Susan Colebank

CASHING IN is out!!!

Cashing In came out today!!!

It just took two years from contract to hardcover. So, yes, the actual release date ends up being sort of anticlimatic. But it's out! And people can buy it!!! (Hint hint hint.)

In the meantime, I'm running a contest on my website ( that will net you a copy of BLACK TUESDAY (my first book) and a giftcard to Shutterfly (the end-all-be-all photo site that will come in handy this holiday season if you're into matchy-matchy sweaters and family pics). I decided on Shutterfly since the heroine in my book, Reggie, works at a photo shot in a big box store. Here's hoping you have your own Simon the Rat moment! (You've gotta read the book to figure out what I mean by that. Hint hint hint.)

You can also read an excerpt of the book on my site, too, if you need a quart of milk before buying the cow.

Happy November 12th!!

Robin Merrow MacCready


It's pretty quiet out there and I'm getting lonely, but if I close my eyes and concentrate I can hear the clickety-clack of a million keyboards as writers beat out their 50, 000 words for November's National Novel Writing Month.  Because so many of us are trying AGAIN to reach the goal, I thought I'd submit Five Randoms About NaNoWriMo.

1. NOVEMBER:  Something about November says to cozy up by the fire and write.  It might be the dark days and the cold wind, but it always works for me.  My special chair awaits and my tea has cooled off enough to sip.

2. NATIONAL:  I have a bit of a competitive streak in me.  I never let it show as a kid, but now I kind of like challenges.  Can I do as well those New York writers?  Can I beat the girls from down south?  NaNoWriMo is especially fun because it's injury free, cheap, creative, and never discriminates.

3. NOVEL:  I love my novel.  LOVE IT.   It's been in me for years and although it's not fully formed it has bones.  It can stand up enough to take me through this month.  When the contest is over I'll have enough meat to create a tasty story.

4. WRITING:  I chose this NaNoWriMo to test out Scrivener.  I'm not sure how it'll work for me, but they are offering a trial offer and it was ridiculously easy to download.  Here's the link:    The download button is at the bottom of the page.

5. MONTH:  A month.  Can someone who works full time write a novel in a month?  Can I reach 50,000 words in a month?  I'm going to try.  I'll obviously have to change some habits, the worst being my prewriting ritual of cleaning up and generally piddling around while I make up scenes in my head.  This has got to change.  No more leisurely laid back toe tapping while I wait for the muse to land on my shoulder.  This part of NaNo will be good for me.  I'll just sit down and start and let it rip.  I also can't ruminate over how best to say things, word choice, and punctuation.  O.M.G.  This is hard for the teacher in me.  As I told my 6th graders, who are doing the Young Writers version, this is one time when we strive for quantity over quality.  The quality will come later when we revise.  

So, who out there is joining me?  How are you doing?

Susan Colebank

Thursday-Going-on-Friday Randomness

1) I signed up for Nanowrimo. Again. What's the definition of insanity again? Oh yeah--doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. I think this is my fourth year, and I have yet to "win," i.e., get to 50,000 words in a bionic 30 days. But I'm MarniStory for anyone who has signed up, has a bit of crazy circling in that head of yours, and is thinking that this is the year to get your Jamie Summers' freak on.

2) I can't believe I waited so long to read STORY, by Robert McKee. It's about the inner workings of screenplays, but it works on so many levels with novel writing. It's thick enough to kill a passer by if you drop it off a skyscraper, but it's just too dang good to drop off a skyscraper.

3) I am challenging myself to brainstorm 200 scenes in the nine days that are left before Nanowrimo. McKee says that most good stories have around 60 scenes, and the ones with the saggy flab that hangs over the belt buckle are the ones that were the writer's first choice, not their fifth or twentieth. I'll see if McKee has something there. I'll report back, barring I drop the book on a passer by.

4) I recently read Neil Shusterman's UNWIND and I'm still thinking about it. It was one of the very rarest of rare books that had an ending I totally and wholeheartedly agreed with. Sorry, Stephenie Meyer.

5) I need a space heater. It needs to be beside me as I work at 1 a.m. every night, while the mice, husband, and child are dreaming of dancing sugarplums. The fingerless gloves just ain't cutting it anymore.

Angie Frazier

Five Friday Randoms

It's FRIDAY!!! After working relentlessly all week on revisions, freelance projects, keeping the house somewhat clean, and managing two tots, I am SO ready for the weekend.

