Alligators Overhead Trailer

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Special--WestSide Authors Love Realistic Young Adult Stories


Yes, we WestSide authors do love stories that are about what teens deal with in their lives. Sometimes we tell about the funny side of those school years or we dig deep and reveal the darker experiences. Our stories are out there so young readers can connect with our characters, so they can understand others have gone through many of the same things as they have. We're saying, "You're not alone."

This week I'm starting a Sunday Special Series, featuring WestSide authors and their books. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

My first super author is BETH FEHLBAUM. Be sure to check out her WEBSITE and her BLOG. She has two books out HOPE IN PATIENCE, COURAGE IN PATIENCE  and a third, TRUTH IN PATIENCE is on the way.

Here's what Terry Trueman, Printz Honor Author of Stuck in Neutral has to say about her second book. Beth Fehlbaum digs down into the intensely painful and unforgettable pain of Ashley Asher, a girl who has every reason to give up all hope, but who chooses the far more difficult path, finding a way to be strong and healthy. An extremely brave work, Hope in Patience takes us places we don't want to go but must, if we are to care about victims of child sexual abuse.

Ashley's story is about courage and the power of hope to overcome fear. This is not 'an abuse story-- it is a survival story, as evidenced by the bravery shown by all the teenagers in the Patience books, who face life-changing events head-on.  Beth Fehlbaum




Here's her Book Trailer for Hope in Patience.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

In the Throes of Thursday--Guest Post by LM Preston


I'm excited to have this author here today, and she's going to be my last post for the month of July. I'm taking a break, giving myself some time off, and then knuckling down to work on my book. Hope you'll come back in August to say hi. Have a wonderful end of July.



Welcome to LM PRESTON
author of 
EXPLORER X - Alpha (Buy Now, Amazon and All bookstores)
THE PACK (Buy Now, Amazon and All bookstores)





HOW TO DREAM BIG


Dreaming big, is something we do most when we are children.  Yet, when we hit the teenaged years, our dreams have gotten so beat up that we start to ‘Dream Safely’ or not at all. 

For me, growing up in the inner city with teenaged parents, I was counted out before I even started.  In order to persevere, I had to have a spirit for survival in order to catapult me to the person I am today.  Most people, who knew me, would meet me and never grasp the struggles I had growing up.  Truly, I didn’t grasp them because I always saw the glass as half full, yet it could get empty if I didn’t hustle to make something happen.

Dreaming big, is taking your dreams, and mapping them into reality then talking yourself out of moments of depression to push through no matter what.  No matter how many times people tell you that you can’t, you smile then say ‘I will’ and make up another roadway to your success.

Here are my steps for Dreaming Big:

KNOW THY SELF

Dreaming big starts with taking time to get to know the person you are turning into, and the person you want to become. 

I loved myself at an early age, and knew myself relatively well.  Part of the reason why was because I imagined myself as what I wanted to be.  I would create versions of myself in my minds eye when I was a kid, while I talked to imaginary friends.  I believed that I would be a warrior that killed dragons while I rode in on my unicorn.  I even wrote little stories about my imaginary adventures.

When I look closely at my created worlds when I was young, I realized that I created a place in my imagination where I could win.  In that world, I never took ‘no’ for an answer.  In that world I had revealed a lot about myself.

DREAM, YOU CAN DO IT…DREAM OF WHAT YOU WANT TO BE
First of all, you have to DREAM it in order to ACHIEVE it.  That was a motto I learned at a summer camp, and it stuck. 

As I got older, and started to listen to the many people in my life that told me that I couldn’t do this or that, I staggered in my dreaming.  I started to dream safe dreams.  I didn’t allow myself to wish for something beyond what I could see.

Don’t ever do that!  You don’t want anyone else to have control over your dreams or aspirations.  You own them, and you can make them happen.

PLAN IT!  RE-PLAN IT!

