I realize I haven't blogged in...oh, just under a year and a half. And I highly doubt that anyone expects me to at this point.
Well, guess what. You were right. I realized long ago that this blog wasn't adding anything new to the conversation. Just more noise (and most of it white noise, at that). But I'm going to leave this blog up, at least for now, because so many of these posts make me happy. Especially that last one. :)
But just in case someone stumbles upon this blog at any point, I wanted to let you know where I'm hanging out these days.
First and foremost, you can always find me on Twitter. I go by @NHNovelist, and I'd always be delighted to hear from you.
You can also check out my website if you're interested in any bookish news: http://ashleyturcotte.com/.
Hope to see you around!
Friday, June 27, 2014
This is something I've been waiting to write for a long time. A very long time. I've always wondered how I would feel while writing it. I assumed I'd be something along the lines of ecstatic.
Turns out that's exactly how I feel. And I'm oh so happy I was right.
To make a long story short, I'm exceedingly ecstatic to announce that I'm now represented by the awesome Lisa Jane Weller of Broadland Literary! Lisa is amazing. I realized very shortly after we started emailing that we're pretty much on the same page about...well, more or less everything. Plus she's one of the nicest people I know. And after we had our call, I was even more sure than I was while we were emailing. I adore her. And I'm so happy that she loves Tearless as much as I do.
I suppose I should tell the longer story. As people tend to want details in these kinds of posts. ;)
So. Back in April, I saw on Twitter that the 2014 edition of The Writer's Voice would be starting soon. I was an alternate on the wonderful Krista Van Dolzer's team in 2013 and had a ton of fun, so I checked it out. It looked like it would be just as awesome this year, and I had a shiny new manuscript that hadn't been entered in any contests yet. So I decided to give it a go.
If you've ever entered one of these kinds of contests, where coaches/mentors choose their favorites from among the entries, you know how stressful they are. All the Twitter stalking and watching and waiting and hoping. It's perfectly safe for you to assume that I was a wreck during the week that the coaches read the entries.
Then it came time for them to pick. And they said they'd start choosing at 10 am on Tuesday. So I was sitting at work on Tuesday, and I happened to notice that it was 9:59 am. And I thought to myself, self, wouldn't it be wonderful if you got picked right at 10 am? If you were the very first? So I refreshed my email. Because how can you not check? Just in case.
And I actually had an email! The amazingly awesome Mónica Bustamante Wagner posted the most phenomenal comment on my entry, saying things about Tearless that very nearly made me cry. Then, that night, the incomparable Brenda Drake also asked me to join her team!
I was on cloud nine, guys. I thought long and hard about it that night. (There wasn't much sleep to be had.) In the end, I chose Mónica. Back when I first started to become active in the online writer community, Mónica was the very first writer to follow me on Twitter. I'm a big believer in things like signs and karma and fate, so I knew which way I had to go.
So we worked on edits and got my entry as shiny and beautiful as it could be. And if I thought the part where the coaches picked was stressful, that was nothing compared to the agent round. But oh, was it worth the stress in the end. Lisa was one of the ninja agents, and my entry caught her eye. She requested the first 100 pages, and I was very happy to send them over. Now, I've had lots of requests out before. So I know the drill. Send it out. Try not to think about it. Because it's probably going to be a while.
Except it wasn't. Five days later, an email pops up in my inbox. Now, you know how when agents are rejecting you, you can usually tell from those few words that show up in the preview? That's what I thought I was looking at. It was the same start to an email I'd gotten many a-time before. So my heart sank as I opened it, sure I was going to have another to add to my stack of rejections.
Except I didn't. That email turned around very quickly. She loved my partial. She wanted the full. She also wanted the first 50 pages of any other completed manuscripts I wanted to share with her, and quick descriptions of anything I was working on. Needless to say, I was bouncy as Tigger the rest of the day. Then she got back to me the next morning to say she was intrigued by my other projects, and would let me know her decision in the next 3-4 weeks.
Insert holding of breath here.
