Friday, March 29, 2013

Follow Friday

Follow Friday is hosted by Alison and Parajunkee.

Q: Tell us about the most emotional scene you've ever read in a book - and how did you react?

I think the most emotional scene I've ever read was at the end of Dear John where he's watching her remember their love affair, and he's alone in the world because he made sure she was happy. I cried.

There were some pretty emotional scenes in Pushing The Limits too. I responded by writing a letter to the jerk dad on my blog.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Jay Asher Is Comin' To Town!!

Hey friends in the Chicago Area (I'm in Milwaukee but drive b/c we never get authors) Jay Asher is coming to town! It's better than Santa Clause.

 On Thursday, April 11th at 7 pm, we are please to co-sponsor an event with Jay Asher, author of Thirteen Reasons Why, at the Skokie Public Library, 5215 Oakton St. in Skokie, IL. This event is free, registration requested at or by calling the library at 847-324-3149.  When high school student Clay Jenkins receives a box in the mail containing thirteen cassette tapes recorded by his classmate Hannah, who committed suicide, he spends a bewildering and heartbreaking night crisscrossing their town, listening to Hannah's voice recounting the events leading up to her death. Thirteen Reasons Why is the gripping, addictive international bestseller that has changed lives the world over. It's an unrelenting modern classic. Visit Jay Asher’s blog and follow him on Twitter

Show Days 2

Welcome to week 2 of Beth's "showing" exercises. If you want to know more about the "Show Days" Series click here. This will be the last "show days" until after A-Z.

I find a seat on the first bleacher. My daughter and her family are sitting three rows up. I'd rather be there, but I'll never make it up the steps. It's okay. I can see Matt well from here. I hunker into my coat and try to stay warm against the wind. It's not possible. My teeth clatter together from the chill, but I refuse to leave. I don't know how many more chances I have to see Matt play. "Yes!" I jump up too fast when Matt rushes the ball across the field and throws it the remaining twenty feet to pass the goal. "Ouch," I moan returning to my seat. I probably shouldn't move that fast again.

I'm going to miss this. But I'll make the most of the next six months, and truthfully I have as much family on the other side as I do here now.

Okay, you tell me. Who is the character? Where is she at? What's happening?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Susan Kaye Quinn On Serials

Last week I launched my future-noir serial, Debt Collector. I've been in love with obsessing about writing this serial since the idea struck me mid-January. Here we are, two months later, and I have four episodes written, one published, and I'm excited about taking this three-month journey across nine episodes with my readers, as  I  we create this series. In the end, I will bundle the season, so that readers who prefer all-at-once-reading to read-as-you-go, can enjoy the series as well. I take all comers! :) Before I embarked on this journey, I had a myriad of questions: how many episodes? How often? How long/short should the stories be? How does this whole "episodic storytelling" work? And most importantly: does anyone actually read these things?

Must Read TV Let's answer the last one first.

People are actually VERY familiar with episodic storytelling via TV. We watch everything from self-contained series like Law&Order and House to broad-story-arc series like Lost or Heroes. Some like the week-by-week suspense of Must Watch TV; others would rather wait until the season is done and get it from netflix so they can watch it back-to-back.

Ok, that's TV. What about books?

Ebook serials are a new thing, because ebooks are a new thing - but serials have been around since Charles Dickens wrote and released Great Expectations (self-published through his own literary magazine!) in 6k "installments" every week for nine months. Readers today aren't accustomed to reading in serial format because publishing serials was restricted to magazines, which were missing two key factors: 1) wide circulation (most magazines don't have it), and 2) a paying market (many ezines are free, and many paper magazines don't pay much for content).

Enter ebooks: low cost of transmission and access to a wide circulation. They're a natural for shorter works. At first, authors dusted off their short stories or wrote new ones... and sometimes those thrived. But for the most part, readers raised on novels craved longer works and more in-depth stories... which made serialization the next natural step. How Long? How Many? How Often?  Sounds like a smexy ad for... okay, we're keeping this PG. :)

Authors are experimenting like crazy right now with serialization. I've seen releases 1 week, 1 month, and 1 quarter apart. Number of episodes range from 5 to 15, length of episodes ranging from 6k to 40k. Forty thousand words! That's... a novel, people. (Note: SFWA defines a novel as 40,000+ words, which is about 160 pages.) So you can see that experimentation is all over the map.

