Friday, November 5, 2010

Sad News in Publishing

As some of you may have heard already, Nathan Bransford is leaving agenting. He's well-known for his fabulous blog and always being willing to help out writers.

I know I'm not the only one wishing him well in his future endevors, but I'm really sad to see him go. We're losing a fabulous YA agent.

Good luck, Nathan. Drop by and say hello now and again!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Book Review: Behemoth


By: Scott Westerfeld

Review by: K Carson

The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers.

Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan's peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory.

Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what's ahead.

Characters: I can't get over how much I love Westerfeld's characters. The worldbuilding really amazes me, but what really makes this series fantastic is its characters. There were several new characters introduced in this installment, like the rebel Lilit or the enigmatic American reporter Eddie Malone. The characterizations were thorough and well developed.

I decree: 5/5 Stars

Plot: The plot in this book feels transitiionary. The stakes are clearly laid out, but the tension isn't as strong as it was in Leviathan. Behemoth's strength lies mostly in its characters and the evolving tensions between them. The climax in this book leads me to believe that it's mostly set up for the conclusion of the trilogy. There is nothing I can say that overly bothered me about the plot, but when held against Leviathan, it falls flat.

I decree: 3/5 stars

Fundimentals: Keith Thompson once again blesses Behemoth with his breathtaking artwork. I wish more books had artwork like this! As I mentioned earlier, the tension was lacking. But Westerfeld's world building definitely took my breath away. We were able to glimpse a true Clanker city, which was a differnet from the mostly Dawrwinist world we saw in Leviathan. Westerfeld's writing style is still to the point and both Deryn and Alek's voices are consice, acurate and a joy to read.

I decree: 4/5 stars.

Overall: Read it. I adore Westerfeld's steampunk. I can't wait for the last installment. Highly recomended.

12/15 stars.

Refer to my Leviathan Review for Westerfeld and Thompson's websites.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Why I Do Not Participate in NaNo

I've been having a bad coupla days lately. It's the time of year when crap upon crap just keeps piling up. And it doesn't help that the first snowfall up here puts everybody (but me) in a foul mood.

And I've almost finished plotting for my next book, which will be a prequel for Shell. I'm ready to go for the first of November to start writing.

So naturally, since it's November, I get people asking me: "Oh, so you're going to do NaNo this year?"

Que the facepalm.

For those of you not familiar with the whole process, National Novel Writing Month, o(otherwise known as NaNoWriMo) takes place every November. Writers sign up and pledge to write a 50K novel in 30 days.

Most non-writers think it's an absolutely horrific idea to write an entire novel in a month. That's like, a whole novel! 50 000 words! Omigawd!

I don't share that sentiment. When I start writing, I write fast. My average time is about 2-2.5 months per novel. The shortest time it ever took me to write a novel was three weeks.

Could I pull it off? Yeah. And I have before. But here's the thing: NaNo puts a lot of stress on me, because when I set a deadline for myself, I move Heaven and Earth to meet it. And writing is something that I love to do. I'm very motivated, and 9/10, when I start a novel, I finish it.

But when I do NaNo, something in me cracks. I get really stressed and no longer care about what I'm writing, just that I'm writing. Usually, at the end of the month, I have a finished novel that's a hunk of crap. And instead of using that novel to get half a great novel done, I used it to finished a whole crappy one.

I work well under deadlines, but when I set deadlines for myself, they're realistic. I know how well I work and I strive to do the best that I can. But I cannot write a good novel in a month. I don't think many people can.

That's not to say that NaNo isn't a great experience. You're working side-by-side with professional and amateur writers. I don't think many people use their NaNo novel for something they actually want to sell, and if they do I suspect they need a fair bit of revising. But some people need that motivation to pump out that novel, and I get that. Go motivation! Go bettering yourself! Go you for undertaking that Herculeon challenge! Writers are not people who sit around waiting for inspiration to stike. They're the people that sit in their chairs and write, even if they aren't feeling 100% that day.

It's the BIC rule-- Butt In Chair. Follow it, live it, love it. During NaNo, and the rest of the year, too.

So I'll probably finish my novel somewhere in December while the rest of you guys are polishing your NaNo masterpieces. I'll catch up, I promise.



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Duff's New Book "Elixer"

Hilary Duff's recent release of Elixer has been ruffling some feathers from authors who are questioning the recent string of celebrity books. Ones like Justin Bieber's memoir and Miley Cyrus' memoir.

It's easy to hate these stars. I mean, when you're a writer vying for an anget's or publisher's attention, it's obnoxious to see someone who most likely didn't even write their own book waltz right past you. While my friend and I were having a lovely discussion, I broke off mid-sentence to rant when my eyes landed on Bieber's memoir. (although this has more to do with the fact that he's sixteen and what would he have to write about?)

After I finished ranting, I had to take a deep breath and realize the ramifications of Duff publishing her book. What does it acheive? Diehard Duff fans will go into the bookstore to get her book, and who knows, they might pick up something else? This will get money to the publishers, the agent and the ghost writer. It gets publicity for book stores and brings people in who might not go to a book store as often as we'd like them too.

Yes, it's frustrating. Yes, sometimes we rant. But when we think about it, Duff's book benefits us, the unpublished writers of the world. Because if a publishing company is making more money, they're more likely to take a chance and buy a book of an unpublished author.

Sure, it may not increase our chances greatly, and if we write a crappy book it doesn't matter how many teen celebritites write something, we won't get our foot in the door.

But being the optimist that I am, I have to look at the lighter side of this. What do we honestly get about bitching and whining about these actors and singers who have publishers kissing their asses? We don't get anything. Sometimes it's fun to be bitchy, but it's better to channel that energy into working on perfecting your next book.



Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Query Woes.

Shell is complete, and there's nothing quite like the sensation of finishing a book. Especially this one, since I honestly believe this is the greatest thing I ever written. It's always nice to have something you can wave in the air and say, "I made this!" even if it is just a wad of paper.

My baby is off with betas, exchanging ideas and working to become a better book. In the mean time, I have some time to myself to work on my query.

Oh Dear Lord.

I don't think many writers enjoy writing quieries. Not only because you're taking a book you spent months crafting and summing it up in a few brief paragraphs, but because there are so many rules that go with queries. There are rules to writing novels, and you can break every one of them, so long as it works. With queries, even if it works, breaking the rules is frowned upon.

I've compiled a list of common queries errors that I always have to keep at the forefront of my mind when I'm struggling to write my queries:

1) Length. No, no, no. I can't keep it to 250 words! You have to hear about all these fabulous subplots, like how the dad is evil but he doesn't mean to be evil,. he's a good guy, and how he met the MCs Mom and the history of the whole world. I have to go into detail about the socioeconomic pressures that motivate my MC!

2) No more than two characters. But I really want to tell you about my favorotrite character Puck, who doesn't have much time in it but he's totally awesome. And this other buy who doesn't actually speak, and the dad, and I have to talk about the MC's second cousin twice removed...

3) Keep the focus on your MC. Nah. I think I'll write the entire query about Bob. He's this guy that the MC meets at school. They never talk, but I think his perspective will really illustrate how awesome my book is.

4) Your MC MUST be active. LIke how my MC is discovered by the evil guy and gets kidnapped and then he's saved by these other people and doesn't actually do anything because he was drugged?

5)Be specific. Or I could talk about this other really cool thing but keep it a complete and utter secret so the agent's scratching their head and wondering what the hell I'm talking about through the entire query. If they have no idea what's going on, they'll request pages for sure!

6) Hook them in fast. Fast? Of course I can be fast! My hook is only six pages into my query. Talk about speedy!

-Le sigh- Back to the drawing board with me.



Sunday, October 17, 2010

It's Fiction for a Reason.

Have you ever read a book that you can't help but look at and go, "There's no way that would happen."

I call these my Not Likely books. My favorite would be Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles, book review can be found here. These are not the books that are so terrible you want to throw at the wall, or the worldbuilding is incomplete and doesn't make sense. These are books with realistic traits (like a relationship, mostly) that you want to scratch your head and say "Why doesn't life work like that?"

Or, "Why, when we write, don't we paint a realistic portait of the world?"

I'll tell you why: because nobody wants to read a realistic portrait of the world.

A lot of life doesn't have meaning. Or, at least, if it does, we aren't able to see the full picture in our short lives. A man's wife dies while he's away fighting in WWII. He comes home, living the rest of his life alone, until he finally dies of lukemia at the age of 62. Now, there's a great potential for a good novel in that premise. You can have a lot of conflict, character driven action and real heart. But in fiction, characters have to acomplish something. They have to overcome their conflicts. If this premise were to be turned into a novel, this man might have to overcome his own depression and selfishness, his bitterness, or he may have to overcome the society that is denying him his wife's life insurance. Whatever. Even if the victory is small, the character has to acheieve some kind of goal.

