Thursday, June 30, 2011


So we're here to visit our Oasis Meme again, and I have the pleasure of exploring one of my favorite avenues in writing: Picture Books. I was excited to read this week's question because I write picture books as well as YA.

Last week's plug: Let's get out of the realm of writing and YA for a bit. What picture book are you thankful for?

With having four kids, I have a throng of picture books in my house. I wrote a post HERE matching up a favorite picture book with each of my children. For today, I'll be more general. STELLALUNA, by Author Janell Cannon is a fantastic PB. The story explores all that encompasses self-discovering and acceptance in language a young child can understand. The illustrations are fantastic and help convey the story in a sweet and gentle way.

Do you have a favorite Picture Book??

To join in the weekly meme, just do the following:

1. Do your own blog post on what you're thankful for today. It doesn't have to be on topic (but it can be!)

2. Be sure to grab our badge and include it in your post.

3. Post a link to your blog in the comments here so that others can find you.

4. Go forth and share your gratitude! (And when friending new blogs, be sure to let them know you found them because of their participation in the meme.)

Next Week's Topic: Staying near the topic of Picture Books, what imagery inspires you most while writing?? It can be geared to any genre. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

TBR: Luminous by Dawn Metcalf

This one, you won't have to wait for very long, because it's being released on Thursday.  Here's the description:

As reality slips and time stands still, Consuela finds herself thrust into the world of the Flow. Removed from all she loves into this shifting world overlapping our own, Consuela quickly discovers she has the power to step out of her earthly skin and cloak herself in new ones-skins made from the world around her, crafted from water, fire, air. She is joined by other teens with extraordinary abilities, bound together to safeguard a world they can affect, but where they no longer belong.

When murder threatens to undo the Flow, the Watcher charges Consuela and elusive, attractive V to stop the killer. But the psychopath who threatens her new world may also hold the only key to Consuela's way home.

For more information, check out Dawn's website or goodreads page. Or, you can preorder the book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  And before you leave, check out the teaser trailer:

Monday, June 27, 2011


Monday's are about Sanctuary, where we find it and where you might find it, too. And, seeing as we're all at some point in the writing journey, I thought maybe seeing one writer's success might help remind you that the struggle pays off, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you can bask in it.
Inner Demons--Some people are born with a monster inside of them. Nobody knows this better than Caine McKay, a high school student harboring a dark secret. Those anger issues of his, they’re not only scary—they’re lethal. If Caine loses his temper, he bulks out Mr. Hyde style.

From the Damage--Opposites Attract--

When eight emotionally traumatized teens are reluctantly thrown into group therapy together, nobody wants to spill the inner most secrets that brought them there. But as they turn from dangerous vices to lean on each other, they discover their shared pain.

Kelly Foster's always been reserved and shy, so when she's sent to group therapy and is assigned to be Gage Miller's 'backup buddy', she thinks she's gotten a raw deal. But as she digs deeper beneath his tough surface, she realizes there's much more to him than meets the eye—and she just might like what she sees…

Blatantly sarcastic and rough around the edges, Gage is only in group therapy so he doesn't go to jail. But he isn't your average bad boy—he's a single father desperately trying to shed his sordid past to forge a better future for his daughter. And he's definitely not thrilled to be paired up with Kelly, the preppy snob. But surprisingly, she finds a place in his cold heart, even though he'd never admit it. But when he finally learns the heartbreaking secret that landed her in group therapy, will it bring them together or drive them apart?

Soul of the Sea--

Under the ocean's waves, off the coast of Harmony Harbor a dark secret is about to unfold. Only few know the truth. Only a few know of its existence.

Seventeen-year-old Mykaela Whindom is rescued from the treacherous seas, but finds her best friend didn't survive the tragic accident. It's a secret she's determined to keep. Dylan, the mysterious stranger who rescues Mykaela, hides more than her secret, but it's just a matter of time before his own dark secret is revealed. A secret that is so dark, it may cost Mykaela her life.

The quiet little town of Harmony Harbor is thrown into shock when bodies of young women wash ashore. Some believe it's a serial killer. Dylan knows the truth.

