Thursday, March 31, 2011

More Notes on Pitching

Things to include in your pitch:

1. Who - as in the protagonist and their personality at the beginning of the story to serve as a baseline such as quiet, tomboy, etc)
2. When/Where - the setting, background
3. Why - inciting incident, the call to action
4. What - the stakes. What drives the story?
5. Hook - end with the promise of more action

Research market, category, genre, age group
Mention similar titles based on tone (not comparisons like my book is the next Harry Potter, instead my book will appeal to the readers of... or something along those lines)

For an elevator pitch, you need the MC + call to action + the challenge they face. (so the Who, Why, and What)

I've pitched several times face-to-face. With 3 agents and 1 editor. All of them requested pages. I've also gone to the Long Island Romance Writers Luncheon twice and pitched to agents there, although that pitching is more of the elevator kind instead of a sit down. The nice part about that is that all of the agents I spoke to said to send the project so I did (according to their guidelines) and was able to mention meeting them in the query letter. Each one then gave me a personal response (no form rejections).

I think the biggest keys are being calm but enthusiastic about your book, and using the time wisely. Have a dialogue with the agent instead of giving a long speech. It will take the pressure off of you. Trust me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fun Interview with Jen Wylie


Jennifer Wylie was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. In a cosmic twist of fate she dislikes the snow and cold.

Before settling down to raise a family, she attained a BA from Queens University and worked in retail and sales.

Thanks to her mother she acquired a love of books at an early age and began writing in public school. She constantly has stories floating around in her head, and finds it amazing most people don’t. Jennifer writes various forms of fantasy, both novels and short stories. Sweet light is her debut novel to be published in 2011.

Jennifer resides in rural Ontario, Canada with her husband, two boys, Australian shepherd a flock of birds and a disagreeable amount of wildlife.

Onto the interview!

What would you do if you didn’t have to work?
Write of course :) I'd also read a lot more, edits, writing and marketing have me so busy I don't have as much time for it as I'd like. :)

There's never enough time in the day! What did you want to be when you were 10 years old?
Hmm.. I think at that age I wanted to be a vet. I changed my mind quite often though LOL

So did I! What makes you laugh?
Most things :) Though I do have my grumpy moments, I usually try to find the humor in any situation. I've a rather twisted/warp of sense of it too, so I find some things funny maybe other people wouldn't. My boys make me laugh a lot, just being cute, or when they have their silly moments. :)

Aw, sons are the best! If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
Oooh this is hard one! There are soo many cool powers out there :D I've thought of this before, and honestly it depends on my mood I guess. I'll like to be able to teleport. That would be very cool, I'd love to travel and distance wouldn't matter. I think that would be the most useful one for me. Just for fun, I think it would be cool to fly, or control the elements or or or... :D

The power to teleport would be awesome! If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
The Not-So-Boring Mom :D

LOL Great title! If you had six months with no obligations or financial constraints, what would you do with the time?
I'd love to travel (to warm places!) and just relax. I hear people do that so think it would be fun to try. Though I might die of boredom. I'm rather a go go go person. My mother is always telling me to sit down and relax when I visit :) I think this would be a perfect time to visit a lot of my friends too, I have so many great ones I've met online and would love to meet!

That would be great, I know I love to travel. If you won $20 million in the lottery, what would you do with the money?
Pay off debts, maybe buy myself a few things, like an awesome computer :D, and a new house, because I HATE my kitchen. Most of it I would save. I'm very frugal and like to hoard.

I'd love to use some in promoting my writing, and attending conventions etc. That would be a fun treat!

Conventions are awesome!! You can never go to enough. What kind of people do you dislike?
Mean people. I don't understand why some people are cruel for no reason. I also can't stand bad manners. My parents raised me to respect others and mind my manners. So many people don't even bother with please and thank you any more. Drives me nuts!

Oh, I know! I'm trying to teach son #1 manners. He says thank you all the time. Still working on please, though. :) What makes you angry?
I don't get angry a lot. I'm a rather happy toss rainbows and sunbeams girl :) People taking advantage of that does piss me off. As does mean or rude people, and of course the general unfairness of life. I also get angry when driving (though I wouldn't exactly call it road RAGE) I hate when people don't signal when turning, and when they drive 20 under the speed limit. Grrr.

And now for a little about Jen's latest work.

Series: Tales of Ever
#1 Banished

Short Story
Published March 1 2011 by Echelon Press

About the Series:

Tales of Ever is part of a new short story program being put out by Echelon Press. 

Electric Shorts is a pilot program for reluctant readers. Each series contains six short stories presented once per month as electronic downloads (eBooks), much the same as a television series. Geared for kids between the ages of seven and seventeen, each short story will include relevant material to attract and captivate the young and reluctant reader. From historical settings to future fantasy, across all genres, Electric Shorts will strive to satisfy all interests. Electric Shorts will be released every Tuesday, with a new installment of each series appearing once a month. At only $.99 each, the short stories are affordable for all walks of life. 

Tales of Ever is a fantasy series written for  young adults (13-17 year olds).

For advance review copies and requests for interviews and author events for any of the participating authors, contact Karen L. Syed at Echelon Press

Series Blurb:

Welcome to Ever.

