Leo's Angel Oak Tree

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Here is part 1 of my Rule of 3 Blogfest.  Hope you enjoy it.  Let me know what you think in the comments.  I enjoy any feedback as long as it's constructive!

Prompt 1:  There is an argument, Someone might fall in love
Word Count: 597 Words
Characters: Riley Richter, Lindly Masen, and  Jack Everly

My father would’ve hated Renaissance.  He didn’t care too much about secrets and superstition, and that seems to be all that’s left in this town. Secrets and superstition. Which makes it a good thing he died three months ago, held up at a trader’s tavern just south of here through the Culdees Forest? Yep, he would’ve hated it here, and so do I.

“Riley, go up to the general store and take care of my grocery list, will ya?,” My mother called out.

“Geez, ma, I hate going to the store.” My face scrunched up, waiting for the hammer to fall.

I grabbed the list off the table and scooted out the door before the yelling could begin. I thought parents stopped nagging after a certain age. I guess seventeen wasn’t old enough, yet.  Hopping on my motorcycle, I revved the engine and zoomed toward town.

I loved riding my bike, the wind whipping through my hair. It’s part of the reason why I kept it shoulder length despite my mother’s pleading for a haircut.  Riding felt freeing, like I could fly. After Dad died and we came here, I had to sell the old camper for food money. Luckily, the Crowley’s were here.  One of the old families, they hired my mom to run the mining office. That gave us enough to buy our little house and a motorcycle for me. I had to get to work somehow.

I pulled in front of the store and saw Jack Everly sitting on the bench eating an apple. God, I hated Jack, almost as much as I hated Renaissance.  The feeling was mutual.  I avoided him by going round the back where I could see someone in the storage room, stocking new items. Her long silhouette made my heart skip a beat.

The only bright spot in this desolate place was Lindly Masen, the store owner’s daughter.  She grew up here when it used to be called Atlanta.  She said Atlanta was a vibrant city.  After the tragedy of 2025, Atlanta became a ghost town, where the population dwindled and the rats became the majority.  When The Everly family arrived, they brought dreams and money.  A chance to revive the old town. The old families (the ones that survived the attack) were overjoyed.  The Everly’s renamed the place Renaissance, a place of rebirth, but the only thing being reborn here are the weeds. 

I tapped on the glass inlayed on the door. She turned around, seeing me, and smiled.  She tucked her blonde hair behind her ears, blushing a beautiful shade of pink.  Ogling girls are really not my thing, but Lindly makes my body do things involuntarily.

“Hey, Riley,” she said as she opened the door.

“Hey.” I could never get out more than that, but she seemed to appreciate my shyness.
She blushed scarlet. I stared at her lips—so inviting—as they moved.  I was transfixed, as usual, until she touched my arm.


“I said, I thought we agreed not to meet up in town. My father might figure it out.”

“Don’t you mean Jack might figure it out?”

She pursed her lips together. “You let me worry about Jack Everly.”

Placing my hands around the small of her back, I pulled her to my chest and our eyes locked. “Make me.”  Her face, so close to mine, leaned forward and the heat rising off her skin lit mine ablaze, too. She had no problem making me bow to her will, to make me do anything.   

“Well, well, what do we have here?”

Monday, October 3, 2011


My birthday is coming up. Yep, 36 seemed ancient just a few short years ago, but here I am about to turn ancient.  So, my wonderful husband has decided to purchase a writing class for me with a real live editor.  This editor has worked at Random House and Penguin and is offering a one-day MFA style course with lots of techniques and feedback.  Should be pretty cool, right? 

So why am I so terrified?

Have any of you taken a writing class?  If so, what advice do you have for me and how can I make the most of my time with the instructor?

DISH, please!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011


I joined the FALLING INTO BOOKS BLOG HOP.It is hosted by the fantastic Michelle over at Oh, For the Love of Books! http://www.flickspicks1.blogspot.com

The Last chance to sign-up if anyone is interested in joining. I might be doing some critiques! So head on over!

Friday, September 23, 2011


Okay, everyone...there's a new blogfest in town for the month of October. And we all know how I loves a good blogfest! So, join with me. Here's the deets:

A. What is the Rule of Three?

The "rule of three" is a principle in writing that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. The reader/audience of this form of text is also more likely to consume information if it is written in groups of threes. A series of three is often used to create a progression in which the tension is created, then built up, built up even more, and finally released. –Wikipedia

B. How does the Rule of Three work in this blogfest?
The Rule of Three is a month-long fiction blogfest, where we’ve created a ‘world’,the town of Renaissance, and challenged you to create a story within it. The story will feature 3 characters of your creation, who will be showcased on your blog on 3 different Wednesdays, following the Rule of Three. The 4th Wednesday, we’ll have the culminating scene.

C. What is the Shared World of Rule of Three?
Renaissance is an outpost town in the middle of nowhere, but many routes pass through or beside it. The desert is encroaching on one side (to the West), a once-lush forest lies to the East and South. A large river runs through the forest, but it is not close to the town. Mountains are to the North, far, far away, and when you look towards them you don't know if they are an illusion or real. Closer by are the smaller hill chains that fed the mining, creating caverns and passages underground.
The town has had a number of identities throughout its history: A trading post; a mining town; a ghost town until it was rediscovered; a thriving community; the scene of a number of great battles; the scene of one great tragedy (that led to its Ghost Town standing); a town of great joys and celebrations, and so much more.
At this point in time, there is a general population of 333. A mixture of a community. It boasts families that have lived there for generations upon generations, but they are in the minority, and are not in positions of power. There are traders who have come back here, at the end of their many travails, to settle in. The new families and power-players have taken this as a last refuge for themselves, hoping to rebuild lives torn apart on the way here.

Everyone has a secret. Welcome to Renaissance. Enjoy your stay.

