Posts by jdavidson

#BLOGPITCH Contest

#BLOGPITCH Contest

How cool is this! My #BLOGPITCH was one of ten chosen by the wonderful Authoress at Miss Snark’s Blogspot. Please visit her site for the other winning selections (Miss Snark’s Site.) For each critique you leave on the respective winning blogs, you are entered into a drawing for a 15 page line edit from the acclaimed Authoress herself. So, here we go: ..   (YA SciFi) Logline: A kill away from reaching the sandman discharge quota, a teenage dream assassin learns the outlaws he killed aren’t who he was told. And neither is he. First 250:  Four folders fan before me. Each contains a face. Each face is worth points. And after tonight’s shift, I’ll have enough points to purchase what I’ve wanted since I got here. Two quick raps at the door steal my attention. Recognizing the knock, I rub my eyes before blinking a few times. I don’t know how long I’ve been staring at the folders. “Door open,” I say. The voice-activated panel doesn’t have a chance to retreat before Z bounds into my room. A wonky grin stretches like a hammock between his ears as he slides to a seat on the edge of my desk, ruffling the folders as he scoots. “So… this is it.” He pumps his eyebrows. I offer a thin-lipped grin and nod while reorganizing the folders. Cycling through the images once more, I study the faces of tonight’s targets. “Come on, Ro. This is it! Tonight’s the night. Everything you worked for. Get excited!” “Will you stop calling me Ro?” I say. “My name is Midnight.” “For now it is.” He buries his crazy-long fingers beneath his rear and leans forward while swinging his feet. “What do you think it’ll be when you get out?” I shrug. Once I’m out of the Sandman Corps, they can call me whatever they want. “Think about it,” Z continues. “After tonight, you’ll roam Somnium Six a free man.” Out… Free… Words I’ve used a thousand times since the corps enlisted me. Now that they’re so close to being real, they sound more like a dream. .∇.∇.∇. Click here to visit and comment on other selections. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win a 15 page critique from...

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My First Book!

My First Book!

I am super happy to announce the Feb. 2015 publication date of my first novel BRICKS, a young adult, contemporary retelling of The Wonderful Wizard of OZ. So excited to be working with Anaiah Press @AnaiahPress and the amazing Kara Leigh...

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Plowing the Page

Plowing the Page

I come from a family of farmers, and though I now live in a suburban setting, as a kid I hauled hay, weeded the peanut fields, planted corn, etc. As a writer, I often think about how similar writing is to the planting/growing process. I approach a blank page much like a farmer preparing to tackle an unplowed soil. Not all soil is appropriate for planting, but every empty page–digital or physical–holds promise. Through struggle and sweat (and caffeine–sweet tea please), I plow through an initial outline. I tried writing without one, and I ended up lost and having to ask myself for directions. Terribly embarrassing for a man, but that’s another post… Writing without an outline made my rows very crooked, if not unidentifiable. Once the rows are tilled, I plant the seeds of my words. And though I try to be careful as I write–to get the words in the right place the first time, it always requires further care, ongoing tending: weeding (removal of those that choke out the emotional growth in my characters and emotional response of my readers) and watering and fertilizing (adding or modifying them to be healthy)–all in the hopes that the manuscript will blossom and grow into something to be proud of. Through diligence the wip becomes a w–a finished product that resembles a beautiful field of fully formed vegetation, and as I look across my work, I’m proud of turning a once blank platform into a complete story with complex characters and rich plot–a satisfying journey for the reader. But crops don’t sit on a shelf. They’re meant to be consumed. And I think that’s where most writers are. I’m not planting a private garden. At its least I want it to be  community garden, shared and experienced by many. At its best, a commercially viable enterprise. All farmers want their crops to be known as delicious or high quality–just like writers. I know my uncles always glowed with pride when they brought in the biggest crop or the tastiest vegetables. The money paid the bills, but there were things money couldn’t do–validate the hard work that went into producing something of value from an empty field and seeds. I pray that the empty page will grow fruitful from the seeds of my ideas into a healthy work that brings joy to others. And eventually, grow into an opportunity to focus solely on the plowing of new...

