Belated 7/7/7 Challenge

I am super late to the game on this. My awesome CP and friend Mic challenged me to do this weeks ago while I was in the last week of my summer classes at grad school. Reading 300 picture books and about 13 YA novels in about 2 months while working 47 hours will leave you with no time for anything else.

Here are the guidelines for the 7/7/7 challenge:

  • Go to page 7 of your WIP (Work in Progress)
  • Scroll down to line 7
  • Share next 7 sentences in a blog post
  • After the excerpt, tag 7 other writers (or however many you’re able to) to continue the challenge

This is from my MG fantasy that I submitted to Pitch Wars a few days ago.

The only window is drawn on in crayon, faded into the beige wall. I flop down onto the bed, the lumps digging into my back. Bright pink, yellow, and purple pillows from our old house sit on the bed and my favorite worn quilts are spread on top. But it doesn’t make me forget the fact that I’m sharing the bed with Mom and the bathroom with five other people.

Mom won’t be home until around ten-thirty when her shift at the bookstore is over. Uncle Marvin won’t be home for another couple of hours, right after Camdin leaves for his job at the sports store.

I leave my backpack on the bed and ignore the vibrations on the floor as my cousins walk past my room and into the kitchen.

I’m supposed to tag people, but my writer people that are active with social media and/or at a point where they’re comfortable sharing with other people have already done the challenge.

Here’s the most adorable picture of a hedgehog playing with a dinosaur. Who doesn’t love hedgehogs and dinosaurs?

hedgie

Sun Vs. Snow Critique Workshop

Michelle Hauck and Amy Trueblood are hosting a Critique Workshop/Blog Hop for anyone who wishes to join. More details can be found at their blogs linked above. The Sun Vs. Snow comes from a agent contest they finished a few days ago. All you gotta do is post your query or 35 word pitch and your first 250 words on your blog and then link it over at either of their blogs. Then, you critique the five above and the five below you.

This is my query and first 250 for my upper middle-grade fantasy novel, Wonderland. It is complete now and out with my critique partners. After I get their notes back, I intend to revise like a madwomen, so I can hopefully start querying this sometime in late March/early April. Queries are one of my weakest points, so please be honest and politely tear it to shreds. 🙂

Critique away!

Qurey:

Dear Agent:

Eleven-year-old Quilla creates worlds by wishing on dandelions.

It’s been six months since Quilla’s big sister, Amy, was murdered in Wonderland, the first world Quilla created. Six months since Quilla was chased out of Wonderland by her sister’s murderer and boyfriend and promised a quick death if she returned. Overwhelmed with grief, Quilla focuses on trying to get through sixth grade unnoticed as the only deaf and biracial student in her school.

She should’ve known it would all go wrong.

Aaron, who has only ever lived in Wonderland, is now in her Pre-Algebra class with a message she can’t dare to believe: Amy’s alive. Quilla can’t pretend her worlds no longer exist. She must return to Wonderland, but Wonderland is nothing like she remembers.

Wonderland is dying, and not only is Amy alive, but she’s queen, ruling alongside her murderer. Convincing her princess obsessed sister to abandon a kingdom and return home to attend eighth grade? Not likely. Working with Amy and the boy Quilla thought murdered her to save Wonderland? Laughable. If she doesn’t, Wonderland and all the people in it will cease to exist in three days. And being responsible for the death of hundreds of people really isn’t on Quilla’s to-do list.

But saving Wonderland and Amy may require a sacrifice Quilla isn’t ready to make.

WONDERLAND is a middle grade novel complete at 53,00 words. It is a standalone novel though there is room to expand the universe. It may appeal to fans of Catherynne M. Valente, Anne Ursu, and Brandon Mull. This is my debut novel. I have a Bachelor’s in English from East Tennessee State University and work part-time as a bookseller and a Youth Services Library Assistant. Thank you for your time and consideration.

First 250 Words:

The first time I wished on a dandelion, I created a world.

I was five and three-quarters.

The world, Wonderland, is six years old now, and I wish I could say it was thriving. I wish I could blow on another dandelion and bring happiness to the people.

But my powers don’t work that way. I can create worlds, but those who live there are not under my control.

I am not a queen, a ruler, or even a citizen of the worlds I create. I am a powerless watcher.

But everything’s changing. My worlds are melting together. The seams are thinner.

