Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Girl with the Green Pen

My fantastically brilliant critique partner, Taryn Albright, is branching off from Teen Eyes Editorial to launch her own editing service, The Girl with the Green Pen. Taryn has a fantastic reputation and tons of success stories from those who've used her editing services in the past and are now agented or contracted with publishers. She has a quick turnaround, and her critiques are flat-out amazing! Check out her new website ( and the services she offers--anything from help with queries, synopses, entire manuscripts (big picture or more extensive critiques), and all kinds of combo packages. Her rates are excellent and her services, even more so. Join the ranks of authors made more fabulous by Taryn's help!

Here's some more info from Taryn...

Me 'n' Taryn. This photo is my claim to fame.
My mission is to guide writers through the daunting task of revision. From idea development to editorial feedback to general publishing advice, I love working with stories and those who create them. As a nationally ranked swimer, I know the value of time, so I believe in quick responses from the first email to the last.

I am not just another freelance editor. Beyond providing an experienced and thorough critique, my secondary goal is to establish a relationship with my clients. I want to support you throughout the stressful submission process and celebrate with you upon any and all good news. Writers may put pen to paper alone, but it is through a community that the book gets finished, polished, and submitted.

Why The Girl with the Green Pen? Why green?

Most edits are made with a red pen. If someone critiques your manuscript, s/he will most likely cover it with red ink, right? Not so much here. I make all my notes in green because I like to reflect the idea of moving forward. Green means go, it means new life. These are ways to think of your revisions, and this is how I like to think of the editing process.

But why are you leaving Teen Eyes?

I founded Teen Eyes in August 2011 to critique your YA manuscript from the perspective of a YA. Since then, I've expanded my interest in editing. Plus I'll be 20 soon, so the "teen" part won't work much longer. I still love Teen Eyes, but I wanted to do something bigger.

I'm currently your client / have been your client in the past. What does this mean for me?

I hope nothing! I will continue to give the notes you have come to expect. This is only a change in scenery, really, and I hope you'll be excited as I am about my growth in this area.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Listening to Your Characters

I'm less than 5k away from winning NaNoWriMo, and even better, less than 10k away from finishing my first draft of The Lovely Invisible. Now is the time I can barely eat or sleep because the tension in the story is so high that I need to write, write, write to get it all out of me. Now is the time I see the story coming full circle, even in its messiness, even past the long list of "Things to Fix Later"--which brings me to listening to characters during writing.

As I've mentioned in past posts, I've done a lot of legwork with this novel in outlining, researching, and other preparations. That's great for keeping me on task with the plot and not staring at blank pages, but it makes it a little frightening when I'm in the midst of following my neat plan and--WHAM!--my headstrong main character says, "Um, excuse me, Mother Author, I can't walk down that tidy little path you paved for me. I know myself better than you do, and I would sooooo not do that." (She sounds so much like my thirteen-year-old daughter.)

"Wait, what?" I reply. "You HAVE to! I've spent weeks figuring out the timeline your story, and this needs to happen right now."

My character rolls her eyes. "Do you seriously think I'm that one-dimensional? I'm. Not. Going. To. Do. It. In this situation, here's what I'd do instead--that and nothing else."

"But. But. You're  not supposed to do that for four more chapters! And you're supposed to HATE the villain and kiss your lover boy NOW."

"Listen, Mother Author"--my character pats my tendonitis-stricken hand--"just trust me. Things will be better my way."

I groan. "All right, let's say I do follow your lead..." I feverishly flip through my note card outline. "You realize if you change this here, I'm going to have to go back and fix, like, a bazillion things to streamline the whole manuscript."


"Yeah, and that would mean a TON of revising. That's precious time, my dear character."

She folds her arms and gives me a level stare. "Did you really think you'd have a perfect first draft, Mom?"

I shrug sheepishly, and then throw my hands in the air. "Fine! You win! Are you happy?"

She squeals with delight and gives me a bear hug. "Yes! Thank you! You're the best!"

I huff. "Yeah, yeah."


Does any of this sound familiar? Am I the only one who has these battles with my characters--and lose most of the time?

But perhaps I'm winning...I just don't know it yet. Perhaps when I read my manuscript from beginning to end, I'll shake my head with wonder. Because then I'll realize, "Dang, my character was sooooo right!"

Monday, November 12, 2012

Update on NaNoWriMo

I'm deep in the trenches of NaNoWriMo again. I did NaNo last year and wrote 60k words. This year I'll be ecstatic if I write under 50k. I'm trying to finish the novel I began at the beginning of summer. Yes, I'm cheating (as I did last year). I'm starting NaNo with words already written (45k, to be exact). I really don't want my book to be 95k, but, overdrafter that I am, it probably will be. That's okay, I tell myself. I sliced 43k off my first novel, and I can do it again if necessary. Maybe next month will be DecCutABunchMo. We'll see.

