Sunday, 23 September 2012

Juicy Shockers #5

And we are back with another edition of Juicy Shockers. Yes, I know its delayed but atleast it’s here. I have had a busy week at work and what was supposed to go up on Wednesday is going up now. 

Anyways, today we have the magical Marcy Kate with us, who is a very helpful moderator over at the land of authors- AQConnect. She is represented by the delightful Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary & Media. Her current novel Monstrous  is a YA Fantasy, which is described as Frankenstein meets the Brothers Grimm. And we thought we were awesome!
© Cheryl Colombo 2012.

You can follow her on twitter @marcykate. She is also on Goodreads and has her very own super-informative and swanky website.

Now on to the questions! As usual Pineapple is Brighton and Lightning is Utsav and Magical MK is well...Magical MK.

Pineapple: Writer, composer, and arts administrator are a lot of things and incredibly complex. What’s your goal in life? We can totally understand if you say ruling the world.

Magical MK: My goals have shifted a lot over the years, but one thing has always remained the same: I need to be involved in creative stuff in some way, shape, or form. When I write books or music, I get to be the creator. When I work my day job (essentially, part of the admin team that gets performing arts on the stage), I’m part of a team facilitating someone else’s art. Both have their unique rewards and challenges.
I don’t really have a specific goal in life, mostly because life is a moving target and constant journey. You never really know where you’ll end up.  As long as I’m able to do my creative thing and still eat, I’m a happy camper. That said, I do have short-term goals, one of which (not surprisingly) involves getting to a point in my writing career where I can at least write part-time, not just on nights, weekends, and the train.

Lightning: It seems music composition is as much of a passion as authoring? How do you mix them? Are any of your novels about music/musicians?

Magical MK: It is! Though I must confess the composing has taken a backseat since I started writing seriously. For one, most of my music involves words in some way and I already wrote an opera in college. Transitioning to novels was only natural. And two, I’m much better at novel-writing than I am at composing music. Still love it, but I have  a better chance of making a career of writing. I’m completely fine with that :)
In my first novel (which someday I will rewrite entirely...) the main character is a siren whose magic is in her voice. Loved writing about the music and the magic in that one.

Pineapple: Do you gather playlists for each novel or do you compose songs for them personally or both?

Magical MK: I make playlists that capture the mood and tone for me and take me back into that storyworld. I’ve never actually written music for my own books before. Hmmmm.....

Lightning: The idea of writing a novel from the perspective of a monster is unique. What inspired Monstrous?

Magical MK: I wish I had an exciting answer for this, but the inspiration struck me while sitting in stand-still rush hour traffic.  My mind was wandering and the first line just appeared in my brain and I had to write down the first couple paragraphs of the book on my iPhone (they actually haven’t changed much since). The line was “I will never forget my first breath,” and for the rest of the night I couldn’t stop thinking about who would say that and why and what her story was.  Which made me a rather poor companion on the girls night out I was heading to at the time!

Pineapple: So many finished novels. Which one is your favourite (yeah, we ask hard questions) and will you return to the other novels after Monstrous?

Magical MK: Oh dear, that is a hard one. MONSTROUS has got to be my favorite. The MC totally charmed me when I was writing her story – hopefully everyone else will get to read about her too!
My next favorite is CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE CYBORG. So fun to write and it got a lot of interest, but sadly didn’t garner representation. I’m hopeful I can eventually go back and figure out how to take it from “good and fun” to “awesome and publishable”.  That and my first novel, which would require wholesale rewriting from scratch, are the ones I’ll most likely revisit.

Lightning: You are the master of contests. Anything special you do for contests which is different from querying?

Magical MK: I prefer the term “Queen of Contests” and it really depends on the contest itself. Some are judged on the query and first page, others on a short pitch.  The hard part was always preparing the right format/length of pitch to fit the contest!

Pineapple: Give us a fun fact about your agent. An evil one would do as well.

Magical MK: Well, she’s awesome and a dog person. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. She also missed her train stop when she started reading MONSTROUS the night she requested it. (Hopefully she doesn’t mind me sharing that too much! It certainly made my day :) )

Lightning: Our usual number 8. Who would you cast as the main characters in the cinematic adaption of your novel?

