Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Baker's Dozen Agent Auction Won My Heart

It's been an emotional day.

Ever since daylight savings I've had a pretty messed up sleep schedule. It's only an hour difference, and this last one was the good one when we gained back that hour we lost in the spring, but somehow it gt me so messed up that I'm now going to bed at 2pm and waking up at 9pm or so. This isn't really a big deal as I work from home and I tend to work better in the wee hours of the morning anyway (fewer distractions?)

So when the 2nd Baker's Dozen Agent Auction opened this morning at 10am, I started out in awe of Authoress and Jodi Meadows who worked so hard to whittle down all those entries and extremely grateful that my entry for THE STARS FELL SIDEWAYS was chosen. I didn't make the cut last year, so that was already a huge honor just to be listed along with the other wonderful writers.

I got a TON of really helpful critique comments leading up to the start day and I'm totally thankful for everyone who took the time to comment on my little book. I knew my logline was off, and didn't know how to fix it (even editors are too close to their own work sometimes!) and some very wonderful people gave amazing help. All in the spirit of community.

But then six minutes into the auction, I got a bid. I wasn't expecting anything for a long time, as I was number 56 out of 60 entries and I figured it would take a while for the agents to go down their lists and pick out which ones they wanted to bid on. The auction goes for a whole 24 hours and I thought, 'well maybe after all the good ones get bid on, one of them might take a look at mine and make a bid...'

And then five minutes later I got another bid. From another agent. I about died with happiness.

And a minute later there was another bid, from ANOTHER agent.

And a minute after that, the first agent bid again, doubling the amount of requested pages.

Lots of congratulatory tweets came in, lots of SQUEE-ing went on, and I'm pretty sure I freaked Mollie Pup out with all my gasping and yelling and general celebrating. I turned into one of those authors that goes spastic.

I seriously thought that I had fallen asleep and that I was going to wake up and all of the happy would be gone. I was afraid to tweet. I could only send thank yous and O_O out.

I was in awe of the first agent, Lauren MacLeod, who felt so passionate about it that she took the risk to bid against herself (the other agents might've been waiting to sneak in the full request first!) all the way up to A FULL REQUEST. Less than half an hour in and my auction was closed.

Utterly bewildering.

I didn't have any words. And then I found out that DNA's own Erica Chapman got a full request too!

The seriously amazing thing about today was how much hope was floating around. Everyone was encouraging and really enjoying the playful banter of the agents and dreams were realized. How many people can seriously say that three agents fought over their book? How many people get full requests less than half an hour in? I'm totally in awe of everything today.

And so I did what any writer would do in that situation, and I took a nap. Six hours later, I woke up and refreshed my auction page repeatedly. Maybe the agents got confused in all the excitement and bid on the wrong book. Maybe they'd find something wrong and I'd be disqualified. Maybe this, maybe that, maybe I had dreamt it after all.

Me, the agent intern, the one who should know better, who knows that agents are real people too, couldn't even look at the agent profiles without spazzing and stressed about replying to a DM one of the agents sent me. I totally get it. I have a newfound respect for the spazzy authors out there. It was all I could do to keep it together.

And all day, things have been making me cry. The Biggest Loser contestants crossing the finish line after running a marathon, the peaceful way Mollie looks when she's sleeping, the Celtic Women that I came across while flipping channels for background noise, those Humane Society commercials... (oh, wait, those always make me weepy...)

Huge thank yous go out to my fellow DNA ladies. I wouldn't have got this little book written without you guys, especially Shelley and Brenda and Erica.

Big thanks to the writing community at large for being so amazing.

And OM freakin' G, HUGE congrats to Erica for her own full request!

C.A. Marshall is a freelance editor, lit agent intern, YA writer, and loves to play with her dog Mollie. She dreams of one day owning a small house near the water, preferably in England, with a shelf full of books she has written and has helped others to write. She is currently single. And unagented. She can be found in Emmett, MI, at camarshall.com for writing, editorcassandra.com for editing, and on twitter @CA_Marshall.

Friday, December 02, 2011

NaNo--the Good, the Bad & the Possible

Hi Everyone!

Ha. I bet you thought I was going to say UGLY up there in the title. Gotta switch it up once in a while!

I know it's been like a century since I've blogged here. Did you miss me?

I didn't think so. LOL

So. Since NaNo is now officially concluded I thought I would share my thoughts. I didn't finish. I know. I've finished the last two years, but I got a little sidetracked this year. It happens.

But... there are a lot of great things I've learned about NaNo in the past three years of participating.

The Good

NaNo is a deadline that thousands and thousands of people are trying to make. What more motivation do you need? Normally the deadlines you're given or the ones you give yourself, you are making them on your own. Solidarity Sistas and Brothas. *fistbump*

You don't have time to analyze your crap-writing. You just have to keep sludging (not a word, I know, but it fit...) through.

