Pivotal moments

I’m working on SPARK (The Elemental Series, Book 2) right now, and I’ve been thinking a lot about pivotal moments. I know good plotting is always about choices (good or bad), especially when each choice leads to a new conflict.

About ten years ago, I was driving somewhere for work, and I knew I needed gas. I could have made it to my destination without stopping, so I considered waiting and going after. But I had a little bit of time to kill, and I kinda needed a stick of gum before meeting new people, so I decided to stop first.

If you’re familiar with Westminster, Maryland, you’ll know that Route 140 is basically a four lane highway, divided by a grass median, with lots of shops and gas stations and restaurants all the way from Reisterstown to Union Bridge — with lots of space between. I stopped at an Amoco Station, shoved the gas pump into the car, and walked into the little shop.

When I went in, the shop was completely silent. There was a guy behind the counter, and there was another man standing a few feet back, his hands in the pocket of his sweatshirt. Since it was Westminster, which is mostly farm land when you get past the shops, both guys were pretty casual, both needed a shave, and neither was older than thirty-five.

But they were just standing there. No one was saying anything.

So I grabbed a pack of gum from in front of the register, glanced at the guy with his hands in his pockets, and said, “I don’t want to jump in front of you.”

He hesitated and said, “No. No, you go ahead.”

And while I was paying, he walked out.

I stood there with cash in my hand, but the cashier watched the guy leave. Then he finally took my cash and rang me up.

While he was handing me my change, he said, “I’m glad you walked in. That guy was about to pull a gun on me.”

A gun! I’d walked in on an almost-holdup!

Now, I have no idea whether the guy really had a gun in the pocket of his sweatshirt. I was in my early twenties, and I lived a pretty sheltered life. The cashier could have been wrong.

But it was a pivotal moment in a lot of ways. That guy could have pulled a gun. He could have shot the cashier. He could have shot me. He could have held us hostage.

Moreover, I could have kept on driving, gotten gas after my meeting, and that guy could have held up the store without interruption.

I know this is a pretty boring story, now that you know how it ended.

But I think that’s why I keep thinking about it. Because it could have been so much more exciting (and not necessarily in a good way), just by virtue of one choice.

Can you think of any pivotal moments in your life? Any time that a choice may have seemed like nothing, but turned out to be huge?

~~

How to find a [good] critique partner.

If I were to have a FAQ section for email inquiries, this would be at the top, right above the request for my banking information because I’ve inherited 500,000 USD from a prince in Nigeria.

(I mean seriously. Does anyone fall for this? And why don’t they use the dollar sign?)

I have two main critique partners.*

1) Bobbie. Bobbie has been there since the beginning. Since I thought it was acceptable to query a 130,000 word vampire novel. Since I had no idea how to make every scene move the plot forward one step. Since before I knew about Miss Snark and every other blog out there. Bobbie is one of my closest friends and I tell her everything. I’ve known her for five years, and I’m so frigging lucky, because she’s insanely insightful. I’ll tell her I’m struggling with a scene, and I’ll get back this in depth character critique like:

So you’re unsure of where to go now? How to resolve the moment between Michael and Gabriel? I can see how it’s a pivotal moment and you want to play it right. You can’t have them hug it out or Gabriel won’t need the fire as much as he does now–it’s his escape. If all is well on the home front–or even heading there–he won’t have the need for release. I like that Gabriel’s immediate feeling isn’t anger but a sense of betrayal. He seemed to be feeling, before Hannah showed up, that he and Michael could at least be civil to one another and act like brothers now and then. To come home to this accusation would be painful and more isolating.

I think you need Michael to be suspicious, and I think his character would be. But the fire started before he left the house. Hannah could confirm this. But Michael’s suspicion might at some point make Gabriel question whether Garrett is the arsonist. And even if Michael comes to believe Gabriel didn’t start the fire, he’s still going to suspect something’s going on, and Gabriel’s secrecy is going to bring more tension to their relationship.

I mean, you can’t pay for critique notes like that. Sometimes I feel inadequate when I read her stuff, because I can’t see all the angles like this. I feel like a caveman writing things like, “Um. This guy seems angry.” Seriously, I don’t know why Bobbie puts up with ME.

It didn’t start out that way, of course. I’d posted a chapter on the critique site www.mywriterscircle.com, and she left some good comments, along with the line, “I would read more of this.” So I looked up her profile, sent her an email, and said, “Would you really read more of this? I have half a book.”

