Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Figment vs Critique Circle

So a couple of days ago, Colleen Lindsay tweeted about a relatively new site for YA and MG writing, reviews.. and the like. It's http://www.figment.com/

So I jumped on to see what the fuss was about and it's a little odd, but really if you want to do some research on how MG and YA act, talk, think, feel - that is your website. You can post your works, chapter by chapter and then you petition people to read your stuff by promising to read theirs. There isn't much 'editing' going on, but a big picture review - did they like it - did it grab them... It's more of a one-stop comment shop.

Now on the other hand, Critique Circle (CC) if absolutely fantastic for editing, rewording, plot, characterization, but the review - the how did you like my book - well, I guess it's okay for that too. But for me, writing YA and MG - I want to know how my target audience feels about my work.

So - the two of them together is a GREAT mix for me. I'm grammar craptastic, so CC picks me up there and helps me make my writing into something legible and figment is a great place to go for reviews and ideas - to hang out and pick up on the pulse of the age group.

**You'd be amazed at how talented and advanced these folks are in their late teens, early twenties. Check it out...

Monday, May 9, 2011

One at a time -

So I've had 2-3 new book idea's hit me over the last day or so and I want to dive into all of them, but I read something last night that reminded me that taking one project at a time might actually help me to come out with a better product in the end. Mind you, I have 2 books written and need to edit the heck out of them before moving on to something else, but I need a break from them - They feel like wayward children some days.

So what's your method? One at a time all the way through? Or lots of irons in the fire at one time?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Purposeful Passion

So my buddy Moody had a post yesterday (or a few days ago) on his blog asking why we write - my response is below.

I write because of the story that's screaming to get out of my head - aching to climb out of my imagination and maybe give someone else (the potential reader) the chance, if only for a moment, to do something they never dreamed possible - to live in someone else's fantastical world.

Good stories should linger on your palate and allow you to ponder the what if's long after you've finished them. I write in hopes of being that flavor - that lingering thought in someone's mind someday.

I write to live in a world where people aren't mean, where passion in your marriage never goes stale, where an ordinary girl can catch the eye of someone extraordinary, where monsters aren't inherently evil and make incredible lovers.

I write because I can. Because I love it. Because it gives me a hope that maybe tomorrow I'll wake up and have the opportunity to dream bigger and better and more - unfolding the intricacies of a world that beckons me call in sick and pulls me from sleep late at night.

I write because fiction is my lover and I have become its slave.

A little dramatic, yes, but in allowing myself a few moments to think about why I spend my time, when there is so very little of it, writing or reading, and then letting that flow onto paper - or better yet Mood's blog - I started to feel the yearning of a new story seeping through my veins and am going to start this morning writing - setting up a schedule and writing everyday. (Thanks Mood for your inspiration - love it!)

I encourage you to think about the "why" and really feel it - and maybe like me yesterday, you passion will birth another creation.

So why do you write and what are your methods of getting it done?

** I figure before too long I will look like a patchwork quilt - taking all of your thoughts and methods and creating my own out of yours - no point in recreating the wheel!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The road we travel

So tell me some of the places you find yourself haunting on the Internet - placing you are using the build up your social platform - places you are sharing your writing with other authors - where are you - what are you doing with your electronic time??

I'm on CC, a beta-reader for Book Country and just joined something called Figment. I have FB, this blog and a twitter account and I am trying to get back in the swing of things -

So school me - where are you spending your time?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Editing List

So I've seen a lot of blog posts on editing - almost like people have sync'd up on their edit timing. (Oh as a side note - did you know that today is National Star Wars Day? May the 4th be with you - sorry - had to.)

I created my own editing list a few months back and have posted it below - coming up with a list of things to look for - seek out - makes the editing process a little easier, I think. It difficult to edit your own manuscript because you are too close to the story - it's like putting a puzzle together and you can't fit the last few peices, so you get up after hours and hours of slaving over it only to have some less-than-brilliant person step up and finish it in mere seconds - its easier to put highlights on a painting than create the picture on the canvas - SO... here is my list. Hopefully it helps a little.

