Friday, November 14, 2014

A Possible List of Things I Might Have Done

Upon receipt of my advance hardcover copy of NO PLACE TO FALL in my mailbox yesterday morning.


  • giggled
  • cried
  • giggled again
  • grinned like a Banshee
  • carried it like a prize into work
  • worn a secret smile
  • shown it to some colleagues while laughing maniacally and saying, "oh my effing god, I wrote a book. Look. I wrote a book."
  • held it up to the sky and whispered, "I wrote a book, bitches."
  • sniffed every page
  • undressed it
  • thrust the spine in peoples' faces. "Look the ink is shiny." Look the cover is embossed."
  • shown a few students
  • giggled
  • read the first chapter in book form and thought, "whoa, random teenagers will be reading my book."
  • thought, "who am I now?"
  • giggled
  • carried the book around under my arm during planning period in the hopes of running into more hapless victims who I could shock by whipping it out and saying "look. my book."
  • laughed maniacally
  • snuck into the library, okay marched, and shelved it in alphabetical order just to see what it would look like
  • stared at it on the shelf for a long enough period of time that it became awkward
  • giggled
  • petted the shiny cover
  • held the shiny cover to my cheek
  • giggled
  • realized the day was one of the most amazing days of my life
  • celebrated with a cupcake. as one does.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Get to Know Kristin Reynolds - My 2014 Pitchwars Mentee - Author of LE CIRQUE DU LITERATI

With my second year as a mentor in Pitchwars, I entered the contest excited and hopeful and curious, oh so curious, about which manuscripts would claw their way into my heart and not let go.

The two that I found, couldn't be more different in tone and writing style, but what they share is a common language of finding personal truths, love, hope, and a slathering of bittersweet despair.

Kristin Reynold's manuscript, LE CIRQUE DU LITERATI, blew me away with its poetic turns of phrase, mind-blowing visual imagery, and a heart aching love story between its two main characters. I found myself gasping at things, then seeing them fully realized in my head. It's the story of Josephine and Nikolai, both running from pieces of their lives, when they make the fateful decision to hop a train. The train though is not an ordinary train nor does it have an ordinary destination. The train delivers them to Meir, a magical world known only to Josephine through the pages of her grandmother's favorite book. And above Meir, in the clouds, is a Utopian circus filled with artists, poets, writers, dancers, creatives of all types, who seek a place to be safe from those who would dull the world down. Jo and Nik's journey in Meir is about facing their fears, their truths, and ultimately finding their way to each other. It's stunning and beautiful and I want to know which devastatingly smart agent is going to choose it.

Author Kristin Reynolds

1. Give us the Twitter pitch for your Pitchwars manuscript (140 characters or less)!
Josephine and beau Nikolai flee homes of fear & ruin. Magicians of a Utopian circus offer them sanctuary if they relive their darkest fears.

2. Stephanie Perkins does this cool thing for her books called a Love List, explained here: http://betweenfactandfiction.blogspot.com/2011/01/happy-writers-society-love-lists-by.html, what is the love list for your novel?

Oooh, this is fun and so important! Okay, here is my Le Cirque Du Literati Love List:

Cute Russian artist boy
Brave Girl hurt by the world
Reunited lost loves
Dead Gypsies
Literary heroes
Art
Poetry
Color splashed across the page
Love that hurts, but holds
Broken hearts
Mended wounds
Music
Moustaches
New life born from death
Otherworldly magicians
A circus of imagination!
A giant with moving tattoos
Fearlessness
Willpower
Truth
Believing in yourself and your dreams
Beating adversity
Battling personal demons
Trains
Train whistles
Granted wishes
Inspiration
True friends
Lavender sun
Cherry red moon
A city above the clouds
Magic
Letting go
A black tower called Magna Dune
A dog who is a friend
Freedom
And miracles for those who believe

3. Name a handful of writers whose work inspires you, along with a short explanation of why!

Wow, only five, eh? That is so hard!

In absolutely no order:

1) Stephen King: I reread The Dark Tower series every year or two and it never gets old for me. I have read a good many books, and with many have found true and deep love, but I cannot imagine any other character I adore more than Roland Deschain—and don’t get me started on Eddie and Oy! King writes so flawlessly, and with so much between the lines wisdom, beauty and truth, when it’s a timeless story like The Dark Tower or The Stand, there is nobody I’d rather read and learn from. Well, except for . . .