All dreams can come true.  However, you want to think about how you can do it.  You have to have a plan A, B and C.  If none of those work, figure out another way.

REJECTION WON’T STOP YOU!
Never let a ‘NO!’ stop you. Turn that 'no' into your own 'YES!'

Brush it off and move onto plan B.  If plan b, c, d, e, f is not working then you need to take a step back and re-evaluate if you are ready to pursue the next plan.

As a writer, our first draft is not complete.  I have had to revise, edit, and rewrite my books up to ten times.  In the end, it was a better, cleaner, shined up piece of work.

After I received over fifty rejections on one manuscript, revised and edited my work, then I finally reached my Big Dream.


BE WILLING TO REDIRECT

Sometimes you set forth on a dream and find that you are no longer willing to pay the price for that dream.

Redirect – Take what you have learned from that dream and build your next dream.

Unlike most writers, I never dreamed of becoming a writer.  I just wrote because I loved it.  Some friends told me that I mentioned to them that I wanted to become a writer, but I truly didn’t remember that dream.  My original dream was to be a CFO (Chief Financial Officer).  I know that’s not exciting, but I really wanted to do that.  Okay, to be honest my first dream was to be a teacher, and then it was CFO.

Well like most people, I had unrealized talents.  I went to college and become a Financial Analyst.  I hated it.  I worked as a Financial Analyst for one year, and then I went back to school for my Masters in Information Technology.  I loved working in the Information Technology field, and took to it like a fish in water.  My recreational writing came to a stand still and I started writing technical documentation and designing large computer systems.

After sixteen years in IT, I decided to apply for a job teaching at the University.  I loved teaching.  It allowed me to create all of these really cool science fiction type devices for my students to design.

While working as an Engineer, I ran across a published author who I revealed that I wanted to write a book but I didn’t have the time.  He encouraged me to write a page a day.  After our conversation I put that thought away and did not start writing.  Later that same year, my husband suggested that I should write a book, and once I started I couldn’t stop.

I’ve had many Big Dreams, and some of them I have reached, others I have not.  The pleasure of pursuing those dreams, and the lessons I’ve learned in doing so has given me a fulfilled life.  I don’t ever have to look back over my life and say “I wish I would have tried to do that.”

You only ever get one life, so don’t be afraid to Dream Big and pursue your dream.






Thanks for the post, LM. Loved what you had to say about dreaming BIG! Be sure to visit LM at her BLOG and follow her on TWITTER @LM_Preston. She loves fans and she has a lot to share with them. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

ROW80 Wednesday Check In

Have to say, Yippie! Did it. Finished the draft. Subbed it to readers. One reader is already back and I'm into revision.  I'm actually ahead. Can't believe it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. #ROW80 and #WS4U

A special thanks to my YALitChat writing boosters. Sheri Larson, Susan Kaye Quinn and Margo Brenderson. They've been great.

If you want to join in you can today. Also here's the list of those already participating. Stop in and give them some encouragement to reach their goals.



Next week: I'm taking a vacation. I can make that goal.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Miscellany with Jo Ramsey

Well, it's summer and given to blogging sloth as I am in warm weather, I've turned over the Write Game to more energetic writers. Here's a post by Jo Ramsey that I hope you'll enjoy. I'll be back to do something of my own later . . . after I finish eating summer tomatoes and hiking the back trails of my mountain or strolling the beach. 
Energy Healing, Beings, and Taking Control
by

JO RAMSEY



I’m excited today to be a guest on Monday Miscellany! We’ll see how miscellaneous I turn out to be. I’m usually pretty good at randomness.

I was telling a bookstore owner the other day about my Reality Shift series of books for young adults. It’s an urban fantasy series, and the main characters are two teenagers who use skills like energy healing and channeling to defeat demons, send evil dead spirits to the other side, and keep the Universe from being vaporized.

When I mentioned the energy healing and channeling parts, I received a blank look. I often do when I mention those. Then again, if memory serves, when my friend Chris first mentioned them to me back in 2005, I think I gave him a blank look as well. They are rather unusual concepts.

