Friday, December 10, 2010


"I know" First is was finishing the book, then it was editing the book that was keeping me from blogging, and now there's the BIG move. Yes, unfortunately my blog will be down while navigating my move from North Carolina to Arizona. I'm so looking forward to the warmth and sun, especially with the morning lows of 17 Degrees here in Raleigh and to starting an awesome new job.

I promise I won't leave you all for long, and when I get back I'll share all the amazing things I learn about Phoenix and of course more news about UNDISTURBED and the journey to publication.

If I don't the chance to post it, I wish you all a very happy holiday season and prosperous new year.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I'm Finished!! or Just Beginning

I began writing UNDISTURBED on July 17th and today I finally typed the last word. This project feels a million times better than my first, maybe it was all my research, or the challenge of writing a Paranormal Suspense, or the fact that it's my third completed novel this year. The list really goes on and on, but I think it's the fact that this story formed it's own legs while trying to rewrite my first novel, which was developmentally challenged. Even after writing the first 25,000 words of Undisturbed in a week. I stopped and started reading HOW TO WRITE A BREAK OUT NOVEL and eventually moved on to HOOKED. Those too books alone prompted me to start from scratch and really challenge my writing.

I can honestly say that this story is better for it and I'm happy to be entering my favorite stage of writing again, editing. The draft is amazing to finish, but the editing is where it really becomes a great story. I know with my story map and my development questions and a couple of more books that I really have something special in this story, and have laid a foundation for the projects to come.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Live Chat 11/4/10 @ 9pm EST.

Hi All,

I know you're waiting on the next live chat. As I'm finishing up UNDISTURBED, the days have been sneaking up on me.

But we're back in action next week and I hope you'll be able to attend. I don't have a topic at the moment so suggestions are welcome.

Monday, October 25, 2010

100 members and counting: YA/Crossover Rocks!

My writing process began with locking myself in my apartment with no television, phone, or internet. At the time, I thought eliminating every possible distraction would help me focus on the monumental task of completing my first novel. What I learned was that life as a writer is a lonely one, and that husbands look at you crazy when you tell them your characters are talking to you. Earlier this year I reconnected my router and began my search for an online writers community that shared my passion for YA and stories beyond sweet sixteen’s, and senior year.

I happened upon Writer's Digest Community: YA/Crossover, Writers of YA with MC's that were 18 and beyond. WheI I joined there were only 20 members or so, but the group was so welcoming and supportive that quickly felt at home.

The greatest thing about YA crossover is that there are writers of every level from pre-published to published adult authors now writing for YA. We beta read, page critique, share articles, share agent advice, and celebrate each other's accomplishments. Even today, as our group has exceeded 100 members we are still just as supportive as ever.

If you are a writer looking for a real community to join, I urge you to check out YA/Crossover.

Check out what some of our other members have to say about YA/Crossover:

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fanatic Entry #2: Florence +The Machine

Okay so if you’ve been reading my blog you know of my obsession with the Twilight Eclipse soundtrack. Well I have discovered my new favorite.

Are you ready?

Wait for it…

Wait for it.


It’s Florence + The Machine

(I know it was in the blog title, but humor me)

I’ve got to tell you, I haven’t been this in love with an album since The Fray, no Coldplay, no Jay-Z, WAIT! I take that back. NOTHING AND I DO MEAN NOTHING is bigger than Jay-Z, but Florence + The Machine are a close second. Sorry Paramore you held on to the spot as long as you could.

Okay so what I love about Florence + The Machine is that every song on BETWEEN TWO LUNGS is like a journey that transports you to a world of percussion and rhythm that changes the pattern of your heart beat. It’s like hopping on a rollercoaster without leaving you desk. (Okay I know I’m taking it to 10, it’s not Alice in Wonderland, but if there were a musical representation this would be it.)

Their “Heavy in your Arm” On the Eclipse sound track was just the edge and energy I needed to write Amazon Queen’s.

Check out this video and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Live Chat Tonight @ 9pm Est. Synopsis (Ugh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Tonight's topic: Synopsis (Ugh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Space is still limited to 10 participants (Until I have a reason to expand.) So spots are first come, first served.

