Multiple POVs: Balance, Pacing, and Voice

It’s time for my yearly post where I give people who attended my Storymakers class some resources! The following is pretty much the entire class I taught on how to write from multiple perspectives.

Class description:

Many stories require multiple points of view, but writing them often feels like trying to piece together one puzzle from two (or three, or ten) different boxes. In this class, we’ll discuss how much page space to dedicate to each POV, how to keep the plot moving forward between constantly shifting perspectives, and how to give each character their own, distinct voice.

 

BEFORE YOU WRITE:

  • Why do you want to write a multi-POV story? What effect are you trying to achieve that you can’t with a story written from a single perspective? Some benefits of a multi-POV story include:
    • Versatility in how you present theme.
      • It’s easy to create character foils and set up ironic plot twists.
      • Some of the best books, IMO, are multi-POV stories where each character explores a different facet of the theme. Say you want to explore forgiveness. You can have one POV character who needs to forgive, one who needs to BE forgiven, one who withholds forgiveness, etc. Exploring how each character interacts with the theme allows for a far more complete examination of the theme as a whole than you could do in a book written from only one of those perspectives.
    • If you want to create a “grand puzzle” that gives each character a vital piece of knowledge, so they can’t see the whole picture but the readers can. This allows you to create tension from readers wondering when POVs will converge and when the characters will realize how large the problem really is and/or how they can solve it.
  • How many POVs?
    • What is the scope of the story you’re trying to tell?
      • Smaller-scale, intimate stories don’t require multiple POVs, because they’re about a person—though I suppose if you’re doing some kind of intricate building-up of that person’s character from several perspectives, you could have multiple POVs. However, that’s going to have a very different, disconnected feel as opposed to a story told about someone from only their perspective.
      • Stories about a large-scale event or conflict (war, etc.) are great for multiple POV ensemble casts because they allow you to present a more complete picture of what’s going on, what the world is like from different angles (socioeconomic statues, gender roles, etc.). The greater the scale of the conflict, the higher number of POVs you can get away with.
      • A good rule of thumb is this: your story should not feel OVERCROWDED. Each new POV character added inherently increases the complexity of your story, because they come with a whole new set of side-characters (their families, friends, enemies, etc.) and cultural/socioeconomic/etc. circumstances that you’ll have to grapple. Each character added means more details to keep track of, as well as the added complexity of keeping everyone on the same timeline—which can be more difficult that you think.
    • So you’ve created a cast of characters and you know the story will be told by a handful of them. Which characters should have a POV?
      • The most fundamental thing to ask yourself will be: who is this story about?
        • If, for example, you have a romance where only one of the characters truly has to learn and grow to be ready for love, that story is probably a single POV story told by that character. However, if you have a romance where both characters have struggles to overcome before they can find love, that story is about both of those characters and would be well-suited for two points of view.
        • In the same vein, if you have a story about a small group of rebels who need to unseat a pretender-king, but each rebel has their own goals and reasons for being there, as well as different perspectives on the world that build it out and make it feel real (maybe one is the true prince, one is a peasant-turned warrior whose parents died under the pretender’s tyrannical regime), you could choose those few of them who have the most to add or the most at stake and make them all POV characters—as well as the pretender-king. Or, as a twist, perhaps the POV character is the pretender-king’s wife, whose machinations are the true reason he’s in power. Or maybe you have a guard who works for the king and has a change of heart part-way through and becomes a rebel, too.
      • Does this character have their own story/character arc? Does this character push on the plot in a meaningful way?
        • “They’re interesting and cool” is NOT a reason to give a character a point of view.
        • In a video I watched, George RR Martin was asked how he decided which of his enormous cast of characters should have a POV. He said, “they must have their own story.” Even if it’s a short story—because some of them die after a chapter—they still have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
        • A POV character must be more than a pair of eyes. If something happens and there’s no POV character in a place to see it, don’t make a new one just so the even can be witnessed. Have the even reported by a side character who did see it or have the main characters hear it as a rumor. If the event is a big deal and the full drama of it needs to happen “on stage,” seriously consider restructuring your plot so a POV character can witness it before adding a whole new POV.
        • If you aren’t sure if a character plays a large enough part in the overall story to merit being a POV character, ask yourself: do they have their own conflict? Their own goals? Motivations? And, very importantly, do they make choices throughout the narrative that moves the plot forward?
      • Outlining a multi-POV story: some practical advice
        • Outline each character’s OWN story separately, in their own outlines
        • Once that’s done, weave the outlines together and untangle any timeline or cause-and-effect issues you see.

