Thursday, May 30, 2013

WHOSEYWHATSIT THURSDAY: The Importance of Book Reviews

I love reading book reviews.

Actually, let me restate that. I love reading honest book reviews. Not the "this author was so mean to me at a book signing" jaded ones. Not the "I'm the author's best friend, therefore I have to write a glowing review" gushing ones. Not the "I hate the cover, but I've never read the book" non-applicable ones.

I like the honest, in depth reviews. Whether it's on a blog, Goodreads, or Amazon, I read reviews before I invest in a novel ... and sometimes I will read a review after I finish the book too. I like to glean new insight and find like-minded readers. It's what I love about Goodreads. I can find a similar reviewer, and easily pick out new books based on the ones they rated highly.

I'm not going to do that for the people who only give 5 stars, or 3 stars, or 1 star for that matter. The best reviewers are the ones who dispense a variety of ratings, who give reasons behind their review, and who are objective.

Are you a reviewer? Feel free to post your blog URL or Goodreads username in the comments below!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Writer's Wednesday: Realistic vs. Believable

This week, I'm revising an old manuscript. And I've been thinking about a piece of writing advice I heard some time ago at a conference (SCBWI Florida--the next conference is coming up next week!!!!): Your characters/their actions/dialogue/plot have to be BELIEVABLE but not necessarily REALISTIC.

I've heard this before, and it's usually emphasized when discussing dialogue. You know, the whole, "Real people talk with lots of ums and uhs and stops and starts. No one wants to read that." (Which is completely true, by the way. Great dialogue is believable without being truly realistic.)

But I've also run into this as an issue in my manuscripts as it relates to character actions/reactions. It seems there is a fine line between realistic behavior and believable behavior. Particularly when it relates to information the reader knows and the protagonist doesn't.

For example, in one of my old manuscripts (a paranormal), there is something strange going on. The protagonist doesn't like it/has a bad feeling, but REALISTICALLY, there is no reason for him to be truly alarmed. It's weird, but he has no reason to think that anything really bad is happening--until it gets really bad.

At least, that's how I want it to come across. But I've had readers question why he doesn't do something sooner. And the only reason I can think of for this is that they, as the reader, have read the description of the book. They KNOW something really bad is happening. So they want the protag to act sooner, and they have trouble BELIEVING that he wouldn't.

Anyway, I'm struggling with this line in my writing right now. Have you ever run into this problem? Have you ever read a book and had trouble with believability because the character was perhaps too realistic?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

TBR Tuesday

I hope everyone had a fabulous Memorial Day!

With the end of the school year this week, I'm in the mood of a fun summer romance read.  When I read the description for this one, I knew it was a must-read for me.  What do you think?

THE RULES OF SUMMER by Joanna Philbin

There are two sides to every summer.

When seventeen-year-old Rory McShane steps off the bus in East Hampton, it's as if she's entered another universe, one populated by impossibly beautiful people wearing pressed khakis and driving expensive cars. She's signed on to be a summer errand girl for the Rules -- a wealthy family with an enormous beachfront mansion. Upon arrival, she's warned by other staff members to avoid socializing with the family, but Rory soon learns that may be easier said than done.

Stifled by her friends and her family's country club scene, seventeen-year-old Isabel Rule, the youngest of the family, embarks on a breathless romance with a guy whom her parents would never approve of. It's the summer for taking chances, and Isabel is bringing Rory along for the ride. 

But will Rory's own summer romance jeopardize her friendship with Isabel? And, after long-hidden family secrets surface, will the Rules' picture-perfect world ever be the same?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Today's stink

Okay y'all, have you seen today's stink in the writing world?
Amazon has released it's platform for making bank on fan-fic. 
Suddenly my Twitter and FB feeds exploded with people reacting to the news. You can find all the info on KindleWorlds HERE
Fan-fic writers will be able to upload and sell their stories based off other licensed authors/creators characters and worlds. So far, the major liscensor is Alloy Entertainment, the people behind The Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars and more. We all know how Alloy cut LJ Smith out of the series she'd been writing, so this kind of a move doesn't surprise me from them.
I'm not sure how I feel about this. If you want to write fan-fic, more power to you. To each their own. Have a blast. I know lots of writers that do. I never have, unless you consider Broken fan-fic of Frankenstein.
Some camps say any publicity is good publicity. Others are saying mine-mine-mine! Others have so many thoughts and concerns they're hard to voice. I'm in an odd position to look at this now, and once I figured out what KindleWorlds is, my brain went into a tangled mess of what-ifs, and what-about-the-authors, and would-people-really-pay-for-its. Then, Fifty Shades came to mind, and I though Yep, lots of people woul pay for it. Which drags my brain further down the rabbit hole of. it's based off SMeyers world/characters, shouldn't she get a cut? It's going to be a film, shouldn't the CREATOR OF THAT WORLD get something out of it? KindleWorlds is opening up a big wriggling, gritty, can of worms.
You can read a great look at this issue, and some fab feedback on Chuck Wendig's blog HERE
A business-y look at itcan be found on John Scalzi's blog HERE
And a post by the brilliant Gwenda Bond HERE on how the properties in question so far are "packaged."

