life, Trying ME on for Size, Writing

NEW Book!

publication1

Okay, here’s the thing. I’ve been absent for quite some time, and I’ve hinted at a new “project” I was working on. Well, that project was ME. In July of 2015 I underwent Weight Loss Surgery and my life has been forever altered. I’ve lost 112 pounds and I feel like I can fit in my own skin now. It’s an incredible feeling.

It’s not for everyone. It’s controversial. Some people think it’s “cheating” or taking the “easy way” out. (It’s neither of those, actually, and I truly don’t understand that mentality. Cheating what? The billion dollar weight-loss industry? Okay! I’m good with that!) But I did it and it’s been life-changingly wonderful for me.

And so, I wrote a book. Cos that’s what I do. So here it is… partially story of my own journey, partially a workbook to help people decide if it’s right for them (or simply to learn what people go through with this tool). If you’re interested, you can click on the photo of my cover above, or you can click right here to get to the Amazon page. Right now, only the e-book is available, but the paperback will be out next week.

This is a personal journey, made less personal by putting it on Amazon. It’s a vulnerable experience, especially for an introvert like me. But I’m hopeful that it can help someone else going through the same journey. If that’s the case, then it’s worth it all.

And yes, book two of Drawn In is still happening, and it’s nearing completion. I promise. 🙂

Drawn In, Fun, Writing

Quick Poll for a Short Story… Cast your vote!

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Yes, I am absolutely still working on book two, so let me get that out of the way first. BUT I also have ideas for short stories / novellas featuring Rennie and the gang, exploring some prequel material and some alternate points of view. All of these would be very spoiler-y so they would only be intended for those who have already read Drawn In. But the bonus is that I can work on these simultaneously with book two (with quicker results to getting them out to YOU!). So I’m curious which idea you as a reader would most like to see… help me out, wouldja?

For ease of use, I’ve narrowed it down to four options… leave your vote in the comment section here (or on Facebook if that’s easier for you), or message me if your answer is more involved.

I already have a plan for a prequel short story that will take place after book two, but even the short version of that description would be spoiler-y so you’ll just have to trust me that it’ll be fun. Whether or not that sways you in any way towards or away from the prequel option here, I thought it was only fair to disclose since it’s already partially in the works.

Okay, that’s it. Go vote!

(PS – if you have a different idea or a twist on one of the above ideas, lay it on me! I’m always open to suggestion.)

Book Two, Writing

Sputter… sputter… cough…

funny-women-and-the-check-engine-light-01

Yes, that is the sound of my engine stalling. My writing engine has been stalled for a while now. I still make progress, but not nearly at the rate I want to be, and it gets incredibly frustrating. Especially when I know that I have people awaiting the second book. It’s such an amazing thing to have people anxious for my story and my characters… I know Rennie would be so pleased (well, Maia would be pleased. Rennie would be a little mystified by that, I think).

I notice myself getting lots of mental prep done (which is a big part of it for me… I do most of my writing in my head and then just translate to paper… anyone else do that?) and then suddenly I’m chasing plot bunnies, or distracted by the fact that I haven’t stumbled onto the perfect title yet, or cruising around Pintrest and Polyvore wondering what Rennie would be wearing whilst running through the forest at 2am with Ethan.

When I buckled down and got to work on Drawn In to finally finish it and get it out into the world, I had a set schedule and I made myself stick to it. I’ve been lacking in that sort of discipline lately and it definitely shows. So here I am, publicly stating that I am setting a schedule for myself. Hear that, world? I’m on the move, so watch out!

Book Two, Writing

Showing Some Love to the Love Triangle

Katniss-vs-Bella

Love triangles get a bad rap in the YA world these days. Personally, as a reader, I enjoy them. But I enjoy them within certain parameters. They have to be well done, well crafted. They should be an interesting and fun (and sometimes agonizing!) part of the plot, but they should not BE the plot.

I read a comparison once that aptly depicted this distinction for me. Basically it said that without the love triangle, the Hunger Games is about a girl fighting for her life in a televised fight to the death and accidentally sparking a revolution. While Twilight without the love triangle is about a girl who moves to a small town where it rains a lot.

I knew that I would be dealing with a love triangle of sorts in my second book. What I didn’t know is how much I would LOVE writing it! It has been so much fun, and I’m finding some elements and depths of characters that I didn’t expect which is always a bonus. I rarely write in order anyway, I write what is most pressing, or whatever is loudest in my head. And these days when I sit down to write, I find that it’s almost always the triangley bits. I’m sure when I’m putting it all together and doing my editing, I’ll find that I have way more than I actually need. But that’s okay too. Maybe I’ll release a “director’s cut” version of my book with the deleted scenes. Ha! 🙂

So what are your thoughts on love triangles? What is the BEST one you’ve read?

