Monday, June 30, 2014

Ready. Set. Write! #4

Welcome back to Ready. Set. WRITE! A summer writing intensive with the purpose of writing, revising, planning, and keeping each other accountable.

We will share goals on Mondays. You can sign up at any of the host blogs (Jaime, Alison, Katy, Erin). Don't forget to hop around to encourage other participants!

Last week's goals:
  •  I REALLY want to complete my current draft and send to readers by June 30. It's ambitious though. I'm going for it! My minimum will be 5 chapters. COMPLETE!! Much rejoicing!
  • Write synopsis of WIP. Potentially enter in 2 RWA contests (material ready except synopsis) COMPLETE! Synopsis written and I decided on 1 RWA contest for this new MS.
Goals for this week:
  • Tackle re-organization and edits for a different manuscript. I've already ID'ed what I'd like to change and have cut and blended a few scenes. This week I would like to recraft previously edited-out scenes to add back into the novel (fun, huh?) and check for overall flow and themes related to specific feedback.
  • Provide feedback on another writer's manuscript excerpt
  • Finish reading 2 current books and start/finish another over the long weekend
The biggest challenge this week:
  • Organizing what to do next. Getting to a stopping point for 1 project before moving on to the next. I'm still planning to do Camp NaNoWriMo for July, but I have another project that takes precedence. My Camp Nano wordcount goal is low so I can manage both.

How did your goals go this week? Anything fun planned for the holiday weekend?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cover Reveal: Channel 20Something by Amy Patrick

Today, I'm happy to share a cover reveal for a fellow YARWA (say it like a pirate!) author, Amy Patrick's Channel 20Something.

Amy is a two-time Golden Heart contest finalist. I read one of her finalist manuscripts for my RWA chapter's Four Seasons contest. I love when I can connect names and faces and books which makes this wide world of publishing a little smaller.

Here's more about Amy's book:

Channel 20Something by Amy Patrick (20Something, #1) Publication date: August 12th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance 
Twenty-two-year-old Heidi Haynes is almost one year into her “real life.” She has her first reporting job and her first apartment, but she’s yet to experience first love. Yes, she’s in a comfortable relationship with her college sweetheart, and according to her friends and family, he’s perfect for her. But for some reason she’s not as eager to talk about walking down the aisle as he is. 
And while Heidi’s doing what she wants to do, she’s not where she wants to be. She longs for big cities, big-market breaking news, and real independence from her way-too-close-by helicopter parents. Problem is, the last time she left the security of home for new places and new people, things didn’t go so well. Disastrously, in fact, and she came running back to a local college and a “safe” boyfriend. 
Well-traveled Californian Aric Serrano plans to stay in small-market-Southern-Hell just long enough to grab a cup of coffee and put together a kick-ass “escape tape”. He’ll serve his one-year contract, then he’s taking off for a higher rung on the TV sports ladder—alone—the way he likes it. But when he walks into the newsroom and meets Heidi, he may have finally found something and someone worth committing to. 
Heidi would be so much more comfortable if she could avoid her new co-worker—he’s just her type—the type she’s so careful to avoid. But that becomes impossible when she and Aric are forced to work together on the weekend news. Now there’s no denying the attraction between them, and she’ll have to decide between settling for the “good enough” life she already has or taking the risk of going for what she dreams of, an exciting career and a real love.

And here is the reveal:

Amy is a two-time Golden Heart finalist (2013 and 2014). She lives in Rhode Island with her husband and two sons and actually craves the heat and humidity of Mississippi, where she grew up. She's been a professional singer and news anchor and currently narrates audio books as well as working as a station host for a Boston TV station.

Author links: 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Ready Set Write Update #3

Welcome back to Ready. Set. WRITE! A summer writing intensive with the purpose of writing, revising, planning, and keeping each other accountable.

We will share goals on Mondays. You can sign up at any of the host blogs (Jaime, Alison, Katy, Erin). Don't forget to hop around to encourage other participants!

