Sep 30, 2012

The Next Big Thing

So I mentioned last week how stuck I was on my latest WIP. Thanks to Adam Heine, this week I can focus on the completed WIP-I-love-that's-with-betas.

What is your working title of your book?

Where did the idea come from for the book?
From a newspaper story about a woman killed by wolves in a Alaskan village. She was the first death ever recorded by wolves in Alaska (contrary to Hollywood) and there was such mystery around  her death, I thought the wolves were the perfect cover for a murder.

What genre does your book fall under?
YA mystery

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
No idea.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When Tabby's sister is killed and authorities say wolves did it, Tabby knows this is a lie; after more people die, Tabby decides to follow the clues to the Iditarod trail's end, where a killer is waiting.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Hopefully represented by my agent.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? May we see an intro?
Three months.

On the last morning of her life, Lara Holt woke right at dawn. It was barely past 7:30, and this late in October, just getting light. Two wind storms had packed icy dirt to a pavement sheen, so Lara hooked a pair of rubber ice studs over the soles of her running shoes.
Micah whined when Lara tucked her pony tail under a thermal knit hat.
“Okay, okay,” she muttered, bending to scratch the border collie’s head. “You get to come. But no messing around. If I call, you come immediately, right? Or no more runs for you.”
Micah yipped, his chocolate eyes laughing at her while his hind end wiggled so it almost knocked over the coffee table.  Lara put on some gloves and patted her pockets – iPod, check. Emergency leash, check. Extra pair of gloves, check. Cell phone, check. Bear spray, check.
Not that she’d seen a bear lately. They’d been in hibernation for a weeks but as the light faded, there was the occasional procrastinator. A winter bear was fat, slow and sleepy.  Lara was pretty sure she could outrun one.
          Wolves were another matter

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I'd say it's a cross between Gary Paulsen's survival YA stories and Dana Stabenow's Alaska mystery series.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
When I wrote for the Anchorage Daily News, I did several stories on dog mushing - including following a Jr.Iditarod musher and a profile on the world's only government employed dog musher in Denali National Park - and a series on the fur business in Alaska, including trapping. I'm fascinated by the people who run the Iditarod and jumped at the chance to combine all three interests into one great story.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
 As anyone who follows this blog has noticed, I'm firmly in the cat-person camp, but this is a story for anyone who loves canines, self-sufficient heroines and the Alaskan wilderness.

Since almost everyone has already been tagged, I'm cheating a bit and including them even if they've already posted:
Amy Sonnichsen
Emily King
Jolene Perry
Ilima Todd
Krista Van Dolzer 

Rules of The Next Big Thing:

*Use this format for your post
*Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
*Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

What is your working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? May we see an intro?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

Sep 27, 2012

Friday funnies - Sept. 28

Sad to say, I fall in the pessimist camp most of the time.

And my favorite video of the week (because I'm a band nerd at heart):

Have a great weekend!

Sep 23, 2012

STUCK and writer's block

So this WIP I'm working kicking my butt. I got to 65K and realized I was about to step off the plot map and start wandering in the woods.  I don't like the woods. They scare me - pointless, scrambling in the dark with no end in sight. The most recent chapter has me teetering, rewriting, revisiting where this story must end.

And part of my problem is the ending is hard. My poor MC doesn't get everything her heart desires. All her sacrificing, self-denial and sheer hard work doesn't get her THE dream. She must decide whether her desire is worth everything she has...and then some. That even if she doesn't grab that brass ring, the journey will still have been worth it. (And no, she's not a writer. *grin*)

On the one hand: more sacrifice, more training, more loneliness and stress but with the hope that she'll someday make her dreams come true.
On the other hand: a re-entry into normal life with friends and family around her. Sometimes it takes more strength to let go than to keep on a road blocked with dead-ends.

I have no idea which she'll choose. Which means that, while the plot arc is resolved, there's no happy-resolution-ending.  I'm stuck. And it's driving me crazy. Some would say I'm suffering writer's block.

But I don't think so. All the possibilities - and my own inadequacies as a writer - are just choking me right now. My brain craves space and distance...neither of which I'm able to get on a daily basis. I've decided I need to walk away from this WIP for a while due to several factors.

The school year is in full swing. My mind is filled with my students - how to reach them, how to teach them, how to give them what they need in the classroom every day. Right now it feels like all my creativity is leaking onto lesson plans. There's very little space in my head left for my invisible minions.

What do you do when you're stuck? What are some ways you block reality to get "in the zone"?

Sep 20, 2012

Friday funnies - Sept. 21

Definitive proof that good parents, RAP!


