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, April 30, 2013

MOM DROPS THE ULTIMATUM...(part two)

Today we have the next installment of Chapter One - MOM DROPS THE ULTIMATUM...

     It started on a Monday. The End of My Life. Ah, now I'm interested.
     See, I hate doing Nothing. But I do it anyway. Because in the end, doing Nothing seems just a bit better than doing Something. Something is too ambiguous. How am I supposed to know what’s going to happen if I do Something? At least, if I do Nothing, I know for a fact that Nothing is going to happen. Love the logic - makes perfect sense to me!
     So here (the word here implies present tense; I'd change it to 'there I was.') I was, doing Nothing, AKA shopping. It was the day before Mother’s Day, and because my mom liked surprises just as much as I did, she wanted to pick out her present with me. 
     “Look, Bernie,” she said, holding up a shirt. “Doesn’t this bring out my eyes?”
     My mom was still a child at heart. I used to think that grownup stopped caring about those kind of things, but she still did.
     “What doesn’t?” My mom had these great big blue eyes that are always smiling. This would be a good place to mention what color eyes our narrator has. Is she jealous of her mom's eyes?
     “Why don’t you try it on?” I suggested.
     “Wait.” She disappeared and reappeared with the same blue shirt. “We should be matching! Here, try on yours, too.”
     I groaned and took it. Ew. It was a bright, floral blouse in that all-the-rage see-through style—chiffon they called it. Totally not my thing. I preferred natural tones. But to make her happy, I headed over to the fitting rooms.
     I guess I forgot to do the whole Peek-Under-For-Feet thing because I really just wanted to get trying the thing on over with. At this point in time, I didn’t have a healthy relationship with mirrors (still don’t now). My mom didn’t know that of course. Part of strength is keeping certain issues to yourself. Else, this world would be a bit spew-pot of everyone’s problems.
     “Just in and out,” I muttered to myself, stepping over piles of clothes on the ground. The first door I came to pushed over easily. I started to go in.
     Well, hello naked person.


Okay, admittedly I cut this off where I did to entice interest in tomorrow's post, but still, you do want to read on don't you? I know I do. First off I want to know who naked person is and what's going to happen. Second I'm curious about what our narrator looks like and maybe the mirror in the dressing room will show me. I know she has an eating disorder but does that mean she's overweight? Is shopping torture like it is for some overweight people? Is she underweight? Neither? And I want to know more about her relationship with mirrors. Does she avoid looking in them altogether? Even before she steps into the dressing room there's an opportunity to show how she feels about herself, what her body image is, and for women and girls, regardless of weight, this is an issue we can all relate to.

Now, what do you guys think of this next installment? Any suggestions? Comments? Do tell :)

Monday, April 29, 2013

CHAPTER 1- MOM DROPS THE ULTIMATUM (part one)


Yay! We have a submission! This first chapter is brought to you by Joan and here is part one:

      I’m not going to talk about my binge eating disorder, because it’s disgusting. Whoever doesn’t think eating a dozen donuts, five hamburgers, a family size bag of chips, and a liter of coke within two hours isn’t disgusting…omg; that DOES sound disgusting! I feel full just thinking about it.
     Congratulations. Text me. I love collecting weirdos.
     It’s probably because of the good old rule, (I might use a colon here instead of a comma) that perfectly healthy people can never fully put themselves in the shoes of someone with an eating disorder. The rule is true, believe me. Which has led me to believe that you can never understand what is feels like to have cancer unless you have cancer, to mourn over the death of a parent if you don’t have a dead parent, etc. (This is a good point) Meaning that the “put yourself into another’s shoes” is complete bullshit. Because you can’t until you are that other person. There’s no pretending.
     I just don’t want to talk about it too much because no one likes to hear disgusting things.

 First off I'm going to assume this is YA because of the chapter title and base my comments on that assumption. I also hope that you, dear readers, will chime in and let Joan know what you think of this opening. My feeling is that while I'm not completely hooked - mainly because neither eating disorders nor people with them interest me greatly - I do think the narrator has a great voice. It's a little snarky ("Congratulations. Text me. I love collecting weirdos.") but not too much ("Meaning that the “put yourself into another’s shoes” is complete bullshit. Because you can’t until you are that other person. There’s no pretending.").  
Now, what do you think? 
And please come back tomorrow for part two of this first chapter!


