Monday, December 2, 2013

Allow Me To Tell You A Little About Myself: Pitch Wars Mentee Bio/Pimp My Bio

Hello my lovely followers! Brenda Drake has done it again, which means the Wonder Woman of contests is hosting Pitch Wars once again! So this gif goes out to her and all of the amazing Mentors who'll be going through the slush very soon!


If you'd like to check out what Pitch Wars is all about, click Brenda's name above. Also, check out her site, she has an amazing book called Library Jumpers coming out soon!

Now to this post. The wonderful Dannie Morin, one of Pitch Wars' fabulous mentors, has put together a mentee blog hop for us to pimp ourselves out a little bit. So, keep reading if you'd like to learn a little bit more about me. And if you're a mentor, why you WANT to pick me!

1. I worked on my high school newspaper and won the Journalism award my sophomore year. In fact, I was the first sophomore to win the award we dubbed the Senior Trophy. (Yeah, it wasn't the best name. But that's always who won it.) I'd found my love for telling stories long before this, 2 years old in fact, but this has always been something I'm very proud about. That and having my first article on the front page . Back then, it was like I was REALLY published!

2. I love chocolate! Milk chocolate is my favorite, but I'll give any chocolate a chance. I'm not going to kid you, I'm fluffy. But I haven't always been fluffy. When I was younger I had trouble eating much of anything. I have stomach issues and this isn't a sob story post, so moving on. Point is, when we found something I could/would eat, it was almost always around. Milk chocolate decided it wanted to be my friend way back when, and I'm happy to say, we're still friends today.

Oh! And I'm not stingy. I'll always share even when I only have enough chocolate for one.



3. I'm not afraid of hard work or criticism. I actually welcome it! Sure, I may cry. BUT I'm not going to freak out on you or someone for saying they have a problem or found one with my MS. And the crying's like five minutes and only the hubby sees/hears it. Then I'm back to normal and pumped to fix the issue! And don't worry about me barking at you, I'll never do that. If I don't agree with someone's opinion, I find discussing it like adults is always the best way to go.


4. CROSSING BRIELLE! Okay, I'm pimping my MS a little here. Well, I'm pimping my MC's, doppelgangers Cross and Brielle. I like to write girls who have their own voices. Even if they look exactly the same and even share the same name, they WON'T be the same. Sure, they may pick up some of the other's ways, but you'll never mistake one for the other. I find writing strong, nerdy, quirky, bad-assed girls fun! Part of the reason why I wrote Crossing Brielle was because of a teen friend who's quirky in her own adorably, amazing way. The more I took this world I came up with after talking with her, I couldn't help but capture the magic that I see when Nina Dobrev plays Elena Gilbert and Katherine Pierce on the Vampire Diaries. Keeping Cross and Brielle their own people was tough, but in the end, totally worth it and super fun!



5. I can memorize things super fast! Not Sheldon Cooper fast, but fast. In 8th grade I memorized all 50 states and their capitals in 1st period for the test I had coming up in 2nd period. Just allow me to zone out and come up with a pattern/rhythm and I'll have whatever I need in my memory in no time! But after I don't need it anymore, just like Kelly Bundy, all the needless information comes flooding back in its place!


6. I love the 80's! Nothing against the 90's or any other decade. All I'm going to say is the 80's gave us one of my favorite bands. This gif will say it all!



7. I was robbed at gunpoint when I was 21. Any time I'm writing a scene that requires me to describe the feeling of adrenalin, I remember how it felt with that gun in my face. I never thought something like that could help me, but I've drawn on that experience and it's helped me plot out a scene in my current wip that I don't think I could've done without that time in my life.


8. Do you like to laugh? Well, I'm goofy and love to laugh! Laughter is honestly gotten me through some tough times and if I can help someone by being goofy, then I will! So come on, let's be goofballs together!



9. Cute puppies and kitties brighten my day! I love animals and can't figure out why anyone would ever want to hurt them or anybody really. Just looking at their sweet little faces makes me smile. So here's a cute puppy and I hope it makes you smile too!



10. Reading! I love reading. Be it Contemporty, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Romance, YA, MG, Adult, and NA. I LOVE TO READ! I have shelves full of books and I'm always certain I need more! Lucky for me, my hubby's an avid reader too and agrees that we can never have too man books! Some of my favorites are The Fault in Our Stars, The Vampire Diaries (L.J. Smith ones,) The Time Traveler's Wife, The Notebook, Gone With the Wind, The Mortal Instruments, and Harry Potter. Just naming a few because we could be here all day.


11. Do you like kissing scenes or almost kissing scene? Well I do too! While the plot of my MS might not be a total make-out/romance, I do enjoy a good romantic subplot! And that almost kiss, *sighs*, that's truly my favorite thing to write and even read. It makes the full on first kiss so much better when it's done right too!



12. My favorite TV shows/Movies to name a few are Once Upon A Time, The Vampire Diaries, Reign, Beauty and the Beast, Gone With the Wind, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Jason Stathem movies (it counts!) Harry Potter, Perks of Being a Wallflower, and the Avengers! And I'm only naming a few because if I love a movie/show, I'll watch it over and over.


13. I love games! Be it playing board/card games or PS3 games with my hubby, I love gaming! And I take it seriously too. I hate to lose and I warn anybody who plays against/with me about it in the very beginning. Final Fantasy XIII is my favorite PS3 game, but I love others too. The antagonist in XIII-2 has a special place in my heart for some very specific reasons.

Also, bad-ass fight scenes! Just slipping this in here. I love to read them, write them, and watch them! Sword meeting sword, flesh meeting flesh, when done right, it's the best!!



And that my lovely followers, fellow wishful mentees, and any ninja mentors, is a little about me! Hit me in the comments if you want to know more or even tell me a little about yourself. And as alway, I'm on twitter too if you'd like to chat there!

