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Monday, May 31, 2010

My Absence

Sorry about the lack of posts! During the storm Memorial Day my internet went out quickly followed by the power. The power came back on a few hours later, but my internet is still out. We're not sure what it is or when it will be back on, so there might not be any blogs this week. I'll be back as soon as I can! =( Hopefully they'll figure out what's wrong with it tomorrow and that will be that.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Week in Short

Week in Short is going to be on Saturday from now on, at least until school's over in two weeks. Sorry, Doctor Who has kind of taken over whatever free time I have left outside if school, homework, and writing. Though that should end soon. I've only got four episodes of series four left to go. I watched DW for nine hours straight yesterday afternoon. I had no idea until I glanced down at the clock at midnight and did the math. This was supposed to be up this morning, but I slept in until eleven and then got invited over to my great-aunt's house to go swimming in the lake all afternoon. Really threw a wrench in my plans to be productive. Once I got home I (of course) had to watch the new episode of DW. Which was somewhat epic, although I had those "OMG someone please hit her over the head with something extremely hard" moments. I seriously need the next episode.

Song of the week: Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac

Must Read:
Three T's of Writerhood: Tenacious, Talkative, and Teachable

Contests:
PMN is looking for guest blogs! All submissions are due June 16th!
YA Highway turned one this week and in celebration YA Highway is hosting three days of fabulous giveaways! The prizes are for those who read, write, and just like to have fun! They end June 6th so hurry over there!

BEA:
BookExpo America was this week and this was clear by the large number of posts on the event.
Janet Reid: Day 1 and Day 2
Rejecter
Kody Keplinger
Rejectionist

Blood-Red Pencil
Interview with agent-turned-independent editor part 1
Part 2

BookEnds:
Query recap
Time for a new agent
What to do with galleys

GLA:
How to get an agent's attention
7 tips on book publicity
Successful query for I Was a Teenage Popsicle

Nathan Bransford:
What makes for an awesome setting
Page critique -- fantasy/suspense

Pimp My Novel:
Literary fiction
PubIt! [Am I the only one wondering what they were thinking during the name brainstorming sessions?]

Queryshark:
Contemporary romance

Ramblings of a Writer:
Write what you don't know

Writer Unboxed:
Putting writing before research

***
Unfortunately school + Doctor Who = not much writing this week. Plus I'm writing a novel for creative writing class so at the moment I'm handwriting all morning. By the time I get home, I'm so dried out and tired that all I want to do is curl up in bed and watch three episodes of DW.

No change with Double-Crossed or Guardian.

Three Days -- 21.5k. I worked on it a little bit this week, but not too much.

After the Jump -- 600. I've been trying to work on it, but I keep getting this feeling that I need to do more research. Probably going to take WU's advice this weekend and just write.

All right everyone, have a wonderful holiday weekend and I'll be back on Monday. :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Young Writers/Authors

Over the weekend, I was at Borders. And at Borders there was a local author signing books. She was fifteen when the first book was published and is now seventeen with two in print and a third on the way. While I was wandering around the YA section, I overheard her dad talking to a couple people about her. With all the people he talked to, there were two things they had in common.

1. Surprise. Why are people always so surprised to hear teens have been published?? Just because we're not old enough to drink doesn't mean we can't write. Teens can be very good writers. There can be bad adult writers and bad teen writers. Age is not really a factor.

2. "Is she still in school?" Being published does not grant you the ability to drop out of school. It'd be awesome if it did, but alas, it doesn't. For most people it doesn't even get you out of having a regular job to pay the bills.

I know most of you already know this, but I wanted to say it anyway.

And don't forget, one of the greatest writers of all time was a teenager when her first novel was written. I'll give you a couple hints. Her book is required by middle schoolers to be read every year. It might be because of her that we have the young adult contemporaries to browse in bookstores.

Give up?

Her name is S.E. Hinton and she wrote The Outsiders when she was only sixteen years old.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My Sister's Keeper Review

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate -- a life and a role that she has never challenged...until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister -- so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves.

This book caught me from the beginning as a very powerful story, which of course it was. It deals with a very controversial issue from a variety of lights.

I didn't like the changes in PoV at first. It was hard for me to keep up with who was talking, especially in the first few chapters. I didn't even recognize Sara's name at the top of chapter two and it was a few pages in before I realized it was Anna and Kate's mom talking and not Anna anymore. Once I got used to the changes though, I started to like them. Strangely enough, I like Campbell and Julia's sections the best and the story wasn't even about them. I really loved the side story of their romance, and Campbell's dialogue.