Some readers have probably heard of Reiki. Not the whale, but the holistic healing method. Reiki is a form of energy healing. The idea behind energy healing in general is that each person (and, actually everything, living or non) has an energy field surrounding them. Damage to the energy field can cause physical and mental injuries or illnesses; physical or mental injuries and illnesses can cause damage to the energy field. So the theory is that by treating the energy field, not only can that damage be repaired, but the physical and mental things can be healed or helped as well. The treatment is done by the healer placing their hands on or very near certain points, called energy centers or chakras, and becoming sort of a conduit for the energy of the universe, which they direct into those energy centers.

Okay. Reading that over, it might seem way out there to some. But there is a scientific basis for believing energy fields exist (some call them electromagnetic fields), and I’ve seen for myself that energy healing can be effective. For the sake of family members’ privacy I won’t go into specifics, but one person, in pain for months from a botched surgery, was completely pain-free for two weeks after an energy healing session. Another, on medication for a chronic condition for four and a half years, was able to, with their doctor’s supervision, be weaned off the medication through regular energy healing sessions. Some hospitals now allow Reiki volunteers to come in and work with chronic or terminal patients, and it does seem to help.

Channeling seems even more out there. That’s the process of allowing a “higher-level being” to speak through you. Some people call those beings angels, and I guess sometimes they are. The beings that I was taught (yes, I’ve actually studied this stuff…) are most likely to work with humans are spirit guides, light beings (which I call “light guides” in the Reality Shift books) and beings of light. The channel goes into trance and allows the being’s consciousness to use their body for a brief period of time to communicate more directly with a human.

In the Reality Shift books, main character Jonah Leighton has been studying these things and yoga since childhood. At age sixteen, he becomes friends with fourteen-year-old Shanna Bailey and begins teaching her about energy healing and channeling. In addition to the previously mentioned demons, dead spirits, and potential Universe vaporization, the two also use their skills to help Shanna overcome a painful past and present, and to change her life for the better.

Reality Shift books one through three are available now, and book four will be out this Thursday, July 21. You can find out more about the Reality Shift books, along with my other young adult urban fantasy series The Dark Lines  and my young adult contemporary novels, on my WEBSITE  The two series are available from the publisher,  JUPITER GARDENS, as well as third-party retailers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

You can also learn more about the two series on their own websites, REALITY SHIFT SERIES HYPERLINK and  THE DARK LINES.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

In the Throes of Thursday--Guest Post by Megan Curd

When I asked MEGAN CURD to do a guest visit  here, I said, "Whatever you want to post is fine with me." I had no idea she'd come up with THE PERFECT one, but she did. You'll get a sense of her wit and her style from what follows and that should whet your appetite for her YA novel, BRIDGER.  Oh, and it's available in Kindle. Be sure to visit her website and don't pass up a chance to read more of this excellent YA writer.

Thanks for stopping by, Megan.

TRUTH: Good Books Get Overlooked

I know, I know, that title makes this sound like a Debbie Downer post, but I promise it's not. Totally on the contrary! I hope this post makes someone out there even more excited to jump into the publishing literary waters and get wet. If you need floaties, I have them. :)

Here’s the ugly truth that none of us writers want to admit: good books get passed up. There just aren’t enough publishing houses, enough agents, enough time in the day to make every good book into a New York Times Bestseller through a major publishing house the way we all want them to be.

HOWEVER.

That doesn’t mean that we should be any less excited about writing, or any less passionate about our books. Think of how many hours we sit, typing away, scribbling notes so we don’t forget plot lines while out to eat with a friend… who now thinks we’re certifiably insane because we’re excited about imaginary people. Wait, maybe that’s just me. Ahem. Anyway, you know what I mean. We’re emotionally invested in our books, and we love our characters like they’re family members or lifelong friends.

