Leo's Angel Oak Tree

Saturday, December 11, 2010

TRUNK NOVELS: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY



Today, we are talking about trunk novels.  Yes, we all have them, but what can we do with them?  Are they so awful that they can't be revitalized.  It's strange to me that we loved the idea enough to write the ENTIRE novel, but when they don't get published or even requested, we toss them into our closet, on a shelf somewhere, under the bed, or even worse, line the pages at the bottom of a bird cage and never think about them again. 

I think we can all agree that the writing is weak (dare I say, awful), the plot needs help, the characters are stagnant, and maybe the whole thing lacks a certain spice.  However, do we ever remember the joy we had writing those words.  Can't we dust them off, dissect them, and rewrite?

I'm thinking of my first trunk novel, and what I loved about it was the characters.  At the time, I loved their voices.  But, I threw it to the trunk because well you always hear that your first novel written never gets published.  Well, I'm here to say that I'm a much better writer now than I was then, so why can't I pull that bad boy out and revise!  Isn't that what REVISION means!

So, I'd like to hear the good, bad, and the ugly about your trunk novels!!  Leave a Comment and let's discuss!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wait for it....

It's Official!!  I am a NaNoWriMo 2010 Winner!!  YAY!

After much frustration, more stress, lots of scenes dancing in my head, and many more steamy scenes with my main man, LEO (swoon!!), I have reached my goal of at least 50,000 words by the end of NaNoWriMo!

So here's my cheezy acceptance speech:  (Ready?)

I would like to thank the many writer friends who have encouraged me every step of the way from my Twitter Followers, Facebook Friends, and Blog Followers. Also, to my students, who asked every morning what my word count was!! To my hubbs, who loves me enough to give me time to write!

And last but not least, I couldn't forget to thank my fingers who never quit typing even when it would have been VERY easy to do!

My November rocked hard core! So, now I am giving it a rest until January when I can go back and cut most of the words I've written to make this bad boy shine!

Meanwhile, I will be revising and editing LOVESTRUCK to prepare for querying!

Stay tuned...I plan on posting some of this accomplishment on my blog and also hosting a blogfest. A THANK GOD NOVEMBER IS OVER blogfest! So tell everyone you know to keep coming back for the details!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Blog Award!!!

One of my very cool buds gave me a blog award for my NaNoWriMo success story!  Thanks Margo!

So, I'm paying it forward...


I have to tell you all five things I love and send the award on to five other bloggers.  So here goes:

1. Love my Hubbs and my Doggies
2. Love my Fourth Graders
3. Love movies and all things entertainment
4. Love writing steamy scenes
5. Love BOOKS!!!!!

So, I am passing this award to the following bloggers: 

1. Alison Miller: Because you were sooooo much fun at SCWW!!!
2. Roni Loren : Because you live in TEXAS!!
3. Kathryn Kupanoff : Great Post on Quality or Quantity
4. Jessica Stanford: for your post on Hermione Granger!
5. Dawn Embers: For being just SO COOL!!

Congrats for making me smile, laugh, and write!!! Hats off to you!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My NaNoWriMo Experience

Boy, oh, Boy!! The month of November is halfway over, and NaNoWriMo is still going strong.  So far, it is going well.  It was just the kick in the pants I needed to get back to the computer again. It has had its hiccups though. 

November 1st: The FIRST DAY

I was soooooooooo excited to get started.  I sat down after work, got my notes and plot outline, and started writing.  The flow was smooth and I was hammering out a masterpiece (yeah, right?). At least I was getting words on the page! I was about 1,234 words in, very close to my goal of 1,667 words, when the Scrivener for Windows beta version I was using deleted every word in front of my eyes. Yeah, I know! Well, I opened another window and tried to access my saved file (I had been saving every five minutes!) and that file was empty too.  I literally cried! 

Now don't get me wrong.  I love Scrivener and want a full version.  It's a great piece of software for writers.  I love the plot corkboard.  I just had a glitch.  Anyhoo...I lost everything and reported the bug!

Now, I could have stopped right there, went to bed, and doubled up the next day.  BUT...my Fourth Grade class was counting on me to make my goal.  So, I stayed up until almost two in the morning to finish my word count.  I did, so YAY! I also saved it in three different locations in MS Word!!

Since that memorable first day, I have written everyday, made my goals, and have loved every minute of NaNoWriMo! I even opened it up to my class and 16 out of 20 students signed-up as well.  We are having a write-in this week in class, and I can't wait!!

So, are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year?  If so, buddy me, okay!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

THE FIRST TWO PAGES

If you're like almost every writer in the world, those first two pages of your new manuscript are hell to perfect, and they are so important to whether you get published or not.  It's the first impression of your writing style (and your characters) an industry professional gets, so you better make them great!

At the recent South Carolina Writer's Workshop Conference in Myrtle Beach, I was one of a lucky 20 people you got to learn from one classy literary agent, Suzie Townsend from Fineprint Literary Management. Ms. Townsend took us through the essential parts and purposes of those first two pages.  Here's what I learned:

The first two pages should:

1) Begin with a hook: A OMG first line that makes the reader stand up and pay attention.
2) Create an interesting character & plot.
3) Create a sense of intrigue.
4) Create investment in the characters.

The first two pages serve several functions:

1.)Establishes character's voice.
2) Establishes the conflict.
3) Establishes the tone.
4) Indicates the setting.

