Posts Tagged ‘writers’
If you’ve been around here very long, you’ll already know Nicole. She was an early and frequent participant in 5MinuteFiction, back when it lived here. But life got busy for me with the release of Fighting Gravity, and I asked for someone to take care of and look after my baby, 5MinuteFiction, and love it like it deserved. Well, Nicole has been doing that for over a year now. In fact, with the release of her new novel, The Trajectory of Dreams, she’s passing the baton as well. But more on that later.
Because now we’ve got a 5MinuteInterview with Nicole, and at the end, there are PRIZES!!
You’ve got a novel out now, The Trajectory of Dreams, give us your novel pitch in 140 characters.
The Trajectory of Dreams is billed as a psychological thriller. Where do you think your interest in things creepy or frightening started?
Rumor has it that my father forced my mother (and me, of course) to see The Exorcist at a drive-in movie theatre when I was about a year old. I don’t remember the experience, but I think it sort of set me up for a lifetime of being warped. I also grew up in a very rural area–it’s just way too quiet, and there’s a cornfield next to the house where I grew up. Bad things happen in quiet cornfields . . . or at least I always imagined it that way. So I guess I blame my hometown (Berwick, PA) for making me the twisted woman I am today.
One of your non-writing related pursuits is promoting locally grown foods and sustainable living. Tell us a little bit about this.
My grandparents were dairy farmers for a lot of years, so I grew up hearing about how hard it is to farm. A lot of people, and I was one of them, never think about the difference between small farmers and commercial growing operations, and we really never think about the chemicals commercial food producers use or about they way they treat their animals. After I moved away from my hometown and finally learned to cook, I started reading about commercial food production, and it wasn’t comforting. It’s more than just food miles or supporting your local economy or keeping smaller farmers afloat–it’s really an issue of biodiversity and food safety on a mass scale. I started gardening (in the heart of South Philly, no less), growing a small portion of my food, and trying to find a greater portion of my food grown by small producers from the immediate area. At the time, it wasn’t easy, so I founded Farm to Philly in 2007, a website devoted to locally grown foods and sustainable living. There are about half a dozen writers or so, and we write about everything from federal and local food policies to local farm markets. It’s been a real thrill to see Philadelphia become a food town devoted to keeping our local artisan food producers afloat and be a part of all that’s happened.
For a year or so, you’ve hosted 5MinuteFiction. How was that experience and what do you think you, and the participants, got out of it?
When I inherited 5 Minute Fiction from you, I didn’t really know what to expect. I’d been submitting entries while it was hosted here, and I think I guest-hosted once or twice, but you never really know what it’s going to be like to take over something so established. It’s been really great to host–I’ve met some amazing people and had fantastic opportunities because of it. I will say that I missed participating, though, which never feels possible–I’m such a worrywart, I’m always camped out over my email in case anyone has trouble submitting! When I was a participant when you hosted, though, and I assume this is true of all participants, it was a rare chance to think fast and make snap decisions without any consequences. There’s a freedom to being forced to just blurt things onto the page without obsessing about it. My writing got sharper, or at least I’d like to think so! Now that the care and feeding of 5 Minute Fiction has passed to Wendy Strain, I hope I have some time to play again!
Many thanks for the interview, Leah!
And now, Prizes! Enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card. So get on that!
It’s been days since the con ended and I’m finally getting a chance to sit down and do my wrap-up post for World Fantasy Con in Toronto. I had a minor dispute with gravity on Friday morning of the con and it won hands (and feet) down. So I’ve spent the first day or so back in the states dealing with purple-sausage-foot which is much better now, thank you.
Idiot injuries aside, it was a great con.
I arrived Wednesday night in time for a party at JM Frey’s house, which was lots of fun. Jess is a wonderful host. We played a customized-for-the-sff-crowd set of Cards Against Humanity which led to some hilarious combinations. I met there Clint Talbert, a shiny new Dragon Moon Press author who has a story in When the Villain Comes Home and a novel coming out in 2013. Lovely man, in more than one sense of the word, so that was very nice.
Gabrielle Harbowy and I stayed over that night and on Thursday about midday we set off for the con hotel with several boxes of books to stock the Dragon Moon Press table in the dealer’s room. I didn’t get to any of the programming on Thursday as my afternoon was spent setting up our table, meeting and coordinating with my fellow DMP authors, and so on and so forth. One highlight of the afternoon was, upon registering, we were directed to the book room where we were to pick up our bag of free books. There we found, not just a bag of free books, but an enormous, heavy bag of really cool new releases by authors whose names made me squeeeee. YAY!
I cornered Scott Edelman in the hallway later and he very nicely agreed to take a picture with me to compliment the one I had from Readercon this summer. (He’s a lot taller in real life than his avatar at Readercon was.)
