An unselfish wish made on the horn of a unicorn will come true. Our wish? To support the writing community by giving constructive tips and criticism through submissions. Check out the submissions tab for more information. We can survive the crucible of fire together.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Critique My (Our) Blog Blogfest

Oops, I was a day early.
As mentioned yesterday, Teralyn is hosting a blogfest where bloggers ask for help to improve their blogs. Click on her name to find Mr. Linky and the other blogs.

We are always striving to improve ourselves, our writing, and our blog here at Unicorn Bell. So, we signed up. This is your chance to help us out by answering the following questions in the comments section:

  • Appearance: Does it appeal to you? Is it too busy, or too plain?
  • Layout: Is it difficult to navigate? Is it cluttered, or sparse?
  • Frequency: Does the blogger post too often? Not often enough?
  • Content: Are the posts interesting? Unique? Are they focused, or all over the place?
  • Quality: Are the individual posts too long, too short, too sloppy, or too generic?
Feel free to leave any other comments that you think will help us improve our blog and help us serve you better.

Tomorrow we will announce the winner of our January Commenter's Award and the copy of Substitute Me.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Blogfests?

If you've been around the "bloggersphere" for any amount of time, you've probably heard of blogfests.  

What do you think about them?

  • They can be a great place to find inspiration.
  • They can help you write something outside of your comfort zone.
  • They can fill up your time so that you don't get any writing done on your projects.
  • They can help you find new bloggers that you click with and become great friends. Maybe even critique partners.
  • They can bring new followers to your blog.
  • Your entire day can disappear while you are reading other entries.

As you can see, I mostly like blogfests. They won't get me published, but they are a lot of fun. Here are three blogfests I'm participating in during February:

That's Y Amore Blogfest hosted by Oasis for YA on February 11th. Post 250 romantic, swoon-worthy words from your YA WIP.
One participant will win a swoon-worth book from the book depository.


 



Hook, Line & Sinker Blogfest hosted by Justin W. Parente on February 13th. Post the first 500-1000 words of a WIP and see if others would read on.
The suggested guidelines they used to judge entries last time was the following:
  • Does the character have a personality I can fall into easily? This includes any dialogue exchanged.
  • Is the world around them set up to compliment the character as they're introduced?
  • Are there secondary characters to assist with the hook?
  • Lastly, would I read more?
 
It's Getting Hot in Here bloghop hosted by Cassie Mae. Post your steamy kiss scene on Valentine's Day.
2 lucky kiss stories will receive a 14 page edit from the blog hosts. 






That's three in one week! I'm sure there are tons of others that I've missed.

Add ins from comments:
Loralie Hall at http://blog.apathyshero.com/ is hosting a Beta Blogfest in Feb, kind of a 'show me yours and I'll show you mine' kind of event.








Critique my Blog hosted by Teralyn--TOMORROW, Feb 1st. Have people tell you how your blog is stacking up. I just joined this one last minute. Think I'll add Unicorn Bell too!









Qs4U:
  1. Do you participate in blogfests? Why or why not?
  2. Would you like us to host a blogfest with voting and prizes?
  3. What kind of blogfest is your favorite (kissing, fighting, dialogue, show vs. tell, photo inspired, etc)?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday’s Fantastic Followers

When considering topics to post, writing tips always yell and wave their misshapen arms for my attention.

I mulled over highlighting misused words:

Your vs You’re
Which vs That
Lay vs Lie
Their vs There

But I figured, Eh, not today. I believe it is high time our followers were acknowledged.

Hence:

Angela Brown. The title of her wip, Among Dragons and Men, begs reading, doesn’t it?

1000th Monkey. Her bio rocks. “I like to write dark characters in dark settings in dark worlds doing, uhm, uh…dark things.”  

Brooke R. Busse. First lines *gasp* of Thinking of You: “Rebbsie Taylor is one of the most dangerous fugitives is the world. She’s the only one who knows about the Waves. Because she is one.”  

Def Con. “I’m a humanoid…or a robot who has gained sentience.”  Hm. Interesting. I must pursue this blogging robot/humanoid further.

Michael Offutt (whose title changes without notice). He has an outstanding blog touting not only venues I am passionate about (fantasy) but also super posts. Check out the one he has today.

Carol Riggs, a new follower. She is one classy lady and I am honored to have her.


