Catherine Stine's IDEA CITY

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Saturday, March 31, 2012

A to Z Challenge! On AWARDS

Today is the start of the A to Z Challenge! It's my first time, so I hope I can pace myself. I'm #1157 in the lineup-yow! I'll talk about something fun today-AWARDS! You know you love them. So you want to concentrate on your writing, and honing your story so it sings and has razor-edge tension. And you're not supposed to concentrate on perks like getting reviews and readers and peer recognition. But an award doesn't hurt, does it? I'll never forget in my junior year of high school, getting the creative writing award and standing up on that stage, my knobby knees knocking; and later, getting my first NYPL Best Book for Teens award for Refugees, which carried me through difficult writing times and revision h*ll.
So, yeah, concentrate on crafting three-dimensional characters and a strong story, but don't forget to award yourself a pat on the back, or throw a party to celebrate that first finished draft.

Speaking of awards, I'm going to do some award-giving right now!
I'm feeling extra generous today, so... drum roll please.... the TWO winners of my free 25-page YA sci-fi manuscript evaluation are Margo Rowder and Debbie Davies!
Can't wait to read your pieces! (Send 'em as doc or docx attachments)

Freaky Hybrid Award
Now for my 2nd round of awards! The Freaky Hybrid Awards go to... (Told you I was feeling generous) Three creative thinkers from my last Fireseed Tour stop at Wistful Nebulae where we played Hybrid Mashups:
1. Allan Douglas for his genetically engineered trees that when planted in a pattern grow into a building that would be self-repairing!
2. SUZE for her new kind of "YEAR OF" mashup, with the year of the Bioengineering, Year of Self-Reproducing Automata, and Year of Neural Implant Connectivity
3. Misha Gericke for a chocolate and veggie hybrid that allows one to get the vitamins while indulging a chocolate fix!
What's been your most meaningful award so far? Most prized achievement? Gift to yourself for reaching a challenging goal? Favorite award you've given out to another person? A to Zers and everyone else, let's hear yours!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hunger Games Mash Up

I have not yet seen the Hunger Games (completely sold out over the weekend in NYC!!!), but I've been reading lots of posts and articles about the film. I wanted to post something I haven't already seen on blogs, so to start, here's a quote from Suzanne Collins on how the idea for THG first came to her: 
"One night I'm sitting there, flipping around and on one channel there's a group of young people competing for, I don't know, money maybe? And on the next, there's a group of young people fighting an actual war. And I was tired, and the lines began to blur in this very unsettling way, and I thought of this story."
Pretty random, huh? You never know what wild mashups your brain might create when it's zonked on TV alpha vibes, or generally woozy from exhaustion. Next, Collins spoke about her late start in writing fiction:
"Prose is full of many challenges and unexplored territory for me because I came to it later in my life... I've been scriptwriting for 27 years and books for maybe 10 years now. I think I started the first Gregor book, Gregor the Overlander, when I was 38."

Then I read a rather critical post from GS Prendergast, a blogger who thought that although THG was a brave book in dealing with oppression, it was curiously lacking in the type of sexual coercion which would likely occur in such a dystopia. Read her post for yourself and give me your take on this: The Asexual Politics of the Hunger Games. She also added this statement, which definitely gets one thinking: "Youth exploited by a violent movie event based on a book about youth exploited in a violent media event."

Did you feel at all guilty, secretly rooting for the death of Katniss' opponents? I do see Prendergast's point, yet I didn't mind that the book had little mention of sex--the stakes were just too darn high for rolling around in the underbrush!The last thing that caught my eye was actually written in 2009, by Kayley Hyde, a teen who won Scholastic's essay contest on THG. The essay question? How would you survive the Hunger Games? The answer? Read her entry. Her grand prize? A trip to New York to have lunch with Suzanne Collins. Not bad!

Seeing Katniss bowing up on all of the promo posters, I was bummed by one realization--A main character in my coming sequel to Fireseed One is a master archer (Armonk, who in Book One goes around shooting arrows). So, I just hope that archers aren't played out by the time I finish it!
Anyway, I intend to see the film asap and I'll post my review soon.

My next post will announce the winner of my free 25-page YA sci-fi manuscript critique!
In the meantime, I'd love to hear your opinion of Prendergast's THG post. And, in the spirit of Kelsey's smart essay, what strategy would YOU craft to win THG? Also, when do you get your best ideas? Have you ever gotten them when you're zonked out in front of the TV?

Monday, March 19, 2012

25-page YA Sci-fi Ms Eval Giveaway Plus Games!!!

What do you get if you mix the genomes of Sponge Bob and P Diddy? A sponge man with a porkpie hat and huge street cred! This is the game we're playing over at my last tour stop on Wistful Nebulae, and the prize for the best transgenic mash-up? Gotta hop over and play to find out!

