Thursday, January 27, 2011

Writing YA for Dummies free edit give away!

Young Adult Fiction for Dummies to my editor and I’m celebrating with everyone by giving away a free Substantive Edit* of one Young Adult or Middle Grade fiction manuscript. Here are the rules:
1. Your manuscript must be YOUNG ADULT OR MIDDLE GRADE FICTION.
2. Your manuscript must be COMPLETE.
3. Your manuscript SHALL NOT EXCEED 80,000 WORDS.
4. Manuscripts that do not meet these requirements will be disqualified.
5. Deadline: MIDNIGHT, JANUARY 31, 2011, PST.
6. Winner will be randomly selected and announced on February 1, 2011.

99 blog fest

Reminder: 99th Page Blogfest Happening TOMORROW

Sorry for the horrible graphic. Please send a better one.
That's right, tomorrow a blogfest with Erinn, Holly, Pam, and Quita. You can read the initial post here. If you didn't bother to click, the gist is to post page 99 of one of your writing projects and then visit everyone else who signed up. (As of 8.30 AM Thursday, we have 19 people*.)

Several people have asked what the rules are for tomorrow's blogfest. When visiting everyone else's page, you should focus and answer the following three questions:

1. Would you turn to page 100?
2. Why or why not?
3. Based on what you read, how likely would you buy the book?

So simple. So fun.

Please remember, when critting to be polite. Don't write anything you wouldn't say to the person's face. You know us writer types are a sensitive bunch.

If You want to enter go here    

This is mine, Natalie has just been kissed by Seth for the first time...these two do not communicate well!  I posted 99 fudging the beginning or end of the scene. 


other object that existed in your world at that moment.  You know for a fact that it would be easier to die than see them dead.  The word love creeps into your mind and you have read the descriptions and never understood the intensity until it happens to you.

Time melds with the rain smearing all things around me. No detail is clear except the way his lips feel so hot and sizzling upon my own.  The thumping of my heart is so loud, it is surely going to make my ears bleed.  Can he hear it?

He drew away and my soul screams at the thought of parting from this pure joy.  I let my breath out and lean toward him.  His lips brush mine again, but he swiftly and firmly pulls my head to his hot chest and he kindly kisses the top of my forehead.

“I’m sorry Natalie. I should never have…”

“Seth….i ….i don’t know….Seth….” I pull myself upright and look in his eyes.  I see regret and it hurts me.  Fears mixed with self-doubt to instantly become anger.  How could he have given me something so perfect and steal it so fast.  I am embarrassed because evidently I had not done something right and he hadn’t liked it.  I am too mortified to speak. I can’t stand the look of sadness in his eyes and I tearfully break eye contact.

“Natalie…..I….I didn’t mean to do that….It was…”he breaks off and I fill in the blanks for him. 

“Don’t worry about it… was nothing.” I lean against the door staring out the window.

“I didn’t mean to offend you.  I didn’t…..think…it just…..”He stammers.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

If you could live in any world...Ya Highway

The Roadtrip Wednesday question is if you could live in any world, what would it be. 

For me I would join Anne Rices Talamasca, smoke pipes with hobbits, Spend a winter in Colorado at a haunted hotel, or I might .......

"A man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed him"  Roland, the last gunslinger, is followed by a woman with a heavy pack.  Her piercing green eyes squint against the glare as she follows with the stealth and determination known only to fellow slingers. He does not know she exists, but from the distance she watches him rest. Knowing his destination, she is content with her secrets. They both move on, trailing the man in black.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

All about writing...

what I wrote
If I try to explain life to friends they don't really get any of it.  If you are a writer, this will make you like turtles, or explain life better than words.  This is my version of a writer's life....I will leave the turtle metaphor to you...
what I fear my book looks like when i compare to others
I love my story, but it's hard not to think," everyone thinks they have done great....especially the crazy people."   crazy people never know they are crazy....but
what the slush pile looks like
 everyone else is very aware!
Hello...pick me!  It would be a very hard job in my view. 
what agents and editors want
Classic writing, great story, inspiration, ...... 
why my query is rejected

My view of my main characters

writers conference

my first pitch session

what my mother tells her friends i am writing

story that people keep asking me if i wrote

The hot story everyone says they are seeking!
I have never gone outside of my loves -- history, paranormal, love (not exactly romance), myth -- but every time i poke my head up it has been redefined.

What my short query says.

what my query NEEDS to say
Lol, Help before the seagulls eat me!

How to be a mean God!

