Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year Thoughts!


Hard to believe, but it's the end of the year and I can feel the creaky old bones of 2011 wanting to pass on and bring in the fresh young baby of 2012. This has been a great year for me in terms of writing!! My book, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, was finally published in September and it's now in both ebook and paperback. It took me five years to get any publisher to consider it and I'm thrilled to be with MuseItUp Publishing who have given me such a wonderful home and where I have made so many amazing friends! Also this year, I was privileged to have my story, "Cancer Didn't Get Him" accepted and published in the memorial anthology, Lavender Dreams, published by MuseItUp to benefit cancer research. Finally, as if the first two weren't enough, three of my poems are included in a beautiful anthology edited by the amazingDr. Pearl Ketover Prilik, Prompted: An International Anthology of Poems, which was conceived and contributed to by my poetry group, The Anthologists and is now in both ebook and paperback, published by one of our members Really Love Your Book publishers. The profits from this are going to LitWorld for literacy research.

As if all this weren't enough, last night someone nominated me for the Best Young Adult Book of 2011 on the Preditors and Editors Poll!! Of course, I should also mention that Fran Lewis picked my book as one of her Five Best Books of 2011. So this has been a fantastic year for my writing.

In November, I was thrilled to meet several authors who are part of my publishing house, in Montreal, where we all met and bonded with our publisher, Lea Schizas, who though in charge of a brand new publishing house has managed to grow it to hundreds of authors and now publishes both ebooks and paperbacks. Participating with my fellow authors in a huge book signing was definitely the highlight of my year. Of course, publication day was amazing, but holding my book in my hand was an indescribable feeling!!

What's in store for my writing in 2012? I am spiffing up my story, When My Life Changed, which is based on the real events that happened to my family when my husband had a heart attack and bypass surgery. Only it is told in the POV of a fifteen year old girl. I have been working on this story for almost five years and I think it is now ready. But it is always hard to set your fledglings free and see them fly on their own. Now, too, I know what publishers are looking for and once again I don't have the prerequisite werewolf or vampire or paranormal characters. This is the story of a girl who has to deal with an event that rocks her world. We'll see what happens with it.

In the New Year I am hoping that some surprises will happen. I am going to try to set up some school visits and also I am going to approach some local bookstores to see if they will carry my book. In addition, the times I will post on this blog have been changed and I might be posting here in the middle of the week. We have some new authors who will be posting so that is the reason for the schedule change. So if you have gotten used to seeing me on Saturdays, expect me to be on the 7th and the 21st of each month. It's interesting that in January those are on Saturdays, but in February they are on Tuesdays.

I wish all of you a very Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year!! I hope all of you are able to keep your resolutions and I have a few that I want to keep. My resolution this year was to try to be more patient in my life. I think for the most part I have succeeded, but of course I did slide back a little now and then. This year I am still thinking about my writing resolutions. The trouble is my life takes its own turns and I never know what is going to happen or where it will happen. I'm going to post my writing resolutions on my blog, Barbara's Meanderings, on January 1st, so if anyone is interested, pop over there to see them.

In addition, I am featured on Georgia Saunders' blog until 1/1 so please go over there and see the interview with my MC Carolyn Samuels. Also, if you would like to do it, you can go to The Preditors and Editors Poll and vote for me. I'm in the Young Adult section and also vote for the cover which has gotten lots of attention and is also nominated for Best Cover. My cover artist, Kaytalin Platt is nominated for two awards, but I hope you will consider my cover first.:)

Enjoy your New Year's celebrations and I will be back on January 7, 2012. See you next year!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Goals

I don't set resolutions for the new year like many people do. If I have a resolution, I feel like I have to meet it no matter what, and if I don't meet it I start coming down way too hard on myself. So instead I set goals, which are flexible and if I don't meet them I don't kick my own butt as much.

For 2012, I have a lot of goals. Some writing-related, some not. I need to work on my health and on spending more quality time with my kids; those are things I try to work on every year. I have a couple of publishers I want to submit to, which will involve writing new books because I don't currently have anything planned that isn't promised to another publisher. Promoting my work is always a goal, because I'm not always very good at it.

Usually I make a list of my goals and hang it on the wall above my desk (along with the few dozen other pieces of paper up there...) But last year I did that, and seeing that I wasn't meeting my goals because I'd kind of diverged from them somewhere along the line bugged me. So this year I might just keep my goals in my head and not write them down. Or if I do write them down, I might not hang them up.

I already know 2012 is going to be a very different year from the past few, in good ways. Hopefully the goals I'm setting will add to the good stuff.

How about you? What are your goals for 2012?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Genesis of Motivation and Inspiration

I'm specifically writing about YA novels today. What motivates you to write a YA? Better yet, what inspires your muse to do a YA?
I may be all wrong but I get the notion that some YA writers are doing so to impart a life lesson to the younger generation. A noble effort, but is it enough to pull a real novel together? Call me old school if you will, but I've always held to the belief that a story must first be a story. Once you have it, you can manipulate the words to get that noble message in there. Kids are pretty canny and, I believe, can detect a sermon disguised as a story. As I said, I may be wrong, but I don't think so.
As to the inspiration for a story, I almost always draw from my own experiences. Sometimes it is a person that did something remarkable. Or stupid. Or just plain zany. This AM I re-read a YA teen novel I've recently submitted for publication. As I read, I remembered the genesis of the various stunts my kid protagonist pulls off. He takes dares and, egged on by his pal, goes to increasingly difficult and dangerous lengths to uphold his reputation. Four of the stunts in the book had their origins in my own life experiences. Not that I did all of them, but I did a couple and witnessed the others.
This story gave me an opportunity to impart more than one message to young people, but it was the story that had to come first. We learn from life, from the brilliant, the zany, and yes, even the stupid things we attempt. If somebody up the line hadn't once burned themselves, how would we ever know to warn our kids not to touch a hot stove?
As often happens in my writing, I'll leave the philosophical argument for you to work out on your own. I mean, I'm a writer, not a preacher. LOL
Happy reading and writing, everyone. And Happy New Year to you all!
Pat Dale






Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Last Blog of 2011

Greetings All!
I hope everyone had a great holiday and is well on their way to recovering from the holiday stress.

Did you get the gifts you wanted? Although I didn’t get any of my “wish list” items—no publishing contract from the big six yet---I did get a nice purse/bag made by my daughter with a Tardis on it and the words: Hello Sweetie on it. I also got a Henry VIII mug and when you put hot liquid in it the six wives “disappear” and below their blank images it says how they died as in DIVORCED, BEHEADED, SURVIVED. LOL.

This is the last blog of 2011 and I have to say that I’ve enjoyed doing these weekly blogs. As of January I am only doing two a month every month, the 5th and the 19th.

What are your favourite moments of 2011? What stands out for you?