 

BALANCE: How much should each character narrate, and when should they do it?

  • How much page space to dedicate to each POV character?
    • Who is pushing on the plot the most? The character who is carrying the most dramatic weight/doing the most lifting in the plot deserves the most page space.
      • These characters should also have the richest internal conflicts and be the most well-fleshed out.
      • Main characters naturally end up with the most page space. If they don’t, you may want to rethink who your story is about, and/or who your most interesting and engaging characters are.
    • Structure: how to rotate through multiple POVs?
      • Rigid structure: characters appear in a certain order
        • This can be done, but I believe it requires detailed outlining and very fine balance of story.
        • I’ve found when I try to write this way, I end up with filler because it’s someone’s “turn” even though they aren’t the ones carrying the dramatic weight of the story in that moment.
      • As-needed
        • I’ve found it’s best to let the story “tell” me who should “speak” next by following the natural tension in the plot and character arcs. If you’re set on having a rigid POV structure, it might be best to relax during the first draft and let things come as they will.
        • You can always rearrange in rewrites.
      • Who should be the POV character in a given scene?
        • Who’s carrying the dramatic weight of that scene? Who is it about?
          • Not who is doing the most action, but who is carrying the dramatic weight. If you have two characters talking and a third who’s silent but about to have a paradigm-shifting realization due to the content of the conversation they’re overhearing, the scene should be from the POV of that third character.
        • Have the character do the thing you need them to do in that moment of storytelling—no more, no less—and move on.
        • Sometimes, you’ll write a scene from one POV and it won’t feel right. There’s nothing wrong with experimenting. If one character doesn’t work, try writing the scene from the perspective of another who is present.
          • However, DO NOT REWRITE THE SAME EVENTS MULTIPLE TIMES IN DIFFERENT POVS. IT WILL COMPLETELY STAGNATE THE FORWARD MOMENTUM OF YOUR STORY.
          • Though if this is the entire structure/point of your story, you can probably pull it off. But just as a random moment in an otherwise chronologically told story, my opinion is don’t do it.

PACING: How to keep the plot moving forward between shifting perspectives.

  • One of the drawbacks of multi-POV stories is that their complexity can lead to lack of clarity. The last thing you want is for your readers to feel lost or confused. Lost readers cannot feel forward momentum in a story. Here are a few ways to keep your story moving smoothly forward:
    • Use chapter breaks when switching voices. If you can’t use chapter breaks, use labeled scene breaks. DO NOT SWITCH BACK AND FORTH WITHIN SCENES, THAT’S HEAD-HOPPING.
    • Keep your timelines absolutely clear. If at all possible (make it possible), somewhere in the first paragraph or two each new POV, establish where and when you are relative to the end of the last point of view so the reader is always oriented within the timeline and geographical space of your story.
  • Make sure that your chain of cause and effect is clear, and that—even though you have different characters narrating—each scene builds on the one that came before. You can do this in a few ways.
    • Logic (we know about the trap the bad guy has set up, now let’s switch to the good guys to see if they fall into it)
    • Theme (we just saw the arrogant character fail and learn something, now let’s switch to the character with low self-esteem succeeding as a foil/reversal)
    • Direct cause and effect (the good guys fell into the trap, now let’s switch to the neutral 3rd party and see how they react when the good guys fail to show).
  • Keep scene and sequel in mind
    • Don’t fall into the trap of having all the scenes in one POV and all the sequels in another, this will make one character’s POV feel inherently more exciting than the others’. Make sure you’re exploring each character in a variety of situations (action, reaction, reflection, etc.)
  • Be clear in your own mind about what each character knows and does not know, as what they do or don’t know affects the way they make decisions, which in turn affects the plot and how it progresses.
    • Great tension can come from readers knowing more than characters do. However, great frustration can come from this, as well. While your characters should only know what they know, make sure they aren’t too dumb to draw obvious conclusions.

