Archive | December, 2010

Happy New Years Eve!!

31 Dec

It’s almost the start of a new year guys, and here at LTWF, we’re incredibly excited for 2011–disregarding all the other cool stuff a new year means, there are going to be a TON of awesome books coming out! 😀

New Years also means resolutions, and we’ve decided to share our writing ones with you. Let us know what you’re resolving to do in 2011!

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My writing resolution is to be a more patient writer.  Right now I try to force my writing too much.  My goal is to let my writing flow more naturally.

-Julie

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Gah, just one resolution? There’s a million things I want to do better. I just finished Bird by Bird and it’s really inspired me. Mostly though, I want to experience more. Whether that means reading more or just getting out of the house, I want to open myself up to more possibilities for inspiration.

-Savannah

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After all the cookies I’ve been eating, I want to make use of the gym that’s included with my ridiculous tuition… but a more writerly resolution is to focus on one writing project at a time instead of jumping between several.

-Jenn

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Oh, New Years resolutions….:] As far as writing goes (though I suppose this applies to all aspects of my life), I resolve to start practicing what I preach and develop my patience. Things will happen. Things will come. Just need to work at it, not fuss over it 🙂

-Kat

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I have so many resolutions this year, but I think I’ll agree with Kat and say that I’d like for 2011 to be the year I learn to be patient. I’ve got a lot of waiting ahead of me this year (with QUEEN OF GLASS coming out in 2012), so learning to be patient will be a pretty useful skill! And I’d also like to stop eating so many double stuff oreos.

-Sarah

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My resolution is to find a balance: between keeping up with my client’s needs, answering submissions, completing conference talks, meeting deadlines, and promoting current releases, there is always a lot to do. My Hope for 2011 is to continue the juggling act. And not drop any balls. 😉

-Mandy

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My resolutions this year are pretty simple for once! I want to complete the 2011 Debut Author Challenge, and finish up the manuscript I’m working on. Nothing too exciting from me this coming year!

-Sammy

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Book Recommendation: Anna and the French Kiss

30 Dec

For the past month, all I’ve been hearing about is ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins, so when I found myself at Barnes & Noble with some Christmas money to blow, I knew which book I’d be taking home. Our very own Mandy Hubbard had mentioned how much she enjoyed it, along with just about every YA reader out there. Trusting their expert opinions, I happily grabbed my copy off the shelf, marched to the checkout line, and promptly forgot to read it over the Christmas holiday. Luckily, I had a flight that would require some entertainment, and wound up reading the entire book in one sitting yesterday.

YOU GUYS. If you don’t already own a copy of this book, go out today and buy it. Check it out from your local library. I don’t care how you get a hold of it, just do it. You won’t regret it.

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he’s taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?

First of all, be prepared to laugh. No one warned me, so I’m telling you now. This book is hilarious. Anna is full of observations and commentary about her life and the people in it, and nearly all of them brought a smile to my face. Some of the conversations she has, and the things she does to avoid embarrassing herself, are just adorable. Stuck in a new city, in a new country where she can’t speak French, she’s constantly taking note of the way people act and speak. At one point she even writes out, phonetically, how to order a movie ticket. Little things like that are what really make this book shine. Not to mention that fact that it just makes you feel good. By the time you turn the last page, you’ll be grinning from ear to ear. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible not to.

Anna and St. Clair really make the story. Anna’s voice is fantastic, sarcastic, funny, charming, and exactly how your best friend sounds. You feel like you’ve known her your entire life. St. Clair is that guy you fantasize about, that you wish weren’t fictional. He has flaws, makes mistakes, but you can’t help but fall in love with him along with Anna, and every other girl who attends SOAP. Their friends are all people you can recognize from your own life, and like just about everyone on the planet, they have to deal with moving away from home, family drama, and the ups and downs that come with being a teenager. The high school drama is there, but never in a dose they can’t handle. Anna is forced to deal with stereotypes Americans have of foreigners, and vice versa. The situations these characters are put in are real, and the author does an incredible job of making you believe in everything that’s going on, and making you care. That’s the most important thing —  you really care about these characters. Even past the last page. (I would know, I’ve been thinking about this book nonstop since I finished it.)

I’ve read a lot of YA in my time, and I think this is one of the most convincing love stories I’ve ever come across. I believed every bit of it. Nothing seemed forced or unrealistic. Sure, there was some drama – its protagonists are teenagers – but it was never too much or over-the-top. It walked that fine line very well, and I actually found myself wanting to give the characters advice on numerous occasions. I think it’s rare when you care that much about a fictional character, and I applaud Stephanie Perkins for that. The girl has a gift.