I apologize to the Many who contributed but remain unnamed. Space and the need for coffee must cut this post short. As one of four moderators on Unicorn Bell, I want you to know that we appreciate your patronage and comments. With your help, we will continue this journey, learning, educating, and expanding.

The end of the ride is the destination called Published Author. But along the way, the scenery is FanFreakinTastic!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Accomplishing the *Near* Impossible.

"There is no mistaking the dismay on the face of a writer who has just heard that his brainchild is a deformed idiot" – L. Sprague de Camp

To me, that quote defines everything I feel about a query. Just thinking about it makes me cuss. It’s a good thing help is available. Otherwise, my ‘deformed idiot’ would sink like a stone.
Resources:

Falling Leaflets. Check out the sidebar.

Carolyn Jewel.

Matthew MacNish.

This month, Vickie Motter, an agent with Andrea Hurst Literary, is posting great advice on queries, what they are, what they should and should not contain.

It still comes down to a lot of angst, blood, and weeks and weeks of chocolate.
This is where your critique partners come into the mix. Do not think you can do this on your own. I cannot stress that enough. Writers need that ‘fresh’ eye to critique their words.

Do you have a query to trade or crit?


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hyperbole

Exaggeration is not a bad thing.
I think of hyperbole as a scene from the 1931 movie version of Frankenstein.

“Look! It’s moving. It’s alive. It’s alive…It’s alive, it’s moving, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive. IT’S ALIVE!”


Yeah. Exactly what I said after discovering fleas in my house. But that’s another story.

Hyperbole is a method of breathing life into a scene. It gives the manuscript a color and scent that nails the reader to the scene.

Behold the difference.

Tomato sauce, low salt: “The faded yellow house was at the end of a long, curvy drive.”

Salsa, extra spicy: “The faded yellow house sat at the end of the curvy drive with all the narrow-eyed impatience of a sour old man.”

Boiled egg: “In the distance, two mountains rose above the clouds.”

Eggs Florentine: “In the distance, the two mountains rose above the clouds like a prone Dolly Parton.”

Ham sandwich: “The huge SUV turned the corner and came toward them.”

Honey-glazed ham roast w/pecans: “An SUV turned the corner and barreled toward them looking like a gray version of Yosemite’s El Capitan.”

Use exaggeration to highlight a point. Get wild on occasion and give your readers a visual.

Got an over-the-top example to show us?








Tuesday, January 24, 2012

#1 A Shining Moment


Title: Sendek The Magic Wakes
Genre: Science Fantasy

She squeezed his hand and looked him in the eyes. “It wasn’t the tram you know, and I kissed you back.”

“What?” Landry’s eyes widened a bit at the change in conversation.

Talia chewed on her bottom lip for a moment. “The kiss. You shouldn’t apologize. Unless you regret it?”

“The only thing I regret is the timing. Emotions are high, and it could have been our way of dealing with survivor's guilt.”

“Are you trying to convince me or yourself?”

“I don’t know. Both? This is just out of nowhere. A week ago we couldn’t stand to be in the same room together.”

“That’s true.”Talia pulled her hands from his and gathered their plates. She turned away and walked to the sink. “You’re right of course, it probably was the tram.”

Landry jumped up and followed, reaching for her arm. “Wait.”

She jerked her arm out of his grasp and set the dishes in the sink before turning to glare at him. “What? Are you going to find some other way to deny the attraction between us? Don’t forget that I’ve heard your thoughts.”

Monday, January 23, 2012

Those Shining Moments

How about something different this week in the way of submissions.

Think of this as a chance to strut your stuff.

Is there a paragraph, a scene, or a page of which you are especially proud? Maybe it just came together well or nails the character traits. Makes you shed a tear.

Send a submission for bragging rights.

Here is mine:

He shrugged when she turned. “It was twelve years ago. Time heals all wounds—well you know the saying. Anyway, they never found his body and he died there. End of story.”


Her hand tightened as he started to brush past her again. He looked down at her with veiled eyes. Then he broke free and strode to the house through the bushes on the edge of the property.

“You’re not the only one broken.” His words were very low, nearly inaudible.


Send a scene or page to unicornbellsubmissions@gmail.com and I’ll post it.

This is your chance to shine.


