Monday, October 31, 2011

A Dancer And An Axe Murderer

I love this fantastic (and hilarious) advice about learning to balance drafting and revision in this excellent article The Seven Habits of Successful Writers:

(c) liakapelke (Not Pictured: Axe Murderer)

"Nurture your inner schizophrenic. When you have written a draft of your story and it’s time to revise, you have to be able to look at it with a cold eye and take the ax to it as needed. . .You’re actually not one person, but two: a dancer and an ax murderer. Love both of these people who live in your brain, but keep them apart."

In other words, allow yourself to be unfettered and creative during your first draft. Don't get into editor mode until it's time to edit.

This is brilliant advice.

So write away, my friends--and keep those axe murderers and dancers separate!

Other news!!

I was interviewed on Kindle Author a couple of days ago and forgot to post it before now. Check it out and maybe leave me a comment? I've also added it to the reviews and interviews tab.

Hope everybody has a happy and safe Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things

Some things just inspire me to to tell stories.


(c) Tony Crescibene
Glass Houses

(c) xlibber
 Old Statues

(c) Oh Paris
Snow-Covered Bridges

(c) hozinja


(c) kilgarron
Mossy Rocks

(c) frumbert
Wild Skies

(c) Brian Uhreen

What things inspire you?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Where Do You Read?

Right now in Georgia the weather is perfect for reading. The air is slightly cool and just crisp enough to remind me of a fresh apple. Leaves are trickling down from the sky like ticker tape, and the sunlight slants just so through my windows and makes patterns on the floors of every room.
(c) Andrea_44

In other words, FALL.

I find myself more eager to read (and write) in the fall. There's something in the air, a kind of energy that I can't quite describe or even fully understand. It gets into my blood and makes me hungry for stories. I've been spending a lot of time curled up on (or in!) my bed, snuggled up with a book and dreaming of other worlds.

Do you have a favorite place to read? Writers, do you have a favorite place to write?

Mine, for both, is in bed no matter what time of day it is.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Welcome to the Internet Book Fair Blogfest 2011!!

Aloha readers, friends, and book browsers, and welcome to the Internet Book Fair Blogfest, or IBFB (I am tired of typing it out, lol)!

I hope you enjoy your browsing experience today. I know I have so far, and I'm not even CLOSE to done looking.

Without further ado, let me introduce my corner of this fine book fair...

 The Curse Girl ~ a YA paranormal/fantasy

What readers are saying:

"I stayed up till 3 in the morning to finish this book and then wanted to read it again as soon as I was done! I loved everything about this book--the heroine, the Beast, the magical elements, mystery and delightful romance." ~J. Jane, reader

"I bought this on impulse ... I'm SO glad I bought it and I loved the book." ~ Stacey Joy Netzel, reader/author

“This book has a little bit of everything in it and I absolutely loved it! There is the mystery of the riddle, intrigue, good vs. evil, love, betrayal, and no small amount of fantasy.” ~ The Caffeinated Diva review


When Bee is imprisoned in a magical, cursed house because of her father's selfish choices, she has just one plan... escape! But she must solve a riddle and help her fellow prisoners break the curse that binds them all before she can leave, and that is proving more difficult than she originally thought thanks to the bitter young master of the house, Will.

Will wants nothing to do with Bee or her help (and he certainly isn't planning on falling in love with her), but he might have underestimated just how determined and clever--and irresistible--she can be.

A Super-short Excerpt!!!

He raked his gaze over me once. I felt like a package that had come in the mail, one in which the contents had turned out to be a slight disappointment.

“So you’re the Curse Girl,” he said finally, after a long pause. “The words of the curse spoke about a girl called Beauty, but I thought the line meant a beautiful girl.”

You can buy The Curse Girl for $2.99 at:


But wait, there's more!

My newest book is a collection of linked short stories, Once Upon a Beanstalk. Think fairy tales with a dash of whimsey and a sprinkling of snark!

