Tuesday, July 5, 2016

#PitchWars Bio

Hi, I'm Jordan. 

I live in California with my husband and three kids. I'm an avid reader, travel enthusiast, and music lover. My current job title is stay-at-home-mom, so things can get a little crazy around our place.

I'm an aspiring YA writer and I just finished my first novel, a YA contemporary that takes place in Hawaii. You see, that's where I grew up.

This is me in the backyard of my childhood home.

I'm a newbie when it comes to #PitchWars, but I'm no newbie when it comes to writing. As a daughter of two English professors, writing is in my blood. I wrote my first picture book in grade school, won my first poetry contest in middle school, and received my first writing award in high school. In college (where I received my B.A. in English with an emphasis in creative writing), I worked as a writer and editor for a national magazine called LDS Living. Since then, I've contributed to two essay anthologies, Life Lessons from Fathers of Faith and Life Lessons from Mothers of FaithI've written a lot about my writing process in previous entries of this blog, so please feel free to peruse.

Here's my pitch for THE WAY OUR HORIZONS MEET (86,500)

Kam transforms from a homeschooled cowboy to a Hawaiian prince—all in the course of one summer. On his eighteenth birthday, Kam is shocked to find out not only that he was adopted, but that his Hawaiian birth parents were killed when he was an infant. Feeling like his world has been upended, he sees no other recourse than to leave his home in rural California and go on a journey to learn more about his parents and just what happened to them in the so-called “Paradise of the Pacific.” Once he arrives in Oahu, he meets Lily, a seventeen-year-old professor’s daughter who is intrigued by his quest and agrees to help him and to be his guide.

With the help of Glenn, Lily’s best friend and secret admirer, Kam and Lily discover that Kam descends from Hawaiian royalty, making him heir to a contested plot of land in Waikiki. The previous heir, Kam’s great-uncle, recently died, and the property will go to auction unless Kam claims it in time. The greedy leaders of Paradise Development Group will stop at nothing to get property rights to the land, including eliminating Kam like they staged his parents’ “car accident.” Unless Kam and Lily can prove the connections between Paradise Development Group and corrupt members of the Honolulu Police Department, they may become the next casualties.

Here are some reasons why I think I would make an excellent #PitchWars mentee:

  • I have writing experience. Hopefully, that means less editing time for you and a stronger grasp of the English language on my part.
  • I am passionate about my story. I wanted to capture the essence of living in Hawaii and the subtle beauty island life brings. I'm excited to share little-known Hawaiian history and folklore.
  • While I categorize my novel as "contemporary," it includes a little bit of everything: mystery, adventure, romance, dysfunctional family dynamics, social issues, and cultural commentary. 
  • I am willing to work hard to get my novel published. I am dedicated and appreciate any feedback a mentor could provide.

And now, for the fun stuff:

  • Favorite Books: Anything by Markus Zusak, the Red Rising trilogy by Pierce Brown, anything by Jandy Nelson, Pure series by Julianna Baggott
  • Books I'm Currently Reading: The Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard; Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond; The Girl at the Center of the World by Austin Aslan
  • Favorite TV shows: Gilmore Girls, Once Upon a Time, So You Think You Can Dance, West Wing, Friday Night Lights, The Amazing Race, The Good Wife
  • Favorite Music: I'm a big fan of singer/songwriters like Ingrid Michaelson, Marie Digby, Taylor Swift, Sara Bareilles, Ed Sheeran, etc...but I'm also a fan of emo stuff like Dashboard Confessional, Yellowcard, and Something Corporate.
  • Favorite Movies: Pride and Prejudice (2005), Runaway Bride, the Bourne series, the Hunger Games series, The Fault in Our Stars, Napoleon Dynamite 
  • Favorite Destinations: Egypt, New Zealand, Italy, Hawaii (of course)
  • Favorite Foods: spaghetti marinara, roasted Brussels sprouts, chicken, chocolate haupia pie, guava cake, and, of course, bread.

More bios? Find them here.

