Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Write Time

A few days ago, I had a major breakthrough for a story idea. With two middle-grade books coming out in the next couple of years, I thought I’d dabble in YA, just for a change of pace. Problem was, I couldn’t come up with a good hook. I pondered ideas for months. And months. And then it came to me. I raced to my computer and wrote the query. I know, I’m backwards. But I find writing the query first helps me to identify the stakes, the conflict, and the hook more clearly. Then I can dig in and write the first chapter. Which, I did, because I was so excited and just couldn’t wait! This isn’t such a big deal, of course. All writers do this sort of thing. Except that the timing stinks worse than my house (more on this below*). So why is the timing particularly bad? 1) We’re moving 400 miles away tomorrow.
2) I’m consulting for 3 different companies, all of which are in high season.
3) We’re moving 400 miles away tomorrow.
4) My dog just tussled with a skunk. *
5) We’re moving 400 miles away tomorrow.
6) I’m a Pitch Wars mentor with lots of intriguing submissions to read.
7) We’re moving 400 miles away tomorrow.
8) I have a husband, 2 kids, 1 cat, and one very smelly dog.
9) We’re moving 400 miles away tomorrow. Do you see a theme?
There’s lots going on right now! All great things (except for the skunk), but keeping me busy nonetheless. As writers, what can we do to keep the creative vibe alive while we spend most of our time on the rest of our lives? Here are a few suggestions that may help: 1) Use mindless tasks as brainstorming sessions. I think of my best story ideas in the shower, while walking my dog, or while driving. Although I’m not actually writing during these times, I’m plotting, and that’s just as important. And bonus: I’m clean, exercising, or getting somewhere! 2) Determine if you’re a morning person, a night person, or another-time-of-day person. My husband does his best thinking at night. He also is impossibly strong and shimmers in the sunshine, so it’s possible that instead of a night person, he’s actually a vampire. Many of my writer friends are early morning risers (hence the #5amwriters club), but since it’s not even light out at 5 am, I’m forbidden by my brain for joining them. I’m another-time-of-day person. I still haven’t figured out what time that is, but I do know that it varies from day to day. Whenever I have a break in my calendar, I sit at my computer and write. It’s not a set time, but it works for me. 3) Use your time wisely. This isn’t always easy. It’s so easy to get sucked in to any number of things that are not on our “To Do” list. A few things that get me are Facebook, Twitter, tv, and cleaning skunk off my dog. But when I focus on my story, I find I’m inspired to write, and those other things naturally take a back seat. 4) Find a motivated critique partner to keep you accountable. Preferably one that carries a whip. 5) Give yourself a break. Sometimes, you really are too busy and writing may have to wait longer than you’d like. That’s happened to me more times than I can count. But you’ll get there. And in the meantime, keep thinking, plotting, and most importantly, keep your dog away from skunks.

Friday, August 1, 2014

I'm a Pitch Wars Mentor (aka Pitch Wars bio)!

Pitch Wars is here! Who’s ready to rumble?

I’m thrilled to be a mentor for this legendary event! I know you have lots of terrific mentors to choose from, but how many of them wake up with hair this spectacular?


Real name: Ronni Arno Blaisdell

Pen name: Ronni Arno (because apparently there are 17,265 incorrect ways to spell and pronounce “Blaisdell”) Categories: MG Genres: Contemporary, Magical Realism, Light Fantasy

My debut novel, RENEE REINVENTED, comes out from Simon & Schuster/Aladdin in Fall 2015. A second middle-grade contemporary, tentatively titled POPPY SEEDS, publishes with Simon & Schuster/Aladdin in Summer 2016. I’m repped by the truly amazing Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary.
When I’m not writing, you can find me stalking my kids for story ideas. I often volunteer to drive my children and their friends to pretty much anywhere in the continental US (longer car rides = more time to eavesdrop). I like to kayak and eat chocolate. Oh, there’s also a day job. I’m a marketing PR, and events consultant. WHAT I LOVE:

I tend to gravitate toward middle-grade and young YA. Perhaps that’s because, on any given day, I am mentally between the ages of 11 and 15. I’d love to read a smart story with any (or all) of the following:
  • a strong hook
  • some humorous elements  (but not over-the-top)
  • realistic dialogue
  • heart (I want to laugh! I want to cry! I want to feel all the feels!)
My own work tends to be on the lighter side, but I always add poignant undertones. That will be an important element for me. I adore slightly quirky and very spunky characters who find themselves in unique predicaments. Let’s be honest… tweens and young teens are absolutely outrageous. I love their sense of humor, I love their irrational motivation, and I especially love the heartfelt ways they try to be both individuals, and part of the crowd. If you’ve got characters like that, I want to meet them!  What sucks me in the most, of course, is VOICE! If you’ve got it, I want to read it! WHAT I DON'T LOVE:

I don’t like to be grossed out, so horror is usually not for me. Although I adore reading intense, brooding, and dark YA, I’m probably not the best at critiquing that type of thing. WHY YOU SHOULD PICK ME (besides the hair, I mean...):

  1. I read. A lot. I write. A lot. I figure some of that reading and writing has seeped into my brain and helped me to become a decent beta-reader. 
  2. And speaking of beta-readers, I read dozens and dozens of manuscripts! I am lucky enough to be a part of the most spectacular critique group on the interwebz, MG Beta Readers. This group is filled with brilliant writers and all-around talented people. We critique each other’s work, we help each other grow as writers, and we blog at Kidliterati. We laugh at each other’s jokes. Or sometimes, we laugh at our own jokes. Many of my CP's and friends have found agents, and many have gotten book deals. While I'm sure this isn't because of my mad skills, I read lots of great manuscripts and because of that, have a pretty good idea of what agents are looking for. 
  3. I entered both #PitMad and #PitchMas last year, and received a whole bunch of requests from them. I can help you do the same!
  4. As a marketing and PR professional, I know what sells! There are few things I like doing more than writing query letters. Weird, I know. Often I write my query letter before I write the actual manuscript… that’s how much I like writing query letters. There may be a self-help group for this. I should find out. But in the meantime, give me my fix! I’ll help you perfect your pitch and find your niche!
  5. Did I mention I like to rhyme?
  6. Spelling and punctuation mistakes leap off the page. I’ll catch those buggers and make them pay. Or, at least, I’ll point them out to you.


Long walks on the beach, boxes of the finest dark chocolate, and a fun and fruitful writing experience. Besides that...

The most important thing in looking to improve your manuscript is to keep an open mind. I know how hard it is to put your work out there. 


But, as I’ve learned, beta readers make your work better. I’m a kind and thoughtful person (unless you try to eat my chocolate, in which case we’ll have words). I’ll give you my honest opinion in the nicest way possible. But I’ll always be honest. I only ask that you keep an open mind. At the end of the day, it’s your story, and hopefully what I say will resonate with you and make your manuscript that much better. For more information and how to submit your entries, please visit

And be sure to check out all the incredible mentors!

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Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you and your fabulous submissions soon!