Wednesday, October 31, 2012

WOW: Whisper Falls

WOW is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. My pick this week is Whisper Falls by Elizabeth Langston and published by Spencer Hill. It's expected to be available November of 2013.

The cover caught my interest and I loved the blurb!

"While training for a mountain bike race, high-school senior Mark Lewis spots a mysterious girl dressed in odd clothing, standing behind a waterfall in the woods near his North Carolina home. When she comments on the strange machine that he rides, he suspects something isn’t right. When Susanna claims to be an indentured servant from 1796, he wonders if she's crazy. Yet he feels compelled to find out more.

Mark enters a ‘long-distance’ relationship with Susanna through the shimmering--and temperamental--barrier of Whisper Falls. Curious about her world, Mark combs through history to learn about the brutal life she's trapped in. But knowledge can be dangerous. Soon he must choose between the risk of changing history or dooming the girl he can't stop thinking about to a lifetime of misery."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Destroy Me Book 35

"Perfect for the fans of Shatter Me who are desperately awaiting the release ofUnravel Me, this novella-length digital original will bridge the gap between these two novels from the perspective of the villain we all love to hate, Warner, the ruthless leader of Sector 45.

In Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me, Juliette escaped from The Reestablishment by seducing Warner—and then putting a bullet in his shoulder. But as she’ll learn inDestroy Me, Warner is not that easy to get rid of. . .

Back at the base and recovering from his near-fatal wound, Warner must do everything in his power to keep his soldiers in check and suppress any mention of a rebellion in the sector. Still as obsessed with Juliette as ever, his first priority is to find her, bring her back, and dispose of Adam and Kenji, the two traitors who helped her escape. But when Warner’s father, The Supreme Commander of The Reestablishment, arrives to correct his son’s mistakes, it’s clear that he has much different plans for Juliette. Plans Warner simply cannot allow.

Set after Shatter Me and before its forthcoming sequel, Unravel Me, Destroy Me is a novella told from the perspective of Warner, the ruthless leader of Sector 45."

I enjoyed this book, but I have no idea what Tahereh Mafi was trying to accomplish with it. I totally sympathize with Warren, and I want him to get Juliette. I remember how badly I wanted things to work out for Juliette in Adam in Shatter Me, but I don't care anymore. I need Warren to get his girl! Mafi's emotional writing style is back in full force. But I'm sure Juliette's not going to go for Warren who I think is the more interesting choice now. And I want to see her help redeem him. I think that would just be the most beautiful love story ever.

The one thing that bothered me about this book is that something big happens and the book just ends. Ends at what should be the midpoint. This is truly a 3.5 star book, but I'm giving it 3 because there is no half star on goodreads.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Follow Friday

Q: What writing device or trick most irritates you when reading a book? For example, if an author employs an omnipotent narrator that is sometimes considered bad form.

I used to hate present tense, but I've gotten use to it now. I guess there is no one trick that drives me crazy, but I don't like poor craft, especially underdevloped characters. And it's not really a device, but I hate reading a romance novel where the writer relies on sex instead of relationship building.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hollow Bloghop

Reminder, if you have a U.S. Mailing address, you can win a stack of books here.

The Hollow Bloghop is being hosted by Sunset Reviews and Forbidden Passions.

For my part, I'm giving away two ARCs of Kismet. The contest is international, and you don't have to be a follower to win. If you like me stick around.  If not, no hard feelings. But I would like it, if you would mark Kismet as "To Read" on goodreads.

The Next Big Thing Week 20

If you are here for the Hollow Bloghop go here, and you can win a stack of books here.

I was tagged by Rachele Alpine, and I think her debut novel just came out, so look for Canary.

