Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I want it all

This time last year I would've laughed in your face if you said I'd be attempting to find an agent to represent my novel, let alone the fact that I wrote one! So as you can see it's been less than a year since I started writing. Wow. And here I am waiting to hear back on two agents (oh yeah did I mention I sent the revised partial back to dream agent?)

In the last ten months I've had plenty of time to think about my motives, my goals and my dreams involving my writing. And you know what? I want to go big or I don't want to go at all. As silly as that sounds to some people, I have to be honest with myself (and all of you apparently!). I want to be a career writer. Ohh, feels good to just say that. If you're laughing at my extremely and somewhat delusional hopes, stop it. Shame on you. Just kidding - laugh away. I know it's a lofty goal but I happen to be one of those people that believe anything, and I mean anything, is attainable if you want it bad enough. And boy do I want this.

I figure I can't be afraid to proclaim my intentions to the world. If I can't make a silly blog post about how I want to sit and write books as my profession for the rest of my life, than I better think again. There's nothing wrong with wanting that. Sure, I greatly admire people who just want to write without caring if a single person sees it or people who just want to have their story published even if it doesn't become a top seller.

It's just not me.

I'm not wired that way in any aspect of my life. I like to take it all the way. I always strove to gain the highest positions in my jobs, for getting perfect grades in college. I can be downright stubborn when it comes to getting what I want. Which can be both a good and bad thing. But at least I've grown up enough and learned enough to follow my heart and change my goals when my life changes. I can walk away and feel satisfied now but only if I want to. That's the key. I have to want it. Right now I don't want to walk away but I also know someday I might. Nothing is certain in life and pursuing the dream of becoming a best selling author is no exception.

Some people may want to slap me for this comment, but I have to come to the realization that if I can't snag an agent that has the connections and experience to get my book in the right publishers hands, I don't want one. Seriously. It's all or nothing for me at this point. See, my life is in a very crucial point. I'm going to have to go back to a 9-5 and write whenever I have time, which will be very little, or keep living the magical blissful life I have now, where I work a few hours a week and get to spend all my extra time writing and all that good stuff. As you can see I don't want to give up the life I've come to cherish. The one where I get to call the shots, spending my days with my son (until he starts school of course) and having tons of time to pursue my dream of writing.

I'm not looking to be a millionaire (I wouldn't say no to that) or to be famous. I just want to succeed and have my story land in the hands of as many teens, and adults who appreciate YA, as I can. I believe the stories that I've read that have managed to keep me up at night and haunt me (in a good way) are a gift. Sounds sorta cheesy but I want to return that gift.

It won't be easy and it won't always be fun, but this is without a doubt what I'm meant to do. It may take months, years or decades to get there but I'll get there. Now if I can only get the rest of the world to agree. But for now I'll settle for an agent...

So what are your goals in regards to your writing success? Would you be happy with just having your book published even if it never went far?

Blog Chain: Reality or Fantasy?

The fabulous blog chain started on Girl With a Notebook yesterday with the fun question, do you prefer reality or fantasy? Why?

Now I'm going to tackle as both a reader and writer because my answer is one in the same. Fantasy. No question about it. I have reality in my life all the time so when I read or write I like to go someplace else. I like the escape, not because my life is so rough or anything, but its fun. Maybe its the dreamy artist in me but I love imaginary places and people.

On the flip side of that is the fact that I love urban fantasy because I can relate so well to it. The whole ordinary life meets exciting impossible elements hooks me every time. I like a good strong blend of reality and fantasy. I guess there's reality mixed into every story if you really think about it. The reality aspect of the characters and what they feel and experience are what tie us in to a story and make us care.

Even though I prefer to write and read fantasy I have a lot of respect for reality writers. It's not easy to create an entertaining book made up of everyday stuff. And strangely enough I have two stories waiting in the wings that don't have an ounce of fantasy in them. (Hmm, wonder if that's why I keep pushing them aside?)

Wow, that was a pretty random answer I wrote - hope it makes sense. lol

Stop by to see what the other girls prefer.
Monday - Girl With a Notebook
Tuesday - here
Wednesday - Somewhere Nowhere In My Kingdom
Thursday - From Elysium
Friday - Lin Wang - Teen Writer

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Where my MC lives (with pictures!)

