What is the 777 Challenge? Well, it’s when a writer is challenged by another writer to post the seven lines of text, seven lines down on the seventh page of their work-in-progress. Fun, huh?
Let’s Do This!! Here’s the 7 (*cough* 8 to finish the thought) lines of text on the 7th page, 7 lines down…
“Just don’t keep stuff like that from me, okay? I don’t care if it’s finals week. I want to know.” She takes a sip of her soda. “Does mom know?”
I burst out laughing.
She smiles. “Yeah, okay. Stupid question.” She gives me a suspicious look. “Now I know why you won’t go.”
“Dave. You want to stay here so you can spend the summer together.” She gets that romantic glint in her eyes like when she watched the couple feeding each other earlier.
I put her out of her misery. “We broke up three and a half months ago and something tells me his girlfriend would have a problem with me spending the summer with him.”
That was fun! So I’m supposed to tag people, but basically whoever reads this feel free to share!!
Have a great weekend and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!
Welcome to the Meet My Character Blogfest where you get to learn a little about Callie, the main character from my manuscript DARE YOU TO MOVE.
Huge thanks to my friend and YA author Melanie Hooyenga. She nominated me for this fun blog series and she has an awesome book, if you’re into awesome things. You can find the latest in her FLICKER series FRACTURE here, and you can meet her main character, Biz here!
Here’s a little about DARE YOU TO MOVE before we get into meeting Callie.
Callie can’t dance.
Not the waltz, not a shuffle, not even a jig. This wouldn’t be a problem if she had just been left alone for the summer. But instead of basking in the sun and lifeguarding at the city pool, Callie’s sister drags her to Lake Sherman Ballroom Dance Academy. Callie thinks she’s going to camp to hang out with her sister, fill her stomach with s’mores, and maybe learn a move or two.
But she’s wrong.
Her sister conveniently forgot to tell her that Callie has to participate in the camp’s dance competition. In the spirit of sisterhood, Callie reluctantly embraces the idea and stays. But just when she thinks she’s got the hang of this dancing thing, her partner gets kicked out of camp, forcing her to re-learn the complicated moves with someone new. And as if the dance gods were cursing her for lying, that someone new happens to be one of the instructors, Tucker–the same guy who treated her like smooshed marshmallow on the bottom of his shoe the day they met.
As the summer days tick away, Callie learns that dance camp is more like dance hell and she wants out. But when her sister injures her foot and can’t compete for the coveted grand prize, Callie has to rise to the challenge. There’s just one misstep, in order to win she has to put her trust in Tucker, who despite her disdain for, she’s developed an unhealthy crush on. With fierce competition and other dancers threatening to expose her secrets, winning isn’t going to be easy.
1) What is the name of your character?
2) Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
She is fictional. Although, she’d be kind of fun to have around ;o)
3) When and where is the story set?
It’s set at a ballroom dance camp near Charlotte, North Carolina.
4) What should we know about him/her?
Hmm, well she daydreams a lot. She’s kind of anti-romance and most importantly, she can’t dance. Which makes going to dance camp a bit… awkward.
5) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
Her sister dragged her to dance camp for the summer. When her sister gets injured, Callie is the one hope her sister has to win the grand prize. She also falls in love with her instructor. Whoops.
6) What is the personal goal of the character?
To step out of her sister’s shadow and overcome a hideous 4th grade dance debacle. Find herself.
And now for a sneak peek at DARE YOU TO MOVE:
I swim back to the beach and grab my clothes, rushing to put them on. I stick my foot into the right hole of my thong, but my ancient toe ring I put on so no one would look at my mangled toe polish gets caught on a loose piece of lace. “Shit.” I try jerking my foot away and tear more of my thong. I’m bent over, my foot arched into the cloth, hopping on one foot, and that’s when he decides to swim toward the beach. “Stop. Don’t look!”
He spins around to the woods. “How long does it take you to put your clothes on?”
I try to twist the ring off my toe but it’s as if it’s glued on. “I’m just having a… wardrobe malfunction.” And dying a little on the inside.
He laughs again.