What is the working title of your work-in-progress?
A Missing Peace

Where did the idea come from? 
I think from life. In college, all of my friends were international--Asian. My husband is Indian, like straight from India. We've faced a lot of discrimination (sorry, I don't know what else to call it). The green card interview we had to go through was both dehumanizing and alienating, and my own family members supported, because, "we have to make sure people that come here aren't terrorists." The government employee at the interview said the same and went furhter--"it's your fault you're here. You could have just as easily married an American citizen and you wouldn't have to be here." My Catholic sunday school teacher of a husband was and is not a terrorist. He has been mistaken for a Muslim or an Arabic more than once. The obvious answer is, "Wow, you're way off." But what if he was? I don't think it would matter. So I wanted to write something about a love that survived intercultural hatred. My thought was a U.S. soldier and a Muslim woman. Icouldn't figure out how to make it YA. Without knowing this, my husband told me to write something  about a refugee and a soldier's kid. I decided to make the refugee Iraqi, because I wanted her to have an upper class background. A Missing Peace was born.

What actors would you choose to play your characters in a film version?
I have no idea.

Write a one-paragraph summary

Angry seventeen year old Iraqi war refugee Mirriam Yohanna hates her new life in Killeen,Texas, where the main attraction is a military base, and army brats like Caleb Miller think it's okay to call her beautiful or anything other than her name.
Mirriam turns him down in front of everyone. But Caleb is not discouraged and volunteers to be her partner for a government project, so he can woo her to prom and win a bet. As the two start spending time together, Mirriam proves to be a good friend to have. When Caleb's leg is crushed in a hit and run, Mirriam is there to pull him out of the street and push him to keep living. She's also able to tell him the shocking truth about his soldier father's death. Something the other soldiers would never do. That single truth changes both of their lives and strengthens their bond.
Caleb and Mirriam have fallen hard for each other, but when her family finds out, they decide it's time to arrange her marriage to a proper Iraqi man. She must find a way out.

How long did the first draft take to write?
With the exception of 20 pages I'd written earlier, about ten weeks. And I was taking care of a new born! GO me!

What other books would you compare this to, in your genre?
If I had to compare, I would say Perfect Chemistry. But I've never seen anything quite like this in YA. It's Romeo&Juliet meets a military cover up.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
See where the idea came from.

What else about this story might pique the readers’ interest?
It's fast paced with a good deal of action and a whole lot of romance.

I'm tagging for next week:
Nickie Anderson
Patrice Caldwell
Lauren Ritz
Kate Larkindale

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

3 Sentence Pitch

Can you guys help me turn the stuff below into a three sentence pitch.
My Attempt...
Seventeen year-old Iraq war refugee Mirriam Yohanna hates her new life in Killeen, Texas where the main attraction is a military base, and army brats like Caleb Miller think it's okay to call a gril you don't know beautiful, or anything other than her name. Forced to spend time together by a government project, the two become an inseparable pair, and when Mirriam is able to tell Caleb the hidden truth about his soldier father's death their lives are irrevocably changed.When her family learns about her new found love, their response is to arrange her marriage with an Iraqi man, and Mirriam is desperate to find a way out of this arrangement--to be with Caleb.

Query Blurb

Angry Iraqi war refugee Mirriam Yohanna hates her new life in Killeen,Texas, and hates that boys like Caleb Miller think it's okay to call a girl you've never met beautiful—or anything other than her name.
After Mirriam turns him down in front of everyone, Caleb's up to the challenge of taking her to prom when his friends dare him. As the two start spending time together, Mirriam proves to be a good friend to have. When Caleb's leg is crushed in a hit and run, Mirriam is there to pull him out of the street and push him to keep living. She's also able to tell him the shocking truth about his soldier father's death. Something the other soldiers would never do. That single truth changes both of their lives and strengthens their bond.
Caleb and Mirriam have fallen hard for each other, but when her family finds out, they decide it's time to arrange her marriage to a proper Iraqi man. She must find a way out.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Reluctant Bachelorette Excerpt

I love clean romance (and there isn't nearly enough of it) and supporting writers, so today we have an excerpt from The Reluctant Bachelorette!

