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STRANGE ENCOUNTERS with THE SEER
 
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in lindajsingleton's LiveJournal:

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    Sunday, May 26th, 2013
    8:22 am
    Have you heard my latest news?
    I have picture book sketches!

    Who would have thought that after 2 decades as a YA/MG author, I'm going to have a picture book published?

    I can hardly believe it myself. Of course, it's not like I haven't been learning EVERYTHING about picture books for a very long time. Attending SCBWI conferences means listening to many amazing picture book authors and illustrators. I used to tease that I couldn't write a picture book but I'd learned enough to teach someone else how to write one.

    And then several years ago, magic happened.

    My author BFF Verla Kay and myself were speaking at a school. While I waited for my talk, I sat with kids in the audience and watched her power point presentation. I stared at a photo of Verla as a child building a snow dog. This picture stuck in my mind and the next day it came with words. I scribbled them down on a napkin since I was in a car. (I have learned to always write inspired words when they come--which is usually at night or when I'm driving). I had lots of advice from Verla and other friends as I shaped those words into a picture book. The most insightful advice came from former Tricycle editor, Abi Samoun, who was considering this book until Tricycle closed. She told me I needed to use all four seasons, not just summer and winter. I argued at first -- pointing out there there's a rule of 3 and having 4 main scenes wouldn't work. She assured me it would work.
    And she was right.

    On June 14, 2012, I had a call from my agent telling me I was now a picture book author. Sweet words!!!

    And in March 2014, the book I called SNOW DOG/SAND DOG (title under discussion) will be published by Albert Whitman. YAY!
    Monday, January 7th, 2013
    7:12 am
    Sunday, December 30th, 2012
    9:55 am
    Musings
    The year is almost over, and with my husband retiring early, 2012 has been a wonderful new adventure. We took many trips, near and far, that weren't possible when he had hours of commuting and out of town work. He missed lots of time with our kids and I had to deal with a lot on my own. Now we're enjoying time together -- sometimes not even being in the same room is a joy because we are only a shout away. So my family life is a blessing, and there's not a day that goes by without silent gratitude.

    As for my writing, I had terrible and wonderful things this year. Lots of rewriting, waiting, disappointment and joy. My spin-off to THE SEER series, BURIED: A GOTH GIRL MYSTERY, came out in March which was great! But the best moment was the phone call from my agent on June 14th to announce the sale of my picture book, SNOW DOG-SAND DOG, to Whitman Publishing. I still have the voice mail on my phone. I won't ever delete it.

    Through the ups and downs, I never stopped writing, plotting, dreaming, hoping. When I started writing at age 8, even then I knew this was something special for me. A calling of words to share with the world. And as the writing world changes, widening its arms for paperless stories, I still personally prefer the paper, but am just grateful for readers who say they love my books. Apparently I have a big fan base in Quebec with my translated books, and it's a special joy to hear from those fans.

    So my advice to other writers is to never stop hoping and believing in yourself. If you need encouragement or have a writing question, just email me (ljscheer@yahoo.com). Giving back is part of being a writer. So I'm here, if you need a friend.

    2012 is turning a new page. Have an amazing 2013.
    Regeneration is being reprinted in French Canadian!.
    Wednesday, December 5th, 2012
    6:27 am
    Career Builder & Giveaway: Linda Joy Singleton
    Originally posted by cynleitichsmith at Career Builder & Giveaway: Linda Joy Singleton
    By Cynthia Leitich Smith
    for Cynsations

    Linda Joy Singleton on Linda Joy Singleton: "As a kid, I was always writing. During a two-week school vacation, when I was 14, I challenged myself to write a chapter a day, completing a 200 page manuscript. I kept many of my stories and show them to kids I speak to at school.

    "After high school, life detoured me away from writing, until one day I heard a radio announcement about a college writing workshop which led to my joining a writing group in Sacramento.

    "Two years later, I sold my first book, Almost Twins, to a small publisher.

    "I was thrilled when my dream of being a series author came true when Avon published my first two series: My Sister the Ghost and Cheer Squad. More series followed: Regeneration (Berkley 2000), Strange Encounters (Llewellyn 2004), The Seer (Flux 2004), Dead Girl trilogy (Flux 2008), and my latest book Buried: A Goth Girl Mystery by Linda Joy Singleton (Flux 2012)."

    What lessons have you learned from your years as a professional writer?

    Linda Joy researches Sword Play

    • Writers never stop learning. "Research" is another word for embracing new adventures.
    • Another writer will understand you better than your most supportive friends/family. Who else can understand that joy in a "good" rejection?
    • Take notes. Once I asked a very wise friend why she was handwriting notes at a conference that was being taped. She said it wasn't because she needed the notes, but that the act of writing words on paper helps focus the connection between listening and learning. Writing down information creates a learning path from ears, eyes, heart to hand. Grasping information in a way you can remember later.
    • Read books better than you think you can write. Then you’ll learn to write better.
    • Craft in writing is a concept wrapped in layers of details, rhythm, awareness and study; a fine wine of words that ripens with experience.
    • When rejection flames into anger, never reply to an editor or agent unprofessionally. Wait until the heat of hurt simmers down. Vent to a trusted friend or write down your feelings then destroy the paper. Anger never heals; it's only another rip in a heart.
    • Always say thank you. Gratitude, like a smile, is a gift that keeps on giving. There are no rules. Rules are the figment of someone else's imagination. But there is value in advice, learning and practice. Learn from the wisdom and experiences of others; live by the wisdom and experiences you'll gain along your own journey.
    • There are always exceptions. Like the writer who self-publishes a book that editors assured her no one wants to read---then the book goes on to be a bestseller. Or the writer who gets an agent with his first book who enthusiastically predicts a bestseller, and instead receives poor sales or rejection. Throw the dice and roll with your own career, listening and learning and working hard.
    • Writing is not an easy job--it's satisfying, grueling, fun, amazing, heart-breaking, heart-warming, the worst job ever and the best job ever.
    • Enjoy your writing journey.
    What advice do you have for authors experiencing a career stall?

    Linda Joy, age 7, with Sandy

    • Keep on writing.
    • Be willing to put a manuscripts aside when you love it but the market doesn't. (I have retired about seven manuscripts.)
    • Listen to advice from your writing friends. Doing this has led to new opportunities for me.
    • When rejections hurt, vent in private to your friends, never post it publicly.
    • Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. I've been doing a lot of that this year, and my books have improved.
    • Be flexible and ready to shift your focus and reinvent yourself when an opportunity arises. Change is scary, but often it's just one door closing so you open a door leading to new exciting places.
    • Be grateful for friends, books you love, and for each "Yay!" moment of your career.
    • Pay good fortune forward with critiques, encouragement, mentoring or the gift of a book.

    Cynsational Notes

    Linda Joy Singleton looks forward to the release of Snow Dog/Sand Dog (Albert Whitman).

    Find her on facebook and twitter and see her official author site for a link to a free short story.

    Attention, teachers & librarians! Linda Joy Singleton will send you free bookmarks if you email her at ljscheer@yahoo.com with "Bookmark Request" in the subject line. She'll also offer a free Skype visit to the first teacher (elementary to high school) who emails me.

    Enter to win a one-page synopsis consult, plus a copy of Linda Joy Singleton's synopsis template (usually only available at conferences) from Cynsations at Blogger. Enter here.

    And enter to win a copy of Buried: A Goth Girl Mystery by Linda Joy Singleton (Flux) from Cynsations at Blogger. Author sponsored. U.S. only. Enter here.
    Wednesday, October 24th, 2012
    4:51 pm
    Friday, September 28th, 2012
    4:19 pm
    My Fav Mystery Series and Fav Author
    How many readers can say that they've co-written a book with their favorite author?

    I can. 

