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  1. My first

    January 5, 2015 by Suzi

    I’ll be having my first pitch experience this spring when I get to attend (for the 2nd time) the Storymakers Conference in Utah.
     
    I’m not nervous yet, but there’s plenty of time for that. :)
     
    And really, I’m not even sure what story I’ll pitch. I have a number of manuscripts sitting here and May is a long ways off. And I also started thinking, would it be okay to throw a couple pitches out at one session or is that not right? Something to think about.
     
    Anyway, I got very lucky after making a stupid mistake. I’d did my time conversion wrong, Central to Mountain, and I actually registered an hour after registration opened. All pitches were filled at that point. But I got an email in asking to be on the waiting list and I got in that way.
     
    What probably happened is that some people signed up for a pitch session AND a manuscript consultation with their agent of choice, and since they got the ms consult, they didn’t need the pitch too. So they dropped out of the pitch list.
     
    Yay for me!
     
    So what I’m wondering is if you’ve done a pitch, can you tell me about your experience. And any advice would be welcome. :)


  2. The Big Reveal

    January 1, 2015 by Suzi

    Welcome to the Big Reveal
     

    I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds
    of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at
    all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will
    have a new question for them.
     

    Did you choose your genre or did your genre choose you??

     
    Tanya Reimer
    I rarely think about genre in a first draft. But! That means in a later draft I have to revise the manuscript for any spots where it slips because a Suspense has different elements than a Mystery, a Paranormal different ways to present the supernatural than a Horror. It is much more satisfying for a reader to get what they came for, so I make sure to deliver in my rewrites.

    I am working on different heat-levelled romance writing. I love to learn and try new genres until I master them to my liking. I have no idea if they’ll ever see print or if the experience will simply serve as a tool in other works. But it’s interesting and fun and really pushes me to work outside my comfort zone.

     

    Trisha Leaver
    Hmm…good questions. I would have to say my genre choose me. When I sketched out my first nightmare *cough* book (aka CREED) I hadn’t really envisioned the age of my character. I was more focused on the setting, how the characters back-story impacted her current struggle, and what forces were contriving against her. Her voice – that of a seventeen-year-old girl – was almost a secondary factor to me.

    My favorite genre to read is Adult Historical Fiction. I think it is because I spend so much time crafting YA stories in the present world that being transported to a different era is like my own personal mind-vacation. As for writing historical fiction…on the YA side, absolutely. I love to write historical re-imaginings, especially those surrounding infamous crimes or local lore. My first foray into the YA Historical genre is a book titled SWEET MADNESS. It is a reimagining of the Borden murders told from the maid’s point of view and is set to release summer of 2015 with Merit Press.

     
    Danielle Bertrand
    It’s hard to say. I’ve always been drawn to Fantasy, Paranormal and Horror, even from a young age. Yes, my writing genres are pretty much the same as my reading genres. And no, I kinda love my genres too much to venture out.

     

    J.A. Bennett
    Um, Romance choose me. I’ve always wanted to be fantasy writer because it’s my favorite thing to read, but I like romance too. It’s kinda fun doing both. I think my experience writing romance is making my fantasy work stronger.

     
    Jackie Felger
    Paranormal, Sci-Fi, romance, and contemporary are my go-to genres for reading and writing. I do like a good horror book, too, and thought it’d be fun to write one, but I think I’d creep myself out.

     

    Stephanie Faris
    My first book ever was a young adult novel but in the 90s, YA wasn’t selling. In the 00s, as the market opened up, I started writing YA again. I was writing it the way YA was in the 80s, when I was growing up (Sweet Valley High, Cheerleaders, etc.). I was immediately told my voice was too young for YA and I should write middle grade and chapter books. I like sweet, happy, fun books. I don’t seem to be able to write the dark stuff, but I admire those who can.

     
    Did you choose your genre or did your genre choose you?


