Friday, June 28, 2013

Fortune Cookie Friday - Questions and Mistakes

Fridays always feel like Chinese food sort of days, and what's takeout without a fortune cookie? Thus, Fridays will bring you tips, tricks, advice, and some riddles that might apply to everything but will turn a light bulb on in your head (or maybe I just like talking like Yoda).

Do not be afraid to ask dumb questions; they are easier to handle than dumb mistakes.

...except an agent's query inbox. Those are for the mistakes, not the questions.

Happy writing!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fortune Cookie Friday - Wisdoms from Austin

Fridays always feel like Chinese food sort of days, and what's takeout without a fortune cookie? Thus, Fridays will bring you tips, tricks, advice, and some riddles that might apply to everything but will turn a light bulb on in your head (or maybe I just like talking like Yoda).

So pretty!

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a writer in possession of a manuscript must be in want of an agent.
"However little known the feelings or views of such an agent may be on his first entering a conference, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding writers, that he is considered as the rightful property of all the writers."
Entering conference season, behave yourself! No eating brains.

Happy writing!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Manners Monday: Sex and Gender

Since we all love Mondays and we Grandma decided to teach us the difference between a Bouillon spoon and a Grapefruit spoon and how to properly sit with our legs crossed rather than what we really need to know (all things writing and publishing), Mondays are dedicated to all things we need to know. You may not want to learn them, you may not want to learn them, but that book on your head will be put to better use, I promise you.  I'll bring to you common mistakes I think writers should just know, from grammar to word choice to how to properly sit in your chair at a conference pitch session without scaring the agent across from you. Tips range from first-grade knowledge politeness to Master's Degree expertise in grammar.

Sex and Gender

Here's one that I love and, people who try their hand at writing paranormal when they are not overly familiar with the genre, tend to make a lot (I'm looking at the millions of people who tried their own Twilight type many years ago when it was cool).

A man is a man and a woman is a woman. Right?

Not when that man is a werewolf or that woman is a vampire.

What makes a paranormal world so rich is the unique language each author creates. I'm not talking about creating a 5,000 page lexicon and inventing Klingon (though that particular fame to claim would be rockin'). Go back to the basics, question what you know and were taught at an early age. Imagine a people who were raised so differently, the way they refer to themselves is radically different: she is not a girl or woman or even a lady, she is a female, a young, a sorceress, a pup, a muggle (a word which my spell check still does not recognize; I find that very sad), a unit of measurement, etc, etc. 

But calling someone a man or male doesn't extend just to the awesome genre of Paranormal or Fantasy or SciFi (or what have you). It applies to our feline and canine friends as well (the non-shape-shifting kind). In a normal world, contemporary fiction for example, you refer to a girl cat as a "female." You can call a human girl a female, but we have a more correct term for it: "woman."

So all I am saying is, if your human is of the non-magical persuasion, call a pear a pear: man and woman. If your person-shaped creature is of the fantastical persuasion, male and female are much more apt. Beyond that, call them as you want, apples, oranges, and otherwise.

If you completely disagree, that's okay! Make it part of your world. Have rules.

What is your favorite non-human term for a man or woman (and from where)?

Happy writing!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wednesday Reads: Firelight

Every Wednesday (or most Wednesdays, or some Wednesdays) will bring you book reviews. Of a special variety. Yes, I am telling you which books are awesome and totally worth reading. But the point of my reviews is to hopefully make you conscious of the market and why this particular book was published: quality of writing, character and plot development, unique quirks of writing, characters, and plot that make it stand out. Take my tips to your own reading and writing, and through Constant Vigilance, will you succeed as a writer.

Firelight by Kristen Callihan, narrated by Moira Quirk

Firelight is the first in Kristen Callihan's Darkest London series. Here's what I love about this series, each book has its own unique flare (pun was not intended, I swear!). The first, Firelight, is Gothic in style, the second, Moonglow, tends towards more traditional Paranormal Romance, whereas the third, Winterblaze, dips into Steampunk. (I have not read the prequel, Ember.)

Synopsis: From the synopsis of any book you read, you can teach yourself how to write a query letter. This section will both tell you about the book, and what you should learn from the back cover blurb.
London, 1881
Once the flames are ignited . . .

Miranda Ellis is a woman tormented. Plagued since birth by a strange and powerful gift, she has spent her entire life struggling to control her exceptional abilities. Yet one innocent but irreversible mistake has left her family's fortune decimated and forced her to wed London's most nefarious nobleman.

They will burn for eternity . . . Lord Benjamin Archer is no ordinary man. Doomed to hide his disfigured face behind masks, Archer knows it's selfish to take Miranda as his bride. Yet he can't help being drawn to the flame-haired beauty whose touch sparks a passion he hasn't felt in a lifetime. When Archer is accused of a series of gruesome murders, he gives in to the beastly nature he has fought so hard to hide from the world. But the curse that haunts him cannot be denied. Now, to save his soul, Miranda will enter a world of dark magic and darker intrigue. For only she can see the man hiding behind the mask.
Great blurb for a ParaRom. But it's this line, "forced her to wed London's most nefarious nobleman" that has me reading on. Because I know we are going to find out about the nefarious Lord Archer, which is exactly what you want the reader to do. For your query, tend on the side of more information (Miranda's gift for example). 

Opening Pages: No agent, editor, or even reader will read past the first sentences or pages if it isn't grabs your attention and is well written.
From the prologue: "The knowledge that Archer would soon end the life of another cut at his soul with every step he took."

The first line establishes the who and what, while leaving just enough mystery to keep you reading. The entire prologue (the whole book really), keeps this up, giving you just enough information but keeping the mystery actively building.

Brownie Points: I touched on it already, but my favorite part was the dark Gothic feel of the entire novel. It is less the traditional ParaRom and more my college days of Gothic lit classes. Or Beauty and the Beast meets Phantom of the Opera. Your choice.

Brownie Point Two: I'm breaking my own format (because that never happens). I usually only focus on the first book in a series, but I love the opening of book two, Moonglow, in which we see Ian try bedding a whore... but he goes soft. Now that would get any reader's attention (agent or editor or otherwise).

Narrator's Performance: (As these novels were audio books for my commute, I have to comment on the presentation.) Soundly decent performance. Not the best female/male voices ever, but pacing was good and character voices unique. The thing that made it nearing a terrific performance though is the fact that the narrator was British, which lent an authentic air to the listen.

Who Should Read It: Anyone who reads or writes in any genre remotely relating to ParaRom (or Gothic or Steampunk, etc). It's a fresh take that readers will find welcoming especially if they have read too many ParaRoms in a row (*raises hand, not at all ashamed of it either*).

Happy Reading!