Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Little Awesome Halloween Reading for You!

Happy Halloween!!! Need an awesome series to read on this fine Halloween night while you are handing out candy to all the Trick or Treaters? Check out Christine Fonseca's Requien series!! The last book in the series, Dominus, just release. Here's the deets!


Time for another fabulous release party. This time, for DOMINUS - the third and final installment in the Requiem series. Here's a little bit about the story:


Sometimes death is the only way to save a life.

Nesy knows who she is now, knows what she's lost. Determined to save Aydan from his fate, she confronts the only one she blames for everything - Azza. But how can she fight the devil when she is nothing more than human? The fate of Celestium, Infernum and humanity rests in Nesy's hands. Can she find the strength to confront demons she's never imagined, face fears she's never voiced, and release the one thing that has held her world together - her love for Aydan?


Some sacrifices should never be made...even for love.




Suggested Reading Order for the Requiem Series:

LACRIMOSA, Book #1
Dies Irae, A Requiem Novella about Mikayel and Azzaziel (included with Lacrimosa)
Mea Culpa, A Requiem Novella about Zanethios (Included with Libera Me)
LIBERA ME, Book #2 
Enigma, A Seer Novella about Lorelei, Tristan, and Ellie (Included with Libera Me)
DOMINUS, Book #3

What questions are you most wondering about with the series???

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Spook-tacular River of Bones


Spook-tacular promotion for the release of River of Bones by Angela Townsend! In honor of this amazing release, Clean Teen Publishing will be offering a 24 hour only incentive rebate or gift package to anyone who purchases River of Bones through Amazon. You must purchase River of Bones sometime on 10/30/13 to qualify for this rebate.

More Details:

Purchase River of Bones on Amazon (Kindle Version) on Tuesday, October 30, 2013 and send your proof of purchase (receipt or screen shot of purchase) to: submissions@cleanteenpublishing.com and you can pick from one of these amazing prize packs:

1. A Gift Card of $2.99 to Amazon. (That's right, we will basically reimburse you the purchase price of the book!)

OR

2. Readers choice of any 3 Clean Teen Publishing books (digital). *With this choice you can also choose upcoming releases. We will send ARC's to you as soon as they've been formatted.

OR

3. A CTP bookmark prize pack which will include an assortment of bookmarks and a CTP bracelet that says: Authors are our Rockstars!

This rebate party giveaway is for anyone willing to participate. You can invite your friends. Please remember though that in order to be eligible for your choice of one of the above prizes, you must send a proof of purchase - this can't be a photo of the book on your Kindle (because people can download the sample and make it look like they purchased it), it needs to be a copy of the receipt or a screen shot of the Amazon page where it says thank you for the purchase and you must not return the book after you purchase it. Those who return the book will forfeit their prize.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Guest Post with Tina Moss: Para Beyond the Normal

Halloween always makes me reach for a spooky book, and one supplier of my habit, author Tina Moss, has joined Operation Awesome for a guest post on writing paranormal fiction. Take it away, Tina!

Para Beyond the Normal
By: Tina Moss

Writing paranormal fiction is akin to the delicate and intimate art of...cave-diving. I’ve never actually been cave-diving, mind you, but whenever I sit down at the keyboard to work on a paranormal manuscript, I inevitably picture a cave. Not your “nice” cave either complete with roaring fire, no bugs, comfy sleeping bag, and an unending supply of s’mores. No, not that type. I imagine a big, gaping black hole that I’m about to jump into with--or some days without--safety gear attached.

So, why would any sane rational person decide to write a genre that essentially equates to jumping into a bottomless pit? Well, putting aside the fact that I sometimes question my sanity, and almost never feel rational when it comes to writing, paranormal does something that no other genre can do. It allows you to dive headfirst into a world where anything, absolutely anything, can and often does happen. The only limits are the depths of the author’s imagination. Now, to be fair, fantasy and sci-fi may be able to take the reader on a similar experience, but I consider both in the realm of the paranormal. Whenever we suspend our beliefs of what constitutes as “normal” than we’ve landed in the beyond normal, namely the paranormal.

As we approach Halloween, arguably the Superbowl of the Paranormal, and reflect upon this genre, I’d encourage you to pick up an author you’ve never read before. Nowadays the most challenging aspect of being a paranormal author is encouraging readers to gamble with their hard earned money on a shiny new story...from a name they’ve never heard. We’ve had amazing heavy hitters around for years, names like Jeaniene Frost and Jim Butcher, Kresley Cole and Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh and J. R. Ward, and scores of amazingly talented paranormal and urban fantasy authors. As a small fish in a big pond, it can be hard to break into this incredibly talented market. So, blogs like Operation Awesome, and readers like you, can really make the difference in finding new stars in this field.

