How to Pitch Like a Rockstar!

November 5th, 2012

GB SkyeI’m participating in Heather Webb’s awesome and fun contest, How to Pitch Like a Rockstar! Woohoo!  Condensing your novel into a single short pitch is never easy, and contests like these are a really fun way to get practice and give and receive feedback.  So thank you, Heather, for the opportunity!  And to all the other participants: thanks in advance for any and all feedback!  Please let me know which you think is better, as well as any other thoughts you might have.

Pitch for my YA contemporary/supernatural novel, Isle in the Sea of Ghosts:

1) While Blair lies comatose, his soul wanders limbo.  A dead girl offers to help him wake if he brings her back with him, but he’ll have to sail across the Styx, duel the grim reaper, and shatter the rules of the afterlife for her, all before his comatose body draws its final breath.  Success will restore her life—failure will cost his soul.

2) Blair has three days: three days to wake from a coma, three days to confront the reasons that led to his suicide attempt, three days for his soul to escape a tiny island in limbo before he will become trapped there forever, leaving his hospitalized body to die.

Communication Styles

August 6th, 2012

GB SkyeHow do your characters communicate?  Verbally?  Through body language?  Through gestures?  Or touch?  Of course we all use every one of these to a degree, but which aspect of communication do they use the most?  And which tells the most about them?

For instance, the MC of the novel I’m querying now most definitely relies on verbal communication.  His nonverbal communication is limited to a no-touchy hunch that conveys “stay away” as clearly as his sarcastic barbs.  He does not gesture much beyond shrugging or (on rare, snarky occasions) pointing (and I bet you can guess which finger he uses).  Like many geeky, intellectual sorts, he’s not very well-versed in body communication, but extremely articulate in the spoken or written word.

How about your characters?  How do they communicate best?  Do you think about it when you write them?  Are there types of communication you tend to ignore?

This post was inspired by my sibling Sen’s post about hands.

Teen-speak Hamlet

June 15th, 2012

So, when Hamlet says, “O, that the Everlasting had not fix’d His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable, seem to me all the uses of this world! Fie on’t! ah fie!“–who the hell knows what he really means?  To most of us it’s Greek.  Therefore, for your reading ease, I’ve reinterpreted the above as: If only the Bible didn’t make suicide a sin! The whole world just sucks so much!  Screw this.

Ah.  Now this I can relate to.  More of Hamlet’s (in)famous angst translated below:

Seems! nay it is; I know not ‘seems.’ ‘Tis not alone my inky cloak, nor customary suits of solemn black, nor windy suspiration of forced breath, no, nor the fruitful river in the eye, nor the dejected ‘haviour of the visage, together with all forms, modes, shapes of grief, that can denote me truly: these indeed seem, for they are actions that a man might play: but I have that within which passeth show; these but the trappings and the suits of woe.

I’m not just acting depressed here.  Yeah I dress like a goth and sigh a lot and cry and make long faces etc—but you know what?  That stuff doesn’t make me depressed.  That’s just the shallow surface.  The stuff inside me goes beyond any show of sadness.  Quit judging me.

O, that this too too solid flesh would melt thaw and resolve itself into a dew! Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d his canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God! God! How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable, seem to me all the uses of this world! Fie on’t! ah fie! ’tis an unweeded garden, that grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature possess it merely. That it should come to this!

I want to melt into a puddle.  I wish the Bible didn’t make suicide a sin.  Oh God!  The whole world just sucks so much!  Screw this.  Life is like a freaking garden all choked up with weeds.  The weeds are everything that sucks.  Why was I born?

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Guest Post: Why today’s YA protagonists seem overly angst-ridden

June 14th, 2012

This is a guest post from Hamlet.

Seem! nay they are; they know not ‘seem.’ ‘Tis not alone their inky cloaks, good readers, nor customary suits of solemn black, nor windy suspiration of forced breath, no, nor the fruitful river in the eyes, nor the dejected ‘haviour of the visages, together with all forms, modes, shapes of grief, that can denote them truly: our youth have that within which passeth show; these but the trappings and the suits of woe.

For myself, I have of late–but wherefore I know not–lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory, this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. Indeed, this be the outlook for many modern youth, even as a mirror to my own.

Ay, readers; there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so: to youth, life is oft a prison.  How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable, seem all the uses of this world to us!  For this reason have our woes been portrayed long ‘afore “YA” was as a genre made.


Illustration by merry-xmas on deviantART.


GBSkye note: I realized when I was thinking about angsty MC’s, and complaining about their prevalence, that teen angst went back looooong before Final Fantasy or YA made it popular.  Obviously most of the above are Shakespeare’s words, not mine.  Also, I must be a huge English nerd to find this sort of thing half as amusing as I do.

Twitter Pitch Aftermath

May 25th, 2012

GB SkyeHello lovelies.  There were so many amazing entries in today’s pitch contest, and to the dedicated writers who got requests–congrats!  Also an enormous thanks to the participating agents (Vickie Motter, John Cusick, Natalie Lakosil, Hannah Bowman and Jennifer Laughran) and to the fabulous organizers!  Now that the pitching frenzy is over, I thought it might be helpful to take a look at the winning pitches:

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Character (re)Design: Merryweather

May 20th, 2012

Since any illustrations are likely to be black and white, I tried shading rather than coloring.

I wanted Merryweather to look both more spiderlike and more fey (fae?).  What do you think?  Detail shot below the fold.

