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How ‘The Little Train That Could’ Got it Wrong

  Posted by Jean Oram in The Helpful Writer, 18 September 2014 · 8 views

<p>Short and sweet take away: Telling yourself “You can do it!” doesn’t cut the mustard long-term.</p>
<p>Did you know that those ‘pep talks’ where people say to themselves: “I can do it!” is actually less effective than if they were sit themselves down and ask: “Can I do it?”</p>
<p>According to author Dan Pink, people who ask themselves <em>if</em> they can do something opens the door for some serious cognitive engagement. They get the ball rolling in terms of arguing to themselves all the reasons why they <em>can</em> do it. (As well as a few arguments why they can’t.)</p>
<p>For example, say you want to become a popular, best-selling author.</p>
<p>Saying to yourself: “Yeah! I can do it! I can become a bestselling author, woot!” is great. You probably feel pumped up for at least two minutes afterwards. Maybe you even get the courage to stand up in front of a group of high school kids on career day to explain why being an author is the best job ever. But then what?</p>
<p>How about you say to yourself: “<em>Can</em> I become a bestselling author?” Hmmm. Well. That opens the discussion with yourself, doesn’t it? So, can you? You might then list all the reasons to yourself why you this is within your reach by reminding yourself of such positive traits and abilities such as having a wonderful work ethic, the ability to create build characters readers fall in love with, your background in sales, etc. But then you might also identify the reasons why you might <em>not</em> make it. You might identify that you always get caught up on grammar and it takes you too long to get a book out and you can’t seem to get on top of the rollercoaster you need to take to bestsellerdom because of it. And then you realize you need to get yourself a grammar editor or to take a serious grammar course.</p>
<p>Voila.</p>
<p>Because you identified what you are good at, you can hone it and cherish it–meaning you are less likely to inadvertently destroy it. BUT, you also now realize what some of your pitfalls and hurdles are. By identifying them you can form a plan to overcome them.</p>
<p>The lesson here–Be the skeptic not The Little Train that Could.<a class="embedtweet" title=" &lt;-- Tweet that." href="https://twitter.com/...rain-got-wrong/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> &lt;– Tweet that.</a></p>
<p>Sorry.</p>
<p><strong>Go play mind games on yourself and report back on how it worked out. I betcha you get further channeling that inner kiddo by asking yourself all those pesky ‘why’ questions. Good luck! I’m right here rooting for you!</strong></p>
<p>Note: This is a repost from one of my old blogs.<strong><br /></strong></p>
<p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="http://thehelpfulwri...rain-got-wrong/">How ‘The Little Train That Could’ Got it Wrong</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="http://thehelpfulwriter.com">The Helpful Writer</a>.</p>

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Why I Write — Reason 1

  Posted by LucidDreamer in LucidDreamer's Blog, 18 September 2014 · 12 views

Someone introduced me to this video today.  Please listen and enjoy: Okay, now… I can tell you a secret.  This video  highlights one reason why I write. Because one day, somehow, I hope to create something that is one-tenth that beautiful. Something that will touch one other person’s heart the way this music touches mine. Something […]

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Interview With Romance Author Evelyn Adams

  Posted by Jean Oram in The Love Bug Blog, 18 September 2014 · 12 views

<p>In July I was in San Antonio, Texas for the RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference. While I was there I met some amazing author friends in person. One of those people was fellow romance author Evelyn Adams. She is a woman who defies description, but I’ll try. She’s kind, a sweetheart, intelligent, demure, well-spoken, curious, and bold.</p>
<p>On one humid Texas evening I was able to corner Evelyn (it wasn’t too difficult) on the Riverwalk where we chatted about things like first dates, our books, favourite candies, and more. We packed an amazing amount of fun into two minutes including her new series–The Southerland Family–which, if you have enjoyed my Summer Sisters series, you’ll love as well.</p>
<p>Check it out and get to know us better!</p>
<p><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/8i1xpRLlv2k" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p>
<p>Liked it? <a title="Subscribe to Jean Oram's YouTube channel!" href="http://www.youtube.c...=authorjeanoram" target="_blank">Subscribe to my new YouTube channel!</a> I’ll have an interview with<a title="Lori Sjoberg's website" href="http://lorisjoberg.com/" target="_blank"> author Lori Sjoberg</a> coming in the next few days as well as videos where I answer YOUR questions about me, my books, and writing.<a title="Subscribe to Jean Oram's YouTube channel!" href="http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=authorjeanoram" target="_blank"> Stay tuned and subscribe!</a></p>
<p><strong>Got a question for me or Evelyn? Pop them in the comment section below.</strong></p>
<p><a href="http://www.jeanoram....EvelynAdams.jpg"><img class="size-medium wp-image-891 alignleft" src="http://www.jeanoram.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/FeelsLikeLoveEvelynAdams-208x300.jpg" alt="Feels Like Love by Evelyn Adams" width="208" height="300" /></a>Want more <a title="Evelyn Adams website" href="http://www.evelynadamseroticromance.com/" target="_blank">Evelyn</a>? Check out the book we chat about in our video interview, <em>Feels Like Love</em>.</p>
<p><a title="Feels Like Love on Amazon US" href="http://www.amazon.co.../dp/B00KWNKJ2O/" target="_blank">Amazon US</a></p>
<p><a title="Feels Like Love on Amazon UK" href="http://www.amazon.co.../dp/B00KWNKJ2O/" target="_blank">Amazon UK</a></p>
<p><a title="Feels Like Love on B&amp;N" href="http://www.barnesand...n=2940149292769" target="_blank">B&amp;N</a></p>
<p><a title="Feels Like Love on Kobo" href="http://store.koboboo...els-like-love-1" target="_blank">Kobo</a></p>
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<p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.jeanoram....r-evelyn-adams/">Interview With Romance Author Evelyn Adams</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.jeanoram.com">Jean Oram</a>.</p>

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Manly-Man on the Grill! (Nicholas Warren)

  Posted by Professor VJ Duke in The Punchy Lands!, 18 September 2014 · 5 views

This is an interview with Manly-Man (Jazzy Couldren) conducted by Nick Warren. Nick Warren happened to be in a daring mood, and so he asked some daring questions. He did survive, amazingly, without any injuries.