2) Haruki Murakami: Like King, Murakami twines philosophy and existential wisdom into his stories, using metaphor and just the right amount of weirdness to make every crazy event absolutely believable. Kafka on the Shore is one of my most beloved books and 1Q84 had me engrossed from page one. Such a brilliant, wise, and ethereal man, Murakami. I’ve learned a lot of style from him.

3) J. K. Rowling: Need I say more? She birthed a world that our world would not be the same without; her mind resurrected magic, and breathed such life into her characters, I for one would be lost without Harry Potter, Hogwarts, and Dumbledore, more necessary characters (Hogwarts is a character to me) whom I love and would hate to live without.

4) Antoine de Saint-Exupery: This man writes skies, deserts, the human heart, and treachery of man more fluidly and poetically than anyone—ever. Exupery, best known for writing The Little Prince, in my top 3 books of all time, is little known in regard to his other, adult novels. Such a shame! Put it this way. If I were to be trapped on a desert island with only one author’s books, it would be Antoine de Saint-Exupery: Flight to Arras, Wind, Sand and Stars, Wisdom of the sands, more, all of them are so literally divine I could live eternally inside his words.

5) And, last but not least, my new favorite author, Laini Taylor. Few writers today meet with her grace of combining visual art with literature. I see words and verses in color, so by the time I’m finished reading a book, the amalgamated hue generally leans one way or another: white, gray, blue, red, you get the idea. But hers are like a prism, a rainbow of color jumping off the page. Laini’s characters make me feel, love, yearn, have me right there with them, heart in my chest. I so adore her poetic language and style, I am always thrilled to immerse myself inside her unique and colorful worlds. J

4. Why PitchWars?

Why? Because it’s the greatest pitch contest ever! Where else can you learn such invaluable lessons—on craft, publishing, editing, grammar, stupid confusing commas, how to structure a novel that works, and how to keep writing no matter what, because, damn it, you can do this—where, but the illustrious Brenda Drake’s PitchWars can a writer find so much writerly love? There seriously could not be a finer, more giving community than the writing community, which is the heart and soul of this contest. (Thank you all!)

5. When you self-identify as a writer, what does that mean to you?

That I have accepted the dream that came wrapped in ink ribbons inside of me at my birth. That I will no longer let society, the illusion of normalcy, the fear of failing, or ridicule for following this inherent drive to write, rule me. I am a human filter for processing human experience, emotions, and any number of miracles, for writing down life as I see it through a simple poet’s eyes. That is what the term writer means to me.

How does it make you feel?

Like until I accepted myself as a writer, a small sun inside of me was draped in a blanket of pitch . . . but the moment I wrote my first query letter, that sun rose and blanket burned and I will never be cold again.

6. Next 3 books on your TBR pile, what liquid's in your cup, and what's playing on repeat!

Next three books on my leaning tower TBR pile:

1) Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

2) The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

3) No Place to Fall by (the incomparable) Jaye Robin Brown (aww, thank you!)


What Liquid’s in my cup: WATER, as always.

What’s playing on repeat: Why Georgia Why by my sweet, sweet love, John Mayer J

Jaye, this was a blast, thank you! <3




Saturday, November 1, 2014

Get to Know April Rose Carter - My 2014 PitchWars Alternate - Author of WINTER ON BRIMSTONE HILL

With my second year as a mentor in Pitchwars, I entered the contest excited and hopeful and curious, oh so curious, about which manuscripts would claw their way into my heart and not let go.

The two that I found couldn't be more different in tone and writing style, but what they share is a common language of finding personal truths, love, hope, and a slathering of bittersweet despair.

April Rose's manuscript, WINTER ON BRIMSTONE HILL, is this spare lovely gift of a contemporary manuscript. Centered around Sarah, a homesteading farm girl from a stubbornly poor family, she has to deal with not only her need to hide the family's lack, but also her father's alcoholism. When the bright flame of potty-mouthed, red-headed Bonnie enters her world, Sarah starts to change. And eventually she falls in love and finds the courage to stand up for not only who she is, but for what she believes in. The story is crushing at times, so, so sad. But the slow unspooling of the romance makes it achingly sweet, too. I can't wait for agents to see this one.

