Sunday, November 29, 2009

Krista’s Back to School/Bear Facts Survey Part Deux

Yes, the hour is upon me and all of you out there who have school aged children or teens. It’s back to school after the wonderful Thanksgiving Break. Some systems give Wednesday through Friday off. I’m blessed to have had the entire glorious week off. But just as it always does, it went by like a wispy puff of smoke. Sigh. So here’s a few more Q & A from the students of my school or The Bear Facts Survey Part Deux!!

Question #1: How much does the cover of a book influence your decision to read?

“I don’t care about the cover. It’s more about the title that influences me.”

“Not that much. It makes me pick it up and read the back cover to see what the book is about.”

“It influences me a little. A flashy cover does attract, but it’s what it is about that matters.”

“It influences me a lot. I don’t pick it up to see if I like it unless it looks good.

Question #2 What point of view do you like to read the best?

“I like first person better. I like it because I enjoy reading the book from the character’s point of view. “

“I like third person mostly because I like an overview of the matter.”

“I mostly like third person because you get an outside outlook of what’s happening and different views of the plot/problem.

Question #3: Do you read books just because they are “hyped”?

“I read books that are interesting to me, not because of the hype.”

“Whenever I decide to read a book, my decision is more based on the first sentences. If it drives me to read more or if it is a downer.

“Most of the time I read books because I hear that they are good from other people

“I read books that are interesting to me, not because of the hype.”

“Whenever I decide to read a book, my decision is more based on the first sentences. If it drives me to read more or if it is a downer.

Question 4 and one that has stumped parents and educators for generations…Why do you not like to read?

“I can never find a book I can get into. I like books that start off good and there aren’t many books like that. I would be more motivated if I could get something out a book, like a life lesson.”

“I don’t like to read because you are just sitting there and reading. It would be more fun being active.”

“Reading makes me tired and I’d rather be doing something outside and it would be better if there were more outside books.”

I don’t like reading because it’s not usually something I think of when I’m bored, but when I get caught up in a book, I can’t put it down.”

“It’s boring because you have to sit there, and reading gives me a headache.

Original post published on Old People Writing for Teens by GotYA contributor Krista Ashe. Original post and reader comments can be viewed here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Finding Faith

In February, I, Sarah, will be attending my first writers conference.
I should be stoked. I’m putting a lot of faith in this event, hoping that the people I meet during Presidents Day Weekend will change my life and writing forever. I even signed up for Agent Speed Dating, where I will be able to pitch my novel face to face with star agents—and let me please emphasize the star part. I’m talking Nathan Bransford, Andrea Brown, and Laurie McLean. For anyone who has ever queried a young adult novel, you know EXACTLY who I am talking about.

I should be excited, but in truth, I am shaking in my boots, nearly having anxiety attacks every time I even think about pitching my book, or even registering, for crying out loud. I can’t do this—mingling through a crowd of agents, editors, and experienced writers and pretend to have confidence—pretend to know exactly what I am doing.

But I have to. I know way too many people who would kill for this opportunity, and I can’t screw it up just because I am nervous.

My question is this: Has anyone ever thought about what would happen if you were riding an elevator in a hotel, the doors open, and your dream agent steps in? Would you confront them and give them a twenty-five word pitch of your book? Do you even HAVE a twenty-five word pitch? Or would you do what I would do, which is probably chicken out and do nothing more than give them an incredibly nervous smile? Geez, even the thought of running into an agent in a conference elevator makes me break out in hives.

I think one of the main things that we aspiring authors don’t even think about his how important confidence in ourselves and in our work is. We become so star struck in every person that may make our dream career actually happen that we forget to have the utmost confidence in our product: “My concept is original, my plot is flawless, my writing is perfected, and my style is one-of-a-kind.” If we cannot go into a conference truly believing these thoughts, even query without believing this, agents and editors are going to have as much faith in us as we seem to have in ourselves.
So, ladies and gentlemen, this is my focus. I cannot walk into Agent Speed Dating all nervous and star struck. I have to hold my head up, truly believing that these people will benefit from me if they agree to sign me.

So, how is your writing confidence? Do you think of the agents you query as business celebrities, or possible business partners?

How do you find faith in yourself?

Original post published on Old People Writing for Teens by GotYA contributor Sarah Harian. To view the original post and reader comments, please click here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Writer Lingo

A lot of people have no idea what the abbreviations that writers use actually mean. I’ll catch you up to speed with the ones I’m familiar with.

