Weekend Writing Warriors

Hey there! Winter break is coming to an end, so only two more posts until I have to go back for spring semester. Going to make the most of it, though 🙂 To meet some new authors, read some great writing, or join in the 8-sentence fun, stop by at Weekend Writing Warriors!

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This is a direct continuation from last week’s snippet (here). In this scene, Falcon has been captured by the Helyx gang and is being harvested for her Amaranthine magic. Creative punctuation has been used to fit into the eight sentences.

_________

The boy seemed eager to comply.

I grit my teeth against another scream as his ragged knife tore into my flesh, prying skin from muscle–Desperately, I tried to focus my energy as Asa had tried so often to teach me, his chest glowing with energy, skin and fiber knit together at his touch.

But nothing happened.

Of course it didn’t, it was hopeless–I may have Amaranthine blood, but I was pathetically, hopelessly human.

Scar leaned against the wall, sipping from the bowl as he watched the boy harvest me. I stared at him, and willed all of my rage against him–He was everything in this world I hated. He had hurt the only friends I ever had before I met the pack, he hurt everyone he ever came in contact with, and enjoyed it–He lived off of everyone else’s pain.

And now he was going to kill me.

_________

That’s it! Read on next week to find out what happens 🙂 I cant wait to read all of your snippets this week, happy 8sunday!

Blog Post and Novel Excerpt © Victoria Davenport and the Coffee.Write.Repeat. blog

Love Hurts

If you’ve ever been in love, or any kind of relationship, you probably know that love can hurt. It can be messy, complicated, and sometimes leaves no survivors. In real life, love is very rarely the simple happily ever after fairytale.

One of the things I love about YA is that it doesn’t flinch away from the complicated and heavy parts of life. It deals with every raw part of teenager’s lives, from first loves to loss. I think as authors we have a responsibility in that. To not just write about these, but write them authentically.

Just because it is YA doesn’t mean we should “water down” things. Life is not watered down. And especially in these dark fictional worlds, teenage characters deal with very adult problems, just like in real life. There’s a fantastic post on this by author Kate Brauning, which you can read here.

With all of that in mind, I’ve still struggled with how dark and twisted to go in my often dark and twisted fantasy. I want to be true to my characters and my world, but within the realms of YA and without alienating certain readers. I know how crucial YA was to me while I was growing up, and how much I learned, so I want to be able to give that same experience to younger readers.

But more than that, I’ve had a hard time with the romance in my story. From the very beginning, even before I wrote a single word, I knew Falcon was going to be with Hawke. They are perfect for each other, a team. And while they do have some conflict over outside events, they don’t really have any issues between them.

Then came a new character, Crow. I never intended for him to be a romantic interest, not even slightly. But the more I wrote, the harder it became to ignore. There was just something between him and Falcon, no matter how I tried to deny it. A pull, a spark, whatever you want to call it, it was there, and it wasn’t going away.

The problem is, Crow has issues. A lot of issues. I mean, he’s an assassin for a gang lord and comes from a severely abusive and messed up background. He isn’t capable of a healthy relationship. For him, everything is messy, no matter how good he tries to be. But when my CP first read EMBER, one of the first things she said was this is who Falcon should be with, their chemistry is tangible.

So how do I choose? Do I choose the character she should be with, the one who would make a great relationship and role model for love? Or do I choose the one who I know will cause her pain, but might actually be the stronger, greater love, even if it’s not always healthy?

Honestly, I still don’t have it entirely figured out. I have strong reasoning and motivation for both. But reading Kate Brauning’s post and some of her other tweets helped to open my eyes. YA relationships don’t have to be perfect. Really, they shouldn’t. Because real life relationships, especially teenage ones, are rarely perfect. It would give me an opportunity to really explore the ups and downs of relationships, all the messy tangles of love. Not to mention that the rocky, imperfect love might simply make for a better story.

What do you think? Do you prefer characters who are perfect for each other and relationships that are healthy? Or a more raw, complicated love story that might be a little more true to real experience, especially in YA?

Weekend Writing Warriors

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you enjoyed the holidays 🙂 To meet some new authors, read some great writing, or join in the 8-sentence fun, stop by at Weekend Writing Warriors!

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This is a continuation from last week’s snippet (here), though a couple paragraphs have been skipped. In this scene, Falcon has been captured by the Helyx gang and is being harvested for her Amaranthine magic. Creative punctuation has been used to fit into the eight sentences.

_________

I could see the taint of madness in his eyes–He was beyond reason, but I had to try. “But my blood is tainted with humanity–You can’t know what effect it will have on you.”

