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Monday, February 21, 2011

Covers that Rocked!!!

I am all about the covers and I decided to dedicate today to the awesome covers that are out there in the YA section. Thses are the covers I picked up when I was buying books and I have to say that the artists did an amazing job!

So check out these great novels. Also an update...
If you don't already follow the YA Lit Six. Follow them. They are YA (like myself) that write YA. Their blog is great and they have great advice as well as a sweet contest that is now on. Don't we all love contests? I know I do. I actually won once from Freckle Head. Woot! So here is your chance to win some amazing prizes and even a copy of "Rain" signed by the author. The prizes are...

First prize: A signed copy of Rain by our very own Kieryn Nicolas, a custom header/button combo made by the lovely Katie from KD Designs (who made our gorgeous blog button) and a full manuscript critique from all of us.

Second and third prizes: A custom blog button from Katie (see how awesome she is?), and a critique of your first chapter by all of us.

Check them out and follow. Happy Writing.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Love Struck...

February. The month of love. In that case, happy Valentine's day. So many great love stories come from great novels and scripts. Think about love struck Romeo and his love. Probably the greatest love story of all time. Yes, I have read the play. Nearly every single novel I read and every single movie I watched had "Love" in them. Perhaps it is because love it the one emotion that we all endure through life. Perhaps it is because people enjoy love, or perhaps it is because it is a feeling we all understand. Whether it be parental love or romantic love.

The main thing when weaving romantic tension between two characters is that it needs to be believable. I can't emphasize that enough. If it isn't believable the tension is simply not there and the reader won't care. Nearly every fantasy has a romance, whether it be a triangle or a classic weave, but it is the way that it is told in the back story that makes it "great." The way the characters interact and the way that descriptive words are used.

Another important aspect in weaving love into your novel is having like able characters. Both of them or three of them. Many stories are based highly on love despite having a different genre. So, who knows. Maybe your novel will be the next best love tale.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Absolute Write February Blog Chain

I tend to heart blog chains when they come. I love to see the very different opinions on one subject and for this time we will be seeing different characters. Yay! Sweet. Oh, did I mention we are talking antagonists? Even better. I'm currently on the publishing road with my YA Fantasy novel, so I don't want to disclose too much now, but I will be discussing my antagonist for my new adult fantasy. So there is two parts to this chain and these are...

Part one: Describe the antagonist in your novel in 50 words or less.

"Escalanto is a dark man. Not even a man, more a ruler that is sinned to the point where he can no longer be trapped within the limits of a human body by the gods. When he rips away, he will take everything, along with the power that earth holds."

Part two: What would you say to your antagonist if you met him or her in real life? Post a scene in response to this question in 100 words or less.

Me: "Why did they ban you to human form?"

Escalanto: Glares at me and says in his raspy voice, "Give it a wild guess."

Me: Shrugs.

Escalanto: Laughs. "Why don't you let me show you."

He reaches his hand out to me. I feel the chill of his hand, the bitterness of his gaze and I take a step back.

Sweet! He is quite a dark fellow, yet he has a big story behind him and this novel is really an idea I am super excited about. Read all the other awesome entries on AW and comment :)

Proach: direct link to my post

Steam&Ink: direct link to her post
AuburnAssassin: direct link to her post
dolores haze:
xcomplex: MEEEE
Ralph Pines:
Orion mk3:
Forbidden Snowflake:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

E-books, Small Presses, Agents, Penguins, Oh My!

There are so many ways to get published, despite the dam difficulty of getting an agent or an editor to take a peak at your work. You can self publish, you can query, you can search for an agent, but sometimes life leads you on a completely different path than you might imagine.

Fortunately and of course the horrid unfortunately there are many pros and cons to options that I have gathered and tried.