D. Writing Guidelines for the Rule of Three Blogfest:
  1. 1. Your overall story can be in any genre, time period, or style you choose.
  2. You must have three characters (Rule of Three), but the relation between them is up to you.
  3. Every Wednesday or Thursday (48-hour window), post a narrative fiction: story, poem, song lyric, play, monologue, soliloquy-- any style you choose to work in.
  4. Each Friday you will be given a choice of writing prompts that will escalate the inner happenings of your story. Please choose one or more, and state the chosen prompt at the beginning of your post.
  5. Choose one of your characters to showcase that given week as the main protagonist for that posting. Of course, you can weave in your other characters as you see fit, but the main action/conflict or point of view should be the showcased character of the week.
  6. In the fourth week, give us your tour de force, a culmination of the story that will make us weep, weak at the knees, jump for joy, whatever...and know a writer’s job was done well.
  7. Upper limit for each post is 500 words. A little higher is okay, but not more, please.
There are prizes, so go sign up here!  You have until October 3rd.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Most of you know, I'm a huge Twilight Fan. So, in honor of Bella's birthday (which is today), I thought I would share the latest trailer for Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, part 1. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Happy Saturday!  I spent the whole day reading another remarkable book by Kody Keplinger called SHUT OUT.  It was amazing!  Here's the book trailer:

Novel Description: Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part,Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.

Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.

My Review:
Kody has the ability to create characters that resonate with so many teens, and some adults who remember what it's like to be a teen.  Yes, the premise for this novel is so charming and funny, but what I loved most about it were the lessons that the characters learned along the way.  Lessons like it's okay for teens to talk about sex, if a guy breaks up with you because he can't get laid, then he doesn't deserve you.

In my opinion, adults are so wrapped up with the basics of sex when they talk to their children, they skip past the emotional issues surrounding have sex as teens.  This novel addresses that issue.  I loved that Kody had characters that not only were afraid to have sex, but she had characters who were unsure if they even liked it or liked it too much.  It was a well-rounded novel. 

Everyone should read this book!  It was light-hearted in some places, and heavy in others.  It made me think, feel, and laugh out loud.  It will definitely go into my Must-Read-Every-Year book stack along with another Keplinger classic, THE DUFF!

My Rating:

Thursday, September 8, 2011


It's time for the first challenge in the Third Writer's Platform Campaign!  YAY! Here's the challenge:

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: "the door swung shut." (also included in the word count)

For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!

So, here's mine.  If you like it, vote for me here.  I'm #346   ! Just click the "like" button.

The door swung open, knocking into the wall with a thwack. Owen gazed at the horrid scene before him, eventually squeezing his eyes closed to block out the image.  But even behind his eyelids, he couldn’t erase the blood splatters from his memory. 

“Oh Bethany,” he murmured.  He took a few steps forward, not wanting to get too close. Peering at the bed, he could see she at least put up a fight. Light bruising dotted her knuckles, and her fingers appeared stiff with rigor mortis. “I hope you clawed his eyes out.”

The metallic smell of blood rose to his nose and his muscles tensed.  He couldn’t stay here much longer. It was too tempting.  He felt the tip of his fangs grazing his bottom lip.
A plan began to formulate in his mind. One act of revenge. Lucas would pay for his disobedience. Bethany was strictly off limits.  He knew this and still slaughtered her for a meal. It would definitely  be his last.

Owen dialed 9-1-1 and left the receiver in the dead girl’s hand.  One final time, he pressed his lips to hers, and said goodbye to the girl he loved as the door swung shut.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Campainer's Introduction!

Hello all!  I'm so excited to be a part of the Third Writer's Platform Campaign! There was a little glitch on my part with the groups, but I'm registered and will be added to group  # 6 or #12 and #34 (Paranormal Romance).  I can't wait to to all of the blogs and say hello.  So, for all of you who may be new to my blog, here are some things about me:

The Basics:

1. I write YA paranormal romance. I'm unpublished and unrepresented, as of today.
2. I've written two manuscripts so far.  Tweaking those and starting a third.
3. I teach Fourth Grade.
4. I'm married to my childhood sweetheart, but we have no children.
5. I have two dogs, Schubert and Potter.
6. I'm a military wife, so I've lived in 5 different states (SC, CA, TX, HI, and AL)
7. I'm also a singer and a ventriloquist.

The Quirks:

1. I love to drink soy sauce (or shoyu as they call it in Hawaii) straight from the bottle.
2. I'm lactose intolerant, but LOVE LOVE LOVE Ice Cream.
3. I've read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 58 times (I read it with my class every year.)
4. I collect movie props and signed movie scripts.
5. I sleep in parking lots to meet famous people. (26 celebrities in my lifetime. My favorite: Robert Pattinson)
6. I could sing karaoke everyday! And generally do!
7. I'm deathly allergic to peaches and smoke.

My blog:

1. Mostly writers type stuff.
2. Book giveaways
3. What I've learned in conferences, workshops, or webinars.
4. WIP exerpts
5.  Blogfests.

Well, did you learn a little about me?  I hope so!

Monday, August 22, 2011


My Beta Buddy, Margo (www.margokelly.blogspot.com) recently posted a video of David Armand from the BBC comedy show, Fast & Loose, doing an interpretive dance to "Can't Stop Me Now" by Queen.  I laughed so hard.  So, since today was the first day of school for me, and it's always tiring, I thought I would post another one. 

Be prepared to be giddy all night


No, I don't mean the 2012 Presidential Campaign (I mean, who really is ever ready for that!), I'm talking about The Third Writer's Platform-Building Campaign.

Once again, the awesome Rachael Harrie will be hosting another platform building campaign (formally  called The Crusades).  It's a great way to meet other writers, share your work,a nd build your platform.

Sign-up is now, and it fills up quickly.  To find out more information about this incredible opportunity, visit Rachael at http://rachaelharrie.blogspot.com/2011/08/third-writers-platform-building.html.

Monday, August 1, 2011


This is the final installment in the Plotting Your Novel blog series.  I hope you all have had as much fun reading these blogs as I have writing them. If you take one thing away from this blog series, then it was well worth it.

Today, we're going to talk about plot structure.  Whether you are a plotter or pantser doesn't matter.  Every story follows a general rule in structure or set-up.  Anyone remember the plot map we learned in school (you know, the hill!)? Well, that's still the accepted plot structure for novels, but in Young Adult Lit., it has been pushed around that teens want the inciting incident up front.  In other words, teens want the first big turning point of the novel in the first ten pages.  What do you think about this notion?

Ms. Klein says there are really two ways to start a novel: Inciting Incident first, then exposition, or Exposition first then inciting incident. So, let's look first at those two things.  The inciting incident is where your change appears or the hook that starts the conflict, or action plot. Exposition is everything that precedes the inciting incident.  It shows us the character's unconsciousness.