Until next time, happy reading and writing everyone!







Saturday, November 30, 2013

Big News! Interview with Author Laura Renegar and Agent Laura Zats!


Today I get the honor of being part of an amazing announcement while also having the honor of interviewing the two lovely ladies involved in that announcement. Needless to say, Olan Rogers has said it perfectly. I'm excited!

Laura Renegar's been sitting on some amazing news. That news is actually what this post is about. Well, that and also Laura Zats news. It's been tough keeping this in the bag, but we all did it. And now that it's finally time to let it out, we can finally say that my AMAZING FRIEND AND CP, LAURA RENEGAR, HAS SIGNED WITH AGENT LAURA ZATS OF RED SOFA LITERARY!

Check out Red Sofa announcing Laura Zats, (in a really cool way in my opinion,) to the agency by clicking here!




CONGRATULATIONS TO LAURA RENEGAR AND LAURA ZATS!!

I sat down, or actually emailed, both super awesome Laura's and interviewed them. So keep reading and learn more about soon-to-be Best Seller Laura Renegar and agent extraordinaire Laura Zats! I promise, with these two, you won't regret it!




 INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR LAURA RENEGAR




1: To start this interview out how about we start by having you tell everyone a little something about yourself.

I’ve always lived in North Carolina except for three weeks studying in Cambridge, England while in college. I have a great husband, two creatively fun daughters, two fish, two woolly worms, and a new chi-weenie mix puppy. I love playing guitar. My favorite movie is Jaws.


2: Since this is a big announcement interview, who did you sign with and why?

I signed with Laura Zats, a new agent at Red Sofa Literary. After reading my full, Laura requested a phone chat. I was super-impressed with her professionalism, her drive, and her passion for my manuscript. She asked great questions and answered all mine with confidence and clarity. I loved her enthusiasm and her editorial suggestions. We really clicked.


3: What was the title and genre of the MS you queried? Was it your first book or are there more hidden away?

I queried Laura with my contemporary YA called ASHES AND INK. I’ve written a chapter book manuscript and several picture book manuscripts, but this was my first YA. My current WIP is a YA thriller.


4: Did you do any fun research for your book? What was it?

ASHES AND INK centers around a tattoo shop, so I spent time in one. I took notes on everything from equipment to facial expressions. It was so much fun! The tattoo artist I hung out with was fabulous and witty and altogether awesome. I love watching people get tattoos and hearing the stories behind why they choose what they choose.


5: We all know querying's hard and rejections happen. What was your query stats?

I started querying ASHES AND INK (formerly called INK) back in 2012. I received my share of requests and rejections, but many of the rejections came with personal feedback. I took a couple of big breaks from querying (even withdrawing some fulls from agents) to do two major revisions that utilized some of that feedback. Not long after finishing my last revision, Laura requested a partial after reading my pitch on Twitter’s PitMad.


6: If you could share one piece of advice for querying authors, what would it be?

Don’t give up! Do your research to find out the good, the bad, and the ugly about the agents before sending them your best and already critiqued and revised work. I may have slipped in more than one piece of advice there. We writers tend to be a bit verbose!


7: Now for THE CALL! What was it like? Are there any questions you feel every author should ask during the call?

I have a great imagination, so I’m often am a little disappointed by reality, but the phone call was all that I’d hoped it would be! It is so awesome to talk to an agent that connected with my story and felt all the feels I’m hoping my readers will feel. She asked lots of questions, and I was relieved none of my answers scared her away. As for what questions a writer should ask an agent, I think that depends on what’s important to the writer. For me, good communication is a must, so I asked questions to find out her style and preferences. It was also important for me to know where and how far she thought my novel could go, so I asked about that too. I asked lots of questions and took lots of notes.


8: I'm loving that both you and your agent's names are Laura. It's like you were meant for each other. And I know you've just signed, but is there anything you'd like to share about Ms. Zats? (Feel free to gush.)

Laura is AMAZING. She’s professional, but personable. She’s hard-working. She’s got mad editorial skills, and I am thrilled to be partnered with her!


9: What do you feel all authors should have when writing, querying, and also when they're on submission?

I am incredibly thankful for writer friends and critique partners like you, Jamie! I love having other writers to bounce ideas off of, to help me strengthen my manuscript, pitches, and query letters, and I’m thankful for those moments when they’ve commiserated or celebrated with me. And it’s fun to read and brainstorm on what they’re working on too. The writer’s journey doesn’t have to be a lonely one!


10: Would you like to share the query that grabbed Ms. Zats attention?


Dear Ms. Zats,



With a slip of paper and a lighter, Mazie ruined lives. With her sketch pad in a tattoo shop, she’ll try to save one.

She didn’t mean for anyone to get hurt. Now, fresh out of juvie for arson, fifteen-year-old Mazie is abandoned by her bitter Aunt Deb minutes after she’d signed for Mazie's release. While living on the streets and drawing flash for a tattoo shop, Mazie learns that Samantha, the daughter of the firefighter killed in the flames Mazie started, has disappeared. When she finds out a serial kidnapper is on the prowl, and that Samantha is likely one of his victims, Mazie hunts for clues that could save Samantha from becoming the next body to wash ashore.

Bringing Samantha back to her family could help make up for the tragedy she caused and put an end to Mazie’s nightmares. But finding Samantha means NOT laying low—a risky gamble since Aunt Deb already has Mazie running from the cops for crimes she didn’t commit.

ASHES AND INK is my contemporary young adult mystery complete at 52,000 words. It will appeal to fans of fast-paced suspense such as Lisa McMann’s WAKE trilogy.

I am an active member of SCBWI Carolinas and served in the past as the chapter’s online networking coordinator. I have also had an article published in Writer's Digest's 2010 SONGWRITER'S MARKET.