Finally, for the newbie paranormal readers out there, don’t be afraid to suspend your belief and take that dive into one of the odd “caves” known as paranormal stories. Whether ghosts or ghouls, vampires or werewolves, witches or psychics, and the scores of mythical and mystical creatures waiting to delight and terrify you, remember all personify our basic human fears and delights. From the immortality of the vampire to the strength of the werewolf to the ghostly desire to see our loved ones again, paranormal may be beyond the normal, but it touches us on a primal level. An author may take you on the wildest abstract ride while still pulling at your heart strings or raising the hairs on your neck, and that’s why paranormal is worth the jump...even without the safety gear.

Thanks, Tina! And if you're dying for a good Halloween read, Tina and co-author Yelena Casale have a new book coming out!




 
Cassie’s working for a tightwad boss at a pretentious NYC diner, dealing with paralyzing pain that doctors can’t diagnose, and trying to hide her hands that glow purple whenever she ...well, whenever.

So, when a mysterious stranger walks out of her dreams and into her life to spout some nonsense about her being a mythical creature, she chalks it up to one more crazy thing to add to her it’s-a-crappy-life list. Yet, when the stranger’s predictions start to come true, she discovers a world that could shake up her humdrum existence.


The book releases on Halloween, October 31st. Add it on Goodreads here! And here's some info on Tina and Yelena:
Tina Moss (on the right in photo) is an author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, and New Adult novels. She lives in NYC with a supportive husband and alpha corgi, though both males hog the bed and refuse to share the covers. When not writing, she enjoys reading, watching cheesy horror flicks, traveling, and karate. As a 5'1" Shotokan black belt, she firmly believes that fierce things come in small packages.

Find her at: 
Instagram

Yelena Casale is an Urban Fantasy & Paranormal Romance author. When she is not writing, she loves to read, watch TV with her husband (and without), take long walks and cuddle with her cat Bones. She is a second degree black belt/Shotokan karate instructor, and archaeology, history & art enthusiast. 


Website
Twitter: @Yelena_Casale
 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cover Reveal!! Vision by Lisa Amowitz

Lisa is not only an amazing writer but a very talented cover artist as well. And her newest book has another gorgeous cover that she was able to do herself :D Take a peek!!


The light is darker than you think…

When seventeen-year-old Bobby Pendell begins to have blinding migraines followed by frightening hallucinations, he fears there’s something wrong with him. Then murder rocks his sleepy town and the visions that put him on trail of a killer—also make him the prime suspect.

Goodreads 

Author bio:

Lisa Amowitz was born in Queens and raised in the wilds of Long Island, New York where she climbed trees, thought small creatures lived under rocks and studied ant hills. And drew. A lot. She is a professor of Graphic Design at her beloved Bronx Community College where she has been tormenting and cajoling students for nearly seventeen years. She started writing eight years ago because she wanted something to illustrate, but somehow, instead ended up writing YA. Probably because her mind is too dark and twisted for small children. Lisa is represented by Shannon Hassan of Marsal-Lyon Literary Agency.

BREAKING GLASS, released in July, 2013 from Spencer Hill Press, is her first published work. VISION, the first of the Finder series will be released in 2014.

Lisa Amowitz is available for guest appearances, Skype visits, school visits, libraries & interviews. Please contact her for scheduling.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Writerly mascots: having team spirit



Oliver Awesome
Our mascot here at
Operation Awesome

The dictionary defines a mascot as a person, animal, or object believed to bring good luck, especially one kept as a symbol of an organization such as a sports team. I personally don't believe in "luck". In fact, when my daughter had the opportunity to be the school mascot yesterday, luck was the furthest thing from my mind as I watched her interacting with fellow schoolmates. What I thought of, what I felt, was a whole lot of team spirit. Camaraderie. A group of people coming together to celebrate something, forgetting each others' failings and shortcomings, because the attention was focused on the mascot and celebrating the entire group as a whole.

Wikipedia's definition of mascot continues as, ... colloquially (informally) includes anything used to represent a group with a common public identity... and later, ... Costumed mascots are commonplace, and are regularly used as goodwill ambassadors in the community for their team, company, or organization...

