Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thursdays Children...Growing as a writer....

Thursday's Children: Hosted by Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez

Yesterday I read a prologue (teaser release) of a book called, "The Dream Thieves." It's the sequel to The Raven Boys, written by Maggie Stiefvater. And it's perfect. Personally, I thought it was some of the best writing I've read in a long time. Obviously, it's a subjective thing. I mean, I LOVE Maggie's writing style, but I'm sure it's not for everyone. That's not really the point though. The point is, the prologue to Maggie's newest book sounds (to me) like her best writing to date.  

Mind you, I've always enjoyed her writing. But from Maggie's first series, The Book of Faerie, up until now, she's grown immensely. In fact, it would be impossible to read her first book and her most recent back to back and not see the growth. Some writers don't seem to change much. While one book may do better than another, their style stays the same throughout their career. Maggie's writing, however, just keeps getting better. 

And, what I want to know is HOW? Someone answer that for me! Because I want to keep getting better, but I don't feel like I am. I'm working on my fourth book and I don't think my talent level is vastly different from the book I wrote last year, or even the year before. I kind of feel like I've plateaued and I'm definitely not ready to.

I tried to get some books on writing, but all of them seem to cover pretty much the same sorts of things. How to write a book. What not to do. How to plot a story. Stuff I feel like I already know. 

So now what? Do I take a class? Does anyone know of any writing books that aren't for beginners? How do you guys improve? 

If you want to join the awesome group at Thursday's Children click HERE 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My First Time

So I’ve been thinking about the first novel I ever wrote. A friend asked me about the writing process. My first answer was, “I sit down and write.” And then I went a bit deeper. When I was halfway through, my friend gave me a confused look. I realized I’d been telling her all of my rookie mistakes. My first novel was a true work of passion. I wrote because I was a lonely 19-year-old in a new college and hadn’t made any friends yet—my roommate was not my cup of tea!

So I wrote. It kept me company, filled up my days, and made me okay with not being so popular anymore—I was pretty well known in high school and at my first university. I’d just transferred to this school and wasn’t taking to my new environment as immediately as I thought I would. Nevertheless, my writing made all of that tolerable. Then I made friends, got a social life, and forgot my writing for a while.

When I went back to that story at the ripe old age of 23, I couldn’t believe how juvenile it was. I hadn’t had been lied to, had my heart broken, or flunked a class when I’d written that novel at 19—all of which had happened to me by the age of 23. So got back into my writing and plugged away at it for a long while. It took me FOREVER to let someone else read what I’d written. Only when I was contemplating getting published, like a decade later, did I finally let someone read my novel. My mom and my sister. With there stamps of approval—no one else, mind you—I was ready to get on with this writing thing, I mean, there were millions of dollars to be made. Here are the things I did when I stepped my virgin toes into query hell. Tell me how many mistakes you count. J

1. I italicized, bolded, and changed the font of all the dialogue. *It’s gotta stand out, right?*
2. The manuscript had a word count of nearly 200k. *That’s passion!*
3. To reduce the page numbers I used 10pt and 1.5 spacing and .5 margins. *My eyes are bleeding just remembering that!*
4. The main character was 17 years old so I should’ve queried it as YA, but I queried agents who were looking for adult novels only because they mentioned they liked ethnic fiction and my characters were black and Hispanic. *I’m still laughing about that one.*
5. And finally, I got a copyright. *No one was going to steal my precious work! Mind you, my mother is still telling me to get a copyright on each novel I finish, no matter how many times I tell her I don’t need it.*

It wasn’t until I submitted my novel to a small publishing house that the woman who read it pointed out all of my mistakes. I am, until this day, grateful for her kind words. After I received her positive, yet informative denial I became a researching maniac! I really felt stupid when I realized so much information was out there about manuscripts and how to format them. But I am forever grateful for my mistakes too. I think back on that first manuscript fondly. It will probably never sit atop a bookseller’s shelf, but it’s mine. I created it and I am proud of it…all 669 pages of the YA master piece.

How did your first novel come about? Did you make a lot of mistakes like me, or did you do your homework?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Inspired by Rejection...Thursdays Children

Thursdays Children/hosted by:

So, it's really funny that last week I wrote about how I like waiting to hear back on things and then, this week, I heard back on two major things I was waiting on forever and they were both rejections (one of them on a full, which are always the worst) and it sucked. 

But, even though it's common sense, I really took the time to sit down and remind myself why I do this. It's so easy to get caught up in the query/rejection cycle and lose track. So I asked myself, in all honesty, is it the thought of getting published that keeps me writing? And the answer is no. It’s the joy I get from it. It’s the story and the characters and their world. 

And, no matter how many rejections I get, nobody can ever take the three manuscripts I've written away from me. Nobody can steal the happiness I felt while writing them. Writing has given me more consistent joy than anything else I've ever accomplished. And that is worth some pain.  

 So I decided it's okay to feel like crap for a little while. But then I have to remember that this rejection isn’t going to ruin my life. It’s just a speed bump. A hurtle. How many of those have I had? How many of those have I beaten? God knows I’ve handled things a hell of a lot more painful than a rejection. I've handled them and overcome them. And if I can do that, I can do this. 

