Wednesday, November 18, 2009


In critiques lately, I keep referring people to Rachelle Gardner's recent post on backstory. She does an amazing job describing what it is, why it's a problem and how you can fix it. I'm posting the link here for easy reference:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Writing Update

This is way overdue. Since the last time I posted an update, I've written the first draft of a brand-new novel (contemporary YA, no paranormal elements), almost completed the third draft of a novel I started around this time last year, and revised another based on some feedback I received from an agent.

I'm especially happy with the changes I made to that book. I wish I would've discovered the solution sooner, but it just took time and distance and a fresh perspective to make what the story needed obvious to me. (I have no idea what number draft this is. I've thought it was "finished" so many times before that I've lost count.) Fortunately I've been querying in little batches, so I still have plenty of places to send it. So far the feedback has been positive -- my brand-new first page was chosen as a runner-up in the most recent MSFV Secret Agent contest. Being chosen as one of the finalists was exciting, but mostly I'm happy to have finally gotten the story and my characters to where they were supposed to be.


By Maggie Stiefvater

I loved everything about this book. The beautiful, lyrical writing. The doomed and impossible romance. The unique twist on werewolves and winter. The characters - sweet and sad Sam, quietly strong Grace, and also the girl with whom Grace forms an unlikely friendship/alliance.

The temperature plays an important part in the story and is almost a character on its own. The cold practically seeps through the pages. This is the perfect time of year to read this book and I found myself dreading the cooler temperatures as much as the characters were.

I loved the voice and writing style so much that Stiefvater's first two novels have now jumped to the top of my book wish-list, and I'll be eagerly awaiting the two planned Shiver sequels.

If anybody is looking for a gift for a Twilight fan, try Shiver. No vampires, but the romance has a similar quality. Jacob fans especially should enjoy this book. But I think it would appeal to anyone who's looking for a beautifully written YA romance.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Wildwood Dancing

By Juliet Marillier

I read this book last week and I absolutely adored it. Beautiful story, lovely writing, wonderful characters. It's a fairy tale retelling (more than one fairy tale actually) with some other fantasy twists thrown in.

I bought this book on a whim, something I hardly ever do since I always have a long list of books I'm planning to read and/or buy, but the hardback was on a discount table at Borders for only $2.99 so I decided to take the chance. (I'm not sure why it was marked down except that there was a small dot of red ink along the bottom edge of the pages, so I guess they considered it damaged.)

Anyway, I'm so happy I found this book and it has reminded me how much I love fairy tales. I tend to do this with books, when I fall in love with one I only want to read others like it. I've just finished Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, which was also wonderful and I'm about to start another of her books.

Some of my favorite fairy tale retellings are Deerskin and Beauty by Robin McKinley, Beastly by Alex Flinn, and Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley. If anybody has more recommendations, I'd love to hear them.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Quick Update

Long time since I posted. Some day I will get better about this.

Progress on my current WIPs:

WIP #1 - Finally finished the revisions (and finally have a first page I am happy with). Planning to start a new query round soon.

WIP #2 - Finished first draft and letting sit for now. Sequel to book above. (And started the 3rd book, but trying to ignore these characters since I have other things I should be working on instead.)

WIP #3 - My primary Sven project. Finally finished first draft (way past the 70 days) and have started the second draft. I'm really happy with the first half of this book, but the second half has a few holes and several plotty things I'm probably going to change. I know basically what I need to do though, so hopefully getting the book into shape won't take too long.

Also, I've read a lot of wonderful books lately. If you haven't read the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld, you must. I had put off reading these despite the many recommendations because the basic premise (a world where everyone has plastic surgery to look pretty) didn't sound all that interesting to me, but these books are amazing. I devoured the entire series within days. I love it when I find books like this that I can't put down because they are just that good. So happy-making. I would say more, but I don't want to be spoilery, so you'll just have to read the books for yourself.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Haiku Query

And you thought condensing your book into a one-page query letter was hard.

Colleen Lindsay is holding a haiku query contest over on her blog, The Swivet.

Here's my entry:

Teen girl loves cursed boy
Impossible, his touch kills
Cult wants his power

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers

By Renni Browne and Dave King Buy this book, if you are a writer that is. I finally bought it after repeatedly seeing it recommended on writing and publishing blogs, so I thought I'd add my recommendation, too. Even though I've heard much of the included information before, I still found it extremely helpful. The examples are great, the explanations clear, and I especially liked their chapter on Show and Tell. The checklists at the end of each chapter are also great tools.


I really don't update this blog often enough.

WIP current total word count - 55,029
Final Sven word count - 44,410

So, I didn't reach my Sven goal of 60,000 words or finish either of the WIPs I'd hoped to complete during the 70 days of sweat, but that's okay because I'm really happy with the progress I did make and I know it won't take me long to get the last bits done on both of those first drafts once I get back to working on them.

So what have I been doing instead? Revising, revising, revising and more revising. On a novel I thought was finished and perfect last summer. But after entering my first page in Miss Snark's First Victim's Secret Agent contest last November, I decided to make a few revisions to the beginning, which then required some revisions throughout the rest of the first chapter, which then led to more revisions get the idea. I'd been planning to put off working on this until after I finished the first drafts of my other WIPs, but after entering another Secret Agent contest and getting more feedback, I started making changes and I've been stuck in Revisionland ever since. This is a good thing though. The book is stronger, and it really does help to have had some distance from it. Although I've rewritten the first page somewhere around oh, 10,000 times by now, and I'm still not completely happy with it. I missed getting into the latest Secret Agent round because I was still fiddling with it by the time the submissions filled up, so I may just post it here in case anyone is interested.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Love, love, love this book. I discovered Kristin Cashore's blog several months ago and have been hearing tons of good things about Graceling. I finally got a chance to read her book and wasn't disappointed. I hate spoilers, so I won't say much about the story, but it reminded me somewhat of Robin McKinley's Damar books. Strong female protagonist, delicious romance. Highly recommended, even to people who don't normally read epic fantasy.


Wow. Didn't realize it had been quite that long since I posted.

A quick update on my progress:

WIP total: 48,463, Sven total: 37,845

Not sure I'm going to make 60,000 by Jan. 26, but I am still hoping to finish this WIP. A week off at Christmas to visit family slowed down my momentum, but I've figured out what needs to happen in the rest of the story (more or less) so I should be able to get this done.

I also started tearing apart and re-plotting an older WIP. I'd always planned to go back and rework this project at some point in the future (not right now), but last week I had a sudden burst of inspiration and ended up writing about 3,000+ new words and slashing about half of what I had before. I'm removing a major plot thread and several characters, while keeping my main characters and the basic story the same. Getting this in decent shape will require a lot of work, but I know exactly what changes I need to make now and I'm excited to get back to this story as soon as I finish up the others that need my attention first.