I was thrilled when you favorited my pitch on PitMad yesterday. Congratulations on your internship. It sounds like Red Sofa Literary is super-impressed with your knowledge of Young Adult literature. Thank you for considering ASHES AND INK. I have pasted the first fifteen pages below and would be happy to send more at your request.

Sincerely,

Laura Renegar



11: Would you like to share any words of wisdom or anything else?

I found online contests and pitch sessions to be super-helpful for honing pitches, discovering agents, and networking with other writers. It might not work for everyone, but I got some terrific requests from them, and ultimately, it’s how my agent found me!



Congratulations for signing with the lovely, Laura Zats!! I'm so proud of you!!!



INTERVIEW WITH AGENT LAURA ZATS



1. Thank you so much for doing this interview and congratulations! How about we begin things with you telling us a little about yourself?

Thanks so much for having me! Well, when I was little, I'd always say I wanted to be a book editor when I grew up. Mostly because I thought it meant reading all day. I actually fulfilled that childhood dream when I entered the book world. I started as an editor, and in true the-grass-is-always-greener fashion, I wanted to see what that whole agent thing was about! I was recently announced as an Associate Agent for Red Sofa Literary, which means that I actually get to read a LOT more than I do as an editor! I've got a soft spot in my heart for coming-of-age YA novels, but I can read and fall in love with just about anything. 

Beyond books, I love to brew beer, swing dance, cross stitch, and bake cookies and shove them on unsuspecting acquaintances. I also still don't know how to spell "acquaintance" on the first (or second) try.


2. What made you want to become an agent?

When I started working with Dawn Frederick and Jennie Goloboy of Red Sofa Literary, I didn't really know what an agent did. But after a while, I began to see that being an agent is essentially one part matchmaker, two parts #1 fan. I love how agents are the fairy godmothers who make an author's dreams come true. They pick writers up when they're down, and give them this amazing support system, and really, an agent's entire career is based on positivity. Books they love. Authors they care deeply about. And I wanted to be a part of it. Luckily, Jennie and Dawn decided they'd want to keep me!


3. What are you looking for when going through the slush? Dark and gritty or sweet love stories? Or would both be something you'd be interested in representing?

I tend to gravitate towards the grittier side of things, not because the books are dark, but because they tend to have a bit more depth than the lighter books. I want layers to my books. Even a sweet romance needs to have some depth: fully-formed supporting characters, a history for the MCs, and a few side-plots to pull you through the main one. 

I'm not usually going to reject something based on the type of book it is (unless it falls outside of my representative categories), but I only fall in love when a book has enough meat to it to keep me emotionally satisfied long after I finish reading.



4. What genres do you represent?

I represent fiction. Middle Grade, YA, and New Adult, contemporary Women's Fic, science fiction/fantasy, romance, and erotica.


5. What are you not looking for in a manuscript?

Unless it's a romance, I don't want a book where the main plot/conflict is a romance. I'm not looking for books where the action is primarily made up of the universe acting on a MC. I want to see agency. I'm also not terribly into mainstream creatures (angels, vampires, etc). If fantasy is your game, I'd like something lesser-known and rooted in historic conceptions of said creature.


6. You currently signed my lovely CP and friend, Laura Renegar, as a client. Yay! What drew you to her book Ashes and Ink?

I found Laura through Pitch Madness (#PitMad), which is a Twitter event where authors have 140 characters to pitch their book to the world. I loved that it was set in a tattoo shop, so it had this gritty edge to it from every direction. But I fell head-over-heels when I saw that the MC was fully-formed from the beginning of the first page. She had demons, and a past, but she was fully committed to moving beyond that history to create something new.


7. If you weren't an agent or in the publishing world, what would you be doing right now?

Editing! Well, I actually also do this right now, but it was my first love and I'm not planning on stopping! But if I wasn't allowed to be in the publishing world, I'd probably be living in a tiny apartment in Dublin and traveling to exciting places every weekend.


8. Everybody has a weakness. So, chocolate or Nutella?

Ugh! I'm actually allergic to hazelnuts, even though I LOVE Nutella...so, if I want to avoid being bumpy, I would have to say chocolate!


9. Is there anything you feel a potential client or every author should ask during THE CALL? What would you recommend not doing?

Don't be hasty. The call is not an offer. It's an interview. And it's an interview where we're trying to decide if it's worth our time to work with you, and we'll probably have a long, long list of things for you to fix about your platform or MS. You're allowed to not jive with the agent, and you're allowed to say no, but you need to think about it, take your time, and make sure it's the best option for you.


10. What is the best way to query you?

All I want is a query letter in my (virtual) mailbox! And I would hope that it goes without saying, but the best way to query me is with a book that fits into a genre that I actually represent.


11. And finally, if you could give a piece of advice to potential new agents, interns, and authors, what would it be?

Focus on what you love. Trends come and go, and there's always new technology or something shiny and topical, but if you're working on something you love, you'll never miss the boat.


Congratulations on becoming an Associate Agent at Red Sofa Literary! May you receive all of the amazing queries your inbox can handle!

And congratulations on signing the always spectacular Laura Renegar as your client!!



I'd like to thank both Laura Renegar and Agent Laura Zats for doing these interviews and I wish you both nothing but success!

If you'd like to share your congratulations to both Laura's, you can leave them in the comments or tweet them directly. You can find Laura Renegar here and Laura Zats here. I'm sure they won't mind all of the pixel confetti and drinks!

Until next time, happy reading and writing everyone!



Thursday, October 31, 2013

Walk The Line



This is a story I wrote for the Dark Carnival Showcase. <---Click it. You could win something awesome! My chosen topic was the tightrope walker. I hope you enjoy. Happy Halloween!

WALK THE LINE


Autumn’s always so magical. I can’t put my finger on why exactly, but I know that it just feels different. Maybe it’s the leaves shedding their green skin and falling to the ground in colorful piles. Or is it the slight crispness of the air that makes everyone feel so giddy? Maybe it’s both, but I’m a firm believer that what makes this time of year so fantastic is the carnival that arrives two weeks before Halloween.