Either way you choose to start, the inciting incident should be in the first act, and as close to the beginning pages as you can get it.

Ms. Klein also states that seventy-five percent of novels should be about escalating and complicating events for the main character(s). Put in obstacles in every act. Obstacles are things that keep your protagonist from achieving his/her desire. That desire could be internal (some kind of belief) or external. Like stakes, obstacles should be proportional.  Raise the tension by increasing the obstacles and raising the stakes.  

What is the climax of the action plot? The climax is a moment in the story when the resolution is near.  Some say it is the most exciting part of the plot for reader.  I would have to agree.  The resolution is when the conflict is solved, the journey has ended.  How do the readers know when the character's journey has changed?

Turning Points are places within the plot where the action and emotional plots cross. You should have at least four turning points in your plot. (From previous post on SAVE THE CAT: Blake Snyder dubs those turning points as Catalyst, Break into Act 2, Midpoint, and Break into Act 3). A good rule of thumb when it comes to turning points: If an event makes a difference in your plot, we readers need to see it happen to experience it ourselves.

Lastly, Ms. Klein discussed the helpfulness of book maps.  A book map is a way to keep track of your plot. She didn't prefer a certain kind but gave a multitude of examples from JK Rowling handwritten book map to Excel Spreadsheet examples.  She also mention plot boards.  Some of the things you might find helpful on a book map are chapter/scene numbers, POV, word/page count, protagonist/antagonist, action plot points, emotional plot points, action drivers, characters in scene, subplots, setting, type of scene, mood at beginning/end, change in scene, first line/last line, key lines/them, date/time, and summaries.

Here are a few pictures to help you visualize a book map.

Full image of book map here: http://www.slashfilm.com/wp/wp-content/ima...rowlingpage.jpg

Justine Larbalestier's Excel Book Map:
To read article: http://justinelarbalestier.com/blog/2006/09/06/how-to-write-a-novel/


So, that's it! I hope you've enjoyed it! Please, leave me some comments on what you liked, any a-ha moments, etc. I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Well, I'm back home in Texas. YAY! One thing I hate about traveling is my hubby always wants to do these crazy long drives at night.  It makes me nervous for two reasons. One, I get incredibly sleepy at night and he expects me to keep him awake. Two, the crazies come out at night which makes stopping for fuel a really scary experience. However, I see his point, too.  There is a lot less traffic at night and we make really good time.  So needless to say, we made it back safe and sound. Now aren't you glad because today I am revealing Cheryl Klein's three types of plots. 

In her book, Second Sight: An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults, Ms. Klein says that in all novels you can pretty much narrow down the plot into three categories. The mystery plot, the conflict plot, and the "lack" plot.

The mystery plot is a structure where the MC goes through a quest for an idea.
The conflict plot is a structure where there is a MC vs. MC or MC vs Idea.
The "lack" plot is a quest for fulfillment.  It is often internal.

You must have at least one action plot, says Ms. Klein. So which category best describes your central action plot?

Within one MS, you could have a combination of these plot types. That's where subplots come in.

A subplot is any change that is not central. Every novel should have at least one subplot to give depth and complexity to the novel.


1. List all of your plots and subplots in your novel.
2. Write out how each subplot  contributes to the central action plot.
3. Then ask yourself these questions:

Was the process easy or tortured?
Do any of your subplots serve the same purpose?
Is the connection mostly thematic or emotional? Can you strengthen the action connection? Or cut?

4. Narrow the plot structure to one central action/emotional plot and subplots that clearly contribute to the central plot.

Well, that's it.  I really connected with the "Justify Your Existence" portion of the webinar.  Not only has it helped me in my revision process, but I've also used this technique to critique some of my Beta BFFs manuscripts.  Totally helpful!

I hope you learned something new today about the different types of plots.  Stay tuned for tomorrow's gripping conclusion on this series: Plot Structure & Book Maps!

Friday, July 29, 2011


It's the end of summer for me, which means I'll be heading back to Texas to get ready for the upcoming school year.  But don't fret, I'll still be blogging and writing.  I'll be driving back home today after a great vacay with my hubby, but I wanted to get this blog post up before I left. So, enjoy and the next time I blog will be from home sweet home!


A character-based view of plot means that the plot of your novel is character driven.  And in my humble opinion, it should be.  Characters are the heart of story even though you might have a message you're trying to teach. Ms. Klein says that characters have a lot to do with plot.  Here are some things to consider:

1. Establish a character with a drive of which he or she may not be aware, or something to gain/lose, or both.

2. Story presents character with a situation.

3. Plot should force the character to make decisions.

4. In the new situation, the character's drive is seen.

5. What is your MC's thing to be gained or lost? What does he/she want? What is his/her desire?

6. In a book, something is broken.  The plot should dramatize it.

How does your character drive your plot?

Up next: Day 6: The Types of Plots

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Characters, oh characters! I've been reading a lot of character development lately.  I have some wonderful books about the subject which I will review for you in later blog posts, but today I want to share what Cheryl Klein had to say about characters.

Everyone wants an original character, a MC that stands out from all the others. How can you achieve that when even Nietzsche said, "There's nothing new under the sun"? How do avoid cliche characters?

Ms. Klein gave some tips during her webinar that were very helpful.  I hope you don't mind a list.

1. Make the characters new: Turn the cliche upside down like Suzanne Collins did with Katniss Everdeen.  She made her a hunter (not your typical girl attribute).

2. Give the character an unusual desire.
3. Make the MC the viewpoint character.
4. Give the character a cause readers can root for because it's interesting, morally right, or has high stakes.
5. Give the character some expertise.
6. Makes the character liked by other people or make the character disliked by people the reader also dislikes. For example, most readers dislike the Dursleys (Harry Potter), so the fact that the Dursleys hate Harry makes him more lovable to readers.
7. Have the character take action or show energy.
8. Put the character in pain or jeopardy (anticipated pain)
9. Don't be your character's mother! Let them makes choices you might not make or approve of.
10. Make your MC human. That means flawed, unpredictable, weird, full of secrets. The more complicated you make the character, the more complicated the plot can be.

REVISION TIPS for Characters:

First Impressions: Look at the first ten pages of your WIP.  Which characters appear?  Write out the first ten things the character(s) says or does.  Who is the character based on just that information.  Remember you're painting a picture of that character's personality and value to the story.

