Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Day I Ran Naked Through The Jungle With Rabid Lemurs Snapping At My Buttocks


Today, I want to address something super duper important to my fellow writers. Before you click the little red X on the right hand corner of your screen, know this post could mean the difference between a reader buying your book or setting it back on the shelf.

Think about it, no, better yet, I want you to venture to your nearest bookstore and watch the people as they scan the bookshelves in search of the perfect story, one that will transport them away from all the miseries of this world, to a world where someone else is facing miseries, because let's face it, nobody wants to read a story without conflict.

But this post isn't about conflict. It's about the magic moment we pick up a book and decide to spend our hard earned $$$ on it. For me, that crucial decision occurs in the first two paragraphs. Others may have more patience than me, but not much.

If we writers don't captivate readers right out of the gate, our book's life expectancy dwindles. Fast. Do you see what I did with the title to this post? Of course you do, because you're all a bunch of savvy peeps who know what's what. But for the few who stayed up too late, boozing, studying, or playing X-Box, I'll explain myself and my shocking antics.

I used a crazy title to draw you all to my page. Yes, I know you guys are all aware of HOOKS and how important they are, but this is one horse that can't be rode too hard or too long. WE GOTTA HOOK OUR READERS, OR THEY PUT OUR BOOKS DOWN AND PICK UP ANOTHER ONE. IF THAT BOOK HOOKS THEM, THEN THEY SPEND THEIR $$$ ON IT, INSTEAD OF OURS!!!

Think CRAZY! Think SHOCKING! Or you can always toss out a SECRET, right at the very beginning of your book. Whatever you use, make sure it's something to cause the potential buyer to keep reading because if they do, you've probably HOOKED them.

I'll end this post with the opening paragraphs to my WIP, Trip Wire. Okay, deep breaths...butterflies in stomach... here goes...  

         Smoke laced with death and decay wrap around the thick July air as I sit on the creek bank, ticking off this morning’s body count. Reading the sign on the tree, (Trespassers will be killed on sight!) I wonder if the people I shot last night were illiterate. Or maybe they thought we were bluffing. Whatever the case, they were either looking for information or protection. Both are a liability we can’t afford.

            As the outsiders grow more desperate, so do the morning fires. It’s not a pretty sight, the bloated flesh sizzling in the flames, but it’s the most sanitary way to dispose of Strays and easier than digging graves. To keep the fire from spreading, I dip a bucket in the water and pour it into the trench circling the inferno. Satisfied with my containment measures, I hang the bucket on a tree.

            From the corner of my eye, I spot a lone figure crossing old man Cleary’s property. When my ID Badge doesn’t beep, I know he doesn’t have a badge of his own, which makes him a Stray. In a few minutes, I’ll likely add another corpse to the pile. Though just having emerged from the river, I’d rather not. For once I’d like to stay clean—no blood on my hands.
Still taking calming, deep breaths...okay, do you get what I'm saying? I hope this is a good example of a hook. If not, feel free to burst my bubble. I've got thick skin. Also, I'd love to have examples from you guys. Maybe throw out a one liner, or a two, three or four liner.
Until next time, happy writing or whatever makes you smile. :)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Please Allow Me To Re-introduce Myself

To a lot of you, I'm introducing myself for the first time, so if you don't know me, you're about to read top secret stuff. If you do know me, well, you're about to read top secret stuff.

I'm a YA author. My debut novel, Sebastian Falls, is headed for the editing block and prints sometime this year. In case you missed my cover reveal, here it is again.

Isn't it pretty?!?!

