Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

Thoughts lately...

1) I have a recurring nightmare that there's something growing behind my ear and I don't discover it until it's fairly large.

2) Hair smells funny.

3) I think everyone who complains about long flights or car trips should try traveling in a Conestoga.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lauren Sabel Talks Second Novels & VIVIAN DIVINE IS DEAD Giveaway

Whether you’re under contract or trying to snag another deal, you’re a professional now, with the pressures of a published novelist compounded with the still-present nagging self-doubt of the noobie. How to deal?

Today's guest is Lauren Sabel, author of VIVIAN DIVINE IS DEAD. Lauren learned to mind dig while getting her MFA in Creative Writing from Naropa, a Buddhist college in Boulder, Colorado. Before Naropa, Lauren studied film in Rome, where she developed her love of crypts and other beautiful creepy things. She also worked in the film industry in New York and San Francisco, focusing mainly on film festivals, as she can never pass up a good party. In San Francisco she worked for Chronicle Books, where she was inducted into the fascinating world of book publishing. Most recently, Lauren lived in London, where she helped plan social events for the London Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s International’s UK Branch.

Is it hard to leave behind the first novel and focus on the second?

My second novel came pouring out of me in a few months. It was like a fever. I was reading about this group of psychics who worked for the government during the Cold War, and the main character just appeared; poof! After several years of working on Vivian Divine, I was happy to move on at that point.

At what point do you start diverting your energies from promoting your debut and writing / polishing / editing your second?

I actually didn’t do much promoting of my debut. I was so caught up in writing my second book that I completely forgot my debut book was coming out. My husband organized a book release party for me, and when I showed up, I had forgotten to even choose a passage to read from the book. When I get obsessed with a writing project, it’s all I can think about – and I could only think about OUT OF MY MIND (out in 2015). I’m just now doing the promoting of VIVIAN DIVINE IS DEAD with any real seriousness. Wish me luck.

Your first book landed an agent and an editor, and hopefully some fans. Who are you writing the second one for? Them, or yourself?

Definitely for me. I wrote most of the book without showing it to anyone, so I had no idea if anyone would even like it.  But now that I’m getting a lot of positive responses to VIVIAN, I can’t wait to see what people think about OUT OF MY MIND. I think they’ll like it even more!

Is there a new balance of time management to address once you’re a professional author?

Yes. I have to learn how to wear two hats at once: I can do writer, and I can do promoter, but I have trouble doing both.  But in our current society, I need to push the book that is out in the world already into people’s attention, and, at the same time, also write the one in my head into being.  I suppose it’s like having a baby and taking care of a toddler all at once.

What did you do differently the second time around, with the perspective of a published author?

I wrote an outline and tried to follow it. I came up with a solid writing schedule, and stuck to it. I saw revision as a chance to improve the manuscript, not a criticism of how badly written it was. I almost woke up to reality, but luckily, I caught myself just in time.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Donate to Cavalcade of Authors West & Mindy Will Love You, Always

So, I mentioned last week that I'm going to be crawling into my cave to write now that winter has arrived (and boy did it arrive - I'm off school today, the big, fat, flakes are falling, and the plow hasn't even touched my road yet). One of the first things I'll be emerging from my cave for is Cavalcade of Authors West, a young writers workshop that will bring teens in touch with the writers they read.

COA West is in their first year, and they could use a boost. 17 authors - including myself - will be there to share our love of literacy and writing. If you can share the same in your own way, COA West would appreciate it - and so would I!

What is a Cavalcade of Authors?

Cavalcade of Authors is a conference for students made up of two components: 1) students reading novels from 17 featured authors, and 2) a writer's conference led by these authors to be held on May 2nd, 2015. We are collaborating with Pacific Lutheran University to present a literary/writing conference for 450 middle level and high school students in Pierce County, Washington. COA West is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Cavalcade of Authors West is in its first year, modeled after the Cavalcade of Authors established in the Tri Cities of Washington in 2009.  We want to bring the rich experience of working with authors practically one-on-one to western Washington students.

Adolescent literacy is a significant need in our community and this program promotes reading and writing skills in an engaging and unique way. The response from students, teachers, and authors has been positive and encouraging. It is our hope that the program will grow and expand to become a truly regional event that draws students from all around Pierce County.

Our five founding board members have a vast amount of teaching and literacy experience as classroom teachers and librarians. We have each contributed to a number of boards, conferences and events of various sizes and scope. Above all, we all have a passion for students, authors and literacy; this conference will allow us to combine all of those pieces to deliver a unique and meaningful experience to the students of our own community.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Saturday Slash

Meet my Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description RC Lewis and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.

We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to punch them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox.

If you're looking for query advice, but are slightly intimidated by my claws, blade, or just my rolling googly-eyes, check out the query critique boards over at AgentQueryConnect. This is where I got my start, with advice from people smarter than me. Don't be afraid to ask for help with the most critical first step of your writing journey - the query. My comments appear in green.

