Saturday, March 17, 2012

Big Announcement Coming!


What's this?  A tiny little post?  From me?
Yes, yes, I can be brief when I want to.

Just wanted to tell you all to stay tuned for my
BIG ANNOUNCEMENT
coming Monday, that is,
unless you already saw it on my Facebook page! 


Oh, and uh...
Happy St. Patty's Day!


  

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Advantage of Critique Partners



Anyone who knows anything about me knows just how much I value critique partners and beta readers.  I never knew about either of these two years ago when I started writing my first novel.  It wasn’t until I finished and decided I might like to publish that I discovered the need to have others evaluate my work. 

At first, I gave my manuscript to a nearby friend who offered me only limited feedback, saying it was good, but sagged a little in the middle.  I passed it to another, an attorney and avid reader.  He awarded me with considerable praise, though he always believed I would have to compromise on the “terrible awful” thing my protagonist did.


That was all good, and I enjoyed what they had to say, but I needed someone who could really help me understand the mechanics of the story and tell me how well I accomplished what I sought out to do.  That’s when I discovered Nathan Bransford’s blog, and through it, my soon-to-be best friend, Lisa L. Regan

She was interested in exchanging manuscripts and I jumped on the chance, particularly since our stories ran along similar lines.  Well, that was a humbling experience, to say the least.  Lisa is a highly educated and experienced writer, and her writing and story blew me out of the water.  But it was those very qualities that helped me both expand and improve my writing and story. 


Frankly speaking, I’d be a big, fat loser without her.  She is an absolutely amazing writer, and a particularly dedicated critique partner.  She helped me add layer upon layer to my story, all the while telling me how amazed she was as my raw talent, which seriously boosted my morale and intention to see the process through to the end.  The best thing was, we became as close as sisters.  Maybe even closer.

As good as that experience was, I still needed a wider perspective, so I searched for more critique partners.  I found quite a few, and each had wonderful things to teach me and therefore add to my story.  It became richer and fuller after each critique, and all the while, I was querying and submitting, even though my manuscript wasn’t quite there yet.  Close.  But not quite.


Then I met Jeff O’Handley, The Doubting Writer.  After reading one of his posts, I offered to critique for him, if he wanted to share.  A few weeks later, we exchanged manuscripts.  Again, here was someone whose skill far, far surpassed mine, and whose story, though of a more literary bent, intrigued and enthralled me.  I learned a lot just from reading his novel.  And what’s more, Jeff, ever tuned into what the characters were feeling, pulled more out of me than I ever imagine possible. 

It wasn’t until after Jeff’s critique and my subsequent revisions that I thought I was finally and completely ready.  But even though my query was also revised and ready to go, after several prior months of querying, requests, and submissions, my head just wasn’t into it yet.  I did, however, query a small press who requested my full.  I received a response that excited me, but also had me questioning that “terrible awful” thing my protagonist did and if sticking to my guns was worth it.  My reaction?  I asked a couple other writers to read it and give me their honest opinion.


One of those writers was Carrie Butler, and let me tell you, though I’ve been a follower of hers for quite some time, I never knew just how talented she really is.  She agreed to read and evaluate my manuscript, and, since I offered to read hers, she passed her manuscript along to me, as well.  This woman has a flair I cannot even label, let alone describe.  Her writing and story are just so completely…accessible, so easy, so fluid, and, well…yummy.  Yeah, that’s it.  It’s just so damn yummy. 

I’ve never read anyone who can write dialogue like Carrie does.  It’s about as real as anyone could ever make it, without any useless words.  And she doesn’t really use any tags, only perfect incidental action to invoke movement, emotion, and tension.  But her greatest skill is her use of voice, and the voice in her novel is magnificent, full of vitality and personality, spark and spunk.  I couldn’t pull off in a million years what she did with her novel. 


All in all, I learned I have a tremendous talent at picking the best critique partners out there.  They have each taught me things I never could have learned from a class or a book.  Each time, I’ve come away feeling a better writer for having not only their critique of my novel, but from reading their stories, as well.  In fact, I feel quite inferior and all too envious of their exceptional skills and talent.  I can only continue to study their manuscripts and cull as much knowledge as possible from each of their areas of expertise.

So if you’re thinking whether or not you should ever use a critique partner, my advice is: hell yes!  I know it’s hard to put your stuff out there, to make yourself vulnerable.  God knows, I had one CP experience that scarred me, but in the end, although he was mean, he was also right.  So...

