Writing Middle Grade

The books that have dug themselves deepest into my heart till they become the foundation of who I am seem to mostly be middle grade. When it comes to novels, I’ve only ever wrote Young Adult. YA is the genre that I most easily find the stories that speak to me; therefore, YA is the genre I read the most and end up writing the most. However, when thinking about what books have had the biggest effect on me overall, about 75% of them are middle grade. The Percy Jackson series, Nancy Drew, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and The Chronicles of Narnia are all middle grade. I mean, Harry Potter, is middle grade. I could write several books on just what Harry Potter has done for me.

So, it seemed inevitable that I would eventually write a middle grade manuscript. But every time I began one, I couldn’t make it through. I couldn’t find the heart in the stories that make the middle grade novels above so special. But, finally, I found a story. And it might just be the right one.

I don’t want to talk about this new project in this post because I want to give it its own. However, I will say that writing middle grade with the right story fits. I’ve found my voice in it. I can write characters with big personalities that allow them to be funny without having to crack jokes (because I have absolutely no joke-cracking comedic bones in my body). Friendship and family are my focus when it comes to relationships between my characters. And it’s so refreshing to write characters who might be sad, but are still children in some ways, so they still have a hold on their childlike hope and happiness.

So, here’s to my first middle grade manuscript. Maybe, just maybe, this will be the one that’s meant to kick start my writing career. I’m holding onto the same hope that my twelve-year-old heart had ten years ago.

My Pitch Wars Bio

ABOUT ME

Howdy! Welcome Pitch Wars mentors, mentees, and other creepers. I never know how to begin these things, so let’s just hop right into it.

My name’s Katie, and I am a true Katie, not a Katherine and also not a Kate because that would make me Kate Hudson, which is a name that’s already taken by this fabulous lady.782dd1ed-d665-478d-bb2f-057a28ae14c7.gif

I’m a 21-year-old English major at Texas A&M University where we greet each other with ‘Howdy’ hence the greeting above. I’m from a small Texas town with a population of less than 5,000. My upbringing was basically an episode of Friday Night Lights considering my dad was a football coach and my mom a high school counselor. Julie Taylor and I even both love English (though, I pride myself on being 100x less whiny than the Taylor daughter).

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I’ve always liked writing, but then the Harry Potter series happened to me in middle school. I was determined to be a novelist from the moment I read “To Harry Potter–the boy who lived!” I’ve finished several manuscripts since then. Most of them are so bad that I’ve locked them up in a box and plan to burn them or throw them in the ocean. I haven’t quite decided which option to go with yet hence the reason they still live. I’ve been working on my craft for several years now. As I head into my senior year at my university, I feel more confident in my writing than I have in a long time.

Now to cut to the good stuff.

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WRITING

The manuscript I’m submitting for Pitch Wars is a YA fantasy. I was in a writing slump, but then I saw this video and was inspired. What would a world be like if everyone was colorblind? What would it be like to write a colorblind character who got to see colors for the first time? And then COLORBLIND was born. I took inspiration from the American Colonial era when writing. The romantic subplot is based on PERSUASION by Jane Austen because the angst was too good to pass up.

On this post, I don’t want to include what will be in my query, so I will try to write some aspects of the story that aren’t in it.

My main character investigates terrorists to earn her colors one by one from the goddess that rules over the one color she can see. After each color she receives, there is a flashback to an experience she had with her love interest that connects to the color. Her love interest is the only person she knows that has always been able to see all colors, so she relates the colors to him. In my mind, while writing, I separated the story into colors (e.g. she earns green in this chapter, so the next few chapters are the green section) and tried to play around with the “theme” of the color in its section, which was a lot of fun!

Choice is the main theme of the book, and it begins with a choice she made before the story began–allowing her parents to persuade her against marrying the boy she loves. Romance is a large factor of the story, but my main character’s relationship with the refugee that moves in with her family, along with her relationship with her parents are also central to the plot. My main character also finds a parental figure in the goddess that gives her colors which becomes a defining relationship for her and her development. When writing my main character, I wanted someone average with no title to her name or magical power other than her passion for the world and the colors she receives and what those colors represent to her. This story means a lot to me, and I hope I can find a mentor that will love it as much as I do!

