Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Corn Dogs and Coffee and Writing Update

I had a corn dog and three cups of coffee for breakfast today. I am such a grownup.

Writing update!

I'm still querying Untouched. Right now I have 3 partials, 1 full, and about 10 queries awaiting responses. I don't think I'll send out anymore queries for a while. If the ones already sent out receive negative responses then I will probably just pull Untouched from submissions. I'll put it aside for a while and then tackle it later to see what sort of revisions/rewriting it needs to get picked up.

The Temper is completely outlined. I wrote a very detailed synopsis-esque draft of about 7K words, then I wrote the first 1K words. Then, honestly, I think I got a little bored of it. It's a really fun story, but alas-- there's a fatal flaw to my obsessive outlining. There are no surprises. Sigh. I will go back to Temper eventually, it's a solid story. But the detached 3rd person makes it harder for me to get into it. I never realized how much I like to write in 1st person until I tried to write in 3rd.

I am working on another project! If you follow me on Twitter you've seen that I've been tearing through this first draft. I started writing on the 24th and got in 1K. On the 26th I wrote about 3K. And yesterday I wrote another 3K. I'm putting myself through what I call NaNoWriMo boot camp. I'm trying to write at least 1K/day (back to my old goal) in preparation for the 1.7K/day NaNo goal.

Needless to say, it's going well! This is a story idea I had a while back about a magic dystopia. It's fun! It's also something new for me: I'm writing in present tense. I used to hate present tense. It just bugged me. And then I read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire and I started working on this project and now... well, I totally love first person present tense.

And I think I've narrowed down my choices for my NaNo WiP. See, Sarah and I are going to make the pirate-fantasy genre the next big thing. Forget vamps. Swashbuckling is way cooler than blood sucking.

I still need to do some serious outlining, but it's basically a pirate-y version of Bonnie and Clyde. Except Pirate-Clyde betrays Pirate-Bonnie and sets her up to take the fall for their crimes. Pirate-Bonnie escapes (barely) and disguises herself to join a rival pirate crew in her quest for vengeance. But it would be a whole lot easier if there wasn't a million dollar bounty on her head. And if the leader of the rival pirate crew wasn't so frustratingly attractive. Sigh. Swashbuckling romance on the high seas... does it get any better?

Anyhoo, that's what I've been working on lately.

What writing project are you currently working on or planning to work on soon?


...A scary idea just popped into my head: vampire pirates. I'm not even going to elaborate, I'll just let your imaginations go to work.

(No, I'm not going to write about vampire pirates.)

(UPDATE: Wow, Beth! I thought I was being ridiculous!)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Getting Ready

I just signed up for NaNoWriMo this year!

For those of you who don't know what NaNoWriMo is, November is National Novel Writing Month, and the goal is to write 50K words in 30 days. Math wise that works out to about 1667 words per day. Productive! Learn more, sign up, etc. here.

This is my first year attempting NaNo, and I'm not sure I'll win, but I'm going to really try. I've already warned my boyfriend that I'm going to spend November strung out on caffeine and glued to my computer. He shrugged and said he didn't think he'd notice a difference. I'm not sure what I want to write yet (y'all know I have plenty of ideas) so I'll probably end up with one of many projects I have outlined but not yet started. The possibilities are endless!

My user name on NaNoWriMo.org is kat-tastic, so if you've signed up feel free to contact me over there! We can brave the quest together!

Questions for you!
Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo?
Are you going to this year?
Do you have any idea what you're going to write?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Untouched Scrap

Just something I was tooling around with, narrative writing in Gwen's voice. I felt the need to post, I've been rather quiet lately. :)

* * * * * * * * *

When I was human I dreamed of falling in love.

When I was human I dreamed of a lot of things.

Dead girls don't get second chances.

Or so I thought.

The line keeps blurring between dead and alive, human and not. I don't feel dead, but at the same time I know I am not human. The constant pulling, wrenching, tugging at my soul reminds me of that.

I am just a girl, yet so much more.

I am an angel of death.
A reaper of souls.
Obligated. Bound. Immortal.

They gave me the choice: peace of death or this tortured life.

I chose James.
I chose love.