I'm convinced none of that matters, with the slight caveat that the most successful serials to date have released every 1-3 weeks. Who Are The Successful (Indie) Serials? (note: trad-pub authors are also experimenting... see John Scalzi's Human Division)

Hugh Howey's Wool 5 episodes in first set (Wool) - total 530 pages first released as a single, then episodes 2-5 released over 3 months Episodes range from 50 pages to 250 pages (the last one was novel-length) 3 episodes in second set (Shift), 230-280 pages (this is really a trilogy of novels)

Third set (Dust) will be released as a single book

RaShelle Workman's Blood and Snow June 2012 - February 2013 12 episodes, released 2-3 weeks apart Each episode 12k (~50 pages) Total sales: over 130,000

Platt & Wright's Yesterday's Gone Three Seasons so far (fourth on the way) Six episodes per season, released 1-2 weeks apart Each episode 100+ pages

It's All About Story The question of "what makes a successful serial?" is the same as "what makes a successful book?" And the answer is the same: THE STORY

Hugh Howey's serial started as a short story, but he listened to reader demand and wrote more. RaShelle's Fairy-Tale-Turned-Vampire stories brilliantly captured the wave of demand for both those genres. Platt & Wright's post-apoc tale does the same. But all are successful because readers were drawn into the story, not because the format has some special pixie dust that made them successful. The only caveat is that readers can sample a series by trying the first episode or two - if they're hooked, they keep coming back. But as authors, this cuts both ways - readers can also stop buying the next installment at any time.

Once again: it's all about story. If readers like it, they will return. Which is why serialization is not the easy way out (see below).

Can I Sell My Novel In Pieces And Make More Money?


A serial is not a chopped up novel, just like a TV episode is not a chopped up movie. It's a different way of telling stories. In a way, it's more demanding than novels - you need to immediately draw the reader in, you have to reach some kind of reader-satisfaction-level by the end of the episode (even if you have a cliff-hanger), and you have to maintain that pace and storytelling arc over multiple episodes. You can pre-write all your episodes (and some people do), but the successful authors above all wrote-as-they-went, listening to reader feedback along the way.

Serials are the Advanced Ninjitsu of storytelling.
Serials are not the way to make easy money.
Serials are not a short-cut to getting your work out.
Serials ARE a new, exciting way to bring readers closer into the storytelling process and engage them in the creative process.
It's the hardest, best, and most fun writing I've ever done.
Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling YA SF Mindjack series. Her new Debt Collector serial is her more grown-up SF. Her steampunk fantasy romance is temporarily on hold while she madly writes episodes to keep Lirium (the titular Debt Collector) happy. Plus she needs to leave time to play on Facebook. Susan has a lot of degrees in engineering, which come in handy when dreaming up dangerous mind powers, future dystopias, and slightly plausible steampunk inventions. Mostly she sits around in her pajamas in awe that she gets make stuff up full-time. You can find her at What's your life worth on the open market? A debt collector can tell you precisely. Delirium (Debt Collector 1) is now available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Smashwords

Monday, March 25, 2013

This Week...

Okay, so I'm 42,300 words into a ms and I'm determined to finish by April 1st. Partly because my writing process requires letting it sit before rewriting and revising, but also because I'm expecting to have some edits to do soon, and I really want to have a completed draft first.

So my guest post will go up tomorrow like every Tuesday. "Show Days" (showing exercise) will continue on Wed. like promised, and I'm even running a contest to promote another writer on Thursday. But unless I finish the ms, in the middle of the week I may not comment as much as usual. If you drop by and I don't hit your blog the same day, I've not forgotten about you. I'll be by to visit as soon as possible.


Thursday, March 21, 2013


Yep. It's that time. Bloggiesta is here, and here is my to do list.

