12 Days of Revision: A Christmas Carol!

Carolling Song of the Day: Check out the one below!

We’ve bought all our Christmas presents, put up our tree, and are about to begin our holiday break from the day jobs. Needless to say, we’re feeling a little festive. So we decided to share a little carol that only writers can appreciate:

The 12 Days of Revision!!
(Sung to the melody of…well, you know)

On the twelfth day of revisions, my beta gave to me…

12 packs of Post-Its

11 sugar comas

10 songs for musing

9 friends assuring


8 hours “Scrivening”

7 authors tweeting


6 coffees brewing

5 A-HA MOMENTS!!!

4 colored pens

3 synonyms

2 fingerless gloves

And a port-a-ble PC!!!!!!

So, did I leave anything out fellow writers? Please leave your thoughts below. Oh, and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!
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Baby WIPs: Quita’s Edition!

Reminiscing Song of the Day: “Teenage Dirtbag” by Wheatus

As Pam mentioned here last Monday, we just moved into a house that she bought. During that process, we came across some of our old stories and “novels”. Now, I can’t go back as far as Pam did with “Never Say Never”. I wish I would’ve kept the cute stories I wrote when I was a kid, but instead I kept mountains of notebooks from my teenage years. One of those notebooks (this one was actually a folder) is a book I wrote at age 15, called: Milton High: Volume 1, Book 1: Lover’s Quarrel. I was ambitious, huh? I thought I was gonna have volumes of this book!

Okay, I know you’re dying to read a piece of this epic novel (if not, please feed my ego and pretend that you are). So, without any more delaying, here is page one of Chapter 1.

Chapter 1: A Look In the Lives… (typed verbatim–typos, grammatical errors on purpose)

“Good Morning Milton High. Amanda’s arrived so all conversation may begin.” Amanda Donaldson said walking into the school. Her deep blue eyes glistening. Austin Donaldson’s eyes were doing the same as he laughed at his fraternal twin sister.

“A-dog!” Kevin Bowlen said jogging up to Austin.

“What’s up, Kev?” Austin asked as they dapped each other up.

“Let’s walk and talk…what’s up Lila?” He asked as him and Kevin walked past her.

“Eat me.” She said holding up her middle finger.

“Ooooh!” Austin said as he and Kevin walked away.

“Well, I see someone has expanded their vocabulary.” Amanda said opening her locker.

“What? Why the hell are you talking to me, Barbie?” Lila Fargo asked as she put her combination in.

“Hey, Mandy! Guess what!” Live Fargo exclaimed. She threw a disgusted look at her identical twin sister then continued on smiling at Amanda.

“Well…what? Don’t leave me in suspense!” Amanda said.

And with that, I will leave YOU in suspense! Anybody else have a piece of early fiction they want to share? Oh, and feel free to critique. Who knows? I might take a crack at Volume 1, Book 2 ๐Ÿ˜‰

Baby WIPs: Pam’s Edition!

Reminiscing Song of the Day: “For the First Time” by The Script

We’re baaaaaack!! And seriously, we’ve missed you guys. Never fear, though–over the next few weeks, we plan on giving you book reviews, recaps of our trip to this year’s LA SCBWI conference, and maybe even a giveaway or two.
But first…as some of you may know, Quita and I were in the middle of moving. And in the middle of moving, we came across a few hidden gems. For me, it was this:

This just happens to be one of my very 1st notebooks. At 7 years old, I already knew I wanted to be a writer. I thought it would be cute to type up one of my early stories for our lovely followers (Quita will dig up something from her archives next week). So, without further ado, here is:

Never Say Never by Pamela Harris (typos purposely left in so that you can tease me)
One Spring morning there lived a boy named Tootie. He was 6 years old. He lived with his big sister Mary, his mother Suzie and his daddy Niko. His sister always picks on him because she thinks he gots a girl name.
Why are you always picking on me, said Tootie.
Because you got a girl name, said Mary.
I never want to see you again! said Tootie.
Suits me! said Mary.
He told his friend Erica how mean his sister is. Well, said Erica, Sounds like you got a real bad sister.
Erica told her friend Sesly who told her friend Nick who told his friend Johnathan who told his friend Jenifer who told Marys boyfriend Mike.

