Monday, October 31, 2011
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Then I started writing the YA novel I just published, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor and found a group perfect for my writing, YA-authors. So we formed the group and started reading each other's work. Suddenly, one of the group got a publishing contract and one after the other members received publishing contracts for their work. I had read all of their work and critiqued it, so I felt we were tied somehow. My own chapters came back to me with multiple changes and comments and though at first I was disturbed by these comments I later came to realize they were very helpful to me. I sent the chapters through the group and they came back to me as if they had been put through a wringer. I kept all the comments and when I was ready to revise my chapters I went back to the comments. We never met in person, though I did meet a couple of the members at different writing conferences and we went out to dinner occasionally.
After this group I was able to find a semi-retired teacher who was happy to read my novel. She had a few short stories she wanted me to read and comment on so it was a great swap. This person was able to find places where I needed to revise even more. She was my beta reader. I was thrilled by the end of the summer and thought my book was ready to sub. But when I sent it to several publishers all I got was rejection. So it was back to the critique group again. By this time my second try at getting it into publication form, I was willing to look at it in a more detailed way and found a new critique group online, MuseKids, which was the brain child of my now publisher, Lea Schizas. We were an online message board and we all wrote either YA or children's. I spent a few years with this wonderful group and when my book kept getting rejected at least I had a supportive group for virtual hugs and TLC.
I started a new novel at NaNoWriMo and suddenly I had an idea, a few chapters and the beginnings of a great YA book! To be safe I started sending out chapters to MuseKids and the reaction was really good! Did they really like the work or were they just being polite? So once again when my book was finished I had the same friend read it and give me comments. All comments were given online and by the time I got them, read them and implemented them it was days. What happened to this novel? I still have it and with great trepidation I am going to send it to my publisher after I have finished rereading it and bringing it into publication form.
Then an invitation from a local critique group came into my in box and fortunately, I was in need of another critique group. I had been part of a couple of NaNo's and I had a couple of novels ready to be revised and get ready for publishing. So I took the YA novel I had written about a boy and went to meet my group. The difference between an in person group and an online group is obvious. The members didn't know me, but they were very interested in my writing. When I got back their printed critiques I saw the big difference in the groups. There was much more attention to detail with my in person group. What was fun, though, was to see the expressions of everyone and hear how they felt about the writing in their voices. You don't get those nuances from online groups. Within a few group sessions I realized the fundamental problem with my novel and when I sat down to rewrite the same three chapters I had sent to them before, I was able to rewrite with a different slant. I took their suggestions and rewrote much of it. I was also able to read their work and listening to everyone else's comments was very helpful for my own writing. When the group got around to my chapters a few thought that it was much better changed, but I still had the same problem. This time, though with discussion of this problem with the group I could see how to change it. Also, since the book is in male POV I was able to get a male's opinion of places where I had to think like a boy. After all, never having been a boy it was hard to understand a boy's reactions. This part was extremely helpful and very difficult to get to this point with an online critique group.
So in conclusion I have to admit that I love the interaction of an in person group and that it allows for more discussion and somehow the feedback gives you more time for reflection on your own writing. The immediacy of the reactions of each of the group members helps you as a writer to see how your readers will react when they read your words. But I wouldn't give up on the online groups. I am again in one and though it is for a genre in which I am not comfortable, I think the group will help me revise this novel.
Please leave me a comment about how you feel about critique groups. Which do you like and why?
Next weekend I will be in Montreal on Saturday being part of a very large book signing in Zeller's. This is part of the MuseItUp Publishing Retreat and I am proud to be participating in this fun event. You can learn more about it on the Muse website:
Also, MuseItUp Publishing has published an anthology in which I have a story called "Cancer Didn't Get Him". It is only one of ten stories both fiction and non-fiction in a memorial to friends and relatives we have known who have battled this deadly disease. We, the authors, are donating all royalties from the sale of this anthology to organizations who are searching for a cure for cancer. Lavender Dreams is a wonderful gift for the holidays. I am very proud to be a part of this beautiful book:
Friday, October 28, 2011
Tuesday night was parent-teacher night at my daughter's high school. I have to say it was awesome to hear teachers saying such great things about my daughter, and to hear how well she's doing this year. She's struggled the past few years, and she's really turning things around now. I'm very proud of her.