Any questions? I'd be happy to answer them. I'm on Twitter and Instagram @jordanmarigreen. Hope to catch up with you soon!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Doldrums: a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or depression

I haven't blogged in a while and it's because I've been trying to keep busy while waiting. The endless waiting for query responses.

It's a funny thing, when you deliberately try to distract your brain with tedious tasks and activities to prevent yourself from thinking of the one thing that always lingers in the back of your mind. When will I hear back from agents? Will any of them like what I've written? 

I wrote a little while ago about receiving my first rejection. I'm devastated  happy to announce that I've received several more. Since sending out queries just over 2 months ago, I have received seven rejections, including the full manuscript request I mentioned in the previous post. That one hurt the most. At least I got a bit of personalized feedback on that one, but it was still hard to have my hopes dashed. I guess I thought that the rejections from the others were less harsh because maybe they only read my query (or didn't even make it through my query). After all, if they didn't read a good portion of my book, they wouldn't be able to form a concrete opinion of it, right?


I haven't given up hope yet. I entered a contest and won a query critique from a real, live agent! Her feedback was really helpful, and was just the motivating nudge I needed to keep going. I revamped my query in preparation for another round of submissions. I also put my manuscript on a diet. Apparently, the ideal word count for YA novels ranges from 60,000-80,000. My original word count was 95,500, and it's currently 86,500. It was hard to shave off that much. I keep thinking the scenes I removed will make great bonus scenes for once I'm published (wishful thinking). I feel better about the range I'm in now. Maybe the high word count was a deterrant for agents.

While I'm happy to send out more queries and await agents' responses, I'm at a bit of a standstill for what's next. Should I wait to hear back before starting the sequel? Maybe I'll just start outlining it. I've been toying around with a totally different novel; I may want to explore that. The only problem is that it's summer vacation and having 3 kids at home all day is pretty rough on my writing career. I'll let you know what I decide!


Monday, May 2, 2016

Recapitulation: summarize and state again the main points of

I'm still recovering from Yallwest. I didn't even go on Sunday, and I'm still exhausted. It may have something to do with the killer workout I did on Friday (bad idea), but I'm so sore from standing in lines in the sun.

That being said...it was AWESOME! It was so cool to meet a bunch of my favorite authors and mingle among booklovers like me. Here's a bit of a recap.

On Friday, I went to the ticketed Fierce Friday preview night at the Santa Monica library. The majority of the time, I was sitting in line to meet Leigh Bardugo, author of the Shadow and Bone series and Six of Crows. Once the signing started, we wound through the library stacks to the place where we got to meet Leigh and get our books signed. 

She was really nice and hilarious. I'm excited to read Six of Crows. 

That night, I also met Marie Rutkoski, author of the Winner's Curse trilogy. I'm looking forward to reading the final installment, The Winner's Kiss. Marie gave me some great advice about improving my writing via all outlets.

I arrived at Santa Monica High School around 9 a.m. on Saturday morning, and there were already hundreds of people in line to get into the festival. We waited a while for the gates to open and then I joined the mob of people desperate for swag. 

There was some pretty cool stuff--a lot of tote bags, buttons, stickers--but my favorite swag was actual books! Some of them were ARCs, so I feel pretty privileged to get to read the books before they are released. The swag books I got were: And I Darken, Everland, What Light, and Black Widow: Red Vengeance. 

After collecting swag, I got in line to attend a panel about heroes and villains in books. While I was waiting, I spotted Neal Shusterman, author of the Unwind series and Challenger Deep. I bolstered my courage and approached him, asking if he would sign my copy of Unwind. He was super nice and graciously agreed. He also proudly showed me a bound copy of his book, Scythe, which doesn't come out until November. That day was the first time he had seen a bound copy of it. (I may have been tempted to snatch it from him and run, but he was so nice, I couldn't.)

In my star-studded state, I gave him my name to include in the book, though I bought the book for my husband, James, to read. I've read the whole series and I think he'll really like it. When I gave him the book, he saw Neal Shusterman's note: "Stay whole." He was super confused. I can't wait for him to read the book and understand the message!