I like obsessing over my word count on the NaNoWriMo website. A little friendly competition never hurt anyone.

The Bad

Most of the time you have a seriously crappy draft when you're done. Which means a seriously LONG amount of revising.

When you give up, those thousands and thousands of people writing with you, know it.

You worry you won't go back to the draft. No? Just me?

Sometimes writing fast like that isn't the right way for someone and they find that out. That's okay, at least you know, right?

The Possible

You finish. YAY!

You revise the novel for *cough* 11 months then you are finally ready to query.

The same book you wrote in 22 days gets an agent (I'm not speaking about myself anymore if you can't tell *wink*)

It goes on to sell and make the NYT Bestsellers list. (Dream big, people)

Have a great weekend!!!

erica m. chapman is a YA writer by night, workin' for the cause by day. Fan of football, especially Lions and Michigan. She loves alternative music, Foo Fighters, animals, reading, golf and playing her guitar. She resides in Michigan where she sits quietly typing her next story on her macbook in her Detroit Lions Snuggie. You can also find her at ericachapman.com.

Pic Credit

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Avoiding Blogger Burnout: Tips and Tricks to Stay Motivated

When I first started blogging, I was nervous. I remember the excitement and worry of each new post. I remember wondering if anyone would even read my posts, and being insecure about what they would think. I wondered if I might be brave enough to use my real name someday or --gasp-- my real picture. Then people started commenting. And following. And I wondered who the people were who commented and followed. I wondered what their blogs were like and what they wrote.

Eventually I made friends and saw them use real names... real pictures... before I knew it, so did I. Then along came Twitter and my world grew even larger. Thanks to Blogger and Twitter, I've made some of the closest friendships of my life. I've also found community in an otherwise rather lonely writing world.

But as time went on, blogging became less of a joy and more of a burden. I could easily go days or weeks without even thinking about it.

Is that such a bad thing? My blog is mine, a pseudo-personal space for me to be wholly and completely a writer. Non-online life takes precedent, and there are a multitude of other distractions online to keep a writer from his or her blog. Not to mention, well... the writing of the novel itself. Is the blog really even necessary?

Maybe not, but writing in any form exercises the mind. There is something to be said for the discipline of maintaining a blog and the ability to hold an audience. So, how do you stay motivated? Here are a few tips and tricks to try:

1. Create a Schedule

By setting a specific day and time when you sit down with your blog, you'll be less likely to accidentally go long periods without an update. Readers may also find it useful to know that you have a given day when fresh content will be up.

2. Slow Down

Some bloggers can write a daily blog post. I admit that I started this way during my first few months of blogging. But sustaining that kind of content long-term may not be realistic. Try setting a goal of weekly updates, and if anything extra comes up you can always add it in or schedule the post so you're ahead.

3. Drop the Guilt

There are so many fantastic blogs written by amazing people. It's not possible to visit them all, much less comment on all of them. When you do find a moment to read a blog, sometimes clicking the Share button is faster than commenting, and you can still show the author that you enjoyed their content. And the bottom line is, if you don't have time to get to other people's blogs, that's okay. They'll understand, just as you do.

4. Take a Break

Taking a step away from blogging can leave you feeling refreshed and ready to come back. If you know when you'll be back, leave a message on your page letting your readers know. If after some time you see that you're still not motivated to come back, you can always set your blog to "subscribed readers only" until you return. Your blog and all of its content will be right where you left them whenever you come back.

5. Redesign

Giving your blog a new look or adding a themes to posts ("Friday Faves", "Music Monday") can make your blog feel fun and new again.

6. Out of Ideas?

This might be the biggest hurdle to overcome. In most cases, people find websites in order to get something out of them.... specific information. But with most writer blogs I've seen, blogs are places to share about oneself; a mix between a living resume and a reflection of what's going on in that writer's life. The times I'm drawn into someone's blog voice, I tend to remember them and return. I want to be entertained. Think about why you visit someone's blog. Did you click a link on Twitter because the blog post sounded interesting? Did you want to hear opinions, or find out what a new follower was like? Did you just want to find another writer to relate to? Use these questions as jumping off points for your own blog posts because your blog is being treated similarly by other writers-- let's face it, our audience for our blog is the writing community. Take a look at your stats and see which pages have gotten the most traffic. It might surprise you.

7. Ask Yourself Why You Blog

Do you blog because you feel you have to? You may want to read this post by agent Mary Kole:Do Unpublished Writers Have to Blog? I've read other agents who differ in opinion, but the truth ultimately is, your novel matters more than you do in fiction. Blog about your cats or knitting or a day at the beach if it brings you joy, but not if it's because you feel it's the only way you'll get a book deal. Writing a great book is the only way any of us will get a book deal.