 

VOICE: Developing a distinct voice for each character.

  • This can be a huge challenge—perhaps one of the greatest challenges facing writers of multi-POV books, but it goes without saying that readers should not have to flip back to the beginning of the chapter to figure out who’s speaking.
    • When you’re only writing in one perspective, it’s easy to use your natural voice and style, because there’s nothing to compare it to. However, as soon as you have multiple POVs, readers will naturally compare them with each other. I’ve DNF’d more than one book because characters sounded exactly the same.
      • The closer the perspective, the more pressure there is on the author to create a unique voice. A book with a 3rd person omniscient narrator is technically writing from one POV (the narrator’s) and therefore doesn’t need to differentiate.
      • Limited 3rd should show some difference, and close 3rd should show great difference and uniqueness.
      • 1st person—it should ALWAYS feel like there are two distinct people speaking, thinking, etc.
    • Not only is this good writing practice in general, as characters with distinct voices tend to be more fleshed out, but it will help readers keep characters straight in their mind.
  • Read books written in multiple POVs to see a variety of ways they can be done well.
  • Using different perspectives (first or third person) or tenses is one way to differentiate POVs. It’s a strong stylistic choice, and not one I like very much. However, it is an option for those of you who enjoy it.
  • Things to focus on when creating your characters’ voices:
    • Dialect – where were they raised, and how does that affect how they speak?
    • Idiolect – what are some of this person’s particular idiosyncrasies as far as the words they speak, phrases they use, and how they form sentences?
    • Vocabulary – usually reflects intelligence and/or level of education. If a character uses a larger or smaller vocabulary than they should, this can be very telling
    • Gender – typically, gender has a huge impact on how we speak. Women tend to focus on emotions and keeping the balance of power in conversation equal, which means they use a lot of qualifying words and apologies, whereas men seek conversational power and use a lot of declarative sentences without using softening qualifiers.
    • Life experience – where is this person from, what do they like, and what do they do? Imagery and metaphor are often drawn from these, and they can also shape world-view. For example, geography can determine political leanings or what’s considered polite. — NOTE: How this affects voice could be the topic of its own course of study. I suggest you do tons of research and pondering. I just don’t have the space or time to address it here.
    • Remember—every human being inhabits a slightly (or vastly) different world than every other, and that shapes us. Allow your characters take on different shapes based on their world.
  • A couple more tips
    • I’m an auditory person, it helps if I can actually “hear” the voice in my head. Sometimes I’ll pick an existing character from TV or a movie who has a similar voice to the one I’m going for and experiment by trying to write in their voice.
    • We all have a handful of writing quirks we lean on (one of mine is repeating the end of one sentence at the beginning of the next for emphasis, another is listing things in threes). Spread them out between characters.
    • I found a YouTube video with a link to a very helpful source. The video is called “Writing in Multiple Perspectives (Developing Voice).”  She talks in a little more detail about the particulars of creating distinct voice, but even more helpful, in the description there’s a link to a paper which has a list of different aspects of voice to help you develop a distinct one for each character. I’d encourage you to grab one. If you don’t understand the terms used, it’s pretty easy to google the definitions.

REVISION

  • There’s one final thing I want to throw in here before we wrap up, and that’s just a few tips on how to revise a book written in multiple POVs.
    • Color coding is your friend. If you feel like the POV chapters in your story are out of balance, consider listing each scene on a different colored notecard and putting them up on a wall or something. You can see how often each character is getting a POV scene and if the balance needs to be tweaked somehow.
      • Scrivener (a novel-writing software) can help with this, but I find its corkboard feature insufficient for this purpose. I like full-color cards I can move around easily and write all over (also in different colors).
    • Something else I’ve done is print my manuscript and color code the edges of the pages depending on whose scene it was, which gave me a much better visual representation of the page space each person was getting. However, that was expensive and time-consuming, so you may want to only do it as a last resort.
    • Another thing I’ve found very helpful is to sort the manuscript by POV and do an editing pass specifically to make sure that they’re consistent and that the voice is solid.
    • I also do an edit specifically for timeline, to make sure that everything is matching up how it should.

