Monday, December 9, 2019

First 50 Critique - YA/Fantasy #2


For all the details of how this works, click here.  We are NOT accepting entries this week.  But if you want to enter when we DO open the entry period, you must post a critique on at least TWO previous entries before you'll be able to submit.

Reminder: Be nice, but be honest. [Comments that are not polite/respectful will be deleted.] What would YOU like to know if this was YOUR first 50 words? Do you think it's a good opening line for the category/genre? Does it have a hook? Does it pull you into the story? Do you want to read more? Why or why not? Be specific, so your critique helps the person who wrote the entry.

Here's this week's entry.

First 50 Words - YA/Fantasy/Speculative #2

I hope I’ll survive high school without being hauled off by the government’s newest taskforce. The vice-principal whispered to the cafeteria guy about today’s raid. Only one state away. I wonder if someone else I know was taken? As if the first day of high school isn’t stressful enough. 


Thursday, December 5, 2019

The Next Step...


Welcome to December!

Hopefully those of you who were doing NaNo achieved your goals. And even if you didn’t get to 50K, you still have more written than you did on 31 October which is a win  in my book! I surprised myself and managed just under 60K in November.  My book isn’t finished yet, but I figure I have only another 15K or so to go.  I aim to be done by Christmas so I can enjoy my summer holiday (I live in New Zealand so Christmas is in summer) without that hanging over me.

Last week O’Abby had a question about what to do once you’ve finished your NaNo book and I outlined some ideas about revising that first draft (here) and promised we’d talk about the next step this week.  So here goes.

Once your book is revised and polished and your readers can’t find any more major flaws, you need to decide what publishing route is right for you and your book.

If you want to be traditionally published by one of the big publishing houses you will need to find a literary agent as most of these publishers don’t accept manuscripts directly from authors.  There are numerous agents and they all represent different types of books.  Research is required to ensure you find one who will be able to sell your book.  There are a number of websites that can help you with your search.  I would recommend Query Tracker as a useful tool, and for finding our what different agents are actively looking for, MSWL.  Once you’ve found a few agents you’re interested in, I suggest you follow them on Twitter to see what they’re looking for and if you think you might be compatible with them.  Picking the wrong agent is worse than having no agent, so it’s worth going in with as much knowledge as possible.

If you are someone who likes control, self-publishing might be the best route for you.  It’s hard work because every part of the process is in your hands, from editing, to cover design to publicity and marketing.  But you get a bigger cut of the royalties from your sales and you can control when your book releases, what it looks like, the price and pretty much everything else about the process.  I would suggest though, you get a professional editor and cover designer to work with you because readers notice shoddy editing, and a bad cover gives the wrong first impression of your book and can kill sales.

The third option is to publish with a small press.  Most of these do not require an agent to submit so you can contact them directly.  There are a large number of small presses, some which specialize in particular genres and styles and others that publish a broad range of titles.  Some are digital only which means if you’ve always dreamed of having your book on library and bookshop shelves, this isn’t going to happen.  Like everything else, I suggest you do your research before sending your manuscript to any small press.  Some have very limited distribution channels and some only do print copies on demand.  Some have hidden costs associated with their services and should be treated with care.  You will also likely have to drive the bulk of marketing and publicity yourself as most small presses have limited resources for this.

How you publish is not a decision to take lightly, so take your time and do your research.  And don't get discouraged by rejections.  They are just part of the process and while they sting, they won't kill you.  After a while you will be able to brush them off like any other annoyance, as crazy as that might sound to you now.  I can say that because I've had close to 300 rejections in my writing career, and expect more each and every time I send a new manuscript out into the world.

And I'm still breathing!

Feel free to get in touch if you have any follow-up questions.

X O'Abby

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Jacqueline Firkins' Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions at Operation Awesome

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins
Goodreads


1- Would you please tell us more about the "fully twirl-able" book inspired dresses on your Instagram feed?
Jacqueline Firkins' Debut Author Spotlight

I have a distinct tremor and I’m therefore a terrible photographer. This makes IG a challenging platform for me. When I was thinking about what I could post there, I reminded myself that as a costume designer, I’m a visual artist. I should use that to my advantage on a visual platform. So I set about creating costumes—or in this case book themed dresses—that would echo the feel of the book I was releasing while employing my primary skill set. I also love building party dresses and sending them off to events, making someone feel joyous or beautiful during a memorable moment. I’ll be giving away the dresses over the next few months, hoping they help a few girls feel the way my main character does when she puts on her dream dress.

2- Would you please, in 160 characters or less, give a #WriteTip ?

Accept feedback. Be willing to listen to how your words read. Then find a way to balance that feedback with your own inner voice. Easier said than done.

3- What ignited your passion for writing?

I’ve always been a storyteller, but in my career as a costume designer, I tell stories visually rather than verbally. There’s nothing I love better than developing worlds and characters, especially if I can do so with a group of collaborators. About 10 years ago I developed Essential Tremor. My motor skills decreased and I came to grips with the reality that drawing and doing detailed sewing work wouldn’t always be possible. I considered how else I might use my skills, training, and passion. Rather than take a script and extract the characters within, I began developing my own characters. Pretty soon the hours spent over a sewing machine shifted into hours with a laptop as my brain burst with ideas begging to hit the page.

4- What about Mansfield, Massachusetts, inspired you to use it as a setting?

I knew I wanted a New England setting. I went to grad school in Connecticut and I’ve worked in most of the surrounding states, so I had some familiarity with the area. There’s a sense of history and formality that worked well for paralleling Austen’s world. The name nailed it, and the size of the city is right for the scale of the story. That said, with all due apologies to any locals, I invented a lot that doesn’t exist in the real Mansfield, creating a hybrid of the real town and the settings that served the story.

5- What's your Twitter handle, and do you have two or three writer friends on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?

I’m @jfkillsdarlings. I’ve connected with so many fabulous debut writers this year, but three who are consistently supportive, caring, and fun, brightening the Twitterverse are: @KT_Gabriel, @HastingSamantha, @LauraTNamey

6- Would you share a picture with us of your book with a dress?
Jacqueline Firkins' Debut Author Spotlight

7- If someone hasn't read Jane Austen, which book of hers would you suggest the person should read first?

I love them all. The only one I wouldn’t start with is Northanger Abbey because it’s less representative of her tone than the others. Emma and P&P have the feistier heroines. Persuasion and Mansfield Park have the quieter ones. S&S has one of each.

8- What most motivates you to read a new book?

This year I’ve been reading almost entirely debut novels in YA and MG. It’s been a great way to get to know my new community. Most of the time I either read books by people I know or that are recommended by people I know.

9- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!

I’m a classics geek, but for living authors nothing’s stuck with me quite like:
Author name:Philip Pullman @PhilipPullman
Title: His Dark Materials series
Love because: They’re intensely creative worlds, and they take us on a deep dive into society, religion, class, gender, ecology, and politics all within a spectacularly entertaining adventure saga.


10- Who is currently your biggest fan? What does that person love most (or "ship") about your debut novel?

