Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Character: Hero or Rogue?

What kind of a person is your main character?

I’ve been thinking about this lately, about the kinds of main characters I usually write. I tend to create them with dramatic character arcs, meaning they aren’t necessarily “nice” people in the beginning of the book, but they grow to be something admirable by the end.

However! This doesn’t seem to translate well into something desirable or marketable. Beta readers, critique partners, agents and editors (and readers?)—for the most part, all seem to prefer a character that doesn’t have off-putting traits. So I find myself cleaning up my MCs so they are more palatable and likable throughout. They still change by the end, but not as much.

Relatability and Likability
It seems like the most popular characters are the ones who have hearts of gold, even though they make mistakes. They have good intentions. They’re heroes or heroines by the book’s end. They muster up courage in the face of adversity. If they offend or cause harm to someone, it’s accidental—or at least minor or forced upon them. Think Harry Potter and Katniss Everdeen. They are role models, people we often wish we were, people we like because they give us hope or show us how to be brave.

I have a suspicion that more abrasive, less “nice” main characters are found in paranormal or dystopian novels. These books have grittier scenarios, which produce grittier MCs.

People don’t tend to like whiny characters. Or spiteful characters. Or rude-to-their-mother characters. Or narrow-minded characters. But these kinds of people exist in the real world. Are we restricting ourselves too much when we only focus on the “nicer” people, the “good” main characters—or should we stick to what’s more widely marketable?

Personally, I love to read about characters who are complex, not always “good,” and who are different from the usual. I enjoy a wide-swinging character arc, like in the movie Groundhog’s Day; he’s totally obnoxious in the beginning, but his gradual change into someone kind-hearted is awesome.

It’s all fascinating food for thought. I suppose we can’t paint too broad of strokes—because there are always exceptions—but it’s good to ponder these things once in a while.

YOUR TURN
What kind of main character do you enjoy reading about?
Can you enjoy reading about a character who is mean or snarky to other characters?
What are your favorite characters, and why?—are they the “heart of gold” kind?
Do you think paranormal and dystopian genres have more abrasive or less “nice” kinds of main characters?



Thursday, May 7, 2015

Cover Reveal: THE TALE OF WILLABY CREEK

I'm excited to share the cover reveal of The Tale of Willaby Creek by Victoria Lindstrom! This is a middle grade adventure fantasy that releases in June 2015.

About the Book:
A magical tale of amazing sacrifice...

When a violent windstorm strikes an enchanted rain forest, many of the woodland creatures of Willaby Creek are stranded, injured, or lost forever to the frenzied force of the tempest. Basil, a black bear full of doubt and fear, becomes the unlikely leader to head the woodland creatures' rescue. He is joined by Daphne, a spunky blue dryad; Oliver, a wise horned owl; Elbert, a noble elk; and a host of other creatures that inhabit the enchanted rain forest.

Dangerous twists and turns in this adventure fantasy cause Basil to discover a courage, and a conviction, he never knew he had. The answers to the ancient mysteries in this magical tale emerge in an extraordinary finale under the tall timbers of the hidden hinterland.



About the Author:
VICTORIA LINDSTROM is a full-time writer, a voracious reader, and the author of the children's picture book, The Scandinavian Santa. She loves to wander through the woods, capture the beauty of Nature in photographs, and visit museums and fine art galleries. She and her husband, Michael, live near the shore of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest. You may visit Victoria at: www.victorialindstrom.com



Giveaway:
One hardcover copy of The Tale of Willaby Creek (US) and an ebook of The Tale of Willaby Creek (INT)
(Books will be delivered upon release, or shortly before.)
Ends May 19, 2015

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.




Monday, April 27, 2015

Cover Reveal: CONNECTED

Today I’m featuring a cover reveal for Kat Stiles and her YA paranormal romance, CONNECTED. This book releases June 3, 2015—coming up soon! I think the cover is perfect for the paranormal romance genre.

CONNECTED:
High school is hard enough, Em knows. Her freshman year introduced her to all the cliques, annoying teachers, and tough homework assignments. But discovering you have super powers and not knowing how to control them is a whole new level of complicated.

