Friday, December 30, 2011

Resolutions

It's that time of year again, when peeps are thinking of ways to improve themselves or their lives, set some goals, set aside some regrets, etc. Or it can be a chance to reflect on how far we've come. I think it's a healthy habit to get into--noting our progress before dreaming up new expectations for ourselves.

I just finished an online workshop on publishing options in the brave new pubbing world, and it was really motivating and informative. Setting realistic goals was one of the topics we discussed. What the instructors, Bob Mayer and Jen Talty, suggested, is starting small and making it concrete. For example, I wouldn't set my goal as hitting the NYT bestseller list when I don't even have a book out yet, or just released one. I want to set goals like viable marketing plans, completing WIPs, and beta exchanges.

Once I've written down and accomplished a feasable goal, I move onto the next. 

Baby steps.

Usually, my new year's resolution is not to make any resolutions. Yeah, yeah I know... lame-o. 
But this year my goal is simple: write a really kick-butt story. Even if it means going backward to move forward. 2011 was a great year. I saw many writer friends find success with their work, and I'm so elated for them. I think many more of you will do the same. 

No matter what your goal is, I'm wishing you much success as you take your baby steps to reach it. I'll be here stepping along with you. I have tons of info to share with you in the coming weeks .... more from Mary Kole's YA/MG webinar and more on digital publishing. And hopefully, a project launch within the next couple months. 

So out with the old, and in with the new!

Let's make it a fantastic 2012! Thanks for being a part of my writerly world. :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sea Farms, Ice Clubs, Vine Fish ... Oh My!

Those are just a few reasons to check out Catherine Stine's new young adult thriller,

FIRESEED ONE




Isn't the cover gorgeous? This story is chock full of adventure and available now, just in time for the holidays. If you don't know Catherine Stine, hop over to her blog and congratulate her on her book's birthday. She's super sweet and talented. 


But first, check out this blurb on FireSeed One:


Fireseed One, a YA thriller, is set in a near-future world with soaring heat, toxic waters, tricked-out amphibious vehicles, ice-themed dance clubs and fish that grow up on vines. Varik Teitur inherits a vast sea farm after the mysterious death of his marine biologist father. When Marisa Baron, a beautiful and shrewd terrorist, who knows way too much about Varik's father's work, tries to steal seed disks from the world's food bank, Varik is forced to put his dreams of becoming a doctor on hold and venture with her, into a hot zone teeming with treacherous nomads and a cult who worships his dead father, in order to search for a magical hybrid plant that may not even exist. *With nine illustrations by the author.


Catherine's artwork is excellent. I think it's so cool when authors do their own illustrations. Do Catherine a favor and LIKE her Facebook page here. Just a quick click will take you there!


And check her out on GoodReads here


Of course, to purchase this book, you can do so on Amazon, and right now eBooks are on special price at $1.50 ... all you have to do is email Catherine directly at kitsy84557@gmail.com

For those who prefer iBooks for your iPads, iPhones, etc..... you can purchase a copy here.

I'm going to leave you with a brief excerpt from FireSeed One so you can get a good taste of all this book has to offer. But before I do, don't forget to hop over to Catherine's blog for her launch party loaded with fun and giveaways! She'll be there all day and the link is at the very top of this post.

From FireSeed One:

We anchor at SnowAngel Island, trek toward the center of town, and pile into L’Ongitude. It used to be a whale-blubber processing plant. Now it’s a club full of striking, well-heeled young people gyrating to Nu-Arctic beats. We flash the fake IDs that Audun lent us. Good light show. Snowflake and icicle shapes in silvery colors whirl across the walls and across peoples’ bodies. Swallowing a lump of envy, I glance at the couples, lucky enough to already be in college, who will soon be unfolding the fronds of their dream careers.
As I watch them, I suddenly get this awful vision of the world, in, say, three or four years. A world where we never found those agar seed disks and the food bank has dried up. It’s a world where these healthy, lively party-hounds are haggard and hungry, and no longer dancing. Where they’re on their bony hands and knees in their backyards, scratching for mushrooms and sinewy worms. I grab anxiously at a pile of pink-and-yellow agar-pastries that a L’Ongitude waitress is carrying, and stuff one in.
Shaking off the vision as I chew, I glance over at Marisa. She’s arching her brows at a girl’s skimpy garb. The girl ignores Marisa but her dance partner gives Marisa an appreciative once-over. Even though Marisa’s hair is hastily pinned up with strands that blew out from the wind, she stands out in this crowd because of her unusual Land-style suit—its long pants hugging her legs. Most girls on SnowAngel dress in short frocks with hike shorts.
Little does this guy ogling Marisa know that I hold her captive with an invisible fish-tracker; that without it, she’d escape in a hot minute. The irony of it makes me cringe. I don’t need to fish with virtual line to snag a girl, and she’s certainly not my girlfriend. Marisa’s keeping step with me, and after that first bold stare at the dancers, she bows her head when someone looks her way. Anxiety is practically sweating off her. Why does she hate crowds so much? Is she in hiding? If so, why?
Thanks so much for stopping by! Congrats to Catherine! And I won't be around for a few days while I snuggle up with the fam for the holidays, but I'm wishing all of you a very merry Christmas or whatever else you may celebrate! See you back here as we round at 2011 together. Tell me, what book would you most like to receive right now?
FA LA LA LA LA, LA LA LA LA!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Deja Vu!


