Thursday, April 26, 2012

Whoseywhatsit Thursday: Birthdays

It's time for another Whoseywhatsit writing prompt, from yours truly. This week's topic ...


My birthday is coming up next week and I'm thick in the middle of planning my son's birthday later on in the month, so I figured it would be fun to have a birthday prompt!

You have up to 250 words to get your character in a birthday state of mind - develop a flashback, write a poem, try something new, whatever you want. Post those words below and then comment on at least one other person's writing. (You don't need to necessarily critique it, this isn't polished writing people!)

Ready. Set. Go!

(And here's mine ...)

Caleb held out some sort of bread looking thing. "Happy birthday. I'm sorry we don't have candles. You know, fire and all."

I twisted at my watch in confusion. "My birthday isn't for a couple of months." And how would he know anyway?

"Actually, it's today. Not only did the year change, but the month and day did too. So. It's August 15th." He had the courtesy to stare at the ground and nudge it with his mocassin.

I blew up my bangs. "Fabulous." He actually did know the date. But, it wasn't all bad. I did get to dine on some sort of chocolate-colored-coffee-smelling-fluffy-looking dessert.

Even if I was totally confused about the whole time travel, what age was I, what time was it, stuff.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Writer's Wednesday: Plot Surprises

I've been thinking about plots lately and reading posts and advice about it.  And I've noticed that many agents and editors say they want to be surprised or they want plotting with unexpected twists and turns.

I'm interested in studying this idea a bit more, and I'd love your help.

First, are there any books on plotting you've found especially helpful? (I already have SAVE THE CAT.)

And second, are there any books that really surprised you?  I can think of two that surprised me: CITY OF BONES by Cassandra Clare (I did NOT see the brother thing coming), and a part of DEMONGLASS by Rachel Hawkins had me saying, "Oh, SNAP!" out loud. lol.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.  Share them in the comments!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I'll be honest, before I started browsing the upcoming releases, I had no idea what I was going to pick. But then I stumbled upon a book called WRECKED ... one I'd not heard of before and whose cover was unfamiliar to me.

The description intrigued me, so I read the teaser. And well, let's just say that I'm pretty well hooked. Let's see if it does the same for you.

WRECKED by Anna Davies
Release: May 1st
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Secrets of the sea have never been sexier than this.

Ever since the death of her parents, Miranda has lived on Whym Island, taking comfort in the local folklore, which claims a mysterious sea witch controls the fate of all on the island and in its surrounding waters. Sometimes it’s just easier to believe things are out of your control.

But then a terrible boating accident takes the lives of several of her friends, and Miranda is rescued by a mysterious boy who haunts her dreams. Consumed by guilt from the accident, she finds refuge in late-night swims—and meets Christian, a boy who seems eerily familiar, but who is full of mystery: He won’t tell her where he is from, or why they can only meet at the beach. But Miranda falls for him anyway…and discovers that Christian’s secrets, though meant to protect her, may bring her nothing but harm.

Seductive and compelling, Wrecked brings a contemporary, paranormal twist to a classic enchanting tale.

Excerpt. [borrowed from Amazon]

In many ways, Whym Island is like any of the hundreds of tiny islands dotting the South Carolina coast. It’s got year-rounders, plus an infusion of visitors that swells its population to more than five times its off-season size. It has windswept cottages, sprawling resorts, and a coastline that makes visitors catch their breath and immediately do some mental math, desperate to find some way to live there year round. And, like all islands, it has secrets. Everyone knows that, in the 1960s, the mayor ran off with his gardener’s wife, and everyone knows people can occasionally hear an otherworldly keening by the beach on Bloody Point thanks to a nineteenth-century shipwreck.

During the summer, year-rounders will avoid the ferry dock, the Hardware Store bar and restaurant, Burton Park, and the town square commons, because they know these spots will be overrun by tourists. On the beach, the two groups, indistinguishable from each other to outsiders, will barely acknowledge each other with anything besides a chilly nod. Just like all the other islands in the Calibogue Sound.

