Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!!!

As someone who LOVES (seriously, LOVES) to watch Ghost Hunting/Adventuring/Haunting shows, AND who dressed up as a witch pretty much my entire childhood, minus that one year I was the Pink Power know, Kimberly...

I'd just like to say...

Happy Halloween!!!

Go do the Monster Mash, or watch a spooky show on the Travel Channel.  You can also go on a ghost tour, read a really creepy (but amazing) book *cough* ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD *cough* or, ya know, do that whole trick or treating thing :)

Aside from being my absolute favorite holiday, Halloween this year means something else:

Query season for ASTRAL has started!!!  Keep your fingers/hands/arms/limbs crossed for me, friends!

Oh, and one last update - to stay in the Halloween spirit for the month of November I've decided to switch up my original NaNo plans and focus on a pretty sweet (I'm using "sweet" in the "awesome" sense, not the romance-y sense) ghost story that's been sitting in the back of my mind for a little while.  Most of it is still pretty secret, BUT the parts I can divulge are:

A) This one's only got one POV.
B) The Big Bad is NOT going to be Casper (e.g. not quite a friendly ghost)
C) It takes place in the confines of a boarding school (one of the twists is how this is handled...bwahaha)
D) Multiculturalism (something I am really passionate about!) plays a big role
E) Danger (both real and...not-so-real) lurks around every corner!

That's all you get for now :P

Monday, October 29, 2012

Dear Teen Me...

This post was inspired by this awesome website!

I've already posted my defense of teens...and when I found "Dear Teen Me" I started to think about what I would say to my teen self...I'm going to go with beginning of senior-year me.

So, here we go.

Dear sixteen year-old Alex,
You're going to be seventeen soon, but I promise you're not the youngest one in your class (you're pretty close, though!).  I know you've always felt a little self-concious about that whole "being a year younger than everyone" thing, but I just want you to know that it doesn't matter.
Sure, it's something you'll deal with for a long, long time. 
But you know what? 
There are other things to worry about.
More important things than your insecurities.
I promise.

You're about to start looking at colleges, without any damn idea of where to start.  Sure, you've gone on a couple of campus tours, but you haven't gotten that magical "this is home, this is where I HAVE to go," feeling that everyone promises you'll get.  You're wondering how hard it's going to be to pay back those dreaded "student loans" (and, honestly, you'll still be wondering that six years from now), and if you'll be placing any extra stress on your single mother, who's started working two jobs to help pay for your education.

You might want to go and thank her now.  I'll wait.

Have you thanked her?  Good.  Never stop thanking her.

Now, about the college search:
Stop worrying about it!  When your lab partner in Bio talks about going to Virginia Tech and asks if you want to be roommates, just go with it.  Apply early decision, go to an Open House, and get those oh-so-desired "I belong here" butterfiles.  Because you do.  You always did, and you always will.  Oh, and when it comes to picking your major, I know you have the desire to be the next Jack Hanna.  I mean, what doesn't sound appealing about going on late night talk shows and telling the world about  how awesome jaguars are?

Don't get me wrong.  Jaguars are awesome.
But you're going to want to beware of trees.  Dendrology will break your spirit and persuade you to switch majors, and you'll promptly abandon Wildlife Sciences for Psychology.
Yes, you will get weeded-out by a weed-out class.
And you'll be so glad you did.

But enough college talk.  Let's go back to high school for a moment, as you sit in your second semester of "Theory of Knowledge" and try to understand whatever the hell Kant was trying to say.  I know you're busy with "Sweeney Todd" rehearsals and, in a few months, "Oklahoma" will take over your life (because those two musicals really pair well together), and you're wondering if that guy you like also likes you back.

Yeah, you know the one.
Well, here's some news for you: he might have liked you back...but you'll never get the chance to figure it out.  You'll go away to college, and he'll start hanging out with your best friend...and, inevitably, they'll start dating while you're dissecting things in lab, trying to figure out calculus, and learning all about why hunting deer is a really good thing for the environment.

