Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wisdom From Flynn Rider

Okay, so all that Tangled talk is having some kind of effect on my blogging.

    On the other hand, it's giving me things to actually, you know, blog about, so there you go. 

    Here's a quote from one of the main characters, Flynn Rider: 

    "Whoa.  Sorry, lady, I don't do back story."

    Maybe we should all take a note from Flynn -- there are worse things for a book than back story (say, sparkling vampires?), but not too many of them.  It messes with the pacing and interest of a story, and has the potential to put readers off before they ever really give your novel the chance it deserves.  But can you blame them?  If you had to sift through pages and pages, wouldn't you toss the book back into the library drop-off box?

    Knowing me, I wouldn't.  More likely, the book would get kicked under my bed or something, and I'd only find it after accumulating lots of nice late fees. 

    Anywho, remember to avoid unnecessary back story at all costs.  And now, a freebie:

    "Frying pans! Who knew, right?"

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dragons, Vampires, a Princess in a Tower...Oh My?

Thank you, Disney. 

    The fact that one of your movies -- Tangled -- came out on DVD today, actually inspired this post.  (Whether or not that's good remains to be seen.)

    But back to my point.  In case you're living under a rock, venturing out for the occasional peek at a Geico billboard sign, I'll tell you -- Tangled is basically a revamped Rapunzel story. 

    Among authors and Hollywood, warped classics -- fairy tales, folk tales, kiddie stories -- are obviously really popular.  You just have to look at a few of the more recent movies in theatres and stores, plus the upcomings, to learn that much:  Snow White, Little Red, Rapunzel, Robin Hood, Alice, Beauty and the Beast, blah, blah, blah.

    In most cases, I don't really mind the revamps.  But I almost choked on my Cheez-Its when I heard Amanda Seyfried whisper, "What big eyes you have," and the previews for Beastly definitely made me groan. 

    To be fair, I never got over my inital bias enough to, you know, watch either of those movies, so I really shouldn't judge.  Much. 

    On the other hand, I absolutely adored Tangled and Alice in Wonderland, so there you go.

    I guess my thing is, it has to have a fresh enough twist to it, preferably in a way that doesn't completely kill the orignal.  Someday, I'd love to make my own version of one of the less-covered classics -- but only if I can find an original hook. 

    The last thing this world needs is another vampire story, but the second-to-last is definitely a trend-riding, maniac author. 

    But what do you think? 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Click This Link, Become a Follower

Here's the thing.

    You've been amazing enough to read these posts, agreed?  It was admittedly startling when I logged on this afternoon and saw that the total views had jumped from around 175 to about 230. 

    But hey, I'm not complaining.

    Now Literally YA is taking advantage of your kindness and interest and all that, asking you to take that a step farther.  1) Look to the toolbar on the right, where it says "Google Friend Connect".  2) Notice that Literally YA needs some followers.  3)  Aaaand lastly, become a follower and spread the word. 

    You'll be glad you did...but not as glad as Literally YA.

    Now, for me to remember my manners and such. 


It's a Tiny...It's a Book...It's a Tinybook (Unofficially)

This.  Is.  Insane.

    And, okay, slightly awesome.

    But don't take my word for it.  Check out this new book trend -- the coolest thing since ebooks -- right here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

To Find an Agent...

I'll tell you this:  to find a literary agent, you're probably going to do a lot of Googling.  Figure out what genre, or category, your book is in, and then narrow that down with your search.  For example:  "YA urban fantasy literary agents" or "YA mystery literary agents"
    As long as you didn't mess something up horribly, you should get pages and pages of results -- most likely from agency websites.  Obviously, check out the links and read up on what the agents are interested in, and what agent there seems like the closest match for you and your book.

    You can also look up agents in books like The Jeff Herman Guide to Editors, Publishers, and Literary Agents, Publisher's Marketplace, and so on. 

    A lot of agents are starting their own blogs, where you can get a feel for the agent's personality, what kind of books they're looking for, and news on the industry in general. 

    Lastly, I have a few places on the Internet that I've stumbled upon, which also feature lists of agents.  Some of them -- like Casey McCormick's blog, Literary Rambles -- are updated and added to regularly, and some of them...not so much.  Still, they've been helpful to me, and that'll hopefully be true for you, too.

    Always check an agent's credibility, okay?  I know, I know, everyone stresses this one a lot -- but there's a reason for that.  The only way an agent should get your money is their standard percentage, which they get after they sell your book.  Comprende? 

    The place to check credibility is Preditors & Editors, which lists agents as well.

    There you have it.  There are other places, of course, tons and tons of them.  But it's up to you to go out and find them.  Have any others that you think should be listed?  Mention them below in the comments. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Wisdom From Dr. Seuss

With Spring Break about over, I figure everyone can use some encouragement, especially my fellow writers.

    To be honest, though, I never expected that encouragement to come from the father of "The Cat in the Hat," but I'll take it wherever I can find it.  (Sometimes that includes fortune cookies, if I'm desperate enough....)

    Here it is, from "Oh, The Places You'll Go!":

    "You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose." 

    Is it me, or is that a snippet of instant inspiration?  Because he's right. 
    Everything is just starting.  You and your book, your writing -- you're all starting to take off, and you can go as far as you decide.  Just remember the writing, good old Dr. Seuss, Chinese fortune cookies, and lots of prayers, and you've got it made.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Ides of March, Just a Tad Late

All I can say is, this whole "Spring Break" concept is really messing up my sense of the time.

