Monday, March 29, 2010

The Spark (And How I Find It)

So. Rewriting. Fun, right?


Anyway, I feel like ranting a bit about my current issue. Not surprisingly, it involves my WIP (oh, how you torture me...). I have the scenes clearly outlined in my head. I know exactly how I want to write the darned thing.


The scene doesn't want to come out. It's on strike or something. Or it just likes watching me scream (like my dog...).

A blank Word document stares back at me; a pulsing cursor waits to be manipulated by my fingers. But. Nothing. Happens.

I know who's to blame, of course. The Spark. My Spark. It's gone. And it's not coming back.

Well, it is. You see, The Spark does this to me every time I get to the third act of my novel. It runs away every time things get messy. It stops the flow of words from exiting my head.

Until I do what makes The Spark warm up to me again--read another book.

Not just any book, though. It has to be a book in the same genre as the one I'm writing, otherwise The Spark refuses to come out of hiding. Reading something similar in terms of target audience inspires me, gets me fired up to write, and puts a smile on my face. Especially if the writing is great. The plot has to rock my world, too. And just like that, The Spark returns. No more screaming for me.

I'm pretty sure many writers find their Spark by reading, but this doesn't work for everyone. So tell me, what works for you? Does your Spark run and hide like mine, or is it there until the very end?

If it does, I envy you. Writing can suck out loud with inspiration, and it sucks ten times more without it. Whatever you do, my fellow writer buddie, never let it slip away.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cliches Need Not Apply

Confession time: on February 22nd, the first completed draft of my WIP got deleted.

By magic.

'Cause I still can't figure out how it disappeared.

Okay... That's a lie... It was my fault... God, I hate owning up to mistakes!!

Anyway, my clumsiness led to the death of my first draft while I was in the middle of revising it. Many tears, fistfuls of pulled hair, and shrieking later, I chose to ask myself the following question: will I be able to do it all over again?

The answer at the moment was more along the lines of how-the-hell-am-I-supposed-to-do-this?!!, but right now, it's looking like a yes. A yes that took a while to appear, but it did. A yes that almost drove me clinically insane, but it didn't. Lexie's story is shaping up to be what it was, but with far less craptastic writing (I. Hope.).

And what was the reason behind the craptastic writing?

Cliches. Lots of them.

YA stories tend to sway toward similar storylines, but there's always a twist that makes them stand out. There's always something that the other books don't have that makes one story memorable. From what I've read, Lexie's story has a couple of twins in terms of main theme. But what sets it apart is, of course, the hook (which took a while to develop, the darned thing...).

My advice for writers diving into YA waters? Avoid cliches. Young readers have been there, done that with most plots in the market, even though they still respond to them. Try to spice it up or tone it down, but in an original way. Tired of girl-meets-mysterious-boy-and-forsakes-her-dignity-to-be-with-him? Write the opposite--give your character a purpose that doesn't involve being with the cute stranger, even though she's got the hots for him. Don't relish reading about an ordinary MC who turns out to be extraordinary and needs to be shipped off to an extraordinary school? Think about ways to weave an extraordinary MC with our blah world in a way that makes the reader get lost in the narrative. There are tons of possibilities for the creative mind, so don't lose hope if things fall flat in the beginning.

And that's what I've been telling myself ever since February 22nd. Rewriting is tough, but it can be way more rewarding than that first draft. Why? Because it will be better. Hands down.

Now I'm off to write what I already wrote, but kicking way more ass than before.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Best. News. Ever!!!

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to give you breaking news:

I got accepted to grad school!!!!!!!!!!

I'm gonna get a Master's in Literature!!!!!!!!

I'm in way over my head!!!!!!

But I don't care!!!!!!!!!


Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Today I'm taking a break from opening lines and queries to give you a pretty cool link. Diana Peterfreund, author of YA novels Rampant and Tap and Gown: An Ivy League Novel, posted an interesting piece on the four-act structure for writing a novel. Peterfreund uses the story of one of her favorite movies, The Matrix, to show writers how they can break the novel into coherent sections without "sagging in the middle".

