Saturday, March 8, 2014

I've crawled out of my cave...temporarily!

During the month of November, I participated in the NanoWriMo 50,000 word challenge. I woke up daily at 4:30 am and regurgitated my YA novel, Like Vanessa. Desperate to enjoy Thanksgiving, I threw together a mish mosh ending that I was NOT satisfied with. But, hey, at least I'd written 50,000 words, right? Bring on the stuffing!

Fast forward through the holidays and the New Year, I pondered on what the proper ending should be for my project. Finally in February, I spent the month fleshing everything out and came up with an ending that I can be happy with. (And dare I say, this new ending leaves room for a sequel?)

I'm looking forward to the months that lie ahead. A lot of exciting things are happening or about to happen.First, registration for the June SCBWI Conference is coming up on March 22. Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm absolutely OBSESSED with this conference! Next, I'm in the process of combing through my novel before I hire an editorial consultant to help me present my best work for the conference. Lastly, I'm starting to dip my toes into the world of Freelance Writing and I've created a website that combines both my children's and freelance writing interests. Here's my new website So far, I've gotten two assignments and I couldn't be happier.

Things are looking up....


Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Little Bit of This & A Little Bit of That...

October came in with a whisper and marched out like a giant. Between managing a class of always-excited third graders, holding down the home front with a three year old (who NEVER stops moving), a greedy, lazy Beagle, and a husband who I'm convinced is a 5 year old trapped in a 35 year old man's body, let's just say life has been pretty "interesting."

Business aside, I haven't given up my writing appetite. I had the opportunity to attend the Rutgers One on One Conference on October 19th and what an experience! For every conference attendee, there was one author, editor, or agent. Can you say SCORE? At the beginning of the conference, they separated the attendees and the professionals with an air wall. Then the conference organizer, Marietta Zacker, told us that the air wall would open momentarily. And when it did, the scene turned into a real live "Hunger Games!" Every writer for himself! Find your agent! Find your editor! Impress them with your writing savvy! It was great and I loved every second of it! It was definitely worth every penny and I hope to be selected to attend next year's conference.

On to November....I've pushed my Picture Book writing aside (for a moment). My focus this month is Nanowrimo. 50,000 words written in 30 days. I know, I must be friggin' nuts! I'm holding strong at 41,827 words and hope to finish before Thanksgiving. December will be spent editing and revising. But let's be honest, I'll probably edit and revise for the next year...or three! I'm hoping to fix it up enough to submit it for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest in January and then really get it ready in time to pitch it at my FAVORITE writing event...the NJSCBWI June Conference!

I hope everyone will take a moment to smell the pumpkins and enjoy the holiday season with your loved ones!

Til next time....

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

If At First You Don't Succeed...

Two years ago, I  applied for the Rutgers One-on-One Plus Conference. Unlike many other conferences where you pay your fee and are an automatic shoe-in, this one was much different. Candidates had to basically "audition" to be accepted. Long story short, when I applied two years ago I didn't get in...womp womp womp!

That was okay because as the saying goes, "If at first you don't succeed, try again." And that's exactly what I did! As writers, time is precious. Therefore we cannot waste it on losing our confidence. I did, however, take the time to self-reflect ad work on my craft. At the time that I originally applied, I was writing a Middle Grade novel. Over the course of two years, I started experimenting with Picture Books and quickly discovered the task of writing one to be equally challenging. But lo and behold, my picture book is what earned me a slot in the Rutgers conference! Yay for picture books!

My journey with middle grade, however, is not complete. I've challenged myself to start something new and look forward to entering Nanowrimo, better know as National Novel Writing Month. In this online challenge, authors are encouraged to write 50,000 words towards a novel they are working on. I've already given myself a head start and am currently at 6,000. It's not 50k, but hey it's a start!

I will post back in October with a summary of how the conference went. I'm really looking forward to it. For more information on the Rutger's One-on-One Plus Conference, click here.

Til next time.....

xoxo Tami

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hiring an editor....take the plunge!