   

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Your first chapter here

Yep, you heard me right. You could see your first chapter here at UB, critted by moi and everyone else who pops in this week. All you have to do is send it to me at unicornbellsubmissions@gmail.com. I will take the first first chapter I get and over the course of the week I will critique it for character, pacing, grammar, and flow - among other things. Hopefully our followers will chime in with their opinions as well which will give one lucky person a lot of feedback on that all-important first chapter. Because if an agent doesn't like your first chapter, she probably isn't going read any further.

Interested?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Learn to Laugh About It

The last bit of advice I have for this week is learn to laugh about your own writing mistakes. 

I forgot how valuable a gift this is until I was sitting at writer's group last night. Since moving to AR I've found the best writing group ever. We have so much fun together while becoming better writers.

Last night we laughed so hard we couldn't breathe. Why? One writer read some of her first draft stuff for us. You see, that's what we do. We bring 6-10 pages of our WIPs to read out loud to the group and then everyone weighs in with their thoughts. We all write different genres and we are all in different places in the process. It makes for a great time.

So, this lovely writer calls herself a "beginner" but she writes with a lot of humor. Add phrases like "trying to calm my bodies annoying reactions" along with some other phrases that hit all of us as funny at 9 PM.

Ex: "resigned to the new boy debriefing"--which was NOT what it sounds like. OMGosh we were crying we laughed so hard.

We all write funny things when we are getting our stories out of our heads and onto the page. At that point you're not supposed to be self editing anyway. However, sometimes we miss things in the subsequent revisions. Instead of getting embarrassed and upset by it, just laugh it off.

Trust me, its a lot more fun that way.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Objective vs. Subjective

Here's a little video for you to clarify the difference between objective and subjective. The monotone narrator is slightly sleep inducing, but if you listen to what she's saying it's fascinating. My favorite line is "a cougar clawing at your brain."



So, placement of quotation marks, commas, verb tense matching and parts of speech are all objective things. There are rules that define them.

The way a writer arranges words on the page are subjective simply because our personal experiences and perceptions affect how we receive them.

Got it?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Best Way to Look at Critiques

I'm sure you're wondering what yesterday's post was all about. What does subjectiveness have to do with weekly meetings and upcoming events at UB?

Well, I had hoped to get enough comments to show that given a high enough sampling there would be a fairly even split in opinion. (how do you like all those wishy washy words in that sentence?) However, things don't often work out how we plan. ;)

Anyway, last weekend we started discussing some fun contests and events for you and I wanted to remind you that even our judging is subjective. We try to look at things like content, flow, mechanics, verb usage, etc, however we are human. Each of us has our favorite styles and genres and it affects how we see things. We can't help it.

What does this mean for you?

Never give up because of an unfavorable comment or critique on your work.

Coming to UB:

  • In the next week or so we will be having a fun query contest with prizes. I'll let Carol fill you in on all the details, but keep your eyes open. 
  • Keep working on your novel revisions because we've already started planning QueryCon for this fall! I'm really excited about this one because last year Tara Tyler grabbed a book contract as a result. If you missed it last year, QueryCon is a three week intensive Query class/workshop/contest. We are already looking into agents and publishers we would like to invite to be judges. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Why is Reading and Writing So Subjective?

Each one of us is different. We like different things and it colors how we read and write. This also makes it hard to know how much detail and background tidbits we should add to our writing.

I personally like little snippets that give a glimpse into my characters past--the things that make them who they are at the time of the story. Let me share an example of what I mean.

Here are two snippets from my novel The Magic Wakes.

A

She finished the last signature and pushed the papers toward him. He paused before giving her the pass in his hand.

"I would love to take you to dinner, Miss Zaryn. Show you around Joharadin."

Talia's mouth dropped open for the second time that day. She looked him over, wondering if she could bear to give dating another shot. He looked to be about her height, brown eyed and plain in every way except his build. His muscles barely fit in his uniform, giving him a stiff pained look around the shoulders. Her mind drifted to her school days. Another boy, tall, built, and popular. He asked her out once too. On a dare. The memory still prickled.

"I'm sorry, I can't." She grabbed the pass, and bolted for the security gate.



She finished the last signature and pushed the papers toward him. He paused before giving her the pass in his hand.

"I would love to take you to dinner, Miss Zaryn. Show you around Joharadin."

"I'm sorry, I can't." She grabbed the pass, and bolted for the security gate.

Which one do you like better and why?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Don't Pay Any Attention to the Man Behind the Screen


Today I'm going to let you have a peek into what goes into all these posts on UB. Did you know that we meet every week to talk about this little blog and what we should be doing to help you?

Yep, we do. It may sound silly, but we really do want to help you reach your writing goals. Whatever they might be.