A book in which this man tries to overcome his bitterness, then fails, and then retreats back into his house and dies alone wouldn't be very satisfying. There are plently of real-life stories of people giving up, failing, dying, leaving, whatever. We don't want to read about someone who doesn't succeed, even in the smallest way.

Reading is an escape from reality, just as television and video games are. We don't want to escape into a reality in which characters fail. We want to see them succeed in what they need to succeed in, so that we have hope that we can succeed in our own lives.

Hell, look at memoirs. The ones that do the best involve the writer overcoming the odds in their life. The fact that it's true draws people to it.

So yeah, I love Perfect Chemistry, but is it realistic? No. But if it was realistic, I wouldn't love it nearly as much as I do. Sometimes, as writers, we need to allow ourselves to step away from reality and venture a little bit farther into the world of make-believe.

Also, exciting, crazy news! I've got a twitter account. You can drop by if you'd like. I don't have much up yet, but I plan to get the ball rolling soon.



Friday, October 15, 2010

Mm... liquid courage.

Hello everyone out there in internet land. As you sit reading this post, where are you?

If you're like me, it is one o'clock, you just got out of your classes, and am now sitting in a corner of the bar trying to make eyecontact with strangers.

Yes, I am that creepy person sitting alone in the bar that you avoid at all costs. Why am I drinking at one in the afternoon? Because I suck at making friends.

This may come off as a slightly skewed reason for drinking in the middle of the day. Well, being the little writer that I am, I spend most of my time hiding in my room pounding out characters and struggling to create some semblance of reality with my words. So, naturally, I'm socially inept. When people try to talk to me, sometimes I sit there and stare with mouth agape. (This also happens when I'm talking on forums, it's just nobody can see it.)

My mother is very concerened about this, being the social butterfly that she is, so she tries to get me to do things she thinks will help me meet people.

Hence the bar in the middle of the day.

Why am I indulging her? Because I am a sad, lonely kid looking for someone to spend my afternoons with. And as I'm sitting here, burying myself in my laptop and trying to work up the courage to talk to the guys by the pool table, I can't help but wonder how I can sit here, being the chicken shit that I am, and yet most of my characters are rash, rude, and often don't hesitate to speak their mind.

How can I write a character that is utterly confident in him/herself if I myself am not confident enough to talk to inhebriated individuals at my university's pub? How am I able to convey swave and sophisticated when most of the time I feel like a bumbling moron?

I realize that most of writing has to do with imagination and immitating reality. I mean, I can write about magic without ever seeing someone shoot a lightning bolt from their hands. What's so different about writing a confident character when I'm sitting in the corner nursing my smirnoff? I actually think there's a huge differnece.

Expelcially for young adult writers, there is a huge emphasis on character. Teens like people we can relate to. (Adults too, so I'm not leaving out other writers.) So you can make up how magic works, even if you've never sat and saw someone preform a spell. But when it comes to characters, you need to really experience different things to propperly articulate what you mean.

For example, if you're a realatively outgoing person, and you're writing a character that is anything but, than go to a public place (doesn't have to be a bar) and take a seat in the corner. Don't talk to anyone. Just sit and observe, and think how someone might react who was too afraid to get up and be themselves. Think about what they might look at, how they might sit, how they would reason with themselves why they shouldn't get up and talk to that cute girl/boy and why it's so much better if she/he sat there and studied for their history test.

And as a realtively reserved person myself, I need to hurl myself into situations that I might find uncomfortable (like talking to strangers) to get a real grip on how a character with confidence in themselves might act or feel in that situation.

Doesn't mean a few drinks beforehand won't help.

Now, I'm going to chug down the last of my smirnoff and head over to the pool tables to see if I can strike up a conversation with a real human being.



Thursday, September 23, 2010


When I was in my creative writing classes back in high school, one of my favorite parts of literature was theme. I was that kid in the back of the class writing essays upon essays about hidden themes in different texts.

Theme is kind of ignored in the publishing world. Agents and editors don't care about themes and motifs and whatnot, they want to know if you can write a good story.

So, after delving into the publishing world, my favorite part of literature took a backseat. But as time goes on, I notice that similiar themes continue to pop up in my work. Things about slavery, racism, war, are almost always constant in everything I write.

I noticed this several months back and afterwards I began to ask myself: why are these themes prevelent in all my novels?

To do this, I had to take a loook at myself as both a writer and a person. Why do I constantly write about war?

Well, that one's easy. It's fascinating to me. It's such carnage and bloodshed that is almost always against the will of the people actually fighting it. It's avoidable, it's tragic. There's plenty of room for conflict. With everything I read and write on the subject of war, real or ficticious, I ask myself time and time again: what about humanity allows us to massacre each other so brutally, and on such wide scales? Why do we allow ourselves (as humans) to be dragged into these conflicts time and time again?

Slavery follows similiarly for me. There is a bit of superiority in this thought process, and it's interesting for me to play around with this in the form os supernatural creatures. What would define one race as being better than another? What situation leads to these slave trades? In SHELL, the slavery is brief, and is not about race superiority (okay, maybe a little) but more to fill a function. They need people to do these jobs, well, we can force these other people to do them for us because we're stronger than they are. End of story.

Racism is a trickier aspect for me. I am white living in a predominantly white community, so I don't really face a lot of racism. I don't see a lot of it, either, in the places where I work and live. A long time ago, a friend of mine who was Korean, who I had known for years beforehand, broke down before me. She was deeply upset about all the racism she faced in her every-day life. I felt like the world's worst friend; I had never seen any of this racism directed towards her. If I had, I might have beaten the snot out of them.

You can kind of see that these themes connect. They're part of the darker aspect of humanity, and I find it fascinating to find out what really spurs these things in reality and fiction.

I think it's crutially important to have some sort of understanding of the themes that run through your own writing. As the author, you need to understand 110% of what you're writing, and that often includes looking at what you're subconsciously adding to the piece as well. Why do you keep writing about what you do? If you can understand the underlying themes, you can find ways to strengthen them, and make your texts much, much greater than they are.

And if you've scoured your novels and stories and cannot find a single theme, perhaps it's time to ask yourself: Why is that?



Monday, September 20, 2010

I Wanna Hear Yours: Killing Characters-- Is There a Line?

If you want to be a writer, then you have to read a lot of books, and since we're all well read here, we have all come across a book in which an important character is killed off.

Death is a part of life, and since literature in all forms is really just analyzing life through the lens of fiction, death is a common occurrence in novels. But is there a point in which the writer should back off and let the damn characters have a happily ever after?

I've noticed an interesting trend. Sadists Writers tend to be a little more lenient towards character death. If they're reading a book in which an important character dies, even if they love that character, they're more willing to forgive the author if the death is justified and fits the story. Strictly readers, on the other hand, tend to protest to character death a bit more. Even if it is justified and fits the story, more often than not readers want their favorite character to live, have a happily ever after and die old in a bed somewhere surrounded by loved ones.

Now, my speculation is that writers have a subconscious distance from the books they read. It's much easier to pull a writer out of a story if they stumble across a tiny plot hole or badly shaped sentences. We spend all our time grooming ourselves to become aware of these things so that when we encounter them in other people's fiction, we're sensitive to it. We're able to step away from books and look at the craft.

So does that include character death? We can tell when a character's death fits the story, so is that why we're less sensitive and much better at being happy with a character killed off? We're able to take ourselves out of the story and say, "Yes, my favorite character died, but it really worked for the book."

Readers, I believe, don't have this kind of distance. They let themselves fall completely into the story, not worrying about craft or looking at how an author is trying to make them sympathize with the MC. They just get so involved in it that when their favorite character dies tragically, even if it is a beautiful death, they want to mail the book back to the author with big red pen scribbled across the page saying, "BRING HIM BACK TO LIFE, DAMNIT."

But, is that a good thing? Is it a good thing that the readers feel so much for our characters that they can't stand to see them go? And if it is a good thing, do we push the envelope a little too much?

Of course, there are readers who love character death and writers who want to hold onto their babies. Every person and every novel is different.

Which brings me to my next question: can we overdo death, or is that simply a tool we can use as often as we please? What's wrong if we kill off fifteen side characters, if that helps us build tension? Or should we not kill anyone off and find different ways to build tension?

I really think this comes down to what genre you're writing. If you're writing a mystery, then I think it's a little hard not to kill somebody off. If it's a teenage contemporary romance, then gratuitous amounts of death may be out of place. And of course, every novel is different. The Child Thief had so much gore and death which I thought was well-worth it while Three Days to Dead had significantly fewer deaths but I still felt there were too many. Both of these are adult fantasy, but they do have slightly different markets. Does that make the difference then? Do your readers define how much death you should include?

And here’s one I would really like to know, straight from you guys: How do you know where to draw the line? When do you stop and say, "I don't/do need to kill off more characters?"

You've heard my ramblings, now I Wanna Hear Yours!

Fire away my fast-fingered friends.



