Tuesday, March 3, 2015

1st chapter-Land of Sand and Stars-YA historical fantasy

Since LAND OF SAND AND STARS made it into #pitchmadess, I decided to post the entire first chapter. I hope you all like reading it as much as I loved writing it.


Early Winter: 552 BC


I whisper into the brilliant afternoon sunlight, “Humata. Hukhta. Huvarshta.”
The city built of mud and unbaked brick breathes life – the voices of the people rising. I stand out of sight, blending into the deep shadows cast from the columns as I repeat the phrase in self-assurance: Good thoughts. Good words. Good deeds. Everything I’ve done, and will do, is for my people.
“Do you hear them crying out for your death, Father?” I ask.
The half corpse lies on the bed and a soft moan escapes his lips but I continue staring outside. A warm winter desert breeze sweeps through, tousling strands of my long dark hair and blows them across my face. I brush them away and wonder how many people have taken to the streets, eagerly awaiting the news they’ve been praying for. It’s impossible to count the Medes dotted with Persians that are the citizens of Issatis. They’re a blur of dingy color washing over the streets.
I approach the bed draped in gold curtains. If not for his paralytic state, one would assume he’s in perfect health – his waist protrudes and the fat in his face fills wrinkles that would otherwise show in a man of lower-class, but never the ruling Satrap. Playing the part of a loving daughter although no one watches is laughable. Sitting beside him, I lay my hand on his forearm. Where red hot life once thrived, it’s now chilled. Stagnant. What little remains seeps into my hand and in moments I’ll have taken it all.
I gaze upon him, emotionless. “May you have learned something in this life to carry to the next. Goodbye, Pedar,” I say, keeping the interaction formal. As far as I can remember, I’ve never called him, Bâbâ. This man may as well be a stranger. His dark brown eyes meet mine. He knows, but he’s too weak to speak. Too weak to call out for the guards, too weak to save himself. I knew it would come to this one day. Yet, I tried to change it – I wish I’d succeeded. The failure makes me hate him more. I want to ask him why power and riches were more important, but I know the answer wouldn’t give me closure. His eyes flutter closed and his last breath is soft upon his parted lips beneath his greying beard.
My eyes drift closed as searing heat spreads through me and threatens to burst. The world is anew when I open them. I stand, smooth my dress and walk to the heavy wooden door and swing it wide.
The two guards outside the door jerk to attention and look to me, expectant.
“He has passed,” I announce. “Notify the counsel.”
They rush to do as commanded and I return to the room, lean against the column nearest the balcony and wait.
Cheers burst when the first blow of the horn bursts and resounds in the square. The people chant over and over, “The Satrap is dead!”
I revel in their joyous proclamation of his death.
Footsteps echo behind me and the owner clears his throat.
“It is not a blessed day?” I ask, continuing to observe the people.
“Āmitis, the General requires your presence.”
I whirl and narrow my eyes on one of his men, scowling. The soldier takes a hurried step back.
Satrap Āmitis – I am the ruling governor here now and you will address me as such. As for the General, he may demand my presence, but I am not his to command. He knows where to find me.”
I whip around, stride outside, and across the balcony to its edge. Beyond the high outer walls surrounding Issatis, the land changes quickly to the barren landscape of the surrounding deserts and the mountains rising in the far distance. We’re isolated from the growing turmoil between the Medes and Persians, the sun and sand keeping us safe. But it will soon end – the dark hand of death approaches. Some of the people cheer at the sight of me. Other’s boo. A slow new chant begins, half of the people joining in. “Long live the Satrap! Long live the Satrap!”
 The people have expectations. Am I my father’s daughter or am I something else? I am both.
Smoke and saffron sting my nose as it drifts toward me, accompanied by the heavy fall of rapid steps. A hush falls over the crowd. “I believe they’re eager to see what will happen next. Shall I amaze them?”
The General grunts and comes to stand beside me. Sweat drips from the side of his face and into his graying beard. He must have run to my side, eager to control the situation. His polished golden scaled armor and red cloak distinguish him as General to everyone watching. “And what does the young Satrap plan on doing to ‘entertain’ her people?” A rueful chuckle rumbles in his chest.
“I will show them change.” I smile, sweet and devious.
Heat rises in his face and his brows furrow at my mockery. I am all that remains standing in his way of all he desires.
“You think it’s that easy? It takes longer than sixteen years to learn to lead a great city such as Issatis. You may be Satrap, Āmitis, but you don’t know the people. That is why you need a strong general such as me.”
I meet his glare. The General towers over me by at least a foot, but I haven’t any fear. “We had a strong and fair general. Do you not remember General Shari? My mother.”
“It’s a shame she became ill and had to step down.”
My muscles tighten. I doubt that very much, his advancement is proof enough he’s to blame for me. If I could only figure out how he poisoned her…
“We aren’t the only ones on verge of rebellion. Word arrived this morning that another of the High King’s Satraps turned supporter of that rebel, half Persian, grandson of his,” he spits in disgust. “Mark my words, you won’t be able to handle the responsibilities of Satrap. If Astyages lets you keep the position, you’re going to lose the power you just attained.”
“Because of rebellion or because you’re planning on seizing power?”
He smirks. “Revolution is upon you, regardless of Astyages and Cyrus’… issues. Do you even have the soldiers outside of your personal army under your control?”