Though my knowledge of Paris is similar to Anna’s at the very beginning of the book (Amelie and Moulin Rouge), I grew to know it along with her. As a reader, you’re gradually taught some of the idiosyncrasies of Paris and its people, how some things are pronounced, and even run across a few important landmarks. It’s like going to Paris, but not. Now that I’ve got this mental picture stuck in my head, I’m even more determined to see the real thing.

Part of the reason I really loved this book was because Anna’s journey is one many readers can connect with. She has to learn to navigate a new city, make new friends, adjust to a new culture, learn another language, and numerous other challenges. When she managed to overcome those problems, I wanted to cheer for her! I clapped when she finally braved the city on her own, and I felt her pain when she realized things at home weren’t as great as she remembered. Living abroad changes you. It’s unavoidable. I liked that Stephanie Perkins included that detail in her story because it made Anna’s situation even more realistic. And lord knows there are probably plenty of us who have been in love with our best friend at one time or another. If you have, this book will ring especially true for you. And if you haven’t, well, you’ll learn how frustrating it is! The emotional roller coaster is spot-on.

Everything about this story is totally charming, from the title to the very last sentence. I’m happy to report there are two companion novels that will follow, but in the meantime, if you buy one book this year, buy this one. I promise you won’t regret it.

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Sammy Bina is in her last year of college, majoring in Creative Writing. Currently an intern with the Elaine P. English Literary Agency, she is taking a break from querying to work on a new project, a YA dystopian. You can find her on twitter, or check out her blog.

Why I Write for Young Adults

29 Dec

by Julie Eshbaugh

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Today is my birthday, *throws confetti* so I thought that, instead of a typical “Julie post” centering on a specific writing technique, I would post a more philosophical post (what I tend to think of as a “Savannah post” ;D) about why I write Young Adult fiction. My birthday seemed a proper occasion to discuss the reasons why a writer who has moved beyond her own “young adulthood” might continue to write about characters in their teens. Tucked in with my “reasons why” are a few “reasons why not.” In other words, YA isn’t for everyone. In explaining why I continue to write for young adults, maybe I can help other writers see why YA might be right – or wrong – for them.

Reason #1 – Teen Protagonists Rock

Why are teen protagonists so fabulous? I could list dozens of reasons, but here are my favorite characteristics of teens, in no particular order:

• They are still discovering who they are. They can do something incredible and not seem to be acting out of character, or be going against everything that has defined them for the past ten years.
• They aren’t jaded yet. They may think they are, but their ideas are still flexible. Compare your favorite teen hero to his or her parent to see what I mean. Katniss did things in THE HUNGER GAMES that her mother could never have done. Well, maybe her mother could have done those things, before she’d been broken by life. In other words, back when she, herself, was a teenager.
• Teenagers are resilient. Their young bodies bounce back. If Haymitch survived some of the physical challenges Katniss survived, the writer might lose some credibility. Imagine Dumbledore in Harry’s place and I’m sure you can see what I mean.
• One of the universal truths of humanity is that we all started out young and naïve. We all were children once. We all were teenagers. The experience of seeing the world through young eyes is universal.

Reason #2 – I LOVE teenagers

This is a pretty important reason to me, and should be considered carefully by any writer beyond their own young adulthood before deciding to write for young adults. If you don’t truly enjoy the company of teenagers, I think you should reconsider if this is the audience you should write for. There are a lot of adults who feel they have something to “teach” teenagers. Those adults should consider ways other than YA novels to reach out to young people. Teenagers are smart. They know if they are being preached to or if the book they are reading is meant to deliver a moral lesson. YA editors recognize these “lessons” disguised as “fiction” too, and reject them. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that a book shouldn’t have meaning. But there is a difference between a story with meaning and a sermon written as a story.

Personally, I know I love teenagers because I’ve been working as a mentor for teens for about twelve years now. My favorite hour of my week is the hour I spend with about fifteen teenagers. I also know that not everyone my age feels this way. That’s understandable. Young adults invigorate some people; others they drain. Keep this in mind if you want to write YA. If you can’t imagine yourself spending time with your characters and their friends, then maybe you should write for a different audience.

