Musings of Shaila Patel

eternaldreamers

How Do You Organize?
by Shaila Patel

I’m probably the most disorganized Type A personality you’ll ever meet, but as messy and chaotic as every single one of my work areas are (day job included), I take heart in the meme that states having such a desk is a sign of genius.

(It’s on a meme, so it must be true.)

Like most of you, my story ideas come to me regardless of where I am, what time it is, or what I’m doing, and keeping track of all those thoughts and ideas is just one more job I don’t need weighing me down. No matter how many newfangled apps, digital pens, snazzy software, or digital recorders that I’ve downloaded or bought, I can’t seem to use any one of these items as a catch-all system that would revolutionize my organizational skills. I’ve even gone lo-tech with fancy blank journals, sticky notes, and colored index cards, but nothing has grabbed me enough to want to hoard coupons for my local office supply store.

My intentions are good, but in the end, the way I organize depends on where I am and/or what I’m doing.

If you look at my current work-spot du jour at my house, you’ll see it covered in sticky notes with random thoughts for editing my current work-in-progress (WIP), ideas for new scenes, and lists of things to remember to add to the story. These notes can be for a WIP or a future story that’s just a wee baby idea in my head. If I happen to be driving or not near my sticky note collection, I usually open my ColorNote app on my phone—I dictate into it if I’m driving—and add my ideas into a current note that’s usually titled by book or, for future stories, by the hero and heroine’s name since I write romance.

If that was all I did, it wouldn’t be much of an organizational strategy and there wouldn’t be much point in you reading this, would there? Luckily, there’s more to my strategy, and if you are reading this, you’re probably unsatisfied enough with your own process to be on the lookout for new ideas. You might even be suffering from the notion that other authors have some secret way of doing things that will magically make your life easier, but let me assure you—it probably won’t.

That was a lesson I learned when my Type A side was telling me I was “doing it wrong” or that there was a “better way” to be more organized and more productive. The added pressure kept me from actually being productive because I spent more time and money trying to copy everyone else’s organizational style that didn’t work for me rather than fine-tuning my own process—and accepting it.

Groundbreaking revelation, isn’t it?

So this is what I do with all those sticky notes … and notes in my app … and blank notebooks piling up on my shelves … and index cards cluttering up my drawers … and, well, you get the idea. To help illustrate, I’ve broken down my organizational strategy into three areas: pre-story, pre-writing, and writing/editing.

Pre-Story

Before delving into the planning of a story, I jot down whatever ideas come to me. It might be several months later before I decide the story has merit and deserves a shot. To me, it’s like I’m gathering the seeds that’ll eventually grow into my finished product, if I choose to nurture it. These notes—written on anything in front of me—are not fleshed out ideas, but little tidbits to help me remember how to shape my story later. More than likely, it’ll involve sticky notes and the ColorNote app on my phone for when I can’t write something down.

All my barely legible ideas on colorful sticky notes of all sizes, backs of envelopes, random scraps of paper, or even backs of receipts, end up in a “dedicated” pile on my desk. As time permits (i.e., when I’m in the mood) I add the scribbled thoughts from paper into a specific note in my app labeled for the hero/heroine of that particular story.

At this stage, I don’t transfer the ideas into one of my ‘purty’ notebooks because I know from experience that I’ll be too lazy to go through all the pages to find what I need when the time comes. And probably most important, I don’t like dedicating a notebook to something that’s still not quite a fully formed story yet—that’s just me.

Pre-writing

Once I know it’s time to start planning out and writing the new story, I whip out my collection of colored index cards and start transferring my notes from my app and the latest sticky notes that haven’t made it into my phone yet. If there are ideas that now sound ridiculous, then they never make it onto an index card.

The hero and heroine each get a specific color, and once written out, those cards become a character sketch that I can reference. Plot points, scene ideas, and even dialogue snippets, all get written on their own colored cards where they can be shuffled around into different acts and scenes as the outline and story evolves. As the story gets more fleshed out in my head, I insert new cards wherever they need to go in my story’s timeline without messing anything up.

I then rubber band them together and bring them with me wherever I go.

Writing/Editing

While I use the index cards to corral all my gems, once I start writing and then editing, I use one of the journals or notebooks I’ve collected over the years to write a more specific outline of the next scene or chapter, jot down ideas I need to look into, or scribble changes I need to make because of comments by critique partners or beta readers. And I dedicate the entire notebook to that particular story.

For Book 1 of my debut, Soulmated, that notebook became a sort of series bible for all the things I need to remember for the rest of the series. Handy, right? Once the story is ready for final edits, I transfer my Word file into Scrivener, where I take full advantage of its organizational features to write myself notes for specific chapters, notes for future books in the series, or even to flag things to help me tighten the story.

And that, folks, is how I keep my head on straight.

This whole process wasn’t a conscious attempt at organization but an evolution of what I tried and failed to do while balancing my need to be in control with my natural tendency to be disorganized and spontaneous. The more I tried to be organized (driven by my pesky Type A side), the more I wasted time.