The characters in this book were so amazing and rounded they could very well have been real. Best characters I've read in a book by far, I think.

The end took me by surprise, ripped my heart out, and left me in shock, torn, and covered in tears. I'm not going to lie, I cried. A lot. Looking back I'm not sure if I like the ending or not. It felt like it really came out of left field for me. I didn't see it coming at all and it was so not what was expected.

Overall: 9/10

Monday, May 24, 2010

Interview with Courtney Moulton

This week we have young adult author and equestrian, Courtney Moulton, at the blog with us! She has her own blog here. Her debut novel, ANGELFIRE, comes out in summer 2011. Thanks for joining us Courtney!

Can you tell us something about yourself and Angelfire?

I’m a twenty-three-year old photographer, artist, and equestrian.
Angelfire was my 2008 NaNoWriMo novel. It’s about a seventeen-year-old
girl named Ellie who is the reincarnation of an ageless warrior and the
only one able to wield swords of angelfire. She protects human souls
against the reapers, monstrous creatures who devour souls and send them to
Hell in order to rebuild Lucifer’s army of the damned for a second war
against Heaven. She doesn’t remember her past lives or understand exactly
what she is, but her soul remembers one thing: her Guardian and sworn
protector, Will. As she uncovers the terrifying secrets of her origins and
of Will’s mysterious past, a powerful reaper has discovered a weapon that
may be able to destroy Ellie’s immortal soul forever, ending her
reincarnation cycle and unleashing Hell upon Earth.

What was it like being a novel writer at sixteen? Did you find that
everyone supported you?

Writing a book when I knew nothing about writing books was difficult. I
hadn’t yet developed my own technique so my first book went through
countless rewrites as I tried to figure out how to tell a story correctly.
I had a lot of support from family, friends, and even teachers, but I
wasn’t ready to be published yet and neither was that book. One day I
believe it will be publishable, but for now, it’s taking an indefinite
slumber in my computer.

Did you think Angelfire would someday be part of a trilogy?

When I first came up with the concept, I wanted to make the story of the
Preliator into a multi-book series. The story developed more and more and
I realized I would only need three books to tell it. It would be easy to
stretch the story out into four or more books, but as of now the story
ends with the third book.

Where did you get the idea for Angelfire?

I was watching The Time Machine, which is about a scientist whose fiancé
dies and he builds a time machine to go back in time to save her, but she
keeps dying in different ways. Eventually, he gives up. I wondered what
would have happened if he never gave up trying to save her life, even
though he knew she was doomed to die. That was how Will's character was
created. His name means 'resolute protector' and I wanted him to be a kind
of bodyguard to this girl with superhuman strength and abilities. It’s his
job to protect her even though she's doomed, but she means more to him
than just his charge because he's in love with her. He has always kept
this secret from her throughout the centuries because he fears how it
might complicate their mission and also because it is forbidden by the one
who gave him this responsibility.

What was your road to publication like?

In 2008 I felt like my first novel, the one I wrote at sixteen, was ready
and I became serious about getting published. I had a solid query and got
a lot of requests, but after a few close calls, I decided that the book’s
story wasn’t quite there yet. So I wrote Angelfire for NaNoWriMo in
November and the day I finished the first draft, I sent queries. HUGE
MISTAKE! I sent a few queries just to see what would happen and when those
queries turned into requests, I scrambled to revise. Naturally, those
requests turned into rejections so I decided to stop querying for a while,
recruit a couple of beta readers, rewrite and revise and rewrite and
revise, and then in January I felt I had a solid book. So I began querying
again, and this time queried a few of my dream agents, including Elizabeth
Jote who I had spoken over the phone with about my first book. Two weeks
later, Elizabeth offered representation. A month later, we were on
submission and a month after that, I had revision requests from editors at
publishing houses. After over five months of more extensive rewrites and
adding almost thirty thousand new words, we went back on submission. One
year to the day of finishing the first draft of Angelfire, Elizabeth
called to tell me we were about to get an offer from a publisher and the
next day we accepted that offer.

If you could change one thing that you did on the way to getting
published, what would it be?

Haha! I definitely would have taken my time revising and rewriting
Angelfire before querying. I regret being so impatient and if there is one
thing every single writer learns from publishing, it’s patience. The more
you edit, the better your book will be. I learned my lesson from that
experience and everything worked out in the end. It’s okay to make
mistakes, but just try to avoid them.

Every aspiring author dreams of getting "the call." What was your call
from your agent like?

