Saturday, September 24, 2011

MG Author Eisley Jacobs and Born to be a Dragon

Middle Grade Feature Author & Book: Eisley Jacobs and her book Born to be a Dragon




Eisley Jacobs is one of the few middle grade authors I actually know and she was kind enough to let me interview her about her mg book for this month's topic. Here is the interview, enjoy!

How long have you been writing?
I think I’ve been writing since around the fifth grade. Seriously though, I was writing in spiral notebooks and creating stories for my peers to read. Poetry and actual stories that were probably rubbish, but I loved to write.


Sounds like fun. Rubbish is a good start, I know my first poems were just that, lol.
What is your book about?
BORN TO BE A DRAGON is about the epic friendship between a ten-year-old dragon and a ten-year-old girl. It’s a book about following your dreams and not listening to what the “world” says… It’s an amazing adventure for all ages.


Sounds awesome. I'm looking forward to reading the book.
Where did you get the idea for your book?
You know, a lot of people ask that and I really don’t have an answer. Story ideas come from many places and this one just happened to come at a time that I was ready to write it. My children love this story (as do many others) and it was just the right time.


Makes sense. Some ideas are hard to pinpoint an origin to but it's good you have a wonderful audience (your children). I remember hearing about them and the book on twitter. And when you published it that made things even better.
Publication story: What publication route did you go and how did you go about getting there?
I queried BORN TO BE A DRAGON (under a different name) at least 80 times. Sent a few fulls and a few partials and no one really wanted it right then. One agent said it wasn’t the right “time” for this type of story, while another said that she just couldn’t take on another dragon story. So I did my research and decided CreateSpace was the right place for me and I haven’t been disappointed.


I'm glad you found a route that works for you. Have heard some good things about CreateSpace too. Now, let's talk about other people's books.
What books do you like to recommend to others?
If you are reading in my genre, middle grade, I would recommend Chronicles of Narnia, Percy Jackson, Series of Unfortunate Events, The Secret Series and 39 Clues ;)


Haven't read any of them but I have heard of most, surprisingly. Genre time!
If you could write in any genre, which would you do?
I’ve never been asked this question, but I would honestly have to say I am doing it now. Middle Grade and Young Adult are fabulous genre’s and I will probably write them forever. I just love the audience and the reactions I receive. It’s really just awesome.


Great that you found something you can write and continue to love.
Is there a genre you wouldn't write in?
Probably adult fiction. I just can’t relate to it as a kid at heart.


Ah, okay. That's a good reason and we each have our own comfort zones in writing.
Do you have a project(story) you are working on now, or want to start working on soon?
I am currently working on Dragons Forever 2 and when it’s done, I will hopefully be doing a final read through of RINGS OF TIME, a YA Fantasy Novel.


Thank you Eisley for taking the time to let me interview you. Can't wait to read your book some day. People check out this author, you won't regret it.
Where online can the wonderful readers find you and your book?
http://EisleyJacobs.com/blog/
http://www.amazon.com/Dragons-Forever-Dragon-Eisley-Jacobs/dp/1456360965/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1316412100&sr=8-1
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dragons-forever-born-to-be-a-dragon-eisley-jacobs/1104199721
and
https://www.createspace.com/3504302

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Writing for Middle Grade

Note to self: When doing a month long topic about something you know nothing about, prepare ahead of time. And try to find stuff you know about personally.

There are some great posts coming soon but for now, I'm going to use different sources to provide tips for people who do write middle grade stories.


Writing a Middle Grade Masterpiece by Margot Finke at http://www.underdown.org/mf-middle-grade.htm

Here are some tips on writing for middle grade that appeals both the upper aged and the younger ones since a variety of readers find themselves in the middle grade section (often found in the children's section of bookstores) found on the site by Finke.

Here are some ingredients for a Middle Grade Masterpiece:
Use powerful and active verbs.
A cool and fast paced plot to keep the reader going.
Have your own unique voice.
Alive character with authenticity and dialogue that matches.
Hook readers at the end of every chapter.

Other tips:
Observe kids in their natural habitat. See how they interact, speak and such.
Read published middle grade books and dissect them to see what makes them work.
Network with other middle grade writers.


You Can Write a Middle Grade Novel at http://www.squidoo.com/middlegradenovels

- Get started and don't quit.

- Research

- Provide characters and conflict

- Check out this web site for more details



There are some organizations that can help, especially this one:
The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators
http://www.scbwi.org/

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Favorite Middle Grade Novels

This is a simple post. While I don't remember every middle grade book I've read in the past, there are some that stick with me. And some I'm not sure if they count as middle grade but I read them during that time so maybe they count. Either way, here are some of my favorites.

Matilda by Roald Dahl
The Silver Crown by Robert C. O'Brien
Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison (wore this book out)
City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
A World Without Heroes (Beyonders) by Brandon Mull
Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene
Books by Kenneth Thomasma:
    Amee-nah: Zuni Boy Runs the Race of His Life
    Soun Tetoken: Nez Perce Boy Tames a Stallion
    Naya Nuki: Shoshoni Girl Who Ran
    Moho Wat: Sheepeater Boy Attempts a Rescue



And there are others that I remember some details about reading because I was very into reading back when I was younger. I would read all the time. But I don't remember things like titles, authors or even character names or the exact plots per say. So, there are many great books even from when I was middle grade age. And some of the ones on the list are ones I've read as an adult.



What are your favorite middle grade novels?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Middle Grade Month

Welcome to September and one of many monthly topics. This month is all about middle grade books.


The first question is of course: What is Middle Grade?

Often found in the children's section of book stores, middle grade is a term generally used for books geared towards readers aged 8-12. Though like many genres, there are some gray areas even with the age range of the readers and subsequently, the main characters. Not every store places the same either. Sometimes the same book can be found in young adult in one store but middle grade in a different store.

Here is a site that tries to put a light to the difference between middle grade and young adult: http://www.write4kids.com/feature6.html

Age: Often, the age of main characters (and readers) are 8 to 12 years old, though sometimes depending on the story, a character can be a little older and still be considered middle grade. 13 is sort of an in between age because many see young adult as 14-18, so the story does really matter.

Length: While one might expect middle grade books to be shorter, that is not always the case. Especially for established authors in genres like fantasy, the novels can be quite long. In fact, I have one I read an ARC for that is actually longer than a few adult epic fantasy novels I own.

Subject: The subject matter is a little different from young adult, for the most part. Not that there isn't questionable content in any middle grade books, but the focus of plots are often viewed as different. According to the Write4Kids site listed above explains the difference between middle grade and young adult with how the middle grade conflict is focused more inward to the main character. When the character grows, the changes are more focused. Young adult had inward change too but that is often affect by outward influences and a "bigger picture" plot. Of course, there are always exceptions.

While I don't know much about middle grade, I am going to try and learn more this month. Also, over on Reading at Dawn, I will be reviewing middle grade books all month. Hope everyone enjoys September.



What does middle grade mean to you?
Do you read and/or write middle grade?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Searching for Guest Posts

Hello wonderful people,

I am looking for a few people to do guest posts on this blog. These posts are for the months of September, October and November. And I even have topics. September is middle grade, October is set for character development (yep, a whole month on characters) and then as expected, November is NaNoWriMo.

Anyone who wants to do a guest post can comment here or email me. Make sure to leave an email address if commenting here so I can get in touch, oh and say which month topic you'd like to write something for. I appreciate anyone who offers to do a post.

Thank you.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Progress Report

Howdy Everyone

Have another small update. I have comments on writing over at my other blog, http://itsinthebookde.blogspot.com that discusses a decision I made with my own writing. But the other reason to post this is the epic giveaway.

2 books have been sent from Book Depository.
2 books purchased for the Local Bookstore packages.
Candy bought for candy winners.

So, I'm getting closer to getting everyone their prizes. Yay!

As for this blog, I am making plans. Once I get work all squared away, calmed down, and such, I have a few topics planned. There will be Middle Grade week. I have some posts to do about my internship and I have some general topics about writing (like one about Focus). So, there should be more content than updates coming in the future.


'Til then, Keep Writing.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Another Update

Wow, things have been busy. I have been neglecting my blogs a little and I feel bad. Since I started working at two different jobs, I have days where I work for 16 hours. Once I get used to the schedule, hopefully I will find more time for reading, writing and blogging.

The good news is, I will be able to get everyone's prizes out soon from the Epic giveaway. It's nice to not be broke. :-)

So, this blog will seem neglected for a little longer but I'm going to work on posting once a week.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

July Novel Writing Challenge

Yes, there is another month long challenge and I am taking part in this one too.

