Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Aubree is Awesome!

Hi Friends! Today Aubree Hale is visiting us from "The Writing Hour." She is new to the "writing" part of the blogosphere so I hope you will hop over and show her some love. Her posts are fun to read and she is a great friend to follow you back and leave awesome comments! She has a HUGE work load this semester, and she still manages to ROCK! I don't think I survive all that she does. She's amazing. Now lets get to know her better, shall we?
1. Tell us a little about yourself, in 40 words or less.
I’m Aubree, retail worker and college student by day, aspiring novelist by night! I have a weakness for all things chocolate, Harry Potter, and Disneyland. I’m majoring in English and have high hopes of being a professor someday.

2. What genre and age group do you write for?
I write mostly Young Adult. I love Young Adult because it’s (usually) safe for teens of all ages, and if the story is intriguing and it’s well written adults can enjoy it too, as opposed to adult literature, which usually has elements too mature for a younger audience. Most of my stories, especially my WIP, are YA geared for high school/ older teens.

3.  Tell us a little about your current WIP.
I’m not the best at summarizing (bad news for when I start querying!) but here goes. My WIP is told from the point of view of a seventeen year old girl, Seraphina, who works in a castle as the personal attendant/ best friend of the princess. The kingdom is plagued by a type of creature similar to humans, the difference being that these ones prey on humans. Her father was killed by one of these creatures and her mother is trying to force her into a betrothal with her late father’s apprentice, whom she has no interest in. Mistaken for the princess, Seraphina is kidnapped by one of these creatures and held as ransom in a war that’s on the brink of exploding. Now that she’s fighting for her life against creatures that would devour her in a heartbeat, nothing is as it seems. Not her friendship with the princess, not the feelings evolving into more than friendship for her captor, and certainly not the jarring secrets she learns about herself along the way.

4. How long have you been writing & what inspired you to be a writer?
I guess you could say I’ve been writing since I was nine. There were various short stories -- about fellow nine years olds on a basketball team who solved the occasional crime and kids who found mysterious diaries. Neither of which ever happened to me! The summer before my last year of high school I got serious about writing and finished my first book. I’ve finished another since then and am about 2/3 of the way through my WIP.
I think like most writers, I was inspired by my love of reading. Once I get an idea in my head I can’t just let it sit there.

5. How long have you been blogging & why did you decide to start?
I had another blog or two but those have died off. My writing blog is only a few weeks old but I’ve been around the blogosphere for about two years. I started The Writing Hour to meet other authors and share experiences with fellow bloggers.

Now for some chocolate chip questions. These are my favorite little morsels to add in!

6. If you could take a trip in a time machine, would you travel to the future or the past, and why?
Hmm…I’m torn!  I’d love to see where the world and technology are heading. But I’d also like to be in the Regency 1820’s era of England. Endless parties and balls operas and all sorts of fun things I’ve read about. So I think I need a Delorean that goes both ways! :)
 
7. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Why?
I’d be green! It’s my favorite.  

8. If you were a super hero, what super power would you have?
Being able to see the future would be great! But I’d have to not abuse it and use it too much, that might take the excitement out of life.  

9. Share one of your favorite thoughts or quotes with us.
“When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grown strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure” – Peter Marshall. I love this quote, it reminds me that it’s the journey that makes you who you are, not the destination you’re heading for. 

See! I told you guys she was awesome! So fun to get to know new writers. And Aubree, your WIP sounds really cool! So much to be curious about! I love it! Thanks again for being with us today! We're glad to get to know you better!
Hop over to THE WRITING HOUR and show Aubree why the writing community is so amazing!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Words I Hate!

I officially have "words that I hate!"

Yes, these are the words that weasel their way into my MS, because... well, that's the way I talk! Yes, I completely overuse them when I talk, but... I shouldn't use them so much when I write. These are the buggers that are invading my current WIP:
  • just
  • have
  • was
  • that
CURSE THOSE WORDS! And after searching the internet I found other fabulous words that we should avoid as much as possible. I made a list. (I am so grateful for awesome CP's who help me catch these little buggers!
Source found HERE


What words invade your WIP, that you constantly have to delete?