MC = Main Character

WIP = Work in Progress

SNI = Shiny New Idea

Synop = Synopsis

R = Rejection

That’s all that immediately jump out at me. There are a few other abbreviations we use on the AW Boards, such as:

IMO = In My Opinion

JMO = Just My Opinion

HTH = Hope This Helps

FWIW = For What It’s Worth

Add anymore you can think of! My brain is fried lately…

Original post published on Old People Writing for Teens by former OPWFT contributor Becca. To view the original post and reader comments, please click here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Call…a look at how I got my agent!!

October 17, 2009–a seemingly ordinary Saturday night out with the girls. Elation hung heavy in the air since one of my buddies since elementary school had announced she was pregnant. I had just ever so covertly glanced at my Blackberry—the kind of glance you do so you don’t look rude by checking your email every five minutes. There was a reply from an agent with one of my novels. Not expecting anything, I clicked on it. And there it was….”I’m really loving this story. Can we talk sometime next week?”

I squealed…like extremely loud. Then the table broke into celebration once again. It was also a very bittersweet celebration since that day would have been my mother’s 60th birthday. But what I couldn’t imagine is how that was just the beginning. Offer Two came in on Wednesday and then Offer Three came in on Friday. Sigh….decisions, decisions…EEK! It really came down to a second phone call with Agent Two followed by an overwhelming feeling of peace. Those of you who know me, know that I’m a very spiritual person. I’d spent Sunday praying for God to lead me in the right direction. And I firmly believe he has by having me sign with Fonda Snyder of Creative Management.

So, not only was the “call(s)” insane, but the journey to get to this moment has been as well! Okay, I underestimate it. It’s been an INSANE rollercoaster of emotions—and trust me, I don’t do roller coasters because I’m afraid of heights!

Here’s a brief synopsis, oh lord, the “s” word, of my journey to finding an agent. Last November, my idea for my YA UF, The Guardians, hit me like a ton of bricks. I mean, I couldn’t sleep at night because characters were talking to me. I completed it in early January. Then I began querying it at the end of the month. This would be an example of when ignorance is NOT bliss. I had a couple of teacher buddies and one student read it—not exactly the most objective beta readers! What followed was rejection, rejection, rejection, and then reflection, reflection, reflection about my story including have a freelance editor give me feedback. But then the Calvary truly rode in when I hooked up with some awesome beta readers include the fabulous Kody Keplinger and Hannah Wydey. They really helped me whip the Guardians in to shape. In May, I had two close calls, one with a Christian agent and then another when an agent with a track record that wasn’t the best.

But alas, it wasn’t TG that landed me an agent. Nope, it was a very strange little idea that came to me after I lost my first student last year. Cooper wasn’t a player or a manwhore—no, instead he was just a good ol’ country boy whose pacemaker malfunctioned while he was playing in a basketball game, causing him to collapse and die on an old gym floor. Cooper’s death ignited long dormant memories of two high school buddies I loved, Travis, who would have been the next Adam Sandler, and David. And then the idea came to explore how males handled grief.

So, as soon as school was out, I started Don’t Hate the Player…Hate the Game. It was a whole new world considering it was narrated by a seventeen year old male. I say it was a whole new world when in fact, it isn’t my first time of narrating as a guy. In the original Guardians, both Elijah and Rafe narrated. But in truth, there really is nothing like Noah. A true smartass dealing not only with the death of his best friend, Jake, by blowing up on a tractor, but also with his mother’s impending marriage, a new baby sibling, and reconnecting with his absent ball playing father. Oh and falling in love, rather than lust, for the first time in his life.

And that my dear writing friends, is a somewhat long winded version of “my call” and my journey to get here. I thank all of you for your help, support, and encouragement along the way! All you gals of OPWFT, especially Stephanie, Becca, Jamie, and Annie, I couldn’t have done it without you. Hannah and Kody, you rock too, gals!!

*Okay, I’ll say my Oscar worthy acceptance speech of thank you’s for when/if my book sells!!!

Original post published on Old People Writing for Teens by GotYA contributor Krista Ashe. To view the original post and reader comments, please click here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Can the upcoming Hunger Games movie prove Kathleen wrong?

“There’s a way out of this game. Kill yourselves together, here, now. If you can’t do that, then don’t trust anyone… just run.” – Battle Royale

I first saw Battle Royale six years ago. I was sitting on the floor, surrounded by friends, in the middle of a full out anime binge. When we tired of secret identities, high school angst, and boys who tried to order pizza and ended up calling goddess hotlines, my friend Jen held up a plain black case and said we should watch BR.

For the next hour and fifteen minutes we sat back as an ordinary ninth grade Japanese class was stranded on a deserted island, each given a weapon, and told that the only way out was to be the last survivor. Some banded together, others turned on each other within the first five minutes. One of the taglines for Battle Royale is “Would you kill your best friend?” and we watched as character after character faced that choice.

“What did you think?” asked Jen when the credits rolled.