For the past few years, I've always gotten my critiques from the members in my Westfield Children's Writer's group. Now don't get me wrong, each member over the years has given me feedback that has challenged and inspired me. (and in some cases brought me right back to the drawing board!) But, that's ok! That's what a good group does....rips your work to shreds and sends you off with a hug to go fix it and make it better! Oh, how I love my critique group! :-)

Up until recently, however, I'd never entertained the thought of paying an editorial consultant to read and critique my work. Mostly because a) I didn't even know that there was such a service and b) my humble teacher's salary has turned me into a penny pinching, clearance rack sifting, couponing FOOL! So paying hundreds of dollars on a hobby (when I had big girl bills) didn't seem realistic at the time.

But, alas, I have seen the light! Sure, writing is my hobby, but in truth this is something that I hope to one day turn into my business. Investing in myself, I've learned, is necessary if I am to take my writing to the next level. With that said, over a year ago, I had the opportunity to have a critique session with Simone Kaplan from Picture Book People. Signing up for her email list was simple. I did it right through her website and whadd'ya know she sent me a COUPON to receive $50 off a critique! Oh, I couldn't pass that up!

This is now my third time working with Simone and I'm VERY pleased with her work. She has given me some sound advice and great ideas on how I can market two of my manuscripts to make it more appealing to editors and agents. I'm confident that her feedback will propel me in the right direction...onward!

My selfish inner six year old doesn't want to give out her info (I want her all to myself!!!!), but I'd be wrong for not sharing. Check out Simone at

And tell her Tami sent you!

Til next time....

xoxo Tami

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Five Things I'm Excited About:

1. The second installment of the Percy Jackson series is coming to movie screens across the country! It's been a long time coming! It debuts August 7th in a theater near you. But if you are a book geek like me, make sure you READ "Sea of Monsters" before actually going to see the movie. Let's be honest...the book is ALWAYS better than the movie!
                                                        Click above to see the trailer!

2. My critique partner, Christine Duval, is now SIGNED with Bloomsbury!!! Wooooo hooooo! There is hope for us all! I've known Christine for two years now and have had the pleasure of not only reading her New Adult Fiction book, Freshman Forty, but I've seen it evolve over time. The story hooks you in right away as 19 year old college freshman, Laurel, discovers that she is pregnant at the beginning of the semester. Whereas most college freshman gain weight from the God-awful campus food, Laurel's problems are so much bigger than that. I wish Christine the BEST of luck and I'm oh so proud to have followed her on this journey!

3. Super good news! My virtual friend, Tara Lazar's picture book, The Monstore, will now be sold in brick and mortar Barnes & Nobles. I can't WAIT to get my copies! Congrats Tara!

But if you can't wait, you could always order your copy here.

4. Women Who Write, Inc. will hold their annual conference on Saturday, September 28, 2013! It's not too late to join, but hurry! Manuscripts are due by August 20, 2013! Click here for more info! Hope to see you there.

5. Last but not least....I'm EXCITED that the Westfield Children's Critique group starts up again in September. Here's what's new. My writing partner/leader of our group, Katie Bartlett, has embarked on a new journey by entering the MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. When I first heard the news, my immediate reaction was WHAT??? You can't let the group fall apart!!! (selfish I know!) But, truly I am happy for her and know that she will eventually return to us with a wealth of knowledge to share. Katie nominated me, more like forced me haha, to be the new leader of the group in her absence. Oh joy! With that said, our group is down to three members and we are seeking new members. So to my writer friends in cyber space, please spread the word! Interested members can contact me via email at

'Tis all for now! Enjoy what's left of summer folks!


Sunday, June 9, 2013

NJSCBWI Conference Days 2 & 3

The fun continued at the New Jersey SCBWI Conference! Day 2 began with a keynote speech from the funny, most talented author-illustrator I've ever met....wait for it.... PETER BROWN! Does he even need an introduction? Probably not, but allow me to do so any way. Peter Brown is an award-winning author. Some of his books include "The Curious Garden," "Creepy Carrots," and my favorite "Children Make Terrible Pets." Hearing the journey of his career starting from childhood to where he is now was completely inspiring. The nuggets of wisdom he offered was pure gold.