For N, there are rules that keep the world straight, rules to explain what’s normal, and rules of riding shotgun in Triss’ car. When you break a rule, you get thrown away, and all N wants is to stay with Triss. This is definitely interesting. I'm unsure of exactly what's going on, but intrigued enough to keep reading.

That’s far more important than a corpse in the trunk. Oh, nice. Cool.

N’s not sure which rules got broken, but six weeks ago there was a party, there was a game, and there was a bet. It was supposed to be fun. Something to kill the boredom, but people aren’t like cards or poker chips. They have baggage. They get angry. They want revenge. I'm getting a feeling here like N is autistic, or something to that effect. If that's not correct you might need to revisit. Also I have no idea if N is male or female, and maybe that is on purpose.

When Triss’ betting partner, Jackson, ends up on the wrong side of dead, the laws that hold N’s world together collapse like a wet deck of cards. When you use the term "betting partner" it makes it sound like playing cards might be something that happens a lot, like this is part of their routine, etc. If this is a one night thing that just kind of came together you might want to rephrase. Also I think it might help to clarify what game specifically they're playing, if it's something you can put a common name to, like poker.

The driver is supposed to hold all power and responsibility, but something’s off with Triss. Last night when Jackson died, she was fine. Bagging the corpse and loading it into the trunk, she was fine. But today, she’s not fine. Somewhere between her broken down car, dealing with her crazy divorced parents, and figuring out what to do with the corpse, Triss has slipped out of control.

And there are no rules for that.

Really, the body in the trunk isn’t important, but it still has to be dumped. Fast. I was definitely tracking until this line. It makes me wonder how a body in the trunk could NOT be important? Unless this is a further indication of the unreliable narrator - but honestly I think you've established that and this line feels off.

With Triss not in control, N finally has to stop riding shotgun, take the wheel, and figure out what rules will keep them safe, but more importantly, what will keep them together. Nice, I like this a LOT.

THE RULES OF RIDING SHOTGUN is a 65,000 word YA Contemporary with a non-linear timeline, similar to Justine Larbalestier’s LIAR. The quiet, complex, internal tension of the story may appeal to readers of Laurie Halse Anderson’s SPEAK.

Good comp titles. I think this is well done and highly interesting. The tweaks I mention above are just phrasing tweaks. Also I'm unsure if this is a friend relationship or possibly romantic, which again might be on purpose. Overall this is very well done.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Book Talk & Giveaway: THE ORPHAN QUEEN by Jodi Meadows & ARC Giveaway!

My book talks are coming at you from a librarian, not a reviewer. You won't find me talking about style or craft, why I think this could've been better or what worked or didn't work. I only do book talks on books I liked and want other people to know about. So if it's here I probably think it won't injure your brain if you read it.

When her kingdom fell, child Princess Wilhelmina and handful of children were saved only to pass into obscurity. A decade later the older survivors steal for food, care for the younger ones, and carry out the smallest insurrections in the hopes that one day they will be strong enough to topple their conquerers - the Indigo Kingdom.

Chance offers Will the opportunity to infiltrate the Indigo court with an assumed identity, her best friend Melanie at her side. With practice manners and hidden maps, they chip away at the stronghold of their enemy. But a growing force - Wraith, the toxic byproduct of magic use - threatens everyone, no matter what their allegiance, and Wil has to daily hide her own magical abilities in order to escape persecution.

Keeping magic a secret is not so hard until she meets Black Knife, a hooded bandit who stalks the streets at night, meting out vigilante justice. With Melanie's actions under suspicion and court manners wearing her thin, Wil finds an outlet in meeting Black Knife and working beside him in the streets at night.

But Black Knife's identity could be her undoing, and the Wraith grows ever stronger.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

Thoughts lately...

1) Why did we domesticate cats and not squirrels? Squirrels would bring us nuts.

2) We always talk about tech becoming self-aware, but I think it would be way worse if Scotch tape became self-aware.

3) I've become slightly obsessed with the idea that if FROZEN were called SHITSTORM and was actually about a girl who goes ape and throws poo at people when emotional, it could totally work.

Arendell's in deep, deep, deep, deep... shit.
The smell never bothered her anyway.
Can't hold it back anymore.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Getting Ready To Crawl Into The Cave

The Cave is beckoning me. The one that I go into when it's time to write, research, edit, or just ignore reality in general. I'm fortunate because there's a physical cave (my bedroom), but there's also one in my head that I can dive into every now and then in public and no one has any idea that I'm just not really there anymore.

Writing is a funny business, because I'd say most of the writing that I do has nothing to do with actually writing. Most of it is me taking little brain day-trips into the cave while my body keeps doing important things (like work) and my brain is like, "Hey, what if this happened? Ohh... or then this? And what about THAT?"

A lot of the real work is just me, staring into space, putting people that don't exist through things that never actually happened. Usually I end up pulling them back out and making them do it again, seeing if we get a different result the next time. These poor people. Sometimes I imagine my characters are probably like -- "Really, we got this girl? Why can't I end up in a nice rom-com?"

And the answer to that is - Mindy's cave art is not conducive to rom-coms.