Every year they roll into town with tents of every color. Inside of their majestic realm lies the usual animals: Lions, elephants, monkeys, and so on. Really, it’s more like a small circus, but they really hate for people to say that. The last time an old man mumbled the word, a tiny red-nosed clown came out and bonked him on top of his bald head with a squeaky hammer. Everyone laughed, but I could tell the workers seemed really angry about what he’d said. That’s why I make sure never to even think the word circus if I’m a mile near the place. Not taking the chance of getting hit or worse, locked out of the carnival for life. That to me would be worse than death its self.

“Danny, hurry up! We’re going to be late.” I slump against the wall with my arms crossed.

Black shaggy hair pokes out around the corner followed by a pair of dark-chocolate eyes. “Skyler, chill. It’s not like it’s going to be any different than the last fifteen years we’ve seen it.” He reaches out and flips my auburn ponytail with the tips of his fingers.

I pretend not to be impatient, but fail miserably. Fingers fidgeting with their twins, I sigh. “Come on, Danny. You can eat when we get there. My mom gave me enough to feed you twice.”

“So, you’re not eating?”

I watch as he shoves a banana half-way in his mouth and stop when he sees my frown. “Of course I’m eating, man-gorilla. It’d feed me six times, but I have to feed you too. Now come on.” I don’t wait. Instead, I turn and begin walking towards the front door.

He bolts in front of me and opens the door. “Fine. But why do you want to go so early? Some guy going to be there?” And there’s the look he’s worn for the last two months since we’d lost that stupid game of spin the bottle.

With a shake of my head, I answer his question and he becomes the Danny I’ve known all of my life. As my foot touches the bottom step, I decide to let him in on everything. “Do you know why everybody’s excited about the carnival?”

“Because of the food and shows.” He rubs his stomach and licks his lips causing me to giggle.

“That’s not it. Well, it’s not just that.” Images jump through my mind of the faces of the people. “It’s like they’re sparkling.”

Danny stops mid step. “What’s sparkling?”

Fingers safely inside of their sleeve shelter, I wave my arms in the air like a magician. “Their eyes! When they see her—they just change. It’s so cool, Danny! Haven’t you ever noticed?”

Putting his arm around my shoulders, we begin walking again. “If I had a clue about what the heck you’re talking about, maybe then I could answer. But I’m seriously lost here, Skyler. You have to remember I’m not a girl. I don’t have y’alls built-in elephant memory thing. So, help your BFF out.”

The carnival’s just twenty steps away and already I can see that look. It’s so cool to have my best friend live so close to the carnival grounds. Makes up for Danny wasting our time doing whatever he does before leaving his “sanctuary.” I stare for a moment, fixated on their expressions. My body starts shaking and Danny pulls me closer thinking that I’m cold, but I’m not. That’s not why I’m shivering like the hand-of-death its self has touched me. It’s because for once in my life I can see their eyes a little differently.

They’re not sparkling. They’re glass!

“Skyler? Hello, you there?”

She’s there at the gate, welcoming everybody inside. Normally I don’t see her until the show begins, but this year’s different. I watch as she shakes each hand and see them leave themselves. Five feet from the midnight-blue haired girl, I stop. Nails digging into Danny’s slender arm, I whisper, “Let’s just go somewhere else. I’m kinda over this place already.”

“You sick or something?” When I shake my head, Danny adds, “Weren’t you the one who was dying to get over here like right away?”

Her eyes drift over and meet with mine. Her gaze punches me directly in the gut and all of the air rushes from my body. I’m on my knees in a second, gasping for desperately needed oxygen. Danny’s doing his best to calm me down, but it’s not helping. All I can see is her hot-pink eyes. Hot-freaking-pink! Suddenly everything I once thought was so beautiful about her is scaring me right out of my very own skin.

“Is your girlfriend okay?” A soft, melodic voice asks. My eyes dart up and there are those pink eyes staring down at me.

Danny begins to snicker nervously. “Um, my friend’s okay. Just having a panic attack.” He finishes his explanation off with a mumbled, “For some weird reason.”

My body repels backwards, taking Danny along with me. “Tightrope walker.” I know I’m not making sense, but I’m hoping all of our years of being friends will get the message through.

He looks from me to her and back again. “Is that who she is?”

I nod and pray he gets the same weird feeling I’m having right now.

“Huh. Didn’t recognize her. Have we ever watched her before?”

A freight train roars through my head with memories of the same exact girl walking the same exact line every year we’ve been alive. “Yes.”

We’re too close to the entrance. Must get away.

“Really? Cause I don’t ever remember watching that act here.” He gives her another look and I watch as she begins flirting with him by twisting her hips in that Victoria Secret model way. He doesn’t even look away as he adds, “Is she what you were so excited about a few minutes ago?”

I tug his arm, forcing Danny to focus back on me. “Maybe, but I want to go somewhere else now.” My voice is filled full of false-flirt, but it’s doing nothing to get him on my side. She already has him hooked and he’s dragging me along into Hell with him.

Danny yanks me from the ground and sighs. “I’m hungry, Skyler and we’re already here. Stop being rude and let’s go get some grub!”

“Is she okay?” Once Danny says I’m fine, she adds, “Good! Then welcome to Carnaval de la Muerte.” Her hand slowly grasps Danny’s and I watch as the glass curtain covers his once vibrant eyes. His other hand drops from mine as she adds, “I’m Segadora, the tightrope walker.”

“Danny?” I reach out, determined to break Segadora’s link to him. Just when I’m about to touch him, her hand slips from his and grasps mine. My eyes widen and my heart begins to race. Those pink eyes are locked with mine once again and in a flash, the world fades to a fuzzy realm full of nothingness.

