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Posts Tagged ‘Fire and Brimstone’

  1. Small Improvements

    February 11, 2013 by Kiersi

    Final stage revising is all about the tiny improvements. Selecting the right word for the right location, moving dialogue tags to give the dialogue more oomph, sprinkling in more thoughtful observations and edgy humor.

    Here is a selection of bits and pieces from my August book release (the first book in the Fire and Brimstone series) that were changed, added, or improved in this final polish-oriented revision:

    Girls were screaming. Not guy-in-a-hockey-mask screams, but the screams of fanatic teenagers mobbing a rock star just before a show.

    An important distinction.

    I had to admire Rain, striding into the cameras, oblivious to the sound of beetle jaws snapping her everlasting likeness.

    I never thought of cameras or cameramen as having such a peculiar likeness to beetles until Mockingjay.

    The sky had a strange milky-gray pallor, like it had had too much to drink the night before.

    A British friend added, “Or bad tea.”

    Weston is already stirring things up at the office. Tad acted all morning like a giant inflatable tube-guy in an auto dealership parking lot, flailing around and stressing everyone out.

    This was actually inspired by an episode of The Simpsons. I think Homer gets one of those tube guys.

    “It just doesn’t make sense! He read one of your assignments and—”

    “Hey, girls.”

    Veronica’s entire body stopped moving, like someone had pressed pause.

    “H-h-hey, Everett.” She recovered miraculously as Everett slid in next to me on the bench. “What’s up? You’re looking good. I mean, your hair is looking good. I mean, the rest of you is OK, too. In fact it’s more than—”

    “Thanks,” he said, interrupting her. He turned to me. “What are you up to this weekend? Brandy’s dad’s out of town and she’s having a big party on Saturday night.”

    Veronica’s face fell. “We didn’t hear anything about a party.”

    In this draft, Veronica became “Ronnie,” making her both more personable and also more dorky. I amped up her bitch meter but in a funny, almost likable way. She has so much more character and personality now–perfect for a supporting character.

    I took a couple hours off from this final revision sprint to make a little sculpture tribute to Pendleton Ward, creator of the fabulous TV show for kids and adults, Adventure Time. (Seriously, if you are ever lacking in ideas while writing children’s lit, this is the show for you.)

     
    Remember, taking breaks and using your mind in new and unfamiliar ways is important to a creative lifestyle!


  2. Los Angeles By Scooter

    March 19, 2012 by Kiersi

    Los Angeles

    Westwood, LA

    I wish I had some better photos to show off than this one, but I was too busy looking with my eyes to take any real monumental works of art.

    So I’m in Los Angeles, doing some much-needed research for my upcoming debut novel (and its two sequels). All three books take place in LA, but I’ve spent so little time there that my inaccuracies had become embarrassing–like a zit that sits in the bottom corner of your face and no one mentions it to you, and when you look in the mirror later that night and see it you just want to scream.

    It’s kind of like that. (more…)


  3. Colorful Rejections: Landing a Literary Agent

    January 28, 2012 by Kiersi

    Colorful Carousel in Buenos Aires, Argentina

    A strange, graffiti-mottled carousel I photographed in Buenos Aires, Argentina

    Life over the last week has been a stark contrast of, well, everything: there’s gorgeous, sunny weather outside (yay for the southern hemisphere!), all the time in the world to work on my books and hone my craft, and to top it all off, an endless supply of kind-of-encouraging rejection letters from literary agents.

    On the one hand, at least they haven’t all been form letters. Even better, I’ve actually been getting responses. From what I hear (and read), that’s unusual at best. And strangely, it seems that from the agent perspective, my writing is good. The pitch is even good. It’s just not great. (more…)


  4. Lit Agents, Publishers, and Bears, Oh My!

    January 20, 2012 by Kiersi

    It’s about 11:07 p.m. Argentinian time. The temperature? Upper-90s, at least. Hot enough that sitting inside with the overhead fan whirring full-force and the window wide open isn’t enough to stop the sweat from pouring off my forehead, dripping down my cheeks and ears and neck.

    I told some of my pals on Facebook about this, but I received a response from my fourth literary agent query (first was Andrea Brown Lit Agency, second was the agent who represented Hush, Hush, and the third I can’t even remember). Her name is Alyssa Henkin, with Trident Media Group.

