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Friday, June 27, 2014

Celebrate!

There are tons of things this week. A.) I thought I broke my leg or dislocated it, but I just sprained the durned thing. The injury could've been much worse, since I was doing something super macho and sporty. I totally deserve the badass black knee brace I received from urgent care. (This macho athletic thing I was doing was not badminton. It was something infinitely cooler.)  B.) My husband's birthday is coming up. It coincides with the fourth of July, so we get to see fireworks. When he was a little kid, he thought they were for him. After four days of helping me by doing the laundry, making dinner, chauffeuring the kids and catering to my every whim, they should be. C.) My son told me on Wednesday that he can't wait for church. This is because he just made his First Communion last weekend and is looking forward to going to communion with our family on a normal church day!

This all adds up to a good Friday for us! Hope everyone else is having the same!
This post is part of a blog hop hosted by Vik Lit (Scribblings of an Aspiring Author)!
The following are co-hosts: Diana Wilder
LG Keltner @ Writing Off the Edge
Katie @ TheCyborg Mom
CaffeMaggieato @ mscoffeehouse
Please stop by and give them some love. And join the hop by following the link below!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Thank you, Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde!

Time to celebrate small things, a blog hop originated by Vik Lit. I'm a little late in posting this. I know the contest has progressed to the top five already, yet it took a while for me to process these reviews. At first, I was ecstatic because the one was so good. It was also helpful, telling me I have to rework my pitch (which was going to be my query letter). If the reader was surprised about the story--albeit pleasantly so--the pitch did not do its job. I'm thankful to that reviewer. I have a sneaking suspicion he/she (probably she) fell within the target audience for a contemporary romance/mystery. Unfortunately, I then fell into the trap of wondering what would've happened if I lucked out and got two readers like reviewer number one. I would've been in like Flynn, I told myself. Of course, it's not at all conducive to think about "What ifs". That put me in a definite funk, which might explain the after-the-fact post. 

ABNA Expert Reviewer

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

This was nothing of what I expected from the pitch and it is all the better for it. Allison's narrative is great. She's not sassy. She's a piss-ant and it is makes the excerpt crackle and pop as if a meltdown is about to happen. I loved it.

What aspect needs the most work?

This is one of those excerpts that if there is something to be improved upon, I'm not one to make the recommendation because I don't want to mess up what is in the excerpt. I like it too much as-is.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

How can I not like a story that starts with "In Detroit we eat cars."? What a great excerpt. It starts with Allison's nervy, sarcastic narrative that is smart and fast paced. The plot isn't new and the story even acknowledges that in foreshadowing of a murder but the execution is so good and different that it seems unique. I loved it from start to finish.

ABNA Expert Reviewer

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

The tone is appropriately light and breezy

What aspect needs the most work?

Too many characters on too many tangents trying to be witty.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

It is okay. I became less and less amused and interested as it progressed. The characters became more juvenile and less entertaining. Based on the excerpt, I have little incentive to read on.

There's a lesson in the second review as well, and I needed it to pound into my head for, like, the gazillionth time (I know! Unbelievable!) how subjective the industry is. How two people can have the exact opposite responses to the same excerpt. It's a good reminder, so thank you, reviewer number two. 

Now back to reviewer number one: your positive reinforcement prompted my return to writing after the funk subsided. I hope you know that! It's like with God: For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst. Except I'm not an all-powerful deity, but a mousy writer. And there's only one of you, not two or three. Anyway, you get the idea! Have a great Friday, everyone! 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Please Prove You're Not a Robot

Memory refresher. I am devoting Wednesdays to test-driving some potential rewrites for my Linked-In account. I might occasionally touch on interview strategies too, although most of them will be disastrous. Today I'm emphasizing my ability to think creatively. Here goes:

So you want me to prove I'm not a robot?
What the heck is a penoso?
Why are some of these real words and some not?

Well, that’s easy. I’ve been doing that my entire life by engaging in the type of creative thinking that results in excellent writing--and, in turn, marketing success. I’ve become so deft at proving I'm not robotic, all I have to do is type in a series of letters when prompted. Bingo! Instant proof. I have to admit that re-typing this cryptic code makes me feel all Mark Zuckerberg-ish (minus about a gazillion dollars, which is why I’m on Linked In in the first place). The problem is it also makes me wonder if I am a robot. This tends to negate my life’s work. But oh well! (Did I mention I find myself responding to these prompts at least once a day? Apparently wasting huge amounts of time online is what it takes to build an Internet presence.)