Thursday, September 16, 2010

Why I Hate The Word "Hobby"

If you've been following my blog for a while now, you may know I have certain words that I absolutely despise, as many of us do. What you may not know, is "hobby" would be one of them.

Let's put aside that it's a hideously ugly word (Yes, I am not an equal-oppertunity wordsmith). Hobby is a casual word, it's what you do for fun, it's breezy, easy, beautiful, Cover Girl. I do not have hobbies. I have interests, passtimes, things I enjoy doing, but I do not have a hobby.

I become absolutely infuriated when people call my writing a hobby. Seriously, try it. My eyes will go red and lightning will shoot out of my fingertips. It's quite entertaining.

Writing is not a hobby for me. It's not even a passtime. It's a job. I may not be published yet, I may not be making any money from these manuscripts that I'm pumping out, but this is my profession. I am a writer. When my friends or family want to go out and I have a date with my protagonist, I say "Can't, I'm working." It took a while, but the people around me started to realize that means I'm writing.

This is why I don't understand writers who call their writing a "hobby."

I understand that for some it is. Just like for some making short films is a hobby, or video editing is a hobby. It's not something they want to pursue a career in, it's just something they do for fun.

Which is fine. But, if you're reading this blog, I'm going to assume you're either my mother or you're a writer trying to get published (or maybe you're already published. Whatever.) If you're my mother, you need to stop stalking me. If you're a writer seeking publication, then writing is not a hobby for you.

That may seem a bit harsh, but let's face facts. If you are trying to publish a book, you are probably going to publish more than one (If not, self-publish. All the bragging rights, none of the rejection.) Which means that you probably want to set yourself up as a writer and keep writing for as long as you can. Which means you're trying to build a career. Get my drift? A hobby is not a career.

You would never hear Steven Speildberg say, "Oh yeah, making movies is a hobby of mine." So why are writers who want to be published saying that what they do is a hobby?

"Oh Katie, I will be an author someday. But right now I haven't found an agent/editor and I haven't seen publication, so it's still a hobby."


Let me repeat that:


All those crappy books that you've shelved? All that hard work? If you intend to see publication, then those pieces are you building your portfolio. You're perfecting your craft, you're working on becoming a better writer so that when you do see publication, you won't be humiliated and wonder "God, why did I write that?"

Why should it matter? What's a word anyway?

I'm a firm believer in definitive thinking. People who say "I'll try to become a published writer" will NEVER see publication, because a) the drive isn't there, and if it isn't b) the confidence is not there. You need to have that confidence if you want to get anywhere.

It's just like setting a goal. If you sit down and say, "This week, I will do this and this and this" you are more likely to complete your to-do list. However, if you just do it with the thought of, "I'll just get as much done as I can" you won't be as productive.

If you want writing to be a hobby for you, great, make it a hobby. But if you're serious about your craft, if you want to see publication, it's work.

Treat your writing professionally, and you will recieve professional results. Treat is like a hobby and well... you get what you put in.



Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Everything You Write Has Merit

Sometimes it's hard to see the grand scheme of things. When you work in an office, for example, you hammer tirelessly away at paperwork that seems to come in from a void and return to that very same void. Oftentimes, I feel as though the work that I do is simply an excuse to move my hands all day long without feeling like I'm actually acomplishing anything.

Sound familiar?

I'm sure everyone has felt that way at some point in their lives. Sometimes you get lost, and you just hammer and hammer without feeling like anything in your life has meaning. Sometimes, admitedly, my writing feels that way. Some days (often when I'm editing, as I loathe it down to my very soul) I will stop, throw my hands up in the air and exclaim, "What the hell am I doing?" I appear to have accumulated a pile of words without actually having acomplished anything.

I feel like those hoarders from that TV show. Except I'm collecting words.

I'm sure throughout any writer's career, they get frustrated. They're not sure what they're doing, they lose hope.

Writers out there: Sound familiar?

Well, as usual, Katie comes riding in on a white horse of optimism.

Everything you write has merit.

And the little writer within you exclaims: No way. Not that horrible poem I wrote in tenth grade about how black my soul was because I was in this horrible goth phase that I wish I could blot from my memory.

No, seriously, everything you write has merit.

The inner writer: NO! Not that horrible, horrible short story I wrote when I was mad at my ex-boyfriend and it was pure fantasy and will never see the light of day again.

Don't make me say it again.

Pull out those badly written poems, short stories, muses, novels, novellas, essays or whatever. I want you to grit your teeth and look them over. Really look.

I'll give you a moment.

Did you grit your teeth and bear it? Did you want to beat your head against the table? Were you flooded with nostalgia?

Most importantly: Did you find something you liked about it?

Of course there are the old, underdeveloped characters or the sloppy dialogue that has no place in the market but every place in our hearts. But in every piece of writing you've done, there is merit to it. Writing is not something we are born with. It is not something most are just inherantly good at. Those who are good, whose writing takes your breath away, worked at it for years and years and years. They practiced.

And you may not like to think of it that way, but those old stories and poems are practice. You figured out what worked and what didn't. And there is something in there that is worth it. It may be a line, it may have been a plot twist, it may have been an idea you had or it may have been a character, but there is something in everything we write that proves that writing is worth our time.

And when you shove those old stories back into the box and shove them under the bed, never to see the light of day again, you've got to remember that those stories taught you about your writing. Those bad stories made you into the writer that twists your nose at your old work and say, "What was I thinking?"

Every writer has "What were you thinking?" stories. That's how we learn and that's how we perfect our craft.



Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rejection. Maybe. Sorta. Yes? No.

So, I recieved a rejection for a partial I had on for In The Eye of Death. Every author on submission knows that rejections should be taken with a grain of salt. After all, most agents don't give us good reasons for rejecting, even if they read a partial or full. Agents are too busy to give heavy critiques. I'm personally fine with that. As long as I don't get a form rejection on my full.

Well, I recieved my rejection today. Here it is:

Dear Katie,

I finished reading your chapters for IN THE EYES OF DEATH over the weekend. While I still really love your idea for this story, I was not able to connect with the writing. I do think you've created a likable and interesting character in Jonah, however, without a strong connection to the story, I would not be the best agent for this project.

Thank you again for the opportunity to read your work, and I wish you the best of luck in finding an agent who is right for you.


Super Star Agent

I can see some of you looking this over and saying to yourselves, "But this looks like a standard rejection letter. Great, but not for me."

And I'm not denying it's a pretty standard format. But the fact that this agent mentioned that she liked my MC made me exceedingly happy. Why? Because I suck at writing characters.

A great deal of my free time is spent trying to figure out how to write a goddamn character. I'm a plot writer, through and through. Betas are impressed with my ideas and my plots, but not so much my characters. Most of my partial/full rejects state that the agent couldn't connect with my MC.

"But Katie," I can hear you say, "It's still a rejection. Shouldn't you be a little bummed?"

Yeah. Rejection bites the big one, I'm not denying that. Once the high of realizing someone actually likes my MC wears off, I'll hit the chocolates. And even if it's small, and probably just a generic comment, I feel really good about this rejection. I'm allowed to be happy, even if I acknowledge that the agent just said that to make me feel better about the reject.

If there are any agents out there who happen to be passing through: I really appreciate the way you word your rejections. This one in particular made me really happy. Keep up the good work, guys!



Saturday, July 10, 2010

Query for In The Eye of Death

So, since I'm such a lovely person, I thought I'd post my query for In The Eye of Death. I was planning on going through and explaining my thought process and how to write a good query and so on, but I realized: I have no bloody clue how to write a query letter.

I think my query is good. But I only became good after I practiced, practiced, and practiced. Then, just like writing a novel, you find what works and what doesn't. (Usually more straightforward, as you know something is wrong when the rejections start to pile up.)

So here it is, complete without personalization or credits. Enjoy, and make of it what you will:

Dear _________,

Cursed with a weak heart, all Jonah has ever been good at is suffering near-fatal heart attacks. He used to be good at Magik too, before he learned that every cast shortened his already dwindling lifespan.

So Jonah’s decided to retire at the age of fifteen, teaching children a Magik he can’t use until his life runs out. But when his students disappear in a puff of green smoke, the parents decide that Jonah’s to blame. To rescue the children and salvage his honour, Jonah will have to venture into the outside world and hunt down the Order of Grie—a group of religious fanatics who want to use the children’s youth to summon the God of Death.

With every cast, Jonah brings himself one step closer to an early grave. All he ever wanted was to live to thirty, but it’s becoming clear that he won’t survive his rescue mission. When he finally confronts the Order, they promise him a long and healthy life—everything Jonah has ever wanted. All it will cost him is the lives of his students... as well as his soul.

IN THE EYE OF DEATH is a young adult fantasy novel completed at 80 000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration, ________. I hope to hear from you soon.

Katie Carson

Friday, July 2, 2010

"That's Not Supposed to be Funny!"

Hey y'all. Sorry I haven't been posting much lately. I've fallen into a bit of a funk, in all aspects of writing. I can barely upduate my facebook status (Sadly, not kidding.)