Reason #3 – I choose to read YA books

I don’t read YA exclusively. My favorite genre to read is YA, followed closely by literary fiction. However, I’ve noticed that many of my favorite non-YA books have teenaged protagonists. The action of ATONEMENT by Ian McEwan is set in motion by an event that involved young adult characters. LOLITA by Nabokov involves a young girl and her complex relationship with an adult man. CATCHER IN THE RYE and THE LOVELY BONES revolve around teenagers, even though they are not generally seen as YA novels. I count all of these books among my favorites.

But the truth is, when I walk into a bookstore, I head straight for the Young Adult section. My favorite books of 2010 were THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy. I absolutely devoured them, and I know that they will forever remain near the top of my “favorite books of all time” list. Though it sometimes may be unpopular to admit this, I truly enjoyed the TWILIGHT saga. I recently read THE POISON DIARIES by Maryrose Wood (a book that really deserved more attention than it received) and wondered, as I closed the last page, how I would endure the wait for the next installment. Add the realistic worlds of books by writers like Laurie Halse Anderson to the sci-fi/fantasy worlds of writers like Suzanne Collins, and there is nothing my literary appetite craves that can’t be found in the YA section of the bookstore.

So these are my personal reasons for writing YA. My husband says the true reason is that I have never stopped being a teenager. Sadly, I know that isn’t true. But it is true that I have never forgotten what it feels like to be a teenager. And I hope that by reading and writing YA, I never will forget.

Long live my teenaged self! Because “young Julie” was flexible, unafraid, resilient, and unjaded. Somehow, I’ve managed to keep young Julie’s spirit alive inside “not-so-young Julie.” If reading and writing Young Adult fiction have contributed to that, may I NEVER EVER stop!

Do you write for young adults? Are you still in that age group yourself? Do you know that the adult market is the only market for you? What about middle grade or children’s? Please share your opinions with me in the comments!

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Julie Eshbaugh is represented by Natalie Fischer of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.  She is also a freelance editor. You can read her blog here and find her on Twitter here.

 

3 Things to Do While Querying

28 Dec

How many of you guys out there are querying or planning to query soon? It’s an interesting process to say the least—full of ups and down and random jerks sideways (just to keep you on your toes, you know).

There’s checking your email fifty times a day, squealing every time an agent responds and going into a) an Omg-I’m-SO-excited dance or b) a Whaat?-but-but-but… pout fest depending on the contents of the email. There’s the memorization of the mailman’s delivery times, if you’re one of those who send queries by snail mail. And there’s lots and lots of query-stress venting to writer friends who smile and try to be encouraging and tell you to CALM DOWN, you just sent that full three days ago, of course Agent Awesomesauce hasn’t read it yet.

But mostly, there’s just a lot of waiting. A looott of waiting. Days and days and weeks and weeks of waiting…kind of like how you’re waiting now for me to stop blabbering and get to the point of this article.

…which is: (ahem) Three Things to Do When Querying.

Number 1: Sleep on everything.

No, not literally. I know at least one of you out there had a Huh? moment. I’m not recommending you develop a sudden habit of conking out on department store bed displays or subway benches.

What I mean is, don’t make any hasty decisions. Wrote a batch of queries today? Resist the urge to send them all off immediately. Sleep on it, then re-read them the next morning with a fresh mind and see if there are any grammar/spelling mistakes. Make sure you’re addressing the right person, too. That always helps with the whole Make a Good Impression thing.

The same goes for any substantial reply you make to an agent. A few hours usually won’t hurt anything, and it’ll help keep you from regretting hastily penned responses. At the very least, wait fifteen minutes or something. I don’t know about you, but anything I write tends to be more coherent and rational if I’ve had sixty minutes to ponder it, versus one.

Number 2: Research some more agents

This will keep you busy and help dull the insatiable appetite you’ve probably developed for all things publishing related. Use Querytracker and AgentQuery until you can navigate them with your eyes closed. Follow #askagent and #askintern and #queries on Twitter.

Find an agent who sounds great for your book? Read any interviews they’ve done. Check out their agency’s website. See if they tweet or have a blog. Research, research, research. Then craft a query to suit their interests—while remaining true to your story, of course.

Number 3: Work on your next book

You’re going to need one. I don’t remember who said this, or even the exact words he said, but it rings true to me: “I want to be a writer, not someone who has written a book.” Okay, so we can argue all day long about who gets to be called a “writer,” but that’s not the point. The point is, keep writing! If you find Mr./Ms. Perfect Agent and get signed, then yay! you’re ahead of the game for book number two! If, for whatever reason, your current book fails to attract any offers, well, you’ve got another project in the works.