        

Monday, March 12, 2012

I've Been Tagged! The Lucky 7 Meme!



I‘ve had an exciting last few days, but now it’s Monday, time for a little fluff.

It seems, I’ve been tagged by not one, but three awesome blogger buddies, Freya Morris, Elise Fallson and C. M. Brown, for the Lucky 7 Meme.  Thank you so much for thinking of me!  Go visit them and follow along.  They are great commenters, and we all know how much we love comments.  And now for the game…

Here are the rules: 

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs, and post them as they're written.
4. Tag 7 authors
5. Let them know

The following seven sentences are from my current manuscript, THE MISTAKEN:

…  I barely caught sight of the large SUV as it slammed into me from my left.
Glass shattered and metal screamed.  The air bags exploded in my face.  My thoughts flew to my baby and Ty as the heat from the SUV’s engine rushed against my side. My breath was expelled violently from my body in a loud whoosh, and I felt myself snap from within.
Then everything went quiet.   And all I could see was black.

So that’s it.  What do you think?  Now, here are my seven taggees:

They are all worth a visit, and a follow, as well!
What, you’re still here?  What are you waiting for?  Go visit!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

IWSG: Dealing With Rejection



It’s the first Wednesday of the month:  time to meet with my fellow writers in

I’m beginning to feel like a real, honest-to-God writer these days.  And do you know why?  The answer is:  Rejection.  No writer worth her salts could ever call herself so without receiving an array of rejections for her work.  And I’ve received quite a few.  At first it was just rejections of my query, but then, after receiving a good number of requests, it’s become a rejection of those, too. 

The first time I had my full manuscript rejected, it nearly destroyed me.  I have to laugh about it now because I took it to the chin, and rather hard, too.  I spent that first evening commiserating with my new friend, Silver Patron.  Sure, he made me laugh and even forget for a while, but I vowed we wouldn’t see each other again until I somehow managed to snag an agent.  That was nearly a year ago, and I’ve kept my promise, though it hasn’t always been easy.  But one thing rejection has done for me is make me tough.  I barely even feel it now.

This has come in handy in the last few weeks.  After waiting over six months, I finally heard back from an agent who politely and respectfully said no to my full.  That was followed immediately by another of the same.  Well, almost the same.  It wasn’t an agent this time, but rather an editor who had read my first fifty pages, and three days later, quite excitedly I might add, requested my full, making sure to inform me how much she and her team were enjoying my story.

I took that request and the excitement that accompanied it with a huge grain of salt.  The publisher was brand-spanking new and published mostly romance, but they were looking for thrillers and mine had them all worked up.  The great part was that she didn’t make me wait.  I heard back in less than two weeks.  But you already know how this story ends.  She told me I definitely had a talent for writing and that making the final decision about my manuscript was truly a hard one for them, but in the end, it wasn’t a good fit. 


She’s promised to go over with me all the deciding factors in a detailed email, but it came down to what I’ve always known would be a difficult sell:  My story is just too provocative.  



Now, some might think this is a good thing, but, as I’ve written here before, my lead male character, who falls into unbearable depression following the violent death of his wife, does something shamefully contemptible, and, as we all know, in fiction, the truly despicable things are left to the bad guy, not the good.  But, at least for me, life is not simple shades of black and white.  There are variables of grey to both sides of the coin.  True, my character is flawed, but the entire message, the very theme of the story, is forgiveness.  So while I am excited to read what the editor thinks will help make my story more marketable, I’m not sure how far I’m willing to go to make it so, even though she said she’s willing to reread it afterwards. 

Yes, I am all for compromise, but, as my best friend, writing soul mate, and most awesome critique partner, Lisa L. Regan, has said numerous times, the character cannot fully appreciate or realize just how far he’s fallen—how far removed he is from the man he used to be—until he crosses completely over to the dark side.  And he cannot do that without doing that “terrible awful thing” no matter how terrible awful it is.  And believe me, it is.  It’s terrible awful

 

But this is a story of hard-fought redemption, and I didn’t start off making him a bad guy.  Like I said, he’s flawed, but his flaw is that, in his quest of lawful duty, he doesn’t actually see his flaw.  He thinks he’s always right, always on track, always perfect.  So to fall so far from grace is unendurable for him.  And while he’s desperately fighting the bad guys to save the woman he’s wounded and jeopardized, he’s also battling the internal demons he’s unleashed within himself.  


How do I compromise on that?

