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1. Monday Mishmash 5/30/16


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Memorial Day  Take time today to remember what the holiday is really about. 
  2. Book Signing At Blairstown Elementary  Last Monday I signed close to 100 books at Blairstown Elementary School. It was such a great day. This school has been so incredibly supportive, reading all of my picture books and my MG, Curse of the Granville Fortune, so I donated a copy of Mystery of Majestic Cave to the library so the student could continue reading the series.
  3. Editing  I'm finishing up one client edit and getting ready for the next this week.
  4. Revising  I've been working through my latest Ashelyn Drake NA contemporary romance. So far I've been pleasantly surprised by the first draft. It's not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I swear when I draft I go through periods where I think I'm writing nothing usable, but then I revise and surprise myself.
  5. End of the School Year  My daughter has a half day on Tuesday and then she's off for the summer. I can't believe another school year is finished.
  6. Visions of Mockingbird Point  True Poison, my cover designer for the Curse of the Granville Fortune series, sent me the draft of the cover for book three. As usual, it blew me away. Can't wait until it's finalized so I can share it with you all.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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2. Writing with All the Feelings by Liz Garton Scanlon

Author Liz Garton Scanlon implores us to let "you be you" in today's Author Spotlight post.

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3. Writer Wednesday: Protecting Yourself as an Author

Over the past several months, this industry has seen many publishers go south. I'm referring to them closing for various reasons and/or getting exposed for not paying their authors. First, let's be clear that I'm not going to name any publishers or speak ill of any either. The intent of this post is to simply inform authors and help them in seeking a publisher for their work.

One question that seems to pop up a lot in writer forums is how to know if you're signing with a "good" publisher. To be honest, sometimes you can sign with a great publisher and then that publisher is bought out, which changes everything. Other times you sign with a publisher that has good intentions but winds up going under. And other times still, things look great on the surface but there's another world happening behind the scenes and it's not good in the least. 

So what's an author to do? The best advice I can give you is to find out which authors are with the publisher you're interested in and then contact those authors to hear what their experiences have been like. I have people do this with me all the time, and I'm very honest about my experiences, both good and bad (and yes, there have been bad ones). Also, if you notice an author has left that publisher, find out why. Keep in mind that nondisclosure agreements might keep some authors from dishing the gory details, but that should also send up a red flag. Nondisclosure agreements are set in place for a reason. As a writer, you should question that reason.

Please, research and contact authors to find out what's really going on outside of the public eye. Protect yourself and your work.  


*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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4. Monday Mishmash 5/23/16


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Book Signing at Blairstown Elementary  I'm returning to Blairstown Elementary today. You may remember I had a school visit there in March. Well, the students had the opportunity to order my books and I'm returning today to sign them. I was amazed at how many ordered books. I'm doing hand exercises to get ready for all the signing. ;) 
  2. Drafting  Drafting at half my usual pace is going well. It's hard for me to not fully jump in and let the manuscript consume me, but I'm forcing myself to only write half the day to keep balance between editing and drafting. So far so good. Or so I keep telling myself.
  3. Editing  I'm managing to stay on pace with edits even though I'm cutting my day's in half. The key is I'm staying sane and healthy. No stress. I'm calling it a win.
  4. Summer Schedule  This is my daughter's last full week of school, which means my summer schedule will be in full effect beginning June 1. My work hours will be early mornings and late evenings so I can spend the bulk of my day being Mom (my favorite job of all).
  5. Visions of Mockingbird Point  I should be getting edits back on the third book in the Curse of the Granville Fortune series in early June. This is the final installment and while I'm sad to see the characters go, I'm happy with how the series ends. Expect the book sometime in July.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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5. Writer Wednesday: Two Become One


In my Monday Mishmash and all over social media last week, I announced that I'm merging Ashelyn Drake and Kelly Hashway. Why you ask?

When I initially launched the pen name, Ashelyn Drake, I wanted to make sure I could stand on my own two feet as a romance author, separate from Kelly Hashway. Once I did that, I revealed Ashelyn Drake and Kelly Hashway are the same person. And since then, I've been using this banner to show that I'm still one person even though I write under two names: 


The problem is, I wasn't acting like one person. I have separate Facebook pages, Twitter handles, and blogs for Kelly and Ashelyn. Why? My website, newsletter, and Instagram are for both names, so why aren't my other social media accounts?

From now on, they will be. I'm moving Ashelyn over to Kelly. You'll notice my Facebook page now has both names listed. As does my blog. Twitter won't allow enough characters to display both names, but you'll see this banner and Ashelyn's name appear in my bio.

Very soon, Ashelyn's accounts will disappear, so make sure you're following the new links below to stay up to date on my Ashelyn Drake romance books as well as my Kelly paranormal and upcoming mystery/suspense/thrillers (Yes, I'm branching out!):

Facebook
Twitter
Blog
Google+

Look at that. Kelly and Ashelyn are truly merging into one author with two names, just like the slogan says. :)


*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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6. Monday Mishmash 5/16/16


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Ashelyn Drake is merging with Kelly Hashway  Last week I made the decision to fully merge my Ashelyn Drake accounts with my Kelly accounts. That means pretty soon the Ashelyn FB, Twitter, and blog will all be deleted. My Kelly accounts will be for both names now. If you follow Ashelyn, make sure to follow the Kelly accounts to stay updated on Ashelyn's work. Connect with me on Facebook and Twitter. (You already know this blog, and might have noticed it has both names on it now.)
  2. Drafting  I'm working on an Ashelyn Drake contemporary romance right now. I'm going to call this adult, but the characters are in their mid-twenties so it's teetering the line of NA/Adult.
  3. Balance  I'm really proud of myself because I've been balancing my days with editing in the mornings and writing in the afternoons. I'm so much happier! Balance is good, guys. :)
  4. Field Trip  I'm chaperoning my daughter's field trip to the Adventure Aquarium tomorrow. I'm dreading the two and a half hour bus ride (each way!!!) but I love aquariums.
  5. Cover reveal for MORE by Keren Hughes Check out this gorgeous cover for Keren's July 19th release, More. I love it.
Drake Anderson is all the man Annalise Duncan ever wanted…

Annalise has it all. The perfect husband. The perfect son. The perfect life. After the father of her son Ayden abandoned her to be a single parent, she finally felt like she hit the romance jackpot. Her boss, Drake Anderson, turned out to be more than just a friend. He’s the love of her life, and an amazing stepfather to her son.

But the picture perfect marriage is merely an illusion…

After seven wonderful years, Drake leaves. He doesn’t give her a reason, or even the courtesy of a return phone call. Six months go by without even a single acknowledgement. Annalise is devastated. Her heart and soul belonged to Drake, and he was the only father Ayden ever knew. She’d dedicated her life to him and the family they built together, and she isn’t willing to let that dream go easily.

When Annalise spots Drake out at a café with a woman, her heart shatters all over again. But it’s not what Annalise thinks. He isn’t cheating on her. There are things about leaving that Drake just can’t or won’t explain. Some things should remain a secret. 

He wants his old life back, but Annalise won’t accept anything but the truth…

Drake has to find a way to convince his wife, his Cariad, to take him back, but it may mean facing a truth he wanted to keep hidden. He must prove to Annalise that despite his past, he wants her…

More.
Add it on Goodreads.

