Next Big Thing

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Recently, Kate Hart of YA Highway and Twitter Field Trip Friday fame tagged me in a writing meme – “Next Big Thing”.  After a grueling week at the office grindstone, I needed a short (read 365 days) break.  So I’ve decided to stop long enough to play along.

Here goes…

What’s the working title for your book?
Raven Academy. It’s Book 1 in a middle grade series I’m planning. And no it’s not a magical school for wizards and witches. This is the only book that takes place in a school setting. :)

What is the one sentence synopsis for your book?
A 13-year-old boy discovers he’s a member of a secret society of time travelers from another world who’ve built their society by studying Earth’s history and that he’s been hidden in Earth’s timeline by his own people to protect his future and the future of his world.

What genre does your book fall under?
Time Travel/Fantasy

What other books would you compare your story to in your genre?
Sadly, nothing comes to mind. But maybe that’s actually a good thing! *fingers-crossed*

Where did the idea come from for your book?
I’ve always been fascinated by time travel. And family secrets. The idea came to me in college while I was studying philosophy and contemplating the notion of freedom and the struggle between the individual and society’s needs. There’s also a deep family thread in the story that likely arose from my experience growing up in a family with our own secrets “private history”.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I never really think about books in terms of movies. I’ve got nothing.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I intend to work with an agency, but that could change in the future.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? May we see an intro?
I’d rather not say. Let’s just agree it’s taken me longer than it could have. As for the intro, I’d be happy to share it. Just ask!

What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest?
Mystery, family secrets, cover-ups, danger, ravens, time travel, friendship and self-discovery.

Tagging: Alina Klein, Michele Shaw, Jennifer Walkup

The KidLit Network: First Contributor Post!

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John Rea-Hedrick: KidLit NetworkIn November of this year a new website was launched, called the KidLit Network.  This site focuses on children’s literature and features news and articles for readers and writers alike, including book reviews, crafts, interviews, a book club, and more!

KidLit Network was co-founded by two of the original founders of YA Highway, a popular book blog focusing on young adult literature.  I got connected with YA Highway in their early days and was recently asked to become a contributing member of the new KidLit Network.

I jumped at the chance!

Since then, I’ve also been happily helping out with some of the “behind the scenes” aspects of WordPress blog management like setting up the RSS feed, solving technical problems, and doing various other administrative functions.  *waves geek flag*

Yesterday, I shared my first contributor post: Invite Your Characters Over For Dinner under the ‘Writing” channel.  (Yay!)  I’d like to invite you to stop by and to share your thoughts!  And while you’re there, do a little channel surfing on the rest of the site.

We’re new, but we’re growing!  We’d love to have you along for the ride!

Revision: When Is Enough, Enough?

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Stop Revising
When it comes to revising, I have trouble knowing when to quit.

I tend to write for a while, then get some distance before coming back and see how it “sounds” in my head.  I’ll inevitably tweak my word choice a here or there for clarity.  Or I’ll rearrange the word order to adjust the tone.  I may even remove (or add) contractions, slang, or simpler language in dialog to better fit a particular character.

While these may all seem like reasonable ways to revise, the problem is that I find myself doing it to the SAME piece of writing.  Again.  And again.  And again.

So, when is enough, enough?

I mean, this IS writing we’re talking about after all.  So, the “right” words do matter, don’t they? DON’T THEY?

I’ve learned that the answer to this question is…

Not so much.

A grocery list can have the right words in the right places, but no one will ever give that grocery list to their friends and say, “You’ve just GOT to read this!!!”

What matters is the story.

Don’t get me wrong.  When it comes to storytelling, words are the vehicle for conveying that story to others.  But the words themselves are not the story.  The story is what happens, to whom, why, what they do about it, and how they change when all is said and done.

For example, you can tell the story of The Three Little Pigs in as few as 300 words. Or you can take more than 7 minutes to tell it.  Either way, the telling changes the tone, but not the story itself.

Bottom Line:
If you want to tell stories, YOUR STORIES, don’t let the “right” words get in the way.

***

So what about you?  Do you struggle with the temptation of endless revision in your writing like I do?

I’d love to commiserate with you in the comments!

The 7 (Seven) Game

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The 7 (Seven) Game

This morning, Laura Moss tagged me in a writing challenge. It’s called “The Seven Game” (or “The Lucky 7″).  I’d never heard of it before, but it sounded like fun.  So, I’ve decided to play along.

Here are the rules:

  1. Go to page 77 of your current MS.
  2. Go to line 7.
  3. Copy down the next seven lines or sentences and paste them as they’re written.
  4. Tag seven other writers to play the game.

This entry (slightly over the seven line limit) is from my current WIP, “Raven Academy”:
(a MG/YA Fantasy involving Time Travel!)

“Price? What are you doing here?”, Dennis demanded.

Connor looked from Dennis to Karl to the struggling seventh-grader.