Up Next: Character-based View of Plot

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Let's get to it with an explanation of action plots and emotional plots.

Some writers say to sell novels today, you really need to focus on the action plot. But others say it's better to feel something when you read.  I say you need both, and Cheryl Klein agrees.  She said (in the webinar) that action plot adds the entertainment while the emotional plot adds depth.

So, what is action plot and emotional plot? Well, I'll tell you... (Beware, examples come from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Hunger Games, and Divergent.  If you haven't read them, there might be spoilers.)

Action Plot: This is a change in circumstances for your character. 

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, it's when Harry goes to Hogwarts. In The Hunger Games, it's when Katniss takes her sister's place at the Reaping. In Divergent, it's when Tris chooses Dauntless.

The Action Plot is when the story moves forward.  Having the characters doing things, not just being idle in the plot, enhances the action plot.

Emotional Plot: This is a change in emotion for your character.

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the emotional plot begins when Harry feels unworthy to be at Hogwarts and all the fame. In The Hunger Games, the emotional plot begins when Katniss must come to terms with the fact that she might never see Prim, Gale, or her mother again.  When she grabs her mother by the arm during their goodbyes and yells at her to take care of Prim. In Divergent, the emotional plot begins when Beatrice must make the decision to leave her family in Abnegation. It's from this point that Beatrice starts to transition as a character into Tris.

The Emotional Plot is when the protagonist develops internally. Meaning and theme enhance the emotional plot.

Can you identify the action plot and emotional plot within your WIP?  If not, this would be a great way to begin revision.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Day 4: Character Development

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Today, I'll be continuing my review of the webinar, How to Plot and Structure Your Novel by Cheryl Klein.  Let's talk about the ten Basic Principles of novel writing.

1) Write your story: First drafts are just that. Let the words fly!
2.) On your second draft, tighten up the plot by focusing on your points. Learn about points here.
3.) Identify plot points by changes: Does a change of some kind happen in the course of your book?
4.) The change should happen to the protagonist.
5.) Action Plot & Emotional Plot (more on that tomorrow)
6.) When the change happens, it is the start of the emotional plot.
7.) Plot ends when the change is over or points have been achieved.
8.) When you reach the climax, the book should end within three chapters.
9.) Entertainment comes from the Action  Plot, Meaning comes from the Emotional Plot.
10.) Plot matters only if readers are interested in the character(s) involved.

Monday, July 25, 2011



This is a wonderful idea on how to get the support and encouragement of NANOWRIMO anytime you want it!! It is the brain child of Ali Cross (http://www.alicross.com/2011/02/introducing-ninja-novel-writing-month_03.html).  Please, join the dojo and gets some writing done!! Let me know if you join(in the comments section) and I'll follow you! 

Below is the introduction blog from Ali's Blog:

Introducing: Ninja Novel Writing Month!

YOU are a writing ninja.

You train until your writing muscles are weary and your brain just can't take any more.

Then you train some more.

You often work under the cover of darkness.

You kill your darlings.

Slit the throats of your beautiful, drippy prose.

Slash pages and pages of useless stuff.

And you murder your story. In a totally good way, of course.

But while ninjas often work alone, they train in a dojo, with other ninjas who are all working toward the same goal--ultimate skill and perfection.

I love National Novel Writing Month. I love knowing I'm slaving away next to other worthy writers. Their presence and commitment keeps me going, pulls me through my dark times and pushes me toward the finish line--that magical place called THE END.

But NaNo only comes along once a year, which is really, really sad.

Enter: Ninja Novel Writing Month.

When you're ready to throw some words down, don't do it alone! Grab a badge (from the dojo page), and add your blog to the Mr. Linky on the dojo page. That way, everyone can know who's training at the dojo and writing a novel. (note: NiNo ReMo is coming soon! That's Ninja Novel REVISING month!)
For instance, say you wanted to write a novel in February. You'd post a button on your page and invite others to join you. You'd let me know and I'd add your Mr. Linky code to the dojo page on my site here under the title FEBRUARY NINJAS. That way, anyone can join you, train with you, or cheer you on.

This dojo is always open. There are always ninjas here to write with you--you don't ever have to train alone!
Welcome to the dojo, fellow ninjas!


This week, I will be devoting my blogs to a wonderful webinar I attended by Cheryl Klein of Arthur A. Levine books.  You might recognize the name.  She's the senior editor at AALB (an imprint of Scholastic Books) and was a continuing editor for the last three Harry Potter Books, among many others. She's been featured in Time Magazine and Entertainment Weekly for her work on the Harry Potter series. She specializes in Children's and Young Adult Literature.

Today, let's talk about points.  Ms. Klein says every decision you make as a writer should ultimately be in service of the novel's points. There are three points: The Emotional Point, The Thematic Point, and The Experiential Point.

The Emotional Point: What is the key emotional transformation of your protagonist?

The Thematic Point: What is your protagonist learning?  What question is your protagonist/novel asking?

The Experiential Point: What emotional journey do you want your READER to take?

As you start to revise or begin a new draft, ask yourself these three questions first.  Make them very clear in your mind. 

REVISION QUESTIONS: What is your emotional point? What is your thematic point? What is your experiential point?

To help her authors with these points, Ms. Klein asks them to write an intention letter answering these questions:

1. What do you want to do with the book? or What do you want the book to do?
2. What is the story, briefly?
3. What is the book about?
4. What do you love in the book?
5. What do you suspect (or know) needs work?

You can find more information regarding these points in Ms. Klein's book: Second Sight: An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults. or by visiting her blog at http://chavelaque.blogspot.com/ or website at http://cherylklein.com/


Monday, July 18, 2011


I had no luck in the month of June and July! First my cell phone crashes, and I had to break down and get an iPhone 4. Love it so far, but time will tell.  Then, my hard drive died in my laptop. I had to replace it then reload everything. The good thing about all of this is that my hubby is a computer genius and told me never to save anything on my laptop hard drive.  So, even though I had a hell of a time with this reload, I didn't lose ANYTHING! *Que the chorus of singing angels!*

So, now that I'm up and running, I'm back to blogging and writing.  I did manage to take a wonderful webinar with Cheryl Klein of Arthur Levine Books.  I will have full details to come.  So, thanks for being patient with me and my world of crashing technology. 