Ever, a deadly realm where feared, powerful and dangerous magical beings are banished. Though very large, it is not a world but a magically created prison. You can’t break through its circular boundary. Who, or what, made Ever? I’ve no idea. They were powerful, and cruel. That is all I can tell you.

Ever is like and unlike every other world. Nothing is safe. Safety is a dream. Ever is a nightmare. Few survive their first day. Nothing is what it seems. If something appears safe, it isn’t. If something appears dangerous, well it is, but probably more so than you think.

Ever has no sun, no moon, no stars at night. Time is told by the ever changing color of the sky where portals open, dropping new inhabitants, or new terrors. Time does pass. Don’t worry, you won’t get old. You won’t live that long.

The landscape changes without reason form dessert to jungles. The flora isn’t safe at any time. There is food, if you can find it without getting eaten yourself. Most plants and animals are poisonous. So is the water.

Are you afraid? You should be. This is the end. It gets worse of course. Remember the portals? Do think angels come through? Rarely the innocent do. Mostly, it is people of evil, people too powerful to kill. Their magic works here. The creature’s are worse.

Do you understand? Well you will eventually, or you’ll die. There is no escaping Ever. Ever.

Banished Blurb:

My life was normal. It sucked, but it was normal. At least until I got this new power. I can control fire. It would be cool if it wasn’t so dangerous and if I knew how to use it. Pretty much my sucky life took a nose dive once I got it. Yup, everything gone. I suppose I should be thankful some uncle I never heard of took me in. Turns out the whole family isn’t normal and my power is a lot more dangerous than I thought. I thought things couldn’t get any worse. I was wrong. They banished me to Ever.
If I’m lucky, I might survive my first day.



I see it everywhere.

When did it start? I don't remember. A year ago? Maybe more. I see it more now than before.

Flames dance just out of sight. They flicker on school lockers, in windows, anywhere.

Now they hover over the road as I run.

I glare at my watch as I round the block. School sucked today. I've run farther and faster than I usually do, trying to push all my stupid problems away. I wonder if Mom waited for me.

Probably not.

The last year I've been unsettled. Sometimes I get these hot flashes. I don't understand why. Mom gets them sometimes, too. She says not to worry about it.

I can't tell her about seeing the fire, or about the dreams.

We do Yoga and that helps. So does running. I've done a lot of both over the last year.

It hasn't been the best year. Mom lost one of her jobs. She found another, but it doesn't pay as much. Lack of money really stresses her out.

I hope she'll let me get a decent job soon. Something other than yard work and babysitting. I want to help. Mom looks so tired lately. She is really starting to worry me.

In a few months I'll be sixteen. I haven't asked about getting my driver's license. I'm sure Mom won't bring it up either. We don't have money for a car, anyways. We don't even have money for lessons or the stupid license test.

What will I do if something happens to Mom?

I have no idea. We don't have any really close friends. A few people we sort of talk to, like our old neighbor Mrs. Green. No family either, at least not that Mom ever talks about.

I don't have any friends at school. Even though I go to a public school, most of the kids there have money. We don't, and it shows. People can be so fickle. Of course, I don't really try to make friends. I fall into the quiet and shy group. Years ago I gave up trying. Too many times I thought I'd found a friend and then got stabbed in the back.

Seeing fire sets me apart too. I know other people don't see it, not like I do. Some are obsessed with it. I watch them play with matches and lighters outside at school.

I'm not obsessed. What I see scares me.

I slow when I reach our falling down house. Flames dance on the metal mailbox. I look away and dash into the broken porch.

"I'm back!"

Mom doesn't answer, but I didn't expect her to.

She had started without me. Sitting on a mat, her body is twisted into a Yoga position.

I started Yoga when I was little because it was fun. Later, I did it to spend time with Mom. That was after Dad disappeared and Mom took a second job. The only thing Mom ever makes time for is her Yoga.

Tucking away how much that hurt, I join in quietly.

My thoughts don't want to calm. All I can think about is how unfair everything is. If Dad hadn't disappeared, we wouldn't be living like this.

I glance over at Mom, wondering if anyone knew the truth. The police listed him as a missing person.

Dad left work to come home one night and never arrived. They found his car in the next county. Someone had set it on fire too. At least Dad hadn't been in it. We still don't know what happened to him. Would Mom move on if she knew?

I feel another hot flash coming on and grimace. Breaking my stance, I pull at my T-shirt.

"Misha," Mom says quietly. "Find your center."

Mom never speaks during Yoga. Weird. "I'm fine."

Starting another position, I pull something in my side. Today so isn't a good day.

Last night the dreams had been bad. Fire roared through them, burning everything. Everyone.

Turning and flopping onto my butt, I fan my face. I don't want to remember. Heat spreads through me. Maybe water would help. Water puts out fire.

Mom stands and walks over before I can get up. "This is important," she says firmly.

"I said I'm fine."

Mom tosses her red hair over her shoulder and reaches out to me.

I don't want to be touched and push her hand away.

Mom shrieks in pain.

I stare in shock as the welts form on her hand. They look like fingerprints. They quickly blister into burns.

I jump to my feet. Reaching out again, I quickly stop myself. I panic. The heat within me grows worse. "What did I do? I'm sorry!"

Mom sucks in a deep breath. "It's alright, honey. Let me deal with this." She pauses at the door. "We'll talk in a minute."

I nod dumbly, having no idea what's going on. Had I done that? How?

