What if…?


I woke up at 4:00 this morning with the most awesome idea for a short story in my head.  It’s slated for a new anthology J. Taylor Publishing plans to publish the end of this year.  I had started one a week or so ago but after this morning’s epiphany, the other one is outta here.  It’s so strong in my head, I think I might actually have it written by the end of the weekend.  I’m really, really excited about it!

For those of you who don’t know, my short story, THE AMULET OF ORMISEZ, was published by J. Taylor in their 2012 winter anthology, MAKE BELIEVE.  But, just because I was published once by them doesn’t mean I’m a shoo in for the next.  I still have to write a damn good story and submit like everyone else.  This time, though, I’m not as scared.  I’ve been the route before.  I know what to expect.  I am very, very excited about this one.

So, what’s it all about?  Can you write and submit a story, too?  You betcha!  J. Taylor opened up submissions for the anthology on December 6.  The stories all have to be Young Adult in genre and they have to follow the following prompt (from J. Taylor’s website):

What if tomorrow didn’t happen?

What if today never ended?
What if you were 18, about to start your life and everything you’d ever hoped to be, to do, to experience …
could never be yours?
If you sat in a chair, that’s where you’d be …
If you were driving down the road, that’s where you’d be …
If you were in surgery
or jumping off a cliff
or flying …
that’s where you’d be … forever.
Unless …

In this YA anthology, give us the twist, surprise us with the most amazing answer to restart time.

Tell us what happens as you feel the stop, as you feel the shift, as you realize, you know how to make everything go back to normal.

What would that normal be?

What would you do …

if you had the power to restart the world?

One More Day, our winter 2013 anthology, will feature Young Adult short stories based off the prompt above. No matter the setting, no matter the characters, something in the prompt above must influence the writing, the characters, the scene … the story.

Want to find out more?  Click here for all the stellar details.

 

Do I read what I write? Umm… Huh? Do I have to answer that?


Today I have the lovely and energetic author, Jennifer M. Eaton, with me to promote CONNECT THE DOTS, her new short story released by Still Moments Publishing in their For the Love of Christmas anthology.

Jennifer is going to talk to us about reading what she writes.  Are you guys ready?  Take it away, Jennifer.

christmas pine and stars

Well hi-dee-hoo neighbors!  Good to see ya! 

I’m here to selfishly promote my anthology “For the love of Christmas” offer some words of wisdom on a topic of Jenny Keller Ford’s choice.  I do this hoping you will buy my book out of the kindness of your heart, because Jenny told me to is such a good friend.

So… What is the topic?

Reading books in the genre that you write.

Ummm… Really?  Can’t I talk about something else?  No?  Ugh.  Okay… so here’s the scoop.

I know that everyone out there who calls themselves an expert tells you to read inside your genre.  Their reasons are totally sound:

  1. Get a feel for the market
  2. Make sure the story you want to write is not already written
  3. Learn from the style of others writing in your genre.

There may be other reasons, but since I’m going to debunk anyway, let’s just hit these three.

Let’s chat about these:

  1.  If I read books out right now, they were contracted at least a year ago.  So, let’s say vampires ar in… I write a vampire book.  So do 100,000 other people.  Publishers get tired of vampire books saturating the market and stop requesting them.  Now I’m skunked, right?  In my opinion, write what you want to write.  Write what makes you happy.  If it’s good, it will probably sell.  You are going to spend six months or more with these characters… why stress out about writing characters you don’t like for a market that might not be there when you’re done?
  2. Who the heck cares if the story is already written?  How many different versions of Red Riding Hood are out there?  Ideas are not copyrighted.  You can have the same idea as someone else. The trick is to put your own slant on it… and if I didn’t read a book like it (in the genre) I’d have to put my own slant on it, right?
  3. Now that’s just ridiculous.  You can pick up on anything from any genre and apply it to what you write in.  If you do it well, it will transcend genre.

