I wasn't really sure what to post about today. I WAS going to do a piece on why Taylor Swift is this generation's Britney Spears, but I lost interest. lol
I've read about 4 books in the past 3 weeks, and if you know me and/or followed by Goodreads challenge last year, you know that is actually a lot for me! I enjoy good reads, but I appreciate fast reads, too! (And maybe if we all send Natalie Whipple some plot ideas for a third Transparent book, she'll cave and write one. *wink*)
If you also happen to be paying me any attention on Goodreads, you'll see I have 2 or 3 books I've been reading since probably the beginning of 2014. I'm going to try to keep reading them, as they're on my Kindle, but I certainly won't make any promises.
Dani @ Entertaining Interests and Jackie @ Bouquet of Books, without whom I wouldn't have had anything relevant to say on here for at least a year.
This week, they asked a hard question about what item we would bring back if we went back in time.
And I honestly don't know! Maybe a traditional Renaissance dress, because I loved the costumes we wore in high school for our Renaissance Feast...OOH! Or I'd go back in time and have Matisse or Renoir paint me, then bring that back. lol Why not?
Have a good weekend, everyone!
I still can’t quite believe I received The Call. I’ve seen so many success stories on blogs and twitter and I’m beside myself to add my own.
I wrote my first real manuscript, a chapter book, beginning my senior year of high school and throughout college as it became part of my senior thesis. I queried small publishing houses and received form rejections. For good reason.
Once I graduated, I worked fulltime and the only writing I did was a column in a magazine and a monthly company newsletter. But after I had my daughter in 2010, my husband and I thought it best if I stayed home with her. His one stipulation was that I make time to write. So I followed Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way to reprioritize my life. And wrote two YA manuscripts before I had my son in 2013. I revised, hunted for beta readers without really knowing how to go about it, joined a local Writers’ Guild, entered contests and received some agent attention but ultimately, rejections.
Then I saw tweets about QueryKombat. I initially wasn’t going to enter. I mean, SC Author had in BOLD that this wasn’t a contest for the faint of heart or thin-skinned. And it had the word kombat in it.
But my manuscript deserved a chance to fight and Ravenous Rushing picked me for his team. I was estatic. Until I read my combatant's query and first 250. It was amazing; I would have voted for her. I was KO’d after the first round.
By this time, I had made some contacts during the twitter party and one of the judges, Melinda, offered to look at my manuscript after I had put on twitter that I needed help finding ‘plot evolution problems’ as one agent put it. I honestly just expected her to tell me when she grew bored.
But she shocked me by emailing me back that night. She got sucked into my story and had read the entire manuscript. She’d loved it. She got my characters and best of all, she could see my plot problems.
She mentored me for about a month and toward the end, surprised me by offering to recommend it to her agent. She thought she would love my voice-driven narrative and Southern setting. After her help polishing my query, I emailed it to her agent.
It was the longest sixteen days ever. Then I received an email. The subject said “Representation”. She wanted to set up The Call for the next day. We had a three year-old’s birthday party to go to that morning so by the time came for the phone call, I was hyped up on nerves and birthday cake icing. I’m not good at phone calls in a normal situation and even asked “I’m not making any sense, am I?”. Luckily, the agent laughed. She answered all my questions, told me how much she loved my manuscript and then gave suggestions on how to get it ready for submissions. I liked--and agreed--with all her suggestions.
Melinda had advised me to trust my gut, so I did and signed with Priya Doraswamy of Lotus Lane Literary.
Ya’ll, contests are the best way to meet other writers and authors. It amazes me how folks are willing to help you succeed. I’m so glad I entered QueryKombat and put my work out there.
Candice Marley Conner is a mom by day and a writer by naptime. She loves all fairy tales and has to take turns with her three-year-old daughter on who gets to be the evil queen. She feels most at home near water so her characters do too. She has articles published in the Wiregrass Living Magazine, Good Taste Magazine, Tanning Trends and has poems and short stories in Oracle Fine Arts Review. Her YA mystery, THE EXISTENCE OF BEA PEARL is available for submission.
