Thursday, October 28, 2010
I know you're waiting on the next live chat. As I'm finishing up UNDISTURBED, the days have been sneaking up on me.
But we're back in action next week and I hope you'll be able to attend. I don't have a topic at the moment so suggestions are welcome.
Monday, October 25, 2010
My writing process began with locking myself in my apartment with no television, phone, or internet. At the time, I thought eliminating every possible distraction would help me focus on the monumental task of completing my first novel. What I learned was that life as a writer is a lonely one, and that husbands look at you crazy when you tell them your characters are talking to you. Earlier this year I reconnected my router and began my search for an online writers community that shared my passion for YA and stories beyond sweet sixteen’s, and senior year.
I happened upon Writer's Digest Community: YA/Crossover, Writers of YA with MC's that were 18 and beyond. WheI I joined there were only 20 members or so, but the group was so welcoming and supportive that quickly felt at home.
The greatest thing about YA crossover is that there are writers of every level from pre-published to published adult authors now writing for YA. We beta read, page critique, share articles, share agent advice, and celebrate each other's accomplishments. Even today, as our group has exceeded 100 members we are still just as supportive as ever.
If you are a writer looking for a real community to join, I urge you to check out YA/Crossover.
Check out what some of our other members have to say about YA/Crossover:
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Are you ready?
Wait for it…
Wait for it.
It’s Florence + The Machine
(I know it was in the blog title, but humor me)
I’ve got to tell you, I haven’t been this in love with an album since The Fray, no Coldplay, no Jay-Z, WAIT! I take that back. NOTHING AND I DO MEAN NOTHING is bigger than Jay-Z, but Florence + The Machine are a close second. Sorry Paramore you held on to the spot as long as you could.
Okay so what I love about Florence + The Machine is that every song on BETWEEN TWO LUNGS is like a journey that transports you to a world of percussion and rhythm that changes the pattern of your heart beat. It’s like hopping on a rollercoaster without leaving you desk. (Okay I know I’m taking it to 10, it’s not Alice in Wonderland, but if there were a musical representation this would be it.)
Their “Heavy in your Arm” On the Eclipse sound track was just the edge and energy I needed to write Amazon Queen’s.Check out this video and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Space is still limited to 10 participants (Until I have a reason to expand.) So spots are first come, first served.
So here's what you need to know
Logging on to Live Chat: Feel free to log on as guest. You can type over the assigned name with your own.
Should we exceed the chatting limit, you can still participate via twitter using the hashtag #livechat1 (And if you don't know what a hashtag is, because I totally didn't a month ago, you add #livechat1 after your tweet and it's sort of like a filter you can click on after you tweet and follow all the messages.)
Hopefully this is all the house keeping needed. I look forward to chatting with you all.
And again if anyone has live chat topic suggestions or would like to host a sessions please leave a comment or shoot me an email.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
How many of us have read a Novel, Query, or Synopsis and thought 'It seems so simple, surely I could do that.'? So you sit down at your computer, put your fingers to the keys and start the journey to writing that perfect novel, query, and/or synopsis. Somewhere along the way your chest tightens, you feel like your head’s going to explode from the pressure and your shoulders are tense enough to crack granite. Every word you type turns into a landmine of crap that crumbles into a mass grave of broken letters.
What went wrong?
You put the weight of your world on those letters, turning your simple joy of writing into to a bomb detonation exercise.
“It has to be perfect.” “Every word has to count.”
“It has to be appealing.” “I have to hook my reader.”
Ever heard of the phrase KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID, or the less offensive, KEEP IT SHORT & SIMPLE.
Dial down the pressure a bit. I know how important it is to write perfectly and present your best work, but all the stress and pressure does is strain your ability to do so. Yes, you will rewrite your query 30+ times and your novel will see dozens of revisions. Chances are the sentence that sent you into a panic attack yesterday, will be completely re-written or deleted by the end of the month.
I know this is a lot easier said than done. I still get a migraine anytime I look at my query folder, but here’s a little something that’s been helping me depressurize my writing.
Queries: Janet Reid offered the most helpful tip which is so simple it makes me feel remedial WHAT’S YOUR STORY ABOUT? (IN 100 WORDS) I think it’s true that a good story sells itself, and that’s not to say if you can't answer this question in 100 words that your story isn’t. Taking out all those amazing events that warm your heart, piss you off, or make you cry, what is the story about? Start with a sentence.
Examples from one of my works in progress
Soul Stones - A fifteen year old cutter, who is forced to share her body with the soul of a deity.
Then expand on it. Who is the MC? What’s their original problem? (Keep in mind this isn’t your major problem that the story revolves around. It’s more like when you’re driving and your check engine light comes on. At that moment your problem is getting your car home or to a shop. Your major problem is what caused the light to come on.)
