Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pitch Contest with Natalie Fischer!

The amazing team at YAtopia is hosting a pitch contest with agent Natalie Fischer. Hurry and enter - only 150 entries are accepted and the contest closes at midnight tonight.

Check it out: http://yatopia.blogspot.com/2011/04/pitch-contest-with-natalie-fischer.html#comments

Good luck to everyone who enters and thanks to YAtopia for hosting the contest!

My entry (also found in the comments on the website):

Name: Dustin Warren

Email: duwarrs(at)gmail.com


Genre: YA Contemporary

Blog/Twitter/Facebook link: http://duwarr-writes.blogspot.com/

2 Sentence Pitch:

Fifteen-year-old Bailey wants a day free from doctors, free from her oppressive, worrying parents, and free from the misery her terminal disease inflicts on her. And if she has to die a little sooner to get that day, that’s okay by her.

Opening sentence:

Three pairs of hands fumble at the cords and tubes connecting me to the machines around my bed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Query Letter Blogfest

The Query Letter Blogfest is going on today to help writers improve the first impressions we make on agents. My query for ONE LAST TIME is below and I'd appreciate any and all thoughts. I definitely need to make this better.

Here we go:

Dear Agent,

[Reason I'm querying this particular agent] My Contemporary YA manuscript, ONE LAST TIME, is complete at 50,000 words.

Fifteen-year-old Bailey refuses to waste her last days immobilized in a hospital room. The sickness that’s ravaged her body and made her life wretched is about to kill her, but she's not going to lie in bed like a vegetable waiting for death to find her. With the help of her best friends, Bailey breaks out so she can enjoy one last day of freedom.

Free from the hospital, Bailey attempts the normal, everyday activities she’s been denied: driving a car, visiting the mall, even going to school. But then her heart gets in the way. When Bailey discovers love in an unexpected place, she questions her willingness to die for the first time. Suddenly, she has someone – and something – to live for, but she has to decide if that’s enough to return to the hospital to suffer through her last days in the place she’s grown to loathe.

Per [Agency Name's] submission guidelines, I have included [whatever they ask for]. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best Regards,

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Game of Thrones

In my last post, I mentioned how I was looking forward to seeing The Hunger Games on the big screen. I'm just as excited - perhaps even more so - to see A Game of Thrones turned into a show on HBO. I've loved the series, although it has taken a long, long time getting to print.

As intricate as the plot is, I'm really glad this is a story being told on TV rather than in theaters. Hollywood would have to cut a ton to story to condense each book into a single movie. Even with 10 hour-long episodes per book, I'm worried a lot will be missing. Plus, author George R R Martin's slow writing pace means the show's creators will run out of books long before the series ends. But maybe the later books will span more than one season.

Martin's excruciatingly slow style has pained readers; he allegedly missed tons of deadlines while putting together A Dance with Dragons, finally to be released in July of this year. It's been six years since the previous book in the series, A Feast for Crows, came out. I'm looking forward to it, even if it is going to focus on some of the characters I'm less enamored with.

Martin's books are a great read for aspiring authors. His pacing, his plot development, the way he switches from one character's perspective to the next - all are incredible. I'll reread his books to make sure I remember all the important details going into the latest book.

One of the things he does best is making sure his characters each act in accordance to what's in their own best interests. It's infuriating at times when side characters to act in ways that don't coincide with what's best for my favorite characters. But, I always understand why that is. The story is much fuller because of that and there are a lot more twists.

From plotting to character development, there's a lot to learn about writing within the series' pages. I always like reading books that will help me become a better writer and Martin's works certainly do that.

Does anyone have any books they've learned a lot from?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I finished Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games Trilogy last night. And yes, I know that makes me pretty much the last person to read the series. I read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire when they were released, but didn't read Mockingjay until this week.

And I was disappointed. Bet you couldn't guess that from the title of this post. It's hard to discuss my frustrations without spoilers, but I'll try just in case there's someone out there who is behind me in their reading.

The whole book was a buildup to a final battle. And when it arrived, it was a huge letdown. I get that Collins was trying to make the point that war is bad and ugly and the consequences are terrible, but in literature there are certain expectations. Frodo destroys the ring in Mount Doom. Harry defeats Voldemort. We read series with an expectation about how it ends. How we get there is up to the author and how it plays out is up to the author. Of course, the books belong to them and they aren't obligated to adhere to readers' preconceived notions about what and how things should transpire. But that doesn't stop me from feeling let down.

Plus, there's a twist at the end that's so obvious I was begging for it not to happen, simply because it was set up, blatantly, throughout the book. The twist was so obvious, it wasn't a twist if that makes any sense.

Looking at what I've written so far, it looks like I don't like Mockingjay. That's not right. I do. I like it a lot, despite the shortcomings I think the end has. I think one of the problems for the series is that the best book is first. The Hunger Games was fantastic. I read it after hearing about all the hype. Too many accolades heaped on a book can ruin it for me because my expectations are raised too high, but in my mind the reviews I'd read didn't do it justice. The book was fantastic. Catching Fire was good too. I liked it better the second time I read it, but to me it wasn't as good as the Hunger Games.

And Mockingjay was my least favorite. Still good. Still enjoyable, but not as good as the first two. Maybe I'll enjoy it more the second time around like I did Catching Fire, but I can't imagine enjoying the end.

Still, a great series that I will read again. And I can't wait to see the movies.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Epic Follower Blogfest / Contest

Shelley Watters at Is It Hot In Here Or Is It This Book? is hosting an Epic Follower Blogfest / Contest. The prize is a full manuscript request from agent Suzie Townsend. On April 1 and 2, pitches are posted for crituque by other participants. On April 3, the polished pitches are entered in the comment section of Shelley's contest post

Without further ado, here's my 140 character pitch.  Please bash away - I've really had to hack away at it to get it this short.

Title: One Last Time
Genre: Contemporary YA
Word Count: 50,000

Certain death awaits disease-ravaged Bailey if she leaves the hospital, but that’s a consequence she accepts if it means she can enjoy one last day with her friends.

That was hard.  Thanks for critiquing!