Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award! Thank You!


Thank you to Kate OMara over at When Kate Blogs for awarding me The Versatile Blogger award for my post What Makes A Novel YA? I am so honored. 


Instructions for the Award

1. Thank the person who gave you the award.
2. Include a link to their blog.
3. Paste the award on your blog.
4. Share 7 things about yourself. 
5. Pass this award on to as many as 15 blogs you enjoy reading and let them know about the award.

Seven Things About Me

1. When not writing, I enjoy being a mom to the most beautiful 5 year old boy. 
2. My favorite flavor combo is coconut and chocolate. (Almond Joy...yummm!)
3. I like to happy dance when things go my way.
4. My theme song is Anything But Ordinary by Avril Lavigne...and yes, sometimes I am so weird I freak myself out...hehehe. 
5. I enjoy making those around me laugh.
6. I blame God for my blessings...and thank him for them everyday. *grin*
7. I am afraid of having my recently submitted manuscript either rejected or accepted.

Those I'm passing The Award To

2. Bess Weatherby @It's the world, dear
3. Johanna Garth @ Losing Sanity
4. Heather Davis @ Minivan Momma
5. Lynda R. Young @ W.I.P. It

Thanks so much for the award, Kate!!!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What makes a novel YA?

With the relocation of the Young Adult section from the back to the front of many bookstores, I find myself wondering what exactly it is that makes a book YA. I have been told by not a few people to not be surprised if a publisher wants to turn my novel YA. What does that mean exactly? Yes, my two main protagonists are under 18, but I wrote my book for adults. In researching the meaning of YA, I came across this on Wikipedia:

Young-adult fiction or young adult literature (often abbreviated as YA),[1][2] also juvenile fiction, is fiction written, published, or marketed to adolescents and young adults. The Young Adult Library Services (YALSA) of the American Library Association (ALA) defines a young adult as someone between the ages of twelve and eighteen. Authors and readers of young adult (YA) novels often define the genre as literature as traditionally written for ages ranging from twelve years up to the age of eighteen, while some publishers may market young adult literature to as low as age ten or as high as age twenty-five[3]. The terms young-adult novel, juvenile novel, young-adult book, etc. refer to the works in the YA category.

The subject matter and story lines of YA literature are typically consistent with the age and experience of the main character, but, beyond that, YA stories span the spectrum of fiction genres. Themes in YA stories often focus on the challenges of youth, sometimes referred to as problem novels or coming-of-age novels.[4] Writing styles of YA stories range widely, from the richness of literary style to the clarity and speed of the unobtrusive and free verse.


I can honestly say that this didn't tell me a whole lot. So is YA simply having young characters? Though the protagonists are under 18, the antagonist in my novel is very much an adult and rules by fear and domination, be it sexual, physical, or mental. Am I the only one that feels like this is inappropriate for young adult readers? I know I have many bloggy friends who write for the YA genre specifically and I would love to get your opinion. 

Is any topic appropriate for YA as long as the characters are young? Are you hurting yourself by insisting on publishing adult? Are morals really this lost in today's culture?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Submission Limbo

I have decided to try my hand at multiple projects at one time, and I find that it is very hard to pay attention to the project that is in the revision process when the other is in the creating process.

 I love the creating process.

When I start a new project, I first draw a map. I'm a fantasy writer, so being able to see my world is a must. How can you create characters without first having a world to put them on? I do usually have a type of character or story in mind before I create said map, but that character or story is no more than a type until that map has been drawn out. (Don't ever ask to see my maps. I can't actually draw, but my maps do the job as best they can. *grin*) After drawing my map, I move on to the basics: creating the religion, magic, weather, geography, animals, cultures, economics, government, etc. Then, I start choosing specific names for specific places on my map and main characters.

Here is where I must plug one of my absolutely most favorite sites.Creating Fantasy and Science Fiction Worlds If you are a writer, especially of fantasy and science fiction, you must save this site and refer to it when creating any new story. It saves on the time you have to spend going back and re-writing because you forgot to take into account some really important aspect for your story's world to even exist. I am sure they have a book out there with this info in it, but this site is free and much more convenient for me.

