Wednesday, January 30, 2013

NaNoWriMo Spotlight: Evelyn aka EvelynElizabeth


Evelyn

So I lied. Instead of posting Eveln's interview last week I decided to postpone it to today. But here it is. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to meet Evelyn as she lives all the way out in Gastonia. Even though she doesn't mention it here, she went through both terror and relief during November when she lost her flash drive containing her entire novel! We were all relieved when she reported finding it, though. Let that be a lesson about backing-up your novel in multiple places to all of us! Her novel is titled "Ruby Red".






Who are you?

My name is Evelyn. I am a college student right now, going to a community college, and I write as much as I can. Writing is not the only thing I have to do, though. I also play the flute and piccolo, ride horses, and volunteer at a therapeutic riding center for children with mental and physical disabilities. That’s about it I guess.

Why did you pick NaNoWriMo to consume your November?

I love to write, and also love to challenge myself, which NaNoWriMo definitely does. I did it for the first time last year, my senior year of high school, in my creative writing class. It was a lot of fun, and I went above my 50,000 word goal. This year was not as successful, but shortly after November ended I finished my novel, and I plan on doing it for years to come!

What was your novel about this year? And why did you pick that?

This year my novel was a historical fiction, based in Europe in 1900. It’s more of an adventure/romance than anything I guess, but has a lot of stuff going on in it. I picked that because historical fiction is something I really like writing and history is one of my favorite subjects.

What is your typical writing process like?
I usually start by writing out a summary of the story in bullet points and when I get done with that I just start writing. I also usually put in some character development and stuff like that as well.

How did your month go?

While I still felt good about my progress in NaNoWriMo, I did not reach the 50,000 word goal, but I was still proud of myself in the end.

What did you learn from NaNoWriMo this year?
I learned that even if you don’t reach 50,000 words, you still accomplished a lot by attempting to write a novel in a month.

Where else can we find you online?
I use Google Blogger occasionally and tumblr, but I don’t use either of them very much (tumblr: evelynelizabeth214, Google: evelyn.mauney)

Weekly Roundup for 1/29/13

HUGE news today. If you're a YA or Sci-fi writer that is. And I've been quite excited because I fall squarely into one or both of those categories for my novels. Writer's Digest is currently running it's Lucky Agent contest and the focus this time is YA and Sci-fi. So, pop on over to read the rules and what to enter if you're interested. You've only got until the 31st to submit!

In other news, Janice Hardy lets us know just how much an agent or fellow writer can tell from a query.

If self-publishing, ebook or print, here's a list to help you make it look professional.

And probably my favorite find of the week, Aaron Hamburger detailing his outlining in reverse method which is highly similar to my own version of outlining after writing as the first step of editing.

However, what really convicted me this week was this article on an agent's blog about the over-utilization of character names and pronouns. I found that I'm prone to this. Oops?

Until next time!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I've been Interviewed!

I've been sitting on this happy, happy news for about two days since I had the tour to complete first, but...I've been interviewed! And by Gus Sanchez who, if you remembered, I interviewed first in my NaNoWriMo Spotlight series this month. The interview and the process was fantastic. Check it out!

snoopy happy dance
Courtesy of Klo


Also, look forward to a juicy bit of news on Monday for my next Weekly Roundup post. If you follow me on twitter then you will have already seen the news/link.

The next NaNoWriMo Spotlight interview will be posted tomorrow as it couldn't be posted on the last day of the tour.

Until next time!

Angel Eyes Tour Day 3

Time to announce the answers! (And don't forget about the other participants in this tour.)

By searching through Shannon Dittemore's website, Facebook page and interview, I gleaned these facts:

1. The title of the third book in the Angel Eyes Trilogy is titled "Dark Halo" (and what a cool looking cover to boot, eh?).

2. Shannon Dittemore names her biggest influences as J K Rowling and the Harry Potter series.

3. She supports the San Fransico 49ers who just made the Superbowl. No wonder she's pumped.

4. Her first agent was Jason Pinter and it was Holly Root who came in to save the day.

Bonus Question: Brielle is short for Gabrielle. An unusual nickname choice I thought, since Gabby is more popular.

