Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Into Something New

February 29th, the day that happens once every four calendar years. I've always wondered where the idea to use a leap year to balance time with the patterns of the sun came from. So I did what most writers do. I researched.

Good'ole Julius Ceasar came up with the idea over 2,000 years ago. But his idea was flawed. Applying a leap year to each year divisible by four lead to too many leap years. Duh. It was finally corrected approximately 1,500 years later, when the Georgian Calendar was introduced.

But JC was onto something. An idea, a way to take what was in existence and heighten it, make it more productive, appealing. Hmm... Isn't that what writers do?

How can storytellers make the leap from current ideas and ideals to new avenues and arenas?

  • Setting: spice up an average setting with the unexpected. Maybe put a polar bear on the beach in Hawaii or set an igloo on the equator with no signs of melting. 
  • Surprises: have a character do the unexpected - the exact opposite of what he/she is made of. What could the results be? Where could that take the story? What dimension could be added to make it unique. Combinations.
  • Mix familiar histories from totally opposite cultures. I think this could give any Sci-Fi story flare.
  • Personal experiences: Yes, we have similar experiences during those YA years. They are not all the same, though. The differences are in the guts, the threads that patched your life together differently from mine. Maybe take those and add a reaction you wished you'd had back then--even if that was just yesterday.
  • Be brave. Be bold. Don't be afraid of any idea. Brainstorm with a friend.
How will you spend your EXTRA day of writing, this Leap Year? Any thoughts on leaping from stagnant ideas to fresh ones?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Struck, by Jennifer Bonsworth, is one of those books I'm insanely excited to read and wish I could get my hands on! Disaster, electricity, power, lightning ... what more can you ask for? And I totally can't wait to see the book trailer. Check out pics of the making on Jennifer's Facebook page.

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR
Release Date: May 8, 2012

Goodreads Synopsis:
Mia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Whoseewhatsit Thursday: An Open Call for More Stock Photography

It's no big secret that I'm *somewhat* of a cover snob. Even Indies (myself included) really need to have a bang up cover. So we authors go out, hire ourselves a kick-butt designer and then set about to find the perfect picture. Assuming you can't commission your own portrait, that means you start trolling for stock photography.

And therein lies the rub... when it comes to stock art, there just aren't that many choices for YA. Especially pictures that have a mystical aspect to them. Don't believe me? Check this out (these covers, by the way, are what started me on this tangent).
 I was surprised that an Indie author would use the same stock art as a "big house" had used for a well-known, highly publicized author. But then again ... it's stock art.  Big houses don't have a first come, first serve monopoly on stock photos.  In fact, it turns out even the "big boys" use the same stock art as each other.

And if the big houses are having to use the same art as each other, you can bet the Indies are having to do it too. For example, I'd noticed that someone used the same photo as my friend G. P. Ching did on her cover of Soulkeepers. When I wrote her to ask the name of that "other" book, it turns out there was more than one. There were MANY.

 And the same is true even for art. I couldn't believe it when I saw the cover from Brown Eyes. Now, in all fairness, I don't know that Jennifer's book came out first, but let's just say I saw it around WAY before I ever saw the other cover.

But then again... no one owns exclusive rights to stock art. That's why it's "stock." So why should art be any different than photography? Especially when the pickings are so slim?

Which gets back to the point of this post: if you're a photographer, know a photographer, or have a friend who posts on, etc., PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE for the love of all that's holy encourage them to make their art available as stock. The age of the Indie author is rising and we NEED more choices. If you photographers don't help us out, you'll be seeing lots more of this guy!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Writer's Wednesday: Writing, parenting, and magic. Oh my!

So, I’ve been watching a lot of Nanny 9-1-1 lately.  I seem to be addicted to it actually. LOL. But as I was watching one show yesterday, I noticed something.  Raising kids is a lot like writing a book!

 There’s a million ways to do it. There is no ONE right way, but if you’re doing something that isn’t working, everyone will know it.

I don’t want to say wrong way, because there isn’t a wrong way. And just because things work for me, doesn’t mean they’ll work for you.

So it got me thinking about how imperative it is to have a partner.  Sure, it can absolutely be done by yourself, but it’s a lot easier to have another set of eyes.  And it’s okay to ask for help when you just don’t have any clue what to do. AND sometimes you need another set of eyes that because you don’t know something is wrong until someone else points it out.

