Inspiration

People often ask me how I come up with my stories.
What was my inspiration?
So, I looked back on my recent projects and tried to remember the original spark that ignited each story.
I love learning about history and also the paranormal. In my YA and MG stories I usually try to meld the two together.
A Promise Stitched in Time is the story of a girl looking for inspiration for a painting she needs to complete in order to win a scholarship to a prestigious art school. She goes to her local thrift shop and is drawn to a tweed coat. She brings the coat home and strange things begin to happen. Is the coat haunted or is something else at work?
I remember walking around a thrift store myself, looking at vintage coats and hats and wondering what were the chances of someone being reincarnated and happening upon an object they’d owned in a previous life. Would the object trigger past memories? Wouldn’t it be cool if it did—or would it be too much to handle? What if the object was lost under dire circumstances–perhaps stolen.
Then I remembered reading about two girls who were held prisoner in the attic of the Commandant of Auschwitz. The girls were forced to make clothing (using fabric from the clothes stolen from their people) for the Nazi family. The identity of the girls was never discovered. What if my reincarnated girl was one of those girls imprisoned in that attic? Cool idea, yes? That’s where I started with this story.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about my story inspired by a documentary on coma patients. It’s a freaky idea, but not totally out of the realms of possibility. For that story I actually did some very interesting hands on research.

The Next Big Thing

I was asked by my talented friend, Lisa Amowitz, to participate in this blog tag event detailing what we are all currently working on. Hope you find it interesting!

What is the working title of your book? A Promise Stitched in Time

Where did the idea come from for the book? Inspiration for this story is a bit of Holocaust history I discovered in the book, Nazi Chic. In this work of non-fiction the author reports the story of two women imprisoned in Auschwitz, then enslaved in the attic of the commandant Rudolph Hoess’ villa. The girls were forced, under severe conditions, to make luxurious garments for his wife, Hedwig Hoess. The identity of the girls is unknown. I started thinking about the clothing confiscated by the Nazis. Where did it go? And, what might happen (allow imagination to go wild) if you found an item that belonged to one of these girls in a second hand shop.

What genre does your book fall under? young adult paranormal

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? This was hard. I guess my protagonist, Maggie McConnell, would be played by an older version of Emma Kenney (from the show Shameless), and Taj Mabbibi would be played by Dev Patel (circa Slumdog Millionaire).

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? When a young girl is compelled to buy a tweed coat from a thrift shop, hallucinations and odd dreams lead her to believe the coat may be haunted by a ghost who needs to be heard.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I am represented by my wonderful agent, Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? I’ve been working on and off on this story for a few years. It’s been through quite a few revisions.

Who or What inspired you to write this book? I’ve always been fascinated by the paranormal and wondered what happens to us after we die.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? It’s sweet, sometimes funny, spooky, and leaves the reader with a sense of hope.

I’m tagging:

Suzi Ryan http://ataleoftwosuzies.blogspot.com/

Library Lovin’ Challenge

 Dear Friends,

This is a library-loving blog challenge!

For every commenter on this post between now and April 14th (my birthday!) at 12 pm, I will donate $1 to The Cherry Hill Public Library   http://www.chplnj.org, up to an amount of $ 50  total.

How easy could it be?  You comment, I cough up the money, the libraries get a gift!  If you don’t know what to say in your comment, “I love libraries” will do.

My pledge is “per commenter”—so if a single person leaves 50 comments, that still only counts once!  But you can do more by spreading the word … please link to this post, tweet about it, mention it on Facebook, etc.  You can raise money for additional local libraries by visiting the blogs of others participating in this blog challenge:

http://writerjenn.livejournal.com/

Thanks for your support!

~Coll

Happy Book Birthday!!!!

Today is the book birthday for Keri Mikulski’s new book, 

          

Head Games!

 

 

 Keri and I have been critique partners for years and have shared many highs and lows. I’m so happy for her success!

On with the questions.

