Be Real–Rabbit and Bear Real

There are all sorts of conversations flying through the YA world on characters. Just this past week, I’ve been involved in a pretty intense debate on whether you should include diversity for diversity’s sake, a discussion on stereotypes, and even one on whether characters all have to be model pretty.

There’s an annoying trend, at least I find it annoying, for all the characters in a book to be amazingly hot, straight, white, able-bodied individuals. To me, this is just another side of the wish fulfillment character. There’s the argument that readers don’t want to read about themselves, they want to read about extraordinary people. Writers have also said, “why diversify? If it’s made into a film/tv show, they’re going to cast beautiful white people anyway.”

Sadly, this is true more often than not. Jane Eyre is a good example. In the book, she’s not attractive and isn’t supposed to be, however, in film a beautiful actress always plays her. Like Joan Fontaine, Ruth Wilson, Anna Paquin, and Mia Wiasikowska  for example. Or take “A Wrinkle in Time.” Meg Murray clearly regards herself as ugly, of course many teenagers do, but even her family and those around her comment on how average looking she is. There isn’t anything special about her. She’s been played by Katie Stuart who I guess could be called average for an actress, but is still way prettier than I ever imagined Meg to be. (In that adaptation, Calvin O’Keefe was played by the non-redhead Gregory Smith. I love the actor, but he’s not Calvin-so the casting director got the whole thing wrong in my opinion).

The authors always support the casting with the same answer. “The character is more than how they look. Personality, mannerisms, movements are bigger than appearance and actor XYZ who auditioned nailed it. He is the character, physical looks aside.” (I’ve melded several quotes into one here. If you’re really dying to know the actual quotes and authors and I can try to find them for you). I can agree to a certain extent, that the character is more than looks. But you can’t convince me they couldn’t find an actor just as good to be that character. Especially when they sub in a white person for a black/Native American/Middle Eastern/you name it character.

Then there are times when casting is spot on, but people still aren’t happy with it. Like the drama with the Hunger Games and the casting of Amandla Stenberg as Rue. Some were outraged they would *gasp* cast as black girl for a character described as having brown skin. The nerve of those casting directors.

I think everyone agrees there isn’t enough diversity in literature, especially YA, but no one agrees on how to go about fixing it. Should you be intentional about describing skin tone? Or should you not bring it up? If you mention that a character is black, isn’t it weird if you don’t mention another character is white? Will you get accused of pandering for praise for your diversity or will you get blamed for whitewashing?

When I write, characters just appear to me fully formed. I know their hair and eye color, skin tone, the way they stand, how they sound, and so on. But I don’t describe my characters all that much. Sure I’ll throw in a sentence about their hair, and then chapters later mention their eyes. There aren’t any descriptive paragraphs, though, unless that trait plays a specific part. I have a character who is a thief, so I mention she’s thin and can squeeze in small places. If not for that, I wouldn’t have mentioned body type.

Same goes for attractiveness. Unless the fact a character is really beautiful or ugly or just average plays a part in the story, I don’t bring it up (To be fair, I don’t mention many things that don’t play into the story. I’ve written about my problem with word count before–hence the name of this blog–so every word has to have a purpose or else I’ll end up with 100,000 words and a lot of revisions ahead!). I like to give a few characteristics and let the reader fill in the gaps. To me, that forms more of a connection between reader and character.  We all have our own ideas of what is attractive or unattractive or average. I’d rather let the reader get their own image. It’s something I liked to do anyway, but cemented itself after I read “On Writing,” by Stephen King. He chastised writers for giving too much away and not letting the reader participate, and I agree. I hate seeing a movie before reading the book because then I get the cast in my head instead of forming my own version of the characters.

I will say that most of my characters are average looking, because most people are average. If you ask me, there should be more average in YA. The majority of YA lit features characters who are hot. Plain and simple. What about the regular folks? All the crap about casting directors casting pretty people is just that. Crap. Diversity can be done, and well, and it can work.

