August 31, 2011

Fictionista Workshopping!

Last season (Spring) I participated in a Fictionista Workshop for Alicia Golden's Coven of the Willow. It was great. We had a good group, ideas flew, we suggested some big changes to the story and Alicia was keen on most of them.

This fall, I'm on the block! The Girl Who Haunts Me (and please participants give me a better title than that!) is going to be read and critiqued by five other writers/readers, edited, fact checked, characters and voice examined... pretty much the works. I can't wait. I'm a glutton for critique pain. I love having someone tell me exactly what is wrong with what I've written, giving me ideas how to make it better. Often I won't take the exact suggestions, but it will spark and even BETTER idea from me.

Tonight, I have a Skype call with the other Authors who are putting their books on the table and next week I have the first conference call with my group. Did I mention I can't wait?

I was warned that my group might jump up and down on Bekah, my black, buxom, attitude to the max, somewhat racist alternate love interest. There are so many parts of this story that I'm willing to kill, but she might be my darling. She is such an interesting character who adds so much to the dynamic between the others. I really hope my group gives her a fair chance. She does get better!

Have you had a workshop or critique that was difficult? One that was amazing in the outcome? One that was a breeze? Share your workshopping stories.

August 19, 2011

Surrey International Writers' Conference

As of today, I have my hotel, flight and registration all paid for/lined up to attend the SIWC this October. I'm excited!! I went to Get Published's conference "the Edge" this spring and really enjoyed it. I made a couple of contacts, but not as many as I would have liked. As with everything in my writing career, I went in only half-prepared. I had a publisher for my first novel, and they had accepted my second, so I didn't sign up for any pitch sessions. Not bright. I still want an agent to help me with foreign rights and possibly break me into bigger circles.

I'm not making the same mistake this time. I have booked a pitch session with Kaylan Adair. I'm hoping she can point me in the right direction with The Girl Who Haunts Me. I'm also taking ten pages of that same manuscript to the blue pencil session with Robert Dugoni. Which ten pages will be determined after my first workshop session with Fictionista Workshop. Probably the first ten, but we'll see.

Finally, on Thursday they have the Master Classes. I'll get to meet Kathleen Oritz and Donald Maass! (not one-on-one, obviously, but I'm still excited!) I'm also taking the Beginners Intensive with KC Dyer, which I hope will leave me less confused and better armed going forward.

And that's just the beginning! The schedule looks amazing. I know I should leave some time for schmoozing, but I don't know how/where I'll manage that. I'm going to be the wallflower/wallpaper I'm sure. However, I'm usually pretty good at spotting other quiet folks like myself. At the last con, I found a couple and we tended to go together to things. That's where I got the few contacts I did. I might not meet an agent or editor that way, but I can find another critique partner or another person who can point me when I get lost (and vice versa). As Kristen Lamb reminds us, We Are Not Alone!

So, if you're going to Surrey, leave me a comment. Let's see if we're planning on hitting any of the same sessions. If you aren't, tell me about a con you went to and experiences good or bad. Help me get ready for this so I don't completely fall on face, okay? Thanks!

August 17, 2011

Middletown High School Library

My friend Haley Whitehall had a lovely blog post about libraries.

I love libraries. If you read my post Big Girl Panties, you know my goal isn't to make money, it's to be read. What better way (without being easily electronically ripped off) than donating a copy to the library?

In my comment on Haley's blog you can read about my misfortune with my own public library. Authors, be sure your book is going into circulation not a book drive!

Today I received a very interesting request via Goodreads. I'm going to paste some of it here:

My name is Lora Wiedenheft and I am asking you to read my letter through. I am a reviewer and the founder of a program called Read for your future.

The program works like this. I contact authors (such as your self) and publishers that I think will Donate a book in exchange for a review. I then get the book put it on a list and let the students at 2 different high schools choose the book. The student that chooses the book then reads the book and writes a review for the book. There are links on my website to lead them through the process. When they are finished with their review they then turn that book into to the librarian at their school. It then gets cataloged and at that point has a new home for years to come.

The students are excited about this program. They are building up their library. And they feel good about themselves knowing they have helped out their school.

Honestly, I didn't need more than that. I was in. I get two people in my target audience to read and review my book?! Yes please! And then their peers read the review and can sign the book out from the library?! Can I just jump up and down on this program with glee and ask why more schools aren't doing this?

Hmmm, maybe they are and I just haven't heard about it. I'm pretty sure none of the High Schools around here have a program like this.

Then Lora goes on to further sell her program by pointing out that the school is in an underprivileged area and hadn't received ANY new books for four years. Wow. These kids are probably desperate for some new reading material. Based on the reviews on their blog they have had quite the influx. More information on the program can also be found on the organization's website.

