Showing posts from March, 2010

Trouble With Novel Beginnings

I've been to a few retreats now and I keep hearing the advice of 'start your novel with action'. While I bow to the experts who've been in the business far longer than myself and have sold thousands of books, I don’t necessarily agree with that. Perhaps it’s a genre specific thing of genres I don't write! The statement is too vague and easy to misunderstand. Too many people take it literally and feel like they have to start their book with explosions, murder, a chase, a fight, something huge and dramatic. But I don't think that's really what the advice means. When you think of action try not to think of it as a Hollywood thing, think instead in a literary sense. Better yet, replace the word action with tension. War And Peace didn't start with action but it definitely started with tension. So what does that mean? How should you start your book? Somewhere near the beginning of your book should be the catalyst, the thing that sets everything in motion a

Twitter Tuesday~Alissa Grosso

Alissa Grosso and I met while participating in a chat on Twitter. She isn't a frequent tweeter (person who posts on Twitter) but when she does it's something to take note of, usually a great link, tip, or bit of fun information. Shortly after following her on Twitter I checked out her blog. I love checking in and catching up with her on what she's reading and sharing what I'm reading. I'm almost always guaranteed at least one good laugh from her weekly posts. What more would you expect from a fan of Douglas Adamas?! Look for Alissa's debut novel, The Balderdash Semesters in 2011. I'll keep you posted as she reveals more about the book and we get closer to the release date! You can find Alissa on Twitter here: And check out her blog here:

Monday's Muse~Winged Man

When I found this picture I could hardly believe it because it felt like the artist had reached inside my mind and plucked out a scene from my book. Despite an intensive search I couldn't come up with a website for him, but I did find his name. This heart pounding painting is by Joe Costello. I found a website for a Joe Costillo, but I’m pretty sure that isn't him. If anyone is able to find Costello's website leave me a message so I can check out more of his work and steer people toward him. So why am I inspired by a painting of a winged man when I'm writing about dragons? Sorry, you'll have to wait to find that out. No worries though, I'm only a few chapters away from finishing the first draft. I plan on running it through several edits throughout the month of April and then submitting it to my agent in May! Its hard to believe I'm almost done with the first draft of this book. . . Last week's song was Drums Of Doom by Manowar. Very appropriate for

Review of Still Sucks To Be Me

In March I was lucky enough to get my hands on an ARC (advanced reader copy) of Still Sucks To Be Me , a young adult paranormal by Kimberly Pauley. I'm really glad I did because I haven't read anything this unique in a long time. As many of you know, unique in the literary world can damn you or make you. In this case I'd have to say it definitely makes the book. Still Sucks To Be Me is a story about a girl who has made the difficult choice to become a vampire and has to deal with the consequences. Don't shy away folks, this is no Twilight knockoff, not by a long shot. Kimberly has a way of getting us into her character's life as if we were living it right alongside her. Mina is such a beleivable person that I feel like I could walk down the street and bump into her. Still Sucks To Be Me reads as though I was walking down the hall in school, picked up a journal off the floor, and started reading it. And that journal just happened to be written by a girl who

Is Writing Talent Or Hard Work?

Since the quill pen was invented people have contemplated the idea of whether writing was a natural born talent or just plain hard work. We writers wish and pray for the times when our muse visits us and the words flow onto the page. But are we less of a writer without the muse? Should we wait around for it to visit, writing only when we feel inspired? Well sure, if you don't want to be an author . Authors, those writers who've crossed into publication, know how and when to push. I believe writing is not one or the other, but both a talent and a lot of hard work. Can everyone write well? Absolutely not. Can everyone learn how to? I believe they can. Don't get me wrong, I also believe a certain amount of talent must exist. But if we wait around for the times when our muse whispers in our ear and moves that pencil across the page or those fingers along the keyboard, we may never finish our works in progress and we may never learn. I certainly wouldn't be working on my s

Is Dialogue Dooming Your Novel?