Thankfully, Em isn’t alone. Her best friend Roz starts having unusual dreams that come true, and Tommy, Em’s secret crush, can hear the softest whispers in class.

A romance blossoms with Tommy. But just as things are looking up, people start dropping like flies. A telepathic serial killer is on the loose and only Em and her friends have a hope of stopping him.

Or do they? If they don’t figure out the killer’s identity soon, one of them could be next.


AUTHOR BIO:
Kat Stiles is the mother of a three-year-old girl and a beautiful baby boy whose smiles warm her heart every day. Their father is a sweet, amazing man she's totally head over heels for, even if he’s not a morning person. She also shares her home with three dogs: a lab, a larger terrier mix, and what they think is a chiweenie mix; as well as three cats, all American shorthairs. The smallest female cat, a black and white tuxedo, is the alpha male of the household and keeps everyone in line. Yes, it is as hectic as it sounds. Yes, she's perpetually covered in hair of some sort. And before you ask, she doesn’t dress up the chiweenie in tiny outfits. It’s much funnier to watch him get his head stuck in random items, like chip bags or tissue boxes. CONNECTED is her debut book and the first in the series.

Connect with Kat here:  Website/Blog

YOUR TURN
Do you enjoy reading paranormal romance?
What do you think of Kat’s new cover?
Have you ever written a paranormal romance yourself? (I haven’t tried it, myself.)
Do you know what a “chiweenie” dog mix is?!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Cover Reveal: SUMMER MARKED

SUMMER MARKED is Rebekah L. Purdy’s sequel to her novel, THE WINTER PEOPLE from Entangled Teen. It releases August 4, 2015. This gives you (and me) time to read the first book! Without further gabbing, here is the cover for Rebekah’s upcoming YA novel. I love it! So mysterious and golden. 


Fresh off a break-up with her boyfriend, Kadie’s glad to be home from college for Thanksgiving. All she needs is a rebound guy, a box of chocolates, and some girl time with her best friend, Salome. Problem is, Salome isn't returning her calls, and her family won't say where she is. Feeling sorry for herself, Kadie ends up at Club Blade, a place filled with pumping music, dangerous guys, and promises of a good time. However, when midnight strikes, Kadie’s fun turns into a nightmare as she’s ripped from the human world into Faerie by a vengeful Winter Prince named Etienne. For the first time in her life, she realizes the monsters Salome always spoke of are real, and they’ll stop at nothing to destroy her friend.

Salome thought the winter curse was behind her. But winter has left its mark. Not just on her, but on the whole summer court. The Kingdom of Summer is falling apart, and Nevin is hanging onto his throne by a thread. With war on his doorstep, he has no choice but to send Gareth into enemy territory, which means Salome will be left alone—vulnerable in a world she doesn't understand. A place where beauty is deadly and humans are pawns in the macabre games the Fae play. Both Kadie and Salome will have to call on all their strength to survive in a world where humans aren’t meant to be. With death and enemies all around them, it’ll be a miracle if they can survive.


Add to Goodreads

Link to Book One (The Winter People):
Goodreads

About the Author
Rebekah Purdy grew up in Michigan, where she spent many late nights armed with a good book and a flashlight. When not hiding at her computer and getting lost in her stories, she enjoys reading, singing, soccer, swimming, football, camping, playing video games and hanging out with her kids. She loves the unexplainable like Bigfoot, the Dogman, and the Loch Ness Monster (lots of good story material)! She admits to still having all the books she bought throughout her childhood and teen years, and she may or may not have an obsession with anything chocolate…


Author Links:
WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook




Cover Reveal Organized by:
YA Bound Book Tours
   





YOUR TURN
Have you read WINTER PEOPLE, Rebekah’s first book in this series?
Do you like to read fae or faery stories? What’s your favorite? (I love Maggie Stiefvater’s LAMENT and BALLAD)


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

COVER REVEAL: The Body Institute!

Today’s the day! I get to show the world my book cover for THE BODY INSTITUTE from Entangled Teen. A hearty thanks to everyone who participated in this reveal, via signing up with YA Bound or otherwise. 