Arrogant bastard. I clench my jaw, take a deep breath and release it slowly. He braces himself on the ledge and leans. His eyes graze the city below, hungrily taking it in. “There’s only one way stop an uprising: Destroy it.”
“No,” I breathe as my lips slide into a sly smile. “The people will die for me and love me for allowing them to do it.”
He lets out a snort of derision but he can’t stop himself from asking, “How?”
“I will give them exactly what they want,” I announce, and place my hand on top of his. “I will lead their revolution.”
The General’s eyes widen. He gasps, struggling to breathe. Jerking wildly, he tries to pull his hand from mine but it doesn’t free. I tighten my grasp and dig my nails into his hand as I drain his life while thinking of choking him. He claws at his throat with his free hand and I wonder if he will tear it open in desperation. I’d like to see that. This is an end befitting the things he’s done in his time as General. He falls to his knees and his two guards rush forward.
I hold out my hand, palm out. They stop. I’m surprised they follow my order. But in the end they know whose word is law, especially when one of us is on our knees. Leaning, my lips brushing his ear, I whisper tenderly, “I’m more than my father’s daughter. I am my mother’s daughter, and her Magian blood flows through my veins. You will die knowing her power flows through me and that my father’s line no longer lies dormant. Both lines of power sing though my blood and together, they have created something new.”
Straightening my back, I stare at the disposed General. He wheezes and gurgles one last time and falls on his side. Dead, bulging eyes stare at me, mouth agape, and his face is a bright purplish-red. But the color fades now that the beating of his heart has stopped.
I pulse with his and my father’s life. Everything is brighter and clearer. Sharp like never before. A desert lark lands on the edge of the balcony rail and chirps a song. I stare at the little bird and take it as a good omen. It flutters its wings and leaps, taking to the sky. I could soar away with the energy coursing through my veins.
But that isn’t to be, nor will I be keeping the life I’ve taken. I pull the sheathed sword from his belt. It is polished and sharp. The razor’s edge gleams in the sunlight. It’s beautiful. I raise it high and bring it down with all my might. Crimson sprays against my dress and leaks, the blood pooling at my feet. Satisfied, I grab hold of his hair and pickup his head.
Turning to the guards, I instruct, “Put his body on the ledge.”
They stand unmoving. This was their general: There is no greater dishonor than to not die in battle or to not have a proper funeral. But he doesn’t deserve one. For too long he encouraged my father to amass wealth and ignore the people unless it was law to benefit their and the High King’s gain. Both were puppets of Astyages, and it wouldn’t be long before they followed in his footsteps and enslaved anyone they wished – including their own people. My people.
I hiss at them, “Are you refusing a command from your Satrap?”
The soldiers shake their heads vigorously and lurch to do as commanded. They heave the body onto the edge. They hesitate, looking at me one last time in hope I rescind the order. They know what I intend.
Returning my attention to my people, I ascend the stairs to the top of the wide ledge and thrust the head high into the air for all to see. Warm blood runs down, twisting and encircling a trail around my arm, and splatters against my white dress embroidered with gold and jewels. I want… no… I need them to see red against the stark white. Visuals are as important as words during precarious times such as this. I announce clear and strong, “My people: The Satrap’s reign has ended, I give you his General.” I nod, commanding the soldiers to proceed. They roll the body over the edge and it falls to disappear from sight. My eyes flicker down, making sure his horrid body didn’t hit anyone beneath. I wonder what they will do with the useless corpse.
Letting my lids drift closed, I lift my face to the sky and pray, ‘Please, Ahura Mazda, please let this be what they need to unite and follow where I lead.’ Opening my eyes, I draw a deep breath and with all I have, shout, “A new era has begun!”