Then, she asked us to answer this question for our hook:

DOES YOUR FIRST LINE CATCH THE READER OFF GUARD?

She gave us several examples of FANTASTIC first pages.  Here are just a few:

1) The Electric Church by Jeff Somers
2) Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
3) You  by Charles Benoit
4) The Lovely Bones   by Alice Sebold

This was an outstanding intensive workshop. Take a look at your first two pages with these things in mind, and see where you can improve!

THANK YOU SUZIE TOWNSEND for a AWESOME workshop!! Your clients are lucky to have you!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

South Carolina Writer's Conference Update

Good things come to those who wait, and I hit the jackpot going to the SCWW conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina this past weekend. I FINALLY got to meet my wonderful critique partner, Margo.  I flew in from Texas, and she flew in from Idaho!  We had a blast.  She is so nice and motivating.  We kept each other going through the entire conference.

Then, I had total fangirl moments all weekend. I met Suzie Townsend, Meredith Barnes, Diana Fox, Susan Hawk, and Rachelle Gardiner.  I could hardly contain myself.  They were all so fabulous!!! I learned great tips and got personalized attention from each one.  The advice will surely make me a better writer.

On Saturday, Joshilyn Jackson spoke as the keynote speaker, and she was so inspiring.  I laughed so hard, I cried.  She writes those killer first lines all writers swoon over.  Check out her website at http://www.joshilynjackson.com/.

Also, I met some wonderful writers (Shout out to Alison, Andrienne, Margo, and Heather!).  We survived the ice cold, teeth-chattering classrooms and came out more inspired!  And thanks to Suzie Townsend, we are able of write killer queries and OMG (startingly good) first two pages!

I will definitely attend next year, and so should all of you!!!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Getting into Character!!!

I can't believe I haven't written a post since July, but there is a reason. I didn't fall off the writing horse intentionally. On August 15th, I was stricken with a Iritis flare-up. It is like arthritis of the eye.  I was pretty much incapacitated for two months.  It is very light sensitive, and it hurt too much to even look at a computer screen.  Talk about painful!!  But, it is now getting better (with steroid drops every hour and dilating my eye four times a day), and I'm now able to type on my computer again.  I have missed you all.  It definitely wasn't the best time to be put in the dark (literally).  I had hopes of finishing my Ms for a writing conference I am attending in a couple of weeks.  But, alas, I don't think it will be even nearly ready. 

I'm very excited about this conference because I will finally get to meet my Writing Critique Partner, Margo!! (Shout out to Margo!!).  Also, one of my favorite agents to follow, Suzie Townsend, is scheduled to be there.  I soooooooo want to meet her! Her Twitter wars with Janet Reid are legendary and she is a top notch agent. I am hoping to pitch my new novel to see if it would even be something she is interested in seeing when I'm finished.

But enough about what's happening to me these days...now on to the real reason for my post.  I want to talk about getting into character.

As a writer, I am mostly drawn to writing in first person POV.  Everything I have written thus far has been done in this style, but my new Ms began to flow for me as a third person revolving POV between two characters.  However, the glitch for me is...writing in third person POV made it hard for me to get into character.  I was reading one my chapter critiques from Margo for our Weekly Chapter Challenge group (YAY, WCC on Writer's Digest!), and I started noticing a pattern. Her comments all rotating around getting into the head of my characters.  So, I asked myself...do I know him at all?  I feel like sometimes I'm writing him as an outsider when I should be writing him the same way I wrote in first person POV.  My aha moment!

Not to mention, I was at the Smart Chicks Tour in Austin a couple of weeks ago with some fabulous authors (Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Alyson Noel, Kelley Armstrong, Melissa Mar, and Rachel Caine), and Alyson Noel said the most intriguing thing about writer's block. She said when she got stuck in the writing process (she doesn't call it writer's block), she goes back into her notebook and writes the scene in first person, really fledging out how the character would feel in that moment.  Then, she uses that to help her go forward.  WOW! That's exactly what I need to do!  

So, even though third person feels like a foreign way to write most of the time, it should never get in the way of getting into character!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Weekly Chapter Challenge Update!

It's been a few weeks since I've written an update on my Weekly Chapter Challenge!  Sorry about that everyone. 

I have finished my edits and revisions to SOLSTICE.  The manuscript has been sent to an editor and three agents from the WLT Agents Conference.  I have also sent out eight queries to other agents from my list.  Keep your fingers crossed for me that something will pan out.

I have completed about 5,000 more words on my current WIP, LOVESTRUCK.  It has been coming along nicely.  I am hoping that once I'm through one more chapter, my BETA BUDDIES will start critiquing it for me.  I learn so much through conversations I have with them.  It definitely keeps me focused. 

I have finished critiquing Margo's WIP, which is Fabulous!!!  I can't wait to start her new one that she just finished.  I have also started a critique on Shannon's WIP.  I love learning new tricks from reading others' work.  Things that I myself have wrestled with in my own writing.  I am a stickler for characterisation, and these ladies have great characters and dialogue!  I have to feel connected!

So, there's the update!  Catch you all on the flip side!

Monday, July 12, 2010

KidLit: Things to know!

Everyone knows I attended the Writer's League of Texas Agents Conference in June, and I wanted to write some blogs on what I learned during the panels.  Obviously, some interesting stuff!  So, here goes...

