Archive by Author

Pub(lishing) Crawl Launch!!

9 Jan

It’s the day we’ve all been waiting for, folks! After a month of hiatus (during which we all missed you readers like crazy), us here at Let The Words Flow are officially Pub(lishing) Crawl! But it’s not just us–we’ve got SIX super exciting new members to introduce to you guys, one each day. Then we’ll be re-introducing us old members in groups of three/four. And every week day of January, we’ll be giving away prizes–ARCs, finished books, manuscript critiques… 😀 😀

What are you waiting for??

Here’s the link–see you on the other side!! 

www.publishingcrawl.com

SOMETHING STRANGE & DEADLY cover!

8 Nov

In case you missed it yesterday, Susan unveiled the cover for SOMETHING STRANGE & DEADLY on her blog yesterday. We think you all ought to go take a look, because it’s gorgeous 😀

NaNoWriMo Live Blog Tomorrow! And you’re invited!

3 Nov

(depending on where you live, this might actually be happening…I dunno, today. Don’t look at me to calculate timezones :P)

ETA: Alright, this is Kat here going to bed, so I won’t be updating this until tomorrow morning. Just assume everyone’s started, lol. Either Sav or I will do a fresh post tomorrow with the list and such. Good night! Happy writing!

ETA: Most of us have started now!! 😀

Edit from Savannah: I made a Twitter list so if you’re on Twitter you can follow other writers participating tomorrow as we cheer each other on (or try to psych each other out, as Kat and I will be doing!). You can view and follow the list here! @ me if you’d like to be added! Tomorrow let’s use the hashtag #ltwfwordwar for our live-blog-related tweets!

ETA: We’re getting closer to the start time for those of you in Europe, I believe (again, timezones…don’t ask me), and I’m really excited about the great group we’ve got going! Anyone is free to request to be added anytime, even if the 4th has already started where you are. Just comment below! 

I do want to remind everyone, though, that part of the reason we’re doing this is to get everyone writing as a group and provide encouragement to one another. So please, please, whether or not you’re participating as a writer, visit the blogs in the list below and say something nice! (unless you’re Sav or me….we’re allowed to be mean to one another ;P) This is not the time to be shy. I really hope that by the end of the day, everyone has gathered up a nice chain of comments cheering them on. For sure, I’ll be making the rounds and leaving notes as much as I can!! 🙂

So even if you’re in the US and are behind the people in Europe (or poor Jessica alone in Australia, lol..), go say nice things!! It’s good writing karma. Really.

Hey guys, Kat here! So, how’s everyone doing with their NaNo writing? I’ve heard of some people already hitting 25k, which is RIDICULOUS, I tell you. RIDICULOUS 😉

Anyway, I dunno if you guys saw the writing war that Beth Revis and Stephanie Perkins did a little while back, but we here at LTWF thought it was pretty awesome and fun, so we decided to shamelessly steal borrow their idea for NaNo! Hopefully, they won’t mind, cause we think they’re awesome 🙂

The difference between their liveblog and this one, however, is that we’re inviting all of you!

So this is how it works (you can click on the links above to Beth and Stephanie’s blogs if you want an idea of how theirs looked like)

Savannah and I are both in US Central time, so we’ll be starting in the morning of that timezone…whenever we get up, haha. We’re waiting to see if any other LTWF folks throw down the gauntlet, but at the very least, Sav and I (Kat!) will be doing this for sure for just about the WHOLE DAY. We’ll be posting updates on our own, private blogs (you can find the links in the right-hand sidebar) every so often…as well as talking about what’s distracting us, haha.

But you, dear readers–we’re inviting YOU to join the great writing war! It doesn’t matter what time zone you’re in. You’ll just get a head start on us or get to stay up later! Post in the comments if you want to join the great End Of Week One NaNo Word War, with a link to your blog and your word count goal (if you’d like, tell us your time zone, too), and we’ll add you to the enlistment list here. Then tomorrow, we can all check out each other’s progress, leave each other sassy and sarcastic encouraging comments, and so on!

