Monday, July 28, 2014

Pros Part 3, Elizabeth Seckman's Hop, and I'm A NotSoAccidental Blog Tourist

Part 3: The Pros Give Us Some Advice and Happy Launch Day to Me

I'm back to enjoying this series that features writer friends who have some excellent books out. I asked them to send me their latest book, their tagline and a short piece of advice they wanted to pass on to writers, especially those still seeking publication. Last time YVONNE VENTRESCA visited with PANDEMIC. Today we have Michelle Zink, an author I debuted with and one great person to know.


Voodoo... Secrets... Revenge. 

Advice for YA writers:

Read everything in the genre. Everything. Not just the big commercial hits or the ones everyone is talking about. Look for books outside your comfort zone, books that have been shortlisted for awards or won them, books about characters with which you wouldn't normally identify, books you've never heard of but that have good word of mouth from a friend. It's easy to get in a rut and think the genre is derivative (and that you have to be derivative, too), but reading widely will remind you how much is possible, and inspiration will strike you in the most unexpected of places.

Prophecy of the Sisters Trilogy
A Temptation of Angels

This Wicked Game

Lies I Told (Spring 2015))

by Michelle Zink


 Availble at Evernight Teen

Double Negative's visiting some more blogs. 

7/27 Beverly Stowe McClure 
7/27 Jess and Stephanie--Author Tracker blog
7/28 Alex Cavanaugh
7/28 L. Diane Wolfe--Spunk on a Stick and Circle of Friends 
7/30 M. J. Fifield
7/30 Julie Musil
7/30 Crystal Collier

If you haven't entered to win the giveaway, it's still open. Jump in.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And Now My Contribution to ELIZABETH SECKMAN'S
Totally Imaginative HOP--The Year Was 1865

I'm excited to join in the celebration of the release of Elizabeth Seckman's new historical novel, Bella's Point. While the canons were exploding, and the North and South were asunder, a man out here in California was busy with something literary, so my snippet is a bit tangential. Hope nobody minds. 

The Year Was 1865. . .