Here is my list (you know I love to do lists!):

  • 1.       Writing took a big part of 2011 because of a back injury at work that caused me to stay home and well, write. I ended up 2011 with eleven novels published, another one coming in April, 2012 (I signed the contract in 2011 so it counts) and getting an literary agent.  So, I’d have to say that 2011 was a great writing year for me.
  • 2.       My health is so much better than it was last year at this time. I am grateful for that.
  • 3.       My rugrats are healthy and strong and doing well in school.
  • 4.       Ditto for my cats. Well, not the school part but you know what I mean.
  • 5.       So many great movies, TV shows I watched. Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes, Being Human,  Primeval,Torchwood, Dr. Who. Except for Sherlock Holmes, the majority of them are on BBC America (Torchwood used to be then it went to Starz). Hmmm—I think I see a trend here. Speaking of BBC America, the new zombie show, FADES looks so interesting. I am looking forward to that one in January.
  • 6.       I began writing this blog. It’s hard to believe that last year at this time I didn’t even know what a blog was. I remember asking my daughter to describe it to me. ROFL. Ah, how times have changed.
  • 7.       My iPhone. Okay, technically I got it the year before but I upgraded this year. I love reading on my Kindle/Nook apps at night before bed. Right now I have 177 novels in my Kindle archive. My goal was to read 365 novels and I probably read close to that with library books and books I bought. After the first of the year I’m going to keep a running total of books I’ve read beyond my iPhone so I keep to my goal for 2012.
  • 8.       Lady Gaga. I discovered her this past year and I love her music.
  • 9.       Dr. Who. Yeah, I know I already mentioned it but I have to put it in a separate category because I was such a huge David Tennant fan that I refused, yes, you heard me right, refused to watch Matt Smith as The Doctor. Well, I watched the Christmas special last year and he wasn’t so bad. Not David but still. . . then my daughters asked me to watch it with them so we started a marathon to catch up. It took me a while but I finally decided, I LIKE MATT SMITH and Amy and Rory, too. I am sad that Amy and Rory are leaving just as I am getting used to them.
  • 10.   Learning to make my own book covers and book trailers. I thought there would be no way on earth I could ever do either and here I am, doing them. And having fun, too.
  • 11.   Continuing to write. Every time I end a book I think to myself: “What if I have no more good ideas? What if that was my last book? What if I can NEVER WRITE ANOTHER BOOK AGAIN?” Yeah, I know. Of course I come up with another idea. I am loving the YA dystopian with zombies I am working on now. Speaking of zombies (again?) I love the AMC show, The Walking Dead (forgot that one earlier).

And, that’s my list for now. As you can see, writing takes a big chunk out of 2011 and I hope to do more in 2012. I’ll blog about my New Year’s Resolutions in January.

Have a Happy New Year and may all your writing wishes come true in 2012!

Take Care, Until Next Time,
Kathleen

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Using a Pic for Ideas!

Hey all,
My apologies for not posting, but work has had me bogged down before we went out of town. This article may fall in line with a topic I listed before, sources for making stories, but I've dealt with this particular method more this week while working on my newest series, The Trident Trilogy.
I've gone to several websites(epilogue.net, deviantart.com, google images, elfwood.com, fantasyart.toplisted.net to name a few) loaded with great artwork to download samples for some examples of my characters in all of my books. As I was perusing the various pics, I spotted some that captured my interest. Whether it was the character, the background, or the color, I kept thinking, "Hmmm, this could be a story."
Despite the fact I already had a decent grasp of my current characters, downloading some pics allowed me to study them a bit closer. During my inspection, characteristics began formulating as I sat in observation. The color of the artwork, the facial expression, the armor/clothing being worn all came into play in feeding more detailed ideas into my mind.
One thing I learned in high school and college was a unique study format that allowed me to comprehend things very quickly. I would read my notes/text and formulate my own test questions. On an index card, I would number them and write 4-5 questions on one side with the numbered answers on the back. As I wrote the questions, I used as many of my senses in the process: reading, hearing, seeing, writing. Doing so allowed things to sink in quicker.
The same principle applies in using a pic with other mediums. For example, have appropriate music in the background, or have a related movie playing nearby. Even "mood" lighting can come into play. Utilizing all these factors, along with your imagination, can enhance your ability in creating that special character for your next success story.
In relation to the pics, you can also create files specific for a particular novel you are working on, or gather pics under a specific type: villain, knight, cleric, detective, priest, etc. Good luck!
Take care,
Nick G. Giannaras

relicsofnanthara.weebly.com
nuclearfist.weebly.com

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you love, laughter and a heavy dose of golden fairy dust today and for the New Year.


God bless everyone!

Elizabeth

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Just a quick post amidst wrapping, baking (well, okay, watching my husband and my 13-year-old bake), and trying to finish galley proofs and some revisions so I won't have to work on them over Christmas.

Whatever holiday you celebrate, or if you celebrate none at all, I hope for the best for you this season and hope that you have good times with family and friends.

I'll be back next week with a preview of 2012.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How Big Is Your World?

At first glance, this might seem an innocent question. As you think about it, though, you'll come up with some interesting answers. Clue: You have to look out from where you stand at the moment for your answer.
For example, my answer today would be totally different than it was three weeks ago. After doing damage to my knee, I was almost totally incapacitated on the first of the month. As a consequence, my world 'shrank' to a recliner, from which it was difficult to extricate myself. I sat there, I ate there, I slept there, making infrequent painful trips to the bathroom.
Three weeks later, I've been able to get outside with the aid of a walker and a very helpful helpmate. I've enjoyed trips to see the doctor, my physical therapist, and a couple of jaunts to my favorite cafe. I get around the house with that walker and my new wheelchair, and even have raided the 'fridge a couple of times. My world is expanding.
All this led me to reconsider my life on planet Earth. Prior to birth, my world consisted of a nice warm, liquid nest inside my mother's tummy. Small but relatively safe. Is it any wonder someone came up with the phrase, cold and cruel world? That's what we encounter at birth.
I could take you through the expanding universe of a child's life, but I think you get the point. So let me ask the question again. How big is your world? Think not only in terms of the physical world, but also of the amazing infinity within your mind. Aha! Now you get it!
We write about our 'universe' for ourselves, but also for others willing to expose themselves to our perspective. And there's the rub. How can you entice me to step inside your world? Conversely, how can I tempt you to visit mine? The writer's answer is to create the famous (infamous) 'hook'. Title, first line, first paragraph, last sentence of a chapter; all are essential to good writing.
When I first began regurgitating my fantasies onto paper, I wrote cohesive complete thoughts, logically laid out. Each new section had a beginning, a middle, and an end. In my logic-laden conception, I'd been successful. It was only after I got less than a positive response from critique partners that I began to examine and compare my writing to some that I admired.
Now, I rarely have a chapter that ends a scene. My opening lines usually demand more information than they impart. My titles always, without exception, have a direct connection with the plot or characters of the book. To wit, I've learned and am still learning how to perfect the concept of the 'hook' to entice my audience to suspend reality. In other words, leave their world and enter mine for a few minutes or hours.
Relating this to the world of music, I remember the shock of seeing the actual manuscript that Beethoven left in his wake. I'd always imagined that his music sprang full blown and perfect onto the pages, ready for the orchestra to transform into music that will last through the ages. Actually, it was the most indecipherable bunch of scribbling, crossing out, and over-writing, I could have dreamed up. Some of the world's favorite themes had been changed six, eight, ten times as he struggled to come up with the right combination of tones and rhythms.
Likewise, an author's final manuscript may have been modified countless times before the writer got it right. Editors help the process along, but the text is the author's 'baby' and deserves to be nurtured to maturity before the editing process begins. Final clue: your inner world can be as big as your mind allows it to be. This is especially important for authors of books for kids.
Remember, their world is still relatively small. That's one reason they want books that will take them to places they've never been; even to worlds that only exist in your mind. Let's help them enjoy the trip. Happy reading and writing, and Happy Holidays to all of you!
Pat Dale






















Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gifts for Yourself (well, me, actually)

Greetings All!
Last week I did a blog on gifts for writers. This week I thought I’d write about your dream gifts that no one in their right mind would ever get you but you want.
Here’s my list in no particular order:
1.      - I can haz a purse- http://behlerblog.com/i-can-haz-purse/
                This is the coolest gift I can think of! Your book cover as a purse! Since I have eleven books out,                I’d need eleven purses. Yeah. Get on that, will ya?
2.       -Another bag I am wishing for is here: http://www.gaelsong.com/product/146307/Accessories_Handbags
It’s called the Midsummer’s Night Bag and it’s so lovely. *sighs* However, the price tag is a little steep.
3.       =As long as we are wishing, I wish someone would buy me a trip to Ireland. The north coast of Ireland, please. Rent me a small thatched roof cottage with a fireplace, ‘kay? Oh, it has to have an ocean view. This one is so beautiful: http://www.shamrockcottages.co.uk/properties/kerry/rossbeigh-176/
4.      - My book wish list is too huge to include here but I want any YA dystopian book out there. It’s my new fave. Oh, and if it has zombies? Bring it!
5.       -Anything Dr. Who related is fine, too BTW. I want the Tardis disappearing coffee mug for starters. Here it is: http://www.amazon.com/Doctor-Who-Disappearing-Tardis-Coffee/dp/B003Z31K7G/ref=wl_it_dp_o_npd?ie=UTF8&coliid=I27MAPN141JIYS&colid=3KBFDTI7NBQ7Y

6.       Anything Torchwood related is fine, too. I’d love the entire series on DVD. It’s here:
7.      - I collect teapots so any unusual teapot is good. I’d love to find the Harry Potter one they used to “tell” fortunes in the Prisoner of Azkaban. Here’s a Dr. Who one I like: http://www.ohmz.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/il_570xN.273631710.jpg
8.      - I like old movies, like Gone with The Wind, Wizard of Oz, Breakfast at Tiffany’s anything with Bette Davis in it, Gene Tierney, John Garfield, Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe. . .and the old sci fi ones like Them!, The Day of the Triffids, The Day the Earth Stood Still (not the remake). So, there you go, movie memorabilia of any kind or the actual movie itself.
9.       -A castle in Wales. Need I say more?
10.   -A limo with a chauffeured driver.  Might as well dream big.
11.   -My own personal chef. Yeah.
12.   -A fairy godmother. Everyone needs one, right?
13.  - A magic wand. ‘nuff said.

14.   -And, last, but not least, a publishing contract with one of the “big six”, months on the NYT bestseller list, talk show go ‘rounds, Lady Gaga wants to meet me and so does Queen Elizabeth because I am so fabulous.

Notice that my list went from possible to completely improbable? Well, except for number 14, that’s totally doable, right? Right? I can’t hear you! RIGHT? *crickets sound in the background*

Until Next Time, Take Care,
Kathleen

ps/Beginning in January, 2012 I will be blogging here on the 5th and 19th of the month with the last day (the 19th) kept for book promotions/releases/book news. Of course if I have anything exciting to tell you I will put it up on my website at: http:www.gaelicfairie.webs.com
Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Traveling



myfreewallpapers.com
I'll be back next Monday. Happy Holidays.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Secret Santas Paying It Forward


Finally good news on the news!  Secret Santas have invaded Kmart with their Christmas spirit showing it’s all about the giving.  Anonymous donors have been  losing out layaway accounts of families with small children.  These secret Santas have singled out families who use Kmart’s layaway plans to pay for toys for Christmas.  Toys they might not be able to get without the layaway plan. 
Every time I hear this song it brings tears to my eyes.  It's by Newsong, "The Christmas Shoes." 
Another favorite Christmas story of mine by O. Henry is “The Gift of the Magi.” (use the link for a free download for Kindle or PC)  Without giving away too much of the story, it’s about a young couple who don’t have any money for presents so they each sell a treasured possession to buy a gift for the other.  It’s a beautiful and heartwarming story. 
The watercolor painting, "The gift of the magi" is by Lisbeth Zwerger

Next to this story at Christmas, I also love “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Scrooge,” [the old b&w] and “White Christmas.”  What's your favorite holiday story?

Till next time,
Elizabeth  

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What Makes Me Write!

Yesterday I was very excited to find out that my YA novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, was on the Top Five Picks for best book of 2011 by Fran Lewis. Fran is someone who I respect very much. She is not The New York Times list, but I know that she reviews a great many books and she is very honest about how she feels about them. The thrill of being on that list is hard to describe. Am I on the bestseller list of anything? No, because when I look at my Amazon standing it is over 1,000,000 for the paperback and a little smaller for the ebook.

Before I saw I was in the top five I read an email from one of my author friends who wrote to tell me she was going to review my book, but she just had to write and tell me how much she loved my book. She told me she couldn't put it down and it was probably the best Muse book she had read this year. The words made me cry and I had to wonder why. I guess the reason is that, though I would love to have a popular book on the bestseller's list and be making lots of money in royalties, this is the reason I write.

For years I had so much to say and would keep it to myself, because it didn't fit into conversation. Some of it I wrote in poetry, but that wasn't a large enough medium for me to express myself. I wasn't into writing epic poems.:) So when I realized I could just put my thoughts down in the character of another person it was a very freeing experience. Certainly not all of my character's thoughts are indicative of who I am, but taken as a whole the characters in my book give you a good idea of the person I am.

As I wrote each word a part of me seeped into that book. I hoped that people would be able to see how I felt about things. I had a different take on life and no one was listening to me. All through my life I was the compliant one. I went along with the crowd and did for the most part what people wanted me to do. That's not saying I was a  doormat, but I deferred to most people unless I really didn't want to do it. No one in my family seemed to hear me when I spoke about anything that didn't relate to them. In discussions my husband would control the conversation, since his life and experiences were much more colorful than mine. That's not to say that no one listened to me or that I was a quiet shrinking violet. No, that wasn't me. I fought and I shouted and many times I did things regardless of whether people wanted me to do them or not. But underneath was a voice that no one knew or seemed to care about. My writing voice, which occasionally came out in poetry.

