Countdown to NaNo: Trick or Tweet!

Writing Song of the Day: “Story of My Life” by Social Distortion

Ahh, yes–it’s a magical time of the year. Sure, it’s Halloween–but it’s also NaNoWriMo’s eve. Gah!
So Quita and I’ve been planning for NaNo by settling on our story ideas and outlining our plots. And this week it’s all about character, baby!

Sure, we’ll probably do the usual character worksheets and playlists that we’ve grown to love. But for our NaNo projects, we wanted to also try a unique spin. We decided to fabricate Twitter profiles for our main characters! Squeezing in a bio for fictional people in a 140 characters or less? Sounds pretty difficult, right? Well, it was.
Pam’s Characters:
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, my NaNo novel is a modern YA version of Cain and Abel, so I decided to create a fake profile for my two main characters–Casey and Aiden.

Casey Porter

@caseclosed Williamsburg, VA

17. Senior. Insert interesting bio here. Seriously, who reads this shit?

Aiden Porter

@aidinfull Williamsburg, VA

Lover of life–that includes my fam and my girl! Wrestling for UVA next year. Full ride, baby! Swag.

Quita’s Characters:

So my story is all about a boy who struggles with his identity after surviving an abduction. I chose to write his bio, along with the girl he may or may not like.

Derek Harris

@darkderek Washington, D.C.

Lacking a soul, but working hard to get it back. Also working hard to find a movie scarier than my life. So far…no go.

Haylee White

@thehayleeexperience Washington, D.C.

Jr. class president & current valedictorian. Engaged to Haze, my electric guitar. Usually searching for nothing.

So, that was tough! What about you all? Have you tried these for your main characters? If not, give it a shot in our comments. πŸ™‚

P.S. Don’t forget to leave us your NaNo usernames so that we can be buddies! Pam is pharris81 and Quita is mhockaday.

Countdown to NaNo: It’s Plotting Time!

Writing Song of the Day: “The Plot” by White Rabbits

Okay, we are less than a week away from NaNoWriMo and the nerves are kicking in. Two weeks ago, Quita outlined our prep for NaNo, and this week we had to start outlining our plots.

Confession: we’re not quite finished. But we’re getting there! First, we have these:

That’s right–our Michael Jackson notebooks from our abandoned Plot and Paper Projects. Also, we have this:

This nifty book was given to us by the AWESOME Alicia Gregoire. You see, Quita and I wanted to plot a little differently this time. Instead of filling our MJ notebooks with a few sentences that describes every–single–chapter, we’ve decided to use the Act Formula from this book. What’s that, you ask? Here it is in a nutshell:

Act I: Introduce your protagonist, possibly the villain, and some kind of turning point that startles the reader.

Act II: Huge chunk of the story that introduces subplots, such as a love interest. Your protagonist also has a glimmer of hope. Well, until the second turning point creates IMMINENT DOOM!! Dun dun DUN

Act III: This is where you have a climax that rocks your protagonist’s world, and then wrap this baby up in a quick pace that’ll keep readers turning the pages.

Does that sound like a cool process? Then by all means–by this book! Quita and I would loan you ours but…okay, I can’t think of an excuse. We totally need this book so it’s not leaving the house.

I know you all have mixed feelings about plotting versus pantsing, so how are you all preparing to get your story moving for NaNo? Oh, and if you haven’t done it, yet–leave your usernames so we can be buddies. πŸ™‚

RTW: We Wish…

Reading Song of the Day: “Wish You Were Here” by Incubus
It’s Wednesday and we’re ready for the companionship of road tripping with the lovely ladies of YA Highway!
This week they wanna know:
What was the best book you’ve read in October???
*sigh* If only we had the time to read!!!! Yes, we’re technically cheating on this RTW post because we have not completed ANY books this month. We know…stop gasping so loud! Anyway, we thought we’d tell you what we wanted to read and hopefully when November rolls around we’ll be able to participate in the best book RTW post forrealz.
What Pam wishes she can read:

I’ve started The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, but with two part time jobs, one full time job, plotting for NaNo, and a demented puppy, I’ve yet to finish it. I also plan to read The Iron Queen, the third in Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series. Oh yeah, and I’m hoping to Beta read The Blues for the cuz this month, too.
What Quita wishes she can read:

Like Pam, but w/out the two part time jobs, I’ve got way tooo much to do. SO, I started Kody Keplinger’s Shut Out, but can’t find the time to finish it 😦 I am hoping to read Sweetly by Jackson Pearce and also FINALLY take a look at Alica’s fantasy manuscript.
We shall see how successful we are in fulfilling these wishes! What about you all–what was the best book you’ve read this month, or what are you trying to find time to read?