“It will never get US distribution,” I replied. Battle Royale was an interesting and thought provoking movie, but it was violent in the extreme. I couldn’t see American audiences being comfortable watching a movie where teenagers were forced to kill each other with guns, machetes, and switch blades until only one was left standing. Especially not after Columbine.

What a difference six years makes.

In 2008 The Hunger Games hit shelves. The book, in which a group of teenagers are selected to fight to the death in a televised free-for-all, was optioned for film by producer Nina Jacobson in March of 2009. Lionsgate picked up the distribution rights and IMDB lists the release year as 2011.

All of this has me deeply curious. I loved The Hunger Games (and Catching Fire) but I’m not sure how you would adapt it to film. The book is YA, so they’ll likely want a PG or PG-13 rating (Twilight, for comparison purposes, is rated PG-13). While Katniss doesn’t witness most of the deaths, a significant portion of the plot is devoted to teenagers being forced to kill other teenagers.

While The Hunger Games is not nearly as violent as Battle Royale (and has half the body count), it shares a similar premise–a premise that premise may prove problematic for older audiences when it’s taken off the page and put onto the screen.

As someone who enjoyed Battle Royale but never thought it would work this side of the pond, I’ll be watching the reaction and box office takings of The Hunger Games with curiosity.

Original post published on Old People Writing for Teens by GotYA contributor Kathleen. To view the original post and reader comments, please click here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Perception…Something To Think About…

A friend sent me this email the other day:


Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle-aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theatre in Boston where the seats averaged $100..

This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities. The questions raised: in a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?


I’ve been working with multiple points of view in my manuscript and this email made me take a step back and look deeper. It’s more than just who would tell the story the best at this point – for this plot element. It’s also HOW they would tell it. Maybe I want my character to be patient and reflect on his surroundings. It’s probably not best to put him in a subway on his way to work. He might just miss a free show by a fabulous musician.

The same is true for writers in general. Where do you write? What mood are you in? We’ve discussed listening to music as we write on OPWFT before. All of these things are factors in not only your perception of your characters and what they would do and say, but also the characters themselves. What are they faced with, and how do outside influences affect their decisions, or their word choice and facial expressions?

It’s not only where they’re going, but what’s going on around them, that makes them true to life.

Original post published on Old People Writing for Teens by GotYA contributor Jamie Blair. To view the original post and reader comments, please click here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

NaNo November…anyone pulling their hair out yet???

Balancing work, family, and my love or writing is proving to be a true test of my sanity this month. For those of you hibernating in a hermit hole and have no clue what I’m talking about, let me fill you in. I’m talking about National Novel Writing Month, a.k.a. NaNo, in which the goal is to spew out a fifty thousand word novel in thirty days. As a novice writer, I must say that task seems nearly impossible. But, I’m amazed to say on day eleven some of my writing buddies are already sitting at twenty thousand words. Can you say WOW?? If it wasn’t for the constant personal need to keep up with the pack, I’d probably still only be at fifteen hundred words on my SNI, but I’m happy to report I’m at just over seven thousand. How I managed to get my brain to produce that much material in less than two week, I have no idea.

Now, I know most of you are probably saying that isn’t that much, but in my defense, like most writers, I have a lot going on. Lately, I’ve averaged a six day work week with my current nursing position, have a hyperactive toddler that demands most of my free time, and of course the never ending household duties that go with being a wife and mother. Ugh. I know some of you feel my pain. So what I’ve ended up doing is setting aside one hour a day for my NaNo project, and so far it seems to be working, whether I’ll meet the fifty thousand word goal is still yet to be seen.

With that being said, I have a question for my fellow writers: Do you have a writing schedule??

Now, back to the grindstone. Good luck to all my fellow NaNo participants.

Happy Writing!

Original post published on Old People Writing for teens by GotYA contributor Annie McElfresh. To view the original post and reader comments, please click here.

NaNo Buddies and the Importance of Passion

I’m lucky. I have a best friend who loves writing just as much as I do. It’s wonderful to be able to bounce ideas off of one another while listening to music that inspires a scene, character, or relationship.

She really helped when I wrote a novel in a year, and even more so in a month.

A lot of us are participating in NaNoWriMo this month. If you’re like me, you start to panic when you get behind, staring at a blank Microsoft Word page and thinking “What the hell do I type next? I need a thousand more words before I complete my daily quota!”

Writing buddies are a powerful tool. A few nights ago I participated in a very miniature write in with my best friend from 2pm-4am, taking a midnight shopping break to buy goodies that would help us get through the next few hours. We had a word war, and I am proud to say I completed 1000 words in less than a half an hour, which, for poor little short attention span me, is very, VERY good.

