Showing posts from July, 2010

Contest Winner Announced!

June was the one year anniversary for Heather's Odyssey which of course meant I had to do a book giveaway! I picked my favorite top three books of the year so far, announced the contest here and started tweeting about it. Thank you to everyone who entered, the response was overwhelming! The books I chose were all fabulous debuts. Here they are: 13 To Life by Shannon Delany Under My Skin by Judith Graves Mistwood by Leah Cypess I won't keep you waiting any longer. The winner who gets to choose one of these lovely books is: Courtney Rae from Courtney Reads blog! If you haven't checked out this lady's blog definitely drop in on it. She reviews some of the best books out there. Pick the one you'd like the most Courtney and I'll send it to you!

Writing A Believable Antagonist

We all put a lot of thought into our protagonist but there is another character who is just as important that we sometimes overlook, the antagonist. I've read far too many novels with a textbook bad guy that struggles to be even two dimensional. It ruins the book for me every time. The antagonist often drives the plot just as much as the hero, and has a profound effect on the hero. That makes them just as important~or close to it~as the protagonist. If you want your novel to be believable and your readers to sympathize with the hero, you must make sure your antagonist is fully developed. Get to know your bad guy or gal just as well as you know your hero. What are her motives? What is his past? What makes her do the things she does? What does he want out of the situation and why? These are all things that will make him or her well rounded. Everyone loves to hate a great bad guy so put the work into him or her and make them worthy of both the story and it's protagonist. There

The Key To Successful Editing

Once the rough draft of your book is complete you may think the hard part is behind you, you may even think you're done. Think again. Successful editing is the key to a successful book. But then what is the key to successful editing? Ah, there is the catch. It is both simpler than you might think and much harder than you might imagine. The key to successful editing is detachment. It does seem like a simple thing does it not? If you've tried it then you know it is anything but simple. Detaching from their novels is the hardest thing a writer has to do. While creativity is definitely needed you must be practical at this stage. Just like your children, you have to prepare your novel for the hardships of the outside world. This means you have to take a good hard look at it, see where it is weak, and make it stronger. It will sometimes feel perfect just the way it is. Trust me, it isn't. To be truly objective you must distance yourself from it and approach it as though it is

Twitter Tuesday~Samantha Bennett

I came across Samantha Bennett on my blog and later on Twitter. Samantha has been spinning stories since the tender age of five and is now submitting her manuscript. You can follow her submission and publishing adventures on her blog or connect with her through Twitter. She's incredibly sweet and won't hesitate to support other writers! Tell me, have you met anyone spectacular on Twitter this week?

Monday's Muse~Kerem Beyit

This week I've discovered an artist who is new to me that I can't wait to tell you about! I first came across Kerem Beyit's  work on the website Deviant Art and I loved it so much that I had to look up his personal website. Click on his name to visit his site. His attention to detail breathes life into his paintings and drawings in a way rarely seen. This week's chapter is the first time my main character meets the antagonist face to face. It was so much fun to write it practically wrote itself. I felt like just the mechanism behind the pencil. I love it when that happens! The story is really starting to ramp up now and the momentum is carrying me along. I finished reading 13 To Life  this week and really enjoyed it. If you love werewolf books you've got to read it. Now I'm reading The Tension of Opposites  and the book is blowing me away. You must go out and get your hands on this book! A bit of exciting news for next week, I'll be featuring Kristina Mc

In My Mailbox

Ebony McKenna, a Twitter friend of mine was wonderful enough to send me a copy of Ondine , which is not yet available in the U.S.! If you enjoyed The Princess Bride and Ella Enchanted then you are going to LOVE this book. I will even go so far as to say it surpasses them. Go ahead, salivate while I bask in the wonderfulness of this book! You can read all about it at Ebony's site here: And be sure to check out Ebony's blog: Okay, now go order your own copy from Egmont UK !

Hiring A Freelance Editor

I'm a big believer in learning to edit your own work because let's face it, life would be so much easier if you could. However, that doesn't mean there isn't a time and place to hire a freelance editor to go over your manuscript. Before I get into that though I'll reveal how I learned to edit my own work and improved it to the point where my agent thought I had used a freelance editor. And even more important, we'll compare the cost of both. Upon the recommendation of a published friend I attended the Hawaii Writers Retreat (formerly the Maui Writers Retreat) in 2008. Before I arrived my instructor sent us some requested reading. It was The First Five Pages  by Noah Lukeman. You probably recall me gushing about how this book altered my writing forever, for the better. At the retreat I studied under bestselling thriller author William Bernhardt . I learned and improved so much that I went back to the retreat in 2009. At the retreat in 2009 I met my wonderful cr

Slaying A Titan

                        Fear is the titan we all must slay to be able to take the steps down the road to publication. It's around every corner and bend from critique partners to querying. Putting ourselves out there isn't easy. Our writing digs deep into most of us and exposes things nothing else can. Allowing others to read that can be hard. Some people write a book but can never bring themselves to allow a critique group to read it, let alone send it out to agents. How do you slay the titan? There are two vital elements you must have. 1) Strap that armor on and arm yourself my friend. Your armor is those supportive people you choose to surround yourself with. My support comes from family but also from friends I've met at conferences, on Twitter, Facebook, and writer networks. Even if you don't have the support of your family you can find support in the online writer community. 2) Your weapon is your craft. Shar