The dark secret of Mykaela's family is revealed, The Hunters. The ones who hunt down and kill Dylan's kind.

Can Dylan outrun his past in time to stop the killings? Or will Mykaela become the next victim in the Souls of the Sea? (series website:

twitter @Jasmineldenton



Thursday, June 23, 2011


Like AE last week, I almost forgot about today's Thankful Thursday!

Have you received a rejection on a project (remember they reject your work, never YOU) that you were later thankful for?

Personally, I don't know that I've ever been THRILLED or THANKFUL for a rejection, but I can honestly look back at some of mine and say "Wow. They really had nice things to say. One agent loved my writing so much she wanted to see something else I was working on. That's a pretty good rejection in my book!!"

What about you?

To join in the weekly meme, just do the following:

1. Do your own blog post on what you're thankful for today. It doesn't have to be on topic (but it can be!)

2. Be sure to grab our badge and include it in your post.

3. Post a link to your blog in the comments here so that others can find you.

4. Go forth and share your gratitude! (And when friending new blogs, be sure to let them know you found them because of their participation in the meme.)

Next Week's Topic: Let's get out of the realm of writing and YA for a bit. What picture book are you thankful for?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Writer Wednesday: Cause & Effect

(This is a repost from yesterday on my personal blog. I felt it was important and may jar some discussion here, too.)

At first, a faint pang taps under my ribcage--the place where my heart should be. My pulse picks up speed, but I ignore it, the mumbling over the phone luring more of my attention and my husband's facial expressions drooping. My chest tightens, the pang now twisting, piercing with each shallow breath. I glance out the window, the summer sky hopeful and bright, and in total opposition of the dread infecting my soul.

Fear, doubt, worry consume the air around me. There's no way out--a black hole. I'm sinking, drowning amidst the muffled words I just heard. My husband drops his cell phone. The car suddenly slows, and he heads towards an off-ramp. Despite the cool from the air conditioner brushing against my face, the ends of my long hair frizz from the extra heat I'm suddenly giving off. I fiddle with my fingers. My brain is a machine, calculating all possibilities from the mundane to the horrific. 

My husband glances at me, our connective stare blank yet brimming with panic. My brain hurts, my eyes now glassing over. So are his. He grips my hand as the car whizzes on the road. I stutter an inhale, words pouring from my mouth with no direction or sense. We tell each other to relax, stay calm. But the rot in my gut won't stop, the gnawing too strong. I want to curl into a ball and hide, pray, beg "Please, oh good God please..."

There are no words feared more by a parent than "Your child has been in a car accident." The above is a lesson in Cause and Effect in writing. Something obviously happened to Cause these reactions and the Effect is surely to be revealed in the text soon. 

But this is also a true story. My story. On Sunday--Father's Day. As my husband and I drove our 12-yr-old daughter to her soccer tournament an hour away, we received a phone call that our two sons--Josh (17) & Jake (14)--were in a car accident. It was not Josh's fault. He had his blinker on and the boys were wearing their seat belts. Apparently, a driver two cars behind Josh decided to pass on a straight-away at approximately 50 MPH just as Josh was turning left into the ice rink parking lot for a hockey game. The impact spun the car in the opposite direction and straight back into the rink sign. The straight back part is most befuddling. It makes no sense that the force didn't keep them spinning or toss them into a roll. 

Josh's car is a total loss. It's a miracle neither boy was hurt severely or worse....2 more feet to the left or if Josh had turned a moment later, the impact would have been on his driver's side door.

My brain is still that muddled mess I wrote about above, examining the what if's and the how come's of Cause & Effect.

How do you deal with Cause and Effect in your writing? 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

TBR Tuesday: Original Sin

Tuesdays bring us Tunes that motivate and influence our writing, book trailers that move us, and stories or upcoming releases aka TBReads that excite us.

Today I'm pleased to say I'm looking forward to reading my editor sister's, Lisa Desrochers, book, ORIGINAL SIN.  It's the second in the Personal Demons trilogy and I've been impatiently waiting for this book since I finished the first.  The best part is the book should be arriving in my mailbox any day now, because our wonderful editor has sent it to me, along with a few of my other editor mates' books.

