Wednesday, July 31, 2013
It seems to me like each month is getting steadily crazier. May seemed insane until June happened. And I thought June was intense until July snuck up and punched me in the face. Ouch. *rubs jaw* I can't believe August is right around the corner. (My baby sister get's married in August!! yippee - but more on that later)
It's hard to believe the 4th of July happened this month. I mean, so much has gone on. I hope everyone had an awesome holiday. I was lucky enough to spend it in Missouri with my fam. Here's an action shot of my hubby, sister, and older brother playing croquette, a family 4th of July tradition.
We used to play badminton as well, back before I dislocated my arm playing. We almost won that match too. *blast*
The holiday was fabulous but the highlight of July was RWA ATL. I wrote a little about the Ah mazing!, ICYMI. The workshops, the signings, the friends were totally worth every cent and sacrifice. I’m so thrilled I was able to go.
The Monday after the Con was my 1 year blogiversary!! Woot woot! I talk about it a little here. It’s pretty cool to look back over my posts and see how far they’ve come. I hope I have a similar retrospective moment at the end of this calendar year. *fingers crossed* I'm hoping to see my word count each month progress. *downs coffee*
And although I’m technically still ‘paroled’ from Corporate America my temporary gig has required me to spend every week in South Carolina. It’s fun to work in another state but it can wear you out as well. Anyone who travels a lot for work knows what I mean. The week of RWA I was able to get a break from schlepping back and forth to SC. So that was a welcomed change.
Here's an action shot of me working from the SC hotel. Look at all those scribbles.
And in true, amazing-activity fashion, all of this took time away from writing. Which is okay, I learned the hard way (over the last few months) not to set a goal of 1k a day. *coughs* My chops aren’t that good…yet. Instead I set my go-to goal of 300 words a day.
With everything going on I’m surprised I was able to get words in at all. The July productivity recap is as follows:
9 blog posts, including my first giveaway! Fun fun!
3 novels read
3 days of mind blowing cool at RWA
1 finished WIP!!
Sadly, I did not hit my 300 words-a-day goal. No. I FREAKING BLEW IT OUT OF THE WATER!! *does happy dance *
For a grand total of 29,656 words. Holy word count Batman! That’s my best word count yet. Well, since I began tracking it monthly anyway. *does happy dance* I’m so thrilled. Not bad, not bad at all. And even better, this brings my total ‘tracked’ word count for the year to 61,310! Bow chicka bow wow! That’s incredible!!
Check out how I did in June, May, and April.
I’ve been really preoccupied with setting a solid ‘stretch’ goal for word count. Something that is achievable but also challenging. I’m wondering if the number is even that important. Maybe the daily word count should be derivative of the produce goal. Example: if I want to write three books a year would my word count goal need to be higher? Yes.
So my next step is to set an ‘end product’ goal. Is it one book a year? Is it two? And from there reverse engineer the necessary daily word count goals. So stay tuned.
How are your writing goals coming along? How do you determine you daily word goals?
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Here are my top 5 favorite things about attending a Writers Con (in no particular order, because, come on. Trying to order these would blow my mind, they are all that awesome!).
1. Meeting other writers IRL. I mean in the living, breathing, flesh. Writers are not just avi’s on the interweb. They are real people!! *gasp* I know, I know. I didn’t believe it myself (at first). I thought Nora Roberts might actually be a sleek, sentient, word-producing computer from the future come back to destroy us with tear-jerking stories of love and heartbreak. But no, she’s actually a really real person. AND. I. MET. HER.
Pretty cool, right? But better than meeting Nora Roberts I met a CP, former LitReactor class mate, and friend: Cherylanne. She was just an avi until last week when we actually got to meet face-to-face. It was awesome!
