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Wednesday Words: Back to Gaiman!

  Posted by DebsBlueRoses in The Writer Ambitious, 27 August 2014 · 4 views

Happy Humpday. :)

On Wednesdays, I use Random.org to pick out a page and a line of the book I'm currently reading/about to read so you can all see what I'm reading!

Yesterday, I finally returned to the library to pick up some books to read. lol I decided to go with Neil Gaiman's American Gods, the precursor to his Anansi Boys, which was my first Gaiman read about a year back. I'm excited to see how this book is, because I loved Anansi Boys.

There are 541 pages (ooh, an interview in the back) in American Gods, so Random, do your thing!

....................................Page 345.

There are 32 lines on that page, so from 1 to 32 I present to you...

....................................Line 14.

"Now, my mom's family were European Jewish," continued Sam, "from one of those places that used to be communist and now are just chaos..."

A very interesting line (my sister was explaining Communism vs. Socialism to me just the other day!). I can't wait to read this and more books by Mr. Gaiman.

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Possibilities & Figure-ings

  Posted by Professor VJ Duke in The Punchy Lands!, 27 August 2014 · 5 views

What does one do when faced with two possibilities equally as dreadful as the other?

The professor thought about it for a bit.

Never think unless you want to lose time. You see, thinking and time are deep enemies. So deep one can’t find the bottom.

Mr. Magi had left, and LottieOllie and Amelia were coming this way.

The professor’s way.

Options were dwindling, but being an adventurous professor, I decided to stay put and see what happened. After all, they might just walk by.

I bent down and pretended to look at a frog.

(It’s better to do that sort of thing. You see, when someone is coming along that you really want to talk to, but you don’t want that person to know that you really want to talk to them, it’s best to pretend to be busy with something very dreadful and boring. Not that frogs are boring.)

The professor must admit, I was curious to see what they were doing together.

The moment was come.

“Professor.” A voice from behind.

I spun quicker than a merry-go-round.

It was Mr. Magi. He’d never left.

“Are you coming?” he asked. “We must figure out what’s going on. Come.”

But it was kinda too late.

“Professor.” It was LottieOllie this time.

Mr. Magi’s eyes widened and he came over to where this professor was standing.

“Well, Lottie,” he said. “Have you turned from your dastardly ways?”

And this professor looked severely at Amelia. You see, I was trying to pose the same question to her with my eyes.

I don’t think it worked. Rats.

Lottie smiled. “And have you, Mr. Magi, decided to quit going about the Land on a foolish mission that will never end?”

“Young lady!” Mr. Magi scolded. He wasn’t angry. Not at all.

“Now that it’s been brought up,” I began, “what are you two doing together exactly?”

“We just met,” Amelia said.

“Rats and a heifer.”

Mr. Magi blinked twice–nay, thrice. “I don’t see any.”

And that’s when Schwarz Tauptinker came over. “Come on! The duel is going to start. And I want you to see me win–oh yeah!”

***

Friend the professor on Facebook, here.

Join the professor on Twitter, here.

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Query Questions with Michelle Richter

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs in Michelle4Laughs: It's in the Details, 27 August 2014 · 10 views

Writers have copious amounts of imagination. It's what makes their stories so fantastic. But there's a darker side to so much out of the box thinking. When a writer is in the query trenches, their worries go into overdrive. They start pulling out their hair and imagine every possible disaster.

 



Here to relieve some of that endless worrying is a new series of posts called Query Questions. I'll ask the questions which prey on every writer's mind, and hopefully take some of the pain out of querying. These are questions that I've seen tossed around on twitter and writing sites like Agent Query Connect. They are the type of questions that you need answers for the real expert--agents!

If you have your own specific query question, please leave it in the comments and it might show up in future editions of Query Questions as I plan to rotate the questions.


I'm glad to have a fresh Query Questions interview for you. Today we hear from Michelle Richter of Forword Literary.

Is there a better or worse time of year to query?
I don't think it matters, because I'll read them when I can, which may be weeks later.
 
Does one typo or misplaced comma shoot down the entire query?
No, but a slew of them does. Or can be the last straw if things aren't looking good.
 
Do you look at sample pages without fail or only if the query is strong?
Only if the query is strong and intrigues me.
 
Do you have an assistant or intern go through your queries first or do you check all of them?
 It's all me :)

If the manuscript has a prologue, do you want it included with the sample pages?
I kind of hate prologues, and I only ask for the first 20 pages, so I think writers should think about what best serves their work. But epigraphs should NOT be included.
 
Some agencies mention querying only one agent at a time and some say query only one agent period. How often do you pass a query along to a fellow agent who might be more interested?
We only want one agent queried at a time for a work, but if it's good but not a good fit, sometimes we'll email each other and ask "for you?" 

Do you prefer a little personalized chit-chat in a query letter, or would you rather hear about the manuscript?
If the chit-chat shows someone is responding to an interview I did or meeting at a conference, by all means, include it. Anything to make you stand out. But don't spend too much time on it. I want to hear what the book's about!
 
Most agents have said they don’t care whether the word count/genre sentence comes first or last. But is it a red flag if one component is not included?
I care more about genre than word count. Because some genres are just wrong for me. If I can't figure out the genre from the description and it's not specified, it's a red flag.
 
Writers hear a lot about limiting the number of named characters in a query. Do you feel keeping named characters to a certain number makes for a clearer query?
 I think if you have more than half a dozen, it may be overwhelming.

Should writers sweat the title of their book (and character names) or is that something that is often changed by publishers?
They're often changed by publishers. But a title can make me look at a query out of order. Sometimes because it's great. Or sometimes because it's awful or clues me in that it's a particular genre. 

How many queries do you receive in a week? How many requests might you make out of those?
My first week as an agent, it was about a hundred, but now it's between thirty and fifty. My request rate is around 5% right now.

 
Many agents say they don't care if writers are active online. Could a twitter account or blog presence by a writer tip the scales in getting a request or offer? And do you require writers you sign to start one?
I think it's more important for nonfiction than fiction, but it's not usually going to sway me to make an offer or request.
 
Some writers have asked about including links to their blogs or manuscript-related artwork. I’m sure it’s not appropriate to add those links in a query, but are links in an email signature offensive?
 Frankly, I don't even pay attention to them most of the time.

If a writer makes changes to their manuscript due to feedback should they resend the query or only if material was requested?
Only if requested. 

What bio should an author with no publishing credits include?
If a non-writing career informs their work, or they have a lot of contacts/went to Iowa/are a journalist or ad copywriter, tell me. I probably don't need to know about family or residence or schooling.
 
