Monday, April 30, 2012

On finishing...

For those of you who didn't see all my squealing and celebrating on Facebook and Twitter yesterday, I finally typed my two favorite words in Keeper book 2:

The end.
(Yes, I totally cried. Picture the beginning of Romancing the Stone)

Finishing a book is always an emotional experience--for me at least. This is my third time getting to that point, and once again I had that same sense of: I CAN'T BELIEVE I ACTUALLY DID THIS!!!! But this time was especially overwhelming.

Maybe it's because I had to push so hard to get there this time--cranking through a marathon writing weekend (almost 20,000 words in 3 days) and finally finishing after pulling an all-nighter.

Maybe it's because this is my first time writing a draft under contract--and my first sequel--and there was a whole other set of worries and stresses and complications that came with that.

Mostly, I think it's because this book kicked my butt. I know I've said that before, but I don't know if you guys really realize how much this story has broken my brain. It was a serious, serious struggle to get here and there were several times along the way where I worried it wouldn't happen.

So to get to this point and realize that I CAN do this--even when I have to work such long hours, under the extra pressure of a contract and a sequel, with a plot that refused to go the way I thought it needed to go and wouldn't cooperate until I surrendered--is an incredible, incredible thing.

It's NOT perfect. (oh, if you only knew how much work I still have ahead of me before I turn it into my editor next week.) But I did it.

I crossed that first and most important hurdle, and now it's all about polishing and refining (and fine, filling in the spots that say, "scene needed here"). And now that the bones are in place, *hopefully* the rest will go smoother. I guess we'll see as the week progresses.

In the meantime I happily say: take that, Book 2. I have officially ended you! *fist pump*

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Twice Upon A Time, by James Riley--and a GIVEAWAY!

Don't go into shock--but I actually have another MMGM for you guys this week!!!!

It's for a book I've actually been waiting to feature for a while now because I wanted to champion it closer to release. Only problem was... I kinda wrote the release date down wrong, so uh... it came out last week. BUT THAT'S ACTUALLY A GOOD THING BECAUSE I HAVE AN EVEN BETTER PRIZE FOR YOU NOW!!!

But we'll get to that in a second. First I need to gush about the awesomeness of TWICE UPON A TIME, by James Riley:


Here's how the publisher describes it:

Pirates and mermaids face off in this fractured-fairy tale sequel to Half Upon a Time!

Jack and May are back for another adventure in the world of fairy tales with a twist. Now that they know about May’s grandmother’s real intentions, they’re on the hunt to learn May’s true identity. The search for answers leads Jack and May to the world of the Sea King, where they land right in the center of a battle between mermaids and the Pirate Bluebeard. The laughter and action are as nonstop as ever in this next book from new author James Riley!


So, like the description says, this book is a sequel to the hilariously awesome HALF UPON A TIME (which I have gushed about HERE). And since that book kinda ends on a ginormous cliffhanger, I was pretty darn desperate to get my hands on an early copy. Especially when I saw the cover--I mean, do you get more win than that? 

Anyway, I of course ran straight to my email and did my usual begging and pleading and promising of first born children (pretty sure I owe kids to about 20 people at this point) and S&S was awesome enough to send me an ARC--which I may or may not have squealed over when it arrived. And of course I started reading right away.

See, in my opinion there's a right way and a wrong way to fracture fairy-tales, and James Riley is all kinds of right. Not to mention hilarious. No really, it's laugh out loud funny--and not the polite chuckle kind of laughs. Deep, snorty belly laughs (yeah... I don't read his books in public for that very reason). 

I wish I could tell you more about it, but the hard part about featuring sequels is not spoiling book 1 for those who haven't read. So I'm just going to say: read it. Trust me. It's on sale now--get thee to the book store! 

Or... try to win a copy here. Remember how I promised an awesome prize at the beginning? I was not exaggerating! I'm giving away not just a SIGNED hardcover of TWICE UPON A TIME--but a SIGNED paperback of  HALF UPON A TIME. Two amazing signed books for one lucky winner. You KNOW you want it to be you!

To enter, make sure you leave a comment on this post by 11:59 pm pacific time on Saturday, May 5th. I'll draw one random winner and post their names on Sunday, May 6th. International entries welcome.

