Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tagged--Again (Warp Version)

Many thanks to Pat Newcombe, who awarded me the Stylish Blogger Award!

Also, Alison Miller has tagged me, as well as Lynda Young (who RE-tagged me after I tagged her, the silly goofy). Since I've already played the tag game and just had a blog award post, I'm going to warp the "rules."

1. What were you thinking while doing this?
REVISION UPDATE: After 9.5 weeks (2 months) of nose-to-the-grindstone work on my first round of edits/revisions for my agent, I have submitted it to her. Whee! I hope she likes the changes. It now stands at 81K words, up from 64K, so I added quite a lot of story. I do like the changes. But I'm confident if it still needs work, Kelly will point me in the right direction. The next step will be a line-edit and scene tightening/expanding kind of revision unless she thinks I've missed the mark on more major stuff.

2. When was the last time you ate PIZZA?
Last week. If more than a week goes by without pizza, I start thinking, "Wow, I haven't had a pizza for a while…" I like Papa Murphy's U-Bake pizzas. They're cheaper than store-bought, and delish. The hubbs and I go for the Papa's Favorite, which has almost everything on it: mushrooms, pepperoni, Italian sausage, olives, green pepper, and onions. Slurp!

3. Upload a pic or wallpaper you're using.
Okay, it could just be me, but I find this fuzzy kitty zombie waaay amusing: [photo removed in 2012 due to potential copyright issues; better safe than sorry!]

4. What song/songs have you listened to recently?
My older daughter, 24, is a songwriter and singer--so I have a song that she sang backup vocals for swirling through my head. The songs are soon to be on a CD, produced by a friend of hers. It's "alternative" music. Wish I had a sound clip for you to check out!

5. Tag five blogger buddies (or pass the blog award onto someone)
Nah. I'll spare ya. Enjoy your summer!! Get away from your computer and soak up some vitamin D before it's winter again, people. (This applies to everyone except for Aussies like Lynda, or others in a different hemisphere where it's already winter). Me? I'm going camping soon--getting ready for some roasted marshmallows and hot dogs! A bit of vacation before Round 2 revision begins.

YOUR TURN
How often do you eat pizza? What kind do you like?
How goes your writing projects: playing with Shiny New Ideas, editing, or querying?
Are you morphing into a shriveled anemic white thing sitting at your computer--or are you soaking up some RAYS these days?

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Don't forget: LAUNCH PARTY starts today! and goes through July 5.
Big virtual book launch party for Deborah Halverson's book, WRITING YOUNG ADULT FICTION FOR DUMMIES.

Stampede on over for the manuscript critique giveaways!!!
Join the party here: DearEditor.com

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Page Critique: SEER + Launch Party

Today's post is an excerpt sent to me for public critique, an opening of Rosie Connolly's New Adult paranormal novel entitled SEER. New Adult is an interesting new category that falls in between Young Adult and Adult novels. The protagonist is older, roughly 18-25, and the books involve subjects pertinent to older characters and readers.

Rosie would love constructive feedback of any kind, so please chime in!

THE EXERPT
Seer

As a child, I dreamt of people’s deaths. Growing older, I tried to save the people I saw in my dreams. Now Death has come to collect its due. I’ve cheated Death so many times over the years by saving others that it refuses to let me out of its grasp.

The first dream I had scared me the most, of course. I was four. The night before the wedding rehearsal for my mother’s cousin Edgar will forever be the night that changed my life.

In my dream, the wedding took place in the most beautiful grove I had ever seen—or still have ever seen to this day, since I was four. It almost resembled something from a Dr. Seuss novel, the trees with their red bark and purple leaves, everything smooth as if it had been made of Play-Doh. The couple, a pair of doves, matched the scene with their sleek red bodies, ornamented with purple human hair. The crowd stood in the tiny grove, or further back amongst the trees. I stood up front, holding the bride-bird’s flowers.

The priest made his pronouncement, and the couple leaned forward to kiss. In the moment, a huge whoosh filled the air, making tiny me drop the flowers and cover my ears. The wind picks up, pushing the trees almost flat against the ground, bending like rubber at their bases. The couple seemed not to notice the chaos, however, still moving in slow motion toward one another for their kiss. The ground began to shrivel, and each person’s feet sunk, creating indentations in the earth. The edge of the woods began to fall away, and the crowd fell one by one off the land.


MY CRITIQUE

General Confusion
I am confused as to why her mother's cousin Edgar and his bride are doves. It sounds literal, here. It makes me wonder if the main character a bird, therefore. If the main character is human, maybe it could be more clear that the wedding of Edgar is not the wedding of the MC's dream. As it stands now, it sounds like it is.