Bottom line:

  1. Work your attempts at organizing your ideas around how you normally are—not the idealized image of you as an author.
  2. Find ways that are easy, handy, and don’t make you feel guilty for not being like this author or that author.
  3. Revel in the creative process and don’t let your left-brain (the organized, logical side) tell your right-brain (the creative side) how to do things.
  4. Do what works for your life, your chaos, your personality.
  5. Be happy with however you decide to do things. It’s the best way to move forward and actually be productive and not just plan to be.

I’d love to hear what you do to organize. Let me know in the comments below! And meanwhile, be very, very wary of coupons from office supply stores. Just saying. 😉


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About Shaila

As an unabashed lover of all things happily-ever-after, Shaila Patel’s younger self would finish reading her copy of Cinderella and fling it across the room because it didn’t mention what happened next. Now she writes from her home in the Carolinas and dreams up all sorts of stories with epilogues. A member of the Romance Writers of America, she’s a pharmacist by training, a medical office manager by day, and a writer by night. Soulmated is her debut novel and the winner of the 2015 Chanticleer Book Reviews Paranormal Awards for Young Adult. She loves books, craft beer, tea, and cozy window seats—but she’ll read anywhere. You might find her sneaking in a few paragraphs at a red light or online gushing about her favorite books.

Represented by: Agent Amanda Leuck of Spencerhill Associates

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Soulmated (Joining of Souls, #1)

Soulmated

Two souls. One Fate.

Eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan, an Irish royal empath, has been searching for his elusive soulmate. The rare union will cement his family’s standing in empath politics and afford the couple legendary powers, while also making them targets of those seeking to oust them.

Laxshmi Kapadia, an Indian-American high school student from a traditional family, faces her mother’s ultimatum: Graduate early and go to medical school, or commit to an arranged marriage.

When Liam moves next door to Laxshmi, he’s immediately and inexplicably drawn to her. In Liam, Laxshmi envisions a future with the freedom to follow her heart.

Liam’s father isn’t convinced Laxshmi is “The One” and Laxshmi’s mother won’t even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. Will Liam and Laxshmi defy expectations and embrace a shared destiny? Or is the risk of choosing one’s own fate too great a price for the soulmated?

Publisher Information: Month 9 Books

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Thank you so much Shaila for your amazing organizing ideas, and for acknowledging that we’re all individuals with different needs. We all organize differently and have to find what works for each of us! Your organizational method is something I will definitely try, though! =)

As always, a huge thanks to everyone who has participated in this feature! Your words of advice never fall upon ungrateful minds. Thank you. ❤

We hope you have a wonderful rest of your week!

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Musings of Christina June

eternaldreamers
Creating Realistic Characters
by Christina June

One of the very first authors I ever heard speak mentioned she is a terrible person to sit next to on an airplane because she eavesdrops. She steals. I heard that and was like, wow, yeah, that’s what we do. Authors are scavengers and collectors. We take pieces from real life and recycle them into our books.

As writers, in order to get things right in our book worlds—contemporary, fantasy, scifi, whatever—we have to observe the world around us. We need to see how an actual living, breathing human being reacts to something so we can make sure our fictional character should do it. We need to pay attention to situations and details, the order of operations, seasons and weather, rules and conventions, interests and preferences, to make sure that the things in our stories are believable.

In IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE, I steal a lot. And mostly from myself. My main character, Tatum, happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and winds up on house arrest for the summer, with a big fine to pay. Now, this exact thing has never happened to me, but many times I’ve been angry at the circumstances I found myself in. I channeled those feelings to make Tatum’s righteous indignation come to life on the page. Her inner monologue is pretty close to mine at sixteen…and potentially now too.

Smaller things I stole from my life: Tatum’s Eiffel Tower-shaped lamp exists in my guest room, her Magritte poster is on the wall in my office, her love for peppermint tea and cooking shows are mine as well. The songs and bands she likes are my favorites and the emotions she feels while listening are all mine. Her love interest’s favorites include weight-lifting and watching rugby—stole those from my husband.

I’ve also been known to swipe (with permission) friends’ family members’ names, hair and clothing styles, alma maters, favorite meals or restaurants, interesting tidbits, experiences that I haven’t had myself but fit in with a story, etc. I work with teenagers in my day job and while I draw the line at stealing their personal details, I am frequently inspired by the general situations they find themselves in or the emotions they’re experiencing. I confer with writer friends on the smallest of details to make sure that this is the way it would be in reality. In this way, writing is most certainly not a solitary adventure. If we only relied on ourselves, our books wouldn’t be nearly as compelling.

If you write fantasy or scifi, your characters still need to be believable, so there is not shortage of observing others for these genres. That warrior from Mars who loses his friend in battle? His grief should be realistic. Time traveling back a thousand years? Even though the details were different, emotions haven’t changed much. Characters in all genres (probably) need clothes and favorite foods and interests and feelings. They need backgrounds and experiences to make them come alive in the mind of our readers. Authors should rely on our power of observation and collection to make characters—no matter where, what or when they are—real.

If you’re borrowing something personal, absolutely get permission. If you’re writing outside your own experience, get it verified. Rely on subject-matter experts, sensitivity readers, interviews, and other primary sources to make sure you’re getting it right. Do the story justice. Listen and observe before you move forward.

