Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Friday, February 24, 2012

Like Barack Obama Said...It's Time for Change

Blogging Song of the Day: "Change (In the House of Flies)" by Deftones

Yes, we realize we've been MIA lately--Pam's been a little under the weather (by under the weather, I mean her face has been literally GREEN) and I have been playing nurse and trying to keep up with the thousands of other things to do.

With that being said, we realized some things. While cutting out TV, and trying to set aside at least an hour a day to revise, we noticed that we had to squeeze in time to blog, too. And, well, revising and writing are just a smidgen more important than blogging at the moment. SO, we've come to the conclusion that we are going to blog only when we have something to say. No more schedule for us. And when we come back, we're gonna freshen things up a bit with some vlogs every now and then. We know, you can't wait to see our lovely mugs!

Alright then, friends. We'll be around when we want you to know what is on our mind..and of course you can still find us on Twitter and YOUR blogs.

Love your bloggy cousins,

Pam and Quita

** This blog post in no shape or form condones POTUS Barack Obama...we just thought that was a pretty snazzy title :D**

Friday, February 17, 2012

Free Friday: Shall I Compare Thee...

Reading Song of the Day: "Nothing Compares To You" by Sinead O'Conner

It's hard out there for a writer. No, I'm not just channeling the infamous rap lyrics from Terrence Howard's critically acclaimed movie, Hustle and Flow. I'm talking about competitive book titles. Like Pam discussed last Wednesday, there are always books out there that seem similar to your idea...and when you're trying to sell your book you need to know what your competition is.

And that's where I'm at with my book, In Limbo, right now. My awesome agent, Jennie Goloboy, and I are trying to come up with books to compare to my 1918 interracial love story/adventure novel. Who knew that the search would be so hard? So far, I've come up with the following books as comparable titles:

Laurie Halse Anderson's Fever, 1793 (for the epidemic element)

Karen Hesse's A Time of Angels (it's also about the Spanish Influenza in 1918)

Anna Godberson's Bright Young Things (because it's about two teenagers who leave home in search of something more)

But the major thing that these books are missing is a black female protagonist. Hmmm, isn't this a problem that we've been hearing/talking about for a while now in the YA field? I have Pam to thank (my Alpha reader) for giving me this unique edge to my novel b/c, as I've said before, SJ was once white. Since I made that change, it has made it very hard to find a comparable book that is very close to the premise of In Limbo--which is a good thing, but when you're trying to fill in the competition section of your Book Proposal, it's a little frustrating.

With that being said, do you guys think you can help me out? Know of any YA historicals that have a black female protag who falls for a white boy??

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

RTW: Words With Friends

Writing Song of the Day: "More Than Words" by Frankie J

Wednesday: I used to HATE spelling this word in elementary school. I would never get it right. But now, I'm cool with it. Mainly because it means it's Road Trip Wednesday day with the ladies of YA Highway. And guess what we're talking about this week: WORDS!

The Highway-ers wanna know:

What words do you absolutely hate? Which ones do you adore?

As writers,  of course there are several words we adore! As of late these have been our favorites:

Now on to the hate, here are a couple of words that we cannot stand to say/hear:

What about you? What words do you absolutely love and hate?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Changing My Revision to a Re-Vision

Revising Song of the Day: "When Can I See You Again" by Babyface

So last June, Quita and I had the pleasure of attending a novel revision retreat with none other than editor extraordinaire, Cheryl Klein--which we blogged about here. You see, I was there to primarily focus on Wants, but Project J wouldn't stop nagging me. Psst, it kept saying to me, remember how much awesome potential I had?

Remember I did--so now I'm taking a stab at another round of revisions to make it the humorous, yet heartfelt, novel that I know it can be. Not that these revisions are easy (but are ANY revisions?). Sure, I love revisiting the story and characters, but I'm putting WAY too much pressure on myself to make it awesome and shiny and perfect...so much so that I've cried out in despair to both Quita and my lovely agent just like this:

Okay, maybe I wasn't that dramatic, but I was pretty close. So, when we're this overwhelmed with revisions, what can we do to take the proverbial chill pill and just get 'em done? Well, I take to heart something the awesome Cheryl Klein said at the aforementioned retreat:

Try not to think of it as a revision, but a re-vision.

I may not remember the exact wording, but the message still resonates with me. Now I'm asking myself: How else do I see this story? What else can I do to help it reach its full potential?

1. Reread the story (duh). But this time while I was reading, I made notes of the scenes I HAD to keep, and the ones that I could probably do without. The same can be done for characters.

2. Write scenes out of order. I have been a tried and true plotter, starting from Point A to Point B. But for this revision, I'm starting to think of scenes that I would have liked to include in the previous drafts. You know how most DVDs have deleted scenes? And you know how sometimes you're like: why didn't they keep that scene? It kicks ass! Well, that's what I'm doing for Project J--and hopefully these outtakes will find a home in the actual manuscript.

3. Just let the protagonist lead the way. A few weeks ago, I posted about taking personality tests for your characters. After doing so, I "found" Jonah again, and just started letting him speak to me. Sure, that may sound crazy to some, but I'm amongst my brethren here. Hopefully, you all understand what I mean. What he tells me to write may hit the cutting room floor, but get it down on paper first, weed it out later. That's how a re-vision should be.

