Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Writer Spotlight - Brandi Lynch!!

For one of my two first writer spotlights I chose Brandi! I chose her because she's doing a lot of the right things, like researching, reading blogs, following twitter, and posting her work for critique on forums. But she can't get past the query stage. Not even a partial has come her way. Yet. :) 

She's written three manuscripts at this point, and even though it's hard for her to put herself out there, she's here and ready to get some advice. She's ready to know where she's "gone astray". 

Brandi is an amazing example of not giving up. She still continues to write and she continues to send it out in her journey to find representation. Her passion and determination are quite inspiring!

I started by asking Brandi some questions about herself and her writing. Then she was awesome enough to paste her work for your critique. (She will also receive a detailed critique from me via email) 

When did you start writing? How long have you been writing? 

The first story I wrote was for a fifth grade English assignment. We were supposed to write about spring… I wrote a story about a girl whose name meant spring. (I like bending things.) I started writing for fun when I was 12. I had part of a story in a notebook at my seventh grade orientation that got passed through two rows of kids before I got it back. I never really stopped, though I did have several breaks. It wasn’t until the last few years that I’ve been able to give it the focus I wanted and needed to.

What category/genre do you like to write?

I’m a fantasy girl. High or contemporary, fantasy is by far my favorite.

How many books have you written? Tell us a bit about them.

I’ve written three novels. The first two are high fantasies, and the third is a contemporary YA fantasy. Since I suck at titles, I’m not going to name the first two. The first one took a little time to come around, but I love Nick. He’s half-mad, the champion of pixies, and his best friend’s an overly cheerful swordsmith. And he loves a good story.

Asher is my second novel and is also high fantasy. Asher’s got a small problem with a fire spirit cohabitating his body and a dark wizard who wants to use his power to claim the king’s throne.

Then there’s WE REMAIN LOST. One day, my MC popped into my head and said, “Hey, I’m Charlie Brimm.” I’d never had a character do that before. I was supposed to be writing sequels for Nick and Asher, but I couldn’t get Charlie out of my head. So, to the rumblings of my teen beta readers—affectionately known as the Angry Mob—I started in. He took me out of my comfort zone of swords and magic and made me get personal in a way I hadn’t done before. I liked the idea of faeries, but I didn’t want to go the traditional Seelie/Unseelie route, so I bent mythology to suit my needs. I created my own fey, tied them to my love of music, and set it all in the city of Kroewe. The Angry Mob loved it. (And forgave me for my sequel neglect…for now.)

Do you outline or write from the hip?

From the hip. I admire those who can plot out their entire novel. I’ve tried to outline, but I’m not organized enough for that. Not to mention, I’m not always sure where I’m going…

When do you find time to write?

I write whenever I can. In free moments at work, in the kitchen while I cook. Sometimes, I write in the notes on my phone when I’m supposed to be going to sleep.

Have you had anything published or other credentials?

I have a BA in writing and many pencil nubs, but as far as publishing, I’m a newb.

Do you have a favorite book/author?

Haha! I have so many. I really can’t name just one.  

What’s your favorite music to listen to while writing? And writing snack food favorite?

Rock. Lots and lots of rock, from Tool to Halestorm, Apocalyptica to Janice Joplin. With some Trans-Siberian Orchestra thrown in here and there. Chocolate is brain food, hehe.   

Who’s your favorite hero? Heroine? Couple in literature?

Oh, do I really have to choose? My favorite hero would have to be Ged from Ursula K. LeGuin’s EARTHSEA saga. He’s badass powerful, but he’s humble, too. Though he does have to learn that the hard way. My favorite heroine… I’m fond of Nynaeve from Robert Jordan’s WHEEL OF TIME series. She’s brave, an unmatched healer, and stubborn as a mule. Currently, my favorite couple would have to be Nora and Bram from Lia Habel’s DEARLY, DEPARTED. They’re so sweet and I fear they’re going to break my heart.

Anyone you want to give a shout out to?

To my beta readers, the Angry Mob, for sure. They keep me going with encouragement…and the potential of pitchforks and torches if I don’t get my butt moving. I have to give props to my friend, Roy, whose email I clog with 1,000 word clips of WIPs, and to my mom who told me my MC in my first novel cried too much. (He did.) To my friend and beta reader Jolene, who spawned the name Kroewe. My fellow writers, of course! Without great things to read, I wouldn’t have the inspiration to write. And thanks to you, Cupid, for the chance to let me talk about myself!

Please share a query and first page for critique:

YA Contemporary Fantasy
68,000 words

Dear Awesome Agent,

The crush of bodies packed onto the dance floor. The held-breath hush before the first note. The roaring cheer between songs: seventeen-year-old kinetic Charlie Brimm lives for it all. When the house lights go down, he throws himself into the music...and feasts on the brilliant auras of the human crowd around him. Not only do they drown out the stage lights, they keep Charlie alive and healthy—if not completely satisfied.

