Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I hope everyone had a good Memorial Day Holiday. 
But it's over now.  Time to get back to work! This 
week we have Jeffrey Beesler as our distinguished 
guest.  He has unfortunately also turned down my 
request of a dance video.  :( But oh well, he did 
give us his writing picks!  Here we go:
The first of the three songs which I make write to 
is “Flashdance (What a Feeling)” by Irene Cara. 
With a single word swap, I can totally turn this 
song into a song of inspiration for writing. I mean,
how can you not write when you hear lyrics like, 
“Take your passion, and make it happen”?
Song Number Two would have to be “That Was Yesterday” 
by Foreigner. As writers putting our work out there, 
we are going to subject ourselves to a boatload, 
no, a freighter’s worth, of rejection. “That Was
Yesterday” keeps me grounded in today by reminding 
me that there’s no point dwelling on the past, that 
we only have the here and now to make the most out 
And finally, “She’s in Love with the Boy” by Trisha 
Yearwood is a great example not just of song, but 
of great storytelling. Every line comes alive in 
my imagination as I hear Trisha sing about stuff 
like the pick-up truck coming up the road, or the 
Dairy Freeze, or when Tommy gives Katie his high 
school ring. Such imagery serves as an ideal teaching 
tool for getting the perfect word on the page. 
Thanks, Chris, for asking me to share some of my 
favorite songs for writing with all of your readers. 
It was really hard to stop myself at three!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chris Phillips' Mailbag: When You Land an Agent

So I think something happened to Blogger(again) Tues. as I had an email or two saying people couldn't comment.  Be sure to check out this week's MTMWT if you didn't and go follow Debbie.  As always, send me your questions via email or comments.

This week's question comes to us from Marty of Jackson, Arkansas.  Marty Writes:

Longtime reader, first time poster.  I was just wondering if you ever think about how you might change when you land an agent.  Right now you're, like, the coolest dude ever.  Do you think it will change you?


Don't believe everything you read on a blog.  Just because I have a close circle of blogging friends and listen to Bieber doesn't mean I'm that cool.  I am, but you get the point.  I'd like to tell you I'd be down to Earth and continue to treat people the way I always have.  That would be a bold-faced lie.  

The day I land an agent I'm pretty sure I will go out for a steak dinner and sign the receipt for the waitress, "To Molly.  Happy reading, thanks for the water refills," and then sign my name disproportionally large and sloppy with a sharpie, ruining her little black receipt holding book by drawing over the gold embossed MasterCard logo (And I won't even care!) 
I'd drive from there and rent a hotel room for the night that I'd trash.  When the hotel people call me up I'll be like, "Call my agent!" then I'll jump in the El Camino I bought with cash and drive into the sunset. 

...That actually kind of sounds like a regular Wednesday for me.  Maybe I won't really change at all.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Music to Make Write to Starring Debbie LaCroix

I had hoped that I could start a tradition where our MTMWT participants showed off their dance skills after last week's video of Kelly dancing to MJ.  Unfortunately, this week's guest flatly refused that idea and for some reason just wanted to post actual music.  Oh Well!  Debbie LaCroix was at the SCBWI of the Dakotas conference with me and has graciously agreed to share some of her musical favs.  Be sure to check out her blog and look out for her debut picture book coming this August!

First, I’d like to thank Chris for inviting me to be his guest blogger! I’m one of those “I was born with a pen in my hand” people. I’ve been making up and telling stories since I can remember. Sometimes I’ve even sung them.
Besides writing, I’ve always loved theatre, musical theatre is even better! So my Music to Make Write To involves…..
 My favorite Broadway Show Tunes!
I mostly listen to music in the car. This is my free mind time, especially when I have a little drive.  Though I do like other music (I just saw Elton John in concert! WOW), I love to be able to picture the story a musical delivers. Listening to musicals allows me to close my eyes (figuratively) and watch the story come to life.
Right now, my musical obsession is “Wicked.” I saw it in Des Moines, where it was good. And most recently in London, where it was “SPECTACULAR!!!!”
If I was to isolate my favorite song, it’s got to be “What is this Feeling.” 