Scar laughed, a sound that reached out with dead fingers and gripped me by the bones, “Lying isn’t going to save you–You’re nobody’s Pet now. We’ll drop your body off at your doorstep so your perfect little family can see the pain you died in.” He ordered the boy with the knife to bring over the bowl that collected my blood–It sloshed with the movement, a dark red-black, and laced with a shimmer that only I could see–Amaranthine.

As I watched, Scar raised it to his lips and drank. He grinned, and his teeth shone red with blood–A wolf tearing into a kill.

“I’m done with her–Drain all of it, even if she’s dead.”

_________

There you go! I will continue this scene next week, so make sure you check it out 🙂 Thank you for reading, and look forward to your snippets this week! Happy 8sunday!

Blog Post and Novel Excerpt © Victoria Davenport and the Coffee.Write.Repeat. blog

Weekend Writing Warriors

Hey there! Hope you all had a fantastic Christmas 🙂 To meet some new authors, read some great writing, or join in the 8-sentence fun, stop by at Weekend Writing Warriors!

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This is a direct continuation from last week’s snippet (here). In this scene, Falcon has been captured by the Helyx gang and is being harvested for her Amaranthine magic. Creative punctuation has been used to fit into the eight sentences.

_________

“What do you want?” I hissed through clenched teeth, “I’m not with Crank anymore.”

“Yeah, I know, got yourself a pretty little family now–But this has nothing to do with Crank, I only want you.”

“If you’re going to kill me, just get it over with–You get nothing out of torturing me.”

A snake of a smile crept across his lips, “Oh I’m not torturing you, but you’ve been keeping that precious magic of yours all to yourself–It’s rude not to share, ya know.”

The other thugs laughed, too hard–Eager to please their master. They were weak, nothing more than sheep following a wolf, but I knew just the monster that Scar was. I’d seen the marks he used to leave on the other girls–Being Crank’s Pet was the only thing that had saved me from him. But there was nothing to save me now.

_________

Thanks for reading! I will continue this scene next week, so I hope you stop by. I look forward to reading all your amazing posts this week! Happy 8sunday 🙂

Blog Post and Novel Excerpt © Victoria Davenport and the Coffee.Write.Repeat. blog

Weekend Writing Warriors

Hey all! It’s been a long time, but I am finally on Christmas break and I’m so excited to be able to join in again for a little while 🙂 I thought I would share some snippets from my manuscript Ember, which is out on submissions now. You can read my previous WeWriWa snippets here. To meet some new authors, read some great writing, or join in the 8-sentence fun, stop by at Weekend Writing Warriors!

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In this scene, Falcon has been lured and captured by the Helyx gang and wakes up being harvested for her Amaranthine magic. Creative punctuation has been used to fit into the eight sentences.

_________

Pain snapped me back into awareness.

A scream tore from my throat at the fire lacing its way up my arm–I opened my eyes to find a Helyx tracing the lines in my skin with his knife. I thrashed against my bonds, and the knife jolted across my arm, taking strips of flesh as it went.

A man watched from the end of the room, his eyes wicked in the flicker of candle-light–A scar ran from his forehead to his jaw, revealing him as the leader of the Helyx gang, Scar. “Stop,” he said to the boy cutting my arm,  “I want to talk with her.”

He stopped–The blade dripped blood onto the floor in fat drops. My fists curled, my nails dug into my palms to fight the pain in my arm.

“Didn’t think you would see me again, did you Pet?” Scar taunted with a grin.

_________

There you have it! The next few posts will continue this scene, so I hope you come back next week. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with y’all and reading all the great posts this week! Happy 8sunday 🙂

Blog Post and Novel Excerpt © Victoria Davenport and the Coffee.Write.Repeat. blog

A Survivors Guide to Pitch Contests

Hey y’all! I don’t know if you saw, but #pitmad #SFFpit and #PitchMas all happened in the last two weeks! If you don’t know, or have never heard of them, these are all really awesome contests where you pitch your MS in 140 characters or less, and agents/editors stalk the feed and make requests. It might seem like a one in a million chance of anything actually coming out of this, but you’d be amazed how many success stories there are.

This was probably my second or third #SFFpit and my fifth or sixth pitch contest overall. The first time, I had no idea what I was doing. It was bad. But I had fun, and I’ve learned a lot in the times since then, so I wanted to share it with y’all so you don’t have to go through all of the trial and error that I did.

