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Friday, April 30, 2010

And The Winner of the Spring Cleaning For Your Novel Contest is...

Congratulations to Molly (Olleymae) of the fabulous blog MBW Creates! You've been selected through Random.org Lists and have won a copy of The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. After it arrives and you get a chance to read it I hope you'll stop by and tell us what you thought of it.

Thanks to everyone who became a follower and entered, and thanks to all my pre-existing followers as well. I love and appreciate each and every one of you and really enjoy sharing the world of writing with you. As my journey toward publication continues I hope to bring you many more great posts that will help you navigate the publishing world.

If your writing is in need of a boost or you're in a rut I hope you'll check out this book even if you don't win. It changed my writing in a very good way. For those on the reading side of the spectrum don't worry, I'll be giving away my favorite book of the first half of 2010 soon so stay logged in!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Posting Your Work Online

Many writers I know post their work on a website or blog and are unaware of the risks. I've done it myself. Like many others, I found out the hard way that this may not be a good idea. Friends of mine have had paragraphs, openings, and even their entire novel ideas stolen. As horrible as it is, it happens all the time. But are the risks worth it? That is a topic of much debate lately.

What are we writers to do when we want to put something on our blogs and sites that will peak an agent or editors interest? Write a good book, edit it well, then right a good query and start sending it out. If they like your work, they may check your blog or website to get a better feel for you. But they won't be doing it to get a better feel for your work. Once your novel has sold to a publisher they'll help you decide what you should put on your site. At that point its protected and will soon be published anyway. Until then, it isn't needed and may only lead to frustration and heartache.

Not to say you can't or shouldn't put some of your writing on your site or blog, you absolutely can. Just be aware of the risks and post responsibly. The bottom line is, if you don't want it stolen, don't post it. I talk to my blog followers, Twitter followers, and critique friends about my book but I do so privately. We share information and critiques via e-mail or direct messages. Protect yourself and your work by sharing it only with those you trust. If you want to post bits of it do so knowing that you are giving it away in a sense.

Check out what a few industry professionals with Writer's Digest have to say on the matter:
Chuck Sambuchino: http://tinyurl.com/294tkq6
And an opposing opinion by Jane Friedman: http://tinyurl.com/25krwrf

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Blog Contests

To do blog contests or not to do them really isn't the question you should be asking yourself as a blogger. Why you want to do them is. Most bloggers want to increase followers and that's okay but that should not be your sole reason for doing a contest. If that is one of your main reasons then you have to ask yourself why you want to increase your followers. It is because you want your blog to be more popular which in turn makes you more popular? Do you just want to increase readers to make your writer platform look better? If the answer to either of those questions is yes then you shouldn't do it. Don't throw stones yet, here me out.

The best reason to do blog contests is for your readers, not yourself. We all want to increase our readership and popularity and that's all right, it just shouldn't be the only reason. The goal should be reachable within a few months at the most (example, trying to increase by so many followers) and the prize should be tailored to your reader audience. Book bloggers that review books give away books, those that review movies give away movie tickets, and writers give away all manner of things that will help other writers. As a writer I like to do prizes that include inspiring or fantastic books I've read and books that help improve your writing.

You probably already guessed this was leading up to a contest mention didn't you? In case you haven't read about it yet, I just ran a contest. Once Heather's Odyssey reached 100 followers I would give away a copy of the fabulous book on writing called The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. Many of my followers are writers and I wanted to do this contest for them. I loved this book so much that I feel like every writer should read it. Not to worry though, later in the year I'll be doing a giveaway for those of you who love to read a good story. Halfway through the year I'm going to pick my favorite book of the first six months of 2010 and give it away to one lucky follower. Not only do I like sharing the books I've enjoyed, I love supporting the authors! Since I've reached and passed 100 followers (thank you, much love to all of you) I will be doing the drawing this Friday! Be sure to stop by my link and leave a comment if you'd like to be entered.