It uses such great voice and character dialect to convey two characters who can’t stand each other!
I also love “Defying Gravity” because it has so much symbolism in it, and sometimes when I’m writing, I feel like that is what I’m trying to do: Defy Gravity! The writing world is very complex, and you sort of have to close your eyes and jump, hoping your wings (or broomstick), will lead you in the right direction. I’ve taken a few nose dives, though nothing life threatening yet. Luckily, water won’t melt me.
Another favorite song is “Anything You Can Do” from Annie Get your Gun. My dad and I love to break out into song, just for fun, and this is a favorite (along with anything from Fiddler). It’s a great ego booster for me, not sure why. I think it falls into my competitive nature. Really though, my husband and I are due for a duet with this—we compete a lot, all in good fun.  I promise not to record it and torture you. So instead, you can enjoy this modern day take featuring none other than your favorite Harry Potter characters:
And then of course, there is the wonderful song to celebrate getting a rejection letter, brought to you from the gang at “Avenue Q”:
Remember, there is always someone whose life sucks worse than yours, especially if you are Gary Coleman!
Or watch it in Swedish:
But of course, it all goes back to my very favorite musical as a kid! No one can ever deny the power of singing “Tomorrow” from Annie… over, and over, and over, and over….

I can go on and on about my favorite musicals! But if you need a boost, download your favorite musical and remember, “The hills are alive, with the Sound of Music…..”

(Debbie LaCroix is an author from South Dakota. Her debut picture book “It’s Almost Time” comes out this Fall from Kane Miller. You can find her at www.debbielacroix.com or littledebbiewrites.blogspot.com)


Friday, May 20, 2011

SCBWI Dakotas Conference Wrap-Up

This past weekend I made the 3 hour drive to South Dakota for the SCBWI of the Dakotas conference.  It was stellar.  

The lineup:
-Kerry Sparks - Agent, Levine Greenberg
-Chris Rylander - Author, The 4th Stall
-Jacqueline West - NY Times Best-selling author of THE SHADOWS
-Nathan Gasman - Art director, Capstone Publishing
-Emilia Rhodes - Editor, Alloy Entertainment

8:00 I was nervous as all get out.  I just slammed a 5hr energy and was barely coherent.

8:30 Agent Talk.  This part was kind of a review of everything I already knew just by reading blogs, querytracker, and Bransford. (don't tell them you know kids who love it, publishing is slow, etc.) It's amazing how much I feel like I have a handle on the querying and agent process.  There were some differences with her individual agency (which is top-notch) but it feels nice to know that the research is paying off a little bit.  She showed a query by a client who found her through querytracker.net, which I thought was sweet.

9:30 Chris Rylander tells us how he wrote an entire book in 6 weeks over his lunch breaks.  Kid is an amazing talent.  The amount of unspeakable querying sins he committed was immense and confidence inspiring.  

I know it's hard to read so I'll paraphrase, "Chris, You are my inspiration.  I am honored to have you here as are my distinguished guests."

10:45 First page session.  I submitted a page from my more or less shelved book.  I rewrote the first 2 chapters in 1st person a couple weeks ago and wanted to see how it played.  Got a solid amount of laughs.  It was really interesting to hear the page read aloud.  The teacher character sounded like a b, and I hadn't intended that/noticed it.  After the session the editor comes up, introduces herself, and tells me her opinion on one suggestion made.  She also compliments my first page. That felt like this inside:

funny gifs

1:00 Jacqueline West talks about writing a series.  She writes one book of a series with a skeleton outline of the next one ready to go.  She said if you write the whole series it's harder to move pieces around when you need to and compared it to a really big game of Jenga.  One interesting thing both authors said is that other than their editors they don't really have a crit. partner. 

