Friday, August 17, 2012

queries argh!

So WriteOnCon has been awesome! I've learned a ton and have gotten great suggestions for making both my query and first 5 pages better. I've been rewriting my query a lot and it seems that it needs even more tweaking, even since I posted my final query on the WriteOnCon forum board.

I've gone back over Elana Johnson's posts on query letters (if you haven't read them, it is a MUST) making sure I have all of the important info conveyed: hook, setup, conflict, consequence. I've taken out  the subplots so that the query is more stream-lined (hopefully!)

And you know what, guys, the forums are still open! I've posted my re-revised query (very different from the first ones), so if you'd like to check it out, it's here. Any other suggestions would be great! I don't know if I've changed it for the better.

But seriously guys, queries are so hard! There's so much to a story, that breaking it down into its most basic elements is just crazy talk. I've taken a look at a lot of other queries from published and agented authors, but they were mostly from novels I haven't read. The one I found most helpful, was Marissa Meyer's query for Cinder, since I had read that. Going back to the query, I could see all the subplots she left out, even though they were so important to the book! That's what really propelled me to keep cutting my query.

I still have revisions to do on the first 5 pages and the rest of the MS. Grad school starts August 27th (eek!) and I really want to get it done by then, but that would be pretty ridiculous. I'm going away on vacation for the week, (so I won't be blogging), but maybe I can sneak some revisions in there :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Be Inspired Meme

I've been tagged in the Be Inspired Bloghop Meme! Thanks Amanda Olivieri! I've just finished a round of revisions, going on another round, so it's nice to take a little break, step back and look at the bigger picture :)

1. What is the name of your book?

Code of the Firefly 

2. Where did the idea for your book come from?

I've always loved fantastical worlds, but even more so, faeries. I knew I wanted to write about them, but take it far away from the usual Seelie/Unseelie courts. I studied linguistics in college, so I've always loved the idea of codes and secret messages. So that plus the song Fireflies by Owl City (and other music), meld them together and voila, the idea for Code of the Firefly.

3. In what genre would you classify your book?

I think it's YA Contemporary Fantasy.

4. If you had to pick actors to play your characters in a movie rendition, who would you choose?

Elle, my MC, could be a young Zooey Deschanel. Caleb could be Graham Phillips. (I saw him on an episode of White Collar, and feel in love with his green eyes). Jonah could be a Jonas brother (with longer hair).  And I haven't seen anyone for Reza yet, so I'll keep my eyes open.

 5. Give us a one-sentence synopsis if your book.

I've been procrastinating on this for so long because there's so many plot lines that I never know which one to choose. Here it goes: 

When seventeen-year old Elle Evangelista's firefly pendant, a source of legendary power in the Fae world, is stolen, she must translate an ancient message before the solar eclipse, for if she fails, the Fae world, the human realm, and the reason that Elle was drawn to the Fae world to begin with, will be destroyed forever.

6. Is your book already published?


7. How long did it take you to write your book?

Um, I'm still writing? Or at least revising. It's a year and a half and counting.

8. What other books within your genre would you compare it to? Or, readers of which books would enjoy yours?

Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series is the first to pop in my head. Or the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa.

9. Which authors inspired you to write this book?

There are so many. Obviously Cassandra Clare for both the romantic relationship and her urban fantasy world, which is so complete and wonderful. Reading Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone taught me what beautiful writing is and is only something I can continually try to strive for. Becca Fitzpatrick and Hush, hush with both her mythology and romance. And Marissa Meyer with Cinder for her world building, multiple plot lines and amazing writing.

10. Tell us anything that might pique our interest in your book.

It's kind of National Treasure meets Lord of the Rings for YA. Plus lots of music influences. 

Also the first scene, where the church bells ring off-key was inspired by my mom, who, while we were waiting to go see a musical, heard church bells ringing and remarked that they were flat. (I have no idea how she could tell!)

11. Tag five people!

Feel free to participate or not, if you don't want to. But I want to hear about your books!  Here are the five:

Sarah Allen

Jenny Kaczorowski

J.A. Bennett

Christina dos Santos

Christine Danek

Monday, August 13, 2012

Harsh Critiques

I haven't been writing seriously for very long, probably about two years.  But in those two years I have experienced some harsh critiques.

At first, they hurt, as anything that says your baby isn't good enough would.  Okay, let me be honest.  For a while they hurt.  I would yell in my head at the people who critiqued them, saying they didn't understand my book, or that they were just being mean.

And sometimes that was true.  But I also learned a lot from some of those critiques.  Since then, I've been able to separate myself more from the critiques and to look at the critiques with a better eye, not letting my emotion get in the way as much.  But it still hurts.

Every time I get a harsh critique, it reminds me to be a nice critiquer.  It doesn't mean that I shouldn't be truthful.  But there is always a way to make suggestions in a positive constructive way.  And let me tell you positive and constructive critiques are soooo much more helpful than harsh ones.