Here’s the God’s honest truth:

  • Last Winter Red, in the Make Believe Anthology, is a Dystopian.  I don’t think I’ve ever read a dystopian, although I’ve seen movies.  In fact, I had no idea that is was Dystopian until someone told me.  Did not reading Dystopian hurt my story telling abilities?  Nope!  Seemed to work out fine for me!
  • Connect the Dots, in the “For the Love of Christmas” anthology, and its follow-up “A Test of Faith” coming out in January… they are both Contemporary Romances with heavy Christian influence.  Do I read Christian Romance.  Absolutely not! (Although there is nothing wrong with them) Romance as a whole is not my cup of tea, unless you mix some explosions in there.  I wanted to make my Romance “Connect the Dots” more interesting, so I decided to shove in a supernatural theme, and since it was Christmas, I went with God… Imagine me… putting God back in Christmas.  I’m such a rebel!  But that’s how this came about… I flexed a genre to make it interesting to me… and I didn’t have to read a bunch of stuff I didn’t like
  • Fire in the Woods is a contemporary YA Sci-Fi.  Nope, I don’t read it.  Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve even seen anything like this anywhere. Hmmmm.  That could be good, or bad.
  • Une Variente, which I am currently querying, is a Paranormal.  Now, I will admit that I have read a few Paranormal novels.  One of them was even a shape-shifter novel, like Une Variante.  I guess the only influence was that I thought “I can think up a better story than that” … and so I did.

What do I like to read?  Give me knights.  Give me Dragons.  Give me Elves.  Castles?  Oh Yeah!  Love it!

Why don’t I write it?  Well, I tried once, but since I read SO MUCH OF IT I could not come up with anything that I thought was original. The novel lays at the bottom of my closet, half-written.

See my dilemma?

No.  I will not start feverously reading inside the genres that I write.  The next book I pick up will be because it interests me… not because I need to do research.

And as for castles and dragons…. I’ll leave writing those to the people who do them best.

Do you read inside your genre?

christmas pine and stars

Thanks, Jennifer, and to answer your question, yes, I read inside the genre I write.  I also read outside the genre I write.  In fact, I read more in genre I don’t write than write in the genres I read.  Did that make sense?  

christmas balls and bells

Jennifer Eaton lives on the East Coast USA with her husband, three boys, and a pepped up poodle.  She hosts an interactive website www.jennifermeaton.com aimed at making all writers the best they can be.

Her Dystopian novelette “Last Winter Red” is available as part of the “Make Believe” Anthology from J.Taylor Publishing.  Her Christmas Romance “Connect the Dots” is available as part of Still Moments publishing’s “For the Love of Christmas” Anthology.  Both are available in ebook format from Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com and Smashwords.

christmas balls and bellschristmas balls and bells

Last Winter Red:  In search of a husband, Emily leaves the safety of the city and risks her life stepping into the outside world.  What she finds there will question the foundations of everything she believes in.

Connect the Dots:   Jill has no idea what she wants for Christmas, but when it looks like her best friend Jack is going to get exactly what he asks for, Jill makes a Christmas wish that will change both of their lives forever.

You can stalk follow Jennifer at the following locations.  Tell her I sent you.

Twitter:

Goodreads

Facebook

Web  

Blog

#MakeBelieve Blog Tour and other Goodies!


MakeBelieve-Blog-Tour-Button

December 3 kicks off the official #MakeBelieve blog tour.  I’m so excited.  When I found out 6 months ago that my short story, The Amulet of Ormisez, would be published in the anthology, December seemed so far away.  Now, it’s here and I can hardly contain my excitement.

In celebration, every day between December 1 and January 3, I’m going to give away to one lucky person who comments on my blog either an autographed Make Believe bookmark or a digital copy of the Make Believe cover signed by all the authors.  Then, on December 23, I will pick one random name from everyone who commented on my blog between December 1 thru December 22 and that person will win their very own e-copy of the Make Believe anthology, delivered to your Kindle or Nook in time for  Christmas (I hope).  🙂  It’s my way of saying Thank You for being there for me on this incredible journey to publication.  So mark your calendars and come back every day to increase your chances of winning.  Please feel free to check out all my blog tour dates here and stop by and say hi to my lovely hosts.

Also, please make sure you stop by the other author’s websites and blogs to see what they’re doing to promote the Make Believe Blog Tour.  They all have giveaways and contests going on, so make sure you visit often to increase your chances of winning something fantastic.  You can find their links below.

Jennifer M. Eaton

J.A. Belfield

Kelly Said

Lynda R. Young

Terri Rochenski

Once again, thank you so much for staying with me and reading my ramblings.  I appreciate every single one of you.  Big hugs to all of you.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays…and may the odds be ever in your favor to win a Make Believe goody!

Exciting Announcement!


On December 3, my short story, The Amulet of Ormisez, will be published in Make Believe and released into the big wide world.  My words, no longer mine but everyone’s.  It is every author’s dream.  No matter how many times you sign that contract, a glow happens inside knowing a publisher believed in your hard work and it will be read by hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions.  How very exciting!

