Thursday, December 27, 2012

Series Lust

Besides working my butt off to finish about five simultaneous projects this Christmas (not kidding here), I thought I'd try to slip in a post about the little bit of reading I have managed to get in so far this winter. One thing that's been different about my reading habits lately is that I have been drawn, more than ever, to books in a series. Now I've always liked a good series, but I much prefer to wait until all the books are available so there's no waiting. Granted, that's not always possible, but if I can't get a series in completion, I at least prefer books in a series that also act as stand-alones. So it's kind of surprised me, this getting into a series so much. Maybe it's because I'm so busy- maybe it has something to do with the idea that I couldn't possibly finish the whole thing in one night, so why even bother trying, right? Might as well get that sleep in instead. I dunno. I'm just finding them easier to pick up and put down these days. So, here are a couple of series that have caught (and held) my attention lately.

The Lux series by Jennifer Armentrout
It's been a long time since I've fallen this hard for a series. I love love love the Lux series. Plus, this was one of those annoying "hurry up and wait" scenarios. I started reading this back in early Fall, and had to wait practically an entire semester to get to read the latest. Huff. She also has another long one called Daimon or something, but I have yet to get into that.

The Significance series by Shelly Crane.
I'm still working my way through this one. Okay! I'm just finishing book one. But I love the idea behind it, and I can't help but notice it's gotten more and more popular, so that probably says good things about it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Jesi Lea Ryan Hosts

(I'm pleased to host Jesi Lea Ryan, author of the fabulous Arcadia's Gift. I gave it 5 stars, so be sure to check it out, and thanks for stopping by!)

Another Successful Blog Hijack!!!!

Psst! Jesi Lea Ryan here.  Welcome to my sneak-attack blog tour! 

Vicki is busy writing away on her new book and forgot to lock her computer.  So I’m taking over her blog for my own nefarious (shameless?) purposes.  I have to hurry though before she comes back.  (Hee, hee!)  Read to the end and you have a chance to win a free e-book!

I want to take a moment to tell you about my new young adult, paranormal romance, Arcadia’s Gift

arcadiasgift (1).jpg

Most people who experience death don’t live to tell about it.

When sixteen year old Arcadia “Cady” Day wakes in a hospital after experiencing what can only be called a psychic episode, she finds her family in tatters. With her twin sister gone, her dad moved out, her mom’s spiraling depression and her sister’s boyfriend, Cane, barely able to look at her, the only bright spot in her life is Bryan Sullivan, the new guy in school. When Bryan’s around, Cady can almost pretend she’s a regular girl, living a regular life; when he’s not, she’s wracked with wild, inexplicable mood swings. As her home life crumbles and her emotional control slips away, Cady begins to suspect that her first psychic episode was just the beginning…

I am so excited to share this book with the world!  Cady is such an amazing character.  I think what I like best about her is that she has to deal with some seriously heavy family issues in addition to her new gifts.  Because of this, both teen and adult readers will be able to find different ways to relate to her on an emotional level. 

Where did the idea for Arcadia’s Gift come from?  I honestly don’t remember.  I knew I wanted to write a young adult paranormal, since I read a lot of young adult literature.  Vampires are a tad overdone right now and werewolves just don’t appeal to me.  (Hello? Doggy breath is NOT sexy!)  I seem to recall the character of Cady forming in my mind first.  I wanted her to be as realistic as possible.  I truly believe some people have psychic abilities, so it seemed natural to develop them in Cady.  Once I figured out what those abilities would be, the story of how she got them unfolded naturally. 

Why set the story in Dubuque, Iowa?  My first novel, Four Thousand Miles, was set in England. While I have been to England and all of the places in my book, I had to do a ton of research into the setting, the culture and the speech.  With Arcadia’s Gift, I chose to set the story in my hometown of Dubuque where I am intimately familiar with the city.  Cady goes to the same high school I attended, lives in the neighborhood I used to live in and hangs out in the places my friends and I used to haunt on Saturday nights.  What I discovered is that I felt a greater emotional connection to this story because I could draw on my sense of nostalgia. 

The other reason I chose Dubuque is because it hasn’t been done before.  I can’t think of another young adult novel set there, can you?  Bordered by the Mississippi River on one side and the Great Plains on the other, Dubuque is unique to Iowa for its incredible bluffs and hills.  It truly has a natural beauty.  The landscape plays a strong role in the plot of the novel. 

What’s next for Arcadia?  Nice try!  I’m not giving you any spoilers.  I can tell you that Arcadia’s Gift is the first in a planned trilogy.  The second book, Arcadia’s Curse, is planned to release in May or June 2013. 

Oh, crap!  I hear Vicki coming, so I have to dash!  Before I go, I’ll leave you with an excerpt from my novel.  Tell me what you think of it in the comments and leave your email address for a chance to win a copy of Arcadia’s Gift!!

~Jesi Lea Ryan, Future Bestselling Author and International Hijacker of Blogs


It felt like ripping… ripping through me, ripping from me. A deafening roar reverberated all around as I lay flat on my back, drowning the shrieks and screams echoing on the river valley walls. My eyes were wide open, unblinking, but all I could see were abstract forms in shades of black, gray and red. A searing burn cut across both of my thighs as if I’d been struck by a flaming hot iron. My flesh melted and bubbled, absorbing the phantom burning metal and shattering my femur bones like glass. Although I was screaming as loud as I could, the sound was distant, like someone screaming under water.

A hub of activity swirled around me, but I had the distinct feeling of being alone… alone in hell. I groped around on the cool soil at my sides, sparse patches of long grass and loose gravel, trying to remember where I was and what had happened to me. The pain prevented any coherent thoughts.

Voices. Panic all around me. Yet I was alone in my hell.