So anyway, now I know, rejections won’t kill me.  They don’t bowl me over anymore.  I barely feel them.  But it’s not so much that I’m scarred and therefore tougher.  It’s more like I believe in my story.  I trust its message.  It may be too provocative for agents and publishers of commercial fiction at the moment.  Hell, it might be too provocative for future audiences, too, but, having gone through a similar experience, writing this story was cathartic and has taught me exactly what I’m trying to express in the story:  to forgive.  

And I just can’t compromise on that, because the integrity of that message is much more important than the marketability of the story.     

             

Monday, March 5, 2012

Second Campaigner Challenge



Uh oh, Rachael Harrie’s at it again.  She’s just released the rules for her Second Campaigner Challenge, and this one ain’t so easy.  Rachael’s rules are in green and my replies are in red.  My challenge entry follows right after the five promts. 

Do one or more of the following:

Write a pitch/logline for a book based on the prompts (less than 100 words   Done!

Write a short story/flash fiction piece of less than 200 words based on the prompts  Check!

Write a poem with a twist using the prompts as inspiration (in less than 200 words)  Uh, no.

Write a story/poem in five sentences, each sentence based on one of the prompts   Forget it.

Write a poem/flash fiction piece (in less than 200 words) about the water pear *without* using the words “pear”, “spoon”, or “droplet”.    Not gonna happen.

For added difficulty/challenge:

Complete at least three of the above activities and tie them all together with a common theme (feel free to either state the theme in your post or leave us to guess what it might be)  Yeah, that’s not gonna happen either.  I struggled with just the two items, and it’s already nearly two in the morning, so…

Write in a genre that is not your own   This one I can handle.  I tried a little light fantasy, at least I think it’s fantasy.  You tell me.  I have absolutely no experience reading or writing in the genre. 

Ask Challenge entrants to critique your writing. After the Challenge closes, you may wish to re-post your revised piece(s), and I’ll include a Linky List at the bottom of this post for those wishing more feedback on their revisions (note: revised entries will not be judged, so please label clearly your original post and your revisions. Please do not offer critique unless someone asks for it, as per the usual blogging conventions. If you do ask for critique, make sure you ask for it clearly so people know you want it, and please be prepared to receive feedback that may not be 100% glowing. If you are a critiquer, please be tactful and courteous, and remember to provide positives as well as negatives.)   Okay, I can handle this part.  I think.  So go ahead and critique it, if you’d like.  I can take it.  Just be polite. 

Here are Rachael’s Prompts:

Prompt 1:
Two people are sitting together under the remains of a concrete bridge. Their backs are against a rusted bridge support. One person’s leg is cut. The other person has wet hair.

Prompt 2:

Prompt 3:

Prompt 4:

Prompt 5:

________

My flash fiction entry, at 199 words:

TAZI'S WISH

Tazi raced along the promenade, his cloak a crimson flash against the sparkling azure sea.  His tiny legs pumped, but the little wizard could draw no closer to the Wishing Orb.  It remained at a fixed distance, taunting him.
This was crazy.  He was a shaman, like his grandfather.  But Tazi had never been taught how to harness his magic.  Frustrated, he pulled out his wand, the one his grandfather had just given him, when they hid from the Spectral Guard beneath the ruins of the Empyrean Bridge
Even as the lifeblood poured from the injured man’s leg, Tazi’s grandfather raised the staff and tapped it against his grandson’s foot.  A funnel of water twisted up around Tazi’s body, swirling in a giant teardrop.  In a flash, the water exploded, and Tazi began to tumble through empty space, encased only in a gilded cage of whirling stars. 
Then, with the wand in hand, Tazi crashed, but in an unfamiliar land littered only with filth and scavenging imps.  Except for the Wishing Orb, rolling along the promenade.  All he had to do was touch it and wish himself home, if only he could reach it. 
Tazi raised his wand.  Poof!  

My Pitch for Tazi’s Wish, at 42 words:

Stranded in an unfamiliar wasteland, the young wizard, Tazi, must learn to harness the power of his grandfather’s magic wand to capture the Wishing Orb and return home, or risk becoming a lost scavenger imp adrift in a sea of decaying debris.    
________

That’s it.  If you enjoyed it, please click on over to  Rachael's
and “like” my entry.  I’m number 5.   Thanks!!



Friday, March 2, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!


Oh what a day,
A day it is,
A day of fun, 
Of zip & fizz!
Let's celebrate,
The doc was born. 
No Mr. Geisel,
Nor Theodor.