And for more awesome middle grade recommendations, check out these other MMGMs floating around the blogosphere.*
- The Mundie Moms are now part of the MMGM fun (eee!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome! 
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week!    
 Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!  
- Gina Carey is wondering at WONDER. Click HERE to see why she thinks you'll be moved too.   
- Joanne Fritz has an exclusive interview with author Jerry Spinelli--with a GIVEAWAY. Click HERE to read more.   
- Barbara Watson is highlighting GLORY BE, with an author interview--and a GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for all the details.
- Michelle Isenhoff is raving about one of her childhood favorites: THE BLACK STALLION. Click HERE to learn why she still loves this classic!
- Brennan and Meyrick Murphy are marveling at PERFECTLY PERILOUS MATH--with an interview. Click HERE for all the fun.  
 - Gabrielle Prendergast is gushing about OUT ON A LIMB.  Click HERE to see why she loved it.
- Andrea Mack is cheering for a slightly younger middle grade, CINDERELLA (AS IF YOU DIDN'T ALREADY KNOW THE STORY). Click HERE to learn why.  
- Michael Gettel Gilmarten is highlighting AMAZON: AN ULTIMATE ADVENTURE NOVEL. Click HERE to see what he thought of it. 
- Riv Re joins the MMGM fun with a feature on THE DRAGON'S TOOTH. Click HERE to welcome her to the group!  
- Chelanne Green is celebrating 11 BIRTHDAYS. Click HERE to see why.  
- Laurisa Reyes is swooning over SHADOWS IN FLIGHT. Click HERE to see why she loved it 
- Rosi Hollinbeck also joins the MMGM fun with a feature on NO-NAME BABY--with a giveaway! Click HERE for all the details.
- Julie from "That's Swell" is back with a feature on THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST. Click HERE to see what she thinks!   


If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so I see it)

NOTE: I used to not have a cut-off time for adding links to the post, but with how insane my schedule is right now, if you don't email me by Sunday evening (usually around 11pm PST is when I put the links together) I can't guarantee I'll have a chance to add you. BUT, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you!



*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen posts ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me ahead of time.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

COUNCIL OF MIRRORS Winner

Whoops--been so busy trying to get through book 2 I TOTALLY forgot I had a winner to announce today.

Gotta keep this short and sweet though. The winner of the signed COUNCIL OF MIRRORS by Michael Buckley is...


YAY

*tosses confetti*

If that's you, please email me at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com with your mailing address and I will ship off your prize as soon as I can.

Annnnnnnnnnnd... back to book 2!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Trusting the Path

A writer MUCH smarter than me once told me to trust that the path is there, even when you can't see it. And that is pretty much the perfect way to describe what I've been dealing with as I try to write KEEPER 2.

I plotted the whole series years ago. I also wrote--and discussed at length--a thorough synopsis for what would happen in the book, and it all made perfect sense. I had a PLAN. And then... I started writing.

To say this book has thrown me curve balls is a bit of an understatement. In fact, I didn't even know what it was REALLY about until about a week ago when I had an EPIPHANY. So... yeah. It's been stressful. And scary. And have I mentioned stressful?

BUT, I'm trusting that the path is there.

I can finally see it--though I have a TON of work to do to really bring it out. And there are still parts of it that are a bit murky.

But the path IS there. And I'm not giving up until I finally get it right.

So... that pretty much sums up what I'll be doing this weekend. How about you guys?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Another Epic Milestone

There are a lot of surreal, exciting, amazing, unbelievable moments on this crazy journey I'm on (and thank goodness because they help balance the hectic, sleepless-night-inducing, terrifying ones). But yesterday was a BIG one.

I wish I could show you the absolutely GORGEOUS ARCs for LTSF that my amazing publisher sent me--but alas, I'm not allowed to since we haven't revealed the cover (which I am ALSO dying to show you). But I can't stop staring at them. Nor can I stop staring at my bookshelf, where BOTH of my books are now on display, which is so incredible I am having a hard time wrapping my head around it.

And then, there was this inside the ARC:


I ... I can't believe I already qualify for an "also by Shannon Messenger."

I also can't believe that these crazy stories that filled my head and refused to leave until I wrote them down are slowly making their way into the world. I've already gotten some amazing, tear-inducing emails from some early readers telling me how much they enjoyed it. And after BEA a LOT more people will have them.

