Sunday, March 29, 2009


My husband had commented to me that my blogs were full of typos. And I looked back over them this weekend, and he was right! So I spent some time fixing them. I don't know if I caught all of them, but I hope I did find the most glaring ones.

This week just sped by. I decided it was time to start working on my query letter. And so I posted it on a forum, and got it critiqued. The consensus was that I wasn't being specific enough, which funnily enough is what Rob told me. He always tells me that. I guess I am a generalist or something. So I worked on it, and posted another one--still not specific enough. Third attempt had a huge info dump--which you don't want in the query.

So here is my fourth attempt. A query is supposed to be about 250 words long. It should really get into the meat of the story, and it should suck the agent in enough that he/she will request pages. So please feel free to give me your opinion of my current query attempt. I will try to incorporate your suggestions.

Here it is:

Isis is a senior in high school focused on keeping her carefully controlled world from falling out of balance. She doesn’t know why strange things happen around her, just that they are unacceptable to her mother. She doesn’t realize that two magical societies are racing to find her. Ares has nearly achieved its goal of world domination by using both its magical powers and political connections. Damia exists to stop Ares from destroying the world.

When Isis uses her gift to save her life she is drawn into the world of Damia. Dane, her classmate, is one of Damia’s strongest members and is being trained for a leadership position. He guides her as she learns there is a purpose for her powers. Soon Ares discovers Isis and tries to convince her to join them. The fight intensifies as both groups realize that Isis is a dreamer and the most gifted mage of her generation. This gift allows her to manipulate others’ subconscious as well as work powerful magic in the Hall of Dreams. Her choice will tip the balance of power between the two groups allowing one to annihilate the other.

Isis is torn between embracing her true identity as a mage by joining one of the groups and the rejection of her family who has shunned every sign that Isis may possess the gift of magic. Through her dreams Isis learns of the plot of a future bombing followed by the assassination of the current president. As Isis and Dane race to stop the bombing, she learns that it is a trap and is kidnapped. Isis realizes that she must risk everything to save her life and the world that she knows.

THE GUARDIANS is a 57,000-word Young Adult contemporary fantasy novel.

Also I don't like the title. It is a work in progress--so any cool words that you know that have to do with protection or something would be great.

Thanks! Have a great week!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Books That Are Helping Me

This week I've managed to fit in two very important scenes that will help to build the tension in my book. It doesn't sound like a lot, but this conflict is central to the story, and I didn't figure that out until I was three quarters of the way through the first draft. That is what editing for, but the one thing I know I have going for the book is my pacing. And so when I change things, add scenes, and move things around, I naturally worry about my pacing. I think these changes are going to work though.

This week I've started reading two books, (nonfiction) and read a fiction book. They have all helped me a lot. When I read nonfiction I tend to read several at a time. I'm not all that into nonfiction books, but I go through phases--I'm actually reading three at the moment, but one has nothing to do with writing.

My fiction book that I read was The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. She's been one of my favorite writers (top ten) since I was in middle school. I love her strong women characters, and the fantasy worlds she creates. As I read this book again for the bazillionth time (I'm a rereader), I noticed that she has a pattern to her stories. She starts out with a woman who is living a fairly normal existence. Then something happens that throws her out of that normal world. She may suddenly be in a new country, be hurt by someone or have responsibility thrown on her. The middle of the book focuses with her dealing with the adjustments of her new world, and learning to control the new powers she has discovered as a result. Finally she goes on a journey or fights something virtually alone. With her special magical powers there is a massive magic scene in which the forces of opposition are overthrown.

She uses this basic plot in Beauty, The Blue Sword, Deerskin, Hero and the Crown, The Chalice, and Sunshine.

And yet I love everyone of these books, and they are all very, very different. She is masterful at building the different worlds that allow these very different characters to exist and have their problems. Every book is unique, and you care about each character. The obstacles they face are different, but they all follow the same pattern.

This may have come to my focus because I'm in the middle of reading a great book: Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. This book is just what I needed to help me really focus on fixing the right things in the editing process. It is a good book, full of examples, but the thing I like the best about it are all of the questions he keeps asking about the characters. It is helping me make my conflict more focused, and hopefully my book more enjoyable.