FUN STUFF

Random Facts:

  • I’m a former Walt Disney World cast member
  • I won two state championships for high school theatre (Yes, Texas has competitive theatre)
  • I have a poodle named Elvis and a chiweenie named Chewbacca
  • I’m the middle child of three girls
  • I’d go to the movies every day if my bank account allowed it
  • I’m a Gryffindor

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  • I love Fall so much it hurts (cool weather, sweaters, the smells, holidays, football)
  • Tex-Mex gives me life
  • I can’t stop listening to Hamilton

Favorite Books and Authors:

  • Harry Potter (of course)
  • Sarah J Maas (I’m basically Feyre which means I must end up with a Rhys. Right?)
  • Anything by Jane Austen (Mr. Darcy *swoon*)7481c0ac-fee3-4b1b-9249-09c831757429.gif
  • The Infernal Devices
  • The Lunar Chronicles
  • A Song of Ice and Fire series
  • Vampire Academy series
  • The Hunger Games
  • JRR Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (the ultimate writer-friendship)
  • Percy Jackson
  • And so many more

 

Favorite TV Shows:

  • Game of Thrones (I met GRRM and brag about it every chance I get)
  • The 100
  • Bones
  • Gilmore Girls

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  • Reign
  • Boy Meets World (Cory and Topanga are everything)
  • Friday Night Lights
  • ATLA (Zuko has my heart)
  • Vampire Diaries
  • The Walking Dead
  • Jane the Virgin
  • And so many more

WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO WORK WITH ME?

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I am willing to devote myself to making this novel as close to perfect as we can get it. I’m so grateful for all the mentors and everyone running the contest. I would never waste your time. I take critiques well and am flexible. I’m completely willing to go on an Elle-Woods-after-Warner-says-she’s-not-smart-montage and work hard. I also would love to form a friendship with my mentor. Writing-friends are such a great kind of friends.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading. I’m awful at blogging. This is my first post in almost a year, but you can find me on Twitter @katiebhudson. If there are any other mentees who would like to talk please don’t be shy! Find the info for the Pitch Wars Blog Hop on Lana Pattinson’s blog here.

I look forward to hearing from you soon,

Katie Hudson

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Waiting and Writing

Well I am still waiting for replies from the two agents that requested pages. I haven’t gotten any more requests, but I have received many rejections which is disappointing but expected.

I still haven’t begun writing anything new. I am taking a Tolkien class this semester, so I have been busy reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Now I am onto The Silmarillion and hope to finish that up before the class starts.

But I really miss writing, so I am hoping to start something new soon. I still want to go with my “small town high fantasy” idea, but I have added a bit to it. I want the plot to revolve around a mysterious house in the town. The house secretly is sort of like this world’s Mount Olympus. All the gods and goddesses from the fantasy world live there. I think this would be fun because then I will get to make up my own mythology and gods and goddesses. Considering I am in love with Greek mythology I couldn’t think of anything more fun to do. I also like the idea of the people in this world only being able to see black and white and one other color. The other color they can see says something about them. I don’t know what yet. But when they are in the gods and goddess’ house they can see all colors. So that’s all I have so far. Hopefully, I can think up a plot soon, so I can began writing again.

Rejection

Rejection hurts. My querying process started out great with two agents requesting pages right off the bat. But since then I have had about five rejection letters. I’ve gotten these before so I am used to them, but I feel so strongly about this manuscript that I don’t know how anything else I write can live up to it.

I think I am going to send out a few more query letters to newer agents. They will have less sales under their belt, but are more likely to be taking on new clients. Hopefully, they will be more open to my idea.

In the meantime I am trying to keep the writing part of myself busy by thinking of a new idea for a novel. Part of me has really been wanting to do something with a small town because I grew up in one, but I just can’t bring myself to commit to something that isn’t high fantasy. I love creating different worlds and shaping my characters within them. So today I got the idea of having the majority of my story take place in a small town but have the small town be in a fantasy world. That’s all I got so far, so we will see if it leads to anything.

Meeting George RR Martin

Last semester was the absolute BEST semester of my college career so far. Not only did I get moved to the front row of an Ed Sheeran concert and take my first upperclassman Creative Writing class (more on that later),but I got the opportunity to meet George RR Martin. You know, the A Song of Ice and Fire (AKA GAME OF THRONES) George RR Martin. Yeah that one.