  “So relieved to know you keep everyone’s orders private.” Taycee leaned across the table and whispered loudly, “Because I’d die if anyone found out I’d ordered a chicken salad sandwich with
curly fries.”
   “I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that then,” a deep voice spoke from behind. “I’d hate to see you die before we have a chance to catch up.”
   Taycee froze even as her heart pounded. No. Not now. Not here. Not when she was wearing her oldest jeans and rattiest T-shirt and arguing with none other than Liza Woolrich. It wasn’t
   Slowly, Taycee twisted around, and then clenched her jaw to keep it from dropping. It was like watching the Captain America movie where the scrawny guy goes into the machine and comes out
looking . . . well, everything but scrawny. Not that Luke could have ever been called scrawny before. Skinny, maybe, but that was about it. Now, he looked toned. Robust. Solid. And drop-dead gorgeous. His dark, wavy hair was shorter now, but his eyes—those amazing, beautiful eyes—were still that rich coffee color that used to melt her heart.
   Used to. Used to, Taycee! Get a grip. It’s been ten years for Pete’s sake. 

To find out more about The Reluctant Bachelorette or author Rachel Anderson visit her here. What books are you looking forward to?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Follow Friday

You can win a stack of books here.

Follow Friday is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee.

Q: When you step out of your usual genre what do you read? Best books in that genre?
I think it's safe to say my usual genre is YA though that may be changing. Most recently other than YA I've read clean adult romance(and I love this too). Best in that genre is Maddy's Oasis, or probably anything by Lizzy Ford.

Insane Contest

I'm giving away books! Lots of them. I would like to include pictures, but that involved moving to a computer with a card reader, and while ELF is being quiet I have to make a go of this.

So just trust me.

I have an autographed copy of Cold Fury available internationally.  For people with a U.S. shipping address I have:

Thou Shall Not Road Trip
Size 12 Is Not Fat(adult; cozy)
Where I Belong, and A Long Way From You (this is the complete series)
A Hero For WandLa (MG)
Geek High
You Against Me(hardback)
When You Were Mine(hardback)
Pregnant Pause(hardback)
The Future of Us(hardback)
Blackwood (autographed)

You do not need to be a follower. The one mandatory entry is that you go here and tell Robert, "Beth says hi." You will get an extra entry for liking The Book Stall's fb page (even if you did it for a previous contest as long as you have not "unliked" them). You will get five extra entries for grabbing my button. I worked hard on that button. Haha. I've been trying to learn to make a button since April. And of course one extra entry for every social networking site provided you leave links. I will  need to know in the comments if you're international or domestic. Thanks! Contest ends next Thursday.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bright Star Cover Reveal

Can I just say that is an interesting cover?! Bright Star by Nickie Anderson will be available Nov. 21.

It's bad enough that Sadira Pascal's father doesn't make it home to celebrate her fifteenth birthday. He might be a busy hovership engineer pulling overtime on a new design, but he's always been home for the important things. It's worse when she discovers her father decided to ride on the maiden voyage of his newest ship, the CAS Bright Star, without even telling her. But things really fall apart during Sadira's field trip with her class to observe the hovership launch. Instead of a successful flight, she watches theBright Star fall out of the sky.
The Central government confirms her father's death, leaving Sadira to pick up the pieces of her former life. While she struggles with her loss, Private Baruj Haddad tries to convince her that her father and the rest of the Bright Star crew are still alive. At first, Sadira doesn't believe there's any hope. But then she stumbles across a message that makes her think maybe, just maybe, her father is still alive. As she digs deeper into the Bright Star's crash, Sadira uncovers secrets about her father's work, secrets that put her and everyone she loves in danger.

What books are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Why You Should Query That Horrible Manuscript

Yep. Time for more of Beth's unconventional wisdom. (If you don't like it, don't listen, but hear me out).

So you wrote a book. If this is the first time you've done that, chances are it sucks. It's okay. It's tens of thousands of words of experience you wouldn't have under your belt had you not taken the plunge. If you're like me, your instincts are strong enough to tell you it sucks, but maybe not strong enough to know how to make it not suck. You've heard all the horror stories of the dreaded first manuscript. How other writers are so embarrassed by their first ms they wish they hand't shown it to anyone, so you put that horrible first manuscript in a drawer, preferably one with a lock.