Until next tour!

Remember to go buy Angel Eyes. Broken Wings is up for preorder as well with Dark Halo scheduled for release this August!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Angel Eyes Tour Day 2

On this, the second day of the tour, I thought we'd do a little scavenger hunt. First off, enjoy this interview with the author, Shannon Dittemore, on the Inspire Christian Writers website.

Now that you've read that (welcome back!) here are a few questions for you to dig up the answers to. All answers can be found either in the interview above or the author's website or Facebook page

1. In my review yesterday I mentioned that book 2 in this trilogy is titled "Broken Wings". What is the title of the third book?

2. Shannon Dittemore's names her biggest influences as which author and which books?

3. Shannon is a huge football fan. Which team does she enthusiastically support?

4. Her first agent unfortunately had to pull out on her before the deal was signed, but she snagged another at the same agency. What are both their names?

Bonus Question: What is the main character's nickname Brielle short for?

Comment with your answer below and the first person to get them right will get a little prize. What kind of prize? Well, you'll just have to visit tomorrow to see. Good luck! And remember, if you don't have the book already, give it a try herehttp://www.amazon.com/Angel-Eyes-Shannon-Dittemore/dp/1401686354/

The other participants in this tour are also putting up posts today. Check them out here.

Answers are up! See Day 3's post here.

Monday, January 21, 2013

CSFF Blog Tour: Angel Eyes

Visit the post for Day 2 and Day 3 of the tour.

It's that time of month again! Time for the CSFF blog tour that is. If you were paying attention, you noticed that I haven't participated for the past two months. This was due to a technical mix-up which cancelled the November tour and I refrained from participating during December which preserved what sanity remained to me. But it's back on schedule this month. The book is "Angel Eyes" by Shannon Dittemore and it's book one in the "Angel Eyes Trilogy".

Where should I begin this review? I guess my first impressions of the book ought to be a good place to start. The cover is fairly standard for YA fantasy. I guessed from the beginning that the circle she's holding onto is a halo and I was pleasantly surprised to see how it was worked into the story.

But I'm discussing first impressions. The blurb on the back is intriguing and attracted my interest from the moment I ripped open the package to see the latest book I'd be reviewing.

"Once you've seen, you can't unsee. 

"Brielle went to the city to chase her dreams and found tragedy instead. She's come home to shabby little Stratus, Oregon, to live with her grief and her guilt . . . and the incredible, numbing cold she can't seem to shake.
Jake's the new guy at school. The boy next door with burning hands and an unbelievable gift that targets him for corruption.
Something more than fate has brought them together. An evil bigger than both of them lurks in the shadows nearby, hiding in plain sight. Two angels stand guard, unsure what's going to happen. And a beauty brighter than either Brielle or Jake has ever seen is calling them to join the battle in a realm where all human choices start.
A realm that only angels and demons-and Brielle-can perceive."
However, I didn't crack open the book until I was ready to review it and boy what a surprise awaited me. It took until the beginning of the first chapter for it to fully dawn on me that yes, "Angel Eyes" is written in not only first person POV but also present tense. Aye. Present tense. I almost stopped right there. It was so odd to read since past tense is the norm and therefore what I'm accustomed to reading. That same tense choice is precisely why I've been avoiding reading The Hunger Games (that and I've spoiled enough of the plot that I know I won't like how the series ends).

But, I thought, let's give this a chance. A review is no good if one hasn't read the whole book, good or bad, after all.

So I kept reading and nearly stopped again at the second surprise. The first chapter and indeed the set-up of the story in the rural town of Stratus reminds me of the first few pages of chapter one in Twilight. And that's not a good thing. Both have a girl who's not happy moving to a small, dreary town in the middle of nowhere. And both are complaining about it. Dreading it in fact.

After this nasty shock I was even more reluctant to read on. Nevertheless, I persevered and turned the next page - I had this thing called a review to write, remember? Strangely, though, each page I read drew me further into the story. Jake's entrance took myself as well as the main character, Brielle, by surprise. I eagerly anticipated the revealing of the angels and demons who took flesh around them. Bit by bit it drew me in until I wasn't so conscious of the present tense anymore, more the switching POVs between good and bad characters. The climax was suitably scary even if I knew instantly that the tragedy which befell Brielle couldn't be permanent.