E Books:
  • Cheaper for audience to purchase.
  • Kindles are popular now!
  • It's easier to get your novel in the attention of an e-publisher than it is to get an agent. Trust me.
  • You can self publish an e-book.
  • You can spread the word, for you don't have a marketing team.
  • Didn't you always dream to see your book with a hard cover? Even a paper cover?
  • Low costs. If you self publish, you will be earning quite badly unless it goes viral.
  • No marketing. Even if you have a publisher for e-books the marketing vs. traditional publisher is not comparable.
  • Rights. You lose your rights for a limited amount of time. (This depends on the contract). 
Small Press: 
  • Well, your book is published at the least. Small presses may be easier to target. Easier to communicate with.
  • Personal attention.
  • You never know when a press may grow. Hey, you could be targeting a future corporation.
  • Positive attitude. I noticed that the smaller presses I contacted were very friendly.
  • Distribution.
  • Channels of sale.
  • Marketing Ability.
  • Design force (That's your cover).
  • Worldwide publishing connections.
  • Chance to bring attention to your novel with large publishers.
  • Knowledge.
  • Care. If you found a good agent, they will care about your work and perfect it by your side.
  • They take a percentage of your advance etc. That doesn't bother me, but...if it bothers you...
  • Not all agents succeed.
  • Not all agents have the right connections.
So when you query, you make the choice. Many authors go with what flows, if you know what I' am saying. Whoever accepts you is not always the right way to go. Personally, I have had success with agents (yet I AM unagented) and I stopped querying after a larger press requested revisions. So when you query who do you target? Oh, and for the penguins...Penguin books were just recently accepting submissions. I am not sure if it is still up, but you can go and check that out.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

VOICE - Getting the hang of it

It was very recently, that I took a lot of note to voice. I even started paying attention to how I speak to others, how others speak, how they act, in order to bring out the best of my characters. The most real. But that's off topic. That's dialogue. Voice is a tricky subject. Every author has a voice, yet it is something that is developed over time. We each carry our own unique personalities. I can guarantee you that no one is the same as every one. No one has the same voice. In a novel, voice is the core, its the grip factor. Sometimes voice makes you pick up a novel and sometimes voice makes you put a novel down. The major issue with voice it that you have to find it. You have to release it.

Voice is the way your writing sounds upon paper, the way your writing sounds when you read it aloud. It makes your writing different, unique (make sure that's in a good way). When I read something by one of my favorite writers, I often have the feeling that no one else could have written it. In most good writing, the individuality of the writer comes through. When we sense this individuality, we’re picking up on the writer’s voice. Voice is the way your character experiences the plot of the story. It's the way he/she sees the setting and feels the emotion. My main advice, to find your writers voice is to write and write. When I started out I didn't know voice. Hell, I didn't know what a query was. Just a couple months ago, my writing suddenly shifted. I started writing and everything began coming our differently. I compared. I could SEE the difference. Of course, I hurried and began to rewrite my novel with voice for the publisher that's still awaiting. I had to. I got addicted to my new voice. I can't actually say new, because the later was more just simple telling. There was no spark to it, no sophistication. Voice may be something you can't really describe in a simple post, for it may takes years to find your hidden voice, but it is something you shall search for. It's worth finding your true voice in the end. Trust me.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

So, what if an agent finds your blog?

So, What if an AGENT locates your blogity blog???
This post is actually inspired by a question that was asked on absolute write.

Agents are people. I can say that a million times over, they are no different than us. Some authors have that strange thought of agents being query reading machines. They search and they represent what they personally enjoy. They are people, yet they are busy people who don't want to waste time searching each person who queries them. So if you've queried them and were rejected, they probably never searched you up. When an agent is interested, that's a different story. They may search up your name to try to better know you before they make the call. They just may land on your blog and they just may be reading the very words we write. But in what measure does that affect representation? Well, if your blog is written horribly and your grammar is terrible, I’m not so sure they would decline the offer. Maybe, they would talk to you and talk and wonder. Maybe they would reconsider.

In a way, I started my blog, knowing that its such a fun thing to do. Also, I wanted to be out there when I query, so the agent knows that I am here for the long run. Personally, I may have some grammar mistakes (hurried), but I feel that a blog is a great way to be a part of all the amazing writers out there and show the agent you query that you are really out there and that you are really committed. Of course, it has to be a working blog to show that. Claps to you all for keeping up such great blogs which I love to read! Keep it up and you never know, an agent just may find you accidentally. Speaking of that, did you know I actually connected with an agent through a forum and got a request?


