Thursday, March 31, 2011

Is It Hot In Here Or Is It Just This Book Blogfest

My blogging friend Shelley Watters is hosting a fantastic blogfest in which the participants post their 140 character or less Twitter pitch on their blog for critique. Once it has been critiqued and polished we are to post it on her contest and the winner is awarded a full manuscript request from super agent Suzie Townsend. Yep, you read that right, a full request! But there's more, Shelley is going to pick additional winners who will receive a query critique from her. So here's my 140 characters or less pitch. Tell me what you think and don't be shy. All help is welcome!

One of the last of the druids during the worst invasion of Ireland must master her power if she is to keep her kind from being wiped out.

Revised version:

During the twelth century invasion of Ireland, Emily, last of the druids, must master her power to keep her kind from being annihilated.

It's vague, I know, but remember it has to be under 140 characters. Not words, characters! That can be really tough. I tried to cover the problem, stakes, and solution as the uber awesome Nathan Bransford says. Hopefully I achieved that at least to a small degree! For those looking forward to my Friday Creature Feature don't worry, it will go up later today.

Contest Winner Announcement

The winner of the Heather's Odyssey prize for Carolina's Agent Signing Mega Giveaway is:

Congratulations Rachel! She has chosen The Fire In Fiction by Donald Maass. Enjoy Rachel, it's an excellent book and it's on its way to you now! Thank you to everyone who entered. This contest was a blast~for an excellent cause~and I'm so glad to have met so many great new people. I look forward to getting to know each of you better.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Demystifying Point Of View

There are many different points of view you can choose to write your novel in. First you must choose which character's point of view that you are going to tell the novel from, then you get to decide what kind of point of view to use. It's easier for me to choose the character and get to know them first, then the type of POV I'm going to use falls into place. Here are the types of POV:
1st Person POV past tense: This is a popular style among young adult novels and is becoming increasingly popular among adult genres as well. It reads much like the person is telling you their story. Example: I walked into the room.

1st Person POV present tense: This is becoming increasingly popular in young adult novels. It is believed that there is more sense of immediacy and tension, as if the reader isn't certain the narrator will live or be all right. Example: I walk into the room.

2nd Person POV past tense: This one is so tough to pull off you almost never see it done anymore. Much of the reason is because it reads awkward. It's a way of storytelling that most of us aren't used to. In this POV the narrator speaks directly to the reader as if they are telling them a story that's happening to the reader. Think of the old choose your own adventure books. Those were written in 2nd person POV. Example: You walk into the room.

3rd Person POV past tense: This is one of the most traditional ways of telling a story. The story is being told not by a narrator that the reader ever senses or 'hears'. It isn't as up close and personal as 1st person POV's. It is however my favorite way to write. Example: She walked into the room.

3rd Person POV present tense: Example: She walks into the room.

3rd Person POV omniscient (or multiple POV's): Second only to 2nd Person POV, this is the hardest to pull off. This is 3rd person traditional storytelling but it involves more than just the main character's point of view. This style may jump from character to character point of view on the same page or within the same chapter. Unless you are highly experience and skilled I don't recommend trying this as it is too easy to confuse the reader. A popular author who uses this style is Frank Herbert. If you've ever tried to read the DUNE novels (which are some of my favorites) then you know how hard this would be to write.

3rd Person POV personal: You may not have heard much about this one yet as it is a newer style that is coming into popularity. This is traditional 3rd person, past tense, POV but with a lot more focus on what the main character is feeling and thinking. You'll read this a lot in young adult novels that are written in 3rd person.

Play around with POV and discover what works best for you. Try something different. You might surprise yourself! To discuss this topic in depth join us this Thursday at 6:00pm PT for the #WritersRoad chat on Twitter

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Twitter Tuesday~Submissions, New Agents, & Contests

Wow what a week. I've been caught up in the whirlwind that is finishing a novel and preparing for editing. But of course I made time to drop in on Twitter and find a few good tweets for you peeps. This first one is an interview by Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest featuring a new agent with Folio Literary:

@WritersDigest New Agent Alert: Sarah Sper McLellan of Folio Literary - Reminder: Newer agents are golden opportunities for new wri...