Then comes the day that you slaved for: the day you have put “the end” on your manuscript. You’re giddy, and completely convinced that every New York agent will be salivating over it. You send out your queries with shaky hands and a stuttering heartbeat.

And you get a rejection. Then another one. And another.

I’m here to tell you, friends, it WILL happen. I have experienced it first hand. It sucks.

I’m also here to tell you, that if you are truly dedicated to the craft, you CAN make your book a success. I’m not saying it will be overnight, and it may not even be this particular manuscript you’re currently trying to pitch. It might be the next one, the fifth one, or the fifteenth one. All I’m saying is that if you are dedicated, your book will find a home.

Good books get overlooked. Agents simply have so much going on, so much slush to sift through, that’s it is a justifiable phenomenon. The biggest thing that we as writers can do is polish, polish, polish. Sending a query about a manuscript that has not been line edited, beta reader tested, reworked, and beta reader re-tested will deliver sub-standard results. Heck, self-publishing a manuscript without going through the culling process will result in a sub-standard product for our readers.

That, my friends, is the point I’m long-winded, circling around. Good books get overlooked. It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t ever see the light of day. I can tell you from personal experience, I had an agent. We parted ways. I had many friends give me crazy looks for letting an agent go. Do I have regrets about the decision? I won’t lie, some days I wonder if the right decision was made, but I can tell you this: I don’t regret the decision to put Bridger out on my own, and I definitely don’t regret having the opportunity to publish Bridger through Soul Fire Press and Christopher Matthews Publishing. Good things can happen via small publishers, just like they can via big publishers.

Good books may be overlooked by what we consider the “Big Six,” but that doesn’t mean you can’t go with a smaller house or go Indie. All are viable possibilities, and if you do your homework and pursue the avenue that is best for your book, you will see results.

No matter what option you choose to go for personally, going Indie was probably the best decision I could have made for my books and myself. I can still be involved in the process and share in the production. I love that. I can interact with my readers and set the prices for my books the way I prefer. That’s a win for my readers as well.

Good books get overlooked. That doesn’t mean yours has to be one of them. Sure, writers such as Amanda Hocking, John Locke, JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer are all either Indies or traditionally published exceptions to the rule. That doesn’t mean that we can’t strive to excel as they have. Exhaust all your options. If you miss out on one opportunity, go for another. Remember this, also: it only takes one yes to make your book happen. One. So take the rejections in stride, and know you’re one rejection closer to getting your yes. Don’t let your book be overlooked, and do everything in your power to give the best reading experience possible to your readers. We owe it to them. After all, they give us our livelihood. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

ROW80 Wednesday Check In

I actually made it. Finished my draft, revised it and sent it to my first reader. Thanks #ROW80 and special thanks to Susan Kaye Quinn, Sheri Larson and Margo Brenderson. They keep reminding me that I set goals, that I can meet them and when I do I should feel good about it. If you want some daily YOU CAN DO affirmations, check out Writers Support 4U on facebook.

I totally appreciate it.


Want to offer some writers encouragement? Here's the ROW80 Blog Hop  List. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday Miscellany-Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies-A Review

I'm departing from my usual Monday Miscellany and posting a review. The reason is that I want to share this book with my readers who might still have questions about this business called Writing Young Adult Fiction. I sure have some and I'm very pleased that Deborah Halverson happened along with some answers.



First, I have to make one disclaimer. I adore Books for Dummies, and I’ve used several; however, when I heard about Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies I was very skeptical that the Dummies format would be an effective tool for helping writers through their creative process and into print. That skepticism vanished after I had the book in my hands for a few minutes.

In the Introduction, she invites readers to jump around, skim, scan or pause to absorb on their own terms, and the Dummies format turned out to be brilliant for encouraging this highly individualized use of her book. It’s easy to spot the Bulls-eye icon that signals important time-saving Tips, or to pause at the String on a Finger because this icon means “Remember this. It’s important.” The Time-Bomb alerts readers to problems, things to avoid. The Nerdy Guy icon signals that the reader can skip this for the moment and return later for a more detailed examination of a point. The Exercise icon tells the reader to stop for a moment and try out what has just been presented.


