Friday, August 28, 2009

Infected

Hey, remember the other day how I was trying to distract myself? Yeah, remind me never to hope for distraction ever again--EVER.

I started feeling horrible the night before last and spent yesterday at the doctor's office. Apparently, I managed to get an inner and outer ear infection, a sinus infection, and it is spreading down my throat.

I feel like death.

...but, I'm barely thinking about my queries and submissions. ;) What have you all been up to this week?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Distractions

So, today is an update and a distraction.

First - the update: I've had two requests since I posted yesterday. Both from awesome agencies. *squeals*

Second - the distraction: I got a hilarious e-mail that I HAVE to post because I was laughing so hard when I read it that I actually snorted... and I'm not a snorter.

Random Thoughts of the Day:
~ I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.

~More often than not, when someone is telling me a story all I can think about is that I can't wait for them to finish so that I can tell my own story that's not only better, but also more directly involves me.

~ Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

~ I don't understand the purpose of the line, "I don't need to drink to have fun." Great, no one does. But why start a fire with flint and sticks when they've invented the lighter?

~ I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

~The letters T and G are very close to each other on a keyboard. This recently became all too apparent to me, and consequently I will never be ending a work email with the phrase "Regards" again.

~ There is a great need for a sarcasm font.

~ How the heck are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

~ I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.

~ I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

~ The only time I look forward to a red light is when I'm trying to finish a text.

~ I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

~ Answering the same letter three times or more in a row on a Scantrontest is absolutely petrifying.

~ Whenever someone says "I'm not book smart, but I'm street smart", all I hear is "I'm not real smart, but I'm imaginary smart".

~ How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear what they said?

~ I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars teams up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers!

~ Every time I have to spell a word over the phone using 'as in' examples, I will undoubtedly draw a blank and sound like a complete idiot. Today I had to spell my boss's last name to an attorney and said "Yes that's Gas as in...(10 second lapse)..ummm....Goonies"

~ What would happen if I hired two private investigators to follow eachother?

~ While driving yesterday I saw a banana peel in the road and instinctively swerved to avoid it...thanks Mario Kart.

~ MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

~ Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

~ Bad decisions make good stories.

~ If Carmen San Diego and Waldo ever got together, their offspring would probably just be completely invisible.

~ Can we all just agree to ignore Blu-Rays or whatever else comes after DVDs? I don't want to have to restart my collection.

~ There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.

~ I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.

~ "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this ever.

~ While watching the Olympics, I find myself cheering equally for China and USA. No, I am not of Chinese descent, but I am fairly certain that when Chinese athletes don't win, they are executed.

~ I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

~ Why is a school zone 20 mph? That seems like the optimal cruising speed for pedophiles...

~ Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is..

~ Even if I knew your social security number, I wouldn't know what to do with it.

~ A little boy asked me in the car the other day "Dad what would happen if you ran over a ninja?" How the heck do I respond to that?

~ I wonder if cops ever get ticked at the fact that everyone they drive behind obeys the speed limit.

~ Was learning cursive really necessary?

~ LOL has gone from meaning, "laugh out loud" to "I have nothing else to say."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Race Is On!

Or maybe it's the waiting... the waiting is on.

Yes, folks, that's right--I started querying this weekend. Most I sent out yesterday, but I did a few of my favorites agents that I've built relationships with on friday.

I can't decide whether I want to pull my hair out or jump for joy. Finally, Oracle is ready. Finally I can feel REALLY good about sending it out.

Now, I just need someone to request it.................

In order to distract myself during this time of intense discomfort, I am going to provide you with the lyrics of an old song that jumped into my head when I saw the above picture. It is clever. It is fun. It is country. (What? I told you my tastes were eclectic)

Let's see if I can remember it.