Congrats Candice!!!!!! Good luck with everything and thank you so much for sharing! Everyone, make sure you all congratulate her on Twitter.
So, the studio—along with the analysts—brings you “The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)”.
You know, it’s an interest for sure that the Spider-Man series was rebooted in the first place.
It’s a wonder.
A shocking wonder.
Spider-Man (the 2002 film), starring Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, and Kirsten Dunst grossed over $800 million. The sequel, Spider-Man 2 (2004 film) grossed over $780 million. And the third and final film, Spider-Man 3 (2007) grossed over $890 million.
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) grossed a lot of money, too.
And it’s a wonder, since it came out only 5 years after the last Spider-Man movie!
(As a side note, don’t you suppose they should come up with more creative names for the movies? This professor thinks so. “Spider-Man” just gets boring after a while.)
So, here is The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) ripped for two chief reasons:
1. It’s a reboot of a successful franchise.
2. Its name stinks.
For heart so dear,
Hard to reach
Yet easy to fear.
The bats fly
To protect me.
however,They are stuck in the belfry.
Solitude is all I have.
Isolation is what I own.
I wish one day that I
Will not have to feel so alone.
My life has been blown.
I have no cover.
Do not look for me,
For my wretch body you will discover
Is all but bottomless.
Has filled up with all sadness,
All the anger I have suppressed.
The idea of indie publishing can be overwhelming--even scary. Believe me, I’ve been scared as heck since I took the leap and published The Summer of Crossing Linesand The Boy Who Loved Fire. But sometimes the scariest road is the one we must travel. I’ll share five scary things about indie publishing and what we can do to calm our nerves.
The New York Times wrote last week about Swoon Reads, a young-adult romance imprint from Macmillan Publishing, and its unique publishing model. It’s basically American Idol for books—readers’ favorites get published. It’s a cool concept, but one of the most striking features is that the winning books can be revised based on readers’ comments. I find that kind of alarming. On one hand, editors have always had a hand in how published works play out, and they’ve always weighed how plots affect sales. On the other hand, readers getting a say in what happens to characters takes the editing process a step farther than I’m comfortable with.
Consider, as evidence, the vitriolic fan reaction to Charlaine Harris’ final Sookie Stackhouse novel. And by vitriolic, I mean death threats—over which hot, male lead the trouble-prone waitress settled down with. Another series that ended with fans screaming for the author’s head was the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth. And what fan hasn’t cursed George R.R. Martin more than once?
But fans aren’t the best judges of what should happen to characters they love, and I include myself among them. I want everyone to get their happy ending, even though that’s not how reality works—maybe because that’s not how reality works. That's really common, and it's probably ingrained in people. We want to see characters get the ends they deserve. It’s been theorized that's because the belief that justice prevails helps keep the world spinning—and us satisfied with the way it spins. After all, if society were corrupt and unfair, we’d rise up to change it, right? (Read more in this Boston Globe article, which also explores whether fiction helps or hurts us.)
But let’s face it, novels would be far less interesting if bad things didn’t happen. Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet would be just more romance novels. The boy’s survival in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road wouldn’t mean much if death only claimed bad people. The love story in John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars wouldn’t yank at our hearts the same way. Readers don’t always know what’s best.
I’ve heard on several occasions that killing a character will make the critics appreciate your work and readers hate it. That’s, of course, too simplistic. Many readers revel in tragedy or less-than-perfect endings because they’re more real-world. And critics are just readers, too. In Veronica Roth’s case, this paradigm did play out. Multiple critics responded to Allegiant by saying the trilogy’s conclusion proved that Roth was a serious YA writer—implying YA writers who give their characters happy endings are fluff writers. Now I don’t think Allegiant could have ended any other way; self-sacrifice is a major theme in all the books. But I don’t think Roth’s work should be taken more seriously solely because she killed off her main character. That’d be too easy of an out for authors.