Now, this is how I see mascots. As goodwill ambassadors in the community. Our writerly community is huge, and this group and so many more out there prove that just because we're not physically together, we can still celebrate who we are and what we do. We can be mascots for each other. Not as in luck; not as in, symbols of specific things; but by being honest, faithful, helpful representations for one another, pointing to one common goal: helping each other succeed. We can spur each other on, rejoice in achievements, and gather together in groups all over this great big "interweb" to lift each other up. The solitary business of sitting behind a computer and writing doesn't have to be solitary. Be a mascot. Celebrate someone who is one to you. And above all, remember that our differences is what makes us such an awesome community.

Goooo writers! I am honored and proud to be on your team!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

You Finished Your First Novel! Now What?




If you just finished your first novel, congratulations! You have done something many people in this world cannot claim. It's a great accomplishment and you should revel in it!

Once your celebrating is done, then the real work begins. What? You thought you were done because you wrote "The End?"  No, sorry, if you want to get that baby published, you've got quite a ways to go.

Today, I wanted to share some of the websites I've found to be a tremendous help in navigating the world of publishing. In sharing these sites with you, I hope it well help your journey through the publishing world be a smooth ride rather than a bumpy disaster.

When I finished my first novel a while ago I began my crash course in Publishing 101. It started with learning how to write a query letter. When I struggled, I looked for examples to follow so I had some sense of what worked. One of the best places to find successful queries is at Writer's Digest. Check out this link for help: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/successful-queries

Along with a query, many agents now request a synopsis as part of the submission process. Author, Susan Dennard has a great post on how to write an all-compassing, streamlined synopsis here: http://www.publishingcrawl.com/2012/04/17/how-to-write-a-1-page-synopsis/

What if you're approached by a small press and don't know anything about them? Preditors and Editors is a great site to help you do research.

How about word count? Many agents and publishers have a certain set of parameters regarding how long your book should be. Literary Agent Jennifer Laughran has a great post about word count here: http://literaticat.blogspot.com/2011/05/wordcount-dracula.html.

Perhaps you're gearing up to write your next book and it's going to be Middle Grade or Young Adult and you need some advice on writing in these categories. Former agent Mary Kole has an amazing website that details everything from writing action to creating authentic voice. Find her helpful advice here: http://kidlit.com/

One last thing...

Once you've written your first novel, it is critical that you have beta readers and critique partners to help you. They can ferret out where your plot is failing or your pacing is off. Check out CPSeek or writing sites like AgentQuery Connect or AbsoluteWrite to find like-minded writers who can help you polish up that masterpiece you should be so proud of!



Saturday, October 19, 2013

Are You NaNoing?

I haven't participated in NaNoWriMo since 2009. And when I did participate, I failed. Big time. But I tried to pants the whole thing and all I accomplished was getting totally stuck.

This year I have a solid outline and no excuses for not getting it done. Except for time, but I can work that out. I don't need sleep, right? ;) Mostly, I'm just hoping it will give me the extra push I need to finish this stupid first draft. I hate drafting. Revisions are my happy place. :)

So, who's participating this year? If you want to add me as a buddy, my profile is here. Or leave your username in the comments and I'll track you down.

Also, if you're participating, you might be interested in this post with my Words Per Day tracking spreadsheet. And I'll be creating a new spreadsheet specifically for NaNo and posting it here on November 2nd, so if you're interested in that, be sure to check back.

Good luck with all your NaNo adventures! :)

Friday, October 18, 2013

November Mystery Agent - Details!


 
Heads up, OA denizens! We've got a brand new Mystery Agent coming your way Friday, November 1st, and if you have a complete manuscript and a Tweet-length pitch at the ready, our MA would love to hear from you!

Specifically, here is what our MA is looking for:


- YA, NA, and Adult
-science fiction
-fantasy
-steampunk
-contemporary
-action/adventure 
-romance (YA and NA only)

Our MA is particularly interested in projects that are high-concept and those that explore self-identity and character growth.

This contest is open to newbies and veterans alike. Whether you've won a Mystery Agent contest or have never entered one before, our MA would love to hear from you.


So polish up those Tweet-length pitches - which, for the uninitiated, is 140-characters - and be ready! We will open the post at 10AM EST on November 1st, and close whenever we reach 50 entries.