She read it, she liked it, she sent me some of her stuff. I read it, I liked it. We clicked right off the bat, and the timing was good. We were both beginners, and we were both at the same stage of the writing process.

A lot of that was LUCK. Kind of like love at first sight.

2) Alison: I’ve known Alison for about a year. She sent me a message on Absolute Write when I had a post up offering beta reads, and because I say yes to just about everyone who asks me to crit a manuscript, I told her to send over the first chapter or so. Then I completely forgot that I accepted, and I felt like a total heel when she emailed me 10 days later to ask if I got her email. (I blame my Blackberry.) But I could tell right away that Alison had some serious writing chops (see my last post about her recent signing with an agent), and I gave her a bunch of constructive criticism and sent it back.

That’s usually a make-or-break point with a critique partner. I’m always honest, and I never sugar-coat anything. I’ve had people get back a critique of twenty pages, and move on. Alison wrote back that it was finally the feedback she’d been looking for, and asked if she could send more. I liked her writing and her style, so I read more. And more. And more. She kept offering to read something of mine, but I was agented at that point, with a book on submission, so I was a lot more careful sending things out. Finally we’d been working together long enough that I trusted her enough to send something her way. (You never know what freak is going to post your book on their blog or something.) Alison’s critiques were awesome! Spot on! She picks up on things that I never would, especially when she guesses where the story is going. I remember in one of the earlier drafts of Elemental, she made the comment, “You have all these water bottles popping up everywhere! I can’t wait to see what you’re planning on doing with them!”

I read that comment and was like, “Uhhh…I’m not doing a damn thing with them. People are thirsty.” But it was a great point, and I took out some of the references. Alison is great at picking up on foreshadowing that might not be intentional, or seeing links between characters that I might not have seen. It’s every bit as insightful as Bobbie, just in a different way.

I owe a lot of my success with Elemental to these ladies.

I know, I know, you’re saying, “Shut the F up about your amazing critique partners, and tell me how to find some of my OWN.”

Reading the above, it seems like I just got lucky and found two great people and POOF, my writing life was easy. Brigid has everything! A book deal! Great critique partners! An amazing agent! An awesome editor!

Yeah, whatever. You want to know how many beta reads I did before landing on two people with whom I really clicked? I just went through my email, searched for “beta,” and counted the individual email addresses.

Eighty-six.

And that doesn’t count beta reads I did directly on message boards like Absolute Write and My Writers Circle. (I do a lot on my lunch hour. Hey, a girl needs to do something while eating.) That doesn’t count people who might have used the words “Crit” or “Critique” instead of “Beta” in their email.

That’s also over the course of five years.

The point? That’s a lot of people. A lot of time. A lot of reading.

Finding a great critique partner is like finding a great husband. (Or wife.) It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take hard work, and compromise, and a solid base of trust.

Some tips:

1) Don’t be lazy. If you were going to a bar to pick up men (or women), you’d take a shower, wear nice clothes, and try to look your best. Do the same thing when you’re sending your stuff out for critique. Now’s the time to be on your best behavior. Sometimes people would email me and say, “I know it’s full of grammatical errors and misspellings, but I’ll fix that stuff later. I just want to know if the story is worth the time to fix it.” I mean, come on. If you don’t know if it’s worth the time to fix it, why is it worth my time to read it? Don’t send out crap.

2) Be honest. Not just with others, with yourself. Maybe someone is AWESOME at critiquing your stuff. If you hate their writing, you’re not going to want to reciprocate. That’s not fair.

3) Critique a LOT. You know those advice columns where people write in and say, “I’m so depressed, I’ll never find anyone. I hate going out and playing the dating game. There must be another way.” Don’t you want to hit those people? Dating is how you find a life partner. Critiquing a lot of stuff is how you find a critique partner.

Kind of like writing a book, finding a critique partner is something that sounds easy in theory. “I can write a compound sentence! I’m destined to be a great author! Here’s where to send my check!” vs. “I’m a really nice person! My writing is amazing, so I’ll quickly find someone amazing to read it! At 3am! In five minutes!”

Everyone can find a great critique partner. They’re out there. I was, Alison was, Bobbie was.

All you have to do is put yourself out there. You know, with a little lip gloss.

~
* I’m not listing Sarah Maas, who is an awesome critique partner, because we only met because we’re agency sisters, and our relationship doesn’t really apply to this post. I just got lucky with Sarah. Wait. That sounds dirty.

