What’s Up Wednesday :)

wuwspringWhat’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk.  If you want to participate you should link your What’s Up Wednesday posts to the list on Jaime’s blog so that we can all stop by and say, “Hi!” It’s a great way to connect with other writers!

What I’m Reading

photo (4)I received an ARC of Brandy Colbert’s YA Contemporary debut, POINTE, and I’m finishing it up now. It’s such a beautifully written book and the author captures teens so realistically. Also, it focuses a lot around dance, and as someone who did theater forever & almost pursued it professionally (thanks goodness I didn’t) I love performance arts books as I find I can really get into the character’s head because I understood the pressures and the hustle and bustle.

Also, it’s got some great suspense…this is a book that keeps you flipping the pages.

What I’m Writing

Thanks to YABbootcamp, Team Defiance and the other participants have been keeping me accountable with my writing!

I’ve started revisions on what was my NA Urban Fantasy, but is now my YA Urban Fantasy. The revised book blurb is below, but I changed it from NA to YA, because I really enjoy YA. I like writing for that age group and something about it being NA felt too weird for me as I’m in that age group. I started rewriting it as YA and everything started to click in that way that when you’re reading over your own work you get shivers. So excited!!

THE UNALIGNED (The Sup Files #1) - When sixteen-year-old Bria Dauphine sets up shop as a freelance detective she figures, with her abilities, it’ll be easy money and will allow her to save more towards college than working at the local coffee shop—the only job she can get—would. Unfortunately, most of the cases she receives are requests from old ladies asking to her to find their cats, and old ladies don’t pay much, if at all.

But, when her best friend, a witch-in-training, goes missing, on the day of her claiming ceremony—the ceremony that decides whether she’ll belong to the side of the Light or the Dark supernaturals, Bria is New Orleans P.D.’s first go to gal because not only is she unaligned, meaning she’s free to go anywhere she pleases, she’s the best–well, technically, the only–clairvoyant in town. If she can get that nose of hers to work right.

To find her friend, and keep herself from another year staffing the front desk at her father’s hedge fund–a death sentence in itself–Bria teams up with Ty, a human whose life she saves on the first day of school. Together, it’ll be up to them to find the killer, before the case goes public and uncover the truth about Bria’s mother’s recent death—a truth on which the success of their case hinges. That is, of course, if the killer doesn’t find them first.

So much for easy money.

(Status: Rewriting/Revising - YA Urban Fantasy – think Veronica Mars meets The Dresden Files & Lost Girl)

You can view the inspirational Pinterest board here: http://www.pinterest.com/patrice93/the-sup-files/ (It’s one of my finest/favorite ones)

What Else I’ve Been Doing

elections spamMy college just had College Government Elections (which are actually taken quite seriously/run like real campaigns here) and being that I’m the president of our black student union and I’m the Multicultural Presidents Rep, I ended up on Elections Committee. It was a fun/stressful past couple weeks monitoring the candidates, coming up with the rules, etc…, but it’s over and I don’t have to be neutral anymore and my friend won CG President!

Other than that I’m working on freeing my life. I’ve been really busy this semester and last year. But my senior fall promises to be very chill as I won’t have any leadership positions (finally I have learned how to say no) and my classes are no where as difficult as the ones that are currently burying me in assignment after assignment. However, it’s cool because I’ll be at home in Texas this summer, actually I’ll be working in Austin, so I am ready for the summer to begin!

What Inspires Me Right Nowphoto (5)

SUMMMEEEERRRRRRRR! I think that’s about it, LOL. Oh, and my writing…it gets me up in the morning. At this point it is certainly not my classes as they’re killing me. However the week of April 20th starts of Spring Week which is basically a week of concerts, Marathon Monday, etc… it’s pure bliss. After that is finals and then summer :D (haha, I think you’ve got the message.) –> The bluebonnets are blooming in Texas (it was a picture I took during Spring Break)!

How is everything going for you? Are you excited for summer!?

#YABbootcamp Month Two Goals!!

