The sweet and talented Adriana Ryan tagged me in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop, which is a fun way for writers to wax poetic about our books without seeming completely narcissistic. I’m not being a crowing parent, you see, I have to talk about my baby because I was tagged. So brace yourself as I get my brag on.
What is the working title of your book?
Ha, starting with an unexpectedly tough one. For the longest time, the title has been The Hunt because it works on many different levels, but I got feedback that it was too generic. So I’ve been floating The Drama Queen Who Cried Wolf for about a year with mixed results – some people love it, others say it has to go. Since most of the docs still have The Hunt, I guess I’m sticking with that until something brilliant hits me in the shower.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Three of my high school friends were also ‘Christmas babies’ like me, so for our 18th birthdays, we had a joint video scavenger hunt party where all of our friends divided into teams and filmed ourselves completing silly tasks my dad had concocted from his warped mind. It was a blast and one of my most vivid high school memories, so I thought it would make a fun story – but with murder and mayhem thrown in to spice things up, of course.
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
The actors I originally pictured as my characters have aged out in the time I’ve been dawdling with the rewrite, so I hit up IMDB to see if I could find some new candidates.
Brea (the protagonist) would be played by Allie Grant (Lisa on Suburgatory).
Tegan (Brea’s nemesis) would be played by Kat Graham (Bonnie on The Vampire Diaries).
Kylie (Brea’s best friend) would be played by Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss from The Hunger Games).
Caleb (Brea's crush) would be played by Jeremy Sumpter (J.D. from Friday Night Lights).
Ryker (Brea's main suspect) would be played by Steven R. McQueen (Jeremy form The Vampire Diaries).
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
After the body she discovers in the woods disappears, sixteen-year-old Breanna must prove it was not the product of her overactive imagination, but rather the handiwork of a killer who plans to silence her.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I hope to be represented by an agency, but I'll self-publish if that doesn't work out.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It was my 2007 NaNoWriMo novel, so it took me a month.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I have to admit I've been slack for a while about reading in my genre, so I don't really have any current titles for comparison. But the dark twists and turns are influenced by all the Christopher Pike novels I read growing up.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
This was my second NaNoWriMo, and I found it much tougher the second time, so my local NaNo group kept me going when I really wanted to quit.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Even though searching for a killer is a dark subject, I approach it with a light tone and lots of humor. Plus, there's romance. There's always gotta be romance. :-)
Thank you for making it this far in reading about my WIP. Now I need to go get crackin' on finishing the rewrite so there is an actual book for people to read!
And I never tag other people in these things, so if you haven't had a chance to brag about your baby yet and want to, then consider yourself tagged!
ETA: By special request I'm tagging Yve at Lazidaisical - I can't wait to find out what she's working on!
Did you (or are you going to) participate in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop? If so, leave me the link to the post so I can find out more about your book.
Dark Forest photo credit to topfer.
Uh, could someone please tell me where the heck June went? I couldn’t believe it when I saw it was time for another one of K.T. Hanna’s #writemotivation goal check-in months – since they only happen every other month that means it’s now JULY. Seriously?!? I never even got around to posting my wrap up for May’s goals! Although I guess that’s probably because I was a little embarrassed.
My goal in May was to make serious progress on rewriting my WIP. And I really did… as long as it counts as serious progress even if I didn’t rewrite a single word. I spent May doing in-depth thinking about my five main characters, figuring out a new approach for the tone, and working out plot issues that were tripping me up. I feel like I finally have a deep understanding of my characters and story, but by the time that last minute of May rolled around, I still had not cracked open my manuscript.
Fortunately, all that prep work went to good use in June, and I actually, finally, I know it's hard to believe, started rewriting. Progress has been slow as I’ve settled into a new voice for my protagonist, and after I finished chapter one I had a crisis of confidence and had to be talked off a ledge by some truly awesome critique partners, but I’m now getting into a rhythm. I was the speedy hare when I wrote the rough draft several years ago during NaNo, but for the rewrites I’ve turned into the slow tortoise, possibly the slowest tortoise on the planet. However, progress of any kind puts me in a much better place than I’ve been in years.
I have scenes that need to be added, other places that need to be completely rewritten, and some places that just need a bit of tweaking, so my pace will vary throughout the month, but I don’t want to settle for the vague goal of “progress” this time. Therefore, I’m keeping my goal for July tangible yet realistic: edit, rewrite, or add three pages a day on my WIP. I’ll push to do more, but I won’t feel bad if I don’t.