Also, there is no way I can believe that not a single book I’ve written is worth reading. That’s bullshit.  
I've read all the books on all the main reasons people get rejected. I'm not doing any of those things wrong. It's always just a matter of personal taste. And all I have to do is keep reminding myself that, if I love the books I've written and my critique partner loves them then, eventually, I will find an agent who loves them too. 

And besides all of that, I decided one last thing. Like I mentioned up top, I asked myself: Is this going to ruin my life? Obviously the answer is no. And then I thought to myself: If it's not something that's going to ruin my life, why should I let it ruin my day? 

I think that's a pretty good motto to live by. Especially when it comes to rejections. 

If you'd like to join Thursdays Children and talk about things that inspire you as a writer, click HERE

Writer's Butt

If you don’t know what writer’s butt is, get to the gym immediately because you probably have it! :-)

I seem to have come back from vacation with a renewed since of health and wellbeing. I’ve always been a rather healthy eater, but my problem lies in the physical part of the health regimen.

My day job is sedentary. Writing is sedentary. So now I’m really worried that I’ll wake up one day and will need to have the side of my house cut away so I can get out—I’m not trying to make fun of those poor souls, just saying I don’t want to end up that way.

My plan to avoid further writer’s butt—you’ll know if you suffer from this affliction by the wide flatness of your hind-parts—I am going to the gym three times a week and taking walks three times as well.

I really love walking. I do a lot of writing in my head and have solved plotting problems, dreamed up awesome scenes, and developed characters all while taking a stroll.

How do you avoid Writer’s Butt? Do you have a workout regimen? Do you find taking walks opens up your mind to your writing?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Teaser Tuesday...

Teaser Tuesday again! It's hosted by Miz Biz over at Should Be Reading. If you are looking for some
great books make sure to check out her sight and the other people participating. 

In the meantime, if you want to play along, it's easy. 
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser this week is from Altered by Jennifer Rush. 

Dad made his way across the field with a limp. Inwardly I flinched, remembering that day in the lab, the horror of watching Sam shoot him. 

Back From Vacation

My week on a cruise ship was fun, relaxing, and frustrating. Fortunately, the frustrating part was minor, but enough that I’ll not cruise out of Baltimore again—only because it is a small port and therefore the ships are smaller. I’ve been on a big ship and once you have, you can’t go back. Lol.

The first frustration was they split our party of 5 into two tables at dinner. All 5 passengers were booked together, yet they assigned 2 people to one table and 3 to another. Now, I’m not the complaining type, but I complained about this. We finally got the dinner seating squared away after speaking with 3 different people. Still, the food was pretty good, but not as good as it was on my last cruise.

Frustration #2. Anyone who has ever been on a cruise knows that you check your luggage and it’s then left outside of your room later. Well, when I got to my cabin that first evening I went to pick up my suitcase and the handle was completely broken.


This frustration was one that was addressed and handled very quickly and to my satisfaction. They couldn’t fix it so they gave me a new suitcase! Way to go, Royal Caribbean!


Now for the relaxing part. Coco Kay was absolutely beautiful! It was the most relaxing port on this trip. The only downside…the sunburn on my shoulders. Now they’re peeling. Don’t you just love when that happens?




The last thing I want to talk about is all the creepy art on the ship. I mean, it was just weird. I took pictures of all the macabre art, hoping it wouldn’t haunt my phone. Truthfully, the art was beautiful, but I'd think twice before I hung any of it in my house. Lol.


Now I’m back home, trying to get into the swing of things. I hope to have better posts soon. 
Have any of you gone on vacation yet this season? If so, where’d you go and how was it?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bouncing back and Inspiration

So, it is taking me awhile to bounce back from the rather excessive blogging in April. haha. And my website partner is off on vacation. But, I'm excited to be getting back to a normal blogging schedule (even if I am two weeks later than everyone else. I am being "fashionably" late) So, with that being said, I'm hopping back into one of my favorite blog-hops  "Thursdays Children" hosted by Rhiann Wynn-Nolet at A Nest of Words.  

I've always enjoyed this hop because it gives me a chance to talk about the things that inspire me as a writer, one of my fave topics. If you haven't participated be sure to check it out and join in the fun! The linky-list link is at the bottom of my post. (Linky-list link. Try saying that ten times fast.)

The topic I'm choosing this week is waiting. As writers we do a lot of it. First waiting to get an idea. Then waiting to finish the story. To get critiques. To do edits. To find an agent. To find a publisher...etc...etc...When you are a writer, the waiting literally never stops. 

And, sometimes I find it frustrating but, for the most part I find it inspiring. I love getting up and
checking my email every day. I love knowing that today might be the day I hear back on something, whether it's a full I have out or a short story I submitted or a critique I'm getting. I figure the more writing I have floating around, the more chance there is that I will strike gold with something. 