But this post isn't about bragging about my daughter (even though that's fun to do). Tuesday night, like I've done every year on parent-teacher night, I went in to visit with the school librarian. She was one of the first "real life" people to encourage my young adult stuff, and was instrumental in persuading the English department to make my novel Connection required reading for the entire student body in summer 2010. On a more personal connection, she and I got married on the same day, April 17, 2010.
When I went to see her this year, I was talking to her a little about trying to arrange a school-day visit for me to speak to English classes or something, and I was also talking to her about the books that I have under contract. One of them is Cluing In, my first YA contemporary novel, which will be out soon from Featherweight Press. In Cluing In, Jamey Mandel, the main character, deals with a tragedy involving his ex-girlfriend.
I was describing the plot to the librarian, and she was nodding and "uh huh"ing as I talked. Then I got to the part about the tragedy. Her jaw dropped. "Oh, my god! That's awful! I wasn't expecting that!"
That's exactly the reaction I hope to get from readers. If I wrote the book as well as I described it to the librarian, hopefully that's the reaction I'll get.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Snatching Nanthara’s freedom from the grasp of evil may cost the alliance more than they are willing to pay.
After thwarting a traitorous member’s plan to steal the crown, an overwhelming number of enemy forces surround the alliance, forcing them to flee into the bowels of Cragspeak. Their route of escape forces an encounter with a vicious band of Vorghans, towering canine bipeds dripping a most foul disposition.
Despite enduring relentless hardships and heartbreaking losses bent on crushing the alliance’s resolve, a series of unexpected clues coaxes them to continue their treacherous journey eastward into the dark realm of Rhöengard.
Their dangerous journey takes them to the ancient ruins of Griffon’s Peak whereupon they discover its malevolent guardians, a frightful Dymwren and his minions. When several of their disciples are murdered by the enemy, the Bloodfist Monks, religious outcasts known for their disciplined teachings and unrivaled battle prowess, willingly join the alliance in accomplishing their dreadful task.
As Rhöengard collapses under dark rule, the alliance evades numerous enemy encounters in time to warn the gathered allies in Mhoren of a massive foulskin black tide to the north. With steely determination, Nanthara prepares for its most epic battle.
Vindicar peered through the gap. “This breach descends down close to one hundred feet to a waterway. It looks to serve as the Itunns’ water source.”
Sir Angelo inspected the skull and rope, running his hand along the tatty threads and dipping his fingers into the small puddle of water in the thick cranium. “This skull might be our only avenue of escape. If not, we can use the rope to lower ourselves down.”
“You intend for us to escape down there?” E’Umae asked with a fearful glance through the gap and into the blackness.
“If there are any other avenues of escape, I, for one, would be all for it,” Sir Angelo said. “Let’s go.”
Vindicar grabbed the bulky rope and threw it over the edge to the bottom of the drop.
Boren checked the strength of the knot around the giant bear skull and threw Azin an irritated stare. “Will you quit yer selfish grabbin’ and nabbin’. I don’t mind leavin’ you here.”
“My apologies, Boren. There is such a plethora of interesting objects here, my mind is in a tizzy.”
“Tizzy?” The irritated Dwergen ran a thick hand down his face, over his beard, and off the bottom tip in disgust. “Yer flip-floppin’ personalities are confusin’ me, Alkanien. Make up yer mind as to who yer goin’ to be.”
“Your admirable request is not so easily filled, my fellow adventurer. Unfortunately, it is simpler to speak than to do.”
Before Azin could finish stuffing his pockets with silver and gold coins, Courtar noticed Vindicar standing motionless as he leaned toward the tunnel.
Dreg listened. “Heavy footsteps come this way.”
Courtar felt the unmistakable vibration, pointing a shaky finger toward the entrance. “I told you the lying comes back.”
“Hurry,” Sir Angelo said, motioning to the others to start shimmying down the rope.
The tremors grew heavier as Sir Angelo glanced at the entrance, waiting for the Itunns to appear. Vindicar’s voice broke his concentration.