Ever wonder why I think Chuck from WD is the shiz? Check out his interview with @PStoltey and you'll see why!
@ChuckSambuchino I talked about submissions and researching agents in my interview with @PStoltey on the @Chiseledinrock blog:

Agent Sarah LaPolla brings us this great link on what's hot in Sci-Fi right now (and what she wants to see):
@sarahlapolla Sci-fi writers (who want to query me), read this 1st. I want a Firefly, not a Star Trek:  (via @largeheartedboy)

My friend Shelley is hosting an AMAZING contest with a prize that will blow you away. You don't want to miss this:
@Shelley_Watters Twitter Pitch Contest on my blog, prize is a FULL MS REQUEST from Suzie Townsend!

Agent Charlie Olsen gives us a few tips on what he wants to see among his queries:
@ComicsisPeople Want The Fifth Element in my query pile. Or Dune. Or something about space colonies. Violent, fast, plotty. Prty pls? #relevant2myinterests

The #WriteOnCon ladies are at it again, creating magic and opportunity. Don't miss this:
@Casey_McCormick Did you guys see what we've cooked up for the month of April over at #WriteOnCon? Awesome opportunity x3!

That should give you enough to keep you busy for a while!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday's Muse~Fight Or Flight

This picture seemed so appropriate for the last chapter of my novel that I could hardly wait to use it! Finally, last week I was able to as I closed in on The End of my rough draft. It came together beautifully. My characters surprised me a little but in good ways. Even though I write an outline I allow the story to grow organically based on where the characters take it. Now comes the part I like best, editing. No, I'm not crazy (well okay, maybe a little). I think I figured out why I love editing so much.

For those who don't know, I'm an outliner. A lot of the kinks, character arcs, plot twists, and subplots are all worked out before I even write the first page. I also write chapter by chapter so there isn't much to flesh out later. I end up cutting more than I add. This makes the editing process a lot easier and a lot faster. I didn't always outline though. I was a pantser (write by the seat of your pants) once and back then it took me 7-12 months to complete and edit a novel. Now I have the process so refined that it takes me 4-6 months to write and edit a novel. The numbers are enough to convince me never to go back to my old ways.

However, I don't believe everyone should be an outliner instead of a pantser. You have to find what works for you, what inspires you, and do it. It's all about keeping your muse fed so they keep the inspiration flowing!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Twitter Tuesday~Contests & Advice

This week's tweets were full of great contests and advice for writers. Spring seems to be contest season, yet another great reason to be happy it's here! But first Writer's Digest brings us an interview with agent Doug Grad:
@WritersDigest Interview with lit agent Doug Grad, who seeks nonfiction, fiction, memoir and YA:

If you've ever wondered about the power of Twitter and what it can do for writers then you have to read this link from Writer's Digest:
@WritersDigest How Writers Can Use Twitter for Networking and Success, column by @alexisgrant

Magazine credits under your belt can look great on a query letter. Writer's Digest gives us tips on how to break into their magazine:
@WritersDigest 5 Ways to Break Into Writer's Digest Magazine

Agent Vickie Motter tweeted this great link from one of her clients about improving query letters:
@Vickie_Motter Writing. For Real.: The Evolution of a Query Letter

Agent Vickie Motter tweeted another excellent link about querying tips and a contest you don't want to miss:
@Vickie_Motter Four Querying Tips and a Contest Announcement!

A Twitter friend of mine tweeted this link to another fantastic contest:
@katzni Win a query or first chapter critique from the FIVE girls at Oasis for YA!

And yet another chance to win a query critique, this one tweeted by one of my favorite book reviewers:
@YAFantasyGuide March #Contest: Hey Writers - Win a #Query #Letter Critique from @trydzinski of the Laura Dial Literary Agency!

