Bologna 2017 Book Fair

Right now, the Bologna Book Fair is taking place in Bologna, Italy. What an exciting prospect!

The Bologna Book Fair is an annual event that gives agents, editors, publishers, etc., to find new talent, new trends, and acquire new rights. It sounds fabulous. While reading about it, I found this article that relates what current agents and publishers will be looking for at the Fair in regards to children and young adult books. Which is my area of writing emphasis.

Hands down, the most sought after reads will be from marginalized and diverse authors. Most of the agents in the article mention this as a popular trend, but I hope it’s far more than a trend. It should be here to stay and continue to grow so publishing and readership becomes more well-rounded and culturally diverse. That is the society in America. Diverse. Varying. Ever-changing.

It also looks like YA fantasy will be much harder to break into in the next couple of years. That makes sense, though, given all the break-out hits of the past ten years. The bar is much higher.

However, middle grade fantasy is on the upswing, which is good news for yours truly, and YA contemporary is, as well.

Of course, the current political climate was also mentioned and how this will influence the writing wave of the next few years. I don’t doubt it one iota.

I look forward to seeing what comes about after this Fair! I only wish I could go!

What kinds of books are you hoping to see in the near future? Any genre or age group specifically?

Happy writing!

“Yeah, well, we’re all writers, aren’t we? He’s a writer that hasn’t been published, and I’m a writer who hasn’t written anything.”
Steve Martin, Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Other Plays

“I wrote a book. It sucked. I wrote nine more books. They sucked, too. Meanwhile, I read every single thing I could find on publishing and writing, went to conferences, joined professional organizations, hooked up with fellow writers in critique groups, and didn’t give up. Then I wrote one more book.”
Beth Revis

Opposing Views

Hello, again, bloggy friends!

The past year has been a nutty one, and I’m shamefully returning to the blogging scene. I’m taking a page out of a friend’s blog and trying to make writing goals for each month.

If you don’t know her, Indigo Wood is amaze-sauce. Truly. A fabulous friend and amazing writing buddy. Go visit her.

Anywho, recently I undertook a massive project to completely revamp my fantasy series. I know I’ve said that before with multiple re-writes, but this is actually a re-think from the beginning. Similar ideas, but plot and overarching series arc is different.

In an effort to bring about the best writing I can muster, I read two different books on writing (from my impressive collection of books on writing), and I wanted to recommend them both.

However, they’re polar opposites in views. But I think that’s a good thing.

The first one is Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish by James Scott Bell.

Essentially, he wrote a book for people who think they can’t learn how to write. How he learned to write and the techniques from start to finish for completing a book. Including how to plot, finding ideas, structuring a successful novel, etc.

I literally took notes on this book as if it were a class on writing and found some AMAZING ideas for my new plot in the process. This was a life-changing read.

On the other hand, I’m not the most structured writer and feel too confined when following specific guidelines. So I also read Story Trumps Structure: How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules by Steven James. A solid book for pantsers or semi-pantsers, like me.

All about breaking out of the structural guidelines that other books purport to be essential to the writing process. Actually, I felt like he was taking a few digs at Scott Bell’s book, directly, but maybe that was just me.

Both of these books offered great advice and two different takes on successful writing. Depending on your mood, ideals, personality, etc, one of these would work for you. I recommend reading them both to get a well rounded concept of how to write, if you’re struggling.

 

Happy writing to all!

 

“In fact, one could argue that the skill of the fiction writer boils down to the ability to exploit intensity.”
James Scott Bell, Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish

“Organic writers are never directionless because we can always work on scenes that fulfill the promises we’ve made earlier in the story or go back and foreshadow the fulfillment of promises we think of as the story takes shape.”
Steven James (Story Trumps Structure: How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules)

Blogging Slump

That’s right. I admit it.

I’ve been in a blogging slump. I just haven’t felt like blogging lately, but I’m totally okay with that. I do miss my bloggy buddies as most of you are the reason d’être that I started branching out into reading and writing other things.

But I’ve been focused on writing, reading, more reading, tons more writing, and a little sleeping/working knocked in there somewhere.

On top of that, this week is my last week at my current contract before I head to Maine for the spring/summer.

I’m too stressed right now to be 100% excited because I have so much to do before then, plus I’ve been dealing with some medical issues lately–the last three months, really–but haven’t mentioned it to anybody until last week. And the docs don’t know what it is. So. Yay.