***

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 9.15.56 AM

NW [Nick Warren]: So, Mr. Couldren—

MM [Manly-Man (Jazzy Couldren)]: Hey don’t call me that, dude.

NW: I thought you were fine with that name…

MM: I don’t done like it right now.

NW: Alright then. Manly-Man, excuse the question, but why exactly did you tie your wife and daughter up and throw them in the bathtub?

MM: I knew you was gonna ask that. I’s did it cause I was tryin’ to escape with the money.

NW: What money?

MM: Ooh, you’s diggin’ into me. It hurts.

NW: Just answer the question, please.

MM: There was this case of money I was supposed to return to the police from a robber I done caught. Instead I just stole it. My wife and my daughter got in my way, so I’s done had to get rid of them.

NW: Right. Then you got away. It’s been rumored that you then became…an FBI agent? And after that, a CIA agent? Are those rumors true?

MM: Hey yeah.

NW: Could you explain how you managed that?

MM: Well…you know, they done needed someone to do some dirty work. To deal with some Russian gangsters that ain’t no one wanted to deal with. And I’s was disguised so they kinda pretended they didn’t know me… And I got hired. Then I did what done needed done, and they sent me overseas. So, I’s became a CIA agent.

NW: It’s amazing what the government does when it wants dirty-work done… Okay, are there any particularly achievements you have that you’d like to tell us about?

MM: Oh you know, there’s many. But I’s really loved becoming a ninja.

NW *clears throat*: Oh…uh…yes. How did that happen?

MM: It was when I was over in Russia as a CIA agent. My partner, Jimmie, and I, got captured by a then Russian operative called Jaguar. He captured us and trained us to be part of his task force. Russia was done working with China, I’s think.

NW: Right. Let’s talk a little more about this. So you became a ninja, then what?

MM: I’s found out Jaguar was a good guy, ‘cause he was sweet… And then Jimmie and I ran into the Director of the CIA. (I’s actually forget his name…) But he was angry at us ‘cause we had betrayed him… I’s didn’t see it that way. But I done escaped from Jaguar and the director dude and got back to America. Then Jimmie and I hid, until we got into a fight and we split up.

NW: Uh…that’s uh…a very interesting career. So tell me, you’re very much in the open about who you are. How come the government doesn’t come after you?

MM: They’s afraid of my manly power. I’s got a nuclear arsenal. Does you want to see it?

NW: No, that’s okay, actually. I’d rather not. Why don’t you tell us about the success of your movies?

MM: I’s put out all these cool movies—remakes of the Christmas Carol, mostly. I make ‘em really violent. Scrooge and Tiny Tim are murderers in them, actually. And it’s really funny.

NW: Now these were actually successes, am I right?

MM: Oh yes. I’s made tons of money.

NW: Why do you think people enjoy such…brutally violent movies that ruin the old classic?

MM: ‘Cause everybody loves to watch gory things…

NW: Okay. Well, thanks for being here, Manly-Man. That wraps up our interview.




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Thursday Thoughts

  Posted by bigblackcat97 in Writer, Writer Pants on Fire, 18 September 2014 · 6 views

Thoughts lately...<br /><br />1) Cut my finger on a can the other day and realized that getting stabbed is probably just awful.<br /><br />2) When you do the, "My name is AIIEEEEEEEEEE....." reference from Splash and nobody gets it, it's incredibly awkward for everyone.<br /><br />3) I have no idea what it's like to live in a non-writer brain. The other day I was having a normal conversation with an acquaintance who had read an ARC of IN A HANDFUL OF DUST and in the middle of the convo she stops and says, "I'm sorry. I just can't help but wonder what you're actually thinking about right now. I feel like it's probably just awful."<br /><br />Well... <i>sometimes</i> it is, yeah.

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Wednesday Words: We Are People

  Posted by DebsBlueRoses in The Writer Ambitious, 17 September 2014 · 16 views

Hiya!

So, yes, I'm still reading American Gods, but I just read a blog that sparked a thought in me, so I have actual words on this Wednesday.

So, we writers who are privy (or were forced by the times) to social networking do these things called contests to try to nab an agent for our WIPs. They're very innovative and creative contests, and many of the hosts call on mentors or judges to help the writers along.

Key word in that sentence: HELP.

I've been a victim of this, and the writer of the blog post I'd read actually was crushed by this, but there are times when one or two of the judges/mentors *gasp* criticize more than critique what they read.

Key words there: criticize, critique. People forget that there is a difference.

Now 95% of the judges/mentors will be really helpful and give you constructive feedback. Some of it might sting, but you learn from it and make your work better to either try another contest or query an agent/publisher. The other 5% can just be plain out mean. They don't take the time to say, "Hm, this might be just a BIT too harsh. Let me rephrase this."

"Well, if you want to be a writer, you need to grow a thick/tough/adamantium/whatever skin."

