July TCWT Blog Chain

Good Afternoon Readers 🙂  I’m here today as a part of the TCWT July Blog Chain.  I can honestly say this is one of the best characterization exercises I’ve ever done, all my characters are going to a therapy session now (yes, even…especially you Aziza).  The prompt is below, enjoy the scene!  Oh an btw, the character is the MC of my WIP, THE ALEX DE VEGA CHRONICLES.

“Take any character from one of your books and put them in a therapy session. Write a (short!) scene about what happens. (You can include multiple characters and make it a group therapy session.)”

The setting: A cool gray-painted office with a desk and small round table with chairs.  

“Alexandra,” said the middle-aged woman with bright red hair.  She nodded to the droid in the room.  It flipped open a keypad, and punched in a code.  On the wall behind the woman a screen app

eared revealing a 3D image of young girl of no more than twelve.

Across from the woman was the very girl pictured on the screen.  She was slouched low in the cushioned chair that enveloped her making her seem smaller than she was.  She didn’t like to feel small.

“Alex,” said the girl.  She blew a loose strand of her brown hair from her face.

“Excuse me,” said the woman, removing her black-rimmed glasses.  Alex assumed the woman liked old fashion stuff; she’d only seen lenses like that in museums.

“It’s Alex not Alexandra.”  The young girl leaned forward, tightening her grip on the chair’s arms.

“Yes, well your file says Alexandra so—

“Why am I here?”  snapped the girl.

“You know why you’re here, Alexandr—

“I want you to tell me.”

The woman sighed; they did say she’d be a difficult one to break.  “As a result of your background, the agency would like you to be reviewed before sending you into the field.  It’s standard procedure.”

“Really?” asked Alex.   “Because the last time I checked, I was the agency’s only hope.  I didn’t ask to be recruited.  I’m missing school for this.”

The woman flicked her hand and the screen changed.  “Alexandra de Vega.  Age 12.  You’ve missed thirty days of schools so far, and it’s only been in session for a few months.  The only reason you haven’t been expelled is you never miss more than a third of the day.”

Alex laughed.  “Clever me.  Middle school is boring.”

“You’ve been in our system since you turned nine.  Why is that Alex?  I also see your sist—

Alex leaped forward until she was inches away from the woman’s face.  The droid moved to restrain her but the woman shook her head, and the droid stepped back.   “Don’t talk about her,” said Alex.  “Don’t you dare utter her name.”

The woman smiled.  “Ah so you’re not so tough after all.  Alexandra, daughter of Maximilian Atlantis II’s leading crime lord of the de Vega crime family.  Do you see yourself going anywhere, Alex?”

When the woman said her name, it sent shivers through her body.  “Actually,” said Alex.  “You can just call me Alexandra.”

“You think you’re a criminal Alex,” said the woman, drawing out every syllable.  “You’re not.  Stealing a couple antiques, cars, and virtual reality games, reprogramming droids to tickle your teachers?  Your father would be ashamed.”

Alex rolled her eyes.  “Tell me something I don’t know, lady.  My father has my dufus brother and if they want to go around casing things together who cares.  To thine own self be true.  Well, here I am.  This.  Is.  Me.  I don’t see you trying to recruit either of them.”

“Shakespeare,” said the woman, raising her eyebrows.  “I didn’t think they still read that in schools.”

“They don’t,” said Alex.  “Like I said, school is boring.  It’s not worth my time.”

“I see,” said the woman, locking her hands together.  “Now Alex about your mothe—

Alex cocked her head to the side.  “That’s a nice ring you have.”  Alex’s brown eyes grew bright.

“Ah, yes,” said the woman, smiling distantly.  “It’s an old mood regulating ring my grandmother gave me.”

“I didn’t think they sold those anymore.”

“They don’t,” said the woman, holding her hand up to get a better look the ring that kept flickering between a light yellow to a bright red.

Alex leaned forward and grinned.  “I suppose it would be a pity if it were to go missing.”

Unconsciously, the woman leaned back in her chair.  “You would—

“I think we’re done here then,” said Alex, rising out of the chair.