In the life of our characters we play God.  We love our little darlings and like kids, we want to make them all better.  It is easy to want them to have a nice day.  The trouble with a nice day is, it's not very exciting to the people who are reading about it.  The observers out there are having a nice day....reading.  They want to be thankful that this is not happening to them.  They don't want to feel like the life they are leading sucks in comparison to suzie Q sunrise in her perfect dream life.  If she has a better car, better house and better boyfriend than me and gets to just wander around enjoying it all finding success in every lucky little moment and never loosing her car keys, virginity or her trust fund....I now hate her.  If something eats her or the bad man gets her....good!

You can't be a nice God if you want your story to be.....welllllll  a story?  If you want SuzieQ to be a perfect version of you....uhem that's called visualisation therapy and is really only fun for isn't a bad thing to write.........but don't expect anyone to want to read it.

Examples ---  On Supernatural - Sam and Dean would be dorky jerks in normalville.  What makes us adore them is they must always be in danger.  They die more than any characters ever known to TV, yet we know even death has no hope for them.  They are tortured into our hearts. 

In Lord of the Rings, hobbits would be the most annoying awful little beings ever, if they were not subjected to despair, hardship and the rules of a world so much bigger than they knew.  Samwise and Frodo are tortured into our hearts.

Precious --  She is sullen. from the ghetto and not very likable.  It is hard to care about someone who seems to hate everyone, until you see her life.  Until you see the horror the human Monsters have tortured her with and you see how the odds are so great that it will never be a happy day, you don't love her.  Once you know her torture, it's hard not to love her.

Carrie -- This girl was every kid you hated in high school.  She seemed so stupid and so pathetic that you instantly don't care about her.  Yet seeing what she lives, makes you wish you could go back and be nice to her, help her along a little.   When she gets this crazy power, you are thrilled for her. The nice boy is kind to her and wow you just want her to be a little happy.....that would have been a good story.  But, what makes it that God (Mr. King) was not done torturing her.  The mean girls go too far and even the teacher betrays poor Carrie with laughter.  Did you really care that she torched the school?  Or were you just sad that she didn't survive?  You had grown to like the monster.

If we want others to love our characters, there must be torture.  That does not mean just physical...Pain is pain, but inside torture is a vast carnival of rides as well.  Loss, grief, unfair world, shame, blame and step right up folks our own terrible decisions may lead us to torture! 

If you want to play God....I mean write, you must be a mean God.  You can give them a happy ending if you want but always be aware, it's a happy ending.  Happy is where you stop.  Happy is not the story.

Now, get out your whips and chains, open your torture express lane and go write some awesome evil upon your dazzling eyed darlings.  Turn dreams into nightmares and hope into mind breaking loss until you make them question breathing. 

I have a special song I sing for my characters before I make them hate me.  There is a song about Saint Dominique.  It is a happy little ditty that goes something like...

Dom In Ique aaa Ique aaa ique...I will follow infinium.  It was a hit back in the sixties and a pretty little Nun sang it playing her guitar.  It is one of those songs that get stuck in your head until you could scream. 
Speaking of screams,

Dominic De Guzman once wrote:   "To read, joy; to think, delight; to write, torture."

He was the founder of the Dominican order. 
He was also the Father of a little historical event called the Inquisition.  Saint Dominque -- father of torture, burner of books and heretics.....ok everybody sing!
read more about him here.....

You are welcome to borrow my little song of inspiration for your own writing.   here is the link to the Debbie R. version.  I will post the video to the blog too.

And here is an Arc giveaway  from YA Highway....a blog of awesome in case you didn't know!  Go here..

and another yo should check out

Dominique - Singing Nun

Saturday, January 22, 2011



This is too funny! Had to share!

Pennies in the coke Machine and new WIP

I am in a strange place about Ignite.  It has two major issues that will not allow it to jump into the arms of it's beloved future agent right now.

I have used multi-familiar cliche to put the reader into a safe nice recognizable place only using subtle hints that it is more than girl meets boy of her dreams and gets popular.  But, in the first few pages, her only problem seems to be that she is an outie wanna-be Innie.  So the first impression is that it's been done before a quezillion times, which equals a pass.  Add a prologue which views her from her first life threatening danger, unknown to her....except he's a vampire.