 

So that’s it! Thanks for coming to my class if you were there, and if you’ve stumbled on this post after the fact, I hope it was helpful!

 

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How to Write a Synopsis

This post is for anyone signed up for Plot Chat at Storymakers 2019, but it might be useful for anyone looking to write a synopsis for querying/publishing.

The purpose of a synopsis is to give a solid idea of what your story is about. You should tell the whole story–don’t withhold plot twists or the ending. Basically, it’s a moderately detailed summary (I say moderately because I like it to be no more than two pages). This will help whoever reads it get a feel for your story.

My personal method is to write the synopsis without worrying about length and then cut out details, starting with things that are least important to the understanding of the story’s main plot. You *will* lose some things that feel important in a synopsis this short, but it’s really just about giving the highlights.

Here’s how I format my synopses for my agent and for publishers:

  • Times New Roman 12 point font
  • 1 inch margins
  • Single spaced paragraphs with a full line of white space between each one (like you’d write a business letter)
  • NO indent at the beginning of paragraphs
  • 1-2 pages
  • The first time a character’s name appears, it should be ALL CAPS. After that, just write it normally

Not everyone formats their synopses this way, but I’ve found that it looks neat, and no one has ever complained that I do it wrong. 🙂

Good luck!

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Sexual and Romantic Tension Class

You love romance, right?

Image result for the princess bride kiss

Come on. You love romance. And kissing. Kissing is the best!

If you do love kissing and romance, you should know that the Utah RWA has asked me to teach a four-week online class about how to write sexual and romantic tension! Yay! I taught this class at the LDStorymakers conference in 2015 and it went extremely well. Here’s the description:

Great stories can be written without romance, but for goodness’ sake, why? Romance transcends genre boundaries, adding sparks to everything from epic fantasy to gritty thrillers. One of the keys to a breathtaking love story is sexual tension, but writers often find themselves at a loss when deciding how much is too much (or too little). In this class, learn about the different levels of sexual and romantic tension and how to write it so readers root for your characters’ relationships and fan themselves with the pages of your novel.

This isn’t just for romance writers, it will work for anyone who wants to beef up the romance or sexual tension in their writing! Adult or Young Adult, fantasy/sci-fi to thrillers, it applies across the board.

The class is $20 for RWA members and $25 for non-RWA members, and that’s for an entire month! Well, four weeks. Still, compared to the price of attending a writing conference or taking a college course, it’s a pretty great deal. Plus it’s online, so you can participate in your sweatpants from the comfort of your own home! I’m working hard to make sure everyone can get something from the course, from beginners to experienced, published authors. The class is independent study, so there won’t be a set time that you have to drop everything and attend (though I am toying with the idea of doing a few live videos so we can interact).

If you aren’t familiar with my and my qualifications, my name is Caitlyn McFarland. I’ve been reading romance novels since I was thirteen. Also, I have three fantasy/romance novels published with Carina Press, an imprint of Harlequin (you know, those people who publish the romances with Fabio on the cover). You can find those here and everywhere else ebooks are sold.

If you like the sound of me and my class, you can register here!

Do it. For the kissing.

Image result for romeo + juliet kiss

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Some Shakespeare Sunday

A little bit of Shakespeare for all of my creative friends, who work so hard to capture the enormity of life in the small mirrors of page, stage, or other medium. Happy Easter!

O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
Assume the port of Mars; and at his heels,
Leash’d in like hounds, should famine, sword and fire
Crouch for employment. But pardon, and gentles all,
The flat unraised spirits that have dared
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
So great an object: can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?
O, pardon! since a crooked figure may
Attest in little place a million;
And let us, ciphers to this great accompt,
On your imaginary forces work.
Suppose within the girdle of these walls
Are now confined two mighty monarchies,
Whose high upreared and abutting fronts
The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder:
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Into a thousand parts divide on man,
And make imaginary puissance;
Think when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i’ the receiving earth;
For ’tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
Carry them here and there; jumping o’er times,
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass: for the which supply,
Admit me Chorus to this history;
Who prologue-like your humble patience pray,
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.