Best of luck to all of us this month as we work towards our goals!
Here we are, almost at the end of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge! It’s Short Story Saturday and the letter Y, so my plan was to write a Young Adult short story. Since YA is my favorite genre, I thought it would be a snap. But I have to admit, I’m pretty drained at this point, and my muse is whimpering in a corner and refusing to cooperate.
I’ve been going through old files lately and ran across my first NaNoWriMo novel AKA my first novel ever. It has so many of the beginning writer mistakes in it that it makes me cringe. But in a way, isn’t that what good YA fiction is supposed to do? Make us cringe at those feelings of being a teen when we’re so uncertain about everything and what people think of us is the most important thing in the whole wide world?
So I decided for my YA post I’d use an excerpt from this first uncertain effort. It’s when the main character Yvonne runs into the four guys she’ll be hanging out with for the rest of the novel. She’s a super shy gal who loves horror movies (hmmm . . . now who could my first novel protagonist be based on, I wonder?), and talking to guys makes her an awkward mess:
I knew I had to get their attention at some point, but my stomach churned. I wanted to turn around and run home. I didn’t think I could do this. How was I supposed to talk to four guys? But I really wanted to see Murder Mansion and going with them was the only way. Besides, Hayden looked so yummy in his red plaid shirt, I’d never forgive myself for running like a chicken. I had to follow Sara’s advice.
I squeezed my nails into my palms and said, “Hi.” It came out a dry whisper that didn’t get their attention. I felt hopeless. I took a step backwards. I’d just go home before I made a fool of myself. I could see Murder Mansion some other time. No! I could do this. I would force myself to be foolishly brave like one of the heroines from my slasher flicks. I gathered up my courage to try again.
A voice said, “Hello.” I briefly thought I was having an out-of-body experience, since I hadn’t moved my lips yet. Then I realized it was Hayden’s voice. He’d finally noticed me! The other guys turned around to look at me. Rider glared while the other three stared in open curiosity. I didn’t know how to react, so I stood there stupidly as the blood rushed to my cheeks.
Jeff recovered first, “Hey, Yvonne, you look… really nice. What are you doing here?”
I looked at Rider. He hadn’t told them? “I, well, uh, I’m-”
Rider sighed with hurricane strength. “Sorry guys, I forgot to tell you. We’re babysitting Yvonne tonight. She doesn’t have real friends, so she’s tagging along with us.”
My cheeks were so hot with anger and embarrassment I could have fried eggs on them.
Jeff came to my rescue again, “That sounds like a good idea with those stories on the news. We’d be honored to be your bodyguards.”
Bodie gave a wolf whistle. “Yeah, I’d be happy to guard your body any day of the week.”
Startled, I rocked back a half step, but when I looked at him, he gave me a small wink. I swallowed hard.
Hayden’s forehead wrinkled. “Yvonne, Yvonne… do I know you from somewhere?”
Oh, God, Hayden was talking to me. I had to make myself respond. Just force the words out. “Uh, yes, um, classes, I mean, we have three, uh, classes together.”
Rider barked out a laugh. “Talk about not making an impression.”
I glared at him, but Hayden said, “Guess I should have been paying less attention to the teachers and more attention to the people around me. Glad to have you along, Yvonne.” When I peeked over at him, his whole face lit up with his beautiful smile. My stupid cheeks got hot again.
Who knows if I’ll ever return to this first novel to try and salvage it, but it’s fun to revisit it. Hope you enjoyed the excerpt!
Was your first novel a practice novel? Or have you done something more with it than hide it in a drawer/folder on your hard drive? How Yippy is Bailey with her letter Y?
On this Willy-nilly Wednesday for the letter V, I had a completely different post planned for today. But then yesterday happened – pretty much the worst day so far in my life as a writer. Yesterday was the day Amazon announced the people moving on to the semi-finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA). This is my fourth year with this contest, and if you’re interested, you can read about my previous experiences here and here. Since this is the exact same version of the novel that got me booted at this point two years ago, I was disappointed, but not at all surprised when my name was not listed among the semi-finalists.