A roar overtakes the crowd and reverberates off of the buildings. They may not know everything that happened here or why, but they know nothing is the same. It’s all they need to know. I toss the head to the ground below with the rest of the body. Satisfied, I return inside, leaving them to chant, “Long live the Satrap!”
A figure stands at the foot of my father’s bed. I wonder when he arrived and how much he saw. Before I have the chance to ask, Astiak speaks as I stop a few feet away.
“That was an intriguing display.”
“I’m glad to have amused you, Uncle.”
Astiak abruptly inclines his head and half bows. “I am yours to command, Satrap.”
The shadows of the guards glide across the polished marble floor. I doubt he’d have done the same had they not come inside.
“Men,” I call their attention. “Astiak is General.”
He doesn’t bother to fake surprise. Instead he remains passive – an expression he wears as often and as well as old worn-in shoes. We’d discussed the position when it was announced the Satrap was close to death. I will keep the secret I taunted the General with minutes ago.
Astiak wastes no time in exercising his new power. “Inform your comrades forthwith. I’ll address the troops in two hours. Make sure they’re ready.”
Bowing, they make their exit.
We wait until their footsteps have long since faded before moving, let alone speak. The palace is as dangerous as the land beyond our own, the gentle green lands seem to breed hostility rather than conquer it.
Astiak clears his throat. “The poison worked quicker than I thought.”
“What of it?”
“Only an observation.” He strolls toward the balcony and stops where I stood earlier. I wonder what he’s thinking as the celebration continues throughout the city and fills the air. I hope they remember this day as one that untied us and made us strong when the obscurity of war descends.
“It’s also an indication one should be diligent if worried for their health.”
A laugh bubbles and I press my fingertips to my lips. I grin at his back. If only he had an idea of how true his words are. It makes me wonder if he knows how precarious his own position is. The support garnered by my mother must give him great comfort.
“You know, I’ve always been amazed at how fortunate you are to be blessed with the gift of the Magi considering you’re only half.”
“Indeed.” Waiting, I let him lead the conversation.
He spins and strides toward me. “Zara’s dream of the Satrap becoming ill… Remarkable.”
“Although fortunate, as my next in command, I don’t find it remarkable – what happens to me affects her.” I wonder if he suspects I interpreted my own dream – a gift even full blooded Magi lack the ability to do.
He studies me, intent. “You travel a precarious road, Āmitis.”
 I swallow the lump forming in my throat. I loathe the way he looks at me. There’s a constant feeling of failure that accompanies it. It’s as if he’s expects something more and believes I’ll never meet the secret expectations. It shouldn’t bother me, but it does.
“Is there something else you’d like to add?”
In his hesitation to answer, I stride past him, eager to be rid of confusion and self-doubt he instills. His hand is suddenly on my arm and forcing me to stop and face him.
“Be careful, Āmitis. If not for your sake, for your mother’s.”
Panic flashes. I cannot decipher if it was a veiled threat or genuine concern. “What is that supposed to mean?”
The grasp on my arm falls away and for a second, Astiak looks helpless, if not lost.
“It means: Don’t let your drive for power change you into what you despise…” His eyes fall upon my father’s body.
Fury rises – I know what’s going to happen and yet I can’t stop. “I didn’t usurp power and cover myself in that vile man’s blood because I want power, I did it because I had to…” My arm snaps out and I point to the balcony. “For them!” Like thunder, my voice bounces off of the columns and polished marble floor and fills my ears. I cut myself of before I spill a secret.
“If you don’t have the forethought to watch out for yourself, someone else must.”
Dropping my voice low, I challenge him, “I don’t know why you’re always trying to cast yourself in the role as my father with these bits of advice and misplaced concern, but you can see it where it led the father I had. Keep to your position as General.”