And now I live my tortured life, with my tortured soul, and a boy whose skin tests my will.

Dead girls don't get second chances.

But I never had a chance to begin with.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


So lately I've been wondering what happens next. I have one partial and two fulls out with agents right now, but that's the furthest I've gone in this publishing industry so far. It wasn't until very recently (this morning) that I actually started to think: hey, someone might actually want to rep my book. That's pretty cool.

Then I freaked out. Because what if I received The Call and I wasn't prepared? What if I came off as a bumbling clueless idiot-author on the phone because I didn't know what questions to ask?

So I spent the afternoon researching.

Questions to ask a literary agent before accepting representation:
(Compiled from lists on agent Kristin Nelson's blog Pub Rants and agent Rachelle Gardner's blog Rants and Ramblings)


What are the terms of the representation being offered? Is there a time limit? Is it for one book, or is it open ended?

If we agree to work together, what will happen next? What's the expected process?

Do you use a written author-agent agreement?

What happens if either one of us wants to end the relationship?

If the agent/client relationship is terminated, what is the policy for any unsold rights in the works the agent has represented?

Do you handle film rights, foreign rights, audio rights? Or do you have a co-agent that handles these?

Do you work with a publicist? How involved in marketing will you be with this project?


How do you keep clients informed about your activities on client’s behalf?

Do you prefer phone or email, or are they both okay?

How often do you want the client to check in?

What are your typical business hours?

Do you let me know where and when you submit my work?

Do you forward rejection letters to the me?

What happens when you are sick or on vacation?

Do you consult with clients on all offers from publishers? Do you make any decisions on behalf of client?


What is your percentage?

Do I receive payments directly from the publisher, or do payments go through you first?

How long after you receive advances and royalties will you send them to me?

Do you charge any fees for mailing, copies, faxes, phone calls or anything else?


What do you think are the strengths/challenges in regards to this project?

How close is my book to being ready for submission? Will there be a lot of editing and rewriting first?

How involved are you in the editing process, and how long does it take you to edit a project?

When will you start submitting to publishers? When will you stop submitting? How aggressively will you submit?

Do you have any publishers/editors in mind that you think would be appropriate for my book?


How do you prefer to handle future projects? Should I run ideas by you first or can I simply write?

Do you help with career planning? What kind of career guidance do you offer?

How do you feel about authors switching genres?

What if you don't like my next book and you don't want to handle it? What happens then?

* * * * * * * * * *

As we all know (because we are very smart, well researched aspiring authors, right?) you should always research the agent before accepting any offers. I left out some questions relating to how many years the agent has been in business and what the agent's recent sales were, because the answers to those questions are very easy to find online. AgentQuery, Publishers Marketplace, Querytracker.net, the agency website (if they have one) are all great places to check out when searching for agent info.

It is also recommended that you ask the agent for the phone number/contact info on some of their clients. Give one of their clients a call, ask about how they like working with the agent, the agent's strengths/weaknesses, etc.

And since we are professional and polite aspiring authors, we all know that you shouldn't squeal into the phone and shout "YES YES YES I ACCEPT". You want to let the agent know that you will consider their offer, and then you immediately alert any other agents with your work that you have received an offer of rep, and could they please review your work and let you know their decision within a week or so.

Then you do a happy dance.

Have a good evening!


Monday, September 14, 2009

Sharing is Caring

First off, I'm really hyped up right now, and my Starbucks double shot energy drink is only partially responsible. I've been sending off my queries in batches, about 10 at a time, spaced about 3 weeks apart. And yes, I still have pending queries from round 1 & 2. About 20 total, but they're only at 4 weeks, and most agents say 4-8 weeks, so I'm not stressing.

So I sent off Round 3 Friday evening, and yesterday I received a request for a full! Woo hoo, of course I was super excited, especially because I had included sample pages with the query, so the agent saw my opening pages and LIKED THEM AND WANTED MORE.

I opened my mail today and I had another request. Also for a full. Also from a query which included the first five pages. Needless to say, I'm very excited right now. I'm going to (1) finish this post, (2) do a quick read-through, then I'm (3) sending 'em off! Then I'll (4) promptly freak out. But it's very important I do these steps in that particular order. Very important.