So, despite the initial panic, I think I'm slowly but surely finding my groove with this revision. I've come to terms that while the overall story may stay the same, the way I get there may be different. And I'm okay with that.

So, do you all have any revision tips you'd be willing to share?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Free Friday: The Movie We WISH We Created

Viewing Song of the Day: "Movies" by Alien Ant Farm

Another Free Friday post, you guys! That means two things: 1.) The weekend is among us, and 2.) At midnight we can FINALLY get The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 on DVD...

But before I begin my swoon fest over Mr. Pattinson, we want to share with you the movie that has been on our mind ever since we saw it last weekend--that movie would be Chronicle.

Our review? Here it is in a just a few, simple words:


This movie is amazing. Full of all of the wonderful things that makes a movie work: good story, great characters that the viewer can relate to, a villain that you love and understand, an unlikely hero, visual goodies, action, and heart. I mean, what more can you ask for?

Chronicle had us excited and envious at the same time. Days after watching it we can't stop repeating: Man, we wish we wrote this story!!!

So, for those of you who have not seen this masterpiece, check out a clip below.

Oh, and this weekend we may be seeing The Vow. Why? Two words: Channing. Tatum. 'Nuff said :)

What are your plans this weekend? Hope you have seeing Chronicle high on that list!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

B*&%@ Stole My Story!

Writing Song of the Day: "Stolen" by Dashboard Confessional

Okay, it's Wednesday--one of my favorite days of the week because we get to join the lovely ladies of YA Highway for another Road Trip Wednesday! This week, they want to know:

What SNI were you psyched to work on, but discovered it was too close to something already done?

Those gals sure know how to ask the hard-hitting questions. I may have mentioned once or twice on this blog how I'm just a LITTLE (see the irony?) obsessed with checking out the deals on Publishers Marketplace. There have been a handful of moments where I cringe and say: "Wait a minute, that sounds familiar..." In fact, Quita just purchased a book that slightly reminds me of Project J (*shakes fist at Quita*).

Alas, I'll focus on the story that Quita and I were supposed to write together. About a year and a half ago, Inception blew our minds. So much so, we were inspired to co-author a novel that would blow other people's minds. But then, we started noticing a trend in the marketplace. Almost every book in the YA section was dystopian. Almost every new deal was a dystopian novel. And then in several interviews and panels with agents and editors, they said they were a little tired of seeing a certain type of submission. I think you know where we're going with this one.

So Quita and I have decided to step away from this project...or at least temporarily. We're trying to think of a unique way to allow our baby to stand out in a saturated, yet AWESOME, marketplace. We're trying to think of a way to make it less dystopian-y (like my new adjective?), and more BAD ASS.

What about you all? Ever have your dreams ripped out of your hands? Or something slightly less dramatic?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Eli Manning and Writing

Winning Song of the Day: "Champion" by B.O.B

If you didn't know, Pam is a HUGE Giants fan, which makes me one by default :) My 49ers almost made it to the Superbowl, but were foiled by the mighty Giants...but I digress.

Anyway, all we wanted to point out in today's post is how Eli Manning and the 4th quarter (and of course we can't forget Mario Manningham) reminded us a lot of writing. Not that Manning and the Giants didn't try during the 1st-3rd quarters, but the 4th quarter was what it all came down to. And that's what we're dealing with as writers. The first few drafts that we write are not perfect, and will not get us book deals, but we're still putting forth an effort. However, when we know it's crunch time and we have to put our forth our best effort, that's usually when the final draft (or at least the almost final draft) emerges. So, here's to Eli and the Giants for giving us yet another metaphor for writing! GO GIANTS!!!!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Free Friday: No Name Calling Week and CRACKED by KM Walton

Reading Song of the Day: "Skyscraper" by Demi Lovato

Confession: I feel guilty about two things. First, that I gave this post an incredibly wordy title. And second, that Quita and I failed to mention an important event last week. You see, January 23-27 was No Name-Calling Week, an event aimed at middle schoolers that encourages them to refrain from tossing insults at each other.

It's rare that I collide my day job onto the blog, but I felt this one was worth mentioning. In honor of No Name-Calling Week, my students created their own inspiring poetry that I read over the morning announcements. Also, I asked them all to sign a No Name-Calling Week Pledge. Granted, not every student HAD to sign, so I was pretty impressed by the outcome:

During the week, I also finally read Cracked by KM Walton (which was on my 2012 Debut Author Challenge list), a story told in dual POVs--from the bully and his victim. Yes, KM's my agent-sister (Team LaPolla rules!), but NO, I'm not recommending this book because I'm biased. I'm saying you should read this book:

Because it gives you an uncensored view of bullying and high school

Because it doesn't condescend to the readers and stuff your face with morals

Because it makes you empathize for the victim AND the bully

Because despite all of the heartache, it'll leave you with hope

And in perfect timing, I just won a grant in which I'll be able to buy MORE books for my school that'll take on bullying headfirst. In addition to Cracked, here are some other books that I'm considering:

What about you all? Read any powerful books about bullying? Has a book ever helped you out of a bad situation?