Friday, January 31, 2014

Big Dreams Blogfest

The "Big Dreams Blogfest" is hosted by Misha Gericke, and once a month we all come together to talk about what we've done to get closer to our dreams.

I have two goals. Write a million words. Make a million dollars.. That's it. So I got Perfect Harmony through a round of edits and sent to my first reader, and I did a final final round of agent edits on FH and it's now on submission. I also went to Connecticut for a week for my MFA residency where I learned a lot of really practical stuff about the industry. I enjoyed the residency much more than I usually enjoy conferences. The sessions were small, so not as overwhelming as some cons and most of the workshops included actual writing exercises. Very helpful. I started on TLMG while there, but I needed to use it as the book I'm writing for my class this semester. My mentor thought another book would be better and I can't write two at a time and take care of a one year old, and teach classes, and blog, so 20 pages into TLMG, I stopped to write an outline(for class) of The Senator's Son. What I accomplished in January: PH edits, FH edits, residency, 20 pages. My goal for February is to write 50,000 words of The Senator's Son. I doubt that will finish the book, but it should make it easy to finish in March. I mean come on, after 50k everything is downhill. Wish me luck. I know I'll need it.

What are your goals for this month? Are you getting closer?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Covert Review Book #2

Here it is! My first covert review of the year. Let's see how this goes over. Quick reminder, a covert review is a book which I'm not sharing but rather sharing my thoughts on. I won't tell you what book I didn't like just why I didn't like it, because I really want to do reviews and my agent and I thought it was best I not criticize other authors.

Let me start off by saying, this is where I think authors are crazy for getting upset about low star reviews. I really liked this book. I'd even recommend, but I stay fairly objective about reviews so this is not 4 star material. And it could have been. Easily. What's wrong with it? Slow start. Still, it could have easily been a four star book. But there was a serious serious lack of craft. Way too much telling. I'm talking blocks of narration that would often go on for pages. And really interesting contractions like "Mom'd" or "I'dve" or "Mom'll." In dialogue I wouldn't been a fan of this but in narration, I think it's just wrong. This was a self published book that did fairly well, but I can see why it wasn't traditionally published. (Not to insult self published writers. Just use an editor). And it did have a lack of editing with extra words here and there.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Now Offering Editorial Services

I've decided to start offering freelance editorial services. My B.A. is in English and I'm currently working on a MFA in creative and professional writing with an emphasis on fiction and technical writing, so I can edit any from non-fiction articles to full length fiction. Also, I teach a crash course on plotting and blurb writing for fiction writers, so I'll critique your query for free if I'm editing a short story or a novel. My turn around time is quick, and I'm happy to discuss specifics with you. I'll be charging $1/page for copy edits/line edits and $1.25/page for structural edits (big picture plot issues, characterization, world building, voice).

Monday, January 27, 2014

Writer's Anxiety

It's here. I have it. Writer's anxiety. I'm not talking about writer's block. It's different than that, but it can sometimes manifest itself like writer's block. What I'm talking about is straight up fear. Fear I'll never succeed. Fear every five star review is wrong. Fear getting an agent and a contract was a fluke accident and I'll never write like that again. But mostly fear that my writing is not improving or worst of all getting worse. And it's stopping me. Stopping me from everything. I put off editing my last book out of fear of how much it sucked. I was afraid to read it basically. I didn't want to know how bad it was. When I finally got started, it wasn't as bad as I remembered. LOL. Still. Recently, it took me forever and a day to write an outline for my grad class, because of the same kind of fear. The concept was lame. The plot not developed. The book would suck. And as long as I didn't turn in the outline, I couldn't start on the book, right? After all, if my mentor didn't like it she would just make me change it. I did eventually get through the outline and get it turned in a night early even. I haven't started writing yet. The outline seems daunting. I wonder if I can write the book right. It's an important book. I need to do it justice. But I fear...

Have you ever suffered from writer's anxiety? How did you deal with it?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sweet Unrest Cover Reveal And Give Away

My agency sister Lisa Maxwell has a Southern Gothic novel coming out with Flux in October. She's giving away an autographed copy of the book and New Orleans inspired necklace. Check it out below.

Lucy Aimes has always been practical. But try as she might, she can’t come up with a logical explanation for the recurring dreams that have always haunted her. Dark dreams. Dreams of a long-ago place filled with people she shouldn’t know…but does.

When her family moves to a New Orleans plantation, Lucy’s dreams become more intense, and her search for answers draws her reluctantly into the old city’s world of Voodoo and mysticism. There, Lucy finds Alex, a mysterious boy who behaves as if they’ve known each other forever. Lucy knows Alex is hiding something, and her rational side doesn’t want to be drawn to him. But she is.

As she tries to uncover Alex’s secrets, a killer strikes close to home, and Lucy finds herself ensnared in a century-old vendetta. With the lives of everyone she loves in danger, Lucy will have to unravel the mystery of her dreams before it all comes to a deadly finish.