So what do you think? Good idea? Bad idea? Are you into fan-fic?

Thursday, May 16, 2013


When people find out I'm a writer ... that I've written several manuscripts ... they always ask a slew of questions. And somewhere in the midst is the question "where do you find the time?"

These people know me. They know I have three insanely busy children, that I'm the incoming PTA president, that I'm on the board for my daughter's cheer squad, that I work as an editor.

My first answer is that I'm a bad mom. When they laugh at that response - I adjust the answer a little and tell them that I steal time.

You see, for me to write - I need complete silence and I have to know I will have a significant chunk of uninterrupted time ahead of me.  I can't write when my husband is upstairs taking a shower, because inevitably he will come downstairs with a question.  I can't write when I know my kids will be dropped of in 10 minutes, because I don't want to be in the middle of a scene.

That leaves me approximately five mornings a week ... five mornings to concentrate and focus and power through my drafting or revisions. And so I have to try to keep everything else off my plate.

I do that by stealing time.

I steal minutes from my kids ... when they are doing homework I put away the dishes while looking over their shoulder.  When they are playing nicely together upstairs, I pay the bills.  I steal hours from my free time ... when I have errands to run, I schedule them when I will be in the area for something else. Or I time them so I can complete everything in one mad rush of a weekend morning.  I steal minutes from my relaxing evenings ... making lunches while catching glimpses of Grey's Anatomy or folding laundry while catching up with my husband about his day.

By getting all my tasks done, I am able to really write during the very few minutes of peace and quiet.

How do you fit in writing?

photo credit: dougbelshaw via photopin cc

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Writer's Wednesday: Writing Check-In

Happy Wednesday, Oasis-Seekers!

I don't know about you guys, but the end of the school year is kicking my butt. I have three kids and teach preschool, so ... YIKES. End of year projects, parties, awards, gifts, and on and on.

There's not enough coffee to get me through the next two weeks. *needs coffee I.V.*
Image courtesy of  Scotty00 via WanaCommons

Consequently, my writing has been taking a bit of a backseat lately, but I really want to make some headway on revisions before the upcoming local SCBWI conference.

So, I thought it might be fun to do a bit of a check-in and goal-setting here. I'm going to give myself a lot of leeway, given my ridiculously long and overwhelming To-Do list, but feel free to be as loose or as strict with your goals as you want. Post them in the comments, and I will check back in with you and see how you did.

For me, by the end of the month (May), I want to finish revising TS and send it out, and do at least four more chapters of revision on M. (Eep! That sounds like a lot!)

What are your goals? Or, if you don't feel like setting any, how is your writing coming along? What are you working on? Where are you in the process?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

TBR Tuesday

I thought I'd mix it up a little this week and NOT ONLY tell you about an upcoming release I'm looking forward to, but the next book that's getting dusted off and moved to the top of my current to-read list.

First, I just moved CREWEL by Gennifer Albin to the next in line on my personal TBR pile. I know this has gotten some mixed reviews, but it's one I've just got to read.  Should I be excited?

Enter a tangled world of secrets and intrigue where a girl is in charge of other’s destinies, but not her own.
Sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has always been special. When her parents discover her gift—the ability to weave the very fabric of reality—they train her to hide it. For good reason, they don’t want her to become a Spinster — one of the elite, beautiful, and deadly women who determine what people eat, where they live, how many children they have, and even when they die.
Thrust into the opulent Western Coventry, Adelice will be tried, tested and tempted as she navigates the deadly politics at play behind its walls.  Now caught in a web of lies and forbidden romance, she must unravel the sinister truth behind her own unspeakable power.  Her world is hanging by a thread, and Adelice, alone, can decide to save it — or destroy it.