2:00 Emilia Rhodes talks about the hot new trends in YA.  I'm not really a YA author, but it was still very interesting.
Humor and boy focused YA = hard
Mermaids / Dystopian= hot (for now)
Dystopian Mermaid societies with forbidden Werewolf love = my next project

She made an interesting statement about how if you are going to write an angel (or whatevs.) book, read all the angel books you can find, and view it like a photo album, being sure not to repeat old fashion.

4:30 Crit with Jacqueline West,
She was fantastic.  It was like talking to an old friend.  While there's always a lot to work on, having a NYT best-seller say nice things about your work goes miles in the motivation dept.  Basically I will spend the next month reading middle-grade fiction and deciding if and how to convert my works to that format (from simple chapter.)  Also brought up my first page, which felt amazing that she remembered it from the session (they were anonymous,) asked if it was mine by linking the style to my submission. 

Oh and basically my crit partner is a mad genius and everything she told me to smooth over that I hadn't had time to get completely perfect got brought up.  

4:50 I'm outie.  I felt like this:

50 Cent gif Pictures, Images and Photos

If you get a chance to go to a regional SCBWI conference, I highly recommend it.  I'll be headed back to the Dakotas next year.

I also recommend the following books, I'll be reading them over the next week(s) and will share thoughts:


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chris Phillips' Mailbag - Title

This week's question comes to us from Martha of Peculiar, MO (Actual name of an actual town!)  Martha writes:

Hi!  I hope my letter gets selected out of all of the tons and tons of fan-mail I assume you get! I'm giddy with excitement and anticipation!  My question is about the title of these posts.  It's a little... well... plain I guess.  Chris' Mailbag?  BORING!  I was wondering if you could come up with something snazzier.  Maybe the Special Delivery, or the Dropbox.  Let me know what you think.  


Of course I selected your question out of the millions of requests I get a day, it was a great question.  The $5 you put in the envelope didn't hurt *hint* *hint*  Anyway, I didn't really have a good name for this thing when I started it.  I think you might be right.  Don't get me wrong, your suggestions are terrible.  I may as well name it Chris' Vortex of Lost Masculinity Bag.  Hmmm.  Where to go with this?  

We could call it Questionable Answers With Chris.  Nah, all my answers are solid gold.

Maybe, Go Ask Somebody Who Gives a Carp, and I could answer questions only about fish related topics?   Nah, most of the questions you guys would ask would be Crappie (See what I did there?)
We could call it Chris Phillips' Delivery Bag, maybe shorten the word delivery so it's nice and short and would read:  
Chris Phillips - D. Bag

Well, maybe I should just leave well enough alone.  Anyone have any good ideas?


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chris Phillips Ponders Wise Old Sayings 5/18

Absence makes the heart grow fonder...  More like, "Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder."  Amirite?

All's fair in love and war...  Except in love there's no Geneva Convention to violate. 

(Super-bonus alternate ending)
All's fair in love and war...  I just poked my wife in the face.  She disagrees.   

April showers bring forth May flowers...  "Thanks a lot!" says March showers.

As you make your bed, so you must lie upon it...  That sounds really difficult.  I'm not much of a multi-tasker. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Music To Make Write To Starring Kelly Polark

In the past I've stated that participants are chosen based on their looks.  This week's participant, Kelly Polark Was not picked for that reason(foxy as she may be.)  She was selected solely on her dancing abilities.

To say I love music is an understatement. I am crazy about music. I am borderline obsessed with it and the musicians who offer it to me on my iPod. One of my fave things to do is go to concerts. Rock concerts of course where I headbang and throw the devil horns. So it is no surprise that my middle grade manuscript has a rock theme. One thing I cannot do is write while my music is playing, because then I sing along to it and lose track (unless I’m at Starbucks, for some reason I can tune it out).
So here are a few tunes that would be on a soundtrack to my manuscript.