YAB-Spring-Writing-Challenge-2014Month One (March) of the YA Bucaneers’ Spring Writing Bootcamp is over, yay!! Now that the sun’s finally out (I wore capris today around Boston!!), it’s time to let the words flow :)

During March I began a new story and was able to write over 20,000 words of it!! I had set out to write 10,000 words/week, but I fell short every week and then Spring Break came and all I did was bask in the Texas sun so, it’s time to set some more realistic goals.

April Goals

  • write 30 minutes- 1 hour every day (much more easy to track/meet than 10,000 words/week)
  • read 30 minutes-1 hour every day (so many amazing books, especially debuts, coming out…I have to keep up!)
  • do my class assignments/end of semester assignments ahead of time so that when the end of April/May comes aka Spring Week and all the other college spring shenanigans, I can have no worries.

Basically April 20th is the date by which I want to have my life back and order and my manuscript complete, woohoo!!!

Gosh, April is going to be crazy…I think it just hit me that I’m graduating in 2015. It’s almost time to pick where I want to live next year & the courses I want to take next semester and it all seems so very final. I can’t believe I’ve been in college for three going on four years. That being said, I wouldn’t go back, I’m excited for the future, but, for now, I really need to get writing & turn in an assignment I was supposed to complete before Spring Break…oops (it’s getting to that time in the year when you start not caring/I’m pretty much done with my major so senior year is going to be great)!

Good luck on your April goals everyone :)

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

 

Expectations

Patrice:

Placing expectations on yourself and not others is an important life lesson. It’s one that I’m continuously learning, especially relating to my writing…I can only control me, I can hope things turn out as I expect them to, but in the in that’s all dependent on a bunch of factors I can’t control. Take care of yourself and cater to yourself and meet your expectations for yourself, that’s really all you can control :)
-Patrice

Originally posted on Bfit Solutions:

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“I’m not in this world
To live up to your expectations
Neither are you here to live up to mine, yeah
I don’t owe no one
No obligation”

Peter Tosh – I Am That I Am

Expectations high and low are the ruination of relationships and situations. It’s best to keep your expectations for yourself, not for others. And if you do make the mistake of placing high or low expectations on others don’t be surprised if they don’t or want meet your expectations. You see there is expectation and then there is reality. You have every right to expect such and such or expect a person to behave a certain way, but reality doesn’t always equal expectations. Which creates a problem for you, a problem you totally created through your expectations. But we all place expectations on people and situations all the time. This is somewhat insane behavior because…

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WHAT THE MOON SAID by Gayle Rosengren

Hello readers, I hope your Monday is off to a great start! Today I have my review of WHAT THE MOON SAID by Gayle Rosengren up (my first MG on the blog!) and a giveaway. Enjoy!

what the moon said

WHAT THE MOON SAID
Hardcover, 224 pages
Publication Date: February 20th 2014 by Putnam Juvenile
ISBN: 0399163522

Book Blurb:

Thanks to her superstitious mother, Esther knows some tricks for avoiding bad luck: toss salt over your left shoulder, never button your shirt crooked, and avoid black cats. But even luck can’t keep her family safe from the Great Depression. When Pa loses his job, Esther’s family leaves their comfy Chicago life behind for a farm in Wisconsin.

Living on a farm comes with lots of hard work, but that means there are plenty of opportunities for Esther to show her mother how helpful she can be. She loves all of the farm animals (except the mean geese) and even better makes a fast friend in lively Bethany. But then Ma sees a sign that Esther just knows is wrong. If believing a superstition makes you miserable, how can that be good luck?

Debut author Gayle Rosengren brings the past to life in this extraordinary, hopeful story.

Add to your Goodreads to-reads!

Buy Links: IndieBound | Amazon | B&N | Signed Copy from A Room of One’s Own

My Review

Owl Rating

five owls

It seems these days I’m giving a lot more 5 owls than I used to…keep the good books coming, y’all!

A while back, I had the honor of connecting with author Gayle Rosengren, thanks to Dahlia Adler! When Gayle received ARCs of her MG book, WHAT THE MOON SAID, she sent me one.

I was apprehensive at first about reading this book. It’s not the type of book I’d normally pick up these days, but on the back cover it said that fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder would love it and her books were some of my favorite books growing up–so much so that I found & bought a set of classic paperbacks–so I said, what the heck and started reading.