A few early reviews have already trickled in and I’m thrilled to say they are all positive.  Have a look below:

Rachel Morgan at Goodreads writes:  “MAKE BELIEVE is a magical collection of short stories. Just the right size for someone like me who falls into bed too late every night and doesn’t have much time (or energy) left to read!…Fantasy-lovers should definitely check this one out.”

Jen – At Random says:  “…With mystery, deceit, fate, grief, greed, romance, and action each story has its own engaging elements but all are sprinkled with a morsel of magic. Definitely a great read!”

And, an overall 5 star review on Amazon.com had this to say about my story in particular:  “There’s lots happening in this story but to say much more would reveal too much of the tale. I also enjoyed this tale…as I have not read a great deal about selkies. I would look out for other books by the author and dependent on blurb seriously consider reading them…”  She gave the story 4/5 stars!!  You can read the full review here.

There is so much more I have to share with your about the anthology.  The official Blog Tour kicks off on December 3 and all the authors appearing in Make Believe are promoting tons of giveaways and contests, so make sure you visit each of their blogs/websites to see what’s going on. On Sunday, I will post information about my blog tour, AND share a little secret about what I’ll be doing the whole month of December to celebrate the release of Make Believe.  It’ll be pretty cool.

Also, if you want to participate in launch day celebrations and enter for your chance to win an e-copy of the Make Believe anthology, make sure you leave your website/blog information in the comments section of my blog between now and November 30.

Oh, and if you can’t wait until December 3 to get your own e-copy of Make Believe, a little bird told me Amazon.com and Barnes and  Noble just might have a little treat for your Kindle or Nook at this very moment.  You should head over and check it out.  Go on. You know you want to.  Take some friends with you.  Grab some coffee while you’re at it.  Kick your shoes off.  Relax.  Who needs to work today when you can Make Believe.

NaNoWriMo Winner


Well, it’s official.  I finished NaNoWriMo with over 78,000 words.  Here’s the proof:

Now, those of you who know me have seen the title before.  I’ve only been working on this novel for forever.   I even had a couple of people tell me I cheated because the novel was already complete.  I disagree and here’s why.

I finished the novel last year and sent it off to a publisher who came back and said, “We like it but we’d like for you to consider making changes X, Y and Z.” I considered the ideas and thought, “You know what, I can make those changes.”  So I began. The thing is, the more I wrote what the publisher wanted as far as “Z”, the more I strayed away from the story I wanted to tell.  The very crux of the story, the core, the glue that held the trilogy together was rapidly disappearing.  As I wrote, my gut told me I was going in the wrong direction.  Eight months into the re-write, I tossed it aside.  It wasn’t my story.  I was writing for someone else.  Something had to change.

I revisited what the publisher said about X, and Y and they were right.  Spot on, actually, and I decided to keep those changes.  The changes worked well and did make the story better, but I had to re-write once more to put back in what I removed.  It was harder than I thought.  I actually had to put the novel aside for a while, write some short stories, and let the ideas percolate on Dragon King.  Occasionally I would revisit it but couldn’t get in the right frame of mind to finish it.  That is until November 1, 2012.

I had no plans to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but the time presented itself so I went for it.  I knew in my gut I had to finish Dragon King or at least make some significant headway in its completion.  The first week or so started off really slow in the rewrite/revision…only 4,000 words in 5 days.  Not too good.  I had to give myself a pep talk and put my mind to work.  Today, I completed 78,266 words – rewritten, revised – from two manuscripts that didn’t work on their own, but together?  Well, let’s just say I hope people will like it when I’m done.  I don’t have that much more to complete and I hope to get it back out to beta readers after the first of the year and the holidays are over.

So, in my opinion, I didn’t cheat.  I like to think of it as having two elaborate outlines that I merged together into what hopefully will be something worth reading.  During this time, I also have been diligently writing on two short stories and another one that turned into a novella I titled SUMMERFIRTH.    Hopefully that one will go to betas soon, too.

So what about you?  Did you participate and finish NaNo?  Do you have plans to finish?  I would love to hear your struggles and successes.

MAKE BELIEVE Blog Tour Coming Your Way!


I can’t believe in less than a month my first short story to ever be officially published is releasing into the world.  THE AMULET OF ORMISEZ, one of six stories appearing in J. Taylor Publishing’s Make Believe anthology, will officially hit virtual shelves on December 3, 2012.  I never thought this day would come.

If you would like to participate in getting the word out, that would fantabulous!  Just snag the blog tour button in the side panel and leave your blog/website url in the comments below so people can connect with your blog.  The tour officially starts December 3  and runs through January 3.