Here's the link:

So spill: are you a fan of the four-act structure vs. the three-act?

Personally, I'm torn. But I hope to find a favorite in the super near future...

Until then, I'm out celebrating!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Opening Lines... and a shout out!

First up, I would like to take a moment to thank the uber-smart and insightful Laura Diamond! Aside from having such a cool blog (and YA manuscript that I'm dying to read!), Miss Diamond kindly featured me on her Up and Coming Blogger Tuesdays. Not sure I deserve it, but don't tell her that...

Also, she posted a picture of Jensen Ackles!!! Fangirl scream!!!

Yes, I know he's engaged to someone else (a very gorgeous and talented someone else...). But still, my heart is his. The end.

Anyway, I wanted to talk a bit about something I've been meaning to discuss. Many writers stress over plot, voice, climax, yadda yadda yadda... Don't get me wrong: all of that is important. But something I really look forward to reading every time I pick up a new book is...

The opening lines.

I love them. Sometimes they decide whether I keep reading with enthusiasm or if I just read to finish what I started. Most newbie writers make the mistake of opening their book with the weather, or with a character waking up and brushing their teeth, or doing something action-packed that ends up being a dream.

Trust me, I've been that newbie writer. I am that newbie writer. *shudders from embarrassment*

So, I'm going to share some examples from the published pros I love. My goal is to feature at least ten of them.

Here's the first:

"You never think it will happen to you." --Ghostgirl, Tonya Hurley.

I don't know about you, but I'm left with a million questions right off the bat. What don't I think will ever happen to me? How does the MC feel about this thing that's supposed to happen to everybody? Is it good or bad? Does the story revolve around this mystery thing?

Needless to say, that opening line does exactly what the author wanted it to: get you to read further. It doesn't have to be mouth-hanging-open shocking to prompt you to flip through those pages. Something simple, yet vague, usually does the trick in a better way.

So there you have it, my first favorite opening line. More are still to come, peeps. Pinky swear.

Now off to write!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Song #3

Still with Playlist #1, peeps. As I've mentioned before, this collection of songs reflects Lexie (my MC) at the very beginning of the story. It's not all peaches and cream for her, to say the least. For starters, her boyfriend dumps her on her birthday. She also deals with "job related" issues, which are pretty much the reason why she gets dumped.

Double decker bummer.

Quick recap of the Playlist #1 top two songs:

1) "Someone Wake Me Up" by The Veronicas
2) "Love Is Dead" by Kerli

Aaaaaaaand the final song to round up the top three is...

"Unbeautiful" by Lesley Roy.


Confession: I bawled my eyes out when I heard this song. Super, duper sad--just like Lexie is supposed to be. She feels like she's the one to blame for the split with her bf, and starts devaluing herself to a sickening degree. This song is her anthem.

Until she meets the male antagonist.

And his playlist will be coming soon!

In the meantime, here's the link to "Unbeautiful":

Rock on!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Gretchen McNeil, YA author of the I-can't-wait-to-read-it! The Witch's Eye, is throwing a contest on her blog. She's kind enough to be offering a query critique, peeps. All you have to do is go to her blog and follow her orders.

I mean, instructions...

Sorry. I've always liked world domination.

Anyway, here's the link:

Best of luck!

Query Letter Wars Part Deux

Okay, peeps. I've discussed the importance of specificity in a query letter (thanks to the fantabulous Nathan Bransford, of course!). Now I'll tackle something bigger. Something that will definitely set you apart from every other aspiring author trying to nab that agent.

Your voice.

Many people have defined voice over the years. I'm no expert (shocking, I know. You'll get over it...). But I do know that a writer's voice needs to be authentic and true to their narrative.


Let's say your manuscript is an epic fantasy about dimwitted dwarves bent on slaying elves (not that I have anything against the dimwitted... they make me laugh...). A little bloodshed here, a bit of political undertones there, and you finish your manuscript, pumped up to go write that query letter. It should be a no brainer, but sometimes we forget that our queries should be written in the same tone as the novel. If your main character is an elf struggling to keep his chastity belt on while a gold-lovin' dwarf swoops in and steals The Hot Elf Girl by bribing her, go right ahead and make your query humorous.