Here’s the top things I’ve learned from pitch contests:

1. Don’t be intimidated. It can seem overwhelming at first, especially with how big #pitmad and #SFFpit have gotten. There are seriously big names scanning the feed, and a lot of competition. But here’s the thing: if it doesn’t work out, nothing happens. You quite literally have nothing to lose. I love pitch contests because it’s another way to throw your hat in the ring, without all the time, effort, and stress of querying. Plus, all that “competition” is actually really awesome, which brings me to my next point.

2. You will meet amazing people. I’ve learned since joining writerly Twitter that really, no one knows what they’re doing either. At first I saw the other writers on #pitmad and #SFFpit as competition, but now I realize we’re all comrades. Every pitch contest, I get new followers and make a bunch of new connections. Plus, everyone is so supportive and friendly and it’s all just amazing. It makes me want to giant squishy hug everybody 🙂

3. It will get better. My first few times, I didn’t get a single bite. I got a couple RTs from supportive writers, but no requests. Which I was happy to even get RTs at the time, but didn’t know what I was doing wrong. I slowly learned that my pitches needed work. I’m very bad with anything pitch-y, from Twitter pitches to synopses to queries, so this was a big struggle for me. But I surprised myself with what I would come up with each contest, sometimes randomly struck with inspiration in the middle of it all. Each round my pitches have gotten better and better, and so have the responses. I went from a couple RTs and no bites, to a dozen RTs on one pitch and three requests overall. And I’m willing to bet it’ll be even better next time!

4. Polish your pitch. That said, the biggest factor affecting responses and your chance of getting a request is having a great pitch, so work on it as much as you can. Play around. Test out different ones, see what kind of response you get. Don’t overstress about it. The ones you think are the best won’t always be the most successful, and vice versa. Usually, the ones I came up with spur-of-the-moment turned out to be the best. I had a really hard time boiling down my complicated multi-POV fantasy into 140 characters, but I learned to be as specific as possible. My first few pitches just focused on the world and grand scheme, but it didn’t resonate. I learned that it’s much better to focus on one character, what they want, and what’s stopping them.

5. No cliches. For the love of God, please don’t use cliches when writing a pitch. In fact, don’t use cliches in anything: query, synopsis, or your manuscript itself. They might sound juicy but really they’re just vague and don’t actually tell anything. Plus, to agents/editors it comes off as lazy writing, or low skill. Every time I see a cliche, I die a little inside.

6. Use all your pitches. You have the opportunity for up to 24 tweets throughout the day (twice per hour in a 12 hour period) in most contests. Take advantage of that. I used some pitches to show the three POV’s overall goal. I used a pitch or two to give a taste of world-building. I used several pitches for each of POVs individually, to show their voice and what was at stake for them. One agent might be intrigued by one character, another by the world, a third by the overall struggle. Try them all!

7. Use your best pitches in the morning. Whether it’s because all the agents and editors are up and freshly caffeinated, or it’s before they’ve dealt with the stress of the work day, for some reason I get way more response on my morning pitches. Usually by two or three in the afternoon the response has slowed down considerably and almost stopped by four or five. This doesn’t mean stop pitching, though! There have been some agents who get on the feed late, so make sure you don’t miss out. But be sure to focus your best pitches in the morning.

8. Schedule your pitches. I know a lot of people use Tweetdeck, but I never have and have no idea how to use it, but from what I hear it’s worth checking out. I just use Twitter’s built in system: if you go to ads.twitter.com and under the Creatives tab, then hit compose tweet, there will be an option to schedule it. This eliminates any stress of having to pitch every 30 min or hour, or if you’re unable to pitch at certain times. Even if you are available, it helps you focus on interacting with other authors, RTing, and enjoying yourself!

9. Have patience. It probably won’t work your first few times. (If it does, awesome! You probably don’t need to read this then, and I want to know your secret) That doesn’t mean you’re an awful writer, or no one wants your book, or you should give up forever. Agents and editors are human, and can’t possibly look through every pitch. And even if you don’t get requests or many RTs, I promise you will if you keep working on your pitches, and try try again!

10. Have fun. I know it’s cheesy, but I’m serious! Twitter pitches are probably the most casual way you can get out there. Mess around with your pitches. Read what other authors are doing–there’s some seriously amazing stuff. Get feedback, connect with others, laugh at your bad pitches or the stress of querying or nerdy inside jokes. Pitch contests are really what you make of them, and they can be a lot of fun!

I hope that helps! Are you a pitch contest newbie, or a veteran? What have you learned through your trial and error? Let me know in the comments!

