revise and return

Working on my R&R. Took a little over a week to process the suggestions. I used the time to be scared. I was afraid by making the edits my MC voice would change. I was afraid the agent would believe I could just write stories without looping around and repeating myself (MC does this- I hear her this way and apparently like to loop around and repeat myself on the page) I was terrified that I wasn’t good enough and I’d lose the MC voice while simultaneously wanting to try.

I wrote the best book I could. I love it. Really admire my MC, her journey. I can’t believe I came up with the imagery, dediated myself for years on crafting the story without pay, or anyone telling me to write. My ass was in a chair every day working. If not for my friendships with Nicole Garcia, Vanitha Sankaran and Lorin Oberweger I’d be too solitary to create anything worthwhile. I went to workshops, beta readers generously gave me their time and attention. I improved what I loved based on their feedback. Yet, it still isn’t enough…yet.

I recognize the gift the R&R is. I cried. Her notes are in opposition to another agents feedback. (subjective business) But they are concrete. They are doable. I’m gonna do this.

I began making changes. Moving through my resistance. I rearranged chapters amplifying the MC motivation- cutting lots in order to crank up the tension. I am desperately trying to cut passive voice. (curse you passive voice!)

Moving chapters is brutal. Dialogue must be completely rewritten because cause and effect changed. I’m taking my time with these edits. Becasue they may just be the magic pill that helps Dear Dead Drunk Girl get into the hands of readers.

Or I can do all this and the agent may still say, “No.”

And that’ll make me cry- but you know what? I’m a badass mother-f—er and I’m gonna fight the good fight. And I’m going to revise this book and you’re gonna love it!

Vultures #spirit #totem

Over the past few days I’ve encountered turkey vultures circling overhead. Their smooth flying shadows darkening the ground near me. One flew so low I heard it’s feathers brush against the leaves of nearby tree. They didn’t make a single pass, but instead flew around me for minutes on end. I told them I wasn’t dead yet. They found me amusing.

Don’t be surprised when they make an appearance as messengers in my next book.

when I looked up the spiritual aspects of the turkey vulture I found this:

If Vulture has flown across your path;
Vulture is asking you to be patient with yourself and think things through. Take your time before making decisions and choose paths that support your higher consciousness and your heart. Use all of your resources combined with your past experience to approach the problem from a different angle. Know that you are always free to choose your own path but be flexible while moving forward. Allow yourself to use all of your senses to navigate through this situation for your highest benefit. Call on all your resources to get the job done. Alternatively this bird recognizes that you are fiercely protective of those you feel responsible for but you are reminded that knowing when to allow others to sink or swim is important too. Recognize the need for higher awareness in all those around you.

resource: http://www.spirit-animals.com/vulture/

Cover Reveal for CATALYST and Giveaway!

COVER REVEAL FOR CATALYST With $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD GIVEAWAY!

Clean Teen Publishing is proud to present the official cover reveal for CATALYST by Kristin Smith.  

This is the first book in the thrilling new Deception Games series coming November 21, 2016!


Title: Catalyst (The Deception Game, Book One)
Author: Kristin Smith
Release Date: November 21, 2016
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Genre: YA near-future thriller
Book Synopsis:

Too pretty.

Too smart.

Too perfect.

In a crumbling, futuristic Las Vegas where the wealthy choose the characteristics of their children like ordering off a drive-thru menu, seventeen-year-old Sienna Preston doesn’t fit in. As a normal girl surrounded by genetically modified teens, all of her imperfections are on display. But after the death of her father, everything she’s ever known and loved changes in an instant.
With little skills to help provide for her family, Sienna clings to the two things that come easily—lying and stealing. But not all thief-for-hire assignments go as planned. When a covert exchange of a stolen computer chip is intercepted, she becomes entangled with a corrupt government official who uses her thieving past as leverage, her mother as collateral, and the genetically modified poster boy she’s falling for as bait.
In order to rescue her mother, there may only be one option—joining forces with the Fringe, an extremist group, and their young leader who’s too hot to be bad. Problem is, these revolutionaries aren’t what they seem, and the secrets they’re hiding could be more dangerous than Sienna is prepared for. In the end, she must be willing to risk everything to save the one thing that matters most.

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Enter to WIN a $25 AMAZON Gift Card! 

About the Author:
Kristin Smith writes young adult contemporary and science fiction novels with enough kissing to make her mother blush. She’s a beach lover and a Just Dance guru who enjoys belting out karaoke (from the comfort of her own home). As a self-professed chocoholic, Kristin is a firm believer that if a dessert doesn’t have chocolate in it, then it’s not considered a dessert. (Except for crème brûlée. She can always make an exception for crème brûlée.) Kristin currently resides in the middle-of-nowhere North Carolina with her husband and five incredibly loud but extremely cute boys. To read more about her obsession with YA novels or her addiction to scarves, you can connect with her at the links below.
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Good News

The past few weeks have been a blur of activity for me. I opened the doors to my new business and got generous feedback from a literary agent.