I actually missed “the call” but the voicemail Elizabeth left was crazy
surreal. It was late at night when I got the message so we exchanged a few
emails and talked over the phone a day or two later. I was so nervous, but
I tried to act professional and to not sound like a complete idiot. I
asked her a lot of questions about herself and how she works with clients,
because I wanted an agent who would help me revise and Elizabeth has a
great editorial mind. I had known a lot about her because we’d spoken over
the phone about my first book the summer before, so it felt like it was
meant to be. And it was! It’s so important to find an agent who is right
for you so your business relationship can work.

Can you tell us what's coming next for you?

Right now the goal is to just survive the release of my debut novel and
it’s two sequels. I have a few projects on my computer that I poke at
occasionally, but I don’t know yet which will be my fourth book. Time will
tell!

What's it like being part of the YA Rebels?

Being in the YA Rebels is a lot fun. We talk every day and goof around and
try to do our best with every topic. Making a video each week is tough,
but we pull it off. We have so many exciting weeks ahead!

How do you balance school, riding, writing, and everything else?

Luckily for me, I don’t really like to sleep. It wastes time. I spend all
day at the stables riding horses and I come home to write, but the best
writing I do is between midnight and four in the morning. The only time I
enjoy sleep is during horse shows, whether I’m riding or just
photographing other riders and horses, because it’s exhausting and not
much writing gets done then. One day, when I’m older and have kids, I
probably won’t be able to write the way I do now, but I don’t have to
worry about that for a while.

Do you have any strategies to beat writers' block?

I like to beat writer’s block before it happens. I have to have a very
extensive outline for a book before I can write it. Right now I am working
on Angelfire’s sequel, Wings of the Wicked, and the outline for this book
is six thousand words. I don’t like to feel stuck so I have to know
exactly what happens and where and I need to be able to jump all over a
manuscript into different scenes and back again. I can’t write in order or
write off the top of my head.

And finally, do you have any advice you'd like to give aspiring authors of
any age?

Make it your goal to be challenged. When others read your work and tell
you it’s good, ask them how you can make it great. Definitely research
this industry before you dive into it. You don’t want to make a mistake
that will jeopardize your career. And read. Read a lot. Studying the way
others write can teach you new techniques and how to develop the skills
you already have. You can also learn what to do and what not to do. You
can learn something from everyone.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Week in Short

Sorry about the lateness of this post! I promised myself I'd get it up on Friday. Then I got home at six, took a shower because I got soaked out in the pouring rain (long story), laid down to take a "nap" at eight. I woke up at 7:30 this morning trying to remember when I'd gone to bed. Then I went shopping. City of Glass, Rules of Attraction, The Red Pyramid, and When It Happens have now joined by to be read pile. I can't wait to read them!!

Song of last week: Get Up by Superchick (Which I think is a really awesome song for authors and writers in general)
Song of this week: Undo It by Carrie Underwood

Must Read:
We have a winner at Queryshark!
Five tips on giving critiques at Querytracker

Contests:
Querytracker contest for one-line pitch and first chapter judged by Kathleen Ortiz!!!!! Starts June 1st so start getting those pitches ready!

News:
Pimp My Novel is now on Facebook and Twitter!

Blood-Red Pencil:
Brainstorming through writers' block
Editing after the first draft

BookEnds:
Novellas

Nathan Bransford:
YA fantasy page critique
One-sentence pitches

Pimp My Novel:
Query advice

Rachelle Gardner:
Value of a verbal pitch

Story Flip:
Guest blogger, Claudia Gray, on outlining
Real life diagnostic: show vs tell

YA Highway:
Thesaurus

***
Double-Crossed: 4k -- pretty much sitting on the wayside at the moment. I know where I want it to go, I just don't know how I want it to go there.

Guardian: 1.3k. -- same as Double-Crossed. I think with this one more of the problem lies with me getting bogged down by world-building.

Three Days: 21k -- coming along great!! I'm a little bit stuck at the moment, but that's more because I know I have all this work that I have to do so I can't work on it without feeling guilty. Hoping that I might be able to settle down and work on it tonight or tomorrow.

After the Jump -- Against my better judgment, I have a new WiP. If the name seems familiar, that's because it is. After the Jump was originally intended to be Jump's sequel. Now it seems to be leaning more towards a stand-alone, which both novels pretty much are. I got an idea for a scene for this one while I was straightening my hair the other night and I couldn't help myself. I'm stuck at the moment because I need to do research on coma recovery, but I'm really excited about it.

That's all for this week! Everyone have an awesome weekend!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Horses in Novels/Movies/Etc

Today we're going to talk about my two favorite subjects: horses and writing, at the same time. :D I'm going to talk about the parts horses can play in novels, and then some common mistakes writers make when using horses.