The Race Is On by Sawyer Brown

Chorus:
Now the race is on
and here comes pride in the backstretch
Heartaches goin' to the inside
My tears are holdin' back
They're tryin' not to fall
My hearts out of the runnin'
True love's scratched for another's sake
The race is on and it looks like heartaches
and the winner loses all

Okay, that's all I can remember... but it is such a fun song (the lyrics are quite misleading). It makes me want to dance. Let me see if I can find the video and we can have a blog dance party to distract me! :P



Okay... wow. I guess I forgot this was from the 80's. I love their outfits though, a couple of those outfits look like the lead singer raided MC Hammer's wardrobe. Hehe... anyway, time to dance! :D

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

One Reason I Love Ice Cream

I like variety. I love having a different thing every time I go to a restaurant. My DVD collection includes everything from SpongeBob and Mary Poppins to The Sixth Sense and What Lies Beneath. My MP3 player proudly lists songs by Def Leppard, Barenaked Ladies, Nickelback and Buckcherry alongside songs by Neil Diamond, Fergie, Paramore and Andrea Bocelli. And yes, I also have country, rap and heavy metal.

I don't like to be tied down to one particular area. I rebel against everyone's insistance that I MUST get steak when at a steak house. I literally have NEVER had a favorite flavor of ice cream. There are too many wonderful options. Why force me to narrow it to just one? What kind of cruel injustice is that? (Stick with me, we're almost to the point.)

This is why I love writing YA. It is the big, comfy, genre melting pot. This is a place where I can feel completely comfortable throwing a vampire, an alien, a cyborg and a zombie in the same book. I can have it all. I don't have to choose, and I don't want to.

I love the unique and fascinating ideas this environment invites. I love hearing about fellow writers who have crazy good ideas and don't have to worry about what genre it will fit into.

So out with catagories, I say!

Give me your robot, your werewolf,
Your huddled fairies yearning to fly free.
The rotting mummies of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, genre-rejected to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden keyboard.

Yes, I'm tired and there is every chance my brain was replaced by fluffy cellulose this weekend--want to make something of it?

Now, PLAY BALL!


Monday, August 17, 2009

In Case You Were Wondering...

(For the purposes of this post, please be aware, cellulose = insulation. NO, I didn't know that before this weekend. YES, I am going green, I don't care if you think it's trendy.Now, back to our program.)

In case you were wondering, I didn't fall off the face of the Earth, or go fishing. I am currently in my attic--buried in cellulose.

This is not my favorite place to be.

There is no cause for alarm. I have several reasons to be certain I will make it through this.

1 - Cellulose must be edible, because I haven't died yet.

2 - I was able to chew through a stray internet wire and by rigging it to the fillings in my teeth I am able to get rudimentary versions of my e-mails printed on my brain. Convenient? yes. Comfortable? no.

3 - My next door neighbor kindly plays music in his jeep loud enough that it rattles my windows and I can, as they say, "Get jiggy wid' it." (Don't knock it. Until you've seen a woman covered in cellulose dancing--you haven't lived.)

4 - One corner of my roof is leaking, by carefully placing my head against the wall--in between two rusty nails, of course--I am able to get a little water. It tastes like tar, but it's wet.

5 - I am confident this time alone will give me plenty of time to brainstorm and outline my next 12 novels. When I get out of here (after MANY showers) I'm going to burn that keyboard up!

6 - I'm reasonably sure that this will get me an agent. Why? Who doesn't want to represent a writer who is handy, charismatic (HEY! No laughing! I am totally enjoying my own company!) and could go on Survivor?

Until I make it out, feel free to comment.

Oh, and pray for rain.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

An Exercise in Creativity

So, today... I decided to do something fun and see if I could find some actors/actresses that look like my characters in my head (from Oracle). It was SO fun! I thought I'd share them on here and see what you guys think of my choices.

I even ended up finding a song that fit each of their characters too. Seriously, I'm so in their heads right now. I am going to do some crazy editing and writing as soon as I finish this post.


This first one is actress Sarah Bolger. Who looks so much like Lexi it scares me. Isn't she so cute?

For those of you that don't know, Lexi is a 16-year-old telekinetic--and she hates it. She's funny, sarcastic and vulnerable--she hates that too.