Here's the thing. We don't know what you need unless you tell us. Funny how that works.

So, today's reminder is this:

We have email! Write to us and tell us what you're struggling with, or what you want to learn more about. We will read your email and start writing posts about those things to help you out.

Want more contests?

More critiques?

Tell us!

unicornbellsubmissions@gmail.com

As the week goes on I'll share a few of our upcoming events with you. I hope you'll be as excited as we are!

Query Critique - INGENICIDE

As promised, I have a query critique for you! Thank you to my brave volunteer.

---

Dear Agent,

Analyzed. IDed. Mentored. That was Sibyl Kenschild at age five.

In the year 2089, education has been reinvented. Prodigies run rampant in every imaginable work field. Now sixteen, Sibyl has trained as a Space Manipulator to design rooms that evoke the deepest stirrings of human emotion. A strong beginning. It sounds like an interesting world. But when the Genocide reaches Virginia, it’ll take not a Space Manipulator, nor a genius, but a traitor to survive. I don't have enough information to understand this last sentence yet. Of course, I know what "genocide" means, but I don't know what it means in this context or why she has to be a traitor to survive. What is the goal of the "Genocide"? How does it conflict with Sibyl's goals? If it were the Holocaust, the goal of the Genocide would be to eradicate all the non-Aryans, and Sibyl would be Jewish so her life is in peril. That's the type of explanation I'd like here.

So when Sibyl strikes a bargain with the perpetrators of the Genocide, she is prepared to sacrifice her values to play their game. This concerns me somewhat because the character doesn't sound very heroic. A heroic character could potentially sacrifice their values and work for the bad guys, but they'd need a good, heroic reason. Of course, I'm not saying your character isn't heroic, they just may not be coming off that way in the query. Four Space Manipulators will have to create unparalleled rooms for the Normals’ headquarters. Only the best of the best will be spared. As she grows closer to her competitors—in particular, a troubled but gentle boy who designs chillingly twisted rooms—Sibyl is not sure if she has what it takes to win. And if she does, she might not be cold-hearted enough to ignore the fates of her peers.


INGENICIDE, at 65k, is a YA light scifi with a hint of the socio-political and a streak of survival-esque adventure that is reminiscent of HOW I LIVE NOW by Meg Rosoff and BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys. The story is also historically inspired by themes in the Civil War, the Cold War, the Holocaust, and the Cambodian genocide. It has enough strings untied for sequel potential. To pare down the query, you could go without the last two sentences in this paragraph. The first sentence in this group is also "telling", let us notice the parallels instead of telling us straight out.

I've been a hobby writer for four years. My background in the visual arts—I was a national gold medalist for the Scholastic Art and Writing awards—has also helped me with the interior design aspect of the novel. You probably can leave out this paragraph. It's stuff to be proud of, but probably not relevant enough to take up words. The Scholastic Art and Writing award might be relevant if it's recent. Also, I've read that you shouldn't call writing a "hobby" in your query. :) Even if it is a hobby, consider it to be your career when querying.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration!

---

Thanks for sharing your query! You have a strong start and it sounds like an interesting world. I can tell you, I've never heard about a story where teens fight to the death in an interior design competition. :) If I was reading this as an agent or editor, I might be skeptical as to whether or not that plot could work, but it's unusual enough, that I would be interested to know more.

If I understand what you're saying, Sibyl's primary goal is survival, and the antagonist "Genocide" wants her dead. In order for Sibyl to meet her goal she needs to design the best rooms. If that's not right, I encourage you to re-work the query, focusing on the central conflict. 

As I mentioned, I do have some concerns as to whether or not Sibyl is sympathetic enough in this query. You mention that she isn't sure if she is cold-hearted enough to watch her peers die, but that doesn't seem like enough to make her a real hero. I would like to know more about her motivation to "sacrifice her values to play their game."

So guys, what do you think about this query?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Are you getting rejected because of your query or your manuscript?

The good news is that if you're getting requests from your query, then your query is probably not the problem. Your story premise is intriguing and your query is well written.

But what if you're not getting any bites from your query? Your gut instinct may be that something is wrong with your query. That certainly could be the case, so your first step will be to get tons of feedback on your query and rewrite, and repeat.

So, now say that you've gotten feedback and re-written and your query is polished, but you're still not getting requests. What if the problem is actually your story?

I ran into this issue with a previous manuscript I was querying. I rewrote the heck out of that thing, and got it as polished as I could, but it still wasn't getting much attention from agents. However, when I wrote a better manuscript, the query came so much easier.

