Jayme Woods

Writer. Geek. Adventurer.


Leave a comment

5 Songs That Make Me Want to Dance

To celebrate the release of Brooks Benjamin’s My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights, I’ve compiled a list of 5 songs that make me want to dance. Anyone who’s tried #5amWritersClub knows how tough it can be to drag out of bed before the sun, but these 5 jams get me on my toes every time:

1. Shake it Off, Taylor Swift
Let’s be honest, no dance playlist is complete without this one.

2. Take on Me, a-ha
Not only one of the best songs ever, but an epic piece of Chuck history. Win-win!

3. Run It Back Again, Corbin Bleu
The repeat button makes me feel like a time traveler, and this song gives me an awesome excuse to use it!

4. Better When I’m Dancing, Meghan Trainor
Who doesn’t feel better when they’re dancing? (This one’s for you, K)

5. Girls of Rock and Roll – The Chipmunks and Chipettes
If this one doesn’t make you dance, you might be Bruce Willis in the Sixth Sense. Maybe have someone check for a pulse.

BONUS NINJA FREESTYLE!
Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’, Hanson
Because every playlist needs more cowbell.

It’s by no means a comprehensive list, but hopefully at least one of those got your toes tapping.

Don’t forget to check out My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights and happy dancing!


1 Comment

Query Godmother: RULES OF THE STARS

Alright, folks! With Cinderella in theaters now, I can think of no better time to launch my very first Query Godmother post. Today’s query comes courtesy of a lovely author I’m going to call Tiana for blog purposes. She’s cooked up a romance served so extra spicy I can already picture it as a rom-com starring Meagan Tandy and Daniel Gillies.

There’s so much to love in her original query, but a little extra pixie dust never hurt anyone! Here goes nothing:

ORIGINAL QUERY

Dear Agent,

Twenty-one-year-old Lea Cobb has a legion of fans at her feet, but the man she wants keeps running away.

A former KidCast actress, Lea is making a comeback on a new hit show. The leading role of sexy-nerdy African-American college student should get her back on the cover of popular celebrity magazine, Rules of the Stars. To solidify her rise to fame, she only needs one thing: a steamy guy to show off on the red carpet. Lea sees her chance in the smoking hot Australian body of the last actor to join the show.

Thirty-one-year-old star Joshua Housten accepts the small part hoping for a change of scenery after his catastrophic divorce. Desperate to escape his past while rebuilding his career and image, he’s determined to follow three hard-and-fast rules: no relationships, no co-stars and no younger women. Easy enough–until he meets Lea, the former child star that makes his body react in a very grown-up way.

Joshua tries to stymie Lea’s seduction attempts, and as her feelings for him grow, she uses every seductive tool she possesses to convince him rules are meant to be broken. She’s set on winning his love, but the closer she gets, the more he throws up walls. Lea knows one thing for sure: she isn’t ready to take no for an answer, because if Joshua chooses his rules, he’ll break her heart.

Told from Lea and Joshua’s POV, RULES OF THE STARS is an Adult Contemporary Romance novel complete at 69,000 words.

Upon your request, I would be delighted to send the complete manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[Author details redacted]

THE BIBBIDY BOP

Dear Agent,

Twenty-one-year-old Lea Cobb has a legion of fans at her feet, but the man she wants keeps running away. [This opening tagline doesn’t feel necessary. I feel like it can be cut to get to the meat of the query more quickly]

A former KidCast actress, [I’d avoid starting with a clause. It feels more passive than a noun-verb sentence] [Former child star] Lea is making a comeback on a new hit show [Is it already a hit? Or is she hoping it’s a hit? If her comeback hinges on the success of the show, it gives her a more solid reason to focus solely on Josh. If she’s just looking for arm candy, it’s hard to believe she’d focus on the one guy who won’t fall at her feet. There needs to be a reason it has to be Josh.]. The leading role of sexy-nerdy African-American college student should get her back on the cover of popular celebrity magazine, Rules of the Stars. To solidify her rise to fame, she only needs one thing: a steamy guy to show off on the red carpet. Lea sees her chance in the [her] smoking hot Australian [costar] , Joshua Housten body of the last actor to join the show. [I don’t write adult romance, so maybe this is how descriptions are usually written, but it just seemed really objectifying, which might speak to Lea’s character at the beginning of the story but doesn’t make her seem particularly likable or sympathetic. Also I feel like “smoking hot” has the same effect with fewer words.]