Here are a few great blog contests I know of going on now:
http://thewritewords-lindsey.blogspot.com/2010/01/writer-goody-bag-giveaway-everything.html
http://amyholderbooks.blogspot.com/2010/04/contest-contest-contest.html
To enter my contest before Friday click here and leave a comment:
http://heathermccorkle.blogspot.com/2010/04/spring-cleaning-for-your-novel-contest.html
If you know of any great blog contests leave me a comment and I'll post a link!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~Kelly Sagert

One of Twitter's many great writing chats served as an introduction for Kelly Sagert and myself. Kelly writes full time and is also an editor who has sold over a thousand pieces of her work to everything from literary journals and websites to magazines and newspapers. She has nine books under her belt and is working on a tenth. She has written material for publications put out by Harvard University and Oxford University Press just to name a few.

Since it seems like our writing couldn't be more polar, what drew Kelly and I to follow one another on Twitter? We both share a love of the written word and embrace the writing process. The fact that we don't write anything close to the same style, let alone genre hasn't kept us from sharing that.

If you're looking for a great writer to follow who can give you an objective view of the writing process and will enthusiastically share your journey, be sure to check out Kelly Boyer Sagert.

You can find Kelly on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/KBSagert
And check out her website and books here: http://www.kbsagert.com/

Monday, April 26, 2010

Working on Outlining and Character Arc

A new novel is beginning to demand my attention which means I have to do something I dread almost as much as writing a synopsis. What could be that bad you wonder? Outlining. To say I'm not a fan of it would be a gross exaggeration. I hate outlining, it sucks. Why do it then? Why not just let my muse guide me and write? Because my instructor at a writer's retreat I attended forced me to write an outline for a book I'd already finished and it made me see the error of my ways. An outline will point out all inconsistencies, plot holes, and blatant mistakes. I realized that if I write one before I write my novel, it reduces my revision process dramatically. So, though I hate it, I write the outline and my novel is far better for it.

A blogging writer friend of mine, Jamie Harrington wrote an adorable post on outlines that changed the way I feel about them. She made outlining fun and~dare I say~easy. Her agent asked her if she outlines her novels. Check out her entertaining answer here: http://www.totallythebomb.com/storysaurus-rocks-face

So if this post is all about outlines what is my picture of a character arc sheet for? Glad you asked. I found that if I fill out a character arc sheet (like my fancy design?) then it makes the outlining process that much easier because I already have an idea of where I want the story to go. I start at the bottom of the sheet and work my way up. Off to the right I put major points of the story that affect the character. In the box I put what the character is feeling and thinking, basically where they are emotionally in the story. As the plot progresses I chart changes in the character. This way I make sure my character actually learns and grows, or the opposite depending on the story. Characters are the heart of your story and their arc is just as important as the story arc. The last thing you want to do is neglect them. Feel free to use my character arc sheet if you like. I hope it helps ease the process for you.

Friday, April 23, 2010

In My Mailbox

Finally UPS delivered Under My Skin by Judith Graves! As you may know, Judith was my featured debut author for March. Unfortunately there was a delay in the printing of her novel. Now it's here! I've been giddy with anticipation ever since Barnes & Noble sent me the e-mail saying my order was now being processsed.

I've been peeking at it between editing and outlining this week and it looks like it was well worth the wait. All my work is finally done and I'm going to reward myself with a few chapters of Under My Skin tonight! Can't wait!

As for the book hiding beneath it, that's Writing the Breakout Novel by agent Donald Maass. I'm excited to dig into that one as well, but for totally different reasons of course. My critique group keeps saying wonderful things about it so I figured I had to order it. I'm all for improving my craft after all! I'll let you know how they both turn out. So what book is on your nightstand this week?

You can find Under My Skin here (among other places):  http://tinyurl.com/2bgo4u9
You can find Writing the Breakout Novel here (among other places): http://tinyurl.com/27yo95g

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Why Writers Love Book Bloggers

Sure there's the NY Times Bestseller list and just about every newspaper out there reviews and recommends books, but who do you turn to when you need a book recommendation? For me it isn't a newspaper or a bookseller website, it's my favorite book bloggers. I know I'm going to love whatever they recommend because they've never steered me wrong.

While technically I guess you could call book bloggers critics, they are so much more. To me they have evolved beyond what you would consider a critic to be. Book bloggers have become a huge influence and welcome members of the supportive community for authors, aspiring writers, and those who love books. The book bloggers I follow and trust in have become so much more than just a bookmarked site, I consider them my friends. Not only do they suggest great books to read and steer me away from those I wouldn't like, they encourage and push me as a writer.

