Big Ups and A Wolf Tale

So you all remember the Twitter pitch contest for which you helped me prepare? (Go check out hostess Shelley Watters’ blog!) Well, Agent Suzie Townsend chose my pitch as an honorable mention! And yes, I sent out my query immediately upon finding out. SO I wanted to shout-out to every one who helped prep! If they have blogs, check them out!

Lori M Lee, T Romel Blossom, Suzie McGowen, Tina Moss, Jolene Perry, Jen (and not my tiny big sister), Kimberlee Turley, A.Grey, Vaudreuil (blog regular!), LK Gardner-Griffie, Karen AkinsDouglas Esper, Brenda Drake, Erica M Chapman, Ruth Hansen, Kaleen, L. Blankenship, Bekah Snow, Stephanie Hussey, Crystal, April Dawn, and of course contest hostess Shelley Watters who actually went around to give feedback to the entrants!

Can’t believe that many of you were kind enough to stop by and I really appreciate it! The online writing community never ceases to amaze, encourage and entertain me. Several of the above are on twitter as well, so plenty of ways to keep up.

AND NOW! (Say that like Jon Lovitz on some episode of The Simpsons…and everything else.) The piece de awesome. My six (and a half) year-old son’s first story is being published! Right now! Right here! (It totally counts!)

Buzzy and the Wolf

There once was a boy named Buzzy. He loved his mother very much. He also loved his father just as much.

One day they went for a walk inside the forest. But Buzzy was very afraid because the forest was dark. However, Buzzy’s mom and dad were not afraid of the forest and they kept Buzzy safe.

After walking in the forest for a few minutes they saw a wolf. It was a nice wolf. This made Buzzy’s family very happy. But all of a sudden the wolf became very hungry. He looked at Buzzy and saw his next meal. Now everyone was scared.

The whole family ran as fast as they could, but the wolf kept coming closer and closer, closing in on their doom.

Luckily, Buzzy and his mom and dad all made it back to their house in time. After they closed their door, the wolf started to bang on the house. The wolf tried to trick the family into coming outside by pretending he was their grandmother. But they were not fooled. They knew it was the wolf because they could see him through the window.

Now that the family knew there was a hungry wolf outside of their house they never left home without their swords.

The next time Buzzy saw the wolf he showed him his sword and said, “Don’t ever try to trick us or eat us every again.” Buzzy also knew that the wolf was still hungry so he told the wolf, “Go get some fish.”

They lived happily ever after.

The End

New York, New York

[First thing's first - 'member that contest I posted like twice and tried to force you to click the link and go over and read stuff that clearly didn't interest more than like two of you who also were probably just responding to my sobering desperation? I'm a finalist. You can click here to verify that I'm not making stuff up because I'm bored and breakfast is taking forever making its way to my mouth. Woot!]

On to New York. (Not literally until this weekend, though.) Which I just realized my tiny big sister, JenJen, wrote about, too! The last time I was there was four years ago, but that’s not the story I wanna tell. Okay, well, maybe this:

We behaved like we’d been dipped in spirits. Maybe Jonathon had (pretty sure he hadn’t) but I know I was as sober and stupid as I ever am!

Anyway! The first time I went to New York, I was five years old. Celebrated my sixth birthday. The parts that stood out the most? Shopping, for one. George Michael playing in Bloomingdales. Me wearing my favoritest outfit EVAH! (Pink spandex shorts under a neon green skirt with a white t-shirt decorated with neon pink and green puffy paint with neon pink and green – see a pattern here? – scrunch socks and ….. wait for it. LA Gears. WITH. GILLS.) Jennifer getting lost after we came out of the museum of natural history. Jennifer getting a wrought iron spear stuck in the back of her thigh. Jennifer getting stitches at some “hospital” where a dude had been severely burned on his face but was in the waiting room with us. Oh, Jennifer. Thanks for the memories.

You know what I honestly remember most? The fact that for weeks after we came back to California – I say as though I’m writing this from California – I had nightmares. Apparently I’d been fearing for my one year old brother’s life the entire six week trip because upon our return, all the things that “could” have happened to him played out in my dreams. Those dreams are more vivid at times than the actual memories of the trip! (Other than when Jennifer was given the Jem doll that turned out to be one of the Misfits and at first we were like, why would you give someone the Misfits doll instead of one of the Holograms?! But then we fell in love with the cassette tape of songs that came with it? ‘Member?!)

