Category Archives: middle grade fiction

Pitch Wars, Here I Come

motivation

I have a completed mg manuscript that generated many requests but in the end no cigar!

I have a completed YA manuscript that generated many requests but in the end no cigar!

I BELIEVE in both of these manuscripts. I LOVE both of these manuscripts. I poured blood, sweat and tears into these manuscripts.

I want to understand what’s wrong with them. I want to understand how to make them better.

So, I have decided that I’m going to participate in Pitch Wars again this year. I’m still deciding which one of my babies (manuscript) to enter.

Wish me luck. If you are participating in Pitch Wars and want to swap pages or bounce ideas off of each other, leave a comment or find me on the Pitch Wars forums. I posted the first 250 words of both for review.

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Filed under BLOG, Fiction, middle grade fiction, pitch wars, Uncategorized, writers, writing, Writing, Young Adult

CONGRATULATIONS

and-the-winner-is-oscar-37748

Congratulations Medeia you are the winner of the signed copy Road to Tater Hill! You have commented on many of my giveaways prior to this but this is your first win. I will be sending you the book asap. Please send me a comment after you read the book letting me know how you liked it.

Readers, if you are interested in me interviewing you for my blog leave a comment an I will arrange everything.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Filed under Author Interview, books, Fiction, Giveaway, middle grade fiction, writer's life, writers

Getting Rid of My Book’s “Baby Fat”


I’m approaching the end of my YA novel titled The Cult. I have been writing this suspense novel for about two years. The idea came to me in a dream right around the time Nanowrimo was about to start. I was about three chapters into a middle-grade novel (I’m excited to get back to that one) when my sister-in-law presented me with a challenge. “Hey, let’s do Nanowrimo,” she said. She had been contemplating writing a book for some time and Nanowrimo was the push she needed to get started. I accepted her challenge and began writing never realizing at the time it would take me two years to finish the book I never planned on writing. Writing this book was different from the others I have written. It was the first time I chose to just keep writing and not look back. My previous books I would write a chapter, edit a chapter, and then continue. I took more of an organic approach with this one and I’m hopeful it will pay off.

Growing up in an Italian family meant that eating was good. The more you ate the healthier you were. As I got older I realized that what I ate mattered more than how much I ate. It was time to get rid of the “baby fat”. Today I am getting rid of my book’s “baby fat” and replacing it with healthier options. I have to be honest with myself and admit that some of what I wrote was nothing more than junk or fillers. At the time it sounded good but in the end it weighed the book down. The junk made the pace sluggish and hid the story inside.

It’s time to sculpt my book and help it become the best version of itself. I don’t want it to be filled with empty words. I want it to be healthy and full but not stuffed.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on editing your book for publication. How do you know when your story is weighed down?

“Do you have a hard time putting your book on a “diet”?

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10 Reasons Writers Can be Labled Crazy


1. They are forever talking to themselves
2. They have imaginary friends
3. They are known to cyber stalk agents, editors and publishers
4. They often go into a zone making them appear catatonic
5. They can be found wearing the same clothes for days, especially when hammering out final drafts and edits
6. At any given time you can find them laughing out loud or crying uncontrollably while no one else is sitting by them (The outside world does not realize they might have just thought of a great ending or an extremely funny scene)
7. They often stare at people which others may find rude, but to us it is observation
8. They possess many obsessive compulsive qualities such as checking their e-mail every two minutes, looking up their blog statistics every five minutes and lurking around twitter to see if an agent they queried mentions something that can possibly relate to what they sent
9. Interrupting them can cause them to shake and scream
10. They live in fantasy worlds

Did I miss anything?

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Filed under audience, books, character, character building, constructing, creating, editing, emotions, Fiction, Inspirational, life, meme, middle grade fiction, query, random, routine, stories, story telling, story writing, Voice, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing, Young Adult

My First Literary Interview

Lydias Literary Lowdown with Lydia Aswolf 3/1/2011 – WGGM | Internet Radio | Blog Talk Radio.

 

I recently was interviewed by Lydia Aswolf over at Lydia’s Literary Lowdown. It was my first literary interview. She was fabulous and asked me some great questions. We talked about the journey a writer takes, where my inspiration comes from, finding time to write and the process of shopping my book around (The Graveyard Five). Today, I am posting the interview on my blog. I hope you like what you hear. Happy Writing!

I am trying to build my platform. What are some things that you have done to try and build a platform?

