Blizzard of 2015!

I LOVE Blizzards and this week we had our first of 2015!!

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Penny’s first big snow!!

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my little snowball looking at the snow!

My block.

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I loved it!

I know a lot of people love writing to certain weather, but I actually don’t write during storms, since I’m always afraid I’ll get on a huge roll and the power will go out (this luckily did not happen!)

Are you a weather writer??

What is Your Weakness?

I was watching American Idol the other day and I noticed something: there are the contestants who love critiques, and then there are the ones who HATE THEM WITH A FIERY PASSION. They think their singing is already so perfect, so how dare Harry Connick Jr. criticize it?

As artists we LOVE to highlight our strengths. Shouting out our bad points won’t get us agented or sell our books, after all. But I firmly believe we can’t be our best until we acknowledge our weaknesses. Only when we pinpoint what needs help can we actively work to change it and better ourselves.

So, in the interest of making us all thoroughly depressed, I’m going to force us to highlight all our bad writing qualities today! (It’s fine, we’ve all got them, and we’re all friends here. This is a no judgment zone.)

Here are mine:

Long sentences.

Not necessarily run-ons, but I have a bad habit of jamming one too many descriptive words in a sentence. Sometimes knowing the color of something isn’t necessary!

Cartoony characters.

Whether it’s a protagonist who’s too preditably “evil” or says something “sinister” or a side character I fall short of fully developing, I’m learning to make sure every single person in a MS is authentically REAL. Even if they’re not a major character, they still need a real history (even if no one knows their backstory but me.)

I think a great example of this is Monica, in Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever. She repeated the same three words throughout the ENTIRE BOOK. It was brilliant and could have gone so, so wrong, but Sarah Dessen really created an in depth character.

Lack of tension.

I hate confrontation and uncomfortable moments. Therefore I don’t like putting my characters in awkward situations. Which results in boring moments. Now I’m learning to list out all the tense moments ahead of time before drafting.

Info Dump.

Since the ideas come when they come, I just word-vomit them onto the page. Learning how to trickle out backstory definitely doesn’t come easy for me.

Head Hopping.

My instinct, much like the info dump, is to introduce everyone in my main character’s life all at once. “Hey, this is my mom, dad, uncle, cousin, best friend, boyfriend, mailman…” Doesn’t work!

So, what are your writing weaknesses??

52 Likes Book Blast!

If you like dark, edgy YA then this is for you! I flew through it. Congrats to Medeia!

 

52 LIKES, Evernight Teen, 2015
Purchase from Amazon, Evernight Teen (vendor links will be updated on the author’s site)

After a brutal rape and near-murder, Valerie wants to get past feelings of victimhood from both the assault and her history of being bullied. She’s plagued by not knowing the identity of her rapist and by the nasty rumors in school about that night. Valerie follows clues from ghostly entities, past victims of the rapist-murderer, contacting her through a social media site—why do all of their eerie photos have 52 likes under them? Their messages are leading her to the mystery man, although he’ll put up a fight to remain hidden.

Find Medeia – YA and MG Author

 

Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terrible Titles Tag!

I was tagged by the awesome Sioux Trett, (if you’re not already reading her blog, well, you should start, because she is awesome…and while you’re there, check out the cover reveal for her novel, Drawn In…it’s seriously such a gorgeous cover. You will just stare and stare in envy, for hours!)

The idea for this tag is to scroll through your MS and randomly stop 8 times, and wherever your cursor lands, those few words are your TERRIBLE TITLES! Simple, right? Let’s see what we come up with in my WIP!

Here we go:

1. Opposite Side of the Love Seat

2. A Plate of Milano Cookies

3. Scuffed Faux Stoop

4. A Pinterest Board Come to Life

5. The Whole Restaurant

6. Table Read

7. Inverted Blonde Bob

8. The Critical Eye.

ha, I think #3 and #4 are my favs. Oh and #7. Have you done this tag? If not and you would like to, consider yourself tagged!

In other news, I’ve been true to my word and have written every single day since the start of the year. Even days when I didn’t feel like writing. You know those days. The ones where all we care about is the end result and we forget to enjoy the journey.

