Thursday, November 29, 2012

YA Scavenger Hunt - Red Team Style!

Yes, it's that time again! I'm thrilled to be participating in the YA Scavenger Hunt again, after taking a break from the last one.

I am part of the RED TEAM scavenger hunt. Be sure to check out all the authors on this loop, because we have some wicked-amazing secret content up for a limited time only! Get out there and find something related to SURRENDER!

You can also follow along on the Blue Team hunt, and you can go here for all the hunt information and see all the books up for grabs!

Not only that, but the YA Scavenger Hunt is the best contest there is. You can win a plethora of books--one from every participating author! A plethora, I say! So be sure to collect the letters for the Red Team at each blog, including mine!

Today, I'm hosting the lovely Gina Damico! She wrote SCORCH, which is the second book in the Croak series.

ABOUT SCORCH: Sixteen-year-old Lex Bartleby is a teenage grim reaper with the bizarre ability to Damn souls. That makes her pretty scary, even to fellow Grims. But now Lex is a pariah in Croak, the little town she calls home. To escape the townspeople’s wrath, she and her friends embark on a wild road trip to DeMyse. Though this sparkling desert oasis is full of luxuries and amusements, it feels like a prison to Lex. Her best chance at escape would be to stop all the senseless violence that she caused—but how can she do that from DeMyse, where the Grims seem mysteriously oblivious to the bloodshed?

Buy here!

Gina's secret content is a deleted scene from SCORCH. Read it below!
SCORCH deleted scene Winter YASH

ABOUT GINA: Gina Damico grew up under four feet of snow in Syracuse, New York. She has worked as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker and breadmonger. She lives outside Boston with her husband, two cats, one dog, and a closet full of black hoodies.

Visit Gina's blog here.


As if that weren't enough, I'm giving away some goodies myself! These giveaways can only be entered here on my blog, by filling out the Rafflecopter widget below.
The giveaway ends at the same time the YA Scavenger Hunt does -- on Sunday, December 2 at Noon Pacific.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Oh! And you'll need this number to enter the Red Team Scavenger Hunt prize package extravaganza. All you do is collect all the numbers from all the blogs on the Red Team, and add them up! (You can use a calculator, so no worries!)

The secret number is 11.



What's one new book you've learned about on this YA Scavenger Hunt?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Show & Tell with Jessica Bell

Dude, that rhymes! I swear I didn't do that on purpose. But today, I'm hosting a friend of mine, Jessica Bell, as she talks about her new novella, SHOW, DON'T TELL. It's a pocket-guide, and everyone who writes needs it in their back pocket.

Jessica's here to talk about her new book, so let's leave her to it!


Click to add me to Goodreads!
When I first started writing, the SHOW, DON'T TELL rule was something I often tried to ignore. "What do they know?" I thought. They don't write the kinds of stories I write. And take a look at all the telling in Great Expectations, in Pride & Prejudice, in Wuthering Heights!

But it didn't take long for me to realize that literature has evolved. And continues to evolve. Nowadays, readers want to be a part of the stories they read, not spectators. So who are we to rob them of this experience? Let's give them what they want.

When you show, rather than tell, this is exactly what you give them. An experience. Through Show & Tell in a Nutshell, I will help you accomplish this.

I wrote this book because when I started out I didn't understand the concept very well. I craved real examples. "How can you not see what's happening when I'm telling you it's happening?" I thought. Every writing craft book and blog would explain what it meant, but rarely would I see an actual example that showed me a transition from telling to showing that clearly demonstrated the difference. There still aren't any resources out there that focus only on this very important writing skill. Of course, there are writing craft books that include it, but the issue is more often than not bogged down with technical jargon, and other aspects of the craft that take away from its importance. I believe this book will allow an aspiring writer to block out all the "rules" and focus on this one thing that will teach them how to give their writing the colour it deserves.

Of course, you can't show everything. Sometimes you need to tell in order to move the necessary, but not so important, moments of your story forward. So when someone suggests you to "show" something, you need to evaluate whether this moment in your story deserves such undivided attention. It's something you will learn with practice.

How did you respond to the SHOW, DON'T TELL rule when you first started writing? If you are a beginner, have you completely understood the difference? If so, what brought about your AHA moment?

She's a genius, right? I mean, what a focused little guide -- a gem! -- to have in your writing repertoire.

Purchase the paperback:

Purchase the e-book:

About Jessica Bell:

An Australian-native contemporary fiction author and poet, who also makes a living as an editor and writer for global ELT publishers (English Language Teaching), such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

She is the Co-Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and co-hosts the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek Isle of Ithaca, with Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest.

For more information about Jessica, please visit: 





Monday, November 26, 2012

Letting Things Slide

Okay, so here we are, in this crazy-blender world of publishing. There are a lot of ups, and quite a few downs too.

