June 28, 2012

One Exciting Contest AND Some Very Good News!!!

Okay, now that the Fiction Femme Fatale contest is coming to a close (tomorrow we announce our winners), I thought I'd give you a heads up on another contest, and this one is a doozy!!! My very good friends, Ruth and Michelle are cohosting. Here's the tagline:

30 pitches, 10 agents, 1 week

To enter you need a query and the first 500 words of your manuscript. Ruth and Michelle are going to read each and every entry and then pick out the the 30 that they loved the best. AND here's where it gets truly awesome: they'll be helping those 30 people polish their query and first 500 words before they post them up on their blogs for a week so that those ten agents I mentioned before (to be announced very soon) can come view them and make requests.  That means you get two agented authors helping you get your work lean, mean, and ready to be seen. This is a HUGE opportunity to skip the slush pile and get noticed by agents that span the genres from young adult, to picture books, to adult fiction!!!

For all the details, go here or here (I'm including both blog links-Michelle's and Ruth's but all information is basically the same).

Get busy, get writing, and get seen this summer!!!!!

NOW, on a completely different note, I'd like to take a moment to give my critique partner, Krystalyn Drown, a giant shout out and a heart felt congratulations because her book, Spirit World, was just aquired by Entranced Publishing. It will come out as an ebook next year!!! Krystalyn is really talented and one of the most determined writers I know and I am over the moon for her! I've read Spirit World more than a few times and Ican say that I'm not surprised in the least that Entranced Publishing snatched it up! Here's a little description:

Riesa Adair knows that hearing voices is not a sign of sanity, so somewhere between her summer in a mental institution and her stepfather’s brutal attempt at an exorcism, she learned to keep quiet about it. But just because she denies the voices, it doesn’t mean they’ve gone away.

In fact, when a trio of Ghosts yank her into their world, Riesa realizes just how far they'll go to reach her. And they're the helpful ones. On the bad side, a megalomaniac Fire Spirit has taken an interest in her, because according to the Ghosts, Riesa's part of an ancient prophecy that's granted her special powers. Her ability to shift between worlds is exactly what the Fire Spirit needs to break through to the human world and gain control of it. Even worse, her abilities complement his. He's fire and she's ice. Combined, they would be unstoppable.

Unwilling to join him, but unable to resist the power which could end her stepfather’s “cures,” Riesa wavers. But when the Fire Spirit grows impatient and kidnaps her best friend, the one boy who loved her even when everyone else thought she was crazy, her choice becomes clear. It's time to see what happens when fire and ice collide.

Congratulations, Krystalyn!! If you like what you've read above, be sure to head on over to her blog and tell her so!

June 19, 2012

Writer Jealousy-Dang But That Grass Is Greener

First listen to this. It pretty much sums this feeling up:

It's the elephant in the room, the thing that all writer's feel, but most don't own up to: writer jealousy. Some other writer is ahead of you on the path to publication, to perfecting voice or craft, to the New York Times Best Seller list and it eats at you--especially if in the moment that you hear about their good fortune, you're nursing your own wounds after a particularly awful rejection. You can be jealous of someone you don't even know or of your critique partner of many years and it can be hard to rise above it.

 I feel your pain.

I do.

I've been there.

I still go there.

Sometimes I pick up a book that's so well written that I want to simultaneously hug and slap the author. I love them for creating something so beautiful, unique, and wonderful, but I also wish that I could've come up with it myself. Inside at times I'm still three, fighting the urge to run up to the unsuspecting toddler beside me and take the toy that's practically glowing in her chubby little hands and yell: MINE!--nevermind that I never saw or was interested in that toy before he got his paws on it. It's not right, it's not mature, but it's the truth.

(If about now you are reading this open-mouthed, one hand touching your lips like you can't believe how nasty I am...stop reading...this post is not for you. But if you are smiling and nodding and giggling to yourself...you are family, stay, have some tea with me and we'll compare our very large green-eyed monsters.)

The truth is no matter what stage of writing you're in there is someone who's doing better than you and it's hard not to let their success take away from where you are. If you're just getting started writing, you may envy the person three years into the process or someone who started earlier in life than you. If you're agented, it may be the author who's already out on submission while you spend months doing revisions. If you're out on submission, it might be the friend who gets an offer the very week they go out on submission--for six figures--and it's their very first manuscript. If you're published it may be the person who pubbed when you did who has a better cover and marketing plan and who's book is climbing every single list out there. Or the person who wrote a book that is just so well written that it wins the prize you secretly covet-- as well as many more.There is someone to be jealous of at every single stage of this process. You will never be so successful that someone doesn't do something that you wish you'd done or could do.