The ghost didn’t scare Hazel, but it rattled her while she was working because it disrupted her routine. It wafted here and there while she tried to polish the library floor or dust tables, and, while she tried to ignore it, it distracted her from getting her job done. She’d no sooner tidy a row of book spines so they lined up flush with the edge, than a cold finger would hook one book and tug it off the shelf. Then the ghost fluttered away, thumbing the pages, then dropping the book anywhere when it had finished reading.
Rita Baum was already getting ready to fire her. Hazel could tell by how the librarian squinted her direction while re-shelving those errant books. Rita blamed her for the mess the library was in. That ghost had to leave, and Hazel was going to see to it. 
The problem was she had no idea about how to banish ghosts. She knew mops and cleansers and not much more. But she wasn’t a woman who gave up once she set her mind to doing something, so on the next Monday night when the library closed early, Hazel planned to deal with her ghostly problem. She arrived just at dusk and waited until the white cloudy form plucked the first book, fluttered its pages, then stuffed it back almost where it belonged.
As the ghost moved down the row, Hazel retrieved the book and read the title. Short Story Crafting. She put it in its correct spot and followed the ghost’s route, reading each title it selected. The Modern Short Story. How to Write Good Short Story. Grammar and Style.
When she reached the end of that row, she peered into the next, but it was empty. Usually, when the ghost was near she could feel it. The chill. The wisp of vapor. But now she felt nothing. Maybe trailing after it had frightened it away. She returned the last book to its proper shelf and brushed her hands together, satisfied and very pleased that it had taken such a short time to free herself from that pesky intruder.
She finished the floors in the non-fiction section and made her way to fiction. For a change, her job was nearly done tonight on time. And as she ran the mop along row PQR, she imagined that hot bath and TV show waiting for her at home. Then that familiar chill sprang along her arms. When she walked into the next row, STU, the ghost stood not a few feet away. The worst part of its return was that it was tearing pages from a book. That would mean her job for sure. Before she thought better of it, she lunged for the book and yanked it away. 
The ghost stood as still as a vapor can, and stared at her. “That was rude.” While the voice was all about mist and particles, it was a man’s voice.
“Not as rude as you. You can’t tear pages out of a library book!” She held out he hand. “Give me those.”
He shook his head. “These are mine.”
“Not likely. They belong to Angels Camp Public Library.”
“See here, young lady, I wrote this.” The ghost waved the loose pages in the air.
Hazel glanced at the book in her hand. The Collected Works of Mark Twain. She shifted her eyes back to the ghost. “Who are you anyways?”
He pointed at the book she held. “That is me. Or who I used to be before this terrible and permanent affliction.” He waved a hand over his ghostly form.
She opened the book to where several pages were missing. “So what is it you’re here to do?” Hazel liked things simple and tidy, and a book with missing pages annoyed her terribly.
“It has come to my attention that my prose is out of date. I have a Pass to visit for a sufficient time to make modern at least one story.”
“That seems kind of weird,” Hazel said. “Sort of like changing history.”
“Perhaps, but I intend re-writing this one about the jumping frog.”
“I can’t see the reason—”
“Listen to this.” The ghost cleared his throat, then began to read from the papers he clutched. “‘In compliance with the request of a friend of mine, who wrote me from the East, I called on good-natured, garrulous old Simon Wheeler, and inquired after my friend’s friend, Leonidas W. Smiley, as requested to do, and I hereunto append the result.’” He looked up at her. “Well?”
“Hmm. Kind of high and mighty sounding,” Hazel said.
The ghost agreed with a grunt. “No one’s likely to read it written the way it is. Not in this century. The year was 1865 when I wrote that. Things have changed a bit in storytelling. I’m here to set this right, but I don’t have much time left on my Pass.”
Hazel considered the problem. Rita Baum would toss her and her mops right out the door if she found this book shredded. But that writer ghost wasn’t about to budge. He was one stubborn haunt. She could tell by the way he held tight to those pages. “Look here. How about I get you some paper and a pencil, so as you can do your re-writing, but you give me those pages. I’ll lose my job if you don’t.”
Mr. Twain hesitated, then handed the pages to Hazel. “I can’t be causing a loss of a job, but I’d appreciate it mightily if you’d give me that paper and pencil.” 
He wrote for over an hour, then he gave Hazel what he’d written. She tucked the new version into the book with the restored pages she’d carefully taped back into place, then re-shelved the book in exactly the right spot.
“I thank you kindly, “ the ghost said and vanished.
A few nights later, when she’d finished mopping row STU, she opened The Collected Works of Mark Twain and took out the loose pages. Curious, she sat and read the straight up and down strokes of the handwritten lines. “‘A friend of mine wrote me from the East and ask me to visit old Simon Wheeler. My friend wanted to know what ever happened to a guy named, Leonidas W. Smiley. When I found Wheeler, he had quite a tale to tell.’” 
She turned her face to the ceiling, thinking that Mr. Twain might hear her clearer that way. “Not so highfalutin now. Much better.” 


Thanks to Dianne Salerni for asking me to be on The Not So Accidental Blog Tourist Hop. (Eat your heart out Gary!)
Dianne's credits are impressive. She's the author of The Eighth Day MG fantasy series (HarperCollins) and YA historical novels, The Caged Graves (Clarion/HMH) and We Hear the Dead (Sourcebooks). Dianne was a public school teacher for 25 years before leaving the profession to spend more time hanging around creepy cemeteries and climbing 2000 year-old pyramids in the name of book research.

I'm about hopped out, but here's my contribution to this HOP. 