Tense inconsistencies
The tense (past tense) is not consistent in this piece:
1. The wind picks up is in present tense; the verb should be picked.
2. …each person's feet sunk is also not in past tense; the verb should be sank.

Clarity of Sentences
1. The night before the wedding rehearsal for my mother's cousin Edgar is quite a mouthful that would be good to simplify. The phrase is too long by the time the reader reaches the verb.
2. …or still have ever seen to this day, since I was four is a bit awkward; "since I was four" seems unnecessary and confusing.
3. The crowd stood in the tiny grove, or further back amongst the trees seems contradictory. Which is it--in the grove or further back? Perhaps use "and"?

Wording and Little Things
1. A "Dr. Seuss novel"--I'm not aware that Dr. Seuss wrote novels; say "book" instead?
2. In the moment, a huge whoosh filled the air: say "that" moment rather than "the"?
3. Still is used twice in this short excerpt. Kinda close together.

Summary: Kudos
I really enjoyed the description of the wedding; the words paint a vivid picture. I can see the trees, and having the scene be the smooth consistency of Play-Doh is a cool detail. It really sounds like a nightmare a four-year-old would have. It would be freaky enough for an adult--the edge of the woods falling away, the ground shriveling, and the people falling off into nothingness. Neat! Also, the opening is intriguing and sets up a conflict right away.

YOUR TURN
Can you add any other helpful comments to the above critique?
What's your favorite part of this excerpt? Your least favorite?
How often do you read or write paranormal novels--are they your "thing"?
Were you confused as to why the wedding involved BIRDS at Edgar's wedding, or was I the only one who thought the weddings were one and the same?

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LAUNCH PARTY!
Deborah Halverson's book, WRITING YOUNG ADULT FICTION FOR DUMMIES hits stores on July 5. Big virtual book launch party June 29-July 5 on DearEditor.com. Visit for daily giveaways (woo--manuscript critiques!), free downloads, excerpts from the book, and more!! Mark your calendars!

Click for purchase/book info: Wiley or Amazon
Click to visit the site for details about the launch party: DearEditor.com or the specific DearEditor.com Launch Party Post.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

More Awards--and I'll Share, Too!

Major thanks to those who have passed on blog awards to me recently! Time to catch up with some fun stuff while I'm (still) doing revising for my agent. I've received:

1. Versatile Blogger Award AND Blog on Fire Award from Scott Niven
2. Blog on Fire Award from Shawna
3. The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award from Larissa Hinton
4. The Versatile Blogger Award from CherylAnne Ham


Four facts about me that you may not know:
1. I absolutely detest, dislike, abhor, and loathe spiders. Give me a snake any day.
2. If I had to choose ONE type of food to eat for the rest of my life, I'd choose pizza.
3. One of my favorite things to do in a novel is to name my characters.
4. The most recent theater movie I've watched is Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Loved it!

Alas, I have no time to pass on these awards individually, but you ALL are deserving and I appreciate you! So if you don't have one of these awards, please feel free to snag it and add it to your blog, from me to you. That's my thanks to you for stopping by today.

YOUR TURN
Given a choice, would you rather be up close and personal with a spider or a snake?
If you had to choose ONE food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
What's the most recent movie you've watched in the theater?
What's your favorite thing about writing--naming characters? brainstorming plot? editing and revising? inventing new worlds?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

REVISION: I'm hard at play

As you all probably know, on April 25 I officially acquired Kelly Sonnack of Andrea Brown Literary Agency as my fabulous agent. Since then I've been keeping my writerly nose to the grindstone as much as I can. But it's been a fun kind of work. For this post, I thought I'd share a bit of my revision journey.

So. Kelly typed up 4+ PAGES of comments, SINGLE SPACED, which she and I discussed in two separate, hour-long phone calls. Some are major revision points, some not. Yes, an agent may love your story, but that doesn't mean it can't be improved. Let the revisions begin.

THE ENDING
Since the ending of the novel left Kelly feeling flat, I've entirely rewritten the last 2 1/2 chapters. That's pretty major. My protagonist needed not only to play a more active role in the climax, but the tone of the ending had to be less syrupy and "tidy." The novel is sci-fi and kinda dystopian, so it had to match the genre. In the end, I'd given my MC almost everything she'd ever dreamed of (silly me). I had also "told" a lot of the wrap-up rather than showing it. Ahem. I rewrote it, still sticking to my philosophy of predominantly happy endings.

TOTAL LENGTH
Kelly says the "sweet spot" for YA is 80,000 (80K) words. My novel initially stood at 64K. After adding new chapters and fleshing out many scenes, I now have 76K words. Getting closer! Not sure I'll reach 80K--I don't want to have fluff for fluff's sake. Gotta keep purpose, conflict, and character development in mind for every scene. Probably some stuff will get slashed and tidied, after I'm done adding scenes.

