Friday, December 31, 2010
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
So go check out what Courtney has to say about How To Deal With Writing For Publication it's got something for everyone, on every part of the publication journey.
And then, if you haven't yet, go check out her books!
Also, don't forget to enter our contest! Last day to enter is December 31st!
Friday, December 24, 2010
Imagine waking up one day in total darkness, unsure of where you are and unable to remember anything about yourself except your first name. You're in a bizarre place devoid of adults called the Glade. The Glade is an enclosed structure with a jail, a graveyard, a slaughterhouse, living quarters, and gardens. And no way out. Outside the Glade is the Maze, and every day some of the kids -- the Runners -- venture into the labyrinth, trying to map the ever-changing pattern of walls in an attempt to find an exit from this hellish place. So far, no one has figured it out. And not all of the Runners return from their daily exertions, victims of the maniacal Grievers, part animal, part mechanical killing machines.
Thomas is the newest arrival to the Glade in this Truman-meets-Lord of the Flies tale. A motley crew of half a dozen kids is all he has to guide him in this strange world. As soon as he arrives, unusual things begin to happen, and the others grow suspicious of him. Though the Maze seems somehow familiar to Thomas, he's unable to make sense of the place, despite his extraordinary abilities as a Runner. What is this place, and does Thomas hold the key to finding a way out?
Kristi's take: I couldn't put this book down. The maze was intriguing, the characters were compelling, and the Grievers were, well, horrifying. My 12-year-old nephew saw I was reading it and flipped out. He said "everyone" at his school is reading it, and that he's dying to read it too. I'm glad I knew ahead of time that it was the first book of a trilogy, because I wanted to keep reading after the end. The Maze Runner is the autographed book I'm giving away for our December contest, so don't forget to enter here.
Has anyone read The Scorch Trials (Book #2) yet? That one is next on my list.
For those who celebrate Christmas, have a fabulous Christmas Eve and a very merry Christmas!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (September 7, 2010)
Nastasya has spent the last century living as a spoiled, drugged-out party girl. She feels nothing and cares for no one. But when she witnesses her best friend, a Dark Immortal, torture a human, she realizes something's got to change. She seeks refuge at a rehab for wayward immortals, where she meets the gorgeous, undeniably sexy Reyn, who seems inexplicably linked to her past.
Nastasya finally begins to deal with life, and even feels safe--until the night she learns that someone wants her dead.
This is the first book in a new trilogy by Cate Tiernan. It's the first book I've read by this author. Nastasya relives a lot of her past while coping with the present and it's almost like reading two books perfectly blended in one. There were some parts of the book I felt were a little predictable, but that didn't stop me from loving it!
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Also, happy birthday to our beloved Jane Austen. "The most unlearned and uninformed female who ever dared to be an authoress."
Nervousness twisted her stomach.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
My name is Kristi and I have an addiction. Technically, I have several if you count chocolate and coffee, but in terms of writer-ly things, I have a small problem with em dashes. One of my critique partners called me out on the em dash addiction, and I went through my manuscript and removed a TON of those puppies. The problem is--they're so much fun. All you have to do is type two hyphens into Microsoft Word and the em dash appears--it's like magic. (Unlike Blogger, which is apparently not magic and won't let me transfer the formatted em dashes into this text)
Here's when it IS acceptable to use the em dash:
1) To indicate an abrupt change in thought. This can also include a parenthetical statement that needs to be set apart. The em dash is used here when you need more 'oomph' than a regular ole comma.
(e.g. One of the best ways to determine which em dashes to remove is--did somebody say chocolate?)
2) To indicate that a sentence is unfinished because the speaker has been interrupted.
(e.g. "If you think I'm just going to stand here, while you point that Taser at me--")
That's pretty much it. Me? My motto has been "Why use a comma when you can have the excitement of an em dash instead?" I haven't deleted all of them, but there was a serious em dash massacre in my house last week.
What about you? Anyone else have em dash love? Any other writing-related addictions you'd care to admit?
