Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (July 26)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My read today is "Mister Monday" - Book One in the "Keys to the Kingdom" series.

 "The voice was commanding, and once again Arthur felt the urge to reveal himself, to run out. But he felt a countervailing force from the Key and the Atlas in his backpack."

Monday, July 25, 2011

Gearing Up for New Stuff!

Happy Monday to y'all! My book is coming out in 21 days! Yay! :)

A lot of people have put time and energy into making this book come out on time. Thanks to my rockin' publisher Randi at TLT Publishing, my fantabulous editor Farrah who made sure everything was correct (and triple checked it, too), and my diligent publicist Caroline who is making contacts for me to set up book signings. I could not do this alone and I'm SO glad to have this team behind me. :)

What's next?

Book signings!
We've been trying to schedule signings at various venues in various cities. (I live in So. California so the signings will be local right now. Unless you want to put me up at your house. And you're not a creeper.) ;)  I'm looking forward to the signings and talking to people about the book.

Writing workshops - We've also been setting up workshops at local schools. I am really excited about this! Talking to kids about writing is going to be cool. I hope. Anyone have any ideas they want to share about workshops? Leave me a message or e-mail me about it.

Book Two - Yes, I've already finished my edits on the second book of the series. I need to do a final read through before I turn it in. It'll be edited and reworked until it's ready for the public eye. Cover art, typesetting, all that good stuff will be applied to it. It'll be out next year. Yay! :)

New blog posts - I always read blog posts from other authors, readers, book bloggers, and various other blogs that interest me. I like that some people have regular posts to look forward to each week. I would like to do something like that. I'm still working on the concept. If you have any ideas, let me know. Want me to answer questions about myself? And writing in general? How I write specifically? What else I do in my life when I'm not writing?

Because I'm a fan of alliteration, I'm leaning toward daily titles like, "Melissa-ish Mondays" "Writing Wednesdays" "Photo Fridays"...that sort of thing. I also like the memes that other bloggers have so I'll do some more of those.

I'll be going on vacation later this week (Beach Camping! In a tent!) so I'll be on a "blogcation" starting Wednesday. Which means I'll have a lot of catching up to do when I get back.

I hope to do some writing in my notebook with my favorite pen while listening to the waves crash on the shore. And my children throw sand at each other. And 30 teenagers run around. :)  (We're youth group leaders at our church and we're taking the teens to the beach for 6 days. Crazy? Quite possibly. But it's fun-crazy. And what's better than the beach??)

I love Southern California!
(My photos)

Friday, July 22, 2011

TGIF Bookshelf Tour

 TGIF is a feature hosted by Ginger at GReads! Ginger asks a fun question every week and bloggers post their answers. This week's question was right up my alley! Check it out below:
This Friday's Question:

Bookshelf Tour: Where do you keep your books at home? 
Are they organized?

My books live in bookshelves, for the most part. (They are a few on nightstands and in the attic.) Quick pics of my (many) bookshelves.
Full view

Top portion

Bottom portion

This is "my" main bookshelf. I say "my" like that because I also have books on the other shelves in my house but this one is full of MY books. :)  They are organized alphabetically by author. I won't tell you all of the books because that would take a long time. Highlights are: Complete Works of Wm. Shakespeare (topmost shelf), Jane Eyre, Ally Carter books (GG series is on the shelf, my sister is borrowing my Heist Society series), Artemis Fowl series, Christy Miller series, Mitford series, Gail Carson Levine books, Narnia series, Spindle's End by Robin McKinley, Anne of Green Gables series, Eragon series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians (the awesome boxed set!), Harry Potter series, Little House on the Prairie series. (Can you tell I like series books?) I have some random books at the bottom that I recently bought at thrift stores or library book sales.

 Another shelf in the office. Top two shelves are spy/thriller/mystery sorts of books. John Grisham, Michael Crichton, Clive Cussler.

The bottom are MG and kids books. The Indian in the Cupboard, The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, My Side of the Mountain, The Phantom Tollbooth, Disney storybooks, Star Wars books, the Cat in the Hat. SO many kids books.

