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Archive for September, 2012

Well, I only have a couple more days of indecision. On Friday, the next phase of Gearing Up to Get an Agent starts up. Time to try to get my query in for the Pitch Polish part of the event. And I have to decide which story to send in.

I’m currently querying FIRE AND EARTH, a young adult fantasy.

When her country is invaded, seventeen-year-old Casora loses her battle against the berserker curse she was born with. The curse turns her into an unstoppable warrior, but that’s no use to her family when she must be exiled for the ferocious temper that goes along with it. She turns mercenary while searching for a way to tame the berserker. Hope comes in an unexpected form when she’s sent to rescue the scholarly Prince Tiaran.

The rescue leaves them stranded on the wrong side of the city walls by the besieging army. Now they–and Casora’s mercenary band–are the only ones in a position to stop the invaders. Casora teaches Tiaran how to fight. His special knowledge of the enemy allows them to devise a plan that just might work.

Even with Tiaran’s plan, the odds will be against them, but the situation becomes still more complicated for Casora. Now it’s more personal than defeating the enemy or freeing her people. Tiaran is the only one who’s ever called her curse a blessing or been able to calm her berserker rage. If she has a prayer of finding the serenity to conquer her curse, Casora must decide if she can believe that there’s any future for a battle-scarred warrior and a prince.

But I’m also making some revisions to MAGE STORM, a middle grade fantasy, and getting ready to start querying that one again.

Rell doesn’t want magic. He doesn’t dream of being a hero or a mage out of old legends. Certainly not a mage, after they all incinerated each other at the end of the Great Mage War. He’d just like not to be in his big brother’s shadow for a change. Someone should have reminded Rell to be careful what he wished for.

Mage storms, composed of the ashes of the wizards killed in the War, are the scourge of his world. The embers that fall like rain burn and destroy everything they touch. When he’s caught out in one, Rell is struck by a strange blue cinder that infects him with magic. That’s when the real trouble starts.

His father expects Rell to bring back the useful magic Da remembers from before the war. Rell wants to make his father proud, but his magic responds more to his emotions than his will. He can’t figure out how to make it do what he wants and the frustration only brings out one of its most dangerous aspects: fire.

Blowing apart the cave his family uses to shelter from the mage storms makes it clear that he’s never going to figure this out by himself. The next thing that blows up may be Rell himself, if he can’t find a better way to learn than trial and error. Turns out he’s not the only one–and not every solution to their problem is what it appears to be.

So what do you think? These aren’t posted for critiques at this time. That’s next week.

On another front. I think I’m within sight of typing the end on the first draft of my YA alternate history, THE BARD’S GIFT. Realistically, that one won’t be ready to start querying probably until next summer. But it’ll still feel good to type THE END again. It always does.

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This is a day early, but, well, Sundays and Wednesdays are my usual posting schedule and this way it’ll be up earlier than it would be if I waited until tomorrow to post it.

Mini bio:

Professionally, I’ve been a financial analyst and a visual basic programmer. I also have a paralegal certificate, although I’ve never worked in that field. It’s anybody’s guess what I’ll be when I grow up.

Imagining stories and writing have always been an important part of my life. It’s one I’ve finally gotten to spend a significant amount of time on while I care for my mother who has Alzheimer’s disease.

Questions:

  • Where do you write?

Currently, at my desk in one corner of my bedroom. I have plans eventually to set up a real office space, but can’t do it just yet.

  • Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?

Hah! I cleaned off my desk and actually dusted and polished it last week or the answer to this question would have been different. Right now, there’s a pewter unicorn figurine in that spot.

 

 

  • Favorite time to write?

Hmm. I write on and off all day, but my most productive time is probably late afternoon or early evening.

  • Drink of choice while writing?

Usually water or tea in the morning.

  • When writing, do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?

Complete silence? Where do you find that? And would you want it if you could find it? I think complete silence is a little bit creepy. Usually, I have the tv on as a kind of general background noise. Sometimes, I’ll play instrumental music while doing revisions.

  • What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?

Ah, long story. Let’s see. About two and a half years ago, there was a trigger challenge on Hatrack River Writers Workshop. The trigger was “slave to the flame”. I wrote a fable about a little dragon who outmaneuvered his larger tormentors by learning to breathe fire, but then I didn’t quite know what to do with the fable. (It had an unhappy ending by the way, partly because I couldn’t do anything else in the space allowed for the challenge. Everybody hated that ending. And a lot of readers didn’t really like the fable quality, either.) So, I wrote a framing story about a girl who had the gift of telling the right story for any occasion. I submitted that to a few places without any success. Some readers thought it felt like the beginning of something (a common complaint about my short stories) and I had some ideas about what else might happen to that girl and how she came to be in that position in the first place. So, now I’m writing a young adult alternate history. That original story will be near the end, though. Not the beginning.

Interestingly, to me at least, the manuscript I’m about to revise (a middle grade fantasy) also grew out of a trigger challenge on Hatrack River. The trigger for that one was “Cinders of the Great War”. Maybe I should do more of the challenges.  

  • What’s your most valuable writing tip?

Never give up. Never surrender. There’s going to be plenty of rejection and disappointment along this road. You’ve got to believe in your own writing and your own stories, even when nobody else does. Perseverance is the only way to succeed.

Oh, and find a great critique group. (I have two.)

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