Halverson has what it takes to help the aspiring author with a “behind the scenes” look at the world of young adult fiction. First, she had a ten year stint as editor at Harcourt Children’s Books, then she became an award-winning author of two young adult novels, Honk If You Hate Me and Big Mouth. Besides these excellent credentials, she’s the founder of the website, DearEditor.com, regularly speaks at conferences and teaches writing.  

In Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies, she offers up her years of experience in clear, digestible chapters. She provides examples and exercises that allow the reader different ways to access, understand and assimilate what she has presented. Added bonuses are the thirteen topnotch, award winning writers and agents who expand on the chapters with targeted tips and models. Mary E. Pearson gives ten tips to beat writer’s block. Agent Erin Murphy explains how to make those “quiet books loud” and salable, and Darcy Pattison discusses the book trailer’s importance as part of a promotion campaign.

Chapter 1 starts with getting “The Lowdown on YA Fiction.” In this chapter she gives a clear understanding of what is meant by young adult fiction, a term she uses as an umbrella for two categories: books written for teens from 12 to 17 and those written for kids 9 through 14. I found myself drawing hearts next to sentences like, “Above all, young adult fiction is not watered-down adult fare.” I drew a double heart next to, “Let  [the knowledge in this book] free you up to explore and experiment with your own fiction, finding the right way to tell your story.”

Her book ends at the author’s ultimate goal, selling and promoting her published book with “Ten Ways to Make the Most of a Conference.” I wish I’d had this step-by-step help before I attended my first conference. I would have gone with my list of tangible, achievable goals; I would have known about the faculty and made comments on those business cards I collected; I would have come away with and retained so much more than I did. 

The chapters between the beginning and the end are meaty without being dense. They pinpoint the essentials, and they carry the reader through the most important phases of this creative process, but they also make the business and professional aspect of writing apparent, important and clear. 

I really appreciated her chapter titled “Writing the Almighty Hook.”  Authors are always being told to write a “hook” in their queries as well as in the opening lines of those books that are under construction, and that’s great advice, but so often I’ve seen the question, “How do I do that?” Well, Ms. Halverson shows the steps. In this chapter there are models of great hooks, wonderful tips for keeping that hook right there as a guide from beginning to end of the writing process, and then there are distinct steps that lead into practicing and perfecting those first lines.

In “Strategizing and Packaging Your Submission,” she demystifies so many aspects of this part of the process: Targeting your submission, writing that dynamite query letter, the synopsis, putting all of your submission into a neat and interesting package, and turning those rejection letters into learning moments. 

Overall, I’d have to give Writing Young adult Fiction For Dummies a Five Star Rating. I feel it fills a need in the “How To” market. I’m really pleased that I happened to be in the right place at the right time to review this book and pass along what I gleaned from its pages. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Check In ROW80

I'm back #ROW80 and with one major goal and a few minor ones accomplished. My first draft is in very good shape, thanks to you and my three constant supporters. Susan Kay Quinn , Sheri Larson and Margo Berendsen.

I've edited that draft once and this week's goal is to do one more go through before shipping the ms off to my crit group. Wish me luck.

For those who want to join in Click here and sign up.

Also if you need a writing boost, don't miss joining the #WS4U group on facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

May The Best Dog Win--An Interview with Dash!

I love picture books. I loved them when I was a child. I loved reading them to my children. I admit to reading them even when there are no children in the room.  So today I'm really excited to have Kelly Ha . . . No. Sorry. Kelly couldn't be here today, but she sent a representative, her main dog, in fact. So here's Dash to give you a little preview of what you're going find when you open the cover of MAY THE BEST DOG WIN.


Ruff! 