So, today my friend and I went to see The Last Airbender. I am a huge fan of the original cartoon, and I was really excited for this movie.

I won't spoil it for anyone, but my friend and I laughed all the way through the movie. I'm sure the other people thought we were insane, especially during these emotional scenes where we couldn't stop laughing.

Now, as you can tell from the previews, this movie is not a comedy. M Night Shyamalan did not intend for it to be funny. In fact, if you watch the movie, it's supposed to be very serious and dramatic.

Is this a bad thing? I had a great time at the movie. A movie has never made me laugh harder. (Though that was mostly due to how bad it was.)

Now, way back when I was in ninth grade drama, a similiar situation came up. We were forced to write monologues and preform them in front of the whole class, a daunting task for a bunch of fifteen year olds. Now, this one girl I remember was very shy and didn't want to go up. When the drama teacher finally convinced her to go up, she began her monologue talking about how hard it was for her to be a blonde. She said something about not getting blonde jokes and I laughed. I thought it was funny. She became so enraged she refused to continue.

My drama teacher then responded with, "It doesn't matter what type of response you get. Your job as an artist is to put your art out there, and how other people respond is based on their own perception."

I think you get where I'm going now. So, we've all become published authors with big fat paychecks and our work is out in the world. So what happens when someone takes your book and doesn't understand what you're trying to convey? What happens if you have the complete opposite response that we think they should? Of course, none of us want to be hated. But I'm not talking about a reader hating your book. I'm talking about the weirdest interpration of your book you have ever seen.

What if the romance scene makes them angry? What happens if when your heroine dies they laugh? What happens if the heropic climax makes them cry? Does it make you question your worth as a writer? Does it make you wonder if anyone will ever like your book?

Well, of course not! I mean, that was only one reader, right? Surely there are other who will just love and understand your book so completely. There is nothing you can do about this reader. You move on.

So why don't I see the same thing when it comes to literary agents? Why do so many writers place their entire worth as an author on literary agents? Yes, they are important in the process, but so are readers. When that agent isn't working on a contract, isn't talking to publishers, isn't going out to meet editors, when they are sitting at their desk reviewing your manuscript, they are readers.

So, let's say that you recieve a rejection on your full manuscript and you recieve reasons why the agent rejected it, (I can hear the submitting writers laughing from here.) So you review the list, the things that this agent didn't like about your manuscript and that needs improvement. And you think to yourself, "What was this agent thinking? This isn't my book at all!" And you think, surely, positively, they read someone else's book and the email wasn't meant for you, because these changes are proposterous.

So what does it all come down to? Is your manuscript in ruins because you couldn't sell it to that one agent? Would you pull your book off the shelves for that one reader who just didn't get it? Of course not! Because surely, someone else will love the book.

And if no one else loves it, if everyone else thinks you're a fool for writing it, does that mean you have no worth as a writer?

Well, do you love what you've written?

Forget all the nay-sayers and the bring downs: Do you love your book?

If the answer is a yes, then you are a writer. You're a good writer. The true writers are passionate about their work and write what they love despite what anyone else will say.

After all, you cannot control other people's responses to your work. All you can do is, as an artist, create something beautiful and set it free in the world.



Saturday, June 12, 2010

It's a Sad Day (In Wonderland)

I think all authors have trouble when it comes time to say goodbye to a book. That goodbye can come in many forms-- finishing the book, placing it away, finishing a series, ect. For me, it's rewriting.

I hate rewriting books with a passion. Rewriting a scene or a chapter I can do, but when I look at an entire book and am forced to rewrite it, I feel like beating my head against the counter until I see little white stars and fall unconscious.

Rewriting is probably easier than writing the book in the first place, because you've got an idea of what you want it to look, how you want it to play out. But looking at the manuscript and realizing you did all that work and it's going to go out the window is painful.

I wrote DON back in March/April. Since then I left it alone and came back to it several times, but I just couldn't get into it. (If you've been following my blog, DON is the sequel to TED) I've found one of the main reasons why is because of a lack of tension. In the first book, there was tons of tension, and a whole hell of a lot of mystery. But since my characters know who the bad guy is, that takes out the aspect of mystery and I've just really let myself go with the tension.

I'll probably feel a lot better about the (re)writing process when I dive in. After all, I've got a plan, and I know my book will look amazing when its done.

But damn. I think I need to whip out the scotch.



Monday, June 7, 2010

I Wanna Hear Yours: Why Do You Read/Write YA?

Weeeeeeelcome back for another fabulous round of Katie's infamous: I Wanna Hear Yours! In which you listen to my insane ramblings and I listen to yours.

Today's question on the board: Why do you read/write YA?

I especially want to hear from those of you who are no longer in the 12-18 catagory. Why do we still read YA? Why do we put up with bosses/friends/coworkers/family/estranged neighbours looking down their noses at us for reading the latest teen romance when we're so clearly (oh so very clearly) no longer in high school?

So what is it about this tantalizing (genre? Age group?) that keeps you coming back for more, more, more?

Personally, the reason I love YA so much is because of two main reasons:

1) Pacing


2) Firsts.

First, the pacing. (Haha!) Sometimes, (albiet, I will admit, not always) I find myself reading an adult book and I want to beat my head against the table because it's going SO GODDAMN SLOW. (Disclaimer: Katie is not stating that all adult books have slow pacing, or that all YA books have good pacing. Please refrain from throwing tomatoes as it will ruin my nice clean shirt.) So I'm drawn to the quick pacing, the quick wit and the inevitable: "WHY IS EVERYTHING HAPPENING ALL AT ONCE OMIGAWDZOMIBIES AND ISN'T THAT BOY SO CUTE AND OMIGAWDZOMBIES!"

2) Firsts. This is kind of a big one for me. The romance in YA is always so fresh because it's from the perspective of someone who has never experienced romance before. Everything is so raw and sharp because teenagers are experiencing these emotions for the first time. Of course, it doesn't always lead to a happy ending, but I just like how none of the teenagers have yet put up emotional walls like adults do. They don't know how to handle and so sometimes they react without considering the consequences, which makes for great conflict.

And this doesn't just apply to romance. First time having sex, first high school experience, first real world problems, first encounter with drugs and so on and so forth.

Those two catagories can be placed in any sub-genre of YA: fantasy, paranormal, historical, whatever. They almost always have a swift pace (which makes it usually shorter, which, what can you do?) and a series of firsts.

So, contestants, step right up to the mic and SHOW YOUR STUFF. Why are you reading YA? Why are you writing it? Is what you like about it something that applies to all genres of YA or just a few?

You heard my ramblings, now I WANNA HEAR YOURS!

I should get some cheesy theme music to go along with this.



Sunday, May 30, 2010

Openings and First Lines

I'm sure everyone and anyone who is in publishing or wants to get publishing will tell you you have to hook the reader/agent/editor from thew first sentence.

And if you didn't get the memo: You have to hook the reader/agent/editor from the first sentence.

This sounds hard, doesn't it? I know a lot of new authors who come into the game, take one look at that and think action. Action, they assume, is the best way to catch a reader's interest from the get-go and hold on tight. Now, I won't deny that this works, but there are so many other ways to hold onto a reader from the beginning. Voice, is a great one. Actions, yes, but sometimes just plain weirdness will keep someone reading.

Let's look at some famous openings, shall we?

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.
-Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger

Why is this opening line engaging? What about it makes you want to continue reading? Well, for one, it's a terribly long run-on sentence. But this is a run-on because it's part of the character's voice. Almost instantly we see the kind of person that Holden is in this opening. It also leads a bit of mystery. What is "it" and why would we want to hear about it? There are specifically placed words that allow us a glimpse of what kind of character we will be spending this novel with. "Lousy childhood" "How my parents were occupied and all before they had me" "David Copperfield kind of crap." Each little hint is a reflection of his character. None of these words are acceidental.

Which is very important when discussing the development of character: Nothing should be accidental. If your character compares his father to Elvis, there has to be a reason in that.

All children, except one, grow up.
-Peter Pan, JM Barrie

I LOVE this opening. Why is it effective? Because of the mystery! Six words and you're (or at least I am) instantly hooked! All children grow up, that goes without saying. So who is this child, this ONLY child that won't grow up? What makes it so he can't grow up? What about him is so different from other children?

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.
-I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith

Why does this opening work? Because it's just plain weird. There's not much voice in this, not much mystery. (Other than why would you be sitting in a kitchen sink?) But it's not what you expected. When you're writing something, you should be sitting at a desk, or maybe on the couch, or even on the floor, but a kitchen sink? Suddenly, there's an urge to read on, to understand the why.

So there we go. We have the three characteristics that make up great opening lines: Mystery, voice and just plain weirdness. But, of course, what's a good line followed by a good second or third? The sole purpose of the first line is t0 make them read the second, then the third and so on. Though the whole novel is the most important part, trying to grab the reader from right away is never a bad thing.

