Interactive Header

Robin Writes Header
Robin Writes Header
home bio contact projects interviews

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Girl with the Green Pen: An Interview with Taryn Albright

When I was clueless and writing my first query, who did I turn to? 
When I was in the query trenches and didn't know what agents to query or how to find agents, who did I call?
When I finished a 1st draft and needed a quick Beta read to make sure I was headed in the right direction, who did I send my MS to?

This little beauty here. I don't know anyone with as much on her plate as Taryn. She swims collegiality, she's in college (obviously), she writes up a storm, she interns, and she edits professionally. Here's a brief feed from her @tarynalbright #sbscrits feed last Saturday when she did 1st page and query crits for free.
  • Ask yourself why you're leaving that "shocking twist/secret" out of the query. If it's so cool, why don't you use it as a hook?
  • The best word with which to start a query? "When." "When something happens, someone must." 
  • Seventeen-year-old MC. NOT seventeen year old. If it's an adj, USE THE DARN HYPHENS.
  • No query sentence should merely describe your character. Combine it with an action.
  • Does your MC want something on the very first page? Even something as simple as a sandwich. Goals pull readers forward
  • I'm seeing a lot of filter words in the 1st page. Check this post out for tips on how to cut your filters: …
Great advise, right?

And now that she's branching out and opening her very own editing service (with such a fun website that I just want to go and play with all the buttons all day long) I asked her to do a brief interview. Her answers are in green:)

Why The Girl with the Green Pen? Why green?
Most edits are made with a red pen. If someone critiques your manuscript, s/he will most likely cover it with red ink, right? Not so much here. I make all my notes in green because I like to reflect the idea of moving forward. Green means go, it means new life. These are ways to think of your revisions, and this is how I like to think of the editing process.

Green is my favorite color for many of the reasons you mention here, but also because it makes my eyes dance;-)

What's the weirdest query (or MS) you're ever read?
Luckily I don't request weird MSs, and all my clients are fantastic ;) As for the queries, well it's always fun when they write back to form rejections all passive aggressively ("just so you know, five billion better agents have requested the full manuscripts.")

Have you ever squealed reading a query? (besides reading mine, of course)
Not out loud! But I have multiple times gone to stalk the author on twitter :)

What query advice do you wish everyone knew already?
WHITE SPACE IS YOUR FRIEND!!! Seriously, nothing is worse than opening up a query and seeing a thick chunk of black. You do not want the intern going to read with a frown.

Any last minute advise for those to the minute NaNo-ers out there (who might claw your eyes out if they realize you beat Nano in what? 6 days?)?
Write or Die!!! link to site so you don't think Taryn's threatening you:D

Thanks Girl with the Green Pen!

And if you're in the NaNo homestretch, Go. Write. Now. I'm cheering you on from the winners circle. The chocolate fountain and strawberry tarts are delightful, but I had to take off my lei, the horses wouldn't leave me alone.

Have you ever used an editorial service? or Taryn's free query passes?

Monday, November 19, 2012

2011 NaNo vs. 2012 NaNo

When I started my 2011 NaNo I had a only two responsibilities: 1-take care of my four-day-old, and 2-write a new book. On the outside this might look challenging, but I'd had my easiest birth yet (don't worry, I'll spare you the details) so recovery was easy and at least for that 1st month, my newborn did a lot of sleeping. My mom, friends, and husband did all the cleaning and the cooking, and NaNo was attainable.

This year, I have a rambunctious 1-year-old, three older children (that I now homeschool), piano lessons to teach, and multiple commitments with my church, in addition to all that cooking, cleaning, and getting dressed, which, let's face it, I barely did in last November.

Some things are the same.
1. I'm determined to win.
2. I have my CP's to keep me accountable.
3. I use those bribery methods and number nerd activities I mentioned earlier this month here.
4. I get most of my writing in before 8 am.
5. I am loving the community feeling of writing with so many of you.
6. I'm pantsing my novel.

Look for a post soon all about pantsing-for now, here are my NaNo stats:

Day 19:
Days I wrote at least 2 K: 14
Days I didn't write at all: 3
Word Count: 39,049

If you've done NaNo before, how does this year compare?

Keep plunking away at those keys

Friday, November 9, 2012

Vote on my Author Photo

I need your help. My husband's coworker took professional pictures of me. It felt more real than my wedding shoot, but then this photographer's camera didn't break before she'd taken her first picture. If you guys live in the Hi-Desert area of California I highly recommend her. We did a family shoot too and my kids-even the shy one-had a fun time AND I'm thrilled with the results.

So, I've narrowed it down to my favorite ones per outfit. Please let me know which picture you like best in the comments.
1. I like the relaxed pose and how the red pops-this one I'd zoom in. 

2. Pink top 1 -does my back look too rigid? If this one should I crop at shoulders? I think this is my best smile,

3. Pink top 2

4. peach top. I'd crop so you can't see the blank pants

5. green top. My favorite color, but do I look like part of the desert?

6. Blue shirt, red tie, wait, tie? That's not me.  That's my other half.

Thanks for your help!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

IWSG-NaNoWriMo Number Nerd

The first Wednesday of every month is IWSG, a bloghop hosted by the amazing Alex J. Cavenaugh to encourage and inspire each other and a safe place to admit our writing doubts.

Welcome to November, the month where my house is messier than usual, my children get fewer baths, and I wear pajamas all day long.