And more shelves in the office! Vintage kids books (pic 2), Presidents of the USA books & Hardy Boys books (pic 3), theology books, general knowledge books, trivia books, history books, car repair books, craft books. Yeah, we read a lot of different stuff.

My favorite books sit on a special shelf above my desk. To Kill A Mockingbird, Woman in White, EVERY Jane Austen novel written, Shakespeare's Sonnets, Enchantment. 

Bookshelf in the living room. Tom Clancy (yes, I read them too, not just my husband), John Grisham, Ranger's Apprentice, Gone with the Wind pictoral movie book, lots of scrapbooks, more kids books (those are the messy ones at the bottom).

We also have three bookshelves up in the attic. Plus a few boxes of books in the attic. We love books. Quite a lot.

Monday, July 18, 2011

How Do You Get Started?

"How do you even get started writing a book??" 

I've been asked this question many times. Many, many times.

To begin, I never set out to write a book. I started jotting down ideas for a "story." (Silly me, thinking I could do something so short and simple!) My husband bought me a little Moleskin notebook when he noticed I was scribbling on random bits of paper. I was constantly muttering to myself and making notes. "What if the girl does this? Or if she was like this?" I'd wake up in the middle of the night with a sudden new idea and write it down as fast as I could so I wouldn't lose it.

I went back to school to finish my B.A. after my second son was born. In a writing class, we had an assignment to write a three to four page short story. I had a light bulb moment. *My notebook with bits of ideas!* I sat down and started plugging away. When I was on page ten, I realized I had a problem. "Hey, Chris. Um, I'm about seven pages over where I should be. I don't think I can shorten this story." My husband (genius that he is) said, "Why don't you leave it and start something new? Work on the longer one later." *ding ding ding, we have a winner!*

I wrote a cute little short story about a diner. I told my friend Allison about my longer story. "It's about a princess and some messed up fairy blessings." "E-mail it to me and I'll read it." *gasp!* Could I show someone my story? Something that I had worked on, written little notes about for so long? Part of my heart was in it. I sucked it up and sent it along. And I'm very glad that I did. Allison and I are now writing and critique partners. (She's an amazing writer with SO many stories written.) It's great to have someone read your work and know where it can be stronger. Or which characters to work on and which ones to kill off.

My super easy formula for writing is this - pick your main character (MC). Guy or girl? Name your MC (one of my favorite things to do!) What attributes does she have? Write those down. What does she look like? What world is she living in? Family structure? Write everything down. And do NOT throw it away/delete it. You never know what you can use later.

Next, ask yourself, "What is the main problem?" What is your MC going through? Lastly, "How does the problem get resolved?" That's your main outline: multi-faceted character in world, big problem, resolution of problem.

Now, fill in the rest! That's the fun part. Who does your MC meet? Friend or foe? What influences your MC to act? Is there a love interest? How does that play into the final plot resolution? Does your MC grow during the story? (I hope so!) No one likes a static character. If it's a YA novel, there should be some sign of growth, of maturity.

Once you're done outlining, work on a bit of dialogue. Give your characters an authentic voice. They should each sound different from each other. Maybe the grandmotherly sort of characters don't use contractions. Maybe someone has an accent. Maybe a character is always being interrupted. Find those catch phrases for each character.

From there, start writing!
Look at your outline, start at Chapter One, and just...let go. Let your fingers start writing. Your imagination will kick in. Don't overthink things. DO NOT EDIT YET. You can always edit later.( I name my manuscripts (MS) as THE SEVENTH BLESSING_1, TSB_2, TSB_3, etc.) Don't save over your previous work. Make a new file. You might go back a few days, weeks, months later and say, "What was that one line that I loved??" You can look at previous "editions" and find that line or descriptor that worked.

Very importantly, find a writing buddy/critique partner. This can be someone online or someone local. Find a person whose reading/writing habits mesh with yours. You don't want a CP who only reads once a month while you read every day. That is unbalanced and can create animosity. If your CP hates sci-fi and that's what you write, that's not going to work out. Find a CP and give it a trial run. See what comments that person makes on, say, ten pages of your MS. Do you value their input (even if you don't like it?). What I mean is, can you see the value of their criticism? It might hurt but does it make your writing better?