Take a look at the British show “Skins.” That show, at least the first series, I never caught the others, is a great example of fairly normal teens with an average, yet diverse, cast. That’s why it was such a smash. The characters were flawed, externally and internally, but likeable and, most importantly, real. The majority were white and straight, but they were by no means drop dead gorgeous. Even the lead, the “hot guy” wasn’t conventionally attractive in the way American TV stars are hot. He was kind of quirky. His best friend was socially awkward and a bit odd. The lead’s girlfriend was insecure and pretty, with an absent parent. Her best friend was a black girl who was super smart and an incredibly talented clarinetist with a close family. Other friends included a lazy, fun stoner whose mom abandoned him, a goofy Indian guy who just wanted to get laid and had strict, religious parents, his gay best friend who was artist, and a mentally ill anorexic girl. Spoiler if you haven’t seen it, but at the end, the lead gets hit by a bus and isn’t exactly able-bodied anymore. The show defied stereotypes, included diverse characters, and was highly entertaining.

Compare this to, say, “Gossip Girl” in the states. Not that I watch the show, but I’ve seen enough. It’s about beautiful, white kids in New York. I’m not bashing the show, I’m sure the characters have their intricacies, but click my link and look at the IMDB page. Zero diversity and model pretty, stereotypical rich kids. Entertaining as people may find this show, I think we can do better. Of course that’s tv and I’m thinking more about books, but “Gossip Girl” was a book first. (Again, that’s just the first example that came to mind, I don’t have anything against the show or the book).

What it comes down to, for me, is be real. Write characters who feel real, who have depth and dimension.  Whatever kinds of characters you include, straight, gay, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, able-bodied, wheelchair bound, autistic, mentally incapacitated, genius, and so on and so forth, make them multidimensional. The more real your characters are, the more people are going to connect with them, root for them, and most importantly for writers, continue to read about them. The best advice I’ve read about writing is “be honest,” which I think goes hand in hand with be real. Readers will totally tell if you’re fake. They’ll know if your characters are cardboard cutouts of real people. Be honest about your characters and how they act and what they do. Be honest with yourself about why you’re including those characters. Are you intentionally trying to be diverse? That’s fine, but flesh the characters out, don’t just drop in a black, gay, Jewish, one-armed, paraplegic for no other reason than you want that character in your story so you can claim diversity and leave him. Give him some depth. Be honest with yourself if you’re not trying to be diverse. Why aren’t you? Is there a reason? Be honest with yourself about why your characters are all gorgeous/average. Do you just like pretty people?

One of my favorite stories as a kid was “The Velveteen Rabbit.” If you’re unfamiliar (you poor, deprived child!), it’s about a boy who gets a stuffed rabbit for Christmas. The toys come alive when no one is around, but they aren’t truly real. The rabbit finds out he can only become real if his owner loves it and “…once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.” The boy does love the rabbit and carries it everywhere, until he becomes ill and all his toys must be burned. The boy receives a new rabbit and forgets about his old one. While waiting to be thrown into the fire, the Velveteen Rabbit cries a real tear. A magic fairy appears and tells the Velveteen Rabbit that because his owner loved him, he can become real. He then discovers he’s a real rabbit and hops off into the forest with the other bunnies.

I insisted my teddy bear was real, just like the rabbit in the story. She was my dad’s first teddy bear, given to him on his first Christmas and loved by both of us so much she had no fur left. She eventually got so old, she’s 47 now, she started falling apart and has had several reconstructive surgeries. Even though I’m married, Mama Bear still sits on my dresser. And to me, she’s still real.

That’s what we have to do with our characters. Give them time and attention and love and eventually, just like the Velveteen Rabbit, just like my Mama Bear, they’ll become real. Then you will know you’ve created something truly magical.

 

 

The Word River

I tried writing my first book when I was in high school (like, 1997). It was an idea my dad gave me about a dude called “Bob the Beer Guy.” A beer salesman who was everything to everyone. When the presidential election rolls around, everyone in Bob’s area/state is dissatisfied with their candidate options, but everyone loves Bob, so they write him in and he wins. He receives national attention, backers realize his salesman attitude makes him the perfect candidate so they help him, and he ends up getting enough write-in votes to win and becomes the POTUS.  Daddy gave me the idea and I ran with it. I don’t remember how far I actually got, a few chapters maybe, before I quit. I had the idea, knew the direction and how things would play out, but it just petered out before I got far enough.

I tried writing other stories, much the same way. An idea would spark. Then a story would form. Most of them ended up like “Bob the Beer Guy.” One finally took off though. I just sat down at the computer and started typing and next thing I knew, I had a full manuscript. Of course it was extremely rough and I ended up writing my ideas down into a basic synopsis and working from that (and of course, like most first manuscripts, it now sits in a trunk and I’m completely embarrassed I ever let anyone read it). The next manuscript I completed worked the same way (with much better results, I think). Idea, then a basic synopsis, then a first chapter that took off.

