Sunday, September 19, 2010

Interview Series - Welcome CA Marshall!

While looking around on the blogging universe, sometimes we are lucky enough to happen upon a few lit business operatives that really help. Sometimes you happen upon a gem - whether it's an agent that is awesome with queries, a publisher with marketing advice or - in this case - an editor who knows a lot about a lot. 


My guest today is C.A. Marshall - a freelance editor, lit agent intern and YA writer. You can find her on her extremely helpful blog, or on Twitter


 First off, a little about who she is:
C.A. Marshall loves to play with her dog Mollie. She dreams of one day owning a small house near the water, preferably in England, with a shelf full of books she has written and has helped others to write.

Where does outside editing fit into the writing process?
Outside editing comes in when you've done all you can to make your MS as good as it can be. An editor can do something as simple as a quick copy edit or as exhaustive as a full edit for plot and pacing. A good editor will also let you know where your book stands in the current market and what you can do to give it the best chances. 

That's amazing, and certainly something we can all use! What specific services do you offer?
I specialize in copy and substantial edits, but I also do non-fiction proposal walk-throughs, synopsis editing, and offer free query help.

Favorite genre to read (professionally)?
YA. That goes for unprofessionally too.

Anything you don't represent?
No, I accept all sorts of novels.

Looking for specifics, contact information, rates or testimonials?

What about the market - are you seeing any kinds of trends in submissions?
Lots of memoir, romance, cop thrillers and still lots of paranormal YA. 

Can you recommend any saturated markets or plots to stay away from for right now?
Chick-lit, vampire/werewolf/angel/demon/Greek-themed YA.
Good to know! Any insight into what an agent might think when they happen upon yet another paranormal YA? Is there a market for them still, or are they getting rejected?
They're not auto-rejected, but it's very hard for them. There will always be room for superbly written stories, vampires or not.

For all of us query virgins and rookies - Mistakes to avoid?
Adressing your query to "Dear Sirs" when all of the employees are women. 

Haha! Oh no, that's rich. 

And finally, a little bit about C.A. Marshall, the person
Favorite book?
Gah... This is tough. Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix... One of those, probably.

Order of the Phoenix - my favorite!

Favorite movie or TV series?
Another hard one. I don't ever watch TV, but I do watch lots of movies. Jurassic Park, Fly Away Home, The Family Stone, The original Death at a Funeral, Disney's The Gnome Mobile... I'm eclectic. 

Do you have a working playlist? What’s on it?
Soundtracks. Pearl harbor (also a fav movie), Snow Falling On Cedars, Pride & Prejudice (2005), Fly Away Home, The Constant Gardener, Series of Unfortunate Events, Road to Perdition, Braveheart, House of Sand and Fog, Pan's Labyrinth, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Illusionist, Finding Neverland, Contact, The Time Machine, Whalerider, just loads and loads and loads! Also, anything by Lifehouse (my fav band), Owl City, And Kate Rusby.

What do you do when you’re not working?
Play with my dog, sleep, craft, and play Lego Harry Potter Wii!

Many, many thanks for stopping by and letting us inside your head a little! 

Also, if all of these services sound pretty amazing, I suggest you take a look at this link. Until today (Sept. 20th) she is running a contest on her blog to win a FREE MANUSCRIPT EDIT. For such an amazing prize, you should get on retweeting that contest like crazy. 

Leave some love for Cassandra for being amazing!

<3, Bethany

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Okay, For You New Kids - What I'm Doing

That's right folks! Double entries. Click the button for the Query Submission Contest where you can sign up to win some great prizes.

Thank you all so, so much for the emailed questions! I've been getting tons of support and questions both via email and via Facebook messages. It makes me feel really good to know that there are people who care. You're all great and make me know every single day that I'm not alone on this elusive track known as publishing.

So here are a few questions I want to clear up.

Q: Are you already published?
A: No, not at all! I'm aspiring for sure, and querying my first set of agents. Publication is much harder than just writing a book - there's a lot of post work involved. Publication could be years off for me, if it even happens for this book at all. It's likely this book won't be published. And if not, that's okay. You know? I love writing, and I'll keep doing it until the end of time even if everyone I know tells me to give it up. I love telling stories. If it's not this book, I'll write another and another until I'm strong enough in my writing and connections to make something happen for me.