***

The bed shakes as I shoot up. Deep purple and emerald fabric surrounds me, blocking the cool air from reaching inside.

“You’re awake. Good,” Segadora says.

I try to get up, but something’s locked my body into place. Muscles contract, trying to bring much needed oxygen to my lungs. I’m in full-on freak-out mode and Danny’s nowhere in sight to help me. It takes all I have just to ask, “Where am I?”

“Ah, I remember asking that question once.” She rises and holds out an emerald-sequin leotard, looking at it like it held all of her questions answers. Segadora doesn’t stop her examination as she continues, “And before you ask, your little friend’s outside in the crowd getting ready to watch the show.”

Again I try to move, but nothing happens. “Why am I here then?”

She tosses the outfit on the end of the bed. “Get dressed in that and then we’ll do your hair and makeup.”

“I’m not wearing that!” My mouth protests everything, but my body’s not listening. Instead, I find myself standing and shedding my jeans and tee. Slipping into the soft satin costume, electric tingles crawl up and down my entire being.

Segadora smiles as she releases my hair from its holder. In just fifteen minutes she’s turned my stringy mess of a mane into beautiful, bouncy curls. “Now,” she says, “just a touch of peach gloss and gold shadow with liner and you’ll be perfect.”

Tears sting my eyes. They burn. Worse than anything I’ve ever felt before in my life. The mirror tells me why when I catch a glimpse of my pale green eyes stained with a slight pale pink. “Why is this happening to me?”

“Just relax and allow your instincts to show you what to do. If you freak out, you die. Got it?”

I nod.

“Good. Now let’s go. It’s show time—Skyler, right?”

Segadora escorts me through a tunnel made from tents of every color into the main one. The worker’s eyes finally make sense to me. I always thought they wore colorful contacts to be funny, but it’s really their eyes. Something about this carnival makes them that way. Makes us this way.

“You’re the one who’s doing this to everyone. Why are you doing this?” My brain’s screaming at my legs to run, for my fist to punch Segadora, but nothing happens. Instead, I walk forward as the ringmaster announces their brand new tightrope walker, The Amazing Skyler, to the audience. Cheers fill my ears, but it’s not loud enough to drown out her response.

“Fifteen years. I’ve waited for you for fifteen long years.”

I find myself for a second and turn to face her. “What does that mean? How old are you?”

Segadora’s ruby lips slide into a Cheshire cat grin. “You’re here so now I’m free. Fifteen years from now you will find her and then you will be free as well.” Her fingers plays with one of my loose curls. “It’s not fair, I know. But the carnaval demands a walker. The first was fifteen and she served for fifteen years before she found her replacement. She left at the age of fifteen same as I am right now. In that same time you will repeat the same past until you’re released into a new present. Your Danny will be thirty, but you’re not into him like that anyway. But you won’t complain because you’ll be free. I know I’m not complaining.”

“I won’t do it. You can’t make me.” My words come out weaker than I intend.

Again she smiles, eyes changing from that frightening pink into a soft baby-blue. “My poor, Skyler. I’m not doing anything to you, nor can I make you do anything. It’s the carnaval. She demands you. It’s your turn to serve her since my time has ended. And if you can find a way to free yourself when I couldn’t, then bravo.”

Bright white-light surrounds me and my body swiftly turns and starts strutting towards center ring. From the corner of my eye I see Danny, cheering madly in the front room without realizing who I am. Again, water clouds my vision and it takes all I have not to fight against my limbs as they carry me to the top of the stand. Segadora said to follow my instincts or I’d die, so I do because dying is something I’m not willing to do at the moment. I may be losing myself, but I refuse to lose my life before I figure out how to break this freaking curse.

My heart beats madly, threatening to rip itself from my chest. As my foot leaves the safety of the small wooden ledge and rests on the flimsy metal wire, my stomach flips upside down.

Just breathe and keep going. Everything will be fine. Just breathe, Skyler.

Step after step, I keep walking until I’m in the center of the tightrope. And now I remember what’s next. Rising on the tips of my toes, arms raised above my head, I spin and begin doing little hops in place. The crowd goes wild with every little move I make. I know what I’m doing is impossible, but as long as I’m not falling, my body keeps doing what it’s told to do. The wire bends and sways, but somehow I stay put. Even when I do a fancy little spin and the tightrope threatens to move right from under my feet, we remain one and I land safely on the exit platform just as Segadora had every year I’d watched her perform.

Night-after-night, town-after-town, the same routine repeats with nothing new happening. Segadora’s long gone, but her words are fresh in my mind every second of every day. The carnies all treat me as an old friend, but deep down I know they know one day I’ll be gone. A new walker will take my place and I’ll be free. Someday I’ll be the one to doom a girl to this fate. For the first five years I tried to fight it until I found Segadora’s diary. Her words of trying to fall from the tightrope and failing along with the nightmares that followed scared me enough to realize we are powerless against the Carnaval. So for ten more years I will walk the wire until I find her and doom her to take my place.

After it’s over, will I even remember this place? Her name? Dear, God—will I remember what I’ve done?

***

Baby-blue seemed to be the color for her and the costume fit well. I leaned against the pole near the exit and watched as she did our old act. I know she’ll be fine. The wire takes care of us and makes sure us walkers don’t fall. Her acts almost over now so it’s my time to go.

Walking out into the crisp, Autumn air, I sigh. It’s been fifteen years since I’ve felt so alive and I plan on enjoying my new-found freedom. Lucky for me I found her on the opposite end of the country from my hometown. I don’t know what I would’ve done if she’d been there. If she’d been his daughter I know I would’ve just died and allowed her to be free. That was something I vowed when the thought first came to my mind.

I’m on the edge of the street when I hear it. That squeaky voice that brings tears rushing to my eyes as it exclaims, “Skyler?”