“Go,” he said.
Sir Angelo shook head. “No. I’ll stand. You go first.”
“You are the alliance’s leader. You must stay with the group,” Vindicar said.
Azin stepped between the two disagreeing paladins. “You two cackling hens can stay. I’m getting out of here.”
Sir Angelo and Vindicar both grabbed the assassin by the collar and yanked him backward.
“Watch it!” Azin said, scowling.
As Sir Angelo went to reprimand the assassin, a low, drawn out guttural growl rumbled the knight’s belly. Everyone eased their heads toward the entry where they stared at a hunched Itunn, both heads snarling in a primeval rage, each fist clutching their wicked clubs.
“Oops,” Azin said under breath.
Sir Angelo’s steady breathing was unable to slow his rapid heartbeat. “Everyone spread
out. We’ll only have a moment to retaliate if it charges.”
Infuriated, the Itunn roared and stepped into the lair as the second beast entered the opening, growling with a similar hatred at the intruders.
“Any other bright ideas, Mr. Leader?” Azin asked in a sardonic tone.Sir Angelo gave a slight head shake. “Uhm, no. Not at the moment.”
Until next time, take care.
Monday, October 24, 2011
By non-publishing terminology young adult is a person in the early years of adulthood. This is the definition I write by. I believe a young adult is exactly that, a youthful adult. But I digress.
More importantly to writers and readers, what is a publisher's definition of a young adult?
Most publishers consider age twelve-eighteen young adults.
Pretty wide range, hey? A twelve year old's interest varies widely from an eighteen year old's.
Because of the wide disparity in the age group YA , like romance, is broken down--for lack of a better term--into sub genres.
In romance, you can find: sweet, erotica, paranormal, fantasy, time travel and the list goes in.
Under the YA header you have:
YA Dark Fiction
and emerging on the writing scene:
Most of these definitions are self explanatory.
Tweens is actually a throw in since this is the eight to twelve year age group.
YA crossover is writing that has a foot in both worlds of young adult and adult.(This is the genre I enjoy writing in.)
YA Dark Fiction is the sinister side of human nature or horror with young adult protagonist.
YA Historical is a historical novel with young adult protagonist.
YA Mystery ia a mystery novel with young adult protagonist.
YA Fantasy is a fantasy novel with young adult protagonist.
New Adults are on the opposite end of the spectrum from tweens and written for the eighteen to twenty-five age group. (Another favorite of mine)
But no matter what end of the YA spectrum a writer's work is aimed at, one thing remains constant regardless if the reader is twelve or eighteen. Young adult novels are geared to be both compassionate and empathic. And here's hoping that carries over into life for all of us.
So what sub genres do you read or write? Which ones have I left out?
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Here are a few gems from his speech that hit home with me.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Then I saw it. The egret stood on a rock with its feet partially in the water. ( I didn't take a photo then, but this one, though it is not on a rock is closest to the position I saw.) regal demeanor a contrast to the movement on the other side of the bay. It stood there so patiently and still. I watched it for a time and then something happened. The egret moved its position and suddenly I had to write about it. It was an urge so strong I would have written on anything. Lucky for me I had my phone and I have a Notes section on it. I started jotting down words relating to the egret. Short phrases, my poem about the grandeur of this creature. The urge to write had found me at last.
The egret stands
Feet planted on its rock
Long thin neck ending
In a curve containing eyes
That survey all surroundings
Remains still as a statue
Until it curls to catch its prey
Dips its sharp beak
Into the murky water
Senses unseen danger
I blink and it rises into the air
copywrite 2011 by Barbara Ehrentreu
It has always been the case and I have lots of poems and even a story to document this urge. That is why having a notebook or any piece of paper and a pen or a phone is very important. Once I even wrote a poem about the Fall while driving, because the scenery created that same urge to write. There was even the time when an event created the stimulus to write and I was in a dark car. When I looked at the writing in the light it was undecipherable. It didn't matter. My Muse had been satiated.
