Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Dumplin's and Dark Forests

Ho Ho Ho, reader and writer friends!  Hope this holiday season finds you surrounded by family and friends and, of course, a big pile of books!

What I've Been Reading:  The last two books I read were fantastic.  
DUMPLIN' by Julie Murphy was about a Dolly Parton fangirl trying to figure out what kind of person she wants to be.  I thought the character arc in this one was amazing.
And Dear Sweet Holly Black, every time I read one of your books I don't want to ever write anything ever again because it will never be as good as your words.  THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST left me with a book hangover.

What I've Been Writing:  Wait, I'm supposed to be writing???  I am currently suffering from idea paralysis.  I got 30 K into my Nano project before abandoning it.  It was eww.  I have had some wild dreams though, and in the wee hours of the night they seem like brilliant book ideas.  I will wake up in the morning with a text from myself with cryptic reminders such as "Donald duck, but in space and with lemongrass."  *scratches head*  Most of these gems are still in the brainstorming phase...

What Else Has Been Going On:  MANNY is still on submission, but it seems like publishing comes to a grinding halt for the holidays, so nothing new to report.

Hope that you have a Holly Jolly Holiday!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Nanowrimo: Middle Grade Style

Happy Fall Y'all from the Fountain City!

What I'm Reading:

I just finished a whole pile of middle grade books to get me in the mood to write my next MG adventure (see below).  AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS was a fun read.  It was a historical that still felt very relavent.

THE YEAR OF BILLY MILLER was recommended to me at a conference as an example of great MG voice, and it did not disappoint.  The voice and emotions portrayed by the kids in this book were brilliantly done.

What I'm Writing:  
IT'S NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH!  I love me some Nanowrimo.  In fact, I participated in Nano in 2013 kind of on a whim, and now I am almost a real writer with an agent and everything!  I love the spirit of Nano, and all the in-real-life events.  Our local library has write-ins every Monday night in November and I love hanging out with other writers!  This year, I am writing a middle grade geocaching adventure.  Here's my progress so far:

What Else is Going On:
Tonight kicks off our SCBWI conference weekend!  I can't wait to mingle with other authors, listen to some great sessions, and get some signed books!  Woo Hoo!  November is the best writing month EVER.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

How I Got My Agent

It has been an exciting few weeks, and I am happy to announce that I have signed with the talented Kate Testerman of KT Lit!

How I Got My Agent:

This story is not as dramatic as some.  I queried her.  She requested a partial.  She liked the partial and requested the full.  She liked the full and emailed me that she wanted to talk.

Here are the thoughts that ran through my mind when I read that email:  Where's the BUT???  (I really loved your story...BUT....)  And then I thought, "OMG.  I have to talk on the phone."  Because I really am not so good on the phone with the talking and the words.  My next thought was that she was probably going to give me an extensive list of revisions to complete before she offered representation.  I braced myself for the worst.  Would she want me to cut characters?  Add in subplots?  Change the beginning, middle and end????

But the phone call happened, and I managed to speak intelligently and not babble too much and Kate was super nice and told me how much she loved my book (Where's the BUT????).  She had one suggestion for revision that was so easy I almost cried, and when I sent it to her a few days later she said it was "Perfect.  Exactly what I was talking about."  Whew.  And then I had an agent!

Kate is a whiz with YA and MG sales.  Her clients that I spoke to had nothing but awesome things to say about her, so I really feel good about our mutual togetherness.  So here's to The Manny and the Motorcycle going on submission... May the Odds be Ever in our Favor!

(And here is my Fancy-Schmancy really real author head shots taken by the amazing Calle MacGregor)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Frosty Mosquitos

Hey Friends!  What's up with you on this lovely Wednesday?

What I'm Reading:  
Just finished this gem.  Sarah Addison Allen is the master of magical realism.  I love this book so hard.

And now i am diving into MOSQUITOLAND.  The MC in this is so quirky and crazy and man oh man does she have voice.

What I'm Writing:  I am in full blown editing mode.  I have given myself a deadline of having a second draft of BERNICE BUTTMAN'S GUIDE TO HALFWAY by the end of September.  I am enjoying the edits so far. I love taking this formless lump and making it shine!
PS- what do you think of the working title?  I'm still not sure...