Thirty-one-year-old star Joshua Housten accepts the small part hoping for a change of scenery after his catastrophic divorce. Desperate to escape his past while rebuilding his career and image, he’s determined to follow three [one] hard-and-fast rule: no relationships, no co-stars and no younger women [Don’t the last two rules fall under the umbrella of no relationships?]. Easy enough–until he meets Lea, the former child star that makes his body react in a very grown-up way. [With so few words in a query, I’m wondering what it is specifically about Lea that does it for him. As a smoking hot Aussie he has to have as many crazed fans as her. Does she treat him like a decent human being despite the (untrue) rumors he cheated on his sweetheart ex-wife? Does she appreciate his mind (he has a degree in XYZ) even though he always gets cast as the not entirely intelligent but ultra-hot bad boy? It feels like a little hint of what draws them together could go a really long way here.]

Joshua tries to stymie Lea’s seduction attempts, and as her feelings for him grow, she [Lea] uses every seductive tool she possesses to convince him [Josh] rules are meant to be broken. She’s set on winning his love, but the closer she gets, the more he throws up walls. Lea knows one thing for sure: she isn’t ready to take no for an answer, because if Joshua chooses his rules, he’ll break her heart. [I feel like this paragraph can be condensed down to one really powerful sentence. Maybe something like: As Lea’s feelings for Josh grow, she realizes something has to break – either his rules or her heart.]

Told from Lea and Joshua’s POV, RULES OF THE STARS is an Adult Contemporary Romance novel complete at 69,000 words.

Upon your request, I would be delighted to send the complete manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[Author details redacted]

My biggest note is to focus on each character’s motivations. In my opinion, this will help readers connect with Lea and Josh more deeply more immediately, which will give this query the last little kick it needs to take it over the top!

THE BOO

This is where you guys chime in! Do you agree with my notes? Am I totally off base? Sound off in the comments.

Finally a great big THANK YOU to everyone who’s submitted and keep those queries coming! Just paste your query into an email to querygodmother (at) gmail (dot) com and your query could be next.

Wishing you all a magical day!


Leave a comment

The Query Godmother is IN!

As some of you know, I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a query review series on my blog for over a year. I’m super excited to announce today is the day! The Query Godmother is officially ready to make writers an offer they can’t refuse – a free query critique. Full details here.

That’s all for now, but keep an eye out for my first post soon!


3 Comments

Eight Terrible Titles (with commentary)

I’ve been away from the blog for WAY too long, but there’s no better way to jump back in than with the #8TerribleTitles blog hop. A great big thanks to the not-at-all-terrible Brooks Benjamin for tagging me to join the ridiculous fun!

For those of you playing along at home, #8TerribleTitles is as easy as 1-2-3:
(1) Open your manuscript and scroll to a random passage
(2) The word or phrase where your cursor lands is your first terrible title
(3) Repeat until you have eight terrible titles

If you’re not ready to share your manuscript, that’s okay! Grab the nearest book and play along. Better yet, grab your friends and see if they can guess the book by its terrible titles. I think I just invented a party game…

But I digress. Here are the #8TerribleTitles for my MG pirate adventure, Double-Crossed, with a bit of commentary. Because what’s the point of terrible titles without terrible blurbs to go along with them?😉

1. “Diana? Diana?”
One of Faulkner’s lesser known works

2. Wafted Down the Stairs
A scratch ‘n’ sniff book

3. Dressed like a Giant Shrimp
The memoir of a food court mascot

4. Some Rare Disease from the 1800s
Order now and get a free bottle of hand sanitizer!

5. Crossing State Borders
The secret world of truckers – EXPOSED!

6. Giant Bunny Ears
Cyrano de Cottontail attempts to woo the lovely Roxane despite his extraordinarily long ears in this Disney retelling of the classic.

