Blog Hiatus

Have a lot going on (don't worry, it's all good stuff!), so I'm taking a blog hiatus for a bit. Might pop in for some Road Trip Wednesdays, but otherwise see y'all at the end of June! If not sooner.

In the meantime, I've decided to re-run two of my more popular (and useful) posts on writing queries. Enjoy!

Born-Again Plotter

For my first book, I did a hybrid pantser-plotter method with something like a beat sheet  including plot points that must show up in the story, but leaving the rest open to inspiration. And since it was my first book, I learned just as much from the detours my story took from that spare map than I did from the parts I actually kept. The only problem was, my very first draft was a bloated 124,000 words long.

Spirits from the Vasty Deep has been through a number of rewrites since then, and the word count has gone up and down depending on the focus of each revision. And even though I'm still learning, I really wasn't up for that roller coaster ride again with my second book.

So I came up with a very detailed outline--as in 5,000 words long. Now when I sit down to write, instead of filling in the blanks, it feels like fleshing out a skeleton. Which sounds like a creepy metaphor, but it's apt. Have you ever seen one of those facial reconstructions based on a skull? It takes bare bone and makes it into something recognizable and almost alive.

 That's something worth aspiring to, isn't it, that your work develops a life of its own? And if I don't stick to my outline 100%, then that's story evolution in action.

And I just wanted to add that I was very glad to have done such a detailed outline ahead of finishing the book--it turns out that I needed a one-page synopsis for the L.A. conference submission. I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out, and I know it would have taken a week's worth of hair pulling to do it without that outline to refer to. Instead, it took maybe 3 hours total, and it helped cement some of the important plot hinges in the story--so well worth it!

What about you? Are you a plotter or a pantser? A little of both?

Map image Clipart from

I'm Going to L.A., Baby!

I found out yesterday that I won our Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrator's regional chapter's grant for the summer conference! Here's the official announcement:

The goal of this contest is to provide monetary assistance to talented CA North/Central members who would not be able to attend the summer conference without it. We received 21 entries this year (five more than last year!) , and the choice proved difficult. In the end our blind judging process turned up three very deserving winners. Please join us in congratulating YA writer Angelica Jackson of Shingle Springs, illustrator Linda Knoll of Modesto, and non-fiction writer Angelica Carpenter of Fresno. They will each receive a grant of $750 toward their LA conference fees. Upon their return, each recipient will share what they learned in our online ACORN. 

I'm so excited, honored, and grateful! I've already registered and booked the hotel, and now I just need to decide whether to drive or fly there.

So who else will be going? Want to meet up at the conference?

Happy Blogiversary to Angelic Muse!

 My very first post was on May 4, 2010, and last year I celebrated the anniversary with a giveaway. That's great and all (especially for the 3 people who won), but this year I've decided to do something different: this year the cats at Fat Kitty City will be winners.

You see, because so often the cats that end up at the sanctuary aren't winners. They lose out when their owners lose their homes to foreclosure. They lose out when a new baby comes along, and their owners give them up--either out of fear and concern from old wives' tales, or because the parents feel like they no longer have time for the cat. Or when they lose their caretaker to death or disease, and the family members aren't prepared to take them on (an excellent reason to include your beloved pet in your estate planning).

For whatever reason they end up with us, I wanted them to feel like winners just once. So if you can, go over to the Pens for Paws Auction today and every day through Sunday (Mother's Day) and see if there's something you want to bid on. Items will start posting at 3 AM PST every day, and be open for bidding over 3 days.

Need a gift for a teen, child, or Mom who loves books? Or some unique jewelry or artwork? And if you know any writers, we have critiques from literary agents and published authors too (these are a great gift for writing moms). You can find them all at the auction. Thank you!

ETA: I had no idea they were running one at the same time, but Hunger Mountain also has a fundraising auction on ebay through Sunday. Go here to see the items they're offering.

RTW: Bosom Buddies

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors and followers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on their blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic: What IRL people can you talk to about YA?

I'm busy with Pens for Paws stuff, but I can't let another Road Trip Wednesday go by without participating! Though I think this prompt would be better phrased as "What IRL people can you talk to about YA, and they'll enjoy it and be enthusiastic too?" Because I try to talk to lots of people about YA books and writing, but the most common* reaction is a blank/glazed-eyes look. And yet, my carpet-bomb method of spreading the word about YA has led to some interesting conversations.

My main enthusiastic outlet is my nieces and nephews; they love that I've read the same books they have, and can make informed recommendations. I hit the library and used book sales all year long, and then read as many of those purchases as I can before sending a box of books to each relative for Christmas. Reading them first gives me the opportunity to match them to the right kid, but also tempts me to keep the really good books for my own collection!

Also, the YA/MG critique group we formed from local SCBWI members has spawned a book club. It's a great way to allow ourselves those fangirl moments and gush about the YA and MG books we love. We have similar standards for writing, but different tastes, so it's fun to wade into a new genre with a book that's already been vetted. Everyone should have an outlet like that--it really helps keep your writing momentum going!

What about you--where do you get your talkin-bout-YA fix? Don't forget to go to the comments on the YA Highway RTW post to see everyone else's answers!
*Only slightly ahead of "You mean like Twilight?"

P.S. The Pens for Paws Auction is coming up, so press that purple button in the sidebar. 
Lots of signed YA and kids' books? Check!
ARCs? Check!
Critiques from agents and pubbed authors? Check! (hint: these would be a great gift for a writing mom)
Unique gifts? Check!
Come check it out! 
We're still taking donations, and don't forget to go back to P4P starting on the 7th to bid on all the awesomeness!
Image source