JulNoWriMo



This is a challenge very much like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) though not quite as globally epic yet. It's a month long challenge with the goal of ending the month having written 50,000 words. Except, the July challenge doesn't have to be a new story and it doesn't even have to be done on a single story. If someone wants to work on 3 already started novels *cough*ME*cough* then that is perfectly acceptable. (Yes. I have even more than three novels started, but I only plan to work on 3 for July.)

I learned about this event back about oh, June 11th. Yeah, not a lot of time to prepare but one of my group members on WDC in a group I run called NaNoWriMo Plus asked if we were going to do anything. After a few hours research I figured why not. Course that was when I had one minimal job instead of two with lots of hours but oh well.

I decided to run an event in my group and set it up. And at least 10 people on Writing.com have expressed interest, which is cool. So, despite short notice and new jobs I'm leading a group in writing 50,000 words during July. Can't wait to get writing.

Web site: http://julnowrimo.com/


Anyone else taking part in JulNoWriMo?
Did you know about it before?
What are your writing goals for July?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Life Lesson #1 Patience


What I learned while catching baby possums in the house and how it relates to writing:

Patience


Yes, many people will say that patience is useful in this writing industry and I am one of them. There is always something that will make writers (and others) wait. And it's not easy, but we have to face the existence of nerves and the battle where patience is the weapon.

What does that have to do with baby possums (or opossums since it's spelled that way but I like using possum as the spelling) one might ask. Here is the story part:

We have little possums running around our house. At first we thought it was one that had gotten in from a little spot that hadn't quite been closed up yet. I caught it and let it go outside the house and the next day, there it is again. So, I did that three times; the third time was at 4 am, then that afternoon there was a baby possum in the house. I've caught two and used a carrier to drive them miles away from the house to let them go but we still have at least one little one in the house that I'm trying to catch. They are sneaky little things and quick to hide. I catch them with my hands, which isn't always easy and the real trick is... patience.

In order to catch the little creatures, I've had to spend time waiting, not making too much noise, for them to come out of hiding. A few times I would almost catch one so that I had to sit back and wait even longer for it to get the courage to come out again. Waiting is a part of patience that many writers face.




Writing often means waiting. Waiting for the idea to strike. Waiting for certain details like names and titles to become just write. And the big ones: waiting for responses after submissions. Distractions help a little but one can't completely forget as the submission out is always on the mind's screen, even when tucked away. 


I haven't submitted any novels yet, but I have submitted a few stories and poems. Waiting to see what the editor/publisher/etc have to say and if the letter will be a rejection or acceptance isn't easy. This is where being a multi-tasking writer helps a little. There are always projects that are waiting to be finished, so when I have a novel submission out I'll still be focused more on the other 10 projects wanting my attention instead of waiting anxiously by the inbox. I like to think I will be patient when I'm submitting novels, but only time will tell.


Part of what makes the waiting easier when it comes to catching little possums is the result. It makes my mom happy because she doesn't like having those types of animals in the house and it keeps the animals alive since the other option involves stepdad and a gun. I like that I can at least let them go into some place that could be a better home for them. Results are key because they make the effort worth it.




What about you?
Are you patient?
Caught anything interesting lately? (lol)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Without Internet

Does more writing get done when the Internet access is limited? Is the Internet too distracting to get writing done?


I've heard many people say that it is best to go without Internet or to turn it off in order to get some writing done but I was never one that could turn it off. Even during NaNoWriMo, I keep the Internet on and use twitter to do word dashes. So, it's very unusual for me to not have Internet. Except for right now.

I'm spending a lot of time over at my Grandmother's house and she doesn't have Internet anymore. So, when I am there, I don't have Internet to distract me from writing. But have I written?

Not really. I'm spending time with Grandma and by the time I go downstairs, I am tired. I know I need to make time to write and I think I'm going to do that tonight but so far, not having Internet doesn't always mean the writing will be easier. It comes down to priorities and putting the time into getting novels done.


Does it help you to not have access to Internet?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Update

Hi everyone. I know it has been a little while before I posted on the blog, so here is a quick update.

1. The Epic Giveaway - I haven't forgotten the wonderful winners. Getting sick caused a slight problem and now I have a trip to DC. But after I get back, it's after pay day too, I'll be able to get all the prizes and send them out. Thanks for the patience everyone.

2. DC - I will be gone for about 5 days. Technically we are leaving Tuesday night for the city the airport is located in, but I'll still be online before we leave. I had to negotiate with my mom to get online time during this little "vacation" (stepsister is getting married, thus our reason for going to DC). So, I will have a little time to blog but I won't be on much.

3. Writing - Trying to make my writing goals but the being sick interrupted things. I hadn't written in over a week but I finally started chapter 23 of the YA novel rewrite. I am still determined to getting it finished asap. Next I'm going to rewrite/edit Standing Ground and get back to writing Angel/Demon, "dystopian" YA and maybe the epic fantasy. Yay for writing!

4. Blogging - It's a bit weird. After the epic blogging A to Z challenge, to go to posting barely anything. The month was tough so I'm glad to have the break, though I didn't intend it to be this long. Stupid sickness. I am going to try and blog once a week now. And I have fun things coming up, including a middle grade week. So, hope you all stay following and look forward to the future content of this blog as I continue to keep posting when I can.

5. Polls - I'm going to occasionally ask questions in little polls on the sidebar of this blog. First poll is going to be about comment responses from me. The more that take part in these polls, the better I can run things. Hope they help at least.

Okay. That is all.

:-D

Friday, May 13, 2011

Epic Winners Announced



Yay!

It took effort but I finally can announce all of the winners from the Epic 2 year 2 blog giveaway. Woot! I will email all of the winners. Prizes may take a little time pending funds. I hope everyone enjoyed the giveaway and thank you to all who entered. Congratulations to all of the winners.


Picture Book Critique by Megan K. Bickel
Virginia

Chapter/Query/Synopsis Critique by J.C. Martin
Juliana Brandt

2 Chapter Critique by Donna Hole
J.D. Brown

1-3 Chapter Critique by Loralie
Susan Kane

3 Chapter Critique by Me
Tessa Conte
Seanathan

Journal Package
Kristie Cook
Ann Carbine Best
Giggle, Laugh, Cry

Small Bookstore Support (Books)
Ebilly Fishy
Juliana Brandt

Book Depository (Books)
Vicky B.
Sarah Perry
Sophia Richardson
Pragya

Movie Theater Candy
Ashelynn Sanford
J.D. Brown

Mixed Candy
KimberlyFDR

Special Treats
Ebilly Fishy


Congratulations Everyone.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Giveaway is Over

Thanks to everyone who took part, making this the most successful giveaway I've held so far.

I will announce the winners within the next two weeks. Could be one but I'll say too just to be on the safe side.  So, Stay Tuned.

And again:


Monday, May 2, 2011

Giveaway Ends Tonight

Hi everyone. Just a quick reminder that the Epic 2 Blog 2 Year Giveaway ends soon. Today is the last day to enter.

To enter go here.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Happy Blogiversary to This Blog

Yay! The blog is officially 2 years old and I have been blogging for that long, as it was my first blog. The Epic 2 Blog 2 Year Giveaway is still going on for one more day. May 2nd is the last day to enter, so if you haven't, hurry and enter. Epic Giveaway



Aside from the giveaway, I took a few days to figure out how I was going to celebrate in this post. And I think the look back over some of the posts is a good approach. It's hard to believe how much this blog has grown and followers are part of that amazing growth.

Back when I first started blogging, I had a couple of writing friends who I followed that also followed my blog but no comments. I'm seeing that is rather usual of new blogs and it never bothered me. I have discussed a few topics more than once since starting and it's interesting to see the different posts.

First blog post I started right away with writing topics, no introduction post. The first post was about writing every day and my attempt that week with writing one children's story a day for the whole week. Every Day

I started off at a decent pace but in September through November I had only one post per month. A bit over 6 months after starting, I had one post on goals comparing the idea of word count goals and chapter ones. Word Count Versus Chapters

After a year, I had gotten the hang of blogging. I even had some followers, all great and still are. But I didn't even remember when the anniversary day was until months later. But I did have a post on May 1 2010. It was about reading. Reading Week

6 months ago, was November 1, 2010 and the start of NaNoWriMo. Not a wordy post, the message was simple. On Your Mark, Get Set...