Also... Lara Schiffbauer awarded me with this awesome, SKUNK AWARD! The award is named 'The Thumbs up from Skunk Award' since "we all feel like stinky, stinky skunks some days" and there are people who make us feel (and smell) a whole lot better. Isn't that cool? I think so! And I'm excited to pass it on. 


For this award, you have to name one thing about yourself that you LOVE, and then pass it on to as many people as you want. Easy, right?


One thing I love about myself is... that I am an optimist. That's not saying I don't have bad days, but I'm usually pretty optimistic and try to steer clear of pessimism.

I will pass this award on to the following people...
Cassie Mae - for being incredibly awesome, and hilarious and for being an uplifting and fun blogging buddy.
Shallee McArthur - for being back in the blogosphere again & for having an amazing blog where I learn SO MUCH!
Jade Hart - for having a totally cool name, a totally cool bar & for surprising me when I found that I was on her blog roll! Thanks Jade!
Jenny Sulpizio - for helping me to find the humor in parenting situations that totally stress me out! 


Thanks everyone! AND... if you haven't entered to WIN, "Punxsutawney Phyllis" by Susanna Leonard Hill, you better get entered. It's an autographed copy and I am picking the winner on Thursday - GROUNDHOGS DAY!

I'm Leigh, and due to sick children... I'm off to sanitize my house.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Come Meet Punxsutawney Phyllis by Susanna Leonard Hill

Have I got a treat for YOU! Yes, YOU! Punxsutawney Phyllis is with us today! She is an amazingly, spunky little character that you are sure to fall in love with. She has TWO books, but today we're going to talk about one of them... PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS

Here is the blurb from Amazon:
Phyllis can't convince Uncle Phil to get out of bed to make his prediction on Groundhog Day. When Uncle Phil realizes he has missed all the signs of an early spring, he knows it's time to retire and pass on the title of Punxsutawney Phil. Only this time, it's Punxsutawney Phyllis!

MY OPINION:
Loved it! Phyllis is so much fun! I bought this for my daughter for Christmas and she loves it! Phyllis is willing to get things done and doesn't have to go with the norm. One of my favorite character traits! Your kids are sure to love Phyllis. I'm getting "April Fool, Phyllis" for them for April Fools Day! Perfect timing, right? I can't get enough of this fun character and I hope Susanna has more adventures for her in the future.

Would you like to hear from Phyllis, herself? I thought you would. Here we go!

1. Is Groundhogs Day your favorite holiday, or do you perhaps like another holiday better?
Yes, Groundhog Day is my favorite!  My birthday (February 3) and April Fools Day are fun too, but nothing beats the day I get to tell everyone whether there will be six more weeks of winter or an early spring.  I always hope for early spring, but it doesn't happen very often!

2. Don't you think we should do more to celebrate Groundhogs Day? What do you think the celebration should consist of?
Groundhog Day should be a National Holiday so that there's no school.  We should have a parade with sledding and hot chocolate afterwards.  Maybe I should also be president for that day... or Queen!

3. What does your Uncle Phil do, now that he doesn't have to wake so early every February 2nd?
He sleeps a LOT!  I don't know how anyone can sleep that much!  He also does a lot of sudoku puzzles, which are fun for a while, but really, he should get out more!

4. Tell us something special about yourself that we might not know yet.
I am an exceptional singer.  Really.  You should hear me.  I have two songs about Groundhog Day that I made up myself, and when I sing them, the kids look amazed.  Sometimes they laugh (I'm pretty sure it's with joy.)  If I wasn't already pretty busy being in charge of weather prediction, I could be an opera singer or any kind of singer, really!  Maybe Broadway might need a singing Groundhog.  I could star in my own musical - Punxsutawney Phyllis!  Hey!  That's a great idea!  Do you know any Broadway producers who could get that going?  Will you come to opening night?

Ah! Don't you just love Phyllis! She's wonderful, right? I certainly think so.
If you would like to win an hard-cover, autographed copy of PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS by Susanna Leonard Hill, then use the rafflecopter form below. The winner will be announced on February 2nd - YES, GROUNDHOGS DAY!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Also... Phyllis has even MORE fun things to offer! (I told you she was amazing!)
COLORING PAGES: Phyllis - Uncle Phil
PAPER DOLLS: Phyllis - Uncle Phil
AND MORE things like Madlibs, Word Scrambles & Crisscross Puzzles! Find them by clicking HERE.

Find PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS on Amazon!

