Category Archives: Fiction

ABNA is Back!

Amazon has announced it’s 2014 Breakthrough Novel Award contest! It’s a little late, compared to years past, and everyone was starting to worry! I have to admit, it was a pretty good way to get us all amped up… whether or not that was their intention. 🙂

Here’s a link for all the info! You can also go to Createspace.com to register!

So, we have about one month until the entry period begins (February 16). My only dilemma this year is what to enter. I have my tried and not-so-true TERRA INCOGNITA, which I have entered three years in a row, or my recently finished CREEPING SLOWLY & EVAPORATING, which still needs some major editing and rewriting… not to mention a pitch. 🙂  Can I finish it in time? Well, I’m gonna try! If I don’t, at least I’ll have a back-up!

So, are you going to enter ABNA 2014? Check out the rules and give it a try! There’s nothing to lose… and possibly $50,000 and a publishing contract to win! 😀

And it’s over before it even started…

Booted at the pitch stage once again… For me, ABNA 2013 is done. I’m out. I must admit I am a bit disappointed. I felt my pitch was good enough this time around… and maybe it was (I don’t know) as everyone keeps saying the pitch round is basically a crapshoot. And that’s fine. Really. It is. I am very happy for all of those writers who made it through. I’m glad they will continue to get a shot for publication and possibly that grand prize of $50,000. 😀

Anyway, as the disappointment sunk in, part of me was saying, “Maybe I’m just not cut out for this… But what else is there for me to do? I have a degree in Art with little experience in graphic design and none in web design… What’s a girl to do?” Then the more rational part of me said, “But it’s what you love. It’s who you are. You couldn’t stop if you wanted to… Sure, you might have a dry spell every once in a while where you just can’t write a goshdarned thing… but that comes with the territory… and none of this means you should quit.” Once I’d given myself a little pep talk, I thought maybe I should get back to querying… but I’m not quite so confident in TERRA INCOGNITA at the moment (maybe that will pass, I don’t know) so (for now) I think I might actually shelf it… focus on something else before I come back to it… I’ve been working on it for so long, editing for so long, it needs a break. I need a break. I have other works-in-progress to complete… maybe one of them will be “The One.” And I’m so close to ending one of them… focus. That’s what I need to do. Focus.

Besides, I have more important things to worry about… I’ll be 25 weeks pregnant on Friday and have a lot to do. Sheesh, I’m due, like, the week before the ABNA Finalists travel to accept their prizes… that would have been an interesting trip, for sure… Traveling across country about a week (or so) after giving birth, newborn in tow. 🙂  Yeah… but it would have been totally worth it.

So, to wrap it all up… Good luck to all who remain in the contest! AND good luck to all who were cut. You shouldn’t give up either… Being cut this early is absolutely no indication of your (or your book’s) worth (yeah, I know, we need to make it a mantra).

Good luck with all of your writing careers! I hope to see you on the other side.

Edit/Update/What-have-you: I just wanted to say that I’m not really discouraged when it comes to writing… I can’t give it up, it isn’t possible… My main reaction/emotion is one of exhaustion, more than anything. This has just been a very trying week… 🙂  I’m already tired, in general, but have a very sick hubby this week and a 3-year old to contend with, so… ha ha. Bad timing, perhaps…?

2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is on!

2013 ABNA! Yay! The entry period begins on January 14, 2013… Of course, this year it has undergone some interesting changes. First, Penguin is no longer involved and the winners will be published through Amazon itself (physical and ebook formats). Second, there will be more winners and, thus, more prizes. In previous years, there were two winners (publishing contracts with $15,000 advances, one in the General Fiction category and another in the Young Adult category). But this year we will have FIVE winners (yes, five!). The Grand Prize winner will receive a publishing contract with a $50,000 advance, and four First Prize winners will each receive contracts with a $15,000 advance.  Pretty exciting news!

One other major change: while before we could only choose between General Fiction and Young Adult Fiction, we now have the addition of three new categories (Romance, Mystery/Thriller, and Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror). Yay for more categories! It would seem there will be a winner chosen from each category, one of which being the Grand Prize winner… at least that seems to be the consensus of Amazon’s ABNA forum (a lot of fun writers over there – check it out sometime).

Other than that, everything seems to work pretty much the same as before… as far as I can tell. Make sure you take a look at the rules and whatnot before entering.

