Sunday, March 27, 2011

What is a Paraquel?

I’ve learned something new this week and I’d like to share it with you.

Have you ever heard of a paraquel?

I hadn’t until I read The Bone Magician by F.E. Higgins. 

It seems it’s a story that takes place at the same time as another story with the same or similar characters. In this case, The Bone Magician and The Black Book of Secrets by the same author are considered paraquels. Both are middle grade novels dripping with scenery, quirky characters and mystery.

So let me put “paraquel” in its proper context among the “quels.”

We all know what a sequel is, a story that takes place later in the same imagined history of a story using many of the same characters and settings. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter comes to mind first, with his six sequels after The Sorcerer’s Stone.

A prequel is a story written or published after a certain other story, but whose events take place earlier in the same imagined history.

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis, a story that takes place before The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe also has an inquel, that is a story that takes place during a gap in another story’s narrative.

This story is titled,  The Horse and His Boy, and it takes place in the last chapter of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

After discovering what a paraquel was I did some research and came up with two more “quels.”

A circumquel is a story that takes place partly before and partly after another story. An example of this can be found in the Star Wars series.

But, when a story is a prequel to one book, but at the same time a sequel to another, we are reading an interquel. Are you confused yet?

Here are examples of interquel -Sir J.M. Barrie, you know him, the author of Peter Pan, wrote a book called The Little White Bird, where the character of Peter Pan first appeared as a baby living on Bird Island in Kensington Gardens. Later the chapters concerning him got republished as Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. It provided Peter’s original story, but then Barrie then wrote the play, Peter Pan or the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up and he then penned the novel version, Peter and Wendy, published in 1911.

There’s a huge gap between how Peter went from being an infant on Bird Island in Kensington Gardens to being a boy fighting pirates on the Neverland isle. Therefore, a story that bridges this gap would be an interquel.

So, now do we have our "quels" in order or are you thinking: What the quel is she talking about? :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

How to Write a Good Critique

Attending an SCBWI Conference is special. 

First, you find out which ones sound interesting and valuable to you. 

Then, must register months in advance.

Sometimes that involves sending five pages of a manuscript you want seen by an editor or agent. You must polish it to perfection before it goes out.

Then there is the peer critique group, fifteen pages of a WIP for your colleagues to evaluate, comment and make revision suggestions for your manuscript.

It is this last component I would like to discuss today. Being a good critiquer is sometimes harder than being a good writer.

You must put yourself in the author’s position and dole out your criticisms and comments with a dose of honey to sweeten the sting of critique. Some writers welcome other’s opinions. After all, that’s what agents and editors do when you submit to them. They make suggestions to improve the manuscript. We, as peer critiquers, serve the same purpose. We are only trying to make your work better.

Currently, I am caught up in critiquing six other YA novels for the upcoming Eastern Pennsylvania SCBWI Pocono Retreat (a wonderful conference which I will discuss on this blog at a later date).

Two are historical.
Two are contemporary.
Two are paranormal.

So, I thought I’d give a few tips for critiquing today, at least the way I do it.

1st - I’d read the entire body of work.

2nd - I go back and highlight areas I think need work.

3rd - I comment on word choice or too many adverbs, etc… that changing could benefit the story.

4th – I write a little note to the author highlighting what parts of the manuscript I think are exceptional, or at least good, in some cases. ***ALWAYS START WITH A POSITIVE COMMENT***

5th – Then I list areas of possible concern, being careful not to say that it doesn’t work, but suggesting that it could be stronger.

6th – My last section of the critique is of general comments, such as Your MC was very interesting and believable. I love the voice of your MC etc…

7th – I choose a favorite scene and tell why it stuck with me. Sometimes it’s not the reason why the author intended it to be so memorable, but at least it gives them a different perspective.

8th – My conclusion discusses what I learned from the work. Inevitably a reader will learn something they didn’t know before, whether it be a fact or a writing strategy.

9th – And then I sign my name and include my email address. Sometimes the writers you are assigned to in a peer critique session become lifelong critiquer partners are at the very least beta readers for each other.

So, I hope I’ve helped you with writing critiques. Now I have to get back to a ballet dancer who would rather be step dancing, a girl who is hoping to be asked to the prom by the right guy, a young girl who was taken hostage by an Indian tribe, a siren who has one day to live, a ghost who won’t go away, and a social outcast who has fey blood.

I think I’ll be busy for a while! J

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Lovely Blog Award

I'd like to thank Allyn Stotz for the Lovely Blog Award.

or those of you I nominate, please accept the award, post iot to your blog and nominate 15 other blogs that you enjoy or have just found.

In paying it forward I have nominated the following blogs:

I'll post the rest as I discover them.

Thanks again.

Happy blogging.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Announcing the winners of THE FRACTURED FAIRY TALE POETRY CONTEST, Part 2

“THE FRACTURED FAIRY TALE POETRY CONTEST, PART 2” was a wonderful success. We had ten excellent entries, each a winner in its own right. For those of you who did not win, if you care to email me I’d be happy to send you a critiqued copy of your poem. Perhaps you could submit it somewhere.
Just go to my website address at the top right corner of my blog and it will automatically take you to the first page of my website.
Scroll down through the pictures. On the right hand side of the last picture is an email icon. Click on it and send me a request for your critiqued poem. I’d be glad to send it back to you. J

And now to announce the winners:

The runner up is: Buffalocoburn with “Red Riding Hood’s Healthy Choice.” You will receive a full critique of a rhyming picture book manuscript of your choice.

And the Grand prizewinner is: buglady5 with “Stalker.” She will receive a full critique as stated above and an autographed copy of ROCK STAR SANTA.

Both winners, please follow email instructions above to send me your manuscripts. And buglady5, please send me the name/names of who you would like the book made out to and your physical address so I can send it to you.

This was so much fun we’ll have to do it again soon. Thank you all for participating. And for those of you who became followers…Thank You. I hope you’ll come back for the new author interviews and the writing tips.

Energized to Write for the New Year

 So happy to be attending the SCBWI National Conference this week. My peer critiques went well two nights ago, and energized me to see the p...