I love that all these fun activities are available to go with the book and to use in a classroom! Susanna is truly an amazing author and Phyllis is one of my favorite characters. Thanks for sharing her with us Susanna!


Now everybody cross your fingers that Phyllis predicts and early spring!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

One Tough Chick...

I almost missed out on Mark Koopman's, "Follow Your Dreams," Bloghop! What a wonderful way to be inspired, and I appreciate Mark for doing this. The person who has inspired me is only 5 years old. Here is her story:


McKall is One Tough Chick
McKall is my neighbor!

McKall was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), in May of 2010. She was only 3 ½ years old. I cannot put into words what this amazing little girl or her family have been through. In the beginning she spent a LOT of time in the hospital getting treatments, blood transfusions, back pokes --- you name it! McKall had a beautiful head of thick, curly hair, and when it started to fall out, it couldn’t have been easy. Her family put a positive spin on it by having her shave her head with her daddy. She looked as cute as ever!

In truth, we can’t fully know or appreciate what people like her go through unless we experience it ourselves. It isn’t something I wish for anyone to experience. But no matter what, McKall has remained happy and positive throughout everything. Because of this, she has been an inspiration to me and everyone around her. She is still doing chemo treatments, but her counts have been good recently and she is currently “Cancer Free!” She truly is one tough chick!

I don't want to put a picture of McKall without her mom's permission, but there are so many people who fight cancer every day. I consider this a tribute to all of them. Some we lose and some we don't. McKall is the same age as one of my daughters  and I don't think I could handle all that McKall and her family have been through.  

I hope you guys will check out the other inspiring stories of amazing people. It could be YOU or it could be the little girl next store!

For Fun!

Check out the new web design! Yes- Janice has been hard at work and made my blog look spectacular!!! *squee!* I just love it! She'll be back to work on some blog design fun around March, so if your looking for something new, I highly recommend her! You can go to her website HERE and see other blog designs she has done! Thanks Janice! I love it!

Also --- I don't usually post on Fridays anymore, BUT... I have something super special for you tomorrow, so be sure to hop over and check it out. I'm giddy with excitement over this!

Now - lets have a survey on writing routines... just for fun today!
What sort of fun stuff do you have going on right now?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Introducing Halli Lilburn!

I was lucky enough to run into Halli during the "Wrap It Up Blogfest" and... she asked me to review her book, SHIFTERS, that comes out later this year. At first I was so excited but then I got nervous. What if I didn't like it?  I've heard others of you mention this concern, but I didn't get it until now. I don't like to give bad reviews.  I like to be supportive. However, I don't want to lead anyone astray either. Lucky for me... I LOVED IT! Seriously - it is such a cool book. But... I'm not going to tell you about it... YET! I'm making you wait! As the book gets closer to its release date I am going to do a review and a giveaway! *cheers* Go ahead and cheer - I know you want to!

As for now... how about getting to know more about Halli?

1.     1.  In 50 words or less, tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Halli Lilburn.  I live in southern Alberta, Canada with my husband and three children.  I am an artist, a gardener and a librarian.  I have two cats.


2. Now, your book, Shifters is coming out this year! Tell us a little bit about your book and how it will be available to us. 
The book is YA speculative fiction about a girl, Lina and her friends who stumble upon a government conspiracy taking place right in their school.  The corrupt branch is called the Special Force and their purpose is to weed out students who they deem have corrupt DNA to create a superior race.  Student get expelled and go missing.  Even more shocking, Lina finds out the Special Force is sending these teens to another reality.  Lina steals the power to shift into new realities and uses this power to escape the Special Force and attempt to rescue her friends.  It’s very plot driven, like a video game.
The e-book will be available first through amazon or imajin publishing.  Later it will be available on paperback as well.

3. What motivated you to write this book? Where did the idea come from?
The idea actually came from a dream that I had.  Almost all of my manuscripts begin as dreams.  My subconscious brain must be more creative than my conscious brain.  There is lots of fictional technology and I’m not a computer buff, but the great thing is I get to make it up.  If it’s not invented yet then who’s to say I’m wrong?
I’ve always been a writer, but life took me in a different direction.  When my youngest child went into public school I found all of this time to myself.  So I gave myself a new but long awaited career as a writer.  There is much more to come. (including a sequel).