I often consider my closest friends my family, and I have an “honorary auntie” (she signs her emails HA) in the Vancouver area. She’s an avid reader of all genres and a brilliant writer as well. She was the first to read my messy early draft of Hearts, Strings and she’s supported me through every revision, cheering me on when my self doubt threatened to topple the enterprise altogether. She’s said that my book feels relatable and hopeful for teen girls, that it speaks to some of their pressures and challenges in an authentic but entertaining way.


11- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader, and is there a particular scene you hope will resonate with readers?

Mostly I hope my book makes people smile. It’s meant to be entertaining. There’s grief and there’s heartbreak, but hopefully there’s laughter, too, and a few joyous kissing scenes. I try to merge humour with hardship, so the “feels” run in tandem.

12- Do you have a favorite #bookstagram image or account/ profile?

There are so many talented bookstagrammers. I was pretty overwhelmed when I joined the site. My fave though is Carmen @tomesandtextiles. As both a costumer and writer, I’m naturally drawn to the way she combines clothes and books in her imagery. She’s also an intelligent, passionate, supportive, articulate voice for the community. She does it all.

13- How do you hope your book will help readers in their life?

I love romances. I read them voraciously. But so many focus around girls who are beautiful and guys who are strong. I’d like to diversify that narrative for readers who don’t self-identify with those traits. When I was teenager I assumed I didn’t deserve romantic love because I wasn’t like the heroines in the love stories I encountered. Boys fell for girls because of how they looked. I want to write stories for and about other kinds of girls. Whether or not my heroines are considered conventionally pretty, their looks aren’t pivotal to their love stories. I hope that if readers see more stories like that out there, maybe they’ll find themselves represented in ways that help them avoid the crippling self-doubt I suffered.

14- What is the most memorable trait or visual oddity of one of your characters?

Edie spends much of the novel clinging tenaciously to her sneakers while her cousins try to make her over. It’s my way of playing with the Cinderella motif that weaves through the source material. Edie gets her glass slippers, but she knows in her heart that only one pair of shoes will bring her closer to the kind of love she really wants: the shoes in which she most feels like herself.

15- diversebooks.org #WeNeedDiverseBooks What's your favorite book with a diverse main character?

I read Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone this past spring and was blown away. She uses familiar fantasy tropes but she draws on cultural traditions we don’t see as often within the genre. Her writing is so strong, her magic unique, her world building immersive, her characters flawed but relatable. She’s a genius. And the afterward will break you.


16- Who is your favorite book review blogger?

https://recitrachel.com (though I *may* be biased because we have matching dogs)

17- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?
Jacqueline Firkins' Debut Author Spotlight

I’m not the best judge of my own work. Before I put my writing into the world, I wanted an editorial process to ensure the work was as strong as possible before reaching potential readers. As a theatre artist, I’m also accustomed to working collaboratively. My work is always better for the input of others. Therefore I went traditional, mustering patience until the right manuscript found the right editor, who could identify the weaknesses in the story and draw out the strengths.

18- Why do you think readers should write book reviews?

People should write reviews to create a culture of response to a work, providing links between readers who are looking for their next story dive. It takes a lot of kind, articulate responses to combat the generic, mean ones, but together we can create a community of readers who are truly invested in sharing their ideas about stories with each other. Whether a response is positive or negative, being able to frame it in a way that helps direct other readers is a gift to the reading community. Be honest. But be kind. Authors are human too.

19- Do you have one question or discussion topic which you would like the readers of this interview to answer or remark on in the comments?

What stories would you like to see retold that you haven’t encountered already?

20- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?

Website: http://jacquelinefirkins.com

Twitter and IG: @jfkillsdarlings jfkillsdarlings

Blurb:


Mansfield, Massachusetts is the last place seventeen-year-old Edie Price wants to spend her final summer before college. It’s the home of wealthy suburbanites and prima donnas like Edie’s cousins, who are determined to distract her from her mother’s death with cute boys and Cinderella-style makeovers. Edie has her own plans, and they don’t include a prince charming.
But as Edie dives into schoolwork and applying for college scholarships, she finds herself drawn to two Mansfield boys who start vying for her attention. First there's Sebastian, Edie’s childhood friend and first love. He’s sweet and smart and . . . already has a girlfriend. Then there's Henry, the local bad boy and all-around player. He’s totally off limits, even if his kisses are chemically addictive.
Both boys are trouble. Edie can’t help but get caught between them. Someone's heart is going to break. Now she just has to make sure it isn't hers.
Jacqueline Firkins' Debut Author Spotlight

Bio:


I'm a writer, costume designer, and lover of beautiful things. I'm on the fulltime faculty in the Department of Theatre & Film at the University of British Columbia where I also take any writing class they’ll let me into. When not obsessing about where to put the buttons or the commas, I can be found running by the ocean, eating excessive amounts of gluten, listening to earnest love songs, and pretending my dog understands every word I say.
My website contains some of my comics and costume designs. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for me, keep your eyes posted for an insanely cute dog, a tired sewing machine, and a large compliment of neuroses. I’ll be nearby.


Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins
Goodreads

Monday, December 2, 2019

First 50 Critique - YA/Fantasy #1

When ya gotta write, ya gotta write!

We are accepting your entries this week!

Category/genre:  Young adult [YA] Fantasy

For full details on how to enter, click here.

First, you must comment on at least two previous First 50 Critique entries.  Today's can be one of them.

Second, send us an email formatted as follows:

[Subject:] First 50 Critique – YA/Fantasy

The following 50 words are my own work and I give OA permission to post it on the OA blog for the life of the blog.

I commented on the entries posted on DATE and DATE as [your online ID].

My first 50 words:

[Copy/paste your first 50 words here.]


Entry period opens now and closes at the end of the day on Wednesday December 4, 2019. All entries will receive a confirmation email from us by Friday December 6, 2019 that acknowledges receipt of your entry and, if you've complied with all requirements, lets you know what date it will be included on the blog for critique. If you do NOT receive a confirming email by Saturday December 7, 2019, send us a DM on Twitter and we'll give you alternative instructions for sending us your entry.

[Don't worry all you writers of fiction for adults.  Last time we had an adult category we didn't receive any entries, but we'll try again soon.]

Also, if you want to see this feature continued, YOU NEED TO LEAVE A CRITIQUE.  We want need everyone to participate.  This includes YOU.

Now on to this week's entry!

Reminder: Be nice, but be honest. [Comments that are not polite/respectful will be deleted.] What would YOU like to know if this was YOUR first 50 words? Do you think it's a good opening line for the category/genre? Does it have a hook? Does it pull you into the story? Do you want to read more? Why or why not? Be specific, so your critique helps the person who wrote the entry.

First 50 Critique – YA/Fantasy #1

The High Street. I'm sprinting. Freezing drizzle needles my face. Footfalls and jeers behind me - Spatula and her athletics club vultures. Gaining. Already too close.

I won't make it home.

I need to hide.