The real shocker came a few hours later when we got our Publishers Weekly reviews. Mine was devastating. Two years ago, I got a glowing PW review. It was so positive I actually went back and double-checked to make sure my name wasn’t on the semi-final list. It only had one minor negative thing to say, and I completely agreed with the reviewer that it was a weakness. This year was the exact opposite. The reviewer shredded my novel. There was only one slightly positive thing, “To be fair, some of it is actually funny, though…” followed by more brutalization of my story and main character. I know this business is extremely subjective, but it’s hard to believe these two people read the exact same manuscript.
My body actually went cold as I read it. I sat there a few minutes in shock unable to move. Then I read it again, thinking it was one of those things where my mind interpreted it as much worse than it actually was. Nope, it was terrible. I actually held up pretty well for about ten minutes. Then I decided to email the review to my family members, and as I pressed send, I completely fell apart.
I enter a lot of contests where feedback is part of the package, so it’s not like all I’ve ever heard are reviews from loved ones telling me my writing is so wonderful rainbow-colored butterflies fly out of my butt. I’ve had critiques that made me nod my head in agreement about my missteps, I’ve had critiques that made me defensive, I’ve had critiques where I thought the reviewer was an idiot, I’ve had critiques that opened my eyes to new ways of looking at my writing. I’ve never before had a critique that made me cry. Until now. And not just teary eyes. Full on ugly crying. It’s been hours since it happened, but I’m still tearing up as I write this post.
I thought about pasting the review here, but 1. It gives away plot points that are spoilers. 2. I never posted my positive one from two years ago either: since neither one will be based on the final version I submit to agents/editors, I don’t think I want them floating around on the interwebs. 3. It still hurts too much.
But having a supportive family is awesome. Here’s what my dad sent back to me after he read it: “Well, what F*ck Knuckle wrote that piece of sh*t” except he didn’t use asterisks (although he did use bold plus a giant font for the... uh, important words). My mom wrote back, “What an A-hole.” But she doesn’t curse, so she did use the dash. My brother and sister were similarly supportive about not letting one person get to me. And I know they’re right - it’s part of the business, and a thick skin is required.
However, this guy wasn’t constructive in his review, he was just mean. It was like he fancied himself the Simon Cowell of novels. But there was just enough in his pithy insults that resonated with the feedback I’ve gotten from some awesome critique partners (who have been honest, yet supportive – you know who you are, and I adore you!) that made it all the more devastating. If his comments had been off the wall, I could have easily dismissed him, but there were enough nuggets of truth in the review to jab straight at the heart of my writerly ego. I’ve felt vulnerable and emotional all day, and a big part of me wants to curl into a ball and never write again. It’s hard and it hurts.
But then there’s the part of me that’s vexed that I’ve let this one person have this much power over me. So what if this one guy didn’t get it? Plenty of other people have and loved it. And I know there are weaknesses, but I’m planning to fix them. And now, I’m feeling the life come back to me. I’ve needed to do this rewrite since I got to this point with ABNA two years ago. I have a few really exciting opportunities I might miss if I don’t get on the ball. And yet, I’ve still been procrastinating. But this one negative, hurtful person has lit a fire under me in a way none of the other positive possibilities have done so far. I won’t let him be right. I won’t let him win.
I am reVitalized.
How do you deal with mean-spirited feedback, especially when it has a ring of truth? Any advice as I prepare to get back up on the horse? How Vivacious is Lily with her letter V?
It seems that ABNA only likes me on even-numbered years, so thank goodness it’s 2012! If you’re interested, you can read about my roller-caster ride with the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) in this post. Suffice it to say, I’ve already passed “third time’s a charm” with this contest. But it’s a great opportunity for feedback, so I entered again.
I was especially nervous about the pitch round this year, since I’d modified my old query with some “quirky” changes. Last month when they announced the writers who were advancing to the next round based on the pitches, I was so relieved and excited to find my name on the list. It gives me a boost of confidence in the new version of my query.
Since I’ve been testing out a new “chill” attitude this go round (ha – yeah, right!), I tried not to think about the contest until the next round results were announced. When the email popped into my inbox on Tuesday saying the results were posted, my stomach danced a fancy little jig despite my determination to stay calm. So with a trembling hand, I clicked on the list and scrolled down... and there was my name! Hooray, I’m a quarterfinalist again! The two reviews from the Vine Reviewers (the judges for this excerpt stage) had some really happy-grin-inducing things to say about my first two chapters. One even compared it to Christopher Pike, which had me doing backflips.
