Thursday, March 29, 2012

I won! I really won! (Emphasis added for effect)

Now that I tricked you to get you here, it all came about out of sheer boredom.  I was cruising the internet one night, unable to write because I was simply too tired, and came across this contest. It sounded easy. They wanted a description of a building, any building, in less than 300 words. It was a test of skill to “instantly conjure a detailed and vivid image into the mind’s eye”. How hard could it be? I took a description from my finished fantasy novel, Kindar’s Cure, and slapped it into a standalone piece. Wham, bam, it’s submitted.
I didn’t win first prize. My name was listed third. No glamorous prizes. No cash. Just a free entry into another contest and another excuse for a sad desperate writer to brag.
Anyway here it is, in its entirety or see it here at Webook:

The castle at Bellmore stood alone in an open meadow. Kindar fidgeted with her reins as she studied the approach. Built at the edge of a reed-edged, natural lake, flat waters surrounded Bellmore on three sides. The fourth side contained the only entrance beyond the postern gate at the back that had to be reached by rowboat or barge. A grand courtyard bailey surrounded by heavily weathered gray stone walls and portcullis barred the approach to the keep itself which consisted of a single whitewashed tower. The first two stories of the tower offered only arrow slots, the true windows reserved for the last floor. Stone and more stone gave cold welcome, even the tile shingles were designed to prevent an assailant from using fire as a weapon.

The road to the castle was empty of soldiers or anyone else. Her horse shook his head as a butterfly fluttered around his ears, and she patted him absently. In this open area, watchers had spotted her immediately. As she rode into the arch before the portcullis, Kindar glanced up. Murder holes in the stone arch revealed soldiers, dressed in scarlet and gold, inspecting her every move. Drawn bows leveled arrows at her chest. Her hand drifted to her sword and tightened on the grip.

Chains rattled as the portcullis shuddered, then rose. She crossed into the green of the grassy bailey, waiting as soldiers spilled from outbuildings built in the walls and the keep itself. Her chin rose, but gray roof and cloudy sky blended above her, equally out of reach. Her sister could be confined anywhere.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Getting The Call: Guest Blogger Angie Sandro

I asked my talented friend and fellow writer, Angie Sandro, to give us a taste of her success.  She graciously wrote a post describing what it was like for her getting the call to be represented by an agent. Angie writes YA paranormal and her manuscript, Juju's Child, is currently on submission to publishers. Please check out Angie's blog for more.

Thank you for inviting me, Michelle. I am honored to be able to share how I found my amazing agent, Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

I happened to be on Joyce Alton’s YESTERNIGHT’S VOYAGE blog in which she listed a new agent who represented young adult. I clicked the link and presto, I was at LOVE YA blog reading Monica’s interview with Kathleen.

Kathleen said,” Topics of particular interest to me include reincarnation, the occult, the supernatural (not in a zombie or vampire context, more psychic, or witchy, or fey), ghosts (a scary ghost story? yes, please), and psychology.” She also disclosed that her guilty pleasures are Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl.

Hot diggidy dog! Her interests covered the various plots of all five of my manuscripts.

I was so excited. I immediately queried her and received a full request for the manuscript half an hour later. That night we emailed back and forth, and learned we had common interests in books and movies. It felt surreal. I didn’t want to get my hopes up because I’d faced rejection in past. But I liked Kathleen so much (insert whine to the heavens).

I thought, “This is a person I would like to work with forever.” And isn’t that what we all want in an agent? A partner. A friend.

By the next morning, I was losing my ever-lovin’ mind. To distract myself from refreshing my inbox every two minutes, I went on a ten mile mountain bike ride. THE CALL came while I was in the middle of the woods. I almost crashed my bike into a tree trying to dig my phone out of my tight bike shorts.

All poor Kathleen heard was screams, and finally, when I actually heard her say how much she loved Juju’s Child, and her offer of representation, she had to listen to more screams. Although, when I think back to that moment, I like to pretend I was dignified. In actuality, my brain totally shut down.

The list I had made of “things to ask if an agent offers representation” was at home while I still huddled in blissful euphoria beneath the tree that had almost decapitated me.

When I returned home, I gave Kathleen a call. We had a lengthy discussion about revisions and our ideas for improving upon the existing story after I returned home. Her revision suggestions and mine meshed. I notified the other agents who were considering the manuscript and those that I had queried, and informed them I would be making my decision in a week.

It was kind of predestined thing. Kathleen was meant to be my agent. The reason it took so long for me to find her was she wasn’t representing YA when I first started my agent search. Thank goodness, I found her because I can’t imagine being with any other agent. Not that there aren’t a whole lot of awesome agents out there, but because I feel like I’m going through this process with a friend.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

More Treasure Hunt Fun

Check out J.W. Troemner's answers to the Treasure Hunt questions  here.  She has an excellent blog with all kinds of useful writing tips.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Blog Treasure Hunt

Wanna play?
Clippership or Joy Alton’s one year of blogging celebration is tomorrow, Saturday, March 24. She will be starting her treasure hunt in the morning which will travel through a variety of other blogs, including this one. The fun will continue in the evening to the big finish with a grand prize of a writing critique by Joy.
Her critiques are simply amazing.  I’m not talking just a work over of your word choice or grammar, but a full-blown plot scrutiny and evaluation of the logic of your chapters.
Check her out here at Yesternight’s Voyage.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hunger Games