Many agents say they can tell how good a novel is going to be just by how well the dialogue is written. I've even heard some say they've rejected a manuscript solely because the dialogue was sub par. You can't afford for you dialogue to be less than the very best it can be. There's a fine line between keeping your dialogue realistic and keeping it from being so realistic it's painfully boring. Much of an actual conversation in life is full of long pauses, short phrases, and annoying words like well and uh. That doesn't mean you shouldn't use these words, it just means you need to limit them. The dialogue you choose to put in your book should be meaningful. If the conversation doesn't move the plot or the character arc forward, chances are you don't need it in the book. If your characters are talking about something pointless that's fine as long as there's a point to the scene itself. Perhaps the reader learns something important about the

Twitter Tuesday~Mindful Musings

Natalie and I met on Twitter and as soon as I got a look at her book blog, Mindful Musings, I knew I had to follow it. This lady has fabulous taste! Though she reads everything Natalie loves fantasy/paranormal and young adult books. Her book reviews are fantastic and any time I'm looking for something to read I know I can stop by her blog and get a great recommendation that I'm going to love. I can't even name all the books I've picked up based off something I read on her blog! She regularly features authors and highlights other book bloggers as well. Check her out on Twitter here: And check out her book blog here:

Monday's Muse~Dragons & Hawaii

, How could I not look at this picture and be inspired? You can almost hear the crackling fire and smell the burning flesh. This picture takes me back to some of the first fantasy books I ever read. Ironically~considering the picture~it stirs up comforting memories of good times and great stories. Unfortunately I have no idea who the artist is so if anyone knows please leave me a comment so I can give them credit, attach a link, and check out more of their work! This week was another two chapter week. I was so inspired that my right hand cramped up in protest after two 1,000 word days. A warm cup of coffee works wonders to relax that by the way! This second picture is of Waimea Canyon on Kauai, one of the islands of Hawaii. The Hawaiian Islands are one of my go to places when I'm looking for inspirational pictures that make me think of other worlds. That could be part of why I like Hawaii so much. This week since I had two chapters I picked two very different

De-Mystifying The Big 6 Publishing Houses

As my agent and I delve into the frightening stage of submitting to publishers the subject of The Big 6 comes up yet again and I realized, not all aspiring authors know what this means. Before the editor stage of submitting I didn't realize who The Big 6 were either. Here they are in no particular order (some subsidiaries may not be listed. Click on the link for a full listing): Random House: There are a lot of publishing groups each with their own imprints under this huge roof. Here the groups: Crown Trade Group, Knopf Doubleday Publishing, Random House Publishing Group (including Ballantine, Bantam, Dell, and many others), RH Audio Publishing Group, Random House Children's Books, RH Information Group, RH International, RH Large Print. Simon & Schuster: Atria, Folger Shakespeare Library, Free Press, Gallery Books, Howard Books, Pocket, Scribner, Simon & Schuster, Threshold Editions, Touchstone/Fireside, Aladdin, Atheneum

Super Comments Award

Lindsey Edwards from  The Write Words blog has awarded me (among a few fabulous others) the Super Comments award! Since I take my commenting responsibilities very seriously I'm truly honored to receive this award. When I follow a blog it's because I'm intrigued, entertained, or inspired by something in the blog, the writer, or both. I love connecting with those I follow and commenting on their entries is one way to do that. Supporting both aspiring and already published authors is a mission of mine and commenting and following their blogs is one way I love to do that. On that note I feel compelled to pass the Super Comments Award on to another five of my best commenters. Please click on their names to check out their fabulous blogs! Portia's: Lindsey's: Alissa Grosso's: Karlene Petitt: Anne Riley's: http://annecap

March Debut Author~Judith Graves

Since I love debut authors so much I thought it was only right that I start featuring one every month on my blog. I came across Judith while researching debut authors last week. Her name might sound familiar to you since I mentioned her in the post about authors debuting in 2010. You've got to love a name like Judith Graves! Shortly after that post Judith and I started following one another on Twitter. Judith loves tragic romance, werewolves, vampires, magick, and all things a bit creepy. If her book reflects her tastes, and I've no doubt it will, then it's going to be excellent! Judith's debut book, Under My Skin , comes out March 27th. Here's what I gather Under My Skin is about: Eryn moves to the town of Redgrave and is quickly warned away from the Delecriox family. People say they're dangerous. That doesn't deter Eryn though because she's dangerous too. When she falls for one of the Delecriox boys though everything goes bad. Look for Under My Sk

