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.