Quick, start clicking and get in on those contests! Best of luck to all of you!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday's Muse~Battle And Fear

This painting is called The Morning Of The Battle Of Agincourt and is by Sir John Gilbert. It embodied the atmosphere of last week's chapter quite well. Though it may seem like the climax chapter from this painting, it is actually the chapter before the climax. My characters must face what they fear and want most and they'll never be the same. As you might imagine, it was a tough chapter to write because it was so visceral.

I finished The Iron Witch and loved it! It more than passed the test, I will absolutely be buying the sequel! Author Karen Mahoney has made me a fan with that novel. The Clearing by Anne Riley arrived just in time for me to start a new book and wow am I glad it did. So far I am loving this book! I'll let you know how things progress with it. If you want to learn more about it just click on the picture of the cover to the right.

With all the tension and battles I've been writing about lately the only appropriate music seems to be Iron Maiden. No Prayer For The Dying is the song that sticks out most in my mind when I think about last week's chapter.

Do you make your characters face their worst fears and desires? Does it always turn out the way you thought it would when you do? What inspired you last week?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Writing Community Takes Action

Watching the news lately breaks my heart but part of me feels compelled to watch, as if I am somehow obligated to bear witness and remember so the people who have died and suffered will not have done so in vain. Those of you who know that Heather's Odyssey is strictly a writing focused blog may be wondering what this has to do with writing. Life has everything to do with writing for me. Much of what I see and experience makes it into my writing in some way, shape, or form. But it's more than that.

The writing community is one of the most amazing communities I know of because when something bad happens, it comes together to help. In the wake of the horrible tragedy that has befallen Japan the writing community has done just that. Led by author Keris Stainton, a generous group of authors is auctioning off everything from signed books to manuscript critiques. The proceeds will go to relief efforts in Japan. If you've been wondering what you can do to help, this is an excellent avenue. Check out Authors For Japan and bid on something today. Your bid will save lives.

I'm proud to be part of the writing community and organizations like Authors For Japan are a big reason why. All the good intentions in the world are useless without action. We add action to intentions and the world is a little bit better for it. Thank you all for being part of that.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Twitter Tuesday~Agent Search

First I have to welcome all my new followers. I'm blown away by the success of Carol's blog party and am touched by how many people are joining in. You peeps rock! I hope to keep my new followers well entertained and informed. Back to regularly scheduled programming :) It was a good week on Twitter for anyone who is looking for an agent! Don't worry if you missed it though, I've got you covered. This first one is a great workshop mentioned by agent Vickie Motter:
@Vickie_Motter Announcing a Monthly First Five Pages Workshop

One of my new favorite bloggers tweeted this link to help YA Fantasy writers find the right agents:
@YAFantasyGuide Are you a YA Fantasy Writer? Do you know which Agencies will consider your Novel? Here's a Good Place to Start:

If you haven't heard the news about the new agent joining D4EO literary yet, check this out:
@WritersDigest New literary agent seeking young adult and middle grade books: Kristin Miller of D4EO:  #writing #scbwi

The fabulous Shannon Messenger reminds us to mark our calendars for WriteOnCon 2011:
@SW_Messenger Did you see? @WriteOnCon announced the dates for our 2011 conference. MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

You don't want to miss this important link tweeted by agent Vickie Motter on book bloggers:
@Vickie_Motter This is why book bloggers are AMAZING. And why you should pay attention to them:

I hope you got in on this contest, it ended yesterday but I thought I'd include the link anyway:
@Vickie_Motter On @KristineAsselin 's blog: a contest! One of the prizes: me! Other prizes: first page critiques!

Agent Natalie Fischer retweeted this advice from Nathan Bransford who gives us a few valuable query tips:
@Natalie_Fischer RT @NathanBransford Your enemies when writing a query: vagueness, braggadocio, "creative" formatting, logorrhea, comps to Twilight.