 

TBAS Snapshot

I know I missed last week, but it’s finals and life has been crazy for me. But good news, I’ll be done with the semester after this week and free for an entire month! But here’s the snapshot for this week with an extra long excerpt as promised 🙂

Title: Ember

Current word count: 81,117

Words written this week: about 2,000

Words cut this week: about 2,000

What I’m working on: Polishing. I worked with an editor for the first 10k and used her comments to apply to edits to the rest. I added a couple action scenes, cut down some other ones, and polished the prose and voice. It really made a huge difference, even the small details and changes. I wanted to really perfect it before pitmad, SFFpit, and PitchMas. Also, I just made a couple big submissions, so fingers crossed! 🙂

Favorite lines: 

As I watched, Scar raised it to his lips and drank. He grinned, and his teeth shone red with blood. A wolf tearing into a kill.

“I’m done with her. Drain all of it, even if she’s dead.”

The boy seemed eager to comply.

I grit my teeth against another scream as his ragged knife tore into my flesh, prying skin from muscle. Desperately, I tried to focus my magic as Asa had tried so often to teach me, his chest glowing with energy. Skin and fiber knit together at his touch.

But nothing happened.

Of course it didn’t. It was hopeless. I may have Amaranthine blood, but I was pathetically, hopelessly human.

Scar leaned against the wall, sipping from the bowl as he watched the boy harvest me. I stared at him, and willed all of my rage against him. He was everything in this world I hated. He had hurt the only friends I ever had before I met the pack. He hurt everyone he ever came in contact with, and enjoyed it. He lived off of everyone else’s pain.

And now he was going to kill me.

Scar’s face turned red. He coughed, and it caught at the back of his throat, trapped. Choked. A gurgle slipped out, mangled. The bowl fell from his hands. It shattered as it hit the ground, dashing my blood against the wall.

The boy froze, and cast an anxious look at him. “Are you alright, Scar?”

Scar couldn’t speak.

His hands went to his throat, clawing at his skin and drawing blood. His skin paled to ash. His eyes bulged. His scream came out a strangled gurgle.

Goal for next week: Rock out SFFpit and PitchMas! (After finals, of course)

What YA Gave Me

YA has been a part of my life, even before I knew to call it YA.

From reading the Inkspell series every night with my dad, to reading every book ever written by Tamora Pierce, YA has always been there. At the time, I didn’t realize what a big influence it was having on me–I was just reading books, and falling in love with these stories. Now I look back and see how much books, and more specifically YA, changed me and helped to shape me into the person I am today.

Some people consider young adult as “less than adult”. But for me, in a lot of ways YA is more than adult. Adult books may have wonderful stories that capture our emotions or change our views on certain things, but it is a very rare book that truly changes us. But reading YA while growing up, there are so many books that changed me.

YA is so important because it is targeted right at the most formative years of a person’s life–YA is a point of change, and it most certainly was for me. It does not flinch away from life’s toughest subjects, and Through YA, I learned about being strong, but that it’s also okay to not always be strong. I learned about womanhood, and love, and even sex. I learned about family and friends and all kinds of different relationships, and bonds that tie us all together. I learned about loss and death, grief and pain.

YA opened my eyes. It showed me places and people and views different than my own, hundreds of different kinds without ever leaving my room. I learned about others, but I also learned about myself. I learned what was most important to me, I found role models to look up to and emulate.

One day, I hope that I can write these kinds of books. The kind of stories that change people. To me, that would be the ultimate success as an author. More than money or awards or recognition, I want to be able to affect others. I want to be able to make someone fall in love with stories, or find a new genre, or maybe even change their life. Because I think that’s what stories are really about, connecting and changing us.

Do you read YA? If not, you should stop reading this and go find a book right away (seriously, shoo). Young or old, I think YA is very special in its capacity to affect all ages and all walks of life. I really think there’s something in it that almost anyone can relate to.

What are your favorite YA books? What are the ones that changed you, and how did they change you?


I know it’s been too long since I’ve posted, but things have been so crazy. Good news though, finals will be done next week so then I will be free for an entire month! 🙂 But don’t worry, I’ll have a snapshot post for y’all on Wednesday with an extra long excerpt, and next weekend I should be able to join back in with Weekend Writing Warriors! I’ve got some great snippets for y’all 🙂

Writing as a Superpower

Superhero movies are everywhere right now. Spiderman, Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, you name it. I mean, who wouldn’t want to watch stories about often ordinary people becoming larger than life and saving the world? They capture our inner child, and the part in every one of us that wants to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

Which superpower would you want to have? Flying, super strength, x-ray vision? I’ve always thought that flying would be the best superpower. I could go anywhere I wanted in the world, anytime. Not to mention I’d never have to deal with traffic again.