  1. Get Networked Blogs
  2. Get Linky Follwoers
  3. Set up an e-mail subscription
  4. Mini-challenge to be Book Depository Affiliate
  5. Mini-challenge to replace Google reader
  6. Mini-challenge to meet a new blogger.
  7. Start setting up A-Z posts.
Last year it took me eight months to complete my bloggiesta list. Hopefully, this year is smoother. Oh--I'm looking for book bloggers to promote during A-Z, so if you're a book blogger and want to be featured let me know.

Follow Friday

Follow Friday is hosted by Alison and Parajunkee.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure as far as reading? Is it a genre, or is it a certain type of book? 

Probably re-reads. 


Haunted at 17

In honor of my friend Nova Ren Summa's book 17 & Gone which released today,  she has asked other authors to talk about what haunted them at 17. So here is my attempt.

Seventeen was a hard year for me for a lot of reasons, and it was marked by a significant beginning. I turned 17 on 9/11/01. Yep. I was grounded for having a car wreck two weeks earlier(stupid, because grounding me didn't help me drive) but my mother ungrounded me for my birthday. It didn't matter. The whole town shut down. My one friend and I found a solitary fast food burrito joint open, grabbed a burrito, and took it to a park. Just being out felt spooky. On a normal day, the place I grew up feels like a ghost town. On this day, there was literally no one around anywhere. I took it in stride though. It's just one day. My dad didn't call for my birthday, even though someone flew planes into buildings. My mom was happy to point out my dad didn't call on my birthday, in spite of the terrorist attack.

In Payton's Place, you pay for your sin and the sins of anyone you might know. School was so bad for me, I'd already put myself in home school. I worked days at a fast food restaurant to pay for it, and took my classes online at night. I contemplated graduating early and getting on with my life because things weren't much better at home. But I didn't really have money to move away, or a plan for when I did it. I knew I wanted to go to college. I had no idea how to pay for it. Then it happened. The decision maker. I don't even remember what the fight was over, but something set my step dad off. He hit me. If you know me, you know I have a temper like the devil. At the time, I was small. I was nearly 100 lbs. lighter back then, and I don't think I stood 5'2. But he hit me in the face, so I balled up my fist and I hit that six foot man in the chest--couldn't reach his face--as hard as I could. What happened next is a blur, but I remember being knocked into the back door, and my mom screaming not to touch her kid again or she'd leave. She wouldn't. He stormed out, and she blamed me. I shouldn't have said/did whatever I said or did. Looking back on it with the perspective of eleven years, whatever I said did not cause his reaction. He was soley responsible for that, and she should know that.

Anyhow, four months after my 17th birthday, I moved to the city and started college. But the year didn't get better. I involved myself with many guys--lots of them bad--that I shouldn't have. I screwed up relationships that could have potentially been good, and put everything I had into people who were toxic. I was so afraid of being alone--of being unlovable that I contributed to my own pain. So there it is. It took me all these words to find the truth. I really didn't know the one word answer to what haunted me, but I've found it. The fear of being unlovable. The fear that the adults in my life were right about my lack of worth.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Show Days #1

As promised back in January, I'm learning to "show," and in doing so, I'm providing a six week series on just that. I've talked to so many people trying to figure out the best way to learn to show and how to do a series on it. Even people who are very good at this had a hard time telling someone else how to improve it. So school doesn't start until August, but I emailed the director of my MFA program and asked him please tell me how to show! When you ask a teacher for homework, you usually get it. So here is how we're going to do this. The first three weeks I'm going to write a paragraph putting a character in a random situation, and not tell you who the character is or where they are at. In the comments you tell me who you think the character is (age, title, however you want to do this) and where they are. The next 3 weeks, I'll post a paragraph from a book and discuss how it shows. So here goes:

"What's wrong, sweetheart?" Dad asks musing a hand through my hair. I shirk away from him. I'm not a kid anymore.
"B.J., behave," Mom scolds. "You weren't supposed to make plans this weekend anyhow. You know that."
I roll my eyes at her.
"B.J." Dad starts but the waitress comes to the table and slaps three drink drinks down.
"Can I take your order?" she asks.
"Yeah. Can I get a new life? Is that possible?" She touches her pen to the pad she's holding but pauses and looks to each of my parents confused.
"I'm sorry," Dad says. "Could you come back?" She walks away, and my dad's eyes follow her to the other end of the restaurant.
"Michael, could you make it a little less obvious?"
"What?" Dad asks her. Mom stands up and pecks my head. "I'll see you on Sunday."
I glare at her.
"You know not to make plans on his weekends. I'm sorry."
I clap my hands together in front of my chest and give a fake grin. "Yep, I totally knew he'd decide not to work this weekend."
Dad sighs and twirls his straw around in his soda. "You don't have to come, if you don't want to."
Mom stalls. "She should go."
"Yeah, Dad! I should come! It's not fair. Mom has to put up with me the whole rest of the month. If you don't take me today, she'll miss her chance to party hard! Hey, I've got an idea. I'm totally capable of making my own sandwiches and I'm a black belt in karate. Why don't you just put me up in a midtown hotel, and I can have my own life too! Then neither of you have to worry about me."

Okay, you tell me. Who is the main character? What's the situation? And where are we at?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

4 Things On A Tuesday

1. Okay, so I had all these brilliant post ideas to schedule on Sunday night, then I got food poisoning Saturday. I spent the rest of Saturday, and all of Sun and Mon alternating between hugging the ceramic god in the bathroom, sleeping, and trying to keep things on my stomach. No brilliant posts this week.

2. I'm still looking for book bloggers to promote for A-Z. If you're interested, let me know.

3. I'm looking for writers to promote too. I'll promote anything PG-13, so if you'd like to do a guest post, put up an excerpt, answer interview questions, or anything else you had in mind just shoot me an email.

4. Also, there are still a few slots open in my blurb writing class. You can register here, and if you're interested, I recommend you do. It's filling up. I'll be teaching you the same blurb writing technique I used when I queried with a 50% full request rate.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Follow Friday

Follow Friday is hosted by Alison and Parajunkee.

Reminder I'm still looking for book bloggers to promote during A-Z. You can get the details here.

Q: Activity! Hopefully warm weather for most of us is here soon…so tell us about your favorite outdoor reading spot. Or take a picture.

Sadly since we came to  WI, I don't have an outdoor reading spot. When we were in Texas, I used to love to read outside on my patio and could do it most of the year. Here lots of days in the summer(June) it's still under 70 degrees sometimes as low as 40. I'm not a fan of the WI.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dark Summer

This weekend, Lizzy Ford announced the re-release of "Dark Summer" (#1, Witchling Series), her groundbreaking debut young adult paranormal romance, now available from Amazon, Amazon UK</ a> and Barnes and Noble. Originally released in August 2012, "Dark Summer" soared to the top of the Amazon charts this winter. Evatopia Entertainment recently optioned the publishing and TV/multimedia rights and worked with Lizzy to revise and add depth to the first two books in the series. The revised version includes the integrated novelette ("Summer Night") in addition to new scenes that add deeper insight into the boarding school and characters. Lizzy estimates about 40% was added to the book to provide depth to the fascinating world of the Witchlings. Lizzy has extended an offer of providing free review copies to anyone who is able to leave a review on Amazon. If interested, please fill out the form at this URL with your email address! [URL:]

Dark Summer (#1, Witchling Series)

A school for Witchlings... The ultimate choice between Light and Dark... Where the price of a your soul. Sixteen-year-old Summer doesn’t expect her new boarding school to be any different than the rest: a temporary stay, until her uncontrollable magic gets her thrown out again. In her mind, there’s no point in getting too friendly with anyone. That is, until she notices Decker, the boy who will become the Master of Night and Fire on his eighteenth birthday. When she learns that this special school has attracted others with magic in their blood, she is hopeful that this time around, things may be different. Besides, she can’t deny her interest in Decker, and when he rescues her one night from the dark forests of the Rocky Mountains, their connection is instant. Yet a relationship with Decker may prove to be Summer’s downfall, forcing her to choose between Light and Dark, life and death, love – and their souls. One choice. One soul. One price. Available from Amazon, Amazon UK and Barnes and Noble