Q: What happens after you write a book? (From a family member :) )
A: Basically, now that I have a product, I have to sell it. The first thing I have to "sell" is my idea - which is what the query is - a 4-5 paragraph essay telling agents who read THOUSANDS of these things why mine is the one they should represent. Sometimes they ask for a synopsis, or the blue print for my work. That's a 1-5 page detailed description of what my novel is about, beginning to end.
If I do get an agent, they'll pander my work out to publishing editors, who bid on my work. They edit it, give it back and tell me to fix it, and I do. After that... from what I understand... it goes into stuff about contracts etc.
So yes, I'm in that sending-out-my-first-batch-of-queries stage. Just my first batch. Which means I've barely grazed the surface of all this.

Q: What is your book about? 
A: Sigh. There it is, I've been called out.
So here's the problem with getting published. I can't write a query. For the life of me, I just can't do it. I keep getting the EXACT same feedback. But, for the sake of those of you that keep asking... this is generally what my book is about.
--- I have two main point of views that alternate throughout the chapters. The first, Evelyn, is a sarcastic and malevolent little gem. Cursed (gifted?) with the ability to not only hear, but to control the thoughts of others, she keeps to herself. She hails from a world filled with abuse, drugs and constant fear - so when she happens upon Chloe, the overly happy daughter of a controversial senator, she's intrigued. When she hears Chloe's cries for help from a mile away, she runs to her and puts herself in harm's way to save her from a vicious kidnapper.
Chloe, feeling lost and alone, clings to Evelyn - the last person in the world with the temperament to put up with her. Over a very short course of time, Evelyn comes to like Chloe and feels strangely protective of her. Together, the two find happiness in each other and the successes of life, achievement of goals and their own separate romances.
Kieran - the other point of view - is the 4th in line to a very powerful mafia family in the grip of a fierce power struggle. When events point the family at Evelyn, he is chosen to stalk to her to learn more about her power.
In the end, the two collide on separate missions. Kieran wants to protect Evelyn who willing puts herself in the path of the family to protect Chloe. Even with Kieran's influence and Evelyn's superhuman abilities, the two are wrapped up in a deadly game of power, deception and torture that could lead to both of their deaths.

See how longwinded all of that is? Sigh. That's why I can't write a query.

Q: So, what now? What are you doing?
A: I'm writing, of course. :) I've put Martyr aside for a little while so I can go back at it with fresh eyes prior to sending out another batch of queries to people I really, really want to represent me. I'm working hard on my query, and will post rewrites on here for you all to see and edit soon.

I'm also working on other books. I have 5 separate books in my "idea" folder. The one I'm focusing on the most right now is about two woman who take on a rouge dictator on a newly developed Mars colony. It's currently untitled, but it's plotted out completely.

Q: Can we see some of Martyr? 
A: Hmm... actually, yes. Not right now. But I'll probably post an excerpt sometime in the coming week -- probably when I post my first bad query letter. :)

Now - on top of all that - I have some GREAT interviews lined up for you!!

I have a literary editor, a self-published author, a photographer and a best-selling author gracing the page in the next month. Interviews you DON'T want to miss! The lovely Ebyss was gracious enough to be my first guest. You can find her interview here.

Much more to come!

<3, Bethany

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The First in the Interview Series - Please Welcome Ebyss!

Yes, yes. These are supposed to be on Mondays. But since this is a strange week, we're doing it on a Wednesday.

I'm very, very honored for my first guest to be the talented and lovely Ebyss - a woman I'm lucky enough to consider a friend. (Not to mention an AMAZING beta-reader!)

You can find her on Twitter , Facebook or on her Blog . She hosts her own author interviews and has quite a few big names and interesting women! She currently has an awesome novel, PERFECTION (pictured below) out in queries right now. I was lucky enough to beta this work, and you should all be very excited for the day it goes to publication. A VERY good read.

Now down to the dirty.

Alright, tell me about you:
I live with one husband, two male cats, and three boys. I'm surrounded by testosterone. I think it saturates my clothes. I have a daughter, but she is grown and laughs at me from her house.

Daughters are good for laughing. I do it to my own mom frequently. ^_^ 

First set of questions - The Writing Process 

When did you first decide that being a writer was the life for you?
It's kind of funny because I always wanted to write. I loved writing stories when I was a kid.
Then when I was twenty (I won't bother you with the details of how long ago that was) I thought about it again, but I never did. Didn't think I had the talent, then I had kids, then I had to work, then this and then that.
Then one day about five years ago, my daughter came to me and said this would make a cool story. It was about a boy, half dragon and half human, and I had agreed. My daughter is great, I would bounce ideas off her and she'd offer me suggestions.
And from their my first manuscript was born. It's dormant in a file now. But one day I plan on taking it out and fixing it. And boy... does it need a lot of fixin'.

