Persistence Has Its Rewards

I’ve written five books, plus a sixth that’s mostly done. Three of those books were queried over the course of four years. After all that work, time, and patience I’m excited to say I’ve been offered and accepted literary representation!

Fellow writers: If you want something, keeping trying. Believe me, I know it’s so discouraging at times and so tempting to just give up and think you aren’t good enough.

DON’T GIVE UP!

Keep working, trying, and learning. Be patient. Persist. Be willing to make changes and do something different. I believe in you!

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2016 Reads

My yearly book report, here is what I read this year…it was a very good year:

  1. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
  2. Seraphina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty
  3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  4. Proposal by Meg Cabot
  5. We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist
  6. Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz
  7. The Pirate Code by Heidi Shultz
  8. Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
  9. This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee
  10. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  11. Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake
  12. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
  13. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  14. Borrowed Light by Carla Kelly
  15. Enduring Light by Carla Kelly
  16. After You by Jojo Moyes
  17. The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
  18. Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
  19. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  20. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
  21. Cress by Marissa Meyer
  22. Winter by Marissa Meyer
  23. Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull
  24. The Rogue Knight by Brandon Mull
  25. Remembrance by Meg Cabot
  26. The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
  27. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
  28. Crystal Keepers by Brandon Mull
  29. Death Weavers by Brandon Mull
  30. My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights by Brooks Benjamin
  31. Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin
  32. Summerlost by Ally Condie
  33. The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
  34. The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
  35. Ruby on the Outside by Nola Raleigh Baskin
  36. Pretending to Be Erica by Michelle Painchaud
  37. The Last Star by Rick Yancey
  38. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling
  39. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
  40. The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
  41. The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
  42. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
  43. Wool by Hugh Howey
  44. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
  45. The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan
  46. The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
  47. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
  48. Ravenous by MarcyKate Connolly
  49. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
  50. The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart
  51. Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide by J.K. Rowling
  52. Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies by J.K. Rowling
  53. Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists by J.K. Rowling

I set a goal to read 40 books and managed 53! Here are some of the stand outs, both good and bad.

The good: Ready Player One was hands down my favorite book of the year. As a child raised in the 80’s it appealed to all things nerdy from that era…video games, movies, etc. all set in a futuristic “game”. This one I highly recommend to all my fellow nerds out there. I loved Illuminae because of the sci-fi aspects and epistolary style used. Finally, I also loved the Lunar Chronicles (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter), I just couldn’t put them down. They had a great blend of sci-fi, fairy tale retellings, and romance. It was a really fun series to read.

The bad: I wasn’t fond of The 5th Wave trilogy. I read it all, mostly because I was hoping it would get better, and it kept my attention just enough to get through them all, but overall I wasn’t satisfied with it. I also really didn’t like Thief of Lies, but for various reasons I don’t want to go in the details of why…I just didn’t like it and have no intention of reading anymore of the series, I’ll leave it at that.

I have my goal set for 40 books again this year, happy reading everyone!

New Year, New Stuff To Do…

Here’s how my 2016 went, as far as my writing goals were concerned:

  • I did a major revision on The Believer, changing it from YA to MG. I needed to cut about 20k words. I got it down by 11k, and I’m in the process of another revision to improve the voice and reduce the word count even more.
  • I did a minor revision on Time Guardian, but I’m still getting the same feedback on the opening pages…that they just aren’t doing the job. I’m still not sure how to fix that, so it’s on the shelf for now.
  • I did query Messy, got a few bites, but not takers yet.
  • I actually participated in NaNoWriMo this year for the first time. My goal was to get a good start on a new MG sci-fi I’ve been thinking of, not to get 50k words. I achieved what I set out to do and wrote about 15k words in November. A nice start!

What I’d like to do this year:

  • I need to query SOMETHING (pretty much anything) more. Most of my stuff probably needs work before doing that, but I have lots of options so that shouldn’t be a problem. So…complete revisions of The Believer, and do some work on Time Guardian and Messy and I’ll have lots to work with.
  • Finish my current WIP that I started in November.
  • I give up on being a regular blogger. 😛

Happy 2017, cheers!

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016!

