Saturday, March 27, 2010

Success! ^_^


I believe I mentioned in one of my previous posts that I had entered my novel, Walking Shadow, in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, and that it had advanced to the second round. Wellll … as of March 23rd, it has now advanced to the third round! That's right––I am a quarterfinalist! That's the top 250 novels out of 5000! HOLY CRAP!

Several of my amazing, wonderful, and freakishly talented writer friends made it to the second round but not the third round. :( I love you, my ninjas. YOU SHOULD HAVE MADE IT TOO! GRRR! >:(

Anyway … So, a 5000 word excerpt of my book is now available on Kindle. You can download it for your Kindle, and if you don't have a Kindle you can easily download a Kindle application for your computer for free (which is basically just like reading it as a PDF, so you don't need to have a Kindle). My excerpt is free too. If you have an Amazon account, please leave a customer review! I want to know what you guys think. :] Thanks!


Amazon Breakthough Novel Award homepage

Walking Shadow - Excerpt
(UPDATE 2/12/11 - This link no longer worky. They took all the excerpts down––however you can still read the excerpt here and see the Publisher's Weekly review here.)

As for how my writing's going … Well, I haven't written much lately. Life has been hectic. I started yet another book––so that makes four at once. This one's called Sky-Fall and it basically involves warfare with giant robots. Fun fun. I'll figure out more of it later.

I've started writing again for the first time in, like, a week or two. So that's good. Write or Die is my hero. Best website ever. If you're a writer, I highly recommend that you check it out, because it really helps me get my writing done. Just be sure to copy/paste the work you do on it, or it'll disappear.

Write or Die

Oh! Another piece of exciting news: Karey Shane (aka KSR Kingsworth), author of Secret Speakers and the Search for Selador's Gate and a good friend of mine, randomly selected me to interview Cynthia Leitich Smith, author of Tantalize and Eternal. Squee! :) So, I will post a link to the interview when it's up on her website. I'm excited!

Alrighty, that's all I've got to say for today. :) Stay tuned!!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Rejection, Rejection, Rejection … (I was hoping that saying it a bunch of times would make it sound less scary. It didn't work.)

Hi there, people. As I mentioned in my last post, I am now going to dedicate an entire post to the idea of REJECTION! And don't run away screaming, because this is important. It's a tough topic, and everyone hates it. But all writers go through it, also––a lot of it. So I'm going to share my experience with rejection, and all my lovely thoughts on it.

So, I believe I mentioned in some post, from like a billion years ago, that some literary agent had requested my manuscript. REJECTED. Since then, another agent requested a partial of my manuscript. ALSO REJECTED.

Now, that's a good 40 or 50 rejections I have, by now. I don't know how "normal" that is. I think it varies for every writer. Some people are rejected 10 times, and some are rejected 100 or more times. You never know. Writing is a tricky business like that.

But whether you get rejected twice or a million billion times––if you are a writer, you're going to experience rejection. So, you have to have a thick skin. If you don't have one, get one. Rejection is hard, of course, but it's not an entirely bad thing. Now, I'm not saying I like rejection. It's not fun. It's very frustrating.

My first piece of advice: allow yourself to have those silly emotional breakdowns. I have one every two months or so. I think that, in a weird way, it's healthy to have those moments where you're like "OH MY GOD! WHAT IF I NEVER GET PUBLISHED? WHAT IF I NEVER BECOME AN AUTHOR? OR WHAT IF I ONLY BECOME AN AUTHOR AFTER I DIE?" I mean, every writer has those moments and it's perfectly fine. I find it sort of motivating, actually. So, when you've suffered rejection after rejection, you don't have to hold it all inside. Rant to somebody. And usually that person will assure you that you do not fail at life, and that you're going to be fine, and that someday you will be published (hopefully before you die). Yes, breakdowns are annoying and embarrassing, but at least, once you come out of them, you feel a little bit better about yourself, because you know you can take the rejection and keep going.

Secondly, don't take rejections personally. Believe it or not, literary agents are human beings too! They have those days when they wake up and think "You know what? I hate today." And maybe that means they're going to reject everyone who queries them that day. It could be that your book just doesn't fit with the agent's personal taste. Plus, these days, when the economy is so messed up, literary agents are especially reluctant to offer representation unless they're REALLY sure the book is going to sell.