This, my friends, is an illustration of the contradictory times in which we live. (Note: a robot could never use such good grammar. Robots often end sentences with prepositions in their attempts to sound more conversational. Let's be honest. A robot has no firm grasp of what sounds conversational. I mean, Siri tries, but nail it she does not.) A robot would never approve of bracketing vast amounts of text in parentheses, but I'm okay with it. What's more, robots don't know how to properly pluralize parenthesis. And they avoid alliteration at all costs.

Anyway, to make a long story short (which I can do, but I can also make a short story long, depending on your needs), if you want an independent, non-robotic thinker and a versatile writer, please contact me. Don’t take my word about the robot part. Just send that code thing. I'm CAPTCHA 5000 certified now, so I can easily type in the letters--but only if they're not skewed beyond comprehension (hate it when that happens). Did I mention my typing speed is fifty letters per millisecond? If that doesn't impact your business in a positive way, I don't know what will. Time is money, after all.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Blah, Blah, Blah....Writing...Blah, Blah, Blah...Process

Adrienne Dunning lives in eastern North Carolina where she is very active in a local writer's group.  A writer of contemporary romance, she is currently in the process of publishing her debut novel and working on additional manuscripts.  She likes her female characters to be a little cheeky, and her stories to reflect characters forging journeys to discover who they truly are and finding love along the way (of course!).   http://journeysinwriting.blogspot.com/
I met Adrienne through ABNA and she was kind enough to invite me to participate in a blog hop that focuses on The Writing Process. You've probably seen some similar posts popping up all over. (I'll admit, I troll the Web and see: Blah, Blah, Blah...writing...Blah, Blah...book contract...Blah, Blah...best-seller.) Here's mine.


What am I currently working on? I'm the type of person who's always working on multiple projects, but to save everyone the headache of discriminating between them, I'll only include the one that has a firm deadline. It's a full rewrite of a middle-grade fantasy--and the first book I ever wrote! Of course I'm in love with it, but I'm especially excited because I once had a request for the full MS. Back then, it wasn't ready, but now I believe it is, so I'll go into querying with a hopeful stance. Middle Grade is a pretty desirable category right now, plus the book has a ton of Harry Potteresque elements with one major difference: It centers on a girl. Her name is Bridget Hawkes and she has all these bright plans for the future, including growing up to be a doctor. Then she finds out she's prophetically linked to a blue-eyed thief in a parallel world. Her parents have been hiding out in this world hoping to dodge the prophecy. (Tricky business, dodging prophecies.)

If I can finish Thief's Cipher this month, I'll be able to enter it in a contest through my writers' union, the grand prize of which is a mentorship (and assorted other things, but I read it as Blah, Blah...mentorship with a published author.)

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? Like I said, my book is basically "Harriet Potter", so it's important to include something to save it from being a lame rip-off. Thing one: A lot of cross-world action. Bridget goes back and forth between the two worlds, because she'll ultimately have to choose between them. And she's defensive whenever people of the other world knock this one. She grew up here and believes it has its good points. Wise beyond her years, Bridget knows no world is perfect. Thing two: Everything is filtered through a girl's perspective. Bridget wants to be a doctor, and is pretty single-minded about her goal. She doesn't buy into magic, although she finds herself forced to learn it. Complicating matters even more, the healers of the parallel world are called mutationists and bear little resemblance to doctors. (Let's just say they have no bedside manner.) If Bridget ends up in the parallel world, as the prophecy foretells, she'll have to give up her dream. This infuriates her, as does being linked with a boy she's never met, even when he turns out to be kind of cute.

3) Why do I write what I do? Ironically, I started writing fantasy because I expected my kids to get into Harry Potter eventually, and I wanted to write something they'd like. Still waiting for the HP bug to hit. One likes ghost stories, one likes horse stories and one doesn't even like to read!

4) How does your writing process work? I mostly wing it. Outlines make me cringe. The closest thing I come to process is "scene dreaming." For instance, I need to write the final scene of Thief's Cipher...Da-Da-Duh...so this morning, I stayed in bed and stared at the ceiling. While it appears that I'm lazing around doing nothing on the first Monday of summer, I'm really letting the final scene of the book play in my mind like a movie. Then I write it out later. I do this about three or four times before I sit down at the computer. This process has earned me the reputation of being a lazy person. (Okay, I admit that sometimes I really am just staring at the ceiling because I'm tired and I don't want to get up and deal with my kids. Shh. Don't tell my husband.) Funny how hard work for writers resembles day-dreaming. Luckily, we're able to sneak a few real day-dreams in.

