Thursday, February 23, 2012

Celebrating the curve balls

Life has a way of throwing curve balls, typically right at your head.  If you don't duck you're going to learn a valuable lesson.  Life took a swing at me today.  

I entered the Amazon Novel competition a month ago, with high hopes of course, alongside a women who has become a dear friend to me.  We have never met in person, talked on the phone or communicated in any way other than through Facebook. But because of our love for writing, we have become close friends.

This morning I discovered that I did not make it through the first cut of the contest, but to be honest, my very next thought was to check if she did.  I was so excited for her success that I nearly forgot about my own book.

Rejection is never easy.  If I tried to tell you that I'm not a little bummed you'd have every right to call me a liar.  I am bummed.  It's natural.  But this couldn't have come at a better time for me.

I've got a great prospect that I'm working hard on right now and being out of the running for the Amazon competition means I can devote all of my time to editing my new teen dystopian novel, IGNITE.  This book is where my heart truly lies so I am grateful for this opportunity .  

Some people say "you win some, you lose some."  I don't agree with that.  I think you always just depends on how you look at each situation!

Well done, Danielle Bannister, self-pubbed author of PULLED.  I can't wait to see how far you go!   

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Book Review: Catching Fire

It is rare when I can actually say I love a sequel more than I love the original.  Imagine my delight when I picked up Catching Fire, the second installment of The Hunger Games.

If you read my review of The Hunger Games,  you will know that I was not thrilled with the idea of a 12 year old girl being forced to fight to the death, for entertainment.  Nor was I a fan of the gruesome final death that occurred in the games.  But despite my unease with the storyline, I was conflicted in writing my review.  I have deep respect for Suzanne’s Collins; for her willingness to step outside of the box and send shockwaves around the globe.

Although The Hunger Games  didn’t leave me begging for more, I was determined not to give up on the series.  To my amazement, the longer I had to wait for Catching Fire  to arrive from the library, the more anxious I became.  Part of it was the fact that I’d been told the final books became far more disturbing and I was worried about what I might find within the pages.  And partly because I needed to know if my suspicions about the book would be confirmed.

I became engrossed immediately, which was a pleasant surprise considering it took me four tries to get into The Hunger Games.  Right around the middle of the book, a big twist is thrown at you.  Not a big shock there!
The ending was a bit too predictable for my liking, and very rushed, but over all I enjoyed the book.  It was fast paced, kept my attention, and yes I lost several hours of sleep over it.
Now on to Mockingjay to finish the series.     

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Beware the Pirates!

Is this a beautiful picture of tranquility or what? A steaming cup of coffee and a blank crisp page ready to delve into…absolutely perfect!

If this were my reality I wouldn’t know what to do with myself!

Silence?  What’s that?  My home is usually filled with looting pirates, zooming airplanes sinking an aircraft carrier, T-Rex stalking its prey or some Disney Jr. show in the background.  Not to mention the dishes and laundry calling my name; a nagging reminder that I have responsibilities outside of my writing bubble.

So how do I get any writing done?
Being a mother and a wife, as well as pursuing my dream of being an author, isn’t easy.  Some days it feels downright impossible.  But I have a supportive husband who withholds his frown if the sink is still full when he gets home, or adjusts his schedule so I can make my library writing time.

Writing is far from a solitary effort. Each member of my family gives so that I may write.  I am indebted to their sacrifices so that I might have my shot at making a career out of what I love most.  Writing isn’t just something I enjoy…it’s a passion!
So how do you manage to juggle the necessities of life with your writing goals?   

Credit for photo: nuttakit

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Romance Contest

Calling all romance writers!
Have you dreamed of having your romance novel published?  Do you have a manuscript ready to go?

Boroughs Publishing Group has just announced a February contest just for you.  All of the rules and details are provided at the link below.  Best of luck if you decide to give it a shot!  Let me know how you do.

Book Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Once a century one person is chosen for greatness. 

She is done being useless.  Better to fight-perhaps die- than to stand idly by.  Her friends won’t hesitate.  Neither will her enemies.  She is the chosen one, and her time has come. 

Book review:
The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a book that jumped out at me while I was browsing the teen new release section at my local library.  The title intrigued me.  The book cover was appealing with its fiery stone encased by brambles.

I immediately wanted to know why the book was named this way.  What is the fire?  How did the thorns come into play?
The book itself started a tad slow to me.  I was hoping for a “jump right into the action” sort of book so this one fell flat for me.  But its unique writing style kept me reading.
The story is about a sixteen year old girl that is chosen by God to serve in some unexplained way.  She is not thin, gorgeous or confident.  Instead, Elisa is an overweight wall flower; a second born princess that is thrust into a destiny that she both fears and dislikes.