Thank you all so much for your help and tagging along with me on this journey. Got a YA novel you need help promoting? Send me an e-mail and I’ll see what I can do to help you out.

And now for a little excerpt from THE AMULET OF ORMISEZ:

Felicity inched forward and sat next to him, fidgeting with a linen handkerchief. “Sire, please forgive my imposition. I understand if you wish to punish me—”

“Punish you? For what?”

“Eavesdropping, Sir.”

“Good heavens, girl, if I had a therap for every time I found someone spying on my conversations, I’d be as rich as the king. Now tell me about this amulet. What did you call it again?”

“The Amulet of Ormisez.”

Six Sentence Sunday


Today I’m offering up a sampling from a middle grade short story I wrote called Mrs. Billing’s Long Vacation.  I hope you enjoy.

***

It had snowed the night before and all morning — not too heavy, but enough to make driving hazardous and the kids cantankerous, at least that’s what mom said as we loaded up in the old station wagon.  When I arrived at school, the heaters were moaning and groaning, the classrooms were about as warm as glaciers, and the sun decided to take the day off.  By the time I got to my third period Science class, I felt like a popsicle stuck to the inside of a down coat.

Mr. Windem canceled his normal class lecture and shuffled us all to the pocket of warmth in the rear of the classroom, where he gave us slides of bugs to look at under magnifying glasses and microscopes. My slide consisted of an unusual bug, a fire beetle, which I soon learned was the brightest, bioluminescent insect in the world. It was also the source of my expulsion from Meadowlark Elementary.

Wednesday reflections: review of THE SEARCH, a short story by Susan Leigh Noble


From Goodreads:  For over a thousand years, telepathic cats known as STACs have faithfully searched for those with power over the elements looking for the one foretold to save the Land. None have questioned their duty to fulfill this ancient task.

But when Tosh’s latest charge is murdered because of his Elemental powers, Tosh considers abandoning The Search. Will a glimpse of the future destruction be enough to change his mind?

Review:

A few days ago I had the extreme pleasure of reading the short story “The Search” by Susan Leigh Noble.  Susan approached me through the World Literary Café, and asked if I would be kind enough to do a review for her.  Seeing as her story was a YA fantasy, how could I turn her down?

Let me say I really, really enjoyed the story.  It is a perfect story to introduce young readers to fantasy.  It wasn’t difficult to read, and in no way insults the reader.

What I didn’t like about The Search

I felt it lacked a definitive ending.  I prefer short stories that follow a standard story line:  meet main character, discover his plight, experience the conflicts, and resolve the problems.  The Search fulfills all of them except for the last.  There isn’t a firm resolution.  The story isn’t ‘wrapped up’.  Rather it sets up the next short story in the trilogy.  While this is perfectly acceptable to do, I was expecting a stand alone. This isn’t bad; just not what I was expecting.

My second minor niggle is the story starts off at a breath-taking pace only to fall more into a quiet third person omniscient narrative.  I was expecting more action, but none came that matched the opening scene.  While this isn’t a bad thing, I felt slightly let down that the rest of the story didn’t keep up with the same pace as the opening.

What I loved about The Search.

The Search is an original story.  The main character, Tosh, is a cat, but not any type of cat.  He’s a STAC, a breed of telepathic cats determined to find the foretold Elemental – a human with extraordinary magical powers capable of saving The Land.  While the theme is common throughout fantasy stories, the fact that the lead character is a telepathic cat is unique.  Ms. Noble perfectly captures the essence of cat-dom and excels in portraying her protagonist with clarity, wisdom and humor.  The reader almost forgets the protagonist is a cat until he stretches or purrs or swishes his tail.  I am equally impressed with the other characters in The Search, from the wolves, to a sweet three-year old girl, to the wonderful Jonah Glade who rescues Tosh from a terrible, unfortunate incident.  They are well thought out, none are extraneous, and their appearances all help Tosh decide what he wants and move forward in his personal quest.

The setting, the world in which we travel, is well laid out and easy to imagine.  In most cases, the journeys take weeks, not days.  There are thick forests, poor villages, posh towns, rushing rivers, blight, and danger lurking around every turn.  We can smell the air, touch the earth.  Every sense is awakened.  Tosh’s trek is not an easy one and we feel every bruise, every sore paw and muscle as we tarry alongside him.