When Charlie’s techno menu gets swapped for a rock band, he’s unprepared for what he finds. The lead singer, Len, is like no one he’s ever seen before. Her voice and aura leave him speechless, breathless, and craving more. She’s the girl of his dreams. But her band mates don’t want him hanging around. They have another mission besides rocking the ears off the local teens. If they have their way, Charlie will be dinner for an ancient faery come the fall equinox. They need Charlie starving before then, but the more of Len’s aura he absorbs, the smaller his appetite gets. That’s bad news for the band, but Charlie creates another problem. Their singer’s falling for him. The closer she and Charlie get, the less she wants to gather the other ingredient for the big meal...the city’s teens.

This is one meal Charlie plants to skip. If he can dodge the band until the fall equinox passes, he can save the teens and go back to his world of music and energy. But staying away means letting Len and her stabilizing aura go, something Charlie has no stomach for.

WE REMAIN LOST stands alone but has series potential. I graduated in 2007 with a BA in writing from the University of Central Arkansas. 

First 250:

Everything living gives off colorful haloes of energy, creating what human seers like to call auras.

I like to call them dinner.  

Dinner’s where I’m headed right now. With all the clubs, concerts, and parties a guy can crash, the city of Kroewe is the perfect place to get some energy. Which is important for a kinetic like me. All I gotta do is throw myself in the middle of a crowd, get close to the auras that appeal most to me, and draw some energy here and there until I’m satisfied. And no one knows anything happened.

 I’m hitting a club called Beatz tonight. Techno’s not really my style, but the place is always packed when they’ve got DJ FYXE. I love watching the kaleidoscope of energies as everybody hits the dance floor. With all the reds, blues, yellows, and greens mixed together, it’s like my own light show. In front of me stands a cute redhead. I know she’s interested because she keeps glancing over her shoulder at me and then giggling with her friends. Too bad her aura’s a funky mix of greenish-pink and red. She’s got some issues going on I’d rather not taste. The glances over her shoulder are becoming longer and slightly uncomfortable stares, but since I’m curious why the line seems extra-long tonight, I introduce myself. “Hey, I’m Charlie.”

Red giggles with the girls around her before she answers. Already I’m wishing I’d kept my mouth shut. She’s gonna be hard to ditch when feeding time comes, and I’m not in the mood for her brand of bruised energy tonight.

Anything else you’d like to share:

If anyone wants to connect with me, I spill out random thoughts on writing, games, and the occasional poem over on my blog. The link’s www.branwrites.blogspot.com. I also lurk here:

Twitter at @branwrites.

Google+ as Brandi M Lynch

Goodreads as Brandi M Lynch

LinkedIn as Brandi M Lynch

Thank you for reading everyone and thanks for the spotlight Brandi! 

Please leave your critique of her query and first page in the comments! 

(To read MarcyKate's spotlight click here!)


  1. Hello,
    First off I have to say that this sounds like an awesome twist on the faery concept and I loved the first page--his voice is strong and authentic and he seems like someone I'd want to spend more pages with.
    For the query I'd say it needs to get more specific and I only say this because I had my query critiqued recently and it all came down to concrete details. After I pinned these down, it made my query 100 times better.
    For instance in the first paragraph of your query there is some great language and a nice intro for your MC but I might rearrange the first couple of sentences to say something like..."17 year old kinetic Charlie Brimm lives for...(insert your awesome descriptions here)..." I only say this because that way we start with a character as opposed to an image of a dance floor, because in reality your character is a way cooler thing to focus on.
    In the second paragraph we learn more about the stakes which is great, that is one of the most important things about queries--introducing the MC, his stakes, and how he is going to get out of them. We learn that his affections for a tasty rocker girl could possibly lead to his demise and he uncovers a darker plot from her group in the process. This is awesome and intriguing. What I would suggest is narrowing down some of the specifics, like...
    "Why does her band not want him hanging around her? Do they know what he is? Why do they want him to be an offering to the older faery? What is it in for them? Are they faeries too? And why does Len getting closer to Charlie make her not want to gather the teens for the feeding? Is it because he brings out the humanity in her?" I know these may sound simple to you, the creator, but to someone who knows nothing about them it can make a huge difference to know these little details. (These were the types of questions I got from my critique and while I didn't answer them all, I got where the critiquer was coming from and nailed down some details)
    Answers to these questions will reveal more about the characters and make readers like them before they've even read a page of your book and it also gives us concrete details about the plot without giving too much away about the story.
    I hope this helps...I'm only relaying what I've learned by getting my own query critiqued several times and hope it gives you some ideas. It is a good query with lots of interesting aspects, but giving it some concrete details could really make it sharp.
    I was interested in Charlie from the query alone and then the first page made me love him! You've got a great voice for this character and I'm routing for you!