That's just lazy and selfish to fall back on. Yes, we have to let some of the critiques roll off our back, but we shouldn't have to bear the brunt of the criticism, especially when it was your job to help a writer who just wants to make it, not beat their self-esteem into a bloody pulp.

Writers aren't robots. We're not androids. Writers are PEOPLE with these things called EMOTIONS and FEELINGS.

Before you put out what you think is a witty or snarky "critique" or even comments you think the writer deserves because you didn't like what they submitted, and they need to know that point blank, remember what it was like when you first started putting your work out there and how crappy you felt when someone was a total douche because they felt they could be.

Okay? Cool.

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Cover Reveal for THE BEACON THRONES

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs in Michelle4Laughs: It's in the Details, 17 September 2014 · 16 views




Title: The Beacon Thrones
Series: Book Two of Dragon Calling
Genre: Fantasy/ adventure
Word Count: 70,000 (approx)
Audience: Upper Middle Grade (ages 9 and up)
Release Date: November 12th, 2014



Laeka'Draeon is the last dragon in Valadae.

The key to finding his missing kin lies in the prophecy obtained through the centaur prophet, Belzor Ven'Ho. To interpret its hidden meanings, Laeka'Draeon and his companions must journey to heart of the Raegelian forest, wherein resides the legendary seer, Lady Megandel.
But the enemies of the old wars have already set their plans in motion, threatening far more than Laeka'Draeon's quest.

A terrible doom grows on Valadae's horizon, and the power to avert it resides in the mysterious Beacon Thrones―a power only a dragon can revive.

Enter to win a PRIZE PACK for those who pre-order a copy of THE BEACON THRONES will go into the running to win the pack (which includes posters, bookmarks and signed paperback copies of the first and second book).



AUTHOR BIO:



Naomi confesses the best word to describe her is: whimsical. Forget "the girl next door" and think more along the lines of "the girl from the next galaxy over" and you'd be closer to the correct personality categorization. She is an unequivocal day-dreamer, anime enthusiast, partisan of fantastical things, and unshakable devotee to story-telling.

In addition to writing, Naomi sings, draws, reads, plays console games, does the occasional concept art commissions, and works with rescued animals. Her love for absorbing fabulous, unforgettable stories is only out-shined by her love for creating her own.

Currently, she lives on the Gold Coast, Australia, along with crazy cats and even crazier family members.


Pre-order at Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/474964 
Pre-Order at Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NG77HHS
Pre-Order at Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00NG77HHS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23149519-the-beacon-thrones
Dragon Calling Website: http://dragoncalling.wordpress.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/dragoncalling


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Carol Kilgore & Secrets of Honor

  Posted by Jemi in Just Jemi, 17 September 2014 · 16 views

Please welcome Carol Kilgore back to the blog today!

***

Thanks so much for hosting me today, Jemi.

I imagine it’s already cooling off from summer up there in Canada. However, down here in Texas, the coast is still hot and sultry with a salty breeze blowing off the Gulf of Mexico.

The setting for my newest book, SECRETS OF HONOR is Corpus Christi, a mid-size city on the South Texas Gulf Coast, The story takes place in mid-May, when summer-ready temps have already been around for a month or so.

Warm Gulf breezes, cool drinks, hot sun, and the excitement of a fast-approaching summer are all around. Are you in the mood yet? Can you feel the salt on your skin? Taste it on your lips?

I hope so, since I thought I’d chat a little bit here about the main team tasked with the backbone of the story. Picture yourself sitting on a shady patio overlooking Corpus Christi Bay and meeting these good folks who live in SECRETS OF HONOR.

Katia Marengo
Kat is a member of a covert team currently based in Corpus Christi. The team is part of a unit attached to the Department of Homeland Security. Kat’s a quick thinker and has seen a lot in her thirty years. For her job, she was taught to steal. She knows how to pick pockets and locks, how to enter and exit places without leaving a visible trace, how to disguise her appearance, and how to spot attempts at disguise in others. Kat was expecting a typical working evening until….

David Krizak
Dave is Kat’s boss’s boss. He oversees and directs a total of three teams. Eight years earlier, he hired Kat straight out of college. He’s walked in her shoes and worked his way up. Over the years, he’s learned not to be surprised by much. But this is the first time he’s worked directly with Kat.

Remy Girouard
Remy is a rowdy Cajun and the Ops Boss of Kat’s team. He’s a communications expert and directs their missions under Dave’s orders. Dave calls him a scoundrel, but Remy knows where the bodies are buried and how to get things done.

Peter Dunne
Sadly, Peter and his appendix are no longer attached. Peter was laid up in the hospital giving the nurses a hard time for the duration of this story. He was certain he was on his deathbed. Bless his heart J

See that big white sailboat out past the pier? The one where the people are waving? That’s Kat, Dave, Remy, and Peter.

Wave back!

 CONTEST INFO

Monday through Friday this week, I’m visiting five different blogs to promote my just-released novel, SECRETS OF HONOR. You can visit my blog, http://www.underthetikihut.blogspot.com, to see where I am each day. On each blog, I’ll give away a $5 Amazon Gift Card.  Everyone who comments on my posts will be entered into a drawing for a $5 Amazon Gift Card for that blog. So there will be five separate contests, and it will be possible to win all five, for a total of $25. Although what are the odds of that? Don’t ask me – math isn’t my BFF!

Winners will be announced next Monday on my blog, and I’ll make an effort to contact the winners over the weekend prior to the announcement.