“This is a private matter, Price! It doesn’t concern you. Just turn around and leave now, and Karl and I will pretend we never saw you.”

Karl glared at Connor, his bushy eyebrows drawn together into a single black swath across his ridged forehead. He looked even angrier than Dennis at being interrupted as he tightened his grip on the seventh-grader’s arms. The boy squealed involuntarily, humiliated, then gave up struggling and fixed his eyes pleadingly on Connor for help.

Tag! You’re (Alphabetically) It!

  1. Kate Hart
  2. Alina Klein
  3. Carolina Valdez Miller
  4. Laura Pauling
  5. Teresa Robeson
  6. Michele Shaw
  7. Anna Staniszewski

Have fun playing along on your blog!

(If you do decide to join in, please post the link back here in the comments.)

Thanks!!!

The Fear of Falling

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Wile E Coyote Going Over a CliffI’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my fears lately. For me, one of my biggest is the fear of falling. Some of my worst nightmares involve either actively falling or those final terrifying seconds just before I slip off the edge of some precipice into a yawning abyss.

*shudders*

 

When I stop and think about it during my (safer) waking hours, the scary part about falling isn’t really the fall itself; it’s the expectation of what’s waiting at the bottom of that drop that gives me the shivers.

While I was mulling that thought over last week, I remembered something I’d learned years ago about walking, of all things.  But it made me stop everything I was doing right then and give it my full attention.

Walking is nothing more than controlled falling.

I know it might sound a little crazy at first, but it’s true. If you’re not convinced, try this little experiment. Stand up, right where you are with both feet firmly on the floor. Now, WITHOUT leaning forward, raise one foot out in front of you like you’re about to take a step.

What happened?

Probably nothing.  Most likely (unless your balance is a bit off), you’re simply standing there with one foot in the air. (You look silly by the way, but I’m not laughing. I promise. *ahem*) Okay, assuming you’re still standing on one foot, go ahead and give into gravity and let yourself fall forward onto your extended foot.

See? You’ve just taken step. Do it again and you’re walking. But you can’t do either one without falling first.  So, if walking is actually falling, why aren’t those of us who are afraid of falling also afraid of walking? It all goes back to that word: control.

We’ve learned to control the fall.

We learn to walk before we’re old enough to let our fear of falling down keep us from trying. Eventually, through practice and experience, we learn to change our expectation about what’s really waiting for us at the bottom of that (albeit short) drop following each step. Because we learned to control the fall, we know what’s waiting at the bottom is just another place to set our foot so we can take our next step. It’s only in the act of letting go and allowing ourselves to fall  that we’re able to stop falling and actually walk. If we don’t risk the fall, we can keep ourselves safe, but the cost is that we’ll have to stay where we are.  Without risk, we’ll never go anywhere.

Period.

It’s only by deliberately risking the fall:
That anything can change.
That anything will change.
That everything will change.

So what about you? Are any of your fears holding you back? Is there something you want to do (something need to do) but you’re too afraid to try?

Do yourself a favor. . .

Trust yourself. Let go of your fear. Risk the fall. Welcome the experience and learn from it. Then, take control.  You know how.

Remember, you’ve only been doing it all your life.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
NOTE:
Please embrace your fears responsibly. The practice of learning to overcome fears through experience should not be applied using actual, life-threatening fears which are outside of your control such as severe weather, natural disasters or the zombie apocalypse.

Pushing Past My Indecision

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Indiana Jones Indecision
(image courtesy of Tumblr)

I struggle a lot with indecision where my writing is concerned.

Usually, that indecision only takes the form of nearly endless revision. Painful, but true. *sigh* However, more recently my struggle has shifted to two new fronts beyond the printed page;

  1. Deciding whether or not to renew my SCBWI membership.
  2. Deciding whether or not to attend my local SCBWI’s annual conference this year (depending on the outcome of #1).

To some writers this may seem like a no-brainer, but I’ve spent weeks debating what to do. For me, participating in a writing event…with other people…is a big deal. Every. Single. Time.

(I planned a much longer post about the reasons behind this, but I’ve decided to hold off on sharing that one for now.)

So . . .

To make this REALLY long story short, I’ve decided to renew my SCBWI membership (at least one more year) AND to attend my local regional annual conference this year.

Also, in a completely uncharacteristic move on my part, I’ve decided to register for one of the open professional manuscript critique slots at the conference. This will be first for me. The prospect simultaneously excites and terrifies me. My eyes have been the only ones on my WIP for so long, I’ve decided if it’s not ready to be critiqued by now it never will be.

I’m also looking forward to seeing other local writers I met at last year’s conference who I’ve been connecting with virtually since.

* * *

In related writing news, I’ve got one other significant (to me anyway) something in the works. I don’t want to say what it is yet. But, I will say it’s requiring me to complete a 750 word synopsis of my WIP by this Friday!

Thankfully, this post from Susan Dennard on How To Write A 1-Page Synopsis is making that task MUCH more manageable.

Thanks Susan!