A fantasy story blog.
Coming January 2014.
This RSS feed once hosted my Teenage Author blog. Since I started blogging for teen writers over at Go Teen Writers in 2012, this blog feed has just been sitting around, doing nothing.
I decided that was a waste.
Starting in January of 2014, this blog will become a new adventure. I’m going to be writing a fantasy novel right here, and you can read it as I write it. I’ll post a new scene each week. And at the end of each scene, I’ll post a survey that you can vote on to decide where I should take the story next. That’s right. The readers will decide how to make this story awesome.
So, keep an eye out for Onxy Eyes. It’s coming. And if you want to subscribe now, you can. Just click on the link at the top of the sidebar, and you’ll have access to all the fun the moment it starts.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait.
__ Have you fallen into a “Q&A” pattern anywhere? Where one character is doing nothing but asking questions and the other character is doing nothing but answering them.
__ Do your characters use different words for the same thing, or are their phrasings too similar? (Grocery store can also be the market, purses can also be handbags)
__ Are you letting character/story information come out naturally, or are you trying to explain too much with your dialogue? (“Gee, Bob, I’m so glad it’s our anniversary today and that we’ve been married for 7 years and have 2 beautiful children!”)
__ Does every character behave and interact as though they believe they are the main character?
__ Are you using contractions?
__ Is your dialogue age-appropriate? Or are your toddlers elegant and your grannies saying words like “peeps.” (*Shudder.* Don’t know why, but I hate that phrase.)
__ Do you have too many “group” conversations? (Conversations with 4 or more.)
__ Is “small talk” bogging down your story? (Hi, how are you? Good, how are you? Good. Nice day we’re having. Sure is. And so on.)
__ Do you have a good balance of internal thoughts and dialogue? Does the reader get a sense of not only what the point-of-view character is saying, but why they are saying it and what they feel about the conversation in general?
__ Have you considered conversations from the perspective of all the characters involved, not just the point-of-view character?
Anyone notice something that should be on the list? Leave a comment below, and I’ll get it to Stephanie.
Most words simply require an apostrophe s on the end of the word to make it possessive.
Ex: The girl’s notebook. Mark’s scarf. The keyboard’s letters have worn off.
But adding an apostrophe s doesn’t work for the word “who” because “who’s” is a contraction.
WHO’S is the contraction of “who is” or “who has.”
Ex: Who’s there? Who’s seen it?
WHOSE is the possessive form of “who.”
Ex: Whose sword am I holding? Whose is this sword?
WHOSE is also the possessive form of “which” (when “which” is used as an adjective).
Ex: A word whose meaning is unknown. A bird whose feathers are black.
And WHOSE also means the one or ones belonging to a person or persons.
Ex: Whose shoes are those?
I recently discovered that my Zondervan editor acquired a teenage author! I was so excited I had to know more. Rachel Coker is sixteen years old, and her book, Interrupted, releases in March 2012 from Zondervan, a division of Harper Collins.
How cool is that!
And check out the AMAZING book trailer!
I was so excited about Rachel and her book, I just had to interview her on Teenage Authors so you all could be inspired that, yes, big publishers are willing to publish a book by a teenage author.
So keep at it! Don’t give up.
Welcome, Rachel! What would you say is the best way for a teen to become a traditionally published writer?
Practice. Practice, practice, practice. Write all the time. Read all the time, too, and figure out what kind of writing style you like. Become comfortable in your own voice. Go back over everything you’ve written and edit. Make it even better. Don’t be afraid to listen to the criticisms of people you respect and try to make your book the best it can be.
When the time comes, and you think you’re ready, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and attempt to publish your work! The first thing to do is find a respectable agent that you trust and let him help you to jump into the world of publishing. If your work is good, it will sell itself, to some extent.
That is great advice. Rewriting is so important! Is writing books your “day” job, Rachel, or do you work someplace else?
I would say writing books is my “night job”. I’ve always been doing something or another during the day to earn money, mostly working for myself. I teach piano to about ten kids, so that takes up a lot of my time during the days. And I’m trying to start my own photography business, so I spend a lot of afternoons doing portrait photography and editing the photos. Those are my two main jobs. Writing is just something I’ve always loved to do, more as a hobby than a career. It wasn’t until this last year that I started having editors and agents, and I began viewing writing as an actual job. But it’s definitely not a huge part of my life. I mostly write at night, in my bed, after all my work for the day is finished and my family is all asleep.
