Monthly Archives: March 2013

Wicked Cool

I’m not a native New Englander, but I’ve lived in the Boston suburbs for nearly a decade.* Up here, we say “wicked cool” when something’s, like, totally awesome. And what’s awesome right now?

Well, the weather’s looking better. I might be able to skip wearing my parka sometime later this week.

I registered my youngest for Kindergarten.

April Fool’s Day, a.k.a. Easter Candy Goes on Sale Day, is coming up.

Oh, yeah–and I won a partial request from agent Eddie Schneider on WriteOnCon’s PitchFest! It was a cutthroat competition** and writers and agents were incredibly mean and nasty as they read each others’ pitches and talked about them on Twitter***. Somehow, battered and bruised, I made it out the other side, clutching a bloodied copy of my manuscript and query letter****.

No, I haven’t heard back from Mr. Schneider yet, and I don’t know if anything will ultimately come from this win. But I do know this–it feels awesome just to have made it to this point, knowing how much talent is out there. It tells me that no matter what, I should keep doing what feels good: writing my heart out.

*Almost a quarter of my life, I just realized.

**There were a lot of writers who entered fantastic pitches. So many should have won!

***Everyone was so supportive and helpful. The writing community makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

****No blood was involved, although I did get a papercut recently.

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Sometimes I Get That Not-So-Fresh Feeling

I was talking about my plot–what were you thinking?

So, if you’ve been keeping up with my amAzing blog, you’ll know that last week I was wondering whether or not to keep writing JUDGMENTAL or listen to that nagging voice telling me about THE EVERGREEN.

An interesting thing happened.

I had already decided to go about things a little differently this time around. I was at a point in JUDGMENTAL where I thought I needed to put more of my plot ideas down on paper before pantsing away, so I thought I should start developing a outline.

I bought ROCK YOUR PLOT by Cathy Yardley, which is a good, straightforward, quick read and workbook to help writers develop plots in a practical way. It’s not full of theory and background (which I’m sure would be interesting, another day), but has good examples and a quick method for putting together a solid plot. I recommend it.

Anyway, in the book, Cathy asks, “Is there something noticeably different than what’s usually in the genre?” and I stopped and thought. Wellll . . . I wasn’t sure if there was. I got to the part where she asks about the character’s internal and external motivation. Annnnd . . . I struggled again.

This went on for the first few chapters of the workbook, until I thought I’d try an experiment. I started over with plotting for THE EVERGREEN. It flowed like melted butter. It felt fresh, different, and fun to write.

So now I’m 2.5k words into THE EVERGREEN! I’ll never give up on JUDGMENTAL–I still think it has great possibilities–but I have to make sure that when I go back to it, it’s with some fresh ideas. It’s amazing what a little plotting can do.

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Waiting is Fun!!!!

I keep trying to convince myself of the above. But this old dog can’t change her spots that fast (how’s that for a mixed metaphor?).

My parents are right: I am an impatient person. With everything in life. And currently, waiting to hear back on a bunch of queries and several full manuscripts, I am just wearing. out. the. refresh. button.

I know this is supposed to take a long time. I know that I should could be distracting myself with the new WIP.

And yet.

Sigh.

Fuggedaboudit. I think I need a glass of whine.

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I Need Advice

So I have this work-in-progress (see the Next Big Thing Blog Hop) and I’m so excited about it. It’s going smoothly so far, though I am taking a step back to do some proper plotting before I keep pantsing ahead.*

In the meantime, there’s this story. And it just won’t leave me alone. It’s very different from what I’ve written before. It’s MG and the MC is a 12-year-old boy. I wrote a quick blurb about it, and even gave it a title: THE EVERGREEN. 

But I’m not one of these people who can work on different projects simultaneously. Nor am I sure I want to. I also want to see the first project, JUDGMENTAL, to the end, before starting on the next.

Yet THE EVERGREEN keeps cropping up in my thoughts. Do I let myself get carried away with that, and temporarily abandon the first project (which is actually the third book I’ve worked on)? Or should I use my head, and concentrate on what’s already in progress.

I wonder if THE EVERGREEN would just be a distraction. Maybe I should back-burner it, and stay focused.

Has anyone else ever had this come up? What did you do? I welcome your comments.

*Pantsing=writing by the seat of your pants

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Twitter Friend In Real Life

I had a surreal experience today.

I have been following the fantastic trajectory of another writer, who finished her first novel during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November 2012. She had an agent two months and one day after she put the final period on her manuscript.

How did she do it? I’m sure it’s talent–though I haven’t yet gotten to read her work–but it’s also a great premise–I have seen her pitch and query letter, and they’re both awesome–plus incredible good fortune.  (BTW, I don’t think I’m saying anything she wouldn’t say herself.)

She got four requests from a pitch on Brenda Lee Drake’s January Twitter Pitch Madness (#PitMad–the next one’s at the end of March!) and one of the requests was from her dream agent. One thing led to another, and it was a match made in book heaven. She has some edits to make, and then her agent is going to begin submitting her manuscript to editors.

