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To Honest Benefits of Teaching Writing to Others

  Posted by SC_Author in SC Write--Writing, Publishing, and Harry Potter, 20 October 2014 · 6 views

Bob Clary, from the online learning company Webucator, invited me to speak about teaching writing --  meaning, how to pass on the knowledge of the writing craft to others -- as part of their "Teach Your Talent" project. Specifically, he asked: "When you're staring at a page (or screen!), how do you turn the words into wine? You could write a tutorial for your readers, or even give a lesson to someone and then share how the experience went."

I am beyond honored that he asked me to speak about this, and I hope I do the topic justice!

(I have not been paid or anything to do this.)

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I'm not going to talk about craft. If you want to know about craft, go to writers better than me and those who have talked about it in more depth than I will: Stephen King's "On Writing", Kurt Vonnegut's essays, etc.

I taught a writing workshop for adults with developmental disabilities. 'Taught' is too strong of a word; 'led' or 'guided' would be more appropriate. And even though it'd be great to think that the workshop completely changed their lives around, it'd be a lie. They changed me more than I changed them.

There are things that I never knew or would know about these adults had we been in any other situation. Their favorite foods, relationship to roommates and other adults in the building, boyfriends, girlfriends, enmities: all those I found out in two one-hour sessions.

There are times when the triviality of writing dawns on me and scares me. I like to think I write for myself (I can't not write or I'll explode) but I write to expose horrors that frustrate me. Part of that requires that I go out to the places I'm writing about -- such as the homeless community -- and get first-hand experience to convey what I'm talking about. And after these experiences, I need time to collect myself - because I want to rip apart all my writing.

How stupid must I be to think that I can sit in a room and write while people, actual people, go through horrors and nightmares every day? To be 'moved' by what I'm writing feels like a ghost compared to what I saw. I am in no position to write about such things. The whole 'pretending' aspect of writing becomes disgusting and despicable. I'm pretending and, if things go well, I will reach a larger audience than those shunned by society. My stories will be heard by more people than the stories of those who know more about their situations than I do. How can I write? No matter how hard I try, it'll be a lie.

And I don't have an answer to that. No matter how much I know the fallacy of my writing, I must write. Books have the power to change lives, I know that, you know that, you told me that.  And I must write. I simply must, I'd explode if I don't. I try as hard as possible to be honest in my writing, especially with my current novel.

Teaching the adults with developmental disabilities exposed me to an entire new view about how to write honestly.

Give a person a pencil and they'll expose their lives to you. It might take digging, it might be hiding under the surface of their stories, but the writer and the story can never be independent. I'm sorry, but it's true. Probably. (I don't like saying statements are 100% true, but that statement just might be.)

So this is an odd benefit of teaching writing, one that I only realized once I went out and 'taught' a group of people who usually do not get 'taught' writing. For one thing, teaching went out the window. it was all about exploring, encouraging, having fun. Their writing was pure at its greatest form, only for themselves without care for standards -- and they never felt ashamed about sharing their writing. They spoke up and told other adults to speak up if they hadn't for a long while. This is what writing can do to a person. Writing without need of publication has a power in itself, a power of expression for only expression's sake. It's an undeserved privilege to witness it.

Because witnessing their writing meant witnessing their minds and lives. If I wrote a book about adults with developmental disabilities before the workshops and after the workshops, they'd be two different novels. That may seem obvious, but think about what that means in terms of the power of 'teaching' writing.

This benefit may seem niche but in fiction, writers are not writing autobiographies (they're writing veiled autobiographies ;) ). They're writing about other people. For example, a woman might be writing a book about a man coming to terms with his impotency. And although there might be men who published articles and books about their lives, this published writing is inherently different than writing for writings sake. The latter tends to be incredibly more honest in a way that staggers the mind.

If you want to write honestly about someone, 'teach' that someone writing. And by 'teach', I mean give them open prompts ("Make a poem where every line starts with 'I am'"; "What is your favorite season? Holiday?" simple stuff, harder stuff if you feel like it, "What is your worst memory?") and, if they trust you, they'll bloom in front of you. 

Don't ever do someone the disservice of 'pretending' in fiction without any attempt to honestly learn about their situations. Without a doubt, when you go to learn about them, people will surprise you.

I can't find it on YouTube, but I watched a video about adults with developmental disabilities who were asked the question, "If you would change one thing about yourself, what would you change?"   

Not one of them mentioned their disability. The most common answers were, "Be happier," or "I wouldn't change a thing."

Go out. Learn about your subjects.

"Write what you know." And if you don't know what you want to write about, don't be one of those people who discredits, in my opinion, the greatest adage in writing and thinks, "I can make it up, write what you know is so dumb! What about fantasy?" 

GET to know it, your world, your emotions. Or else you'll be one of those fools who conveys their subject falsely, writes yet another source of misunderstanding in the public. Ever wonder where the idea of rough and tough, gun-wielding lesbians come from? Straight people. 

You'll fail to connect with those you've written about, and for me, that'd mean my novel failed.

Hopefully, this benefit of teaching writing to others is unique. I don't want to repeat what others have said because others can say things better than I can.

But really, teaching, learning, and writing itself has a whole spectrum of benefits that many people can talk about and present unique takes. That's why I'm so so glad Bob asked a number of writers to discuss this topic on their blog. Please take a look at Webucator's Twitter feed and read some of the links they Tweeted.

Webucator is offering a free Microsoft training class each month. It's a necessary skill that most employers require, and their classes run the entire spectrum of Microsoft applications (some I haven't even heard of!). Check out Webucator's reviews and take a look at their classes. They seem great. If you think you can learn anything from the classes, check them out.

Thank you so much again for inviting me to speak on this, Bob!


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Lakers Reversed Jazz, Kobe Bryant 26 Points for Coming Back

Posted by oolorres in oolorres' Blog, 20 October 2014 · 12 views

Lakers Reversed Jazz, Kobe Bryant 26 Points for Coming Back Oct. 20 NBA preseason, the Lakers vs. Jazz, results in 98-91 reversal opponent, ending three-game losing streak. The Lakers trailed by 22 points in the second quarter, but Bryant led the team to 31-5 wave of attacks hit the go-ahead score, and ultimately difficult to win. Bryant shot 7 of 22 contribute 26 points, five assists and four rebounds, Jeremy Lin (microblogging) and Nash injury continued truce.

Game review: Jazz end the Lakers with 22 points reversed three-game losing streak

Opening, Bryant feel bad, before three shots were wide of the basket, but the Lakers rely Price and Hill scored, the first gain an advantage. Since then, the Jazz back attack feeling, Hayward pointers and free throws to help the team go-ahead score. Bryant promptly force, consecutive field goal, the Lakers biting score. But before the end of the first, Bryant end, the Jazz took the opportunity to play a 10-5 wave of attacks, will expand the advantage to double digits, a single to lead the Lakers 32-20.

Second section, the Lakers lineup rotation poor performance, was jazz played 11-2 offensive. See the team behind as many as 21 points, Kobe Bryant can go it alone, he forced two consecutive third shot hit, three-point play and later succeeded in his marker. Under section 9 points Bryant single stimulus, the Lakers finally play some improvement, Boozer storm and free throws. Before the end of this section, the Lakers answered with a 8-2 offensive half to 38-54 behind the Jazz.

