Monday, July 30, 2012


THE FALSE PRINCE, by Jennifer Nielson, released on April 1, 2012, and I love it so much that I've given it as a birthday present twice. It reminds me of THE WHIPPING BOY, by Sid Fleischman, and of THE THIEF, by Megan Whalen Turner.

The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy, #1)

The blurb on Goodreads tells the stakes without giving away too much information about Sage and Conner:

"THE FALSE PRINCE is the thrilling first book in a brand-new trilogy filled with danger and deceit and hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end.

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats."

I highly recommend this one (for about fourth grade on up) to anyone who enjoys adventure mixed with intrigue. I'd place it in the top three books I've read this year, along with THREE TIMES LUCKY (which is available now) and KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES.

If you're looking for more middle-grade, Shannon Messenger has the links. Have a Marvelous Monday!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ironing Squirrels*

If you've seen Pixar's UP, you're already familiar with using squirrels as a metaphor for distraction. You could say I've been chasing squirrels in my manuscript more than usual this year, trying to find the right beginning. One of my CPs and I thought we'd figured out the perfect place to start. I still love that beginning. But it ended up being too far into the story. I couldn't figure out a way to incorporate the necessary backstory without adding a major info-dump or a lot of little distractions. I moved my beginning around until I actually came back to the first thing I'd written from the point-of-view of the character whose story I chose to tell. There were three characters I could have told the story through. And even though I've started in the same place, it has little in common with my first attempt.

Through all of these drafts, the story has evolved. This month, I've added around 20,000 words, and that doesn't include the thousands that I've deleted. I'd say that I'm about 50 pages away from finishing my current draft, but I already know I'll be adding more pages tonight. I'm catching squirrels, ironing wrinkles, and trying not to mix my metaphors. ;o)

Seriously, I've been moving plot points around, redefining who my characters are, and setting up the ending. I've also been removing the word "looked" a lot. I am so grateful for brilliant readers (CPs) who are willing to share their reactions and suggestions, especially Krista (whose sharp eyes caught every "looked" and "turned to look" in my manuscript) and Q (whose rants directed at the MC have inspired character revision, laughter, and a deep seated suspicion that she prefers the boy to my main character). Mwah! :D

If you're looking for feedback on your own writing, WriteOnCon (a free online conference for writers) is open for registration. This will be their third year. I participated in both of their previous conferences, and I highly recommend it. I loved their addition of Ninja Agents last year, and they've said they'll have them commenting in the forums again this year.

I realize that not all of you are writers. Thank you for bearing with my string of posts on revision and for my lack of posts in general. Whether you're a writer or not, what have you been up to this month? I'm SO not ready for summer to be over. Are you?

*No squirrels were harmed in the writing of this blog post or during the revision of my current draft.   

Monday, July 2, 2012

Instant Gratification

No. This post isn't about self-publishing. It could be. I can't think of anything instant about traditional publishing. Wait! *shakes head* Nope. If you want instant gratification, you'd better grab a bag of Swedish Fish or a jar of Nutella. You're not going to find it in the publishing world.

That said, I like writing poetry and tiny stories. A few years ago, I hypothesized that my little writing projects were probably sucking away time and energy that I should be devoting to larger projects, and I quit making them a priority. If inspiration struck, I still wrote the story or poem, but looking through my records, I just realized that I haven't been submitting anything to editors. The last poem I had published, the one published by Highlights High Five, I submitted in 2009.

I also realized that my experiment has not reinforced my belief that these side projects take away from my writing as a whole. On the contrary, writing the little stuff and interacting with editors has been and will continue to be an important part of my writing journey.

Aside from the obvious fact that perfecting stories on a smaller scale is good practice for perfecting them on a larger scale, I like having something out on submission. Most of the writing I send out gets rejected, and rejections aren't so fun. But knowing that editors are reading my work keeps me focused, infuses me with hope. And with smaller projects I feel the gratification that comes from finishing something. It's a good feeling. And opening up an envelope to find a contract from an editor who wants to buy your work? That's a great feeling. The only thing better than receiving a contract is looking over complimentary copies of your finished work. It's worth the rejection and the time spent because it makes me better; it makes me happy. It's time for a new experiment.

What makes you happy? Do you ever experiment, or is my inner-nerd shining through?