Wow! You sure do keep busy. And I’ve seen your pictures. They’re beautiful. Check out some of Rachel’s photography on her blog.
Just for fun, what actors would your choose to star in your book-turned-movie if you could choose them?
I think I would be scared to death if my book ever became a movie! I’m such a Type-A personality and I would definitely want a say in that kind of thing. But if “Interrupted” did become a movie, I think I would want a relatively unknown actress to play Allie, my main character. Someone very fresh and young, with the dark hair and blue eyes and quiet way about her. I think the perfect Sam would be Logan Lerman. He would just fit that role so well.
Ooh, good choice for Sam! When you were young—not that you’re “old” now, but—what did you want to be when you grew up?
A Broadway actress. For real. I wanted to live on the stage and wear cool costumes and sing. Then I realized I don’t have the best voice, and decided to take up the piano instead. For a long time, I had plans of going to college and being a concert pianist, but then I got my book contract and everything changed. I’m still a teenager, so I know I have a few more years at least to figure out what I want to do with my life. I love to write, and take pictures, and play the piano, so I’ll probably pursue one or two of those.
You are clearly a gifted artist. I’m so excited to watch your career unfold!
If God told you that you’ll never publish another book, would you still keep writing?
Definitely. I didn’t start out writing just because I thought it would be published, or because I wanted to make money or become famous. Even today, I write simply because I love to write. It’s definitely a mental thing. Writing heals wounds and makes you feel better about even the saddest things. If God led me to the conclusion that writing was in some way harming my faith or family, I would probably give it up. But other than that, I can’t think of too many reasons why I would stop writing altogether. It’s such a part of who I am.
What is your favorite fast food restaurant?
I think my favorite fast food restaurant is probably Taco Bell. I just love Mexican food. But I couldn’t pick a favorite chain restaurant, because I haven’t been to enough. Whenever we go on vacation, my dad has this thing about us eating at “local dives”. So I’m used to rundown bathrooms and waitresses with very Southern accents. I have been to enough “Chicken and BBQ” spots to last a lifetime.
I adore Taco Bell, Rachel. It’s a good thing there isn’t one where I live, or I’d eat it way too much!
Remember those “classics” that you have to read in high school English classes? Which book is your favorite? Which one should no one ever be forced to read?
Well, I’m still in my last year of high school English, so I’m sure there are more that I will read this year and love. But I think the best book I ever read was “Gone with the Wind”. I actually picked it up myself when I wanted to know more about the Civil War and it completely changed my perspective on that period in history. But I hated half of what I read the year I studied Ancient Greece and Rome. I’m still trying to figure out a way to make a modern soap opera out of Oedipus Rex—it was so dramatic and cheesy! And Plato’s Republic should be banned for so many reasons…
You’re invited to a White House function, and you have the chance to give a 10-minute speech to the President and the country watching on TV. What do you talk about?
I’d probably write up a whole speech about what I wanted to say, talking about how our nation needs to get its priorities straight. How young people need to stop relying on the government to provide for them and get out there and make their dreams happen through hard work and perseverance. But then I’d get up there and realize I was on TV and blabber for the whole ten minutes about absolutely nothing. Then I’d go back to my seat and wouldn’t be able to remember anything I said. It would be sad.
LOL! I’d probably do something similar. And I totally agree with you about our nation’s young people! One must work hard to achieve one’s dreams. Our nation was build on a lot of hard work. And you are certainly setting a great example of chasing your dreams with hard work. Way to go, Rachel! I’m totally proud of you.
If you could go to any country, where would you go and what would you do?
My girly answer: France, to shop. Or England, to take photos. I would go crazy with all the rainy, romantic weather and gorgeous scenery.
And she was never heard from again…
If your mom wrote the author bio for the back cover of your next book, what would she write?
Ha ha, my mom actually did write the bio for the back of my book! Or rather it was a team effort. I felt uncomfortable writing my bio, so I asked her to write me up something that I could use. What she wrote was just a bit too complimentary and mom-like, so I toned it down a little and sent it to Zondervan for my author bio. My mom is a fantastic writer, though, so I trusted her to describe me.
Well, she did a great job! Congratulations again on your new book! And thanks for talking with me!
To support Rachel, follow the link here to Amazon, and click “like” so that her book shows up on your FB page. Then pre-order your copy today at a great pre-order sales price. I can’t wait to read it myself!
Have you signed up to participate in National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo?