Friday, January 20, 2012

submission #5

Title: Unnamed
Genre: Space Opera


His ship landed in the early morning hours. Eleena watched the lights and smoke from her window until the air cleared. Things grew calm and eerily silent. The lunch hour came and went, but no one brought any news to her. She slumped against the window casing and waited.
A commotion below caused her heart rate to quicken. The large metal gates that enclosed the courtyard opened to let the soldiers strut in. People rushed to their doors to watch and the air filled with cheers. The black and red leather armor had been cleaned until it shone in the afternoon light. Each man carried his helmet and waved to the crowd. Eleena gripped the velvet curtain for ten minutes of parading men, but the warrior king was still unaccounted for.  Another ten minutes passed before he walked through the archway—conqueror of worlds, destroyer of lives, and her husband.
The years of fear and hate evaporated in the wake of relief at seeing him whole and unharmed. The unwelcome truth glared at her in the form of weak knees and shaking hands. His absence had taught her what her true feelings really were. She longed for him to reach out to her, touch her, hold her. She had fallen in love with the enemy.

I can't quite pinpoint why but this passage feels very passive to me, even though it isn't really. After reading it a few times I think what I want is to know more about this backstory the author has condensed into a few paragraphs. Because it sounds intriguing. How did Eleena come to be the wife of the enemy? What was her life before she married? And who the heck is this destroyer dude? THAT sounds as interesting as Eleena's present life.

Now, what does everyone else thing about this excerpt? Care to help the author out? 

sumission #4

Title: The Sleeper
Genre: Sci fi flash fiction
Today is the first day of instruction for the genetically chosen six year old boys on the starship Destiny. Fourteen years until Earth flyby.

   Tow-headed Gareth dragged his feet, but he as he entered the Sony Mesmerizing room with the rest of his classmates. The high black bulkhead that formed the ceiling curved above him.(< what about the black bulkhead?) He’d heard about this room. It would show him what Earth looked like before the Great War. He trembled as the dorm chaperone told them to sit.
   Gareth blinked and he was sitting on a sloped surface covered with a soft green covering. All around him boys cried out, but Gareth remained silent. He moved his hands through the pointy spears and marveled at how they bent beneath his weight. A slight puff of air moved his hair and an orange glow appeared above him. He could feel his face warm as he looked up. The fiery orb hurt his eyes and he turned away only to become fascinated with the changing ceiling. The black gave way to a new color that he didn’t have a name for. It was pleasant to look at though.
    An automated voice sounded all around the boys, “This is the planet Earth. Below you is what we call grass. Above you is the sky filled with the light of Sol. You will learn more about these things in the future.”
Gareth lay down in the soft grass and watched a new thing in the sky. White and fluffy, it drifted slowly toward him.
   “Today is Princess Amelia’s birthday. You will learn her story.” 

Not much to crit here, imho. Interesting beginning! What do you guys think? And hey, don't be afraid to comment. We love comments around here.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

submission #2 & 3

#2
   Our village was small, only eleven families, (is the fact that the village is small important? Even if it is, I wonder if there might be a better place for this information since it doesn't seem to have much to do with this scene - imho.) so ten men hopped the fence to the corral. I followed, the brand held high over my head as I moved through the nervous herd, but I had erased enough of my scent that they were fooled. (This does not necessarily follow the preceding. How about a period after herd and then: Luckily I had erased enough of my scent to fool the herd into complacency.) With my body and free arm, I shoved flanks and elbowed ribs, pressing my way through. I searched for my father’s brand, the shape of a man’s hand, on each doe. When I found the first, she had two fawns cowering under her legs. Twins. One still with a fully white winter coat, the other with a few spots of dark showing through.

   Nothing quite prepares you for the scream.

   With my hip, I held one captive against its mother’s side as I branded the other fawn. The moment the hot stone burned through the thick, winter-coat and touched skin, the fawn shrieked and bolted. Instantly, the surrounding deer lunged and shoved, but I swung the brand over my head, twisted, and brought it down on the haunch of the second fawn. The second scream is was as bad as the first.

   The doe pushed after her two babies as they darted through the restless herd. Near the edge, other men and boys grabbed the limping fawns by the scruff of their necks, cracked the gate, and allowed the twins and their mother escape the corral. As their white coats blended into the snowy forest and disappeared, I whispered a quick prayer to Ovis, god of the forest, to protect them. Tomorrow night I would leave an offering of deer tendon for him at the forest shrine.

Aside from single comment above, this is a good description of the branding event and the reference to Ovis tells us that this is a different world than the one we know. I'm also curious about why the doe and her fawns were released. However I also wonder whether it would be so easy for a single person to hold a struggling fawn in order to brand it. I only say this because I work at a vet and it can sometimes take three people to hold an uncooperative dog for a nail trim and sometimes even then we can't do it.