I used to want to get published because I felt like my characters deserved to have their stories told. While I still believe that wholeheartedly, now I also want to get published because there are fabulous people waiting to read my books. That's a huge gift they've given to me, a gift that will fuel my determination and keep me motivated.

Here are a few of my favorite book bloggers. Please feel free to leave me a link to your favorite book bloggers in the comments and I'll add them to the list along with a link to your site or blog! Here's to writers supporting book bloggers!

My recommendations:
For YA, fantasy, paranormal lovers:
http://themindfulmusingsbookblog.blogspot.com/
http://mundiemoms.blogspot.com/
http://darkfaerietales.com/
http://paranormal-obsession.blogspot.com/
http://courtney-reads.blogspot.com/
http://thefictionenthusiast.blogspot.com/
http://readergirls.blogspot.com/

Follower recommendations:
For romance lovers:
http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Author Who Inspired You

I've always loved to read but there was one book that changed everything for me. After I read it I knew I wanted to be a writer. The author of that book will forever be etched into my mind as the one who inspired me to follow my dream. Most of you probably had a similar experience. That inspirational moment can shape everything from your writing style to your chosen genre. For me it was The Warriors: Guardians of the Flame by Joel Rosenberg. After only a few pages into this epic fantasy novel I was hooked and long before the last page I knew I had the soul of a writer. The book is unfortunately out of print but if you're lucky enough you might be able to find it at a used bookstore. Joel wrote many more books after that, some of which are still available.

Chances are that first book that sparked your inspiration also molded your writing style. During a recent read through of my old favorite I realized this was definitely true for me. My style has evolved with every book I've read but it will always bare a few similarities to Joel Rosenberg. And you know what, after reading back through his books, I'm really okay with that.

No matter who initially inspired you the important thing is to keep reading because as we read we learn. As long as you keep reading, you'll never stop learning. I'm curious, who inspired you, or still does today?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~Michelle Phillips

Michelle is a fifth grade teacher who loves both writing and reading. She's a very giving soul who is working hard toward her goal of becoming published. She isn't one to fill up your page with tweets on Twitter but she is quick to encourage and join in when you're talking about writing. Her blog is full of great advice for writers and the occasional fun side story into her life.

To connect with another writer who will keep you focused on your goals and celebrate your accomplishments with you, be sure to check Michelle out!

Check out her blog here:  http://michellephillips.wordpress.com/
You can find her on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/mimickma

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday's Muse~Editing Inspiration

A friend of mine who hates editing recently asked me what inspires me while I'm editing. It kind of surprised me because I realized I hadn't really thought about it much. Of course I listen to music, a lot of blues and old rock and roll, recently even a little Bob Marley (that could be the spring weather bringing that on!). But I realized at this point in the process is isn't music or pictures so much that keeps me motivated.

This bookshelf is what keeps me motivated while editing. It is filled with books that friends of mine have written. Just seeing them sitting on the shelves reminds me that I can do this. It motivates me to be the best I can be so my books can sit next to theirs one day. This shelf reminds me that my goal of becoming published is reachable and that there is a publishing house out there somewhere that will love my work.

If you don't have published friends don't worry. Just the anticipation of sending it off to a critique buddy can be enough to push you to do your very best and complete those edits. Need to find critique buddies? Check the links below:

http://liakeyes.ning.com/
http://www.authonomy.com/
http://www.authornation.com/
http://yalitchat.ning.com/

Friday, April 16, 2010

Spring Cleaning For Your Novel Contest

Are you having trouble getting an agent or editor to take a serious look at your manuscript? The market is tough for sure but there may be more to it than that. Perhaps it's time for some spring cleaning where your novel is concerned. There is always room for improvement and those who seek it are the ones who will survive in this hardening market.

Don't worry though, you don't have to invest hundreds of dollars in classes, conferences, or workshops just to improve. There are other methods. In previous posts you may remember me mentioning The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. While this tutorial book isn't for everyone, it may be for you. If you're working on your first, second, or even third novel, or are looking for an agent, there's a lot you can learn from this book. If you're an advanced author with a few traditionally published titles under your belt, it may not be for you.