What is it, you ask? It’s an event where everyone is trying to write a whole book in one month–or at least 50,000 words. NaNoWriMo is a great way to learn to write fast, to get that story out on paper so that you have something to go back and edit. I wrote the book Replication for the 2007 NaNoWriMo, and it’s getting published this December! So you never know what might happen with a NaNo book.
You just never know.
My tips for getting through NaNoWriMo?
–Take a little time to plot out where you’re going. I like to write out a phrase for each planned chapter. That way if I get stuck, I can skip ahead to the next one.
–Don’t edit! Just write, write, write! You can edit later.
–Ignore writer’s block. Don’t worry if there are holes or if something doesn’t make sense. Just keep going. If you get stuck, skip ahead to another scene.
Want to give it a try? Click here to visit the NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program and start writing today.
If you do, come and friend me. My NaNo page is here: http://nanowrimo.org/en/participants/jwilliamsonwrites
Here is a smaller-scale contest you might want to check out that is for short stories and poetry.
I just learned about an awesome writers contest for unpublished writers. It’s called the Phoenix Rattler. There are several genres you can enter. The genres are judged by big time agents and editors in the publishing industry. It’s only $25. Check it out. I highly recommend giving it a try. Deadline is Oct 29th!
Link to contest page: http://christianwritersofthewest.weebly.com/phoenix-rattler-contest.html
I’m a visual learner. I could read about something for a week and not figure it out. But show me what it looks like and I got it. Bam!
In case some of you might be that way, too, here is a handful of examples of things that have to do with the publishing industry. You’ve got to learn how to do this stuff if you want to succeed.
Note: Manuscript format is always 1” margins all the way around, double spaced, aligned left—do not justify your text. Only in a query letter, cover letter, or synopsis do you get to single space your writing. Click on the actual articles to see an example of how to format your manuscript.
-Sample NonFiction Query Letter
-Cover letter for a magazine article (sold to Brio & Beyond in 2006)
-Same cover letter for a magazine article, formatted for email
-Actual magazine article that sold to Brio & Beyond
-Cover letter to Jeff Gerke for YA fantasy novel By Darkness Hid (sold to Marcher Lord Press in 2008)
-Synopsis (partial) for By Darkness Hid
One Sheets for Novels
-One Sheet for YA novel The New Recruit
-Trilogy one Sheet for what became Replication: The Jason Experiement (sold to Zonderkidz in 2010)
Jill’s YouTube Video Tutorials
-Pitching my novel: What I should have done: Replication
-Formatting a Manuscript, Part 1: Page Set Up and Text
-Formatting a Manuscript, Part 2: Page Breaks
-Formatting a Manuscript, Part 3: Paragraphs
-Formatting a Manuscript, Part 4: Cleaning things up
-Formatting a Manuscript, Part 5: Page Numbers
-Formatting Your Manuscript for Amazon Kindle–PART 1
-Using Mobipocket to Format Your Book For Kindle–PART 2
-Uploading Your Novel to Amazon Digital Text Platform for Kindle–PART 3
-Works Cited page to accompany non fiction submission
Many writers stink at the novel pitch. I am one of them.
I practice and practice, but when I sit/stand in front of an editor, I babble, I ad lib, my mind blanks and I say things I never meant to say!
It’s so frustrating!
In September of 2010, I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. I pitched my new idea to an editor there. I started out rambling about my plot, the whole while thinking to myself, “Danger, Jill Williamson! You have deviated from the plan and are heading into shark-infested waters!” I finally shut up and let her read the one sheet in silence. When she finished, she said some nice things about the idea, then asked me if I was published.
I said, “Oh, yes. Ha-ha-ha-ha. I wrote this.” I handed her a bookmark for my fantasy novel By Darkness Hid. “It won a Christy Award this year,” I said.
She looked at me, raised an eyebrow, and said, “You should really open with that.”
And so when I got home from that conference, I made this video to send to the editors who requested the proposal, in hopes that it might help them pitch my story to the other editors and the pub board in the way I failed to pitch to them.
It was really hard to get through this without stuttering, you can see my eyes darting back and forth as I read my lines, and there are several places where I spoke in a ridiculous tone that I never meant to use–totally embarrassing! But it did the trick.Jason Farms, now titled Replication: The Jason Experiment, comes out January 2012 from Zondervan.
Here is the video:
If you are headed to a writer’s conference, you don’t have to make a video. But you could plan to do three simple things:
1. BRIEFLY say how you came up with the idea
2. Give a BRIEF synopsis of the plot
3. Tell them a bit about yourself (And don’t forget to include things like whether you are published and have won a major award.)
I’m just sayin’.