What Else is Going On:  My kiddos have been sick, so really not much.  I entered a flash fiction contest and participated in #Pitmad.  I am prepping for SCBWI conference in November!  Can't wait!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

My really, really, OFFICIAL MENTEE BIO

Last week I posted a little (meme heavy) "about me" post, before I knew that Mentee Bio's were an official thing with a blog hop and a hashtag and everything.  I felt the need to up my game.  So....

Take Two.

Who am I?
My name is Niki Lenz, and I live in Kansas City, Missouri with my husband and two kiddos.  My husband is a police officer, and I'm a stay at home mom.  My kids are Loralie (7) and Roman (3).  Here's our family wearing white on the beach (like ya do.)
I went to Southwest Baptist University, and have my degree in Elementary Education.  I taught Kindergarten for six years in the inner city, which was interesting.  Then I worked as a wedding planner for three years, which was even more interesting.  Kindergarteners and brides have a lot in common.
I decided to start writing novels kind of on a whim.  I thought I wanted to write picture books, and I heard about Nanowrimo at a writer's group.  It sounded like a fun challenge, and now, six novels later, I can honestly say it changed my life!

Things I Love:
These guys.

Anything vintage:  Red lipstick, polka dots, Buddy Holly, hot rollers, Motown, dresses that twirl.

BOOKS:  So so many books.  I read a lot of MG, YA, and even occasionally some adult.  Here's my Goodread's Profile, to see all my faves.

Movies:  Anything based on a book.
(I know this is supposed to be my less silly bio, but come on... this picture makes me wanna pee my pants.)
Oh, plus Pitch Perfects One and Two and Sharknado.  Don't judge me.  Watch it with wine, you will laugh so hard.

TV:  Gilmore Girls, Game of Thrones, The Office, Parks and Rec, Reign, Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, Friends, Breaking Bad

Food:  Chocolate, sushi, pizza, cheese, anything that I didn't have to cook.
Travel:  I've been to Jamaica, Hungry, Romania, Ireland, Mexico and Italy

 Friends:  I am involved in MOPS, Bunko, Women's Bible Study, Church, and I have a close group of friends.  I am also involved in three writing critique groups, and I am a member of SCBWI.
(Here's me *middle* and two of my besties at a sporting event.  I didn't even bring a book!)

Hidden Talents:  I know the words to every song EVER, sewing, blogging, photography, craftiness.  I know four chords on a guitar and lots of songs that only require five chords.

Things I don't Love:
cop haters
mean kids
having to wait for sequels
negativity or people with bad attitudes

Okay, well that was only slightly more informative and professional than my last attempt, but I am hoping that my MS will give you a peek into my soul.  (Also, it should be noted that I make a cameo appearance in THE MANNY AND THE MOTORCYCLE.  Miss Jane = ME.)

Thanks for taking the time to read this!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Because the Stalking Goes Both Ways

Hello Writer Friends!   Hope everyone is faring well in the writer-sphere!  Thought I would take a minute to get you caught up on what's up with me.
(Well, Ryan, that's a very good question, but one I will want to cover on another post.)

For now, let's talk about MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
Not that I am super into myself or anything, but I'm currently getting ready to enter Pitchwars,  and I thought it might be a good way for potential mentors to get to know me a little better.  If you already know me, feel free to skip this entire post.  I mean, I will know and it will totally hurt my feelings, but do what you gotta do.

Here's the lowdown on all the fandoms Niki Lenz belongs to:
(I think we did!)  Fun Fact:  I MIGHT have gone to buy the last book at midnight with all the people in capes, and I MIGHT have accidentally yelled out "Expecto Patronum!" in a crowded theater during one of the movies.
Love me some LOTR.  The books were better.  Whatever.

Binge watched Gilmore Girls for the second time when it came out on Netflix.  I AM A COOL MOM.  See above.  And my daughter is named Loralie, so Ha.

I also don't share food, unless it is yours.

Hipster John Snow gets it.

So if any of these made you smile a little bit, we are probably soul mates and even if you don't pick me to be your mentee...