Any other tips from those of you querying? If you haven’t started yet, what are your thoughts/apprehensions about the matter?

And finally, good luck to all!

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Kat Zhang is a Spoken Word poet and a Creative Writing major. She is represented by Emmanuelle Morgen and spends most of her free time whipping HYBRID–a book about a girl with two souls–into shape for submission to publishers. You can read more about her writing process and books at her blog.


 

It’s All In the Name

27 Dec

By Sammy Bina

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I feel really horrible for my future children. They’re probably all going to hate me because there is no chance of them having a normal name. Absolutely zero. You won’t see any Sarah’s or Elizabeth’s or Katie’s here. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had this fascination with unique and unusual names. Samantha’s pretty popular and commonplace, so I’ve always wanted my kids (and pets… and electronic devices…) to stand out. I figure they can thank me when they’re adults and can better appreciate the individuality I helped cultivate.

That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway.

Writing a novel is kind of like having a baby. One of the first things expecting parents do is pick out names, and you can’t really begin writing without one. As soon as you know whether your MC is male or female, it’s time to start thinking about what you want to call them. If you’re anything like me, you spend hours (and I’m not joking. I mean HOURS.) searching for the perfect name. I’ve got loads of baby name books and websites for just such an occasion. I’ll pull them all out, along with a sheet of paper, and jot down any that catch my eye. Here’s a list of my most used resources:

20,000 Names
Babynames.com
Baby Names of Ireland
Babyhold.com
COOL NAMES by Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz
BEYOND JENNIFER & JASON, MADISON & MONTANA by Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz
100,000 PLUS BABY NAMES by Bruce Lansky
BEST EXOTIC BABY NAMES by Allison Jones
CLASSICAL BIBLICAL BABY NAMES by Judith Tropea

However, I recently ran into a snag using this method. My current WIP revolves around a girl whose name I ended up making up myself. When I got the idea for the story, I felt as though I already knew her. I understood her personality and motivations, and knew how she’d react in just about any situation. Knowing those key aspects of my character made it easy to come up with an appropriate name. The problem, however, came with her love interest.

Let me explain.

Originally I’d chosen a name for this boy based on the fact that I liked it. That was all. I’d wanted to use it for a while, and this project seemed like as good an excuse as any to whip it out and slap it on someone. So I wrote half the book using it. I loved it, and knew my MC did, too.

And that was fine and dandy until I really started to get to know the character. When I first started writing, I had pictured him one way, but the more I grew to understand him, I realized the name I’d chosen was all wrong. He’s a soft-spoken guy who learns to become more outspoken and challenge authority, and the name I’d given him was a horrible fit. The more I used it, the more cringe-worthy it became. I knew it was time to hit the drawing board.

Two weeks later and I still haven’t found a replacement, but I’m working on it. So, in the meantime, I thought I’d give you a list of things to consider when it comes time for you to name your characters, so you don’t get stuck in the same boat as me!

1. Personality: When I was a kid, I used to hate the name Samantha. I spent years begging my mom to let me switch my first and middle names so everyone would have to call me Nicole instead. Then I grew up and realized my personality didn’t match the name Nicole at all. Think about your best friend – if they wanted to change their name, you’d probably tell them it was a stupid idea. Not necessarily because the name they preferred was lame or weird, but because it didn’t match their personality. When you have a baby, you obviously have no idea what they’re going to be like when they grow up, but with characters it’s entirely different. You’ve already got an idea of how this person is going to behave. That makes your job at least a little bit easier!

2. Sound: Does it sound okay when you say it out loud? How about when you say it in conjunction with your character’s love interest (or companions, if the story isn’t a romance)? For example, Sammy and Benedict doesn’t sound nearly as good as Samantha and Ben. The first sounds kind of clunky, while the second has a pretty good flow. Keep in mind the syllable count and vowel sounds. You probably don’t want to name your main characters Dan and Jan, nor do you want to go with Cleopatra and Elijah. It’s one of those weird balancing acts. Look at some of your favorite fictional characters (books or movies will do) and see how their names have been combined. Most of the time, they’re a pretty good example.