Then I wrote my book and agonized over it, even though I had no idea if it would be published. I wrote and rewrote it and then had it critiqued. I sent it out and got a lot of rejections. My amount of rejections doesn't even come near the rejections of many well known authors, yet they kept coming. I don't know how I got the courage to try one more time to send it out, but I wanted everyone to read my words. I wanted people to know my thoughts. It is the reason I started my blog and it is the reason I continue to write this post each week. There is a force within me that must be heard and it is not an ordinary thing. This force comes out in my writing and it is who I am. If you could scrape the outside of me away and get rid of the everyday parts of me you would come to the inner core and that is what keeps me writing. It is what flows through me when I start a new story and continues to fuel me. I used to think everyone had it, because it was so much a part of me, but I have come to realize it is not so common.

Most people don't think in those terms. They don't go to sleep thinking about a story that has been rolling around in their head. They don't sit down and write anything. Instead they play games and go about their lives and writing is not a part of them. Then there are the writers like me, who are driven by this urge that may or may not bring them fame and fortune. It's more a need to be heard and have other people know what you are thinking. So when someone enjoys what you have written and lets you know, if this fulfills a primal need, then it becomes very emotional. As I broke down in tears over the words my author friend wrote to me, I realized how much I needed to know someone read and loved my words. I had heard this from my editor and publisher, but hearing it from a reader is the best!!

A reader comes upon your words and doesn't know anything about you, except what they read. Your story moves them or it doesn't. When it moves a reader there is a joy inside me as the writer that someone got me. After I read a book I would love to have the author there to discuss it with them. I would love to say to an author whose book I enjoyed that I really loved the book. I just finished one of those books, The Future of Us, by Carolyn Mackler and Jay Asher, where I would love to be sitting across from the authors, to tell them how much I enjoyed the book. It wasn't about much, but the authors conveyed the feelings they must have had as teenagers. I read a lot of YA, because I believe it is important to read as much as you write. Good YA leaves you with a comforting feeling. You might call this book quiet YA, because nothing important really happens in the book, except the characters come to a realization of how they want their lives to be.

That's what I always thought about my book. Though my character changes by the end of the book, nothing really happens except in her thoughts. There is a lot of fantasy, dystopia, vampires, werewolves, even zombies in YA, but I love the quiet YA. The kind of book I enjoy is one that delves into the world of teen angst. It brings me back to those days when all you had to think about was school and which boy or girl you liked. I think that's why so many people are returning to reading YA. Yes, some enjoy the grittier YA, and the vampire stories, but even those are basically about the feelings of teenagers. What causes us to want to relive those days? Maybe it is the innocence we all wish we still had. Maybe YA writers still have to work out issues from their past. Whatever it is, I am happy to be a part of this rare group of writers. In fact, I am happy to say I am a writer and proud to be an author. To be in the company of other people who think the same as I do is awesome. To be singled out for my writing is the icing on the cake.

For anyone who might be interested in reading my YA novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, now one of the top five picks of the year by a very respected author and reviewer, and with four and five star reviews on Amazon, you can find it in paperback and ebook for both Kindle and Nook. As the reviewer who picked me, Fran Lewis and several other people said, this is is a book that all teen aged girls should read. What better gift for the tween or teen in your life? Give them my quiet YA.

Before I go I have to tell you about this wonderful new poetry anthology in which I have three poems, Prompted: An International Collection of Poems. It is now on Amazon. My poetry group, The Anthologists is responsible for this beautiful volume. We conceived, organized and published this. The publishers come from our group. The publisher and we are donating all the profits from the receipts to Literacy Research. So you are helping education by getting a copy.:)

I also want to let you know about the prose anthology, Lavender Dreams, which is a memorial to an author who we lost to cancer. It is full of stories, both fiction and non-fiction that memorialize people we knew who passed away from cancer. My story, "Cancer Didn't Get Him" is in there. All the royalties from this ebook go to cancer research. It is only $1.99 on the MuseItUp Bookstore site.

Friday, December 16, 2011

What Kids "Should" Read

I thought of this after I commented on Dale's post from yesterday. We see a lot of complaints about the topics addressed in YA fiction. Even though my Reality Shift books are pretty benign, I've had parents tell me they wouldn't allow their kids to read them because of the energy healing and channeling in the books. Which is fine; parents have the right to choose what their kids read, even if those kids are in their teens and think they should be allowed to choose for themselves.

The problem is, some parents think they're allowed to choose what *everyone's* children read. Because of that, some great books have been banned from schools or entire districts. If you don't want your own daughter to read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson because it might disturb her, or don't want your son to read Scars by Cheryl Rainfield because it might encourage him to cut, that's your business. But please don't tell me that my children shouldn't read those books. I'm capable of making that decision all by myself.

(My 16-year-old has read both books, and found a lot of comfort in Speak after being assaulted by a "friend." My 13-year-old read Speak for summer reading this year, and doesn't seem to have suffered any adverse effects from it.)

Every kid is different. My 16-year-old has probably read things I wish she wouldn't, or has read things at an age where I didn't consider those things appropriate, but she's got a pretty solid footing in reality and talks to me when she reads something that upsets her or that she wasn't ready for. At this point, the only thing I don't allow her to read is erotic romance. She could probably handle it, but erotic romance is intended for age eighteen and up, and she's not eighteen. (And I don't know if I could handle her reading it...)

My 13-year-old, on the other hand, has Asperger's Syndrome, sometimes known as high-functioning autism. She's incredibly smart and can read anything you put in front of her, but because of having Asperger's, she sees things in a very black and white way, and the subtleties and nuances of life fly right over her head. I'm much more careful about what I let her read, because there are some topics that she wouldn't understand, and some that would be upsetting to her because of the way she would understand them. She's less mature than her sister was at 13, so I tend to think of her more as a mid-grade reader than young adult at this point.

Those are decisions I make for my own kids. Other than my daughters, it isn't up to me to make decisions about what kids should read. The only exception is with the books that I write, and even then I don't say "No eleven-year-old should read Connection" or "There's inappropriate content in Cluing In. If I'm asked, I will say "Shanna's mother abuses her in the Reality Shift series and some of those scenes might be disturbing for pre-teens" or "There's a teen pregnancy, mention of abortion, and a suicide in Cluing In, so personally I'd recommend it for older teens", but ultimately it's up to parents to determine what's appropriate for their own kids.