Hi there! Today a whole bunch of bloggers are doing it again.... reposting something from their archives that bears mentioning again. Thanks so much for stopping by here! I'm slowly getting around to everyone's blogs, so forgive me if I haven't been to yours yet. Between a nasty cold and endless Christmas preparations for my kid's last week of school, free time has been a rarity. But mark my words, I'll get there!!

Here's a post I did back in August called Giving Up:


Who's giving up? You giving up? Not me, that's for darn sure. Although, there are days when I have to set everything aside and refocus. But that's not giving up. That's changing my perspective. And sometimes that's just as important as trying.

Yesterday, I finally got to see the Soul Surfer movie.


You know, the true story of Bethany Hamilton who was attacked by a shark while she was practicing for her upcoming surfing competition and lost her arm, just barely surviving? Have you seen the movie yet? Make the time for this one. Besides the fact that it's set in Hawaii (my most fave place in the world) and the scenery is gorgeous, Bethany's story will move you and touch your heart.

The obvious take-away from her story, is to never give up. That we all face obstacles and adversity and at times, we all will fail. How frustrating it must've been to just make a sandwich with only one hand, let alone trying to get up and balance on a surfboard. No one would've blamed Bethany for giving up surfing ... or even for never going into the water again after what happened.

But she did not let it stop her. And it wasn't easy. Actually, she got so frustrated that she did give up surfing. For awhile. But only to gain some perspective. You know what she did to refocus? Found a way to help others. She went to Thailand right after the tsunami of 2004 and did mission work. How's that for a fresh perspective?

Sometimes we think we have it so bad, we forget there are thousands of people around the world who would give anything to trade places with us. We tend to wallow in our failures and self-pity. Which means it's time to step back and look at what we have already accomplished.

When Bethany returned to Hawaii, she did get back into surfing... and came in 5th place in the Hawaiian regional surfing competition. She didn't win, but she was certainly the only one-armed surfer out there. She didn't give up when things got tougher than she ever imagined. She stopped and focused her attention on what she could do for others. And THAT is what gave her the strength to press on.

Perspective. It's so easy to forget to change it. There's a line in the film that says, "Sometimes we have to change the way we look at things. If we're too close to it, we can't really see it for what it is."

I think about that with my stories. And with writing in general. Hey, it's not the end of the world if that first, second, or third story doesn't pan out like we want. We just ... move on. Until we're ready to get back in the water and catch the next wave. Why? Because it's what we love. And no one, not even ourselves, is going to stand in the way of our dreams.

It's also why we need support from each other. It's why this writing community is so so important. Bethany wouldn't have the guts she has without the support of her loving family and from people around the world who saw her story and sent her letters of support and encouragement. I know we're all supposed to be here in the blogosphere to create our platforms and that jazz ... But it's more than that! We have a network of support and encouragement from each other, and that is what will see us through to our goals.

Gosh, I love you guys. *sniff sniff* LOL! (for dramatic effect) ;)


Hope you enjoyed my repost. For me personally, remembering to never give up is something we have to encourage in ourselves, and those around us.

So tell me, how do you keep perspective? 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bah Humbug!


I'm not really a scrooge. But I'll admit there are some things that annoy me about the holiday season. Figured this was a good chance to vent, so in no particular order ...

On the TWELVTH (omgosh how do you spell 12th???) LOL!