Anywho…

A quick update on my life: I’m 60-some books into my 115 book goal for the year, reading-wise, but that doesn’t include books I’ve already re-read since the beginning of the year. If I did, that number would be in the high 70s.

I did a complete 100k rewrite in six weeks and I won a couple auctions through a literary agency and am getting feedback on my query letter, first 10 pages, and first 50 pages, from three different agents. Squee!! I’m most excited about that. How often do you get that opportunity?!?!?!!

 

What’s going on in your lives, my bloggy pals? I’ll update with more pictures and try to get back on the blogging bandwagon, especially since I signed up for Camp NaNo in April to help me finish the second book in my MG fantasy series.

Hugs and happy writing/reading to all!

 

“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it.
That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”
― Octavia E. Butler
“A normal reader reads to enjoy, a writer is in training”
― Bangambiki HabyarimanaThe Great Pearl of Wisdom

“You must write as if each word is a precious drop of blood, or a tear to be saved in a glass phial.”
― Chloe ThurlowKatie in Love

In Training Mode

This latest rewrite, which is, by far, the best stuff I’ve ever written, has pushed me into a whole new level of motivation and creativity for my writing.

To the point where I am training my body to wake earlier and earlier each week so I can get to a coffee shop or cafe in the wee hours to write until I have to see my first patient.

And you know what? It’s awesome!!!

Don’t get me wrong… I’ve been super tired the last couple weeks in the morning, but the payoff has been huge in the way of productivity and word count and immense fortification of the creative juices

I should have known. I’ve always been more of a morning person, anyway, but I just didn’t want to get up at the armpit of dawn to write.

Currently, my alarm is set for just before 6, but I’m hoping to back that up to 5 a.m. over the next few weeks.

I won’t overtax myself if I need a morning off, because we all do, but the best writing I’ve ever done is bubbling forth from this fountain of morning inspiration and motivation.

So… I shall continue!

What have you changed or had to adjust to for the sake of your writing? Have you given anything else up in order to make time/room for your writing?

Happy writing!

 

“Morning is wonderful. Its only drawback is that it comes at such an inconvenient time of day.”
― Glen CookSweet Silver Blues

“Write in the morning, revise in the afternoon, read at night, and spend the rest of your time exercising your diplomacy, stealth, and charm.”

― Roberto BolañoThe Savage Detectives

Irish Inspiration

For those who didn’t know, since I’ve been so absent in the blogosphere lately, I recently took a trip to Ireland with my sister.

Before you ask, no, I’m not made of money. She and I found a great deal on Groupon and couldn’t pass up the opportunity. It was an interesting trip. I had a lot of fun, but so many things went wrong, it bordered on hilarity and insanity. Heh.

So I thought I’d share a few photos that have my imagination whirling and helped fuel some writing while abroad.

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This is Malahide Castle, just north of Dublin. It’s about 1,000 years old and was begun just after the Vikings invaded Ireland.

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Inside of Malahide Castle. I just adore old architecture.

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That orange paint was specifically designed for the ancient family who lived here–the Tablots. Also, as point of reference, Margaret Thatcher sat in one of those chairs when she was PM.

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Glendalough, in County Wicklow.

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Upper Lake in Glendalough. Braveheart was filmed in and around these hills.

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The ruins of an ancient cathedral in a monastic city in Glendalough. Ancient buildings inspire so much in my imagination.

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Smithwick’s. They make whiskey. Basically, they’re the equivalent of Jameson’s in the city of Kilkenny, another super old city in Ireland.

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The Cliffs of Moher on Ireland’s western coast. That’s the Atlantic Ocean right there. Anybody remember that cave? Hmm?? It made an appearance in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

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More of the Cliffs. I could easily have used up all 9,000 shots in my camera at this locale.

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The Cliffs of Insanity!!!! Princess Bride was shot here, as well, if anyone remembers those scenes.

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Can you tell I love architecture yet? Especially old churches. This one isn’t that old, actually, but beautiful, nonetheless.

 

None of these photos have filters of any kind, I promise. I took about 700 pictures on this trip. Some are much better than these, others are much worse, but I find myself drawn to these and a few others.

Have you ever been to Ireland? Where/when did you go? What was your favorite area? Do you like these pictures and find them as inspiring as I do?

Happy writing!