It’s All About the Risks

Risky Song of the Day: “Risk” by The Deftones

This past weekend me and Pam attended our regional SCBWI conference in Dulles, VA. We drove over four hours (traffic was a mean, cranky bee-yatch) and endured getting lost about three times to hear people like Meg Medina, Jennifer Rofe of Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Quinlan Lee of Adams Literary, and Han Nolan speak. And the torturous ride was definitely worth it.

There were three different panels with agents, authors, and editors. We learned plenty about how to market your book, what agents look for when going through submissions and what YOU should look for in an agent, as well as what editors think about characterization and voice.

But perhaps the most inspiring part of this conference was when Han Nolan gave her keynote address, entitled “Risky Business” and omigod, did this hit home for us.

Right before Han Nolan gave her speech, me and Pam had lunch and we discussed some of the things we’d heard earlier in the conference, as well as other things that we’ve heard/seen around the web. Two of those things were: the agents don’t like “angsty” teen books, they want lighter, more humorous materials, and historicals are hard to sell. And I immediately thought, that’s what we write. We write stories that are hard to tell–about murder, drug use, kidnapping–the ugly parts of the real world. And I also write historicals. I told Pam, “I think I should change my NaNo idea. Write something lighter.” She told me not to listen to what anyone says, to write what I wanna write…but I still had my doubts.

Then we sat down and Han Nolan spoke. She told us about her first novel, If I Should Die Before I Wake and how it got bad reviews but eventually became a huge success. She told us that despite all of her hardships, despite naysayers, she stuck with writing. With this risky business. Amongst many other things, she told us it’s a risk to strive for excellence and excellence only comes through hard work. So, sure I’ve been working on both my angsty and historical manuscripts for two years, but that’s the hard work–that’s the risk. And my first drafts are AWFUL–but that goes with another thing Han told us, allow yourself to be terrible and don’t stress over failures. When you fail, it makes your successes that much better.

It was very inspiring to say the least. And me and Pam both have vowed not to shy away from the risks. We’ll keep writing about the dark and scary sides of YA if we feel the need to tell the story, and if those stories are failures, so be it. At least we know we’ve taken the risks.

What about you all, are you willing to take the risks involved with the business of writing?

Black Fox Update: What Ya Waiting For?

Writing/Reading Song of the Day: “Watcha Waiting For” by Gwen Stefani

Shameless self promotion time, peeps!

We, along with our sis Racquel, are gearing up for the second issue of our literary magazine, Black Fox. If you want to OWN and hold in your precious hands the debut issue go here (please, go there!)
As well as moving forward and putting out a new issue, we have just debuted a brand spanking new website. Click here to check out the new look of Black Fox πŸ˜€

Besides promoting our first issue and pimping our new look, we also wanted to make sure that all of you know what we’re looking for and what kinds of services/contests we’re offering.

Overall we take fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and art from various genres. BUT we started the mag during our MFA program due to our frustration with literary magazines and how they don’t showcase every form of writing. Therefore, we search for underrepresented fiction. That includes YOU YA writers that love and follow this blog. We’re also desperately seeking romance, mystery, and flash fiction. There are opportunities for artists and poets in our magazine and on our website, too. We are always looking for authors to interview as well. All submission guidelines can be found here. Again, underrepresented fiction writers, we want YOU!

