Thursday, November 8, 2012

Where I'm blogging now...

I've been quiet for some time on my personal writing and food blog, but I'm working on changing that... except I won't be posting on blogger anymore. I now have a re-designed website where all my projects and blogs are now living (and that includes my old posts). So go take a peek, and feel free to leave a comment!

Without further ado, find me here:!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Critique my query!

I'm participating in another one of Heather Webb's fabulous contests (more here), and this time it's all about crafting a great query letter! Whether you're participating in the contest or not, feel free to give it a read and let me know what you think...

* * *

After 18-year-old Anne Marie is shipped off to Paris to live with her grandmother, she plans to uncover the secrets surrounding her mother’s death. In her pursuit of the truth, she stumbles across the diary of Charlotte Corday, a French aristocrat entrenched in the politics of the French Revolution and someone Anne's mother once considered a hero.

Strange things start happening with the diary, causing Anne to time travel and become Charlotte, a seemingly calm and unpretentious woman who is known in history for having murdered Jean-Paul Marat.

Her two realities become increasingly intertwined. As Anne, her new friend Pierre tries to bring her in touch with her mother's past, while dealing with his own troubles that revolve around the riots ravaging Paris in November 2005. As Charlotte, Anne struggles in deciding whether or not to follow through with what Charlotte considered her destiny--killing one man to save 100,000--or to follow her own path.

THROUGH CHARLOTTE'S EYES is a 78,000 word YA historical fiction novel. I wrote a version of this story for my Masters thesis at The University of Chicago, where I also received an Honorable Mention in the 2007 Emerging Writers Series for Fiction. It should appeal to fans of Jennifer Donnelly's REVOLUTION and Laurie Halse Anderson's FEVER 1793.

Thank you for your consideration.


Elizabeth SanFilippo

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What I Aspire To

I recently finished Patrick Rothfuss's Name of The Wind. It's an epic novel. I typically don't read much fantasy, but this drew me in from page one. I was invested in Kvothe's life, in the hero he becomes. Despite the hefty size of the novel, I did not want it to end (and luckily it won't because there are multiple books in this amazing series).

But it got me thinking. What is it that I adore about this book so much? And what is it that adore about most books? John Irving has long been one of my favorite authors, especially his classic novel The World According to Garp. And while Irving and Rothfuss clearly write very different tales, they do have something in common: they write stories that dive deeply into someone's life, the heartbreak, the joys, and everything in between. They pull the skin of their character's over their head, literally getting inside of them and figuring out who they are inside and out. As such, the world building is amazing, and they make be believe in these characters and their plights.

That's what I want for my writing. I want to know my characters inside and out. I want to develop worlds that seem like they really and truly exist. That's what I strive for, each and every day I write. That what's I aspire to.

What writers do you like up to, and why?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Critique my pitch for 'Through Charlotte's Eyes'

I'm taking part in Heather Webb's super awesome pitch-ilicious blog hop contest. Read more about it here.

I'll let the pitch speak for itself... (but just add this is for my 80,000 word YA historical, Through Charlotte's Eyes).

Critique away!

When 18-year-old Anne Marie is shipped off to Paris to live with her grandmother, she tries to sort out the lies about her mother's death that have been propagated by a cold grandmother and a distant father. In her pursuit of the truth, she tumbles – literally – into the life of a distant relative, Charlotte Corday, who her mother once considered a hero. With her two realities becoming increasingly intertwined, Anne must decide whether or not to follow Charlotte’s destiny: to kill one man to save 100,000.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

On revisions

I'm in the midst of a set of revisions before sending the novel off to beta readers, and every time I revise, it surprises me just how much time it takes. Really, it shouldn't be surprising. At this point in the game, it's all about cutting out the things that just don't add to the story, and making sure every single last word counts... and that can take a boat load of thinking and time.

That said, it still amazes me what this novel has become. A bit of background: I wrote a draft of Through Charlotte's Eyes in grad school... officially four years now. But the draft was just... okay. Something was missing, some verve, some tension, and so I took a break for a couple years, worked on some other writing pursuits, started my freelance career, tried some new things, got engaged, changed jobs, got married.

Early last year, through the madness that is life, I dove back in. I rewrote my outline, cut it into pieces, and rearranged it again. I deleted entire scenes, entire diary entries, added characters, added more historical context (as long as it pertained to the story)...

When I finished my latest draft just days before the end of 2011, I breathed a big sigh of relief. I finally felt closer to the finish line. But really, in the scheme of things, it's just one step closer. The novel now tells the story I once couldn't grasp. There's something there, a story that I can't wait to share.

But, for now, I'm still trimming words. Staring at the computer screen, asking myself, is this the best way to show this? I like this stage in the process, even if it is a lot of work. And with each revision, each time I highlight a word, hit delete and make a better choice, I'm one step closer.

And what do I keep in mind through this writing process? A quote, because, if you know me, you know I love inspirational quotes.

So, for everyone in the throes of writing and/or revision, just remember:
"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Kafka: On reading and writing

We named our bull dog Kafka, and, in pursuit of learning more about our puppy's namesake, I discovered Kathi Diamant's book, "Kafka's Last Love." The nonfiction book focuses a lot on Kafka's last year in life, and it provided a lot of insight into who the man was... someone who wasn't ever satisfied by what he wrote and didn't want any of his works published. Thankfully Max Brod did publish his works.

While most of "Kafka's Last Love" focuses on Kafka and his relationship to Dora Diamant, Kafka can't be discussed without referencing his thoughts on writing, a pursuit he was incredibly passionate about.

One of my favorite, thought-provoking passages:
"I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we're reading doesn't wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves, if we had to. But we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the ax for the frozen sea inside us. That is my belief." (Pg 69).

That's not to say happy endings shouldn't exist in novels, I don't think. But novels should make us question and look at our lives more closely. And I think you very well could substitute "reading" for "writing" in this quote by Kafka.

Do you agree with Kafka? Why do you read? Write? Do you write about what disturbs you and moves you -- or is writing and reading for you pure escapism?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Look Back at 2011

To say 2011 was a busy year would be an understatement (and 2012 too, considering its already halfway through January!) But just because it was busy doesn't mean 2011 wasn't fabulous.

In May, I landed my dream job (other than my aspiring career as a novelist of course) at a culinary vacation company called The International Kitchen.

In September, I traveled up to my favorite U.S. city, Traverse City, to marry my favorite person ever.

In October, our family grew when we brought home a lil English bull dog puppy, who we named Kafka.

And then on December 29th, I finished the latest draft of my novel, Through Charlotte's Eyes. It hadn't been a 2011 resolution of mine, but it did feel amazing to finally get the novel written the way I wanted to, from start to finish. That's not to say it's done, but I am in the polishing stages, fact-checking, and all that. I'm almost ready for a beta read (contact me if you're interested!)

So, 2011? Pretty dang awesome.