 

“The tune was sad, as the best of Ireland was, melancholy and lovely as a lover’s tears.”
― Nora RobertsBorn in Fire

“It is an ancient land, honoured in the archives of civilisation. Every great European race has sent its stream to the river of the Irish mind.”
― Thomas Davis ‘Literary and Historical Essays’

Reading Challenge 2016

I’ve already started the New Year by lagging sadly behind on my blogging. However, my writing and reading have been happily productive, so I don’t feel too bad.

This year I’m taking part in a reading challenge hosted by John Guillen over at Johnny Reads. I follow him regularly and if you don’t follow him, you should. He’s not afraid to share his views and frequently posts book and writing news I don’t see in any of my other frequently visited sites.

I haven’t done a reading challenge before because, let’s be honest, I’m a voracious reader and it doesn’t take me long to paw through books. But his list is fun and doable and will stretch me out of my reading comfort zone in a few areas.

Check out the challenge here and maybe join us on our reading ride!

I do need some advice, though.

Two of the challenge requirements are reading a crime novel and a book by James Patterson. I am not well versed in either, so I’m hoping some of you can recommend a few good choices.

I usually don’t take reading recommendations from people because I like to find my own books and many peoples’ recommendations have ended up being DNFs for me.

So if there are any gateway-books into the crime and Patterson lists, I’m happy to hear your suggestions.

Thoughts, anyone?

Happy reading!

 

“My eyes hunger to read more books then time allows me to devour.”
― Jazz Feylynn

“You read too much.” Daemon exhaled slowly. […]
“There’s no such thing as that.”
― Jennifer L. ArmentroutObsidian

Ebook vs. Hardcover

Many of you know I care for neither eBooks nor hardcovers, but I’ve come to the realization that I have to pick one.

There are a couple of series I’m reading right now and the next book is out in hardcover, but they only came out a couple months ago, so the paperback is far, far away.

They are both amazing series, and part of me wants to wait until the paperback is released, since that is my reading medium of choice. But I honestly don’t think I’ll make it.

So I have to pick.

Ebook (since I have a Kindle I barely use), or hardcover (which I hate holding and think too bulky).

What shall it be? What shall it be?

It is…

Ebook.

I know. Shocking, right?

My reasons are 1. They’re cheaper. 2. I can’t stand holding hardcover books.

3…

Well, that’s about it.

Hardcovers look nice on a shelf, but I can’t stand how it feels to hold them. Plus, they’re heavier and take up more space in my car when I travel.

So, if I can’t have a paperback in my hands, I’ll suffer with an eBook. And hey! I might even learn to love it.

Which do you prefer?

Happy writing and reading!

 

“The judge said he was going to throw the book at me. I hoped it was an ebook in the cloud, and not a heavy dictionary.”
― Jarod Kintz99 Cents For Some Nonsense

 

Word by Word Editing

When we edit our manuscripts, it’s important to take a step back. Once ‘The End’ is typed, shove it to the side for a while, at least a few weeks, then bring it back out and begin the editing.

One thing I’ve learned is most crucial to my own editing process, and might work for yours, as well, is to break it down into pages.

Take it page by page, paragraph my paragraph, line by line, word by word.

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It can be a time consuming process, but is always rewarding in the extreme. Depending on your genre and style, the type of vocabulary, syntax, formatting, and structure will vary. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.

We should look at each word, each sentence, and say to ourselves, “How can I make this sharper? Deeper? More intuitive?”

This process will not, and should not, happen in a first draft. We may have sparks of wickedly good insight and dialogue, but first drafts just get the ideas down on paper. Editing is where the real work begins, and where our genius should rightfully shine.

Say you have a paragraph that looks like this:

Sara walked home from school, lifting her foot higher every so often to avoid tripping on uneven cement. In her backpack was her report card, and she was nervous to show it to her parents. She’d never gotten a C before and wasn’t sure how her dad would react. So she slowed her steps and took the long way home to put off the uncomfortable confrontation as long as possible.

Now, is this paragraph terrible? Is the grammar and sentence structure atrocious?

No.

But it’s not exactly gripping, either. Do I really care what happens to Sara?

Not particularly. Nothing about that paragraph has me intrigued. So she’s afraid to show her report card. That’s something a lot of kids can relate to, so why don’t I care?

Because the paragraph is boring. With a capital B.

How about a revision? And maybe even swapping sentence order to make it more intriguing?