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Deleted Original 1st chapter of BECOMING HOOK

When I first started writing Becoming Hook, I debated for while over where to begin. The fact that I was questioning my choice alone was a sign. But like all confused people, I needed validation.

After talking with my beta readers and a friend who an international bestselling author turned publisher, I decided it best to start James' (Jas) story with what was chapter 2.

So, for your reading pleasure: The original beginning of Becoming Hook.

December 1717

Edward strokes his beard and grunts, “You’ll never pass as a lad.” Dark brown eyes scrutinize me from across the table. He and Mother have the same eyes. I wish mine were like theirs. Instead, I have my father’s. I loath them and the portrait hanging at school which watches me with cold blue eyes. A chill sweeps over at the memory and I shudder. They’re as icy as the wind and snow pressing on the windowpane behind me. Snaps and crackles pop in the red brick hearth as the logs burn. It does nothing to chase away the cold in my heart.
I raise my chin, defiant. "I've done exactly that at Eton, for years."
"Bet it’s getting harder since those came in," he snorts, pointing awkwardly to my chest.
Gritting my teeth, I fold my arms over the green waistcoat pulling tight across my breasts. I hunch my shoulders. “They don’t need to be bound here. It’s just us.”
A baritone laugh rolls up and fills the small cottage. With it, his sun weathered skin crinkles at his eyes. Life and the sun have worn him, making him look older than thirty – seven. At my glare, he stifles the chuckle. With a quick clearing of his throat, he resumes his usual serious demeanor.
“Thought you get seasick.”
“You know I don’t.”
He shrugs. “’Tis been a while since we sailed the blue together.”
"Edward, please," Mother scolds as she sets down our bowls of stew on the old worn and chipped tabletop. Steam rises from the hunks of venison in the firelight.
"What?" he asks, picking up his spoon and shoving in mouthfuls. I take the time to blow on mine, a far too feminine gesture for what I asked. Or perhaps – too civilized.
Heading back to the stove, over her shoulder mother says, "Don't encourage James."
“I be doing nothing of the sort, woman.”
"It's bad enough she's come up with insane idea.” She ladles herself a serving and continues, “I don't need you helping to ruin her life.” Suddenly, Mother spins around and scowls. “Or worse, to get her hanged!"
"Now see here, Hannah. You're the one who has her running around pretending to be something she aint." Tiny bits of food fall into his beard. I know I’ll have to get used to it fast if he said yes. “That’s what’s ruining it.”
I groan. Here we go again. I hate being their only cause for argument.
Mother’s jaw drops as she plops into her chair. She points her spoon in his face. "And you damn well know why. As if being the bastard of a Duke isn't hard enough. But a girl! What was I to do?"
Edward jumps up from the table, his hip bumping it. Broth sloshes over the edge of the bowl, taking some peas with it. "You expect her to play the bachelor her whole life, alone forever? Not to mention they’ll be calling her – him – a molly!”
Mother faces him head on. "Ha!" she hoots and jumps back to her feet. "And I suppose you think being the niece of the notorious Bla..?"
“Don’t you say it!” he cuts her off. The shouting match escalates. “I changed my name for that very reason! Even then, at least she wouldn’t have…”
I stand.  “Enough!”
They turn to face me, wide eye.
“By – blow or not, we all know he’s paying for Eaton is because he thinks I’m a boy.” It comes out harsher than intended, but I’ve had enough of their bickering. “I’ll do what I can with that education, but I can’t stay there any longer.” The older I get, the more the other boys are becoming suspicious of my behavior. Our lies are about to be discovered. I turn my attention to Mother. “I know you want the best for me, but I can’t live like this for the rest of my life.”
Edward grins and puffs his chest.
“And you, Uncle Edward.” His smile vanishes as I focus on him. “You’re not right, either. You know the only life ahead of me as his bastard daughter is a life of spreading my legs for Lords just like him.” They reddened at the thought. But it’s time we all face reality.
“I’d never let that happen,” he growls.
“You won’t be around forever to help support us.” Having thoroughly chastised Mother and Uncle Edward, I take a deep breath and sit back down. Calm on the outside, I lace my fingers and rest my forearms on the table. “I’ll join your crew, earn as much as I can and move to the Americas. There, I can start over with a new name and live as I was meant to.”
