Monday, March 30, 2015

Milestones Start with Baby Steps

(Choate Rosemary School: renowned boarding school in Connecticut, and the place where the adventure begins...)

The milestones of two ambitious writers... The first 100 pages are professionally revised. Our synopsis is complete. And our query letter has been reworked dozens of times.

We had six literary agents at the SDSU Writers' Conference request to see our work. Today, we sent everything off. We're thrilled about our revisions at the guidance of our AMAZING Editor, Deborah Halverson. We're hopeful that there is an agent out there who shares our vision. And we're eager to give FORGED its very best shot at oneday landing in the hands of readers.

As many of you know, we have been working on this book for a year and a half. What isn't commonly known is that the path to publication is almost never straight, or quick. But we're still writing.

This year, our biggest challenge was a genre shift, from new adult (18-25 year old characters) to young adult. Our characters aren't freshmen in college anymore, they're seniors in high school. Believe it or not, that one year makes a HUGE difference. Initially reluctant about making the change, halfway through it, we feel like this is the story that was always meant to be written. So now we wait. And we finish revising the second half.

In case you'd like to read more about Forged-book one of the Power of 7 series-below is our latest query letter:

“The first seven were given extraordinary powers in order to save their people. The final seven will use those powers to save humanity.” David Amesbury, Dean of Sixth Forms at Choate Rosemary School reveals the legend to Emily during her first week of her senior year in FORGED, a young adult, paranormal adventure. The manuscript is complete at 79,000 words.

Emily has always felt abnormal. When her best friend—the only one who knows her secrets and insecurities—mysteriously dies, she's left to navigate her senior year alone. Or so she thinks. One night, Emily witnesses an attempted suicide and is shocked that her hands have the power to heal the broken boy who lands at her feet. When she’s confronted by a demon disguised as a student, John intervenes. Captivated by her talent, John divulges his own power to communicate with spirits. It isn't long before they discover that they've been brought to Choate for a very specific purpose.

FORGED, told from the points of view of Emily and John, follows the "Healer" and the "Listener" and five other gifted students, as they confront a force that only they can overcome. Not only will the mission put their lives in jeopardy, but it will undermine the emerging love between them. In an atmosphere riddled with spirits, demons and secrets that are centuries old, these seven will find that by embracing what makes them ordinary, they have the power to restore humanity.

FORGED can stand alone or act as book one of a series for which a synopsis has been established. Thank you for your time and consideration. We hope to have the opportunity to work with you.

What do you think? Thanks for your feedback and support.

{H&J}

Monday, March 9, 2015

My Kids are Addicts...Are Yours?

Sugar addiction. It's a real thing and my house has it BAD! It all started last Halloween when the Halloween Fairy got lazy and the kids got sneaky. See, she's the one who typically visits a week after Halloween and leaves cash whilst magically removing the remaining candy in the house. The kids get a week of indulgence and then POOF, we go back to our more healthy habits.

Unfortunately, the Halloween Fairy forgot to visit the Hales at the same time that the Hale kids figured out the game. And for the last several months, my kids have had their own secret stashes of candy tucked away in drawers and cubbies and locked-away troves.

How did I find this out? Well, I was fighting a migraine last week and in one of my rants I cried out "Make it stop!" and "I really need chocolate!!" At that exact time, my two boys looked at each other. It was a look without words. It was a silent message of great import. It was a realization of high stakes. And my youngest, I swear he loves me the most, decided to be the sacrifice.

"Mom, my lovely, hurting mom. I have what you need..." he said sweetly before rushing off.

"He's going to his secret stash," Logan told Bella. They looked worried and avoided my eyes. I think they wanted to run but, like moths drawn to the flame, they HAD to stick around and stand witness to their little brother who, at that moment, returned with a selection of mini candy bars.

"Here you go, mom. I hope you feel better soon." Noah sealed his gift with a smile that could melt the polar ice caps.

"Thank you, Noah. That's so sweet of you." I unwrapped my first Twix. My kids twitched nervously. "Is this leftover from Valentine's Day?" I asked while looking through the pile for a Snickers.

"Um, well..." he glanced nervously at his siblings, "No. I think that one's from Halloween."

Though Logan and Bella sat in silence, their faces contorted and their eyes pleaded: "Noah, STOP! Say no more! Maybe we can salvage this!!"

"So you still have Halloween candy? It must be almost gone, right?" I calmly continue the interrogation.

"Well..." that kid can't tell a lie, "I think I have some from Christmas and Valentine's Day too. And I bought some from my friends at school..."

By now, Noah won't look at his brother and sister, both shaking their heads certain the hammer's about to fall. But he can't look at me either because even though having a little bit of leftover candy around the house isn't a crime, having a secret collection along with free and easy access to it, feels like quite a betrayal.

"Does everyone in this house have a secret stash Noah?" Bella and Logan sunk a little lower in their seats.

"Okay, tell the truth. Do you have candy every day?" I addressed them all.

Nods all around.

"Even on days when we have ice cream or some other dessert?"

More nods.

"And last week when I bought you Cinnamon Toast Crunch and you fought over the last bowl?" (True story. I think they would've actually come to blows had Michael not intervened.)

Affirmative.

"You guys have a problem. And it's WAY bigger than me finding out about your hidden candy...You are addicted to sugar."

Then we had a long discussion about the way sugar changes your brain chemistry and takes the tastiness out of other foods and messes with your metabolism and lowers your immune system and causes you to act like crazy, deceitful children. We talked about the risks of addiction and the benefits of having control of your body and mind. And how moderation is the key, for most things, at least. The conversation took lots of turns and dips but it ended up being the best family intervention ever.

Maybe you feel like there's an unhealthy habit in your home that needs to be addressed. You're definitely NOT alone. Don't let those secret stashes get out of control, whatever they may be. Seek them out and reign them in. If I can kick the D.C. habit, and my kids can overcome their sugar addictions, for the love, there's HOPE for all.

Be well.

{J}