Don't get too heartbroken over that one guy.  It'll suck for a while, but there are other fish in the sea.  I promise.

So stop worrying about your crush.  I know you can do it.  Instead, enjoy senior year.  Go to the movies with friends, watch "The Happening" on your other best friend's bootleg cable connection (or save yourself the trouble and just stay away, 'cause you'll get emotionally scarred by trees in college anyways), and just enjoy being a teenager. 

I know, I know, why would you enjoy being a teenager?  Being an adult seems like so much fun, right? an extent.  Don't get me wrong - being able to do your own thing is pretty great.  But then there are other things.
Like grad school.
And bills.
Job Searching.
And bills.
Uncertainty about where you'll be after May.
And have I mentioned bills?

I know you'll appreciate this, because you're me and obviously that means you're awesome (not as awesome as a jaguar, but still).  Let's look at your life like a movie.

And not just any movie.  We'll go with "Midnight in Paris."  It hasn't been released yet, but trust me, you'll love it as soon as the opening song starts playing.

This movie looks at how everyone always wants to think that a past decade/epoch was "The Golden Age."  For the main character, his Golden Age was the 1920's.  In Paris.  And I know you totally agree with this point.

But the main character learns something throughout the course of the movie - and his realization will become one of your favorite quotes ever.

You ready to hear it?

"That's what the present is. It's a little unsatisfying because life's a little unsatisfying."

I'm not trying to confuse you or anything.  I know I told you to enjoy being a teenager, and then I throw this quote at you like I'm Yoda.  But, just stop and think about it.  Yeah, the present may be a little unsatisfying.  But the same can be said for the future, too.  I'm not trying to bum you out or anything - these past six years have been great, don't get me wrong.  You'll be going to grad school for something you love, and you'll be giving yourself carpal tunnel while you try to crank out a pretty amazing story (that you also love).

Nothing's perfect, and everything's a little unsatisfying.  But there's a bright side to all of this: YOU can make it better.  YOU and only YOU can focus your life, your thoughts, and your actions, on what YOU want to do.  What's fun, what's fulfilling, what makes you excited about living. There are two things that do this for you.

The first, you're already doing.  Scribbling ideas for plays, writing short stories about polar bears going extinct and re-reading every. single. Harry Potter book that's come out.  Keep this up.  Write when you can and as often as you can.  And never, ever quit.
Never, ever quit.

The second you won't find until college - but, once you switch majors and think about grad school, you'll see the light.  You'll spend the rest of your life explaining to people what Student Affairs is, but it's totally worth it.
I promise.

I guess what I'm trying to say in an overly wordy way is this: Figure out what you love to do.  Then do it.

There.  Simple.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

What A Crazy-Random-Happenstance...

Friends, Romans, Countrypersons, lend me your ears...for I have the best freaky-there's-no-way-this-actually-happened-but-it-did-and-I-really-love-hyphenating-things story for you.

While watching Fringe on Friday (seriously, WATCH THIS SHOW IF YOU ARENT WATCHING IT YET) something awesome happened.

Walter, my favorite Fringe character ever, was trying to get past a couple of guards at a gate (he was in a car, I'm not describing this scene very well).  His excuse to get by the guards is what made me tweet/flail uncontrollably.

What did he say?

"I need to get to Kennebunkport, Maine."

This might not seem like a big deal to you.

You might not have even ever heard of Kennebunkport, Maine (if you have, please let me know because we have lots to talk about).  BUT, without spoiling anything, this little town plays a role in my book.

You know, the book that was inspired by Fringe.

This might be a sign from The Powers That Be...

Thanks, Fringe, for giving me some creepily awesome warm-fuzzies as I trudge into the Querylands (Halloweeeeeeeeeeeeeen! Ah!)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Obligatory Self-Doubt/Freak-Out Post

I've already talked about self-doubt like a gazillion times on this blog.  I know I promised to not write about it again, but I just can't seem to quit it (sorry I'm not sorry for the Brokeback Mountain reference).