This is Paramore's music video for "That's What You Get." This is freaky on multiple levels. First, because the couple in the video look like the two actors I picked for Lexi and Cam... Second, because it is so Lexi's attitude. :) Enjoy!





Now, on to Cam. As you can see, Cam is...yummy.












He's my 17-year-old bad boy. He can't run from his past and even though Lexi makes him want things to be different, he's not sure they can be.




Meet Kevin Zeger, I've never seen him before today, but I'm telling you... he is Cam. The second I saw the picture above I flipped. He's exactly what I have in my head.













This is the song that reminds me of Cam. Nickelback's "Savin' Me"
Not only do I LOVE it... but it's the freakin' coolest music video I've ever seen. I could seriously write an entire series just on the idea in that 5 minute video. The things he keeps seeing above people's heads are numbers counting down. Check it out! :)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Strange Characters


I started reading a book about building believable characters. It's really interesting. It goes into a lot of detail about how you should know your characters as well as you know yourself.


I thought it would be a fun exercise to name some weird facts about ourselves that others might not know. Just to make the point of exactly how well we know ourselves.


In the comments--put in at least one thing that isn't commonly known about you. Here are a few of mine.


~ I was fifteen when I got my first kiss--and then I got 12 in one night. A wacky friend lined up every guy at my birthday party and he pinned my arms and walked me down the line. I was too shocked to respond at the time-- but he got an earful the next day.


~ I was pulled over 8 times before I ever got a ticket--this all happened before I turned 17. Did I mention that I'm kind of a speed demon?


~ I never had to study in school, everything came easy to me--but I often planned study parties with my friends, because I knew they needed to study and I wanted to feel normal.


~ I once received an invitation to a high school dance via a toilet seat that was left on the floor of my room.


~ I was very shy when I was younger and by the time I went to high school I felt pinned in by that stereotype. So, I convinced my mom to let me change schools so I could get a fresh start. When I graduated I was known as one of the most outgoing girls in school.


~ I have one of the craziest car accident stories ever. (ask Kasie West)


~ My sister is one of those people whose lives should be made into a book or movie--but I'm pretty sure she'd kill me if I did.


~ My mom is a ridiculously strong woman--but also one of the funniest people I've ever met. When I was a teenager she used to tell all my friends stories about how she had a magical gorilla toe that made all the men want her.... no, I'm not kidding.


Enough about me, what about you? What are your strange facts? Do you think you could fill out a similar sheet about your protagonist?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Evolution of a Query Letter

One of the most difficult things writers have to face is the dreaded query letter. Most hate it--some have nightmares over it. Whatever your response is, take deep breaths and try to avoid the straight jacket. Take my advice, it is not comfy.

I thought I might show you a progression of one of my query letters. You can see both the evolution of the story and the query through these.

Draft #1

Nine-year-old LEXI PARKER watched her best friend’s expression change from laughter to terror in under a second. Jo’s deafening screams tore through the small room. She backed away until she was cornered, then her fingers and hands scraped the walls around her, looking for a way out. Lexi’s best friend, her only friend, was desperate to escape her.

When Lexi witnessed the reaction her telekinetic abilities incited in her closest friend, she vowed never to let anyone else know about her so-called talent. Six years later, this fifteen-year-old has alienated herself from potential friends and even her family in her desperation to keep it a secret.

When a random thunderstorm transports her to another world, Lexi finds that abilities like hers are anything but obscure. After all this time, she must learn to accept herself as she is, not as the freak she believes herself to be.

This new world, SOLARA, is embroiled in an endless war. As they hover on the brink of defeat, they request Lexi’s help to find others like her on Earth to help strengthen their ranks. In exchange for her assistance they offer to train her and let her stay with them in the first place she has ever felt normal.

As they near the completion of their task, the man who killed her parents, METUS, returns to hunt her down and finish his assignment to murder her family. Lexi must assist her new friends in finishing their quest before Metus can find them. For every darkness, there is light, and at the end of the day she will finally discover just how unique she is.

ORACLE is a completed 75,000 word young adult urban science fiction. It is set primarily in a small town in Arizona. I have outlined four more novels to follow this one in a series, but it also has the ability to stand alone.