A flash of heat seared through my head, pounding rhythmically. Rust coated my tongue. The heat began to sink down my torso, leaking out of the stumps left under my hips. I sucked in jagged breaths as I realized that the heat was my blood, pumping through my arteries and spilling onto the cool ground.

No! I don’t want to die! Again, the screams tore out of me. No one answered my cries.

My body grew colder. The pain faded to numbness. They say when you know that you are dying, your life flashes before your eyes. I knew I was dying, but curiously, it was my twin sister Lony’s life that came to me in last minute mourning, not mine. I saw her love for me, even if we fought more than talked these days. I saw her fierce hope that our parents would reconcile their failed marriage and reunite, before nothing remained to salvage. I saw her boyfriend, Cane, and the lost promise of young love. A swell of love and pain filled my chest when I pictured Cane. It made no sense…I didn’t even like him.

The forms in my vision began moving more slowly, becoming even darker. I struggled to reach out to them, but my arms were as heavy as iron weights. I opened my mouth to scream again, but only rust flavored foam escaped my throat and rolled down the corner of my mouth and into my hair. The skin on my face broke into a cold sweat as I steadily bled out.

It was almost over. I wanted my mom.

A shock of pain ripped through my chest as my heart raced, running out of blood.

Thump-thump. Thump-thump.

The faster my heart pumped, the less time I had left. My back reared up, head scraping the ground. My lungs heaved, panting. The forms in my vision swirled so dark they blended with the night. I reached out desperately with my hands, fingers not even finding a hand to hold. Breath rattled in my chest as it left my body for the final time and the whole world faded to black.

Arcadia’s Gift is available for purchase at the following retailers:

Monday, September 10, 2012

ROW80: Reads and Writes

So I'm reading the Lux series by Jennifer Armentrout, and wow, is it amazing. I love it that the main character is a book blogger. I heart book nerds. It's also the first book to keep me up all night since V.J. Chamber's Helicon Muses series. Which reminds me that I need to do reviews for the Helicon Muses because they are awesome and everyone should run out and buy them, and I'm hoping to stalk V.J. into doing an interview. Which would be great, because she was the very first Indie I ever read, and I still turn into a fangirl when it comes to her.
A really good writing week; I managed to get two writing days in on the DNB for a total of 2200. The next chapter requires not just a character switch, but a gender switch too, and I don't know that I've ever written from a boy's POV before. Well, there was that one prologue for Darkness in the Blood, but that's it. So here is where the rubber meets the road: can I write in a male POV? We shall shortly see. It's early days yet, and I can still switch to making this a 1st person from my main female character's POV if it's beyond me.
Wrote another 2200 words on Blood Redemption; it was totally an Asheroth chapter, and he's one of my favorite characters. Have you ever sat down to write, and had a character spring, fully formed, onto the page? That's what happened with him. He came pre-loaded with baggage, personality . . . the whole works. Actually, something like that may have already happened in the DNB. A character kind of just showed up. A good, layered one. So that was great.
The best thing about this week was that I did manage to write for about four days out of the whole week. And that was pretty evenly split between two different projects, which is awesome. I've been struggling with developing this habit for the whole round, and if that's all I take away from it, I will be a happy lady.
Hope everyone else's week is going well. Can't wait to check in with the rest of my ROW80 peeps on Wednesday!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Artwork of Daughter of Glass

Although I've been busy writing away, it has been a while since my last release. That doesn't mean I have nothing in the works, however. 
The amazing cover!
The famous fountain in Old Town Square.
At twilight, of course! 
The streets of Whitfield at night.
Just who is this mysterious guy?
You'll have to read DoG to find out!
Suffice to say, he's one of my favorites!
When I created the town of Whitfield, I always envisioned it as a common thread among stories of all types. Since the town is both supernatural and mundane, it can support stories of both kinds. Admittedly, I'm only in the barest beginning stages of exploring its "normal" side, but I have spent a great deal of time hanging out on the supernatural side of town. It's been really rewarding to have built a world where characters can "visit" each other in different stories and hang out in some of the same places. Currently I have a 3-book series and one novella that take place in Whifield, and although they deal with different principal characters, there is some overlap of my favorites in both.

I'm very excited as the novella, Daughter of Glass, draws closer to its eventual publication. Curiosity Quills Press has commissioned not only an amazing cover, but illustrations for each chapter. Through them, we catch a glimpse of the Whitfield of all four books. I thought I'd share some snapshots of the town as seen through the lens of Daughter of Glass. They give the town a kind of life of its own.

More about Daughter of Glass:
Imagine having emotions so powerful they manifest as actual people. These emotional avatars are always with you, determined to protect you from yourself. But then you fall in love- and suddenly your "protectors" turn into your jailers as they fight to keep you under their control.
Sasha and Noah must escape these bonds in order to serve the love between them.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

ROW80: D.N.B. and Twitter

I finally did it! I managed to work on two different projects at the same time!
This week, I got in 1k on my Darling New Book, or DNB. I like calling it the DNB because then it can also be the D*mn New Book, depending on how I'm feeling about it. Then I pretty much pulled an all-nighter writing on my serial, which amounted to 3k. So I'm Chapter 15 of Blood Redemption, and I'm aiming for 22-24 chapters. So I'm over halfway there. I got to write a landmark Asheroth chapter, "The Dangers of Being Rational." I love that guy. That brings me to the upper tier of my word count goal of 4k for the week. So all in all, pretty good progress.Now if I can just keep it up with the DNB.

