April 23, 2012

Why I Adore Alecia Whitaker

I went to the KY Writers Conference last weekend- headed down to Bowling Green on Thursday night and came back Saturday morning. I had these really huge plans-
  • Thursday night: Finish my synopsis!
  • Friday night: Get to 10,000 words on my WIP!
*snort*

In reality....
  • Thursday night: stared blankly at synopsis, closed it down, watched The Vampire Diaries instead.
  • Friday night: OK. What I did Friday night will be described below. But it was not writing. I DID write about 300 words on my synopsis Friday afternoon though, so it wasn't a complete failure.
If you follow me on Twitter (and again, if you don't- you should. I'm HILARIOUS.) then you know that I'm still working on the synopsis. There is daily whining about the state of the synopsis. (See? You know you want to follow  me! Who wants to miss out on whining??)

SO anyway- the point of the post- On Friday, I attended a session called The Real Queen of Kentucky, led by the author of The Queen of Kentucky, Alecia Whitaker.

Alright. Before I even went to this, I already thought Alecia Whitaker was fantastic. I mean, she's from Kentucky so that's like....8,000 cool points right there. (That's right. 8,000.) And THEN, she wrote a YA contemporary set in rural Kentucky that shows that KY kids are just NORMAL, KIDS--who wear shoes, speak English, and have all their teeth. (I get so annoyed with this whole Kentucky hillbilly image that is portrayed everywhere.) Plus the cover is friggin gorgeous. Look!
Anyway- Alecia did a quick reading from her book--just a few sections to give us a little intro to the characters--and that did it. I LOVE HER. She was fantastic. The personality she brought to the reading was outstanding, and totally made me fall in love with the main character right away. I think reading aloud from your own book has to be hard. Alecia rocked it.

After she talked about the book, she also told us about creating the book trailer. She cast the entire thing on Facebook, calling on kids who'd participated in the KY Governor's School for the Arts program (because she did GSA when she was in high school, and she was paying it forward and all that). So high school GSA kids directed and shot the whole thing. And it's amazing. Here it is:



*sigh* Don't you love it? Don't you want to read it?

I'd chatted with Alecia on Twitter before, but this was the first time I'd met her. During the session, she kept randomly staring at me. So afterward- we did this:

Alecia: Do I know you?
Me: I'm Megan. We talk on Twitter.
Alecia: MEGAN! *hugs* I knew you looked familiar! I bet you were like, Why is she staring at me?
Me: Well, I'm just so pretty.

WHY ON EARTH DO I SAY THINGS LIKE THAT???

Alecia: You GLAMOURED me! I couldn't think straight!

BUT SEE? SHE TOTALLY DIDN'T MIND THAT I SAY STUPID THINGS!

SO that was that.

And then that night, I DM-ed her and said, "Uh, is it weird to ask if you have plans for dinner?" To which she responded, "I was just looking up movie times to see if you wanted to go to one."

See? We're in love, people.

Ok not really. But isn't she the nicest person?? I mean, how many authors are gonna be like- "Sure, random Twitter follower who obviously has a ridiculously huge ego, I'll hang out with you. Alone. In your car." ??? She ROCKS!

We went to see Mirror, Mirror (meh) and ate Fazolis (yay!) at 10:00pm. And we talked agents and authors and queries and outlines and it was all kinds of fabulous. It was also a nice reminder that authors are just people. I mean, I know that. It's not like I thought Alecia Whitaker walked on water or anything. (Seriously. I didn't.) But, you know, I've met authors in the past who were....less than approachable. And were a little like, "I'm an AUTHOR. You are a FAN. We are on DIFFERENT LEVELS."

Ok. I'm wrapping this insanely long post up with a quick note- Go follow Alecia on Twitter (@aleciawhitaker). Go buy her book (I'd link to Amazon, but I've decided that it hurts my soul to do that.) Go check out her web site (www.aleciawhitaker.com). And if you ever get a chance to meet her, say hi. You'll love her. Then come tell me about it so we can gush about her fabulousness.



April 17, 2012

Writing Contests- Dealing with Critique

Writing contests are SO FANTASTIC, y’all.

(I know I’m from Kentucky. I almost NEVER say “y’all.” I just need to make that clear.)

Contests are a great opportunity to get your work out there and have other eyes look at it. Usually contests involve agents- and in many cases, the agent will comment on every single entry so you’ll know what s/he did or didn’t like. You’ll also get comments from everyone else who reads that particular blog.

I know it’s terrifying to think of people actually reading your stuff. I. Know. But you have to get feedback to know what works and what sucks.

Having said that- here’s what I’ve learned from the few contests I’ve been in- my friend Maggie referred to it as a case of “too many cooks in the kitchen.”

My friend Maggie is SO SMART, y’all.

(I know. I did it again. It just seems like the right word.)

Remember that post I did about subjectivity? You have to keep it in mind when you’re taking feedback.

Some of the feedback will be legit—and especially if you are getting the same comments over and over, you probably need to address it. That doesn’t necessarily mean to CHANGE your work. But maybe you need to make things more clear if what you’re trying to convey is not what the reader is getting.

And some feedback will be, as my friend Leigh Ann says- “Nitpicky Nitpickiness.” It seems like some people NEED to find something wrong to prove they can offer critique. I get that. I think it’s weird, but I have to admit there’ve been times when I’ve felt that pressure too. Like, people will think I’m….what? Soft? I don’t know. I’m a hardcore writer, yo.

For instance, in my first 250 words, my MC Harper comes home to find her mom in the midst of one of her infamous cleaning fits. A cleaning fit can only mean one thing- something MAJOR has happened. So before she even goes into the house, Harper texts her brother Sam and is like- “GET HOME NOW.”

I’ve had a lot of people love it. I’ve had a lot of people hate it.