I tear past betting shops and pawnbrokers, the pound shop. Round the corner. Then see it.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Flash Fiction Contest #44


Are you behind in NaNoWriMo? Here's an opportunity to catch up!

National Novel Writing Month is an incredible (and stressful) time in which us eccentric bibliophiles attempt to write 50,000 words in a single month. I, for one, am majorly behind in my own word count and wanted to offer some positive motivation for those who are struggling too, or just want to write more for the prospect of #winning.

This Flash Fiction Friday, your task is to write 500 words of your current NaNo novel. It's not exactly a flash fiction prompt, but competition always lights a fire under our butts, right? ;)

Prompt: NaNo Novel Chapter of Choice

Word Count: 500

Deadline: Sunday, December 1st 2019


Happy Writing! May the best insomniac win!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Dear O'Abby: I'm going to finish NaNo. What next?

Dear O’Abby,

This is my first time doing NaNo and I’m pretty close to finishing my book. I’m super excited about it because I’ve never written a book before. But I was wondering, what do I when it’s finished? Send it to publishers? Do you have any advice for a newbie?

Yours,

Noob


Dear Noob,

Firstly, congratulations on finishing a book! That’s a fantastic achievement and one you should be very proud of.

But finishing a novel is really only the first step in the writing process so please don’t rush off and send your freshly finished manuscript to anyone.

The first thing you need to do is let that manuscript sit for a few weeks. Don’t look at it. Write something else or plan something else. Take a break and do something not writing-related for a while. Whatever you want to do except looking over that book you just wrote. I like to give my manuscripts at least a month before I go back to them because that’s long enough to be able to look at them with fresh eyes.

When you do go back it, you will probably find a lot of things you need to change. Character motivations may not be clear. Tension might not be high enough at key points in the manuscript. The ending may not be as satisfying as you thought it would be. You may even find stupid things like a character’s name changing between chapters or their hair going from blonde to brown. Fast drafting, which NaNo is, is a fantastic tool for getting you story on the page, but it isn’t a finished book yet, even if you have typed THE END.

Revision is crucial to the writing process. And I find it usually takes me WAY longer to revise a book than it does to write it in the first place. I would suggest doing a first read-through where you don’t make any changes, but write notes for yourself about things you notice that need to be changed. If you change them as you go, you may find things you do early on in the book no longer make sense by the time you’ve made changes toward the end. I often find that after this first pass, writing a synopsis of the book helps me to really figure out the shape of the story, and where scenes or characters may need to be changed or moved.

The next step is to make the changes you’ve noted. This could take some time, if the changes are substantial. I’ve re-written entire books from a new POV at this point, or scrapped the entire middle and re-written it so it works better with the ending, or ditched a character completely because they didn’t really have any function in the story. I’ve added 20K in some revisions, and cut the same amount in others. Each book is different.

And when you’ve done, let it rest again. Then rinse and repeat.

When you get to the point you aren’t actually changing anything substantial anymore, just moving commas or changing ‘asked’ to ‘queried’, it’s probably time to get some new eyes on your work. You need to send your book to a critique partner or beta reader to see how it reads to someone who doesn’t know your story. In fact, you probably need to send it to at least three people who aren’t intimate with it. Ideally people who aren’t just going to fangirl about the fact you’ve actually written a book. You need feedback on what you’ve written.

Once the feedback comes in, you need to read it carefully, consider it and make decisions about which pieces of advice are helpful and which are not. Not every suggestion made by a crit partner or beta is going to be useful. But if you get the same piece of feedback from multiple people, you probably should pay attention to it. I also find it’s often useful to give feedback time to settle in. Don’t rush in and change things as soon as the feedback lands. Take some time to think about the things your readers identified as problematic. You may find even better ways to address them than anything that was suggested.

Then you revise some more. And send to new readers. And revise some more.

Told you it was a long process…

Once you’re satisfied it’s as good as you can possibly get it, there are other decisions you need to make about how and where you want to publish. But maybe we’ll look at that part of the process in next week’s post.

Happy revising!

X O’Abby

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Liz Kerin's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions at Operation Awesome

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

The Phantom Forest by Liz Kerin


1- 1- Are there any charities you plan to support on Giving Tuesday? (#GivingTuesday refers to the Tuesday after U.S. Thanksgiving in the United States. It is a movement to create an international day of charitable giving at the beginning of the Christmas and holiday season.)

For Giving Tuesday, I encourage everyone to check out Write Girl, an amazing foundation that supports young, diverse female voices from the ground up! It’s a very special mentoring program for writers from underprivileged backgrounds and I’ve just started getting involved with them. You can donate online at WriteGirl.org or if you’re in the LA metro area, you can volunteer in person!

2- Would you please, in 160 characters or less, give a #WriteTip ?

Sometimes the best critique of your work can come from you, 6 months to a year after you wrote something! This happens to me all the time.

3- What ignited your passion for writing?

I have always been passionate about writing, ever since I learned to read. In my kindergarten class we had a make-your-own storybook corner where the teacher supplied blank books and art supplies, and you wrote your own children’s book. I chose that activity so many times my teacher eventually had to force me to try something else! But that’s my earliest memory of writing. I remember writing a short story about a polar bear and a seal who get separated from their mothers and have to trek across the Arctic to find them. It was 100% a Land Before Time ripoff but hey, you’ve gotta start somewhere.

4- Is there a religion, myth, or legend you used as the basis for this book?

One of my favorite myths is that of Persephone, and Orpheus is a close second. Both stories, of course, have all the Underworld vibes. While this book was definitely influenced by the Greek concept of the afterlife, I also peppered in imagery from Dante’s inferno, ideas about reincarnation, and inspiration from texts like the Egyptian Book of the Dead. I don’t think I pulled from any one particular religion or mythological construct. The point of this exercise, for me, was to create something entirely new with touchstones of familiarity. Every culture since ancient times has had their own concept of the afterlife, and while many of these beliefs are quite different, they also intersect in really interesting ways. I was definitely inspired by that.

5- What's your Twitter handle, and do you have two or three writer friends on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?

My Twitter is @Liz_Kerin and three writers I’d love to shout out to are Jacqui Castle (@JCastleWrites) who is writing a sequel to her award-winning book THE SECLUSION, Bridget Tyler (@CaliforniaB) a fellow NYU writing alum and badass author of THE PIONEER, and Matt Harry (@MattHarry) who has a sequel to his MG adventure fantasy CRYPTOZOOLOGY FOR BEGINNERS out this Fall!

6- Would you share a picture with us of your book among the trees or in another fun setting?

Liz Kerin's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions at Operation Awesome ~ The Phantom Forest
My amazing aunt took these woodsy pictures and the picture of me with the book is from the day it was released, while I was on my honeymoon in Europe. It was a pretty magical day!

7- In your opinion, can everyone redeem themselves if they truly regret their wrongdoings and genuinely try to make amends, or are a few people beyond forgiveness?