Got together with some friends to do some Labor Day cross-promo; I used to do it a lot for the IBC, but not so much since I haven't had the time to be involved with them. Hopefully the IBC is something I'll be able to get back into since my editing calendar is less full. We exchanged Twitter handles and brief book promos, and posted for each other throughout the Labor Day weekend. Doing it once a day for other people keeps it from being spammy. Some examples:

From Jesi Lea Ryan: Do you believe in psychic powers? Neither did Arcadia...until it began happening to her. #YA #paranormal

From Charlotte Abel: Magic faces off with true love when a young witch is slapped with a chastity curse. ENCHANTMENT by @charlotte_abel

And one from me: Angels, Demons, and everything in between. Check out Vicki Keire's GIFTS OF THE BLOOD, only 99 cents on Amazon:

If you are not already harnessing the power of Twitter as a marketing tool, think about it. Plus it's just fun and a great way to keep in touch with other ROW80 folks through our hashtag, #ROW80. Hoping to spend the rest of the week with either one of my current writing projects, or hopefully both, and catch up on some much needed book reviews and features I've got planned for the blog. Hope everyone's having a great Labor Day weekend!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cover Reveal: Brenna Yovanoff's Paper Valentine

I have a terrible writer's crush on Brenna Yovanoff.

Her first book, The Replacement, drew me in as much for its creepy cover as for its subject matter. It's one of the few YA 1st person male POV books out there, in a genre where there are so few male perspectives that I almost consider it a crisis. I loved it for that alone.

And then came her second book, The Space Between. And oh my. Did I ever love it. Hell, demons, Lilith's oldest daughter, an attempted suicide, and a love story holding it all together.

Now, apparently, she's coming out with a third: something called Paper Valentine, and the fact that its existence slipped past me is a big sign of just how screwed up my life has been lately. Because she is awesome, she is giving away an ARC for posting the cover reveal. Because I am a hopeless fangirl, I am posting the cover in an attempt to win said ARC. I never win anything, though, so it helps that the cover is pritttyyyy enough to warrant a post all on its own.

What is Paper Valentine about? I had to do some digging to come up with a description, as during my searches I turned up nary a blurb. Here is the announcement of the deal as it appeared in Publisher's Weekly, which contains the only bit of content I've been able to find:

NYT bestselling author of THE REPLACEMENT and THE SPACE BETWEEN Brenna Yovanoff’s PAPER  VALENTINE, in which a girl haunted by the troubled ghost of her best friend finds herself sucked into a darkly mesmerizing string of murders, in which a serial killer who leaves a paper-heart ‘valentine’ on his victims’ bodies draws ever closer, again to Ben Schrank and Jocelyn Davies at Razorbill, in a good deal, in a two-book deal, for publication in Spring 2013, by Sarah Davies at the Greenhouse Literary Agency (NA).

 So I suppose that means there will be a sequel? Interesting, as she's only written standalones before now. I can't wait, and may I say, PICK ME!!!! PICK ME!!!!
You can find the original post and contest on Brenna's blog, along with a series of posts about High School Brenna's adventures, told from Adult Brenna's POV.
Brenna's Blog:
Brenna's FaceBeast: (Wow. I'm already her FB friend. Cool.)
Brenna's Twitter: (And now I have a new Twitter friend!)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Midweek Update

So I finally got to start the new book today. It's totally new, unrelated to any ongoing series. I've been really excited and enjoying the hell out of planning, which I've been engaged in all week (and before). But naturally, when I sat down to do the roll-up-my-sleeves part and actually put fingers to keys, the momentum slowed. Still fun, but work, you know? Still. I'm very excited to be starting something new.
So far this week I'm at 1k. Quite a bit to do tomorrow, unrelated to darling New Book, but still vital.
I'm also no longer a full time editor with CQ. In some ways this frees up more time to write, but in other ways, not so much, since that means I am back on the job market in an area where unemployment routinely runs 12-15%. We'll see how it goes. I'm still doing freelance if anyone knows of someone who needs a reasonably priced editor. Beyond that, things are crazy as ever, full of platform building and networking and drama. Oh! And writing. Lots of writing. Because that is, after all, the point, right? Hope everyone's having a good week!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Late ROW80 Update

Late with the update. It's been rather a weird week, and not in a good way. I missed updating on Wednesday, mainly because I hadn't done any writing yet, and didn't feel the need to write a post saying I'd done pretty much nothing. Okay, not nothing. I did manage 300 words, but the rest of the writing took place after Wednesday. I really think my mood is affecting my creative output and I hate it when that happens. The inverse of that is that focusing on my writing will probably have a positive effect on my mood, and that's what I'm aiming for this week. A good solid foundation of back-to-basics writing. Do any of you out there experience that? Mood affecting creativity? Or are you more of the "buckle down and do it no matter what" variety?

On the plus side, I managed to get 3200 words in this past week- one whole chapter. That puts me at Chapter Fourteen in Blood Redemption, well over halfway there. Threads are coming together, characters and relationships are developing nicely, and most importantly, I can see myself typing "the end." When that happens, I will have a whole trilogy under my belt. It's been a long time coming, but it looks like the finish line is in sight, and that's pretty cool.

Managed to get some reading done. I read Abbi Gline's Because of Low, and liked it pretty well. I've been on a contemporary kick, and thought I might see about writing something on that front, but so far just straight contemporary doesn't seem like something that will hold my interest long enough to finish a whole book on it. Nope, my stuff needs to be darker. So I'm thinking along the lines of college aged kids with problems- the kind of thing I mention in my post about the Cinderella Syndrome. Maybe I'll actually have time to work on that book Stacey Wallace Benefiel and I have been planning. That would be cool.

I did read an awesome paranormal series- V.J. Chambers (of whom I am a raging fangirl) just released a new series- The Helicon Muses, and wow, is it ever awesome. The first book is called Dancing Days, and it's like if Hogwarts was a bohemian collective and you realized your boyfriend might be turning into Voldemort. But so much better than my pitiful description. Hopefully I'll get to have her on here for an interview soon. (Inner fangirl goes "squee!") Hope everyone is having a good, creative week. By next update hopefully I'll be back to rocking along!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Books For A Sick Friend

Well, actually, she's not so much sick as recovering from a rather nasty surgery. She's going to be out of commission for weeks, and asked me for book recs. I know she has a Kindle, and I can do e-book recs all day long, but I especially wanted to ask if anyone knew of any print books that were good. If you do, please leave some comment love!