  3. End of the year

    December 29, 2014 by Suzi

     
    At the end of each year, it’s fun to go into my site stats and check out how people came to my blog. The fun thing to see is what search terms people used to get to my site.
     
    I wish I could know how many pages of search items they had to scroll through to get to mine because when I search some of these, I go pages and pages, and don’t stumble onto the link for my site. I also wish it told me which blog post it linked to because most of the time I can’t figure it out.
     
    So for the year of 2014, here are some of the most interesting searches that led somebody to my site.
     
    minigs of your name: My question is, did they massacre the word meanings? Because I don’t know what minings is.
     
    wifes comments on civil engineer husband: I can’t imagine what this person was looking for. It seems pretty darn generic.
     
    engineer because superhero is not an official job title: This just makes me laugh. Never thought of myself as a superhero. Maybe I should. :)
     
    i didn’t finish writing my book and it was cancelled: What was cancelled? The writing of your book? And why are you Googling something you did?
     
    I am having so much fun here with you: a novel: This is actually a novel, but I’d never heard of it. It’s got a fun title though.
     
    when was the anatomy of rock by jim morrison written: I may have had a post with the words Jim Morrison because my A to Z last year was music, but it wasn’t about Anatomy of a Rock. I’d never heard of that before and it’s actually a poem, not a song. I never knew Jim Morrison was a poet although it’s not to different than being a songwriter, I guess, so it makes sense.
     
    Awknowledge: All I can say is really? One word. My blog had to be way down in the list of links for this one.
     
    So those were some of my favorites. Have you ever had any really funky search terms that led someone to your blog?
     
    I hope you all had a good year and that 2015 is even better!

    Image courtesy of franky242 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


  4. Merry Christmas

    December 24, 2014 by Suzi

    Image courtesy of duron123 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

     
     
    I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday.
     


  5. The Big Reveal

    December 19, 2014 by Suzi

    Welcome to the Big Reveal
     

    I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds
    of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at
    all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will
    have a new question for them.
     

    What word(s) or phrases show up way too often in your work?

     

    Stephanie Faris
    In fiction, I tend to rely on “said” too much, or so I’m told. At some point early on, I attended a workshop where we were warned to just use “said” instead of trying to come up with fancy dialogue tags. Apparently that rule has changed, because both my editors and my freelance writing clients have complained that I use “said” too much. In my freelance writing, I’ve realized I like to use the word “today” too much to start articles off. (“Today’s busy professionals don’t have time for…”)

     
    Tanya Reimer
    Every manuscript is different, but I find my characters use words in that first draft that help me identify their personalities. For example, my earth god uses DIRT a bit too much: “What in all this dirt is going on here? Give me that dirt. You scared the dirt right off me.” I don’t always notice because it’s how I identify them so that’s where good readers come in handy.

     

    Trisha Leaver
    Just, smile, hummed (as is tossed)…which oddly doesn’t translate outside of Cape Cod I found out :) I have a list of crutch words that I have accumulated from CP’s, editors and my agent. When I write, I ignore that list and simply let the words flow. But after the last word is typed, that list comes out and those words get slayed.

     
    Danielle Bertrand
    I don’t have a phrase per se but I have tendency to repeat words in a short period of time from one another. Which leads to my impulse to edit while I write instead of waiting until I’m done.

     

    J.A. Bennett
    I probably have a zillion things that I’m not even aware of, but right now I think the biggest ones off the top of my head is my affinity for the words that and just and the phrases I mean, and of course. My characters are always tipping and nodding their heads too.

     
    Jackie Felger
    I “just” did a search in my current WIP … the word “just” made an appearance way too many times. In past manuscripts, I overused the words grin and smirk, among others. Thank goodness for critique partners who catch things for me!

     

    What word(s) or phrases show up way too often in your work?


  6. A difference of opinion

    December 15, 2014 by Suzi

    I know two people can read the same book and have different opinions about it. Some love the writing, others will think it sucks. Some think it’s an original story, others think it’s cliche. I’ve read enough book reviews to see that. There’s many reasons why people look at books differently, including simple things like their tastes or deeper things involving their history and lookout on life.
     