What does ‘just not right for me’ mean to you?
I could tell you, but I'd have to kill you ;) 

What themes are you sick of seeing?
WWII, political/spy thrillers, sex trafficking or abuse, suddenly single ladies of a certain age reinventing their lives

Do you consider yourself a hands-on, editorial type of agent?
 Absolutely!

What’s the strangest/funniest thing you’ve seen in a query?
The greeting "Come on, let's date!"
 
What three things are at the top of your submission wish list?
1. A novel with friendship at its core, as I've seen from Ann Packer/Richard Russo/Ann Patchett/John Irving
2. A twisty stand-alone thriller with a great cop, bonus if female. Multiple perspectives are also a plus.
3. A thriller with strong sense of the killer's POV

 
What are some of your favorite movies or books to give us an idea of your tastes? 
My favorite movies tend to be musicals (The Sound of Music, Once, Begin Again), but TV shows may give you a better sense: Elementary, The Wire, Luther, The Killing, The Bridge, Dexter, The Mentalist, Scandal. I love Tana French, Laura Lippman, Tom Perrotta, Richard Russo, RUSSIAN WINTER, THE NIGHT CIRCUS, GONE GIRL, READY PLAYER ONE, MR. PENUMBRA'S 24 HOUR BOOKSTORE.




--------------------------------------------------

Michelle Richter has a degree in Economics with a minor in Russian from the University of Massachusetts at Boston and left a career in finance and banking for publishing. She joined St. Martin’s Press’ editorial department in 2006 after obtaining a Masters in Publishing from Pace University. While at St. Martin’s, Michelle edited MELISSA EXPLAINS IT ALL by Melissa Joan Hart, among others, and worked on a variety of fiction and nonfiction.
Michelle is primarily seeking fiction, specifically book club reads, literary fiction, and well-crafted women’s commercial fiction, thrillers and mysteries (amateur sleuth, police procedurals and smart cozies). Her favorite authors include Laura Lippman, Harlan Coben, Richard Russo, Tom Perrotta, Chelsea Cain, and Gillian Flynn. For nonfiction, she’s interested in fashion, film, television, science, medicine, sociology/social trends, and economics for trade audiences. She has a soft spot for fiction and nonfiction in and about Boston/Massachusetts, Ireland, and Russia.  

You can follow Michelle on Twitter at @michrichter1.

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Writer’s Block: Is it all Just Crap?

  Posted by From The Write Angle in From The Write Angle Blog, 26 August 2014 · 18 views

by +Denise Drespling


I might be unique in the world of writers. I do not believe in the existence of writer’s block. Oh, I know the days when you don’t want to write, or feel like you can’t, or the idea just isn’t right, or you’re so frustrated with your novel that your finger itches toward the delete button. But there’s one solution to the myth of writer’s block: write.

Write anything. It can be bad. It can be horrible. It can be completely irrelevant to what you should be working on, but you know what? If you’re writing something--an.y.thing--you’re not blocked. Don’t give in to the myth. Don’t let your fear tangle you up. Take your blank page and stuff it (full of words).

On an ironic side note, the day after I wrote this post, guess what I found in my inbox? Two emails from two separate writing blogs, both about writer’s block. Okay, universe, what are you trying to tell me? At first, I actually considered changing my post. I thought, maybe I’ve just been lucky and haven’t suffered from writer’s block. Maybe I’m not being sensitive enough to the dilemmas of my wordly cohorts. Then I read the posts.

Nope. Not a believer.

The thing is, they talked about issues like not having ideas, not being inspired, not having the energy, even having too many ideas to focus (I might suffer from that occasionally). They talked about great solutions: get exercise, use writing prompts, unplug, free write. I’m sure they all work well.

But here’s the thing. That’s not the same as not being able to write. That’s not being able to write well. So, let’s call it what it is. Not writer’s block. It’s writer’s sludge. It’s when all that comes to your mind is crap and all that comes out is crap. Hot, stinky, crap. Like a pile in the corner that the kitten just left. Oh, wait. No, that’s my living room. (Anyone want a kitten?)

Writer’s block, as most people refer to it, is just an excuse. Trust me. I’ve used it. It sounds much more important and sympathy-inspiring than to just admit, I don’t feel like it. If you’re having issues writing, you’re not blocked, you’re sludgy, and you don’t have to be.

Being in an MFA program is a different type of deadline than a publisher or employer breathing down your neck to get it done. It’s the difference between being paid for your writing and knowing that you’re paying for it. I’ve been in the place where I had an assignment of 15 pages due and the last thing I wanted to do was to jump into that world with those characters. But, I had to write, so I wrote something I hated. It was awful. All 15 pages will likely be trashed. I could have claimed I was blocked, but in reality, I was being lazy and bored.

The point is. Those crappy pages led me somewhere. They led me where I knew I didn’t want to go, but they also pointed me in a better direction. Even if you have a deadline where you can’t turn in crap, you can still write the crap first, then make it shine later.

Nora Roberts said, “You can fix anything but a blank page.”

Yup.

Write something, then visit the land of what ifs (which is, btw, also the name of my blog because that's where I spend my time):

Suppose there’s a man crossing the street. What if he trips? What if he bumps into a woman who is/turns out to be the love of his life? Or his ex who broke his heart? What if he found something on the ground? What if he realized he was on the wrong street? What if he got hit by a car?

See. That took me two seconds, but gave me infinite directions to take a story in. Depending on how far you are in your story, you won’t have quite as many options, but there are always options. Go play with them. Before you know it, you’ll have something worth keeping. And if it’s not worth keeping, you’ll know that, too.

Your thoughts? Do you see this, or am I just full of crap? ;)

Denise Drespling is the author of short story, “Reflections,” in the Tales of Mystery, Suspense & Terror anthology (October 2014) and “10 Items or Less,” in 10: Carlow’s MFA Anniversary Anthology (April 2014).

Hang out with Denise at her blog, The Land of What Ifs, or on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, or Instagram.



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Kevin Love introduced by Cavaliers

Posted by Monicoo in Monicoo's Blog, 26 August 2014 · 13 views

Kevin Love introduced by Cavaliers When Kevin Love's phone rang shortly after he learned LeBron James was signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers, his own future became clear.

Love made it known to the Minnesota Timberwolves after his conversation with James last month that Cleveland was where he wanted to be traded. That allowed the Cavs to make a strong trade offer that included Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a 2015 first-round pick, and soon a deal was struck.

"LeBron signed to come back, and a few hours later he called me and I said 'I'm in,'" Love said Tuesday at a news conference. "That had a lot to do with my decision. It means a lot to be a part of this organization. ... Everything in my entire life for the last six years had led me up to this opportunity."