Yes, that's right... you read nine-years-old and YA in the same query letter... now you've officially seen it all.

Draft #2

When fifteen-year-old, Lexi Parker witnessed the horrified reaction her telekinetic abilities incited in her closest friend, she vowed never to let anyone else in ORACLE know about her so-called talent. She has alienated herself from potential friends and even her family in her desperation to keep her secret.

When a random desert thunderstorm transports her to another world, Lexi finds that abilities like hers are anything but obscure. After all this time, she must learn to accept herself as she is, not as the freak she believes herself to be.

This new world, Solara, is embroiled in an endless war with the Munin. As they hover on the brink of defeat, they request Lexi’s help to find others like her on Earth to help strengthen their ranks. In exchange for her assistance they offer to train her and let her stay with them in the first place she has ever felt normal.

As they near the completion of their task, the man who killed Lexi’s parents, Metus, returns to hunt her down and finish his assignment to murder her family. He is a Munin, enemy of the Solarians. Lexi must assist her new friends in finishing their quest before Metus can find them. For every darkness, there is light, and at the end of the day she will finally discover just how unique she is.

ORACLE is a completed 75,000 word young adult urban science fiction. It is set primarily in the small town in Arizona. I have outlined four more novels to follow this one in a series, but it also has the ability to stand alone.

Not bad, but it could still use some tightening and more voice. It garnered one request.

Draft #3

I understand that you’re interested in young adult fiction. I’d like you to consider ORACLE, my young adult novel with a science fiction twist. This story is science fiction for people who don’t necessarily like science fiction—it is extremely character driven. In marketing terms—visualize X-Men meets Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

Lexi Parker is telekinetic, and she hates it. Now, if only that was her worst problem.

Nope, that would be too simple for this fifteen-year-old. When a random desert thunderstorm sends Lexi to the world of Solara, she realizes her abilities aren’t so rare and freakish after all. Her power comes in a distant second on the weirdness scale compared to her experiences in this strange and beautiful world, such as:

~ Explaining that she isn’t a spy to a council of aliens
~ Watching her new friend pack a bag the same way Mary Poppins does
~ Drying her hands on a mini hurricane that invades her bathroom

She makes a deal with the Solarians—if they help her get home, she will help them find others with abilities like hers on Earth. After all this, Lexi is more than happy for life to get back to “normal”—then again, normal has never been Lexi’s strong suit. She never imagined what awaited her back in Oracle, Arizona would be far worse than anything she’d seen on Solara.

~ Getting knocked to the ground by a flying ottoman
~ Breaking a boy out of jail
~ Seeing lifeless eyes looking out from a friend’s face

All that—and she still can’t beat her sister at a game of Cups.

Maybe Lexi should’ve just stayed in Solara—but, it’s too late now. She must quickly learn to accept her own abilities and figure out how to use them. If she doesn’t, the powerful murderer stalking her will insure that no one on Earth who develops these powers will ever survive again.

Still not perfect, but it was good enough to receive 8 requests. And, yes, I queried too early. It wasn't ready yet.

Draft 4

Lexi Porter is sixteen-years-old, she’s telekinetic, and she hates it. Now, if only that was her worst problem. When a random desert thunderstorm sends her and a teenage escaped convict, Cam, to the world of Solara, life gets much more complicated.

Her powers come in a distant second on the weirdness scale compared to her experiences in this strange world. To start, she doesn’t appreciate having her worst memories displayed on the wall like a freakin’ movie, or explaining that she isn’t a spy to a council of aliens. But hey, at least they left a mini hurricane in her bathroom so she had something to dry her hands.

Maybe it isn’t all bad. At least her abilities aren’t as rare and freakish as she’d always thought.

She makes a deal with the Solarians—if they help her get home, she’ll help them find others with similar abilities on Earth. She’s even willing to put up with Cam. He might drive her nuts, but at least he’s fun to look at.

