Sunday, April 13, 2014

Weekly Giveaway: Week One

Hey guys and gals!

So I have a lot of books -- I would say I have too many books, but can you ever really have too many books? (The answer is yes, you apparently can). I don't have any more shelf space which is great news for anyone who enjoys to read!

Starting on Sunday each week (until I run out of books), I'll provide a list of available books.  If you win, you choose one of those books and I'll ship it to you (United States only) - no monetary cost on your end!  You'll also get an ebook copy of both my novelettes, My Summer Vacation by Terrance Wade and Hipstopia!  The giveaway ends Saturday night (PT).

The books you could choose from this week are (all lightly used paperback unless otherwise noted):

Young Adult Books

Adult Books 
Sorry, these giveaways are open to followers only - all the other entries are optional! If you are outside of the United States, you can still enter to win and receive the two ebooks!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 3, 2014

On death in books

There are some authors who pull off killing a main or side character flawlessly. Some authors have done it numerous times, with some successes and some failures. Others have tried to get it right, but have ended up missing the mark.

That brings up the question: What makes a "successful" death in writing?

Now, before I discuss the types of deaths, and how some have been successful, know that I am talking from my own standpoint. I am one person, one reader, and one writer. My opinions are my own, and mileage may vary. Also, I encourage you to comment on why a death worked for you.  Was it a reason different than below?

The Romantic
When the romantic interest of your main character takes a drastic turn for the worst, it needs to be gut-wrenching. The death should be a tear-jerker. As readers, we need to feel the soul-crushing hopelessness of the main character as the thought settles in--forever, without the love of your life. We need the horror, the disbelief, and the pain of the moment, all wrapped up into one emotional upheaval. Without it, this death might seem pointless.

The Martyr
This is one of the hardest techniques to pull off for both main and side characters. Rarely do main characters die in books, and it's because we, as readers, have such an emotional connection to them that we cannot imagine a life where they no longer exist. If you decide to make a character a sacrifice, you need to make us believe it. It's the hardest challenge, but if you can pull it off, your story will likely stay with the reader forever.

On the emotional side, the reader needs to feel disbelief. That feeling needs to become acceptance because the story was so beautiful it couldn't have happened any other way, or anger for the person responsible for the MC/side character's death. Oftentimes, readers need to blame someone. If you take away the beauty and the ability to blame a character, your readers will turn to the next person on their list--the author. I've seen this happen. If you can't pull off a martyr, your readers may turn against you. Tread carefully - it's a fine line between success and failure. 

The Friend or Family
Arguably, the friend/family is the most versatile character when it comes to death. It could be a sudden, unforeseen accident; an elongated illness; a brutal murder; or a suicide. All of these need to contain disbelief, yearning for answers, and even anger. Most stories that have done this successfully eventually carry some hope, like the main character's ability to carry on against all odds. Sometimes, the death of a friend or family member will begin a trial, where the MC will be tested time and time again. Grieving is encouraged, but they need enough resolve to keep going, even if it's just going through the motions.

The Villain
Should all deaths of enemies create instant relief? Not necessarily. If your "evil" character is well-rounded, there should be some redeeming quality to him or her, even if it’s just superficial. The death of your villain should be satisfying, but not overly so. The world is not black and white, and your reader should see both sides to your villain. And remember - death does not always equal justice. Just because X is dead doesn't mean everything is magically okay. To some extent, because X existed in the first place, some things will never be okay.

What it boils down to
There are obviously more categories out there. It boils down to the author needing to make the reader believe it. Forcing a character's death for controversy won't make readers connect with the demise of their beloved character. If you miss the emotional mark, your story might be less successful.

I encourage you, as a reader, writer, or movie lover, to comment on why a certain character's death worked for you. You can be vague or mention specifics, but remember to mark any spoilers, please!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Different Approach

If you're a writer, you've probably heard the phrase, "Just write; editing comes later."  It's very good advice, but I'm abandoning it for my latest endeavor.  Before you gasp, I will say that I do not recommend this for new writers.  New writers shouldn't second guess themselves every step of the way.  New writers should write and practice writing.  Editing can come later.

While I only have two works published, I'm not a new writer.  I'm working on my eighth novel.  None of my novels have been published, because I get hung up on the editing process.  I'm so excited about writing the story, and I write my book in less than two months.  Then I hit the wall.