Horses can play minor and major parts in novels. There are entire novels and entire series devoted entirely to this beautiful animal. Black Beauty, Thoroughbreds, Pony Pals, Phantom Stallion, and the Black Stallion are just a few.

Horses can be a form of transportation. A horse can carry a person across a long distance in a fraction of the time it would take that person to walk the same distance if there aren't any cars or trains. In Tamora Pierce's Wild Magic, Daine and her friends must ride anywhere they wish to go.

Horses can be used in war. This is particularly in older, more medieval type novels when cavalry was still common. Think of the movie, Prince Caspian. They use horses for transport: when Caspian has to flee the city and when Lucy and Susan gallop into the woods looking for Aslan. They also use horses in war on both sides. They use horses to pull wagons of supplies and also the catapults.

Now here are some commonly made mistakes writers make when they use horses in novels:

1. Leaving horses tied in full tack for long periods of time. In Princess Diaries 2, Nicholaus and Mia leave their two horses tied to a tree still wearing both the saddle and the bridle. They leave them there all night with no visible access to food or water. And that is definitely not okay. The old cowboy videos where the cowboy ties a horse up to a hitching post with the bridle reins? Wrong. You should never tie a horse by the bridle, especially one that has a bit attached. If the horse panics, they can seriously injure their mouth trying to pull free. Leaving the saddle on is a little easier to accept, but the girth should always be loosened first and the saddle should never be left on for a very long time.

2. Galloping a horse a long distance without warming up. You wouldn't be able to run out your front door right now and sprint five miles without taking the time to warm up a little first.

3. Galloping a horse a long distance that isn't fit. You can't just run out into a pasture, jump on a random horse, and gallop it three miles. Equine athletes are specially trained to be able to do that, just like human athletes.

There's another one that I'm not going to mention because it's more of my pet peeve than a real mistake. If you misrepresent horses in your novel, you could potentially be turning off readers from your book. I spent five minutes glaring at one of the pages of Marked because they'd made a mistake that could've been very easily corrected. (For future reference, a curry comb does not make a 'woosh' sound. Curry combs are used in a circular motion to remove dirt and mud from the top coat.) A little research goes a long way. Consider horses as part of your world building.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

RTW - Tattoo Homage

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's question is:
What tattoo would you get to pay homage to a favorite book or celebrate the success of your own?

This week's question was a really tough one for me. I don't have any tattoos. On don't plan on getting any tattoos in the near future. I have nothing against them. I like tattoos. But on other people. I'll write on my hands and arms as much as the next person, but at the end of the day all that washes off. I'm not so sure about painfully dying my skin cells so that I can have a picture that lasts my entire life. So everything that follows is hypothetical and probably will never happen.

The only tattoo I've ever actually considered getting is of a little gray horse with angel wings with Lady in calligraphy underneath. I might actually have that one someday, but I'm not sure where. I'd want it somewhere I can see though, so probably not on the back of my shoulder.

If I wanted to celebrate the success of my own book, I'm not sure what I would do. Most likely I would choose a favorite and particularly powerful line or symbol from the book. With Jump, I think it would be a ledge. With Double-Crossed, since the characters have tattoos, I would probably choose my favorite of the tattoos and get that one somewhere. They have them on the inside of their palms, so maybe on the inside or back of my wrist.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Host Review



The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy that takes over the minds of human hosts. Most of humanity has succumbed. When Melanie -- one of the last remaining humans -- is captured, she is certain it is her end.

Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, probes her thoughts to discover the whereabouts of the remaining human resistance. Instead, Melanie fills Wanderer's mind with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she is tasked with exposing. When outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off on a dangerous search for the man they both love.

Yes, I lost my mind and picked up Host. I've been waiting for it since I first read Twilight (I was a huge fan back then, still have Edward's poster on my wall) and when I saw it in the library I figured, "Why not?"

I'm not going to lie, I was disappointed.

The first quarter was very slow, it picked up a little at the middle, and then it slowed back down again. I almost stopped reading it several times through the first three-quarters of the book and even after I kept reading, I couldn't wait for it to be over. The ending was very anti-climatic. There's this huge jump in the tension and then it goes back down again and just ends. It's just a really long book that doesn't seem to have enough tension to pull the reader along.

There were a few things I liked though. I loved Melanie and Jamie's characters. Jamie was such a sweetheart. The love square was probably the coolest part of the entire book. Definitely the strangest love square I've ever read in my life, though I'm still not sure about how it ended up.

A lot of the things having to do with the souls felt like plot devices. For example, Wanderer can walk into any store she likes and just pick up as much stuff as she wants free of charge. This comes in handy a lot.