    Trust me, I'm not complaining.  But I missed my chance to blog on the Ides of March, and trust me, I wasn't too happy to realize that. 

    So we're just going to pretend like today is March 15th, and that the 16th never happened.  Okay?

    From Wikipedia:
 "The Ides of March (Latin: Idus Martiae) is the name of March 15 in the Roman calendar, probably referring to the day of the full moon. The term ides was used for the 15th day of the months of March, May, July, and October, and the 13th day of the other months.[1] The Ides of March was a festive day dedicated to the god Mars and a military parade was usually held. In modern times, the term Ides of March is best known as the date that Julius Caesar was killed in 44 B.C. Julius Caesar was stabbed (23 times) to death in the Roman Senate led by Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus and 60 other co-conspirators. On his way to the Theatre of Pompey (where he would be assassinated), Caesar visited with a seer who had foretold that harm would come to him not later than the Ides of March. Caesar joked, 'Well, the Ides of March have come', to which the seer replied 'Ay, they have come, but they are not gone.'[2] This meeting is famously dramatized in William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, when Caesar is warned to 'beware the Ides of March'.[3][4] "

    Well, there you go.  After having to read Romeo and Juliet for school, I wasn't overly impressed with Shakespeare.  (Actually, he just seemed like the guy who inspired the basis for Twilight, which just gives me all the more reason to hate him.)  But ever since I've read Julius Caesar, I've had more respect for the guy.  After all, I kind of liked its story. 

    Anywho, that's all I had to say over the matter, oh-so-perfect timing and everything. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Book Art -- Literally

Obviously, books are works of art.  If you're the kind of person that I expect to be reading this, then you already know that.

    But this just takes that concept to a whole new level:

    Awesome, right?

    Anyway, Happy Pi Day.  (Yeah, that pi.  3.14 or whatever.  Don't ask me -- I'm a writer.)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Writing EOI: Do Teen Writers Really Have the Advantage?

Admittedly, this might seem like a random topic.  But with the EOI for sophomores coming up, it's something I keep wondering:  Do teen writers really have any advantage over the End of Instruction writing tests?

    If you just give it a fleeting consideration, then yeah, it would probably seem like we do.  But with a little more thought, it really doesn't seem like such a great situation.

    The last time I took one of these tests was in the 8th grade, and the first was in 5th grade.  I don't remember this being much of an issue in either of those tests, because my personal writing style didn't really develop until 9th grade(ish).  Besides, it's pretty easy to just keep your head down and give the test graders what they want:  Something that sounds like it's coming straight from a text book or newspaper.

    But here's the thing -- text books and newspapers are boring.  The writing's as flat as the paper it's printed on, completely soulless, and devoid of any personality whatsoever.  (If you haven't learned yet, "professional" writing is just code for "yawn-inducing".)

    Now that I'm an actual writer and take writing seriously, I'm pretty sure it'd kill me to give them something like that.  My style is more conversational, casual, than what the people are probably looking for -- but at the same time, there's no way I'm going to sacrifice the writing for the sake of this test.

    So where do you draw the line? 

    To be honest, I'm still not sure.  I'm going to approach this thing my way, and write it my way -- but on the other hand, I'll rein in the fractions and slip in as many "expanded vocabulary" (show-off) words as I can bear.  (Not too much of that, mind you, or you'll come off looking like a regular Christopher Paolini.  Eek.)

    By the way, thanks to 3rd-nine-weeks tests, blogging's probably going to be pretty spotty this week -- definitely on Thursday and Friday.  Just a heads-up.

    But what do you think -- are the EOI's in the bag for teen writers, or are we actually at a disadvantage?  Feel free to sound off in the comments.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Official Grammar Day -- No Joke

As soon as I learned that today was the official Grammar Day, I knew I just had to post something about it.

    Obviously, grammar is important, but I promise not to give you a lecture over it or anything, because that's not how I roll.

    Instead, I've looked up some common grammar errors.  In no particular order, and chosen completely at random, here they are:

        -Mixing up "it's" and "its"
        -Using apostrophes -- possessives and contractions
        -Mixing up "they're," their," and "there"
        -"Good" instead of "Well" -- which everyone's been guilty of at least once
        -Interchanging "who," "what," and "that"
        -Lack of subject/verb agreement
        -"Lay" instead of "lie"
        -"Then" -vs.- "Than"
        -Double negatives
    Some people are also against fragments, which I don't have a problem with.  While I can see why you wouldn't want to use them in professional writing or those scary end-of-the-year school tests, in more casual writing -- especially fiction, when the author's voice has plenty of room to shine.

    On the other hand, you don't want the kind of fragment in the last sentence, where the sentence sort of dropped off into nothingness.  But when they're used to stress a point, in my book, you're in the clear.

    Does your manuscript have any of these issues?  If so, go fix it... I mean, it's Grammar Day.  How could you pass that up?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Actual Author Quotes For Teen Writers

This is a website I just happened to stumble upon, and I have to say, I'm glad I did.

    This link goes to the "Author Quotes" page of the website.  They're quotes specifically for teens, and I found some really encouraging/helpful tidbits there.

    See for yourself.