Love expressed to the Wolves in June that he wanted to be traded or he would leave as a free agent next summer. That eventually forced the Wolves to make the deal with the Cavs that was finalized last week.

But Love said Tuesday he currently has no plans to sign an extension with the Cavs. Love signed a four-year, $61 million extension in 2012, but the 2016-17 season, worth $16.7 million, is a player option. Love is also not planning to pick up that option and will play out the final year of his contract with the Cavs.

Love did say he plans to be with the team long term.

"[An extension] hasn't been talked about," Love said. "I'm committed to this team and committed long term to the end goal, which is to win a championship."

It is a risk the Cavs were willing to take. They had been after Love aggressively for months and made it a major priority after James urged them to sweeten trade offers after he signed last month.

"This is culmination of a year and a half of conversations to trade for [Love]," Cavs general manager David Griffin said. "This is a player that, quite frankly, fits us as well as any player could have. LeBron makes a great deal of these things possible by his presence alone. That piece had a great deal to do with Kevin's comfort with joining us. Hopefully we'll [have] him for a very long time."

Love will wear No. 0 for the Cavs. His No. 42, which he wore with the Wolves and at UCLA, is Nate Thurmond's and retired in Cleveland. Love said he reached out to Thurmond, who cleared him to wear the number again, but Love decided to go with No. 0 as an honor to the first number he wore as a kid and because of his home state of Oregon.

"I thought this was a chance to start fresh," Love said, "to pick a new number that would suit me."

As for how he will mesh with his new coach David Blatt and how he would fit into the Cavs' new offensive and defensive systems, he left all that for later. But after not making the playoffs for the first six seasons of his career and never playing alongside an All-Star, Love said he is looking forward to the season.

"We know LeBron is the focal point," Love said. "But we have a lot of damn good players."

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New Author Event: Word of Art September 5

  Posted by Deb Borys in Debra R. Borys, 26 August 2014 · 14 views

I am excited to be one of the writers chosen to participate in the InPrint Word of Art Event on Friday, September 5 from 4-8 pm in Rockford IL. For those of you unfamiliar, Word of Art is a collaboration … Continue reading

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CROWN OF ICE COUNTDOWN — Day 15: P is for Polar Bear

  Posted by LucidDreamer in LucidDreamer's Blog, 26 August 2014 · 20 views

It’s day 15 before CROWN OF ICE releases and this day it’s P for Polar Bear. In my novel, a powerful sorcerer has used his magic to transform animals into servants. This includes bears, rabbits, foxes, and other wild creatures. I hope readers feel the horror of this. Taking animals and turning their paws into […]

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Debut Author Jasmine Warga Talks About The Cover For MY HEART & OTHER BLACK HOLES

  Posted by bigblackcat97 in Writer, Writer Pants on Fire, 26 August 2014 · 21 views

<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">I love talking to debut authors. Our experiences are so similar, yet so very different, that every one of us has a new story to share. Everyone says that the moment you get your cover it really hits you - you're an author. The cover is your story - and you - packaged for the world. So the process of the cover reveal can be slightly panic inducing. Does it fit your story? Is it what you hoped? Will it sell? With this in mind I put together the CRAP (Cover Reveal Anxiety Phase) Interview.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Today's guest is <a href="http://jasminewarga.com/" target="_blank">Jasmine Warga,</a> whose debut <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18336965-my-heart-and-other-black-holes?ac=1" target="_blank">MY HEART &amp; OTHER BLACK HOLES</a> will be coming from Balzer &amp; Bray on February 10, 2015.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-XstegBH2Tbc/U_wTk-026mI/AAAAAAAACpM/C8cJlZfjVGU/s1600/18336965.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-XstegBH2Tbc/U_wTk-026mI/AAAAAAAACpM/C8cJlZfjVGU/s1600/18336965.jpg" height="640" width="427" /></a></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i><br /></i></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i><br /></i></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i>Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.</i></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i><br /></i></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i>There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner.&nbsp;</i></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i><br /></i></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i>Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.</i></div><br /><b>Did you have any pre-conceived notions about what you wanted your cover to look like?</b><br /><br /><i>I had no set idea of what I wanted it to look like exactly. I actually felt stressed out for the cover designer because I thought it might be a challenge to graphically capture and represent the story since its dark, but hopefully not unrelentingly so since it has bursts of humor and romance. I was interested (and admittedly nervous!) to see how they’d capture that tension between intense subject matter and irreverent narrative voice.</i><br /><br /><b>How far in advance from your pub date did you start talking covers with your house?</b><br /><br /><i>I saw the first possible comp cover design back in February. That design ended up getting pulled though.&nbsp;</i><br /><br /><b>Did you have any input on your cover?</b><br /><br /><i>Yes, but I actually loved everything they showed me so my feedback mostly consisted of lots of exclamation points and squeals. Truly, I couldn’t be more impressed and thankful to the design team at B+B/Harper.</i><br /><br /><b>How was your cover revealed to you?</b><br /><br /><i>My lovely editor Alessandra Balzer emailed it to me.</i><br /><br /><b>Was there an official "cover reveal" date for your art?</b><br /><br /><i>Yes! My friend Kristan Hoffman and the <a href="http://www.weheartya.com/2014/06/introducing-my-heart-and-other-black.html" target="_blank">WE HEART YA</a> blog hosted the cover reveal on June 19th. The art director shared a bit of the process behind designing the cover and we shared the jacket flap summary, an excerpt, Nova Ren Suma’s blurb, and gave away an ARC.</i><br /><br /><b>How far in advance of the reveal date were you aware of what your cover would look like?</b><br /><br /><i>Only about a week or so because my cover had gone through many changes and we were working to have a version ready for the catalog.</i><br /><br /><b>Was it hard to keep it to yourself before the official release?</b><br /><br /><i>Not really since I didn’t have to wait more than two weeks, which didn’t seem too bad. But the more I think about it, I guess the truthful answer is yes since I was so excited to share it with everyone!</i><br /><br /><b>What surprised you most about the process?</b><br /><br /><i>How much time and care goes into designing every cover and how many people are involved in the process. I think the publisher really wants you to be happy and to give you the best possible cover they can for your book. It was totally evident that the people working on my cover had read the book and I think they did an amazing job graphically representing the tone and feel of the story. It was also interesting to me how much they zeroed in on finding a way to showcase the title and based a large part of the design around that.</i><br /><br /><b>Any advice to other debut authors about how to handle cover art anxiety?</b><br /><br /><i>This is related to what I said above—trust that your publisher and design team want you to be happy with your cover. I was lucky enough that I really liked everything they showed me, but I trust that if I hadn’t, we would’ve worked together to come up with something everyone felt good about. It’s definitely a team effort. If I could do it over again, I would spend less time worrying and stressing about it, and more time enjoying how exciting it is to be seeing a cover.</i><br /><div><br /></div>

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Feelings from the Heart, No More

Posted by Marzie Malfoy in Slytherin House Poetry Reading, 25 August 2014 · 12 views
slytherin, original works, heart and 3 more...