And I'm really excited to read... BELLE EPOQUE by Elizabeth Ross

When Maude Pichon runs away from provincial Brittany to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Desperate for work, she answers an unusual ad. The Durandeau Agency provides its clients with a unique service—the beauty foil. Hire a plain friend and become instantly more attractive.

Monsieur Durandeau has made a fortune from wealthy socialites, and when the Countess Dubern needs a companion for her headstrong daughter, Isabelle, Maude is deemed the perfect adornment of plainness.

But Isabelle has no idea her new "friend" is the hired help, and Maude's very existence among the aristocracy hinges on her keeping the truth a secret. Yet the more she learns about Isabelle, the more her loyalty is tested. And the longer her deception continues, the more she has to lose. 

Inspired by a short story written by Emile Zola, Belle Epoque is set at the height of bohemian Paris, when the city was at the peak of decadence, men and women were at their most beautiful, and morality was at its most depraved.

It comes out June 11th, so less than 1 months away.  What have you been looking forward to lately?

Thursday, May 09, 2013


I don't know about you, but I like the series I read to look like series. I used to be batty about them being the same size, but I got over that. I figure if I need to read it, I'm buying it no matter what size it is. The cover art, though... It has to look like a series for me. Amy Plum's Revenant series got it right:

These covers go together. Theme, color saturation, font, filigree. All of it. They're gorgeous on their own, and stunning altogether. This is a series done right. Another couple exmples: Leah Clifford's A Touch series, and Kiersten White's Paranormalcy series.

It really makes me cranky when a publisher changes the theme/style for a series' cover in the middle. You expect them to look similar, like the examples above, so you know what you're looking for when you go to the bookstore, so they present a single theme. It really throws me off when covers change, when the cover artists, or marketing department makes a change that really seems to jump the shark. I can't be the only one so nutty about covers, right?

For example, the Nightshade series, by Andrea Cremer:

The cover for the first has a hint of feral wth her eye color, but it's harder to guess the genre or subject matter from the image. Flowers? Pretty blonde? Wispy hair? Intense expression? What is this cover saying, exactly? For me, it's very hard to guess the story content from the image, until I look at her eyes.

Then you have the cover for the sequel:
This one screams paranormal, it has the word 'wolf' in the title, and it has it in the feel of the cover, too. We've gone from just animal eye color to a more agreesive crouching pose, like the model could pounce. The dark background shouts this is a paranormal book. The moon on high behind her cinches it. I would know this is a werewolf book without the title or blurb.

Do the two go together? Not to me. Not at all. It make my image-oriented nit-picky brain kinda twitchy.

How about another example from a very popular YA series?

The cover for Beth Revis's Across the Universe sold me even before I read the first chapter online. The colors, the design... *covets* You knew it was sci-fi, you knew it was star-crossed lovers, or a story set in space, maybe both in one. I HAD TO HAVE IT. The close, almost-kiss position of the models on the cover says so much about the story, the gorgeous starry sky says a lot about it too.

Then, the sequel cover was released. I was amoung the hundreds waiting, wiping foam from the corners of my mouth. And the cover did not disappoint:
They are BEAUTIFUL together. *contented sigh* The artist did a fantastic job of rendering an amazing sequel into one concise image. Again, you know this is a sci-fi, space, and romance in one novel. The colors are to die for gorgeous. The models say so much, possibly holding hands, his head bowed, her hand reaching for something beyond their bubble of life. Yep. It's perfect with its predecessor, and a perfect summary of the story.

After these covers I was dying for the third. Imagine my shock and, yes, diappointment when the cover for the final book was revealed...
So not like the others, it was almost a smack in my panty-drooly-gimme more face. Where's the wistful colors, the sense of yearning in the models? Wait! Where are the models?? Sure, the vast majority of this story takes place on a planet, not a spaceship, but it's just so DIFFERENT. Nothing similar in composition, style, color, not even font, and no models. Yes, it fits elements of the novel, but I do not believe it fits the story as well as the others fit theirs. (I still liked the case you were wondering. I had to have it despite the mismatched cover)

Now, when you look at all the paperback versions of this series, the three have a definite theme and continuity, all close to the cover above. I feel a tad cheated I didn't get a pretty third cover, and I know if I hadn't seen the original cover, I would've missed out on an amazing series.

What about you? Are you nutso about cover art continuity? Does the cover image matter to you? Do you have examples of cover series gone wrong? 

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Writerly Wednesday: Character of Characters

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I was recently asked what drew me to writing in the first place. When I really thought about it, I realized it all boiled down to character - the character of the characters.

