Monday, March 31, 2014

Boot Camp Update!



It’s time for a YA Buccaneers Boot Camp Check In! Don’t know what that is.  Find out all about it HERE.

Last week’s goals…
1) Draft a new first chapter for the “baby.” 

2) Continue to brainspew SNI thoughts. 

3) Write a What’s Up Wednesday post.
I wrote a What’s Up Wednesday post. I brainspewed a lot of SNI first chapter thoughts into my handy dandy journal. I did not draft a new first chapter for the “baby.”
Two out of three ain’t bad, right?
Actually, I did start a new first chapter for my “baby,” but here’s the deal. My “baby” stars an eclectic bunch of fourteen year olds. I love the story and the writing’s not horrible, but in order to keep this thing YA, I definitely have to up the ages of my characters. And the more I wrote and toyed with that first chapter, the more I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do that. I mean, I kind of love it the way it is. I could go MG, but it’s not an MG story, IMHO. Without being any more vague and confusing, I’ve just decided that for the next month I’m going to tinker with it. If I decide to pursue a revision, I pursue one. But I think this paragraph pretty much shows that my heart’s not completely in that project right now.
It’s in another one. Two, actually. I keep tinkering with my current project THOSE MAGIC CHANGES, rereading and falling in love with it all over again, and the mind’s also veered toward the SNI (I talked a leetle bit about it HERE). With that being said, here are next week’s goals…

Goals for the week of March 31.
1) Write SOMETHING. I may continue to draft a new first chapter of the “baby” or I may draft a first chapter of the SNI. But I want to write something.
2) Continue researching agents.
3) Implement new reader feedback on my current story.
4) Continue to jot notes down for the “baby” and the SNI.
5) Participate in AT LEAST ONE TEAM DEFIANCE Twitter party.
6) Read DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT (Sarah Mylnowski) and a friend’s manuscript.
I’ll report back next Monday and let you know how I did! How was your writing and reading week?!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What's Up Wednesday/Boot Camp Update

Since I shared my NEXT BIG THING on Monday (and neglected to do my boot camp update L) and since I haven’t done a What’s Up Wednesday in forever (okay, last November, but still), multi-asking Alison’s doing two posts in one today! Aren’t you lucky? ;)


What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk are the hosts, and we'd love for you to join in the fun! Just hit up their blogs and sign up on the linky. J

WHAT I’M READING: One of my goals with the YA Buccaneers Boot Camp is to read 15 books over three months. Currently I’ve read 5 (all AMAZING) and am finishing up CHARM AND STRANGE (also AMAZING). I’ve just started a friend’s manuscript and it’s awesome! As far as reading goes, I’ve been on a real WIN streak lately. I hope it continues. 

WHAT I’M WRITING:

 
 I’m on Team Defiance for the YA Buccaneers Boot Camp and it’s been AWESOME for productivity. Since I joined up, I’ve written, rewritten (fifty plus times) and polished my query AND my synopsis for my current project THOSE MAGIC CHANGES, brainspewed dialogue, beats, and character descrips for my SNI, and jotted down ideas for and started rewriting/revising my “baby” (the first project I wrote). I met my goals for last week (you can see them HERE) and here are this week’s goals… 

1) Draft a new first chapter for the “baby.” 

2) Continue to brainspew SNI thoughts into new pink journal.  

Just FYI—new story’s POV will be from three males. When I came up with the idea back in 2010, I nicknamed it MEAN BOYS. So, I guess pink is fitting, right? Provided I only write in it on Wednesdays?

Currently the working title is NO JOKE. Which I’m really digging. And I’m beyond excited about this one. I don’t know if I’ll be able to wait until summer to start drafting. J 

3) Write a What’s Up Wednesday post. Oh, wait. I’ve already done that. J

I’ll update my YA Buccaneer Boot Camp progress next Monday on my blog.

WHAT INSPIRES ME: This little green guy. 

 
I think I mentioned before that my December and January were pretty rough on the writing front. My laptop crashed, I lost about two weeks worth of work, and then I received my last few rejections on my previous manuscript. The task of re-doing all my lost edits and finishing revisions while in such a “lost hope” bubble was beyond daunting. But when I finally felt ready to tackle revisions again, that quote kept me going. It  got me through revisions. Through writing my query. And then through writing my synopsis.  
 