Now, I'm reading this book called How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead by Ariel Gore. 'Tis a great book with a lot of good advice. One passage that especially caught my attention was one on rejection. If this doesn't make you feel better about rejection … I don't know what will:

"… Classics famously and repeatedly rejected: War and Peace, The Good Earth, Watership Down, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Fountainhead, To Kill a Mockingbird, Remembrance of Things Past, and Joy of Cooking. Doris Lessing was once rejected by her own publishers when she submitted a novel under a pseudonym. And, in early 2006, the Sunday Times of London took two Booker Prize-winning novels … and submitted them as works by aspiring authors. None of the agents or editors queried recognized the manuscripts as prizewinners … of the twenty-one replies, all but one were rejections. … All this to say that if you get a rejection slip, you're in pretty good company." (p. 187)

So, there you have it. Just because your book gets rejected doesn't mean that it sucks. It could be amazing prize-worthy material. You just have to wait for your lucky day. Because a lot of getting published has to do with luck. Yes, of course it helps to have an awesome query letter/synopsis/excerpt/etc. But like I said, literary agents have moods and such. So it depends on a lot of things that are beyond your control––which is aggravating, I know.

But the thing is, you gotta keep trying. Odds are, one out of the a million literary agents in the world is going to want to represent your novel. Just keep sending out those queries like there's no tomorrow. And keep revising your query, too; ask friends/family for feedback. In the meantime, try to get some recognition. Try publishing some short stories, or entering contests, or starting a blog (wooo!). That way you'll have more to brag about in your query letters. ;)

I strongly recommend checking out this website, Preditors & Editors, which has a great list of agents, publishers, contests, critique groups, etc. and notes on how reliable said agents/publishers/contests/critique groups are. (

Personally, I interpret all the rejections I've received as a wake-up call. After getting feedback from a couple agents, I've decided that my book isn't really ready for publishing and needs some revisions first. Maybe your manuscript has been rejected a gazillion times (more or less) and you're starting to feel the same way. No problem. This is another good thing about rejection. When you start off trying to get published, you're sort of in denial … like, "Okay, I am SO done with this book. I've already rewritten it ten times, so I'm just going to get it published and it will be out of the way forever!" Well, of course things can't be that convenient. The more your book gets rejected, and the more it sits around, the more you think about it. And the more you think about it, the more flaws you see in it. And you start thinking, "All right, maybe this means something. Maybe rewriting it a couple times wouldn't hurt …" It's not a good feeling. It's pretty overwhelming. But writing and editing and rewriting and begging for feedback––these are all the painful parts of being an author.

If you don't know where to start, there are a lot of great writing feedback websites you can try. Now, I've only just started using these sites, but they seem very helpful and organized to me, and P&E has them listed as recommended critique groups. So, check 'em out!


(This site has a lot of different sections. You can post any writing for feedback, chapter-by-chapter. People can leave feedback for different categories––general, plot, character development, etc. There's a section called PageToFame where people submit the first pages of their novels, then other members rate them, and literary agents look at the ones with the best ratings. You have to pay to submit––this is the ONLY section you have to pay for––but rating the pages is free. And fun. There's also a feature called AgentInbox that helps you put together a query letter, synopsis, excerpt, etc. Then it gives you agents who represent your genre and you can send your submission to agents right from the website. I've used it and it seems like a great feature. There are also groups and discussion forums on the site.)

Critters Workshop:

(This site is only for science fiction, fantasy, and horror. You can submit both short stories and manuscripts, and it sounds like submissions are supposed to get approximately 10 critiques or so. I haven't submitted anything yet, but I've read through the website and it has a ton of information. So, I won't go on a long rant describing the whole thing. I recommend checking out the website for more of a description, rules, guidelines, etc. Anyway, I'm impressed with its level of organization and I'm looking forward to using it.)

Critique Circle:

(Looks pretty similar to Critters, except it accepts all genres [except poetry]. Once again, it looks very organized. The website claims: "At present time there are 2,463 active members.
We have processed 48,260 stories and 220,558 critiques." Sounds good to me. I'm just waiting for my application thingie to be approved, and then I can say more about this one.)

Note: the best way to get feedback is to give feedback first. If you join any of these sites, it's important to give some other members some good, honest, and constructive feedback, and they will be likely to return the favor. :)

So, that is my advice for the day. Stop wallowing in your self-pity and go do something productive. ^_^


Well, hi. This is awkward.

