reading and searching before I decided to query that particular agent.  This served to help me out once the responses came in.

Truth be told, I figured I had nothing to lose.  So in my query, I was as brutally honest as I could be.  I didn't use flowery impressive language, I didn't blow smoke up the agent's ass.  I readily admitted in the query that I tend to write dark, edgy stuff that doesn't necessarily follow all the "rules" of YA, but I had won 2nd place in an SCBWI Writer's Day contest, and wouldn't they like to read it?  That way, if the agent didn't want dark and edgy stuff that broke the mold, they'd pass right off the bat and save us both time and heart ache.

Funny enough, this approach got a good response.
Whereas with the previous book I got exactly ONE request for a partial (out of 115 queries), this particular book was receiving requests for partials and fulls about half the time (78 queries total).  I had to create a spread sheet to keep track of where it was and when.

Then, when agents passed, I'd send out another batch of query letters so I always had 10 in circulation, plus the fulls and partial submissions (at one point I had 12 full subs out).

I received one nibble (got contacted by an agent who wanted the outlines for book 2 and 3 and then passed), and another who said she'd offer rep if I rewrote the whole thing, changing to concept completely.  And I actually wrote several revisions for another agent who was non-committal, but gave such great notes I kept doing the revisions just to see if I could indeed make the book better.

When the time came that I received my first offer of representation, I took the time in order to contact every agent that had the full or partial and gave them a deadline of one week.  Most of them backed out.

But two more agents made offers after that, and one legendary agent actually sent me a long email giving me advice on the re-write, which she didn't have to do, but did anyway, regardless of the fact she wasn't going to offer rep.  She apparently "liked" me.  Huh!

I guess my point is this: honesty.  I didn't mince words.  I used a paragraph teaser instead of a full summary, and I told them right off the bat I had two other books previously digitally published, so if that scared them off, it would do so early.

All said and done my agent is absolutely the right fit for me personally and professionally, and I think this was because I didn't try to impress the agents, I didn't try to trick them with smoke and mirrors - I just told the truth.

"Hey, this is me.  Take it or leave it."

For more about the querying process visit this previous post: Query Letters for Beginners

And for those morbidly curious, here's my query letter:

Dear [Insert Name of Agent],

At an SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) Los Angeles Chapter Writer's Day in April, 2011, my YA Speculative Fiction entitled, "The Line" won 2nd place in the writing contest.  I can't tell you how much this shocked me. I wrote "The Line" breaking every "rule" about YA I could think of, and in so doing, I somehow got recognized.  I found this both odd and encouraging at the same time.

"The Line" is controversial, it's racy, it uses the F-bomb, and it's unlike anything I've seen in YA; so I understand if it's not your cup of tea, but since my book to film agent Joel Gotler of Joel Gotler Associates recommended I obtain a Lit Agent for it, and  [insert reason why this agent would like it], I'm wondering if you would consider representing it.  

'The Line' Teaser:
The Line is a government institution where unwanted girls are sold into slavery. When Naya is retired off The Line, she is given a choice.  Find someone to replace her, or they will take her unborn babies.  Not much of a choice for a former sex slave.  Hundreds of years in the future, the world does not offer many opportunities for a seventeen year old with no skills, no friends, and no memory of her birth family.  Naya finds a girl willing to take her place on The Line, but finds she isn’t willing to turn her over.  Plan B.  Only after meeting a young man, Ric Bennett, and his team of resistance fighters, does Naya understand what she needs to do.  Now, Naya will risk everything to break The Line.

'The Line' is currently 73,000 words. Below you will find the [insert specs] of "The Line" to help with your consideration.

A little about myself:
I'm an Indie author of a Young Adult Fantasy novella The Beast Call with small but steady sales.  After years of writing for children's television, I now work part time editing for a digital publishing company and am currently writing the sequel to the novella. I blog, I Tweet, I FB and I am a self-promoting fiend.  I need a champion, however, in order to get my work deeper into the mass market, and I'm hoping you might be [s/he], and I further hope the book to do it is "The Line."

If this interests you, please let me know.
I appreciate your time in reading this email and I look forward to your response.

Anne Tibbets


Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Second Draft Dance


My Supernatural Mystery, "The Occupant," a YA "ghost story" is finished!
::Do a little dance, Make a little love, Get down tonight!::

Well, it's sort of done.

There's no such thing anymore, to me, as a "finished" book.
I don't EVER finish one, I just abandon it.

As of now, "The Occupant" lies in wait while my very busy agent works her tail off submitting my speculative novel "The Line," and I doubt giving me notes on "the next book" is high on her priority list, and since I've done all I can do to it, at present, I'm actually at a loss.  I have nothing to work on!

I have the idea for the sequel to "The Occupant" in my head, and I suppose I could take a week (or two) and hammer that out into an outline, but honestly, Bree (my agent) could read "The Occupant" and hate the damn thing and tell me it's garbage and that she doesn't think it will sell (I highly doubt she'd say that, but you never know!) so why would I spend my valuable time writing out an outline to a book that there might never be a sequel to?

It's late.  Forgive my poor grammar.

Anyway, I'm not going to do that - at least that's my thoughts as of now, and I completely reserve the right to change my mind at any given moment.  But, the plan for now is to take the rest of the week "off" from writing and stew in my creative juices.

