Friday, February 20, 2015

Revised Query

Thank you to everyone who stopped by to comment on my query during Michelle Hauck's and Amy Trueblood's blog hop. The hop is still open for another day, so join in if you would like your query, pitch, and first page critiqued.

Here is my revised query, in case anyone is interested. All comments are appreciated, and if you leave me a link to your query in the comments, I'll return the favor.


Seventeen-year-old Sophia de Paula sings like a rainforest bird, but her most marriageable quality is her Peetanguara decent. The so-called Easterner nobility wed red wives to recruit native laborers for the sugarcane fields, and Sophia’s fair, noble cousin needs her in order to claim the family barony. But she would rather drown like her brother than marry someone who keeps trying to take her by force.

When her native grandmother entreats her to awaken Ig, the Water Goddess, and save the native tribes from the conquering Easterners, Sophia leaps at the chance to flee her controlling Easterner relatives. No one has seen Ig for fifty years, since the fair invaders arrived from across the sea. But, disappointingly, the Goddess Sophia awakens turns out to be more interested in Easterner fashion than the devastation of the rainforest and the tribes.

Apart from bestowing water-controlling powers on Sophia, Ig’s advice is to seek another deity, a powerful Goddess no one knew existed, and ask her to bring peace to the land once and for all. Ig’s quest will send Sophia deep into the rainforest the Easterners keep burning, and if she doesn’t succeed, marriage to her cousin will be the least of her worries. If she fails, Sophia’s tribal relatives will perish at the hands of the conquerors who married into her family.

SHROUDED GODDESS is a 68,000 word YA fantasy set in a world that mirrors South America during the Portuguese colonization of the sixteenth century. With Avatar waterbending in the rainforest, this story will appeal to fans of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Query Blog Hop

I'm joining the query critique blog hop hosted by Michelle Hauck and Amy Trueblood. Any comments are appreciated.

Genre: YA fantasy
Word Count: 68,000

35-word pitch: When Sophie, a seventeen-year-old of half-tribal descent, awakens the Water Goddess, she needs to use her new water-controlling powers to pacify both sides of her family, before her Easterner uncle kills off the rainforest tribes.


Seventeen-year-old Sophia de Paula sings like a rainforest bird. She yearns for the close-knit families the local tribes enjoyed before the blond Easterners invaded from across the sea. But given her mixed descent, Sophie spends her days disguising her tribal heritage and fending off her noble cousin's groping.

To escape a forced marriage to her cousin, Sophie decides to flee with her childhood friend, even though her uncle rewarded Gavin's marriage aspirations to Sophie by publicly flogging him and executing his father for treason. But before they can leave her family’s sugarcane plantation, Sophie sings awake the Water Goddess who disappeared after the invasion. A Goddess who turns out to be more interested in Easterner fashion than what Sophie’s uncle is doing to the rainforest and the tribes.

Apart from bestowing water-controlling powers on Sophie, the deity’s advice is to seek help elsewhere. Now Sophie can’t just hide from her family and live a peaceful life with Gavin. Either she uses her new powers to confront the Easterners, or she seeks another Goddess, one nobody knew existed, and convinces her to bring peace to a land with more scars than Sophie’s uncle can lash out onto those who oppose him.

SHROUDED GODDESS is a 67,000 word YA fantasy set in a world that mirrors South America during the Portuguese colonization of the sixteenth century. With Avatar waterbending in the rainforest, this story will appeal to fans of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy.

First 250 words: 

I unlock my bedroom door with a hairpin and sneak out as soon as the hallway empties of gossiping maids and Uncle Hector's spies. Harp notes and laughter drift in the air from the festivities downstairs. But mingling with the drunken nobility without my grandmother’s protection will only get me married to my cousin by morning.

At the thought of Victor catching me alone by an alcove, my heartbeats fall off tempo with the secular music coming from the dining hall. I tighten the bows on my dress and try to ease the wild drumming in my chest. All I need is the unfinished tapestry I left in Aryeea’s room, to distract me so I won’t feel like a prisoner in my own home.

Flickering candlelight frames the doorway of my grandmother’s chamber, and I squeeze through the narrow opening to avoid announcing my presence with creaking hinges. Eyes closed and ocher-colored hands folded over her chest, Aryeea seems at peace on the four-poster bed my grandfather brought from across the sea. She’s only half the Baroness I knew in my childhood, but her dark hair is still as black as mine. Tribal blood pumps strong in our veins, no matter what we do to disguise our descent.

She’s so still. My throat constricts. The thought of never seeing my only ally again brings me shivers on this warm winter night. I’ll even miss the snapped orders she flings at me all day long.

“Sophia, stop viewing me. I’m not dead.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas writing song

It's been a while since I made up song lyrics, so this contest at MSFV was the prompt I needed. Here is my writer's version of Jingle Bells for your enjoyment:

Dashing through the words
On a newly open doc,
Over the keys I go
So many things amok.
Cell on tabletop rings,
Ignoring it I sigh,
What fun it is to write a sin-
gin' manuscript tonight!