Day 2 continued with workshops: "Nonfiction for Beginners" with Carolyn Yoder, "Writing for Magazines" with Connie Colon, "Growing an Evergreen" with Ame Dyckman, and finally "Channel Your Inner Nonfiction Nerd" with....wait for it....ME! All of the workshops went extremely well and I learned a TON. I have to say for my first time presenting to adults, I didn't do so bad! Yay me!

Later on that night, I was invited to the Faculty Dinner. I have to admit that being invited to this event really made lil ole' me feel super special. Kind of like the nerdy girl in the lunch room who finally gets invited to sit at the "cool" table. I had a great time getting to know YA/MG agent Erin Harris of Folio Literary Management. She is super sweet, super funny, and super pretty. I couldn't help but whip out the pageant girl in me and try to convince her to do a pageant. Lo and behold, she's a teeny hair older than the age cut off for my pageant, Miss New Jersey American Coed. Darn!

Day 3 rounded out the end of the conference weekend. The morning speech given by Tara Lazar was UH-MAZING!!! The title of her speech was "The Myth of the Great  Divide: Overcoming Obstacles in the Path to Publication." I laughed! I cried! But most of all I was INSPIRED! Thank you Tara for letting us "pre-published" authors know that the great divide doesn't really exist. If you haven't picked up her picture book, THE MONSTORE, be sure to order it now! Let's support out fellow writer friends! Sidebar: "pre-published" has a nice ring to it, right? I'll take it...for now!

After the speech, I attended "Writing Across Cultures" with Suzy Ismail, "Amazing First Lines" with John Cusick, and "Picture Book Revision" with Simone Kaplan. In between workshops, I had a pitch session with Stephen Barbara of Foundry. On a side note, I should mention the anxiety-inducing, speed-pitching fest that is the infamous "Pitch Session" at the SCBWI Conference. Seriously, it's like the reaping of the Hunger Games meets the "on-stage question" at the Miss Universe pageant! You walk in a room and have four minutes to explain your book. (and hopefully pique the agent's interest) My piece of advice is to know your work before pitching it and most of all, drink water before going in the room. Dry mouth attacks like a thief in the night ten seconds before it's time to walk into the room. And there is nothing worse than talking to an agent when your lips aren't visible because they're glued to the top layer of your gums! Anyone remember "Fire Marshall Bill" from In Living Color? Ok, maybe I'm dating myself.

Not a good look for an Agent Pitch Session

The day ended with a closing keynote from Lauren Oliver, author of "Requiem", "Pandemonium", and "Delerium." Again, another superbly delivered speech. The best part was she read an excerpt from her next book. (Insert the recognizable childhood tease...nah nah boo boo!)

This year's conference was the best one I've ever attended. I can't wait to attend again next year!


Saturday, June 8, 2013

2013 SCBWI Conference Day 1

It's my fourth year attending the NJSCBWI. Here's a run down of how my first three years went. Me hiding in a corner afraid to socialize. My writing should speak for itself, right? Not quite. My #1 goal this year, above continuing to work on my craft, was to network. It's the name of the game!

Conferences like these are an open door to make connections with all levels of folks in the industry; unpublished writers, published writers, agents, editors, illustrators, librarians and the list goes on and on.

Day one of the conference has come and gone. I had a one-on-one with Janine Hauber of the Sheldon Fogelman Agency. She gave me a full TYPED page of notes on my picture book, THAT'S IT, I QUIT! Any writer knows that a full page from an agent is like a goldmine! So I was very thankful for that and all of her constructive feedback.

Later on in the evening was the Mix & Mingle--also known as an excuse for the writing community to get together share an appetizer, a drink and a laugh! And boy did I have a great time at that event! I sat with a group of wonderful ladies from a critique group from Connecticut. We were then joined by Tricia Lawrence from the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. I have to admit that when she first showed up to our chat circle, I thought she was another writer. By this point, I had already let my guard down. When she said she was an agent, the (shy) writer in me tensed up. But that only lasted for a second. Tricia turned out to be the most welcoming, down to earth agents I've ever come across. By the end of the night, I almost didn't want to leave.

So here it is. Year four of my attendance at this conference and I think I'm finally finding my mojo...finally. I'm learning that this writing thing is so much more than what you put on the paper. It's about the connections that you establish while in the process.

So hats off to day one and onward to day two! More to come!