7. The Difference between Ignition and a Deadly Jolt
Gritty YA contemporary banned by schools (becomes a bestseller anyway)

8. A Kaleidoscope of Branches
…and other fun DIYs for summer

Not enough terrible titles for you? Me either! Since this is #8TerribleTitles, I’m tagging 8 writers who are the exact opposite of terrible. You know, to balance things out:

Ann Marjory K

Kat Michels

Patrice Caldwell

S.P. McConnell

C.C. Dowling

Ifeoma Dennis

Jenna Lehne

Donald Capone

I can’t wait to see what they come up with. In the meantime, head over to Twitter and dive into the #8TerribleTitles hashtag for more terrible fun!


10 Comments

The Power of Cliffhangers (a.k.a. FITZ LIIIIVES!!)

**SPOILER WARNING**

This post contains spoilers for Once Upon a Time, Castle, Sherlock, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Proceed at your own risk.

***I’M SERIOUS! SPOILERS AHEAD***

shield group

See there? Spoilers already.

So, let’s talk about cliffhangers. I have a love/hate relationship with these little devils. On one hand, speculating what’s going to happen next helps fill the time between novels, movies, or (for purposes of this post) television seasons. I mean, seriously, is there anyone who wasn’t stoked to get this little tease on Once Upon a Time:

elsa

Unfortunately, cliffhangers aren’t always just tantalizing glimpses of what’s to come. They often put characters we love in mortal peril. How did Castle escape that burning car? I DON’T KNOW, DANGIT! But I know he did. And I want to know how. It reminds me of a certain English detective who jumped off a building back in 2012. We all knew he survived. But how? HOW? Speculation kept the Sherlock fandom in full swing for two agonizing years.

As a writer, I respect a great cliffhanger. I still can’t hear the words, “Guys, I know Kung Fu,” without a twinge of jealousy that I didn’t write them.

And of all the cliffhangers this season, there’s none that’s got me more invested than the fate of one Leopold Fitz. For those of you who don’t watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Fitz was last seen bobbing unconsciously in the ocean after being hauled up 90 feet by his biochemist partner, Jemma Simmons. If you don’t know why this hurts my heart, grab a tissue and hold on tight:

And that’s the last time we see him conscious. THE LAST TIME, people. No happy reunion where the whole team gathers around his hospital bed. No follow-up scene with Simmons holding his comatose hand and vowing to do whatever it takes to save him. Nope.

That’s not even the worst of it. Once Simmons hauls him to the surface, they’re rescued by Nick Fury. Nick stinkin’ Fury! Think how bummed Fitz’ll be he missed a chance to meet the man himself. It breaks my heart, really, it does.

What’s next for Fitz? We get a few hints. Fury confirms Fitz’s “heart’s still beating, just barely” but warns his amazing little brain went “without oxygen a long time.” At the end of the episode, when the team asks about him, Simmons merely replies, “he’s alive.”

Of all the times for the sunshiny little know-it-all to go laconic on us!

