Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

If I Was a Rich Girl

Workout Song of the Day: "Rich Girl" by Gwen Stefani (Hmm, wonder why)
My peeps over at YA Highway once again have posed a nice question for their Road Trip Wednesday. During last week's trip, pretty much NOBODY wanted to emulate Stephenie Meyer or JK Rowling's careers (myself included). This is not to say that they aren't great writers, it's just to say that a lot of us would hate having all of those expectations. We're talking about millions upon millions of people clamoring for your next work, ready to attack you if the outcome is not what they wanted. I know this. I wasn't fond of Breaking Dawn at all. My fingers were itching to send an email to Ms. Meyer demanding my money back. But I digress.
Even though we wouldn't want to have their careers, we would LOVE their moolah. So YA Highway wants to know, what would you do with all of that money? I think the appropriate question would be: what WOULDN'T I do (cue cheesy drum snare)? Here's a list of things I plan on doing once (key word, here) I make a million or more dollars:

1. Pay off my student loans
2. Pay off my car loan.
3. Pay off remaining credit cards (I'm noticing a trend here).

4. Pay off all of my mom's loans.

5. I guess throw dad in there, too.

6. Buy a house.
7. Buy Leo DiCaprio so that he can move in said house with me.

Hello baby!

8. Buy a personal movie theater so that I can view all of Leo DiCaprio's movies on the big screen. With him next to me, of course, since I would now own his body and soul.

9. Visit Hawaii, Jamaica, and Italy.

10. Donate to a few charities (is that sad that's the last on my list?)

There you have it. I could go on and on and...you get the point. Now enough daydreaming and back to work!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Teaser Tuesday Giveaway!

Workout Song of the Day: "Paralyzer" by Finger Eleven

Okay, I announced last week that I'd tell you all about a contest that I'll be having during the month of April, so here it goes:

Starting Tuesday, April 6th, I'll be posting the opening line of a book currently on my "To Be Read" list. If you know which book I'm referring to, you win!

Well, kinda.

Every Tuesday in April, check out my blog for the opening line--I'll try to get them up as early as 9 AM EST. If you think you know the answer, shoot me an email at pamharris1981@gmail.com. In the subject line, place "Teaser Tuesday Contest." I'll accept entries until midnight, EST on that particular Tuesday.

I'll enter your name in a drawing at the end of the month, and two lucky followers will win:

A $25 giftcard to Borders!

Okay, I'm not swimming in the dough, but I just spent this same amount at Borders this past weekend and I got three ultra-kick ass books. Basically, I'm giving you a pretty cool birthday present and I don't even really know all of you. :)

So, the rules are simple:

1. If you're not already, become a follower.
2. Check out my blog every Tuesday for the opening line.
3. Send me an email at pamharris1981@gmail.com by midnight EST for your answer--make sure to put "Teaser Tuesday Contest" in the subject line.
4. Win, and go to Borders to shop your book-loving heart out.

To make it even easier, I'll narrow my choices down to only YA books. Since I'll be posting a new line every Tuesday in April, you'll have four-times the chance of being a winner. And since I'm having 2 winners, you actually have eight chances. I think. Hey, I was an English major.

Good luck, everyone--hope to hear from you next month!

Monday, March 29, 2010

My Agent Wish List: Jessica Regel

Workout Song of the Day: "Over" by Drake (otherwise known as my new boyfriend)

I'm baaaack to give you the latest scoop on all of the fantastic agents out there in the literary world. I've had quite the hiatus, and I couldn't think of anyone better to reboot my franchise than the incomparable Jessica Regel of Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. Check out the facts:

Why I Heart Her: I checked out her Good Reads account, and pretty much every book she's read and actually enjoyed is within the genre of my writing. Not to mention that she gave one of Jodi Picoult's novels 5 out of 5 stars, which makes her AWESOME in my book.

Why You'll Heart Her: Because she doesn't "shy away from controversial topics" as long as it's done tastefully. You know that manuscript you're working on that you're too embarrassed to talk to anyone else about because you think it's a bit too "dark"? Polish that baby up and send it Jessica's way!

Who She Represents: Just a few from her list--Rayo Casablanca, Cecilia Galante, and Jillian Cantor.

What She's Looking For: "Fresh" YA and MG concepts with a preference in a contemporary setting; YA nonfiction, such as a memoir; adult fiction with BIG themes, humor, and edge.

Notable Net Nuggets:

How to Submit to Her: Email her a query with "Query" in the subject line. Do not send any attachments. She will contact you if she would like to request additional pages. More submission guidelines can be found here.

I officially have carpal tunnel. Good luck everyone!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fitness Friday: Write On!

Workout Song of the Day: "The Best of Me" by The Used

Okay, as I've bragged about earlier this week, after about 9 weeks, I am down 11 pounds! Nothing as miraculous as the weight loss successes on The Biggest Loser, but my pants are starting to sag, so I'm proud, damnit.