SECRETS OF HONOR

By the end of a long evening working as a special set of eyes for the presidential security detail, all Kat Marengo wants is to kick off her shoes and stash two not-really-stolen rings in a secure spot. Plus, maybe sleep with Dave Krizak. No, make that definitely sleep with Dave Krizak. The next morning, she wishes her new top priorities were so simple.

As an operative for a covert agency buried in the depths of the Department of Homeland Security, Kat is asked to participate in a matter of life or death—locate a kidnapped girl believed to be held in Corpus Christi, Texas. Since the person doing the asking is the wife of the president and the girl is the daughter of her dearest friend, it’s hard to say no.

Kat and Dave quickly learn the real stakes are higher than they or the first lady believed and will require more than any of them bargained for.

The kicker? They have twenty-four hours to find the girl—or the matter of life or death will become more than a possibility.


AUTHOR BIO
Although Carol has deep Texas roots, she’s lived up and down the eastern seaboard and in other locations across the U.S. as a Coast Guard wife. She sees mystery and subterfuge everywhere. And she’s a sucker for a good love story—especially one with humor and mystery. Crime Fiction with a Kiss gives her the latitude to mix and match throughout the broad mystery and romance genres. Having flexibility makes her heart happy. You can connect with Carol here:
Under the Tiki Hut blog:  http://www.underthetikihut.blogspot.com
Website with Monthly Contest: http://www.carolkilgore.net


***

Thanks Carol! And, yes, our over night temperature has already dropped to almost freezing a few times. So, thanks for the visit to the warm and sultry Corpus Christi! Can't wait to read Kat's story!!


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It was the best of lines, it was the worst of lines: Studying first sentences

Posted by Selene Bell in Confessions of a Binge Reader, 16 September 2014 · 25 views

One of my all-time favorite beginnings to a novel is Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. “Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board,” she wrote. It’s pretty and wistful, and also gives readers a good, strong hint that disappointment looms ahead, because once those ships get closer, real life has to intrude, right? Deciding how to start a novel is huge for writers. A good opening sets the tone for your book, draws readers in and shows off your writing skills. No single sentence in your whole manuscript will be read by as many people as that first sentence will be. Which begs the question, what makes an opening good? Here are some more of my favorites, and why I think they work so well...

It Had to Be You, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips: “Phoebe Somerville outraged everyone by bringing a French poodle and a Hungarian lover to her father’s funeral.” Why’s it good? It shows that the main character is audacious, and it's funny, but it also hints at something more complicated. Who doesn’t take her father’s funeral seriously? I immediately want to know more.


Legend, by Marie Lu: “My mother thinks I’m dead.” Why’s it good? Striking in its simplicity, this idea is fascinating—not only that the mother doesn’t know the truth of things, but that the main character has reason to hide from her. I definitely want to read on.


The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz: “They say it came first from Africa, carried in the screams of the enslaved; that it was the death bane of the Tainos, uttered just as one world perished and another began; that it was a demon drawn into Creation through the nightmare door that was cracked open in the Antilles.” Why’s it good? The writing is lushly beautiful at the same times that it's dark and scary. What is this “it” that lives on screams and comes from nightmares? How could anyone not read on to find out?


Whether browsing at a store or surfing a website, my book-selection process is always the same—and I bet it’s similar to yours. First, seeing which cover design and title catch my eye. Second, judging whether the “back cover” description sounds interesting. And finally, if the book passes those two tests, opening to the first page to check out the writing style. The author doesn’t have long to snag my attention before I move on to the next cool cover. But I have read books where the first sentences definitely did not do much to draw me in. That was because I knew the story had something interesting, or for some other special reason. Some that didn't immediately grab me:

Dracula, by Bram Stoker: “3 May. Bistritz.—Left Munich at 8.35 p.m. on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6.46, but train was an hour late.” In hindsight, I can see the humor: Poor Mr. Harker. If arriving one hour late from a 220-mile trip makes him grit his teeth, he’s going to have problems dealing with the rest of this book. But for people approaching the story fresh, I don’t see how it could be that appealing.


The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini: “I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975.” Taken out of context—as in no front cover and no back-cover description—I have a hard time getting into first sentences like this. The weather description isn’t as spell-binding as the rest of the novel is, and that takes away from the significance of the character's transformation, in my opinion. Many readers will like it, though, and come away wondering what he became that gray day. This shows how widely judgment can vary and how you can never please every reader with one sentence. So please yourself first.


The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera: “The idea of eternal return is a mysterious one, and Nietzsche has often perplexed other philosophers with it: to think that everything recurs as we once experienced it, and that the recurrence itself recurs ad infinitum!” Umm, yeah. That's kind of heavy, and if I was looking for an entertaining read, I might pass depending on my mood (and how much sleep I’d had). It seems to be written for philosophers more than your average reader, but it does have an interesting theory when you start thinking about it. I go back and forth—good, bad, interesting, too heavy. Luckily, that sentence was not my deciding factor in whether to read Unbrearable Lightness. My friend recommended it, and the cool title did help draw me in. And the book was fascinating, if somewhat depressing—a read that leaves you questioning what life means, and so an appropriate first line. But it does bring up some advice: Consider who your audience will be.


There’s lots of advice experts give on how to start your story, but pretty much like all other writing “rules,” if you write well you can do whatever you want. (If there’s a theme to this post, it’s that.) For example, I’d say a really good first line will show readers what kind of story to expect—except when it doesn’t. Many of my favorite stories have started on an understated note that's quieter than the rest. For example:

Lord of the Flies, by William Golding: The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way toward the lagoon.


The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood: We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.


Divergent, by Veronica Roth: There is one mirror in my house.


The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins: When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.


The Road, by Cormac McCarthy: When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.