#3
From MINGLED, YA paranomal dystopian. 

Lead in: Macie just snuck (yeah, spell check doesn't like this word but my old American Heritage dictionary says it's a word so poo on spell check) out the house and met up with Thane, her best friend and crush. The author would like to know if this kissing scene works - or not.

   “You bleed for the undead now, but that can change when you graduate.  I can take care of you.  In a way, I always wanted to, ever since I met you.  We’re not kids anymore.  I dared you to come tonight because you need to know how I really feel about you.  Maybe see how you feel…”

   I finally took a breath.  Words found their way out unfiltered, “I…you…me…this…how…”

   He cut me off with a kiss.  Just a light brush of his soft lips against mine.  It was unexpected, unbelievable and beautiful.  By some instinct, I closed my eyes and my lips parted, allowing him to further the kiss into something more passionate.  At least I hoped it was passion.  It felt like fire brewing deep within my belly, flaming up to my heart and spreading wild and fierce to every part of me.  My fingertips tingled, my
breaths, shallow for the rare second our lips parted.  His hand left my chin.  His long arms wrapped around my waist, pulling our bodies closer together.  I’d spent many nights dreaming of what this moment would be like.  None of those fantasies prepared me for the heat, the blaze threatening to consume me from the inside out.


Ordinarily the more inner dialogue the better, but for some reason, here I want less. I just want to know how this kiss feels because let's face it, we don't think too much when we kissing, there is no thought - or very little. A kiss is a sensation and the only time it gets analyzed is after it's over. Here's how I'd change this:

“You bleed for the undead now, but that can (can or will? Just asking) change when you graduate.  I can take care of you.  In a way, I always wanted to, ever since I met you.  We’re not kids anymore.  I dared you to come tonight because you need to know how I really feel about you.  Maybe see how you feel…” His speech here feels a little awkward and stilted, especially in light of the fact he's about to kiss her but it also might make more sense if I'd read what came before.

   I finally took a breath.  Words found their way out unfiltered, “I…you…me…this…how…”

   His kiss silenced my words. Just a light brush of his soft lips against mine. I closed my eyes and my lips parted, wanting more. It felt like fire brewing deep within my belly, flaming up to my heart and spreading wild and fierce to every part of me.  My fingertips tingled, my breath came shallow, and when he pulled me closer I leaned in, wanting to be consumed by that blaze.

That's not perfect either - far from it - but you get the idea. 

Now, what about the rest of you? What do you think would make this kiss blaze a little hotter?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Submission #1

From MINGLED, YA paranomal dystopian.  

Chapter One

   I wanted to be knee deep in Mr. McGrubb’s Advanced Soil Dynamics class.  Maybe detention.  Anywhere else, except where I was. I like this beginning. Mr. McGrubb's Advanced Soil Dynamics class sounds like an absolute bore and yet, our narrator wishes he/she were there.
   I let out a sigh, tucking loose strands of hair behind my ear.  My fingertips slipped over the soft Collective Communications tag looped behind my ear.  The gelatinous (ick) material was thin as a whisper and molded flush to my ear, hardly noticeable. (molded to my ear or flush to my ear would be better, I think, and I don't think you need hardly noticeable since you've already stated that it's thin as a whisper - imho)  A tiny microchip and fiber optic wiring made it possible to open a private comms with any tagged person within a ten mile radius.  Mine was the cheap kind, given to the less fortunate.  More advanced models included an extension (does that extend the range?) and a holographic eye visor that curved with the eye, alloweding the user to view the person they spoke to.  With my resident advisor (should be adviser) shrilling (does this mean she's yakking annoyingly or screaming?) away, I was thankful I couldn’t see her.   She went on about how excited I should be to finally give blood for the Collective, even if I was three years later than most girls.  That last part wasn’t necessary, but I expected no less from Whitley (the adviser, I assume?).  She frothed at the mouth that we were in a Special year, that I could be chosen, though she’d be a better choice. (There's a lot of world building stuff going on here that doesn't quite make sense yet so I wonder if going a little slower might help? Or maybe throw in some explanations.) I powered down my CCT, my ear ringing from her screeching during our private comms.  I didn’t need a lecture any more than I wanted to hand my blood over to feed some undead citizen.  And the last thing I wanted was a chance to be a Special.