The other book I just started is Hooked by Les Edgerton. Honestly I'm only a few pages into this, but it seems like a solid read, full of good advice, and similar questions to Plot and Structure. I'm also planning on reading The First Five Pages in the next few weeks.

My husband, who is very supportive of my writing, bought me these books for my birthday. He really knew how stuck I was in the editing process, but these books are helping me look at what needs to be fixed, and giving me suggestions (in the form of questions) on what to do in order to fix them.

How did your writing week go?

Sunday, March 15, 2009


So I had several mini realizations this week. One being that I've gotten out of the habit of writing. Meaning I'm not taking my set time in the evening and pounding out the words every night. No wonder my novel is not getting where it needs to go.

The second is that I need someone who will read my book and look at the story and tell me how to make it tighter. Specifically. I can't afford an editor. So I'm wondering what to do. I've thought about a manuscript exchange, but it's hard because I have to trust the person. By trust I mean respect their opinion and judgement calls. It's a difficult thing to do.

My husband got me three books on writing--well they are more focused on the revision part of writing. You know the fun stuff that I just don't get. So I'm excited to read them.

I've also been thinking about the difference between being a slow bleeder, and writing out as fast you can. I've never been a slow bleeder, but I've never been much of an editor either. I think that is why I'm struggling so much with this phase of the novel writing process. I know that the book can be stronger--I am just having a hard time figuring out how to get it there.

Finally do you have any tips on what to where to a writer's conference? I want to go professional--but I want the right balance of professional and not overstated. Any ideas on what to wear and where to shop?


Sunday, March 8, 2009

A New Ending

What a week. I redid the end of my novel. Well actually I added a new chapter to the end, but it also means that I'm going to have to go back and work some new elements into the plot line. The silly thing is that this was part of my original plot, but I just didn't it include it for some reason.

And then honestly I randomly decided to end my novel. 

I just felt done, but I knew I wasn't really done. The new ending seems better to me now. I've tied up a few more loose ends, and managed to kill someone. Some of my beta readers told me that I needed someone to die during the fight scenes. And I agreed--the type of fighting my characters do just isn't as cool or as real without some sort of casualties. But I didn't know who to kill--I liked all of my major characters, and I'm planning on using them later on in the series. And then it hit me! And so he's dead.

It's funny, but now I feel like I can really dig into the revision process a lot more. I needed that resolution before I could move forward.

Total subject change. So I've never talked to other people (nonwriter people) or friends and family that really know me of my writing desire. But on facebook, I've been putting comments in my status. It's funny because my high school friends don't seem too surprised (I was on the Literary Magazine staff), but my adult friends all do. But I've gotten so much positive feedback, I don't know why I wasn't letting on that I want to be a published author. Maybe the dream is so fragile and the process is so hard, that it is hard for me to make it public. Plus I'm not really a outgoing person--things are rarely about me.  I like blogging because it is just out there. 

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Totally Pointless Week

Wow! I look back at this week, and wonder what I did the whole week. The answer is absolutely nothing. Now that is not entirely true. But in relation to my novel it is. I don't know what paralyzed my writing, but something sure did.

Partly I spent way too much time wasting time on the Internet. Another part of me wanted to work extra to earn money for my plane ticket to my writing conference (sadly though I really didn't accomplish much writing at all this week).  Then my daughter was sick. 

And I don't know what else. So I have a new strategy. Get up early, and get it done. We'll see how my new plan goes, since as my husband tells me I just don't get up early. It didn't used to be that way. In fact before Rob and I started dating I was the type of girl who was in bed by about 10:00 most nights (weekends excluded of course). When that happened I got up at about 6:30 most days. I had eight o'clock classes all through college. Then we started dating and I started staying up til 12:00.  Slowly things have gotten worse over the years. Now it's about 12:00 or 12:30 before I go to bed. It's going to change now though. I'll be up at five or six tomorrow and get right to work.

The other part of this strategy is one hour on my novel first thing--usually I do my other writing first. Then I'll do my other writing. Then another hour on my novel in the evenings. The early mornings mean an earlier bedtime. So I'm off!

Hope your week was better--writing wise!