Saturday, August 25, 2012

Welcome to the World, Cora

My love - Born 19 August 2012
Taking a hiatus to care for my baby for a bit.  Good luck with your writing endeavors!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Free Writing Conference - Starts next week!

WriteOnCon is a free conference that officially begins Tuesday, August 14th (although they are accepting work for critiques on Monday) and runs through Wednesday, August 15th.

I have never participated in this conference in the past, but having checked out the website, it looks like a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the craft and the business and it's FREE!  (I love ALL things free.)  Even though I go back to school on Wednesday, I plan on checking it out.  There are scheduled events throughout both days and a transcript available of discussions that you might miss.  Great, right?

Here is their website for more information:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Another Great Read

As I’ve mentioned before, my reading habits have been different these past nine months (only two more weeks or so until the baby’s arrival!).  But I have managed to do some reading this summer without falling asleep. 

The novel City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare, which I’ve been meaning to read all year, kept me up into the wee hours of the night (and that hasn’t happened in, well, nine months!).  This is the fourth book in the Mortal Instruments series.  I read the first three a couple of years ago and thought that it was a trilogy.  I was surprised this past year when a fourth book came out.  

Cassandra Clare is able to do something truly amazing.  She is able to keep me interested in vampires, witches, demons, etc.  I have to admit to have had my fill of these paranormal creatures.  I tried reading Deborah Harkness's Discovery of Witches a few months ago, but rolled my eyes or gagged every few pages (possibly even more often than that).  The characters are cheeeeeeeeeessssssyyyyyy.  I finally couldn't handle it anymore and had to stop reading.  I know this puts me in the minority since this book was a big hit, but to me, Clare's work is far more exciting!  And most importantly, her characters are interesting and complicated and likable.  (Okay, I can tell this is a blog entry for another day, so back to the topic.)

Simon is adjusting to life as a vampire, which isn't easy considering he doesn't want to drink human blood and he knows that he will live forever - far beyond that of his friends and family.  Add to that the fact that he is impossible to kill due to the curse that Clary put on him and it is obvious to see why he struggles with his identity and is intrigued when one of the oldest vampires attempts to persuade him into helping her reclaim her New York clan.  

Meanwhile, Clary and Jace are having problems of their own.  Even though they are able to be together now (none of those pesky incest fears anymore), life still isn't rosy.  Jace is pulling away from her for reasons that she doesn't understand and he won't talk to her about it (which, I'll admit, gets a bit frustrating at times).  Jace is having vivid dreams in which he kills Clary and is afraid there is evil lurking inside of him since he was raised by a vicious, ambitious killer himself.  

Action-packed from beginning to end, this was another book that I sped through despite my pregnancy exhaustion and while I love the three original books best, I did enjoy this.  The ending, in particular, was intense - a cliffhanger that is sure to send me to the bookstore for the City of Lost Souls.

And if you like the Mortal Instruments series, then check out the Infernal Devices series in which some familiar characters make an appearance.  Infernal Devices is set in the Victorian Period and has similar elements to the Mortal Instruments – shadowhunters, vampires, fae, etc. – but is definitely unique and interesting.  In these books, zombie-like, robotic machines do their evil master’s bidding.  Cool, huh?

Check both series out and enjoy!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Let's Start the Countdown!

This is entirely unrelated to writing or reading, but is totally exciting (and terrifying) to me.  After our doctor's visit today - we are about 37 weeks along - we learned that the baby could come any time now!

Just last night, I looked at my husband and said, "We're going to have a baby in three weeks."

He looked back at me and said, "Wow."

And I responded with, "Holy crap.  That's soon."

But now, it appears things are progressing along even more quickly and Baby Wilson may be making her debut even earlier.  The doctor predicts we will not make it until August 24th with how far along we are already.

We're just keeping our fingers crossed that she doesn't come while he's out of town next week!

I'm feeling a mixture of emotions.  Fear:  Yikes!  I'm scared!  I'm not ready!  There is still more to do! I'm going to be a crappy parent!  Life will never be the same!  I need more time!

And excitement:  Yeah!  After all of this time, I'm finally going to meet her!  I wonder who she'll look like?  I'm going to love her.  I can't wait!

I just wanted to share or really, unload.   Wish us luck!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Join the Challenge!

Laurie Halse Anderson - bestselling, award-winning author of Speak, Catalyst, Chains, Forge, and many others - has launched her 5th Annual Write 15 Minutes a Day Challenge for the month of August.