One of my made up friends is in my world now—the real world I share with every other human on Earth.

He is in my sixth grade Pre-Algebra class.

I didn’t invite him, and no one is supposed to be able leave their world. I am the only one allowed to come and go.

But he is here.

My first day of middle school and my best friend since I was five and three-quarters is staring at me from across the room. His eyes are so green they hurt, skin lighter than my own dark brown, but not pale enough for him to be white. His eyes are wide, black lashes long. His pale lips are full, his teeth white and uneven. His nose is slightly crooked, his chin pointy, hair platinum blonde, almost white.

Most startlingly of all is the scar that runs from behind his left ear and down his jawline.

Diversity on the Shelf 2015 Reading Challenge

 diverse
Welcome to the 2nd year of the Diversity on the Shelf reading challenge. The aim of Diversity on the Shelf 2015 Challenge is add diversity to you bookshelf by reading books by authors of color and/or about a main character of color.

 

Challenge Details

1. Any book (by any author) with a main character that is a person of color qualifies for this reading challenge, as well as any book written by an author of color. The goal is to encourage readers have a more diverse reading experience and to support diversity in the publishing industry by reading and reviewing books by or about person of color.

2. The challenge will run from January 1, 2015 – December 31, 2015 (books read prior to 1/1/2015 do not count towards the challenge). You can join anytime before 12/1/2015. Sign up at My Little Pocketbooks

3. Books can be any format (print, ebook, audio).

4. Novellas, Short story collections, Poetry, Graphic novels/manga, Children Books, and all genres are allowed.

5. Books can be of any publication date.

6. You can choose your books as you go or create a list in advance. Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.

Join the Challenge

To join the challenge, grab the Diversity on the Shelf 2015 Challenge button and post this reading challenge on your blog to track your progress. Please include a link back to this sign-up post so others can join the reading challenge too.

You do not have to be a book blogger to participate; you can track your progress on Goodreads, LibraryThing, BookLikes, Libib, etc., just as long as you have a dedicated shelf for the Diversity on the Shelf 2015 Challenge and your profile is not private. The point of linking up is to have a place where people can see what you’re reading.

Pick a Level

Choose how many diversity centered books you would like to add to your “read” shelf in 2015:

1st Shelf: Read 1-6 books
2nd Shelf: Read 7 -12 books
3rd Shelf: Read 13 – 18 books
4th Shelf: Read 19 -24 books
5th Shelf: Read 25+ books

Once you pick a level you can go higher and read more books but you cannot go down a level.

If you’d like to participate in the Diversity on the Shelf 2015 Reading Challenge, please sign up, and if you have a blog please spread the word by grabbing the button and post about your participation.
If you need some ideas for what to read go to the original POC Reading Challenge blog.
There will be giveaways along the way, theme reads and a giveaway at the end for the participants who participate each month and completes the challenge.
I am SUPER EXCITED to participate in this. I’m writing diverse characters, and I need to make sure I’m reading as many diverse books as possible. I’m going to aim for a 3rd shelf of 13-18 books. I’m currently working two part-time jobs and the next semester starts mid-late January, which will take up even more of my time. In no particular order, here are some of the books I intend to read next year:
1. Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
2. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
3. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
4. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
5. Mexican WhiteBoy by Matt de la Pena
6. Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang
7. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
8. Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
9. Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
10. The Jumbies by Tracy Baptiste
11. Fight Like a Girl (comic). I believe it is supposed to have 4 issues. I’m getting the first one for Christmas. I may have to force myself to keep it until New Years.
12. Ms. Marvel (comic) monthly issues for a total of 12 issues (because it is my favorite)
13. Storm (comic) monthly issues (as long as she isn’t canceled)
14. Rat Queens Vol. 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’rygoth (because you should be reading this if you’re not. Vol. 1 is called Sass and Sorcery. What more do you need? The answer: nothing. I love all of the Rat Queens, and I need more).
15. Lumerjanes (comic) monthly issues, which I hope will be a total of 12 because it is AMAZING and rival my love for Ms. Marvel. The next blog series will be about all the woman and other cool things Lumberjanes inspired me to research.
16. TBD
17. TBD
18. TBD
I’d really like some grade middle grade fantasy, but I’m have a difficult time finding them easily doing a quick Google search. I don’t have to time to an in-depth search at the moment, but if anyone has any suggestions, please leave them in the comments!