    When I was around 8 years old I discovered the delicious mysteries of vintage girl detectives - Nancy Drew, Ginny Gordon, Trixie Belden,  Judy Bolton and many more. My favorites were Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton. When I was 13, I wrote fan letters to both authors, not knowing that Carolyn Keene was a syndicated name and not a real person (I later met Mildred Wirt, the original Carolyn Keene, but that's another story).  So I did not hear back from Nancy Drew's "author." But Margaret Sutton, author of the 38 Judy Bolton mysteries, published from 1932-1967 did write back, a long single-spaced typed letter that I still treasure decades later. I wanted to be a writer and she encouraged me, even showed some of my work to a college class she taught a few years later. She helped me complete my Judy Bolton collection so I was able to read every mystery.

    When I was in my 20's, I visited Margaret (she was in her 80's). She told me of other fans who had started a newsletter called The Whispered Watchword, and I enthusically became part of this group. Through serendipity, I was given the opening chapters to a new Judy Bolton mystery, THE TALKING SNOWMAN, which I was told I could finish if I wanted - and I wanted! I wrote 100 pages in less than 3 weeks, and later edited with Margaret's advice. I self-published this book in 1997, just 4 years before Margaret died at 98. 

    Next week I'm flying to PA for the annual Judy Bolton Days event in Coudersport, where the books were set; fictionaizing a quaint, lovely mountain town. The real events of the town are featured in each Judy Bolton Mystery, and we will be touring the sites, including a broken dam, private homes and a stately mansion. Margaret's family will be there, too. All of the Judy Bolton books have been reprinted by Applewood Books (they did some Nancy Drews, too). It's now possible to own the entire collection in paperback. A new Judy has been written as a project of Margaret's daughter, one of the co-writers my a dear friend and former sister-inlaw. I have already ordered my copy.  The only Judy Bolton book not reprinted by Applewood is the one I still have copies of in my closet, THE TALKING SNOWMAN. 

    We'll get together each evening and share Judy Bolton fun, like a quiz based on the book selected this year, #13 THE NAME ON THE BRACELET, a mystery about switched babies that was published in 1940. Life was much different then, and as I reread this book, I'm struck by how women stayed in the hospital for days after giving birth and the fathers weren't allowed to even see the babies except through glass.  

    While Judy Bolton is my favorite mystery series, I love many other vintage girl series books, and I had fun weaving in titles and references in my THE SEER series. 
    How many can you find? I can make a contest out of this and award the one who finds the most a free book.  Just email me with your answers. I'll keep it open for a few weeks.

    What is your favorite childhood book or series?
    Saturday, September 22nd, 2012
    8:49 am
    A Young Writer Just Asked Me For Writing Advice and...
    A young writer just asked me for writing advice and here's what I wrote back.

    * Read a lot of books that you admire and study skills like dialogue, transitions, layering of details in each scene, pacing, etc. Notice whenever you read something that makes you emotional to learn how to touch the hearts of your future readers.

    * Don't worry about your writing being perfect, just write a first draft then come back for rewriting. Lots of rewriting. I truly believe in the saying that books aren't written, they're rewritten. My books have gone through zillions of rewrites.

    * Don't make the mistake of loving your story so much (like a mother loves her own baby) that you think it's perfect and you rush it out into the world of publishing before its ready. I mean, even exceptional babies take time to learn to walk, talk and sing the ABC song. New writers should take some time to let their words sing and mature into something amazing.

    *  Editors are important. Without them my books would have been error-filled and not as strong. Take the time to build your writing style and skills so editors, agents and readers will fall in love with your work.

    More writing advice for writers here....

    Here's the website: www.LindaJoySingleton.com
    Friday, September 21st, 2012
    2:25 pm
    A NEW BOOK SALE!!!! IN A NEW GENRE FOR ME!
    From Publisher's Marketplace:.

    September 20, 2012
     Children's:
    Picture book 
    Linda Joy Singleton's SNOW DOG, SAND DOG, in which a a girl's imagination does not stop her from loving a dog, well actually 4 dogs, of her very own, to Kristin Ostby at Albert Whitman, by Jill Corcoran at The Herman Agency (World).


    Excuse me while I do a happy dance! Yay! This book was inspired by a photograph of Verla Kay building a snow dog with her sister. The words came quickly, the rewrite slowly and the trip to an offer for publication feels amazing!

    I can hardly believe that a talented artist...maybe someone you know...will be drawing wonderful art based on my words. Isn't that the most fabulous thing? I can hardly wait!

    Oh, and the book is scheduled for Spring 2014.
    Wednesday, August 8th, 2012
    8:30 am

    SPEAKER NOTES FROM AUGUST 2012  SCBWI CONFERENCE.

    This was my 21st SCBWI LA Conference & and the organization's 41st

    I took my notes on my iPad, which is soooo convenient. Love this device!

     Lin Oliver says there are 1,234 attendees; full conference. 46 states. 15 countries.

     Keynote was ARTHUR LEVINE who is always witty and sincere. He said, “Children's books are a reflection of everything I value most dearly.”.

     Also mentioned quote about anticipation being a better tool than surprise.

    He spoke of Harry Potter, saying he won't talk about hype but of the good writing. He made an appearance at a week long Harry Potter camp. Now reading the 2nd book to his own 8 year old son. He published it because of his connection to Harry and how it made him cry when Harry stood in front of the Mirror of Erised.

     TONY DITERLIZZI opened with, "Always have a logjam of ideas...tons of ideas." He showed photo of Albert Einstein, his favorite say, "If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairytales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairytales." The importance of imagination, that's key to me. 

     "Dungeons and Dragons introduced me to a lot of fantasy writing"  He drew lots of fantasy creatures.  SPIDER & FLY was his first NYT bestseller and Caldecott Honor. Asked himself "What would 10 year Tony want that  40 year old Tony can make?" He has a collection of toys from when he was a kid to remind him what it felt like to be a kid. Trying to make books for the kid version of himself.

      SARA SHEPARD opened with, “I'm going to be talking about murders, scandals and lying." Author of PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, book and tv series.

     She was a ghost writer for Alloy, writing books under other names. Wrote about 6 ghosted books. Then she was told to write her own series and created PRETTY LITTLE LIARS. Was sold as 4 books, then another 4. TV show made it go beyond 8 books. Resurrected book with new plotting; reinventing.   

     She has rules about how to keep a mystery series (that's what she consider PLL) going.

    You always have to know who your murderer is before you start out.

    Always incorporate the "red herring."

    Leave a bit to chance.

    Be willing to change like when she had new book offers.                                 

    Outline. Outline. Outline.

    Creates material that will never make it in the scenes (background)                                    
    "I definitely had secrets in my family, and used that."

    Got book deal at age 28, and when PLL came out it wasn't that successful at first, and she was humbled. Although it was optioned nothing happened at first but then she heard people cast and script written. She was like "OMG" because some of the lines are straight from the book. "Whole experience has been kind of bizarre...suddenly on TV." Monday she is going to the set based on the town she made up. "It's a wonderful thing to see the characters on the scene, and pushes me to create better story lines." Sara Shepard, author of PRETTY LITTLE LIARS

    PATRICIA MACLACHLAN opens with, "I'm so sorry I have no scandals or murders...in my books." She added that she’s never written an outline.

    She went on to talk about her life as a writer, including stories of her granddaughters and imaginary friends. Humorous, lovely talk! She says, "Even though we look like adults, we're children."

    DAN GUTMAN admitted he was a reluctant reader and didn't like classics and wanted to write books for kids like himself. He gave a list of tips, mostly humorous and he seemed very comfortable talking, his humor corny in a cute grown-up-kid way. I liked him.

    KAREN CUSHMAN: Pubbed 1st book at age 50. Written 7 books.

     Oens by saying "Use me...stop me in the halls...don't think you're bothering me."

    Collects blogs with helpful hints.

    Karen says to have no rules.

    Be open to surprise. At times stray from our outlines, ask ourselves questions that we don't already know the answers. If you were to respond differently, how would that change the story? When writing our characters we undoubtedly write more than we know.

    "I've often been surprised by something I've written." Karen Cushman,

    She hadn't noticed her birth metaphors in MIDWIVES until others pointed it out.