Flames flicker out of the corner of my eye. Fire.

I run to the kitchen and get a glass of water. I drink two cups before Mom comes back. Her hand is bandaged. "What's going on?"

She sits at the table and puts her face in her hands. Her hair falls around her.

My hair is the same shade of red as my moms. It looks like pale fire. Ours is like wild fire, curls and waves going off in every direction. Mom keeps hers really long. I cut mine shoulder length a few months ago. Dad's hair was red too, but darker and straight.

Mom has flecks of gold in her green eyes like me. I don't remember Dads eyes.

She looks up at me. The gold flecks remind me of tiny flames. "I was hoping you'd be free of this."

"Free of what?"

She lowers one hand and holds it out, palm up.

I stare at her hand, confused. "What?"

Mom doesn't say anything.

A moment later a flame is dancing over her palm. She curls her fingers in and out, playing with it.

I do nothing but stare at the fire she created. It's impossible to look away from the flame.

Fear runs through me. Mom made this fire. I see fire, dream of fire. I just burned Mom.

"The current term for it is pyrokinesis," she says after a while. "The ability to start fire from nothing, to control it, has been around forever."

"So what, you're like a firestarter?" I've seen the Stephen King movie. I've even read the book. Perhaps that's what freaked me out. It wasn't a very happy story.

Mom nods. She isn't happy either.

"How..." I don't even know where to begin.

Mom sighs as she curls her fingers over the flames. They disappear. She leans back in her chair. "In science class, you've learned how everything is made up of atoms?"

I nod.

"We can manipulate atoms to an excited state until they burst into flame. We can create fire from nothing by doing the same with atoms in the air."

I don't know what to say. Is she serious?

"Like a microwave," she adds.

"And you're saying I can do this too?"

She grimaces. "Yes. The first signs are heat changes in your body." She shakes her head. "It's a very dangerous gift, Misha. More like a curse. It's not easy to control."

I think of Dad. Of his burned out car. "Dad?"

She nods. "He was like me. Like us."

"But did it kill him?" I can't stop thinking of that movie. Of the girl who could kill with her fire. I remember my dreams of fire out of control. At least I know his death hadn't been my fault. I just got this darn power. Hadn't I?

Mom looks away. "I don't know."

I sit down at the table. My feet just don't want to hold me anymore. "Okay. So what now? How the heck do I control this?"

She smiles a little. "You're growing up so fast."

I stick my tongue out at her.

"You've got to learn to control it. Keep practicing. Stay calm and steady."

It's fun when you suddenly understand something. "The Yoga!"

She nods. "It helps. I'll help you, now that I know..." her voice trails off and she looks away. She looks tired again.

I wonder if she's worried I'll burn the house down. If I'll hurt her.

Looking at her hand, I wince. I already had.

Mom smiles a little. "You won't need to worry about doing that again, honey. I just wasn't prepared. Our gift can't fully be explained by science. We can control fire as well, move it, strengthen it, put it out. We can protect ourselves from it."

"Maybe I should learn that first?"

She chuckles. "A good plan."

So began my lessons as a firestarter.

Buy Links:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuning Your Pitch

At The Write Stuff conference, literary agents, Blair Hewes (Durnham Literary) and Katie Grimm (Don Congdon Associates) did a wonderful session on pitches. They gave a handout and here it is for you all to learn from:

Tuning Your Pitch: The Essential Notes

1. Create a Pitch

DO: Fiction - use WHO, WHERE/WHEN, WHY, and WHAT to brainstorm and the Main Character, Call to Action, Challenge they Face to focus. Non-fiction - tell us WHAT need your book is fulfilling, WHY we need to know now, and WHO you are. Practice your pitch to anyone who will listen.

DON'T: Try to summarize all of the plot points or use generaic sweeping statements that could apply to many projects. Don't dwell on personal details that aren't pertinent to your qualifications as a writer.

2. Come Prepared

DO: Practice some more. Bring a cheat sheet with key words in case you lose your place, some research on the agents you're about to meet, and any uestions you may have. Also, bring a pen and paper for taking notes.

DON'T: Bring material for the agent to take home like business cards o sample material - they'll tell you how to send your projects to them later.

3. Relax

DO: If you need a moment to settle in, ask a simple question to break the ice. As soon as you're ready, give your pitch, and speak slowly enough for the agent to be able to process it.

DON'T: Read your pitch word-for-word for the agent - it's okay if you need to refer to your notes, but simply reciting your pitch or giving the agent something to read is a waste of a great opportunity to have a fun and informative conversation about your work.

4. Listen

DO: Be ready for the agent to ask you some questions and give feedback - take notes if you need to. Someimes agents will give advice that might require revisions, so be open to this sort of dialogue.

DON'T: Dismiss their feedback outright. While you might not agree with their assessment, take the time to understand their points.

5. Ask

DO: Ask if the agent wants to see your material. If you discussed specific revisions, ask if they want you to revise first. Find out exactly how many pages they want, and how it should be delivered. Keep things professional regardless of the answer.

DON'T: Feel rejected if the project is not for the agent. There are hundreds of reasons that agents don't request projects, and their decisions is more about how they do business than your skill as a writer. You've just had the opportunity to practice your pitch and get some feedback.