1. Tell me about your journey. Did you always want to be an author? What

sparked you to start writing?

I’ve always loved to write, but sadly, I never thought I was smart enough to be a ‘real’ author.  I spent most of my childhood dreaming of becoming a professional softball player. But, when that didn’t pan out I worked as a lifeguard, a secretary, a nurse, a personal trainer, and a teacher, attempting to find myself. But, there was always one constant throughout it all – writing. I wrote constantly. And during this time, little hints of my future were popping up around me. One of my college papers was placed in the university’s archives, I began creating picture books for my niece, and I landed a job teaching reading and writing at a middle school. But, what ultimately sparked my writing was the birth of my daughter. After Kaci was born I felt like I could do anything. I enrolled in a writing course, sold my first article six months later, and set my sites on writing sports fiction for girls.  

2. Your characters seem similiar to what I imagine you were like when

you were younger (sports playing, boy-crazy girls). Yes? Do you base

your characters on real people?

Ha! I love it! You know me so well. :)

Absolutely! Every character I write begins with one characteristic of someone I know and A LOT of imagination. In fact, one of my favorite things to do is place little clues thoughout my books. That way if the person the character is based on reads the book, he or she will know it’s him or her. :)

3. You write for relunctant readers. Are there guidelines you must

follow? Vocab limitations? Sentence structure?

My books are not specifically packaged for ‘reluctant readers’. Therefore, I have no limitations. However, I do receive a ton of emails from reluctant readers.

 4. Will Derek Jeter ever appear in one of your books?

Too funny! I’ve actually written Derek Jeter into every single one of my books – either as a reference, a dream, etc.. I always imagined sending Jeter my books with a note attached to it. Then, he would call me, inviting me to lunch. *sigh* But, poor Derek always gets cut. :(

5. What’s your publicity schedule?

I’m scheduled to present at a bunch of workshops this Spring. I’ll excited to appear at the Delta Kappa Gamma New Jersey State Conference in March, the New Jersey Librarians Conference in May, NJSCBWI in June, and a bunch others. I plan on attending signings at both basketball and softball tournaments this summer. However, right now, most of my time will be devoted to writing Books 4, 5, and 6.

 

6. What are you working on now? When will it come out?

I’m finishing the copyedits for STEALING BASES, the next book in the series. STEALING BASES will hit bookstores on July 7th. :)  

7. Do you have a message for young girls struggling with life and love?

Hmm.. Go with your gut. :) And stay away from boys with lists. :)

Thanks bunches!

Keri :)

Keri Mikulski

http://www.kerimikulski.com

Author of Head Games (Penguin/Razorbill, January 2011)

Author of Stealing Bases (Penguin/Razorbill, July 2011)

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Paying It Forward, Day 8

Today is the final installment of this year’s Paying It Forward blog series.

I hope readers found it helpful. The Rutgers conference is a wonderful event where writers and editors/agents come together to share information. Everyone gathers together for lunch—no segregation! Writers discover agents and editors are real people (not ivory tower dwelling power mongers), and agents and editors are given the opportunity to meet hopeful writers who perhaps will prove to be those elusive diamonds in the rough. The submission period is usually some time in June and acceptance letters are usually sent some time in August. So, talented readers, you have eight months to get your pages ready to submit for possible inclusion in next year’s conference. Mark your calendar!

 Crafted Jewelry by Colleen

Last chance to enter my contest. Follow me on twitter and one new follower will be randomly picked to

 *Remember to always check agent/editors submission guidelines. Some individuals listed below are only accepting queries from conference attendees—and they do check the list. Don’t burn any bridges.

 

 

And now:

Julie Tibbott, Senior Editor, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group. Julie works on MG and YA titles. Some recent books she has edited include Marlene Perez’s Dead Is paranormal mystery series (Dead is the New Black, Dead is a State of Mind, Dead is So Last Year, and Dead Is Just a Rumor), Swoon at Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter, The Bad Queen: Rules and Instructions for Marie Antoinette by Carolyn Meyer, The Clearing by Heather Davis, A Wizard of Mars by Diane Duane, and Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler. Julie is particularly interested in high-concept fiction and projects with series potential.