Without spoiling anything from the book, I believe that redemption is a bit of a spectrum. If you go out of your way to choose darkness, there might be no turning back. But if you find yourself lost in darkness and make some bad choices, that’s not quite the same thing. There’s a difference, and I think the book takes that stance, too.

8- What most motivates you to read a new book?

If all my friends are raving about it, I’m helpless against peer pressure. I am desperate to get in on the conversation! Thankfully, my friends all have awesome taste. Even if I don’t love something as much as they do, it’s always in my wheelhouse and fun to discuss.
Liz Kerin's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions at Operation Awesome ~ The Phantom Forest

9- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!

Author name: Naomi Alderman @NaomiAllTheNews
Title: THE POWER
Love because: I finally picked this one up and I’m so glad I did (though I’m slightly ashamed that I’m 3 years late to this party!). It’s such a grounded, evocative speculative fiction about how the tables might turn if women were suddenly blessed with a supernatural, physical advantage over men. It fits beautifully next to Margaret Atwood on my shelf, another one of my all-time favorites.

Liz Kerin's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions at Operation Awesome ~ The Phantom Forest

10- Who is currently your biggest fan? What does that person love most (or "ship") about your debut novel?

I have no idea who my biggest fan is but if I had to shout out to anyone, it would be my awesome aunt who took my book on her trip to Europe and bookstagrammed up a storm! I think pretty much everyone who has read the book and enjoyed it is a Haben stan and you know what, SO AM I. He’s the weirdest and the best and there’s a reason we all love him. I also get a lot of comments about the three sisters and Norryn, people saying they hope they show up more in future installments (they totally will!).

11- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader, and is there a particular scene you hope will resonate with readers?

I hope readers are excited by the parallel worlds and the connections between the characters, this idea that love transcends the laws of the physical universe. I also love a great female-driven revenge story and I hope readers rally around Seycia’s quest, even if her motives might be a little questionable sometimes. The scene I hope resonates most with readers comes toward the very end of the book, when Seycia finally has to deliver on her promise to Haben. For me, this was the most poignant and cathartic scene to write and I hope it has the same impact on readers.

12- Do you have a favorite #bookstagram image or account/ profile?

I have a few! I really like the cozy shots Morrigan’s books takes. I also love the minimalist arrangements Sadie at Curioser and Curioser does. And just the other day I saw an awesome bookstagram of Phantom Forest by Dana’s Book Nook that was so beautiful and autumnal I had to share it ASAP!

13- How do you hope your book will help readers in their life?

I hope the concepts of the afterlife in this book might help people who are looking for a creative, out-of-the-box way to cope with loss. The idea that nobody is ever gone for good is really powerful for me. Writing this was very therapeutic in that sense. I hope readers feel similarly.

14- What is the most memorable trait or visual oddity of one of your characters?

Probably the nasty double scars on General Simeon’s face: one left by Seycia, the other by her father. He wears their vengeance on his face wherever he goes. He’ll never escape what he did to these people, nor should he.

15- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? diversebooks.org #WeNeedDiverseBooks

Seycia and the Khronasans are an incredibly diverse, vibrant community that reflects a futuristic version of the world we currently live in. While the Khronasan culture is fictional, I hope when readers picture Seycia in their minds, they take note of the way she’s described on the page. She is a female lead of color. Even though her heritage isn’t the focal point of the story, I think it’s important that the characters reflect the world around us—particularly in this futuristic setting where a new, spiritual awareness has united people across the world. Another example of this is the goddess Irem, a nonverbal character who is also the most powerful force in the entire story. She was written this way for a reason, and I’m glad readers notice.

16- Who is your favorite book review blogger?

I adore Kaleena at Reader Voracious. She writes such insightful reviews and even if a book didn’t vibe with her, she is open to the idea that it might be someone else’s favorite and explains why it may work for them. She also has fabulous taste and I blame her for making my TBR explode! She was one of the first blogs to really support THE PHANTOM FOREST when the ARCs hit the town, and I’m eternally grateful.

17- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?

I went with Inkshares because I was shortlisted for the 2016 Launchpad Manuscript Competition and they were the sponsoring publisher. I’ve worked as a screenwriter for several years before publishing a book, and their business model worked well with the readership I already had and my relationships in Film/TV.

18- Why do you think readers should write book reviews?

I think reviews, especially positive ones, help authors more than anyone realizes, in so many ways! Word of mouth is essential. Not everyone has the marketing budget of the big publishing houses. So if you love something, don’t keep it to yourself! We writers appreciate it more than you know!

19- Do you have one question or discussion topic which you would like the readers of this interview to answer or remark on in the comments?

What’s your favorite afterlife story and/or myth? I realize it’s not right to classify all of these as “myths” because many people of faith consider these stories to be part of their beliefs. But I would love to know if there’s an obscure, interesting tale about the afterlife I’ve never heard before.

20- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?

I’m tinkering with the idea of a prequel podcast and of course, writing the next book in this proposed series, so please do follow along on Twitter and Instagram for news and updates. I’ll also probably be doing a few bookstore/library events on the West Coast in early 2020, so stay tuned!

Check out my review of The Phantom Forest on Goodreads. Goodreads.com/review/show/2952218899


The Phantom Forest by Liz Kerin

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

"Write a Solid First Draft, Get Feedback"

For a few months this year, I worked as a technical writer at a software company. I did things like write update notes and make decisions about what a particular button was going to say. When I first started there, though, I felt SO MUCH impostor syndrome. I had this nagging feeling that I'd somehow conned my way into this job - through three hiring exams, a phone interview, and an in-person interview - and that any second it would all come crashing down around me as it was revealed that I was, in fact, a giant fraud.

I'm easily stressed out, in case you can't tell. Hooray for CBD.

However, the higher-ups in my department had dealt with this sort of thing before. Tucked away on our server was a PowerPoint titled "Dealing with Impostor Syndrome." So of course, I downloaded it. (If nothing else, I can admit when I need help.) It was only four slides long, and three of them were company-specific, but there was one so helpful that I put it on a sticky note on my computer: "Write a solid first draft, get feedback."

Photo: sticky note with "Write a solid first draft, get feedback" on it.
This now lives in my writing notebook.

When I first saw this, I thought, ugh, OBVIOUSLY that's how writing works, thanks for the hot take. But I hadn't really internalized this fact or made an effort to understand it. I had been given a simple update note to write, and I kept finding myself staring blankly at a blinking cursor. I realized that I was putting off even starting because I was so caught up in the shining idea of this beautiful final version that would go out to customers. It took a lot of effort to refocus from what I knew I needed to produce to the simple fact that I needed to produce something and start somewhere. I wouldn't know if I was on the right track unless I wrote something and got some feedback on it.

So, I wrote something basic. I simply looked at the facts of what was different and what the customer needed to know, and got that down. Then, once I had some real content to work with, it was so much easier to make some simple revisions and duck into the office next door to get my coworker's take on what I'd written. When I got my first draft to my mentor, he was really impressed. He said most new people spent way too much time on their first draft by trying to make it a final draft right off the bat, but I was in a good position because I hadn't sunk too much time into it or made it too technical. I wish I could tell you I won employee of the month or something, but nah. I got some nice self-satisfaction, though.

