Writer Spotlight - Faith Elizabeth Hough

Meet writer, Faith Elizabeth Hough
  I'm so excited and honored to have Faith Elizabeth Hough as my very first spotlighted writer! YAY. Welcome, Faith.
As mentioned in an earlier post, the purpose of this and future interviews is to give unagented, pre-published uber awesome writers, like Faith here, another venue in which to showcase themselves, their manuscript(s), and their writing styles.

1. Faith, what manuscript do you have out on submission now?

I'm seeking representation for my older YA historical fiction manuscript THE WITHERING VINE (50,000 words).

2. Can you give us a short pitch?

Genevieve yearns for a home; she's made her lodging in bloody butcher shops and dusty streets of Medieval France, but never known a place where she belongs. At sixteen, she is under the care of Antoine and Colette, the owners of a vineyard in the south of France, and though she seeks to make a place for herself amidst their rows of vines and within their hearts, the vines are failing and their hearts are cold. It takes the companionship of vines, the friendship of a feisty nun, the quiet love of an injured soldier—but most of all the secrets held in a mysterious hidden manuscript—to help Jenny find her place and find herself.

I must add that I have read THE WITHERING VINE and Faith's lyrical prose Blew. Me. Away. I fell in love with Genevieve's strength, gentleness, perseverance, and heart. Okay, back to our interview.

3. Speaking of, would you share the opening from THE WITHERING VINE?

Sure, here it is:

One of the disadvantages of being raised on the streets is that one's conscience develops with a sort of delay.

A normal girl of sixteen years, I suppose, would be warned by her healthy, homegrown conscience to stop and think before she falls into sin. I, on the other hand, don't merely fall, but plunge right into the depths with no alarm sounding at all.
Oooh nice. Different from the draft I read a few months back, love it. I'm hooked!!

4. Faith, how might your main character, Genevieve, describe you if you were to step into a scene in your manuscript.  Give us a short scene or paragraph, please : )

I'm not sure how I translate to Medieval France! But here is how Genevieve might find me in her world:

Across the field, a woman sits hunched over—something—her hair dripping over her face. As I walk closer I see that it is a piece of paper, covered in curlicues and slashes of ink, becoming more covered as she scratches at it with a quill. I hurry towards her, hungry just for the sight of more letters and words, but am hampered, first by the muddy grass, then by two almost-as-muddy little girls. The older one, with wild brown hair, takes my hand and pulls me into a stomping and reeling dance, laughing at the startled look on my face. The small one stills and lowers her wide blue eyes, only peering at me through her eyelashes, though her shoulders sway to her sister's song.

“Girls!” the woman calls. She puts aside the paper and pulls them onto her lap, raising her own eyes to me in apology—as if apology were to be made for the first friendly gesture I have known in days. She resembles her older daughter in looks: brown hair and eyes and a wide smile. But she has the baby's reserve. She hides the pen and paper under her skirt and says, “Good day to you, miss,” in a voice so soft the wind nearly hides it. Yet when her daughter whispers something into her ear, the mother's smile grows even wider, and it is not too hard to imagine her dancing wildly in the fields when no one is looking.

This shows us well what defines you, your writing and your girls, while allowing us a hint of your true character. Beautifully done, Faith.

5. Words facinate me. What is your least and most favorite word? Use each in a sentence written in the voice of one of your characters (from any of your manuscripts).

Okay, my least and most “favoritest” (as my daughter would say) words translate to the Middle Ages even more poorly than I do. So I'll write them in the voice of Jodie, the 12-year-old protagonist of my new work-in-progress.

Cecily swings her shoulders back and stretches up to her full height—still several inches shorter than me.

“I'm older than y'all,” she says.

“You're older than me,” I clarify. “But this is my house.” And I'm bigger than you, I think, because just the thought puts confidence into my voice.

“Well,” she pouts, “Aunt Clare put me in charge irregardless. I guess that means she trusts me more.”

I roll my eyes. I don't say it aloud, but it's clear to me who would win this battle of wits if wits were all that had to do with it.