Many of you will be taking part in NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writers Month. I have done this several times and in the last few years I haven't participated due to several reasons. When I did NaNo, though, I was faced with a blank screen and the need to write over 2500 words each day. How did I do it? I guess I called to my Muse and thought of the first sentence. Seeing the sentence pushed me to write more about it and suddenly when I looked up I had the amount of words for the day. I didn't think about anything, just as when the urge hit me outside, I trusted to my Muse to bring the words to my fingers. Not everyone can do this. They need to make outlines and then they can write. For me it's one sentence and an idea and I can go for several thousand words. I have three finished novels from NaNo.
This is how I wrote my first novel, grinding out thousands of words after teaching school because my Muse refused to let them stay in my head. I got lost in the writing and basically transcribed what the characters said to me. Only writers would understand this and not want to put me in a mental institution.:) Being a writer does mean that your mind controls your fingers and when you have to write, you have to write! Writers go into a world where nothing can penetrate, when they are involved in a project. I am happy to be one of the undeclared crazies - a writer!!!
Enjoy the weekend and I hope that you will go and check out my just published book, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, now moving up in sales rank on Amazon from MuseItUp Publishing.
In honor of celebrating their first anniversary, MuseItUp Publishing is having a Retreat in Montreal, Canada where we will all be participating in a mass book signing at Zeller's bookstore, and where I will be signing my first print books! If you live in the area come down and say hi. There will be door prizes and you can meet me. It will be held on November 5th at the Pointe Claire store.
Friday, October 21, 2011
I don't mean to. I sit down to write a story for teenagers, and the issues just find their way in there. Even when the story is supposed to be happy.
Last spring, I was trying to think of a plot for a novel I wanted to write for Featherweight Press, a small children's and YA publisher that had already accepted one of my novels. I was kind of thinking that my novels for them would be contemporary, since Jupiter Gardens Press has a lock on my two urban fantasy series. Unable to think of a plot, I asked my daughters for help.
My 13-year-old said, "Something with dolphins." My 16-year-old texted all of her friends, one of whom replied, "A story about two boys who meet in a random circumstance and fall in love." (Yes, those were his exact words.) So I decided to write about two boys who meet when a pod of dolphins strand themselves in a cove near the boys' homes. It was supposed to be a romance, at least in part.
What I ended up with was a novel about a boy who meets another boy beside the cove where the dolphins are stranded and starts a friendship/relationship with him, but then had to contend with his mother abandoning the family for another man. That leaves the boy having to take care of his autistic younger sister, since his father is kind of clueless. As if that wasn't enough, he also discovers that his new love interest has untreated bipolar disorder. My editor tells me it's "not a traditional romance." Um...yeah.
Even in my urban fantasy novels, there are issues. Shanna Bailey in the Reality Shift series is dealing with bullying and with being abused by her mother, until book four. (No spoilers here.) Topher James in The Dark Lines has pretty much raised his mentally ill mother from the time he was five. Blake Walker, also from The Dark Lines, was turned over to Child Protective at age five by his mother after she beat him for demonstrating his psychic abilities; nine years later, he's still dealing with the aftereffects of that, despite being adopted by a woman who genuinely cares for him.
The thing is, issues happen to everyone. And to teenagers, some of those issues can seem insurmountable. All you need to do to prove that point is check out the news; how many teens have taken their own lives because of bullying?
My characters do have issues to deal with, but they're strong and they get through. That's the message I hope readers will take from my books, that you can get through things.
Even if my issues make my editor run for LOLCats after he reads my manuscripts.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
and last but not least
Back in July, I opted to turn Downtown into a group blog of YAers. The creative writers listed above decided to give it a go. Thanks to this diverse group, in less than three short months, Downtown followers have doubled.
This group brings to the table a wide array of topics that deal with both dreams and reality.
Everyone comes together from divergent backgrounds: from on the cusp of publication, to first publication, to having been around for awhile. All bring to the table a love and passion for writing, especially in the YA arena.
YA isn't just for kids anymore:) We have writers whose books are geared for middle school and the problems young people deal with every day. We have writers for older teens who address both real life issues and the paranormal. And all write for the young at heart. In other words, this group has everything covered on the YA scene.
So once again thank you: Nick, Kathleen, Jo, Pat, Barbara and Elizabeth. You rock.