What do I want to write next?

This is a HUGE question.
And since nothing comes to mind, just now, I'm going to sleep.

Maybe I'll dream my next book?
Hey!  It worked for Stephenie Meyer!
Why not me?

Friday, August 31, 2012

Unbreak My Heart

I know this is going to make me sound completely mental - but I've recently discovered Doctor Who streaming on Netflix and I'm in the middle of a Doctor Who addiction.

Well, at least I was.

A Little History:
Once upon a time a little girl (me) with thick ugly glasses, shaggy unruly hair, and an obsession with books used to watch cartoons after school every day.  Then one day a Japanese cartoon called "Robotech" aired, which was in essence, a Japanese soap opera in space with English dubbed over.  I was addicted!  I watched this show religiously and then went to school and obsessed about it with my friends.

It was my very first TV/Book addiction, and I've had a few - but this one wrecked me, and I'll tell you why.  Because at the end of the first season of Robotech, the crew of the human "mother ship" sacrificed themselves in order to save the remainder of the humans from evil invading aliens and I sobbed, and sobbed, and sobbed FOR DAYS.  The one shining light of hope was the fact that the second in command of the ship, Lisa, had somehow been shoved into an escape pod by the captain just before it exploded.  Never mind the fact this was completely implausible (hey - it's a Sci-Fi cartoon soap opera!), but she was able to survive and live happily ever after with her fighter pilot boyfriend, and it was the only solace I took from the end of that first season (which I still dream about to this day).

I was 9.
I told no one in my family about my grief.  Not a soul.  They had no idea why I was in such a deep dark depression, and frankly, I'm not even sure they noticed.

In fact, when season 2 and 3 of Robotech aired, I hardly watched it - I was so unwilling to invest my heart and soul in a show that had pulled my heart strings right out of my chest.

Years passed - I moved on.

Skip Ahead Almost Thirty Years:

Me: fully recovered, watching Doctor Who.  No problem!  I haven't been obsessively heart broken over fake characters in almost three decades, I'm safe!  In fact, I even managed to survive my Harry Potter obsession without being emotionally scarred by having several secondary characters croak, and I even managed to muddle through a Game of Thrones obsession without breaking my heart, even after every last one of my favorite characters died (Thanks for that George RR Martin).

But Doctor Who...
Sci-Fi alien dude and side-kick chick travel the universe and time continuum on a world wind adventure.  There's self-sacrifice (usually by guest characters), and a budding romance between said alien, The Doctor, and his gal-pal, a 19 year old human named Rose.

They have lots of fun together!

In fact, they frolic through time and space and are so freaking adorable I start skimming episodes just so I can see them laugh together and have adventures.  It's only a TV show, but somehow I'm also going through Pinterest and watching fan-made videos of them on YouTube, and then I find out that the Rose character is written out of the show, and I'm like, "Wow, I wonder how the writers handle that?"  I'm a writer, after all, I've killed off characters before - I've written for TV, I GET it.  Actors leave, shows grow stale. It happens.  No biggie.

Skip ahead to me, watching an episode where not only is there self-sacrifice in order to protect the remaining human race from the invading aliens, but the girl and the guy don't even get each other as solace. And then it ends!

Me: bawling my eyeballs out, sobbing uncontrollably (Thank GOD my husband was out of town or he would have had me committed), and I AM HEART BROKEN BEYOND REPAIR.

Over a TV show, for God's sake!

This hasn't happened since I was 9!

I'm a grown woman with a wonderful life, and a great family and I'm destroyed over Rose and The Doctor not being able to be together.
It's ridiculous!

Skip ahead a few seasons of Doctor Who and the producers manage to give Rose a humanized clone of The Doctor in order to appease my ruptured heart, but it's not the same thing - they cheated.
They really, really did.  It's not him - I don't care if he does tell her he loves her!

Friends tell me that later on, Doctor Who is just as great, if not better.  There are more side-kicks, each wonderful for a whole bunch of other reasons, but my heart can't take it - like season 2 and 3 of Robotech I cannot emotionally invest in new characters.  They'll be taken from me too, I bet.  
Can't do. Just can't.

You can't make me.
((Plugs my ears and dances around in circles))
La, la, la, la, la, la, la!

I'm pitiful, pathetic, and sad.
Depressed even.
Over a freaking TV show.

I've been so clingy even my Vulcan husband noticed I was acting strange.

Ack - I'm getting emotional just writing about it now!
Pardon me while I go cry and order Tardis memorabilia off Etsy.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Savvy Self-Marketer Basics

Having released a few "indie" titles myself, I have learned a thing or two about self-marketing a book.
I have no magic formula, and I'm no expert - but perhaps you might find my suggestions helpful.

1) Facebook Professional Page
 - If you don't have an "Author" page on Facebook yet, you should make one, even if your book isn't out in the marketplace yet.  Share it with your friends on your personal page and beg for 'Likes,' just to get the ball rolling.  Be sure to have links to your blog and/or website visible without having to click anything else (like in the 'About' section just under your picture).  Do not post pics of your kids.  Do not post personal comments about how much you hate going to the dentist.  Keep this page strictly for announcements of book signings, trailers, school appearances, etc.  In my personal experience, the more you post, the more your 'Likers' get annoyed and 'Unlike' you, so keep it to the bare necessities.  Unless, of course, you're George Takai - then post every twenty minutes because he's fricking hilarious.