It's scary and stressful and half the time I feel like there's an avalanche coming for me and I'm going to be clobbered any second. But I also get to hug my book--MY BOOK--and dance around with it and take embarrassing pictures to send to my agent and editor (oh, you know you'll do exactly the same thing!). And that is worth every single second of the stress--and then some.

So if you need me, I'll be twirling with my ARCs like the biggest nerd on the planet. And then diving back into book 2!

(Also, I'll be at Mysterious Galaxy tonight for the YA or Bust signing with Stephanie Perkins, Gayle Forman, and Nina LaCour. If you're in the area I hope to meet you there!)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Council of Mirrors (Sisters Grimm #9)--and a SIGNED book Giveaway!

Believe it or not, I actually have an MMGM for you guys this week!!!! Sadly, it's not because I've had time to read (book 2 is still killing me)--it's because sometimes a book is so special/exciting I'm willing to break my rule and feature it before I've read it because I KNOW I'm going to love every single word .

What book could I possibly be so confident about? THE COUNCIL OF MIRRORS (Sisters Grimm #9) by Michael Buckley:


Here's how the publisher describes it:

In the final volume in the Sisters Grimm series, Sabrina, Daphne, and the rest of the Grimms and their friends must face off against the Master to decide the fate of Ferryport Landing—and the world. When Mirror fails to escape the barrier using Granny Relda’s body, he turns to his plan B: killing all the Grimms so that the magical barrier collapses. In the meantime, Sabrina has gathered the other magic mirrors as advisors on how to deal with their mortal enemy. They tell her to join forces with the Scarlet Hand against Mirror, in exchange for offering all the citizens of Ferryport Landing their freedom. This final chapter is the end of the road for several beloved characters, but the conclusion is sure to satisfy devoted fans of the series.

If you've been following my blog for a while you know how very much I love this series (it's one of the reasons I decided to try writing middle grade) and I have been counting down the days until I could finally read the last book (even if it'll be slightly bittersweet knowing there are no more). So imagine my EXTREME GIDDINESS when I discovered that Michael Buckley was signing copies at the LATFOB this weekend, and you can bet I stood in the sun-scorched signing line to get my hot little hands on a copy. (and of course, to thank him personally for blurbing KEEPER)

See?



And I picked up a copy for you guys too--which is why I decided to do the MMGM feature on it early. Sadly, *I* can't read until I finish book 2 (it's going to be my reward!). But I don't think it's fair to make you guys wait just because I'm waging an epic battle with characters who are refusing to cooperate. So, I'm giving it away now--along with the strong, STRONG recommendation that you all pick up your own copies if you don't win (and if you haven't started this series, you need to get on that--stat!) because it's going to be amazing. EVERYTHING Michael writes is amazing. Plus, he did a reading from it at LATFOB and OMG. So. good. 

To enter, make sure you leave a comment on this post by 11:59 pm pacific time on Saturday, April 28th. I'll draw one random winner and post their names on Sunday, April 29th. International entries welcome.

And for more awesome middle grade recommendations, check out these other MMGMs floating around the blogosphere.
- The Mundie Moms are now part of the MMGM fun (eee!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome! 
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week!    
 Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!  
- Gina Carey is spreading the love for MOON OVER MANIFEST--with a GIVEAWAY!!!! Click HERE for all the details!  
- Dorine White is swooning over CINDERELLA SMITH, THE MORE THE MERRIER.  Click HERE to see why.
- Barbara Watson has another special middle grade review written by an actual middle grader (her son this time). Click HERE to see what he thinks about THE NOTORIOUS BENEDICT ARNOLD. 
- Michelle Isenhoff is featuring THE RED PYRAMID. Click HERE to learn why she thinks it's worth reading!
- Andrea Mack is soaring with love for FLYAWAY Click HERE to learn why. 
- Gabrielle Prendergast is highlighting some of her favorite verse novels.  Click HERE to see what they are.   
- Temre Beltz is sweet on IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES (one of my favorites).  Click HERE to see why she thinks you'll love it too.    
- Brennan and Meyrick Murphy are championing FIRST KILL (Slayer Chronicles #1). Click HERE to see why they loved it. 
- Laurisa Reyes has a fabulous author interview--and a GIVEAWAY for THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST. Click HERE for all the fun.   
- Danika Dinsmore raves about a book she discovered thanks to MMGM (woot!): THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY. Click HERE to learn more about it. 