The woman stood and yelled, “The session isn’t over yet.  I’m supposed to clear you for the miss—

“Listen,” said Alex, pivoting on her heels.  “You need me.  If you didn’t you and I wouldn’t be having this conversation.  So obviously no one thinks I’m that dangerous because I’d still be locked in the cell.”

Alex walked to the door only stopping once she reached it.  “I’m a de Vega,” said Alex, without turning around.  “de Vega’s never forget.”

As the door creaked to a close behind her, the woman sank in her chair.  Wiping the sweat from her brow, she exhaled.  “Close file,” she said aloud.

A robotic voice echoed from the screen, “Do you authorize Patient 2487269 for fieldwork?”

“Yes,” said the woman, placing a hand over her beating heart.  It was time to find a new job.

Check out the other participants:

July 5th – http://novelexemplar.wordpress.com/

July 6th – http://veewhoa.wordpress.com/

July 7th – http://bloodoverithaca.wordpress.com/

July 8th – http://www.brookeharrison.com/

July 9th – http://themagicviolinist.blogspot.com/

July 10th – http://fida-islaih.blogspot.com/

July 11th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/

July 12th – http://maralaurey.wordpress.com/

July 13th – http://miriamjoywrites.wordpress.com/

July 14th – http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com/

July 15th – http://charleyrobson.blogspot.com/

July 16th – http://www.oyeahwrite.wordpress.com/

July 17th – http://insatiablebeforedeath.wordpress.com/

July 18th – http://www.indianawriterblog.wordpress.com/

July 19th – http://akwardlywriting.blogspot.com/

July 20th – http://alifeonmission.wordpress.com/

July 21st – http://whimsicallyours.com/

July 22nd – http://theteenagewriter.wordpress.com/

July 23rd – http://dreamerheadquarters.wordpress.com

July 24th – http://weirdalocity.wordpress.com/

July 25th – http://missalexandrinabrant.wordpress.com/

26th – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll be announcing the topic for next month’s chain.)

Have you ever tried giving your characters a therapy session?  It’s a lot of fun & can reveal some interesting things about their personality!

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

Advertisements

Interview with Teen Author Stefan Bachmann

Meet Stefan!  

He’s a fellow 19 year old writer who’s the author of  the MG novel THE PECULIAR :)

[IMG_2134.jpg]

Hello! My name is Stefan Bachmann, I’m 19,  I was born in the US, live in Switzerland, and wrote THE PECULIAR, which came out on September 18th from Greenwillow/HarperCollins and several other publishers around the world.

It’s a gothic/steampunk/faery fantasy set in an alternate 19th century where faeries and English have been forced to form a fragile society. This society is suddenly threatened when changelings begin appearing in the river, dead and covered in sinister red markings.  A young changeling named Bartholomew Kettle, and a spoiled aristocrat, set off on an adventure to right wrongs, save their lives and those of their families, and perhaps rescue their entire city . . .

What is the first story you remember writing?

A really, really terrible fan-fiction story based on The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings. I did a blog post about it at one point, so you can see the full extent of the bad. It had sticker illustrations. And typos.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When the book sold, about a year ago. I’d gotten a few short stories and flash fiction pieces (stories under 1,000 words) published before that, but a book feels so much bigger. I was very, very happy when I got the news.

How did you get the idea for your book?

I’ve always liked history, 19th century and English history especially, and after a while I got really into European folklore and steampunk as well. I suppose the premise came from wanting to write a book with all my favorite elements in it, which is what The Peculiar ended up being.

What is the best piece of constructive criticism you ever received?

It was probably a note from my editor next to a crossed-out sentence during the revision process. I’m not sure of the exact words she used, but it was something along the lines of“Your sentences have to mean things. They have to be necessary.” That sounds super obvious, but it’s so important. It’s important to delete things that aren’t necessary – words, sentences, scenes – and make sure everything in the book is relevant and ties in with something else. I always try to go through a book or story at least once and just get rid of everything that doesn’t need to be there. There’s usually a lot more than I expected.

How do you overcome “writer’s block” ? 

Writer’s block for me translates to “I don’t think I can do this, writing is hard, I’d rather watch a movie, maybe I’m not cut out for this after all.” So basically I just have to force myself to sit down and write. I write even if it’s all lame for the first hour. Because it gets better after that, and I can always go back and edit the first hour of junk.