When I started writing, I had no idea there were so many different ways to write a book. I thought you just sat down and typed out a story. But people use note cards of plot points, multi-colored for different characters. They use computer software and post-it notes. Cork boards and string. Basic outlines and detailed outlines. Character lists and maps. They use different colored type for different plot threads and so many more things I can’t keep track of it all.

It had me wondering: am I doing it wrong? So I tried outlining. I tried plotting. I tried a spreadsheet of plot points that a beta reader gave me, but none of that works for me. The only plotting aid that ever works is a list of characters and traits, and then only sometimes, because that involves sitting down and thinking about the characters and who they are. Which means, more often that not, I give the characters attributes. This one is snobby and that one is friendly and this one is a prick and that one is the nice guy.  It never works, because I don’t create the characters. The characters reveal themselves to me, and they only do so as I write. The more of their story I tell, the more I learn about them and how they would react in different situations. A lot of times I have to go back to the beginning and rework it because I didn’t really know the character when I started, but by the end we’re pretty intimate.

So, I’m sticking to my tried and true. I get an idea, usually when I’m trying to sleep, or in my dreams. I write the idea down and write a synopsis. Then I start writing the story. By the time I finish, the story rarely matches the original synopsis. It twists and turns and moves in ways I couldn’t have predicted.  For me, if I plan too much, I constrict the natural movement of the story, like damming a river.  It’s my job to find the river and follow it. To do that, I have to give the water room to flow, not dictate the direction it travels or how fast it goes, or what it might pick up along the way.  But that’s just how I work.

How do you write? Do you plot, or are you what they call a pantser (fly by the seat of your pants) like me?  What works for you?

The Writer’s Voice, Cheese, and The Wild Blue Yonder

You may be aware that I’ve been competing in a multi-blog contest called The Writer’s Voice. (If not, you can catch up here).  200 of us put our work on our blogs for the world to see. 44 of us were chosen by the amazing coaches, Monica B.W., Krista Van Dolzer, Brenda Drake, and Cupid. They polished up our queries and story beginnings. We edited like crazy and submitted, and resubmitted, then they posted the shiny new entries to their blogs.

Anyone could come by and comment over the weekend. Every time I saw a new comment under my entry, I jumped in my chair and rushed to click on it. You have absolutely no idea how happy it made me to see others who enjoyed my work. I write because I love it and can’t imagine not doing it, but I also write because I’m a reader and I want my words to affect others the way my favorite works have affected me. So thank you, each and every one of you who commented either here, or over on Krista’s blog.

Yesterday was D-Day. The agents came through. Eight total.Lauren MacLeod of The Strothman Agency was the first out of the gate and Twitter was all a flitter! Agents were coming, agents were coming! We all rushed to put on our prettiest ballgowns and nicest suits and stood waiting, trying to look appealing. She swept through the four blogs and voted for seven entries, but not mine. Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger, Inc. appeared next and voted for a whopping sixteen entries, hooray!! But still not me.

While Andrea was still out and about, Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary Agency showed up. I raced around the blogs, refreshing and hoping. She tagged six entries, pushing the first entry into full request territory. The crowd cheered! No Sarah, but I wasn’t too worried, that was only three agents, still five to go. Then Susan Hawk of The Bent Agency swooped in and voted for ten! More full requests! I refreshed, refreshed, refreshed, but no dice for my entry. Later in the afternoon, the word on Twitter was that Taylor Martindale of Full Circle Literary was out and about. I scoured the blogs and found seven entries with her name on them, pushing two more into full territory.

I kept my eyes glued on my Twitter feed. Never had I been so glad I decided to join! As afternoon turned to evening, and evening gave way to night, I started to worry. In the previous Cupid contest, one agent didn’t vote for anything. Could these last three not be interested? Then, Roseanne Wells of Marianne Strong Literary Agency popped up. I opened all four blogs at once, running through each entry. By now, I knew the comment counts for each one so I knew when an entry got a vote. She voted for seven. My team, Team Krista, was lagging behind now, and more than wanting myself to get a vote, I wanted my team to win, and more than that, there were several entries I absolutely loved still sitting alone on prom night with no date.

As I was refreshing, I noticed Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency out and about. There was hope! She picked a member of my team, joy! Then my heart sank. She only chose one entry from each team. I was about to call it a night when I clicked on one more new tweet. Louise Fury of L. Perkins Agency made a triumphant entry! Better yet, she tweeted as she voted! It was glorious! It took stalking to a whole new level!