For each of us, life sometimes gets in the way of our writing, but this challenge is a great way to get back into it without feeling overwhelmed.  15 minutes is VERY doable!  And not only that, it will often lead to more time spent writing.  I know that I have trouble stopping once I start and this challenge gives me the jumpstart that I need.

For more details and to participate in the challenge, go to Anderson's blog at Mad Woman in the Forest Blog.

On a side note, Anderson is also a supporter of the NaNoWriMo project that occurs in November.  As an educator, I was thrilled to discover that the project also offers a Young Writers Program for classrooms.  I've already forwarded this information on to my principal in my excitement to get my future 7th graders writing a novel this year.  If you, too, are interested in learning more, go to NaNoWriMo and the Young Writers Program.

Now, get writing!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Hourglass - A fast summer read

One of the things I love about YA fiction is that it can be powerful, gripping, and meaningful all at the same time, without taking itself too seriously.  Does anyone else feel that some adult fiction tries too hard to be "literary" and just comes across as boring or pretentious?  Not young adult fiction.  The characters' voices are real, even when the genre is science fiction.  It has heart and soul.  But don't get me wrong, it can be equally - if not more - vivid, descriptive, prosaic than many of the adult fiction novels are.  It just feels more seamless and less showy.  And no offense to adult fiction authors.  I definitely don't feel that way about all of them.  I have many favorite adult authors as well.

One of the YA books that I've read this summer was fantastical, but set in the modern time which gives it the right amount of believability.  I love to imagine the possibility that these supernatural or magical elements could actually exist in our mundane world.

This book, which I couldn't put down (Hurray!  Since getting pregnant, anything that keeps me awake past ten pages is WONDERFUL!) - was Hourglass by Myra McEntire.  I thought it would be a ghost story since the main character, Emerson Cole, seems to have visions of the past.  It turns out, she's a time traveller.  Cool concept, right?  Her dark past and emotional baggage kept me interested in her and the characters she meets in her journey to understand herself and her abilities are mysterious and interesting as well.

These other characters, who also happen to have "powers," find Emerson and ask for her help in saving the life of their beloved scholar and friend.  He was murdered in a fire months before.  Emerson agrees to help them return to the past to pull him out before it's too late.  There is a bit of a love triangle to spice up her personal life - although it is pretty obvious from the start who her top choice is.  Also, there is the obligatory villain (fire-starter) to complicate her life.  However, things are not exactly as they seem, which adds a nice twist to the plot.

I did have trouble at times wrapping my mind around the time travel technicalities - I always have gotten a bit confused with this topic, so it's probably just me.  But this novel was worth reading for simple enjoyment - nothing too taxing or deep or emotional, which is exactly what I needed at the time.

If you get the chance, read this book.  It goes by quickly and is a nice break from real life.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The BEST advice I've received on the Query Letter YET!

This advice wasn't given to me personally.  It is actually on an agent's blog that I follow, Pub Rants, by Kristin Nelson.  I came across it during my research on agents and agencies and I have to pass it along because it has helped me SO MUCH!

I have been working on my query letter obsessively for the past few days.  I am not exaggerating when I say "obsessively."

In fact, I was in such a mind fog yesterday afternoon that when my husband called me on his way home for work, I think drool might have been oozing from my mouth as I stared at the computer screen.  By then words were running together and all sentences had lost their meaning.  I hadn't even realized until he called that I had spent the ENTIRE DAY working on ONE letter.

Garrett came to my rescue, though.  (My night in shining armor!)  Instead of heading straight to the gym, he came home to drag me away from the computer (I resisted, even in my zombie-like state) and force me to go to the gym with him.  After an apple, a solid workout, and a visit to Babies R Us (4 1/2 weeks until she makes her debut!), I was finally able to carry on a coherent conversation.

This query stuff is tough.

I knew last night that my letter was still a long way from where it should be, but I didn't know how to fix it until I read Kristin's pitch workshop blog entries today.  She is a lifesaver!  (Garrett will be so grateful!)

Without further ado, here are the links to the posts specifically about YA query letters (which can also be found on her agency's website, Nelson Literary Agency):

1.  Pitching and all that jazz:  Introduction
2.  Blog Pitch Workshop (Part 1)
3.  Blog Pitch Workshop (Part 2)
4.  Blog Pitch Workshop (Part 3)

I hope her advice helps you as much as it has helped me.  Hopefully, I will have a decent letter by the end of the day!  (Fingers crossed!)

Good luck!