Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Happy New Year and Resolutions

Okay, so lets face it. I'm horrible with keeping a journal. I often forget to make entries and look back after the year is over and realize that I haven't written since I was, like, sixteen and in my boy crazy phase. Don't ask me why I thought blogging would be different. 

So, I'll start the New Year (a week or so late) right. HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

The last time I posted to the blog, I had just signed a contract with Cate Hart. So much elation in that post! I'd like to say that things have continued along with that high, but sadly, it hasn't. It's time for an update on the status of all things, well, me and writing, so here goes. I don't know if you know this, but writing and editing is hard. After signing with Cate I tried to edit, but family vacations to a camping ground in Arkansas doesn't really aid in that en devour. It's hard to write in a minivan, with three kids, a cranky husband and very little sleep. 

The last few months have been much of the same. Lots of editing, and let me tell you, editing if tough. It's hard to look back at the same manuscript over and over and find all the things that are wrong. Cate is a wonderful agent. She's been so patient as I've tried to understand where I'm struggling and correct the problems. Looking back at things, I realize how lucky I am the Cate took a chance on me. 

Adverbs are my enemy. I struggle a bit with past tenses. There are a lot of words that needed to be cut. I over describe things. This is why critique partners and beta readers are great. They catch these things that make sense when they're in your own head. Not to mention there is a great website called The Hemingway App. You enter parts of your writing in and it points out adverbs, difficult to read sentences, and past tenses. It was such a huge help to see in green highlighter all the past tenses. The blue highlighted adverbs that were at least 3-4 per page. The app, along with great critique partners, helped me to make SUMMONER BATTLES into what it is now. Am I done? No. Probably not. I'm sure Cate will have another round, but I'm getting close. Hopefully we'll start submitting to publishers in the next few weeks. Keep your fingers crossed.

Along with the editing, school has started again. I've got my oldest in 2nd grade and my middle started Kindergarten. Next year the youngest will be in school. Thanksgiving has come and I'm sick of turkey. That's what happens when you have four thanksgiving dinners. Christmas blew by, and the New Year has begun. As a special treat, along with my resolution to read my scriptures daily, keep organized (go ahead, laugh), and lose the weight I gain when Grandma Helen died, I've decided to post an excerpt from SUMMONER BATTLES. The story has changed a bit from the very first draft several years ago. I'm excited with the outcome. I don't know if it will stay, or change again, but for now, this is how it reads. Enjoy and feel free to leave any comments!

Summoner Battles
A fireball charged at me, crackling and spitting as it grew in size. It sounded like a freight train tornado, sucking air and whistling forward. Instincts took over and I ducked, placing my hands over my head. The crowd around me wasn’t bothered by the fire as I peeked out at them from behind my fingers. Dressed in gray t-shirts and blue gym shorts, some chuckled and chatted, others played with their phones.
Ship, ship, ship. I’d spent so many years watching my language around my younger siblings that “ship” became a natural reaction, even in my head.
“It’s not real, Evie. Stand up,” Takeshi, my student trainer, shouted. He went from the calm British accent of my best friend to a thick, almost unrecognizable Japanese in his agitation. He couldn’t enter the lines of tape on the basketball court without risking an automatic loss. Takeshi didn’t like to lose.
 “Don’t baby her, Tak.” My opponent, Tawny, sneered, hands waving in an intricate dance that I couldn’t emulate no matter how hard I tried. It was times like these when I wasn’t sure if she was my best friend or not.
The fireball barreled into an inky black wolf the size of a horse. The audience cheered. Energy from Tawny’s ball pushed my wolf into the wall where it yelped, fur smoking. The bird in front of Tawny soared up to the ceiling and spread its wings, giving a caw that shook the building. That it was a hawk of some sort, the size of a pteranodon, wasn’t surprising. Tawny always picked birds.
“Point Miss Saunders.” Mrs. Lemonds, the gym teacher, lifted her hand on Tawny’s side. The glass scoreboard pinged as the numbers changed, the only new object in the old gym.
“Evie, you can’t leave your Avatar defenseless like that.” Takeshi raked his hands through his hair making it stand up in spikes.
“I need something with two legs, not four,” I said, struggling to read the words and movements on the visor that appeared when the Avatars were called. I couldn’t remember the difference between offensive and defensive attacks. I was more of a button-masher when it came to video games. “Animals require more movements. More body parts.”
“There are no human Avatars, Evie. Since swords and guns are illegal, you have to get used to fighting animal style.” Takeshi frowned. His head cocked the way it did when he was in thought. “It’s why we have Avatars. For protection.”
“Or to win tournaments and earn money,” I muttered, considering the idea. Avatars were once used for protection in place of weapons that the world had given up after signing the peace treaty before World War III. Now they were games, toys that could earn money if you were a good enough strategist or had enough money to create an unbeatable Avatar.
I turned back to the virtual battle. A shimmery silver aura stretched from me to the wolf, a physical connection to the metallic cuff on my wrist. Words continued to shuffle on the visor and the lack of knowledge made me antsy. I wiped my hands off on my shorts.
“Firebird,” Tawny screamed.
Crap. I wasn’t ready for another attack. “Silver Screen.”
The wolf jumped up and skid to a stop in front of me. Its claws appeared to dig into the wood flooring of the gym and it barked, the sound echoing through the gym. The markings on its sides glowed and spread forming a ball around it. Tawny shouted as the hawk hovered near the large windows where it burst into flames—a phoenix, casting a shadow over the arena. The crowd oohed and ahhed at the sight. It screeched and started its descent, diving toward the silver bubbled wolf.
“Follow with an attack. The hawk will be low enough. Attack,” Takeshi ordered, pacing with his hands behind his back.
The hawk bounced off the silver bubble and dropped to the ground, disoriented.
“Sonic Howl,” I cried, struggling to follow the intricate moves on the visor. I wasn’t good at dance-styled video games and the moves on the visor weren’t much different. The silver bubble popped and the wolf sat, its fur bristling. My heart sank. It was clear I wasn’t doing something right.
Before I could complain the wolf howled. The sound rattled the building, reverberating until it filled the space and blanketed the noise from the students gathered around us. As the hawk struggled to fly upward, the window panes shook. Waves in the air kept the hawk grounded and pushed it into the wall. Even updated for Avatar battles with raised platforms and stronger structures, the gym was still an old building like most of the school, so it creaked and rattled with the echoes. The wolf jumped up and charged forward, digging its claws into the bird before ripping at its throat.
The hawk dropped to the ground with a thud and a bloody squish before disappearing back into the cuff around Tawny’s wrist.
“Knock out. Miss Rattelsford wins,” Mrs. Lemonds announced. 

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