Monday, August 3, 2015

Premiere Critique Slot Now Open

I'm opening a Premiere Critique Slot for August -- first come, first served.


  • Detailed line edit of your first 75 pages
  • Editorial letter
  • $260
  • Guaranteed 1-week turnaround
Please email me at authoress.edits(at)gmail.com if you are interested in this critique slot!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Fricassee

Hello, tribe!

Thanks to those of you who left feedback for our Tense Change Challenge this week.  Admittedly, response was pretty low.  It's a busy time, though -- lots of people on vacation and whatnot.  Still, I wish the participating authors had received more feedback.  If we do this again, I promise not to schedule it during prime vacation month!

Here's my question of the day:  WHY--and I seriously mean WHY--do you think our characters feel SO VERY REAL to us while we write?

I know it's universal among writers.  We all feel a strong connection to our characters, and they evoke real emotions in us (and hopefully for our readers).  But WHY?  Why is it SO VERY PRONOUNCED?

I am revising something right now that's been a part of my life for years, and has undergone some big-time changes.  But the characters have remained who they always have been, and I LOVE THEM SO MUCH.  It's almost a physical ache.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!  The comment box is open--come on in and grab a cup of coffee or a cold drink.  I know you've got a few things to say about this!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Happy Addendum to One of Our Success Stories!

I'm delighted to bring you this story from BOTH points of view -- author and agent!

I posted Alexandra's original success story in January.  Here's the happy update from Alexandra Ballard and Kent D. Wolf:

FROM ALEXANDRA:

I have some great news to share with you! As you know, back in December I had the good fortune to be a part of the Baker’s Dozen auction. Through that contest I “won” my amazing agent Kent Wolf, who spent the winter helping me revise my YA novel and prepare it for submission. We sent The Art of Losing out to publishers at the end of May, and three weeks later we sold it, at auction, in a two-book deal to Joy Peskin at FSG (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux), with a release date of winter, 2017. It has all been so exciting and I am so grateful to you, Authoress, for everything that you do for writers. It is so great to know that we have someone like you out there, helping to make stories like mine possible.

FROM KENT:

From the moment I read Alexandra's entry I knew that her novel was going to be something special. The voice, the writing--IT WAS THERE. I felt it in my agent DNA. It's rare for me to have that kind of instant reaction so come auction day I was chomping at the bit. However, just minutes before the start of bidding my computer froze! By the time I rebooted the manuscript had been won. Not only did I have to wait a week to see Alexandra's novel, but I had to suffer through the agent trash talking. OMG THE TRASH TALKING! My Twitter account almost withered and died.

Long story short, I finally got my grubby paws on the book, read it, fell in love, wooed Alexandra, and fended off the trash talkers. But here's the best part: not only did Alexandra trust my editorial suggestions, she turned around a MAJOR revision within weeks and knocked it out of the park her first try. She makes it look so easy. I'm pleased as punch that she's found a home with Joy Peskin at FSG. And thank you Authoress for bringing us together!!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Tense Change Challenge -- How It Works

Here we go!

Six excerpts, written in 2 different tenses, have posted.  Read both versions of each, and share your thoughts about which tense you feel works better for the story--and why.

For each excerpt, the author's original tense is first, followed by my rewritten version in the tense of the author's choice.  I have taken the liberty to correct punctuation and paragraph breaks in my edited versions, but have not changed the author's words in any substantial way, other than to change the verb tense.

Have fun!  This was certainly fun on my end (call me quirky, but I like playing with verbs).

ENTRANTS:  Please take the time to leave feedback on at least 2 of the other entries, as your way of giving back.

Go to it!

Tense Change Challenge #6

TITLE: Crazy in Love
GENRE: YA Contemporary

This is the first 250 words - POV alternates between Jamie and Molly.

THIRD PERSON PAST (original):

The lass was flat on her back and passed out on drugs. Jamie McDonald tried to sneak a peek at her, the sheet covering her had moved to hide her face. All he could see was her long locks of curly brown hair. The ambulance technicians rolled her stretcher down the women’s corridor on Ward Eight. I wonder if she’s my age.

Jamie’s heart pounded at the thought of someone new. Anyone new would be a distraction from the mundane days at this hospital. Please, be my age. Maybe I can finally make a friend here. He dashed over to Nurses’ Station pushing past Nigel and Ronnie on the way. Rose, the charge nurse, was behind the desk. Jamie drummed a random beat on the desk faster than a band playingWipeout. Rose glared at his hands and he stuffed them in his pockets. I better calm down or they’ll try to sedate me. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Hullo,” Jamie said to Rose, trying to be casual, “Who’s the new patient?” At first, Rose didn’t say anything and Jamie could guess why. She’s always going on about patient confidentiality. And she knows I’ve tried this before.

