children's writer

Critique My Query

Jun 26, 2012
Hello guys! So Daisy over at Fresh as a Daisy is hosting an awesome pitch contest this Friday with her agent Tricia Lawrence, and from today up until midnight on Thursday anyone who feels like they need their query critiqued will be able to have it critiqued. If you feel like you need your query critiqued before the contest you should hop on over to Daisy's blog.

I've decided to participate. I have an inkling that my query for Never a Happy Ending could be better. I'm looking forward to your feedback. 

Dear Ms. Agent,

Sixteen-year-old junk food enthusiast Amelia Taylor thought the worst thing that could ever happen to her was falling hard for two boys, but she was wrong. The day her father never came home was the worst day of her life.

People don’t usually go missing in the small town of Riverdale, Louisiana, where everyone knows your first and last name. Yet, no one has seen him since the day he left for work. At first, Amelia blames her momma for her father leaving them. He always said that she was the stubbornest woman he ever met.

Amelia soon realizes that even though her momma may be stubborn, neglectful, and cruel, she’s all she’s got now. Left to pick up the pieces and take care of her sick momma whose bad smoking habit has finally taken its toll on her, Amelia is forced to grow up quicker than she intended to. If it weren’t for her friends, her boyfriend, and sweet Tommy Baker, her childhood sweetheart, Amelia doesn’t know how she’d make it through this.

More than anything Amelia’s afraid that she might lose her momma to her illness, because of shame she won’t take any hospital care. Her only hope for redemption is by finding out what really happened to her father the day he left for work and never came home, and by getting her momma to see someone before it’s too late. Or she might lose everyone and everything she’s ever loved.

NEVER A HAPPY ENDING, my contemporary young adult novel, is complete at 43,000 words. 

Thanks to everyone who critiqued my query. I've since revised again. I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts.

Updated Query

People don’t usually go missing in the small town of Riverdale, Louisiana, where everyone knows your first and last name. Yet, no one has seen sixteen-year-old Amelia Taylor’s father since the morning he left for work and never came home.

Amelia suspects that her momma had everything to do with it. Her father always said that she was the stubbornest woman he ever met. But as minutes turn into hours and hours into days without a word from him, Amelia begins to realize her momma’s all she’s got now.

Amelia’s forced to take care of her momma on her own. But behind the mask of perfection her momma wears for friends and neighbors lies a woman who’s abusive, pitiless, and secretly blames Amelia for her failing health and wrinkled skin, instead of the three packs of cigarettes she smokes every day. If it weren't for Amelia's friends, her boyfriend, and her childhood sweetheart, Tommy Baker, the boy she's still madly in love with, she doesn't know how she’d make it through this.

More than anything, Amelia’s afraid she might lose her momma, too, as her ill health worsens, and she refuses to see a doctor. Amelia knows that if she doesn’t get her momma to see someone, she just might lose everyone and everything she’s ever loved because with every passing second the thought of seeing her father alive again begins to seem impossible.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun! Blog Hop!

Jun 22, 2012

TGIF! Today is the day I get to reintroduce you guys to my new and improved MC. She's received a name change, and her stories title has also changed several times. Some of you may remember her as Christine Taylor or may not, but either way she now goes by Amelia Taylor.

Surprisingly, finding the perfect blue eyed, strawberry blonde model with freckles was a lot easier than I thought it would be. 

So without further introduction I'm proud to reintroduce Amelia from my YA contemporary novel, Never a Happy Ending. Penny Willer, one of her friends who hasn't spoken to her in a while, agreed to interview her. 