We can't wait to see your pitches!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Quiet Kids and Christine Fonseca

I am thrilled to be hosting the fabulous Christine Fonseca, both here and on my own blog today. I love all of Christine's books, but this one is especially of interest to me because my sweet son is an introvert (as is my husband....and as am I lol). This book not only gave me some great insights into my son but into myself and my hubs as well. If you know (or are) an introvert, you definitely need to get this book! And now, I'll let Christine have the floor :)

~~~~

I am so happy to announce the official release of my book, Quiet Kids. This book, in addition to being the book I wish I had read as a child, speaks to introversion in children, pulling on the latest research in the area and providing parents and educators strategies to help support introverted children. As most of you know, my writing career started with my books related to gifted children, and while not all gifted children are introverted, a quiet temperament does dominate that particular subgroup of children. Quiet Kids looks at what it means to be introverted in today's noisy world. 

Here is the description of the book:

Being an introverted child is difficult, especially in an ever-increasingly noisy world. Often viewed as aloof, unmotivated or conceited, introverted children are deeply misunderstood by parents, educators and even their peers. That's where Quiet Kids: Helping Your Introverted Child Succeed in an Extroverted World comes in. Designed to provide parents with a blueprint for not only understanding the nature of introversion, Quiet Kids provides specific strategies to teach their children how to thrive in a world that may not understand them. Presented in an easy-to-read, conversational style, the book uses real-world examples and stories from introverts and parents to show parents and educators how to help children develop resiliency and enhance the positive qualities of being an introvert. With specific strategies to address academic performance, bullying, and resiliency, Quiet Kids is a must read for anyone wishing to enhance the lives of introverted children.

QK - BNPublisher's Weekly was kind enough to call the book "Extremely useful for educators and parents, this thoughtful text emphasizes the many gifts of quiet kids.”

Quiet Kids can be found in Barnes and Noble stores across the United States, as well as online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Walmart and other retailers world wide. 

As part of the launch of Quiet Kids, I developed a little quiz to help you know if you may have an introvert in the house:
  1. My child prefers to spend time alone or reading after school? T/F
  2. My child is generally quiet? T/F
  3. Teachers often characterize my child as shy? T/F
  4. I often worry that my child has very few friends? T/F
  5. My children struggles when things are not part of a routine or predictable? T/F
A yes answer to most of these questions may indicate that your child has an introverted temperament. I also have a special giveaway to celebrate the launch:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

THANK YOU for the support of this important book. Be sure to check out the events page on my website to see what other fun things I have planned.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Stop Bullying--Easier Said Than Done

October is the national Bullying Prevention Awareness month, so I thought I'd weigh in with my experiences on this tough issue.

Not long ago, we were visiting family in a small town and made arrangements for my oldest son (11 at the time) to swim with their local team—because he loved swimming and didn't want to quit for the summer. Long story short- he lasted about a week due to bullying.

He kept his mouth shut for a few days, then finally told me about it. Of course I don't want anyone picking on my kid, but I also thought it was a great learning opportunity- since we'd never really been face-to-face with this issue. "If they won't leave you alone, focus on what you're supposed to be doing and ignore them," I said. "Don't put yourself in a bad position." "Tell the coach." What else could I really say?

The first swim meet came and all hell broke loose. I was officiating on deck and had no idea what battles my kid was facing—in a grassy field FULL OF PARENTS WHO DID NOTHING. It only came to a stop when my kid (hiding in his tent) pulled scissors from his backpack and threatened to use them if they didn't leave him alone. THAT got someone's attention. (I won't go into the things that DIDN'T get anyone's attention. Clearly, this still makes me angry.)

So, the meet was delayed and after the 'facts' were sorted, five kids were disqualified, including mine. That's not the part that bothers me—I've always told my kid that he has the right to defend himself and others, no matter what the consequences might be. Being disqualified is a far better consequence than what might have happened had he done nothing.

We had a meeting with the parents of the kids involved (their kids' ages ranging from 14-17) and none of the parents could believe their children would ever do such things, and at the time, it apparently looked like the kids were just playing. (How does throwing my son's tent out of the park's boundaries and into the forbidden rattlesnake zone look like playing?). Anyway, grrrrr, we all apologized, as did I—for what might have happened if they'd pushed my son an inch further, and we all agreed to tough it out on the hopes that everyone might learn something positive from this experience.