The plot is well thought out and carefully constructed.  We begin the story with Tosh and his charge, Nolan, an Elemental, fleeing from some men that Nolan angered.  Nolan is soon murdered, leaving Tosh alone.  Tosh must set out on another search for another Elemental with the powers to save The Land, but Tosh is torn between taking on another charge or settling down and living the easy life of a cat.  There is a lot of internal conflict as well as external and plenty of factors that could sway him to go either way.

Ms. Noble has a wonderful way with words that allows the reader to suspend belief.  Never for a moment did I think “We have a talking cat.  Cats can’t talk.’  Tosh’s journey, his internal conflict, his humor, his fears, all resonated deep within me.  I felt his agony, his torment, his sorrow, his joys.  I felt like I was right there with him the whole way.

I would highly recommend this short story for everyone, but especially for young readers who are not quite sure if they are interested in the fantasy genre.  For those already fond of the genre, you will find the story both heart-warming, entertaining and an easy, relaxing read.  If you like stories narrated in a fairy tale style, The Search is for you.  I definitely want to find out what happens to Tosh so I will also continue on with the next short story in the series, the Summoned.

I give this short story a solid 4 stars.  It would have been five had it had a solid resolution in the end instead of a set up for the next story in the trilogy.  Again, the ending wasn’t bad; I simply prefer closure in a short story.

***

susannoble.JPGSusan Leigh Noble has always loved to read. She has been writing since childhood – anything from poetry, short stories, news articles and finally full length fantasy novels. She has always loved dragons, magic and cats so it is no wonder she put them all together in her “The Elemental” trilogy.

When she isn’t writing, Susan is an active volunteer in her neighborhood and at her children’s’ schools. She lives with her husband and two children in Texas.

Connect with Susan:

Blog:  http://www.susanleighnoble.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @SusanLeighNoble

Goodreads  

Amazon

#FreeviewFriday – #MakeBelieve


 

Hi all.  I was over at J.A. Belfield’s blog today and she posted a #FreeviewFriday of her short story, Escort to Insanity (read excerpt here) that will appear in the Make Believe anthology in December.  She invited those who wanted to participate to jump on board, so here I am!

Like Julie, I posted an excerpt from my short story, The Amulet of Ormisez, a few weeks ago.  If you missed it, you can read it here.  I’ll give you some time to read it.

Yay, you’re back!  Did you like it?  As you can see, Elton Fletcher has been warned  of changes in his brother, Cayden.  Let’s take a look at Elton’s and Cayden’s first encounter since Elton’s return home.

****

Ferris poured two glasses of apricot brandy and handed one to Elton. “Her name is Felicity. She is your brother’s wife’s handmaiden.”

The sweet, nutty liquor spewed from Elton’s lips. “Wife? Cayden married? When?  Why wasn’t I told?”

“Four months ago,” Cayden’s deep voice drifted from the open doorway, “and how could I tell you? You were gallivanting across the open seas, chasing some silly dream.”

Gone was the scrawny appearance of youth. In its place stood a chiseled, broad-shouldered man, clean-shaven with steely, wide-set eyes and an olive complexion. A black and red orchid had been inked into his rippled chest. Clad in white silk pajamas trousers and an open black and gold silk robe, Cayden faced Elton with the arrogance of a Greek god.  Elton was certain that if he’d met his brother on the street, he wouldn’t recognize him.

Elton didn’t like what he saw or the tone that lingered on Cayden’s words.

Things have changed.

****

There you have it.  No more, no less.  What did you think?

Do you want to share a #FreeviewFriday snippet of your published story or W.I.P?  If so, feel free to grab the hashtag #FreeviewFriday and post 8 – 10 sentences on your blog of a W.I.P. you’re working on or a published piece.  All I ask is that you link back to my blog and/or post a link to your post in the comment section below.  I’m all about spreading the word and driving up numbers.

Also, if you are interested in getting first dibs on the Make Believe anthology before anyone else, stay tuned.  Exciting details coming within a couple of weeks and you won’t want to miss them!

 

Summer Blogging Schedule


After much deliberation, I’ve decided to cut my blogging schedule back to two days a week – Monday and Thursday.

I have three novels in the works, one with a deadline of August 31, and another with a deadline of September 30 (might be pushing that one).  I’m also preparing for an exciting YA Author blog takeover happening here on July 22 – 30.  Mark your calendars; it’s going to be fantastic!  There is also marketing I need to do for MAKE BELIEVE, which includes my short story, THE AMULET OF ORMISEZ.

I do plan to read a lot over the summer, so there may be a few book reviews posted on off days.  Keep an eye out for my next review of Veronica Roth’s INSURGENT.

So, there you have it.  Enjoy your weekend and I’ll see you on Monday.