Prologue, King Henry the Fifth

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Author Truths

I posted a medium-sized writing rant on Facebook and my friend asked me to post it here, so I did. I tweaked it. And I added gifs. Because that’s what I do. Enjoy!

I get asked writing and publishing advice on a pretty regular basis. I love to help where I can. Really. Helping other writers is one of my favorite things. But I can’t count the number of times someone has asked for advice and then shrugged it off. I write books for money (not a lot, but I’m working on it). I have a literary agent. I’m traditionally published. If you ask for my advice, listen!

But because they won’t, the burden falls, my hapless readers, on you. Here are a few truths about writing and publishing people don’t love to hear:

1) Most authors don’t make enough money to quit their day jobs.

meme artist crying money poor

2) You aren’t just going to write a novel with no training/practice and make money. In fact, the odds are slim that you’ll make money at all. See #1. Writing fiction will NOT make you rich quick.

3) Your first novel will likely not be published, because your first novel is terrible.

tv excited good computer new girl

No it isn’t, Nick. No it isn’t.

Sorry, fact of life. If you have an idea for a story you just know will be your magnum opus, write something else first so you have some clue what the heck you’re doing. Or two or three something elses.

4) You MUST read. If you don’t take the time to read, both in and out of your genre, both classics and new releases, your writing will be out of touch and/or out of date and/or your story concept will have been done a million times. Which you would know. If you read.

book read beauty and the beast

5) Research fiction writing before/during/after you write your book. In fact, never stop. Keep learning. Just because you can write papers for school does not mean you can put together a coherent piece of fiction, let alone a compelling one. So take a class or start Googling.

6) Your spouse/mom/bff is great for encouragement, but is not going to give you adequate feedback on a professional level. You need to meet other writers.

7) Go to writing conferences. I’m not kidding. Yes, they cost money. But take it from someone who understands money struggles: the cost is worth it.

8) If you want to be a professional writer, you MUST master basic grammar.

meryl streep writing english grammar bane of my existence

Your story might be fantastic, but there are a lot of people out there who have good grammar AND write fantastic stories. Agents would rather represent those people. Editors would rather buy books from those people. Be one of those people.

9) Don’t take too long to write your story.

writing

Authors who actually support themselves generally write one or more books per year.

10) If you want to be published by a large publisher, you need a literary agent. Large publishers won’t even look at a manuscript unless it’s sent to them by an agent. Small publishers will, but it’s also a good idea to have a literary agent when you work with them to make sure you don’t get screwed. If you’ve made it this far into this post, are interested in publishing, and don’t know about agents, you get them through a process called querying. Google it.

If you have any questions about writing or publishing that I haven’t covered here, feel free to ask.

rant end rant rant over

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Romance, Fun, and Princesses

So, I should be writing right now. Really. I need to write. But I was cruising Twitter, as one does when one is staggering beneath the weight of a quickly-closing deadline, and I saw a tweet that basically said this:

“Heroes in romantic stories are wealthier than their girlfriends because if the girl is self-reliant she could dump her man and people who read romance have smallish minds and like it when women are dependent on men.”

RealityTVGIFs snl saturday night live drinking real housewives

That’s not what the tweet said, obviously. Too many characters. But that’s what it said to me, and this isn’t the first time I’ve heard it. I’ve actually been thinking about this lately: common tropes in romance, why they exist, and why people think it makes them look enlightened to make fun of them.

I mean, it’s 2017, right? Women can be powerful and wealthy. Women can fulfill themselves. Women can save themselves! You won’t find any damsels here, sir. As you can see, I am clearly wearing pants. And I am wearing them well.

flip trick pants

This is not an all-encompassing post about society’s current relationship with romance readers and the tropes they love. But I feel like the writer of this tweet is missing the point of this particular idea, and I wanted to address it.

Giving a female character a wealthy love interest isn’t about her self-actualization or independence, and it definitely isn’t about female readers not wanting those things. Women don’t read and write books with scrappy working-class heroines and wealthy men because we have tiny minds and can only imagine ourselves as the barnacle on some rich dude’s yacht of life. We read them because we’re scrappy working-class heroines, and it’s fun to take a couple of hours and imagine how nice it would be to fall for someone who showers us with paid bills and financial security.

That’s it. There is no deeper meaning.