Lexi never imagined what awaited her back in Oracle, Arizona would be far worse than anything on Solara. But when she sees lifeless eyes in the face of a friend, she must decide what she’s willing to fight for.

Maybe she should’ve just stayed in Solara—it’s too late now. She must quickly learn to embrace her own abilities and figure out how to use them. If she doesn’t, the powerful murderer stalking her will insure that no one on Earth who develops these powers will ever live to use them.

I understand that you’re interested in young adult fiction. I’d like you to consider ORACLE, my young adult novel with a science fiction twist. It is complete at 66,000 words.

This time it evolved because my story changed. I did several massive rewrites and needed to change my query to match it. This one has too much going on and doesn't focus enough on the love interest that I added.

Draft #5

Lexi Porter is sixteen-years-old, she’s telekinetic, and she hates it. Now, if only that was her worst problem. When a random desert thunderstorm sends her and a teenage escaped convict, Cam, to the world of Solara, life gets much more complicated.

Her powers come in a distant second on the weirdness scale compared to her experiences in this strange world. To start, she doesn’t appreciate having her worst memories displayed on the wall like a freakin’ movie, or explaining that she isn’t a spy to a council of aliens. But hey, at least they left a mini hurricane in her bathroom so she had something to dry her hands.

On top of all that, Cam seems determined to drive her nuts. Lexi knows he isn’t what he seems. He’s full of contradictions and impossible to understand. As far as she’s seen, Cam only has one redeeming quality—he’s fun to look at. (fixed per AmandaJ, thanks! )

So, her abilities aren’t as rare and freakish as she’d always thought. Maybe it isn’t all bad—at least that’s what she thinks until the Solarians tell her that anyone like her on Earth is in danger. They offer to train Lexi, but she must quickly learn to embrace her own abilities and figure out how to use them. If she doesn’t, the powerful murderer stalking her kind will insure that no one on Earth who develops these powers will ever live to use them.

I understand that you’re interested in young adult fiction. I’d like you to consider ORACLE, my young adult novel with a science fiction twist. It is complete at 66,000 words.

This is my most recent version. I still don't think it's perfect... I will probably do some fine tuning before I send it out. What do you think? Does this help you guys at all? Someone told me that it might be useful to post these and I know I always love seeing what other writers do with their query letters. By the way, if you read all the way down here... you get a cookie. :)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Taking a Personal Day

I tend to focus on writing and don't generally get into too many "personal" things on my blog. Today, I read an agent's blog that absolutely touched my soul--in order to explain why, I have to tell you a little more about myself. If I hear snoring in the back... I'll be terribly put out. :P

I have two wonderful children, and each has been incredibly difficult to get. I've suffered through years of infertility, miscarriages, toxemia and premature birth. If it weren't for medical miracles, I'd be childless.

Almost two years ago, my husband and I decided to try for one more. This is my second marriage, and we don't have any biological children together. It was something we really wanted to share, but it was a difficult decision. After my last was born, my doctor told me that he didn't recommend that I have any more children. I nearly suffered a stroke and the baby was delivered 7 weeks early. He is fine and healthy now, but it was a difficult time.

We've been trying for two years and have had no success. Again there are drugs and more drugs that are supposed to be helping--but to no avail. We've gotten that beloved + on a pregnancy test once, but it ended in miscarriage shortly after.

We're now in a tough spot. The doctor is ready to wash her hands of us. She told us that she wants to refer us for In-Vitro and she said we may just want to consider adoption.

It's a hard place to be. Adoption, surrogacy, In-Vitro... they are all so expensive. We're lucky enough to have two children and we are coming to terms with the fact that this may have to be it. We are incredibly lucky to have them, we just really felt there was supposed to be another...

It is because of these experiences that I am in awe of Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency.

How wonderful that there are people like her in the world. I feel lucky, as a writer, to know there are agents around with such big hearts.

If you get a chance, pop on over to Kristin Nelson's blog and give Sara the recognition she deserves. It is the selfless acts of courage like this one, that still make this world an incredible place to be.

From the heart of a mother, Thank you Sara.