"You're not going to like what I have to say, but you are about to die a horribly painful death. Within moments, someone will swing in through the window and shoot you four times in the chest. Should that fail, several men are hiding behind your sofa and desk, and will engage in hand to hand combat. Should you defeat them, it will not matter, because by then the undetectable poison leeking in through your air vents will shut down your heart and lungs successively."

I turn up from the card, eye the window, then the couch and finally the air vent. Moments before the glass shatters I can't help but think, 'Mom has to find a new way of wishing me happy birthday.'

This is an opening that I wrote not long ago, for no other reason than I like writing openings. Looking at the first line: You're not going to like what I have to say, but you are about to die a horribly painful death. Not a bad opening sentence, but not "wow" factor. The only thing that makes it better is the rest of the paragraph, followed by my main character's commentary on this seemingly inevitable chain of events.

But did the first line do its job? Did it make you read the second? And that second line, did it make you read the third? Then it succeeded in its job.

Your first line doesn't have to be action packed, or filled to the brink with voice or mystery. Trust me, a powerful first line helps like you wouldn't believe, but it won't sell your book. But if you're first line just doesn't cut it, it may cause that reader/editor/agent to put down your book.

First lines are really not easy for a lot of people, so I suggest practicing by just picking a random subject and writing a line about it. Or finding a great voice and just trying it out.

First lines can be really fun when you get the hang of them. So go! Go, go, go and practice!



Thursday, May 20, 2010

Have Faith

Publishing is a lot like jumping from an airplane. Except less fun.

Sorry I haven't been updating lately. I've been a busy little... (bird? Bee? Lawnmower? I don't know) so I haven't had the time. Plus, I don't really know what to talk about half the time. Sometimes I imagine I'm talking to empty space, because I can't imagine anyone wanting to listen to the advice of an unpublished author on how to get published. Go me.

Anyway, like I was saying. Planes. Publishing. Plumiting towards the ground. Right.

Today I recived a partial request for TED. Now, naturally, iw as very excited when I recieved the request. But as I checked through my chapters to comb for any last minute mistakes, the doubts started fluttering in. "There's no way this is good enough. This is all wrong. This writing is horrible. These opening pages don't draw the reader in enough. I could swear this was good last week!"

But what could I do? Rewrite the entire beginning of my book? That would just leave me a mess before I had to send it off. There were some changes I could make, but this was what I had to offer, sink or swim.

So I sent it. Sometimes it's hard to see the merit in your own work when you've spent so long looking at the mistakes. But all you can do is take a deep breath and send it out there. There was something about that book that made YOU write it, and make YOU love it. So all you can do is leap from the plane and hope your parachute open. Or, at least hope someone else likes your work as much as you do.

And if it's a rejection, so? It's not like you've fallen any farther than you were before you sent it out. But you had a chance to get further. If you feel fear when you send yourself out there-- that's a good thing. If you're living your life without fear, you've stopped trying new things, you've stopped making yourself vulnerable. And when you stop making yourself vulnerable, you limit your ability to grow.

So be afraid. You have every right to be. But eventually, you'll stop being afraid of it. And then you can expand your horizons even further, and keep on growing.



Tuesday, May 4, 2010

New Adventures and Teaser Tuesday? Yes, let's do that.

So, lately, I've come to a place in my life where I realize I have no idea what the hell I'm doing.

I blame school. School makes me lose my mind.

So, because of that I'm started to venture into unknown territory. I've got my helmet and a sharp stick and that's about it. Normally, I write third person past tense YA fantasy. Well, I've figured, "Fuck it," and am currently working on a book which is first person present tense YA contemporary.

Am I insane? Yes, yes I am.

I want to really focus on voice here, and strangely, I'm succeeding. In preparation for this, I've tried to find a few first person "voicey" books, like Hannah's Break or Will Grayson, Will Grayson. But other than that, I've never written a contemporary novel before. hell, I've only written ONE, count it, ONE, urban fantasy book. Which leaves me pathetically underprepared for this venture into contemporary territory.

But remember, I have a sharp stick!

I doubt I'll ever try to market this book, which is currently untitled (But why don't we cann it NAM? Just for fun.) NAM isn't a book that I've wanted to write for very long, although its main character Antoine has been bothering me for quite some time. So, with nothing but a vague idea of a conflict and a handful of characters, I dove in. And what do I get?

Is it physically possible to gut and then hang yourself with your own intestines, or would you just die from trauma or whatever before you could tie a noose?

Yeah, you read that right. Whether I am completely insane or not is up for debate. But, truthfully, this line took forever to write, because I never know how to actually start books, even ones in genres and tenses and POV that I am comfortable. The key with really nailing down Antoine's voice was to let go of my reservations when it comes to writing and literally writing whatever comes into my (or his) head. That includes swears and all that nasty teenage slang.

I get dressed and text Wyatt even thought he can’t text me back. I tell him about how much I love him, and that no distance or person or whatever will change that and I know it’s bullshit and he knows it’s bullshit and we don’t care.

I know what you're thinking. (Well, maybe. I'm not a mind reader.) That second sentence is pretty much a run on. And I wrote it purposefully like that because the way I hear Antoine speak in my head is he goes on and on and sometimes doesn't know when to stop because it's easier to keep talking than stop and ohmygod breathe!

Who knew I would take creative liscence? It's kind of fun.

The bell rings, so I don’t have to talk to Mrs. Cheery-McFuckface anymore.


...Yeah, I think I'm getting a handle on this voice thing.

“Hey, bitchface!”

It takes me a moment to realize the bitchface is, in fact, me.

I turn and find a girl standing behind me. Her brown hair is tied up in a ponytail, and she’s got a sports bag at her side with a lacrosse stick in her hand.

I level the most annoyed stare possible on her. “Yes?”

She drops the bag to the ground, rears back and wails me across the face with her lacrosse stick.

-whistles innocently- I'm starting to have fun with this. Though I'm sure you have no idea what is happening, I hope by this point you understand what kind of character Antoine is. (Note: Antoine has been forced to move from a city in Quebec to a small town in Alberta and hates it. We are seeing his first day at school. Poor Antoine. Havin' a bad day?)

So yeah, that's about all I can share. I hope I can get some support as I venture out onto this crazy new world. Hopefully after this novel I can get back to writing fantasy. Contemporary is great, but I can't make a living out of it. It's way too hard.

If anybody knows any great first person voice-y books, let me know!



Sunday, April 25, 2010

I Wanna Hear Yours: What Words Do You Hate?

Blog. I hate that word. Honestly. BUH-Looo-GUH. It's nasty. To say it out loud, for me, is just gross. I don't hate what it represents, of course. I love blogging, reading blogs or writing them, but the word itself just grosses me out. Seriously, right now, turn off your TV or music, sit back in your chair and say it a few times out loud.




It's a really ugly word, isn't it?

When I was younger, I always used to hate the word "power." It left a bad taste in my mouth every time I would use it, so, naturally, I avoided using it in my writing. (I think too many bad kid's TV shows with sayings like "I have the power!" made it a hard word for me.) I also hated the word goal. But that's because I had too many pushy adults trying to make me plan out my life when all I wanted to do was play with dolls and jump in mudpuddles.

One of my favorite rants was by Ariel Gore, who wrote the book How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead--

(PssssZZZZT-- We interupt this blog post to annouce that Ariel's book is on sale now. Go out and buy it! Seriously, right now. What are you waiting for? Do you want to be published? Well go get the damn book! Seriously, if you're still reading this, you'd better own the book. Now, go out and buy it. I can wait.


Do you own it now? Good. You can resume your regularly schduled reading.)

--Where Ariel went on a rant about the word "plethora" and how it's just a fancy way of saying "a lot of" and how she despises this word.

So, I was wondering: are there are any words there that you just hate? (Talking, of course, of real words. No lols or omgs or the like, please.) Do you purposefully avoid this word while writing? Do you cringe when you see it in a book you're reading?

You heard my ramblings, now I wanna hear yours: What words do you hate?



Friday, April 23, 2010

Being Differnt Makes a Difference

So, I think we've all been told at least once or twice to write what we know. It's comforting. We understand what we're writing, we're less likely to make mistakes, and its a familiar world in which we can mold to our desires.

Well, that's great for brand new writers who don't know the ropes. But if you've written a couple of novels and have ben around the block a few times, you may want to step out of that box.

Think about it this way, if everyone wrote what they knew, it would be a lot of contemporary with very little plot-driven novels. Agents aren't looking for the same thing. They aren't looking for the million contemporary novels about housewives in middle-america. They want new and interesting stories. They want something they haven't read a million times before.

So pick a topic that interests you, something you don't know that much about and find a story there. If you're a romance writer, you may look into the Spanish inquisition period or the 30's and find a love story in the past. If you write historical, head to Russia or New Zealand. Yeah, there's going to be a lot of research, but all that hard work just might put you over the edge and get you in print.