The new business:

The first two young adult books I wrote were about dead girls. They are not ghost stories. I suppose I’m drawn to the idea because I’m a medium and intuitive healer. So seeing and hearing things most people don’t and interacting with them is my normal. And being dead and being a ghost are two very different things.

After studying to hone in my gifts, my mentor encouraged me to open my own practice of spiritual healing. I was scared to come out of the woo-woo closet. It’s an uncomfortable place to be- exposed with all of my beliefs laid at people’s feet to judge.

But the irony of my fear is this– I’ve been booked for weeks. My community including complete strangers (wo are now new clients) came to see me and support me. And in return my clients tell me I’m giving them a sense of peace. They say I help them feel lighter. I’m so happy my gifts are helping them!

If you’re curious about intuitive healing please visit my other site: http://www.hollyhughesintuitive.com

In other good news:

It appears I sold an essay to xoJane.com.When the link goes live- I’ll let you know.

The BEST gift I got this week was…(yes, I buried the lead)

An agent I’ve been waiting to hear back from said I piqued her interest and asked for a full. I mean, really- this is FANTASTIC NEWS.

I received the email after fusion class. I couldn’t get home fast enough. Afraid of sending the version of my manuscript I made sure to bathe, eat and take a deep breath before hitting send. Within a few short hours she wrote back. It was a no from her for now, but she gave me concise notes and said if I revise she’d be open to reading it again.

HELL YES! This is an enormous gift and I’m going to take it.

First my ego had to be swept up an coddled. She didn’t love it enough to continue. And I love my book. But publishing is a business.

I let my ego have a pity party and got to work. I printed out her notes and now I’m gonna kill my darlings. Murder them. Strip down my language and find a way to move things along.

My biggest fear is my MC will lose her voice. That the tenderness I worked so hard on will lay on the cutting room floor. The changes a critique partner asked for were an issue too. Other things require my brain to bend. I’m up for that challenge, too. Writing, revising and editing are hard work. My brain may bleed a bit and that’s okay.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to revise and resubmit. Wish me luck!

 

Questioning my Sanity

Sanity as definied by dictionary.com:

sanity [san-i-tee]

noun

1. the state of beingsanesoundness of mind.
2. soundness of judgment.

I’ve never claimed to be sane. It doesn’t appeal to my sense of self. Since seventh grade I’ve identified with the wife in The Yellow Wallpaper creeping around her room and imagining herself in the garden and behind the walls.

And I believe every creative person is a bit nuts- we have to be to allow our imaginations to flourish.

And that freedom makes art.

My arts are writing and dancing. Can’t imagine living without them. My soul would die if I couldn’t. I love the days story flows, even the days it doesn’t, the line edits, the plot holes, and the doubt. I love searching for the right word, the right emotional cue, the raw core.

But I also have to cope with the negative parts of being artistic, too. The worst part is being told, “No.”

No sucks. No can make all my pages go blank and music stop. No makes me trip and stumble, creates doubt and erodes confidence. I hate that word.

I’m wading through a tide of, “You’re clearly talented, but no,” now while I query a book and essay. It makes me question the drive that keeps me writing every day. How do I want to do something so much that comes with so much rejection?

Should I write different kinds of stories? Are the ones I tell not a fit for the market?

No.

No I should never stop being me or telling the stories I want to tell. I can’t imagine a time when I’ll stop exploring family dynamics in my fiction or delving into what people do in order to be loved- how we twist ourselves into shapes that no longer resemble ourselves to please another person. How some people think by doing something they want for another person will magically inform the other person to do that exact thing for them. I love exploring the value of love.

Hu…that’s ironic. Here I am all twisted up and wondering what shape my work needs to take, when it needs to remain the same. My voice. My stories. They matter

There is no choice. I’ll keep writing the stories inside me and help that creeping woman earn her freedom. And perhaps our story will resonate with you and keep you company on your bookshelf, too.

Magical Realism

There are quite a lot of people out in the world claiming to write and wanting to represent magical realism. And that makes me happy.

However, my experience of magical realism is different than what people are calling magical realism.

Way back in 1998 I took a writing class with UCLA Extensions (amazing program) with Aimee Bender.  It was around the time when Girl in the Flammable Skirt was released. Her opening lines include: “My lover is going through reverse evolution.”

How mind blowing is that?!

I recall a story about a boy with a hand of ice and a girl with a hand of fire and when they held hands their hands through the bars of a jail cell their hands were normal.

Her imagination sparked mine.

(I ran to my bookshelf just now and pulled these down and will reread them all. There is magic in her voice, the absurd is normal- the heartbreak of a tiny man kidnapped and put in a cage and poisoned- left me heartbroken- I still feel the pain of the tiny man. Or the tigers in the jungles yawning their skin apart and sisters have to sew them back together. These images live in my mind a decade after I read them.

I met Rachel Resnick a few years later. Back then I wanted to write memoir. I was struggling because my mind worked magically and mining my paternal relationship was painful. I had a newborn. I didn’t want to be any more raw than a first time parent.