After part of a flight and a bus ride later, I’d finished reading WHAT THE MOON SAID. I have to say the ending brought tears to my eyes and had me underlining so many sentences because they were beautiful and rang so true! WHAT THE MOON SAID is one of those books that sneak up on you. At first, it was kinda slow, not really but as someone who reads mostly speci-fic MG when I do read MG, there wasn’t a big beginning. In fact, I had to stop at one point and recalibrate myself so to say as a way of “getting in the zone” because I was reading something different and I didn’t want to discredit the book because it didn’t fit into a genre it never promised to fit in to. After that, I was hooked.

Esther, the protagonist, deals a lot with her not believing that her mother loves her for she doesn’t show the same affection that she sees other mothers showing their daughters. When I was little, I used to think my mom hated me…that something was wrong with me because I felt she loved my younger brother more, other moms would kiss and hug their daughters and mine didn’t. Until I realized, one day, that she really does love me it’s just that as the oldest daughter she put a lot of stress and expectations on me because she wanted my life to be easier than hers was. Like Esther, I was the child who was most likely to not listen to her, I was the mischievous one. It wasn’t until I accepted that my mom would never be like other moms and those other moms weren’t as perfect as they seemed that I was able to see the many ways that my mom loves me…and though she still isn’t one to declare her love every day like I do, we’ve gotten closer because of it.

That’s what drew me to Esther and her story. It was so much like mine and I was so sure children would relate to it because childhood is that time during which we wonder things like that because we’re so raw and open. It’s beautiful in some weird way and Gayle managed to capture that with her book. The end was so satisfying because though I found myself wondering what would happen to Esther, I was comforted that she’d turn out all right because I did.

Also, the wanting a dog bit…so my life, my dad was actually the anti-dog one. I had one when I was little, but he ran away (my mom thinks my dad let him out). Now that my dad has a farm out in “Texas farm country” he has two, LOL. And I LOVED reading about Esther’s love for Louisa May Alcott’s books, favorites of mine, and the Nancy Drew series, another favorite, which were just coming out when Esther was little!

I wanted to leave you with this quote from Esther. It’s one of those things that everyone has to learn sooner or later:

Home was more than a place. Home was family.

And with that, I hope you’re always able to find or build a home for yourself as Esther’s story truly does prove that home is everlasting as long as you’re with the ones you love and that love is more than just saying I love you, the actions of those around you, not the words, are what’s most important.

**I received the book to read & review from the author, Gayle Rosengren (thank you!!). This is a 100% honest review.**

Because I loved WHAT THE MOON SAID so much (& because my ARC has my scribbles everywhere) I’m giving away 1 hardcover copy of WHAT THE MOON SAID.

It’s open to U.S. & international residents (as long as The Book Depository ships to your country)

ENTER THE RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY!

About the Author

gayle-b

Gayle grew up in Chicago.  Like Esther, she enjoyed school, was an avid reader, and loved dogs and horses.  She attended Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, where she majored in Creative Writing and was the editor of the literary magazine. Gayle never outgrew her passion for children’s books, and she worked as a children’s and young adult librarian at a public library for several years in the late 1980′s and early 1990′s, enthusiastically sharing her love of books with young people.

Also like Esther, Gayle eventually moved to Wisconsin, but by then she was a mother with three children.  She worked in the reference library, and later as a copy-editor, at American Girl.  During this time period she published short stories for children in CricketLadybugJack and Jill and Children’s Digest magazines.

Now Gayle writes full-time in her home just outside of Madison, Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband, Don, and slightly neurotic rescue dog, Fiona.  Gayle is living her dream, she says, writing books she hopes will make the same difference in children’s lives as her favorite books and authors made in hers.  What the Moon Said is her first novel.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Esther loves to read Louisa May Alcott’s books & the Nancy Drew series, what’s your favorite childhood book(s)?

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

Guest Post by Author E.R. Arroyo on Plotting

the offering

Happy Friday! I’m thrilled to have author E.R. Erroyo stop by my blog today to talk about plotting!!