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Moving On

If you've followed this blog since the beginning, you know in 2010 I wrote a paranormal romance, Phantom Fires, that I really believed would be the next Twilight. It wasn't. It remains unpublished. After 105 rejections, I considered self publishing and eventually made the decision to shelve it. I always planned on rewriting it. Even after I got an agent, I still planned on rewriting it. But as I work though my WIP something happened without being planned. Most of the words--all of the important words--from my favorite line in Phantom Fires, made it into the WIP. So I think I'm okay with not rewriting PF, and that's good because I have new things to write

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Distinguishing NA from YA

There seems to be some overlap between the NA and YA genres, some of it is organic as there is bound to be some overlap in books about college kids and books about high school kids. And honestly some of the confusion comes from writers manipulating the categories for marketing purposes. My friend Faith Sullivan, author of Heartbeat is here today, to tell us what makes something NA. So here's Faith!

The New Adult genre is relatively new, hitting the scene less than two years ago. It's in its infancy stages, so there's bound to be some confusion surrounding it, until it becomes more mainstream.

Unlike Young Adult stories, the characters are not in high school. They are somewhere between 18 and 25. They're either in college or at a point where they're just starting out in their adult lives. For the most part, they don't live with their parents, they're on their own for the first time.

What is the main difference between New Adult and Young Adult? New Adult doesn't have to be as censored or as monitored as Young Adult. Boundaries can be crossed, rules can be broken. Most authors feel there is still some sort of morality element attached to Young Adult where an author would not want to promote certain types of behavior or address certain issues that are deemed as too adult for a reading audience between the ages of 13 and 17.

Many New Adult stories, not all, feature graphic sexual passages that can be labeled erotic. Passages you would never find in a Young Adult novel. But a New Adult can have a clean story, too. It doesn't have to revolve around sex. In fact, New Adult isn't only about contemporary romance. It segments into as many sub-categories as Young Adult - paranormal, fantasy, science fiction, etc.

There's a hefty decision making process behind why authors designate their books either New Adult or Young Adult. It's up to their individual preference and the audience they feel their story is best suited for in terms of promotion. Also, a lot of bookstores currently don't have a New Adult shelf, so an author may label a book Young Adult, even though it's a more natural fit for the New Adult market. But thanks to a growing awareness of the trend, hopefully the momentum will carry over from the ebook craze into the brick and mortar retail world.

For more information, I heartily recommend two great reference sites that are the online authorities of the New Adult genre.

NA Alley -
New Adult Book Club -

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

IWSG: Sweets Blogfest

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is hosted by Alex Cavenaugh.

Well, today is the day of The Sweets Blogfest. It's the first blogfest I've hosted in two years, so I'm nervous to see how it goes over. And it's to promote my novella The Other Marlowe Girl and my friend's novella Advantage Heartbreak, so that makes it even more nerve wracking! We need this to go over well!

Also, it's been all over the internet by now, so you probably already know, but I recently signed an agency agreement with the very awesome Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyons Literary Agency. So I have that fear that I think every newly signed author has...what if the next book isn't as good. Although at the risk of bragging, I have to say I think it's coming along quite well! ;)

If you have time, please check out our Sweets Blogfest.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Sweets Blogfest

The Sweets Blogfest is being hosted by Beth Fred(hey, that's me) and Kelly Hashway  to celebrate the release of our upcoming novellas. My book The Other Marlowe Girl will be available April 16, 2013 and Kelly's book Advantage Heartbreak will be available May 7, 2013.

The rules are to post the image, link back to us, and tell us about your favorite sweet of any kind. My doctor has put me on a no sugar diet, so I'm going to have to talk about sweet romance, which is fine because I love it anyhow! So my favorite sweet couple is Anna & Entiene, but I have to say Hernandez guys and Marlowe girls make a really "sweet" combination.

When twenty-four-year-old dance school drop out Kammy Marlowe is evicted by her mother, she goes to her favorite bar. She finds an unlikely friend in the blunt eye candy, Enrique. But Kammy knows there is no way she and Enrique have a shot because he's her brother-in-law’s brother and has been privy to her wild past.