Papa Roach is one of the best live bands ever. Lead singer Jacoby Shaddix is a madman at concerts -running into the audience, moving to every beat in the song, and shaking his sweat onto the crowd. Jacoby is also the name of my mc’s dad (coincidence? I think not.)

My main character, Stef, has one thing after another happen to her throughout the book so this song is a great mantra to keep going even if it feels like a kick in the teeth.

Cuz if it feels like a kick in the teeth, I can take it.
Throw your stones and you won't see me break it.
Say what you want, take your shots.
You're setting me free with one more kick in the teeth!

I’M NOT OKAY by My Chemical Romance

Great teenage angst song. And a character in my book is named Gerard.  Coincidentally like MCR’s lead singer!

LEARN TO FLY by Foo Fighters

My character loves silly Foo Fighter videos. If you want good music mixed with goofiness check out this out. Jack Black is even in it. Other funny Foo videos are Long Road to Ruin, Everlong, and Big Me!

Lastly, a fourth bonus song (*Chris Phillips Editorial Note*: CHEATER! ;p) is SEIZE THE DAY by Avenged Sevenfold -link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-B2yzG6Gj0A Stef’s mom starts each morning with an inspirational rock song. Here’s one of them. This song is more of a love song I guess, but the title fits the day!

Thanks to Mr. Phillips for letting me share this tunage with you. Rock on with your bad self, Chris!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Laughter is the Best Medicine Blog Partay!

This post is a part of the Laughter is the best cocaine Medicine Blogfest!  What do you mean you haven't heard of it?  Go here!

So here's my patented racist joke.  Before you get too worked up, it's not offensive, calm down, quit flipping through your Rolodex for the ACLU hotline number and just read it.  

Racist Joke:
Q:  How many Kurds does it take to change a lightbulb?

(scroll down for the answer)

(a little more)


Great joke, huh?  I always knew you were a racist.  The best part of that joke is that you can change the ethnicity (even to anglos) and the activity and it's still the best joke ever.  Came up with that one on a trip in Korea.

Have a great Monday, Kelly Polark is here tomorrow for MTMWT.

Next person on the blogfest is here.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Oddz n' Endz 5/16

Welcome to Another week at the ole' ranch blog.  This is a day early so I can squeeze in the blogfest tomorrow. 

-I just got back from South Dakota where I attended the SCBWI of the Dakotas conference.  I'll do a wrap-up Fri.  I want to give it more than a paragraph's blurb since it was awe-inspiring. 

-Speaking of exotic writing getaways, Jessica Bell is hosting a writing retreat/workshop in Greece.  Deets here.

-I've lost over 20 pounds in about 2 months.   I'm on this progressive new diet where I have to have hunted and killed everything I eat.  The only wild animals 'round these parts is rabbit, sparrow, and really tiny frogs, so that limits things.  You can't hunt and kill a Twinkie, can you? 

Photographic proof (of weight-loss, not twinkie-hunting):


Tomorrow is the laughter is the best medicine blogfest.  Tues Kelly Polark is here for MTMWT.  Wed. has some wise sayings, and Thursday more mail.  Friday should be my wrap-up of the Dakotas (which was stinking phenomenal.)
Have a good week.  


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Chris Phillips' Mailbag: Sugar Daddy

What is this new exciting thing sweeping the Bloggosphere?  Why, it's Chris Phillips' Mailbag of Course!  If you want to be uber popular with all of your friends and get a question answered by Chris Phillips, then just send him and email, leave a comment, or mail him a birthday card with $5!

This Week's Letter comes to us from Hart Johnson of Keweenaw, Michigan.  Hart Writes:
Dr. Mr. Phillips,

Are you interested in being an online sugar daddy, whereby you sent me money to support the lifestyle of a relatively successful writer, and I will can you Pooh-bear and daddio and talk about how generous you are?