That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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7. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e May 13th, 2016

                                   

Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:

Royalty Clauses in Publishing Deals (Susan Spann)
http://writersinthestormblog.com/2016/05/royalty-clauses-in-publishing-deals-how-how-much-authors-get-paid/

How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome as a Writer (Margaret Dilloway)
www.writerunboxed.com/2016/05/13/how-to-overcome-imposter-syndrome-as-a-writer/

How Important Is Talent to You as a Writer? (Jerry Jenkins)
www.jerryjenkins.com/important-talent-writer/

Don’t Accidentally Give Your Characters a Time Out (Lisa Cron)
www.writerunboxed.com/2016/05/12/dont-accidentally-give-your-characters-a-time-out/

The Option Clause (Contracts/Dealbreakers) (Kristine Kathryn Rusch)
www.kriswrites.com/2016/05/11/business-musings-long-term-thinking-the-option-clause-contractsdealbreakers/

How to Avoid Self-Publishing Regrets (Alicia Rades)
www.thewritelife.com/avoid-self-publishing-regrets/

Building Your Professional Author Website (Jane Friedman)
https://janefriedman.com/wordpress-vs-squarespace/

Lean in to Your Fears (Rachelle Gardner)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/lean-in-to-your-fears/

Writing When It’s Not Like a Movie (Jo Eberhardt)
www.writerunboxed.com/2016/05/07/writing-when-its-not-like-a-movie/


If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2015, and last week’s list.


If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

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8. Interview: Kimberly Reid, author of PERFECT LIARS

kimberly reidSometimes to save the day, a good girl’s gotta be bad.

White Collar meets Oceans 11 in our new YA novel, Perfect Liars. We interviewed author Kimberly Reid on how to craft the perfect heist novel, her writing tips, and breaking stereotypes.

Why was it important to you to depict an interracial relationship in your story?

In the real world, interracial relationships exist. I’ve been in one with my Korean husband since college. Teen readers may not think this is a big deal, but when we met in the late 1980s, long before K-pop, K-dramas, and Korean fusion food trucks made the culture more accessible to Americans, it was kind of a big deal. Back then, as Koreans immigrated and settled into traditionally black neighborhoods of large cities, relations between our communities were tense. I wasn’t quite as young as the characters in Perfect Liars, but I remember what it was like to be young and in a relationship for which I had no model, one that was seen as “exotic” at best and flat-out wrong at worst. The world has shifted a lot in thirty years, and kids have more models now but it’s still important to me that my books reflect the real world. And unfortunately, we’re often reminded how little shift there has been. Just last week, people lost their minds over an interracial Old Navy ad.

What research did you do to create a convincing heist novel?

That aspect of the book probably took the least research since the heist isn’t a huge player in the story, though I had to do a lot of Googling on the high-end antiques business. I didn’t want the target of the thieves to be the usual things—money, jewelry, art—though that’s in there, too. So I decided to go with fine antiques. The legal aspects took up most of my research time. Luckily, I come from a law enforcement family so it was fairly easy to ask any question that popped into my head. When I was writing the book, my much younger sister had recently passed the bar exam and she’d also been an English major in undergrad, so she was the perfect person to help. The law was really fresh for her, and she didn’t get bored with all my writerly talk of plot and motivation.

Who are your favorite heist writers? What are some of your favorite heist movies or shows? pull quote 1

I don’t really have a favorite heist writer, but I have watched many heist movies, like The Italian Job and Ocean’s Eleven (the original and the newer versions), Rififi, The Score, and Inside Man. But it was actually a TV show called Leverage that gave me part of the inspiration for Perfect Liars. The main premise came from an alternative school in my town that is run by a juvie court judge and was once housed in our city’s justice center, along with courtrooms and the sheriff’s office. But I needed to turn that into a story and decided to have former juvie kids use their criminal skills for good. In Leverage, a band of criminals, led by a former investigator, use their various talents to help people in need.

How is writing fiction different than writing a memoir (No Place Safe)?

The biggest difference is telling the truth versus making stuff up. With fiction, you can make the story go the way you want. Writing memoir is all about the truth and sometimes the truth hurts. No Place Safe is the story of growing up during the two-year-long Atlanta Missing and Murdered Children investigation, on which my mother was a lead investigator. I was thirteen when the murders began, and I wrote the story from my thirteen-year-old’s perspective, but with the insight of an adult looking back on that time. It was my first published book, and writing it helped me figure out what I wanted to do from that point on. I like writing from a teen point of view (but I find it more difficult than writing for adults!). Though I write crime fiction, I prefer using humor in my stories rather than a darker voice. Most importantly, I’d much rather invent stories than tell the truth.

What advice would you give to writers that want to write heist novels?

In a heist novel, the entire book is about the planning and execution of a heist, and then how the characters deal with the fallout. There is some of that in Perfect Liars, but it isn’t really a heist novel. Publishers Weekly calls it “a socially conscious crime thriller” and I like that description. The heist more or less sets up the story; it isn’t the story. If I had to give it a subgenre, it’s probably more con artist than heist. But I’d give the same advice I’d give a writer of any genre: do your research. I do lots of research and still miss something every time. And your readers will call you on it every time. I can be a little Type A and used to think, “Oh, no! How did I miss that?” Now, I realize I can’t change the book once it is out in the world, so I view it as, “I have some really smart and observant readers. They’ll keep me on my toes as I research the next book.”

A few months ago, LEE & LOW released the Diversity Baseline Survey, which revealed that a significant percentage of publishing staff is comprised of white women. Were you shocked by these numbers? What is a way publishing might be able to improve these numbers?

pull quote 2I’ve been black all my life, and a traditionally published writer for nearly a decade, so no, I wasn’t surprised. More surprising—and heartening—was the response to the survey from the participants. I was glad to see Big Five publishers participate. As sad as the numbers are, I think being truthful about them and willing to contribute honest data is a good start. As far as improving the numbers, I think decision-makers need to make an aggressive effort to recruit diverse employees. I don’t mean run job ads on sites focused on minorities or maybe participate in diversity job fairs for new college grads. I mean start early, show marginalized high school students the possibility of publishing as a career through education and internships. The science disciplines are doing this through STEM program education and recruitment as early as middle school. Another suggestion is to let go of the idea that everyone must work in Manhattan, which puts a publishing career out of economic reach for most. The film industry has figured that out. While Hollywood may always be the headquarters, lots of movies are being made in studios in lower cost cities like Atlanta and Vancouver, and using local production talent. Maybe have self-contained imprints, from acquisitions to sales reps, as field offices. I think this would also help publishing become less New York-centric and keep publishers in closer touch with what’s going on in the rest of the country in terms of demographics, cultural trends, and social movements. And to loop back to my first suggestion, publishing needs more decision-makers from marginalized backgrounds. It’s hard to acknowledge there’s a problem when you’ve never experienced the problem, and you can’t fix what you don’t perceive as broken, or at least, fully understand how broken the thing is.

Many of the juvenile delinquents that Drea works with challenge her assumptions about what they are truly like. Why is it important to challenge Drea’s (and the reader’s) assumptions about these characters?