For the most part I did well accomplishing my goals for 2015:

  • I finished extensive revisions on both Time Guardian and Messy (formally called A Hoard Life). I did some querying with Time Guardian, and while the concept interested agents, the pages didn’t manage to draw anyone in to want to read more. I think another revision is in order, I’m not ready to give up on it yet. I only just stared querying Messy and have had some success getting requests, but I need to get it out more.
  • I massively revised The Mystic Road, but it still needs more work before it’s ready to take any further.
  • I also did really well with my exercise program, I only missed workouts when I was ill or on vacation, etc.
  • My only fail this year was right around November I lost all motivation to work on revising, querying, or writing at all. I’m fine with taking a break, I probably really needed it so I’m not upset about it, but I want my enthusiasm back for the New Year.
  • Plus…I’m the worst blogger ever!

My goals for 2016:

  • Work on revisions for Time Guardian, especially making an effort to improve the first chapter and clean up some other story issues, then query more.
  • Continue querying Messy. Revise as necessary.
  • More revisions on The Mystic Road, consider querying when ready.
  • Work on a complete rewrite of The Believer. This was originally a YA fantasy that I think will work better as a MG fantasy. I already have notes on the planned changes, but it will be a huge project. I need to cut around 20,000 words and make some major plot changes in a few areas.
  • Writing a new MS isn’t necessarily a priority again, but it would be nice to work on something new. If I can fit that into my plan it would be great.
  • Continue keeping a writing journal, I really like doing that and it keeps me on track (that’s how I knew I was losing motivation because I stopped making entries. Step one in getting my writing mojo back is to write in my journal, it keeps me accountable).
  • Continue the exercise, which is great for both body and mind.
  • Learn guitar and ukulele. I started leaning guitar last year and I got a ukulele for Christmas, so I’d like to take the time to practice with them at least a few times a week. I don’t want or need to become an expert or anything, I’d just like to be able to play some songs for fun.
  • Finally, last year I wrote a whopping four blog entries. That’s just downright PATHETIC! I don’t want to be a fantastic blogger with a zillion readers and all that jazz. Most of what I write here is for my benefit instead of others, but I’d like to try and write at least one entry a month like I’ve done in years past.

Happy 2016!

2015 Reads

Time for my yearly book report! Funny…I hated book reports in school, but now I love recording and discussing a bit of what I read over the past year, maybe that’s because no one is telling me I have to do this for a grade?

Anyway, I read 43 books in 2015, which makes it a pretty good year. My goal was 40, so I accomplished that. Here is the list:

  1. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  2. Into the Fire by Ashelyn Drake
  3. The Julian Chapter by R.J. Palacio
  4. Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
  5. The Martian by Andy Weir
  6. Operation Tree Roper: An Eye Above by Robert A. Polk
  7. Firefight by Brandon Sanderson
  8. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline
  9. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
  10. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia M. McKielip
  11. Unwind by Neal Shusterman
  12. The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall
  13. The Last Wild by Piers Today
  14. Monstrous by MarcyKate Connelly
  15. The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne
  16. Jinx’s Fire by Sage Blackwood
  17. Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
  18. The Spirit by D. Nichole King
  19. The Forgotten Sisters by Shannon Hale
  20. Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein
  21. Bone Gap by Laura Rudy
  22. The Night So Dark by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
  23. Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
  24. Firegirl by Tony Abbott
  25. Liar and Spy and Rebecca Stead
  26. First Light by Rebecca Stead
  27. Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
  28. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  29. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
  30. Magnus Chase and Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan
  31. George by Alex Gino
  32. Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson
  33. Skylark by Patrica MacLachlan
  34. The Body Electric by Beth Revis
  35. Caleb’s Story by Patricia MacLachlan
  36. More Perfect Than the Moon by Patricia MacLachlan
  37. Gossamer by Lois Lowry
  38. Grandfather’s Dance by Patricia MacLachlan
  39. Switch by Ingrid Law
  40. Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
  41. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
  42. Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar
  43. This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Again, there is a lot of Middle Grade on my list, but I love reading it so I have no regrets. I also finally took the time to finish reading a series I started years ago when I read the first book Sarah, Plain and Tall. I meant to read the rest since then, but never got around to it until now. None of them were as good as the first, but they were still enjoyable. The good news is none of these books were downright stinkers, but the bad news is very few of them really stood out either. I’m hoping for more stand-out books in 2016.