All in all, by the end I was glad I hadn't given up at the beginning. I enjoyed it, even if it wasn't the typical fantasy or supernatural book I'd pick up somewhere and decide to read after browsing the first few pages.

Of course, the author's bio is on the last page in the book (after the page announcing the release of book two, "Broken Wings" this February). I was surprised to read that this was her first book. But I was also impressed. It's a decently written book for an author's first published work. I look forward to seeing where she'll take the trilogy from here.

In conclusion, this is a good YA supernatural fantasy book in the Christian tradition, despite the slow start. I would recommend it to the teens and young adults in my life. However, I think this author, Shannon Dittemore, has room to grow even within this trilogy and I'm looking forward to it.

You can find the book at here: http://www.amazon.com/Angel-Eyes-Shannon-Dittemore/dp/1401686354/
Also visit Shannon Dittemore's website and Facebook page.

Many other bloggers are participating in this tour. Check them out here!

As part of the CSFF blog tour I received a promotional copy of the book for this review.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

NaNoWriMo Spotlight: Sarah aka packedsuitcase





Introducing my favorite writer from our write-ins this past year - Sarah, known on the forum as packedsuitcase. She's an internationally traveled writer and her story this year, "The Story of a Year", reflects that. I quite enjoyed our conversations each week even if it distracted me from writing.





Who are you?


My name's Sarah. I'm a hopeless wanderer and mini adrenaline junkie, a rootless whoknowswhat who would be quite content to live with just the contents of a backpack and two cats. And a laptop. And a comfortable couch. And probably a bed, if we're pulling furniture into the picture. Actually, I kind of like furniture. I would miss it. And dishes, I have a mild obsession with mismatched plates. And, frankly, semi-permanent hostel living doesn't sound thrilling. Plus they don't usually allow pets.


Why did you pick NaNoWriMo to consume your November?

I've wanted to write a novel since I was 14, but I only ever got short story ideas. I finally got the first taptaptap of an idea in May and by October it was insistently pounding on the door to my brain demanding to be let in, so I decided to welcome it home in November and see how we got along. Plus, I had surgery in October and so I finally got a break from my overscheduled life and realized I had time to both do NaNo and get a full night's sleep.


What was your novel about this year? And why did you pick that?

My novel is about a girl who finds herself smack in the middle of a life she hates who gets coerced into taking what becomes a very long vacation. She spends a year traveling around the world, meeting new people and trying to figure out how to survive on her own.

The story came about in a few ways. A couple of years ago I went through one of those soul shattering break-ups where I had to end a relationship with somebody I loved but who wasn't the right person for me. At the same time, several of my friends were going through the same thing and we were all trying to figure out what our lives were supposed to look like. At some point each of us said, "What if we could just run away and start fresh? What if we didn't have to be here, dealing with the pain of reconciling what we want our lives to be with the choices we made to stay with this person?" And then I spent the summer living in Copenhagen, and while I loved it, I experienced some of the most acute loneliness I'd ever felt. I spent my birthday on my own, feeling sorry for myself, and I thought about my main character, Jess, in a really concrete way for the first time. That she would experience that same loneliness, that it would be magnified by the break up and her lack of conviction in both what she is doing and what she has done.


What is your typical writing process like?

At night: Drink. Swear. Type a hundred words or so. Pour more wine. Look at the clock. Push the cat off of my lap and type for about an hour. Roll my eyes at myself, but keep typing. Type until I'm finished, whether because I have come to a good stopping point or because I am so exhausted I can barely keep my eyes open or because it's midnight and I'm sick of doing this.

In the morning: Wake up. Laze around in bed. Pour a cup of coffee. Enjoy the coffee. Pour another cup of coffee and fire up the laptop. Drink half of the cup of coffee while getting set up. Put on a CD. Pound out 1500 words without too much effort. Realize the coffee has gone cold. Drink it anyways, and write another 1500 words.