    It’s been over a month since I emailed her back with the full manuscript of Fire and Brimstone (from The Devil’s Throne series) and, as she requested, The School Under the Mountain (a middle-grade adventure/thriller). So maybe all that Argentinian sweat isn’t totally due to the Argentinian heat. (more…)


  5. Concept Schmoncept

    September 19, 2011 by Kiersi

    Concept art for Fire and Brimstone

    Concept art for Fire and Brimstone (working title)

    After the discussion about titles, I started thinking more and more on how books present themselves to readers, and the power of first impressions.

    I’ve been mulling over some ideas about what the cover of Fire and Brimstone would look like, should I have that creative freedom. (more…)


  6. Of Titles and Teenagers

    September 18, 2011 by Kiersi

    Girl, Interrupted

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

    I Am Number Four

    Survivor

    These are the titles that come to mind as I work my way in circles around and around and around, searching for the right name for my flagship book. It’s currently nicknamed Fire and Brimstone, but there’s just something about those three words that doesn’t satisfy me.

    I’m looking for a name like Survivor, where the title doesn’t really click until you hit the climax of the story. As a reader, I relish that punch-you-in-the-gut moment when you realize what the title really means. It’s funny and tragic and clever, all in a few sharp words.

    At the same time, the title must push its way past other titles and call out to a potential reader as he or she walks past. This is a great feat for an inanimate object to accomplish, so it’s up to the authors and editors and friends of authors to brainstorm a real charmer.

    Thinking up a great title is like fly fishing: You have a fraction of a second to make an impression, so it better accomplish two things: (more…)


  7. How to Start Your Masterpiece

    September 11, 2011 by Kiersi

    Dante's Inferno: Yep, this is the best book ever written.

    This book changed my 15-year-old life.

    Sometimes I spend so much time on beginnings that I just don’t know when to stop.

    It’s debatable whether the beginning of a story is the most important part—but at the least, it’s the part that hooks your reader, the part that gets him or her to read more, to want to read more, and maybe even buy your book (or represent you, or pick up your manuscript, or whatever it is that you’re looking for).

    Beginnings tell us, your readers, what to expect from you. Not everyone is interested in the type of book you write. For example, my mom would never find herself hooked on a fantasy book. That is not a bad thing. You don’t want to try to tell my mom your book is a mystery thriller if it’s actually a fantasy book, because she’ll read a little bit further and just be disappointed.

    1. Be honest what you’re about. If you like to write stream of consciousness, tell us right away. Make it good, make your impression fast, and make it interesting, for god’s sake!

    When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.

    The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

    Bam. Suzanne tells us right away, in her very first paragraph, what her book is all about. We know two of the main characters instantly. We know how Katniss narrates. We know this is a no-bullshit story and we’d better be prepared for that. Now we’re wondering: What is the reaping? Why does it terrify her sister? Getting your reader wondering is the key to The Hook (write this one down, it’ll be on the test).

    2. Jump right into the action. Let’s be honest about the YA audience: they have a shorter attention span than most. They want the juice (the reason to keep reading), and they want it now. Doesn’t matter how you juice it, honestly. Start with a fight scene if your book has fights. Start with a sexy scene if that’s your audience. Like this:

    “I’m dying,” said the voice. Dusty clutched the phone.

    -first line of Frozen Fire, Tim Bowler

    Tim knows how to start out a thriller, let’s just put it that way.

    3. Last but not least, work on your first few pages a lot, but not too much (the mistake I mentioned at the beginning of this post). As I said in #1, you need to be honest with your reader about your writing style, your storytelling style, and your characters. If you work and work and work those pages to impress a reader or an agent or a publisher, you’ll find yourself with a stellar intro and a manuscript that just can’t match. Make sure that you use your intro as a chance to learn.

    You want to write a page-turner. The way to do that is to take what you’ve learned from your intro and apply it to the rest of your book (this is the juice to which I was referring). You want your reader to not only buy your book, but also to never put it down. You want your reader to rave about it to his or her friends. Find those moments that ratchet up the tension or play the harpsichord of your readers’ heart strings.

    Just remember to fill your book with juice and you’ll do fine.

    Then the light from the streetlamps began to dim. With each step, the path was harder and harder to distinguish. I wouldn’t make it to the buildings in the distance before everything went dark.

    Armed with a spurt of adrenaline I tried to run, but my legs had suddenly become too heavy; I was rooted to the ground.

    Then the night enveloped me.

    Fire and Brimstone