This makes my book seem so much more REAL, as does the fact that I (most likely) have just one final line edit left to go with my editor. Which is scary and exciting at the same time because, gulp, that will be the version people will read when it releases September 1, 2015.

Without further ado, here is the cover of THE BODY INSTITUTE:

 
                                         


I’m happy with how the cover hints at sci-fi and yet still looks accessible to non-sci-fi readers, because it really isn’t a hard sci-fi kind of book. It reflects what it really is. I like how the blues accent the crucial parts of the story—the BODY and the MIND. It’s a story of weight and body image, but also identity and the soul. Since this cover is primarily black and white, it may stand out nicely in bookstores and online as thumbnails. Cool!

Here’s the new summary Entangled Teen wrote up for my official copy:

The Body Institute
Meet Morgan Dey, one of the top teen Reducers at The Body Institute.

Thanks to cutting-edge technology, Morgan can temporarily take over another girl’s body, get her in shape, and then return to her own body—leaving her client slimmer, more toned, and feeling great. Only there are a few catches…

For one, Morgan won’t remember what happens in her “Loaner” body. Once she’s done, she won’t recall walks with her new friend Matt, conversations with the super-cute Reducer she’s been text-flirting with, or the uneasy feeling she has that the director of The Body Institute is hiding something. Still, it’s all worth it in the name of science. Until the glitches start…

Suddenly, residual memories from her Loaner are cropping up in Morgan’s mind. She’s feeling less like herself and more like someone else. And when protests from an anti–Body Institute organization threaten her safety, she’ll have to decide if being a Reducer is worth the cost of her body and soul…

Are we our minds…or our bodies? 

YOUR TURN
What do you think of the cover, especially with it being mostly black and white?
Do you want to be a part of my launch day release on September 1? If so, I’ll be announcing the link probably in August, on this blog. YA Bound handles Entangled Teen’s cover reveals and blog tours, which makes promo way easier for me!



Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Think of Yourself as a Writer

My former cat Cookie, may she RIP
Exciting NOTE! (which has absolutely nothing to do with the post below):
My cover reveal for THE BODY INSTITUTE will be March 24 on YA Bound! If you’d like to be a part of the online reveal, sign up HERE!! Nereyda will send you everything you need.

And now, onto my regularly scheduled post. :)

LABELING YOURSELF
I read a recent online article about working out and thinking of yourself as an athlete. The article stated: “If you want to run more, think of yourself as a runner." And “If you want to swim more, think of yourself as a swimmer.” And so on for whatever sports activity you want to do. It’s apparently part of some new research in sport psychology, the opposite of the usual behavior-first kind of plan—where you would start running every day and then label yourself as a runner. (If you’re curious, the article is HERE.) 

BE A WRITER FIRST
Since I'm a writer, I thought this was a great parallel for writing. The more you cement a certain image of yourself in your mind—making it an integral part of your mindset—the more often that behavior will occur. If you start calling yourself a writer (whether you verbalize it to others or not), you may be more likely to start doing the things a writer does.

WHY THIS WORKS
To apply the findings in the article to writing, the reasons this is successful make sense:
1. You begin identifying yourself with the kind of behaviors you’re targeting. It kickstarts and focuses your mental self-talk, the inner dialogue about who you are as a person and the kinds of activities you choose to engage in.
2. It increases your confidence level because you’ve already labeled yourself—it’s NOT a goal you’re still striving for, or risking failure for not having done enough to earn the label.
3. You’re more likely to plan and schedule the activities needed for being a writer (hint: sitting down with your computer/laptop/pad of paper, and WRITING).
4. You’re more likely to stick to your writing goals despite obstacles and barriers.
5. It preconditions you to success at being a writer and doing writer-related things.
6. You’re more likely to interact with and develop encouraging friendships with other writers.
7. You’re affirming that writing is an important part of your life, and you are choosing to do the activities that go along with the label of being a writer.
8. You’re more likely to work harder at the behaviors/activities of being a writer.

Go ahead. Call yourself a writer.