    Yes, we’re all different, so we see things differently.
     
    But sometimes I question a reviewer’s take on a book–it just no sense to me. Just recently I finished Flawed by Kate Avelynn. I enjoyed the story and after finishing, read through some one and two star reviews to see what the people who didn’t like it said.
     
    And I read something that kinda shocked me.
     
    Spoiler alert. If you don’t want to know the ending, skip ahead to where I say spoiler end.
     
    The reviewer was unhappy because the MC had a HEA. And I was like, huh? A happily ever after?
     
    -The MC’s mother died during the story.
     
    -The MC will have to deal with the affects of her father’s abuse for the rest of her life.
     
    -The MC’s brother killed her boyfriend, who was also the brother’s best friend.
     
    -The MC’s brother, whom she deeply loved, also killed himself.
     
    That is nowhere near a HEA to me. I guess the reviewer wanted the MC to either be physically hurt or killed and anything other than that was a happy ending.
     
     
    Spoiler End.
     

    So obviously, me and that reviewer have drastically different definitions of happy. :) I can understand people view stylistic things differently, but this difference of opinion seems big. And honestly, it makes me wonder about this person. What they are like and how they generally view life.
     
    Have you ever had a similar experience reading a review, not just a difference in opinion, but something that makes you curious about the reviewer and what it was in their lives that helped shaped their outlook, and hence the review you just can’t understand. (Sorry, that’s kind of a mouthful.)


  7. The Big Reveal

    December 12, 2014 by Suzi

    Welcome to the Big Reveal
     

    I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds
    of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at
    all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will
    have a new question for them.
     

    Pantser, Planner or in-between?

     

    Stephanie Faris
    I am totally a pantser. I wish I wasn’t. In everything else in life I’m a planner, but writing is something I have to do without too much thinking. It seems like it comes from out of nowhere. Most of my projects are submitted as partials now, so it helps that I’m forced to stop at three chapters and write a synopsis. This forces me to plan the last half of the book.

     
    Tanya Reimer
    I always called myself a pantser. But! I realise the way I fly by the seat of my pants is a little planned out. My goal is to allow my characters (in that first draft) to run wild. I do not play god until later drafts. I give them an opening chapter, an end or near end chapter and plunk them in a world they must create. How they get there is up to them, yet along the way, I have markers that require they do things or arc or find something. They always hit their mark without much probing from me.

     

    Trisha Leaver
    When I start a WIP, I have a solid grip on the beginning and a vague idea about how I want things to end up, but everything in the middle….that is fair game. I’ve tried outlining my books, even taken workshops on plotting out chapters, but I can’t seem to make it work for me. It’s like once I’m locked into an outline, my muse disappears and I end up churning out what reads like a boring textbook. But give me a blank piece of paper for my characters to dance on and I can write all day long.

     
    Danielle Bertrand
    I’m usually a total planner. Characters, plot, names, places, timelines, outlines – everything is planned. Unless some crazy-cool idea starts bouncing around in the ol noggin and some little voyage goes astray; then I let it happen and it typically works in the characters advantage.

     

    J.A. Bennett
    I’m a pantser by nature, but I always follow Blake Synder’s beat sheet. I usually write out my beats before beginning the story. Then the story usually changes as I go, so I adjust my beats. Sometimes I just write until I hit a beat, then I figure out the next beat and write to that point. It works for me.

     
    Jackie Felger
    In-between. I use a very rough outline, and then pantser my way through it.

     

    Pantser, Planner or in-betweener?


  8. Author visits… yikes

    December 8, 2014 by Suzi

    Recently I got to see Mindy McGinnis, author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, when she was invited to do an author visit in my town. I didn’t get to see the first session, which was at a local college, cause of my kids—you know all their crap going on, but I went to the 2nd night.
     
