Writing, Reading and Food.
I just finished RUIN AND RISING by Leigh Bardugo. It was amazing. If you haven’t started the Grisha Series, read my reviews here and here. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say that we continue on with Alina, the Sun Summoner, and Mal as they attempt to fight off the sensual Darkling. The ending was well worth the wait, completely satisfying and everything I hoped for. Read this series!
Also, if you buy the B&N exclusive book, you’ll get a Darkling origin story which is just fabulous. I can’t get enough of him
So buy the series today, and start with SHADOW AND BONE. This sweepingly epic fantasy series set in Imperialist Russia will have you up way into the night. All I can say is, I want to be a Grisha!
So the PNWA 2014 Conference is all over. I’ve swapped my dresses for yoga pants and pitch sessions for dirty diapers. Let me tell you, my feet are killing me! Stupid heels. But I’m so glad I went.
I think it went really well. Five (FIVE!) people asked to read either my full MS or a partial. It was incredibly exciting to send those off, even when I realized I sent the wrong version to a few and had to resend like a big ol’ lunatic. Hopefully that doesn’t count against me! What can I say, I’m over eager at this stage in the game.
The most exciting part was getting to know the agents between sessions. I sat next to an agent and editor for dessert on Thursday night, and not only were they ridiculously friendly, but they also had wonderful insights on the industry. Jennifer and I found that incredibly helpful! On Saturday we were able to speak with another agent and her client, who had a lot of input on the YA market. It was really interesting and she was so nice! Sprinkled throughout the conference were little interactions with an agent here, an editor there. Every single one was friendly, helpful and genuine. Who knew?
I think as writers we assume that agents and editors are these superhuman rock stars who don’t have time to interact with us little people. But the truth is, if you just offer a smile and say “hi,” they’ll probably respond in kind. Just don’t crawl under the bathroom stall to pitch them.
No. Really. I’m looking at you!
I did have one hilarious interaction with an agent that I just have to share. I had only a few minutes left in my pitch block and decided to pitch to [Name withheld to protect the hilarious]. I already had four people ask for pages, so I was pretty confident. I plunk down with a big smile, introduced myself, and dove in. “MY NAME IS 13 is best described as a cross between ACROSS THE UNIVERSE and THE LYING GAME. 13 is a slave…”
I get about three sentences in before he holds his hand up.
“Stop. That was terrible.”
“Oh. Okay. Would you like me to-”
“No. I don’t know what you’re talking about, I don’t know those books, and I think you need to breathe. Here’s how you should pitch me-”
Let’s just say he was right about the breathing! I smiled and nodded, took notes on how I should properly pitch him, and then was promptly dismissed. I thanked him and walked away, smiling dazedly.
“Did it go well?” the guy in line behind me asked.
“No! It was terrible!” I said, smiling. His face fell. Oops. Good luck, dude!
Needless to say, that’s not what I wanted to hear, but I was smiling because he was honest and he tried to help me improve my pitch for next time. Really, he made some valid points about the pitch. And I kept smiling all day because I had a hilarious story, and you know what? After as many rejections as I have had between FIVE manuscripts, I have reached that point where it no longer matters. It’s disappointing, but you know what? You just have to keep going and take the constructive criticism. Any help from a real live agent is great!
So the lesson, kids, is that you can’t get mad if someone rejects you. Especially when he’s hilarious and makes you do the walk of shame halfway through a pitch session.
So all of my fingers and toes are crossed that someone will love MY NAME IS 13 as much as I do. I’m happy to be home and back to writing my next YA manuscript.
Hi all! If you’ve found my site from a Twitter post, welcome! You can reach me directly at dccmealy (at) gmail.com. I’d love to talk books, interviews, or about your (or my) writing! Feel free to check out my latest excerpts from my un-published books:
I’m currently querying MY NAME IS 13. It recently underwent a name change, so if you’re confused…well now you know. Here’s the elevator pitch:
It’s THE LYING GAME meets ACROSS THE UNIVERSE: A lab-created teen slave named #13 takes the identity of a murdered princess to find her killer in an underwater biodome.
Short and sweet!
Thanks for stopping by!
