Family Collage

Family Collage
Lots of Love in this Bunch!
*The compositions herein are not to be copied, reproduced, printed, published, posted, displayed, incorporated, stored in or scanned into a retrieval system or database, transmitted, broadcast, bartered or sold, in whole or in part without the prior express written permissions of the sole author Tory Williams. Unauthorized duplication is strictly prohibited and is an infringement of National and International Copyright Laws.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fantasy vs. Realistic Fiction!

During the baby stages of Book #1, I visited countless bookstores and researched extensively online to learn that fantasy, paranormal, and futuristic novels are extremely popular genres amongst young adult readers. It was a no-brainer, I thought, to follow suit of these trendy styles and create an intriguing story that would capture the minds of high school students. But the more I tried to incorporate these elements (vampires, werewolves, fairies and hocus pocus) into my outline, the faster my story fell apart. I quickly became overwhelmed and even contemplated throwing in the towel.

After several hours of brainstorming, I thought of stories I enjoyed as a teenager: S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, Lois Lowry's Number the Stars, and Louisa May Alcott's Little Women , none of which had hocus pocus elements and eventually became bestsellers. These stories had one thing in common: they dealt with realistic issues that grabbed the reader's attention on the very first page.

It didn't take long for me to realize, however, if I was going to pour my heart and soul into writing a novel, then I needed to include elements that resonated with today's youth. Therefore, it seemed only natural to gear my project around the stories I enjoyed reading as a teenager: multilayered, realistic fiction.

So, when opportunity knocked, I was in the final weeks of a long-term maternity leave position at a school in Gilbertown, AL and knew there were no teaching units available for the remainder of the school year. I decided this was the perfect chance to get Book #1 in the best shape possible and begin querying agents. In other words, I didn't just quit my day job to pursue a career in writing. Unfortunately, it chose me!

You see, instead of allowing my circumstances to get me down, I remained persistent and took advantage of every spare minute of my day (usually during the children's naps and late at night) to finish Graduate School and seek representation for my first novel.

In the weeks, months, maybe years to come, I'm hopeful that young readers, librarians, teachers and YOU will have the opportunity to fall in love with my multilayered, realistic novel as much as I have. For all the support and encouragement you've given thus far, I appreciate it greatly and hope you continue to follow along as I write about this exciting journey in my life!

Have a wonderful Thursday, everyone! Tory

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Are You A Giver or Taker?

The subject for today's post might make a few of us squirm in our seats, and if it does, then we've most likely answered the question for this powerful principle: Are You A Giver or A Taker?

Some of you might wonder what spawned this topic, so let me dig deeper and explain.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak with the kindest writer, Shari Maurer ( She is the author of Change of Heart, a YA novel scheduled to hit the bookstores in May 2010. *Please read more about Shari and her book at the end of this post!

I stumbled across Shari's blog at and commented on her "Look What I've Got..." post. Within a few hours, I received a message stating that she would be delighted to answer some of my "newbie" questions.

Since then, nearly two weeks ago, Shari has been gracious enough (I'm sure her time is now limited with Change of Heart raring to hit the bookstore shelves) to answer my questions regarding the publishing industry (including: the query process in general; time management as a mother/writer; what to expect with editing, etc...). But most importantly, Shari has been a GIVER of information, and that is what inspired me for today's post.

You see, in our daily relationships, whether it's between parent and child, best friends, coworkers or spouses, the manner in which we exchange our time with one another is something a lot of us never consider.

How do you categorize yourself? Do you emerge more as a giver - someone who naturally goes above and beyond, like Shari Maurer, to help and support those in need? Or are you more of a taker - someone who expects others to give relentlessly, whether it's through praise, recognition, superiority, monetarily, etc...?

If we know it's unhealthy (both spiritually and mentally) to behave so vainly and full of arrogance, then why do we continue to take, take, take from one another? Is it simply because we are human, and after all, no one is perfect?

Hmmm...does this question make you squirm a little in your seat?

Well, if anything, I hope I've given some of you (including myself) something to ponder over for the next few days.

