Friday, April 27, 2012

Good Fridays - Let's Clean House!

As I work with improving my blog schedule, I thought I'd resurrect Good Fridays. It's my end-of-week blog spotlight of something good that I've either accomplished or discovered. Anybody can have a Good Friday item, even if it's just that the work week is over! 

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Today mine is cleaning house. Bear with me. I don't like housework. It's something I do because it's necessary (especially after neglecting it in favor of other things). But cleaning house leaves you with a sense of accomplishment. It's something you can set your eyes on and say "I did that! And look how nice it looks!"

This is really good for writers and artists because sometimes we chase our tails around an idea, only to end up scrapping the whole thing later. Then we feel like the hours we spent on it didn't bear any fruit because we have nothing to show for it - except maybe a pile of crumpled papers.

Cleaning house is cathartic. When you get into a cleaning spree, you can lose yourself for awhile and free your mind. This helps jumbled up thoughts get flowing again.

So, what's your Good Fridays item?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Horror of the One-Sentence Summary

I won't keep you in the dark! I'm still busy, but I wanted to give you all a post - as well as a great prompt that's keeping with what I've been doing lately. When I submitted to Strange Chemistry, they asked for a one-sentence summary of my novel. Yes, you heard right. One sentence to summarize a 77k piece of work.

Some of you are already familiar with these summaries (or loglines), and might've written them before. For those who haven't, it's not as easy as it seems. In fact, I was pulling my hair out over it. It was harder to pack my story into that one sentence than it was to write entire the book itself! I didn't know if I was supposed to simply tell what happens in the book or make it into a hook that isn't specific, but gets you interested. So I went to Google and I found this very helpful blog post by Melissa Dean at her blog The Guardian Writer.

This is the log line I eventually decided on:

While trying to escape an arranged marriage, Lividia Blackwell struggles to uncover the mysteries of her childhood only to discover a world of dreams, secrets, and dangerous fae.

What about you? Does your book have a logline? 

Friday, April 20, 2012

YA Open Door Opportunity from Strange Chemistry Publishing!


In case you didn't know, now you know! Strange Chemistry - an imprint of Angry Robot publishing (a UK publisher) - is having an Open Door for submissions until April 30th. So, spiffy-up your YA MS (because Strange Chemistry only takes YA fantasy/sci fi) and submit! Be sure to follow their submission guidelines to a T or you won't be considered. Good luck, people! And let me know if you get signed!

Any followers of the Operation Awesome blog probably already know about this opportunity, but I thought I'd share it with those who don't. And if you don't follow Operation Awesome, you should!

Ten days and counting!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

This Cake is no Lie

I had an amazing birthday celebration this past weekend. I had lemon cake with lemon frosting. My older sis bought me a vintage Gonzo beanbag doll from 1981 that used to be my favorite toy as a child. Younger sis got me coffee-flavored chocolates. Mom did more than I can put down here without embarrassing her. Brother dropped in for a surprise visit. My bro-in-law grilled out. Thursday I'm planning on finally going to see Hunger Games in the theater with both sisters. My family is full of so much win that I can't describe it.

Monday (my real birthday) brought me a job opportunity. And only an hour to fill out and turn in the application. Older sister used her magical skills to keep me from panic-scribbling all over it and I got it in on time - and decipherable. Interviews are later this month and next. Wish me luck!

Tuesday I discovered Strange Chemistry's Open Door 2012. They're accepting submissions of sci-fi and fantasy YA until the end of the month. So, as soon as I get off this blog I'll probably get on that. If you write sci-fi/fantasy YA, you should give it a look.

I have another deadline for the end of the month, and I'm still putting out freelance feelers. So, if I get scarce on this blog (which I likely will) and stop doing blog hops for awhile, this is why. I love this blog, but I don't want to feel obligated to it to the point that I ignore greater responsibilities.

The blog is taking a backseat, and my blogroll is going to have to wait. I'm on the verge of breaking into something - whether it's the new job or something bigger - and I'll let you all know when I do. I appreciate all your support and I thank you ahead of time for any comments you leave. I really do love when you leave them!

So, stay tuned for sporadic postings, and really really good news.


Friday, April 13, 2012

The Story of the Sea Heart

This week's been a little stressful, a little all over the place, and full of plans to keep myself above water. The other night while I was google-surfing plants for world-building, I came across a beautiful seed with an amazing story. To see the website with the full story and pictures, Click Here.

www.seaheart.com
The seed of the Sea Heart (or Entada Giga - gigantic seed) is born high in the boughs of the Amazon jungle from seed pods that resemble very large, coiled peapods. The Sea Hearts themselves are a deep rich mahogany color and heart-shaped. They range from as small as a buckeye to as large as a hamburger bun.

Why they're called 'Sea' Hearts:
 
The Entada Giga vine (also called a Monkey Ladder) climbs trees that stretch out over the river, allowing the Sea Heart seeds to fall into the water and be carried away by the current. From there they can be carried as far as European beaches and wash up polished by the waves.