Author April Rose Carter
So without further ado, here is my little question and answer with the fabulous, talented, and smart April Rose Carter (who may just kill me for embarrassing her like that ;)).

1.              Give us the Twitter pitch for your Pitchwars manuscript (140 characters or less)!

Sarah values three things: farm life, family, and keeping her bruises hidden. That last one's easy - until she meets Bonnie. #YA #LGBT

2.              Stephanie Perkins does this cool thing for her books called a Love List, explained here: http://betweenfactandfiction.blogspot.com/2011/01/happy-writers-society-love-lists-by.html, what is the love list for your novel?

red hair
farm life
cold
wine lips
little sister
hope

3.              Name a handful of writers whose work inspires you, along with a short explanation of why!

Ouch. Can I just take John Robert Lennon’s words and hack them to pieces in a horrible paraphrased version of something he said much better? He said something to the effect of, ‘Why do I need to have other people inspire me? Why can’t my work be my own and that be enough?’ Yep. I definitely slaughtered that. So, I know that’s not how this question is intended, but it’s better than admitting that I experience something negatively emotional when reading other’s writing (while I’m writing).

I remember, while writing WINTER ON BRIMSTONE HILL, I read Rowell’s Eleanor and Park. The entire time, I kept thinking, “I can’t do this. I can’t write. She’s already used all the good words. Everyone’s going to think I just took her words and tried to write them as my own!” I didn’t write for about a week after that. Then, eventually, I realized I was silly and I picked up my novel again. I also picked up another novel and immediately had a similar reaction, despite the fact that this new novel was nothing like mine. I guess what I’m trying to say, as unattractive as it is, is that I never feel inspired by other writers’ works. I feel…insufficient.

I can ramble off a list of writers whose novels I love, though. Rainbow Rowell. John Green. Veronica Rossi. Charlotte Bronte. Charlotte Bronte. Charlotte Bronte. (Actually, I really only love Jane Eyre.)

4.              Why PitchWars?

Well, why not? Why wouldn’t I want to get up at four a.m. for weeks on end? Why wouldn’t I want to work through my lunch break each day? Spend countless hours writing and rewriting, fixing, tweaking, scratching out entire scenes? Why wouldn’t I want professional help turning my novel into something beautiful and barren and heartbreaking? Something that makes me want to climb the tallest barn, and shout out above the chickens and pigs, “I did this! I did this! I. Did. This!”?

So yeah. I don’t think I understand your question.

5.              When you self-identify as a writer, what does that mean to you? How does it make you feel?

I wish I had a better response to this. Let me attempt a comparison. I have a master’s degree in mathematics, yet I don’t identify as a mathematician. My specialty is statistics, yet I always feel like I’m lying when I call myself a statistician. Writing is similar. I write—I love to write—and when I’m willing to admit it, I think I’m pretty good at it. Yet I don’t feel like a writer. I always feel a little guilty, a little false, when I say I’m a writer…which is completely unwarranted, I know. Say you’re a writer! they say. Be proud of what you do! Use too many exclamation points in blog interviews! And I get that. I do. And I am. And I do! It’s just something’s holding me back, but I’m not sure what it is at this moment.

That’s how identifying as a writer makes me feel.

6.              Next 3 books on your TBR pile, what liquid's in your cup, and what's playing on repeat!

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Raven Boys #3) by M. Stiefvater
Shadow Scale (Seraphina #2) by Rachel Hartman
Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

I’m always drinking coffee. I had a rather…er…intense relationship with it a couple years back, the kind you have when you go away with your lover for your first weekend together and your hotel room is plush and outfitted with its own hot tub.  In other words, I drank two pots (as in 12-cup pots) a day. For the record, our relationship has simmered down to a comfortable 3 cups a day. We’re both happy with how our relationship has developed.

I can never get enough of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash’s The Girl from the North Country. Never. Something about that song grips my heart and leaves me breathless. I mean, listen to it!