My goal is to be more like Shari, a GIVER of knowledge, support, and a person of genuine kindness! Have a great Tuesday, everyone! Tory

More about Shari:

Shari Maurer lives in New City, New York, where she grew up. This serves as a constant reminder of her teen years and enables her to write using very fresh memories. She went to undergrad at Duke University and grad school at NYU, studying English and Dramatic Writing and yelling loud at basketball games. For six years, Shari was at the Children’s Television Workshop, working on international productions of Sesame Street and other kids’ shows. She married Mat, the boy she met at 17 (another source of fresh memories) and they have three children, Lissie, Josh and Eric. Mat is now a cardiologist, which came in very handy when she was writing CHANGE OF HEART, her YA novel to be published by WestSide Books in Spring 2010.

About her book:
CHANGE OF HEART: When you’re 16 years old, it never occurs to you that you might die. Emmi Miller’s got a fabulous life. She has tons of friends, does great in school and is an all-star soccer player who played in Europe last summer. It even looks like Sam Hunter, a totally cute baseball player, might be interested in her. And then she got a virus. No biggy, right? Until the virus goes to her heart and weakens it so much that without a transplant, Emmi will die.

Will Emmi get a heart in time? Is Sam too good to be true? What about her new friend Abe, who has also had a transplant and guides her through these scary times? Is he just being supportive or is there more going on between them? And will Emmi realize it before it’s too late? (

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Daughter's A Blogger Now!

Thanks to Australian native, Charmaine Clancy (view her blog @ and her adorable children - Tilly and Milly, my oldest daughter is now a blogger.

Catie, age 9, was in complete awe of the Clancy sister's blog (view it @, that she has decided to follow suit of Tilly and Milly and create her own book review site.

I must admit, I immediately thought it would be another something for me to keep up with. But after seeing Catie's interest in Paperdolls (it could be worse, I thought to myself), I couldn't resist.

She's committed to doing her own research, posting often, and getting my approval before making any changes or adding new friends to Rainbow Reviews (thought the grandparents and overprotective family members would appreciate this).

So, to all of you reading this post, I encourage you to check out Catie's blog @

She will be ecstatic to see that someone (other than her mom, of course) has taken interest in her book reviews.

Thanks, everyone, and have a wonderful Sunday! Tory

Friday, April 23, 2010

It's Perfectly Fine to Dream BIG!

Roxy @ sent me this award on Monday, and I wanted to pass it along to some of the special followers who have contributed to my posts. Thank you for showing such support to Head in the Clouds!:)

1.) Jess Ross @
2.) Nicole Ducleroir @
3.) Lindsay Currie @

And Nicole @ sent this beautiful butterfly to me on Wednesday. Thank you, Nicole! I'm sharing it with:

1.) Roxy @
2.) Carolina Valdez Miller @
3.) Alleged Author @

Now for today's post!

If you could imagine the perfect day, what would it be? Would you be sailing on a forty-foot yacht out in the Pacific, eating caviar as the slosh of the waves dampen your feet. Or perhaps your idea of a perfect day would be high in the mountains of Tennessee, traveling with your friends to a relaxing cabin for a weekend retreat.

While we need to remain grounded and focused on the reality of our life, I believe it is equally important (if not more) to allow our minds to dream of the impossible.

As an aspiring writer, this is something I've enjoyed the most when working on a project. The thrill of creating dynamic characters (some with admirable traits, and some characters that are down-right despicable) is what motivates me to put the pen to paper and lose sense of all time.

The point I'm trying to make is that when there are no limits, anything is possible. And this (along with my children's college tuition in mind) is why I've crawled out of the bed at 11:00 P.M. to finish a chapter, or risen at 6:00 A.M. to begin a new one.

My question for you: How would you be living your dream if there were no limits? Think about your dreams for a minute (write them down if necessary) and make an effort this weekend to move yourself in that direction.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Tory

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Meeting Gilbert Morris!

So today, I (along with 18 ladies and gents from Millry Baptist Church) traveled South to Foley, Alabama to meet the famous Christian writer Gilbert Morris. It was a thrilling experience because I was aware the 83-year-old author had written and published over 100 books, including the House of Winslow series.

It isn't only that I admire Mr. Morris as an accomplished writer, though of course I do, but I admire him even more because he has spent the majority of his life preaching God's word.