Before I can squeeze in a fitting retort, the wild tintinnabulation of noontime racket starts up: Dad's clock striking the hour, the telephone ringing with Mom checking in, Katy marching through the halls yelping, “Lunch-time! Lunch-time! Lunch-time!” at the top of her lungs.

(Okay, I sort of cheated, because it was really hard to work into a random word in just one sentence. The word I hate up there is “irregardless”...if that counts, even though it's not a real word; it just really gets on my nerves when people use it. My favorite word is “tintinnabulation.” Honestly, that's hard to fit into any sentence, but I just love the sound of it.)

Due to the degree of word-difficulty, I'll let the extra word count slide : ) Good job, Faith.

6. Would you like to share with us what you are working on while you wait?
I'm one of those people who always has to be working on a couple things at once....so the answer has two parts: I'm piling up the research for another YA historical novel, AMBER & FLAME, a cross-class romance starring Francesca Stradivari, the daughter of the legendary violin maker. (My husband is a violin maker by profession, so some of the research is quite hands-on as he lets me “fiddle” around a bit with chisel and plane. ; )

Then I'm plotting/writing a contemporary middle grade story—you met the characters in the lines above. The very tentative title is STORY SUMMER, and while I haven't polished out a pitch yet, it involves a run-down theater in central New York State, long-abandoned memories, classic cousin-rivalry, and a delicious local dish known as tomato pie. I'll have to update you when I have more than an outline and a before-the-first draft written. : )

Sheesh, you do all that AND run around after two little ones? Goodness, girl!! You rock.

7. I'm always in search of inspiration and that "AHA" moment. Is there a book you've read recently that’s been particularly inspiring? Why?

You do realize this is the hardest question you've asked? ;) I read a lot and find inspiration almost as often. But I would have to say that this year's Newbery winner, Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool, was one of the rare books that changed the way I thought about life and people—and writing especially. I loved the way Clare Vanderpool, well, manifested the universal power of story and the connection between people, across time and race and generations. That's a theme that crops up from time to time in my own writing, but I didn't even realize it until thinking about this story. Now I'll probably never get away from it. ;)

Thanks, I'll put that one on my TRL.

8.What literary character do you share a good number of traits with? Which character do you wish you could be more like?

I have a lot in common with Betsy Ray from the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace...only I'm a bit shyer than Betsy is. I'm probably more like a combination of Betsy and Tacy, actually. I wish my life was more like Betsy's—if you've read the books, you're familiar with the Ray family Sunday afternoon get-togethers with games and singing and dancing and Mr. Ray's famous sandwiches... I plan on instituting something similar when my kids are a little older, complete with playing the “Merry Widow Waltz”...but without the hats of the same name, I suppose.

I can totally see you and your family playing the Merry Waltz!! 

Besides the above mentioned manuscripts, Faith's fantasy manuscript THE ART OF ELSEWHERE was the winner of the Tassy Walden Award for New Voices in Children's Literature last year, and she was also a finalist in the same competition in 2007 as well as 2008. 
Thanks again Faith for allowing us a peek into your worlds, real and literary. I wish you all the best in finding a home for The Withering Vine, I'm confident you will. For inspiration and a plethora of fun literary trivia, visit Faith's blog here.

If you or someone you know is interested in being spotlighted, you are a pre-published, unagented writer with a completed manuscrip - email me : )

Writer Spotlight Coming Soon

In recent weeks I've given a lot of thought to blogs, in particular, my own. I've soaked in articles written by agents, published authors, and successful bloggers about what and what not to blog about.

Now that there are people, like real live peeps actually visiting, not just my BFF's and my family, I REALLY want to find a way to make their/your stop here worth the time. But how? What can I do that's different?

Hmm, finger tap-tap-taps chin.

One of my all time favorite blog stops is Casey McCormick's blog, Literary Rambles. Why? I love the agent spotlights, I love the helpful tips on everything writing related, and I love that I can count on the regular posts with the unexpected thrown in with them, (and of course, I won books there, twice). So I asked myself, what can I learn from their ‘formula?’

My hands cup a mug-full-o-mocha as I stare out over my computer, deep in thought. What if . . .yeah, yeah--

What if, I interviewed unagented writers, like me? Serious writers. Writers that have a completed manuscript. A read-ready polished kick-butt manuscript that is searching for its match. That would be fun AND potentially helpful. I mean, in my small I could help another writer get their name, face, words out there, right? And who knows, right time, right person . . .It could happen. And if that happened, how cool would that be?