So what should you take away from this week's anecdote? Well, when it comes to your writing - and to things like NaNoWriMo, for instance - something is better than nothing. You're never going to finish if you don't even start. You don't have to get it perfect on the first try, because that's what CPs and betas and revisions are there for. Instead, just write a solid first draft, and then get feedback. 

Monday, November 25, 2019

First 50 Critique - YA Contemporary #4


Thanksgiving in 3 days!
For all the details of how this works, click here.  We are NOT accepting entries this week.  But if you want to enter when we DO open the entry period, you must post a critique on at least TWO previous entries before you'll be able to submit.

Reminder: Be nice, but be honest. [Comments that are not polite/respectful will be deleted.] What would YOU like to know if this was YOUR first 50 words? Do you think it's a good opening line for the category/genre? Does it have a hook? Does it pull you into the story? Do you want to read more? Why or why not? Be specific, so your critique helps the person who wrote the entry.

Here's this week's entry.

First 50 Words - YA Contemporary #4

Dear future Chelsea,

I know there’s a break-up waiting for everyone. The girl standing outside the theater, waiting in line to buy a ticket, or the boy sitting on the bench, sliding his thumb continuously over his phone screen. They’re all an arm’s length away from heartache.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Dear O'Abby - I'm Behind in NaNo. How do I catch Up?

Dear O'Abby.

I'm behind on my word count for NaNo, and I'm not sure I have the time to catch up.  Do you have any advice about how to do it?  Have you ever managed to get there when you're way behind on the word count?

Yours,

Behind.

Dear Behind,

I'm with you.  I'm also behind on my word count.  I'm malingering around 26K.  At the pace I'm working, it's unlikely that I'll reach 50K by November 30.  So here are a few things to try if you want to pick up the word count and make it to the end.

The most important thing is to prioritize your writing.  If, like me, you have a demanding day job and a family, it's hard to make time for writing.  But this week, talk to your family and see if they can make a few concessions to your writing.  Maybe your partner can cook dinner a couple of nights so you can write for an extra hour.  Maybe your kids can.

If you have to take your kids to swimming lessons or ballet or any other activities, see if you can write while they participate.  Sit in the car and do it, if you have to.  Just make the most of that time.

And this weekend, see if on at least one of the days your partner or another relative could take the kids out for a few hours to give you space to write.  Or stay home with them so you can go somewhere quiet to write.

Or, if it's at all possible, see if you can take a day off work.  Two even.  Maybe you have a lot of leave days piling up or haven't taken any of your sick days yet this year.  Take one or two days and write during the hours you would normally be working.  You'll be amazed how much you can do in just two days.

That's what I'm doing this week.  Taking two days off to just write.  I'm hoping to get through 10K in those two days, which will get me back on track to finish by 30 November.

But that's not going to work for everyone.  So if you can't take time off, and you can't find anyone to watch the kids or take over any of the chores, you will have to find the time somewhere else.  If you put your mind to it, it's amazing what you can get done in an hour.  So maybe get up an hour early and write before everyone else gets up.  Or stay up an hour later at night if you're an evening person.

Use your lunch breaks if you need to.  Or your commute if you're not driving.  But I think I've talked about those pockets of time elsewhere.

The key thing to remember is, you can do this.  You can find time.  Any time you find yourself swiping idly through your phone, that's time you could be writing.  So use it and use it well.

Good luck!

X O'Abby

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Debut Author Spotlight at Operation Awesome - Is this for you?

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6


Are you a debut author? If it's your first time publishing a book, or first time publishing in a totally different genre, you qualify!

All publication venues are acceptable (traditional, small press, indie, etc).

J, the current senior member of the Operation Awesome team, runs the Debut Author Spotlight.
He's always looking for authors of debut books.
If you'd be interested in doing an interview, please get in touch!
@JLenniDorner on Twitter is his preferred method of communication.
Operationawesome6@gmail.com works too. Attn to J, Re: Debut Author


💗NOW BOOKING FOR 2020!😎


Please spread the word about this free opportunity. Help the #writingcommunity out.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Let’s talk about what happened on Writer Twitter this week

Before I get started, let me tell you that I’m not going to name any names. That would be contrary to the entire point of this post. People will only be called by their roles in this event. If you want more information about exactly who was involved, you’ll have to look it up on Google.

Several days ago, a well-known YA author (The Author) called out a student (The Student) on Twitter. The Student was reported as saying that they joined the committee that chose the book all first-year students at their college had to read specifically to stop the committee from choosing one of The Author’s books. Which, as a writer, I can imagine was hard to read. That's tough.

In a nutshell, the basic context was that The Student felt that The Author’s books weren’t a good fit for all first-year college students to read. But the problem was that The Author called The Student out very publicly on social media, ignoring that context and saying that this was an awful thing to say about a writer and how The Author was going through a lot of difficult stuff at the moment. While The Author did black out The Student’s name in the screenshot posted to Twitter, there was plenty of content left in the screenshot that a simple Google search would have turned up The Student’s name and school. Which, as we all can probably guess by now, is a recipe for harassment. And indeed, The Student was harassed. People praised The Author for speaking up, calling The Student names and piling on her personal social media account. Truly disappointing.

But see, the thing is, this all seemingly happened because The Author was upset that someone really didn’t like their work. Admittedly, it’s a tough pill to swallow. It’s really hard to have someone say that they don’t like your writing, something you’ve spent years working on and perfecting. It’s hard to develop a thick skin and to shrug this sort of thing off. In the midst of the querying trenches, I even had a moment like this, where I got some criticism from an agent who’d requested my full manuscript. They told me that the voice was too young, that it read like MG instead of YA. I was pretty upset about that. I popped over to the Operation Awesome chat group and complained, saying that this agent clearly didn’t know what YA was supposed to sound like. Fortunately, the OA team talked me down, reminding me that this agent was only one person and that none of my betas, critique partners, or other readers had given me the same note. This agent was just one person.

I can’t speak for The Author, but someone of their caliber and name recognition has clearly had their fair share of detractors and critics. It’s odd to think that this one person – a student, no less, and not someone like a professional book reviewer – should be shouldered with the responsibility of not making The Author’s life harder. It’s not The Student’s responsibility to keep The Author’s feelings in mind. As someone who creates art, it’s vital to know and understand that not everyone is going to like your work. No single writer is writing stories that appeal to everyone, nor should anyone feel required to do so - unless maybe if you work for Disney or something. (Feel free to change my view on the former point in the comments.)

However, it’s also important to note that navigating social media can be tough as well. When you have a large platform and a lot of followers, you have to be more conscientious of what you post. (I mean, you should always take a second to ask yourself if you really want to post something, if you have 1 follower or 1 million.) A lot of writers use their social media platforms to talk about difficult or important topics, which is awesome. And a lot of other authors only use their social media platforms to talk about their books, which is also awesome.

What’s not awesome is using your platform to call out someone with no reasonable way of defending themselves.