She started on Brenda’s blog and I refreshed as she tweeted each vote, rejoicing for those who were picked. “Go to Krista’s blog next,” I begged. “Please go to Krista’s blog next.” She went to Monica’s. Hubby yawned and I stifled one myself. I had to stay awake. I kept refreshing. Still on Monica’s blog. Hubby and I did our nightly Bible reading, then I immediately scooped up the computer. Still on Monica’s. It was late, and I was so sleepy. So, I decided to go to bed.

Of course I promptly loaded Twitter on my phone and kept an eye on Ms. Fury’s flurry of activity. Right before I put the phone down, she was spotted on Cupid’s blog. Of course Krista’s would be last. And she was taking her time combing through the entries, which is amazing and wonderful that she took such care, but I couldn’t stay awake any longer. I turned the phone off, my hope dwindling with every yawn. No sense stressing over it, I didn’t feel like it was going to happen. My poor little entry was the cheese in a giant game of The Farmer in the Dell. I went to sleep.

This morning, I stretched and picked up my phone, as I do every morning, to check the weather and email. I had a tweet. To me. My coach, Krista, asking if I was awake. Because “Playing with Fire” had a vote. I sat straight up in bed and read it again. Then I squealed, and started hopping up and down. Hubby ran in. “You got a vote?” “I got a vote!” We fist bumped, we hugged, we fist bumped again. I had a vote. I’m not the cheese!

Louise Fury, much like the comic book character of the same surname, swept down in the eleventh hour and voted for NINE of my team’s entries. Twenty-five total. I don’t know how she’s going to have the time to read all that. I guess maybe she does have super powers.

I had a vote.

While getting ready this morning, I danced and bee-bopped around the house. Then I realized what my celebratory song was and burst out laughing. It was “Wild Blue Yonder,” the Air Force anthem. (Edit to add, I realized I crossed it with “The Stars and Stripes Forever. Just think what would have happened if I hadn’t gone to sleep when I did. Ha!). Except I was singing my dad’s made up lyrics: “Be kind to your web-footed friends, ’cause a duck could be somebody’s mother,” and “Off we go, wearing our striped pajamas.” No idea where it came from, but I hummed it in all it’s silly, ridiculous glory.

My triumph waned as I went through the blogs this morning, adding the new votes to my spreadsheet (oh yeah) and tallying. Some of my favorites still didn’t get picked. Some entries were still the cheese. There are some amazing stories out there though, and while they might not be what these eight agents were looking for, the writers are all phenomenal, and I have no doubt they’re going to go places.

So that was The Writer’s Voice. Exhilarating, nerve-racking, exciting, frightening, silly, crazy. I met a wonderful group of writers, who I hope stay connected, I got some incredible help with my work, and I got a partial request. We also, all forty-four of us, got personalized feedback from author Tara Dairman, whose debut novel, The Delicious Double Life of Gladys Gatsby, come out in 2014. How awesome is she? Thanks for your comments Tara!! Oh, and my team won. Go Team Krista! What an incredible experience.

Randomness #4- Anniversary!

Today is my four year wedding anniversary, and I’m so excited I decided to blog about it! I’m also excited because he’s been out of town all week and comes back today! (We have a firm agreement that we will not spend our anniversary apart). It’s not like four years is a milestone or anything. In fact, it’s really not even that long, I suppose. But I thought it was fitting for my fourth random post. And, it’s a big deal to me because growing up, I never wanted to get married. Ever.

I had a plan. From the time I was four years old (coincidentally keeping with my “four” theme today, ha!), I had my life planned. Yeah, I was that kid. I was going to attend Gadsden High, where my parents went, then I’d go to Auburn University, then Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine, then I’d move to Florida and leave near the beach and work on all animals but specialize in race horses, so I’d be able to attend the Kentucky Derby every year, then I’d write novels based on my experiences a la James Herriot, and I would do it all on my own. Sure, I’d date, but I definitely would never, ever get married (badgers? we don’t need no stinking badgers!) and absolutely under no circumstances would I have kids.