I wish I could move in here and never see you again, Tootie! said Mary.
Then get out! said Tootie.
Shut up! said Niko. Your mother got an headache from yall and she had to take an aspirin!
Thats OK said Suzie. It’s gone now.
You just made all my friends think I’m not shiek! said Mary.
Humph, said Tootie. I don’t care!
Grrr! said Mary.
I want you to tell all of her friends that your sister is not bad at all! said Suzie.
So Tootie told all her friends that Marys not bad at all.
Thanks said Mary. Now I won’t tease on you any more.
Sure, said Tootie.
The End!
Such tension! Such conflict! Oh, and to cap it off, here is my drawing of the happy family:

I really must love you guys to share that “masterpiece.” What about you all? Come across any early stories that were as epic as “Never Say Never” (by the way–why in the world did I call it that?)?

WIP Snapshot: Project J

Writing Song of the Day: “Fake It” by Seether

Okay, so we blatantly stole this idea from the lovely Caroline Tung Richmond (who, by the way, you should SO follow–her blog is incredible!), who has admitted that she stole this idea from super author Kiersten White. Basically, they both gave details on their current works-in-progress. I’ll tackle mine this week–but stay tuned for Quita’s breakdown next Monday. And now…let’s do this!

Title: Some of you may remember me mentioning Project J on the blog. Well, I had to quickly give it a title for an SCBWI novel retreat, and I settled on Faking It. Don’t worry, it’s only temporary.

Genre: Hopefully humorous, contemporary YA

Pages: 283. This is double-spaced with 12-point Times New Roman font.

Chapters: 28–maybe I’ll lose one or two of them during the revision process (which I’m devoting the whole month of July for).

Word Count: A little over 70K. Yeah, I definitely have to ditch a few chapters.

Draft Time: Well, I technically started Project J last summer, but then I hit a roadblock so I went back to my Wants revisions. I had to ask Quita when I started writing it again, and she said she thinks either February or March. I’ll take her word on that. I just know that I FINALLY finished my first draft near the end of April.

Origin: I was inspired by the 80s classic, Can’t Buy Me Love. I knew that I wanted to write something a bit lighter since Wants was so dark (though it does have its light moments, too). I also still wanted to tackle “heavy” issues and underrepresented populations. I haven’t read many stories with gay/lesbian parents, so I found a way to combine the ideas together.

Random Facts:

  • My protagonist’s name is Jonah. I recently went through another revision of Wants and noticed I had a minor character named Jonah. Wants Jonah is a douche–which is the complete opposite of my new protag.
  • Jonah’s mom’s name is Beverly–which I also realized is the name of one of my character’s moms in Wants. I really need to visit one of those baby names websites more often, huh?
  • I’ve written three YA manuscripts so far, and basketball is featured in every one of them. I have no clue why since…well, I have NO CLUE about basketball. Which sucks because Jonah was trying out for the basketball team. Let’s just say I utilized Google and my dad a lot.
  • My story is set in a small city in Virginia, which is pretty much where all of my stories are set. Can you guess where I’m from?
  • Jonah doesn’t use a lot of profanity, which makes this one of the “cleanest” stories I’ve ever written. Hmm, I wonder if that’s why it took me forever to complete the first draft…
  • When Jonah was younger, he was in a school production of A Christmas Carol. His only line was: “Merry Christmas, Mr. Scrooge.” I so stole that memory from my dad.

There you have it–this is what I’ll be working on over the summer. I’m hoping to send it out to betas soon so that I can really dig into the heart of this story. What about you all? How’s your writing going? We’d love to read about your WIPs. ๐Ÿ™‚

WIAWAB Acknowledgements Blogfest!

Writing Song of the Day: “Thank You” by Jay Z

Okay, so our sister from another mister, Blue Lipstick Samurai, is throwing a WIAWAB Acknowledgements Blogfest–or “When I Actually Write A Book, You Will Be Acknowledged.” Here are the rules:

Write an acknowledgement blurb for 12 people, with 12 reasons. But not just ANY twelve people:
โ€ข3 people you know IRL.
โ€ข3 people you know online.
โ€ข1 person who has died.
โ€ข1 person you never met.
โ€ข1 person you met once.
โ€ข1 couple (so, 2 people).
โ€ข1 author.