So, I am aware that I haven't posted anything in, like, half a year. How embarrassing. But of course, I have a perfectly reasonable explanation. See, I was abducted by aliens. And then, when I finally convinced them to send me back home, they accidentally dropped me off in China. So, I had to swim across the Pacific Ocean, where I had to battle giant sea monsters. And when I finally got to the United States, I found that the country had been overtaken by zombies, so I had to kick some zombie butt on the way back home, which took up a lot of my time. Then I finally got back home, where there was a monster pile of homework waiting for me and it tried to eat me and then it killed me and I came back from the dead.

Okay, so none of that story is true, except the part about the homework-monster. But basically, I have been too busy with school and my job and my procrastination to update my blog. So, now I am back and I must be more dedicated now or everyone should come after me with torches and pitchforks.


Well … uh … rejection. Lots and lots of rejection. But I think I will dedicate an entire separate post just to that. More on that later. For now I'm just going to get y'all caught up on all the random stuff I'm doing.

Ahem. So, on a happier note: Since I last posted, I finished writing my sixth book, Walking Shadow. I wrote it during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which takes place in November). If you do not know what this fabulous event is, you should check out (well, if you're a writer and you also happen to be insane).

Walking Shadow is a fantasy that is basically about these two kids who have to make a journey through the Underworld, and there are demons and deals with the devil and Shakespeare references and all sorts of other wonderful things. I like to think of it as, like, Greek mythology meets Alice in Wonderland––but of course, with its own weird twists. For now, I still love this story, but knowing me I'll probably hate it in a month or two and feel like re-writing the whole thing. Oh well …

ANYWAY. As for my other projects:

First of all, I am writing Jump, sequel to my book Edge (which I finished writing last July) and second book in a trilogy (I hope … if I can get it all organized and everything). I won't go into much detail on this one, since, you know, it's a sequel and everything. Even if I explained the entire first book it wouldn't make much sense, since the plot's pretty unorganized and full of holes and I don't even understand it myself. I need to get working on piecing it all together. But, to explain it in a few words, it's this sci-fi/action thing about clones and mind-wiping and superpowers and stuff. It's gotten a lot more complicated than I intended and now I'm kind of going crazy with it … but, if I do a lot of rewriting and adding of stuff then I think it could be pretty cool.

Secondly, I am working on Unraveling. This one I'm probably the most excited about, mostly because I think it's going to be my first completed realistic fiction novel. … And I haven't made a real attempt at realistic fiction since I was 11––and THAT story accidentally morphed into this weird fantasy involving a talking stuffed pig. But I promise, no talking inanimate objects in this one. It's about this teenage girl going who goes back to her hometown two years after she moved away, and as she wanders around she reflects on life and her childhood, and most importantly on the events that led her to become enemies with the girl who was once her best friend. YAY! I was sort of inspired by Catcher in the Rye––coincidentally, I got the idea like an hour before I found out that J.D. Salinger had died (nooooooo!!!) so I guess I took that as some sort of sign. Haha. That, and I wanted to write something that everyone could relate to. Everyone has suffered through the ruin of a friendship, whether you or your friend moves away, or you get into some huge argument, or you just let it slip away, or you hated your friend all along … blah blah. And a lot of people have read it and been like "OMG this reminds me of my old friend who did such-and-such", so I guess it's working. Bwa haha.

Then, last of all, I started another story called Rage. I'm not really sure about the details on this one at the moment, since I only started it like three weeks ago. But anyway, it's this myth- and fairytale-inspired story about an isolated village under the control of a force that the people call the Monster, although no one has ever seen him. But whoever he is, he controls the weather and keeps them all trapped inside this place which is surrounded by demon-infested forests, plus he demands the sacrifice of a teenage girl every once in a while. The sacrifices have to go into the forest alone and no one knows what happens to them … dunh dunh dunnhhhh. Yeah, so I'm still planning/outlining this one and there's not much plot so far. But it's getting there.

Soooo other stuff I'm doing!

Well, I entered Walking Shadow in the Amazon Novel Breakthrough Award contest––which is this contest for unpublished and self-published novels, and the winner gets a $15,000 publishing deal with Penguin. So, woot woot! I made to the second round, which is the top 1000 novels out of about 5000, so that is pretty cool. I'll hear about the third round on March 23rd. *Scared*

I also got an account on WEbook, which is this pretty cool writing feedback site that I found. If you want to check out some of my writing you can do so here:

And of course, I am always on, doing my book reviews and posting writing. I have more stories posted here:

YAY!!! So that's what I did while I was dead. Very soon (like, within less than sixth months––haha) I plan to write an entire post on rejection, because I've been thinking about it a lot recently. Stay tuned … :)