So here's what you need to know

Logging on to Live Chat: Feel free to log on as guest. You can type over the assigned name with your own.

Should we exceed the chatting limit, you can still participate via twitter using the hashtag #livechat1 (And if you don't know what a hashtag is, because I totally didn't a month ago, you add #livechat1 after your tweet and it's sort of like a filter you can click on after you tweet and follow all the messages.)

Hopefully this is all the house keeping needed. I look forward to chatting with you all.

And again if anyone has live chat topic suggestions or would like to host a sessions please leave a comment or shoot me an email.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


How many of us have read a Novel, Query, or Synopsis and thought 'It seems so simple, surely I could do that.'? So you sit down at your computer, put your fingers to the keys and start the journey to writing that perfect novel, query, and/or synopsis. Somewhere along the way your chest tightens, you feel like your head’s going to explode from the pressure and your shoulders are tense enough to crack granite. Every word you type turns into a landmine of crap that crumbles into a mass grave of broken letters.

What went wrong?

You put the weight of your world on those letters, turning your simple joy of writing into to a bomb detonation exercise.

“It has to be perfect.” “Every word has to count.”

“It has to be appealing.” “I have to hook my reader.”

Ever heard of the phrase KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID, or the less offensive, KEEP IT SHORT & SIMPLE.

Dial down the pressure a bit. I know how important it is to write perfectly and present your best work, but all the stress and pressure does is strain your ability to do so. Yes, you will rewrite your query 30+ times and your novel will see dozens of revisions. Chances are the sentence that sent you into a panic attack yesterday, will be completely re-written or deleted by the end of the month.

I know this is a lot easier said than done. I still get a migraine anytime I look at my query folder, but here’s a little something that’s been helping me depressurize my writing.

Queries: Janet Reid offered the most helpful tip which is so simple it makes me feel remedial WHAT’S YOUR STORY ABOUT? (IN 100 WORDS) I think it’s true that a good story sells itself, and that’s not to say if you can't answer this question in 100 words that your story isn’t. Taking out all those amazing events that warm your heart, piss you off, or make you cry, what is the story about? Start with a sentence.

Examples from one of my works in progress

Soul Stones - A fifteen year old cutter, who is forced to share her body with the soul of a deity.

Then expand on it. Who is the MC? What’s their original problem? (Keep in mind this isn’t your major problem that the story revolves around. It’s more like when you’re driving and your check engine light comes on. At that moment your problem is getting your car home or to a shop. Your major problem is what caused the light to come on.)

Fifteen-year-old Becca Moreno’s days of hiding her self-inflicted cuts are over when during a rave, Rachel, a powerful deity on the run, is forced to enter Becca’s body . Three days later Becca wakes to learn she isn’t the only missing teen, just the only one with a commanding voice in her head.

There’s two MC’s, we know their names, we know their individual problems, and how they came to be in this situation. And we’ve still got 46 words left.

Next is what’s the problems (notice the s on the end. Our MC’s always have multiple problems, one bomb dropping after another.)

Becca’s wants answers that Rachel refuses to give her, but first the two must work together to save a group of teens being targeted by the same deities Rachel's hiding from. Further complicating their unruly union, a misplaced soul leaves them attracted to two different guys.

And last the lead in. (Never give them ending away, but suggest something to com.)

Matters of the heart may be something they could work out, but the secret Rachel’s hiding could destroy them all.

Word total: 112 (Okay, so I went over a little bit, but I’ve included all the points I needed to make for query. It’s far from being agent ready, but it’s a foundation to build and reshape and the best part is it wasn’t painful.)

Whether it’s enticing or has enough of a hook is for a reader to decide, my only goal is to answer the question: What’s my story about?

Synopsis: (Caveat: I am not as experienced with synopsis. I am working on my first at the moment.) Chuck Sambuchino had a great article on the essential parts of a synopsis that I found to be helpful and I’ve included links to a few others:

What I know of Synopses for sure, is that it’s a summary of the events in your novel, boiling it down to a cliff notes version that still has to be as entertaining as the novel itself.

The point of it all is for editors/publishers to know that your story contains a plot, sub-plots, conflict, and resolution. It's another stress inducing part of writing, but a necessary one.