The highlight of our lunch meeting came when several ladies from our group encouraged little-old-me to engage Mr. Morris in conversation about his success in the publishing industry.

At this point, my throat tightened and my upper lip began to quiver. But instead of letting my fellow church goers down, I took a deep breath, smiled confidently, and pranced my five-foot, eleven-inch body down to Mr. Morris' end of the table. Given that I felt a dozen eyes staring at my back, I swallowed hard and bravely asked Mr. Morris for a minute of his time (I can assure you that I'd already planned an exit strategy just in case he became aggravated by my presence!).

Thankfully, Mr. Morris' face matched my enthusiastic expression. He held out his hand and offered a spot next to him at the end of the table. And for the next fifteen minutes, I listened attentively - hoping my forgetful mind would kick in overdrive and soak up every ounce of his words.

On the drive back to Millry, I thought of the experience and realized that I had been in the company of one extraordinary man!

Good nite, everyone! Tory

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Humpday Reads!

I am so excited about the books chosen for this week's "Humpday Reads!" Some are new to the bookstores and some have been around for a year or two. But with no time to waste (you know, kids to chase, laundry to fold, and lunch to prepare) let me jump straight to the list.

1.) Candor by Pam Bachorz (In the model community of Candor, Florida, every teen wants to be like Oscar Banks. The son of the town's founder, Oscar earns straight As, is student-body president, and is in demand for every club and cause.
But Oscar has a secret. He knows that parents bring their teens to Candor to make them respectful, compliant–perfect–through subliminal Messages that carefully correct and control their behavior. And Oscar' s built a business sabotaging his father's scheme with Messages of his own, getting his clients out before they're turned. After all, who would ever suspect the perfect Oscar Banks?
Then he meets Nia, the girl he can't stand to see changed. Saving Nia means losing her forever. Keeping her in Candor, Oscar risks exposure . . . and more.

2.) Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick (Despite the differences between the experiences of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and those in previous conflicts, one thing remains constant: the young — on all sides — endure a disproportionate share of the fighting and suffering. Patricia McCormick’s novel “Purple Heart” promises to tell that story by plunging her readers into the struggle of one 18-year-old American soldier as he wobbles under the weight of his experience.

3.) As If Being 12 3/4 Isn't Bad Enough, My Mom Is Running for President by Donna Gephart (As if being 12 3/4 isn’t bad enough, Vanessa Rothrock’s mother is running for president and it’s ruining her life. Isn’t it enough that her enormous feet trip her up all the time, even on stage during the school spelling bee? Isn’t it enough that Reginald Trumball, love of Vanessa’s pathetic life, read her personal and private list of deficiencies to some boy she doesn’t even know? And that the Boob Fairy hasn’t visited her even once?! Doesn’t Mom realize that Vanessa needs her more than the rest of the country? More importantly, doesn’t she realize that she may be in grave danger? Vanessa's receiving threatening notes at school–notes that imply some psycho has it out for her mother at the Democratic National Convention. Vanessa might be the only person who can save her. But does she have the courage to do what that requires?

4.) How to Survive Middle School by Donna Gephart ("Oy, but David Greenberg has troubles: he is still missing his mother two years after she moved to another state; his longtime best friend, Elliott, has been behaving like a schmuck since hitting puberty; and even before the first day at Harmon (aka “Hormone”) Middle School, he has become a feared bully’s victim of choice. On the other hand, though his father is distant, his live-in grandmother is a reliable provider of food and support; his teenage sister Lindsey is always good for a quick hug; and he has really hit it off with new classmate Sophia—a smart, peppermint-scented, and refreshingly unselfconscious ex-homeschooler. Best of all (maybe), the Daily Show–style videos he has been posting on YouTube have gone viral, and suddenly he is a local celebrity. Readers will understand how good David really has it long before he does, and—despite a late, clumsily handled revelation that his mom won’t be coming home because she is too agoraphobic to travel—Gephart crafts for her likable protagonist an engaging, feel-good transition into adolescence that’s well stocked with tears and laughter." Grades 5-8. --John Peters

5.) The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnall (This book has yet to hit the bookstores, so make a mental note to look for it around April 27, 2010. Before Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw was a small-town girl who knew she wanted more. She's ready for real life to start, but first she must navigate her senior year of high school. Up until now, Carrie and her friends have been inseparable. Then Sebastian Kydd comes into the picture, and a friend's betrayal makes her question everything. With an unforgettable cast of characters, The Carrie Diaries is the story of how a regular girl learns to think for herself and evolves into a sharp, insightful writer. Readers will learn about her family background, how she found her writing voice, and the indelible impression her early friendships and relationships left on her. Through adventures both audacious and poignant, we'll see what brings Carrie to her beloved New York City, where her new life begins.