Writers commonly employ these quieter starts on high-octane stories, especially dystopians, to give readers a chance to get to know the character before the madness begins, or before the inciting event. A couple of these examples also disprove another commonly tossed-out “rule”—that starts where characters are waking up are overdone and best avoided. (Some say that about starting on the first day of school, too.) But I would argue that anything done well is worth doing. In other words, can you make it special? Be honest with yourself. If your answer is “No, not special enough,” try something else.

It emphasizes what’s most important—and this is a rule that can’t be ignored. Start strong, but make every line better than the previous. That means your story has to get more interesting, more spell-binding and better written on every page. That’s how to draw in readers, and keep them coming back for your work.

I think the most delicious openings have a twist that shows you the story will be something special. This style is one of my favorites—that kind of sentence where you can’t not read on...

One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.


Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer: I’d never given much thought to how I would die—though I’d had reason enough in the last few months—but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.


World After, by Susan Ee: Ironically, since the attacks, the sunsets have been glorious.


The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black: Tana woke lying in a bathtub.


This is probably the most famous opening of all time:

A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.


And that’s interesting because it’s such an incredibly long sentence. I suspect it would get chopped up if it were coming through the publishing pipeline for today’s readers. And yet, it’s so famous and the book has been so ridiculously successful regardless of what kind of story was popular with readers of the day.

To read more on this topic, check out writer Amy Trueblood’s blog Chasing the Crazies. She regularly interviews literary agents about what’s important to them in the first five pages of any manuscript.

Her blog is an excellent tool to check when you’re considering which agents to query. I prefer agents who recognize that anything can be done well—those who don’t rule out working with, say, “waking up” openings (hello, The Hunger Games) or vampire stories (The Coldest Girl in Coldtown), even if my manuscript doesn’t deal with such elements. That’s because an agent signs you for your whole career, and who knows what you'll get interested in next.

www.selene-bell.com

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MONDAY MUSINGS: BLOCK OUT THE TOXIC

  Posted by Amy Trueblood in Chasing The Crazies , 15 September 2014 · 13 views

      It may be cliché, but it’s true that we are our own worst enemies as writers. We question every word choice. Every sentence and piece of dialogue we craft. It is the nature of what we do, and self-doubt, unfortunately, is a huge part of the process.   So knowing all this, […]

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I'm Back to Work!

  Posted by SC_Author in SC Write--Writing, Publishing, and Harry Potter, 15 September 2014 · 24 views

For a while now, I've been doing basically nothing writing-related. Yeah, nothing. No revising, no submitting, no drafting, no nothing. Granted, life has been rather busy lately but I know I can find time to work on writing - I always do.

So now, I've got to get back to work. I don't like this long break of no writing.

This is different than the break that comes after you write your first draft. That break (even though I fought it so hard) is necessary for a fresh go at the second draft. It's hard to force yourself away from your manuscript during that break. That break is a natural pause in the writing process.

But the break I was on wasn't. It wasn't even that I was sick of writing and needed to breathe. That'd justify my break. But no. I just...didn't work on writing. I got lazy? I don't even know.

But yesterday, I finally thought, "What the heck am I doing?" and started some writing-related stuff. I I was in the shower and thinking, "What am I waiting for? A critique or beta feedback? No, I already got it. More revising? No, I did it. What's there to wait for now?" and I realized that my publication goal would have literally no chance of coming true if I didn't, well, try. So I started again! My break is over and it feels good.

Have you ever gone on one of these unintended breaks? How did you get over it?

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Writing Success Goal Sunday #2

  Posted by Lora Palmer in Lora Palmer's Blog, 14 September 2014 · 19 views

Photo courtesy of Pippalou at Morguefile.


Setting writing goals and keeping track of progress can be a great way to achieve success. They'll also serve as a reminder to enjoy and celebrate the smaller, short-term accomplishments along the journey. Each week, I'll post my writing goals and invite you all to post yours and update us on your progress. I've seen something like this on another blog where it's a summer feature, and it seems like a great way to encourage each other as a regular feature here.

This week, here are my writing goals;

1. Finish reading KNIGHT OF LIGHT and write my review. I'll post it here and on Goodreads.

2. Write at least 200 words a day on my WIP, BENEATH THE RED SKY. Next up, my mc Kassi will be having dinner with her parents, her new friends Jacqueline and Noah, and she just may find out why the heck those two had a huge falling out in their past. After that, Kassi's first excavation training turns out to be much more of a challenge than she hoped, and she'll discover she's got obstacles to overcome if she's going to secure a spot for herself on the team.

3. Fight the urge to obsessively check my inbox! It's so hard to distract myself when I'm querying (I'd forgotten how difficult the wait can be), but hopefully if I can focus on writing, it'll help :). 


That's it for me. Next week I'll let you all know how it went! What are your writing goals for the week? 



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All aboard the Query Train!

  Posted by mlebleek in Bleeker Street, 13 September 2014 · 37 views

So, I made a writer friend today. Yes. In real life. She’s a published author that hasn’t needed an agent yet in her career but is considering heading out into the query world in order to sign with one and I couldn’t be more excited. I. Love. Queries…Especially when they are not my own.

Maybe I should insert a quick definition of a query here for those that may not be familiar:

“A query letter is a single page cover letter, introducing you and your book. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s not a resume. It’s not rambling saga of your life as an aspiring writer. It’s not a friendly, “Hey, what’s up, buddy. I’m the next John Grisham. Got the next best selling thriller for ya,” kind of letter. And for the love of god, it is NOT more than one-page. Trust us on this.”