Twitter Tuesday~Anne Riley

Anne Riley is an up and coming author from Birmingham Alabama who is represented by Alanna Ramirez of Trident Media Group. I came across Anne on Twitter (are you starting to see why it's my go to site?!) and we've been chatting away ever since. As a woman who lists Stephanie Meyer and J.K. Rowling among her favorite authors, clearly we have much in common! Her tweets are funny, sometimes heart warming, and always entertaining. She isn't one of those folks who will fill up your Twitter page with rambling tweets about nothing. Whenever I see her avatar I know the tweet is going to be something helpful or funny. Anne is a huge supporter of aspiring authors and often does what she calls Pre-Famous Author Interviews on her blog. How can you not love that? She goes a step farther and regularly posts spotlights on literary agents. Just this week she spotlighted her own agent, Alanna, who was kind enough to stop by the blog and answer all kinds of questions for Anne's followe

Monday's Muse~Larry Elmore

This week is all about dragons. This picture is by my all time favorite fantasy artist Larry Elmore. His paintings have inspired me so much over the years that he is my go to artist for when I need something thought provoking. Larry Elmore will always be the fantasy artist as far as I'm concerned. Larry has done numerous covers for the role-playing magazines Dungeon and Dragon (yep, two seperate magazines) and you've probably seen his work on the covers of dozens of fantasy novels. Check out more of his fabulous art at his website here: Last week's song was The Prophecy by Iron Maiden. Don't judge until you check it out! Remember, I told you I was diverse! You can listen to a bit of it here:

2010 YA Debut Authors

As a huge supporter of debut authors I wanted to give my readers a taste of what's coming out this year in young adult. Check out these great debuts (click on the author name and title to be taken to their website): Swati Avasthi~ SPLIT a coming of age, releasing in March of 2010 Michele Corriel~ FAIRVIEW FELINES-A NEWSPAPER MYSTERY  July 2010 Leah Cypess~ MISTWOOD  a fantasy releasing in April 2010 Shannon Delany~ 13 TO LIFE  a paranormal releasing in June 2010 Alexandra Diaz~ OF ALL THE STUPID THINGS  Dec. 2010 Bonnie Doerr~ ISLAND STING  thriller releasing January 2010 Janet S. Fox~ FAITHFUL  historical YA releasing in May 2010 Judith Graves~ UNDER MY SKIN  releasing in March 2010 Rhonda Hayter~ THE WITCHY WORRIES OF ABBY ADAMS  April 2010 Jacqueline Houtman~ THE REINVENTION OF EDISON THOMAS  2010 Jennifer R. Hubbard~ THE SECRET YEAR  releasing in 2010 Denise Jaden~ LOSING FAITH  mystery releasing in the fall 2010 Kitty Keswick~ FREAKSVILLE  paranormal released Ja

Painful Levels

Since I started writing again I've been going to retreats and conferences in an attempt to push myself to take my writing to the next level. Once I started this process I couldn't stop. So what has me so addicted to improvement? Isn't it good enough to just have the natural talent of a writer? I wish it were that easy. When I was in high school I thought it would be that easy. I thought I'd write a book and get it published. Anyone who has finished a book and has tried getting and agent or jumped that hurdle altogether and went straight for the publisher knows just how hard that really is. There is no easy road to getting published and there is always room for improvement. It wasn't until I attended my first writer's retreat that I realized just how much room for improvement there was in my own writing. The only people who had read my book were friends who praised it until I blushed. I figured it must be good if my friends liked it. I can see you flinch even w

Twitter Tuesday~Portia Sisco

Portia Sisco is a writer hard at work on her book. She believes in getting it just right before leaping into the querying process and I applaud her for that. There's sometimes a big temptation for a writer to start looking for an agent as soon as they finish that first draft, or in worse cases, before. But not Portia. She has a great understanding of the way things work in the literary world and a need to get things right. As a fellow perfectionist, I love that about her. I came across her on Twitter then shortly after I discovered her blog. She isn't a frequent tweeter (one who posts on Twitter) but when she does tweet something you know it's going to be good. I can always count on her for helpful links for writers or sometimes just things that make me smile. Portia is also a lady with a passion for a good ghost story. Her blog is chalked full of great writing tidbits and the occasional sidetrack into the paranormal. Be sure to check her out! You can find her on Twitter