Pretty tricky, huh? Nevertheless, we wanted to give it a stab. Here we go…

Pam’s Choices:

3 People I Know IRL (In Real Life):
1. Quita:
Because she’ll hit me if I don’t.
2. Trisha:
My cuz and Quita’s older sis. She was technically the first writer of the family because she’s the oldest, and I used to love copying everything that she did.
3. Tee Tee:
My niece, and favorite cranky teenager. She keeps me “hip.”

3 People I Know Online:
1. Racquel: Okay, technically this is cheating because I met her in my MFA program first–but since she lives so far away (*cries*), we mostly communicate online. She’s our adopted little sis–not to mention co-founder of Black Fox Literary Magazine.
2. Blue Lipstick Samurai: Hello? She comes up with awesome blogfests like this–not to mention she’s the coolest teenager aside from my lovely niece.
3. My Paper Hangover Crew…oh, and Abby…oh, and Erinn…oh, and Jamie…oh, and the lovely ladies from YA Highway…Gah! Far too many to thank…how about just all my awesome followers??

1 Person Who Has Died: Okay, sentimental moment, but I’d have to thank my uncle, Duke (and Quita’s dad).

1 Person You Never Met: I’ve technically never met my super agent, Sarah LaPolla, so she’d obviously have to go here. ๐Ÿ™‚

1 Person You Met Once: Ummm, I have no clue. I hardly remember ANYONE I’ve met if it was only once. Hmm, well, I did see Kirsten Hubbard for a millisecond at LA SCBWI–and I think she’s a pretty fantastic writer. So, there you have it…

1 Couple: My mom and dad. Well, they aren’t actually together anymore, but come on! It’s my mom and dad! I’d have to thank them somewhere.

1 Author: This is so unfair. I have too many favorite authors! Okay, okay, if I had to choose, it’d be the lovely Judy Blume. Hey, she’s the one that made me fall in love with words.

Quita’s Choices:

3 People I Know In Real Life (IRL):
Okay…sorry but this gonna be slightly repetitious:

1. Pam: cuz she’s my cuz…and she makes me write better.
2. Trisha: My older sis who used to write with me and Pam on a daily basis. She was a part of our first critique group and I hope she starts to write again soon.
3. I have to tie all of my nieces and nephews (cheating, I KNOW!) Tee Tee (like Pam said), and the boys b/c they are 5, 4, and 2…so much material there.

3 People I Know Online:
Okay, I’m going to try to not repeat all of Pam’s choices (btw- our online friends are interchangeable- meaning ALL of the people in both mine and Pam’s choices would be thanked by BOTH of us)

1. Racquel– duh, same reasons Pam said ๐Ÿ˜›
2. Alicia- for providing such dry wit and support whenever necessary. And also for the fact that she is willing to BETA read for me ๐Ÿ˜€
3. Jamie Manning– for being such an awesome support and providing excellent eye candy on Fridays…and also being willing to BETA read for me!

1 Person Who Has Died: My daddy. We lost him almost three years ago (April 24th, 2008) to cancer. He left us way too soon. He won’t get to see me get married or sell my first novel, but I know he’ll be looking down on me.

1 Person You Never Met: R. L. Stine for assuring me with his books that I NEEDED to write thriller, mystery, horror-esque novels at some point in my life.

1 Person You Met Once: Michelle Wolfson (cheat alert and Mitchell Waters), for showing me that agents really ARE just people and it’s not so bad to go up and introduce yourself.

1 Couple: Can I cheat here and say my mom? Just b/c I would definitely thank her and I didn’t get to put her anywhere else, yet. After dad passed though, mom is technically a “couple” on her own. She has always been strong and there for me whenever I needed her. She supports my dreams and because of her pushing me to wake up every morning and go to school, I’m where I am today.

1 Author: Like Pam said, this is a mean one. We luvs our authors! I guess I would have to go with Joyce Carol Oates b/c she writes Young Adult with just as much badassness as her Adult works.

First Lines Critiques: Last Day!

