Category Archives: Sci-Fi/Fantasy

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.

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To-Read List…

Since this is (mostly) a writing blog, I thought it only fitting to include a post about the books I’m looking forward to purchasing and reading in the not-too-distant future.  So, here we go:

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2) by Deborah Harkness, realeased 10 July 2012 (if you haven’t read the first book A Discovery of Witches, and you like that sort of thing, check it out)

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, released 1o July 2012 (she was born in Kentucky, so that’s exciting to me, since I went to college and lived there for a while — and where I live in southern Ohio might as well be Kentucky anyway… I’m just sayin’)

Odd Apocalypse by Dean Koontz, released 31 July 2012 (whether or not you like Dean Koontz, you may want to try out the Odd Thomas series — paranormal mystery/thriller — they are a lot of fun, so start with the first one… Also they’ve made it into a movie coming out next year, starring Anton Yelchin — I’m totally going to see it!)

The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle, released 25 September 2012 (this is definitely an interesting concept — sounds fantastic!)

There are a ton more, I’m sure… and a lot I still haven’t read that’ve been out for a while already (like book 2 in the Chemical Garden trilogy, Fever by Lauren DeStefano — if you haven’t, you should definitely check out her website, facebook, and twitter… very entertaining and helpful for readers and writers alike — I love her!)  And because it’s coming out next year:

Sever (Chemical Garden Trilogy #3) released 12 February 2013

If I think of more, I’ll add them!

Enjoy!

So, I’ve done it…

I have officially edited Terra Incognita and made it a Young Adult fantasy.  I know, I know… can we say “sell out!”?  😉  Heh, not really…  It turned out it didn’t change as much as I thought it would… I changed her age from twenty-three to seventeen (almost eighteen) and since it already had the feel of a YA book, I didn’t need to change how she talked or the way I told the story.  (I did keep a copy of the original file, just in case.)  And I have decided that I like it (and it’s chances) better as a Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy…  so yeah.  It’s my genre/category of choice anyway (most of my other stories are YA), so it makes sense.  The character remains unchanged (which was my main concern) and the story still reads the same way, with only some minor age-appropriate changes (not for the reader but for the character).  Below is my rewritten pitch… hopefully it’s better than the others anyway… 🙂

TERRA INCOGNITA

Seventeen-year old Haylee Wells thought her mother pressuring her to choose a college was her only problem.  But between her aunt’s death and a wraithlike creature attacking, she suddenly has much more to handle.  When she finds herself in a post-apocalyptic future where these creatures reign and can kill with a single touch, she takes refuge with a group of humans who have their own special abilities.  She needs to find her way home.  But the connection she shares with Derik – the duty-bound protector of the group – and her own developing abilities complicate things further.  If she fails to realize the power within herself, she risks becoming a slave to the “Pale Ones” and never returning home.  

Eh, not too bad… but we’ll see.

As always, thanks for reading…  Until next time….

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Being a hopeless romantic, I can’t help enjoying this holiday… even if nothing’s happening for me on this day.  I’m not saying I don’t have a significant other… just that today was like most days… 😉   Anyway, I hope every one of you are enjoying your Valentine’s Days…

In celebration of this day of love, I thought I would share a tiny snippet from my book Terra Incognita.

Here is Haylee and Derik’s first kiss:

“There are no mates for… people like me.  But I am what I am, and we’re too different.” He held my eyes there, trying to drill the point into my head.  “It’s crazy and… even if it was possible, I’m just too dangerous for you to be with.”

There was that word again.  Dangerous.  What did they mean?

“Glenna says you have a past, something you’ve never even discussed with her.  Tell me.  Let me decide whether or not you’re too dangerous.  Because right now I don’t see it.  I can’t see it.  Don’t you think I deserve the chance to decide for myself?”  Somehow we had been drawn closer together as we spoke, and our faces were inches apart.  My eyes trailed down to his lips and back to his eyes.

“Haylee,” he whispered.  “It can never be… I don’t understand how it could…” And our lips met.

I threw my arms around his neck, and he pressed into the cot, both of us trying to get as close as possible.  He placed his hands behind my neck, pulling me toward him, keeping my head in place, and deepened the kiss.  Just when I thought I’d suffocate, he pulled back, breaking contact.  I tried to follow him, but he held me back.  We were both panting.  He leaned his forehead against mine.  “This is crazy.”