Now it just so happens that my employer is a philanthropist and purchased extra copies of my book to be donated to libraries. I'm not even out the cost of the book. Yes, Read For Your Future, you can have a copy of my book and I will be sending copies of my future YA books to you as well.

August 12, 2011

Review from my FanGirl

I have a fanfiction 'fangirl.' She loves all my stories (almost) and pimps me out for contests and the like. Her penname is Hyvanna. She sent me a hand written review for Cargon that I thought I'd share. note: I've correct some misspelling/grammar

Hey Kimmy,

Jeez, I haven't wrote a letter since I was in school. I fill out paperwork all the time but don't sit down and write-write.

Got your Asprin and eyedrops ready? Good, use them now.

I really enjoyed reading Cargon. I like that it was set in the distant future, so far ahead that after whatever disaster happened even wordsk for things were lost and it was like Renaissance times. So it felt like a true treat to my inner geek, nerd, whatever we that love Sci-fi and Dungeons and Dragons are called.

To name the main characters Adam and Eve and say Eve will change the world, that was a neat little tidbit. It will be Eve eating from the tree of knowledge first this time, kicking them into the unknown, ready to be reshaped. I love it.

Best part was Louis was trying to get to Eve so he could use her for her mind. That felt like a stealthy twist on how women hate that a man never wants her for her mind, only her body.

In a morbid way, I liked Louis' advancement on Eve, mainly because I love the triangle.

So many tidbits I enjoyed, from his mom knowing and seeing more in Eve to torturing Adam, or well, embarrassing him. Her schooling and testing was fun.

Okay, now I will admit I thought the challenge between Jasper and Louis was a setup. I thought he planned it so Jasper would lose on purpose and Louis would not want to play someone under his station unless he had to.

I did like Jasper, though I feared he would fall in love with Eve, not meaning to, and get his heart hurt again. It almost felt as though he were playing for a different reason, like he planned on getting the other woman he loves back but used this challenge as another, so to say, practice run, knowing Adam would challenge him to win Eve back.

TWO THUMS -N- BIG TOES UP!!! hehe, she put that in a lot of her fanfiction reviews, too. It's neat to see it all written out!

I am looking forward to the sequel in hopes of seeing her take on the things left from the past, like the skeleton buildings that grow tall and anything she see in her new life she's riding off into.

I like post-apocalyptic stuff like:
Fallout --- very good game!!!
The Book of Eli --- very good movie!!!
Water World
Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome

Hopefully you could read a least a little of this letter. pshaw, it wasn't THAT bad!! Oh and I do like your idea about the ghost. I hope you can pitch that idea to a publisher, too.

Have fun -n- Keep writing!!!
You are a very good storyteller!!!

Lots of Luck
Your FanGirl

So, yeah, that was her review (with only a few insertions from me). Big hugs to Hyvanna.

August 11, 2011

Home... Sweet Home.

It feels like I've been away for weeks.

Wait, I have been away for weeks.

With the exception of a four day stretch at the end of July and Sunday night, I haven't slept in my own bed for almost a month. No wonder I feel out of sorts! No wonder I can't seem to get much of anything written! No wonder I can't do any editing!

Thankfully, none of those are true. I wrote a conclusion to a piece that will never be published under this name (but the adults out there looking for something spicy... this one's for you!). I wrote most of a chapter for the sequel of Cargon and I did edits to the former piece. Oh, wait, one of those is true. I do feel out of sorts. I feel like I'm juggling right now. I have a hundred little things floating around to do or be worked on. Now that I'm back at home, I'm going to catch some of those and put them down. Things like my second signing at West Edmonton Mall - I want a poster for that. Like querying another agent. Like entering these fanfiction pieces I have written for The Canon Tour and Smut University. Like writing up a query for this adult piece if I think I'm going to publish it (I hear you, Deadra!). Like doing some plotting for my NaNoWriMo piece so I'm ready to hit that in November. Like delivering 5 copies to Greenwoods to replace the ones I took for my signing in Medicine Hat. There are more, of course.

Well I'm home now. The house has looked better. I have a ton of laundry and my garden needs watering. But it is sweet. It is MY home, MY family, MY bed. sigh

Brief, I know. Hopefully I'll be back to my usual speed soon.

Of course I am spending another night out of town next week... damn.

August 6, 2011

Elevator Pitch

I had my first signing today. It didn't go quite as well as I'd hoped, but it went very well! I'm not disappointed to be sure. I thought I'd sell out, and technically, I did, but my mother is willing to wait three weeks for me to bring more copies home. Instead, five will sit on the shelf for everyone who missed me.

