Monday, September 26, 2011

Two Agents + One-Line Pitch Critique Contest = Reel YA!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Today's post is going to be a short one.


Because I'm over at Reel YA celebrating its first contest! 


And guess what? TWO literary agents will be critiquing one-line pitches. And guess what else? Their commentaries will be posted on the blog! So everyone can soak in their awesome advice! 

*shimmies again*

Okay. Enough shimmying.

Head over to Reel YA for official contest rules and details

Best of luck to all who enter!

One-Line Pitch Critique Contest Starts NOW!!

Welcome to Reel YA's first contest, everyone! 

You know how movies have loglines? Those one sentences that sum up what the movie's about? Whether you read them on a poster, or after hitting INFO on your TV remote, loglines help audiences know if the movie will be up their alley or not. Well, one-line pitches do the same thing for agents. 

That's why I decided to throw a One-Line Pitch Critique Contest! 

Here are the official rules:

1) You must be a follower to enter.

2) Leave a comment with your email address in this post.

3) There will be two winners, both chosen via You don't have to write your one-line pitch in the comments. If you're one of the winners, I will email you to ask for your pitch, which I will then send to one of the agent judges. 

4) The contest ends on Monday, October 3rd. Winners will be announced on Tuesday, October 4th. After the agent judges have read and critiqued the winning pitches, their critiques will be posted on the blog. This is so followers can read the critiques and apply the agents' advice to their one-line pitches.

5) The pitches must be for projects in genres the agent judges represent (read below for agent profiles!).

6) Both agents may or may not request more pages from their winners. 

And now for the agent judges!

Weronika Janczuk is a literary agent with Lynn Franklin Associates. Previously she worked with the D4EO Literary Agency and the Bent Agency, as well as at Flux, among others. Currently she represents a wide range of fiction and non-fiction for YA and adults alike—and is very actively building her list, especially  in areas of crime fiction (especially espionage and literary suspense/thrillers), fantasy/sci-fi, horror, women’s fiction and romance, both literary and high-concept YA, memoir, and narrative non-fiction.

Sarah LaPolla began at Curtis Brown in 2008, working with Dave Barbor and Peter Ginsberg. Sarah is interested in literary fiction, narrative nonfiction, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, science fiction, literary horror, and young adult fiction. She loves complex characters, coming-of-age stories, and strong narrators. Sarah graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Writing and English, and went on to receive her MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. 

You have one week to polish those pitches for Weronika and Sarah, folks! Get to it!

And good luck!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Blog Chain: 3 Slow Starts That Are SO Worth It

Yep. It's blog chain time again!

For this chain, the uber-awesome Shaun wants us to answer this:

What are three books you would tell people that they need to keep reading even if they aren't immediately sucked in by the first page?

It took me a while to come up with my options, to be honest. Many openings appeal to me, but of course, there are exceptions (weather is a big no-no, for example...). So here are my picks for books with slow starts that are worth reading:

1) THE GIRL WHO COULD FLY by Victoria Forester.
This MG is un-be-lie-va-ble. Funny, charming, super sad yet hopeful. But since I felt like the beginning was all voice/backstory and no action, I read it veeeeeery slowly. MG isn't my forte, so I attributed my lack of interest at first to the fact that I read primarily YA. Then Forester introduces readers to the top secret government facility for "gifted" kids, where Piper McCloud, the main character, is sent to study and hone her power of flying. Piper's voice, the variety of awesome characters, and the insanely evil obstacles (both physical and emotional) Piper faces are what kept me pushing through. 

2) WARM BODIES by Isaac Marion
Yes, this is a best-selling YA zombie novel. Yes, I was excited to read it. The first line even hooked me: "I am dead, but it's not so bad." Even so, this book wasn't what I expected. It's not a zombie slaughterfest. It has a lot of interiority. Don't get me wrong--R, the main character (who's a zombie with no recollection of his past), is a joy to read about. And the writing is top-notch. BUT again, I like my fiction voice-y and action-filled. Things pick up when R meets his love interest, but it does go slow for a while again. The romance is so, so, so sweet. Too sweet, I think. I was rooting for R to reach his goal and all, but I wanted him to be more proactive. By the final page, though, I couldn't stop marveling at how wonderful the story is.

3) THE NAME OF THE ROSE by Umberto Eco
I adore thriller/mystery films. Books? Haven't had much experience with them. This one by Eco, though, happens to be one of my faves. Despite that fact, I couldn't get through it when I read it during my sophomore year in college. First of all, it's a detective novel. The detective isn't really a detective, but a monk. He sets out to uncover the truth behind seven weird deaths at an abbey. And there are a lot of clues. Sounds promising, right? Well, when I first read it, I was overwhelmed with heavy world-building and references to Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and world mythology. The mystery unfolds at a painfully slow pace. It's almost torture to find yourself uncovering one clue, then three others pop up. But the ending makes the wait SO worth it. I swear.