Well, the plan didn’t work out, as a four-year-old’s plans are wont to do. (I forgot to mention, I was also going to be a lion tamer, ballerina, and astronaut as well, all simultaneously. Four year old me was awesome!). I didn’t go to Gadsden High, did go to Auburn and majored in Animal Science, but Vet school didn’t happen (organic chemistry *shudders*). So my last year of college I tweaked the plan. I’d gotten into law school on kind of a whim, so I’d be a lawyer, live by the beach in Florida, and I’d just own horses and make enough to attend the Derby and I would write books about a vet who gets into sticky situations and gets help from a lawyer and they solve mysteries together and fall in love a la Rita Mae and Sneaky Pie Brown.

Then I met a guy. I’d just gotten out of a terrible three year relationship. I dropped him like a bad habit not just because he sucked and it wasn’t working, but also because I knew he was going to propose after my college graduation, and I knew I’d say no. So I was newly single and this guy who had been chasing after me for months (he absolutely didn’t care that I had a boyfriend, ha) asked me out. I didn’t want to date him. I didn’t even like talking to him and literally hid when I saw him. But, I have a hard time giving people bad news. (I would make a horrible HR director! No way could I fire folks). Unable to hurt his feelings and turn him down, I said yes. At the very least I would get a free meal out of it (I paid my own way through college and was completely broke-so yeah, I was that girl), then I would be moving shortly for school and wouldn’t have to see him anymore.

But the date was amazing. Okay, the date itself was terrible. He took me to see the college production of “A Comedy of Errors”…set in space. It was weird. He was fun though. We talked and connected and next thing I knew, I liked him. Two weeks later, I knew I loved him. That’s all it took. Two weeks of dating and he told me he wanted to marry me. No, he didn’t propose or anything. We dated two years before he popped the question and were engaged for another full year. April 29 made seven years we’ve been together (and not a single day has gone by in that seven years that we haven’t talked. Every day. And I hate talking on the phone). Today we’ve been married for four, but it feels like I’ve known him, like we’ve been a part of each other, forever.

All my plans changed again when I met my hubby. I don’t live by the beach, and I don’t own horses (yet), I haven’t been to the Derby (yet), and I’m writing YA and MG books a la me, and I’m not doing it all on my own. I’m working with a partner and it’s better than I could have ever imagined.

Happy Anniversary Sweetheart!

Age, Just a Number?

You hear the phrase “age is just number” a lot in conjunction with relationships. What about the rest of life, though? Is age just a number?

As you may know, I’m 29 and an attorney by day. I’ve been licensed to practice law for almost four years now, although I started my third year of law school, so that’s five years experience, plus a couple years clerking in law school, so all told, I’ve got a close to seven years of experience in the legal field under my belt. I’m not saying this to brag or anything, just to point out that after seven or so years, I know what I’m doing.  Especially when it comes to writing.

I may have only been writing novels for three years, but most of my clerking experience and, work as an associate in a law firm, was writing briefs. That’s thirty some odd pages of legal theories and case law per brief (thirty is the typical court limit, some courts make you condense to fifteen). For the last year and a half I’ve been drafting and reviewing contract documents. So, I know my way around a sentence. In fact, I dare say, I’m pretty freaking good at what I do and the people I work for generally trust my opinions and my work.

Until they see me. I do most of my work via email, so I don’t see the people I work for that often. I admit I look younger than I am. Regardless, as soon as they see what I look like, they start doubting me. Second guessing my work. Questioning my opinions. Talking down to me. At the law firm, new clients thought I was the secretary. I don’t know if it’s my age, or the fact I’m female, or both. Whatever the reason, it’s incredibly frustrating.

So I started wondering if this happens in other fields as well. Do I trust younger doctors as much as older ones? When an agent gets a manuscript from a teenager, do they automatically question the writing or the plot? Would you take financial advice from an accountant who looked like they just graduated high school?

My answer is, “I don’t know.” I want to say no. That I would judge someone based on the quality of their work, not their age. But then again, if my doctor looked like he couldn’t legally drink yet, would I trust his opinion? I’m not sure.

What I am sure of, though, is if someone had consistently provided me with quality work, and then I found out they were rather young, I would be amazed of their talent, not distrustful. If I were an agent who just read a phenomenal manuscript, and then discovered the author was fifteen, I would be in awe. If I consistently got good advice from a doctor or accountant over the phone and then met them, I would still trust them.  If my attorney sent me stellar contract language, I wouldn’t change my opinion just because they were younger than I thought.

For me, it’s not a question so much of age, but of experience and talent. That forty year old attorney may have chosen law as a second career. They may only have a year of experience. They may have scraped through by the skin of their teeth.  Or, just because a writer is fifty doesn’t mean their work is good. It just means they’ve lived longer.  There are several writers I’ve seen around the community who are still in high school, and I am consistently amazed at the quality of their writing.