Except the one thing that Whym has that other nearby islands—like Breton or Johns or Adventure Island—don’t, is an air of mystery. For one thing, Whym has unusual tides, which don’t always conform to the tide chart. This is annoying to fishermen, enchanting to visitors. Called witch tides by locals, low tide can suddenly, in an instant, turn into a relentless rushing high tide. Oceanographers say it’s a natural phenomenon caused by unusual plate tectonic activity. The locals explain that there’s a sunken island beneath the sea, ruled by a sea witch.

The visitors can’t get enough of that story. Which is why, during the summer, there are sea witch tours instead of whale watch tours, sea witch specials at all the seafood restaurants, and, of course, plenty of sea witch souvenirs at the postage-stamp size Souvenir Shoppe, a weather-beaten shack that lies to the right of the Faunterloy Ferry dock. The Souvenir Shoppe, too, is just like any other souvenir shop on any other island. You know the ones: The floors are perpetually gritty with sand, there’s a thin layer of dust on all the shot glasses, ashtrays, and bells that are perched on high shelves, and there’s a line of cheap candy at eye-level for five-year-olds. On Whym, the Souvenir Shoppe also contains handmade puppets of the mermen and mermaids believed to live beneath the sea. They all have slight smiles and hair made out of yarn and are usually only purchased by well-meaning grandmothers. Next to them is a shelf of mermaid food, which is simply multicolored fish pellets that children enjoy throwing into the water as the ferry is departing, as well as mermaid gloss, a sparkly lip gloss popular with visitors under ten.

And then, of course, there’s a shaky rack of postcards. The postcards always show the most beautiful images of the islands. They’ll show the sunset, the line of gorgeous willow trees that hide the row of mansions that regulars live in, a couple walking on the beach, just hazy enough to be unidentifiable.

On all of them, the same tagline: “Whym Island: Some things have to be seen to be believed.”

But that’s not exactly correct. What it should read is: “On Whym Island, some things have to be believed to be seen.”

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Whoseywhatsit Thursday: OPPORTUNITIES

Hi, Oasis Seekers! I know almost everyone is throwing a contest of some kind with "an opportunity to win a this," or "enter for an opportunity to win that." And while they are great and this is NOTHING against them because I've definitely entered a few myself, entering for an opportunity is like spitting in the wind and hoping you get wet. I'm going to give you some information about REAL opportunities out there.

First, are you a member of the YALITCHAT Ning community?? If not, WHY NOT?! The help and support there is what keep me striving in the YA world after I had all but mentally thrown in my YA towel.

Not only can you get help in peer groups to have your query critiqued, there is a First Five Pages group to polish your story's opening, a Synopsis Repair group to help you with your synopsis, Expert Resources, a group to help you find a Critique partner, and more! One of the biggest opportunities? Submissions Mailbox. You can submitted to dedicated agents and some editors even. I don't remember the full list, but trust me, you want to use this opportunity to better your writing career!

YALITCHAT and it's goldmine of YA wonderfulness can be found by clicking on the link. 

And second, my publisher Strange Chemistry is having an Open Door submissions event until April 30th. This is a huge opportunity for unagented authors to get that polished manuscript into an editors hands.

From Strange Chemistry's website:

