PitchWars Plan B

I’m a huge fan of contingency plans. In writing, life, menu choices. It’s always good to have a backup plan. Keep your hopes up! Channel that energy somewhere positive! When you find out there’s no Sachertorte, at least Linzertorte is an option!
This weekend, with the PitchWars mentors making their final picks, it’s hard for mentee hopefuls NOT to think about the contest, so instead I decided to devote at least some of my time to thinking about my Plan B for what I’ll do if I don’t get selected, and I came up with the following.
I already know I want to revise this manuscript once more. I haven’t sent out any queries at all yet, and I don’t want to shoot it off too early. It’s close, but it’s still a little jiggly and can use some firming up. While I’m crossing everything that I’ll get to work with one of the fantabulous mentors, I figured it would be a good idea to map out my strategy in case I have to wing it on my own.
I got to thinking about what I might have to change and what’s really important to the story. This in turn got me thinking about what editor extraodinaire, Cheryl Klein, had said at a revision workshop I attended. “You get one thing,” she’d said, “Maybe two.” She was referring to those things that we as writers feel are so important to the manuscript that changing them would endanger the manuscript’s core.
So I started to write down my manuscript’s strengths, and I wrote down two things (being generous to myself) that I’m not willing to change. Luckily for me, these things seem to be what piques people’s interest in my story in the first place, heh heh, so I don’t think I’ll be asked to change them. Still, it was a good exercise.
Then I started to think about my manuscript’s weaknesses, and I wrote down a list of potential changes I’ve been contemplating. Things I feel in my gut that might need work. Things that might hold someone back from falling in love with it. I got some great feedback from writeoncon and from some new writer friends, so I definitely have somewhere to start.
What about you? What’s your Plan B?
Besides Linzertorte. Because Linzertorte.


Sucker Literary Blog Hop

To celebrate the Sucker Literary Volume 3 release, the writers, readers, and friends of those who worked on the volume are participating in a blog hop. A huge shout-out to Justine Manzano for tagging me in the hop!

As a reader, I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed these stories. The creativity in this volume is amazing. You are going to love them!

Sucker 3 purpleBookCoverPreview

As a writer, I’m thrilled to share something about my own writing process. I’ve been enjoying the posts from other bloggers, and can’t wait to read the ones to come. We are all so similar and yet so unique! I’m convinced that even if two of us had the same pitch or story concept that we’d end up with two completely different stories in the end.

What am I working on?
Right now, I’m focusing on my YA LGBT historical that takes place in a cabaret in Berlin in 1930. However, I also have a draft of a short story to get back to, and–as always–several other shiny new ideas percolating. 🙂


How does my work differ from others of its genre?
When I started to look up comp titles, I came across the fantastic mystery for adults. A TRACE OF SMOKE by Rebecca Cantrall takes place in Berlin in 1931, and I absolutely loved it. In spite of the very similar setting, there are many differences from my story of course. Most of all, I wrote mine for a teen audience with two teens as main characters.


Why do I write what I do?
I tend to write what I love, including German literature and history, ballet and yoga, and unique and interesting places and times. I find that I have to make a pretty huge commitment to any of my writing projects, so it’s really got to be something I love for me to want to stick with it.


How does my writing process work?
After brainstorming the who/when/where of the story (setting is hugely important to me), I like to write out a few scenes or chapters if I can before getting an outline down. I love outlining, and am positive my plotting improves with each outline I do, but I also really need a sense of the characters and their stories before deciding where to go with them.

Next up are the three writers I’m tagging! Check them out and get ready for their posts next week!

Charity Tahmaseb has slung corn on the cob for Green Giant and jumped out of airplanes (but not at the same time). She spent twelve years as a Girl Scout and six in the Army; that she wore a green uniform for both may not be a coincidence. These days, she writes fiction (long and short) and works as a technical writer for a software company in St. Paul. Her novel, The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading (written with co-author Darcy Vance), is a YALSA 2012 Popular Paperback pick in the Get Your Geek On category.  Find her on her blog  and on twitter.

Michelle Mason is a full-time writer focusing mainly on middle grade and young adult fiction, with some freelance PR writing and editing on the side. When she’s not reading or writing, Michelle hangs with her husband and two kids, watches too much TV, cross-stitches, bakes amazing brownies, and plays the violin in her church orchestra. Find her on her blog and on twitter.

Julie “J. C.” Phillipps is an author/illustrator who lives in West Hartford, CT with her husband, son, and an anxious cat that licks the fur off its belly.  Her books include Wink: The Ninja Who Wanted to Be Noticed, Monkey Ono, and The Simples Love a Picnic.  Julie has a nice hot cup of cocoa every day while she sits down to work. Find her on her blog and on twitter.

Ready. Set. WRITE!

ready set write button

What I’m Writing (and What Inspires Me):

Anyone who knows me knows I’m kind of always writing. I might take a random week off here or there, but for the most part, I get up crazy-early every morning and use that time for drafting, revising, plotting, or the like.