Good times. That brings us to today. 2 years and 187 posts later. I am hosting an epic giveaway. I just finished the craziness of the A to Z challenge, which meant more blog posts in one month than I have ever done before. And who knows what will happen next. But look for more theme weeks. I have a Middle Grade week coming up and might even have some guest posts in the future. I hope you all stay with me and enjoy the posts for another great year.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Z is for Zumba

This is one of the easiest posts since I've had to idea most of the month. Considering we've spent a whole month posting almost every day and commenting on so many other blogs, it's time to get up and move. Zumba is one way to do that. Remember: giveaway ends May 2nd over here.

What is Zumba?
"Zumba is a dance fitness program created by dancer and choreographer Alberto "Beto" Perez in Colombia during the 1990s. The program combines international music with dance in an effort to make exercise fun. Zumba classes are offered through licensed instructors in more than 110,000 locations in over 125 countries." - Source

And I have taken part in a class where I live. It's actually really fun. Though it's mostly me and a bunch of women that are a lot older. So, I'm not as self-conscious when I'm attempting to dance. I can't do all the moves either but I try. The music is fun.



Okay, I'm not very good at the Calypso. I can do some of the steps but a portion of it I really struggle, or did back when I was going to Zumba. This is the first one that I remembered, which is pretty good since I haven't been to a class since August. I was going to go back in October but hurt my hip bowling and you use your hips in Zumba for sure.

I might go back soon. I can afford it now but one slight problem. I work in the evenings and the only other time available is at 5:30 in the morning. I do not get up in the morning for anything, let alone to work out. We'll see. I need to do something.

This other video is much easier. Then again it's a mix of country and the twist. Fun times.





Do you like any type of exercise?
What are you going to do now the challenge is over?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Y is for Y'All

This is a simple post. I just want to say one thing.

Thank you.

How this fits in Y is simple. I want to thank y'all (and yes, we use that term in wyoming too) for coming to my blog this month. The A to Z blog challenge has been super crazy and I never imagined I would gain so many followers. My single goal was 200 for my anniversary and that number has been exceeded in such a mind boggling way. I am so grateful to have such great people following my blog. So, this post is for you all who have viewed my blog this month and who decided to follow it.

I guess I could have put "You" as the topic. ;-)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

X is for Xmen

Or at least, X-Men is the specific point but the more general topic has to do with references. I know some people like to see in a query letter a reference to what other already published books the one you wrote is similar to and that can be hard to figure out. However, there are times when that sort of reference can't be avoided.

Because I can't avoid the connection between my two "mutant" series and X-Men even though they weren't exactly the inspiration. Not that I have anything against X-Men, I just don't know enough about them except for seeing a couple of the movies.

It started back when I was in a critique group. I submitted a few chapters from my YA novel, back then called Ephram's Defiance, and a couple different chapters, the others in the group mentioned x-men. Why? Because my characters in this one and in the adult book 1 have genetic mutations that give them certain abilities. Currently I even call them mutants because I hadn't figured out a different term yet (though I might have one now). But I have a feeling that even if I don't call them mutants, people will still think of X-Men if these books ever get published or at least the beta readers who get to read them may see a connection.

Okay, some of the characters have similarities. I really wasn't going to have a fire character or an ice one because that screams X-Men. Then I was that character in a dream, and yes, I mean one character who can do both. He's fun and I had to agree to let him join the Rogues. There is a weather character too, a male one, that was in a dream too. The main characters, definitely not one I know about though I really don't know all the mutants in X-Men but I don't think it's worth the effort to avoid every ability they ever have. The story is definitely different. I know they are absolutely different, even if I can't keep people from making the reference.

So, I guess I will just accept it.



What about you?
Does your novel have a distinct reference to something already out there?
Or is your writing style very similar to someone else's?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W is for Why

Okay, not really why but that is part of today's topic. The real topic is questions but that didn't start with a W. But many questions do, the ones in the WWWWWH method often used in news writing. Those stand for Who, What, When, Where, Why and How for those that are confused by all the W's and the one H. They are all questions and in novel writing, questions are important.

Some questions have been asked in my reading group lately that really got me thinking. They are the same kind of questions that I've heard discussed with other novels. One of the first times it was really mentioned that I remember is with The Forest of Hands and Teeth but is very relevant to dystopians like the one we are reading in my group. "How did the world (society) get to this point?"

Yeah, not a W question either but I'll get there. The issue with that question in particular is often times there is no answer (or none that the readers are told). Often the story is focused on what the character does in the world and how they look into the future. Not knowing how the world got to that point can hinder some readers but for me, I don't really mind that factor. But it's not always easy because books should bring about questions and most of those questions should eventually be answered.

Readers expect answers.

They(We) don't need answers to every single question. However, the story should bring up questions throughout and if it's a stand alone they should be answered in that book. Series is a little different because some questions can be answered later but if the questions keep mounting it's going to be very tough answering them all in the end. Brandon Sanderson is having to answer all the questions presented in the Wheel of Times series, for example, and it definitely can't be easy considering Robert Jordan created such an amazing world Sanderson has to use for the ending.

Questions are an important part of that little thing known as inquiry and imagination. They create a story and can mean many things to different readers. Make sure to always ask questions.


Does your story give the reader questions?
Are those questions eventually answered?
Do you want to know how the world in dystopians ended up that way or is okay not to know?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V is for Vlog

No, I'm not posting a vlog. Sorry if that over excited anyone who thought they were actually going to see me on video. I haven't even posted a picture of myself so the chances of me posting a vlog any time soon is very slim. Plus I have no idea how to make one. But let's discuss the topic in general.

What is a Vlog?
The word stands for video log. A video placed on the internet taken for a number of different reasons. If I were to do a vlog, for example, I would probably talk about writing because this is a writing blog. Food bloggers who vlog would probably talk about food though sometimes people go off topic from their general themes.

It is a brave thing to post, or at least it seems brave to me.

Why won't I do a vlog? Aside from my issues with technology, there is the whole not liking any pictures of myself. I sound weird on recordings too, or at least, my voice sounds weird to me when I have to hear a recorded version. I may do one in the future, but no promises yet.

Since I don't know much about vlogging, I did find a friend's blog post with tips on what not to do while making a vlog. Here is the link: Confessions of Bad Vlogger



Have you made a vlog?
Do you plan to in the future?

Monday, April 25, 2011

U is for Upper Hand

Who, in the story, has the upper hand most of the time?

 It isn't often the hero, though they aren't at a great disadvantage either (well not all of the time). If the protagonist has the upper hand for most of the story then there is less tension because truth is, people like to vote for the underdog. Readers like to know that there is a challenge. The upper hand isn't always apparent either.

On the other hand, if anyone has too much of an upper hand then it becomes almost unbelievable. It is kind of like the hero or villain, protagonist or antagonist, when they have so much power and abilities then they have too much of an upper hand. It can make for cool scenes in movies with all the tech stuff that is available these days but it also makes the story a little less interesting in the book.

I have this problem with RP online. A friend had me join one of his favorite sites because he does RP all the time on there and in that world, the more powers and strengths, the better. His most used character had a gazillion abilities and could do almost anything, and to me that made him (the vampire) boring.

Another analogy is the convenient item the character happens to have on them and it's the exact item that saves them. It's often referred to as "Batman's belt" or something like that. If it seems too convenient then maybe there is another way to achieve the same goal without the item/action/etc feeling too easy. Some people in fantasy follow the rule that the item used at the end has to be mentioned at least 3 times in the story in different types of scenes. (Course, I'm trying to remember the rule so don't quote me on that for sure.) But the basics are simple. Surprise things at the end that save the day can feel too easy to the reader.

I try to make things difficult for everyone without being too difficult. Sure, Noah in the adult mutant series is one of the strongest ones in the world, but he's against using his powers. He also is emotional and while the villain is intimidated by his abilities, he knows how to use his emotions against him. I hope that I never give anyone too much of an upper hand in my novels.


Who has the upper hand in your story?
How do you make things challenging for the character?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

T is for Thomas

First a quick reminder. My epic giveaway is still going until May 2nd and I'm super excited to have over 225 followers. I hope many more enter the giveaway to truly make it epic. Here is the link as there is a US form and an International form. Anyone can enter. Epic 2 Year Giveaway


Now for T.

This might seem like a strange one for a writing blog and there were a few other words I considered like "title," "talking" and "talent" but this one I thought would be fun. I usually blog from character's point of view at The Character Cafe. But over on that blog, I have mutants, an angel and a demon who post, but none of the normal humans. So, I'm giving the reins over to Thomas. He is from a romance/erotica novel that does not have a title yet (shocking I know). He is also the favorite of a certain friend of mine and maybe we'll see why here.


Dawn: Okay, Thomas. The blog post is yours. Have fun.