    Karen says: Read and reread your drafts looking for the surprise...what your story is really about...what you really want to say."

    I am not satisfied with lousy first drafts...go over and over, looking for the surprise.

    "Inspiration often strikes when I am far from my chair and I have to run home to write."

    She reads other writers while writing and she learns a lot (like me!)

    "I suggest you read 100 books like the one you want to write. Read what you love and ask yourself why you love it." Karen Cushman

    CLARE VANDERPOOL won Newbery for Moon Over Manifest Oct/2010 which I got from library and read. Liked it.

    She said: Some highlights in a year and a half, like sitting by Sara Shephard yesterday which impressed her daughter.  Took Clare 16 years to be published.

    Then: started writing at 1994, quit job and raised 4 kids. Had no agent and many rejections.

    Now: Kids out of school for summer & kids in house with friends.  She sits at the table with headphones on with rain sounds to muffle sounds. Showed video of her daughter singing while she's trying to write. But school will come. Now she has agent and editor and published book soon to come out, plus a nice medal.

    RUTA SEPETYS, DIFFERENT SHADES OF GRAY award winning novel.

    Amazing talk, like no other I’ve ever heard.                                                                                                          

     Ruta Sepetys who was blond and gorgeous and opened with her work for American Idol, helping the finalists to pick songs. Then she spoke of how she had a wake-up moment when a finalist asked her about herself and she said she was from Lithuania. But she didn't know anymore, so she researched and found out when her grandfather fled before he would have been executed by Stalin's people, his family left behind was punished, 12 of them sent to Siberia and only 2 surviving. She interviewed, traveled and asked more questions. She got emotional and determined to learn what it was like to survive a prison in Siberia. Then she paused and said she'd been encouraged to tell the rest of her story.

     She heard about a group of college kids researching for a documentary. They wanted a real reenactment and were there for only 24 hours, but they couldn't wear them down over time. She wanted to experience this but was refused. So she offered them money and they agreed. She had to sign papers, and did much to her husband's concern. When she got there, there were lined up and suddenly the first men were beaten. She was terrified and it got worse because they came to her and beat her to, so she fell to the ground and they kicked her, rupturing her disk.

     She paused in her talk to wipe off her tears with her wrist then she continued, admitting how she thought she'd be brave but it took only seconds for her to become terrified and a coward, ignoring a man's gesture for help, just wanting to get away, and glad to be put in a box away from the violence. But when she was put back with the others, one guy reached out to her and offered to help, and this gave her courage to help him, too. She didn't say much more, but obviously she got out and used all this for her book which won awards.

     Afterwards we listened to Deborah Halverson talk about the market, which has improvement with picture books, which I knew already with my agent's sales.

    Sunday, July 22nd, 2012
    9:29 am
    GOTH GIRL #2. CHAPTER 3
    Because I promised, here's the next chapter. I don't know how far I'll go with this, so you'll have to let me know if you want more.

    CHAPTER THREE

    While Jay crosses the street, chillin’ like he’s out for a casual stroll, I’m sweating, slinking into night shadows, staying low as a bug. I only need to pass five houses then cross to the opposite side of the street.  Sounds easy? Not so much. During those seconds when I’m crossing, I’ll be as visible as the red circle on a shooting target. Can I make it without being seen? Not so sure, although I’ll never admit it.

    Slipping behind a thick tree trunk, I glance over at Garth, who has finally ended his lip-lock and is strutting away from the house with a cocky swagger like a soccer star who scored the winning goal. His hasn’t noticed Jay yet, who has stopped walking and stands motionless beneath swaying curtains of willow branches.

     I blink, and Jay is gone.

    Garth pauses on the sidewalk, digging into his pocket and pulling out a key ring. The keys jangle an emergency warning signal to me—hurry! I have to get into covert position before Garth reaches his car.  I peer over to where I last saw Jay. Still no hint of life behind the willow vines. It’s like Jay is made of invisibility.

    A rumbling noise of an engine. Headlights shine down the road--heading my way. If I stand here the beams will mark me like a splash of paint in a paint ball battle. I press up against a tree, waiting for the car to pass and clasping my hands together around the phone like I’m praying. Don’t see me, don’t see me.  I step off the sidewalk close to a tree, crouching down low. Light flashes. A whirl of movement rushes by. I hold my breath and wait the count of ten then peer at the street.

    The car is gone but so is Garth.

    Where did he go?

    I look up and down the street, puzzled because his car is still parked in the same spot. I hear a scraping sound from plastic garbage can in the opposite driveway, and Garth’s head pops up, and I realize he hid from the passing car, too. The cheater afraid of the wrath of a jealous girlfriend.

    Then I get serious because I still have to cross the street. I duck behind the bushes. And I can’t think of any way to do this without Garth seeing me. I watch him pass one house then another until he’s almost to his car. And I’m still not behind the bushes.

    “Hey, Garth!” I hear Jay call out all friendly like he’s greeting one of his pals.

    Garth spins around, so his back is toward me. I have my chance, and I go for it. Darting across the street, focusing on running silent and fast, holding my breath until my lungs burn for air. Only when I dive behind leafy green bushes do I breathe.

    “You know me?”  I hear Garth say in a shaky voice, but I don’t look up. I’m stealthily pushing aside leaves, until I’ve made a hole in the bushes perfect for filming. How do I power up that phone, anyway?

    “The question is—do you know me?” Jay asks in the mocking deep voice of the Grin Reaper. I don’t have to look up to know how he must appear to Garth: all dressed in black except for the yellow smiley face on the back of his knit cap, an air of being tall and powerful, rippling with muscles like he could bend a tire iron like it was a tooth pick.

    I’ve finally got the phone on, and search for the camera app. Okay, there it is on the bottom of the screen. I press for video and a red light flashes. Score!

    Clutching the phone, I aim through the leafy opening at Garth’s back as he faces Jay. Only two dark eyes peer from Jay’s knitted mask.

    “What the hell?” Garth growls.

    “Have fun with your girlfriend?” Jay taunts, stepping closer at an angle that causes Garth to turn, giving me a clear view of his face.

    “None of your…Hey, you‘re that Reaper dude!” Surprise shifts into closed-mouth, narrow-eyed anger. “What do you want?”

    “Just a friendly conversation.” Jay’s voice is smooth; like a fisherman throwing a lure and waiting patiently for his prey to bite.

    “Get out of my way.”

    “I will after we talk.”

    “I got nothing to say to you.”

    “Not even about your friend?” The Reaper pauses. “Newt.”

    “That geek isn’t a friend of mine. G-Get out of here before I call the cops.”

    “That would be my pal Sheriff Hart. Go ahead, call him.”

    “I will!” Garth’s voice rises. “I’ll probably get a reward, too.”

    “Yeah--handcuffs and an uncomfortable ride to jail when I tell him all abut that knife you planted in Newton’s locker.”

    “I did not!” Garth raises his fists but he backs up instead of going after Jay, and it’s obvious he’s all bluster and no spine.

    “You know Newton’s locker combination.”

    Garth frowns. “So what if I do? I wasn’t even near his locker.”

    “Someone saw you,” Jay says accusingly.

    Garth’s mouth falls open then he snaps it shut, glaring at Jay. “You’re lying! Even if I was by his locker, that doesn’t mean anything. That knife came from Newton’s weapon collection.”

    “And you know all about his collection because he used to be your friend. You hung out together all in elementary school. Why turn on him now?”

    “I don’t hang with losers.”

    “Too smart, huh? Makes you look dumb,” Jay says almost sympathetically. “I don’t blame you for hating on him. Why should he have a great future when your only chance for college is a soccer scholarship but your stats aren’t what they used to be. You put the knife in his locker.”

    I crouch down so low I can taste the dirt I’m stirring up, half-sitting as I hold the camera steady for a clear shot at the action. Garth clasps his hands together, fidgeting as if he isn’t sure whether to strike or run. Got to give him credit, though, when he stands his ground. I can’t see his face, but his body language is all stubborn and defiant as he snorts, “You can’t prove anything.”

    “Are you forgetting the witness?”