I really like M Pax's stories because, for now, we are both obsessed with organic genomes. Take her Plant Girl, for instance. Yes, nano tech brain implants are cool, and wrist embeds that scan credit cards like the one Shin Kaskade has in Fireseed One are hip, but so is pharming, and the science of plant hybrids. More on this in a future post with the winner of our game.

During my Fireseed One tour, I found that there was great interest in my manuscript critique giveways.  I am also a freelance editor in addition to writing. So, in celebration of today's last tour stop, I am offering a free 25-page manuscript evaluation of a fresh YA sci fi read. Just email me at kitsy84557 (at) gmail (dot) com with the heading 25-page YA SCIFI EVAL, and you might be the lucky winner! You'll score extra Brownie points if you LIKE the Fireseed One Facebook page, and follow this blog.

Blue roses are all transgenic
Happy spring, and grow some black tulips and blue roses in those window boxes, m 'kay?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cool Science Fiction Fodder and Windup Tour Stops

John C in Silly Toga
Let's start with something funny, shall we? Has anyone seen the John Carter flick? Did you like it? I haven't seen it (yet... Netflix anyone) though I do love Mars and anything Mars related. Of all the planets, I'd most like to set a story on Mars. And I  probably will. But back to John Carter. It totally failed at the box office. I have my theories.

First off, the title gives no insight whatsoever into the movie's subject. Sounds like Carter's diapers and baby clothes! Secondly, those posters just didn't cut it. The actor looks super-goofy in his leather toga out of C or D list Central Casting. Though I do kind of like those toothy monsters. Here are official theories as to why JC was box office arsenic:

The first is from io9, a fun blog I follow that has sci-fi news: here
The second, comes from the online Media section of the New York Times. The article is Ishtar Lands on Mars, and it also profiles other hilarious box office disasters, including Ishtar, starring Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman.

Next for your reading pleasure is the amazing and exhaustive list of sci-fi reads that Margo Berendsen put together. She actually took the time to break it all down into themes, here

Now, for some good news, Fireseed One earned two 5-star reviews! One from Paige at Comfort Books, the other from Alex, at Electrifying Reviews, and a really nice one from Sheri at Writers' Ally!

And there's still time to win an autographed, illustrated copy over at Writers' Ally

Also, A Still and Quiet Madness hosted me for a wrestling match: Fireseed characters, Marisa and Varik Duke it Out! Stop by and weigh in on who you think won the round.

And lastly, on Monday, March 19th, the Fireseed One tour ends on a much-admired blog, Wistful Nebulae, where I guest post about freaky, future hybrids. There is an unusual prize to be had for commenting, so venture over on Monday. And while you're at it, why not download one of M Pax's lyrical, otherworldly stories.

Before you leave, don't forget to reveal what you think about John Carter, or any other really, really BAD sci-fi movie!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Another chance to win a 10-page Manuscript Critique & How Sketches Lead to New Worlds

There was such a great response over at Writer's Ally to the 10-page manuscript critique giveaway that I'm offering another 10-page ms critique giveaway! After all, I've been teaching creative writing and evaluating manuscripts in addition to writing for years! So, for the next eight days, Parafantasy is offering a giveaway option between a 10-page manuscript critique and a free eBook for the Fireseed tour stop! Ezmirelda also gave Fireseed One a wonderful review, which made my week!

YA's the Word!
Katja Weinert, the fabulous blogger at YA's the Word, is also offering an eBook giveaway as part of the Fireseed One tour! So please, hop over and show her some love. You can read about how my clunky, early sketches and characters from 15 years ago, morphed into Fireseed's illustrations and characters.

For those who have a burning desire to get a ms critique and who do not win any giveaway, keep in mind that I am offering a 10-percent discount on ms evals, through the end of October '12 to anyone who comments on my blog tour, who follows Idea City or Likes the Fireseed facebook page. (You'd send an inquiry email with EVAL in the subject line to kitsy84557 (at) gmail (dot) com).
Here is my latest comment from a happy client whose middle grade novel I worked on:
"I don't know how you find what you find, but you find it and I'm so grateful!" -Martha K.

Have a fun weekend! What are you up to?

Monday, March 5, 2012

My Inappropriate Teen Crushes for Heartthrob Hop Plus Tour Stops

Today, March 7th, I'm guest posting on Lessons I Learned on the Path to Publication, over at Adventures in YA and Children's Publishing. Come read my checklist of hard-earned lessons and how I applied them. Right here!