“I can help,” he says completely out of character. Where’s the stoic, stiff dance instructor?
“Just… I only need a second. If I could just…” I yank at the silver ring one last time and it pops up and hits me in the eye. “For the love of—seriously?”
How did I really think this would go?
I’d walk up to the beach, my body shimmering in the moonlight. My hair would be wet and sexy like girls’ hair in the movies.
“You can turn around,” I’d say.
He’d turn around, swim up to the shore, stand in all his naked glory, and we’d make-out for like
ten minutes, a half hour.
“I’m turning around,” he says.
Here are the awesome authors who offered to join in the fun next week!!
1. Rae Chang is an assistant for author, blogger, and contest queen Brenda Drake; She interviews agents, critique queries, assists in running the contests, and mentors writers as a Pitch Wars mentor.
When she’s not doing that, she’s a writer, freelance editor, composer, food blogger, nerd, cooking instructor, youth mentor, and school speaker.
Rae Chang — Assistant to Brenda Drake
Contributor @ brenda-drake.com
2. Brianna Shrum is from Colorado, where she lives with her husband, two little boys, and two awesome hound dogs. She is represented by the fabulous Bree Ogden of D4EO Literary, and her debut novel, NEVER NEVER, is coming out in September of 2015 from Spencer Hill Press. Website: briannashrum.com Twitter: @briannashrum
3. Carey Torgesen is a teacher, mom, and a writer of kisses–mostly the Women’s Fiction and YA Contemporary kind. She lives outside of Seattle with her daughter and two kitty children. Her book, THE PRINCESS PARADOX, will be out this December. She is currently querying a YA Little Mermaid retell called SPEECHLESS, and working on new shiny Women’s Fiction WIPs.
4. L.L. McKinney
It’s Pitch Wars! WHOOO!!! This year I’ll be taking YA only!
It’s that time again where Brenda Drake and crew fill our email boxes with amazing words. I had so much fun with my mentees last year. They were amazing and I got to have kind of a two-in-one deal. I chose their MS because it was the one that haunted me, the one that if I didn’t pick it, I would regret it. It had me so captivated. And you know what? I had no idea I wanted it until I saw it. It wasn’t in a sub-genre that I was particularly looking for. It’s SO hard to know what you want until you see it. So just because a mentor says what they want, does NOT mean that if you don’t fit that taste mold that they won’t love yours.
So a little about me. I’ve been writing for over 8 years in total–3 years in pursuit of publication. My writing is represented by the amazing Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis (check out the new website!). I began in publishing as an intern for the incredible Louise Fury of The Bent Agency. Louise taught me (and continues to teach me) a lot of what I know about the industry and writing/editing. I was also an associate editor at Entangled Publishing where I had the opportunity to work with some amazing authors and edit with the talented Liz Pelletier and Stacy Abrams. I’ve learned a lot over the years about publishing, queries, voice, and most recently, story structure that I’m eager to share with my mentee(s). I’m a blog contributor for the YA Misfits and All the Write Notes. I love Lions and University of Michigan football, alternative music, going to concerts, singing, reading, good movies, and playing my guitar (when I can). I’m starting to think my spirit animal is a sloth. And I’m okay with that.
Now for the fun stuff.
I was asked a few questions on twitter. So here are my answers. I like chips over chocolate. I’m definitely #TeamLogan and #TeamPacey. I like character-driven stories over plot-driven. I think that covers the questions I received. Keep ’em coming!