Are you a full time writer?

I’m not. I might like to be someday, but right now I split my time between being a music student and a writer. Both are notoriously unstable professions, but I suppose this way I always have a different unstable profession to fall back on.

Coffee or tea?

Water.  (Such a rebel… )

Fun Fact about yourself most people don’t know?

I used to take rock-climbing lessons, and would scurry up vast artificial walls. This may not sound particularly fun, and it wasn’t, but if you know me now you’d never guess I did anything like that.

What was your writing & publishing process for your book like, from start to finish?

I started writing The Peculiar in 2010 when I was sixteen. I finished it in the fall of that year, polished it until December 2010, and then sent off my very first query to a UK literary agency. I waited for three months. I got my first rejection. That rejection was very, very good for me. I polished the manuscript, queried a different agency, was rejected again,  polished all through 2011, and on my tenth query, Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency offered to represent me. After a quick round of edits, she submitted the manuscript to publishers in  New York. We had a great response, and the book went to auction one week later with several large houses competing for it. Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, won the auction, and now I’m with them. They’re great, and my editor is the best.  I feel very lucky to be published by them.

What is some advice you would impart to teen writers who wish to be published?

Read a lot, write a lot, always try to improve. And don’t pay attention to people who tell you you should wait, or that teenagers are awful writers and shouldn’t bother. Everyone is terrible at first, adults, too, but that’s no reason not to start early and work to become better.

If you could have breakfast with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and what would you eat?

I don’t think I’d much enjoy having breakfast with a dead person, so I’d have to say breakfast with John Williams of film music fame. And we’d eat CAKE, of course, because this is John Williams.

What is the next book you want to write?

I just handed in THE PECULIAR’S sequel, so once revisions on that are done I have a bunch of other ideas buzzing around that I’m looking forward to working on. I’d like to try some YA, and maybe another middle grade, a standalone this time. We’ll see!

Last words???

Thanks for having me on the blog! 🙂

Thank you Stefan, and best of luck with your two “unstable” professions 🙂  Thanks for the great advice!

Check out the other Teens Can Write TOO! week posts!

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

Interview with YA Writer Stephanie Diaz

Meet Stephanie who, at the time of this interview, was a fellow 19 year old writer and is a college student.  She’s now 20!!! Happy belated birthday.  But for the purpose of Teens Can Write TOO! Week she’s a writer who has some great words of wisdom for us all 🙂

[steph7.jpg]

I’m Stephanie, a 19-year-old writer (I’ll be 20 on October 7!) born and raised in Southern California. The book that got me my agent and will be on sub pretty soon is a YA sci-fi called Extraction. It’s about a girl named Clementine who wins an escape from a settlement on a planet where the moon is poisonous and children are killed off when they turn twenty. Only, she has to leave a boy who’s very special to her behind.

UPDATE: EXTRACTION sold to St. Martin’s Griffin and will be published on July 22, 2014. So Stephanie’s going to be a published author, YAY, I can’t wait to read it!!! (you can add it to Goodreads, here!)

Enjoy the interview 🙂

 What is your favorite place to write?

I’m constantly struggling with finding places to write where I won’t be distracted by the internet! My bedroom is nice. But I really wish I had access to an ocean cave or a glass room in the middle of a forest (preferably during a storm). Somewhere far away and pretty.

 What is the first story you remember writing?

A YA fantasy about a girl who discovers a magical world of fairies and elves hidden by the lake in her neighborhood.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I can’t quite remember the first time, but by third grade I was writing stories all the time.

If you could be any character from a book, movie, play, or musical who would it be and why?

I’d be Tris Prior from Divergent, because she’s brave. 

When & why did you start writing?

I’ve been writing since I was so young, it feels like I was born with a need for words and stories ingrained in my brain. I’ve stuck with them because they’re my release and my comfort. 

How do you overcome “writer’s block” ? 

Usually it means there’s something not quite right about what I’ve written recently, or the way the plot is headed. So, I go back to the last point where things were working, and then I try to think of a brand-new, inspiring place to head from there.

