This might read like Six Degrees of the Writer World, but some years ago I approached Brigid Kemmerer about beta reading one of my manuscripts. We'd commented on a lot of the same threads on Absolute Write's Water Cooler forum and seemed like a good writerly match.

Alas, Brigid was just starting the sweet insanity of deadlines for multiple books under contract and wasn't able to read for me then. But, she did have another writer-friend, Alison Kemper who was willing to give my pages a look. Brigid thought we'd be a good team, and she was right! Alison and I share a quirky sense of humor and a mutual love of each other's sarcastic main characters.

Then, last year, Alison sent another writer my way who was looking for some query help. Karen McCoy and I ended up trading manuscripts and cheering each other along on our writing journeys. So when Karen said she'd be passing through Sacramento, I jumped at the chance to meet up with her in person.

We chose the Crocker Art Museum because it's right off I-5--and because I love their exhibits and cafe. We didn't have too much time to see the exhibits (there were Important Writing Conversations to be had!) but we each got fantastic salads and had a great visit. And because Alison was in our thoughts and conversation, I added her to the souvenir photo of the day.

That's Karen on the left (who looks so young that the guy at the desk gave her a "Youth" sticker when I checked us in on my membership), me in the middle, and Alison on the right, all the way from North Carolina. Yay for writer friends, and their support in this crazy undertaking called writing!

P.S. I'd be remiss not to mention another writer connection--I met Laurie Dennison at LA SCBWI last year, and I sent her Karen's way when they were looking for an additional beta. They each thanked me for that, so it must have been another successful connection!

Maybe I should add Laurie next to Karen in the photo?

OA Today

I'm over on Operation Awesome today with a post on a great forthcoming writing book by K. M. Weiland. Go check it out, and see you back here next Monday!

Voices and Truths

After an unexpectedly-long hiatus while I dealt with some family issues, I'm finally tackling the revisions on Spirits from the Vasty Deep! Taking it in a completely different direction; I originally thought it would require a rewrite of about 2/3 of the book, but I now think there will be very few recognizable sections from the earlier versions.

But one part that's coming back is the New Adult slant; Olivia was originally 19 years old, but was changed to a younger age to better fit the Young Adult mould on the advice of several agents. At the time, there wasn't really a New Adult market, but Olivia's happy to step back into her slightly more grownup shoes.

So today was spent nailing down some of the worldbuilding and voice, and I kind of like what I came up with this morning. It's sort of Olivia's own take on her gift/curse:

No matter how sincerely I try to tell a person that it is impossible for me to lie, it only serves to arouse their suspicions that I am a liar.

Unfortunately, also claiming I can communicate with the spirits only heightens these suspicions.

But however incredible they may sound, both statements are indeed true—two sides of the same coin in a deal brokered with Death. As my long-ago ancestor found, no dealings with Death are ever straightforward, and this talent of speaking for the dead comes with a price.

To prevent our own human nature corrupting Death’s gift by falsely delivering a message from the spirits, a Caller must always tell the truth. No matter if their own life hangs in the balance, a falsehood cannot pass lips that speak the secrets of the spiritworld.

It was my father’s good fortune to be blessed with a Caller child whose talents are even stronger than her late mother’s, but not to have to labor under the yoke of perpetual truthfulness himself. For him, it opened up a world of deceptions and trickery, cheats and rascalry. For me, it was a life of shame and regrets, late-night departures from the windows of unpaid hotel rooms under cover of the angry mutterings of the townspeople.

Only escaping from my father's reach entirely could save me. But how can I escape my father, when even death doesn't truly part us? 

I had a blast experiencing the Pitch+250 Contest from the other side of the judging! They announced the winners yesterday and all the submissions I was rooting for from my batch of entries made it through this round, whoo hoo!

If yours didn't make it through, don't forget there is another Mystery Agent coming up September 1st on Operation Awesome. And if you need help with your pitches, you can't do better than WriteOnCon, which runs Augus 13-14 this year. But if you can't "tune in" during the conference, you can catch up in the archives at any time!

I got a request for my book last year from Pete Knapp during the live crit event and although it didn't end up in an offer (Crow's Rest ended up more urban fantasy than he was looking for; he prefers magical realism), his request came during a crucial moment in the life of that manuscript.

So I highly recommend you check out WriteOnCon and participate wherever and whenever you can!

OA Today

Oops, forgot to link to my Operation Awesome post for today!

We're saying farewell to two of our operatives, and welcoming two new folks!

Stop by and leave a comment for them!