KidLit: One Hot Market:

If you are going to write kidlit (which is children's, middle grade, or young adult) you must have the following:

1) Age-appropriate Protaganists (Middle Grade: 9-12 yr  Young Adult: 12-18 yr)
2) Active Beginning: Kidlit readers want the action to start immediately!
3) No Preaching!:  Kidlit readers do not want to read a book where an adult author is trying to teach them something:  It doesn't mean you can put lessons within, but have the protaganists learn them throughout the story.  No Preaching allowed!
4) Humor: Kidlit readers get very bored, very quickly.  So, having humor (usually sarcasm) does the trick!
5) Language: Don't overuse kid language in your manuscript.  It shows you are trying too hard! Don't dabble  in text language either to the point where it gets annoying! Use sparingly!
6) Try to appeal to both genders in one manuscript: Although most YA readers are girls, the boys will read what their girlfriends read, so put some action in there as well!
7) Don't date your book with trend references:  Editors & Agents can tell that an author is adult because of the references:  Like boomboxes, television show references, actor references.  Keep it current but generic!  Also, Ipods are now a generic ageless term.  You can use as much as you like!
8) Paranormal/Urban Fantasy/Post-Apocolyptic genres are hot but over-saturated! If you write in any of these genres, find ways to make your manuscripts stand out from the pack.  Watch out for things that connect your MS to Twilight references.  Avoid those!
9) YA and MG are age groups, NOT genres: YA is young adult meaning ages 12-18, MG is middle grade meaning 9-12.
10) Find the YA voice:  If you are writing for young adults, your voice must shine through your characters so they are relateable to the readers! YA readers love and connect to CHARACTERS instead of plot! 

So, there you have it!  It was a great panel!  Thanks to Mary Colgan of Chronicle Books, Alice Tasman of Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, Inc., and Laura Mclean of Michael Larsen - Elizabeth Pomada Literary Agents. for being on this fantastic panel!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Productivity

I love the feeling of accomplishment!  When you have persevered through a difficult task and come out on top!  That's my feeling right now.  As of midnight on 4th of July, I am officially finished with revisions and edits on SOLSTICE!  Now, I know what you're all thinking: Melissa, you are never truly done until the book is printed and on the Bookstore shelf! And I agree, but I've just spent the past eight days and nights, revising and editing EVERY chapter for my submission requests from the WLT conference! And if I do say so myself, it is so much better.  Now, I can take a break from it, and write some more on my two current WIPs, TIMELESS & LOVESTRUCK!

That makes me feel very productive!  But, if my manuscript is very polished, shouldn't I can begin querying again? UGH!  I guess so!  Wish me luck everyone...I'm going into the trenches of query hell!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

WLT Conference Update!

Wow! What a whirlwind weekend at the Writer's League of Texas!  I am exhausted and so excited about all the buzz surrounding my book and the energetic, friendly writers I met while at the conference.  First, THANK YOU to the board and volunteers of the WLT.  You put on a fantastic Agents & Editors Conference in Austin the past three days.  The agents and editors were accessible and so, so friendly! 

As many of you remember, I was totally freaked out about the possibility of meeting agents that I begged for advice!  Many of you, my dedicated blog readers, gave such great advice!  All of which I followed to a tee. Well, I have to say that the agents and editors in attendance were AWESOME! As I pitched my manuscript to them, they listened intently, asked great questions about my characters and plot, and were as excited as I was about my manuscript.  Although my manuscript is an angel book, all of them told me the book premise sounded fresh and new, with great parallels and marketing strategy.  I have three requests for materials from three fantastic agents!

At the beginning of June, I submitted my first pages for an editor's consultation. I was itching for feedback on this fourth draft of my beginning (and that means I had completely rewritten my beginning 4 times, not just revised!).  The editor said it was very promising, loved my characterization and voice right away!  She has requested the manuscript! YAY!  I think what I was excited about the most was it seemed that this new beginning was spot on!  Whew!   I'm glad because I liked it, too!  It's fun and light-hearted as the reader learns about the main protagonist and her best friend. Also, I'm excited that the editor and I talked so excitedly about the characters and what would happen to them throughout the book!  I would LOVE to work with her!

So, who knows what will come about from these great contacts in the weeks ahead! But what I do know is it was well worth the money to go and meet some fabulous people in the industry!  Everyone should try to get to a conference!!

The last thing I want to mention is the fabulous writers I've met!  Some have novels complete, some are just starting out with their manuscripts.  Everyone was so nice and excouraging to me, and I just have to say thanks to them.  Email me everyone so we can stay in contact!  Big Shout outs to Joanna, Darlene, Michael, Jourden, Howard, Tiffany, Melissa, Liz, Ernie, and Christopher!

I will be posting many blogs in the coming weekends from the notes I took at the various panels. Thanks for reading and leave me a comment!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Weekly Chapter Challenge!

Hello fellow writers!  I will be attending the Writer's League of Texas Agents Conference this weekend, and I'm so excited!  It's the first chance I've had to actually come face-to-face with real Publishing Industry Members.  But before the fun commences this weekend, I wanted to take the opportunity to tell everyone about a wonderful group I found in the Writer's Digest Community.  The group is called the Weekly Chapter Challenge, and it was founded by my good friend, EJ!  (Shout out to EJ!!)