3. Pronunciation vs. Perception: I’ve always had a thing for Irish names. The spellings are a bit strange in comparison to the way they are pronounced (for example, Niamh is pronounced “neev”). When picking an unusual name, you don’t want to pick something a reader is going to stumble over. Science fiction is full of oddball names, but something like Klasdpjklasdj isn’t a good choice. Similarly, the way you pronounce a name may not be the same way your readers are going to. If I didn’t know better, I’d assume Niamh is pronounced “nee-am,” and I’d say that in my head every time I came across it. Case in point: Hermione. When the Harry Potter books first came out, I think every single one of my friends pronounced it differently. Luckily, we had the movies to set us straight. But basically, unless you want your readers spending a lot of time fumbling over your name choices, it’s best to stick to those that are unique, but easy to figure out.

Obviously there will probably be other things to consider, depending on your story and its characters, but those are some pretty basic guidelines that I hope will get you on your way! Godspeed, expecting writers!

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Sammy Bina is in her last year of college, majoring in Creative Writing. Currently an intern with the Elaine P. English Literary Agency, she is taking a break from querying to work on a new project, a YA dystopian. You can find her on twitter, or check out her blog.

Happy Holidays Part 2

25 Dec

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Happy Holidays to everyone!

Happy Holidays from LTWF – With a song!

24 Dec

We know many of you will be busy or traveling over this weekend, so we thought we’d leave you with an inspiring, holiday-themed song parody, sung by Susan, with lyrics by Savannah!

Don’t Judge a Book by its… Title

23 Dec

Guest Post by Aya Tsintziras

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Aya Tsintziras, 2011 Debut Author

We’ve all heard the old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover.” But what about a book’s title? What you choose to call your novel is just as important as the cover image, the story and the writing. Titles can be mysterious or intriguing, drawing the reader in at first glance (Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife or Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games come to mind) or they can be clever, making the reader think and search for the title’s explanation within the plot (like Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why or Gayle Forman’s If I Stay). Most importantly, your title should explain something about the book. So, yes, titles matter, just as covers do, and you should definitely judge a title.

What happens when you think you’ve found the perfect title? Or if you query an agency with that title, spend months and months editing that novel under the title, and get a book deal with that title – only to hear your title must be changed?

This is what happened to me. I wrote my novel, formerly known as RAINFALL, at sixteen, started working with a literary agency at eighteen, and got the good news that my novel had been sold this past summer at twenty. I was super excited (and still am!), of course, not only about realizing my dream of becoming a published author, something I had wished for since I was young, but about working with an editor and growing as a writer. I didn’t realize I would learn an important lesson in letting go. But that’s what this journey has turned into – the realization that not everything about your novel will stay exactly the same and always keeping an open mind is the only way to get through the changes.

My YA novel is a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl named Raine who suffers from an eating disorder and must learn how to deal in a world where being pretty means being thin. Therefore, my original title, RAINFALL, was a play on words and on the theme of the book – Raine falls, in a sense, and must pick herself back up. I’m lucky to have such a wonderful editor who was incredibly respectful about the title change, telling me that the book needs a title which eludes to the subject. She allowed me to be involved in the decision-making process and I brainstormed a few ideas. In the end, the title that was chosen was PRETTY BONES. On a personal note, I love it as it’s pretty and poetic, but from a business/marketing perspective, it’s perfect. Those two words say everything about the book – it is about beauty and it is about bones. I understand that RAINFALL does not tell you the book is about anorexia, whereas PRETTY BONES does.

My old title will always stay close to my heart. I chose it when I was in high school, a time full of many ups and downs, a time when I learned to believe in myself. I chose to write a novel and to pursue the path to publication, and that is what my old title represents to me. My title change, then, is symbolic of the fact that I have grown up, from a sixteen-year-old dreamer to a twenty-one-year-old college senior who still dreams, of course, but has made her dream into a reality.

If you are faced with the need to change your title, either a personal decision or a suggestion from your agent or editor, it’s fine to be upset – for a little while. You are letting go of something you have been attached to. But think of a title change, like any changes you will have to make during the editing process, as a new beginning. A step in the right direction. A step to making your book more marketable.

After all, if you are brave and believe in yourself as a writer, enough to pursue the crazy ride to publication, that’s what counts.

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Aya Tsintziras is finishing up her degree in Political Science and Media Studies at the University of Toronto. At fifteen, her play, Rainfall, won an Honourable Mention in the Tarragon Theatre’s Under 20 Playwright Competition. Aya turned this play into a novel and it will be published under the name PRETTY BONES on March 1 2011 by James Lorimer in North America. You can follow her on twitter @ayatsintziras.

 

Book Recommendation: Eats, Shoots, and Leaves

22 Dec

Hello, my name is Kat…

(Hi, Kat)

…and I am a Grammar Nazi.