It's good to be back!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Today is Launch Day for Elana Johnson's POSSESSION, a riveting tale of Vi, a rule breaker fighting against the Thinkers.  I was lucky enough to get an ARC (THANKS ELANA!), and it has been passed along to all my librarian friends and bookstore friends.  It has been well loved, and I am so happy to replace it now with a new shiny official one! 

I loved this book!  Vi is tough and gritty, a real fighter with a good heart. And Zenn...SWOON! It's action packed and Elana has created a world and characters you must spend time with! It is the Summer MUST READ! PLEASE, take my word for it and go out and buy POSSESSION!!! 

If you loved UGLIES by Scott Westerfield, THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins, or THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner, POSSESSION will be.come one of your favorites!

From GoodReads: Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


CONGRATS TO... (*drumrolls, please*)


Thanks to everyone who joined in the DIVERGENT fun!

(Winner was chosen using a online random name generator. All entrants were entered 3x for commenting, blog/tweet, and following!)

Stay Tuned for another contest next month!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011


I decided to take a little blogging break after the great A-Z Challenge 2011.  Mainly because I had to attend my cousin's wedding.  I was a bridesmaid. I hate bridesmaid's dresses (*did I say that out loud*). Although I got to pick my own style, I hated wearing it. So uncomfortable, but my cousin made a beautiful bride.

Now, I've returned and am ready to start my blogging again. I've missed you all.

It's contest time here at the Guardian Writer.  The prize: A copy of Divergent by Veronica Roth

From Amazon.com: In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.

I read this book in two days! I couldn't put it down.  It's a must-read.  So here's the gist for the contest.  You must be a follower, tweet or blog about it, and make a comment below (leave your email, so I can contact you).  Contest ends on Wednesday, May 18th!

Sunday, May 1, 2011


YAY! This is the very last post for the A-Z Challenge.  I am so happy that I made it.  I've learned so much from the blogs I visited, made wonderful new friends, followed some fantastic new writers, and they have followed me. It has been an experience!

I reached a few milestones so far.  I reached 100 followers.  My blog is over a year old. And I won three new blog awards that I will be posting soon.  I think it's time for a contest.  Stay tuned next week for details.  I also think I'll host a blogfest in May.  Those are so much fun!

So, this is a sign-out for the A-Z challenge, and I hope everyone enjoyed the posts this month!

Friday, April 29, 2011


I'm tired.  Really, really tired. This week marked the state testing week in Texas. We've worked hard, done the work, and now the waiting for scores begins, but today, I'm celebrating with a big N-A-P!

I've loved this A-Z Challenge, but I'm so exhausted, I can't think straight.  And one thing I've learned as a writer is the writer needs sleep to function and think creatively. So, in order for me to have some creative juices flowing in the morning, I need to go to bed.

So, peace out! See ya tomorrow for the last post in the A-Z Challenge.  And I promise, I'll make it a good one!

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Are you a xenophobic writer?  I think I am.

Xenophobic is the fear of the unknown.  Sometimes the fear what others will think of my writing is stifling.  And it's kind of unfounded.  Anyone who has read my writing has always encouraged me to keep going.  And when they have offered criticism, it's always been because they want me to improve. 

Once, an editor I had a consultation and critique with told me I was a very promising writer.  She showered me with compliments, and even when she declined my manuscript a few weeks later, she told me she wanted to see more from me.  Which I have to say inspired me and kept me writing.  Then, why do I let the fear in?

I think its because I am my own worst critic.  I see the flaws. This is something I strive to work on.

Are you a xenophobic writer?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Writing what you know doesn't mean to limit your writing in a way to make everything too familiar or cliche. It means to use your life experiences as a jumping off point for your writing. 

Writing what you know can help you develop details that bring a rich quality to your story structure.  It can also bring about a familiarity that helps give you confidence to create unique characters, visualize setting, and infuse action and tension in crucial scenes.

Some of the most memorable characters in literature are based, even loosely, on someone the author knew. Almost like the author used their best strengths or limitations and amped them up or down.

When I begin writing a novel, I like to use names of people from my hometown for characters.  I even use some of their idiosyncrasies to develop that character like accent, gestures, hidden talents, even voice. Then, I amplify those tiny distinctive qualities to make a totally new character full of rich detail and life.

What ways do you write what you know?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


We are almost there! Four more letters to go.  I hope you all have learned something new this month.  I tried really hard to give diverse topics. Don't forget to comment.  I love hearing from you all! 

Today's topic is developing your VOICE.

When I go to conferences, read agent/editor blogs, or read tweets, I often hear these words, "I'm looking for characters and a story with a distinctive voice."  What exactly does that mean?

It think voice is the way you put words together and the unique way you express yourself. It's the way you look at the world, the way you show your personality, or the way you communicate ideas. I can tell an author's book by their distinctive voice.  I can tell a Stephenie Meyer from a Brandon Mull, or a James Patterson from a Stephen King.  Each writer has a certain cadence to their writing. That's their voice.

Characters have voices as well.  When you read a novel with multiple main characters, each one has a certain flavor to their dialogue, a way they enter a scene or leave one, and even how they relate to other characters.

For example, in "The Mortal Instruments" series, the character, Jace, is sarcastic, vain, and very confident.  Jace doesn't walk passively into situations.  He commands attention on the page, and he gets it.  For example, in a scene from City of Fallen Angels, Clary comments to Jace that he's usually amazing at all kinds of Shadowhunter skills.  Jace calm and coolly responds, "I was born amazing."  This is so Jace.  No other character could pull off that line but Jace. 

The same goes for the character of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.  She is brave, bold, and selfless.  I instantly know when I'm reading a Katniss scene or a Jace scene.

It's hard sometimes to find a character's voice.  I like to first find a picture that can inspire the character's face in my mind, then I write several situations without action, just the character talking.  Sometimes I'm surprised at what comes out, but that's how I find my character's voice.

How do you develop your VOICE?


As writers, we have a lot of decisions to make. Which words do I choose? What setting is best? Who should tell the story? How do I describe this situation?  We can also make a lot of mistakes that will be fixed in the editing process. But the worst mistake a writer can make is underestimating their reader. 