The mind kept in captivity,
Denied the freedom of life.
Crevasses from where you can dig
My heart from.

My disposition,
Thrown into the ditch.
Surviving not
Because of the witch.

Heart and mind,
Creating the fissure.
Apathetic they are altered.
In maturity,

they become callous.


Building the lacuna
Of the dungeons,
I awake no more.
My heart...

No more.



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Love and Dreams: Who is Maya Summer of the Summer Sisters?

  Posted by Jean Oram in The Love Bug Blog, 25 August 2014 · 28 views

<p><a href="http://www.jeanoram....ddreams187k.jpg"><img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-847" src="http://www.jeanoram.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/loveanddreams187k-200x300.jpg" alt="Love and Dreams" width="200" height="300" /></a></p>
<p>Guess what’s coming to ereaders? Book 2, <a title="Summer Sisters series" href="http://www.jeanoram....summer-sisters/" target="_blank"><em>Love and Dreams: A Summer Sisters Beach Reads Contemporary Romance</em></a> by Jean Oram!</p>
<p>Last week, <a title="Jasmine Haynes" href="http://www.jasminehaynes.com" target="_blank">Jasmine Haynes</a> tagged me to chat a bit about my latest work and I decided to turn it over to <em>Love and Dreams</em> heroine, Maya Summer.</p>
<h3>Maya Summer from the Romance Summer Sisters series by Jean Oram</h3>
<p><strong>1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?</strong></p>
<p>Allow me to introduce you to Maya Summer, the second born sister in the Summer family…</p>
<p><strong>2) When and where is the story set?</strong></p>
<p>Hey, it’s Maya Summer here. My story, <em>Love and Dreams</em>–written by Jean Oram (she did an okay job of telling my story although I wish she’d shown a bit more of my sultry side–hello? What’s a gal got to do?)–is set on Nymph Island which is where my family’s 110-year-old cottage is located. That’s in Muskoka, Canada. Cottage country. Just north of Toronto in Ontario. You know the place? Lots of rocks and trees. Very pretty, quiet, clean, and beautiful. Anyway, it’s okay if you don’t. Jean will tell you all about it in my story. Keep reading!</p>
<p><strong>3) What should we know about him/her?</strong></p>
<p>There’s lots you should know about me. First, I am very determined. Connor–he’s the hero in my story–calls me his spitfire which pretty much sums it up. My family means a ton to me. I have four sisters, a five-year-old niece who is fun (she’s quite the kid). We call that girl Tigger for a reason! She’s bouncy. Us sisters also share a mother who isn’t doing so well. She had a stroke years ago and we all want to take care of her, but Hailey, the eldest, does a lot of it. You know big sisters, always think they run the show! (Sometimes I can sneak in there and get some credit and sunshine.)</p>
<p><strong>4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?</strong></p>
<p>Okay, so I graduated from the University of Toronto. Not to brag, but top of my class and all that. The only problem was that it has been really, really hard to find a job. And I really need a good job. You see, my sisters and I ended up way behind in paying the taxes on our cottage and we’re in danger of losing it. At first I was like, big deal, sell that old beast. But…things change.</p>
<p>Anyway, in comes hunky-hunk Connor MacKenzie who is the king of Toronto. I thought my prayers were answered. First, a great job with him–easy peasy, right? Just strut myself and wait for him to notice because with a great job comes money. Save the cottage! Ta da! Only it didn’t quite work that way…</p>
<p><strong>5) What is the personal goal of the character?</strong></p>
<p>I have always imagined myself being <em>someone</em>. You know…sexy, in charge. Someone people come to because she makes things happen. She knows stuff. She’d powerful. I’d sleep my way to the top if I had to, but I don’t think I should have to. You know? (Although sleeping with Connor MacKenzie would NOT be a hardship. Hello! Powerful, intriguing, smart and with shoulders that are a serious…wait, I have to keep this PG, don’t I? Let’s just say if every man was like Connor women would be spending a lot less time outside of the bedroom.)</p>
<p>But back to my story, I knew wanted and I knew what I had to do and where I needed to go. Only problem? My plan wasn’t working. At all. Thanks to Connor.</p>
<p><strong>6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?</strong></p>
<p><em>Love and Dreams</em> is available for preorder! Jean got her stuff together and as of this second, you can preorder the story in these places:</p>
<p><a title="Love and Dreams on Amazon US" href="http://amzn.to/1zhMnLk" target="_blank">Amazon US</a></p>
<p><a title="Love and Dreams on Amazon UK" href="http://amzn.to/1tDfxmz" target="_blank">Amazon UK</a></p>
<p><a title="Love and Dreams on Kobo" href="http://store.koboboo...ve-and-dreams-2" target="_blank">Kobo</a></p>
<p>iTunes–coming VERY soon!</p>
<p>B&amp;N–coming VERY soon!</p>
<p><a title="Add Love and Dreams to your Goodreads Shelf!" href="https://www.goodread...rom_search=true" target="_blank">Add to your Goodreads Shelf!</a></p>
<p><strong>7) When can we expect the book to be published?</strong></p>
<p>It’s coming on Thursday, August 28th! It’ll be all over the place ready for you to read it!</p>
<p>By the way, have you read Hailey’s story yet? That’s the first book in our series, <em>Love and Rumors</em>, with her and Finian Alexander. He’s a hot movie star. Anyway, if you haven’t read their story yet, you can get it, too. And for only 99 cents during September. It’s a deal just for you!</p>
<p><em>Love and Rumors</em> in <em>Hot Summer Love</em>:</p>
<p><a href="http://www.jeanoram....SummerLove2.jpg"><img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-848" src="http://www.jeanoram.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/HotSummerLove2-300x225.jpg" alt="Hot Summer Love Box Set" width="300" height="225" /></a></p>
<p><strong>Get Your Copy of Hot Summer Love:</strong><br /><a title="Hot Summer Love Box Set on Amazon US" href="http://amzn.to/1pUqIYo" target="_blank">Amazon US</a><br /><a title="Hot Summer Love Box Set on Amazon UK" href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hot-Summer-Love-Box-Set-ebook/dp/B00MWMEPN2" target="_blank">Amazon UK</a><br /><a title="Hot Summer Love Box Set on iTunes" href="http://www.jeanoram.com/kecc/" target="_blank">iTunes</a><br /><a title="Hot Summer Love Box Set on Kobo" href="http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/hot-summer-love-box-set" target="_blank">Kobo</a><br />B&amp;N–coming VERY soon<br />Google–coming VERY soon<br /><a title="Add Hot Summer Love Box Set to Goodreads Shelves" href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23007176-hot-summer-love-box-set?from_search=true" target="_blank">Add it to Goodreads</a></p>
<p><strong><a class="embedtweet" title="Tell your friends! Tweet this post!" href="https://twitter.com/...Love and Dreams!%20http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jeanoram.com%2Fjean-orams-books%2Flove-dreams-maya-summer%2F%20%23romance%20%23newrelease" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Tell your friends! Tweet this post!</a></strong></p>
<h4>Loving the blog hop and want more exclusive, new interviews from fresh new books? Check this out:</h4>
<p>I was tagged by:</p>
<p><a href="http://www.jeanoram....smineHaynes.jpg"><img class="size-medium wp-image-853 alignleft" src="http://www.jeanoram.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/JasmineHaynes-199x300.jpg" alt="Jasmine Haynes" width="199" height="300" /></a>NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Jasmine Haynes/Jennifer Skully who is the author of classy erotic romance, hilarious romantic mysteries, and the Max Starr sensual suspense series.<br />See her interview for her new release <em><a title="Pleasing Mr. Sutton by Jasmine Haynes" href="http://www.amazon.com/Pleasing-Mr-Sutton-Coast-Novel-ebook/dp/B00MYQRN6C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1408988341&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=pleasing+mr+sutton" target="_blank">Pleasing Mr. Sutton</a>:</em> <a title="The interview!" href="http://jasminehaynes.blogspot.ca/?zx=bfcf5a55e683ad81" target="_blank">http://jasminehaynes...683ad81</a></p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<p><em><strong>Next week you can learn more from two of my box set buddies, Jax Cassidy and Julie Farrell!</strong></em></p>