I won’t lie—I can be judgey. A big part of being a writer is watching the world and trying to understand people, and hopefully, attempting to empathize with some of what we see. It’s hard to do that if you aren’t willing to see there’s more than one perspective. So I brought a lot of that to Drea’s character. I also wanted to show that we are not monolithic. Of the relatively few books that are published with brown or black leads, the odds favor us being depicted as broke, oppressed, undereducated, and in need of salvation. Drea is the opposite of these things despite being a racial minority. And also despite that, she views the world from a place of privilege. Part of her evolution is seeing that she has obtained her privilege in a questionable way, and also that, when it comes down to it, some people will always see her the way they want, no matter her money, class, or education. She learns this by seeing how others like her are treated and eventually realizes she has the means to help correct some of that.

The push for more diverse books has increased in the past two years. What do you hope to see from forthcoming books?

I’d like to see more fun books with racially marginalized characters. While these things are huge aspects of our past and, unfortunately, what still lies ahead, we aren’t always trying to throw off the yoke of oppression, dealing with the legacy of slavery or the marginalization that comes with being immigrants. Books from white writers with white leads don’t carry this burden. They can be fun for entertainment’s sake, and that’s just fine. Historically, publishing hasn’t given the same freedom to writers of color. We have had to come with the deep and profound, or not come at all. Kids of color should have a variety to choose from, should be able to walk into a library or store and pick the thing they’re dying to read, not the thing an adult (publishers, teachers, librarians, parents) has deemed they should read because of what they look like or where they came from. That choice can include a history of their people, but let them also have a fun mystery, an interracial romance, a fantasy in which a kid who looks like them is the slayer of dragons. Every young reader deserves that.

What’s one of your favorite sentences, either from your own writing or from someone else’s?

Can I give a few? I love this description of a season’s change from Toni Morrison’s Sula:

“Then summer came. A summer limp with the weight of blossomed things. Heavy sunflowers weeping over fences; iris curling and browning at the edges far away from their purple hearts; ears of corn letting their auburn hair wind down to their stalks. And the boys. The beautiful, beautiful boys who dotted the landscape like jewels, split the air with their shouts in the field, and thickened the river with their shining wet backs. Even their footsteps left a smell of smoke behind.”

I bow to Ms. Morrison.

If you were putting together your own team to pull off a heist, who would be on it and why?

I’d need a computer genius. I once worked in the tech world—which is increasingly becoming the world—and computer geeks make it go round. I’d want a great con artists or two because I wouldn’t want to use brute force. If I’m going to be a criminal, I’d rather manipulate people into giving me what I want rather than physically hurting them into doing it. They’re both bad, but for some reason, the con seems less bad than the violence. Certainly I’d want someone who could break into anything, probably two thieves—one high tech, one old school because you never know if you’re going to run into an antique safe or something. Those would be the minimal requirements. Nice-to-have additions would be a chemist, physicist, and an engineer. They are like the MacGyvers of the world. Between them, when all else fails, they could probably figure a way out of any jam.

Perfect Liars releases next week!

perfect liars cover

0 Comments on Interview: Kimberly Reid, author of PERFECT LIARS as of 5/13/2016 10:32:00 AM
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9. Do you know of any writing groups in New Jersey?

      fawg_icon_for_blog    NJ Writing groups - compressed

I'm always looking to add some more New Jersey writing groups.

Scroll down for a list of the New Jersey Writing groups I currently have on file, with links to websites where available.

GROUPS WITH MEETINGS IN TWO OR MORE COUNTIES
WOMEN WHO WRITE (open to ladies only)
Various groups (see their groups link for full details)

THE NEW JERSEY SOCIETY OF CHRISTIAN WRITERS
Various Groups in Burlington, Camden and Salem Counties (see website for details)
Contact: Dr. MaryAnn Diorio: drmaryann@njscw.org

THE SCIENCE FICTION SOCIETY OF NORTHERN NEW JERSEY
Various meetings (see Meetup page for more details)

WRITING GROUPS BY COUNTY

BERGEN COUNTY
Bergen County Poets and Fictionaires
Where? See Meetup page
When? See Meetup page
Contact: See Meetup page

Mahwah Writer's Collective
Where? 100 Ridge Road Mahwah, NJ 07430
When? Tuesdays: 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Contact: Mahwah Library (201) 529 2183

Science Fiction Association of Bergen County
Where? Bergen Highlands United Methodist Church,316 West Saddle River Road, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
When? 2nd Saturday of the month (see www.sfabc.org for more info)
Contact: sfabc@gmail.com

BURLINGTON COUNTY
Juliette Writer's Group
Where? Barnes & Noble, Eastgate Square, 1311 Nixon Drive, Moorestown, NJ 08057
When? Every third Thursday, 7:30pm
Contact: Run by Dawn Byrne. Call store for details: (856) 608 1622

CAMDEN COUNTY
Writing Group
Where?
Barnes & Noble, Towne Place, 911 Haddonfield Rd, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002
When? Every second Tuesday, 7:30pm
Contact: Run by Susan Pitcher. Call store for details: (856) 486 1492

Garden State Writers
Where? South County Regional Branch Library, 35 Cooper Folly Road, Atco, NJ 08004
When? 3rd Tuesday of each month, 7pm-9pm
Contact: See website

ESSEX COUNTY
Montclair Editors and Writers
Where? See Meetup page
When? See Meetup page
Contact: See Meetup page

HUNTERDON COUNTY

MERCER COUNTY
Princeton Writing Group
Where? Various Meet-ups (see the group's webpage for details)
Contact: See website

MIDDLESEX COUNTY
New Jersey Romance Writers
Where? Mercer County Public Library, Hopewell Branch, 245 Pennington-Titusville Road, Pennington, NJ 08534
When? 4th Tuesday of each month, 6 - 8:30pm
Contact: See website

The Garden State Speculative FictionWriters (GSSW)
Where? Old Bridge Public Library,1 Old Bridge Plaza, Municipal Center,Old Bridge, NJ 08857
When? First Saturday of each month - see website for details
Contact: See website

Liberty States Fiction Writers
Where? Edison Library, 340 Plainfield Avenue, Edison, New Jersey 08817
When? 2nd Saturday of the month 10-10:30am (business) 10:45-11:45am (workshop) Noon-1:15 (roundtable sessions)
Contact: See website

The Princeton Writing Group
Where? See Meetup page
When? See Meetup page
Contact: See Meetup page

The Woodbridge Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers
Where? See Meetup page
When? See Meetup page
Contact: See Meetup page


MONMOUTH COUNTY
Writing Group
Where?
ASBURY PARK Public Library, Children's Room500 First Ave - Asbury Park, NJ
When? 3rd WEDNESDAY of Each Month (5.30-7.30pm)
Contact: Neville - njansii_nj@yahoo.com

Writing Group
Where?
Barnes & Noble, Lanes Mill Marketplace, 4831 US Hwy 9, Howell, NJ 07731
When? 3rd Thursday of every month
Contact store for more info: (732) 730-2838

BelmarArts Creative Writing Group
Where? The Boatworks, 608 River Road, Belmar, NJ 07719
When? 4th Thursday, 7pm - 9pm
Contact: See website

Monmouth Creative Writing Group
Where? Monmouth County Library (HQ), 125 Symmes Drive, Manalapan, NJ 07726
When? 3rd Thursday of the month (7pm)
Contact: ?