VILLAIN MAKEOVER
Okay, still working on this one. Kelly said my antagonist was "empty" and "not interesting enough." Ouch. So I'm spiffying him up, making sure he's consistently villainous and fleshing out his character. I'm trying to work in who he is and WHY he's villainous. No one is evil in a vacuum, unless you're writing stereotypical characters or melodrama. That's my other goal--to make him more of a force to be reckoned with, without resorting to stereotypical behavior.

NEGATIVE LANGUAGE
Since my novel involves Morgan, my MC, helping heavy people lose weight, it's important that I be sensitive in my presentation of body images and attitudes toward heavier people. This is a tricky thing, because in order to have a character arc, I've started Morgan out at the novel's opening with a bit of a superior attitude toward those she's helping out--I have to show this carefully. One of my problems was that I'd incorporated Morgan's condescending attitude into the narrative (not just her thoughts and dialogue), and I had to slash those instances. I'm toning Morgan's attitude down quite a bit. I'm a little concerned I'm softening her character arc, however, that way.

It's part of the awesome responsibility of writing for teens. Books can have a major influence on someone's life, and I would hate for that influence to be negative! Teen girls have enough concerns with body weight and image as it is.

ROMANCE, ANYONE?
Another point of revision was to develop Morgan's relationship with her romance-interest more. That's a fun order! (I think most YA should include a dash of romance.) I'm adding to the budding relationship by way of shared moments, joking around, and hand-holding. Recently I wrote a "date" scene that takes place in a movie theater--sci-fi style. Gotta include a purpose for each scene, however; I also need to include dialogue or internal thoughts that relate to the conflict.

ETC., ETC.
And of course, there are many more points of tweaky revision, but I can't say those without revealing too much of the story (or boring you out of your skull). So stay tuned. The only thing I'll add is that Kelly told me I had world-building info dumps. Me? Gulp. Working those tidbits in naturally is difficult.

I'm definitely honing my writing skills, and Kelly's going to help take me to the next level!

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YOUR TURN
Have you ever majorly rewritten the end of a novel?
Do you have trouble world-building in your novels without info dumping?
In general, how long are your novels? If you write YA, are they close to 80K words?
Have you written a stereotypical villain, and had to UNstereotype him/her?
Have you had to tone down your main character in order to make him/her more likeable?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tag, you're it!


Susan Fields has tagged me--tagging being the latest craze since blog-award-bestowing. My duty is to answer the following questions:

Do you think you're hot?
Only when hot flashes descend upon me. Then I peel off layers like crazy, in turbo speed.

Upload a picture or wallpaper you are using at the moment.
[photo removed in 2012 due to potential copyright issues; better safe than sorry!]   I found it on CoolVibe.com, where I go to drool over digital art. CGHub is another digital art site I haunt.

When was the last time you ate chicken meat?
Last Wednesday I homecooked some oven-baked chicken, and sprinkled a dash of curry on it.

The song(s) you listened to most recently?
Muse's "Supermassive Black Hole." Good for exercising in between revision sessions. I like this youtube version that has TWILIGHT movie scenes with it.

What were you thinking as you were doing this?
My revisions for my agent, naturally. My brain has no room for anything else these days.

Do you have nicknames?
"Carol" is hard to turn into a decent nickname, so no one really has. My two grown daughters, however, call me "Mommer."

Tag 5 blogger friends (you are It!)

Who's listed as number 1?
Emily White, who has recently accepted an offer from Spencer Hill Press for her sci-fi novel, ELEMENTAL! Check out her recent blogpost regarding this (see link for #1).

Leave a lovey dovey message for number 2.
Lyn, you're a SUPER critiquer buddy to have, and I'm so glad we decided to swap initial manuscripts. Lovely to have you on my wavelength, way "down under" in Oz.

How did you get to know number 3?
Wow, Rosie, where DID we meet? I think it was an online group critique forum called The Mansion, where we began critiquing each other's novels. Rosie's now another of my great critique partners.

How about number 4?
I met Rachael as she kicked off her recent, monumental Writer's Platform Crusade. She is one busy and organized gal, and she's totally into the horror genre. Another writer from Oz (Australia).

Say something about number 5.
Julie has recently acquired at agent, woo! Massive congrats to her, and much luck with her revisions and subbing.

YOUR TURN
Have YOU been tagged by one of your bloggy friends lately?
What's the song that's stuck in your head these days?
How's your writing coming along--in the querying trenches yet?