Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Big Dreams Bloghop & Hiatus

The Big Dreams blogfest is hosted by Misha Gericke and me. On the last Friday of the month we celebrate our progress or lack thereof. This month I'm celebrating the lack there of. I was supposed to rewrite Perfect Harmony in the past tense. It didn't happen. I have no idea what else was on my list, but I'm sure it didn't happen. I've only written seventy unusuable pages this whole year, which makes me sad. This time last year, I'd finished two books. But I do have things to celebrate. I found a day job so I'm going back to work next week, which I'm sure means even less writing will happen. I'm having to move again but my husband and I both found jobs which eases a crisis. Because in February we learned his current company would be shutting down this location soon. But because of the move I won't have internet access for a week thus the hiatus.  I'm just happy I got things straightened out for my family right now. I'll have to try to pick up speed with the writing this month. And I actually feel like I need a break. Yet, I don't want to quit writing. I'm not sure what kind of break to take. I just know my one attempt at writing fiction this year failed miserably.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Many Sides of Medusa Blogfest

First my apologies to Kelly and Heather, because this was supposed to go up days ago. Geez. I cannot keep up anymore.

Thank you for stopping by the Many Sides of Medusa Blog Hop hosted by Heather Lyons and Kelly Hashway! 

Door Prize: Your door prize for joining us is the short story prequel to the Touch of Death series titled Curse of Death. It's the myth about Medusa and how she was cursed by the goddess Athena. Claim your free gift by clicking here.

Heather and Kelly are teaming up to show you a very different side of Medusa. Forget the monster you might think she was, and check out these excerpts from The Deep End of the Sea and Touch of Death. You just might change your mind about Medusa.

The Deep End of the Sea excerpt:
The Deep End of the SeaBut there’s no way around it. I am, in fact, a monster. A hideous one, to be precise, but as I don’t have any mirrors on Gorg√≥na, I can’t verify that one for certain. I rely on the fact that every single person I’ve frozen over the ages boasts abject fear on their face, which makes me believe they find me pretty horrifying. And it sucks. It genuinely, truly, absolutely, unequivocally sucks. I hate stealing lives.

Thus, not only am I a monster, I’m a really lousy one. A lonely, classic Five Stages of Grief following, insecure, shut-in of a pathetic beast who talks to the snakes on her head and the statues on her island.

Find Heather online: 

Purchase The Deep End of the Sea on Amazon or B&N.

Touch of Death excerpt:
My hair blew up, flying wildly all around me. My blood bubbled in my veins like boiling water, but it didn't hurt. It was the feeling of power. Too much power. My body felt like it was going to burst. Still I held on. My eyes closed, and I threw my head back. An imaged filled my mind. Medusa. Her snakes wriggled their bodies at me, flicking their tongues. Chills ran down the backs of my legs, but I forced my eyes away from the snakes. Lower. To Medusa's face. She smiled at me. Her face and eyes filled with warmth. She looked like…Mom.

"Do not fear me, Jodi. My blood lies in your veins and in your heart. you are one of mine. My children."

Find Kelly online:

Purchase the Touch of Death series on Amazon or B&N.

If you want more Medusa, be sure to check out The Deep End of the Sea and the Touch of Death series. And…Heather and Kelly have a giveaway for you. Enter on the rafflecopter form for your chance to win a $20 gift card to either Amazon or B&N, Medusa Makeup lipgloss, signed bookmarks from both authors, buttons for each book, and Touch of Death stickers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 17, 2014

Perfect For You Cover Reveal

I read this as a draft and it's awesome!

Perfect for You
Sophomore year in high school comes with its own set of problems. You're no longer a freshmen, but you're still two years away from ruling the school. So, you sit and languish in a kind of purgatory until junior year, when things start to get interesting.

That is, unless during your sophomore year, you find your boyfriend making out with another girl in front of your locker. Then, interesting takes on a whole new meaning, and that's what happened to seventeen-year-old Meg Flannigan. It's no wonder her self-esteem suffered a major hit.

Now a senior, Meg catches the eye of not one, but two guys at school (I know, right?). They happen to both be gorgeous, and each vies for her attention in the most flattering of ways. Sounds good, right? Not if one of the guys is her boyfriend, and the other one wants to be.