I hope at least a few of those were helpful to you. If I missed anything great on Twitter last week that you caught let me know or leave me a link.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Carolina's Agent Signing Mega Celebration

Every now and then something fabulous happens to someone who truly deserves it. Now is one of those times. My dear friend Carolina Valdez Miller just signed with agent Vickie Motter! Two of my favorite people are joining forces and I couldn't be happier! The fact that agents are still looking, still falling in love with books, and still signing clients means the industry is still going strong. That's something we all need to celebrate because you never who could be next, it could be you!

As soon as I heard the news I knew it called for a party, so party we shall! And wow, this is one mega party. Carolina wants to give back and pay it forward~because she is fabulous like that~and I wanted to help her. That means some great giveaways for you! Here are the prizes you can enter to win:

*From Heather's Odyssey winner's choice of
*From Critique Sisters Corner winner's choice of
*From Carolina's blog there will be 5 different winners:
  #1 A 1st page critique from agent Vickie Motter of the Andrea Hurst Literary Agency
  #2 A Kindle (must follow all blogs in the giveaway to qualify)
  #3 Signed copy of Escaping into the Open: the Art of Writing True by Elizabeth Berg
  #4 Signed Hardback of Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready
  #5 Signed Hardback of Passing Strange by Daniel Waters
*From J. Koyanagi (You will need to subscribe or follow her RSS feed)
  One winner will win: WRITING DOWN THE BONES, by Natalie Goldberg or HOW NOT TO WRITE A NOVEL, by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman or GIVE 'EM WHAT THEY WANT: THE RIGHT WAY TO PITCH YOUR NOVEL TO EDITORS AND AGENTS, by Blythe Camenson and Marshall J. Cook
*From Simon Larter One winner will win all three:
Stephen King's ON WRITING, Ray Bradbury's ZEN IN THE ART OF WRITING, and Anne Lamott's BIRD BY BIRD
*From LK Gardner-Griffie (In lieu of a follow, you will need to LIKE her Fan page) TBA
ANGELFIRE by Courtney Allison Moulton, ANNA AND THE FRENCH, KISS by Stephanie Perkins, HEX HALL by Rachel Hawkins, DEMONGLASS by Rachel Hawkins
 Winner 1: A signed copy of THE DARK DIVINE Winner 2: A signed copy of RAISED BY WOLVES Winner 3: WRITE GREAT FICTION: PLOT & STRUCTURE
*From Lola Sharp SECRET
*From Elizabeth Davis A $25 Amazon gift card
*From Tracey Neithercott A Hardcover of Across the Universe
*From Kristen Yard
A Signed copy of PERSONAL DEMONS by Lisa Desrochers
*From Christine Fonseca (You will need to subscribe to her blog):
 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids: The Ultimate Guide Or A partial Critique
*From Jonathon Arntson A $15 Barnes and Noble gift card

The rules: You must be a follower to enter (new and old followers are welcome!) and leave a comment on the post you wish to enter to win. Please see each page for specifics on their prizes and rules. The contests close April 1st and winners will be announced by April 4th. Hurry, click on each of the links and leave a comment! Best of luck everyone!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

WriteOnCon 2011

If you don't know what WriteOnCon is then you are in for a treat. It is only the most awesome phenomenon to sweep the literary online world ever. Okay maybe not ever, but it's close I have no doubt. Last year a group of amazing ladies (some with book deals, some with agents, others with just a lot of heart) got together to put on the first massive free online conference for young adult and middle grade writers. It was beyond awesome.

Top agents and editors attended and contributed in vlogs, live chats, and blog posts. There were giveaways and contests every day, often several different prizes throughout the day. The prizes included books, query critiques, and manuscript critiques. At least one person that I know of ended up with an agent as a result of WriteOnCon 2010. See, awesome!

It was such a huge success that they're doing it again this year. And guess what? It's already started! Monday marked the beginning of the fabulous prizes. Hurry over to the site. There is still plenty of time to enter. And don't forget to mark your calendars for the official WriteOnCon conference this August! See the website for details and to keep up on future contests.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Twitter Tuesday~Contests, Opportunities With Agents, & More

There are some tweets in here you don't want to miss! The first one up is a cruise with~among others~the fabulous Deidre Knight of The Knight Agency. I wish I could go in an awful way! If you get to go be sure to tell me all about it:
@DeidreKnight I'm going to be speaking on a fab cruise in Aug! Intimate group, great chance to interact with me on a vacay! Deadline soon!

