Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Liebster Award Blog Hop!

Huge thanks to my lovely agency sister Betsy Aldredge (and by association, her fabulous writing partner, Carrie DuBois!) for tagging me in the Liebster Award blog hop! This is my first year participating, and I'm excited to give it a try.

Here goes!

1.      How do you motivate yourself to keep writing? Do you focus on word count goals or pages?

Mainly, my characters motivate me! When they're telling me their stories, I just feel this strong desire to put the words down on paper before I lose a thread or forget a great sentence. I hear their voices until the story's finished, and as I've always got some new idea simmering away, I want to get on to the next project!

I'm not sure I really focus on word count goals OR pages while I'm drafting (aside from having a rough word count goal in mind at the start), but if I had to choose between the two, I'd say word count!

2.      What’s your spirit animal?

Just a few days ago, I would've said a wolf or a phoenix. Or, you know, Taylor Swift. But that was before I met...Ninita, the baby Pygmy Marmoset! Ninita and I both love to cuddle, sleep, and brush our hair. What more is there to say?

3.      Is there any genre or type of book you’d love to write but are too intimidated to do so?

Well, I'd love to write a fantastic YA sci-fi, but I'm not sure I know enough about the sci-fi genre to dive in just yet. Fantasy and historical are the areas where I feel most comfortable.

4.      What’s the best piece of constructive criticism you’ve received?

Be careful not to put too many adjectives in a sentence. I usually aim for one per sentence now, because I'm just the wordiest girl ever (as if you haven't figured that out from reading these answers!). Having that goal in mind helps me not to ramble too much about gorgeous scenery or other descriptions.

5.      What author or book speaks to you the most and why?

I have so many answers for this. It's really hard to choose, so I'm going to pick three, okay? Okay. :)

The Harry Potter series is my first pick, because I feel like I grew up with Harry and his friends. They were so relatable that they've followed me through life, and whenever I'm having a hard time, I know I can go back to Hogwarts and feel like I'm among old friends.

Next is Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness quartet. This speaks to me because when I was young, and I first read The Lord of the Rings, I loved the settings and the dangers, but I couldn't picture myself on the adventure in the all-male Fellowship! Then one day, I discovered Tamora Pierce's work, and her heroine Alanna, who was everything I wanted to be in my own fantasy stories. She disguises herself as a man to become a knight, and she never backs down from her goal, no matter what challenge she faces.

Last, Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book has the distinction of being the only book to make me cry! To explain why would be a big spoiler--but basically, Gaiman did such an incredible job of creating characters who seem an unlikely makeshift family at first, and then as you get to know them, you realize just how much they all need each other.

6.      What’s your writing goal for 2015?

1) Finish a nonfiction picture book I've been working on

2) Revise a certain YA ghost story

3) Finish drafting and polishing my new YA high fantasy

7.      What’s your bad habit in terms of writing?

See above--I'm adjective-happy sometimes!

8.      What advice would you give a writer just starting to query?

First, remember that agents are really kind people, not intimidating gate-keepers. They're perfectly approachable, and of course, extremely knowledgeable about the book world! Next, do your research! Look up your prospective agent's sales, read interviews with him or her, see what sort of online presence they have--there are many things to take into account! Maybe having an agent with a strong social media presence is important to you, or maybe you aren't worried about that as long as the agent has a sales record with houses you respect. Personality is a huge factor in which agent you'll work best with as well, and (this should go without saying) it's crucial to know what genres/age ranges an agent represents.

*And--this is so important that it's getting its own section--make sure the book you're starting to query is really ready for agents! If several CPs and betas haven't given excellent feedback, I'd hold off on querying until you've revised and revised again.

9.      Who is your book boyfriend or girlfriend and why?

Can I have multiple book boyfriends? Pretty please?

Charlie Weasley from the Harry Potter series--he hangs out with dragons!

Four from the Divergent Trilogy--does this need an explanation? ;)

Touchstone/Torrigan from the Abhorsen series--he's everything I want in a prince!

10. What’s your best cure for writer’s block?

When I have writer's block, I usually do one of two things. First, I'll listen to music to see if that'll put me in the mood to write whatever scene I'm stuck on. Then, if that doesn't help, I might open my idea folder and work on something completely different--just to get words down and flowing again!

I've noticed that walking away from a tricky area in a story can work wonders, too; I'll go work around the house, or take a shower, and suddenly the answers will come to me when I least expect them!

And now, I'd like to tag my agency sister Rachel Pudelek and my critique partner Hilary Harwell to answer the questions above! Then they'll tag a few of their other writing friends.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Meet My Character: Bridey Corkill from FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP

Hi everyone,

The wonderful Eve Castellan tagged me to participate in the Meet My Character blog hop! Basically, I'll be answering 7 questions about my main character, then tagging another writer or two. And now, I'm excited to take this opportunity to introduce the main character from one of my novels, FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP.

1) What is the name of your character? Is she a fictional person or a historic person?

Bridey Reynylt Corkill is a fictional person starring in my YA Historical Fantasy novel, though the magical island on which her story takes place is quite real.

2) When and where is the story set?

FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP takes place in 1913, so just before The Great War (WWI). It's set on the Isle of Man, in the completely made-up town of Port Coire (a word meaning 'heart'). I've always pictured Port Coire as being smack dab in the middle of the real towns of Peel and Kirk Michael on the island's western shore.

The Isle of Man is an incredibly beautiful place that seems to have a magic of its own (though not quite like the magic in my story!). If you aren't familiar with the Isle, it's worth looking up!

Town of Niarbyl, Isle of Man

3) What should we know about your character? 

Bridey's been terrified of the ocean ever since she watched her grandad leap to his death and drown with a smile on his face. So naturally, at sixteen years old, it's her mission to get off the Isle and find somewhere higher and drier to spend her life. Of course, that's only until she rescues a handsome boy she calls Fynn, and realizes that something sinister in the water is threatening her town. Headstrong Bridey would never let anything happen to her family and her many sisters, even if it means facing down a creature from her nightmares. It probably goes without saying, but--she hates seafood! She also loves to read.

How I picture Bridey!

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up her life?
One summer evening, a girl's body washes ashore. She appears to have drowned, but Bridey, remembering her grandad's death, suspects something more sinister. No one's ever believed her about the strange thing she thought she glimpsed in the water the day he died, but the drowned girl is stirring up painful memories for everyone.
Soon after, people from Bridey's town start going missing. She could be next, or one of her sisters, if she can't prove to everyone that there's something lurking in the sea, an ancient evil that must be stopped. But it's going to be quite the battle for a girl who doesn't even know how to swim to stop a monster, or convince a town full of narrow-minded people that the killer among them isn't human.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?
I touched on this above, but basically: Bridey wants to stop the danger before anyone else from her town disappears, like her friends or her sisters--or her!
She also wants to travel the world, live someplace without a sea view, and settle down somewhere that has a massive library.

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP has always been this book's title! I posted a brief excerpt or two during WriteOnCon 2013, but for those who are curious...I'll just leave the first 500 or so words RIGHT HERE:

Chapter One

May 15th, 1913
Isle of Man, Near Peel

They found her body at dusk, washed up in a tide pool with a handful of sea urchins and a slender green starfish. As they lifted the girl, her dark hair wrapped around her neck like seaweed. Fat drops of salt water rolled off her body and kissed the cold sand. I shivered in sympathy, though of course she didn’t feel the bitter wind tugging at her gown. Her waxy skin appeared paler than the full moon that had risen earlier.
            Old Mister Gill pushed the girl’s hair back, revealing milky, grayish eyes. I couldn’t begin to guess their true color. Cradled in his arms, the girl looked like a nymph, or one of the mermaids my mam loved to paint. Not like a murder victim, or even someone desperate enough to have taken her own life.
A neighbor beside me released a shriek, sending a chill rippling down my back. Several other women sniffed. They reminded me of a flock of guillemots, the way they’d perched themselves on the lowest cliff overlooking the rocky shore. They shared handkerchiefs and made little hiccupping sounds. Spectators. Like me, I suppose.
Not one of them noticed me lingering where a girl of sixteen shouldn’t be.
Heads bowed in respect, Mister Gill and several fishermen carried the girl up the steep incline leading to town. Had she come from the other side of the island, or one of the smaller islands around us? I’d never seen her before, and in our close community, that was rare.
One of the women turned to follow the procession back to town, dabbing at her eyes with a scrap of linen. Her graying hair was pinned at the top of her head, and even in the pervasive air of sadness, she stood tall and proud.
Before I could consider hiding—a near impossible task on the barren cliffs—the woman’s shrewd brown eyes spotted me. Despite her age, my neighbor Missus Gill rarely missed a thing. Folk said she was as clever as Morag, the ancient sea-hag who lived on the swell of land above town. I thought she was just nosy, though I didn’t dare say it. Her husband had been the self-appointed leader of Port Coire for as long as I could remember.
Missus Gill broke from the procession and strode in my direction, frowning. “Bridey Corkill, this is hardly a sight for young eyes! Aren’t you supposed to be helping your mam put supper on, child?”
“I’m not a child,” I protested, though without any force behind the words. No one argued with Missus Gill unless they wanted everyone else to hear about it. “And she sent me to buy bacon from Mister Vondy.”
“Yet I see you’re sadly empty-handed.” Missus Gill eyed my windswept hair, and I resisted the urge to pat it down. “How’d you end up here, when the market is on the other side of town?”
“I followed the screams.” I glanced around. The crowd had almost dispersed, but a few curious souls—all young, fit men—scuttled down the cliffs by way of a narrow, winding path to the strand of beach flecked with tide pools.
The Gills’ nephew reached the bottom first. He stared into the pocket of salt water that had moments ago held the girl’s body, as though he might find answers bubbling to the surface simply because he willed them to appear. With the light fading, he wouldn’t be able to see anything in there for much longer.

And, lastly:
7) When can we expect the book to be published?
Someday soon is always the hope!

And now, I'm tagging my lovely agency sister Rachel Pudelek to join in the fun; she writes some fierce YA horror and fantasy, but lately she's been hard at work on a middle grade novel!