I'll start by showing you my "helpers" for the day. My sister who's holding my son and her two kids. We made a fun little daytrip out of visiting a very influential real life location in my book. Oh, and sorry Jenn about your windshield!

When I went to Jim Thorpe, PA (a small town about an hour from where I live in PA) last fall I was so inspired that I made it the hometown of Abbey, my main character in Sage. I don't want to give anything away by telling you too much about where or what these places are since that would spoil some of the fun stuff that happens so if there's no label, just know it's something in Jim Thorpe that has to do with my story. If you've beta read, then you might recognize them!

Cool cemetary we found up behind downtown
(this will totally be in the sequel - look at that gate!)

Scary steps that lead down to the river

A restaurant where Abbey worked during high school
(My sister and I SO want to eat here) and the pot of basil
sitting outside even inspired a detail in the book

Abbey's Grandmother's house

A very charming looking Inn (or perhaps a B&B where someone stays in the book)

The library Abbey pretends to visit after dinner

Abbey's parents house


Finally finished The Time Traveler's Wife

Ah, finally! I have no idea what my problem was but it took me a few weeks to finish The Time Traveler's Wife just seconds ago. I'm left shaking my head with the ending and still trying to wrap my brain around the dates and how all the time traveling worked. There were parts I put the book down and just said "huh?"

It's beautifully written and a killer example of writing in present tense and I liked it a lot. Didn't love it as much as I wanted to, but sometimes it takes a few days for a story to sink in. I am in awe of the author's ability to write a story where a man time travels yet you barely notice it's there, it feels so natural and real. Amazing. Her description, dialogue and attention to detail (woo - the Henry is 17 and 37 sort of things blew me away!) She had to put SO much time and thought into each one of those little scenes. WOW.

Like The Hunger Games, most everyone seems to have read this book already but for anyone that hasn't you must. It's a powerful love story that keeps you wondering until the last page. It's one of those books as an author that makes you want to crawl in a little ball and wish you could write even half as well as she does!

Now if you'll excuse me I need to go take a deep breathe and try to relax after the tension of finishing this book - so intense...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Blog Chain: Top 5 sites/blogs for writers I visit daily

I'm starting off the blog chain this week with a pretty straight forward question but one I think will be useful and fun to see what we all have to say. Wonder if there will be any repeats?

What are your top 5 sites/blogs for writers that you visit on a regular if not daily basis?

In no particular order. (there are so many other great blogs I read but I had to pick 5 - tough choice but this is a good variety)

1. The Blood-Red Pencil
Amazing daily blog posts by real life editors on all things editing, really great tips and lessons on grammar and all that good stuff most of us struggle with. I always learn something, whether it's what NOT do or helpful tips on writing better dialogue or just good ol' refreshers on things I should have paid more attention to in English class in high school, or wait, maybe even elementary school.

2. Query Tracker Blog
Awesome contests, weekly wrap ups, interviews and in general just great posts from some very cool ladies who each have must-visit blogs themselves. Also a MUST-visit and use site for the killer query tracking portion of the site. Love it.

3. BookEnds
A truly insightful blog from the literary agency BookEnds, LLC with most posts from one of the agents Jessica Faust. I love her honesty and willingness to share what it's like on the "other side." I've learned so much about everything from queries and how agents spend their days to the horror of how some writers treat agents.

4. Lisa and Laura Write
Two fabulous sisters who have been blessed with an agent and are in the process of finding a publisher (which will no doubt happen soon!) and share all sorts of hysterical thoughts and experiences. They always make me laugh with how honest and snarky their posts are along with all the reality TV references. I'm totally praying I get to have as much fun sharing my agony of waiting on submission in the future. *sigh*

5. Becca Fitzpatrick's Blog
The author of the incredible debut YA novel HUSH HUSH due out October 2009. Though I don't know her personally she seems like one of the nicest people in the world and her writing is just incredible (squee - got to check out her first few chapters on Simon & Schuster's site! Ohh and you can also enter for an ARC of HUSH HUSH so be sure to visit that site here) She shares really cool tidbits of the journey to publication so I always look forward to what she has to share. Yes, I confess I'm totally jealous.

