Interview with Anna Staniszewski

Today on the Cabinet we are lucky to have Anna Staniszewski, author of MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE and its sequel MY EPIC FAIRY TALE FAIL, which is coming out March 1st. But that’s just the beginning. She also has . . . Well, how about if I let Anna tell you about her upcoming books.

Thank you so much for having me! Well, 2013 is going to be a busy year. The second and third books in the UnFairy Tale series will be coming out—one in March and one in November. Then I have two books in a new series, The Dirt Diary, coming from my publisher in 2014, and a picture book scheduled for that same year. Oh right…and at some point I’ll have to find time to sleep


 Before I open this up to questions from the other Cabinet members, I have one thing I’d love to hear more about. I noticed on your website that you have a downloadable teachers' guide.  Did you know that you were going to provide this wonderful resource before you started MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE? If not, at what point did you decide to create it?

The teachers' guide came about after the book had been acquired by Sourcebooks. One of my agency-mates, Natalie Lorenzi, does fabulous teachers' guides, and I knew she’d do a great job with it. I wanted a resource that would help highlight the fairy tale and other influences in the book.

To read the rest of this interview check out my sister blog:

Writing: A Playlist of Aromas

After listening to the amazing playlist Jaye Robin Brown created for her upcoming debut Sing to the Wind, I was inspired to start working on one.

I’ve been playing on Groveshark and making some headway. My problem is--I use music to brainstorm, but write in silence.

However, I do stimulate a different sense when I write. Smell.

Yeah, I know loads of people don’t like scented candles and other products. For me, they not only get me in the mood for writing a specific scene, but also reusing a smell can take me back to the same mood when I revise the same scene. 

I’m not going to pretend to be an aromatherapy practitioner. I chose scents purely by how they effect me and what memories they bring to my mind.  I also use live plants like hyacinths and garden flowers like lily of the valley when they are in season.

At any rate, here’s my playlist of aromas.  You’ll notice there are some repeats—that’s because they are tried and true, at least for me.


Moonhill (YA gothic fantasy which is with my agent right now)

Sandlewood oil in burner (mysterious/fantastic scenes)

Ripe Raspberry candle (sentimental scenes)

Rose/Jasmine oil in burner (dreamy/romantic/mysterious)

Orange clove candle or oil (mysterious and high energy scenes)

Peppermint oil—(hot writing, action or emotional scenes)

Red Bandana (YA cotemporary suspense and my current WIP)

Cinnamon candle (neighborhood scenes)

Lilac candle or oil (memory/desire scenes)

Strawberry kiwi candle (action and romance)

Peppermint oil (hot writing, action or emotional scenes)

Orange clove candle or oil (mysterious and high energy scenes)

Vanilla candle (comfort scenes/homey/emotional)

So what do you guys use to stimulate your senses when you write? Music, aromas or something else?

Too Much Spam for My Taste buds

So, guys, I've called Livejournal my blogging home for quite a few years now. I've even stayed after many bloggers fled. But the spam in the comments has finally driven me to start using Blogger.  I tried restricting my comments to only LJ users. That stopped the spam, but it also kept a lot of my friends from commenting.

If you frequent Blogger, I'd love to have you as a follower. I'll follow you back, if I'm not already.

Who knows, some day I may come back to posting here--this is where the magic began. 


Interview with Kat Ellis: Aliens, Wales, Short stories and Writing Contests

Kat Ellis writes YA sci fi and fantasy and is represented by Molly Ker Hawn of The Bent Agency. I got to know Kat when she hosted the Hook, Line and Sinker agent contest and was thrilled when she agreed to answer a few questions. She’s one of the most energetic and imaginative writers I know. Be sure to check out her blog But enough from me--let’s get to the questions.

1. Can you tell a little about yourself? I’m especially curious to know if the rumor involving your parents, your birth and aliens is true. If it is, then has it influenced your writing at all?

Haha! The story about my parents spotting a UFO ( is absolutely true, although I have no idea when it actually happened. Probably best left a mystery, unless I suddenly sprout tentacles!  . . . 


