Sunday, February 27, 2011

Writing Challenge

I was googling writing competitions and ran across one where entrants were to write the first line of a novel. The only rule was it had to be 25 words or less and had to include the words lucky, charm, and calamity. Judges would pick the sentence that intrigued them most. This made me curious. What would you guys write, and which one of my sentences would you pick? Here's what I came up with.

1. I fingered the silver charm, thinking how lucky I was that at least it had survived the horrible calamity otherwise known as my mother's life.
 2. His luck was feigned, but his charm was intoxicating, and it drew me into the calamity like all the other girls who came before me.  
So, show me what you're made of! What sentences can you guys come up with? Remember to follow the rules. Feel free to post your creations in a comment, and don't forget to let me know which one of my sentences you think I should enter in the contest. Hope you're having a great weekend! :)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Writing Woes

Brace yourselves. I have terrible news. I’ll warn you. You might want to sit down for this. *Amy takes a deep breath.* Here we go….
After weeks of waiting, Amazon finally posted the names of the writers and manuscripts that will be advancing to the next round of their Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition, and Saving Elizabeth wasn’t on it.
*gasp* I know!!!! *cue depressing music*
I think I’ve experienced every level of emotion one can when given such a situation. First, there was disbelief.
*Amy checks the list.* What? I’m not there! My name is not there! It has to be! Maybe they posted my real name, and not my pen name. *Amy checks the list again.* Okay, don’t panic. Maybe they accidentally placed the name out of order. *Amy scrolls down the list of 1000 alphabetically ordered names. Still…nothing.* Maybe they got my entry mixed up and posted my name on the wrong list. After all, there are two – one for young adult fiction, and one for adult general fiction. *Amy carefully scrolls down the second list. It isn’t there. Even though she knows it must be true, she can’t help but recheck the lists several more times throughout the day, hoping the judges will announce on the forums they’ve made a mistake, and accidentally left Saving Elizabeth off of the list.*
No such luck!
Next, there was doubt.
Maybe I’m a terrible writer. First the rejection letters, and now this! My work isn’t good enough to be published. What was I thinking? *Amy begins to mope.*
Then, there was nothing.
*Amy goes about her business* Maybe if I fill every possible moment of my day with teaching, my mind won’t wander to the self doubts.
Next, there was the desire to grab those bootstraps. (Unfortunately, I was wearing flip flops today so this took a little longer than it probably should have.)
You know what, Amy? This means nothing. One stranger does not determine your abilities as a writer. Maybe you need to reformat your pitch. Maybe you need to step away from this manuscript altogether for a while so you can come back to it later with fresh eyes.  Yes, that’s what you need to do. Just pick yourself up by the bootstraps and go on.
Finally, there was determination.
Start writing that new story, now! Saving Elizabeth was your first novel. In a way, you were just getting your feet wet…testing the waters so to speak. You’ve grown so much as a writer in the past year.  Get to work on this new manuscript so that when the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition rolls around next year, you’ll have something that they won’t be able to pass up. *Amy begins to scribble her new story ideas onto the back of a receipt she found floating in the bottom of her purse*
So, there you have it. I was on the biggest emotional roller coaster today that Amazon had to offer, and it was no fun. At times, I felt as if I needed a barf bag, but the end result was a more determined writer who was ready to get to work on the next chapter of her nonexistent writing career. Congratulations to those who made it to the next round. I wish all of you luck. :)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sharing the Love

Hi, everyone! I hope this post finds you happy, healthy, and blessed. I’ve stumbled across some really helpful writing blogs and websites, and I’d like to share these little nuggets with you.  I’m a firm believer in sharing with others, so keep an eye on this post. I’ll be updating it as I come across things that I think might be helpful to fellow writers. Enjoy!

*When I edited this to add other sites, I accidentally erased my old ones. Don't worry! I'll repost them, along with other great sites soon!

Monday, February 7, 2011

It Was a Dark and Stormy Blogfest Contest!