4. I've already got your book marked on my TBR list on Goodreads! 
Is this your first published book or do you have others?  This is my first novel.  I have some short stories and poetry published in a few places: Canadian Stories, Grey Sparrow Journal and a ghost anthology “Spirited” through Leap Books.  I also have a non-fiction series running with BigWorldNetwork.com entitled “The Alternate Parent”.

5. Tell us a little about the publishing process so far. The good, the bad and the ugly!
I think I submitted to 30 agents who all turned it down.  Agents are harder to acquire than publishers sometimes, so I decided to solicit the manuscript myself.  I submitted to the big wigs first with no luck.  I was sceptical about going with an indie publisher, but I submitted to them anyways and got accepted.  I’m glad to be working with a local publisher.  I’ve been really happy with the editing process.  I don’t feel like my story is being warped or changed, the editors are making me sound like a genius.  I love it.  Promoting is probably my least favourite thing to do.  I hate feeling like a sales person, but it is necessary.  Every artist needs to also be a business person otherwise the art won’t sell no matter how good it is.

6. Any little nuggets of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors? 
On average I read 100 books to every one that I write.  You need to know what’s out there.  Read award winning books and see what makes them tick.  You also get a tax break on the books you purchase for this type of “research” (at least we do in Canada).  Take classes on writing.  You don’t have to get a degree, but a couple of workshops a year will help maintain your level of quality.  Don’t stop.  Check out Nanowrimo.com, the plot whisperer, Nathan Bradford.com

OK... and here are my chocolate chip questions. Tiny morsels of fun to add in at the end. :)

7. Tell us... if you could be any literary character, who would you be, and why?   
That’s hard to pick because the best characters always have something horrible happen to them.  I am partial to Jessica in “Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side” by -- .  She like an Elizabeth Bennet but without the historical setting or the corsets and she’s a vampire.  She’s pretty cool.  I also really like Eryn in the “Skinned” series by Judith Graves.  Both of these chicks get two guys to fall in love with them.  Who wouldn’t want that?

8. If you were a soda pop, what kind would you be? 
Ooo, I hate pop.  My parents owned a Pop Shoppe when I was growing up and we drank pop every day for years until the franchise shut down.  My teeth paid the price. I should say my parents paid to fix my rotten teeth.  I would rather be a hot apple cider with whipped cream and caramel on top. Then make sure to brush your teeth.

9. Finally... share with us a favourite thought or quote.
The wounds of a friend are sweeter than the kisses of an enemy

Now... if you want to get in touch with Halli, here's how you do it:
Twitter
SHIFTERS on Goodreads
Check out SPIRITED, the anthology that she's a part of. It's available HERE on Amazon!

And thanks for being with us today Halli. Congrats again and be sure to keep us posted on a release date!

Monday, January 23, 2012

ACTIVE VOICE...

Figuring out how to use "active" voice correctly is one of my goals for this year. Luckily I have some wonderful crit partners to help me out. I have finally figured out how to recognize it in an MS so I know it needs to  be fixed, but I haven't quite mastered HOW to fix it! It's a curse!

But fear not - I have set out to find some links that will help with this problem and I wanted to share them with you.

Daily Writing Tips - (This one is simple & easy to understand.)
Writing to Get Things Done - by Stan Berry (Business stuff, but actually helpful for us too!)

These are all very helpful and easy to understand links. I know I still have learning and work to do on this, but I found these links very helpful and I hope you do too!
Did you, or do you, find it hard to master active voice?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Things You Should Know About...

Alright - I'm kind of slacking in my blogging. But I have to share these things with you, then I will be back on Monday! First... I hope you 're prepping for NiNoCon.
It's going to be awesome! Click HERE for more info, or click on the button in my side bar. I am hosting a baby shower that day, but I'm sure I'll have plenty of time to sneak in and absorb all of the awesomeness of this event.

If you are UTAH...
LTUE Conference is coming up February 9th - 11th. Only $33. Go HERE to register!

The LDS STORYMAKERS Conference is on May 4th & 5th. Click HERE for more information and to register.

Also... Rafflecopter is having their big LAUNCH and they are doing a giveaway (of course.) The odds might not be in our favor, but I'm still going to shoot for it! You can win an iPad2 OR a Kindle Fire. Talk about awesome, right? They even made it so we can embed the image on our blogs, so you don't have to go anywhere to enter. You can enter below! Good luck! And see you on Monday! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Award Pass-Along!

