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Thread: All Things Middle Grade

  1. #1626
    Hero, villain, angel, demon AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    Okay, my goal for today is to finish my first revision pass on IaPT.

    I'm not seeing any real big things I need to fix, so I guess I'll have to rely on my betas when I'm done to point them out to me.
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  2. #1627
    practical experience, FTW MsJudy's Avatar
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    Oct. 1, time to get back to writing. The beginning of a school year is always kind of overwhelming--lots of paperwork, getting back into new routines, getting to know my new class and figuring out how to structure everything... I never seem able to focus on writing for the first six weeks or so.

    So I figured today is the day to buckle down and get back into BIC mode. I have a character and a world and a theme and a mood, but so far not much of a plot, so I've decided to try actually outlining and planning for the first time ever. I've started by getting out John Truby's Anatomy of Story and rereading it, taking notes as I go along. Mostly writing down the questions that still need to be answered, and the possible solutions. Hopefully a few weeks of that will give me enough direction that I can start crafting some scenes.

    I actually started on it last night, and woke up this morning with ideas in my brain. I love that feeling!
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  3. #1628
    Hero, villain, angel, demon AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    That's great, Ms. Judy
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  4. #1629
    Hero, villain, angel, demon AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    Okay, so I remembered an issue I may or may not have, lol. If this isn't acceptable, I'll rewrite the scene, but I do like it as is, so I'm asking opinions pre-betas.

    My novel is a light, upper MG fantasy with Christmas elves and fairies and the like. In the scene where my MCs meet the fairy they're going to hang out with for the last quarter of the book, they are at a ball and the fairy gets drunk on milk (as fairies do ). So in their first scene together, the FMC is taking care of him as he throws up, the way she remembers her dad taking care of her mom when she got drunk at a party once.

    The MCs are 14. The fairy is 200, but looks to be in his late teens. The story is pretty fluffy, and the fairy being drunk doesn't lead to anything dark or preachy. The MCs never even consider drinking any kind of alcohol.

    What do you guys think? Okay?
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  5. #1630
    Guinea pig in the laboratory of God timp67's Avatar
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    Sage, I would probably head more in the direction of her drinking so much milk it makes her sick, and instead of being drunk it just makes her act giddy and silly, keeping the reference to inebriation as light as possible. Sounds like a super fun scene!
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  6. #1631
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    That would totally work, because the scene with their first conversation wouldn't have to change much, since he could still be getting sick. Maybe he was just so nervous that he kept downing the milk even though it makes him sick. (The fairy guy wanted to impress a fairy girl, that's why he was drinking so much). He can be acting up at the ball without being drunk because he's upset at her (she's with another guy) and trying to impress her at the same time, but I was a little intimidated by the big change to FMC taking care of him later. This makes a lot of sense, thanks
    I did the Flash Fiction Challenge this week! You could too! (password: flashed)


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  7. #1632
    Hero, villain, angel, demon AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    All right, since I just finished my first pass on my paper edits, I'll go back over that scene with a different colored pen before making the corrections on the screen, yay.

    Then I think I'll start looking for betas
    I did the Flash Fiction Challenge this week! You could too! (password: flashed)


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  8. #1633
    Artemis Fowl begins with Artemis visiting an alcoholic sprite. And she drinks wine (or whatever she can get her hands on) not milk. Alcohol is portrayed in a very negative light, but there's no attempt to tiptoe around the issue. **spoiler warning** At the end of the book, Artemis and his two employees drink champagne laced with sleeping pills. The two employees don't know about the sleeping pills.

  9. #1634
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    And the Dionysus is portrayed as a drunk who actively drinks in Percy Jackson. I see no problem with it.
    Fringle is a woman who still thinks of herself as a girl. She's a mom. She travels a lot. She writes. She shops. She's shy.

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  10. #1635
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    Quote Originally Posted by fringle View Post
    It's crickets in here! What's everyone working on?
    I'd wondered where everyone had disappeared to, too!

    I'm sorta between projects, since I parted ways with my agent earlier this year and I'm just not sure which direction I want to take.

    I am waiting for a crit partner to get back to me on a lower MG mystery that ex-agent shopped which I'm thinking about sending to a publisher myself after I do some more polishing. And I've started the first draft of a more classic, timeless coming-of-age story. I'm also letting another mystery percolate (the first draft is done, but it's terrible, as all first drafts are).

    And since I can't really decide which one of these three should get my full attention, none of them are getting much attention at all. SIGH.

  11. #1636
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    Hi, lurker here. I'm in between projects right now. My agent is reading my latest MG this weekend, so I'm nervous, dreadfully, dreadfully nervous... and my editor has another manuscript of mine in her hand this month.
    The amount of chocolate I have to eat to stay sane while waiting for word is staggering.