If you're buying books for the holidays, please take the time to consider the books you want to buy and whether they're appropriate for your intended recipient. If you're a parent, pay attention to what your child is reading in school, at home, and at the local library, and if you have a problem with it then talk to your child about it. If it's a school assignment, ask the school if your child can read something else. (Schools generally have alternate books for kids whose parents have strong objections to an assigned book for some reason.)

But please don't tell the school they can't use that book for any student. Don't tell the library to remove the book from circulation. You make the decisions for your children. Please let the rest of us make the decisions for ours.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Violence in YA Writing

This may seem an unlikely subject for this time of year, but it's also a time when many folks are considering buying books as gifts for kids. For instance, I have seven grandchildren and almost all of them are bookworms, or nearly so. One in particular reads at a senior high level though she's only ten.
Recently, she recommended that we read Suzanne Collins 'The Hunger Games' trilogy. She'd read it and understood the plot perfectly. If you've read it, you know what I'm getting at here. If not, I recommend it but be advised going in that it is not a typical YA read. Not long after I began reading the first book, I had serious thoughts about putting it down. It was clear that the games would be a youthful version of the lions vs. Christians, ala ancient Rome. As the plot unfolded, I gritted and groaned but couldn't put it down, wishing and hoping the girl protagonist would find a way to prevail. I won't spoil it for those of you who've not read it yet.
There are other YA books that contain gross or ugly scenes, so this is my advice as regards book buying for young folks. You should consider the kid you're buying for before grabbing a 'hot' YA seller off the rack. Of the kids in my family, five of them would read such as I outlined above with no regret, but the other two would react negatively. Possibly as though I'd left a lump of coal in their stockings. There are lots of books for young people out there and I have no trouble finding books this pair will like. And read. After all, that is the purpose of gifting a book, isn't it.
Pie in the sky, or mud in your eye, we write for a readership that is increasingly sophisticated. We should always reference that readership when we pick a story topic. My thoughts on a gray pre-Christmas morning. Cheers all, and happy reading!
Pat Dale










Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gifts for Writers


Greetings All!
Since it is so close to the gift buying season, I thought I’d spend some time today chatting about what gifts to get your writer friend or gifts to get for yourself. I’ve read two blogs about this including Shevi Arnold’s here: http://shevi.blogspot.com/2011/12/find-perfect-gift-for-writer-no-matter.html?spref=fb
So here’s my list of great gifts in no particular order.
-YA books
                Writers are avid readers and we always want the latest YA book. Peruse the shelves at your local bookstore and choose a few for that writer friend. I have several on my wish list including: The Hunger Games (I’ve read one and two but not three yet. I am on the waiting list from my local library for it), Imaginary Girls,  Matched and Crossed, Across the Universe and A Million Suns to name several I’d like to read.

-A new laptop with all the bells and whistles including writing software and a mind map program
                Yeah, this is a dream wish. *sighs*

-Time to write
                This gift is important if your writer friend is on a deadline especially if you can babysit the kids/pets/significant other for a few hours really helps out. A two hour time block will work for me!

-Fancy pens
                I rarely write with a pen these days but I still love the ones with real ink and nibs. A set of those would make my heart go pitty pat. I found a set at a thrift store that looked like it had never been opened and bought it! Now it sits on its own shelf.  I also love those sticky notes with writer quotes on them. I’m one of those writers that use a lot of sticky notes so this is an ideal gift for me.

-Autographed books by me
                Yeah, this would be the ideal gift for a writer. Buy tons of their books and then ask them to sign them. Perfect gift that is only beaten by a publishing contract with a big name publisher and subsequently being on the best-seller list. *sighs*

-Subscription to Publisher’s Weekly
                This is the way writers get all their publishing news. I subscribe to their free service but the indepth information is only by paid subscription. See this link for more info: https://www.pubservice.com/subnew.aspx?PC=PW&PK=MNSITE

-Writing Inspired jewelry
                I ordered myself this quill pen necklace last year from London Particulars and I still adore it. Here is the link: http://www.etsy.com/listing/65918265/steampunk-jewelry-the-writers-quill-a

-Coffee gift cards/Mugs
                What writer doesn’t like coffee? Or tea? Or both? I’d like a gift card to my two favourite coffee places, Panera Bread and Starbucks. Yum. This gift could include a k-cup pack if the writer has a single-brewer coffeemaker or if they don’t have one, this could be a gift for them. It’s fun trying the different coffees. Along with this idea is a mug with your writer’s friend book cover on it. I ordered several of these for book signings as giveaways from Vistaprint and ordered an extra one for myself. Right now I am drinking coffee out of the NINA cup. I haven’t gotten all of my book cover mugs yet but I am working on it.  
There’s a pic of two of mine at the top of this blog:   The one on the left is the cover of FITZROY: THE BOY WHO WOULD BE KING and the one on the right is the cover for IF IT’S MONDAY, IT MUST BE MURDER!
                Another great gift in this theme are business cards or MOO cards.
Here is their link: http://us.moo.com/
T-shirts, hoodies etc. with your writer's book cover on it or a witty saying. Cafe Press/Zazzle has these.
Here are their links:

-Writer’s Retreat/Conferences
                Yeah, this is another dream wish. I’ve often thought how wonderful it would be to write near the ocean. And who wouldn’t want to go to Ireland for a retreat? Rent a cottage by the Irish Sea and write to your heart’s content. *dreamy gaze out of window*
Poets and Writers magazine offers a list of conferences/residencies here: http://www.pw.org/conferences_and_residencies.
The Shaw Guides also has a list here: http://writing.shawguides.com/

So, there is my list. What’s on your wish list for either yourself or your writer friend?
Until Next Time,
Take Care,
Kathleen

Monday, December 12, 2011

Farsighted


BLURB:

Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can still "see" things others can't. When his unwanted visions of the future begin to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on destiny and demand it reconsider.

Alex Kosmitoras's life has never been easy. The only other student who will talk to him is the school bully, his parents are dead-broke and insanely overprotective, and to complicate matters even more, he's blind. Just when he thinks he'll never have a shot at a normal life, a new girl from India moves into town. Simmi is smart, nice, and actually wants to be friends with Alex. Plus she smells like an Almond Joy bar. Yes, sophomore year might not be so bad after all.

Unfortunately, Alex is in store for another new arrival--an unexpected and often embarrassing ability to "see" the future. Try as he may, Alex is unable to ignore his visions, especially when they begin to suggest that Simmi is in danger. With the help of the mysterious psychic next door and new friends who come bearing gifts of their own, Alex must embark on a journey to change his future.

EXCERPT:

“Did Dad tell you? A new tenant moved into the old pharmacy next door.”

“Really?” I ask, not letting on I already know. If I feign ignorance, Mom’ll divulge all the details. “What is it?”

“It’s a psychic shop,” Her voice crackles with excitement like a fire that’s just beginning to burn. “The All-Seeing Miss Teak. Isn’t that cute? Miss Teak, Mystic. Ha, I wonder if that’s her real name.”

I laugh. “That is funny. Never had a psychic in town before. What’s she like?”