Hello Friends!
I have been overwhelmed by your love and support with awards lately! It is seriously awesome and I wanted to take a moment to pass them along! First... I want to thank Mark Koopmans and Tara Tyler for giving me the "Great Comments Award!"  You guys are awesome! Thank you so much!

I have also been awarded the Versatile Blogger Award, and would like to thank Samantha, Rod Tyson, Angie Cothran, Sara Bulla & Kelley Gerschke for awarding me with this! You guys ROCK! Thank you so much! And Kelley also gave me the Kreative Blogger Award! Thanks again Kelley!

The rules for these are: Now the rules for getting and passing these awards on are quite similar. For the Kreativ one I'm supposed to share ten things about myself and pass it on to six bloggers.

For the Versatile one I'm supposed to share seven things about myself and pass it on to fifteen bloggers.

I am going to pull a "Kelley" and mix it up a little bit.

About me:
  1. I hate the cold. Really truly hate it. Fall is the perfect season.
  2. I love being a "soccer mom." SOCCER RULES!
  3. Patience is not a virtue that I possess.
  4. I HATE to run. I am so jealous of people who are runners. If there isn't a soccer ball or basketball in front of me, I just can't do it. 
  5. That being said... "I want to be a runner!" I've got to figure out how to get myself started.
  6. Ever since I got married and had kids, I haven't been able to watch scary movies. I love scary stuff, but I can't watch them anymore. One scary movie I really want to see is "Paranormal." I probably never will. I'm a wimp.
  7. I used to be able to draw! Seriously... I wasn't that bad. Now I wish I would have practiced more. My attempts at artwork are pathetic.
  8. Starbucks is my nemesis. I love that place.
  9. I am a serious insomniac! It's terrible. I am the type of person who "needs their sleep" so I usually have to take something to help me sleep at night. It's pathetic. I've tried holistic stuff too. Sometimes it works, sometimes I need something stronger. *sigh* It's a curse!
NOW... I've already passed on the Great Commenter Award HERE... so I will pass on the other two. If I list your name, help yourself to an award or two! You guys are awesome and I want to share the love! I'm going to try to pass it on to some people I haven't sent awards to yet, so here it goes:

Michael Offutt
Maggie Fechner
Hope Roberson
Jenny Sulpizio
Kristin Przybyla
Iain
Samantha
J.A. Bennett
Cortney Pearson
Trevor Green
Twenty Something Fiction Writer
Krista
Prerna Pickett

I wish I could go through and list all of you guys, but that may take me forever, since there are so many amazing bloggers and writers out there. Thanks again to those who passed on these awards to me.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Jessie Humphries... Is She Really a B-Word?

And NO - I'm not talking about that "B-Word!" I'm talking about words like Beautiful, Bubbly & Brilliant! Jessie is all of those things and MORE! She is a truly fantastic blogging buddy and I feel very lucky to have gotten to know her better. If you haven't been over to her notorious blog... B-WORD, you need to make sure you get over there. She constantly ROCKS! And I am so grateful she came over to share with us today! So, I won't keep you waiting....

Thanks for being here today Jessie! We are so excited to hear from you!

1. Hi Jessie! So... in 30 words or less, tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a full-time mother, a part-time attorney, a manic writer, and a total B-Word. Or so I have been told.
2. Now tell us a little about your current WIP! (Which sounds SO awesome, BTW!)

My current WIP is a contemporary YA thriller. I got the idea for this book last year at the 2011 Storymakers Conference, when agent Sara Crowe was talking about what she was looking for in the YA market. At the time I was revising a paranormal romance set in France, and I dropped it like a hot baguette. Here's the hook for the new one: 

Seventeen-year-old Ruby Rose has killer looks, killer SAT scores, and even killer taste in shoes, but only her victims know how killer she really is. Not that child rapists and murderers deserve to be called "victims."

3. And... I was lucky enough to get to look at your query - so, when do you plan to take the plunge into QueryLand? (And don't you wish QueryLand was more like Disneyland? I do!)