After checking to make sure I have answered all the why, when, where, and how's, I outline.
Did I just admit that I don't rely on the natural gift and inspiration from God to tell me what direction to take, but that I OUTLINE?!!!!

Yep *grin*, sure did. It's true. I outline. I know where I'm going, why, and how long before I start typing the first word of the first draft. It's just how my brain likes to work and I find that it keeps me from going off on a tangent, rewriting more times than I would have already, and wasting my valuable time.

I am so excited about my newest project, but I am forcing myself to give the other attention, also. After-all, it is the one that I pitched to an editor, and then submitted to said editor all of 10 days ago(yeah, I'm counting...what of it?*wink*) There are always more revisions, right?! Every time I look at it, I find something else that I need to fix. If I'd leave the new project alone, I'd have this one done in a snap.

And I tell you all of this simply to say, that I am going crazy while in submission limbo and trying to keep my mind occupied by my projects, but it's only working a little.

How about you? What do you do to get through submission limbo? Do you work on other things, revise the MS you submitted, or lose yourself in Facebook? When starting a new project, do you outline? I won't hold it against you if you choose to evoke your 5th amendment right. *laughs* Let me know what you think about  the site I shared!!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Writer's Calendar and Toblerone

I have 'The Writer's Calendar' hanging on the wall behind my computer so that every time I look up from the laptop's screen I see it. What is a writer's calender, exactly? Well, let me tell you about it. 

Last summer, I attended a writing workshop put on by an amazing writing instructor, William Bernhardt. I learned a ton about the craft that I never heard anything about in college. If you are in the market for a good writing workshop, I would encourage you to check out his website: William Bernhardt Writing Programs. If you decide to attend this fabulous writing program, I should warn you that the homework is intense. 

At the end of the seminar I attended, Bill handed out what he labeled 'The Writer's Calendar'. It is a week by week breakdown that helps you stay on track to finish a top-quality manuscript in six months. 

Yes, I said six months. 

I don't have this amazing calendar stuck on my wall where I can always see it because I strictly follow it's schedule...because I don't . Rather, I use it as a guideline. For weeks 6-18 it says to write 5 pages everyday, 10 on Saturdays with no editing. Just keep moving ahead. Do additional writing to complete 10% each week. 

This seems a bit strenuous to me as sometimes two pages can take the entire 5 to 6 hours I set aside for my writing each day. Some days I have to skip writing all together in order to fulfill some other obligation I am committed to. Do you see my problem with such a strict schedule? *grin* It took me almost 2 years to finish my first manuscript. 

I've recently submitted that one and will be starting on #2 soon. I am going to try to stick closer to this wonderfully well-intentioned calendar, but I bet it still takes me at least a year. *laughs*

How about you? How long does it take you to write a good quality MS from start to finish? Do you write everyday? Only when you feel like it? I would love to hear your version of completing an MS. 

___________________



Today, I am enjoying an individually wrapped Toblerone as I sit here and type this post. I will probably eat at least 2 more to make up for the fact that they are individually wrapped and not the big ones I like so much. Haven't heard of them? You poor misguided soul!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Healthy Writing

As writers, we spend many hours behind a desk at our computer sitting on our backsides. The only thing that gets a workout is our brain and our fingers...and a foot if you're like me and tap your toe along with the music playing in the background. *grin*

We often forget that the health of our body determines the quality of our writing as much as the knowledge and imagination in our minds. When thinking of a fit and healthy body, we often think of our physical appearance. All of us would love to have a nice figure, but don't deem it important enough to take time away from our writing to get to the gym. We tell ourselves that what we look like doesn't matter as much as the quality of our writing. But what most of us forget is that health and fitness is more than the way we look and has much to do with good quality writing.

Besides making our joints, muscles, and bones feel healthier, a healthy body promotes a healthy mind. This means that we are better at dealing with stress, our self-esteem is higher, and we are more positive about life in general. This also means that we are more focused on our writing, not letting rejection or a million revisions deter us from finishing that long manuscript and living our dreams of being a writer.