Find out more about Lisa here: My website:
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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Writing the Breakout Novel Book #1

"Maybe you're a first-time novelist looking for practical guidance. Maybe you've already been published, but your latest effort is stuck in mid-list limbo. Whatever the case may be, author and literary agent Donald Maass can show you how to take your prose to the next level and write a breakout novel - one that rises out of obscurity and hits the best-seller lists.
Maass details the elements that all breakout novels share - regardless of genre - then shows you writing techniques that can make your own books stand out and succeed in a crowded marketplace.
You'll learn to:
establish a powerful and sweeping sense of time and place
weave subplots into the main action for a complex, engrossing story
create larger-than-life characters that step right off the page
explore universal themes that will interest a broad audience of readers
sustain a high degree of narrative tension from start to finish
develop an inspired premise that sets your novel apart from the competition"

If you've followed me for a while, you know I don't review many craft books. But I have to read four this semester and figure I might as well get blog content out of it, so you'll probably see a few more. Writing the Breakout Novel didn't have that conversational, easy to read tone and voice that King's On Writing or Debra Dixon's Goal Motivation Conflice: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction had (the only two other craft books I've been able to make it through cover to cover). But even if I weren't reading this for a class assignment I would have finished. It was that helpful. The blurb above says it's good for a newbie to someone mid-career. I disagree. I think for someone who hasn't completed several manuscripts this book would be overwhelming. But it is excellent for a mid-career writer. And that's my primary reason for reviewing it. It's so hard to find helpful information that goes beyond what we already know, what's free in the blogosphere. Maass defines mid-career as someone with a few titles out not getting the kind of deals or exposure they want. I'm going to define mid-career for anyone who has written more than three or four manuscripts. (Decide,  for yourself if your mid-career you're more familiar with your work than I am). Once you've gained an understanding of your genre and how to write a well structured manuscript this book has some great thoughts on taking it to the next level. So much so that sooner or later I'll post a crash course on what I learned.

Does that mean I agreed with everything in the book? Absolutely not. Maass recommends playing with structure and not using formulaic plot structures. And playing with structure very very very rarely works. If you want to do it go for it. Just know it works best in literary fiction (which Maass uses interchangeably with "mainstream" and I don't think there is anything mainstream about lit. fiction) and that you pretty much have to be a genius to pull it off. Overall, I give this book 4 stars, and I recommend anyone pursuing a career read this (after three manuscripts).

Friday, January 17, 2014

Touch of Death Review

"Jodi Marshall isn’t sure how she went from normal teenager to walking disaster. One minute she’s in her junior year of high school, spending time with her amazing boyfriend and her best friend. The next she’s being stalked by some guy no one seems to know.

After the stranger, Alex, reveals himself, Jodi learns he’s not a normal teenager and neither is she. With a kiss that kills and a touch that brings the dead back to life, Jodi discovers she’s part of a branch of necromancers born under the 13th sign of the zodiac, Ophiuchus. A branch of necromancers that are descendents of Medusa. A branch of necromancers with poisoned blood writhing in their veins.

Jodi’s deadly to the living and even more deadly to the deceased. She has to leave her old, normal life behind before she hurts the people she loves. As if that isn’t difficult enough, Jodi discovers she’s the chosen one who has to save the rest of her kind from perishing at the hands of Hades. If she can’t figure out how to control her power, history will repeat itself, and her race will become extinct."

I enjoyed this book. It's a quick and easy read with a unique and fresh voice. I found the premise unique for YA paranormals. Although, I haven't read any other necromancer books, so I might be wrong. The part about all the dead animals kind of freaked me out. All in all, I give this a four star rating, because I thought there could be more "showing."  Also, as most of you know Kelly Hashway is my critique partner, so I should mention I did not crit this book. I received an ARC like many other bloggers and this review is based only on that ARC.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

School Shooting Issues

After reading Writing the Breakout Novel (review to come), I really want my next manuscript to be multi-layered. I'm trying to brainstorm all the possible issues connected with school shootings before I start writing. For me, the first thing that comes to mind is gun control and the lack thereof, but I'd like to get others' views. If you have any thoughts could you please let me know in the comments?


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Year, New Plan

2013 was an interesting year but too busy for words and I'm glad to see it go. Mostly, because I can go back to P-52. For those of you who don't know, project 52 was my first blog. I did it again a couple of years later because writing 52 book reviews improves your writing ten fold! But my agent doesn't want me to do negative reviews, and I understand why. That being said, I couldn't live with myself if I wasn't honest. So my incredible critique partner Kelly Hashway  and I worked out an covert P-52. I will review 4-5 star books assuming the commentary is mostly positive. I will post covert reviews for 3 star and below in which you will have no identifying information just the vaguest of thoughts on why this did not do it for me ;). I'm actually looking forward to this. I've never been covert before ;)

Monday, January 13, 2014

I'm Back!!!

I'm back!!! Literally. I was in Connecticut for a while. I'm back from my hiatus too. And hopefully taking on some new adventures.

The MFA residency was great. I learned a lot about the business side of things including things like work for hire, which I'm checking into. And the writers I met there have a whole different mentality than most of the writers I know from everything else I do. Some of them are working on professional writing or creative nonfiction (memoirs, and historical storylines) and lots of them are working on fiction or poetry. But where as in the blogosphere I feel like a hack if I haven't hit 2000 in a day, many of these writers spend years working on one book. And lots of them are more concerned with the process than selling it. It was interesting to see a new perspective.

I also realized that I need to put my focus on getting a PM "very nice" or "good deal" and try to start moving away from digital deals and self-publishing. I still don't think there is anything wrong with self-publishing if you are professional about it (use an editor). But because I want to work in academia I need some strong publication credits. And as for moving away from digital presses, I'd pretty much already decided that. It puts the risk on the writer. You'd usually be better off self publishing.

I'm anticipating some changes this year, and I hope things work out.