Sunday, March 20, 2011

Blogfest: Show Me the Voice!

Wow! Another awesome opportunity -- Brenda Drake is hosting a fabulous blogfest/contest.Find out more here! Basically, we post our first 250 words of our finished manuscripts on our blogs for critique and email them to Brenda. The top 20 will be judged by agent Natalie Fischer (whose blog is awesome -- check it out here).

Here are my first 250 words! The contest is all about the voice, voice voice voice, so let me know what you think of the delicious voicey voicyness going on. (Voice is starting to sound like a very strange word...)

The manuscript is called FAKE.

My father holds my diary open in his palm.

“‘Dear Diary,’” he reads. “‘Tonight at dinner I crossed my fingers behind my back while Dad said Grace.’”

I stare down into my lap. A cameraman breathes down my neck. I can feel the lens focusing on me like little bugs crawling on my skin.

“‘It felt good,’” Dad continues, “‘and Dad didn’t even notice.’”

I allow myself one blink. He wants me to cry, to repent, to beg for a light punishment. I won’t give him the satisfaction. I won’t give them the satisfaction.

“‘I’m too smart to be in this family. Not blind enough to believe what they want me to believe.’” He slams the diary shut. “Jenny-fer.”

He always says my name like it rhymes with “Lucifer.”


“Look at me.”

I’ve never seen so many lines on his forehead. The light from the sunset filters through the blinds and highlights his puffy combover and his graying eyebrows. A camera pokes over his shoulder.

“What you wrote in this book is evil,” he says. “It’s very, very evil and I want an apology.”

Can’t see straight. The pressure in my chest warps my vision. Can’t even think. I stopped writing in that silly diary months ago. I’ve found a better outlet. I won’t make this mistake again. When I don’t speak, his eyes flash. His sausage-like fingers grip his desk. A vein twitches on his forehead.

“You need to pray,” he says, holding out his hands. “If you pray, Jesus will fix you.”

Saturday, March 19, 2011

YA Pitch Contest!

Yoo hoo, writers! YAtopia is hosting a pretty sweet pitch contest right now. Post a two-sentence pitch, your manuscript's first sentence, and get the chance to have your manuscript read by agent extraordinaire Ammi-Joan Paquette! Considering she's closed to queries at the moment, this is a fantastic opportunity.

Fight Scenes

I freaking love writing fight scenes. I find it very challenging, though. To write a good fight scene, you have to keep a few things in mind.

1. Variety

Verbs in fight scenes are really crucial, since that's basically how you're going to get all the action across. If you use the same verbs over and over again, like "punch" and "kick," it gets really dull really fast. Of course, you have to use those words a few times, but after one or two uses the reader will get that the characters are punching and kicking each other. I try to use words like "smash," "connect," "blast," and "puncture" to keep things interesting.

2. Choreography

You have to know exactly where in time and space these characters are fighting. What's around them? Is there anything lying around that someone could use as a weapon? How are they going to move around the setting during the fight? Is one character a lot stronger than the other, pinning his opponent down and pummelling him, never allowing him the chance to get a punch in? Or is the fight more evenly matched, more dynamic, with more back-and-forth?

3. Emotional Impact

This is by far the most important. Why are they fighting? Why is a physical fight the best way for these characters to interact right now? If these characters don't have a good enough reason to be fighting, we're not going to care who wins. If the issue could be easily solved with a negotiation, why are they beating the crap out of each other? It has to make sense. When two characters come head-to-head for a real reason, when there are real stakes and the emotions climax, that's when your reader is glued to the page. If the emotions between the characters have been slowing building, getting hotter and hotter, and they finally come to a head and everyone breaks out into the most animalistic kind of fighting, that's when the fight works.

Think of fight scenes as love scenes. Is there a connection between the characters? Is there a lot of build-up? Are the emotions coming to head in a way that makes sense? Is the choreography easy to follow? How graphic do you want it to be? Wow, fight scenes and love scenes have a lot in common! ;)

Do you like writing fights? Or do your characters solve their problems in more civilized ways?

Monday, March 14, 2011

New Direction?