What readers are saying:

"If you like Shrek or any kind of fairy-tale mash-up, you'll enjoy this book. It's a quick read - I read it in one sitting. I love how the stories (there are three of them, the second one my favorite) blend together via reoccurring characters so you never feel you have to reboot, like you do with some short story collections." ~ J. Teekell


In this humorous collection of fairy tale mashups combining modern day technology with fairy tale sensibilities, Rumpelstiltskin and Red Riding Hood are married and running a royal wedding planner venue, Rapunzel has been rescued from her tower and is about to start her happily ever after, and the Grimm Brothers are a group of notorious thieves who are forced to rescue a kidnapped princess in order to avoid execution.

A Super-short Excerpt!!

Nobody had thought Penelope would be capable of much when she’d first started with the police force (since she was technically a princess and all) but she’d proved everyone wrong. She was the best undercover agent they had now. Just last week she’d broken up a corrupt fairy godmother crime ring that was scamming hopeful girls into arrangements that were supposed to let them fall in love with princes. 

Penelope wondered—how many princes did people think were wandering around the kingdom, looking for love with every girl who lost a shoe in front of them?

You can buy Once Upon a Beanstalk for $0.99 at:


And lastly, here's a few of my fellow IBFBers whose selections I've browsed and found intriguing (so far):

The Weaver by Kai Strand

Chronicles of Caleath by Rosalie Skinner

Silent No More by Krista K. Hatch

Happy reading, and enjoy the rest of the Internet Book Fair Blogfest!!

Tomorrow: Internet Book Fair Blogfest

Did your elementary school ever have book fairs? Mine did, and I looooooved them--first we'd get a catalog with all the books displayed in tempting rows for us to drool over. I'd pour over the descriptions and circle my favorites, and I'd place an order far in advance.

(c) Horia Varlan
When the books finally came in, we'd get a few hours off to go and browse in the library where all the glossy new books were piled on long tables and displayed on little racks and stands. Everyone picked up their orders, but there were plenty of other books to handle and hold until you just had to buy them too. Temptation, I tell you. Anyway, I always wanted to buy everything on the tables (but usually ended up having an allotted fund for 2 or 3, sadly).

Tomorrow, a bunch of authors are taking part in an internet book fair. And while I can't bring anybody the experience of smelling fresh book pages or stroking a sleek cover through the screen, there will be books to browse! On this blog, I will be offering cover pics, a summary, an excerpt, blurbs, and some links to reviews for The Curse Girl. And of course I'll have links to the book fair main, where you can find the rest of the authors participating.

So if you're a writer, you might want to jump on board (there's still room for you to participate), and if you're a reader, come and browse tomorrow.

At least this time around, my book fund is a little bigger. :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Are Your Friends or Family in Your Books?

I have this habit of reading TV recaps even though I don’t watch the shows (is this weird? I don’t even know if it’s weird). Anyway, apparently Gossip Girl had a storyline this week where Dan got a book published, and it got me thinking.

I’ve already seen several blog posts that discussed how unrealistic the whole “book acquisition process” was in that storyline. Which is to be expected—it’s TV. They get CPR wrong every time, too. But what snagged my interest was the fact that apparently Dan had based all his characters in the book on the people in the show—Blair, Serena, Chuck, etc. Naturally, drama resulted from this, because people were pissed about the way they’d been portrayed.

It got me thinking. I actually get asked somewhat frequently if I base my characters on real people. People ask me, “Am I in your book?” Or, "Do you write books about people you know?"

No, you're not. And I don't.

I don't write real people into my books. At least not all of real people.

To make an analogy—if writing a character was like drawing a picture, I might use my best friend’s ears, my mother’s nose, my sister’s hands, my own chin, Mona Lisa’s smile, and hair and eyes straight out of my imagination.

So a character might have my husband's tendency to be on time, my love of unicorns, and my mother's work ethic. My characters are mishmashes of people I know and people I observed in the store or met once or even simply dreamed up. And sometimes they're more influenced by fictional characters than real people (hello, Han Solo)!

I have multiple reasons for this. 

First, putting people you know into your novel seems like a bad idea (at least to me), especially if you have any deeply flawed characters who do bad stuff. 

But besides the potential damage to interpersonal relationships, trying to fit an already fully-formed individual into a book just doesn't make sense to me from a creative standpoint.

Maybe it's just the way I write.