And, the next time you’re on an airplane, maybe think about taking the middle seat. You never know what kind of conversation you might wind up in with your seatmates. It might even inspire the next best seller.


Christina June

About Christina

Christina June writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a school counselor. She loves the little moments in life that help someone discover who they’re meant to become—whether it’s her students or her characters. Christina is a voracious reader, loves to travel, eats too many cupcakes, and hopes to one day be bicoastal—the east coast of the U.S. and the east coast of Scotland. She lives just outside Washington, D.C. with her husband and daughter.  Christina’s debut, IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE, releases May 9, 2017.  A companion novel, EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE, will be published in 2018.

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It Started With Goodbye

It Started With Goodbye

Paperback, 304 pages

Expected publication:
May 9th 2017 by Blink/HarperCollins

Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.

A modern play on the Cinderella story arc, Christina June’s IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE shows us that sometimes going after what you want means breaking the rules.

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A big thank you to Christina, as you’ve touched on a topic that is in need of further explanation and exploration. We all struggle with making our characters seem as realistic as possible, even in fantasy worlds, and the best way to create them is to draw from what you know: real people. =)

As always, a huge thank you to everyone who has participated in this feature. Your words are appreciated for more than you’ll ever know. We are always thankful for your words of advice and support.

We hope you have a wonderful rest of your week, and a very happy Easter to those who celebrate!

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Musings of Erin Beaty

eternaldreamers

Your Book Is Now a Series: When Excitement Becomes Terror and Pressure
by Erin Beaty

I was on a single lane highway in West Virginia, halfway through a 700 mile drive when my agent called to say my publisher wanted a sequel to my debut novel. We’d submitted a synopsis and the first few chapters only the day before – originally we thought to wait for early reviews and sales numbers on the first book, but I’d just been invited on the Fierce Reads Spring Tour, so the time seemed right.

They liked it, then?” I managed to say around my shaky grin.

They loved it. They want to know if you can commit to a third book now, too.”

I stared at the truck in front of me. If that semi slams on its brakes, I’m not going to be able to react in time. I eased my foot off the gas. “Ummm…”

“Do you think you can sign on to that?” Valerie said. “They want to market it as a trilogy from the start.”

My answer was something along the lines of “Hell, yeah! but the rest of the call was a blur, as was the drive. When we stopped for dinner, I ordered a giant chocolate milkshake.

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Because margaritas + driving = bad idea

Over the next few days, however, my thoughts evolved from OMGTHISISTHEMOSTAMAZINGTHINGEVER to OHLORDWHATHAVEIDONE.

I had written the first book in a complete vacuum. Not only did I have no idea what I was doing – which was obvious to those who read my first draft – I had no idea how much work it would be or how hard it was to get published. There’s freedom in writing with reckless abandon and blissful ignorance. I never looked at the next step until I was almost ready to advance. (Or, honestly, until I thought I was ready. Everyone queries too early. Everyone.)

Now after spending over two years carving and shaping the story that would become THE TRAITOR’S KISS, after dozens of rejections and painful revisions, the idea of selling two books that hadn’t been written yet – one of which I hadn’t even plotted – was terrifying.

 

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credit Fox

You passed driver’s ed, kid, here’s the keys to your boss’s Ferrari. We’re sure you can handle it.

On the 700 mile return drive a few days later, new questions began bouncing around in my brain.

What if the first book totally flops?

What if I can’t deliver a good enough second book to my publisher? To the readers?

What happens beyond the second book? I’d always envisioned the story as a trilogy, but the third part was pretty vague. What if I can’t think of anything?

 

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credit NBC

Cry me a river, you’re saying. These are problems aspiring authors would kill to have. But, Dear Reader, I promise no matter how much you love writing, doing it on command and under the expectations of others is an entirely different ballgame.

The only thing you can do is what got you into this mess in the first place: write. Put your butt in the seat and make progress. You can’t fix a blank page. You can’t sculpt without putting a lump of clay on the turntable. It sounds like an overly simple solution – the kind that makes you want to punch anyone who says it in the face – but it’s the truth. If you show up, I promise you the Muse will, too. It helps to set an appointment with your WIP ahead of time, though; she’s less likely to be late to the meeting.

Six months, one full draft, and one plot outline later I’m feeling better but still scared. There’s days I love my writing and days I want to throw my laptop into the Chesapeake Bay, but that’s no different from the first time around (except then we lived in Nebraska, and I wanted to run it over with a tractor). One thing I have now, though, is a support team of people cheering me on, fully confident that I can do this. Some days I even believe them.

When I turned in that draft of the second book, my editor said she expected it to be rough, but she knew I was capable of fixing it. There’s a strange comfort in knowing it’s lumpy and needs a lot of love – those revision notes won’t hurt as much when I already know the book kind of sucks, and I’m not that attached to my words.

That’s the theory, anyway. Pass me a margarita as I wait.

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Erin Beaty

About Erin

Erin Beaty was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, which means she can’t drive a tractor, but she won’t eat veggies that come from a can. She graduated from the US Naval Academy with a degree in rocket science and somehow always ended up writing her study group’s lab reports. After serving in the fleet as a weapons officer and a leadership instructor, she resigned to pursue her side hobby of populating the Church of Rome. It still amazes her when other people want to hear the stories that come out of her head.