Moving on, today's topic: Sharing your work. How much do you share? Do you post full chapters on your blog? Do you put your entire story up for critique on a public critique group like Critique Circle? Or are you all about keeping your work private? You don't speak of the plot at all, you don't post excerpts, heck you don't even share the title or character names because you fear someone else might snatch them up.

Me? I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I'll gladly tell you my title (UNTOUCHED) because I love it. I'll tell you my character names, the basic plot, and I'll post excerpts (not a lot, and nothing too spoiler-y, but cruise through my blog posts and you'll come across quite a few excerpts.)

See, I'm a big believer in the uniqueness of individuals and that everyone has a unique perception. I've posted my query on here before, and I've posted query/pitches for projects that I've barely started. But no, I'm not so worried about someone stealing my idea. Because so many aspects of it are uniquely mine, that no one else would ever come up with. And I keep those private.

I actually have a theory, but I don't think it would ever be tested because it would involve a lot of work. But I believe that two people could take the exact same query and write two completely totally different novels based off said somewhat-specific query.

Last week I posted a query/pitch of my latest idea The Temper. But I'm not worried about someone stealing my plot or my idea, because I left out all the funniest, best, cutest parts. I left out all the unique little twists. I left out all the parts that make it mine.

Those are the parts that I will not share. Generialities? Sure, I'll give you generalities up the wazoo. But not the specifics. The specifics are where the magic is. And the magic is all mine. :)

* * * * * * * * * *

Questions for you!

How much do you share?

Do you ever worry about people stealing your ideas/title/names/plot?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Temper Teaser Time

My latest WiP is coming along pretty well. It took me two days to write the 7K word skeleton synopsis. (Okay, two days with like eight in between. When I write, I write.)

So each chapter has about a 500 word synopsis already written out, and the plan was to write whatever scenes called to me and plug them into the appropriate place. I could write a scene from chapter 3 one day, then the next day write a scene from chapter 12. Whatever my random little heart desired.

Today I started writing-- actually writing, not just loose, ill-written synopsis-ing.

Naturally, I started at the very beginning.

Ha ha ha, guess the chronological writer in me wins this round. I'm still very happy with what I've done. The entire story is mapped out beautifully, and, though I probably will write chronologically for the most part, if I ever get stuck I will be able to skip a scene or a chapter then come back to it.

Guess it's more of my obsessive need to plot and plan and outline that drove me to do this, rather than my desire to write randomly. I am really obsessive about plotting and outlining. I don't know how you jump-right-in writers do it!

Anyhoo, I thought I'd post the opening pages I wrote today.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Temper

Connor Thomas had a sinking feeling in his stomach that confirmed his worries. He knew the sidekick audition was a bad idea, but still he sat, in the waiting room of Hero Headquarters Inc., patiently waiting for his name to be called. He pulled the lavender sheet of paper from his pocket and unfolded it, smoothing it out with both hands. The poster was heavily wrinkled, soft and faded from being read and re-read.

At the top of the page there was a photo of legendary superhero Captain Power, pointing with one arm and flexing with the other. Below, in large black letters, it read:

...To be my new sidekick!
Hero Headquarters will be holding auditions to find Captain Power a new sidekick.
Have an ability? Want to save the world?
Come by the office this Friday and show us what you've got!

Connor read the words for the hundredth time then crumbled the paper and shoved it back into his pocket with a sigh. This was by far the worst idea he'd ever had. Not that he could take full credit for what was sure to be a humiliating experience. His brother, Sinker, had really been the one who pushed him into it.

“We're broke,” Sinker had declared over dinner earlier that week.

Connor shoved a bread roll into his mouth and shrugged one shoulder. “So?” He chewed and swallowed, then continued, “We'll cut back on some things-- like cable.”

“I already canceled the cable and sold the TV last week. It's still not enough.”

Connor twisted around and saw that the TV was indeed missing from the stand in the living room. “Oh.” It was all he could think of to say. Sinker loved television, if he'd sold their TV it could only mean that things were really getting bad.

Sinker shook his head. “I'm not making enough money at Hero's.” Sinker was the assistant manager at Hero's Supply Shack, a little store in the center of town. “We're running out of money fast, little bro. It's only a matter of time before we lose the apartment.”