My plan for my synopsis is to write a sentence for each chapter and combine them all to create a summary and from there I’ll have a foundation to mold into a synopsis. I’ll let you know how that works out.

Novels: Without it, none of the preceding matters. So how do you get from the opening hook to the end?

By keeping it simple, by knowing that the rough draft is supposed to be crap, and by just getting the chronological events and dialogue out of your head and onto the page before your head explodes. By all means misspell, forget periods, use whatever font looks pretty to you. Why? because it’s your draft and your only goal is to get to the finish line. I work on my novels one chapter at a time. Focusing only on what I can do today. If you keep your head down and your hands on the keys, eventually you’ll reach the end and what a great day that will be. Crap and all, a finished novel is something to truly celebrate.

My last point is about Time. I’m guilty of setting unrealistic expectations for my writing. Every novel won’t be finished in three months. In fact, Donald Maass says a breakout novel can take years. How many sequels have we read to great novels that felt rushed and under developed? Don’t do this to your story for the sake of time. Write as often as you can, but also let your imagination unfold those unforgettable moments that are worth the time they take come to you.

Writing takes time, dedication, and a great deal of creativity. You’re going to get stressed, discouraged, and depressed, but try to remember to K.I.S.S.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Live Chat Topic: Who are you writing for? The New 12-18


The genre of Young Adult is meant for the reader’s ages of 12-18, and I always find it so interesting that most of the YA out today appeal to reader’s well past their 60's. I'm a self proclaimed YA addict and not just because it's the genre I write. There is something about YA, maybe it is the fact that I'm one of those eternal kids, who still watches cartoons and a good stroll down the toy aisle, but I don't think that’s all there is to the draw YA has for so many adults. You can't deny that today's YA isn't the same as 10 years ago (The Baby Sitters Club).

Why is that?

My theory is that YA is more mature and complex, because it’s reflected in today's teens. So who is the new 12-18 year olds and what are they like? I think knowing the answer to this could help any YA author write stories that not only appeal to, but depict real teens and their journey into adulthood.

Teens, in general, lead double lives.

There’s the depiction of innocence they play for their parents. You know the nice respectable kid doing homework at the kitchen table, but how many of us were that angelic behind closed doors or outside the house?

I cannot speak for everyone, but my own grade school experience was far from Disney. School, outside the classroom was its own society, maybe not as popular crowds and school bullies as television depicts, but there was a social order, and the worst part, social suicide. There were the have’s, the have not’s, hook ups, break ups, rumors, jealousy, and envy. This was before YouTube, cyber bullying, and sexts.

So what must today’s teens face in a 24 hour connected society, where your worst moments can be shared with the entire student population with a click of a button and live in cyberspace long after you’re gone? Pretty much the same thing, only in a more public arena. As they say there are no new stories, well there are no new dramas, just different ways of spinning it. What it does lend to YA today is higher stakes. It’s no longer melodramatic to feel like your life is over from one mistake at a party or note that fell into the wrong hands.

I think the most important thing to remember when tackling any subject is how you a ‘behind closed doors teen’ would react, rather than the one sitting in your classroom or at your kitchen table. One thing for sure, it makes for a hell of a drama.

I just love Pretty Little Liars!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

LIVE CHAT This Thursday 10/7/10 @ 9pm

As promised I'm keeping the live chats coming.

Please join in this coming week for a discussion exploring who it is that we're writing for.

Young Adults 12-18.

And how we can use our own pasts to write for today's teens.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

LIVE CHAT Tonight @ 9pm est.

How awesome is it to connect with others with similar aspirations. I don't know about you all, but I could talk YA novels and writing any day and time. Which is why I will be hosting weekly Live Chats going forward.

Tonight's topic: First Chapters & Strong Beginnings.
(We didn't get to it last time, because we were having such a blast.)

Space is still limited to 10 participants (Until I have a reason to expand.) So spots are first come, first served.

So here's the skinny, since last time I neglected to mention.

Logging on to Live Chat: Feel free to log on as guest. You can type over the assigned name with your own.

Should we exceed the chatting limit, you can still participate via twitter using the hashtag #livechat1 (And if you don't know what a hashtag is, because i totally didn't a month ago, you add #livechat1 after your tweet and it's sort of like a filter you can click on after you tweet and follow all the messages.)