Title: Original Sin
Author: Lisa Desrochers
Genre: YA Paranormal
Publisher: Tor Teen
Releases: July 5, 2011
Pages: 400

Synopsis (from author website):

Luc Cain was born and raised in Hell, but he isn't feeling as demonic as usual lately—thanks to Frannie Cavanaugh and the unique power she never realized she had. But you can't desert Hell without consequences, and suddenly Frannie and Luc find themselves targeted by the same demons who used to be Luc's allies.

Left with few options, Frannie and Luc accept the protection of Heaven and one of its most powerful angels, Gabe. Unfortunately, Luc isn't the only one affected by Frannie, and it isn't long before Gabe realizes that being around her is too...tempting. Rather than risk losing his wings, he leaves Frannie and Luc under the protection of her recently-acquired guardian angel.

Which would be fine, but Gabe is barely out the door before an assortment of demons appears—and they're not leaving without dragging Luc back to Hell with them. Hell won't give up and Heaven won't give in. Frannie's guardian exercises all the power he has to keep them away, but the demons are willing to hurt anyone close to Frannie in order to get what they want. It will take everything she has and then some to stay out of Hell's grasp.

And not everyone will get out of it alive.

You can find the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookdepository

You can find the author on her website, twitter, and facebook.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sanctuary When You're Mad

You ever have one of those days where you're mad at the world for no good reason?  'Cause that was me yesterday.  Literally, I had NO reason for being in a foul mood, but that didn't stop me.  Everyone and everything annoyed me -- from the grocery store that didn't have the kind of potatoes I wanted to there being too much crap in our junk drawer.
So I gave myself a time out.  Not that I could just go sit in a corner (no - because there was corn to husk and potatoes to peel), but I tuned out everything except my favorite artist: Joshua Radin.

I shuffled every song of his on my iPhone and listened to it two times through.  After singing my favorite songs out loud (much to my family's chagrin, I'm sure) while I prepped food, I felt much better.

Deep breaths.  Some days we need sanctuary from ourselves... music is the way I can take a vacation from my own head.  What are your tricks?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Freestyle: Interview with Sherry Soule & GIVEAWAY

Happy Friday!  Today, we're thrilled to welcome Sherry Soule to the Oasis.  Her debut YA novel, Beautifully Broken, will be released on July 1st.  And lucky us: we get to be the first stop on her blog tour!
Before we get to the interview, let's hear about the book, shall we?

Thirteenth daughter. Heritage witch. Demon slayer.
They say every town has its secrets, but that doesn’t even begin to describe Whispering Pines. The townsfolk are a superstitious lot and the mystical disappearance of a local teen has everyone murmuring about a centuries old witch’s curse.
Sixteen-year-old Shiloh Ravenwolf is a heritage witch from the Broussard family, a family both destined and cursed. When she takes a summer job at Ravenhurst Manor, she discovers a ghost with an agenda. That’s where she meets the new town hottie, Trent Donovan, and immediately becomes spellbound by his charms.
Finally, Shiloh's met someone who is supercute and totally into her, but Trent may be the next victim on the supernatural hit list. And Shiloh is the only person with the power to save him. Complicated much?
It sucks to have a destiny, especially since Shiloh would rather spend her summer being a normal girl who worries about clothes and boys, not the supernatural. But she’s never been normal, and the stranger things become the more her own magical senses awaken.
With cryptic messages from a pesky wraith, she will begin to understand the mysterious significance of the strange mark branded on her wrist and decide how much she's willing to sacrifice to protect the other teenagers in town.
Unfortunately, for Shiloh, not all ghosts want help crossing over. Some want vengeance.

1. Wow. I can't decide if Beautifully Broken sounds like a ghost story with a paranormal twist or a paranormal romance with some horror mixed in (awesome, either way). How are you and your publisher pitching the book?

Just as a Young Adult Paranormal, but you’re right, it does mix elements of horror, romance, magick, and ghosts.

2.    This is your debut YA novel and it will be the first in a series. For those of us who fall in love with Shiloh, how many more adventures can we expect out of her?