Once your book is released, splurge a couple hundred dollars on a Facebook Ad which directs clicks to your FB Author Page, you'll get a fair amount of 'Likes,' and create attention for your book.  Do not, however, have continuous Ads on FB, as it's expensive, and doesn't guarantee sales increases.  My advice?  Run an Ad a week every month for the first three months after your book is released then see what happens.  It may take off, it may not.

2) GoodReads.com
- When I released 'Shut Up' I had two GoodReads.com giveaways two months apart.  This created quite a lot of attention on that particular site, and my 'To Read' numbers climbed dramatically during each contest.  I gave away 10 autographed copies each time (on my own dime) and posted links to the Giveaway on my FB page, my blog, and on Twitter.  I received quite a few positive reviews on that website from the giveaways and feel it was totally worth the expense.

The other expense on GoodReads is their inexpensive Advertising sales, which shows your book cover and a short description on the side bars of GoodReads.com.  Again, cheap and effective.

The one word of advice I will administer is this: DON'T RESPOND TO REVIEWS OF YOUR BOOK!  Even if it's positive.  Amongst the bloggers and reviewers, author responses (even "liking" a positive review) can be seen as a manipulation of the system, and is generally frowned upon.  So my advice is to advertise, giveaway and go silent as the grave.

3) Book Bloggers
- There are a great many book bloggers these days.  A lot. Google 'Book Review Websites' and gawk away.  It's insane.
When I released both my books I contacted bloggers individually and asked if they would be willing to accept a free copy of my book in exchange for an honest review, a lot of them accepted.  This was all on my own dime, again.  Mind you, not everyone who accepted a free copy of my book posted a review.  Not only that, you might not like the review they give you if they do post one.  There are no guarantees.
Pick your reviewers very carefully in the beginning, and get as many as you can from blogs with over 200 followers.  The more followers, the more people who are going to see this review.  In the beginning of my self-marketing push for my first book, I got a lot of bloggers who were willing to accept my book and a lot of them gave excellent reviews, but since their blog was practically unheard of, it wasn't exactly a magic formula to increasing awareness of my work.  So, not to sound like that old knight in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, but, choose wisely.

4) Twitter
Twitter is great fun, and very popular amongst adults - but if you are a YAish author, like me, not many teens are using it.  Mostly teens are using instagram - which I have yet to figure out.  However, if you want to rub cyber-elbows with other authors, agents, editors, critics, and literary hobknobbers, Twitter can be a great source.  Make an account, Search your genre, the word agent, editor, and author and Follow as many as humanly possible (2,000) until they cut you off.  Give it a few days, and then go to JustUnFollow.com and use that program (it's free!) to unFollow anyone who is not following you back (although, I follow a slew of editors who don't follow me, just because I like stalking editors, teehee),  then search again and Follow some other editors, authors and agents, and eventually, your Followers will grow.  Keep your Tweets witty, relevant, and don't spam links to your book every other hour.  Once a day in the beginning of your release, once a week after a month or two, and then after three months - give it a rest, because nobody cares anymore.  #truth
Don't be a troll.
No bashing the business you are trying to break into.
Don't send creepy messages or queries in Direct Messages to agents and/or editors you want to read your book.
Don't bash other author's work, unless you are prepared never to work with that agent and/or publishing house when your time comes.
Be supportive.
If you wish to send angry Tweets about your cheating no-good ex-boyfriend, keep it vague and don't name names.  The internet is permanent and so is anything you Tweet.
Be smart.

5) Blog
I think this one is a little obvious, so I'm not going to spend too much time on this one.
Get a blog.  Blog at least once a week.  Have links to your Twitter and Facebook page.  Occasionally, write a post about how to self-market, and then post a link to that post to create more blog traffic. ;)

Again, same as Twitter.
Don't be a troll.
Unless, of course, you're Amanda Hocking, in which case being half-troll is acceptable (this is not a bash, this is a reference to her incredibly popular e-book to blockbuster series about a girl who is half-troll, so just relax). :P

6) Website
Apart from your blog where you are writing lengthy posts about your writing process and what-have-you, you should also purchase the url of your name (ie. www.AnneTibbets.com) and use it as a hub to direct people to your blog, your FB page, Twitter, Instagram, and whatever else.
When you get rich and famous you can have it professionally designed, but in the meantime, just get it, spend $5.99 a month on GoDaddy.com and use their template - it's so easy!  And that way, when you are ready, it's already yours to do with as you will.

I hope these ideas are even just a little helpful.
I wish you all the greatest luck and success!

Think I'm wrong?
Think I missed something?
Comment below and let me know!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

So You Think You Can Write...

I've been writing professionally for over a decade, I've learned a thing or two.
Some of these things are random opinions that can't fill an entire blog post.
Here they are, in no particular order:

- In the beginning of your career, do not work with a partner.
             Because you may or may not have to defend your work to your partner, and if you are not confident or well practiced in the execution of your work, you will get bulldozed.
             Just take my word for it.