Guest Post for Whimsically Yours

Patrice, thank you so much for inviting me to post on Whimsically Yours on the very special week of my book’s release! The Offering is out and now I’m finally getting to sit back and bask in the glory of publishing my second book. (Secret: It’s not that glorious, another project always waits. No rest for this writer, but I’m happy nonetheless!)

Though no one ever heard of me until I published a book, my writing background is actually in screenwriting. It was not necessarily a successful endeavor but I studied the craft for years and I took away some very valuable lessons and skills that I’ve been able to apply to writing my novels. The most important thing I picked up during my screenwriting stint was plotting.

In scripts it’s all about the plot points, sometimes down to the very page number. A formula if you will. Things can be a bit more flexible in prose, but with the same principles I’ve had pretty good success with writing solid plots that remained fairly set-in even through the various rounds of revisions. So far I’ve never had to do a massive rewrite and I think I owe that largely to my screenwriting roots.

So what do the screenwriters know that we could learn from? I’d love to tell you

I’m going to go out on a limb and say most of us have watched the movie Twilight. I’m not asking for a show of hands, don’t worry! Whether you love or hate this book and/or movie, it’s a great example because the screenplay for the film perfectly illustrates what I want to show you.

When I’m breaking down a plot, I’m looking for five plot points and those set the foundation for my outline. This concept goes right along with the three act structure. Here’s what it looks like:

  • Act 1 = the first 25% of your book/script
  • Act 2 = the middle 50% of your book/script (from 25% mark to 75% mark)
  • Act 3 = the final 25% of your book/script (from 75% mark to end)

Here’s where the plot points fit into that. (Note: Some people call plot points turning points because they change the story)

  1. “Inciting Incident” – What sets the story in motion, this is your story’s ‘hook’ and should occur within the first 10% of your story.
  1. “The Lock In/Change of Plans” – Your character becomes committed to a new course of action that sets the stage for the rest of the story. It’s a game-changer. This occurs at the end of Act 1, roughly 25% through your story.
  1. “The Point of No Return” – Also known as your midpoint. There’s no going back now – the character has fully accepted the new course for better or worse. This occurs in the middle of act two, 50% through the story.
  1. “Major Setback” – This is where everything finally comes to a head and your hero is faced with his/her final challenge. Everything has led to this final series of events. This begins at 75%.
  1. “Climax/Third Act Twist” – This is where you put your final throes, pull out all the stops, and let your characters really have it. This is where you devastate, destroy, and leave your reader on the edge of their seat, worried to death for your character. This is from 90-99% of your story.

So, now that we have that ground work, let’s apply this to the screenplay for Twilight. The script is 103 pages long, so the percentages will be pretty close to the actual the page numbers.

  1. Inciting Incident – Bella sees Edward Cullen arrive at the school cafeteria. Page 10. Bam, there’s your hook.
  1. The Lock In/Change of Plans – Edward stops the van from crushing Bella. Page 24. Now Bella knows there’s something different about Edward and becomes desperate to find out what.
  1. The Point of No Return – Bella has just figured out that Edward is a vampire and confronts him in the woods on page 50. She doesn’t care what kind of danger that puts her in, she’s into Edward and that’s that.
  1. Major Setback – Alice flips out in the middle of the baseball game because the bad vampires are coming. This occurs on page 75. On page 76, Edward admits he shouldn’t have brought Bella along, letting us know she’s in grave danger. Then James, Laurent, and Victoria step out of the woods in all their menacing, blood-sucking glory.
  1. Climax/Third Act Twist – Bella meets James at the ballet studio on page 90. And you know the rest.

As you can see with the page numbers, these plot points are almost spot-on with the formula I mentioned. This is what I love about scripts and I apply this same technique when I’m plotting novels because it’s effective and keeps my stories moving at what is hopefully a good pace. Everything that happens in between those plot points is intended to build toward the next plot point, and ultimately toward the end.

One more example? How about The Hunger Games? Larry Brooks over at Storyfix.com did an excellent break down of the plot of Hunger Games in this post.