SO… I’ve been trying to work out which story to enter. Hm… decisions, decisions… 🙂  My choices have been reenter Terra Incognita (entered twice before in GF, would have entered it again this year as YA, though I now have the option to enter it as Fantasy…) or enter my WIP Creeping Slowly & Evaporating (in YA or Fantasy). I just need to write the end of that manuscript… which is the most difficult part for me so… I believe I will reenter Terra, then focus on finishing and editing Creeping. Perhaps I can work on querying it, as the other (hopefully) makes it’s way up the ranks of ABNA… 😉

Now YA or fantasy? I hope I make the right decision.

Tag! I’m it (GUTGAA style)!

Hello all! 😀 I have officially been tagged by my new friend Rhiann! And I now have some questions to answer…

What is the working title of your book?
TERRA INCOGNITA

Where did the idea come from for the book?
A dream… a lot of my ideas come to me that way. I dreamed of being in a building (like an old school) with a group of people, and we were being chased/hunted by someone/thing. Somehow, we made it to a safe place where she could see us but not get to us… and she touched a large, rusty piece of chain, bringing it to life as a snake… it slithered over to me. Everyone else was scared, no one came to my aid… but I reached out to touch it (I don’t know why – it was a dream!) and it turned back to its true form. Everyone was amazed and the one who originally turned it ran away. And that was the start of TERRA INCOGNITA.

What genre does your book fall under?
This took me a while to figure out… 🙂 But I have settled on YA post-apocalyptic paranormal with romantic elements… a mouthful, I know.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
That’s a tough one… but something I have considered, I’ll admit, because I like to work with images. I’m a very visual person and like to see my characters. Based a lot on looks (ages might be an issue) I would choose either Chloe Moretz or Rachel Hurd-Wood to play Haylee and (this one is tough for me) maybe someone like Taylor Kitsch (a little younger probably) to play Derik.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
When Haylee wakes to a post-apocalyptic future, she discovers the Pale Ones – creatures that can kill with a single touch – have propelled her through time to claim a power she didn’t know she had.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Agent, please?! Pretty, pretty please….?

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Well… I started writing it in the summer of 2005 but stopped for a while. I pulled it back out in 2009, wrote during college classes (yes, I know, for shame… but I couldn’t stop!) and finished it in time to submit it to Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award Contest in early 2011… needless to say, that didn’t pan out… it was a first draft after all. So, there were a lot of starts and stops by that point… Unfortunately, that’s how I wrote up until recently… now I have several unfinished stories and, when I feel I’m burnt out on one, I can move to another.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Other than my uber-cool Pale Ones (the basis of all supernatural creature legends, especially the vampire)? Well, because these creatures reign in the future, humans have developed some incredible abilities (almost everybody has a superpower) in order to survive. Haylee arrives there going from average teenager to feeling less than inadequate amongst all that power… But the Pale Ones want her for a reason, right….?

And Tag! You’re It!

All right… now it’s my turn to tag someone!

I have chosen some of my new GUTGAA friends:
Liz
Cynthia
Diana

All right, girls! Have fun and happy tagging!

Pitch Polish

Below is my REVISED query and first 150 words… Thanks to everyone who commented!

TITLE: TERRA INCOGNITA
GENRE: YA Post-apocalyptic Paranormal
WORD COUNT: 98,000

Query:

Dear Fantabulous Super-agent:

During an attack by a wraithlike creature, seventeen-year old Haylee Wells falls through a portal into a post-apocalyptic future. Taking refuge with a group of humans, she learns this creature is one of the Pale Ones, who have propelled her through time to claim a power she didn’t even know she had.

She must survive in a world where the Pale Ones reign and can kill with a single touch.  A world where the supernatural is common: inanimate objects become poisonous organisms, humans survive – and fight back – with powers of their own, and Seers discern what secrets lie within the confines of your mind and heart.

Haylee’s own abilities become evident. The gardens flourish with a touch of her hand, her wounds heal more quickly than natural, and she can see the auras of those around her. She and her companions wonder why the supposedly immortal creatures see her – an inexperienced Seer with a knack for healing – as a threat.

She knows she should return home. But the journey to the portal will be dangerous, and her growing affections for her new friends, particularly the duty-bound protector of the group, leave her unsure in which time home resides. If she doesn’t leave, the Pale Ones will decide her fate. They will either kill or enslave her.

TERRA INCOGNITA (98,000 words) is a YA Post-apocalyptic paranormal.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

First 150 words:

As with most of life’s extraordinary problems, I felt ill equipped to handle the beast hurtling toward me. The monster’s yellow eyes focused upon me. Its tongue, dripping saliva, lolled from its mouth.
My eyes flicked left and right, looking for cover. A door to slip through. Anything. But could find no escape.

In a matter of seconds, it lunged for me.