Image result for no diving sign

For me, this relates strongly to the cultural movement that has declared heroines in fairy tales stupid and useless in the sense that, for some reason, we don’t think of princesses as strong, independent, capable women. “Don’t be the princess, be the hero.” First of all, I won’t even address what that says about devaluing femininity because it will make me angry. Second, those princesses are the heroes, that’s why the stories are named after them. No one had a problem with them also being heroes until someone pretended those words were mutually exclusive.Third, you know what women in fairy tales did? Whatever the heck it took to get them out of that nasty scullery. And they succeeded. Wildly.  Because back when these stories were written, there was no option for, “And then she got the promotion to Senior VP of Marketing and lived happily ever after the end.”

movies deal with it sunglasses the devil wears prada business woman

An ending for the ages.

Relative to most women, princesses and queens held positions of power, authority, and respect. Fairy tale heroines literally climbed the quality-of-life ladder to its top rung (or climbed back up after being knocked to the bottom, in the case of the ones born royal). Don’t try to tell me they were hauled up there by the prince just because they were pretty. I’ve owned a copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales since I was eight. They went through hell first. Nobody in those stories is happy until they’ve suffered. Those princesses earned their happy ending. Are the cultural values that made marriage to a powerful man the only way to improve their lives problematic? Yes. But that sounds like society’s problem, not the problem of women who pwned society and took their power anyway.

John Williams Waterhouse, “Lancelot and Guinevere”

It’s kind of twisted, when you think about it. Princesses (aka the epitome of femininity) have been made a joke and a scapegoat. Can we not? Because it’s possible to be feminine and all the other things we want to be: intelligent, hardworking, creative, assertive, and wealthy enough to never need the financial support of a man.

Anyway.

Tropes in romance and fairy tales aren’t evidence that people who enjoy them are backwards or small-minded. They’re evidence that everyone needs an escape from a hard life. They’re evidence that those stories–the stories where the characters aren’t financially secure, no matter how hard they try–are stories a lot of women can see themselves in, and have seen themselves in for hundreds of years. They’re evidence that, hey, most people would be cool if their financial burdens were suddenly lifted by someone sexy who loves them.

Personally, I don’t find it enlightened to mock women (or men) who enjoy this trope. Then again, the bandwagon of intellectual smugness has never been my favorite ride.

Life is hard. It’s okay to dream the dreams that make you happy in your downtime. It’s okay for some things to just be fun.

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Speed Write Your Novel

Today I taught a class  called “Speed Write Your Novel” at LTUE, and a few people requested the slides. Here you go! Personal use only, please. Thank you to everyone who attended! This is the third class I’ve taught on writing and I really loved it.

In class, we had some great ideas for sites/apps/etc. people use to help them be accountable, increase their word count, or keep their inspiration handy. If you didn’t get to comment in class or you know of a really great website/app/community (or have anything else helpful to add) please include it in a comment on this post.

Talking to you today inspired me to finish my own WIP, so I’m going to go write!

Best of luck, everyone!

Image result for may the odds be ever in your favor katniss

 

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Cover Reveal! “The Hundredth Queen” by Emily R. King

Hey! It’s been a while. A long, long while. But one of my goals for 2017 is to get back in touch with the internet, and what better way to kick it off than with the cover reveal for a book you’ll all want to read?

The Hundredth Queen, the debut of my agency sister, Emily R. King, will hit virtual shelves on June 1st of this year. If you like YA fantasy, you’re not going to want to miss it! Check out the back cover copy:

As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda’s only hope for escape lies in an arcane, forbidden power that’s buried within her.

In Emily R. King’s thrilling fantasy debut, an orphan girl blossoms into a warrior, summoning courage and confidence in her fearless quest to upend tradition, overthrow an empire, and reclaim her life as her own.

Sounds good, yes? And it comes in such a pretty package!

TA DA!

the-hundredth-queen

Congrats, Emily! I can’t wait to get my hands on it, and I’m excited to see what you do next!

 

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Judge the Judges: Sample PitchSlam Entry

Image result for stars

Hey guys! I’m helping out with PitchSlam again this year. Seriously, reading the slush and discovering up-and-coming writers is one of my favorite things. You’ve gotten our feedback, and now it’s time for revenge. 😀 Kim has written a marvelous introductory post here, so go check that out. She’s also got links to several other team member’s entries.