One dream was in Queens, outside of buildings I would learn were projects. I was running up to the entrance and had been chasing literally the big bad wolf. O_O How’s that for a six year old’s nightmare? He was bipedal just like in the cartoon and had a snout that more resembled a crocodile. Just like in the cartoon. Anyway, just as I was getting to the front doors, there was an explosion. Not very big. But it turned out it had been my baby brother. Which I knew because his little soft-soled shoes were still standing there on the pavement where he’d been. O_O Yep.

Oh and there was that one rare occasion upon which we took a cab. It was late and it’d been raining and my baby brother had horrible allergies and junk when he was little. Had to sleep with a humidifier. Anyway, I remember his stroller being encased in that plastic dealie. I. Don’t remember having an umbrella myself, though. I don’t know, it just seems like maybe one parent taking five small children to visit New York for six weeks wasn’t the best laid plan. O_o Sure, I loved it at the time but um… I’m pretty sure I’d not do it with two of my own.

I also remember the picnic where I won some race and was a total spoiled brat who couldn’t hide my disappointment at the quality of the prize. (But then neither could Jennifer.) And then we took those “crappy” prizes home and hung them on the wall for years to come.

{Warning: I did not reread this from when I wrote it at like four this morning. Huh. Shoulda prolly said this at the top, huh?}

A Little Somethin-Somethin

I’ll just come clean. Kind of. The reason I haven’t been blogging regularly is that I’m in the throes of query-making. (You like that?) It’s exciting and wonderful and I have an excel sheet with pie chart (you know how I love me some visual aids/organizational documents) and I’m refreshing my author email constantly.

This isn’t a process I’ll blog about while it’s going on and it’s basically all I think about so I just haven’t known how not to talk about it! I will say that I watched Une Affaire de Femmes last night (and yes, because of Claude Chabrol’s passing) and I really do enjoy Isabelle Huppert even if she’s not the beauty of France and even if that particular character is dolt…which makes me wonder why I enjoy the movie so much. I suppose the secret to pacifying a viewer who isn’t necessarily in love with the character is to show how you still have sympathy for them in the end. Anyway.

Oh! And after a year, I’ll be back in the U.S. at the end of the month! :D Yay! I can’t wait.

*And for the number of agents I’ve heard complaining about authors sending manuscripts with each chapter being a separate file?! WHAT are you talking about?! Why would anyone do this?! They wouldn’t. Therefore, I don’t believe you.

*My sister just used FTF – which is way more hilarious than its counterpart (FTW) – and reminded me of the guy who hit on me at church this week. O_O Um. I’m married. With a kid. And at church. To be fair, … no wait, he had no excuse. It was weird.

My Word(s)! (Updated)

Oh, the endless contests. I entered a pitch-to-query contest/mentored workshop on Adventures in Children’s Publishing (judged by Sarah LaPolla). Now I’m working on the Market My Words: Pitch contest (judged by Mary Kole). The deadline is Sunday and I’m waiting to post because you only get one.

So the thing about these 140 character pitches is – I hate when all they do is tell me the story. I mean, that’s a great thing in itself because it’s an accomplishment. I got really great feedback on Betsy Lerner’s blog once from August (if you follow her blog, you’ll recognize all the regulars) about trying to tell too much of the real story. Like who precisely this person is and what exactly the book is about. Which, on the one hand, seems like the point. But honestly. Just being a participant and reading through a couple of those and you get seriously bored and start skimming. “When…, then….” might make sense for the back cover, but honestly, it doesn’t stand out, no matter how cool your novel’s concept.

So, while my first attempt for the Mary Kole contest managed the 140 characters without trying to describe the world and all, it didn’t thrill me.

When Avrilis saves the life of a boy who should have died, her unscripted behavior makes them the target of both the hunters and the rebels.

That’s just a serious yawn. Yeah, it tells the inciting event and hints at the fact that there’s a script and generally (for someone who knows the story) supports the genre description. But it’s not creative! I want the sentence structure itself and punctuation and every word to tell something!

Live. Repeat. Live. Repeat. Save a boy meant to die. Run from the hunters and suspect the rebels. Find the boy she (you?) loved before. Repeat?

Feel guilty and fraudulent because that totally doesn’t match the voice of the novel itself. But does it need to? I’m leaning towards the arguments I’ve heard that differentiate between the pitch, the query, and the book. The first two are meant to entice and seduce someone enough to want the third. Are they bound to the third in their attempt to do so? I think not. What about you?

Anyway. That’s the direction, I want…but it’s not the one. Back to work.

UPDATE: Live, repeat, live, repeat. Lonely Avrilis can do it again – or she can save a boy meant to die and run from the hunters til time runs out.