The last two lines are kick-ass. This is what makes me want to read more, find out what it means to be Special. But prior to this there's a lot of stuff - description - about hardware and and I wonder if it's all necessary or if some of it can be worked in a little later or more gradually so that this new world unfolds a little more slowly. I might even actually show what Whitley is saying because dialogue here could do a couple of things: #1 is show how annoying Whitley is and why our narrator doesn't like her, #2 is give information (which is always more interesting through dialogue rather than telling), and #3 is I think those last two lines will be even more kick-ass after the mostly one way conversation. 

But that's just my opinion. What do you guys think? What would make this better? 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Description

I don't know about you but I wrestle with how much description to use in a given passage. I want my readers to see what I'm trying to describe and in order to do that I have to use just the right amount of words in the right way. Too much and my readers will skip right over my words. To little and my tale will be vague and insubstantial. The trick is figuring out how much is just right, using words to their maximum advantage, and placement.
 
Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to send me 250 words or so of description you'd like critiqued. Maybe it's a description of your main character. Maybe it's a description of a fight. Or maybe it's the landscape your characters are in. Whatever it is I'd like to read it. Just let me know whether you want to be anonymous or not and send your submissions to: unicornbellsubmissions@gmail.com

And remember, if you don't send me anything I'll have to subject you to something of mine and I'd really rather read something of yours. Really.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Good News/Bad News

I'll give you the bad first, get it over with, then we'll end on a positive note.

Sadly, Tara Tyler has decided to give up Unicorn Bell. We wish it weren't so but we understand  that sometimes life gets in the way of things. Hopefully things will turn around for Tara and maybe she'll come back to do a guest post now and again. You can still find her at her home blog.

Now for the good news. We found someone cool to step in and we are super happy that Jeffrey, who runs Jeffrey Beesler's World of the Scribe,  has agreed to be our fourth moderator. I asked Jeffrey if he would mind doing a mini interview and he graciously agreed. He's the one on the right.*



1. What first made you think you could write?
People around me always saw that I had an aptitude for writing. I just had to get myself to the proper attitude to follow after it.


2. Do you favor a particular genre? Why?
Speculative (aka sci fi, fantasy, horror) because these push the limits of reality and imagination to create something new and beautiful.


3. What are you working on now?
I'm working on the final revision of a novel, Spell of Entrapment, that I hope to start submitting to publishers and agents by February 1st.


4. What's the last book you read?
In the middle of reading Sean Sweeney's Model Agent. I can't think of the last book that I completely finished reading right now.


5. Care to share anything else? An interesting fact or hitherto unknown fact about yourself?
I'm a guy who likes to watch soap operas. I'm not afraid to admit it. And the fact that soap operas are being cancelled for reality TV really sickens me. I want my entertainment, by golly!


Jeffrey will be starting in February. Now tell me that isn't cool.

* The guy on the left is Draven Ames, whose blog is Another Slightly Scary Story.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Links for Friday

I'm batting zero today for useful things to share with you out of my head, so instead, here are some great links.

I loved Misty Waters post this week titled Cup 'o Self-Doubt, Anyone?

Query Tracker had a very informative post on the business side of being a writer dealing with contract terms and so forth. Check it out HERE.

Those who follow my personal blog have learned that I have a writer crush on Janice Hardy and her blog. She posted a great one recently on When Telling is Better than Showing.

For those of you who blog and wonder how to get more followers, check out Angela Ackerman's post Building a Following: 5 Tips that Work.

Finally, a selfish plug or plea for help. I'm trying to get my packet ready to enter the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award again and could use your help tightening my pitch. Please take a moment to read and comment on it HERE.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Almost Paradise

Ok so here's the query for that opening paragraph you all read on Monday. I've gotten a lot of interest but no takers. Any suggestions are sure to help.

 
Dear Agent:


Katherine Kennedy has it all; she’s beautiful, she’s wealthy, and she’s engaged to the perfect man. There’s just one problem. She can’t marry him. Worse yet, she can’t say why. All she knows is there is suddenly nothing she wants.

Jack McCabe has little in the way of possessions, less in the way of wealth, no where to go and no one to go anywhere with. All he has is a vague sense of discontent, a restlessness that will not abate.

Both are drawn to Cristobel Island and Louis Cade, a man who offers them the unimaginable, something neither can quite believe until they actually find themselves over 100 years in the past, 1881 to be exact.