Thomas: I will do my best. *spends a few minutes reading over posts on the Character Cafe* Okay. Well, I probably won't be as exciting as the mutants or even the demon guy. Though he seems rather nice for a demon. The stuff Dawn comes up with... and who ever has zombies over there, hmm. They might be more fun too.

I'm not sure what I should be telling you all, but I have to give this a try anyways. I don't have a very exciting life either since I'm just an accountant. It's boring and I spend way too much time working but it pays all my bills and then some.

Probably not what I'm supposed to be discussing. The romance that is the plot of my story should be more focus but I don't know what all I want to admit to the public like this. Before the "story" I was with my now ex for over 8 years, in an open relationship, but I was waiting for the commitment that I thought would happen. At the beginning it made sense, being able to... "play" with others sometimes but I figured we would both grow out of that after a couple of years. I did but he did not. Wasted too much time just waiting for him and it's hard to move on again, afraid that I'll make that mistake again, or that my next bf will be wasting time with me. Breaking up with him was hard and it took meeting someone else for me to even see how much I needed to do it.

Kyle, he was unexpected. That first night at the bar, where I met him and mistook that fact for meaning he was older than what turned out to be the truth, the flirting surprised me and I didn't expect it to develop the way it has. He is young, not underage cause I'm not a creep and that would be gross, but he is younger than I would have thought to consider. It's not his youth I am attracted to with him either. There is something about him, something I can't quite place and for reasons I can't figure out, he really like me and only me. It's almost too much and I'm having to change everything I thought I knew about relationships. I don't know for sure where this is heading, our relationship, but it has made me think more than any one I've had in the past.

I have probably bored a few of you, people out there. If you made it this far, thank you for listening to my rambles. I think I'll go bother Dawn some more about the story. She has all the fun bits worked out but she needs to do the serious parts too. I need to get this figured out and need her help. That is part of the deal, this whole author/character thing.

Friday, April 22, 2011

S is for Sub-Genre

This was another tough topic to pick, but I think sub-genre will do. There are so many different sub-genres out there, it can be hard to keep track some times. Some are more recognized in general than others. One change I like about the layout of young adult novels in Barnes and Noble is that they separated out a few of the sub-genres, which make it easier to find certain types within the large mix that qualifies as YA.

I kind of wish the Science Fiction & Fantasy section would have a few sub-genres labelled to help find books. Granted, it would be difficult to pick which ones received their own shelves but it would still be nice. Right now there is just the vast grouping in the one I shop at of science fiction and fantasy combined. And there is the "new" section but that bugs me even more because the one I go to has it as "new science fiction" and I know around half of the new books are fantasy and not sci-fi. 

Categorizing a novel isn't easy. There are a few novels I know exactly where they would be placed but a few others I am not sure. My mutant novels sound sci-fi but at the same time the powers almost seem too unrealistic, which makes me have doubts. The new YA book seemed a little dystopian but I'm not sure if there is enough about the society since it's a small village for it to qualify (among other reasons). And the one that almost seemed steampunk definitely is not, but I have no idea what kind of fantasy it is yet. Course the easy ones are ones I'm not working on right now. Figures. lol

I could go into all the difference types and discuss a few in depth but I think I'll just list a few examples of different sub-genres that exist. There are many others but here are few of them.

Examples:
Paranormal Romance
Dystopian
Urban Fantasy
Epic Fantasy
Military Sci-Fi
Cyberpunk
Steampunk
Cozy Mystery
Noir
Historical (mystery, romance, etc)
Police Procedural
Contemporary
Regency Romance



What sub-genres do you read?
What sub-genres do you write?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

R is for Reading

I love books, always have. When I was younger I used to read all the time. I read while eating dinner and watching television; I read at school; and I read while walking around the house. Then college happened.

Like others I've met, college cut down my reading and not just the leisure type. I eventually quit reading for my classes because the stress was overwhelming. I spent the last year with an eye twitch from the stress, so reading just didn't happen and that was even with literature classes. I was up two days in a row doing the work for one Lit class, along with assignments for a couple other classes, and that was some of the worst 48+ hours I've had. And I managed to pass every class even though I didn't do any of the reading. While I didn't read anymore I still did some writing even though I knew as a writer I really should be reading.

Last year, I read 4 books, though I started 2 others I never finished. Yeah, 4. Very pitiful but I'm working to make it up this year.

Part of the reason I decided to have a book reviewing blog was to read more. And I have succeeded so far. My goal for the year is to read 35 books. It's not the crazy 100 books most of my friends have on Goodreads but there was no way I could go from reading 4 books to 100. So, 35 is this year and who knows, maybe next year I will read 50.

I have finished 12 books already.


Do you have a reading goal?
How many books have you read this year?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q is for Query

An obvious one but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to discuss query letters for fiction novels, especially since yesterday I crazily took part in a query blogfest.


Basics:
The query letter is a single page that introduces the author (you) and the novel to whoever it is being sent to, most often agents and publishers. The common elements are the hook, small synopsis and short/relevant bio. Some will also have a small section that shows personalization about why the letter is being sent to that particular person but not everyone will want/have that. Check out agentquery.com for more information on the query letter.

Tips from Kristin Nelson from notes I took at a conference last year:
query tips blog post


Now for My Thoughts:

Oh my goodness, can this topic be very confusing. Researching can come up with more questions than answers and while I am certain I get the basics, translating it to an eye catching query letter about my own novels is a trying endeavor. Thankfully, I'm not at the point to seriously be worried about my query letters but my goal is to be panicking over them by 2012. But I still worry and in part cause I've entered two query blogfests in the past 6 months. Yes, even though I don't have novels ready, I tried to write the query letter. And it felt insane each time.

My first attempt was back in December for query blogfest.

My second attempt was posted yesterday for query letter blogfest.

Yeah. Neither are very good and I know what I really need to work on. And cause you're reading this, I'm going to share those points with you because I am sure I'm not the only one.

1. Voice: This is a hard novel for voice and that is a hard aspect in general because it's not easy to do a professional letter while having the character/novel(s) voice in it too. Part of what makes it difficult for this novel in particular is I'm still finding the voice in the novel because I changed it from first person to third person. That and I do know he's not a snarky teen boy. He's a quiet, slightly nerdy, keeps to himself whenever possible type. To me, it seems harder than say an outspoken, fun attitude type of character because subdued is harder to see through the words. I might try to chat and post more in the Character Cafe from his point of view because I bet Noah's novel will be easier due to how much time I've spend in his pov already.

2. Plot points: More of a what all to show in the query as the real problem. I think I understand now the whole, hook is the first conflict in the story and not the big one, bit but what about the rest of the query. What do I show from the whole novel? I guess certain side plots are left off the page but I'm having a hard time with what I should showcase. Do I mention the new boy he befriends? Do I mention his mutation was detected at birth, which is what makes the MC different in particular and the main reason he has had to work for the government, he is one of the youngest ever discovered? What do I add in the query? I don't know yet.

3. Genre: This one may just be me but there are some novels I have a hard time putting into a genre. Genetic mutation does seem like science fiction except that when the powers come out, some of them are definitely not realistic and make it seem a bit like fantasy. Do I call it Sci-Fi? I might but not completely sure yet.

Those are a couple of points but that's enough about me. What about you?


Have you written a query letter?
Are query letters hard?
What parts are the most difficult of a query letter?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

P is for Patience

Be Patient.
Ten Paciencia.
And umm however you say it in other languages too...

(image source: motifake.com)


Yep, patience can be very helpful in this industry because there are many aspects that take time. It can take a long time to get a novel written, then there is the rewrite and edit process, which should take up more time. Once the book is read, test readers or critique groups/partners have approved (if you go those routes), you might be ready to submit the story to an agent and/or publisher.

Have to get query letters ready, maybe even a synopsis depending on the situation, and after that? Clicking the send button, or sending the letter in the mail if it's one that prefers the snail mail still. And what happens after that?

Waiting.

And guess what... There will be more times where you will have to wait, even if you get an agent or publisher. Waiting and patience are part of the industry.

But there are things we can do while we wait. Research agents and publishers or your next novel idea. Write something else. Keep busy. Spend time away from the computer (I'm not very good at that one). All kinds of things can help the time go by because part of patience is distracting oneself in order to not focus on having to wait. Being easily distracted almost helps in this front.


So, how about you:
Are you patient?
What do you do to pass the time?

Monday, April 18, 2011

O is for Out Loud

There are many O word options for this post and it wasn't easy to make up my mind as I imagined sleeping instead of writing this post. But I think I have one that will work.

