Sunday, July 24, 2011

First 200 Words for GUTGAA Blog-Fest

"The Lion Within"
YA Science Fiction

First 200 Words submitted for review based on Deana Barnhart's awesome Blog-Fest!

Bugs peered at Renna through the shower curtain as if waiting for something to happen. Renna ignored them. She wouldn’t miss the uninvited guests when she and her dad returned to California in three weeks.

The heat of the Kenyan sun warmed a bucket of water. It streamed over her head through a spout. The shower would only last a few minutes, and her long mane of hair took the most water to clean.

A monkey screeched nearby. Renna counted to five. Like clockwork, a series of “shut up,” was shouted throughout the village. The monkey kept right on screeching, tossing in a few hoots and chortles. Now that she knew she’d miss, especially when sitting at a desk listening to high school teacher’s drone on and on about nothing interesting.

The water ran out right after the last soap suds were rinsed from her hair. After two years in Africa, she had the timing down to the second. She grabbed her towel and proceeded to tap the shower curtain to remove her admirers. All but one, an insect the size of her pointer finger, left without hesitation. Renna tried to flick it off multiple times but it wouldn’t budge. 

Writing is Like Losing Your Keys

When I lose my keys there is little else I can think about. I search everywhere. I look under things where dust bunnies have created dust bunny babies. I open up cupboards knowing I'd never put my keys there, but check just in case. I ask everyone in my family if they've seen my keys.

And then there is the relief when I find them. The satisfaction that I' haven't lost my mind. Usually they are in a strange but logical place. I tell myself, never again. I'll put my keys exactly in the same place so this won't happen again. Ha...three days later. "Has anyone seen my keys?"

This is how I feel about my novel. I think about constantly. I have that feeling in my gut that I have to find the best way to tell my story. I read. I write. I talk. I research. And then repeat the cycle over and over again. It's hard to let go of the story until it's complete, until my characters have told their story the best they can. I'm still searching for my keys, and look forward to finding them soon.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Gearin' Up to Get an Agent - Week Three

I'm continuing to participate in Deana Barnhart's blog-o-rama. This week were asking others in to fest to help us with our queries. I feel nervous about posting mine online, like a fellow blogger Robin Weeks. So, I'm going to borrow her paranoia helper idea and apply it to mine. I have removed the query, just so that it isn't out there. 

Everyone was so helpful! Thank you so much!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Rocky Tale of Dio Franklin

This month I’m participating in Deana Barnhart’s “Gearin’ Up to Get an Agent” Blogfest (to learn more visit This week’s assignment is to continue a story chain that started at 5am today and will continue until 8am tomorrow! Below you’ll find the link to the writer that posted before me, my continuation, then the writer that continued what I wrote. It is cool to see what each talented writer brings to the story! The full collaboration will be posted tomorrow at Deana's site, linked above.
Chain link before my entry:

My assignment: Take the previous post and continue building tension toward the crisis.Your words are: type, blood, jacked up

Dio wondered if the blue ghost was influencing her emotions. Sad thoughts filled her head about death, sickness, and starving animals.

Roddern spoke to the ghost, that floated between the two of them. Dio couldn't understand a word Roddern was saying.

"What language are you speaking?" she said, interrupting him. 

The ghost turned to her, looking more like a vision of her father now rather than an indistinguishable blue figure.

Dio took a step back. "What type of trickery is this?"

"This isn't a trick. Your parents are here, Dio. Your father's ghost can only speak the language of the dead, which I'm fluent in. Your mother sent him here to make sure you were safe."

"You're fluent in dead?" She asked, looking at Roddern like he was jacked up on something.

"It's in my blood," Roddern said.

Dio didn't know how to respond. Her world was turning stranger and stranger. The floating spectacle that looked every bit like her father gave her a sad smile. Her heart softened and she took a deep breath. "Can you ask him why my mother didn't come too?"

"I already know the answer," Roddern said.

He came closer to Dio and looked at his feet before meeting her  gaze. "You're mother couldn't come...because she is trapped."

Continued at:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Your Protagonist's Bumper Sticker

I was reading some great quotes in a magazine that got me to thinking about bumper stickers. I thought it would be fun to write a bumper sticker that my protagonist, Renna, would put on her car. The cool part of this exercise for me was coming up with something Renna could relate to and laugh at. So here is her bumper sticker:

I try to control my temper,
but stupid people get in my way.

Now, the boy that Renna is starting to crush on is still a bit of a mystery to her. She hasn't realized that his bumper sticker would read:

Honk if you love Sarah Palin!

For the environmentalist that Renna is, you can imagine what she'll do about that relationship when she finds out. Or will she become so in love, that she'll overlook his faults? Oh to be a teenager again.

Friday, July 8, 2011

An Hour Well Spent

While "Sponge Bob," and "Phineus & Ferb" echoed in the background, I jumped around reading writing questions for the Blog-O-Rama going on Deana Barnhart's site. There were a lot of great questions, and there are a ton of great aspiring writers out there. I really enjoyed the comments and input.

My writing time is very fragmented.
I am working on the illustrations for my next picture book, which are wonderfully challenging and very intimidating. I am also more then half-way through my novel revision which I'm sending to an agent based on their full MS request. 

I keep focused on the multiple projects by doing things like, organizing my novel's plot on sticky notes. This method was inspired by Martha Alderson, author of "Blockbuster Plots." Martha was a speaker at a conference I attended in San Rafael, CA last summer. 

I also included in my picture an ad I pulled from a magazine. I've had to change my protag's eye color recently. Another character in another book that has similar abilities as my protag has the same strange eye color (e
ven though I came up with the eye color without knowing the other existed. I swear.) Ugh.  Frustrating! It goes to show that there really are few original ideas in the world. The fun part is taking ideas and putting them together in a unique way. Right?

As far as my illustrations, if there is a blank canvas sitting at my easel that motivates me. I do to-scale sketches first, before I transfer them to canvas and paint. I have to paint my backgrounds first and then I can focus on the main subject-the animal. Of course, all of my animals are done in dots.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Blog-O-Rama Writing Question

Would you continue writing your work-in-progress if someone with a crystal ball said that it would never be published?

I was asked if I would continue to write my books just for the pleasure of writing, or whether I would give up on my stories if they never got published. 

I don't like leaving something unfinished. So, I do think I would have to  finish my story, and try to get it published. If I wasn't successful, I would try again, but with another story.

Each story I write my craft improves, so that motivates me. But, I think timing and luck are definitely a part of success, and those things are out of my hands.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hook the One Sentence Pitch

I entered the one sentence pitch contest on Operation Awesome today. I made it in by the seat of my pants being entrance number 50 of 50 allowed. 

Alas, I was running out of time and didn't read this great article about one sentence pitches, we'll see if the luck of the Irish is on my side, or the save the best for last theory? My favorite part of the article is two pitches written for "Wizard of Oz," you have to check out the second one, it's hilarious.

In the New York Times book review inserts over the past few weekends there have been some fabulous one sentence pitches for several YA book releases. I must have read them a dozen times, repeatedly in awe at how much is captured about the book in so few words. I'm not quite at that level of clarity, but practice makes perfect. Here was the pitch I submitted, just in case I need to refer back to this at some point.

Renna Healy wasn't born part-lion, she became one by accident at the age of sixteen, forcing her to find a way to control her inner-beast before she kills someone.

It's a bit choppy, but I feel like I'm getting closer:)