Stop by to see what other must-visit blogs the other girls share.

Tuesday - Lin Wang - Teen Writer
Wednesday - Girl With a Notebook
Thursday - Somewhere Nowhere in My Kingdom
Friday - From Elysium

Friday, June 19, 2009

Blog Chain: What influences your writing?

*Sorry to my fellow bloggers in the blog chain, I should have posted yesterday but things have been super crazy and I only have a few minutes to write this now while I came inside from helping at our yard sale in the pouring rain. Ick. This is a short post too. I suck today!

This great blog chain question comes from Icy Roses this week....What influences your writing?

I have quite a few ways of looking at this so I'll try to break it down in a few categories and explain that way. (some of these are repeats from what the other girls said) I also noticed that a lot of my influences seem to be inspiration and motivation too. Oh well!

1. Daydreams
This is my biggest influence by far. I think about my story and characters ALL the time. Some of my best ideas come to me while showering, driving in the car and the boring moments at work.

2. Music
Sometimes songs just inspire me out of the blue and help me develop a character or create a whole new scene. But a lot of times I listen to music that I know goes with what I'm writing so that it helps me stay in the frame of mind I need whether it be intense, sad, romantic, dark, etc.

3. Other writers
This includes blogs I read, my writing critique group, forums, books I read. It might be support to keep me motivated, feedback, advice from a blog, stories of success, amazing or not so amazing writing in a published book, comments on my blog - you name it.

4. Family
Without the support and encouragement of my family I would never have the time or motivation to have started writing in the first place or keep going like I have.

5. My experiences
I like to infuse a little of what I've lived in my writing, whether it be a place I personally lived or visited or using traits of people I know. My first novel really has a lot of this but my main character is not supposed to be me and is not like me in anyway (ok so maybe I went to art school in LA and am from PA) just to clear that up in case you were wondering.

The other girls had some great stuff to say on this topic so be sure to pay them a visit.
Monday - From Elysium
Tuesday - Girl With a Notebook
Wednesday - Somewhere Nowhere in My Kingdom
Thursday - Lin Wang - Teen Writer
Friday - here

And for next week here's the lineup. Since I slacked off this week, I'll put myself on Monday to start the chain, besides I can't remember who hasn't had a turn in awhile.
Monday - Here
Tuesday - Lin Wang - Teen Writer
Wednesday - Girl With a Notebook
Thursday - Somewhere Nowhere in My Kingdom
Friday - From Elysium
(sorry if there are any repeats!)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Unintentional funny moment with a text to speech program

Ok, so I took the advice of one of my fabulous writing buddies (thanks Jamie!) and downloaded software to read my book to me. I just can't do it myself since I make it sound the way I hear it in my head, but that's another post for another day.

Anyway, my son (who isn't even 2 yet) was very curious about the creepy robot voice pouring from my laptop today so I typed some words for him. You know, his name and bye-bye, the usual toddler stuff. He liked it so I added words from songs he really likes now that don't drive Mommy crazy, one being Mamma Mia. Random, strange pick I know. Here's what I type for the crazy computer woman to say for my child...

"Hi Nathan! Up down, up down, up down! Mamma Mia, Mamma Mia! Bye Bye Nathan!"

Here is what the voice said....

"Hi Nathan. Up down, up down, up down. Mamma missing in action. Mamma missing in action."

LMAO!! I was practically rolling on the floor when I realized what it said. That was after I shook my head in confusion of so many extra words being added the first time I played it. I of course couldn't resist playing it for my sisters and mom, who also died laughing and nearly peed their pants once they too figured out what happened.

Oh lord, it felt great to laugh that hard, especially for such an unintentional thing. I think I'll go see what else this thing can do with some of my favorite inappropriate words...

Love this blog! First five page critiques...

I'm probably slow on finding this, but just in case anyone hasn't seen this awesome site.

Click here.