And even more definitive proof that cats are better than dogs. Oh, it is to laugh...

Got introvert?
Have a great weekend!



Sep 16, 2012

Writing that matters

pub. date: Nov. 12
This weekend, I dove into a stupendous ARC called ENDANGERED, by Eliot Schrefer. It's about a young woman who...well, here's the blurb:

The Congo is a dangerous place, even for people who are trying to do good.
When one girl has to follow her mother to her sancuary for bonobos, she's not thrilled to be there. It's her mother's passion, and she'd rather have nothing to do with it. But when revolution breaks out and their sanctuary is attacked, she must rescue the bonobos and hide in the jungle. Together, they will fight to keep safe, to eat, and to survive.

I LOVED this book. Not just because Eliot's writing is fantabulous but the setting is so rich, so different from my daily life and the lives of most Americans. The conflict is rooted in reality. It stands out in a YA field full of fantasy-drenched, royal-chosen-one MCs, wizards-that-rule-badly with zero basis in reality.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy those flashy debuts with the jewel tone covers. Books like that make me think of blown glass Christmas ornaments, all snazzy and sparkly and glittery. They beckon me to indulge in a world entirely of a talented author's making.

But they're not real. And while it's great to escape occasionally, I don't want to escape all the time. There are plenty of amazing, gut-wrenching stories happening right outside my door. Stories of redemption and love, of hatred and betrayal, of faith and perseverance. Stories based in reality that inspire us - and our readers - to pay more attention, become educated, get involved where we can.

  • Katie Davis was eighteen years old  when she visited Uganda for the first time. Shocked by the devastation caused by AIDS, she started an orphanage. She's adopted thirteen (13!) daughters. And she wrote a book called Kisses from Katie. She did all this before she turned 22.
  • Four years ago, a group of middle school girls banded together to create One is Greater than None. Inspired by an Oprah show about Ghanese kids being sold for $20, they made it their goal to sponsor, provide medical supplies and raise awareness of this tragedy.
  • Winter Vinecki was nine when her dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. She launched a noprofit to help her raise money for prostate research, eventually netting more than $100,000. Her dad died; she continues to use social media to attract athletes to Team Winter by competing in triathlons and races. Last year, athletes on her team raised $250,000.
  • The family who lives with the threat of polycystic kidney disease, which is so embedded in their DNA, their ancestry is studded with early deaths. A genetic test can either free them, or signal a life complicated by medical issues.

As writers, it should be part of our mission to tell stories like these because they've got all the elements of great fiction: tension, conflict, life-or-death choices, character development. I'm challenging myself to use what tiny talent I have to construct more than fairy tales. To seek out the truth. To write stories that impact and reflect the real world.

Have a great week.

Sep 13, 2012

Friday funnies - Sept. 14

I took this quiz...and I'm a speed reader!

And my favorite this week:

Have a great weekend!

Sep 10, 2012

STRENGTH cover reveal!

Carrie Butler's fab new cover for her debut, STRENGTH, a NA paranormal romance that's out March 7 from Sapphire Star Publishing, is revealed today.


*pulls curtain away*

Short Synopsis:
When college student Rena Collins finds herself nose-to-chest with the campus outcast, she’s stunned. Wallace Blake is everything she’s ever wanted in a man—except he can’t touch her. His uncontrollable strength, a so-called gift from his bloodline,makes every interaction dangerous. And with a secret, supernatural war brewing among his kind, there’s no time to work it out. To keep Wallace in her life, Rena will have to risk a whole lot more than her heart.

Stop by Carrie's blog and tell her congrats!

Sep 9, 2012

When it's time to move on

I was going to title this post: When It's Time to Cut Your Losses but in this writing life, I don't think there really are any losses. Call me an optimist but I believe that, when it comes to pursuing a passion or a talent or even a career, nothing is wasted.

We learn from every experience. Good or bad. And if you're lucky enough to be a writer (or a quilter!), you can use everything eventually.

Some of you may have noticed that my agent has changed recently. Unlike the first time I signed, I haven't posted a huge hullabaloo of yahoo. For many writers, switching agents is viewed a bit like getting a divorce. The second signing is like the second wedding -  the bride wearing a business suit instead of a white gown, only family present. However, this analogy doesn't quite hold true because in this case, the business suit is actually more applicable. The agent-author relationship IS a business one. It isn't until death-do-you-part. Break-ups happen all the time.

But why, you ask, did you and your former agent end your relationship?