The blurb doesn't even really fit the book past the first quarter and that kind of annoyed me. I felt like I'd been mislead. That might be a personal thing though, but I like books to mostly fit the blurb. Catching Fire is the only book I know that I love and understand why the whole thing didn't fit the blurb.

Score: 5/10 Overall, The Host was just an awesome premise with a lot of potential that fell short.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Revision Week: How Hannah Tackles Them

Last, but not least, for Revision Week is Hannah Moskowitz, author of Break (Simon Pulse) and Invincible Summer (Simon Pulse, April 2011). *cue applause and firecrackers* Thanks Hannah!


When I first started writing, I did at least five or six drafts of each manuscript before anyone saw it but me. Then it went out to betas, and then out on submission, and by the time any agent saw it, it was probably seven or eight drafts removed from the original thing. That was what I needed to do then to make the manuscript okay.

Now that I've had more more practice, I generally only do a draft or two before I send my manuscript to my agent and my beta readers, and then there's usually only another draft or two after that before it goes to editors. The process is a lot faster now. There are two main things that allow me to do this. One: My first-drafting skills are way better. I write tight, clean first drafts now, which makes the editing process a lot easier.

Two: I figured out how to tackle revisions. And my favorite way of tackling them is one pass through the manuscript that touches on all the revisions you know you need to do.

I don't focus on one change at once. Instead, I make a list of the stuff that needs changing, and I read through the manuscript looking for places these things can be added. What I'm really looking for are strings to tug to bring something from the background into the foreground, or places where a snippet of scene can be added, or a character interaction that I can change to fulfill a revision need. And I keep going through the book, pulling strings, until I've done the changes I need to make.

A lot of times, the revisions you have to do involve taking what's already in the book and making it louder, more obvious, more important, which has the added bonus of making themes and so forth quieter and subtler and more delicate. And revising this way has the added benefit (typically) of boosting your word count, which is something I always need!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Revision Week: How Rachel Tackles Them

Today's guest blogger is one of my best twiftie friends, Rachel Mercaldo. Thanks Race!!

Revising with an agent – A newly represented writer’s perspective

Revisions. Revise it. Rev it. Rev it up.

Pedal to the metal, keyboard, it is time to make this baby sing.

The above is the attitude you should have when revising. You need to be positive, motivated, with a road ahead of you to take and a car to get you there.

But if you have any experience in the publishing world, you know that the above attitude can sometimes be hard to reach. Of course, like with most other emotions, we all feel them differently and at different times, but I think I can say for the rest of us writers that we sometimes feel a little lost. We don’t know what to do with our great works or how it should be done – we just know something has to be done to get the book to selling quality.

I’d felt lost like this hundreds of times before my novel The Virginity Thief was discovered by Natalie Fischer of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. Natalie is what the industry calls an “editing agent,” meaning that she works with the author to make the novel the best it can be before pushing it out of the nest and sending it to work. Before those talents of hers came into my life, my methods of revising were to critique my writing and worry about every tiny line, bit of dialogue, and comma placement. As you can guess, even after days of editing I still knew deep down that more work needed to be done. But what exactly needed the work was my blind spot. I was disorganized and quite frankly lazy in my efforts when it came to plot – I was determined my story was wonderful and while I could bash my writing I wasn’t so thrilled to accept that the fiction itself could possibly be flawed.

Then came Natalie. She read the novel with an objective seller’s eyes and pointed everything out. I needed to expand on this, I needed to be more clear here, Mari Abdo’s motivations needed to be more apparent right there… she took my motivation and gave me a car and a road to drive it on. An agent can clear the cobwebs from an author’s brain. In the words of a friend, authors view their novels as “masterpieces” and “may not be able to see past the wall of fog” while their agent can do so and guide them in the right direction.

Revising with Natalie doesn’t make the job “easier”, though. I used to think “I can’t wait to revise with an agent,” for some reason assuming that editing with a professional on my side was less difficult than when I was on my own. I still have to slog through pages and pages of words I may be starting to wish I’d never have to see again. I still have to write and rewrite new and old scenes. Never assume that the actual dirty work will magically disappear. In my case, it was simply a matter of someone telling me where to work so that my labor would actually bring about wonderful change.

