Monday, October 29, 2012

Building A World, Part One: Government

Okay, so my trilogy blog posts are done. I was sort of at a loss as to what I might tackle next, because I really like discussing "how-to" things in writing, and so I turned to something I constantly have to do: building a world.

This could be a fantasy world, a futuristic/science fiction world, or even a contemporary world. All books have settings, and even in something as familiar as high school, there's a hierarchy to how things work.

So today we're going to discuss a main component of any world: government.

You must establish the role of government in your world. Some questions to consider:

  • Who makes the laws?
  • Who enforces them?
  • What are the punishments if the rules are broken?
  • What kinds of rules/laws are there?
  • How did these laws come about?
  • How does one rise to a position of power? (See why this applies to high school? Ha!)
  • How does one lose their position of power?
  • Does the MC agree with the government? Fear it? Want to change it? Live under its protection willingly? 

And then we get to the real meat of your story. Because usually, the MC isn't just going along willingly with Those In Charge (TIC). They might be trying to subvert the government without drawing any attention to themselves (example: MATCHED by Ally Condie). In essence, they're hiding. Learning what TIC are really like, what their world is really like.

Which, sidenote: This is why YA fiction is such a great place to anchor stories like this. Because adolescents -- and uh, a lot of adults too -- are figuring out what their world is really like.

So once you've got a pretty good idea of how the government came to be, who's in charge of the government, how it runs, and how your MC views it, you're ready to consider these questions:

  • How far will TIC go to maintain their way of rule?
  • How far will the MC go to change the way their world is governed?
  • Is it even possible to change the entire government in my story?
  • Does it need to be changed? Or can resolution be found while the government is still intact?
  • What does my MC need to enact change? (In ERAGON, he needed the dragon.)
  • Who does my MC need at his side to thwart TIC? (In CATCHING FIRE, Katniss had people on her side she didn't even know about.)
  • What does the MC envision the "new world" to be like? 
  • Who might run the new government?
  • Why might life be better being run in a different way? How might it be worse? 

And once you know all that, I believe you can write a world that A) makes sense, and B) can house a character and a plot.

We're going to continue our discussion of building a world next week, possibly with the subject of textiles, fabrics, and foods.

Have you built a world in your writing? Do you spend time answering these questions about government? What else would you add to the list?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Social Media Hangover?

Okay, so dude, there is so much going on on the social media channels. Day, night, morning, all the time!

I read a great post by Creepy Query Girl a couple of weeks ago, and if you haven't read it, you should.

Basically I agree with her assessment that there's just an overload of promotional things out there. Way more than there used to be three years ago, when the roads to publication were few and harder to step onto.

Now, I feel like I'm constantly inundated with requests to host people on my blog, read their books, or help promote their books. Not only that, but I'm still promoting my own books. With hundreds of thousands of books being published each year, how can one navigate the myriad of Rafflecopter giveaways, blog contests, and/or twitter chats (just to name a few)?

I'll tell you, it's not easy.

I find myself tuning out contests more an more. I glaze over tweets that read the same. I'm constantly trying to find my voice among a thousand other shouting authors.

It's a lot like this, actually...

Do twitter chats, rafflecopters, and blog contests still work? Sure. But I don't think they have the same impact now that they used to.

So what's an author to do during this social media hangover?



For the love, someone just tell me!

That's the problem: If I knew, so would everyone else, and that would be flooded too.

I know, I know, you're saying, "Dude, Elana, this is depressing. Give me some hope!" 

Well, here it is. Yes, the social media scene is flooded with giveaways and book blog tours, but there is something different about you and your books.



Don't be afraid to be yourself. Don't be afraid to think outside the box. 

Come up with a new way for people to enter a blog tour contest. 

Try to find a blog tour topic that anyone can participate in, whether they've read your book or not. 

Establish relationships with people online. 

Think through what you can do that no one else seems to be doing. 

Brainstorm with people, because two (or twenty) heads is always better than one. 

What do you think? Are you hung over from all the social media things going on? What ideas do you have to make your books stand out? 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Just Three More Days!