This quote comes from AgentQuery.com. If you click on that link you can read the whole article about query letters.

Anyway, back to my new writer friend. After a short chat I knew right away that I wanted to give her all the resources I used in my query journey to eventually sign with  my awesome agent, Marlene Stringer of StringerLit. When I got home I began wildly typing in all the sites I’d used countless times while querying and ended up with so many open tabs. I didn’t know my browser could HAVE that many tabs open.Then I realized…..

It was time for a new blog post!!

Disclaimer- in no way do I claim that this is and exhaustive list of helpful query sites, they are just the ones I have a lot of positive personal experience with. 

Query Shark- I love this site. It was one of my first forays into what a query even is and give sooooo much helpful information. The blog is written by literary agent Janet Reid. She posts queries (with permission from the writers that submitted them) and gives thoughts and advice to help improve them. She follows them through revisions and helps polish that query till it’s shiny and perfect. Her instruction is AMAZING.

My best advice is to start here if you are preparing to query. When I say start, I mean literally start at the beginning. Take the time to read ALL of the archives. Not only are they informative but also entertaining. If you think “but my book is different- I can’t fit into this query format” I promise you’ll find a query with your same issues in the “chum bucket.”

AgentQuery Connect-  So you’ve read through QueryShark and have a pretty new query you want to get feedback on? AgentQuery Connect is THE place. Okay, not the only place but there are some really helpful and experienced people on this site (including ME, haha). There are TONS of resources on this site so take your time to look through them all and if you feel extra adventurous, post your query for feedback.

Just be aware that you will get LOTS of opinions and it will be up to you to decided what to do with them. Sometimes it is hard to get feedback on your first post but don’t freak out. Just get involved in helping out other AQC’ers and you’ll get it back in spades.

PS- this is also a wonderful site to find beta-readers and critique partners that are serious about giving feedback but clear some time to return the favor!

QueryTracker- Once you are ready to hop onto that roller coaster ride called the “query train” then head on over to QueryTracker. You’ll want to set aside a good chunk of time to really figure out this website. It’s *that* important. Here you can search through agents that have interest in your genre. I advise reading the websites for EVERY SINGLE AGENT you are interested in. What every agent wants submitted with your query is different. Doing your research now can really really pay off. Their websites are usually linked in the Overview page.

There are also “Quick Links” on the Overview page for each agent. These link up to sites like Publishers Weekly, Predators and Editors etc that give you independent information about the agent. It’s also helpful to read the “comments” section for the agents you are interested in to see how long of a wait you are in for, how often and what type of rejection you can expect (if it comes to that).

If you find an agent you are interested in then add him/her to your “query list.” This helpful list lets you keep track of the agents you want to query and that you have queried. It’s also a great place to record responses from agents and gives you a lovely (and sometimes depressing) pie chart to show you how successful your query is. I lived and died by this website. Without it I would’ve been flying blind and probably done that super embarrassing thing of double querying the same agent.

Twitter #mswl & #tenqueries- If you are not on twitter yet, this is a good time to get an account. There’s so much good stuff for writers going on over there. Besides awesome pitch contests (which I’ll cover later) there are several awesome agents super active on there.

First is #tenqueries. #tenqueries is a hashtag used by agents as they go through their slush pile for the day (week..or whatever). In a tweet they give feedback on the queries that cross their desk and say if they requested or rejected the query. It is all done anonymously and is so very helpful even if you aren’t querying these particular agents.

Another helpful hashtag is #mswl which stands for “manuscript wish list.” This hash tag is used by agents to share what they are dying to see in their mailboxes. Wouldn’t it be awesome if one of their “must haves” resembles your MS? There are a few websites that keep record of these wish lists but I’m just going to link one: http://mswishlist.com

Contests: There are many many query contests out there. Some are very very involved, others are simple twitter pitch contests held periodically like #pitmad (which we just passed) or #pitchmas in December or #pitchmadness in March. There are many many more out there. For these contests you need a 140 character twitter pitch for your book which would include space for the contest hashtag and your genre. I had lots of luck with these contests and know several writers that found their agent from them. Even if you don’t participate, it’s always helpful to read the tweets and think about what the “pitch” for your book would be.

There are plenty of contests NOT on twitter including contest sponsored by bloggers and other authors. I can’t even come close to listing them all but as Halloween is on the horizon I thought I’d share the next one I’ve heard about: Nightmare on Query Street . Here is a contest schedule for 2014-2015 from Brenda Drake’s website. Some people LOVE these contests and have found dream agents as a result. I’ve only participated in one but found that for me I preferred the traditional method of querying.

Well- that’s it. I know there are many many more resources out there for querying but in my particular journey to publication, these were the sites I found invaluable. If you have other favorites, please link them in the comments section! Good luck with your query process and if you’d like to chat further, don’t hesitate to contact me via email. Now go! You have a lot of reading to do!!

You KNOW you want on this Query Train




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Research Ramblings: The Spartan Citizenry, Part 20

  Posted by Sakura Eries in Sakura Eries' Blog: Keeping It In Canon …mostly, 12 September 2014 · 44 views

As noted in my May 2, 2014 post, Spartan warriors were an interesting bunch, and I’m continuing my series on them with today’s fact:

Spartan warriors were famed for dancing.

This might sound kind of odd because we don’t associate ballet with camouflage and semiautomatics, but in those days, fighting involved coordination that was often signaled by drums and pipes. Because dance is physical movement choreographed to sound, it became for the Spartans yet another means of military training.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartans!




