Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Writer Wednesday: Featuring Steve Cordero

I'm so over the moon excited to share this writer with you. I met Steve last year while wandering around the writing boards. He's extremely supportive, talented and an all around nice guy. In all of our communication, he's always put forth a positive attitude, a word of encouragement, or a virtual (((hug))). Writing can often be a lonely endeavor, especially when the road to publication becomes far too long. This week he's taken one more step toward his goal and landed an agent! Please join me in offering a heartfelt...


Now for more about Steve straight from the writer's pen...

"Steve Cordero has an eclectic taste in reading and writing, which falls under the umbrella term 'commercial fiction.' He loves, in no particular order, YA, thrillers, historicals, fantasy, and scifi. He’s written seven books. The first was a monster of a historical set in Ancient Rome weighing in at 250,000 words which he queried with no success (not surprising) in 2003. He put that beast on a diet and turned it into two distinct books which he queried separately. He garnered some requests, but nothing panned out. Never smart enough to quit, Steve wrote his fourth novel, a biblical thriller, that garnered even more requests but, alas, no offer of rep. He decided to try his hand at scifi, writing a dystopian thriller. There were more near-misses on that one. Admittedly disheartened, he decided to change his fortunes and plunge headfirst into YA. He wrote two books, the first a YA urban fantasy and the second a YA high fantasy which piqued the interest of John Rudolph of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management and Steve signed with John this week."

To learn more about Steve visit his main website at

Or find him tweeting, blogging or on facebook...

Twitter Bird Blogger Logo Facebook Logo on a Tea Cup

Saturday, June 25, 2011

First Page Contest: Critique Time

Another great contest brought to you by the fabulous Shelley Watters. In honor of her birthday (and a big Happy Birthday to her) she's giving her readers a gift (her birthday and she gives her readers a gift, shows her awesomeness). The gift, you ask? A chance to receive a full request with a partial critique from literary agent, Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider Literary Agency.

To enter the contest, Yelena Casale (my co-writer) and I need your help! We're posting the first 250 words up for critique. You'll notice this opening page looks nothing like the one we entered in another competition a few months back. Why? Well, we decided to go with our original opening, and we couldn't be happier. However, we entered Shelley's last competition for the first 250 and got some great feedback on this version. We've incorporated a few tweaks. But, that doesn't mean it's perfect. So, if you think we should change something or keep working at it, we want to hear from you. (If you want to tell us how wonderful it is, well, we like that too!) Either way, we're looking forward to your comments. Fire away!

Genre: Urban Fantasy with strong romantic elements
Word Count: 80k

The scream stuck in his throat, a foreign sound he couldn’t set free. The surrounding quiet enfolded him, ironically deafening in its intensity. Air hissed through his gritted teeth as he struggled for control.

City lights, the only sign of life, shimmered in the distance, mocking his pain. No other creature stirred in this desolate place. It was as if humans and animals alike felt the dangerous current in the air and chose to stay away. Only the full moon reflected in the water, an indifferent observer to his torment.

Blazing pain struck, sweeping through his body like a wild fire. He knelt at the edge of the dark water, watching his muscles contract beneath smooth skin. With a shaking hand, he reached back to touch the empty space by his shoulder blades. He grunted at the contact, an alien noise in the absolute silence of the night.

He caught his fragmented image through the water’s ripples. His body stilled as the lake’s surface calmed, bringing his reflection into view. The face that stared back at him, usually so stoic, now contorted in agony. His eyes held wildness, highlighted by a mess of disheveled dark hair, damp with perspiration. Nothing remained of the control, of the precious order that had been the pinnacle of his existence.

The light autumn breeze cooled his naked body but offered little relief. His blood burned from the inside out. The scorching fire threatened to consume him. Thoughts escaped him as havoc racked his soul.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Freaky Friday: Battle Royale

Ok, so technically not a horror movie, but this film has enough gore and plot twists to keep horror buffs happy. It’s a 2000 Japanese flick based on the 1999 book of the same name by Koushun Takami. It also has been adapted to a manga.

With the rise of dystopia, especially in YA literature, this movie would easily fit into the thriving market. Yet, it came out a decade before the “craze”. Primal visual effects, above the bar acting, and a well-constructed plot will make you forget that you’re reading subtitles. (Yes, I’m telling you to watch it with subtitles. If my husband can do it AND end up loving the movie, you can too.)
Battle Royale Director's Cut Cover
After the economy collapsed in Japan, in a not so distant future, adults lost their jobs and students boycotted schools. The government quickly became mistrusting of its populace and decides to “keep them in line” by condemning a ninth grade class each year to participate in Battle Royale. Stranded on an island, the students are given weapons to kill each other. Last student standing wins and stays alive. With collars around their fragile necks ready to detonate at the slightest rebellion, the students are forced to play the game while being filmed in a twisted version of reality TV.
Battle Royale Promo Movie Poster
The story begins inside of a ninth grade classroom. Through distinct camera shots, we learn a bit about each of the students and the main players of the Battle Royal. Quick snippets into their lives show the value of human life, despite the students’ pasts, and make us even more horrified at the thought they’ll be facing death by each other’s hands.