If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so I see it)

**NOTE**
I used to not have a cut-off time for adding links to the post, but with how insane my schedule is right now, if you don't email me by Sunday evening (usually around 11pm PST is when I put the links together) I can't guarantee I'll have a chance to add you. BUT, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Are you ready for some shenanigans????

I sure hope so, because I am packing them up and bringing them all over the place. (So if you can't handle my crazy you'd best consider fleeing).

It's going to be a CRAZY year with all kinds of events and things and places to find me--if you're so inclined. So I've gone ahead and added an Appearances page to this blog to help you all keep track, and I will be updating it regularly as things confirm / get added. But in case you don't feel like clicking over, here's some details on some upcoming events:


April 20th 6-9pm (hey--that's TONIGHT! OMG!)
Pomona College, Room SCC-217
The 5 Cs Out Loud is hosting a special dinner and workshop, where I will be giving a lecture on "Creating a Killer Plot!" (and *trying* to sound as smart as possible. If I can't pull that off I promise lots of Shannon Shame). The dinner is only for club members, but the workshop is open to anyone. Just email ahead of time so they know to have enough chairs.  For more details, or to let them know you're coming, contact christinabejjani (at) gmail (dot) com


April 21
LA Times Festival of Books
I am there as a fan, not officially--and I'm not sure which panels I'm hitting, but I'll be "around". So if you spot a giggling blonde girl feel free to come over and say Hi!


Saturday, May 19th 2-5 pm
Still getting all the details on exactly what I'll be doing, but I'll be there for sure and will update as soon as I know more. You're also welcome to contact the organizers--contact info is on their website.


June 4-8 
Book Expo of America 
I'm still getting all the details on my schedule, so I don't know all the where/whens yet--but I will BE THERE. All week, in fact. And so far I can confirm that you WILL be able to get KEEPER ARCs there--and I will even be doing an autographing session on Tuesday, June 5th from 10:30 am - 11:00 am. You can find details on that HERE. I'll also be doing a meet and greet with some of my fellow Apocalypsies on Tuesday from 3-5pm. Details on all of that can be found HERE. And lots more to come on this. There are several other events I'll be at, but I don't have all the final info yet.


June 21-25
ALA Annual Summer Conference
One of my favorite conferences of the year and I'm SO excited it's in Anaheim this time. You will find me stalking all the booths and seeing all the people and probably crashing all the parties. More details to come as I have them.


July 11-15
Comic-Con San Diego
I'm not sure if I'm doing anything officially, but I'm SO there (though maybe NOT in costume this year...) You'll for sure find me at all the book panels and hunting for Batman swaggish things. 



Hee, I love how many times I had to say, "I don't know the details". What can I say--let's call it a work in progress. And like I said, more details WILL be added as I know them. 

Plus there are lots of other exciting things in the works too (including the launch parties for KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES--and yes, I said parties plural). But all that stuff is still very much in the planning stages, so I will update you on all of that once I have a few more things ironed out. Check back soon!

And if you think/know you're going to be at any of these places PLEASE let me know so I can try to keep an eye out for you.  Though fair warning: I tend to be a bit overwhelmed/oblivious in crowds, so there's a very very VERY good possibility I will walk right past you without noticing. If I do, you're welcome to shout things at me. Or throw things at me. Just nothing sharp please. Or sticky. :) 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

In which I decide to be positive...

I'm having one of those weeks. You know the kind--where everything takes 10 times longer than its supposed to in a week that was already packed with too much until it all piles on top of you and you just feel like:



But instead of using this post to whine and stress and panic (I know, I'm sure you're all very disappointed about that) I thought I'd try positivity for a change. Because the thing is, I have a lot of freakishly amazing things to be grateful for.

So really, what I want to do is focus on a few things I'm especially grateful for this week--in no particular order:



The Elixir of Life!
I know you Coke fans will probably disagree with me on this--but I'm sorry, Pepsi is basically the nectar of the gods. (though in a pinch I will settle for "the other") And for those of you who want to discuss calories and chemicals and teeth staining and whatnot I gladly plug my ears and say LALALALALALA I can't hear you!





The Hubs!
(Yes, I listed Pepsi before my husband--I said this was random order!!!)
He may have questionable taste in clothing, but the  part of him that is far happier in a Shredder sweatshirt than anything else is the same part that allows him to just laugh at me when I'm freaking out  and then somehow get me to laugh too. Like yesterday, when he bought me new squinkies. Bless his immature heart.