Ex situ battles, Jazz let Hayward, Favors two main early break, the Lakers continued the second last paragraph of section excellent condition. Bryant free throws, three and CIC quickly scored six points, Carlos Boozer and Johnson, who also lend a helping hand. Only 6 minutes, the Lakers finished 23-3 offensive surge, in one fell swoop to 61-57 go-ahead score. Since then, the Jazz finally found the feeling, the use of long shot and breakthroughs up points, to stabilize the situation. Three kick, jazz advantage almost gone, only the Lakers leading 72-69.

Distal, the Lakers up is a 7-0 attack wave, again ahead score. Since then, both teams refused to give the Jazz hit two three-pointers, the Lakers will rely on rookie Randall cut points, his scoring range jumper in the rapidly contributed 8 points. Call of Duty, Bryant played again, and assists Davis layup after Ellington hit third, the Lakers lead six minutes. Since then, the Jazz offense sluggish, Bryant made ​​two free throws to seal the victory. The Lakers defeated after three consecutive games, finally ushered in returning to the victory.

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Where's Lenny Lee???

  Posted by Jemi in Just Jemi, 19 October 2014 · 4 views

Happy Birthday Lenny!!!

If you haven't met Lenny Lee yet, you're missing out. Lenny is 15 today and he is an amazing young man.

Despite some medical difficulties in his life, Lenny sparkles with wit and humor.

Lenny has been able to blog as much lately, but I think his birthday is a fabulous way for us to let him know we're thinking about him!

So join me in sending best wishes to Lenny!





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Zoe Kravitz rocks out wearing skimpy black hotpants on stage at intimate Sydney gig

Posted by pennydress in pennydress' Blog, 18 October 2014 · 48 views
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As an actress and singer Zoe Kravitz has mingled with an array of stars on the job, including Jennifer Lawrence and Will Smith.

But it looks like there's one A-lister the 25-year-old has her heart set on meeting, after revealing her desire to be introduced to British pop star Lily Allen.

The daughter of Lenny Kravitz has a lot in common with the songstress, after proving her own musical talent during a performance with her band Lolawolf at the Oxford Art Factory in Sydney, Australia on Friday.


During an interview with The Daily Telegraph on Saturday Zoe revealed how her band scored the opening slot on Miley Cyrus' Bangerz tour Down Under.

Bizarrely, the gig didn't come from the screen stars desire to work with the 21-year-old Wrecking Ball singer.


She instead had intentions of working with another controversial songstress, telling the publication: 'I asked Miley if she could put us in touch with Lily Allen because we wanted to get on her tour.'

Twenty-nine-year-old Lily supported the former Disney poster child on her US leg of the Bangerz tour earlier this year.

The request turned into a job offer after Miley said 'she would do it' but wanted Lolawolf to open for her in Oz as a trade off.

Zoe accepted the offer and is currently in Australia for the action packed concerts, which of course involve twerking.

It looks like the deal paid off with Lolawolf performing alongside Lily earlier this month in Portland, America.


Clearly excited by the experience, the bands front woman took to Instagram to share a shot of her cuddling up to the Smile singer two weeks ago.

She took to the social media app again on Sunday to upload a polaroid image of the pair, writing: '@lilyallen, miss you already!'

On Friday Zoe took to the stage at Miley's Sydney concert at Allphones Arena with Lolawolf, which also consists of James Levy and Jimmy Giaonnopoulus.

After that gig the trio headed to the Oxford Art Factory where Zoe showed off her dance moves in a white T-shirt and black short shorts.

The intimate crowd responded well, cheering on the American-born star as she swayed from side to side.


Zoe is the daughter of Grammy Award winning artist Lenny Kravitz and actress Lisa Bonet, who separated in 1993.

Over the years the rising star has proved she's not just another pretty face by scoring various roles in big budget movies.

She starred in the 2011 film X-Men: First Class as mutant Angel alongside Jennifer Lawrence.

Extending her already lengthy resume, Zoe then appeared in M. Night Shyamalan's After Earth with Will Smith and 2014 action fiction flick Divergent.

She's set to appear in the sequel Insurgent as well as Mad Max: Fury Road in 2015.


(More info: one shoulder wedding dress)



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Friday Freeday: The Darling Massacre

  Posted by DebsBlueRoses in The Writer Ambitious, 17 October 2014 · 31 views

That would make a great title for a book, no?

Last night, I cut a minor chase scene that had been a piece of a dream I had the night I dreamed up the inciting incident of my fantasy WIP The Crystal Bearer. I'm not okay.

Unfortunately, it just didn't fit anymore. I used it to showcase a portion of Ghuli's power, but she does it again later, so I'm half okay with not using it. I need to figure out if I need to show her doing it against her will, though, because she wasn't able to control her powers at this point.

This cut comes during a time where I had also just told a friend, who was adapting a story from an RP in which she and a friend participated, that they're going to think everything is important to the story because of how close they are to it. I introduced them to the inevitable and painful term, "kill your darlings." So of course, I have to take my own advice. But *blubbers in my head* I loved that scene.

On the bright side, I do have another story where it will fit nicely. In my dream, I ended up jumping out of a window to safety (and catching a ride on a white tiger, which was normal for my dreams lol), but in this other story, I needed a character to fall from somewhere somehow, so at least I'll see that scene again.

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QUITE THE QUERY with Mary Elizabeth Summer and TRUST ME, I’M LYING

  Posted by Amy Trueblood in Chasing The Crazies , 17 October 2014 · 69 views

    If you ask any writer about the process of connecting with their agent (or publisher), the majority will say the most difficult part was querying. Not only the actual process of sending out the letters/emails, but formulating the query itself. In fact, I’ve heard more than a few writers say writing their query […]

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Query Questions with Jen Karsbaek

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs in Michelle4Laughs: It's in the Details, 17 October 2014 · 48 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.


While you're waiting on the results for Nightmare on Query Street, what better substitute than an interview with one of the agents? Jen Karsbaek is here from the newly renamed Fuse Literary Agency

Is there a better or worse time of year to query?
We typically close to queries in December, but otherwise have at it! If things are busy when you query it may take me a bit longer to get to you, but if you wait you’re just going to be further down the list when I do get back to queries.

Do you look at sample pages without fail or only if the query is strong?
I generally look at the sample pages, but if a query is particularly weak and/or is not strong and not in a genre I typically represent I will skip the sample pages.

Do you have an assistant or intern go through your queries first or do you check all of them?
My assistant primarily helps me prioritize full manuscripts and gives a second eye for editing, I currently look at all of my queries myself.

If the manuscript has a prologue, do you want it included with the sample pages?
The sample pages should start where your story starts. If you feel the manuscript is better served by starting the sample pages after the prologue that should probably tell you something about your prologue.

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?
If I see a query that I think someone else in my agency would like I will tell the writer to query that other agent. You can always query more than one Fuse agent, as long as you only query one at a time.

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?
Word count is not necessarily a red flag, but I do want to see it. Not including the genre of your work usually is a red flag, though. Often it makes it appear that you don’t know what the genre is.