As a teacher, I see time and time again that kids really do get things when they read.  They visualize, infer, draw conclusions about characters, and think while they read.  So, we shouldn't water down our novels because we write for middle grade or young adult audiences.  Our novels should be as rich and complex as an adult novel, just minus the adult themes (or some of them). 

So, if you want to use a certain word but worry that younger readers won't understand, stop yourself from over explaining.  They really do get it.  If they can sound it out, they can understand.  And in most cases, there's an adult nearby who can help.  Plus, they are learning from you in the process. 

When you're tempted to describe everything to the nth detail, stop yourself.  Keep your descriptions neat and tight, don't ramble.  That actually makes young readers abandon books.  I watch my students when I do a read aloud and when it comes to long descriptions, they listen to get the gist, then they tune me out if the description becomes too long.  They want action!  Young readers would rather you spend four paragraphs on the action scenes than the description scenes. Trust me!

Here are some examples of writers underestimating their readers: (examples courtesy of http://www.culturefeast.com/dont-underestimate-your-readers/)

EXAMPLE: The judge sentenced the thief to six years in jail.

BETTER: The judge sentenced the thief to six years.

EXAMPLE: The house was painted green in color.
BETTER: The house was painted green.

EXAMPLE: The whistle had too loud a sound.
BETTER: The whistle was too loud.

EXAMPLE: He was over two hundred pounds in weight.
BETTER: He was over two hundred pounds.

EXAMPLE: Each tire lasts for a predetermined number of miles when the car is driven.
BETTER: Each tire lasts for a predetermined number of miles.

JK Rowling once said in an interview that she received several rejections for Harry Potter that simply said this book is to much for children, it's too wordy, there are too many pages, etc.  Her response to them was brilliant.  She said, "I'm going to write the book the way I want to write it.  Publishers today underestimate the reader, especially young readers, and I choose not do that."
So, here's the advice.  Write what you want to write, write it the way you want to write, and never, ever underestimate your reader!


Sunday, April 24, 2011


Happy Easter everyone!!

I am reposting a blog from a while back on the first pages of your novel.  It's really important to nail those pages.  Suzie Townsend and Joanna Volpe are taking on critiques of first pages on their blog, Confessions From Suite 500.  If you want to know more, check it out: http://confessionsofawanderingheart.blogspot.com/2011/04/first-page-shooter.html

They have already posted blogs on awesome first pages and two critiques.  I think this is AWESOME!


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 who 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:


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!

Saturday, April 23, 2011


I love to read! It wasn't always so, I'm ashamed to say.  In school, I HATED to read.  I thought I had better things to do with my time. (Don't judge, I learned my lesson!) However, I also never had a teacher, not one, that encouraged me to read or introduced me to good books. 

So, when I began to teach, I had a student ask me about a book and told me he wouldn't read it until I did. I planned on just telling him it was good, but after reading one chapter, I was hooked.  I've been reading ever since.  Thanks to Steven and JK Rowling, I now love to read.

So, what does that story have to do with sense of humor.  A lot. For me, a book grabs me when it has great characters and fantastic dialogue.  If the book can keep me laughing or pull at my heart strings, I can't put it down.  Harry Potter and his friends were hilarious.  I loved the snarky sarcasm of the character's voices.

I recently read a book that had me in stitches!  Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon was a book I devoured. 

Infinity (Chronicles of Nick, #1)

From Goodreads, this is the book description:
        At fourteen, Nick Gautier thinks he knows everything about the world around him. Streetwise, tough and savvy, his quick sarcasm is the stuff of legends. . .until the night when his best friends try to kill him. Saved by a mysterious warrior who has more fighting skills than Chuck Norris, Nick is sucked into the realm of the Dark-Hunters: immortal vampire slayers who risk everything to save humanity. Nick quickly learns that the human world is only a veil for a much larger and more dangerous one: a world where the captain of the football team is a werewolf and the girl he has a crush on goes out at night to stake the undead. But before he can even learn the rules of this new world, his fellow students are turning into flesh eating zombies. And he’s next on the menu.
As if starting high school isn't hard enough. . .now Nick has to hide his new friends from his mom, his chainsaw from the principal, and keep the zombies and the demon Simi from eating his brains, all without getting grounded or suspended. How in the world is he supposed to do that?

Even the description screams VOICE! Nick and the cast of characters had me rolling, and this is a book about zombies, for pity's sake. My favorite characters, besides Nick, were Bubba and Mark.  Here are two snippets that shows you great dialogue adds sense of humor.

INFINITY by Sherrilyn Kenyon   pg. 127
The barrel swung wide and instead of hitting the jocks, the shot blasted a huge hole right through the eyes of the picture of Bubba's mama that hung on the wall near the register.  Nick stared at the hole in absolute terror. Ah God. I'm so dead.  Bubba really loved his mama. And he'd shot her right between the eyes...
The look of Satan's wrath on Bubba's face nauseated him. "Bubba...I'm sorry."

He stalked Nick like a hunting lion out for dinner. "Not half as sorry as you're gonna be.  Make me shoot my mama.  Boy, what are you thinking?  What the hell's wrong with you?"

INFINITY by Sherrilyn Kenyon  pg. 133
His face was streaked with camouflage paint and he wore yellow contact lenses that had a rim of red around them. Zombie eyes. Also for camouflage.  But that wasn't the worst of it.  As he stopped next to Nick, there was an odor so foul it took his breath.  Nick covered his nose to keep from being sick over it. "What is that smell?" It was like three-day-old cat vomit mixed with rotten asparagus.

Mark scowled at him as if he was crazy for even asking. "Duck urine.  It keeps the zombies from thinking I'm human."

Nick snorted. "Yeah, well it keeps me from thinking you're sane."

Ms. Kenyon has mastered the art of making totally engaging characters and a perfect sense of humor for each one.  I loved this book so much.  If you are writing, especially a male POV, you have to check out this gem.

So, what is your main character's sense of humor?

Friday, April 22, 2011


What is one problem most novice writers have with their manuscript? If you answered, the word count is too high, then you are reading my mind. Ha!

So many times I have heard agents, editors, and other writers talk about the dreaded word count question.  And, it's true, so many writers have bloated manuscripts.  One way to combat an overloaded novel is by editing out unintentional repetition.

Good writers know how to toss out repeated words and phrases, but what I want to talk about today is slicing redundancies of an effect.  In other words, cutting two or more sentences or paragraphs that convey the same information, meaning, description, personality traits, or even characters who fill the same role in the novel. 