I started following her on Twitter back in January out of utter jealousy and amazement. Hey, if she can do it, I can too! I thought. Then I followed her blog. Then we started tweeting back and forth.

Then we started emailing, and she gave me some great tips for my own query and pitch. She told me I just had to enter a pitch contest, which I ended up winning! My full manuscript is with the agent right now.

I bragged to all of my friends and family about my cool Twitter friend. She lives in Florida, and I’m in Massachusetts, so I figured we’d never actually meet.

Then today, I wanted her advice on a partial manuscript request I got today . . . and she gave me her phone number. What? My Twitter friend really truly exists In Real Life (IRL)? And she has a cell phone, and isn’t afraid of me stalking her?*

Oddly enough, talking on the phone and hearing her voice for the first time was just as I would have imagined. She’s as awesome and friendly there as she is on social media.  She even told me to text her if I had any more burning questions.

Now, maybe our paths will cross at a writer’s conference somewhere in the middle. In the meantime, I’ll keep enjoying my friend both virtually–and IRL.

*I would never do that.

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Sad stories . . . and they’re not fiction

Please check out this blog post about two YA writers who need us:

Spreading the word….

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The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

“Next Big Thing”?  Hey–is this because I’m almost 6 feet tall?

Oh . . . I do crack myself up.  

So, my Twitter/writer friend, the incredibly talented E.M. Caines, asked me if I wanted to participate in the Blog Hop.

It was hard to decide whether to talk about the YA Contemporary Fantasy book I’m currently querying, a second Historical Fiction that’s currently on the backburner, or my new YA Fantasy manuscript.  I went with the new one—I’m about 15k words in.

What is the working title of your book?

It’s called JUDGMENTAL.  For now, at least!

Where did the idea come from for the book?

My mother randomly found a book about Brehon Law that she bought from our local library’s used book sale.  It had little blurbs about the laws that the Brehons were expected to enforce as the judges in Ireland for thousands of years, until the 1600s, when Oliver Cromwell and the English army outlawed certain Celtic practices.  This started me thinking about descendants of these Brehons who might have a supernatural interest in reviving Celtic culture. 

So I stole the book away.  (Thanks, Mom!)

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ooh!  This is fun.

My main character, the narcissistic Rowan Conneely, looks like a young Sarah Michelle Gellar (think Cruel Intentions).Image 

Her love interest, Stephen Casey, looks like a younger Zac Efron.Image

 Rowan’s father, Jimmy Conneely, looks like Robert Carlyle.Image

 Niamh Lowry, local pubkeeper, looks like Melissa McCarthy.Image

 Moira King, Rowan’s Irish friend, looks like a young Minnie Driver.Image

 Brother Harris, the monk, looks like Donald Sutherland.Image

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

JUDGMENTAL is about a narcissistic 16-year-old New Englander who is sent to live with her estranged father in Ireland, where she discovers she’s the last of a line of Brehons, ancient judges who are now charged with bringing peace back to Ireland.  [Wow, this logline needs serious work—but this is all a Work In Progress . . . ]

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I would love to find an agent for this book!  I am currently querying for THREE WISHES, my first-ever manuscript, and have learned so much in the process.  I’ve got two full manuscripts currently under consideration, and a few dozen queries still out, with more planned.  Even if nothing comes of that, I am truly enjoying writing and will continue to try to find an agent.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Dude!  I’m totally still writing.   🙂

I began this draft on February 15 and am now 15k words in.  At this rate, I should be done with the first draft in another six weeks or so.  I’m aiming for the end of April (arbitrarily).  My two earlier manuscripts I wrote as part of NaNoWriMo 2011 and 2012, so it was one month for each of those first drafts. 

What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?

This is a great question.  I’m still pondering that.  It’s a “low” fantasy, meaning there’s not a ton of world-building, and the landscape will be familiar to those who know western Ireland.

I know it sounds like hubris suggesting this, but I guess I’m feeling very Susan Cooper-ish (The Dark Is Rising) while I plot and write this book.  Her books, though, are probably more serious—and better-written!—than mine.  Also, hers are MG while this is definitely YA.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Since I started writing my first book in 2011, I have found that ideas are coming at me from every which direction.  At times, it’s an effort to turn off the Muse.  Not that I ever want her to go away, of course.

Everything I read about querying said that I should have another project to work on to distract me from the waiting game.  So, for once in my life, I am following someone else’s advice!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

What?!  Did you see the picture of Zac Efron up there?  Oh, you needed more.  Well, Stephen, the character Zac is going to play, (see how ambitious I am?) also recites poetry—a Celtic side-effect.

I lived in Clifden, Ireland for a year when I was 19, just a few years older than Rowan, my MC.  I’ve included a lot of detail about the place that I hope will make it really come alive.

To quote E. M. Caines, who tagged me in this sock BLOG hop:

And that’s it for the Blog Hop. I hope you enjoyed it and I didn’t bore you to tears.

This is the part where I get to tag some worthy authors.  So  – TAG! You’re it!

Please check out the blogs of: Sarah Faulkner, Joan Reeves, and Carissa Taylor to hear about their projects!

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