My wall is editing.  It's so giant that I can't see a way to climb it, let alone figure out how to get to the other side. So I've decided that my wall needs a door.

I am abandoning the really good advice that got me to seven novels in the first place.  After writing a chapter, I'm going to edit it to make it the best chapter it can be. I'm crazy, right?

My new approach to writing:
  • Outline the whole book. My outlines are super long.  They have some choppy dialogue, description as it comes to me, random notes, and whatever pops in my head.  I might have a 600 word outline for a 3,000 word chapter. My outlines, in essence, are the first draft of a story.  It's easy to add and subtract things in this state because the writing doesn't have finesse yet.  It's also allows me to developmentally review my book before I really start writing.
  • Write a chapter.  I need to slow down while I write and take time to imagine each scene. I'm especially having trouble with this piece, since world building is a massive part of my story.  But the next step should also help with this.
  • Edit the chapter.  This will happen two to four times.  
    • First pass: Check the description and the character development. Are things unfolding the way they need to be?  Is the pacing for this chapter good?  
    • Second pass: Grammar, sentence structure, tightening paragraphs.  Is there a better way to say something?  Are the emotions coming out okay?  
    • Third pass: Another line editing pass.  
    • Fourth pass: Proofreading / last minute fixes.
  • Write the next chapter.
When I finish, my book should almost be done.  I'll do one last pass on the whole book before sending it off to my proofreaders.

Editing my own work has always been a headache and hangup for me.  I like to reward myself for editing, so I end up playing a tons of video games when I could be writing.

My new reward system will be: "Once you finish editing this chapter, you get to write the next one."

Writing, something I love, will get me through editing, something I struggle with. I should mention, while I struggle with my own editing, I love editing for my clients.

I'll be sure to blog with an update of how this is working for me!  So far, I really like this idea in theory... now to test it.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Craving the Cold

While the rest of the world is dealing with a winter wonderland version of Dante's Inferno, I've been staring at dead leaves, dirt, and a heck of a lot of brown.  Living in New England proved to be hard from the lack of sun during the winter.  Living in Southern California is more difficult because of the lack of change.

Months run together because last month was no different than this month, and next month won't be different from this.  The only change is the intense heat of the summer, and that's unpleasant. Yesterday, there was a 90% chance that we would get a thunderstorm.

90% of a thunderstorm turned into a sprinkle that lasted an hour.  We got some beautiful clouds, but they refused to pour.

I think most writers and readers can agree that there's nothing better than curling up with a good book, cocoa, and a warm blanket in the cold of winter.  Or lighting a fire and reading by the flickering flames.  Maybe I'm a romantic, but I miss it.

Our next house must have a fireplace.  It must also have an elaborate system of bookshelves to house the hundreds of books I've acquired.  A reading nook and writing table would be preferred too. 

Sometimes these little things seem so impossible that it hurts to dream.  But we'll get there, I know we will.

I'll continue to dream, to strive, to hope, because one day it will pay off.  It's my tenacious nature that keeps me going, even on days I don't feel like it.  This pent up energy I have is best used for creativity.  Either I'll start on my new writing project earlier than expected, or I'll do some much needed painting.

Thanks for listening, dear readers.  My next update will house something writing related and will be good news, this I promise you.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Giveaway Winners and Update

Congratulations to the two winners, Jessica and Pearl!  I've already been in touch with both of you, and I must say - I've never been so excited about a giveaway before.  I don't know why, but this one just felt better than my previous ones.  I have you guys to thank, of course, for all the entries!

I wanted to take a second to make an update on The Collapse (Hipstopia's sequel)!  I am twenty-one chapters in to edit number three, which means I have seven chapters away from giving a copy to my developmental editors.

That means, I am totally on track to publish by May!

Also, I agreed to do a developmental / line editing exchange with one of my fellow authors (RJ Blain).  Not only is she an amazing developmental editor, but she's an awesome story teller herself.  She's going to whip me into shape with The Unanswerable, which means I will be well on my way to getting that published by the time she's done with it.

Seriously, the girl's amazing.

So congratulations again to our winners! Check back for more information on The Collapse and occasional teasers!  And remember, you can buy Hipstopia and My Summer Vacation by Terrance Wade on amazon!