To enter to win an amazing book or ARC in my Review Drive for Possession or Surrender.

If you need full details, click here. (To enter, click here.)

Basically, if you leave a review for Possession or Surrender, you can enter to win cool books. And who doesn't want cool books??

Enter to win these signed books:

These are all ARCs -- advanced reader copies -- of books that aren't out yet!

CRASH by Lisa McMann, coming January 8, 2013

THEN YOU WERE GONE by Lauren Strasnick, coming  January 8, 2013

THE PROGRAM by Suzanne Young, coming  April 30, 2013

TEETH by Hannah Moskowitz, coming January 1, 2013

WITCH WORLD by Christopher Pike, coming November 13, 2012

THE GATHERING DARK by Christine Johnson, coming  February 12, 2013

THE MURMURINGS by Carly Anne West, coming March 5, 2013

AND if that weren't enough, I'm giving away a prize package of books to one lucky winner who helps spread the word about this Review Drive. These books aren't signed, but they are AWESOME! All hardcover unless noted:
1. IN HONOR by Jessi Kirby
2. GLIMPSE by Carol Lynch Williams (paperback)
3. SEE YOU AT HARRY'S by Jo Knowles
5. FURY by Elizabeth Miles

You can enter that here -- it takes a tweet or a blog post!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here's where you can leave reviews:
Possession on Amazon
Possession on Goodreads
Surrender on Amazon (I'd really like to get to 50!)
Surrender on Goodreads

Contest ends on Friday, October 26. Go forth and enter!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Writing a Trilogy, Part Three: Book Three

Okay, so you're back for part three! This is Book Three. (You can see my posts about writing a trilogy, part one and part two.)

So Book Three, in my experience, is The War. Plain and simple. You've set up what's wrong with the world/MC in Book One. You've explored what they're going to do to fix the world/themselves in Book Two. And now it's time to DO IT.

It's the end conflict, and everything has to come to a head by the end of the book.

Think of the trilogies (or series) you've read. I'm thinking of The Hunger Games, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and Harry Potter.

Think about what happens in the last book. Basically, your main character overcomes all their shortcomings, figures out the mysteries, solves the puzzles, and prevails over the villain.

Sounds easy, right?


Sure, it sounds easy. But it's really hard to actually do.

Here are a few things that will hopefully help you along your way.

I like to think of Book Three as Act Three in the three-act story structure model. And Act Three is my favorite part of any novel to write.

You get to have that Dark Night of the Soul moment we talked about at the end of Book Two. You can continue that a bit into Book Three, but really, Book Three is all about the Finale.

Now, if you've read Blake Snyder's SAVE THE CAT, you know he completely glazed over the Finale. What you need is the third book in that trilogy (no lie! There are THREE OF THEM!). It's called SAVE THE CAT STRIKES BACK.

And not only does it have a lot of great info about story structure, but it gives you a five-point finale.

This is exactly what Book Three is. The five-point finale for your series.

Let's examine a little bit here.

1. Gathering the Team: Main characters don't solve problems on their own. They have a team.

In MOCKINGJAY, Katniss have a team of people she's running with as they storm toward President Snow. So your job as the author is to first completely decimate your MC's team, and then gather them up again.

2. Once the team is gathered, they Execute the Plan. They have a plan, and they execute it. There should be an element of "this will never work" to their plan. I like to think of the movie Independence Day when I'm writing this part of my book/series.

Have you seen that movie? The part where Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith are like, "We're going to take this 50-year-old space ship up into outer space, fly into the mother ship, dock with it, download a virus, and fly out of there. Easy peasy lemon squeezy."

I actually scoffed in the theater when I saw it. I was like, "This is crazy! It will never work!"

And guess what? That's the point. It doesn't work.

Because of...

3. The High Tower Surprise. This is the part of the story where the plan that was being executed in Step 2 goes to pot. Things go wrong, the MC was over optimistic, and hey! The bad guys knew we were coming all along.

It looks like all is lost again, but... is it?!