Out Loud

Think of it as a discussion about the difference between your inner voice and your outer voice. Those times when you say something out loud and then say "oops did I say that out loud?"... that type of thing. It is very important to know when to keep something to yourself (or a small private group of friends/family) and when to put it out into the large atmosphere of the internet. Be careful what you say because you never know who will see it.

Blogs are one place to consider since you never know who will see your posts but I'm going to talk about Twitter instead. The problem with fast media and networking, is sometimes it can become almost too informal. We forget that the things we post are being seen by other people. I'm guilty of this too. I'm sure no one really cares about the cat sleeping on my lap, that I have to go to work, or that I have yet to bowl a 200 this season. And don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we have to get all formal and not post random things on twitter because that's not quite my point. Just remember that people can see what you say.

Posting and tweeting is done Out Loud.

What I don't recommend, for writers as an example, is doing things like complaining about publishers and agents. Definitely don't say which one you are complaining about in particular. Sure, it can seem all innocent but imagine this. Let's say you posted a few tweets complaining about word count requirements for a specific genre, that they are too long and totally unfair (hypothetical of course). What if that publisher or an agent you want to submit to actually sees those complaints? It's not the worse thing in the world but I'm sure that's not the impression you want to leave. Now, talking about cats goes over a little better and that's because many of them have pets. But complaining and speaking down on someone is a way to leave a less pleasant impression.

And to showcase what I mean, if you have twitter, check out occasionally who is following you. Here are some in the writing industry who are following me. I skimmed through so here is a sampling of followers:

Authors: James Garcia Jr., Laura Fitzgerald (I reviewed her book), Kristie Cook, Alex J. Cavenaugh, to name a few. Not to mention many writers working towards publication.

Publishers: inGroup Press and 4RV Publishing

Agents: Weronika Janczuk and Knight Agency


Know when to speak out loud online and when to find a private outlet. And if you would rather say anything no matter what, that is fine too, as long as you have no problem facing any of the consequences. Just hope that it isn't extreme because as we've seen with certain blogs and comments, it doesn't take long for something said Out Loud online to go viral.



What do you think?
Do you worry about what you post and who might see it?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

N is for Networking

Networking is a very important and useful element of the internet. This blog challenge is an excellent method for networking even.


Event reminder:
My epic giveaway is still going on until May. Thanks to this blog challenge and some promoting, this blog went from about 188 followers to 225. I thought having just 200 would be super amazing so my mind is boggled over the 225 number. Still time to enter to win prizes. There is a US form and an International form, and the more people that enter the better and more prizes I can give away.
Epic 2 year 2 blog Giveaway


Blogfests:
I don't do many on this blog for a reason but I do enter all kinds of blogfests over on my It's In The Book blog. They are great ways to gain followers and meet other bloggers. In fact, before my epic giveaway on this blog, the second one was ahead in followers even though I've only had that blog for a year. Hosting blogfests is also very fun. My last blogfest, the Broken Hearts blogfest, had 39 blogs linked to those taking part in it. Aside from just the blogging side, I can also see that I'm getting fans of my writing by having those entries posted on the blog. It's just a great source of fun and networking for blogs.


Twitter:
It's a crazy weird form of networking but it's hard not to talk about it. Sure some of us post random tweets about things like our cats or things that followers probably don't care about (so guilty of both) but it is a way to keep in contact. My sister keeps in touch with me sometimes on twitter even, like asking when she is going to get her nook back. I also keep in touch with writing friends, some beta readers and then there are random people who follow me. And twitter I am even more confused about why they are following me but some of them are really cool. I do know a couple agents and other industry people are following my blog, which is exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. Not everyone will like twitter  but that's okay.


FB/Myspace/etc:
These types of sites can be used for networking as well, though I rarely use any. I have a facebook page but not linked to my writing self. I keep in contact with family there but sign in maybe once every couple of weeks. Yet, I have learned at the book blogger & publisher conference that FB is a good source for networking and promoting a review blog.


Conferences/Conventions:
These are great for networking both online and in person. Online cons are a little different since it involves chatrooms, forums, sometimes live discussions recorded, but it's still all online. In person is a whole different playing field. As a writer and even as a blogger, it can be good to go out of the house every now and then to meet people that doesn't involve typing on the computer. I have had some great times at conferences and can't wait till the next ones. I'm trying to go to 2-3 conferences this year even though I'm low on funds. We'll see what happens. Number one goal is the SCBWI summer conference in LA.



How do you network?
What would you recommend to others in particular?

Friday, April 15, 2011

M is for Memory

I considered doing a post on middle grade but I'm going to do an entire week on that after this challenge so I can really focus and discuss different elements of the age group in more than one post. Plus, I have someone who might do a guest post for that week. So, I'm going with my initial M idea: memories.


I am going to start with the question instead of ending with it:

What do you remember? (more than one is okay, over 20 might be too much)

While my memory is terrible when it comes to recent events and random moments, if I try, I can remember quite a lot.

I remember playing shuffle board in the basement at my great grandparent's ranch.

... playing power rangers in the field next to the high school during recess since it was by the elementary school.

... having a friend tell the whole class we were going to get married, move to Colorado and he was going to sell vacuums.

... staying over with the girl who would soon be my stepsister and waking up to a garden snake in one of my shoes (not her putting it in I promise).

... Mom, my sister and me, sitting on my frilly bed with the canopy when she told us grandpa passed away.

... bowling in a tournament where people were yelling and cheering, for the other team, and yet we won.

... standing in the bowling alley as a kid while dad bowled in an adult league, the air was gray from smoke.

... eating Sunday lunch at great grandma's house while the sun warmed up dessert (peaches that we would drizzle cream over).

... trying to drive the big suburban on our way back from the mountains but the seat didn't move forward enough so I had to use a pillow since I'm short.

... walking around the house while reading.


These are just some of many things I remember.


What do you remember?
What do you think your characters might remember?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

L is for Learn

That is right: Learn. There is always something to learn when writing stories and in life in general.

I had someone in a slightly frustrating writing group (long story) ask me an interesting question after I mentioned in the forum how my mom had a novel idea but she didn't think she knew enough about writing to actually write it. The person asked where I got my talent from then? Not to say for sure I am talented, just what the person asked.

Talent may exist but it will only get you so far. People who compliment me by saying things like I have a talent writing or just that I write well are nice but I know I have plenty to learn still. Okay, more than plenty.

I could list the many things you could learn when writing or talk about how you can learn but I'll keep it short.

1. Write
2. Try new things
3. Read
4. Write
5. Research

Those are a few that help. I have been writing technically for 5 years, seriously, though I didn't start with novel length. I tried flash fiction and short stories as a way to learn how to write scenes. I took part in little contests that focused on prompts, dialogue or other elements of writing. Then I worked on writing novels. And I'm still working. I am almost done with my first rewrite, which means soon I will do my first edit. It's all a learning experience and I can't wait.


Do you think talent plays a part in writing?
What is one thing you've learned recently?
Do you plan to keep learning?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

K is for Keeping Tradition

I was watching the tv show Mike and Molly, yes I like the show. This week there was a baseball game where Molly had a tradition that she used to go to games with her father before he passed away. So, she had a tradition of going to the game and at the game she had some traditions like eating a hot dog. Her boyfriend Mike and his friend had a tradition of going to the opening game together. Which at least gives me a topic I can use for the K letter.

Keeping Tradition


Traditions can bring out many different elements in a short amount of space on a novel page. They can be large traditions that show something about the world the author builds. They can display information such as class, religion, and others. But they also can be helpful in showing something about a character, especially small traditions.

A small tradition can make a character come to life to a reader, makes them relatable even. A tradition wrought from a tragic past can help a hardened character has a soft spot, so that they don't seem out of character but can provide more depth.

Traditions can come from every day life or from long standing myths and beliefs. They can exist in the real world or be a new creations. This is where world-building can help when doing a fantasy world because knowing the traditions of the people can bring a life feeling to the story if they are traditions that an intrigue or inspire a reader.

So, to keep from rambling even more, I turn to you: the reader.


What tradition do you have that comes to mind?
Does your character have a special little tradition they try to maintain?
What would be a cool tradition?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

J is for Just Write



Back to the general writing topics. Yesterday I had a slight distraction in writing. Every now and then I let worries get ahead of the story because I am a planner in everything except for the novel plots. So, last night I was thinking about the novel I've been rewriting, the YA one. I thought this first book was young adult but now I'm having doubts. But I can't worry about it now because I have three chapters left to rewrite. Then I edit and I'll worry about it then. Right now, I need to Write.