- Go to conferences and seminars, but mostly, write.
               I have gone to many a seminar and many a conference, and very often I meet people who are there because they "have an idea" for a kid's book, but want to know how to break into the business (in other words, they want to know if actually WRITING the book would be a waste of their time), and they are hoping that they will meet some agent or editor who will hear their idea and jump all over it and they will sell it on the conference room floor.
               Mind you, they haven't even written it yet.  First they want to be sure they can sell it.
               REALITY CHECK: This NEVER HAPPENS!!!
               I have never, never, never, never, never heard of any agent, editor or whoever that has bought an unwritten book from a debut author.  Mind you, once you become say, Stephen King or J.K. Rowling or a celebrity, then your books can be purchased on your name recognition alone, but for us every day schmoes, you have to actually write the book, and you have to write it REALLY well.  The idea could be ground-breaking and the most amazing thing you've ever heard in your life, but if the writing isn't there it doesn't mean jack.
                Writing conferences and seminars are for writers, not for idea-ers.
                Write the damn book.

- No, you do not need to copyright your draft.
                   There has been instances in Hollywood where a screenwriter submits a script to the studio and they pass, and eight months later - WHAMO - the same concept written by a totally different screenwriter is in production and the screenwriter is like, "Wait a second! I'm going to sue the multi-billion-dollar movie studio, trash my reputation, and get buried under hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills just so I can get a post in the Hollywood Reporter that I pitched that project to them first."
                    NEWS FLASH: You cannot own an idea.  You can copyright your script, but in most cases if the 800 lb. gorilla movie studio wants to steal it, they will steal it without remorse because, hey - they're an 800 lb. gorilla.  I'm not saying it's right, I'm saying it's a fact.
                    Unless they took your script word-for-word (and these 800 lb. gorillas are too smart to do that) then you have no case - and why? Because you cannot own an idea.  Just the execution of that idea.
                    But - does this apply to books?
                    Maybe I'm not in the right circles, or maybe big time publishers are more discreet with their stealing, or maybe there isn't stealing going on at all - but I have not once, ever, heard a story about a book getting pitched and passed and then the author suing a few months later.  I'm pretty certain it happens, but I've never seen press to this effect.
                     That's because the big time publisher can easily say, "We pass because we already have something like this is development," and the author has no choice but to believe them.  True or not, this is a fact of business.  Suing a big time publisher without concrete documentation and PROOF is a fool's errand.  Just don't do it.
                      So, my very paranoid writer friends, do you think that getting your manuscript copyrighted with help protect your work?  My very sad and pessimistic point of view is this: Nope.
                     Doesn't matter.  It's a waste of time and money.  If the big time publisher wants to steal your concept and have someone else write it, they will.  Very, very, very rarely and probably never, have I heard of a big time publisher taking someone's exact manuscript and publishing it under a different author's name.  Again, like the 800 lb. Hollywood gorilla, they are too smart for that.
                     Copyright?  Forgettaboutit.
                     HOWEVER, if you feel the absolute NEED to prove you wrote your masterpiece at a certain time, then print a copy, and mail it to yourself, and DON'T OPEN THE PACKAGE.  The postmark will have a date and prove when the MS was written.  It's cheap, it's effective.  If it puts your mind at ease, then go for it, but I'm telling you, honestly, I wouldn't bother.
                    Big time publishers copyright your book for you when it's published to protect you from piracy.  I'm pretty sure they are on our side, and we don't need protection from them - but that's just me.

Again, I hope this advice is somewhat helpful!
Comments are always welcome.
Think I'm wrong?
Let me know.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Well, I guess you could say, I've "arrived."

I came across a Tweet yesterday that posted a link to a free download of "The Beast Call."
Although I'm pleased as punch that people want to read my book, I am a little chagrined at the fact people are downloading it for free.

It's 99 cents people.

Oh, well.
I'd like to make my fair share and buy a gumball - which is about how much I make every time someone buys it.
Don't you want to contribute to my continued dental decay?

A good friend recommended I look at the positive side.
I'm so "wildly popular" I'm being pirated!
Oh goody.

I'm about to go on a quest to see if I can't find free downloads of "Shut Up" too.
Since "Shut Up" is priced higher, I'm actually able to buy a whole sandwich when someone buys that book.

The Soapbox:
Free downloads of books are like free downloads of music.
Someone gets cheated.
It's not good karma, and not good for the arts in general.

Alright, I'm putting my soapbox away, for now.


Ok, done - I promise.


Shutting up now.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

How to Find Crit Partners

Every time I go to a writers conference, many of the speakers will either thank their crit partners for their help in perfecting their manuscript, or give the advice that every writer there should join a critique group.

Crit groups are a tricky beast.  The right crit group can help evolve your work and grow it in places you never knew were lacking.  Bad crit groups can make you defensive, cause stress, and make you doubt you should be a writer at all.

Here's my two cents about how to choose the right crit group.

1) Don't commit right away.
If you are invited to a crit group, be sure to express right off the bat that you are willing to give it a try, but aren't ready to dive right in head first.  Give the group your first ten pages, or the first three chapters of your Work-in-progress (WIP) and see what you get back.  If you like the notes you get back, there's hope yet.  If the notes you get back are not what you are looking for, bow out gracefully, quickly.  There's no point in torturing yourself AND THEM with a bad fit.

