Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Because it's still Tuesday in central Florida ...

SCBWI taught me a lot of things. It also annoyed me (okay, not really) by adding fire to one of my older story ideas. The characters have bounced around in my head awhile now, so I figured it was time I put them on "paper."

So here's a little snippet from my latest WIP (side note: I'm putting the fantasy/paranormal on hold for awhile, a decision influenced in part by the conference and its lovely speakers, and in part by a very wise agent that, well, told me like it was).

Untitled, contemporary YA:

Skylar leaned over the railing, blonde curls blanketing her hollow cheeks. “I’m not coming back, Natalie.”

“What are you saying?”

She roped her fingers together and looked across the front lawn. The final buses were unloading, which meant the first bell would ring any second now.

“Sky? What’s going on?”

“I’m not playing this year,” she said. “I already told Coach Day.”

My mouth fell open. Skipping summer camp had been a no-brainer, what with everything that had happened, but now this? “But you love basketball.”

“Loved. That was a long time ago.”

“Not that long ago.” I tried to meet her eyes, but she looked at the buses, the new kids, the patches of weeds masquerading as grass. At anything but me.

“Things change, Nat,” she said. “People change.”

I spun the silver ring around my finger. District Champs, Division A. Final score: 67-70. Sky had put up a three at the buzzer in our second overtime. Nothing but net. It was all we'd talked about for weeks.

I looked at Skylar’s finger. It was bare.

---g'night, all!


Weronika said...

I love this snippet. I'm already very curious about both of these characters. I want to know more!

I'm sorry to hear that the previous project didn't work out as planned, but I do hope you find what you've been looking for with this one. :)

Rebecca @sometimesnonsense said...

You got me, I want to know more! Sounds really interesting and intense, leaving us wondering what happened over the summer that would make her give up her dreams!!!

Just curious - what exactly did the speakers say at the conference that made you want to put your fantasy aside? Hmmm just wondering since that's what I'm querying at the moment. (like the rest of the world it seems and I'm thinking that might be the issue)

Thanks for sharing. Can't wait to read more!

MeganRebekah said...

Great teaser!! :)

And what exactly did an agent say? Advice specific to your novel? Or the YA paranormal realm?

jessjordan said...

Weronika: Thank you for your comments, as always. I'm so glad you're curious to learn more about my characters. I hope I don't disappoint!

Rebecca and MeganRebekah: Thank you both! I'm grouping you together b/c you both asked similar questions, so here goes --

The overwhelming consensus at the conference was that fantasy/paranormal is an overloaded genre right now. Some houses are still eating it up, while others aren't interested at all, so it needs to be really fresh and original for an agent to take it on.

I spoke with an agent about my project, and she (very kindly) let me know that (a) boy MCs, while she loves them, are a hard sell to the YA market right now, (b) paranormal in general can be a tough sell, unless the paranormal/fantasy aspect is really new/fresh, and (c) a couple of my elements were a little cliche. She was absolutely right, of course (about the cliches), but I'm a little unsure how to fix them right now.

As for what the speakers said: Ingrid Law and Holly Black both talked about fantasy. They are masters at what they do and such wonderful speakers that they had me in tears at times. But watching them, how fantasy flows out of their bones, just made me realize that I'm not there yet. I think about it too much, and I'm too grounded in reality. So I needed to step back, take a look around, and do a lot more research before I plunged off the fantasy/para cliff.

But fear not, b/c every agent/editor/writer said that there is always room for a great book. If your book is great and you know it, keep pushing it. You'll find a home for it, even if it's a story about vamps. :)

Abby said...

Great snippet! Just with that little bit, I'm interested in these characters and what's going to happen next. Good job!

Bummer about your other project! Sounds like you've put a lot of thought into it. Better luck with this one. :D

Lisa and Laura said...

Totally hooked. I love that the ring is gone from her finger and I haven't read many stories with a focus on girls playing sports. That might be a good hook/niche for many readers. Can't wait to see more!

TereLiz said...

Well, for what it's worth, it feels like you have a good hold on these new characters. They have immediate tension without having any supernatural foes after them. That, my friend, is what I'm jealous of.

If there's no fantasy, I can't write it.

Sky and your mc, otoh, have come to life in only a few words about school, friendship and basketball. Love it.
Keep up the good work, jess.


jessjordan said...

Abby: Thank you, thank you! No worries about my other project; if it's meant to be, it will ... when I'm ready for it. :)

Lila: Yay! I'm hoping that by the time I finish this one up and shop it around, girls-n-sports won't be running around rampant, flashing people for beads and making girls gone wild videos and ... what was I talking about? :)

Tere: All that matters is that you're able to bring your characters to life and put tension on the page. If you can do it in fantasy, then that's great! I'm just not there yet. I have a couple of things from SCBWI I'm going to post on fantasy within the next day or so, but for now I leave you with this little nugget from Holly Black: "All novels are fantasy. Some are just more honest about it."

I know ... isn't she brilliant?

Little Ms J said...

Oooooh, Jess Jordan, I'm liking your snippit of your WIPpet. I'm curious. What is going on with Skylar? Is she pregnant? Sick? Nicely done.

Good stuff, girlie.

jessjordan said...

Hey, hey LMJ! So happy you like it. And curiosity is a good thing, right? I mean, it kills cats, not people.

MeganRebekah said...

LOL at your last comment. My MC's curosity may literally be the death of her.

jessjordan said...

Megan: Okay, okay, so maybe curiosity *can* kill things other than cats! :)