Now the wait is on while people from Publishers Weekly read and review the entire novel. SCARY! This is where I was cut two years ago, and since I haven’t changed the manuscript, I’m not expecting to progress any further. But you never know, so I will be biting my fingernails to nubs while I pretend I’m totally calm.
In the meantime, Amazon has made the excerpts of all the quarterfinalists available for reading, rating, and reviewing. It’s only the first two chapters of my novel, but if you’ve wanted a sneak peek at what I’m working on, it’s there for you to read. The ratings and reviews don’t affect the judging or impact the contest in any way, but it’s always nice to hear what people think – what works and what doesn’t work.
So if you’re interested in reading my excerpt for The Drama Queen Who Cried Wolf (previously known as The Hunt), click here. ABNA had some ugly formatting issues when they first posted everything. I think they’ve now fixed everyone’s excerpts, but most of the pitches still have problems (missing paragraph breaks, dashes, and apostrophes), so don’t worry about my Product Description/pitch seeming off – I promise I usually punctuate correctly. To read the excerpt, you can use a Kindle, or if you don't have one then either use one of the Kindle apps for your computer or phone (which are free downloads) or the Kindle Cloud Reader option which works through you browser. To download it, click the Buy now with 1-Click button (don’t worry, it’s FREE!) It will ask which reader option you use, so pick the one you want and start reading.
Like I mentioned, at this point reviews and ratings don’t help or hurt me, so I’m not launching a campaign begging people to read and review. I just wanted to let anyone who might be interested know it’s available. And if you do decide to leave a review – I really appreciate your time and effort!
Do you have any experience with the ABNA competition? Do you think you might enter in the future? Is it okay to look like a silly fool while doing my happy dance?
Since today is January 23rd, according to my original resolutions I should be done rewriting my WIP in order to submit it to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) competition. But since I wised up (or depending on how you look at it, sunk to new depths of procrastination) last week, I decided not to rush the rewrite. However, that doesn’t mean I decided not to enter. So I gathered together my pitch, excerpt, and manuscript, and I’m now officially submitted to the 2012 ABNA.
I received an email today that made me a little sad – Chris Baty is stepping down as the Executive Director of The Office of Letters and Light (OLL). Chris started National Novel Writing Month with a few of his friends back in 1999, and since then it has grown into an international phenomenon. OLL is the non-profit group created to organize NaNo, Script Frenzy, and other writing adventures.
Although I’ve never met or even corresponded with Chris, he’s been a huge part of my writing journey. I like to think I’d have eventually gotten my act together to write my first novel, but I can’t be sure about that. For years I’d been saying I wanted to write a novel, but it wasn’t until I heard about NaNo that I actually did it. In the month leading up to it, I read his book No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days, which really felt like a pep talk from a friend telling me I could do it and coaching me on how to keep the fear from paralyzing me.
How amazing it must feel to Chris to have started this movement that helps people achieve their dreams and try new and scary things. I know NaNo has a lot of detractors saying people are just spewing out crap, and I myself get frustrated by the participants who don’t realize the importance of rewriting and editing these NaNo drafts before sending them out, but I will always be grateful to Chris and this insane event he started. Not only did it set me firmly on my path of serious writing, it also introduced me to a new format - screenplays.
Chris’s email said he is stepping down in order to focus on being a full-time writer. Having made that same decision about my own job a while back, I totally understand how difficult and yet exciting that was for him. And although I will miss his pep talk emails and the energy he provided even via cyberspace, I wish him the best of luck, flowing words, and much happiness!
Do you think it will be the same without Chris? How have the programs he started impacted your writing?
Babblings of a Boob Tube Junkie
I’m a writer and filmmaker exploring the magic of stories. I’ve always loved to read and watch television and movies, and now I'm creating my own stories via YA novels, short stories, screenplays, and even short films. I’m also an animal lover with a menagerie of pets; and, yes, I’m one of those people who puts party hats on their dogs and makes them “cakes” for their birthdays.
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My Short Films
If a cat predicted your death, how would it change your life?
A greedy party girl is so determined to get what she wants that she employs the dangerous magic of a Gullah root doctor.
Blogging from A to Z Challenge