The main draw of this book is that it will improve the basics of your writing and it will teach you what literary agents look for when they're deciding whether or not to take you on as a client. It's worth it purely for the fact that it will teach you what makes them reject you and show you how not to do it.

Since I love my followers so much I decided rather than just tell you all about the book I'm going to give it away to one lucky follower. When Heather's Odyssey hits 100 followers I'll give away The First Five Pages to one follower. To choose I'll be using the Random List Generator
 
Here are the rules:
*Giveaway to commence once Heather's Odyssey hits 100 followers.
*If you follow me here and on Twitter you'll be entered twice!
*If your Twitter tag is different be sure to let me know what it is in your comment!
*To be entered you must leave me a comment on this post and let me know you'd like to participate and whether you follow me in one or both areas.
 
While we're waiting for Heather's Odyssey to reach 100 followers you can check out The First Five Pages here: http://www.noahlukeman.com/

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What Makes A Synopsis Good?

The answer to that is both easy and utterly complicated. Your story is what makes the synopsis good. But how do you decide what parts of your story to spotlight in the synopsis? That is the tough part and unfortunately it could be the difference between someone asking to read your manuscript or passing altogether on it.

Now that I'm nearly finished with the editing process I'm faced with having to write a synopsis for my new book. Even if my agent doesn't require a synopsis before he reads it, if he decides to try and sell it I know he'll want one to send to editors. It is inevitable that I will have to write one so I might as well just do it. Sorry to break the news to those of you who were hoping that once you land an agent you'll never have to write another synopsis!

Here's a few things you should ask yourself when writing a synopsis: Why are people going to want to read this book? What makes this book different from others of its kind? Be sure to include the inciting incident (that which sets the book in motion), the major plot points, the character arcs, and the climax/resolution.

I won't really get into the length a synopsis should be, that depends entirely on your agent (or the agent you're submitting to) and their preference. Make sure you know what their preference is. I've covered this in prior posts but it warrants mentioning again. I've seen some agents that asked for a one page synopsis and others that allowed three to five pages. After you've done your research on the agent you're submitting to and thoroughly checked their website and guidelines, if you're still in doubt, ask them.

My synopsis is written and sent off to my Scribe Sisters for critiquing, how about you?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Things Every Writer Should Know About Their Protagonist

While working on character development I came up with this questionnaire of vital things I must know about my characters. Its geared toward young adult a bit but it would still work for adult genres as well. I've lumped together questions that are related to one another. I fill this out for every one of my characters. You may find it handy. Answer them from your character's point of view:

1) What is your full name? What name do you go by and why?
2) What do you look like? What are your best and worst features?
3) What is your birth date? Do you celebrate or avoid it and why?
4) How do you prefer to dress? Do you wear any jewelry?
5) What are your parents and siblings names? How old are your
    siblings? Do you get along?
6) What type of people do you fit in best with?
7) Who are your friends? Enemies?
8) Who is your role model or idol?
9) Do you have any hobbies? Sports? Interests?
10) What do/did you want to be when you grow up?
11) What kind of music do you like? Movies? Books?
12) Do you have any bad habits? What habits in others can't you stand?
13) What do you do to relax?
14) What is your favorite food? Drink?
15) Does anything in particular embarrass you?
16) Are you agreeable or do you argue your point?
17) Do you have a temper?
18) Who is the most important person in the world to you?
19) Is there anything you're afraid of?
20) Do you have any secrets?

Use this one or make a list of your own and have fun with it! The important thing is to get to know your characters inside and out, as if their life was your own. The better you know them, the better your story will flow.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~Selena Blake

For those of you who are new to following Heather's Odyssey Twitter Tuesday isn't just for Twitter user. What's it's really all about is writers connecting with other writers and book lovers. On my Twitter Tuesday posts you'll find not only great people to follow on Twitter, but great blogs and websites as well.

On to today's Twitter Tuesday feature. Selena and I came across each other on Twitter through a friend of a friend. She's one of those Twitter people who takes her followers very seriously and chats back and forth with them directly a lot. I love that about her. If you check out her Twitter page you'll see she's not really one to throw out random tweets, but she does talk with those she follows a lot.