She and her husband have five children, two cats, and a vegetable garden and live wherever the navy tells them to go.

Erin Beaty is represented by Valerie Noble. Her young adult fantasy adventure, THE TRAITOR’S KISS, the first in a trilogy called The Traitor’s Circle, will be released May 9th, 2017

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29346870The Traitor’s Kiss

An obstinate girl who will not be married.
A soldier desperate to prove himself.
A kingdom on the brink of war.

With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they’d call a lady―which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls―and on the soldiers escorting them.

As the girls’ military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust―and Sage becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound


A huge thanks to Erin for sharing her story and advice with us today. Your wit, determination, and humor is definitely appreciated! Also, your voice is incredible in this article alone, so I can’t wait to read your book! =)

As always, a large thank you to everyone who has participated in this feature. Your words of advice never fall on unappreciative ears!

We hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week!

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Musings of Breeana Shields

eternaldreamers

Making the Transition from Hopeful Writer to Published Author
by Breeana Shields

When I was eight months pregnant with my first child, I was emotionally excited, but physically miserable. Some women have delicate, pretty pregnancies. They get an extra glow in their complexions and a charming little baby bump in front, and otherwise their appearance is unchanged; from the back, you might not even realize they’re expecting. Not me. My ankles swelled, my fingers got fat, and I’m confident if alien life forms had been keeping watch on our planet, they would have been able to tell I was pregnant. From space.

I couldn’t find any position that would let me get a good night of sleep. I couldn’t eat without feeling uncomfortable. I couldn’t even take a full, deep breath so that I could properly execute an exasperated sigh.

I got through my busy days at work by daydreaming about how magical life was going to be once I was un-pregnant. And not just about my new baby boy—I’d already been excited for him for months—but about mundane things. Sleeping for more than an hour at a time. Wearing my wedding ring. Eating chocolate without getting heartburn. Talking long walks without feeling like a self-conscious duck. Painting my toenails. (I’d be able to reach them again!)

Once this baby was out of my body and in my arms, everything was going to be perfect.

And then my sweet son was born and my little fantasy fell to pieces.

Sure, I could easily find a comfortable sleeping position—I was so tired, I could have drifted off standing up— but I was responsible for a tiny human who needed to be fed every two hours, so quality sleep still wasn’t happening. My wedding ring still didn’t fit. And most days I didn’t even have time or energy to take a shower, let alone paint my toenails. My rosy vision of the future started to look more and more naïve.

And yet, those early days of motherhood were still filled with some of my most blissful memories. Midnight feedings, the house silent but for the rhythmic swallowing sounds of my little boy as his wide eyes locked on mine. The way his tiny fist would curl around my finger. The smell of his skin right after a bath. The way his eyelashes looked resting on his cheeks while he slept. The first time he laughed—the way it made a bubble of joy expand in my chest, a happiness so huge it hurt a little.

As I’ve made the transition from hopeful writer to published author, I can’t help but draw parallels to becoming a mother.

When I was in the querying trenches looking for an agent, I was sure nothing in publishing would ever be more miserable. I was certain that once I had a book deal life, professionally at least, would be perfect.

Perhaps I’m a slow learner. Or maybe it’s just that humans always see that just-out-of-reach next step as the one that will pave our way to a life of bliss. If only.

Like becoming a mother, becoming an author has been a dream come true. Holding a book with your name on the cover feels exactly as magical as you would expect. Chatting with excited readers in a signing line is unalloyed joy.

And yet…

There are also things that I wasn’t quite prepared for. I thought querying had toughened me up for rejection. I knew that reading was subjective and not everyone loved everything. Of course I knew that. What I didn’t take into account was that agents, generally speaking, are lovely people who are well aware that writers are sensitive types. Their rejections tend to be gentle and encouraging, and therefore, didn’t prep me in the slightest for the firstthis sounded good, but then it SUCKED” review on Goodreads. I wasn’t ready for the way I could read twenty glowing reviews and then come across a snarky one that would ruin my day.

I also wasn’t prepared for the fear and the pressure. The anxiety about sales. The constant worry that I’ll never be able to sell another book, that my career will crash and burn before it’s really gotten started.

The difference between the fantasy and the reality was like imagining a post-pregnancy outing in nice fitted jeans and a fashionable top. Perfect makeup. Baby dressed in an impossibly cute outfit. And instead, finding yourself wandering through Target in a pair of sweats with unwashed hair that has been so coated in dry shampoo, you’re worried if you sneeze, you’ll be engulfed in a toxic cloud of powder. The baby is even more adorable than in your fantasy, but he’s still dressed the in footie jammies he slept in, because you didn’t have the energy for the cute outfit (for either him or you). And then in the checkout line, you realize the cashier is staring. Not admiring your sweet infant, but studying the suspicious stain on your shoulder. Which is most definitely baby vomit.

With both books and babies, the reality is not nearly as glamorous as the fantasy.

And yet…

I’m a published author. I wrote a book and my name is right there on the cover for all the world to see. People are reading it. A lot of them are liking it. Every once in a while, the truth of that will hit me square in the chest and fill me with delight. It’s a dream come true. But, like all wonderful things in life, the reality is a little bit messy. A little bit complicated. A little bitter mixed with the sweet.