But it wasn't 3-4 weeks. Just under a week later, Lisa's email address popped up in my inbox again. Once again, the short preview tricked me! I was absolutely certain that it was a rejection email, like all the others. So I opened it up and started skimming, looking for the sentence that started with, "Unfortunately..." But then as I was going through it, I didn't see anything that made it seem like she was passing. I was really confused for a few seconds. Then I got the single greatest adrenaline rush of my life.
I scrolled back to the top and started reading it properly. And guys, she gets my book. I know everyone always says that in these types of posts, but man oh man, I really understand what they mean now. Everything she said about Tearless, from what she liked to the edits she suggested, just felt right to me.
Then came The Call! (I'm still calling it The Call even though it was technically on Skype.) I was terrified for the couple of days leading up to it. Like, legit can't eat or sleep terrified. Because talking to people is always terrifying to me, but this was even worse because it mattered. I was sure I'd say something stupid and screw the whole thing up. Even so, I was sitting at my husband's computer five minutes before she was supposed to contact me, just staring at my Skype window and trying to breathe. Then I got the little pop up that she was calling! And I clicked on the thing! And it didn't work!
So Lisa tried to call again. And it connected that time. Only I couldn't hear a thing she was saying. I kinda hope she couldn't hear anything I was saying, either, because when it didn't work a second time, my language may have been a tad strong. Oops. So I decided my husband's computer was pretty much the worst, and made a mad dash for my laptop. Third time's the charm! And guys, I felt totally at ease about seven seconds into the conversation. That's not even an exaggeration. And it wasn't just because of the awesome British accent, either! I know I said it already, but Lisa is seriously one of the nicest people I know. We talked about my books and her agency and plans for submission and everything. And it was perfect. Perfect.
I let the other agents with my stuff know, and gave them two weeks to get back to me. Those two weeks can also be called The Two Weeks of Torture. I saw some agents say on Twitter that one week just isn't enough, so I thought I'd be nice and give them two. Worst decision ever. I do not recommend doing this. Ten days maybe. But for your own sanity, do not go all the way up to fourteen.
But I survived The Two Weeks of Torture. And at the end of all that crazy, I got to send Lisa an email letting her know that I was accepting her offer! Hurray!!! I absolutely can't wait to get started on edits. Lisa is amazing, and I know she'll help me take my manuscript to the next level. This is gonna be awesome, guys. So, so awesome.
Now is the time for the obligatory apology for writing the longest How I Got My Agent post ever. But I write novels for a reason. Being succinct is simply not a skill a possess. Anyway, if you made it this far, thanks for sticking with me. You're the best.
And if you scrolled down to the bottom just to see who my agent is, ha! I fooled you! I totally put that up at the top.
Friday, May 2, 2014
Twelve-year-old Sam can't cry, no matter how hard he tries. But the Wizard Ero demands tears from everyone in his kingdom, using them to control people like puppets on strings. If Sam's eyes are dry on his day of collecting, the wizard will punish Sam's mother and his only friend, Tria, to force his tax of tears.
Cutting onions. Nearly drowning. Shoving his hand into a fire. Nothing ever works. Even when collecting day arrives and Ero tortures Tria, Sam can't find his tears. So Ero keeps Sam prisoner, using Sam's mother and Tria as a constant threat. Since crying isn't possible, Sam can only protect the others one way: making sure Ero can't control them again.
But finding and destroying the tears is easier said than done. Puppets roam the castle at all hours, acting as Ero's eyes and ears. And Sam's sure the tears are in the east tower—the one place in the castle he's forbidden to go. But what he finds in the tower convinces Sam that destroying Ero's stash isn't enough to keep his loved ones safe. He'll have to destroy Ero.
Defeating the wizard will free an entire kingdom. Failing gets the only two people he loves killed. Either way, crying won't solve anything.
TEARLESS is a middle grade fantasy complete at 56,000 words. Thank you so much to everyone involved in putting on this contest. I really appreciate the opportunity to participate.
FIRST 250 WORDS
Sam really didn't want to shove his hand in a fire. But he was out of time.
He fidgeted with the bits of kindling he'd stolen from his mother's kitchen. He tried to keep his eyes on town, searching for Tria in the darkness, but kept glancing to the east. Dawn was surely only minutes away.