What about you, dear reader? Do you judge by someone age? Do you wait for a younger person to prove themselves before you trust them? Or do you think age is just a number?

Author Interview with Sage Collins

I am really, really excited.  Why you ask? Well, today I have my first ever guest on my blog!

Author Sage Collins stopped by to spill some details about herself and her new book. Sage is just amazing. I would gush, but I’m sure you’d rather hear from her So, without further ado…

Hi Sage! *Waves* Tell us something random about yourself.

You cannot stop me from singing. Seriously, I do it without thinking half the time, which is kind of a problem at work. I have an okay voice, so it’s not like I sing out of tune, but I’m not exactly Adele. And, yeah, I do it all the time.

You have a new book, “Love Sucks,” what is it about?

Here is the official blurb:

Mailee is about to answer the age-old question: “How much love would a love sucker suck if a love sucker fell in love?”

Mailee’s greatest wish is to be an ordinary teenage girl, but thanks to one stupid demon gene she consumes love from any human she touches. The only person she can touch is her best friend Eric, a hot lust-drainer. Except for slight hand-brushes to keep from starving, she avoids humans.

Until she meets Logan, a diabetic and the first human who could understand Mailee’s diet angst. She grows closer to him, but each touch risks his love for her. If she wants a normal relationship, she’ll have to become human. But the only way requires her to free and be infected by demons representing the Seven Deadly Sins. Sloth? Pride? No problem. But when wrath-infected Mailee punches the cheerleader who’s making eyes at Eric, she realizes getting through the sins might cost too much.

Like Eric. Because if she turns human, he’ll be the only one she can’t touch.

That sounds really cool and is so fresh! Where did you get the idea for “Love Sucks”?

I was playing a game with another writer, where our characters answer and ask questions of each other. Her character drained something negative (sadness or fear or something), and mine exclaimed how horrible that was. Her character said, “No, it’s the love drainers you have to watch out for.” Instantly I had the idea of a love drainer, who had to eat love to survive, even though she was afraid to drain people completely. And what’s the biggest complication that could come up? Why she’d fall in love, of course.

Okay, so this is not a romance. How would you classify it?

Well, thankfully, my writer friends who are reading it now say I have nothing to fear by people calling it a romance because the romantic elements are strong enough. So, phew, that’s a big relief to me. But I have always classified Love Sucks as a YA contemporary fantasy.

Who is your favorite character in the book and why?

Eric, hands down. In fact, he’s one of my favorite characters of all my novels. Eric is that perfect combination of big brother figure and classic boyfriend for me. He’s confident, even though he doesn’t always know the best thing to do. But he always tries to do the right thing, even if that might hurt him in the end. On one hand, he seems really secure with his life as it is—he’s popular, he’s worked out how to drain lust without hurting anyone, his family’s great, he’s rich, he gets good grades and excels at football—but then we see all these little hints that life isn’t really that perfect for him, no matter what Mailee thinks about it. Plus, he’s fun to be around, joking when it’s appropriate but sweet when it’s needed. It’s a great mix. If it was me choosing a boyfriend, it would be Eric. I won’t tell you which one Mailee chooses.

Pick one character from any work of fiction you’d save and one you’d kill.

Oh, man, tough question. I think I’d save Professor Lupin in Harry Potter. I understand why he dies as one of Harry’s parent figures, but of the people who walk with Harry to meet Voldemort, I think he’s the one who least is needed as one of those figures, and then he can be there for his son, which would be nice.

One to kill, hmmm. I was going to get my Joss Whedon on and kill off some beloved character, but then I decided to kill off Bella and make so many people happy who either hate Twilight or who love it and want Edward for themselves.

So I mentioned this to my roommate, and she went off on this fantasy where, with Bella out of the way, Edward and Jacob fall in love and this heals the animosity between the vampires and the werewolves. She hasn’t even read the books and she’s making fanfic for them.

I would definitely save Lupin too! What else have you got in the pipeline and when can we expect to see it?

I’m currently querying two novels to agents. One is a YA superhero novel that’s told from the POV of both the hero and villain, who are obsessively in love with each other. The other is a middle grade fantasy about a girl who teams up with an elf to save the Pear Tree from falling into the hands of a tyrant known as the Grey Partridge, following a prophecy in the form of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

I’m also revising a YA sci-fi novel about a boy who is fighting alongside the girl of his dreams for the rights of androids that are built to be the perfect boyfriends. Then he finds out that he is an android built for her.