If you have a complete YA novel, and are unagented, we’ll happily read it for possible publication – provided you submit it to us between April 16th and 30th 2012. (If you are agented, this isn’t for you.)
Still here? Good.
This page is full of things you Need To Know. You’ve spent months – or possibly years – perfecting your novel; make sure you take twenty minutes or so to read the guidelines on this page. And by guidelines, we of course mean: instructions carved in stone. Last year we rejected far too many submissions simply because the author did not follow the submission guidelines.
What we’re not looking for:
• Anything other than SF/F. If you’ve written a brilliant contemporary YA novel, that’s great, but not what we’re after. We don’t publish contemporary YA. It HAS to be SF/F.
• Book 2 or later in an existing series.
• Books that have already been published elsewhere (including podcast, self-published as eBooks or print-on-demand).
• Books that have not yet been completed.
• Children’s or Middle Grade books – YA only.
• Anything shorter than novel length (approx 60,000 to 90,000 words, but there is some flexibility in this).
So, you have until the end of April to polish your manuscript, and to get it in the right format for us.
Include a single file containing your submission. Do not send multiple files.
We prefer RTF files. Word files are OK, as are PDFs. If you don’t know what these terms mean, ask a tech-savvie friend.
Your file should contain the following:
• Page 1: Your name, your contact details (email address is essential, snail mail address is handy, too), the name of the novel and its wordcount. Feel free to include a brief biography here, if you feel it is relevant.
• Pages 2-3: A full synopsis of the novel, including brief descriptions of the major characters. You must include details of the novel’s ending – no keeping us in suspense until we buy the book off you! Feel free to include a paragraph or two of your intentions/inspiration if you wish (this last bit is not essential). We will also smile on you if you can include a one-sentence summary of your novel, here. Yep – you read that right.
• Pages 4 onwards: The first 5 chapters of your novel. If your chapters are very short, or very, very long, send us no less than 10,000 words, no more than 15,000.
Notes on formatting:
• Single-spaced entries are preferred.
• If your manuscript contains italics, use italics. Do not underline, instead.
• Start a fresh page for new chapters.
If you have not followed the guidelines, above, your submission might be rejected without even being read, so give yourself the best chance of success.
The notes above will tell you everything you need to know about submitting your manuscript. IF IT’S NOT MENTIONED ON THIS PAGE, IT’S NOT WORTH WORRYING ABOUT, SO DON’T FEEL YOU NEED TO QUERY THE SMALLEST DETAIL. For instance, if you telephone us to ask what font to use (this has happened) we’re probably not going to want to take your manuscript further.

How to submit your manuscript:
Head on over to the Open Door Submissions page and complete the form.

What we are looking for:
We’re publishing novels, either standalone or as part of greater series. We’re not looking to publish your novellas, short stories (individually or collected in book form) or non-fiction at this time. Our novels are for YA readers – we do not want adult fiction or middle grade fiction.
All our books are “genre” fiction in one way or another — specifically fantasy, science fiction, horror, and that new catch-all urban or modern fantasy. We are entirely happy if you mash-up any of those genres to create something new.
Our books will be published in all English-language territories — notably the UK, US and Australia — so we’ll be buying rights to cover all those. If you are only offering rights in one territory, we will not be able to deal with you. We will be able to offer e-book and audio versions as standard too, plus limited edition and multiple physical formats where appropriate. We are not contracting any work-for-hire titles; we offer advances and royalties.
Beyond all of this, what we’re really looking for in your writing is this:
• A “voice”, that comes from…
~ Confident writing
~ Pacy writing
~ Characters that live, have real relationships and emotions, even in extreme situations
• A sense of vision, a rounded universe that lives and breathes
• Clever construction and good plotting
• Heightened experience – an intensity, extremity or just a way of treating plot or situation in a way we’ve not come across before. “Goes up to 11″, if you know what that means.
We require a brief (two pages) summary of characters, plot and your intentions/inspiration, in that order — plus the opening five chapters. No more, no less. DO NOT send us the opening chapters of your unfinished manuscript – we’re only interested in novels that have been completed. DO NOT send us the full manuscript, unless asked to do so.
Send us the right file, first time. Please, please, please do not send us a submission and then follow it up a few days later with an improved version that you have since edited. Improve it before sending, and send it once.
Your opening chapters will be read by one of our external reading team. If we like what we read, we’ll ask you for the rest of it.
Here is a little FAQ!
You say you want the first 5 chapters. Does that include the prologue I’ve written?
If your prologue is very short, send it, along with the first 5 chapters. If it’s chapter length, send it along with the first 4 chapters.
What if my chapters are all very short?
Send us the first 10-15,000 words, or so.
What is your preferred overall length for finished novels?
For YA we’re looking for (approximately) 60-100,000, but there is some flexibility in this.
My book isn’t really YA, but…
Sorry – it’s not for us, then.
If I send my cool contemporary YA novel, you won’t know until you start reading it, and by then you’ll be hooked…
Nah. All that will happen is that we will stop reading the instant we realise you’ve tried to dupe us, and that won’t do anyone any favours. We keep a book, you know. A black one. And we write in it with a red pen
Will I get a response?
Yes. You will definitely get a response, whether it’s “No, thank you – it’s not for us”, “No, thank you – but we’d like to read more of your work” or “Ooh, yes please – just what we’re looking for”.
Will I get feedback?
Possibly. Probably not much.
How long will it be before I hear from you?
You know – we don’t really know. Last year Angry Robot received nearly 1,000 submissions, and it took 9 months to get through them all. As a general rule of thumb, it generally takes us 3 months or more to respond to solicited manuscripts. Yours might take longer. On the other hand, it might be sooner. You will get a response, though. Feel free to drop us a query if you’ve not heard anything after 6 months.
Six months? Seriously?
We never joke about time. Well, not unless we have a really great time-travel comedy, and then we might.
What happens if the reader likes my work?
If they like your work, you’ll get a polite rejection. You might even get feedback (but that’s not guaranteed).
Ok, ok, Miss Nitpicky – I meant love my work. What happens if they love my work?
If it’s something that fits within the Strange Chemistry brand, and if the external reader adored the book, then they will pass it onto the editor of Strange Chemistry. If THEY love it, then it’ll be taken along to the rest of our acquisitions team. During this acquisitions meeting, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of the book, along with its chances of commercial and critical success, and if the consensus is that we should make an offer, that’s what we’ll probably do.
And then I can quit my day job?
Ummm… no. Well, only if you have an independent income stream. Most professional novelists hold down jobs in addition to their writing. At a later stage in your career you may decide to write full time, but we would not advise it at the outset, unless a life of poverty appeals (but hey – great research for your next novel!)
You guys are making it sound like the chances of my novel being accepted are really slim…
We wouldn’t want you to submit under falsely high expectations. It’s amazing that you’ve managed to get all those words down in the first place, but the road to getting published is another longer haul, entirely. But if you’re brilliant, it will happen, either with us or another open-minded publisher.
So! If, after all that, you’re not put off at all, start getting that novel polished!