Finally we can start. Thanks for waiting while Tracey introduced us, Amelia. I feel like we haven't talked in ages.
*nods* That's okay. It's nice to see you too. I've been really busy lately. 
I've got to ask. How do you feel about your new name? Was it something you had to get used to?
I guess, especially seeing as how I've been called Christine for most of my life. *shakes head* to tell you the truth, I still think of myself as Christine Taylor. It was pretty hard convincing everyone to call me Amelia at first, especially Momma. You know how stubborn she can be. 
If I had a name change I would want to be called Grace. It's so glamorous. If you could choose any name for yourself what would it be?
I don't know. Maybe something sensual like Evangeline? I can see myself as an Evangeline. Evangeline Baker. 
Baker? You and Tommy didn't...
Of course we haven't, Penny, but we've been talking about it. He says he wants to take me to France someday, and marry me there.
Speaking of Tommy, have you talked to Matthew?
We've talked a few times at school. *shrugs* Mostly just hi and bye and stuff. He got into an Ivy League university, and he's seeing someone now. *fiddles with fingers* But you know what I'm happy for him. I am. He deserves it. If there's one thing I've learned it's that you can't always have your cake and it too. *smiles* Even if you do really love cake.
*laughs* It seems like you really had to make a lot of difficult choices this year. Letting go of someone you love isn't easy. I know Lucie's probably waiting for you in the car, so--
Oh, no she isn't. I finally saved up enough money for my own car. 
That's awesome.You've wanted one for so long now. I was going to ask, since I know you've been through so much, do you feel like you've grown from any of it? It couldn't imagine going through what you went through.
You know, apart of me still can't believe that it happened. Yes, I think have changed. I know thinking about him too much is just going to drive me crazy. I don't want to end up like Momma. 
She still isn't doing too well, is she?
No. She isn't. S-she started smoking again, but it's not like how it used to be before. *purses lips* Truthfully, it's like she's not even here anymore, but I have Tommy and Lucie and everything is going to be okay. It has to be. I just love them too much to let them down. You know how that is, Penny, now that your with Herbert.
Besides, I can't save someone who doesn't want to be saved, right? *laughs*  Daddy used to say that.

I want to thank Amelia and Penny for stopping by. And I also want to thank the blog hop hosts, Jaycee and Victoria for hosting. 

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

Sprucing Up Your Writing Blog on a Budget

Jun 20, 2012
Hello everyone. 

Since I practically live on the internet I thought it would be a great idea to share with you guys some of the links I've collected over the past few days. As you guys may or may not have noticed I change my blog layout quite often, and I am always on the lookout for a template that's cute and cheap or better yet FREE. In fact, I recently saved a ton of free backgrounds in a folder on my laptop for those days I'm feeling extra creative.

So I guess I'll start off with free and cute.
  1. Blogger Candy - The link takes you directly to her Design Gallery, and from there you can just click which ever thumbnail catches your eye. Off to the right she even gives you the option to search by number of columns, template color, and style. Make sure to check out her premium templates as well. Some of them are going for as low as ten dollars. 
  2. Inventing Inspiration - I recently discovered this designer who offers nine free themes, including two WordPress themes. I even tried out a few of them myself.
  3. Colour Lovers - The don't offer free templates, but you can create your own seamless backgrounds that are compatible with any of the blogger templates. I'm a member of this site and it's very easy to get addicted to it. 
  4. Makin' Cute Blogs - This designer shows you how to make a free Blogger blog header using Pixlr. She also offers a lot more Blogger and WordPress tutorials, and her Find a Blog Designer page might also be a ton of help. 
Affordable Premade Templates 
  1. Designer Blogs - They offer quite a few Blogger templates in different styles that are only going for 10 dollars solid. Although their custom designs are quite costly, in addition to the cheaper premades they also offer templates starting as low as 30 dollars for Blogger and 80 for WordPress. Sorry WordPress.
  2. Simply Yours - These blogger templates are priced at only 20 dollars each. 
  3. Kreated by Kelsey - For 25 dollars with an additional 10 or more dollars for optional customization, Kelsey offers a few cute choices for the Blogger blog. Keep in mind that you'll have to fill out a form to place your order.
Bonus Designer

Totally Severe - She offers a variety of free backgrounds. If you click on downloads and then background patterns she even gives you the option to search by pattern color. I've downloaded a few of them for future use.