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Kelley Armstrong, the impressive #1 NYT bestselling author of the Darkest Powers YA trilogy, gave some quick tips for checking the pacing of your story:
- Active scenes should far outweigh passive scenes, and you shouldn't have too many passive scenes in a row.
- Even passive scenes should be accomplishing something and moving the story forward (e.g. not going on and on about the 'colorful wildflowers dotting the meadow' because I really don't care--unless an intergalactic ship filled with space monkeys is landing on them. Then I care.)
- 'Just do it.' In general, don't have your characters plotting to do something or analyzing how they're going to do something (unless there is inherent conflict in their plotting/analyzing). Just have them do it.
- 'Go in late, get out early.' If you find you don't have enough tension throughout a scene, it's sometimes because you started the scene too early and let it drag on too long. Start it later; end it earlier.
- 'Taking care of business' can usually be left out of your manuscript. This often involves a character getting from Point A to Point B. (e.g. 'Bob put his key in the ignition and started the engine, then strapped on his seatbelt, checked his rearview window and pulled out into traffic to head toward the crime scene.' *yawn* You could just say that 'Bob arrived at the crime scene to find it splattered with Jello and spray starch,' and the reader can infer the basic mechanics of how he got there.
- Dragging dialogue slows down your pacing. As a rule, you shouldn't have more than two pages of dialogue as that can slow down the pacing even more than narrative can -- this is when you end up with 'talking heads.'
- Don't re-hash events in your dialogue that the reader just read about. (e.g., Bob sighed, "Mary Jo, did I tell you about the horrible day I had at school today?" Reader of book: Um, you told me in Chapter Six -- and I really don't want to hear it again.)
- Be careful with your technical details. You want to ensure that your details are correct but don't overdo it just to show people how much research you did. A little Google goes a long way.
- Too many flashbacks slow the pacing. Same with backstory, introspection, and narrative description. Use them sparingly.
- Don't end your chapters after something has already happened; end them when something is about to happen. This makes the reader want to turn the page.
Follow that little rule, and your pacing will be golden. Good luck! Any pacing tips that I missed?
Monday, December 13, 2010
Don't forget to enter our holiday contest here at SIS for your chance to win one of 3 signed books by some uber-awesome authors (James Dashner, Cinda Williams Chima and Lisa McMann)! Good luck...and Happy Monday!
Friday, December 10, 2010
- Reading level: Young Adult
- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: HarperTeen (August 31, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0061985848
- ISBN-13: 978-0061985843
Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.
But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.
So much for normal.
This book is a fresh take on paranormal. Evie is a fun character and the paranormal characters are unique and interesting, without going too far off the beaten path. I loved the faeries in this book (Reth! *swoon*)! And trying to figure out the mysteries woven in the story was a lot of fun. Definitely a book to read for all the paranormal lovers out there.
And don't forget to enter our December giveaway!
Thursday, December 9, 2010
- Every scene needs to move the plot forward, needs to accomplish something
page needs tensionscene
- Don't be passive! Make things happen to your main character, not through a third party
- Ask yourself if this could be dramatized
- "Substitute the word 'damn' every time you are inclined to write 'very'; your editor will delete it and your writing will be as it should." - Mark Twain
- "The road to hell is paved with adverbs." - Stephen King
- When writing an action scene, don't slow it down with descriptions
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
We Sisters are going to be giving you some oldies but goodies in terms of past blog posts for December. Also, don't forget to enter our December giveaway where you can win signed copies of some awesome books! So...Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza and Happy Any Other Holiday You Celebrate. May you have a wonderful, peaceful time with family and friends, and we'll see you all in 2011!
Monday, December 6, 2010
THE MAZE RUNNER Trilogy Book #1
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.
Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.
Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.
Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.
Valerie is giving one winner a signed hard copy of THE DEMON KING by Cinda Williams Chima.
THE DEMON KING A Seven Realms novel
Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for himself, his mother, and his sister Mari. Ironically, the only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell. For as long as Han can remember, he’s worn thick silver cuffs engraved with runes. They’re clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off.