FINALLY, we wanted to make sure you are aware of the contests that Black Fox Literary Magazine offers. We are offering cash prizes for our fiction contest. You can submit to the contest with a low entry fee of $10.00. Your fiction can be in any genre but must not be more than 5,000 words. First place gets published in our Spring 2012 issue and receives $150.00. The deadline to enter is December 1st, 2011. Find out more info about the fiction contest here. ALSO, we are giving our 100 Twitter Follower contest another go. When we started the contest a while back we only had three entries and planned on giving three prizes…we decided to extend the contest to try and get more people to enter. We are open to taking suggestions for the prizes in the comments section of this post. (b/c we assume that’s why people didn’t enter…) and we’ll give more info on the contest regulations and end date in a later post.

Other Opportunities with Black Fox Literary Magazine:

*Blog Posts: We are launching a Black Fox Blog soon and are looking for contributors. Mainly we want nonfiction articles on the craft of writing, and book reviews. More info can be found here.

*Readers: We are also looking for individuals who are willing to read submission for Black Fox Literary Magazine. More information will be given on this at a later date.

*Manuscript Consultations: The editors of Black Fox Literary Magazine will be offering a manuscript consultation service for a low price. Again, more information will be given on this at a later date.

We’re open to new ideas/suggestions as well. Do you see anything in other mags that we are not offering? If so, let us know. Also, don’t forget to give us some ideas for the Black Fox 100 Twitter Followers contest. And please, please DON’T FORGET to submit!

RTW: Why We Write

Writing Song of the Day: “One” by Creed

It’s Wednesday…and we know what that means, right? Yes, we’re only two days away from the weekend, but we also get to join the lovely ladies from YA Highway for another Road Trip Wednesday. This week they want to know:

What’s your numero-uno reason for writing?

Well, our response can pretty much be summed into this picture:

That’s right–FREEDOM.

Freedom to say what we want to say.

Freedom to be who we want to be.

Freedom to push away the stress from the real world just for a few hours.

What about you all? Why do YOU write?

Countdown to NaNo: Choose Your Idea!

Brainstorming Song of the Day: “I Choose” by The Offspring

Happy Monday, lovelies! You may be asking why I’m so stoked at the start of the work week. Well, that’s because we’re just TWO WEEKS AWAY from NaNoWriMo! Can I get a woot woot?

Last week, Quita outlined what we were going to do to prepare for NaNo. And our job last week was to actually choose our idea. Simple enough, right? Well, not quite. Let’s break it down for you:

Pam’s Idea: Last year for NaNo, I wanted to get out of my contemporary YA comfort zone. So what did I do? I wrote about fairies. And you know what? I had a blast.

After writing Ins and Outs this year (AKA, the WIP formerly known as Project J), I wanted to return to my darker roots–and I’m not talking about my hair. Ins and Outs was more of a funny ha ha story about a possibly serious topic. I had fun writing it, but I felt like getting a little moody again.

I saw a Twitter conversation that my agent had about Bible retellings, and it hit me–I wanted to write a story featuring a teenaged Cain and Abel! But wait–there’s more. Since NaNo’s all about getting out of my comfort zone, I knew I just didn’t want to write straight up contemporary. So not only am I writing a Cain and Abel retelling, but I’m adding a magical realism twist. And that’s all I’m telling you guys about it right now–but just know I’m SO EXCITED to get started!

Quita’s Idea:

Like Pam, I tried to get out of my comfort zone last year, as well. I wrote about djinns or genies. And it’s the WIP I’ve hated the most. I don’t think fantasy or paranormal is my strong suit. Also, after revising the mess out of my historical, In Limbo, I knew I didn’t want to go there again–especially not for NaNo.

Then I read an article in my People magazine about a boy who was abducted and I realized, I haven’t read any YA books about boys who get kidnapped and what happens to them. Thus, my idea was born. But of course I want to do more than that, so my story is about a teenaged boy who was once abducted but is now free–only his family can’t deal with what happened so he’s sent to a boarding school. That’s all I’m gonna give for now. You can find out more next Monday when we talk baby plots!

So what about you all? Have you chosen your story ideas for NaNo yet? Please share with us below!

BTW, add us as a buddy when that function works again! Pam is pharris81 and Quita is mhockaday!