6. Discuss

If there's time left, you can ask any other questions you haveL about your next book idea, publishing industry terminology, blogs to follow, or favorite books read latetly.

7. Have fun!

This was a great learning experience, and with so much helpful information, I thought you all would enjoy it. I'll post more information about the conference throughout the rest of the week, although tomorrow Jen Wylie visits my blog for a fun interview.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Creature Mondays

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Today's creature is the Manticore.

The Manticore is a hybrid creature whose name means "man-slayer." The beast comes from Ethiopia. It has the body of a lion, the face and ears of a man, a ferocious mouth with triple rows of teeth, and a tail that ends with poisonous spines. Definitely not a creature that sounds timid, although it sounds lyrical - its call sounds like a trumpet and a flute.

The Manticore is a fierce hunter and kills its prey by shooting quills from its tail. I'm surprised it doesn't use all of its teeth more often. *shudders*

Today, the Manticore is rumored to roam the jungles of Indonesia. There, the Manticore sometimes kills its prey with a bite or a scratch and likes to eat its victims, bones and all.

A particularly nasty creature, I think the Manticore would be a fearsome beast for an fantasy hero to face!

Be sure to check out my blog posts the rest of the week - I'm going to be sharing information and notes from The Write Stuff conference this past weekend. Also, be sure to check out my post from yesterday!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Please vote!

You all know about the wonderful blog called Adventures in Children’s Publishing, right? Well, the ladies there started an awesome new monthly feature - a five page workshop for authors. Five of us lucky authors posted our first five pages, and Martina and Lisa (and others) helped us wipe our 5 pages into shape!

Now now our polished pages are up and that's where you all come in. Read of the excerpts and vote for your favorite. The winner wins a book!

Please swing by the site and check out my pages and then read the other entries. Don't forget to vote! The poll is at the top, on the right sidebar. Thank you!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Only 12 1/2 Writing Rules You'll Ever Need

Another short post today.

My favorite rule is 12 1/2. :)

The one I break the most is 1. I don't always write every day. I try to, but it doesn't always happen. Regardless, I'm always thinking about my stories and trying to work out details and new scenes and dialogue, plus coming up with new ideas. So I think that rule should be changed.

Hm... maybe next week, I'll come up with my set of writing rules. New blog post idea! :)

What are you working on today? Writing? Reading? Have any plans for the weekend?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Going to a Writer's Conference This Weekend

Last year I went to a local writer's conference called The Write Stuff in Allentown, Pa. I had a blast and met several cool authors. I'm going again this year, and I can't wait! Like last year, I'll take plenty of notes at the different workshops and pass along the information onto you.

Have you ever been to a writer's conference? If not, would you ever go to one? What do you or would you hope to get out of a writer's conference?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Deep in my Editing Cave

I'm working hard on edits for MuseItUp Publishing as well as revising two of my own MSs so this blog post is going to be short and full of pictures. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Vonnegut on Writing and Thanks

In his book Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. listed eight rules for writing a short story:
  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
Now, obviously, these can also be applied to writing a novel, not just a short story.

The rule I that caught my attention is 4. Evert sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.

I think this is true, to an extent. If every single sentence revealed character or advanced the action, there would be very little scene setting in your story/novel.

I had the pleasure of being in Adventures in Children's Publishing's First Five Pages Workshop. Between that and the Show Me the Voice Workshop, I have received so much wonderful advice on the beginning of my story. Thank you all so much for your help! I don't plan on stopping there. I am doing to pour of the rest of that MS to true to infuse as much voice, character, and setting into the rest of the story as I did working on the opening.

I'll make sure that my sentences reveal character and advance the action. I'll also incorporate setting, too.

What do you think of Vonnegut's rules? Personally I disagree with #8 completely.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Show Me the Voice Blogfest and Creature Mondays

The awesome Brenda Drake is hosting an amazing contest. The amazing Natalie Fischer, who is now agenting at The Bradford Literary Agency, has agreed to be the judge for her Show Me the Voice contest.
Natalie is all about the voice and wants you to show it in your first 250 words of your finished manuscript. When critiquing each others' entries, look for voice and please keep your comments nice and helpful, not snarky.  

Click Here for more details
So without further ado, here are my first 250 words. Anny comments/suggestions/critiques would be greatly appreciated! This is a slightly different version than the one I posted yesterday, I hope this one is better!
Name: Nicole Zoltack
Title: Riona's Pen
Genre: YA Fantasy

Mr. McMichaels hated me ever since he confiscated a story I wrote during class yesterday. A story about an evil goblin warlord. Named McMichaels.

I guess I can't blame him, but wouldn't most English teachers love students who wanted to be authors? But no. I was lucky he only threatened me with detention. Needless to say, I wasn't looking forward to English class today, and I walked there slowly.

The crowded hallway thinned out as kids slammed puke-green lockers and ducked into their classrooms.

"Riona?" someone called.

I turned and spotted Artex, the new guy. He smiled and waved a piece of paper in his hand. Wow, were his teeth white! "Hi." I smiled back, unsure why he was talking to me. After all, I was decidedly unpopular. I refrained from shuffling my feet. Good-looking boys always made me nervous.

He jogged down the hall to me, and a lock of dark hair fell across his forehead, giving him a tousled look. Oh, yeah, Artex was definitely attractive. "I think this is yours." He handed me the story I had started in Spanish class.