This is where you have to show that growth in your MC. This is where they take who they were in Book One, combine it with what they learned in Book Two, and create a brand-new person that prevails in Book Three.

Because Act Three (and thus Book Three) is all about synthesis. Word math moment:
Who they were before + What they learned = New person who will overcome

This allows the MC to Dig Down Deep. They're forced to do so because A) there's no back-up plan, B) no one on their team has a solution, and C) they have nothing either. Thus, they have to Dig Down Deep to really strip away everything they thought they knew, and take that leap of faith into the great unknown. 

It's when Harry goes into the forest -- alone -- to face Voldemort, and ultimately his death.

Which paves the way for the Execution of the New Plan. And guess what, folks? This one works. It works, because the MC has let go of what they once were. They've searched the deepest parts of themselves, and took a step into the unknown. It works, because the person the MC has become is exactly who was needed all along to overthrow the villain. They weren't that person at the beginning, or the middle, but by the end?

Yeah, they're that person.

And that's what Book Three is about. Synthesizing your MC into the person they need to be to execute the plan that will work.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Writing Lessons from LOST

Okay, so I've been on a bit of an extended writing break. During this time, I've been finding my feet as I start school again, figure out how to make dinner every night and get the kidlets where they need to go, and...watching Lost.

All 6 seasons. All 120 episodes. In like, 3 weeks. Maybe 4.

Now, I'm not saying it's good or bad, but I did liken some things from it to writing. See, even when I'm not writing, I'm still thinking about writing.

And what I learned from Lost is that a character's backstory can make them a rounder, richer person. Their past can explain their present behavior. Their experience can make them into a hero.

I liked that part about Lost. I liked seeing the backstory of the individual characters. It makes me like them more, empathize with them, and helps me understand their choices in the present.

It's something we can do with our characters too. I've realized that I need to fully form the background of my characters in a more meaningful and complete way than I have before.

So there you go. Writing lessons from Lost.

Have you ever had a writing brainwave from something non-writing related? 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pinterest and Why I Love It

So I've recently become addicted to Pinterest. When it first came out, I was leery. I couldn't understand how to use it as an author. I signed up, but never logged in, and just--didn't--get--it.

Then about two months ago, I had a realization.

Pinterest isn't a tool for authors.


I have another life outside of publishing. It's a good life too, where I make dinner and paint pumpkins and stuff.

Picture proof. All ideas from Pinterest!

And that's what Pinterest is for! Suddenly, I've become addicted. And it has nothing to do with promoting my books, online interaction with fans, or anything writing related. Sure, it can be used for those purposes, but it wasn't designed as such.

So we shouldn't be trying to use it as such. And once I realized that, I fell in love with Pinterest.

Do you use Pinterest? Come follow me, and I'll follow you back so I can see what awesomeness you're doing in your real life!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Writing a Trilogy, Part Two: Book Two

Okay, so last week we started our exploration of writing a trilogy. I'm back today to talk about the second part of the trilogy: Book Two.

I think Book Two is the hardest. Let's just get that out in the open up front. The author has the challenge of living up to Book One, and the characters aren't new. The world isn't new. The problems aren't new.

We got to see all of those things in the first book, so Book Two usually suffers from Little Sister Syndrome. In fact, in my exploration of trilogies, I read many (MANY) a second book that I felt was exactly like the first. I felt like I'd read the same book twice.

So that's a huge challenge we need to overcome in Book Two. I think there are some "easy" ways to do this. You can write a companion novel. A spin-off. Narrate from a different character's POV. Things like that. But no matter what, Book Two is part of the trilogy, and needs to contribute to the overall story/plot arc of the series.

So what do we need to do in Book Two?

To me, Book Two is the Now We Know What's Wrong With Our World, and This is What We're Going to do to Fix It book.

Applying this to the character, it's the I Know What's Wrong With Myself, and I'm Going to Try to Change novel.

This follows nicely with Book One, which was the This is What's Wrong With My World/Character.

That's the next step in the trilogy. Now that the MC knows, what are they going to do to fix/change things? That's the essence of Book Two.