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Legend of Korra

May 16th, 2012

GB SkyeI’m loving Legend of Korra so far: it’s beautifully animated and choreographed, the fight sequences are amazing, the characters are charming and interesting, and the story is gripping and complex.  Korra herself is an interesting protagonist, and the polar opposite of Aang.  What makes Amon and the Equalists such excellent opponents is that her lack of spiritual development, her tendency to charge headlong into things ready for a fight, is exactly the opposite of what is needed to deal with the Equalists’ revolt.

My only real issue with the show, storywise at this point, is that I’d like to see a main character who is a non-bender and (preferably) an Equalist, or someone with Equalist sympathies, to balance out the cast.

Currently nearly all of the main characters are benders, and while this is fun to watch (Chief Beifong’s metalbending last episode was just about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen, ever), it makes the show’s central conflict rather one-sided.  And that’s a shame, because it’s a supremely interesting conflict, and I feel like we’re missing some of the depth and nuance that could be achieved with a more sympathetic, closer view from the nonbenders’ perspectives.  We’re only six episodes into a 26 episode season, so that’s plenty of time to achieve more balance (balance, ironically, being what the avatar needs to bring to the world).  I have enough faith in the series given what we’ve seen so far that I’m hoping for a strong narrative arc addressing this gap.  But for right now–I’d really love to see some more about nonbenders.

And for fun, as long as we’re on the topic of Avatar, a poll!  Feel free to expound on your answer in the comments.

What sort of bender (or nonbender) would you be?

  • Airbender (100%, 1 Votes)
  • Earthbender (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Firebender (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Waterbender (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Nonbender (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Equalist (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 1

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Baseball game forfeited because of girl cooties

May 11th, 2012

So, apparently, facing a girl on a team is reason to forfeit a game.  Because, girl parts and stuff.  And baseball is such a contact sport.  Or, in the words of the forfeiting school in question, “As a Catholic school, we promote the ideal of forming and educating boys and girls separately during the adolescent years, especially in physical education.”

So there you have it.  Cooties remain contagious through high school.

“All I wanted was to be straight…”

May 11th, 2012

“All I wanted was to be straight so my parents could be happy. They never, never, never knew.”

Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are




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Quick and Dirty, Slick and Flirty Book Reviews

May 8th, 2012

In which I shall review, for your reading pleasure, a handful of novels of light reading leisure!  Beginning with MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN!

This novel opens with a terribly ordinary, terribly sad-about-being-ordinary teenage boy whose grandpapa regaled him with tall tales in his toddling years, which tales soon become nightmares as the boy’s grandpapa is murdered.  The book features some rather charming photos, all vintage and creepy, adding to an atmosphere that early on in the novel might terrify a younger reader (I *do* hope so).  Sadly, while our tale begins nightmarishly enough, it soon transforms into, oh… think children X-men set in the remote Welsh countryside. If I had known at the outset that THIS was to be the essential premise, I think I’d have minded less.  But after the promise of a wickedly frightful beginning, the children’s high-powered hijinx offer comparatively less appeal.  Even so, the vivid prose and splendiforous crafting make for an enjoyable tale.  Read the first chapters of the book to your eight and ten year old children and then lie and tell them the remainder of the book is far too frightening to read.  Their imaginations should do the rest.

Our next bit of fictitious whimsy is–well, actually, it’s somewhat less fictitious than most fiction because before writing this book about a boy who spends five days in a mental institution, the author actually spent five days in a mental institution–which probably explains the book’s sense of realism.  (I heartily commend this technique for all aspiring writers, by the by; if I were to write a book about a cannibal in London, I’d get a few murders and a filet homo sapien or two under my belt before putting pen to page…).   Actually, the book’s portrayal of depression was so accurate I got depressed myself!  Our pubescent protagonist very nearly throws himself off a bridge, then checks himself into the mental ward of the nearest hospital, which turns out to be full of a plucky panorama of just the sorts of zany characters you’d expect in a children’s book version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  The end, alas, is dreadfully “inspiring,” which is my natural antithesis as a villain, and therefore I can’t support it.  The final few pages actually gave me a seizure.  Which means anyone with a shred of decency will adore it.

In this novel, dear reader, another teenage boy tries to kill himself and fails!  Honestly, you lot have NO idea what you’re doing, do you?  Pardon my critiques, but speaking as a cannibalistic sociopath–it’s down the river, not across the road! *Ahem* Anyway, once our youthful narrator fails at his final farewell, he finds himself temporarily trapped at an institution with a somber shrink (whom he snidely names “Cat Poop”) who refuses to let him go until he plays the part of a good patient (have a good cry, let it all out, it gets better…).  Well!  Jeff is having none of that.  Our pugnacious protagonist tells off Cat Poop, flouts the rules, gets sexed up by the not-gay jock, and–you know what?  Just read it.  Indeed, it’s ye olde teen angst tale of WOE–but it is also, my dears, FABULOUSLY funny.  The best thing you will read all year.  Not reading it is like not eating a scrumptious raspberry red velvet cake that is right in front of you, simply because you are on an I-don’t-read-contemporary-teenage-novels diet.  And that would be stupid. Because that cake is spectacularly delicious, better than that pre-packaged and artificially-flavored television serials whose unrealistically proportioned main characters make you jealous.  So now darling, put away whatever else you are doing and do have a go at this book.