So what is Perfection about? 
Based upon the concept of Aryan purity, Ellyssa is genetically engineered to be the perfect soldier: strong, intelligent, unemotional, and telepathic.  Her purpose?  To eradicate inferior beings.  A task she's spent her whole life training for under the strict guidance of her creator.

Then she encounters the epitome of inferiority--a dark-haired renegade.  He speaks to her by pushing his thoughts of a place she's never visited into her mind.  An inconceivable possibility since she is the one who usually does the psychic picking.  Not only that, but he's clearly not from her society.  A substandard person who should not possess such an extraordinary gift.

Yet he does and his unspoken words initiate a catalyst.  Ellyssa finds herself questioning her indoctrination and, even worse, feeling emotions.  Confused and afraid her creator will discover her mental breakdown, Ellyssa runs away from her life and embarks on a journey that leads to the realization there is more to her than what she was bred to be. 

Unfortunately, her creator has other plans.

I'm super jealous of your ability to write a good query. What else are you working on?

Right now, I'm working on two projects.
The first is the sequel to PERFECTION.
The other I have decided to take a fairytale and modernize it. It's a well known fairytale, but hasn't been brought into the here and now. Well, at least that I know of. I thought that would be a fun project.

Do you draw inspiration from real life? Where do the ideas come from?
I've asked authors and writers this, and it is really a hard question to answer. You, Beth, kind of gave me the spark for PERFECTION. ^_^
As far as drawing from real life. Yes, I think I do, at least for my characters. I try to think how people would act in a certain type of situation, then base my reactions and dialogue from there.

Always glad to help! On your writing projects - how much of it was writing and how much of it was editing?

My first one, KRELIS, took a year and a half. I edited it for about a year. Always trying to fix it, always trying to make it better, always trying to follow every rule. I edited so much I wrote my voice right out of it, along with all the essentials of a good story.
I learned a lot from KRELIS.
DARK ABYSS--From conception of idea to being finished, about a year. Editing took about three months.
PERFECTION--started last summer, put away, started again in December of '09, finished in beginning of April, and had it edited by the beginning of June. But I still make changes to it here and there. Just a couple of weeks ago, I made a small rewrite of the first page based on a suggestion from a friend.
Long ago, I have come to the conclusion that whatever you write, it will never be perfect. There will always be a sentence that could be phrased better, or maybe a better word. By the time I finish with the first draft of a manuscript, I climb aboard the perpetual Ferris-wheel of rewrites.

Anyone involved in creative writing can definitely relate to that. We aim for perfection (aye! no pun intended), but what we end up with is something everyone else thinks is great, and we think isn't done yet!

What’s your favorite genre to write?
I write young adult. But as far the genre from there, I don't have one. So far I have written a fantasy, a paranormal romance, a dystopian, and as I said, I'm working a fairytale.

What about to read?
That is easy..horror, fantasy, dystopian, paranormal, some sci-fi. Young adult and adult. The list goes on and on and on.

Alright, hard question - which one of your characters do you most relate to?
I'd have to say they all have a little bit of me in there. Maybe not much, nothing more than a shimmer, but I'm in there. So it's a little hard for me to say I can relate to just one.

Please, please can we have an excerpt from Perfection? Can you give us a favorite line?
Oh.. I have two.. can I share two. I'm going to share two. And actually they aren't lines but passages of dialogue. Can I do that? Well if not, then you can just delete them. I would never censor you!
“That is not true.” He gathered her hands in his and kissed her fingers. “Why did you leave The Center? Why did you come here? Look at all you have experienced--how much you’ve grown. Sorrow, compassion, friendship, betrayal, loneliness, loss, acceptance, and happiness." He paused and cupped her cheek. "I’ve seen you truly happy. Smiling. Laughing.”

“It is true I have never loved,” she said. “I have nothing to compare it to. But how did I know the feeling I had at Jordan’s death was loss, or that sadness was sadness, or betrayal, betrayal? My life, sheltered as it was, oblivious to the wonderful things life has to offer, family and friends, a sense of truly belonging. Never feeling, only surviving, fighting. I felt these reactions, my body responded. I have laughed. I have cried.” She brushed her lips against his. “Because of you, I love.”

Last Part - A little about Ebyss, the person.
Favorite book: My all time favorite book is MISERY by Stephen King. When crazy Annie Wilkes hobbled the author, I experienced sympathy pains. I'd have to say that this was probably the only book turned to movie that I absolutely love too.
Favorite movie or TV series: Big Bang Theory and Vampire Diaries
Do you have a writing playlist? What’s on it? For PERFECTION: Hope by Apocalyptica, Dance Inside by All American Rejects, Just a Girl by No Doubt Just to name a few.
What do you do when you’re not writing? Complain that I'm not writing. Or I might be at work--still complaining (even if its internally) that I'm not writing. Oh... I do this too, I'm thinking about all the stuff that I could be writing.