 

Andrea Tompa, Editor, Candlewick Press. Andrea Tompa has edited books by Joan Carris (Wild Times at the Bed & Biscuit), Dori Chacnas (Don’t Slam the Door!), Kate DiCamillo (The Magician’s Elephant), Megan McDonald (The Sisters Club: Rule of Three), and G. Neri (Ghetto Cowboy). She acquires books for all age groups but is especially looking to increase the diversity of her list, always hoping for more characters who are well-rounded but happen to be non-white, non-straight, non-middle-class, non-thin, and/or non-able-bodied. Will accept submissions for six months after the conference.

 

Christy Webster, Associate Editor, Random House Books for Young Readers. Christy has been at Random House since April 2005. There she edits a variety of formats from baby to YA, both trade and licensed. She is the editor of Anna Maria’s Gift by Janice Shefelman; the Calendar Mysteries series and A to Z Mystery series, both by Ron Roy; upcoming PB Perfect Soup, by Lisa Moser; and upcoming early reader Ducks Go Vroom, by Jane Kohuth. She is particularly interested in PBs, early chapter books and beginning readers. Christy is originally from Maine. Christy will be happy to receive one submission per attendee after the conference.

 

Noa Wheeler, Associate Editor, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. Noa edits books for all formats except original board book. She has recently worked on Charles and Emma by Deborah Heiligman. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jackie Kelly, and The Queen’s Daughter by Susan Coventry. She is mostly drawn to YA and higher-level MG novels, and is particularly interested in fantasy, sci-fi, historical fiction/historical romance, and contemporary stories. She is not looking for PBs with a gross-out factor or religious books. Will accept submissions for six months after the conference.

 

Marietta B. Zacker, Agent, Nancy Gallt Literary Agency (www.nancygallt.com). Marietta has professionally experienced every aspect of children’s books for over 15 years, working with authors, illustrators, publishers, educators and readers. As an agent, she is passionate about bringing those worlds together. She represents authors whose work makes her pause, shiver or laugh out loud and illustrators who add a completely different dimension to the story being told. Marietta approaches her work with the knowledge that there are remarkable books of all genres, targeted to all ages, just waiting to be discovered. Marietta is happy to receive submissions after the conference.

 

 

Happy Writing!

 

Coll

Paying It Forward, Day 7


Day seven!

 

Follow me on twitter (button on the right side of the page). One new follower will win a sparkling piece of jewelry designed by me. Besides writing, I’ve worked as a fine artist and a jewelry designer.

 

*Remember to always check individual submission requirements.

 

Today’s information.

 

Kerry Sparks, Agent, Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. Kerry represents PBs, MG, and YA and is particularly interested in finding romantic YA, school stories, quirky MG, and narratives with a cinematic element. She tends to shy away from werewolves and zombies, but will read anything with a strong voice and compelling characters. Recent sales include debut YA author Jennifer Salvato Doktorski’s Dead Lines about a teen obit writer (Jen queried Kerry after the Rutgers 2009 conference!) and the PB book The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein. Kerry is open to receiving submissions from conference attendees with no time constraints.

 

Joanna Stampfel-Volpe, Agent, Nancy Coffey Literary and Media Representation. Joanna has been with Nancy Coffey Literary and Media Representation for over two years, and she represents all genres of juvenile fiction particularly MG and YA. Her previous sales include The Haunting Emma series (Bloomsbury Children’s) by Lee Nichols, The Duff (Poppy, September 2010) by Kody Keplinger, Divergent (Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins) by Veronica Roth, Sway (Hyperion, Spring 2012) by Amber Turner, and The Rotten Adventures of Zachary Ruthless series (HarperCollins) by Allan Woodrow. Joanna has also sold a number of audio books and has just finished negotiations on her first film option. Joanna is looking for clients who are as enthusiastic about writing and reading as she is, and is currently building her list. When she’s not reading (which is almost never), she enjoys cooking, watching movies, playing Guitar Hero and hanging with her husband and her Chihuahua, PeeWee. Joanna will be open to receiving submissions post-Rutgers.

