Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pirates and Elves and Magic, oh my!

Hey guys! I wanted to share my newest query with you. I have another revision of my novel, but before I do that, I need to print the book and maybe hold off on reading for about a weeks so I can approach with fresh eyes.

I have been reading QueryShark's blog for the past two days. I stayed up until 12:30 just to get through most of the archives. I do this because:

1.) Query Shark says to read the archives.

2.) I learned a TON just by reading the first page of query critiques.

3.) I am not going to submit my query to Query Shark, but I need all the help I can get. I am not submitting because I don't want my query critiqued, but because she states that 99% of the queries submitted don't get posted. So, I felt it's easier to let my bloggers have at it at the moment

From Query Shark, I took tips from her "how to add plot to your query." I'd post that here, but I feel like I would betray her "read through the archives" statement. So, if you'd like to read what I read, HERE is the link to Query Shark.

Query Shark (Janet Reid) said that the age of your character isn't necessarily important to add to the query, but in mine, I am not sure if it works. She said she is always looking for VOICE. I noticed the queries she really liked were dominated by voice. Also, reading Query Shark made me realize how IMPORTANT it is that your query is polished and tight because agents will look for indicators that tell them what your book might be like--for instance, if you have unnecessary words, or long sentences. Also, no address at the top of the letter!

What I don't want in my query is "character soup" as Query Shark says. I don't want the readers to feel overwhelmed by characters. I also (as I said) need to take a break from both the novel and the query so I can return with an objective eye.

So, without anymore rambling, here is my query...please, critique away!

Dear Mr/Ms. Agent:

Eighteen year old pirate Barren Reed remembers one thing from his childhood—his father's murder at the hands of his older brother, William. Since then, he stakes out the coast of Maris, attacking any and all ships that pass through The Cliffs in an attempt to lure his brother into a fight to the death. When he learns his brother is to marry soon, Barren decides to set his attention on the fiancĂ©e. Kidnapping Larkin proves far more difficult than he ever thought--she's the most defiant and stubborn woman he's ever met, and to top it all off, she's handy with a sword.

Larkin is just one of Barren’s problems—especially when his attraction toward her grows. His brother is making plans to overthrow their uncle, King Tetherion. Turns out, Teth knows exactly what Will is looking for—a bloodstone that will give him power over dark magic. Tetherion will charge Barren with the task of locating the stone, though Barren isn’t sure he wants something so dangerous in Tetherion’s hands—especially since its existence is the reason he doesn’t remember his childhood.

Barren will face condemnation by his uncle if he chooses to destroy the bloodstone, and at worst, death, but the secrets he’s unraveled on his adventure tell him not to hand it over.

I am pleased to submit for your consideration my young adult novel, CUTLASS, complete at 90,000 words. I have a BA in English Writing and I am pursuing a Masters in Library Science and Information Studies.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Ashley Nixon

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

General Anxiety Disorder

Hey guys!
I know the topic of my blog is a little weird, huh? Well, not for me recently. I was diagnosed a few weeks ago with General Anxiety Disorder (yeah, it means exactly what you think, I am GENERALLY anxious). I guess you get diagnosed when your anxiety is affecting your daily life.

So, initially I thought I was stupid. I felt like, "Man, Ashley, this is something YOU can control. You are making yourself this anxious. Stop!"

Well, the problem is, I don't know HOW to stop myself. I have no coping mechanism for when I get really stressed out.

I take that back--my only coping mechanism is writing, but when I get so busy with school, work, and whatever else is happening in my life, I cannot always write. So, when that is taken away from me, I am left with a struggle between my thoughts and my body. My stress weighs so heavily upon my chest, I can FEEL the pressure. All I do is suffer through it.

An example is that I put so much pressure on myself to be absolutely great at everything. Everything I do has no other option other than you either do this or you fail (this is like when you are in the driver's seat, and you only look straight ahead, but as a passenger, you can see everything on either side of you)...I can't ever BE the passenger. I know exactly where I got this mentality, too--from my childhood. I had this whole, "Well, if you don't get a job, you can have what you need or want" so you better get a job. Then it was "Well, you need a car or you can't get to work, so you have to save for a car, and you have to work 30 hours a week" then it was "Now you have to pay for that car, so work more, more, more" Then it was "You need to work REALLY hard for this scholarship or you can't go to OU."

See my options? I gave myself NO leeway even if there was room. This has carried over into my adult life, and frankly I am tired of it. I want to cope with this anxiety and SEE the other options out there. I don't want to feel overwhelmed anymore by my own doing. Why am I telling you this?

Well, I think it's very important to realize when you have a problem. Me--well, my professor told me as a freshman I probably needed therapy because I stressed out SO much and it took me four years to listen. So, here I am--my first counseling appointment down and I am hopeful that I will be mentally healthy soon.

This step is all a part of an overall goal I set for myself in May: I wanted to be healthy in body and in my mind. So, I began working out (more on a routine this time), and I started eating healthy (completely, cutting out soda and coffee), and now I am getting help with my anxiety.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Blogfest: What's Your Chocolate?

Today I am participating in the What's Your Chocolate?" Blogfest hosted by the wonderful people you see listed on this picture above. lol.

Laura Eno
M Pax
Brinda Berry
Ciara Knight

Check out their wonderful blogs (and books!).

Okay, so for this blogfest, we are supposed to:

Post about your favorite chocolate – what it means to you, where and when you indulge, a favorite memory – anything chocolate-related."


1. My favorite Chocolate:

Hershey's Dark Chocolate.

Many people don't like dark chocolate, but I swear when I eat it, I feel loads better! AND diabetics can eat it! I am not a diabetic, but my Daddy is and I tell him as a treat, he can have a square of dark chocolate now and then to satisfy his sweet tooth. Because of this, eating dark chocolate doesn't make me feel like I cheated on my healthiness. Yay antioxidants! lol. 

Now, I don't eat chocolate often, but when I do, I probably had a particularly off-day, or maybe I don't feel good. My favorite thing to do is freeze and entire bar and then break pieces off and eat them like that--for some reason, it's just better! I definitely remember days during my undergrad where I'd be studying and just stop, sigh and say, "I need some dark chocolate." Aladdin would run to the gas station near us and get a bar, and he'd get something like a Dr. Pepper (his caffeine) and it definitely made studying easier--it must have magical focusing abilities or something. :) 

What's your favorite chocolate? Or do you even like chocolate? lol.