Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Material Girl

So, I find this fascinating. Apparently Madonna and her 13-year-old daughter Lourdes Leon have been designing a new junior's clothing line with Macy's called  Material Girl. If I was a teenage girl, I'd be all about it, because I loved Madge back in the day, and I love her now.

But the reason I mention it is because Lola (Lourdes) is the voice and the soul of the new line, and is blogging for the company's website.

And her blog post is just dripping with "voice". Here's a snippet:

Helluuur thurrrr, I’m Lola and this is my first blog entry so it’s kind of like ummmm….

I’m just going to use this blog entry to tell y’all a little bit about myself. I’m 13 and I’ll be 14 in October, so I can’t wait for that because I am FINALLY allowed to dye my hair… THANK YOU MOTHER!! My favvvv color is black (just because it goes with everything) and my least favorite color is brown (because it resembles the color of something QUITE gross).

If I wrote a first person MG or YA book in this voice, what would an agent or editor say? I'd suspect they'd say I was 'trying to hard to sound like a teen', which is something I've seen on agent blogs in the past.

Could a whole novel be sustained in this voice? Probably not. What can I take from this to inspire me?

Do you find the voice charming or annoying? I love the personality that shines through.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Verdict is in

Writing pals agree The Peculiar Princess should be expanded into a chapter book, so back to the drawing board I go. Now the only question is, will my diary format work for this project? Let's just say the others were not down with it in the draft they read.

Now, if Billy would stop shoving play-doh at me, maybe I could actually try and start those revisions.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Getting ready for crit group

Last couple of days I've been editing my groups' work for our crit meeting this Thursday. Looking forward to it. I submitted The Peculiar Princess, and after their feedback, I think I'm going to make it my main focus, and hope to get it in an almost-final draft form by the end of August, with the hopes of submitting it in the early fall.

That is, of course, IF I can find time between my art commissions, 'day job', watching my preschooler and getting 300 pairs of earrings made for a local show at the end of August... hmmm... well, the attempt is all, anyway! LOL.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Impossible Picture Book Part 2

Just a quickie update. I'm trying to quickly write out the ending to The Peculiar Princess today, so I can have it ready by tomorrow to turn in to my writing group. But as I'm plugging away over here, I'm getting this nagging suspicion that this story is definitely going to be too long for a standard picture book. And...rather than cut it, maybe I should expand it to a chapter book type thing.

We'll say what my wise group has to say next week on the matter.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Impossible Picture Books

So, today I actually have positive things to report! Since Thursday night's coffee shop session where I tackled an extremely short picture book, today I managed to work on The Peculiar Princess, and I managed to rough out about 1,000 words of the story -- which is about 3/4 of the book. I have only the ending to write out and the first draft will be complete!

Yay! Go me! LOL.

But now for the bad news, because it wouldn't be a Karyn blog without bad news.

You picture book writers already have a pretty good guess about what the bad news will be. Did you happen to catch my word count in the paragraph above? (Go ahead, check it again.)

See it now? Yup, there it is. One THOUSAND WORDS AND NOT FINISHED.

I've written another unpublishable picture book.

See, in today's market, picture book agents and editors will rarely look at anything over 1,000 words from a newbie like myself. In fact, they actually want to see books that are 500 words or less! So you see my problem?

But my natural inclination, my personal preference -- and this goes back to when I was a young un' reading picture books for the first time -- is for longer stories and fairy tales with gorgeous pictures. Apaprently that's what my subconscious wants to write too.

What's a girl to do? You're supposed to write the book that you'd like to read, but if no one wants to publish it, then what?

A question for another day, I guess. Right now I'll just worry about finishing the darn thing, revise the hell out of it and see what happens.  Hopefully my critique group will have some words of wisdom for me next week, because I'll be turning this sucker over to them on Friday.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Thursday Coffee Shop Writing

So far, I've managed to keep my new, Thursday night Starbuck's writing tradition going. Managed two hours away from the screaming preschooler, just me and my laptop and a caramel frappacino, and lo and behold, I was able to edit my very rough first draft of The Goodnight Kiss into a slightly less rough second draft.

Wordwise, it's super short. Well, for me, anyway. Including the title and my name, it's coming in at 260 words. In today's picture book market, agents and editors are looking for books that have fewer than 500 words. The problem for me, is, finding that balance between sparse text, and illustrations. In my head, I can see this illustrated out, and it works, but how do editors judge text, language, that's so stripped down? Do they judge your 'hook' or story concept?

