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.