 

Julie Strauss-Gabel, Associate Publisher, Dutton Children’s Books. Julie’s titles include Printz Medal Winner Looking for Alaska, Printz Honor Book An Abundance of Katherines, and Edgar Award Winner Paper Towns all by John Green; Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan; If I Stay by Gayle Forman; Morris Award Finalist Hold Still by Nina LaCour; The Children’s Choice Award Winning Winnie Years series by Lauren Myracle; and Grace by Elizabeth Scott. Among her upcoming titles are Matched by Ally Condie, A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, and Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma. Julie acquires MG and YA and is drawn to strong, literary voices with commercial appeal. She is probably not the best fit for nonfiction, high fantasy, or historical.

 

Becca Stumpf, Agent, Prospect Agency. Becca joined Prospect Agency in 2006 and is currently looking for adult, YA, and MG literary and commercial fiction, with a special interest in Urban Fantasy/Fantasy/SciFi novels with broad appeal. Becca falls hard for high concept plots that balance drama, wit, and intrigue in equal parts, and has a long-standing weakness for anti-heroes, fringe-dwellers, and the occasional scoundrel…provided such characters are richly drawn and demonstrate some serious soul (and a sense of humor doesn’t hurt!). For more about Becca, check out her agent biography at www.prospectagency.com. Becca will be open to receiving submissions post-Rutgers.

 

Kari Sutherland, Assistant Editor, HarperCollins Children’s Books. Kari focuses primarily on commercial teen fiction—both paranormal and realistic. She co-edited Firelight by Sophie Jordan, and was part of the editorial team for the bestselling Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard. She is currently editing several supernatural projects as well as the next suspenseful mystery series from Sara Shepard, The Lying Game. She is not acquiring PBs or MG fiction, but is interested in YA novels with fresh voices, likeable characters, and compelling plots. While she is not adverse to nonfiction or historical fiction, it would need to have an exciting hook that will appeal to teens and an engaging narrative style. She is a member of Young to Publishing. Kari will be open to receiving submissions for up to six months post-Rutgers.

 

Emily Sylvan Kim, Agent, Prospect Agency. After working at Writers House Literary Agency, Emily founded Prospect Agency in 2005 with the vision of an agency that provided a touchstone for authors, editors, and agents in an ever changing marketplace. The agency has grown to include four agents hailing from diverse publishing backgrounds who represent a variety of material from PB illustrators to edgy YA. Some of the projects Emily represents include 2008 National Book Award Finalist The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp (Knopf), Rocky Road by Rose Kent (Knopf), 2010 YASLA Finalist The Great Wide Sea by Madaline Herlong (Viking), Struts and Frets by Jon Skovron (Abrams), and the upcoming Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs (Walker.) Emily is currently looking for MG and YA novels. She has a special interest in books for boys and novels that have large commercial appeal but lots of literary heart. She will be open to receiving submissions post-Rutgers.

Paying It Forward, Day 6


Day six!

 

Follow me on twitter (button on the right side of the page). One new follower will win a sparkling piece of jewelry designed by me. Besides writing, I’ve worked as a fine artist and a jewelry designer.

 

*Remember to always check individual submission requirements.

 

Today’s information.

 

Emilia Rhodes, Assistant Editor, Simon & Schuster, Simon Pulse. Emilia works on commercial YA fiction at Simon Pulse. She has edited NY Times bestsellers Christopher Pike (Thirst and Remember Me) and Elizabeth Chandler (Kissed by an Angel and Dark Secrets), as well as Dia Reeves, Kelly Keaton, Jason Myers, and Kate Kingsley. Emilia is drawn to dark and twisted stories, both in the paranormal world, and set in reality. She also can’t resist a good romance, and loves new and different voices.