Elf wants to defend his family and the forest of Urganzul from the bloodthirsty dwarves of cave Krltyk? Make that query sound as suspenseful and emotion driven as your plot.

Voice doesn't equate to describing every little detail with a bunch of adjectives, excessive use of adverbs, or snarky humor where it doesn't belong. Plain and simple, voice is how you write your story. That's what sets you apart from everyone else: sentence structure, pacing, and plot are all key elements in your novel, and should be summed up using the same tone in your query letter.

Easy, right?


I'm still working on finding my voice. Something tells me I'm not the only one, but that's what makes the writing process so thrilling. As we change, our writing style changes (hopefully for the better!). But no matter how long it takes to develop, a writer's voice will always shine through the pages, and make us fall in love with the story.

Even if the dwarf gets the girl in the end.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Query Letter Wars

As I've mentioned before, the query letter is something an aspiring author shouldn't take for granted. No matter how much you're tempted to press SEND after you write your first draft of the letter, please don't do it! Just think of your beloved manuscript: did you finish the first draft and go, "it's perrrrrfect!"?

You may have been right, but most likely, you may not.

Editing is crucial. Polishing is a must. No writer should send out anything less than uh-may-zing. But what makes a query uh-may-zing?

Sucks to say it, but there is no one answer. Several elements make a great query letter.

One of them is what Nathan Bransford (agent extraordinaire of Curtis Brown Literary Agency) blogged about earlier today: specificity. You have to explain, in the most concise way possible, who and what your story is about. You have to engage the agent's interest without giving them a laundry list of character names and events. Being brief not only shows the agent that you can sum up your novel's hook successfully, but it also sets you apart from amateurs who waste time on a slew of inconsequential details. And that, my writer friend, is kinda the point.

Want a peek at Mr. Bransford's incredibly useful (and hilarious) post?

Here's the link:

Remember: this isn't everything there is to a great query. I'll be sure to post some more helpful tips later on, pinky swear!

Have a rockin' day, peeps!

Song #2

Hello, world!

So. No writing got done today. Strangely enough, I'm not bummed about that at all (British Lit is killing me, though...). Since I can't let my laziness get the best of me, I've decided to post the top three songs of the three playlists I've created for Lexie's story.

Let's keep it going with Playlist #1, shall we? Song #1 was "Someone Wake Me Up" by The Veronicas.

Song #2 is...........

"Love Is Dead" by the amazing Kerli, an Estonian singer-songwriter you HAVE to know. Here's the link to the song that moved me to tears (can't believe I just admitted that...):

More tunes coming soon!

And hopefully, more frigging writing...

Monday, March 15, 2010


Confession: I write to music.

I revise to music.

I live to music.

Sometimes I have a hard time finding the right songs for a WIP playlist, though. The first book I ever wrote was a challenge in itself, and I never found the 'Oh-this-is-so-perfect!' playlist for it (maybe that's why IT SUCKED...). But with Lexie's story, I've been fortunate enough to make not one, but three playlists.

Let me break it down for you:

Playlist #1: Lexie's point of view at the beginning of the book

Playlist #2: Lexie after she meets the male antagonist

Playlist #3: Male antagonist's point of view

The first song I ever added to Playlist #1 was the song that inspired Lexie's story (besides my Law school buddy, of course). Which song am I babbling about?

"Someone Wake Me up" by The Veronicas.

Here's the link to the song in case you haven't heard it (shame on you!):

More songs will be coming your way, so stay tuned!

And please have a rockin' day!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010



Today I'm in the mood to talk a bit about my current work in progress. I keep saying that I'm an aspiring author, so I guess I should start proving it, right?

Here goes.

I've been writing a YA paranormal romance novel since last September. The idea came to me in February, though. Back then, I was still in Law school, struggling to keep my head above water. My friends, who are ALL brainiacs, were doing just fine in their classes. One friend in particular sparked my interest for... Um... Let's just call them "extracurricular activities"...