On the other hand, there’s a lot of pressure that comes with being a celebrity, or a social media influencer, or anyone else in the public eye. You say one wrong word and immediately trolls will pile on. Buzzfeed News reported on an 18-year-old YouTube personality who burst into tears during a video over the pressures of being perfect and always being a good role model. Cardi B has said she’s done trying to be a role model for young women, because it was forcing her to act in a way that made her not feel like herself. When you’re a public figure, every misstep is criticized and blown out of proportion, and it’s nearly impossible sometimes to do anything without being called out by someone.

In the end, The Author did apologize, but they received a lot of backlash for their actions, justifiably so. Hopefully they learned a bit about the power social media can have and how influential their words and actions can be. So what is the takeaway here? What have we learned from this? I really don’t know. The best I can tell you is, don’t use social media to tear down other people. It’s not a good look on anyone.

Monday, November 18, 2019

First 50 Critique - YA Contemporary #3

10 days to Thanksgiving
For all the details of how this works, click here.  We are NOT accepting entries this week.  But if you want to enter when we DO open the entry period, you must post a critique on at least TWO previous entries before you'll be able to submit.

Reminder: Be nice, but be honest. [Comments that are not polite/respectful will be deleted.] What would YOU like to know if this was YOUR first 50 words? Do you think it's a good opening line for the category/genre? Does it have a hook? Does it pull you into the story? Do you want to read more? Why or why not? Be specific, so your critique helps the person who wrote the entry.

Here's this week's entry.

First 50 Words - YA Contemporary #3

Lie or die. Lie or die. These words repeat in my head, a silent mantra as I block Edwin’s strikes and absorb the blows from his kicks. Every muscle in my body, every bone, every inch of skin screams with pain.

Lie or die.

Dear stepfather is always the master in our sparring sessions.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Dear O'Abby: I'm stuck. Can you help?


Dear O’Abby,

I’m doing NaNo and I’m stuck.  I’m at a point where there are multiple choices for my MC and I can’t for the life of me figure out which way to make her go.  I’ve tried skipping beyond this point, but because it’s a crucial decision, what happens next depends on this choice and I can’t write what happens next without her making this decision.  I’ve been going back and forth with different ideas for days, but I’m not happy with any of my choices.

Any ideas how to get past this?

Yours,

Stuck.

Dear Stuck,

I know this feeling all too well.  When there are 155,000 options for your character and you’re not sure which one is the right one. 

Well, my advice is to choose the wrong one.

Fiction is better when characters make mistakes.  So whenever your character is faced with a decision, make her pick the one that is going to create the most trouble for her.  Pick the thing you would never select personally if you were faced with the same dilemma. 

I’ve had the same problem with the book I’m writing this month.  As a grown woman, I know the right thing for my protagonist to do in his particular situation is to call the police or some other authority figure and tell them what’s going on.  There will be a whole string of consequences from this choice of course, but all of them lead to the main problem he is facing being dealt with.  So as a writer, I’ve made him stubbornly refuse to go to the authorities, preferring to deal with the tricky, illegal situation on his own.  And of course making that foolish decision will lead to a whole lot of other, trickier situations for him to deal with. On his own.

That's important too.  To be interesting, your character needs to be active and really driving the outcomes from any decisions she makes.  If doing something one way puts the outcome into someone else's hands, choose another direction, one that forces your MC to solve her own problem, or places another one directly in her path.

So be decisive.  Never let your character dabble in her options.  She needs to pick the wrong path and navigate it, however feels natural for her.  And each time she reaches another branch in the road, she needs to choose the direction that leads to the most trouble, the most conflict.  It’s hard, I know.  We grow to love these characters like our own children and it’s hard to send them off in the wrong direction, especially when we know their choices are going to lead to them or someone else getting hurt.

I hope that helps!  Now, I’m off to give my MC some unexpected consequences for his poor decision making. Poor guy!  He doesn't know what's coming at him...

XX 

O’Abby

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Lisa Moore Ramée's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions at Operation Awesome

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée


1- Your Twitter profile states, "Lipstick cures a lot." I'm intrigued! Could you give five examples of what lipsticks can cure?

Lipstick cures a lot: When I was younger, whenever I was heading out, my Mom would tell me “put on some lipstick.” Lipstick is the only make-up my Mom wears. Here’s the thing, I’ve found lipstick is really the only make-up I need. It’s an instant mood enhancer. I feel a bit put together, a bit more ready to face things. If someone snaps my picture, I look a bit less frumpy. I go into meetings with more sass and confidence. People rarely ask me if I’m “okay” if I have lipstick on. Is that five things? Perhaps it’s just one thing, but really, sometimes lipstick feels a little bit like magic.

2- Would you please, in 160 characters or less, give a #WriteTip ?

Speak your dialogue OUT LOUD. If you want to know if it is sounding natural, you need to hear it. Don’t know what a character should say? Talk for them.

3- What ignited your passion for writing?

I’m one of those people who always second guesses what I’ve said, or wish I could go back to a moment and say something better. Writing started more as a way to be able to time travel and rewrite scenes the way they should’ve gone. I loved it. And when I got older, professors told me I was good at it, and that’s all I needed to hear to want to spend as much time as I could, writing stories.

4- Besides writing this book, in what ways have you been involved in the Black Lives Matter movement?

I’m Black. I am the movement. As Black Americans we “participate” are “involved” in the Black Lives Matter movement every day we walk out the door.

5- What's your Twitter handle, and do you have two or three writer friends on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?

On twitter I’m @leeseray It comes from a friend’s nickname for me. I have so many writer friends on Twitter but shout out to the other black MG debut authors: @KarenMusiings, @storiestolife, @marilock, @booksandbighair

6- Would you share a picture with us of your book with your laptop stickers?

7- Do you feel that prejudice and racism issues have improved or gotten worse in the US in the last two years? The last ten? The last fifty?

I’d wager there are just as many racists people now as there always have been. I think we went through a long period where people hid their feelings because it was socially unacceptable to be openly racist—at least in some areas. But in the last couple of years it has become acceptable again to be blatantly racist and even get cheered for those views.

8- What most motivates you to read a new book?

I work full time and write full time and so my favorite thing to do (reading) is difficult. My TBR is no joke! But I love a striking cover and I will read anything my friends write. If an author I admire is excited about a book, I will definitely check it out.

9- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!

I wish I had a book to share here that wasn’t well known but I love this book too much not to be honest. Author name:Elizabeth Acevedo @AcevedoWrites
Title: The Poet X
Love because:Complicated parental relationships is my jam. More than romantic relationships. This book is so poignant and relatable and it made me cry but also gave me hope.


10- Who is currently your biggest fan? What does that person love most (or "ship") about your debut novel?

Probably my biggest fan is Angela at Kepler’s in Menlo Park. She supported and encouraged me before I had an agent or book deal. She would introduce me to visiting authors. And when my book came out, she was as emotional as I was. I think she just loves seeing writers succeed.

11- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader, and is there a particular scene you hope will resonate with readers?