  2. Mind if I have a go? :) [Requisite disclaimer: this is all just my opinion. Others may (and no doubt will) feel differently. Please feel free to use or ignore my suggestions as you see fit :)]

    So first of all, you’ve got an awesome concept – which is the most important part. The bad news is, you don’t have a hook (yet!). The beginning sounds more like prose that belongs in your story than in a query. Also, this is really wordy opening which is going to turn some agents off. Something short, sweet, and punchy would be a better setup to the story. I know you want to setup the scene, but for me it isn’t providing the hook you need to reel in those requests. Think about what really makes your book unique and what makes it stand out, both plot-wise and character-wise. Then try to fit it into one sentence. :) Not easy, but definitely worth it!

    One thing in the opening paragraph that’s confusing for me is the reference to Charlie as a “kinetic” – it’s totally cool to make your own terminology, but you have to be careful when picking things that have actual meanings and making sure the context is clear. Here, combined with auras (which are static, generally, and so conflicts with the idea of kinetic) it’s confusing. Aura’s are usually associated with emotions or magic, so the idea of kinetic energy is definitely different, but I think it needs more context and perhaps even a direct (and very brief) explanation of how that works. Also, I really want to know how it effects the people he takes it from (because if you’re using energy as the basis, it should – law of conservation of energy and all :P)

    A couple other things stood out to me in the query:
    1) “When Charlie’s techno menu gets swapped for a rock band, he’s unprepared for what he finds” Who swapped it? Why? This makes me curious because it feels intentional, but then nothing else comes of it. If it’s not intentional or important, this could be cut. It’s enough for us to know he goes to clubs where theres’s lots of music and dancing.

    2) LOVE the part about Charlie becoming the dinner for the faery. Very cool. Would love to see (briefly) more details about why Charlie and why the faery needs him for dinner (aside from being hungry :P)

    3) “They need Charlie starving before then, but the more of Len’s aura he absorbs, the smaller his appetite gets.” What happens to her when he absorbs her energy? What are the consequences? If he’s getting more and more sated, she must be losing something. This is a great opportunity for more conflict! Also, I’m a little confused – Does Charlie know they plan to eat him? It sounded like it earlier which makes him seem not too bright for continuing to hang out with Len. This may need to be clarified a bit.

    4) “If he can dodge the band until the fall equinox passes, he can save the teens and go back to his world of music and energy.“ This sounds too easy. He just has to avoid them? What stands in his way? What does he DO to save the teens (because it sounds like they’re going after them with or without Charlie). This really needs to be teased out to make the agent want to keep reading.

    1. Apparently I'm long-winded because it said there wasn't enough room in the first part of the post to put my thoughts on your first 250. :P

      250 WORDS:
      You’ve got a good teen voice going here which is great. That’s one of the hardest parts! I have a couple of nitpicks then more general thoughts in #3:

      1) “I like to call them dinner.” This is an AWESOME punchline, but the opening line above it could be tighter and snappier to match.

      2) “Techno’s not really my style.” Disconnect – from the query, it sounded like Techno is EXACTLY his style.

      3) I think, for me, what’s missing here is tension. This all feels a little too easy. It’s an everyday thing for Charlie (or at least, it feels that way). I don’t have a sense of what this character wants (he doesn’t even sound that hungry) nor of what’s standing in his way. Has it been days since he fed? Is he going through withdrawals? Is he desperate to get inside so he can get his fix? (If the answer is no, obviously ignore those ideas! LOL) We need more of a reason to read on – will he get inside or will the bouncer not let him in? There should be a connecting thread pulling the reader through, something compelling them to turn the page. A question, a conflict – those sorts of thing will do that.

      Overall, you've got a great concept with some unique twists (Fantasy Writers FTW!), you just need to highlight what makes it really unique and draw out the conflict earlier. If you can do that, it should start standing out more in the slush pile.

      And you know, KUDOS to you for doing the spotlight. Querying is such a rough business and you're obviously weathering the storm a lot better than most in spite of the lack of nibbles. They'll come eventually!

      GOOD LUCK!

  3. Thank y'all for the suggestions. Sometimes I feel like Wyle E. Coyote or Brain when trying to write these things.

  4. Hi Brandi,
    It's SO cool that you're doing this spotlight. Isn't Cupid awesome?! I love the first 250 words. You've done a great job creating the voice, especially with the 2nd line. LOVE it. I have two suggestions for the query. My first reaction was to start it with: 17 year old Charlie Brimm lives for (add condensed version of the previous lines). But my second reaction was to start your query almost the same way you started your 250. Maybe use the first two lines and substitute "I" with 17 year old Charlie Brimm...I think I like that because I want to see the sentence "I like to call them dinner" as it'll add to the voice of the query. Just a thought.

    Otherwise, the only other thing I think I would say is the query isn't completely clear to me, but I think it's only because I know zero about faeries. I had to reread parts and I think fans of faery novels would know exactly what you meant right away. We'll chalk that up to my ignorance, not your writing. :)

    Best of luck to you!!