    “Lies. There wasn’t anything to see.”

    “Want to bet your future on it?” Jay says quietly.

    “Who’s the witness? Prove it, or get the hell out of my face.”

    “I don’t have to prove it…yet. But what I can do is have a nice talk with your girlfriend.” A pause. “About you and Druscilla.”

    “You…You saw that?” He glances over at Druscilla’s house, face paling to a sickly shade of gray like the concrete he’s standing on.

    “And I took photos.” There’s something sexy about Jay’s grin, and I find it hard not to stare through the mask to his dark shining eyes.

    “Don’t show her!” Garth cries. “Please!”

    “If you care so much, why cheat on her?”

    “She’s not the one who scares me—it’s her brothers. They’re on my team and they’ll kill me.”

    “Like you killed Newton’s future?”

    “Don’t worry about him.” Garth spits on the ground, too close to my hiding place. “Newt will do all right, he always does. But I’m toast if Missy Ann’s brothers find out about Dru.” A leaf tickles my cheek and I brush it away, my gaze tight on Garth whose shoulders hunch in defeat. “What do you want?”

    “A confession.”

    “Not gonna happen.” Garth shakes his head. “I’ll get kicked off the team and expelled.”

    “That would really suck for the team." 

    “Yeah,” Garth says quickly like he’s drowning and Jay offered him a floatie. “Is it fair to punish the team—the whole school—because of me?”

    “You have a point.” Jay rubs his chin, thoughtfully. I’m not sure if he’s sincere or acting. He’s that good, and I’m enjoying watching his show.

    “So you’ll go away and forget all about this?” Garth gestures to his second girlfriend’s house.

    Jay nods. “I’m a soccer fan and don’t want our team to lose its best goalie.”

    “So you won’t show Missy Ann the photos?” Garth asks hopefully.

    “I’ll delete them,” he says like a solemn promise.

    “Thanks, man. I owe you.”

    “So tell me how you did it,” Jay says with a hint of admiration. “I can’t figure out how you got into Newton’s house and stole his knife without getting caught.”

    “Easy.” Garth lifts his shoulders, swaggering. “I still have a house key from when I fed his family’s dog when they went on vacation. Newt’s such a geek, his room has all kinds of gaming stuff, dragons, posters and even costumes like he thinks he’s a real super hero. I was in and out with the knife quick.”

    “Why frame him?” Jay asks. “He must have really pissed you off.”

    I grip the camera steady but it’s awkward and my arm cramps. Pain shoots up through my shoulder to my neck. Ouch. Damn. Hurry the hell up, Jay!

    “Everything Newt does pisses me off,” Garth complains in a relaxed tone like he and the Grin Reaper are pals. “He’s always acting so fake and superior, bragging about colleges begging to choose them. He deserved a dose of reality, so I gave it to him.”

    “But how did you make sure he’d get caught?” Jay sounds so impressed that if I didn’t know better I’d believe he a Garth fan. “If I’d found a knife in my locker, I would have ditched it, not wait around for a teacher to find it.”

    “I disguised my voice and made an anonymous report of Newt carrying a knife.”

    “Good thinking,” Jay approves.

    “Yeah. My parents think Newt is the smart one, but I got him good.” Garth tilts his head at Jay. “So we’re good? You won’t tell my girlfriend anything?”

    “Not a word. See ya around.” Jay waves his gloved hand then whirls away. Garth scampers off like a beaten dog, slamming the door of his car and burning rubber as he leaves. Finally! Groaning in relief, I lower my arm as shut off the camera.

    Headlights flash then disappear down the road with Garth. Jay’s car immediately pulls up beside my leafy hide-out. The window rolls down. “Get in,” he calls out to me.

    I don’t hesitate, hurrying into the passenger seat and slamming the door.

    “Get it all?” He whips off his knit cap, tossing it on the dash, grinning.

    “Yeah. Not a bad show.” I toss the camera over to him and he catches it. “Really bold move to confront him.”

    “He almost saw you. When I saw the camera light flashing from the bushes, so I knew I had to keep him facing me.”

    “Thanks.” I rub my arm and pluck a leaf from my hair. “When will you show the video to Garth’s girlfriend?”

    “Never. I told him I wouldn’t.”

     “You also told him there was a witness.” I lean back comfortably in my seat. “Was there?”

    Jay flashes a wicked smile. “There will be tomorrow.”

    I chuckle as I guess where he’s going with this. “You-Tube, right? The link will spread like crazy. By lunch tomorrow it’ll have thousands of hits. Maybe millions.”

    He shakes his head. “If I do that it’ll punish the victim, too.  Newton doesn’t deserve that kind of humiliation.”

    My seat belt digs into me as I twist to stare at him. “So what are you going to do with the video?”

    “Send it to one person.”

    I’m silent for a moment, thinking. Sheriff Hart? Principal Blank? Missy Ann?

    When Jay tells me, I smile.

               Perfect.
    Saturday, July 21st, 2012
    9:44 am
    GOTH GIRL #2. CHAPTER 2
    As requested, I'll add another chapter of the 2nd GOTH GIRL book. This book isn't contracted so may never be published but sometimes it's nice to just write for fun. Besides I'm in a waiting mode, not sure what to start next and hoping for news on a submission close to my heart. So I figure why not share some of Thorn's continuing story with readers who have enjoyed my SEER books.

    If there's still interest, I'll post chapter 3 tomorrow. PS - While I self-edit, this hasn't been professionally edited. I really appreciate all the editors I've worked with. No matter how much I reread something, I usually find a mistake later. Be warned (g).


    GOTH GIRL MYSTERY #2: REAPER

    CHAPTER TWO

                Jay slides down the rope he’s hooked to my balcony and offers to catch me if I fall. But I’m already climbing down, reminding him he’s not the only one with skills. He nods with what I think is respect.

    “This way,” he whispers, gesturing for me to follow.

    We cross through the backyard, staying close to bushes as we hurry away from the three-story ramshackle farm house my family recently moved into. Brittle leaves crackle on the road, shaken from skeletal autumn-dying trees, and a chilly breath of wind moans along the quiet country road. I love the eerie night in its cozy cloak of darkness. It’s no secret black is my favorite color, which some people think that’s a sign I’m into devil worship or other ridiculous assumptions, but black is the most interesting color; unable to reflect light, independent and mysterious; coloring the night when the world seems most alive.

    And I’m feeling more alive than ever, aware of rough pavement beneath my feet, chilly air tingling my face and woodsy smell from burning fireplaces. We travel silently down a road dimly lit by orbs of street lights and a shine of moon through an overcast October sky. I stay close to Jay, my two steps matching each of his longer single strides.

    When we reach a dark-brown sedan, more like something grandparents would drive than a car for a rich high school senior, Jay clicks a button on his key ring.

    “Entrez s’il vous plait.” With a gentlemanly gesture, he opens the door for me.

    As I duck inside the vehicle, his arm brushes my shoulder. Electricity sparks through my body. I glance sharply to read his expression, wondering if he’s jolted too, yet see not even a flicker of emotion. He climbs into the seat, clicking a seat belt and we’re off.

    We drive west, away from the rural area of Nevada Bluff, toward brighter lights of the city. Questions slam my thoughts, about where we’re going and what will happen when we get there. Mostly, though, I wonder why Jay invited me tonight. Is it because he knows I can keep a secret and don’t scare easily? Or could it be something more personal? How does he really feel about me? But this is a question I can never ask.

    Jay turns onto a street with rutted pavement, few working street lights, junk cars for lawn decorations and blocky single-story homes crowded close together.

    I look around, curious. “Where are we going?”

    “To catch a liar,” he says with a light smile but his dark eyes narrow.

    “Anyone I know?” I ask.

    “Garth Calloway.”

    I pause, testing the name through my memory, but I’m a newbie at NB High, only moving from California a few months ago. NB High is too conservative and cowboy for my gothtastic taste but it’s growing on me.