Why is it so much easier to buckle down and write when you have another writer there? This applies even in a cyberspace sense, for those of you who have participated in the world wide webfamous Friday Night Writes. Is it the slight or large competitive side of us? Is it the companionship–the idea that a person close by is as crazy as you, trying to complete 10,000 words in a day? Is it the ability to bounce a fresh idea off of someone instead of keeping it bottled up inside?

I don’t know. Does the reason really matter? It’s NaNo time, ladies and gents. Word count is all that matters. Whether it’s a writing partner or five trips to Starbucks, find what gets you typing the fastest in your limited amount of free time this month.

Original post published on Old People Writing for Teens by GotYA contributor Sarah Harian. Original post and reader comments can be viewed here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Interview with author Cindy Pon

Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia, is a lush YA fantasy set in ancient China. Silver Phoenix explores the journey of heroine Ai Ling to escape an arranged marriage and find her missing father in the Palace of Fragrant Dreams. Along the way, Ai Ling encounters some very mysterious creatures, taps into magical abilities she didn’t know she possessed, and meets handsome stranger Chen Yong and his cheeky brother, Li Rong.

The much anticipated sequel to Silver Phoenix is due out in Fall, 2010! Below, author Cindy Pon was kind enough to answer a few questions about her books and writing in general.

1. Your debut novel, Silver Phoenix, has been out since April of this year. Were you surprised at how much critical acclaim it received, including your ALA starred review?

honestly, i was surprised. my personal motto is always expect nothing, be pleasantly surprised. i put out the best novel that i could with the help of my publisher–but you never know how it will be received. so it’s always a blessing to know that some critics enjoyed my debut. it’s even cooler when actual readers let you know how much they loved it as well. reading is such a *personal* experience.

2. Silver Phoenix is what many would call a traditional fantasy, following a hero’s (or in your case, heroine’s) journey. Is this the type of story you enjoy reading? What drew you to write this?

i love fantasy as a genre. and yes, traditional fantasy by authors such as tad williams and terry brooks were always a favorite. honestly, the idea of a straight heroine’s journey came to me as it was for ai ling. it seemed like something i *could* write for the first novel–as it was so familiar to me.

3. I know you’ve been working like crazy to finish up your sequel these past few weeks. Can you give us a sneak peek of what to expect? How is it different from Silver Phoenix?

it will be two storylines following ai ling and chen yong and the relationship between silver phoenix and zhong ye three centuries earlier within the palace of fragrant dreams. it’s definitely a more complicated set up than the straight heroine’s journey. in my mind, the sequel is the aftermath of what ai ling did and had to do in the debut. things don’t happen without consequences. and you get to find out about zhong ye and silver phoenix, it’s the prequel really, to my debut.
it’s different in that i think the story has turned much more *personal* in this second book.

4. I already know the denouement—the curse of many an author—is one of your favorite parts to write. Can you tell me which part of a novel is the hardest for you to write? Was there a specific scene in SP that stumped you for awhile?

oh. The Dreaded Middle for sure. 50k of words is pretty darned daunting. and i don’t do chapter outlines or even chapter when i rough draft. i just go. there weren’t specific scenes that stumped me, but i stopped writing for six months after ai ling goes to visit master tan with
chen yong and what happens to her subsequently. i was forty pages in the novel and then truly scared myself into immobility because i had no idea how to move forward. the idea of writing two hundred more pages
terrified me!

5. What would be your main words of advice to aspiring YA writers?

writers write. you may not sell your first novel, but know that you will improve with each novel that you do write. always challenge yourself with each new project. read widely–beyond the genre you are writing
and beyond your favorites.

6. What can’t you live without when you’re writing?

my laptop. classical music. a drink and good snacks / food! =)

7. Just for fun—because of your luscious descriptions of food, everyone says Silver Phoenix makes them hungry. How much of the food that you wrote about have you actually tasted?

some of the dishes are made up! but i’d say i’ve eaten at least 75% of what i listed. a personal favorite is beef tongue! i don’t eat pig ears, tho!

8. Finally, what’s in store for you next, writing-wise?

i do have a children’s picture book i need to work on with my editor featuring my chinese brush art. but i also have the inkling of a third novel–set also in xia, but not related to ai ling. it’s tickling the back of my mind, and i never acknowledge these puffs of story ideas. but from past experience, they do manifest into full novels in the end. =D

thanks so much for having me! i had a lot of fun with this

And thank you, Cindy, for taking the time to chat! Visit Cindy on her website, Paint and Prose or her blog. Her book is available online at amazon or at a major bookstore near you.

Original interview published on Old People Writing for Teens by GotYA contributor Debra Driza. To view the original post and reader comments, please click here.