But I wouldn’t change it. Not for the world.


Breeana Shields, small

About Breeana

Breeana Shields is the author of Poison’s Kiss (Random House, 2017) and Poison’s Cage (Random House, 2018). When she’s not reading or writing, she loves traveling, eating good food–especially if it’s pasta or chocolate–and spending time with her husband, her three children, and an extremely spoiled miniature poodle.

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Poison's Kiss (Poison's Kiss, #1)

Poison’s Kiss

A teenage assassin kills with a single kiss until she is ordered to kill the one boy she loves. This commercial YA fantasy is romantic and addictive like– a poison kiss– and will thrill fans of Sarah J. Maas and Victoria Aveyard.

Marinda has kissed dozens of boys. They all die afterward. It’s a miserable life, but being a visha kanya, a poison maiden, is what she was created to do. Marinda serves the Raja by dispatching his enemies with only her lips as a weapon.

Until now, the men she was ordered to kiss have been strangers, enemies of the kingdom. Then she receives orders to kiss Deven, a boy she knows too well to be convinced he needs to die. She begins to question who she s really working for. And that is a thread that, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose.

This rich, surprising, and accessible debut is based in Indian folklore and delivers a story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound


Thank you so much to Breeana for sharing her insight into being a published author! It may not be as glamorous as we all believe it to be, but it definitely comes with some wonderful benefits, love, and feelings of accomplishment to overshadow the negatives. =)

As always, thank you to all who have participated in this feature. We greatly appreciate your enthusiasm in helping writers, and your words never go unheard. We’re so grateful!

We hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week!

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Paperback Release Day Blitz: Glittering Court

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glitteringcourt.jpgTitle: The Glittering Court
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill
Genre: Fantasy
Goodreads |Amazon|B&N|Indiebound

Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…


unnamed.jpgRICHELLE MEAD is the #1 New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Vampire Academy series and its spin-off series, Bloodlines. Originally from Michigan, she now lives in Seattle, Washington.

Website | Goodreads

 


GIVEAWAY:

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of ten (10) copies of The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead (ARV: $10.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on March 28, 2017 and 12:00 AM on April 5, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about April 7, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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Musings of Rosalyn Eves

eternaldreamers

Writing Groups
by Rosalyn Eves

A few weeks ago, at one of our bi-monthly writing group sessions, one of my critique partners paused during a discussion of my new pages and said, “I don’t understand what’s happening here. Why would the character do this?”

I looked at the passage in question, then back at my friend. It was a good question, one that dug into the weakness of that particular scene. “I don’t know,” I admitted.

Scenes like this are pretty regular in our writing group—and are a big part of the reason that I’m a huge advocate for writing groups, or at least, for outside readers of your work (sometimes called beta readers).

My first writing group was when I was in graduate school—and I’m convinced that my monthly responsibility to turn in pages is what got me through my dissertation. There’s something especially  humiliating about having to tell women you admire that in an entire month you didn’t get enough work accomplished to show them something. It was very motivating.

As an English teacher who teaches writing to undergraduates, I make my students participate in peer reviews for their major papers. Almost inevitably, they grumble. Equally as inevitably, several of them comment in their final evaluations for the class how helpful that feedback was.

Readers are essential to good writing.

When we draft, we tend to write for ourselves. But when we revise, we write for other people, readers who don’t have access to all the information in our heads about how a scene was supposed to unfold, or why a particular magical talisman works the way it does. Outside readers can help us identify where our explanations fall short, where character motivations seem unrealistic—or even point out that in our make-out scene, one of the characters seems to have three arms.

The process of critiquing also teaches us about our own writing—a study done on kindergartners found that those who could recognize where their alphabet letters fell short of the ideal shape were much more likely to make progress in literacy later. Similarly, part of improving our writing means learning to recognize where other people’s writing succeeds and where it falls short. Writing groups (and reading for others) can teach us this.

I love my beta readers, who read the full manuscript and point out issues with pacing and characterization. But I couldn’t survive without my writer’s group, who tend to read my work piecemeal, as I’m drafting. There’s a curious kind of synergy that happens when we meet together to discuss our work—almost invariably our critiques together are smarter than our individual critiques. One person’s comment jogs loose an idea for someone else, and those ideas snowball into (sometimes) brilliance. (Sometimes they just snowball).

While I rely on my writer’s group for feedback, they provide much more than that. As someone who tends to be motivated by external validation, having a regularly scheduled deadline is much more useful to me than self-imposed ones. I don’t mind blowing by my self-imposed deadlines—there’s no consequence. It’s harder to have to tell my friends that I don’t have pages ready (though they’re always gracious and understanding).

There’s no right schedule to a writing group. Some people meet weekly, some every other week, some monthly. The key, I think, is consistency. There’s also no right way to present pages. Some groups, like ours, let everyone bring pages each time we meet (our general rule is up to 15 pages). Other groups rotate, focusing on one writer and longer sections each time.

More than anything, though, my writer’s group members are my friends—tough enough to tell me when my writing isn’t measuring up, but generous enough to cheer me on when I need it.