I used to think that when I got an agent and a publishing deal I wouldn't experience it anymore, but unfortunately getting these things hasn't suddenly made me impervious. If anything I have moments of sheer and utter terror that I won't be able to maintain what I've managed to get--I'll flub my next book or never have another marketable/unique idea. And this insecurity leaves the door wide open for my green-eyed beastie. Every other writer around me seems to be more talented, more creative and better at this whole profession than me and more deserving of what I have. I don't feel this sudden confidence and it sometimes leads to me thinking that those other writers I mentioned must be more confident, nmore talendted, more blessed than me and how nice it must feel to be them. Jealousy rears it's ugly head. And if I let it, it would undo me, paralyze me until my worst fears actually come true.

I start thinking: If everyone else's grass is greener, why try?

Then I tell myself this:

Because every single other writer feels this way (okay, I don't know this for sure, but I like to think that it's the case). They may not feel it to the same intensity or at the same time, but they do experience it. What makes a writer (or any person for that matter) successful in the end is her ability to throw a lasso around the jealousy monster and strangle it into submission, to use it's power to push her to do her best while never believing it's whispers of her unworthiness. I know that when I manage to do this, that monster morphs into a mini version of itself and my happiness for other writers and their successes overshadows it. I can be happy for them and use their success to inspire my own. It may not be the same success, but it will be mine. And somewhere out there someone will look at what's happen to me, sigh loudly and wish it was happening to them. That's the truly odd thing about jealousy. You can have it and be the object of it all at the same time.

So how about you? How do you combat your writerly jealousy?

June 12, 2012

Truly Awesome Giveaway Over at the Fiction Femme Fatale Site

My other blog, fictionfemmefatale.blogspot.com is hosting a killer giveaway this month. By the end of the month my critique partners and I will be giving away five fabulous prizes. They are:

An arc of Libba Bray's THE DIVINERS

An arc of Chris Colfer's (Glee's Kurt) new book, THE LAND OF STORIES

A query critique from my lovely agent, Lucienne Diver with The Knight Agency

A first chapter critique from yours truly, moi.

A critique of choice: query or first chapter from my awesome crit partner, Stefanie Jones.

And all you have to do to enter is follow the guidelines at the fictionfemmefatale site. So get yourself over there and check it out!!

June 6, 2012

Tribute to Ray Bradbury

Most of you know that Ray Bradbury passed away yesterday and I just needed to take a moment to remember him. But instead of listing all of his accomplishments and many stories, I want to write about how he managed to affect me--the reader me and the writer me. First you should know that most of the stories that effected me in a permanent way growing up and as a fledgeling writer were short ones. I discovered Mr. Bradbury's stories about the same time that I discovered Stephen King's and I have to say that both of these writers had short stories that have resonated with me ever since I first laid eyes on them.

But for the purposes of this post I'm going to focus on Mr. Bradbury. I will never, and I do mean NEVER forget the first story of his that I read. It was about a little girl who lived on Venus where it rained incessantly and the sun only came out every seven years.I don't want to go all spoilery here in case you go and read it, but it has a heartrending plot line that left me shell shocked. It's called All Summer In A Day and it affected me so deeply that over the years I have thought of it on and off pretty consistently. And the prose! SIGH. It's a thing of awful beauty this story--a hauntingly bad situation that's utterly believable and contemporary--even now--maybe especially now. Here is an excerpt:
The children pressed to each other like so many roses, so many weeds, intermixed, peering out for a look at the hidden sun.
It rained.
It had been raining for seven years; thousand upon thousands of days compounded and filled from one end to the other with rain, with the drum and gush of water, with the sweet crystal fall of showers and the concussion of storms so heavy they were tidal waves come over the islands. A thousand forests had been crushed under the rain and grown up a thousand times to be crushed again. And this was the way life was forever on the planet Venus, and this was the schoolroom of the children of the rocket men and women who had come to a raining world to set up civilization and live out their lives.
“It’s stopping, it’s stopping!”

The little girl in this story--Margot-- will take a piece of your heart and never let it go. This story shined a spotlight on the complex nature of humanity in a way I could understand when I was younger. It showed me how careless and cruel humans could be and how quickly that cruelty could escalate without there being intent on anyone's part for that to happen. He mastered creating antogonists that were wholly human--and sitting in my own classroom as I read. I KNEW these kids and shamefully, from time to time, was ONE OF THEM.  I finished reading this story with a sick stomach and tears in my eyes. In a way this story follows many of the same themes that fascinated me in William Golding's Lord of the Flies, but Ray manages to accomplish it in way fewer words. It puts a spotlight on how easily man can let his baser emotions get the best of him, even if he views himself as a basically good person. Given the right situation people can and do behave very badly indeed.

I say all of that so that I can now say this: Ray Bradbury was the best kind of writer. He managed to entertain me while also making me think. His prose was astounding, his story telling masterful. He is one of the best teachers of craft any writer can hope for. He will definitely live on in his work and in the hearts of those who read it.

Are there any Ray Bradbury stories that resonated with you? If so, I'd love to hear them. And if you've never taken the time to read him...what are you waiting for?