The day to day interaction between an agent and an author is unique for every relationship, but I know one thing is universal. When agent and author “click” and feel deeply about a work, together they can turn the novel into perfection. A great deal of that work is from the agent’s side, guiding the author to what needs to be done.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Revision Week: How Leasie Tackles Them

Our first guest blogger for the week is our very own twiftie, Leasie! *cue applause*

Revising The Baby

If you’re like me with your novel, especially the first and second ones, then your novel is more than a bunch of words put together on a page. Your novel is your baby, and maybe you're the type of parent that sees straight away that this novel needs to be ripped to shreds to make it stronger or maybe you’re like me who’s heart is so invested in the novel that you just want to tuck it away in a little corner so that nobody can hurt it.

The problem with this frame of thought is that if you’re protecting it, then it’s not going to be as strong as it can be. Just like exposing kids to germs in the playground, if it is to grow up and become a big strong novel it must be exposed to these revisions.

So with that in mind I’ve recently embarked on revising in a way that would be considered as some of those writers with nerves of steel as a waste of time. Never the less it has eased me into this process a lot more then jumping right in. I can still sleep at night, my baby is still protected but most of all it is getting stronger just like it should. So I’ll share with you my time line with Mortal Affairs (my novel currently going through revision).

Step 1: Finish the first draft. Celebrate on face book and tell friends that your first draft is finished. Now there is a purpose to this. Once friends know they will want to read it. This will propel you to continue your process. Yes, you’ve finished the book, now you have to feel comfortable letting your friends read it. With some sadness but a lot of hope you realise after your token day, week or month that it’s time to separate yourself from everybody else who has written a book that lay in some mouldy file in the back of the computer.

Step 2: Structural Edits. Now this is kind of like the difference between taking your car to get detailed or taking it to replace the roof. Here you read over it again taking note of your characters, areas to expand, characterisation to change, characters to get rid of, entire plots you may decide on a whim to change. For some people they may not want to change a lot, for others their characters would have evolved so much over the writing phase that you realise that they are completely different people.

Step 3: Go over it again, this time for Grammar, spelling and getting rid of some of that awesome purple prose that we love so much. Remember even though in high school an Awesome Adverb would get you an A, most the time the simplest way to say something is best. Also to check that everything you changed in step 2 still makes sense.

Step 4: Send it to pre beta’s. Now most people skip this, and really you can if you want. Pre-betas are friends who want to read it mostly for the story. You tell them to look harshly at it and they do, but no matter how hard they try, they are your friends and not authors so as hard as they rip they are still going to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. It’s like a Beta light. They will still pick up the most glaring errors, but they will do it as a reader and it will psych you up to face the real Beta’s. The notes you get here just helped me to feel confident that my story was ready to face the harsh criticising gaze of the Beta’s. I had taught my baby to walk and now it was ready for the big bad world.

Step 5: Edit it based on these pre beta’s reports remembering that their word is not law (a similar rule applies for betas here) and that if you think something really works, this is a snapshot of your creativity so you can’t let people ruin your baby. At the same time remember that it’s pretty likely you are seeing it with rose-coloured glasses. Your Betas are telling you this to make the book better, they do not, no matter how much it feels like it, have a personal vendetta against you.

Step 6: Rinse and repeat with the Real Betas. By now you should feel confident enough in your work to send it to Beta’s. In theory the work they’ll do will be quicker as they shouldn’t have to pick up on the most glaringly obvious problems. Take what they say and edit your work again. Edit until it glitters.

Step 7: Shine up that query letter and send the baby off to tackle the big bad world on its own. Prepare for months of not hearing from it (partials), weeks where all you hear is how it’s failed (rejections) and hope for that time when it comes back to grown up, holding a full offer from an agent.

So there you have it, how I work myself up to the revising process. I hope I've been somewhat informative and I just wanted to say thanks for having me over Rachael.

Thanks for joining us, Leasie!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Revision Week: How I Tackle Them

Doctor Who was awesome this weekend. I can't wait for the next one!! It looks like it's going to be EPIC.

Revisions. Some people love them. And some people hate them. But anyone that wants to be published and even some that don't have to go through them. Everyone has their own way of dealing with revisions. This week is Revision Week. I'm going to talk about how I deal with revisions, and then two of my fabulous guest bloggers will share their methods. =D So let's go!

I like to tackle things in clearly defined steps and revisions are no exception.

Step One: Read through the entire story and make a list of revision suggestions. These could be anything from a character's eye color changing to an overused phrase to a scene that needs to be expanded to an entire character that needs to be removed. Take note of everything. I like to organize mine by category. For example: changes that are chapter specific, and scenes that need to be expanded. (For someone who's room looks like it's been hit by a small tornado, I'm surprisingly organized with my revisions.)