Instead of walking, why doesn’t Sara slunk? Instead of lifting her foot, why doesn’t she sidestep or vault? Instead of being nervous, why isn’t Sara petrified? Why would her dad react poorly to the news? And why didn’t she take the scenic route instead of the long way home?

Tell me if you think this new paragraph works better.

The report card burned a hole in Sara’s backpack, making it weigh a thousand pounds. She slunk home at a snail’s pace, prolonging the inevitable blow-up she’d encounter once there. Wincing at the thought of her dad’s murderous expression over the C she’d received in Calculus, Sara sidestepped a broken slab of sidewalk and veered to the right. She’d take the path through the park, instead. Hopefully she’d brainstorm a way to avoid her father’s wrath and the backhand across her face that would inevitably follow. She slowed her pace and steeled her nerves as the steeply angled pitch of her house came into view over the tops of the trees.

Whoo!!! This is a much more powerful and potent paragraph, don’t you think? It uses more verbs, calls on our emotions, and reveals a secret about Sara’s dad we never would have guessed from the initial paragraph.

Which one would you rather read? Which would you rather write?

Editing should never be done too quickly and without sufficient thought. Take your time, go line by line, word by word, and always remember you should be writing the book you want to read.

Happy writing!

 

“Merely because you have got something to say that may be of interest to others does not free you from making all due effort to express that something in the best possible medium and form.”

[Letter to Max E. Feckler, Oct. 26, 1914]”
― Jack London

 

“There is a saying: Genius is perseverance. While genius does not consist entirely of editing, without editing it’s pretty useless.”
― Susan BellThe Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself

Goodreads Goal

Although I joined Goodreads almost two years ago, I didn’t actually begin using it much until May of this year.

I decided I needed a goal to shoot for with reading since I never used to keep track of how many books I read.

I’ve always known it was over a hundred, easily. And the nice thing about Goodreads is that you can’t count a re-read book on your goal for the year.

As many of you know, I’m a huge advocate of re-reading, but the last few years, I rarely stepped out of my comfortable books and was re-reading almost exclusively. Though my bookcase is massive and even re-reading, I still wouldn’t re-read all the books I’ve read in a year.

So, a few weeks back, I hit my goal of 100 non-re-read books this year.

I still re-read a bit, though, so the total number of books I’ve read is almost 200.

I’ll do another goal next year, and I still have three weeks to read as many books as I can this year.

It’s been refreshing, as the new books have recharged my creative juices and I’m so much better at analyzing and critiquing authors’ books. I’ve definitely learned a lot and am excited to continue my learning streak.

Anybody else use Goodreads’ book challenge? Has it helped? Not made a difference?

Happy writing! (And reading!)

 

“We don’t want to feel less when we have finished a book; we want to feel that new possibilities of being have been opened to us. We don’t want to close a book with a sense that life is totally unfair and that there is no light in the darkness; we want to feel that we have been given illumination.”
― Madeleine L’EngleWalking on Water

“Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.”
― Helen KellerThe Story of My Life

#PitMad Novice

Yesterday I participated in my first #PitMad, which is basically a pitch party on Twitter for your book. You pitch it in the 140 characters or less with that hashtag and pray that some agent trolling the feed will favorite your pitch or contact you about submitting a query letter and sample pages.

I was not one of those few yesterday. But it was a great learning experience.

I learned that crafting decent pitches it stinkin’ hard! Maybe even harder than query letters!

I had the amazing advice of one of my writing buddies, who is always so helpful, but I still felt like the pitches lacked punch.

Something that gave me hope, however, is an agent who said that not all books are pitchable in under 140 characters.

Emily, my writing buddy, would have to vouch for this, but I think that my book/series is one such case. It’s a massive undertaking with the basic good vs. evil type deal, but so complex in its intricacies and history that it was hard to narrow down what was really important.

I’ll keep trying to pitch in the future, but I think querying might be the way to go for me. Though I ABHOR querying, I’m able to spend about two paragraphs pitching my book instead of two sentences.

Anyone else tried pitching on Twitter? What was your experience?

Happy writing!

 

“As a book author, it’s your responsibility to cast a vision for your book about the length and appearance before you pitch the idea to a publisher.”
― W. Terry WhalinBook Proposals That Sell: 21 Secrets to Speed Your Success

 

“Publishing is a business and writing is an art. The two have to be crammed together despite the clearly different motivations behind them.”
― Michelle M. Pillow