Yeah, yeah, I know that my last few posts have been all excited/happy/positive-freak-out-celebration time.

And, don't get me wrong, there is still A LOT of positive-freak-out-celebration-time happening.


I'm pretty terrified to start querying again.  My estimated date is Halloween (because it's my favorite holiday, and still an appropriate number of days away for me to calm down...maybe).

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my MS.  Seriously, I've burnt my brain out trying to make this story the best it can be, fixed my plot holes, and (thanks to helpful notes from my CP) made the the whole thing MAKE SENSE.

Also something I learned with this book (and kind of my last one) - Describing settings for me is difficult, because I'd rather just write a book full of dialogue.

I admit it and accept this about myself, and for my next WIP I'm about to get even MORE settings-heavy, so yay for self challenges?  Maybe?

Anyways, back to my MS.

The plot is there.  I know it is.  Besides a few minor changes from when I just started writing (I'm a pantser, so my whole first 50 pages or so was just me spit-balling BUT MY SPITBALLING IS INTUITIVELY AWESOME AND SOMEHOW IT WORKS FOR ME) to make the plot flow a little better, I pretty much stuck to the story I wanted to tell.

So, now, naturally, the anxieties come.

In no particular order:
Is my story too much like Fringe, Lost, and Minority Report?  Am I just repeating story-lines, or did I really create something different?
Will people be able to figure out what's going on too easily?
Or, conversely, will I lose them 50 pages in?
Will people understand/like Sora?  I cleared up her motivations/character early on, but she's just not as easily connectable (is that a word? I don't think it's a word) as Bastian, my other MC/narrator.  
Will people get to the end and be
Is this book about anything?

But, here's the trick friends - throughout all the bumps and bruises (and hopefully high-fives) that are going to happen, I think I need to remember one thing, and one thing only.  Ok, I lied, two things.

Firstly: Anxieties are ok.  Everyone freaks out.  Just calm down, Alex and believeeeeeee you can fly.  Or just believe in yourself.  That might be better than the flying thing.

Secondly (again, am I making up words?)


Now I just have to find other people who love it, too.

I've got about a week to mentally prepare myself.  Let's do this (again!)!!!!!!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Writer Therapy Blog Hop!

**Just throwing it out is my birthday (I'm 23 - Blink-182 says no one will like me now...oh my).  So, yeah...wooo birthdays!!!**

Well hello all!  This blog post is part of the Writer Therapy Blog Hop!  So, without further ado, my post on MY writing therapy...

You really want to know?

You sure?

Well, here's my answer.  My writing therapy is...

Chocolate.  Dove chocolate, to be exact.
Going to the movies, and the movie popcorn that goes along with it.
Watching TV shows that make me think, that I can't live without, and that can always keep me guessing.
Twitter...I never thought I would love Twitter as much as I do, but there you go.
Grad school in a weird way, because I've know...papers to write that aren't stories.
Avoiding cleaning my part of the apartment (sorry roommates!)
MUSIC.  I can't stress this enough.  Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Bareilles pretty much helped me write my book(s).

Now, how do these things help me with writing?

I HATE silence.  So music helps me fill that unbearable gap.
Chocolate is delicious...and the best pick me up a gal could ask for.
Movies/TV shows all provide me with lots of inspiration and more stories/characters to love.  I wouldn't be who I am today if I had never discovered Buffy, or Tracey Flick, or Walter Bishop, or Scar, I wouldn't be who I am today.  Seriously.
Twitter helps me because the whole writing community seems to live on there!  If I need a tweet of encouragement  or want to know what's going on in the writing world, all I have to do is log-in!  Plus, I also now have a penchant for hashtagging haha
Grad school and not cleaning help me whenever I need a distraction from writing...or, sometimes, they provide me with a random AHA! moment that helps me along with whatever I'm working on.