Every agent has a vamp story on the list now.....they are puking glitter and Mardi Gras beads and this one of eventual four main characters is an eye rolling pass no matter what else happens.  Blood is too much a part of the central danger to intro it without the vampy connection. So my main story has shot itself in the foot for sale by the very fact that the surprises are......well....surprises.  I get that It has to be different and needs to shine, but I don't know how to convey that to someone who is promised "different" with every other query only to find out on page two hundred that it is a copy of all the other "different".
 I don't blame them in any way. It is my job to get them to think it's special.  I have to find some way to convey special and twisty in 300 words without sounding like an ego-maniacal stalker freak or someone who doesn't know any better than to plunk every cliche known to man in the first few pages and go nowhere with them. 
In other words, my frame seems boring and familiar to suck you in, not because it just sucks.  The trouble is trust.  We trust our proven favorite authors and will give them any amount of space to freak us out, knowing they have a good chance of being successful.  We assume the new guys can't work the coke machine and don't have time for them until they prove they can keep from unplugging the whole thing or putting pennies in the quarter slot.  Five pages and a query sound much like "May I have pennies for your coke machine?"  Maybe I am planning to use the pennies to fix the machine's missing leg or penny lock the boss in his office and let some monsters out, but I don't have the solid history to be trusted with a roll of pennies right now.  I am not whining, just facing that there are obstacles blocking me I have imposed upon myself.

So what should I do? 
Change really good and mess it up? Or, say next myself and let the new people, open the door for the others .  I have never been able to write on more than one at a time, yet I am doing that now. These are my three current WIP's

Unholy Spirit - Emma lives in a house with no rats and no roaches. It is better than the car or the shelter, but it's still infested.  Sometimes meeting a prince is no fairytale.  Sure, he can give her a new life and save her sister, but it comes at a terrible price.  How bad will things have to get before she says yes?  Ariton is asking for her body, that's what that sort of prince does. He isn't seeking romance or even a hook-up.  Emma has met a prince of hell.  (stand alone YA, Paranormal)

Ozark Howler - There is something in the woods at Grandpa's house.  The old timers speak of legend and ridicule any government people thinking they can catch the monster.  They laugh at all the Internet yuppies who want to traipse around the woods with the silly GPS and fancy cameras. Twelve year old, David thinks they are all a bunch of kooks.  He's seen the spook light, but there's no such thing as a long haired panther with horns.  These hillbillies will fall for anything.  A summer with Grandpa will change David's mind about a lot of things. (MG Paranormal)

Book Four - Black Fire (continuing Ignite, Inferno and Incinerate series)  (YA Paranormal with romantic, historical and fantasy elements)  This is the hardest book to write so far.  Natalie is older and has gone from observer to warrior.  Will she get hurt playing football or will she finally become the thing she fears more than death.  Are her friends her friends or have they lied about why they love her.  Even her brother might betray her if he knew.  The Mermaids are finally introduced and that world is really hard to keep in perspective.  It is hard to keep it from turning into a fish tale, because the hidden world wrapped in those myths is so seductively fun to dwell on.

So I am querying Ignite right now, without any hope it will fly, but i am racing to finish something....that will make them see that they can trust me to not muck up the coke machine.  That does not mean they should really trust me with the pennies.

Friday, January 21, 2011

What I write.

I have to call most of what I write paranormal.  There are historical elements, romance is there but rarely heading where the typical happy ending is supposed to go, and I love to shake up tired old basics by exploring the mundane as viewed from a Mothman perspective.  (It is said that mothmen can predict disaster because they are standing on a higher level of perception)  Legends can be woven together in fact until the borders are open for a new tale.  That is what I write. 

Characters in my view should be complete people.  That sounds like common advice, but it isn't commonly followed.  When you see the beings you bring to life, the color of hair, eyes and sex are not characters.  Each character should have an FBI file.  Frame, Breath and Id.

Frame: as you see your new friend for the first time, what do you notice.  Hair, eyes, fingernails, scent, dialects or speech idioms, clothing choice, what are they eating, what would they watch on TV or read, list two flaws - such as crooked teeth, a narrow chin or stooped shoulders.  The frame is just the basics of the characters description.  This is where many characters sort of end and even if you never use all your knowledge, you should have at least 50 frames for any character that does more than walk in.