Now THOSE are real opportunities!! Don't let them pass you by!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

TBR Tuesday: Ten

TEN, by Gretchen McNeil, is one of the books I had the privilege of reading in pre-ARC form! I don't normally "do" scary books, but I really loved this one. It's fast paced, with twists and turns, romantic tension ... and of course crazy horror elements that kept me cowering under my covers at night. Oh, who am I kidding - I totally read it during the day!

Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Release Date: Sept 18, 2012

Goodreads Synopsis:

And their doom comes swiftly.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off the from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Whoseywhatsit Thursday: The Lucky 7 Meme

Hi Oasis-Seekers!

Sorry I'm late with my post (again).  This week, I thought I'd share a fun meme I was recently tagged in.  You may have heard of or seen it already.

The Lucky 7 Meme works like this:

There are 5 simple and fun rules to the Lucky 7:

  1. Go to page 77 of your current MS
  2. Go to line 7
  3. Copy down the next 7 lines or paragraphs as they're written-- no cheating!
  4. Tag 7 other writers
  5. Let them know!
I just posted mine here

Anyway, I've read some really interesting excerpts from this meme, and I thought I'd share.  So, instead of tagging 7 other writers, I'm tagging all of you! (I know, I'm totally cheating.)

If you've done this meme, post a link in the comments.  If you've read a Lucky 7 Meme post that you really loved, post a link in the comments.  And if you haven't participated, do it now! And post a link in the comments. :)
I can't wait to read your Lucky 7 posts!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Witchy Wednesday

Instead of a Writer's Wednesday, I thought I'd mix things up a bit and have a Witchy Wednesday.  Want to know why?  Because after reading three YA witch books in a row, I'm convinced that witches are the new vampires.  And I think I'm good with that!
As a writer myself, I'm not in the best position to do full-on book reviews, but I can certainly share my book recommendations. I can wholeheartedly recommend these three witch novels, each for different reasons. I'm going to take them in the order I read them and hopefully help you pick the next novel(s) on your TBR list.

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

This novel is set in an alternative pre-industrial America, where women's freedoms are sharply curtailed after a period of having been governed by female witches, but countries like Dubai are hotbeds of religious freedom.  Just the setting alone was highly creative.