Holiday Query Blog Hop

In case you’re not here from Michelle4Laughs, she’s hosting a Holiday Query Blog Hope.

This is actually a query for a WIP, and my first foray into writing middle grade.So, please tear it to shreds and offer advice. 🙂

Quilla is biracial (African American and Mexican) and Deaf, but that’s not mentioned in the query because it isn’t the focus of the book, and I’m not sure of how or if it should be worked into the query. Any thoughts on that are greatly appreciated. Also, I’m not sure about the bio part. I don’t have anything published to mention, so don’t know if what I’ve included is relevant or if I should just take out all the personal info.

And Wonderland is a tentative title for the novel and the world. This isn’t a retelling, but does have fairy tale elements from many different tales, especially since Quilla is a bookworm.

Second Attempt:

Eleven-year-old Quilla is the only biracial Deaf student in her Southern school and has read more than anyone else in the sixth grade, but those are the two most least interesting facts about her. Quilla creates worlds by wishing on dandelions.

It’s been six months since Quilla’s sister, Amy, died in the first world Quilla created, Wonderland. Six months since Amy’s face was plastered across the news and the hunt began. Six months since Quilla was chased out of Wonderland by her sister’s murderer and promised to be killed if she ever returned. Assured by the fact that no one she created can leave Wonderland, Quilla wants nothing more than to get through sixth grade unnoticed at a new school.

But Aaron is her in Pre-Algebra class. Aaron, who has only ever lived in Wonderland, is on Earth, and has a message she can’t dare to believe: Amy is alive. Quilla can’t pretend her worlds no longer exist. Aaron has to be lying, but there’s only one way to find out. She must return to Wonderland, but Wonderland is nothing like she remembers.

Wonderland is burnt and destroyed and dying. It is no longer a matter of convincing Amy to stop playing queen and return home. It’s a quest to save Wonderland and all the other worlds she created as a child. No one but Quilla can save Wonderland and she has only three days to save the worlds and take Amy home. Except Amy doesn’t want to leave. Quilla must make the ultimate decision—to sacrifice Wonderland and drag her sister home or save Wonderland and return to Earth without her.

Wonderland is a middle grade novel complete at 60,000 words. It is a standalone novel though there is room to expand the universe. It will appeal to fans of Catherynne M. Valente, Anne Ursu, and Branon Mull. This is my debut novel. I have a Bachelor’s in English from East Tennessee State University and work part-time as a bookseller and a Youth Services Library Assistant. Thank you for your time and consideration.

First Attempt (I’m assuming I’m going to be doing edits, so I’m gonna go ahead and number these)

Dear Blog Hopper Critters:

Eleven-year-old Quilla wants nothing more than to make it through her first year of middle school unnoticed. But that’s impossible when everyone knows her as the Deaf girl whose sister disappeared six month ago. She doesn’t want to remember her sister, Amy, dying in a world Quilla created by wishing on a dandelion. She wants to pretend all the worlds she created don’t exist. She wants to forget Henry promised to kill her if she returned to Wonderland.

But Aaron is in her Pre-Algebra class. Aaron who lives in Wonderland, where Amy died, and should not be able to come to Earth. Aaron, who has a message Quilla can’t dare to believe: Amy’s alive. Quilla can no longer pretend her worlds don’t exist. Aaron has to be lying, but there’s only way to know for sure. She must return to Wonderland.

Wonderland is nothing like she remembers. It’s burnt and destroyed and dying. It is no longer a matter of dodging Henry and convincing Amy to stop playing queen and return home. It is a quest to save Wonderland and all the other worlds she created as a child in only three days. But can she save both Amy and Wonderland? Can she sacrifice Wonderland and its people to save her sister or will she say goodbye to Amy to save her world?

Wonderland is a middle grade novel complete at 60,000 words. It is a stand alone though there is room to expand the universe. It will appeal to fans of Catherynne M. Valente, Anne Ursu, and Branon Mull. This is my debut novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Fall First Page Blog Hop: YA Fantasy

Sleeping Beauty

The forest in front of Elsea was a dense wall of impassable black trees.

It was alive.

She could hear it breathing.

Her lungs seared with each sharp breath. Her muscles shook with fatigue from running for the past ten miles. She hadn’t rested in seven hours, and she was not going to start now. Not when she was this close to avenging her parents’ death and rescuing the prince.