And thanks for the folks who stop by to read and follow. You put smiles on our faces.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Saturday, October 15, 2011
However, I belong to another group that did not have this policy. We are all writers, but we are not connected except by the fact we are all writers who have started later. Until this week this group was going along very well. But then someone posted about a blog she had written about Occupy Wall Street and there was a long and heated discussion that went on between two members of this group. Others did post, but basically it was the two of them. I didn't post anything at all, since I have had experience in social groups like this. What happened was that of course feelings were hurt and it got very personal. The entire group felt the repercussions and a few members left the group. Some suggested we should have a second thread for such discussions, but as of now there is no real decision.
Here is what I will say about the Do's and Don'ts of social media:
1. Do promote your own work and the work of others in your posts.
2. Do discuss writing and other issues pertaining to writing.
3. Do share your good news both professional and personal.
4. Do behave in a civil manner in all discussions and give each other the benefit of the doubt if there is a question. It is always better to settle anything with the person with whom you have the problem. It's easier on the group and most times since it's not in person your intent could not be seen. Most times feelings will be soothed and things will go back to normal.
1. Don't spam the group with the same message over and over.
2. Don't bring up anything about politics or religion. I have had a lot of experience with both of these situations and in one group a person became extremely upset over a post I had made. This is when I took the time to communicate with her and now we are still friends. We have agreed to disagree. But the rest of the group did not have to go through our back and forth of rhetoric until we made that decision.
3. Don't say anything against a member of the group. Always give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Many people give opinions on these boards, but end with in my opinion. Or IMHO. No one likes to be dictated to and when you give your opinion without stating this many people feel you are being harsh.
4. Respect the wishes of the group and make sure you follow the rules set by the leader.
If you adhere to these basic ideas using social media will be fun and will help to promote you and your work. I'm not saying I have all the answers, but after almost ten years of being a member of several different message boards and critique groups I have had a lot of experiences both good and bad. This post is just cautionary, because of the incident that occurred this week. Too many people go into these groups and forget that people are on the other end and feelings though they can't be seen can be hurt easily by the wrong words.
We as writers have a responsibility to use our words with care and dignity. I like to conduct my online conversations in the same way I would an in person conversation.
I'll end this as I would any post. This is just my own opinion, but I had to say something. Please let me know your feelings about this topic in the comments.
Also, I wanted everyone to know that my YA novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, pictured here on the right sidebar, is going to be in print in November!!! It will still be on the same outlets, Amazon and Barnes and Noble and in several bookstores too.:) The e-book will still be offered as well for people who enjoy their Kindles and Nooks!
Lastly, I apologize for not posting last Saturday. Real life got in the way. Hope you are all having a great weekend.
You can find me:
Friday, October 14, 2011
I'm a really visual person. Just take a look at the wall above my desk (I would put a picture if I could, but I haven't yet worked out how to make my phone cooperate with my computer to upload pics) with its copies of book covers, calendar, lists, etc. taped to the wallpaper, much to my landlord's dismay. We've already promised him we'll redo the walls if we ever move out. I like to see my progress and accomplishments, so my means of celebrating is usually visible.
I mentioned book covers. I work with small presses, so the cover artists email me cover art to approve. Once I have the final copy of the cover art, I print it out and tape it to the wall above my desk. That way I can look at all the pretty pictures and think, "Wow, those are mine!"
When I get a new contract, I add to my acceptance chain. On the closet door beside my desk, I have a line of colored card stock pieces, about 1 x 3 inches, starting at the top of the door. Each time I get a contract, I write the title and publisher on a new piece of card stock and tape it into the line. My goal is to reach the bottom of the door.
Of course, I also jump for joy, call my family, and occasionally order pizza on release days and new contract days. I've wanted to be a published author since I was four or five years old, so celebrating all these things reminds me that I'm living my dream.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
Are you a blogger? If so do you blog every day?
Actually I have two blogs, one for just my books and upcoming events and the other is for another site I maintain. It’s a book list of Paranormal Romance Books broken out into topic with links to the books, the author’s Goodreads, Gacebook, and website accounts. That’s one of the clean up items I’ve been working on – trying to finish uploading the books I have on the list already. I think I’m up to the R’s right now. Lastly, no. I don’t blog everyday, however on the Paranormal Romance Everything blog I post a lot more than my personal site, with book reviews and interviews.