The novelist in me wants to write short stories that are 1500 words long, full of description of every action, setting, etc. What helped me last night was to write this one not as prose, but to break it up, as I would a poem. Back in the day (five, six, seven years ago)  I used to do poetry slams, and some of that started to come back to me last night. That rhythm. Maybe if I keep writing in that mindset when I'm writing these picture books, I'll be able to master shorter word counts.

So, success! Accomplishment! And now I have to stop my preschooler from using my bad back as a jungle gym.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

rejection in my inbox today

I was surprised to find an agent rejection in my inbox after lunch today!

The rejection was a response to a query I made on February 15, for one of my picture books, and it was a very nicely written form letter. At least, I'm assuming it was a form letter. It did mention that my book was "charming" and I'm going to tell myself that they modified their standard form rejection to include that nice little adjective just for me.


I'm actually happy to see it. Just a little more than 2 months for a response, and it was long enough ago that I've lost the freaked out anxious feeling I had when I submitted it. It's actually a nice reminder that I CAN and DO finish books, and I am moving forward with my writing endeavors.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Manuscript Madness

This past Friday I met with a few other local writers, and we had a fun casual chat about where we are on our writer's journey, and how we could help each other arrive at our goals. Since then I've been trying to figure out what those goals are exactly. It seems simple.

  • Write
  • Get Published

But if you're a crazy genre-hopping dilettante like me, what exactly should I be focusing on in the extremely limited amount of time I have available?

At the meeting, one of my writing friends said that one of these days she'd love it if I would write down all the different manuscripts I have in various states of completion, just so she could see my madness.

Up to the challenge, I combed through one of my hard drives and was sort of horrified at what I found there. Many scraps, many false starts, tons of notes... I'll list here the projects that I still consider 'active' and that either have decent word counts or pieces that I have devoted lots of notes/research time to. I've further broken them out by genre.

And for my own practice, I'm going to try and write one (or two) sentence pitch/query descriptions for them. For novels where I got stuck in the planning phase, this will be extremely difficult, and hopefully enlightening. For instance, by focusing on the core conflict in my manuscript for "The Hunter and the Swan" I realize now how I lost my way in the middle instead of focusing on what matters the most - the dynamic between the heroine, the main character and the rival. Which is probably why my writing of it spun out of control and died.

(all titles are subject to change without notice, because, let's face it, some of them are pretty awful...)

Regency Romance:
Love's Healing Heart
When penniless Miss Geoffries arrives at Dunnray castle to start her new position as a companion to the Dowager Duchess of Oxbourne, she's horrified to discover her job was just a ruse. The current duke has a  very different offer for her to consider, and her answer will determine more than just her reputation, because a web of family secrets and lies from the Duke's shocking past threaten not just her heart, but her life, as well.

The Hunter and the Swan
Five years after a disastrous duel exiles her from polite society, Lady Lilian March decides it's time to brave the London social scene again. But more than just her past stands in the young widow's way of happiness--the man of her dreams is engaged to the one woman in the world who has cause to hate her the most.

Lucy's Locket
Lucy (forgot her last name) never forgot ten year old (Hero), who she met after both his parents mysteriously and tragically died. Twenty years later Lord X (Hero) has returned back home to find a wife, and the most likely candidate is Lucy's gorgeous cousin (NAME). Will Lucy be able to halt his engagement to her cousin and make him see her as more than a childhood friend? Or will the shadows from (hero's) past destroy both of their happiness forever?

(this one I see as a series)
     Eleven year old Mist believed she'd always be a kitchen slave. But when her hidden powers flare to life, not only does she find out she's a firemage with the ability to conjure and control elemental fire, she becomes an apprentice to Lyander, a powerful adept who wants to free the mages from their own form of slavery: gladiators for the Targi nobility.
     Lyander and the mages claim to be her new family, but can she truly build a life among them? Especially when both her old master and her new master's rival want her dead?

Gladstone Academy
Zachiah is a normal 13 year old ffrom Chicago, until the morning he wakes up to find that not only has his voice changed, the employees in his father's house look like creatures out of a fairytale.
    Zach has the Sight, and he can see through any enchantment or fairy glamour. His father transfers him to Gladstone Academy, a mysterious private boarding school in Southwestern Michigan for supernatural beings, like vampires, werewolves and faeries.
    When the 'normals' start dying in town, victims of a rogue vampire attack, Zach finds out that one of his new friends, a half-vampire outcast, is the prime suspect. Can he clear his friend's name and find a place for himself in the new school, before he ends up as someone's lunch?