The writing process can be overwhelming. I’ve learned to set little goals and just “get her done.” There really is no “trying” to write a book. You either do it or you don’t.

That’s your Yoda wisdom for today. You’re welcome. ;)

WHAT ELSE I’VE BEEN UP TO: Soccer. Lots of soccer. My daughter’s playing on the JV soccer team and my husband coaches the Varsity team and so it’s usually four if not six games during the week. Then, my son usually has two to three games every Saturday. And my husband plays most Sundays. I don’t get to every game, but I try to get to most of them. You’d think I’d be tired of so much soccer, but I really do love watching the game. Good thing, right?! 

Also, my daughter turned fifteen and got her driver’s permit a few weeks ago. My sanity is questionable.  

What’s up on YOUR Wednesday?!

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Next Big Thing

My awesome friend Katy Upperman and I finished first drafts of our current manuscripts at the same time and then finished revisions about the same time too. So when she mentioned she was composing her NEXT BIG THING post and asked me to join along, how could I resist?!

The NEXT BIG THING is a WiP-focused questionnaire that first originated here and here. (I think) Now, I don’t know that my little story will ever be a BIG THING, but it’s pretty big in my heart, so here goes…
What is the working title of your book?

THOSE MAGIC CHANGES
Where did the idea come from?
The warped inner recesses of my mind? Too many viewings of Freaky Friday and Grease? Seriously—I have no idea how I come up with stuff sometimes.
What genre does your book fall under?
Upper YA/Contemporary/Magical Realism/Commercial YA Fiction
May we see an intro?

Sure. Here’s the first 250 (okay, 295 sorrynotsorry J )…

I live for drama.
            Guys and Dolls, The Wizard of Oz, Barefoot in the Park. Last year I played Kim McAfee in Bye Bye Birdie—not the lead, but still a sizeable role, and I worked super hard to ensure my performance was flawless. I've yet to experience the “big” part, but it's all about paying dues. And I’ve paid mine. Understudy, bit parts, countless hours of dance classes and voice lessons. And when Mr. Fonda announced Grease as this year’s spring musical, I knew all that hard work will have paid off.
The cast list goes up after first period drama, and my name has to be next to Sandy. I'm perfect for the part. I don’t drink or swear. And for the love of Fosse, I never rat my hair. It’s always in a tight ponytail, thank you very much. I probably look more like Patty Simcox than I do Sandy, but that’s why there's blond hair dye. I spin a circle as I arrive at my locker. I cannot wait to see the cast list!
            I'm two swivels into my locker's combination when Axl’s body slams into it. He curses and I gasp as Michael Titan shoves him up against his locker. And mine.
“Mess with my girlfriend again, punk, and it’ll be your face in the toilet. Forget your friend.” Michael curls his fist around Axl's shirt (Guns N Roses—jeez), and they're literally right next to me. One year, just one year, I want a locker down the science hall or by the English wing. Not one right next to my brother, who is about to have his blood and body parts splattered all over it. Why couldn't I have been blessed with a twin who is somewhat like me?

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Typically I like to sprinkle in detail and leave more up to reader imagination, but for some reason I went way more detailed about my main characters in this particular story. Consequently I do have dreamy aspirations as to who would play them in a movie.

My dream casting call for Alexandra…
 
OR
 
And for Axl…

OR
 

Again—DREAMING here, but it is fun to dream. J

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Me? Boil anything down to one sentence? Ha! But I do have a 58-word pitch. Enjoy.

Seventeen-year-olds Alexandra and Axl Reed may be twins but their interests are about as related as baseball and the theatre. Perfect Alexandra is the glorified virgin of Titan Heights; Axl's the renowned punk. But when a freak accident puts them in each other's bodies, they’ll have to learn to experience the other quickly. Or be the other. Indefinitely.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I will be seeking agency representation.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Roughly four months. I wrote about 15K in November of 2012, then wrote the rest with the Ready. Set. Write! summer writing intensive last summer.

What other books would you compare this story to?