My daughter helped by handing out bookmarks and I definitely made more connections after that. It's a lot harder to say no to the grinning four year-old than the thirty-something author.

The biggest thing I learned: I need to nail my elevator pitch. The back blurb is good, and in writing "a servant becomes something more by playing a game" looks bleh. It sounds not bad, though. I tried a few variations: A serving-girl becomes a noble by playing a game.
"What's a noble?"
Oh... you probably aren't my target audience, even though you are the right age. My husband weeps for our youth.

If someone read the back I could elaborate. "It's set in a future earth, where technology has failed and people are rediscovering science." That raised eyebrows and got attention. However, Post-apocalyptic renaissance doesn't always resonate with people. (As above, big words can be intimidating.)

Before my next signing, I'm working on my elevator pitch. Anyone want to help?

August 3, 2011

Getting 'Girl Who Haunts Me' Through the Door

Got an email from Gabriela Lessa about her contest with Sourcebooks. To enter, I need the first paragraph of my manuscript. I also need it to be at its best. So I'm soliciting help! Here's the first paragraph. Help me improve it?

I woke in my own bed, but not in my room. Blinking a few times, I remembered why – I'd only slept in this room one night and it wasn't familiar yet. My alarm was still going off, but it wasn't right above my head, where it used to be. Stretching, I slapped the snooze finally, pulling the pillow over my head for a moment. New house. New city. New school. Well, nothing for it but to face it.

Two paragraphs later he sees a girl reflected in his mirror and the driving force/antagonist is introduced.

Pitch: Unknowing, Jared has been haunted by the ghost of his preschool friend for years, but when his family moves from her hometown, her presence becomes undeniable.

OR: After moving to a new city, Jared is haunted by the ghost of his adopted parents’ daughter, who has lived quietly through him for years.

(Changed 11am MDT - I had flipped this pitch and for some reason blogger didn't save it.)

Feel free to offer suggestions on the pitch as well. Thanks for your readership and any help you can provide.

If you'd like a more detailed synopsis, here's one I wrote for Fictionista Workshop:

Starting his first day in a new school and a new country, Jared expects to have a bumpy ride. He doesn't expect doors slamming, lights turning on and off, or a creepy girl with glasses staring at him all the time. He's also startled by the odd reflection of a girl in his bedroom mirror. Although he once believed in ghosts, most strongly in the years following his parents' deaths, he put such fantasies aside after nearly being held back a grade. He starts questioning their existence again. He isn't ready to believe in all ghost stories, but he is starting to accept that the odd things happening around him might be the result of a specific ghost -- Kimmy, the daughter of his adopted parents. She died in the same car crash as Jared's parents, and he had forgotten his preschool friend entirely.

Despite the poltergeist's intrusions into his social sphere, Jared manages to make friends and earn a place on the football team. He also meets an odd pair, Shy and Bekah, who are somewhat isolated as visible minorities. Jared slowly breaks the shell around Bekah, a black girl who feels ostracized in a school full of white kids. He also wins the interest of the head cheerleader, Emily. Known as a matchmaker for the team, Emily doesn't try to pair Jared up with any of the other girls, but makes his mouth dry and palms sweaty as she tries to get to know him. Meredith, the strange girl that is always staring at him, adds to the list of girls surrounding him and making him the envy of his football teammates.

It is Meredith who finally identifies the ghost haunting Jared. She has been able to see and hear ghosts since the death of her own mother and sister. Never finding their spirits, she is instead visited by many others. Kimmy, the ghost haunting Jared, is thrilled to be noticed and acknowledged. Understanding how Kimmy died, Meredith is able to posit why she has remained hidden until now. So young when she passed, Kimmy assumed the young boy sleeping in her bed and loved by her parents, was herself. Puberty had its hand in her realizing that she was not Jared, but the move from the home she had always lived in snaps the thread holding her seamlessly as a part of Jared. Free for the first time, she becomes frustrated and angry, jealous of the people around Jared and longing for a life of her own. Her friendship with Meredith helps, but it isn't until the Day of the Dead, when she is unable to leave her grieving mother, that Kimmy truly sheds Jared to be an entity unto herself.

After so long a part of Jared, Kimmy tries to possess his friends as she once shared his body and life. Her intrusions do not all go unnoticed, and in the end, Jared must find a way to give his old friend peace or continue to be haunted by her ghost. A special kiss, with the trappings of magic about it, finally allow Kimmy to share the body of Emily, Jared's girlfriend, and thereby share his life in a new way.