2. Free books. Like the real paper kind. For FREEE! Yes yes, I can afford to buy them but I’m like the rest of you. I’m stingy when I spend my money. When I buy books I generally buy books that I know I will like (based on reviews or, more often, based on the authors twitter persona and back jacket blurb). So when I walked into a Romance Writers convention I have to admit, I was terribly out of my element. I love a good romance but I don’t read a ton of it. Not to say I haven’t. But it’s been a while. And I was never too keen on historical. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as small town romance (but I’ve already read TWO of the small town romance books I picked up – I think I’m in love). Anyway, the point of this is to say the free books were amazing because they served to open my eyes to new work. I became a new reader. I exposed myself to more than just my YA/NA nitch. It was terrific and one of the absolute best parts of the Con. Because if we writers are not readers, reading widely and thoroughly, we are stagnating. (
Here my kitties are investigating my first day swag
Day 2 Swag
3. Education. I learned more than I could ever put up on this blog (but dog gone it, I’m gonna try). I learned about story structure in simple terms which struck a chord with me. Sure, I had read tons of books on structure but these lectures, given by published authors and their agents/editors really got through. I think my favorite lecture was about synopsis writing…although the goal-setting lecture by Cherry Adair was a close second. She’s hilarious! Cherylanne blogged some of her favorite tips from the conference here. Check it out.
4. Community. Writing is hard. It’s an all out battle against fear and doubt all the time. It never gets easier (from what I understand) and it never gets less scary. But at the conference there was so much positive energy that the ATL Marriott Marquis seemed to hum. As bitchy as women can be (and we all know we can by huge bitches) the 3 days of RWA was filled with positive, supporting, caring, energy. People were helping each other with pitches over breakfast, they were encouraging each other over lunch, and letting loose to enjoy each other’s company over dinner and drinks. I’d say it was like a sorority meeting where the girls actually like each other – but I’ve never been to a sorority meeting where the girls actually liked each other…so RWA is way better.
5. Inspiration. There were so many inspirational stories being shared. Everywhere I turned another author was telling a tale about how they got their agent or how they sold. The message wasn’t “this is some secret club that only cool kids can join” it was “if I can do it so can you.” And the luncheon speakers were amazing. First of all, they took the stage to speak in front of more than 2,000 people so hat’s off to them for having amazing lady-balls of steel. Second, both of them made me laugh and cry. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more motivated to push forward in my writing career than I do now.
Want more? Check out my interview with Cherylanneabout our RWA experience hosted by YA CONtEMP-O-RAMA.
Have you attended a writers conference? RWA or another? What were your experiences?
Thursday, July 25, 2013
To series or not to series, that is the question. A quick review of publisher’s marketplace reveals many recent deals are for stand-alones or even duologies. Some publishing professionals say the trilogy is costly to produce (hello, gotta make three books), more difficult to sell in foreign markets (hello, gotta translate three books), and some say the market is saturated with trilogies (hello, reader fatigue). But others will argue the opposite, citing how a series can build momentum in a fan base and deliver a more engrossing experience to the consumer.
I’m a fan on trilogies. I love being involved in a story that is complex and evolving. I love revisiting a world again and again. But not all stories need to be trilogies. And not all genres translate well into the three book arch.
I see the allure of the ‘series’. I mean 3 is my lucky number but it’s also holy (triple deities or other forms of a trinity permeate several religions including Christianity, Buddhism, Wicca, and many more). 3 is even in our DNA (our genetic information is encoded using a triplet codon system). We seem hardcoded to group things in threes from music (a chord is made of three notes), to sports (hat-trick), and even geography (Tripoli is Greek for ‘three cities) so telling a story in three parts seems totally natural. Perhaps the biggest debate around the number three involves the thumb. Do you use your thumb when making the number three or not? I, personally, do not use my thumb. It just seems weird to stick it out like that....Are you hitch hiking or making the number three?
Whether you make a three with your thumb or without, I can see why so many YA authors write trilogies. YA is an example of an audience whose stories fit well into the three book arch because the subject matter revolves around the evolution of the character.
If you are looking for a good YA trilogy check these out:
The ‘Serena’ trilogy by Anna Banks. Currently published through book two (Of Poseidon and Of Triton). A tale of mermaids, shark attacks, love and loss. It’s been great so far. I can’t wait for the third installment.
The ‘Sweet’ Trilogy by Wendy Higgins. Currently published through book two (Sweet Peril and Sweet Evil). The love interest in this series will get you hot – it’s his job. This is a tale of demons and their struggle to do right (and wrong) to their human counterparts. Love love love this!