I’ve watched the film several times over the years and it is always one that stays with me. Breaking the boundaries of the horror or action genres, it delves deeper into the nature of the human psyche.

Rating: A+

P.S. If you’re a Suzanne Collins’ HUNGER GAMES fan like me, you’ll love this film.

P.S.S. An American remake of the film was reported to be in the works in 2006. However, following the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, the project was put on hold. Personally, I hope it stays on hold forever.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Writer Wednesdays: The Best of the Best in Blogging Writers

In honor of the official start of Writer Wednesday on the blog, I’ve decided to highlight some of my favorite blogging writers.

Heather McCorkle

Blogging at Heather’s Odyssey and Critique Sisters Corner, co-founder of the #WritersRoad Twitter chat on Mondays 6pm PST, she is gracious, humble, and a phenomenal writer. She is a huge supporter of fellow writers and a social networking queen. Writing in many sub-genres of YA fantasy, her debut book, THE SECRET OF SPRUCE KNOLL will be coming out in the Fall. If you haven’t checked her out, be sure to tune in to her blog’s Friday: Creature Feature to get a sense of her unique authorial voice.

TS Tate

How could I not mention a fellow Tee? Blogging at TS Tate, co-founder of the #WritersRoad chat (see above for details), she inspires others with her quirky sense of humor and her positive outlook on the writing journey. One of my favorite posts from her came in May, entitled “Ten Things That I Have Learned” and found here. In this post, you’ll get a sense of exactly how great she is and why she is one to watch. I cannot wait for her work to be published.

Roni Loren

A romance author, self-proclaimed fiction groupie and all around remarkable person, she blogs at Fiction Groupie MWF, Roni Loren T-TH, and for the 18+ crowd on Tumblr. Her posts offer stellar insight into the writing world from craft to publication. Her debut novel, CRASH INTO YOU, will be published by Berkley Heat early next year.

Shelley Watters

The champion of writers’ contests! Blogging at Is It Hot In Here Or Is It This Book?, she writes romance for YA and adults. She signed with a spectacular agent back in February and I hope to see her books in print soon. Check out her blog for content, contests and more.

Yelena Casale

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mentioning my fabulous writing partner. Blogging at Yelena Casale’s Blog, she gives motivation, support and encouragement not only to me, but also to many writers in the community. Her blog mixes various elements of her life (including karate), and never fails to promote a positive and uplifting attitude. Our joint project, Blood Bond, is a finalist in the CFRWA’s Touch of Magic competition and seeking representation. Her individual projects are works in progress that I am on pins and needles to see complete.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Freaky Friday: All the Horror Films You Can Handle

*Warning: This is not for the faint of heart.

In honor of my new blog focus, I give you the first in my series of non-writerly posts. Today I’m letting you in behind the scenes to one of my hobbies – horror movies! I LOVE cheesy, campy, over-the-top straight-to-dvd horror films. Whether they creep me out or make me laugh, I can’t get enough. And if there’s sequels...Even better! Leprechauns in space? Check. Radioactive waste with a life of its own? Heck yes! 

This Week’s Freaky Friday Pick... DARK HOUSE. 

Dark House Movie Poster

A 2009, 85 minute ride through a technologically enhanced haunted house. I saw this last week while skimming the TV’s dead zone – you know, those high numbered channels nobody watches. The title caught my attention and I squealed in delight as I read the description...

“A troupe of actors hired for a haunted house attraction soon find that they are working in a true house of horror.” –
How could I resist? The multi clich├ęs in that single sentence alone drew me in. When I discovered that the “haunted house” would be rigged with completely realist 3-D holographic images (can you say Star Trek, anyone?) the nerd inside me screamed for attention. Since I’ve been talking to my husband about the need – NEED – for holographic television for years, this was the perfect tie in! (By the way, my prediction is 10 years on the holographic TVs, mark my words, I was right about Tivo and DVRs. J Fore more on this future technology go HERE)

The beginning started out with a little girl sneaking into a fairly spooky Victorian house. Despite protests from her friends, she walks inside alone and finds a bloodbath. Children are discarded around the house like trash. In the kitchen, a lone woman stands with one hand down a garbage compactor, her other hand mangled.