See, I can't do the real thing, because HWMNBMOTI would take issue, but probably he'd be okay if it was only in writing. I'd be willing to cease and desist posting naked man butts as of the arrival of the first (large) check...

Can't Hurt to Ask 


I would love to be someone's sugar daddy.  However, if it's online, I'm technically only getting <10% of the experience, and therefore, you would also only get that much back.  So instead of a hundred dollars I would send you two scratch tickets and the Baltic Avenue I got from the McDonald's Monopoly game.  Also instead of a fur coat you would only get a fur from a squirrel my dog killed.  It really doesn't seem cost efficient in my opinion.  But if you still like the idea, email me your address and I'll start mailing your "perks" right away.  

Forever Yours,
Chris "Sugar Daddio" Phillips

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chris Phillips Ponders Wise Old Sayings 5/11

A rising tide lifts all boats...  And all Party-Barges. 

A rolling stone gathers no moss...  Instead it gathers mud, and animal droppings.  I'd kind of prefer the moss.

Actions speak louder than words...  Unless the words are long the lines of, "I don't love you anymore." and the action is an armpit fart.

Good things come to those who wait...  So does death, so don't wait too long, or wait in burning buildings, or underwater, or in Libya, or... well, you get the idea.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Music To Make Write To Starring Liz Fichera

This week we welcome Liz Fichera to the blog.  If you don't already follow her, I highly recommend doing so.  

*Official Content Warning!* 
While none of Liz's selections contain inappropriate language (unless you count Scottish accents,) some do contain Country Music, a type of music known to the Surgeon General's office to cause 1) a hoopin' and a hollerin' 2) non-lite beer drinking 3) general appreciations for pickups, implements, and steel guitars. 

Living in the American Southwest, I listen to a lot of country music.  I’m quite certain it’s part of the Arizona State Constitution that anyone who lives in Phoenix must worship (and crank) country music at all times. Or else.  Music is always playing when I write.  No big surprise then that two of my three selections are country tunes.  I heart them. 

 I adore Miranda Lambert’s raw, edgy voice and I probably could listen to her sing the phone book.  My latest fave is The House That Built Me.  


Jerrod Niemann singing Lover, Lover.  So sexy and sultry.  Gets me every time.  And he’s cute.  *Sighs*


My only non-country selection is Whole, Wide World by The Proclaimers.  My favorite Scottish geeks.  I’ve loved them ever since they came on the scene with 500 Miles.  If this song doesn’t get you out of your chair and dancing, please get your blood pressure checked.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Oddz/Endz 5/9

This week someone came to my blog using the keywords: "how to do chris phillips"

To that person and everyone else, welcome.  

-This week I'm gearing up for the SCBWI of the Dakotas conference this weekend.  I'm excited/nervous.  If anyone is going, let me know and I'll let you buy me a "soda."

-There is still one more week to sign up for the Laughter is the Best Medicine Blogfest.

-I'm on the twitter.  My name is @wisenewsayings.  I only have 1,193,869 less followers than Jersey Shore's JWOWW.  Are we gonna let her beat me?  I think not!

-Anything else that needs pumped on Oddz/Endz let me know via email, or if you want to sign up for MTMWT, or ask me a question for the mailbag posts, or tell me about your Great Aunt Sally.

-Check out Middle Grade Mafioso.  Kind of a funny take on starting a YA Mafia facsimile for MG, but from the perspective of Don Corleone.

Come back for MTMWT tomorrow with Liz Fichera.  Wednesday?  More like WisdomDay, and Thursday I check the mail (mostly bills :( )


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Dearest Mother,

Thank you for passing me into this world through your cesarean incision.

Your Loving Son,
Chris Phillips

Friday, May 6, 2011

So.. I'm on The Twitter

Yay?  It's just me, but I've never liked the whole #twitter idea.  From the offset, when I was first told of twitter and saw the little blue bird mascot, I thought, "#pfft!"  