Are you a full time writer…why/why not?

I study film production at San Diego State University, so sadly I can’t write full time yet. I hope someday!

Coffee or tea?

Tea! (wild berry and chai are my favorites) 

Fun Fact about yourself most people don’t know?

I sing and play guitar. I have some videos of original songs up on youtube. 😛 

How did you find a literary agent?

I found my lovely agent, Alison Fargis of Stonesong (without whom Extraction would not be anywhere near what it’s become), through the good old querying process. I had a lot of help from writer friends and a few other supportive agents along the way. 

–how long did it take?

I signed with Alison six months to the day after I sent my first query letter for Extraction. But I queried two other manuscripts in previous years—the first when I was 13. All in all, it took me six years of writing/revising/querying.

–what was querying like for you?

With Extraction, I received two revise-and-requests from agents before Alison read my manuscript. So, the six months of querying were fraught with periods of intense revisions. Some days I’d feel like Extraction was “the one,” while on others I was exhausted and ready to turn my attention to a new manuscript. I did garner a number of requests—26 in all, out of about 130 queries—and those kept me going. But I was close to giving up at times, and was never more so than on the day I received a rejection letter for my second R&R. 

The next day I got an email from a different agent asking when a good time would be to talk on the phone. A week later, after four offers of representation and a weekend of hair-pulling/nail-biting, I signed with Alison. 🙂

 What is some advice you would impart to teen writers who wish to be published?

Remember that you’re young and you have lots of years ahead of you. Keep writing, no matter what. And take time to live and enjoy the world. 🙂

 If you had/have an animal spirit which animal(s) would it be…why?

Either a bear or a sea otter.  They’ve always been my favorites.

 What is your favorite childhood book and/or author?

It’s a tie between The Giver by Lois Lowry and The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.

What is the next book you want to write?

To cope with my impatience/worry about the impending submission process for Extraction, I’m working on a YA fantasy that’s Pirates of the Caribbean meets Shadow and Bone, with dragons. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by Stephanie, best writing wishes to you 🙂 I look forward to seeing your books in stores!

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

Interview with Teen Writer Amy Zhang

Hello Readers,

Today, as a part of Teens Can Write TOO! Week, I would like to introduce you to Amy Zhang, she’s an agented writer & a lit agent intern who’s 16!  She also has a great sense of humor 🙂

Update (5/27/14): Amy’s debut, Falling into Place, is out September 9th from Greenwillow/HarperCollins! You can preorder it here: IndieBound | B&N | Amazon

amy-zhang

Hi! I’m Amy, sixteen, represented by Emily Keyes of the L. Perkins Agency Foreword Literary.

My YA fantasy on subs, WILDFLOWER, is about a girl who isn’t sure why she’s still alive, a boy who believes that love is a weakness, and the pointless annual Wars that bring them together. There’s some blood and some dying and some kissing and some backstabbing. I’m also revising a very different kind of fantasy, tentatively titled BENEATH DISQUIET STARS, about a girl who lost her name and was given a promise: that very soon she would lose her life as well, or her first love would lose his.

 How did you find a literary agent?

 I queried.

 Haha. Well, I queried and was rejected and had basically no idea what I was doing, at first. I queried about forty agents and got around seven requests, and then I stopped for a while to do revisions on my manuscript. The second time, I actually did my homework—I researched, I made a list of agents who I thought best fit my manuscript, and I personalized each query. I sent out nine queries, got four requests, and had an offer within a week.

 I actually saw the email with the offer during school, while I should have been doing research for a history project. Being the suave, collected person I was, I read the email and promptly fell out of my chair. And then, when everybody turned to look at me, I had to say that I’d found a particularly interesting piece of information on Haiti’s government.

 And I had, um, kind of neglected to tell my agent that I was technically a minor until she called. Which was….awkward. And I learned that on top of being suave and collected, I was also an excellent conversationalist.

 Agent: “So, do you mind if I ask how old you are?”

 Me: “Oh…um…hey, yeah, about that…I mean, I meant to mention it earlier…uh…erm…I’m like, kind of in high school? A little bit?

 *headdesk*

 When and why did you start writing?