Okay, moving along to the top secret stuff. I may or may not have superpowers! Stop rolling your eyes! It's true, swear. How do I know this? Well, because the other day, no lie, cross my heart...I flicked the switch on my daughter's vortex lamp, and it came on for a second then shut off. This ticked me off because gifts from Santa are supposed to last longer than a month, right? Anywho, after jiggling the switch, I moved to the cord. Guess what I found? Holy Superwoman! It wasn't plugged in! Yes, I know, you're all shocked and amazed. Me too! I'm still coming to terms with my powers and deciding if I need to wear a cape. But, before I go to the sewing machine, let me finish my story. Okay, so I plugged the lamp in, and the swirly glitter lit up with no trouble, which proves the lamp wasn't broke. It just needed some juice. Maybe I only had enough to start it, but not enough to keep it going. Or, maybe when I took my hand off the switch, I took my power with me. Whatever the case, I had laundry to do, so I didn't mess with it anymore.

Now, before any of you turn me over to a lab of scientists, I should see if I can get my powers to work again. I'd hate for everyone to be disappointed.

Perhaps the flicker of light was my imagination, and I'm just as ordinary as the next person. I'll let you guys decide. :P And please, don't be jealous. You may have superpowers too!

For more fun, check out other posts from the, Let me re-introduce myself, blog fest--brought to you by Stephen Tremp.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Leave Reality Behind

Happy Sunday!

Reality sucks. Right? Not always, but let's be honest, most of the time, reality reeks worse than rotten chicken gizzards inside a sauna. I'm not talking about all aspects of life, but referring more to the things we hear--things concerning our writing careers. They go something like this..."Only one in a kabillion books make it to the bestseller's list." Or, "The likelihood of you getting published isn't likely." Here's a common one, "You'll never make a living as a writer."

If you haven't heard at least one of the above dream-killers, I promise it isn't because it hasn't been said. Oh yes, someone has said all of them behind your back while rolling their eyes. On more than one occasion, no lie. And here's what I have to say to that, "Whoopidy doooodle dooo!" So what if our making the bestseller's list is far-fetched?!?! Who cares if a cow has a better chance of being eaten by a dinosaur?!?! DON'T LET THE ODDS GET INSIDE YOUR HEAD!!!

BE A DREAMER!!!! BE A BELIEVER!!!! If we don't BELIEVE in our dreams, then the dream-killers win. Once we start thinking like them, we forfeit our chance to be great. WE LOSE!!!! THEY WIN!!!! GAME OVER!!!! YES I'M WRITING IN CAPS AND USING LOTS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!! THIS IS SERIOUS, FOLKS!!!!

I don't care if you're reading this and have written 20 novels. You can't predict how my journey will end. You didn't write my story, so step aside and watch me fulfill my dreams. Who's with me?!?!

All right, if this didn't pump you up, READ IT AGAIN!!!! Until next time, happy writing!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Bold Characters

Happy Sunday!

While soaking in the tub, today's blog topic made its way to the center of my brain. I was thinking about the characters in my WIP, and I realized how flat some of them are. I need to exaggerate their behavior, spice things up. I mean, even boring is interesting when it's taken to extremes, right?

Think about this...say a girl is at the supermarket, and she bumps into her high school flame. It's been years since she's seen him, but the sight of him still stings. Even though he moved on, (wife, kids) her love for him is as strong as it was back in the day. How would she react? She'd probably get red-faced then say, "Hi."

But...what if she grabbed his left hand and searched for a wedding band? Not finding one, she says, "How's married life?" Nervous, hopeful, but concealing all emotion, she waits for his answer.

He says, "Don't know. I'm divorced."

Her insides are squealing,but her face is relaxed. She thought she'd lost him forever, but now, he's back on the market, the one that got away. So, what does she do? She doesn't stand there, making idle chit-chat. No!

She grabs him by the shirt collar and smacks him on the mouth with a red lipstick-kiss. When she pulls away, she gazes into his wide eyes, and a sly smile spreads over her face. No longer the insecure girl she was back in high school, no longer the girl he dumped for a less awkward girl, she says, "I've waited a long time to do that. Call me." She slips him her card. "I'll let you know if I want more."

Wowee! That lady is interesting, and I think a lot of us, the ones who aren't as bold, secretly wish we could be. Maybe it's good that we aren't, lol, but there's nothing stopping us from making our characters brazen enough to be envied. Is there? Nope, we can do whatever we want with them!