So far, I have three other drafts in the series written. If the response is positive and the readers like her, then I’ll continue writing books for the series.

3.  We learned on your website that Shiloh is a mutt - part Native American Sioux and part French Wiccan. How did you come up with such a potent heritage for her?

I am a mutt too. My own father is Native American and English and my mother is French. So, Shiloh inherited my own DNA. LOL

4.  Your website also reveals that you have some more novels hidden up your sleeves. Please tell us about those too.

I have a vamp romance, THIRSTY that I’m tweaking and an adult paranormal romance, FOREVER KNIGHT that I’m revising and hope to publish this year too. Everything I write has some supernatural quantities. Except for a New Adult untitled novel, which is more of a romantic suspense about a VERY twisted family. 

5.  The covers for all of your novels are beautiful! Did you have a hand in designing any of them? What was the process like?

I hired the fabulous and creative Parajunkee Designs. She is a dream to work with. She actually created the cover for BB within a day and I love it. She has designed my blog and website too. Oh!—and my wicked awesome book trailer! You can watch it on YouTube:

6. It’s obvious from your website that you're passionate about your characters and stories. Have you ever had moments where you thought about giving up on them? If so, how did you work through it?

Sure. I pitched to agents and editors for about 2 years and had numerous rejections. But in my heart, I knew the story had an audience. I worked on the novel for over a year before I hired a freelance editor (Jennifer Hudock) to critique it for me. With her help, I was able to polish the manuscript into a marketable product. Then I started submitting to indie pubs, and Beautifully Broken found its home with Firelight Publishing because they gave me full creative control on the novel and a VERY generous percentage of the royalties.

7.  What question do you REALLY hope you're asked on this blog tour? (Now answer it, please.)

Great question. Huh. Okay, do I really think ghosts are real? YES. Although I’ve never seen one, I think the last apartment I lived in was haunted. 

8.  BONUS QUESTION: Shiloh's stuck on a desert oasis. What's the one thing (other than Trent) that she'd have to have with her to keep from going crazy?

Her Book of Shadows, so she can use a spell to create drinking water and find her way home…

Be sure to check out Sherry's website, where you can read an excerpt and learn all about the characters occupying the starring roles.

Last, we leave you with the trailer and a CONTEST.  Sherry will give away an e-book version (Kindle or Nook) to one lucky Oasis Seeker.  All you have to do is:

1) be a follower here;
2) haunt Sherry over on her blog; AND
3) leave a comment HERE with your e-mail address, so we can contact you if you win.

The contest will stay open through July 1 -- release day!!  We will pick one lucky winner at noon EST on 7/1/11.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Oopsie. See what an RA flare up can do to you? I almost missed today's post. I swear someday I'll actually be on top of things. Which is an awkward segue into today's assigned topic of our worst writing blunder that I've ever made that actually turned out to be a blessing.

When I threw my hat into the YA ring, I was sooo not on top of things. I hadn't stalked the right (or would that be write?) people on Twitter, hadn't read the right blog posts, found the right critique group. Nothing. I ended up with an amazing concept, crappy execution, and none of the right connections. Eventually, I shelved the project, so disheartened I thought I'd never touch it again.

After that blunder, I kept on writing, of course--because I cannot stop, it's a physical force and if I don't wrote I'll go mad. So, I delved into the YA world, started following industry savvy people, joined YAlitchat (and met my blogging besties!), and most recently found the right critique group. And this spring I dragged that concept back out and completely revised/rewrote/altered it beyond recognition.

So, I honestly consider all that angst and misery a blessing because the story that came from the latest writing binge is as amazing as the concept. I had to learn, had to grow, had to make the right connections to make me the writer worthy of the concept.

What about you--any writing blunders you're actually happy you made? Did it lead you somewhere better?

To join in the weekly meme, just do the following:

1. Do your own blog post on what you're thankful for today. It doesn't have to be on topic (but it can be!)

2. Be sure to grab our badge and include it in your post.

3. Post a link to your blog in the comments here so that others can find you.

4. Go forth and share your gratitude! (And when friending new blogs, be sure to let them know you found them because of their participation in the meme.)