So, how do you know when you need to set aside your query and make changes to your manuscript? Here are some clues I noticed:

1. You've worked HARD on your query and it's still not as good as you'd like it to be. It's almost impossible to work too hard on your query, but it's possible. I think I did. You should read as much as you can about how to write a query, get tons of feedback, and re-write your query many, many times. But if you have done all that and your query is still not working for you, pat yourself on the back for a job well done on your query, and then get back to work on your manuscript.

2. Feedback about your query is lukewarm and nonspecific. If feedback about your query is negative and has specific suggestions about parts that are confusing or mistakes you've made a about query structure, you should re-write your query. If people are out of specific criticism but still aren't blown away, you might have written your query as well as possible and the problem lies elsewhere.

3. Laying out your main character's motivation and conflict is anything less than extremely easy. The fact is that the basics of your plot should be extremely easy to describe, and NOT because it makes for a better high concept Twitter pitch. If the central conflict isn't well defined, you have a problem with your manuscript.

4. Describing your genre is anything less than extremely easy. Okay, this is a tough one for me. My novel, The Charge, was New Adult before New Adult was really a thing, so I don't believe you should put aside your manuscript just because it's hard to categorize. But you still need to be well-informed about where your novel fits within the genre spectrum. If you don't know what genre to call your novel in the query, step back and examine your manuscript and pin down the genre before you query.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Does a good query equal a good book?

I don't think anyone claims that a 250 word query can really capture all of the complexity and art of a full novel. However, since agents and editors are beyond swamped, even 250 words is a generous allowance. So, at least for now, querying is the best way we have to sell our books to agents and editors.

But does this tactic work? Can you really tell whether or not a book will be good by reading the query? I asked some of the current and former acquisitions editors of Curiosity Quills Press:
Andrew Buckley
James Wymore
Jessa Russo
When looking at a brief 300 word query, what clues do you look for to determine whether or not the whole novel might be worth reading?

ANDREW: I look for a well written query with a solid structure and an original idea. I appreciate a good hook! If I’m entertained by the query then I’ll always ask for more.

JAMES: I'm an idea person. If the query expresses an interesting or unique idea, I'm hooked. If it just talks about character this and love that, I'm not.

JESSA: Well, a query should be closer to 250 words, with the actual plot blurb for your book closer to 200, leaving 50 words or so for you bio. :-)

Most importantly, I don't want to be confused. If your query has me completely lost by the second paragraph, that's not a good sign. One of the issues I've seen in both Acquisitions, and in various pitch contests or query workshops I've participated in as an author, would be the mention of too many characters. You only have a small amount of space (usually 200 words or less, not counting your bio) so don't bog me down with ten different character names and all of their various superpowers, love interests, and backgrounds. Who is your protagonist? What does he/she need to accomplish? Who or what stands in his/her way (antagonist)? What happens if he/she fails? Even if your side characters are amazing, and they are your most prized creations, don't tell me about them in the query unless youabsolutely have to. Too many names/characters/plot twists, and I'll end up confused and uninterested.


What are the situations where you might reject a very well-written query?

ANDREW: If the subject matter is inappropriate or doesn’t fit our catalogue then I’ll reject it even if it’s the Mona Lisa of query letters. If the query letter doesn’t offer a bribe then I’ll also reject it...no I’m kidding! But really...bribes work guys.

JAMES: If it doesn't match what we publish, it's out. We don't do memoirs, poetry, screenplays, or mainstream fiction. So if you submit a really great story about the holocaust, we still won't take it.


What are the situations where you might say yes to a poorly written or mediocre query?

ANDREW: We generally don’t accept query letters that are poorly written. In those particular cases we have sometimes sent back a polite critique of the query. The few we’ve accepted have had a great concept but even then, a badly written query letter raises immediate red flags.

JESSA: If the theme is interesting enough, and completely unique, I'd overlook a messy query in a heartbeat. As a writer who has now queried two books, I know how hard it is to write a query/blurb. I'm more interested in what follows the blurb, and your first pages are going to be very telling.


Do you find that excellent queries usually coincide with excellent novels, or are you sometimes disappointed with the MS after reading a query that gave you high hopes?


ANDREW: I’ve experienced it both ways. Great queries generally lead to great stories.

JAMES: I've been disappointed before. Just because somebody is a good salesman, doesn't make them a good writer. Unfortunately a good writer has to be a good salesman, too. But if you can write, you can learn to write a query, I suppose.


If a querying author is trying to decide whether or not his query or his novel is leading to rejections, what advice could you give to help them decide?