What do you do to promote your books?
I use Freado, Goodreads giveaways, my and Facebook account mostly. On occasion I will do a blog tour, I signed up for some advertising on Kindle Nation and BookDaily.com. I’ve got some video trailers being featured on ARe café as well as BookSync. It really is a learning experience.
Do you transform people you know into characters in your book?
Actually I transform actors into characters (looks-wise) and then use character traits from people I know for personalities.
If you were marooned on an island, what would you prefer to have with you: Your current wip, chocolate or your favorite pizza?
I think I would have to train monkeys to run on a banana leaf treadmill and create electricity for my laptop then I would be a happy camper. I can’t imagine life without it.
Where can we to buy your books?
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, All Romance, CreateSpace or Lulu and a few places in between (giggles).
Josh Brenner is a good looking guy with an extraordinary talent he thinks is a curse - He's telepathic and he can't find the mute button, so he lives in solitude only coming out at night. But Josh isn't the only supernatural out and about this cold March night, because when Josh returns from his midnight run to the store to avoid people, he runs smack into a hungry agitated vampire looking for something and Josh is in his way.
Horrified by what he's seen and barely escaping with his life, he confides in a woman he barely knows, but has an instant connection with. When another vampire shows up looking for the first, Josh and his friend Lanie find themselves running for their lives and head to Oljone, California where a friend of Lanie's from College has helped her with a supernatural problem in the past.
But when they get to California with the vampire hot on their trail, they find Darby, Lanie's college pal, has moved to Massachusetts in search of her vampire boyfriend Devon. Luckily Darby's sister Rowan and Devon's vampire brother, Blake, step in and help Josh and Lanie as best they can.
The four work together along with Dean (a werewolf) and his girlfriend Sally (a witch) to figure out this crazy mystery. What does this determined vampire want and why? And is he willing to kill for it? As this mystery unfolds, so do other darker mysteries. Will they figure things out in time before some is killed? You'll just have to read it to see!
The chill of March was in the air and the moon shone through a halo of misty fog. Even though the moon was but a sliver, it appeared ten times brighter than normal, due to the refraction of the halo. Josh often walked late at night, even if just to pick up items from a convenience store. He liked this time of night, when most people were home with their families. The streets were quiet without many people about.
He had a hoodie on under his black leather coat and his iPod turned up as loud as he could stand it. This was standard practice for any public outing. Since he had been a young child, Josh could read other people’s thoughts. Though to anyone else, that may seem a gift, he felt it more a curse - a curse that had no on/off, mute, or volume switch.
Imagine being able to hear the random thoughts of everyone in your vicinity. Goofy, dumb thoughts, rude thoughts, thoughts a person never intends for anyone to hear. Everyone thinks out loud at times, but like breathing, people don't think about it. Sometimes it's just to keep oneself company, like having a television on in the background. Other times, it helps in dealing with scary, stressful, or embarrassing situations, but in most cases, people would be horrified if someone heard these thoughts. It made Josh feel like an outsider, a freak, to know what a person would say before they said it or to know their true feelings on any given thing. To Josh, isolation was the key and he was good at isolating himself from others; after all, he had perfected it over the years.
Amazon (Kindle Edition): http://www.amazon.com/Bloodstone-Heart-Blood-Series-ebook/dp/B003YCPGEG
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/Bloodstone-Heart-T-Lynne-Tolles/dp/1453804269
B&N (Paperback): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bloodstone-heart-t-tolles/1027728262
End of Tour Giveaway:
About the Author:
Born and raised in Silicon Valley, T. Lynne Tolles is a stay-at-home mom, part-time bookkeeper and writer. In the summer of 2009 she claims she got a 'wild hair' and sat down in front of her computer and wrote "Blood of a Werewolf'" in three weeks. She started "Blood Moon" and "Blood Lust" back to back, the following week.
"It was never my intention to become a writer, but the more I wrote, the more addicted I became."
The Blood Series includes five titles.