That's it for me guys. If you do decide to go with any of these templates remember you might have to do a bit of tinkering to get it just the way you want it. A lot of them allow you to change little things such as the blog title font and post font. If you have pages on your blog you might have to have them on the sidebar instead of directly underneath the header.

Sorry if none of the templates being offered are your style. Mostly all of these designers also do custom designs, but if you'd like more FREE, Mama of 3 Munchkins has compiled a list for you, which you can find here.

Goodnight to you all, and happy writing.

Top Five Favorite Non-Writing Blogs

Jun 19, 2012
For the past for days now I've been trying to come up with ways to expand my audience. I know most of you have already seen the very popular post by Kristen Lamb, Why Writers Blogging About Writing is Bad. It really made me think, if blogging constantly about writing is a bad idea. What do we blog about?

I got the idea for this post from another YA writer, and thought it was a good idea to share a little more about me in away that others might be able to relate to. So here we go. If you'd like to visit any of these blogs just click on the pictures. 

The first blog is a blog by a positively stylish girl from London. I visit her blog at least once a day. She doesn't post quite often. I think she posts at least once a week, but when she does I am always floored by her almost whimsical sense of style. She takes the most gorgeous pictures around London, and I have to admit I was a tad bit jealous that she got to visit the set of Harry Potter. She and her best friend recently launched their own magazine called Wish, and I am just itching to get my hands on it. 

I recently discovered this blog while doing one of my many daily lurks. It was created by an aspiring graphic designer who has a wardrobe that I'd definitely love to play dress up in. Forget about t-shirts and jeans, which we all know make up a large portion of a lot of college students' closets, including mine. This blogger's feminine flare, which she debuts in equally stunning photographs, will definitely bring out the girly girl in many of us. 

This blogger definitely knows her way around a thrift shop, and to tell you the truth if it weren't for her I probably wouldn't have discovered them myself. She's a lover of beautiful things, new and old. And definitely gives new meaning to the famous quote: One man's trash is another man's treasure. 

If you're obsessed with France and anything French, this blogger's blog will satisfy your cravings. She has much more of a minimalist sense of style that is oh so French, but has impeccable taste in clothing and music.  

She's another English girl whose favorite color is most likely black. She's young, but has a very sophisticated sense of style. I've even saved a few of her photos in an inspiration folder on my computer. Reading her blog reminds me that you don't always have to be "pretty in pink" to be considered stylish. 

Thanks for reading guys. And yes, I will continue to blog about writing and other things. 

Fashion Meets Fiction 1950s

Jun 15, 2012
Before I discovered writing and got fully engrossed in the online writing community I was absolutely sure my passion was for fashion. I even studied fashion merchandising at a local college during my first few years of higher education. Though things have changed I still find that I love to read fashion blogs (or at least stare at the pretty pictures) just as much as I love to read the posts by you guys, the writers.

Like a lot of girls and women I do love pretty things, and I believe so much inspiration can be found from something as trivial as a designer dress in the window of a vintage shop, which is why I'm always looking for an opportunity to mention what my characters are wearing. I know, I know that isn't exactly considered good characterization, but I do enjoy playing dress up with my characters once in awhile. 

While browsing the web, I came across Ulyana Sergeenko's F/W 2011-2012 lookbook and had a YA moment, instant love. You guys probably don't know this about me, but I am a huge fan of anything 50s and 60s, and would find any reason to set my novels in those eras. Ulyana's line was inspired by the 1950s Vogue Soviet Union, and it makes me wish I had the balls to actually write a historical novel. 

These pictures were a few of my favorites. It makes you wonder what kind of girl would have worn these ensembles, doesn't it? 

To view the entire collection and find out more you can visit Behance

On My Want List: Time Between Us

Jun 13, 2012
Ever since I came across this book on Goodreads I've been frantically searching the web and stalking the author's blog for updates. I can honestly say that I haven't felt this way about a book in a long time.