In some ways QueryLand is a lot like DisneyLand--if you consider the two hour waits for one stinking ride! Anyway, I hope to start querying in a few months. Maybe in March or April. Yet, I am trying to glean some of my critique partner's patience and wait until the thing is shining like a baby's butt! Where did that saying come from by the way? My baby's butt is anything but shiny! 
4. What is one thing you think is important for all writers to know?

I may be a broken record with this one, but perseverance is something all writers need to learn. I remember reading Stephenie Meyers story to publication a few years back and thinking my experience could be similar. You know, first book, instance success. I now understand that I am in it for the long haul, and that is okay. I attend conferences, read writing books, devour the genre I write in looking for things the authors did so well, and I write everyday. I'll get there one day.

Now, lets throw in a few chocolate chip questions for some morsels of fun! 
5. If you had could make a trip in a time machine would you go to the past or the future, and why?

I would go to the past for sure. I would be like Biff from Back to the Future and take a sports almanac with me and own the Las Vegas casinos! Just kidding. But seriously I would. 
6. If you could be one literary character, who would it be? (I think I would be the MC in your book!)

I am not sure I would choose any of them. Think about it--we put our characters through every kind of hell imaginable. Katniss from Hunger Games had to kill other children. Harry Potter was an orphan tormented his whole life by a dark wizard. Juliette from my new favorite book Shatter Me, turned into a psychotic mental patient because her touch kills. But if you put a gun to my head and made me choose, I would go with Eleanor from Sense & Sensibility. I always admired her long-suffering and dignity. Her quiet strength through years of disappointment has always been a source of inspiration for me. She waited for her Edward!

7. And finally ... share one of your favorite thoughts or quotes..
My favorite quote is from Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince in English) by Antoine de Saint Exupéry.  "Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." I lived in France ten years ago, and so I am fascinated with all things French--from the language to the stinky cheeses. This quote doesn't translate perfectly into English, but the meaning is universal. I think we should always be guided by our hearts. In writing, in working, in living. 

Isn't she fabulous? I totally wish I could visit France. And good luck with your querying when it starts. I'm sure your MS will be polished and shiny! Thanks again for sharing with us today!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Guess Who Won --- & OTHER Great Stuff!

Happy Monday Everyone!
First... hop over to Emily's blog where I am being interviewed for her "Blogging Mentor Mondays!" How cool is that? I love her Monday features, and I'm excited to be a part of it!

Also... remember when I had my "On The Move" Giveaway, over HERE? Well, it is officially time to announce the winners....

Coleen Patrick wins a 5 Page Critique!
and

Sarah Barnett wins a $10 Amazon Gift Card!

A special thanks to ALL of you for participating and finding me on my new blog! I really appreciate it.

And... in case you haven't noticed... I got a new header! Yep - Janice Foy has been working especially hard on it for me. She is amazing and I absolutely love it! You can visit her blog to find our all the amazing things she can do for your blog by going HERE. Or, visit her writing blog HERE.
She is on a blog design break until March though. She is doing a writing class right now and has her hands full, but that will give you time to decide on what you want your blog to look like! She can do it all!

Now... if you haven't been to Emily's hop over and say "hello!"

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Writiing & Golf!

Howdy Peeps!
I made another tough decision in my writing career yesterday. I sent an email to my PB crit group to let them know I was dropping out. *sigh* I've never had to do anything so hard. They are an amazing group of women and they do such great work. However - I feel like I need to buckle in and focus on my YA novel right now. My brain is in YA Fantasy gear and it doesn't want to switch over to PB mode at my bidding. I am lucky to have their support as I go after my goals for this year, but it is still hard to withdraw from that group.

Trying to write my picture books while doing my YA, is kind of like trying to play a round of golf after playing baseball all day (or vice-versa.) Seriously... have you ever tried to go play golf after playing a bunch of baseball? Your swing is totally off! And it takes some work and adjusting to get your swing back. In fact, I know a lot of people who won't play both (at least competitively) because one will throw off the other. I don't plan to do that. I definitely want to continue to work on picture books, but right now I'm going to give them a break and finish my YA. This first draft desperately needs to get done so I can start to polish it up!

Also... I don't know how many of you entered the 1100 Follower Giveaway at Book Sake, but I did! They had so many wonderful books for prizes and I won one of the book sets! Yep! It's an autographed set by Julie Anne Peters! She writes YA Fiction and I can't wait to dive into this pile. I was having a rough day yesterday with quite the migraine going on, so finding these in the mail totally made my day! Check out what I got...
Pop on over to Goodreads and get these on your TBR list! I will be sure to give reviews after I get them read.