If I never had anything out on submission, I don't think I'd be as driven to keep writing. While it does make me nervous, I also like the thrill of anticipating good responses. And while I'm waiting, I'm inevitably inspired to fill up my time with writing more, so I have more things to submit, and more responses to wait on. 

And it's not just about submissions. One of my favorite things to wait on is critiques. I know a lot of people are super nervous about receiving them. I've even met other writers who dread the critique and the inevitable rewrites/doubts it brings. But, to me, each critique is a new and exciting opportunity to see my work through someone else's eyes. I love finding out what works and what doesn't. What could possibly be more exciting than someone pointing out how I can make my work better? 

What about you guys? Do you like getting critiques? Does all the waiting bother you or inspire you?  Would you rather be waiting to hear back on something or have the calmness of knowing there are no rejections coming? ;)

If you are interested in signing up for Thursdays Children just click HERE

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Teaser Tuesday

So, it's time for Teaser Tuesday again, hosted by Miz Biz at Should be Reading.
If you want to play along just:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser for this week is from a book with a neat background. Struck by Lighting by Chris Colfer. For any "gleeks" out there you'll know Chris as Kurt from Glee. Interestingly enough, he wrote the book as a screenplay, had the movie made (which he also starred in) and then wrote the novel after the movie. I didn't know any of this when I picked the book up. I just knew it sounded like a fun concept. So far, (and I'm only a couple chapters in) the  MC has an amazing, extremely funny, teen voice. I'm really enjoying it. And, with that being said, here is my tease:

"Until I was ten and saw a parents friend's interact, I never realized that people got married because they wanted to, because they loved each other. I always thought it was more like jury duty: You got an envelope in the mail telling you when, where, and who you were required to reproduce with."

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Vacation Reads

As I’m gearing up to hit the high seas on Friday, I've compiled a small list of books I’m going to read, or plan to read while on vacation. I get that beach books, or vacation reads are supposed to be books that aren't too complicated, light, flirty stories. But does that have to be what you take on vacation with you? I don’t think so. So here is what is on my Kindle queued up and ready:

Death Sentence (Book 3 in the Escape from Furnace Series) by Alexander Gordon Smith

Unwholly (Book 2 in the Unwind series) by Neil Shusterman

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

And my guilty pleasure—historical romance. Anything from the list of Mary Balogh that I haven’t read before.

Will I finish all of these books in 7 days? Probably not. But I got through 2 ½ books last year while on vacation so I know I can probably finish two of these. And while only the romance could maybe be classified as a “light” read, the rest are relatively short books, but have solid stories. There is something about sitting in a deck chair, listening to the ocean, and reading a good book. I can’t wait!

Take care and many happy vacations to you all!


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Teaser Tuesday...

Aaaah...April was fun, but I'm looking forward to falling back into the blogging schedule I used to follow. And, as such, I'm posting for Teaser Tuesday, a meme I followed on my old blog and always loved because it is a great way to find out about new books to read!

It's hosted by Miz Biz at Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along. All you have to do is:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser for this week is from Clockwork Princess. It's the last book in Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices series. If you haven't read these, please give them a chance!! I read these books out loud to my family, one chapter a night. All of us, from my husband to my fourteen year old daughter to my seventeen year old son, all LOVED these books. And, with that being said, here is the teaser:
      Jem smiled at him, that smile that had always, even on Will's blackest days, eased his mind. "I think there is hope for you yet, Will Herondale." 
     "I will try to learn how to have it, without you to show me."

Monday, May 6, 2013

Monday Mind Game

Hi all. Glad to see you’ve survived the A-Z Challenge. Welcome and thanks to all of our new followers! Tamara and I really appreciate your support. So on our first official non-challenge post, I’d like to start off with something simple.

I’ve played this game with friends and have always found it interesting to see the unexpected answers. So here is my mind game question:

If You Could Only Bring 3 People to a Deserted Island, Who Would You Bring?

The rules:

We know you’d bring your kids, your spouse or Jesus, so I’m looking for Literary, Celebrity, Cartoon or Fictional. Someone who fits in the following three categories—remember, real or fiction:

  1. Guilty Pleasure Person
  2. Intellectual Person
  3. A Just Because Person

Here are my answers:

My Guilty Pleasure: Iron Man/Tony Stark. Maybe this is because I just saw the third movie and I LOVE Robert Downey Jr, but I think I’d have a great time with Tony Stark on a deserted island. Not to mention--even if the suit didn't make it--when we got tired of being there he could totally build us a jetpack from coconuts and blast us back to civilization.

My Intellectual Person: Sherlock Holmes. It's no coincidence this character was recently portrayed by Robert Downey Jr., but that's not the main reason I chose him. I think I’m a fairly observant person, but I’d really like to be much more so and I think I could learn a lot from him. I want to deduce!

My Just Because Person: J.K. Rowling. I’d make her write more installments in the Harry Potter series to fill in those years where Harry and Ginny, and Ron and Hermione really became couples and grew into the parents we saw in the epilogue…or else I'd tell Tony Stark not to build her a coconut jetpack and we'd leave her on that island!

So tell me, If You Could Only Bring 3 People to a Deserted Island, Who Would You Bring?