Breath :  This is where you actually begin to build.  What is the worst thing they ever did to someone?  What is the worst thing that ever happened to them? If they picked up a hitch-hiker why would they do it? biggest fear, greatest loss, what sort of event would break the mind of your character?  Who do they hate?  What did they look like when they were 5, 8, 12, now?  Which of the seven deadly sins do they own?  If they were killed this moment what would they expect to see on the other side? Where do they scratch when nobody is looking?  Did they wash their hands after?  Who do they want to meet?  Who gave them a first kiss, first black eye, first betrayal?  If they could spend one hour with a lost loved one, what would they say and who would it be?  How will they die?  If they could execute one person in the world with no consequences, who would they pick ? Name mom and dad, an uncle or some relative?  Most embarrassing moment ever?  Who would they take camping and leave in the woods?      
    You should know the answers about every main character and 100 other tidbits.
 Do not list them in the first chapter, but know them.  Some will weave in, most will simply be things that allow you to see them react clearly, never spelled out, but somehow there.  Many will never see a word of type, but they are there in real people.  People are not born 27 year old perfect or 15 year old sarcastic....every human is a sum of all belief and experience they have attained at the moment the story begins.  If you don't know where they are, your characters will go no place and cookie cutter into flat little peanut butter with "how are you today" dialogue.

Id :  Now your in their head.  List favorite everything from food to music to childhood toy.   Motivators such as hope, lust, revenge, power, peace, love and disgust.  About 20 motivators and 2-5 major Motivators should give you a basic understanding of who your writing about. 

After you know them, then yo can begin messing with them and challenging them...You are now God or something darker.....only now is it time to begin actually writing,

Having a nice day is not the beginning.  I am born, has been done.  Don't dream, wake, brush your teeth or look in mirrors unless you are about to discover a flesh eating virus ate your face off in the night.

I write stuff about people I can see clearly.  That is why I don't need to plot.  Life is not plotted. There are a million reasons to plot and yes I often have a very good idea where we are headed....I know the big bang at the end and can see the hopeful feel good.  I avert dead middles by having a big bang there too...or in the case of Ignite, several that don't wrap up completely until the end.  And hide a big bang for Two in what seems all happy in book one.  That is what makes a whole crapstorm of work worth doing. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Don't count the Blisters!

Many blogs I haunt, stalk and lurk about on mention rejection.  Writers are usually dealing with a ton of rejection.  It is not unique to writers but I think sometimes they tend to take it harder.  Many refer to the books they craft as their "babies" and they do mean it.  There is something personal about sending things that have occurred only in your mind out into the world for the world to examine.  It's also hard to decide that your not insane until someone says they like it.

 I was just on a random blog in which a lovely lady had posted her entire 800+ page novel that the world didn't understand.  She had spent the last 14 years trying everything to get it published.  She was so disheartened that nobody would take a chance on her.  She has a master's in creative writing and the story was all about her childhood.  She had found an agent once but dropped them when they told her she would have to edit the book.  No, every word was sacred to her.

I looked at the book, thinking it would be fun to read.  I expected it to be good, just too long.  I read three paragraphs.  I read them again.  What?  This woman has spent 14 years on this one book and having had college English begins the book when she is two years old?  She jumps from baby talk to an adult voice in the middle of one paragraph, back to child voice repeating what she's already said, then complains about someone.  I have to say I was confused.  That was the hook? It would get better; it had to! I read a few excerpts from the middle.  The subject had not moved at all. 

She is so certain that every word she has tapped out is for the ages that she has now rejected the world.  Why so much effort on one book?  Why not put it away and try again?   I can't believe that an otherwise very intelligent writerly person could not see that she has made herself a failure.  She actually can't write for bupkiss, because she stopped improving.  She got a degree, wrote a babbling self justification of her tragic lonely childhood and now has no more.  It makes me respect the poor agents out there who see this sort of crazy all day every day, even more.  They have to deal with these people.  Can you imagine the query?  My two million word literary self romance is set in no particular time and uses my very own innovation of voice jumping and telling telling telling and telling. 

They also have to reject a bunch of us who are pretty good.  Lots of writer blogs complain about rejections and how devastating they can be.  If you think that the first Baby you tap out is the very best you will ever do, you have not written long enough.  Every person has heard the glory of the writer who wrote one book, got an agent on the third try and made a bazillion dollars.  Uhem, that isn't how it works the other 99.99999999% of the time.  Even for the luckiest lucky connected writer, the real story is that they worked for a long time before becoming an overnight success.

So, how do you deal with rejection?  When do you give up?  When do you realize that You have no talent and are never going to be Lucky MacWriterly, famous author?  The Moment you can't improve your work or hear criticism, your writing days are over.  Stop now.

I used to play a lot of golf.  I was pretty good and I enjoyed playing on my high school team.  I would practice the same stroke for hours.  I would practice so long that I would get blisters on my hands.  I would walk so many holes, I got blisters on my feet.  I never played well in competition, and soon realised I would never play on the Ladies Pro Golf tour.  It was not golf's fault I was a choker.  I never counted the blisters.  I had no magic number that said when I reach 644 blisters, I am never going to play golf again.