I'm addicted to reading the comments from an actual editor on the beginning of books, especially since they're all MG and YA! Good stuff. Enough writing about it, I need to go read some more of these first five pages.

Monday, June 15, 2009

One month countdown to HP6!!!

My sister sent this to me in an email today reminding me it opens exactly one month from today! Woot woot! I have very high expectations since each movie seems to get better... Anyone else as excited as I am?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

New layout

I've been agonizing over a new layout that was more "me." Way easier said then done. I ended up trying this one out because it totally reminds me of a very important scene in my book. (Those of you that have read it will get it!)

It may or may not stick around...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Revising the revisions and brave teen volunteers

As I've shared a few times the past two weeks, I'm doing a major revision as suggested by an agent who read my partial. All good and fine since I really felt it would clean up the story and add some character development, you know all that good stuff. Yeah. That was until I had my super awesome beta reading big sister read it. (she really is my sister by the way)

She was into the first half with revisions but no so much the second half. See, it brought another guy too much into the mix and actually took away from MC's girl power. Not good. At first I wanted to bang my head off the wall several times, maybe even for a few hours, but that feeling quickly passed and I snapped the trusty green laptop shut and went to bed.

Welcome in the new plan. Revise the revisions. I actually like the new stuff better because Abbey is back in the spotlight and the other guy is downplayed once again, right back where he belongs! And to think he tried to work his way in there, geesh, don't these characters know anything?

I worked a couple hours on this daunting task of revisiting the very same section I'd just torn up, but had a little bit of a tough time staying focused. Luckily Nate's nap time writing fared better and I'm itching to get back to it even as I write this. So it's full speed ahead the next couple days.

I'm also super excited to have four brave teen readers ready to go! Thanks ladies!!!! I'll be in touch very soon, I plan on sending you the first half by tomorrow since my revisions lurk at the tale (get it?) end of what is back up to an 84,000 word story. I can hardly wait to see what they think of Sage since it's a YA novel. Of course I'm hoping they like it but in the event they don't, I'm way into the idea of feedback that can help me fix that.

Call me crazy, but I happen to think the opinion of 17 yr old who curls up on her bed reading is just as valuable as a 40 yr old guy sitting at a desk. (by that I mean an agent!) Of course the challenge is pleasing them both and without the assistance of the professional sitting behind the desk, I won't get my story in the hands of very many teenagers, now will I? For now I'm thrilled to share it with those that volunteered. You rock!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Blog Chain: Your favorite books

Love the question for the blog chain started this week at Somewhere Nowhere In My Kingdom
What are my favorite books? Ohhh, since I love books, I love this question!

I have A LOT of favorite books, but to make this more interesting I'll do my best not to make them all YA fantasy. I'm going to keep my reasons for loving them pretty light and vague, since this post could easily end up being a book if I don't.

Anyone that knows me well or reads this blog regularly knows what's coming so let's just get this one out of the way.
1. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
I love this book because it captivated me AND inspired me to start writing. Since this is about my favorite books I won't go into defensive mode as a writer on why I love this book, I just do. I fell in love with The Cullens and of course was swept away with the dreaminess that is Edward. I lost a week of my life to this series and somehow along the way I just knew I had to write my own stories. It was like one of those crazy light bulb moments, which was especially crazy for me considering I never once had the desire to write before that day. So please don't ever tell me any part of my book sounds like Twilight or I will be very offended. Unless of course you think it's as addicting. LOL

2. Gilgamesh by ????
Didn't see this one coming did ya? We read this in my high school Humanities class. I loved it then and I love it now. I'm pretty sure it's one of the oldest recorded stories and the thing that amazes me is how it feels as if it could have been written today. It's a beautiful tale of love, friendship and loss.

3. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
I read this right after my son was born when I spent hours either holding him as he slept or nursing on my lap. One hand held the baby, the other held the book. It was such a fun read. I envy her courage to overcome a very bad situation (though I still I wonder what kind of nasty stuff happened with that marriage!) and travel the world on her own. The food, the men, the locations, the self discovery, the food (that deserved a second mention) - I love it all! I'm not a big memoir person but this was just awesome.