    And so is Jay, I think, giving him a sideways look. No one ever discovered the Grin Reaper’s true identity until I ripped off his mask a few weeks ago. I’m up for revenge as long as Jay doesn’t play rough like when we first met and he shoved me and stole my backpack. Not exactly a “romantic” first meeting. Yet I smile at the memory now. Jay goes to extremes to right wrongs at school all for justice. It’s a coincidence his first name is Justice. Or maybe fate, as my psychic friend Sabine would say.

    “..and then hide with the—Thorn! Are you listening?” Jay demands, glancing at me sharply.

    “Not so much. I was thinking.”

    “Good things about me?” he teases.

    “You wish.” My tone is light but my cheeks burn. “So what did this Garth dude do to deserve a visit from the Grin Reaper?”

    Jay grins—a sight his victims never see thought his trademark knitted mask that covers all but his black eyes. But he’s not wearing his mask now; half of his attention on driving, the other half on me. ”Did you hear about the honor student being expelled for having a knife in his locker?”

    “Who hasn’t? Stupid move for someone who’s supposed to be smart. His future is screwed.”

    “Screwed by Garth.”

    “And you know this, how?” I arch my pierced brow.

    “I never reveal my sources, but I have lots of friends who tell me things and know for a fact Garth did it. The honors kid—Newton Howell—was framed.”

    “Why?”

    Jay shrugs. “Don’t know. Garth is usually cool and a hell of a soccer player.”

    “As if being good at soccer is a personality endorsement?”

    “Clearly you’re not a soccer fan.”

    “I’m not a fan of a jock on a power trip. Garth probably through it was a big laugh putting a knife in Newton’s locker, but in a zero tolerance school, possession of a weapon is serious.”

    “Yeah,” Jay agrees, scowling. “I know Garth did it but I don’t know why. He used to be really tight with Newton—their parents are close friends. But now Garth only hangs out with his soccer pals.”

    “And what about Newton?” I ask.

    “He hangs with no one.”

    “Sad,” I say softly, knowing what it’s like to feel alone.

    Jay nods like he understands loneliness, too, although he’s never alone at school, strutting around like king of the campus with a group of followers nicknamed the Jay-Clones. But I’ve seen the other side of Jay; the do-gooder who tries to even the scales of justice because his father, a corrupt judge, is into payoffs and bribes.

    The car slows into a left turn onto a street with a sign reading “dead end.” Jay parks the car behind a huge motor home then clicks his seat belt.

    “Garth’s in there.” He leans across the street to point at a yellowy house across the street and his brushes against my cheek; soft with a sweet shampoo scent of lemon.

    I suck in a Jay-scented breath, my body tingling in a strangely nice way. Being so close to him, I’m aware of his every move, and I long to be reach for his hand, pull him closer, to touch, to be touched….

    Stop it, Thorn! I tell myself. Need to focus, not on Jay, but on the house he’s pointing to: a rectangular single-story with darkened windows and a yellow porch light shining on a motorcycle. In the driveway, a truck is propped up on blocks; minus tires.

    “That truck’s not going anywhere soon,” I say lightly with a gesture to the wheel-less truck. “If we’re going to do damage to that truck, someone already beat us to it.”

    Jay chuckles. “That’s not Garth’s truck. This isn’t his house either although he’s inside. His car is over there.” He points down a few houses to a silver compact Nissan parked on the street.  

    “Sounds like he has a secret,” I say slyly.

    “Not for long. Take this,” Jay says, handing me his smart phone.

    I hold the phone longingly; shiny black, hand-sized with a pop-out keyboard.  “You want me to call someone?”

    “No—use the video app.”

    “I’m not familiar with the model.” Much cooler than admitting I can’t afford my own phone.

    “Press here.” He touches a camera-shaped app. “When it flashes, you’re recording.”

    “Got it,” I say.

    “You need to be close enough for a clear image so find a hiding place near his car,” Jay adds, pointing.

    I peer down the street. “I can squeeze behind that big bush.”

    “That’ll work. Then start filming when I give this signal.’ He makes a rolling gesture with his hand. “Be careful, and do not let him see you.”

    “Do I look stupid?” I retort.

    “No, thank God,” he says with a chuckle. “That’s why I asked you to join me tonight.”

    The only reason? I think with a jolt of disappointment.

    “I’ll watch the house and you get into position. Garth should be coming out of the house soon. He’s with-” Jay stops abruptly, his gaze fixed across the street where the front door is opening.

    A skinny kid shaved head kid in a cool leather jacket with a dragon emblem steps out of the house, lingering to kiss a brown-haired girl. I can’t see her face since it’s pressed against his but I recognize her anyway from my Spanish class. Teacher’s Pet, Druscilla Espenza. She giggles so much I’ve nicknamed her Dru-Silly.

    “Nice,” I say in a tone that means the opposite, noting Garth’s hand has slipped to her butt. “They should get a room.”

    “Already did. Hers.” Jay flicks his hand toward the house. “Like clockwork every Wednesday night. Garth stays till 12:30 then hops on his bike back home so his girlfriend has no clue.”

    “His girlfriend? But isn’t Dru-Silly his girlfriend?”

    “Nope. And blood will spill if his real girlfriend Missy Ann catches him cheating.” Jay reaches up to turn off an overhead light then opens his door and the car remains dark. Still I can see him reaching for his Reaper knit cap from his pocket and slither it over his face. “He’s done earlier than usual tonight. Damn. Think you can get behind that bush without him seeing you?”

    “I’ll try,” I say.

    “Hold the camera steady and make sure you get everything Garth says.”

    “But what will you be doing?”

    “Convincing Garth to bare his soul in confession.”

    “Confession?” I snort. “As if he’s going to admit to anything.”

    “Just watch,” Jay says then he leaps from the car. “And keep on filming --no matter what happens.”

    Friday, July 20th, 2012
    10:58 am
    GOTH GIRL MYSTERY #2: REAPER (spin-off of THE SEER)
    Just for fun I started writing a 2nd GOTH GIRL MYSTERY since BURIED came out a few months ago and I'm in a waiting mode for my career right now. So time for fun, huh? If you liked THE SEER's character Thorn, you should enjoy the following opening chapter to a work-in-progress book.

    GOTH GIRL 2 – REAPER

                  By

     Linda Joy Singleton

     CHAPTER ONE

                 I lie in bed, waiting.

    Since finding the cryptic note in my locker, I’ve thought of nothing else:

    To defend an honor,

    Come join me,

    Meet at midnight

    Balcony.

    The smiley face is the mark of the Grin Reaper, a vigilante cloaked in a knit cap instead of a cape. Justice Blankenship the Third (Jay) plays the pretty rich boy at school but after classes he fights for the underdog. I’m the only one at Nevada Bluff High who knows Jay is the Grin Reaper although I don’t know much else about him. What I do know I like. And I’d like to know more.

    Nine minutes till midnight.

    Ready for Jay, I’m draped in black; the color of night and secrets. My nerves are strung tighter than the strings on the guitar lying beside me. I’ve been strumming, tweaking notes of a bluesy song I’m writing, trying not to focus on the glowing numbers from my alarm clock.

     Dying flames from my burning incense casts eerie shadows around my room, shifting ordinary furniture into unearthly shapes. I’ve drawn back the curtains over the sliding glass door to my balcony, so my room is too dark for prying eyes yet offers me a moonlit view through glass. I can’t relax, wondering when Jay will arrive and whose honor needs defending. Some poor kid at school, I guess. Last time (the only time actually) I joined Jay for a vigilante night out involved sneaking into a barn and pink spray paint. Not knowing where I’m going tonight is crazy-making. It’d be easier if Jay would just talk to me at school instead of leaving cryptic messages. But oil and water mix better than his group of friends and mine. It’s a secret we even know each other, much less like each other. My friendship with Jay is complicated. Is it even a friendship? We’re more like co-conspirators. Allies.

    A sound on the balcony makes me jump and my elbow smacks my bed’s brass headboard. Ignoring my throbbing elbow, I move my guitar aside, crossing my room to peer beyond glass to the balcony.  Silvery moonshine defuses the darkness so I can clearly see each potted plant and the two rod iron chairs on my balcony.