I was looking for a place to find trusted, insightful writers like myself (haha!) who I could swap chapters with and receive critiques.  I also wanted to find someone who could motivate me to keep writing, even when the characters go silent inside my head. Thanks to this group, I found two!

My weekly chapter challenge buddy is Julie Orrock Slack!  And, she is AWESOME!!  She writes historical fiction mainly, and her novel SHARDS OF GLASS, is fantastic.  We were swapping chapters with another novel she was working on, but she decided to turn all her ideas into a series of books revolving around several of her characters in SHARDS.  An idea I fully supported!  So, she has been outlining and creating character descriptions for her new series while critiquing and motivating me on my novel, SOLSTICE!  THANK YOU JULIE!  (Side plug: If you are a series writer like Julie and me, join Julie's group, Series Writing!)

A few weeks after joining the WCC group, I started swapping chapters with another writer I met on Writer's Digest.  Her novel, MANIFESTED, caught my eye on the group, Critique Corner.  In fact, Margo and I started conversing after my Fourth Grade Class critiqued her first chapter online.  Margo and I hit it off instantly since we are both YA writers.  We are coming to the end of our Chapter Swaps, and planning to continue on with another round of manuscripts!

So, long story, short: If you want to find writers that will motivate you to hammer out chapter after chapter: Join the WEEKLY CHAPTER CHALLENGE GROUP on Writer's Digest.  And tell 'em, Melissa sent you!

Here's the link: http://community.writersdigest.com/group/weeklychapterchallenge

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Advice about Writer's Conferences??

Next week, I will be attending my very first Writer's Conference.  It's the Writer's League of Texas Agents' Conference, and I am scared to death!  I have no idea what to do.  If you have ever been to a conference and you have advice, please leave a comment!!

1)How do you pitch an agent?
2)What questions should I ask during my editor's consultation?
3)What are the dos and don'ts during the meet and greets?

Help a fellow writer out, please!!!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

YouTube Video Leak!

Someone posted a video of me singing for my school's Veteran's Day Program on Youtube!  I guess it's a good thing, so check it out if you have a spare 3 minutes:



Let me know what you think?

Melissa

Monday, June 14, 2010

WRITEONCON: Free Writer's Conference

Okay!  How many of you wish you could attend a National Writing Conference only to be depressed when you see the cost of said conference?  I know, me too!!

Six ingenious authors decided to hold a free writing conference on  August 10-12,2010 for all of us poor kidlit writers (MC:18 yrs or younger).  The best part is: MANY wonderful agents, editors, and authors are going to be presenting and critiquing.  It's going to be EPIC!!

To find out more about the WRITEONCON, go to http://www.writeoncon.com/!

Thanks Jamie Harrington, Elana Johnson, Casey McCormick, Shannon Whitney Messenger, and Lisa and Laura Roecker--along with the amazing Jennifer Stayrook (a goddess of all things web design)--for your BRILLANT IDEA!!!

We thank you!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Page To Fame Contest!!

Some more good news to share...

My first page was elevated to Round Two in the Page To Fame Contest on webook.com!  To see my stats and rate it yourself, click on the link below! 

http://www.webook.com/poll/book.aspx?r=1&p=148ee9e7a2fa44bea07c6435a9643893&c=8604333.

I will be posting my first five pages soon!  Keep your fingers crossed!

Melissa

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Shout out to my BETA BUDDIES!!!

Just wanted to give a shout-out to the best BETA BUDDIES a writer can have!  Love ya'll!!!

Margo Kelly, Julie Slack, Shannon Eckrich, and Rose Ippolito! 

Watch out for these up-and-coming authors!  They ROCK!!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

FREAK OUT!!!!

Okay!  I received a full submission request from a Sourcebook Editor today!  I am seriously jumping for joy!!  It came out of the blue, as I only did a pitch fest with her for a query critique, and she wants to see my book!  YAY!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, I know...don't go overboard, it's just a submission request, but I'm excited!!!

Melissa

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Beta Readers Galore!

Hello out there in the Blogosphere!  It's been a while, I know! Sorry about that...

I have been hard at work on revising/editing SOLSTICE, writing new scenes for TIMELESS, and exploring new ideas for LOVESTRUCK.  A lot of work for a busy teacher in the month of May!  Also, my characters have been strangely quiet the past few days.  Ever have one of those weeks where absolutely NOTHING is coming to you.  It's been one of those weeks.

So, silent treatment aside, I wanted to discuss Beta Readers for a minute.  When I first started writing my first novel, I was terrified of the thought of someone reading my manuscript.  How about you?  Then when I finished it, I was itching for feedback.  So, I let my family and friends read it.  They ALL loved it, of course.  I do value their opinion, and I don't think they are wrong, but they don't see the mistakes that other writers see in the manuscript.

Then, on the YA Rebels (Yeah, they are the bomb, right?), Jenn mentioned having a beta reader read her manuscript to get it ready to query.  And I thought to myself: What the freak is a beta reader?  So, I went on some fantastic websites like Absolute Write, Query Tracker, and Writer's Digest, and learned that a beta reader is another writer who reads your manuscript for the sole purpose of finding flaws in the plot, characters, editing, etc...Then, the fear set in.