But if there's any lesson I've learned it's this: Sometimes you've got to let things slide.

What you imagined about your cover? Might not come true.

What you've been hoping for in terms of sales? Might not come true.

Deadlines? Might come and go without word. You might not be able to meet yours, because of whatever whatever.

Sometimes what we want to happen doesn't line up with what is actually happening. We can feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and even angry. We forget the good that we've enjoyed about publishing. The feel of typing (or writing) new words on a blank page, of bringing a character to life. 

Sometimes, the stress of publishing is just too much. And that's a definite time to let things slide. I've been on this roller coaster for a few years now, and here's what I do during the sliding times.

  • Read my favorite books. Or a new book.
  • Play Bakery/City/Restaurant/Farm Story. Oh, come on. You know you love seeing your T-bone steaks come out perfectly.
  • Record too many episodes of whatever is on HGTV.
  • Eat pepperoni -- plain. (Don't knock it until you've consumed a pouch of this stuff. It is powerful, and will change your life.)
  • Download some new music.
  • Try a new challenge -- right now, I'm trying to do a 30 ideas in 30 days challenge my friend, Dustin Hansen, inspired.
  • Go to a live concert/performance.
  • Plan meals (gasp!)

It's good to let the publishing angst slide off your back every once in a while. Otherwise, I think we'd all be shaking and muttering under our breath, and nobody wants to see that.

What do you do when you need a break from publishing?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bad Hair Day!

Okay, so I can't believe I'm posting this today, when I'm not going to post the rest of this Thanksgiving week, and that means THIS POST will be up forever! But I am.

One of my author friends, Carrie Harris, just released her second book! I know what a big deal the second book is, and even more, I'm halfway through BAD HAIR DAY and you simply must read it! (Buy here!)

Carrie's having a contest to spread the celebration across the Interwebz, and it's super-easy to participate. All you have to do is post a picture of yourself having a BAD HAIR DAY. (Oh, and LINK HERE.)


Yes, that's an 80s mullet. With fish. You're welcome.

For more about Carrie's books, including BAD YETI -- a hilarious short story set in the world of BAD HAIR DAY, go here.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Oh, How I Miss You

Dude, you know it! Today I'm participating in the Oh How I Miss You Blogfest, hosted by Alex, Matt, and Andrew.

This blogfest is all about the appreciation for the bloggers we love.

Do you have a couple blogger buddies who aren’t posting as often? Those who’ve pulled back and seem absent from the blogging world? Do you have blogger buddies you are grateful they are still around and would miss if they vanished? Now is your chance to show your appreciation and spotlight them!

For me, I haven't been reading as many blogs as I used to. Well, scratch that. I have been reading, but on my Kindle where I have a hard time commenting.

Today, we're supposed to honor those we've missed, and those we would miss should they stop blogging.

I Miss...
Lisa and Laura Roecker -- they are some of the funnest ladies in the world, and I love their books and their fashion commentary.

I Would Miss...
Peggy Eddleman -- she writes amazingly positive and upbeat blog posts, and her Facebook statuses are awesome. If she stopped blogging, I might die.

Erin Summerill -- not only is she a fabulous photographer, but she's just so dang funny! When I want to be funny, I study the works of Erin. No lie.

Miriam Forster -- and not only because I read her book, CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS, and now I stalk her... Well, okay, that's why. 

Beth Revis -- she is amazing and awesome and even listens to me rant sometimes. Plus, she's really smart. So I like reading her blog and feeling smart by osmosis.

Who would you miss if they stopped blogging? Who has taken a step back, and you miss them? Now's your chance to let them know!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Why We Don't Compare Ourselves

Okay, so it's no secret that authors are some of the most conflicted people on the planet. Oh, come on. Admit it to yourself. You have issues. Or maybe that's just me... Ha!

But if you spend any time on blogs, or twitter, or Facebook, you're going to see statuses and things that might twist the knife of jealousy, frustration, anger, or [insert negative emotion of choice here].

Sometimes we ask ourselves "Why can't AAA AMAZING NEWS happen for me?" Or "What are they doing that I'm not?" Or "#*!(%^!*!"

Those are dangerous sometimes. Those questions should not be asked, because the answer is always the same.

You don't live Awesome Person B's life, and they don't live yours.

The focus should be on yourself; this is one time to be completely selfish. It's a time to own your process, own your schedule, own your own life.

Maybe you have a family that needs dinner every night, and Person With Twenty-Nine Book Deals doesn't. Maybe you have a day job that sucks the life right out of your body. Maybe you can write fast, or maybe you write slow.

It doesn't matter. The focus should not be on what everyone else is doing in comparison to you. It should be about what you're doing to get better, grow more, take that next step in publishing.