So, yeah, that's prettyyyyyyyyy much it!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My Rant Against Useless Princesses.

I wasn't planning on blogging today - but, after tonight's episode of "Once Upon a Time" I just have too many feelings to hold in.  I've loved the show since it premiered, and never miss an episode.  But after what they did tonight...I don't think I love it as much.

My reason?

Belle is pretty much the most useless character ever.

Seriously, it's like she's just there to help Rumpelstiltskin change and grow as a character without doing any changing or growing herself.  One of the reasons I loved this show is that it took characters like Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood and made them kick-ass heroines who still had a heart.  They still worried about loved ones/fought for "true love"/did the right thing BUT THEY HAD BRAINS.

And they used these brains quite often.
Well, minus the time Snow let herself get poisoned by King Charles Widmore (thanks, EW, for the awesome moniker).

But still.  They are smart, wonderful heroines for young girls to look up to.

And then Belle comes along.

I was so, so, so excited to have Belle on the show.  Sure, in the original story, Belle and her Dad have a semi-creepy relationship, and the whole reason she ends up in captivity in the first place - her Dad taking a rose from the Beast's garden - can also be interpreted as her, ahem, literal deflowering.  There's also the abusive relationship disguised as a "girls, you can fix any guy if you try your best" message, but that's not what I'm going to focus on today, 'cause it's an entirely different blog post.

Since Disney is ultimately at the helm of this show, I'm going to defer to the Belle from the movie where a talking clock and candlestick sing "Be Our Guest."  I'll wait for you to get that song out of your head before I continue.  Sorry.

Is it gone yet?


So, in the movie, Belle's goal is to go out adventuring - to forge her own path, choose her own life, and not be Gaston's "little wife."  Oh, and BELLE LOVES TO READ.

This is what made her my favorite Disney Princess (before Mulan came around, of course.  My love for Mulan is another blog post).  She loved to read.  She had a mind of her own.  She was smart.

Again, we're skipping over the abusive "You can't do anything unless I tell you to" relationship.

So, somewhere along the way in "Once Upon a Time" that Belle got lost in translation.  She turned into someone who says ALL THE WRONG things because she can't read social cues (hint: if your Dad kidnaps you and tells you that you NEED TO SAY YOU DONT LOVE RUMPELSTILTSKIN  that is not the opportune moment to start talking about living your own life and go all "You can't tell me what to do!" on him).  Save it for after he lets you go.  Seriously.

And this Belle can't do a thing for herself.  When she's about to get her mind wiped on the worst cave-cart ride in a mine ever, what does she do?  SHE LOSES THE KEY TO HER EFFING HANDCUFFS, SO SHE CANT FREE HERSELF.  She has to rely on Rumpelstiltskin to magic his way in and save the freaking day.

Oh, and then when she FINALLY decides to do something with her life and re-open the town library, how does she find the key?!?


I know this was probably a call-back to the Disney movie.  But still.

There's something wrong with this picture.  

Don't get me wrong, I grew up on Disney movies, and I love them.  And I will continue to watch "Once Upon a Time," even though I'm mad at it.  

But let's just think about the messages being portrayed to young girls.

Whenever you need help, you won't be able to help yourself.

Yeah, you may be mad at the guy who lied to you, but if you stick around long enough, he'll give you something awesome like a library.

And, once that gift has been accepted, you'll decide that he is a good project to work on.  That you can change him.

You know, instead of working on yourself.

That's the only thing I'm asking for, "Once" writers - please, please, please give Belle some room to grow.  She needs to start having her own thoughts - thoughts that don't always revolve around "saving/changing" Rumpelstiltskin.  She needs to become her own person.  Make her own choices.

You know, USE HER BRAIN.

There was a moment in the episode where Red Riding Hood asked Belle what she liked to do.  And I held my breath, ready to yell at the TV, because you know what I thought her answer was going to be?