It's Dr. Seuss,
To me and you,
To Horton 
And to every Who.

He brought his pal,
A giant cat,
A cat who wears
A tall striped hat.

But that's not all we have, 
look here.
There's red fish blue fish
Everywhere! 

He brought another 
In a box.
Oh look, oh look,
A fox in socks!
And who's that with 
The fox you say?
He's green and mean,
but what the hay.

He's not so bad 
To have in a pinch.
I kind of like 
That old mean Grinch.

He brought with him
Green eggs and ham,
And one more chap
Named Sam I am.

The gang's all here,
Let's celebrate,
For Dr. Seuss
Turns one-oh-eight!


I know I'm not much of a poet, but any excuse to
have this much fun is worth the embarrassment.

Thank you, Jennee Thompson, for reminding me how much I love Dr. Seuss!



Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's CassaFire Release Day!



I am seriously worn out from hunting down and applying for college scholarships for my kid, so I’m gonna make it easy on myself and take a cheat day.  And it just so happens that everybody’s favorite blogging buddy, Alex J. Cavanaugh, is celebrating the release of his latest book, CassaFire, by hosting the Catch Fire Blog Party. 

CassaStar was only the beginning… 

The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend - to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.

The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren's civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan's technology and strange mental abilities.

To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves, the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…


CassaFire
by Alex J. Cavanaugh
Print ISBN 978-0-9827139-4-5
EBook ISBN 978-0-9827139-6-9
Science Fiction - Space Opera/Adventure


“This sequel to Cavanaugh's first novel, CassaStar, delivers on the promise of its predecessor, combining military action sequences and political intrigue with strong, memorable characters. Reminiscent of the action-driven stories of Robert A. Heinlein's early fiction…” - Library Journal

“This is a book of inner and outer journeys, of inner and outer adventures, mysteries and revelations. It is also a book of friendship, relationship and equality. CassaStar is the cake. CassaFire is the cherry.” - Edi’s Book Lighthouse

“A fun filled space opera of romance and adventure, CassaFire harkens back to its 80s influences like Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 20th Century, and Star Wars. Family friendly and sure to please fans of classic space opera in the Golden Age Style.” - Bryan Thomas Schmidt, author “The Worker Prince”

“…perfect for someone looking for a light space adventure with… great characters and story. Highly Recommended.” - Speculative Book Reviews

“This is the ideal novel for anyone wanting to dip their toes into Sci-Fi. I can’t recommend this one highly enough.” - Fantasy Nibbles

“The author knows how to keep things moving... a real page turner. The best space opera fiction I've read in awhile.”
- Randy Johnson Not The Baseball Pitcher

Find it on Goodreads 

Catch the blog tour:
2/22     Ray Gun Revival - Bryan Thomas Schmidt
2/27     Ciara Knight
2/28     Edi’s Book Lighthouse
2/29     Isis Rushdan
3/1       YA Author Elana Johnson
3/2       Michael Offiutt
3/5       Under the Tiki Hut
3/6       Talli Roland
3/7       Tossing it Out
3/8       Daily Write
3/9       Sia McKye’s Thoughts Over Coffee

Congratulations, Alex!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

First Campaigner Challenge: THE DECISION


It’s time for Rachel Harries’s First Campaigner Challenge:

According to Rachel, we are supposed to write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “Shadows crept across the wall”. These five words will be included in the word count. 
If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), do one or more of these:

  • end the story with the words: "everything faded." (also included in the word count)
  • include the word "orange" in the story
  • write in the same genre you normally write
  • make your story 200 words exactly!
I accomplished all five and in my very first piece of flash fiction ever!  I hope you enjoy it:
____________

THE DECISION

Shadows crept across the wall, nature’s chronograph of all the hours they’d spent entwined in the sheets, their eyes locked in a desperate tug-of-war.  The shimmering glow of twilight erupted in brilliant hues, saturating every surface in a blaze of blushing coral, flaming orange, and cool lavender.  He ran his thumb over the amethyst shadows beneath her eyes, a testament to the endless span of time they’d been stalling, waiting.
            “Are you ready?” he asked.
            She shook her head and looked away as tears pooled up.  She sighed and turned onto her back, staring up at the ceiling.  He swiped his fingers across the ribbons of sorrow cascading over her temple.
            “This is our chance to all be together again,” he reminded her.  “You still want that, don’t you?”
            Her chin quivered and she sniffled in a ragged breath, but she nodded, almost imperceptibly. 
            “Good,” he said.  “So do I.” 
            He reached over to the nightstand, emptied the bottle of pills into his hand, and grabbed the bottle of water.  They each swallowed half the pills and laid back, their hands clasped, fingers woven tight.
            “See you on the other side,” he said. 
Then the sun disappeared and everything faded.