Don't you love it when you find a new book in your mailbox after a long, hard day? I do! What are you currently reading?

Photobucket

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The World Is a Stage.... with Kelly Gerschke

I have a special visitor for you today! Kelley is one of my crit partners and SHE.IS.FABULOUS! Seriously, I canNOT give her enough praise. I just had to get her over here for a guest post, so you could all bask in her awesomeness! And... if you can't get enough of her... which I'm sure you can't - then head over to her blog, Between the Bookends and enjoy more of her words of wisdom! Take it away Kelley!

Thank you so much for having me Leigh!! This is my first guest post EVER so everyone can feel free to leave their honest opinions.

The World is a Stage – Plot Development

I think I’ve always been an actor…in my head at least. Frankly I had never stepped foot on a stage until I was a sophomore in high school. I was always the jock and there was never a season I wasn’t on a court, field or diamond.

However, freshman year basketball practice didn’t start until 6:00pm. As I lived 45 minutes away from my high school, I had to do something to pass the time from school dismissal at 2:30pm till practice. So I curled up in the back of the auditorium and watched musical rehearsals.

By sophomore year I thought, ‘this is silly’. I might as well be in the musical if I’m going to watch every rehearsal anyway. So I auditioned. And found a part of me that was missing.

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with plot development since that, in fact, is the title of this post. You are very astute, yes you are. J Well, I shall tell you.

In my three years of high school theater which then led me to take a number of theater courses in college (yes…I did consider double majoring in Theater and Engineering. Didn’t work out though. There aren’t really any classes that overlap for those majors. I would have been in school FOREVER.J) I learned a lot about human interaction. Cause and effect. What do you want? Why are you asking? How do we get from here to there?

When we create plot, create action there has to be a reason for it. It can’t just happen. Our readers are too smart for that. As writers we have to think about where we want to go in the paragraph, scene, chapter and consider what cause would force our characters to react the way we need them to.

I distinctly remember a play my junior year in high school. I was a teacher and the script told me I was mad at my student when the scene opened. A few lines in my director stopped the scene and asked me why I was mad. Well…because the script says I am, I responded, knowing that was the WRONG answer. Even though the script didn’t clue me in, in order to ‘sell’ the scene, the action, the conflict, I had to have a reason in my head why I was mad.

In order to create a convincing plot, action and conflict that grab at our readers and won’t let go, we have to make sure everything the characters do feels authentic.

When we’re plotting we know we want to get our story from point A to point B. There are MANY ways we can do this (usually). To create the most authentic plot we must try all these ways out on our character(s) and make sure their reaction is what will get us there.

Now, when I say ‘try all the ways out’ I don’t mean write them all down. Think about them. If you forced this certain criteria on your character, how would they react?

Let’s say we’re writing a story about a boy wizard who’s scarred with a mark from the most feared wizard in the world. (Don’t you dare say the feared wizard’s name ;))

We must first give the exposition, the information needed to understand the story. This comes with learning about our wizard’s history, how he interacts with others, his knowledge and lack-there-of, the rules of our MC’s world. If the readers don’t fully understand the exposition they won’t understand the causes which then lead to the effects.

Then we give the complication, the catalyst that begins the major conflict for our story. If the exposition isn’t laid out clearly, if the reader doesn’t believe the characters actions are authentic, that they in fact are just going along with the motions because the story has to go this way, the tale will fall flat. If the boy wizard wasn’t a good kid, if he didn’t suspect his Potions teacher, if he didn’t fear for the lives of his friends and enjoy the new life he had just come to live in, we wouldn’t be totally engrossed in the climax of the story and wouldn’t believe he would risk his life to make sure the shiny stone stayed out of the bad guy’s hands.

The climax is the big guy, where our characters try to resolve the conflict. This is where we cry, laugh, cheer for our characters because we believe in what they did. We believe in them.

Lastly, the resolution lets the story float to a close. Usually our characters are slightly different than they were at the beginning of the tale. If they were to start the same journey over as the ‘new’ character, they would probably do things differently and as such we would have a completely different story.