You can tell I'm still recovering from the flu with this wimpy blog post. Oh well, that's all I got in me. Be original! Be brave!



Monday, April 12, 2010

Waiting Crazies.

So, about two weeks ago today I recieved a full request for TED. For my last manuscript, I was very good at waiting. The agents were quick to get back to me, one took a week and the other took five days, and I was perfectly content to wait however long.

But I'm so excited about this project that it's been two weeks and I'm losing my mind. I don't care if it's a rejection or acceptance (really I don't. I queried before I was ready so I'm not expecting much) I just want to hear back, you now? (I promise I was a good girl and only queried once. It just happened to be a full request.)

So, how do you guys handle the waiting crazies? I'm sure most of you, unlike me, have lives. How do you resist beating your head on the table and wondering when that damn agent will get back to you?



Sunday, April 11, 2010

Book Review: Break


By: Hannah Moskowitz

Book Review by: K. Carson

Blurb: Jonah is on a mission to break every bone in his body. Everyone knows that broken bones grow back stronger than they were before. And Jonah wants to be stronger—needs to be stronger—because everything around him is falling apart. Breaking, and then healing, is Jonah's only way to cope with the stresses of home, girls, and the world on his shoulders.

Characters: Moskowitz's characters are truly made great with their interaction with each other. The greatest relationship in this book is between that of Jonah and his brother Jesse. The evolution of their relationship through the book is strikingly realistic to teenagers, and because this book was written by someone close to the age of her characters, it really made the characters, oh, I don't know, feel like real teenagers. Their dialogue was very real and the relationships, (though slightly twisted due to Jonah's twisted nature) are very real. This novel is very character-driven.

I decree: 4/5

Plot: The plot wasn't as straight forward as a lot of other self-destructive books. Though we can see Jonah going further and further downhill, the end of this book really took me by surprise-- in a good way. This book is a mastery of tension and really knows how to pull the reader down. The tension mounts and you can feel it building and building. I loved the excitement and tension this book could instil. Though I was very sucked in by the end, when things begin to spiral out of control for Jonah, it paints really strong emotion without drowning the reader in self-pity.

I decree: 5/5

Fundimentals: I did have some problems with the fundimentals of this book. At one point I saw there was a missing quotation mar around a sentence, and other time it seemed like there were a lot of missing commas where there should have been. Though this was mostly my nitpicking, and the lack of commas did create a sensation of panic and thoughts running together, so I can just put it off as being sylistic.

I decree: 4/5

Overall: A VERY powerful book. I was extremely impressed with this, since it was another book I bought on a whim. (I should do this more often.) I was sucked in right from the beginning, but the mounting tensions made the pages fly by. I felt as though I coudl not put this down. I strongly suggest this for anyone, especially those that are struggling to heal.

13/15 stars



Saturday, April 10, 2010

Teaser... Saturday?

So, over at the AW YA forum, we've got YA blogroll, which I'll fully admit I'm not a full member of. But they do a thing called Teaser Tuesdays, and I feel like sharing today, but don't have the full capacity to write something prevocative.

So, I wanted to share a little passage from my current WIP, the one I'm trying to edit (and eventually, hopefully, someday see in print.)

It's not very long, but, hey, whatever. Enjoy.

Jonah tried to keep his mind on the fact that he was supposed to be teaching twelve kids the ways of the world. It was hard when Gaea was pushing herself up against him as they walked.

“I’m so glad,” Gaea replied. “You know, I don’t visit the monastery enough. But perhaps I should…” She linked her arm with his and leaned in so close he could feel her breath on his neck. “Tell me. Are all you monks celibate?”

Jonah’s heart seized in his chest and for a moment he thought he was suffering heart failure again.

A very logical part of Jonah wanted to scream, “Yes!” and dislodge himself from the young woman.

But another (much lower) part of Jonah commanded him to fall to his knees and scream, “Oh dear Nyx, no! I refuse to remain as pure as the gods made me! Take me and my Magik, temptress!”

Jonah was saved from having to answer when the path widened and the pools came into view. The children hurried past them to see.

“We’ll talk about this later,” Jonah told her. His voice cracked. He despised his very existence.

And for something a little less humourous, a passage from a little later:

Demetrius could see the staff-wielding man on the ledge above them, looking down with his dull eyes. He flipped the hood of his robe down and studied Demetrius’ prone form. “He shall be our vessel for Brie. Bring her.”

The old/young people around him stared in confusion before they scattered to follow their master’s orders. In the distance, Demetrius could hear a woman’s screams. One of the shrivelled young women brought forth an orb. She held it over Demetrius’ exposed chest, casting another glance up towards her master, whose face was set in stone.

She lowered the orb to his stomach. The crystal felt cold to the touch before it began to slip into his body. Demetrius struggled and fought and willed his body to do something other than just lie there. The orb hesitated, hanging halfway into his skin. His flesh itched, creating a maddening sensation that tickled all across his skin.

No, no, NO!

Demetrius resisted, fought, and screamed in his mind as though it would repel the orb from his body. But it hung still, seeming to stare at him like a lazy half-lidded eye. The shrivelled woman leaned over him and pushed the orb into his chest until it disappeared inside of him. No entry wound, no blood. The orb was gone, but Demetrius could feel it in the pit of his gut.

He could feel the orb shatter and release its captive.

Demetrius resisted. He fought. But despite his Magik, his discipline, his control over his body and mind, it just wasn’t enough.

Demetrius’ Diod cracked.

He screamed, and knew only fire.

Thanks for stopping by!



Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Genres can't die: So quit your bellyaching!

Recently, (although I know the trend is anything but recent) I've been hearing a lot of writers and literary agents whining that certain genres or troupes are 'dead.'

Frankly, I'm getting quite sick of it.

I've had people ask me if High Fantasy is dead. (By the way, no it's not.) I've had people worrying if humour novels were taking a downturn, due to the subjective nature of humour. (No need to worry on that front.) Poetry writers often say there isn't a big enough market for poetry, and thus, since there isn't a market, poetry will take a downward spiral. (Even though I'll admit you don't see a very big poetry section at your local bookstore, it does exist.)

So, I assume by this point you're wondering why I, a lowly unpublished author, have the ability to say whether or not genres can truly 'die.'

Well, cause I say so. :P

Here's why: Genres are not a single book. Books can die. Stories can wither away. But genres are simply a type of book loosely connected by similiar themes. And as long as there are people worrying about it dying, it'll never die. Because those people will continue to write it. Literary agents and editors may stick their nose up at genres and troupes they've seen so often, but the people who love them will keep writing them. Eventually, a literary agent may look at a book that he turned down six years ago as 'too overdone' and decide he hasn't seen something like this in a while, and offers a contract.

I like to compare the book world to economics. The economy can't 'die.' The economy will change based on the influences of the world, and the economy will have periods of boom and bust as based on Keynesian Economics, but it will always keep chuggling along so long as people keep putting their faith in it.

So, for example, let's look at the whole vampire boom. (I'm aware this isn't a genre. Bite me.) We see the evolution of vampires from the traditional vampires and then we see the evolution of a more 'sexy' vampire through the '80s with Anne Rice's vampires. We see this trend continue to grow until we hit the boom of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight.

This is where we see Keynesian Economics play out in the book world. We see the gradual popularity grow for vampires, before Twilight creates the boom we were all waiting for (it was only a matter of time, really.) At the peak of the vampire boom, we saw many vampire books hit the shelves, in both adult and young adult fiction. But now literary agents and editors are turning their noses up at vampire fiction, along with many readers. Thus, we're seeing the bust happening, as the vampire curvve begins to fall.

It's nature. Nothing can stay popular forever. This is true in all aspects of art. Does this mean vampires are dead? No way, baby. There are still people who love it and will continue to read and write what they love. They will resurface, just like any other genre out there. Urban fantasy is hitting its peak right now, meaning high fantasy is taking a beating. But eventually people will begin to tire of the same-old, same-old and look for something they haven't seen. Urban fantasy will take a tumble, and something else will take the sweet spot.

Every troupe or genre changes over time. Next time we see vampires, who knows? Maybe some author will create a vampire who isn't as much of a monster but just an addict (which I know some books like that are already on the shelves) This may hit the shelves at just the oppertune moment to cause another boom in vampire fiction.

No genre will die. As long as there are people writing it, there will be people who want to read it, and as long as people want to read it, there will be a market for it. Genres will have their low times, but take a deep breath and calm down. Fluxuating markets are what make the economy-- and publishing-- so great. It's supply and demand, baby.



Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Author Interview: Simone Elkeles

Guess what, ladies and gentlemen! I've got a special treat for you. Simone Elkeles has agreed to do an interview for me and for you! She is the author of such wonderful books as Perfect Chemistry, its sequel Rules of Attraction, Leaving Paradise and much more. Be sure to check them out!

A little bit about her, from her website.