“Well, what can I do? I'm mowing lawns every weekend but grass only grows so fast.”

“You could get a different job.”

Connor sighed. “Where? I won't be sixteen for months, no one will hire me.”

It was then that Sinker pulled the audition poster from inside his jacket. “There's no age requirement to be a sidekick.” He pushed the paper across the table toward Connor.

Connor took one look at the poster and the smiling, flexing picture of Captain Power. “No way. I'll get a real job when I turn sixteen.”

“We won't make it until then. Sidekicks are paid really well in this town, you know, and they get all sorts of benefits. Abilities that are actually useful are rare. You could do this.”

Connor groaned. “You have an ability, why don't you do it?”

“You know why. Besides, my ability is hardly useful. Just go to the audition. Try. If you don't get it, we'll figure something out. But you can at least try.”

“This is a horrible idea,” Connor replied, but he'd picked up the poster and put it in his pocket.

And now, in the lobby of Hero Headquarters, Connor was more certain than ever that he was making a huge mistake. Especially when he looked at the competition.

He tried not to stare at the other auditioning sidekicks, but it was difficult-- they were an odd group. The girl sitting across from him was chewing her fingernails down to the bone then regrowing them back, only to begin all over again. And the man in the far corner had stretched his neck out long like elastic so he could read a poster on the other side of the room. Then there was the little boy sitting by the door, whose tongue shot two feet into the air to catch a fly that had somehow found its way into the building.

Connor sighed, he was clearly surrounded by freaks. Not that he wasn't a freak, but at least he hid it much better than the others.

At that moment, the door swung open, and the receptionist stepped into the room. Glancing at her clipboard, she lifted her head and looked around the room with a huge, fake smile. “Mr. Connor Thomas, we are ready for you now.”

* * * * * * * * * *

Questions for you:

Are you a chronological writer, or a jump-right-in writer?

How much (or how little) do you plan before writing? Do you know what happens in the end, or do you not even know what happens in chapter two?

Peace and Reese's Pieces,

(P.S. Wanna win a copy of Catching Fire? Check out the contest!)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Log Lines

Heya blogger friends!

Y'all know what a log line is? A log line is a brief summary, often providing both a synopsis of plot, and an emotional "hook" to stimulate interest. Technically a log line is used for television programs and movies, but it can also apply to novels. It's that one sentence pitch that we try to whittle our entire 80K novel down to.

Condensing your story into a single sentence can really help you wrap your head around your novel, and it gives you the building block to writing a cohesive query that gets to the point. A log line usually states:

Who the protagonist is
Who/what the antagonist/antagonistic force is
The basic conflict
What is at stake

The log line for my novel Untouched is:

A dying girl, coerced into acting as grim reaper for a second chance at life, falls in love with the boy she was sent to kill.

Protagonist: a dying girl
Antagonistic force: death
Basic conflict: forbidden love (she's so not supposed to fall in love with this boy!)
What is at stake: life and love

I'm definitely an outliner, I plan my novel from beginning to end before I start (or at least before I get very far in). And figuring out the log line is one of the first steps I take. Since my muse never shuts up with the ideas, I have tons of story ideas, and some are no more than log lines.

Kai Of Chaos
With the help of a half-mad semi-psychic girl, a boy possessed by a demon of chaos embarks on an adventure to rid the monster from his body.

Emo Girl
A girl with empathic powers starts feeling murders and cannot rest until the killer is caught.

A moral bounty hunter who refuses to kill becomes the bounty and must prove his innocence as he flees from pursuers who have no such scruples.

* * * * * * * * * *

Questions for you:

What's the log line for your current WiP?

Do you find it easy or hard to summarize your novel in just one sentence?

Can you come up with a log line for a well known movie/book?


A girl falls in love with a "vegetarian" vampire who finds her blood especially appealing.

Wizard Of Oz
Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman she meets, then teams up with three complete strangers to kill again. (Attributed to Richard Polito of the Marin Independent Journal, who writes humorously sarcastic briefs for the paper's daily TV listings)

* * * * * * * * * *

Check out edittorrent for more info on log lines and some great examples.