Here is some big news shared by a Twitter friend of mine about the changing model for E-books involving the Big Six publishers:
@debamarshall The last of the Big Six makes its change Random House Switches to Agency Model For E-book Sales:

Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest shares his interview with agent Eddie Schneider. If you write MG or YA you must check this out:
@ChuckSambuchino Interview with agent Eddie Schneider of JABberwocky Literary who is seeking fiction, kids fiction & nonfiction

Writer's Digest features agent Andrea Hurst in a webinar that includes a free critique for those joining in:
@WritersDigest Lit agent Andrea Hurst is teaching a webinar on writing dynamite fiction (includes free critique!) - Mar 3 -

I hope you had a chance to participate in this opportunity with The Knight Agency. If you did and you make it through be sure to let me know and I'll cheer you on!
@KnightAgency Remember the mondo-sized contest we teased yesterday? The preview is up! Want to b a part of the TKA fam? Here's how:

Jane Friedman of Writer's Digest shares a transcript of her fabulous chat full of great tips for writers:
@JaneFriedman Here's a transcript of my chat at #bookmarket. Full of good social media tips:

For those who have voted for my novel, The Secret Of Spruce Knoll, in the Gatekeeper Writer Discovery contest, thanks a million. I truly appreciate it. If you haven't caught it yet or just want a peek at my writing check it out:
@HeatherMcCorkle For a taste of my #writing check out my Gatekeeper contest entry: Thanks to all who have voted, love yah!

Already the great tweets from this week are racking up and I'm excited about what I'll have to share with you next Tuesday!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday's Muse~Fae Warrior

Last week's chapter was so dark and emotionally charged that at times it was really hard to write. Those are the ones that turn out the best for me though so I made my way through it. That's probably why the climax is often so difficult for me to write. The entire story comes together and my heart and soul goes into it. Ah but what a feeling, being so close to the end! I'm only a few chapters away now.

I'm still reading The Iron Witch, and loving it more with each page, but I'm almost done with it! Last week I bought The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell~whom I love~and The Clearing by Anne Riley~whom I love~so I have no idea which I'm going to read first. Can't wait! By the way, you can still enter to win a copy of The Clearing by going here.

The music that fed my muse this last week was the Dropkick Murphy's new CD, Going Out In Style. I’m a huge fan and as soon as I heard they had a new CD out I HAD to buy it. Wow am I glad I did.

Do you love writing the climax of your novel or do you find it a challenge? What inspired you this week?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

March Debut Author~Anne Riley

This month it is my pleasure to feature my good friend, Anne Riley. I  have had the pleasure of sharing a bit of her journey to publication and am really excited about her debut novel, The Clearing. First a bit about The Clearing.

Natalie Watson doesn’t believe the reports about the way her parents died. In fact, she’s not sure she believes in much of anything these days. But after moving from her home in Georgia to her aunt’s boarding school in Maine, solving the mystery of her parents’ deaths is just one of several things on her mind. When she’s not fending off attacks from the popular kids or taking refuge in the pages of a novel, she ponders the rumors circulating about a certain boy in her math class… a boy with fiery red hair who never speaks to anyone.

Despite suspicions that he may have murdered his sister a year earlier, Natalie finds it impossible to stay away from Liam Abernathy – especially when he confesses to knowing something about her parents. Soon she’s following him into the forest, where things happen she doesn’t understand… things that shouldn’t be possible….

Please welcome Anne Riley! The Clearing sounds so mysterious Anne! The description sucked me right in. I'm curious, what drove you to write this type of novel?
Anne: I guess the starting point was a quote I read (or heard) somewhere: "Don't write what you know, because that's boring. Write the book you want to read." I'm a huge science fiction nerd and have always been intrigued by the idea of time travel, so I knew I wanted that to be a major element in the story. I'm also really interested in Celtic/British history, so that became a big part of it, too. And of course I love a good murder mystery! Combine all those things and you get a pretty awesome time-travelling-druid-colonial-slash-present-day-whodunit. Or something like that.