“Oh, she’s very friendly. Why don’t you go over and say ‘hi.’ I’m sure she’d like to meet you.”

“Okay, I think I will.” I’m incredibly intrigued, because first off, it’s a psychic shop—how weird is that?—and second, its presence made Dad super uncomfortable—also very cool. I waste no time heading next door to check out the scene.

As I step cautiously into the new shop, a recording of soft, instrumental music greets me. I can make out chimes and a string instrument I don’t recognize but for some reason reminds me of snake charmers. The smell of incense fills my nostrils, which explains the burning I detected earlier.

“Hello?” I call out into the otherwise quiet room.

Nobody answers. I walk in deeper, sweeping my cane out in front of me in a metronome fashion. This place is new to me, so I need to be especially careful while moving around.

Thump! Despite my precautions, I stub my toe on something hard, big, and made of wood. Just my luck to stub the same toe twice in one day. I reach down to press my fingers into my throbbing foot to alleviate some of the pain. Something teeters before rolling off of the chest and across the floor; the sound it makes indicates a curved path. Suddenly, the object stops. Somebody’s stopped it.

“Hello?” I call again.

“Hello,” a deep, feminine voice responds, placing more emphasis on the first syllable than the second.

“I- I’m sorry I knocked that thing over. I didn’t mean to…” I hope she’s not angry. Probably not a good idea to get on a psychic’s bad side.

“That wasn’t just a thing, it’s a crystal ball,” she says as she walks over, sending my blood pulsing through my veins. I sense her looking at me for a moment before she places the ball back on top of the chest.

“Can it see the future?” I ask, allowing my curiosity to outweigh my uneasiness.

“No.” After a pause lasting several beats, she continues. “But I can see the future sometimes when I look into it.”

“Oh, okay.” I tighten my hand around my cane and turn to leave. It may not be the most polite thing to do, but all of this hocus-pocus stuff is freaking me out more than I would’ve guessed.

The psychic lady speaks again, stopping me cold. “Don’t run away, Alex Kosmitoras.” She must’ve spoken to Mom earlier today. That must be how she knows my name.

“I’m not running away,” I say meekly. “I’m just going back over to Sweet Blossoms.”

“Don’t run away,” she repeats—this time she speaks louder and with more energy. “Don’t run away from your abilities. They are gifts.”

“What?” I ask in confusion. What abilities is she talking about?

“You already know. Watch. Listen. Be open to your gifts.”

I turn to face Miss Teak, but find she’s already gone, returning to wherever she was before I got there.

Is it safe to leave? I trail my fingers across the wooden box I ran into earlier; a thick coat of dust clings to the tips as I pull away. If this shop just opened, why is it already so dirty? I wipe my hands over my shirt to get the gritty substance off. Shivers rock my whole body. Something about this place is wrong, and I’m not sticking around to figure out what. Tapping my cane along the floor, I’m able to find the exit without knocking into anything else.

REVIEWS:

Alex Kosmitoras might not have a magic wand or vampiric strength and speed, but he is a totally swoon-worthy hero that any mom would be proud to let her daughter date. -- Melissa Luznicky Garrett, author of Turning Point


You don't have to be psychic to know that Farsighted is going to take the world by storm. Vampires are so last year. -- Kimberly Kinrade, author of Forbidden Mind


An epic battle of good versus evil that moves at breakneck speed to a stunning and totally
unexpected conclusion. -- Terri Giuliano Long, author of In Leah's Wake


Is Alex blind? Yes. Bullied? Yes. A victim? Absolutely not! Emlyn Chand expertly tackles high school bullying, making Farsighted both an entertaining and an educational read. -- Kevin Carey-Infante, Author of Bani's Dilemma


There's nothing blurry about Farsighted. With keen insight, Emlyn Chand creates complex characters that pop off the page. -- Lauren Clark, author of Stay Tuned


Psychic or not, you'll never see the end for this one coming! Emlyn Chand is pioneering "the next big thing" for YA. -- Emily Reese, author of Second Death

*Winner of the Alternative Booker Award, 2011

*Winner of the WritersType First Chapter Competition, September 2011

BUY LINKS:

Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Farsighted-Emlyn-Chand/dp/0983930805/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1

B&N - www.barnesandnoble.com/w/farsighted-emlyn-chand/1106607652

Smashwords - http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/91611

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Emlyn Chand has always loved to hear and tell stories, having emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). When she's not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm, Novel Publicity. Emlyn loves to connect with readers and is available throughout the social media interweb.

Visit www.emlynchand.com for more info. Don’t forget to say “hi” to her sun conure Ducky!

For a chance to win a download of Farsighted just leave a comment and your email addie.



Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sending Out Your Manuscript

Reading Jo's post got me thinking about my own writing situation. I have several novels that are finished due to NanoWriMo and I actually have had one of them critiqued and beta read. So why can't I send it out? I am going over it and realize it is really ready. It is not at all like my first novel, though it is YA. It deals with an even grittier subject, my husband's heart attack and bypass surgery. There were whole sections of this novel that I found very emotionally draining to write, yet they came out sounding dull and boring to other people. So I thought I'd write about how to get your feelings into your writing.

When I found that scenes I had cried over were leaving other people cold I had to go back and see what I had done wrong. Why didn't the emotions I felt come across in my writing? Examining an emotional scene can show you what it was you wanted to say and when you dissect the emotion you want to get across you can realize maybe you didn't put the energy you wanted into the scene. Describing a situation can be boring unless you put in your feelings. You have to show them. The nausea in the pit of your stomach when you hear the results and the shock when you see your loved one. Legs can wobble and eyes fill with tears while voices catch in your throat. Giving details of how you felt by showing what happened to you recreates the scene for your reader and helps to get the emotion across to your audience.

Don't be afraid to take apart any scene that doesn't work. It's like when you are knitting and you drop a stitch. You have to take apart the entire item until you get to the dropped stitch or else the item will look wrong. Take apart your scene and see the emotions. Go back to the original experience and feel the same feelings. Did you start to tear up or did you hold them in? Was there anger and how did it make you feel? What were your thoughts? What are your character's thoughts? How is it affecting your character? Are you showing it as it unfolds? Then you will have a stronger scene.

Writers hear these words, show don't tell, but too many don't understand what that means. How do you show a traumatic experience? Maybe you concentrate on the physical objects in the room. In a hospital room you might focus on the heart machine and count the beeps or watch the zig zag of the lines on the monitor. Hearing the breath is another way to show how you feel. Are you listening for catches? How do you feel looking at someone you love in a hospital bed? Show your reactions and the deterioration of your condition.

Anyway, go back over your writing and see if it grips you or brings a tear. If that happens you have probably shown emotions. Still, send it out for a few comments, because you still can't be sure it is where it should be. I am going to send out my manuscript before the end of the year. I will keep you posted.