If writing takes a village—and I think it does—then my writing group is the heart of mine.

What has your experience been with writing groups? Do you love them? Hate them? Why?

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*If you’re looking for more details on how to give feedback as a writer, here’s a helpful post using strategies I teach to my writing students:

https://thinkingthroughourfingers.com/2014/10/24/advanced-critiquing-using-facilitative-feedback/


About Rosalyn

Rosalyn Eves grew up in the Rocky Mountains, dividing her time between reading books and bossing her siblings into performing her dramatic scripts. As an adult, the telling and reading of stories is still one of her favorite things to do. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys spending time with her chemistry professor husband and three children, watching British period pieces, or hiking through the splendid landscape of southern Utah, where she lives. She dislikes housework on principle. Her first book, BLOOD ROSE REBELLION, comes out Spring 2017 from Knopf.

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Blood Rose Rebellion (Blood Rose Rebellion, #1)

Blood Rose Rebellion

The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound


A big thank you to Rosalyn for this post! We never hear enough about the friends, partners, and writing help that get us all through our darkest times in our manuscript adventures. I know that even I have my own writing warriors to help me through the bad days.

As always, a huge thank you to everyone who has participated in this feature! Your words are so appreciated!

We hope you have a wonderful rest of your week! =)

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Musings of Cecilia Vinesse

eternaldreamers

On Following Your Dreams
by Cecilia Vinesse

I grew up between three places: France, Japan, and the States. Even though I moved around a lot, every time was just as difficult as the last. Every time, I was thrown off by how much it hurt to leave behind the fierce friendships I’d made, the schools I’d grown comfortable in, and the places that felt so familiar to me. The first year in a new place was always rough for me. It took me months to get used to new social hierarchies, new inside jokes, and a whole bunch of shared references I honestly didn’t get. I was constantly thinking about where I’d lived before and how far away it seemed. So far away that, sometimes, it was hard to convince myself that the life I’d had there had ever been real.

Like Sophia, the move that hit me the hardest was from Tokyo to the States when I was sixteen. When I left, it felt like I was shutting a door I might not be able to open again. I did everything I could to hold onto Tokyo—I woke up early every morning to write e-mails to my friends; I hung my favorite photographs of all of us in my room; I watched Lost in Translation over and over because it was filmed while I lived in Tokyo, so it felt like a window into the city exactly as I’d left it.

It took me years to realize that, inside those feelings, there was a story. I wrote the first draft of Seven Days of You in 2009 right after I graduated college and it was…terrible. So terrible, I honestly wanted to throw it away and pretend I’d been trying to write chocolate cake recipes instead.

But the story refused to leave me alone. Eventually, I did move back to Japan. This time to Sapporo, a city on the northernmost island of Hokkaido. During my last seven days there, thoughts of that book I’d been trying to write kept creeping back to me—this book about a girl leaving Tokyo, about the last few moments before you have to let go of a place you love. I found myself slowing down more than I usually do: listening to the rumble of trains rushing through my train station, staying up to watch my clock tick down the seconds, exploring the quiet streets of Sapporo late at night with my friends, talking the whole time, doing all we could to stave off the morning. Through it all, I could hear something whispering inside of me, telling me not to forget this. Telling me that I had to find a way to save this feeling.

Over the next three years, writing Seven Days of You wasn’t any easier than it had been before, but I could feel the rightness of it—how it was the story I was supposed to work on, the story of my heart and soul and bones. And now, here it is, ready for the world.

So if you’re reading this and writing is your dream, too, please know: there are stories out there waiting for you to find them. The first thing you have to do, though, is slow down and listen.


Cecilia Vinesse

About Cecilia

I’m Cecilia Vinesse, and I wrote a book about saying good-bye to high school friends and staying out all night and the dizziness of falling in love and the deliciousness of ramen.

I was born in France but then moved to Japan. And then to the States. And then back to Japan. And then back to the States. When I was 18, I moved to New York where I was homesick for nearly seven years. After that, I got a job in a cold, snowy city in northern Japan and, from there, I headed to Scotland where I got my master’s in creative writing and lived off tea, writer tears, and Hobnobs.

I still live in the U.K. and spend most of my time writing, reading, baking, and getting emotional over Tori Amos albums. Hobbies include pretending Buffy the Vampire Slayer is real, collecting a lipstick to match every Skittle flavor, and listening to a thousand podcasts a day.

A pup named Malfi and a Renaissancist named Rachel are my favorite things in the world. That, and books. I should probably mention the books again.

Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads | Instagram


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Seven Days of You

Sophia has seven days left in Tokyo before she moves back to the States. Seven days to say good-bye to the electric city, her wild best friend, and the boy she’s harbored a semi-secret crush on for years. Seven perfect days…until Jamie Foster-Collins moves back to Japan and ruins everything.

Jamie and Sophia have a history of heartbreak, and the last thing Sophia wants is for him to steal her leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder. Yet as the week counts down, the relationships she thought were stable begin to explode around her. And Jamie is the one who helps her pick up the pieces. Sophia is forced to admit she may have misjudged Jamie, but can their seven short days of Tokyo adventures end in anything but good-bye?