But I’m happy to say I’m pushing through and working on some scene or any part of the MS every day, and I’m happy because I’m making significant progress this way!

How is your writing going so far this year???

The Book of My Heart (As Told Through Boy Band Gifs)

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I see the phrase “The Book of My Heart” used a ton in the writing community. As authors, we probably all have one: that one special book that we have more love for than the rest.

Maybe it’s a protagonist we love, an antagonist we love to hate, or a swoon-worthy love interest. Or maybe it’s the fact that the MS is high concept, unique, and contains your best turn of phrase ever. Whatever it is, it’s got that something special.

For a while I was having a tough time moving on from the Book of My Heart.

I knew I had to let it go and move on to something bright and shiny, but every time I started that new something it was halfhearted. I kept stopping, and toying with the idea of doing yet another revision on that first book. Even brainstorming on a basic, simple IDEA for something brand new was making me miserable.

Every time I tried to work on it, I felt like I was giving up on The Book of My Heart. I would look back on how long it took me to learn all the rules of writing a novel so I could effectively break those rules; how long it took to weave a unique plot, and then string together themes, character development, tension, conflict, and I would FREAK OUT. How could I ever do this again? It was SO HARD the first time around. I knew I had to try though. Life is short, and I’m a writer after all. What good is my dream if I’m not actively working toward it?

But working on something new always just felt weird. Then something else happened: I started to feel guilty for not even trying with these new characters and this new story. It got to the point where I was altogether dreading sitting down to work on the new project.

But you know what? With time and patience, I’m falling in love with my new MS! I’m well into it now, and I’m happy. I like my plot. I like my characters. It’s starting to flow. I’m falling asleep with ideas popping up in my brain, forcing me to get up and jot them down, and I wake up every day excited to work on it. Now when I pull up my Word Doc, I realize it’s becoming the second Book of My Heart.

This is a different MS and THAT’S OKAY. It SHOULD be different.

So maybe I’ll try and make ALL of my books mean this much to me. After all, writing them is hard, so falling in love with them shouldn’t be.

Do you have that one special Book of Your Heart? Or do you love all your book babies equally??

Chatting with Stephanie Faris!

25 Roses by Stephanie Faris

Mia moves from the shadows to the spotlight when her matchmaking plans go awry in this contemporary M!X novel from the author of 30 Days of No Gossip.

Mia is used to feeling overlooked: her perfect older sister gets all the attention at home, and the popular clique at school are basically experts at ignoring her. So when it’s time for the annual Student Council chocolate rose sale, Mia is prepared to feel even worse. Because even though anyone can buy and send roses to their crushes and friends, the same (popular) people always end up with roses while everyone else gets left out.

Except a twist of fate puts Mia in charge of selling the roses this year—and that means things are going to change. With a little creativity, Mia makes sure the kids who usually leave empty-handed suddenly find themselves the object of someone’s affection. But her scheme starts to unravel when she realizes that being a secret matchmaker isn’t easy—and neither is being in the spotlight.

Buy (Amazon) | Buy (autographed)

 

Stephanie writes fantastic middle grade books, and 25 Roses is available now. I am so excited to welcome her to the blog today! Let’s jump right in.

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1. How would you say Mia in 25 Roses differs from Maddie in 30 Days of No Gossip?

In 30 Days of No Gossip, Maddie was the center of attention as the book began. Everything changed when her best friend dared her to go 30 days without gossiping. She had to eventually change something about herself that was creating a rift between her and her best friend.

Mia, on the other hand, is very idealistic. She sees some students being left out of something that brings a lot of happiness to other students. At the same time, she wants to be noticed. Like the kids she helps, she also is left out of the big rose sale every year. By helping others, she’s able to at least be noticed for a change.

2. When you finish a novel, how do you celebrate?

I never celebrate finishing a novel. I guess I should! I usually celebrate by sending it off to my agent. When I sell a new book, we go out to dinner and toast my new success. I can drag that celebration out for a week!

3. Both of your covers are amazing. How much input do you have in the process, and did they go through a lot of changes before becoming the final versions?