Should writers sweat the title of their book (and character names) or is that something that is often changed by publishers?
There’s a decent chance your title will get changed, but you should still sweat it. A really good (or really bad) title will sometimes have me skipping straight to your query from my query box.

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?
Those are totally fine in an email signature. Great, even, because if I am considering offering representation then you’ve given me more of the information I need to make that decision. Honestly, I think you can even include one or two links in the last line of your bio in your query “I blog about XYZ at www.myblog.com.”

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

 What bio should an author with no publishing credits include?
Whether or not you have publishing credits I want your bio to tell me why you are the person to write this book.
  
Do you consider yourself a hands-on, editorial type of agent?
I am fairly editorial, although I like to start with things that are relatively polished to begin with.

What three things are at the top of your submission wish list?
A fresh story with flappers, preferably set in Chicago; an amazing book club read; books with GLBTQ characters.

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Jen Karsbaek joined first Larsen Pomada Literary Agency, then Fuse Literary Agency in 2013.
Jen is aggressively looking to build her list with women’s fiction, upmarket commercial fiction, historical fiction, and literary fiction. She looks for books with particularly well-developed characters and strong authorial voice. In historical in particular she is interested in books that bring the setting to life and maintain balance between historical accuracy and strong plot choices. She is also interested in mystery, fantasy, and occasionally romance approaches to any of the genres listed above. She is not looking for YA or anything that is primarily fantasy, romance, or science fiction.



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Fats Henry’s Power of Old by Nick Warren

  Posted by Professor VJ Duke in The Punchy Lands!, 16 October 2014 · 240 views

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It is rumored that Fats Henry was, a very long time ago, exceedingly powerful. In those days, the general populous of the Punchy Lands was unaware of the Punchy influence about them, and Fats Henry drifted about on his island mysteriously using powers he now seems to lack.

One of the main witnesses of this is Manly-Man. Back before he became ‘manly’. He claims that not even the esteemed Mr. Magi would stand up to Fats Henry. That was how Manly-Man and Mr. Magi first met—they were running from Henry. Manly-Man claims that Henry was flying or floating through the air at them, while they pedaled away on some strange machine Mr. Magi has been known to use.

Personally, I believe that Fats Henry was using his blimp, but I’m not sure. The fact that Mr. Magi and Manly-Man were running from him shows that things were different then.

Now, as to what happened to this power and where it came from, I had to do some serious digging. Manly-Man wouldn’t tell me, and Mr. Magi forgot that this had ever happened. Henry’s once existent power is not a well-documented fact in the PL.

I actually believe they’ve [i.e. PL'ers] forgotten all about it.

So, since I couldn’t go to Mr. Magi for this bit of history, and Manly-Man wouldn’t tell me, both of my main historical witnesses were out of the question. I took the risk and went to the Punchy Cave.

I have to say, that Kirk and his brood did not receive me very well, but I was able to talk my way into an audience with the great Punchy Murdoch. Yes…Punchy Murdoch—who is a spitting image of Kirk with a beard. That’s a different story.

It took a while, but I managed to get some answers out of ‘Punchy Murdoch’, though it was convoluted. I can’t remember it in its entirety, because it was so weird, but what it boiled down to was: Fats Henry had gained his power from Punchy jewels. Jewels of power.

They are not well documented and many rumors surround them. No one knows much about or where they are, if they even exist. That’s another research topic for another time.

I asked Murdoch what happened to the jewels, and why Henry lost them.

He took out a knife that looks like Kirk’s dirk and began to plant it in the table. I took the hint and scrambed.

So, best guess of what happened to Fats Henry’s power: Kirk and the Punchies ganged up on him and took their jewels back.




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Exactly about Sports Gambling Traces

Posted by haiiroe in haiiroe's Blog, 16 October 2014 · 42 views

Individuals who have recently been followers regarding sports would certainly are planning to help make the ability regarding observing the particular game titles a lot more advantageous. Quite often, they are going to check into the particular sports gambling traces for your newest media in terms of their particular clubs and also participants. Getting up to date will be everything that is made for these. At times, if they are misplaced inside the dialogue of these close friends, they might lookup the net when they go back home. The net is a superb destination for a remain up to outlet sale date in terms of sports. It is possible to head to legitimate sporting activities sites and even the state internet site with the clubs to learn just what they are carrying out. When you can find virtually any revelations in regards to the method or perhaps the particular enjoy, there exists a possibility you will initial examine that right now there. It really is really great to stay the particular realize regarding existing activities, specifically if it is in regards to the sports activity you adore.

Folks can question an individual regarding media and will also be capable of offer that in their mind. Sports gambling traces are usually constantly available in order to guess normally when you need. Way more, you can even guess although game titles remain continuous. Contact friends and family to assist you using this to enable you to determine correctly.

Which is aware, friends and family furthermore desire to guess. The harder gamble, themerrier. When possible, an individual also also can separated the particular payout between her and also head out to get a handle. That is one thing you may not arrive at carry out each day. Besides gambling, you can even make an effort to study about making the gambling a lot more successful. Folks will get trapped with all the current pleasure at times in which they cannot also look at the probabilities should they can acquire or perhaps not necessarily. Provided that they will guess, which is that for the kids. They should be mindful also, due to the fact gambling also can result in these several problems making use of their funds occasionally. Sports gambling traces are usually definitely the following to keep. They've got produced any indicate inside the lifestyles of men and women as well as the sporting activities planet at the same time. Remember to own entertaining observing the particular game titles and possess several helpful gamble together with several the best close friends. In case an individual drop, usually do not sense negative. Right now there can constantly appear an occasion which you will have to become around the shedding conclusion. Which is aware, within your subsequent guess, you may come out the winner following your extended hold out. More visit http://outletsalecheap.wordpress.com/

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Concept: Why my novel probably won't get published

Posted by Selene Bell in Confessions of a Binge Reader, 15 October 2014 · 64 views

When writers are writing—our early manuscripts at least—I think we have this voice in our head that says, “People are going to go mad over this book! Agents and editors will fight to get it! And it’s going to be a best-seller and inspire nightmares and create world peace!” Then you write a query and send it out, and the rejections roll in. And by you, I mean me, of course. It makes me scratch my head. Lots of people who read my book really like it, and I’m not talking only friends and family. But what agents say is: “Wren has a great voice, but… ” “If you rewrite to make it not a monster story, we’d love to take another look.” “This is really good but the genre’s not selling.” “Send me your next work please.”

And for real, I love this MS. It’s trumps like sliced cinnamon bread, you know? But I also kind of want to put it on a ship, set it on fire and shove it far, far away. So I don’t have to deal with the fact that these 63,000 words I crafted are likely not going to find a home outside my hard drive. People aren’t going to get to read Wren and struggle with her and figure out her world. And I feel bad for them—and bad for me.

And it’s worse because when you (I) start getting out in the writing community and reading what other people have, I see how parts of my story don’t stand out. I see how if you turn it to a 145-degree angle, wrench it in half and scrub off the skin, people can get vampire redux—even though I NEVER conceived of that as I created. (And even though there’s no blood or traditional vampire anything.) I thought I had something unique, but maybe what I really have is a mythology that’s shades of different but not really different enough. That’s hard to recognize and ridiculously difficult to own up to.