Monmouth Writers
Where? Howell Library, Howell Library, 318 Old Tavern Road, Howell, NJ 07731
When? 2nd Saturday of each month
Contact: Rick Kelsten See website

Writing Group
Where?
NEPTUNE Public Library, Meeting Rm #225 Neptune Blvd - Neptune, NJ
When? 2nd Saturday of each month (1pm - 3pm) (NB: Please check library's calendar before turning up.)
Contact: - (732) 775-8241

The Noble Writers
Where? Middletown Library, 55 New Monmouth Road, Middletown, NJ 07748
When? Wednesdays ((10am - 11:30am) (NB: Please check library's calendar before turning up.)
Contact: TBA

Writing Critique group
Where? Middletown Library, 55 New Monmouth Road, Middletown, NJ 07748
When? Wednesdays (7pm) (NB: Please check library's calendar before turning up.)
Contact: TBA

OCEAN COUNTY
Manchester (NJ) Writers' Circle
Where? Manchester Library, 21Colonial Drive, Manchester, NJ 08759
When? 1st & 3rd Tuesday of the month (2pm-4pm)
Contact: See website

Berkeley Adult Writers' group
Where? OCL (Berkeley Branch), 30 Station Road, Bayville, NJ 08721
When? Last Monday of the month - 6:30pm start
Contact: (Library) 732 269 2144

The Jackson Writers' Group
Where? Jackson branch of the Ocean County Library, 2 Jackson Drive Jackson, NJ 08527
When? See website
Contact: See website

SOMERSET COUNTY
New Jersey Writers' Critique Group
Where? Barnes & Noble (Somerset Shopping Center, 319 Route 202/206, Bridgewater, NJ 08807)
When? First Wednesday of the month, 7pm - check B&N website for latest info
Contact: (B&N) 908 526-7425

New Jersey Writers' Society
Where? Franklin Township Library (Historical Room), 485 Dermott Lane, Somerset, NJ 08873
When? Third Thursday of the month, 7pm - 9pm
Contact: (Library) 732 873 8700

UNION COUNTY
New Providence Writers
Where? Waterlilies Restaurant, 33 Union Place, Summit, NJ (parking free on Sundays)
When? 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month, 2pm.
Contact: Join and RSVP for meetings through Meetup group


Want me to add your group?
If you know of any statewide or local writing groups in New Jersey which aren't listed above, please let me have contact details and/or a website link, if possible. Also, if your group is listed, but I've got the information wrong, please let me know.

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10. Writer Wednesday: How to Annoy An Author


The other day I got a message on one of my social media accounts that began with the words "I don't mean to be rude…" Right away, I knew the message was going to be rude. The guy just told me as much. It was yet another person telling me I should give away paperbacks for free. Not ebooks. Paperbacks.

AHHHHHH!!!! I'm sure you can hear me screaming wherever you are. I REALLY wanted to respond, "I don't mean to be rude, but I think you should send me your paychecks from now on." Because seriously, that's what he's asking me to do for him. What's fair is fair, right?

Here's why this irks me so much: 
  • I give away a lot of free books, both in ebook and paperback formats. I tend to reserve paperbacks for newsletter subscribers because I feel your loyal fans should be rewarded. Giveaway opportunities are definitely there and I pay for the cost of the printed books and the postage, which is insanely high when the winner is international.
  • Whenever I have a new release, I provide interested reviewers with e-ARCs. 
  • I also have a bunch of perma free books that anyone can go ahead and download at no charge. They're all listed on my website.

So telling me I should giveaway paperbacks for free… Yeah, I'm annoyed. In the end, I deleted the message, and should I get another, I'll block the sender. I really think if you have to preface a statement with "I don't mean to be rude" you know full and well that you are absolutely being rude. Plain and simple, writers are entitled to being paid for their hard work just like everyone else. 

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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11. Monday Mishmash 5/9/16


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Mother's Day  I hope all the moms enjoyed their day yesterday. I had a great weekend complete with a shopping day with my daughter while my husband cleaned the entire house. Now that's a great Mother's Day!
  2. Drafting  I'm working on an Ashelyn Drake adult contemporary romance. I wasn't planning to draft right now, but the idea just hit me and I had to write.
  3. Scaling Back  I've been really stressed lately and overworked. I'm making an effort to scale back for the sake of my sanity and health.
  4. PTO Luncheon  This week I'm going to the PTO luncheon at my daughter's school. It's so nice of the teachers to do this for the PTO volunteers.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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12. Bloom (in Frosting): Mixing Magic and Realism, Guest Blogger - Alexandra LaFaye!

 Did you know it takes warmth to make flowers bloom? This month's series is called Bloom. It should make you really toasty! Join me in welcoming the talented author Alexandra LaFaye as she takes over Seize the day! She is about heat up your mind with a huge dose of mixing magic and realism. Writers, get ready to bloom!


Bloom (in Frosting): Mixing Magic and Realism

 credit: Bigstock

Many of the rules of fiction haunt us – like spirits of drafts past or critiques gone wrong—they loom over us chanting, “show don’t tell” and the like, but as a writer and a mentor of writers, I’m not a fan of “the rules.” In fact, I would suggest that rules, grammar, and all of the conscious mind clutter that occupies our thoughts in the editing phase should take a backseat in the creation stage. Writers are often more empowered, creative, and productive if they write from their subconscious and leave all of the rules for the revision, or better yet, the editing phase.

And my topic for today is about getting our readers to move closer to their subconscious and loosen their grip on the rules of reality as they’re reading so that they can buy into a fictional world that resembles their own, but is infused with elements of fantasy—young wizards living under the stairs, angels hidden away in the potting shed, and the like. I’m not talking about magic realism here. That’s a whole other approach to writing that is very culturally grounded and often misunderstood. For more information on magic realism, this article would be a great start: Magic Realism

What I am talking about it reality-based fantasy or stories so well-grounded in reality that a.readers are surprised to discover that the world they’re in contains elements of the fantastic and/or b. the fantastic is convincing enough to allow readers to “buy into” the otherworldly elements being portrayed.

Since I’m generally opposed to rules, I’ll have to say that for every guideline I give you here, you’ll no doubt know of at least half a dozen works that thwart the general rule and that’s the mark of great art—knowing the rules well enough to work around them or defy them all together—creating your own magic as you go. Still, these guidelines may be helpful in giving you a place to start.

And the starting line in reality-based fantasy is “A Voice in the Fog”
On a foggy night at sea a sound in the distance has a magical quality to it simply because we cannot explain it. The change in our environment puts us on edge just a little, piquing our interest, and leading us to question our surroundings—keeping an eye out for anything out of the ordinary.

This “voice in the fog” in a story is the small element that tells us something is not quite normal in the world we’ve just entered.

To illustrate my points, I’m going to use my short story “Testing, Testing 1, 2, 3...” from the anthology Shelf Life edited by Gary Paulsen and filled with great genre-based stories by writers like Gregory Maguire, M.T. Anderson, and Jennifer Holm who are quite good at drawing readers into realistic worlds fused with fantasy and I hope my story holds its own among this talented crowd.