The forest of her bedtime stories loomed in front of her, more horrific than she imagined during the countless nights she spent in the crowded bedchamber at the Home for Abandoned Souls.  Elsea remembered the way Chloe’s voice would drop to a whisper when she talked of the gruesome sand traps that grabbed hold of unsuspecting traveler’s legs and sucked them into the earth without any warning. Trees that appeared dead, but breathed and could be felt on the back of her neck, waking her up where the darkness was very real and not just imagined.

It was as if the trees had been sown from rotten seeds and the decay had seeped into everything around it. They didn’t grow as normal trees. The dead, black, oozing trees twisted and spiraled into the gray above. Those closest to her, barely illuminated by the light from her torch, didn’t grow straight from the ground. The bases of the trees were flat, curved at a sharp angle before curving again then straightening. A dark gray sludge dripped from the bend, gurgling toward the black ground.

A Darker Shade of Magic (Preview) by V.E. Schwab–Review

I received an egalley provided by the publisher, Macmillian-Tor/Forge, through Netgalley in an exchange for an honest review.

darkershade

I’m not sure there are enough adjectives and synonyms to describe how ridiculously magical, wonderful, amazing, fantastic, dark, and spell-binding the preview was. Okay,     so perhaps I have a few more adjectives than I thought, but seriously, the first 1/3 of the book was stunning, and I can’t imagine how it will all play out.

First of all, there’s Kell, a Traveler, who travels between the different Londons delivering letters (the only item allowed to go through the different Londons) for the different ruling families. Kell is one of the last Antari’s, those with magic in their blood and able to travel between the four Londons: Red, White, Black, and Gray. Though no one goes to Gray anymore, as it’s been sealed off after magic devoured it.

Then, there’s Kell’s coat, which is the most fantastic piece of outerwear I’ve ever encountered in a novel. His coat is its own character to me now, and I need it. I need it so bad. It is long and sometimes billowing and turns from left to right instead of inside out and there seem to be an almost endless array of possibilities to wear it. Plus, I just really have a thing for male characters in great coats like Sherlock, Mal, Captain Jack Harkness, Spike, etc. Now, I get to add Kell to that list.

Sherlockmaljackharknessspike

The world building is superb. I love the idea of parallel Londons, each with their own ruler and rules and ideals about magic, and how different and similar they are. I wish I could talk more in depth about it, but I don’t want to ruin anything. The characters are intriguing and multi-faceted. And the villains? The twins Athos and Astrid? Dear God, they’re creepy and horrific human beings (though human may be a bit of a stretch). I was repulsed by them and their actions, but I desperately want to know about them and am simultaneously terrified to discover more.

And now I have to wait. Do you know how far away February 24th is? OVER THREE MONTHS. What am I supposed to do with myself until then?

This is the first novel I’ve read in a while that drew me in completely. I’ve read three and half books in the past three weeks, and I liked them, but I didn’t love them. They were just missing something. A Darker Shade of Magic has what the others were missing.

Part fairy-take, part political intrigue A Darker Shade of Magic is sure to be fantastical ride perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, and anyone who craves brilliant characters.

Life is Crazy and Guest Blogging

I totally meant to blog before now, but as the title says, life is crazy. Since my last post, I’ve moved from a house with no heat to an apartment with central heat and air (yay!) and my grandfather had to have emergency surgery to remove a blood clot in his arm. He’s still in a physical rehabilitation center, and is doing better, but it’s very stressful to not have him home.

Perhaps because of the stress, but I’ve had the most successful writing month so far with my middle grade fantasy. It’s been going so well, I haven’t spared much thoughts to blogging here.

I did have an opportunity to quest blog at Bookish Comforts as part of the Sunnydale Project. The Sunnydale Project is co-hosted with Teen Librarian Toolbox as a fan appreciation of Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Plus, Teen Librarian Toolbox is a fantastic resource for librarians working with teens. Bookish Comforts is a brilliant book review website also and you should check both out. The event will be going on through Halloween with new posts each day at each website.

My blog post is about my mixed feelings on Spike. Feel free to join the conversation over at Bookish comforts, or here, or on Twitter using #SunnydaleProject. In the mean time, I’m going to get back to writing Wonderland, reading the last Percy Jackson (*sob*), and figuring out what to blog about next. Enjoy your week!