Friday, September 10, 2010

The Sounds of Revision

Revisions are hard work. Anyone who doesn't agree may need to get their head checked! I'm in the middle of revising my book, Parlor, and it's slow going. I've gotten to the point in about half of the chapters, where I've revised the stuff that just doesn't work out. That's the easy part! Now comes the hard, trying to make the words that remain better. I have trouble getting it to the sparkly point, but maybe I'm not alone.

This is where good critique partners come in. Each person reads a story a little different, offering small tidbits of amazing advice to push you to see your work in another way. I know both of my crit partners do an awesome job! Once they've read and given their notes, I go back to each chapter and revise again.

A few weeks ago, after my crit partners took their turn, I followed my usual steps. Read their notes, revised, read over the chapter and then fixed anything odd that didn't flow. I still felt like the chapter wasn't quite there, so I was a little down. I didn't know what it needed, but it was definitely not up to my standards for how much work I had put into it.

Normally, my husband doesn't read what I write until it's practically finished. I don't know why, but that's how it worked with my last book. I didn't let him see any of it until it was time for me to query. I had an idea recently and I can't even explain how helpful it was. I sent him the first chapter, asking him to just look over it and give his initial thoughts. I'm always nervous when he's reading something I've written, and this wasn't an exception. In fact, it was worse. I knew it wasn't very good, and like I said, he was used to reading my work in a pretty polished state.

I thought he would just tell me quickly what worked and what didn't, but he went above and beyond. We sat for three hours, breaking down each sentence. After about twenty minutes time, I was having trouble typing as quickly as he was talking, trying to get each little note down. Then we got the idea to record it! That's right, we audio taped the whole thing. It was amazing because I didn't miss a single thing we said and I was able to wait until Monday (we did this on a Saturday) to make changes based on our discussion. I could edit at my own speed and could just rewind when I needed to hear something a few times.

It was great because he reads enough YA to know what works, but also has a different viewpoint than myself or my crit partners. I would totally recommend talking through your work with someone and recording it for playback later. At least, if you can stomach having to listen to yourself talk for hours on end. Now THAT was harder than the revisions.

Monday, September 6, 2010

SWEET Giveaway Contest: The Great YA Bake Sale

YA author, Christine Johnson, (Claire de Lune) has organized one hell of a sweet tooth appeasing giveaway contest. Here's Christine with the details:

It’s here, it’s here - The Great YA Bake Sale of 2010!

It all started when I realized that YA authors seem to have one big thing in common - an obsession with sweets and baking.

That gave me an idea. I started calling (well - okay, emailing) around and ended up with more than a dozen kind, sugar-loving authors on board to bring you one amazing contest.

Here’s the deal:

To enter, simply leave a thoughtful comment on an author’s Bake Sale blog post, or tweet about the contest with the hashtag #YABakeSale10. Voila! You’re entered.

When you enter, you become eligible to win any one of the Personal Prize Packs (i.e. a comment on Saundra Mitchell’s blog may net you the Cyn Balog prize pack. You’re entering the whole contest, not just that particular author’s part of it.) You also become eligible to win the humongonormous Grand Prize Basket.

What’s in the Grand Prize Basket?

Each author has hand-written two copies of a favorite sweet-treat recipe. One copy has gone into a beautiful recipe book that is part of the Grand Prize Basket. In addition to the (hand-written! Did I mention that?) recipe collection, the Grand Prize winner will receive:

A signed copy of Cyn Balog’s SLEEPLESS
Bookmarks for KAT, INCORRIGIBLE by Stephanie Burgis
Signed bookmarks for THE CRESCENT and HALF MOON, pencils, and a crescent moon and crystal-studded star necklace from Jordan Deen
A (signed?) copy of THE BODY FINDER, a THE BODY FINDER tote bag, sticker and bookmarks from Kimberley Derting
An EVERLASTING-themed notebook, bookmark and pin from Angela Frazier
A signed copy of CLAIRE DE LUNE, signed stickers and a silver, moon-themed bookmark from Christine Johnson
A signed copy of SHADOWED SUMMER, matching chocolate candies, Twilight-themed heart candies, bookmarks and THE VESPERTINE dance card from Saundra Mitchell
A signed copy of THE PACE, by Shelena Shorts, along with bookmarks and THE PACE pencils
A signed hard-cover of SHADE and a Keeley Brothers pin from Jeri-Smith Ready
A signed copy of PERSONAL DEMONS, a PERSONAL DEMONS tank top, temporary tattoos, and bookmarks from Lisa Desrochers

But that’s not all!

Each author has one other handwritten recipe that will be part of each author’s own Personal Prize Pack.

The prize packs include:

Cyn Balog - Signed copy of SLEEPLESS and a handwritten recipe for Coconut Bread.
Stephanie Burgis - UK paperback copy of A MOST IMPROPER MAGICK and a hand written recipe for Apple Muffins
Kay Cassidy - Hand-written recipe and giveaways
Megan Crewe - Hand-written recipe and giveaways
Shannon Delaney - Hand-written recipe and giveaways
Jordan Deen - Basket with Pampered Chef baking gear and a recipe for Orange Pineapple Cake
Kimberley Derting - Signed copy of The Body Finder, stickers, a totebag, bookmarks and a recipe for Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
Lisa Desrochers - A copy of PERSONAL DEMONS and a recipe for Sunday Coffee Cupcakes
Angie Frazier - A signed hard-cover copy of EVERLASTING, bookmark, and a recipe for Butter Rum Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream Frosting
Judith Graves - Copy of UNDER MY SKIN, a character card, and a recipe for Dead Lady Fingers
Christine Johnson - A signed hard-cover copy of CLAIRE DE LUNE, stickers, a silver moon-themed bookmark and a recipe for Chocolate-Chip Butterscotch Blondies
Saundra Mitchell - Recipe and giveaways
Jennifer Murgia - ANGEL STAR swag, Octogram earrings, and a hand-written recipe
Shelena Shorts - Signed copy of THE BROKEN LAKE and bookmarks and a hand-written recipe
Jeri Smith-Ready - SHADE UK paperback edition and a recipe for Scottish Oat Scones

Fine print:
The contest entries must be posted by midnight eastern time on September 20th. This contest is open to the U.S., U.K. and Canada. Questions? Leave them in the comments or email me - christine(at)