And that, all you lucky people, is a journey inside the mind of one of tomorrow's best sellers. :) Hope you enjoy, and I have some more great guests lined up for you in the coming weeks! 

 Tons of <3, Bethany

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Query Submission Contest!!

Now that I'm on that last leg, it's time to do some networking.

Drawing at 4PM CST Oct 8th -- That's today!!

Rules: To enter, just post a comment on this post. Then tada, you're entered! Or you can email me if you'd rather. Gain more entries by throwing my name about the internet shamelessly. Blog me, Tweet me, Facebook me - basically link me all over the place. It's that easy. You get bonus entries for already supporting me via various channels, and a very lucky few get a whopping 10 bonus entries for volunteering as beta readers.

The Prize:
1) A full manuscript edit. The entire thing, whether 70,000 words or 140,000. If it's good, I have a couple more volunteers for you as well. Not a writer? You can gift this out to anyone!
2) A permanent link and bio on my blog. Creative minds get a personalized interview linked to it. 
3) A $25 gift card to use on whatever you want.

As for contest entries --- simply comment on this thread so I know you are entered!! Here's how the point system spreads out:

Blog about this contest - 5 entries
Tweet or share this contest to Facebook - 2 entries (for each post!)
Already subscribe to my blog - 5 entries
Already follow me on Facebook or Twitter - 3 entries
Become a new subscriber to any of the above channels - 1 entry
Commenting on a post - 1 entry
Refer someone to the blog - 3 entries.
WERE YOU REFERRED? Click the contact me tab at the top of the page. Send me a message with the name of the person who referred you. Win them 3 entries!
Commenting on a blog with the below picture at the top - 2 entries.

It really is that easy. Just tell me on this post that you're entering, and I'll keep tally of your blog contributions - you keep me updating on your sharing posts. On October 9th, your names will all get one slip of paper per entry - and (yes, I'm serious) I'll draw one name out of a hat!

So win the easiest manuscript review and $25 dollars of your life, and spread this contest around.

<3, Bethany

Sigh. Overwhelmed.

After 6 months of writing, and another 7 months of editing, my querying process has begun.

So where does that leave me? Botching attempt after attempt at writing an acceptable query.

It's overwhelming frustrating. I keep getting the EXACT SAME feedback: "If this were on a back of a book, I'd never pick it up." --- Which is supremely disappointing after hearing them rave about  how much they like what they've read of my chapters.

So what do I do?

Give up. 
Yell loudly.
Throw things.
Keep rewriting until I get it right.

I've got my edits done, and I'm rereading through for content right now, noting things of interest. I want to go from: "Hey, your book's great but this proposal sucks." to "Hey, this is awesome. Can I read more?"

On top of all that, I'm starting a contest soon. I'm also going to be advancing the blog. I'm going to start a series of writing process guest posts and interviews - to give people like me a place to refer to for advice and struggles of the writing process. I think more than anything, it's important to know that we are not the first people to face these issues - and that we are literally thousands strong all over the country.

I guess maybe I'm just feeling a little overwhelmed. I need to get this query done. Why is it so hard?

Nevermind --- I already know. Because it's worth it. Dreams don't come easy. You have to fight like hell for them.

So that's what I'll do.

More to come.

<3, Bethany

Friday, September 3, 2010

Reviews for Martyr so far...

Just a compilation of written reviews that make me really happy. 

"You mix action with exposition in an engaging way"

"Dark, egdy, very well written... It's a great piece, truly, one of the best I've come across lately... I'd very much like to see more."

"I was hooked from the beginning and my interest was held throughout the story."

"This is brilliant manipulation of multiple views."

"Looks like you have something special here, Bethany. Your easy style of writing holds your readers’ interest. You are a talented writer."

"This is a very interesting and vivid story."

"Please keep on writing more things just like this!!!"

"I think it has a freshness to it, a new twist on some familiar elements."

"I found this compelling and I wasn't expecting it."

"Awesome. Really, first rate work."

"I am enjoying this immensely. The writing is very good, the flow of narrative and dialogue is realistic and the characters are well rounded and likeable. The story line is intriguing, ... I am impressed by this story and can't wait to read more!"

Want to see what everyone else is seeing, or pull me down a notch (hehe)? Send me an email and let me know you want to read the first 3 chapters!

Happy weekend. 

<3, Bethany