Because of the Godstone that she bears in her navel, her life is in great danger.  After being forced into a marriage to the King of a larger realm, Elisa is treated like a child and asked to hide her marriage from the people.  Kidnapped by desert thieves, Elisa soon discovers that the truths she had grown up have been tainted.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns, although set in a fantastical setting, feels realistic.  Elisa’s fears are genuine, her rivals hatred and jealousy comes across well and the sorrow that she feels as death surrounds her will tug at your heart.

Overall, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, was an interesting read.  Certainly different from what is on the market today.

Rae Carson was not afraid to kill off major characters during this book.  A couple of which actually annoyed me.  I like authors that are gutsy enough to kill of characters but these deaths felt wrong to me.  Too sudden and too raw for my liking.  You expect a romantic thread to have at least one ounce of satisfaction but this book fell short in that area.

Another thing that frustrated me was how quickly the ending came.  There was a huge build up and then when the actual peak came it was rushed so quickly that I didn’t have time to comprehend what had happened.  What took chapters to build only took a couple paragraphs to complete.
For writing style I loved this book.  Rae Carson did an exceptional job of using several formats of writing styles that flowed beautifully. 

Star rating: 4 out of 5 for writing style and originality.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How did he pop the question?

Since today is the day of LOVE, I thought I would give you the opportunity to brag on your special someone.
I would love to hear the story of how you got engaged.  The good, the bad and the unfortunate!  Everyone has a story, so go ahead, share it!

For my younger readers, please share what you imagine would be the perfect way to be proposed to. 

My proposal mishap:
To my husband’s credit, he had an amazing proposal all planned out.  What happened to ruin it?  ME!

I was visiting my husband in England for 6 months to decide if I wanted to cross the big pond for good.  We knew having a long distance relationship (4,000 miles!) was too hard to keep going, so one of us would have to leave everything behind for the other.  (I won!)

After a few months of being in England, I had settled into a normal routine.  On Saturday’s the house was all mine until my future husband would get off work at noon.  This was great at first because I really didn’t feel comfortable around my future in-laws.  Imagine living with them for 6 months while you’re only dating their son?!!

This particular morning, I got bored.  I’m talking bang my head against the foot thick brick wall kind of bored.  So I decided to surprise my husband by meeting him at work.

Now let me explain something to you.  Although I knew how to get to his office, I had no real sense of distance.  BIG MISTAKE!

Four hours later, with blisters covering every inch of my feet, I hit a roadblock: a roundabout.  The biggest darn roundabout I’ve ever seen!  For those of you who aren’t familiar with roundabouts, they are large circles in the middle of the road to keep traffic flowing.  No STOP SIGNS!  Amy gets squished into a pancake kind of crossing!

So, I limp into a nearby pub and call my wonderful savior, who has the good grace to only laugh his head off for a couple of minutes over the phone before he comes to get me.  Apparently the distance between his home and office was around 10 miles.  Who knew?

Bundled into his car, moaning about my feet, he tells me, rather awkwardly, that he needs to make a stop.  In the center of town.  Near the jewelry store that we visited only a few weeks before.

Let me tell you, those blisters faded into the background pretty darn quick!
For those of you who know me, I’m pretty observant.  Little details are HUGE to me.  The bead of perspiration on his brow despite blissful AC pumping through the vents, skin pulled taught over his knuckles as he pulled into the parking lot near the jewelry store, and the waver in his voice when he said to wait in the car. 

Oh yeah…I knew what was coming.

So what would you do?  Yep…you guessed it.  The instant he settled into the car, I pounced.  I nagged, whined, begged, and pleaded.  I’m not proud of my reaction (snigger) but by the time we got home I had my shiny new ring on my finger, just to make sure it fits, mind you.

Now that I’d seen the ring, the surprise of proposing to me at the base of a waterfall in Scotland was ruined.  Bummer!  That would have been awesome!

So we headed down south to the coast and my husband proposed to me on the beach.  Not at sunset like the movies or on pristine white sandy beaches.  No it was the middle of rush hour and amongst the rockiest beach I’ve ever seen.  

But I wouldn’t change those memories for the world! 

How about you?  What’s your story?

Thank you to scottchan for the photo.

To Swoon or not to swoon...

Alright ladies, here is the number one question of the day.  When your special someone reveals his V-day gift, should you swoon or not?

Now I’m not taking Gone with the Wind type swoon, but perhaps a little sigh or a batting of your carefully mascaraed eye lashes. Will you lean into him and whisper your gratitude or burst into tears?