Any questions? 😀

Enlistment List (please see note in blue at top of post):

1. Kat Zhang – Word Goal: 6,000 (US Central time) <–Has started!!

2. Savannah Foley – Word Goal: 10,000!!!! (US Central time)

3. Jessica Lewenda – Word Goal: 8,000 (Australia) <–It’s the 4th there, so already started!

4. Brittany Severn – Word Goal: 3,000

5. Amanda – Word Goal: 4,000 (US Eastern time)

6. Kae – Word Goal: 3,000-4,000 (US Eastern time) <–Has started!

7. Heather – Word Goal: 15,000 (UK) Kat’s note: I know folks, I’m scared, too 😉 <–Has started!

8. Ellen – Word Goal: 3,000-4,000 (US Central time) <–Has started!

9. Ashelynn Hetland – Word Goal: 5,000 (US Mountain time)

10. Kayleigh – Word Goal: 2,777 (France) <–Has started!

11. Julie Fisher – Word Goal: 4,000 (UK) <–Has started!

12. Katelyn – Word Goal: 3,500 (US Central time)

13. Adeeti Goswami – Word Goal: 3,000 (US Pacific time)

Anyone else?? LTWF wants YOU for the Word War!!

QOTW: Living as a Character

7 Oct

This week’s question is:

If you could live the life of a single character for one day, whose story would you want?

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If I could live a character’s life for one day, I’d definitely want to be Menolly from DRAGONSONG (by Anne McCaffrey). I realize I’m probably dating myself with this choice, BUT…I can’t help it. My first world-love is still my biggest. The world from DRAGONSONG has everything I’d like to see:  Dragons? Check. Unique culture? Check. Danger? Check. Scale and depth? Yep. Handsome guys? OH YEAH.  Yes, I realize now that Menolly’s character is something of a Mary Sue, but as a lonely, self-conscious, painfully shy 13-year-old, I needed that kind of character to look up to.

-Susan Dennard

~~~

I’d want to be Sabriel (from SABRIEL by Garth Nix) for a day! Kick-ass necromancy skills, a talking/sarcastic cat, a super-cool sword, and a killer outfit…? Totally my thing. I’d rock that bandolier of bells so hardcore.

 

-Sarah Maas

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Wow, what a difficult question. There’s so many worlds I’d love to get into. Is Hermione a cop-out? 😉 I want to transfigure something, just once! And now for my real answer… definitely Thursday Next, of the Thursday Next series. A literary detective hopping from book to book to solve mysteries in a world where time travel exists and you can literally get inside the pages of your favorite novel? Sign me up for Spec-Ops 27; then I could visit ALL the worlds!

-Savannah Foley

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I’d want to be Lyra Belacqua from HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy by Philip Pullman for a day. I mean, who DOESN’T want a daemon companion? Plus, Pantalaimon is amazing. And cool. He’s the only daemon I’d ever want.   And let’s not forget that I’d live in a sweet alternate universe – one way more exciting than our plain old one! Witches, talking polar bears (one I could RIDE on, which is just icing on the cake) and a nickname like Silvertongue? YES PLEASE!

-Vanessa Di Gregorio

~~~

Which character would YOU like to live as?

QOTW: When to do Research

2 Sep

This week’s question is from Rae, who asks:

When you have to do a lot of research for a novel, do you do it beforehand or after you finish the first draft?

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So far, I haven’t written anything that required a ton of research from the get-go, but whenever I come across anything in a particular scene or whatnot that requires research, I generally do the research before writing the scene. For me, it’s just much easier that way. An essential part of the scene might hinge on something being so-and-so way, and all that would have to be scrapped later on if the something wasn’t so-and-so way after all.

This seems, to me, even more critical when the research is relevant for the novel as a whole. I mean, you wouldn’t want to write a Victorian novel that centers around poor girl who decides to make a living off being a photographer, only to find out that photography was extremely expensive in the Victorian era and not really a job for the penniless. Of course, adjustments can always be made, but it just seems like added trouble.