It's so easy to worry about things when it comes to novels. Are the characters likable? Do they have enough character to them to be interesting? Is this novel going to fit in a trend? Will it just miss the boat? (Sorry vampire writers. Things might be on hold for a little but it will come back.) What about content? Will an agent/editor/almighty person say the story has to be changed completely in order for it to be published? Is this a young adult novel? What counts as middle grade? Which genre is this novel? What if I write 15 different genres? and so many more...


But worrying, as I once heard on a movie, is like a rocking chair. It's something to do but it won't get you very far. In fact, it may cause the dreaded pre-written fear that will keep many from ever finishing their story. Which is why I promote one main rule of writing when it comes to first drafts:

Just Write.


That and guess what. First drafts are allowed to suck. And second drafts aren't going to be perfect either. Shocking, I know. I thought the draft I was writing was publishable as is... hahahahahaha. Yeah, no. I know this second draft needs work but I can't work on it if it's not done. So, I have three chapters to write. I'll end here cause that is what I should be doing. I should be writing (and maybe listening to the awesome podcast, I Should Be Writing).

Monday, April 11, 2011

I is for Intersex

People might be unfamiliar with the term, intersex. That's part of why I am dedicating my "I" post to it but also, I have waiting in the shadows an intersex main character waiting for me to write the book. It's actually contemporary YA, so should be interesting for me when I get the chance. There are going to be some anatomy words for explanation, this is the warning if stuff like that makes you uncomfortable, run away! *winks* So, on to the topic.


Intersex


What does the term mean?
Intersex is a word used for a group of "conditions" that are usually characterized, with one or two exceptions, where a discrepancy exists between the individual's external genitals and the internal genitals. At times the internal can be mixed, as well.

The site all this information comes from, minus the one statistic is MedlinePlus and the National Institutes of Medicine (NIH) at www.nlm.nih.gov.

NIH lists 4 categories of causes:
46, XX - Female chromosomes and ovary but external genitals are male.
46, XY - Male chromosomes but external genitals are either female, ambiguous or formed incomplete.
True Gonadal Intersex - Has both ovarian and testicular tissue, and chromosomes are XX, XY or both.
Complex or Undetermined - Other chromosome configurations that include XXY and XXX.


Statistic:
According to Father Mag, "one in every two thousand births is an intersex child..."
Source: fathermag.com

This may seem a smaller number than one would expect but not all intersex can be diagnosed at birth. Some aren't even discovered until after the person has died.


Interesting Fact:
An older term for the condition, hermaphroditism, was a combination of the Greek god Hermes and goddess Aphrodite. Hermes as the god for male sexuality (among other things) and Aphrodite known as the goddess for female sexuality, love and beauty.


When someone is born with this condition:
What used happened in the still rather near past is that the infant, if it is one of the conditions that was discovered at birth was usually put to surgery as soon as they could. A gender would be assigned usually depending on what seemed an easier surgery based on the outer genitals. Times have changed a little in that surgery is put off as long as deemed healthy, even having the child take part in the assignment of a gender/sex. This change is in part to the fact that people know more about the complexities that go into gender identity.



My character isn't completely figured out yet. I was thinking of going with XXY but is one of the rare conditions that doesn't have the discrepancy between external and internal. In fact, it probably wouldn't be noticed right away unless for some reason a genetics test was taken. So, I'm going to have to do more research to figure out Taylor. That and I'm still deciding (cause I know what to do but not overly excited yet) for how to address the main character because I usually write in third person. Someone recommended "shim" but I am not comfortable using it and not sure enough readers would even know what it means since even I didn't know until recently. May have to go first person for this one. Still, I look forward to writing the YA novel.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

H is for Height

I've read a few interesting comments on writing blogs where the commenter mentions that they think some authors give too many details about a character's appearance. And I can certainly see what they mean. Especially when the same type of paragraph is used for different characters about the hair color, eyes, face, body, etc. But the question asked by some stuck with me. Why is that information important? I'm not going to talk about most the details because I'm sure you all can give excellent reasons. No, I'm going to talk about one thing that may not seem like a big deal to some.

I'm talking about Height.

I am not tall. Not even close. I'm actually 4'11.5" or 151.1 cm. Recently, I started a job at a pizza place and because of that I came up with this topic. Height shouldn't matter when working with pizza right? umm yeah it does. My sneakers are those shape-up kind so they at least get me to at least 5 feet tall but I still struggle. It's hard for me to reach certain toppings. I have to stretch out the toes of one foot and reach to get things like pepperonis and pineapples. And doing dishes is worse. If the sprayer is put up in the wrong spot I have to stretch to reach it and putting away clean dishes, psh. So many things I struggle putting away because I'm too short. I sometimes stare at the tall people then the spot where it goes, hoping they get the message, or I ask them to do it for me because it takes too long to get out a step stool for the different dishes. So, height does affect how I do at my job.


What about in stories? Does the character's height affect anything?

It can. First, height can help distinguish different minor characters. In my YA novel, sometimes the MC refers to one of the agents (he calls them Suits) as the tall one. He doesn't know their name.  But it's a way for him to distinguish between the two when it's both men who visit him from the mutant regulation agency (or whatever I call it).

In romance, height can be used as both the way to distinguish between characters (since I write m/m it's tougher than f/m to keep the two apart at times) but it also has benefits. Scenes written that are important to the genre, like maybe a kiss, the height factor can bring in a good detail. This doesn't have to mean giving a stat like 5'10" or anything like that, just how a character has to lean down, or stretch up implies a difference between the two characters.

I've never fought. I can use a recurve bow and a gun (prefer the bow) but I haven't tried swords or anything like that, but I imagine height would have some influence in fights. The person has to know how to adjust and use height for their advantage or the other person's disadvantage. I'd imagine someone short like me probably shouldn't be using a long sword. I need a Hobbit one or something.

The last one I'll mention you often see in fantasy. Ever tried getting up on a horse and getting your feet in the stirrups when short? It's not easy. And getting off the horse is hard too. I don't jump down well, so had to use my friend's four wheeler because her mom had gone to fix a fence. And what about those young characters who have never ridden a horse before?


See. Height does matter. ;-)


How about you?
Does height affect anything you or your characters do?

Friday, April 8, 2011

G is for Gay

I almost didn't do this post. It sounded great but the topic should be a little too obvious coming from me. Those who haven't looked, that image in my profile is a picture with Pride flags. That is for a reason. I posted last month about the different between gay characters and gay stories (here) and on my other blog I know I've posted at least one or twice some of the reasons I write glbtq (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning and other letters of the alphabet) characters and stories.  So, this post is going to ramble on a few different topics related to gay characters/books.


When I started writing, I heard from a few different people that I should write straight characters if I wanted to get published. I didn't know much about publishing and at the time, I was more focused on writing the stories I wanted to write than anything else. Luckily this has kept me from submitting too early but it has caused me to worry a little about what would happen if I ever did submit to publishers/agents. The thought of being asked to change the characters gender and/or orientation made me a little nervous because I didn't want to be hard to work with but at the same time changing that would ruin any romance story because I knew the characters were gay and to change it just to get published would make me feel like I was selling out. I'm not as worried now.


I went to a conference in Colorado where a common question asked was: "what do you write?" and it was difficult at first for me to answer because I write so many different things. Eventually, I started answering with the same answer: "I write glbtq fiction, mostly in fantasy but occasionally other genres." Not as short as saying "I write fantasy" but it worked minus the few times I had to explain what I meant by glbtq. And it's true, over 90 percent of my novels have gay, bi, trans, intersex, questioning and even asexual main characters. The response is what surprise me. Several times, I was told how there is a great market for that. Shocked me, that is for sure.


Part of the reason I write these books is for me, and part is for readers. Having volunteered with gay teens, I know they would love to have books with characters they can relate to and straight character books don't quite work. Sure, they can read and enjoy them, but their experiences aren't always the same. The gay boy teen wants to read about how two boys fall for each other not yet another story about how a boy and girl build a relationship. Even I have a hard time relating with certain characters and have mentioned it recently. When the female character talks about how yummy a boy is or stares, almost drooling, at some guy's six pack and the chatter about how attractive they are I get bored. I don't relate to that at all even though I sometimes date males. I'm not really a physical person so I'd be thinking "keep the shirt on" but I'm weird like that. I'm female, for those that don't know.


Thankfully, more books are being published with glbtq characters. I didn't know that at first. But lately I've even seen them in bookstores. Where I shop, there are no glbtq sections, so it's hard to find any but lately I've seen 6 of them in the young adult section. That is more than the two or three I'd noticed before. Authors like David Leviathan and Malinda Lo have books available and those are just two of many. The books may still require research in order to find and/or be aware of their existence but they are out there.