2) What makes good notes?
I've tried crit groups that gave notes likes, "I just don't get it," or "This didn't make sense," or similar vague and unhelpful responses.  Good crit notes are specific.  What doesn't make sense?  (Ex. "Why is MC mad here? Need more internal dialogue").  If I can't figure out your notes, how am I supposed to fix what confused you?  Helpful notes tell you what to add, and don't point out what's missing.
Does that make sense?
It's the best way to be helpful and respectful at the same time.
Generally speaking when I get notes I want first and foremost notes on story.  Did it flow?  Did the character's actions make sense?  And this is the one I love the most: how did you feel when you read a certain part of the book?  Did I mention how much I love that note?
Ex. "I'm so pissed off at the MC right now!"
My typical response?  Good!  You're supposed to be!
Ex. "Creepy! I'm glad I'm reading this during the day."
YAY!  It was supposed to be creepy.
This is how the writer knows they are accomplishing what they wanted.  If, however, you have written a love scene and the crit partner notes, "This is hysterical! So funny!" then you know you've missed the mark.
Typos.  Some people might disagree with me here, but if someone finds a typo in my MS, mark it - I want to know.
You don't need to, however, fix all my many punctuation mistakes (maybe one or two examples - I usually have a proof reader go through and fix that after the MS is done), and I hope to God that I am at a stage in my writing career that I don't need crit partners to fix my grammar.
One or two corrections in the whole MS, that's fine - but if your crit partners are finding grammar mistakes in every paragraph, you might want to consider taking a class, or perfecting your craft before joining a crit group.  You won't get an agent or an editor with grammar like that anyhow.  I'm not trying to be cruel, but that's the truth.

3) Personalities.
I one time worked with a crit partner who was smart, articulate, sweet as pie - and made me feel like a complete idiot.  I'm not sure she did it on purpose, but working with her (and this was a long time ago, so I feel safe in admitting this) made me second guess my every word.  She'd complain about things I thought were perfectly fine, and she didn't seem to understand a single word I wrote, as she was always stating, "I just don't get this."  I think it was a combination of bad notes and personality.  Your crit partners should be respectful, and give constructive notes in a polite, but honest way.  You should like your crit partner afterwards.  You shouldn't want to give up writing afterwards, or slit your wrists, or wring their necks.
If you are a sensitive individual and can't take criticism, again, perhaps you should consider another line of work.
For years I stayed away from crit groups thinking that I wasn't emotionally able to handle the criticism until I joined a group last year and got GOOD notes and then I "saw the light."  Not only do I love my crit friends on a professional and emotional level, they are my biggest cheerleaders as well.  My MS was better after they read it and I was and still am so very thankful!
Maybe I had gotten confident enough in my work to take a note, or maybe (and I find this more likely) the other crit reader and I just weren't a good fit.
It happens!
Don't be afraid to say, "This just isn't working for me."
Honestly, my major mistake was not speaking up, and like a good soldier, I tried to make the crit partnership work, when in truth - it was doomed from the beginning.
Again, we were both at fault.
Not being good crit partners doesn't mean you still can't be friends!  But it's also a lot like dating, and you shouldn't date a guy or gal that's going to make you feel worse about yourself.

4) How to Find Them
Go to conferences.  Join message boards.  Follow blogs.  Ask around.  The truth is, you have to be invited to an existing crit group.  I, for years, would ask other people if they were looking for a crit reader and get shot down.  Eventually, after I stopped asking, I was invited to one, and am now lounging in a special cloud in heaven.  Be friendly.  Meet people.  Be open.  Be smart and respectful.  Ask around.  It might not happen right away.  But if you play your cards right, it will happen eventually.  Be patient.  And give good notes so they decide to keep you.  The first time they give you something of theirs to read, it's a test.  Don't blow it.
No pressure.

I hope this is helpful in some way.
As I said before, a bad experience can taint your career for life, but a good one can uplift you to heights you never knew were possible.
Keep searching!
It is SO worth the effort.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Query Letters for Beginners

So, you have a manuscript and you want to get it published...What do you do?

Some might tell you that you should self-publish it - you get to keep more of the royalties, it happens lickity split, and there is the immediate satisfaction of seeing your words available for download and/or print-on-demand paperback.

HOWEVER, unless you want to spend the next year of your life doing nothing but begging people to buy your book, I suggest you try the traditional approach, which involves literary agents, publishers, a lot of waiting, with only the chance of seeing your book on sale in a Barnes and Noble.  Mind you, you'll still be begging, but you won't be the ONLY one begging.  It helps, if only a little.

Me personally, I've tried it both ways.  This post is for those of you determined to break into traditional publishing.

The first step, after writing and rewriting and taking notes from your writer friends and rewriting your manuscript again and again, the FIRST THING you need to do is write a query letter.

Query letters are sent to literary agents.
Literary agents will then work with you to rewrite your manuscript again and then they will submit the manuscript to editors at publishing companies, who will then read it and IF they wish to buy it, they will spend the next six months to a year helping you rewrite it again.

