Friday, August 27, 2010

Happy Dancing

Anyone who wants to happy dance with me over finishing a picture book manuscript that I'm excited about can start dancing . . .

. . . NOW!                                   Happy Dancing Pictures, Images and Photos

This picture book has actually had a title (which I think I'll keep to myself just a bit longer) for about five years, and I've written two or three other stories with different characters and story lines, stories that made me say, "Meh." I'm excited to revise this one into something I can query or submit. So I'm giving myself a September 21st deadline to complete Shelley's dare. After all, that's technically the end of summer, right?

Because I have this other manuscript (still under 90,000 words) that I'm working on until Wednesday.

What are you excited about right now?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Writing Update

I'm still not done with my fourth draft of Star Swans and Sarki, but I like where it's going. My actual deadline for finishing is the end of the month, but I'm supposed to be squeezing a picture book into this month too. The Story Queen dared me to write a picture book this summer, and I not only accepted the dare, I told her I'd submit or query it as well. Unfortunately, the two picture books I've started this summer haven't cooperated. It looks like I'm starting over from scratch.

Fortunately, my revision is going well. My manuscript is more than 5,000 words lighter (under 90k) than it was last week, and I've added thousands of new words: shiny conversations and scuffles (which means I've probably cut closer to 10k). At the moment, I'm working my way backwards through the story and trying to catch missing punctuation and inconsistencies. At least, that was my plan. I've found that revising backwards is also helping me catch superfluous words, sentences, and even paragraphs that flow well when I'm reading it frontwards. Once I'm done with my backwards revision, I'm going to read the whole thing out loud and fix whatever problems I have left. It should be perfect in a week or so, right?


Yes, I'm laughing at myself over my perfection issues, but that's a subject for another post. The reality: I'll send my fourth draft out to a few more readers, and then I'll revise again. Meanwhile, I have another novel I started earlier this summer that I'm excited to get back to (once I've written that perfect picture book) and another friend's manuscript to critique.

I've critiqued three since May. Critiquing other writers' work has helped me see problems that need to be fixed in my own, and reading critiques on my own work has helped even more. I don't always take their advice. Even when I do, it doesn't always work. For instance, I cut a character that one of my critters didn't like, chopped her right out of the story, but then I wrote her back in today. Her part is smaller, but it's necessary. On the other hand, I also revised a scene where the same critter felt my characters didn't react to a betrayal. I made them react and wow--I love what it did for my character development. She saw something important that I missed. Of course, changing that part meant I had to revise other parts as well, but it was worth the work. In both instances, my story is better for the changes I made because of her comments. I (heart) my critique partners.

hearts Pictures, Images and Photos

And I (heart) my blogging friends. Thanks for reading my rambley-scrambley writing update. Have you ever revised backwards or tried something different to catch mistakes?

Monday, August 16, 2010

More Contest Love

WriteOnCon was great, wasn't it? That writing update I promised you isn't happening until the end of the week. Hopefully I'll be where I want to be by then.

But check out this contest. Shannon Whitney Messenger, one of the organizers of WriteOnCon, is giving away five amazing ARCs of books I've been dying to read (especially the first and the last). Here's Shannon's description:

PEGASUS by Robin McKinley (Available in November, 2010)

Because of a thousand-year-old alliance between humans and pegasi, Princess Sylviianel is ceremonially bound to Ebon, her own pegasus, on her twelfth birthday. The two species coexist peacefully, despite the language barriers separating them. Humans and pegasi both rely on specially trained Speaker magicians as the only means of real communication.

But it's different for Sylvi and Ebon. They can understand each other. They quickly grow close—so close that their bond becomes a threat to the status quo—and possibly to the future safety of their two nations.

New York Times bestselling author Robin McKinley weaves an unforgettable tale of unbreakable friendship, mythical creatures and courtly drama destined to become a classic.


MATCHED* by Ally Condie (Available September, 2010)
*Note: The ARC I have does not have the now famous cover, but otherwise it's exactly the same.

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.


VIRALS by Kathy Reichs (Available November 2010)

Tory Brennan, niece of acclaimed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (of the Bones novels and hit TV show), is the leader of a ragtag band of teenage "sci-philes" who live on a secluded island off the coast of South Carolina. When the group rescues a dog caged for medical testing on a nearby island, they are exposed to an experimental strain of canine parvovirus that changes their lives forever.

As the friends discover their heightened senses and animal-quick reflexes, they must combine their scientific curiosity with their newfound physical gifts to solve a cold-case murder that has suddenly become very hot—if they can stay alive long enough to catch the killer's scent.

Fortunately, they are now more than friends— they're a pack. They are Virals.


THE SEARCH FOR WONDLA by Tony DiTerlizzi (Available September 2010)

When a marauder destroys the underground sanctuary that Eva Nine was raised in by the robot Muthr, the twelve-year-year-old girl is forced to flee aboveground. Eva Nine is searching for anyone else like her, for she knows that other humans exist, because of an item she treasures—a scrap of cardboard on which is depicted a young girl, an adult, and a robot, with the strange word, "WondLa." Tony DiTerlizzi honors traditional children's literature in this totally original space age adventure: one that is as complex as an alien planet, but as simple as a child's wish for a place to belong.

Breathtaking two-color illustrations throughout reveal another dimension of Tony DiTerlizzi's vision, and, for those readers with a webcam, the book also features Augmented Reality in several places, revealing additional information about Eva Nine's world.