Next Week's Topic: (building from this week's topic) Have you received a rejection on a project (remember they reject your work, never YOU) that you were later thankful for?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

WRITER WEDNESDAY: The Last Line of The First Chapters

In my continued effort to examine the successes of several YA novels, I thought I'd showcase something besides the "opening sentences" and "last lines" of my favorite books.

This week I'm going to cover the last line of the first chapter (or prologue). That inevitable point where a reader is either going to keep going, or put your book down ... possibly forever. I'm a huge fan of the cliffhanger, whether it's physical or emotional. Or, in the case of The Hunger Games ... even just a name.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (J.K. Rowling)
He couldn't now that at this very moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: "To Harry Potter - the boy who lived!"

Hush Hush (Becca Fitzpatrick)
The air resonated with the boy's low laughter.

Fallen (Lauren Kate)
Then there was nothing, nothing at all.

Paranormalcy (Kiersten White)
Where did they come up with this stuff?

Clockwork Angel (Cassandra Clare)
"Tessa put a hand to the clockwork angel at her throat, taking comfort in its steady ticking, as the carriage lurched forward into the rain. "

Incarceron (Catherine Fisher)
"Well done, brother," he said.

The Maze Runner (James Dashner)
"Nice to meet ya, shank," the boy said. "Welcome to the Glade."

The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)
It's Primrose Everdeen

And (just for the heck of it) here's the last line in the first chapter of my WIP:
And then it stopped.

Which ones are your favorite, and share from your manuscript below!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

TBR TUESDAY: Bird by Bird

For this To-Be-Read Tuesday, I decided to veer from the YA lit stacking my reading pile and went with a book on writing. I first heard about this book from my fabulous fellow writer/blogger Stina. I immediately picked it up, but have yet to finish it. So I consider it still a part of my TBR pile. It's truly fabulous, though.

Title: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Author: Anne Lamott
Publisher: Anchor
Pages: 239

Synopsis: "Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. [It] was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said. 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'"

With this basic instruction always in mind, Anne Lamott returns to offer us a new gift: a step-by-step guide on how to write and on how to manage the writer's life. From "Getting Started,' with "Short Assignments," through "Shitty First Drafts," "Character," "Plot," "Dialogue." all the way from "False Starts" to "How Do You Know When You're Done?" Lamott encourages, instructs, and inspires. She discusses "Writers Block," "Writing Groups," and "Publication." Bracingly honest, she is also one of the funniest people alive.

If you have ever wondered what it takes to be a writer, what it means to be a writer, what the contents of your school lunches said about what your parents were really like, this books for you. From faith, love, and grace to pain, jealousy, and fear, Lamott insists that you keep your eves open, and then shows you how to survive. And always, from the life of the artist she turns to the art of life.

The book is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday Sanctuary: Dream Retreat

Every writer needs some sort of sanctuary.  A place where we can go to just relax and recharge those batteries after juggling all the balls we have to.  And it isn’t just the writing balls we have to juggle. 

Most of us have families that require our constant care, attention, and devotion.  It’s not that we mind doing it. Of course, we don’t.  We love our families and we love being with them. But there comes a time when what we need is alone time with ourselves to recharge our batteries.

Some of us rent beach houses, or take European vacations.  Or for the rest of us ( :P), we hide in the bathroom with the lights off.  LOL.  But we all have our dream retreat. The place we’d go, if we had the time and money. 

Mine is a waterfront place in the country, surrounded by trees where the nearest neighbor is miles away. 

And this past December we started the long road to making this dream come true, by acquiring a piece of land that had been in my husband’s family for years.  Now all we have to do is build that log cabin, I’ve been dreaming of.  :D 

We took a ride out this weekend to look at it, and it really is perfect.  It’s going to be a lot of work cleaning out all the brush and stuff that’s built up over the years of disuse, but it’s going to be the perfect retreat.  I already can see myself sitting on the back porch and staring out over the lake, while the sun sets and the crickets and cicadas serenade me.  :D

So, my question for you?  What’s your dream retreat? And what would you do to make it a reality and not just a dream?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Freestyle Friday: SIRENZ authors' interview

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing the fabulous Natalie Zaman and Charlotte Bennardo, who are two of the craziest writers I know.  This past weekend I had the pleasure to meet them in person and they blew my mind (in a good way of course.).  