But while those are all great superpowers and would be so super cool to have, I think we have a pretty great superpower of our own.

Writing.

How could writing be a superpower? You couldn’t stand in Godzilla’s path of destruction, hold up your pen, and command him to stop. Well, you could but you’d just end up a little human bug squashed on the bottom of his foot. You couldn’t do much of anything in a big screen superhero world except be one of the many citizens running for their lives.

But off the big screen, in our real world, writing has a lot of power. A lot more than we realize, sometimes. I bet every one of us can name the book or author who sparked our love for words, or who inspired us to change in some other way. For me, it was Tamora Pierce. I’d always loved reading, but her books started a fire in me that I couldn’t put out, and haven’t been able to, to this day. Not only did she inspire me to write, but she taught me so much about myself and life at a time when I was so young and trying to figure everything out.

Writing has the power to change lives. Books can inspire a new generation of writers. They can shape or even redefine someone’s perception of themselves, or the world. Books can open eyes, and call people to action to change the wrong in our world.

I’ve heard countless stories and have friends who say that books saved their lives. I myself am one of them. You can read my full story here, but writing is what got me through my illness, and through the absolute darkest moments of my life. Writing was that one beam of light, when everything seemed hopeless. It has given me strength, motivation, and hope.

Sometimes I am just so amazed at the power books can have to truly change lives. Isn’t it beautiful, how words and stories are one of the few things that can affect us all, no matter age, race, country, or language? And by affecting all of us, they bring us together, unite us, in a way that nothing else can? Stories are the world’s most powerful tools.

By changing each of these lives, by affecting us and uniting us, writing has the power to change the world.

Just look at the Hunger Games series. While they are undeniably brilliant, I doubt that Suzanne Collins expected to create real-world impact when she wrote those books. Real-life protesters in Thailand adopted the three-finger salute to challenge a military coup in their country. I got chills seeing some of the images from those protests. And very recently, the Ferguson protests, which happened to be the same week as the Mockingjay release, I kept thinking of the movie when watching news coverage. Katniss’ words to Snow replayed in my mind: “If we burn, you burn with us.” And then, those exact words appeared tagged on a wall during the protests.

This is one of the many things I love about books. There really is nothing else that can have so much power. But this is also something we have to consider as writers, the same way superheroes have to consider how to use their powers. How will we use writing for good? How will we use it to change lives, or even the world?

Your writing doesn’t have to be epic or grand, with some sort of deep, lasting, philosophical message. Even if your writing is just a scary story for a thrill, or a love story, or just for fun, your writing will still influence someone. You have the power to change a life, even if it’s as seemingly simple as falling for a new genre, or learning about relationships and love, or finding a passion for writing. Because if every single one of us changes just one life, together we have changed the world.

So writers, assemble! The word signal is lit, our writing senses are tingling, and it’s time to save the world, one word at a time 🙂

TBAS Snapshot

Hey all! With the semester almost over and the holidays coming up, things have been a little crazy but I’ve still managed to get some editing in. If you hadn’t heard, I finished my WIP Nightfire! You can read my post all about that here. But I know that y’all have liked the snapshot posts, so I thought I would continue them as I dip my toe into the editing phase, and eventually get into major revisions where I’ll be picking apart my beautiful shiny MS completely.

I created To Build A Story to take you through the writing process and journey with me–which doesn’t stop when I’ve finished the first draft. I’ve changed up the snapshot a little bit so I can give you a better look into my editing process.

Title: Nightfire

Current word count: 67,505

Words written this week: 500

Words cut this week: about 100

What I’m working on: My first full read through of the story start to finish, with some light edits and tweaks. I’m actually surprised by how well it turned out. I expected I would have to destroy most of it since it is only the first draft. But I think that the beginning is very strong, though it does start to change around the middle, with the parts I wrote for CampNaNo. They’re not awful, but they’re not entirely working, though I need to figure out exactly where I want them to go before I try to fix them. I also finally divided (most of it) into chapters! So at least there is some sort of organization and logic now.

Favorite lines: 

In this ever-shifting world, only two things are sure. Tangible, unchanging.

The breath in my lungs, and the drumbeat in my chest.

I sit crouched in my vantage point, my muscles stiff with cold yet poised to strike, an arrow notched in my bow. My breath crystallizes as it meets the frigid night air, swirling clouds from my lips. Here in this austere silence, instinct pulses through my veins and my humanity falls away.

I am a predator, born to kill.

Goal for next week: I’m a little over halfway through, and I hope to have finished this read-through by then!