Delete this, Delete there,
Change it all the way.
Oh! what fun it is to write
On another open page.
Typin' here, typin' there,
Typin' all the way.
Oh! what fun it is to write
On another open page.

A day plus two ago,
I thought I'd swallow pride.
Nowhere my trusty muse,
Was seated by my side.
The story lean and lank,
To be trunked seemed its lot.
I got stuck and my mood sank,
And nothing seemed upshot.

A month or two ago,
The story I need'd tell
I typed faster than slow,
'Fore in a slump I fell.
No words came zooming by
On the empty open page,
My muse taken for a lie,
Scenes quickly died away.

Now the page is white
And the night is young,
Put the words in sight
and hum this writin' song.
Just get a cup of tea,
No more block to fend,
My muse shines just for me,
And smack! I'll type the end.

Check out the other holiday songs writers came up with on the MSFV blog. I found the lyrics for Jingle Bells here, and you can read my other lyrics here. If you like the nail artwork, the Jamberry wraps are called Newspaper and Reindeer Games.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

10 Books

My brother tagged me on this meme... I guess that's what little brothers are for.
Here is my list of 10 books that have stayed with me. The instructions said to "only take a few minutes and don't think too hard. They don't have to be the "right" kind of books or great works of literature, just books that have affected you in some way." It took me about 30 minutes, but most of the time was spent reminiscing about the memories associated with those books. 

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien (made me want to write fantasy)
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (This novel showed me there can be women in fantasy, and they don't always get to make good choices)
The Princess Bride by William Goldman (a love story to die for, repeatedly)
The Republic by Plato (When I first fell in love with philosophy, and the inspiration for my sci-fi world)
Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder (Best history of philosophy I've ever read)
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (How I would love to really get lost in a book)
Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd (The novel I started 5 times but could never finish... premise isn't everything)
Memorias Postumas de Bras Cuba by Machado de Assis (My favorite Brazilian author. This book made me think that reflecting on your mistakes is what the afterlife is all about)
Capitaes de Areia by Jorge Amado (Heartbreaking, but you gotta play with the cards you're dealt)
A Ilha Perdida by Maria Jose Dupre (Not much to the story on a superficial level, but there can be a lot of symbolism in children's books. A friend and I spent a whole night analyzing this for a test that was way easier than the teacher threatened.)

Post your list if you feel like it and leave me a comment with a link if you do. I'd love to see the books that affected you the most.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

From start to finish

Finishing my first novel showed me I could write one. I had started thinking about the characters ten years before I decided there was more to their story than the few pages I wrote in my college journal. But with real life getting in the way, it took me another five years to gather my notes and understand the science fiction world that became Demia. Then I needed another year to feel the courage to show it to my family, and another to ask for critiques from strangers. The two years I spent revising the novel, in response to many rounds of constructive criticism, made me realize I cared about the project. And that I could be a writer.

The Legacy of the Eye still isn't perfect, but I decided to give it a rest. I spent the last year writing something completely different and I discovered that I could fall in love with this new world just as easily as I fell for Demia and the rest of the Tetracoil Galaxy. And that these new characters talking in the back of my mind could feel like family to me, just like David and Catrine.

My fantasy novel Shrouded Goddess is finished and awaiting another round of critiques. The feedback I've received so far is very encouraging, much more than for Demia. Part of the interest, I think, is because Shrouded Goddess is set in a world that mirrors colonial South America during the Portuguese settlements of the sixteenth century. Not the typical medieval fantasy world. Moreover, my novel focuses on the indigenous custom of accepting strangers into the community by marriage, and how the settlers exploited the native family values to recruit laborers, which I don't believe is a common subject either.

My excitement is growing with each round of revisions. And there are now new characters whispering in the back of my mind...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Green paint and sadness

Last night I came home to bright green paint splattered all over the clothes in the dryer. Not uniformly dyed like the pink spacesuit from the "Despicable Me" movie; a crap-hit-the-fan kind of mess. One of the soccer jerseys my dad brought back from Brazil was the culprit, but throwing the offending shirt in the trash did not prevent the tears I needed to shed.

Dada's response was to buy new ones. But these were the new ones--mine, his, and the kid's. I at least had to try to wash off the stains and maybe recover some of them, because I knew I wasn't crying over a dryer mishap. My father-in-law is dying. His speedy deterioration over the past few months has tugged at everyone's heartstrings. But just as it is a lot easier to focus my emotions on imaginary characters whose fate is at the tip of my fingers, it is also safer to cry over spilled milk and paint stains, which are much less overwhelming.

This morning most of the clothes had lost their offending green streaks. Not all of them, so I wouldn't be tempted to rescue the conniving jersey from the trash bin. This means I will be looking for other silly everyday catastrophes to unburden the pain welled up inside me. I cannot mourn a loved one still with us; those tears have to wait.