Mist overcomes Mother’s eyes. She smiles sadly while Edward grunts in resignation.
“Now, when do I join your crew?” I hold my breath and wait.
"I do need a boatswain for my new ship – Queen Anne’s Revenge,” he says, proudly.
The chair topples over and falls the floor with a bang as I jump to my feet. I run around the table and throw my arms around him, squeezing. “Thank you, thank you, thank you, Uncle Edward!”
With a pat on my back – the most affection he’s probably ever given a woman who isn’t a whore – the giant burly man he reminds me, “You can’t go around calling me Uncle Edward from here on out.”
I beam at him. “Absolutely! I’ll remember.” I glance to Mother who is now crying outright. I reach for her. “I’m sorry, but I…”
“No,” she sniffles and pulls me into a fierce hug. “I understand. Just don’t forget about your old mum.”
Wiggling out of her grasp, I shake my head. “I’ll send for you when I’m settled.” I tuck loose strands of brown hair behind her ears and rest my hands on her shoulders. “I promise.”
“I know you will, my poppet.” In turn, she runs her fingers through mine. “It would be nice to do something with this mop of curls.” Uncle Edward, Blackbeard, hands her a ragged lace handkerchief. She takes it and dabs her eyes. With a final sniff, Mother holds her head high and addresses Edward. “If I’m to let my only child run off with a pirate, the least you can do is tell me where James is to be sailing.”
He grins wickedly and settles into his seat. “I’ve been told there’s an invisible island not far off shore.”
A thrill of excitement races through me as he weaves a tale of a cloaked island beset with stars and inhabited by mystical creatures. I’ve heard and read sailors’ stories of creatures from all over the world. There are far too many to discount them all as fiction.
Mother rolls her eyes and snorts, “And just, exactly, how did you hear about this ‘invisible’ island?”
“I happened to be about Kensington Palace one evening, taking in some exercise – minding my own business, of course – when I saw a light darting about in the garden, possessed with unearthly speed.”
Mother scrunchs her face. “Really? You were just going for a stroll by the palace, in the middle of the night, for your health?” she laughs. “I don’t suppose it was the firefly who told you about the island, too?”
“Not a firefly bug, ‘twas a fairy.” With a pause he looks to each of us. “That’s who told me about the island.”
“You’ve been too many years at sea, Edward ‘Teach.’”
He looks her dead in the eyes and leans in close. “I’ll prove it.”
With that, he stands and make for the guest room. His footsteps fall heavy, his boots falling with a dull thud on the wooden floor.
Mother turns, worry besetting her face. “I’m not so sure about his mind. You should reconsider, James. There are other ways, we just have to look for them.”
As my lips part to answer, footsteps resume. Edward rounds the corner, jar in hand. He stomps over, chin held high, and places it in the center of the table. “There!”
I gasps. Contains within is what a fist appears to be a glowing butterfly – with legs. It turns around, revealing a tiny human body. Reaching across the table, I run my finger over the glass, causing it flutter. A glitter of dust falls from its wings. “Impossible!”
 “I’ll admit, I’ve never seen a glowing butterfly sort of thing in winter,” Mother says gently, “but that doesn’t make it a fairy.”
How can she not see this fairy who is clearly scowling? While I stare at her in shock, Edward’s reaction is much different. “Hump, thought as much. Only those who believe can see. Typical land – lover.”
“The stories, about mermaids, they’re real too. Aren’t they?” I ask an already nodding Edward who’s watching the fairy with narrow eyes, as if he was waiting for her to do something.
Mother throw her hands in the air. “I’m going to bed and I suggest you two do the same. Maybe a good night’s rest will clear your heads… and your eyes.”
As soon we hear her bedroom door close, I ask, “What did she say? Will she tell me?”
“After she stopped screaming at me, I had to withhold food for two days before she’d speak again. How about if I tell you instead? Quicker that way, you see.”
Eagerly I nod. He weaves descriptions so vivid, I find myself imagining the tropical island impossibly close to England. “What is it called?”

The pirate Blackbeard leans in and whispers, “The natives call it, Never Never Land.”