Enrique swears he’s only interested in the person she is today, but their relationship is tested when her ex-husband's drug dealer attacks her, looking for money. With no options and a money hungry drug dealer on her back, Kammy accepts a position as a dancer at a strip club. But when Enrique shows up at the club, their relationship is over. With no reason to stay in Texas anymore, Kammy auditions for the Bolshevik Ballet and gets the opportunity to go to Russia. Only Enrique is determined to stop her.

Will she give up the chance of a lifetime to stay with the man she still loves?

Seventeen-year-old Meg Flannigan thought she’d made up her mind about love. But with two guys still vying for her attention, she wonders if she made the right decision. Ash is everything she’s ever wanted in a boyfriend: loyal, loving, and totally hot. But then there’s Noah: fun, sexy, and the more he sticks around, the more Meg wants him there.

What’s a girl to do?

Make up her mind, before it’s too late! Gorgeous freshman Liz has set her sights on Ash, and Noah is beginning to remind Meg of her last boyfriend—the one who broke her heart. Can she figure things out before she ruins not one, but two relationships? Or is she doomed to serve up heartbreak?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Elizabeth Arroyo On Revision

Hi everyone! Author of The Second Sign, Elizabeth Arroyo is here to talk about revision. Thanks for coming Elizabeth.

Thanks for hosting me today! I’m excited to be here.
Let’s talk about revisions. For me, the first draft is the fun part. It’s the part where anything and everything is possible. As a firm believer of sucky first drafts, they are for my eyes only.
The real work begins with revisions.
I try to let the manuscript sit for at least two weeks before I go back to read it.  During revisions, I concentrate on larger issues such as:
Plot-  Am I connecting the dots? Do things fall in place and make sense? Is there enough risk?
Character Development- What was the image of my MC in the beginning, middle, and now at the end? Has there been a significant change? Was this change fluid? Or is it forced? Are all characters relevant? Are they likeable? Real?
Scenes- Are all scenes showing what I want them to show? Is the transition narrative from scene to scene written well? Am I developing characters in scenes? Are the scenes moving the plot forward?
Dialogue- No talking heads.  Is there a balance between movement and speech in dialogue? Is the pacing right?
Everything research related has to be complete at this point.
It helps to change mediums for revisions.
I make changes on a hard copy of the manuscript. Once I’m done, I format a pdf version and read it on my kindle.
What does your process look like?

About the author
Elizabeth has worked in the community for the bulk of her professional career. She enjoys quiet moments, action flicks, and dancing with her four-year-old.  THE SECOND SIGN is her debut novel. You can find more information about Elizabeth at

Dark YA Paranormal Romance
By Sapphire Star Publishing

When a demon guardian comes to collect seventeen-year-old Gabby’s soul, she refuses to give it up. She’s not demon. She can’t be. Her father and twin brother are angels. The demon gives Gabby twenty-four hours to decide her allegiance, and then starts killing her short list of friends, leaving a message behind: She is the Second Sign.

As Gabby and Jake—her almost boyfriend—begin to unravel the mystery behind the Second Sign, she learns Jake may be the key to saving her soul. But it means a sacrifice has to be made that will change their lives forever.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Where I've Been...

So last week got busy. You may have already heard from facebook, twitter, or YALitChat, but I'm now represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyons Literary Agency. I also wrote sixty pages in five days last week! woo-hoo! I'll post more about this later, but for today I just wanted to say I haven't forgot about the blog. My lack of posts last week came from an abundance of writing.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Back To The Future Blogfest

The Back to the Future Blogfest is being hosted by M. Pax, Suze, and Nickie.
So on Saturday morning before you've had your coffee, or in my case hot tea, you get a package from yourself dated ten years in the future. What does it contain?

Well, as I open this package I find the ELF's baby book. She has pictures with teeth, and then pictures with no teeth again and finally pictures with real teeth. She a beauty at 10 years old. She wins spelling bees and science fairs and rewrites fairy tales. And on the very last page of her book there is a note that says "See Beth? Your lack of parenting skills didn't screw her up at all. You do have a lack of parenting skills, but she's resilient!"

And under the book one more thing sits in the box. It's a page from the New York Times, and my name is on it. My hand writing scrolls across the bottom the page. "Keep writing. You'll get there."