Fires are hot

Back to our irregularly scheduled blogging.

First off, thank you all SO MUCH for your support, your congratulations, and your kind words. I’ve cried about sixteen times over the last five days. I’m so touched. Really. You guys are amazing.

A lot of people have asked me how the book auction went down. It’s a great story, but I’m going to wait a few weeks to tell it. When I tell it, you’ll understand why.

See? I can totally build suspense.

I have deadlines now, so I’m going to be working on my sequel for the next few months. ELEMENTAL focuses on the brother who can control water, and next up is the brother who can control fire. (That’s my buddy Gabriel. We’re tight.) For a few months I’ve been shyly toying with the idea of asking a local firefighter what it’s like to fight fires (because that strongly plays into the sequel), but I couldn’t exactly imagine walking up to the firehouse and stating my reasons for asking.

“So, yeah, I’m writing this book about these brothers who control the elements, right? Yeah, and there’s the one who controls fire. Could you tell me all about house fires? And, well, if you suspect someone of arson, like, how would you go after them?”

Yeah, that wouldn’t sound suspicious AT ALL.

(It’s kind of like when I was researching how to blow up a bag of fertilizer for the first book.)

If you’re an FBI agent and you’re reading this, it’s all for novel research. Pinky swear.

But anyway, now that I’ve got a book deal, I figured it was time to act like a professional. I looked up the name of the local fire chief, and I sent him an email.

He responded really quickly that he’d be happy to talk to me. We exchanged a few more details and worked out a time. (Inside, I kept going, “SQUEEEEEEEEEE! I get to talk to a fireman! I get to make my book sound real!”)

On the outside, it was more like, “Thank you so much for offering your time.”

But then — BUT THEN — he sent me this last email that said, “… and if we get a run while you are there you can hop on the engine with me.”

I was at my nieces’ dance competition when I got that email, and it was all I could do not to scream in the middle of the auditorium. (Seriously, no one would have noticed. No one screams like a mom at a dance competition.)

Now, look, I’m not going to wish for anyone’s house to burn down. That would be horrible.

But maybe a little brush fire? Maybe an abandoned building fire?

I don’t know how I’m going to contain myself for the next eight days. I might get to ride on a fire truck! A real fire truck! With real firefighters!

OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG

I’m okay. Really. I once read about Simone Elkeles getting to do a ride-along with detectives in Chicago. (Her books deal with gangs — and the guys are HOT and AMAZING. You must go read them.) When I read about that, I thought it was the coolest thing in the whole entire world.

Not anymore. If I could ride on a fire truck, that would be the coolest thing. Ever.

Oh. Sorry, honey. Top five then.

Can you imagine how much book fodder I’ll get out of this? Can you imagine

I know I sound like a freak. What thirty-three year old woman (with a corporate desk job and a family, no less) wants to ride around on a fire truck?

This one does.

~

A whole big heaping pile of OMG.

Okay, if you follow me on Twitter or have friended me on Facebook (*ahem* –>), then you may have already heard I sold my novel to K Teen (the new YA imprint of Kensington Books) this week.

I am over the moon.

Over. The. Moon.

I almost can’t think straight.

First off, the book sold at auction. Let me tell you, if you’re ever trying to sell a novel, let it be at auction. Because that is the absolute most fun I’ve ever had in my whole entire life.

Wait. Sorry, honey.

It’s in the top five, okay?

My editor is Alicia Condon, and we had a conversation the other day, and I feel like I’ve known her my entire life. She’s amazing, and I feel like she gets me. I’m so excited to be working with her.

But really, it didn’t feel real until I saw the listing on Publisher’s Marketplace. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s where book deals are announced. Here’s what mine said:

February 2, 2011
Young Adult

Brigid Kemmerer’s ELEMENTAL, in which a girl becomes entangled with four brothers who control the elements and their battle with those who want them dead, to Alicia Condon at K Teen, in a three-book deal, at auction, by Tamar Rydzinski at the Laura Dail Literary Agency (World English). 

That’s my book. Can you believe it? THAT’S MY BOOK.

This has been so amazing.

But you know what? No one writes a book alone. Sure, I put some words on the page, but there are a lot of people who made them better:

Michael Kemmerer: My best friend, my confidant, my hero, my husband, you are the most amazing person I could ever want to spend my life with. I am so lucky to have you. Now get ready for the house to be an effing mess for six months, because I have a sequel to write.