The authors on the panel included: Ransom Riggs, Gwenda Bond, Victoria Aveyard, Sabaa Tahir, Leigh Bardugo, Neal Shusterman, and Kiersten White.

I have read books by most of these authors, so it was super interesting to get their take on hero and villain characters in their books, and the blurred lines between the protagonist and antagonist. And they're all really funny and nice. One of my favorite take-aways from the festival was how well the authors get along. I thought maybe they would see each other as competition, but from what I have observed on Twitter and in person, they're all really good friends and super supportive of each other. It's nice to know that should I one day become an author, I would be in a great community.

After the panel, I spent the majority of time waiting in line for signatures. I was able to meet Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, and they signed a copy of Illuminae for me. I haven't read it, but I really enjoyed These Broken Stars which was co-authored by Amie Kaufman. And in looking at all of the amazing graphics included in Illuminae, I am sure it will be like no other book I've read. 

I also met Ally Condie, author of the Matched series and Atlantia. I felt super lame because I lent my copy of Matched to a friend, so I didn't have one of her books for her to sign. She was really nice, though, and offered great advice on finding an agent. 

I didn't grab pictures with the other authors I met, but I met Kiersten White and got my ARC signed by her. She was really sweet and funny, too. When I told her that I wrote a YA novel, she complimented me on writing "the true genre." I also met Shannon Hale and her husband, Dean. They were nice enough to sign copies of Princess Academy and The Princess in Black that I'm excited to enjoy with my daughter, Eden. 

Although I didn't get to meet all the authors I wanted to meet, although I couldn't attend all the panels that interested me, although I didn't pitch my novel to an agent, I would say my experience at Yallwest was a major success. It was enlightening to meet the authors of books that have changed me. In some ways, seeing them in person makes them seem more human, more normal. In other ways, they almost seem more like celebrities and above us all. I loved interacting with them and sharing a bond of our love for books. I wonder if I'll ever experience that type of bond from the author's perspective. 

Another thing that I enjoyed about the festival was meeting other readers. I used to think that I was a hardcore YA book fan. I definitely am, but there are so many other fanatic readers that have read so many more books than I have. They know them all. They love them all. They had great recommendations and tips for navigating the festival. I am in awe of their love and support of a genre I love and support. More than 20,000 people came to the festival on Saturday. It warms my heart to know that people love reading as much as I do. Now, if someone could only figure out a way to add more time to each day so that I can read all of the above books....

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Author: one that originates or creates; the writer of a literary work (as a book)

I mentioned in a previous post that I will be attending Yallwest this weekend. I'm super excited to see some of my favorite authors and be among book-loving people like me. The line-up is incredible--over 100 YA authors will be in attendance. Many of them have written some of my favorite books. I went through the list to make notes on which authors' books I enjoyed.

Here's how it breaks down:

  • Victoria Aveyard, Red Queen, Cruel Crown: I really liked the first book in her series, Red Queen. It's a dystopian world with a caste system of Reds and Silvers, with Reds being the common people and Silvers having supernatural powers. The main character is Mare, who is a Red but discovers she has Silver-like powers. I read the novella that bridges the first and second book, which was pretty good. I'm looking forward to reading the second novel, Glass Sword.
  • Leigh Bardugo, Shadow and Bone series: A fantasy world with the supernatural Grisha, including Alina, who can summon light to fight the Darkling. Super dark and epic. I haven't read her next book, Six of Crows, but I'm planning on picking up a copy this weekend.
  • Alexandra Bracken, The Darkest Minds series: Another dystopian world where teenagers have supernatural powers (I'm sensing a theme, here). Ruby and love interest Liam, along with adorable Zu and hilarious Chubs, fight to stay out of rehabilitation camps and bring down the system. She has a new novel, Passenger, that I'm excited to read.
  • Ally Condie, Matched series, Atlantia: I really enjoyed reading the dystopian Matched series, in which teenagers are matched to each other based on personality and skill. Cassia and Ky, though matched, fall in love on their own. I also liked Atlantia, about a girl named Rio who lives in an undersea dome.
  • Arwen Elys Dayton, Traveler series: I've read the first two books of this series and they're pretty epic. It's like a futuristic world with elements of the past, all about family secrets and traveling through portals. The characters are fierce and likeable. Excited for the third!
  • Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Beautiful Creatures series: As is often the case, the book was much better than the movie. I loved the paranormal Casters and the southern charm. Lena and Ethan were adorable. I haven't read anything by either of these authors since, though I did notice that Margaret Stohl's Icons is on my list. I'll have to check it out.
  • Shannon Hale, The Books of Bayern series: I really liked the world created in this fantasy series, and the books that highlighted the various characters, Ani, Enna, Razo, and Rin. I like how they all connect and yet stand alone. She's written a bunch of other stuff I want to read, e.g. Princess Academy and Austenland. 
  • Amie Kaufman, These Broken Stars series: I loved these sci-fi books. Again, amazing world development and connecting characters throughout a series, similar to Shannon Hale. I loved the romances and witty banter. Beautiful covers and an epic finale.
  • Marie Lu, Legend series, Young Elites series: Marie Lu can do no wrong. I love both of her series. The characters are diverse and complicated and the stakes are high. The worlds are imaginative and tangible. Definitely need to reread them all, and excited for the third in the Young Elites. 
  • Alyson Noel, Soul Seekers series: I've only read one of the series' that Noel has written, and it was interesting. Like a fantasy set in a contemporary world of New Mexico. It was complicated and a required a lot of "in your head" time. I would like to see what else she has written.
  • Mary Pearson, The Remnant Chronicles: This is an author I've read more recently. I listened to the first two books in the series on audiobook and am currently reading the corresponding novella while waiting for the next installment. I like the fantasy/dystopian aspect and the love triangle. A lot of witty banter and swooning.
  • Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine's series: I recently finished the third and final installment of this series, and my, it was quite peculiar! I loved the way the story incorporated odd vintage pictures. I wonder what else he's written....
  • Veronica Roth, Divergent series: Being like Veronica Roth is every aspiring YA author's goal. She wrote Divergent in college and she's super young (younger than me) and has this huge franchise with movies and such. She seems super cool. I loved the books. Still haven't seen the third movie.
  • Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor & Park: I really liked this book. It was quirky and outside the box and heartbreaking. While I wasn't a fangirl of Fangirl, I do like her writing style and am interested to see what else she's written.
  • Marie Rutkoski, Winner's trilogy: Another awesome fantasy world with a slave and ruler falling in love. I love the interactions between Kestrel and Arin. Definitely want to buy book 3.
  • Neal Shusterman, Unwind series, Challenger Deep: Another author who can do no wrong, in my opinion. I LOVE the Unwind books; I will gobble up as many as I can. I also really enjoyed Challenger Deep, which was totally different and thought-provoking and incredible. I want more!
  • Sabaa Tahir, An Ember in the Ashes: A fantasy set in a Rome-like world, with Laia, the slave, becoming a spy in the military academy, where she falls in love with Elias, one of its top students and her enemy. Love it. Can't wait for the next one.
Wow. I may just spend the entire weekend waiting in line to greet the authors and gush my love all over them. And I may spend all of my money on books. I'm gonna need a bigger backpack.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Rejection: the dismissing or refusing of a proposal, idea, etc

Rejection: I knew it was coming. It was inevitable. And now that I've received my first rejection, I'm actually feeling okay about it. I'm not feeling dejected (sad and depressed; dispirited) and maybe that's because I prepared myself for the high likelihood of rejection. Or perhaps I'm not too disappointed because I did get a full manuscript request on Saturday. That definitely bolstered my attitude. Maybe my rejection is balanced out by my full request.

At least I got a rejection. That means the agent actually cared enough to respond to the query. I could have gone weeks without hearing back at all, which sounds much more torturous. And it's actually in my favor to have agents reject me because it helps me narrow down the field to find the right agent for me. I wouldn't want an agent to half-heartedly agree to a project they weren't stoked about just to avoid hurting my feelings. 