My favorites: A few did stand out. First, The Penderwicks in Spring. I love this series and this book in particular really spoke to my heart and made me sob out loud, which doesn’t happen often with books. It tore my heart into pieces and then put it back together. Not many books can do that. Next, The Martian. This was a super popular book this year, along with the movie (which I also saw). I love space stories so this for me was just a lot of fun to read. It was a bit technical, but it’s a great story. Then, Bone Gap. This was an unusual book for me, I’d call it magical realism, which I don’t normally read or enjoy. But this was different, special, and unexpected…and that’s didn’t even have to do with the magical realism aspects of the book. It’s hard to explain, I just really liked the journey this book took me on. Finally, The Crossover. I read this because it won the 2015 Newbery Medal. I was skeptical, it’s a book in verse and the verse is written in rap style, neither of which I normally like. But this book is so good and so moving, it’s no wonder it won the Newbery Medal. I highly recommend it!

A Few Disappointments:  While I didn’t outright hate anything I read, there were a few that let me down.  First, and I really hate saying this, the first installment in Rick Riordan’s latest series Magnus Chase just didn’t do it for me. I love Riordan’s book, I love his twist on mythology. But this new one, his take on Norse mythology, just wasn’t anything terribly new or different to make it stand out from his other book featuring Percy Jackson with Greek and Roman gods. The heroes have to save the world, the gods are mostly indifferent bystanders….blah, blah, blah. It wasn’t special and that was a disappointment for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Riordan’s books and have every intention of continuing to read the series, I just hoped for more. Next, Fuzzy Mud, by another author I love, Louis Sachar, to me just wasn’t up to his usual standards. Plus the book was just plain odd and slightly preachy at the end. Again, I wanted more and came away from it unsatisfied. I’m hoping his next will be better.

My goal for 2016 is to read at least 40 new books and I already have the first two on my to-read-queue so hopefully that means I’m off to a good start already. Happy reading!

Website Update

I’ve moved my book list to Goodreads, to make it easier to update and keep track of. The link to my “read shelf” is on the book list page. I also deleted my Quilting Bee pages since the club is pretty much defunct now…which is very sad…still, it was a lot of fun while it lasted! For now, this not-often-updated blog is mainly dedicated to my reading and writing.

Pitch Wars 2015 Mentee Bio

Hey there, welcome to my little bit of the web. Please ignore the fact that this blog is seldom used. My online presence is mostly on social media and it’s hard to maintain a blog when I keep writing about the exact same thing…

“Still writing…not published…working on it.”

That about sums it up!

Anyway, my name is Joni and I’m really hoping that this year I’ll find an awesome-sauce mentor with Pitch Wars to help me spruce up my latest project so I have a shiny gem to present to many lovely agents.

A little bit about me:  I’m 40-something years old, married, with three children. I haven’t always wanted to be a writer, but I’ve always loved reading. Always. I dabbled with writing on and off while my kids were little, but busy mom stuff and health issues kept me from pursuing it seriously. Finally, in 2012, I got to business. I decided, “I’m going to write a novel!” and really meant it. Since then, I’ve written five complete novels and actively queried two of them, so I’m no stranger to how all this stuff works, but I know I have plenty to learn. My novels are YA or MG, all are fantasy in nature except one…

A bit about the MS I’m submitting to Pitch Wars:  My latest novel is my first MG contemporary. No fantasy, no magic, and no mystical lands. Just a normal girl in her own extraordinary circumstances. It’s funny, when I first started writing I would have never imagined writing anything but YA fantasy, so the fact that I’ve written this is a surprise even to me. But it’s all part of learning, growing, and becoming a better writer. My novel, MESSY, is about Bailey, a sixth-grade girl with a secret she’s dying to keep to herself…her mother is an out-of-control hoarder. By hoarder, I mean Bailey’s mother packs their house with all kinds of useless junk, so much that they can barely move around inside, and Bailey’s had enough. But, being a sixth-grader, what can she do? She feels trapped and alone at home, while at school she has to deal with all the craziness that comes along with being on the cusp of adolescence. Basically, everything is messy!

I think Middle Grade literature is special, it’s amazingly varied and packed with meaning on all sorts of levels. Most books that have moved me and made a lasting impact on my life have been MG.  Here’s a short list of some of my MG favorites (although I love so many there’s no way I can list them all):

  • Holes by Louis Sachar
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
  • El Deafo by Cece Bell
  • Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
  • All Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
  • All Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus/Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan
  • The Prydain Chronicles (The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, etc.) by Lloyd Alexander

I’ll stop before I get carried away, but you get the ideas.  I love MG books, I l just love books in general.  As far as being a potential mentee goes, I love writing and I’m perfectly aware of how much I have to learn.  I don’t mind feedback, in fact I like seeing lots of red on my manuscripts because it means I can  improve.  In writing, revising is where the real work is and I try my best to work hard.

Thanks for reading and good luck to everyone entering Pitch Wars!