Did it work? No. The bullying was far worse with the kids seeming to want to teach my son a lesson for getting them in trouble. The coach never once saw my kid being held underwater at the wall, or the other swimmers timing their strokes and kicks to smack him upside the head as they swam by. And when my son asked the coach to switch lanes, she said no.

I have no advice for how our situation might have ended on a better note. The bullies won. We never went back and thank God we don't live there. We never have to interact with these people again.

With that said, my heart breaks for the kids who can't walk away. For those who go through this kind of torment day in and day out. I'm sure they've tried everything, but the bullies just get more clever.

I'm proud of my son, because he didn't learn that quitting is the answer when times get tough. He learned how it felt to be the new kid in a tight group of people. He learned how important it is to have a friend to stand with. And, while he's always been extremely outgoing, he goes out of his way to welcome every new kid walking through the door. :-) 

There is lots of information going around the blogosphere right now—I've been soaking in the tips in case we're ever faced with bullying again.

For year-round support : 


And here's a great new publisher taking matters into their own hands with awesome daily posts on bullying and a $100 giveaway! http://cleanteenpublishing.blogspot.com/

Monday, October 14, 2013

"It's Called (Writing)"



I love it when I see interviews of film and TV stars and the interviewer is really fixated on how the actor's latest role is nothing like their last one. Or perhaps the talk show host knows the actor well enough to say that the role is so disturbingly unlike their "real" personality.

The actor will usually try to explain something that they drew on (inside themselves, or by observation) to convincingly play a crazed serial killer, but when pressed, they're eventually reduced to some form of "It's called acting." (Even Elmo has used that explananation; see the video at the bottom of the post)

This cracks me up, because as writers we fall under the same kind of scrutiny. If we include a matricidal villain, we get questions (and assumptions) about how we feel about mothers. If we include poisons or bioweapons in our spy thriller, people stop accepting invitations to dinner parties at our homes (although, the NSA or FBI may occasionally arrive without an invitation).

It's as if people think that the phrase "write what you know" is more of a natural law than fairly impractical advice. After all, if we were all writing only what we ourselves had experienced, fiction would be a much narrower field.

There could be no works with characters of the opposite gender, no stories featuring characters beyond the people we meet in our daily lives, no re-imaginations of historical events. No fantastical creatures from the "here there be dragons" portions of the map, rather than the real-life ones on display in zoos or sleeping on our sofas.

So here's to imagining worlds and experiences beyond our own little spheres--and writing them so well that we can know them ourselves. And bringing readers along on that journey too.




Sunday, October 13, 2013

Giving Up

The other day I had a writing setback. Not a huge one, but the timing of it made me add up all my rejections for the past few years, and... well, it was a big number.

Amid them, I've had a handful of acceptances, but so far, it's all come to ... well, nothing.

One thought brought me comfort: the thought of giving up.

I could just give up! I didn't have to do this any longer. I didn't have to work toward publishing my fiction. I didn't even have to write fiction.

Give up.

It was possible. I could stop for a little while, or forever.

I could give up.

Why was the comforting? Because it's a choice. As long as I can give up, I am free. The corollary is that as long as I pursue this path, it means that I am choosing it.

So I'm choosing it for now.

Here's a little theme song for those of us who need the option to quit so that we keep going. There's no glory in compulsion -- I choose this of my own free will.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Spooky Halloween Release-Coming soon!

Hello Everyone!

I am happy to announce I have a very spooky book that will be released on the night before Halloween! In fact...October 30th is my birthday! I can't think of a better birthday gift for a writer--can you? :) After selecting a beautiful model and haunting setting, my publisher hosted a live photo shoot for the cover. We are so pleased with the results and will be releasing the cover very soon! Below is a teaser cover.

CLEAN TEEN PUBLISHING 

River of Bones by Angela J. Townsend (What are you afraid of? Find out October 30, 2013.)

Picture

*This image is a teaser cover for River of Bones. The official cover will be revealed mid October. 

When seventeen-year-old Dharma Moore moves to Bayou country so her scam artist mother can work as a Paranormal Investigator, she discovers that more than ghosts haunt the abandoned plantation they now call home.