But things are a little weird right now. I’m querying one novel and had outlined a new one I was planning to work on next. Then one of my critique partners tweeted this:


I knew the answer to this question right away–and not because I was thinking about my freshly-outlined new project. It was a bit like standing at the altar with someone who’d recently swept me away and realizing I couldn’t do this, and more than that, realizing that my heart belonged with my one true love, and OH MY GOD, GET ME OUT OF HERE AND OVER THERE NOW!

Nope, it’s neither my new manuscript nor the one I’m querying, but my previous one–my favorite project ever. This one. It’s had a nice long rest, but I’m not content to let it sit in my drawer anymore.

So, goals: I’m planning on taking it slow, setting the manuscript up as a new project in my pal Scrivener and working through the big-picture issues in my outline to start with. There will probably be lots of Thinking, and I’m not planning to do any actual writing on it until the fall, at which point I plan to do a full rewrite from scratch. This definitely won’t be a quick, fun draft, but all I know is that if I could only write one more story, it would be this.


What I’m Reading:

I just finished THE 5TH WAVE, which is every bit as amazeballs as they say, and I’m continuing my Sci-fi kick now with THESE BROKEN STARS. I already know I’ll be diving back into some historicals after this though, since I just ordered BELLE EPOQUE today, and already can’t wait for it!

What Else I’ve Been Doing:

Preschool ended for my small twins last week, so we’ve already had a flurry of zoo visits, swims, walks, and picnics, all interspersed with tons of books, of course. Much more of the same to come for the rest of the summer!

A Moment in Brightest Midnight

Fun new game! Elodie aka Commuting Girl tagged me in a snippet-sharing blog post. Check out hers here. Definitely makes me curious to read more!

I’m sharing a snippet from my YA sci-fi, Brightest Midnight. The rules were: “Search the words “moment,” “forever,” “time,” or the like in your writing, pick your favorite chunk, post on your blog, and tag others!” I opted for “moment,” but it was a lot of fun looking for all three words.

“Come on, Finn.” I can’t tell if the mounting jitters in my belly are trying to tell me how much I want to see him or avoid him. Either way, I’m used to waiting for him. Keeping busy is the only thing I can do. I climb into the Haukur’s cockpit and prepare for departure by clicking through my pre-flight checklist.

Done. I’m submitting my flight plan to the tower when the buzz of Finnur’s vespu-racer drones closer. A glacial boulder rises up in my throat. I can’t put this moment off any longer. As he parks and turns off his engine, I start the ignition, open the Haukur’s throttle, and inspect the controls. My knees bounce non-stop as I wait for him to join me.

“Hi, Lilja.” He opens the door and climbs into the co-pilot’s seat beside me, his dark blond hair falling over the bridge of his nose. 

That’s it! I’m tagging Michelle, Patty, and Beth. Can’t wait to see a moment in your manuscripts!

Inspired by … travel!


When it comes to brainstorming new story ideas, one of the things that often grabs me strongest is the setting. This probably stems from my passion for travel. My favorite part about traveling besides the food (because FOOD) …


… is the way it makes me notice what the people who live there see every day with fresh eyes. Every little detail is a novelty, and every new corner holds some surprise. Highlighting the right amount of detail in the worlds we create–providing readers with this same sense of novelty we get when we travel–is part of our job as writers.


I’m currently polishing a WIP set in the skies over Iceland. The setting came to me before anything with this story–even before the characters. I’ve only been to Iceland once, but it was enough for the haunting landscape to blow me away with its beauty. I tucked away everything I saw in a corner of my mind and waited for the chance to use it.

In contrast, I just got back from an amazing trip to Spain. My husband is from there, his whole family lives there, and we’ve been there to visit too many times to count. I know, I know, I am soooo lucky! I adore Spain.

But … but … I found that I really had to work much harder to capture those little details in my mind this time. For the first time in all my visits, Spain actually felt like home. I’ve become fluent enough in Spanish that I don’t have the language barrier anymore. I know my way around the family’s neighborhoods in Madrid and Valencia. There are even fewer new foods to try and instead favorite standbys I have to make sure to sample while I can.

Luckily, I realized this. I worked harder and opened my eyes and looked for the details. And of course, they were there. Do you see them too?


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September #Wipmadness Week 4!

It’s hard to believe we began last week with the midpoint of the month and we’ll close this week with the month’s end. This whole month flew by for me, but I ended up hitting my15K new words goal this past weekend! Since I’m on a roll, I’m going for 6K more this week so I can finish up the month with a nice, even 50K total. How are you all doing on your goals?

No mater how you did, I hope you’re still trying. It’s so motivating for me to see your shining faces here each week. We’ve been discussing what inspires us to work on our WIPs this month, and this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about one more great source of inspiration: you all, my #wipmadness writing buddies.