By the time a shadowy, Tria-shaped form ran toward him, Sam had broken the kindling into tiny pieces. "Did you bring them?" he asked.
Tria held out her hand, but it was too dark to tell if the steel striker and chunk of flint were actually there. "Of course," she said, pretending to be insulted. "When have I ever let you down?"
"Never," Sam said. She was the only one he could really count on. His mother tried her hardest, and Sam loved her for that. But she hadn't been the same since Sam's father died. There were days she didn't even make it out of bed, and she almost never ventured beyond their garden.
Everyone else in Eller's Grove pretended Sam didn't even exist.
"Exactly," Tria said. Sam didn't have to see her face to know she was smirking. "We'd better hurry, though. If my papa wakes up to find these missing, he won't be happy."
Sam rolled his eyes. Even a surly man like the blacksmith wouldn't punish them on their day of collecting. Besides, there was always the chance their plan would work, and Sam would finally cry. The whole town would rejoice to hear such news.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
So I'm pretty much ecstatic to be involved in the cover reveal for TWELVE STEPS, written by my wonderful and beloved CP, Veronica Bartles. I adore every single thing about this book, guys. Up to and including the beautiful cover. Seriously, isn't it all sorts of beautiful? (And I really want those purple shoes...)
by Veronica Bartles
Release Date: 03/25/14
Sixteen-year-old Andi is tired of being a second-class sibling to perfect sister Laina. There in Laina's shadow, Andi's only noticeable feature is her pretty awesome hair. And even that is eclipsed by Laina's perfect everything else.
When Andi’s crush asks her to fix him up with Laina, Andi decides enough is enough and devises a twelve-step program to wrangle the spotlight away from Laina. After all, great hair must count for something.
Step 1: Admit she’s powerless to change her perfect sister, and accept that her life really, really sucks. OK, maybe that's two steps in one.
Step 4: Make a list of her good qualities besides great hair. There have got to be at least three good qualities, right?
Step 7: Demand attention for more than just her shortcomings, and break out of her shell. Easier said that done, but worth the effort in the long-run.
When a stolen kiss from her crush ends in disaster, Andi finds that her prince isn’t as charming as she'd hoped, and realizes she may need a new program--perhaps with less steps!
As cracks in Laina’s flawless façade begin to show, the sisters work together to find a spotlight big enough for both to shine.
About the Author
As the second of eight children and the mother of four, Veronica Bartles is no stranger to the ups and downs of sibling relationships. (She was sandwiched between the gorgeous-and-insanely-popular older sister and the too-adorable-for-words younger sister.) She uses this insight to write stories about siblings who mostly love each other, even while they’re driving one another crazy. When she isn’t writing or getting lost in the pages of her newest favorite book, Veronica enjoys knitting fabulous bags and jewelry out of recycled plastic bags and old VHS tapes, sky diving (though she hasn’t actually tried that yet), and inventing the world’s most delectable cookie recipes.
TWELVE STEPS is Veronica Bartles's first novel.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
The following conversation occurred during the opening credits of Love Actually. (This will make no sense to you if you are unfamiliar with Love Actually, The Walking Dead, or Firefly/Serenity).
Husband: Keira Knightley should've gone with the best friend guy. Then she would've survived the zombie apocalypse.
Me: But she stuck with the guy who killed Mr. Universe with a sword. And he was pretty badass. And the reavers are pretty much like zombies.
Husband: But he didn't do that hot against the reavers!
Me: He did fine against the reavers. He had a problem with Mal.
Husband: *thinks for a few seconds* So really, the moral of the story is that she should've sought out Nathan Fillion.
Me: And this is why I love you.
Ah, Nathan Fillion. Like you, I will never move on from the glory that was Firefly. Long live Malcolm Reynolds.
Monday, November 4, 2013
So the lovely Veronica Bartles invited me to take part in this fun little blog hop. Just four questions about my writing process, and then I'll name someone at the end to hopefully keep this going. Here goes.
