Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Wednesday WOLF

I've got a collection of random information in my brain that makes me an awesome Trivial Pursuit partner, but is completely useless when it comes to real world application. Like say, job applications. I thought I'd share some of this random crap with you in the form of another acronym-ific series. I give you - Word Origins from Left Field - that's right, the WOLF  Er... ignore the fact that the "from" doesn't fit.

You probably know what an oxymoron is, but in case you don't I'll supply you with a definition and a few examples. An oxymoron is a combination of what appear to be contradictory terms. Here are some fun ones:

Civil War
Act Naturally
Only Choice

But what does oxymoron mean? It's from the Greek "sharp fool," or "sharp dull."

My favorite oxymoron?

Good morning.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Author Kerry Reed On Taking A Germ of An Idea & Building It Into A Story

Inspiration is a funny thing. It can come to us like a lightning bolt, through the lyrics of a song, or in the fog of a dream. Ask any writer where their stories come from and you’ll get a myriad of answers, and in that vein I created the WHAT (What the Hell Are you Thinking?) interview. Always including in the WHAT is one random question to really dig down into the interviewees mind, and probably supply some illumination into my own as well.

Today's guest for the WHAT is Kerry Reed, author of DREAMSCAPE. Kerry graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in English and then from George Mason University with a Masters in Literature because apparently she couldn’t get enough of the books. She loves transatlantic accents, blackberry frappes, and old-school British detective novels. She writes YA Fantasy but enjoys a good story wherever she finds one.

Ideas for our books can come from just about anywhere, and sometimes even we can’t pinpoint exactly how or why. Did you have a specific origin point for your book?

I absolutely agree that ideas can come from anywhere and everywhere. For me, the germ of an idea usually begins with one very clear scene or concept. I might not know how the story starts of where it ends but I can picture that one tiny piece in my mind and it all grows from there. For Dreamscape (I literally just opened an early draft to check) I wrote the first scene first, which for me is actually pretty rare. The story opens in Chloe’s dream, a sunlit field she remembers from childhood and a strange boy she’s never seen before. I really liked the idea of a serial dreamer so powerful she dreams an entire world into existence. The story isn’t quite like that, but that was the initial concept.   

Once the original concept existed, how did you build a plot around it?

Once I had this concept of Chloe’s dream-world, certain things fell into place. I wanted the magic in the story to feel like the way a dream works. This idea, that the “magic” of the dream-world mimics the fluid possibility of dreams in general, and is powerful but often unconsciously employed by the dreamer, ended up sparking the central conflict of the story. 

Have you ever had the plot firmly in place, only to find it changing as the story moved from your mind to paper?

Constantly. I usually do make a basic outline after I’ve written my first few scenes but if you look back at my outlines they rarely resemble the final project. Often it’s not until I’m in the middle of something that I figure out what actually makes sense (or what doesn’t) – or I think of something (hopefully) more clever than my original plan. 

I also tend to write in circles, adding in the parts I have most clear in my mind first and then working in the rest. When I reach the end, I begin again (and so forth and so on). Since I’ve started working with a critique partner I’ve modulated this somewhat – like everything else my writing process is a work-in-progress – but if I have a scene in my mind I always find it worthwhile to put it to paper, even if I change it later.  

Do story ideas come to you often, or is fresh material hard to come by?

So many ideas, so little time. Right now since I only write part time, I feel like I have more ideas than I could ever actually use. Of course some of them are probably terrible… I have several abandoned drafts that didn’t quite “work” for one reason or another. And I’ve had those days where I literally cannot manage to write a single sentence and cut my losses and head to Netflix. But the idea part isn’t usually the problem.

How do you choose which story to write next, if you’ve got more than one percolating?

For me if there’s one idea or story that I can’t not write, even if I should be working on something else, I usually end up starting with that one. At minimum I try to get down whatever part is in my head even if I do set it aside after that. If I don’t have that itch I try to focus on whichever story is closest to completion. When in doubt it’s always better to have a full draft of something than to have a million openings (or, in my case, random scenes) of promising but unfinished projects. 

I have 8 cats (seriously, check my Instagram feed) and I usually have at least one or two snuggling with me when I write. Do you have a writing buddy, or do you find it distracting?

This question is making me miss my dog, who was a champion snuggler, and tempted me to write more than a few chapters on my couch. These days I do most of my writing in coffee shops and my local Panera where I have lots of stranger-writing-buddies. They don’t know me and they don’t realize it, but their imaginary judgment forces me to focus.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Recap of Release Week & A New Podcast On Writing and Branding


Today’s guest on the podcast is JR Johansson author of the Night Walkers trilogy as well as CUT ME FREE and THE ROW. J.R. Johansson's books have been published in a dozen languages and more than twenty countries worldwide. She has a B.S. degree in public relations and a background in marketing. She joins host Mindy McGinnis to talk about the process of landing her agent, how writing thrillers came to be her brand, as well as the pros and cons of writing a series versus writing stand alones.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

GIVEN TO THE EARTH Release Day & Giveaway!