The other great thing that happened that day was that I got to meet our newest DMP author, K.T. Bryski, whose debut novel, Hapax, was launching there at the con. She’s really sweet and it was lots of fun hanging out with her all weekend.
That night, our room tried to kill us. That is, we found fresh blood spatters on our sheets when we went to get in bed, and then, after the helpful young man replaced them, one of our lamps caught fire. Thankfully we survived, but that whole fiasco is a blog post in itself.
Friday was a big day for me, I was one of the panelists for the 10:00 Young Adult Urban Fantasy panel. The moderator, Joel Sutherland, was great, the panelists intelligent and well rounded, and I got to sit beside Charles de Lint who is really a terribly nice man. Other panelists included Isobelle Carmody, Alyxandra Harvey, and Holly Black. The conversation ranged from how YA UF differs from the adult variety, how much violence, sex, etc. can and/or should be in YA, writing to a YA audience and also how marketing often determines what is YA and what isn’t, rather than the author. It was well run and the audience followed up with good questions as well. It was a great experience.
Afterward, Fiona Patton came up to me to follow up on the comments I’d made about the fact that my novel has YA age characters who are gay. She had a great story about how a young nephew had recently come out to her and it was heartwarming and encouraging to hear about a kid who had a safe person to come out to and an environment that promised to support, not judge him for who he is. Yay! And one of the really good things was that I couldn’t see her nametag when we were talking, so I had no idea who she was and therefore didn’t squee or get nervous or anything but talked to her like an intelligent(ish) adult. She also came by the DMP table later and bought a copy of Fighting Gravity and I did squeee then, once she was gone.
That’s about it, I think, except for the fact that I stumbled coming down off the stage, actually during the panel in front of everyone in what is an embarrassing Leah-acted-before-she-engaged-her-brain moment and the end result of that was a purple-sausage foot for the rest of the weekend and lots of hobbling. A good bit of the rest of my con was ruled by the Leah’s-not-exactly-mobile situation, but I spent that time at the DMP table in the dealer’s room where I met great people and sold some books while hanging out with my friends. I’m pretty sure that’s the whole point of these things, anyway, right? So, mission accomplished.
And Ed Greenwood himself took me to Walmart and bought me a cane, so it was totally worth it.
On Friday at 5:00pm, I attended the New Twists on Accepted Myths panel that featured not only special guest Mercedes Lackey, but also fellow DMP author and good friend Marie Bilodeau. It was an extremely informative panel with a great moment in which Marie, in response to an audience member’s comment along the lines of how we could use existing myths WITHOUT respecting the root culture and that being just fine, Marie replied “well I could come down there and bitch slap you, but…” It was one of the best moments of the con. I wish I had it on video.
Friday night was one of the highlights of my con. That night, up in our room, Gabrielle Harbowy, Clint Talbert and I played a game of Dungeons and Dragons with Ed Greenwood as our Dungeon Master. If you know anything about D&D, you know how cool it is to learn the game from the creator of the Forgotten Realms. It was so much fun. I’m no virgin when it comes to RPGs and have years of WOW under my belt, but I had never played D&D in any form. It was so obvious how this game became such a thing with WRITERS not just gamers. It was a shared story experience and, particularly in private among good friends, it was an absolute riot and probably got a little more, ahem, interesting than it does on the con floor. Let’s just say I did not expect the device holding the Drow prisoner to be a butt plug. Which about sums up the game, really. That and the frantic moment when Gab, our warrior, had to save my dong from the tentacle monster I’d unwittingly pissed off by peeing on him. (Well I had to try out the equipment…)
And there went Friday. Literally; we finished the game at 2:30 am Saturday but all the next-day sleepies had been worth it.
At noon on Saturday, I went to the Brandon Sanderson reading where he treated us to the opening of the last WOT novel, coming out in January 2013, and also a scene from the next Stormlight novel that he’d written only a few days before.
I did also make it down to the Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon interview. I got there early and to my delight, realized that there were ten more minutes of the Charles de Lint interview and for that time, he had chosen to sing along with his wife some of the folk music they’re known for. It was AWESOME and I was totally not expecting it so that made it even better.
After that, Misty and Larry sat down for their interview and Misty put up a sign facing the audience that said YOU ARE DOOMED! And that tells you about the panel, actually. They were funny and irreverent and it was fascinating to hear how they manage all their various collaborations and creative projects.
Saturday night we had the launch party for Hapax at the Fox and the Fiddle across the street from the con. There were tons of people there and K.T. Bryski, who’s like 90 pounds soaking wet, read an excerpt loud enough for us all to hear. It’s a great book, by the way; I’ve already finished mine.