What if my manuscript is crap?  What is my manuscript has so many holes, I can't fix it?  What if...What if...What if?  Then, I met a few writers who seemed very interested in my story through my query letter and sample scenes on Writer's Digest, and through a lot of dialogue, I came to really value their opinions because they liked my story and still found places where I could improve.  They even wanted to get my opinion, which shocked me because I was very new to writing novels myself.

So, long story short, I have four fantastic beta-readers who I share my writing with who have truly made my manuscript so much better.  I have writer friends now that I can go to when I'm stuck, or need a writer's ear to hear a new scene, and generally talk about writing.  I love them and couldn't see writing any new manuscripts without their very generous advice and expertise. 

Please, before you send out anything:  GET A BETA READER!! 

But, be cautious.  Here are some tips that I found useful when finding my beta readers:

1) Have many conversations with them first.  Get to know their personalities to see if they are a fit for you.
2) Share small bits first to see what kind of feedback you get.
3) Never send your whole manuscript to a beta reader at a time.  This is a HUGE NO-NO for me. 
4) Beta Reading goes 50/50.  You send something and they send something.  It works best that way!
5) Have a schedule:  Send chapters/Critiques due every Sunday or something like that to keep everyone on the up and up!
6) Always have a comment sheet (list of questions) that summarizes their thoughts of the chapter. 
7) Be positive, but be brutally honest as well.  We don't need more sugar coating evaluations of our manuscripts.  We need real critiques!
8) Find a writer that is close to your own writing style or interests.
9) Give Suggestions, not demands.
10) Remember it is all about the writing!!!

This is kind of a long post, but I am glad I had a few seconds to write it.  Thanks for reading, and leave a comment on your own beta reading experiences!

Friday, May 7, 2010

My Bad Girl Blogfest Entry!!

This is a scene from my complete WIP, SOLSTICE, that shows my main character, Grace in a bad girl situation.  I hope it fits the criteria!  Thanks for reading and leave me a comment:

There was light and heat, and the flickering of flame. My eyes blinked furiously, but they were dry as bone. I lifted my head and tried unsuccessfully to bring my hands to my face. I needed to rub my eyes, to activate my tear ducts. It was like I was stuck in a desert, a hot, flaming desert in the middle of night.


My hands were strapped, and the way I was pulling them rubbed gashes into my wrists. The searing pain shot through my skin. This was my dream…it had to be. It was the same noises I remember, the same smells…gasoline and wood. Yet, the twins did not hold me like in the others. I had to wake myself up.

My eyes opened, but my pupils were fully dilated. Everything was a blur. I could make out trees; lots of them surrounding me on all four corners. Torches. Torches lit and blazing. There were shadows all around and the hissing…the hissing would not end. Then, there was applause. Xavier emerged from the shadows, hands clasping together boisterously. I wasn’t dreaming. My head hung limply in surrender.

Xavier grasped my face in his cool hands and lifted it up, pointing it in the direction of a large bonfire across from me. “Open your eyes, Grace. Leomiah has been waiting a long time to see your beautiful eyes for the last time.” My eyes flitted up and tried to focus on what he wanted to show me, and that’s when I saw him.

Leo was kneeling in the dirt, his arms outstretched between two shadow demons I did not recognize. His beautiful angelic face was scarred with bruises and blood. His lips were cut on the top and bottom and both eyes were blackened. They had beaten him to an inch of his life, his pants in rags and his shirt torn off his torso but still hanging onto his waist. He was a bloody pulp and unable to hold himself up. I gasped and a tear rolled out of my eyes clearing the dryness away.

The fury welled up inside me and I lurched forward towards Xavier, my shackles snapping me back mere inches from my target. Xavier simply moved a step back. I roared out a mangled cry. Leo’s head lifted slightly, and he caught a glimpse of me. His hands twitched and the demons gripped them tighter.

Leo’s eyes grew wide as he listened to my thoughts. I didn’t know what to think to put his mind at ease. So, I remained silent, both mentally and orally. Xavier didn’t like that I wasn’t playing along with him. He put his face in mine, his eyes narrowing trying to see if I was awake for his theatrics.

I leaned my head back and thrusted it forward, spitting in his sadistic face. The saliva oozed down his cheek and nose. His hand came up and he backhanded me violently. My head whipped to the opposite side so fiercely I thought it would roll right off my neck. A hand imprint was turning scarlet on my delicate skin. I could hear Leo wrestling with his captors--too weak from the beatings to muster much luck. I leaned my head back to Xavier and smiled beautifully. This angered him. He abruptly turned and walked over to the fire’s edge, grabbing a curved blade, and I recognized it instantly. Leo did, also. It was the seraph blade, cold and deadly.

I must have choked on the billowing smoke because Leo moaned my name and Xavier chuckled. He was amused with himself. Xavier enjoyed his game a little too much.

The hatred I felt for Xavier in that moment was profound. All the things I was planning to say to Leo to get him out of the fight had left me the moment I saw Leo’s battered face and his family tethered and gagged. I wanted Xavier to die. I would kill him myself. He was a repugnant abomination who would not be breathing much longer if I could only get my hands free. I growled at him and managed to get my hands free of my bonds. As Xavier walked closer, I reached into my belt and gripped Leo’s daggar in my hand. Just two more steps and hell could claim this miserable piece of crap!

BAD GIRL BLOGFEST!!