So, today, that's what I'm focusing on. I'm happy for those who seem to be doing everything I want to do, don't get me wrong. But I'm not comparing.

Have you ever fallen into this dangerous comparison trap? Why do you think it's best to avoid it?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Building a World, Part Three: Social Classes

Okay, so continuing my series on building a world, we're here today to talk about social classes. You can see the posts on government and textiles here.

I think no matter what world you're building, whether that be a science fiction world on this planet or another one, or a fantasy world, there are social classes. Your main character falls into one of them, and there's usually some jostling between these classes as the story progresses.

Whenever I'm thinking of what kind of social classes I'd like in my books, I think of the movie In Time. Yeah, it has Justin Timberlake, which isn't as bad as you might think. *wink*

It wasn't my favorite movie ever, but it set up the social classes really well. There's part of the movie where Justin Timberlake -- Salas -- moves up the social ladder, so to speak. And it's very literal, as he passes through the different "time zones" of the world.

I love thinking about that part of In Time, and it helps me build my social classes in a way that makes sense to A) the plot, B) the main character, and C) the government I've already established.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • What class is my main character in now? 
  • How did they get there?
  • How can they advance? Is that even possible? What would have to happen? (In the movie In Time, Salas only advances through the time zones because someone died -- oh, and he's been accused of causing that death. So yeah.) 
  • What are the advantages of each social class? The disadvantages? 
  • Why would someone want to be in a position of power in this world? 
  • Why would they want to remain in their lower class? 
  • What are the consequences associated with moving classes? (Loss of family connections, loss of friendships, loss of freedoms, etc.) 

I find social classes fascinating, because you don't have to be writing speculative fiction to find them. You probably have them at your office, in your schools, or down the street in your own neighborhoods.

That's why the social classes in your novel need to be well developed -- because they have the power to truly resonate with readers.

What questions do you ask yourself about social classes when building your story world? 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Social Media Advice?

Dude, I can't seem to get these social media posts up on Wednesdays! Maybe I'll just have to adjust my schedule or something.

Anyway, today I'm looking for advice from you. If you were talking to someone who's new to the blogging world, new to the wide arena of publishing and looking to do something online, new to writing even, what would be your biggest piece of social media advice?

I want to hear what people see as the most important thing to do, or the most important thing NOT to do. 

So what do you think? What would you tell someone who was just dipping their toes in the social media waters?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thankful For My Readers!

Okay, so as I was out reading blogs last month, I stumbled across this blogfest happening. Now, I normally don't do a lot of blogfests for various reasons, but this one struck me as something important.

It's the Thankful For My Readers blogfest. You can find the details -- and sign up -- here on Vikki's blog.

The idea is to thank the people who read your work. CPs, beta readers, blog readers, or novel readers. Oh, and you're supposed to do it in a unique way.

So I thought and thought about what I'd do. Vlog? Requires makeup. Letter? How could I address that to everyone?

And then it struck me.

I've been revising a novel in verse. So why not verse? You can say a lot in just a few words.

So my free verse thank you:

To those who read this blog
Every time I post,
And comment in ways
That add to the conversation.

Thank you
For allowing me to read your words,
Be inspired by you,
Get to know you,
Buy your books.

Thank you
To those who read my
Before-published words,
Before they're ready,
Before they shine.

Thank you
For helping,

Thank you
To those who read my books,
Email me,
Post on Facebook,
Tell their friends.

Thank you
For leaving reviews,
Coming to signings,
Inviting to conferences,
Showing enthusiasm.

Thank you.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Building A World, Part Two: Textiles, Building Materials, and Food

Okay, so we're back today discussing how to build a world from the blank page up. It's not an easy thing to do, that's for sure. Last week, we talked about government and rules. I think that's one of the major points of world-building, because it can lend itself to the plot/conflict so well.

But it's the details that make your readers salivate over your world. Today, we're going to talk a bit about some details that can make your world more round, more rich, more real.

Textiles: This is the fabrics of your world. It might seem insignificant, but I've found that what people wear, what they have in their homes on the ceilings/walls/floors/furniture, and what they're surrounded with is a detail you should not ignore.

Clothing can give a good idea of setting. It can provide plot points and conflict. So what is this world clothed in? Are colors important? If so, which ones are the most important? Why? What can you do with the textiles of the world to make it unique, powerful, meaningful?

That's what you're doing here by paying particular attention to the textiles.

Building Materials: This is what the buildings/structures of your world are made of. I've read many a book where the attention to detail is so seamlessly woven in, it makes the world that much more real and enjoyable.

I mean, Hogwarts, anyone?

In fantasy and science fiction, we want a setting that transports us from the ordinary. You can paint the picture of what the world is like, how it's different from ours, and what the main character has to deal with by giving us a good description of what the structures are constructed of. Not every palace is made of marble, just like not every castle is made of stone. So what is your world made of?

