Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Put a Ring On It: Commitment to Writing.

From bronswirlz13
I was thinking the other day about writing now and writing when I very first began Haven. After my 10+ year hiatus, it was like falling in love all over again. I stayed up all hours of the night, pounding away on the keyboard like a psychotic Mozart, less the innate mad skills to create genius without even trying.

When I made breakfast, I thought about the book. When I took a shower, I thought about the book. When I drove the kids to the park, yep, I thought about the book. I'd lay in bed for hours some nights, plotting and having conversations with the characters in my head. I'd sit up from a half-sleep and frantically scratch ideas on paper using only the insufficient light from my phone. Believe me, I have notes I can't even read, and the ones I can read are mostly nonsensical.

But I was completely in love with my project... I felt like a teenager again when everything was fresh and exciting. No matter how flawed my story might be, it was mine, and I was over the moon.

As time wore on and I made a genuine, till-death-do-us-part commitment, the glory began to fade. It wasn't because I'd lost interest in the project. It wasn't because something newer and more interesting came along. But now, the real work began.

Getting words on a page is the fun part. It isn't a struggle for me to come up with ideas or characters. The work is introducing those things in the way they deserve. We're a team, my story and I, and I want to be the best teammate I can for what's been given to me.

Instead of creating adventures, I found myself removing those things that didn't move the story forward. Plot holes here, irresolution there. I suddenly found I was patching up the relationship between my story and myself, and I didn't even know we were having problems.

According to the story, I wasn't devoting enough time to the characters' needs. Sometimes I took situations too lightly. I tried to work on it. But it's in my nature to make light of something that makes me uncomfortable. Apparently, my characters didn't like that. They wanted me to feel the things they felt so I could share that with the reader.

So, I adapted. I started listening and trying to be more understanding. I made sure to clean up my messes and take out the trash. I was more cognoscente of their plans when I made my own. Over time, our relationship began to flourish once more. Haven hit the shelves with a shiny new wedding band and all.

There have been a few naysayers along the way. Those people who spew out relationship advice left and right even though they've never been a part of a successful one themselves. They squawk like harpies flying overhead, pointing out all the things you're doing wrong. And I'll confess, their bitter words are as piercing as acid-tipped darts on bare skin ... if you let them be.

But I made a commitment to my writing a long time ago. I know I can't live happily without it. Writing has become a part of who I am and who I'll become. I may never be a J.K. Rowling of a success or a Tennyson of beautiful words, but I choose to love our relationship because it's ours. No one else has one like my writing and I do. For that reason, I can't let anyone else tell me how to manage it. I won't compare my relationship to the relationship of others, because no two are alike. When it comes to your writerly marriage, you find what dress fits YOU, because wearing someone else's just won't work.

A writing marriage, just like a real one, isn't always beautiful. You'll have up days and you'll have down. But just like a real marriage, you choose to make it work. The writing isn't going to bail on you, so the ball's in your court to maintain the passion. Ignore what others say unless it's helpful. Just remember, not everyone with an opinion is qualified to have one. Even crazies think they're right.

At the end of the day, it's just the two of you. Enjoy every heartache and every victory, because not only do you grow with each experience, so does your relationship.

Happy writing.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness giveaway

Click image to see all blogs participating in this hop!

Thanks for stopping by the Random Acts of Kindness giveaway! Many thanks to Read for Your Future and I Am A Reader, Not A Writer for hosting.

I'm giving away a 3-in-1 prizepack today! Dark Visions by L.J. Smith. This volume contains all THREE books in the series. Due to shipping, this giveaway is US only! Sorry friends across the way.

Kaitlyn Fairchild has always felt like an outsider in her small hometown. Her haunting eyes and prophetic drawings have earned her a reputation as a witch. But Kait's not a witch: She's a psychic. Tired of being shunned, Kait accepts an invitation to attend the Zetes Institute, where she can have a fresh start and study with other psychic teens.

Learning to hone her abilities with four other gifted students, Kait discovers the intensity of her power -- and the joy of having true friends. But those friendships quickly become complicated when Kait finds herself torn between two irresistible guys. Rob is kind and athletic, and heals people with his good energy. Gabriel is aggressive and mysterious, a telepath concealing his true nature as a psychic vampire, feeding off of others' life energy. Together, Rob and Gabriel's opposing forces threaten the group's stability.