    But no sign of Jay.  

    I return to my bed and reached beneath my pillow, pulling out a folded paper. I’ve read the note so many times it’s creased into dark roads tempting me into dangerous directions. I’ve told no one; hiding my distraction during dinner with nods and smiles for my family. Only K.C., my “like a brother” friend who lives in a room over our garage, noticed, shooting me a suspicious look when I fake-yawned and said I was going to bed early.

    As if I could sleep!

    My nerves are razor-sharp, and my thoughts spiking back and forth. What will I say when Jay shows up?  He’s assuming a lot with the note—that I’ll jump at his invitation without explanation. Sure, being with Jay is a thrill ride like nothing else, but if I go with him tonight where will it lead?

    Three minutes to midnight.

    My jacket hangs on a hook beside my tallest dresser, socks and sneakers laid out ready for a quick exit. I bend over, slipping on the socks and sneakers.

    Ready, set…waiting….

    I stare at the illuminated clock numbers, willing them to speed up while listening outside for rustling leaves, footfalls, a car’s motor. Nothing. Maybe he’s changed his plans and won’t be coming. Am I relieved or disappointed? The smart thing to do would be to burrow under my covers and forget all about Jay. But I’m not the smart kid in the family. That would be my younger studious sister Amy. She’d never accept an invitation from a guy who breaks rules, laws and hearts. She doesn’t know what she’s missing….

     My balcony is on the third floor, facing the backyard. Impossible to climb, you’d think. Not for Jay, who blends into shadows. He won’t need a ladder; he’ll use a grappling hook and rope like he’s freaking Spiderman. He’s not my boyfriend so he can’t expect much from me, yet I can guess what he wants. What will I tell him?

    No would be the sensible answer. As a P.K.—preacher’s kid—I’m supposed to set a good example for Mom’s congregation, heavy expectations that I usually give a middle finger salute to. Fortunately Mom’s cool with who I am, but not so much Dad. He still frowns when I come to breakfast in black leather, chains, army boots and piercings.

    Midnight. So where is Jay?

    A soft footfall from my balcony and like a magic trick he unfolds from shadows. Medium-tall, slim, muscular, black jeans, black jacket, and piercing black eyes through slits in a black knit hat. He whips off the hat, his blond hair glinting under moonlight, and tucks the hat into his pocket.

    I slide open the door, a gust of chilled night air shivering up my skin.

    Jay grasps a flashlight in his gloved hand which he shines on me.  

    “Not in my face.” I lift my hand to shield my eyes.

    “Sorry.” He lowers his arm. “You look good, Thorn.”

    “Thanks.” I keep my expression calm but inside I slap the moon a hi-five.

    “What about me?” he asks in a swaggering tone that I’m never sure whether to take seriously or not. “Don’t you think I look good?”

    “You always do,” I say, and it’s true. Oh, yeah. So black-leather delicious, he’s a walking dessert, served steaming hot. Still his ego could use some knocking down so I add, “But that’s what I expect from a preppy rich kid.”

    “You think that’s who I am?” His words have edge, as if I’ve struck too close to a raw nerve.

    “Not really,” I admit. “But you assumed a lot with your note.”

              “Didn’t you like my poem?”

              “Meter was a little off but not bad.”

              “Made you curious enough to wait up for me, didn’t it?”

              “Maybe.” I shrug. “So what’s this about? Whose honor are we defending?”

    “I’ll fill you in on the way. Good to see you’re wearing warm, dark clothes.” He gestures to my black jeans and long-sleeved shirt. 

     I grab the jacket I’ve left hanging on a chair, but don’t slip it on. Instead I tilt my head, regarding him with reproach. “I’m not going anywhere without an explanation.”

    “No time. If we don’t hurry, we’ll be too late.”

    “Too late for what?”

    “Justice. You know what I do on nights like this.”  He flashes me a smug, irresistible grin. “Ready to go?’

    I fold my arms over my chest. “Give me one good reason why I should.”

    “Because you’re up for anything exciting, and you know I’ll deliver.” His black eyes shine. “Coming with me or not?”

    It’s so tempting to say “or not,” and kill his smug grin.

    When I hesitate he arches his brows in challenge. “You afraid?”

              “Seriously? I can’t believe you said that.” I snort. “Afraid of what?”
             
              “Breaking laws.”

    I shrug. “Depends on the laws.”

    “Misdemeanors only.”

    “Hmmm….” I grip the edge of the sliding glass door. Stay here, a voice hisses in my head. Close the door and forget all about Jay.

    “I’ll understand if you refuse,” he adds more seriously. “If we’re caught, things could get ugly.”

    “So we won’t get caught.”

    His face lights up with a grin. “I like your attitude.”

    I like a lot about him, too, not because he’s great looking but because he cares so much about justice that he goes after mean kids with vengeance.

    “Come with me, Thorn,” he says softly, holding out a gloved hand.

    I stand between my sandalwood scented room and the dark mysteries of the night, aware of moonlight, his nearness and the thudding of my heart.

    “Let’s go.” I grasp his hand.

    Turning away from safety and home, I close the door behind me.

    And blend into the night with the Grin Reaper.

    Thursday, July 19th, 2012
    3:15 pm
    If you loved Katniss, you'll love Ellie...Australia's kick-ass heroine
    Years ago I read a thin paperback called TOMORROW, WHEN THE WAR BEGINS by an author I'd never heard of before, John Marsden. Something about this book intrigued me, and I've always loved reading about Australia. So I started reading...and didn't stop, so breathless by the action and captivated by the voice of a heroine who ripped into my heart.

    When I finished, it felt like my brain and emotions had run a marathon, and I had to have more books. But I quickly found out these were Australia books and it wasn't easy to get them in the US. After some research, I found all 7 books available in the US through Houghton Mifflin, the  original copyright 1993 and first American printing in 1995. I'm guessing the series was a huge hit in Australia since there are 7 books then 2 addition featuring Ellie after the war.  I didn't discover this series until 2003. The books were expensive in dj hardback, but I had to own them. (And to get the two Ellie ones later took some trading with an Australian friend).

    Now I've been a voracious reader since I was 8. So when I say that this series consumed me like no other, that is no small tribute. Each time I started one of the books, I could NOT stop reading till night turned into morning. My heart raced, my hands gripped the book, I forgot this world and lost myself in Ellie's Australia. I felt so fortunate to discover a series when it was completed at 7 (spin-off came later). I was waiting for Harry Potter still, praying that JK Rowling would stay healthy and avoid accidents. So to have all SEVEN books was heaven...and a little bit of hell when I read them and characters died in horrible ways. There's one death in that series that still haunts me.

    So imagine my absolute THRILL to hear there was a movie. I checked online and found it only available in Australia. I waited and checked again, and found it in DVD but not certain it would work on US DVD's. More time passed, and I saw it was listed on Netflix. I put it on que and it still hasn't come. I checked online again and it was like $30 to buy a copy, and I really just wanted to watch it, not necessarily own it. So I waited again -- and two nights ago I found it on our movie channel and set my DVR.

    Well I just watched the movie of TOMORROW, WHEN THE WAR BEGAN and I can not understand why US kids are not talking about this movie. It's very different than Hunger Games, but it packs a similar intensity, powerful teens and even small doses of humor. The characters seemed very much like how I remember them in the books, too. If it were released some some hype, it could be HUGE! I loved the cast and only hated when it ended and I'd already heard there wasn't a movie sequel. What's with the Australia movie makers -- get busy and film the second movie before those teens become adults.

    If you haven't checked out these books and the movie, do it NOW.  Start with the books:
    http://www.amazon.com/Tomorrow-When-War-Began/dp/0439829100/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1342734149&sr=1-2&keywords=tomorrow+when+the+war+began

    Enjoy!
    Tuesday, June 26th, 2012
    7:51 am
    ALA and more...
    When I go to writing events, the most fun for me is talking to people who love books like I do. At ALA I was able to talk to so many amazing readers.