One of my favorite YA dystopians, Ann Aguirre’s Razorland Trilogy, does have a happy ending, but no one could write the books off as fluff. They deal with serious issues, including rape, death, discrimination, independence and redemption. The characters suffer. Novels don’t mean as much if characters don't. Take Harry Potter and Katniss Everdeen. They both technically get happy endings, but they lose important things and people along the way. Perhaps the best recipe for success with both critics and readers is a half-happy ending. But if every book embraced that, readers would become desensitized. The diversity of all the ways books end makes the sadder, more poignant conclusions mean more. So, in that sense, critics, publishers and “serious” writers should thank all the happy-ending writers.
There's really no formula for success, and presuming anyone can write a best-seller by combining elements of other great books won't work. This is the part that makes me most uncomfortable about writing or editing for reader preference, especially if it's presuming to know what readers will want. Creative license and novel ideas are essential. Rubbing off the sharp edges makes works duller. Take, for example, The Hunger Games. What reader would have said, "Yes! Write me a book about kids killing each other!" Or take Fight Club. "I've been looking for a book about a crazy man beating up anyone who'd be his friend!" As a reader, I want writers to go bold. Write for themselves. Take the disgusting and make it beautiful. Please.
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The reason I am talking about this is not that I'm a frustrated runner (though I am). It's that Homecoming is our annual signal that summer is fast coming to an end. School starts tomorrow for students, having already started for teachers on Wednesday. My classroom is ready and I'm looking forward to meeting my new kids. Especially for the next four months, life will be quite hectic. That may seem like it will make it harder for me to write, but the opposite is actually true.
I need routine to get work done. When I have time on my hands, I waste it. On the other hand, when my time is limited, I seem to feel the need to take advantage of what I do have. I don't imagine I'm at all unique in that. Probably a lot of folks feel the same way. I like to say that I could use some time off to write, and who knows, maybe if I had enough time that I could get bored with it, I would start writing again just to have a new routine. But with less than a three week summer this year, all I could think about was how little I wanted to do anything constructive with my days off.
I'm almost 18,000 words into the initial draft of my third Shalan adventure and I have two more final drafts waiting for publication. So for this school year, my writing goals are two: finish this manuscript--all the way up to publication ready--and get my first manuscript published, be that through an agent or on my own. I am stating here that this time next year, I will be a published author who is actually making meaningful money.
Assuming that is true, I'll remind you of my prediction in twelve months. If it's not, don't remind me unless you want a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
Spartans considered arrows “feminine.”
This was because arrows were a long-range weapon that allowed you to kill without really seeing your enemy. The Spartans’ weapons of choice were a thrusting spear and a short iron sword, which required them to get up close and personal. Despite their disdain for arrows, they did use bows and arrows in their auxiliary forces.
Tune in next week for more about the Spartans!
(Make sure to go visit the Insecure Writer's Support Group website and the wonderful Alex J Cavanaugh as well.)
A couple of real quick things because unfortunately I don't really have more than a moment to post.
June and July flew right on by faster than ever before. This was the fastest, busiest, craziest summer I've had in all my 28 years. I've caught up, got behind, caught up, edited, worked a lot for free, worked a lot for not free, did a decent job of keeping my kids occupied, did a not so decent job of keeping my kids occupied, and did a barely decent job of not going crazy in all the madness.
Writing is happening, every once in a while. I've been reading a lot too, only as I've had time though. And I worked on crits, but then lost my internet for a bit and I've been behind since. But now I have to wait for AQC to come back up so I can get caught up again.
I think my biggest insecurity I've been feeling recently is that my current MS that I've been editing isn't really worth it and my other completed MS that I should just query or self pub is garbage even though I put a TON of effort into fixing it. I love both stories. And I really love the one I'm editing. But I've started posting it for critique and the crits (only chapter one...) on it have brought back old feelings from the first MS I had critted and I start worrying that I'm going to be in the same place I was. Mega editing and rewriting until I have a story that I love and hate all in one. Hopefully it's not going to end up like that and hopefully eventually I won't have anything but love for my first MS.