So what I want to talk about today is concept. Specifically the kind of concept that goes in the hook of a query. And not just the hook that’s a catchy intro to your book, but a hook that tells agents why your book isn’t what they’ve seen before. Concept, the kind with a capital C.


Why concept is important
My query has gone through several iterations. The first version I thought was good enough to send out started like this: “Seventeen-year-old foster kid Wren Buttles has to decide if it’s better to live as a fiend or die as a human.”

So okay, interesting enough on its own, but how many queries are sent out every year that say the same thing? Not exactly the same thing, mind you, but essentially pose the same dilemma. If you spend time on websites like Agent Query Connect, where aspiring authors post their queries for feedback, you start to see themes. For an even starker look at how many books people are pitching in your (my) genre take a spin through a #pitmad contest on Twitter. (They’re generally held quarterly.)

Participating in that real pitch madness was an eye-opening experience. If I was feeling motivated, I’d comb through the last go-round and count up the percentage of YA paranormal. (But it’s not one of those kinds of days.) Suffice to say, the majority. YA of all kinds, the VAST majority. The pitches that stand out are not the best YA paranormal. No matter how well executed, it’s hard to poke your head up above the flood.

By the time I did #pitmad, I had already gotten enough rejections to know my query needed a new angle. The new hook I went with: “Lots of leading ladies swoon for an alpha male who’s dangerous and sexy, especially when he covets her and he’s more than human. But in my YA novel LITTLE BIRD, BROKEN MONSTER, the girl doesn’t fall in love back.” That’s Concept, and I got multiple requests from agents to see the full manuscript.

And then I got rejections of those fulls—many very nicely stated. There’s just no getting around the fact that this book—no matter how many interesting elements or Wren and her cool voice or the sympathetic evil monster girl or the plot twists and nuanced side characters or the unique story structure, ahem, shutting up now—this book is still a YA paranormal in a saturated market. And for an agent who’s looking to sign the very best thing she sees this year, my book is not going to be it. Because even though I can say it has “Concept”—I might be able to come up with more than one Concept because it’s a multi-layered story—it’s still a classic teenage horror story built around monsters.

On one hand, people say there are no new story ideas. On the other, I say that’s bullshit. People come up with new stuff all the time, especially in YA, and you know it as well as I do because you know their names. J.K. Rowling. Suzanne Collins. Veronica Roth. Holly Black. Stephen King’s done it a bunch of times. You (I) don’t have to be them, but I do have to aim for something more with my next story. Something that makes that hook practically irresistible. Because sometimes it’s not enough to write a good character with honest emotions and an interesting story arc.

How to find a unique concept
It takes work, and it’s very likely not your first idea.

First, do research to see what’s out there.
• Surf query-feedback websites to learn what people are writing. Agent Query Connect isn’t the only one, but as it’s awesome and the people are typically respectful, smart and fun, I’ve never looked beyond it.
• Pitch contests on Twitter show you what people with completed manuscripts wrote about. The contests include PitMad and QueryKombat.
• Check out Publisher’s Weekly, which lists books that editors have purchased for future release. It also reviews upcoming or new releases. I plan to subscribe as soon as I can spare $50.
• Look at best-seller and new-releases lists to see what’s happening in your genre—but know, if those books are from traditional publishing houses, those are the manuscripts that sold about two years ago. (That $50 for PW isn’t sounding so bad now, huh?)

But keep in mind that you’re not looking to get inspired by other people’s ideas via this research. This is so you know what not to write, especially which tropes to avoid. As you become more and more familiar with this, you’ll start to be able to pick out the stories that have promise, and the ones that will catch an agent’s eye. Think of it as studying a slush pile.

Second, brainstorm—a lot. What ideas move you? What kinds of characters fascinate you? The breadth of potential plots mean you can fall in love with a character idea and still find a way to apply that to something you didn’t see in step No. 1. For example, capital punishment is an issue I feel strongly about. So if that’s the large idea I’m considering, my next question is how do I funnel that broad concept down to a single story idea that:

a.) means something
b.) makes me excited to write it
c.) has a plot that hasn’t been in a book or movie already
d.) changes the main character’s life.

Maybe I answer all these questions and find this isn’t the topic for me, in which case I start over. This will take time. It should take time. I’ll be honest, many of the books I've written were the result of an idea lightning-bolting me at some random time. Sometimes I went home and started writing right then, spending months working this single idea that came to me in one second and finishing with something that wouldn't stand out. You can see the imbalance. If you’re going to dedicate your precious time and brain power to a whole book, make sure the concept is worth all that effort. Maybe you get lucky and your lightning-struck concept rocks. I’ve heard that Suzanne Collins was watching TV, switching between a history-of-war show and a reality-TV kid pageant show or something when she got the idea for The Hunger Games. That’s awesome. That’s also not how things work for me.

Third, I say write some sample queries. For you pantsters, this doesn’t mean you have to decide the entire plot before you begin. What it will do is help you try out different angles to see what’s striking and attention catching, and what starts to sound like some of those other queries you read in step No. 1.

But it all boils down to love
I had a lot of fun writing my novel, and I’m ridiculously proud of it, even if it never sells. (I still think book-buyers would gobble it up, and maybe I’ll try to sell it again when the publishing world has circled back to the genre.) But I know I can be just as proud and just as intensely satisfied by my next novel. That's what writing is to me. I write because I need to create characters and craft stories, and each novel I invent has to be something that fires my imagination and excitement. I don't want to create and slave over a story I'm not in love with, and I wouldn't write one solely because I thought it would sell. But I'll tell you what, it's a whole lot nicer when you finish something that you think rocks and everyone else thinks it does, too.

Each of the manuscripts I’ve written has been a huge step up from the previous one, and I'm sure that's true for you as well. So I know my next (and your next) will be even better than Little Bird, Broken Monster (insert the title of your last work here). But you can bet my new one has a “Concept” no one's read before. Now I just have to get it done before someone else thinks of it…

www.selene-bell.com

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Cover image completed for Box of Rain

  Posted by Deb Borys in Debra R. Borys, 14 October 2014 · 30 views

We just completed the image to go on the front of the ebook and print versions of Box of Rain. I love it! Artwork by the wonderful Annie Walls. Ebook should be preorderable later this month and available for purchase … Continue reading

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Why Do You Write?

Posted by JordanTheNinja in JordanTheNinja's Blog, 14 October 2014 · 59 views

Motivation. It’s the driving force behind most of our actions. The desire to achieve something, to create something that’s ours that we can be proud of. I believe I started a topic with a similar title – Why do you write? Is it because there’s a story in your head you just cannot wait to write down? Is it because you need to pay the bills (although I’m told to seek other ventures of income; being a full time novelist is shaky when it comes to the areas of payment)? Is it because you have nothing else better to do?

As writers, we’re all unique. No one writer is the same, and therefore no one story is (mostly) the same. The beautiful thing about this is that we can express ourselves—our ideas, our emotions, our personality—through our writing. Since I know for a fact I’ll always be a writer, regardless of whether or not I hit it big and become a bestseller, I can at least have a solid reasoning for why I put myself through the madness of late night editing sessions, emotional fits of crying and manic laughter, and a plethora of things as I try to create this world and these characters to be as real to readers as they are to me.