Monday's Muse~Dragons & Lavender

Despite fighting for every word this week, it was a two chapter week. I'm certain those pages will see a lot of red ink, but I got them down and that's what counts with the first draft. Its not a particularly tough part of my book, I'm just working a bit outside of the outline due to some inspiration I had. The picture above is another by the artist Ciruleo Cabral. Here's Ciruelo's web site: So how did I go from that fantastic painting to a field of lavender? What can I say, my muse must have ADD. No wait, that's probably me! Hopefully some day within this decade you'll get to read the book then it will all make sense to you. As random as my inspirations are, there's a pattern to them. The problem is, you can't see the whole picture until all the pieces are put together. This week I made a point of using music to keep my muse going. This song in particular spoke to me as I wrote my two current chapters: Trouble Is

Follower Appreciation

We had a great chat last night on Twitter about social media that made me think about how much I appreciate the followers of my blog. The chat was about balancing your writing, family, and social media time (Twitter, Facebook, ect.). We got sidetracked talking about how important it is to reach out to people for the right reasons. It was a good sidetrack. Building your platform by having pages on a few different sites is something most writers aspire to do, myself included. However, before you do so you should ask yourself why you want to join the sites. If the answer is just to increase readers then you need to reevaluate your platform. I'm not saying you shouldn't want to increase followers and readers, of course you should. However, you're main objective needs to be focused on the readers and followers instead of on yourself. Think of why you started writing in the first place. Chances are somewhere in your reasons was the need to share your stories with others. You sh

The Dreaded Synopsis

Some people hate writing a synopsis so much they avoid agents who ask for it. I have bad news for those folks, chances are good that even agents who don't initially ask for one will want one if they take you on. So how can you take the pain out of this horrible process? One paragraph at a time. It isn't easy to condense your hard work into a 3-5 or sometimes one page summary. It's even harder to do it and not make it sound like a stacatto scene by scene breakdown. Start similar to the way you started your query letter, with a hook sentence that sums up the heart of the book. From there hit on the important parts of the book. Infusing it with your writing style (or character voice) will help keep it from sounding like a scene by scene breakdown. Don't overdo the style though. The synopsis is about your story, not your writing. Finding that balance isn't easy, which is why most people hate doing one. Know what the agent wants in the synopsis. Some want to know eve

Tax Writeoffs For Writers

As tax season creeps up its important for writers to remember that many of our costs can be deducted as expenses. There are a lot of stipulations and many of them vary depending on what state you live in. Last year I talked to a tax consultant and got the low down on what was acceptable in my state. He told me I can claim expenses for two years as self-employed but if I haven't profited from my writing by the third year I have to stop claiming it as a type of self-employment and change to claiming it as a hobby. Thankfully, I'm only working on my second year of claiming my writing expenses and I'm really hoping to sell my series by the end of this year and make that three year profit deadline! There are quite a few things that count as expenses. Think of everything you use for your writing; paper, ink, pencils, pens, a new computer or printer maybe. All those things are deductible. Once you start keeping track of those types of expenses you'll be surprised how quickly

Twitter Tuesday~Lia Keyes

While looking for different chats for writers on Twitter I came across something called scribechat. It sounded perfect since it welcomed writers from all genres and I love to get as many different perspectives I can when it comes to a chat. The host (and I later found out, creator) of the chat was writer Lia Keyes. Lia is represented by Laura Rennert of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. I was welcomed with open arms into the chat and soon after began following Lia. She is a dedicated writer who is sweet and helpful. Her tweets are always full of excellent links and encouraging tidbits. Aside from hosting scribechat every Thursday at 6:00pm PST, Lia also runs the Scribblerati, a social network for writers and illustrators. You can find Lia on Twitter here: Learn more about scribechat here: Check out Lia's site here: And learn more about the Scribblerati at:

Monday's Muse~February's Reads

Since it’s the first Monday of the month I'm recapping what I've read for inspiration (or just fun) this month. With the writer's workshop smack in the middle of the month, February was pretty busy for me and I didn't get to read as much as I would have liked. But what I did read was excellent. I started the month of February with Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. It's a tale of magic, mystery, and a terrible curse, set in the south. This debut novel was breathtakingly pulled off, not only with living, breathing characters that I ached for, but with such descriptive talent that I feel like I've been to the south now. If I hadn't known this was their first novel I never would have guessed. In a literary world packed with vampires this unique tale was a breath of fresh air. Not a bloodsucker in sight. Loved, loved, loved this book! Don’t get me wron