The ‘Beautiful Dark’ Trilogy by Jocelyn Davies. Currently published through book two (A Beautiful Dark and A Fractured Light). A tale of angels (and their fallen brothers). I gotta say, something about angels with black wings gets me excited. I just love the idea. This story will keep you guessing who the bad guy really is.
The ‘Carrier’ Trilogy by Leigh Fallon. Currently published through book two (Carrier of The Mark and Shadow of The Mark). A tale of elementals and their struggle to balance nature. It’s different which I like. Also, takes place in Ireland which is awesome.
The 'Fin' trillogy by Tera Lynn Childs. Currently published through book three! (Woo hoo) This series involves mermaids, royalty, hot athletes and intrigue. Haven't read it? Have not fear - I'm giving away the first two books in the series to one lucky reader. Oh, and the cherry on top? Both books have been signed by the author!! Enter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Have you read a trilogy that you loved? Share your fave trilogies here:
Monday, July 22, 2013
I thought I’d go over my stats (in case you didn’t notice, I’m a bit of a numbers geek):
Number of blogs: 70
Number of hits: 2,607
Top three most popular posts (in order):
1. 7 Literary Agents You Should Follow – 74 hits
2. Author Interview: Priya Kanaparti re Dracian Legacy – 72 hits
Note: Priya is a fabulous writer, CP, and friend. Stay tuned because she's been gracious enough to let me interview her again.
3. Maven Blog Tour – Warning: Girl Cooties – 59 hits
I accomplished several of my blogging goals:
1. Write regularly
2. Create a resource list that I – and other writers – could use on this wild ride
3. Participate more fully in the writing community.
I think number 3 has been my favorite so far. My favorite posts, so far, are those where I host a blog tour stop, reveal a new cover for an author, review books, and interview authors. Maybe it’s the baby journalist sleeping inside me. *backs out of room quietly* *lets journalist sleep*
Blogging has been fun and hard. I understand why authors get blogging burnout. In fact, several prominent authors have written about blogging burnout lately, my favorite was the post by Natalie Whipple. If you can relate to Natalie or other authors posting about burnout Jami Gold shares great tips on burnout recovery . Burnout can happen for a number of reasons but the two most common are: it's time consuming and distracting. There are days when I write more words for blog posts than my WIP.
All in all, I’ve really enjoyed this last year. I think blogging has made me accountable and more committed to my goals. All of the work and discipline over the last year has made me a better writer.
So happy blogiversary everyone who's enjoyed this blog over the last year. To celebrate I’ve collected hot boy gifs for your enjoyment.
Zac Effron, because he's adorable and hot:
Jax Teller, because he's a bad boy with honor:
The men of Firefly, because hello brains and beauty:
Peter from Fringe, *see above about brains and beauty*:
And my classic crush, Mr. Thornton of North and South, because of this smile:
Stay tuned this week for a fun give-aways and RWA recap.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Tara writes Contemporary Romance with equal parts funny, sweet, and sexy. Her debut, Vacationista, is out today.
Isn't that a lovely cover? Add it to Goodreads here. It makes me want to grab some tanning lotion and hit the beach. Check out the blurb:
A broken heart.
A ticket to paradise.
A resort full of honeymooners ... are the last things newly single Patience De La Rosa needs if she's to find a candidate for a casual rebound.
Her luggage catching a flight to Mauritius instead of Maui doesn't help matters and a maxed out credit card doesn't buy a girl a fresh pair of panties. Then there's the annoying weird guy, the one who's married to his laptop, sitting beside her at the pool.
Odds for a fling improve when three single, sexy and willing candidates cross her path. Though Patience's luggage may be M.I.A., her breakup baggage crossed the Pacific with her. Will Patience cast it aside, throw caution to the tropical winds and indulge in island debauchery? Or will a tea leaf reader's prediction about her romantic excursions come true in unexpected ways?
Sounds like a fun, romantic romp, perfect for on the beach or by the pool.