Monday, February 7, 2011

Celebrity Authors

This may be a off my usual posts, but this is something I wanted to talk about. Just recently, I was shopping for books online for my sister and I noticed that Hillary Duff released a novel. Nope, it wasn't non fiction like Justin Biebers biography (lol, him writing a biography at that age is pretty far fetched even if he is famous) it was an actual paranormal novel. Then, a couple day's later I see another celebrity "Snookie" that wrote a novel and its fiction. I didn't know who Snookie was, but still...She is a celebrity. I assume there are plenty more of famous people that wrote books, but I noticed there were some very angry writers on forums that felt this quite unfair. Me, personally, I don't know if I find it unfair. Publishers know that the audience already knows these people, so they will buy the books. The books will make money. This doesn't mean that publishers and agents still don't accept great manuscripts from unknown authors. In fact this are completely the opposite.

At the very same time, when I used the look inside feature for Snooki's book, I couldn't imagine how it got published. It's not horrible, but it is extremely shallow and cliché. When I looked at Duff's novel, she wasn't the only author. That made me wonder, if she wrote the book herself. No, don't get me wrong. If I was a celebrity I would still probably write my novel and want it published. So when you put yourself in their shoes it's more eye opening. This doesn't stop us from being published and certainly, nothing stops us from taking the spotlight in our own lives. Go for it!


Friday, February 4, 2011

Write that novel: The Flesh

So yesterday I talked about the skeleton of a novel and today I figured it would be quite relevant to discuss the FLESH. So, once you have the skeleton of your novel complete, next comes the flesh. That's the juicy part. That is the characterization, the detail, the subplot, the setting and of course the theme.

Let's start with characterization...This is the method used to develop your character. The first thing I do is I come up with the characters motto, idea and setting. What are these characters for? What will they do? To me, coming up with characters comes naturally. The second thing is the name. This is an important part. When picking a name, your character has to match it. It has to resonate with him/ her in order to resonate with the readers. Of course you might also add a few quirks and want to make the character's name memorable and unique. When the name is developed, think of appearance. How do they look? In order to paint a great picture of your character for the reader, you firstly need to know exactly how they look. Then you go to the meat of the character. They have to have personality, values, their personal goals and hates. That's the fun part!

Detail is what makes a novel a novel when it comes to finishing touches. Think of tiny things that create characters, or tiny sub plots that twist and turn. Think of the way she bites her lip, or the way he gazes at her. These tiny details in you novel will spice it up. Just make sure to keep the spice at a minimum. Not too little, and not overdone.

Subplot has a vast connection to the major plot/skeleton. These are the little twists and turns that add so much sparkle to the plot, to the skeleton. We could call it spice as well. After all, a lot of the flesh is in fact spice! Zing!

Setting means everything. I really cannot emphasize that enough. The setting determines the mood and the atmosphere and of course setting isn't something we want to over focus too much. I don't really want to know the way the snowflakes were shaped or how her lips were a mix of petal pink and mahogany. Don't over spice!

Theme. Extreme importance, despite its littleness. Theme will set your story. It will set that bubble of emotions that you want to prepare your readers for. Whether it be grief, love, joy or misery.

To top it off. Flesh is the spice we grow upon the skeleton to paint a beautiful picture.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Write that Novel: The Skeleton

Every writer I know talks about establishing a great plot. A plot is what makes a book, but how do you establish a plot and how do you know you have a good plot? The plot is not the writing, nor is it the hook. It is the skeleton of your novel. Flesh comes later.
We all know this chart. Yes, its simple and yes we all know how to do this, but do we really? The Skeleton of your story refers to the bones that hold up the flesh. Literally speaking. This is your core. Sometimes the skeleton of the story makes most people fail to see the idea of the structure. Artists insist that there is no point in the structure, because it clogs off your creativity. It blocks those emotions. Truly, every single story spices and tingles your emotions because it is based on a basic structure. Flip through ANY book. They all have the same skeletal structure as shown above.

Even query writing depends on this. A query is the tale of the very key skeletal structure. The very main points. You don't tell back-story, you don't show unneeded information. You focus on the key points. This structure applies to all genres worldwide.