All in all, NaNo is going swimmingly! I actually outlined this book (I know!), which I didn't do last year. (That novel was semi-outlined in my head, but I was too superstitious to write anything down...long story). I have a handy rubber-banded stack of note cards with all my scenes and important beats. I have a self-drawn map of my heroine's kingdom, the names and telling characteristics for my "cast," a timeline of all the days in my story and what has to happen by each day (my plot revolves around important deadlines). I also wrote the mockup back cover copy for my novel after I'd written about 20k to help keep me on track with the most important aspects. Plus I spent most of my summer buried in research (this novel takes place in ancient Greece). I still hit "research bumps" 2-3 times a week, but that's to be expected with a story like this.

All of these things--the outline, the back cover copy, the research, and other preparations--are making NaNo SO MUCH EASIER this year. It's still difficult. I'm a slow writer, so I wake up two hours earlier than my kids each morning to get a head start. And I don't usually finish my word count (I shoot for 2k a day so I get a day off on Sunday) until 3:00 in the afternoon. But what I'm NOT doing is staring at a blank page wondering what comes next. I know what comes next. And surprisingly there's still lots of room for discovery, which I love and which motivates me to write more. My outline is not so detailed that I don't switch things around or add things. I've already shuffled a few note cards in my "outline stack."

I'm well aware that everyone writes differently. I have some amazing CPs that pants their way through NaNo with brilliant material. And they pretty much started their stories from the beginning. I admire that so much because I could never write a beginning so quickly! The first 45k of my novel took me four months to write. A lot of that involved me stopping, contemplating, rethinking, and double-checking my research. I needed to get to know my characters a little more, let my story simmer in my brain. I'm finding my own groove as I write more novels, and I'm trying not to compare myself with people who write very differently--though just as well or better than me.

What I love about NaNo is that it motivates me to kick my writer butt into high gear, stop poking around with all the details, and shut up my inner editor. That's all good and fine for awhile, but then I've had it! I need to birth my first draft baby already!!!

Have you ever attempted to win NaNoWriMo before? How did you do it? Would you ever do it again?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Pit Stop on the Bonded Blog Tour

I've crawled out of my NaNoWriMo hidey hole to throw a handful of confetti for Michelle Davidson Argyle and the release of Bonded, a collection of three novella-length fairy tale reimagnings.

Michelle just happens to be one of my dearest friends. In fact, I've interviewed her on this blog before. I met Michelle back in January when she and Natalie Whipple walked into a signing for Marissa Meyer and her release of Cinder. Michelle looked so familiar, but I couldn't place how I knew her. We finally realized I'd acted in a play a few years back and played the part of her husband's wife! I had no idea Michelle was an author, and when we both shared what we wrote--fantasy with a literary slant--it felt like the stars had aligned for us to become great friends. And the stars were right!

I had the privilege of reading Bonded in its draft form, and I fell in love with Michelle's poignant and lovely writing, her three-dimensional characters, and her world of elves, fairies, sprites, dragons, and one and three-eyed villains. The most fascinating part of the world in which the three unrelated heroines coexist is their mysterious ability to form lifetime mystical bonds with certain handsome and magical male fairies. Is your interest piqued yet? It should be!

Michelle Davidson Argyle
These are darker fairy stories (the way I like them), but Michelle also manages to weave in light and hope. And the stories stay with you long after you read them, resonating with layer and meaning.

So today I'm sending a virtual squeezy hug to my friend, Michelle, and shouting out from this corner of the interwebs, "Hip, hip hooray for the release of Bonded!"

Read below for more information about the book and how to order it. :-)

Announcing BONDED
by Michelle Davidson Argyle

If you like the darker side of fairy tales, especially ones twisting in ways you wouldn't expect, you won't want to miss out on Bonded. Author Elana Johnson calls it, "Magical storytelling. The only consolation when one story ends is knowing there's another one waiting." Author Chantele Sedgwick says it is, "Romantic and enchanting. Ms. Argyle has a captivating voice and beautiful writing."

BOOK DESCRIPTION: What happened after Cinderella married her prince? How did the evil sorceress in Sleeping Beauty turn evil in the first place? Discover these stories and a world filled with magic and forbidden love. Based on three fairy tales, Bonded contains a fairy tale continuation (Cinderella), a fairy tale retelling (One-Eye, Two-Eyes, Three-Eyes), and a fairy tale prequel (Sleeping Beauty).

Bonded is available now! You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online book retailers, both as an e-book and in print. For links and more information, click here. Or to purchase it at a discounted price on the publisher's website, click here.

To read more blog posts on the Bonded blog tour, click here.