What I’d love to see… in the YA category
This is always the hardest part for me. The truth is… I don’t know. I know what my tastes are like. I love YA contemporaries, lyrical writing like Maggie Stiefvater. I love stories about football, music, love interests who antagonize each other then fall for each other. Specifically, DIVERSITY – Multicultural, LGBT, disabilities – physical or mental (I have a few myself), whatever you got. There has to be TENSION and STAKES, CONFLICT. There needs to be a romance. I’d like to say I can hang with any story even without some type of romance but I’d be lying. I need it. YA needs it. Don’t scrimp on that. That doesn’t mean have them kiss on page 14. Have them almost kiss a few times then kiss somewhere around 60% or so, then tear them apart [insert evil laugh]. I want to stay up late reading your story. Torture me. Make me angry at you for not giving me what I want right away. Make me CARE about your characters. MAKE ME LAUGH. I love laughing so if your MC is funny AND has emotional baggage that’s a total win for me. Please no verse or lots of world building. And keep the info dumps in those beautiful brains of yours. Nothing really scares me off except people eating people. Horror – yes, Thriller- yes. Fantasy – yes, Sci-Fi – yes. I do love Dystopian but agents are shying away from it right now, so… unless it breaks the mold completely, I would submit something else. Same for paranormal romance. As I say every year, GREAT WRITING trumps anything I write in this bio.
What do we want?! VOICE. When do we want it?! ALWAYS!
My ideal love interest – Stiles Stilinski from Teen Wolf (if you’re not watching it, you’re missing out) – Why do I love him? Stiles is goofy, funny, sweet, loyal, smart. He’s kind of the whole package, folks. He makes you love him. Also, throw in some Mr. Darcy and you’ve got a dangerous combo.
My mentoring style
I’m pretty blunt when it comes to editing. I will say exactly what I think is missing and what I believe will help, even if it’s something that seems ridiculous (like changing your love interest – it happened, ask Linda). This does not mean you need to change anything. Feel free to tell me no. If I strongly believe something will help your story, I will push you to try to think differently. That’s our role–to guide you through this process. Many have pushed me to explore other opportunities in my stories. Sometimes I listened, sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes I was wrong and ended up changing it later. I will mostly point out big picture stuff; motivations, plot holes, structure issues, character arcs. As I say every year I do Pitch Wars, this will be a partnership. I want to work with you to make your story the best it can be.
QUERIES – Read your query and pages out loud. Read it as a reader would on the back of the book. Would you want to read your story? What is it about your story that you like best? Use that.
- Make sure to infuse your voice in your query (as hard as that is), that is what makes them stand out.
- White space is your friend. Push that return button to emphasize an important line or phrase.
- Pay attention to the structure. Don’t forget to tell us what will happen if the MC doesn’t reach their goal! Less is more.
- The only purpose of a query is to get us to READ MORE. That’s it. It’s a sales pitch for your book. You don’t need the kitchen sink.
PAGES – Your first line should introduce your voice as well as the tone of the MS. Make sure you snag us right away. Don’t bog us down in description and info dumps; it’s okay if we don’t know your MC yet, we shouldn’t! Just make them interesting and unique enough that we keep reading.
- Pay attention to the rhythm of the words too. Do they flow? Are there any awkward phrases? Look for sentences that are trying too hard, or repeat the same thing as the line before (I do this a lot).
- Check your dialogue. Does it sound authentic? Do they sound like real people/creatures/robots etc.? Read the lines out loud too.
- Make sure the actions you write are really possible. If you have your MC performing some crazy, flip-turn combo, make sure it’s something they can realistically do–in your world, of course.
- Most of all, don’t censor yourself or think about someone reading it yet. That’s where a lot of writers get hung up. Just let your voice shine.
That’s all I got for now, feel free to find me on twitter @ericamchapman if you have anything specific to ask. I’m thrilled to join the Pitch Wars team for the third time! Be sure to check out the awesome agents and my amazing fellow mentors to see what they’re looking for! GOOD LUCK!!!
For submission guidelines, please go to www.brenda-drake.com!
Stay cool, rockers!
For this bloghop I’m going to answer a few questions and then tag three of my friends to do the same! Fun, right? Here we go!!
What am I working on?
Currently, I’m revising my WIP. It’s about a dance summer camp with a girl who can’t dance. I’ve also started writing on a new idea! Love that feeling! I’ve got a lot of WIPs needing revision too. There’s never a shortage ;o)
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
It’s hard to differentiate your writing from others, but my voice, I believe, is what makes my work unique. I like to mix up writing styles, pairing lyrical phrases with short staccato sentences. I also love to infuse humor into scenes, even the most dramatic and heart-wrenching ones. They can get heavy without something to break the tension.
Why do I write what I do?