Instead, she said she liked books.  And I sighed out of relief.  But you know what?  I only thought that because so far ALL her character has done is worry about/try to change Rumpelstiltskin while cleaning his house/mansion/castle thing.  I seriously thought all she liked to do was clean, because that's all the writer's have made her care about.

And that is a problem.

So, to wrap up the rant, I hope my mind can get changed about this Belle.  I hope she does grow into her own person and that, yes, maybe she can grow with Rumpelstiltskin.

But she shouldn't just exist as an accessory to his change.  She also doesn't need to become a kick-ass fighter or anything like that.

She just needs to become a kick-ass person - which she can only do by becoming her own person.

Please, Powers That Be, make that happen.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

My Spooktacular Pitch Extravaganza Entry!!!

So, as if I wasn't freaking out enough about the Four Seasons Contest, the Spooktacular Pitch Extravaganza just started, and I'll be in suspense mode all. week.

I'm #27

Also, how badass is this?!?

It's super badass.

And don't make fun of me for my super-long 3-sentence pitch.  I needed those ridiculously long's complicated, y'all.

Right, back to freak-out mode!!!  Here we goooooooo!

*breathes into paper bag* OH MY GOODNESS

Friends on the internet.  About a month ago, I randomly decided to enter a contest.  It was The Windy City Chapter of RWA's Four Seasons Contest, to be exact.

I sent my first 25 pages off, really just looking for feedback.  That's all I wanted...some thoughts on what I was doing right, what could be improved, etc.

That's all I wanted.
Just feedback.

Then I saw the little (1) pop up in my gmail window, and thought it was my awesome CP replying to something I'd sent earlier...I'd just re-sent her a chapter, and thought that might be it.

It was an email from the chair of the Four Seasons Contest.

Yeah, that's right.


Let me repeat this.


And then I told my roommates I was going to throw up.  They were concerned, but excited once I explained myself.  Then I sent an email to my CP, telling her about the nausea.

And now I'm typing this.  I was so tired before I got the email.  I thought I would be going to sleep soon.

I was so. wrong.

*does frantic happy dance*


Oh, and to top it all off, I get a certificate for being a finalist!  You better bet that I'm framing that bad boy when it comes in the mail :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

*breathes into paper bag* THE ODDS WERE IN MY FAVOR!!!

So last night I decided to enter a lottery for Jamie Corrigan's Spooktacular Pitch Contest at LITERALLY the eleventh hour.  The entry window was only open for, like, one more hour and I thought, "Hey, just go ahead and throw your name in - there are already around 740 entries, and only 50 people get picked, so what the heck, might as well try.  It's not like you have a history of winning anything, anyways."

I talked myself into entering the lottery, and went to bed, not thinking too much about it (truthfully, I was more excited to see who got picked, in case I recognized anyone else's names on the list - I love cheering people on!).

Then I woke up this morning, and hopped on over to Jamie's blog to see who the lucky, lucky people are.

And what did I see when I scrolled down to the bottom of the list?!?

I'm the fifth one from the bottom.





Like, seriously, I almost upended my cereal bowl, and pretty much dance floated to my car.  After an awesome 3-line pitch critique from my CP, I sent my submission in, and now I get to wait for Saturday to roll around...'cause then the real fun begins!

Keep your fingers crossed for me, friends!  If you want to see how the scoring system works, or get more contest deets, click here!  This is one time where I'm actually looking forward to getting egged and TP'd!


Monday, October 15, 2012

In which I defend teens...

This blog post has been brewing in my head all day...which pretty much means that I've been mad ALL DAY.

Why have I been so irate?  Well, during a conversation with another writer friend this morning, something a third party said was brought up and it was terribly offensive to a) teens b) anyone who's ever been a teen c) people who aren't so far removed from their teen years (like me).

What was this comment, you may ask?  Well, it was something to the effect of:

"Kids today (teens) don't care about anything and YA should be dumbed down because of their lack of wanting to read anything of substance."

That was paraphrased, obviously.