Believe it or not, these are things you should think about. Now I’m not saying you should fake an emotion.  That would just be wrong, right?  I’m talking about planning ahead of what reaction you would be comfortable with.
Let me explain.

Some of you will be surprised with an extravagant gift in the middle of a candle lit restaurant surrounded by people. Are you prepared to risk streams of mascara staining your cheeks because you didn’t buy waterproof mascara? 

Or how about those of you who are more vocal with your approval?  Intimate restaurants aren’t really the type of place to let out a hooting call of gratitude. Check your cowgirl bellows at the door, ladies.
Think about your evening plans, how you normally react to those gifts only your special someone knows how to give, and plan ahead.  If you’re a crier (like me!) stuff some tissues in your purse.  If you’re a swooner, make sure you don’t wear high heels on black ice.  If you’re a hugger, make sure you don’t have a table full of steaming food between you and your target. And if you’re an enthusiastic cowgirl, make sure he takes you somewhere loud!

To swoon or not to swoon...that is a question only you can answer.

I'm gonna be a crier.  I always am!

So how do you normally react to gifts?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Censored- Behind closed doors

Should an author splatter their personal views across the internet?

I have been told that the fastest way to lose a friend is to discuss religion or politics.  I believe the same goes for readers. 

Both of these subjects bring out the best and worst in people.  We are fiercely protective of our beliefs, and rightly so.  But unless these topics are done in person they can be greatly misconstrued.
There is an author that I follow on Facebook that has been spending most of her time promoting a cause that I feel very strongly against.  Does this make her a bad person?  No, of course not.  But it does taint my view of her as an author.

In my opinion, there is a time and place for everything.  Facebook is notorious for rash decisions that you later regret; sharing links or pictures that can harm your following.

As a self-published author, who dreams of someday landing a traditional publishing deal, I am mindful of the things I write.  I don’t want to alienate any of my readers.  The best way to do that is to avoid discussing politics and religion in a public setting.
Have you experienced this issue with one of your favorite authors?  How did it make you feel?

All I want for Valentine's Day is 3 inches of snow!

So the weather channel promises we are due to get 3 inches of snow before tomorrow morning...let's hope they are right this time!

It is impossible to believe our area has only had 1 snow all winter long, and it was a measly inch.  What's with this weather?  My son is DYING to make snow angels!

So my wish for Valentine's Day is to wake up to a winter wonderland.  

How about you?  What would make your V-day perfect?

Thanks for taking such a beautiful picture Dan. 

Chocoholics unite!

How many of you ladies picture this every time you step on the scale?  

Come on, be honest.  

Valentine's Day is a chocoholic's worst nightmare.  I am blessed with an inability to eat too much chocolate but that doesn't mean all of those sugary cupcakes go unnoticed!  Throw a little pink frosting and sprinkles in there and I'm in BIG trouble.

So how do you plan to avoid gorging on V-day yummies?

I for one am eating at home.  I selected a nice lean steak, new potatoes and will steam some veggies for dinner.  I plan to allow myself cupcake.  And then I think a nice walk in the frigid wintry wind will get my blood pumping.  

And if I start to feel temptation to snack I'm gonna pop a bag of popcorn and snuggle up with a good chick flick.  Or my laptop.  I've got books to write!

How about you?  Any big plans for tomorrow night?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Killer Cliche's

At the end of your rope.

One of the many cliche's that novice writers use when they don't know how to say anything else.
How do we get past the cliches and into the meat of a novel? 

Practice.  I know, I hate that word too.  Makes me feel like I'm back in school again.  But it's true.  The more you write the more aware you are of these little slip ups.
Try thinking outside of the box.  Imagine a way to visually paint your phrase in a way that is unique.

I read a great one yesterday.  "The smoke coiled like a white snake."  The first thought that popped into my mind was danger.  And that's exactly how the scene unfolded.

Think of the message that you want to portray and what imagery could be used to describe it.  In the snake example you can imagine exactly how the smoke curled towards the ceiling like a snake slithering around a tree.

What example could you come up with to describe the smoke?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Are you a champion?

"Maybe I should have stayed in bed today."

This was a thought that tumbled around in my head for most of the morning.  Who knew this would be the day I would receive my first terrible book review.  It was bound to happen.  I even tried to prepare myself, but just like labor pains, you get knocked on your backside.

I'm a pretty sensitive person.  I like to be liked.  Who doesn't?  But I've learned that to make it in the writing world you have to grow some thick skin.  Today was the first slice I've endured since I stopped adding rejection letters to my pile back in June.