Then one of the experiments traps the five teens in a psychic link. A link that threatens their sanity and their lives. And Kaitlyn must decide whom to trust...and whom to love.

 Fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter for a chance to win. This is my first time using Rafflecopter. What are your thoughts on it?

Happy reading!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Lovapalooza Begins Tomorrow!!!

Hosted by Chirenjenzie!!!

Valentine's Day. When someone says Valentine's Day most people automatically conjure up images of love and romance, chocolate and flowers. Women want jewelry and pretty things, while men want ... well, I think we all know what men want for Valentine's -- which is kind of ironic considering the believed origins revolve around saints. Anyway, while those things are awesome in their own right, it'd be expensive to offer the women's choice and illegal (in 49 states) to offer the men's. So as a big thanks-for-being-awesome, Elizabeth Isaacs, LK Gardner-Griffie, and myself are offering our books for FREE for three whole days. Beginning Monday, February 13th at midnight through February 15th at midnight, you can download The Light of Asteria, Tattered, and The Willows: Haven from Amazon at no cost.

If Nora Johnson hadn't been on campus that day she would have never known her true destiny. Helping her friends move into the dorm that she wanted to call home, Nora accidentally collides with mysterious stranger, Gavin Frey. His very first touch sends flames through her heart. The world seems different-something within her has changed.
Nora tries to resume her mundane life, but she is now consumed with the one whose very presence ignited her soul, the one with eyes of emerald. Nora soon learns that an energy buried deep within has been unleashed. She now wields unimaginable power and has become Gavin's source, his strength.
Her newfound joy is shaken when she discovers that Gavin is not who he appears to be and she has been thrust in the middle of a war of mythical proportions. Negativity has allowed all things evil to flourish, the earth is under siege. The fate of creation hinges on the power within her heart. Will she be strong enough to survive?

When tragedy strikes, seventeen year-old Ashton Blake sets out on a cross-country road trip, leaving the comforts of Malibu for the mountains of Kentucky. Along the way, she encounters Gabe Willoughby—the mysterious drifter with eyes like the sea and a knowing smile. Getting to know Gabe raises questions about her past. But no secret can be buried forever, and Ashton soon finds herself in a world where water is air and myth becomes reality.

Just as Ashton comes to accept her newfound heritage, she’s summoned to fulfill a treaty laid down centuries before — a treaty that will divide her love and test her loyalty. In the end, her future isn’t her biggest concern, her humanity is. To run may mean war, but is she strong enough to stay?

What do Sunday afternoon court proceedings, cheerleader tryouts, and a book burning have in common? Katie McCabe is back in action.

After her nemesis Harvey is found guilty and sentenced to community service, Katie wants to believe her troubles are over, but Harvey won’t rest until he gets revenge. When blackmail rears its ugly head, she’s caught between friends and enemies putting her growing relationship with Tom at stake. Books go up in flames and Katie’s world rains down in tatters.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Why So Tense? Writing Past and Present.

Whether you write past tense or present tense is up to you. One thing that's not an option is falling in and out of one or the other.

Example: Bob sees Evie walking toward him, and so he waved hello.

Sees implies it's happening at that very moment, whereas waved means it's already happened. Jumping in and out of tense is not only incorrect, it's irritating as all get out. Your reader will quickly become frustrated.

So, past or present ... how do you choose?

To answer this question, I ask the following: Which do YOU prefer to write? Which lends itself more to the story?

For me, reading present tense is like being beaten repeatedly over the head with a teaspoon. It's irritating and unnatural in my mind. It completely pulls me out of the story until I can get used to it, and even then, I don't really enjoy it. I feel rushed as I read. Granted, my non-creative writing is more present tense, but that's a different post altogether.

I prefer to write past tense. It's what I like to read, and it's what comes naturally. Past tense makes the reader accept things have already happened, and therefore are inevitable. Nothing they can do will change it. For darker stories, this is a priceless advantage. That sense of hopeless, how-will-they-make-it? feeling drives the emotion behind the story. You can practically feel readers' tears as they come to grips with the character's despair or the destruction of their world, and the fact that there's nothing to be done.