It also made me think about how I plot, too. Because just because I say I want the characters to do this, doesn’t mean they’ll do it. In that way, they’re a bit like children themselves.  Most are willing to follow the path you set out, but sometimes you end up with a character that really wants his/her way. 

You can try forcing them, but that ends up being a way to go backward, so sometimes compromise is the way to go.  Sometimes it’s okay to let them have their way, and sometimes it needs to be your way or the highway.

And the magic happens when you get it right.  Everything just shines and falls into place when it’s right. 

And it’s a marvelous feeling. Amiright?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

TBR Tuesday: A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink

Tuesdays is for sharing our drooly, I-wanna-read-its and boy do I want to read this! First, OMG, the cover! SO gorgeous, a real sense of intrigue and drama, and still soft and a sense of motion to it with the mists, *sigh* Then, there's the blurb:

A Temptation of Angels

Even angels make mistakes in this page-turning epic romance…

When her parents are murdered before her eyes, sixteen-year-old Helen Cartwright finds herself launched into an underground London where a mysterious organization called the Dictata controls the balance of good and evil. Helen learns that she is one of three remaining angelic descendants charged with protecting the world’s past, present, and future. Unbeknownst to her, she has been trained her whole life to accept this responsibility. Now, as she finds herself torn between the angelic brothers protecting her and the devastatingly handsome childhood friend who wants to destroy her, she must prepare to be brave, to be hunted, and above all to be strong, because temptation will be hard to resist, even for an angel.

And, it's out March 20th!!

I know there's ARCs out there, but I'm not one of the lucky ones to get my mitts on AToA *pouts*. So... I'm anxiously awaiting 3/20/12. 1.) I'm becoming a historical romance fan. 2.) I lovelovelove books set in other cities, and I'm so looking forward to reading this because it's set in London.3.) And her responsibility of prtecting the past/present/future. Ooo I'm hoping there's some temporal traveling!

Author's website:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Collection of LOVE & a Winner!

Major round of applause for all our That's YAmore Blogfest participants! There were so many fantastic excerpts. I'm still fanning myself. But of you must be the winner of a YA read of your choice.

Let's congratulate, KATY UPPERMAN of Musings Of An Aspiring Young Adult Author!!
(Just in need of your mailing addy, Katy.)

For some added spice today, I'd like to give a huge Oasis shout-out for IN HIS EYES Anthology - sixteen short stories, all from the point of view of favored male characters!  The contributors include award winners, frequent "Top 100" placers, and hot 2011 debut authors. Sounds pretty unique!! And guess what? You can download it for FREE. Yup. Just go HERE!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Writer's Wednesday: Keeping Track of Ideas

I don't know about you, but I have ideas popping into my head ALL the time. Ideas for new novels, short stories, characters, scenes, plot twists, etc.

But how do you keep track of them all, especially when a concept is not tied to a specific project or WIP? And what do you do with these ideas?

I'm not as creative as having a journal with a beautiful pen to jot down notes. Instead I keep a lot of in my head, letting things stew until they meld together into something cohesive to work with. I also write down bits and pieces in documents in my laptop. If it's a specific scene or voice, I will try to get it all out before I forget. If it's a basic idea or plot point, I'll throw the notes in a new doc with a tentative title.

The hard part is deciding what to do with it all. I have several novels in my head, and sometimes it's hard to choose what to work on. A lot depends on the market (I'm not going to start anything paranormal unless the concept is fresh and immediately grabs me). A lot depends on my interest in the idea, and how well I think I can execute it at this moment. For one of the projects I'm working on (I'm actually writing 3 novels right now!) I had been contemplating the basic plot line for several months. It wasn't until I nailed the character that I knew I had to dive in and start writing it.

How do you keep track of your ideas and choose what to work on?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

We at The Oasis hope you have a wonderfully romantic Valentine's Day.  And to get you in the mood, we'd like to remind you that today is the last day of the amazing That's YA-more Blogfest!

The full list of participants is here.  And, it's not too late to join in!  Post your entry before 5pm Est today.  Don't forget, the Oasis Sisters will be choosing our favorite post to win a romantic YA book!

