Elle Cosimano

Where I've Been

I’m shaking the dust off my blog and realizing it’s been a while since I’ve been here. Too long.

Truth is, I’m in the process of re-designing. My talented friend, Tessa Elwood at Pop Color Web Design (oh, did I  mention she’s also a brilliant writer and photographer?) is working up an amazing custom site and I can’t wait to unveil it. Meanwhile, I’ve been guest blogging, interviewing, and visiting some great places. In case you missed them, here’s where I’ve been and a sneak peek at some of the exciting places I’m going.

Recently, I was a guest blogger at the YA Muses where I talk about writing The End.

blogged at Ink & Angst about Artist Statements and my acceptance into the Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program. I’ll be spending three days in Lake Tahoe this May with NYT Bestselling author Ellen Hopkins, working on my WIP. It still feels strange and wonderful to say this out loud.

My book recently appeared in RT Book Reviews Book Buzz. Find it under “Young Adult” in the section called Piquing Curiosity.

Here is my Author Interview at Greenhouse Literary Agency. Yep, I’m official!

I’ve become a member of The Lucky 13s, an amazing group of children’s and YA authors debuting in 2013.

Here’s my SAT Interview at Writer, Writer Pants On Fire. LOVE the name of this blog!

I recently appearared in the Big Sur Writing Workshop Blog and the Henry Miller Memorial Library Blog.

My book recently appeared in Bookshelves of Doom: Upcoming YA Titles and Daisy Chain Book Reviews.

My book has been added at Goodreads and Library Thing.

I’ve joined the International Thriller Writers Association.

I’ve registered to attend The Writer’s Police Academy in September.

I’m donating a query critique for Crits for Water in June.

Finally, this Monday, April 9th, you’ll find me guest blogging with the fine romance authors at Chicklets In The Kitchen where I’m sharing my favorite Passover memories and a recipe for Matzo Brei.

Whew!

That’s it. Why are you still here? Go read something.

Apr

05, 2012 |

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The Big News

If you’ve ever asked me to list my favorite books, you know I am a huge fan of Kristin Cashore’s Graceling, and her prequel Fire. I recommend this series to everyone, and I am eagerly awaiting the release of her next story. These beautiful books were edited and introduced into the world by a woman named Kathy Dawson. So imagine, if you will, that breathless moment when I learned that the very same Kathy Dawson, acquiring editor at Dial/Penguin Books for Young Readers, contacted my agent and expressed an interest in purchasing my book.

I might have babbled a bit.  And then I might have cried. Wild chair dancing might have ensued.

I am the happiest writer in the world to finally be able to share this announcement from Publishers Marketplace:

Children’s: Young Adult
Elle Cosimano’s DEAD BLUE, in which a math-genius from a DC trailer park is the only student able to solve complex clues left by a serial killer targeting classmates, thus making herself the main suspect, and a sequel, in a good deal, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, to Kathy Dawson at Dial Children’s, in a good deal, for publication in Fall 2013, by Sarah Davies at the Greenhouse Literary Agency (World). Posted: January 9, 2012 at 10:11 p.m. Eastern

If you love YA, you will probably recognize a few of the hugely successful titles released by Penguin Books for Young Readers. I am astounded and honored to be in such company.

Special thanks to my amazing agent, Sarah Davies of The Greenhouse Literary Agency, who believed in Nearly’s story and challenged me to make it better. To my crit partners who read my book (multiple times in various stages) and offered guidance and support: Tamara Ireland Stone, Megan Miranda, Kelly Barwick, and Tessa Elwood. To my dear friends at “Ink & Angst” who cheered me along the way. To fellow Greenhousers who welcomed me with open arms. And most especially, my friends and family outside of my writing world who encouraged and believed, even when it seemed like such a crazy pipe dream. For those who stood by me, I am eternally grateful.

Here’s to chasing down dreams and making them real… and finding joy in the journey.

Jan

10, 2012 |

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A Matter of Perspective

I took art class in 9th grade.  I don’t remember the name of the class or even the name of the teacher.  I just remember this one project.

The medium was pencil and the assignment was to illustrate perspective using a horizon line. Those were the only guidelines I recall.  I came up with a sort of contemporary fantasy — a dolphin jumping out of an ocean composed of Tron-like lines.  There were ripples in the grid where the dolphin breached the surface and mountains in the background. (Don’t ask why my dolphin was surfing the Rockies in outer space… I don’t have an answer.)

I spent weeks on the damn thing.  I agonized over the contours of the dolphin.  Was he precise in size, shape, and shadow?  Were my lines technically accurate as far as measurement and proportion?  I kept my pencil lines to a whisper, so I could fix mistakes without anyone knowing I’d made them.  When I turned it in, I was sure it was perfect.

The teacher didn’t agree.  I got a B minus.

I was crushed. (Yeah, I was one of those kids.  Total Type A Brian Johnson “…and when you pull the trunk the light was s’posed to go on. My light didn’t go on…” kind of kid. Doesn’t ring a bell?  Google it.)

When I asked my teacher why my project wasn’t good enough for an A, he told me my drawing was too light.  That I didn’t push hard enough with my pencil, and while it was technically accurate, my picture felt flat.  He pointed to it and said, “What you’ve drawn is a dolphin jumping on paper, but your assignment was to make him leap off the page.”

I walked away from the conversation never really understanding what he meant.

Fast forward twenty-three years.  I’m revising my manuscript for DEAD BLUE for the third time when Brian’s damn elephant light comes on!  I get it now.

See, when I was drawing that dolphin scene, I kept my pencil tip dull.  At the time, I told myself it was intentional.  That my light hand gave the picture a gauzy mysterious feel.  But in hindsight — this post is about perspective after all — I wasn’t being honest with myself.