As someone who reads (and writes) YA, obviously I had ALL THE FEELINGS when I came across this blasé statement about "today's youth."

One of the main reasons was my age.

Dear, dear interwebs, I'd like to declare a truth to you.


I'm about to be 23 (in one week!), and although it's been a while since my high school days, it's not that hard for me to remember the really good times (all of the musicals we did/were able to see on Broadway) and all of the really awkward, somewhat bad times (but hey, they happen to everyone).

You know what I also remember?

How much my classmates cared.  About each other, about our school, even about our terrible football team.

But you know what else they cared about?
Current Events
Politics/Elections (I was a sophomore in high school during the 2004 election, so...yeah)
Hurricane Katrina/relief efforts
Reading every damn book out there.
Learning, understanding the world, understanding ourselves.
Trying to get into a good college/figuring out what to do with our lives.
Giving back to the community.

Some of my most vivid high school memories revolved around the 2004 election.  Our teachers engaged us in discussions about what the issues were and what the candidates stood for.  For our AP Government class, we were required to attend a political party meeting or volunteer for a campaign.  We had to write reports on political broadcasts and shows, and had civil, thoughtful debates in class.

That election is what actually made me care about politics.  Going through that class, I decided that I wanted to be informed.  I wanted to vote (and I was mad that, at 15, I would have to wait three more years to do so).  But it wasn't just me.  My point is that all of my classmates were engaged - and still are engaged - in political conversations and are mindful of our civic duties - and it all started in our teen years.

In English class, we poured over Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Morrison, Hurston, Orwell, Huxley and many, many others.  We thoughtfully critiqued these works, and, although some of us cared more for certain authors than others, we all cared about what we were reading.  We all wanted to understand it.  And we all wanted more.

We also were/are dedicated to giving back to others through community service.  I loved it so much in high school that, for college, I went to an undergraduate institution with the motto of "Ut Prosim" - which means "That I May Serve."  When we weren't working on homework, or rehearsing for musicals/plays/band competitions/practicing to be Women's Basketball State Champs (yeah that happened and it was awesome!), we were doing community service, or working at grocery stores to help support single parent families, or trying so, so, so hard to be perfect - never realizing that "perfect" is this imaginary thing that will never, ever exist.

My point with this rant is that I remember what it's like to be a teen.  It can sometimes be confusing and scary to realize "Oh, shit.  I'm going to college soon/not going to college and will have to get a job/I have no idea what I'm going to do with my life."  It's overwhelming to know that you have your whole life in front of you.  And then, when everyone constantly asks what your plan is, and stand there with or without any kind of solid answer, life can be equal parts frustrating and terrifying.

Although I am a few years removed from teen-dom, I'm going to just get out there and say it.

I write YA because I think teens are awesome.
I write YA because I remember what it's like to be a teen.
I write YA because I want to help others (and myself) make sense of this often senseless world.

Something that's bothered me lately is when I hear people say that they've decided to write YA because it's "hot/what will sell/etc."  Every time I hear this, I have to fight the urge to shake these people.  In my humble opinion, I think you should write what you love, because you love it.  Yeah, being published would be awesome.  But what's the point in reaching your goals if you do it half-heartedly?  If you're not putting your heart and soul into something, I know, I KNOW teens will be smart enough to see right through it.  

And the same goes with being "preachy" because you want to teach teens "good morals" or whatever other reason people give for doing something like that.  

Instead, I encourage you to write something meaningful. Write something that will help someone see things through another lens, or help someone cope through a difficult time, get them to think through a tough decision, or show them that it's ok to make mistakes.  Write about what it means to be human, - to grow, to grieve, to succeed, to fail.  Write because people out there (especially teens) LOVE to read.  

My only caveat is that you don't write down to anyone.  Because, while teens (and all other ages groups) LOVE to read, they LOVE to read things that make them think, that are worthwhile, that are meant for them.