We got our tickets for the Hunger Games. My daughter reported that their high school cancelled a dance Friday because of the movie. Teenagers giving up a dance! Panic. Tickets could be sold out. We might have to wait another week after waiting months. My husband had the week off, and I nagged him relentlessly until he secured a set for us. Now we wait with pent up excitement for Saturday afternoon. Snacks are already packed in the giant movie purse. (I’m not paying $5 for milk duds.)  
My son introduced me to the books last summer. Anything that got my son to read had to be good. I read them in a matter of weeks. Personally, I prefer the first book though all were enjoyable. Now I’m eager to see whether the movie trumps the book or vice versa. Usually books are way better than their visual rival. No question of it. Except for Lord of the Rings, I can’t think of any case where a movie has been better.  I guess I will find out Saturday. Tune back in next week to hear my verdict.
As a writer, I noted several points of this book with interest. Places where the author broke the rules so to speak. (Though yes, you can afford to break the rules if you’ve been published before.)
Suzanne Collins didn’t dive into the whole dramatic incident until the end of the first chapter. She used small tweaks, starting in the first paragraph, to imply what was coming but held off.  That gave readers time to absorb the main character and her world, digesting and becoming invested. Many writers’ guides press that you lead off with the incident that propels your characters into chaos, which, of course, gives readers no time to care about the characters. Not the case with Hunger Games, and it is wildly successful.
Another interesting point is the lack of an antagonist you can point a finger at. There is no typical bad guy in the first book of the series, no one until the next book where President Snow takes that role. I’ve been on writing sites where they want you to detail a section about your antagonist, and if you cannot list one, your book must lack conflict. Hunger Games clearly doesn’t lack for conflict. It comes from the plot and the games themselves and not any one individual.
Just something to think about when you’re worrying about breaking rules.    

Monday, March 19, 2012

Guest Blogging

Check it out. I’m a traveling poster.  I’ve got a spot up on Angie Sandro’s blog, Oh, The Things I’ve Learned.  She asked me to wax poetic about how culture or environment can shape a writer.  Angie is a very talented writer of YA urban fantasy, who will be published soon. And big news— editors read her fantastic blog! 

Doesn't traveling poster sound more exciting than guest blogger?  At school, we call substitutes, guest teachers now. Yuck. So politically correct. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Treasure Hunt

So Moonshade, fellow fantasy writer, has tagged me to take part in the celebration of Joy Alton’s full year of blogging at Yesternight’s Voyage. Joy is a real treasure, and the best moderator for writers around. I’ll do my best.

The rules are as follows:
1) Answer the questions on your own blog.
2) Tag three other speculative fiction blog writers to participate.
3) Each participant needs to link their blogpost with their answers back to
Yesternight's Voyage.
4) Leave a comment in
the original post (on Yesternight's Voyage) as to why you love, write, or read speculative fiction and a link to your blog.
5) Stay tuned to
Yesternight's Voyage this month for a mad treasure hunt (later on) that will connect all the participating blogs.
6) Make sure you post these rules on your blog when participating.
7) Please note that the blogging part of the treasure hunt will only run between March 6th - 19th. So have your answers posted by then. If you are posting your answers on the 18th or 19th, don't worry about tagging anyone new.

1) Who are your favorite speculative fiction writers?

My favorite writers would have to be Brandon Sanderson, Kristen Britain, and Robert Jordan.

2) Write a two or three sentence writing prompt to inspire your readers today. (Encourage them to post their responses in your comments section.)

Writing prompt, hmmm? Imagine you were dumped in a world occupied by only five year olds with you the lone adult. What would a day be like and what would you have for lunch?

3) List three favorite industry blogs/websites that you've found helpful.

Pub Rants- lots of useful stuff

AQC- lots of fun people

Bookends- a great place to ask questions of an agent and get quick answers

4) Give us the low-down on your main character (or one of your main characters) in the story you're working on right now, regardless if it's finished or not. Describe his/her personality, situation, and what his/her biggest problem/obstacle is.

Little Bit is a shy, humble sort of girl. She’s in love without knowing it. Adventure is not really something she wants, but she gets it anyway. She is trying to find out the truth about herself and discovers her very life is a lie. The supernova of a nearby star wiped Earth’s ozone from the atmosphere. Now the sun’s radiation hits the planet unfiltered, bringing death to those who survived. Little Bit must venture out into this nightmare to get her answers.

5) What are your favorite speculative fiction movies from the last five years?

It’s so hard to think of favorite movies. I’m looking forward to seeing the Hunger Games soon. Tangled is a favorite I can watch again and again. All the Lord of the Rings from ages ago. The last Harry Potter, I think that was less than a year ago.

6) If you were suddenly thrown into another world where magic existed, what is something from the real world you'd want to take with you? (Limitations apply on energy sources and such.)

A hairbrush and contact lenses! Is that odd?

7) List the first type of these things you think of:
a) color: blue
b) number: 9
c) made-up name: Becky
d) an adjective: pussy-pants

That wasn’t too hard. Now to tag three people. Everyone is already tagged, plus no one reads my blog. Let’s see. Carla R. in hopes she will start a blog. Angie S. in hopes she hasn’t been tagged already. Brandon Sanderson in hopes he will ask to read my work. HeHe!

I look forward to the treasure hunt.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Notes on a Day

You know you’ve been accepted into their world when a group of five year old girls marches you arm-in-arm around the playground chanting “Angry Birds!” at the top of their lungs. Shrug, don’t know what it meant, but I wish I had a picture.

If I had a nickel for every shoe I tied this year or every coat I zipped. I may not be a millionaire, but it’s nice to be needed.