Being insufficiently mobile, I volunteered to man the book table at the party where I sold lots of copies of Hapax and several other DMP books. I met Katie’s friends and family too, and as a rule, they’re all lovely people so I’m very glad I did. Congratulations, Katie!
Sunday morning I started with Non-Western Fantasy, which I wanted to attend anyway, but it offered the additional bonus of having on the panel Amanda Sun who I’d met through Authoress Anonymous’s wonderful group of Success Stories and got to see at intervals throughout the con. She had some interesting perspectives on different cultures in fantasy lit, as did the rest of the panel. Now I’m really looking forward to reading the ARC of Amanda’s upcoming novel, Ink, to be released in July 2013.
I did not attend the banquet that night, and got the results of the World Fantasy awards on Twitter like most people because I was minding the DMP table in the dealers room in the last hours and helping pack it up and clear out.
There were lots of goodbyes that night to the friends old and new who were heading out that evening, there were beers with those who stayed over Sunday night, and then Monday morning I bid a sad goodbye to Gabrielle, Toronto, and WFC 2012. At least I have Ad Astra in Toronto to look forward to in April. See all of you then!
P.S. Those airline-employee-powered wheelchairs are like a magic pass through the airport. You really have to try one sometime. And, yes, I was a good girl and went to the doctor Tuesday afternoon to have my sprained ankle diagnosed and to acquire pretty new crutches so I can be ready to do it all again at the next con.
I’m really looking forward to it, particularly since my book launch took place in Toronto as well and I met a lot of great people who will also be at World Fantasy. Yay!
I imagine I’ll be spending much of my time at the Dragon Moon Press table in the dealer’s room where we’ll be selling, among other things, When the Villain Comes Home, featuring new fiction from Mercedes Lackey, who will be at the con and can sign your shiny new copy! There might be a few copies of Fighting Gravity too, and me with my trusty pen. So stop by and say hi, meet the other great Dragon Moon Press authors, maybe grab yourself a book or two.
Dragon Moon Press is also hosting a pub night Saturday November 3 at 7:00 pm at the nearby Fox and the Fiddle. Find all the details here. Mix and mingle with some great authors, editors, and just all around cool people.
I’ll be on the program. Friday morning you can find me here:
10:00 a.m. YOUNG ADULT URBAN FANTASY
How is Urban Fantasy written for a YA audience different from its grown-up counterpart? How sanitized, if at all, does something written for a YA audience have to be? How much sex/violence is, or isn’t, appropriate or expected? Are the stakes different in YA Urban Fantasy? A fascinating difference between adult and YA Urban Fantasy is that the former often features an established heroine/hero who is comfortable in a magical world, whereas the latter usually features protagonists who have just discovered their link to a world of magic, and are inexperienced within its boundaries. How does this affect/influence the characters, and the course of their journey?
Joel Sutherland (M), Holly Black, Isobelle Carmody, Charles de
Lint, Alyxandra Harvey, Leah Petersen.
I’m excited! My current WIP, when I’m not working on the sequel to Fighting Gravity, is a YA fantasy (not quite urban, but some interesting crossover elements are developing) and, of course, I ALWAYS have an opinion on stuff, so I’m looking forward to a great discussion and to meeting my fellow panelists.
So are you going to be there? What are you looking forward to the most? Make sure you say hi while you’re there. I’ll probably be the easiest person at the whole con to pick out of a crowd, what with the bald thing and all. Though I did knit myself some cool hats for the occasion. Not least of which is this one:
See you there!
Have you seen this lineup?
- Amy Boggs, Donald Maass
- Danielle Chiotti, Upstart Crow
- Josh Getzler, Hannigan Salky Getzler
- Weronika Janczuk, Franklin and Siegal
- Melissa Jeglinski, The Knight Agency
- Sarah LaPolla, Curtis Brown
- Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown
- Tricia Lawrence, Erin Murphy
- Lauren MacLeod, Strothman Agency
- Victoria Marini, Gelfman Schneider
- Vickie Motter, Andrea Hurst
- Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy
- Tamar Rydzinski, Laura Dail
- Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, Larsen Pomada
- Tina Wexler, ICM Talent
Think you’d like one or several of these agents salivating over your novel, fighting other agents (hair pulling and bitch-slapping optional) just to get their hands on your full manuscript first?
Then GET IN THERE!
There’s still time to enter and, if you have a completed manuscript, YA or Adult (anything but erotica) then you’ll kick yourself if you don’t at least try to get involved in this. There are deadlines all through October and November leading up to the big event in December.