1.) I worked on the back flap copy for Everlasting this week. This isn't the summary of the book, but a kind of "hook" on the back cover to get someone to open up and read the dust cover copy. Editor Jen sent along an idea and I tweaked it, and then went in a whole new direction. Amazingly, she loved the new direction and sent it to production. Yay!

2.) Why oh why do some people on Goodreads insist on rating books they could not have possibly read? Someone rated my book and it's impossible that they could have read it. But, there's a good side: I got my first 2-star rating and I didn't burst into tears!

3.) I'm on a book buying binge. DEVOURED, BETRAYING SEASON, HUSH, HUSH, and EYES LIKE STARS have all made their way into my library in the recent weeks. Gah! 

4.) Freelance work is the bane of my existence. I'm almost a month late with handing it in. It's haunting me, but I *need* to get this sequel handed in first... I'm lucky the place I freelance for likes me :-)

5.) Frankfurt Book Fair is happening. Everlasting is there. I'm crossing my fingers. That is all.

Hope everyone has a good weekend!
Robin Merrow MacCready


Last night I realized I was reading five books at once.  This is not unusual.  When I'm deep into writing a book, I can go for hours holed up in my writing room.  During those times I don't read much.  If and when I come out it's for air and sunshine, and maybe some people-time.  Right now I'm teaching school and I'm on an after school soccer schedule, so I find myself reading different books at different times.

1.  NEED by Carrie Jones:  Actually, I just finished this so I almost didn't count it as one of my five current books, but I wanted to include it for its spooky Halloweenie writing.  If you enjoyed Carrie's Tips on Having a Gay Ex-Boyfriend, this is as good, or better, if you like a little mystery. Werewolves, pixies, and other scary things living in my home state of Maine... right up my alley.  Of course I read this at night by book-light, with the wind howling up the river...

2.  SECRETS OF TRUTH AND BEAUTY by Megan Frazer:  I'm reading this one during school when I have my fourth graders do D.E.A.R.  For those that don't know, that's Drop Everything And Read.  I'm already into this book and sneaking pages and I'm only on page 17.  Dara, the main character, is a former pageant star who is now chubby and no longer in shows.  She's also uncovered a family secret concerning a sister she didn't know she had.  More D.E.A.R. time!

3.  LIAR by Justine Larbalestier:   This is my car book.  I downloaded it from  I've become a picky listener.  Like, Amanda, I need the right story and the right reader.  It's very personal, ya know.  LIAR is just right for me.  The story of Mica is something all teens have felt before, like they're odd, different, outcasts.  In this case, Mica really is different.  She was born with a condition that she has to keep at bay with a drug.  To ensure she doesn't lose friends because of the condition, she doesn't let herself have any.  The only one she has ever been close to was just killed.  A very engaging story. 

4.  SHANGHAI GIRLS by Lisa See:  This is my night time book now that NEED is finished.  SG was a gift from a friend that visited last summer and because it's an adult book I figured it wasn't for me.  Usually the only adult books I read are nonfiction.  I was wrong, SO wrong.  Not only is it a culture that I'm not familiar with, it's historical fiction, 1937 Shanghai and Los Angeles.  This is a powerful story of two sisters.  If you are going to read any adult fiction I recommend this.

5.  ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE by Barbara Kingsolver:  This is the book my husband and I are reading together on mornings if we get up on time, and on the weekends.  We read to each other and we read separately and talk about it.  It's the story of fiction writer Kingsolver and her family when they decide to spend the year eating locally, grow their own food, and question the routine way people make food choices.  This is after a move from dry Arizona to lush New York state.  I feel on the brink of many changes myself, so this appeals to me.  I love sharing books and talking about them makes them better--or worse!   In this case it just keeps getting better.
Susan Colebank

Just got the hardcover of CASHING IN!

It came in the mail yesterday. I've had the ARCs for a while, but there's nothing like getting the actual book to make you feel, "It's real. It's really real!"

I flipped through it and all looks good. I've made a pact with myself never, ever to read the finished product. I don't want to see all of those mistakes that I can no longer fix. I've been this was since I was a journalist, too. No reason to torture myself with the wouldacouldashoulda's.

Anyone else out there who doesn't look at the printed product? Or do I need to just slap myself silly for being such a dorkus?