Both processes start around 9.


How did your month go?

It went well! Surprisingly well, actually. I got a lot written. But. (There's always a but.) A lot of what I wrote isn't really true to the character, and the story is very episodic. I'm focusing on a few other projects right now with more pressing deadlines, but once they're done I'm going to do a very manual timeline and really focus on what Jess would do and not what I would do in the same situation. I think there's a little too much of me in there, and most of that is in what I wrote in the last third of the month where I was so desperate to finish that I stopped being as critical of my writing. I need to spend more time with Jess. I think I need to think through (and write down!) a lot of her backstory and figure out what makes her tick.


What did you learn from NaNoWriMo this year?

That I am happiest when I write. I hate writing because it's hard and it's scary and it's risky, but I love it. I love telling stories, and I love challenging myself to tell them well and beautifully and to show the world at its best and its worst and everywhere in between. I learned that I can't let myself stop writing both because I need as much practice as I can get and because it is the best way for me to process the world. I also learned that it is possible for me to ignore the voice that chants "Not good enough not good enough not good enough" and throws popcorn at the back of my head. And that that voice only comes out at night - when I could write during the day I never heard it. Things are always scarier at night, I guess.


Where else can we find you online?

You can follow my ridiculous adventures and random musings on life at http://www.packed-suitcase.com.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

First Weekly Roundup of the Year

It appears that the new round of interviewees have been met with a good deal of interest (thanks to all the people promoting it). But now it's time to resume the weekly posting of links. I've got several good ones for you today on several interesting topics.

I'm sure hidden among your writerly New Year's resolutions is a line about querying that manuscript you're working on as a goal to apply bottom to chair and actually finish it. But, before querying, please do put on your polite hat. You might want to take a few hints from this rant by Fizzygrrrl about how to react when (yes, when, not if) you receive The Rejection. (Hint: blowing up is not an option.)

Before querying, you need a query letter, right? But how do you follow all that advice on the web of 'writing in your novel's voice' when your novel is written in first person? Jane Lebak of Query Tracker has a few excellent warnings to read before going down that route and embarrassing yourself.

However, once you've achieved that bottom to chair fusion that typical results in a completed first draft as well as second, third and so forth, you might want to enlist some fresh eyes to copyedit before sending it out. Marcus Trower has a few good reasons why a pair of fresh eyes is a price well worth paying.

But, we've deviated slightly. New Year's resolutions. We all have them. But Stina Lindenblatt thinks that this is also the time for laying out business plans. You might say, wait, do business plans belong in the same sentence as writers? Stina says yes and I think she has a point.

Ash Krafton has four major resolutions which she hopes to hold to this year, not least of which is wrangling herself into setting goals and deadlines.

Finally, Jane Lebak has some good advice about the types of writer's groups out there and how to choose the right one for you. Isn't it a writer's dream to find the perfect group of critique partners? I know I'd love to find the right group.

Now for the fun bit! I only found out about this today or else I might have tried to enter. I'm sure everyone's familiar with Amazon's breakthrough novel contest (which is currently accepting submissions and which I may never enter because, have you read the fine print?!!) but I found another smaller contest with a similar reward. The contest is sponsored by Curiosity Quills Press and they only accept NaNoWriMo novels. There are three rounds, each with prizes and the grand prize winner is offered publication by them. Right now, the voting for round two is going on. Sadly, the only thing the readers can vote on at this point is the cover concept but each of the remaining entrants has a synopsis, cover concept and excerpt up on the site. Go here to read and vote (they give out prizes to readers/voters as well!). I'm quite keen to enter this contest so it looks like I know where my NaNo novel later this year will end up!

Until next time!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

NaNoWriMo Spotlight: Sherry Rentschler aka poetphoenix




Interviewee #2 is Sherry Rentschler, aka poetphoenix on the NaNo site. As much as I would have liked to, I never had the opportunity to meet Sherry in person during November. However, I have enjoyed talking with her on the forum. I was delighted when she agreed to an interview. Her novel is titled "The Flood of All Bones".





Who are you? 