And now back to my regularly scheduled blog headings.

What I'm Reading:
I just finished this book, and you guys... I can't even.  I can best describe it as "delightfully disorienting."  Creepy and amazing.

What I'm Writing:  I finished my rough draft for my latest MG novel during Camp Nano in July.  I didn't make my 50K word goal, but I got to THE END and felt pretty good about it.  Now, it's a rough draft and that means a hot mess, but I think it turned out pretty funny.  The hook is "Honey Boo-Boo meets Sister Act."  Yeah.

What Else is Going On:
PITCHWARS!  This is, in my humble opinion, the most fun writer's contest on Twitter.  I will be entering my MG fantasy, THE MANNY AND THE MOTORCYCLE, a modern retelling of Mary Poppins.  I thought I would share a little snippet, just 'cause.

I pushed my chair slowly between the tables, searching for any hiding spots Darla might have found inviting. The play-dough booger kid stared at me and smiled. I smiled back.
"Hi," he said.
"Hi," I said.
"Why you got that chair with wheelies on it?"
"It's how I get around."
"You don't walk?"
"Oh, Okay." And that was the end of the conversation.
That's why kids are far superior to adults in politeness towards the physically challenged. If they have a question, they ask it. They don't whisper behind your back or secretly wonder if your brain works. I like kids.

So, that's what's up with me!  I wish you a week full of unforgettable characters and witty dialog!  And lots of exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

My Liebster Award

So I have this really amazing CP who has nominated me for a Liebster Award!  It is a fun way to help recognize fun blogs, so I would be honored to accept this award and pay it forward.  So thanks, Jen Henderson for nominating me!  You can find out more about her and her fabulous books here.

Here are the Rules:

1. Thank the nominator 
2. Display award in post 
3. Nominate other bloggers 
4. Answer the 10 questions that your nominator has given you

So here are the answers to your questions, Jen!

1. What was the reason for starting your blog?
It was 2008.  All the cool kids were doing it.  Ha!  But I started The Fountain City Scribe as a place to talk about what I'm reading and writing, and only a smudge of cuteness from my kids.

2. What was the last thing you ate?

Turkey Jerky.  I wish I was kidding.

3. Have you read any books lately? If so what have you read?
I am currently reading I'LL MEET YOU THERE by Heather DeMetrios.  It is amazing.

4. What is your current favorite trend?
Chevron?  I'm not really hip with the trends.

5. If you could be any Disney character who would you be and why?
Belle, obviously.  I would date a beast for that amazing library!

6. What do you think is the hardest part about living in 2015?
The women's clothes!  Ahhh!  I should have been a young woman in the 1940's or 1950's.  I love me a cardigan and a fit and flare dress.

7. If you had to pick only one music artist to listen to for the rest of your life, who would it be?
The Beatles

8. What is your food weakness?
Sugar.  I am an addict, trying to quit but always failing.  Hence, the turkey jerky.

9. Are you a night owl or early bird?
Neither, sadly.  But I am a real firecracker at about one PM.  Try to stop me.

10. If you had the opportunity to go back and relive one day of your life, what day would you choose?

This is kind of a bummer one to end on, but my father passed away in 2010 and I would give anything to spend one more day with him.  It could be an ordinary day, nothing special, but my Dad gave really good hugs.

And now I would like to nominate Mrs. Jennie Booth, another one of my amazing critique partners.

Here are your questions, Jennie!
1.  Which president is your favorite?
2.  What made you want to be a writer?
3.  What is your earliest memory?
4.  Are you more like your mom or more like your dad?
5.  If you could have a super power, what would it be?
6.  What is one of your goals for the next thirty days?
7.  What makes you smile?
8.  If you could go anywhere for a vacation right now, where would you go?
9.  What do your think makes for a really good book?
10.  What house would you be in at Hogwarts???

Drops the Mic.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Books, Books, and Campfire S'mores!

OMG.  I have totally been blog-slacking the last couple of weeks.  Allow me to catch you up on all the fun and excitement you have missed!

What I'm Reading: 
I have been devouring my summer reading list.  BONES AND ALL by Camille DeAngelis was AWESOME.  Canibals.  In love.  It was epic.