 Goals from last week:
  • Tackle the middle chapters of my WIP, craft new scene COMPLETE!
  • Work in feedback from critique group COMPLETE!
  • Potentially join a Savvy Authors plotting workshop I passed on this.
  • Start reading The Truth About Alice for the Fierce Reads author tour COMPLETE!
 Goals for this week:
  •  I REALLY want to complete my current draft and send to readers by June 30. It's ambitious though. I'm going for it! My minimum will be 5 chapters.
  • Write synopsis of WIP. Potentially enter in 2 RWA contests (material ready except synopsis)
One word that sums up revisions for the week:
  •  Swoon :)
 The biggest challenge this week:
  • Working out which scenes to keep, which to cut. My critique group helped with brainstorming and I feel much better about the direction.
Two more things! 
  • I took headshots with a photographer yesterday! Yayy! Changes to my blog upcoming with a shiny new design and photo. I'm sticking with blogger for the time being since it works for me.
  • I just found out I will be a mentor with this year's Pitch Wars! Brenda Drake runs contests for writers (one of which I participated in 2012). More to come on that, and some chatter going on now under #PitchWars on twitter.
Girls wanna have fun

Happy writing/reading/revising this week! Let me know how you're doing in the comments.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer Reading Challenge

After the winter we had in the Midwest, I'm pretty glad it's summer. I've got a bunch of writing projects on the horizon, but I also view summer as reading time, which probably goes back to those lazy kid days where I filled my summers reading books and riding bikes.

The YA Buccaneers are helping our reading goals by offering prizes and a pretty cool Summer Reading Bingo board.

My first book on deck is Jennifer Mathieu's The Truth About Alice.

Lucky me, I get to meet her tonight at a local Fierce Reads tour event! Jennifer and I share an agent, so I've had her book on my list for a long while.

After reading the first few chapters last night--wow. Each chapter alternates with a new POV about Alice Franklin, a rumored "slut" who is supposedly responsible for causing the death of a star athlete in a small town. The way the story is told makes it so powerful, in a similar vein to Sioban Vivian's The List.

Go ahead and join in on the summer reading challenge! You don't have to fill all the Bingo squares, they are just to get you started.

What books do you have on your summer list?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Ready. Set. Write! #2

Ready. Set. Write is a summer writing accountability blog hop set up by  Jaime Morrow, Alison Miller,Katy Upperman, and Erin Funk. Every Monday post an update and link your check-in post to one of those blogs.

Goals from last week:
  • Incorporate feedback from my Margie Lawson course on first chapters CHECK
  • Prep a chapter submission for my critique group CHECK--And read critiques
  • Work on a revision outline for another project-CHECK!*
Success! I put an asterisk next to the revision outline because while I did complete this, I still feel stuck on how to go about a revision. I made the baby step but I'm hesitant how to approach it.

Goals for this week:
  • Tackle the middle chapters of my WIP and craft a new scene that pulls new elements together
  • Work in feedback from critique group
  • Potentially join a Savvy Authors plotting workshop to prep for Camp Nano/Savvy Authors bootcamp in July to fast draft a new novel (which is one of my summer goals, to either work on something new or revise an older project). So many decisions!
  • Start reading The Truth About Alice for this week's Fierce Reads author tour on Friday

Biggest Challenge Faced This Week
Deciding how to fix plot issues. There is no one right answer, and every change has a domino effect.

Please check out the other blogs if you're participating. Otherwise, happy writing and reading this week!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Blogfest Then and Now: Sixteen Candles

The greatest films stand the test of time, speaking to us in different ways at various life stages. Is there a movie that was a part of your life when you were younger that you see differently now? Like fine wine, has it improved with age or did it die in the bottle? Has maturity brought you new insights you missed in your youth? 
Join us for "Then and Now," a bloghop hosted by The Armchair Squid, SuzeNicki Elson and Nancy Mock.  
I happened to see this on Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog. I immediately thought of the John Hughes 1980s teen classic Sixteen Candles since I just saw it on cable a few weeks ago. 

I came to this movie a decade after it first became popular, but even in the '90s it was kind of a teen requirement to watch a few John Hughes movies (my favorite still being Ferris Beuhler).

But Sixteen Candles ... ehhh, there's a lot that doesn't hold up. And I don't just mean this:

Specimen A: 80s fashion
I'm talking the one edge of diversity: Long Duk Dong. 

Specimen B: the "Chinaman" *cringe*
He is such an outlandish caricature, there is literally no scene involving him that is not at least mildly offensive. The foreign exchange student trope is a well-worn one, and can still work for laughs if crafted well (Cry Baby comes to mind, with an exchange student who only answers "Yah!" to every question. Though, the whole movie is satire so there isn't a single stereotype skipping out on the send-up treatment).