So, I shall bring up the question yet again to all my fellow writers: why do you write? What is the motivating factor behind this madness? What gives you pleasure from putting yourself through the ups and downs and pain (now I’m making it sound like we’re sadist—oh boy) that come with being a writer?

For me, it’s wanting to be able to make the reader feel all the emotions those talented authors make me feel whenever I read them. Being able to pen characters and have themes that are inspirational to the people who read what I write. Being able to show that you can accomplish anything (even publishing a book) if you’re willing to put in the effort and have the determination. It’s my goal to inspire others through my writing. If I can do that, then I’ll be happy.

Now, back to you.

Why do you write?

-Jordan

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Manga Review: My Little Monster Vol. 3

  Posted by Sakura Eries in Sakura Eries' Blog: Keeping It In Canon …mostly, 14 October 2014 · 29 views

There’s the type of shojo manga where a girl really can envision herself as the heroine. And then there are those where the characters are constantly going off the deep end. My Little Monster falls into the latter category, and if your taste in high school romance leans toward the improbable and wacky, this title might be up your alley. Kodansha  has just released Volume 3 of the English translation, and you can read on for the review. (For my review of previous volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Haru confirms his love for Shizuku after a talk with the class rep, Chizuru Oshima (who also has feelings for Haru!). Meanwhile, confused and unsure, Shizuku decides to eliminate her feelings towards Haru in order to focus on her studies. Will Haru be able to change her mind? The school festival brings chaos and rivalries as personalities clash!

The Review

I had dismissed Haru’s no good “friends” (the four that had been taking money from him in Volume 1) as mob characters that would disappear once Haru got integrated into high school life. Well, I was wrong. They’re back and apparently getting increased airtime. Not only has Robico-sensei given them names, but their leader, Yamaken, gets a connection to the Yoshida brothers and Shizuku. We only get a hint of his relationship with the Yoshidas, which dates back to elementary school. As for Shizuku, improbable as it is, they’re classmates in the same cram school (they just never noticed each other in class until Chapter 10).

Robico-sensei seems like she’s trying to set Yamaken up as another romantic wrench in the Shizuku/Haru relationship. However, Yamaken makes an even weaker leg for a romantic triangle than Oshima. At least the shy class rep realizes she’s crushing on Haru, even if Haru can scarcely remember her name. With Shizuku and Yamaken, both would be the first to deny the existence of any kind of attraction between them so Yamaken’s inexplicable fascination with Shizuku seems forced. As such, Yamaken, like Oshima, mainly ends up as the catalyst for misunderstandings in Shizuku and Haru’s push-pull relationship.

Robico-sensei uses yet another popular manga setting, the high school festival, as an opportunity to throw all her misfits together (in fact, I think the entire cast makes an appearance in that arc). Predictably, Haru has his freak outs, and Shizuku gets punched by him (again), but readers can at least watch characters play out the chaos in their haunted house booth costumes.

Extras include bonus four-panel comics and sketches after each chapter, an afterword from the mangaka, and translation notes. I should note that the translation notes included two typos, although I’m not quite sure if they’re to make fun of Natsume’s error-riddled blog post.

In Summary

For a romantic comedy, there’s not a whole lot of chemistry brewing between our main couple. Robico-sensei increases the interest that Oshima and Yamaken have in Haru and Shizuku respectively, but with Haru/Shizuku/Shizuku’s studies remaining the predominant love triangle, these alternate pairings aren’t much to get excited about. Mostly, the involvement of these other characters serve to add to Shizuku’s and Haru’s emotional instability, and in the context of a school festival, it is entertaining.

First published at the Fandom Post.




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Skila Brown & Her Cover Designer Weigh In On CAMINAR & A Giveaway!

  Posted by bigblackcat97 in Writer, Writer Pants on Fire, 14 October 2014 · 30 views

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.<br /><div><br /></div><div>Today's guest is Skila Brown. Skila holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in Kentucky and Tennessee, lived for a bit in Guatemala, and now resides with her family in Indiana. <a href="https://www.goodread...rom_search=true" target="_blank">CAMINAR</a>, her first novel,&nbsp;was published March 25th by Candlewick.&nbsp;</div><div><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1384017211l/18166935.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="640" src="https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1384017211l/18166935.jpg" width="424" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><i>Set in 1981 Guatemala, a lyrical debut novel tells the powerful tale of a boy who must decide what it means to be a man during a time of war.</i></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><i><br /></i></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><i>Carlos knows that when the soldiers arrive with warnings about the Communist rebels, it is time to be a man and defend the village, keep everyone safe. But Mama tells him not yet—he’s still her quiet moonfaced boy. The soldiers laugh at the villagers, and before they move on, a neighbor is found dangling from a tree, a sign on his neck: Communist.</i></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><i><br /></i></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><i>Mama tells Carlos to run and hide, then try to find her. . . . Numb and alone, he must join a band of guerillas as they trek to the top of the mountain where Carlos’s abuela lives. Will he be in time, and brave enough, to warn them about the soldiers? What will he do then? A novel in verse inspired by actual events during Guatemala’s civil war, Caminar is the moving story of a boy who loses nearly everything before discovering who he really is.</i></div><br /><b>Did you have any pre-conceived notions about what you wanted your cover to look like?</b><br /><b><br /></b> Nope. I tried really hard not to picture anything at all. Mostly this is because when I did try to picture something, I always thought What in the world could you put on a cover? And that kind of freaked me out. (Will they decide at the last minute they can’t publish the book after all because no one can think of what the cover should look like?) Clearly I am not a visual person.<br /><br /><b>How far in advance from your pub date did you start talking covers with your house?</b><br /><b><br /></b> 10 months before my release date.<br /><br /><b>How was your cover revealed to you?</b><br /><br />My editor sent a copy of two different cover drafts that they were considering, both very different. She asked for my input. She kept me abreast of the conversations that were going on in-house. First they were leaning towards one cover, then it looked like they were going to go with the other, then at the end it was back to the first cover.<br /><br /><b>Did you have any input on your cover?</b><br /><br />Yes! I think anyone who is lucky enough to publish a book with Candlewick knows that means having a voice in all aspects of the process.<br /><br /><b>Was there an official "cover reveal" date for your art?</b><br /><br />Not that I know of. My editor mentioned trying to keep it off grid until about three months before release, but I saw it out there in internet-land before then. Though, I don’t think there was a “big reveal.”<br /><br /><b>Was it hard to keep it to yourself before the official release?</b><br /><br />Well, I cheated and sent it to people who matter a lot to me but not a lot to the internet book community (i.e. my dad, my sister, and my brother.) Also I might have cheated even more and sent it to my critique group. But they can keep a secret so I’ve decided they don’t count either.<br /><br /><b>What surprised you most about the process?</b><br /><br />The design itself was a huge surprise. Not only because I had no idea what it would look like, but also because it is so incredibly, deliciously, gorgeous that my eyes still can’t get enough of it. My friend (also a writer) said it best: “I want to wallpaper my house with that!” I had always hoped I would like my cover. I never expected to love it as much as I do. It has probably ruined all future book covers for me, because there’s no way my next book cover could ever be this stunning.<br /><br /><b>Any advice to other debut authors about how to handle cover art anxiety?</b><br /><br />I think it’s important to remember that we are writers. Most of us aren’t visual artists, and we’re not in the business of attracting readers to a book. Which translates to: the people who do this know what they’re doing. I think it’s great to weigh in with an opinion, and absolutely we should speak up if something about the cover is inaccurate, but otherwise I think the best advice I can give is to try not to think about it. Try not to have something you’re picturing in your head. Wait for the surprise. If you hate it for good reason, speak up. But otherwise, go with it. (Easy for me to say, right? I loved my cover!)<br /><br />In fact, Skila loved her cover so much, she sewed up some matching bookmarks. You can take a peek at those <a href="http://skilabrown.com/2014/09/photo-friday-20/" target="_blank">here</a>.<br /><br /><b>As a special treat the cover designer,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mattroeser.com/" target="_blank">Matt Roeser,</a>&nbsp;weighed in for the interview. What were the challenges of designing the cover for Caminar?</b><br /><b><br /></b> Since the book is in verse, I wanted to capture some of the beauty of Skila's poetry, but at the same time, hint at the horrific event that takes place. As I began thinking about designs, I kept coming back to a visual that stuck with me as I read the book; that of Carlos watching from the jungle as his village is burned. I tend not to like covers that have photographs of the protagonist on them, but instead try to create designs that are more graphic and abstract in nature. The pattern of the leaf shape seemed perfect for achieving this. Playing with bold pops of color such as orange and red mixed in with the greens of the jungle worked as symbolizing both flowers and embers of fire. Then, I slightly altered the leaf shape for his eyes so it still feels like part of the pattern. Probably the hardest part of designing the cover were those eyes, as I went through several iterations to get the right expression that hit between shock and sadness. Altogether, I think it achieves a good balance of being visually interesting and hinting at the darker elements of the story.<br /><br />And Candlewick is offering up a giveaway copy of CAMINAR! (U.S. only.) Enter in the Rafflecopter below! And educators, be sure to check out <a href="http://skilabrown.com/" target="_blank">Skila's site</a> where there are educator guides!<br /><br /><a class="rafl" href="http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/2071810b84/" id="rc-2071810b84" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway</a><br /><script src="//widget.rafflecopter.com/load.js"></script><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />

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OF MERMAIDS AND CENTAURS Query Critique

Posted by jadah in The Query Faerie, 13 October 2014 · 45 views

OF MERMAIDS AND CENTAURS Query Critique


Or


A Tale of, Er, Um, Mermaids and Centaurs?


Hey, hey, Lords and Ladies of the written word! Happy Monday to ye all. It’s been a while since I’ve done a query critique, and I have to say I am out of practice! Nothing better than taking a break from Doctor Who on a lazy, rainy Monday night to fire up the ole lasers.

I would like to make one announcement before we get down to business, if you’ll pardon the interruption. I’d just like to say that my short story, Letters to Jennifer, was published in this month’s edition of Blue Lake Review. It was inspired by a family member’s death this past summer, and it’s only 1,500 words, so I’d love if you took a moment to read it! You can find it at bluelakereview.weebly.com.

Anyway, enough of that!

Without further ado, off we go to Query Faerie land:

Original:

Dear Agent:

They were gods once. Gifted with magic and long life, thousands of Sapiens walked our world. But that which was, no longer is. And that which now is has only come to be because of their downfall.

I am Alexys Elizabeth Rothschild. Five ancient codices scribed in three lost languages, I was the key to unlocking their secrets. The translated result of my efforts is OF MERMAIDS AND CENTAURS.

Another world existed before the one you now know, but we humans in our native, virgin skin have been too blind to find it. We are so clever in so many ways, yet are clueless as to the true nature of our ‘myths’. Nearly everyone knows of grand creatures such as mystic Sapiens, Centaurs, Arachna Majora, Mermaids, and Gryphons, but know nothing of how they came to be, the lives they lived, their heroes and heroines, villains and villainesses, some obvious, most not, who ensured that each misstep of the East down a perilous staircase carved by the West brought Terra Australis ever closer to war.

A Mermaid Queen and Gryphon King seeking to dominate all, a Witch Queen hoping to break free the ‘mythical’ gem that is the Soul of Terra Australis from its haunted prison, and with it, unleash the ancient prophecy to transform all, a Centaur Chiron and Arachna King doing their best to withstand all; amidst this subtle chaos, a Centaur polymath named Adamarcus fights to keep the malice festering deep inside his forbidden love, Evagoria – young daughter of Queen Diedrika and the ‘Gift from Poseidon’ – from beating everyone to the punch and destroying all.

Script and hieroglyphs upon copper plates deciphered, a select few of us deserving enough to hear them gathered; I stand ready to tell the tale. Terra Australis at its peak – our story will begin but twenty years from its end. Will it begin without you? A simple, sweeping choice is now yours to make: Hurry with great haste to West Antarctica and embark on a great discovery or keep firm your blissful ignorance.

A completed historical fantasy at 297,000 words, OF MERMAIDS AND CENTAURS is a departure from most fantasy works. Similar to the movie TITANIC, the novel uses a present day timeline to set up the historical one. In addition, it introduces major characters with a variety of ethnicities such as Nubian, Huaxia, and Olmec. OF MERMAIDS AND CENTAURS is gender balanced and contains as many female as male characters.

Cordialement,

Dr. Alexys Elizabeth Rothschild
P.S. Please direct all correspondence to my liaison in the States, REDACTED


My critiques:

Dear Agent:

They were gods once. Gifted with magic and long life, thousands of Sapiens walked our world. But that which was, no longer is. And that which now is has only come to be because of their downfall.

Right away this is very vague. You’ll need a stronger hook to draw an agent in. This opener leads to a lot of questions, and not necessarily the good kind. Who were gods? What was? What is now? What downfall? This paragraph confuses more than it intrigues. You’re better off starting with specifics, such as the main character and introducing us to the conflict right away.

I am Alexys Elizabeth Rothschild. Five ancient codices scribed in three lost languages, I was the key to unlocking their secrets. The translated result of my efforts is OF MERMAIDS AND CENTAURS.

So, is Alexys the main character? First person queries can be done, but this doesn’t work for me. The main character talking to the reader feels a bit gimmicky. Also, this paragraph leads to more questions. Ancient codices? What secrets? Why is she the key? If OF MERMAIDS AND CENTAURS is what she’s transcribed, is this a book within a book? Bookception?

Another world existed before the one you now know, but we humans in our native, virgin skin have been too blind to find it. What purpose does this sentence serve? Does it introduce any plot to the reader? I’m keen to say that it doesn’t. Let me keep reading. We are so clever in so many ways, yet are clueless as to the true nature of our ‘myths’. Nearly everyone knows of grand creatures such as mystic Sapiens, Centaurs, Arachna Majora, Mermaids, and Gryphons, but know nothing of how they came to be, the lives they lived, their heroes and heroines, villains and villainesses, some obvious, most not, who ensured that each misstep of the East down a perilous staircase carved by the West brought Terra Australis ever closer to war.

Okay, now that I’ve read it I can say that whole entire paragraph is fluff. It’s unnecessary. It can be cut and I won’t miss it, and good thing too, because this query is heavy by about 100-150 words. That paragraph is cumbersome to read, and almost ambling. As in, if you read it to yourself, does it tell us anything about the plot? You used 100+ words to tell us mankind is clueless and name off a few races.