Put in perspective, we can see that living a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and healthy eating is extremely important to our writing career. We wouldn't fail to go back through our finished manuscript for grammatical errors, so why would we ignore our health and risk letting an unhealthy mind affect our writing?

Some of the most common objections to considering a healthy lifestyle are: I don't have the money for a gym membership. Healthy food is expensive. I'm too busy.

We don't have to spend a ton of money on a gym membership or the next popular eating program. Our healthy lifestyle can be as simple as a walk around our neighborhood and smaller portions at meal time. We have plenty of time if we think about it. If we set aside one of those TV shows or some of the time we waste on social media, we'll find that 10 to 20 minutes for a walk isn't that hard to find. Start with baby steps. Make it a lifestyle change rather than thinking of it as temporary. You'll find that you can keep at it if your goals each day are realistic.

I am a goal person. I need something to work toward to go along with making exercise a part of my routine, so I've decided to attempt my 2nd 5K race in a few months. I did pretty good with the last one and it kept the running from becoming boring. If you're like me and want to add in something you can work toward, I would challenge you to look up local 5K's in your area. You'll be helping yourself find a healthier lifestyle and contributing to a worthy cause(in most cases) at the same time. You can't go wrong!

What are you doing to keep yourself healthy? I would love to hear any new or creative ways that my fellow writers are using to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

2012 OWFI Conference 2012

The value of writing conferences never ceases to amaze me. This weekend I attended the OWFI Conference in OKC and can I just say....What. A. Blast!!!! I volunteered to shepherd. Since I have been informed that this is something that is not done at every conference, I'll explain.

 OWFI provides a shepherd/personal assistant for every visiting speaker/editor/agent. The shepherd picks them up from the airport, makes sure they get checked into their hotel, makes sure they get to each each event within the conference they need to be, fetches them water/hot cocoa/coffee/Tylenol etc, takes them to lunch if they are not asked by anyone else, takes them sightseeing if there is time, and then gets them back to the airport when it is all over. A shepherd also makes an invaluable contact and if they are lucky, a new friend.

I had the honor of shepherding Tor editor, Melissa Frain at this year's conference. This is her and me at one of the banquets.

I really think I was the luckiest shepherd at this conference, because we had so much fun. We even managed to find time to go sightseeing. Here we are visiting the OKC bombing memorial after a fabulous lunch at McNellies Pub in downtown OKC. 
The final night of the conference everyone dressed up for the awards banquet hoping to win an award for their submissions in the contest. My friend, Melanie gave me a good luck gift before and though I didn't win, I still appreciate it very much.The judge for my category did say she loved my entry, but other entries were just as good without as many mechanical. *sigh* Yes, you read it correctly...mechanical errors. I could kick myself...hard, but I am happy to know that it wasn't because she thought it was terrible.

We had a fabulous group sitting at our table for the last banquet. In this photo from left to right: William Bernhardt, Erin York, Angela Christina Archer, Aaron Archer, Larry Fish, Sabrina A. Fish, and Melissa Frain. 
 
Also, I pitched my novel this weekend and am happy to say that Melissa Frain asked me to submit the first 3 chapter to her via email. In case you missed it earlier in the post...SHE WORKS FOR TOR BOOKS! *laughs* I know it isn't a contract yet, but this was my very first pitch, so I am over the moon. This weekend was a blast. 

In conclusion, my advice to other new writers who may read this post would be: Go to a conference and pitch your work over submitting via mail if you can. The agent or editor will have a face to go with your name and submission. It can only help, right?!! Also, get involved with your local conference. Volunteer! You never know when that could be your open door.

HAPPY WRITING!!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

~Z~

For the last post in this 2012 A to Z Challenge, I thought I'd share a little scene from my WIP starring my MC, Ruark and his father, General Zanderi..

***

The General rolled his shoulders as he said in disgust. “I should have killed you at birth. You have always been and continue to be nothing but a disappointment.”

Mad laughter threatened to burst from Ruark's throat. He had only ever wanted this man’s love, but his father was incapable of such an emotion.