Fabulously Free E-Books on Amazon:

One of my all time favorite Indie books, this novel had a lot to do with me deciding to write again. Yep, it's that good. It also helped me decide to give this Indie thing a try, which may have been one of the smartest things I've ever done.

Blurb:  Jason races into Azazel's life--sweaty, tortured, and hunted by covert forces. Even though her football-player boyfriend doesn't like it, Azazel is drawn to Jason. He's so complicated. He gets in fistfights, but always wins them--efficiently and thoroughly. He reads Plato and argues with their AP teacher. But he's also quiet and serious, haunted by a past he won't talk about. Azazel feels obsessed. She can't let anything get in the way of finding out Jason's secrets, not even her boyfriend, her friends, or her parents. Most importantly, no matter how dangerous Jason claims it is for her to be near him, she can't let him leave. As menace begins to surface from even the most trusted and familiar places, Azazel finds herself flung into a whirlwind of sinister motives and clandestine proceedings. Though Azazel evades each escalating danger, her feelings for Jason may prove to be the greatest danger of all.
Download free from Amazon here

Jenny Pox is maybe one of the best books I've ever read. It's certainly one of the best Indie books out there. It blends a touch of horror with romance and fantasy, and although it was popular as YA for a while (and still is, I suppose), it's definitely geared towards an older audience. 

Blurb: Eighteen-year-old Jenny Morton has a horrific secret: her touch spreads a deadly supernatural plague, the "Jenny pox." She lives by a single rule: Never touch anyone. A lifetime of avoiding any physical contact with others has made her isolated and painfully lonely in her small rural town.
Then she meets the one boy she can touch. Jenny feels herself falling for Seth...but if she's going to be with him, Jenny must learn to use the deadly pox inside her to confront his ruthless and manipulative girlfriend Ashleigh, who secretly wields the most dangerous power of all.

Cheap/ Indie Books on Amazon:

Really great action/adventure and paranormal romance. One of my faves. And sexy, too. (Liz, I'm thinking of you because a lot of this takes place in a hospital setting.)

A woman of science. 
A man of magic. 
Hunted for their HeartsBlood. 
Dr. SalistaCalon knew that she worked in a bad part of San Francisco, but nothing could prepare her for the horror that awaited her at the hospital. 
After her best friend is slaughtered, Salista’s only clue is a mysterious man dressed in leather. A man who claims 
to know not only the secret behind her best friend’s death, but the key to controlling a force that could rend both their worlds... 
Blood Magic. 
Drawn into a world beyond her comprehension and control, Salista must choose between science and magic. 

Loved this one. A fresh take on college age romance and family bonds. 

Blurb: Flat-Out Love is a warm and witty novel of family love and dysfunction, deep heartache and raw vulnerability, with a bit of mystery and one whopping, knock-you-to-your-knees romance.
Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it.
When Julie's off-campus housing falls through, her mother's old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side ... and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.
And there's that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That's because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie's suddenly lonesome soul.

Traditionally Published Books on Amazon:

This book has it all: Action, adventure, repelling off the top of really tall buildings...  

In a future Chicago, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.

My second favorite book of 2011, the writing style reminds me a lot of Robin McKinley's Sunshine. It's also won a bunch of awards.

Blurb: Before Briony's stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family's hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it's become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.
Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He's as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she's extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn't know.

Okay, this is my favorite book/series of all time. I have a series book crush going here, and meeting the author, Melissa Marr, was one of the highlights of my writing career. 

Blurb: Rule #3: Don't stare at invisible faeries.
Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in the mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty - especially if they learn of her Sight - and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.
Rule #2: Don't speak to invisible faeries.
Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.
Rule #1: Don't ever attract their attention.
But it's too late. Keenan is the Summer King, who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost — regardless of her plans or desires.
Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything.
Faery intrigue, mortal love, and the clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in Melissa Marr's stunning twnety-first-century faery tale.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Who I'm Stalking Lately

NOTE: I do not, in any way, "stalk" people in the creepy sense of the word. Having been on the receiving end of some of this kind of behavior in the past, I would never, ever do anything to violate someone's privacy or sense of self. That's just sucky.
Now, disclaimer aside, here's a writer who has really caught my attention- and even more importantly, my imagination- lately.

Abbi Glines
Not only is she a bestselling author of both paranormal and contemporary YA and New Adult, she was recently picked up by Simon and Schuster for her "Vincent Boys" series. I always want to shout when this happens to an Indie author, let alone one as good as Abbi.
Plus her books are just wonderful. I'm still working my way through her catalog, so I haven't read everything, but what really got me stalking her is the fact that she sets a lot of her books in the fictional town of Sea Breeze, Alabama. I currently reside in South Alabama, and am always thrilled to discover a fellow regional author. Plus I used to live in Gulf Shores, just around the bay from Fairhope, which is (I'm almost dead certain) the original setting for Sea Breeze. I also have a Southern town in which I set almost all my books, and the characters interconnect across books, too. So to find another author from the same region who does this too is just awesomesauce.

Where To Find Her::

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

On My Bookshelf

For the first time maybe ever, contemporary YA beats out the paranormal on my TBR list. If I ever get the chance to read again, here are a few of the titles that have made it to the top. (Plus they're pretty):

Monday, August 20, 2012

ROW80: Plenty of "Hand" Action

A late ROW80 update:
1. I hit just under the upper tier of my goal by writing 3500 words this past week. I got my chapter turned in and was mortified to discover that I had 40, yes 40!!! instances of the word "hand(s)" in my ms. Talk about a lot of hand action ;) But thank god my editor has the patience of a saint. Between the two of us, we managed to knock it down to about 13 occurrences. I am now "hand" phobic. Here are the final results: 

2. Once again I failed at writing on more than one project at once. I am giving myself two weeks to correct this issue before I look at changing my goal on this permanently for the rest of the round. I hate to do that, but I also hate posting "I failed at this" every single stinking week. This is the writing challenge that deals with real life, right? So no point  in making it a wish list for the life I don't have. I have to deal with what's actually happening. So we'll see if I can turn it around. 