One word: incompatibility. Our working styles, our expectations, our method of communicating,  didn't mesh. Fortunately, we both figured it out at the same time. And we parted with lots of cyber hugs, promises to stay in touch when good things happen, and best wishes...because she is a great agent and a wonderful person. I am a very lucky girl to have worked with her.

And I am beyond thrilled to have Andrea Somberg at my back. She is uber-experienced, has the reputation of being one of the nicest agents in the business, and her clients cannot say enough good things about her. I am a very lucky girl to be working with her.

This experience has made me think of several emails I've received recently from writers who aren't getting any query love for their current MS. They've peddled it for months. They've rewritten it forty-zillion times. They enter contests, plead for betas, read writing books. And still: nothing. I love this book so much! they write to me.  How do I know when it's time to give it up?

The publishing journey is such an individual path, it's different for every person. I gave up querying a novel after only three months. It took only eight months for me to figure out it wasn't working with my previous agent. While I just said that nothing is ever wasted, the one exception to that principle is: TIME.

So in order to help those of you pondering the great "rewrite-or-move-on" question, here are several very general signals that indicate it might be time to move on:

1. If your request rate is really low - like 1-3 percent.
2. The market is saturated with concepts like yours.
3. When entering contests, commentors are more critical than admiring.
4. This is your very first ever completed MS.
5. You just want to "get it out there!" The intricacies of all those editing expectations are more frustrating than freeing.*
6. You really believe you've made your MS the best it can be.*

*If #5 and #6 are true for you, self-publishing may be the way to go.

What time-to-move-on signals have you experienced that I missed? Share them in the comments!

 Have a great week.

Sep 7, 2012

Fact or fiction winners...or who is the best liar!!

Aaaannnd, Emily and I are back after frantically calculating who voted what when and if it counted or they changed their vote or didn't comment at all on the story but on something else entirely.

By the time I finished, I looked a bit like this:
Source: The Cat Woman

However, we came to a consensus and I'm delighted to announce our winners.

They are:

For the fiction package (offered by moi) for fooling the most with her fiction: Queendsheena! You get to pick any of the books listed on the YA Fall Reads post here.

Runner up: Kela! I'm offering a three chapter OR query/250-word critique. If you don't need anything critiqued right now, pass it on to a friend or save it for when you do.

Ladies, contact me at rewrighter (at) gmail (dot) com.

For the fact prize package offered by Emily for fooling the most with her fact: Kim!!
Runner up: Tara!
Drop by Emily's blog to get her contact details.

Thanks for playing everyone. Have a great weekend!

Sep 6, 2012

Fact or fiction REVEAL!

If you stopped by for Friday Funnies, they'll be back next week...

Welcome back, my lovelies! It's Friday, which means today's the day everyone rips away the curtain, bares their innermost soul and tells the truth. WOOT!

In other words, you discover if your guesses were correct...or if you were duped.

Emily and I will be counting up votes and announcing winners later tonight (Friday). Every person the storyteller fooled is a vote in their favor. Fool enough into thinking your fiction is fact, and you win a list of prizes here. Fool the most into thinking your nonfiction is fact, and here's what you win.

Runners up get a critique package from either Emily or myself.

Now...drumroll, please....

FACT: The Tale of Casey Crazy Cat
FICTION: The Buffalo Chip Blooper (which really IS all true except for the poop-in-the-face event. ;)

Thanks to everyone who played. I hope you had fun and found some new blogs to follow. Stop back by later today to find out if YOU won!

Sep 4, 2012

Fact or Fiction? Post #2

To recap: this is the second post of our hop, in which writers post two favorite summer stories and you must vote on which one is fact, and which one fiction. Go here to read Monday's post...and then decide which is which in the comments!

Do hop around to other blogs on the linky list to vote! Winners get super-cool prizes like books and critiques. WOOT!

The tale of Casey Crazy-Cat

Once upon a time, we had a cat named Casey. He was larger than most small(ish) dogs, loved to drink water straight out of a tap, adored my oldest son and had a thing for sitting in cars. He also had horrible allergies and had to wear a cone on his head at various times, for various reasons. It was a BIG, dog-sized cone because he was soooo big.

Anyway, back to his car-sitting habits. One time he went to the airport with a van full of relatives visiting for Christmas. Other times he ran errands with me because he'd hopped into an open car window and sat in the back seat, sunning himself. By the time we noticed he was there, we were always too far from home to turn around.
Casey, the best cat in the whole world
One summer Wednesday, I left to pick up my son from youth group at church. As I pulled out of the garage, I heard a vague screeching noise. Thought it was my seat - bounced experimentally at the stop sign when I heard the screeching again. Huh. Kept going to the highway, where I turned and again...screeching noise. Very weird. Not my seat. Had to slow way down to 30 mph bc the guy in front of me was going really really slowly and staring at me in his rearview mirror. Jerk. Three miles later, took the turn off into town and heard the screeching noise again. Very long, very high...thump! In my rearview mirror I saw...