Twitter Tutorial Take 2

This is for those of you who haven't taken the Twitter plunge yet, or have just started and are overwhelmed. The first thing to remember about Twitter is only those who follow you will see your tweets. If you follow someone and they don't follow you back, they won't see your tweets. But there is a way to see the tweets of those you don't follow. If you've been brave enough to venture onto Twitter a bit then you've heard about hashtags. But what are these strange things, and what are they for? A hashtag is a word of group of words with a # sign in front of it. It allows people who want to talk about a certain subject to follow each other on a self made chat. The words are always run together to make things shorter. For example, #amwriting is an on going chat that most writers participate in to follow along with who is writing on a daily basis. #writing is the same thing, just a little different. There is also #amreading, #amediting, #AskYAed, and the big one&#

Monday's Muse~Hang Gliding

Hang gliding has been my inspiration this week. I know what you're thinking, 'she's all over the board with this one!' but that's part of the fun. This book is taking me in many different directions and I'm learning a lot because of it, I love that! It's not the kind of book where I have to do a lot of research since it's fantasy, but whenever I come across a place where I can add a bit of realism in with research I jump at the chance. Even though it's fantasy I like my story to ring true when and where it can. It helps to keep it grounded and 'believable'. Not to be deterred from his quest, my protagonist finds alternative means to get around so he can accomplish the task set before him. My protagonist is reaching the stage where he's confused about the changes he's going through and isn't altogether happy with them. But his determination is unwavering and he keeps the end goal in sight. My reading muse this week was 13 To Li

Benefit of Contests

There are a lot of great contests for writers out there. There is only one problem, most of them I've found are for short stories. I'm terrible at writing short stories! When I get an idea that is worthy of writing I always end up turning it into a novel. I figure if it's worth writing, it's worth a novel. Oddly enough, I enjoy reading short stories. My brain just isn't wired to write them. Why worry you wonder? Contests are a great way to get your name out there and get a few publishing credits under your pen. If you can or do write short stories you should look into contests as a potential way to start to build your writer's platform. Of course the catch is, for it to help your platform, you have to win or be a finalist. The competition can be pretty tough but the rewards are worth it. Notoriety in the publishing world is hard to come by and contests are a great way to do it. Here are a few good contests that I've heard about (click on the names for th

Keeping Your Motivation Up

A close writer friend of mine recently told me she had no idea how I manage to write so fast and keep my motivation up so consistently. Last year I wrote and thoroughly edited three books and this year my goal is to do the same. My friend's question got me to thinking about motivation and keeping the fire burning. It isn't always easy, and it comes more easily to some. Why is that and how can you get a few coals of that motivation to put on your fire? I don't know a magic spell or drink that will do it but I'll tell you my secrets and hopefully they will give you some ideas. First my biggest secret, I let myself write a rough draft ~a complete rough draft. I don't stop part way through and second guess myself or start editing and making small changes here and there. That disrupts the momentum and ruins the flow of the story from mind to computer. Once that flow is disrupted sometimes it never starts again. Don't disrupt it! Resist the urge to edit until you

Strengthening Your Character Arc

Remaining in the vein of last week's post, we're talking about how to strengthen your character's arc and why it's important. The character arc is the changes your character goes through from the beginning to the end of the novel, how they grow and learn, or change. Take a good look at your manuscript or outline. Is your character arc strong enough to help carry the novel? It should be just as strong as the plot, if not stronger, depending upon your genre. Not every genre will have such a powerful character arc and that's okay, they aren't all supposed to. But if you write character driven fiction like I do, that character better be strong. Think of a novel you read recently that had a really good character arc. How did that character change? What about them did you like in the beginning of the novel and in the end? Readers celebrate with our characters, be it an achievement, revelation, or growth. Without those elements in our characters the reader doesn'

Twitter Tuesday~Jamie Harrington

Jamie Harrington is one of those special writers that I think everyone should be following. She is represented by Mary Kole of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She's one of the most positive people I know. Sometimes when I don't even realize I need encouragement there she is on Twitter sharing something that makes me smile and pushes me to keep going. Her blog is a wealth of knowledge for aspiring writers and anyone who loves books. It was one of her posts  that inspired me to create my character arc sheet. But Jamie's help goes so much farther than that. She is one of the fantastic writers who have come together to bring to life the online FREE writer's conference WriteOnCon . Jamie is also a member of the Bookanistas , a group of great writers who review the books that knock their socks off. Her awesomeness just doesn't stop. You must find out more about this incredible lady! You can find her on Twitter her: And be sure to