Selena is the author of several spicy paranormal books. Aside from writing she loves movies, music and enjoys cooking. For someone you can actually connect with rather than just another number on your followers, be sure to check out Selena. And don't miss her books, as long as you're over eighteen ;)

You can find out more about her and her books on her website: http://site.selena-blake.com/
And you can find her on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/SelenaBlake

Monday, April 12, 2010

To Ride A Puca

During the twelfth century invasion of Ireland, Emily, one of the last of the druids, must master her power to keep her kind from being annihilated.

Her parents lied to her. They told her a druid's power was only to heal people and that hers was defective. They also said her family was the last of their kind. An accident introduces Emily to Bren and an entire clan of other druids. From Bren she learns there are two kinds of druids, those that heal, and those that can use their power to fight. Turns out her power isn't so useless after all. But Emily doesn't have much time to master it before the invaders from across the ocean arrive. A betrayal brings them to her front door in search of a healer for their wounded. Emily's mother is given a week to heal the son of the warlord or they'll return to slaughter her entire clan. The lines of enemies and friends blurs and in the end she will have to choose between her country and keeping those she loves alive.

Monday's Muse~Embracing Editing

The last two weeks my inspiration has been all about editing since I'm eyeball deep in it. Don't worry about throwing me a life preserver though, I’m loving the deep water. Editing is my happy place. Sick? Yeah, I know, to most it's a painful process to be dreaded and avoided. But not for me. To me the hard part is out of the way now. Cutting and adding and searching for issues is what I love. My friends tell me I should have been an editor but I'm not sure I'd love it so much if it wasn’t my own work.

How is it that I enjoy it so much? I guess I just love the process of improving the work until it shines. From the cutting of adjectives to the correcting of semi-colons and dashes, every part of it brings me a feeling of accomplishment. When you celebrate each stage of the process it makes it much more enjoyable.

This week my reading inspiration has been Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins whenever I can steal a moment to read through a few pages. As for music, when I'm editing I like to listen to the blues, both new and old. Not sure why, I just do. Here's a taste of what's been on my playlist recently.

Queen of England by Roger Glover: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001LJWSZ4/ref=dm_mu_dp_trk4

Friday, April 9, 2010

Conference Spotlight: NYC Pitch & Shop

It's conference season! In celebration of that I thought I'd spotlight a conference that I'm hoping to go to this year. Over the last few years I've searched and searched for the best conferences to spend my money on, looking for something with the right opportunities and the right attendees. For those of you who've done your own searching you know this can be a daunting task. Not every conference is right for everyone. You need to decide what you want to get out of a conference first, then you can narrow it down. Do you want an agent, an editor, to improve your novel, to sell your novel, or just to network?

For me that answer is easy this year. I've gone to conferences to network and I've gone to retreats to improve my writing skills. Now I have an agent and my work is on submission to editors. It's time for me to concentrate on selling my work. 'But you already have an agent, why would you bother?' you ask. Because, I want to be active in the process. I trust my agent to do a fabulous job of selling my work but if I can put a face and a personality with the work that could make a difference. Meeting editors face to face could do that. Hence, the NYC Pitch and Shop conference.

This is one of the most dynamic conferences I've come across but it's something you have to be ready for. You do not have to have an agent but your book should be highly polished and ready. One of the fabulous things about the NYC Pitch and Shop conference is that if an editor likes your work, the conference will refer you to an agent!

The conference is four days long and you will meet with an editor to pitch your book to each day. There are close to twenty editors attending and most are from one of the Big 6 publishing houses. If they like you're work they'll ask for it. Between pitch sessions you'll workshop to improve your pitch. Don't worry, you'll get to work on it prior to the first pitch as well.

Sound interesting? Find out more about it here: http://newyorkpitchconference.com/

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Know The Facts Even When Writing Fiction

Even if you write fiction part of your story is probably based on fact and getting those facts straight is what makes the story believable. You can make a fantasy world as creative as you want but if you screw up the simple stuff readers will always call you on it. My last young adult trilogy was about werewolves. So where are the facts in that you ask? Good question.