 COUNTING BY SEVENS by Holly Goldberg Sloan was pretty awesome, too.  I like it when you are handed a pile of really messed up characters in the beginning, and by the end everyone's lives are better.
 I WAS HERE by Gayle Forman was not really my bag.  I am just not a contemp YA girl.  
 THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir was AMAZING.  It was like MacGyver, but on Mars.  
 FLORA AND ULYSSES was fun and silly.  A squirrel with super-powers helps a family in turmoil? Yes, please!

What I've Been Writing:  

I am halfway done with my WIP!  Woo Hoo!  Camp Nanowrimo has really kicked my butt into gear. Hopefully I will have a finished draft by the end of the month.  I am currently at 25K.  

What Else Has Been Going On:  Summer is flying by!  I've been trying to squeeze each and every drop out of this time with the kiddos!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat

Hello, friends!  It's been an exciting week!

What I'm Reading:  Same as last week.  We've spent a lot of time at the pool and I won't risk water damaging my library books!  Lol.

What I'm Writing:  Feeling a little stuck in my WIP.  Self doubt always starts creeping in at some point and you gotta fight your way through.  Not there yet, but I will be if I press on.

What else is Going On:  I made it into Query Kombat (YAY!) and got eliminated in the first round (BOO!).  I did come out of it with a stronger query for my MG Fantasy (The Manny and the Motorcycle) which is this
Meets this
Getting into QK gave me a fresh burst of energy for this project so I started querying this week.  Hopefully I will get a good response!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Winning at Losing

Hallo Wednesday Warriors!  Here's what's up with me...

What I'm Reading:  I got two books going right now cause I'm just that lazy.  Downstairs is GLORY O'BRIENS HISTORY OF THE FUTURE.  Love the voice in this one, but it's pretty dark, so when my brain needs a break I go upstairs and read...

THE RED QUEEN, which is also pretty dark but it's like a dystopia, so not quite as intense.  Both great reads so far.
What I'm Writing:  Remember last week when I said I crossed 10K in my WIP... That was a lie, apparently, because I just did this week.  But, hey, words.  As long as the word count keeps going up its a win.
What Else is Going On:  My query for my MG Fantasy got picked for Query Kombat!  What an honor.  I am getting KILLED in the contest, but also gleaning helpful critiques, so I'll take it.  Once I make the necessary changes my query will be ready to go out to agents.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Lies and Kombat

What's going on, Wednesday Writers?  
Let's catch up...

What I'm Reading:  I just finished LITTLE BIG LIES by liane Moriarty.  It was SO GOOD.  It was stay up until all hours of the night good.  Read it.

What I'm Writing:  I started drafting my contemp MG, which is currently titled SMALL TOWN HERO, but I am 100% not keeping that name.  I am having so much fun listening to my MC, who is a little rough around the edges. :). I got around 10K written so far, and hope to be done by the end of July.  

What Else is Going On:  I'm participating in Query Kombat this week with my MG Fantasy.  Cross fingers, toes, and any other body parts for me!

What have you been up to this week?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Swap, A Plot, and A Workshop

Hey Writer Friends!  Hope all is well on your end of the bookstore.  I thought I would catch you up on what's going on over here.

What I'm Reading:   I just finished THE SWAP by Megan Shull.  This was a fun take on a Freaky-Friday-like switch.  The concept was interesting enough to keep me reading, but the dialog...  was lacking.  I am around middle school kids frequently and I have NEVER heard anyone talk like they do in this book.  So bad.
I also just finished STORY ENGINEERING by Larry Brooks.
This was a GREAT guide to story planning, but pants-ers beware; Mr. Brooks is pretty vocal about how you are wrong.  LOL.  Since I am an outlin-er myself, I liked the thorough explanation of story beats.  It got my gears turning, that's for sure!

What I'm Writing:
I am still planning a story that I hope to start drafting next month.  It will be a MG contemporary (a first for me).  So far so good!

What Else is Happening:  Last weekend I went to a one day intensive workshop with my local SCBWI branch.  It was all about MG and chapter books, and taught by Candice Ransom (author of over 120 children's books).  I love getting to spend a day with other writers learning new things!