*Once again, I hope you find something from this week's Humpday Reads to suit your fancy. Don't forget to stop by your local bookstore or library on your way home from work or school today. There is nothing better than treating yourself to a great read! Have a wonderful Humpday, everyone! Tory

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Date to Remember!

Hopefully, if "Mommy Duties" do not interfere, I will be attending the 13th Annual Alabama Writers Symposium the last weekend in April. This year is such a remarkable year to attend! Why? Because if any of you are familiar with To Kill A Mockingbird, then you are aware that Harper Lee is celebrating the 50th anniversary since debuting her prestigious, award-winning novel.

I thought the following information might be of interest to some of you:

Alabama Writers Symposium
April 29 - May 1, 2010
Monroeville, Alabama

The 13th Annual Alabama Writers Symposium, Literature on Location - the Muse of Place, gathers a fascinating slate of writers, poets, artists, and musicians in Monroeville to explore how place and their sense of belonging inspires their writing. The Alabama Writers Symposium is Alabama's premier event for those who love to read.

Congratulations to Carolyn Haines , winner of the 2010 Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer and Ralph Voss, winner of the 2010 Eugene Current-Garcia Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Literary Scholar. Both awards will be presented Friday, April 30, at the Awards Luncheon. (Live perfomance of To Kill A Mockingbird will take place on the old courthouse steps from 7:00-9:00 P.M., Friday night.)

Please join us in the hometown of Harper Lee and Truman Capote, because 2010 is special: We are celebrating the 50th anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird.

A project of the Alabama Center for Literary Arts and sponsored by Alabama Southern Community College, Monroeville, Alabama. For information, call Melinda Byrd Murphy at (251) 575-8226 or email:

The information above is copied from:

I hope to see some of you there! Good nite, everyone! Tory

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Wonderful Secret Agent has a BLOG!

I'm ashamed to admit that I'm officially a stalker of Wonderful Secret Agent's blog in hopes that she will update today with something I can squeal about.

Let me explain. Last week, after e-submitting my manuscript to a fabulous agent in New York City, I stumbled across her blog and have since become obsessed.

She is a very reputable literary agent, and I would be knocked off my feet with enthusiasm if she were to connect with my YA novel.

It's funny because I'm not alone on the stalking issue. My mom, husband, and oldest daughter are also obsessed with checking out her blog for updates.

Given that Wonderful Secret Agent usually posts the number of manuscripts she has requested in a day, I know that mine was one of eight from a pile of 63 query letters (OMG!).

I wish you could hear my mom and I analyzing each of her posts. We have disected each phrase in hopes of finding something promising (maybe even a secret code or hidden message saying, "Yes, Tory, I want to represent you!").

She hasn't updated in a few days, so needless to say, I'm anxiously awaiting her next post.

So, to all my writing buddies out there, I'd love to know if any of you have ever stalked the Internet for information regarding the agents you've queried. Thoughts, please!

Have a wonderful Sunday, everyone! Tory

Saturday, April 17, 2010

High Concept Fiction = Best Seller!

Unless you've researched what the common factor is for books on the best seller list, chances are you may not be familiar with the term "high concept fiction."

In general, high concept fiction appeals to a large number of readers and also interests the movie guys from HBO, Disney, Warner Brothers, and other powerhouse film companies.

From wikipedia. Most of it applies to novels.

The plot of a high concept movie is easily understood by audiences, and can often be described in a sentence or two.

The story line is extremely efficient in that every scene and character is used to drive the plot forward. Often in high concept, characters and scenes that at first seem unnecessary are later used to reveal or explain a plot twist.