And now I’m face-to-face with a thirty-year-old Danny. Gone is the shaggy hair. In its place is a neat adult cut. But those dark-chocolate eyes have the same look in them that they’d had so many years ago when he last looked at me.

“Um, hi, Danny. How you been?”

He bum rushes me, wrapping stronger arms than I remember him having around my body. I can hear him crying and my heart actually breaks in a way that finally allows me to understand why people say that.

You’re fifteen, Skyler and he’s thirty. Let it go. Let him go. I’m telling myself this when I hear him rambling on about how he’s missed me and how he’s never gotten over losing me. And that’s when I realize that for fifteen years we’ve both been walking a tightrope. Me literally and Danny—well, he’s been pretending to live while searching for me in secret. I know this because he’s whispering in broken sobs as he pulls me close.

I catch my pale green eyes in a side mirror of a nearby car and sigh. “Shhh, Danny. I’m here now and everything’s fine. Just chill.”

He refuses to release me. “Chill? You sound like it hasn’t been forever since we talked.” When Danny does pull away, the question comes. “Where have you been, Skyler?”

Those chocolate eyes. I never realized what they did to me. Why I didn’t fight about losing the spin when the bottle landed on him. Damn, you’re who I was thinking of every night. I raise up, clasp my hands on both sides of his face, and press my lips to his. To hell with age difference. Right now all I want to do is what I should’ve done back then.

My body trembles with every second I kiss him, but it’s not until I catch my reflection again that I understand why it felt so violent. With one kiss I aged to the point where I look like Danny. I can even see the little lines edging the corners of my eyes and mouth from laughing too much. I look back at him, but Danny doesn’t seem to notice the change. All he can see is the same girl he was crazy about fifteen years ago. I know this because he’s wearing that same stupid-grin he had when I kissed him in that closet. At least this time I don’t want to slap him.

Danny shakes his head and looks back at me. “Where have you been?”

Taking his hand in mine, I turn and we begin to walk away as I reply, “You know. Walking a tightrope and being a star.” I can tell he doesn’t believe me, but he doesn’t ask again. As we get farther away from the carnival I feel guilty about what I’ve done to the new girl. But at least I know there’s a chance she’ll find happiness. We may walk the wire for fifteen years, but once we’re free from the act, we’re free to find ourselves and that’s something I would’ve never found without Segadora the Fantastic Tightrope Walker.

“Skyler,” Danny stops and gives me a strange look. “What’s wrong with your eyes?”

My head snaps to the right and I scream as hot-pink covers the pale-green once again. An explanation starts to tumble from my lips, but when I turn back to him, Danny’s gone and I’m standing on the tightrope ledge alone once again.

It was a dream. He’s not here and I’m not free.

Tears sting my eyes while the crowd keeps cheering madly. Segadora once thought the walkers were truly what kept the carnival going. That’s why we couldn’t die. At first I couldn’t understand why she’d wanted to die, but now I totally get it. Water streams down my face as I take my first step onto the wire. It bends as usual, but my vision’s too clouded to see anything clearly.

Three steps and then spin. As I’m allowing my instincts to keep the instruction firmly in my mind, a sentence from Segadora’s diary finally clicks with me. The wire knows what you’re thinking so it’ll always move to save you. It’s useless to even try to leave it before it’s time.

I keep thinking left. The word is connected to a series of spins and I know that direction isn’t part of the act. When the time comes I begin to spin. The wire responds under my feet and just when I think about jumping off to the left, the wire sways that way and I leap to the right.

As the air rushes around my body, I see the tightrope above me and I’m wondering if it’s trying to catch me again. The ground’s going to hurt, but I don’t care. To hell with this carnival. I’m done being a walker. The crash shatters every bone in my body, and it’s almost impossible to breathe. The glassy look in the crowd’s eyes is gone and now they’re screaming and running away. As the last person exits the main tent, the sapphire and gold fabric falls around me.

It worked. I’m free.

Just as the last breath’s leaving my body I see it. The girl from my dream’s standing beside the ringmaster, hot-pink stains her eyes as a demonic smile decorates her face.

The carnival must have a walker. Leaving before it’s time is useless.

I fade away as Johnny Cash’s Walk the Line is hummed wickedly into my ear by the new girl who is taking my place on the wire. 

Lucifame


This story was written for agent Bree Ogden's Halloween week 2 contest. I hope you enjoy my creation.

LUCIFAME

January 21st
My old friend Lucifer stopped by a month ago complaining about how nobody likes him anymore. After five hours of constant whining, he called in the favor I owed him. While I do owe my genius in creation to him, I feel what he is asking from me will end badly. But still I agreed to the terms, so I have gathered the required ingredients. Nobody can ever say that Dr. Lee Spencer isn’t a man of his word.
Ingredients:
1tsp sweat from pop star donor
500 strands of hair from the same donor
Skin from a fresh corpse (Flawless complexion only.)
4 pints of blood taken from sweat donor
* All ingredients from pop star must be taken when donor is—erm—not awake.
Process and results:
After stitching the new skin onto his body, I mixed the blood and sweat together before injecting it into his bloodstream. Once the hair was sewn into place, Lucifer awoke and immediately dawned a meat dress.
Our first try was a fail.

***

February 19th
I acquired ingredients from a new donor and repeated my previous steps. Lucifer awoke and started spitting on everyone. After only being able to say swag, he tried to kill me before I put him to sleep.
We will try again.

***

March 2nd
After adjusting the mixture to 2 pints of blood and a half teaspoon of sweat from a third donor, we gave it another try. It was deemed a failure after Lucifer refused to talk without a track to lip-sync to. Also the head shaving didn’t help. I don’t even want to remember the flashing of his newfound—lady part. Once the crying began after I took away his umbrella, we agreed to try again.