The Cuteness!
Totally giving away my crazy cat lady-ness here, but on a stressful day there are few things better than stopping to rub a kitty tummy. Or three. (okay, five--but two live outside DON'T JUDGE ME THEY WERE ALL RESCUES!) I'm also fairly certain the sound of a purr is healing to the soul. So yes, they shed and they have hairballs and they insist on being pet at the most inopportune times and they have the worst breath EVER. But thank goodness for those fluffy cute things who cuddle with me when I'm having a bad day. I almost want to get another.








Team Shannon!
Um... they don't know I call them that (and if they did they'd probably ask to resign) but they are the people who calm the crazy. Whether it be fielding all my panicky emails/chats or wading through my messy pages or sending me hilariously awesome care packages like this one, they are the ones who give me that boost I need to keep going.



Without all of that I would probably be curled up in the fetal position waiting for the Crazy Wagon to come take me away today. But I'm not! (though that would probably be safer for the world...) 

And some of you may be noticing that there is a decided lack of cupcake gratitude in this post--to which I say: YOU'RE RIGHT!!!!!!!! That is the secret survival key I've supremely overlooked. So clearly I need to correct that right now.

*races for the bakery for Emergency Relief Cupcakes*

Monday, April 16, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: All the incredible links!

*Sigh* Yet another week where I haven't had time to read. (UGH! *stares at pretty, unread books* *stares more*)

So once again I have no MMGM feature of my own. But fortunately, there's still lots of awesome middle grade love going on today.

In fact, I want to take a second to thank all of you for supporting the meme and spreading the love for so many amazing books. I'm blown away by how many bloggers participate and it's so awesome to see middle grade getting a bigger presence in the blogosphere. Basically--you guys rock! And I promise I will be back on track as soon as book 2 is done. In the meantime, check out these awesome links:
- The Mundie Moms are now part of the MMGM fun (eee!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome! 
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week!    
 Karen Yingling also always has some MMGM recommendations for you. This weeks she's cheering for BITTERSWEET SUMMER and BITTERSWEET. Click HERE to see why  
- Barbara Watson has a special middle grade review written by an actual middle grader (her daughter). Click HERE to see what she thinks about THE SHIFTER. 
- Michelle Isenhoff is featuring THE PENDERWICKS. Click HERE to learn why she thinks it's a 'must-read'.
- Natalie Aguirre is interviewing Ruth McNally Barshaw and GIVING AWAY signed copies of 2 of her Ellie McDoodle books!  Click HERE for all the details.  
- Laurisa Reyes has a fabulous feature--and a GIVEAWAY--for the adorable NEVERSINK. Click HERE for all the fun.   
- Andrea Mack is raving about ICEFALL Click HERE to learn more about it   
- Joanne Fritz is celebrating THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST with a guest post from the author. Click HERE to read more.   
- Jennifer Rumberger is cheering for THE HUMMING ROOM (one of my favorites). Click HERE to see what she thinks.  
- Dorine White joins the MMGM fun with a feature on THE BATTLE BEGINS.  Click HERE to welcome her to the group! 
- Brennan and Meyrick Murphy are championing MEDUSA THE MEAN. Click HERE to see why Meyrick loved it. 
- Susan Olson has two recommendations for you this week: TIME FOR ANDREW: A GHOST STORY and THE BOOK OF STORY BEGINNINGS.  Click HERE to see more.   
- Natalie Dias Lorenzi--another MMGM newcomer--makes her debut with an interview with author Joanne Rocklin. Click HERE to welcome her to the fun!  


If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so I see it)

**NOTE**
I used to not have a cut-off time for adding links to the post, but with how insane my schedule is right now, if you don't email me by Sunday evening (usually around 11pm PST is when I put the links together) I can't guarantee I'll have a chance to add you. BUT, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you!

**Also: Thanks to a boatload of spam--and my missing a bunch of important emails because of it--I'm now using a new email address. So make sure you update your records because I'm slowly phasing the other address out. New email is: SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. Hopefully now I won't miss some of your MMGMs, like I have been.**

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Critique Winners

Hey! Having a crazy weekend so I'm just dropping in quickly to announce the winners of the 25 page critiques from the lovely Faith (aka the Book Babe). There are two lucky winners this time, and they are:


and


Yay!