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Filed under Author Interview, character, character building, constructing, creating, editing, emotions, Fiction, Inspirational, life, meme, middle grade fiction, novel, platform building, query, random, rejections, stories, story telling, story writing, Style, Uncategorized, Voice, writer's life, writers, Writing, Young Adult

Writing About Love Giveaway

Happy Valentines Day! Love, aah yes, it’s what makes the world go around. We all look for it, give it, receive it and would have a hard time living without it. Love is a writer’s friend. If you are a writer then chances are you have written about love.

Today is a good day to write. It is a day of observation. Take the time to focus on what emotions are being displayed. Is there a co-worker that is in a terrible mood because her and her significant other called it quits and today she has no valentine?

Did you witness flowers being delivered to an unsuspecting person? How did they respond?

I’m willing to bet that every novel written has some element of love within its pages. It can be materialistic love, sibling love, romantic love, love of power, platonic love or unconditional. Love is not just mushy. It can be the root to violence, insecurities, and betrayal.

Today’s post is a writing exercise. It has two parts.

First Part- Take one of your favorite novels down from the shelf and begin exploring the pages. Where did the author write about love? What type of scene did they create? How did you feel after reading their words? Did anything about their words inspire you?

Second Part- Create your own love scene. Remember it doesn’t have to be sunshine, rainbows, kisses and hugs. It could be storms, rocky roads and sacrifice.

Writing Prompt: Lexie stepped off of the train (What does Lexie stepping off of a train have to do with love? Was she meeting up with the guy she left everything for? Was she returning home to tend to a sick parent? Was she following her dreams?)

You could go anywhere with one sentence. What the heck let me see where you take this and you might win a surprise. I’m in the mood for a giveaway.

Make me feel love in 100 words or less and you may be a winner.

Because this giveaway was spontaneous I do not yet know what the gift will be but I promise it will be well thought out.

Love and Kisses xoxoxoxo

Maribeth

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She’ll Be Coming

For the last few months I have waited with bated breath to hear back from my dream agent on whether or not she liked my manuscript and if she would be offering representation. It was a three step process. First, she liked my query and asked to see the first three chapters. I hurriedly sent her the requested material and crossed my fingers. I waited a few months. I was thrilled when the e-mail came and she asked me to forward her the full manuscript. I was so close to having an agent of my own. But, instead of getting an offer I got rejected. It was a very helpful rejection but nonetheless a rejection.

So, here I am back to square one. There has been one song that keeps playing over and over in my mind, it is…

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Not Everything Can Be Made Up When Writing Fiction

Writing fiction can be extraordinary fun. You get to create worlds, explore myths and dabble with creation. You can write about a Stratabear (completely made up) living on a cloud drinking raindrops while sprinkling rays of sunshine on unsuspecting guests. You can make this rare bear have a super long tail, cat like whiskers and tye-dyed eyes.

Yes, fiction can be fun but it is important to remember not everything should be made up if you want to be taken seriously as a writer. If you are writing about how the Stratabear only comes off of the cloud to feed his honeysuckle sucking habit, you cannot say that his favorite month to suck the sweet flower is December. Why not? Because, Honeysuckle does not grow in December. (If you want it to be December, you must come up with an explanation of why it is growing in December so if the reader questions this you have an answer ready)

You can have the most imaginative piece of work but if the facts are wrong, your highly fantastical tale may get dismissed.

When I began writing fiction, I thought every thing could be made up and nothing had to be checked. Thanks to several writing courses I learned that lack of research is a quick way to get your work dismissed.

Below is a list of things to think about when creating fiction.

• If you are writing a period piece, familiarize yourself with the era. Eg. What names were popular? What style of clothing was worn? What was going on in the world?
• If you mention a plant or flower make sure you are in the right month. (See above, Honeysuckle does not grow in December)
• If you mention a real town, make sure you know facts about that town such as the weather patterns, schools, landmarks etc.
• If you mention a famous piece of literature make sure you have read it and know who wrote it. (Imagine saying something like Stephanie loved Romeo and Juliet, it was one of her favorite stories by Hemingway) Something like this might get your manuscript tossed into a paper shredder
• If you are writing about a character with a specific occupation, be sure you know what that occupation entails.
• If you are writing about natural disasters, make sure you are in the right State. E.g. Pennsylvania is not known for large Earthquakes. It doesn’t mean that PA can never have an earthquake, but it does mean that the characters won’t be complaining that they are sick of living in PA because of the Earthquakes (Unless of course you make up a futuristic story that explains why all of the sudden PA suffers from frequent quakes).

I can go on and on but I think the point has been made. Writing fiction does not mean that you never have to research. Get your facts straight. Don’t jeopardize your career because you didn’t feel like doing the legwork.

Are you a fiction writer? What do you love about writing fiction?