 

Chris Richman, Agent, Upstart Crow Literary. Chris joined Upstart Crow Literary in July of 2009 after cutting his teeth at Firebrand Literary. Several noteworthy clients include Jacqueline West (The Books of Elsewhere) and Matt Myklusch (Jack Blank and the Imagine Nation). Chris is actively building his list, enjoys working with debut writers, and is primarily interested in MG and YA, with a special interest in books for boys, books with unforgettable characters, and high concept material. He is not looking for paranormal romance, books based around supernatural creature such as fairies, vampires, or werewolves, chick-lit, or PBs.

 

Anica Mrose Rissi, Executive Editor, Simon Pulse (note: leaving out mailing address, since I can’t accept submissions). Anica looks for edgy, voice-driven fiction; unexpected or dark humor; smart writing; and characters that she can’t get out of her head. She especially enjoys launching and building the careers of debut novelists. Her acquisitions include Swoon by Nina Malkin, Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood by Eileen Cook, Pure and After the Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy, Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick, Beautiful by Amy Reed, Crash Into Me by Albert Borris, Break by Hannah Moskowitz, Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales, The Hollow by Jessica Verday, and Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card. Simon Pulse is an all-YA imprint, and Anica edits only YA projects. She does not acquire PBs, chapter books, MG, or tween.

 

Holly Root, Literary Agent, Waxman Literary Agency. Holly represents MG and YA fiction. Among her clients are Rachel Hawkins (the Hex Hall series, Disney-Hyperion), Sara Bennett-Wealer (Rival, HarperTeen 2011), Chelsea Campbell (The Rise of Renegade X, Egmont), and Rae Carson (The Princess and the Godstone, Greenwillow 2011. She’s a fan of YA of all stripes—paranormal, realistic contemporary, dystopian, and fantasy (though isn’t the strongest read on issue books or high fantasy). For MG, she loves honest stories with heart and a sense of discovery—and if there’s a dash of magic or a dollop of humor, that’s wonderful too.

 

Adrienne Rosado, Agent, PMA Literary & Film Management, Inc. In her time with PMA, Adrienne has worked on a bit of everything from PBs to YA, but her primary focus is YA. Most recently she has worked with Caridad Ferrer on her newest YA, When the Stars Go Blue. She is also proud to represent Printz and Edgar Allen Poe award-winning author Carol Plum-Ucci. She loves edgy YA fiction, anything with an off-the-beaten path paranormal slant, and literary coming of age. Adrienne attends the London and Frankfurt Book Fairs annually.

 

Sara Sargent, Editorial Assistant, HarperCollins Children’s Books. At the Balzer * Bray imprint of HarperCollins, Sara works on projects ranging from PBs through YA and has worked with such authors as Candace Bushnell, Mo Williams and Doreen Cronin. While open to books for all age ranges, she is particularly interested in MG and YA fiction in the following categories: dystopian, literary romance, and coming-of-age stories. She has recently added 13 Reasons Why, The Hunger Games and Incarceron to her lists of favorite books. Sara will be open to receiving submissions post-Rutgers.

 

Emily Seife, Assistant Editor, Schwartz & Wade Books, Random House Children’s Books. Emily is looking to acquire PBs, MG fiction, and literary YA. She is the editor of the upcoming YA novel The Puzzle Box by McCormick Templeman, about the disappearance of three girls from the campus of an exclusive boarding school; and an upcoming PB by Laurel Snyder, a lyrical retelling of the Passover story. She has worked on books by Anne Isaacs, Polly Horvath, Jill McElmurry, Marisabina Russo, and others. Emily is very interested in well-written, character-driven PBs, and is not looking for science fiction of fantasy. Emily is happy to receive submissions after the conference.