Plus, when I do research beforehand, I often stumble across facts and tidbits that inspire me more for the scene/book!

-Kat Zhang

~~~

Great question! I actually research before, during, and after.

For SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY, I did a solid month of research before I wrote the book. I learned about etiquette, technology, clothing, etc. I gathered maps and studied the people and wound up researching much more than I actually used…and yet I still had to research things as I wrote! What kind of carriage goes here? How strongly does that chemical smell? If a corpse has been dead four years, how much has it decomposed (nice stuff, eh?)? Worst of all, months after I sold the book, I finally got to visit Philadelphia (where the story is set), only to find that I had totally mis-imagined the layouts or feel of certain settings! (Fortunately, I could still make changes during my editorial revisions!)

With the sequel to SS&D, I did minimal research before I began writing–a few maps and some books with descriptions. As such, there are a lot of sections that say <insert description of gardens here>,or <insert description of waltz here>. These are things that I’ll research when I visit Paris (tomorrow, actually!). Admittedly, I already know all about the clothes, the etiquette, and the technology, but by not boning up on 1876 Paris (and saving that work for later), I’ve saved myself many, MANY hours of work while writing the first draft.

-Susan Dennard

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For me, it depends on what I’m writing. I’ll do some preliminary research beforehand just to make sure I’m not completely wrong. During the actual writing, I’ve been known to get lost in references and Wikipedia for hours at a time. …Some call it procrastination ;).

While actually writing, I find research inspires me and helps me develop a plot with solid connections. One of my favourite things is when events in history are so perfectly intertwined with events in your story that suddenly your plot seems like it’s genius. You may never mention those events in your writing, but knowing they fit gives you a much better context and feel for the setting.

It’s also great to come across side things. Doing research exposes me not only to what I’m researching, but to things I wouldn’t have even thought of looking up. If it’s interesting, my mind starts racing and all the possibilities of how I could incorporate it zip through my head. There have been a few times where chapters have turned out very different than how I imagined because of all this new information. I truly believe that it not only makes my plot stronger because the aspects are accurate, but because of the depth that the small and interesting details add. And like I said, even if you don’t use it, you still know it exists, and it gives you a better understanding of the story. Or at least that’s what I’ve noticed with myself.

In terms of research afterwards, like Susan said, there are a few things that I’ll skip over if I know they won’t do anything for the plot. To use Susan’s example, waiting until later to research the waltz won’t change the fact that they’ll still be dancing the waltz. The only time this kind of thing can screw you over is if you do something like talk about waltzing in the 1700’s.

-Biljana Likic

~~~

I find it easiest and most effective to research before and during writing. Before I star writing, whether it’s the whole project or a certain scene I like having all the background information I might need. For instance, travel times by different modes of transportation. You can’t have someone ride a hundred miles in a day on one horse and if you don’t know the correct timing it can throw off not only your facts but your pacing as well. For more modern projects knowing the layout of a they city you’re using as a setting or local slang can be important. If you don’t do the research beforehand you might have to change big portions of the MS later.

I also do research while I’m writing. If there’s something I’m not sure about I’ll get to a stopping point and look it up. Not only does this make sure I get my facts write, I often come across new information that answers questions I hadn’t even thought to ask yet. It all depends on how you write and what’s easiest.