While out hunting one day, Han and his Clan friend, Dancer catch three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. After a confrontation, Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to ensure the boy won't use it against them. Han soon learns that the amulet has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.
Meanwhile, Raisa ana’Marianna, Princess Heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She’s just returned to court after three years of relative freedom with her father’s family at Demonai camp – riding, hunting, and working the famous Clan markets. Although Raisa will become eligible for marriage after her sixteenth name-day, she isn't looking forward to trading in her common sense and new skills for etiquette tutors and stuffy parties.
Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But it seems like her mother has other plans for her--plans that include a suitor who goes against everything the Queendom stands for.
Lacey is giving one winner a signed paperback copy of WAKE by Lisa McMann.
WAKE Wake Series Book 1
Not all dreams are sweet.
Deadline for entry is midnight Friday, December 31st 2010! Winners will be announced Monday, January 3rd. Contest is international.
To enter, fill out the embedded form below. You must be a blog follower. For +3 extra entries, subscribe by email (box on the left). +2 more if you leave a comment on any one of our posts. And a +1 for every social networking site you use to spread the word (we'll accept Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and your blog sidebar). Spread the word as many times as you like! But you'll only get one entry for each. If you tweet the contest ten times, we will be happy and give you e-hugs, but it won't count for extra entries.
Specify which book you'd like to win most, then your second and third choices. We'll try to get the right book to you. Please include links in the form where you spread the word or commented so that we can verify winners.
Good luck! Thank you all, and happy holidays from all of us!
Other contests and giveaways from around the web include:
Shannon Messenger is giving away one hard copy of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS at her blog! Ends December 10th.
CA Marshall is giving away a full manuscript crit, up to 100k words, at her blog! Ends midnight, Dec. 10th!
And if you know of any contests or giveaways you'd like to share, feel free to use our Mr. Linky and tell us about it!
Friday, December 3, 2010
Gemma, 16, is on layover at Bangkok Airport, en route with her parents to a vacation in Vietnam. She steps away for just a second, to get a cup of coffee. Ty--rugged, tan, too old, oddly familiar--pays for Gemma's drink. And drugs it. They talk. Their hands touch. And before Gemma knows what's happening, Ty takes her. Steals her away. The unknowing object of a long obsession, Gemma has been kidnapped by her stalker and brought to the desolate Australian Outback. STOLEN is her gripping story of survival, of how she has to come to terms with her living nightmare--or die trying to fight it.
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: I read this book a year ago and it quickly became one of my favorite books ever. I still can't get it out of my mind. This book is beautiful, haunting, harrowing, vivid, heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful. Gemma's story will stick with you long after you finish. I've never been to Austrailia but I feel like I know the outback and it's harsh, searing heat. I would love to spend time with Lucy Christopher picking her brain and finding out how she came up with this amazing story. STOLEN is now available in the US and I can't recommend it enough! (Seriously, I've given it away twice on my blog already!)
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell
This is the first book in this series that I've read. So far I'm really enjoying it. Some of the steps in this book might seem like a no-brainer to you, but some of us need it spelled out. If you're part of the former, it never hurts to have a good reminder.
There are a lot of great examples in here on scene structure, building suspense in dialog, creating a bond with your reader via your main character, character arc, plotting, revising, etc. There are different activities you can try out on your own to see what works and why.
I've been told this is a great series to go with and so far, I'd have to agree.
I'd like to hear your recommendations. Read any great books on writing recently? Something we haven't covered in past posts? Have you read either of these two books?
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
I hope any of you out there having a bad week find this one helpful too! (Also, can you believe it's December already?!?)
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
The list demonstrates (a little too well) that writing the book is only the first of many steps in becoming a published author. But the remaining 24 steps can't happen without that first big one. I'm on Step #3--my new manuscript is in the hands of my awesome critique partners, and I can't wait to revise it. My question for the day: Which step are you on right now?