Oh wait, you guys are human. Sorry about that. I'm Dash. Mom's says I'm a Heinz 57. That means I'm a mixed breed dog. I'm also the star of May the Best Dog Win. Some lady named Kelly Hashway followed me around and wrote a book about me. I don't know why she just didn't help me out when Sweeper showed up. I guess she thought the story wouldn't be as good if I didn't fight off the Sweeper myself. 

Oh well. I'm here to talk to you all about characters in picture books. (My author says picture books are the ones with the pictures. I guess that makes sense. You humans sometimes call things by strange names, but not this time.) So, I'm the main character--at least that's what my author said. Really I'm the good guy. But see I have this problem. The Sweeper showed up one day and now suddenly I'm not Mom's favorite anymore. Sweeper keeps stealing my time with Mom and he steals my leftover food scraps! Do you believe that? So I had to stick up for myself. My author says the main character has to find a way around his problem. I guess she means when I fought Sweeper in the toughest game of tug-of-war ever! It didn't end well. I don't like to talk about what happened. You'll have to read my book to find out for yourself. But let me warn you, it may make your eyes tear. I know mine did.

Okay, so enough about me. Let's talk about Sweeper. He's the bad guy. What did my author call him? The ant... no that's not right. Hang on, let me ask her. She speaks dog. Oh, the antagonist. What a funny word. You humans! Sweeper's nothing like an ant. He's huge! Anyway, Sweeper's the bad guy who comes in and tries to steal my Mom away from me. And he gets to do things that I'm not allowed to do. So he and I have to face off. My author says that's what happens in books. The good guy (me) and the bad guy (Sweeper) have some sort of fight to see who wins. Hmm, is that why she named the book May the Best Dog Win? Wait that means--oh, I'm not allowed to tell you how the book ends.

I hope you learned something. I heard it's hard to teach a human new tricks. 

Ruff!

Be sure to stop by and say hello to DASH and KELLY HASHWAY at Freado and take a peek inside this great picture book. Amazon has it in stock now, so you're just a click away from making a wonderful purchase for your PB library. Dash and Kelly would love it if you followed them on Twitter @kellyhashway and  stopped in to say hello or "Ruff" at their Website

Friday, July 1, 2011

Guest Post by Cheryl Rainfield


How To Make Your Writing Gripping and Powerful 
by 
Cheryl Rainfield, author of SCARS

When writing is powerful it grips readers, immerses them in the story and doesn't let them go until the end. But how do you do that?
Here is what I think helps:

-Write about something that matters deeply to you. Be passionate about the issues. Readers will sense your passion.

-Write your own truths and emotions into the fiction. This helps to make the writing stronger, make the events more real for your readers. Readers know when you're not being honest or you're not going deep enough, and truth strikes a chord in the reader.

-Give your characters depth and layers. Make sure they're not one-dimensional. When characters have depth, readers care about them more, and about what happens to those characters.

-Keep a thread of tension throughout the manuscript, ramping it up when you need to. Tension and conflict drive a story forward.
 Make sure that your story events all lead to the climax, otherwise it feels like a let down or a betrayal.

-Help the reader relate to your main character. Make your main character easy to identify with and empathize with (though your main character must also have flaws--people don't want to read about a perfect character, though they also don't usually want to read about a character who doesn't want to redeem themselves in some way).

-Draw on your own emotions to write. Don't hide from it. Emotions make a story feel more true, and are something readers can relate to, regardless of whether they've had that specific experience or not.

-Use specifics when you write. Bring in details (but not too many--make sure you sprinkle them throughout the action and dialogue so they don't stop the story flow). Specific details also help make the story world and events more real.

-Use all the senses--smell, touch, taste, hearing, and sight, to help the reader really be in your character and world.

And of course, get feedback on your writing. A good critique group is highly worthwhile.



Thank you, Cheryl, for sharing this with everyone. Here's Cheryl's Blog, so be sure to drop by and say hi.