I'm a retired US Air Force veteran who has been writing since she was 5. When I was 13 yrs old, I was paid $5 for an article published in a local newspaper. That started my journey. During my time in service, I had my own byline in a base paper, did commission poetry work, won a few writing contests. After I retired, I've had a serial story published as well as poetry, spent several years as a contributing writer and photojournalist for a local town newspaper, and was a contributing writer/Asst Poetry Editor for online magazine Amateur Poetry Journal. I ran a highly successful web site designed for live action story-telling, breaking new ground in how writers developed role playing worlds, recognized in its day by Writers' Digest Online.
The last several years I have decided to devote to novel work, collaborating on one novel (currently in a drawer), and actively working on a murder mystery novel, while preparing to self publish a poetry collection. I'm happily married and when not writing, am a domestic goddess who likes vampires, dragons, cooking and old movies.

Why did you pick NaNoWriMo to consume your November? 

I've spent years doing research, planning, preparing. I was stuck in the perpetual research mode. I needed the shove over the cliff to get me going and remind me how much I believed in this project. For over five years I've "built" on the novel's premise with a family tree, lots of photos to help me with visual suggestions and an outline. But I was getting so far from the actual writing that I nearly lost who my murderer was supposed to be. I'd tried NaNo twice before and I hate that I quit once and failed to finish the second time. I needed NaNo to show me I could do the work and that my work was doable.

What was your novel about this year? And why did you pick that?

The Flood of All Bones is a murder mystery spanning across 16 generations. It begins in France moving from the Huguenots migration to this country, to my core family's settling in western NC around the mid 1700's. The tale involves incorporating historical facts into the tale including the local Cherokee Indians and creation of the railroad. But I wouldn't say it is historical fiction because history isn't important to the story. My town is completely fictional.

I can't say I picked this subject. I actually dreamed it. The matriarch of my story came to me in a dream several years ago. She's been whispering in my ear on and off for years and she's really miffed this story is taking so long. Haha But I have always loved a good mystery and love and murder are like good chocolate. Sometimes you just can't get enough. There's also a huge market for good stories like this.

What is your typical writing process like?

I can be a bit of a mood writer. Depending on what I want to work on, I select certain kinds of music. However, lately I seem to prefer quiet. I turn on my fake fireplace (a DVD fire on my portable player), set up a pot of good hot tea, lay out my materials, settle into a firm but comfortable chair and think of where I am in the story. I've been known to use my digital recorder while I pace and try out various conversations. Recording and playing them back allows me to hear whether or not the convos sound believable or stilted. A digital recorder is also invaluable in the car and next to my bed. I never ever want to miss a possible magic moment. A passing phrase can end up being a scene's major gem later.

I also set goals for myself. When I sit down to write it can be to finish a conversation, complete a chapter, develop a new opening in a new chapter or editing. Then I determine a word goal in my head. However, I've found that if I don't put too much pressure on myself, I can accomplish a lot more. I think we can be our own worst enemy when it comes to word goals. I just try to let the words flow out and worry about counting them later. What I do hold myself to is a time frame. Never less than 2 hours.

How did your month go?

I won! I went over 51,000 words and amazed myself. I must confess I had many initial worries and during the month I was worried I would run out of ideas before finishing the month. But several people, especially you, kept the encouragement coming. The writing got easier as the month went on and I found I liked the daily habit I had established for myself. My husband was very supportive of my mood swings and my fretting. He was also very encouraging, asking me every day how I was doing and what was my word count. Having people to be accountable to was also motivating.

What did you learn from NaNoWriMo this year?

NaNo showed me I was more capable than I thought I was. It proved to me that I do know how to write. It showed me that practice makes better and good habits make better writers. I also learned that giving yourself a goal is important and sticking to it until completion is the best personal reward. The hardest lesson is just write. Don't write and edit as I have done for years because you'll get lost, your story will falter, your momentum will die. Just write. So, ok, you'll do multiple edits later. That's the price we pay as writers. First just say what you need to say. Those are the words that matter. Get them out. Write with abandon. You'll feel so much better.