I wasn’t pushing that pencil hard enough because I was too chicken-shit to take the risk. Deep dark marks are hard to erase.  They reveal mistakes, and I didn’t trust myself enough to sharpen the damn pencil and really cut in.  No part of my picture really scratched below the surface.  It lacked depth and contrast.  My teacher was right.  It wasn’t airy and mood-driven. It was flat.

And I think that’s what’s been missing in all these words on the cutting room floor.  Trust.  And maybe a little fearlessness.

It’s round three and I’ve got my chewed up pencil.  My eraser’s worn down to the metal and I finally sharpened the tip.  No matter which way I hold it, it’ll cut deep.

So thanks, Brian and your elephant trunk light.

Writing Like Real Estate

In my previous life, I sold houses. Lots of them. I guess you could say I was pretty good at it. The more time I spend immersed in the writing world, the more parallels I find between selling a book and selling a house. It’s just a different kind of property.

Lindsey For Sale Sign

This month, I’ve worked closely with my agent to determine the new direction for my book. As we explore new tones, new themes, new characters, and new plotlines, we’ve come to the decision that the book will be… well… entirely new.

I’ve survived the emotional loss and mourning process after the burial of my first completed draft. I am starting my novel again… nearly from scratch… knowing it will be stronger, tighter, and more gripping for the changes.

As I’ve shared this news with friends and family, people have asked questions, like why didn’t you just choose an agent that likes your book the way it is? Or why not just ask your agent to submit it in “as is” condition? Maybe it will sell?

I didn’t even have to think about the answer; it came as easy as breathing. Because if I think of my book in terms of real estate — it’s my property, and it’s extremely valuable to me, so it’s a reasonable analogy — my answer is no.

Here’s why…

Let’s say you have a house, and you want to sell it. You want to list it for the best possible asking price, and you want it to show well. Not only that, but you want the listing agent to be savvy, aggressive, and honest in their counsel. You want more than just a lop-sided “for sale” sign in the yard and a half-assed ad in the Sunday paper. You want the best possible contract with the best possible terms. So you interview and hire the most professional agent to list your home.

That über-agent will walk through your home, show you the comps, present a comprehensive marketing plan, and tell you what you need to do to make your home show-ready. If they’re good at what they do, they’ll be honest with their feedback. If the house really sparkles, then it will demand a higher asking price from the market, and maybe even yield multiple offers.

In my case, my agent told me the house has incredible potential, but it needs work. We can make it better… and this will involve a few pretty significant repairs. I had a choice. I could go with an agent who might be willing to slap a for sale sign on it and throw it out into the market without much due diligence. It would be a numbers game, a gamble on the possibility of a sale. Or I could choose the savvy agent (who’s going to expect some elbow grease from me) to make sure the property sells for the best possible price.

No contest. I chose Agent #2.

So this is me… stripping ugly wallpaper and threadbare carpeting, remodeling kitchens and baths, giving my story a stronger foundation with crisp decor and a shiny coat of paint. This story is a reflection of me and my choices. So, this is me… working harder, putting my best foot forward, even if it means taking a step back. Because anything worth having is worth working for.

 

Mar

18, 2011 |

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Good Things Come…

To those of you patiently awaiting more “Welcome Back Kotter” clips, I extend my apologies. It’s been a very busy week.

I am giddy. I am exhausted. I have an agent.

Thanks to the power of The Query Letter, I am now represented by the extraordinary Sarah Davies of The Greenhouse Literary Agency, and officially promoted from struggling, starving writer to squealing, starving author.

Nearly’s finally found a home. She needs a little work (I’m not gonna lie) and I will be buried for the next several months under a mountain of revision notes. In the spirit of Daniel Day Lewis, I’ll stay alive no matter what occurs, but promise to come find me. And bring me Swedish Fish. All writer survival kits should come properly equipped.

For those following and waiting, Nearly’s book will also undergo a name change. Apropos (for those who already know her story). But fear not, no hotties will be killed in the re-making of the story.

All good things.

So thanks for being here. For helping me heft my bucket. I couldn’t have realized this dream without you.

Gena's Mexican Chicken Stew

In my favorite chapter of Dead Blue, Gena serves up a hearty, spicy stew. Her dish was inspired by my mom’s recipe, and it was actually what I had for dinner the night I wrote this part of the story. My parents live in Mexico on the Mayan Riviera, where my mom experiments regularly with local ingredients. Her natural ability in the kitchen means she rarely measures or records, and often improvises, much to my frustration. She’s a tough act to copy, but this recipe is pretty darn close to the real deal.

Gena’s Mexican Chicken Stew

2 ½ lbs skinned, boneless chicken thighs

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 large onion, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

1 red pepper, seeded and chopped

1 green pepper, seeded and chopped

3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 can diced tomatoes

2 small cans Herdez Salsa Casera

2-3 Tbs fresh chopped cilantro

1 can whole black beans, drained

1 can corn, drained

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In large skillet, brown garlic and chicken in 1-2 tbs olive oil.

Season chicken with salt and pepper while browning.

Remove chicken and set aside.

Add onions, peppers, and carrots to pan. Cook until onion is translucent.

Place chicken on top of vegetables. Pour diced tomatoes and salsa over chicken.

Add cilantro. Cover pan and cook for 15 minutes. Then add beans and corn.

Cover and continue cooking. Stir frequently.

Let chicken simmer for 1- 1 ½ hours.

If necessary add small amount of water.

Serve over rice with following toppings: chopped grated cheese, sour cream, cubed avocado and fresh cilantro.