1. I am the contraction queen, so I did a search on the following words to see if I needed to adjust for contractions (this doesn't get 'em all, but it's a start!!)
**** have, I am, would, will, had, it is, you are

2. A lot of the comments I got reminded me to show, not tell, so I searched for the following sensory words and moved them from the telling that these words do to actual descriptions:
***** feel, felt, heard

3. I forget punctuation on my dialog A LOT, and I know we don't always use 'said' in dialog, but I did a search for the words I used most and made sure to punctuate my dialog with a comma instead of a period:
****** said, whispered, yelled

4. I tried to remove fruity words that just took up too much space... I have a few - add to my list, if you like!!
****** almost, seem, seemed, so, that
(SERIOUSLY - I am amazed at how many times I use 'that' in my chapters.. UNREAL)

5. I did a search for And and But as I've heard those are no-no's on starting sentences with. I just looked in my doc for any place that I had an And or But that was capitalized.. worked out pretty well.

6. Lastly - I scanned my chapter for large blocks of words without dialog and looked for ways to break them up, spreading the information I wanted to tell the reader through the chapter (subtle of course) or tearing them apart and moving it into a dialog between my characters.

And the list continues to expand! ;-)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Coming up for AIR!

Wow - I cannot believe the spring is already over and shortly we will be headed into Summer. I have been so busy with my family and my church, not to mention my full-time job, that I have been swimming in the shallow end of the pool - just trying to survive! I am finally through the busy time of the year at work and I am coming up for air - then - diving off the deep end!

I am jumping back into my critiquing, because I honestly LOVE to read more than anything, so this is a great way to read, help someone else and get better, myself, at honing in on one of my favorite crafts. Then - I am going to start working on a new novel and picking at the editing on one of my two completed novels.

Life is great - the world is available to anyone who's willing to take a risk and grab it - Today, that just happens to be me!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Query Process

Hey guys -

Okay so at the convention last weekend, (sorry, just coming up for air) I had lots and lots of exposure to classes and panels all talking about the query process. Here's a few things they said - just thought I'd pass them on... You probably know most of these, but obviously someone didn't!!

1. Don't sent the letter to the agent from your character. They want the letter from you, the person they might be representing.

2. Don't make it more than a few paragraphs. You have the 1st paragraph to really get their attention.

3. Write the letter as a business letter, like you are addressing your CPA or a lawyer. Nothing cute or overly artistic - just get them with the theme (hook) of the book and they'll see your ability in the pages of the manuscript.

4. Format is as follows and was repeated over and over:
You're contact info

The hook (1-3 sentences (you're elevator pitch - the reach out and grab me), then your I'm looking for representation for my 91k dystopian YA novel. (Word count is important and if you are out o the normal range for word count - they trash you. 50-75k is the sweet spot. Also - you must tell them what genre your novel fits into. If you are unsure - ask your beta readers.

A paragraph or two (if you feel the need to expand the story idea (basically protagonist, antagonist and main theme of the story - don't get into your sub plots) ** IF you can get everything across in the first paragraph - kudos for you. The shorter the better.

Any of your accomplishment or publishing history - mostly for non-fiction.

** That's it folks.. I know they turned down a lot of queries because of corney/hokey words and lines in the opening - too many issues for the MC (death, divorce and cancer) and because the story wasn't different enough.

They are looking for those zinger words - so like "Mr. Johnston was a scary old man" needs to be "Creepy, morbidly obese Mr. Johnston was a vicious old man that would eat you alive and suck on your bones afterwards." ** Get it? Adjectives on those characters - it tells them alot in 1 or 2 words..

That's all my brain and fingers can take for the moment. I'll shoot something else in here in a little while!!


** Oh - I pitched Soul Keeper and she requested several chapters, which is a good thing - we shall see.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The fantastical journey!!

So lately I've been writing and critting my BUTT off (I wish that was a formidable way to drop the lbs) - but, I finally sat down and read a few new books over the last few days. I've been waiting and waiting for Christine Feehans "Dark Prince" to pop up in a second hand book store, because God forbid they have them in the regular bookstores. I guess they've been out of print for a long time. I got lucky this last week and it was there - WOOHOOO!!!!

And to say the least, I was not disappointed. It was a fantastical read with paranormal creatures, action, good love story and mystery bleeding out of every page. Just a really, really great read.

Then my crit buddy Tiffany on Crit Circle asked me to look over her first five chapters of "Keeper." Sure why not? I'm always looking for something good to read. Okay - really - this was FAN-FREAKEN-TASTIC... I blew through thirty-five chapters (or so) in three days. My crit probably blew, (right Tiff?) but I just couldn't stop. It was just 'blow me away' incredible.

So now - what next? I cried a few ridiculous tears that the "Keeper" journey was over, but now that I've stopped acting ridiculous (not really) I'm onto the last novel in Rachel Mead's Vampire Academy - it reminds me of Tiff's novel - and honestly - I cannot wait to start reading it.