I just got a critique back from the awesome Amanda Olivieri and her critique was amazing.  She gave me the best advice without being harsh at all.  And even though I have a lot more to change and fix, her critique actually made me feel invigorated to start revisions again!  This is how all critiques should be.

Plus, you don't know what's going on in other peoples lives, if they've had a bad day, whatever.  Wouldn't you rather build someone up than bring someone down?  It's about making the MS the best that it can be, and I think that the best way to do this is to be positive in the critique.

Friday, August 10, 2012


So let me just say, WriteOnCon is a brilliant idea.  This is the first year I'm participating (because, sadly, it's the first year I've heard of it).

It's happening August 14-15, but the forums are already open for critiques of queries, first 250 words and first 5 pages.  It's mostly for kidlit (picture books through YA), but there will be panels and articles on general writing/agent/pub stuff too.

Go check out their schedule and see if there's anything that entices your interest.  I'm sure there's a lot!  I'll be perusing the forums, so come say hi!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review of (the new) Total Recall

So I saw the new Total Recall.  As I've said before, I love action movies; the more things that blow up, the better.  I was really looking forward to this one, because I thought the original was a really interesting concept, and knew that the new one would have great special effects that the original lacked.  Plus Colin Farrell trumps Arnold Schwarzenegger.  For those of you who haven't seen the original, there will be a few spoilers, so I would stop here.

I enjoyed the new Total Recall, but it definitely had some short-comings, though they did improve upon the old one also.  First, there was none of this aliens/mutants/Mars nonsense.  (I thought that part of the original was so dumb).  Here, it's two countries, Britain and "the Colony", where the only way to get between the two is by a huge machine/mechanism called "the Fall" which goes through the center of the Earth.  That was awesome.  The special effects were great.  (The lights!  So sparkly!)  And one could really tell how disfunctional this dystopian government was.

The short-comings of this film were what made the original great.  The MC, Quaid, never gets injected with the serum in Recall.  In the original there's a fight scene after he's injected and he wakes up in a cab going home.  But in this one he never actually "goes" to Recall.  So there's no wondering if the entire story is real or Recall.  This is the main point of the story!!  Making us question what is real or not real and whether our memories make reality.  The point where his friend comes in and tells him that the reality is fake, and he's still at Recall, just didn't do it.  It wasn't convincing at all and at no time did I suspect him to still be at Recall.  The car chase scene was a little over done (not enough explosions, too much racing).  When Lori finally tells him they aren't married and she's just doing her job, it's pretty heavy-handed and too direct in the explanation.  They again went too far and didn't leave the audience wondering what was real and what was Recall.

So I enjoyed it because I enjoy most action flicks, but they didn't get the backbone of the original at all, though they did at least try.

Monday, August 6, 2012

finished revisions (for now)

Guys, I did it.  I finally finished the latest round of revisions for COTF.  I am so excited!  It's been hurting my brain, looking at that MS for so long.  It's now in good hands awaiting more feedback and more revisions.

I'm starting up again my second MS, The Disloyalty of Colors, but I'm kinda nervous about it.  I put it aside while I was doing revisions for COTF and haven't looked at it in a few months.  I'm not sure if I remember the story.  I will definitely have to look for my notes.  How does everyone get back into a MS that they put aside for awhile but haven't completed?  Any tips out there?  I feel like I'll have to read through everything I have so that I am up to speed with where I am, but that might take a while.  I wonder if that's the best way to go about things.

Either way, I'm excited to get back into drafting, since my brain can definitely use a break from revisions.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Esther Day

Today is Esther Day.  I just found this out yesterday and was so taken with the idea I had to blog about it.  When John Green met Esther, who subsequently inspired some of TFiOS, he pronounced her birthday as Esther Day.  She passed away a few weeks after Esther Day, but on her birthday she wanted to remind us to let everyone know how much we love them.  (Yes, I am two years late, but better late than never).

Ordinarily, I probably wouldn't do this, for I am not one for proclaiming love, but this hit me hard.  In fact, TFiOS hit me hard.  Everyone knows someone who has died from cancer, so the story resonates with a lot of people.  For me, it was my dad, who passed away a year and a half ago.  And as it turns out, today would also be his birthday.  Coincidences are sometimes magnificent.  Even under poor circumstances.

So in honor of Esther and my dad, I'm going to tweak today a little bit, and instead of proclaiming love, proclaim thanks, which are almost the same thing.  There are so many things I am thankful for, but the writing community is one of them.  A lot of us know how it feels to be an introvert, a nerd, an outsider, but here we're all accepted.  We're just trying to tell stories, to get lost in a different world, to find hope in the characters of a book.  I am so lucky to have found this community of people who understand the agonies and joys of writing, who are able to relate, who love these characters so much that they talk to me about them like they are real people.  Who get obsessed about literature like I do.  Who want everyone to succeed.  The community is not just a sense of belonging, but truly a sense of adoration.

So don't forget today to remind someone that you are thankful for them or that you love them.  Cherish the friendships that you have and let them know.  You never know what simple words can brighten someone's day.