This is my second year doing NaNoWriMo, and having landed an agent with my NaNo LOVESENSE from 2011, I'm a big believer in the power and the excitement of writing with a large support group. I am crazy about updating my word count and seeing my bar graph jump. I am afraid of letting it drop below midline, so for the 1st three days I pumped out 10K, averaging over 3K a day, twice the 1,667 word average. I'm adding this widget to my side bar so that during the month my progress will be visible here, as well as on NaNo.

If you're doing NaNo and starting to feel pressure, I'll give you a little advise that helped me.
1. Always write forward.
2. Give yourself permission to write crap.
3. Take a day off. I write 6 days on, with a rest day on Sunday. When I come back to my MS on Monday inevitably I've figured out plot points and I have a big writing day-usually 4K.
4. Do writing sprints. I prefer the 15 minute variety-and if I'm on a roll I take it to 30.
5. Bribe yourself-I have to write 1000 words before I'm allowed to get on the internet. I also have food reward that I can't eat until I've reached a goal-written so many more words, another scene, etc.
6. Write to fun numbers and update you word count often. Seeing that bar graph jump gives me the excitement to write just a little bit more.

NaNo is daunting, but it is achievable. Believe in yourself and get back to that WIP:) If you're doing NaNo let me know and I'll add you to my buddy list:)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Book Birthday Michelle Davidson Argyle and Bonded

I can't resist a good fairytale retelling and Michelle Davidson Argyle doesn't disappoint! After reading an exerpt of Thirds on her blog The Innocent Flower, I have been anticipating Bonded's release date. Michelle was kind enough to agree to an interview on her book birthday. So read this interview, make one of her favorite meals, and go out and buy Bonded;)

I'm constantly salivating over your twitter posts. How do you have the energy to write and to make such luscious meals so many nights of the week?
See, this is why I'm a writer ... all those luscious meals I talk about really aren't complicated or that luscious ... really, they're not! It's the words I choose to describe what I'm eating, and I also think the key is fresh ingredients. I take a trip to the farmer's market every week to get fresh fruits and veggies, I've spent the last year learning recipes to incorporate more vegetables. So instead of just omelettes, I'll post that I'm eating omelettes stuffed with poblano peppers, feta cheese, and cremini mushrooms. Sounds fancy, but it's really not. I chopped stuff up and made an omelette. Voila! Honestly, four nights out of seven at our house, we're eating stuff like grilled cheese or ramen noodles. I try to plan at least two prepped meals a week. I love food, and I love to talk about food, so it's exciting to post stuff I'm eating, even if it's simple!

Could you share your favorite recipe?
One of my comfort foods, and all-time favorite recipe is my mom's sweet and sour meatballs. They are even good leftover, and I rarely like meat leftover.

1 ½ lb fresh hamburger
2/3 cup rolled oats or cracker crumbs
1/3 cup minced onion (red or white)
1 egg
1 ½ tsp salt
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 cup milk
SAUCE (I like to double this)
2 tbsp. corn starch
1/21 cup white sugar
1 cup cup vinegar (I like to use 1/2 red wine vinegar and 1/2 white vinegar)
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1/3 cup chopped red pepper
1 can pineapple
hot cooked white rice
Mix first 7 ingredients and shape into meatballs. If using a nonstick skillet, melt some shortening first, and cook meatballs until done. Remove meatballs. Pour fat from skillet. Mix starch and sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce until really smooth and pour into hot pan. Bring to a boil until the sauce starts to thicken, then add meat, pineapple, and green pepper. Serve over rice.
We made this meal last weekend and it was a hit. 

Official Short Description of Bonded:
What happened after Cinderella married her prince? How did the eivl sorceress in SLeeping Beauty turn evil in the first place? Discover these stories and a world filled iwth magic, forbidden love, elves, sprites, dragons, and the most powerful creatures of all--thefairies--in Bonded, a collection of thre fairy tail inspired novellas.

Based on three fairy talkes, Bonded contails a fairy talke continuation (Cinderella), a fairy tale retelling (One-Eye, Two-Eyes, Three-Eyes), and a fairy prequel (Sleeping Beauty).

What do you think the heroines from Cinders, Thirds, and Scales would pick as their favorite foods?
This is fun because food plays an important part in each novella!
In Cinders, Christina loves to visit the kitchen in the castle. She thinks a lot about food and cooking with her mother. She watches Fortune, the head cook, prepare meat and other things for meals. I think Christina would choose beef broth with pepper for her favorite food.
In Thirds, food is essential to the story! Poor Issina is starved for the entire beginning of the book. She's so hungry, in fact, that she eat roots from the cellar. Tree roots. Blech! Later, Issina is happy to discover prepared meals in the forest. I think she'd choose sugared dates as her favorite food.
In Scales, Serena connects her favorite to her mother. There's a scene where she watches her mother make apple tarts from scratch. Later, when Serena is traveling with Lief in the human realm, he asks her what she'd like him to make for her to eat. She immediately choose apple tarts!

If your life were a recipe what would it be?
1 lb simplicity
3 snippets yoga
4 cups patience
1 chocolate bar/per week
Mix everything together and spend time in the kitchen every day with family and/or friends.
Garnish with 2 cups writing on the side.

I had no idea you did yoga-I've been teaching yoga for the past 10 years and don't know how I survived without it. I wish I could live on 1 chocolate bar a week.

Thank you Michelle for the interview! We're adding your Sweet and Sour Meatballs to our go to recipe file.

If you'd like to learn more about Michelle here's another great interview by my CP Kathryn Purdie where Michelle talks more about her road to publication.

Bonded is available 
Goodreads here
Amazon here
Barnes and Noble here
Local Bookstores everywhere :)