For me, people move a story forward. Yes, they participate in scenes, actions, thoughts, and such. Some stories contain so much adventure and mystery that it's easy to get completely absorbed in the world of the characters. But, as a reader, without developing a relatable connection with the who of a character or
characters I lose interest. Therefore, I probably won't care what the story is about or where it's headed. 

This thought process lends lots of positive avenues, when I'm in the mist of developing the who of my characters. Their likes and dislikes, their hopes, dreams, and frustrations are what not only motivate them to progress in the story, but also move me to push them and explore the world I live in as well as the one I'm creating for them. 

So, to begin developing character within my characters I usually ask all or at least a combination of the following:
  1. Conflicts - What is my character going to face that he/she would rather not?
  2. Motivations - What motivates my character to move/change/change way of thinking?
  3. Intentions - What are my characters inner and outer intentions?
  4. Weakness - What weaknesses affect my character? How do these change his/her behavior both inwardly and outwardly? 
  5. Fears - What frightens my character? What fears will not change his/her reaction to the world around them and what fears will? What is his/her greatest fear?
  6. Quirks - What strange or unusual feature does my character possess? Is it a physical feature or an ideal? Maybe both. 
  7. Perceptions - How does my character view his/her world at the beginning of the story? (include both public and private views) 
  8. Foundation - What is the one thing this character will not ever bend on? What influenced them to be so steadfast in this belief that it has helped mold them into who they are at the story's starting point?
  9. Likability - Would I like this character? Would we be friends?
  10. Connections - Does this character remind me of someone in my life? Why and what about him/her does?
I ask that last two questions to help myself become better in tune with the character and who he or she really is. As the writer, I want my readers to believe the character is living and breathing off the pages. To do that, I must believe that as I write.

What questions do you ask yourself, while developing character?

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

TBR Tuesday: Reboot by Amy Tintera

It's Tuesday - time to talk about a book in our To Be Read stack.

Reboot by Amy Tintera actually hit stores today and I'm so excited to delve in!

Amy lives nearby and has been to several local author events. She's SUCH a sweetheart and this book looks amazing.

Goodreads Synopsis:
Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).

Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.

The perfect soldier is done taking orders.
Check out the trailer too!

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Whoseywhatsit Thursday: Whatcha Bloggin' About?

I've had blog content on the brain lately.

I used to mostly follow blogs through the reader on my Blogger dashboard, but since I took over the pre-k at my work, I haven't had as much time to scroll through. So now, I mostly read via clicking through on twitter or facebook, or blogs I subscribe to via email.

And recently, I've gotten a couple of emailed blogs that have me scratching my head. Like, constant posts about appearances. Now, I'm the first one to want to show up at author or writer events. Seriously. But, I live in Florida. So as much as I love you, I don't care if you're going to an event in Washington state. Sorry. And I kind of don't think that should be a blog post, you know? Add it to an events tab and tweet it or something.

I'm not talking about a recap with pics and tidbits from an event--I love those. I'm talking about "I'm going to TLA, and will be here, here, and here. Come see me!" I mean, that's great, but you've set up for people from all over the world to get your blog content SENT TO THEIR EMAIL INBOXES. I don't know about you, but I already have to spend thirty minutes to an hour deleting junk email everyday. I don't need to get an extra email about your schedule at an event I'm nowhere near.

Anyway, it got me thinking. What kind of blog content are you looking for, Oasis Seekers? What do you blog about? What blog posts of yours have gotten the most attention? What would you like to see more of here?

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Writer's Wednesday: Have you been a good CP lately?

As I think back on how I got started in writing, and what made me better, I've got to think that critiquing others' work was huge.  It wasn't because I knew so much and had so much to offer other starting writers.  Not at all.  It was that by examining the work of others, I was able to find flaws that I might would have overlooked in my own work.

Things like the dreaded passive voice, annoying dialog tags, overusing a character's name in dialog, and a deluge of adjectives.  When we are writing, these things can all sound really good in our own heads.  For example, when we say:

"I know, Beth, but this is serious."

"I hear you, James."

We often think we're adding extra emphasis or gravity to our words.  But when we read it in others' work, we realize that all it does is add words that characters would probably never say in real life.

So here's my Writer's Wednesday advice for those of you who aren't regularly critiquing another's work: give it a try!  Join the First Pages group on YALitChat (it's free).  Ask a writer friend if they need another set of eyes.  Or even just pick up the book you're reading and pretend you've been hired to edit it.  What would you change?  What bothers you?

Now... how can you change that for the better in your own writing?
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