Exposition is the information needed to understand a story. (Don't confuse exposition for back-story).

Complication is the catalyst that begins the major conflict.

Climax is the turning point in the story that occurs when characters try to resolve the complication.

Resolution is the set of events that bring the story to a close.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Graceling: A Review

I just finished reading Graceling last night by Kristin Cashore. I have seen lots of great reviews on it, so I picked it up and it also seemed like it was based on the more medevil sword figfhting era, which my novel is based in, so I wanted to see what the hype was. This book was admired by a lot of girls my age and after reading it I can say, I am really not so sure if it would be loved by boys (Forgive me if it is, lol) and I really don't understand why it is rated PG 14. If you have not read the novel, keep in mind that this review contains spoilers.

My Rating: * * * (3 stars/5)

So I will start with a short summary, and then get to the point of my review. If you are interested in having your novel reviewed by me, feel free to drop me a comment. Anyways, the summary...Basically Katsa is a girl who can kill people with the nail of her small finger. She has a grace of killing. Graces in the novel are more like specialty talents that are portrayed when somebody's eyes change color at a young age. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug. She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po. She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace—or the terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

My Review:

Love the idea. That's why I bought the book, but to me the execution and plot was dull. Katsa is somewhat an annoying character. I know Kristen Cashore tried to make her a very strong female lead, but I found her to be very Mary Sueish at times and angry for no reason. Anger management, dude. Seriously. Her grace is a bit confusing to me and I find that if I wrote this I wouldn't call it the grace of killing but maybe of like fighting or something along those lines? Maybe strength? Because everyone has the ability to kill, its just the way she does it...She does though find out later that her grace is not killing, but survival. The fights were very swift and to me I found they were described too shortly. Like she just hit men with her boot and bam! Ten men down. What confused me was that how in the world she overcame graced fighters so easily.

Now, there were great things in the novel but let me continue my ramble...She is king Randa’s slave and when she meets Po, he tells her that she shouldn't be his slave. Ok, thinks Katsa, I’m going to go kill him if he doesn't let me leave. Randa fears her, for she can dodge arrows, but I am sure if he wanted her dead than he could arrow her down with a thousand or so men. I am sure it’s impossible to dodge that many arrows. So with Po who is the grandson of the stolen Lienid grandfather, she leaves to search why in the world the grandfather was stolen in the first place. Po lets her beat him up every day and I am surprised he hadn't gotten a hematoma from her punches to the head. I mean I was in a car accident and I hit my head....2 months off, brain bleed. Eeek! I think Po is a well described character, I liked him, but he takes allot of things that I really don't know if a real guy would take from Katsa. Actually he is probably the only one she is really nice to and I liked how she slowly evolved into a more humane girl throughout the novel.

Another thing, the whole giant back-story description of the kingdoms was confusing. I skimmed. It was like Wester, Nender, Ender, Blender and I was like what??? And all of those kings and queens and yikes! I think it would have worked better if it was weaved into the narrative. So anyways, she and Po leave to find why the grandfather was stolen. Their travel lasts forever and through that travel they get to know each other until, more than halfway through the novel, they find that king Leck stole the king and he is playing with minds. Did I mention Po (whose real name is Greening) is a mind reader? Oh, and I felt their romance was somewhat off and undeveloped...So they find Bitterblue who is running away and is the daughter of Leck. I think this could have been done better because a scene or two later, when Po sacrifices himself, Katsa kills Leck with a dagger. Easily. and I don't feel the defeat and victory that I should feel when an antagonist is killed. Of course they travel with Bitterblue to get to Leck (there is allot of travel) and when they get to Po's castle, guess who's there...Just guess...Leck! She kills him and they find Po who went blind and live happily ever after with Bitterblue as the queen.

Overall thoughts...I loved the idea. I enjoyed the read, but I thought there was allot of back-story, telling and not enough action to amaze me and engage me. Graceling didn't exceed my expectations but it served as entertainment and I think that it was a fun read overall. Katsa was interesting...Po was a very beta male I will do anything kind of person. So overall you should read it if you haven't! Cheers!