She loves animals (she has two dogs – a labradoodle and a German Shepherd), kids (she also has two of those) and her family. In her spare time she’s the Hockey Mom for her kids hockey teams and is an active Girl Scout leader specially trained in outdoor education. She also spends time mentoring other teen and adult authors. (she also loves sushi, which you can probably tell by reading her books).

1) What/Who inspired you to become a writer?

I hated reading as a teen, but fell in love with reading as an adult. I just sat down one day and had an inspiration to write my own story, and I did it. I found the love of writing because it wasn't for a grade or to please a teacher, it was to entertain myself. Once I started writing, I couldn't stop.

2) When do you write? Do you find there is a specific time you write?

I am a mom, so I write when my kids are in school or after they're in bed. If I'm on deadline, then I write whenever my eyes are open and I'm awake. Deadlines sometimes are not fun. Sometimes I'll go to sleep for a few hours and set my alarm for 3am just because the house is quiet and there's nothing else to do but write.

3) What was the hardest part of writing your first (published) book?

I think starting a book is hard, especially because you know there is just soooo much ahead of you to go. But my first published book was a comedy and fun to write, so it wasn't hard.

4) Was there a time when you didn't want to be a writer?

Yes, from birth until I was 30 - before I fell in love with books.

5) What is your favorite part of writing/publishing? What aspect do you find yourself unable to wait for?

I love creating characters and stories. Because I don't write an outline, I am surprised at the ideas that come to my head as I'm the process of writing is exciting because I never know what's going to happen next. That said, because I don't plot beforehand I make mistakes. Anyone can find them in my books if you look hard enough (and even if you don't look hard enough, ha ha). I hate finding mistakes, but it happens. I can't wait to see my books in their final form...holding my own book in my hand is the most surreal and incredible feeling.

6) There seems to be a lot of controversy in the writing world about fanfiction. How do you feel about fanfiction based off your books?

I have been so busy on deadline lately that I haven't had time to read any fanfiction. I read one or two stories, and I think they're cute. I don't know about any controversy in the writing world about fanfiction, so you're more informed than I am. What I do hate with a passion is when readers search for "free downloads" of my books or any other author's books. It's absolutely illegal and really makes me angry. That must stop, because it's not fair to authors. Most authors are not millionaires and copying their work without permission is a really big problem.

7) Can you describe what it was like when you recieved The Call from your agent?

I cried. And I was shocked, because you never think your work is good enough and you're always second-guessing yourself. Writing is a business, but it's a very personal business because your books are your babies. I know people say you shouldn't take it so personally, but you do. When you put your baby out there in the world, the last thing you want to hear is, "That baby is the ugliest creature I've ever seen in my life!" My current agent, Kristin Nelson, is amazing. She is never afraid to tell me how it is, but she's very supportive of my work and definitely gives constructive criticism on how I can improve my work.

8) You've written a number of books. Do you do any specific marketing yourself or do you leave it to your publisher?

I do a lot of marketing myself, and even on my own hired Goldberg, McDuffie Communications for publicity for Perfect Chemistry. I've done rap video book trailers and even a book trailer for Rules of Attraction that was shot like a real movie trailer. I hired a film company in Los Angeles and had my friend Pete Jones direct it. I was super excited when Alexander F. Rodriguez signed on to be "Alex Fuentes" (He's from Katy Perry's Hot N Cold music video) and Giancarlo Vidrio signed on as "Carlos Fuentes." The response to the casting of my heroes has been overwhelmingly positive, and my fans are begging me for a movie of the books. I am a marketing machine, which probably stems from my business background. I can't help it - marketing is in my blood.

9) What appeals to you most about writing for teens?

I love the raw emotions of teens and how they're brutally honest - sometimes without a filter. Writing teen characters is the best, and so much fun I don't think I could stop even if I wanted to. I also get the biggest high out of reading my fan mail. I get the BEST fan mail. My fans are so passionate about my books and I love that. They inspire me to write more books.

There you go, ladies and gentlemen. Remember, Rules of Attraction, Perfect Chemistry's sequel, goes on sale April 13! I think everyone will agree with me when I say thanks so much for coming down, Ms Elkeles!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Book Review: Perfect Chemistry

Perfect Chemistry

By: Simone Elkeles

Book Review by: K. Carson

Blurb: At Fairfield High, everyone knows that south siders and north siders aren’t exactly compatible elements. So when cheerleader Brittany Ellis and gang member Alex Fuentes are forced to be lab partners, the results are bound to be explosive.

Neither teen is prepared for the most surprising chemical reaction of all – love. Can they break through the stereotypes and misconceptions that threaten to keep them apart?

Characters: Anyone out there want an example of how to write characters? Well this book is exactly how characters should be potrayed. I was a little unsure when the book opened with Brittany talking about how she needs to be perfect, once the reader breaks past those sterotypes bred into us (which is done when we see Brittany interacting with her sister) we can fully appreciate how deep these characters are. I've never seen such well constructed characters. Truthfully, I was unsure about reading this book as I don't often read romance, but I was in desperate need for books and I knew Ms Elkeles was represented by my dream agent Kristin Nelson. The switch paid off! Flawed characters who put up barriers to hide themselves, and they stayed true to themselves from beginning to end. No random out of character actions for this book. Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is how characters should be done.

I decree: 5/5

Plot: Now, like I mentioned already, I don't usually read non-fantasy books. This is because often plot in much of fiction moves too slowly, but I was surprised at Ms Elkeles' pacing. It definitely moved slowly, (compared to fantasy, of course) but it flowed in such a way that everything was built on top of itself. It wasn't like the books where it seems random scenes were strewn together and all makes sense at the end. This book builds upon itself, so the characters don't forget what happens a scene earlier (Horray!) Though the non-romance plot doesn't start taking shape until much later, I had no problem with it. This is a very character-driven novel.

I decree: 4/5

Fundimentals: Ah, this book is written in first person present tense. Not only is it in first person, but it jumps between Alex and Brittany's POV. Now, surprisingly, I didn't mind this. (All this first person is beginning to grow on me, damnit.) Elkeles constructs it in a way that not only make it easy for readers to identify whose POV we are in, but there was no jarring motion of switching between POVs. Not sure how this happened, but hey, you can't argue with results.

I decree: 5/5

Overall: I loved this book. I fell in love from chapter one (or maybe chapter two. Alex really sold this book for me.) I read it in two days, and couldn't put it down for very long (Unfortunately, I had to sleep) I would recomend this book to anyone who reads romance and even those that may be on the edge. It's a beautiful love story that isn't over-doing the mushy-gushy stuff. A lovely treat.

I decree: 14/15 stars

I just want to drop off Simone's book trailer for Perfect Chemitry and her trailer for the sequal Rules of Attraction going on sale April 13. Which I think we should all pre-order now.

Thanks everyone.



When To Throw In The Towel?

No one likes to hear it, but after a certain amount of rejections, sometimes authors have to shelf their manuscripts and move on to writing something different.

The question is, when do you draw the line?

Firs of all, if we're going to sell a manuscript, we have to be smart about it. So don't throw all your eggs (or queries) in one basket, because before you know it you'll be out of agents. What you want to do first is to make sure that you have a finished, polished manuscript (that has preferably seen the eyes of betas) and a nice, polished query (that has, again, been torn apart to perfection.)

The best way to start with querying is query in batches of 5-10. If you're not getting about a 10% request rate, then you should consider revising your query.

What happens if you really, REALLY want to requery an agent because you rewrote your query and you think it's made of sparkily awesomeness? Well, the general rule is, wait at least a month, and make sure that your query is definitely an improvement. Don't kid yourself into thinking changing around a sentence or two is a big change. My rule, is if they reject your second query, stop querying them. They've made their decision, and it probably isn't the query that's not appealing to them.

So, you've gone through your complete list of agents, a few have read it but mostly rejected without any personalization. Do you give up now?

Now, this is a very personal question. Me? I can pump out a novel in a month-2 months. Some take years to write their novel. If I've worked my way through my list, rewrote my query over and over and still got rejected, I would call it quits. Something about my book just won't sell.

But I know many people who continue going. The reason I often don't is by the time I've collected all my rejections, I've realized the problem with the manuscript and why I can't sell it. If I can't fix it, I move on.

But what authors don't seem to understand is that this is such a personal question. There is no number of rejections you get before you throw in your towel. If you find something early on that's really wrong with your manuscript and you can't fix it, move on. If you're really attached to your manuscript and truly believe it will sell, rework you query, let new eyes read it and figure out why it's not selling.

But what I must stress, is if you decide to shelf your manuscript, that doesn't mean you've failed as a writer. It means you still need work. Writing isn't something anyone is just good at. Every writer has to work to be better at their craft. My rule is that if you're shelving your manuscript, you'd better have another one ready to sell. Publishing is all about being stubborn as hell. If you can just keep going and keep getting better, you'll make it some day.



Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Revisions, anyone?

So, I have a feeling that Wedensday and Monday nights will be my updating nights. Unless I get lazy and don't feel like it. (Go me!)