Robin Merrow MacCready


 I recently spent the weekend with a not so random group of writers.  It's a yearly thing, sort of like an anniversary, and it restores me in so many ways.  I'm always so pumped by the time Sunday night rolls around that when Monday comes I get the "day after the retreat" let down--like the day after Christmas feeling... Here's why gatherings with other writers are so important to me.

1.  LANGUAGE:  Writers speak the same language.  They understand the angst over plodding plots, muddy middles, crazy character, and the love of alliteration.  This weekend was the medicine I needed.  My character found her voice;-)

2.  MUSIC:  We also enjoyed the language of song--specifically, as the Black Eyed Peas and Beyonce write it.  It's a different language, but no less important.  It got us up and moving and expressing ourselves in fantastical ways.  I was so impressed by the dance moves I saw certain writers make, that I aim to learn them for next year;-)

3.  CREATIVITY:  Anytime a crew of creative people gather in one place unplanned things happen.  Besides the usual writing, we had a scavenger hunt featuring a character from BURIED, challenges and toasts, arm wrestling, dancing, dressing up, and breaking out of our usual genres.  There was an artist writing a middle grade and middle grade novelist writing a picture book!

4.  GOOD FOOD GOOD WINE:  Everyone contributes to the food and they all seem happy to do so, bring their best pasta dishes, cheese, wines and breads.  Writer's fuel=carbs and wine/coffee (depending on whether it's night or day.)

5.  RITUAL:  I love the ritual of the annual gathering.  It marks time.  People celebrate achievements, and we celebrate them.  Last year when I was STILL writing my second unfinished book I was boosted by my friends.

If you haven't had the good fortune of going to a retreat, make one for yourself.  Call your favorite writer friends.  It's life changing!

Amanda Marrone


My editor just emailed me to say I got a "terrific" review from School Library Journal. She only sent me a snippet so I'll have to wait for her to mail me the whole review, but here's what she sent--

"The plot is fast-paced and full of suspense, gripping readers right from the start.... the book will be devoured by fans of the supernatural.”

: )
Angie Frazier

My Cheatin’ Heart

Hello. My name is Angie and I’m a cheater.

You see, every time I’m working on a story (a story I love and perhaps have even already been paid for) some new and exciting idea sneaks into my mind and does a sexy little Chippendales dance to distract me.

I don’t intend to cheat. I fully understand and respect the bonds of a publishing contract. But those new characters. That new setting. That new, fantastic plot. How can a writer resist?

Then, of course, all I can think about is this new idea. The one that’s going to be “big,” maybe even a “break out” novel. How can it not be? It’s perfect! It’s dark and romantic and the main character will be the greatest heroine of all time, and the hero will be terribly conflicted and dangerous, but equally good at heart, and not to mention smoldering.

**Um, Angie? This is reality calling. Can you please come back down to earth now?**

See what I mean?

I am in awe of writers who can focus on one book or one idea at a time. I wish I could be one of them, but I’m not. And then that leaves me feeling as if I’m not fully giving myself to the book I’m writing or revising. That if I’m not focusing completely on that, it’s not going to turn out the way I envisioned it.

This happens to me so often that I needed a way to deal with it. So this is what I’m doing now:

• I open up a new Word document and add ideas to it as they come to me. But I don’t allow myself to actually write scenes.

• I paste in web links when I feel the desire to research, but I definitely do not take the time to fully read and absorb the research (THAT would be a dangerous road!).

• During the day, I work on the current project—the one I’m supposed to be working on. Each time temptation strikes and I start to think about this new idea, I remind myself that my time to do that will be when I lay down at night to go to sleep. Thankfully, I’m one of those people who can’t just fall asleep. I lay there, mind buzzing, for at least a half-hour. That is my time to flip through the new idea without guilt.

• If I’m still excited about the idea a month or two (or three) later, when I might finally have time to get started on it, then I know it’s the right one to pursue. So I guess I could look at this process as a testing period.

So, what do you do when you have two or more ideas at once? How do you deal with dividing your attention?

Susan Colebank

Revisions, How I Loathe Thee

Does anyone else hate inputting revisions as much as I do? I don't mind reading my work and making notes--I love that part. However, inputting those revisions into Word KILLS me. The ADHD part of me (if I believed in ADHD) wants to go watch a House Hunters while reading The Writer and talking to my mom on the phone.