Magical MK: Um, this one is hard. I could see Kym being played by a younger Summer Glau or perhaps a younger, bad-assed Zooey Deschanel. Other than that, I’ve never really thought about it.

Pineapple: ‘Keep at it’ is definitely a message you embody for authoring. Any others?

Magical MK:  “Don’t do drugs,” “Crack kills”? Or perhaps just “Don’t give up and don’t take rejections personally.” You’re going to hear “No” far more than “Yes” and that can get difficult real fast. The worst thing (in my opinion) you can do for both your mindset and your career is to take them personally or too much to heart. Grieve a little for the rejections (and by little, I mean a day, two at most), then move onward and upward.  No, it’s not easy to do, but if you don’t, all that wallowing and negativity can bury your desire to write. And that would be a shame.

So, that concludes another edition of Juicy Shockers. Hopefully, we will be able to return to our normal schedule soon.

Signing off,
Pineapple and Lightning.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Foreverafter Pitch Contest Winners

Hello people,

Apologies to keep you waiting. But the wait is finally over and we have our results. The contest was mind-numbingly awesome to host and the entries were super fantastic.

But before we move to to the contest results, I have the pleasure of introducing Caterina Torres who so kindly assisted Terri in sorting through the entries and making it easier for her. She is an awesome sport who is nuts about the undead. Here is her unique take on zombies - the Zombie Whisperer. Do read it - its worth every second you spend reading it!

We also put a cute small photo of her, so you can recognise the pretty face if you bump into her.

So with Cat's help, the awesome Terri Bruce picked her top 10, which were then sent over to the overlordess (yes, we invented that and copyrighted it) and master judge, Erin Lale - Acquisitions Editor of Eternal Press.

Before we reveal the winners, we have a huge surprise for you. Terri and Erin provided us their thoughts on all the top 10 pitches and we are allowed to share it with you! So, here goes and hope the comments help strengthen  your pitches even more.

1. Name: Cheryl Koevoet -
Genre: New Adult Speculative Romance
Word Count: 86,000

Marisa MacCallum always believed she’d find her soul mate out there somewhere. The problem is, he’s in a parallel universe.

Terri’s Vote: Yes
Terri’s Comment: AWESOME! No other word for it. I want this book!
Erin's Comment: Yes. Original, intriguing, and well stated. I would definitely read this for publication.

2. Name: Nick Wilford -
Genre: Adult psychological thriller
Word Count: 75,000

Can Helen keep her sanity when she runs over a stranger, wipes his memory, and claims him as her husband?

Terri’s Vote: Yes
Terri’s Comment: “keep her sanity” seems a little overblown and confusing (why is her sanity challenged by her actions?), but despite that, the rest of it is AWESOME! Another book I would totally grab off the shelf!
Erin's Comment: What? Isn't it HIS sanity that's threatened by having his memory erased and having some strange woman claim him as his wife? The erased memory / new wife thing has been done and done. The new remake of Total Recall is in theaters right now. It's even been spoofed on an episode of Monk. Over-used tropes can be made fresh by an outstanding author (like, say, Philip K. Dick), but since the pitch sentence was confusing, I'm not putting this is Phillip K. Dick territory. Sorry, pass.

3. Name: Kendra Conine -
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 90,000

Young Ashley Vaandere has more pressing issues than most...such as embracing her newfound control over fire to redeem humankind.

Terri’s Vote: Yes
Terri’s Comment: the last three words are confusing—I’m not sure how humankind needs to be redeemed or how Ashley learning to control fire helps with that—but despite that…ABILITY TO CONTROL FIRE!!! Fire Starter is one of my favorite movies and if I had a super power, I think I’d want it to be FIRE! So…awesome!