Dragon Warden
It's Eryk's duty to take up a dragon egg for his Forge and become a dragon warden. Trouble is, Eryk doesn't want to stay home and raise dragons; to win the heart of Copper Creek's shield maiden, he'll need to be a hunter like his uncle. But his personal feelings become insignificant when the entire Dwarven race is imprisoned by a dragon-riding elf lord from the plains tribes. Now it's up to Eryk, his baby dragon and a young elf maiden to save both their races.

When thirteen year old Staven's grandmother dies, he must fend for himself on the edge of the Wood, which, by law, no villager is permitted to enter. Driven by hunger, he does the unthinkable and enters the magical wood after game. When he's saved by Willem and his bonded Wolfhound, Rufus, Staven wants more than anything to become one of the Duke's Hunters, like Willem. But when he begins his training and discovers that he's the Duke's illegitimate son, he takes on more than just his father's name--he inherits a host of enemies, including his own half-brother, and the dread, fae queen of the Wildewood.

Griffin (no real title - this is a very old work, so this blurb will be very rough and sketchy)
Griffin never knew her father, who her mother refused to speak about. When a strange man shows up at her mother's funeral, she will be drawn into a war that will impact two worlds -- not just her own, but the strange, magical kingdom her father once ruled.

Science Fiction

Benjamin Merriweather and the Squidipedes of Nama
    For 900 years, the Earth colony ship Hermaion has been searching for a new home-world, and now the ancient mothership is failing. After one last gamble, the colonists have arrived at Nama, a harsh desert planet already inhabited by two races: the human-like Namat, and the Ul'Rathi, a monstrous race that is slowly exterminating the Namat.
    No one wants to go to Nama more than twelve-year-old Benjamin Merrieweather. To impress his schoolmates, Ben secretly downloads experimental software into his neural-net, and becomes part of his father's planetary expedition team as a translator. But Ben soon learns that the job of translator is harder than he imagined. And worse still, he and the Namat girl Kirsa will discover up close and personal just how terrifying the Ul'Rathi can be.

(This one started out as a graphic novel and is a huge space opera that is too big and started too long ago to summarize quickly here. But the main two characters are Jack, a half-human and his imprisoned lover Starlock, the betrayal that separated them, and the fate of two planets. I have several chapters of comic script written on this one, so I might go back to it and redevelop it someday.)

Pet Psychic
When a Labrador Retriever is the only witness to his owner's murder by a serial killer, a pet psychic/doggy daycare owner  finds herself working with the police. Can she solve the murder before she becomes the next victim?

Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Night Watch
(this one I see as a series)
Twenty years after selling her soul to the devil, Chastity Brown now works for him as a bodyguard for things that go bump in the night. But when she meets a sexy half-angel cowboy, she regrets the bargain, and dares to dream of redemption.

Boyfriend Wanted
When 18 year old Lizzie Bennet's boyfriend Jake breaks up with her 4 weeks before senior prom, she decides that the best way to find a replacement is by placing an ad in the school newspaper and interviewing candidates. But in the strange business of love, Lizzie learns that sometimes the best candidate for the job is the one that seems the least qualified.

Picture Books
Too Many Pants
When Princess Grace buys too many pants and causes a national crisis, it takes the King, his ministers and a pant avalanche to convince her that she just might have more pants than she needs.

The following picture books are unfinished and they have very sketchy log lines, because I'm still trying to figure them out:

The Goodnight Kiss
A father who is away on business sends his son a good night kiss over the telephone so that the boy can get to sleep.

Cat Too High (The Cat Who Loved to Climb)
A cat who loves to climb leaves home and scales a huge skyscraper before she realizes that home is where she really wants to be.

Hip Hop Cat
Elvis the cat loves to dance, and he dances throughout the day whenever he wants something in this silly, fun rhyming story.

The Peculiar Princess
Everyone knows that princesses love pink, but not Paisley. Her favorite color is black, and her Royal Parents will stop at nothing to 'cure' her of her peculiar ways.

Alien ABC (no blurb)

Whew! I think that's all of them (not including my short stories). If you made it to the bottom of this huge pile, which project(s) sounded most appealing to you? I'm curious to see what you guys think I should tackle next.