When Violet came to Italy for her summer abroad, she knew she’d learn all about local culture, cuisine and art. And when she connects with heart-melting Luca, she knows her life will never be the same…READ MORE!
Hi all! If you found my blog through Twitter, specifically #SFFpit, than yay! Want to read the first few chapters of my book?
CLICK HERE to read FORSAKEN (or MY NAME IS 13).
Want to read the first few chapters of my other books? Feel free to click on them (top right corner of your screen).
Thanks for stopping by!
In light of a recent article, and the subsequent Twitter backlash about YA books, I’ve decided to create a list of quality, serious YA literature that you all should read. Not that light-hearted books aren’t worth reading, but the point of the article was that essentially all YA was poorly written, sappy, happy and predictably ending trash. So, I’m here to argue the point with examples.
First up, PURE by Julianna Baggott:
Read my review here. The PURE series is, in my opinion, one of the most beautifully written books to be published in the last decade. Seriously. If you want to argue quality of YA literature, this is the book to do it with. Her prose is exquisite, and her subject matter heart-breaking. If you’re not in tears or holding your breath from shock throughout half of this book, you are an automaton, and should just stop reading this article right now. The beauty of the series is that even with all of the despair and horror of a post-apocalyptic world, we still find hope in their survival. It’s a wonderful balance.
Next, we have the UNWIND Dystology by Neal Shusterman:
This fascinating look at what would happen if abortion was outlawed, but retroactive “unwinding” teens for parts was the solution, will blow your freakin’ mind. Whatever side you fall on with this controversial issue, you will not be able to put down this fantastic, heart-rending read. I absolutely love this series. Read my review to learn more.
Let’s look at THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX by Mary E. Pearson:
Without giving too much away, this book examines what makes us who we are – genetics, our body, our mind or our experiences. When Jenna wakes up from a coma, she has to relearn everything about who she was, and who she will be. Absolutely a fantastic, mind-bending read. Read my review here.
There are so many others, and I don’t have time to list them all. There’s nothing wrong with Romance, if that’s what a reader likes. But condemning an entire category of literature as sub-par and predictable because of one sub-genre is ridiculous. Anyone who did any research would find these fascinating reads – and many, many more.
Adolescence is such a defining time in everyone’s life. That’s what’s so binding about YA lit – we’ve all been there. We all know what it’s like to question our parents for the first time, to realize we have our own opinions, and that we should fight for what we believe in. YA lit encapsulates that rocky time, adds a dash of outside conflict, and runs with it. To say that we, as adults, cannot possibly identify with YA protagonists is just plain wrong. Everyone can identify, to a degree. That’s the whole point. Just because a protagonist is an adult doesn’t mean I understand his or her POV any more than a a teen protagonist. I, after all, don’t share anything with adult characters more than I do YA characters. I’m not a psychopath in a Stephen King novel. I’m not a ravishing beauty in a Romance novel. I’m not a Queen in a Game of Thrones novel.
We, as readers, just need a small piece of humanity to identify with a protagonist. And whatever you like to identify with is fine. It doesn’t make you any less mature or intelligent. You know what does make you less intelligent? Opening your mouth before doing your research.
Will knows the rules: Keep your head down, focus, and be average. Above all else, never draw attention to yourself. Everything was going fine, until he accidentally did. Scoring higher than ever recorded on a standardized test, Will’s life is thrown in to total chaos. A mysterious group he can only identify as “black caps” are searching for him, and an elite boarding school is trying to recruit him. Will never knew why his parents tried to keep his super-human speed and mental acuity a secret, but now he finally believes that he really is in danger. After his parents are taken hostage by the black caps, Will runs for his life to the boarding school in the bitter cold mid west. But even on the hallowed, sacred grounds of America’s most select and prestigious school, Will is not safe. A mysterious group, called The Paladins, are after him. They have ties to the black caps, and they won’t stop until Will is dead. Can he and his new friends outsmart The Paladins and stay alive? And what really is so unique about Will, and all of his friends, anyway? What genetic mutations have taken place to make them all super human – and most importantly, why was it done in the first place?
Do you have a wee one in your life? This delightful slide-and-find book will keep young readers entertained…
Hi all! So I’m in the midst of querying agents (that’s where you write query letters to agents about your book, and hopefully they ask to read it). In the spirit of sharing my work, allow me to re-direct your attention to the top right portion of your screen.