High concept movies feature relatively simple characters and a heavy reliance on conventions of cinematic genre.

Stylistically, high concept movies tend to be high-tech, crisp, and polished. Such movies also rely on pre-sold properties such as movie stars to build audience anticipation, and use heavy advertising, market research, and test screenings to ensure maximum popularity.

This brings me to the point of tonight's post.
When I began Book #1, I did my best to write a story that I knew I could pour my heart and soul into. In other words, I wrote for myself and no one else.

But being the first time author that I am, I worried if my young adult novel would connect with a mass market audience (my target readers are teens, tweens, librarians, and teachers).

It has taken months of researching and even a few beta reader's constructive criticism to finally convince myself that Book #1 has the potential of being a high concept story.

Whether or not my project finds representation, I guess we will just have to wait and see if an agent believes there is a market for such a story.

In the meantime, please cross your fingers and say lots of prayers!

I wish you all a wonderful night! Tory

Friday, April 16, 2010

Anxious to Start!

Okay, I've held off as long as possible! I'm two pages into a fresh, new outline for a story I've been dying to write. Not only will this new project keep me distracted as I suffer through the grueling weeks of querying for my first novel, but it will also strengthen my writing skills.

I'm still hopeful that Book #1 will make it to the bookshelves, but as most of you know, I'm not one to sit around and stare at the clock.

With new ideas bouncing around in my head, I don't see the point in suppressing them any further. It's time!

So for today's post, I encourage you to take out a piece of paper and write. Let your ideas transcend you some place far, far, away.

But beware: it's highly addictive!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! Tory

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spring Break 2010

There is so much to share about our Spring Break Vacation, so let me just jump on in and explain what the past few days have been like for our family!

Monday evening: first, imagine me slinging five overstuffed suitcases in the back of our suburban while crossing my fingers that the grocery bags at the bottom of the pile have not been crushed completely (Yep, I am the last person in the world you ever want packing your vehicle for a road trip!). From the sound of two Pringles cans popping, I quickly realize the snack bags have flattened like buttermilk pancakes on a warm-iron-griddle. I cringe, but unfortunately there is no time for a sit down and cry.

The kids are strapped tightly in their seatbelts, so I dash inside our home for a last minute view of my inbox before heading north for a weeklong trip with Grumpy, Sneezy, Sleepy, and Happy.

Argh! My Yahoo mailbox is empty, but I convince myself that every agent I've submitted to is up to her eyeballs with Monday morning query letters.

Meanwhile, Trae (a.k.a. the hardworking and underappreciated husband) is on the other end of the phone, half-way listening to my rants and rages about being the biggest pushover mom in the state of Alabama. He silently agrees, then wishes me well on my two-hour journey.

Before I pull the rear hatch on our vehicle, the 18" T.V. I've packed (a necessity when going off with our motley crew) tumbles from the mound of suitcases and hits the garage floor like a ton of bricks. Thank God I'm a pro at biting my tongue, because the words that came to mind were definitely not appropriate for the little ears in the backseat!

After a quick count to ten, I lean my head on the driver-side door and glance inside to see Grumpy, Sneezy, Sleepy, and Happy with their eyes glued to the 8" x 8" television screen in our vehicle.

My kiddos were completely oblivious to what I was enduring for their happiness (I think God gives us these moments to make us appreciate our own mothers even more) so I climb in the vehicle, strap myself in and allow my thoughts to drift to something pleasant: the book and a new WIP (Work In Progress) that's been brewing inside my head for the past few weeks.

And in that moment, all my troubles disappeared.

For the most part, the drive to Hill's Ranch was relaxing, and with the help of our energetic and enthusiastic Sumter County relatives, the next few days were nothing but sheer delight for our family. Trae and I were even lucky enough to attend a dinner date with one of our favorite Livingston couples.

Spring Break 2010 was definitely an event our family will talk about for many months to come. Hope you had a great one, too! Tory

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Uncertainty in a Query Letter!

Today is the beginning of Spring Break for my oldest spunky monkey, so needless to say I am looking forward to spending as much time with her as possible.

Yet before I head outdoors to enjoy some fun in the sun with my family, I want to share my two cents on the query process in general, and also include a tidbit of how I've remained focused during the few weeks of querying.