I hit the ground, the air forced from my lungs. And, before I could take a breath, my face was plastered with my dog’s kisses. Laughter bubbled up in my throat, and I tried to shove the more than one hundred pound wolf-hybrid away to no avail. So, arms shaking, I managed to hold him several inches from my body, draw my knees up, and roll us both to the side. I made it to my feet and brushed strands of dark blonde hair away from my mouth.

– – – –

Original is below…

Hello all! I have decided to participate in the GUTGAA Pitch Polish blog hop! Yay! I’ve made so many changes to my query over the last (many) months, sometimes I don’t know up from down… seriously. So, I thought I’d see what you all thought. Any feedback would be appreciated! Thanks!

All right *deep breath* here goes…

TITLE OF MANUSCRIPT: TERRA INCOGNITA
GENRE: YA Post-apocalyptic Paranormal
WORD COUNT: 100,000

Query:
Dear Uber-Agent:

Seventeen-year old Haylee Wells thinks she lives in an ordinary world. Her biggest concern has been convincing her mother she may not want to attend college. Ever. But just out of sight something not so ordinary lurks. Hidden in the shadows of city streets and forests – just like the one in her backyard – the Pale Ones plan their coming out.

In the future, the cities are gone and the land barren. Mankind, fearing the deadly touch of the Pale Ones, knows better than to venture into dark places. Haylee awakens to this world, where the supernatural is common: inanimate objects become poisonous organisms, humans survive – and fight back – with powers of their own, and Seers discern what secrets lie within the confines of your mind and heart.

Taking refuge with a group of humans, she becomes fast friends with Glenna, who has a calming presence – literally – and is drawn to Derik, the duty-bound protector, despite his condescending-jerk quotient and creepy insider knowledge of the Pale Ones. He can sense when they are near, and his description of them leaves her thinking they may be the monsters on which many supernatural creature legends are based.

The Pale Ones know great power dwells within Haylee and have propelled her through time to claim it. When her abilities become evident, she wonders what the supposedly immortal creatures want with an inexperienced Seer with a knack for healing. She knows she should return home. But her growing affections for her new friends, particularly Derik, leave her unsure in which time home resides.

TERRA INCOGNITA (100,000 words) is a YA post-apocalyptic paranormal with romantic elements.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

First 150 words:

As with most of life’s extraordinary problems, I felt ill equipped to handle the beast hurtling toward me. The monster’s yellow eyes focused upon me. Its tongue, dripping saliva, lolled from its mouth. I flicked my eyes left and right, looking for cover. A door to slip through. Anything. But could find no escape. In a matter of seconds, it lunged for me. I hit the ground, the air forced from my lungs. And, before I could take a breath, my face was plastered with the dog’s kisses. Laughter bubbled up in my throat, and I tried to shove the more than one hundred pound wolf-hybrid away to no avail. So, arms shaking, I managed to hold the dog several inches from my body, draw my knees up, and roll us both to the side. I made it to my feet, but the dog remained with his tummy in the air, smiling at me.

Review of Spookygirl: Paranormal Investigator

Spookygirl: Paranormal InvestigatorSpookygirl: Paranormal Investigator by Jill Baguchinsky

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had the privilege of reading an advance copy of Spookygirl: Paranormal Investigator and loved it! It was smart, funny, and had it’s scary moments. Though I don’t know much about paranormal investigations and all of the equipment involved, I have read and seen my fair share of books and shows about them, and it seems as though Ms. Baguchinsky has done her research. Violet is an awesome MC – I loved her immediately – and the secondary characters were fleshed out enough to make them likable and interesting enough to make me want to know more. The story was structured and paced well, and the main mystery was very compelling – I wanted to find the answers almost as much as Violet did.

I would definitely recommend Spookygirl: Paranormal Investigator. Anyone who loves ghost stories and mysteries will enjoy this book. I am rating it at 4.5 stars (though that’s not technically possible on here) because I more than “really liked it” but reserve “it was amazing” for only a select few reads.

View all my reviews

Entered Pitch. Won Request!

Hello all!

So… I stumbled across a 35-word pitch contest here and won a request for a full of Terra Incognita from an editor at Entangled Publishing!  Very excited and nervous!  It will probably be a while before I know if they want it, though.  In the meantime, I will continue querying agents… I’ve gotta spark some interest somewhere, right?  Hm….  And I will continue to write, as well, though I have slacked off this past week or so.

Also, other cool news… I won an ARC of Spookygirl: Paranormal Investigator (the winner of the 2011 ABNA in the YA category).  The copy is in the mail, and the book is due in stores on August 16th.  If you want to check out the author’s blog, you can find it here.  I’m looking forward to reading her book!