The next manuscript you write will be better. While I'm not willing to guarantee it because there is always the exception, it's almost a certainty. However, when you're ready to query that next stronger, better manuscript, you've never written a query letter. Your first query letter will most likely suck too. Why? First of all, they're hard to write. Knowing what to include and what not to is almost an art in and of itself. But also because like writing, and like most things in life, you get better at writing queries with experience. And there are things you can learn--valuable lessons--from a query it's hard to learn otherwise, like taking lots of rejection, what works/what doesn't, how to construct that intro research paragraph about how well you know a perfect stranger.

Your first manuscript has about the same odds of becoming the next bestseller as you do of winning the lottery, but writing a query doesn't cost a dollar. Keep this in mind while querying it (so you don't buckle into a spiraling depression). But you can learn, and what you learn from attempting to market your work is as important as what you learn about your work. Sometimes you get feedback, "I see potential, but ___." No one likes the "but," however that "but" tells you what to improve on next time.

For the record, I did not query my first manuscript, because it sucked. I had a friend who did query her first manuscript, though she later decided it was not so great. However, we started querying our second manuscripts at about the same time, and I was way behind the learning curve on the process. Do I regret not querying that first horrible manuscript that absolutely would not have gotten published? Sometimes. Because I think the experience for my second manuscript might have gone differently if I had. My second full length manuscript, received about 100 rejections. But by the time I queried the last 15 people, I'd gotten so good at queries I had started getting requests. Imagine what the outcome would have been if I'd started querying with that experience under my belt. 85 chances I wouldn't have wasted. I've only queried once since then. The second time I queried three small presses with a short story. I got two full requests. Not bad results.
Did you query your first manuscript?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Guy Speak

Before we get started there is a review of Kismet at Art from the Heart today.

I got the suggestion early in my manuscript that I needed to punchier dialogue for a conversation--"guy speak" was the term.

I need help putting this convo in the lingo:

Josh and Matt both laughed. “You're on a roll man,” Matt said. “And that's sad cause Kailee...”
            He didn't finish the sentence, but he didn't have to. I knew what he was thinking. Kailee's easy. Everyone had said it since the freshman year. But all of my friends wanted to date her.
            I was glad I didn't defend Mirriam when Kailee called her a raghead. This girl had only been here for five minutes, and she already knocked me down. “I can still get any girl I want.” I leaned in, so Kailee couldn't hear me. “Kailee and I will be at Kevin's party Friday night.”
            “That doesn't prove anything. Kailee wants to jump your bones, and everyone knows it,” Josh said.
            “And you don't want her, and everyone knows that,” Matt added.
            I didn't answer.
            “I don't think you can get any girl you want anymore,” Josh said.
            Matt nods. “He's just another football player now.”
            “How do you want me to prove it?” I growled. I wasn't used to being humbled like this, and it grated on my nerves.
            “Get Mirriam,” they say.
            “Fine. I'm not really into Muslims, but before the year ends, Mirriam and I will go on a date.”
            Josh shook his head. “Take her to prom.”
            Well, that would only shave off two weeks I could still do it. “Or?”
            “If you don't, you owe me $1,000, and you have to drive around with one of those stupid on your gear shift and a fuzzy pink cover on your steering wheel for the rest of the year.”
            “And when Mirriam and I see you at prom, you owe me $1200 and you're driving around the same.”
            Josh laughed hysterically and Matt echoed him. “It's a deal, but just curious, how do I end up paying more?”
            “You don't have to put with Mirriam all night. Pain and suffering."

Friday, October 12, 2012

Follow Friday

Follow Friday is hosted by Alison and Parajunkee.

Q: What book do you think would make a great Halloween movie? Please explain in graphic detail of goriness...

I don't know. Twilight or The Secret Circle, because of the vampires and witches, or maybe something with a rich fall setting. 

Query Help

Dear Agent,

Insert research statement. I would like to share my contemporary YA romance, A Missing Peace with you. It's Romeo&Juliet meets a military cover up.