In case you're wondering, here's why I blog (pulled from my blog's sidebar):
I'm reclusive in the non-online world. I have to force myself to interact with others, though I can fake it convincingly in social settings. The truth is, I'm always drawn more to the world in my mind than the world around me... I prefer it here. I'm comfortable. But I do still want to share. I do enjoy community. I like the understanding that comes from talking to other writers. I want to find others like myself and commiserate, offer companionship, experience camaraderie and ultimately feel like I'm not all alone. So that's why I blog. And tweet. :P

~ ~ ~
Diana Paz is a web content writer and aspiring YA author. She was born in Costa Rica, grew up on Miami Beach, moved to Los Angeles in high school, and went to college in San Diego. Basically, she's a beach bum, but she did graduate from California State University, San Marcos with a Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Arts. She loves old movies, epic fantasy, all kinds of music, and heading to the beach with a good book. Preferably sipping a caramel frappuccino. Find her at her blog:dianapazwrites.blogspot.com or on Twitter @dianapazwrites

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NaNoWriMo ... getting stuffed on filler and filter words

It's day fourteen of NaNoWriMo and I'm a bit behind. I'm working hard to get the word count back up to goal. I lost a couple of days due to family time. What I'm noticing after I write, and look back at what I've put on the page, is the use of filler and filter words. So many. I'm not worrying about them right now, I'll remove them during revisions.

Here's a few examples of the filler words I'm seeing in my work...
  • uh
  • you know
  • well
  • um
  • so
  • like
  • to look
  • to walk
Filter words--words that show us how the world is filtered through the character's view--look like this...
  • to be
  • to hear
  • to see
  • to smell
  • to touch
  • to know
  • to think
Here's an example from my NaNoWriMo project ...
With filter: I heard a gasp slip from Hudson. "What's happening?"
Without filter: Hudson gasped. "What's happening?"

If your character is seeing or hearing the action first and then the action happens, the action is being filtered through your character. This is show instead of tell. Of course, I'll be editing those out during revisions too. I try not to use them in the first draft, but writing a draft in a month, things are going to go bad. Very bad. Not to mention, my verbs are being supported by adverbs because they're so weak they need a crutch.

The magic happens during revision. Plus, using filter words certainly does add to my word count. Not only that, but they are there so that when I revise, I know what I was trying to describe. It's during the revision, when I'm not as rushed, that I'll find the perfect, magical word that can replace my bad writing. It's called a verb.

So what habits do you notice you do while writing your first drafts? 

Monday, October 31, 2011

A story from the crypt...

So it's Halloween and because I'm preparing for NaNaWriMo, I've decided to brush the dust off an old excerpt from the crypt, er, hard drive. I had entered it in a blogfest awhile back. It's a re-imaging of Bluebeard. I hope you enjoy it!


"I can't believe you're finally here," Anne says, grabbing a stuffed mushroom off the plate.

"Jet lag is an understatement," I go. "I had to stay up all night to get that stupid report done before I left."

"Girl, I don't care how tired you are. We are so going to shut this town down tonight."

Her friends bore me. They're all small town and back woodsy. I watch and wonder as Anne chatters to her new friends. This little town stuff really suits her. I smile. She's happy in her life with Brian.

"So who's the eye candy over there," I say, raising the martini glass to my lips and taking a long sip.

"That's Jack Bluebeard," Anne goes. "You should avoid him. He's been married several. . ." 

I'm already up from my seat before she finishes that last bit. My approach to his table is total vixen-like and his eyes follow me until I bridge the distance between us.

"Hi, I'm Fatima. May I join you?"

The intensity in his dark eyes captivates me, and I slide into the chair beside him. That slow, sexy grin ensnarls me and before long, I'm lost in conversation with him. He's cute, and according to Anne, he's the richest man in town. What's not to love?

That was the night I met Bluebeard--as his friends like to call him. It was a whirlwind romance. Less than three months and we were married. A day after the honeymoon my nightmare began.

I went from a career girl to his slave, quitting my job and friends. Let's see, his dinner must be ready precisely at six, his under shorts and bed sheets ironed before used, and his insatiable desires satisfied each night, or he's a beast to live with. Oh, and I'm forbidden from entering his secret room. No wonder one wife went off with a man she met on twitter, another wife went home to her mother, and his third wife joined the Peace Corps.

I glance at the clock and exhale. Bluebeard's meeting with his accountant just started. My husband works from home so I'm never alone. The moment's freedom feels good.

Anne knocks at the side door. I let her in.