Okay okay, cool, I'm gonna do it, try it. But I'll need unagented serious writers. Soooooo . . .

If you are that serious writer (by which I don't mean stilted, stodgy, or stuffy) who has a completed, polished, read-ready (very important that it be finished) YA, MG, or chapter book manuscript you'd like to pitch,  AND you already have some form of online presence (blog, facebook, twitter...), and are seeking representation (no published, agented authors, please) give me a shout out.

I do have my first writer spotlight for April, Faith Elizabeth Hough, but I am looking to line up more. Depending on the response will decide how often I post a Writer Spotlight. All archived interviews will be visible on the link titled (you got it), Writer Spotlight, above. All interviews will be tweeted about and posted on my facebook wall. Anyone who wants to help their fellow writers, feel free to blog about the Writer Spotlights to help spread the word and get as many eyes on as possible.

Please email me at paulakaymac at comcast dot net if you are interested in being featured. The interview questions will focus not only on your manuscript, but on you, and most importantly, spotlight your writing style by having you answer questions in the voice of your main character(s), fun quirky, character revealing questions (and I'm open to suggestions, too).

I'm excited to see where (hopefully somewhere) this goes. I have more new fun stuff coming that I will add over the next few months.

Stay cyber-tuned.

Write On Con 2011 is Coming

What is WriteOnCon, you ask: "WriteOnCon is the brainchild of seven writers who wanted to pay it forward and give something back to the writing community.”

WOW, right?

WriteOnCon is a THREE day online conference for child lit writers. It’s free. It has something for everyone, published or pre-published, agented or un-agented.

You work? No problem. Click on over in the evening (or on a break, or while you’re supposed to be working). It’s easy to replay all that’s gone on: Live agent chats - Live author chats – Prizes - Critique Forums – more and more and more, sooooo much more.

Last year was FAN-FRIGGING-TASTIC!!! So mark your calendar, August 16th, 17th, and 18th. You don’t want to miss it. August might seem like a long way off, but it’s not too early to spread the word and get psyched.

Who, you ask, is behind WriteOnCon. That would be these Sensational Seven:

1. Jamie Harrington is a Young Adult Fiction writer represented by Mary Kole of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc.

2. Elana Johnson’s debut novel, POSSESSION, will be published by Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster) in Summer 2011.She also co-authors the Query Tracker blog, and the League of Extraordinary Writers. Elana is represented by Michelle Andelman of Regal Literary.

3. Casey McCormick is the author of the hugely popular Agent Spotlight series. Part aspiring author, part agent intern, part student, part blogger, part wife and Mom, she’s a marvel of time management.

4. Shannon Messenger is a Middle Grade Fantasy author represented by Laura Rennert of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc.

5. Lisa and  (6)Laura Roecker’s debut novel, THE LIAR SOCIETY, will be published by Sourcebooks in Spring 2011. Lisa and Laura are represented by Catherine Drayton of Inkwell Management.

7. Jennifer Stayrook—aka JentheAmazing—is a writer, blogger, student, cake-eater, and web design goddess.

To kick things off the WriteOnCon group are posting query critique contests from amazing agents on their site. The contests end March 15th. So what are you waiting for? Go see what it’s all about and spread the word!!!

The Seventeen Syllable Stretch

 Have fun writing a haiku:

"I am first with five
Then seven in the middle -
Five again to end."

For this week's Sunday Scribblings writing prompt I decided to write a haiku riddle. See if you can guess the one word prompt.

Haiku Riddle:

I spit, sputter, shoot

Hop, bop, blaze – within, without

I live, warm, burn, die

Not hard to figure out, right? But if you still need the answer click on over to the Sunday Scribblings' blog link above. PLUS, it's fun to read other bloggers' posts to the prompt as well.
Even better - write your own haiku and it post below if you want!!!

They're fun and quick and get the creative cogs moving. A good stretch before diving into that much loooonger work-in-progress.  Give it a try!! Let me know what you think.