In “Testing,” the main character, Patrick Troy is struggling to pass standardized tests in eighth grade and in jeopardy of not being able to enter high school, so he’s only allowed to leave the house to attend school and keep up his lawn mowing job. His newest client, Mrs. Whitamore, has hired him through the mail.

As he explains, “That may seem odd, but I get a lot of weird stuff in the mail. When I hit second grade, I started getting a blank card each week. I didn't know who sent them. There was never a return address on the envelope. No postmark. Just my name. Each one was a different blind you bright color, but they never had one word on the card inside. Mrs. Whittamore's card was bright too. There was no return address. I even thought it was another blank card, but instead she asked me to mow her lawn for her every Saturday at noon.”

Here, we know something is out of the ordinary, but we’re not sure exactly what it means. This gets our “magic sense” tingling and moves us into the next element of combining fantasy and reality:

The Scully Factor (AKA Plausible Deniability)

When we’re given a fantastic premise, “being hired through the mail” it should be deniable at first or at least explainable. Here, we learn that Patrick has often gotten strange things in the mail. What we learn later is that the lawn mowing request and the cards that came before it are also a test of worth (an early stage of the hero quest plot pattern that appears in most fantastic stories). But when we first encounter them they are a foreshadowing of the magic to come and an undercutting explanation for why he’d get hired through the mail.

To draw readers into the fantasy within the realism of a story like this one, writers must

Incubate Their Dragon Eggs

Besides their size, dragon eggs aren’t that shocking. Why they could simply be housing a fetal emu for all we know. But when the dragon hatches, it’s no longer possible to deny that something fantastic is afoot or awing. And in reality-based fantasy, writers must raise the stakes, increasing the elements of fantasy, decreasing the elements of reality until the fantasy is no longer deniable—it is the new reality of the story.

When Patrick accepts the mail-delivered job offer, he is excited to see into Mrs. Whitamore’s yard because she has nine foot hedges and is suspected of being a witch—no one sees her, she has a hidden yard, and there are odd chimes emanating from her house. When he arrives, the wind opens her screen door and ushers him through the dark house to a backyard with rings of flowers that spin right up to her back porch—all increasingly unusual things that could be explained.

Mrs. Whitamore doesn’t speak, she delivers directions on cards that are, at first look, blank, but as Patrick describes the first one, “As I got up farther, the card seemed to have gray squiggly lines that moved around like curly hair caught in the wind. Standing right in front of her, squinting, the lines darkened and stiffened into letters. I thought I needed to get my eyes checked for new glasses. That happened every spring.

The card read, ‘The butterflies need exercise.’

She smiled, her misty eyes getting all shiny.

Here we get a sense that she may be writing them with her mind or he may have eye sight issues—plausible deniability (the Scully Factor at work), but we also learn that Mrs. Whitamore is a bit more than unusual because she wants him to mow her flowers to give her butterflies exercise.

His payment that first day is a blank book. He finds this odd, especially when his watch tells him the whole job took only five minutes—but he blames the time shift on a broken watch—he often makes them stop on account of his “magnetic personality,” so reality is still in the lead, but when he returns the next week and discovers that the flowers are as tall and in full bloom as they were the week before we know for certain that magic is definitely at play.

And when she tells him that the book she gave him is as blank as the card she’s holding, Patrick realizes that the magic in his life is undeniable and he has a enchanted book that eventually teaches him how to stop time and finish the standardized tests that have dogged him all year long.

In many ways, reality-based fantasy is

Like a Layer Cake with Mythical Frosting

At the base, you have a pretty ordinary plate that may be wrapped in foil, but alone it’s as ordinary as mowing the lawn, then comes the first layer which is mostly cake and homework and standardized tests, and then there’s a layer of mythical frosting where reputed witches can hire you to mow their lawn through the mail, then you mow rings of flowers as a host of butterflies take flight—the decorations on the layer of cake that’s all lawn clippings and tests looming.

Layer by layer, the elements of reality shrink like the layers of the cake and the frosting and decorations—the magic of fantasy—take center stage and we have a kid who can stop time to give himself the room he needs to learn what he wants to know and finish the blooming test. When you look at the story as a whole the glittering magic is what resonates with us, but the emotional satisfaction of a test passed is the cake in our belly.

So, I’ve either shown you how to mix fantasy and reality or simply made you hungry for cake. Either way, I’m so grateful that you joined me on this journey and I want to offer you the opportunity for seconds or at least “cake” decorating tips. AKA What questions do you have for me about blending fantasy and reality?

After all, I have this short story, a novel about a girl who discovers her adoptive parents are shape-shifting seals (Water Steps), a novel-in-verse about an Appalachian girl who can see the future (Pretty Omens), and a book about a girl whose widowed father is confidently waiting for his wife’s return (The Keening).

But don’t just take my word for it. Feel free to explore other approaches to the same fusion of reality and fantasy, here’s a good article from Fantasy Faction to get your started: "Reality Made Fantastic" If you have questions or comments, please share them here. You can also stop by and visit me on my own blog Wordy Wanderings Thank you once again, to you for reading, and to Molly Blaisdell for the opportunity to be a guest on her blog. Have a famtastic—hopefully, cake-filled day!

www.facebook.com/alafayeauthor
www.alafaye.com
a@alafaye.com

Thank you for sharing your genius, Alexandria! This whole post warmed me up. I'm about to bloom. Readers, thank you for dropping by and I hope that you come back next week for more of the bloom series.  

Finally, we already had some doodles, but here is a quote for your pocket:

She told me about rolling hills covered with cornfields and treeless miles of land without water. I dreamt of cornfields dotted with yellow rosebushes A. LaFaye, The Year Of The Sawdust Man

0 Comments on Bloom (in Frosting): Mixing Magic and Realism, Guest Blogger - Alexandra LaFaye! as of 5/7/2016 12:01:00 PM
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13. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e May 6th, 2016

Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last weekabout writing from the last week:

Plumb the Emotional Depth of Your Setting (Kathryn Craft)
www.writerunboxed.com/2016/05/06/plumb-the-emotional-depth-of-your-setting/

How to Improve Written Dialogue in 6 Steps (Maria Vicente)
www.mariavicente.com/post/143837003672/how-to-improve-written-dialogue-in-6-steps

7 Quick Journaling Exercises That Will Improve Your Fiction Writing (Danielle Lincoln Hanna)
www.thewritelife.com/journaling-exercises-improve-fiction-writing/

Tips on Query Letters (Rachelle Gardner)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/tips-on-query-letters/

The 5 Most Common Mistakes I See in Beginners’ Manuscripts (Jerry Jenkins)
www.jerryjenkins.com/5-common-mistakes-see-beginners-manuscripts/

Vulnerability (Mary Kole)
www.kidlit.com/2016/05/02/vulnerability/

Staying Focused Enough to Write (Janice Hardy)
http://blog.janicehardy.com/2016/05/getting-your-novel-to-finish-line.html

Concept vs. Premise (Larry Brooks) [Jon’s Pick of the Week]
https://killzoneblog.com/2016/05/concept-vs-premise-the-inherent-opportunity-in-understanding-the-difference.html

The 5 Biggest Fiction Writing Mistakes (& How to Fix Them) (James Scott Bell)
www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/the-5-biggest-fiction-writing-mistakes-how-to-fix-them

If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2015, and last week’s list.