Of course, Book Two needs it's own plot too. It's own set of problems. It's own main conflict. And this is often where authors fall into the trap of writing another Book One.

So don't do that. Instead, think of these things as you're devising the plot for Book Two. Think of Book Two as the second part of the trilogy. Think of it's role in advancing the series enough to get to Book Three--which is The War. If you don't advance us far enough, Book Three will suffer. If you try to rewrite Book One, Book Two suffers.

So here's how to make Book Two do exactly what it needs to do:
1. Focus on the end. You're driving this crazy train, and you have a specific destination: Book Three. If you know where you need to be for The War to begin, you know what needs to be accomplished in Book Two. And knowing that is more than half the battle.

2. Stretch the main character. They overcame some things to solve the main conflict in Book One. But they still have Things That Need Fixing, and we can continue to stretch and grow them in the plot of Book Two. During this stretching, make sure that more things get fixed.

3. Get to the heart of the overall main conflict. Think of Book Two as the middle act in the three-act trilogy. Act Two--according to Blake Snyder and his beats--takes up half the book. Act One (Book One) is just the beginning. Act Three (Book Three) is just how it ends. But Book Two is the entire middle.

Which might be another reason it's so hard to write.

But in Act Two (Book Two), there are several things to address that will help you find the heart of the series and move toward Book Three.

The Series Midpoint: This is a defining moment for the series. It's when consequences are suddenly made clear for the series. And it happens in Book Two--usually about halfway through. It's where the main character knows exactly what they're up against, and even how far the antagonist will go to achieve their diabolical ends.

I like to think of Harry Potter. Book 4 this time--which is the midpoint of the HP series. Book 4 is full of awesomeness. The Tri-Wizard Cup. But during all this, we realize how far Voldemort will go to achieve his desires. He will kill and kidnap. He will send in spies. He will do whatever it takes.

And Harry realizes it too, right there in the graveyard after watching Cedric die, and being transported from the maze with the portkey.

This leads us to two more important things that are important to the series that happen in Book Two.

The All is Lost Moment, and the Dark Night of the Soul.

The main character should experience a profound All is Lost moment for the series. To me, this is when Harry's blood no longer is a protection to him. It's exactly when Voldemort presses his finger to Harry's scar.

The Dark Night of the Soul is the darkness before the dawn. We can usually disguise the Dark Night of the Soul as the climax of Book Two. It's all wrapped up like this:

All is Lost moment for the series
Climax of Book Two
Dark Night of the Soul period for the series

This is where the main character--though they may have just overcome the main conflict in this story--realizes that they have a heckuva long way to go to beat the bad guys. It's where they have no solutions to orchestrate that defeat, and they're clinging to their safe and trusted places for refuge until the sun rises.

This is usually how Book Two ends. There's a glimmer of hope on the horizon, but we can't see it yet--and neither can they. 

So there you go! Long-winded, but a bit of a map for how to navigate the landmines of Book Two in a trilogy. 

What do you think? Read some Book Two's that are just a repeat of Book One? Read some great ones? What's essential material for Book Two?

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Wisdom of Justin Bieber

No, really. Go with me on this for just a minute. So my seven-year-old daughter really likes Justin Bieber. I've bought her books about him from the book orders. Seriously. I've listened to two songs by him, and okay. They're songs.

Then I heard his new song, "As Long As You Love Me." I downloaded it, put it on the iPod, listened to it in the car. Etc. Etc.

I'm mindlessly listening one day, not really thinking about much, and I hear these words:

But the grass ain't always greener on the other side,
It's green where you water it
So I know we got issues baby true, true, true,
But I'd rather work on this with you

And oh my heck, you guys! It's so, so true--for publishing too.

I think we often think that we'll be happier if we're doing something else. If we can get an agent, or a different publisher, or a better book deal, or the marketing support, or whatever.

But it's just not true. The grass isn't greener somewhere else. It's greenest where we water it.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

More Review Drive Prizes!

Okay, so the Review Drive for Possession and Surrender is in full swing! Thanks to those of you who have entered. (If you need full details, click here.) ((To enter, click here.))