The library I work at holds GRRM’s (George RR Martin’s) personal collection of his work. So he popped on by to donate a first edition of The Hobbit to us. He had the his official presentation ceremony where he gave a public speech at my university, but the night before there was a private event that I begged my boss to let me work. She pulled some strings and I was in!

Most of the people at the event were donors of the library. I was the only student there except for some “maroon coats” who are basically there to schmooze over the donors. As soon as GRRM walked in I almost threw up. He looked just as I imagined from all his pictures, like a mountain man Santa. Basically, the whole night I stalked the famous author. At first I was too nervous to approach him, so I ended up hovering around him the first part of the night as everyone else took their chance to speak with him. There was a professional photographer there capturing the whole event, and I am pretty sure he was annoyed with me by the end. I was probably in the background of over half the photos.

As soon as I was getting my courage to say something to GRRM, they pulled him away to make a short speech. I groaned and went to take my place in the crowd to listen. When he was done I moved in on him before anyone else could. But as I opened my mouth I froze. What was I supposed to say? I wanted to talk to him about writing, and I was having visions of us becoming best friends forever and braiding each others hair. Finally, I found my voice and told him that I was a student worker who was studying Creative Writing. He asked what I wrote and I told him epic fantasy which he lit up at. But then an awkward silence stretched between us as I panicked to think of what to say next. I ended up saying it was nice to meet him and left.

Ughhhhhhhhh.

That’s how I felt after that moment. It was my chance to meet one of the most famous authors in the world and I couldn’t put two sentences together.

As the night grew late he moved into the room that had the first edition Hobbit displayed. I took a deep breath for courage and followed. He was sitting at a long table where we usually held meetings and classes at. Everything was much more casual and there were less people, so I was able to push my nerves to the back of my mind. A few others were in there and they were asking him questions. As soon as a silence hit I took a chance and asked if he had any advice for someone who wanted to be a professional writer. He went on to a long spiel about how much the publishing industry has changed since he first started and how it was a lot harder to start a career now. But eventually his answer came out to be that I should marry rich, so I won’t have to have a day job. We all laughed and I was completely giddy just by the fact that he was talking to me. I probably looked like a crazy smiling psychopath who was seconds away from falling over the edge.

Then he started talking about how it’s a long debated question if a true writer writes for themselves or other people. He said that even if he knew he would never sell another book, he would still write. He believed true writers couldn’t keep the words inside themselves. At that point I wanted to cry because I felt the same. It was a surreal experience.

The night ended and he left. So we didn’t have any best friend parties planned anytime soon, but I got to talk to GRRM and nothing could ever take that experience away from me. A couple days later I got an email that the pictures from the event had been uploaded. I went to click on them and there it was–the perfect picture of the two of us in conversation. I hadn’t even realized the photographer was there. I should definitely send him some cookies for capturing one of the most exciting exchanges of my life.

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Agent Update

I emailed my first round of queries and ended up sending out 16 even though I wanted to keep it around 13. But I am going to hold off on sending any more until I start to see what kind of responses I get. So far I have had 2 rejections and 2 requests of partials, which I am thrilled about! The 2 rejections have been from larger agents who already have their client list pretty filled up, so I knew they were a long shot anyway. I got a request for 30 pages from an agent yesterday so I sent that to her, and she just emailed me back saying she received them! The other partial request was the one from my top pick agent, and I have still yet to hear back from her.

Now it is time for me to wait for the other responses to come in. In the meantime, I keep going back and editing my manuscript. Each time I find more and more things that can be changed which is frustrating, but I know that every writer has this problem so I won’t dwell too much on it.

In other news, I have to pick up a lot of hours at work because I got a speeding ticket. Hopefully, this will keep me from sitting around my apartment and waiting for the responses from agents to come in. Now, I’m just ready for classes to start back up. Fall is my favorite season and football in Texas makes it the most exciting time of the year. So here’s to the rest of summer flying by!

Critique Partner

On previous manuscripts that I have attempted to find an agent for, I refused to get a critique partner. Part of me truly believed a critique partner couldn’t help me, but another part of me just didn’t know how to find one. The idea of sharing my story online with a complete stranger terrified me.

I finally sucked it up and searched for critique partners for THE ROYAL SLAVE (the current manuscript I am querying), but I wasn’t finding what I was looking for. Most websites led me to giant groups that had over a hundred people critiquing each other’s work. This wasn’t for me at all. Finally, I came upon an author’s website that had a small forum set up for people looking for critique partners. I thought I would try it out and entered the information about my book on it. A day later I got an email from someone who was apart of a small critique partner group. She asked for sample pages of my writing and a bit of information about my goals and critique styles. About a week later she invited me into the group, and my entire perspective on my writing changed.