And now, I can get consolation from Ryan Gosling:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Idiom: a word or phrase that is not taken literally

It's been two days since #DVPit so I figured I would give an update on how it went. It was an exciting day full of anticipation...would an agent like one of my pitches? I swung from hoping I would wake up with dozens of likes to praying I would at least get one like. At the end of the day, I had five likes by agents and a retweet from an editor, which I'm pretty happy about.

Here's the breakdown of what I sent.

Agent 1: query, synopsis, 50 pages
Agent 2: query, 10 pages
Agent 3: query, 20 pages
Agent 4: query, 25 pages
Agent 5: query

The last agent only requested a query, but a couple hours after I sent it, she requested for me to send 50 pages. That's gotta be good news, right? RIGHT?!

I've since queried five more agents and that's all I'm going to query for the time being. Now's the fun part...when I get to just sit and wait. I hate waiting. I'm not a very patient person. It's nerve-wracking imagining them reading or not reading my query...or using it as an example for a horrible query. So I'm still stuck between the optimism of a new author achieving a dream and the pessimism of the heartbreak that will soon follow. 

A phrase I've been saying a lot lately in reference to waiting for agents is "I'm not counting my chickens before they hatch." Idioms are weird things. I distinctly remember my mom finding a poster in Park City...I believe the year was 1997. Anyway, the poster is entitled "Proverbidioms" and it contains illustrations for common American idioms. My mom bought it to show her ESL students, but I remember my brother and me spending a lot of time searching for the various idioms. Here are some examples:

What do you see? Apparently, there's an app that you can play to spot the different idioms. Maybe that will keep me busy until I hear from agents.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Diverse: showing a great deal of variety; very different

Tomorrow I'm excited to participate in a Twitter manuscript pitch event called #DVpit. It's an event created to showcase books about and created by diverse people, within marginalized groups such as race, religion, disability, or sexual orientation. I first heard about the event right after I joined Twitter and thought it would a perfect time to introduce my novel to people, as agents and publishers will be actively participating in the event. If they like my pitch, it's an invitation for me to send them a query. Just a good way to get exposure within a defined theme.

Unfortunately, this amazing opportunity to spread awareness to underrepresented groups has become a controversial topic on Twitter feeds and led to backlash. Some people feel that only people who identify within one of these marginalized groups should be able to share their pitches--not so called "mainstream" authors who only cover these topics within their books. That would mean that I, a white, straight, able-bodied author, shouldn't be able to participate.

My argument is that I'm interested in bringing attention to the diversity of my book, which features a melting pot cast of characters representative of the population of Hawaii. While one of my main characters is a haole girl raised in Hawaii, the other main character is Native Hawaiian, a racial group that has dwindled dramatically since the arrival of foreigners. Though some demographic researchers say that the Native Hawaiian population may make a comeback in future years, current census statistics only put the Native Hawaiian population in Hawaii at 5%, while Asian population in Hawaii is 38% and White population is 24%.

When I wrote my novel, it seemed only natural to include characters from a variety of races and cultures: Hawaiian, White, Japanese, Chinese, Samoan, Tongan, Black, Korean, etc.  That's what it's like living in Hawaii, which I can accurately say from my experience growing up there. I don't have an agenda in including diversity in my novel. That's just how life is.

The whole purpose of creating an event like #DVpit is to highlight marginalized authors AND characters, and their unique experiences and perspectives. The purpose is not to be more disparate and exclusionary. There are so many stories out there from which we can benefit. And though I may not seemingly fit into one of the marginalized groups as an author, aren't we all marginalized in a way? If we could only write about our own personal experiences, there would be no fiction category. We write to explore other experiences and situations, not merely to catalog our own. And in my case, I'm doing my best to represent the cultural diversity I loved when living in Hawaii.

I wish the best of luck to all those participating in #DVpit. We all have something to share with the world!