But as to when I’ll be published next, I don’t know. If I publish with Musa again, it could be next year, but right now nothing is actually in the pipeline for me.

Random question: if you were a dinosaur, what kind would you be?

I would be a pterodactyl (even if it’s not technically a dinosaur, shh). Any excuse to be something that flies, right? Although I would probably be the one pterodactyl that couldn’t fly at all, like Petrie in The Land Before Time. (Still, there’d be hope. After all, he flies in the end.)

Anyway, I think I’d make a great pterodactyl. The other day my cat was sitting there, naked without her collar, which makes it near impossible to catch her and put it back on her. Well, I swooped down from the sky and snatched her up. Totally pterodactyl-like. *nods seriously*

I love that you just whipped out a “Land Before Time” reference. (I’d totally be Cera!). Where can we find “Love Sucks”?

Right now you can find it at Amazon in Kindle format and on my publisher’s website in all formats. In a few weeks, it will be available on B&N and other e-book locations.

How can we find you? (And no, that’s not me in your bushes waiting for an advanced copy of your android book, “Taylor-Made.” *ducks behind a tree*)

Haha. I’d be honored if you were an early Taylor-Made reader.

You can find me:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Sagecollins
Blog: http://sagelikethespice.wordpress.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sage.collins.16

Love Sucks- Sage Collins

Thanks so much for stopping by, Sage!  I can’t wait to nab my hubby’s Kindle and read “Love Sucks!”  Everyone, go check it out, and then stop by Sage’s blog for teasers and updates.

We Belong

I’ve brought this up before, but after this weekend, I think it bears mentioning again: I love the writing community. LOVE it.

As you all are (should be) aware, I’m in a contest called the Writer’s Voice (see my entry below).  There are 200 entries. 200! Plus more writers who tried to get in and couldn’t because of the rush, and problems with the Mr. Linky widget (yes, it’s really called Mr. Linky, and yes, I have fun saying it and have been trying to come up with creative ways to drop it into conversation. “So I entered this contest via Mr. Linky.” “Have you heard of Mr. Linky?” “Hey Sweetheart, have you fed the dog? Oh, by the way, Mr. Linky.”)  So basically, all this means is there are a lot of writers circling through the blog waters reading entries and waiting on comments from the judges/mentors saying they’re on a team. (FYI, I got picked, whoop whoop!)

Here’s the amazing and wonderful thing: everyone has been so incredibly supportive.  Most have made it a point to read each entry, several have commented on every one.  I read them all and tried to comment on most (especially those without many comments, at least when I first read the entries, ’cause I know how good it feels to get comments!). Even though 200 people are vying for 40 spots, everyone has been extraordinarily encouraging. Initial posts of “good luck!” and later posts of “congratulations!” on the entries who are in so far is all I’ve seen. Not that I really think people would post something nasty. I’m sure they just wouldn’t post anything on an entry they didn’t like rather than something hurtful.  But even that speaks well of the community, doesn’t it?

I’ve read plenty of posts other places, and articles, etc on the internet where people have said mean, hateful things.  Here though? There’s only love. My Twitter feed has been blowing up all weekend with supportive tweets. Every time I see one, I grin ear to ear. Even if it’s not addressed to me or about me.

A song keeps playing in my head, yes, I’m about take you back, way back, back into time (that’s totally another song, points if you know it!). Maybe because I heard it on the radio this weekend and Hubby is a sucker for a ballad, so he’s been singing it randomly since, but I can’t shake “We Belong” by Pat Benatar. It’s pretty apt for what I’m talking about though. We writers belong to this remarkable and marvelous community. (And now you have it in your head too, muahahaha!)

This contest, this opportunity, has not only spread my writing to a wider audience (over 500 views of my blog this past weekend, wow!), it has also introduced me to other writers.  I’m following new blogs and people on Twitter that I might not have otherwise found, and I’ve gotten new followers as well (hello! *waves*).

So, if I wasn’t enamored with writing already, and trust me, I was, I’m even more in love with it now.  Because it means I get to be a part of this wonderful group of people, and whether or not this current story, or my writing period, takes off, that’s something special.

Stay tuned for updates as the contest progresses, and check back later in the week for a Super Special blog post (hint, it might be my first guest…)