Bio:   Co-authors Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman (Bridgewater, NJ) are best friends. Both writers, their respective works have appeared in a variety of national magazines and periodicals.

Charlotte Bennardo started writing in elementary school. In high school she wrote and edited the school newspaper, then moved onto writing, copyediting, working on layouts for her college newspaper and yearbook.  After she graduated, she started writing for a small paper in Long Island, New York.  After being side-tracked with a paralegal degree and marriage she moved to New Jersey where she lives with her husband and her kids and is planning on staying put until the kids go to college.  When they do, she hopes to move to a tropical island and drink chocolate martinis.  She can be found on twitter.

Natalie Zaman is the co-author of Sirenz, the first in a YA contemporary fantasy series published by Flux. Her work has appeared in various magazines, newspapers, e-zines and anthologies for adults and children. She's currently plotting disasters for the characters of Sirenz and working on a Victorian steampunk fantasy for teens. Natalie lives in central New Jersey with her family and several fine looking chickens. 

She can be found on twitter and her blog

Thank you, Charlotte and Natalie for joining us here on the Oasis. 

1.    While you both write books separately from each other, the two of you co-wrote SIRENZ, can you explain a bit how that process is different from writing by yourself? 

C: I sometimes have to listen to Nat. Co-authoring means compromise, whether it’s the book going in a direction you never would have envisioned (which is not bad, just eye opening), or sometimes giving up a scene you love (there’s a tampon box story here… ) for the sake of the book.  And not inflicting bodily harm when you disagree.

N: There's no such thing as being stuck/depressed/tired/discouraged/etc. when you have a co-author. There's always 24-hour give-n-take support of some kind going on—and if both of us are stumped—well, there's the company, and that makes all of the bad stuff go away faster. As for the “tampon box” (insert sigh—I'm one of those people that hopes there's female behind the desk at the pharmacy when that stuff has to be purchased...) OK—so there was this scene in one of the earlier drafts of the book where Meg gets dressed up by Shar, and of course, doesn't like it—but for the sake of the mission, and knowing that arguing with Shar won't do any good, she plays along. Once they arrive at their glittering destination however, Meg takes matters into her own hands and flounces off to the lady's room where she promptly scoots into a stall and removes Shar's tasteful stockings. Before she dons some torn up fishnets—much more Meg, if you follow me—she disposes of Shar's pricey pantyhose. She has to put them SOMEWHERE, and what is there in a bathroom stall besides the toilet ? That's right, the box for used unmetionables. When Char saw that, she crossed it out and was like, “eeewwww, you can't put that in there, it's gross!” But that was the POINT. Meg hated those horrible stockings and she wanted to put them in the worst place possible, ergo our one writing “rule”: I did the initial draft for each Meg chapter and Char, Shar's chapters, but we edited together. The rule was that if it was your chapter you had the final say of what stayed and what went—unless it didn't go with the plotting, or if the other person's character wasn't being portrayed “in character.” So every time Char came across this particular chapter, she would cross out the t----n box, and I would smile at her and say, “Nope, it stays.” In the end it was cut by the editor—along with the other 14 chapters around it. But it might resurface again, if given the chance >:)...

2.   Why did you decide to co-write a book together? 

C: Because we were giggling, bitching about other authors’ successes and confident in our writing ability. 

N: What started out as a joke--Char sending an email to me from one of my rabbits when I was on vacation and then me writing back from the cat—turned into a picture book that went nowhere. Still, the chemistry felt right—it was too much fun not to try something else.

3.   Where you always friends or did that happen because of SIRENZ?

C:  The friendship came first, and it will be there long after SIRENZ and its sequels gather dust on the shelf groaning with our other works, written together and singly. (I’ll have to buy her books too.)

N: I love it when Char puts things in writing so that I can hold her to it later >:) The friendship definitely came first. We met when I joined Char's critique group. It became evident quickly that despite our obvious differences we had a lot in common—and lived, literally, right around the corner from each other—pretty labyrinthine and mystical, right?  