Next up are two of my favorite writers in the world! I've been privileged to beta read for them and I can't wait to brag about that even more when their writing careers develop to full potential. Without further ado... Sylvia Jefferson and Elle Jefferson (No relation, unless you count the word bond thing. In our critique group, we slash our flesh with a pen-shaped dagger and chant as our blood mingles. No. We don't.)

Sylvia retired from the Air Force as an investigator. She retired from social services as an investigator...twice. You would think she's old and broken down, but not really...she just likes retiring! No, seriously, her love of books spirited her need to write mystery/romance novels. She loves to write about characters of diversity working and loving side by side, 'cause...well...that's how it should be. Sylvia's novel, The Agreement, is available on amazon.  syljeffers.blogspot.com 

Elle Jefferson is the author of the At Death It Begins series. She lives up in northern Arizona with her two beautiful sons, wonderful husband and her German Shepherd Dorrie. When she's not reading or writing, she's painting or enjoying the great outdoors. Look for the final installment of ADIB in October. Until then, connect with her at ellejefferson.blogspot.com or www.facebook.com/ElleJeffersonAuthor.com 
twitter@oohlalakrysa



Friday, June 13, 2014

School's Out for Summer!

It's time to celebrate again, and this week there's no question what I'm most grateful for: the kiddos are out of school. They're excited. I'm excited. We're just a big squirm of hyper people gorging ourselves on sundaes and snow cones. (That's how we celebrate the end of stuff around here.)
Next week I'll probably be grateful there are only nine more weeks of summer to go, but until then, I'm darned near ecstatic to be able to sleep in. If only my daughter didn't have to volunteer at a horse farm at six-thirty a.m. tomorrow. Oh well! Can't have it all!





This is a blog hop hosted by Vik Lit (Scribblings of an Aspiring Author)!
The following are co-hosts: Diana Wilder
LG Keltner @ Writing Off the Edge
Katie @ TheCyborg Mom
CaffeMaggieato @ mscoffeehouse
Please stop by and give them some love.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wimp-out Wednesday

Hey! I just got a brilliant idea. (I mean, ahem, another one.) For a while now, I have thought about re-entering the job market. I've updated my Linked In account and written my profile. Now and then, I have a Jerry Maguire moment and I get the urge to compose my Linked In description in the form of a manifesto geared toward awakening the masses, one that reveals my inner soul. Then I talk myself out of it.

As a writer, I'm a risk-taker. As an employee? Not so much. So....drum roll, please. Every Wednesday I will post a profile
 that I'm truly proud of yet am too chicken to include on my real Linked In page. I will call it Wimp-out Wednesday in homage to my extreme wimpiness. This'll be great, kids. Trust me! Sometimes I'll make myself out to have an ego rivaling Kwame Kilpatrick's. Others I'll sound way too neurotic to employ. Either way you're bound to be amused. And--though I'll never get a job and probably wind up destitute--your smiles will be worth it. After all, I'm not the first writer to end up broke (even broker than Hillary Clinton at the end of her husband's presidency--actually broke.) It all starts next Wednesday, folks, so tune in.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Thankful, thankful, thankful

Free on kindle
Today I'm thankful for my awesome critique partners: Lakrysa, Lisa, Marianne, Susan and Sylvia! They're the best! They offer unconditional support in the pursuit of what often seems like an unattainable goal, and I know I wouldn't have gotten this far without them. We may be taking different paths to publication, but we're always there for one another.

And one of them happens to be having a book giveaway this weekend. If you enjoy tried and true gumshoe mysteries in the tradition of the Kinsey Milhone series, you should check out The Agreement by Sylvia Jefferson. It's free on kindle until Sunday.



The second thing I'm thankful for is my husband, who left a clue on the coffee maker (the best place to ensure I'll find it), which I had to decipher in order to know where to meet him for lunch. When I arrived at the secret location, he gave me a rose--just because! How cool is that?


I'm super thankful for the weekend, which is starting out pretty well after a hellish week. I hope you all have a nice one too!

This post is part of a blog hop hosted by Vik Lit. If you want to join up with our Friday posts, just follow the link and add your blog to the list using the linky tool (instructions supplied).