I never even considered the concept, just the name felt so #emasculating.  "What have you been doing today?"  I've been on a website all day named after the sound a wimpy bird makes!  Why does it have to be a tiny bird noise?  They should have named it Ka-Kaw!  "Hey, Chris!  Just saw your latest #Ka-Kaw!  Good stuff."  Would feel nice, but no... it's a tweet.

But I'm on it, so I guess I should quit whining.  I figure that if I'm going to do this thing, I should do it right.  So the first thing I did was add @Beiber.  I've added a lot of people from here, but add me so I get everyone I missed. 

Here I be:

What do you guys think of twitter?  Oooo!  Gotta go.  Biebzy is tweeting about "having a moment!"  Deep stuff.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Chris Phillips' Mailbag: Cold Feet

Have you been into Radio Shack lately?  What a crap hole!  I mean first of all, they are never really in shacks.  Talk about false advertising.  Secondly their slogan is patently false.  They say, "You've got questions.  We've got answers."  Well, I have questions alright.  So I went into Radio Shack last week and asked the salesperson, "Excuse me, but where do baby storks come from?"  Simple question... no good answer.  So if you have a question and truly want it answered, basically there are two things you can do.  1. Read the Bible (really long) 2. Send me an email asking me a question.  I'll answer it right here on the blog and I won't even make you stop eating pork or repent!

This week's question comes from M. Pax of Pacific Northwest, Idaho.  M. Pax writes:

My feet are often cold.  Do your feet often get cold?


You should check very carefully and make sure you wear shoes and socks when you are outside.  It might sound overly commonsensical, but it's like when you walk around your house looking for your keys for about a half-hour and then you feel around in your pocket and realize... I don't even own a car!
Me on the other hand, I use slippers to keep my feet warm.  Here is a pic of the slippers I'm wearing today:

Hope that helps.  

Your Pal,

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chris Phillips Ponders Wise Old Sayings 5/4

A stitch in time saves nine...  A stitch in the Time-Space Continuum saves everybody.

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck...  It might still be a robot.

All the world's a stage... I told you there's someone watching me!

A penny saved is a penny earned...  917 pennies saved is still only $9.17

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Music To Make Write To Guest Starring Talli Rolland

This week we are lucky that Talli Rolland, author of The Hating Game has agreed to join us and take a break from all of this Royal Wedding hub-ub and share her favorite writing inspiring music.  Talli, take er' away! 

I’ve never been able to write to music; there’s more than enough noise in my head already! But I do love to listen to music to get me in the mood. Here are my top selections!

1) Nocturne No. 20 in C-sharp minor, by Chopin.

There is something so haunting, yet calming, about this. I’m a big fan of Chopin, and this is one of my all-time favourites.

2) Someone Like You, by Adele.

If you ever need to write a gut-wrenching love scene, I recommend listening to this first. It will get you in the spirit!

3) Jerusalem (British hymn by William Blake and Charles Hastings Perry.)

This is a bit of a renegade choice, but since my characters are British and my novels set in the UK – and I’m not a born and bred native – I listen to this to channel my inner Brit!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Oddz n' Endz

I hope everyone had a good weekend, or at least had a better weekend than Osama (Go America!)  The news story last night interrupted CSI Miami, and I kind of felt like CBS should have either told me who killed the girl or at least brushed Osama's beard for clues.  Is that weird?  Throw me a bone, CBS!   

As always, be sure to pass along any links or promos you want me to let people know about on Oddz n' Endz through email.

-If you haven't signed up for the Laughter is the Best Medicine blogfest, go here right now and sign up. 

-I have been busy revising my latest Manuscript.  My query is up for critiquing here and there.
-Talli Rolland will be by tomorrow for MTMWT, Wed. thoughts will be pondered, and Thursday mail will be answered.  Fri-Sunday I will be drinking moonshine that I made in my garage. 

That is all.