Monday, November 29, 2010
Agent Diedre Knight of The Knight Agency is having a speed dating contest to find her next new client! Beginning Tuesday, November 30th, (that's tomorrow!) Deidre will whittle down the first 125 entries to one lucky winner.* The contest opens at 8:00am ET. Get all the details on how to enter HERE.
Agent Sara Megibow of the Nelson Literary Agency is doing a NaNoWriMo contest on her client Ashley March's blog! Sara has agreed to read the first 30 pages of one lucky writer's NaNoWriMo project! Deadline is November 30th. Check out the details and enter HERE
And for readers:
Jess at The Cozy Reader is celebrating her 3rd blogoversary with a HUGE giveaway! She's giving away 15 YA books to 5 lucky winners in a fun contest! Hurry! This contest ends at noon ET, TODAY, November 29th! Check out her awesome blog and get the details HERE
If you have a contest you'd like to let us know about, please post the link in our new Mr. Linky! (Which hopefully I've coded correctly and it will work!)
Friday, November 26, 2010
Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.
By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.
As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.
Kristi's take: This was a fun, fast, and furious read by Rachel Hawkins. It reminded me of when I have a rare night alone and have Fritos and Diet Coke for dinner. Fritos + Diet Coke + Hex Hall = pure enjoyment.
Hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving. I'm already looking forward to leftovers, and the rest of my hubby's amazing pumpkin pie, tonight! See you on Monday.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
First, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! I hope everyone is enjoying family/friends/loved ones and good food right now, instead of reading this. But in case everyone you love is in a food coma and you're all by your lonesome, here are the top 5 writing related things I am thankful for.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Like Kristi, I'm grateful that I have the time to write and the support of my family who help and encourage me to find and make the time to meet my writing goals.
I'm grateful for the awesome crit partners I've met in the last year and who I'm also fortunate to call my friends. (Lacey, Kristi, Natalie, LOVE you guys!)
And most of all, I'm grateful for the amazing, generous, supportive, open-minded, open-hearted, talented, giving members of the YA writing community. I am constantly overwhelmed and awed by the effort this community puts into helping others whether it's in becoming a better writer, or living a better life. I am so proud to be a part of this group of people and to do my tiny part in helping others and sharing the love of great books to anyone I can.
Since this is a time of being grateful, and the season of giving is just around the corner I wanted to share a link to the Season of Love and Hope Auction benefitting children's writer Bridget Zinn who is battling colon cancer.
TONS of amazing authors and publishing people have donated some seriously awesome things like critiques and ARCs and vacations so check it out if you have the time.
I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving! Thanks for reading this blog. I'm so grateful for all of you!
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Here are a few things I'm grateful for and how they relate to writing (don't worry, I'll explain the helmet)::
1) Where I live. Any time I'm outside and spot the snow-capped mountains in the distance, I feel gratitude for living here in Colorado. (I swear there is creativity in the air here, or maybe it's the drinking water.) Either way, my writing and my hubby's music have grown in leaps and bounds since moving here.
2) My kidlets. Whenever I hear my children laugh, I feel so lucky to be the mom of these two amazing little humans. Also, my 6-yo son tells people that I'm a writer. Never mind that I earn my income as a clinical psychologist. Never mind that I'm not published and don't have an agent. My 3-yo thinks I'm a writer solely because that's what my 6-yo tells her. I love that kid!
3) My ability to write. As I mentioned in this post, I'm extremely grateful for my ability to spend my evenings writing, rather than say working triple shifts in a factory somewhere just to keep food on my table. My hubby is the most supportive person on the planet and allows me to be the best person/mother/wife/writer I can be. He's also my first beta reader and gives amazing advice.
4) My critique groups (The Critiquers and my lovely Sisters) are made of total awesome. They're wise, talented, strong women who are a constant source of strength and support. And they give me a kick in the ass when I need it. What more could you ask for?