"Thanks." I shoved it into a notebook. "I guess I accidentally left it behind."

"You really wrote poor Roderick into a tight spot. Those bloody pirates are more than he can handle." He fell into step beside me.

My cheeks grew hot. "You read it?" Even though I dreamed of seeing Riona Streaming on the spine of a book, I didn't have the courage to allow someone else to read my writing.

And now for a new creature for Creature Mondays.
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The salamander is an elemental of fire. Thin, red, and dry-skinned, they are like wisps of a flame and have a wrathful disposition. Some say that salamanders look like lizards.

In the Middle Ages, salamanders were believed needed for fire to exist. Matches, flint, nothing would be able to lit a spark without a salamander. da Vinci wrote that salamanders ate fire.

Supposedly, salamanders are produced by fire. To become immune to being burned, one should smear themselves with salamander blood. It is believed that this notion came about from a real lizard that crawls out from its home within a log of wood once the log was burned. The lizard's name? You guessed it - salamander.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Show Me the Voice Blogfest

The awesome Brenda Drake is hosting an amazing contest. The amazing Natalie Fischer, who is now agenting at The Bradford Literary Agency, has agreed to be the judge for her Show Me the Voice contest.
Natalie is all about the voice and wants you to show it in your first 250 words of your finished manuscript. When critiquing each others' entries, look for voice and please keep your comments nice and helpful, not snarky.  

Click Here for more details
So without further ado, here are my first 250 words. Anny comments/suggestions/critiques would be greatly appreciated!
Name: Nicole Zoltack
Title: Riona's Pen
Genre: YA Fantasy

Mr. McMichaels hated me ever since he confiscated a story I wrote during class last week. A story about an evil goblin warlord. Named McMichaels.

I guess I can't blame him for that but wouldn't you think most English teachers would love students who wanted to be authors?

The crowded hallway slowly thinned out as kids entered their classrooms. I passed by a few students retrieving books from their hideous pale puke green lockers on my way to English class.

"Riona?" someone called.

I turned and watched Artex approach, a piece of paper in his hand. Despite being a recent transfer student, he was already popular. "Hi." I smiled, noting how white his perfect teeth were, unsure why he was talking to me. After all, I was decidedly unpopular. Plus, good-looking boys always made me nervous.

"I think this is yours." He handed me the paper.

I skimmed it. Yes it was mine, a story I had started in Spanish class. "Thank you. I didn't realize it was missing."

"Poor Roderick. You really wrote him into a tight spot. Those bloody pirates are more than he can handle." He fell into step beside me.

My cheeks grew hot. "You read it?" Even though I dreamed of seeing my name, Riona Streaming, on the spine of a book, I didn't have the courage to allow someone else to read my writing.

He laughed and brushed back a lock of his dark hair from his forehead. "How else did I know it was yours?"

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Agent Pitch Contest

Super agent Ammi-Joan Paquette has so kindly offered to host a pitch contest on YAtopia. And seeing as she's currently closed to submissions, this is an opportunity you simply CANNOT miss out on.

It's really quite simple what you have to do. Ready?

1) Be a follower of the blog. Nice and easy.

2) Blog about this contest and include a link with your entry. If you don't have a blog, you may tweet or make a facebook status. But they prefer blog.

3) Create a TWO SENTENCE pitch. And not a massively long run-on sentence either. Two concise sentences that will hook Joan to your book and have her desperate to read more.

4) Include the opening line of your manuscript.

5) Manuscripts that you submit should be completed. It is left up to you whether you decide to submit a half finished manuscript. You'll have to deal with it SHOULD Joan request you send her the full.

6) This contest will be capped at either 150 entries OR will end midnight on the 24th March.

7) Winners to be announced (along with prizes) on 31st March.

8) Only childrens and young adult categories will be accepted.

Good luck!! Post your entries on YAtopia's blog!I did! Good luck!

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Power of Words

Son #1 loves to babble yet. His vocabulary is growing with each day but he still says a lot of made up words. Two nights ago, when we're were telling him that we love him before putting him down in his bed for the night, he finally said those three little words back.

"I love you."

It came out more like "I lub u" but it completely melted my heart.

Now how does this relate to writing?
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We should strive to make each line of dialogue to have impact. It doesn't always have to be life-altering, but it should have meaning. It should also be unique onto that character - i.e. each line should only have been said by that character, no one else should have/could have said it. This goes to voice. If each character has been written to be unique and has a unique enough voice, their dialogue would be their own, dependent upon their character. If they have an accent, it would give their words flavor. If they have little education, they wouldn't use proper English all the time. Etc...
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Now if only he would say "I love you, Mommy" I would be a puddle on the floor.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

POV Slippage

I don't know about you, but before I started to write seriously, I didn't mind head-hopping. Didn't bother me in the least.

Now I know better. And it bothers me. Really bothers me. Like through the book across the room bothers me.

It took me some time before I grew to hate head hopping. When I first wrote Woman of Honor, there were a few instances - ok, more than just a few - where I head-hopped. Whoops!

I recently got my edits back for Champion of Valor. I was so pleased that there was only one instance of POV slippage (of course I wish that I had caught them all but still only missing one is definitely a step in the right head-firmly-attached-not-going-anywhere direction).

The offender: Her face paled.