1. What are you working on right now?
I am working on two things. I'm finishing up edits for my MG fantasy TEARLESS, which I love so much it's almost overwhelming at times. And I'm working on coming up with the idea for my next book. Because eventually, I'll finish editing and start querying. And we all know that the best way to avoid the loony bin while querying is to start working on your next project. I have an idea rolling around in my head, but I'm not sure about it yet. I like to let these things sit and simmer for a while before I commit to them. Kind of like tattoos. I have a rule that I won't get a tattoo unless, a full year after I decide I want it, I still want the exact same thing. So far, nothing has passed this test, and I remain un-inked. But don't worry...I don't force myself to wait a whole year before starting a book. Because books, unlike tattoos, can be revised, or even put in a drawer, never seen or heard from again.
2. How does it differ from other works in its genre?
The big difference between this and other MG fantasies (or other fantasies in general) is that I've really created a form of magic that, to the very best of my knowledge, has never been seen before. I did the same with LUMINARY, my YA fantasy, and that's really what I want for my next book, as well. I think that's what I'm especially good at. Creating really fun, original words/magic systems, and then writing characters that you can truly come to love and root for. I really hope any future readers will love Sam, the main character of TEARLESS, as much as early readers have.
3. Why do you write what you do?
I have been told, repeatedly, since I was old enough to speak, that I suffer from an overabundance of imagination. Well, suffer might not be the right word. Though it is the word certain people have used to describe me (the people who don't get me, and just think I'm a whack-a-doo). But I choose to believe that I have been particularly and especially blessed. I write fantasy because, to paraphrase Anne Shirley, it has more scope for the imagination. And because it makes me happy. Really, truly, and seriously happy. How many people can say that about their jobs?
4. How does your writing process work?
I am a plotter through and through. But long before I start plotting, I come up with a premise. Like with LUMINARY, color=magic. Or TEARLESS, a wizard controls everyone in his kingdom through their tears...except the boy who can't cry. Once I come up with this premise, I let it simmer and percolate. I try to let characters and plot points and worlds and rules of magic come to me naturally. And once I feel I have a firm enough grasp on what I want the book to be about, I sit down and write it all out. I prefer the program Scrivener, which has a nifty cork board page. I can put all my plot points on separate notecards, and then move them around as I see fit. It's so much easier than what I used to do (basically just writing out a bullet list in Word, with no order, rhyme, or reason to it). Then I also have separate cork boards for my characters and settings. Couldn't recommend this more. Anyway, after I have things meticulously planned out and written down, I start writing. And 99.9% of the time, I write in order. I generally find writing out of order stressful and just plain strange. And once I'm done with a first draft? Edits, edits, and more edits. This part of the process has grown particularly intense and awesome ever since I met my three fabulous critique partners. They see things I never would or could, and have made me a significantly better writer.
And that's about it! So now I'm supposed to tag someone else to keep this going. The awesome Rachel Horwitz has agreed to take part. Go here on Friday to read about what she's working on and her writing process. :)
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Let me think about that question a little more.
Yeah. No. Not the same thing. Often lumped together (especially in book stores) but so not the same thing.
I don't write science fiction. I've never written science fiction. I might, on occasion, read a book that could be qualified as science fiction light.
I write, read, live, love, breathe fantasy. Have for very nearly all of my life, and don't see that changing anytime soon.
Why am I bringing this up? Because I was called a science fiction writer during a meeting at work today. (In a rather derogatory (and inaccurate) context to boot.)* And apparently I've made my views on this subject known to coworkers, friends, and family. Because as I corrected my coworker for making this false statement, so did several of the other people in the meeting.
Then I got back to my desk and my darling friend Taryn asked how the meeting was.
Not long thereafter, my husband asked me the same question.
Any of you ever have someone make a completely wrong statement about what you write/writing in general? Ever have them think you're crazy when you object, because really, they're totally the same thing, right?
*Additional note following a conversation I had about this post with Delia Moran: I would like to go on the record and state that I actually don't mind explaining the difference to people who actually care/simply didn't know/are interested and want to listen. What bothers me is when people think fantasy and science fiction are the same because they're both trash anyway. Just a bunch of useless words lumped together. So why bother differentiating? I must know I write the crappiest of crap, so why would that really matter to me? This is like when people ask me why I don't try writing a "real book." Not acceptable. So once more for the road: grrrrrrr.