Erin's Comment: Yes. Although I found the "to redeem humankind" part a bit of a non sequitur, I can easily imagine that someone with this power would find themselves drawn into larger or older battles after being brought to the notice of others. Controlling fire is a cool power, and although it isn't really original, books aimed at the YA audience don't have to be as original as other books because it's new to them. Also, learning to control a startling new power for which one is unprepared is a very appropriate theme for YA, as it parallels the coming of age issues of every teen, fire in this case standing in for the sexual awakening of puberty and learning to control fire symbolizing the maturity to control one's sexuality, a universal theme of immediate interest to the YA reader. I would definitely read this one for publication.

4. Sarah J Schmitt -
The Acada Chronicles
YA Thriller
89,000 words

16-year-old Emily survives a global outbreak only to become part of a government cover-up of bio terrorism and genetic manipulation.

Terri’s Vote: Yes
Terri’s Comments: I love a good conspiracy story!

Erin's Comments: Yes. Although it has similarities to some other books, it sounds like the elements have been remixed in a new way. I'm not really clear on what Emily's role is, but then pitches are very short so not everything can be packed in. I would read this for publication.

5. Name: Katherine Amabel -
Title: The Hourglass Bridge
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 95, 000

Hauled into medieval Wales, a teenage history-buff must embrace her bloodline’s destructive powers to stop a war she potentially started.

Terri’s Vote: (a reserved) Yes
Terri’s Comment: The pitch is really good, though the story sounds a bit “and the kitchen sink” (I would have been happy without the magical powers). Personally, I would LOVE this if it was humorous/light hearted, but it sounds more on the serious/epic side of the genre. Just a note – this doesn’t sound like Urban Fantasy (?) – UF is set in a city, using involving a paranormal element, and usually in a contemporary setting.

Erin's Comment: Yes. I like the idea and I also like the way the sentence is written. This is not urban fantasy, though. Depending on how the time travel happens, it's either fantasy if it's a black box or done with magic, or science fiction if there is a reasonable explanation. This is basically the same type of story as A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court, which would probably have been published as fantasy if such genre distinctions had existed back then. I think you are confusing "urban fantasy" with "paranormal" which is easy to do since the publishing industry itself has confused the terms and allowed the one to morph into the other over time. "Paranormal" I will grant you, for the use of magic. Paranormal Science Fiction isn't actually a genre, though-- that's called fantasy. I have a particular love of time travel stories (as you could probably tell, since I was already publishing the Time Yarns Universe before I became Acquisitions Editor at Eternal Press and Damnation Books) and so I've seen lots of lots of time travel stories. This one doesn't sound exactly like any of the others, though. I would read this for publication.

6. Name: Danielle E. Shipley -
Title: "The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale"
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 60,000

Robin Hood’s band is enjoying eternal life in a modern-day Renaissance Faire, little knowing eternity may not last much longer...

Terri’s Vote: (a reserved) Yes
Terri’s Comment: This story sounds like it has the potential to be really awesome, but the pitch is a little vague – why/how is Robin Hood’s immortal existence imperiled? I ‘d like a better sense of the danger/threat. I’m also unsure how this plays out as a YA book – sounds like it should be intended for
adults (since Robin Hood and his men are adults) (BTW, it would be awesome if it was for adults! I love Robin Hood!). Also, this is another one where I question that it’s Urban Fantasy – if it’s set at a Ren Faire, then that usually isn’t in a city; sounds more like contemporary fantasy or just fantasy (?).
Erin's Comment: Maybe. Although I read a Robin Hood book over and over when I was in 5th grade myself (the one written in Middle English, but that's just me-- that's the sort of person who grows up to read books for a living) I too am wondering why this is aimed at YA. Renfaire might have a few kid-friendly shows, but it's an adult playground full of more sex and booze than a Las Vegas casino. Rennies supervise their kids very carefully at faire, even when they're old enough to be presumed safe around lots of sharp pointy objects. I would go ahead and read it, because Robin Hood is just so cool, but I'd be reading it with an eye to reclassifying if it I decided to publish it, depending on how it reads. In addition to wanting to know more about the threat to their eternity, I'd also like to know how they became eternal in the first place -- is it a case of American Gods, human men rising to have eternal life because so many people believe in them? If so, is Batman going to be in here too? (Not really, of course, since that's a copyrighted character, but you get the idea. If one group of people passes into the collective unconscious and becomes a group of demigods, others should too.) I would read this, but it would have to satisfy my questions in addition to just being a good book before I would publish it.