3. I read this week, and felt terribly guilty about it. But really, (and I probably say this about every book I read these days) it was genre research! I pinky swear! See, I wrote this post about changing trends in YA fiction (The Cinderella Syndrome), and decided I wanted to know a little more, so I've been checking out the bestselling Indie YA contemporaries lately. I read Easy by Tammara Webber, and liked it pretty well. I think I'll move on to Abbi Glines next, since she's so darn popular AND she's from Alabama too. Or at least she writes about it, setting the majority of her series in an Alabama coastal town. Didn't know we had a coast? ;) Well, we do, and it's da** beautiful. We used to live there, hurricanes and all, and my youngest was born there. So it'll be nice to return.

4. Actually squeezed in an extra post this week! Hurrah! It was the aforementioned "Cinderella Syndrome in YA Fiction," and I was pretty pleased with both the traffic and the subject matter. Apparently other people have had their fill of the paranormal too. Tune in later this week when I work in another blog post- Dark SciFi writer Michael Shean will be visiting, discussing his latest release Bone Wires and chatting about serialized fiction and other interesting things. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Cinderella Syndrome in YA Fiction

So I've noticed that popular YA novels are taking a new direction lately. For so long we've been inundated with paranormal "creature" books, where 1. the boyfriend is some kind of werewolf, ghost, fairy, vampire, or Other (I've even heard of harpies); 2. The main character, almost always a girl, discovers she has "powers;" 3. The girl discovers she is a "creature" too.

In the last few weeks I've noticed a definite trend towards realism. And not just "real life" kind of stuff, like boyfriends and high school drama, but a gritty realism that leaves me reeling. These books feature girls with problems, including abuse and other types of trauma, but almost always have a happy ending in which the MC is saved by a boy. I call this the Cinderella Syndrome, because the boys who save them tend to come from perfect families with plenty of money. There are exceptions to this, of course; Fisher Amelie's Callum and Harper comes to mind, in which both the boy and girl are unwanted orphans. Chelsea Fine's Sophie and Carter is another example. Told in alternating POVs, both the MCs come from troubled, poor families. But these books still follow the same basic premise of the Cinderella Syndrome: the boy saves the girl from a terrible life.

But Cinderella is an enduring, well loved fairy tale for a reason. I love both the books listed above. They're well written and engaging. I encourage all of you to go out and read them. (And leave a review! Indies depend on those.) In fact, I find myself almost embarrassed by how much I love this new trend. I'm drawn to these books more than any others right now. These Cinderella heroines show their strength simply by enduring. They survive situations that would break most people. So maybe I shouldn't analyze my impulses too much. Maybe it's enough to simply want the fairy tale for a while.

More Must Reads in YA Realism:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wrapping It Up . . .

So I'm at the midpoint of the book I'm working on, and this wave of exhaustion just suddenly hit me. So much to do- my son's open house tomorrow, where we have to do all the official school stuff like rent a locker, meet teachers, and try to wrestle a tuba out of thin air. (Those things are hard to find. Seriously.) Then my daughter has to pick up her school-issued laptop from another school across the city. It's the last possible day to work on my chapter for the week, and I know I'm going to have to cook dinner because Daniel is working late. And I have this editing I'm doing, an apocalypse piece, that's due, too. (Shakes fist at universe.) I mean, I'm glad the kids are going back to school because ultimately it will free up time and give much needed structure back to our days, but wow, is it a bitch getting ready. At least we have the school supply shopping done.

Deep breath. Rant over. I think.

So my point is that I'm wrapping it up for the day thank god, and also thinking about the wrap-up for my book. I'm over half way there. It's hard to believe, because the cliche about "it feels like only yesterday" is really true right now. I like that I've done it in installments. It's been manageable, doing a chapter a week. If I can do that every week, that's like two full-length novels a year, and I can maybe even squeeze a novella or short story in there too. So I'm really pleased with how that ROW80 goal is working out. Not so pleased that I seem incapable of working on two projects at once, because I have a burning deadline on another book I've way overshot. But I've written for more days than I'm used to this week, so that's good. That means maybe there's hope for doing two things at once. Why can I juggle a gazillion things in my normal life, but not manage two in writing? That's been a goal I've been really struggling with. But! I refuse to throw in the towel yet. I am determined to evolve.

Word count? 2200 so far. And I have more to do tomorrow. But it feels good to realize that I've hit the lower end of my goal already, and the week's only half done. Maybe I'll be able to carve out another couple of days of hard writing this week. I'm tempted to keep on going tonight but I'm really hearing the siren song of the sandman. And obviously I've managed to squeeze a post in, albeit a scattered one. That's already an improvement in my goals, since I went so long without posting this past month.

Mmm. I'm going to shut up now, as I seem to be going monosyllabic. Hope everyone is better rested than me! Thanks for stopping by.

Update! 3500 words total so far before bed. Woot woot!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Long Time, No Post!

I don't know why I've had such a hard time keeping up with ROW80 posts this round. Posting regularly is clearly the biggest challenge I'm facing. On all the other ones- word count, progress on my novel/ serial, I'm doing okay.

Well, I guess I do know the reason why I've fallen behind with posts. I've been swamped under with editing this round, which really has been more like a full time day job at this point. But all that editing seems to be sharpening my own writing, or at least making it easier to spot mistakes.