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A Week of Firsts

  Posted by Joe Stephens in My Train of Thought, 12 September 2014 · 39 views

You may not be able to tell it from where you are, but I'm typing this on Friday instead of my normal rollout time of Saturday morning. I'll be busy doing something important with some friends tomorrow--and by important, I mean superhero related. But that's another post. For this week, the topic is firsts.

I've been teaching in the same school for about 18 years now, so I thought I'd pretty much run out of new things that could happen to me. This week proved me wrong. I've had three new things happen to me just in the last two days. I have to think that's a record.

The first came Thursday morning and it involved the police. No, I wasn't arrested. Sorry. That probably would've made a more entertaining story. But anyway, I was driving to work and I was in a bit of a hurry because I needed to get to school early to get into the horseshoe before they closed it off for our annual 9/11 ceremony. As I was crossing the Fifth Street Bridge (anyone who is familiar with Parkersburg at all knows this bridge--it's the main artery from Southside to downtown) when I passed a woman lying on the sidewalk. She was sprawled out and didn't appear to be moving, though I couldn't tell in the short time I could see her. I pulled into the Tim Horton's lot at the foot of the bridge and called 911. By the time I got out of the lot and was ready to drive back to check on her, the police were already on their way onto the bridge, so I proceeded to work, albeit later than I planned. I found out later from our Prevention Resource Officer that she had indeed been having some sort of medical emergency and was transported to the hospital.

The second thing was much more positive, though it came out of a negative thing. I got an email from a student apologizing for the bad behavior of another student, despite the fact that she had nothing to do with it. She said she just felt so badly for what the other student had done that she had wanted to give me a hug.  I literally can't think of another time that one student apologized for the behavior of another student. It brightened what had been a dark afternoon.

A reenactment of me after chasing skippers
And finally, I did something today that you hear about in stories and see in teen movies, but I never thought I'd actually do--I chased students who were attempting to skip school. Literally ran after them. Of course, they're young and had a tremendous head start, so the only one I caught was the girl who decided against running and came back. But I gave it my all! Who knew teaching was a cardiovascular workout? Well, I guess phys ed teachers did. But the only time your heart should race as an English teacher is when you're reading a particularly moving poem.

Being a writer, I can't help but think that these events are going to end up in a book someday. People ask where my ideas come from and I have to wonder how boring their lives are that they aren't surrounded by them.

So, to end, a quotation from the great philosopher Rosanne Rosannadanna, "It just goes to show you it's always something."

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The iPhone(s) 6 and more: EW live-blogs Apple's big event

Posted by Monicoo in Monicoo's Blog, 10 September 2014 · 41 views

The iPhone(s) 6 and more: EW live-blogs Apple's big event Have you heard? Apple is going to release a new iPhone today. There are some rumors. Today, they will be rumors no longer.
There’s always a lot of hype around an Apple event, and while some of it may seem frivolous and excessive, it’s not all for the tech-obsessed. Thanks to the manufacturer’s immense popularity, the people behind a lot of the pop culture you know and love often follow Apple’s lead when it comes to bringing media your way. So if you want a peek at all the new ways you’ll be able to obsess over pop culture in the coming year, look no further.