While I find this a bit nerve-wracking, I also look forward to sharing my own stuff, because nothing helps me improve like good feedback. In the past I think I’ve posted the beginnings of books that are already published, so I knew no matter what people said they couldn’t actually be that bad. This is a brand-spanking-new unfinished WIP. These pages have only been seen by two of my alpha-readers (and are currently awaiting feedback from betas). And the title is a working title, as I don’t really settle on a name for my books until they’re finished.

Anyway, it wouldn’t be fair if I told you more (though my nervous desire to ramble is strong), because it’s not like you get to tell the judges or agents more. So, without further ado, here it is!

NOTE: I  am blog-ican’t change the font to Times New Roman without changing the font of my entire blog. But YOUR entry MUST be in 12 point Times New Roman.

Name: Caitlyn McFarland

Genre: YA Fantasy

Title: ZODIAC

Word Count: 75,000

If your main character could be any Star Wars character, who would they choose and why?: Evangeline would be Han Solo–so cocky she’s clearly overcompensating for something. Piper would be Rey, because she hasn’t quite come to terms with her own power.

35 Word Pitch: Seventeen-year-old Zodiac Guardians Piper and Evangeline are closer than sisters—they’re blood-bound warriors. When they capture the man whose death will abolish dark magic, Piper’s empathy and Evangeline’s ambition could tear them—and Earth—apart.

First 250 Words: 

Piper glared at the diamond points of starlight that dulled and faded in the quickening sky. A purple gleam flashed across the eastern horizon, the angle of the not-yet-risen sun catching the energy of the darklight shield where it arched over the stratosphere.

A hook of longing set in her chest and dragged at her as the stars disappeared. She wished they would stay gone. Or undergo some sort of cosmic shift while they were out of sight. If a catastrophic event knocked the constellation Leo out of place, maybe the power granted by the unlucky timing of her birth would disappear. Maybe she’d become an ordinary. Find the family she’d been taken from at less than a year old.

Be normal.

Normal, Evangeline’s voice was in her head, affectionate and mocking. You don’t want normal, Pi-face. You just think you do.

Piper wrinkled her nose and leaned through an open window into the back seat of the Jeep, knocking empty water bottles, chip bags, and a pair of Evangeline’s dirty jeans off the tan upholstery to the floor. She extracted the crumpled paper from the pocket of a denim jacket—stashed purposefully at the bottom of the pile—and leaned against the dusty white door.

Mountainridge University marched across the top of the page in stern, gray caps. Piper smoothed out the pamphlet on the leg of her torn jeans, then peeled it open, keeping her back to the truck stop where Evangeline was grabbing caffeine and ice.

 

That’s it! Please leave your crits in the comments and hop back to Kim’s blog for more links!

P.S. Today is the one-year anniversary of the release of book #2 in my trilogy, SHADOW OF FLAME!

Shadow of Flame Final

To celebrate, here’s a link to #1, SOUL OF SMOKE! It’s only $1.49. If you like fantasy and romance, check it out!

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WriteType CP Match

**The WriteType CP Match is over and all of the entries have been removed. If you were part of the event and need information from a post or a comment, please feel free to send me an email. Thank you so much to everyone who participated! If you’re looking for a critique partner, please follow this blog or find me on Twitter (@CHMcFarland) so you’ll know when we’re organizing our next event. At this time, we plan on doing another match-up in December 2016.**

 

Hi guys!

You know what my favorite thing is? Expensive chocolate.

music dancing jennifer lopez jlo nodding

Do you know what my other favorite thing is?

CRITIQUE PARTNERS!!

reaction happy party birthday excited

That’s why my friends and I are hosting the WriteType CP Match! We do it twice a year,  and one of those times is RIGHT NOW. If you don’t have a critique partner and think you need one (HINT: YOU DO), check out the official blog here and the instruction post here. The more entries we have, the more likely you are to get matched with the CP that will help you make all your dreams come true. You don’t have to have a finished manuscript, you just have to be a writer!

Go forth and submit!

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