The novel follows three sisters, each of them born witches, as the oldest unlocks answers about a prophecy, chooses between two very eligible bachelors, and tries to protect her younger siblings from being discovered by the tyrannical "Brothers" who now rule with an iron fist.

If you like reading novels that are in a more historical vein but still compel you to turn the page, Born Wicked is your must-read witch novel.

The Book of Lost Souls by Michelle Muto

This novel is very, very different from Born Wicked.  It's a modern-day story, set in a small town where supernatural creatures and regular folk live in harmony.  The main character, Ivy, is a witch and her best friends are a werewolf and a vampire. She's lusting after a fellow witch, but there's a super hot demon with his eyes on her.

The opening scene is downright, LOL hysterical. This story is lighter, and perhaps better geared for a slightly younger YA audience who likes some playfulness and doesn't require constant doom and gloom.  That's not to say that there's no danger here -- because there is -- and what the Book of Lost Souls can do is downright creative.

If you like reading novels involving a wide ranger of super-natural creatures, and you like humor as well as you like love and suspense, then The Book of Lost Souls is your must-read witch novel.

Spectral by Shannon Duffy

Spectral released yesterday (I was lucky enough to get an e-ARC) and it was another page-turner! This is also a present-day novel where international witch covens are vying for control of the next most-powerful witch in the world -- who just so happens to be the main character, although she doesn't know it for a good part of the novel. She simply thinks her family's frequent moves are a result of her dad being part of the witness protection program.

On Jewel's most recent relocation, she finally makes a friend and meets two cute boys who are both interested in her. As Jewel unravels the secrets surrounding her family, she also falls hard for one of the boys, but he just might want her dead. The ending of the novel jets the characters into Russia and Venice and has a kick-butt fight scene.

If you like reading novels that have a healthy dose of action/adventure, a sweet love triangle, and some pretty awesome powers, then Spectral is your must-read witch novel.

So, what do you say? Any of these going on your TBR list now?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

TBR Tuesday: The Vicious Deep

Whoa! So sorry for the late post! I'm packing for RT and my brain is ready to leave me. LOL.

Anyway, my can't wait for read is the Vicious Deep by fellow apocalypsie, Zoraida Cordova.  I LOVE mermaid stories, and this one promises to be different, so this one struck a chord with me. :P

When an unnatural riptide sweeps lifeguard Tristan Hart out to sea for three days and then dumps him back on the shore of Coney Island, it’s the start of the Sea Court claiming its own. Suddenly, Tristan’s girlfriend dramas and swimming championship seem like distant worries as he discovers the truth: he’s a Merman. Now Tristan must fight for his life, the lives of his friends, and his humanity (if he still wants it), while competing in a race for a throne as ancient as the gods.

Seductive, duplicitous, and with an agenda of their own, these are not the mermaids you know.

Click here for The Vicious Deep's goodreads page. And here for Zoraida's website where you'll find pre-order information. Out May 1, 2012.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Sykosa Book Tour

Please enjoy this interview with Justin Ordoñez, author of the YA novel (for 18+ readers), Sykosa. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $550 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

 I'm personally participating in the Blogging for A to Z Challenge, where today represents the letter E and an EXCERPT of Sykosa over on Writers Ally, if you are interested in checking it out.

Hi, Justin! Welcome to our Oasis.

 Who or What is a Sykosa? Sykosa is a sixteen year old junior in high school. She’s the main character of a novel I’ve written by the same name. For a quick rundown, she attends a prestigious preparatory academy, is part of the school’s coolest clique, “the Queens,” and she has started dating the boy she’s secretly been crushing on for a year, Tom. It’s taken a year to start dating him because A) there was this SUPER HUGE thing that happened during her sophomore year, and it delayed things and made being intimate with Tom difficult, and B) she kinda starts seeing stars around him and loses the ability to behave in any type of serious manner.

Sounds intriguing.