Step Two: Divide the word document into separate documents, one for each chapter. This is incredibly time-consuming but for some reason I have trouble making chapter-specific changes in one whole document. You can probably skip the division part unless you want to do it. I'm just weird. This also allows me to see how long each chapter is and to easily combine or split chapters. Do the chapter-specific revisions now.

Step Three: Put the chapters back together into one document and make the bigger picture revisions.

Step Four: Send to first-round betas. When their comments come back, read and take note of all of them. Make a list of all their suggestions and work your way through them. Consider everything and discard what you don't agree with. (Though make a good argument for why you don't agree with that change.)

Step Five: Take out the garbage. Make a list of all the words and phrases you want to look out for and do a check for them. Delete any that aren't necessary.

Step Six: Give the manuscript a final polish. Tackle any last minute changes. Check grammar and spelling. Make sure everything's as shiny as you can possibly make it.

Step Seven: (optional) Send to last round betas and repeat step four with their comments. You'll probably want first-round betas to give you mostly big picture revisions and second-rounders to look mostly at grammar and structure.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Week in Short

Sorry about this being a day late...again. It's been a pretty busy week for me. Okay, I spent most of it watching series five and part of series one of Doctor Who. New episode on tonight, YES!!!! Also, just a warning, the Preakness is now a week away. I won't be quite as obsessed with horse racing as I was the week before the Derby because I'm not a complete fan of this year's Triple Crown hopeful. Though I'm still getting over the fact that Eskendereya retired this week. GAH. In other news, I finished The Host yesterday. I'll tell you what I think about it later.

Song addiction of the week: Swing by Trace Adkins [This is actually a pretty old song, but I recently got reattached to it while adding to my favorites.]

Must Read:
Beautiful People by Kristin [Doesn't really have anything to do with writing, but READ IT. Now. Seriously.]
Day in the Life of the Rejectionist
Interview with editor, Kate Sullivan at YA Highway

Contests:
Winners of 25-word pitch contest with Chris Richman

News:
There are rumors of a new Flicka movie. I quite honestly did not like the 2006 version, Flicka, but I'm sure I'll end up seeing this one. Eventually.

The release date for Breaking Dawn the movie has been announced: November 18, 2011. No word yet on whether or not BD will be split into two movies. Guys, just because Harry Potter is awesome enough to be split into two movies does NOT mean that Breaking Dawn is, 'kay?? There's more than enough they can cut out of that book to make it into one.

Blood-Red Pencil:
Awesome examples of conflict in first lines

BookEnds:
Morality clauses

GLA:
What if multiple agents want your work?
5 articles on writing with voice
How to have an awesome time at a writers' conference
Three things debut authors should know when signing with an agent

Kathleen Ortiz:
Partial round-up

Nathan Bransford:
Series Bible

Querytracker:
Handling critiques

Rachelle Gardner:
What's in a publishing contract

Rejector:
Self-publishing credits

Story Flip:
Writing short stories

Writer Unboxed:
MFA

***
Despite my obsession with DW, my writing is actually going better than ever. I'm also considering bringing another project out of the trunk for revisions. Not something I normally do willingly.

Double-Crossed -- slowly progressing. It hit 4k this week. Raye's slightly happier with me at the moment and I know what's going to happen next, I just can't figure out how I want it to happen.

Guardian -- still at 1.3k. I didn't write on this one this week at all. I think it's going to be one of the those WiPs that I start and then put to the side for later.

Three Days -- going fantastically! I hit 15k and wrote a good 3k this week. Very good for someone that hasn't had a proper day of writing in weeks.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

New Releases: The Red Pyramid, Karma Club, Frozen Fire

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
To stop Egyptian god Set from going after their father, siblings Carter and Sadie embark on a dangerous journey across the globe--a quest which brings them ever closer to the truth about their family, and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.

[*drools* It's finally here! *bounces*]

The Karma Club by Jessica Brody
Madison Kasparkova always thought she understood how Karma works. Do good things and you'll be rewarded, do something bad and Karma will make sure you get what you deserve. But when Maddy’s boyfriend cheats on her, nothing bad comes his way. That’s why Maddy starts the Karma Club, to clean up the messes that the universe has left behind. Sometimes, though, it isn’t wise to meddle with the universe. It turns out Karma often has plans of its own.

Frozen Fire by Tim Bowler
Dusty's life has fallen apart. Her mother left after Dusty's brother mysteriously disappeared, and her father is devastated. Then Dusty gets a seemingly random phone call: a boy's voice saying, I'm dying. At first Dusty doesn't care, but then the boy says things that only Dusty knows. Things that lead her to believe he knows where her brother is. And after a few more calls, Dusty wants to find this boy, but he doesn't want to be found. He claims he is too dangerous, and there are many people who agree. Can Dusty avoid getting hurt and still protect this mysterious boy who may not be of this world?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Compromising

No Road Trip Wednesday for me today. The question of the week is what photos inspire your books. I don't actually have any photos that inspire my books so I can't really do it... Make sure you go to YA Highway and check out everyone else's book-inspiring pictures though!