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The Post Formerly Known as One Bite at a Time

The Post Formerly Known as One Bite at a Time

So  originally, I had planned to name this post on editing/revising after the old saying: Q: How do you eat an elephant? A: One bite at a time. But after some thought (not much really), I decided to change it. The title, while fitting for the methodology doesn’t match my analogy. See  I routinely use too many words while writing. In my most recent WIP, I came in at 103,000 words. Now that isn’t crazy high for YA sci-fi. But it is outside the sweet spot. Add to that, I am currently an unpublished writer, so the farther outside the norm I am, the worse for my chances to attract an agent/editor. The problem is, I had been through four passes of the novel, and the feedback I was getting from CP’s and beta readers was that I needed to provide more details to characters and give more attention to world-building. By the time that was done, I logged in add a genre-threatening 107,000 words. Not good. Another pass shaved about a thousand words, but that still left me well over the mark. After some input from uber-freelance editor Chuck Sambuchino (Thanks Chuck!), I shaved about 2,000 words, but that still left me at 105,000–still, way too high. I took another pass using Chuck’s advice to eliminate scenes that did not: Further the plot Introduce or promotes characters and their arcs Establish the setting (which includes both the physical world building, but can also include things like establishing and furthering themes) Doing this left me staring at a 103,000 result. Better, but still frustrating. I believe in my novel’s concept. I believe in its characters and voice. But I felt like I needed to do everything I could to give my “baby” its best chance to succeed in this world. The problem was, I felt like I had done all I could do. Needless to say I was still frustrated. During college I managed a health food store. Around the first of the year–every year–I would have people come in and want something, a pill, drink, etc. that would help them get into shape. Our biggest seller was a pack of pills that on average resulted in weight loss of about ten pounds. Great, right? Not really. It contained a daily water pill. A water pill can take off most of that ten pounds without having to do much...

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The Writer as Magician

The Writer as Magician

While watching The Incredible Burt Wonderstone the other day, an interesting thought hit me–not just that Jim Carrie looks slimy with long. stringy hair.  While watching Steve Carell’s character get acquainted with his childhood hero, I was struck with how similar the magician is to a writer. When watching a magician perform, I do what I often do when reading.  I don’t focus on the artistry and presentation.  I focus on trying to figure out how the trick is being done.  Invariably, I fail, but I want to know how they tricked me.  Likewise, when reading, I get very caught up in what the author is doing and how he/she is doing it rather than enjoying the process.  However, there are times when the writing absorbs me.  I forget the fight to look behind the curtain and allow myself to get swept up in the artistry.  In the movie, there is a scene where Wonderstone’s mentor discusses how lazy he has become, how sloppy the tricks the younger magician perform have become.  He shows him how to better carry out the tricks.  Inspiration struck in that moment–once the trick is revealed and the magic is dead, it becomes a matter of artistry–a matter of craftsmanship.  How well can the performer carry out the trick?  Now it is less wonder and more admiration. In this way a writer is much like the magician.  Strip away the wonder and awe that a great story invokes, and you’re left with the artistry reached by a focus on craft.  BUT, while most magic tricks are easy to understand–not easy to figure out, but easy to understand once the trick has been demonstrated and explained–for the majority of readers and even writers, there is magic in a well-crafted tale.  And reading the author who can weave a tale of enchantment over and over again is nothing short of amazing–and bewildering.  How did he or she do it? As a writer, the trick is in careful study–reading, studying, breaking the writing into pieces to dissect and digest.  If successful, just as the magician with magic stripped away becomes an artist, so then does the author. So here’s the real trick for all aspiring writers to learn: study the craft, learn those tricks–the turn of phrase, the opening line, the all-important first chapter, authentic dialogue, the conflict and pacing–anything, everything that makes magic happen.  The results...

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