The grandparents who host Long Duk Dong are at least played as hapless and clueless. That for me works because they are the idiots who don't get modern teens--American or not. But each time Long Duk Dong appears and a gong sounds ... CRINGE.  

Beyond that issue, there's the nerd-wins-girl trope with Anthony Michael Hall's geeky Farmer Ted character. While it's amusing when Ted holds up Sam's (Molly Ringwald) underwear in the boy's room as a sort of victory--I can laugh at that because it's so pathetic--it's another for him to "win" Jake's cast-off girlfriend Caroline. Jake sends off his beyond-wasted drunk ex with Ted presumably to do what he wishes. Which is a real jerk move for the hero of the movie. She wakes up with Ted having no idea what happened. She ends up the booby (pun intended) prize for the nerd to earn his street cred as a man, by either having slept with her or talking up as if he has.

Specimen C: classy move, dude

But that's teen boys for you! Lighten up! 

Is it? Should I? Check out this thoughtful piece on exactly this same nerd-wins-girl trope posted just a few weeks ago after that tragic murder spree in California: Your Princess Is In Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds. Pop culture reflects more than just a few low-blow jokes. What are we really saying when hot drunk girls are the prize? Or a conquest?

Specimen D: teen awkward IS funny
Okay, so this post went to a deeper place than some of you might have expected. While I can still laugh at Joan Cusak's character wiping her face with a skirted applique on her sweatshirt, and the whole idea of a "beau-hunk" makes me laugh, there's much to this movie that should probably be left to collect dust back in the '80s. 

Buehler? Buehler?

Are there any classic movies you see differently now that you're older? Please comment!

And also take a visit to the other blogs in the hop:

1.The Armchair Squid2.Jay Noel
3.Nicki Elson's Not-So-Deep Thoughts4.Stephanie Faris, Author
5.Romance Under Fire6.Subliminal Coffee
7.Alex J. Cavanaugh8.Michael @ In Time ...
9.Nan @ Hungry Enough To Eat Six10.Servitor Ludi
11.Susan Says12.angryparsnip
13.Lynda R Young14.Mammy & Scarlet O'Hara
15.Jennifer Lane Books16.The Geek Twins
17.Kim Karras18.Arlee Bird's Tossing It Out
19.The Writing Sisterhood20.ET Smith
21.Carrie-Anne's Magick Theatre22.Empire's 5-star 500
23.DG Hudson-Rainforest Blog24.Stephanie Scott

Thursday, June 12, 2014

To Be Read Shelf Crisis!

Let's be honest: it's a nice problem to have if your shelves are too full of books you haven't read.

And yet.

My shelves are full of books I haven't read!

I still have books from last summer's RWA Nationals conference I haven't read (mostly on the bottom shelf there). I've made a dent in what I brought home, and I gave away half of my haul (with so many free books, I was really choosy to begin with and still ended up shipping books home).

I'm officially imposing a No Library Books rule this summer.
(One exception: audio books which I listen to while driving.)

Don't even ask me about my e-reader.... Possible moratorium on cheapie ebooks as well.

Do you have too many books on your TBR shelf? What strategies have you used to whittle down the list? 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Ready. Set. Write!

Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that provides an opportunity to cheer on other writers. This year, the RSW hosts are Alison Miller, Katy Upperman, Erin Funk, and Jaime Morrow. Update posts go up on your blog on Mondays.

I'm so glad to continue with writing accountability this summer. I have a lot to tackle and I'll need a plan to be able to do everything!

Goals for the week:
  • Incorporate feedback from my Margie Lawson course on first chapters
  • Prep a chapter submission for my critique group
  • Work on a revision outline for another project
Goals for the summer:
  • Complete revisions on current YA contemporary (send to readers, make changes)
  • Begin revision of a previous project (outline, make plan, create revised draft)
  • Potentially fast draft a new YA contemporary for July Camp NaNoWriMo

Book Review: Twisted Miracles by A.J. Larrieu

Twisted Miracles (Shadowminds #1)
A.J. Larrieu
Urban Fantasy
Published: April 2014

I used to read more Urban Fantasy than I do now, though I do occasionally pick them up if the book is well recommended, or it seems to have a new angle off the vampire/werewolf stuff (though I recently read the very engaging The Trouble with Fate by Leigh Evans which involves werewolves and is fantastic (it also has a sentient amulet as a legit side character.)).