So today I'm going to blog about compromising and rewards. Or maybe I was just trying to figure out how to incorporate my new obsession into a blog post without just fangirling about it. *shrugs*

My new obsession is Doctor Who, a British sci-fi television show that's been on TV for I don't know how long now.

And it is AWESOME.

What does that have to do with compromising? Well, if I want to watch Doctor Who all the time, I'm not writing. So today I came up with a compromise.

Every time my video of Doctor Who freezes, I have to pause it and write 100 words. It's a win-win situation. I have something to do while I wait for the video to catch up, and I still get writing done. So far, it's working.

This doesn't just work for Doctor Who and writing. If there's something you love that's taking away from your writing/homework/etc time, make a compromise. For every five math problems you complete, you get five minutes of internet time. Things like that. And you'll be surprised by how much you get done.

Now I have to run. I'm actually writing this post at 10:30 at night and I want to watch episode four before I go to bed. =D

Monday, May 3, 2010

10 Suggestions for Building Characters

In case anyone's curious, Super Saver won the Derby. The best placing from my four picks was sixth. No more random horse racing talk until May 15th. =D Maybe.

Also, today is Wizarding Independence Day, or the speculated date that *SPOILER WARNING* Harry killed Voldemort in Deathly Hallows. *CLOSE SPOILER WARNING* On Facebook, this event is commemorated by Harry Potter Status Day. =D

Today I wanted to talk about developing characters. Now, there's definitely more than one way to create 3-D characters. These are just a small sampling, some that I've used and some that I haven't. Everyone has their own method. You might use one of these, or mix and match a few. If you have a suggestion, feel free to share it in the comments. =)

1. Pop into my head. This is the one I use the most. Most of the time, the characters and their personalities just pop fully formed into my head. Sometimes I'll even have a character before I have a plot. If I try to force a character to do something that isn't them, they twist it around so that it is.

Example: In Jump, Hannah's pissed at her best friend, Sarah, because Sarah's dating Hannah's crush. In the scene, Sarah walks up to Hannah at her locker.

How the scene was supposed to go: Sarah would walk up, Hannah would apologize, and the two of them would become friends of a sort again.

How the scene actually went: Sarah walked up, Hannah snapped at her, slammed the locker, and walked away. I yelled at Hannah for five minutes afterward, but the scene has stayed that way ever since. I can't force Hannah to do something that she wouldn't do.

2. Character interviews. I use this one a lot too. It can be an interesting experience sitting down and just talking in a relaxed atmosphere with a character. Typing out the responses is best. You never know what they might say that could become a potential plot point.

3. Twenty questions (Or a hundred, or fifty, or however many you want). There are many character interview question sheets out there, and you can also make up your own. Or mix and match for your needs.

4. Pictures. For outward description, a lot of writers use pictures. This can also help with personality a little. Sarah's picture makes her look like an independent, outgoing girl. Randy's makes him look like a sweet, bad boy. Robbie's looks like a hot, popular guy. All of which they are.

5. Character chart. I use an Excel worksheet to keep track of minor details such as hair and eye color, basic personality information, relations, and other small tidbits so I don't have to search through the story to find them.

6. Basing characters off real people. You have to be careful with this one, but you can borrow characteristics from people and use them as the basis of characters. I know I've done this, though whether it's conscious or subconscious, I'm not sure.

7. Voice games. These are online games, sometimes on forum threads, where you can get together with other writers and have your characters interact. They take some time to keep up, but are a ton of fun. They can also be a great way to get to know other writers.

8. Write a short biography. You can do it in third or first person, but first person would help with the characters voice. Write about where they live, what they like to do, who their friends are, all the normal biography things. This is similar to a character interview, though typically shorter and without the concrete guidelines of the questions.

9. Write a stream-of-consciousness from the character's PoV. For anyone who doesn't know, stream-of-consciousness writing is kind of like journal entries. Only without structure. You just write down anything and everything that comes to mind; it doesn't even have to make sense. Doing this at different intervals of the story could be very interesting and beneficial.

10. Character scrapbooks. For more information on this one, go to Tanja Gustavsson's blog. It sounds like a really awesome character building idea. Might have to try it sometime.

Have an idea? Add it in the comments! I'd love to hear them.