I see writers post their rejection numbers on blogs, signatures and other peoples comments.  If it is just to prove you paid your dues or inspire others to not give up, then it's fun information to share.  If it is to prove to yourself you are failing, then don't bother.  You are failing.  You are, one day, going to hit that magic number that let's you give up.  You will never write again to punish the mean old world.

If you are writing and getting rejected, you deal with it by improving and continuing.  So long as you can look back and see that what you wrote six years or six months ago isn't as good as what you wrote today, you have not failed.  Some of us write and some of us dream of writing.  Some people tap out a best seller and never get it published, rejecting being rejected.  Some people spend an entire life nursing one or two blisters.  The blisters don't count, so don't count them.  A blister can be useful.  It may tell you to buy some new shoes,  not to put a death grip on the club, or to buy a book on manuscript format.  It is never there to give you permission to give up on something you actually love doing. 

I see people who are in love with the idea of being an author but really don't like to write.  I see people who really like to write, but don't intend to ever get published.  I am in the middle.  I will write no matter what.  Maybe I will write until I am good enough to get some big old blisters from actual critics!  If I can't take a little "no thanks" blister, a really ugly criticism would devastate me.

Think of rejection as your practice for when you do get published.  I know my little series is going to have a few people screaming, if it ever gets published.  But, controversy doesn't mean you get to be in a bubble of blister free bliss, just because you have an agent.  Poor Mark Twain is still in trouble.  George Carlin was the acknowledged master of bad words and Mr. Conductor on Thomas the Tank?  They dealt with rejection.  Feel the privilege of following in the footsteps of greatness.   Think of this, agents get rejected too.  You may not even realise how often agents deal with rejection.  I never see Them count the number of writers they wanted but lost to another agent, or how many times they schlepped your book around before getting a single bite.  They also have to be the one to break up with the poor klutzy, puppy eyed writer 300 times a day.   Imagine the fun it must be to turn down 300 hopeful prom dates every day.  Blech, I would rather not wear those shoes for long.  Talk about Blisters!

Some golfers are Tigers, but lots of old duffers play anyway.  I still play golf.  I still get blisters. I write because I love it.  I will keep writing without ever knowing exactly how many times I have been rejected.  I do dream of that hole-in-one, but I don't count the blisters.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Holly Days are Over....

The Helly....wait typo  Holly Days are done.  Hooorah!

This year was fun, because we are poor, we had to figure out something different.   We are fans of the show Supernatural, and we actually Live in Carthage, Missouri... (it has been mentioned that a certain writer may have met me, therefore settling where the devil actually resides) so we decided to have a Christmas exactly like it.  We assigned each family member a specific place to shop for EVERYone.  Ash shopped at the Parts Store.  My Mom got a casino.  Verna got the gas station.  Grey got the dollar store.  Thumper got the pharmacy.  I was blessed with the grocery store.  Every gift had to be purchased from that location....I got Grey his own CAN of chocolate syrup.  Strangely enough, we all liked some of our presents better than the expensive stuff we are used to.  I spent more time playing dominoes then i did shopping for useless meaningless junk.  Ok I know, I don't shop well and have mentioned that if you want it, it better be near the door to the store, but this was better.  I was at the grocery store for cookie makins...soooo hey not a special trip.  Sam and Dean Rock.

<-----This is Krampus, bad Santa, or my next hellyday card....depends on how the year goes!

The tree.  wanting to do the whole Supernatural thing...Thumps jumped on down to wallyMartSSSS as they say here in Missouri.  He needed to purchase the most important decoration for the tree....Christmas-tree-shaped air fresheners-----he though colorful was the way to go.  I was on farmville when the youngins started bawlin anda whinein.  I took a deep breath ta holler at em to hush up and quit makin my computer blip critters afeared with such ruckus.............when a new taste assaulted me.  The pine tree air fresheners of various scent were a new dimension of stink (sorry that is a vulgar word...stench..reek...Blecch...nope your stuck with the first choice) were we.   Our christmess tree made the entire house smell like truck stop.....LOL....yes once the taste faded a little, we did like it.   But ya know, it was funny, and everyone will remember this year, while the perfect tree and the perfect gifts fade into each other, this year is unforgettable.  Not a bad outcome beings we all spent about 20 buck each for a whole family...and 16$ to make the 5$ tree stinky.  I made an angel out of tin foil and we wadded up xmas balls out of it too, they reflected the lights reall Purddy Like Too!   Our tree had ginger bread, curly ribbon, a skoal can, toy cars,  and unmatching blue lights.  It was adorable.