Thursday, February 25, 2010

Get Over It and INTO My Manuscript

I've been stuck on the same little part in my book for the last couple of days. And it's all her fault. She is a minor character, but so far my most difficult to introduce. However, it's very much like her because she would like to be more important. But she's not.

Sorry, Olivia.

You don't even have a last name. Get over it. I just need you to add a little romantic tension between my main character and the boy.

But she's dug her heels in and is refusing to enter the door that is my manuscript. It's not fair.

She may be bitter because I put her beautiful curly hair in a humid climate and stuck it under a bandana. Or she may be upset because I gave her a wide mouth. But I gave her long legs and a British accent. What more can you want as a minor character?

The boy?

Sorry, you are NOT getting the boy.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Opinions Please

Two posts two days in a row? So unlike my typical random and sporadic blogging ways. But I want your opinion. My old title Untelling the Maya has been tentatively replaced by a new title Pieces of Moon. See the sidebar and have a GREAT weekend!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Get Your Lawyerin' Hands Off My Query!

I just wanted to show him my query letter, especially after I won a certain Query Contest. I explained to him it is a cover letter for my book meant to persuade agents to read my book.

He went to town on it, taking all the pretty out of it until it threatened to be naked and ugly. But I stopped him, and he said, "Sorry, I'm looking at this like I'd look at a brief."

A brief?

brief: a written legal document that is presented to a court arguing why the party to the case should prevail.

My Book vs. All The Other Books

Facts: Unpublished author seeks representation by devoted literary agent.

Issue: Will My Book engage and interest a wide audience?

Decision : YES

Reasons : Said unpublished author provides My Book is good.

Other Opinions: Husband, Sister, and Friend all concur.

Writing a query never was so easy.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I HAVE HAD ENOUGH WITH HAD

While making a concerted effort to keep as many HADs out of my book as possible, sometimes it is unavoidable. Yet, as the scrutinizing reader/writer that I am, those HADS always jump out like blemishes on the page.

However, if I am writing my book in first person past-tense and I am referring to something IN THE PAST, what about those HADs? Is there a home for them there?

I want to know how everyone treats this wretched word. I am giving an ambiguous and probably boring excerpt to illustrate.

The first is littered with HADS.

My eyes fell on my duffle bag, almost hidden beneath the extra pillows I HAD thrown off my bed when I HAD arrived. I HAD used the bag as a carry-on during my flight but HAD spent the overnight hours on the plane sleeping rather than reading. I unzipped the bag and saw the shoes, tossed among my paperbacks with a piece of paper crammed under the toes and dried mud still clinging to the soles.

See? She is looking at her duffle bag NOW. She unzips her duffle bag NOW. The rest is in the past.

And maybe I can eliminate some of the hads and not put them in capitals :) There is always, "I'd."

What if I wrote it like this?

My eyes fell on my duffle bag, almost hidden beneath the extra pillow I threw off my bed when I arrived. I used the bag as a carry-on during the flight but spent the overnight hours on the plane sleeping rather than reading. Now, I unzipped the bag and saw the shoes, tossed among the paperbacks...and the rest of it.

I think then, "now" should be added to re-orient the reader to the present-ness of the situation.

Now tell me your opinion about that awful three-letter word.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Some Kind of Normal

I had a chance to read my blog-friend Heidi Willis's debut novel a few weeks ago, and it was a real (sugar-free) treat.

Babs Babcock never finished school past the tenth-grade, but when her daughter is diagnosed with diabetes and an incurable insulin-allergy, Babs immerses herself in cutting-edge scientific research to find a cure. Problem is, the cure she finds goes against everything she and her family, not to mention her town, stands for.

But I think her awesome book trailer sums it up best.



The whole book is written in Bab's unique southern voice, and even though the subject matter of the book was not light, Babs made me laugh throughout.

What touched me the most while reading this book was the family relationships. They were so REAL to me I wanted to reach out and touch them. Babs and her daughter Ashley, who is dying but worries whether Brian Lee will be at Saturday movie night. Babs and her son Logan, who have matching souls but don't understand one another. Babs and her husband Travis, who define married love by the end of the book.

You see this family come together during their crisis in a beautiful way.

My favorite character? Hands down was the deviant, pink-mohawk teenage son, Logan. If this was a young-adult novel, I think I would have fallen in love with him a little bit. He plays the troubled teen, but he is really brilliant and devoted to his sister.

This family must bear the pricks of their closest friends and neighbors when they seek a cure in stem cell research that goes against the grain of their small town values. Babs finds pillars of strength among her friends, and those she didn't know were her friends, in her Baptist church. (And she only joined because the Baptists always looked like they were having so much more fun than the Lutherans.)

Heidi really did her research because woven throughout his deeply-felt tale is contemporary science. In fact, I googled a few things about stem cell research after reading because it sparked a few questions. Heidi herself is a diabetic, only not allergic to insulin, which I'm glad because I like her alive. And now she can write more books.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

And Along Came Giant!

When we tell my son a story, he never fails to pipe in with, "And along came Giant!" We've gathered quite the assortment of stories, and whether they make sense or not, they all have Giant in common.

I've decided this is the tactic I have been missing when my story comes to a standstill. How much more interesting my book would read with Giant! How interesting would all stories read if they only employed Giant:

Edward, your granite abs and sparkly epidermis are nothing to Giant. You think Jacob is competition?! Giant may not have lightning-quick reflexes, but he has Bella's heart from the moment he enrolls at Forks High. Bella no longer dreams of the day she will also have a scrawny corpse-like body (oops, New Moon Movie spoiler), but rather, the day she will also have legs the size of tree trunks.

The Capitol will rue the day that Giant came to play. District 14 surfaces, and they too must be Reaped. Of course Cinna is hard-pressed to find a costume in Giant's size. Nevertheless, together Katniss and Giant rule the Games, and instead of collecting their prize, Giant squashes the Capitol (leaving no room for a sequel).

What better spy than the very obscure Giant? He can pose as a mountain or a tall, mishapen, ungainly building. During his off-time, he acts as mascot to the Gallagher Girls learning 57 languages and 84 ways to kill a man with a paperclip. When Cammie meets a town boy and tells him her secret, Giant kills him, like the title actually implies.

Giant thinks he can rule the Unconsecrated, but one bite is still all it takes for one of his proportions to become infected. However, whilst trampling through the Forest of Hangnails and Snaggle Tooths, he flattens most of the undead, and the living are saved. Unfortunately, the Sisterhood is now free to come out from Wherever They Hide and proceeds to take over the world (leaving room for a sequel).

How can Giant improve your story? What do you write when you run out of fodder for blog-posts?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Query Contest

A new agent blog everyone! Kathleen Ortiz, an Associate Agent and Foreign Rights Manager at Lowenstein Associates JUST started her blog, and she is hosting a query contest to garner followers. Go check it out.