4.   Is there anything you wish you knew about co-writing before you started that you’d like to share?

C: It would have been nice to know that after working so closely that she could finish my sentences. It’s like having an evil twin. Would have saved me from a lot of talking.

N: Uummmmm... would it be bad if I say nothing (scratches head sheepishly)?

5.   How did the idea for SIRENZ come to you? 

C: We were originally going to do a vampire book, but since EVERYONE was doing a vampire book (except us) we decided on something obscure.  Who does books on Sirens? We do.

N: We both like Greek Mythology, and while we were batting around ideas, Xena Warrior Princess kept coming up in discussion. We wanted what we were doing to be fun and funny and somewhat campy. We also knew pretty much from the get-go that we needed two MC's. We put a bit of ourselves into our characters.

6.   Why sirens and not angels or some other mythology? 

C:  Tried the angel thing/demon thing, but at the time it wasn’t working.  Greek mythology is well known, everyone’s heard of Zeus, Persephone, Hades, and have some general knowledge about the gods. Hades is such a delicious character (and I think much maligned because people generally confuse him with the Devil, total evil). 

N: We did a version of Sirenz with Angels and Demons—actually it was Meg and Shar with guardian angels and Lucifer instead of Hades. This was one of the revision requests that we received, but as Char said, it didn't work—probably because angels seem so... serious? Funnily enough, Brian Farrey (our editor at Flux) brought that up in his editorial notes—that we could go the “Devil” route—but pointed out that keeping the lightheartedness of the book, it wouldn't be as fun as Greek Mythology.

7.    Why did you choose first person as opposed to third?  Especially since it’s told in alternating first person.

C: Because the girls are ‘frenemies’ not friends, not enemies, or friends and enemies, and they are so different, it seemed more natural to get into both their heads and see how they thought, how they felt about their situation, each other, and if they liked the same pair of shoes.

N: We actually tried writing it in third person (yet another revision request) but it was painfully obvious (at least to us) that it didn't have the same exuberance.

8.   Is this a series?  If so, how many more books are planned?

C: Sirenz Back in Fashion comes out in 2012, and Sirenz 3, (no title yet) comes out in 2013. We’re hoping for a fourth, dear editor…

N: I have four moth tattoos(symbolic of books)—think we gotta write that fourth one anyway...

9.   Your journey to get published is different from most authors, can you share a bit of that with us?

C: We know no one in the business, have no Hollywood connections, but we did have 2 people working on the same book toward the same goal; it halves the work, but doubles the results. (We’re hitting up twice as many family members and relatives and others to buy the book.)

N: We were plucked from the slush pile BOTH times—in landing a contract to publish Sirenz, and in getting our agent. We submitted cold. We also got our agent AFTER we landed our first contract. The lesson(s): a) It can be done and b) everyone's journey is different. c) The only absolute formula is to just keep going.

10. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

 C: We did it. You can too if you do what you need to: learn your craft, take criticism and USE it, attend conferences and get known, network, and be persistent (not a pain in the butt).  There are a lot of success stories, so make yours one of them.

N: Never NEVER give up. NEVER. PS—never.

And our most important question, if you were trapped on a deserted island which author would you most like to be trapped with?

C: If I can have a storyteller rather than an author, I’d have to say Hades. He can tell some whoppers. And Hades is Haute.

N: That, and he can provide pretty much anything else; good weather, designer swimsuits, comfy beach chairs sunscreen, frosty drinks, chocolate covered strawberries... for a price, of course >:)

Interested in reading SIRENZ?  You can order a copy at Amazon , Barnes and Noble, Indiebound or directly from FLUX.

Bickering frenemies Meg and Shar are doing some serious damage at a midnight sample sale when the fashionistas find themselves arguing over a pair of shoes-with fatal consequences. One innocent bystander later, the girls are suddenly at the mercy of Hades, Lord of the Underworld himself. To make them atone for what they've done, Hades forces the teens to become special-assignment Sirens, luring to the 

Underworld an individual whose unholy contract is up.

Finding that delicate balance between their fashion addiction and their new part-time job in the eternal hellfire biz turns out to be harder than Meg and Shar expected, especially when an entire pantheon of Greek deities decides to get involved. Then there's the matter of the fine print in their own contracts...