Tamar Rydzinski: My absolutely fantastic agent. I’m so lucky to have her in my corner. I totally couldn’t have done this without her help. I’ll never forget messing up my partial manuscript way back when I was querying. (She asked for the first 50 pages. I sent 30 double spaced and 20 single spaced. What kind of idiot does that? Especially after reading an agent’s blog THAT VERY MORNING about making careless mistakes? *sheepishly raises hand*) But now, look where it’s gotten me.

Bobbie Goettler: You, lady, have been with me since way, way, way back. You remember when the four brothers were vampires, living in a totally different story. You remember when my first novel was 135,000 words long. You have read every word at least six times (sometimes seven), and you’ve been patient and encouraging and insightful and there’s no WAY this book would be succeeding without you. You helped me through marriage, pregnancy, childbirth, parenting….you’re amazing. You have been my closest friend forever now, and you’ve been so much more than a critique partner. You’ve been a friend, a mother, a sister, and I can’t imagine going through this without you.

Sarah Maas: My agency sister!! (You know how they say brother-from-another-mother? They need one for girls. Sister-from-another-mister? That sounds…sick. But you know where I’m going with this.) I’m so glad we found each other, and I’m so lucky to be going through this whole publication journey with you. You’re an amazing cheerleader, and an awesome friend, and I can’t believe you put up with my bazillion texts. Seriously. A bazillion. You are a rock star.

Alison Kemper Beard: Alison! I can’t believe I lucked out when you sent me the first few pages of your manuscript! And then I forgot to read them, and you had to remind me! (Look people, you might not find true love on the internet, but you can totally find badass friends.) Alison, I’m so lucky we’ve become friends and critique partners, because it’s been so much fun going through this journey with you. I think you and Bobbie deserve a medal for reading my entire MS over the course of one weekend. With critiques! Now go send some more queries!!

There are like sixteen hundred other people who helped me along the way (Nanci, Gordon, Jenny, Tina, Christina, Renee, Kathy, Michelle, Stevie, Kit, Ally, my Twitter friends, my Facebook friends who are sick of my status updates about writing, every single person reading this post … OMG, I’m totally going to forget someone, and you can punch me later…)

My dream is starting to come true, and you’re all a part of it. All of you.

Thank you. So much. 

~

Here’s my tale of thanks…

I found out I was pregnant in the fall of 2006.

I was married, of course. Michael and I had tied the knot in May, and we knew we wanted to get pregnant right away. Actually, we’d been planning to wait until the following spring, but at dinner a few nights before the wedding, Mike said, “Let’s not wait until spring. Let’s just do it.”

So we just did it.

I’m not a hypochondriac, and I’m not one of these women who obsesses over everything she eats during her pregnancy. I just don’t have that kind of temperament. But by February, I started thinking there might be something wrong. I was having terrible headaches, and I couldn’t sleep. I went to my doctor, and he told me everything was fine, I just needed to relax.

At the end of February, Michael and I went to Orlando for a week with some friends. We saw the Daytona 500 (a miserable experience for me, since the weather was 40 degrees and windy, and I only had Capri pants and a sweatshirt) and went to Disney World. I’m a good traveler — I went around to all the rides and got express passes so the others could ride the big roller coasters. Then I would sit on warm benches and read books while they were riding the rides. We had a really nice time.

I was also working full time during that period, and because my team had changed firms, I was extremely busy, and under a tremendous amount of stress. I was pulling 60 hour weeks, and I’d come home and crash.

I still knew something was wrong with my pregnancy. I kept having headaches, and I kept going to the doctor, and he kept telling me I was fine. It was in my head. He said my mother, who is a nurse, was telling me things to make me nervous. My due date was placed at June 18, 2007.

My headaches got worse. I was so swollen, people at work were starting to comment on how bad I looked. I had a baby shower in mid-April, and no one could believe how swollen my feet and hands were. Speculations were made whether I’d need to cut my rings off.

When we left that baby shower, I asked my mom to drive us home, because my headaches were tremendous. She drove — straight to her house, where she went in to get her blood pressure cuff.

My blood pressure was 175/100, very, very high for a pregnant woman.

My mom and my husband rushed me to the ER. This was mid-April, so I was only about 32 weeks pregnant. At the ER, they diagnosed preeclampsia, and they decided they would induce labor, but they were calling my doctor to have him come in.