If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

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14. Making things up: the care and feeding of Plot Bunnies

by Teri Terry
a.k.a. the Bunny Whisperer


Part 4 in Making Things Up: a blog series about the creative process.
The other day I was chatting with one of my fellow bloggers - Addy - and made a comment about Plot Bunnies, when she said....

What is a Plot Bunny?

Just in case any other writers out there aren't in with the Plot Bunnies, here we go!
And if this is all sounding rather daft to the sensible, here is the literary kudos. Although Plot Bunnies have been around since the beginning of time, Steinbeck phrased it rather nicely:
Ideas are like rabbits. You get a few and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen. John Steinbeck



Plot Bunnies inhabit your daydreams, your unconscious, your subconscious, everywhere you're not using logic or conscious thought, and they want attention. One bunny leads to another, and another, and another - and you never know where they might take you. 

They can be distracting, but ignore them at your peril. They are the lifeblood of being a writer.

It can be very tempting when you're deep in the writing cave to ignore your Plot Bunnies. You're a Serious Writer; you have a deadline, whether self-imposed or in a contract. You are focused, committed, and you will write 1000 words or whatever you've set yourself and you will finish chapter X. Serious Writers don't have time for the bunnies.


WRONG.
Plot Bunnies are your friends, and they must be cared for and nurtured. If they are, they refuse to go away until you write them. They are those ideas that wiggle and jump inside your head for attention; they must be written. They NEED to be written. They will make your writing better. They may make you waste time now and then, true, but if you routinely quash them down, they may not be there when you need them.

So, how do you encourage visits by these shy and elusive creatures? This depends on the writer and Plot Bunnies involved.

My Plot Bunnies need the following:


Tea. Lots of tea, in mugs with interesting or inspirational messages (Don't Panic, above, is one of my favourites).

Notebooks. usually brightly coloured, with or without frogs and hamsters. 

Banrock - of course. As chief muse he is a Plot Bunny wrangler. 

The *right* pens 

Appropriate T shirts: particularly favoured if actual bunnies are involved, as above. 



Naps

Walks
Environmentally unfriendly long showers, where I'm so away with the Plot Bunnies that I can't remember whether I've washed my hair or not and have to start over again. 

Sometimes, even chocolate and wine!!
Banrock, Chief Muse and Plot Bunny Wrangler,
 has been there since the beginning:
here he is with Slated proofs - back in 2011!
No matter how important and serious your writing is to you - and believe me, mine is to me - without enough of the crazy, it just doesn't work.  

Thanks to Cathy for the photo of her bunny, Alice

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15. aprilhenry @ 2016-05-02T12:13:00

Less than two months ago, I got this note:

April, I can't begin to explain how much of a role model you are to me. I love all of your books; especially Girl, Stolen:) Recently, my dad passed away and my house burned down. And I look to your books and you inspire me to finish and accomplish a book I have been working on. I have been writing a kidnapping novel hence you are my favorite. I never thought i would see myself as a writer, and you have showed me that you can do anything and accomplish my dreams. One day I hope to have my book published and I would LOVE to send a copy to you and get your approval. I can't begin to explain again about how much you mean to me and how skilled you are.

Thank you so much
Your #1 fan, Carlie

When I wrote back, I found out that Carlie was only 13, and that just a month earlier her dad had set their house on fire and then killed himself. This girl had lost so much, yet she was sending love to me.

I sent her back a box of all my books, signed. But I wanted to do more. Maybe a Skype visit? But her librarian, Jessie McGaffin, had other plans, as you can read about here:

http://nevadaiowajournal.com/news/bestselling-author-visits-nms.html

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16. Vulnerability

I’ve been doing some work with difficult characters over the last few months. Either the character in question has some pretty obvious flaws (which are part of who they are), or they do some pretty flawed things over the course of the story. Or both. It’s not that the characters I’ve been working with in my editorial practice are unlikeable, it’s that they’re human, quirky, realistic.

People are not all good, all the time. That doesn’t happen in real life, nor should it happen in fiction. But in fiction, you have to always keep in mind the idea of “relatability.” Because a character doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Like Tinkerbell needs applause, the characters in novels need readers to believe in them and relate to them in order to be real. In the publishing world, if I can’t relate to your character, as a reader, chances are, I’m not going to get too deep into the story. I may even put the story down.

But sometimes characters must do things that aren’t exactly relatable. They must be mean, or selfish. They must act in a way that hurts others, or themselves. They must get away from their own best interest.

So how do you make a character like this accessible to the reader through good times and bad?

Vulnerability.

Sounds simple, but what does that look like on the page? I’ll prescribe my magic solution: Let the character admit that they’re being a butt, and it will humanize the behavior. It will get the reader on the character’s side. Just like in real life, in fictional life, an apology or owning up to a mistake go a long, long way.

Here are some examples. If a character is being cruel to another character, they could do something like this:

“Takes one to know one!” I shouted. I was being so terrible to Brady, but I couldn’t get past him telling the teacher on me. He was supposed to be my friend.

While the reader may not agree with the behavior, at least they know that the character acknowledges it and has a reason for it. Even if that reason isn’t that valid, at least the character knows they’re in the wrong. Even if the emotion blows over soon, the character has taken the time to guide the reader through their less-than-noble feelings. The character here is being a butt, but the behavior is coming from a place of hurt. In other words, vulnerability.

If they admit that woundedness, they become more human and less of a jerk in the reader’s eyes.

The same applies to actions. Play with vulnerability and motivation there, too. For example:

I knew it was wrong to steal. That’s the first thing we learned in Sunday School. And yet here I was, sitting in my car with a brand new MP3 player, still in the box, burning in my pockets. They hadn’t even stopped me. I can sell it and help Mom with rent. I can sell it and help Mom with rent. I kept that on a loop in my head, but it didn’t make me feel any better about what I’d done.

In this example, the character has shoplifted something expensive. But they feel bad, which is one layer of vulnerability. And they did it for a noble reason, which is another. So we have two things that help sell the reader on the behavior.

The other vulnerable thing to smooth over tough-to-swallow words or actions is how they handle themselves after the fact. Does the first character apologize to Brady, even if it’s at the very end of the story? Does the second character go back to the store and pay them for the MP3 player once the financial emergency is over? Admitting their wrongs to the reader in the moment, and admitting their wrongs to others in the story: a two-pronged approach to broadcasting vulnerability.

If you have tough-to-motivate stuff in your manuscript, how might you use vulnerability to help build a bridge between the character and the reader?