(That’s the one I entered. To read all the entries, click the link I gave at the beginning of the post!)

I Don’t Like To Be Touched

You guys are way too compassionate. I’ll never make a statement like that without explaining it again. (Yes, I will.)

Okay, so I’m not actually using Joshie’s query – to clarify – but I thought he was hero-worthy for stopping what he was doing to try his hand at something that was upsetting me. I’m still probably going to use the one I posted in some instances, because I refuse to think everyone is that easily confused – particularly because several people said they’re not.

I don’t advocate her website, but there’s a really bitter and angry person who blogs about how horrible life is (and all I can gather is that she’s not Paris Hilton as her reasoning) and how stupid and wrong everyone is. That’s. Not that part I’m relating to. Well, I’m not relating to any of it. But the basis (supposedly) of her angst is that she’s gotten entirely conflicting feedback from professionals. I don’t know how true her story is – sounds like she’s going through the standard query process to me – but I will say, I was pretty lame (DON’T. HUG ME. IT’S OKAY.) for expecting that in ANY setting, everyone would have something useful and sense-making to offer.

I think it goes to show you that there’s definitely a downside to being “in the know”. It becomes more a question of balance and taking the chance that you might do something in a less than perfect fashion (to someone on your list, if not all) – but seriously, if the writing is the most important thing, then the writing (not the query) should really be the most important thing. DON’T get all rubber-band-effect and not work on the query, just don’t do what I did yesterday and try to find something useful in every. single. suggestion. If it can make me feel overwhelmed (where literal query rejections don’t), I’m pretty sure that girl I mentioned is on the cusp of crazy.

So. Maybe I’ll use my pared down version on some, my short version on others. Honestly, I have no idea. But I’m really not worried about it.  Thankfully, it’s not entirely up to me to figure out. God gave me the talent (remember Bill Murray at the beginning of Groundhog Day…”did he just call himself the talent?” Yeah, not like that) – He’ll lead me where I need to go. Not everyone will “get” that last statement, but it’s the truest part of this sometimes facetious and all-the-time stream of consciousness blog. Which leads me to: the title is a joke. Don’t worry. (No, seriously, you guys. You’re sweethearts.)

Come on in for the real thing.

Write. On.

Well, it’s pretty difficult to post right now. My head is pretty wrapped up in Avrilis. Aaaand WriteOnCon starts tomorrow! I have a pretty good idea that it will rock – more than it already does and it hasn’t even started yet – but tomorrow will tell for sure!

Aside from the critique forums – the ones that will be closed as of tomorrow – they’ve already had two pretty sweet opportunities, both regarding queries. There’s the mega query critique contest and the query call for a liveblogging event, for which I submitted my new query for The Last Life Of Avrilis. Aaaand I guess I’ll show it since I’m referring to it.

~

Sixteen-year-old Avrilis is a passive Sentient. Knowing that lifetimes are meant to replay exactly, she would willingly have suffered the déjà vu that plague her kind – but she didn’t get the chance. In this life, her mother died and her father vanished, destroying her repetition and damning her to emit the static electricity that the TeraSed hunt.

After a lonely Avrilis saves the life of a street urchin meant to die, the two discover the Sentient underground. Its inhabitants have a plan to end the world as she knows it. But Avrilis’ past life memories of loving a young man she hasn’t met and of her parents’ seeming connection with the TeraSed will not relent – not even when she discovers that her father is the living prophet of the underground.

Now Avrilis must choose between the boy whose life she saved and the one she’s loved in lives before. With the age again racing to its end and the freedom of the Sentient sparking changes no one can foresee, Avrilis must uncover the truth about her family while staying one step ahead of both the TeraSed and their prey.

~

If they’re trying to keep us all verklempt and twitterpated…it’s apparently working. Just a reminder: you don’t HAVE to be working on a YA title to take part in WriteOnCon (Andy)! Who’s comin’ with me?!

Please...just do what she says!

What We Talk About When We Talk About What We Talk About

Take. ALL my loves, my love. YEA. Takethemall. (In my delirium, I am having to fight to stop reciting that sonnet in entirety. For you see – I am hot. And I like it not.)

I was going to write about feedback. But I really don’t want to now. All the world seems wrong when I’m overheated.

It's Too Darn Hot!

(Four hours later.)

No, I wasn’t kidding. And I’m now lounging in the empty bathtub, wondering why I didn’t think of this before.  So feedback. Blerg.