Critique partners are golden. They helped me see my writing and my manuscript in an entirely new light. I discovered bad habits I didn’t even realize I had. My first chapter has completely transformed from a toad to a prince since I have gotten critiques on it. Sometimes it is hard to see the flaws in your work when you are so closely attached to it. Critique partners can help you take a step back from it, and see it as a first-time reader would. Critiquing others’ manuscripts also helped with my writing. I saw things that did and didn’t work in others’ manuscripts that I realized I did the same. Now, I feel as if I am able to see my own work from an editor’s standpoint instead of just a writer’s one.

Top Agent

I have a number one pick for an agent, meaning if I could choose any agent out there it would be her. The problem was that I was still finishing up edits on my manuscript, but she was closing her query box for the summer. I panicked when I saw this and went ahead and sent her a query letter. I was worried that I would send out letters to other agents and then one would want to represent me (wouldn’t that be the dream?) and I still wouldn’t have given my top agent a chance to see if she was interested. Now, that is a big long shot. Most likely no agents would be interested in my novel, but I went ahead and sent her a query letter anyway.

Two weeks later she wrote back and wanted to see sample pages! Then the dread came. I had worked my first fifty pages quite a lot but not near as much as I needed to. I went ahead and sent her the pages, praying that she could look past any of the bad crafting and see that my writing and story have potential. It’s been about two weeks now and I do not have a reply, so the waiting game continues.

I will be sending out a few other query letters pretty soon, so hopefully my excitement will pick up. There is nothing like seeing an email from an agent in your inbox. Those few moments as the world slows down around you, you crawl to the edge of the seat, knowing that your life could forever change with what is hidden behind that subject line, and open the email. Most of the time, rejection occurs, but just the hope that it could be something other than rejection is what keeps me sending out another letter.

Getting Published

Getting published is not easy. It’s hard. Really, really hard.

I’ve been trying to get a fiction manuscript published since I was fourteen. It’s five years later and I’m still trying. Looking back, I completely understand why I have been rejected time and time again. Now, I am a 20-year-old college English student that has studied writing for the past two years, and I finally feel like the manuscript I currently have could be the one that gets me published! Maybe, it’s because I love this manuscript. Like really, really love it.

THE ROYAL SLAVE was a manuscript born out of an idea I had been throwing around for a while about a race of people who could heal but with a catch–every wound they heal from others gets transferred to their body. I wondered how people with this ability would handle it. Would they sacrifice themselves for others? What would those powers mean to them? Then one day I was watching THE PRINCE OF EGYPT which is an amazing animated film by DreamWorks based off of the biblical story centered around Moses. In the film, Moses was born a slave but taken in by the royal family. He then must betray that family in order to set the slaves free. From the time I was a child I had been infatuated by the relationship between Moses and the Pharaoh. They were practically brothers, but Moses had to turn his back on him to do what is right. It’s a tragic relationship that I wanted to explore. So I began twirling these two ideas around in my head. Then, BAM. THE ROYAL SLAVE was born.

THE ROYAL SLAVE follows Mira, a healer that had the ability to take injuries from others by transferring them to her own body. She has trained her entire life in the endless woods of Columba to become Princess Cassia’s personal healer. Mira is meant to give her life one day, so Cassia, her closest friend, can continue living. However, when the time arrives for Mira to permanently move into the castle, something has changed. There are whispers of a forbidden word: slavery.

Mira does not believe she’s a slave, but forces around her try to convince her she is. Kit, the handsome sorcerer new to the castle, speaks of a mysterious land where healers are the royalty. Asher, Prince Caden’s healer, has died while Mira was away, and the details of his death leave Mira with many questions. Then, there is the threatening war with the people of the West, who believes that healers should be free.

Torn between her dream of living for Cassia and her new dream of wanting a life of her own, Mira begins a war with herself while a real war with the West arises. She is forced to choose between assisting the West or remaining loyal to Cassia. Mira’s decision sets her on a path that could affect the fate of all healers.

So, that’s the synopsis. We will see if it goes anywhere. I am almost ready to start querying agents, so fingers crossed!