But he was wrong. “I’m glad you stopped by, Jamie. Our new patient, Molly, is a wee bit younger than you. This is her first time in hospital. I was thinking of asking you to be her guide."

FIRST PERSON PAST:

The lass was flat on her back and passed out on drugs. I tried to sneak a peek at her; the sheet covering her had moved to hide her face. All I could see was her long locks of curly brown hair. The ambulance technicians rolled her stretcher down the women’s corridor on Ward Eight. I wondered if she was my age.

My heart pounded at the thought of someone new. Anyone new would be a distraction from the mundane days at this hospital. Please, be my age. Maybe I could finally make a friend here.

I dashed over to Nurses’ Station, pushing past Nigel and Ronnie on the way. Rose, the charge nurse, was behind the desk. I drummed a random beat on the desk faster than a band playing Wipeout. Rose glared at my hands, and I stuffed them into my pockets. I'd better calm down or they’ll try to sedate me.

I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Hullo,” I said, trying to be casual, “Who’s the new patient?”

At first, Rose didn’t say anything, and I guessed why. She was always going on about patient confidentiality. And I’d tried this before.

But I was wrong.

“I’m glad you stopped by, Jamie," Rose said.  "Our new patient Molly is a wee bit younger than you. This is her first time in hospital. I was thinking of asking you to be her guide."

Tense Change Challenge #5

I originally wrote this ms in first person past tense, then switched to present tense. But I’m not sure, especially for middle grade, if present tense is a good idea. Or even first person.

TITLE: THE SECRET AT SEACHASE
GENRE: MG MYSTERY

Thirteen-year-old Ellie McCoy has just learned that some of the foreign snow cone vendors at the island’s adventure park are victims of a labor trafficking scheme. The boss has taken notice of Ellie’s meddling, and has made plans to export the undocumented workers before his crime is discovered.

FIRST PERSON PRESENT (original):

Sonia stumbles through the open door into the building. Natalia jumps up to catch Sonia before she falls.

In the doorway, Mr. Misaros’ smooth scalp glows yellow from the outside fixture. “Natalia. Good. Nobody at the apartment knew where I could find you.”

Natalia wraps an arm around Sonia and backs into me, pinning my head against the wall. My first impulse is to struggle. But then I relax. If I’m hidden, Dad won’t find out that I came here tonight.

Mr. Misaros says something to the girls. I don’t understand a word. Bulgarian, I guess. He ducks out and slams the door behind him. On the outside of the ice house, metal scrapes against metal.

“What was that about?” I whisper.

Sonia slumps against one of the snow cone carts.

“Mr. Lukas coming tonight. He take us away.” Natalia picks the pizza up off the floor and tosses it into the box.

“Why?” I ask.

“You ask too many questions.”

“No, I don’t. Where will he take you?”

“Anywhere he wants. Nobody will look for us.” Her face is more unsmiling than ever.

“I would.”

“How? You think you’ll get away?”

“I don’t work for Mr. Misaros.”

“Didn’t you hear him bolt the door? We’re locked in,” Natalia says.

I hold my hands out. “But my dad’s going to start looking for me. I have to go. I left my dog outside alone. I don’t want to get in trouble.”

“Ha,” Natalia says.

THIRD PERSON PAST:

Sonia stumbled through the open door into the building. Natalia jumped up to catch Sonia before she fell.

In the doorway, Mr. Misaros’s smooth scalp glowed yellow from the outside fixture. “Natalia. Good. Nobody at the apartment knew where I could find you.”

Natalia wrapped an arm around Sonia and backed into Ellie, pinning her head against the wall. Ellie's first impulse was to struggle. But then she relaxed. If she stayed hidden, Dad wouldn’t find out that she came here tonight.

Mr. Misaros said something to the girls. Ellie didn't understand a word. Bulgarian, she guessed. He ducked out and slammed the door behind him. On the outside of the ice house, metal scraped against metal.

“What was that about?” Ellie whispered.

Sonia slumped against one of the snow cone carts.

“Mr. Lukas coming tonight. He take us away.” Natalia picked the pizza up off the floor and tossed it into the box.

“Why?” I asked.

“You ask too many questions.”

“No, I don’t. Where will he take you?”

“Anywhere he wants. Nobody will look for us.” Her face was more unsmiling than ever.

“I would.”

“How? You think you’ll get away?”

“I don’t work for Mr. Misaros.”

“Didn’t you hear him bolt the door? We’re locked in,” Natalia said.

Ellie held her hands out. “But my dad’s going to start looking for me. I have to go. I left my dog outside alone. I don’t want to get in trouble.”

“Ha,” Natalia said.