Freaky Friday? While I have a ton of movies and television shows I could comp my story with, I can’t think of one Freaky Friday story save the original one. I mean there’s a strong sibling and family relationship theme, but my story’s nothing in the vein of SECOND CHANCE SUMMER. And it has a lot of musical and sports elements, but again, nothing specific. So, I’ll just give you the sum-up from my query…
With the slapstick humor of a campy Broadway song yet the relatable soul of a classic rock ballad, my young adult fiction THOSE MAGIC CHANGES will appeal to fans of Grease, Freaky Friday, Glee, baseball, and good ol’ rock and roll.

Does that help?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The plays and musicals I’ve been involved with. My favorite people—teenagers. Baseball.  Star Wars. Grease. Damn Yankees. Aerosmith. G N R. Van Halen. Glee.
Apparently a lot. J Seriously, I don’t know where this story came from, but it’s inspired me to fall in love with theatre and classic rock all over again.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Some items from my Love List that I haven’t mentioned elsewhere: cheesy Star Wars one-liners, swirlies, dugout sexcapades, rekindling lost love, Yoda, vengeful makeovers, flamboyant BFFs, sibling rivalry, sibling love, almost kisses, karma fairies, and (coming from one of my favorite chapters) Spanish vocab lists that scream eso es lo que ha dicho. 

Hope you enjoyed my NEXT BIG THING. What’s YOURS? I think I’m supposed to tag people to play along, but I shall just tag all of you. Leave a link in the comments if you decide to share your NEXT BIG THING!
PS—I was supposed to post my progress update on my YA Buccaneers boot camp goals. Oops. But I shall do that Wednesday! Swearsies!

Monday, March 17, 2014

YA Buccaneers Boot Camp Update #1



It’s my first YA Buccaneers Boot Camp Check In! Don’t know what that is?  Find out all about it HERE.
Oh, and the Boot Camp includes Accountability Teams. I am TEAM DEFIANCE and we are as awesome as this button the fabulous TraceyNeithercott designed.


 
Last week, I shared my overall goals and my goals for last week. Here’s a recap…
OVERALL GOALS for March, April, and May…
1) Write and revise a query and synopsis for my current story THOSE MAGIC CHANGES
2) Query THOSE MAGIC CHANGES
3) Dust off my “baby” ( a project I wrote five years ago) and start revising it. Again. J
4) Brainstorm and outline ideas for the SNI I’ll start writing with the summer writing program Ready Set Write. Don’t know what that is? Click HERE.
5) Read at least fifteen books.
This Last week’s goals…
1) Draft my query for THOSE MAGIC CHANGES
2) Start drafting my synopsis for TMC
3) Rewrite my query. Repeat a hundred times until I feel it’s not so full of suck and my CPs won’t cringe at it.
4) Consider and implement reader feedback on my current story.
5) Start a revision list for the “baby.”
6) Brainstorm and jot ideas down for summer Ready Set Write SNI.
7) Finish reading WINGER (Andrew Smith) and SHARP OBJECTS (Gillian Flynn)
I drafted my query, then rewrote and tweaked it and, with the help of one of my brilliant CPs, I finally got something I was pretty happy with. And because I'm a glutton for torture, I then wrote a completely different version of my query. So, now I have two queries that I’m somewhat happy with. And Indecisive Alison will have to choose one of them. Why do I do this to myself?
But I have a query. J
I didn’t do much with my synopsis, but that one sentence I wrote is pretty awesome. J
I also implemented reader feedback on my story, started a revision list for my “baby,” and I finished both WINGER and SHARP OBJECTS (both were AMAZING).
But TBH, I spent most of my spare writing time scrawling out ideas for my RSW SNI (Ready Set Write Shiny New Idea). It’s an idea that has been on the back burner for the past three years. Correction—it wasn’t even on the back burner. It was one of those flitting ideas that was still in the fridge. Yet for whatever reason, this idea has leapt to the forefront of my brain and I am LOVING it. I really, REALLY can’t wait to start drafting this story!

Okay, so that’s how I did last week. A short list on the goals for this week. J

Goals for the week of March 17.
1) Polish queries.
2) Draft a synopsis. Someone please shoot me now.
3) Research agents.
4) Implement the rest of my reader feedback on my current story.
5) Continue to jot notes down for the “baby” and the SNI.
6) Read GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE (Andrew Smith) and PROM (Laurie Halse Anderson)
I’ll report back next Monday and let you know how I did! How was your writing and reading week?!
Oh, and this math nerd hopes you had a Happy Pi Day and that you’re having an equally happy St. Patrick’s Day! Enjoy!
 

