Monday, August 30, 2010

Book Review

Just finished "Writing Great Books for Young Adults" by Regina Brooks.

It was fantastic. Loved the way it was set out. It was really easy to follow with heaps of great advice. I'm getting to that point now where the books I'm reading on how to write well are starting to cross over. The same messages are coming through again and again. I think this is great. It narrows down the spectrum of what I have to learn :)

Ms. Brooks highlights areas of particular note for young adult readers. She has a firm grasp on what interests them and how they can spot a fake.

If you're writing for a YA audience, I can highly recommend this book.

Hope everyone is having a fantastic writing week. I am just waiting to hear back from my critique people then I have one week to make changes and send off my manuscript. EXCITING!!!!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

RWNZ Conference

I have so much to say about this totally cool event. I will update my blog over the next few weeks with the pieces of advice I picked up, but tonight I just wanted to share some personal highlights.

I followed Scott Eagan's advice to be brave and take every opportunity I could get. It paid off.

So - highlights....

- I met heaps of amazing women, one in particular that I made a great connection with. We've agreed to be critique partners.

- I approached the VP of Harlequin, Dianne Moggy, and gave her a casual two line pitch. She gave me her card and asked me to send her editor some chapters.

- I won the raffle prize "Bradford Breakfast" which scored me a 45 minute breakfast with Laura Bradford, Literary Agent. We spent most of the time talking about my current project. She gave me a ton of good advice. At the end I asked her if she'd be interested in seeing some same chapters and she told me to send her my full manuscript! Whoop! Whoop!

- My favorite workshop was a session with some men who specialize in sword fighting and weapons from the 11th -16th Centuries. They happened to sit at my lunch table so I got chatting with them about one of my scenes set in England, 1393. They were so enthusiastic, they took me into a separate room, pulled out all their weapons and walked me through the authentic moves, step-by-step. Plus the leader gave me his cellphone number so I can call with any follow up questions.

- Last totally cool thing (Yes, I'm blowing my own trumpet here, but hey! I'm celebrating!!) During the cold read critique session, Alex Logan, an editor from Grand Central Publishing said she had nothing bad to say about my pages. Talk about your feel gooder!!!

I would love to write more, but am on a deadline for getting this full manuscript to Laura Bradford. I need to edit my work and I want to get it done in three weeks.
I'm going underground until I get it done.

Have fun writing everybody. Will write again soon :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Character Look-a-likes

I am currently reading "Writing Great Books for Young Adults" by Regina Brooks. It's really great. I'll do a full review when I'm finished.

One thing she mentioned was keeping an on-going document about your character, including what they look like. The reader will pick up if the character has blue eyes in chapter one and brown eyes in chapter twenty. I do have on-going documents as I write and I update them as new things crop up, but another thing I do is find pictures that I can refer to. I go for actors and celebrities that look a little like the characters in my head. It works really well. For my current WIP I am using a picture of Alex Pettyfer for my male lead and Megan Fox for my female lead. My characters don't look exactly like these two people, but they are close enough and I find it really helpful when describing expressions and small distinctive features about the characters.

After reading a draft, one of the young test audience members said they thought the main character looked like Alex Pettyfer - awesome :)

I don't use this method for every character in my story, but often for the leads and the frequent secondary characters. Sometimes I can't think of an actor who is similar, so the character remains an image in my head, but I do find it really helpful to have pictures of my characters pasted up around me as I write.

What do you guys do?
How do you get a good mental image of your characters?

Hope everyone has a great week :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My First Chapter

I attended my first chapter meeting on Saturday. It was so much fun!!

It was the Auckland Chapter of the New Zealand Romance Writers Guild. There were about twenty of us and we met at a tennis club in Mt Eden. A couple of the members chatted about their experience at the big RWA conference in Florida. It was so cool hearing what they got up to and who they spoke to.

After that we went around the room and shared where we up to in our writing. I shared my YA trilogy project and they all encouraged me to pitch at the Auckland conference in a couple of weeks. I'm really nervous, but so excited at the same time. I've managed to get it down to a two sentence pitch.

"A time traveling teenager, resigned to a life of servitude and secrecy, finds the courage to break a few rules when the boy she has fallen for wants to be with her. As more and more people find out about their secret affair the stakes get high and she must fight against the people closest to her in order to save the one she loves."

How does that sound?
Any advice is highly appreciated :)

I know the agents will ask more questions from there, but hopefully that hook will be enough to snag their interest.

I'm really looking forward to the conference and can't wait to report back on it.
I'm also really looking forward to my next chapter meeting. It was so fun being in a room with a bunch of other people who have the same dreams I do and actually get how hard writing can be. Making connections isn't as scary as I thought it would be and I can see the benefits of it.

I hope everyone has a great writing week.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Where do you dream?

You know that feeling when a story rises inside you like it has wings. It flies through your system, flashing images into your mind and filling you with a buzz that makes you feel light and happy.

I love that rush. A seed of an idea forming into a coherent story... or even just a new scene for your current WIP that's exciting and fresh.

I had a moment like that the other day. I was packing away some equipment after a pre-school music session with my son. I was the only person in this empty room and could feel the wings of my imagination start to flutter. I smiled. I let myself bask in it for a minute before dragging my feet back to the cacophony of toddlers.

It got me thinking - where does my imagination bloom?
Usually when I'm on my own. An empty room, a shower box, standing in a forest or on hiking trail where no one can see me. I love those places. I love the seclusion and the freedom to let my imagination take flight.

Does anyone else out there get that same feeling?
Where does your imagination bloom?

Hope you have a great week people :)