So there you have them, folks. My three picks for books you should read, but beware: they start a little slow.

Don't forget to check out Abby's post, and go see what Sandra says tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Kenny-From-South-Park Syndrome

Confession: I love South Park.

I don't watch it as often as I'd like, but oh, do I love South Park

Most importantly, I love its characters. My all-time fave is, hands down, Cartman. He is vile and cruel and just plain wrong, but I can't imagine my life without him. At all.

I also love someone else, though. Someone who doesn't get a lot of respect on the show. Or a lot of say.

Kenny McCormick.

He's the dude with the orange hoodie. The dude who dies in almost every episode. 

The dude no one can hear 'cause of his zipped up hoodie. 

His words come out like a weird, baboon-ish cry for help. To viewers, what Kenny's saying is hard to decode. But Kenny's friends have no problem figuring it out.

Of course, here comes the writing analogy.

Kenny's friends--Stan and Kyle and Cartman--are like critique partners. Whenever Kenny can't quite get his message across, they pull it out of him and make everyone else understand, too. Think about it: don't you consider yourself to be writing with a weird, baboon-ish voice in certain scenes? That nobody can get your point?

That's the Kenny-From-South-Park Syndrome.

And its cure is awesome critique partners.

Now tell me: have you suffered from Kenny-From-South-Park Syndrome lately? Do your crit partners keep you afloat during that baboon-ish phase?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Awesome Writing Tip From Betty White

So. Betty White.

What more is there to say?

Well, if you watched the Emmy Awards Pre-show last night, like I totally did, you have something extra to add about Betty White. You see, during an interview, she was asked how she's managed to make this point in her career the highest, most memorable one.

And she said, "I just don't go away."

By not going away, or giving up, or bemoaning her failures, Betty's guaranteed an unforeseen success for herself. It's all about the attitude, folks. Of course you're going to have sucky writing days. I've have quite a few this past week. And guess what? There are much more to come.

But the next time I want to go away or give up or bemoan my failures, I'll whip out this pic:

And that's all I need to keep pushing on :)

Now tell me: what do you do when you're down in the writing dumps? 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Movie Review: FRIGHT NIGHT

Official logline: 
A teenager suspects that his neighbor is a vampire. 

My review
This remake of the 1985 film is fun. I haven't seen the original version, but many fans tell me it's much, much better. Even so, I appreciated several things about the remake, one of them being the protagonist. Charley Brewster (played by the talented Anton Yelchin) is a geek-gone-cool. He's ditched his childhood friends to hang out with a couple of stoners, and has begun dating one of the popular girls in school. Charley spends a lot of time trying to be someone he's not--a lover of all things videogames, graphic novels, and vampire lore.

Enter Jerry, the vampire neighbor (a.k.a. Colin Farrell). To be honest, I never thought Colin Farrell could scare me. Ever. But the bastard did it. He plays a manipulative ticking time bomb so, so well. He's not overtly aggressive, though, and his calmness comes off as much more eerie to me. You just know there's something messed up waiting to lash out. But what I loved most was how Jerry forces Charley to face two things: 1) who he really is; 2) his fear of confrontation

Whether you're burned out on vampires or not, I suggest watching this flick. If only for Charley's character development. And the brilliant dialogue. 

Have you seen the Fright Night remake? What about the original version? 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Reel YA: Where YA Books And Teen Movies Rule

So. I love YA fiction. But you all know that.

I also love movies. But you all know that, too.

What you may not know is that I decided to mash up these two loves. 

And that, my friends, is Reel YA

This new blog is dedicated to the books and movies that celebrate young adulthood best. Not just according to me, though. According to awesome people like YA authors, bloggers, and random folks I pick off the streets.

Okay. That last one? Not so much.

BUT Reel YA is what I like to call a party. One I'd love to invite all of you to. 

I'll be sharing guest posts, interviews, book/movie reviews, and the latest news on everything YA.  Today I kick things off with the first post of Vampire Week! And stay tuned for this Thursday, when Reel YA's first guest post takes on the bloodsuckers!

Now tell me: have you read any awesome YA books lately? I need recommendations!! 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Read For Relief Auction!

When I was asked by the lovely Caroline Tung Richmond to join a relief effort for victims of Hurricane Irene, I jumped at the chance. Caroline and a few other awesome writers put together Read For Relief, an auction that kicks off today. You can win all sorts of great stuff, including signed ARCs, query critiques by agents, partial critiques by editors, and group critiques by YA Highway!

Me and the ladies of Operation Awesome are also offering a group critique--we'll be giving feedback to the first 30 pages of the winning manuscript! 

So yeah. You SO want to go to Read For Relief right now, and start bidding! 