SIDE NOTE: If you haven't noticed, I'm hitting the "writing is rewriting" point very hard, and this is because you never ever truly finish writing a novel.  Never.  You just decide you've rewritten it enough, and then abandon it.  That's the truth.  To get published traditionally YOU WILL REWRITE your book multiple times.  And YOU SHOULD REWRITE it multiple times, and gladly - good lit agents and editors know their biz, listen to them!

Alright, the query.
There is an industry "standard" of what should be in a query, but every agent is different.
Write a template that you will then be able to change and manipulate to follow the individual specifications of each agent - because heaven forbid they should all want the same thing.

Step 1: Know What Your Manuscript's Genre Is
That's horrible grammar, but you get the idea.
Is your book a Young Adult novel?
For example's sake, let's say it is.  That's great, but WHERE in the Young Adult genre does it fit?
Contemporary (Otherwise called Realistic Fiction)?
Romantic comedy?
Science Fiction?
Magical Realism?
Historical Romance?

If you don't know, find out - or your book is a combination of a few, then combine no more than two.
For example, "I would like for you to consider reading my Historical Romance, Martha Washington's Corset."  Paranormal Romance (Twilight). Action/Adventure Dystopian (Hunger Games).  If you don't know what your genre and sub-genre are then the agent is going to know you are a newbie, and above all else agent's want to deal with professionals.  Know your stuff.

Step 2: The Summary Paragraph
Some agents like a beginning, middle and end in their summary paragraph.  Some just want a teaser.
I have had personal effectiveness with a well written teaser.  What would the back cover paragraph of your book be like? Write it.  Try several drafts.  Set up the story, complicate it, then tell the reader what the main character's main objective is, and stop.  Leave out details.  Just give the broad strokes.
Chose your words carefully.  It should not be longer than one paragraph.  No more than five sentences.   Agents are busy.  They read thousands of paragraphs a week. Don't waste their time.  Get to the point and get to it quickly. Then stop.

In your query you should mention WHY you are querying this particular agent.  You should not be blindly sending out queries to every agent listed in Writers Market - you are just setting yourself up for multiple rejections if you do that.
Find a list of agents, either in Writers Market or on QueryTracker.com.  Pick a name.  Then go to that person's agency website and read their bio.  Agents will explain what they love, what they are looking for, what they want to represent.  Don't send them a romance if they say, "I love action adventury thrillers."  If they are looking for something different, they'll say so.  Don't presume to know what they want more than they do.  "Gee, she doesn't have any historicals on her list, maybe she'd like one." NO! If she wanted a historical, she'd list it.  Then, Google the agent's name and read any interview, article, or Tweet they may have given.  Find out what they are like.  If they're snarky and a bit harsh and you are sensitive and cry easily - find someone else.  I'm not joking.  You will be working with this person on your book and taking notes from them, if they have a nasty sense of humor and you're uptight and take offense then look elsewhere.  It's just common sense.
Ok, so you've read their bio, you've read their Tweets and interviews, and they like your genre and sub-genre...THEN and only then should you send them a query.
It used to take me an hour a query - and not because I was writing a new one for each agent, but because I was checking to see if the agent I was researching was a good fit.
Take the time.
Believe me, it's worth it!!

"Dear Agent, I am contacting you in hopes you would like to consider representing my Historical Comedy, Mark Twain's Underwear.  Since you represented Benjamin Franklin's Kite G-String, and requested historical comedies on your agency biography, I thought this would be right up your alley."

Step 4: Your bio.
Short.  Sweet.  Relevant.
Don't list out every award you've ever won since the 6th grade.  They want to hear about your writing, and not much else.  Any recent writing awards, yes - list those.  Truthfully, however, they don't want your life story.  Limit your bio.  Again, a short paragraph, no more than five (5) sentences.  Less, if you can manage it.

"I began my writing career in college where I edited the university literary magazine.  I am a member of SCBWI and received second place in the writing contest on Writers Day, Los Angeles, 2011."
--Something like that.

Step 5: Stats
Agents want to know the word count.  NOT THE PAGE COUNT.  Word count.
They also want to know you've included exactly what they asked for.
99% of agents do not open attachments on emails, so include the first 10 pages (only if they asked for it!) in the bottom of the email, under your query letter.

"John Adams Goes Bald is currently 75,000 words.  Per your submission specifications, I have included the first three chapters and a one page summary in the body of this email."

If they ask for ten pages, send ten pages.
If the page ends in the middle of a sentence, they EXPECT you to include the end of that sentence, no more, no less.

Step 6: The Send Off

"Thank you for your consideration.  I look forward to your response."

Do not call their office.  Do not email once a week and ask if they've read it yet.  Don't bug them at all. In fact, if you don't hear from them in 12 weeks, consider it a "No" and don't bother them again.  If they lost your query, you don't want to work with that agency anyway!

Sign your name and include the links to your blog, Twitter account and Facebook page (if you have one) - and if you don't - you should.

Step 7: Organizing Your Query

Some queries start with the summary paragraph.  Some start with the bio.  Some start with a funny line or comment about the agent and/or agency.  Whatever is your strength, lead with it.