I can’t tell you how much it means to me to share the joys and challenges of the writing life with you all. I’ve read many of your wonderful manuscripts, cheered for you when you got agents (OK, sometimes screamed for you when you got agents!), and gave or gotten virtual hugs at the bumps on the road. Writing may be very solitary, but I definitely need this support network to motivate me as much as I need my WIP to inspire me on its own. So a huge thank-you to all of you!

And on that note, this week’s prize goes to:


Congratulations! Just let me know which book you want: Circle 9 or The Breakup Bible.

Hope you continue to find all kinds of wonderful inspiration–and writing friends–all around you. And best of luck racing to the finish line this last week of September!

Week 3 of #Wipmadness–Halfway There!

Welcome to week 3 of September’s #wipmadness! First off, the #wipmadness prize from the lucky Sox cap last week goes to:


Just let me know which of the remaining books you want (The Forest for the Trees, Circle 9, or The Breakup Bible), and I’ll get it off to you this week.

Who else is surprised that we’re starting week 3 already? I personally can’t believe how fast the days go by when I’m drafting. I managed to hit 10K new words on the WIP this month so far, and should be hitting 40K total on the WIP any day now. Even so, my head’s spinning a little at the thought that we’ve just hit the halfway point of the month. Craziness!

Like a manuscript, the middle point of a writing month can potentially get a little droopy–when you’re well past the inspiration of the beginning and far from the other end of the tunnel. At this auspicious point in the month, I thought I’d share something else that keeps me motivated while drafting: WIP-music.

I’m probably one of the only people I know without an iPod! Am I right? Do you all have one? I haven’t felt the need because we have a cool system set up at home. I buy CDs and then my husband rips and compress them into an OGG-Vorbis fomat, which compresses audio files much smaller than the typical .mp3 or .aiff formats, and then he loads them up on our “Squeeze Box” music server that holds our whole collection.

I treated myself earlier this month to the latest CD by Sigur Rós (Valtari), one of my favorite Icelandic bands.

Part of the reason I’ve loved the Icelandic setting of my WIP so much is because of the music that goes along with it. Sigur Rós and múm are two of my favorite bands, and I’ve been playing their albums pretty much every day for a little extra inspiration. I know some people need silence to write, but I often have to work with other people around me (my teeny desk is in our living room), so I’ve found the extra creativity surge from related music to be just the thing I need to help pull me into the WIP.

Anyone other wipsters find inspiration in WIP-related music? What’s on your playlist for your current WIP?

In the meantime, hope you all made some progress last week and that the coming week treats you well, too!

The Next Big Thing

The Next Big Thing

Thanks to Jaye Robin Brown for tagging me in this fun post! It gives me the chance to talk about the manuscript I’m working on and share that love with some friends. I’m tagging #wipmadness buddies Patrice, JennaWren, and GirlParker!

1. What is the working title of your book? 

Brightest Midnight

2. Where did the idea come from the book?

Ever since visiting Iceland, I’ve wanted to set a book there, so the setting came first. The landscape there is so haunting and natural phenomena so beautiful that I knew what I saw would affect my characters the same way. Plus, I wanted to get them up into the huge sky, complete with its Northern Lights and Midnight Sun.

3. What genre is your book? 

YA futuristic thriller

4. Which actors would you choose to play the characters in a movie? 

Native Icelanders would make the most sense, so probably no one famous. 😉

5. What is a one sentence synopsis of your book? 

Seventeen-year-old Lilja joins the Icelandic Sky Patrol Corporation’s internship program to fly the big skyships, but when she discovers their plans to harness Iceland’s geothermal energy as a powerful weapon, she’s not sure whose help to enlist in stopping them—her old boyfriend on land or her new best friend on the ship.

6. Will your book be self-published or repped by an agency? 

I’m currently seeking rep for my completed ms, and I’m looking for someone to rep all my work.

7. How long did it take you to finish your first draft? 

Still going!

8. What other books would you compare yours to in this genre? 

STARTERS by Lissa Price and the ACROSS THE UNIVERSE series by Beth Revis (though mine takes place in the stratosphere rather than outer space).

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book? 

See my answer to Question 2 above.

10. What else about your book my pique a reader’s interest?

See my manuscript Love List here!

What I Love About My WIP

YA Highway’s Road Trip Wednesday this week asked the question: What is your WIP’s Love List?

The idea for this trip came from Stephanie Perkins, who writes down what she loves about a project when she starts. Check out her list for ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS.

I absolutely love this idea. It’s easy to forget about the initial love for a project when caught up in the challenge of completing a first draft or slogging through endless revisions. I’m personally still in love with my WIP, a futuristic thriller set in Iceland, so coming up with my list was pretty easy. I’m hugging it close now for that day down the road when our trip together gets tougher.

  • Iceland
  • A tough, sassy heroine with super-short hair
  • Northern Lights and huge, gray sky
  • Sigur Rós, Björk, and múm
  • Very cool character names
  • Betrayal and trust
  • Kisses and almost-kisses
  • Skyships and scoot-racers

I hope I’ll have a lot more cool things to add to my love list as I continue drafting. Can’t wait to see all the other love lists out there!