I suggest you read his post as it’s more in depth, but here’s the gist:

  1. Inciting Incident – Katniss volunteers in the reaping

 

  1. The Lock In/Change of Plans – Peeta fabricates a romantic relationship with Katniss for the sake of viewer sympathy and Katniss agrees to play along

 

  1. The Point of No Return – Katniss enters the arena

 

  1. Major Setback – After the announcement that there can be two winners, Katniss reunites with Peeta, who is seriously injured

 

  1. Climax/Twist – Katniss and Peeta survive the mutts, defeat Cato, and pull the berry stunt

(Mind you Mr. Brooks’s terminology is different from mine. I recommend you research a number of different sources until you find a set of information that makes sense to you).

How I apply all this information to plotting my own story

First, I start with an empty template like this and fill it in. This is the most basic form of an outline.

1 – Inciting Incident:
2 – The Lock In/Change of Plans:
3 – Point of No Return:
4 – Major Setback:
5 – Climax/Twist:

After I’ve identified those major parts of my story, I expand my outline to include each chapter of the book. I allow myself twenty chapters as a general framework. This may be different if you prefer shorter chapters.

Okay, let’s say I’m doing twenty chapters, I know my second turning point needs to happen by chapter five. Using that idea, I fill in my list of plot points. After that, I make a list of the main “thing” that happens in each of the proposed twenty chapters in between the plot points I have already plugged in.

Chapters:

1 – Inciting Incident (I would put the actual incident here)
2
3
4
5 – Lock In/Change of Plans
6
7
8
9
10 – Point of No Return
11
12
13
14
15 – Major Setback
16
17
18
19 – Climax
20 – Denouement/Resolution

These are my guidelines and not set in stone. It gives me a framework, which is what an outline is meant to be. Often, things change along the way as I’m writing and I rework my outline to accommodate the new ideas, but I always, always have an outline to keep me on track.

In my latest work, The Offering, I have 22 chapters and an epilogue, so obviously the plot points aren’t exactly where I originally planned them to be, particularly in the second half of the book. But I began with the above framework of twenty chapters and adapted as I went along.

On a creative note, I am always willing to go with the flow once I’m finally writing, and I very often get a better idea once I’m in the process that didn’t occur to me during plotting stages. My outline is not meant to be rigid—it’s a guide. I have to have a general idea of where I’m going in order to begin getting there. If the road changes, I go with it.

Here are some of my favorite resources:

I do quite a bit of pre-writing before I ever start. I use my own tailored version of a method called the Snowflake method. You can learn more about it here.

The Script Lab – Plot: Five Key Moments – LINK

The Script Lab – Plot: The Eight Sequences — LINK

Story Mastery Screenplay Structure – LINK

The Screenplay to Twilight – LINK (Mentioned above)

Storyfix – Hunger Games in Nine Sentences – LINK (Mentioned above)

As I said, do your research and figure out what works for you. What I do might not be your cup of tea. I hope this inspires you to think more about how to structure your outlines more purposefully. There are many aspects that go into a great novel, and an outline such as the one I’ve proposed is simply the skeleton of the story. The character arc and development, the emotion, the stakes, the consequences, and the conflict are all necessary as well, but they are built upon the outline/plot.

six stage plotting

Patrice, thanks for having me on your site again!

Hopefully some of what I’ve said has resonated with your readers and I’ll be checking in for comments if anyone wants to start up a convo about plotting! What works for you??

arroyo picAbout E.R. Arroyo

An entertainment junkie, E.R. Arroyo is equally passionate about books, music, and movies. Her favorite title is “mommy” and she loves to dabble in all-natural health, wellness, and homemade beauty products. Her bestselling debut novel, Sovereign, was published in 2012. She can’t wait to share more of her stories, and she loves to hear from readers!

WebsiteFacebook  |  TwitterGoodreads  |  Pinterest

Additional Information:

Interview with E.R. Arroyo @ Whimsically Yours

Review of SOVEREIGN (book 1) @ Whimsically Yours

My review of THE OFFERING is to come, in the meanwhile here are some buy links in case you’d like to purchase the series:

Don’t forget to share your plotting tips in the comments!
Whimsically Yours,
PnC