<p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Jax Cassidy:</strong></span></p>
<p><em><a href="http://www.jeanoram..../JaxCassidy.jpg"><img class=" wp-image-852 alignleft" src="http://www.jeanoram.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/JaxCassidy.jpg" alt="Jax Cassidy" width="201" height="218" /></a>Jax Cassidy was born in exotic Southeast Asia. At five years old her family fled the war-torn country of Vietnam for the American dream. As a child, she learned the English language through daily PBS children’s programming (Sesame Street, The Electric Company, etc.) and soap operas like Days of Our Lives and General Hospital. When she wasn’t in front of the tele, she entertained herself by weaving epic tales of heartbreak and love in her journals. When technology crept to the forefront, she happily typed those stories out on her brother’s wordprocessing machine and stored the dot matrix print pages underneath her bed..</em></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><em>In her late teens, she wanted to be just like Connie Chung and pursued a broadcast journalism career. Her efforts were quickly rewarded with several creative writing awards and a national Asian American journalism scholarship that enabled her to work for the local newspaper. Stifled by the lack of creativity at her jobs—between working for editors in the communications desk, working in her family-owned restaurant, and longing for adventure—she jumped at the opportunity to move to Paris, France for three years.</em></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><em>In the City of Light, she brushed off her dusty art supplies to immerse herself in the artist’s lifestyle. She was inspired and often mentored by successful comic book artists such as Jean Giraud aka Moebius, Philippe Caza, Bruno Bellamy, Sandrine Gestin and Marc Bati…to name a few. Her experiences in Paris, and traveling through Europe, opened her eyes to the beauty of the people, the elegant lifestyle, mouth-watering cuisine, luscious wines, exquisite couture and breathtaking countryside. The dreamy adventure came to an end when she realized how much she missed the American food chains and her close-knit, yet drama-filled, family.</em></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><em>Once bitten by the travel bug, she spent the next few years “city hopping” across the States and leaving a trail of broken hearts along the way. After being able to mark Paris off her Cities I’ll Live Someday list, she could now strike through Los Angeles with a red marker. While living in the entertainment mecca, her love for romantic comedies and romance novels led her to the Romance Writers of America, which prompted her to join the Los Angeles Romance Authors (LARA) chapter. She is currently a member of several online and local chapters and has served as a board member for both LARA and CFRW.</em></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><em>On the work front, boredom set in after almost a decade of taking on challenging freelance and temp positions—anything from actress, production assistant, makeup artist, hair stylist, screenwriter, photographer, ghostwriter, technical writer…to personal assistant to the highly powerful and filthy rich—she decided to do what she should have done all along…become an author!</em></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><em>Within the first few months of joining her local chapter, she was offered two writing contracts through Phaze Publishing and Amber Quill Press. Not long after, she helped launched the multicultural/multi-ethnic line for Parker Publishing with her novella SIREN’S SEDUCTION, in the LOTUS BLOSSOM CHRONICLES print anthology. With publishing credits under her belt she went on to sign with her fabulous dream agent, Roberta Brown of the Brown Literary Agency.</em></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><em>When Ms. Cassidy isn’t working on her next project(s) she feeds her K-drama addiction and can also be found lounging at day spa or sipping lattes at the local café. But don’t let her indulgences fool you, she enthusiastically volunteers for charities (whenever possible) and is always searching for ways to make the world a better place.</em></p>
<p>You can find Jax and her interview next Monday, September 1, at:<a title="Jax Cassidy" href="http://www.jaxcassidy.com/blog" target="_blank"> www.jaxcassidy.com/blog</a></p>
<p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Julie Farrell:</strong></span></p>
<p><em><a href="http://www.jeanoram....uliefarrell.jpg"><img class="size-full wp-image-854 alignleft" src="http://www.jeanoram.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/juliefarrell.jpg" alt="Julie Farrell." width="300" height="200" /></a>Life is for living, and I’m loving it!</em></p>
<p><em>I write steamy romances that will make your heart pound hard and your thighs surge with desire!</em></p>
<p><em>There was a time, not so long ago, when all I wanted was to stop my heart pounding hard and my mind surging with fear. You see, I suffered with panic attacks. The fear debilitated me on a daily basis, and the feelings of weakness undermined my self-esteem. This ‘fear of fear’ became so immense that there were times when I was scared to even go outside of my home.</em></p>
<p><em>At those times, all I wanted to do was write, because my imaginary world of fiction provided a soothing escape from reality. The strong female characters I created allowed me to pretend everything was okay in my world. And the sexy men in my fictive imagination were protective, loving, and strong.</em></p>
<p><em>I’ve never been someone to give up! Even at my lowest, I knew I could and would recover. Thanks to a great support network, a wonderful self-help book (The Panic Attacks Workbook by David Carbonell), and my own patient determination I experienced my last ever panic attack in January 2013. Then, in April 2014, I proved how strong I’d become by backpacking with a friend in the chaos and heat of India – something that had filled me with dread back when my fear was dominating my every waking breath.</em></p>
<p><em>But nothing in this life is ever a waste. During the years when I was suffering from panic attacks, I learnt to write well! I honed my craft, and when I came out the other end, I was ready to self-publish, knowing that if I can cope with panic attacks and survive, then I can become a successful indie author too! My books are the products of this amazing journey that I’ve been on, and now I can’t wait to find out what other delights await me, just around the corner!</em></p>
<p><em>Never give up on your dreams, and don’t let the setbacks of today ruin your tomorrow! You can do it – just like I did!</em></p>
<p>You can find Julie and her interview next Monday, September 1, at: <a title="Julie Farrell" href="http://www.juliefarrellbooks.com/blog" target="_blank">juliefarrellbooks.com/blog</a></p>
<p style="text-align: center;"><strong>~ ~ ~</strong></p>
<p><strong>Thank you for reading! And don’t forget, if you’re on Facebook you can join me and my fan girls to talk men, life, good books, my books, and much more at <a title="Join the fan girls!" href="http://www.facebook....ps/jeanoramfans" target="_blank">www.facebook.com/groups/jeanoramfans.</a> Everyone is welcome.</strong></p>
<p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.jeanoram....ms-maya-summer/">Love and Dreams: Who is Maya Summer of the Summer Sisters?</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.jeanoram.com">Jean Oram</a>.</p>