A Mermaid Queen and Gryphon King seeking to dominate all, a Witch Queen hoping to break free the ‘mythical’ gem that is the Soul of Terra Australis from its haunted prison, and with it, unleash the ancient prophecy to transform all, a Centaur Chiron and Arachna King doing their best to withstand all; amidst this subtle chaos, a Centaur polymath named Adamarcus fights to keep the malice festering deep inside his forbidden love, Evagoria – young daughter of Queen Diedrika and the ‘Gift from Poseidon’ – from beating everyone to the punch and destroying all.

This is information overload. I forgot it as soon as I read it. It’s a general rule to mention no more than three characters to avoid turning a query into character soup. It seems like you’re naming off all the characters of the book…without even giving them names. Who are these people? How will I know which ones are the MOST important? There is a hint of plot in this paragraph: a witch queen breaking free a gem from a haunted prison. But for what? What’s the plot here?

Script and hieroglyphs upon copper plates deciphered, a select few of us deserving enough to hear them gathered; I stand ready to tell the tale. Terra Australis at its peak – our story will begin but twenty years from its end. Will it begin without you? A simple, sweeping choice is now yours to make: Hurry with great haste to West Antarctica and embark on a great discovery or keep firm your blissful ignorance.

Please cut that entire paragraph. It doesn’t make any sense to me and adds nothing to the query.

A completed Is this adult, YA, MG, etc? historical fantasy at 297,000 Holy Jesus. You do realize that’s three long novels, right? And by reading the query, I’d imagine a good one third of it could be pared away. words, OF MERMAIDS AND CENTAURS is a departure from most fantasy works. Similar to the movie TITANIC, It’s not really typical or advised to use a movie as a comparison for a novel. the novel uses a present day timeline to set up the historical one. In addition, it introduces major characters with a variety of ethnicities such as Nubian, Huaxia, and Olmec. OF MERMAIDS AND CENTAURS is gender balanced and contains as many female as male characters. Pointing out the balance of ethnicities and ratio of men to women character seems like a really strange thing to showcase. They’re interested in the merit of the plot and writing, not the balance of men to women.

Cordialement,

Dr. Alexys Elizabeth Rothschild
P.S. Please direct all correspondence to my liaison in the States, REDACTED

By your closing I can now tell that you’ve written the entire query in the first person POV of your main character. I encourage you not to do this. In some cases it does work, but not this case. This reads as gimmicky.

I’ve read approximately 400 words and I have no idea where the plot is in these 300,000 words. Let me take a moment to comment on the word count. Novels with high word counts like this need to be spectacular, especially for a breakout novel. I’ll tell you why. More words means more ink and paper. More ink and paper means it costs more money to print the novel. Being published is already an exception to the rule. Don’t try to make yourself an exception to the exception to the rule.

I’d say you’re better off starting over and telling me 1) Who the main character is 2) What the main character wants 3) What stands in the MC’s way 4) What must the MC do to overcome that obstacle, and 5) What are the stakes for the MC if they cannot overcome it? This last one is very important. Why should I care about this person? Why should I read THEIR story when there are millions of other stories I could read?

From reading the query it seems like the story may focus around several story arcs, several characters. Pick a similar BOOK to use as a comparison.

Hope this has helped, and feel free to contact me with any questions.


Love,
The Query Faerie

P.S. Damn folks, I still got it! ;)

Thanks for reading!

Follow me on Twitter: @TheQueryFaerie
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Tribute to My Father

  Posted by LucidDreamer in LucidDreamer's Blog, 13 October 2014 · 32 views

I haven’t been posting much — life has gotten in the way and made me focus on some things rather more essential than blogging. The truth is, my dad passed away on Sept. 29th. This was not unexpected, as his health had been declining over the last few years, and he had been moved to […]

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5 Tips for Fleshing it Out

  Posted by From The Write Angle in From The Write Angle Blog, 13 October 2014 · 30 views

by Jemi Fraser

Last month, my post talked about 5 Tips to Trim Your Writing. This month, I'm tackling the opposite. With my current rewrite, I attempted to plot (kaboom!) and ended up with a shorter story than I expected (15k shorter).

So, now I'm focusing on how to flesh out a story without padding it. Some of the things I've discovered:

Fleshing it Out Tip #1 -- Emotions

This one I'm having a blast with. I write contemporary romance, so it's all about the emotion, but I think that's true for most stories. It's the emotions that pull me in and make me gobble up those pages, no matter what the genre is.

Delving into the character's emotions helps the reader connect and makes the writing much more interesting. For me, plot is obviously important, but it's how the characters respond to the plot that intrigues me. So, show that!

Fleshing it Out Tip #2 -- Show, Don't Tell

Another fun one, and very connected to #1. Telling removes the emotion. Wasn't it Mark Twain who said, "Don't tell me the old lady screamed, bring her on stage and let her scream"? Looking for those telling words/sentences in the draft helps me find places I can strengthen my story and make it longer/more compelling at the same time.

Fleshing it Out Tip #3 -- Dialogue

Connected to #2! I love dialogue and tend to include a lot of it in my writing naturally, but there are still places I find where I can have my characters really showing...by telling. Dialogue infuses the story with life and lets the readers hear your characters talking. It also gives the reader a visual--and mental--break from narration, thus increasing the pace of your story.

Fleshing it Out Tip #4 -- Description

Blech. I'm not an especially visual person or writer. My descriptions tend to be focused around the emotions of the characters. And I'm not a fan of reading paragraphs of description either, so I tread very, very carefully when I do this.

For people, I sprinkle in the description. A mention of hair colour by another character here, a comment about height there. Nothing obvious, certainly no looking in the mirror and offering up a self-evaluation. For example, rather than saying my character is short, I'll have her drag a chair over to reach something off a high shelf.

For places, I don't mind stringing a sentence or two together to anchor the reader in the setting, especially when it's a new place. I try to focus on what the character would notice, and only on what is relevant to the story.

I'd rather leave most description up to my readers, but I'm learning I need to include those anchors and let the readers fill in the rest.

Fleshing it Out Tip #5 -- Character Arcs

This one is more complex than the first four. Here, I'm looking for the pace of how my characters are growing. I want them to slowly learn to change, have strategically placed AHA! moments, and obstacles tossed in their paths to have them second guessing their realizations. This is another instance where I find Scrivener invaluable. I can colour code, or use the side bar, or make another file to put side by side in order to track the arcs. Then I can spot where the arc needs some help, tweak a scene here, add a scene there, throw in another obstacle, or three.

There are many more ways to flesh out a story (adding in a subplot and looking for plot holes to fill in come to mind), but these are the 5 I'm working with. Any tips to add? Do you like fleshing it out or do you prefer to trim?

Jemi Fraser is an aspiring author of contemporary romance. She blogs  and tweets while searching for those HEAs.




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Lessons from George Bailey

  Posted by Joe Stephens in My Train of Thought, 12 October 2014 · 30 views


One of my favorite movies of all time is It's a Wonderful Life. I love it for a lot of reasons, including that it stars Jimmy Stewart, one of the great treasures of Hollywood. Additionally, the message of true riches not being found in a bank account is such a beautiful theme that, I must admit, was lost on me for a long time.