7. Name: T.J. Loveless -
Title: Burning Bridges
Genre: Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Word Count: 85,000

Pitch: Aurora is handpicked to save mythical creatures on parallel worlds, while fighting the gods for her daughters, the powerful Valkyrie.

Terri’s Vote: (a reserved) Yes
Terri’s Comment: This one was a toughie—the first part is great and I would have said yes based just on the first half, but then it got very confusing. Are the Valkyrie the gods she’s fighting or are they Aurora’s daughters? And why is she fighting the gods on her daughters’ behalf? I didn’t understand how the first half and the second half of the plot fit together, but the first half is intriguing enough I’d want to read a bit of the story to see what it was about.

Erin's Comments: Maybe. I'm with Terri on this one. First half, great, sounds intriguing. Second half, huh? If her daughters are Valkyries, then she was already something special before being "handpicked." And picked by whom? The only beings with authority over the Valkyries are Odin and Freya, who are gods, so which gods is she fighting? That part doesn't really make sense. I would give this a chance and start reading it, but if the mythology was too mixed up and was not making any sense, I'd stop. This book would have to have a well developed, easy to understand reason behind the mythological elements for me to publish it.

8. Name: Vicki Lemp Weavil -
Title: The Light from Other Suns
Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Word Count: 99,000

Artist Karen Foster draws while dreaming. Scientists believe she's a valuable commodity. Aliens know she's their perfect messenger

Terri: (a reserved) Yes
Terri’s Comment: This was another toughie—I love Sci Fi involving aliens, especially first contact, but this pitch was a little generic and didn’t really grab me. Why do the scientists think an ARTIST is a valuable commodity (is it because of the sleep drawing ability (which doesn’t seem like it would be all that interesting to scientists) or what she’s drawing? What does “messenger” mean here—do the aliens think she’s a prophet or do they want her to deliver a message for them (and how do they find her of all the millions of people on the planet?!).

Erin's Comment: Maybe. I only understand the connect between the drawing, scientists, and aliens because I'm already familiar with the concept of automatic writing and know that some psychics claim to be channels for aliens and that in history some scientists explored psychic phenomena, particularly Soviet and American intelligence agencies during the Cold War, because they were just that desperate to one-up each other. However, the connection between these things is not spelled out very well in the pitch. I would give this a chance and start reading it, but if it seemed either stereotyped with over-used tropes or if the book was just as confusing as the pitch, I would stop. This book would have to be exceptionally well-written for me to publish it.

9. Name: Annie Yuan -
Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 90,000

A girl discovers her imagination can come to life…including her worst nightmare.

Terri’s Vote: (a reserved) Yes
Terri’s Comment: This one was right on the line—it’s competently written and sounds like it might be an interesting story, but didn’t grab me. It feels kind of vague and generic; I think the author could give a better sense of the danger, the stakes, and make this reach out and grab the audience.

Erin's Comment: No. Without more specific details, it sounds exactly like the plot of The Indian In the Cupboard. I'm hearing the Buzz Lightyear toy in my head. The pitch itself is well-written, but it just sounds like a thousand other stories. Make it specific to show me your originality.

10. Sarah J Schmitt -
The Partizans
YA Paranormal
79,000 words

Becoming a witch isn’t what 16-year-old Hannah had in mind when she enrolled at the prestigious Piaculum Academy.

Terri’s Vote: (a reserved) Yes
Terri’s Comment: This is a good pitch, and the story sounds interesting. I’d probably pick it up, but my concern is that there are already so many stories about kids going to magical/paranormal schools on the market.

Erin's Comment: No. Not another witch/ wizard school. Please g*d, not another witch/ wizard school. As with any other over-used trope, truly astonishing writing can save it. But I'm not seeing truly astonishing here, just competent. OK, so she's a witch, then what? This might be a good opening line for a 5-line pitch, but by itself it's not enough. I'd like to hear something about the plot before saying yes to this pitch.