Angry Iraqi war refugee Mirriam Yohanna hates her new life in Killeen,Texas, and hates that boys like Caleb Miller think it's okay to call a girl you've never met beautiful—or anything other than her name.
After Mirriam turns him down in front of everyone, Caleb's up to the challenge of taking her to prom when his friends dare him. As the two start spending time together, Mirriam proves to be a good friend to have. When Caleb's leg is crushed in a hit and run, Mirriam is there to pull him out of the street and push him to keep living. She's also able to tell him the shocking truth about his soldier father's death. Something the other soldiers would never do. That single truth changes both of their lives and strengthens their bond.
Caleb and Mirriam have fallen hard for each other, but when her family finds out, they decide it's time to arrange her marriage to a proper Iraqi man. She must find a way out.
Told in alternating points of view, A Missing Peace, is complete at 52,700 words.
Per your submission guidelines, I have attached _____.
Thank you, 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Admitting Defeat

Last week, I issued a challenge to help improve my use of language. I set out to write flash fiction limiting myself to words found in five books. I didn't realize skimming for words in a papberback is far more difficult than searching for them in a word doc. (Duh, Beth). So I've written a flash fic (yesterday's haven't started on today's). I made a list of words used in my story and started crossing them off as I came to them, but it's taking forever, and with my four month old incessantly screaming, it's just not going to happen. Once I determined what words I was/was not allowed to use I'd need to rewrite. So I'm admitting defeat. There's a story below if you're interested.

I perched on a large rock looking up at the land. At the life I would never have. A tall handsome man strolled along the sidewalk in front of the beach. I watched him like I did every day A bubbly blonde with a fake smile bounded at him from a cottage across the street, handing him a coffee cup. I saw more than the fake smile plastered to her face. I knew this girl was not who he thought she was. He deserved better. Like me. Yeah, right. I'd need legs to have a chance with him. One more thing I would never have.

As I was about to leap back into the water and swim away, a beautiful woman sat down beside my rock. She looked me right in the eye. Humans couldn't usually see me. Interesting.

"I saw you watching him," she said.

"You're very observant," I said not sure my voice worked in a pitch humans could hear.
"That girl isn't what he thinks."
"Again with the observations."
"If you had legs you could give him another option."
"I know," I said the sarcasm gone from my voice.
"I'd be willing to trade you. I could give you legs for a lock of your hair."
I plucked a strand of my hair and gave it to the woman. Lightning cut across the sky, and the next thing I knew I was stretching long slender legs across my stone. Exposed except for my bra top.
"Clothes?" I asked.
"I promised legs not garments. You're on your own," she cackled.
There was a public beach a little further down. I shot my head from side to side making sure no one was around. Then, I scurried across the sand wanting desperately to savor the feel of it against my feet but not daring to stop until I reached the coveted sundress thrown against the ground. Someone would be missing this later, and for that I was sorry. But I needed it now.
I pulled the dress over my head and not knowing what else to do walked into a little cafe along the beach. The man I watched every morning sat at a stool along the bar in the back of the room.
"I want coffee," I said. I always dreamed of drinking coffee.
My handsome man looked at me and smiled then back to the woman behind the bar. "On me, Chloe."
He touched the empty stool beside him. "Sit down," he said to me. I was lost on land with legs I wasn't steady on yet, but his warm smile told me everything would be okay.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Follow Friday

Follow Friday is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with your blog? Is it to one day become an author yourself, just for fun, maybe get some online attention, or maybe something very different?

For me, it's to improve my writing. I started my first blog to have somewhere to write every day, because I heard writing every day would improve my writing. I realized quickly I had nothing to say and started reviewing books. I learned so much doing reviews! I still do reviews, and now, when I find an aspect of craft I'm bad at, the blog is the perfect place to hone that skill. The greatest part is people with more experience often stop by and tell me how I'm doing. For example, when I was working plotting, I would post plot points to well known books and let people tell me how accurate my analysis was.

The Challenge

If you were around Wed. you know I issued a challenge. Here it is. Next week will be flash fiction week on Beth's Blog. I will be writing a story each day (less than 1000 words) using only the words available in the first five pages of well known books.