Book Two, Writing

8 Things I’ve learned about Sequel Writing

part ii

So, as it turns out, writing book two is hard. This isn’t a surprise, per se. And yet… it is. You see, when I was writing book one, there was a lot of time spent in learning the basic craft of the writing itself. A lot of time in re-writing and editing and deleting and finding my way. There was also a LOT of time spent figuring out my very basic plot elements. Drawn In was based on a dream that I had, and that dream remained the basis of my story. But, as dreams tend to be, it wasn’t complete. It wasn’t a story. So that was difficult in its own way, but I’m not dealing with that part of the process now. I know my story, I know where I’m headed, and I am really comfortable with Rennie’s voice now. So those things are coming easier, for sure. However … now I’m dealing with a whole new set of issues, and some of them are a little unexpected. Here are a few things that I’m learning as I write book two:

  • Action and plot are not the same thing
  • A love triangle does not have to be central to the story, but it’s SO much fun to play with
  • A quirky first line is not as useful as a functional first line
  • Minor characters from book one DEMAND equal page time in book two (if not more)
  • Names are important
  • Details are important
  • People have Expectations now (and I like it!)
  • I love love love world-building

Such an interesting thing this writing thing is, and I’m so happy to have this as a part of my life. It’s funny to admit, but you know what? I kind of feel like a writer now.

Drawn In, Writing

Planning & Organdizing for a Book Birthday

an-expotition-to-the-north-pole

When Winnie the Pooh and crew head off on an “expotition” to the North Pole, Pooh and Rabbit “organdize” the search and secure provisions. With my book birthday steadily approaching, I feel a bit like Pooh Bear (more than usual even). There are so many bits and pieces that need to be lined up and orchestrated and put in their Proper Places. It can become a bit overwhelming and on more than one occasion I’ve wanted to throw my hands up and declare “Oh bother!”

But every day, things are happening. My notes are getting less daunting as I weed through them. My list of “to-do”s is getting crossed off item by item. And slowly but surely, there is Progress. I’m happy to report that I have half of my blog tour dates filled up (yay! And I’m still on the lookout for filling a few more dates, so if you’re interested, message me or leave a comment!)

As part of my blog tour, I’m arranging for giveaways. One of these giveaways will be an annotated copy of my book. I’ve always wanted to win one of those, so I figure the next best thing is to do one myself to give away! So here’s my question for you… if you won a novel with notes from the author, what sorts of things would you be most excited about finding in the margins?

The author’s favourite passages?

Subtext of characters?

Hints at the next book?

Things that got cut or changed along the way?

Background on real places within the story?

What would YOU most like to find hidden there just for you?

Drawn In, Writing

A teeny tiny preview

jackpot

One of the blogs I follow had a post this week that I thought was just too cute to pass up. She said she had been tagged in the “777 Challenge.” Now, truth be told, I have been tagged by nobody. But I’m gonna play anyway. So here it is.

The rules are simple. You take your current WIP and post the seven lines which start seventh down on the seventh page. Got it? I know, not exactly rocket surgery, right? So here’s a little background first:

But first, a little background so it’s not completely out of left field. Since it’s only page seven, we’re still in chapter one. My main character Rennie is spending the summer in California, where her best friend Maia moved six months ago. Naturally, for her first night in town, Maia takes Rennie to a beach bonfire. Before she can even dip her toes in the Pacific, two unexpected events change the course of her summer (and potentially so much more). First, she has a vision which transports her to a world she’s seen only in her dreams. It leaves her rattled, but no one else saw anything unusual so she tries her best to file it away for later and just have a good time. Then, as she’s about to meet Maia’s new friends, she gets hit square in the shoulder with a pile of driftwood. She intends to give this bulldozer impersonator a piece of her mind, but when she sees him, she stops dead in her tracks. Alex is beautiful … and maybe even a little familiar?

So my seven lines are Rennie’s first attempt to speak to him when he asks if she’s all right. Here goes:

“Are you okay? I really should have been watching where I was going.” His voice is soft and poetic, a raspy quality that makes me want to lean in to hear him better.

“I’ll be fine, it’s problem. No! Problem. Fine.” Was that me? That wasn’t even a sentence! “I’m okay.” Better. Keep it short, keep breathing. Maia’s looking at me like I just grew a third arm and I realize too late that this is so not the first impression I would have wanted to make. When I was sane, I mean. I bite my lip and glance away. I’m just certain I knew how to form sentences this morning. Maybe I can blame that vision. I can’t quite shake the eerie feeling of having just been somewhere else.