So what does it mean? Well, I did a little digging. Here’s the short version:

THE SHORT VERSION:

FITZ LIIIIVES!!

monkeys rejoiced

THE LONG VERSION:

WARNING: I’m not a medical professional. Everything you’re about to read is the result of poking around on the Internet. If you are a nurse, diving instructor, or someone with expertise in the matter I’d love to hear from you!🙂

Here’s what we know:
> Ward jettisoned Fitz and Simmons into the ocean somewhere off the coast of Peru.
> Fitz says they’ve sunk “at least 90 feet.”
> When the window blew, water rushed in with enough force to “knock the wind right out of [them]”
> Fitz rigged a device to “let out a burst [of air] at very high pressure” that “force[d] a breath” into Jemma’s lungs

Okay, so let’s do a little back of the napkin math. Average swim speeds are surprisingly hard to come by, so I’m just going to assume Jemma swam 0.5mph, which seems conservative for someone swimming for their lives, even if they are hauling a soggy Scottish engineer behind them.

napkin math

Assuming my ballpark speed is accurate, Simmons made the swim to the surface in just over 2 minutes. This, my friends, is awesome news given the Survival Rule of 3, which says, “On average a person can only survive for 3 minutes without air.”

But Fitz said “at least” 90 feet? At least! What if it was farther? What if Simmons didn’t swim in a straight line? What if Fury’s helicopter exerted pressure on the water and made it harder for Simmons to break the surface? Curse you, Fury, and your stylish shades!

saved my ship

In that case, here are a few more interesting time frames to consider during a drowning situation:

30 seconds to 1 minute – the airway closes. Child’s lips turn blue.
1 to 2 minutes – the child looses consciousness.
2 to 5 minutes – the heart can stop. The child has a chance of survival if rescued now.
5 minutes plus – permanent brain damage is occurring as each second passes.

Whatever the variables, we know Simmons made it to the surface on a single breath without blacking out (while towing said soggy engineer behind her). For an untrained diver who “didn’t pass [her] field assessments,” it’s unlikely she lasted long enough to put Fitz in the danger zone.

But wait! That’s not all. During my research, I also happened across a bunch of other cool stuff like the mammalian diving reflex , the benefits of near-drowning in salt water versus fresh water , and this fun little gem from The Doctor Will See You Now : “About 75% of near-drowning victims who receive medical treatment survive. Of these, approximately 6% will be left with long-term neurological problems.”

Does that mean Fitz is looking at a 94% chance of full recovery? I don’t know. So why am I telling you all this?

WHY I’M TELLING YOU ALL THIS

There’s no denying I’m a fangirl, but first and foremost I’m a writer. And, as a writer, it’s important to remember readers today have access to an unprecedented amount of information. The above is what happens when you give a fangirl an hour alone with Google. An hour. That’s someone bored in the doctor’s waiting room or looking to fill the S.H.I.E.L.D. shaped hole in their Tuesday night. Let that soak in. It’s more important than ever for writers to do our homework!

Second take-away: Once you’ve done your research, remember this is a creative decision, not science class. The perfect storm of awesome could bring Fitz back to our screens (unharmed) in the first episode next season. Or the perfect storm of suckitude could give him a whole checklist of near-drowning complications that spur Simmons to perfect GH-325. Or any scenario in between. As long as the writers deliver an equally awesome payoff when the bill comes due, I don’t think anyone will complain.

In the meantime, it’s fun to speculate. What do you guys think? Will Fitz make an immediate recovery? Or does he have a longer road ahead of him? I’d love to hear your thoughts (and theories) in the comments.


5 Comments

Baby’s First Blog Tour

Morning, all! Last Monday, the awesome-tacular Brooks Benjamin tagged me to participate in my very first blog tour. It’s called #MyWritingProcess and it’s all about… well, my writing process. Before I go on, check out Brooks’s writing process – and congratulate him on his book deal (!!!!) – over at Pour the Coffee and Walk Away.

1) What am I working on?

Right now, I’m mainly focused on a project I’d describe as Buffy the Vampire Slayer for MG… at least, I’d describe it that way if comparing my stuff to BtVS didn’t give me hives. Those are some big (yet stylish) shoes to fill.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

It’s been said there are no new stories, but I believe there will always be new characters to filter those stories through. I check between all the literary couch cushions to find characters who’ve slipped through the cracks (or maybe hidden there on purpose). Then I shine the spotlight on them.

3) Why do I write what I do?