See, 90% of the time I begin with a scene or the plot itself.  Then I ask myself, "What kind of person would get into this situation? What kind of person would act the way they need to act in order for the story to go the way I want it to go?" And there are so many nuances to that question, little quirks and facets to the character’s personality that will explain all these choices. It’s pretty unlikely that I would just plug my best friend into the story and have all her quirks and neuroses line up with the necessities of the plot like that.

Of course, plot and character are just two parts of the same rope. Plot affects character, but character also affects plot. I’ve had stories neatly planned out only to discover that my character wouldn’t do the thing they’re supposed to do in order to make the plot work, because by now that character has become a huge part of the story and the plot is beginning to shape itself around them.

But I digress...

So if I write a story about a girl with a mean sister, or a boorish cousin, or a hateful friend—I’m not writing about my own sister, cousin, or friend. 

 Writers, do you base your characters on people you know? Or do you make a mishmash of traits? Are your characters 100% fictional, even?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How To Be A Good Beta Reader

Good critique partners and beta readers are a must for any writer, aspiring or professional. If you have a writer friend, or if you're a writer yourself, chances are you'll find yourself in this role sooner or later. Want to be the best you can be? Here are some tips for ways to improve your beta reading/critiquing.

Be honest

You can't help the writer if you aren't being honest with them. Don't feel like you can't be critical--that's kind of the point! If something isn't working for you, say so. If you are bored during a chapter, say so. If you find the main character unlikable, say so. 

Be kind

Don't take the "I must be critical" advice in the wrong direction. You don't need to be all "Doctor House" here. Beta reading is not an opportunity for you to get your snarkfest on--not unless you specifically know that the writer will find this funny or helpful. If you derive some sense of satisfaction from ripping someone a new one, tap that crap down when critiquing. Be professional. Be kind. Be mindful that you are trying to be helpful--and being unnecessarily hurtful is not usually helpful.

Be specific

When you're being (helpfully and kindly) critical, don't simply say "I didn't like this chapter." Vague feedback is unhelpful feedback. You could have disliked any number of things, and the writer will have a hard time fixing something when she doesn't know where to start. Instead, say "I found the pace too sluggish" or "The dialogue in this chapter was unrealistic to me" or "When the main character complains all the time, I lose sympathy for her," etc. And then expand from there--give specific examples, and perhaps suggest some changes.

Offer both positive and negative feedback

Remember, your ultimate goal should be to help the writer. If you only succeed in discouraging the writer, you probably haven't helped them. Some crit partners fall into a "negativity rut" and only talk about what is wrong with the book or short story they are evaluating.

I like to say two positive things for every negative thing when I'm critiquing--it makes the negative things more palatable, and it helps keep the writer from becoming too discouraged in the fact of all the problems I may have found.

Don't try to make the book into something it's not

Remember that this isn't your book. Your goal is helping the writer, and that means encouraging and shaping their artistic vision for their project. If the book is a young adult paranormal thriller, don't suggest that the writer turn it into a contemplative, contemporary literary novel. Don't insist on making the book something you'd write. Your goal is to help the book be the best it can be as it is, not as you might make it if you were the writer.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Doing What You Love

My dad emailed me this speech by Steve Jobs this morning. I thought it was very inspiring, and I just wanted to share some portions of it:

"Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."

I think this can definitely apply to us writers in many forms. Don't settle when it comes to what you write, or who you write for, or who you team up with for publishing, or even whether or not you quit on your dream entirely.

Don't lose faith.

You can read the whole speech here.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Indie Rockstar?

Happy October, my favorite month!! *tosses confetti*

I was going to ask you all a question about business, but first, an impromptu celebration! The Curse Girl has been selected as one of this month's contestants for Indie Rockstar! (You can find out more about what that is here.)

It's basically a fun, community-organized way of showing support for your fellow authors, and I am delighted to have been included in this month's running. Only authors can vote, but if you are an indie author and you want to be included ... *blinks* *smiles*


Here's my question: Do any of you authors have business cards? Do you see any reason/point/perks of having them? Or is that weird?

I was thinking about it, and it WOULD be nice to be able to whip out something with my blog URL, book info, and author name on it when people ask about my books. On the other hand, who does that? I would feel silly unless I was at a conference or something else writing-related.

What do you think?


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