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MONDAY MUSINGS – FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS

  Posted by Amy Trueblood in Chasing The Crazies , 25 August 2014 · 15 views

I’m  a lucky girl. Not only do I have writing friends online who have become my trusted CPs, but I also have an AMAZING group of local women I meet with every month to swap pages. Yay! KICK-AZ writers :)   At our recent meeting, we started talking about WriteOnCon. If you don’t know about WriteOnCon, it is an amazing […]

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An Indian's Reaction to the Racism in "The Goldfinch"

  Posted by SC_Author in SC Write--Writing, Publishing, and Harry Potter, 25 August 2014 · 21 views

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt has taken the literary world by storm since its publication. It won the Pulitzer, has been hailed by Stephen King (although derided by higher literary critics), and became a bestseller. So I decided to give it a go and read it. I loved the prose, thought it was fantastic. And when I finished the book, I thought it was good, but Pulitzer-worthy? Maybe, if there weren't any better contenders. Frankly, it was underwhelming. The prose won me over, but the story and especially that last chapter didn't seem like the work of a master. But I was beyond glad I read the book, because the book revolves around art's immortality. As a writer and a painter, I loved hearing Theo talk about The Goldfinch (painting) and about how much it meant to him. The fact that art, in itself, is everlasting, which is the reason we do it. I've never read a book that talked about art in such a personal way. I loved it.


But then someone on Twitter linked me to a post which was picked up by Salon here. Please read the post and come back, because I can't explain it better than the post does.

Of course, unless Ms. Tartt tells us herself, we can't ever truly know what her intention was with the novel. We can simply make our best guess using the evidence she gave us. If you read the post, I believe you've read some pretty strong evidence.

It's a novel filled with stock characters of color and with, when explained, painfully obvious racist themes. The Goldfinch is a nostalgic lament to a past filled with art, culture, beauty, while today's modern world of multiculturalism and diversity is, supposedly, sad and distasteful. As an Indian who is part of the multicultural hoopla Tartt finds sad in the present world, I was furious to realize that this book won the Pulitzer prize. This book. This book, these 800 pages from one of the world's most cherished authors, won the Pulitzer even though any literary scholar could realize the theme instantaneously (I'm no scholar, I couldn't realize it without explanation). The Pulitzer committee must have realized the theme. Is this not another Gone With the Wind? No, it's even worse, because Gone With the Wind is not focused on racism, it's focused on the complete upheaval of a society of which race-relations was one of many changes. The Goldfinch is very much about the decline of white supremacy. I was pissed. Upset and disgusted with the path English literature took with giving this book the Pulitzer. A racist, backwards novel - beautifully written - is being hailed as the greatest modern work? Have we moved forward in society or no?

So imagine my surprise when I was asked what my favorite books are, and The Goldfinch accidentally sprang up in my mind before my anger took it back down.

Why did that book come up to my mind so fast? 

It's the beauty of literature. Even though I - as an Indian - should be upset by the book, I realize now that I still love it with all its faults. The book is Tartt's lament, yes, but it's a beautiful lament. Who am I to insult someone's deepest feelings? One of the main reasons I fell in love with literature is because through books, I can learn about people different than me, people who think differently than me. This book and its message are Tartt's thinking. The reason I was so upset about the book was because of the themes, and to me that's not right. I can dislike a book because of its prose, its characters, its shoddy craftsmanship, etc. but I try hard not to dislike a book because of its message.

This book beautifully presented the feeling of retreat that many like Tartt must have felt when people like my parents entered this country. As non-European immigrants and children of these (incredibly hard-working) immigrants, we see people (sadly and too often) show us their hostility in ways not nearly as peaceful as Tartt does, and not nearly as beautifully. And while there's no way in hell we're leaving (frankly, we've earned our place several times over), there's never a perspective that deserves to be ignored.

Nowadays, controversy is no longer being an activist for the gay community but being against it. Controversy is not being pro-diversity but against it. In a time where such true controversy is avoided, it's stunning to see a writer with such huge expectations take such an incredible risk with her writing by revealing her inner self. That, by any account, is to be commended. There's rarely anything nowadays that presents the condemned side of an argument in such an amazing light. I'd take The Goldfinch over Fox News any day.

Due to The Goldfinch, even as a son of an immigrant I can understand, sympathize, and (due to Tartt's use of first person) sometimes even empathize with the sadness of the dwindling prestige of white supremacy. That's not to say at all that I agree with it. That's not the point. The point is to listen, and if we can't even do that, our bigotry will be the true mark of a degrading society. I'm willing to bet there are a lot of other people who silently agree with Tartt's views but are too scared to speak because of the possibility of backlash. Yes, I'm aware of how ironic it sounds but so many times, we who are progressive and for equal rights condemn our opponents just as strongly as they condemn us. Why can't we speak our minds and let others do the same? If we are truly progressive, we'd let everyone speak in an embracing environment. 