    BEST CONFERENCE MOMENT: While in Marlene Perez's line, I noticed two teens in front of me. The two girls whispered and looked at me then admitted they were SEER fans and loved Dominic, and I handed out bookmarks then offered them my last copy of BURIED. The girls were excited and it felt great to have a signing in a line for someone else's signing. Some librarians recognized my name, too.  Nice.

    OTHER BEST MOMENT:  I have a book close to contract that I can't publicly announce yet, but the publisher was at ALA and I stopped by their booth and they recognized who I was and seemed pleased to meet me. I stopped by for a signing of one of their authors later, hoping to be there signing my own book in about 2 years.
    Wednesday, June 20th, 2012
    7:40 pm
    To blog or not to blog
    Another writer said that LJ has become a ghost town, and that is sadly true. But I will still post here occasionally and go through the posts of my friends. Several years ago I attended a retreat that was amazing because of friendships on LJ. And with Facebook being selective (tricky) about which posts we see, that's not all that reliable either. Twitter is useful and where I seem to get most of the links for articles and blogs on writing, at least Twitter isn't playing games with people like Facebook. And count me in as one of the many who doesn't like the new profile page of Facebook -- just let the posts speak for themselves.

    And still I enjoy blogging here on LJ. There's something so personal and interesting, too, and the posts of my friends here. I've followed many of their successes and disappointments, and read many of their books. I love to support books by my friends. We're all in this crazy game together.

    As for my game playing lately, I am feeling very encouraged and hopeful. Soon I hope to share more here.

    Believe in your writing and keep blogging of hopes and dreams that do come true.
    Thursday, June 7th, 2012
    7:17 am
    That terrifying terrific editorial letter!

    It's true what writers say -- good writing is rewriting. Still when a writer receives a challenging editorial letter, there's some anxiety.  But there's also an exhileration akin to climbing into a amusement ride seat, strapping yourself in tight, then zooming off for a jolting, dizzy, heart-thrilling ride.

    I am nearing the end of revisions that have consumed my life for over a month. Revising might seem taunting to some authors, but I was SO excited when I received an amazing 8-page revision letter. The suggestions showed me how to delve deeper into character, theme, plotting and world-building

    . My steps for revision have been:

    1. Read the letter. Reread the letter. Repeat this often.

    2. Jot notes on the letter, write new scenes on the back of the letter, make lists of things to change.

    3. Wake up from dreams (usually at 4AM) with new passages streaming through my mind, jot them down then include in story.

    4. Begin at chapter 1. Go back to chapter 1. Again. Cut extra words (like that, very) add visual details, revise  dialogue. Repeat.

    5. Write morning, night, at camping sites, hotel rooms, lobbies and even a bowling alley, until there are 4 new chapters and I've reached the last page. Then go over it all again. Repeat, until the only step left is to send the book off with cross-fingers.

    I am so grateful for this professional insight, and hopeful it leads to some good news. Stay tuned!

    Sunday, April 22nd, 2012
    1:10 pm
    Editors, agents and amazing writers! Sharing Conference Notes...Enjoy!
    SCBWI SPRING SPIRIT CONFERENCE in Rocklin, California 4-21-12

    I gave a synopsis-template talk with over 80 people signed up to attend, and it went great! Everyone seemed to love my 4-step template for writing a one-page synopsis. I won't post it online as I hope word-of-mouth spreads and other SCBWI groups invite me to give this workshop. One woman came up a few hours later and said she'd written her synopsis in a short time thanks to my template. Another woman asked if I'd come speak to her group later this year. And Lin Oliver suggested my workshop might make a helpful intensive for a future SCBWI International Conference.

    Afterwards, I went to the main room and went on the stage for introductions (always a thrill to be a speaker!),

    With my talk over, I relaxed and went to other workshops. Here are some notes I took. I had my iPad and we were encouraged to tweet about the event, so I sent lots of tweets too (under lindajoysinglet). Here are my notes:

    First speaker was Queen of SCBWI, Lin Oliver and she gave BEST OF BEST ADVICE over 40 YEARS

    Lin Oliver, has new book written with her son and also has Henry Wrinkler series.
    Was on Beverly Hillbillies as staff writer as a prize for winning a contest in 70's until quit in 3 months. Got children's book writer job via employment office, and was selected to write a series with Steve Mooser. So picked 10 fave authors and invited them to a conference so they could learn how to write for kids. All 10 famous authors replied, including EB White and Judy Blume, only EB and Dr. Suess who wrote a letter in rhyme why he could't come. 55 people attended, most relatives.

    SCBWI began... now 23,000 internationally

    Lin Oliver's favorite advice from famous authors and her own advice:
    1 From Judy Blume - Write the kind of book you want to read.
    2 From Bruce Coville - Follow your weirdness
    3 From Susan Patron - Begin on the day that's different
    4 Sid Fleishman - Write in scenes
    5 Richard Peck - Be a listener
    6 Lin's own advice: Read your work out loud
    7 Be emotional but not sentimental. Don't reminisce
    8  It's not a children's book if a child does not solve the problem
    9 Read deeply and develop own cannon (books read)
    10 Paula Danziger - Create a char you love. Think what they want and decide what's keeping them from getting it.
    11 Sid Fleishman Nothing is ever wasted
    12 Shorten it up....Cutting is underrated skill.
    13 Keep a journal
    14 Know yourself and know what you're good at. Write to your strengths.

    Panel with Andrea Tompa Candlewick, Minju Chang & Kendra agents, Bret Duquet Sterling, Elice Lee Random House.

    Candlewick pubs about 150 books a year - like Andrea, in suit with purple top she does all genres and likes younger than YA and excited to see younger and contemporary, etc.
    Minju loves funny, make her laugh-make her cry.
    Brett Duquette, Sterling is owned by BN, 3 part editorial group and he's in trade books, just started Splinter list last year for YA. 3 titles a year, hoping to expand. Likes wacky, weird and he did a zombie-orgami book. NF and poetry,too.  Doesn't want sweet, wants buggers-drool. Need more mg.

    Agent Kendra Marcus started in 1984. Looking for honest child's voice.

    Elice Lee, RH - Art director mostly mg and YA trends returning to contemporary books - looking for something that causes a reaction.
    Q - why so many photo on covers? Following trends of pop culture and tough world developing YA cover, market fickle, and changed some covers several times.

    Kendra - Don't give art direction in a pb mss unless different things happening in art.

    Andrea -- Shouldn't need to spell out what's happening. Leave it to illustrations. Can address anything in the cover letter.
    Don't make your pb in rhyme if you don't consider yourself a poet, and international market is becoming more important and rhyme is more difficult to translate. Will still publish a great rhyming book.

    Andrea's talk on revising. I gave her something but don't expect it to be used and hope it isn't. Approach your revision like youre a wood carver. Start with obvious things so it's essentially the right shape, start with plot and characters. Need to revise again and again and again.
    Step 1 Save your draft
    Step 2 Put finished draft in drawer/file.
    Step 3 Read your mss with open mind. Fix things that jump out at you.

    Then real editing begins. Asy yourself these questions during rewrites:

    Is this the best it can be?
    Who, what, where, when, how
    Are my characters well-rounded?
    Are my characters relatable, too good/too bad?
    Do my characters change and grow?
    Can any of the characters be combined?
    Watch for stereotypes.

    Tips for writing race www.mitaliblog.com

    Key questions:
    What is the situation when the novel opens?
    What happens to change the situation, and how does that lead to further events?
    ....
    How is story resolved? "unexpected and inevitable"

    And those were the highlights!! It was an amazing conference. SCBWI rocks!
    Sunday, April 8th, 2012
    10:47 pm
    Monday Chat
    Anyone used to attend Verla Kay's chats?

    Well one night a week they're coming back. Go thru at www.verlakay.com and look for chat link.

    Monday nights at 6 Pacific/9 Eastern.