After you have a few edits done to it, send it on to some "beta testers." Hopefully these are friends who can read on the computer. (Not everyone can do this for lengthy periods of time.) Listen to what your betas say about the story. You don't have to change your whole story for them but see if they point out any plot holes or unanswered questions. If they are seeing those, you can guarantee your future readers will see those.

So, that's what I do. What do you guys do? :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

TLT Authors and Peeps

Did you know that I have the coolest publisher? The Little Things Publishing Co. really does care about the little things. And the big things too. They sign the best authors who are also awesome people! :) 

Here are a few upcoming titles from TLT that are available for preorder (use discount code fffxxx2tlt for 30% off).

Check 'em, follow them on Twitter, follow their blogs.

And we have ALL kinds of genres here. Adventure, epic fantasy, paranormal, general fiction, a touch of romance,  mystery...something for everyone!

DARTBOARD by J.D. Gordon
Release date: September 1, 2011

VALREN by Kerry Castorano
Release date: September 22, 2011
Twitter: @TheValren

Geeta Schrayter's book REACHING RIVERDALE is scheduled to be released September 2011
Twitter: @PrincessGeeta 

Sang Kromah's book CONCEALED is scheduled to release in October 2011.
Twitter: @SangWrites

Paul Schumacher's book LITTLE RED WOLF is set to be released October 2011
Twitter: @PWSchum 

SM Blooding's novel DEMONS ARE JACKASSES is due to be released October 2011
Twitter: @SMBlooding

Other TLT people to follow:

Farrah Penn is my editor and she is fantabulous. Super friendly, professional, and fun! If you want an editor who will take the time to read your work and help you polish it up, check out Farrah.
Twitter: @FarrahWrites

{[Matt Maniscalco Art]} 

Matt made the awesome cover art for my novel. He's a fantastic artist. (Look at my book cover that he did!)

Twitter: @MattManiscalco



Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Teaser Tuesday 1

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I read all the time. Really. I finish a book a day, usually. My new read is FLIPPED by Wendelin Van Draanen. A very fun premise. (I haven't seen the movie.)

"Face it, pulling a ditch is not something discussed with dads. It's like, against parental law to tell your kid it's okay to ditch someone, no matter how annoying or muddy they might be."

I love this part. :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Taking Photos - July

One of my Favorite Things To Do (I have quite a few FTTD) is to take photos. I don't have a super expensive camera but the one I do have is really fun and easy to use. And I get some great pics from it. My little sister loves to take photos so we headed over to the Fullerton Arboretum to get some photos of her in her prom dress that she made herself. Yes, you read that right. SHE MADE HER OWN PROM DRESS. (She's pretty fantastic like that.) It was a contest sponsored by Joann Fabrics. The winner gets a college scholarship so she decided to enter. Let me know what you think about her dress. And the photos. :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Personality Test

One of the things I love to do on my characters is a Meyers-Briggs personality test. (You can find them online for free.) It's a great way to make sure you're writing characters with different personalities. You can also compare how your characters interact with someone of a different personality. (Plus, it's a fun test to take for yourself.) It's kinda weird to see how accurate the tests are. The test takes a few minutes to complete (it has 70+ yes-or-no questions). Your personality is split into four separate categories.

You are either Introverted/Extroverted, Sensing/Intuition, Thinking/Feeling, Judgment/Perception. Your percentage goes from one side of the scale to the other (more or less introverted, etc.)

Here's my results (hopefully you feel you know me better now!):

Your Type is
INTJ ("Mastermind")
Strength of the preferences %
You are:
  • distinctively expressed introvert
  • moderately expressed intuitive personality
  • moderately expressed thinking personality
  • very expressed judging personality


Monday, July 4, 2011

Now available for pre-order!

My fantastic publisher The Little Things Publishing Co. has made their website even better! Many 2011 titles are available for pre-order now. Including....MINE! :)

That's right, folks. You can pre-order THE SEVENTH BLESSING now. There is a special discount code for you to get 30% off your order. Use the following discount: fffxxx2tlt .