Yes, it’s true. Well, perhaps not in the traditional sense. I make mistakes plenty of times; I certainly break the rules of grammar when style and context call for it; and God forbid I become that guy who mercilessly hounds others for missing a comma (Or…I try not to!). But when all is said and done, I have a great love for those little squiggles and lines that organize our sentences.

So when I found Eats, Shoots, & Leaves, I was in love. It combined my two favorite things–grammar and snark!

How can a grammar lover not adore a book that details “the weapons required in the apostrophe war”? (for those of you interested, the list includes correction fluid, big pens, guerilla-style clothing, strong medication for personality disorder, and a gun)

At the most basic level, Eats, Shoots, & Leaves is a book for teaching grammar. But while I learned one or two new things and had a few more affirmed, if you’re really looking for a nitty-gritty rule-book, I recommend The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. Eats, Shoots, & Leaves is so much more.

It details the history of the comma, waxes poetry on the semicolon, and calls the ellipsis “the black hole of punctuation.” And all throughout every page runs the wonderful, never-too-serious voice of the author. This book is anything but dry, and I heartily recommend it to anyone who always wondered about the correct use of an em-dash versus an en-dash.

Oh, and why the title Eats, Shoots, & Leaves?

Here’s the joke:

A panda walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.

“Why?” asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

“Well, I’m a panda,” he says. “Look it up.”

The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation:

 

“Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots, and leaves.”

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Kat Zhang is a Spoken Word poet and a Creative Writing major. She is represented by Emmanuelle Morgen and spends most of her free time whipping HYBRID–a book about a girl with two souls–into shape for submission to publishers. You can read more about her writing process and books at her blog.



Modeling Protagonists After Real Life Heroes

21 Dec

by Susan Dennard

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Heroes.  Real, genuine heroes — the people who live and breathe like the rest of us, but somehow stand apart.  Stand taller.  Earn our admiration and respect.
In Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, Donald Maass starts off by asking you to list your heroes.  Why are they are your heroes?  What about them is heroic — what qualities do they possess?

Then he goes on to tell you to try to infuse your story’s main characters with these qualities.

Can you do it?  Can you name your heroes?

These are mine:

  • Isaac Asimov
    • He devoted his life whole-heartedly to the things he loved: writing and science.  He wrote over 400 books, was a professor of biochemistry at Boston University, and paved the way for sci-fi writers of today.
  • Gichin Funakoshi
    • He was the father of modern karate.  He devoted his life to “being a better human being”, to raising his family, and to developing Karate-do. (His autobiography is AMAZING, by the way.)
  • My parents
    • They’re generous, warm, and believe 100% in following your dreams.  Mom & Dad are both devoted to doing the right thing and living their lives with happiness and love. (I know you’re groaning that I’ve listed my parents.  But for realz, they’re cool people.)

Notice that all of my heroes have one thing in common: DEVOTION.  Their lives revolved around what they believed in.  They were productive and never gave up.

When I set out to write my own heroes (usually of the “heroine” persuasion), they always possess that one quality.  No matter what, my protagonists will not give up.  They are devoted to their goals, and they will keep trying, keep acting, keep working despite the obstacles before them.

In The Spirit-Hunters, my main character, Eleanor, is in waaaaay over her head.  She’s a sheltered, high-society girl who’s spent most of her life chaperoned.  Now her brother has been kidnapped by a necromancer, walking dead are lurking in Philadelphia, and she has no idea what to do to make this all okay again.  But, she’s devoted to her brother; she’s devoted to rescuing him; and she’s devoted to doing whatever needs to be done.  And because of that one quality, she’s a hero.

Who are your favorite heroes in novels?

You can look to your favorite story characters for inspiration too.  You can no doubt guess that my favorite heroes/heroines are the ones that are devoted to TAKING ACTION!  While I enjoyed Twilight, Bella Swan’s passiveness was not my style…  All the same, the girl was 100% devoted to Edward!  Now Katniss from The Hunger Games — that’s my kinda hero!  Devoted to her family and to protecting the weak.

Of course, the protagonist needn’t be a tough-tamale like Katniss to appeal to me.  One of my favorite heroines of all time is Anne Elliot from Jane Austin’s Persuasion.  Anne is a soft-spoken sweetie, but she’s devoted to doing what’s right and being true to herself.

What about you?

Tell me your heroes — both real life and fiction.  What qualities make them heroes?  Do your own protagonists have these qualities?