Fifteen-year-old Becca Moreno’s days of hiding her self-inflicted cuts are over when during a rave, Rachel, a powerful deity on the run, is forced to enter Becca’s body . Three days later Becca wakes to learn she isn’t the only missing teen, just the only one with a commanding voice in her head.
There’s two MC’s, we know their names, we know their individual problems, and how they came to be in this situation. And we’ve still got 46 words left.
Next is what’s the problems (notice the s on the end. Our MC’s always have multiple problems, one bomb dropping after another.)
Becca’s wants answers that Rachel refuses to give her, but first the two must work together to save a group of teens being targeted by the same deities Rachel's hiding from. Further complicating their unruly union, a misplaced soul leaves them attracted to two different guys.
And last the lead in. (Never give them ending away, but suggest something to com.)
Matters of the heart may be something they could work out, but the secret Rachel’s hiding could destroy them all.
Word total: 112 (Okay, so I went over a little bit, but I’ve included all the points I needed to make for query. It’s far from being agent ready, but it’s a foundation to build and reshape and the best part is it wasn’t painful.)
Whether it’s enticing or has enough of a hook is for a reader to decide, my only goal is to answer the question: What’s my story about?
Synopsis: (Caveat: I am not as experienced with synopsis. I am working on my first at the moment.) Chuck Sambuchino had a great article on the essential parts of a synopsis that I found to be helpful and I’ve included links to a few others:
What I know of Synopses for sure, is that it’s a summary of the events in your novel, boiling it down to a cliff notes version that still has to be as entertaining as the novel itself.
The point of it all is for editors/publishers to know that your story contains a plot, sub-plots, conflict, and resolution. It's another stress inducing part of writing, but a necessary one.
My plan for my synopsis is to write a sentence for each chapter and combine them all to create a summary and from there I’ll have a foundation to mold into a synopsis. I’ll let you know how that works out.
Novels: Without it, none of the preceding matters. So how do you get from the opening hook to the end?
By keeping it simple, by knowing that the rough draft is supposed to be crap, and by just getting the chronological events and dialogue out of your head and onto the page before your head explodes. By all means misspell, forget periods, use whatever font looks pretty to you. Why? because it’s your draft and your only goal is to get to the finish line. I work on my novels one chapter at a time. Focusing only on what I can do today. If you keep your head down and your hands on the keys, eventually you’ll reach the end and what a great day that will be. Crap and all, a finished novel is something to truly celebrate.
My last point is about Time. I’m guilty of setting unrealistic expectations for my writing. Every novel won’t be finished in three months. In fact, Donald Maass says a breakout novel can take years. How many sequels have we read to great novels that felt rushed and under developed? Don’t do this to your story for the sake of time. Write as often as you can, but also let your imagination unfold those unforgettable moments that are worth the time they take come to you.
Writing takes time, dedication, and a great deal of creativity. You’re going to get stressed, discouraged, and depressed, but try to remember to K.I.S.S.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
The genre of Young Adult is meant for the reader’s ages of 12-18, and I always find it so interesting that most of the YA out today appeal to reader’s well past their 60's. I'm a self proclaimed YA addict and not just because it's the genre I write. There is something about YA, maybe it is the fact that I'm one of those eternal kids, who still watches cartoons and a good stroll down the toy aisle, but I don't think that’s all there is to the draw YA has for so many adults. You can't deny that today's YA isn't the same as 10 years ago (The Baby Sitters Club).
Why is that?
My theory is that YA is more mature and complex, because it’s reflected in today's teens. So who is the new 12-18 year olds and what are they like? I think knowing the answer to this could help any YA author write stories that not only appeal to, but depict real teens and their journey into adulthood.
Teens, in general, lead double lives.
There’s the depiction of innocence they play for their parents. You know the nice respectable kid doing homework at the kitchen table, but how many of us were that angelic behind closed doors or outside the house?
I cannot speak for everyone, but my own grade school experience was far from Disney. School, outside the classroom was its own society, maybe not as popular crowds and school bullies as television depicts, but there was a social order, and the worst part, social suicide. There were the have’s, the have not’s, hook ups, break ups, rumors, jealousy, and envy. This was before YouTube, cyber bullying, and sexts.
So what must today’s teens face in a 24 hour connected society, where your worst moments can be shared with the entire student population with a click of a button and live in cyberspace long after you’re gone? Pretty much the same thing, only in a more public arena. As they say there are no new stories, well there are no new dramas, just different ways of spinning it. What it does lend to YA today is higher stakes. It’s no longer melodramatic to feel like your life is over from one mistake at a party or note that fell into the wrong hands.
I think the most important thing to remember when tackling any subject is how you a ‘behind closed doors teen’ would react, rather than the one sitting in your classroom or at your kitchen table. One thing for sure, it makes for a hell of a drama.
I just love Pretty Little Liars!
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Please join in this coming week for a discussion exploring who it is that we're writing for.
Young Adults 12-18.
And how we can use our own pasts to write for today's teens.