Basically, if you leave a review for Possession or Surrender, you can enter to win cool books. And who doesn't want cool books??

So far, we've got these signed books:

And over the last few days, I've been announcing several ARCs on the Facebook page. So all of these are now up for grabs too -- simply for leaving a review for Possession or Surrender!

CRASH by Lisa McMann, coming January 8, 2013

THEN YOU WERE GONE by Lauren Strasnick, coming  January 8, 2013

THE PROGRAM by Suzanne Young, coming  April 30, 2013

TEETH by Hannah Moskowitz, coming January 1, 2013

WITCH WORLD by Christopher Pike, coming November 13, 2012

THE GATHERING DARK by Christine Johnson, coming  February 12, 2013

THE MURMURINGS by Carly Anne West, coming March 5, 2013

AND if that weren't enough, I'm giving away a prize package of books to one lucky winner who helps spread the word about this Review Drive. These books aren't signed, but they are AWESOME! All hardcover unless noted:
1. IN HONOR by Jessi Kirby
2. GLIMPSE by Carol Lynch Williams (paperback)
3. SEE YOU AT HARRY'S by Jo Knowles
5. FURY by Elizabeth Miles

You can enter that here -- it takes a tweet or a blog post!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here's where you can leave reviews:
Possession on Amazon
Possession on Goodreads
Surrender on Amazon (I'd really like to get to 50!)
Surrender on Goodreads

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ghost Tour for FORGET ME NOT: Stop #4

Available now! Order here.
FORGET ME NOT is a paranormal verse novel exploring the story of a young girl, Ally Cassell, who makes a rash and desperate decision after compromising photos are texted around the school. She then finds herself vacillating between worlds with the ability to see ghosts.

There is someone else on campus who can see ghosts too – Elijah McCall. He’s loved Ally for years and would do anything to help her escape her in-between place, trapped on the H-hall. He knows it all too well. He spent some time there himself.

I got an early copy of FORGET ME NOT, and I devoured it in pretty much one sitting. Number one, it's written in verse, and this is extremely hard to do. So I was studying the structure and the words and everything.

And it's brilliant. If you like reading well-crafted stories with exactly the right words, you'll like FORGET ME NOT.

And today, I'm stop #4 on Carolee's Ghost Tour! Be sure to check out the first three stops here:
STOP 1 - Visited the places around the school where different ghosts gravitate depending on how they met their end.
STOP 2 - A ghost hunter video.
STOP 3 - Explored the history of the school.

You can win this Shakespeare necklace made specially for the Ghost Tour by leaving a comment, or following Carolee, or a bunch of other things. Links at the bottom of this post.

This post, STOP 4 on the tour, is an interview with Elijah McCall, but first check out this poem Ally wrote about Elijah.

leather biker pants even
though he doesn’t ride

a bike. Total geek. Loose white
shirt and leather boots make him

look like Orlando
from As You Like It. He went
to the psych ward last

spring when his brother Frank died.
When he came back he kept to

himself. Sat alone
during lunch scribbling in his
notebook and then he

spent a whole month speaking in
iambic pentameter.

He knows what it’s like
to be the campus joke. I
would be safe with him.

The other kids think he’s lost
his mind. I think he’s found it.

Shakespeare is a mask
to hide the pain. I wonder—
if I found a mask,

put it on and tied it fast,
would I be okay again?

(from pg. 23 of FORGET ME NOT by Carolee Dean copyright 2012)
Contact the author for permission to reproduce

And now onto the interview with Elijah!

ELANA: It sounds like you spent some time on the H-hall yourself.

ELIJAH: Yes, that is when I started seeing ghosts.

ELANA: After you took the pills.

ELIJAH: ‘Twas not the brightest move. I must confess.

ELANA: I heard you spent some time in a psychiatric hospital, and when you got back to school, you spent a month speaking in iambic pentameter. Why is that?

ELIJAH: ‘Tis the meter of the famous bard.