A downside to writing past tense is this: The reader knows, if you're writing first person, that the character isn't going to die or suddenly cease existing. You are in the narrator's head. The narrator can't tell a past tense story if they're dead. Mostly not, anyway. I can think of some instances where that would work if, you know, you were a ghost or something. But still.

Another thing to keep in mind is, some past tense writing has a tendency to make you feel like you're reading the past. Sounds idiotic, I know. However, there are times you want to feel the history. If you have a story set in the future, or you have a fantasy/sci-fi/paranormal type of book, what the reader takes in becomes their history as well. It takes you to a new world with a past but also a future. The reader is completely immersed, feeling as if they're a part of it all. This wouldn't work as well set in present tense. Past tense causes a new world to feel real, credible. In my novel, there's a culture who's ancient but still around. Writing in past tense allows the reader to experience their lives from long ago, but connect with them in the present, too.

If I wanted to be dramatic and really draw out the story, I would go present tense, because it's so much more suspenseful. Present tense gives more of a sense of urgency and immediacy. Certain stories work better with present tense, mainly action, thrillers, suspense, and the like. Present tense causes the reader (and the character) to feel as if something is happening right before their eyes. If you truly want the reader to feel what the character feels as it's happening, present tense could be the better choice. It can work wonderfully if you're building a world in the present. Be mindful however, if you have a historical or fastasy-esque setting, and you want to bring the reader presently into the past!

All in all, both past and present have their pros and cons, and whichever works best for you is the way to go, but don't be afraid to experiment with tenses. You never know which might work best!

Which tense do you prefer and why?

Happy writing.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Aspire to Inspire: How Do You Measure Success?

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ~ Maya Angelou 

I love this quote for so many reasons, but for this post, I love it because it captures the magic of a great book. Books have the ability to change lives. They lead us from the normal and mundane to a world filled with magic and mythology. They remind us what it was like to be teenager again. Books take us to faraway lands we would never see without them. They're our escape.

Think back to a year ago. Can you remember the best-selling books of 2011? Can you list the top ten best-selling authors? Do you know which YA novel held the New York Times #1 spot the longest? 


Now, think back to a year ago ... ten years ago ... even twenty. What books were your favorite? Which authors shaped your imagination, encouraging you to go beyond yourself and your reality to explore the unknown? That's a little easier to answer, I'd say.

A good book, in my opinion, isn't the one that sells the most copies. It isn't the one people talk about most or that gets made into a movie. A good book to me is one that I read, and it stays with me forever! Nothing changes you like a story. I strongly believe the things I read growing up shaped me into the person and author I am today. 

You have to tell the story that's inside you, not the one you think the world wants to hear. No one can write YOU like YOU. So, when you're feeling low about sales, ratings, or that one persnickety warthog who left a bad review, just remember this: Your story has touched someone and meant more to them than you may ever know. Don't measure success by a standard. Measure it by the life you influence.

A few of my all-time favorite books are ones many people may not know, but I'm eternally grateful to the authors who shared their imagination with the world. It's a better place because of you! You don't know how many lives you've inspired.

Here are a few of my inspirations: 

Mrs Duck's Lovely Day
by Vivienne Blake -- This book taught me so much as a kid. In the story, Mrs. Duck travels around, trying to find that one, perfect place. It was in this story that I got to see the ocean for the first time through Mrs. Duck's eye. That's something a kid never forgets!

Goosebumps series
by R.L Stine -- Anyone who lived through the 90's as a teen can relate to this. R.L Stine's paranormal world-building and knack for setting the scene in these MG books is great! The kids in the story are so relatable. I always imagined myself creeping up that dark staircase or wandering through the misty cemetery. I love these books to this day!

Song of Fire by Joseph Bentz -- This is a book different than the rest. I can't remember every detail about it. I don't recall the main character's name or details about his life. But I have a vivid recollection of the way it made me feel! At 13, this was the first real novel I ever read. It was the story that made me want to create worlds of my own. After reading Song of Fire, I started writing Haven. A special thanks to Joseph Bentz.

Kailmeyra Chronicles
by Elizabeth Isaacs -- The first book that ever made me cry was The Light of Asteria. There's something about Elizabeth Isaacs' writing that touches your emotions like no other. Her writing is so deep and interwoven with meaning and symbolism. She's an author with the ability to shape your life, to cause you to stop and really question yourself.

What novels shaped your life? 

Happy writing!