"Hey," she goes, looking me up and down. "You look awful."

"That's why you're here. We only have an hour."

She grabs the suitcase in the middle of the kitchen. "Well, let's hurry then."

I follow her to the door and stop. "Shit, I forgot my purse up stairs. I'll be right back."

"Just hurry, already."

I'm about to take the first step on the stairs and there's Bluebeards office keys on the carpet. I pick them up and rush up the staircase. I know it's not the greatest idea, but I'm curious about what the jerk keeps in that damn room. I slide the key into the lock, and it clicks open. My shaky hand pushes the heavy door wider. Air rushes out in a gust. A moldy stench punches my face and I practically gag. There's barely any light coming from the heavily draped windows.

The sight of them makes me scream. I hear Anne scramble up the stairs. The bodies are like white ghosts hanging from hooks on the wall, dust floating around them like smoke. Rusty stains streak their naked paleness. They all resemble me, long and slender with large breast. Heads tilted to one side, their frozen eyes watch me.

Anne gasps from behind me. "They're Jack Bluebeard's wives."

I stand there unable to move.

Anne grabs my arm. "Let's get out of here. The dude is seriously unstable."

The front door opens and slams below us.

I pull from her and walk across the floor leaving a trail in the plaster dust.

She follows.

"They're so beautiful," I say and run my finger down the cold cheek of one.

His footfalls announce his arrival before he actually stops in the door frame.

"What are you doing in here?" his angry voice reaches out to me.

I spin to face him. "What is all this?"

His shoulders sag. "It's my art."

"Why is there blood all over them?" I turn back, my eyes finding the statues once again.
"It's not blood. It's from the roof damage a few years back."

"I don't understand. Why?"

He moves into the room. Anne scurries over to the window.

"When they left me I was devastated. Capturing their imagines in sculpture was therapeutic for me. Fatima, I know I'm controlling and possessive but I want to change. I don't have a meeting with my accountant. I have one with a therapist. I forgot my medical card, so I came back for it. Please don't leave me. Give me another chance. I promise--"

"Maybe since you have more money than God," Anne begins. "You could get a damn maid to iron your underwear."

"Stay out of this, Anne."

"I'll do anything," he pleads.

In this dim light, the shadows touch all the beautiful sharp edges of his face. His blue eyes hold me, begging me to love him. I glance at the victims of his love. Their lips are all the same, corners up, bottom lip plump. They're perfect except for the rust that stains them. His love ruined them. He's locked them away for no one to see. Kept for only his greed. Do people really change? Bluebeard's eyes are watching me but he never truly sees me.

"I'm sorry it's just too late," I say and push past him. "Come on, Anne."

The clicks of Anne's heels follow me through the hallway and down the stairs. I grab the handle of my suitcase and drag it after me. 

 Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Something That Scares the Sh*t Out of Me. No, not literally.

This has ALWAYS scared the sh*t out of me. Sleep tight. <3<3

This too. OMG

HAPPY HALLOWEEN in 10 days!!!

erica m. chapman is a YA writer by night, workin' for the cause by day. Fan of football, especially Lions and Michigan. She loves alternative music, Foo Fighters, animals, reading, golf and playing her guitar. She resides in Michigan where she sits quietly typing her next story on her macbook in her Detroit Lions Snuggie. You can also find her at ericachapman.com.

Monday, October 17, 2011

NaNoWriMo Preparation

I finally have an idea for a story to write during NaNoWriMo. Yay! Now, I'm busy thinking about the plot and the characters I will write about. For me, I have to know my characters before I even start writing the story. The first step, is picking a name, and for some reason, this is proving hard for me.

My critique and blogger partner here on DNA Writers, Erica, has her names all picked out. Why am I having such a hard time? Well, I'm limited. The picture above is a hint about the theme for my new story. I want my characters to have names that go with the theme and fit their personality. To me, the name of a character is pivotal. I'm sure I will find the perfect ones, but, for now, it's giving me a headache.

The next part of my preparation is jotting down a plot arc and determining settings. After I know what characters and settings I'll be working with, I'll fill a note book full of pictures, bios, and scenes. It really helped last year to have the story note book with me while I wrote. I had a plan, and I worked from it, which kept me on schedule. I could see an image of my character to help me describe her or him. And, through the pictures of settings I had, I could imagine the places where my characters interacted in.

Sure, I could probably just put words down on page until I reach 50K, but that's not me. When November is over, I want to have a viable arc developed, and all I have to do is add some meat to the story.

That's it, for now. Next time, I'll talk about plot.

So, are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? And, if you are, how do you prepare for it?

You can find Brenda on her blog: http://brenleedrake@blogspot.com 
or on twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/brendadrake