Okay Readers,

Don't forget about the Bad Girl Blogfest on Andrew's site.  It happens today!!!  I have my entry almost finished and will post it later today.  Here's the link!

http://blog.dawnsrise.com/2010/05/bad-girl-blogfest-this-friday.html

Now, bring on the bad girls!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

CUSS WORDS IN YA??

Today, as I revised and edited one of my completed manuscripts, I noticed my main characters drops the A-word every once in awhile.  One of my beta readers made a comment that if the main characters uses language like that, you want to make sure it is throughout the novel, but I disagree.  My character only uses language like that if she feels frustrated, angry, or annoyed.  However, it isn't common in her language.  So, I have thought about removing it.

In a YAlitchat on Twitter, I asked about this very issue with the agents hosting the event.  One of the agents said a lot of cuss words are generally frowned upon in manuscripts in middle grade and young adult. Also, a critiquer of Writer's Digest commented that having a cuss word in the opening paragraphs of a manuscript will turn off agents and editors.

So, here is my question...Can you put cuss words in your YA manuscript?  Is it appropriate for a debut novel?

What say you, readers?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ideas!

One thing I have learned as a writer:  The BEST ideas come at the craziest times.

I just had to share this.  I sat in one of the most comfortable spa pedicure chairs ever, watching According to Jim, and laughing hysterically as the technician scrubbed my worn heels when an idea for my next series leaped into my head.  Just as I thought the idea machine was running dry, the best idea exploded.  I don't want to share too much right now, but I am so excited about this idea, I'm sure the WIP will soon follow!

The BEST ideas come at the craziest times!!!  Lesson learned.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

FIRST KISS BLOGEST ENTRY: ENJOY!

This is the first kiss between my two characters in Solstice, Grace and Leo. Leo is forbidden to fall in love with a human, but he goes against his beliefs to love Grace. This scene is after he leaves his family and has been missing for several days. Leo doesn't see any point in following the rules anymore:

“No, I won’t lose you.” Leo stated, fuming at the thought forming in my mind. “You are too important to me. I can’t let you go…not now…not EVER.” Leo’s anxiety wavered a smidgeon, as he walked over to me and pulled me slowly from the ground.


“And the worst thing of all… I’ve led Xavier to you.”

I gasped remembering Xavier sitting on the bar stool, smiling. “Leo, I can take care of myself.”

“Not better than I can take care of you.” Leo stated and he pushed a curl out of my eyes. “I have made a lot of wrong choices, but choosing to be with you is the only right thing I have done in my life. I will never regret that choice. And, for the rest of my existence, I will be watching over you, protecting you. Guarding you.”

His hands came up slowly and gently to grasp at the tops of my shoulders. His intense stare captured my eyes and held them there.

“You are so beautiful.” Leo said in a whisper.

He brushed alongside my arms until his hands met my waist. I could barely breathe. My palms felt clammy and my throat was dry as I mentally tried to figure out what was happening. He never acted like this, so human. It’s like he is throwing caution to the wind. Leo smiled a brilliant smile that lit up his whole face, wrapped his arms around me then at the small of my back, and pulled me firmly to his chest.

“I have been meaning to give you something for some time now, but I was too afraid.”

“You…afraid?” It was unimaginable.

“Yes…well…I knew it would be the point of no return and I’ve been resisting it for some time now.” His thoughts ordered his eyes to gaze at my body. “Much too long.”

‘Just spit it out already.” I giggled to hide my anticipation. “I’m dying here!”

“I hope not…that would ruin my perfect record.” He stated with chagrin. Then, his face went very serious. He leaned his head down slowly and stopped so close to my face our noses touched. He breathed in a catch of breath and brushed his lips so softly across mine.

“Mmmm”, his lips vibrated.

Oh for the love of all that is holy!

“Would it be alright if I kissed you?” He asked while he continued to stare into my eyes.

I nodded once not believing that I was finally getting my wish.

His lips pressed into mine, soft and strong. I felt breathless in that moment and closed my eyes. All I wanted, in the world, I had in that instance. His warmth, caring, passion, and unmistakable beauty were fulfilling my desire so perfectly. I wanted so badly to look upon his face, but his lips left mine and caressed my cheekbone. Giving me little kisses that made my skin tingle in pleasure. He held me closer still but started to breathe raggedly in my ear.

“I have never wanted a human more than I want you.” He murmured so delicately. His breath came in shallow gasps now like he had to say the words before he changed his mind. They started to pour out of his mouth like a waterfall pours over the cliffside. “I know that it is wrong to want you at all.”

“Then, why do you?” I interrupted as I leaned my head on his shoulder. Surely I would go straight to hell for this temptation.

 
I hope you enjoyed this First Kiss:  Leave me a comment!  Thanks for participating!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

FIRST KISS BLOGFEST!!

I had so much fun writing for the PG LOVE SCENE BLOGFEST that I wanted to have my own blogfest. So, if you are interested, here are the deets:

1)To enter, you must be a follower on my blog and tweet about the blogfest!
2) Write a short scene (no more than 500 words) about receiving a first kiss.
3) Post the scene on your blog by April 10th.
4) Give me the link to your blog in the comments below.
5) I will post all the links in a blog on April 10th for people to peruse!

Happy Writing and have fun!!!