Last thing, I'm thinking I need to switch my blog. I'm not sure exactly what I want to do because I actually like blogger and Idk if I'll like something else as much. But I've had trouble with my blogger stuff ever since I got this laptop with Win 8. So, if anyone has any ideas/suggestions I'll gladly take 'em.
I hope everyone else is having a wonderful summer and I'll see you soon. (Hopefully sooner than a month or two.)
The automotive world is one that remains sheltered to innovation. Many things about cars and the way they’re sold to us have been done the same way for decades. It’s an industry which, on the whole, seems resistant to innovation or change all together. Considering the first hybrid drive car was invented and produced over 100 years ago, it’s a shame we’re only now seeing electric cars slowly start to come to the mainstay. Sure, there have been improvements in the existing technology, but internal combustion has remained the same technology, albeit more efficient, for decades.
This reluctance to embrace change seems to happen in the social media world as well. While some car manufacturers have established a great presence online, others seem to have created them but allow them to languish. It may be a good time to read a past post of mine about using social media well, and how a dangerous a stagnating social media account really can be. But head offices aren’t the only ones who should be utilizing this powerful tool. Boots on the ground dealerships are company’s direct interaction with potential, current and past customers. Sadly the buying experience at dealerships hasn’t changed much either, and many seem to have a very poor understanding of social media. While there are a few, very exceptional, exceptions, dealerships in general are missing out on massive potential simply by ignoring these powerful tools.
This isn’t just for new car dealerships either. Used car dealerships often have a negative stigma attached to them as well. Sales experiences at many used car lots can be so poor that they only support the unfortunate stereotype that plagues them. Engaging and building relationships with your community through social media is a great way to draw people onto your lot and disarm them before they arrive. Customers will arrive curious, happy and devoid of the traditional “used car lot” ideals.
So, how are you missing out on customers by doing social media poorly, or not at all?
Sales leads through interaction
Social media’s very nature is give and take. Simply posting things to Facebook and Twitter like you would a pin board or website isn’t enough. Social media is designed to be a conversation, a form of interaction. People post, publicly, their needs and their wants. The citizenship of your community waits to be engaged through social media. You can get involved with local charity events, talk to brand supporters – and detractors – in real time. You can see what the people of your sales area are saying about your dealership, about your brand. Find people who are interested in cars, buying cars or having issues with cars. By building these interactions you’re creating potential customers.
Having this kind of interaction also creates a sense of connection and authenticity with your potential clients. Buyers under 30 especially are far more likely to drive a bit to a dealership that took the time to chat with them on Facebook or Twitter than visit the local shop. While loyalty and return business means something to an older generation of buyers, it doesn’t to younger, more active buyers. Dealerships who rely on family loyalty for sales leads will find themselves with sales shrinking fast. By engaging with your community online – for free – you’re tapping into a massive pool of customer leads. You can get basic sales information- name, email, location, wants – without the pressure of a showroom or the obligation of a call back. Stash it away somewhere and keep the dialogue open. You’ll likely find that person show up at your location. Remember; social media interactions shouldn’t be about sales tactics, they should be about building leads through relationships. Keep the conversation like you would one with friends or colleagues. This leads nicely into…
Breaking away from traditional sales mentality
There is a very typical way that customers seem to be approached at dealerships. My experience has shown that you can tie very clearly a dealership experience with how well, or not well, social media is used. Many dealer owners who understand and value social media have altered their mindset of how sales should be handled. A visit to one of their dealerships is often a pleasant, fruitful one. You leave feeling informed and empowered to make your decision, your way. Many people chose the dealership – and the vehicle – they buy based on this experience. Actively making social media an important part of your sales environment forces you to change how sales happen at your dealership. Customers get used to a kind of interaction on social media and come to your dealership with those expectations. If your experience on site is anything different, that customer will shut down and likely leave.
Sales floor interactions will soon mimic the relational driven, low pressure candidacy of your social media accounts. Customers will find a fluid experience from online interactions to sales floor. Today’s customers are intelligent, engaged and entitled. They know what they want, they have an idea of how they want to buy it and they want it now. Making the decision to have social media be a key component to your sales toolbox is an instrumental step in changing how your dealership does sales. I would submit it’s an essential one.