This is something I have been learning how to do in recent days with my new WIP.  Sometimes they are very difficult to find because we are so in love with the words we have written. That's mainly why people tell us to put our manuscripts away for a few weeks to gain new perspective when starting to revise and edit.  Here are some examples from one of my WIPs.

Example #1: I was determined not to leave without my answers.  No matter how hard he might try, he would not deter me.

This basically says the same thing.  So, I had to choose which one I thought was stronger.  For me, it was the first sentence.

Example #2: Her skin was more olive toned, and she looked Mediterranean.

This example shows a redundancy in description. I'm essentially describing her skin tone two different ways. Once is usually enough.

Here's a checklist you can use to help spot those pesky repetitions in your manuscript.

1. Reread your MS focusing on the mood, background, or point you're trying to set.  How many different ways are you doing each of them?

2. Check the chapter level too. Do you have more than one chapter that accomplishes the same goal?

3. Are your antagonists evil in more than one way?

4. As always, check for word and phrase repeats.

Remember to trust your reader.  Give he/she just want he/she needs to get into your world. Don't over explain everything. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Oh, the dreaded query! I remember the first time I tackled a query letter.  It was awful! But, thanks to a wonderful workshop given by Suzie Townsend of FinePrint Literary and an amazing e-book by Elana Johnson, queries don't seem as threatening anymore.  So, I wanted to expound on a few things I've learned about the query process.

1. A query letter is a formal letter (business, serious)
2. You should show, not tell (Don't say you like strong female characters, show a strong female character)
3. Personalization: Some agents like it, others do not.  Know the agent you're querying!
4. MUST include word count and publishing credits (However, don't go on and on if you don't have any)
5. Never give the theme or complexity of the novel.
6. A query letter is just the set-up, the enticing appetizer to the main dish.
7. A query should focus on the main character, and in romance, it should include the MC and love interest.
8. It should contain the least possible words.  Make every one count. Keep it concise!
9. Don't cut and paste the query letter.  Type it into the email because some fonts are different when emailing.
10. All pertinent contact info should be included after your name at the bottom of the query.

Suzie Townsend also gave us this framework.

The main character must decide whether to _____________ or ______________.
If he/she decides to do ____________, the consequences/outcome/peril he/she face are ___________.
If he/she decides not to do _____________, the consequences/outcome/peril he/she face are _________.

One of the great things I learned from reading Janet Reid's blog is to answer these questions when working your query letter.

1. Who is the main character?
2. What happens to him/her?
3. What choice does he/she face?
4. What terrible thing will happen because of that choice?

Elana Johnson wrote a wonderful e-book titled From the Query to The Call.  Check it out here.

In this e-book, Elana breaks down the query into four sections known as Hook, Setup, Conflict, Consequence.

1. The HOOK is the log line, or one sentence that sums up the novel.
2. The SETUP is where you provide a few details about your main character and the catalyst that moves the
character forward.
3. The CONFLICT  is the main thing that prevents the character from getting what they want.
4. The CONSEQUENCE is what will happen if the protagonist doesn't solve the conflict. 

Then, you can write everything else like word count, pub credits, bio information (limited, very limited!)

Put all of these things together and you, too, can write a KILLER QUERY!

Lastly, here are a few tidbits I've learned through websites, published authors, writing friends, and critique partners. A query letter (in full) should range from 250-300 words (with at least 150 of those words being about the novel itself, although most would say 200!). Never put in the letter that this is your first novel, and always end with "Thank you for your consideration."

If you are a book nerd like myself, some books I've read on the subject can be found here. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page for more titles.

Do you have any query nightmares you wish to share?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


When we listen to other authors explain their manuscripts to us, it usually sounds something like this:

Well, I heard of a creature that I thought was fascinating so I began to write a story to go with that creature and four hundred pages later, I had a novel.  I had no idea how big it would be!   or    I awoke from an erotic dream where two characters are talking, and I started writing that day.  I never wanted to be a writer; it just happened.

Helpful, right?  If we believe that great novels are born this way all the time, it would appear that the thousands of writers who are trying to get published are working too hard. Those novels and authors' journeys are the EXCEPTION.  It's great that it worked out that way for them, but we have to be more realistic and practical.

But there is a lesson we can each learn from their stories of high-energy writing and publishing gold.  The lesson is that each of those novels began with a KILLER PREMISE, an idea. One idea.

I know it sounds like magic (a la JK ROWLING developing the Harry Potter storyline while sitting on a train with no pen or paper), but it really isn't. Premises can come to you anywhere, anytime. The trick is not to let the idea die on the page without the proper planning.  Rowling proudly states that it took her five years to get the planning and writing correct.  She displays the mounds of notes, research, and revised manuscripts for that first Harry Potter novel. That is the epitome of taking a fantastic premise and turning it into a solid storyline.

Don't wait until you're at the query letter stage to figure out your plot is weak.  Begin with your premise and then plot!

So here's the challenge question: How do you know when you have a good premise or a bad one?

Monday, April 18, 2011


I woke up this morning feeling enthusiastic and overjoyed.  I had a great weekend at the Writer's League of Texas YA-Z Conference. I met some fantastic writing peeps, awe-inspiring YA authors like Carrie Ryan (The Forest of Hands and Teeth) and Cynthia Leitich Smith (Tantalize, Eternal, Blessed), Mari Mancusi (The Blood Covered Vampires: Stake That, Bad Blood, etc), and some fabulous agents like Mary Kole, Kathleen Ortiz, Regina Brooks, Elena Mechlin, and John M. Cusisk.

I'm so overjoyed, I feel like dancing!  Let's dance to this mash-up of three of my favorite songs courtesy of Sam Tsui!

Sunday, April 17, 2011


First Person? Third Person? Which shall I choose?  Make the wrong decision and I might have to write the whole manuscript over.  Heaven forbid!

Who is the best narrator for your story?

To choose the best narrator, you must decide who is in the best position to learn the most during the story.  Who has the most to gain/lose in the plot? This character might be the best choice for the narrator.

In Twilight, Bella tells the story in first person narration.  It gives us an intimate look at what she thinks or feels about Edward, his family, and the Vampire World.  How would the story have been different if Edward, Jacob, or Charlie would have been the narrator.  Very different, I think.