For Jack McCabe it’s the adventure he always dreamed of – until he meets a beautiful but deadly train robber. Katherine can't believe an ignorant bounty hunter has mistaken her for a criminal – until she sees the picture, which looks exactly like her. Neither of them can imagine how the past has a way of catching up with the present.

Set in the old west, this is a tale of mistaken identity, romance, and murder.

Almost Paradise is complete at 95,000 words. I have a BA in History and I’ve written several other books, including a YA witchy Regency Romance. I would happy to send as much as you would care to read. 


Thank you for your time,

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Crit again. If you please

Same as yesterday with two additional questions.
  • How old is this person?
  • Male or female?
  • Are you interested in this character?  
  • Does this work as an opening?
  • What genre do you think it is?

Thank you for your comments.

Chapter One
The Wizard

I had a good forty winks going when the teacher’s drone filtered into my brain. After he said the word ‘wizard’, I sat up and took notice. He saw me and scrunched his face into a sour-lemon grimace. I didn’t bother raising my hand.

“You said magicians use fake crap to do their tricks, make elephants disappear, whatever. But you don’t know that.”

“Cord.” His voice held a warning. But like I cared.

I flipped a negligent hand at the world. “You can’t explain all of it, not without proof.”

“Show me proof it exists, then.”

“Man, that’s like saying prove your innocence.”

The teacher narrowed his eyes as if numbering my days on earth. Someone behind me snickered.

“Cord, the science is incontrovertible,” the teacher said from between clenched teeth. “The physics alone make it impossible—”


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

crit this - please

Specifically, are you interested in this character? Would you read more? Does this work as an opening? And lastly, what genre do you think it is? Thank you in advance for you comments :)


Chapter One – Jack

Jack was twelve when his father died. He was sitting at the top of the stairs when the news came, and he heard the words “I’m sorry.” He didn’t need to hear any more. He knew what those words meant. His best friend Tommy Sheehan had told him all about it. And he knew their lives would soon change. Tommy Sheehan had told him that, too. Tommy used to live in a nice house with nice things his mother always fussed over. After his dad had died things had changed – for the worse. But Jack figured things really couldn’t get any worse for them. They didn’t live in a nice house and they hadn’t had much in the way of anything new in a long time. The pants he wore were already too short, the sneakers too small, and he couldn’t remember the last time he or his brothers had gotten something other than hand-me-downs to go back to school with. No, the way Jack figured, things could only get better.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Why

Over two years ago, I started blogging in order to connect with other people who were trying to do the same thing: get published. I wasn't very good at it to start and it took me a while to get followers, longer still to figure out how to connect. But I finally did and two of the people I met became my first critique partners and one of them invited me to be a moderator here at Unicorn Bell. Now you might ask why on earth would I want to do that when I already had my own blog and my own writing not to mention a full-time soul-sucking job? I'll tell you why. It's because I discovered that reading other people's work and having them read mine was making me a better writer. I was starting to use the active voice all on my own - without prompting. I was eliminating unnecessary words - sometimes seconds after typing them. And I was getting some pretty nice rejection letters, too, ones that said things like not now but please send something else, rather than the usual form rejection (and trust me, I've got plenty of those, too). And that's why I agreed to join Huntress and Charity here at Unicorn Bell. Because this is the sort of place I was looking for in the first place. A place to share my work with others, get feedback, and improve my craft.

So, if you're here for the same reason I am, I hope you'll send us something - anything you might like a little feedback on - just make it under 250 words or thereabouts, and we'll critique it, offer our suggestions on how to make it better, and hopefully you will, too. Because I have a feeling we're all here for the same reason :)

happy writing ~ marcy

ps send submissions to unicornbellsubmissions@gmail.com

Friday, January 6, 2012

At Your command

Thank you to those who have left a comment on the survey. There are already some great ideas that we can implement this year.

However, there are a lot of you keeping silent. I promise it only takes a moment. Tell us what you need from us.

Just click Here.

We will be back to our normal posting schedule next week. Thanks!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Help Us, Help You

You have your goals.
You have a tool box.
And you have us.
The four women of Unicorn Bell.
Now it's time for you to help us help you.

I just love that clip!

There are over 100 of you out there following us.
What do you need/want/hope to see on this blog that will help you reach your goals this year?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Writer's Toolbox

Now that we've thought about our goals, how are we going to reach them? Every writer needs a tool box at their disposal. Something they can reach into any time they need inspiration.
There are so many wonderful websites that can help improve your writing skills. Use them, learn from them.