And that’s the scary part about plot development. As we learn more about our characters and about the world they live in, we might realize they wouldn’t choose a direction we had them going in, which could in turn change much of the story.

That’s why when I write I always revert back to my ‘theater training’. After EVERY action and reaction I ask myself if it’s authentic. Would the audience/reader believe it?

And remember, conflict is usually the most exciting to write, especially that climax. But it will be more fun and more rewarding if you’ve got the exposition and the characters locked down.

It will be as if you’re acting it all out on a stage. (Without the stage fright.)

See ---- I told you she was awesome! Now, I added in a couple interview questions just so we can get to know her even better. Check it out...

1. In 40 words or less, tell us something about you that we don't already know.

I haven’t taken an English or Writing course since my senior year in High School and I’ve NEVER had to diagram a sentence. (Not doing a good job of selling my critiquing skills, am I? J)


2. What genre do you write, and tell us a little about your current WIP... don't forget to mention the awesome request you got from posting your 250 words & query! Holla!

Oh man…you’re making me blush…

I write Young Adult. I’ve dabbled in YA Dystopian, Contemporary, Thriller and Fantasy. I think my strength lies in the YA Dystopian/Fantasy realm. My current WIP is a YA Fantasy called FRACTION OF STONE and yes, it did just win ‘An Agent’s Inbox’ contest over at Mother. Write. (Repeat.). Which means it’s in the mystery agent’s inbox right now. (I think my refresh button is broken waiting for a response…haha.)

FRACTION OF STONE is about Rydan and Akara. They are the only two left in the world who can wield magic and the story opens with their nations at war with each other. Akara’s side loses and she is sentenced to death. Rydan’s okay with that until he finds out she has the same mysterious mark as he, tattooed on the back of her neck. They come to find that the mark is that of an extinguished tribe and the tribe was in fact destroyed by the very two nations who raised them. But sifting through the muck of who they are is the easy part. The journey really begins when they decide to shoulder the responsibility of their departed ancestors.

And to know what their ancestors were responsible for, you will have to read the book which will hopefully be in print someday J.

3. If you could be any literary character, who would you be? And why?
 
Whoa…hmm…can I ask the audience on this one? Haha. I think I’d like to be Tris from the book DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth. She’s forced to make tough decisions but does them for all the right reasons. She doesn’t have any magical powers, just determination, courage and humility. Though, the next books in the series haven’t come out yet so I wonder what happens to me…


4. If you were a soda pop - which one would you be?

Well I drink diet soda. But I’m not sure I would want to drink myself…that might be kind of weird. I think I would have to go with Sprecher’s Orange Dream. I waitressed for five years and after the place closed for the night the staff would gather in the bar and drink for a bit. I wasn’t 21 for some of the years I was there so while they all had their booze, I had my Sprecher’s Orange Dream. I guess I associate the beverage with being done with work so that’s the one I’d like to be. J

Thank you again for this opportunity! I had SO much fun!

Thank YOU for being here today! It has been an honor to have you! I appreciate all the advice and I love the answers to your interview questions. Especially your reasoning behind the soft drink. It's so perfect! Now everyone show Kelley some love!

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Monday, January 9, 2012

City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare

So... it seems like for.ev.er ago I won CITY OF FALLEN ANGELS from Cristina. (Pretty sure it was Cristina - wouldn't surprise me if I'm wrong.) Anyway... the point is that I won it! And I've been DYING to read it, but how could I start with that book? Obviously I couldn't. So, while in B&N I picked up CITY OF BONES (first one in the Mortal Instruments Series.) I could only pick up the first one, in case I hated them. Did I hate them???
Heck NO!
I LOVED THAT BOOK! LOVED IT! So now I am going to buy the rest, finish the series and eventually start on the CLOCKWORK PRINCE!

I love it when an author can surprise me with something that I never saw coming. That is a total PLUS in my book! +++ And Clare does that! I really can't wait to move through this series.

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:
When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder -- much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing -- not even a smear of blood -- to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . .

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare's ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

CASSANDRA CLARE WEBSITE
FIND IT ON AMAZON
FIND IT ON GOODREADS

Also, you will be happy to know that CITY OF LOST SOULS comes out May 8, 2012! *happy dance*

Have you read the Mortal Instrument Series? Did you enjoy it as much as I am enjoying it so far?

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