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Review of Aimee Salter's BREAKABLE

I'm not sure exactly when, but quite some time ago, I stated following Aimee on Twitter and reading her blog. If you aren't reading it, you should. As I fore mentioned in a previous blog post, she gives brilliant editing and writing advice: Aimee's blog.
Then during writeoncon little over a year ago she posted the beginning of her book (then known as Shatter Me) and query letter for the world and ninja agents to see.
The voice, the setting... the hook. I had to know what happened to this character and why she was covered in scars.
It was killing me not be able to read it in its entirety, immediately. 
Shortly thereafter, Aimee announced she had an agent. I couldn't have been happier for a fellow writer! The publishing industry isn't a fast one, but I was willing to wait the approximate two years it would take for it to hit bookshelves. I knew I'd remember this book.
Then suddenly, there was no agent. As I read her blog (insert link to that specific post) and the difficult choice she had to make, I felt bad. I couldn't imagine how hard it must have been. But I knew that one way or another, this book was going to be in the hands of readers everywhere one day.
To make a long story short, as we now know, that book -Breakable, is now being self-published. And let me tell you: When she tweeted that she was looking for book reviewers, I very literally shouted out loud, "Me!" And hallelujah, she picked me to review this book. 
After waiting so long with such anticipation, I was almost nervous to read it. Like when you wait and wait for a movie to come out, and when it does it isn't nearly as wonderful as you expected. 
I was NOT disappointed. I read nearly the enter thing on a nonstop flight from San Diego to Washington, DC. It frustrated me to no end that I had to stop when my flight arrived. 
As Stacy tells her story, we know she's holding something back (but not of sure what-there are some surprise twists!), we follow her journey through self-acceptance, her older self not being completely honest and seemingly completely unhelpful, through the eyes of shallow classmates and mother.
Through her art, Stacy finds a way to express her feelings and ultimately realize her true self. 
Breakable is a poignant story of self-doubt and acceptance, unrequited love and the test of friendship, and a question: If you knew your future and had what you wanted, but at a heavy cost, would you change your path or do it anyway?
If there is one last book you want to read before the New Year, this is the one. I promise, you won’t regret it.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Writing lessons from the Super Bowl

There are lessons in writing all around us everyday, it's seeing them and apply it. One of these lessons happens to be from football of all places. This is what I learned about writing by watching the Super Bowl: 

For the most part, we all know women are usually not into sports the way men are. So when I do watch football games, it has to be exciting. First I'll start with what I learned from football and then we'll move on to applying it to writing.

Back in November I went to a San Diego Chargers game. Although I was excited about being there and in row 18, field level, I didn't really feel the need to pay all that much attention to the game. It was boring. It wasn't because I don't like the Chargers (I do), it was because they were getting their butts kicked.

They weren't going to make some huge comeback. Even if by some miracle they did win, they weren't going to the playoffs. So, since I knew they were going to lose and beyond that, there was nothing at stake, it didn't seem to matter. I wanted to cheer for my team, but my feelings weren't invested.

Then came the Super Bowl.

I chose to cheer for the Ravens since everyone else I knew was rooting for the 49ers. 

If you watched the game, you know the Ravens were kicking butt. Sure, it was the playoffs and I was thrilled the "underdog" of the two was winning, it wasn't exciting. 

Suddenly, the power went out. At last it was fixed, the game resumed, and it was a power play for the championship. The Ravens were suddenly makings mistakes and fumbling. The 49ers stole the ball, they made touchdowns, they were going to win?!!? I was freaking out. My friends were going wild. No one knew what was going yo happen and we were on the edge of out seats. Every second counted, literally.

Some how, the Ravens won and just barely.

This is what I learned from those two games and how to improve writing. 

Like I said before, my feelings weren't invested in the Chargers game. If your readers aren't invested, they aren't going to keep reading. Your characters have to be relatable and the stakes have to be clear. And I don't just mean long term. They have to have smaller immediate hurtles to overcome to reach the ultimate goal. Think of it as their training.

The Super Bowl really had me nervous, cheering, and on the edge of my seat. Great, your character is licking butt, but unless there is failure along the way, why do you care. You know the outcome and it's a boring ride. But if your character(s) picks his/herself up and keeps going although the antagonist has stuck a blow and has the upper hand, it's exciting. You don't know at any given moment who will succeed or fail. Who will strike next and how? 