There’s a saying I’ve always loved: “Feed your imagination. Otherwise it might learn to hunt.” Personally, I’m not that sneaky or that athletic. My imagination would take me down fast, so instead of fighting it I’ve taken the How to Train Your Dragon route and made friends with it. Now we go on awesome adventures together, and I’d love nothing more than to take readers along for the ride.

4) How does your writing process work?

It’s a lot like The Emperor’s New Groove, actually. Observe:

STEP 1:

It all starts with an idea.

yzma 1

Whether or not it’s actually brilliant is up for debate.

yzma 2

Regardless, I let that idea run wild. I fill notebooks with doodles, character bios, snatches of dialogue, and pretty much anything else that catches my fancy.

STEP 2:

yzma 3

If the idea still refuses to let go, I roll up my sleeves and wrangle it into an outline. I block out conflicts, plot twists, and character arcs. I venture into the dark, tangled unknown and plant guideposts to keep my first draft from getting too far off track.

STEP 3:

yzma 4

Then I take that outline and flesh it out into a first draft. Along the way, there’s always a guidepost that’s disappeared into a bank of plot-hole quicksand.

kronk - by all accounts

I build a way around it only to discover there’s some troublemaker yanking up guideposts and tossing them into the river. Or the bushes. Or a cave full of bears. My neat little outline gets messy – and wonderful. It takes twists and turns I’d never imagined. Somehow, I survive (barely) and type the words The End.

STEP 4:

yzma 5 - Copy

In other words, I let the manuscript rest.

STEP 5:

yzma 6

That’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Once my manuscript is thoroughly destroyed, I put all the pieces back together again. I discard, rearrange, and rewrite until it all comes full circle Lion King style and I once again believe it is brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Then I send the shiny new draft to my CPs and realize it’s actually…

kronk - yuck

So I rewrite some more. Send to more CPs. Rinse. Repeat. And finally there comes a day when it’s time to let it go…

tangled - light

Admit it. You were expecting Elsa there. But that’s writing for ya. Full of surprises!😉

Whew! That’s about all the coherent thought I have left in me, but the blog tour doesn’t end here! If you need to distract yourself because your favorite television couple is currently submerged in a giant metal box sinking toward (un)certain doom…

fitzsimmons

… or, you know, if you just like interesting, useful things, dive into the archives on the #MyWritingProcess hashtag. Then steel yourself for the awesomeness coming your way next Monday (5/19). And because I always had to go last in school, here they are in reverse alphabetical order:

Lee Kelly

Lee Kelly

@leeykelly
Blog

Lee Kelly has wanted to write since she was old enough to hold a pencil, but it wasn’t until she began studying for the California Bar Exam that she conveniently started putting pen to paper. An entertainment lawyer by trade, Lee has practiced law in Los Angeles and New York. She lives with her husband and son in Millburn, New Jersey, though after a decade in Manhattan, she still can’t help but call herself a New Yorker. City of Savages is her first novel.

Ifeoma Dennis

Ifeoma

@IfeomaDennis
Blog

Ifeoma lives on a somewhat-tedious-to-climb hill in the caribbean island of St. Vincent but it pays off with a good view of the ocean and the boats. She is a medical student by day (and even at night), and a writer at all the odd scraps of time she gets. She loves fantastical worlds of magic and beautiful creatures, so little wonder that’s what she writes!

Patrice Caldwell

patrice

@whimsicallyours
Blog

Patrice Caldwell is a twenty-one-year-old introvert gone wild. Her love for reading has taken her all over the world from the Great Hall at Hogwarts to the depths of Mordor and to the dangerously romantic streets of Anne Rice & Lestat’s New Orleans and many other places she’d never have the time to name. However it was not until the summer after her first year at college that she completed a manuscript and began to call herself a writer of all things but mostly those with a speculative twist.

She currently studies Political Science and English (with a concentration in Creative Writing) at Wellesley College and recently won the SCBWI Student Writer Scholarship for her writing.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 51 other followers