 Why is Sykosa different from other novels? It’s different because youth driven literature has become full of metaphors for danger that seem to have split into either science fiction or fantasy. (Before I go any further, I like both genres, so I’m not being a snob!) Sometimes, it feels like instead of dealing with real problems, it’s easier to have kids use magic. And instead of facing real contemporary issues, kids should fight aliens or something. These metaphors are meant to represent real life, but I fear they’ve slightly crossed over into a bit of denial about contemporary Americanism, which is a hard topic to write about since our country is in an identity crisis, and has been for about 11 years. Sykosa is an attempt to counter-act this trend. When I was young, I read books about young people that blew me away like One Fat Summer and The Outsiders. These books felt real, and it felt like I could slip into them at any moment. The writing was gritty, it was unapologetic, it was brilliant. I just don’t see many of those around, and I wanted to write one, and I wanted to write one with a female protagonist.

 Why did you chose cross-gender writing? Toward the end of the my high school education, I was allowed to split my school day from my normal, traditional education and a newer style, self-directed educational program. I took an English class where my English teacher, someone who I’m still friends with to this day, gave me only one assignment for an entire semester, and it was, “Perform a deep self-evaluation of yourself and your writing and come up with one goal for what you’re going to improve on.” At the time, I was seriously into writing, and had taken to writing a few books per year, but most of them were in the first person, and they were just me talking about myself. The issue was that I had been in a serious car accident the year prior and I had injured a friend in it. (He fully recovered, but never forgave me). I had tried to write a first person story about myself many times since the accident, but I was constantly failing because I was dealing with some lingering self-loathing and guilt.

As a way to get away from it, I decided I wanted to work on a story I had been thinking about for a while, but that I never started writing for one super scary reason. The main character was a teenage girl. Odd as it might sound, I was intimidated by the fact that the main character was a woman. So I faced my fear and said my goal would be to write women better, and I proceeded to work with several teachers and several female students to help me craft a female character that was realistic, yet met my vision of her as well. This challenge stuck with me into my adult life, and it eventually found its ultimate form in Sykosa.

Wow. That's intense. 
How will I know I’m a fan of Sykosa? I’m glad you asked! has tons of stuff to help you determine if this book is right for you. Below you’ll see some humorous diagrams I’ve made, but at the website you can read an excerpt of the book, watch the book trailer, read character profiles and really get a solid understanding of Sykosa’s world.

What kind of stuff influenced you to write Sykosa? The primary motivators for Sykosa were Buffy The Vampire Slayer and It by Stephen King. It so happened, in 2001, I moved in with a woman I was dating. She was a fan of Buffy, so I had to watch it and became a fan myself. While most people were probably drawn to the vampire killing, it was the last thing I was interested in. I thought Whedon created an interesting cast of personalities and analyzing them was something I enjoyed. At the time, I was reading It. What I liked about It was the small town, insular feel to the novel, and how the inhabitants of this town were able to show a “front” of values, but were secretly hiding and allowing evil to proliferate all around them. From these two things came Sykosa, a girl who does not have any super powers, nor does she kill any vampires, but she did have a traumatic event happen in her life, and she’s struggling to deal with it, and its made no easier by the fact that her small, insular parochial school has decided to ignore the incident.

 Do you have any tips for people who are struggling with writing or want to take it up? I do. First off, keep struggling. It’s a worthwhile struggle. There’s a lot of be gained from writing. And for those who want to take it up and for those who are already writing, I can’t stress this enough: Draft. And by the I mean, write in drafts, don’t sit in a chair and challenge yourself to make it perfect now, write it perfect now, but instead write in drafts. If something only gets 5% better, that’s fine, cause it’s just one draft of what will be many, and eventually, that 5%, that 3%, that 7%—it adds up and you end up with a really good story. But, if you try to knock it out of the park every time you step up to the plate, you’ll swing the bat a whole lot, and you’ll be tired and exhausted when you’re done, but you won’t have a ton to show for it. That’s when most people quit. They think, “I can’t do this” or, “I don’t have the talent.” They don’t understand they’re doing it wrong, that’s all. Killers, Kings of Leon, Oasis or Lauryn Hill.  

Thank you for sharing your unique experiences with us as well as your book! Best of luck from the Oasis.