Just a recap from a previous post: the query letter is your calling card, your way of pitching the book to a handful of agents that you've researched thoroughly before submitting.

After following several blogs of first time authors, I've learned the query process usually takes anywhere from a few weeks, to months, to even years before finding the perfect agent. This may seem unbearable to many, but after enduring two years of fertility treatment and months of bedrest with different pregnancies, I have acquired an astounding amount of resilience toward uncertainty.

And with the support of my husband, children, friends, and family, I have remained focused on the important things in life. Yes, becoming a successful novelist is a goal I hope to reach, but I don't allow it to master over my involvement with family and friends.

So, I hope you found something encouraging from reading today's post and remember that rejection is not the end of the world. I believe in one form or another, it is a gift from God. After all, He knows what's best for our lives!

Have a great week, everyone! Tory

Friday, April 9, 2010

Why Does an Unpublished Author Need an Agent, Anyway?

The title for tonight's post pretty much sums up the topic of discussion, so if you're not interested in learning how a literary agent PAVES the road to publication, then check back on Monday for something different (I'm thinking somewhere along the lines of, How to Keep Your Sanity During the Query Process, but if you have something you'd like me to write about, drop a line in the comment box and I'll discuss it next week).

A few people have asked why I need a literary agent in the first place, so after countless hours of research and stalking numerous blogs of first time authors, I give you the top five reasons why I would never (Okay, I know one should never say NEVER, but at this point, I'm saying NEVER!) attempt to publish my novel without having someone educated and experienced in dealing with major publishing houses.

The Top Five Reasons An Unpublished Author Needs An Agent:

1.) As bad as you want to believe it, your book is NOT perfect! (Agents know how to get your book into the best shape possible before submitting it to editors. Most agents are editorially savvy, so if they connect well enough with the plot then they begin looking at the project with a keen eye. But GEEZ, you would not believe how many first time authors refuse to make one change to their manuscript! Don't worry, I'm not that kind of gal.)

2.) Literary agents have friends in high places! (Agents spend a large portion of their time building strong relationships with editors and publishers. They meet for lunch; they attend conferences together; they wine and dine at book parties; they become friends. So after cultivating these relationships with one another, most editors know if they receive a manuscript from Jane Doe Agent, then it's a story worth reading.)

3.) Negotiating! (Let's dream a little here. Suppose editor A falls in love with your manuscript and wants to make an offer. Awesome! But what if editor B and C from Jane Doe Agent's list call with interest in your book? This is when it comes in handy to have Jane Doe Agent working on your behalf. She knows how to raise the offer and get the best deal possible for you, her client.)

4.) Contracts! (Just the sound of this word makes my head spin! Unless you're an expert at reading and understanding the fine print on publishing contracts, chances are this is the moment you realize how smart you were in seeking representation. Publishing agreements are extremely tricky, but for experienced agents, they are all the same. They know when to push and when to back off.)

5.) What if you aren't happy? (Let's just say everything has gone smoothly up to this point, when suddenly, you see the cover design of your book and hate it! Yet before you pick up the phone to complain to your editor, you remember this person is someone you want to keep happy. So instead of ruffling your sleep-deprived editor's feathers, you dial Jane Doe Agent's number and vent your frustration away. The agent doesn't mind being the bad guy in this situation. It is her job to work diligently on your behalf to express any and every concern to the editor. In the end, the book is published as an expected best-seller, and you now have time to begin writing another book. After all, isn't this the best part?)

Well, in closing for tonight, I hope you learned something new about the role an agent plays in publishing a book. Have a fabulous weekend, everyone! Tory

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Why Young Adult?

Recently, a close friend asked why I decided to write a young adult novel and not a story for preschoolers or beginning readers. I guess she assumed that since I was practically the little old woman who lived in the shoe that I was the perfect creator for such a story.

Therefore, in effort to appease my friend's curiosity, I have decided to use tonight's post to answer her question.

You see, from the moment the storyline popped into my head, I knew teens and tweens would most likely connect best with the plot, setting, characters, and tone. So, for the next few months, I researched the publishing market and scouted literary agents who were seeking to represent first-time authors of multilayered, young adult fiction.