I write YA because that’s what I love to read. That’s how I started writing it. I read a few books in the genre and fell in love. It happens to be where my voice fits the best too. There’s something special about that time in life, the discoveries and firsts. I love to capture the emotion of those moments. I couldn’t imagine writing in any other genre.
How does my writing process work?
I like to think of it as the perfect storm. It’s chaotic and at any moment subject to change. Sometimes just as I’m about to go to bed I get the best words and they often end up being words that never change in an MS. Sometimes I forgo things I know I shouldn’t (like sleep) and get the words I need. For me, it’s all about emotion and the moment. I’m a pantser, but I usually have an idea of where it’s going. Music is a big part of my process too. It’s inspiring to hear a song and then see a scene in my head that’s perfect. I just need to make sure I have something to write or type with nearby!
Who’s up next? TAG! You’re it!
Jaime spends her days chasing her two young children, and her nights writing. She lives in Adelaide, South Australia, but dreams of returning to her small hometown where she can give her children the same upbringing she had: exploring bushland, playing every sport under the sun, riding horses, and waking to the sight of kangaroos outside. WAITING FOR APRIL is Jaime’s debut novel (coming 2015). You can find her on her blog or twitter.
Brenda Drake the youngest of three children, grew up an Air Force brat and the continual new kid at school until her family settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Brenda’s fondest memories growing up is of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write young adult and middle grade novels with a bend toward the fantastical.
When Brenda’s not writing or doing the social media thing, she’s haunting libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops or reading someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment). Brenda writes young adult and middle grade novels. She’s represented by Peter Knapp with Park Literary. Look for her young adult novel, LIBRARY JUMPERS, coming 2015. You can find her on her website or twitter.
Jenny was born and raised near Cleveland, Jenny earned her degree in photojournalism from Kent State University before vowing to never spend another winter in Ohio and moving to Los Angeles, where there is far too much sunshine. Amid working as a grant writer a non-profit that teaches music in inner-city neighborhoods, and raising two kids, Jenny writes for young adults. She likes her heroines smart and quirky, her heroes nice, and her kisses sweet. Apart from writing, Jenny is still an avid photographer, loves music despite no discernible musical talent, and reads the dictionary for fun. She (still) lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son and daughter. Her debut, THE ART OF FALLING (Bloomsbury Spark), is available now. You can find her on her website or twitter.
So. I’ve been thinking… I know, I know. But, Er, these blog posts are always long when you think! Maybe, but I’m working on a revision for my new MS and I was thinking about motivation and the WHY of revision.
So you’re bounding along in your first draft. It’s great. You’re getting words. You have a sort-of plot (if you’re a pantser, if you’re not, you’ve got a well-thought-out plot) either way, you’ve got some semblance of a story going. You step back for a while. A couple weeks, a month–whatever your marinating time, and come back. THIS is the time to ask WHY.
Why did I write this story?
Why is my MC doing what she’s doing?
Why does the reader want to read this?
Why is my MC perfect for this story?
So I started asking myself WHY when it came to my current WIP and you know what? I didn’t know the answers right away. So I discovered that I needed to bring out more to make it believable, bring out the essence of this particular MC. I keep trying to capture what I had in my last MS but this isn’t the same story or the same characters. So I’ve been asking myself why I chose to write this one. Why did I choose to make the MC how she is? It may seem obvious to do, but it wasn’t to me.
Sometimes I think we get SO into a story that we forget to ask why. No matter what, our characters need to have reasons for doing what they’re doing and it’s our job to make them believable.
So that’s what I’m doing. I’m taking a step back and I’m going to make sure this MC is the right MC for the job, and that this story and its characters are believable. I’m not just going to put words on a page because that’s what you do after a first draft. I’m going to make sure they mean something, ’cause I care about every one of those words and who may possibly read them. That’s what asking why is about. It’s about making sure your words tell your story the way you wanted, and about making readers feel what you felt when you put them on the page.
So ask why. It may be the most important thing you can do during a revision.
What about you? Do you always ask WHY when you revise?
Have a great rest of the week, rockers!