ANDREW: The literary industry is very subjective. Rejections can be attributed as much to a bad query as to an acquisitions editor whose car broke down than morning and he/she now hates the world. It’s a sad truth, but a truth none the less. The best advice I can give is to workshop your query. Have other people read it and see if it appeals to them. There’s also no harm in replying to a rejection to ask if there are any changes they could recommend to the query. 95% won’t reply but sometimes you get great advice.

JAMES: If they aren't requesting your manuscript, the query is the problem. If they are requesting the manuscript and then rejecting it, the manuscript is the problem. So fix the query until you get requests. Then fix the manuscript until you get accepted. Sounds simple enough, right? ;)

Remember, we want to read really great books. So if you send us one, we'll give you a contract. If we don't, it isn't because we didn't want to love it.

Part of the submission process is finding the right person who likes your book enough to invest in it. Look for people who print books like yours. They are most likely to print your book, too.

JESSA: Critique partners! Critique partners! Critique partners! Many critique partners.

Believe it or not, I could tell when an author hadn't had a critique partner (someone who is actually in the business and is also a writer). You may have allowed your mom and distant cousin to read your manuscript, and they probably loved it, but they don't count. Not in this area, at least. You need to have fresh eyes on your work--eyes that are critical and know what they're doing. We have this strange ability to miss mistakes in our own work. Even the best proofreader misses typos in their own manuscript. Even the best editor has plot holes and inconsistencies. You HAVE to allow other writers to view your work.

On that note, if all your CPs have done is tell you how awesome you and your manuscript are, they are not good CPs. Find someone who is willing to be blatantly honest with you. Your manuscript will thank you for it, I promise. Allow your new, honest CP to rip you apart and shred your manuscript to pieces. THAT is how you will grow to create a masterpiece. THAT is how you will become a better writer.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Write the query before the novel

It's query week! I'll be posting about how to write queries and will have some interviews with acquisitions editors too! In addition, if I get some submissions, I'll post some query critiques with my posts. If you want me to publicly critique your query, send your submission to unicornbellsubmissions@gmail.com. Don't worry, I'm honest, but gentle. :)

For starters, I share my reasoning for why you should write your query before you write your novel.

Query writing is considered by many to be a necessary evil, and I have counted myself among those people. However, when you take all of the fear and frustration surrounding submitting your novel to agents and publishers, the query is actually an excellent plotting exercise.

After much query trauma with past works, I wrote my query for The Charge BEFORE I wrote the book. I wanted to know if I could pitch the plot well before I even started. Are books with compelling or "high concept" pitches always the best books? No, of course, not. But, ALL books, especially in the commercial genre, need a solid plot structure, and a clear, concise query shows that you have that.

These are the elements that should probably be in your query (loosely in order of how they should appear in your query):

1. Introduce your main character. Share a detail to give a taste of their character. If the setting is important, share a detail about that too.
2. Describe the inciting incident that changes the MC's life forever and sends them on their journey.
3. Outline the MC's primary goal.
4. Describe the obstacle getting in the way of the goal
5. Summarize stakes (what happens if they fail?)
6. Title, word count, genre, comps, & bio.


If you can clearly describe those aspects of your novel, your plot has a workable structure. This is why it's nice to write the query before the novel. These aren't just the elements of a good query, these are the elements of a good plot. If your novel is missing these things, you'll never be able to write a good query, no matter how hard you try.

If you like to read my successful query for The Charge, and get more tips on query writing, you can go here.

And on a completely unrelated note, you can win a copy of The Charge on my blog this week. Enter here.



Friday, April 12, 2013

For Fun

It’s Friday. And I’m out of useful writerly website ideas. So instead, today I’m just going to link to some of my favorite semi-writerly blogs. For fun.
  • Hate signs with quotation marks that don’t belong? In for a good laugh? Then you should check out The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks.

  • I never noticed this until I found the lowercase L blog. But since, I keep stumbling across signs all in caps except for that one L.

  • Not only is there a blog devoted to the overuse of quotation marks. There’s also a blog devoted to the misuse of apostrophes and it’s called Apostrophe Abuse.

  • I’m sad to see that Bad Parking has been abandoned. Well, at least you can still peruse what was posted before it went away.
What other websites/blogs do you follow? Anything good I missed?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Vocab Links

How’s your vocabulary?

As readers, we build our vocabularies. As writers, we use that store of knowledge. The best way to find just the right word is to know lots of words.

Or, er, something like that. (Nothing quite like knowing you know the right word to have it just escape your grasp. Or is that just me?)