1.What am I currently working on?
I’m just wrapping up two projects. One is another young adult and I’m back to my female protagonist with this one, and my usual older character with issues. The second project is the sequel to Alligators Overhead, my middle grade fantasy/adventure. I've sent it to a to publisher, so I’m in the waiting room.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

You won’t find a lot of romance in my books, so don’t buy them if that’s what you want to read. My characters do love and they do have romantic moments—a few—but as you’ll see from my covers, my characters are the ones mostly on the outside, looking in or dealing with some hard life issues. There’s not a ball gown in sight. Maybe one of these days I’ll write something so I can have a beautiful girl and a beautiful dress on the front of my book.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

One reason I write “gritty” stories for young adults is that I want them to connect with my characters--the loners, the abused, the neglected, the seekers who have only a dim light to guide them. I want them to see they aren't alone and that others, maybe the author, have experienced and understand what they're going through. 

4. How does your writing/creating process work?

I wish I knew. If someone could see inside my brain and explain what’s going on, I’d pay a lot of money to them. Each book comes to me in a different way. Sometimes I write the end first. Sometimes I write all kinds of scenes, in no particular order. Sometimes I doodle for hours, walk, pout and give up being a writer because I’m sure I’m not one of those.

Now be sure to check out these two fine writers next Monday, August 4 and see what their answers to these questions are.
Carrie daydreamed her way through college—until they thrust a marketing degree into her hands, slapped a summa cum laude seal on the corner, and booted her out into a less-than-stellar job market. Instead of panicking at the prospect of unemployment, she used her Midwestern logic to steer into the skid and point her life in the direction she really wanted to go: writing out those daydreams.Her passion for New Adult fiction led her to co-found NA Alley—one of the first websites dedicated to the category. A year later, she started a design business specializing in graphics for the publishing industry, called Forward Authority. Her Mark of Nexus series has appeared on Amazon bestselling, top-rated, and hot new release lists in various genres.

Stephen Tremp lives with his wife and two daughters in Mission Viejo, CA. He has a B.A. in information systems and an MBA degree in global management. Stephen has a background in information systems, management, and finance and draws from this varied and complex experiential knowledge to write one-of-a-kind thrillers.

His novels are enhanced by current events at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and other scientific research facilities around the world. These potential advances have the ability to change the way we perceive our universe and our place in it! You can email Stephen at and visit him at his WEBSITE for more synopses, reviews, and links to purchase or download his books from Amazon. 


  1. Like your story about the ghost.
    Happy to host you today.
    And don't worry, I'm all right with no romance in your stories...

  2. If someone could see inside my brain - LOL!

  3. Michelle offered some very sage advice. Something for all writers to consider.
    Your ghost stoy tickled me.
    And boy the drama if someone tried to see inside my head. They'd get all kinds of lost in this maze referred to as my brain lol!

    1. Fun to write a ghost story now and then. Thanks for reading it. We all have messy brains. That's what makes us interesting, right?

  4. Great story!! Like Michelle's cover too :) You've got all kinds of great people on today! :)

    1. This is one of my longest blog posts ever. I'm usually into short and to the point. But it has been fun with so many guests.

  5. Ah, Mark Twain is updating his style, eh? :)

    1. I just wonder how he would write those stories if he were writing them in our century.

  6. Thanks for participating in the tourst hop, Lee! I'm with you on the whole writing process thing. Right now I feel ridiculously stuck, and I wonder if my current WIP is officially the stupidest book that ever tried to be written.

    I don't know if I'll ever have a girl in a ball gown on one of my covers, but my first book has a girl wearing what looks like a circus outfit which is totally inappropriate for my character and the time period. So, beautiful dresses aren't all they're cracked up to be!

    1. I enjoyed doing it. So many people on vacation that I was lucky Carrie and Stephen said yes. Thanks for asking me, and thanks for your comment on the covers.

  7. My brain is closed for anyone to peek inside. Far toooooo messy!

  8. It's a very exciting time. Congratulations, everyone!

    1. Hi Joylene. Hope your week is off to a great start.

  9. Loved Michelle's advice. It is important to stretch ourselves in our reading.

    And really enjoyed reading about where you're at in your writing.