ELANA: Yeah, I know a lot of Shakespeare’s characters spoke in iambic pentameter, but dude, real people don't talk that way.

ELIJAH: Shakespeare's just a mask to hide the pain.

ELANA: Do you realize you’re doing it now?


ELANA: Speaking in iambic pentameter.


ELANA: No. Its okay. We all have our little quirks.

ELIJAH: Some of us have more than our fair share.

ELANA: I can relate (bacon, anyone?). Another quirk-you said you can see ghosts. Does that ever bother you?

ELIJAH: A ghost is just a person who got stuck.

ELANA: That’s one way of looking at it.

ELIJAH: I must go now, but we will talk again.

ELANA: Thanks for coming, Elijah. I look forward to talking to you again.

You can win the Shakespeare necklace and other cool prizes by visiting GHOST TOUR CENTRAL Go to the Rafflecopter link at the bottom of the page. Or enter it here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And don’t forget to read about the making of the book trailer and watch the video HERE. It's seriously one of the coolest things I've seen done for a book, by teens.

Leave a comment to enter to win the Shakespeare necklace! And can you imagine writing a whole novel in verse? Trust me when I say it's hard to do. I know. I'm attempting it.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Writing A Trilogy, Part One: Book One

Okay, so I've written and almost published a trilogy now. I never thought I'd do that. To me, Possession was a stand-alone, and I had no idea how to write a sequel. So I didn't. I wrote a companion novel instead. *wink*

But really, I wrote a trilogy. And it was hard. And as I was preparing to write the third book, I read a bunch of trilogies to kind of get an idea of the basic formula.

Because I believe everything has a formula. I found as I was reading that trilogies are no different. So for the next few weeks, I'm going to be talking about writing a trilogy, and maybe if you're writing one or thinking of writing one, this will be useful for you.

Book One: This is the first act. It's the first third of your overall trilogy, and should be thought of as such.

In Book One, all the important characters are introduced. The main character, obviously. But they're joined by secondary characters, as well as the villain(s), and they should all have page-time in the first novel, even if they're not all on-page.

The Six Things That Need Fixing are established. This is a Save the Cat term, so I'm not taking credit. In fact, all of this is me thinking through the Save the Cat beats on a more global scale. But the Six Things That Need Fixing are typically weaknesses in the main character that they need to work through and overcome to solve the main conflict in the story.

These Things are the things that in the end, if the MC doesn't overcome, they won't prevail over the villain. They're also the Things that if the MC does overcome, they'll save the day in the eleventh hour.

These Things can be powerful indeed. And you establish them for the entire trilogy in Book One.

The catalyst to the main, over-arching conflict happens, and quite often, this is masked as the main conflict of Book One. In fact, the main conflict of Book One is typically just the tip of the iceberg of the conflict for the entire trilogy.

Sure, the MC solves the conflict. All is saved for this story at the end. But usually they realize how much farther they still have to go at some point at the end of Book One. We get a little taste of what's truly at stake, and just how far the villain is willing to go to achieve their goal. Book Two will expose more of this, but we'll save that for next week.

The debate whether the hero is going to be real or a fake is also explored. Usually, in Book One, the hero has to decide whether they're going to throw themselves into the story and do what they can. This is a type of what the entire trilogy is about.

You'll need to test and try your MC in Book One, take them to the brink of what they can do. This is how you make them choose to be a real hero or a fake hero. You'll do the same in your trilogy. We drag it out in Book One a little bit, by giving them moments of desperation, and more Things That Need Fixing, and not allowing them to overcome all their weaknesses in one story.

These are the same things that you do in the first act of your book too, but you apply them on a global level to the series.

Basically, I think of Book One as: Introduction to What's Wrong With This World. And What My Main Character Could be Made Of.

Next week, we'll explore Book Two, it's role in the trilogy, and how to think about the book as a whole.

What would you add to this? Have you penned a trilogy? Planning to write one? 

Friday, October 5, 2012


Okay, so I was typing with my son this past week. He has to log onto this website and complete 250 races, and to sort of encourage him through this somewhat tedious task, I challenged him to try to beat me.