Readers have to cheer and cry with the character. They should want to keep reading late into the night because they simply must know the outcome. 

Your character has to face failure to make the reward more sweet and worthwhile. The battle has to be memorable and the victory worth everything lost.  

In short, give the reader something and someone to cheer passionately for.

Monday, January 14, 2013

When is it worth the money?

Last week I was browsing my twitter feed, as I often do, and saw a tweet by agent Jill Corcoran about lunch, tea, and her. How could I resist clicking on the link?

There before me was an opportunity: How To Hook An Agent Hosted by: Writing Pad
For $200, 12-15 people would be attend a writing class hosted by Jill, lunch, tea, and 1-on-1 time for a ten page critique. It is to take place in Beverly Hills.

I have NEVER been to a writing conference, let alone anything like this. And I thought, "Is this worth $200?"

I have read Jill's blog several occasions and many times visited the agency website. I've learned to research agents before querying, it saves your time and theirs.  Why query someone who isn't looking for what you have? I even came across a link to a YouTube interview with her a while back and thought she seemed like the friendliest person, ever. In fact, she reminded me of Nina Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding).

My current ms is fantasy. From everything I've read that genre isn't one of her interests (I pretty much felt like a stalker trying to find if she ever mentioned liking any book that was remotely fantasy). The answer I came up with was no.

"So, what did you do?" you may ask.

I spent $200 and signed up for the class.

I can imagine a few of you saying, "Why?! She doesn't rep fantasy!"
Here is why:

It's in LA. Since I live in San Diego it's only a few hours drive.

Second, although she doesn't have a strong interest in fantasy, you never know. Not that I think my book will be the excepetion to the rule, I can still hope. Besides, she may like my writing and ask to see something else, or refer me to an agent who would like this particular book. I have more wips than I can count in files on my computer/flash drive. Picture books, my illustrations, middle grade adventure, to all sorts of young adult. Not all are done, but some are.

But that is just a small part of why I decided this class was in my best interest and worth the money. The main reason: I want to become a better writer. I want the advice she's willing to give an aspiring author.

Even if Jill thinks this plot/story line isn't great, she still knows good writing from bad. More importantly, she can give me an idea as of to what I'm doing wrong, regardless of it being fantasy or contemporary. I want to stand out from the crowd, make my stories unique, and my writing flow.

Reading blogs and books about writing has helped me (2 specific blogs come to mind:  Aimee Salter and Plot Whisperer-Martha Alderson-Martha also happens to be one of Jill's authors. A great book: Tarot for Writers-Corrine Kenner- I don't believe in 'fortune telling,' but it really makes you get creative, I can't speak highly enough of this book). I know I'm better than I was when I started this journey. But what blogs and books can't do is give feedback. They can't give you suggestions or brainstorm with you.

Don't get me wrong. I love and appreciate my friends reading my working and giving me feedback. It helps. They see things I don't. I already know the story and the characters, it's getting others to. My friends do tell me things they like and don't like, and their honesty is great. But it's not quite the same as someone who isn't my friend. I love constructive criticism and I want the hard honest truth. I am going to invest in me and my unwavering determination to write something amazing (and get it published the traditional way).

Wish me luck for Saturday! But in the meantime feel free to let me know: What would you, or have you paid for to further your career/dream job and was it worth it?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Wow, has it been a long times since I've posted anything!
After my last post, everything seemed to go crazy.  First, I became single and a few weeks later I decided to close my business.  It was something I'd been thinking about for a while and figured it would be best if I started the New Year fresh in all aspects of my life.

My writing took a backseat for a while, but I'm back at it and hope to have the first draft of THE CHOOSING done by the end of March.

A few days ago, I decided to send out a very select few query letters for my children's book, PRINCESS IN THE TOWER.

One thing, however, I did not do, was send out the illustrations I have for it.  I've often debated with myself and others if they were good enough.  So, I've decided to post a few on here and let you all decide for yourself.  Personally, I love them. 

Well, here are a few!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Birthday Contest Results!

Happy December everyone!
Now that 30th birthday extravagana is over, I'm able to post the results.
And the winner is Twin2.  Please email me at the address on my blog with your address so I can get the books in the mail and you'll have them by Christmas!