5) The Kansas City Chiefs. (hence the helmet picture) If any of you out there have ever loved a team that has surprised you with its ability to disappoint you year after year, then you feel my pain.This year, my team has actually won more games than they've lost. Are they a Super Bowl team? No. Would Mike Vick kick their asses all over the field? Absolutely. But they're better than they were last year--and the year before. It's all about baby steps, just like in writing. I'm a better writer this year than I was a year ago, and I finished my second book last month. I'm taking baby steps toward that Super Bowl.
What about you? What are you grateful for this week?
Monday, November 22, 2010
Win one of 5 ARC's of DEMONGLASS (Hex Hall #2) by Rachel Hawkins at Goodreads. Contest ends: Nov. 30th.
Young Adult Books Central is giving away 15 copies of THE MOCKINGBIRDS by Daisy Whitney. Fill out the form to enter by Nov. 30th.
Somehow I missed the incredible Kidlit Critterpalooza giveaway and its mission to increase awareness for Saint Jude's Research Hospital for children. Go check it out--the deadline is Nov. 28th.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
When you're writing something that someone else has to continue without knowing what's supposed to come next your first instinct is to put in enough details to explain what it is you're doing. But you soon realize that if you do that, the next writer either has nowhere to go because you already gave up all the cool plot twists and info, or is locked into your idea, which is the opposite of collaboration (unless you use James Frey's definition of the word) and what you've written is mostly telling and infodump with perhaps a side of interesting character.
You learn that in order to give the next writer a chance to shine, and to give the story a shot at being all it can be, you have to leave threads dangling and hint at things without explaining them. You have to trust your partners, and your readers to pick up on the subtle cues, and to want to keep reading to find out what they mean.
In a word, you're doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing when you write a book all by yourself!
You know that feeling you get when you're starting a book, (or short story, or introducing a new character) where you feel like you have to get ALL the necessary info out so readers will get what you're doing and LOVE it? Well, that feeling is wrong. Those writing books - the ones that say don't reveal anything until it's absolutely necessary are right.
It took until I had to take an idea, set it up, and then let it go for me to really understand how that works. When I write an opening to one of our shorts, like my most recent one, KISS OF DEATH, I start with an idea:
What if there was a girl so beautiful that every boy who saw her was compelled to kiss her? What if her lips were poisonous?
Then I have to do some world-building, some plotting, and I have to make sure I leave something for the next writer. In the case of KISS OF DEATH I had A LOT of ideas. There was so much I wanted to (and did in the first draft) explain. I knew how Rosemina came to be cursed. I knew what she did all day while she was home alone. I knew what the Queen really thought about her. I knew what happened after my section ended. But I cut all of those things because they would work better if they were revealed later on or in an active way. I trusted that I had an interesting predicament (Everyone wants to kiss her. Everyone that kisses her dies. And because of that, people want her dead.) and that people would want to keep reading to find out what happens next.
This is the key when plotting your story and maintaining your pace. Drop hints. Dangle potential plot twists, make your reader excited and curious to see what happens next. Let them form opinions about why a character says or does something, and then reveal the info when it will be the most active, the most important, the most mindblowing thing that could happen at that moment. Save something for later. (And, as I always say trust your reader It's scary, but you'll be glad you did.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Those quiet hours of Christmas morning were a magical time for me. I'd curl up under a blanket on the couch and read Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, or Little House on the Prairie. When I was older, the stocking books morphed into Stephen King and Dean Koontz (try reading Four Past Midnight at that literal time--creepy). Books have always been entwined with holiday memories for me. I'm sure it's part of why I love giving books as gifts--to pass along the magic to others. It's also a fabulous way to support bookstores and authors. So along with all the sparkly things on display at the mall or online, please consider giving a book to someone you love.
Okay, this concludes my public service announcement. I want to know about your gift-giving. Any books that you've given or received that stand out in your holiday memories? What books are on your wish list for this year?
Monday, November 15, 2010
The lovely Lisa Desrochers is giving away a signed copy of her book Personal Demons AND a signed copy of Matched by Ally Condie. Contest ends: Nov. 26th.
