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Showing posts from April, 2013

Query Critique Giveaway!

Enter now to win a free query critique from me!  I promise to nitpick with encouragement.

When I was working on my own query, I showed it to anyone who would look: my critique group, my husband, my family, random strangers who seemed interested, the postman, etc.  (Okay, so maybe not the postman, but yes to anyone who seemed interested.)  I was also fortunate enough to win a blog contest and receive a critique by Natalie Whipple, author of Transparent.

Ultimately, all of it helped me land my agent, Katelyn Detweiler at Jill Grinberg Literary

I'd love to pass on the pearls I learned to you.  I also have some general query writing advice posted here.  Good luck and happy querying!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Strong Heroines: Proactive, Not Reactive

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For me, Katniss Everdeen is a hit-and-miss character. I loved her in The Hunger Games, but I liked her less and less as the series progressed. Why? It's simple: she went from a proactive character to a reactive character. Let's explore the difference.
In The Hunger Games, Katniss is established as a proactive character from the beginning. When her father dies, Katniss's mom is so overcome with grief that she can not provide for the family. So Katniss takes it upon herself to do so. She learns to hunt, she learns how to make a living for the family, and she even takes over as a mother-figure to her younger sister.
You might argue that she is only reacting to her father's death, but the difference between Katniss and her mom is clear. The mother only reacts, but for Katniss the tragic event is a stepping stone to becoming an expert huntsman and survivor.
Similarly, when her younger sister Primrose is picked for the Hunger Games, Katniss takes matters into her ow…

Strong Heroines: A Romantic Side

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A strong heroine doesn't have to be tough-as-nails down to the core. She can have a romantic side. One of my favorite kick-butt female protagonists is Rose Hathaway of Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series. Rose is very urban-fantasy tough; she knows how to take down evil paranormal creatures.

Yet, her romance with Dimitri is so compelling and heart-wrenching. Typically, a girl who follows her boyfriend across continents and is still hung up on him after he tells her doesn't love her might seem kind of lame. But with Rose, you totally get her reasons and you know that she's right. She ends up saving Dimitri from a fate worse than death and she does a lot of crazy stuff to accomplish it. Even when the rational advice would be Get over him, chica.
Not that Dimitri is some boring guy. He's a strong, silent type, the kind of lone wolf you know you don't want to cross—which brings me to another point. Do strong heroines need an alpha male to keep thing…

Strong Heroines: Room to Grow

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Another one of my favorite strong heroines is Tally Youngblood of Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series. Some might not consider her a candidate for a strong heroine because she starts off so very normal and clueless. She desperately wants to be “Pretty” and she doesn't really question the system.
In fact, her best friend Shay drives a lot of the change in Tally. It is Shay who shows Tally how to sneak out of the city, who first questions the ethics of the operation that makes everyone look perfect. Shay starts off as a very strong and self-aware character, while Tally is still caught up in petty concerns.
I can see why Tally is the main character, however. She has room to grow. She transforms from normal teenager to crazy bad-ass by the end of the series. On the other hand, Shay starts off so strong that the only interesting thing to do is have her succumb to her flaws, which she does beautifully.
Tally's shallowness at the beginning might lead some to never finish the…

Strong Heroines: Girls Can Do Anything Boys Can Do

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Feminism is a tough thing these days. Feminists are pretty harsh about each other's decisions regarding working, child rearing, taking their husband's last name, etc. We disagree on whether high-powered execs such as Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg can be considered role models when they have access to so many more financial resources than the average woman.
In YA lit, there's also plenty of disagreement. One person's heroine might seem like a wimp to another. So what makes a character a strong female? What makes them weak? How much butt does a girl have to kick to be strong, if any? What is over the line in a romantic relationship? And can we please discuss without the Twilight comparisons?
For me, a feminist is simply someone who believes that girls can do anything that boys can do, and often better. Not necessarily on average, but as individuals certainly. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. A female bodybuilder can easily beat up a skinny nerd w…