Brenda Blake is holding a first line contest where writers post the first lines of their manuscripts in their blogs. People critique them. Once the critiquing is done, we post the first lines back on her blog on February 9th at the following link:  Here's my first line. Tell me what you guys think!

Name: Amy Machelle
Title: Saving Elizabeth
Genre: YA Paranormal Romace

"Don't do it, Abby!"

The prize is a critique on part of a manuscript and query letter with agent, Weronika Janczuk. Pretty cool, right?

Your thoughts? Please post them in a comment below. Also, if you are a participant in the contest as well, please leave a link to your blog in the comment so I can give your first line some feedback. Thanks. :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

New Idea! What Do You Think?

So...Friday night was a very interesting night for me. I've been having problems sleeping, so my doctor recommended I go through a sleep study to see if they could get to the bottom of the problem. Reluctantly, I agreed. When I got to the facility on Friday night where the study would take place, they led me into a room that looked very similar to a hotel room.

"Not so bad," I thought. There was a flat screen on the wall, nice furniture, a comfy bed. "Maybe this won't be so horrible after all."

Boy, was I wrong! After changing into my pajamas and about an hour of "relaxing" (surfing the web, watching T.V., reading) they came into my room to hook me up to tons of wires that would monitor my breathing, movements, and brain activity during sleep. Talk about strange! I had wires attached to almost every part of my body. Hooking these wires up was a pretty long and tedious process, but the up side was getting to talk to the nurse whose job it was to make me look like a freak. (Seriously, with all of the wires, I looked like I had just stepped off of the set of Lady Gaga's newest music video.) To pass the time, I asked the nurse all about her job and the strange things she'd seen while working there. She told me stories of sleep walkers, dream reenactors, screamers, and people who had seizures in their sleep. Interesting...

When we finally finished, the nurse told me there was a speaker in the room where we could communicate during the night if we needed. There was also a camera that would video the entire night. Weird, right? I kept thinking of how strange it would be to have her be sitting in a little room into the wee hours of the night, watching someone sleep on a freaky it might be to watch someone do some of the things she was telling me about. Right then and there, an idea for a new story began to form.

What if I wrote a story about a young nurse who worked at a sleep study center like the one I was at? What if this job was new to her, and she hadn't quite gotten used to being all alone at night, watching the complexities of someone sleep?  What if a strange new patient checked in? A young, frightened girl complaining of lifelike nightmares? I can imagine the nurse hooking the young girl up to the wires, calling for lights out, then watching the monitors in a small dark office. The girl peacefully falls asleep. After several hours, the nurse looks up to see the girl standing in front of the monitor, staring wide eyed into the camera lens. The nurse tries to communicate with the girl through the speaker.
"Sarah, I need you to get back into bed."
No response.
"Sarah, can you hear me?"
The nurse walks into Sarah's room, but by the time she gets there, all is as it should be. Sarah is back in bed and fast asleep. This happens several times throughout the night, but things get even stranger. The nurse swears she hears voices in the room.
Maybe I'm just tired. After is 3:00 a.m. and I've been alone, staring at a screen all night.
The nurse listens as Sarah begins to talk in her sleep. The talking turns into screams and abnormalities in brain activity. The nurse rushes to Sarah's room just as the girl begins to convluse. She turns on the lights and grabs Sarah's arm to wake her, only to discover she isn't in the sleep study center anymore. Somehow, by making physical contact with Sarah, she has been transported into the young girl's mind. She finds herself face to face with the subjects of Sarah's nighmares, and understands just why Sarah has been so frightened. There's a spiritual battle going on...a battle for Sarah's mind and soul, and it's at night when the demons come out to play.

So...what do you guys think? I don't have everything quite mapped out in my head yet, but I know the nurse will be the key in saving Sarah and defeating the darkness. Please comment and let me know if this is something you would be interested in reading. Any and all feedback is welcome!