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Book Depository


Thank you so much Cecilia for your insight and for sharing your story. This sounds like it’s your heart book… and the fact that it’s getting published means that all of the struggle was worth it. It will be worth it for all of the writers out there waiting for their chances too. You’ll all find the story of your heart one day, and when it comes, don’t let it slip by.

As always, a huge thank you to all of the wonderful people who have contributed to this feature. Your words never go unappreciated, as you help so many writers every week continue to work towards their dreams. Thank you for sharing your hearts with us.

We hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week! Write on!

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Musings of Corrie Wang

eternaldreamers

Opting Out of the Waiting Game
by Corrie Wang

Let’s start with a quick reminder. Before any published writer is a published writer, they are an unpublished writer first. Some of us for a VERY LONG TIME. For me, that meant almost a decade of my life spent waiting for a book to sell. Three different submissions, two different agents, and a lot of expectations that at any moment, my life would be changing for the better.

Not that my life was ever bad, mind you. I was living in NYC, waiting tables and loving it. (Never underestimate how rewarding and fun life in the food and beverage industry can be.) But every time a new book went out on submission, I definitely lived in a general state of “soon this will all change.”

I can leave this job I’ve grown bored of.

I’ll move out of this tiny apartment.

This tricky relationship I’m in will get ironed out.

I will buy my mom a French Bulldog.

Wait. What now?

And then my manuscript on sub would make it to acquisitions, but not any further, and not only did I have to start the grueling process of writing a novel entirely from scratch, but I had to do it while being stuck in my same old life.

Until one day, I had enough. I actively decided I wasn’t going to wait on the writing anymore. Best way I could think to prove it, was I bought my mom a puppy. Because showing gratitude and love to the woman who’d been my rock for so many years shouldn’t have to wait on something as fickle as the publishing industry. Being the BO$$ of my own life didn’t need to hinge on a book deal.

Next, I left that job. Which also opted me out of that tricky relationship. And wouldn’t you know, the next restaurant I worked at, I met the most amazingly sweet and talented Chef d’ Cuisine. Love stuff happened.

Two years later, me with a new fan-fcking-tastic agent and a fresh manuscript under revisions, my beau and I left the small apartments of NYC and made our way to Charleston, South Carolina. Once there, we learned the jobs we had lined up didn’t actually exist. At the same time, my novel went out on sub. In the past, I would have put the brakes on any new projects or life plans. This time around, I opened a food truck.

I’d always expected that when my novel sold, I’d be home, whooping it up, running around my apartment, calling my mom, crying happy tears. The reality was, when the call came, we’d just started our second day of service on the food truck. I was in a parking lot, fielding calls from my agent about the mini-auction the book was in, worried that our conversation was taking too long and that we had customers waiting.

I do not yet know what amazing things will come about because of my novel. Maybe lots, maybe none. But I do know that in the time it took the book to publish, the life I actively created has brought more rewards and taken me more places than I ever could have dreamed possible.

In fact, as far back as I can remember anything good that has come about in my life has been because of action. Action and a lot of hard work.

So to you I say, persist! Persist in your writing and try to write every single day. Commit to your writing as the most important thing you can possibly do, but for goodness sake, do not wait on it. Make your life happen in spite of the fact that you’re a writer. And while you’re at it, make that life as wonderful and fun as you can imagine a life being. Wow us all. Do something important. Because I promise you, your writing career will find you when you least expect it. And then you’ll have a published novel and a fulfilling life to show for it.


  About Corrie

Corrie Wang is passionate about libraries, road trips, and eating all the food, everywhere. Corrie grew up in Buffalo, New York, but spent her formative years in Brooklyn, where one of her last paying gigs was managing a three-story nightclub on the Lower East Side. She currently lives in Charleston, South Carolina, where she owns and operates Short Grain food truck which was named one of Bon Appetit magazines Top 50 Best New Restaurants 2016 and is currently on the long list for a James Beard Award. The Takedown is Corrie’s debut novel. You can find her online at www.corriewang.com

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The TakedownThe Takedown
Releasing April 11, 2017!

Kyla Cheng doesn’t expect you to like her. For the record, she doesn’t need you to. On track to be valedictorian, she’s president of her community club, a debate team champ, plus the yummy Mackenzie Rodriguez has firmly attached himself to her hip. She and her three high-powered best friends don’t just own their senior year at their exclusive Park Slope, Brooklyn high school, they practically define the hated species Popular. Kyla’s even managed to make it through high school completely unscathed.

Until someone takes issue with this arrangement.

A week before college applications are due, a video of Kyla “doing it” with her crush-worthy English teacher is uploaded to her school’s website. It instantly goes viral, but here’s the thing: it’s not Kyla in the video. With time running out, Kyla delves into a world of hackers, haters and creepy stalkers in an attempt to do the impossible-take something off the internet-all while dealing with the fallout from her own karmic footprint. Set in near-future Brooklyn, where privacy is a bygone luxury and every perfect profile masks damning secrets, The Takedown is a stylish, propulsive, and provocative whodunit, asking who would you rely on if your tech turned against you?