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Thinking about Writing is Not Writing, but…

Too often, I find myself thinking about writing while driving, thinking about writing while working, thinking about writing while sitting on the couch which leads to me telling myself Hey Mar, thinking about writing is not writing.
Thinking about writing is not writing but it may be just as important. I have found that a lot of my best ideas came at my laziest of moments. There have been times where I sat down to write only to come up with nothing. I’d feel sorry for myself and decide that instead of wrestling with the emptiness of my mind, I’d go take a nap. Sure, the first few seconds I’d curse myself and call myself some unflattering names but then something almost magical would happen. As I lay there in a stupor a blink of an idea would flicker. A character I’d never met would introduce itself. A scenario I hadn’t imagined would dance across my thoughts and before I knew it, I was jumping off of the couch.
Why didn’t the ideas come to me while sitting in my writing chair? Why didn’t these characters say hello when my fingers were tapping the keyboard? Why didn’t the scenario shout to me when I was sitting there staring at a blank page?
I have come to the realization that our brains need rest and much like a baby sometimes they don’t act on command. It is easy to think about what you will write when you are not writing because nothing is expected of you in that moment. Your mind is free to roam. It’s not in the spotlight so to speak therefore it is filtering out junk without you even realizing.
I think I figured it out. We have to trick our minds into thinking we are not going to write. We have to play reverse psychology with our own psyches.
If you make mental notes when you are thinking about writing, you might find a plethora of material waiting for you when you sit down to actually write.

Do you think about writing more than you write?
Where are some places you find yourself thinking about writing?
Do you agree that once you walk away from writing that your mind fills with great writing material?

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Critiquing Etiquette


Today’s post will be dedicated to critiquing etiquette. In my previous post, I listed a bunch of blogs that I thought about writing but didn’t and promised to write the one that got the most comments. Jan from Crazy Jane the writing life of Jan Morrison left the first comment advising she’d be interested in reading a blog on proper critique etiquette. Jan, this one is for you. Medeia Sharif commented that she liked “Thinking about Writing is Not Writing”, stay tuned for that blog post.

Early in my writing career I learned that to become a great writer you must trust others to help you see the error of your ways. I was lucky enough to find a great critique group lead by an excellent writer. Throughout the years some of the writers left the group for different reasons but every one of them helped me learn the craft.
I believe the most important thing to remember when critiquing the work of another is to do it with class.
* Don’t be sarcastic
* Don’t critique the person, critique their work
* Don’t compare their writing to yours
* Don’t focus on negative things only
* Don’t tell them that their story will never sell
* Don’t make them hate writing
* Don’t be afraid to be honest
Where you are weak someone else is strong and vice versa. I might be weak in punctuation and grammar but strong in plot structure. I could have a great plot but if my commas are in the wrong places and my sentences are run-ons, an agent or publisher might reject me quicker than a child going down a water slide.

*Do let the writer know any spots that confuse you. Sometimes the writer thinks they are conveying exactly what walks around in their mind when they are not.

* Be honest but tactful. Always add some sugar to your words. Don’t make your fellow writer feel like they have just been punched in the stomach. Do say something like “I like the imagery in this scene but I am not sure it offers any merit to the story.”
Don’t say something like “This scene is completely irrelevant. I think my fifth grader could do better.”

*If you are going to offer a critique, don’t be lazy about it. There is nothing worst than receiving a critique that only has a comment every ten pages. If you think the story and writing is superb and needs no adjustments for several pages list something positive, like “Wow, I just read through two chapters without stopping,” or “I loved this sentence.” The smallest comment can build confidence.

*Critique someone else’s work the way you would like your work critiqued.

*Try and keep your deadlines. I have only participated in online critique groups. I have never attended a face to face critique session. The way our online critique group worked was we had six members, three would submit in the beginning of the month and three at the end. We requested that all critiques be sent in no longer than three weeks. (You can decide your own time frames).

*If you are providing a critique and sending it via e-mail, be sure that your comments are written in a different font color. Imagine how difficult it would be to search for comments if everything was in black.

*If you cannot give a critique for any reason please let the receiver know. It is not nice to make them wait only to tell them later that you didn’t get to it. Sometimes life interferes with commitments. When this happens it is okay to inform your peers that you won’t be able to offer a critique this time around due to whatever circumstance arises.
An instructor once told me to immediately start editing after receiving a critique. She explained it is better because everything will be fresh in your mind. I have found that this cannot always be done. It is okay to skim through a critique and then tuck it away for a week. Many times comments or suggestions that made me want to cry initially became much clearer and made perfect sense a few days later.

What did I forget? Are you in a critique group? What makes a good critique group?

*There are no mistakes in writing only lessons to be learned*

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