At my high school, we all craved well-constructed escapes from different pressures.  Whether someone was wondering if her mom was going to make it through chemotherapy, struggling to maintain their valedictorian status, or understanding why their parents were getting a divorce, we all had something to get through.  We all needed someway to cope.  

But, most of all, we just wanted to know that someone cared.

I write YA because I care.  And if I'm able to make one small difference in someone's life, then I think I'll have done my job right.

So to Hell with writing something because you want to be the next "Hunger Games" or "Twilight."  And to Hell with the ridiculous generalization that teens are totally apathetic towards everything and DON'T CARE about what they read.  They do care about the world and the things happening in it.

And, as YA writers, we should care that they care.

So, if you write something, write something that will speak to teens.  TO them.  Not AT them.  Write something that you love, and are proud of. 

Because chances are if you love it, they will too  :)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

In which I awkwardly attempt to Vlog...

Yeah, I did it.
I tried to Vlog.
Nothing interesting happens, but I'll post it because I can.
So, if you'd like to hear about my day, or waste about one minute and twenty five seconds, click on ye olde video clip!

**actual post with substance coming soon to a screen near you**

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Get Your Pitch On - Workshop for THE AWAKENING

Here's my workshop for Vicki Orians' THE AWAKENING

Un-marked version:

After witnessing her best friend’s death, sixteen-year-old Anna Talbot is kidnapped and sent to another world where dark, fairytale creatures roam free and people with freaky abilities claim to be part of her past – like her brother or her gorgeous best friend.  

When learning the truth, Anna discovers she alone holds the key to finding the one with the powers to stop her own uncle from destroying everything – if he doesn’t get to her first.

My thoughts, still in this beigy-color.

After witnessing her best friend’s death, sixteen-year-old Anna Talbot (woohoo age and name!) is kidnapped and sent to another world. where A world where dark, fairytale creatures roam free and people with freaky abilities claim to be part of her past – like her brother or her gorgeous best friend (This was one long sentence, so I tried to split it up as best as I could.  I'm sure you can make it sound better!  Also, is the best friend she meets in the new world the same best friend that just died?!?).  

I'm kind of confused by the last part of this paragraph.  Did she know these people with freaky abilities before she crossed over?  I assume so, since it's her brother and best friend, BUT from the way it's worded, it sounds like she's just met them when she crosses into that world.

When learning the truth (learning the truth about what? the world? the people with abilities?  the gorgeous best friend?), Anna discovers she alone holds the key to finding the one with the powers to stop her own uncle from destroying everything – if he doesn’t get to her first (ok, I get what you're saying here but the wording is kind of confusing.  For example, I don't know if the uncle is trying to get to Anna first or the "one" with the powers who can defeat him.  And I'm also wondering why she holds the key.  What's the key?).

My re-worked version:

After witnessing her best friend's death, sixteen year-old Anna Talbot is kidnapped and sent to another world.  A world where dark fairytale creatures roam free and people with freaky abilities claim to be part of her past - like her brother or her gorgeous best friend.  The same best friend who just died (if they are the same I said, I was confused!).

While navigating this strange new world, Anna discovers that only she can find the (insert name of one-with-powers here - like if your story has a name for them like "The War-Winner" or something) because (insert why she can do this).  If she's unable to find the (one with the powers) in time, her uncle (does her uncle have a title?  If he's not mentioned earlier, this might be an unnecessary detail.  Calling him "The Bad King" or whatever his title is could be just as effective) may destroy everything.

Random thoughts:

I think the story you have sounds quite intriguing, and I love YA Paranormal, so I would definitely read this!  That said, questions abound!  Did her brother die, too, and is that why he's in this world?  What are the fairytale creatures?  Like actual fairy tales?  Or do you mean ogres and trolls and whatnot?  'Cause if you mean the latter, I would just say "monsters" or "ogres" - the way it reads now, I'm expecting to run into an evil Red Riding Hood, or something like that.  

Finally, don't be afraid to un-vague things up!  Throw more details in there, and watch the lengthy sentences, because that can get confusing to the readers.

