Agented!

Oh! So that's what a contract from a literary agent looks like. Though it looks a lot less blurred in person.

Some big things happened last week, and I've basically been exploding to tell the Internet all about it. I've signed a contract with Red Sofa Literary and will be working with literary agent Dawn Frederick. You can learn more about (the wonderful) Dawn on the agency's website and via Publisher's Marketplace. You should also follow her on Twitter.

Dawn is going to be pitching out the YA fantasy novel I've been toiling away with since the Fall of last year (I spent my vacation in Puerto Rico and Montreal working on it), and really, I'm just so excited. She's got amazing ideas, and I'm already starting work on book #2 (what!) in the series. (more…)

Five Years in Philadelphia, Five People That Helped Me Make It

So five years ago this month, I packed up a handful of things and moved to Philadelphia.

I found a horrible, filthy apartment on Craigslist in West Philadelphia. I only had one day to visit Philly before moving here and as crazy as this sounds, the apartment that had crack needles littering the stoop and a third roommate sleeping on a bare mattress in the living room was the best choice. It was a toss up between that one and living in a house in South Philly that regularly got raided by the FBI, as a past inhabitant was on some sort of wanted list. The tenants once had a raid happen in the middle of a party. They thought this was hilarious. I did not.

I didn't have much. My entire life fit quite comfortably into the backseat of a 2006 Ford Focus. I had to sell two guitars, my entire DVD collection, all my video games, my soprano sax, and my beloved vintage tenor saxophone to afford to move here and have some funds to live off of until I found a job. I bought a futon on Craigslist the day I showed up, and thought I was going to get stabbed in a Chinese restaurant when a man demanded I give him a hug. One of my best friends, who had driven me to Philly in my parents' car, was hesitant to leave me here.

I told him I'd be alright.

And five years later, I'm doing just fine.

However, these past five years wouldn't have been nearly as successful and fulfilling without certain people. Whether they were pushing me forward career wise, encouraging me to be a better writer, or educating me culturally, these are the folks that, without them, I probably wouldn't have gotten this far.

Five awesome people. Five awesome years.

Tim Quirino: I was trying to limit this list to solely people I'd met in Philly, but creating this sort of VIP list is impossible without mentioning Tim.

I've known Tim for nearly a decade, but we only became close friends these past five years. He did design work for bands, I took their pictures, and we ended up working together on some stuff. Fast forward to me moving to Philly, and he was living in a house in University City while wrapping up his undergrad at Drexel. I was attending grad school and knew no one in the city.

Let's forget for a moment he's one of my dearest friends and that he moved me from apartment to apartment over the course of several poor living choices. We launched Geekadelphia together, a site that, much to our surprise, changed our lives quite a bit. A majority of the people I spend my time with, I met directly and indirectly through the website. They came to our events, were friends of friends, local writers, etc.

Tim and I inadvertently helped build our own social circle together. Quite sure that my social life is the direct result of our friendship and the project we built.

He designed the cover of my book, built almost every iteration of this personal blog, and also, he pressured me to get the Master Chief suit built. And we all saw what happened as a result of that.

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Brennen Lucas: When I moved to Philly, I had zero job prospects. I dished out my resume to dozens of retail shops, publications, etc. I was turned away constantly. On a whim, I applied for a blogging job on Craigslist. Despite the fact that I'd only been in Philadelphia for two months, Brennen gave me a chance, hiring me at my first "real" job at a non-profit called GPTMC. Philly folks know them better as the Visit Philly people.

I was working in Philly tourism, and at that point, I'd yet to go the Liberty Bell. (more…)

The Philadelphia Geek Awards Are Tonight: What They Are, Why They Exist, & What I Learned Making Them Happen

So the awards. They're tonight.

If we're friends and you live in Philadelphia, you've heard me prattling on about this ceremony for the past three months. I remember when I first announced the thing back in June. I made the mistake of hosting it here (poor Tim hosts a billion things on his server, including Geekadelphia), and the website crashed (Outstanding Achievement in Crashiest Local Website) after pulling in thousands of hits within a few hours.

The awards have since received press from Philadelphia Magazine, Fox News, the Philadelphia Metro, Citypaper, CBS3, the Daily News, The Mercury, The Philadelphia Inquirer, WHYY, Philebrity (they were nice!), Keypulp, Tek Lado, Destination Guide Philadelphia, Patch, and I've made appearances on KYW, WHYY, and WCHE. The Daily News, Fox, and a number of other outlets are coming to cover the ceremony.

Though I should note that my good friends / arch nemesis Technically Philly broke the story about the awards before anyone else... two months ago. Blogs and independent journalism, FTW!

It's been a serious labor of love. Geekadelphia isn't making a dime off it. The easiest part was teaming up with the Academy of Natural Sciences (thank you Jill, Carolyn!). I had to bust my ass finding sponsors to help pay for the actual awards (we got plaques thanks to AppRenaissance), food (thank you National Mechanics), and drinks (thank you DrinkPhilly & Victory). I lost sleep, broke out in stress pimples, dealt with people who had the nerve to be angry at me (Wahhh! Why wasn't this or that nominated?!) and drove Tim and Mikey insane with frequent panicked gchats and late night brainstorming meetings at Mikey's apartment. Allie, thank you for cooking.

The question all my friends eventually ask... is why? (more…)

Top Five Things I've Learned About Working with Book Bloggers

So I've been at Quirk Books for a little over a year now. When I began, I had a ton of experience working in social media, communicating with bloggers, and working AS a blogger, but had little working knowledge of pitching blogs, PR, marketing, etc. As for my experience in publishing... well, it was limited to a magazine that doesn't exist anymore.

Needless to say, it has been quite the learning process, and I've been fortunate enough to have a team that believed in me, helped me grow, and was patient in teaching me the ways of book-life. And luckily, the book blogging community is an incredibly welcoming (and understanding) one.

So, here are the top five things I've learned working with book bloggers. Maybe it'll help you, dear reader, when you're pitching books online. Hope it does!

1. WRITING A PITCH? BE CREATIVE: Let's be real. Fact of the matter is, book bloggers get pitches every day. Some of them get dozens of pitches a day. Big publishers, small presses, self published authors... whatever, we're all haggling the hell out of them to cover our books. Nothing is more boring than a bland press release attached to an email, or a pitch that just states the facts.

Make your pitch letters as interesting as the books you are promoting.

Get creative. Be funny and friendly. Make some jokes. Poke fun at yourself.  And most importantly, take the time to send a personal email now and again, not just a mass BCC'd email blast (though those are necessary now and again, I know). You'll get a response, and bloggers will look forward to your future emails later down the line. Trust me. (more…)

If You Could See Into My Soul: That Time I Was In A Silverstein Music Video

Whoa... it's kinda like I'm famous.

So there it is, the Silverstein video for If You Could See Into My Soul. You can see me in it, looking silly, getting thrown to the ground by the band, and then getting told off by the getaway girl.

The video has popped up on MTV2, MTVU, FUSE, and the Much Music network. It'll also be playing in all Target stores nationwide.

I wonder how much web traffic my site is going to get because of this. Tim Shiftcore posted a blog about this over at MonsterPlastic before I could. I love that guy. Go hire him for something.

I also just realized that I never posted any of the video stills from the shoot, which I really like. My buddy Jostin Harrington, an insanely talented photographer from Pittsburgh, took these. When my mom saw them, she told me how handsome I looked, and informed me I should dress up in white shirts more often.

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Thanks mom.