Right, so sometimes it’s a bit of a challenge to learn more words. Or, that could just be me as well. I’ve found a few interesting things online that help with the learning of new words.
  • I found Free Rice several years ago. It’s a vocabulary quiz with the goal of ending world hunger. See what level you can achieve.

  • Every Thursday, J.E. Fritz at Still Writing… does an etymology post. Wonder how some of the words you use every day came to be (or even some punctuation!)? She’ll tell you all about it.

  • Want to try a word game? Every day on Twitter, Jocelyn Rish posts a new difficult word, with the challenge to us to write a Twitter tale using it (#15tt). I’m terrible at it, but I try each day. Join me?
Know any other places where one can improve one’s vocabulary?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Grammar Help

Proper grammar is important for a writer. It’s one of those things that’ll make me put down a book and not pick it up again. (I’d think that if someone wasn’t sure of their grammar they’d find a good editor, but alas, many don’t. I’ve stumbled across so many books with run on sentences, missing words, misused words…)

A good editor is a must, of course. We all miss some things. And most of the time, it’s easy to tell a random typo as opposed to someone who is missing the basics of knowing how to construct their writing. But sometimes there are things we’re not sure of. (Only me? I can’t be the only one.)

While there are many books on the subject (as there are English classes), I’m focusing on links this week. So, here are a few I’ve gathered.
Have I missed any good sites? Do you seek help for your grammar?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Naming

One of my issues when it comes to story is finding character names and place names. I’m terrible at it.

I pull street names. I once used the name from an old silent film. (Film credits are a good place for names as well.) Some parents come up with “interesting” names for their children, so I’ve “borrowed” a couple of those.

But sometimes I need a name (after a while, calling a character “that girl” or “the villain” gets cumbersome). I’ve found a couple good sites where I can look at lists and find something.
  • I’m not sure why, but lately my go-to for names is Victorian Era Names. While some of these are well-known, quite a few I’ve never seen before, and I like that about them.

  • Of course, there’s always the Social Security website. You can find the most popular names of last year or any year you wish to check.
I need your help. What’s a good website for names? How do you find your characters’ names?

Monday, April 8, 2013

New Reads

Thank you for dropping by in this busy blogging month of April. Since half the Internet (at last count) is doing the A to Z Challenge, I thought I’d keep things kind of light this week.

One thing they tell us writers to do is to read. A lot. Well, we wouldn’t be writers if we didn’t enjoy reading. (This is an assumption on my part. True for me. True for you, too?) But sometimes it’s hard to find new books to read.

(Well, not really. Not in the blogging world. There seem to be new book announcements all the time. But what do you do when you’ve finished all those?)
  • I know Goodreads is popular (although I’ve yet to jump on the bandwagon).

  • There’s Booklamp. They say they’re kind of like Pandora but for books instead of music.

  • If you like to find ebooks of the free variety, Free eBooks Daily posts several new free books every day (alas, there’s a shortage of free Nook books).

What sites do you visit to find new books?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Interview with Sharon Bayliss

And A Special Extra for finding me my "victims"...

1) Name of you and Title of your Book.


2) Do you prefer to write in your PJ's or Jeans/t-shirt?

Yoga pants. I like to be comfy.

3) Salty? Sweet? Or Carrot Sticks with Hummus?

I am a sweet tooth all the way! I could live without fried foods or salty snacks but I once tried to give up sugar and was completely unhappy. I can't do it. I don't trust anyone who doesn't like cupcakes.

4) If you were going to be stranded on an island alone for a year what three things would you be so glad to not have to deal with for that year?

My computer. Counting calories. Cleaning house. Don't get me wrong, I really love my computer, but I love it too much, it's melting my brain. And I assume weight loss wouldn't be an issue if you were stranded on an island.

5) TV Shows or Movies? Why? (We all know Books come first...!)

TV! It sounds pathetic, but it's really hard to find time to watch a whole movie. I have so many other things I need to be doing.

6) What is your absolute Favorite part of the writing process? 

That moment when you feel like the story is writing itself, when I can't wait to sit down and write because I want to know what happens next.

7) What secret, non-writing related, skill do you have?

I am an LMSW, so I guess you can say I'm good at counseling people. At least my degree says so.

8) Who do you most wish would knock on your door, RIGHT NOW!

My brother. We used to hang out all the time, but he moved to a snake farm in the middle of nowhere. (Okay, it's a wheat farm. But they have a lot of snakes.)

9) What is your favorite flavor Jolly Rancher?

Strawberry.