Don't get me wrong, there are a ton of other books that are coming out later this year that I've also been eyeing, but Time Between Us definitely takes the cake. It's one of those books that make me sigh every time I read the blurb. The cover is gorgeous and the premise is gorgeous. October seems miles away.

Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett’s unique ability to travel through time and space brings him into Anna’s life, and with him, a new world of adventure and possibility. 

As their relationship deepens, they face the reality that time might knock Bennett back where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate—and what consequences they can bear in order to stay together.

To learn more make sure to visit Tamara Ireland Stone's blog and website. The playlists on her website are awesome by the way. You can also hop over to Goodreads and hear what other people are saying.

The Best Books Live Within Us

Jun 11, 2012
Hello everyone.

Yesterday I read a very lovely interview featuring the talented Taryn Albright. If you're interested and haven't read it already you can read it here. As a twenty-year-old writer seeing other young writers accomplish so much at such a young age really inspires me. There was one question that Ms. Purdie asked that really got me thinking. Actually the entire interview made me ask myself what exactly I was trying to accomplish with my writing if any of my novels were ever published.

The simple answer would be to entertain, but in all honesty when I think about the kind of books I love and why I love them it wasn't just because they entertained it was because of the author's ability to create a story, characters, and world that I would think about weeks after I read that very last line. As one of my favorite authors said, the best books live within us. And that's the kind of emotional response I want anyone who reads my novels to have.

Even if it's just one person who feels this way, I'd be happy.

Would you guys agree? I would love to hear your thoughts on this. By the way, hello new followers, and thanks to everyone who commented on my last posts'.

The Quiet Writer

Jun 1, 2012
I’m supposed to be working on my Camp NaNo novel right now, but as always I found other shiny things on the internet to distract me, like talking to you guys.

So here goes.

Somber, slow pacing, I’ve heard it all before. It seems like no matter how epic I think a concept of mine is the finished product is always the same: a fairly quiet novel. And it’s easy, you know, to get discouraged when loud novels with high-concept plots and speedy pacing are the ones that are being ogled by everyone even yourself.

Cinderella as an assassin, time travel romance, Alice in Wonderland retellings! Sign me up as heck yeah.

Like a lot of you I entered The Writer’s Voice contest a few weeks ago and was pretty disappointed when I wasn’t chosen as one of the top 40. It’s all subjective I tried to tell myself, but deep down I knew that wasn’t the case. So like any sane writer would do I asked for help and boy did I get it. It came as a shock to me when I was told that my beloved novel seemed a lot slower than other YA novels. I’d done it again. I’d written another quiet one.

But thank God for Google. I stumbled across a very lovely post by the author of Water Balloon, Audrey Vernick, who talked about her experiences subbing a novel that was considered quiet, and how by raising the stakes a little she was able to give it that spark it needed. You can read that article here if you wish. Later I came across another magnificent post about quiet books and how to make them sparkle. You can read it here. I got to brainstorming. How could I make my quiet book a little less quiet?

I remembered reading somewhere that a sweet romance was always a plus. Perfect. I already had one, and with some tweaking and rewriting I was able to push it to the front a little. I read that adding an element of wish fulfillment, like in Anna and the French Kiss or The Princess Diaries would be a perfect way to kick you quiet book up a notch. Let’s face it, most girls would love to fall in love with a hot European guy or be a princess, even for a day.

I gave my main character hopes and desires I thought other teens would be able to relate to, like wanting to travel to London, and France, and eat Victoria sponge cake in Kensington Palace where Kate and William live. She has a major sweet tooth. I made her feelings for her childhood sweetheart more clear because what girl wouldn’t want to relive those years of being awkward and innocent, especially when you were in love for the first time.

I even ended up renaming my main character and the novel itself. At the end of the day it may still be a quiet novel, but I’m content with it.

Sorry this post was so long, but does anyone else out there write quiet novels? Curious minds would love to know.