Go on, look up. There you go.
See all those links? Forsaken- Excerpt / Bleached – Excerpt / Rift – Excerpt
Yup, those ones. Those are first chapters of my last three (un) published books! You should read them!
Here’s a sample of the manuscript I’m querying now:
New Victoria, 2170 AD
Chapter 1 – Disobedience is the true foundation of Liberty. The obedient must be slaves – Harry David Thoreau
I don’t have a name. Well, I guess that’s not entirely true. I’m called something, but it’s not a name. Invisibles don’t get names. I go by Thirteen, just like the number tattooed on my inner wrist. The Headmaster of the Purposing Rooms put it there the day I was bought by Mr. Avery five years ago. I am the thirteenth member of his staff of Invisibles.
The wrinkly and decrepit Naturals say it’s bad luck and won’t take food from my trays at parties, which is obnoxious, because that means less points on their tabs. Unfortunately they all seem to love Victoria. Pretending to live in Victorian England reminds them of the books they used to read in Old America about Ancient Britain. I personally don’t get their fascination, but hey, what do I know? I’m just a slave.
“Thirteen, run and get me a hot iron. Hurry up!” Anika snaps. Born here seventeen years ago, Anika Avery is one of the main attractions for the rich tourists here at Avery Manor. She’s also a complete bitch. Spoiled beyond belief, Anika loves nothing more than to take points from me. Especially in front of the guests. But I’m her maid, and I do what I’m told. It’s either that, or be repurposed for parts.
“Do you think that this will do, my lady?” I ask in my mock-British accent. She snatches the hot iron before I can stop her, and burns her hand. She drops it on the carpet, sending up little swirls of smoke. Great. If she just let me do her hair with a simulator, this would all get done a lot quicker. It’s the only way I’m able to style my hair like the pictures in the protocol books.
“Oh dear, you’ve burned me! I ought to take a few points away from you,” she mutters, sucking on her thumb. Of course. I calmly pick up the iron with a towel, and start doing her hair myself. She eyes me in the mirror. “I suppose you’re almost to your points limit, then?”
I smile, and this is a real smile. It’s true. I’ve almost reached my points limit. But why does she care? I choose my words carefully.
“Yes, my lady. I should be at my limit by the end of next year, if not by Spring.” I finish the last curl and step back to examine my work. It’s spectacular – her pile of honey-gold curls and sparkling aqua eyes are a perfect match to her pale blue dress. She looks even better than the images she pulled from the historical docs this morning on her DigiCom. She doesn’t seem to mind that little piece of technology. I try not to roll my eyes.
“I guess that will have to do. Hopefully no one looks at it too closely.” She stands up and is about to head for the door before stopping. She turns back, a creepy smile pulling at her cheeks.
“Hold out your wrist.” The smirk doesn’t reach her eyes, and my heart shudders. I step forward and hold out my wrist, the black 13 facing up. She presses her thumb to the darkened flesh and says, “Five point deduction for burning my hand and not apologizing. You should be more careful, slave.” She says the last word with a quiet relish, knowing that it was never to be uttered in polite company. Technically, it was best to avoid referring to me at all.
As I listen to her period-accurate lace-up boots echo down the hall, I bite my bottom lip hard enough to draw blood.
Velveteen is not your average teen – she doesn’t like sports, hanging at the mall or talking about handbags. Oh, and she’s dead and living in Purgatory, a city of ash where souls reside until it’s their time to move on. She’s made peace with where she ended up, for the most part. But when she rescues Nick from an eternity stuck in a crystal ball, her world flips on end. He makes her feel things – actually feel things – that she’s never experienced before. Between her budding secret romance and a clash of underworld revolutionaries, she barely has time to finish what she’s set her eternity up for – haunting the serial killer who tortured and murdered her. In this dark, romantic and fast-paced mystery, Velveteen must uncover what is threatening the very foundation of Purgatory while struggling to keep her relationship with Nick a secret. And hopefully, she’ll get revenge on her killer, too.
Readers of more mature YA fiction, or fans of shows like THE WALKING DEAD, will live this dark, edgy underworld romp.