There are two kinds of facts, actual ones and those you make up. You don't want to get either one wrong. My trilogy was based on four very different cultures that (in my books) migrated to America hundreds of years ago, Romanians, Tibetans, Irish, and Mayans. To accurately portray each culture I had to research each and every one and learn about their history and people. It was a lot of work but it was fascinating and I really enjoyed it. That's what I like to call the facts within the fiction.

While Google is a great research tool you have to be careful that the sites you do your research on are reputable. In my case I went to websites for major cities in the countries and looked back through their history that way. I also hit up a nearby library and did some research the old fashion way. I love Wikipedia but you have to be careful to check the facts you find there. Sound like a lot of work for a fictional book? I'm only half done.

It's vital to keep a record of the fictional facts in your story, that way you never break your own rules. Without giving away too much of my series I'll try to give you an example. In my book as werewolves first come into their change (around puberty) they are more compelled by the full moon to turn into wolf form. I always had to keep track of the moon phase in my book and not screw up the story line based on that. Keep a notebook for small facts and rules of your world and it will help keep you on track when you go back and edit.

Remember, just because you write fiction doesn't mean you aren't held to some rules, even if they are your own! Though it focuses on non-fiction writing, take a look at this article by Writer's Digest titled Get Your Facts Straight. You'll be surprised how much of it applies to fiction writing! http://writersdigest.com/article/Get_Your_Facts_Straight

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Creating Your Own Writing Retreat

With the rising cost of writer's retreats and the sadly decreasing frequency of them you may not have a chance to attend one to work on your craft. Don't let the cost of flying to some distant location or the retreat fees deter you. There is another way. Either with a few friends or even on your own, you can create your own writing retreat. Often we don't get our writing done just because we don't have the time or lack of distractions. Think of it as a vacation, make the time.

The key is to get out of your regular environment where you're tempted to do other things that clamor for your attention. If you can get away for a short time on a daily basis do so. But if you can only do it on a weekly or even monthly basis that's great too. Any time truly alone with your writing is quality time. Your local bookstore or coffee shop are perfect for short getaways.

If you have a few writing buddies you can create a more in depth retreat. Just last February my Scribe Sisters got together and worked on our novels together for a week. Though it would be a blast, you don't have to go to an exotic or expensive location to do this. Pick an inexpensive bed and breakfast, or meet at a friend's house that will be empty for the duration of the retreat. In our retreat my critique group and I worked on our inciting incident chapters, our plot point 1 chapters, our mid point chapters, plot point 2 chapters, and the climax of our novels. To see how we conducted our own retreat check out these posts from it: http://heathermccorkle.blogspot.com/2010/02/first-day-of-writers-workshop.html
http://heathermccorkle.blogspot.com/2010/02/plot-point-1-of-your-novel.html
http://heathermccorkle.blogspot.com/2010/02/mid-point-of-your-novel.html
http://heathermccorkle.blogspot.com/2010/02/your-novels-climax.html

The important thing to remember is to have a plan for working on your writing and to stick to it. Whether you're working alone or with a group, have an hour, or a week, its the commitment and the desire to improve that is important.

For a few books that you can use as guidelines for you own retreat workshoping check these out:
Writing The Breakout Novel by agent Donald Maass http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Writing-the-Breakout-Novel/Donald-Maass/e/9781582971827
The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-First-Five-Pages/Noah-Lukeman/e/9780743290937/?itm=1&usri=The+First+Five+Pages
The Fundamentals of Fiction by William Bernhardt: http://www.williambernhardt.com/dvds.php
And check out this great article on Do It Yourself Writing Retreats by Writer's Digest: http://writersdigest.com/article/Do-It-Yourself-Writing-Retreats/

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~Margaret Stohl

Margaret Stohl is one of the dynamic co-authors of the YA paranormal Beautiful Creatures. I started following her on Twitter shortly after I featured her co-author on my Twitter Tuesday post a few months ago. Margaret isn't a frequent Tweeter (sorry for the reference non-Twitter users) but she has a way of drawing you in and making you listen when she talks, or tweets rather. Though this is Margaret's debut novel she has a long history with writing. Among her repertoire are screenplays and video games, yep, video games. Not one to be taken too lightly though, she has an MA in English from Stanford and taught Intro to Film as a TA at Yale, and Romantic Poetry as a TA at Stanford.