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Sykosa eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $550 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book. All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win! To win the prizes:
  1. Purchase your copy of Sykosa for just 99 cents
  2. Fill-out the simple form on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event
  4. BONUS: Leave a comment on this post*
Leave a comment, win $100: One random tour commenter will win a $100 Amazon gift card. Just leave a comment on this post, and you'll be entered to win. For a full list of participating blogs, check out the official tour page. You can enter on just my blog or on all of them. Get out there and network! About the book: YA fiction for the 18+ crowd. Sykosa is a sixteen-year-old girl trying to reclaim her identity after an act of violence shatters her life and the lives of her friends. Set at her best friend’s cottage, for what will be a weekend of unsupervised badness, Sykosa will have to finally confront the major players and issues from this event, as well as decide if she wants to lose her virginity to Tom, her first boyfriend, and the boy who saved her from danger. Get it on Amazon. About the author: Sykosa is Justin Ordoñez's life's work. He hopes to one day settle down with a nerdy, somewhat introverted woman and own 1 to 4 dogs. Visit Justin on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Writer Wednesday: Pacing of Your Plot

I'm a plot girl, through and through. Voice and setting are much harder for me to come by! But in this most recent WIP, I'm struggling a little bit with the plot.

I know I'm starting in the right place. We have immediate action, tension, goals, and it's the beginning of my MC's journey. I've actually gone back and restarted the novel based on early CP feedback. But the beginning is very convoluted and intense. A lot of things are explained to my MC by outside people. I'm struggling to find the right balance of forward movement + introspective thoughts + info dump. It's tough, and one I'm sure will require several edits once I get the bulk of the scenes out on the page and see how much space they actually take up!

That's where today's tip comes in. During my research on plot (you know, so I can procrastinate and not actually write - I do gobs and gobs of research!) I stumbled upon this post by Kendra Levin (associate editor for Viking) on WriteOnCon. In it, she uses a very clear image of structure. Now I'm sure you've all seen this before. Perhaps you outlined your novel to fit closely to it. Perhaps after you wrote your first draft, you checked to see on what pages your incidents occurred. Or perhaps you just don't care!

Here's what she says about structure:

Basically every narrative form—movies, novels, short stories, plays, picture books, and more—follows this structure in some way ... Can you deviate from this structure? Absolutely, and I encourage you to be creative and play around with it—otherwise, every story would feel formulaic. But it’s important to be aware of how closely you’re sticking to it and in what areas you’ve chosen to deviate from it.

Before you start your revision, it might be helpful to map out your own plot following this structure. What’s the inciting incident, the event that leads everything else to occur in the story? Does it happen because of a choice the main character makes, or is it an external event that happens to the main character? How do you make sure the action is continually building? At what moments in the story will you surprise the reader with reversals by revealing that things were not exactly as they seemed? How can you drive the action so it builds inexorably to a head, the climax? And what happens after that climactic event? How are you deviating from this structure, and why?

I definitely plan to go back and see how my manuscript fits with this format, but I love that Kendra also tells you that you can (and sometimes should) deviate from the norm.

Because I think I probably am!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012


Sorry for the late post!  It has been a crazy week.   Anyway, here's a book I can't wait to read!

I have heard amazing things about Elizabeth Norris's debut UNRAVELING.  For starters, Liz's agent, the ever-sharkly Janet Reid is so excited about this book, that she READ 410 FULL MANUSCRIPTS in a contest to celebrate the debut. (Side note, her update posts as she reads are informative and funny.  You should check them out.)

Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed—as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she's opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And even though it isn't possible, she knows—with every fiber of her being—that Ben has somehow brought her back to life.

But her revival, and Ben's possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI agent father's files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something—but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what's right in front of her: Everything that's happened—the accident, the murder, the countdown clock, Ben's sudden appearance in her life—points to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she's going to need to uncover Ben's secrets—and keep from falling in love with him in the process.

From debut author Elizabeth Norris comes this shattering novel of one girl's fight to save herself, her world, and the boy she never saw coming.

Click here for UNRAVELING's Goodreads page.  Releases April 24, 2012.

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