***

April 26th
Our last try. Everything was halved from the original recipe and the Lucifame monster was born. My debt has been paid. I do not wish to see him again. Not after watching him twerking his was to Georgia with his tongue out. In fact, I’m through with creation. He’s gained admirers which means I have truly failed. Creating him has ruined me. This is my last report. I can’t—.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

They're So Talking About You: What I've Learned From Contests. Or At Least Some Of It.



So the lovely Brenda Drake's super awesome contest known as Pitch Madness is upon us again and I've once again thrown my hat in the ring. Well, I threw my MCs' hats in the ring, but they're still there. There's a hashtag on twitter that all of us are glued to. Well, most of us are. I'll admit I have it up while writing and researching things. And that tag's what made me want to write this post.

As authors we sometimes allow things to mess with us. Dahlia Adler wrote a great post on the headgames we play. It's a must read because not only did Dahlia nail it, but her words have a way of just making you feel better. Believe me when I say this woman has a gift! And as for those headgames, none are played more than during contests. Contests make us excited and nervous and every little thing can make us feel like we're on a roller coaster of emotions. I've been there and I'm still there. But I've also learned a few things along the way and below I'm sharing just a few myself and a couple of friends have felt at some point in time.

YES, THAT TWEET IS ABOUT YOU. (NO, NOT REALLY.)

So you're following the hashtag and they're tweeting out about the slush/entries. They're talking about mistakes in entries. Advice is being given. They've found something super awesome and they're in love! Every little thing said has you on the edge of your seat and you're certain it's all about you. The longer it goes, the more you're heart's racing and you're stomach's tightening. You read every tweet wondering if it's about you.


Here's the thing, it's most likely not. With so many entries in their inbox, there's a very slim chance that they're referring to you. I know it may seem like it, especially when it sounds so close to what you sent in. But it's not. And if it is, there's nothing you can do about it now but learn from the mistake if it is one. Reading the tag is fun and you can make wonderful friends there. I personally have made a few really cool ones on contest tags. But not every little vague tweet is about you, so relax and have fun. And don't forget to listen to that advice they're tweeting because it may come in handy in the future!

IF YOU DON'T GET IN THEN YOU'RE A HORRIBLE AUTHOR. (SERIOUSLY NOT TRUE.)

Hundreds of people have sent in their entry and you're one of them. You've polished and polished everything required and you're positive it's a hit. You read every tweet and follow ever person involved. The big reveal day comes when the chosen ones are announced and.... You didn't make it. Nope! Sorry. Maybe next time.
You re-read the list. You've had to have missed your name. But you haven't. You know you did everything right. You're entry was perfect and agents would surely snatch it up. What could this mean? You think about it until it hits you. You're a horrible author and you should just stop writing period.


I'm not saying you can't be bummed. That's perfectly understandable. What I am saying is that you don't suck. Think about how many people entered and how many could be picked. Yes, it would've been wonderful to be a winner, but you knew going in that the chances of not winning were high. With so many amazing entries including yours, the judges had to pick what they felt was right for their contest. That doesn't mean you're terrible and should just stop. Your word count may have been too high/low or your genre was packed with a lot of amazing entries and they had to let A LOT of you go. That's okay. Just say thank you to the hosts and to anyone who has offered advice and keep chugging along. And remember, you don't suck just because you didn't make it in this time. Plus, there's always twitter pitch parties and the next contest. Heck! You may even have a new MS that could be the one!


YOU MADE IT IN, BUT YOU GOT NO AGENT LOVE. TIME FOR ICE CREAM AND TO NEVER WRITE AGAIN!

Yay! You were one of the chosen few and agent(s) are coming to read your entry. You just know this is it and you're about to start a wonderful relationship with your dream agent. You wait and wait for something, anything to be put on your post. Then the contests comes to a close and your post is sadly still empty or only has a, "This isn't right for me," on it. You're heart sinks and tears fill your eyes. They didn't like you and they think you're book's a train wreck. That can only mean one of two things: Shelve your book for good or never write again.


As I've said above, not getting any love doesn't mean you just stop writing. It doesn't mean the agent(s) don't like you. It doesn't even mean your book's horrible. It just means it wasn't right for the agent(s) or the market. It's up to you if you want to shelve your book if you've receive a lot of rejections or feedback that's made you lose that loving feeling. It's your book and I'm not here to tell you what to do with it. What I will say is to give it a chance. Tweak it if you've received feedback on how to make it better. If you don't want to keep putting it out there, then work on something new. In the end, have yourself a cry and eat some ice cream. Then dust yourself off and get back to writing. Just don't give up because no matter what you think someone thinks about your work, it should never make you stop doing what you love!


TO SUM IT UP:

Contests are fun and you can really learn a lot from them. Just don't let every little thing get to you because that'll only drive you crazy. Read the tags and follow the blogs. Take any advice you're given, (sometimes with a grain of salt.) Just whatever you do, don't allow it to make you stop writing! And if you're doing Pitch Madness, until the top 60 are announced feel free to be a little nervous/excited. Just also keep working on your next book because either way it'll come in handy once the contest is done.


Are you doing Pitch Madness? If so let me know in the comments. I've got my pom-poms ready to cheer all of us on no matter what happens! Until next time, happy reading and writing everyone!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Charcoal and Hot Chocolate by Irene Rose: A Review


Buy from Amazon or one of the places listed Here.



I picked up Charcoal and Hot Chocolate hoping for a good read, but got an amazing one instead. How Irene wrote Ellie and River's story is spot on and felt more like I was reading a real love story instead of a fictional one. 

Ellie's a shy art student with strict parents that she chooses to get away from by going to school far away from them. She's content with her life and art, but then here comes River who I love so freakin much! His awkwardness mixed with her shyness sucked me in. I like characters who aren't just beautiful people with no issues to dirty their perfectness. Maybe it's because of this trait Irene gave him that made River so understanding as Ellie blossomed into the girl she is in the end of the book. Honestly, I think I love this book so much more because of River than Ellie and I really do like her a ton. She's a wonderful MC and one that I generally identify with.