But there is still room to grow: to improve. I would like to see more on the shelves in bookstores. To not have to do as much research to know about the books that are available. Would also like to see an industry where the books and movies don't have their ratings increased just because the characters are gay. There has been progress and I hope it continues. For now, I'll keep writing stories with glbtq characters and proudly admit to being a gay writer.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

F is for Friends

This post is for my online friends on Blogger, Twitter, Writing.com and any other site I've made friends on.  I would be lost without the wonderful people I've met.

I have so many that I'm not even sure it would be right to list them here. It would be one long paragraph with names, though they vary in degree of how close I am with them. A couple of friends have been excellent alphas for me, which means they get emailed the most because I get so many shiny new ideas that I share with only them to see what they think.

Something I've noticed over this past week has been an odd increase in posts on failure and friends who are struggling with doubt. I don't know what it is about the beginning of April but there have been enough to make me wonder. What is it about this time of the year where a section of friends would struggle? I'm not sure. And I really wish I had some great wisdom to pass on to my friends to help them, some wonderful comment that would make everything be better. All I can do is offer a reminder that I am here for them if they need anything.

And I have one more thing to offer for the rest of this post: music.


Here are a few music videos for my friends who are struggling right now. This first one is Miley Cyrus. She's not the best ever but I still think she has some good songs and this is one I like. It's very encouraging, I think.





Then there is this song. It's one of my favorites and a little less teen girl. I like the versions with Hayley Williams, her parts are the best though the rest of the song isn't bad by any means. I also like the concept. Pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars.





And last but not least, a song from the movie Toy Story, just so my friends can know that I'm here for them whenever they need me. You've got a friend in me.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

E is for E-Books and Excitement

There are so many good words that would work for today but I think it's time I gave my thoughts on the e-book revolution that seems to be going on. I've only read two books on an e-reader and am in the middle of two others, but I don't own the device. The one I have used is my sister's Nook. But before I get too into the topic of electronic books, I want to talk about another E word.

Excitement

I am uber excited because this blog has more than 200 followers. It reached 200 yesterday thanks to a super cool twitter pal (@theresabreaux) and it didn't stop there. Last I looked there were 207. This is just amazing for me. When I started this blog, I didn't think I'd have 100 let alone double that.  I still am hoping my second blog catches up by May 1st but even if it doesn't, I'm one happy blogger. Thank you everyone and make sure to enter my epic giveaway so I can give tons of awesome prizes to many different people.
Giveaway Announced


E-Books

Okay. Honestly, I love paperback. Have always had issues with the hard cover ones but I'll try not to get distracted by that topic. I want to one day have a library room where the walls are covered with shelves that are full of books. And e-books just can't fill that dream. When people first started talking about electronic books, I was against the idea. And to be honest, if I ever get published and it goes just e-book then I'm going to ask permission to find a way to get a paperback copy for myself. But I've read a couple of e-books now and they aren't too bad. I can honestly say, even now, I prefer paperback books.

My sister has a Nook and let me borrow it when I was offered a free e-book to review, the first one. And as a reader, she even let me read other books she already had on the device. They haven't been too bad. The screen is easy enough to read off and the text size is enough I don't have to risk ruining my eyesight even more just to read. And it is convenient, though I don't think I want to use one while taking a bath as that might not be wise. lol

However, my issue is that it feels like it takes forever to read one book. The books I have read don't seem like they should be long because the Nook says they have 160-180 pages or so and on Goodreads the paper and hard back types are over 300 pages long. But it takes more than one click on the page turner part in order to get past a single page. So, the pages ends up being 2 or 3 clicks and I feel like I'm going so very slow. I might be able to make the font smaller but then it would be harder to read the font. And I don't get to enjoy the awesome covers of an only e-book because I don't have a physical copy with that super amazing cover on it.

Yet, I may need an e-reader. When I started the review blog, even after WritersBlockNZ and L'Aussie joined me, I never really thought many people would offer copies of their books to review, at least not right away. I saw the numbers on the early reviews and giveaways where I put my name in on LibraryThing and figured I wouldn't win much. Between LibraryThing and the self-publish list my email address found its way on, I have 3 e-books to review and I won 2 e-books in the auction for Japan. And I have a feeling this is just the beginning. Plus, I have seen a number of books friends have read on Goodreads that are only available in e-book and I'm pretty sure my sister doesn't want me to pack her reader full of m/m books. Once I'm not broke or have spare birthday/Christmas money, I am going to consider investing in my own. My sister wants me to get a Nook like hers but we'll have to wait and see.



Do you have an e-reader?
What are your thoughts on e-books?
Which type should I buy?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D is for Distractions

Look a shiny!



The reason I chose Distraction for my D post is simple: I am easily distracted. Very easily. It will probably take me almost an hour to write this post because I'll get distracted a few times with other web pages and who knows what else. Like a drink, I need a drink...

Distractions can be many sizes, some are useful and others are not. I used to use slight distractions all the time to keep from over-focusing, which would lead to headaches. Which is why I got away with watching television while doing my math homework. It really did help because I would spends hours upon hours doing homework, even on problems that I discovered later in class could not be solved. So, I needed the sound to give a slight distraction.

I do this sometimes with writing too. Music is my favorite method of slight distraction. To the point where I try to create music playlists for every one of my novels. It helps me when I'm writing. Sometimes I'll watch/listen to television as well, but music is better if I want to be really productive with writing.

Another distraction that can have good outcomes, though now always, is that of the shiny new idea. I've posted about this before as it is something I face often. Just two days ago I was emailing my "alpha" about a new idea I have. It can be hard not to leave a work in progress for a new idea and sometimes it can be a good time to move on but be wary of it.

Bigger distractions like family, friends, school, work and life in general can hinder writing progress. But it happens sometimes. The trick is finding a way to either cope with taking time away from writing or a way to work out a new schedule to get in more writing time. All kinds of options can exist if you search for them.


Do you ever get distracted?
Is there a shiny near you?

Monday, April 4, 2011

C is for Characters

This might seem common for a writing blog and even too obvious but stick with me for a moment. I don't just mean any characters, this isn't about how to write them, what kinds I like to read or anything like that. When I say characters in this blog post I mean: Characters Who Blog.

Yep. Over at The Character Cafe our novel characters are the ones posting blog entries.

Everyone has very different characters. The Authors links in the sidebar show all the different authors and some of the characters that post in the blog. You should check them out because they are very fun. I enjoy reading posts from everyone's characters. Mia, J.D., Anastasia, Charlene and S.M., all are really cool. And I'm there too.

I have three different types of characters on the blog, but most fall under the same category. There is an angel and a demon who never post together even though they are from the same novel. The rest are mutants. A couple of them are teens and the rest adults, but the favorite of my fellow bloggers from the chats has always been Noah.

He is one of my favorites too. I feel bad that his novel is waiting on the YA series to take off because of the timeline between the YA mutant stories and the adult ones. He is a mutant who creates and controls electricity. Say hi to the new people, Noah.

Noah: Okay. Hi readers or um, followers. What are they called again?

Dawn: Call them whatever you want.

Noah: Hi... people. Nice to meet you all and I hope you stop by the Character Cafe. I've met some interesting characters since I first joined a chat back in 2010. They are different but all very nice. Speaking of the blog, when do I post? I haven't done one in a while.

Dawn: Oh umm. We have a new schedule so you'll be posting in one of the topics. And we are going to have some of you interview each other. I figured they would like interviewing you out of all my other characters.

Noah: JD and Anastasia have some that I wouldn't mind answering questions for though I don't know the new ones enough... but I guess I can handle it. Maybe. Who do you have posting tomorrow? Isn't it our day to post?

Dawn: Well, there is an on going discussion between Andras, Michael, Bastian and Dominic. It's their third post.