Monday's Muse~Channel Islands

This is the channel islands, well one of them at least. It inspired me this week because it reminded me of the shores of the isolated island my character finds himself on. In this chapter he has to discover a way around his personal obstacles to embrace the training of a people who couldn't be more different from him. But if he's to survive he has to learn a strange new fighting style that is way out of his comfort zone. I'm a little over 120 pages into this novel now and I'm enjoying it more and more with each chapter. At 40,000 words I'm guessing I'm a little less than halfway through it. Will I meet my deadline of August 31st? I'm not so sure anymore but I'm going to try very hard. My reading muse so far this month has been 13 To Life  by Shannon Delany , which is at sales rank 13,440 at B&N by the way, a VERY good rank for a debut novel considering there are over 400,000 titles. Most are lucky to get below 100,000. Yay Shannon! It's a wer

Making Your Character Their Own Person

The key to making your character their own person is getting to know them. You must remove yourself from them. Don't think about what you would do, say, or how you would react. Instead get to know your character enough that they respond to the novel's situation in the way they would, not the way you would. Only then is the story about them, and not just a reflection of yourself. So many people~published authors even~tell me that each of their characters is a part of them. Sorry friends, that's lazy writing. My characters aren't a reflection of me and certainly aren't pieces of me. They are more like people that I've come to know really, really well. It takes a lot of time and hard work to get to know your characters so well. By doing this though you will enrich the novel and make it more than just a reflection, you will make it three dimensional. Only then can it be really spectacular. Everyone sees the world differently. Most people have a dominant sense, b

Research Reflected In Your Novel

I hope all my American followers had a safe and fantastic Independence Day this weekend. The holiday had me reflecting upon our freedoms, the freedom of speech in particular. Which, oddly enough, led me to think of researching a novel and deciding what to put in and what not to. I know what you're thinking, why would a fantasy writer be researching a novel? The novel I'm researching for is going to be a sort of young adult historical fantasy. This novel involves a Mariana trench depth of researching. I'm even going so far as to learn another language to help immerse myself into the culture and get the voice for the story just right. When you're writing a story that requires so much research it can end up making your novel too fat. But, having invested so much time and hard work in it you might find it hard to cut unnecessary parts. You may have a tendency to put all that great research in your novel when it isn't needed. Here is an easy tip for what to leave out

Twitter Tuesday~Audry Taylor

Audry Taylor is a freelance writer and editor who has her finger~or pen rather~on the pulse of the entertainment industry. She is both the Senior Editor and Creative Director of the publishing company Go! Media Entertainment which publishes non-fiction, manga, and graphic novels aimed at the young adult market. We met on Twitter on one of the many great chats for writers that occurs there. Audry's straight forward, unabashed way of tweeting was instantly appealing to me. She isn't the type to hide her opinions or coddle her followers. She tells it like it is and still maintains a level of light-hearted humor. I love that about her! If you want to connect with a writer who will not only be supportive but will give you that extra kick when you need it, look Audry up! You can find her on Twitter here: And check out her blog here:

Monday's Muse~Facing Fears

I'm back to work on The First Dragonwatcher now that my revision of Grendar's Tale has been sent off on editor submission. I came across this unique picture by G. Vidal on the Fantasy Art Design . When I found this picture I felt as though the artist had seen into my mind and witnessed a chapter I was brainstorming. I love it when that happens! In this chapter my main character is forced to face his fears and come to terms with the fact that life isn't always easy. It wasn't an easy chapter to write because I've become very attached to this main character and I hate putting him in bad situations. But such is the world! This week's reading inspiration was Change of Heart by Shari Maurer . This book is touching and nothing short of amazing. Hurry, run out and buy it! Better yet, click on the title and it will take you to a link where you can buy it! This week's song was Betrayal and Desolation off the Braveheart soundtrack:

Spreading The Writer Love

One of the best parts about the writer community is how supportive everyone is. My writer friends inspire me every day with their generosity and giving spirits. Writers are special, I've never met any other group that is quite like them. When I came back from New York I was flattered to find that Heather's Odyssey had won several blogger awards. I won the Versatile Blogger award from not one, but two of my fabulous writer buddies. This award is for the blogger who manages to keep their blog versatile enough to both entertain and help others. I'm touched ladies, thank you for choosing me! The first was from Alissa Grosso , up and coming YA author who's book releases next year. Check out her blog and website here: http:// alissagrosso .com/ . Alissa is sweet and supportive and you're going to love her book when it hits the shelves! The second Versatile Blogger award was given to me by Lisa Green of the highly entertaining blog Paranormal Point of View . If you don

July's Debut Author~Shari Maurer

This month I'm honored to be interviewing Shari Maurer about her debut novel Change of Heart . First, a little about Change of Heart to catch up those of you who haven't heard about it yet. When you’re 16 years old, it never occurs to you that you might die. Emmi Miller’s got a fabulous life. She has tons of friends, does great in school and is an all-star soccer player who played in Europe last summer. It even looks like Sam Hunter, a totally cute baseball player, might be interested in her. And then she gets a virus. No biggy, right? Until the virus goes to her heart and weakens it so much that, without a transplant, Emmi will die.   Now that I have you teared up and completely hooked, please welcome Shari Maurer to Heather's Odyssey. Hi Shari! I'm going to start with the tough questions first. Daria Snadowsky, author of Anatomy of a Boyfriend raves that Change Of Heart is an honest story about everything that really matters in life. That sounds like some rea