Here are two of my favorite writing blogs.
Janice Hardy--her site is a treasure trove of insights. Every Saturday she has a Real Life Diagnostics post. I learn so much just by reading what she says about other peoples work.(I believe she made the Top 20 Blogs for Writers last year. She'll make the Top 10 this year for sure.)

KM Weiland's Wordplay blog was named among the Top 10 Blogs for Writers! I love how most of her posts are vlogs but she includes the manuscript for the video too. It's easy to access and she always has great ideas.


Other Great Resource Links:

Want to perfect that query? Just read the 200+ that Janet Reid has commented on over at Query Shark.

QueryTracker.net blog is invaluable. Keep connected with the ever changing world of agents and what you can do to get their attention--in a good way.

Write or Die, a great way to shut off the inner editor and just write.

Writing Prompts—found on http://writingfix.com/index.htm where they have over 500 prompts!

Seventh Sanctum is a name generator for almost everything.

TV Tropes is a wiki about the tricks of the trade for writing fiction.

Technovelgy is the site where science meets fiction. As in real life science you can use (or just keep straight) in your novel.

http://www.suite101.com/writingandpublishing/ Writing tips and techniques for emerging and established writers.

Squidoo--How to write a fantasy novel is a step by step guide to writing your first fantasy novel--world building etc.

HowToWriteNovel30Days

http://www.oneword.com/ will give you a word and you write about it for 60 seconds.

absolutewrite.com and Forums Excellent place to research agents, publishers and get questions answered about the writing world.

The Bookshelf Muse has an emotions thesaurus to help you show not tell. There is also a setting, weather and other thesauruses to get your brain working again.
http://www.365tomorrows.com/ has a new 600 word speculative fiction story each day.

American Night Writers Association blog about Life, the Universe, and their place in the World of Writing and Publishing.

Find music to fit the mood of your book at Pandora.

Create soundtracks for your novels at Grooveshark.

Vision for Writers a quarterly ezine about writing.

And just for fun, here's a workshop post on creating book trailers from Vision for Writers.

Who have I left out? Please share linkage in the comments.  

Updates and Additions:
Jodi Hedlund! I find myself starring her posts in google reader ALL THE TIME. 
Predators and Editors
The Practice Room  
The Creative Penn
Thesaurus.com
Here is the list of winners for the Top 10 Blogs for Writers 2011/2012

Monday, January 2, 2012

Welcome to 2012!

It's a new year, full of possibilities. Do you make resolutions? Or do you just set goals that you can re-evaluate over the course of the year?

Whatever you do, isn't it wonderful to know that this year is full of blank pages waiting for you to fill it with words and experiences?

All of us at Unicorn Bell are grateful for our followers. Especially those of you who have been brave enough to share your writing and/or comment on other's writing. Without you, this would be a failed project. 2011 was a great start to reaching our goals on this blog and in our personal writing careers. 

This week, I want to dedicate some time to setting goals. Have you heard of SMART goals?

S--Specific
M--Measurable
A--Actionable--meaning you can actually do something to achieve it.
R--Realistic
T--Time bound--long or short, you have to set some deadlines

So, Getting Published in 2012 may not be a SMART goal unless you plan to self-publish because there are elements you can not control.

My main goal for 2012 is as follows:
Learn to enjoy my writing time again. AKA remember why I started writing in the first place. 

This isn't the best SMART goal example because its sort of vague, but this is what I've lost and I want to get it back. So, here we go.

Specific--Enjoy my writing time.
Measure by how my emotional state improves. Also measured in the time I am allotting myself each day. My dedicated writing time will be from 12:30-2:30 every weekday. During this time I will turn off the phone, the internet, and set myself down to write. I will write whatever I feel like writing on that day. Meaning for the first time ever I'm allowing myself to work on multiple projects at once.
Actionable--I can sit and do this. My family will know when my "work" time is and get used to the fact that I am not to be bothered during that time. I will spend the entire morning doing things with my son (who is still at home) so he doesn't feel neglected in any way. He is old enough to understand work time.
Realistic--Two hours a day is a good chunk of time, but not so much that my home life will suffer. Most of the kids are at school, hubby is working, and as mentioned above the last child will get his time first.
Time bound--Eight months and then I can re-evaluate. At that time the last kid will start school *yay*.

What is/are your main writing goals for this year?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

December Winner

And the winner of Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly is:

1000th Monkey

Best Wishes to all for a Happy and Prosperous New Year.