Meanwhile, if anyone is interested in getting a free ebook I am running a contest on Love Romances Cafe on yahoo groups to get a free ebook of If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor. Here's how it works. Once you read the message on Love Romances Cafe come over to my blog and leave a comment. I will do a drawing of all the comments on my blog. I will also add in anyone who comments here as well.

Have a great week!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Dreaming Big

All I want for Christmas this year is confidence.

There have been a few changes lately in my writing career. I'm not going to get into everything, because some things aren't completely finalized yet and some of them are private. When I'm more comfortable mentioning them, I will.

The publishers I've worked with so far, Jupiter Gardens Press and Featherweight Press, are small presses. I like working with small presses. Authors get personal attention, and small presses are sometimes more likely to take a chance on things. (I still doubt my Reality Shift series would have been picked up by a major publisher, mainly because of the channeling and "higher level beings" threads.)

I've only ever submitted one project to a major publisher, and that wasn't young adult. It was rejected, and was recently contracted by MuseItUp Publishing. It's a paranormal novel that will be published under this name, even though it isn't YA.

There are a couple other publishers I have my eye on, and I have projects--not yet written, but prepared to be written--that would fit each of them. So in 2012, I've decided, I'm going for it. I will submit to each of those publishers, and if it works out, yay for me! If not, all I've lost is the time spent submitting, and the cost of postage in one case since they don't accept email submissions.

I just need to write those projects and find the confidence to actually submit them.

Ever have to work up your confidence to try something, whether it's submitting or something else? How did you do it?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

IT'S ALL RANDOM!

Greetings All!

Now that NaNoWriMo is over, what are you writing? Many people either start editing their novels or put them in the drawer to marinate. Which one are you doing? I am doing the marinating. I didn’t want to start on my vampire novel until I finished the YA dystopian. I am about 36K on it so it’s trudging along.  

I finally read The Hunger Games and am excited to read the second book in the series. How do you feel about reading books while you are writing? I used to think that I couldn’t read anything because it might influence my writing and I’d end up writing a similar story or with similar characters. Now I don’t worry about it because I know what my story is, who my characters are and what I want to accomplish. Any books I’ve read over the years probably influenced my writing anyway. I read The Hunger Games after I started my YA dystopian so it didn’t even strike me as the same as mine. Besides, mine has zombies. LOL.

 Someone asked me yesterday, “How long does it take you to write a novel?” and I pondered the question for a moment. How long does it take me? Did they mean a first draft? Revised? Which revision? Do they mean the final version, the version they can buy? So, I answered, “it all depends.” Not a very satisfying answer but it’s true. It all depends. On what, you may ask? The weather? The phase of the moon? The aether? No, and pay attention here, IT’S ALL RANDOM. All of it.

I usually pound out a first draft in less than a month, sometimes shorter depending on the time I have to write and the storyline. I am the type of writer to get it all down as quickly as I can, edit a bit as I go and then do any major editing after the story is down on paper. It takes longer to write a first draft if I am editing as I go, but that’s the way I like to write. Once I have edited it for the first time, I send it out to my critique partner and take any suggestions my CP has and revise again. I also do either autocrit.com or editminion.com to catch repeated words, sentence structure variety, prepositions, adverbs, etc. The one problem with these editing sites is that they don’t like sentence fragments and I write with fragments all the time. It’s my style. Of writing. A fragmented pantser.  So, it took me a month to write my NaNoWriMo novel and it’s just over 50K and it’s done. Last year I finished my faerie novel at 86K and considered it done. The YA dystopian is almost done and it will probably end up around 50 or 60K but it could be longer after I get into the editing/revising stage of it. I have no idea. A novel ends when it ends. When the story is finished, it’s finished. Well, sort of. It all depends. On what, you may ask? Wait, didn’t we already do this? Remember, IT’S ALL RANDOM. All of it.

How do you like to write?

Take Care Until Next Time,

Kathleen

                 

               

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New Trilogy Project Update

Hey all,
Today, I figured on posting a bit about my newest project. It's a YA fantasy taking place in my world of Nanthara. For now, it is being called The Trident Trilogy. The first book is entitled "The Sons of the Trident"; Book 2 is "Revenge of the Darkwitch"; Book 3 is named "Vindication". These are WIP's and I am currently on Chapter 29 of the first draft of book 1.
The stories take place years before the Great War of the Relics, my first trilogy. A Darkwitch seeking revenge and power sets a trap against the realm she resides in by having three sons. Her plans are, once matured, to bring them into power before raising war and claiming what she desires. Instead, a paladin escapes her keep to report the birth of her offspring, and dies in the process. As her initial plans are thwarted, she escapes and sends her sons to be raised by darkhearted rulers within the realm in secrecy. Only two reach their destination; the third is found along the road by Ganethin's ruling family, his riders having been killed, and is raised as one of their own.
Upon reaching the age of 18, things happen to Naltharion. Frightful dreams and haunting visions bombard the prince, causing him to question the strange events. Once the truth of his identity is revealed, a struggle for his soul between the forces of light and dark rages as his kingdom is cast into a bloody war. Will Naltharion remain true to his beliefs, or will he be tainted by evil and become the wicked ruler the Darkwitch was promised. The triology follows the prince's plight through this harrowing experience alongside his trustworthy companions: a witty and wise bard, and a beautiful Weaponsmaster, so far.
There are other characters involved, but this is still a rough draft. Regardless, it is panning out into a neat story. Like all my fantasy based stories so far, they take place along the timeline in Nanthara with the Great War of the Relics serving as the focal point of reference. I plan on beginning a website on this, but not quite yet. I still have some work to do.
While I wait for my edits of Book 3, Dawn of the Apocalypse and book 1 of a sci-fi series: The Chronicles of Nuclear Fist-Darksoul, I will be working on finishing this trilogy while two other ideas, one already started, sits simmering on the back burner. That's all for now.
Remember, feel free to contact me with any questions. (chiro49nct@hotmail.com).

Take care, Nick
www.relicsofnanthara.weebly.com
www.nuclearfist.weebly.com

Monday, December 5, 2011

Seasons of Reading


When fellow Downtowner Jo Ramsey asked me if I wanted to take part in her Seasons of Reading Blog Hop, I jumped at the chance. It touched on a subject dear to my heart. Books as gifts. Can you give a better gift, especially to a young person, where worlds await to be discovered and conquered? Growing up, for every birthday or holiday, I could expect a new book. I could hardly wait. My passion at that time was horses. I read horse stories voraciously: The Black Stallion Series, Frog the Horse That Knew No Master, Indian Paint and the list goes on. Some of them remain in my library today.But probably the book gifted to me that touched me the most was Little Women, a present from my mother, who I inherited my love of reading from. Most of you have probably read this classic.This story is based loosely on the author and the lives of her sisters as they grew up. I stand in awe of author Louisa May Alcott whose stories thrive over a hundred years later. Little Women is a story that never goes out of style. Who's characters are so strong you weep and cheer along with them. If you haven't read it, I urge you to give it a try. I think you'll enjoy it.
For an opportunity to win a download of VAMPIRE BAY, and have a copy of GROUNDED donated in your name to the library of your choice (if in the United States, otherwise it will be donated to the Iredell County Library in your name) just leave a comment along with your email addie.
Happy Holidays.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kick into Creative Play Time!