This past week has been tough for me. I've had a lot of homework, assignments, and other obligations to fill and I've hardly had any time to breathe. I haven't been able to read anything besides school books. I've only written a couple thousand words this week, which feels like torture when I have so many ideas and so much pent-up excitement about this WIP.

I've been thinking lately that I want to leave university. It was fun for a while, but now I have to force myself to finish assignments, torture myself into studying, and bully myself into even going to class. I have no passion for what I'm learning, no drive to do anything. To put it bluntly, I hate it.

I'm supposedly in a creative writing program, but nothing I'm reading or writing for school feels like it has any relevance to my life and writing career. Most of the program is focused on poetry (which I hate) and super pretentious literary short stories (which I really hate). I am in a children's lit class, which I like, but even so, it feels like I'm studying the very, very basics.

So I've decided that I don't want to do this anymore. I don't want to stay in a program I don't care about. I don't want to have to force myself to care. I want to be doing something I love.

So I'm not going back next term. I'm going to slog this term out as best I can, then I'm going to work all summer, save up money, and probably go to France for a big chunk of September. That's the plan.

After that? I may go back to school, start a different program, but maybe not. Maybe I'll just work part-time and focus on writing. My parents won't be too pleased (Mom won't, Dad'll be fine), but I really think I need to stop doing things just because I feel like I have to. Besides, I'm going to school on my own dime. They can't stop me.

Am I crazy? Should I stick to my guns and follow those dreams? If anyone has any wisdom or advice to share, I'd love to hear it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Teaser Tuesday!

I haven't done one of these in a looooong time. This quick little blurb is from the newly-retitled A Summer of You (formerly As Long As I'm Lying). Here, our main character Hunter is on a road trip with his new boyfriend Taylor while rumours are swirling about them back home. Enjoy!

“God, I wish I had a lot of alcohol right now.”

I say it with a laugh so he knows it’s a half-joke, but Taylor throws his arms around me so hard I stagger backwards. I hug him back, rocking him back and forth.

Just a few weeks ago I was a loser who barely graduated high school and had nothing to worry about. Now I’m kissing a boyfriend who won’t tell me his secrets, having rumors spread about me back home, and thinking about how to tell Dad about all this when I should just be enjoying this silence.

“Fuck it,” I say. “Just fuck everyone. Let’s go swimming.”

Taylor grins.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Songs on Saturday! (8)

Hey guys! On certain Saturdays I like to share a song that's been influencing my writing lately. This week's song is...

Don't judge me, I know it's ancient. Don't judge the song by the music video, either, or the dorky boy band singing it.

This week I've been writing a road trip. It's insanely fun. My two characters are escaping -- not to California, to the Okanagan region of BC, but still -- and this song is perfect. The carefree but somewhat desperate lyrics, the lazy but introspective melody... perfectly expresses the state of mind these two characters are in.

I've especially had fun writing this part of the novel because they're road trip route is the same one I take almost every summer. I have some crazy stories and favourite places along the way and it's really fun to work that in.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Book Blogger Hop & Follow Friday!

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy For Books!

The question this week is:

Who is your all-time favourite book villain?

My answer: I friggin' love Voldemort. What's not to love? Not only is he super-scary when he's actually in a scene, even when he's not physically there you still have this creepy crawling-under-your-skin feeling whenever he's mentioned. He's a villain that brings an atmosphere of doom the second you say his name (or avoid saying his name!). He's also very sympathetic. You feel bad for what he's become. He's also the perfect foil for Harry, since they're so alike. They represent the paths the same person could take. Very psychologically interesting. I love it.

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View.

This week's question is:

What embarrassing thing have you done on cold medicine?

My answer: Uh, this is a weird one! I've never been on cold medicine. There's no cure for a cold, so I figure taking medicine for it doesn't really do anything, it'll go away on its own anyway. I don't take medicine for relatively minor illnesses. But, when I have fevers, I wake up at night and stalk my mom. She's woken up many, many times in my life with me standing there by her bed staring at her, in a feverish delusion. It's kind of funny.