In Twisted Miracles, Cassandra is traumatized by her telekinectic gift which led to a classmate's death when she was newly experiencing her powers. Now, years later, she's summoned back home to New Orleans after her best friend turns up missing. Cass and her ex Shane, who is her best friend's brother, use their powers to search the underbelly of New Orleans, and discover the kidnapper is targeting those who have abilities.

The New Orleans setting really comes alive, where unique elements of the bayou and the French quarter add flavor to the story. This is also a world that feels fully realized. First books in a series have a lot of work to do, and this one does well at introducing elements as they're necessary, all while keeping the story moving along.

And I have to say this. The tension between Cass and Shane is really well done. Because they have a history, their past hurts color everything they say or do around each other. Their relationship is difficult and messy, and it's interesting to see how they need each other and at the same time, what they refuse to admit. As "heat levels" go with romance, this climbs up there at times. And it's amazing how the telekinesis and mind powers became sensual between Cass and Shane--some truly inventive writing that impressed me.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG)

Insecure Writer's Support Group is a network of bloggers supporting one another through encouraging posts. The group posts the first Wednesday of every month, and is a place where writers can express doubts and concerns without fear. A safe haven for writers.

On the writing road with my literary agent:

I thought I'd talk this month about my experience so far working with a literary agent. It's been a little over a year that we've been working together. We mainly communicate by email which works fine by me. I aim to be a low-maintenance type client, though sometimes that's not possible.

See, I was kind of freaking out. Not about the story we'd finished but about the one that the word REVISION sent me crawling into a dark corner. Maybe I'm being dramatic (Hello, writer) but every time I started to think about revising this project it was either a.) scrap the whole thing, start over or b.) maybe this could be crafted as a YA historical magical realism southern gothic teen angst epic drama ... and I felt my sanity slipping.

So we set up a call. And while I've met my agent in person, for some reason I was really nervous to call her. Which is stupid. So I viewed this like any professional call I would make for my day job. Because really, I've surpassed the idea of hobby writing now that I've contracted with a literary agency. Writing may be my second job (that doesn't yet pay me), but it's still an area where professionalism matters, and if I had doubts or concerns about something with a client/customer at my day job, I would absolutely call.

Of course my agent was very professional, and beyond that, friendly, because she's awesome. We even ended up talking about Supernatural (we are both loyal Dean fans). But what she said that stuck with me was this: "I hear the concern in your voice. I want you to know I'm not concerned. I believe in your ability as a writer."

Wow. That meant so much. And, knowing we were on the same page really helped.

I have writer friends who've said the same thing. The same writers who have had to tell me, "This is all find and good, but where's the plot?" and "Don't kill me, but do you need this entire scene? It kind of doesn't go anywhere."

That stuff is painful to hear at the time, but so worth it. I'd like to think I'm working toward better writing in part because of the people who've told me those things and those who've discussed plot points and character development and trends and all the stuff we get stuck on.

What support have you received as a writer that helped you? Please share in the comments!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Book Review: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

image: Goodreads
This Song Will Save Your Life
Leila Sales
Young Adult Contemporary
Published: 2013

My track record with this author's books is that I read them in one day. Start to finish, one day, and I cannot put them down.

Elise's story is a sad one. She is an outcast, always on the edges looking in. She is precocious, unwilling to conform, and thus ostracized at school. Even when she spends the summer watching all the reality TV and teen movies everyone else does, and goes to the mall and buys a whole new wardrobe, she is rewarded with bottom-feeder status after taking a chance meeting new friends.

So she tries to kill herself. This is early in the book and is essentially backstory, so not a full spoiler here. This story details the aftermath of her attempt and the new life Elise finds when she walks the neighborhood at night and stumbles onto a warehouse district with a secret dance club. College kids, DJs, the music nightlife are so unlike the petty hierarchy of high school, she thinks she has a chance.

Elise makes a lot of mistakes with her friendships and within her family. Partly her decisions come from her personality, but many of them are shaped but that insistent need to belong, whether she projects it outward or not. Even outcasts who are proud of being different still crave that need to have someone understand them. Elise wants to protect her new interests and friends, even if the cost is hurting people she cares about. This book takes a little bit more mature look at the high school popularity thing and doesn't quite go where you expect in a lot of ways. Parents with layers help, and a complicated family situation that brings out a lot of endearing qualities in Elise. Overall, a great, solid read.