All that education hasn't gone to her head though. Quite the contrary. Margaret is a down to earth writer who isn't afraid to enlist the help of her daughters when it comes to her writing. She is also one of the most supportive and encouraging people I've met on Twitter.

To learn more about Margaret check out her blog here: http://margaretstohl.typepad.com/
Find her on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/mstohl
And check out the website for her and Kami Garcia's fabulous YA book here: http://beautifulcreaturesthebook.com/
You can read my Twitter Tuesday post featuring the co-author Kami Garcia here: http://heathermccorkle.blogspot.com/2009/12/twitter-tuesday.html

Speaking of which, if you love young adult, paranormal, or the south, you must read this book.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday's Muse~Carlo Traversi

It's so exciting when the first draft of a novel draws to a close. I love that feeling of everything coming together and suddenly making sense. This picture of a stoic hallway seemed to be a very appropriate picture to inspire me. The artist is Carlo Traversi. His website is http://www.secretmorning.com/homepage.html  Be sure to check it out for some remarkable inspiration.

Anytime I finish the first draft of a book I put it aside for as long as I can stand to. This gives me a chance to disconnect and think about other things like normal life and reality. Usually I can only tolerate the separation for a week and this case was no exception. I'm working on my first read through edit of it right now. This one is particularly exciting to me because it's completely different from the series I wrote and its a stand alone book. Well, sort of. I'm working on the outline for a tie-in book! The new book will be a stand alone and the protagonist is a different character. I can't wait, that one is going to be fun!

But for now I get to bask in the pleasure of editing. You think I jest? On the contrary, I love the editing process. I'm diving in and have set my edit completion goal (a four stage process) for the end of April. By May I plan to have Grendar's Tale polished and submitted to my agent. A tight schedule? Why yes, but I thrive under pressure ;) Wish me luck!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Descriptions: Too Much Or Too Little

Describing a scene, a person, or an object can make your novel shine or rust. There's a happy medium between describing something just enough to put the reader there and overdoing it to the point where you jolt them out of the novel. It's easy to tell too little and confuse the reader. I've been guilty of this myself. Sometimes when you're rushing too fast to finish the work this can happen. That's okay, as long as you take your edits nice and slow and catch it there. More than one scene in my manuscript will start out being anorexic and I know I'll have to spend extra time on it during one of my many edits.

You can go the opposite direction and overwrite a description as well. As a reader I love good description. But if the author goes on for pages where they're just describing the scenery or the weather and nothing is happening, I'll probably close the book. There is the key, something has to be happening. You can describe a grassy meadow the character is walking through or a murder scene they're arriving at so long as the description has meaning.

A description can be to set the mood for a scene or to teach the reader something about a fantasy world, but regardless of the intent of the description it must add to the flow, not stop it. Think of your book as a river. If you damn it up in places people might choose that spot to get out of the water.

Here's a great link by Writer's Digest on enriching your descriptions: http://writersdigest.com/article/enrich-your-descriptions

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April's Featured Debut Author~Leah Cypess

It was a complete accident that I'm posting this on April Fool's day. It's no joke I promise! You're going to love this book and its author. In fact, Leah is so gracious when I contacted her via e-mail to let her know I was featuring her she volunteered to stop by my blog throughout the day and answer questions! After you check out all the great links on this book be sure to leave her a question and check back for answers. No kidding! Should be a fun day.

April's featured debut author is Leah Cypess. Her young adult fantasy novel Mistwood is releasing April 27th. Mistwood is about a girl, Isabel, who everyone believes is a shifter, an ancient creature who has protected the kings of Samorna for centuries. The problem is, Isabel can't remember. Intrigue and plots of assassination draw her into a tangled web where she struggles to discover where she came from and what she truly wants.

Check out Leah's website to learn more about the novel and watch the fabulous trailer here: http://www.leahcypess.com/

You can join me in pre-ordering Mistwood here (among other places): http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Mistwood/Leah-Cypess/e/9780061956997

I'll start off the questions for Leah. I love the idea of shapeshifters in a fantasy setting. How did the idea for Mistwood come to you?