In my opinion, young adult readers (ages 14-21) are SUPER smart, have a passion for reading like never before, and are open-minded to anything and everything. And the best part: they are even attracted to books that are written by some nobody author as myself. Seriously, the YA market is exploding with talented, new writers which is encouraging not only for myself, but also the publishing industry in general!

There's no doubt that writing for teenagers when your 32-years-old is a bit tricky, mostly because it's difficult to determine the maturity of the context, language, and dialogue without sounding like a Mom telling the story instead of an adolescent. But thanks to technology and online resources, it's not as hard as it seems.

And after witnessing the success of Harry Potter and the Twilight series, there is now a spawn of interest in books that appeal to teens, tweens, and adults.

Well, I hope you enjoyed tonight's post. Have a great Friday, everyone! Tory

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Humpday Reads!

Tonight's post is cut a bit short because I received a request FOR THE FULL MANUSCRIPT earlier today (OMG!) and need to proof my synopsis one last time before submitting it tomorrow! Can you tell I'm a bit ecstatic (and busy...if you could only see my house right now, YIKES!)? So, for this weeks' version of Humpday Reads, I recommend the following books:

1.) Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green & David Levithan
"At heart, Will Grayson, Will Grayson is about a couple of kids figuring out how to be themselves. Two of those kids happen to have the same name, and not much in common outside of that, but their serendipitous friendship sets the stage for a much larger, braver, and more candid story than the simplicity of the plot might suggest. The relevance for teens here is clear--high school is the only time in your life when you have the undivided opportunity to obsess over your every move, sentence, and outfit change--but the part about understanding who you are doesn't stop when you graduate. That's what makes Will Grayson, Will Grayson as interesting a pick for adults as it is for teens: the questions don't get simpler, but looking at them through the eyes of a 16-year-old brings a welcome sense of honesty and humor to this thing called life. No one's ever too old to enjoy that."--Anne Bartholomew

2.) For Keeps, by Natasha Friend
Josie’s never met her dad, and that’s fine with her. To Josie, Paul Tucci is just a guy who got her mom pregnant and then moved away. It all happened sixteen years ago, when Josie’s mom was still a teenager herself. But now Paul Tucci is back in town, and Josie has to deal with not one but two men in her life—her father and her first boyfriend, who Josie fears will hurt her just like Paul hurt her mother.

3.) If I Stay, by Gayle Foreman
If I Stay is a bittersweet memory of a family and their loved ones. It's told through the eyes of Mia, who watches herself being treated in the hospital as her loved ones surround her. And she has to make the toughest choice of all...

4.) Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
When Clay Jenson plays the casette tapes he received in a mysterious package, he's surprised to hear the voice of dead classmate Hannah Baker. He's one of 13 people who receive Hannah's story, which details the circumstances that led to her suicide. Clay spends the rest of the day and long into the night listening to Hannah's voice and going to the locations she wants him to visit. The text alternates, sometimes quickly, between Hannah's voice (italicized) and Clay's thoughts as he listens to her words, which illuminate betrayals and secrets that demonstrate the consequences of even small actions. Hannah, herself, is not free from guilt, her own inaction having played a part in an accidental auto death and a rape. The message about how we treat one another, although sometimes heavy, makes for compelling reading. Give this to fans of Gail Giles psychological thrillers. (from Booklist)

5.) Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
I chose this book because I'm near the end and love it! Jess at the Washington County Library suggested it, and I love it so far!
Laurie Halse Anderson's first novel is a stunning and sympathetic tribute to the teenage outcast. The triumphant ending, in which Melinda finds her voice, is cause for cheering (while many readers might also shed a tear or two). After reading Speak, it will be hard for any teen to look at the class scapegoat again without a measure of compassion and understanding for that person--who may be screaming beneath the silence. (Ages 13 and older) --Jennifer Hubert --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

I hope you find something on the list that suits your fancy, and THANKS again for all the support! In one way or another, you've encouraged me to keep blogging and writing! Good night, everyone! Tory

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Query Update!

So, since I've come out of the closet about writing a young adult novel (I still smile when I think about Uncle Baxter's reaction!), I've had several of my closest family and friends subtly ask how the query process is going. I'm so grateful they are interested in my progress, but I must admit, it's like sitting in the chair at the dentist office! Ugh!!!

