Monthly Archives: November 2009

Portal to Cimmeria Excerpts Removed for Contest

Standard

I’ve submitted my YA novel Portal to Cimmeria (renamed Dragons in the Dark  Volume I: Threshold) to a contest (Serendipity Literary Agency, in collaboration with Sourcebooks and Gotham Writers’ Workshop, is hosting its first Young Adult Novel Discovery Competition) and so had to remove the excerpts.

I’ve also entered into the Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers Twenty-Eighth Annual Delacorte Press Contest for a First Young Adult Novel.

I’ve also submitted a Christmas Story to the Jacksonville Times Union and a poem I wrote as a Picture Book to a poetry contest. I already had three short stories in a contest and am waiting to hear about them.

I won’t know about most of these until early 2010, so it’ll be a pins-and-needles Christmas for sure.

In the meanwhile I’m working on a MG version written as a journal with line illustrations. It looks awesome in my head!

Cross your fingers ya’ll.

Passive vs Active Verbs in Your Manuscript

Standard

The very first draft of my MS was a total mess. I’d spent 18 months writing it and was ecstatic when I’d finished.  Or thought I had. I started looking for a place to send it and found a willing publisher. So off it went. Unedited. Unrevised. Horrendous.

Since then I’ve done a lot of reading and learning, talking with other writers and learning. Oh yeah, I meant to put that word twice. Learning. It’s what a writer does each step of the way. I found some awesome blogs to follow, which I’ll list in another post; I found hundreds of writers, editors, agents, consultants and publishers to follow on Twitter; I listened in on Twitter chats, participating when I had something to say; I listened to Podcasts and Blog Radio casts. But while I use the past tense verb here, it should be present tense because I continue to do all of these things every week. I learn.

So what have I learned? The second biggest thing was my use of verbs. (First was Point of View). My original MS was full of passive and weak verbs. In case you are in the beginning stages of this learning experience, I’ll give you some pointers and maybe save you some time.

Passive verbs are boring. They show inaction or lack of action and who wants to read about characters who do nothing?

Here are some basic rules to remember:

If the subject performs the action of the main verb, the sentence is active.

If the subject sits there while something else, named or unnamed, performs an action on it, the sentence is passive.

If the main verb is a linking verb (is, was, were, have, has, had, are, seems (to be), been, being, becomes, etc.), then the verb shows no action; it merely describes a state of being which is passive.

Past Tense:

Active Voice              I taught; I learned

Passive Voice           I was (have been) taught (by someone); It was (has been) learned (by someone)

Present Tense:

Active Voice              I teach; I learn

Passive Voice           I am (being) taught; I am learning (from someone)

Using passive verbs is not wrong. There are times when its use can make a statement.

If you want to downplay the action of the story:

As the bullet entered the body a lesson was learned by all present.

When no one knows who is doing the action:

The girl was hit over the head with a baseball bat.

The teacher (subject doing action) teaches (action) the students (object receiving action).

The students (subject receiving action) are taught (passive verb) by the teacher (doing action).

Brian (subject doing action) washes (action verb) the car (object receiving action).

The car (subject receiving action) is washed (passive verb) by Brian (doing action).

Readers like stories with strong verbs. Here is a paragraph from an early version of my MS. Compare the final verb to the passive verb in parenthesis. I’ve also shortened lengthy sentences so they read crisply and clearly, excess is crossed out. Below the paragraph is the rewritten version.  Read the two paragraphs and see which you prefer.

They walked to the bedroom. where Zarena offered to help the little girl (get her dress off) undress. Once inside the bathroom Long Tu first reached into her pocket, found pulled Slither out and placed him in(to) the sink with the stopper closed and a little water in the bottom.  The snake stretched, then curled into the water and actually looked (like he was purring) as though he purred. Next, Zarena unbuttoned the torn filthy dress and lifted it over Long Tu’s head.  She noticed that even Long Tu’s underwear was torn and dirty and made a mental note (that she needed new everything)to replace even that.  Once the thin, brown-skinned little girl was naked, Zarena helped her into the steaming shower and slid the curtain closed.  As (she was sliding) the curtain slid, she glanced down at Long Tu’s skinny thighs. Something looks wrong, (she thought to herself)( before turning) she frowned, shrugging. (to find) She went to her dresser. Long Tu needs something to wear.  As she rummaged for the smallest tee-shirt she could find, her mind thoughts (kept turning back) remained on Long Tu’s thighs.  (A niggling thought wriggled like a worm weaving in and out of her consciousness until she grasped it and held on.) With an very audible gasp she realized what was wrong.  There (was) no harp-shaped birthmark anywhere on the child! The child has no birthmark! She remembered learning from someone that the mark was the way to tell a true Vigorio from a false one.  A false one?  Is that even possible?

slither

They walked to the bedroom.

“I’ll help you get undressed,” Zarena smiled.

Once inside the bathroom Long Tu reached into her pocket, pulled Slither out and placed him into the sink with the stopper closed and a little water in the bottom.  The snake stretched, curled into the water and actually looked as though he purred. Zarena unbuttoned the torn filthy dress and lifted it over Long Tu’s head.  She noticed that Long Tu’s underwear was torn and dirty and made a mental note to replace even that.  Once the thin, brown-skinned little girl was naked, Zarena helped her into the steaming shower and slid the curtain closed.  As the curtain slid, she glanced down at Long Tu’s skinny thighs. Something looks wrong, she frowned, shrugging. She went to her dresser. Long Tu needs something to wear.  As she rummaged for the smallest tee-shirt she could find, her thoughts remained on Long Tu’s thighs.  With an audible gasp she realized what was wrong.  The child has no birthmark! She remembered learning the mark was the way to tell a true Vigorio from a false one.  A false one?  Is that even possible?