-Jenn Fitzgerald

~~~

When do YOU do your research?

The Great Big Post of Querying

12 Aug

So, recently, a reader emailed me asking me how I went about querying and finding my agent. I’d actually meant to put up a post about this a long time ago, but the old post included my actual query, which, now that I look at it, is rather spoilery…

I will, however, go through some of the tools I found most helpful and give a basic outline of how the process went.

I started writing my query letter literally a month or so before I sent out my first email (I didn’t snail mail any queries), and then I revised and revised and revised and revised some more. I sent it to critique partners, read it to friends, etc, until I’d whittled it down to about three paragraphs that made sense, got to the heart of the conflict, and gave the reader just enough world building. 

During this time, I was collecting a list of agents I’d like to work with, too. Many of these names I got from blogs, since I’d spent so much time reading agent blogs to figure out how to put together a query letter in the first place. Some I got from contests (I got my agent Emmanuelle’s name from Miss Snark’s First Victim’s Secret Agent Contest!).

 Wherever I got the names from, I checked to see if they had blogs or twitter or anything like that. Not everyone does, and that’s fine if they don’t, but if they do tweet or whatever, sometimes you can get an idea of what they’re looking for. I know the internet’s not the best way to make a judge of character or anything, but sometimes you can get a sense of how someone’s like to work with.                                                      .
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Also, a check on querytracker (I did a whole long post about that here) never hurt, either. There’s also www.agentquery.com, but I didn’t use that as much. However, they usually list a number of links to interviews and such that the agent has done, and those can be really helpful. 

Publisher’s Marketplace does require a subscription fee, but it’s not too bad and if you have a membership, you can see what’s been sold by whom and to whom. Which is handy if you’re looking to see who has, say, a really good track record in cozy mysteries or something. Not all sales get reported to PM, though, and some are reported late, so it’s not an end all be all source. 

The Absolute Write forum (or water cooler, as they call it) can be very helpful, too. Many agencies have their own thread in the Writers Beware subforum, and you can search a particular agent’s name to see what sort of experience other writers have had with them in the past. Often, you’ll even see a few people announce that they’ve recently signed on with said agent. The smaller agencies sometimes have rather lackluster, seldom-visited threads, though…which doesn’t at all reflect on the quality of the agency. 

Finally, I got a TON of help from just other writers. The girls at LTWF were an enormous help, as were other friends I made online, who gave me advice about everything from manuscript formatting to query-letter-writing.

I sent out queries in really small batches, since my overall list was pretty small. I ended up signing with Emmanuelle after about two months (longest two months of my life. Truly, lol), but I suppose if I hadn’t gotten any offers after a long while, I would have had to widen my search a little. 

In the end, everybody talks so much about query, and there’s a ton of advice out there (even about the best day of the week or the best time of day to send a query—as a literary intern, I’m just going to say…at least at the agency where I work, this is not going to matter in the least), but in the end, there’s only so much you can do. And writing a really strong story trumps most of the other stuff anyway 🙂

~~~

Kat Zhang is a Spoken Word poet and a Creative Writing major. She is represented by Emmanuelle Morgen and her book WHAT’S LEFT OF ME is about a 15-year-old girl fighting for her right to survive in a world where two souls are born to each body and one is doomed to disappear. It recently sold in a three-book deal to HarperTeen. You can read more about her writing process, travels, and books at her blog.

QOTW: Keeping Personal Bias from Your Stories

4 Aug

This week’s question is from Ramani, who asks:

How do you keep personal bias from your stories? Like, I’ve noticed that my relationship with my mother often reflects on my character’s mother.

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Interesting question. I’m not sure I’ve ever had that issue… Maybe because my character’s lives are so very different from my own? Also, I never model my characters after real-life people, so maybe that’s another reason why bias has never come into play. For example, all the mother figures in my novels are drastically different from my mom (like, they’re cruel, filled with secret pasts, or money-hungry while my mom is loving, honest, and generous).

That said, my attitudes might make appearances. I feel strongly about the environment and global climate change, so if I ever wrote an MC in a position where those issues mattered, I’m pretty sure my protagonists would feel the same way I do! And I’m not sure that’s a bad thing–like, if it was appropriate to the story, I wouldn’t try to keep that personal bias out.

I think as long as your bias isn’t negatively affecting your story, then there’s no need to worry! If it is, then clearly your conscious of it and can change it! Remember, in the end, YOU control your characters–not the other way around. 🙂

Susan Dennard

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I’m with Sooz in that I don’t really have that problem either — I generally steer clear of basing characters on people I know in real life. Fiction is about exploration, and what fun is that if you’re just dredging up things you see and experience on a daily basis? Obviously it’s good to write about what you know, but it’s just as important to use your imagination. Honestly, you know yourself pretty well, and the great thing about writing is that it’s fluid — you can always go back and delete any personal bias with the hit of a button. If it suits the character, leave it. If it’s definitely you speaking through them, then it’s time to reevaluate.