Try this again ... *ahem* Please sing this to the tune of 12 Days of Christmas:

On the 12th day of Christmas I almost punched a wall. There was:
12 hundred tree needles on the floor,
11 strands of tangled twinkle lights,
10 thousand hungry children around the world,
9 soldiers who won't get to see their families,
8 hours of baking cookies,
7 days of undecorating,
6 red traffic lights in a row,
*5 brand new credit card bills*
4 more expensive toys to buy,
3 assumptions that I'm Catholic,
2 rude shoppers behind me,
and 1 more humid day in Florida when it's supposed to be cold.

I took a Facebook poll to see what the most popular answer was. Pretty much anything that has to do with crowds, greed, or rude people topped the poll.


Now, because I hate to leave things on a negative note, here are just a few things I love about the holidays:

* festive lights everywhere
* excitement in children's eyes
* smell of spruce, cinnimon, turkey roasting, cookies baking
* snowy scenes
* Rockefeller Center
* eggnog while wrapping presents on Christmas eve
* giving to others
* time off work and school to be together

For more on the Bah humbug blahgfest, hop over to Patrick Dilloway (otherwise known as the Grumpy Bulldog) blog and read all the entries. Never too late to jump on board either.

Tell me, what do you dislike about the holidays?  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Writing Conditions

What conditions do you need to get your best writing done? Closed door, crowded coffee house? Computer or notebook? Can you just sit down to write, or do you need to wait for the time to be right?


These are the questions on  this week's blog chain, which comes from Tere Kirkland. How do you answer them? For me, I need quiet for my best writing. I prefer my office and my laptop with no other sounds. If there's a really intense scene I have to write, I sometimes use music but only instrumental. Movie scores are my fave... but often I use piano music as well.


My best time to write is early morning when the house is still asleep. I turn nothing on. Only me and my laptop with no email up or cell phone on. For some reason my brain just flows better and freer in the wee hours of morning. It's uninterrupted and I think that's the main benefit. However, since my day job is early morning five days of the week, I resort to mid-morning for writing, when kids are in school most days. It's great to have that time, don't get me wrong ... but there are so many distractions during the day, the flow is not as good. 


Now, with all that being said, optimum writing conditions are--and have to remain--very flexible. Having a part time job, two kids, a dog and a house to maintain means time to write is pushed to the back burner on a regular basis. When this happens, I have to compromise or it just doesn't get done. Sometimes I use spiral notebooks and pen, or notecards, or make use of my non-writing time by reading how-to writing books or Popular Science magazines. If I'm not writing, I'm filling my brain with ideas.


Reading for entertainment is something I do at night before bed. It's my fave time to delve into a story, and in all honesty, it's rare when fiction grabs me so much I read at all hours of the day. Mostly, it's reserved for night time. 
There, so that's way more info than you ever wanted to know about me, right? LOL 


Remember, there are a couple blogfests coming up this week. On Dec. 15 is 


This one should be fun... and simple. Just name the twelve things that you can't stand about the holidays. Yes, it's negative, I know. But everyone needs a good place to vent now and then... and let's face it, the holidays can be a royal pain in the neck. Click on the pic of Scrooge McDuck for blogfest HDQ and sign up for the fun!


And then the following day is 


An even easier blogfest where you simply repost an old post you feel has merit and the world should see again. Click on the pic to head over to blogfest HDQ. 


For more on writing conditions, be sure to check out Eric's blog, who posted yesterday, and Michelle McLean who posts tomorrow. Awesome peeps every blogger should know!!


Thanks so much for stopping by here! I love your visits and comments. Are you doing any of these blogfests? Why not?? Tell me about your optimum writing conditions. It's alway interesting to know how others work. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Insecure Writing: When Passion Wanes

Today is the first Wednesday of the month and the day the Insecure Writer's Support Group posts on, well ... you guessed it: insecure writing.


Here's something I struggle with as an unagented author: finding the passion that drives you forward and maintaining it even when rejection or bad reviews can bring you down. Personally, I'm not familiar with the bad reviews part, but I've found the query process sometimes causes my passion to wane.

Here's why: After I write a story I become passionate about it. I strive to make it the best it can be and work on it for months. I take months off at a time so I can disconnect and come back to it with fresh eyes. In short, I love my stories or I wouldn't write them. We all do, right?