Meg doesn’t want to lose Ash. They’ve been together for almost five months, and she’s falling in love with him. But Noah. Ah, Noah. He’s the irresistible guy Meg has been crushing on for two years, and she isn’t ready to send him away either. But stringing both along could have disastrous results, leaving Meg in the cold once again.

One thing's certain. Meg needs to decide between Ash and Noah soon, or she'll lose her perfect match forever.

PERFECT FOR YOU was released previously as two novellas. Ashleyn wanted to give her readers more, and has decided to write an entire novel based around Meg's story.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

You Are Not What You Write

Last week, a couple of people on my facebook posted a well-intentioned article written as part of a campaign to end the "r-word." (For those of you who do not know what the r-word is, they are referring to the word "retarded" being used to compare someone who has done something stupid with someone who has a disability). I'm in agreement with the concept of the campaign. Although,this word is no longer used for diagnosis as far as I know.

But what I didn't like is that the author has "lost all respect" for actors who use it in lines, directors who allow it, and the people who write it." She goes on to say she doesn't care to hear about how your characters don't reflect you and your freedom of speech. And this is where she lost a reader. Because using the same logic, Gone With the Wind, Tom Sawyer, and To Kill A Mockingbird shouldn't be read. She doesn't want to hear about how your characters don't reflect your views, but she doesn't seem to grasp the concept either. You're not what you write. Your job is to create flawed human characters. (Humans are flawed by virtue of being human). To create a world so believable a reader is lost in it. If you "pick up a dictionary" as she suggests this won't happen. Using another word instead of the right word is never okay. You can create politically correct literature to your heart's content. But if I sense for a second you've made a choice out of an effort to not offend, you'll lose a reader. I don't care about your book being politically correct. I only care about it being real. And you are not your characters. You really aren't. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lessons From Hooked

Most of the information is Les Edgerton’s Hooked is a somewhat helpful review with a few new ideas.
Probably the most obvious of Edgerton’s advice is “backstory in moderation” meaning backstory should only be used when essential and sparsely then. This is a commonplace piece of advice, but something many writers still struggle with. Edgerton gave a good example of sparse backstory being used very effectively with Kevin Canty’s King of the Elephants. Canty opens with “The third time we put my mother into the hospital...” and goes on to describe what happened when the protagonist’s mother was institutionalized. The brief allusion informs the reader while keeping the story moving.(Edgerton ch. 4). The first time I succeeded in effectively using minimal backstory was in The Fate of a Marlowe Girl. The heroine tells a stranger her parents think she’s upset that her sister’s marrying Emmett(who you later learn was her boyfriend until he met her sister) instead of saying her parents think she’s upset that her sister is getting married. The use of his name raised a flag for readers.
Another concept worth mentioning is “the calm before the storm” opening. Edgerton’s example is A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore. The story opens with a comical scene in a delivery room where an overly concerned husband/dad is driving everyone, including his wife, insane. She kicks him out of the room, and when he comes back, she’s dead. Opening with such normalcy alerts readers something big is going to happen soon and by the time it does, they like the characters involved.(Edgerton ch. 4). I knew this concept but not that it was acceptable or even common. Until I read this I’d been terrified I had opened my manuscript Perfect Harmony wrong with a normal scene between two high-school sisters, but I wanted readers to know both girls because in a chapter or two one is dead.
New to me was the author’s view on drama versus melodrama. Edgerton seems to think most big scenes are melodramatic where a smaller dramatic scene might make more impact. I’m not sure I agree with this. As a reader, I like big scenes. Because of this view, he recommends starting with a small dramatic scene that leaves room to build on. His example is Thelma and Louise. At the beginning of the movie, Thelma is about to ask her husband for permission to go on a trip with her friend, but he snaps at her. So she decides to go without asking. Edgerton thinks this is dramatic.(Edgerton ch. 3). Leaving room to get bigger made sense to me, but with less than one percent of the slush pile getting read the idea of starting small was absurd. However, after I thought about it, most of my favorite openings do start small and grow. My favorite opening, Gayle Foreman’s If I Stay, starts with a family making pancakes and planning their day. Not exactly huge.
Hooked is mostly a review with a new idea here and there.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Covert Review Book 6