Centuries ago, a voodoo curse was placed on the swamp waters surrounding the old plantation by a murdered slave. This terrible curse ensnares Dharma with its deadly effects. To save herself, she must face the terror of the haunted waters, find the dead woman's skull, and convince the slave's soul to release her from its torments. When Dharma discovers an ancient secret that links her to the property—a secret kept from her by her own family—she realizes that the curse is more personal to her than she ever imagined.

 To survive, Dharma must accept the help of the locals, and put her trust in the handsome gardener, Wolf Bodine—who is the only one crazy enough to come near the plantation. With his help, Dharma must learn to embrace the truth and accept that magic is not only real… but that it can be very, very deadly!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Books: Light for writers everywhere


I came across this quote recently on Pinterest, and it's so true. Even though we writers still strive to read for the enjoyment of it, each ingested word strengthens our writing abilities by broadening our vocabulary, smoothing out our plot understanding, and gives us a window into what works and what works even better.

love!
image found on Pinterest
That light enabling us biblio and logophiles (bibliophile, a lover of books; logophile, a lover of words) to continue and come up with new ideas and opinions is, basically a light of experience. We can look back at years previous and see how far we've come writing-wise, and a large portion of that new growth can be attributed to reading. Not only that, but I'm pretty sure most of us can recall exactly which book/s we were reading when inspiration struck and gave us the next "a-ha moment". 

As I was writing Pity Isn't An Option, I was looking for the overall feel of hopelessness and lack not in the present time, but from a different time period. I needed to understand how it was when less was more. My grandmother grew up in an orphanage during the Great Depression with seven of her siblings. Their way of getting by was engrained so strongly upon her that she carried most of those survival "skills" into her adult life. Though she didn't speak much about her upbringing to me, her hoarding the most random and simple things (like rubber bands and hotel notepads and No. 2 pencils) proved that it had to have been hard. When I was little and stayed over, I never could get her to allow the bath water to go past my waist; each sandwich I ate where crust was left on the plate hurt her to the core--I could see it in her eyes; and not eating an entire egg was the worst atrocity on earth. It wasn't hatefulness, or bossiness, it was waste. There was never, ever enough, therefore, you did not waste anything.

This was kind of the feeling I was looking for while writing Pity Isn't An Option. In the readerly path I was on at that particular time, about four specific books not only enabled me to feel that lack by providing the light, but showed how differently people react when faced with same circumstances. Out of those four, two really grounded me in that understanding while giving me a sense of families who worked together in spite of that oppression: An Owl on Every Post by Sanora Babb, and A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly.

What about you? Are there any books in particular that have been your light, your inspiration? Why?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How Many Drafts?





If you're a writer, I'm sure you've heard this question before, "Are you a pantser or a plotter?"


Most times people fall definitively into one of these two camps. There are some who will admit to being a hybrid of this called a "plantser." These are writers who loosely plot, but mostly write what comes to them rather than having a definitive guideline for their story. I fall into this hybrid category. I used to write by the seat of my pants and then go back and rearrange my work as needed. It ended up being a lot of work and most times my plot was full of holes.


Now that I'm on my fourth manuscript, I've learned to write smarter not harder. I'm just sorry it took me so long to figure out what works for me. When it comes to drafts, I've figured out a process that helps make my work take shape, and I thought I'd share that process today.


1) The Spill My Guts Draft


This is where I write without stopping or editing. It's like I'm in a race with my brain to get the story out as quickly as possible before the muse disappears. For me, this type of draft is very freeing, yet it comes with many problems i.e. typos, somewhat incoherent sentences, and continuity issues. This is all okay though, because I know I'm going to come back and fix it.


2) The Meticulous Surgeon Draft


In this draft, the work REALLY gets done. I dissect each sentence and make sure I'm using the strongest verbs. The dialogue has to be clean, and the pacing needs to match the tone of the story.



3) Emotional Fluency Draft


By this time I hope my writing is tight, so now I go back over the character's emotional arc. Am I slowly revealing who my character is and what he or she needs? Or am I info dumping all over the place? Can I string the reader along with just enough enticing info to pique their curiosity, or do I need to dig deeper and get them more emotionally invested in my protagonist?



4) It Better Be Good By Now Draft