Thursday, June 5, 2014

You Know It's Meant to Be When Your Names Both End in -ies.

Okay, I think I read a little too much into things like that. It's the ad girl in me. But on Literary Rambles, there's a really good interview that might ease query qualms and give writers the inside scoop on being a literary newlywed. Plus there's a book and query critique giveaway (from Jessie Humphries and Sarah Davies, respectively). Trust me, you'll want to hop on over there and enter. You can bet I'm on my way.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Split Personality of Disney

I love Disney so much that as soon as I got a full-time job in my field of study, I bought Disney stock. It was a good investment. Over the years I have heard many opinions on Disney. Several members of my family are dead-set on boycotting the parks because they feel they're "wrong". I guess you either love the brand or hate it, but make no mistake: Disney is a brand. A very well-built brand tied to a driven man who apparently has the ability to run the company from the grave. (Think I'm exaggerating? Explain the Polar Vortex that moved through half the nation during the release of Frozen. Coincidence? I think not.) Sure, the company's a huge conglomerate that puts out some mind-numbing teen shows and the odd bomb at the box office, the parks commercialize dreams (I can't afford to take my kids to Disneyworld, unless I part with my stock--and even then: debatable), and the princess thing is getting out of control (Then again, if there are plans to "feminize" Merida by giving her an hourglass figure and larger breasts, it probably has more to do with a flaw in our culture--the same one evident in every comic-book portrayal of a female character--than a problem with Disney studios' execution of its brand.).
     I still love Disney. Their formula is magic. The creatives behind the films build believable relationships between the characters in a very short period of time. I walked into the movie theater during the release of Frozen and prepared myself to be disappointed. You see, I loved Brave and didn't think they could top that with regard to a feminist message and gorgeous scenery.
     I was proven wrong. Frozen knocked me out with its pacing, its frozen landscapes and the realistic portrayal of sisterly love. And the song. The song! (I'm taking a moment to go belt it out in my powder room right now. The acoustics in there are divine.)
     Okay. I'm back and feeling empowered, though hoarse. Where was I? Ah, yes. Even the less familiar movies, like Treasure Planet and Meet the Robinsons, have moments of pure Disney gold. Marketing-wise, Disney's timing is spot on. They know just when to bring out an original concept (Toy Story, Monsters Inc.. Enchanted) and when it would be better to use old reliables like the Muppets or the fairy tales in the Once Upon a Time TV series and Maleficent. They certainly must have a finger to the pulse of the nation to know just when we're at our most nostalgic.
     The only problem is, Disney-the-Brand has a split personality, which--as everyone knows--is a serious form of mental illness. Check it out.
In Frozen, they told me to Let it Go (they kept telling me over and over and over and then the entire nation took up the anthem.) I'm gonna go out on a limb here and conclude that everyone wants me to LET IT GO!!!!

This is in direct contradiction to Goob's advice in Meet the Robinsons. He said--and I quote-- "NO! Everyone will tell you to let it go and move on. But don't. Instead let it fester and boil inside of you."
So now I'm stuck. Oh, to whom should I listen? Elsa and Anna are so pretty and spunky. They seem to have it all together. Goob is, well, Goob. A failed villain. Cute kid turned repugnant adult. He's how I imagine Charlie Brown would've turned out if the poor kid were ever allowed to grow up. Charlie Brown, in middle age, would be struggling with the mental scars from all of Lucy's bullying. Sometimes I want to step into the TV, grab that football from her and smack her with it. Then I'd hold it for Charlie, reassuring him all the while that I can be trusted not to pull it away at the last minute. Seriously! What right does Lucy have to open up a psychiatry practice? The one bright spot of Charlie Brown's theoretical middle age is that he wouldn't have to get used to the idea of going bald. He's been there.
     Anyway, since I have way more in common with Goob than with Elsa or Anna (Oh sorry, it's Ah-na. Of course it is), I'm going to NOT let it go. (My next blog will investigate exactly what IT is.)
     Which brings me to the last reason I love Disney. Disney loves Goob enough to give him superior character development. So here's their brand in a nutshell: Princesses and bawdy pirates, weird-looking, bitter men with personal vendettas up the yin-yang, authors of iconic nannies battling personal demons and economic ruin, malicious christening-crashers (with super-chiseled cheekbones). Split personality.
God, I love Disney.