Happy reading!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

WRITER WEDNESDAY: Backstitching your manuscript

Writing is a craft, an art, a process. We would like to think we sit to our computers or notebooks, open a vein and bleed a story. In truth, it may feel like it, but writing is only part of the process. Typing The End is amazing (trust me, I know, I did it about a week ago) but there's still much work to be done. There's the dreaded Revisions. For some reason we authors tend to cringe from Revisions as mush as Synopses, like they're the evil under the bed, slinking into the light of our The End glory days.

Let's compare the writing process to other arts and crafts and I'll show you how revising is backstitching your story.

When you paint/draw/color a picture, you start with a light sketch. For writers, this sketch is an outline or rough idea. Then you grab your oil pastels, water colors, colored pencils, whatever medium you choose. To those writing a story that could be Voice, Characterization, Storytelling, and such, the tools we ply to tell the story. When the picture is near completion, the artist adds highlights, lowlights, outlines features to make the picture come to life. In the writing world, those are revisions. They accent plot threads, highlight themes, etc.

Bakers pull out a recipe, kinda like an outline. The flour, sugar, butter and cocoa are similar to a writer's Voice, World-building and Storytelling. After the mixing, comes the baking. Once those cookies and cakes and donuts come out, there's glazes, frostings, and sprinkles to highlight the flavors, accent the appearance, a lot like revisions do for writing. (Okay, admittedly, not all baked items get that extra step, but they usually do here! :P )

Cross-stitchers and embroiderers have charts they follow, much like writers have our outlines and ideas. They gather their floss, needles, scissors--the stitcher equivalent of our writer's tools. Some stitchers, like my Mom, put the floss onto numbered cards, like many writers notecard their stories, then arrange the scenes. When the stitching is done, it's time to backstitch and really outline points of interest, stitch opalescent thread in the eyes, or to highlight jewels, french knot to add depth to flowers, etc. The exact same thing writers do when we revise.  

So...celebrate when you've typed The End (I know I did!), but don't neglect the backstitching to make the story really come to life!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

TBR Tuesday: After Obsession

If you're looking for a young adult story spilling over in mystery, suspense, and surprises, look no further.

Aimee and Alan have secrets. Both teens have unusual pasts and abilities they prefer to keep hidden. But when they meet each other, in a cold Maine town, they can't stop their secrets from spilling out. Strange things have been happening lately, and they both feel that something-or someone- is haunting them. They're wrong. Despite their unusual history and powers, it's neither Aimee nor Alan who is truly haunted. It's Alan's cousin Courtney who, in a desperate plea to find her missing father, has invited a demon into her life-and into her body. Only together can Aimee and Alan exorcise the ghost. And they have to move quickly, before it devours not just Courtney but everything around her.

Filled with heart-pounding romance, paranormal activity, and rich teen characters to love-and introducing an exciting new YA voice, Steven Wedel-this novel is exactly what Carrie Jones fans have been waiting for. Meet your next obsession.
Yeah, AFTER OBSESSION by Carrie Jones & Steven E. Wedel totally has it all! I'm looking forward to reading it. Now go, quick. Add this one to your TBR list. Check it out on Goodreads or Barnes & Noble
Have any of you read this one? Tell us what you thought.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Whoseywhatsit Thursday: Writing Prompt!

It's time for another Whoseywhatsit writing prompt, from yours truly. This week's topic (no surprise) ...

Valentine's Day and LOVE.

Maybe a kissing scene. A first glance. Or a first date ... could be a romantic picnic or a darkened movie theater.

I think the key to these scenes, in order to pull the reader in completely, is to make sure you're using several senses. What does the love interest smell like? Does she have on a flavor Chapstick? What is the texture of his hair? And, even more importantly, what's going on in her head while all this happening?

You have up to 250 words to get your character in the love zone - 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 when you're done, consider joining our That's Y'Amore blogfest!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Writer's Wednesday: Q & A

It's my turn to post a Writer's Wednesday.  I wrote it down, set a reminder in my phone, and now here I am.  But ... I can't decide what to write about.  We've covered the first 250, synopses, critiquing, crit partners, characters, setting, etc.

Then I thought, why not ask our lovely readers what they want to know? :)

So hit me with your questions about writing.  It can be anything.  Plot problem?  Describe it.  Character question?  Ask away.  Query trouble?  Let me have it.

I will stop by throughout the day and answer.  And maybe some of the other Oasis ladies will, too.  Or, maybe another commenter will have the answer!

And if you don't have any questions, I hope you have a lovely Writing Wednesday, full of words and joy. :)

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