My Annual Holiday Party: You're Invited


If you happen to be in northern Vermont this weekend stop by and visit 9-5 Saturday  at the 1830's brick store in Fairfield Center (route 36). There will be hot cider simmering on the woodstove, homemade donuts, venison chilli, and other goodies .

This is a tradition we've had at our shop for a long time--all are welcome, old friends and new, customers, writing friends and family. There are three craft fairs in town that day and Christmas tree farms nearby. We sell creatively decorated wreaths, gifts and antiques. But don't feel like you have to spend cash. This is the weekend we set aside to visit with friends.  We'll be around all day to chat.

I've Been Tagged for the Sunshine Award

 sunshine award

I was tagged by Rhiann Wynn-Nolet for the Sunshine Award.

In return I’m going to tag anyone who wants to play. Just answer the questions on your blog and let me know when your comments are up, and I’ll check out your post. Or feel free to pick a question and answer it here.  


  1. What is your Favorite Christmas/Festive movie?

The old version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Personally, I think the Jim Carrey version is pretty much criminal.

2. What is your Favorite Flower?
 Depends on the time of year. But since this is the Sunshine Award my favorite sunny-bright flower is the calendula—and it gets bonus points for being beautiful, fragrant and eatable.

3. What is your Favorite Non-Alcoholic Beverage?
  This is another tough one. I actually don’t drink alcoholic beverages, so I have a lot of non-boozy favorites. On a hot summer day, I really like kicking back with an iced caramel latte.

4. What is your Passion?
  Learning new things: researching almost anything.

5. What is your Favorite Time of Year?
 Spring. I love watching the leaves return and hearing the spring birdsong.

6. What is your Favorite Time of Day?
Early evening. Sunset signals it’s my time to do what I want. Then again, I love watching moonrise.

7. What is your Favorite Physical Activity?

Does snuggling count?

8. What is your Favorite Vacation Spot?
 I love the seacoast of
Maine. Hmmm . . . Maybe my favorite physical activity could be beachcombing. It’s all about discovery and change.


I also love Maine’s Great North Woods—and  the forest in MassachusettsBerkshire Mountains. Vermont’s Green Mountains would work as well. And I’m dying to go to Vermillion Bay in Ontario, Canada. Okay, let’s just say someplace quiet with animals, birds and good museums within driving distance.


Thanks Rhiann!

My Agent News: I've signed with . . .

 In April of 2007, I wrote my first query letter and entered an online contest. I ended up with a full request from a popular agent. That request turned into an R&R, then the agent’s clients started leaving her and the agent fell off the radar.  After that I wrote five more YA manuscripts which netted me tons of requests and rejections, offers to look at future manuscripts and even phone calls. I took classes. I went to conferences, did critiques and pitch sessions. Last year, I waited between 8 and 9 months to hear back from three separate agents.

About two months ago, I started to query my latest manuscript--a YA gothic. Even though I had a great request rate, I didn’t have faith I’d connect with an agent. Why should this time be any different? The market’s tough. Agents’ slush piles are massive. For the first time my confidence nose-dived at a live pitch. I had to force myself to send out even a few more queries. When I didn’t make it into the final round of the GUTGAA agent contest, I almost gave up. But I entered the Hook, Line and Sinker contest anyway. And I made it into the final round.

No sooner did the final round go live than I got a request for the first 50 pages and a synopsis from a new agent. I sent them out. A few hours later, the agent requested a full. About 24 hours later, I received an email with an offer of representation and an invitation to chat on the phone.

I’d heard stories about agents staying up all night to read a manuscript and falling in love. But I never dreamed it would happen to me.  Best of all, when I spoke to the agent on the phone, I quickly realized the connection wasn’t one-sided. She was everything I’d wanted in an agent and was backed by a fantastic agency.  I’m so glad I kept pushing my writing to the next level—and never gave up the search.

I am thrilled to announce that I have signed with the amazing Pooja Menon of Kimberly Cameron & Associates.

(This is a photo take from the shop's front stoop the other day. A double rainbow. Could it get any better?)

Vintage Brooch Bride’s Bouquet, Agents, Editors and Redneck Antique Dealers


I’ve been working on creating a bride’s bouquet out of vintage brooches and it struck me how similar it is to starting a new writing project—which I happen to be struggling with.