REJECTION

Rejection sticks! Yea...hardly news, right. However, when faced with the rejections that are inevitably going to come, you have to remember what started the writing in the first place. The IDEA!

Go back to the idea and make it better. Get a critique partner or two. Join an online support group. REWRITE. Rework the query or opening pages.

But the main thing to remember is the IDEA. You thought it was good enough to start writing the story, have faith in it now!

Publishing is a two way street. Agents and Editors need to have a sellable manuscript and you have to provide them with the sellable idea in that manuscript!

Happy Writing!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Gretchen McNeil is having a Contest!

Gretchen McNeil (aka Mistress Monday from the YA Rebels) is also having a Query Critique Contest on her blog! Her killer query is posted for THE WITCH'S EYE and she gives great advice on Voice, Pitch, and plot! For details, go to: www.gretchenmcneil.blogspot.com.

I' ve entered so if you love me, you'll let me have it! Bless you all!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Limerick Blog Carnival

Here is my limerick for my current WIP that I am working on! Enjoy!

SOLSTICE
There once was a girl named Grace
Who met a boy with a breathtaking face
When love they did find, their souls they did bind
Then, the Shadow Demons started to chase!
I am not so good at limericks, but I tried! Leave a comment...please!
Here is the blogsite with the blog carnival:

Book Deal Celebration Giveaway!!

Beth Revis just got a book deal! YAY!!!! So, she's doing a giveaway to celebrate with her writer and reader friends! Go to her blog site (Writing it Out) from my blog scroll, and enter to win one of two fabulous gift baskets!!


Way to Go Beth!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

YA REBELS HOST A QUERY CRITIQUE CONTEST!

If you are a YA writer, and you don't follow/subscribe to the YA Rebels vlogs, you are missing out! First of all, they are awesome...every week! I have learned so much, cracked up laughing until my sides ache in pain, and cried over their awesomeness. So, do yourself a favor, and become a YA REBEL fan on twitter, youtube, and facebook! You won't regret it.

Oh yea...this week they are hosting a query critique contest. Don't enter because I want to win. (Oh, did I say that out loud???) Just joking...go! Subscribe to their vlogs and enter to win a query critique from the YA Rebels! And, if you win, tell them Melissa sent you!

Melissa

(See my twitter feed below for deets!)

Monday, March 15, 2010

PG LOVE SCENE BLOGFEST ENTRY!!!

I was scrolling around twitter the other day, and I found a blog that is hosting a PG Love Scene Blogfest. I thought that this might be really fun. So here is my scene. I hope everyone enjoys it:


I awoke to an unfamiliar setting, snuggled and curled up to Leo's bare chest. My right hand laying gently on his cross tattoo. He was breathing slowly and melodically, his chest heaving up and down very smoothly, no more stress lines marking the most perfect of faces. Casually, I let my fingertips trace the perimeter of his inking, and I marveled at its smoothness.

Leo was the most perfect creature imaginable. His honey skin practically glowing in the irridescent light coming from the bedroom window. I deliberately let my fingers trail downward, brushing my tingling skin over the hardness of his stomach muscles, perfectly scultped and lean. My fingers probed further, shamelessly, circling around the soft flesh of his belly button, and I felt him breathe harder.

Leo rolled over closer to me, his hand pulling me intimately tighter to him, his eyes still closed but his lips waking enough to kiss my hair. I pressed my ear to his chest and listened to the rhythmic beating of his heart.

"Good Morning, Love." Leo whispered. I thrilled to his words.

"It is a good morning, isn't it." I stated. I propped myself up on one elbow, leaning across his abdomen. He looked down at me from his pillow, his blue eyes sparkling.

"Every day waking up with you is good, so yes it is." He managed to muster quietly, trying not to wake anyone with our chatting.

In all actuality, Leo wasn't supposed to be in this room with me at all, but we couldn't help breaking the rules to see each other. It's not that we wanted to break the rules, necessarily, but others couldn't take our happiness in large doses.

"What are you thinking about?" Leo asked, keeping his promise to not listen to my thoughts.

"Nothing, just wishing I didn't have to go home today." I cuddled tighter to him and wrapped my feet around his for warmth. Leo was always so warm.

"Well, it is Christmas Eve. You should be with your parents, and I won't be far, I promise." He vowed.

Leo sat up and got off the bed, his low cut pajama bottoms highlighting the glorious indentations above his hipbones. He reached down, picking up his wrinkled t-shirt off the floor. Quickly, Leo put it on, and I laughed almost too loudly. I didn't get a chance to see the shirt last night in my rush to take it off, and now I wished I had. It would have totally contradicted his argument about being good despite our bond together.

"What?" He smirked at me.

"Bad Angel? Really, is that some kind of twisted joke?"

Leo pulled the dark green t-shirt out from the hem and stared at the words. He chuckled. "Yeah, I know. I' m a hypocrite. Sue me!" Leo leaned down and gave me a peck on the cheek. "I'll see you downstairs, okay."

I smiled, and he whisked himself out of the door.


I hope you enjoyed it! Now, post one for your blog!
Melissa

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Page 99 Test

One of my twitter buddies told me about this test that is supposed to tell you if a book is worth reading. Just read page 99 of the book and if you like it, you should read the book. So, I decided to check my novel. Here is my page 99! It is the conclusion of Chapter 8. Would you read it?