THE KNEEBONE BOY By: Ellen Potter (Available September 2010)

Life in a small town can be pretty boring when everyone avoids you like the plague. But after their father unwittingly sends them to stay with an aunt who's away on holiday, the Hardscrabble children take off on an adventure that begins in the seedy streets of London and ends in a peculiar seaside village where legend has it a monstrous creature lives who is half boy and half animal...

In this wickedly dark, unusual, and compelling novel, Ellen Potter masterfully tells the tale of one deliciously strange family and a secret that changes everything.

*          *          *

They all look amazing, don't they? Make sure you tell her I sent you.

And F.Y.I. - Stephanie Perkins is giving away her last copy of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. I'm not entering, but you can tell her I sent you anyway. ;o)

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Contest and a Conference

Carolina Valdez Miller extended her fabulous contest through August 15th, but you don't want to go over there. She's only giving away seven, SEVEN ARCs. ;o)


Also, if you're a writer and you haven't heard of Write On Con, you should check it out. It's free, and you don't even have to leave your home to interact with other writers, agents, editors, and illustrators. I'm registered as Myrna Foster in the WriteOnCon forums, if you want to add me as a friend. I'll be hanging out over there this week, but next week, prepare yourselves for a long overdue writing update (and no, that doesn't mean I have a contract or an agent to tell you about). I haven't had anything exciting to share since May.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Answers to Writing/Story Questions

Welcome to the question and answer session that will reveal my long time obsession with The Lord of the Rings series, among other things. So without further ado, I give you my answers to your writing and story questions.

Sharon K Mayhew asked, "Have you been to any of the Highlights workshops?"

I would LOVE to attend a Highlights workshop, in fact, I'd love to attend more than one, but even the plane ticket to get across the country is out of my budget right now. If, however, any of you live near Pennsylvania or have a healthy savings account, they offer a variety of wonderful workshops throughout the year. One of these days …

Shelley (storyqueen) asked, "And, favorite thing you've ever written."

"The Letter O" - the second poem I sold to Highlights is still my favorite.

Jackee said, "And I want a list of books written and poems published. Yeah, WIPs and publications."

The only novel I've ever finished a draft of (three actually) is Star Swans and Sarki. But I don't think I've ever mentioned the picture books I've tried submitting to publishers. They would count as books written. I've written others I didn't consider finished enough to submit. Hopefully, I'll get them there eventually.

Picture Books 
Bubbles Popping Everywhere
Monty's Piggyback Ride
We Paint the Night
Skunk on a Skateboard
Emma's Underwear 
The Baby Who Loves to Wear Shoes

Poems Published (all by Highlights High Five)
The Letter S                    (September 2007)
The Letter O                   (January 2008)
My Umbrella                  (March 2009)
A Place on My Bed        (June 2010)

You may have noticed the same pattern I have. As I've already had a poem published this year, I'm guessing Worm School won't come out until the beginning of next year. Though, I'll certainly let you know when I know for sure. :o)

You totally made me pull out my record book, Jackee, not that that's a bad thing.

Holly Ruggiero asked, "Do you have any work published online? What's your favorite part beginning, middle, or end?"

I don't. And my favorite part varies with the project, but usually it's the middle.

Susan Fields asked, "Question for you: What's your favorite movie, old or new?"

This is such a hard question. I'd have to agree that The Lord of the Rings movies are brilliant, but I've only seen them a couple of times because I don't want the actors and actresses to replace the character
s I've been carrying around in my head for so long. My favorite movie was Better Off Dead for years,k but I'm going with Second Hand Lions. The best movie I've seen this year is How to Train Your Dragon.

Julie Dao asked, "What books do you not have in your library that you would really like to get?"

At the moment, I'd really like copies of Kiersten White's Paranormalcy and Robin McKinley's Pegasus. I'd also like to own the Anne of Green Gables series and all of Jane Austen's books, except for Emma. The only one I have is Northanger Abbey. Oh, and while I have an unlimited budget, I'd like the rest of Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggy series, and Shelley Moore Thomas' Good Knight books. :o)

Beth Revis asked, "If you could make any character in any book come to real life, which would it be and why?"

Harold, I'd love to go on an adventure with him and that purple crayon of his. Do you think he'd let me borrow it? ;o)

Weronika Janczuk asked, "Favorite secondary character ever is . . . ?

  . . . Sam Gamgee, from The Lord of the Rings. However, if you feel that all members of the fellowship are main characters, I also love Eowyn. Most of my (few) gripes with the movies are Sam related. In the first book, Sam saves Frodo by slashing at the (tentacle of the Watcher) that grabs him and pulling him out of reach. Who saves Frodo in the movie? And in The Return of the King (the movie), they actually had Sam leave Frodo on the stairs going into Mordor. Yeah, right. Eowyn though, Eowyn was perfect.

Lacey asked, "Have you always wanted to be a writer or did someone or something inspire you?"

I've always liked making up stories and poems, and I had teachers who encouraged me. There are other occupations I've been interested in, but writing compliments any subject or occupation.

and "Do you ever fictionalize people you know?"

I did for a short story I wrote in college, but when my professor encouraged me to try submitting to literary magazines, the thought of selling it made me nervous. Since then, I've never intentionally fictionalized a real person, but I borrow character traits and experiences. Most of my characters have more of me in them than anyone else I know, even my antagonists. Most characters take on a life of their own, as soon as they start having conversations and interacting with other characters. And reading back over that short story from college, even those characters had bits of me in them. I doubt the people I fictionalized would recognize themselves.

Thanks for your questions! I hope you found something interesting in the answers.