So, since I am hacking my way through edits of my own, I figured we could talk about revisions. Not too bad, right? It's not that scary, right?

Truthfully, I hate revisions. My favourite part is the writing, I can't stand going back and actually looking at what I wrote and try to figure out how I can pull a story out of the bloody mess of words. Now, the trouble with talking about revision is that there is no good way to go about it. Everyone has their own style, and that's just what works for them.

Well, today, I'm going to talk about what I do. Because, dontcha now, it's all about me.

So how do we take that massive pile of paper and hack away at it? Well, there are two ways you can do it.

a) Wait until the story is done before you start looking at it.
b) Edit as you go.

A lot of writers will suggest option a. But I know some who are quite successful a toption b. The reason that writers don't suggest this is because often new writers get so caught up in the editing and they become too-self conscious of their work, so they end up tangling themself up in words, getting frustrated, and quit.

I do option a, but that's because of my lame excuse for 'creativity.'

So, the manuscript is written. We'll talk about my current manuscript titled In The Eye of Death. (or TED, for short. Hi TED!)

Now, what we did with TED, (and by 'we', I mean me and the multitude of voices in my head) is we wrote it all out first. This took three weeks and many ten-hour days staring at a computer screen. The final product came out to a whooping 57 000 words. Not my finest hour, but it will do.

STEP ONE! (Besides the actual writing part)

What I like to do is print of my manuscript, page by agonizing page (why yes, I do spend a thousand dollars on ink a year. Why do you ask?) Then I will go through and with a literal red pen, I will focus on flow, information that's needed, and any major unanswered questions or plot points. I go through it all manually, and once that's finished, I take my stack of paper (which not looks like the dog tore it up) and apply these changed onto my electronic copy.

This usually takes about a weekend in all. I'll sit down and spend about 24 hours (in two 12 hour chuncks) going through and making sure all the changes are added.


It now looks a bit less like a pile of random words, and now more like a lumpy roll of cheese.

This is where I print it all off again. (Oh shut up all you enviornmentalists. I recycle.) I go through, looking for new continuity errors that have popped up with all the scenes I've added. TED, by this point, is not at 67 000 words. Go TED!

So again, I read through all of it with my red pen, hacking up characters and motivations and anything that just makes my ears turn purple. Then I go and add the changes. This usually takes less than the first time, because there's less to add.


I don't print anything off this time. Happy, you damn Green People?

I go through my book AGAIN (why yes, by this time I do want to pound my head into the keyboard.) and I check for spelling mistakes, typos, nasty wordings or lack of description. I 'pretty' up my writing. This is done over the span of several days, because I can't look at a computer screen for that long and by this point I'm sick of all the paper.

By this point, our TE is up to 71 000 words.


This is where my manuscript is now. It's off to the betas! Every couple of weeks or so (or when I prode them with a sharp, hot stick) they send me chapters to look over. This is just a lot of adding, changing around, messing with characters and plot. I can usually take care of bad writing on my own, so my betas don`t look at those things. (Although sometimes they point out glaringly embarrassing typos.) Right now, from the edits my betas have sent me, I'm up to 76 000 words. (As you can see, I underwrite.)

This is also where I do things like, write my query letter, work on other books, mess around on Absolute Write and stare at the ceiling. I'm a bit of a control freak, so this step in the process ALWAYS drives me crazy. I like things done on my time.


This is where, once all my betas comments have been taken into account, I go bac and do one final read through, to catch any nastiness that I might have missed. TED isn't here yet, but soon, my precious.... soon.

And then, it's off to the agents!

Hopefully TED will be on sub by June. Cross your fingers for me!

Now, just for fun, I found this "word cloud" thing on which I thought was really cool. I figured I'd pump TED in there and see what we get.

Can you guess who my MCs are?

Monday, March 22, 2010

I Wanna Hear Yours: Why Are We Underestimated?

Hey guys, I know I haven't ben around much recently. Things have been crazy, and I jut haven't been able to come up with anything half-decent to write about. But thankfully, I have a boring lovely receptionist job now, in which I can devote much of my free time to writing, and pondering the madness of it all.

And speaking, of madness, how about some crazy queriers? Like Janet Reid's 3D Query , Or how about some good ol' fashion weirdies? But wait! There's more!

Why do these querying blunders keep happening? Are people trying to piss off agents? Are they really that stupid? Were they possessed by aliens and forced to do these things to ruin their careers?

Honestly, I know many of you believe in option b, (and a few of you might vote for option c) but I have a different theory.

These blunders keep happening because the publishing industry is underestimated.

Even the most intelligent of us think that publishing can't be that hard. I mean, honestly, when I first started I was afraid it was going to be too easy. I thought there was no way people wouldn't love my book as much as I did. A year and one hundred rejections later, I've wised up.

Of course, I didn't start querying like mad because I thought I was better than everyone else. I did my research, learned I wasn't such hot stuff, and got in line with the rest of the aspiring writers.

But many people on a daily basis underestimate us, don't do their homework, and think they're going to succeed. Because of this, we see wackos who think they're going above and beyound, but are really just scaring the pants off agents. I met a writer not long ago, good guy, smart guy. He finished his manuscript and decided to shop it around. After a while, he was getting angry because he wasn't selling anything. After a while he went out to golf with a friend of his who was an editor at a publishing house. He brought his manuscript, asked the guy to look it over.

Our little editor friend turned to him and said, "What would you say if I came onto this golf course, without ever having played a game, and said I was better than you and could beat you in a game?"

And that's when my friend learned its not as easy as it looks.

But I'm not here to talk about occasions in which we're underestimated. I came here to ask why.

What about writers, editors, publishers, book sellers-- what about the whole damn process makes people think its easy?

Is it because writing is an art form? Do people think it's this easy to paint and sell a painting?

Or it is because... it's just writing. Anyone who speaks English (or any other language, for that matter) can write a story. They just need to think up a good plot, some characters, and make it to THE END. However, it's a different story (ha! Pun.) when it comes to writing a GOOD story. And many first-time authors haven't learned to distance themselves from their pieces (hey, another thing I could blog about) and really scrutinize. Many people forget to mention that part of writing a novel.

I, myself, write young adult fiction. I've come under scrutiny many times because writing children's fiction is sometimes seen as a "lesser" form of writing. Often people see it as easier too. But, of course, no writing is any lesser than any other. So, will people look at children's fiction as an easy gateway into the publishing world? Is this another example of how our society looks on its younger citizens has "inferior"?

You've heard my ramblings, now I wanna hear yours. Why do people underestimate authors, YA, and publishing?



Thursday, February 18, 2010

Book Review: The Child Thief

The Child Thief

By: Brom

Book Review by: K. Carson

Blurb: Peter is quick, daring, and full of mischief—and like all boys, he loves to play, though his games often end in blood. His eyes are sparkling gold, and when he graces you with his smile you are his friend for life. He appears to lonely, lost children—the broken, hopeless, and sexually abused—promising to take them to a secret place of great adventure, where magic is alive, and you never grow old. But his promised land is not Neverland. . . .

Characters: The characters in this book were stunning, and not because they were wonderfully crafted or held amazing talents or quirks, but because they were all so flawed. I can't count the amount of times that I've heard the interesting characters are the flawed ones, and that holds so true here. Reading it at the beginning, you get sucked into the narrator's world. You believe what they believe, but about half-way aroun the book, when other's views are brought in, you begin to question the narrators of this book. When looking at the characters and their views, they're so contrived that it's impossible to believe any of them. It forces you to create your own opinion of the situation, based on what these characters were giving you.

I decree: 4.5

Plot: The plot took a long time to really kick in, and I mean a long time. Which really isn't important, because what matters is holding the reader's attention. I was stunned half-way through when I was still reading. The book's pace is slow, VERY slow, while Brom takes he time to nurture every scenario, go into extreme detail and cover Peter's entire backstory. From birth to present. Brom doesn't exactly build tension, but he builds up this world and characters and then rushes in and knocks it all out from under you.

I decree: 3.5

Fundimentals: My encounter with this book was like an author's dream. I didn't even intend to buy the book, but the cover caught my eye-- can you blame me? The title came next. The blurb on the back immediately sucked me in and the writing sealed the deal. The writing makes this book amazing. Brom is skilled enough to carve this world of pure fantasy, not to mention he doesn't drown us with information and backstory but makes it interesting. His prose is brilliantly constructed to give a perfect veiw of the world without dragging it out. And the pictures are breathtaking, I must say. I love a novel with a few good images.

I decree: 5

Overall: This book is not for th faint of heart. Brom displays death quite vividly, and death isn't pretty. So if you don't want to read about entrails being strewn across the ground while on your lunchbreak, take a step back. I never once put the book down because the gore made me ache with sympathy pains, (unlike Stephen King's Misery) but... well, as Brom says, Death isn't noble or romantic. It's just death.

I decree: 13/15