When I announced the challenge, I wasn't sure which five books I would use. Studying opening pages to pick five excellent books to use, I've already learned something. See, I was looking forward to the opening five pages of Wintergirls. "Body found in a motel room. Alone." How could you not craft a good story out of that? Then I realized body, found, in, a, motel, room, alone are seven individual words. Alone none of these words are especially dramatic. It's the combination, "Body found in a motel room. Alone," that sends a chill down your spine. But that's Laurie's combination not Beth's. I can't write an original story using her combination. So I've put a challenge within a challenge. I'll be writing a romance using only words found in the first five pages of Wintergirls, and a chick-lit style break up scene using only the words found in the first five pages of Lonesome Dove.Ha! McMurtry have a cow! (And fortunately he supplied me with the word pig)!

You're welcome to take part in the challenge. If you leave a link, I'll read your stories.

1. write a story using only the words found in the first five pages of that day's book.
2. Tell us which book you found words from somewhere in the post.
3. You may create names for your characters using something other than words found in the book. This is the only exception.
4. Push yourself. Do not borrow phrases from the author.
5. Get creative. You're limited by words not punctuation.

Mon-Imaginary Girls
Tues-Shatter Me
Fri-Lonesome Dove (I chose this one, because it's not YA so the language is different, it's well known (successful), written by a fellow Texan, and was my Grandpa's favorite book).

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

IWSG: Totally Secure!

As you know The Insecure Writer's Support Group is hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. And it's a funny day for it, because I'm feeling completely secure. Don't get me wrong, I still suck. I suck less than I did two years ago, and in two years I will probably suck even less. Recently, I talked about the progress I've made, and the way I still had to go here. But in spite of my use of language being weak (or maybe not even weak just not as strong as I would like it to be), my re-writes are going well. I'm enjoying my manuscript and feeling entirely optimistic today. Rather than ranting (which I have been known to do) I'd rather move forward. New goals. New lessons to learn. Progress.My vocab is limited for a writer, and my use of language could be stronger. Fine, I'll teach myself to use stronger language the way I taught myself to plot or blog.

In fact, I'm issuing a challenge. Next week, I'm writing flash fiction for five days. Each day, I will be writing a beginning, middle, and end limited to the words found in the first five pages of my favorite works. There may be a couple of poems thrown in for good measure. After all, we have five days to cover. Feel free to join me.

I can do this. I am confident. In the process, I will strengthen my use of language and learn to bend words before my third set of rewrites.


Monday, October 1, 2012

The Journey

Not so long ago I took a writing class taught by the amazing Nova Ren Suma. Her agent came to one of our chat sessions (it was an online class) and answered questions about the industry and about writing for one full hour. One thing he said really caught my attention, "It's a journey, not a goal post." I understood what he was getting at, but I didn't really believe it. I felt that if I got an agent (I'd still like an agent), I would be happy, because my writing has improved so much.
My writing has improved. In Dec. of 09, I started writing Redemption. I finished it in Jan of 10, and it sucked. Everything about it sucked. It mimicked Stephenie Meyer's voice (nothing wrong w/ her voice except that it's not mine), there was way too much physical description, and the characters were not well rounded. I knew it sucked. I did  not know how to fix it, so I didn't revise. I didn't even write for a while. I just read. A few months later (March or April of 10) I started writing Phantom Fires, which I still refuse to believe sucks. But it has some problems. Primarily, the plot. It does have one. It's just not strong and with all the subplots, it's hard to tell what the main plot is. Determined to improve, I wrote Chance Encounters. It sucked as bad as the Redemption. Back to square one. But the problem was still plot and pacing. With an identified problem, I could find a solution.

I started taking books apart on my blog. All of my favorites, and I tried to stay with well known books, so I could ask people if I had correctly identified the plot points. I found I had a harder time identifying the main plot in a paranormal romance. Interesting, because this was primarily what I wrote. With a new understanding of plotting, I wrote a short story, and a novel for Nova's class. I did improve on plot and pacing--like ten fold. So much so that where my pacing used to be slow, now it's almost rushed. (I can fix this). My plot is strong. (Yay!) But now that I'm rewriting the novel I can see my use of language is weak. Too many overused words. Too many un-needed words (and this word count is already low). New problems. Now, I need to improve my use of language. At this point, I can see I will constantly be trying to take my writing to the "next" level. It's a journey not a goal post.

Any suggestions for improving actual language? Where are you on the journey?