10) Write a 50 word (or so) flash using these 5 words. 
 TURTLE, GLADIATOR, CRAMP, TOAST, KEY

A gladiator challenges a turtle to a duel. They walk 30 paces, then turn and draw. The turtle pulls out a piece of toast. The gladiator pulls out a key. Then, the gladiator gets a cramp and starts to cry. The end.

Thank you for all your help this week Sharon!
Enjoy the rest of the A-Z!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Interview with Ellie Garratt


Up next we have...

 1) Name of you and Title of your Book.

Hi. I’m Ellie Garratt and my book is called Passing Time: Nine Short Tales of the
Strange and Macabre.

2) Do you prefer to write in your PJ's or Jeans/t-shirt?


PJs! Wrapped in my dressing gown and with the radiator on full. It might be spring in
the UK but someone forgot to tell Mother Nature.

3) Salty? Sweet? Or Carrot Sticks with Hummus?


Make it bread sticks with Hummus, and I’m in.

4) If you were going to be stranded on an island alone for a year what three things
would you be so glad to not have to deal with for that year?


Work, aka The Day Job.
My frizzy hair, as no one would be able to see me.
Dust. No vacuuming or polishing. Bliss.

5) TV Shows or Movies? Why? (We all know Books come first...!)

TV shows every time. I love it when I fall in love with a show and can look forward
to a new installment on a weekly basis. I cry when they end, though. Current
favourites are The Walking Dead, Person of Interest, Perception, The Almighty
Johnson’s, and Grimm.

6) What is your absolute Favorite part of the writing process?

Whilst writing the first draft it fun, I absolutely love the first edit – when you take a
roughly plotted idea and turn it into a true story.

7) What secret, non-writing related, skill do you have?

I can wiggle my ears. Somewhere in the world it must be a highly valued skill. I’m
still looking, though.

8) Who do you most wish would knock on your door, RIGHT NOW!

Professor Brian Cox. He reminds me of a modern day Carl Sagan. I also have a mega-
sized crush on him.

9) What is your favorite flavor Jolly Rancher?

I’m not sure what a Jolly Rancher is. Excuse me while I visit Google.

I’m back. If I go with my imaginary taste buds, I would say Cinnamon Fire.

10) Write a 50 word (or so) flash using these 5 words.

TURTLE, GLADIATOR, CRAMP, TOAST, KEY

‘I didn’t expect to see you here,’ Turtle said.

‘Took a wrong turn and lost the key,’ we replied.

‘I thought you and Gladiator had a stellar nursery to toast?’

‘We were bored and got cramp.’ We pointed to a planet in front of us. ‘End Of

The World job?’

‘Yes,’ Turtle sighed.


Thanks Ellie!

Make sure to check out Ellie at Amazon, her Blog, Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter!




Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Interview with Aja Hannah

Today...in the Interview Hot Seat I bring you...
 
1) Name of you and Title of your Book.

Aja Hannah, Zarconian Island

2) Do you prefer to write in your PJ's or Jeans/t-shirt?

PJ's. Sweats are too tight.

3) Salty? Sweet? Or Carrot Sticks with Hummus?

Sweet. Chocolatey goodness in my face hole.

4) If you were going to be stranded on an island alone for a year what three things would you be so glad to not have to deal with for that year?

Ha! My story is actually about kids being stranded on an island. So, I would say dealing with bills/money, dressing appropriately, and the arbitrary and stiff rules of society like small talk.

5) TV Shows or Movies? Why? (We all know Books come first...!)

TV Shows. You spend less for more episodes. If one is a miss, there will always be another chance for a hit.

6) What is your absolute Favorite part of the writing process? 

Dreaming up the stories. If I could replay the stories a thousand times in my head, I would. So much happens and I just hope I do it credit enough on paper.

7) What secret, non-writing related, skill do you have?

I'm really good with small kids. When people find out that I work in childcare, they are always surprised because I'm so crazy outside of my job. But I love kids and I've worked professionally with them since I was 17.

8) Who do you most wish would knock on your door, RIGHT NOW!

My current boyfriend! No, scratch that. I've still got that "just woke up" face on. So...no one. Leave me be.

9) What is your favorite flavor Jolly Rancher?

The purple kind? If that's a flavor.

10) Write a 50 word (or so) flash using these 5 words. 
 TURTLE, GLADIATOR, CRAMP, TOAST, KEY

In the league of gladiator turtles, only one turtle would win the key to the treasure trove of toast. Turtlicious had all the luck. Before the match, lady-turtles stuffed him full of sweet ladybugs. But no turtle could guess that those lovely lady lucks would cause an inner shell-cramp. And, as no luck would have it, Turtnerd took the toast.
 