Monday, March 10, 2014

YA Buccaneers Writing Boot Camp!

As I was on a week-long break from finishing my polishing draft of my story and sending it out to readers, I came across this.

 
It’s a three month long writing boot camp in which participants set goals, share progress, and hold each other accountable for said goals. Um…count me in! The writing camp started last Monday, but it’s not too late to join the awesomeness and well, I love the pirates over at YA Buccaneers and just think this idea’s pretty fab. Plus, I NEED to do a few things writing-wise, so….
 Find out all about it HERE.
Today, I’m sharing my overall goals and my goals for this week. People—HOLD ME ACCOUNTABLE! I need to get my query ready, like, yesterday. J
OVERALL GOALS for March, April, and May…
1) Write and revise a query and synopsis for my current story THOSE MAGIC CHANGES
2) Query THOSE MAGIC CHANGES
3) Dust off my “baby” ( a project I wrote five years ago) and start revising it. Again. J
4) Brainstorm and outline ideas for the SNI I’ll start writing with the summer writing program Ready Set Write. Don’t know what that is? Click HERE.
5) Read at least fifteen books.
This week’s goals…
1) Draft my query for THOSE MAGIC CHANGES
2) Start drafting my synopsis for TMC
3) Rewrite my query. Repeat a hundred times until I feel it’s not so full of suck and my CPs won’t cringe at it.
4) Implement reader feedback on my current story.
5) Start a revision list for the “baby.”
6) Brainstorm and jot ideas down for summer Ready Set Write SNI.
7) Finish reading WINGER (Andrew Smith) and SHARP OBJECTS (Gillian Flynn)
 
I’ll report back next Monday and let you know how I did! Are YOU doing the YA Buccaneers Writing Boot Camp?! What are you working on?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Writer Recharge: Final Update!

It’s the final update for Writer Recharge!


My overall Writer Recharge goal was to *fingers crossed* finish my second draft. I finished my fix-it-up draft, polished it, and sent it off to trusted readers last Wednesday. I may or may not have had to breathe into a paper bag several times in that process, and since then I’ve already changed two chapter titles and added to the ending. But the tweets I received that night made me feel WORLDS better. 

 
Considering I’m the least funny person IRL, these tweets made my heart sing.
And because I promised, I’m going to share my pitch AND an excerpt. I’m a little protective of the premise—not because I think people will steal my idea (Freaky Friday has been done how many times?!), but because I’m sure people will be all “good luck pulling that off.”
Anyway, I’m winding up. Here’s the pitch for THOSE MAGIC CHANGES...
Seventeen-year-olds Alexandra and Axl Reed may be twins but their interests (and personalities) are about as connected as baseball and the theatre. Perfect twin Alexandra is the glorified virgin of Titan Heights; Axl's the celebrated punk. But when a freak accident puts them in each other's bodies, they'll have to learn how to experience the other quickly. Or be the other. Indefinitely.

There’s a bit of an ew factor. And my boy Axl swears almost as much as the Wolf of Wall Street (okay, not that bad, but he does drop a few f-bombs). And my characters are maybe a little over the top. But I love this story SO MUCH. It's infused with Broadway musicals and baseball and classic rock and roll. It contains scenes inspired by Pitch Perfect, Can't Buy Me Love, and Monsters, Inc. And there may or may not be a few scenes in tribute to my community and college theatre groups. The story has one or two (or ten) Star Wars lines (I apologize for nothing) and almost as many lines from Grease. And it just makes me happy every time I reread it. I don’t know what will ever happen to it, but I thought I’d at least share one scene. And since the awesome Tracey Neithercott gushed about it and I tweet-teased you, I will share part of the “period scene.” My goody two-shoes Alexandra is Steppin' to the Bad Side. And this scene is for all you ladies out there. J Enjoy. I’m going to go hide in a corner.