Page 99 From SOLSTICE:

Leo didn't say a word on the drive back to the library. He just stared out of the windshield, his eyes wide and watchful. His silence was painful. Was he angry? At that exact thought, Leo put his hand on mine and stroked the top of it with his thumb. He was trying to comfort me.

I looked over at him, wanting so much to say something but too afraid to utter a sound. He didn't acknowledge my gesture. Leo was tense and looking everywhere as he drove through the streets of town. I had never seen him scared before. The city lights were blinking on as the dusk turned to dark.

We arrived at the library and he pulled in very close to my car. It would only take me two steps to get in. There wasn't a soul around and the whole scene made me scared as well. Leo spoke through the darkness in a rapid whisper, one streetlamp sending a streak of yellow across his face.

"Go straight home and I will follow you." He stroked my cheek with the back of his hand, his voice quivering with stress.

"You have to talk to me, Leo. What's going on?" I couldn't take it, his emotions were killing me. I held his hand to my cheek with my own, not willing to let go.

"I don't have time to explain, but I will tomorrow, I promise." He leaned his forehead down to touch mine. "I'm afraid my family is in danger, but you don't have to be involved...please...just do what I ask." Leo had never ordered me to do anything. He had always been the perfect gentleman. This must be very serious.

Monday, March 8, 2010

CONTEST! CONTEST!!

Here are two contests that everyone should participate in.

Submission/Critique Contest with agent Suzie Townsend of Fine Print!!!: Go to Suzette Saxton's blog in my blog list!!!

Fantabulous Follower Book Giveaway: Go to Elana Johnson's blog in my blog list!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Writing Tests

Okay, so my students will be taking their state writing test on Wednesday, and we have been practicing and practicing. Everything from leads, endings, good word choice, and show don't tell techniques have been taught and perfected. But, here is my beef with this test. The state expects our young writers to plan, draft, revise, edit, and publish a final copy in one day. Actually less than one day because they have to take a multiple choice revising and editing section. Isn't this absurd.

As a writer, I am flabbergasted to know that this is the expectation. I don't know any writer who does all of it in one day. Edits alone take weeks.

I absolutely understand that it is only a two page composition, but I believe it sends the wrong message about living the writerly life. We should be teaching our writers to love the process of writing the experiences of their lives, to create stories that will inspire, and respect the process of revision.

So, if you are with me...let's do something about it. Post your comments below!!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Olympics!

Just watching the Olympics makes me remember that writing takes a lot of practice, just like the sports showcased in the games. No one is perfect right off the bat...you need coaching, patience, and tons of perserverance.

So, here's to all the writers out there looking for their own gold medal!!!

Happy Writing,
Melissa

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The First Five Minutes

Hello! I hope everyone had a great week of writing.

I recently took an online writing course through the Writer's Digest forum titled, "The First Five Minutes", and let me just say that it was enlightening! I learned so much! I wanted to share with my fellow writers a top 5 list of things that will ruin your readers' first five minutes with your manuscript.

#5: Having too much backstory in your first two pages!
#4: Internal Monologues (Don't begin your story in your character's head!)
#3: Opening with a dream (It lets the reader down to know everything they learned was a hoax)
#2: Too little dialogue/Too much dialogue

And the number one mistake to make in the First Five Minutes... (drumroll please!)

#1: Opening with a phone ringing or an alarm blaring!

I know what you all are thinking...There are a lot of published novels that begin this way. You're right. However, according to the editors giving the course, these techniques are so overdone that it doesn't give your manuscript that original feeling.

So, here is the gist: Open dynamically, not statically!

Open with action, establish the main character with tight details, have your main character interacting with someone else with just the right amount of dialogue.

Remember, the first five pages of your manuscript should move the reader forward!

Hope you learned something...

Now, go write!

Melissa

Query Critique Contest!!!

Ok...Do you have your query done? How about your manuscript? Then, you should enter the PAY IT FORWARD QUERY CRITIQUE CONTEST!

Visit Elana Johnson's Blog for more details:

www.elanajohnson.blogspot.com

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Welcome to The Guardian Writer!!!

Welcome fellow writers...

This is the inaugural blog posting here at the Guardian Writer, and I wanted to take the time to say that I am looking forward to sharing my experiences with you all. I hope that we can learn from each other and inspire some great stories.

I started writing seriously in May 2009 when I awoke from a hard sleep with this unbelievable and constant dialogue going around and around in my thoughts. I couldn't get this guy and gal to shut up!

I laboriously and begrudgingly got out of my warm bed and ran to my computer to type what they were screaming in my head. They were arguing with each other...naturally. It was all rather annoying. I know those of you who are not writers must think I am crazy, but the other writers here know what it is like to have characters bombarding your thoughts.

Well, they continued to talk to me until I finished a novel length manuscript in October 2009. It was exhilarating and difficult, but it sparked a new fire in my life. I had several people read it with the knowledge that it would never see the light of day. Needless to say, the all LOVED it, and have urged me to seek publication. And I feel I owe it to my characters, Leo and Grace, to get their story out.

So, this blog is intended to chronicle what I have learned and put into practice in my journey to be published. I plan to blog at least once a week. I hope that this blog will be something you look forward to reading each week. I welcome comments, as long as they are considerate and constructive to the writing process for everyone.

I look forward to this journey and hope that it will be rewarding for us all!

Happy Writing,
Melissa