I've become WAAAY more active than I have in the past year--unless you consider channel surfing to be an extreme sport. But the fact that I'm exercising more is only half of the reason why I'm starting to shed the pounds. The other reason is a secret that I share with Tyra Banks, but because I love you all, I shall reveal it here:

That's right. A pencil. And while mines doesn't have hands and shades, it's still pretty kick ass. You see, I've been playing The Biggest Loser Wii game for the past few weeks, and part of that game is to enter my calories. I keep a journal of everything that I eat for the day so that I can enter it into the game later. However, you have to do more than just write down everything you eat. In order to see some results, here are my suggestions:

1. Find out your BMI (Body Mass Index), and how much calories you should consume in order to lose weight. For example, right now I'm supposed to eat only 1201 calories each day (torture, right?). To figure out the caloric intake best for you, try visiting this site.

2. Try to divide up your meals equally so that you won't go over your recommended amount. I make sure to eat three full meals, and at least 2 snacks. I don't give up many foods--my portion size just differs according to the calories. For example, I try to stick to one cup of cereal for breakfast, and my cousin and I measure out our side dishes so that we won't overeat.

3. Plan ahead. I cannot stress this enough. The night before, go ahead and jot down what you plan on eating the next day. This has truly helped me in not absentmindedly munching on candy or chips throughout the day. If I didn't write it down, it won't go in my mouth. This seems like a cruel and inhumane act, but after the first week or so, you'll get used to it.

That's it--three simple steps. Believe me, you'll be grumpy the first few days, but you'll smile once you see the pay-off.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What a Career!

Workout Song of the Day: See post below (I'm lazy--didn't feel like thinking of another one)

I know. We all want to be original. We all want to write our own way. And there's nothing wrong with that. However, it's okay to be in complete awe of another author. To just read their work, follow their blogs, giggle at their tweets and just think...you are absolutely AWESOME!

But enough about me. :)

My peeps over at YA Highway want to know which author's career would you most like to emulate. My immediate answer was going to be the lovely Courtney Summers:

But then I realized that even though she just received a two-book deal, she only has two books currently on the shelves. So while I feel that she's a force to be reckoned with, I figured that I should say someone who has a little more publishing credits (I still love ya, Courtney!). So the author who I most admire and whose career I'd like to fashion mines off of would be....

Elizabeth Scott!

She's laughing because she knows she rocks. What I love most about Ms. Scott is that she doesn't just stick to one genre. While I consider her the queen of YA, her books range from heartwarming (Bloom), fun (Stealing Heaven), romantic (Perfect You), to pure dark (Living Dead Girl--one of my absolute faves). Pretty much, this woman can do it all!

Though I know I'll never reach her brilliance, I want my writing to cross different genres as well. Keep doing your thing, Ms. Scott!

Contest Alert!!

Workout Song of the Day: "The Fixer" by Pearl Jam

Okay, so I'm not the only one in the blogosphere that's having a kick ass contest (surprising, I know). Beth Revis, a high school English teacher who just scored a THREE-BOOK DEAL, is holding a contest over at her blog to celebrate this new venture in her life. You can win either a writer's prize pack, or a reader's prize pack--and both are pretty awesome.

For full details, please check it out here. And while you're there, why not drop her a line and congratulate her? I think we should all band together to show our support. Congrats, Beth!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Tease For Tuesday

Workout Song of the Day: "Skinny Little B--" by Hole

Weight Loss Thus Far: 11 Pounds! Not quite the above song title, but I'm getting there!

This will be a very quick post, but I wanted to give you all a heads up for next Tuesday. I'm announcing a contest for the month of April! I'll give the full details next Tuesday. The prize won't be anything grand like a query/manuscript review because...well, what makes me an authority? Unless you care what an un-agented, unpublished YA writer thinks about your work.

However, it will involve something that I think is pretty kick ass. That's probably because I'm a nerd, but hopefully my fellow nerds out there will appreciate this prize.

And guess what? I'm giving away two!

That's all the hints I'll provide today. Come back next Tuesday for the full deets!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Did I Really Just Write That?

Workout Song of the Day: "Mess of Me" by Switchfoot

So, a few days ago I wrote a post about my "dream agent." Then I read this. Then I felt stupid.

I guess I should explain myself. Sometimes, you read about someone that seems so absotively, posilutely right for you, that you find yourself wearing blinders. When I first read about "The Artist Formerly Known as Dream Agent," I couldn't get over how much alike we are. And then when I researched her clients, I saw that their writing styles were quite similar to mine--or at least how I strive to write. I thought we were like chocolate frosting on donuts--so ridiculously right for each other.

But that meant that I was narrowing my options.