He did come in. He came in and yelled at me, ordered them to stop inducing labor, and sent me home. I’d been in the hospital all night, with numerous professionals telling me I had preeclampsia, and then he comes in and says it’s all in my head, and my mom was just making me nervous. He told me to come see him in the office the next day.

So I did. Mom went with me. We watched the girl take my blood pressure. The girl said, “Absolutely fine. 120 over 80.” As soon as the girl left, mom said, “She lied.”

I knew she’d lied, too. Growing up with a nurse for a mother, I also knew how to read the dial on a blood pressure cuff.

The doctor still insisted everything was fine. We smiled and nodded and went home. I started researching preeclampsia, and found an incredible support network on www.preeclampsia.org. With everyone there telling me my doctor might be nuts, I went with my gut instinct and called a high-risk OB in Annapolis and asked for an appointment. The girl said, “Well, for pregnancy, we’re scheduled out for 12 weeks.”

I said, “Well, I’m due in 7 weeks, here’s the situation, I really need a second opinion.”

She could have brushed me off. But she put me on hold, spoke to a doctor, and fit me in for an appointment the next day. I didn’t tell anyone I made this appointment.

That night, I went to dinner with my husband, and we talked about everything that was going on. My husband, who is a wonderful man, said, very gently, “Hon, do you think maybe everything is in your head?”

I said no, that I knew something was going on. I couldn’t keep anything from him, so I broke down and told him that I’d made an appointment with another doctor for the next day. I said I wasn’t going to give the doctor my history, that I was just going to have him look at hard data (blood pressure, urine, etc) and see what he thought.

When I went to the office, I found out that I’d been scheduled with one of the head OB’s in the practice, and he’d actually postponed leaving for vacation so he could fit me in. When I sat down with his nurse, she took my blood pressure. It was 180/105, and I’ll never forget her frowning and saying, “I think I need to get another cuff. This is reading really high.”

The other cuff got the same reading, of course.

They tested my urine, which immediately came up as 3+, which means there’s a lot of protein, one of the key indicators of preeclampsia. The doctor did an ultrasound, and said that the baby’s head measured as 34 weeks, right on target, but the body only measured as 30 weeks. He said that was also indicative of preeclampsia, because the body starts sending all the nutrients to form the baby’s brain, because the placenta is starting to fail.

The doctor said his opinion was to admit me immediately, run some more tests, and induce labor the next day.

It was a new hospital, a new doctor, and a new labor unit. But I agreed. What was I going to do, go back to the doctor who said it was all in my head?

I’ll never forget calling my husband from the hallway outside the doctor’s office, telling him they were admitting me. It took the admissions nurse six tries to start an IV because I was so swollen. I weighed 236 pounds at admission, and a huge percentage of that was fluid. After they induced labor and they wanted to start an epidural (which is a needle that goes beside your spine), the anesthesiologist said, “I have to warn you, because you’re so swollen, there’s a possibility the needle could cause paralysis.”

Because I was 6 weeks early, they wanted to try for a normal delivery, to force the fluid from the baby’s lungs. I agreed to the risk, because he said it was better than injecting me with Ketamine, because that could cause more difficulties for the baby. Unfortunately, once they induced labor, the fetal heartbeat started to plummet. Fetal distress, I think they called it. So they rushed me in for a C-Section. The epidural hadn’t had time to take effect. They injected Ketamine anyway, and they pulled the baby out.

Nicholas Parker Kemmerer was born at 12:14am, May 4, 2007.

I didn’t learn until later that his APGAR score at birth was a 1. I didn’t get to hold him. He was immediately rushed to the NICU, and I was stitched up and sent to recovery. I was told I couldn’t see my son until I calmed down and my blood pressure went down. So I held back on my tears and sent my husband to the NICU just about every five minutes.

I finally got to hold Nicholas that night, almost 24 hours after he’d been born. He weighed five pounds, and he had wires everywhere, including a feeding tube that went down his nose.

I wasn’t supposed to be doing anything strenuous, what with the 20 staples across my abdomen, but the NICU was on a separate floor from Labor & Delivery, so I made numerous trips up and down the stairs. I brought books to read, and I’d sit in the rocking chair next to his incubator and read. It was right before Mothers Day, so there were dozens of commercials on television, and every single one would make me sob.

They told me Nick might be in the NICU for six weeks.

He’s a strong kid. They released him after 8 days.

Nick is three-and-a-half now, and I love him to pieces.