I've managed to make word count every week this round. Some weeks it's been my minimum of 2k, and some weeks I've hit that upper tier of 4k. This week, it was in between, for a total of roughly 3k. I haven't been writing as many days as I would like, but hopefully I'll get a chance to work on that. I envy all my writer friends who manage to make time to write every day. How do you guys do it?

Haven't had a lot of time for reading either, over the last few weeks, but what I have read I've really enjoyed.  Finished the Time Spirit trilogy by Melissa Pearl. Highly recommended. Also read a Regency romance. One of my areas of specialization in school was literature of the Regency period, so it's always fun to return to that time period, although I don't read it nearly as much as I used to. I was a bit disappointed in Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan, but you can't win them all.

As for the shred of my weekend that remains, we're having steak for dinner and I've got a date with my hot tub. After I finish editing, that is. :) Hope everyone has a great week!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Update

1. I hit the upper tier of my word count goal this week- 4k! Unfortunately, I *still* didn't write for as many days as I would like. I would really like to add in another two days per week. I've found, when I'm not under deadline, that 1k is a good comfortable goal, but that when the heat is on I an write as much as 3k-4k in one day. I'd like to find a balance in between the two, so that I'm writing 2k even when I don't have a deadline.

2. Reading- no time to read, although I did find a YA SF book I'm dying to sink my teeth into called Glow. I swear my TBR pile is going to crush me one day. I tried for a little bit to get into The Night Circus, but so far it's failed to hold my interest. I have to admit, I am kinda getting over the whole paranormal thing, and am eager to see my writing (and reading tastes) go in new directions. I've had this dark SF book kicking around for a while now. I even have some of it already written, and pretty much the whole thing plotted out. It's just a matter of finishing my current projects first before I jump into it. (Beware seductive plot bunnies). Have also thought quite extensively about a contemporary YA, but none of that summer love stuff. Nope, in my contemporary YA universe, people have serious problems. Like mental illness and alcoholism and poverty and stuff. 

3. Editing- I'm involved in this massive editing project right now. It's taking up quite a bit of time because it's just so long, but it's also the sequel to something I've read before, so I'm eager to see how it ends. The end is just so . . . far away. But I will get there, and all will be well. Incidentally, I've noticed that all this editing is really helping me with my own writing- I'm catching more mistakes, and things like repetition and pacing seem to be getting better on the first go. 

4. Marketing- I still have no idea why, but my two Indie pubbed books are on week two of being on bestsellers lists on Amazon. The two books together are consistently sitting on five different bestseller categories, and this during a time of year when I'm supposed to be experiencing a slump. The only thing I can figure is that the two books are ties to the serial I'm currently writing for my publisher, and that's generated some extra interest. Still haven't touched the price points, and I'm sure that helps some too, although I do plan to raise prices one day in the not-too-far future. 

5. Totally random aside: they are laying fiber optic cable in the neighborhood, which I'm happy about because it means another cable company is moving in. (For years there has only been one provider for the whole area). That's wonderful- competition in the market is going to be a healthy thing, and who knows, maybe we'll even switch services after years of the tyranny of one company. However, it does mean the internet may be going in and out some, which sucks. They also tend not to tell you when your internet may go out, so that's a double suck. But hopefully such interruptions will be miraculously few in nature. All of this is to say, if I drop off Facebook or can't be reached on chat, just shoot me an email and I'll get right back to you. I'm not ignoring anyone on purpose!

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with how the week has worked out. Hope everyone else is having a good week, and I'll see you all next check-in, if not before.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stress and Writing

This one will be brief, I swear. I've got too much to do still. I was pretty much a failure at writing this week. I have been under a ton of stress lately with things that are completely life related, and I discovered I have a much harder time writing when my stress level is high. Not impossible, just not as easy or fun. So I didn't write this week until today. Ok, wait, that's not true- I did maybe five hundred rough words sometime earlier this week. I can't even remember when.

 But today, I knew I had to get this chapter knocked out, since I do have a deadline. I sat down and wrote a total of about 3500, bringing me closer to my weekly goal of 4k. The problem is that it is yet unedited, and I know I will probably wind up cutting 1k or so words from it. I guess we'll see on Sunday how it went. The real disappointment for me was that I ddin't get in as many actual writing days as I would like. Word count is one thing, but I envy writers who have established writing days. I think it would make me more productive, but most importantly, I think it would make me feel like more of a professional. This week has just been a real disappointment with my goals, because to me, sneaking in a very fast 3500 rought draft just isn't a good foundation to build a career on. So here's hoping the rest of the week goes better! How about everyone else? How did you do this week?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Reading, Writing, and Rock n Roll: Sunday Update

I always think I'm going to keep these posts brief, and then I wind up going way over that. So today I'm not even going to pretend! Also, I found this neat picture I've been playing with in Photoshop. It has nothing to do with anything, except that I like it cause it's cool, and it inspires me somewhat. Just wanted to add a pretty to this post!

Writing: I finished that 2600 word chapter earlier in the week, and would you believe it? My editor had no problems with it whatsoever. It posted on Friday with no corrections of any kind! I don't think that's ever happened before. So that made me happy. Since then, I've had mixed luck: I wrote roughly 500 useable words yesterday, and another 1163 in freewriting. The freewriting morphed, as it so often does, into something even more useful: a detailed outline for the next chapter (or maybe even two). So we'll see how that goes- I'm planning on working on it today, right after this post. Oh, I supose I should add up the total: 3100 useable words this week, which is closer to my 4k goal, but not quite there. I also didn't write on as many days I would have liked, but that's ok, there's always next week.