Potential to engage bloggers/SM influencers
One of the great benefits of social media is engaging blogging/tweeting influencers. These people often have engaged and large followings, they know how to draw attention to their tweets and engage audiences around their subjects. My personal Twitter Test Drive program is a very small example of that. By using social media actively you will find yourself engaging and attracting influencers from your community. Using these influencers to drive business and traffic to your site is a great, and often free (or cheap), way of advertising. Social media influencers are seen as “real people” and unbiased by their followers with a level of authenticity no company can recreate. People take what they say to heart or consider them authorities in their area. By engaging with these influencers you gain respect from the community simply by being vouched for.
When you partner with one of these influencers, it acts like a third party review of your dealership. People will suddenly become curious about your dealership. It will become the topic of online conversation or, better still, offline conversation. All lead to your dealership name being talked about outside of conventional advertising means. People will start engaging with your dealership’s social media platform and soon, leads will begin to take shape. Companies constantly strive to find ways to get positive, real, reviews of their services into the lime light. Engaging and partnering with social media influences is an easy, quick and cost effective way to get authentic, but controlled, reviews of your brand and your dealership.
A “real” relationship with your customers
Engagement through social media goes beyond building customer leads. Once someone has made the decision to purchase and become a customer, social media still plays an important role. In today’s world, people gravitate more towards companies that feel more “real”, or companies that they can relate too and with. By building a relationship with your customers through interactions, they feel more like your friend than just someone you can extract money from. Social media lets you get to know them as they use your products. Check up on how kids are liking the new car, family road trips, etc. Use social media to continue an engaged conversation with your current customers and they, in turn, will make their respective social circles aware of you.
A social media team can make your dealership a friend of the community, not just a business in the community.
Increased loyalty, return business
Remember how I said up there that traditional loyalty and generation to generation loyalty was dead? Well, it isn’t really. The loyalty of today’s customer is far more fickle than in days past. Far more emotional. By using social media to engage, lead and then build a relationship with a customer, you leave them feeling like a value person. People are naturally drawn to others who value them. Customers will be far more likely to return for dealer service. When the time comes for a new car, or to make a suggestion to a friend or family member, you can be sure your dealership will come up. Customers may even overlook brand bias because of the relationship you have grown with them. Ultimately, using and engaging through social media will build return customers of the most loyal kind.
Summer with four kids is busy. SO BUSY. There are some days where I don’t sit down from the time I wake up til the kids go to bed at night. You can imagine how that effects my writing time. I still write at night when the world is filled with blissful “now I can think” kind of silence but that’s only a few hours and I tend to get a bad case of “falling asleep while writing” when I only write at night. Plus I need to take SOME time to breathe and you know what they say about Summer Nights….”Well-a, well-a, well-a, uh!”
Since signing with Lake Union I’ve been doing a lot of work filling out a questionnaire for the publisher, getting author photos, setting up an author page and all that other fun stuff. All my work has been writing related but not many words have been added to my WIP or any other stories in the past two weeks. Two weeks feels like forever and I’m starting to miss the characters that populate my stories. I feel like they’re paused in this strange limbo just waiting for me to come back before they can keep living their lives.
So, to the characters waiting oh-so-patiently inside my stories: I will see you soon. I’m looking forward to jumping back into your messy, entertaining and emotional lives but for now I have a few things to say.
From my WIP BEYOND:
Steve- Don’t forget to feed the kids something more than Goldfish crackers. I know you just got some bad news but don’t worry, it’s only going to get worse before it gets better ;)
Natalie- When I left you, you were out for a run. Sorry! Bet those legs are getting tired after two weeks. You’ll deserve a virtual massage after this workout.
Will- I may have given you just a little too much time to look at that brochure. I have a feeling you might notice a familiar face there if you keep looking for too long. Better get back to writing this one, FAST.