Thursday, June 09, 2011

This Week's Thankful Thursday Topic:  What’s your opinion of writing from the perspective of the “bad guy?”  (think Dexter) -- since this is Thankful Thursday, I'm going to tweak the topic into how writing from the bad guy perspective has improved my writing -- something I'm always thankful for.
 *** Dexter image by David Deb ***

Here's the thing... I've never watched Dexter (although my mom tells me it's awesome), but I've recently learned something important about writing from the perspective of the "bad guy" -- they're not always that bad.  Here's my personal example:

When I first started out to become a writer a few years ago, I began with retelling the myth of Cupid & Psyche (yeah, I'm still working on it, but that's another story).  The "bad guy" in the myth is Venus, who is jealous of Psyche and condemns her to marry a monster.  As I wrote, I pictured Venus as Heidi Klum with a heart of coal.  Everything about her screamed "b!tch," regardless of whether she was interacting with Psyche, Cupid or any other god or goddess.  Pretty stereotypical.

Recently, someone encouraged me to put my own spin on the myth -- to tell the story from my own unique perspective.  Which got me thinking, what if Venus wasn't so stereotypical?  She could have real feelings, and be hurt, just like anyone else.  And her reactions would be more understandable and justified.

And I think that's where I learned a real lesson.  It's really "easy" (is any part of writing easy?) to write these characters that you love to hate.  They're a guy only looking to score, or a girl just trying to make herself look better by putting someone else down.  Or, if we're talking darker, we could be looking at murders or drug lords.  People who are rightfully scary.

Now take those characters, step back, and figure out why someone loves them despite their flaws.  Why does the jerk guy have a cousin who'd do anything for him?  Why does the murder have a loving family on the side who deeply cares about him?  If you write even a chapter from the perspective of your bad guy (and I'm not even talking about a chapter you keep), you will necessarily make your characters more three dimensional.  You'll understand something more about their feelings and motivations and that can't help but come across on the page.

What about you -- do you ever try to examine your story from the perspective of the bad guy?  Do you like reading stories by or about the "bad guy"?

To join in the weekly meme, just do the following:

1. Do your own blog post on what you're thankful for today. It doesn't have to be on topic (but it can be!)

2. Be sure to grab our badge and include it in your post.

3. Post a link to your blog in the comments here so that others can find you.

4. Go forth and share your gratitude! (And when friending new blogs, be sure to let them know you found them because of their participation in the meme.)

Next Week's Topic:  What's the worst writing blunder you've ever made that you realized later was actually a blessing?

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

WRITER WEDNESDAY: Fast drafting your first draft?

I used to be such a different writer. Funny kind of oxymoron to say I've grown up as a writer when I turned to writing for teens. *snort* I used to write by the seat of my pants, very little outline to go by, and then revise and edit, and then pants write some more and then revise and edit. People used to say I had such clean, publish-ready first drafts. Of course they were clean. I'd spun my wheels so much going nowhere fast in those pages I'd whipped all the mud off.

Then I decided I wanted to make a real go of writing, and learned to pitch a project to agents or editors you had to have a synopsis and an outline. They had to know where you were going with your story or they wouldn't be interested. So, I tightened my writing pants and started working from outlines from which I could make a synopsis.

This past year I've lucked into my Critque Group. (Shout out to the Army!! They know who they are) They're brilliant, creative, talented writers. Also fast-drafters for the most part, and I had to go from snug-fitting writer pants to damn near writer skinny jeans--I had to adjust to keep up. Which has been the most painful part of my writing maturation. Giving up that write/edit, write/edit cycle is still hard, it's a battle I fight with every day. Now I make notes in a skeleton outline of stuff I need to go back and fix during revisions instead of wading through 200 pages to tinker now.

And that's probably the best part about fast-drafting. The word/page count. What was an idea back in the end days of April is now nearly complete. I have five plot points to go before typing THE END.

So, how do you do it? Pantser, discovery writer? Plotter? Do you write/revise/edit/repeat, or do you fast draft then revise?
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