On another note, Sarah over at Falen Formulates Fiction and her cohorts Emily White and Vic Caswell came up with the hilarious Teenage Heartthrob Bloghop where you describe seven of your teen crushes, however inappropriate. Most of mine fit into this category! And I'm not doing TV stars because our TV was broken for five years until my brother kicked it and it started working again. It's real people, folks. Names withheld to protect the guilty.

1. My dreamy English teacher who looked like Faulkner. He had sly green eyes, shiny black hair like Adam Lambert and big lips like Billy Idol. He taught The Moviegoer and other modernist tomes, and I attended a writers’ group in his living room, where I wrote sappy poetry. He broke off his marriage to have an affair with the gym teacher.
My English Teacher had Adam L's HAIR

William Faulkner
2. The dorky sales guy at the pharmacy up the street, 10 years my senior, but who asked me out on a date anyway. When he came to the door my mother let him have it! “Do you know how old my daughter is?” she bellowed. He shrugged and surely rued the day he ever spoke to me. “She’s twelve!” she answered and closed the door in his face. Good Mama bear.

3. The preacher’s playboy son, who was totally remote and sardonic. I’d see him talking with one of my English teachers and sigh longingly. His sister used to pick me up in her dad’s Rolls Royce (What's a minister doing with a RR?!) and we’d go eat French Fries at the neighborhood dive. When she found out I had a crush on her brother, she was furious. Hey, it wasn’t as if I had any control over my feelings.

4. A fellow art major who painted a Vermeer-esque portrait of me. This intense and soulful guy pursued me. Then when I came running, he fled for his life! I took it personally at first, but it turned out he was gay.  Not only did he paint, he crafted silver jewelry, and did gossamer drawings of street people. We ruled the art room, and we’re still friendly after all of these years. He's the chair of the furniture design department, get it?

5 & 6. My best friend’s two older brothers (so this counts as two). From kindergarten on, I hung out 24/7 at their house. One of the brothers kept owls in his closet, lizards in his basement and a goat in the back yard. The other was a great dancer, and collector of R&B. He had an entire room floor to ceiling of vinyl. I had crushes on both guys when I was a teen. Later, I realized it was all confused with the feeling that they were really like beloved brothers.

7. The pretty-boy neurotic with wispy blond hair and black trooper boots. I met him through a friend. He was model thin, and wore long, fey scarves and aviator shades. He had a b*tchin’ sports car, and drove like a demon on Red Bull. I kept begging him to slow down whenever he drove. Sure enough, he showed up at my school one day, wigged out of his mind. He had driven so fast that he’d wrapped his car around a highway guardrail.  I took him to my house and made him hot chocolate, but that was the end of us.

What was your most inappropriate teen crush?
Before you answer that (and I would love to hear your answer), here are my next two tour stops:

guest posted on plots and chapter hooks over at Seeing Creative on Monday, March 5th. Hopefully, I demystified these two very important aspects of crafting the novel. Click here to hop over for a quick read.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Publishing Articles of Note & Giveaways

There are two articles of note about publishing that anyone interested in the matter should read. The first is Nathan Bransford's post that asks a question that fired a heated debate, Are Publishers Plagued by a Perception Problem? The second article of note is Anthony Horowitz's Guardian piece, Do We Still Need Publishers? He is droll. And he's not hard on the eyes. Okay, tacky, but I know this will occur to you when you see his photo. Have you read his Alex Ryder series?

*Harrumph. Hides blush* Onto another topic, some really hot Fireseed One tour stops that have giveaways that are worth popping over to! We love to support great bloggers who host us, don't we? So, make sure to leave a comment.

Today, at The Magick Pen, Austine asked me for tips to writers. She also wanted me to reveal the sad secret inspiration behind Fireseed--because stories are born of beauty AND pain, and this one's no exception. We're giving away one eBook and one illustrated collectable paperback. So, go show Austine some love, and check out the prettiest blog banner EVER, right here.

Wednesday's stop was on Bree's Magic Attic, where she encouraged me to create a fantasy film score for Fireseed One. The result? A futuristic, electro, alt-ish mix that makes one's imagination trip out on future scenarios. I give my musical son credit too, as we both put this together. He turned me on to Clint Mansell, for instance, who had a great track for Pi, and did the soundtrack of Requiem for a Dream. The swag? We are giving away two Fireseed CDs to the lucky winner: enter here! This giveaway is active through March 15th. 

Thursday, March 1st I guest posted about YA sci-fi trends over at Susan Kaye Quinn's blog! Come join the conversation and post to win a free eBook of Fireseed! This giveaway is active through Sunday, March 4th at midnight, so don't delay.

Also on Thursday, The Review Girl, a virtual blog jump across the pond to the UK, interviewed me. Enter to win our eBook giveaway! This one is open through March 11th!

There you have it for now! Now, tell me what's up with you on your way out.