The scene above has nothing to do with my WIP, but I think I'll make some of my characters as bold as the lady in the scene. And while I'm making them bolder, I believe I'll go over the top with the smelly and psycho ones too. I'm thinking we should exaggerate our character's flaws, behaviors, and moods.  Let's spice things up! Let's give our readers something to talk about--characters that stick in their heads! 2013 is a year for boldness and fun, so lets get to our keyboards and shake things up!

What do you guys think? Good idea or bad idea? Please share your thoughts.

Until next time, happy writing! :)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Healing Summer And Idiots In Bunkers

Happy Monday!

Today is a super duper exciting day! Why? Because I've got the remedy for all your winter blues. In fact, this page is steaming with hotness. You may have to take your shirts off to cool down. Just remember to leave off your web cams.

ROARRRRRR! How's this book cover for pure sizzle?!?! Everyone check their temperatures.... Are we good? Should I call an ambulance?

Okay, before we all have heat strokes, I'll continue by introducing the awesomely amazing author, Elizabeth Seckman.
If the first image didn't melt away the chill, then this beautiful smile is sure to do the trick. Elizabeth is the brilliant creator of Healing Summer. While she's a mind-blowing writer of  romance novels, Elizabeth, also has a  sense of humor that rivals the best of stand up comedians. So, when she told me to pick a question to ask for her Healing Summer blog tour, I chose one to demonstrate her wit.

I asked, "Hey, Elizabeth, do you think those idiots who thought the world would end on December 21st are still hiding in their bunkers, and should we tell them it's safe to come out, or do you think the world is a better place with less dummies running around?"

Okay, Elizabeth...let's have your response.

Hello Celeste…leave it to you, my best writer buddy, to put me on the hottest seat!

What a question: Should we tell the end-of-the-world fearing, bunker loving scaredy pantsers that the world didn’t end on December 21st?

A less opinionated person might not be able to answer this, but since you know me well, and know I have a thought on every subject…I do have a suggestion.

Have you ever watched National Geographic when they film some South American tribe surreptitiously from afar? I'm always amazed at the Nat Geo staff documenting in hushed tones of whispered awe, gaping at the native tribesman who is crushing grain on a stone pestle. All the while, the poor guy swats at flies, just like his ancestors did hundreds of years ago because no one has told him about the wonderful invention of  OFF.

Then the viewers are comforted by the assurances of the documentarian, “We won't interfere with them. We don’t want to upset this rare pocket of history.”

To which, I say…screw that! Maybe they want the OFF. Maybe they’d like to see a TV or an iPod. Perhaps some medical care? A stinking refrigerator?

Yeah, yeah…pocket of living history…blah blah blah.

I’d rather see them have a better standard of living than be human zoos.

How very anthropologically insensitive of me, I know.

But now we have a chance to drop the debate since we have the perfect solution:
We’ll NOT tell the scaredy pantsers the world is still in existence. We’ll just install a few hidden cameras in their Happy Apocalypse bunkers and observe them over the next couple of centuries! We can see  how they evolve or un-evolve. And we can justify it with the knowledge that they CHOSE to separate from society.

Nat Geo has their zoo people and the rain foresters can finally get a pair of Nikes. 

See? What did I tell you guys? Isn't she hilarious?!?!? If you enjoyed your time with Elizabeth, and I know you did, you can discover more of her awesomeness, and check out her books by clicking on the link: Amazon

Also, check out more of Elizabeth's stops on her Healing Summer blog tour. FYI: the blogger who receives the most comments, wins a prize, so be sure and cast your vote. I sooo want that to be me!  Vote at her blog here:   Use Your Words...

Visit her here: Elizabeth's GoodReads page

Last but not least, to sum it all up and entice you further, here's the Healing Summer blurb.