The Story Siren is giving away the entire Immortals Series by Alyson Noel. All 5 books go to one lucky winner so fill out the form today. Contest ends: Nov. 19th.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Before I Fall
Samantha Kingston has it all—looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it’s her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined. (less)
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Recently I read a really good book. Really good! It was full of action, adventure, drama, suspense, and emotion, and it was also full of one of my pet peeves. The dreaded uncertainty that is seemed like, appeared as if, almost.
You know what I'm talking about. One character says to the MC, "I hate you!" and the MC's inner monologue says "He punched the wall, as if he was angry." Really? It was like he was angry, but you're not sure if that was it? Maybe he just likes punching walls? Maybe wall-punching means happiness?
This occasionally drives me insane.
I notice this happens most often in books written in close third person. I think it's because when writing in first person it's easier to slip into the character's distinct point of view and feel what they're feeling.
Think about it. In your own life, if someone shouts at you "I hate you!" and then punches a wall, you have a strong instant reaction. You don't think to yourself, "I wonder if he's angry?" You think, "Whoa, this dude is pissed!" Even if you're wrong, and he does just like to punch walls for no reason, you have interpreted his words and actions and made a decision on what they mean.
Characters are like this too. They jump to conclusions. They reason out why things are happening. I know that, especially in third person, there's a fine line between staying in one character's close POV and crossing into another's. This is where the trouble starts. Writers worry that if they say too much about what is happening, or how someone is feeling that they are switching POVs or crossing over into omniscience. I say, HOGWASH!
While it's true that unless your main character is a mind reader, he can't know what others are thinking. He can definitely take an educated guess or decide for himself how to interpret what he sees. When I see a lot of this in a manuscript I'm critiquing, I always write "Be authoritative!" and "Either it happened or it didn't. Which is it?"
Don't tell me "It seemed like the door opened all by itself." When I see this type of sentence structure, I expect a "but". As in "It seemed like the door opened all by itself, but it was just the cat leaning against it." When you leave the sentence as "It seemed like the door opened all by itself." and the character doesn't do any exploring to find out how it actually did open, I'm left wondering, did the door open by itself or not? You know whether it did or not, why not share? Your character, having witnessed this event, should have come to a decision about whether or not the door opened on it's own - even if it's the wrong answer. And if your character really can't tell if it opened by itself or not, then he needs to try and find out why (or run away in terror, whichever he's more prone to do).
I may be in the minority here, but I think it's best for your character to see things through his own world view and save the uncertainty for when he really doesn't know what's going on. If you stay focused and true to your character's personality and voice, it should be clear, even in third person, that what he sees happening is what he thinks is happening, and not absolute fact. To me this is one of the best things about telling a story through one person's eyes. Each character has a unique way of seeing things. What one character thinks is evil spirits haunting his house, another thinks is just the wind. Find out what it really is is what storytelling is all about!
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
2) Was this the first book you wrote? Tell us aspiring writers a little about your path to finding an agent.
Hahahahahaha! Hah! That’s funny. No, my first book was a NaNoWriMo novel that started off as a fantasy satire and somehow turned into a political satire halfway through. And then I wrote a series of really depressing books and hung out in coffee shops and wore a beret. (You think I’m kidding, but sadly? Not. [The worst part is that the beret was PLAID.]) Eventually I ditched the beret and quit trying to be a “serious” writer and wrote something just for fun. That was my first YA novel, which got the attention of my superawesome agent, Kate Schafer Testerman, and went to editorial acquisitions more times than I could count. But ultimately, it wasn’t the right first book for me. BAD TASTE IN BOYS, however, sold in about a month, because zombies are irresistible.
3) I'm trying to picture you in a plaid beret, but I keep laughing. I agree that zombies are irresistible...when you first found out your book sold, what was your initial reaction?
When The Email finally came, I ran around the house screaming and then left a voice mail for my husband that said: “OhmygodcallmecallmeCALLMERIGHTNOW!” And then I put Thriller on and did the dance, because that’s obviously the best way to celebrate selling a zombie book.
4) I know authors don't typically have much, if any, control over things like the title and cover of the book. You have one of the coolest covers I've seen. Did you have any input on it?