If you want to watch the event live, Apple is streaming it on their homepage here—it may be restricted to Safari browsers on OS X and/or iOS devices, however. If you have Apple TV, you can watch it there too, as there will be a dedicated channel for you to tune into.
GET MORE EW: Subscribe to the magazine for only 33¢ an issue!
This post will be updated throughout the event. Refresh for the lastest.
AND WE’RE OFF: Tim Cook is talking about the iPhone’s history.
“Today we’re announcing the biggest advancement in the history of iPhone”
Video showing off the phone. Looks much like leaked images: sleak, nigh seamless body.
And the phones are bigger! iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. 4.7 and 5.5 inches, respectively. The rumors are true!
With the bigger display, comes a revamped horizontal display. More keys on the keyboard, two columns in iMessage and email, etc.
Apps will scale—older apps for smaller screens will automatically resize for the larger displays.
Of course, both come with new hardware: the faster A8 processor (The 5S has a processor called the A7).
There’s a gaming presentation now, a game called Vain Glory.
Now we’re talking battery life: both iPhone 6 models have have equal or better battery life than the iPhone 5S.
There are new motion coprocessors, which will give the phones better performance for fitness apps—measuring distance, motion, and even altitude. Good for health apps.
It looks like size and battery life may be the main differences between the two iPhone 6 models.
Everything is promised to be faster, clearer. You’ll be able to make calls over WiFi, and the connection will seamlessly carry over from WiFi to Cellular if you lose connection.
Now the camera: 8 Megapixels, all-new sensor, Focus Pixels tech brings DSLR-level autofocus to iPhones, improved face detection.
One feature is different between the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus: the larger has optical image stabilization, which allows the lens to move around and help stabilize your image even more than usual.
Video camera is also being updated: it now can capture HD video at 60 fps, double the previous frame rate.
iPhone 6 will come with iOS 8, with a new keyboard, a one handed controller, HealthKit suite and more.
Colors will be gold, silver, and space grey.
COST: starts at $199—$399. 16GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB for the iPhone 6.
6 Plus starts at $299, same storage space options.
AVAILABLE: September 19.
There is a weird ad for the phones being shown. It’s very weird. But there’s lots of applause. It’s by Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon, but you can’t see their faces, so you’d have to be told that.
iPhone news is a wrap. Tim Cook is now talking about replacing the wallet. “Payments is a huge business.”
Cook is talking about how low tech debit cards are, how no one has replaced it yet.
“We’ve created an entirely new payment process, and we call it ApplePay.”
Brief demo video shows user touching their TouchID button and holding the phone up to the swipe-free scanners on registers.
It’s built into every iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, uses NFC chip and new Secure Element chip for security. You can add cards you have linked to iTunes account. Adding a new card is simple: you take a picture, and Apple verifies with your bank. The card is then added to Passbook. Levels of security: uses device-specific account numbers, one-time use security codes, etc.
Apple does not track what you bought, where you bought it, and how much you spent. Cashier doesn’t see your name, credit card number, security code.
ApplePay is supported by AmEx, MasterCard, and Visa, and six biggest banks in US. Major department stores, drug stores, and restaurants are already on board. McDonald’s is even adding ApplePay to its drive through. Whole Foods gets applause, so there’s that.
Here it is: the One More Thing. iWatch?
It’s official: The device is called Apple Watch. Cook talks about how Apple Watch focuses on an entirely new user interface, one focused on the old-school dial you have on regular watches.
There’s a video showing off the design and features of the Apple Watch–the screen can sense touch and force, telling the difference between a touch and a tap. Apple Watch will also give force feedback. Apple Watch will also have wireless charging.
Apple Watch comes in two sizes.
There are three distinct collections, Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition. Standard, athletic, and luxury, respectively.
iPhones are required to use Apple Watch.
Instead of a grid, apps are arranged in a cluster—you arrange them how you like. You can customize the watch face as well.
The watch’s notifications won’t buzz, but ‘tap’ you gently on the wrist—no one will know but you, unless of course the sound is on.
Quick Board is a feature that analyzes your messages and suggests quick responses without having to type. Also has dictation, and a new collection of emoji.
Siri is built into Apple Watch.
There’s a new messaging system—you can tap friends and trace small pictures to other friends that have Apple Watch.
You can also….feel their heartbeats?
A number of new apps are being shown off: American Airlines, Pinterest, BMW, MLB, and more.
Tim Cook is back, talking about health and fitness.
Workout app lets you set specific goals for specific types of exercises. Aim is to give you a comprehensive view of your daily activity, along with two other apps: Fitness and Activity.
There’s a video explaining how Apple Watch will “get to know you the way a good personal trainer will.” Lots of Active People Living Life and exercising whilst wearing Apple Watch.
Apple Watch is “so much more that we don’t have time to cover this morning,” says Cook.
Pricing is coming:
Apple Watch will work with all iPhones from iPhone 5 onward. Remember, it needs an iPhone to work. To charge simply attach a magnet to back.
Apple Watch starts at $349, available early 2015.
ApplePay will work with Apple Watch.
Cook mentions the iTunes festival, and Apple’s relationship with music industry and artists in it. Mentions collaboration with U2. Applause. They’re performing.
Bono is on the mic now, announces new album “Songs of Innocence.” It’s out now on iTunes. For free. Exclusive to iTunes through mid-October.
AND THAT’S A WRAP: iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, ApplePay, and Apple Watch, with a dash of free new album from U2. Thanks for following along. By YLTZ2013

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BWF in summary

  Posted by Mia K Rose in Mia K Rose | Forsaken Illusion, 08 September 2014 · 26 views

So over Friday, Saturday and Sunday just past I attended the Brisbane Writer’s Festival. I attended a great deal of Author Masterclasses and panels which were fantastic  and I got a great deal of many notes, and also made some great writer buddies now on twitter. Also, I now have like super writer motivation, which […]

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An Awesome Autumn Afternoon

  Posted by Deb Borys in Debra R. Borys, 06 September 2014 · 38 views

Yesterday’s In Print Word of Art reception was a great kick off for an awesome autumn.  And I’m  not just saying that because my piece, An Autumn Afternoon, was one of five finalists selected by writer/publisher John Gile from the … Continue reading

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Death

Posted by Marzie Malfoy in Slytherin House Poetry Reading, 05 September 2014 · 30 views
Death, slytherin, anxiety attack and 3 more...

My heart about to explode.
Breathing slowing.
Faint vision of darkness.
Extremities burn and tingle
From the loss of blood flow.

That is death coming.
This is what happens when the bell tolls.

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Feeling A Little Of Both This IWSG Wednesday

  Posted by K McClelland in Teardrops On My Book, 03 September 2014 · 38 views

(I set this as a scheduled post so I'd actually have it up first thing, but Idk what happened because it didn't post...Oh well, it's here now.)


It’s another Insecure Writer’s Support Group Wednesday. I’ve managed to accomplish a whole bunch of nothing this past month in regards to writerly things. I’m not even sure if I’m secure or insecure either…


I’ve been dreaming of my various characters. I’ve made up whole scenes and chapters during drives to and from places. I’ve even sat at my computer pumped to do some critting/writing/editing/other related writerly things and then passed out because I’ve been so exhausted. But, nothing much has actually come of it.


I do have moments during the day that I worry I’m ruining everything for myself and then I have moments that I explain to myself how busy I am and that things will smooth out and start working just fine really soon. But then I go back to doubting anything will ever go back to being right and wondering if I’m really a writer. Of course, if I wasn’t a writer I don’t think I’d have the tons of ideas, dreams, and desires related to the writerly world.


So, I’ll go with a little insecure, a little secure, and a whole bunch of I’m determined to have something more to say next month.


Make sure you hop over to the wonderful Alex J Cavanaugh. Check out this month’s hosts too- Laura (My Baffling Brain), Mark Koopmans, Shah Wharton, and Sheena-Kay GrahamAnd don’t forget about the IWSG Website.


Until next time, have a wonderful day/week/month and I’ll see you soon. J


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