Flash forward fourteen years later. We find the main actress in a college classroom studying to guessed it, an actress. Cut this with scenes of her at the therapist’s office. Some mumbo jumbo about not being able to act on her meds, doc recommend she return to scene of her fears, blah blah blah. It doesn’t get good until we get back to that house. So, how do the writers get her there? Easy...
Magician pulls rabbit out of his hat
A circus ringmaster / sleazy salesman, our plot progresser, (yes, I made up that word, but it works) enters her acting class and announces that he’s turning the Victorian house into a special attraction – a haunted house. Main actress seizes the opportunity to face her fears with her friends and convinces classmates to go. Now onto the good stuff...

The entire house is rigged by an anti-social technological genius who gives us the scariest, goriest images we can imagine in a “controlled” 3-D environment. Unfortunately, the spirit of the dead murderess still haunts the house and places a “virus” in the computer system. It crashes, giving her total control of the system. The snafu, of course, how can holographic images commit murder? Well, duh, she has super ghostly powers, she can make them solid!

The film has more plot holes than a piece of cheese eaten by a mouse just off a hunger strike, but that doesn’t stop it from having a special place in my Campy Horror Movie Hall of Fame.  The critics on IMDB give this 4.8 out of 10, but I say it deserves a solid B-. The technological concept (though, it lacked any founding in science) and the special effects (who doesn’t appreciate computerized blood) bring up the value. The acting wasn’t great, but I’ve seen far worse, and the gothic friend/witch had the perfect amount of dry sarcasm to win me over. So, if you like your horror funny with a tinge of the “Ew” and “Cool” factors than this one is for you.

Rating: B-

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

YA and Romance PitchFest: Seven Agents Give Feedback

Pitch University in conjunction with Romance University is hosting a weeklong PitchFest, June 19 - 25. But, get those submissions in early! From June 12 – June 19, submit your video pitch for feedback from all agents, or a query to one agent for feedback.
Pitch Fest Logo
With RWA Nationals in NYC right around the corner, this is a perfect opportunity to practice your pitch. If the agents like it, they may even request material BEFORE the conference. How cool is that?

In addition, the PitchFest is open to YA writers of all genres. If you don’t have a manuscript ready, no worries! You can do a practice pitch and still get feedback.

For more details go HERE. But, hurry, the sooner, you get in your entry, the better chance you have. Videos and queries are capped, so don’t delay!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Ch..Ch...Changes! Switching it Up!

After reading the article by Kristen Lamb, entitled "Sacred Cow-Tipping–Why Writers Blogging About Writing is Bad," I became inspired. She discusses the necessity for writers to break out of their comfort zone and discuss more than just writing on their blogs. Filled with adrenaline, I took a long look at my blog and discovered a disappointing pattern. All of the posts were for writers. Without meaning to, I've created a “Writer's Only” atmosphere. In doing so, I've excluded many of my friends and readers. In my defense, I started the blog as a way of expressing my journey as a writer. Yet, as I mentioned in one of my favorite posts at the beginning of this journey, writing is not all that I know
Not Writers Only
Today I’m turning over a new leaf. The title of the blog has changed and with it the format. I’m committed to bringing many pieces of my life to the table. You’ll still see posts for writers, offering my experiences and advice. However, you’ll see a bunch of other fun stuff too. Everything from the wacky tales of my family, Corgi stories about my dog, cheesy horror movie reviews, upcoming books, my favorites in fiction and film, contests and more.

Pie chart of new blog content
I promise to continue the story of my writing journey, but this time it is going to be a multifaceted, no holds barred account. I’m at heart a writer. Yet, now, I’m ready to tell the whole story. Stick with me, dear readers, it’s going to be a helluva ride!

Friday, June 3, 2011

To Think or Not To Think...Brain Overload

We – the community of collective writers - think too much. In the shower, in the grocery store, in the car, on a train, in a plane, well you get the idea. We think constantly, incessantly, unstoppably about our writing. Some days it’s character traits, names, motivations, etc. Other days, it’s plot points or holes or I don’t know where the hell this story is going. And my absolute worse days, the oh my God I finished my WIP, it’s become the first draft and now I have to – gulp –revise! *cue running and screaming* It’s exhausting! So here’s my question...
Question Mark in Orange Circle

Do you ever want to tell your brain to shut up? I imagine a cage match with me in one corner and a monstrous sized brain in the other. I can’t fight it because I’m afraid I’ll damage it beyond repair. So, I run, but I can never run far enough or fast enough. You can’t run from your own mind.
Cartoon Brain chasing a Cartoon Girl
Most days I feel blessed and thankful for by my brain, or more specifically, my imagination. However, it doesn’t mean it’s easy to deal with all the time. Sometimes I need a break, a chance to be inside my head without wanting to grab the nearest pen and jot down that can’t miss idea. What about you, out there, scribbling away? Do you ever need a break from your “writerly” self?