Celebrating My One-Month Blog Anniversary, 15,000 Words & Awesome Book Trailers

My WIP, Red Madrassa, made it to 23,000 words this weekend which is roughly 85 pages in Word. In the month since I began this blog on March 27th, I’ve truly been able to focus on the book and have grown as a writer. Just four short weeks ago I started at 30 pages which was roughly 7,000 words and a vague plot outline. I’ve even got a faint sketch of plot developments for Book 2 in my head. I’m very excited to continue writing and it has been a joy to see my characters grow and develop.

My goal still stands at 55,000 – 65,000 words. I’d like to finish up this WIP by the end of May and start serious draft edits. For one thing I need to edit my Prologue into a kick-ass first chapter. Then it’s on to plot development, character corrections and fixing silly mistakes.

Now on to the second part of this post: Book Trailers! I’m not a huge fan of book trailers, honestly because it’s rare that I come across them – they don’t tend to go viral like movie trailers. I’ve actually never been sent a book trailer – I’ve always stumbled across them. I’m more likely to be sent an Amazon book page link with a harried text to READ THIS!

For more pretty awesome trailers see Readinista’s post!

But here are two of the ones that I can honestly say I love:

The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

What are your favorites? Post the link – I’ll add them to the list.

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Into The Summer – My Goals For 2012

Summer Is Almost Upon Us: Where Do I Stand?

My goals for 2012 are (and I’ll go back edit this with a strike-through as accomplished):

*Finish the first draft of my WIP – Red Madrassa. It currently stands at 36% done – 20,000 odd words. There’s so much more to add and I enjoy every second that I get to spend with the characters. But tendrils of the second book are already bouncing around in my head so I need to get this first book completed.

*Join DIY MFA’s Sub2Pub challenge. It’s basically the literary fiction version of the dreaded academic ‘publish or perish’! I commit to sending queries out throughout 2012 until I receive an offer or reach December 31, 2012. I see this as great motivation to finish and polish my WIP Red Madrassa.

*Find a young adult Crit group or partner. I have one super beta reader but I’m always looking for more! Send me a line at terahedun.ya (at) gmail or comment on this post if you have any suggestions for partners or crit groups to join. I’d love to exchange critiques with someone who also writes young adult fantasy fiction.

A) I’ve found an awesome crit partner through AbsoluteWrite & MyWritersCircle which both have very helpful forum posts for critiques.

B) In an effort to give back and be helpful in another person’s quest to publish I’ve joined The BETA Community at YA Stands. I’m open to High/Epic Young Adult Fantasy submissions.

*Find a job in sub-Saharan Africa. My day job revolves around international development. I’m ready to get field work experience overseas. Plus the research aspect of it will help with my landscape and language.

My dream field location: Juba, South Sudan.

I’ve set this picture as my desktop background. Every day I will look at it and every day I will work towards my goal of getting a development job in Juba, South Sudan. While writing my heart out. 😉

A) Interviewed with International Development firm A in second week of May for a position in Juba!
I. Completed second interview with International Development firm A in third week of May.

II. Received the job offer!!!

B) Received an interview request for International Development firm B in third week of May for a position in Kabul, Afghanistan. Position is unpaid and cost prohibitive. Decided not to pursue.

Images & A Youtube Clip That Inspire My Landscape

Thanks to Elizabeth Briggs, who gave me this awesome idea of creating a blog post on what images I envision when working on Red Madrassa. Elizabeth was just signed by Kate Testerman of KT Literary Agency so congrats are also in order!

I’m currently working on my first full-length novel. Aiming for roughly 55,000 words and I’m about half-way to that mark. So every day is generally me sitting down, writing and reading back through for in-line edits, missing words, grammatical errors etc.

The book revolves around 5 youths who are fast becoming five friends. They are an amazing group of diverse young people from all walks of life in a high fantasy world complete with dragons and portals. One of the youths happens to be a street-rat dragon.

Without further ado here are some images or video clips that inspire my landscape:

Setting the scene:

Will work on a post of characters next if you’d like to see.