Noah: *stares* Michael, Bastian and Dominic? That doesn't sound like a good idea. I better go read it  cause umm.. that could be awkward. I should go and see what I'm going to have to put up with when they get back home. *wanders away to read the other blog post*

~~~

Don't worry. He won't be able to see any part of the conversation that is a secret he isn't supposed to know yet. Some of us still have control over the characters, for the most part. ;-)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

B is for Book Blogger

I am still new to the book blogging world even though I have been blogging about writing for almost 2 years now. It wasn't until January of this year that I started a blog for reading and reviewing books. Though I did start making the plans for it several months before hand and took a couple months to get my fellow bloggers together along with blog decisions that were made. The blog has only been up for a few months but I'm enjoying it. Plus, it has me reading more.

The review blog: http://readingatdawn.blogspot.com/

And the other reason for using B day for Book Blogger. I'm going to be at the Book Bloggers and Publishers online conference. I've only done one other online conference before but I'm really excited for this one.


Check out the conference page if you're interested: http://bbpcon.blogspot.com/

I'm not sure what to expect but I hope in particular to learn of a few new ways to promote the reviewing blog. There is also going to be a chance for receiving some advanced reader copies of some novels and that is always fun. Networking is usually a good idea and that is what I'm going to do at this conference.


Anyone else going to be there?

Friday, April 1, 2011

A is for Announcement (Epic Blogiversary Giveaway)

Not only is today the first day of the A to Z blogging challenge but in exactly one month, on May 1st, this blog will be 2 years old. Yes, I have only been blogging for 2 years and the blog is getting close to having 200 followers. With all those 2's I just have to host an epic giveaway. While the A to Z challenge will involve many posts, don't worry about losing this one because over at my other blog (itsinthebookde.blogspot.com) the post will be easier to find. Yep, this giveaway involves 2 blogs. :-D




I am so grateful for every single follower and I hope many of you will take part in this giveaway. And for the first time ever, I am also doing some international prizes. Yep. People outside the US have chances to win prizes, which is part of what makes this an epic giveaway. And I have made two forms for people to use to sign up for the giveaway. One is for the US followers and the other is for everyone else. I wish I could share some of the prizes to everyone and not limit them to just US but I'm a little (okay, yeah I'm short too) broke person living at my parent's house and working at a pizza place just recently, so can't do the massive international shipping such a giveaway would require. Maybe when I win the lottery (lol).

If I get 200+ followers on either of the blogs, then there will be more prizes given out. However, if a prize doesn't have 5 people signed up to win then less will be given. Yes, we need lots of people to enter the giveaway so I can offer many prizes. There are price limits on the books as I'm sure you could guess. But it'll still be cool cause I will buy a book for you if you win. Yay for books.

Enter by filling out one of the forms located below in this post. Please, only enter one so make sure you've got the right one before submitting. That means you only need to fill it out once, either on this blog or over at It's In The Book. With your help, this will be a fun, excellent and very epic giveaway.

The giveaway ends on May 2nd. Yep, I'm including the official 2 year blogiversary day. So, get your entry in by May 2nd. If you have any questions about the prizes or any part of the giveaway form, email me at DawnEmbers(at)ymail(dot)com.

For US Followers:

Closed



For International followers:

Closed

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Author Interview Patrick Shannon

Patrick Shannon is the author of a very amusing book titled Letters From Wheatfield. My review of the book will be up at readingatdawn.blogspot.com. I am grateful to the author for answering the random questions I send to the poor people who agree to be interviewed by me.

About the book: What do you do for fun if you live in a small rural town, dauntingly far from the nearest city's plentiful amusements? Upon what resources do you draw to spice up your existence? Letters from Wheatfield provides the answer - and it isn't always pretty.
      The fictitious town of Wheatfield is a tiny island in a vast sea of wheat fields and cattle ranges. Its nearest neighboring towns, similarly small, are well over the horizon. But its isolation has no effect on its inhabitants. Theirs is a society of mirthful, blithe, spritely wags - a condition abetted by the presence of not a few eccentric individuals.
      In Letters from Wheatfield, two transplants from Manhattan write to a cousin back home about the remarkable community that has assimilated and transmuted them - much to their amazement and great pleasure.




About the Author: Patrick Shannon, author of the young reader's book, Viva Cisco, currently resides in Conrad, Montana. After serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, he worked thirty-three years for a major oil company, bringing him rich experiences from traveling in Asia, the Middle East and the U.S. Born and raised in Southern California, Shannon attended East Carolina and Oklahoma Universities and UCLA. He is a member of Phi Kappa Phi scholarship society.


First, let's start with the book you so kindly sent me to read, Letters From Wheatfield. How did you come up with the idea for your book?
   Actually, from living her in my adopted town of Conrad, Montana. Approximately 40% of the stories in the book are based on actual events here, gussied up by my imagination, or course.
   You see, Montanans, in general, are very witty people, and the residents of Conrad just seem to have a greater share of that trait. So when you have a town full of congenial, fun-loving characters like that, you have a community that is one heckuva good time.
   And there is another factor. Like my fictitious town of Wheatfield, Conrad lies within the "Pixie Triangle" - an area where loony things just sort of happen. For example, there was an incident recently, in a nearby town, that would have been a surefire candidate for the Wheatfield Book of World Record Vegetables. (I swear this is the truth. I have the newspaper clipping to prove it.) A black bear was trying to force its way through a woman's kitchen door, and she successfully beat it off wit ha giant, 14-inch zucchini from her garden. The article included a picture of the zucchini and a yardstick. Now, if you can live in a place like this and not write a book, there's something wrong with you.


Haha. I can only imagine. And it's nice to see someone else who would use the term "gussied up" in a sentence.
What about your book in particular do you think differentiates it from others in the same category?
I think the fact that so much of it is based on actual situations gives it an authenticity that otherwise wouldn't be there. Several of my reviewers who have small town backgrounds have commented on this.


I can attest to that, coming from a small town in Wyoming. The professor bit about Columbia and how the gossip got out of hand was something I could even relate to when it comes to small town gossip.
What is your publishing story? How did you go about getting your book published?
After years of trying to breach the impenetrable walls of traditional publishers, and because I was approaching my 79th birthday, I went the self-publishing route with Outskirts Press. I wasn't interested in the money or fame. I just wanted to leave something of my writings behind. Outskirts Press has done a fine, professional job of granting my wish.


Understandable. Sometimes it works for an author to go the self-publishing route and that sounds like a great way to celebrate your 79th birthday.
How long have you been writing?
I have been working at writing ever since High School, some 62 years now.  My ability to write didn’t really kick in until my retirement, though.  One day I took a look through all the stuff I had written over the years, and I was shocked.  It was just garbage, and I resolved then and there to start writing something better with which to replace it.  To my utter and pleasant surprise, I discovered that, at this late stage in my life, I had finally learned to write.


Ah, the looking back on younger writing. It's amazing what the years will do to how we feel about our own writing.
How many drafts do you normally write for a specific project?
Three, essentially.  The first draft is done on a letter pad, in pencil, with me ensconced in my contour chair.  I get solidly into a right-brain mode and just get the story line down as fast as it will flow.  I don’t worry about words, punctuation or sentence structure.  I just get the story line down. The next draft is done on that same pad or on attachment sheets.  In this one I do some correcting of sentence structure and a lot of word replacement.  This is where I give my old thesaurus a good workout to select words with exactly the connotation I want. The third draft occurs as I type the pencil draft into the computer.  Something about the pace and streaming of that process makes me sensitive to the “musicality” of my sentences – the lilt, the tempo – and I make some pretty significant changes to sentence structure at that time. After that, of course, there are countless passes at editing for spelling and punctuation.


I'd imagine if we all counted each edit round the number would be insane as to how many drafts it would take to finish a novel.
What was the hardest part of the editing process once you started working with the editor?
I try to do my own editing as completely as possible before it gets into an editor’s hands.  It’s just a pride thing, I guess.  My biggest problem with that is maintaining concentration.  While I should be scrutinizing every word for spelling and punctuation, I get caught up in rereading for content.  I’m my own biggest fan, I guess.


I can understand that, wanting the book to be in as best shape as possible before someone else works on it but sometimes it's difficult to see our own mistakes. Focus can be tough but you seem to have done well.
Favorite genre to read in?
Fiction, but I divide my time between classic novels, spy thrillers and mysteries.


There are so many great fiction novels to read and many great classics.
What are some of your favorite authors?
Among the classics, I love Thomas Hardy and George Eliot.  Jude The Obscure, Mill On The Floss and Middlemarch are among my favorite stories.  For just plain escape, I read Le Carre, John Lescroart, Jeffrey Archer and Alexander McCall Smith.  On the serious side, to try to understand what is happening to our country and our world, I turn to Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson, Andrew Basevich and Chris Hedges.



Some excellent authors, some I have heard of and a few that I have not.
Do you have any other novels the readers might be interested in?
My first book was for young readers in the 10 to 14 age group. Its title is Viva Cisco and, in keeping with my style, it is humorous. I have a third book ready to go. It's called Viva Laughter, and I like to think of it as my tour de force as a humorist. If I can get the necessary releases for my use of a few well-known names, I will try to get it published.


Those sound great and you are indeed a humorous writer. I wish you luck in getting the third book published. Thank you for answering all of my questions and letting me read your fun book.

Patrick Shannon can be found online at the web site, outskirtspress.com/wheatfield. Or by email at rovers8404@hotmail.com.