I just have to say how awesome that sounds! What was your favorite part of writing this novel? Anne: I truly believe this is a unique, fun, mysterious, escape-from-real-life kind of story and I hope everyone will love it as much as I do!
Anne: Oh my gosh, this is going to sound horrible, but one of my favorite scenes is where I killed off one of my characters. I won't say who it is, because, hello, spoiler... but I wrote it in such a way that when you read it, you're not exactly positive that this character is about to die. You know something really bad is about to happen and then BAM! the chapter ends and you're just dying (har har) to know if the character is dead or if they got out of the situation somehow. It's a really short scene and your average reader probably wouldn't pick up on just how much fun I had writing it, but it was a blast.

You're killing me! LOL! No pun intended. But Seriously, is there anything juicy you can tell us about The Clearing that we may not know from your website?
Anne: Juicy, eh? Ha! Actually, one of the characters in the book wears a pair of pants that say "Juicy" on the back. Does that count?

Too funny! I totally didn't plan that peeps. Of course it counts! What do you have in store for us after The Clearing?
Anne: I'm currently in the second round of revisions with a project called Synthesis. It will go through editor submissions just like The Clearing did, and I have high hopes that a publisher will want to take it in, give it a cup of hot chocolate, and make it over until it sparkles. But if not, I've got no problem self-publishing again. Obviously the ultimate dream is to be published by a major house, though, and that's what I'm still shooting for. While Synthesis is on submission, I would love to write a sequel to The Clearing. I don't think I'm done with Liam and Natalie just yet!

That is great news! I love sequels! Which character was the most fun, interesting, or challenging to write and why?
Anne: I loved, loved, loved writing the character of Michelle Donahue. She's Natalie's roommate, and she's just so awesomely bad. I basically wrote her as my version of the roommate from hell and then made her super catty. Michelle will drive you up the wall and make you burst out laughing at the same time. Love to hate her!

Sounds like you have a lot of fun in store for us with The Clearing. Any closing thoughts to leave us with?

I have a feeling a lot of people will be really enjoying it! Thank you so much for joining us Anne. Normally you peeps know I don't do giveaways with my Debut features but this one is special so guess what, giveaway time! Go here to enter to win a copy of The Clearing or if you're impatient like me you can go here and order it right now!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Twitter Tuesday~Writer Contest & Agent Advice

I've had a busy week and didn't make it onto Twitter much but I did manage to catch a few great tweets for you. And as you can see, I've been doing some early spring cleaning on Heather's Odyssey. I hope you like the fresh look! Great news for young adult writers everywhere! Fabulous agent Weronika Janczuk will now be accepting young adult. If you don't know who Weronika is you've got to check her out:
@WeronikaJanczuk New blog post! What I Will Be Looking For In YA: When I reopen to queries on March 8th, I will also be opening t...

Writer and friend, Iris Blasi tweeting this great link to Twitter's affect on publishing that you don't want to miss:
@IrisBlasi "How Twitter is Helping Publishers Reach 100,000 Readers 140 Characters at a Time"

Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest shares his interview with agent Kathleen Ortiz:
@ChuckSambuchino Interview w/ lit agent Kathleen Ortiz (@KOrtizzle) on the GLA blog!

Anica Rissi, editor of Simon Pulse shares a link to an outstanding contest for young adult writers:
@editrixanica The Gatekeepers Post is hosting a contest for YA writers on Wattpad. I'm one of the judges. $500 prize, 3/30 deadline.  (But if you saw my post on this contest you know that isn't the real prize!).

Agent Vickie Motter shares one of her pet peeves and gives us a great writing tip:
@Vickie_Motter Please don't underline things in a manuscript. They hurt my brain. Italicize them please. #writingtips

They may be few in number but hopefully you'll find these tweets very useful!