And that's why I really held on for the ride. Ellie. How Irene wrote her in a way that made me feel like we could be friends. She felt real and I like that. It's that realness that made her journey with River one that I was willing to invest in. 

All-in-all, Charcoal and Hot Chocolate is a NA book that I highly recommend. It's a read you won't regret and I promise that! I'm giving it a solid A+!

Until next time, happy reading and writing everyone!

Monday, June 10, 2013

CP and Beta Reader Meetup Party!



Today's post is more like a party for authors to meet other authors or people who just love to read. So if you're looking for a critique partner or two and maybe a few beta readers, then this is the party for you! If you'd like to be a beta reader, then this meetup is also perfect for you!

Here's how it's going to go. In the comments, answer a few short questions that I will list below and tell a little about yourself. If you see someone you'd like to have as a CP or beta, contact them and let the author/reader love grow!

THE QUESTIONS:
1. Name:
2. What do you write?
3. What are you looking for?
4. Anything you'd like to share about yourself?
5. What kind of feedback are you looking for?
6. Contact info:

EXAMPLE:

1. Name: Jamie Corrigan
2. What do you write? Mostly YA, but I've also written some adult and NA. I write fantasy and contemporary at the moment, but that might change in the future.
3. What are you looking for? A teen beta reader or readers.
4. Anything you'd like to share about yourself? I'm not afraid of steam. So if you write adult don't be afraid if there's steam, I'll happily read it!
5. What kind of feedback are you looking for? Be tough. While being kind is always nice, let me know if you see a problem so I can fix it. That is the only way I can make the story be the best it can possibly be!
6. Contact info: Here or on twitter @saphirablue84

And that's it! If both people feel they are a match, then yay! If you don't feel like you'd be a good fit if you're contacted, then please feel free to turn down the offer. This party isn't for you to feel pressured into accepting someone as a CP or beta if you honestly don't feel like you'll work well together. This party is for you to have fun and find someone or multiple someones you can click with! So, have fun in the comments and may you all find what you are looking for!!

Until next time, happy reading and writing everyone!

NOTE: If captcha's on it's because I'm getting a lot of spam and I don't want everyone to be bogged down having to read through them to find the people who are looking for CP's and betas. Have fun!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sometimes It's Better Not To Be Published: A Vanity Post



Being published is something I've been dreaming of for years. That dream may have been below becoming a singer on my dream job list, but it was always there. In the last few years, my life changed and so did what I wanted for myself. That's when that little dream became a true goal in my life. So I sat down and began writing. Not only did I start to put words on a page, but I also began researching how publishing is supposed to work and how to do it. That includes traditional and self-publishing, because I'm never counting either of those choices out.


Research is something I feel like everyone should do no matter what they're doing. So imagine my surprise when I heard about a classmate's parent who is having their book published. Automatically I was like, "Wow! That's wonderful! I'm so happy for them!" But then I had to ask the normal questions of, "So, what did they write?" and "Who's publishing it?" The autobiography part really didn't shock me, but the publisher did. Believe me folks when I say the publisher that is so graciously publishing their book, (for a whopping $19.95 with typos,) is vanity at its finest.


So of course when they said who they were told the publisher was, (I checked and they were correct,) I was like this:


Research was definitely not done in this case obviously. And here I am, sick at my stomach because I know that what they think is their big chance to get their story out to the world isn't what it's being sold as. For those of you who don't already know what a vanity publisher is, please click HERE to find out. Safe to say, this isn't how you want your words to greet the world.


Yog's Law is something all authors should know by heart. Money flows toward the author, not away. Live it, love it, breathe it. The only case I'm going to say this isn't 100% correct is in self-publishing. I understand you'll have to put your own money out for editing and cover art. Heck! I'll even give you paying for promotion because that's how you'll reach readers. But self-publishers are the ones I give this to. If you've signed with a publisher and they're asking for you to pay for editing, cover art, promotion, or even asking/demanding you to buy your own books; RUN! That's a huge red flag and isn't how publishing works.


But you want to be published and they're not asking for that much money. You've already heard how dead and horrible traditional publishing is and self-publishing is too much work. These nice people are going to do all the work for you and all you have to do is give them a few hundred bucks and wait for your royalties to come rolling in. Here's the thing, they won't. Vanity publishers hike prices up beyond market prices or are so poorly edited that people refuse to buy them. They're hardly ever in brick and mortar stores such as B&N so readers won't even know you exist. And if you ever hope to get a real publisher or agent, it may make it harder to be done. In short:


If you can't afford the money to self-publish or you don't want to go that direction because a publisher is what you want, then please do your research. Absolute Write is a wonderful place to look up publishers and agents and see the good and bad from authors who've dealt with them. Google is also a friend. Remember that there's a reason the saying, "It's better not to be published at all than to be published badly," is around. Please, don't allow your words to be published badly. Allow them to greet your reader with their best outfit and smile on. That is truly the way traditional and self-publishing should be.

As for my classmate's parent, I kind of didn't know what to say to the person who told me. I mean, how do you handle this type of situation? I've managed to help a friend not to fall prey to a bad agent and publisher, but this person has went a step farther. It's a tough spot to be in, but I knew I had to do something. So I told them that I recognized the publisher and it wasn't for a good reason. I instructed them to have my classmate go to Absolute Write and look the publisher up. When this shared friend asked why I was saying this, all I could do was say that the press was a vanity press and they should look it up.

It's too late for them to get out of their contract, but if I've saved them from having to spend any more money, then I've done something good. I hated being the downer on their publishing parade, but I felt it was my duty as a friend and fellow author to let them know what they were dealing with. Maybe I'm wrong, but it just felt and still feels like the right thing to do.

Have you or a friend ever dealt with a vanity or bad publisher or agent? What did you do? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time, happy reading and writing everyone!