THE HINDLEGS OF CASEY. He'd ridden on the TOP OF MY CAR all the way from the house. With his hood on!!!!!!!! When I braked to turn, he slid almost entirely off the back of my car. (The screeching noise?  All of his claws fully extended, trying to hang on to the roof.) Only the back windshield wiper saved him from getting flung into the ditch.

No wonder that guy in the car ahead of me was staring. o.O I never laughed/cried so hard in my life. I was so relieved he hadn't been killed/amazed he made it that far...wearing a hood!

Apparently, others have had the same experience:

Only in this video, they weren't going 35 mph. Or wearing a gigantic hood over their heads.

So...true or false?? Vote in the comments!!

Sep 2, 2012

What I Did Last Summer: Fact or Fiction bloghop

(If you're here for #GUTGAA, scroll down or click here.)

Welcome to this fact-or-fiction bloghop, hosted by the lovely Emily King and me! To recap: the point of this hop is to read two stories posted by each participant and decide which one is true, and which one is false.

The stories must be under 500 words and about something that happened one summer - it doesn't have to be this summer. I've put my first one below (the second one goes up Wed.)...and even though Emily and I aren't participating for prizes (which are posted here for the fiction winner, and here for the fact winner), it'll be fun to see who(m) I fooled!

So vote "fact" or "fiction" in the comments for my story, then hop around the others' blogs and vote for real. I can't wait to see what the rest of you have come up with. *evil cackle* Since most of us write fiction, I'm hoping to spot some whoppers! not the candy kind...although I do take bribes...

The buffalo-chip blooper
When I was growing up, my family spent summers at Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota because my dad was a park ranger. Each year, the ranger families put together a festival that featured all kinds of silly games, costumes (I went as a mosquito one year), scavenger hunts and - this being park-ranger-land - a huge campfire at night where we all roasted s'mores and sang songs like "Ghost Riders in the Sky."
A buffalo chip, prior to throwing
        The most favorite of all silly games was a buffalo chip throwing contest. For weeks, rangers would collect the huge patties of buffalo poop and set them out to dry. They turned into these flat, Frisbee-like wedges of dung that were surprisingly light. Then we'd all fling them across a field to see who could throw the farthest.
My job the year I was nine was to measure. So after the poop landed, I'd take the end of a tape measurer and call the number to the score keeper. Only one time, I didn't move far enough out of the way and a contestant threw his chip right at my head. I was, of course, dancing around in my mosquito costume completely oblivious to the buffalo sh** coming at me...until it hit me smack in the face. And the chip wasn't completely dried. It had a liquified center - a bit like a jelly donut - that smashed right into my nose. Also, my mouth was open.
So....fact or fiction??  Tell me your vote in the comments...then go forth to the others on the linky and do likewise.  

GUTGAA meet-and-greet

Hi all!! It's a busy day on this blog: in addition to the GUTGAAM&G, I'm co-hosting a What I Did Last Summer Fact or Fiction blog...wherein the participants post a summer story (actually two of them, one today, one later this week) and you must figure out whether it's fact or fiction. The writer who fools the most wins prizes! Yay! So if you have a minute, pop over here and give your opinion on a few stories on the linky list.

Questions for the Meet and Greet

-Where do you write?

Theoretically, in my lovely office. Realistically, on the couch in the family room. Sometimes on my bed if the family is really noisy.

-Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?

 Wood floor with a nice rug.

-Favorite time to write?

Early morning after the kids are gone. These days, I get 1 hour to write before work.

-Drink of choice while writing?

Chai tea, although it's hard to hold a mug while typing. Also, I worry about spills so I don't generally drink anything while writing.

-When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?

Silence is preferred, but my husband will tell you I can block out pretty much anything. (I've had lots of practice. Thank you, loud children and spouse.)

-What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?

My WIP is about a treasure hunt based on a real-life guy who searched for a Spanish galleon for 16 years. I wanted to write about Caribbean diving and discovered this story while doing research.

-What's your most valuable writing tip?
Know where you're going before you stop writing each day. Become disciplined enough to write a certain amount - whatever that is - each day you can write. (Okay, that's two tips but they're both valuable!!)