Is Creating a Masterpiece Worth the Time and Effort? You Bet It Is!

Standard

Sometimes we get caught up in daily living and forget that true beauty or literature or masterpiece can take time to create. Our instant entertainment, instant communication and instant knowledge access is responsible. As a writer it is sometimes hard to imagine taking more than a few months to write a book. Then you look at truly exquisite literature and learn it took years, sometimes many, many years, to come about.

This domino exhibit took 90 experts 2 months to create using tweezers and rulers. Is it worth it? It was to them. You be the judge.

 

Young Adult (YA) Writers on Twitter

Standard

I finished my NaNoWriMo novel already at 81,063 words! I’m sure my family missed me but it sure feels good getting it finished. I’ve even edited it and sent it to a publisher. Cross your fingers.

Following is a list of YA Writers on Twitter.

Cynthia Sue Larson | @cynthialarsondragon-04

Tom Upton | @tomupton33

Jon F. Merz | @jonfmerz

Brian Rathbone | @brianrathbone

DebbiVaughn | @DebbiVaughn

Justin Sachs | @justinsachs

Twilighters Network | @twilightersnet

Dr. Stephen Jones | @DrStephenJones

Shonika Proctor | @teenbizcoach

YasminShiraz | @YasminShiraz

Meghan Riley | @PixieChaser

Lady Ellen | @LadyEllen

Richard Nash | @R_Nash

Carl Hindy, Ph.D. | @DrCarlHindy

Death Wave (ebook) | @stevekahn

MeghnaK | @MeghnaK

FreshFiction | @FreshFiction

Debbie Dunn | @DebbieDunn

Lin Burress | @tiddlytwinks

sandy617 | @sandy617

Lindsay W. | @virtualcreative

Roxanne Smolen | @roxannesmolen

Carrie Silver-Stock | @girlswithdreams

Laurie Esposito Harley | @PoeticLotion

ljnewlin | @dahliasignetof

Janet Mulroy | @KidCrunchMom

sharon anne | @sharonlovescats

YA edge | @YAedge

Young Adult RWA | @YA_RWA

Medeia Sharif | @sharifwrites

shecobea | @cobe24

Tom Dolby | @TomDolby

B M Foxxe Kitsune | @draemesaekyrFK

Lisa Schroeder | @lisa_schroeder

SheilaRuth | @SheilaRuth

Marie Lamba | @marielamba

Wuffs Bonanzle | @Wufflespring

LC Russell | @Novemberbooks

Lili Wilkinson | @twitofalili

Kimberly | @gladeslibrarian

Jennifer Banash | (@jenniferbanash

Cyn Balog | @cynbalog

darkened_jade | @darkened_jade

Lynn E. Hazen | @LynnHazen

Sandra Humphrey | @Sandra305

LK Gardner-Griffie | @lkgg

Robin Brande | @RobinBrande

amandaashby | @amandaashby

Paula Chase | @PaulaChase

Evanlowe | @Evanlowe

C. Lee McKenzie | @cleemckenzie

Kiki Lon | @kikilon

DallasWoodburn | @DallasWoodburn

Jon Bard | @jonbard

Anne Mazer | @Annemazer

Barry Lyga | @barrylyga

Melissa Wiley | @bonnyglen

Carin Berger | @CarinBerger

Cynthea Liu | @cynthea

Cynthia Chapman Willis | @CynthiaCWillis

Laurel Snyder | @LaurelSnyder

Lauren Baratz Logsted | @LaurelBaratzL

Lisa McMann | @lisa_mcmann

LK Gardner-Griffie | @lkgg

Maureen Johnson | @maureenjohnson

Meg Cabot | @megcabot

Rebecca Moesta | @RebeccaMoesta

Sarah Dessen | @sarahdessen

Shane Berryhill | @ShaneBerryhill

Susan Taylor Brown | @susanwrites

Gerry Huntman /@GerryHuntman

Rebecca Ryals Russell / @Vigorio

Henry Melton / @HenryMelton



New Mexico Women’s Soccer Player #15 a Good Role Model? Maybe As A Bully!

Standard

Both of my daughters played high school soccer for several years. We were so excited one year when they both played on the varsity team at the same time. We loved attending the games and watching the skillful dribbling and shooting and defending the ball. And we were extra proud of the good sportsmanlike behavior most of the girls on each team exhibited. There were occasional elbows thrown or ankles kicked with appropriate fouls called. And that was what the game was all about. Good sports behavior and playing because it’s fun.

So imagine my surprise and horror at watching the BYU vs New Mexico Women’s soccer match which looked more like women’s wrestling than soccer. There was more bad behavior in this one game than I’ve ever seen in whole seasons.  I do NOT understand why this bully was allowed to mistreat the opponents time and again in so visible a way that it was caught on numerous video cameras and yet the ref never called a foul?

Player #15 should have been tossed from that game after the first foul. At the very least, now that it is out and about, she should be benched for the remainder of the season.

She is certainly NOT the type of role model I want my girls emulating on or off the field.

 

POST NOTE:

Player #15 for New Mexico’s Women’s Soccer has been suspended indefinitely and has issued a letter of apology. That’s a good thing. But if I was still hurting from her fist in my back or yank of a ponytail during something deemed a sport, I might have a problem accepting it after the fact. The truth remains, she played like a heathen and ONLY apologized or got suspended after the uproar was raised.