From edits on FRAGMENTS:
Lillian: Left you burning up in that hot sun on the raft. Don’t you wish the battery on that beacon had been functional? Geeze, what bad luck *Evil laugh*
Dave: You’re lucky enough to be passed out. Gonna be a looong nap. Just snuggle up in some corner of that inflatable raft and enjoy the rest. It’s not going to happen again for a long long time.
Kent: I have one word for you–SUNBURN. SO.MUCH.SUNBURN.
From my “for fun” YA fantasy side project, SNOW. This baby’s been on pause since February. Poor thing:
Raven: So, right now you’re washing the biggest sink full of dishes ever but at least it’s with a prince by your side. Maybe he likes you when he thinks you’re nothing but a pretty peasant girl but he doesn’t know who you really are. And girl, you’ve gotta stop looking at yourself in the mirror. Seriously. Stop it. RIGHT NOW.
Cal: Dude. You are putting everything on the line for this girl, lying to royalty, hiding a fugitive. Be careful. You have a lot in common with her but remember–you are a dwarf. Traditionally the dwarf doesn’t end up with the girl. To make matters worse now she’s getting all friendly with the prince. Jealous much?
George: I think you are learning how to dry dishes at the moment with servant girl Nessa/Princess Raven. How do you not know it’s her? After all these days suspended in time something inside you MUST know or at least have a clue…..
To that new story I just jotted down the basics of for a later date:
Can’t wait to get to know you! Don’t even have character names yet but one day….one day.
Well- farewell for now my friends. Some of you I’ll work with sooner than others. Just keep eating, breathing, sleeping etc till I get back to you. I haven’t forgotten about you. I swear.
Three more weeks of summer vacation. In some ways I’m looking forward to school starting again but I do love summer with all it’s swimming, popsicles, sprinklers and park days. Great. Now I’m sad that summer is almost over but at least I have my imaginary friends to keep me company through the long, cold winter of Illinois. Seriously, what would I do without you guys?
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I can be a ruthless murderer of darlings. Or so I thought. Ha. Not so fast, bucko!
I've killed off beloved characters, hacked away paragraphs of lyricism, dumped whole sections if they didn't earn their keep. Sure, I've had moments of remorse. I've even resurrected a couple of characters, only to have to re-kill them. Nothing was too sacred for my killing fields.
I've written before how, to be a good gardener, one must learn to be ruthless. In writing fiction (in any writing), it's a given. We bleed and vomit all over our first drafts, only to go back with scalpel, hatchet, or blunderbuss.
But eventually we get to an end point. Or so we think. I'd finished a first full edit with my editor, sent it back, got suggestions for the second and final edit, and, piece o' cake, bushed it up, polished the few bumps, and sent it back. One final step before proofing hard copy: beta readers.
First response from a new (to me) but experienced reader: one paragraph where she had no clue, after several readings, what I was trying to say, and several "too big" words. Only 27, out of over 91K words, but still.
I balked. I talked to my editor/publisher, who said I needed to really get that our audience for genre fiction reads at an 8th grade level. 8th Grade! No, says I, not possible. But I'm not writing literary fiction here, so why argue. Why not meet the challenge of "dumbing down" the vocabulary while conveying the same sense?
Because it goes against my nature. We should be smartening up, not dumbing down. Right?
Or do I accept that I'm not writing to teach, but to tell a good story well.
So I run my frustration past another who's read the book and has a good ear and eye. Surely, with the same background, he'll see that many of these words we learned in grade school.
Yeah, he said, but...
So I began going over the words with him. Simple words. Subjugate. Tenuous. Edifice.
Nope, he says. Most wouldn't know those words. I think of a recent discussion thread in an online writers' group about just this. Do we write down or not? Or is it writing down to cut out "showoff" words (and none, I thought, were showing off.) A highly regarded author has said if you're tempted to use a multisyllabic word and there's a simple, little word you can use instead, use it.
So, now it's time to murder those darlings. I didn't even know they were. I'll see them for what they are next time!
What's your take on this? I'd love to hear.
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