He let a small smile lift the corners of his lips. “At one time those words might have hurt, but I am well past caring what you think of me, Father. At the same time, I do not wish to kill you. Please do not force me.”

“I will see you dead and the girl sacrificed to the dark flame,” his father said with a sneer.

“I thought you might say that,” Ruark sighed as he accepted the inevitability of this day. He would not kill his father if he could help it, but he would distract him long enough for his high queen to escape.

His mind sank into cold indifference as he gathered his power, forming a ball of fire in his palm. Using the fireball as a distraction, Ruark threw it at his father and pulled his sword from its scabbard. His father blocked the fire and drew his own weapon. The sound of swords clashing soon filled the clearing. Loose sand and gravel swirled through the air, gaining speed as his father manipulated the debris with his power. Sweat dripped into Ruark’s eyes. His muscles burned. He watched his father, knowing the debris acted as a distraction. Blood dripped from a cut on his arm from a rock he failed to deflect. They circled each other.

The General tilted his head slightly as if Ruark were a puzzle he wished to solve. “Do you really think you can win this? Your power does not come close to equaling mine.”

“You are correct, father. My power surpasses yours,” he said, his power orb pulsing to the rapid beat of his heart.

Ruark tightened his free hand into a fist, using his power to cut off his father’s breath as he swung his sword. The General sent stones flying at his head and met Ruark's swing with his own. Dodging the stones, he clenched his fist tighter. His father’s face became red with excursion as he labored to breathe. A crack from behind had him spinning to see a large tree branch flying toward him.

He dove out of the way, losing his hold on his father’s throat. Without pausing the General’s lips began to move and a sword of black fire appeared in his hand. The General swung both swords in rapid succession as he attacked Ruark and forcing him to retreat further. He stumbled over the tree branch and fell to one knee. The fire sword met his sword and severed the blade from the handle.

Ruark scrambled back. He concentrated on his orb. His hand grew warm. He concentrated harder. His orb pulsed faster, matching the pace of his racing heart. The General lunged at him, breaking his concentration. The warmth in his hand faded. He scrambled back and rounded a boulder as his father followed at a leisurely pace.

Ruark continued to move higher up the rocky, tree covered mountain toward the ledge overlooking the road where his father had been ambushed. He once again concentrated on his orb. His hand grew warm. The orb pulsed faster. His hand became hot. Ruark held his hand before him as the veins in his forehead bulged. A sword pulsing with the colors of his orb grew from his hand as he gritted his teeth at the blistering pain on his palm. He froze in mid-stride as he studied the glowing sword.

His father stepped from behind a tree, his own black glowing sword creating shadows on the rocky ground. Ruark renewed his attack on his father. He pulled on the bars from Finn’s cage with his power and they flew up over the ledge toward the General. The General knocked the iron bars from the air with a glance as he advanced toward Ruark, both swords swinging.

His father swung the steal sword low as he brought the black sword toward his chest. Ruark jumped, kicking his father’s hand as he brought his own sword of power up to block his father’s black sword. The General dropped the steal sword from numb fingers as the black sword burned a path down Ruark’s shoulder and arm as his block failed to deflect the blow completely.

Ruark stumbled, the pain of his father’s power like acid. He raised his head to glare at the General. The last of his delusions about gaining his father’s approval fell away. He raised his sword and attacked as he screamed out the loss of what hope he had clung to until this moment. Ruark increased his momentum causing his father to begin to retreat. Spotting a large rock behind the General, Ruark pulled it closer. The General tripped over the rock twisting his ankle and falling backwards. As the General landed on the ground, his black sword disappeared and Ruark jumped forward, and held his own pulsing sword at his father’s throat.

“Do not make me kill you,” Ruark said in a low voice.

Eyes burning in contempt, the General spit at him. “You always were a spineless coward.”

***

I hope that the combination of the poetry based on my WIP in the earlier posts and these little excerpts have you interested in reading my book when I get it published. If so, please follow by blog, twitter, facebook, and google+. Stay tuned for that future announcement!!!