Poaching An Illustrator

I see a book cover, I like, I want it, I have to have it. I know the age-old saying Don’t judge a book by it’s cover but many times I can’t help it. Especially if I’m standing in a huge bookstore avidly searching the rows and shelves for something to catch my eye – a pop of color, a hint of adventure, a proud face, a talking cat.

The design of the cover *to me!* shows that the author put some forethought into their characters. When I look at a book cover I hope to get a glimpse into the main characters psyche, their socioeconomic / magical / historical background and may even a hint at major plot developments.

Some covers that I love:

The 2011 Re-Design of the Song of the Lioness series

The Woman Who Rides Like A Man by Tamora Pierce

(The boys in the background are kind of hipster annoying though…focus on Alanna)

The Black Gryphon by Mercedes Lackey

(A very old-school cover but the intelligence in his eyes, the uniqueness of his species and the focus of his stance catches my eye)

The Green Rider by Kristen Britain

First Lord’s Fury by Jim Butcher

Notice the subtle differences in the covers of
Magic Steps by Tamora Pierce

In general I prefer my fantasy fiction books covers to be less busy ( i.e. not have multiple characters on the same cover bristling with different armed paraphernalia) and a design that is straightforward and captivating.

So back to the original topic of this post ‘Poaching An Illustrator’. For the life of me I can’t find a Wikipedia, Search Engine or LinkedIn type website geared solely towards illustrators or graphic artists of book cover art. Surely there is one? If you know of one please send me a line at algardisbooks at gmail dot com.

In fact I was shocked that it took quite a bit of time to discover who Tamora Pierce’s illustrators were. Only to find out that some of them didn’t have website and some of the websites were very outdated. Wouldn’t an up-to-date and extensive online portfolio be a boon to illustrators?

I assume that authors covered under Agents and Publisher’s contract receive cover design services from the publishers.

*Feel free to chime in here published authors: How much input do you have? Do you choose from a stable of on-staff or contracted illustrators? Or can you point to someone’s website, a friend of a friend’s book cover and say I like his or her work, let’s try him or her?

To the self-published authors: Where did you go for your design services? How much did you invest or not invest in quality cover art?

Great Quote From Nora Roberts

“You can’t write well what you don’t read for pleasure. If it doesn’t entertain you it’s not going to entertain anyone else.” Nora Roberts

This quote really resonated with me. I currently work in a field where publishing serious non-fiction literature is an everyday occurrence. My friends often say I just read this book on the response of the Thai government to protests or this book on the reform of the socialist protectorate system in Greece.

And I’m like…well that’s all well and good but when do you find the time to do this? And they say You know…on the weekends and at 9pm after I’ve cooked a great meal.

It occurred to me then to question what I read in my leisure time. What makes me happiest? Fantasy fiction. Because it’s not work but a relaxing romp into a new adventure. Just like how reading about the ECOWAS efforts in Mali is not work for them but rather a interesting endeavor (with a healthy heaping of career advancement.) So the Nora Roberts’ quote brings life full circle.

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In other news it feels like writing has become easier as I explore the craft more. Although nuance is a quality that I’m still working on. 40 pages down – 5 more by the end of the day.

How many pages are in a Young Adult Novel?

I’ve been told that most young adult books should be less than 200 pages. Presumably to keep the attention span of teens which the books will attract.

My favorite author, Tamora Pierce, says:

“The limit on most novels for teenagers–up until recently, at least–is 200 manuscript pages (about 250 pages in final book form). (For Intermediate/Young Reader books it’s been 150 pages.)”

But should I limit my writing to that amount? The worst that could happen would be the publisher deciding to split the book in halve so that I have two books instead of one book or that they want to better focus my work so they have plenty of material to help pare it down into a better book.

Season 2 of The Games of Thrones appears tonight on HBO!

Not that I have HBO or you know a TV to watch it with. *cough* going through a no TV faze *end cough* But will catch it tomorrow.

When I read the Song of Fire and Ice series I always imagined Daenerys Targaryen as a younger version of Halle Berry as ‘Storm’ in X-Men. Alas the actress who portrays Daenerys is not Halle Berry, in fact her name is Emilia Clarke. Although in this picture she kind of looks like she has some melanin in her skin.