I really hope young readers will feel empowered and motivated to fight for things they know are right—or fight against what’s wrong. My favorite scene was the hardest to write. It is when Shayla, Julia and Isabella have their big fight. I wanted to be able to have them all say things there that needed to be said. I hope readers will fully understand all three perspectives.

12- Do you have a favorite #bookstagram image or account/ profile?

I love images that get posted by @projectlitcom Seeing displays kids make for books is fantastic.

13- How do you hope your book will help readers in their life?

Fear can really rule our lives. If we can get past it, it can help us so much. And I hope non-Black readers will understand BLM and be less afraid of people who don’t look like them. I hope all readers will question their assumptions. I hope readers will feel like they can make changes.

14- What is the most memorable trait or visual oddity of one of your characters?

It’s gotta be Shayla’s big forehead. She spends so much time fretting over it and trying to hide it!

15- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? diversebooks.org #WeNeedDiverseBooks What's your favorite book with a diverse main character?

Hopefully the diversity in my book is pretty obvious! My favorite book with a diverse main character if I can’t say Poet X again, is For Black Girls Like Me by Mariama j. Lockington. It looks at race and mental illness and it’s incredible.


16- Who is your favorite book review blogger?

Favorite book blogger is @diamondxgirl The blog is BookCrushin

17- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?

I knew I couldn’t self-publish because a) I hate marketing and you have to be strong in that area to self-publish and b) I don’t have that type of confidence! If I had self-published I would have always worried that maybe my writing actually wasn’t very good I needed the validation of traditional publishing tbh. But for the self-published authors out there, I say, I say good on ya!

18- Why do you think readers should write book reviews?

Readers should write reviews for other readers. It can help others find great books. Reviews should be honest but not mean—that’s true in life not just reviews!

19- Do you have one question or discussion topic which you would like the readers of this interview to answer or remark on in the comments?

I’m curious about what people’s thoughts are about having dealing with weighty issues in MG. I’m a huge fan of doing it, but would love to hear from others.

20- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?

I’m from Los Angeles originally which is why my books tend to be set there. I’ll have another MG out in 2020, please look for it. Oh, and I’m old. For the writers out there, please don’t get caught in the trap of thinking you need to publish early/young or you’re a failure. I’m in my fifties. I started writing—like seriously writing—in my twenties. It’s been a really long road for me but that’s okay. My book doesn’t count any less just because I’m older. If you want to find me on social media twitter is best @leeseray , but I’m also on Instagram, same handle. I am rarely on Facebook.

A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Taking Ask O'Abby's Advice for NaNoWriMo

Last week, O'Abby gave the advice of writing a scene you're excited about when you get stuck writing the manuscript in chronological order. I thought, okay, maybe that's good advice for someone, but I can't do that! How could I possibly skip ahead and just abandon my characters here in this scene? It was a concept that went completely against the writing instincts I've worked so hard to develop as a safeguard against returning to the habits of my early writing days when I used to just write random scenes and then try to stitch them together with bad middle-bits.

Believe me, it was a Cthulhu-cursed mess.

But the thing is, now I'm An AdultTM and I know how to make an outline, so I know where my story is going. I have indeed been struggling to meet my daily word count goal, and I figured I could use some new motivation to keep me going. So a few days ago, when I hit my 2K for the day, I stopped in the middle of a scene that was being particularly annoying and skipped ahead to write something else. It ripped me apart, but I did it.

And you know what? It really worked! 

I only wrote a couple of paragraphs, and I'm not sure where they go in this manuscript, but I know they belong somewhere in this story. It was information that had been kicking around in my brain, and now it's finally in the manuscript, even if its place is only temporary. And the best part was that I walked away from my laptop on a good note. I was proud of having written more than my goal daily word count, and it felt good to end on a scene that I was pleased with. So now, every day, if the writing isn't going as well as I'd like, I just make a point to hit my word count and then I reward myself with a scene I'm excited to write. It's helping me meet my NaNo goal faster, and it's keeping me from burning out.

So thanks, O'Abby! 

Monday, November 11, 2019

First 50 Critique - YA Contemporary #2

Thank a veteran today

For all the details of how this works, click here.  We are NOT accepting entries this week.  But if you want to enter when we DO open the entry period, you must post a critique on at least TWO previous entries before you'll be able to submit.

Reminder: Be nice, but be honest. [Comments that are not polite/respectful will be deleted.] What would YOU like to know if this was YOUR first 50 words? Do you think it's a good opening line for the category/genre? Does it have a hook? Does it pull you into the story? Do you want to read more? Why or why not? Be specific, so your critique helps the person who wrote the entry.

Here's this week's entry.

First 50 Words - YA Contemporary #2

The insistent bell for first period clanged, but first, I had to remove the banana peel from my head. I gripped the slimy fruit remnant, chucked it backwards, and wiped the sticky residue off my hair. This was not my first trip into the dumpster thanks to Brittny and her minions.


Thursday, November 7, 2019

An O'Abby tip for NaNoWriMo

I guess everyone is writing novels this month instead of emails to O'Abby...

So, we’re a week into NaNo. How are you going? Are you sleeping? Are your kids getting fed? Is the laundry piling up in the laundry and the dishes on the kitchen counter?

If so, don’t worry. It probably means you’ve been writing. Or at least I hope you have!

This week I want to give you a tip that might help you if the initial rush of starting your new book has worn off and you’re starting to feel like writing is just too hard.

It is tempting to give up once that initial burst of excitement and productivity wears off. Once you’ve written that startlingly original beginning you’ve been imagining since you first came up with the idea for this story. Maybe it didn’t come out on the page the way you imagined. Or maybe it hasn’t sparked the next scenes in a way that makes you excited to sit down and write.

Don’t stop.

There’s bound to be a scene somewhere further in the book you are excited to write. A kissing scene, maybe? A piece of action you have choreographed in your head? An emotional moment that brings a lump to your throat each time you think about it?

Write it.

Now is not the time to be precious about writing in a linear way. Write the scenes you want to write, the ones you are excited about. The ones that made you want to write this particular story. You can fill in the stuff that gets your characters from the beginning to that point later on. I know a lot of writers don’t like to write out of sequence, but if you’re struggling to get to your word count, or feel stuck in your story, this is a way to push past that block and possibly free yourself up to move on.

The great thing about this technique is you can use it over and over again through the writing of your project. Any time you get stuck, just leave your characters where they are. They’ll still be there where you get back to them. And often writing through scenes later in the book will give you ideas that will help push past that sticking point.

Remember this isn’t a final draft. It isn’t even a first draft. If you hit your 50K words at the end of the month and there are still holes in your story, it doesn’t matter. You can fill them in. Or maybe you’ll find you don’t actually need all the connective tissue you thought you would when you started writing.

Hopefully this will be helpful for you. It’s something I use all the time when I’m drafting, during NaNo or any other time. I’ll let you in on a secret too. I almost always write the ending of my books really early on. I don’t do much plotting ahead of time and having an ending there gives me something to aim for. If you have an ending in mind now, but aren’t quite sure how to get to it, maybe you should try writing it. It might help you to find your way.