"Vacationista is a sparkling romantic-comedy gem with one of the wittiest heroines I have read in ages! Full of zingy one-liners, clever quips and
some of the best dialogue ever!" -NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author Lauren Blakely
But wait, you want more don't you? Well, Tara has been kind enough to allow me to share an excerpt with you. Check it out:
(Oh, and keep reading because there is a terrific give away at the end of this post)
Excerpt from Vacationista by Tara Simone
The hotel phone rings and shakes me from my rage. Please let it be good news. Please let my luggage be here. I am so sick of wearing this peach tank top, what I wouldn’t do for a basic cotton tee. I cannot believe this shirt was ever my favorite. I answer the phone.
“I need help,” a voice mumbles.
“Who is this?”
“The albino guy with the sunburn.”
“It’s six o’clock in the morning. How did you know I was awake?”
“I didn’t. I need help.”
Huey’s room is actually one of twelve cottages that sit on a small cliff beyond the pool area looking out over the ocean. I use the term cottage loosely. Each one looks to be twice the size of the cottage I shared with Dan in Encanto. Floor to ceiling walls of privacy glass provide an unobstructed view of the ocean. Under a faux thatched roof is a private lanai with hammocks and patio furniture straight from the pages of a design magazine. The door to his unit is unlocked just as he said it would be.
If the outside was impressive, the inside is jaw dropping amazing.
This is ridiculous.
The furniture is several notches above what was in Ted’s room. Really fluffy, deep cushioned cream colored sofas and chairs that I just want to jump onto and crawl up in.
“Huey?” I call out. “I’m here.”
His voice calls out from another area of the house. “I’m in the bathtub.”
Hmmm. Generally if a man calls me to the bathtub I know what to expect. But this is Huey, and even though he is calling me to the bathtub, I don’t expect him to have any ulterior motives. Because it’s Huey. He’s not manipulative. I walk past the living room and through the sliding pocket doors that lead to the bedroom. To my left, a door is half open. I approach it carefully and stand just outside it without looking in.
“What can I do to help?”
“If you’re in the tub, I’d rather not.”
“Have you never seen a man naked? Or are you just afraid you’ll be so overwhelmed by my sex god physique that you will jump me.”
“I thought so. That is why everything provocative is covered. You will be safe in my presence.”
I take him at his word and poke my head around the door. The tub is huge. HUGE. It’s one of those Jacuzzi tubs built for two. Huey is in it. His man parts are indeed covered from view by lots of bubbles and a tray that stretches across the width of the tub, on which sits his laptop. This is not surprising to me. What is surprising to me is that he is submerged in water and bubbles the color of dirt.
“Why is the water brown?”
“It’s tea.” He fishes around in the water and holds up three tea bags. “There are a hundred tea bags in here.”
“Because Google said so.”
“For the burn?”
“Where’d you get the tea bags?”
“So you called me because what? You need cream and sugar?”
“If I wasn’t in so much pain I’d laugh at your witty observation. But not right now.”
“Fair enough. How can I help?”
“I can’t type. My arms hurt too much to type any longer. And I have to get this done. I need you to type for me.”
“I’m not getting in the tub.”
“I wasn’t asking you to. Though now that you mentioned it, that could be interesting, the tub is built for two.”
“Is it? I hadn’t noticed.”
“Best you not get in, you won’t be able to keep your hands off me. You can sit there and type.” He points to an area of the bathroom out of my view. I step further inside the bathroom. There are two white chaises, just as fluffy as the sofa in the living room.
“There is a living room in your bathroom,” I say. “I can’t fit a towel rack in my bathroom. And you have chaises in your bathroom.”
“Technically, it’s not my bathroom. And if you help me I will buy you a towel rack that fits in your bathroom.”
“Okay, Huey, I’ll type for you under two conditions.”
“And they are?”
“One, I get to order breakfast.”
“For someone so thin, you do eat a lot. The room service menu is on the desk in the bedroom.”
“And two, I’m out of here at ten to sit by the pool.”
“Do you realize you continue to put yourself in grave danger?”
“Wow. You can spell big words. Impressive.”
“I mean it. Why do you worship the sun? Don’t you know it’s bad for you?”