“I didn’t catch your name,” he says, gallantly rescuing me from myself.

“Rennie!” I say, just a little too loudly. I clear my throat and try to recover my wits. “Rennie Winters.”

Okay, granted, not a huge preview. But just a tiny glimpse into their interaction. I love my characters. 🙂

I wasn’t tagged, so I’m not going to tag anyone either. But if you want to play, please tag me so I can see your WIP preview too!

Books, Writing

Indie Inspiration

inspiration-is-everywhere-sketch

 

A while back I posted about switching my publishing role models. I mean, if I’m looking to self-publish, then I shouldn’t be looking to the career arcs of Veronica Roths and Suzanne Collinses and JK Rowlings. They are great role models in many ways, I’m sure, but comparing their meteoric rise to what a regular human can expect to achieve is a bit disheartening. So instead, I started looking to amazing indie authors for inspiration. The two that immediately came to mind were Sarah J Maas and Kate Avery Ellison. I love their work, and while they’ve had vastly different career paths, both are very encouraging to me as I start out.

Well, one of those inspiring authors has inspired me yet again. Kate Avery Ellison has just released a new book. I know, nothing all that amazing about that for a publishing author, right? But wait… here’s the story. She is currently writing a YA series based on Atlantis mythology called Secrets of Itlantis (find the first one here). The third one was just released in August of this year, so it’s brand spankin’ new. In fact, all three books of the trilogy were released this year. But book three? That’s not the book I’m talking about. No, somehow in between writing books two and three, she came across a draft of an older manuscript that she’d never published. So she took it back out, dusted it off, gave it some TLC and now voila! Book.

gift of poison

 

And that, my friends, is inspirational to me. I’ve been working for three years to get one book in shape to publish (granted, it’s my first and there is quite a steep learning curve, but still…), and here she is publishing an entire trilogy PLUS an old WIP all in one year.

Is it okay to say that I want to be her when I grow up?

Writing

Writer’s Bucket List

bucket list

 

Confession right up front: I’m totally stealing this idea. I follow a great writing blog by Ave Jae (you can find her list here) and I found it so inspiring, and a great way to keep an eye on the prize. It also made me think about what “the prize” really is. Mine will be different since I’m not focusing on traditional publishing. But it’s precisely because of this reason that I want to do this. I think it will help to focus me since I feel a little flounder-y at the moment. So, with a hint from Ava Jae, I’m starting with a few things that I’ve already accomplished (because really, what is better than crossing things off a list?). So here goes…

  1. Finish first draft of a full-length novel
  2. Finish initial edit of a novel
  3. Finish final edits of a novel
  4. Choose fantastic cover art
  5. Go to a writer’s convention
  6. Publish my first book!
  7. Hold a finished, published, perfect copy of my book in my hands
  8. Have a launch party
  9. Have a book signing
  10. Get a great review from a complete stranger
  11. Outline a whole trilogy
  12. Complete a trilogy
  13. Get a fan letter
  14. Be someone’s favourite author
  15. See fanfic based on my characters
  16. See a tattoo based on my books
  17. Have an agent seek me out

So there we have it! What’s on your list?

Writing

First Line Pressure

call-me-ishmael

I think that most readers (readers who are non-writers, anyway) take for granted the beauty of a great first line. Unless it’s just crazy famous like “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” or “It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen” or “Call me Ishmael,” most people don’t even remember what the first line of a book was by the time they come to the end. I’ll even say most people don’t remember what the first line was by the time they come to the second line. Ouch.

But still, that magical first line is all important. A good first line will give you a taste of the genre, the time, the setting, the mood, the main character and the voice.  A great first line will manage to sum up the entire struggle or premise of the story without telling you that’s what it’s doing. First lines are hard.

I’ve been struggling with mine for some time now. I had one that I loved – truly loved – but it turned out that I was starting my book in the wrong place, so the first line had to go. (I actually just moved it later and turned it into a bit of dialogue. I couldn’t bear to part with it.) And ever since I moved my opening to a more appropriate place, I can’t quite recapture the feeling of that original first line. Maybe it means I’m not starting in the right place again. Maybe it means that I’m not embracing the big picture of my novel early enough. Or maybe it means I’m putting too much pressure on myself to come up with a great first line.

So that’s my current struggle. Anyone out there have a first line tip to share? Or a first line that inspires you? Let’s hear it!