Because of their amazing journey and their thick skin, Sea Hearts are considered lucky and special. Children who once traveled from Europe to America by ship were given Sea Hearts to remind them if this seed can cross the ocean safely, so can they.

I thought this story was really interesting and highlighted the glory of nature displayed in these marvelous species. If we take the time to notice them, they can inspire us. Like love notes from God saying "you can do it!"

emilyhayward.wordpress.com
Next time you feel bogged down, worried about failure, money, health problems, remember the Sea Heart's journey. If God made a seed that can weather a journey like that, imagine what you can do.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Web-domination and Blog Apologies

Sorry for neglecting this blog for a few days, but I know you'd all encourage me to make money. My current job is making things tight for me and so I'm putting out all the 'pencil for hire' signs I can. This includes making a profile on Donanza.com. So, tell your friends. Tell your friends' friends. Tell your neighbor's dog.

I'm spreading myself across the web like jam and hoping something lucrative will stick to me. I already dominate 4 pages of Google when you type in my name (booyah)! I have this blog, a Twitter account, a Tumblr account (neglected), a Facebook fan page and personal page, a google profile, a Freelanced.com profile, potentially a Freelancer.com profile, a Donanza.com profile, and my own website. Not to mention the contests and mentions I've gotten through other venues. Web domination, here I come!

And since we're talking web domination, what do you do to promote yourself online? I'd love more tips and suggestions.

Friday, April 6, 2012

How to Pitch Illustrated YA/MG

 Francesca Zappia asked me recently how to pitch a book with illustrations. So I thought it was a great idea for a blog topic.

I've been struggling with how to categorize my book and how to pitch it ever since I started querying. My book is YA with mystery and adventure elements, little romance, and written in a lyrical style that many would consider too 'young' for YA. In spite of all that, the story still handles YA subject matter and teenage emotional issues. (I personally believe that my MS would be looked at differently if my MC was male, but that's beside the point.)

I've already mentioned the opposition I've run into from other writers when I say I've also illustrated my book. So many have told me no one will give an author/illustrator a second look, but they're only repeating what they've heard for so long. I believe that attitude is outdated since that's not what I've been told by agents. So, what do you do when you have a book that's considered by so many people as a 'tough sell'?

Rock on!
I accentuate it. I make it a good thing, because it is! Hey, look agents! I'm two-for-one! I'm a highly trained illustrator who writes! Snatch me up before someone else gets me!

Not every agent is looking to handle author/illustrators. It takes a certain type who knows how to pitch them to publishers. To help me target those who do, I google lists of agents who rep author/illustrators, illustrators, and writers of children's books. I also search querytracker.net and take full advantage of the resources on the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators website.

Lividia pen and ink illustration

When I query, I pitch the book first, then I mention that I also illustrated it, and tell them why I chose to (and include my training to back up my skill). I link to my website for them to see my style, but I don't attach images. (That's a big no-no.) I mention that if they're interested I will gladly send along the illustrations for them to look at. And, of course, I always thank them graciously for their time and consideration.

Also, when I query my YA that could possibly become an MG (if I changed some main elements) I mention that as a strength. "My book is about a teenage girl who's a late-bloomer. Though it deals with older topics like engagement and issues with trust and self-discovery, it's written in a style that appeals to middle grade audiences as well." Boom. I've just expanded my audience, and I firmly believe it's a good rather than a bad thing. I think agents will too. (I have two partials out since I started doing that.)

I believe the publishing world is looking for the next genre-crossing bestseller, the book that will appeal to a wide audience, not just teenage girls looking for romance. I don't pitch them a romance, or a strictly teenage book. While it might be easier to categorize, it's not my book. There are already plenty of teenage romances out there.

The best books are those that reach outside their genre and appeal to a larger audience (ie Harry Potter). So when you're tempted to cut off vital pieces of your book to fit into a mold it wasn't made for, stop and think about it first. What others might see as a problem could be your book's greatest selling point. You just have to know how to pitch it.

Good luck!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What's Your Good News?

Good news, everyone!
If fantasizing is wrong, I don't wanna be right. We've all had a tough road, whether we're trying to publish or just starting out. If you could have any good news right now, what would it be? If the phone rang or you checked your inbox, what would you love to hear or read right now?

I could really use good news. It feels like an uphill struggle and I need stability. My day job isn't doing it, my writing isn't doing it. I can count on my family, but I need something more. I need to move, to make something happen. Something big is about to give in my life and I feel it coming. I just don't know what it is.

What I'd like to hear right now is that an agent loves my book - loves it for the fact it's story-driven, it's soaked with voice and tone, and it's about a teen who doesn't act her age. I want them to say they love the illustrations, they love the point of view, and they love that it's the start of a series so big I can't imagine what the end will be yet. I want them to say they believe in it and they want to represent me, so that it won't be just me and my book against the publishing world anymore.

What I'd also like to hear is that someone wants to hire me for skills I already have, not skills I have to acquire, and pay me what I'm really worth. That's what I want to hear right now.

What about you?
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