4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I tried not to list all YA books but this had to be included! I don't even know where to begin with this one. SOOOOO good. The writing, the plot, the moral, the characters, they're all so incredible. I was sucked in right away and never lost interest.

5. Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George
I found this book in a strange way. When I moved out to LA I was without my car for 2 weeks (it was being shipped), didn't know anyone and wasn't starting school for a week (no dorms so I was all alone!) I went to buy a book and looked for the biggest book I could find that actually looked interesting. This was it! It's massive, staggering at almost 1,000 pages! I laughed, I cried, I yelled at it. It's fascinating knowing she worked from actual facts about Cleopatra's life. And now that I'm a writer, I'm blown away with her word count and bravery to create such a story.

6. Harry Potter and the "fill in the blank" (series)
Harry will forever have a special place in my heart. The first book renewed my love of fantasy as an adult which of course opened up a whole new world of amazing books, including this series. I stayed up all night reading the first one and sobbed like a baby when I finished the sixth. (I'm just now starting the seventh because I promised my niece I'd wait for her to catch up, not to mention the fact that I have been dreading it all coming to an end) I want to go to Hogwarts, I want to be friends with Hermoine, I want to drink butterbeer and play Quidditch!

Go check out what the other girls say, you might just find some great summer reading suggestions!

Monday - Somewhere Nowhere In My Kingdom
Tuesday - Here
Wednesday - Girl With a Notebook
Thursday - From Elysium
Friday - Lin Wang - Teen Writer

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I heart The Hunger Games.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you who said I had to read The Hunger Games! And to think I've had it sitting in my books-to-read pile for months. Shame on me.

I finished it just now while my son is napping and oh, am I sad it's over. A M A Z I N G. Since it seems the whole world has already read this book I had to just say how much I too love it and highly suggest it. No. Demand, that you read it.

I'm still riding high on just finishing and of course my burning, red, tired eyes have suffered enough from reading that I need to get away from the computer screen, but I will of course be posting more on this book. Characters I truly care about, so much action and anticipation I can hardly wait to turn the page, detail and writing so vivid I feel like I'm the one in that horrid arena, all wrapped up in a message of what life in the future holds if we don't get our shit together...YES! Finally, another book I'm totally and utterly in love with. I may be a book snob these days but oh how I heart you Hunger Games.

Suzanne Collins, you've made me into a quivering pile of fan girl pudding with this story. I'm in awe of your imagination and talent. Now, if I can even achieve half of this in my writing, I'll be set.

September 1st - please, please, please come soon!

*Now that I've ranted enough I have to get ready to see the Dinosaur show at the arena today. I'm taking more poor child, who's not even 2 yrs old yet to see it, and who might very well cry, all because Mommy loves dinos. Seriously, is this boy not lucky to have a Mom that's not only one of the biggest Harry Potter fans in the world, but who also go crazy for dinosaurs? I'm sure he'll love it to!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Risk taking, third reads and Katniss

Let's start with the risk taking...
I won't go into detail on what exactly I did since I wouldn't advise others to do it- it's not exactly following the rules of the publishing world. Hmm, don't get too curious, it's not THAT exciting. The point is, I took a risk and it paid off. Nothing life changing but I still managed to get a third read of my partial out of it.

Third reads...
As I just explained I took a risk and got the chance for a third read of my partial. Wait for it. By the same agent. (a really respected awesome agent I might add) All three times. How nuts is that? And how much do I love her for giving me a third chance to see if this new set of revisions work for her? Her first read of the partial, she said she didn't connect with one aspect of the story. I revised. She said it was MUCH (she too used caps) better but still didn't like that one aspect of the MC because she didn't see how it went with the rest of the story. When the agent she suggested I contact rejected my partial I really started thinking and decided taking this one element from my MC really did make sense and could work. So right now I'm working on this major revision, knowing I can submit it for the third time in a month or two. I know my chances aren't so hot considering all this but a chance is a chance in my book. I've got nothing to lose at this point!