It's here!

GIVEN TO THE EARTH, the second and final in The Given Duet, releases today! If you're in Ohio, be sure to come and visit me and one of the many events I have planned throughout the week in order to celebrate three fantastic things:

1) Given To The Earth Release
2) It's National Library Week
3) The Ohioana Book Festival

I have a literal ton of events throughout Ohio this week. For more information on events outside of Ohio, check my site! Enter the Rafflecopter below to win signed copies of both SEA and EARTH!

April 10 6-8PM: Cover to Cover Books

April 11 @ 7PM: Pickerington Library Sycamore Plaza Branch

April 12 @ 7:30PM: Cardington Public Library

April 14 10:30 - 5 PM: Ohioana Book Festival

Duty, fate, desire, and destiny collide in this intricately wrought tale, perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas.

Although she was born to save the kingdom by sacrificing herself to the rising sea, Khosa's marriage to King Vincent has redeemed her. As the Queen of Stille, she's untouchable. But being Queen hasn't stopped her heart from longing for the King's stepbrother, Donil. And it hasn't stopped her body from longing for the sea itself, which still calls for her.

While Khosa is made to choose between loyalty and love, Dara is on a mission for vengeance. Years ago, the Pietra slaughtered the entire Indiri race, leaving only Dara and her twin, Donil, alive. Now, spurned by King Vincent, Dara has embarked on a mission to spill the blood of Pietra's leader, Witt, and will stop at nothing to show his people the wrath of the last Indiri. 

As the waves crash ever closer to Stille, secrets are revealed, hearts are won and lost, and allegiances change like the shifting sand.

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Monday, April 9, 2018

New Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire Podcast Episode & Where I'll Be This Week

This is a very busy week for me, with three events today alone (I'm throwing together a post here in a library before I do an event in half an hour), and a launch party for GIVEN TO THE EARTH tomorrow.

Today’s guest on the podcast is Jenny Martin author of the Sci Fi YA Novels TRACKED and MARKED. Jenny joined me today to talk about the importance of critique partners – how to find them, how to treat them, and how to keep them, as well as writing for the sake of writing, instead of for the sake of being published.

I have many, many, many events both this week and throughout the month of April! Please check out my site for the clickable links for each event listed below:

Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Saturday Slash

Meet my Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description RC Lewis and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.

We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to punch them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox.

If you're looking for query advice, but are slightly intimidated by my claws, blade, or just my rolling googly-eyes, check out the query critique boards over at AgentQueryConnect. This is where I got my start, with advice from people smarter than me. Don't be afraid to ask for help with the most critical first step of your writing journey - the query. My comments appear in green.

After the death of her older brother, eleven-year-old Riley Tompkins looks for escape within a mysterious book written by her grandfather. But when the book’s story begins to spill into reality, Riley discovers that its pages hide a dark secret: one that could help bring back her brother—or unleash a terrible power. Oooohhh. Good hook.

After Riley finds Summer in the Wood under a floorboard in her grandfather’s old house in Vermont, she follows its plot deep into the woods. You're backtracking a little bit here, which is a waste of space in a query. There, she meets an enigmatic girl who let’s no apostrophe Riley in on the secret she’s been waiting for: Magic is real, and there’s a summer camp just up the Connecticut River where kids can learn it.

Riley enrolls at the Wheelock Institute’s Summer Program to study dunamis—the ancient art of using imagination to shape the world. But between lessons on Bookmaking, Cloudherding, and a host of other magical disciplines, Riley must unlock the secrets of her grandfather’s past and race to uncover a long-lost magical object—one that could change the fate of the entire world. By bringing back the dead? You're teasing just a little bit here.

SUMMER IN THE WOOD is a 63,000-word middle-grade fantasy with series potential for fans of the PECULIAR CHILDREN series and Scarlett Thomas’ DRAGON’S GREEN.

Hello! I graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in creative writing and am currently an editor on Scholastic’s Science World, a magazine for grades 6-10. In addition, I have a nonfiction science book scheduled for publication next year with Scholastic library publishing.

Great bio, great query. With a little tweak on that corpse tease, you're good to go.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Book Talk & ARC Giveaway: THE MORTIFICATION OF FOVEA MUNSON by Mary Winn Heider

Fovea Munson is nobody's Igor. True, her parents own a cadaver lab where they perform surgeries on dead bodies. And yes, that makes her gross by association, at least according to everyone in seventh grade. And sure, Fovea's stuck working at the lab now that her summer camp plans have fallen through. But she is by no means Dr. Frankenstein's snuffling assistant!

That is, until three disembodied heads, left to thaw in the wet lab, start talking. To her. Out loud.

What seems like a nightmare, or bizarre hallucination, is not. Fovea is somebody's Igor, all right. Three somebodies, actually. And they need a favor.
With a madcap sense of humor and a lot of heart (not to mention other body parts), this is a story about finding oneself, finding one's friends, and embracing the moment.

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