Finally, let others in. I used to worry about people hearing and stealing my works. I guess I thought I was so good or so important that anyone could say better than I could what my original story might be. Sure, there may be some unscrupulous types out there but the majority of writers are selfishly bound up in their own work. Share your work with others and listen to their thoughts. Find beta readers who are specialized in certain areas too like grammar, plot and punctuation. And let others help you keep your story straight. Usually you are rewarded for giving them your trust because you will learn and your work will be better.

Where else can we find you online?

my blog: rentschler.wordpress.com
Twitter: poetphoenix
Klout: poetphoenix

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

NaNoWriMo Spotlight: Gus Sanchez aka dabi71



Introducing the first victim, I mean, interviewee in my line up - Gus Sanchez, aka dabi71 on the NaNoWriMo site. His novel is titled "That's the Way The Heroes Go". I personally had a hoot meeting him at the first write-in I hosted during November.




Who are you?


Gus Sanchez, mild-mannered corporate cube monkey by day, swashbuckling, fearless writer of fiction by night.


Why did you pick NaNoWriMo to consume your November?

I'm a vet, albeit one that did pretty poorly the first time around. I hadn't planned on doing NaNoWriMo until I noticed that other writers I'd been following online were doing the same, so I threw in my hat just to prove to myself that I could do this. My first time was a disaster, a failure caused by pure hubris. I had nothing planned, thinking I could wing it. Bad idea. This time around, I trained like I was going into a prizefight, one that was going the full 12 rounds. And I won.


What was your novel about this year? And why did you pick that?

My novel's a story about a man who comes to the realization that he's been living a life of a childhood fantasy, and it's about time he grew up. Problem is, he's a superhero, so how can he possibly grow up, when he's expected to be the realization of everyone's superhero fantasies?

It's been an idea that's brewed in my head, in several hundred configurations, over the past 18 months, but the heavy bulk of it was written within the past 9 months or so, including November.


What is your typical writing process like?

I start with a sketch, and that's often involving me writing longhand. I've filled notebooks up with lengthy scenes and ideas. Once I get something I like going, I'll commit it to disk, using Scrivener, which allows me to see the edits and drafts I've compiled so far.

I'm also pretty ritualistic when it comes to writing. If it's just me and my notebook, then it doesn't matter where I am. But if my story is taking off, and I'm in the throes of 2,000-3,000 words, where I'm writing is important. Either I'm at my desk at home, or my local Starbucks. Regardless, there's a playlist I'll listen to that I've compiled solely for this novel, and plenty of caffeine to keep me going.


How did your month go? 

Completed. Survived. Exhilarated. Now on to editing, which isn't so much fun.


What did you learn from NaNoWriMo this year?

Quite a lot, but since I blogged about it a few weeks ago, allow me to share it with you: http://outwherethebusesdontrun.com/2012/12/11/post-nanowrimo-lessons-learned


Where else can we find you online?

Feel free to follow me at http://outwherethebusesdontrun.com, and I'll follow you as well!

Happy New Year!

Image(s) courtesy of VintageHolidayCrafts.com

After a long night of partying, no not that kind of partying. Quit it going down that train of thought. I did go to a party though. A friend held a New Year's Eve party at her house. There was talking, playing games, sitting around the fire, setting off confetti poppers, a movie (after midnight of course) and a toast to welcome in the new year. I enjoyed myself overmuch (especially her kitties) and stayed up till after 4 am. Thank goodness I didn't have to work today.

All in all, it was a good way to send off the old year and welcome in the new. But, now it's back to work. The list grows ever longer of things I need to do as the clock ticks down to February. I know I keep hinting at something big happening in February, but sorry. I'm not going to announce it till I know for certain. It will certainly generate a huge amount of blog content though.

But, here's an announcement to kick off the new year with. If you were following my blog last year you will remember that I ran a series of interviews featuring NaNoers. Since it was so popular, I decided to bring it back this year. However, this time I drew interviewees from my local region so most of the people that will be featured are people that I met during November.

The fun starts tomorrow so swing by to see who is first up!

Until next time!

PS Yes, I know my Christmas Picture Countdown flopped this year. I completely ran out of time to keep doing it. Oops?
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