Editing: Had the pleasure of editing a charming little book that will be published by CQ in the coming months. I hesitate to call out individual authors that I edit; I'm not sure why, but it feels like a violation of privacy, which is why I am so often close-mouthed about my editing life. But this little story by the amazing Thea Gregory just made me want to crow- she's one to watch if you like sci fi.
I did pull out an old ms of mine- The Ressurrection of Blake House- which is supposed to be a short, romantic ghost story, definitely aimed at adults. Every now and then I'll pull it out and tinker with it, in the hopes that there is something I could do to salvage it. But I had to admit, yet again, after hours of playing with it, that it just isn't worth saving at this spoint in my life. It would take more effort than I could put into it, and I had to admit the sex scenes were just... cardboard. That's not really my genre, after all, so maybe it's for the best. It's always sad to have to completely trash a whole project, though.

Reading: Finished all three books in Melisa Pearl's Time Spirit trilogy. I posted about this for the last ROW80 update- the first book, Golden Blood, is available on Smashwords for free right now. Well, I loved it so much I had to get the other two: Black Blood and Pure Blood. They were fairly quick, easy reads, but this didn't detract from the quality of the writing. I also read Chelsea Fine's Sophie and Carter, which actually made me cry. If you're looking for a good sentimental YA contemporary romance, you can't go wrong with this one. It also was short, and I finished the whole thing in bed before falling asleep. I love it when I can kill a story in one shot; it makes me feel less guilty about the other things I should be doing. Like writing!

Writing music: I look for very particular things in my writing music. It has to be upbeat enough to keep me feeling energized, but it also has to be able to blend into the background for when I get really immersed in the writing. I found this one awesome band out of Asheville, NC called River Whyless, and they have their cd on sale for "name your price," so you can literally buy it for $0. They call themselves "Baroque Folk," but don't let that fool you; it definitely rocks along.
Incidentally, I had a writing teacher once who told me he liked to listen to jazz when he wrote, and that was one way he could tell how intensely he was writing. He'd take a break or come to the end of a section and realize he hadn't heard half the album, and that was how he knew he'd been lost to the muse.

Book marketing: I don't know why, but two of my books have been in the top 100 in five different categories this week. I mean, these are books that are two years and a year and a half old, for crying out loud. They've always been my best sellers, but had settled down in sales for a while. I just kind of expect that with backlists, you know? So that's why I have no idea why they've taken off this weekend, but boy am I grateful. They're both full length novels priced at 99 cents, and I'm toying with the idea of raising the prices, even though that will most likely mean a rankings drop. Eventually, I'm going to make the first book totally free, since the third and final book should be out this fall. I tend to not experiment with pricing too much, and would love any insight people have into the matter.

Well, that is my epic update. I hope everyone had a great weekend, and here's to an even better week to come!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Friday the 13th Giveaway!

Here at The Ides of March we love Friday the 13th- it's kinda spooky and lots of fun. So what better time for a giveaway? A Rafflecopter giveaway, no less. And we all know how much I love the Rafflecopter. The prize is a digital copy of the awesome Nina Post's One Ghost Per Serving- what a great title for Friday the 13th, right? So without further ado, here's the blurbage:

 Possessed by Rex, a mischievous spirit, Eric Snackerge’s life has careened out of control. Losing his scholarship and getting blacklisted from the legal profession are just the start – now his best-friend-turned-enemy is in danger of stealing away his family, too. An unusual contest may be his last chance to make his daughter’s dreams come true. But he’ll have to overcome his own self-doubt — not to mention the seemingly impossible odds — in order to achieve that goal. As Eric and his ghostly companion soon learn, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill sweepstakes. When the sponsors begin dispatching spy cameras, attack helicopters, and the kitchen sink – all to make sure that Eric doesn’t get any further – it becomes clear that the contest is only the first phase of a much larger, sinister plan to spread a supernatural pathogen throughout the food supply. Do Eric and Rex have what it takes to foil the villains’ plan and protect the Snackerge family from becoming the next victims?

 And don't forget the Rafflecopter! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Update and Free Book Giveaways!

Got up unreasonably early this morning, and I'm really tired, so I'll keep this brief.
Word Count:
Monday: wrote about 1100 words, some of which I wound up ditching. This is because I started out freewriting, and then the freewriting kind of morphed into an actual draft while I was doing it. It's amazing how often this happens when I freewrite. I should change the name to freedrafting :)
Tuesday: wrote another 2200 words, many of which I ditched. See freewriting/ drafting above! But after I pruned and nurtured, I wound up with a chapter I was pretty proud of. It's currently off at the editor's and I hope she likes it as much as I do! But then, isn't that what we all want from our editors?
Grand total: I wound up with a roughly 2600 words chapter. This leaves me halfway to my goal of 4k, two chapters per week. I've already written two days this week, and I'm not sure if I'll be able to write today, I'm that tired. There's always Thursday and Friday, and then I will have acheived my goal of writing more days per week. But then who knows- I may surprise myself and get a second wind! I also wrote another 600 word proposal for an anthology I've had kicking around in my head. It felt good to get it out of my head and onto paper, which is, of course, the first step to making it actually happen. More on that later, if the powers that be like my idea.

Editing: working on a story that I absolutely love so far. Yay to the amazing Thea Gregory! It's such a treat to edit a book that's right in sync with my tastes and genre.

Blogging: I haven't missed a ROW80 check in yet! And I plan to do a Friday post, because it's (drumroll) free Starbucks day! So I think I'll do a Friday Finds post. But I just wanted to give a head's up to everyone that Starbucks will be giving away free Refreshers chillers from noon to three on Friday.

Reading: I hardly ever do this anymore, because of the writing and editing obligations. However, I picked up this free book through the Smashwords sale that's going on, called Golden Blood. It's about a family of time travelers, and of course it's YA and there's a love story element. I'm barely halfway through, but I'm loving it so far. Then I checked and saw it had two sequels, all priced at $2.99! What a way to hook a reader, right? It makes me think about going free with my first book, and charging more for the sequels. It's a strategy that I know is working for some friends of mine, so maybe I'll give it a whirl. Eventually. At any rate, be sure to check out the Smashwords sale! Also, there's a big free book drive going on through the IBC if you have a Kindle- The Heat Wave Free Par-tay. I've participated in this program before, and also use it to gobble up free books every time they have one, so be sure to check it out!