I’ve got an over all picture of where the story’s going and tons of glittery tidbits to create it from, but I’m afraid of starting in full force, afraid of shattering the dream or altering it. But, like making the bouquet, I know eventually I’ll have to risk ruining something or having the shape come out lopsided—or I’ll never get to the final product.  Sigh.


Speaking of starting, I’ve had a lot of new beginnings lately, which is one reason my blog has suffered. My husband has dealt antiques all his life, even as a kid. Finally, he decided to start selling on Ebay. It’s been a fantastic kick in the butt for our income. However, my wheeling and dealing husband had never used a computer, so I’ve been teaching him—which as been interesting.


Also I started querying MH to agents—need I say more?


On top of that I discovered one of my manuscripts (which I gotten great feedback on but lost faith in) fit what a couple of respected editors were looking for, and the editors were open to unagented subs.  I’m a bit uncomfortable about it, but for the first time I’m now playing both sides of the agent-editor fence with two different manuscripts.


Wish me luck—on all fronts. And sorry I've been absent from lj. I should be around more now that that my new beginnings are turning into middles--oh, that's muddled middles, isn't it?


Welcome fellow GUTGAA-ians.

Since we all have tons of blogs to visit, I’ll get straight to my official bio.

I’d love to say I spent my childhood in intellectual pursuits. The truth is I was fonder of exploring abandoned houses and old cemeteries—or of slogging around in swamps, calling birds and studying wild plants. When stuck indoors, I was likely to be found brewing up a concoction from plants I’d harvested in the woods or huddled over a paperback gothic novel that I’d smuggled into the house. Over the years, I slowly migrated from the Berkshires in Massachusetts to Northern Vermont. I can now be found in my 1830’s country store, arranging flowers and selling funky collectables and antiques (and writing).

I write YA, both contemporary and historical—with a touch of romance and most often a large dash of fantasy. My short stories have appeared in a number of venues, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show and Wildside Press’ Cat Tales. I also write quarterly articles for Vermont Bride Magazine.

Where do you write? My main writing space is a corner in my bedroom.

This would be to my left. Crap, I probably should have made my bed.

To my right are notes, some crystals and stones, a little dragon a CP gave me. Oh, yeah--and the bee coin and a terracotta oil lamp my sister got for me in Greece. She claims they came out of a cursed excavation site. The face on the oil lamp is supposedly a likeness of Medusa. Both the lamp and coin appear in my YA gothic, MOONHILL.

Favorite time to write? My favorite time would be Sunday morning. But a majority of my BIC time is weekday evenings.

Drink of choice while writing? Tea or coffee—hot or iced.

When writing, do you listen to music or do you need complete silence? Silence. Once in awhile I’ll listen to something funky, but I find lyrics distracting. I do like to have the windows open, so I can hear the river behind my house and the birds singing.

What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?
Jonny Depp. Seriously. I was trying to decide what to write next, when I read that Jonny Depp was working on a remake of the old Dark Shadows TV show. I love gothic novels and I thought the genre would play to my writing strengths, so I decided to follow Jonny’s lead—though my story isn’t campy like the remake and doesn’t involve vampires.

Soon after that, the main character, a scene and this sentence came to me: I bowed my head and watched the outgoing tide swallow my mother, bits of gray washing over a starfish, over stones and shells, waves urging her into the arms of seaweed.

What's your most valuable writing tip? Hmmmm. I don’t think there’s a single most valuable. Oh, maybe there is DON’T LISTEN TO THE HEAD MONKEYS. Seriously, I’ve probably given and taken this advice more than anything else.

Thanks for stopping by. Follow my blog or Twitter @PatEsden and I will follow back.

This is a blog hop. Unfortunately, the linky isn't working for me. But here's a link back to Deana Barnhart’s blog.

Looking for an agent? Be sure not to miss GUTGAA


GUTGAA stands for Gearing Up to Get an Agent Blogfest/Pitch hosted by Deana Barnhart.  There’s still time to join the fun, meet fellow writers and perhaps catch the eye of that agent you’ve been searching for.

I joined not only because I've started querying a new manuscript, but also to get out of my writing cave and my own head for a while.

Check it out :

Deana Barnhart