 

Rebecca Short, Editorial Assistant, Random House Children’s Books. Rebecca attended the Columbia Publishing Course in 2008 and began working at Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, immediately afterward. Ms. Short works on MG and YA novels. She has co-edited the upcoming Black Radishes, a suspenseful and poignant MG story of a boy growing up in France during World War II, which will come out in November 2010. She particularly enjoys books with a classic feel and likes MG adventure stories, mysteries, and literary YA. But if the writing is good, she will read anything. Rebecca is happy to receive query letters, synopses, and up to two sample chapters for three months after the conference.

 

 

Paying It Forward Day 5


Day five!

 

It’s always nice to see what has sold and what the professionals are looking for!

 

Follow me on twitter (button on the right side of the page). One new follower will win a sparkling piece of jewelry designed by me. Besides writing, I’ve worked as a fine artist and a jewelry designer.

 

*Remember to always check individual submission requirements.

 

Today’s information.

 

Ammi-Joan Paquette joined the Erin Murphy Literary Agency as an associate agent in early 2009, and placed a dozen manuscripts in her first year. Recent sales include The Monstore, by Tara Lazar (Aladdin, 2012—Yay, Tara!!!!). The Orphan Prince trilogy, by Jennifer Nielson (Scholastic, 2012), and Words in the Dust, by Trent Reedy (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, 2011). Joan represents all forms of children’s and YA literature. She is particularly drawn to a strong lyrical voice, tight plotting, and complex characters. Joan is also the author of The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies (Tanglewood, 2009), as well as the forthcoming PB, Ghost in the House (Candlewick, 2012), and novel, Luchi, Undaunted (Walker, 2011). Joan is happy to look at queries from conference attendees; please use the submission form at http://emliterary.com. There is no time limit on submissions.

 

Annette Pollert, Associate Editor, Simon Pulse. Annette acquires contemporary, commercial teen fiction and the occasional nonfiction title. Working with and editing paranormal romance writers like NYT bestselling author L.J. Smith, Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie, as well as Jeri Smith-Ready, she is always interested in reading manuscripts in that genre that have inventive hooks and distinctive voices. She also enjoys dark, edgy suspense/mysteries, and novels in verse. Annette is interested in books based in—or out—of reality with complicated, engaging protagonists. Make her laugh, make her cry—mesmerize her with your really awesome manuscript! (No high fantasy, please.)

 

Beth Potter, Associate Editor, FSG Books for Young Readers. Beth edits children’s books for all ages, from PBs to YA novels. She is the editor of Annie Glover is Not a Tree Lover by Darleen Bailey Beard and (forthcoming this fall) Ellie Ever by Nancy Ruth Patterson and Edges by Lena Roy. She looks for emotionally resonant, smart, well-crafted YA projects that bridge the commercial and literary worlds by combining stellar writing with an irresistible hook. A few items on her acquisition wish-list are: a really gripping YA murder mystery, a project involving food or cooking or restaurants, and a gorgeously-imagined fairy-tale retelling. On the PB side of things, she’s looking for simple, fun, and funny.

 

Linda Pratt, Agent, Sheldon Fogelman Agency. Linda works with authors ad illustrators in all genres for children. Her clients range from award winners and bestsellers, such as Sharon G. Flake, Denise Brunkus, and Karen Beaumont to rising new talents like YA author and today’s Success Story speaker, Eric Luper (Seth Baumgartner’s Love Manifesto, published June 2010), debut MG novelist, Jane Kelley (Nature Girl, published May 2010), and author/illustrator, Angela Dominguez (Maria Had a Little Llama due out in 2010). Currently Linda is most interested in fiction: strong voices, timeless stories that couple a sense of reality with elements of escapism or otherworldliness, speculative fiction that retains a sense of hope, and characters not seen often or who may be familiar, but are portrayed in a unique way that feels fresh. Linda will be open to receiving submissions post-Rutgers.