I did say I was keeping this brief, didn't I? Oh well. maybe I'm perking up and I'll get to that writing after all. Hope everyone is having a great week.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

ROW80: Finding a Rhythm

A really productive week so far. It's not just the word count, which has been rockin' along. It's more that I'm getting back into the swing of things after having been out of them for so long.

Some of you may not know I wear another hat- that of an editor at CQ Press, who've also published my books. (The publishing part came first; the editorship followed). They're a great bunch of folks over there- as supportive and nice a group of people as I could ask for. So this is totally not their fault, but for a while I lost sight of the fact that I had to be a writer first. I let the editing consume me and neglected the writing. And for me, that's a kind of slow artistic death. I forgot what happens when I don't write- it's not pretty. I get cranky and depressed and am, in general, not the best me I can be.

So I had to do some life restructuring. For me, that meant learning to say no, and letting go of some professional affiliations. It also meant trying to find some balance in my personal life- I've had a sick family member, and that has taken up some time, too. All of these are things people struggle with everyday, I know, but I really let myself lose sight of what's important for a while there.

So, for me, what does getting back into the swing of things look like? Well, let's start with word count: I wrote: 1200, 700, and 2600 words this week, spread out over a three-day period, for a grand total of (eek! math!) 4500 words. This falls well within my range of 2k minimum, 4k hopeful. Yay! I made my upper limit during the first week! I am thinking a new goal for the rest of the challenge is to increase the number of days I write, while keeping the word count where it is. Instead of three, let's try at least four this week, just as a test, and I'll see how it goes.

Happy writing, everyone! This is a blog hop, and you can catch up with the other participants here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4th of July Check-In

Happy July 4th, everyone, for those of us who celebrate the holiday.
Just wanted to do a quick check-in. I have a words count of:
Tuesday: @1200 words, although this was on a WIP that's not part of my goals. It was still fun to write!
Today: 685 so far, and hopefully more later on. I have  a deadline for a story fast approaching, and I've got to whip out a chapter in a couple of days. It's going well so far, although I suspect it will need some editing when done. Maybe even lots of it, but the words are flowing like water (albeit rough water), and that's always a good thing.
Grilled out today, and now we're going to shoot off some fireworks. Today was also the day we discovered the new puppies hate fireworks. They've been barking up a storm. But other than that, a pretty good day. Hope everyone had a good day too, and I'm looking forward to our check-in on Sunday. Hopefully I'll have a lot more progress to report.

This is a blog hop! Check out the progress of the other participants here!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Why I Can't Live Without ROW80

So, I tried sitting out this past round, and let me tell you, it was an abysmal disaster. Not that I didn't get things done- I managed to finish a serialized novella (Daughter of Glass) that will be relased as an ebook through Curiosity Quills Press. I almost finished the third book in my Chronicles of Nowhere series, and then realized it just wasn't a good enough end to the series, and had to back track with it. I am currently serializing the third Angel's Edge book, Blood Redemption. The response to this has been overwhelmingly positive, although I know there are fans who want it yesterday. (Sorry folks, I'm doing my best here.) And in the meantime, they can read for free until it comes out in final format.

But I missed out on a lot of things by sitting out of ROW80. Here are just a few:
1. Accountability
I'm the kind of person who needs to tell on herself every now and then. If I don't, my issues, whatever they are, tend to fester. This is doubly true with writing. I need to admit when I'm getting off track, otherwise it just becomes a messy downward spiral. ROW80 gives me that space, along with a whole group of people who can call me out when I need it, or encourage me when I need that too.
2. Support
ROW80 is a really thriving community of writers of all levels and types- beginners, the almost there, those with several books under their belt, the self- or indie- pubbed, and the traditionally published. I really missed the twice-weekly support and encouragement of these fine folks. Some of them have even become good friends.
3. Blogging
I really slacked off on my blogging. ROW80 makes me sit down and blog at least twice a week. This past round, the one I sat out? I was lucky to update once a month. I love blogging and miss it. I think of it as both a personal journal and a way to stay in practice with my writing. Not to mention staying in touch with readers and fans! So I'm looking forward to the twice weekly check-ins. And who knows- once I'm back in the habit, I'm sure I'll do more than just the required check ins.

So now that I'm climbing back into the saddle, what goals do I have planned for this round?
1. Word count
Probably the most important thing ROW80 helps me with. I'm doing a serial right now, so that forces me to write a chapter a week. I usually aim for roughly 2k words when I write chapters; that just feels like a good natural length for me. Usually I wind up going over that, but a couple of times I've come in under. So that's a bare minimum goal- 2k a week. However, I also have another book I'm working on, so I would like to see about getting my output to 4k a week or more. This is something I'm willing to feel out at this point. I'm also an editor and a mom and just starting back with the ROW80 routine, so I don't want to overdo it. That's the other beauty of this writing group- you can change your goals if they aren't working for you.
2. WIPs
I'm going to continue with Blood Redemption, obviously. However, my big goal this round is to finish the third Chronicles of Nowhere book. I'm sick of pounding my head into the keyboard over it. Hopefully this group and adherence to my goals with get me there without the forehead bruises!
3. Blogging
Blog at least twice a week for the check-ins, but try and include a Free Friday post of some kind. Also, by participating in the blog hop that is such a core feature of the group, I'll be able to read other's blogs more than I have been.

I think that's it for this first post of the new round. I'm really glad to be back!
Oh, and one last shameless plug: the first two books of the Angel's Edge series are free now on Amazon, and will be tomorrow too. So snag yourself some free boks if you haven't read them! And thanks for dropping by. Oh, and here's the link to catch up with the rest of the group. See you Wednesday!