SO - what are you reading right now? What's holding your attention, causing you to lose sleep at night, making you daydream on the way to work - has you wishing you had a sugar daddy so you could just read your butt off everyday? Share with me - I want to know...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dallas Writers Convention!

So I have a few weeks before I'm taking a trip up the road to Dallas for a writers convention. I have a pitch session scheduled with an agent and am still trying to decide whether to pitch Soul Keeper or Howl at the Moon. I'm going to spend tomorrow getting Howl at the Moon in better shape - nice day of editing!

I'm stoked though. It's supposed to be a good time of classes and mingling, with a late night party and a smores/bonfire event. Should be interesting to say the least. There are quite a few classes on YA - so I am signed up and ready to go.

Now I just have to rehearse my pitch over and over - guess I need to choose the novel first, eh?

Hope everyone is staying warm and if you aren't signed up to go to a convention - consider signing up!!


Monday, January 31, 2011

Howl at the Moon


So I finally figured out a name for my new MG novel. It's a detective series (The Liarus Detective Agency Novels) based on two seventh grade boys (Ben (MC) and Jake) that are in need of a side job to raise money for a trip they want to take. Each novel will have a new assignment for them, but this first one is to find a missing heirloom that is the size of a coin, with the engraving of a full moon and a wolf head in the middle - howling at the moon.

As you might guess - the family they are working for (incognito - of course, they're only 13) are a bunch of werewolves. The youngest member of the family (a ninth grade boy) has lost or misplaced his emblem, which he needs back desperately before the full moon. It contains the power to hold him in his human form, not allowing the pull of the moon to force him to change into a man eating werewolf.

Ben and Jake are unaware of all of that juicy information though - they just think they're looking for some old lady's missing necklace (Daniel's grandmother, Old lady Smitz, has hired the boys.) Through the adventures of looking for this and discovering there are supernatural creatures in their neighborhood, the boys grow together, start liking girls and get into load of humorous trouble.

It's a blast to write. I am about 1/4 of the way through it - got through six chapters this past weekend. Anyway - just thought I would share.. What projects are you working on right now??

Talk to me!!

PS: Lairus comes from "Lairs R Us" - a joke you'll get if you read the first novel.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Squeeze me into a mold -

No - I don't wish I were bright, red jello today. (Even though my new-years resolution is to lose some of the jiggly things... TMI?) BUT - I wanted to throw something out there..

When I started writing The Soul Keeper, I wrote it for me. When I finished it, I realized that I wanted to share it. That being said - if you know from the beginning, or figure out along the way, that you want to be a published author - maybe its okay to fit into a mold - to some degree.

Meaning - I love creating new characters, throwing in my sarcasm and humor. Characters are my favorite part of writing. Am I limited by NEEDING to write just YA paranormal? Well, no - some of you might be limited to what your interest are. Me? Not so much - I will read or write just about anything..

That being said, I started researching what's hot right now - what's the public looking to consume, because I need to get my foot in the door - THAT's all... just get my foot in - and then I can work with an agent on some projects that are more in line with my interests. BUT - in creating what someone else (the public) is looking for - it is still my story... my characters... my love for life bleeding through the pages...

So what's hot, you ask? Besides me? (Seriously JK)

1. Middle Grade (especially for boys)
2. Steam punk* is crazy hot right now. (A sub-genre of science fiction, alternate history, and speculative fiction. Specifically, steam punk involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century—that incorporates prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy.)
3. Horror (Mr. King must be getting ready to lay down the pen... they're looking for the next great horror writer...)
4. Dystopia Novels * (Its Greek for bad or ill place... an often futuristic society that has degraded into a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being Utopian. Dystopian literature has underlying cautionary tones, warning society that if we continue to live how we do, this will be the consequence.

So - you want to get published? Sure its important to stay true to who you are and write what ignites a fire in your soul - but like any business - supply and demand will always dictate what sells and what doesn't. So the real question is:

"Did you write your book for you? Or for me??"

** These definitions are from Wikipedia!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I NOV my life...

No - I didn't misspell LOVE... haha -

This past fall, (November to be exact) my five year old, Clayton, came into my room and wanted to share a funny story from school. He said that his teacher kept writing the word "Nov" on the board, and wasn't that just so funny?

I explained to him that "Nov" really was a shortened version of November, the month we were in. He rolled his eyes and sighed...

Here is the rest of the conversation:

Clayton: I know that Nov means November, mom. But just say it out loud, here, repeat after me... Nooooovvvvvv.