Yes, I FINALLY started The Hunger Games last night! I am overjoyed with the fact that I had to force myself to put it away and go to bed! I've just started and already I can see the hype is true. Yay, a new book that makes me lose sleep, and keeps me in my pajamas all day because I'd rather read then shower.

*One extra note
I've decided to finally give this new character, who's been harassing me daily, a chance. I started working on my next book using a seventeen-year-old boy as my MC, who also happens to want to tell his story. Yeah, so I am taking on the task of writing as a teenage male. And just to prove I'm serious about it, I posted on a forum seeking a male critique partner/beta reader so I can ensure my voice sounds like a 17 yr old guy. This is going to be a lot of fun! Update: I already had someone contact me on working together, wanting me to be a female perspective for his book in return! I'll post soon with the summary of this book, good stuff.

And to to think I was considering taking some time off...that will just have to wait!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I'm one reader (and writer) that dosen't want to see things change

I've seen the following sale on a few blogs the past couple days.

Sarah Prineas's THE CROW KING'S DAUGHTER, featuring faerie lore without the urban setting and without drugs, sex, and angst, to Toni Markiet at Harper Children's, in a good deal, in a three-book deal, by Caitlin Blasdell at Liza Dawson Associates (NA).

No big deal, I mean it's just another kids book right? Yes. The part that seems to have caught attention is for what it isn't. Sounds confusing at first. What I mean is that the posts I've seen on this are people saying they like what this series IS NOT, basically that it's not anything like books like Twilight. Note the part of the book description that says "without urban setting and without drugs, sex and angst."

All I can tell from the brief description is that the book is about faeries. I know more about what it isn't then what it is. While I enjoy traditional fantasy from time to time, my personal taste is in urban fantasy. I like books like Twilight and I don't see that changing any time soon. I know for a fact I'm not alone here. So I don't really agree with the whole hope that there's a shift coming in what's selling these days. I like that there are a lot of options but I of course want to hear that what I like most and happen to write myself, is still what's selling.

I like to see some angst and sex in an urban setting, but I could do without the drugs. Sexual desire and angst are a part of growing up, they are natural feelings and urges that every single teen will experience at some point. And the fact that those feelings can be wrapped up in a story that's in a setting we can all relate to with elements of fantasy that provide an exciting escape, well that is one of the reasons I love this genre. Again, I realize this is just my opinion.

The tide will turn as always so that certain themes are what's selling the most but with the Twilight movies just getting started I doubt books like it will die out anytime soon. As a fan I've witnessed first hand how obsessed people are and one of the topics floating around is what series we can fall in love with next. That's the beauty of stories that get the world talking, it opens the door for more stories to be shared. People want books that are similar to the ones they love. Why do you think Barnes and Noble has a big ol' table packed full of books with a sign that reads something like this "If you like Twilight, you'll love..."

I agree that vampires need a rest but I'm all about any book that can suck me in the way Twilight did. If it's a high fantasy about faeries, great, if it's a rock star who's really an alien, bring that on too (yeah I'm partial to that one since it's mine). All that I really care about is reading a story that captivates me and makes me stay up all night just to see what happens.

*Disclaimer - I wouldn't have used the Twilight reference AGAIN if it hadn't been for a direct comparision on the blog where I first saw this.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Blog Chain: Books on Writing

Lin at Lin Wang - Teen Writer started the blog chain off with this question this week: What are the best books you've read about writing?

*Hangs head in shame* Uh, yeah, I haven't read a single book on writing. Seriously.
Which of course means I have not one thing to add in response to the question. I guess this means I really need to get crackin' on reading some how to write books. Does it count that I almost bought a few books last month? Guess it will have to do...

They are from this list I found on the Editor Unleased Blog from a post by Alegra Clarke awhile back.

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go
by Les Edgerton
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by By Anne Lamott

And yes, now that I've aired my dirty laundry and told all my writing friends that I haven't read any books on writing, I think I'll go get one this weekend!

You can check out what the other girls had to say about the books they find helpful.
Monday: Lin Wang - Teen Writer
Tuesday: Somewhere Nowhere In My Kingdom
Wednesday: me
Thursday: From Elysium
Friday: Girl With a Notebook