____________

So, how’d I do?  If you liked it, click here on Rachel’s link and vote for #96.  There are plenty of others who are participating, as well.                

Monday, February 20, 2012

Really? You Wanna Know That?


I've been tagged!

With all that blog partying last week, I was thinking I could get down to business and focus on something writerly-ish, but alas, I have been tagged by four separate people in the last week or so, and I can’t let that go without some sort of response, so this post will be dedicated to answering a few questions from each tagger:

From my very bestest friend in all the world, Lisa Regan, who, I might add, just got married on Valentine’s Day—YAY LISA!! 

1.      What is the first line of your current WIP?

(From my second novel, Parasite)  It took five men in all, each over two hundred pounds and burdened with a bulletproof vest, a gun, a taser, handcuffs, and a nightstick, but they used neither their weapons, nor their restraints, just their bare hands and a thousand pounds of brute force.   (Yeah, it needs some work, but it’s the first draft so…)

2.      Would you rather have one book published that became a classic or have multiple books that sell well but eventually go out of print?

Definitely multiple books.  I want to reach as many people as I can while I walk this earth.  What happens after I leave means little. 

3.      What was the weirdest moment of writing inspiration you’ve ever had?

Well, I just told this story for my Origins post.  The fact that I was inspired to write at all was weird enough, but that it came to me through one song on one beautiful sunny day was weirder still.  That one moment produced an entire 95,000 word manuscript.

Next, a few questions from the delightful  Donna K. Weaver at Weaving a Tale or Two:

4.      What was my favorite book in 2011?

In non-fiction, I’d have to say “The Fire in Fiction” by Donald Maass.
In fiction, it’s “Creep” by Jennifer Hillier , hands down, and not because she’s a great friend of mine, but rather because it’s one helluva fantastic read and right up my alley!

5.      Who is your favorite author?

That’s easy, Greg Iles.  I’ve read each of his contemporary thrillers, all eleven of them, at least three times. 

6.      Who is your favorite, Bill or Ted, and why? 

Another easy one, Ted, because…well, he’s Keanu Reeves…DUH!!!

From new follower, Cortney Pearson:

7.      Plotter or pantster?

This one’s not so easy.  With my first novel, The Mistaken, it was thoroughly plotted with a very detailed outline that took me over four weeks to complete.  But now that I’m working on my next project, Parasite, I’ve been pantsting quite a bit.  I do have a lot of notes, but not in outline form, so I’m kind of wingin’ it this time around.  Scary!

8.      If you could go back and do anything over again, what would it be?

This is a tough question.  If it were only about me, I’d say I’d go back to 1984 and keep my daughter, Julia, instead of giving in to my parents demands and giving her up for adoption.  Biggest regret of my life.  But she’s had a remarkable life, so for her, it was the best decision.  Me?  Yeah, not so much.

9.      What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?

I, along with my husband, used to guide white water rafts down the south fork of the American River just east of Sacramento, CA.  Total freakin’ blast, man!  And often scary as hell!!

And from another new follower, Leigh Covington:

10.  If you could meet the President of the United States, what would you say to him?

Not bad for a democrat.

11.  What is your favorite quote?

“Never quit!” by Winston Churchill 

Okay, that’s eleven.  Now it’s my turn to tag someone.  There are many I would like to ask, including a few who don’t normally do this type of thing (Lynda R. YoungJulie MusilAlex J. Cavanaugh, Matthew MacNish, & Jami Gold  )  So here are a few I think would, but haven’t yet:
           
            Jennifer Hillier
            Mark Koopmans
            LG Smith
            Al Penwasser
            Mary Pax
            Julie Kemp Pick

And because this post is already way too long, instead of thinking up new ones of my own, I’d like each of these fine writers to answer the same questions I just did. 


Lastly, I’d like to thank the lovely Natalie Sharpston for bestowing me with the Kreativ Blogger Award.  In receiving this award, I’m supposed to list seven things about myself that might be interesting, but I think the eleven items above will suffice, but thank you so very much, Natalie!