One of the advantages of Third Person is that the opportunity is there for the writer to explore multiple perspectives. For example, The Mortal Instruments series has multiple perspectives based on scene. Cassandra Clare doesn't switch perspectives within a scene, but she does from one scene to another.  One scene could be from Clary's POV and another might be from Simon's POV.

I think the main point to consider is not pairing narrator and protagonist, but pair narrator with theme.  Who is the most changed?  Who learns the lesson?

A lot of YA novels are written in First Person because the audience likes that intimate feel from one character.  The choice, though, is yours.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


I'm behind with my A-Z challenge posts because I came home from work yesterday and crashed...HARD! I bet many of you understand that feeling of extreme fatigue.  So, I'll be doing my M post today and N tomorrow to get back on track by Monday.

Also, a milestone to report today.  I reached 100 followers yesterday! YAY! I really appreciate all of the encouragement and support I get from you all, my blog readers.  Your comments mean the world to me.  So, I will be having a 100 Followers Giveaway next week.  Hint, Hint: it  might have more than one winner (I've been known to do that!)

Okay, so my M post today is for MAKING A GREAT IMPRESSION! It's Conference Season, and I know many of you will be or are already signed-up for one.  Last year, I attended three and learned a lot about what not to do to impress the agents and editors in attendance. So here are some tips to help out.

1. Dress Professionally: I don't mean three piece suits or church attire.  I mean casual professional. Cute Capri's and a top or skirt and a comfortable shirt for the girls, khakis or dark jeans and a polo for guys.  Maybe not those specifically, but you get my point.  Something that looks good on you, makes you feel comfortable, and highlights your best features.  It's like a job interview so treat it like one.

2. Bring Business Cards: A few weeks or a month before going to the conference, have some business cards printed.  Vista Print is a great, fast way to get nice quality ones.  Agents and Editors may not ask for them, but some do.  It's easier for them to remember who they requested material from during pitch sessions.  Have them on hand.  But, the best reason to have them is for networking purposes with other writers you meet.  I can't tell you how many connections I've made!

3. Shake the agent/editor's hand: Make sure you have a free hand to greet them during your consultations, pitch session, or just at meet and greets.  I haven't met one yet who didn't shake my hand.  Make sure its firm and smile. This is their first impression!

4. Don't go all FAN GIRL/BOY on them: I learned this one big time!  We all follow our top agents on Twitter, Facebook, or blog.  So, when you get a chance to meet them in person, stay calm.  I met my dream agent at a conference recently and although I handled myself well, I think, there were moments my friend and Critique Partner had to pull me back down to Earth.  Luckily, I never did anything stupid in front of her!  If you're lucky like me to get a consultation or pitch with this agent, don't do all the talking.  Listen to what they are telling you and only answer direct questions.  Be prepared ahead of times with questions you may have because when you're seated in front them, your mind goes blank (trust me!). Don't follow them everywhere, either. I could write a whole book on this one, so I'll stop here!

5. Don't be nervous: I know, easy to say but harder to do! Agents and Editors love conferences because it's their chance to meet writers and talk about their projects.  They really do want to find something amazing.  Don't go in expecting to sign with someone.  Some agents/editors request materials sometimes just to be nice.  Read their expression and interest level to see if they are really interested.  Have fun and relax.  Talk passionately and professionally about your project and don't get discouraged if they don't request material.  And, don't get overly excited if they do. Most agents and Editors will give you tips and feedback.  Also, don't sound too rehearsed during a pitch.  One wonderful agent who I met at a conference told me during dinner: Don't memorize an elevator speech to impress me.  Let's have a conversation.  Start with the word count and genre and tell me the logline.  Then, I'll ask the questions I need to know.  I did what she said and we had a great talk about my book, characters, setting (she even offered to be my beta with all the New York scenery: She ROCKED!).  I could tell instantly she liked the premise of my book, gave me great advice, and requested the full manuscript.  Agents don't want to be pitched as much as have a conversation about your premise.  Most asked question: What happens in the climax?  They want to know you have thought through your entire plot.

Conference are meant to be learning experiences.  Take craft classes!  Don't just go to a conference to pitch, it won't be worth the money.  Go to learn and make a lasting impression! That's what I've learned. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I couldn't let the letter L pass without honoring my favorite character, Leo St. Clare.  Leo is the reason why I write. His voice came through my unconsciousness so loudly that I felt like he was there in the room with me.  I jumped out of bed, rushed to my computer, and started typing.  All the while, he was speaking to me this story. Six months later, SOLSTICE became a completed manuscript. 

I recently thought about my inspiration for Leo.  I didn't really have one at first.  He always had a shape in my head.  I could see his face very clearly, even his build and the way he walked.  But, it wasn't until I began to explore his character more that I realized some deep secrets.

(Those of you who have read all my excerpts and short passages about LEO and have swooned.  You'll like getting to know him a little better)

Here are ten things you don't know about LEO ST. CLARE:

1)Aerosmith is his favorite band.
2)He once tried broccoli, but couldn't stomach eating something that looked like a small angel oak.
3)Leo has a small scar above his right eyelid.  (His sister, Sophia, has a great right hook.)
4)He prefers all white linens and is immaculately clean and organized.
5)He has a great singing voice.
6)His first fight with a Death Demon was at the age of nine.  He won!
7)He feels most at home in NYC.
8)He swims every morning.
9)His favorite food is spaghetti and meatballs.
10)He's only been in love once.

Here is a little description of him:
The face staring back at me stole my breath. It clung to my throat refusing to budge. There were high cheekbones, a chiseled jaw line, and the cutest nose I had ever seen. It was like a male model from the GQ catalog I was reading had leaped off the pages and came to sit and chat.

His hair, the color of the russet autumn leaves, complimented his skin tone perfectly. His black ribbed t-shirt wrapped tightly to his chest, and the darkness of his attire made his eyes pop. It was very hard not to notice the blueness, like the pureness of the sky was poured into these two sockets and heaven had lit them on fire. I stopped breathing altogether.Before I could follow his gaze, he gripped my hand and stood up. I
immediately noticed how muscular he was, tall with elongated muscles like a swimmer. Hot! 

So, I hope you enjoyed my little expose of LEO.  What are ten things we don't know about your favorite character?