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17. Monday Mishmash 5/2/16


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. It's the Little Things  Sometimes little things make me smile. Like my metallic green pen I just bought. Writing in my day planner in that sparkly green makes me happy. Yay for the little things. :)
  2. Editing  My editing schedule has been CRAZY! I'm not sure how I got through the number of edits I did in April. It's made me realize I need to scale back a bit because I'm seeing physical effects of the stress now and that's not good.
  3. Recovering  So far this year, I've had 5 books come out. The entire Into the Fire trilogy and the first two books in the Curse of the Granville Fortune series. In a word, I'm exhausted!
  4. Shift to Adult  My focus recently has shifted to adult. I still have several YA manuscripts in different stages, but I'm also working on several adult and new adult manuscripts. Maybe I'm finally growing up, but I really like writing for adults. Remember when I said I never would? Never say never!
  5. Writing Time  I'm hoping to sneak in some writing time. Last month was all about editing, and I need to write.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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18. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e April 29th, 2016

Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last weekabout writing from the last week:

Writing Suspenseful Fiction: Reveal Answers Slowly (Jane K. Cleland)
https://janefriedman.com/suspense-slow-reveal/

Best Use of Story Flashbacks (Mary Keeley)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/care-treatment-flashbacks/

Getting Your Novel to the Finish Line (Janice Hardy)
http://blog.janicehardy.com/2016/04/getting-your-novel-to-finish-line-part.html

9 Ways to Rock Your Query Letter (Maria Vicente)
www.mariavicente.com/post/143475957432/9-ways-to-rock-your-query-letter

Give your manuscript a running start (Joe Moore)
https://killzoneblog.com/2016/04/give-your-manuscript-a-running-start.html

5 Ways to Smash Through and Finally Start Writing (Jerry Jenkins)
www.jerryjenkins.com/5-ways-smash-finally-start-writing/

What I’d Like To Say To Young Writers, Part Two (Chuck Wendig)
www.terribleminds.com/ramble/2016/04/26/what-id-like-to-say-to-young-writers-part-two/

How to Weave a Message Without Pummeling Your Readers (James Scott Bell)
www.writerunboxed.com/2016/04/26/how-to-weave-a-message-without-pummeling-your-readers/

An Ambivert Walks Into A Writing Conference... (Carla Lopez Lee)
http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/2016/04/an-ambivert-walks-into-writing.html

Life isn’t Fair—A Classic Problem (Kathryn Craft)
http://writersinthestormblog.com/2016/04/life-isnt-fair-a-classic-problem/

The Five Modes of A Writer’s Life (James Scott Bell)
https://killzoneblog.com/2016/04/the-five-modes-of-a-writers-life.html


If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2015, and last week’s list.

If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

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19. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e April 15th, 2016



Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last weekabout writing from the last week:

Safety Tips for Writers (Rachel Kent)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/26880/

16 of Our Favorite Kindle-Publishing Resources for First-Time Authors (Marisol Dahl)
www.thewritelife.com/favorite-kindle-publishing-resources/

What “Let It Go” Really Means (Lisa Cron)
www.writerunboxed.com/2016/04/14/what-let-it-go-really-means/

Necessary Adjustments with A Forward View (Mary Keeley)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/necessary-adjustments-with-a-forward-view/

How your personality type wreaks havoc with your writing (Kelly Simmons)
http://writersinthestormblog.com/2016/04/how-your-personality-type-wreaks-havoc-with-your-writing-and-10-things-you-can-do-about-it/

Coloring Inside the Lines (Wendy Lawton)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/coloring-inside-the-lines/

Answering Questions about Queries (Rachelle Gardner)
www.rachellegardner.com/answering-questions-queries/

But What’s the Story? (Marie Lamba)
https://marielamba.wordpress.com/2016/04/11/agent-monday-but-whats-the-story/

You Can Fool Some of the People . . . (Tracy Barrett)
http://yaoutsidethelines.blogspot.com/2016/04/you-can-fool-some-of-people.html


Submissions & Queries (L. Diane Wolfe)
www.elizabethspanncraig.com/4203/4203/

The Urge to Avoid Risk (Janet Kobobel Grant)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/urge-avoid-risk/

All You Need To Know About Character Transformation (James Scott Bell) [Jon’s Pick of the Week]
https://killzoneblog.com/2016/04/all-you-need-to-know-about-character-transformation.html

Writing an Email Query That Actually Gets Read, All the Way Through. (Jeanne Kisacky)
www.writerunboxed.com/2016/04/09/basic-tips-for-writing-an-email-query-that-actually-gets-read-all-the-way-through/



If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2015, and last week’s list.

If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

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20. Meet the cover model for The Body in the Woods


Wow! Meet Isabelle Varga, the model pictured on the cover of The Body in the Woods. She recently contacted me to let me know that she is not only on the cover, she is also a fan. So of course I asked her a bunch of questions.

Q. How did you get into modeling?
A. I started modeling right before I turned 15. I was competing for Miss New Jersey Teen USA and a photographer who was doing my headshot for the pageant called an agency and I was signed as a model.

Q. Are you still in school?
A. I go to high school and take off when I get called to work. It was hard at first to balance modeling and school but I learned to do all of my homework in the car or on set at lunch break. I also learned to get ahead of assignments on weekends if I knew I was booked for a job that following week. My time management skills are really good from working.

Q. Do you have to be accompanied by an adult?
A. My mom always came with me to the shoots. Now that I am almost 19 I drive myself to most shoots. I am fortunate to work with the same clients so I know the team very well.

Q. How much did you know about the book before you did the shoot?
A. When I was called to shoot for your book cover I didn't know much until I got to the studio. The photographer, Jonathan Barkat, was shooting several different covers at once. I was told the name of the book at the shoot. I was not allowed to take any pictures since it was not going to be released for several months.

Q. How much of what you see on the cover is real and how much was done in Photoshop?
A. It was an awesome shoot....the dirt and ferns were real and they were piled around me and on me as I lay on the floor. They did several different poses until they found the one they liked best. The eyeshadow was real and it was super cool to see the images on the computer. I did not see the final image until it came out.

Q. How long did it take?
A. The shoot took about 7 hours because several covers for other books were shot simultaneously. Your cover probably took about 2-3 hours. It was a lot of putting the dirt and ferns on me then taking them off to move positions then covering me again.

Q. Do you like modeling? What do you plan to do after you graduate high school?
A. I absolutely love modeling. It has been an amazing experience to work with some of the best photographers and makeup artists in the world. I absolutely loved shooting your cover. The first time I saw it in Barnes and Noble was incredibly fun. All of my friends texted me when it came out. I also loved shooting a Canon commercial which aired in Tokyo. I am very fortunate to have been exposed to different cultures and amazing adults who have helped shaped me into the person I am today. I have a very strong work ethic which started when I began modeling. I was just accepted into college and I will attend Bentley University in MA in Sept. I am going to study Marketing and Media and Culture in college with a minor in management. I hope to work for a major fashion company one day in their marketing department. I also plan to compete in more pageants and hope to be Miss USA one day.

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21. Writer Wednesday: Editing While Writing?

On this week's Monday Mishmash, Mirka Breen asked me how I manage my time to be able to edit for others while still working on my own writing. Quite honestly, I'm terrible at it. ;)

I binge write. Whenever I have a small gap in my editing schedule, I fast draft a book. The reason is that I can't (I've tried, but I can't!) write and edit at the same time. I can, however, revise one of my books will also editing for clients. So, sometimes I split my day between those two tasks. 