There's a pivotal scene in which Jimmy Stewart's George Bailey and Mary Hatch (eventually Mary Bailey), played by Donna Reed in the best role of her career, are going home from a dance in which everyone falls in the pool when the dance floor atop it is opened. They're dressed ridiculously in whatever dry clothes they could find and singing, loudly and off key. At one point, things get quite serious and it seems like he's going to kiss her for the first time, but he falters. From a nearby porch, an old man who's been watching the scene in silence asks if he's ever going to kiss her instead of talking her to death. George says, "You want me to kiss her, huh?" The old man's reply is perfection: "Awww, youth is wasted on the wrong people!"

I've always adored that line, even when I was young and didn't fully understand why it was so apt. Now that I'm getting older, it makes more sense than it ever did before. I realize now that there's a major irony of life when it comes to what we want when we're young and what we want when we get older.

When I was younger, I wanted so much. New cars, a big house, a camper, vacations, a boat--so many toys! But I had no money. This was partly because I spent too much on little things that didn't matter, like going out to eat instead of cooking at home, and new computers and new cars that I really couldn't afford, although they weren't the new cars I really wanted. But it was also partly because I just didn't make as much money as I do now that I've been at my job a long time and have come close to maximizing my earning potential in my chosen field.

So now I'm still not rich, but I make so much more money than I did when I was younger. I'm nearly debt free, soon to be completely debt free if I'm careful, so I could probably soon afford some of those toys I so longed for when I was young. Now comes the ironic part: I don't really care about them anymore. A new car? Ellie, my aging beauty, is fine with me. We know each other. Boats? Campers? Lots of time and effort for too little enjoyment. A big house? Big bills, big time cleaning and maintaining. No thanks.

What do I want? Mostly things that don't cost much. God, friends, family, good health, love, and laughter. I want to be comfortable, but a cozy little house or even a small apartment would meet my needs. A quiet place to read, pray, write, cook (now that I could probably afford to eat out a little more, I love nothing more than to cook a nice pot of chili and eat at home), and spend time with people I love is plenty for me.

Sure, vacations are still nice, but the parts I love about them are the times spent with family and friends, not the exotic destination. Though I will admit that I am never more content than when looking out at the ocean, I can't imagine I would feel the same if I didn't have loved ones with me there to enjoy it.

This Christmas when It's a Wonderful Life comes on, I'll watch it again, like I do every year. And I'll love every minute of it--even the part where the daft Uncle Billy loses the money. But when that old man makes his declaration, his words will make more sense to me than ever before.

In case you want to see it, here's the scene in question:




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Surreal For-real

  Posted by mlebleek in Bleeker Street, 05 October 2014 · 33 views

The day before I left for vacation with my family to Disney World I received an email from my editor with my copy-edits, due two days after the end of our vacation. This meant I either got to mush all my edits into two days (there were almost 3,000 edits soooo that wasn’t going to happen) or I needed to find time to work on the copy-edits at night and early in the morning DURING vacation while the kids were sleeping. No biggie. I actually enjoyed the quiet time every night and morning, rereading WRECKAGE for what I calculated was the 27th time.

Vacation-quote

Then, one night as I typed along in my hotel room, kids snoring on either side of me, as I stumbled upon a fun surprise. WRECKAGE on Amazon. It’s already available for pre-order! WHAT?

I shared the news on my Facebook page and Twitter and over the past week my friends, family and even some new readers have taken the plunge to pre-order. And that, my friends, is when it got real. All this work, all the time and effort into writing the story, revising, editing, querying, submitting, editing again and again and now, in a few short months, people are going to read this thing!

Soon after returning from my trip I was introduced to my Lake Union author team. They’ll be helping me through the next phase in the publishing process. My wonderful author’s relations manager already emailed me about personalizing my Amazon author page and filling out a questionnaire for the audiobook. Wait, let me say that again *clears throat*. The AUDIOBOOK. Ah! See what I mean?

I know there will be a lot more of these times ahead of me. They make me nervous and excited at the same time. There is still work to be done on this book and plenty of books still to be written but I’ve decided to just enjoy these “it’s really happening” moments as they come because they are awesome. Really awesome.

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The Gathering of Wits and Nerves

  Posted by RC Lewis in R.C. Lewis, 04 October 2014 · 56 views

<p>A long time away from blogging, a lot of excuses. Last school year was tough—emotionally exhausting and stressful. It was hard to come up with anything to say that wasn’t venting, and no one needs that.</p>
<p>Then the momentum was gone. Still not sure I had anything to say.</p>
<p>Things happened, though. I survived the school year. I lost my editor as she got an amazing-awesome job at another house. (For those keeping count, this is <a href="http://www.fromthewr...publishing.html" target="_blank">the second time this has happened to me</a>. Editors should flock to me if they want promotions.)</p>
<p>I also went to Las Vegas for the American Library Association (ALA) annual conference and signed ARCs—my first-ever author event! Look, here’s proof:</p>
<div id="attachment_421" style="width: 310px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="http://rclewisbooks....12398831901.jpg"><img class="size-medium wp-image-421" src="http://rclewisbooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/ALA-signing-e1412398831901-300x225.jpg" alt="Me and my signing buddy, fellow Hyperion author Melissa Landers" width="300" height="225" /></a><p class="wp-caption-text">Me and my signing buddy, fellow Hyperion author (of awesome!) Melissa Landers</p></div>
<p>I’m advising student council at my school for the first time ever, and I also went to a leadership conference with most of the kids over the summer. Lots of fun there.</p>
<p>Now the school year has started … well, actually, we’re almost through the first quarter. My classes feel more balanced for the most part, and I’m making things up as I go with student council. Generally, I feel like I have a better grip on things.</p>
<p>Well, except for the fact that my debut novel launches in ten days. Not sure I’m gripping that just yet. I keep expecting it to feel more real, but it doesn’t quite yet. Not even with a hardcover in my hands:</p>
<div id="attachment_423" style="width: 235px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="http://rclewisbooks....W-hardcover.jpg"><img class="size-medium wp-image-423" src="http://rclewisbooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/SNOW-hardcover-225x300.jpg" alt="It even FEELS pretty." width="225" height="300" /></a><p class="wp-caption-text">It even FEELS pretty.</p></div>
<p>Maybe it’ll feel real when I’m standing in front of people, talking about it at the launch party. (If I don’t pass out and/or run screaming from the venue.) Or maybe when I see it stocked on shelves at the bookstore.</p>
<p>Maybe the rational, logical side of me took charge of this and accepted it as “real” ages ago, and that’s why I’m not noticing a difference. Maybe two years of students saying, “You wrote a BOOK??” helped it sink in. (If so, thanks, kids!)</p>
<p>So now it’s time for me to pull together. To gather my nerves for everything happening around the launch, and to hopefully gather my wits and come up with a few things worth sharing here now and then.</p>
<p>Wish me luck. <img src="http://rclewisbooks..../icon_smile.gif" alt=":)" class="wp-smiley" /></p>
<p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="http://rclewisbooks....ng-wits-nerves/">The Gathering of Wits and Nerves</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="http://rclewisbooks.com">R.C. Lewis</a>.</p>

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