This is the last pass. At this point I print out the entire manuscript (sorry, trees!) and read through each chapter out loud. If I stumble over words, or the dialogue is stilted, I rework it until it flows. I also look at the final sentences in each chapter to make sure they are as strong as possible. This is critical because those last words are going to be what entices the reader to move on to the next chapter. Some people insist these sentences should be cliffhangers, but I disagree. It's unrealistic to think you can build up that type of anticipation at the end of every chapter. Instead, I focus on making the sentence strong enough that the reader turns the page without thinking - that's the real victory - moving the story forward without tipping your hand.


What happens next? Finally, I'm ready to pass the manuscript on to my beta readers and critique partners. When their feedback comes back, I read it over and adjust the manuscript accordingly.


This is my own personal process. What works for me may not won't work for someone else and that's okay. The key is to figure out what drafting technique works for you and then stick with it.  Only through editing and refining our work can we make it something readers will cherish and want to read time and again.


What drafting process works for you?  Please share in the comments below. Maybe your process will spark a fire in another writer!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Writer Reunion

A few Saturdays ago, I had a chance to catch up with a lovely group of writer friends that I met last year through the Northern Ohio SCBWI annual conference. Many of us are now friends on Twitter and relished to have the chance to talk to each other in more than 140 characters at a time.

I think I stayed at the dinner table with most of them for about six hours!

All of us are on different points in our writing journey. Some are querying. One is one the verge of representation. A few of us are on sub. Some have had only one agent. A couple of us are in our second agent partnership. A few of us are still working on the same manuscript we workshopped at last year’s conference and others have written at least two new manuscripts. (I won’t tell you which category I fall under.) But no matter where we are, it is all various degrees of fascinating and frustrating and wonderful and mind-boggling.

At one point, a member of our group said, “It’s funny to see how our perspectives change with time. How decisions we’d make as newer writers on this journey aren’t decisions we’d make today.”

It was an interesting point. In three years time, I do feel like I’ve grown up a lot in my writing journey. I’ve mellowed out. I’ve learned not to obsess so much over things that are out of my control. I’ve figured out when to write an email to my agent and hit SAVE DRAFT rather than SEND. And how to be ok with my own process rather than trying to make someone else’s process work for me.

I’m sure this feeling of maturity and wisdom will evaporate when I enter uncharted territory. But for now, I like the fact that I’ve gained some perspective through the ups and downs of being a newbie in the world of publishing. I’m looking forward to hearing how careers and insights have changed during next year’s writer reunion. Until then, I’ll keep tabs on everyone’s journey from a distance, usually documented in 140 characters or less.

 How has your perspective of writing/publishing changed from year to year? Is there a group of writers with whom you collectively mark the passage of time?

-- Kellie DuBay Gillis

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Mystery Agent Winners and Reveal!!!

Please welcome our Mystery Agent.............

Carrie Pestritto of The Prospect Agency



Carrie has chosen 2 first place winners and 2 runners up!! So, without further ado, the 2 first place winners, who each get a full manuscript request are:

Kate L. Mary with her NA Romantic Mystery COLLISION
and
Kara Reynolds with her NA Contemporary Romance LOVE AND THE BARD

Carrie would like to see the first 100 pages from:

Ashley Walker with her Upper Middle Grade Adventure ONCE UPON A TIGER
and
Kim Van Sickler

Congrats ladies!! Please email us at operationawesome6 (at) gmail (dot) com and we'll give you the deets on submitting your material.

Carrie was kind enough to answer a few questions for us as well :)

OA: If you could pick any book that every writer should read, what would it be and why? 

CP: That is such an impossible question!! I have never universally recommended one book: what I prescribe depends on your genre and your story. I have recommended books like Kiera Cass's THE SELECTION, Margaret Mitchell's GONE WITH THE WIND, Alexandra David's Neels THE SECRET LIVES OF ALTAR BOYS as "homework" for some of my authors. I do think that is very important for you to read within your genre, especially any books that are similar to yours. You can see what that author does successfully, what they do that you like or don't like, and so on to create an awareness of your own writing style and what you need to do to improve/hone it. But if I were just to recommend a book just because I love it, one of my all-time favorites is Dodie Smith's I CAPTURE THE CASTLE. My mom gave it to me when I was in middle school and I have re-read it dozens of times over the years.

OA: Do you have any tips for writers struggling with their pitches?