At first glance this might not seem like a POV slip. I, for one, can actually feel myself go pale, but that's just it - I feel it, I can't see it. Her face paled is fine when the her in question is not the person whose POV the scene is in. But in this case, it is. So yes, this is a POV slip.

How did I fix it? A wave of weakness washed over her, and she could feel the blood drain from her face.

Does head-hopping bother you? What areas have you tackled to overcome to make your writing better?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I would have given anything to be like....

In honor of the release of Kirsten Hubbard's Like Mandarin, a bunch of bloggers are talking about who they would have given anything to be like, either when they were a teenager or now.

When I was a teenager, I would have given anything to be like...

my older brother. He had it all, especially a driver's license and a car.

Cher from Clueless. Come on, she was blond, popular, and the boys fell all over themselves for her.

Now I would give anything to be like...

Elana Johnson. Her blog is awesome, I can't wait to read Possession, she inspires me.

LiLa. Awesome sister bloggers. I never laugh when reading a blog post more than when I'm reading one of theirs. I so want to write a story with my sister now. Either sister (I have two, both younger than me)

JK Rowling. If I could be an eighth as successful as her, I would be thrilled.

So who would you have given anything to be like when you were a teenager? And who would you give anything to be like now?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Drumroll please!

And the winner is....

Susan Gourley/Kelley!

Congratulations Susan! I hope you enjoy Seeing for the First Time!

For those of you who didn't win, I still have something for you. If you agree to post a review of Seeing for the First Time, I'll send you a coupon code for a free copy. You can post the review on your blog, on Goodreads, on Amazon, anywhere. The first five people that agree to this will receive the coupon.

Congrats again Susan! Happy reading!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Creature Mondays

Credit for picture

The Undines are elementals of water. They look like women though they sometimes take the form of a fish or a snake. They have cold, soft skin and their beautiful voices can be heard over a rushing waterfall. They live in forest pools, lakes, and streams.

Undines can take on a completely human form to marry a human man. In some stories, they are motivated to do this to gain a human soul. They are notoriously vengeful against a human lover who betrays them. For instance, a German myth said that an "Ondine" fell in love with a knight who swore to be faithful to her with every waking breath. When she found him asleep in the arms of another woman, she cursed him so that if he ever fell asleep again, his breath would be taken from him and he would die.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Read an EBook Week Giveaway!

In  honor of this week being Read an eBook Week, I'm holding a contest.

The prize?

An eBook of course!

I'm giving away a copy of my newest release, Seeing for the First Time. It's a paranormal YA short story.

Let's see... how to enter

Must be a follower.
Leave a comment.

Bonus entries:
+1 follow me on twitter
+1 fan my facebook page
+3 blog/tweet/fb/somehow get the word out (leave the link in your comment)

I'll draw the winner on the 15th.

Have you read an ebook this week?

And another contest you all might want to enter (or not so that I have a better chance of winning, lol) Click on the banner for more details.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I'm busy lurking in my editing cave between edits for Champion of Valor (I hope to have the cover soon!) and my edits for MuseItUp so this lame post is all you get today. Sorry! But be sure tocome back tomorrow.

Here's a hint why - this week is read an ebook week so that just might mean contest time!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Classic Insults

A list of real insults, insults that had meaning instead of four letters or finger gestures.

The exchange between Churchill & Lady Astor: She said, "If you were my husband I'd give you poison," and he said, "If you were my wife, I'd drink it."

A member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease." "That depends, Sir," said Disraeli, "on whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."

"He had delusions of adequacy." - Walter Kerr

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." - Winston Churchill

"A modest little person, with much to be modest about." - Winston Churchill

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure." - Clarence Darrow

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary." - William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).

"Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?" - Ernest Hemingway (about William Faulkner)

"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it." - Moses Hadas

"He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know." - Abraham Lincoln

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it." - Mark Twain

"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends." - Oscar Wilde

"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend.... if you have one." - George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second... if there is one." - Winston Churchill, in response.

"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here." - Stephen Bishop

"He is a self-made man and worships his creator."- John Bright

"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial." - Irvin S. Cobb

"He is not only dull himself, he is the cause of dullness in others." - Samuel Johnson

"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up." - Paul Keating

"There's nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won't cure." Jack E. Leonard

"He has the attention span of a lightning bolt." - Robert Redford (one flash & it's gone. ha)

"They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge." - Thomas Brackett Reed

"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily." - Charles, Count Talleyrand

"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him." - Forrest Tucker

"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?" - Mark Twain

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork." - Mae West

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go." - Oscar Wilde

"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts... for support rather than illumination." - Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music." - Billy Wilder

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it." - Groucho Marx

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

New Release! Seeing for the First Time

Seeing for the First Time is released today from Echelon Press.


For the last ten years, Ana has spent summers with her Gram. With nothing to do, the closest beach two hours away, and Gram, who Ana is convinced is crazy, always in her garden talking to things that aren't there, Ana is bored out of her mind.

One day, Ana sees strange colors floating around Gram as she works in her garden. Gram says they're fairies. She can "See" them, and there are others who can see things. Ana's a Seer, too.

When Gram gives Ana a book that explains about the many different creatures, like selkies, unicorns, vampires, and others, Ana gets curious. She is shocked when she comes across the entry about famous werewolf hunting parents.