After I read said post, I realized that I wasn't opening doors for myself. I started going to blogs and writing forums to read about other agents and, whaddayaknow, I saw other ones that seemed "right" for me. It's not that I'm giving up on "The Artist..."--I just think it's time for us to see other people. I'll query everyone who I feel is a right fit, and see what's meant to be. My "dream agent" will ultimately be the person who will fight for my writing--and I probably haven't even heard of him/her yet.

With that said, I will continue "My Agent Wish List" series next Monday. Hopefully, I'll find the perfect match for you all. :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Waiting Game

Workout Song of the Day: "Shake It Out" by Manchester Orchestra

Weight Loss Thus Far: 9 Pounds Baby--woot woot!

Let's face it, no matter what stage you're at in your writing career, you're always going to be waiting for something. You WAIT to hear feedback from your beta remembers and keep your fingers crossed that they find your manuscript as brilliant as you do. You WAIT to hear from agents after a query/partial/full and keep your fingers crossed that they find your manuscript as brilliant as you do. You WAIT to hear from publishing houses as your manuscript goes out on submissions and keep your fingers crossed that they find your manuscript as brilliant as you do. You WAIT to hear from the public after your book finally hits shelves and keep...yadda yadda yadda.

So, what can you do in the midst of all of this waiting? Kiddies, take out your pencils and paper--we're taking a quiz! Don't worry, it's multiple choice.

When waiting for any information that will either make or break your writing career, you can:

a. Stare at your email inbox. Refresh said email inbox. Ask friends to send things to you in said email inbox to make sure it actually works.

b. Go visit other writer blogs/forums and smile through gritted teeth as you hear about all of the good news that seems to have fallen on everyone except for you.

c. Go to the bookstore. Buy a new book. Then smirk and grumble something about how you could've written it sooo much better. Then hang your head down in shame seconds later because you've officially become a "hatah."

d. Become a recluse. Stare out your window and watch the squirrels rummage through the grass. Then, in your best Clint Eastwood impression, cry out: "Get awf my lawwnnn!"

e. Write something new.

f. All of the above.

Okay, I'll take either E of F (though I would be concerned that you may have watched Gran Torino too many times). It's okay to fret with how your "baby" will be perceived by others. If you didn't care, then it means that you don't care about the process. Your goal is to make your writing the best that it can possibly be--so go ahead. Worry a little.

But I cannot stress how important it is to keep writing. Create an outline for a new novel. Write up a character sketch. Work on a short story. Just make sure to keep the creative juices flowing. This way, you'll be more prepared to tackle those dreaded (but worthwhile) revisions. Additionally, it's always good to have a backup plan because there have been cases where the first manuscript never breaks through. Sometimes it's the 3rd or 4th. Scary, huh? But I'm a sucker for being spooked.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

If At First You Don't Succeed...Revise, Revise Again

Workout Song of the Day: "Drop the World" by Lil Wayne ftg. Eminem

I'll be the first to admit it--I'm not a fan of criticism. Neither giving it or receiving it. In workshops, even when I know that someone's writing isn't exactly up to par, I'll sugarcoat it with the most random compliments. I love the main character's name. That one line was really funny!

And when I receive something outside of adulation in my own writing, I may react a little like this...

I'm completely distraught. I wave my fists at the world. Then I drop the story and move on to something else.

Until now.

If you haven't noticed, I've been a little (okay, a lot) absent from my blog. That's because I've been a.) working on the first draft of my thesis paper, and b.) finally completing my first novel! We interrupt this post for a brief booty-shaking dance:

With that said and done, I read over it, allowed my cousin to read over it, made a few minor changes, and shipped it off to my dream agent.
I think you know what happened next.
I was pretty lucky, though. My dream agent took out extra time from her busy schedule to actually provide me notes. How awesome is that? Additionally, she said that I could try her again in a few months.
So, even though I am nowhere near the guru of revising, here is my plan of action:
  1. Find beta readers besides my cousin. Don't get me wrong, I heart my cousin, and she gives me the morale boost I need to not just toss away this crazy notion of becoming a published writer. But we're practically the same person. And if you've encountered either of us, that's pretty scary. So I need maybe two or three others that can give me a fresh perspective on my novel. I plan on visiting the Absolute Write Water Cooler and Verla Kay Blue Boards to put in my requests. And if you haven't by now, check out both of these sites--they're on my sidebar!
  2. Put my manuscript away. For a while. Maybe even for a month or two. This story is very personal to me, and I love all my characters. But it's kind of like spending time with your family--you need to see them in small doses or you'll get a little irritated. I don't want my frustration to steer my story in the wrong direction.
  3. Read all the input from my beta readers. Then,
  4. Work on the major suggestions first. Does a character need to be changed? Does a side-plot not work? I know it seems crazy to tackle the huge issues first, but this is how I always did homework. I got history out of the way (boo! hiss!), and then rewarded myself with English.
  5. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I know that this process seems lengthy, but if I want to be serious about the writing business, I definitely need to be serious about revising. What about you all? What's your revising process? What works and what doesn't work? I need all the help I can get!