Critiquing Song of the Day: “Between the Lines” by Sara Bareilles

Okay, we’re a little sad. We had such a good time helping out our fellow writers this week. In case you’ve missed it, last week we asked some of you to submit your first few lines of your WIPs, and we offered an open forum to receive some awesome feedback. Click here to check out Day 1’s submissions, and here for Day 2.

We know you know the rules, but we’re a bit anal (insert 13-year-old boy snicker). Here are some questions to ask yourself when critiquing:

1. Does the opening shock you?
2. Does the opening pull you in and make you want to read more?
3. Is the voice apparent?
4. Do you have an idea of the pending conflict?
5. Do you get a sense of the setting?

Again, you do NOT have to answer all of these questions–they’re just to get the ball rolling. By the way, thank you SO MUCH for all of you brave souls who were willing to put your work out there, and thanks TONS to our followers for chiming in with help.

Now, for the last time, here are the submissions:

Title: Freakhouse
Genre: Middle Grade
Author’s Name: Lisa-Marie
First Lines: “Of course you know, the place is haunted,” the real estate agent said with a big, dorky grin. The tag pinned to his bright blue blazer read George Finkle. A funny sounding name for a funny looking guy: short, not a lot of hair, and has what my dad used to call a โ€œbeer bellyโ€.

Title: Between Shades of Gray
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Author’s Name: Amy Thomas
First Lines: People are selfish. Itโ€™s a basic truth, just like the sky is blue or the grass is green. People are selfish, cruel and weak; and I must do everything in my power not give in to the weakness.

Title: Distraction
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Author’s Name: Anonymous
First Lines: They lay coiled together like two serpents, spent by their passion. Justineโ€™s lashes lowered once, twice, and she shifted to stay awake. Xavier stirred behind her and a hand crept over her hip and covered her breast.

*BTW, are you a fan of flash fiction? Then swing by here and my group blog, Paper Hangover, tomorrow for Flash Fiction Friday. Tomorrow’s topic: “In 300 words or less, write a story beginning with the cliche, ‘Another One Bites the Dust.'” Just post it on your blog and leave the link on Paper Hangover’s comments! ๐Ÿ™‚

First Lines Critiques: Day 2!

Critiquing Song of the Day: “Straight Lines” by Silverchair

It’s time to take another look at your awesome first lines! Last week, we requested and you all came through big time! Please Note: You can STILL critique for Day 1–I’m sure the authors would love more feedback. ๐Ÿ™‚

Brief overview: we’re posting some first lines entries from a few of our brave followers, and you all help them out by giving them feedback (which you guys rock at, by the way).

We mentioned this yesterday, but we’re known for repeating ourselves. Here are some questions to ask yourself when critiquing:

1. Does the opening shock you?
2. Does the opening pull you in and make you want to read more?
3. Is the voice apparent?
4. Do you have an idea of the pending conflict?
5. Do you get a sense of the setting?

Anything else that you can help them out with would be great. Remember, you don’t HAVE to answer all of these questions. Heck, you don’t even have to comment on each of the entries, but it sure would be nice. ๐Ÿ™‚ Here’s our next 4 submissions:

Title: Untitled
Genre: New Adult
Author’s Name: Alicia Gregoire
First Lines: I was late for the first day of freshman orientation, but as far as I was concerned, it was justified. My best friend, my confidant, the sole person who understood the betrayal I had felt when I discovered my ex with someone else, had left me that morning for the army. The understatement of the year would be to say that I handled his departure poorly.

Title: Cursed
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Author’s Name: Amie Kaufman
First Lines: Samuel was already running when the miller’s shed exploded. The wind whistled behind him and he closed his eyes as it overtook him, lifting him off his feet. For a brief moment, he soared.

Title: The Way Things Fall Apart
Genre: YA Contemporary
Author’s Name: Danielle Bunner
First Lines: It all started when the cold came. Fast, brittle, unexpected. That first morning in late October when it snowed on the way to school and I stopped walking to watch it all fall around me.


Title: Untitled
Genre: Fantasy
Author’s Name: Alex Mullarky
First Lines: Even in the dark I could tell it was there. It is the black shape in the sky that blots out the stars.