However, when I look at the big picture and factor in the many prayers that are being lifted up for a successful outcome, I relax and answer honestly.

Therefore, for tonight's post, here are the numbers:

Total Equeries Sent - 15 (four of these I emailed last night and today, but if I had stumbled upon the literary agent sooner, I would have queried them at the beginning). It's amazing how many talented and devoted agents are out there waiting to find the golden nugget buried at the bottom of the unsolicited pile (And yes it's tempting to send the query letter along with a box of chocolates or a dozen red roses, but I chose to let my writing do the talking and not rely on the gimmicks to help me stand-out!).

Total Rejections Thus Far - 3 (There is no doubt about it, each rejection stings like a bee, but the best advice I've been given is to let the rejections roll off my back and focus on the next agent).

Partial Requests - 1 (And this is exciting in itself because I know my query letter is half-way decent, and that I've sparked someone's interest enough to make them ask for more).

How many queries do I plan to send out? Well, until I have an agent ask for representation I'll keep researching and sending out query letters. Sounds practical, right?

In the meantime, I assure you I will burn away the midnight oil to entertain and enlighten you to the best of my ability in regards to the publishing industry. If anything should make you appreciate your day-job! Hope everyone has a terrific Tuesday! Tory

Monday, April 5, 2010

Our Super-Easter Weekend!

Although in the beginning I promised not to bore you all with cheesy updates about our motley crew, yet somehow, I knew this weekend would be the exception. Therefore, today with great effort to entertain and not bore, I give you the five things I learned while visiting my in-laws for Easter weekend:

1.) Wireless router is my friend!

2.) I really, really should pack two boxes of Band-Aids when traveling with our fearless kids.

3.) It is impossible to start a new book (Dark Secrets #1 by Elizabeth Chandler) when four children are hyped on jellybeans, chocolate Cadbury eggs, and Cousin Susie's delicious brownies.

4.) Never polish toenails or shape eyebrows while your husband is driving down the road screaming at the kids to be quiet (Yes, sadly this was the best opportunity to do these tedious things!). For some odd reason, I believe we could pass as the Griswolds!

5.) And most importantly, always take your three-year-old to potty before Easter Sunday Communion begins (Of course, Courtney blurted out in church that she had to pee-pee. Thankfully, those sitting closest had a sense of humor!).

So, it goes without saying I was exhausted from our fun-filled weekend. Yet after scanning through the images on my camera, I couldn't help but get teary-eyed as the precious photos of my children flashed before my face. I turned and looked at each of them sleeping in the backseat of our suburban and realized the greatest joy of our weekend was being together as a family, celebrating Jesus' resurrection. It was truly a priceless moment!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Computer Hiatus!

First and foremost, I wish everyone a wonderful Easter weekend with their friends and family! Unfortunately, I will be off-line until Monday morning (don't worry, I'm sure I'll find a way to check my email while I'm gone), and I hope to return with exciting tales from the Minus household!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Significance of Vocabulary: Teens and Word Choice!

Last year, I found a hefty, brown box at the top of our guest bed-room closet that was full of mementos from my high school days. Not only were there precious photos and memory albums, but also two, five-subject notebooks completed with journal writings from my 9th - 12th grade years.

Sadly, I assumed the journals had been misplaced (this was hard to swallow because so many that were mentioned are no longer here today), yet after opening the box and spending a solid hour flipping through the faded pages, I felt relieved they were safe. Yes, I cringed at some of the entries from my petulant past, but the longer I read, the more I realized each entry was my way of growing into myself. Sure, there was the usual high school drama (and of course, best-friend and boy troubles!), but most importantly, I found an intriguing language that had not been used in over a decade. I was fascinated with the word choice and stunned to have taken so much time in documenting those trivial years.

The point I'm trying to make is: The relation between vocabulary and writing is strong and unequivocal. And even way back when, I guess I loved to use words to tell a story, my adolescent story.

What about you? Did you keep a journal or hold onto to any letters from your high school days? Do you believe it's a healthy approach for kids (especially teens) to journal? I'd love to know what you think!