*tosses confetti*

If that's you, email Faith at iamthebookbabe (at) gmail (dot) com to arrange your critique. Like I said in the post, she most likely won't have time to actually critique your pages until June, but you'll still want to let her know you won and made sure she's expecting your pages. And yay, now you have time to revise before you send. :)

Hope everyone's having a good weekend. See you back tomorrow!

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Great Critique Partner Question!

Since I'm so hopelessly behind on email (my inbox has reached nightmare-inducing levels) I'm trying to tackle some of the questions that keep popping up, that way I'm answering all of them at once! And these are two that show up a LOT:

Do I need Critique Partners?
How do I find them?

The answer to the first question is easy: YES. 

Yes, I personally feel that you need CPs. I know a few published authors who work without them--but they sorta fall into that same strange crack as the people who write their book in like a week or sell their novel after like a day on sub. The rest of us live in reality. And the reality is, you need CPs--especially when you're just starting out. My writing went to a whole other level once I had people who could point out what I was doing wrong--not to mention having people to turn to when a scene isn't working or a plot thread needs brainstorming is a priceless, priceless thing. So yes. Get a CP. Get 2 or 3 if you can.

Which inevitably leads to the follow-up question of: How do I find them? And that, unfortunately, I don't have an easy answer for. 

Honestly? It's HARD. I think that's why so many people keep asking if they even need them, because it's so hard to find them. And I remember feeling the exact same way.

Because here's the thing: you're not just looking for any writer willing to read your pages and offer suggestions. You're looking for a writer who not only has valuable suggestions to offer (cause uh... not all suggestions are good ones) but who also "gets" your story and what you're trying to do--and who you get along with well enough on a personal level that you can accept their critique without getting your feathers too ruffled. And THAT is a tall order. 

So all of that being said--how do you do it? How do you find CPs?

Basically, you have to put yourself "out there" and LOOK. 

I know some people have found them through conferences, or flyers posted at their library or on the bulletin board at a nearby college. If you're looking for "local" CPs who you could meet with in person, that's probably the best way to go. But I think the majority of us prefer to have a bit wider of a pool to choose from, so we find our CPs online.

Sadly, theperfecrCPforyou.com doesn't exist (if only...) but there are several forum websites where people connect with other writers, like Absolutewrite.com and VerlaKay--even WriteOnCon when the conference is going. And I know lots of people who've had great success with posting in there that they need a CP and seeing who responds. I've even seen bloggers do "CP Matchmaking" or seen people post "ads" on their blogs looking for CPs. Whatever works for you.

Personally, I found my CPs through the blogosphere.  I searched for other bloggers who looked like they were at the same "place" as I was--i.e. serious about writing but still learning--and then spent a few weeks getting to know them through their posts and emails. And once I'd decided that they *might* be a good fit, I proposed the idea of exchanging pages--and squealed with glee with they agreed. And that--as they say--was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

(side note: a lot of time the tendency people have is to reach out to the writers who are already agented/published, wanting their experience--which I get, but ... usually those writers already have CPs they're working with--plus deadlines and publishing obligations--so they usually don't have time to read for anyone else)

Basically, it's hard. And definitely not an overnight process. But it's SO worth it. Do not let the fact that its hard scare you off from trying. Trust me--good CPs are worth their weight in gold.

That's pretty much all I have to say on the subject--other than a few random pointers for making the CP process a bit smoother:

  • Don't ask them to read your pages without offering to read theirs
  • Start by only exchanging a small batch of pages, rather than entire MSs, that way you can make sure you're both a good fit for each other and that you can work with their notes
  • Come to some sort of agreed upon schedule for when you'll each be returning pages with feedback. Obviously you both need to be reasonable and flexible--but exchanging of notes should also be mutual, so make sure you're getting critiques back to them in a timely fashion and that they're doing the same for you.
  • If you don't like their notes, don't be afraid to politely say it's not working out. Not all people have the same vision for a project / can work together. HOWEVER...
  • Remember, you're working with a CP because you want to grow as a writer--not because you want someone to pet you on the head and tell you everything is perfect. A good CP will both praise and push you, and you need to let them, not argue with / ignore them.

Okay, I think that pretty much covers it. Hope that helps!

HAPPY FRIDAY!