See you there! :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fess Up Friday: Bravery In Writing

Most days, I am a wimp. There's no benefit to denying that.

Whether it's in writing or real life, I get scared a lot. That doesn't mean I don't take chances, but I spend A LOT of time thinking about whether I should take them or not.

Then there are those other days.

Writing isn't an escape for me. It's part of my reality. But sitting down to write can sometimes scare the crapballs out of me. For example, right now, my WIP feels complicated. Like it's too much for me to handle because of the genre. Two things keep me going: 1) my love of the premise; 2) knowing that when I finish the manuscript, I'll be a much better writer than before

So yeah. It pays to be awesome.

*puts on Ninja outfit*

*flips the bird at laptop*


Now fess up: is something scaring the crapballs out of you? How do you push through that fear?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Confessions From An Edit-As-I-Go Convert

So. First drafts.

I used to never edit as I go. I wrote the whole thing as sucktastic as possible, then fixed it during edits.

Not anymore.

Well, I'll still do edits after Draft #1, BUT maybe they won't be as substantial. Maybe, just maybe, my WIP's level of sucktasticness will be considerably less. 


Because I've converted to the Edit-As-I-Go approach.

 Image found here.

This new story I'm working on? It's torturing me... in a good way. I can't stop thinking about it. Whenever I reach my writing goal of the day, I want to keep going. That has only happened once (with a WIP that's currently simmering as a second-ish draft). Since I really, really, really love this freakin' story, I want to treat as nicely as possible. That means I'm taking things s-l-o-w-l-y. 

And I'm whipping out my Internal Editor.

I already blogged about the IE's benefits, but I've never actually relied on it during first drafts. This time, though, I came up with a system: 1) write 2-3 chapters a week (did I mention I'm going s-l-o-w?); 2) edit those 2-3 chapters on weekends; 3) rinse, repeat. It'll probably take me a billion years to finish Draft #1, but I think it'll be worth it. My plan is to spend Christmas holidays revising like a madwoman, so I have a few months left to work on Draft #1. *sigh*

This WIP might not go anywhere publishing wise, but OMG, it's so fun to write. You know how long it's been since I've had fun writing?

Too long. 

I'm glad I'm back in the game :)

Now tell me: do you let your Internal Editor out during first drafts? If so, any tips you'd like to share with this newbie?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Blog Chain: A Dark And Stormy Night... Sort Of

Yep. I'm at it again this week, folks. Another blog chain post!

This time, the super fab Christine asks us to join her in a writing prompt:

Since we are all writers, I thought it was about time for us to stretch our creative muscles and do a little writing. So, take the following topic and go crazy! Show us what you've got. Your story can be as long or as short as you choice.

The topic: A dark and stormy night.

For this post, I've chosen an excerpt from my YA paranormal romance (which is now shelved, but I still heart it! I've been thinking about changing the genre and premise, but keeping the characters. *ponders*). It's a brief (barely edited) scene, and it ends in a cliffhanger-ish moment, so I apologize in advance!

Le excerpt:  

The gravestones glimmered as raindrops polished the marble. My hands throbbed from climbing over the cemetery gates, which were locked due to the late midnight hour.
One day ended while another begun.
Shuddering, I walked deeper into the graveyard, a shower of rain engulfing me in the cruelest degree of cold. If I didn’t hurry, chances were I’d have to swim through a swamp.
I found the spot where Vincent summoned Morgana, convincing myself to look away from the headstones and up at the sky. All I could see were small white dots on a black velvet mantel--it seemed like every star in the universe had come to witness this.
Guessed they were all subscribed to Gossip Girl: The Galaxy Edition.
Focus, I told myself, just focus.
Closing my eyes, I beckoned my body to relax underneath the downpour.
Which didn’t work. I shivered from the cold and the wave of nerves crashing over me.
I pushed back Vincent’s face. I erased the memories of my family, of the sun-kissed island I used to call home, of the friends I’d made and lost.
Balthazar’s instructions rang loud and clear: just Call to her wherever Vincent summons her. And then, you wait.
“Morgana,” I said as loudly as my voice would allow, “vindicatum meus animus!"
“Morgana!” I yelled, eyes pressed shut. “I'll do it, okay? Come down here and take it already!”
The sky rumbled, a symphony of doom above me.
My nostrils detected a strong scent overpowering that of the damp earth.
Opening my eyes, I searched for the pale horse among the clouds.
The flaming pet galloped to the ground, magically untouched by the rain falling around it.
Morgana rode on top of him, onyx hair whipping in the wind.

That's it! Hope it's not too sucktastic. :)

Go check out Abby's post from yesterday, and make sure to head over to Sandra's blog for her post tomorrow! 

Now tell me: any dark and stormy nights in your WIP?