Rachel suggested I take a break. She knew I wrote a short story Wolf, a Modern Tale about the big bad wolf getting out of jail early for good behavior and the neighbor girl obsessed with becoming his next victim. It was before the Kardashians and fame for fame’s sake. Anyway, Rachel suggested that I read Francesca Lia Block‘s Weetzie Bat.

I devoured it.

I began writing a short story about a magical dragon that fell in love with a girl and wanted to be loved so much by her he entered her womb hoping to be birthed by her, but instead ends up killing her. (I know strange) I loved the magical element that is odd, yet so my normal. I see the world this way. I see everyday magic.

I talk to animals, think the trees share secrets. I feel the elements and spiritual mysteries and want them in my stories.

The dragon story morphed over two years into a book and two years later I had my first young adult novel to query. BTW it didn’t have a dragon at all. It’s title What Death has Touched– pitch: Live is dead but doesn’t know it and is having one hell of a day figuring it out.

Now there is a magical element to all the fiction I write. Short stories and novels alike. But people are defining it in an unrecognizable way. And it frustrates me.

Then, last night I found Michelle Witte‘s blog and felt the thrill of kinship. It may be one sided- because she doesn’t know me, but regardless. I love her post on magical realism and had to share it. I didn’t want to cut and copy her words- here’s a quick link:

Michelle Witte Blog

Michelle Witte is a literary agent with Mansion Street Literary Management representing children’s fiction and nonfiction, from babies on up through teens, and all ages in between.

I highly recommend trying to write magical realism. It’s freeing and mind bending and hard. When done well the magic sparkles off the page, when it’s not actually magical realsim it’s sci fi, paranormal, fantasy and a host of other genres. All of which are good, but aren’t magical realism.

 

Building a Solid Writing Practice

Veronica Rossi shares her thoughts on setting goals and what it took for her to write her Young Adult series Under the Never Sky and her newest Riders, which releases on February 16th.

Her second YA series begins with Riders. It’s a modern-day fantasy about four teens who unwittingly become incarnations of the four horsemen. These poor guys—War, Death, Famine, and Conquest—do not want to be what they’ve become but the only way to change their situation is to complete a mission. With the help of a visionary girl, they must protect a sacred object from some truly bad baddies.

 

Vist Tor/Forge to read about her process and leave a comment

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Remembering the Northridge Earthquake

 

Do you remember the Northridge Earthquake?
I do. It was 22 years ago last night. I lost everything. My home came crumbling down around me, the building next to mine ignited into flames, the building on the other side of mine was half gone, rubble piled two stories high.
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I remember having to break down the neighbors door because the ceiling collapsed trapping them inside their apartment. I recall with distinct clarity the smell of gas punching my face as I ran down the emergency steps from the third to the second floor and the cold water rising up to greet me in my only escape route. (we had a water main and gas main break)
I know what the grinding inconceivable sound of pissed off earth is like. After being tossed from my bed naked, I clung to a door frame and searched for something to wear before fleeing. I found a striped bathrobe. After escaping the building I was trapped outside. My absolute weakness and mercy to nature ovewhelmend me.
I sat down on the concrete sidewalk and saw the complete devastation of the world around me. This was a time before cell phones. I watched as a woman ran out of her apartment holding a small infant, searching for her car so she could keep the baby safe there, but her car was stolen. Someone tried to warm me by rubbing my legs and said, “You really need to shave.”
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It was 4:31 AM and by the time dawn broke everyone around me had nothing. If it wasn’t for the kindness of a friend of a friend I would have spent the day on the street in my bathrobe. But they came looking for me. They brought me to their grandma’s house and gave me food and clothes and shelter for days.
I don’t know what happened to those angels, I don’t know where they are any more. But I do know this. Several of my friends are dealing with great big heaps of life. The kind of shit that isn’t my story to tell and I want to let them know I hope to be that quiet angel that lifts their spirits. I want them to know no matter how terrible and painful it is, it’ll be less painful soon. And it’s gonna be hard, and crap and you’re gonna get mad and sad and hate things for a while but you are strong and you will survive.

Elevator Pitch.

I finally have it. My two elevator pitches for Dear Dead Drunk Girl.

1: Dear Dead Drunk Girl is Recovery Road meets If I Stay.

and

2. Heaven is a dive bar.

One of the greatest challenges I had writing this #YA manuscript was knowing in my heart and soul I wanted to open the book with Mary (my MC) in heaven and very drunk. I want the reader to dive into her regret and unreliable perceptions. To experience Mary’s self-created heaven deteriorating around her and feel the heaviness of her intoxication.

It took me years to get the opening pages to a place I love. And yet, I understand it’s a challenging place to begin.

I hope my agent, publisher and audience will be excited to join Mary as she confronts the havoc her death left behind. Then cheer for her as she struggles to regain her sobriety, humanity and ultimately earns forgiveness.

Dear Dead Drunk Girl is a story about people loving each other in a flawed but honest way. It highlights how difficult it is to ask for help and the immense challenge of forgiveness.

#amquerying