Okay, okay.

She was dating a boy. A douchebag, to be exact. A very annoying and rude douchebag. No need to go into details. I will only say that he broke her heart, and she felt like she would never get over him.

So I listened. I let her spill her guts out and cry on my shoulder. And as she did, Lexie was born.

Who is Lexie, you ask? She's the main character of my manuscript. Her story starts with the unexpected breakup of the love of her life. On her birthday (major ouch, right?). The "who is my MC?" aspect of the story unfolded pretty quickly: Lexie was a girl who loved her boyfriend, and thought she was destined to be with him forever.

Pretty cliche, I know. But then I stopped seeing Lexie as this girl who just loved a boy. I took a good look at my Law school friend and found what I can only describe as awesomeness: she's selfless, unpretentious, giving, open-minded, wise beyond her years, and unbelievably smart.

Also, she can throw a mean punch. Just saying.

Soon enough, I started making Lexie all the things my real friend is. The paranormal elements of her story took a while for me to figure out, but I'll get to those in another post. For now, all you need to know is that my MC is based on awesomeness. I'm not saying that I've created an awesome character, just that she's the carbon copy of someone who is. That's why I've taken my time with her and her story. I don't want to let anyone down, you know?

So there you go. My WIP is about a girl who's based on another girl who's awesome.

And that alone makes my story special. At least, to me.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Query Letter 101

Hello, there!

As you may (or may not...) know, I'm an aspiring writer. My current work in progress, which I'll discuss in greater detail later, is a YA paranormal romance. It's a far cry from being finished, but I've already taken the time to do research on something really important. Something so important that every aspiring writer should dedicate time to perfecting.

The infamous query letter.

A query letter is the first writing sample a literary agent will receive from you. It's crucial that you make it stand out (in a good way) and make it reflect not only your excellent writing skills, but your voice as well. A great query letter must sum up what your book is about without sounding like a laundry list.

Piece of cake, right?


Anyway, since I'm no expert on the subject, I've chosen to post the link to a fantastic article written by Maggie Stiefvater, who I've dubbed the Lady Awesome Supreme (can you tell I'm a fan or what?). Make sure to check it out:
I'll be posting more useful info regarding queries and other great links later on, so stay tuned! Have a rockin' day!

And good luck with those queries!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Emergency Blog Post!

So. Last night. The Oscars.

Kathryn Bigelow, who directed The Hurt Locker, won for Best Director. She is the first woman to ever win in this category, despite the fact that other talented females have been nominated (I'm looking at you, Sofia Coppola!).


That is all.

*dances all the way to kitchen*

7 Things

Don't fret! This post has nothing to do with Miley Cyrus. *wipes sweat from brow*

This is a short list of seven random things about me. Without further ado, I give you "me":

7) I'm Puerto Rican. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, I have grown accustomed to warm weather and mofongos. What are mofongos, you ask? Oh, no big deal. Just the reason why I refuse to leave my country. Sure, they make mofongos in other parts of the free world, but I'm kind of obsessed with a local restaurant about five SECONDS from my house.

Psycho, much?

Anyway, I love being Puerto Rican. I love being a Latina. I'm fluent in both Spanish and English, which puts me in the difficult position of having way too many books to read by a bazillion authors. Tough luck, huh? The best part of my day is waking up knowing that the ocean is minutes away from my house. I'm not huge on going to the beach, but something about seeing all that blue makes me giddy.

And did I mention the mofongos?

6) I have a B. A. in Psychology. I know what you're thinking... But no, I'm not big on dissecting every little thing people say or do. I don't spend my days analyzing the intricacies of human behavior. I'm not really prone to study how people interact with each other at all. And I don't-

Oh, who am I kidding?

I LOVE doing all that stuff. But do I do it all the freaking time? No. Well, maybe for research purposes (manuscript research, I mean...). My love for all things clinical led me to the psych department as soon as I finished high school. There, I learned many things. Some I will never use, others will follow me wherever I go. But mostly, I learned about myself. And that's one lesson I will never disregard.