Thank you Aja! Find her book on Amazon
Enjoy the rest of A-Z!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Interview with Cassie Mae

Next up, answering our Very Important Questions we have...

1) Name of you and Title of your Book.

Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend, by Cassie Mae (writing as Becca Ann)

2) Do you prefer to write in your PJ's or Jeans/t-shirt?
LOL, I'm lucky if I have pants on. But when they are on, it's usually PJ's ;)

3) Salty? Sweet? Or Carrot Sticks with Hummus?
Jr Mints in Popcorn ;)

4) If you were going to be stranded on an island alone for a year what three things would you be so glad to not have to deal with for that year?
Clothing (You better believe I'll be walking around naked)
Bills
Politics

5) TV Shows or Movies? Why? (We all know Books come first...!)
I'm addicted to those awful CW shows. I can't help it! I have to know what is happening to those beautiful guys on Vampire Diaries.

6) What is your absolute Favorite part of the writing process?
Whatever part I'm not doing at the time, lol. Right now, since I'm drafting, I'd much rather be editing.

7) What secret, non-writing related, skill do you have?
I can put both feet behind my head. Not that I will show that to anyone!

8) Who do you most wish would knock on your door, RIGHT NOW!
A very toned shirtless man with a big check and a bar of chocolate.

9) What is your favorite flavor Jolly Rancher?
Um, the green one. I think it's apple but I can't remember, lol.

10) Write a 50 word (or so) flash using these 5 words. 
 TURTLE, GLADIATOR, CRAMP, TOAST, KEY
"Oh my gosh, these CRAMPS! I'm not going anywhere today."

"Stop being a baby. As soon as I finish my TOAST, I'm grabbing your KEYS and we're heading out to get you those chocolate TURTLES. Will that make you happy?"

"No. I'm gonna need a heck of a lot more than chocolate."

"How about the promise of seeing many shirtless men?"

"Keep talking."

"GLADIATOR is playing in 3D. I promise if you get out of bed, it'll be worth your while."

"As long as we get some Midol too. And dang you for using shirtless men. You know they are my weakness."

"Aren't they everybody's?"



Thanks Cassie Mae!



You can find her here at Amazon! So be sure to check her out!
  
(Ps...I hate blogger...not sure why it's being psycho...sorry...)



Monday, April 1, 2013

Interview with Kelley Lynn

Today we have Kelley Lynn answering our Need To Know Questions!


1) Name of you and Title of your Book.
Kelley Lynn and I wrote FRACTION OF STONE    
2) Do you prefer to write in your PJ's or Jeans/t-shirt?
I'd prefer to live in my PJs/Sweats. Haha. So I would choose to write in that too.

3) Salty? Sweet? Or Carrot Sticks with Hummus?
I should answer carrot sticks with hummus but even though I'm a fairly healthy eater I don't really like carrots or hummus. Haha. But give me a chocolate covered pretzel. Heaven! (Which is both sweet and salty...)

4) If you were going to be stranded on an island alone for a year what three things would you be so glad to not have to deal with for that year?
Ooo, this is a great question. 1) Slow people in the left lane. 2) Cleaning 3) I think it's good I'm struggling to come up with three of these...haha

5) TV Shows or Movies? Why? (We all know Books come first...!)
TV Shows. They're shorter so I find I can fit them in. Though I do love movies. I just need to find time to watch them. :)

6) What is your absolute Favorite part of the writing process? 
Showing the growth of characters. Pushing, stretching, watching them change. And most importantly, making the readers connect with those characters.

7) What secret, non-writing related, skill do you have?
I can sing. Used to sing in a band but it took a lot of time so I only make guest appearances every so often.
8) Who do you most wish would knock on your door, RIGHT NOW!
Prince Charming :) Or some version there of. haha!

9) What is your favorite flavor Jolly Rancher?
Watermelon. But I'll take any of them.
10) Write a 50 word (or so) flash using these 5 words. 
 TURTLE, GLADIATOR, CRAMP, TOAST, KEY
The gladiator climbed the hill, sweating, grunting and gasping for breath. Halfway up, his calf cramped. It would be impossible to jump on one foot up the hill, which was beginning to look more like a mountain. Then the gladiator heard, "Pst, over here." He turned his head and saw a turtle who said, "Wait right there. I've got the key to your success."

Thank you Kelley!

You can find Kelley at her Blog Adventures Between the Bookends.
So be sure to check her out there!
As well as on Amazon and Goodreads!