I also think I like this book because of that horribly amateurish last chapter. The whole rest of the book is good, (mostly) free from cliché. It's almost painful to see Tartt work so hard - and when she finally lets go, so to speak, in the last chapter, it humanizes the whole story. It's accessible. The reader smiles at the faults, almost laughs, and thus breaks the hard ice of 'sophistication' that caked the rest of the novel. Now it's a novel, a good old novel and no longer a Novel. And in that way, it's become my friend. A friend that I want to punch, yes. Inflict pain on because of how much it's been wrongly praised. But then hug right after because I still do grudgingly love it.

Do I think it's a good book? Even apart from the themes, not really. Do I really really really like it, almost love it? Yes. It hit a personal spot for me with its love for art.

It still shouldn't have won the Pulitzer though.

What did you think about The Goldfinch? Let me know in the comments below!


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Helen Lacey and the Author/Agent Relationship

  Posted by Jemi in Just Jemi, 25 August 2014 · 22 views

Please welcome the lovely Helen Lacey back to the blog today! Her new book Once Upon a Bride is a lot of fun! I enjoyed the plot, and the characters were complex and intriguing. If you're looking for an enjoyable romance set Down Under, look no further!

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It’s no secret that the publishing landscape is evolving and shifting at a mind boggling rate. For years there was kind of status quo in publishing – the author wrote the book, sent it to their agent if they were lucky enough to have one or sent it directly to a publisher to languish in the slush pile. Now, with the surge in self publishing and the rise of small boutique publishers, it’s an author’s market. We no longer have to wait for rejection letters or hope for a contract. We can do what we like, when we like, and as much as we like.

I was recently at the Romance Writers of Australia’s annual conference and it struck me that through all the hype and talk about indie publishing and how so many authors, including myself, were now what has been coined hybrid, I was still being asked the same question over and over – why do I have an agent? Why would I give a portion of my earnings away when I could do it myself?

I signed with my agent about six months before I got published. I’d wanted to be published with Harlequin for a long time prior to getting the call in 2010…it was over two decades of submitting and eighteen rejections from this one publisher before I sold my first book to Harlequin Special Edition. I’d had a book in submission with them for over a year when I signed with my agent, and within months on signing I was offered my first contract. True, you don’t need an agent to sell to Harlequin, but in late 2009 I realized I wanted one. Why? Well, writing is mostly a solitary occupation and as a writer who is most defiantly a pantser, and one who just wants to write and has no interest in talking or negotiating contracts, getting agent was right for me.

And that’s what I always stress when asked the question – having an agent is purely a personal choice based mostly on my personality. My agent talks contracts and deadlines with my editor while I get to talk storylines and characters and simply write my books – which is what I love to do most.

I work a day job and have to fit my writing around that, family, friends, pets and general life stuff…having an agent makes the writing part smoother and much less stressful. The important thing is to work with someone who is your advocate. Someone you trust. Someone who shares your work ethic and understands how important your stories are to you. Someone who will work at getting the best from your books and contracts, and also someone who will support your endeavours into indie publishing if you wish to go down the hybrid road. I know an author who has been with her agent for fifteen years, I also know another author who has had three different agents in eighteen months. Not every author/agent relationship will be the rightfit. Sometimes you have to try one another on and see if you work.

Is having an agent for everyone? Probably not. But think about what you want…and then what you need and you’ll quickly work out if having an agent is for you and your career as an author.
Connect with Helen:

Website    Blog      Facebook    Twitter     Goodreads 
 
Helen Lacey’s latest release is ONCE UPON A BRIDE
Happily ever after…?

When Gabe Vitali escapes to a fresh start in Crystal Point, Australia, the former physician isn't looking for a storybook ending. For the first time he's living in the moment. His new five-year plan does not include serious relationships. But he doesn't anticipate his unavoidable next-door neighbor…and an undeniable attraction.

Bridal consultant Lauren Jakowski wants marriage. She's just sworn off love and sex! To avoid getting burned again, she's looking for safe and forever-after. But they're not Gabe's to give–for reasons he can't share with anyone, least of all this pretty complication.

Gabe and Lauren don't figure on a fairy tale. But fate has other plans…
For Kindle: Once Upon A Bride


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Thanks Helen! Agents can certainly be wonderful assets for writers! 
It's an interesting time for writers and making the agent/self-publishing/hybrid/small publisher with no agent decision is an important one!


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Saturday Situations

Posted by MelGrinder89 in Writing woes and wants, 23 August 2014 · 52 views

I'm going to try to post a blog once a week. Maybe I'll look for a website to make a blog and put the link on here.
Any suggestions on what website I should use?

I want to write, but unfortunately, household chores are calling to be done. Then I have a bunch of back to school paperwork that needs filled out before I can sit and write.

And as far as writing goes, I'm in a bit of a pickle. I have a story that I need go through and edit and rework a bit. Once it's finished, I can start querying.

Sadly, my brains not working in that way right now. I've had a story stuck in my head for awhile now. I finally got it into a story that I can write. It encompasses my love for drama, horror, romance, mermaids, vampires, fairies, angels, and Gods. Wow that's a lot lol. For the first time I'm not outlining, I'm getting a quick idea down for every book that's going to be in the series and then writing it. I started writing the first book, now I'm almost 30K words into it. Which I'm actually very proud of. Haha!

I got that far and I didn't have any outlines. Just a rough idea. Along the way more ideas kept coming that I needed to jot down, and the journal I was writing it all down in is breaking! :( I've had to tape the pages just to keep them all in this journal. I need to type it all into the computer so I don't loose anything. Then I'll probably get a new binder one of these weeks and keep all of my notes and everything in it. So that way when I'm not on my computer and I get an idea, I can quickly jot it down and see where it will fit into the series.

I had only meant for a few books, now it's turned into something a lot lot more than that. >_< Not sure how to work with that, but at least the first book can be considered a stand alone. I leave enough unresolved for a second book, but there's an actual end to that story. Most of the stories are based ever so many years after the previous one. Some continue directly after the last one.
At least that's the plan. I had only meant for like 3-6 books. Before I knew it, there was a grand total of 18 planned books. I may not have that many, but that's the way the story is looking right now.

*sigh* Oh well. Merdemonel promises to be something I can enjoy. Even if people don't read it.