Thank you! I provided basic information about the characters. They also said I could name anything important that shouldn’t be left out. I remember saying that if roses are on the cover, they should be the chocolate ones covered in foil that are sold around Valentine’s Day. Other than that, I don’t see the cover until the final version arrives in my email for approval.

4. Can you share a favorite line or moment with us from 25 Roses?

My favorite moment happens toward the end and I don’t want to give anything away! So I’ll just say it’s the scene outside the school during the lock in!

5. The concept for this book makes me want chocolate. What’s your favorite type of chocolate?

I love the chocolate-peanut butter combination. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are probably my absolute favorite! Right now I’m addicted to peppermint hot cocoa, though.

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Stephanie Faris Headshot

Stephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in broadcast journalism, she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing.

Stephanie is the author of 30 Days of No Gossip and 25 Roses, both with Aladdin M!x. When she isn’t crafting fiction, she writes for a variety of online websites on the topics of business, technology, and her favorite subject of all—fashion. She lives in Nashville with her husband, a sales executive.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

Thank you so much for joining me today, Stephanie!! And congrats on the release of 25 Roses!

 

In celebration of the release of 25 Roses, Stephanie is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card, a chocolate long-stemmed rose (yum), and an autographed copy of her book!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

52 Likes Cover Reveal!

Check out the cover for 52 Likes, by Medeia Sharif:

 

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52 LIKES by Medeia Sharif
Cover Reveal, Evernight Teen, 2015

After a brutal rape and near-murder, Valerie wants to get past feelings of victimhood from both the assault and her history of being bullied. She’s plagued by not knowing the identity of her rapist and by the nasty rumors in school about that night. Valerie follows clues from ghostly entities, past victims of the rapist-murderer, contacting her through a social media site—why do all of their eerie photos have 52 likes under them? Their messages are leading her to the mystery man, although he’ll put up a fight to remain hidden.

Find Medeia – YA and MG Author

 

Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

 

 

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Beautiful cover and the book sounds amazing. It’s available on January 16th, and I can’t wait to read it. Congrats, Medeia!!

 

Writing Resolutions

Hi!! I hope everyone had a nice holiday season!

Admittedly, I never actually make traditional New Year’s Eve resolutions. But this year I have decided to try to stick to my writing goals. Here are mine for the year!

1. WRITE EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Even if it’s five words, it’s five words I didn’t have before.

2. SET DEADLINES.

If I don’t give myself a specific date to aim for to send my MS to Carrie I meander forever. I’m constantly getting distracted and chasing plot bunnies (or, more accurately, Plot Pennys–because Penny is in full on kitten-hood and gets into everything and I’m always chasing her around. But it’s okay, because look at this FACE) :

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So currently, I would love to have something I’m happy with to show Carrie by early March. THERE. I wrote out a time frame, which means I’m accountable, which means you all have to hold me to it.

3. BOOK DEAL!

Okay. This is not totally in my control, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wanted it! Will 2015 be my year?

4. PICK ONE PROJECT AND FOCUS ON IT.

Some writers are bad with ideas but amazing at execution. I am not one of those writers. My ideas flow faster than a Jay Z rap and I do that thing where I try to cram them all into one MS, before realizing there’s time for each idea to find its home in future works.

5.  GO EASIER ON MYSELF.

I realize this is contradictory of #1, but I do need to remember to stop and give myself a break, or even let myself take a day away from writing to read a book and clear my head. I guess what I’m saying is, I need to learn the difference between truly needing a break, and being discouraged which can lead to not giving a crap, which can lead to laziness. I always seem to come up with my best ideas after a break anyway, so it’s good for me to give it time to stew. Overall, I want to remember that I’m a good writer, and shouldn’t be so incredibly nit-picky about myself.

So that’s basically it! Hopefully it’ll be a good year, writing-wise. I told Penny for her first New Year’s Eve, she should make a resolution not to get into so much trouble, and to only sit down for a nap on my laptop AFTER I’ve saved my work. Hopefully she’ll stick to it! But it’s okay if she doesn’t, because she’s adorable and sweet. Exhibit A:

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What are your writing resolutions for 2015??