Determined to learn where she fits in, Ana's summer gets a lot more exciting as she sets off to find out what she can "see." Only problem is, she's not sure what to do when she finally discovers the truth. And she's not sure she'll live to tell anyone.


Ana's Gram was crazy. Like certifiably crazy. And she'd spent every summer since she'd turned six at her Gram's, with a front row seat to her Gram's descent into madness.

Year number ten with Gram and she still had nothing to do. Ana exited the small cottage. "Gram, I'm bored. Can I borrow your car?"

No answer. Ana headed to her Gram's favorite location, the garden out back.

Sure enough, she found her mom's mother covered in more dirt than her potted plants. With her long white hair in a tight bun, dressed in a T-shirt and black pants, Gram wore a relaxed as she pulled out weeds. "You're getting lax, Arianna."

Arianna? Who's that? Ana cleared her throat. "Gram, can I go to the beach?"

Gram patted her hands and wiped her forehead, leaving behind a streak of dirt. "You arrived yesterday and spent all day with your friends. Now you want to leave me all alone while you drive the two hours to the beach?"

Ana pouted. "Please, Gram? There's nothing to do here."

Gram sighed. "You could help me with my garden."

Ana grimaced and glanced down at her pale pink tank top and white mini skirt. Hardly working in the dirt clothes. "Can't Arianna help?" Ana muttered so her Gram couldn't hear.

"What's that, dear?" Gram had already gone back to work.

Ana cringed and felt guilty. "Let me change my clothes and then you can tell me what you need help with."

Gram beamed, and Ana felt even guiltier. Just because Gram saw and heard things no one else did, didn't mean Ana shouldn't spend time with her. After all, that's why she'd come to North Carolina while her parents traveled through Europe.

Ana ran into the cottage and changed into a T-shirt and jeans. She stood at the back screen door, wrestling her long curly blonde hair into a ponytail when she saw small red, purple, and blue lights flying around her Gram.

Ana rubbed her eyes and looked again. The lights were still there.

She gulped. Maybe being crazy ran in the family.

Ana opened the door and slowly walked over to Gram.

Gram looked up. "Is something wrong, dear?"

Ana shook her head.

Gram pushed back on her thighs. "Your face says differently. If you really want to go to the beach that badly, go ahead."

A small red speck landed on Gram's hand. Ana stared at it, afraid to speak, not wanting to draw attention to her craziness.

"Oh," Gram said with understanding in her soft voice. Her face broke into a wide smile that eased many wrinkles. "You can see the fairies, too."

Ana shook her head again. "N-no."
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Monday, March 7, 2011

Creature Mondays and Short Story

Credit for picture
Today's creature is the harpy. Yet another offspring from Echidna and Typhon, harpies are usually depicted as ugly, hideous creatures with bird bodies and a woman's face. They suffer from a hunger that can never be satisfied.

According to Greek mythology, Phineas angered Zeus by revealing too much about the future with his gift of prophecy. As his punishment, Phineas was sent to a land where a huge banquet was always set. But whenever he sat down to eat, harpies would swoop down and steal his food and spoil the rest. This continued until Jason and the Argonauts came. Two of the Argonauts could fly as they were sons of Boreas, the North Wind. They chased away the harpies, but did not kill them at the request of their sister Iris the rainbow goddess after she promised that the harpies would not plague Phineas anymore.

Most pictures of the harpies are much uglier than this one, but I liked this one so much that I posted this one.

If you have time, why don't you stop by the Raven and the Writing Desk blog? I wrote a short story for you all to enjoy called Too Much Luck. I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Fool for Romance Contest - Win a Kindle!

I know I don't usually post on Sunday's but I'm part of the Fool for Romance Contest! Visit here for the full list of authors and prizes, including a Kindle! To be entered, leave a comment on my blog. It would be great if you could follow me, if you don't already, and feel free to friend me on FB (or become my fan) and goodreads and follow me on twitter.

Good luck!

Friday, March 4, 2011

New Job!

I am now a junior editor at MuseItUp Publishing!

I'm very excited about this although it is definitely going to test my time management skills so that I can still get done everything I want to as far as my own writing is concerned.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

“Light of the Heart” By Regina Andrews


A stained-glass artist based in Boston, Cascade Preston’s world is a kaleidoscope of color and beauty. She has overcome a dark childhood, deeply shadowed by domestic violence, in the town of Sterling Lakes. When she is approached to design new windows for a refurbished church in Sterling Lakes, she ignores the request. But when the no-nonsense Project Manager Dan McQuay appears looking for the window plans, the project takes on a whole new light. Will Cascade be able to keep the dark, protective cocoon she has built around herself intact, or will McQuay break through and shine new light into her heart? Is it possible that God’s plan for Cascade will lead her to forgive the town that ignored the situation in her family?