I do love this, though!  All of my comments are purely my opinions, so feel free to use as little or as many of my suggestions as you like!  I'd be happy to look at your re-worked pitch!

Good luck to you :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My Falling for Fiction Critique :)

Hello all!

So you may have noticed the Falling for Fiction badge on the side of my blog - they're a site that I love following, because they offer critiques to writers - for anything!  Have a query you can't get through?  Does a scene still sound wrong after you've re-written it 50 times?  Send it to them and they can help you out!

A couple of weeks ago, I sent something in for critique and it's now live for the whole internet to see!  Without any further ado, here's the link to Jenny Morris's critique of my first 250 words!  Pop on over and leave a comment and/or follow this awesome blog :)

And while you're clicking on links, do go here and leave some feedback for FAKE, Beck's workshopped piece for the up-coming Get Your Pitch On contest!  Help a fellow-writer out, friends!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Get Your Pitch On - Workshop for FAKE

Here is the Pitch On Workshop submission for FAKE J

If you want to see the other blogs hosting workshops, click here!

I’m taking a page out of the wonderful Falling for Fiction ladies and editing with my comments in another color!

Name: Beck Nicholas
Country of residence: Australia
Title: FAKE
Genre: Contemporary
Word-count: 72000
Pitch: When the new girl, Lana, publicly steals 16-year-old Kath’s dream date, she's humiliated. She plots revenge with her best friend, seducing Lana with a fake online guy. Everything’s going to plan until Kath begins to fall for Lana’s brother, Sebastian. When Lana goes missing, supposedly with her new boyfriend, Sebastian’s determined to discover who’s messing with his little sister. Kath has the answers, but the truth could lose her everything.

So, here are my thoughts in this beige-y color.

If Kath is your main character, I would rearrange the first sentence. 

Sixteen year-old Kath (last name) is publicly humiliated when her dream date gets stolen by the new girl, Lana.When the new girl, Lana, publicly steals 16-year-old Kath’s dream date, she's humiliated. To get revenge, Kath and her best friend She plots revenge with her best friend, seduce Lana with a fake online guy. (I thought this made it flow a little better).  Everything ‘s going according to plan (This is kind of a cliché.)  Their plan works – until   until Kath begins to fall for Lana’s brother, Sebastian  - and Lana goes missing. When Lana goes missing, Supposedly with her new boyfriend. Sebastian’s determined to discover who’s messing with his little sister(you set the stakes here, which is nice BUT I would like to know more about what “messing with” means.  Does Sebastian know that his sister’s boyfriend is fake? Was he suspicious of said boy from the get-go?), and Kath has the answers. But the truth could lose her everything(I get what you’re trying to say here, but I don’t know if that’s actually a phrase).  But if she chooses to tell the truth, she may lose everything.  ( I re-worded it to make her dilemma a little clearer.)

Overall, I LOVE this pitch!  I think your story sounds fascinating, and I really want to read more :)  I think it just needs a little bit more about Sebastian’s motivations, because I’m not sure if he’s just being a protective big brother, or if he knows that Lana’s boyfriend is a fake.  This could also help ramp up the stakes!  Also, are there other consequences to her telling the truth besides losing Sebastian?  And is Lana’s disappearance more sinister than this pitch makes it sound?  I’m not sure if she just popped over for an imaginary day-trip, or if she got kidnapped, etc.

And, as always, my suggestions are completely subjective!  You can change as much or as little as you want!

Here is my re-worked pitch:

Sixteen year-old Kath (last name) is publicly humiliated when her dream date gets stolen by the new girl, Lana.  To get revenge, Kath and her best friend seduce Lana with a fake online guy.  Their plan works – until Kath begins to fall for Lana’s brother, Sebastian – and Lana goes missing.  Supposedly with her new boyfriend.  Sebastian’s determined to discover who’s messing with his little sister, and Kath has the answers.  But if she chooses to tell the truth, she may lose everything.