“I’m twenty-six. I am allowed a vice or two. You’re like thirty-two going on sixty. Would you relax a little?”
“I did relax. With you. In the pool. And look what happened.”
“Okay, if you’re trying to make me feel guilty −,”
“It’s working. I’m going to go order breakfast, want anything?”
“Really or are you being facetious?”
“Orange juice and the buckwheat pancakes with chocolate chips and maple syrup, please.”
I don’t know why he makes me chuckle but he does. He’s so formal and offbeat at the same time. I’m fairly certain he would have been the kid in my high school who had been tormented by the cool crowd. If I had known him then, I probably would have dismissed him, just as I did the first day at the pool. But in his own odd way, he’s kind of cool and fun and funny.
“Hello,” I say into the room phone, “I’d like to place an order please.”
“Yes, Mrs. Anders, what can we get you?”
Why does everyone here think I'm married? Oh, right, because everyone here except me is part of a couple.
I hate this place.
~Fun in the Sun Giveaway~
Tara Simone will be giving away a surprise summer tote fitting of a Vacationista, filled with romance novels, including a paperback copy of Vacationista. To enter, Like her Facebook page between July 17 and July 25. Winner will be chose on July 26. Open to continental US residents only. Entries that are outside the continental US or International will have a chance to win $25 Amazon gift card! People who have previously liked my Facebook page, are automatically entered to win.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
I did’t know what to expect from WICKED AS THEY COME. The novel is two parts romance, one part steampunk, and one part paranormal. I wasn’t sure if I’d like the paranormal elements but Dawson did a fantastic job making blud sucking fun again.
Here’s a basic overview. Have no fear, no spoilers here:
When nurse Tish Everett forced open the pesky but lovely locket she found at an estate sale, she had no idea she was answering the call of Criminy Stain, from the far off land of Sang. He’d cast a spell for her, but when she’s transported right to him, she’s not so sure she’s ready to be under the spell of another man. (It didn’t go so well last time with controlling, abusive, domineering Jeff.) If only Criminy wasn’t so deliciously rakish….
Half the inhabitants of Sang are Pinkies—human—and the other half are Bludmen, who in Tish’s world would be called vampires. But they don’t mess with any of the bat/coffin/no sunlight nonsense. They’re rather like you and me, just more fabulous, long living, and mostly indestructible. (They're also very good kissers.) But when the evil Mayor of Manchester (formerly Bludchester) redoubles his efforts to rid Sang of the Bludmen once and for all, stealing Tish’s locket in hopes of traveling back to her world himself for reinforcements, Criminy and Tish must battle ghosts, sea monsters, wayward submarines, a secret cabal, and thundering Bludmares to get the locket back and allow Tish to return home…but has she found love with Criminy? Could she stay in Sang forever?
Now, when they say Criminy Stain is delicious and rakish I have to agree. In fact, I couldn’t agree more. He’s the kind of self-assured that walks on the edge of arrogant, occasionally dipping his toe in. But I like that. A lot.
The world building is fabulous – I mean, come on, bludbunnies – and the dialogue is snappy. One of the best elements of this book was the romance. The scenes were steamy without being trashy. The sex served a purpose and wasn’t just ‘sex for the sake of sex’ - which I hate in fiction (IRL...that's another story).
I enjoyed this book so much I bought the next book that takes place in this world: WICKED AS SHE WANTS. I’ll post a review of that soon.
Did you read WICHED AS THEY COME? What did you think?
Haven't read WICKED AS THEY COME? Grab your copy here: Amazon or B&N
Friday, July 12, 2013
For those of you who don’t know, RWA13 is the Romance Writers of America annual conference. Writers, authors, agents, and editors are traveling to ATL for this three day event. Luckily, I live in the hot mess that is ATL so no need to travel (and by travel I mean get on a plane. I still have to get in the ABYSMAL traffic for 45 mins – 75 mins to get to the venue each day *sigh*). Note: If you are staying off site you should consider taking MARTA to and from.
This is my first writers conference so I want to make the most of it. I wanted a big conference experience and RWA fits the bill. It’s got classes on so many aspects of this bussines, from craft to managing the business finances of writing (yay), and vendors to take your headshot or print your business cards. See my cards from MOO below.