And I’ve had one person tell me that this is just not how teenagers would act. S/he said that it’d be more realistic if Harper texted Sam to say- “Come get me out of here.”

Well, no. That wouldn’t make sense at all. But that person doesn’t know Harper. S/he has no idea that Harper would just NEVER do that.

Which leads me to my next point- from my friend Jenny- “You know your story, you know your characters. Hold to that.”

Don’t I have smart friends?

You can’t address EVERY SINGLE critique. And you’ll want to. You’ll want EVERYONE to love your work. That’s normal. You can’t please everyone. You’ll go crazy trying.

So now that I’ve given ALL MY INFINITE WISDOM on writing contests….here’s a list of sites where you can find some great ones!



Ruth Lauren Steven (She has a contest this month- Entry window opens TOMORROW. Not sure if she'll be doing contests every month, but wanted you guys to know about this one!)





April 15, 2012

Subjective. It's all SO subjective.

sub·jec·tive

adj \(ˌ)səb-ˈjek-tiv\

a (1): peculiar to a particular individual : personal;subjective judgments; (2): modified or affected by personal views, experience, or background subjective account of the incident;


So. If you've been querying any amount of time, you've probably gotten at least one of these:


"Thank you for the chance to review your work. Unfortunately, this is not a good fit for me. Please keep in mind that this is all very subjective, and what isn't right for one agent may be right for another."*


*actual rejection

Subjective. It's like, an agent's favorite word. And I get it- I really do. Just like some people loved Twilight and some hated it. Or some people were Team Edward and some people thought Edward was a total creep. (Uh, how could you EVER be Team Jacob? Seriously? Eeeeedwaaaaaard.)

Anyway. I understand. But it's still frustrating, right?

This month, I entered two contests.

I won one of them. WON. I don't win, ever. EVER. I'm going to repeat and capitalize every last word. WORD.
 
But the other one- well, results aren't posted but it’s pretty obvious I won’t win. In fact, there weren't many entries where the agent said, "You should redo this," but....s/he did say that about mine. It was pretty obvious from the agent's comments that s/he just didn't get what I was trying to do.
 
Going back to the other contest that I won- that agent TOTALLY got what I was trying to do. I mean, she loved the "Granny-cleaning" thing and how just using the term demonstrated- "EMERGENCY." When I read her comments, I was like- YES! Exactly!
 
Two different agents. Exact same entry- first 250 words. One liked it so much she requested a partial. The other one disliked it so much s/he said to rethink it.

And I WANT to say- "BUT, you've only read the first 250 words! A lot of the issues you have a problem with are better explained in the NEXT 250 words!"

But you know what? The first 250 words is generally all an agent looks at (if they even look at that much) when they make the decision to reject your query or request pages.

And that. just. kills me.

There's no point to this post, other than to try and give myself some perspective. It really is subjective. I know that. It's just not a helpful word. Telling me it's "subjective," doesn't tell me how to make you love it, right?


April 5, 2012

Lucky Seven Meme

Hi all! So, remember I said I would post about plotting? I still will. It's coming. I promise.

BUT the lovely Stefanie tagged me for the Lucky Seven thing that's going around on ye ol' writing blogs lately. Have you seen it? It's a fun glimpse into other people's work. Head on over to Stefanie's blog to see hers.

You back? Good. Happy you made it. Wasn't hers cool?

Rules for The Lucky Seven Meme

  • Go to page 77 in your current MS/WIP
  • Go to line 7
  • Copy down the next 7 lines--sentences or paragraphs--and post them as they're written. No cheating.
  • Tag 7 authors.
  • Let them know.

I'm using my MS, In The Between- although I have a disclaimer at the end.

Here goes!
***************************************************

He lifted his head in the direction of Artedion for a moment. "Seth will give you those answers." He bent his arm and lifted his palm as though he were beckoning someone to join us. Seth materialized a few feet from Joe's outstretched branches.

"You called?" Seth asked.

Alexander looked down his nose at Seth. "Tell her," he growled. "Now."

***************************************************

Hmm. So page 77 lines 7-14 are not all that exciting. But if you'd read my book, you'd know that whenever Seth shows up, it's good times.

And the 7 ladies I'm tagging are....

Leigh Ann
Gina
Jenny
Marnee
Angi
Jani
Kat

If you don't have 77 pages of whatever you're working on, just cheat like Stef did. :)

April 1, 2012

Changing Things Around...

So. I thought my blog looked a little, "Meh..." and I decided to do something about it.

Because that's what I do, people. I see a problem and I FIX IT. I would NEVER just sit around and whine until my husband fixes it for me. That is not me at ALL.

(That is so me. Particularly if spiders are involved.)

But anyway- what do you think? The title up there kinda bugs me....but I'm too tired at this point to dig through the web to find out how to fix it. It took about an hour to figure out how to center the page elements in the side bar, so I'm not up to tackling the title right now.

I'm planning to add some pages, like an About Me page as well as info pages about my completed novel and WIPs.

So anyway- just wanted to give you a heads up that you might see something new every time you visit my page in the next few weeks. Be ready. It might get CRAZY.

On a side note- if you follow me on Twitter, (and if you don't, what's wrong with you? ) you might have caught my tweets about plotting today. I PLOTTED, people. With INDEX CARDS. On a BULLETIN BOARD. Isn't everything more DRAMATIC in CAPS?

I will take a picture and do a post about this later this week, because....let me tell you, I was a die-hard pantser. (For my nonwriting friends, that's what we call people who don't plan out the details of their plots before they start writing. There are plotters, and then there are those of us who fly by the seat of our pants = pantsers. Don't you feel all "in the know" now?) But I read a book that changed my life, from a writing perspective at least, and showed me that plotting doesn't have to take all the fun out of it.

So, look for that post this week!