That being said, my characters definitely tend to share similar likes and dislikes with me. All of my characters hate bananas, dress well, and listen to great music 😉

Sammy Bina

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I totally agree with Sammy and Sooz–very rarely do I base characters on people I know in real life (though I mighttt have used some names of particularly awful people for villains that meet untimely ends in my novels). Some of my novels or scenes, however, DO come from personal experiences–not the exact details of those events, but the feelings behind them.

My characters all share SOME things in common with me, mostly in terms of their quirks, dietary habits (like me, Celaena, the heroine in QUEEN OF GLASS, abhors eating fish), and musical preferences. But I also like to make heroines that are vastly different from me. In A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES, my YA “Beauty and the Beast” retelling, Feyre, the heroine, is nearly illiterate. As someone who can’t LIVE without books, it was really fun and challenging for me to write about a girl who grew up without the comfort of books/stories. It made me, as a writer and a person, really re-examine what life would be like without those things–and without the privilege of an education. It was both fascinating and a bit terrifying.

Like Sammy said, though, fiction is about exploration! There’s nothing WRONG with your heroine having a similar relationship with her mother, but don’t be afraid to branch out. You might discover some new things about yourself–and your writing–in the process! 🙂

Sarah Maas

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I am very careful while writing to never force my own feelings and opinions on my characters. I hate it when authors give their characters the same exact social and political outlook as themselves; it’s a type of self-insertion behavior I associate with immature writing (fan fiction anyone?). Also it can frequently read as preaching, which is obviously a big no-no. Note: I’m talking about really obvious preaching, not occasionally sharing some of your attitudes with your characters, as in Susan’s case 🙂

I had to learn to take a lot of political stuff out of Nameless just because it’s not interesting to anyone else; if they want to learn about gender equality issues hopefully the story will inspire them to learn more, not my preaching in the novel.

But it’s not exactly like not preaching is some huge sacrifice. I love getting into different perspectives with my characters, and of course you can always apply details from real life into the anecdotes that explain why they feel a certain way. For example, in my YA zombie book, Milani’s father was stationed at the military base at Pearl Harbor. My own father was in the military, so I was able to draw character similarities between our fathers just based on their military training, even though her father and mine are vastly different people.

I think it’s fine that you’re exploring your relationship with your mother through your characters, as long as you stay true to the character and don’t turn the story into a platform for preaching, or get into the habit where you insert so much from your real life that it hijacks your plot. 🙂

Savannah Foley

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Do you find your own viewpoints and biases sneaking into your stories?

Writing the 2nd Book in a Trilogy

18 Jul

by Kat Zhang

So, I’m almost done with the first draft of my outline for Book #2. Considering I just turned in my edits for WHAT’S LEFT OF ME (eee! New title still makes me all tingly, lol), it may or may not be a little early to be working on the outline, but somehow, I suspect not. Either way, considering I go just a little bit crazy when I don’t have something writerly to be working on (especially when school isn’t in session and ready to distract me with physics and spanish and american politics), I don’t really have much choice in the matter.

The outline will need to be cured of about two or three good-sized plot holes before it’s in a state to be shown anyone. Not to mention the line “I will think of something appropriately sweet and non-cliche eventually, haha” is probably going to be replaced at some point. Yeah.

But overall, I’m pretty darn satisfied with the whole thing, and so very relieved that I am. Of course, we’ll have to see if my agent and editor and the rest of the team at HarperTeen are satisfied before it’s full sails ahead for my starting to write the actual book, but I personally can’t write a book unless I feel a certain soul in it, and I think I’ve found the right one for Book #2 of the Hybrid Trilogy.

To be honest, I’ve never written a trilogy before. So this whole process has been very much a learning experience as I try to figure out what constitutes a good sequel, especially when it also has to serve as the bridge between books 1 and 3.