I know; isn’t it frawesome? I feel so lucky cover-wise. The people at Random House awe me.
5) This may be a super-secret question you can't answer, but I'll try anyway. What's next for you? Will there be a sequel to BAD TASTE IN BOYS or are you doing something totally different?
Well, I’ve got a sequel that’s currently under review, with new and interesting monsters for Kate to hunt. Please keep your fingers crossed for me! Unless you’re a zombie, because I wouldn’t want to be responsible for the loss of your fingers due to torsion. I’m nice that way.
7) Thank you for validating my house's messiness. You knew I was going to save the best question for last. Who would win in a zombie ninja dance-off: Richard Simmons or The Hoff?
Monday, November 8, 2010
Steph Su at Steph Su Reads is having a cool November giveaway on her blog (I can't believe it's already November!) Enter to win the ARC's of FIXING DELILAH by Sarah Ockler, VIRALS by Kathy Reichs, and FALL FOR ANYTHING by Courtney Summers. Deadline: Nov. 24.
Don't forget to visit us here tomorrow for an amazing interview with Carrie Harris, the amazing author of this:
Friday, November 5, 2010
Please welcome our special guest on the blog, author, mentor, editor, K.M. Weiland!
K.M. Weiland writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in the sandhills of western Nebraska. She enjoys mentoring other authors through her writing tips, editing services, workshops, and her recently released instructional CD Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration.
We live in a world that is saturated with artistic creativity (some more artistic and creative than others, admittedly). If you’re a writer, this is a very good thing. It means that inspiration is all over the place. All we have to do is open a magazine, read a book, turn on the television, or switch to a new radio station. In my recently released CD Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration (http://www.kmweiland.com/books_CWBASI.php), I specifically touch upon how to use music to up our creative output. But we can tap into all kinds of media for an extra-inspiration boost. Following are some ideas:
Create story-specific playlists. Every time you hear a song that fits your story or inspires some new aspect, save it on a playlist on your computer. You’re creating your own personalized story soundtrack! Whenever you need a dab of inspiration, give it a listen. Plus, it’s great fun for sharing with your readers, when the book is published. (You can listen to the soundtrack for my medieval novel Behold the Dawn here (http://www.kmweiland.com/free.php#playlist).)
· As an addendum to the above, don’t forget to give each character a theme song. Not only is it fun, but it can help distill the character’s personality and inner goals.
· Cast your characters. We all dream of getting our NYT bestselling book made into a blockbuster movie. So why wait on the all-important decision of choosing which actors should play your characters? Putting a face, voice, and gestures to your characters (particularly minor characters) can work wonders for bringing them to vivid three-dimensional life.
· Visualize your story as a movie. Whenever I’m approaching a tricky scene, I stop, close my eyes, and try to visualize what the scene would look like in a movie. I visualize everything: angles, lighting, stage directions. I even try to conjure up a soundtrack sometimes. And the results are pretty interesting.
· Keep a photo album. Thanks to the Internet, tracking down specific photos and bookmarking them or saving them to your computer is the easiest thing in the world. For every novel I write, I keep folders within folders of inspiring pix, everything from the characters themselves to settings to costumes to vehicles to pets. Not only are the pictures an endless well of inspiration, but they also come in handy for maintaining consistency in details.
· Create props. Sometimes a handful of props can come in very handy for inspiring or choreographing a scene. For my upcoming fantasy Dreamers (http://www.kmweiland.com/WIPs.php#dreamers), I used a sword-shaped letter opener in planning battle scenes. If your character receives an important letter, write the letter out for yourself and play around with the crinkle of the envelope. If a stolen necklace features prominently, buy a cheap replica and wear it while writing.
Who says writing has to be confined to words on paper? If we branch out from our notebooks and pens or our keyboards and word processors, we may find that a whole interactive world of inspiration is waiting for us to discover and play with.
Thank you, K.m.! *applauds* It's nice to know my fantasy casting can be seen as inspiration, rather than procrastination!