    1. She's right. I love to read as widely as possible. It's just so hard to fit all of that in these days.

  10. Good advice from Michelle and interesting take on the 1865 challenge. Poor Hazel couldn't have known she was dealing with a perfectionist. :)

    1. I'm sure MT is not happy with my story, but maybe he'll allow me to have some fun.

  11. Wonderful advice from Michelle, and I love your story for Elizabeth's blog hop! (Mine is coming on Wednesday.) I like your answer to the final question of how each story comes to you in a different way. Mine do too.

  12. What an interesting cover. Great advice.
    Good luck with your submission.

  13. Great advice from Michelle. Congrats with the release! Enjoyed reading the Hops.

  14. Good advice from Michelle Z and I do love the iron vine cover. Plus best of luck to Elizabeth.

  15. Great interview. I especially like the advice about reading _everything_ in a given genre when you plan to write about it. Very solid stuff. I also enjoyed your post over on Alex's blog:)

  16. What fantastic advice from Michelle! And good interview. So interesting how everyone has a different process.

  17. Loved your story! And reading about your writing process.

  18. I've read more YA in the past year than ever before and I'm loving it. There's infinite room for diversity in the genre. Very fun story. Handy to know you can get a chance to rewrite even beyond the grave.

  19. I agree with ghostly Mark! I'd like to go back and edit up a few of mine that are already on shelves.

    Thanks for taking up the challenge! I think it was a fun post and being tangential was more than acceptable!

  20. Lee, congrats on the book! Interesting blog hop - they are fun, aren't they? :)

  21. Michelle is right on!

    And best wishes with the new release.

  22. It's probably better if no one can look into our brains *shudder* Loved your ghost story. I've been reading a lot from Mark Twain lately (and about). I think he would want to change things ;)

  23. I like how you did a ghost story and I enjoy gritty stories. Michelle's book looks good.

  24. I'm a huge fan of reading and of reading all different types. Only need five more hours in each day. And gritty stories pack more punch and pull me in.

  25. So true. The more familiar you are with a genre, the esker it will be for you to take it to the next level.

  26. hope DOUBLE NEGATIVE has positive sales :) Have we sold millions already? Have we, have we? :)

  27. This Wicked Game has a cool cover and it sounds interesting! Love the advice and I agree completely. :)

    So many great bookish things happening here today. Great ghost story!


  28. Woohoo! Thanks for tagging me. I hope DOUBLE NEGATIVE is going well! :)

  29. Hah! Your post today is about as long as mine. We rock.

  30. Clever story, Lee. I like! :)

  31. Enjoy much success with Double Negative, Lee. Thanks for pointing us to many great authors, many great projects.

  32. Hi Lee - loved the ghost story ... and then Michelle's advice - crucial for a writer ... and I loved the notes you gave us about your stories, your brain and the ability to create ..

    Fun and I look forward to Carrie and Stephen .. cheers Hilary

  33. I like Michael's advice. And a library ghost sounds intriguing to me. I hope you have wonderful good success with Double Negative!

  34. Hey Lee,

    I thoroughly skimmed through you post. Being on the countdown to moving and knowing my internet connection shall be down in the next few hours, I had to skim. Thus, great post and yep, thanks for sharing!

    All the beast, um best, with Double Negative. Yay to everybody mentioned. A huge *boo* to even the mention of a blog hop, or blog fest, or anything to do with the alphabet!

    I Zink I should leave now. How do you get outta' here....HELP!

    Your starstruckest fan,


  35. I think it's important to read widely too. It gives you more of an idea of what it out there and what you can do with your own writing.

  36. Ah, so now your comment over at my 1865 challenge post makes sense...
    Nice reference to Angel's Camp...
    During my research, I also read that the "Jumping Frog" was a Greek story two or three thousand years old... and that the first edition of the book was issued in seven colors: blue, brown, green, lavender, plum, terra-cotta and red, and is sought after by book collectors... and I was tempted to continue digging and discovering other wonderful things, but I stopped there, or I would have ended up trapped in "Research Land" and my poem would never have materialized.
    Great story, Lee. I wonder if Mr. Twain would approve...?


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