But I owe my thanks to all the the people on those message boards, and all the doctors and nurses at Annapolis OB/GYN and Annapolis Medical Center, most especially, Dr. Fred Guckes, the amazing doctor who saw me and made the initial decision to admit me, and Dr. Pablo Argeles, the amazing physician who ultimately delivered Nicholas. Both these doctors saved Nick’s life and mine.

I will never forget them, and I owe them more thanks than I could ever express.

Thanks, guys. You are all amazing.

Gutshot straight draw (Or, how writing is like poker)

I love playing poker.

Here’s what I love about it: there’s an element of skill, and there’s an element of luck.

The element of luck makes my husband crazy. He’s a formulaic kind of guy. If you have two aces and some other guy has suited connectors (like a five of hearts and a six of hearts), the aces should win the hand — if for no other reason than that the other guy shouldn’t be calling a big raise with suited connectors.

Wait, I might be losing you. I’m talking poker. Basically, sometimes in poker, you get lucky. You can’t play by formula. It just doesn’t always work that way. You play your opponent, and you play your cards.

And sometimes you still lose.

Sometimes you play on a draw. This is like clinging to a prayer. You get three chances to see new cards in Texas Hold ‘Em. There’s the flop, the turn, and the river. Say you have a hand where you might be chasing a straight. You’ve got 3, 4, 6, and 7. You need a 5 to win the hand. There are only four “5” cards in the whole deck (52) that can make your hand. Those are horrible odds. It’s called a gutshot straight draw. And it’s so, so tempting to keep betting, hoping you’re going to get that one card, when in reality, something else is going to come up.

When you’re looking at a gutshot straight draw, cut your losses. Lay the hand down.

When you’ve written yourself into a hole, stop digging. Start something new. Maybe come back to it later. Stop writing yourself deeper.

Sometimes you’ve got a great hand that’s just not working for you. Say you were dealt a pair of aces at the beginning of the hand, but some dude across the table is just hammering you with bets. All of a sudden, all you have is a pair of aces, and you’ve got this sick feeling in the bottom of your stomach that he’s got something better. A pair of aces is a great hand to start with — but it still only wins half the time. Someone could have trips (three of a kind), or even a straight, a flush, or a full house. Suddenly, your aces aren’t looking so hot.

This is like when you start writing a vampire novel, and suddenly realize that everyone and his brother has already done that.

Sometimes luck works in your favor. These are the kinds of things you can’t worry about. If you catch a break, you catch it. If you don’t, you don’t.

Timing. You have no idea what’s going to be a hot topic next month, next year, next decade. Don’t worry about it. Write a good story. You think Stephenie Meyer was swiveling back and forth in a computer chair saying, “Hmm. Vampires. Totally in next spring.”

The economy. Right now, a bazillion people are laid off and thinking it’s a good time to write a novel. So what? Like there wasn’t a lot of competition before?

Mood. Maybe the person reading your manuscript just isn’t in the mood for a mystery. You can’t control this. Let it go.

Play the cards you’ve got, as well as you can. If it’s not working, lay it down.

Then just wait for the dealer. Here comes your next hand.

Chicken Dinner (Get it?)

I’m one of these people who rarely wins anything, so I’ve always been of the philosophy that you make your own luck. I love that saying, “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.”

Today I won a spot for the guest blog on Pimp My Novel, so go check it out, along with the other amazing bloggers featured every day this week. I consider myself lucky to be counted among them. Maybe Eric was hitting the sauce when he picked my entry.

Since my winning entry deals with beta reading, I couldn’t pass up a chance to give a shout-out to two people who have been amazing beta readers for me:

Bobbie Goettler is a fantastic paranormal romance writer who’s going to start querying her novel Granted this August. Remember her name — Bobbie’s an incredible writer and it’s a great book. Bobbie and I found each other through one of those writer’s message boards, and started as beta readers, then full-on critique partners, and now I consider her one of my closest friends. We’ve been traveling this road toward publication together, and I couldn’t do it without her.

Sarah J. Maas
is a YA fantasy author who just sold her debut novel, Queen of Glass, an epic retelling of Cinderella, to Bloomsbury for publication in 2011. Sarah and I are agency “sisters,” both represented by Tamar Rydzinski. I’m so glad we found each other, because though we’ve only known each other a short time, I’ve found her feedback to be invaluable, and I can’t wait to read Queen of Glass when it hits shelves. Keep an eye out — it’s amazing.

Both these ladies have blogs worth following, and I always enjoy reading what they have to say. What are you still doing here? Check them out!