“I agree.  Let’s keep going,” I gasped, trying to move closer again.

#

I hope you enjoyed!  Happy Valentine’s Day!


Happy Halloween!

Autumn is my favorite season, and Halloween is (in my opinion, anyway) the most fun holiday! Both are great inspirations for my writing.

And now that Halloween is here, National Novel Writing Month is one day away. I’ve decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year… for the first time… and my story will involve vampires… That’s right. Vampires. I love just about anything to do with vampires… maybe they’re my guilty pleasure… However, I just don’t find them all that scary… I think we need some more super scary vamps out there right now… though I’m not sure that is possible and doubt mine will be. Then again, I’m not so sure I care about that… vampires are so much fun.

Which leads to my pondering… If I could write about any “monster,” it would be vampires… However, when I really want a scare, I go with zombies all the way. Yep, zombies are the thing that get my heart pumping… When I’m outside, late at night, walking my dog… waiting for her to do her “thing”… zombies are what I imagine lurking in every dark corner of my backyard… pulling themselves up over my fence… pushing their way through the closed gate… crawling out from beneath the decking around my pool. Every time my dog stands alert, I freeze and peer intently into those shadowy spaces. I try to keep my back to the house… silly, I know… Then, I imagine… what if… What if a zombie did make it’s way over the fence? My dog would protect me… right? Would she go at ’em, hackles raised and snarling? Or would she whimper and run away? Leaving me to take care of myself… I figure, if it’s the first, I’d have a very good chance of getting to the back door, locking it… maybe I’d make it. If she cowers, my chances of survival dwindle.

Of course, I know zombies aren’t real… but, of all the fictional characters out there, the idea of them scares me the most. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I LOVE zombies, whether in literature or film. We all love to be scared (well, the popularity of horror films is proof of that).

So, my question for you is… what is YOUR choice of monster this lovely Halloween?

Oh, how could I forget…

… Yet I did…

I have posted most of Terra Incognita on authonomy.com and have received some feedback… some nice things really. I like that a few people seem to have enjoyed reading it and thought (if any of you were interested) you might want to take a look at it, too. I probably will not post the last few chapters, since I’m hoping to publish it one day, but you can get a nice taste of it here.

I hope you enjoy… and I promise to post again soon.

Love you guys!
Heather

Query, logline and pitch, oh my!

Hey all… Oh, look at me… two posts in as many days… woohoo! Yeah, anyway… I thought I would post my new reworked “pitch.” I think it works a lot better than the one I posted under “Works” and, maybe, I’ll replace that one with this. It’s a little more succinct, which it needed to be in order to use it in my querying, and, I believe, more interesting. It seems to me that an actual query pitch has different requirements than the pitch I had to use for ABNA 2011. For instance, ABNA asked for more information; they wanted to know about character growth within the story and more details about the plot, at least I gathered that from everything I read. Of course, that wasn’t easy in the amount of words I could use, but I did the best I could to work everything in they required. Now, when it comes to querying, a writer needs to try to gain interest in the story in as few words as possible. Most people suggest you write a “logline” or first sentence that grabs their attention and tells the agent (or publisher) what the story is about. Then, you follow it up with the pitch (or summary that “sells” your work). I hope I described that correctly. In any case, here’s my logline (first sentence) and pitch:

“In the midst of grief, a young woman, transported to a future dominated by pale creatures that prey on humans, discovers she has a power both groups covet. After the mysterious and violent death of her beloved aunt, Haylee Wells returns home to pick up the pieces. However, when she is attacked by a strange pale creature and finds herself thrust into a future world she barely recognizes, she discovers a centuries’ old truth – a truth that goes beyond explaining her aunt’s demise and creates further questions. Now, taken in by a group of humans driven into hiding by these “Pale Ones,” Haylee must realize the power within herself – literally – or face consequences much worse than never returning home. Because, if she fails to do so, she risks becoming a slave to the “Pale Ones” and a pawn in the deadly game they have forced humans to play.”

But, yeah… Originally, I had been introducing the genre and word count and whatnot first, then my pitch. However, I read recently that the way publishing is nowadays, you need to catch their attention much sooner. So, now, I start with the logline and pitch. Of course, they probably still need some work. After the pitch, I state title, genre and word count and, then, include my short, relevant bio. Of course, I tweak it a little bit for each agency I send it to, because they all have different requirements.

Maybe this will help someone… I don’t know. I hope so.