The afternoon class at Tanglewood Women's Prison was a spectrum of tension, as separated and splintered as a beam of light refracted through a prism. Cascade Preston held her student's template assignment up to the light overhead, and spoke carefully on the quality of the stained glass project.
"With two lights, or openings, Brenda, I would say your idea of a church window for this one would be correct."
Sighing, the student replied, "So you think I'm making progress?"
"Of course." She tossed her honey-colored curls behind her shoulders. "Don't you?"
Brenda snorted. "Heck, no. I'm in here for domestic assault. What do I know about progress? My life is over."
This stopped Cascade in her tracks. "Look, we all make mistakes. God has told us that sinners should flock to him. What do you think? "
Brenda shrugged. "God has his own agenda. We'll see what the parole board says about mine in two weeks."
"For now, let's focus on next week's class. Bring me a flower for that one.”
"Where are we supposed to get a flower?" someone muttered.
"Draw one, stupid," Brenda answered.
"Bye, ladies. Take care."
"See you." Sad-eyed, Brenda gave her a high-five as Cascade walked past her.
Cascade's heels clicked efficiently with her every crisp step, and she made sure to shuttle as closely as possible alongside the beefy guard who escorted her from the holding room. Getting into her Corolla, she whispered a prayer. "I don't think I'm doing any good here, Lord, but I feel you telling me to stick with it. So I will. Maybe this is the kind of thing that saved my mother." She tried to block the images of her mother's bruises from her mind, but they wouldn't go away. They never did.
The drive back into Boston passed by quickly, without too much traffic. "Lean on Me" blasted from her audio system, and she sang along with all her heart. At twenty-seven, she knew it was technically an oldie, but to her, it was fresh and filled with meaning. Cascade wondered as she sang what it would feel like to have someone to lean on, because she had always been alone.
"There's only one thing that could make tonight perfect," she mused as she pulled into the parking area for her condo complex, "and that's not going to happen, for sure."
Images of her long-gone fiancé, Kevin, came into her mind and heart. Where was he this fine June evening? More importantly, why were things so much better for him without her in his life?
A form crossing her path brought her back to reality. Her eyes narrowed as she noticed someone walking towards her car. A guy -- a big guy she did not recognize.
She shaded her eyes from the late day sun. Dark hair and outdoorsy looks. Work boots. "Nope,” she murmured to herself, “I don't know him."
Hopping from her car, she said, "Can I help you?"
"If you're Cascade Preston, you sure can."
He folded his arms across his chest. With all those muscles moving, Cascade could only imagine the stress put on the seams of his light blue cotton shirt.
"And you are..."
"Dan McQuay." He extended his arm towards her. "From the site."
"Hi." Cascade pumped his strong hand, lost in his sky blue eyes. "What site?"
He tilted his head. "The construction site."
"I'm not following you."
He looked at her steadily. "I'm project manager for the retrofit on the church in Sterling Lakes. The one that you're doing the windows for."
Cascade’s heartbeat quickened. Just hearing the name of the town where she grew up made her anxious and tense. "It seems there's been a misunderstanding. No way am I working on anything in Sterling Lakes." She started to bustle past him. "Now if you'll excuse me?"
"Don't run away, Ms. Preston. There's a problem here."
His tone of voice got her attention. He sounded like he cared... about her. That was crazy. She was a total stranger to him.
She nodded. "Apparently there is a problem, you're right. I don't know what you're talking about. Like I said, I'm not doing any work in Sterling Lakes, and I never will. That's the last place in the world I ever would go."
He gave a slow whistle. "Well, that's a loaded speech if I ever heard one."
In spite of herself, she smiled. "I didn't mean to get all hot and huffy, but it is how I feel, and I have my good reasons."
He eyed her intently before he finally spoke. "Understood. The thing is, your name is on the plans that I have, and my crew is ready to get going. We haven't heard from you, and we need to have a job meeting. Mostly, we need your specs."                
Cascade noticed the strong line of his jaw when he spoke, and oh, those bluer than blue eyes of his were so easy to get lost in. She swallowed.
"I don't know what to tell you. I'm not contracted for that job. Your project executive should be able to answer your questions." She toyed with the zipper on her oversized leather shoulder bag as she watched thunderclouds roll across his handsome face. "Look, why don't you give me his name? I'll check things out at my studio in the morning and get in touch with him. Maybe I can get to the bottom of this."
"Yup." He took his hands out of his pockets. "Here's my business card, and here's his. Try and remember, every day is money to me."
"Okay, I know. I'm in business, too, so I get it. I know every job I'm on, and this one is not on my list. Let me see if I can find out why I'm on the list of subcontractors... if I really am."
"You are."
"I shouldn't be, so there's a mistake. I never even sent in a bid."
"At least we found out something tonight," he said with a shrug. "Other than you being a whole lot prettier in person than in the pictures all those magazine articles and newspaper stories print about you."
Cascade’s face warmed up at his compliment. "Now you're trying to butter me up."
"Just stating the truth, plain and simple like I always do, Ms. Preston. That's my way. Thank you for your time."
"You're welcome."
He started walking over to his truck. "Talk to you tomorrow."
"Right. And there's one more thing."
He questioned her with a wondering look.         
"Please call me Cascade." Her smile lingered as she watched him drive off into the Boston twilight. Too bad this job was in Sterling Lakes. It might not be that bad to do a job with Dan McQuay. Not bad at all.


A resident of Providence, RI, Regina grew up in nearby Barrington. After graduating from Providence College she attended the University of Delaware, eventually earning her Master’s Degree in American Civilization from Brown University. She is inspired by anything to do with nature, and she and her husband enjoy visiting nearby Cape Cod.

Regina’s hobbies include Travel, Museums, Theater, Classical Music, Choral Singing and Gardening. She is a radio host for In-Sight, an association dedicated to providing services to the visually impaired of all ages.