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound


Thank you so much to Corrie for sharing your story with us! I think we all believe that it will be butterflies, rainbows, and happiness as soon as writers get that call, but sometimes reality hits hard. The truth of the matter is that we fight through every step of the way to get there, and your story proves that. Thank you for your dose of reality and hope for all of the writers out there!

As always, thank you so much to all of the authors who have been a part of this feature. Your words are appreciated more than you can see. We’re all so grateful for every single one of you!

We hope you have a wonderful rest of your week!

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Musings of L.E. DeLano

eternaldreamers

Fantastic Book Ideas And Where To Find Them – 5 Ways To Up Your Inspiration Game
by L. E DeLano

Every author constantly finds themselves trapped in the hellish world of writing a book, editing a book, or searching for their next book.

Sometimes, you get lucky and the story finds you. But even when it does, it’s usually just a kernel of an idea, and needs some fleshing out. So what do you do when the creative font is running dry? Here are some strategies to help you find that elusive spark:

People watch. Go out to the mall or a fast food restaurant, visit a museum or a college campus, and just sit with a notebook. Watch people (and not in a creepy way, if you can help it – make it subtle). Invent stories about them – wild, fantastical back stories. Eavesdrop on dialogue and let it help you build the framework. There is no greater resource than human nature.

Speaking of nature – find some. Take a hike, or a slow and steady walk, but make it somewhere in the fresh air, or the rain or the snow, for that matter. Build your world, be it alien or domestic. What sort of people live here? And why? Why does this place look the way it does? What natural obstacles, disasters or points of great beauty can you use?

Watch a documentary. Find one about social injustice or alien visitors or great castles. Find a thread in the narration and build on it, take it to an opposing outcome or move what happened forward or back in time (or maybe to another world). History and media can be a valuable tool – use it!

Ask a young child to tell you a story. This one can be hit or miss, but sometimes you strike gold. Kids have no boundaries on their imaginations, and very little filter when telling their stories. Have them invent a new superhero, or a monster. Ask them about magic in their story, or have them describe some of the great inventions in their world. Take notes, then take those seeds and plant them in your fertile brain.

Think of all the things you’ve ever loved. Make a list. Every story is, at its heart, a love story: love for a romantic partner, a child, a sibling, a homeland, a god . . . even love of power and control. Make a list of every single thing you’ve loved in your life, from people to pizza. It’ll surprise you, and pull up a wash of memories that may yield what you’re looking for.

Being a writer means to live a constant cycle of frustration and euphoria. There’s no getting around that. But every day you navigate and inhabit a world that still has secrets and mysteries to be mined. One of those tricks might just lead you to the jackpot.

Happy writing!


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About L.E. DeLano

L.E. DeLano is a blogger and autism advocate under her alternate moniker, Ellie DeLano. She comes equipped with a “useless” Theatre degree that has opened doors for her in numerous ways. Though mostly raised in New Mexico, she now lives in Pennsylvania with two hilarious kids and two ridiculous cats. When she’s not writing, which is almost never, she’s binge-watching Netflix and taking road trips. Traveler is her debut novel.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr


Author Visits, Interviews, Signings

L.E. DeLano is available for the following:

Library and school visits
Interviews
Author signings/readings

Email ledelanoauthor@gmail.com with inquiries

Telephone: (484) 682-8815

Rep’d by: Jennifer Udden, Barry Goldblatt Literary – jennifer@bgliterary.com


Traveler (Traveler #1)

Traveler

Jessa has spent her life dreaming of other worlds and writing down stories more interesting than her own, until the day her favorite character, Finn, suddenly shows up and invites her out for coffee. After the requisite nervous breakdown, Jessa learns that she and Finn are Travelers, born with the ability to slide through reflections and dreams into alternate realities. But it’s not all steampunk pirates and fantasy lifestyles—Jessa is dying over and over again, in every reality, and Finn is determined that this time, he’s going to stop it…This Jessa is going to live.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound


Thank you so much, Ellie, for participating in this feature and bringing up some inspiration topics for all of us! Some lighthearted inspiration can be exactly what we all need when we get stuck with a rock hard wave of writers block. =)

As always, thank you to all the wonderful people who have participated in this feature. Your words of advice never go unappreciated by all of the wonderful writers who need it!

We hope you have a great rest of your week!

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Waiting on Wednesday: Empress of a Thousand Skies

waitingonwednesday

The book pick for this week’s wow sounds amazing! I know I can’t wait to read it and luckily it’s not that far away!

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Title: Empress of a Thousand Skies

Author: Rhoda Belleza

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Page Count: 344

Release Date: February 7th, 2017

Summary:

Empress
Rhee, also known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne.

Fugitive
Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he’s forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation – and his life.

Madman
With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly are thrown together to confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.

A saga of vengeance, warfare, and the true meaning of legacy.

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About the Author:

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Rhoda Belleza was raised in Los Angeles, where she grew up writing XFiles fanfiction and stuffing her face with avocados. When she’s not writing, Rhoda obsesses over nail art tutorials, watches kung fu movies, and sews together crooked things that pass for clothes. She’s a children’s editor at a publishing house and writes from a sunny Brooklyn apartment stuffed far too many bikes and far too many shoes. Empress of a Thousand Skies is her debut novel.