I decided early on that I wanted to steer away from a common complaint people have about second books in a trilogy—that they’re the weakest ones. The ones with the least excitement. That they often only serve to put things in place for book 3. I hope that this book 2 comes to stand on its own as a story in and of itself—of course strongly connected to the other books, but no lesser than its fellows in terms of plot or characterization or excitement.

This is probably all way early to talk about considering WHAT’S LEFT OF ME is still a good year away from publication, but I’d like to keep a record as I go on writing and editing and outlining this series—both for myself and for whomever else is actually interested. So as of today, the first draft for the outline for Book #2 is just about done. I’ll let you guys know when I actually start the first true words of the manuscript.

I’ll die of excitement. I swear 😉

~~~

Kat Zhang is a Spoken Word poet and a Creative Writing major. She is represented by Emmanuelle Morgen and her book WHAT’S LEFT OF ME is about a 15-year-old girl fighting for her right to survive in a world where two souls are born to each body and one is doomed to disappear. It recently sold in a three-book deal to HarperTeen. You can read more about her writing process, travels, and books at her blog.

HAPPY POST HARRY POTTER!

14 Jul

A good number of you have probably seen the very last Harry Potter movie by now. (How many of you cried? Be honest!) Some of us here at LTWF have seen it, too, but a number of us are holding out until next week, when we’re going to get together and see it in the same theater :]

We were going to have a QOTW as normal today, but then we stumbled across this and thought it was more fitting to the end of the Harry Potter movie franchise…

20 Harry Potter Movie Sequels (that should never be made)

Happy Friday, folks!

-LTWF

QOTW: Are you affected by your story’s own tragedies?

8 Jul

This week’s question is from Allie, who asks:

Do you ever find yourself crying over the death of one of your characters? Or angry over a betrayal in the story? Even though you are the one who has devised the tragedy. Because sometimes when I am writing, I find myself slightly angry at one of my characters. Or kind of sorry when a character tells a sad part of their back story. I was just wondering of there is anyone else who goes through the same thing in their story.

~~~

Absolutely. I think it’s only natural that you would feel the emotions that you put your characters through, especially during high-emotion scenes. If I know I’m going to have a death scene I’m usually thinking about it months in advance, but when I actually write it I spend hours on it, getting really involved in all the nuances of the scene. Recently as I wrote a death scene in my sleeping beauty retelling, ROSES OF ASH, I cried. It was just a really beautiful and sad death.

I do sometimes get angry at my characters, too, especially if they’re being mean on purpose. But it goes back to getting really involved in your scenes so that you can channel honest emotions.

Savannah Foley

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I was talking about something similar to this just the other day.  I don’t know that I cry over the deaths (since I’ve been steeling myself for it for so long), but I do get completely fluttery and giddy when I write the love-interest scenes.  I literally fall in love with the love interest for whatever book I’m writing at that point (shh! Don’t tell my hubby!).  Heck, I’m grinning right now just thinking about the next scene I’ll write with my WIP’s lover-boy. 😀

And as for betrayal scenes–oh yeah!  I sink right into my MC’s head, and inevitably, the outraged tears will come.  I just channel those reactions right onto the page.  I also get frustrated with my characters when they refuse to change (even though I’ve crafted them to be that way!) or see the truth.

I think part of writing authentically is really feeling all of your emotions, so I think it’s a great thing you get choked up or annoyed when you write!

Susan Dennard

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I tend to write really close third person narratives or first person narratives, so I definitely really get into my character’s shoes and try to feel everything they feel. So for me, it’s sort of done on purpose. I feel like I can’t write the scene properly unless I really put myself in their situation and work out their emotions. It’s always been sort of easy for me to feel what other people might be feeling (a bit too easy sometimes, lol. Makes watching some movies/reading some books really difficult), so I definitely feel things my character does….unless it’s like….murderous intent. 🙂

Kat Zhang

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Are you affected by your story’s own tragedies?