    I thought the Muse would leave me alone for a little while, so I could clean house and parent my children, but no such luck. My next project is calling, keeping me up nights.
    It's going to be so cool. I hope. I might even write it for NaNo, without all the "signing up for NaNo" stuff, anyway. Since my MG manuscripts are about 50K anyway. Anyone else doing a fake NaNo?

    Elissa - get going on one! It's not like you have to go all "Sophie's Choice" on your work. The others will wait. I say go with the new mystery. Mysteries are hot. (Also, I just had my two coming-of-age manuscripts passed over, so believe me when I say - go with something else in this market.)

    What's up with the rest of you?
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  12. #1637
    practical experience, FTW MsJudy's Avatar
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    Welcome, Nikki! Congrats on the book coming out next year, and hugs for the 2 getting passed over...

    That's the part where my head always gets all freaked out by this business. There's more to it than just writing a good book. You have to write a good book that someone believes is marketable. I always doubt my ideas... I mean, it sounds like a great story to me, but... Will it sell?

    I know, I know. Write what you love, write the book you want to write, etc. But when you have more than one idea to work on, you have to decide where to focus your time. And that's hard when you don't know what everyone is looking for!
    represented by Jenny Bent of the Bent Agency. Most happy.

  13. #1638
    Guinea pig in the laboratory of God timp67's Avatar
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    Awesome, Nikki!
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  14. #1639
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    just last week i finished up my final passes through my middle grade contemporary and began to query. i've gotten two full requests already, which is encouraging. i still have two fulls out on my first middle grade novel, as well. so it will be interesting to see what (if anything) pans out.

    in the meantime, i'm in the early planning/brainstorming/notetaking stages of a new middle grade novel, plus i just got back from a rehearsal for a reading of one of my plays. it's such a different experience with plays, getting eight people in a room to read it aloud, talk about it, ask questions, etc. i guess some people get that out of critique groups, sort of, but you'd never read a whole novel aloud (except by yourself, during revisions, looking like a crazy person.)

    it's fun to hear what everyone's working on.

  15. #1640
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nikki View Post
    Hi, lurker here. I'm in between projects right now. My agent is reading my latest MG this weekend, so I'm nervous, dreadfully, dreadfully nervous... and my editor has another manuscript of mine in her hand this month.

    The amount of chocolate I have to eat to stay sane while waiting for word is staggering.


    What's up with the rest of you?
    firstly, it's important to use quality chocolate. I cant stress that enough. Dont compromise with sugar laden substitutes.

    Other than that, meh, not much happening. Just replacing my fingernails with small hard candy falsies.

  16. #1641
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    Congrats Nikki and Joy - sounds like exciting things are happening in your lives.

  17. #1642
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nikki View Post
    Elissa - get going on one! It's not like you have to go all "Sophie's Choice" on your work. The others will wait. I say go with the new mystery. Mysteries are hot. (Also, I just had my two coming-of-age manuscripts passed over, so believe me when I say - go with something else in this market.)
    I would, but I'm afraid the contemp book is calling me. I think I'll write the first draft of that first, then go back to rewrite the mystery. The mystery still isn't ready, methinks.

    Hey, we should get together sometime and do another fast draft session like we did last year. Maybe next year, though, since I won't be ready to do another one of those until then, anyway. But good luck with your quasi-nano book. And the rest of the work you've sent to your agent and editor, too. (I have to admit that I'm still enjoying the don't-have-to-send-anything-to-anyone stage right now. Though I do miss working with an agent. Ah, well, it'll happen again eventually....)

  18. #1643
    careful...you'll end up in my novel RuthD's Avatar
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    Welcome and congrats, Nikki!
    Joy, good job finishing your novel! Sounds like you are capturing some agents' attention. Best of luck!
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  19. #1644
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    Oh, wow! Such a friendly bunch! Thanks, all.
    Paul - I find myself intrigued by the idea of candy fingernails. Don't worry. My chocolate is the very finest, though I've been known to resort to M&Ms on deadline.
    Elissa - definitely need to speed write again! Can't get you to do a FakeNaNo, huh? Urgh. Go have fun with that contemp, anyway - whenever you can!
    Joy - Congrats on the interest for your fulls - and your play! I've never written any plays/screenplays. Always wondered what that would be like, but in a "what would it be like to swallow swords" kind of way. Skeery-like.
    Ms. Judy - you're right. It's so hard to decide where to spend your energy. I stopped watching all television, for real, a few years back. That's cleared up enough time for me to finish quite a few manuscripts a year. I know a few other published authors who point to this as their key to productivity as well.
    I find I'm not very good at saying"no" to any idea. So I pretty much write them all, in order, if they seem to have all the requisite parts to be a novel, and they seem middle-grade-ish. (I'm most drawn to MG, and it seems to be considered a good career decision to stay in one genre/area for a while. We'll see!) It's coming in handy just now, having a bunch of MSs sitting on the hard drive... but not all of them are good, by any means. But any writing is good writing, for the practice at least, I think.
    Good night all!
    THE SINISTER SWEETNESS OF SPLENDID ACADEMY, coming August 21, 2012 from Razorbill/Penguin.