Happy writing!

X O’Abby

PS.  After 6 days my word count is sitting at around 11K.  How are you getting on?

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

K H Canobi's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions at Operation Awesome

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

Mindcull by K H Canobi
Goodreads


1- What's your favorite format to read a book in?

Paper. Some studies suggest that people learn from and remember books better in paper format and I think that’s true of me.

2- Would you please, in 160 characters or less, give a #WriteTip ?

Write, rewrite and don’t give up. Persevere through the knockbacks and self-doubt – revise, edit, and use feedback to make your manuscript stronger.

3- What ignited your passion for writing?

Books thrill me! I have been diving into the magical, exciting world of fiction since I was very young. I find reading good books moving, addictive and inspiring.

4- How have the notes for teachers and offering to speak at schools and libraries impacted your book sales?

Whatever you can do online or in person to get your name and your book out there is helpful. I think teacher notes are expected for sales through school bookclubs, which have been important for Mindcull in Australia. Ford Street Publishing has a strong relationship with school communities, so it usually provides teacher notes for its books.

5- What's your Twitter handle, and do you have two or three writer friends on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?

@khcanobi . Shout out to @michaeljpryor, @wallysbooks, @joeldeane.

6- Would you share a picture with us of your book in a classic Australian setting?

I left reading this question too late. Last week I could have put Mindcull in front of a wallaby at the beach. This week you get Mindcull under the spotted gum at the bottom of my garden.

7- Did being a cognitive scientist help you to write Mindcull?

Yes. My research and teaching in cognitive developmental psychology involved exploring how people learn and change as a result of different experiences. Developmental psychology helped me understand the teenage years as an important time for shaping identity and forming authentic interpersonal connections so I could consider the impact of technology on my teenage characters. My background in cognitive science gave me a head start in thinking about how scientists of the future might use computer modelling and biological and behavioural measures to try to work out what’s going on inside a person’s head. Psychology also gave me a framework for imagining what might go wrong if virtual and augmented reality become so much a part of daily life that people’s virtual and real worlds get intertwined.

8- What most motivates you to read a new book?

Getting attached to the characters. If I really care about a main character, I lose myself in their world and have to keep reading to find out what happens to them.

9- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!

Author name: Sarah Epstein @SarahLEpstein
Title: Small Spaces
Love because: It’s a compelling psychological thriller for young adults by a talented Australian debut author.


10- Who is currently your biggest fan? What does that person love most (or "ship") about your debut novel?

My kids have been keen on Mindcull from the first draft and very supportive.
My daughter likes Eila, because she is a strong, flawed female main character and they all enjoy high-concept thrillers and like Mindcull’s fast pace.

11- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader, and is there a particular scene you hope will resonate with readers?

I worked hard on making the book suspenseful so readers feel compelled to turn the pages to see what will happen next. The scene I put the most time into was the opening scene because that was my first opportunity to draw readers in. I tried to recreate that feeling from a nightmare where someone is chasing you and you are not quite sure who they are, but you know you have to get away. And no matter how fast you run, they keep gaining on you.
When a friend of mine who does not usually like sci fi novels messaged me to say that she had been up until 1am reading Mindcull because she had to find out what would happen next, I felt like I had done my job. There are places in Mindcull where I want readers to laugh, smile, feel sad or get angry but I think I worked hardest on building tension.

12- Do you have a favorite #bookstagram image or account/ profile?

The #LoveOzYa community that celebrates Australia’s youth literature.

13- How do you hope your book will help readers in their life?

I hope Mindcull will help teenagers who are struggling to work out who they are and develop meaningful relationships in a world where technology can be used in powerful ways to escape reality and distort reality. I hope that entering Eila’s world might help them to think critically and creatively about our lives now and about what is to come.

14- What is the most memorable trait or visual oddity of one of your characters?

The memorable thing about my main character, Eila is that the disconnect between how she appears in the virtual world (popular, spontaneous, funny, successful) and who she really is (disconnected, shy, anxious, serious.)

15- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? diversebooks.org #WeNeedDiverseBooks

Eila’s best friend, Mei has a Chinese family background and Pita Henare, who is the CEO and founder of Pearl (the global tech company that runs the competition that shortlists Eila’s virtual reality clips) is Maori. Each of the short-listees in the Pearl competition is from a different continent. The most important of these to the plot is Hugo, who is Columbian. The issue of neurodiversity is very important in Mindcull and impacts on various characters in different ways.

16- Who is your favorite book review blogger?

chemicalbookdragon.blogspot.com and shaylaurent.com

17- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?

I like the way small publishers seem more open to taking a chance on an unknown debut author.

18- Why do you think readers should write book reviews?

Book reviews are a great way to share your joy in a book (or air your concerns). They help readers find good books and help authors and others in the book industry understand more about their readers.

19- Do you have one question or discussion topic which you would like the readers of this interview to answer or remark on in the comments?

The tagline for Mindcull is, “Who can you trust when nothing is as real as virtual reality?” and the world is a lot like our own but people rely on virtual reality headsets for entertainment and communication the way we rely on smartphones now.
If you think about the way technology has changed our lives in the last twenty to thirty years and how being a teenager has changed over that period, what do you think it will be like to be a teenager in twenty or thirty years?

20- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?

Blurb


Eila is in the running to star in a global marketing campaign for a new virtual reality skinsuit. But now a fierce battle is raging for control of her mind. Secrets and deceptions abound. Activists reveal a murderous plot then someone fills her head with a stranger’s thoughts. Who are Eila’s true allies and how far will she go to protect innocent lives?

Bio


K H Canobi is a cognitive scientist who writes fiction for young adults and children. Her debut novel, Mindcull, a futuristic thriller for young adults, came out in June, 2019 with Ford Street Publishing. Prior to writing Mindcull, Katherine worked as a researcher and university lecturer in developmental psychology in Australia and the UK, completing a PhD and postdoctoral fellowship at Melbourne University where she is now an honorary fellow. Visit her online at http://khcanobi.com.
Twitter: @khcanobi
Instagram: https://instagram.com/khcanobi/
Fb https://facebook.com/KHCanobi-2162466130658388/


Reviews


"Mindcull is clever, with twists that feel organic and unpredictable. . . . Tech-savvy readers searching for sophisticated YA science fiction with a contemporary cyberpunk twist will find Canobi’s debut a must-read." Catherine Moller, Books + Publishing ★★★★☆
"Mindcull is a fast-paced, intelligent, high-concept science fiction novel that is completely impossible to put down." Marie Alafaci, Magpies Magazine
"Mindcull is a great young adult future thriller with a touch of romance. It is an exciting and fast paced book with a strong, flawed female protagonist and deals with issues such as family loss, technology addiction and mental health." Libby Boas, Reading Time, Online Journal of Children's Book Council of Australia

The cover art is by @KAIllustrations


Mindcull by K H Canobi
Goodreads