Aren’t they pretty? (Thanks MOO and RWA)
I’ve even done research on the lectures I want to attend, scheduled a ‘rough’ agenda to follow each day, and have even signed up for agent and editor appointments.
Possibly the best part about this conference is the chance to meet writers face to face. Most authors have awesome avi’s but a thumbnail digital image can only take you so far. I’m very lucky that a writer friend from one of my LitReactor classes will be in attendance (hey CA!).
If you are nervous about attending a conference (like I was/am) here are some helpful links to help you understand what to expect:
https://twitter.com/jennspiller Top 10 Ways for an Introvert to Survive a Conference.
Angela Quarles's One Stop Shop for [RWA conference] Linkage.
Another great idea is to follow the conference hashtag on twitter. I joined conversations using the #RWA13 tag and met several awesome writers already.
Are you going to RWA13 - or any other writers conference this year? Any tips? Share here:
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Lola is a YA Contemp Romance. The cover is getting a facelift which hit shelves this week. Here are the links to buy on Amazon and B&N.
Isn’t it pretty? Very grown up. Stephanie talks about the new covers as a means open the book up to all sorts of new audiences. I, for one, think you’d be hard pressed not to fall in love this Lola. Here’s a brief plot summary I grabbed from the blurb:
*NO SPOILERS – NO CRY*
Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. When Cricket, a gifted inventor, steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
My favorite things about this book are the characters. They all jump off the page in fantastic, tactile ways. I can imagine Lola’s hair and makeup. I can see Cricket’s walk. I can sense Calliope’s pride. Stephanie creates a world that is tangible and heartbreaking and I fell, head over heels, in love with it.
The first time I read this book I blew through it in a matter of days. Two days, to be exact. I couldn’t put it down. Then, I re-read it over the weekend because I couldn’t get enough.
It’s a wonderful romp through teenage romance that reminds us all what first love feels like. *sigh*
Five of Five Kitty’s to Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins.
P.S. During a recent move I lost my hardcopy version of Lola. I was devastated. I bought the ebook but it’s not enough. I’ll be adding the new version of Lola to my book shelf.
Have you read Lola? What did you think?
Want more Lola? Check out Stephanie's blog later this week for a deleted scene.
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
If you couldn’t tell, I’m a nerd. A band-o, comic book reading, super hero loving, book loving nerd. I’ve been in nerd girl heaven these last few days because I’ve read TWO good books that quench my nerd thirst. The first was ONE by Leigh Ann Kopans. Check out my review here.
The nerd book I want to discuss today is THE SUMMER I BECAME A NERD by Leah Rae Miller. Here’s a bit of plot overview from the blurb (don’t worry, no spoilers here):
On the outside, seventeen-year-old Madelyne Summers looks like your typical blond cheerleader—perky, popular, and dating the star quarterback. But inside, Maddie spends more time agonizing over what will happen in the next issue of her favorite comic book than planning pep rallies with her squad. That she’s a nerd hiding in a popular girl's body isn’t just unknown, it's anti-known. And she needs to keep it that way.
Summer is the only time Maddie lets her real self out to play, but when she slips up and the adorkable guy behind the local comic shop’s counter uncovers her secret, she’s busted. Before she can shake a pom-pom, Maddie’s whisked into Logan’s world of comic conventions, live-action role-playing, and first-person-shooter video games. And she loves it. But the more she denies who she really is, the deeper her lies become…and the more she risks losing Logan forever.
Sounds great, right? Grab a copy here: Amazon or B&N
Logan IS adorkable for a lot of reasons, but primarily (in my humble opinion) because he loves Green Lantern. Can I get a ‘woot woot’?
What? Why you no like Green Lantern?
The book was a fast read. I’ve had a few of those lately. I enjoyed the characters, especially Logan. He is swoon-worthy in he persistence and sweetness. *sigh*
I really enjoyed THE SUMMER I BECAME A NERD. Four out of five Kitties of SUMMER. It’s a fun, fast, fling that won’t leave you disappointed.
Did you read SUMMER? What did you think?