Monday morning, I'm ironing one of Axl's Billy Squier tee-shirts when I hear Axl scream, “Oh my God!” Moments later, he throws open the bedroom door, holds up a brownish-red stained yellow sheet and barks, “Help me. NOW.”
            I smile. My body is picture perfect clockwork.
            I turn off the iron, snap out his tee-shirt, and place it atop his jeans on the ironing board from my room. “Whatever do you need help with?” I try to suppress a snicker. And fail.
            He closes the door behind him, then throws the sheet at my face. So rude.
            “I bled out all over your bed last night. And all over your precious clothes.”
            He points to my yellow silk pajama pants. Blood stains the front of them. I'm sure the stain extends to the back. Which is why I always use a super-plus absorbent pad the night before Flo pays her monthly visit. Which is every twenty-six days, four hours, and fifty-two minutes. I probably should've told Axl about that. Oopsies.
            Axl shoves a finger in my face. I can't stop smirking.
“You little bitch. You knew this was going to happen, didn't you?”
I swat away his finger. “Karma, dear brother. Karma. You broke several things that were very important to me. I just helped the karma fairies out a little.”
“You helped the karma fairies? You let me get a fucking period with no warning whatsoever. What kind of bullshit is that?”
“Your body was giving you plenty of warning. I thought you'd figure it out,” I lie.
“Did you even think about what might've happened if I got this at school?”
“I would've told you this morning. But I knew Flo would come during the night.”
Axl gives me a look that is one part confused, two parts scowl. Not an attractive look for me. “Who the fuck is Flo?”
“My menstrual cycle, duh.” I roll my eyes. How many girls has Axl been with?
“You call it Flo?” He sneers. Looks like we need to have another conversation about how unattractive that is too. “Enlighten me, dear sister. Why do you call it Flo?”
Great Gershwin. Is my brother really this dense? “For blood flow.” He rolls his eyes. Clearly he's got it now. “Some girls call it TOM—you know—for Time Of Month, but I would never even think about referring to it as something masculine. That's just gross. Katrina and Darla call it their friend, but really? I've never found Flo to be much of a friend. I always get massive headaches. For some reason, I'm more prone to breathing flare ups. Oh, not to mention the cramps and bleeding that last for days.”
“Days?” Axl looks pained.
“Six and a half to be exact. Oh, and until Wednesday, you'll want to wear two pads. Make sure you pack several in your . . . correction, my book bag. Bleeding's pretty heavy until then. Katrina tried to get me to use tampons, but I can't stand the thought of inserting something in my—”
He groans and holds up a hand. “Too. Much. Information.” He clutches his gut. “The pain is excruciating. How do you stand this?”
I heave a sigh. “Midol. Just take two this—”
“The hell with two. I'm taking the whole fucking bottle. Where is it?”
Heavens to Bernstein. He really needs to stop swearing. I sound so unladylike. “In my desk drawer. Top one.” He bolts out of the room, but doesn't head down the hall. He practically dives into the bathroom. I stand outside, but when he retches in (hopefully) the toilet, I walk down to my room, place the Midol on my desk, pull the heating pad down out of the closet and place it on my bed. I'm in the middle of leaving a note about wearing dark clothes (or at least dark jeans—not that he's been wearing anything but jeans, but a skirt is totally off limits when Flo's here) when he storms in the room with the bloody sheet.
“I still can't believe you didn't give me a heads up about this. Not cool.” He throws the sheet at me again. “Karma is about to bite you in the fucking ass.”
            I give a little gasp. “What's that supposed to mean?”
            “Meaning that when you least expect it, I will get you back.” He messes up my hair—harshly—twists his hands, and grins artfully. All that's missing is the Muahahaha.
            I bite off every nail until it's time to go to school.

My poor twins. I'm so mean to them. J
Life-wise and writing-wise I had a pretty crappy December and an even crappier January. I want to thank Sara and my incredibly awesome co-hosts, Katy, Elodie, and Liz for helping me to get back on track. I’m taking this week off to beta read some pretty fabulous manuscripts. But next Monday I shall be back at TMC, turning that pitch into a query (ugh) and drafting a synopsis (double ugh). And I’ll get back into my regular habit of updating through What’s Up Wednesday. Don’t know what that is? Click here. J
Oh, and I can’t resist sharing that amidst the crazy of finishing and sending and gushing about WiPs, my daughter turned 15 Saturday! 
 
Next week, we’ll get her permit. And I’ll have something else to be nervous and anxious about. Oy.
I hope you’ve had a super productive and absolutely wonderful Writer’s Recharge! Make sure to sign your update post up on Sara’s linky. I look forward to seeing what you’ve been up to!