Maybe Love, Not Time, Heals All Wounds

Ditched at the altar…biopsied for cancer…Mollie Hinkle is having a bona fide bitch of a summer. When life sucks so hard it takes your breath away, what's a girl to do? Pack a bag, grab a few friends, and leave the past and the worry in the rear view mirror. What wounds can’t be healed by a drive across the Heartland, where quarter flips at cross roads determine the route and the future? All roads lead to Craig, the second son and bad boy of the haughty Coulter line. Has fate brought her to the miniscule Montana town to find happily ever after or will it just break her heart?

“Healing Summer” is the second book in the Coulter Men Series.

FYI, I've read the book, and I can tell you, it's a must read! So, snatch up your copy today!

Until next time, happy writing, friends! 

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

IWSG Post--What To Do When The Tank Is Out Of Gas And There's Nothing But Hills Ahead...

This is an IWSG post, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. For more inspiring posts, visit...

As you all may have guessed, my title is a metaphor for a common problem I think we all share as writers. When we we're deep into our WIP and all the magic is gone, we're running on fumes, and there's no coasting, but all climbing, what are we to do? Well, first, eat lots of chocolate and say a prayer. That's what I do anyway. But comfort food and time on our knees will only take us so far. Eventually, we have to put on our wading boots and sift through the muck.

It was a little over four years ago that I started my first draft of Sebastian Falls. If I had given up at the first hill I came to, then I'd have never written a word. Why? Well, because I didn't own a computer, not even an old school typewriter. All I had was this story begging to be written, a pencil, and four blank notebooks. That's right, I wrote my first draft of Sebastian Falls entirely by hand. But I knew if I wrote the story, then one day it would get published. Only me being a naive rookie, I thought I'd get published as soon as I typed my first draft. Boy was I in for heartbreak.

As soon as I finished the story, a friend took pity on me. She had an old computer collecting dust in her garage and let me have it. I was pumped! I typed every chance I had. I'd stay up into the wee hours, tapping my story out. Even when the dinosaur desktop started smoking and the wires crackling, I kept going. Miraculously, I manged to get it all typed without the dang thing catching fire.

After I finished, someone, I can't remember who, told me I needed an agent. Sure, piece of cake. I bought a book of agents and a cheap laptop. Then the kiss of death...I thought I could woo my top ten list of hot shot agents over the phone. I can't remember how many I called, but needless to say, I got the same response from all of them. "You need to write a query letter." So, I did, but it took forever to get it halfway right.

A long time into my search, an agent requested my full. But I needed to do rewrites. I ended up rewriting my whole story, but the agent dropped out of the business before I could submit my darling to her. That was a huge setback to my psyche. The world was ending, or so I thought.

For awhile, I gave up writing. Actually, I intended to never write again, but my heart had other plans. It wouldn't let me throw away my dreams. But it also wouldn't let me submit my story as is. Nope, my manuscript still needed work, so I started another rewrite. That time, in first person/present tense. And to refuel my gas tank, to give me a boost, I decided to query an agent that my dear friend, Elizabeth Seckman, told me about. Elizabeth helped me write a better letter then I sent it to said agent. Elizabeth knew I wasn't finished with my rewrite, so she said, "I hope you get caught with your pants down. I hope that agent requests your full and lights a fire under your butt." Guess what? That's exactly what happened. So, I told agent I needed to rework my ending. She had no clue I was about 50k words short.

I tapped out those 50k in a month then sent it to the interested agent. Six weeks later, she set up an appointment to chat with me over the phone. I'd never known an agent to waste time on phone calls, so I thought she was prepared to offer me representation. Except, our phone call never happened. The agent rescheduled three times, but in the end, she sent me an email to say she didn't want to rep me. Again, I found myself wanting to give up and did, but only for a few days.

After I worked up a fresh batch of courage, I started querying again, but this time, I added a few publishers to the lineup. Six weeks later, World Castle Publishing offered me a contract, and I said YESSSSS! My point to the whole story: Don't ever give up on your dreams, no matter how low you feel, or how many hills are ahead of you! We are but a small piece to the bigger puzzle, and Someone far bigger than we are is in control. We have no right to give up on our destiny, but the privilege to fulfill it.

I hope this inspires somebody to keep going. Until the next time, happy writing, friends.