    If you remember Kia and Lyra, I especially hope you'll stop by. The room is open to all writers.
    Monday, April 2nd, 2012
    1:31 pm
    Sharing about Left Coast Crime Conference
    Left Coast Crime, a mystery conference for fans and writes, was held in Sacramento this year.

    Even though it's close to my home, conferencing is best when you stay at the hotel, too, so I shared a room with my mom, who knows the mystery genre better than I do. I read so many YA, I've been neglecting my mystery reading. So this was a good chance to discover new mystery authors and some old favorites, too.

    The first talk was on Thursday. Carol Price went through police citizen academy and has been handcuffs, kidnapped, shot at with paint pellets for researching her mysteries. 

    Another workshop had a panel with: Lee Goldberg, Rebecca Cantrell, DP Lyle, Gary Phillips and moderator Kirk Russell. They were amusing talking about writing characters who do a twist on normal, like Monk that Goldberg writes.. Ebooks came up and Goldberg had a good ebook promotion giving away a book, increasing his sales, but admits that has slowed now.

    Then a reception for the over 600 attendees. The reception was nice and we were up front in line, so got a bite of cheese, fruit and bite-size dessert. Sat with a nice woman, Mary Putnam and her husband David. He's the writer and has been working for 20 years on mystery novels while also being a police officer, doing undercover and writing while on stake-outs. Cool. He was interested when he heard what I wrote because he had started a YA and wanted to know more about my YA experiences.

    Later read a J.A. Jance mystery before falling asleep.

    FRIDAY
    9AM panel about locations
    *. First speaker Michael Siveling: Sterling Inheritance, St. Martin. He based it on Sacramento but made up a name since he had a horrible thing happened in a theater.
    * Norma Lehr - told of going to a resort whereher book is set and put toothpaste over something that looked like a camera in the wall. She has tunnels in story based on tunnels performers used to avoid crowds; creepy, dark. She was given a tour.
    * Susan C. Shea - based on a real museum in SF. Includes fundraiser plot.
    * Maggie Sefton - quilting & knitting series; Berkley. 2 chapters read. politic books, too.

    Then Mom went to an entertaining talk abut Men of Mystery with nearly 20 men authors; she went for Lee Goldberg who is always funny.  I wanted to hear about mystery publishing so went to agent and editor talk. Not much different than children publishing, with agents wooing editors. One former editor was an editor-4-hire now.  Nothing really new except agents are now submitting to epublishers, and one admitting they're even making money there.

    Eager for 1:30 talk with Twist Phelan moderating, speakers Rhys Bowen, Jan Burke (love her!), James Rollin, and Jacqueline Winspear. They were entertaining and interesting. Told of research mishaps like Jan driving around a police station and getting asked to come inside and having to explain herself. Or Rhys acting out a scene by wrestling an imagined weapon on the floor with her husband. They got on the topic of how in historicals some of the words really used aren't believable (like Far out, smog and Rocket ship in 1900) but the words were real then. And how Jac had a reader argue that smog was a word from 1950's but actually around 1900 combining smoke and fog in England. 

    Next talks was one of the strangest thanks to Parnell Hall giving his panelists assignments and opening by going on about how he didn't want to be a moderator and tried to refuse and no one would step up, so he gave out assignments, starting with having the panel introduce each other, making up crazy stories like Donna Andrews being raised by prairie dogs and wanting to burrow. Donna made doggie hand gestures and went on to say she didn't have any of her assignments for this talk because her luggage was going around in circles, turned away from the hotel after being lost at airport. She joked about killing a baggage handler in next book. The insanity increased from there, each panelist having to write something out of their genre, and Donna making something up that was weird and funny, ending with the death of baggage handler. Lots of laughter and we learned absolutely nothing--except these authors write funny books.

    March 31, 2012 SATURDAY Left Coast Crime
    Up early so could get into the breakfast room. Nice fruit, scone & juice. Sat at a table with Twist Phelan, Teresa Burrell, David and his wife. Twist told a fascinating story of how she was given Match membership and accepted a challenge to date 100 guys in 3 months, and she did it,

    I went to the green room until only one other person from my panel there so we went to the room where others were. This was a Magical Mystery Tour with moderator Kris Neri, speakers me, Juliet Blackwell (Hailey Lind) and Margaret Lucke. I spoke of how important it was to get kids reading and got to talk a bit about my books. Went fast. Then down for signing in the bookroom.

    Next went to the lawyers in mysteries with Jonnie Jacobs, Teresa Burrell, Susan Goldstein, Twist Phelan and Shelden Siegel. Didn't stay long though because wanted to stop at Hospitality Room (lots of chocolate, etc. there) and then not long after went to the green room for my Start'Em Young workshop with Marilyn Beebe moderating, speakers me, Bonnie Hill, Sophie Littlefield, me and Penny Warner. This went quickly with fast answers and lots of interest from the audience. Marilyn asked me about childhood influences and gave me the chance to tell my story of writing a fan letter at age 14 to Margaret Sutton, which seemed to touch the audience. Later I had people come up to me to say how much they liked the talk. I gave away 3 books at the end, wanting to spread my books out and lighten my suitcase. When I went down to sign, I did at least one more book. Felt good about the talk and comments from people. 

    1:30 went to an ACTION workshop with Robin Burcell and other "dramatic" writers who acted out scenes while one of them read a scene that seemed to wild to be real but I was told later all the scenes were from real books.

    Banquet at night. Good food and a fun table of mostly Sacramento area writers. Awards were announced with Harley Kozsak as MC .

    Sunday, April Fools Day -- 2 workshops then we go home. The last workshop was hilarious, called LIAR'S, where the panel is asked a question and the audience has to guess it they were lying (creating fiction) or telling the truth. A great ending to a wonderful conference.  Next year it's in Colorado.
    Thursday, March 22nd, 2012
    7:57 am
    From 4 books to a spin-off...

    When I finished writing the 4th THE SEER, SWORD PLAY, I was told there wouldn't be a 5th.

    I got this call on my cell while taking a walk by a lake, and I still remember
    having walked a mile and being out of breath but feeling really good. Then
    my phone rang and my hopes soared to the sky. I was sure it was going to
    be a call asking me to write the 5th THE SEER. But no...it was a "sorry, no."
    And it was strange how my body raced with an exercise high so the disappointment
    didn't hit me until I got home. Then I think I cried.

    But months later my editor changed his mind (maybe had something to do
    with THE SEER being honored by YALSA as a Quick Pick selection) or that
    sales were just going well. I was so thrilled to write what I thought would be
    the final THE SEER book, and I put romance, spying, horses, camping,
    astral travel, murder and a long lost sister in the story so I could give readers
    an exciting conclusion.

    THE SEER #5, FATAL CHARM, came out in 2007.

    The series really was over now, and I had to keep telling fans when they
    asked for a 6th book, that it just wasn't going to happen. There was one day
    when I had several emails asking for another book and I just screamed at my
    computer because I hate disappointing kids.

    I kept busy and happy writing the DEAD GIRL trilogy. Read the first chapter
    on my website.

    But I missed Sabine from THE SEER and still received emails asking for a 6th THE SEER.

    Then a miracle happened. A new editor at Flux asked me to write a 6th THE SEER
    plus a spin-off novel starring THORN. I was sooo happy! And since this really would
    be the end of THE SEER series, I put in all kinds of excitement and romance. I based
    MAGICIAN'S MUSE on the memory of visiting a master magician and learning about
    apprenticeships and the secrecy of the mostly male magician world. I put in some
    feminism themes and created the ghost of woman magician who literally died on stage.
    There's also a storyline with Dominic that completes the short story at the end
    of DON'T DIE DRAGONFLY (large-sized newest edition only has short story).

    To read first chapters of all 3 of my series check out the FREE short story:
    DARK LIFER'S REVENGE.

    Thanks to all of my SEER fans. You're the reason there's a 6th book and now a spin-off with Thorn that could be the beginning of a new series..

    The spinoff to THE SEER, BURIED: A GOTH GIRL MYSTERY, has been published. You can see all my books on my website www.LindaJoySingleton.com.
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