I find writing to be all-consuming though. When I'm drafting, my brain can only focus on getting that story down on screen. I become somewhat obsessed with the characters and world I've created. They dictate my life few a couple weeks, and only when I'm finished drafting do they release me back to the real world. This is why I write so quickly! 

I wouldn't recommend this method of time management to anyone else, though. I'm the first to admit it's completely insane, but this is how my brain works and what works for my schedule, so here I am. ;)

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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22. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e April 22nd, 2016



Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last weekabout writing from the last week:

Small Press Storm Warnings (Victoria Strauss)
http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2016/04/small-press-storm-warnings-pegasus_22.html

Five Comparisons NOT to Make for Your Book (Chuck Sambuchino)
www.writersinthestormblog.com/2016/04/five-comparisons-not-to-make-for-your-book/

Creating Promotional Copy That Works (Marcy Kennedy)
http://blog.janicehardy.com/2016/04/creating-promotional-copy-that-works.html

Know Your Rights (Contracts/Dealbreakers) (Kristine Kathryn Rusch)
www.kriswrites.com/2016/04/20/business-musings-know-your-rights-contractsdealbreakers/

What Makes a Great Villain? (Jerry Jenkins)
www.jerryjenkins.com/makes-great-villain-checklist-writing-good-bad-guy/

It's a High Stakes Game (Michael McDonagh)
http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2016/04/its-high-stakes-game.html

Are You Being Taken Advantage of as a Writer? (Janice Hardy)
http://blog.janicehardy.com/2016/04/are-you-being-taken-advantage-of-as.html

The Little Dialogue Ditty That Always Makes You Look Bad (Larry Brooks)
https://killzoneblog.com/2016/04/the-little-dialogue-ditty-that-always-makes-you-look-bad.html

Why an Agent’s List is Never Full (Janet Kobobel Grant)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/why-an-agents-list-is-never-full/

Writing Lessons From The Masters (James Scott Bell)
https://killzoneblog.com/2016/04/writing-lessons-from-the-masters.html


If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2015, and last week’s list.

If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

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23. Adding a Stance

When I talk to client about world-building, I talk a lot about context. If, for example, there is a magic in a world, I want to know if a) magic is common, b) the protagonist has experienced magic before (if yes, how much? what kind? etc.), and c) how they feel about it. So when a streak of green lightning flies across the room, I am looking to the protagonist for clues. How they react to it will tell me a lot about how magic operates in the world.

But this sort of approach isn’t just for world-building. You can add an emotional stance to almost everything. How does your character see the world? How they react to stuff will be a very good guide.

For example, if they see the new kid in school, they might say:

There’s Bo, the new kid in school.

This is merely factual, but is there an emotional signature there? No. So the reader is still wondering…so what’s the deal with this Bo guy? Do we like him? Is he weird? If he’s important, I want to know more about him right away. One answer (other than putting Bo in the plot or in scene with the protagonist, which I would also recommend) would be to add an emotional stance.

For example, here are some more complex reactions we can have to seeing Bo:

There goes that Bo, swaggering like a show pony. Who does he think he is?

There’s Bo, on the fringes of the cafeteria with the cool drama kids already . Would he say something to me today? I hope so.

And then there was Bo. Was he the one who shot off that green bolt during homeroom? What if he’s an algae elemental? What if he can help me figure out the Slime Pond mystery?

Here we have three different attitudes about Bo, because I’ve let the narrator have an emotional stance in addition to providing basic information (“There’s Bo”). In the first example, the emotion about Bo is quite negative. In the second example, it’s attraction to Bo. He’s already off fraternizing with some other group, but the narrator hopes that he’ll come pay him or her some attention, too. The third example gives world-building context but there’s also an emotional signature of intrigue. We get the feeling that algae elementals (ha!) are quite rare, and they’re desirable, at least for the narrator.

I could play with this stuff forever. For example, what if algae elementals weren’t rare? How would we convey that idea through the narrator’s emotional stance?

And then there was Bo. Was he the one who shot off that green bolt during homeroom? Great. The first new kid we’ve had in ages and he’s another dang algae elemental. This stupid school is teeming with them.

Don’t just settle for describing something or someone. It’s in how you describe them that the reader will be able to read the narrator’s attitude and emotion toward them. It’s all about context, folks!

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24. Adding a Stance

When I talk to client about world-building, I talk a lot about context. If, for example, there is a magic in a world, I want to know if a) magic is common, b) the protagonist has experienced magic before (if yes, how much? what kind? etc.), and c) how they feel about it. So when a streak of green lightning flies across the room, I am looking to the protagonist for clues. How they react to it will tell me a lot about how magic operates in the world.

But this sort of approach isn’t just for world-building. You can add an emotional stance to almost everything. How does your character see the world? How they react to stuff will be a very good guide.

For example, if they see the new kid in school, they might say:

There’s Bo, the new kid in school.

This is merely factual, but is there an emotional signature there? No. So the reader is still wondering…so what’s the deal with this Bo guy? Do we like him? Is he weird? If he’s important, I want to know more about him right away. One answer (other than putting Bo in the plot or in scene with the protagonist, which I would also recommend) would be to add an emotional stance.

For example, here are some more complex reactions we can have to seeing Bo:

There goes that Bo, swaggering like a show pony. Who does he think he is?

There’s Bo, on the fringes of the cafeteria with the cool drama kids already . Would he say something to me today? I hope so.

And then there was Bo. Was he the one who shot off that green bolt during homeroom? What if he’s an algae elemental? What if he can help me figure out the Slime Pond mystery?

Here we have three different attitudes about Bo, because I’ve let the narrator have an emotional stance in addition to providing basic information (“There’s Bo”). In the first example, the emotion about Bo is quite negative. In the second example, it’s attraction to Bo. He’s already off fraternizing with some other group, but the narrator hopes that he’ll come pay him or her some attention, too. The third example gives world-building context but there’s also an emotional signature of intrigue. We get the feeling that algae elementals (ha!) are quite rare, and they’re desirable, at least for the narrator.

I could play with this stuff forever. For example, what if algae elementals weren’t rare? How would we convey that idea through the narrator’s emotional stance?

And then there was Bo. Was he the one who shot off that green bolt during homeroom? Great. The first new kid we’ve had in ages and he’s another dang algae elemental. This stupid school is teeming with them.

Don’t just settle for describing something or someone. It’s in how you describe them that the reader will be able to read the narrator’s attitude and emotion toward them. It’s all about context, folks!

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25. Writer Wednesday: Didn't You Just Say That?

April has been a crazy month for me with more edits than I've ever had in a single month. It also made me notice a trend. Writers tend to repeat themselves.

I found myself using the delete key quite often and commenting that something had already been stated, usually in the same paragraph or on the same page. As writers, we don't want to do this because it's insulting to the reader. Readers are smart. They'll remember things and even pick up on things the writer might not have realized. Trust me. I taught 8th grade language arts and saw it happen all the time.

Another error that goes in the same category is saying something in the narration that gets repeated in the dialogue that follows it. When this happens, it's usually is a case of Tell then Show. Just show. Let the dialogue speak for itself and use your narration for better things, like setting the scene or witty internal thoughts. 

So without repeating myself—See what I did there? ;) —trust your readers to be intelligent enough to remember what you've already told them. 

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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