Like that's gonna happen. Ha! But really, he did beat me in a couple where I gave him a head start.

Typing. Exciting times. But it did give me this blog post. One of the quotes we typed included this line: "Focus on your own performance rather than on the competition."

It comes from this book. No lie. SPEED SECRETS, you guys!

The beginning part of the quote we typed said something about how sometimes a car in front of you can be good motivation, and then it went straight for the jugular with the whole "focus on your own performance" line.

I mean, seriously. It's so perfect for writing! Sometimes we are motivated by those who are ahead of us on the track. We see them and what they've done, and we have hope that we can replicate their success.

Sometimes we have to be the lead car. Sometimes we're blazing our own path.

And sometimes we just need to focus on our own performance, putting blinders on to everything else around us.

Where is your focus right now?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Amount of Work it Takes

Okay, so we watch a lot of sports at our house. I've seen documentaries about players, movies about teams, and more football games than I care to admit. True, half the time I don't know where the ball is, but there's something inspiring about sports.

And I think that something is work.

I teach elementary school typing. It's a fine motor skill that's hard for some kids. I teach several writing classes. In an attempt to help those who struggle in typing and as part of most of my presentations, there's one thing I do.

I tell them how much work it takes to get good at something. How if you want to become a good typist, or a good soccer player, or a good trumpeter, you have to practice. A lot.

I tell them that Steve Young didn't show up on the field one day and win the Super Bowl MVP.

I tell them that Michael Phelps didn't wake up one morning and say, "I think I'll go to the Olympics and win eight gold medals."

We can't expect that we'll show up in front of the keyboard and type perfectly or quickly. Or that we can just go to the games on Saturday and score all the goals.

So we certainly shouldn't think that we'll be able to sit down at our laptops and write the next bestseller.

It takes a lot more work than that.

Writing is like sports or typing. The more you practice, the better you'll get. You just have to be willing to put in the work.

So are you ready to put in the work?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Happy Release Day to...

Okay, so there's a new book on the block today. It's KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES by Shannon Messenger. It has a brilliant cover.

It has a likeable character. 

Here's the book description: Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit into her life. She’s skipped multiple grades and doesn’t really connect with the older kids at school, but she’s not comfortable with her family, either. And Sophie has a secret—she’s a Telepath, someone who can read minds. But the day Sophie meets Fitz, a mysterious (and adorable) boy, she learns she’s not alone. He’s a Telepath too, and it turns out the reason she has never felt at home is that, well…she isn’t. Fitz opens Sophie’s eyes to a shocking truth, and almost instantly she is forced to leave behind her family for a new life in a place that is vastly different from what she has ever known.

But Sophie still has secrets, and they’re buried deep in her memory for good reason: The answers are dangerous and in high-demand. What is her true identity, and why was she hidden among humans? The truth could mean life or death—and time is running out.

It's a fantastic read, so get your copy today on release day! Congrats to Shannon!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Review Drive for Possession and Surrender Begins Today!

Okay, so there is a Review Drive going on -- starting today!

The How:
1. Leave a review for Possession or Surrender (or both!) on either Amazon or Goodreads (or both!).

2. Fill out the form on my Facebook page HERE.

The What You Win:
1. This week, there are two options: a signed copy of STRUCK by Jennifer Bosworth or a signed copy of SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo.

2. Each week, two new novels will be up for grabs. Giveaways run from Monday - Friday until October 26. That's four weeks of giveaways -- and plenty of time to get your hands on a copy of either Possession or Surrender and leave a review!

The Technicalities:
1. If you've left a review in the past, you can enter to win now. Just fill out the form.

2. You do not need to leave a positive review to enter.

3. Text reviews are not required, but highly encouraged.

4. Only open to US and Canadian mailing addresses.

So yeah. That's all there is. Hopefully, you can help spread the word about the Review Drive, and in fact, I've made that easy for you! Tweet, Facebook, blog, whatever you want to do. And that'll earn you entries for this month-long giveaway for a prize package of amazing YA contemporary novels.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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