But then there's this subjective thing. Not everyone is going to love our stories. Just like I don't read every book out there. When an agent rejects my story, I find my passion start to dwindle. I don't want it to. If there's something wrong with the story, I want to fix it. Agents don't always tell you why they reject something, and many times that's because it's subjective. Another agent may love it.

Maybe  you already have an agent, but so far your agent hasn't been able to sell it. Or maybe your book is already out there but sales are dismal and/or reviews are less than stellar. How do you keep your passion from waning?

I don't know if there's any one trick. And I really hate the thought of losing passion. But maybe that passion is somehow tied in with the romantic notion of the writer's life. Same as how anyone who's been married for more than two years, knows passion is something that must be worked on.

For more posts or to join the group of Insecure Writers Support Group, head over to Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog. 

How do you keep the passion? Or do you replace passion for realism? Inquiring minds want to know!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Blogger For Hire!

That's right! I'm giving up the day job and becoming a professional blogger. I mean, why keep fooling myself, right? The day job pays some bills, but I just don't enjoy it like I should. That's why I'm throwing in the towel and focusing on something I love to do, blog.

And that's where you come in. I can help YOU. We all know how cumbersome blogging can be if we've got family, job, writing goals....


Do you have blog fatigue, but still want to keep up with your platform?? No problemo! I can help.
PK is here. Let me do the blogging for you!


You go about your daily routine, having more time for life's other demands, while I post nifty articles on your blog, respond to comments, and keep your following interested ... all under the disguise of YOUR name. No one will ever know!

Of course, my fee will be affordable, but let's not forget the thought and effort that goes into good blogging. And, of course, I have to make a living ... so I won't be giving away the store for free ... but I'll have a coupon day for those who're having trouble making ends meet.



Why pass up this golden opportunity? It's a win/win situation--you can relax knowing your blog is under control, while you pay me to do all the work so I can make a living doing something I really enjoy. YAY for professional blogging!

LOL

Total tongue in cheek, I hope you realize. Man, I wish I could blog for a living.... would be so fantastic.  

Just a little Monday fun for my friends out there in the blogosphere. :)

How many of you would jump on something like this?? Not having someone blog for you, but you blogging for a living? Ever daydreamed about something like that? 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Big Idea

What's the BIG IDEA anyway??


As promised, I'm sharing a series of posts with you on all the great info from the Mary Kole webinar I attended. Honestly, there was so much, that I'll have to break it up into several posts. Now, I'll be putting Mary's words into my own because that's just how I roll ... but know that all of it was inspired by Mary's awesome lessons on writing for kids.

To kick it off, I'll start with the basics .... and that is the BIG IDEA.

Big Story Idea, that is. In boiling down our stories there has to be a big idea or big question, or there's no story really. Pretty basic, but it's easy to toss so many ingredients into our story stew that we forget  the most important one of all.

So we figure out our BIG QUESTION or BIG IDEA and if you're like me, write the logline before the first draft so the BIG IDEA stays forefront in our mind throughout the drafting.
Next, we determine what idea will contradict our BIG IDEA--therein lies the prime conflict and heart of the story. It helps if we know WHY we want to tell our story. WHY the world will want to know about our particular characters and plot.
From this, we figure out our HOOK and the EMOTIONAL TURNING POINT. Each story must have them or who will want to keep reading?? In determining these basics, you have a rough draft for a query as well.

So what does a STORY ARC or plot look like:
* Inciting Incident
* Turning Point (or point of no return as James Scott Bell puts it)
* At least THREE attempts to solve BIG PROBLEM, each time stakes being raised.
* Black Moment (when all seems lost)
* Climax
* Resolution

And just a bit on the kid market, as advised my Mary Kole:

Right now, modern and future settings are working very well for MG. Some violence and romance are okay, but should be kept to a  minimal  for MG. For YA, romance is always powerful. Paranormal and dystopian are a tough sell right now. Some currents trends are light sci-fi, time travel, dream worlds.

Voice is vital for the teen market. And endings are best when bittersweet. The idea of sacrifice and the complexity of a world of possibilities is what draws these readers in. There needs to be BIG decisions made, consequences, disillusionment, and tests of courage and character.

Tune in next time for more on First Chapter Objectives from the uber amazing Mary Kole.

Tell me, have you noticed anything new trending in the kid market or market in general? What questions do you ask yourself before knowing if your story idea is worth writing?