This is my second covert review from this author. And probably my last. It had a lot of the same issues as the last one. Way too much narration and it wasn't able to to carry the pacing in spite of so much telling the way the first one did. I still enjoyed it but I read another book in the middle of it, so I was obviously able to put it down. I didn't find the characters as easy to relate to this time around either. That being said it wasn't a horrible book either. The deal breaker came when I realized those same mistakes had surfaced in my own writing. WHAT? NO!! I make enough of my own mistakes. But you are what you eat. Input. Output. So deal breaker.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ignite Me!!! Book 5

"Juliette now knows she may be the only one who can stop the Reestablishment. But to take them down, she'll need the help of the one person she never thought she could trust: Warner. And as they work together, Juliette will discover that everything she thought she knew - about Warner, her abilities, and even Adam - was wrong."

I have read every book in this series including the novellas and they were all riveting and intriguing. The first book made me cry because I know I'll never write like this. But it was the kick I needed to write A Missing Peace. The next book was a novella and while I loved it, I thought the author was insane. I had no idea what she was trying to do. Now I know! The novel that followed made it clear, Mafi hadn't lost her mind and this series was going somewhere. Then there was a novella from Adam's pov--the guy everyone thought was going to be the hero. And it made it even easier to see the truth. And then there was Ignite Me. My new favorite book. OMG! A psycho became my favorite book boyfriend ever. I LOVED IT. AND I LOVE HIM. He has dethroned Edward Cullen. And once again I cried because I will never write like this. The only thing I would change about this book is the ending. Not because I didn't like it. I did. I just would have liked an epilogue or a more detailed ending that showed everything tied up. Love this book and I've never seen another author accomplish what Tahereh did in this series. Every book mattered substantially. Missing a single book means your missing a lot. This was epic. And genius. I planned to give this 4 stars but I read last week and still love it. And the more I write about it the more I see how genius it is. So 5 stars baby.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Lessons from Writing the Breakout Novel

When I reviewed this book, I promised to give you a brief on what I learned, so here it is.

What I found most helpful in Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas was the advice on public stakes, layers and subplots.
Public stakes is the notion that the story problem is so big it affects an entire group. And because the problem is so huge and affects so many people, the reader wants the main character to succeed, because the he fears he could be in the same situation. Maass uses thrillers where whole towns or communities are being threatened as an example of this, but he goes on to say that personal stakes can be so high they become public stakes like in The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby has so much to lose when he loses we all feel we’ve lost. Earlier this year I released a book originally pitched as Romeo and Juliet meets a military cover up featuring an Iraq war refugee and the son of a fallen soldier. It did not do as well as I expected and I found myself wondering why. When I read the section on public stakes, I knew that if I had found a way to make the plot more universal so it threatened more than just my main character’s romance, the book would have done better.
Something else I found useful was the use of “layers” to build a more intricate story. A writer can add layers by developing a well-rounded cast where each character has their own backstory and issues or adding values in addition to the main theme of the story. The example Maas used was how closely the country followed Columbine. There were multiple victims, all high-school kids each with his or her own individual story and new details came out for weeks. There were the issues of school security and gun control, and the story of the trench coat mafia. A good example of a layered story in YA is Twilight. The secondary characters all had their own struggles to deal with and there were strong themes of temptation and self-control in addition to the coming of age/first love story.
But the thing I found most helpful was the discussion of subplots. In my view adding subplots will make for well-developed characters and add layers to your story. Subplots can be accomplished by giving the main character a secondary problem or giving minor characters their own problem to deal with. The breakout example Maas gave was Where There Is Smoke. He said many characters had their own problems in this story, but the author only neatly tied up ones that added to the main plot. Pushing the Limits is a good example of a useful subplot. While the main plot is the romance, the “bad boy” hero, Noah, has two younger brothers in foster care he’s determined to rescue. This helps us see the good guy inside.

I found this book helpful for intermediate writers and plan to use Maass’ advice on public stakes, layers and subplots.