For example, I had a manuscript win 2nd place at an SCBWI Writers Day in April, 2011 and this totally shocked me because I had written a YA Dystopian that was so different than anything I'd seen in YA, I wasn't even sure people would classify it as a YA.  I didn't question the manuscripts genre in the letter, but you can believe I started my query with the fact it had won an award.

If your summary is spectacular, start with that.  If you've been a journalist in your life and you're writing a book about a journalist, lead with that.  Put your best foot forward, you want the agent to read your first paragraph and then be so interested, they keep reading.

Step 7: Hit Send

My method of sending out queries was this: I always had ten letters in circulation.
I sent out ten to agents I had either met, or heard speaking at an event, and waited.  When they got back to me either with a no or a request for pages, I then sent out more alphabetically off QueryTracker.com so I always had ten floating around.

To find my query stats look here:http://writeforcoffee.blogspot.com/2012/05/my-agent-search-stats.html

If you have any questions, or I missed a BIG part of querying that is escaping my brain at present, comment below!

I hope this helps and good luck!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Guest Post on 'Rules' in YA That Need to be Tossed

I did a guest post for Literary Coach Erin Reel's website where I go 'off' on three "rules" in YA lit and why we should toss them in the paper shredder - WOOT!

Here's the link:  http://thelitcoach.net/three-ya-rules-and-why-you-should-break-them/

Leave a comment!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday, June 1, 2012

Video Interview with Anne Tibbets at Learning Ally

OMG I'm such a dork.

But here's a great article and video interview of me from a great organization, Learning Ally (formerly Reading for the Blind) who are going to make SHUT UP into an audio book, available to their 300,000+ members.



Guest Post at Once Upon a Bookcase

Here's a Guest Post I did for Once Upon a Bookcase on the pitfalls of basing a character on yourself!

Link: http://onceuponabookcase.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/guest-post-you-by-anne-tibbets.html

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Agent Search Stats

78 query letters
Rejections: 35
Requests for partial manuscript submission: 4
Requests for full manuscript submission:15
No responses: 30

Queries and/or full submissions pulled back after offer: 12

3 offers of representation

I realize the numbers don't all add up, but most partial requests resulted in a full submission request, and then some read full submissions and rejected - so they were counted more than once.

I'm pleased to announce that I have officially signed on with Bree Ogden of D4EO Literary Agency.

If you are a writer in search of an agent, my advice to you is this...
1) Have a killer query
2) Be professional
3) Research agents before sending a query so you know who you are asking! Don't ask a romance agent to represent your action/adventure - get the idea?
4) If you are getting NO requests for fulls, at all (!) then there is something wrong with your query
5) Don't give up

Original 'Shut Up' Diary Entry from 'Mary' at The Blonde Who Reads

For you fans of 'Shut Up' - here's an original and NEW diary entry from 'Mary' exclusive to The Blonde Who Reads


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Another Mary Lost

Terrible, awful, horrible news out of Minnesota today.
A thirteen year old girl, bullied by classmates, has taken her own life.

I wish there were words I could tell the parents to ease their pain. But there aren't any.
I wish there were words I could give to the bullies, so that they might fully empathize with their victim.  And if they do, I wish I had the words to empathize with them to ease their guilt and shame.

I wish I had been able to talk to this girl, so that she might understand that taking your own life, though it might solve the immediate problem of stopping your emotional pain, it is NOT the only choice.

I feel like I lost a Mary today, and it completely and totally and utterly breaks my heart into a million pieces.

To all those out there that understand this girl's pain, I raise my hand to you in appreciation.
PLEASE - hang in there.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

New Website

When smart people give you advice - you'd be wise to take it.

The advice I heard yesterday?

Have your own website under your actual name.  A cutesy blog title will not cut it.

Therefore, I stayed up last night and activated www.AnneTibbets.com and have even set up a temporary site until a dear friend and computer whiz sets me up in style.
It's good to have good friends.

And it's good to listen to them when they give you sage advice.

Here's the link if you'd like to check it out: www.AnneTibbets.com

Thursday, April 5, 2012

SHUT UP by Anne Tibbets


 YA Contemporary Novella
Mary's older sister, Gwen, has royally screwed up her life.  Not only is Gwen pregnant at seventeen, but she's also decided to marry The Creep who knocked her up.
Now Mary is powerless to stop her family from imploding.  Her parents are freaking out, and to top it off The Creep has a gross fascination with Mary while Gwen enjoys teasing her to tears for sport.
Despite her brother's advice to shut up, Mary can't keep her trap closed and manages to piss off Mom so much it comes to blows.
Mary doesn't know what to do, and all her attempts to get help are rejected.  When she finally plans her escape, she fails to consider how it could destroy them all.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How to Query Book Bloggers for Reviews

I took the day and instead of writing, worked on accumulating more YA book blogs for querying when the time comes for SHUT UP to go live.

For those of you who are YA authors, there's an incredible list at http://yabookblogdirectory.blogspot.com/p/ya-book-blogger-list.html - but some of the blogs are down, some won't take submissions, and some will only read a certain type of genre - so an author who is looking to give away complimentary copies of a book hoping for a review must visit each site individually and figure out what's what.