Ugh. Loglines. Authoress over at Miss Snark’s First Victim is running the pre-Baker’s Dozen logline critique sessions right now and I’ve been reading and adding my two cents and I’m reminded of how much query and logline writing sucks balls. So I’m thinking a concrete example of how you can go wrong, and then distill it down to something right, might help others going through this hell.
So what’s a logline? Essentially, it’s the pitch for your book distilled to one single sentence. Holy… Well, like most people, I started from the query and worked down. Want to see?
Now, I’ve never publicly owned some of this because it’s so embarrassing. But, in the spirit of helping others, and because this way you can laugh at me when I can’t see you doing it, I’ve decided to share my full novel-pitch evolution. That’s right, you get to see the bad stuff I actually put my name on and emailed to people.
Disclaimer: I’m not showing you the first one I wrote, or even the tenth. The very, very first stuff was pure garbage. Even I knew that. I worked and worked it until I got one I thought was pretty good. Here it is:
You can never trust anyone in authority. Jacob Dawes always knew that; but he fell in love with the Emperor anyway. The dangerous mess his life has become really is his own fault.
Jacob is nothing and no one in the Intergalactic Empire where birth, wealth, and social status mean everything. But when his incredible genius is identified, he becomes a valuable commodity to the Empire and he’s taken to the Imperial Intellectual Complex.
The Empire may want him, in spite of his origins, but the scientists and scholars at The Complex don’t. His groundbreaking discoveries in physics overcome prejudice, and earn him the favor – and friendship – of the Emperor.
In time, the friendship becomes more and Jacob, cynical and wary of anyone in power, is now the Emperor’s lover.
The Emperor’s favor isn’t a protection, and Jacob soon finds himself embroiled in dangerous political games he’s ill-equipped to play that may cost him the man he loves, and even his life.
Wow, that’s long. Well, it’s a complex world and a complex character with complex problems. There’s only so much you can cut out, right? Here it was after I got some seriously good quality (and professional) help with it. This is the version that I queried with that led to the sale of the book:
Jacob Dawes’ scientific genius got him out of the slums and into the Emperor’s bed; but when a very public mistake gives his rivals an opportunity to be rid of him, Jacob discovers that fighting his own execution would mean betraying the man he loves.
Well that’s a bit less, isn’t it. Barely even a pitch, more like a logline. It got me a book deal, though.
Here’s the back cover copy of the published book:
When Jacob Dawes is Selected for the Imperial Intellectual Complex as a child, he’s catapulted from the poverty-stricken slums of his birth into a world where his status as an unclass is something no one can forget, or forgive. His growing scientific renown draws the attention of the emperor, a young man Jacob’s own age, and they find themselves drawn to each other in an unlikely, and ill-advised relationship. Jacob may have won the emperor’s heart, but it’s no protection when he’s accused of treason. And fighting his own execution would mean betraying the man he loves.
Here’s my editor-approved logline:
A brilliant young physicist is accused of treason; to fight for his own life, he’ll have to betray his lover, the Emperor.
Let’s be clear, I didn’t come up with that one, that was the combined effort of my editor and another author who is actually good at this stuff. I COULD NOT get the above back cover copy distilled to one sentence. What about all the stuff about his past? That’s Important! What about why he was ever in danger in the first place? That’s Important! What about the setting? That’s Important!
Well, sure. But that’s for the “oh, tell me more” version of a pitch, or the one you use when you’re querying. That’s not what a logline is. You often hear it called the elevator pitch. You find yourself on the elevator with your dream agent and she asks what your book’s about. That’s not the time to recite your full query from heart. That’s where you use a logline.
What do you NEED in a logline?
Character, conflict, decision, stakes.
A brilliant young physicist is accused of treason; to fight for his own life, he’ll have to betray his lover, the Emperor.
Character: Brilliant young physicist.
Conflict: Accused of treason.
Decision: Betray the man he loves or not.
It can feel impossible to convey what is unique and interesting about your story without at least some of the trimmings. But there’s no room for that in a logline. Every word counts. Make one word and the one you put next to it convey whole volumes of information. Well you can do that, right? That’s what you do! You’re a writer!
Yes, but one of the hard things about writing a logline isn’t that you don’t know how to write a sentence, it’s that you have to learn to see down to the bare bones of your own story and find the very, very few things that truly matter in conveying an idea of the story in one breath. That’s really really hard for the writer because you are so close to the story you usually can’t see it clearly. That’s why things like Authoress’s logline critique sessions are so helpful! It’s HARD to be told you’re wrong, that what you worked SO HARD on doesn’t work, that your beloved Very Important details aren’t important to anyone but you.
Get used to it. Once you sell the book, you get to do that over and over and over again. For a living.
And good luck!
(Check out, too, Authoress’s own post on loglines. As usual, the comments from the community are helpful as well. Don’t skip them.)