For the ones beyond the above 10 who garnered no's, we do have comments for you which we will be emailing individually, so it's not a total loss for you. Let no one say they went empty handed from Pineapple Lightning Foreverafter!


Wait, what, there isn't one...Of course not! There are TWO!

Congratulations to Cheryl Koevoet for The Carnelian Legacy and Kendra Conine for Flame Dancer. You guys just won a copy of Terri Bruce's awesome book- HEREAFTER! Email her at tbruce(at)terribruce(dot)net.

Wait, something's buzzing in my ear. No way! THIS JUST IN. The winners also get...wait for submit their full manuscripts to Erin Lale. Details of how to submit to Erin have already been mailed to the lucky twosome. So, jump in joy and rejoice.

It was incredible fun hosting this contest and although, we didn't do much, Cat, Terri and Erin took it to a stupendous level. Our heartfelt thanks to all the judges for the time and effort they put in and we are also grateful to everybody who participated. 

We hope to host more contests soon and hopefully, we'll have more good news to dole out.

Also don't forget, today is the last day for Terri's blog tour and there is still one amazing event left.

Twitter bird

Friday, September 14th
Twitter chat at 8 pm EDT with...Terri! :-) Tess Watson of My Pathway to Books and Faye Rogers of A Daydreamer's Thoughts will be your hosts. Should be a lot of fun. #hereaftertour

Don't miss it!

Signing off,
The Boys of Summer

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Foreverafter Pitch Contest

AAAAAAAAND.... we are live. This Contest is now closed.

The Pitch Contest is open and will stay open till 11:59 p.m. today! So get your pitches shiny and slick and let us have it!

Good luck to all who enter.

Also don't forget to follow Teri Bruce's Hereafter Blog Tour. It Rocks!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Weekly Drudgery and A Contest

Well, Brighton's down with a bit of fever and his hectic shooting schedule. Or its his way of claiming a sick leave. I'm sure Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg have done the same, so our boy is following good footsteps.

Ok, so a lot of contests are going around and I mentioned a few last week. But now we have a contest to host of our own!

Yes, Pineapple Lightning is hosting its first contest and hopefully the first of many. What are we calling it? The Foreverafter Pitch  Contest!

Just to clarify, we are not claiming any copyright over the above poster, though we honestly claim to have manufactured it ourselves (or atleast a part of it anyway).

So, what is this madness you ask?

Why it is a 20 word Pitch Contest! Send us your twenty word pitch for your manuscript and if you make the top ten finalists you will be judged by the crazily awesome Erin Lale- the acquisitions editor of Eternal Press!

And wait, that's not all! You get to win a copy of Hereafter by the cracking, smashing and altogether lovely Terri Bruce. Here's a gorgeous cover picture for your thoughts.

Who doesn't want a copy of that?

So how do we enter, you ask? Very simple. The contest opens on September 11, 2012 at 12 a.m. EDT and stays open till 11:59 p.m. EDT the same day, which means you have a full day to get your entries in.

Mail us your entries at (Yes, we know, some jerk took pineapplelightning before we did.) Please make sure you enter within the times specified. All entries before or after the times mentioned will be sadly deleted.

The format for your entry is simple. Put "Foreverafter: Your Manuscript Title" as the subject line.
In the body, put your name, MS title, Genre and wordcount followed by your 20 words. (20 words as per MS-word counter). All genres are welcome!

Name: Utsav Mukherjee
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Word Count: 70,000

Jimmy Ranfaz is heralded as the saviour of Ulfitron. But there is one problem: he’s the villain reincarnated.

The entries received will be judged first up by Terri (and depending on the number of entries, we might hire some other expert help). The top 10 will be picked and posted on the blog on September 12 or 13 (again depending on the number of entries we receive), whereafter Erin will go over the finalist and pick her winner(s) [yes, there may be more than one], which will be announced on September 14.

So, what are you guys waiting for? Prep those pitches and get ready to rock now and Foreverafter.

Disclaimer: Stories of ogres and donkeys will not be given any specific preference. The depiction of the creatures in the poster is happenstance and purely coincidental.