And no, I'm not a Freud fan. There are other theorists, you know. Just saying.

5) I'm a Law school dropout. Yep. Lasted one year. Learned a lot, but didn't feel that spark. You know, that I-wanna-be-a-lawyer-forever-and-ever spark. Just wasn't for me. But I made a TON of great friends there, though. The type of friends that always stick with you no matter what. And in case things ever go south, like if I somehow happen to murder Spencer Pratt with a crowbar, my lawyer buddies will back me up and plead temporary insanity for me.

See? Law school is good for something.

4) I went to Europe at sixteen. There are two reasons why this is a big deal to me. First, I'm from a barely middle-class family who struggles with money on a daily basis. You can't even imagine the sacrifices my parents made to get me on board that damn plane for my eleventh grade school trip (which turned into a plain old tourist trip, since 90% of the students backed out ONE DAY BEFORE leaving... I'll explain myself in another post). Second, I had only traveled to Disney, the Dominican Republic, and a bunch of Virgin Islands before that. So, yeah. That trip was pretty special to me.

Which countries did I visit? France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, and Belgium.

Rock star, baby. That's what I felt like.

And I'll never forget it.

3) Movies are my kryptonite. This is entirely my dad's fault. As a child, he fed me fantasy and horror instead of Gerber. I don't hold it against him, but it's important to point fingers sometimes. It's more than an obsession, people. I literally cannot focus on anything else if there's a new movie at the cineplex. The poster calls my name, tempting me to surrender to its clutches, to lose myself in another world for two hours...

And no matter how hard I try, I can't resist the lure of films.

Thus the finger-pointing at my dad. You know who you are, sir. Deal with it.

2) And so are books. Oh, books... How I love thee?

This deserves another finger-pointing session. One of my best friends growing up introduced me to young adult fiction. At the time of her intervention, I was working on a (dearly departed) script. You see, the only stories I lived for came from the silver screen back then.

But then SHE stepped into the picture and ended my screenwriting phase.

And I love her for it.

I started writing my first manuscript when I turned 17, three years after I became a voracious reader of YA. It genuinely sucked, to say the least. I shelved it as soon as college started, and any hope of returning to it left the building.

Then it came back to bite me in the ass several months later. Ideas kept taking over when I was supposed to be learning about Freud.

Maybe that's why I don't like him very much...

Anyway, it was impossible to keep it all in my head. Soon enough, my laptop endured several sessions of use. Years later (blame my major and Law school...), I produced a novel.

Which still sucked. But I queried anyway. And got rejected.

I scrapped it again, hoping that one day I can get back to it and make it better. Much better.

Right now, I'm still reading YA and other genres like a maniac (I'll talk about my faves later on). I'm currently working on another manuscript, a YA paranormal romance. This one feels much more appropriate than my first attempt, and I'm giving it my all. Hopefully, it will be done in a few months, and I'll be ready to query again.


And last, but certainly not least...

1) I am in love with Jensen Ackles.

Nuff said.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hello, stranger...

So. First post ever.

And it feels awesome!

So awesome that I'm at a loss for words, actually. Just don't tell that to my WIP, please. It's been through enough...

And it's not even done yet.

*glares at the screen and slams head into desk ten times in a row*

Anyway, welcome to my blog! *wipes blood from forehead* I don't know if you should be happy about being here, but here you are. Deal with it. *grabs ice pack from the fridge* I'll be posting cool stuff about me soon, so-

Wait... IS there anything cool about me?

Um... *stares blankly at the screen*

Oh, crap almighty... *slams bleeding forehead into desk*

So, yeah... *presses ice pack even harder* I'll come up with some cool things to write soon, even if they're all made up... (I write stuff, so I'm allowed!).

I'm just taking this moment to thank you for giving me a chance. This blog will chronicle my absurd progression into adulthood (like that's gonna happen...), the development of my manuscript (good luck with that...), and anything else that happens to strike my fancy (I feel sorry for you already). With that said, thanks for stopping by, and I'll check you later, stranger!

*lets head fall on top of desk and passes out*