Foods: I think this is my favorite part, but mostly because I love food. Some of my favorite books have a vein of food interlaced in them. (Read THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS -- this book made me realize that I liked fantasy worlds that have unique foods.)

What are your characters eating? How is this contributing to the world you've imagined? Because it should. I think sometimes we fall into the traps of "traditional" foods for fantasy and science fiction, but we don't have to. We can stretch our imaginations and come up with menus and foods that make our world unique, and rich, and full.

I'll freely admit that I don't think of these things during the first draft. I'm just trying to get the plot figured out and the character developed. But on the second, third, and fourth passes, I'm really paying attention to making my world more three-dimensional and alive. And I do it with textiles, buildings, and foods.

What do you do to breathe more life into your world? Do you have to pay particular attention to these things, or do they come naturally to you as you write? 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Social Media and (Self-Imposed) Guidelines

Okay, so you might have noticed that I've added a little structure to my blogging. This is mostly because I've been spewing stuff out here on the blogosphere for like, 5 years now (okay, maybe not that long. Maybe only 4), and while there's a neverending supply of things to talk about, even I run dry.

Or maybe I'm addicted to schedules and routines. It's a toss up.

But I've been doing a sort of "writing how-to" series thing on Mondays, and I thought it might be fun to talk social media on Wednesdays. I sort of missed it this week due to the craziness of Halloween, so I'm putting it up today.

I think I'll start with how I view social media, and the guidelines I've come up with for myself.

So I actively participate in 3 social media outlets that I use to promote myself and my books:
1. This blog
2. Twitter
3. Facebook

I do talk about personal things on all 3 of those, but if I wasn't a writer and didn't have books, I most likely would not have accounts at any of those places. I am also on Pinterest, but I don't use that for promotional purposes, but only to find ways to clean my jetted tub.

So I view my social media outlets as a way I can spread the word about book deals, reviews, cover reveals, what I'm working on, etc. My social media outlets give me a safe place to talk about myself and my work, as well as provide a place where I can keep up with others, their interests, and their books. That's how I view social media.

I do not sit and think about what to post on twitter or Facebook. If something occurs to me naturally, I post it. I want these two places to be very organic, almost spontaneous, because that's how I use them. I do, however, think about my blog posts, and plan them in advance.

My guidelines for myself regarding social media are pretty simple:
1. Talk about more than my books.
2. Rule of 5: For every one thing I post about my books, I try to post at least 5 non-book things, or talk about someone else's book before I post about me again.
3. Be willing to RT for others, read for others, blog for others.
4. Engage. I try to respond to blog comments, visit blogs, respond to @-messages, FB messages/posts, etc. It's a conversation, and I try to engage in it. 
5. Be positive and genuine. Feeling down? I just stay offline. Heart not in it? Stay offline.

So there you go! That's how I view my social media outlets, and the guidelines I have for myself about them. I think next week, I'll talk about Facebook, and what I do there social media wise.

Do you have something social media related you'd like me to discuss? Do you have guidelines for yourself for the different social media outlets? How do you view them?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

You Know What November Means...

Right? Or maybe not, since I'm not actually participating in National Novel Writing Month this month. I just don't have it in me to pen another novel right now.

That said, I have pretty much done nothing but put words to paper for most of 2012. Nearly everything I've written this year is in first draft form, thus...

I'm going to be participating with a fabulous group of people in a National Novel REVISION month.

That's right. And today, we're posting our goals for the next 30 days. Now *gulp* these are probably super-lofty, and I reserve the right to bail, er, change this as the month rolls by.

But for now, as of November 1, here's what I'm planning to revise into perfection:
1. ABANDON. Uhhh, that's right. That novel that's coming out in just 8 short months? Haven't edited it yet -- but I will! It is going to be SO AWESOME you guys (*cries*), and I'm totally going to win all the prizes in the virtual prize bucket.

2. YA contemporary in verse. Yes, I've finished the book, and I've actually run it through my critique group. But for some reason, I'm just not feeling like it's quite there yet. So I'm going to work on this bad boy as part of NaNoRevMo.

3. YA fantasy. Oh, boy. This one is a doozy. I have some major notes on this book, and I've made an initial pass through this monster (let's just say the word count on this mother is ginormous), but it still needs some TLC.

And the scary part? My husband is reading the beginning. It's the first thing he's reading with the purpose of critiquing. Saying I'm scared wouldn't even be in the same ballpark of what I actually feel (and he reads my blog regularly, so I'm sure we'll have a convo about it at some point today).

So there you go! My revision goals for NaNoRevMo.

Are you participating in NaNo? Have other goals? Want to revise with us? Let's do this thing!

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