CP: Think of writing your pitch as though you were writing the jacket flap for your book. You don't have to summarize the entire story - just give me enough to whet my appetite and get me eager to read your sample chapters! Also, if you have a platform, have won any writing awards/contests, or have relevant background of any kind make sure to let me know! Those are all big bonus points (but it also doesn't count against you if you don't have any of those yet).

OA: Is there anything specific you are just dying to get your hands on? 

CP: You can look at my profile on Google+, where I list projects I'd love to see with the hashtag #BooksImLookingFor.

OA: Do you have any exciting client/agency news you can share? 

CP: Yes! I will soon have my first book published! And by "I," I mean my author Dan Newman. Keep your eye out for his thriller, THE CLEARING, which pubs November 7th.

OA: And a few just for fun: 

Coffee or Tea? Coffee when I need the energy; tea when I want to be fancy.
Sea or mountains? Definitely the mountains. I love being around trees (which makes my move to New York kind of funny) and I love to hike.
Chocolate or bacon? Ummm both! I'm actually pretty sure that there is such a thing as chocolate covered bacon.
Ebook or print book? PRINT BOOK. I love being able to hold books as I read them and the main decorative feature of my room is stacks of books piled everywhere.
Favorite tv show? My boyfriend teases me endlessly about this, but my favorite TV show is True Blood.

Oh, we are huge fans of Le Skarsgard around here so she doesn't have to tell us about True Blood ;)

Thanks so much Carrie, and for everyone who participated this month!!

For more information on Carrie and what she'd like to see, you can visit her Google+ profile, her blog, or her agency's website.

Blog Tour Stop for Ashley Harris and SHOCK ME

We are pleased to be a stop on Ashley Harris's blog tour for her new book SHOCK ME :D Ashley stopped by to share her Dream Cast for her book. Be sure to check out all her blog tour deets and the awesome book trailer and giveaway!!




As someone who not only writes but works behind the scenes in the film business, a fun thing I love to read from my favorite authors is their dream cast for their books I'm currently reading. So now it's only fair I share my personal dream cast for SHOCK ME.    

Skyler Samuels as Donna:










Liam Hemsworth as Ryan:










Dylan O'Brien as Spencer:










Robert Sheehan as Paul:







Saoirse Ronan as Rebecca:








Taylor Kitsch as Randy:







Crystal Reed as Lynn:











Thanks for stopping by and sharing your gorgeous dream cast with us!!

Here is the full blog tour schedule for Ashley and SHOCK ME

10/1 - Book’s Blog
10/3 - Operation Awesome
10/8 - Becky On Books
10/10 - Jeanz Book Review
10/14 - Manic Readers Guest Author
10/14 - Lore Lush Book Reviews
10/15 - Sweet Books
10/16 - HEA Romances With A Little Kick
10/17 - Journey with Books
10/18 - Reading Rain Blog
10/21 Deluged with Books Cafe
10/22 - Kindle and Me
10/23 - The Delighted Reader
10/24 - What The Cat Read
10/28 - Margay Leah Justice
10/28 - Love, Laughter, Friendship
10/29 - Lusty Penguin Reviews
10/30 - Books To Get Lost In
10/30 - Ja Ĩitam, a ti?
10/30 - Endless Reading


Ashley is also giving away a $15 gift card!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Book Details:     

Title: Shock Me 
Author: Ashley C. Harris 
Author Location: FL, United States 
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Romance 
Release Date: September 17th, 2013 
Words: 68,230 Words
Publisher: Self-Published 
Language: English 
Format: Digital eBook 
ISBN: 978-1-30157-839-9   

A promising gymnast, Donna Young is a shy, quiet nobody from the wrong side of town. The only exciting thing in life is her secret friendship with Ryan, her childhood crush. But after the accident—one that should have killed her—she discovers she has impossible powers! Why now, at sixteen, can she transform into something shocking and inhuman? Donna doesn’t know how to use her new abilities or who she can trust, but unveiling this mystery might lead to conclusions about Ryan that are deadly.    
Rich kid, Ryan Applegate is the most popular guy in town. He has a face that should be on a poster in every girl’s bedroom and dates the hottest chick in school. But ever since the big explosion at the town’s power plant, Ryan has been keeping secrets of his own, that if revealed could force him to choose between his family and the girl he's forbidden to love.   As their electrifying puzzle unfolds, so unfolds a town where friends become enemies, and enemies become unrecognizable and intertwined. Tortured heroes just might be the bad guys, and Donna discovers that her and Ryan’s secrets are powerful enough to destroy everyone... including themselves.   

LINKS:


 Author and film director Ashley C. Harris resides in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. When she is not hard at work writing or dreaming up new indie films she spends her time working out, reading the bible, and going on breath-taking adventures with her sister.   The seed for becoming an author started budding for Ashley in the third grade, when she wrote her first hundred page book during her class's quite time, her teacher couldn't believe it and voiced over her that surly she'd become an author someday. Those words never left Ashley and she has been writing ever since.   Ashley loves to create young adult, science fiction, fantasy novels, and is currently working on her first steamy romance... with more to come.