Me: Okay, baby. Nooooooooovvvvvvvvvvvvv... (I chuckle) - that does sound kind of funny.

Clayton: Okay, so let's use it in a sentence. You first.

(I roll my eyes here.. really kid?)

Me: Okaaaaaaaaaaay... Today is the 4th of Noooovvvvvvvvember... (I smile and give him the 'see its a shortened version of the name of the month we're in.')

(Now he rolls his eyes and huffs again - obviously at my lack of creativity with this brilliant new word.)

Clayton: Okay, mom. My turn. How about... "I Nooooovvvvv You!" (He throws his hands in the air in a TADAAAAAAAAAAAAAA stance...)

And I - I laugh until my sides hurt. Not only is my son brilliant... but I sure do NOV my life!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Risky Life...

If you can dream it - you can do it.

I know, I know - that sounds way to Polly Positive, BUT it's so very true. The number one road block in your way of making a different future (or a different today) for yourself is... (drum roll please) ... YOU!!

I've always heard people say that you can do anything you dream you can - and they're right. It might take some changes to your environment, some character developing, some training and possibly LOTS of sacrificing on your part - but you can do it. In the end - to live a 'dream' would be worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears.

I mean - come on. We only live once, so why not push it to the limit? Why not go all out and do and be ALL that we can? To fall into our beds exhausted at night, because we gave all we had and pushed towards the realization of a dream?

It's risky you say... Yep, sure is - but with any great risk - if you can persevere - the rewards are great as well.

Besides - what life are you living if you refuse to jump out in faith and take a few risks?

Not the one I want to be living. Come on guys... crawl out to the edge with me, stand up, take a deep breath and let's fling ourselves into the unknown - full of confidence that we have the ability to DO anything we can dream up.

What's your dream?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Stumbling in the Dark

WOW - that's how I feel about this whole - write a book, edit the hell out of it - rewrite the book - put together a query - rewrite that 2 million times - get 1.99999999999999M rejections - and start all over again.

I might sound bitter - but truly, I'm in good spirits. I entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest last night at midnight - tells you what a dork I am for waiting up. HAHAHA!!

And - I've started a new novel. Something for the upper middle grade. Something fun and funny. Spunky you might say! On this one, I am stepping out on a ledge and trying out first person for the first time. (See, for those of you who might not know, well - I'm not a 13 year old boy, but my MC is...)

Okay - that's me stumbling in the dark tonight!! Just need to find the light switch and this will all make sense - doubtful!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

And the search is on.................

So I have officially entered into the search for a literary agent. Now, while I am quite impatient by nature, I am business savvy. Meaning, I am more interested in finding the right agent or business partner, than I am rushing into a relationship. I guess it’s a lot like looking at the possible relationship as a one-night stand vs. a long term commitment... Tacky, I know - but I digress.

So, I have a list of agents that I have sent the query out to and about 20% of them have returned with a rejection letter, but one has asked for the full manuscript. I only hope that in writing my query letter, I didn't emphasize the paranormal elements to the point of truly missing the big picture of the story - the decisions, relationships, and the love triangle of seemingly normal teenagers...

In deciding which route to take in the creation and back story of my novel, I created something with a supernatural twist, based on Greek mythology. Honestly though, I mostly focused on the strong teenage characters and their ability to build the foundation of who they will become through the choices they make. Of course that’s baked into the novel, changing the unaware reader for the better without conscious acknowledgment. A lot like carrot cake – never knew I was eating a bunch of shredded carrots because of the thick layer of cream cheese frosting.

We shall see right? Perseverance and patience - something I have learned in my short thirty-three years to never, ever pray for ------- because God will be happy to deliver a situation that will help you to learn both....over and over and over and over......

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Years!!

I'm so glad 2010 is over!! With three deaths in my family, changing jobs and my dad having a massive heart attack two weeks before Christmas, I'm STOKED to get into another year and leave this one behind.

That being said, I'm extremely excited about my goals for this coming year. I do have the usual weight and financial goals, God forbid we leave those out, right??

The goals I'm most excited about are the following:

1. Work my rear off to get Soul Keeper picked up by the right agent.
2. Write Soul Keeper II
3. Write 3 new songs for my singing trio (http://www.crimsontrio.com/)
4. Learn to play the guitar - why not, right??

Let's look at this new year as a fantastical opportunity to be better than we were, to stretch as far as we can and to make a difference.

Whew - I feel like I just gave the Miss America speech on world peace. I need a nap!

Happy, Happy New Years -