I know from wildly entertaining blogs, blog comments on agent blogs and real life eavesdropping that there are people who disregard the slightest criticism, seemingly based on the fact that the writer’s mother/husband/boyfriend told them they have talent. Well, we’ve all seen some measure of the American Idol try-outs (either on our own volition or by the evil of a family member – I’m looking at you, Anastasia) and we have seared into our memories how wrong loved ones can be. And how criminal it is to encourage certain people. O_O

Then of course there are people who don’t trust any feedback that isn’t negative. (Negative, of course, being synonymous with critical because who has ever truly investigated their feelings/responses to something only to find that they loved it? Apparently, no one.) These are the people who – if you say that you enjoyed something – insist that you “tell the truth”. That gets old. Huh, Josh?

This is just stating the obvious but what it comes down to, most often, is the source. Not whether or not the praise came from your mom, but who you know your mom to be. I’d still laugh if someone wrote it in a query – well, praise from anyone in a query seems useless…if they were important enough and impressed enough…the query would not be happening – but in my own life, I’ve realized that I’ve seemingly shrugged off praise from my inner circle based on them being my inner circle. Which is silly. Not to say a liberal arts education makes someone informed about the publishing industry – but then I’m not going to them to see if something will sell… that’s what psychics are for – but knowing their academic history certainly means something to me. My siamese twin, for instance, (who cannot be linked because she’s allergic to technology and social media) is a pantheon among my IB peers. Anyone who took IB English 4 with Mr. Roberts (only to find that we would spend the rest of our lives searching for an experience to rival it and likeminded individuals with whom to dissect literature) will respect her perfect exam score. When she tells me she likes something – and tells me exactly why (because hi, that’s the only way to validate such a claim) – my knee jerk reaction should not be to disregard it. Particularly considering the time I threw my head back and laughed and – in mixed company – she advised me never to make that face again…. Love that girl.

And then there’s the criticism. And I’m not talking about the writer-friend, loved one or critique partner who lets you know up front, I don’t even like this genre – I’m talking about the agent who actually gives feedback in a completely personalized rejection letter. (Shout out to Amanda.) Or any other professional, confidante, whomever whose experience or reputation or sensibilities led you to seek their opinion in the first place. (Because there’s nothing uglier than soliciting feedback only to flippantly and loudly reject it as though you never cared in the first place.) First, turn your entire body to shield your baby from the onslaught. Squeeze your eyes shut like the world is exploding around you (because it is.) And then – at least in this case – remember the time someone swooned over this project and you were nearly offended, wondering whether they thought it was the best you could do. Whoops. Reread the letter later and remember the times you journaled about whether or not this was an issue. (Thanks, confirmation.) People tell you never to query before you’re ready. That advice makes sense upfront. But then you consider the number of books that go out to editors on submission and need a good deal of work. The agent and the author obviously thought the book was ready. The point is sometimes you (and another set of eyes) didn’t know what you didn’t know. (Unless you had read that journal entry.)

Wow. So. I’m sure I’ve missed something I meant to say – always happens when I have a nice length entry and my brain is satisfied. It knows what I meant and it tells me it got it all and then I read it later and yeah, it didn’t. Way to go, brain.

WriteOnCon Shout-Out!

I’m super lame. I told Miss Rosemary I was gonna mention WriteOnCon like…days ago at this point? Right. That didn’t happen – but not because I’m not super excited about this online writer’s conference. (By the way, there’s a link back there and if you write MC-18 material – i.e. main characters of 18 and below – you should be checking it out…particularly their industry professional list!!)There’s a bunch more info that I’m not mentioning seeing as they have their own quite thorough website, so get thee to heaven, Beatrice. I mean. Check it out. :)

It takes place from August 10 – August 12th, entirely online, and registration is already open with several lively forums. Hoping to bring my still-untitled steampunk story along – which requires me to get back to work. So glad I have a fitting project!

This Is How We Do It

I like-a to organize. (Homer drool) I love when I look back at different packets and try to figure out why I used those particular colors. However I happened to be feeling at the time + visibility/readability concerns + happenstance? Anyway, this is my query tracking document for TMLA. I have no idea how anyone else does it (feel free to tell me) – I know there are programs online and junk but I’m a do-it-herself kinda girl. That and I love making these things so, yeah.

In other TMLA related news, I submitted a-version-of-my TMLA one-liner to Rachelle Gardner’s contest, which expires tonight at midnight for those of you interested in joining me. Thought I’d test drive it and there was the opportunity, so, voila. With only slight modifications, it now goes something like this:

When Demetra attempts to know her 27-year-old daughter born of rape, she finds that her chosen identity is as false as the one society tried to force upon her.

Aaaaand that’s about all, folks.