YOUR TURN
Do you call yourself a writer? Why or why not?
What do you think is the difference between a writer and an author—and if the terms are different to you, which one do you see yourself as?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Middle Grade + Sentence Clarity

2015 releases! I'll be a 15er!
MIDDLE GRADE ENDEAVORS
How's everyone doing? I'm writing gung-ho on my new middle-grade novel, back into the swing of it after abandoning it for 5 months while I moved from California to Oregon in the fall and did some artwork for my website-programmer brother.

I've read MG novels are generally 20,000-55,000 words. For upper MG like I'm writing, I'm aiming for somewhere around 35-55K. So far I have 36K and am nearing writing the final climax scenes. Should be about right! Anyway, I've been doing that writing instead of *coughcough* stuff like blogposts.

At this rate, I've written half my MG novel in 4 weeks, and will finish the book within another 4. (Helps that it's a shorter novel, though.) My usual speed for rough drafts is 3-4 months. I haven't ever tried NaNo, attempting to cram 50K words into one month of writing. That's a bit TOO fast for me, and I like to have a semblance of a life and sanity while I work.

RELEASE DAY NEWS
I was recently excited to find my contracted YA novel, THE BODY INSTITUTE, on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It's available for preorder, and not only that, I discovered it had a release day set for September 1 instead of October 6 like I'd thought! I confirmed that with my editor, and plan to do launch parties and blog tours around September 1, 2015. Woo! I've seen my cover mockup too, people, and I like it!

WRITING CLEAR SENTENCES
I caught myself writing a sentence similar to this a few days ago:

Kara bounced and smiled in her high heels.

Not sure about the clarity of this, so I decided to reword it. Someone can BOUNCE in high heels, but can someone SMILE in high heels? I'm thinking not. The "and" sentence structure implies she's doing both in her high heels.

SNUCK, SNUCK, SNUCK
Is this anyone's pet peeve besides mine? Snuck is NOT the past tense of sneak. Sneaked is. I constantly see this word in printed and published books. I'd definitely be okay using it in dialogue—because people really do talk that way—but…the narrative?? Eeek. (Sorry, Grammar Queen peeve, here. Although if you look it up, I suppose you'd find "snuck" is becoming more widely accepted.)

YOUR TURN
Do you find it difficult to get back into a project after you've been away for a while?
How long does it take YOU to write a rough draft of a novel? (no wrong answer, here)
How do you feel about the word SNUCK? :)


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Order of Written Things

Fishy photo I took in Oregon
Happy New Year 2015! I wish all of you much happiness and productivity in the coming year.

UPDATE
As you may know, Entangled Teen is my new publisher, and my YA sci-fi novel, THE BODY INSTITUTE releases October of this year. (Woo!) I'm currently eyeball-deep working on the first round of revisions with my editor, Stacy Abrams. She made some really great suggestions, and I've been busy making changes since December 11. I've even written about 4 new scenes, which has been really fun. My cover is also being designed—cue nervous excitement!!

CART BEFORE THE HORSE
When writing or revising, I keep finding myself putting certain actions ahead of other ones, and to the reader, these aren't in the best order. It's a subtle thing sometimes, but it's worth fixing because it can puzzle someone or throw someone out of your story for a moment.

Example 1
"Oh, how thoughtful!" Tara said, grinning at Michael as he sauntered into the restaurant with a bouquet of gorgeous red roses.

Here, we see Tara's reaction, but it's not until the end of the sentence that we know to what she's referring. In a normal progression of time, Michael and the roses would happen first, then Tara's exclamation. It's usually less confusing to the reader—avoiding that momentary "huh?"—if events are described in the actual order they happen.

This is even more important in present tense, where things are unfolding in REAL TIME, as it's happening:

Example 2
Oh. My. Gosh. She's doing it again. Frowning, I watch Mom stir her ice tea and dip the spoon back into the sugar bowl for another dose of sweetener. I so despise lumps in the sugar bowl.

Again, the thoughts and reactions occur before the actions, before the reader knows what the character has seen. It makes more logical sense time-wise to show Mom creating the sugar lumps, then the main character having her internal reaction to it. Even the frown in this case comes before the reader knows what is worth frowning about.

YOUR TURN
Do you ever find yourself doing this "cart before the horse" kind of sentence structure?
What do you hope to accomplish in 2015—what are your goals?