Merdemonel is a story about a young woman. Demelza (Demi for short) was born a Goddess, daughter of the God of Air (generally has the appearance of an angel) and the Goddess of the Sea (generally has the appearance of a mermaid). Her true form was that of a merangel. Half mermaid, half angel. She was the first pure Goddess ever born. The rest were all born between a union of humans or other humanoid creatures and were demigods. Demelza was born a pure Goddess, and prophecies said she would be the most powerful of them all. As her mother was the most beautiful, she was also going to be exceptionally beautiful.

Even while pregnant, evil targeted the Goddess of the Sea in hopes of killing the child before she was born. After her birth, the attempts were even worse. In an attempt to save her life, so she could grow and not have to worry about evil pursuing her, the Gods turned her human and sent her to Earth so she could grow into an adult without living in fear everyday of her life. They agreed they would check back when she was an adult, but otherwise let her be.

Twenty years later when they checked, she was married and happy with her life, so they let her be again. Content to let her live as a human and not have her join their ranks. So long as she was happy. When she turns twenty-four, the evil catches up with her. Almost a year after her husbands tragic death, Demi is lured into a trap by one of the Circle of Six. A cult of demons with only two goals, destroy the Gods and get more power. If they were to possess her and gain her power, their goals would be met.

To save her sister, her friends, and her daughter (who thankfully was not in the trap but somewhere safe) Demi sacrifices herself to the Demon. Three weeks later, the Demon is slayed by the God of Death himself, and Demi is revived into the Goddess she was always meant to be, but with one huge difference. Because of the three weeks the demon spent trying to possess her, Demi absorbed several demonic powers and demonic tendencies. Because of this, she was now mermaid, demon, and angel.

The Gods gave her the title of Merdemonel. After declaring her unwillingness to join their ranks just yet, Demi returns to Earth to finish raising her daughter. Upon reaching adulthood her daughter could decided to embrace her demigoddess nature, or remain human. Demi would make her decision when, and only when, her daughter had reached hers.

That's the idea for the first book, and the start of the series.

And now my dishes are dry, so I better get my procrastinating butt back in the kitchen and finish doing them.

Washing dishes by hand isn't so bad. It's doing laundry by hand that really really really really really ticks me off. Laundry Matt? You suggest. Not unless I want to pay $20 or more a week!

At least this time I wasn't ranting a whole whole lot about the domesticating chores I have.

Can't promise the same for next time. ;) Thanks for taking the time to read this blog till the end. If you have any, please leave comments or questions, and I will be more than happy to answer.

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A Tribute To All My Teacher Friends

  Posted by Joe Stephens in My Train of Thought, 23 August 2014 · 19 views

It's the first weekend of the school year. We made it through the first week! I would love to tell you that I got lots of writing done, but that would just be a lie. All my teacher friends know exactly what I'm talking about when it comes to the first week of school. There are a few things that are just the sad realities of life for us.

First, we need lots of sleep. I was out cold by 9:30 every night. And it was a struggle most nights to get to that hour. One night, because my washer died and I'm too cheap to buy one yet, I had to go to my parents' house to do a couple loads of laundry (because I literally had no choice if I wanted to be clothed for work the next day). I was so tired when the last load was folded that I actually toyed with the idea of crashing there so I wouldn't have to go to all the trouble of driving home until morning. And I live less than five minutes from their house! More mature heads prevailed and I went home, but it was a struggle.

Second, we're in pure survival mode. I did nothing that was beyond the basest activities needed to survive. Dishes? I have extras. Paper towels on the dispenser? Nah, they can sit on the counter. Make dinner? A peanut butter sandwich is good enough. The night I realized I had a frozen pizza was such a celebration! I just had to talk myself into not eating it uncooked like a giant bread-and-cheese popsicle. Mad props to those of you with miniature humans for whom you are responsible. I'm amazed I kept my fur children from starving.

Why are we like this? Is it the hours? No, most teachers are as busy during the summer as they are during school, but at other things. It has to do with the emotional drain. If you're not a teacher, you don't have any idea how much of a psychic toll it takes on you to be on all day for your kids. It's just not natural to be as happy and upbeat and fun as I am in my classroom all day. And many of my friends are like me, with kids in their rooms from the time they unlock them until time to go home. I have fifth period plan, which means I'm already hosting two lunches worth of kids in my room when I'm not teaching classes.

And I'm not complaining about that. I love it. I love every minute that I get to spend with these kids that I grow really quickly to love like my own children. And in a few weeks, my mind, my body, and my spirit will adjust to this and I'll be able to do normal household chores again without giving myself a pep talk.

Until then, here's to a spoon and a jar of peanut butter for dinner.







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Research Ramblings: The Spartan Citizenry, Part 17

  Posted by Sakura Eries in Sakura Eries' Blog: Keeping It In Canon …mostly, 22 August 2014 · 13 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:

When not on campaign, citizens occupied themselves with choral dances, festivals, feasts, hunting, physical exercise, and conversation.

To be honest, this doesn’t sound too much different than the pursuits of their Athenian contemporaries, but the Spartans had to endure and survive a lot more to achieve this lifestyle.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartans!




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It’s writers’ right to lose readers and alienate them

Posted by Selene Bell in Confessions of a Binge Reader, 18 August 2014 · 56 views

(Spoiler alert: This blog post gives away or hints at the outcomes of several books, particularly Allegiant, the final book in the Divergent series, as well as The Road, the Harry Potter series and the fate of Katniss Everdeen. But the specific spoilers come after the third paragraph.)

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.

www.selene-bell.com

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Writing Success Goal Monday #1

  Posted by Lora Palmer in Lora Palmer's Blog, 12 August 2014 · 10 views


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 working on the query for RED SKY to get it ready for WriteOnCon 2014 (August 26-27). There's not too much left to do with this one, but I do want to incorporate a hint of romance to show that it is a YA rather than MG fic.

2. Finish edits for MIRRORMASTERS for possible entry into Pitch Wars and for WriteOnCon. This goal is going to take longer, because I'm anticipating at least cutting two characters and focusing a bit more on the main character Leah's story arc--the things she learns and how she grows during the course of the story.

3. Write at least 200 words a day on RED SKY. Maybe it's not such an ambitious goal, but it's an achievable goal with the time I have.

So, that's it for this week! What are your writing goals for the week? 


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A Little Late...

  Posted by K McClelland in Teardrops On My Book, 07 August 2014 · 9 views

I just realized that it's the first Thursday of this month and that means I missed the first Wednesday. And then I come to my lovely little neglected blog to see I haven't posted since June...Damn. I'm sorry about that.

(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.)

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How Car Dealerships Without Social Media are Without Sales

  Posted by dclabs in dan.croutch.ca, 06 August 2014 · 10 views

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.

 


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