  20. #1645
    practical experience, FTW JoyMC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nikki View Post
    I've never written any plays/screenplays. Always wondered what that would be like, but in a "what would it be like to swallow swords" kind of way. Skeery-like.
    yes, after writing plays for fifteen years, writing fiction has felt somewhat like sword-swallowing to me!

  21. #1646
    Reads more than she writes. AW Moderator Smish's Avatar
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    to the kidlit gang!
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  22. #1647
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nikki View Post
    Elissa - definitely need to speed write again! Can't get you to do a FakeNaNo, huh? Urgh. Go have fun with that contemp, anyway - whenever you can!
    Well, I would normally do Nano, but I've already started the contemp and I'm just not feeling up to speed writing this one. It's rich in description (which I'm terrible at writing), so I have to go slow to capture it. Quite honestly it is driving me nuts to take things so slowly, but it is probably a good thing. (I think.)

    But, I will totally look you up when I'm ready for another fastdraft session. That was fun, though totally insane!

  23. #1648
    practical experience, FTW heza's Avatar
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    I suxxorz at both Nano and fake Nano. I don't know why, but every single time I think I have life in hand and can do one, something explodes, burning both my writing time and my muse to cinders. I do not know how to manage my life. I need to hire someone to manage my life.


    Quote Originally Posted by MsJudy
    That's the part where my head always gets all freaked out by this business. There's more to it than just writing a good book. You have to write a good book that someone believes is marketable. I always doubt my ideas... I mean, it sounds like a great story to me, but... Will it sell?

    I know, I know. Write what you love, write the book you want to write, etc. But when you have more than one idea to work on, you have to decide where to focus your time. And that's hard when you don't know what everyone is looking for!

    I want to strangle myself. I did this months ago. I have two MG books in my head, and I had to pick one to focus on. I feel like both are fairly grabbing premises, both in slightly (as of yet) under-represented settings. I decided one of them was more marketable than the other, so I started working on it exclusively. This morning, I was looking at one of those blogs that critique your logline or query or whatever, and there's one up that is almost exactly what my other book (the one I put aside for now) is going to be about--same special niche, same general plotline, same MC character name, same supporting character type... Now I'm all flighty because if she's getting critiques, then she already has this thing written. If she gets it repped and gets it published and it does well, then I'm screwed.

    *Sigh*

    I still feel like the book I picked to do first is still a more marketable concept, but I can't help but feeling like I've now missed my chance with the other... like someone else is going to get there first because I put it off and "steal my slot."



    Quote Originally Posted by Nikki
    Ms. Judy - you're right. It's so hard to decide where to spend your energy. I stopped watching all television, for real, a few years back. That's cleared up enough time for me to finish quite a few manuscripts a year. I know a few other published authors who point to this as their key to productivity as well.
    Nooooooo!!! Don't tell me I'll do better if I give up TV! That's harsh. Lol. I already gave up cable so as to cut back, but, gah, none at all? What was the process like? Did you have withdrawals? How do you stay up with popular culture?


    I find I'm not very good at saying"no" to any idea. So I pretty much write them all, in order, if they seem to have all the requisite parts to be a novel, and they seem middle-grade-ish. (I'm most drawn to MG, and it seems to be considered a good career decision to stay in one genre/area for a while. We'll see!) It's coming in handy just now, having a bunch of MSs sitting on the hard drive... but not all of them are good, by any means. But any writing is good writing, for the practice at least, I think.
    I wish I could write everything that pops in my mind. It would be so nice to have a stack of MSs ready to polish should I get an agent, and then I'd have something in hand that says, "Why yes, I am prolific."

    If Fate smiles on me, I plan to stay in MG until my audience has grown up. Then I'm going to start writing YA, with a few MG stories tossed in here and there as they come to me. I had MG authors I loved and who I wish wrote older things that I could have finished growing up with, you know?
    WIPs

    Untitled <-- Supernatural MG (drafting)
    Tobias Tinker <-- Clockpunk MG (on hold)
    Freak Town <-- Paranormal YA (on hold)
    Huntington House <-- Paranormal YA (on hold)




  24. #1649
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    So, I have to write a synopsis for this MG mystery, so I can send it off to an editor.

    Can someone just kill me now? *groans*

  25. #1650
    Synopses aren't that bad. I usually write them without worrying about the length. Then I go back and edit them until they're the right length.

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