Tense Change Challenge #4

TITLE: NEVERMORE
GENRE: YA magical realism

THIRD PERSON PRESENT (original):

Corbel soars on black wings above the crowded streets, so high up the people look like insects scurrying through the downpour, umbrellas obscuring their myopic views, like blinders on a horse. If only they’d look up and see the wonder of a winged boy. No one glances at him and his wings beat against the rain, water beads off his massive wings, his feather oil keeps them and him dry in even the most horrendous storms. Zipping in and around, catching air currents and floating, his face the only part of him wet, he relishes the tingle of the stinging rain on his cheeks, his skin. A thousand needles prick his body with pain and he relishes every drop, every sharp stab. He feels alive when he’s flying.

A faint cry echoes through his soul from below and it’s her voice. Faint. So faint. So lovely in its tones. In a different time and place he’d describe it as lilting, the voice of a fairy sending him into a dreamlike state. It reverberates through him. It calls him to spiral downward and down until his wings beat with furious abandon in the unrelenting storm above the street but unseen. A crack of booming thunder followed by the sharp sulfuric scent of a lightning bolt close by lights up the dark sky and in that moment he sees her illuminated below him.

FIRST PERSON PRESENT:

I soar on black wings above the crowded streets, so high up the people look like insects scurrying through the downpour, umbrellas obscuring their myopic views, like blinders on a horse. If only they’d look up and see the wonder of a winged boy. No one glances at me, and my massive wings beat against the rain, water beading off them.  My feather oil keeps them and me dry in even the most horrendous storms.

Zipping in and around, catching air currents and floating, my face the only part of me wet, I relish the tingle of the stinging rain on my cheeks, my skin. A thousand needles prick my body with pain, and I relish every drop, every sharp stab. I feel alive when I'm flying.

A faint cry echoes through my soul from below, and it’s her voice. Faint. So faint. So lovely in its tones. In a different time and place I’d describe it as lilting, the voice of a fairy sending me into a dreamlike state. It reverberates through me. It calls me to spiral downward and down until my wings beat with furious abandon in the unrelenting storm above the street, but unseen. A crack of booming thunder followed by the sharp sulfuric scent of a lightning bolt close by lights up the dark sky, and in that moment I see her illuminated below me.

Tense Change Challenge #3

TITLE: ISLAND SHADOWS
GENRE: YA Contemporary

With the aid of a local boy, sixteen-year-old Tess finally trespasses onto a private river island to explore an abandoned castle that has inspired her love of architecture since childhood. Unfortunately, the castle isn't how she imagined it.

FIRST PERSON PAST (original):

We mounted the castle steps, two at a time, careful to avoid crumbling patches of stone. A giant wooden door swollen with age stuck on its frame, but after a few shoulder jabs, Ryan pushed it ajar. We passed through an entry hall and arrived in the center of a vast great room. Digging through Ryan’s backpack for a flashlight, I panned the light. The room was empty except for a skeleton of a grand staircase dominating the center. A feeling like disappointment knocked around inside my chest. I ignored it. The bones of the castle were strong, even if nothing else was.

My gaze drifted upward where four levels of balconies towered above us. In the center of the ceiling, a few hundred feet up, shards of light slipped past a dusty stained glass dome. Pointing the glow from the flashlight upward, I shrieked when something warm flapped against my ear. My hands shot to my face and the flashlight clattered to the marble floor. “It’s a bat—just a bat,” he said, his hands brushing the tops of my shoulders. “You spooked it.”

I slumped down on a giant marble step, trying to slow my pulse. Something was off. I started to think about the stories Tommy, Ashlyn and Katie had shared around the bonfire, wondering if they were true. Then I told myself to stop; those stories were ridiculous. Ryan scooped up the batteries and the flashlight and sat down beside me, beginning to reassemble the pieces.

FIRST PERSON PRESENT:

We mount the castle steps two at a time, careful to avoid crumbling patches of stone. A giant wooden door, swollen with age, sticks on its frame, but after a few shoulder jabs, Ryan pushes it ajar. We pass through an entry hall and arrive in the center of a vast great room.

Digging through Ryan’s backpack for a flashlight, I pan the light. The room is empty except for a skeleton of a grand staircase dominating the center. A feeling like disappointment knocks around inside my chest. I ignore it. The bones of the castle are strong, even if nothing else is.

My gaze drifts upward, where four levels of balconies tower above us. In the center of the ceiling, a few hundred feet up, shards of light slip past a dusty, stained-glass dome. Pointing the glow from the flashlight upward, I shriek when something warm flaps against my ear. My hands shoot to my face and the flashlight clatters to the marble floor.

“It’s a bat—just a bat,” Ryan says, his hands brushing the tops of my shoulders. “You spooked it.”

I slump down on a giant marble step, trying to slow my pulse. Something is off. I start to think about the stories Tommy, Ashlyn, and Katie shared around the bonfire, wondering if they were true. Then I tell myself to stop; those stories are ridiculous.

Ryan scoops up the batteries and the flashlight and sits down beside me, beginning to reassemble the pieces.