It hurts.  Rejection always does.  But it's a part of life.  It teaches you not only how to be humble but also reminds you that there's always something more to learn.  If I ever reach the point where I think I'm God's gift to writers I give you permission to slap me!

So today has been a tad rocky for me.  I knew my heart wouldn't be into writing, as I licked my wounds, so I switched gears and did some marketing.  What better way to deal with rejection than to get another sale?

I've also done some more tweaking to my blog.  Watcha think?  Kinda nice, eh?  Much better than the dreary black and gray.

How do you handle yet another rejection letter, bad review or naysayer?  

Are you a fighter or do you give up?  I think I might hear the Rocky music floating thought the air!

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I think I'm gonna be sick!

Have you ever had that moment when you realize you’re having the best day of your life?  Maybe it was a wedding (guys nod here), or the birth of your first child (go ahead, nod again) or maybe it’s the day you finally step out on your own and become an adult.  Or maybe, just maybe, it’s the day you take another baby step towards your dream.

The past two days have been exhilarating, stressful and downright freaking amazing! 

After losing sleep while sitting with my father in the ER until 2am, I rolled out of bed yesterday morning, bleary eyed and exhausted.  I just knew it was gonna be a LONG day.  Watch out cause this gal was gonna be on a rampage!

But my entire day took a 180 when I opened my email to find a response to a query from back in November to a small publisher that not only works with local writers, but also newbies!
I tell you what, an email like that is a million times better than a pot of coffee!

I jumped into high gear and polished my samples until they shone like the diamond I hope they are. 

By 1am my energy reserves were bone dry.  I was back up by 6:30 putting the finishing touches on it with the help of my friend, Danielle Bannister author of Pulled, and hit send. 

For those of you who know me, I’m an obsessive writer and I’m proud to admit that, but after spending that many hours on intensive rewrites and editing my brain is short circuiting!  Hence the blog post haha

Now here I sit, in my usual chair at the library, and I can’t focus on a thing.  Perhaps today, procrastination wouldn’t be such a bad thing.  I think I deserve a break.

I’m gonna cuddle up in a plush armchair and read to my heart’s content! 

PS: I bet that lasts about 5 minutes and then I’ll be back to work again!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Book review: Hollowmen

Not too long ago I wrote a blog post about reading Amanda Hocking's Hollowland book.  I also made comment on how I'm not big on zombie books.  That hasn't changed.

Well yesterday, bedridden with a stomach flu and desperately trying to forget about the chills and muscle aches, I downloaded the sequel.  Hey, I figured my stomach was already screwed up, so it couldn't get much worse.

So Hollowmen picks up 6 months after Hollowland.  Believable.  New characters are introduced.  Most die, along with some from the original book.  

Lots of death (some gruesome so I would suggest only mature teens read the book).  But mingled in with the death and despair comes a ray of hope. The message behind the book was spot on.  

As a non-zombie fan it's hard for me to gush over this book.  But I can say that it allowed me to forget how ill I felt for a few hours so that's gotta count for something, right?  

Hollowland is still available as a free download on Kindle.  Hollowmen was $2.99

Star rating: 4 out of 5 

Thank you Amanda Hocking for helping me through a terrible day! 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

YA SF/Fantasy opportunity

For anyone who is shedding blood, sweat and tears to finish your new YA SF/Fantasy novel I have an opportunity for you.

Read through the requirements carefully.  Submission is not until mid April so you have plenty of time to get your manuscripts ready.  I plan on entering my new YA Paranormal novel Ignite that I'm currently crafting.

A photo is worth 8 words

Here’s an exercise that might be harder than you think.  Find a picture online or dig through an old photo album.  It can be of anything.

Now I want you to study it.  Look at every detail, both small and obvious.  What do you see?  How does the picture make you feel?  How would you describe it to someone who has never glimpsed the picture?

After you ponder on the picture I want you to come up with a list of 8 words to describe the essence of the picture.
Mood, Tone, Message, Image, Purpose, for example.  It can be whatever you want.

See if in five words you can capture the scope of the entire picture.  Then I want you to share them with me.  Put your response in the comment section below.
I am providing a sample picture and my own words to get your started.  Have fun!

PS: this is exactly what you should do when you create a setting in your book.  Take a mental image of a room and pick 8 words to describe it.  This is a great way to practice BEFORE you write your chapter!

  This is a picture that I am using for a book cover of an upcoming book.  Along with creating a scene you also have to consider the same aspect when choosing a book cover.  Here as my 8 words to describe this picture:

Turbulent, Powerful, Deadly, Tempest, Surge, Rage, Uncontrollable, Raw    

Thank you to Salvatore Vuono for creating this picture!