This month has been full a great news--Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why hit the NYT Bestseller list, as did the amazing mother/daughter duo of PC & Kristin Cast with the third book in their House of Night series, Chosen . (The House of Night books have the most amazing covers, too!!) Not suprising, but they hit the NYT list shortly after being interviewed by Jill Monroe of Author Talk.
And I can't even keep up with all the good news this week!
First was Rinda's exciting news that she's signed with a super cool agent! Congrats woman, we're going to hear more good news very soon, I'm sure!!!
I'm pretty sure everyone heard me scream when I got all this great news!!! Congrats ladies and gent! I have a feeling there will be more good news as the day progresses--good luck to all the Golden Heart and Rita entrants!! I'm so glad I'm not getting an ulcer waiting for the phone to ring this year! LOL.
The time change is beating me up! I can't go to sleep--last ngiht I stayed up watching Big Brother After Dark so I could see who won HOH. And then all of a sudden my alram clocks going nuts and it is time to get up already. I'm pretty sure I've lost way more than just one hour with this whole thing.
I'm enjoying the extra evening sunlight, though. After work I was able to work with my horses and made some great progress with Mari. Mari is a rescued Kiger mustang who not only came in from the wild mending a broken shoulder, but then was abused by her first 2 placements.
I'd done well with another abused horse, so I figure she'd be a cake walk. Ha ha. Mustangs are so intelligent and they have endurance like you wouldn't believe. Plus the instinct to survive is extremely high--I'm mean how else did she survive in the wild with a broken shoulder, keeping up with her herd and not getting attacked by a mountain lion? This horse has heart like you wouldn't believe.
So I've been working with her and yesterday we did something she'd never done before. She let me lead her though a gate opening. It may seem like nothing, but it was huge. Normally if she suspects that any foul play is going down, she bolts. So I was very happy. She was also really affectionate, enjoying lots of scratching and ear rubs and stuff. It was hot and she still has her winter fuzz so I'm sure she was itchy. But I always get a kick out of how sweet she is about having her face and ears handled because the people I got her from told me she would never be a cuddly horse. Ha!
As a writer there are many milestones that we celebrate—first completed manuscript, first agent rejection (Yes this really is celebrated, how sick is that? LOL), first agent request for more pages, first request for a Full(!!!!), and the biggies like The Call, the typeset pages, the cover art, the arcs, the reviews… but today I’ve hit THE BEST MILESTONE EVER!!!!
My first fan email!!!!!!!
Big shout out to Jenna!!
I’d known Walker had done an amazing job of getting ARCs out and I’ve seen a few bookseller reviews already on the net, but I really didn’t expect to get reader feedback so soon, especially from a teen reader. After all, UNDONE won’t be on shelves until July 22nd. Thing is, Jenna belongs to this really super cool book club at her middle school called The Bookies and they read ARCs and review them and then their teacher sends the reviews to the publisher. How freaking awesome, right? And Jenna’s review was really impressive (and not just because she liked the book—but because of the things she commented on and the things she took away from reading it). So kudos to the teachers involved in this project as well.
As my first official fan, Jenna will be receiving the very first (sorry Mom) signed copy of UNDONE when it comes out, and a signed ARC of my next book (*cough**cough* which I need to finish).
I've been doing a little bit of contest judging recently and have come to realize a few things that I may have already known, but just didn't know I knew them. But even though they seem obvious, they are a good thing to keep in mind--especially if you are having trouble getting agents or editors to ask for more pages.
Start with tension--any navel gazing introspection or flowery setting descriptions or back story dumps needz to go.
You NEED a premise and that premise NEEDS to be fairly self-evident (that does not mean blatantly told, it means self-evident) from the get go--not by the end of chapter 3.
I think the majority of the entries I've judged have had this down, but the ones that don't leave me with a totally lost feeling. As a judge I don't get a blurb to set the premise up, and some of these contests don't require a synopsis. But really, your opening pages should not rely on a back cover blurb or synopsis. Don't presume that an agent or editor will be reviewing your blurb again before reading requested pages--they won't be, they'll be diving right in.
Another thing that stands out for me is voice. Voice is not about dialog or (gasp) dialect. In fact whenever you hear voice, you should immediately think personality. How a character views the world should match how they tell us about that world. A shy person will see things differently than an outgoing one. Catch phrases and the like are fine for a character if they match their personality. But don't rely on them. The bigger point about voice is--if you are going to alternate 1st POV you better have two or more characters with very different personalities. Otherwise you end up with everyone sounding the same and if you have any voice at all it will start to make the reader think of the author and not the characters. Bad.
So quick recap:
Start with Tension Premise is self-evident. Characters speak. Author types.