 I started writing in eighth grade, when I moved from St. Louis, Missouri, to some teensy, cow-surrounded town in Wisconsin. The culture shock kind of killed my soul a little bit. There were only 7,000 people in the town (who had all known each other since the moment they’d left the womb), only one movie theater, and only one mall which was really too pitiful to be called a mall at all. Also, my transcripts had gotten messed up when I changed schools, so I ended up taking Algebra twice, an eighth-grade science class instead of Biology, and none of the honors classes I was supposed to take. So, I had a lot of time and nowhere to spend it.

 I was also in kind of a dark place at the time. I disliked my new friends because they weren’t my old ones, and I was angry with my parents for making us move. To Wisconsin, of all places (have I mentioned that I hate milk? Detest it. Not a bit fan of cows, either). I started writing because I was bored, kept writing because I needed to escape, and am still writing because somewhere along the way, I fell in love with the words.

 Have you had any challenges directly related to being a teen writer?

 Gosh, yes. I guess the biggest one is trying to find the time to write. I try to write at least ten hours a week, but the problem is that I’m fairly involved at school and in my community. It was manageable until this year. Frankly, I was too ambitious. I thought I could take all of my APs and maintain my grades keep my leadership positions in all of my clubs and be the editor-in-chief of our newspaper and the captain of our Forensics team and play sports and piano and violin and be a literary intern and study for SATs and ACTs and blog and kind of keep up my social life and still write. But to do that, I usually have to get up around 4:00 to get in two hours of writing before school. Unfortunately, I rarely get home from school before six, and usually get to bed around twelve.

 Yeah. So I have sleeping marathons on weekends and chug caffeine like there’s no tomorrow. Carpe diem, right?

 Another thing is that I try very, very hard to keep my writing life and um, the rest of my life separate. I can honestly count the number of people who know me personally and are also aware that I write on my fingers. Writing is something I love so much that I’m honestly terrified to talk about it with people I know.

 Why do you wish to be a traditional author?

 Honestly, I guess my main reason is that I don’t want to be marginalized by my age. I didn’t mention my age in any step of the querying process because I wanted to get signed for my work. I don’t want the fact that I’m sixteen to matter.

 How do you overcome “writer’s block”?

 Ha. I don’t.

 Sometimes I write music for my manuscripts, or draw maps, or illustrate scenes. I try to submerge myself in the world I’ve built in my head, and that usually gets me back on track. Or I just sit and twiddle my thumbs.

 What is your favorite childhood book and/or author?

 Charlotte’s Web, the first book that made me cry. The Magic Tree House Series, which first showed me that words could be teleporters and time machines and spells. Harry Potter, the first series I fell in love with. The Series of Unfortunate Events, which broke my heart. Anne of Green Gables, which mended it. The Little Princess, The Little House on the Prairie, The Secret Garden…and I could go on, but I just realized that the question asked for ONE book/author, and I totally just listed like, ten. Oops.

 Fun fact about yourself most people don’t know?

 English wasn’t my first language. I know, weird, right? I was born in China, and moved to America with my parents when I was three.

 If you could have breakfast with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and what would you eat?

 I’d like to have breakfast with Alan Menken and Herman Ashman, the two guys that wrote music and lyrics for Disney. We’d eat chocolate-covered bacon and muffins.

 Imagine you are writing a memoir…what is its title?

 Thumbs.

 Coffee or Tea?

 It really depends on the day. I usually go with tea, but if I’m legitimately three seconds away from collapsing into an unconscious, drooling heap (and let’s face it, that’s about every other morning), then I’d probably get coffee, which seems to wake me up faster.

 Advice to teen writers who wish to be published?

 Never give up. A lot of people are going to tell you that you can’t. A lot of people are going to say “no.” But it only takes one yes.

 Thanks for stopping by Amy!  Best of luck in your writing endevours…Readers: keep an eye out for this teen writer on bestseller lists in the near future 🙂

You can connect with Amy on her Twitter: @EncoreUnReveur or on her blog: A Story of a Dreamer

Also writers be sure to enter your completed manuscript in these October Pitch Contests.  And everyone be sure to enter these book giveaways 🙂

Whimsically Yours,

PnC