    I’ve followed Mindy since before her books came out, maybe even before she was agented. She’s got an interesting blog and she’s been active in the online writing community. She seems to have an awesome sense of humor, which is probably one of the reasons why I keep going back to her blog.
     
    After seeing her talk, it made me think. How in the world will I do what she did? She was funny, had good stories, and seemed to speak easily to the group, which was adults, even though her stories are YA.
     
    That’s a lot of pressure. I mean, a book signing wouldn’t so bad. One on one talking with others. But getting up in front of a group and being interesting. It’s not something I look forward to.
     
    But… considering I’m not agented or anything, I’ve probably got some time to prepare. “_
     
    Do author visits make you nervous? Have you ever done one?


  9. The Big Reveal

    December 5, 2014 by Suzi

    Welcome to the Big Reveal
     

    I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds
    of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at
    all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will
    have a new question for them.
     

    Are you obsessive about backing up your work?

     

    Jackie Felger
    I do like to have a few copies, because I lost a big chunk of a story before… I hadn’t saved it. So now, I try to save my work in different places. Email and mem sticks work for me.

     

    Stephanie Faris
    I bought a Sony Vaio with Windows 8 in 2013 and it has issues. Something locks it up about once a day and I have to shut it down by holding down the power button. About once a month, this corrupts something and I have to reload the entire laptop. SO, needless to say, I use a flash drive for my work and back it up to Microsoft OneDrive once a week. (It comes with Windows 8.1 for free and it’s cloud-based.)
    !

     
    Tanya Reimer
    Yes. Obsessive is an understatement. Multiple copies. Various computers. Various devices. Email. Kindle. Any other ideas I could use? I’m still trying to figure out the cloud thing. It makes me nervous to think that my work might end up floating around in some cloud, so that one is still up for debate.

     

    Trisha Leaver
    I wasn’t until this past spring when I lost three entire days’ worth of edits to THE SECRETS WE KEEP that I became fanatic about backing up my work. I was plodding my way through line edits and feeling really proud about the progress I was making. Then along comes a random thunder storm, followed by a power surge and poof…three days’ worth of work gone. Vanished. Not even a single track change to be found. Now I’m religious about backing up my work. I have two thumb drives, one I carry with me and one that stays in my desk drawer, but everything gets backed up at least twice a day to two different places.

     
    Danielle Bertrand
    One place! … Talk about anxiety! I backup my work to several places. Desktop, laptop, mem cards, and yes, I’ve even sent myself the trusty email. OCD is my friend.

     

    J.A. Bennett
    I actually have this awesome program called Carbonite. It automatically backs up everything to a cloud the second you hit save. It costs like $30 a month, but it saves me a major piece of mind. It saves all my music and pictures too, so it’s worth it to me.

     

    Are you obsessive about backing up your work?


  10. Lying is the in thing

    November 30, 2014 by Suzi

    Recently I finished Gone Girl. For those who haven’t read it, neither of the main characters are likable. Interesting maybe, but not likeable. But what intrigued me with the story was the whole unreliable narrator thing.

    Image courtesy of
    Stuart Miles
    FreeDigitalPhotos.net


    Unreliable narrators can’t be trusted. They maybe lie, with-hold information or misrepresent what’s happening, but we the readers might not realize it until we get further into the book.
     
    It’s an unusual concept to me, and I was curious about other books with unreliable narrators.
     
    When I did a Google search, some of the well-known books that pop up are Lolita, American Psycho, and Fight Club—none of which I’ve read.
     
    There were a few on the lists I have read: Catcher in the Rye and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but I read those so long ago, I don’t really remember much about them.
     
    I’m curious though, and plan to read more about these scheming and deceitful characters. As a writer, I want to know what those authors do to make these liars likeable. From what I’ve seen, it’s not an easy thing to do.
     
    And I’ll probably start with Fight Club—I loved the movie after all.
     
    Have you read any books with unreliable narrators that you really enjoyed? Do you like the whole unreliable narrator concept?