1) Are they accepting submissions?
If yes, proceed to question #2

2) What genre will they read?
If it's the genre you hope for them to review, proceed to question #3

3) What format?
Paperback? E-book?
Make note of it and proceed to question #4

4) What's the contact information?
Some have an email. Some have a contact form on their website. Some forget to list it.
Make note and proceed to question #5

5) What's their name?
Some list their real name, other list a "pen name," some don't have any listed.

After all this information is accumulated, and your book is available as an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC), write a lovely query letter to the blog and hope for a response.  Like querying agents, if you don't hear back, it's a 'not interested.'

In the query include:
1) How you came across their blog, and something specific you liked about it
2) Your name
3) Your book's name, genre, release date & publisher (if applicable)
4) A brief (brief!) paragraph about you
5) The paragraph from the back of the book
6) (optional) A .jpeg of the cover
7) Links to all your social media sites (ie. Twitter, blog, website, Goodreads.com, Facebook, etc.)
8) Offer a Guest Post for their blog, an author interview, or offer up autographed copies of swag (bookmarks, tee-shirts, handbags, etc.) or copies of the book for giveaways

If your book is not available as an ARC, then you will have to wait until after the book is launched.

Coordinating free e-book copies with your publisher can be tricky, unless they provide you with the various electronic versions.
Kindle = .mobi, or .prc (they both work)
Nook & iPad/iPhone = .epub
Also, be sure to have a .pdf because some Bloggers will ask for that.

Smashwords.com offers free coupon codes, but can only be ordered from the Publisher, and the blogger can then download any version they need from there. But some publishers will not supply a coupon code.
If you are an Indie Author, it can be a little easier obtaining one of these coupon codes.

Coordinating free paperback versions is easier, but more expensive.
Despite what the world thinks, authors do not have unlimited copies of their own books to give away. Yes, we receive a few complimentary copies (usually about 10), but the rest we pay for ourselves.

If the Blogger asks for a paperback, and you don't have any, order one off Amazon.com and ship it to them as a gift.  You'll pay full retail - but figure you'll get at least part of that back in royalties (eventually) and even more so if the blogger posts a positive review which results in sales.

Side Note:
It costs us money.
There's nothing free about it.
Besides, this is how authors make a living.
Support your friend, and buy a copy.
It's just courteous.

Ok, I'm off my soap box now...

If you receive an email response from the Blogger, be sure to send them the format of book that is specified on their blog.
Even then, this does not guarantee they will read it.

Some Bloggers won't post about books they didn't like.
Some Bloggers you won't hear from again.
Some will review and send you the link.
Some will review and not send you the link and you won't find out until it hits Google Alerts.

In my latest run, I personally sent out over 400 Blogger queries, and got a 10% response. This does not include the review requests I received via my PR firm.

I wish you all luck!
Any way you look at it, a good review from a respected Blogger can go a long way to getting attention on your work.
And ultimately, that's all any author wants.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Loglines with Jessica Brody

Apparently, I need to post more often because my blog has dropped off the Google List when you Google my name...That's bad.  I want my blog to be the first thing on the list and not a negative review of The Beast Call (the only negative review!) from a Fantasy blog in the UK.

Um, no.

So I'm going to blog tonight even though I'm coming down from a caffeine and adrenaline high, in the hopes it'll be higher up on the Google list.

I got to meet Jessica Brody.  For those of you unfamiliar with her work, she wrote My Life Undecided amongst others, and no joke, has sold about 9 books to varied publishers, so she knows her stuff.

She taught a class about writing loglines, and how to use a logline to create a "Killer High Concept" that sells itself.

Now, I've been to many a writer's event and was a little skeptical.  Most writers events, in my limited experience, is an author explaining how they made it in 'the biz' which usually has little to no helping value to anybody else, since each person gets their break differently, but a writer friend was going, and I thought, 'What the hell. Maybe I'll hear something new.'

I am so very thankful I went!  There is always something new to learn, and I'd forgotten how very exciting, exhilarating and electric it is to be in a writers room.  That's the 1 thing I miss from my TV days, the writers room.  Spitballing ideas, cracking jokes off each other's punch lines, growing and expanding on each other's ideas...So. COOL!

Anyway, the fact I got to spitball with Jessica Brody made all the difference in the world.  She had clear, concise advise on how to improve my book idea using the logline, was smart, funny, etc. etc., and holy buckets I wish I'd taken this class LAST YEAR because it would have been a hill of beans helpful when I was working on The Line.


So there you have it, I have been stewing about a new YA contemporary idea, and while in the room with all these writers I figured out how to make it sell-able.

So. Darn. Cool.

Now I just need to write the thing.


Monday, January 9, 2012

It's Official When I Say SHUT UP

Hello bull horns, remember me?

Well, I'm following through on my previous threat and I've bitten the bullet, grabbed the bull by the horns, and tooted my own horn.

Premier Digital Publishing has agreed to e-publish another one of my books!


In a few months, SHUT UP, a YA contemporary (excerpts available in this blog!) about a young girl whose family is imploding due to her older sister's teen pregnancy, will hit e-stands everywhere.

NOTE: This is a work of fiction.
Just clarifying.

Now it's off to the numerous people to get ready, and then we are good to go.

This is good news.
And I really needed it today.

Let no one say that wallowing in cookies for lunch never accomplished anything.
What it did do, as failure usually does, is piss me off enough to bite back.