After a month long drive to cross NaNo's finish line it’s time to replenish those creative juices.  It’s time to set your mind to relax, read and watch movies.  Or whatever way that let’s your mind run free without any restrictions.  Spend some time in the great outdoors and push yourself away from the computer.  Yup!  It’s time to regenerate.  Give yourself some space to regroup and let your mind wander wherever it wants to go.  No, you’re not wasting time!  You’ll actually be increasing your productive time if you let yourself relax.  Even if it’s just for a few days you will reap the rewards of a surge of creative flow.  Kick into your play time and smile like the Kung  Fu Panda.
Here’s 29 ways to stay creative:

I’m spending the next few weeks to catching up on my reading list and movies I missed.  What’s your way of rejuvenating?
Till next time,
Elizabeth

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Thoughts on driving!

Unfortunately, last week I wrote about bullying invading shopping, but this week I want to talk about how people have suddenly stopped having any kind of manners on the road. Seriously, I always thought that the person who is driving straight down the street has the right of way! Yet too many times people just come right out into the road from a driveway and take up the whole road as you are passing them. This is especially frightening when you are going at normal speed and you see someone about to get out of a driveway and a minute later they are in the street. Today, I had to swerve to avoid someone like that. But the worst was when I was trying to change lanes and I had my directional on to warn the drivers. As I was easing into the right lane, a motorist was too close to me so I had to wait and drove slowly as the driver got in front of where I needed to go. At that moment the driver behind me, who must have seen my directional honked me. I couldn't believe it. How rude do you have to be not to slow down when someone in front of you has their directional on and is almost in the other lane. I couldn't believe it. Yet, this is not the only place you find rudeness. If you linger for even a second more when the light turns green the driver behind you honks you. If you dare to move after a Stop sign and then you see the driver who is in the cross street has decided to move too and then you stop, the driver behind you will honk you. Never mind that there is a safety issue! Today at Target's parking lot a person was crossing in front of me as I was getting out of the aisle. The person in back of me honked me. What did they want me to do? Run over this pedestrian?

It is a sad situation when people forget their manners and do despicable things to try to move in front of you. I will say that most people, though, show good manners and occasionally someone will let you through on the road. This is just something I would love to hear about from my readers of this post.

I'm not sure how this came about and I'm wondering if maybe it has something to do with the relentless pace of our lives. Everyone has somewhere to go and they have to be there ASAP. Maybe it's the holiday shopping frenzy or maybe it's people who are angry for no reason. Whatever it is this is something that I have rarely seen. Life seems to be moving along way too fast and sometimes we just have to slow down a little and not be part of this pace.

There's one other thing I would like to talk about here. Unfortunately, another little boy has succumbed to being bullied. It was in the U.K. and he was an autistic 12 year old boy who was doing very well considering his disabilities. However, a group of mean 8th grade girls bothered him both in and out of school and he killed himself. This was all due to bullying and he has become another victim of this mean action.

As a writer, I feel this is an opportunity to reach kids who might not be reached any other way. Kids are reading a lot of fantasy these days and I think it's fun to read that too. But in many of these books the message is that it's okay to do awful things as long as it's to the bad guys. I don't think there are enough books that address the problem of bullying that are written for young adults. Of course as a writer you never want your message to dominate your book, but there is a way to let kids know how to deal with bullying. Several of the reviews of my book, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, say that all young girls should read my book. As I say in my guest post on Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf today, I didn't write this book about bullying. Yet, several people have gotten that message as they read it. I wrote the book about girls who had poor body images and girls who developed eating disorders for one reason or another. Yet the bullying is an underlying factor that affects the main character and causes her to do things she might not have done if she weren't bullied.

If you are a YA writer, have you read a book recently that tackles the subject of bullying? With so many instances of fatalities caused by bullying it would be great if every YA writer would tackle that subject in some way. I think even vampires and werewolves can be bullied too! Weren't all the tyrants of the medieval era really big bullies? Ask yourself, how can you put bullying and how to deal with it in your next book.

I would love if you left me a comment here about this.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

When Writer's Block Attacks

This post is inspired by the fact that I've been sitting at my computer since yesterday trying to think of a topic for this post. My brain went completely blank the moment I signed into my Blogger dashboard. That's writer's block.

Writer's block is one of those insidious things that just sneaks up on a writer. I think we've probably all experienced it. Staring at a computer screen or paper page, wondering what on earth is supposed to happen next in our story. That's assuming it doesn't strike us when we sit down to begin a new story. We probably have some idea about our characters and the plot, at least a basic "this is a romantic story" or "they save the world", but when we go to write it down or type it, the words just won't come.

The time I'm most likely to experience writer's block is when I'm starting a new story. Even though I probably know who the characters are and what I think is going to happen in the story (I'm not much of a plotter, but I sometimes at least jot down a few sentences as to what I think the plot's going to be), figuring out that first sentence is sometimes the hardest part. I want to grab the reader and get them excited about reading the rest of the story, but I want to start in the right place.

With my novel Fresh Meat (coming in 2012 from Featherweight Press), I started in completely the wrong place. The plot of the story is that a 15-year-old boy is turned into a werewolf during an assault by a sexual predator. For some reason, I chose to start the first draft with the boy, Tobias, being awakened by a thunderstorm and having to help his mother calm his younger sisters, one of whom is autistic. It was a nice introduction to Tobias and his family, but had almost nothing to do with the plot. When I revised, I started the story with Tobias meeting the predator--whom he doesn't realize is a predator, and develops an insta-crush on--at an arcade. A shortened version of the thunderstorm made it into the novel a little later on, where it did fit the plot because it showed one of the reasons Tobias wishes he could move out and live with the guy he thinks he's falling in love with instead of staying with his family.

Sometimes working around writer's block ends up giving us better ideas than what we had in the first place. And sometimes we wind up with something we can't use, or at least can't use at that point in the story. The good thing is, if we just power through the block, or go around it and leave that scene for later, we can always fix it when we revise.

When I was young and still writing my stories in spiral notebooks, if I got blocked I just stopped writing the story. Even in some of the notebooks that contain complete manuscripts, I have a number of stories that I gave up on after just a few pages. I don't do that anymore. Now if I get stuck, I just work on another project, or wander off and blog, or even socialize for a bit on Facebook and Twitter, until the block goes away. Sometimes on the social networks, I'll even mention that I'm blocked and ask for suggestions.

Writer's block can be conquered. It isn't always easy, but sometimes once we get past the block, we end up with something even better than we expected.