Hopefully this is all the house keeping needed. I look forward to chatting with you all.

Oh, and if anyone has live chat topic suggestions or would like to host on of these sessions please leave a comment or shoot me an email.

Chat you later :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New Posts Coming Soon

New and Amazing posts coming soon. Working to get the rough draft of UNDISTURBED done in the next two weeks is very time consuming.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

LIVE CHAT: Tonight's Topic: The First Chapter (Hook um early and end on a cliff)

As a pre-published writer, I spend hours reading blogs, online articles, and books about how to write a novel, and I've decided to share some of what I've learned so far. With any evolving craft, like writing, the pursuit of mastering it never really ends, but here are a few things.

1. It all starts with a hook

Your opening sentence sets the tone of your entire novel. Here are some popular opening sentences, all from debut authors, because let’s face it we want to like them:

(D)Twilight: My mother drove me to the airport with the windows rolled down.

(D)Wake: Janie Hannagan’s math book slips from her fingers.

(D)City of Bones: “You’ve got to be kidding me,” the bouncer said, folding his arms across his chest.

(D) Wicked Lovely: “Four-ball, side pocket.” Aislinn pushed the cue forward with a short, quick thrust; the ball dropped into the pocket with a satisfying clank.

(D)Wings: Laurel’s shoe flipped a cheerful rhythm that defied her dark mood.

(D) Fallen: Luce barged into the fluorescent-lit lobby of Sword & Cross School ten minutes later than she should have.

(D) Hush Hush: I walked into biology and my jaw fell open.

(D) Beautiful Creatures: Falling. I was free falling, tumbling through the air.

(D)The Body Finder: The sound of the alarm was an irritating intrusion into the comfortable haze of sleep that wrapped its arms around Violet.

(D) Graceling: In these dungeons the darkness was complete, but Katsa had a map in her mind.

2. Get to the point

Though most online research can be contradicting I’ve found that most agree on this one point YOU HAVE TO HOOK YOUR READERS IN THE FIRST TWO PARAGRAPHS. I know it’s a lot of pressure, but think about it this way: when you’re flipping through the television for something to watch, how long do you actually give a show to spark your interest? Say option one is two people are sitting silent at a dinner table (tension maybe, but is it enough) Option two has a man running from a burning cars, who turns back when he notices there’s a toddler still strapped in the back seat of one of them.

This is where film and television can be the most inspiring. In college it was drilled into my subconscious to start on action. In the script I’ve just finished, page one includes a chase, rape, and murder.

It’s cliché to say start with a bang, but that’s exactly what you have to do to. Of my ten example novels here’s what the first paragraphs included:

9 of 10 Started on action

1 of 10 started after the action had occurred

10 of 10 included the characters name

1 of 10 included a physical description of the character

1 of 10 described the weather

3 of 10 included so sort of back story

9 of 10 Included supportive characters

1 of 10 mentioned the characters age

8 of 10 gave a glimpse to the characters personality

9 of 10 included the location


6 of 10 had prologues or prefaces

For more information on prologues and when to use them check out this helpful article:

3. What’s the problem?

According the Les Edgerton, author of Finding Your Voice and my current read Hooked, there should be multiple problems presented to your MC

The inciting incident: The event that kicks your story off.

The Surface Problem: This is the problem presented in chapter one. It’s dramatic enough to pull us in, but will lead to others and possibly be resolved before the novel’s end.

The story worthy problem: This is the big on that takes the whole novel to solve.

For your chapter one your focus is the first surface problem. Which is your characters reaction to the inciting incident? Something’s just happened that has rocked this characters world and now they have to deal with it. Also an interesting point I just read is that neither the reader nor character are aware of the story worthy problem in the first chapter, something to keep in mind.

4. Who’s your story about?

Stupid question right? Nope. When we’re viewing a story through a characters eyes, often times it’s the way we write it. We’ll spend page and pages describing and setting up the characters world and relationships. We’ll know what designer jeans their wearing, what kind of car they’re driving, what they physically look like, but we leave out the filling. Who is this character? We don’t like to judged on superficial things like the color of our hair or the clothes we wear, so don’t subject your character to it. You can do this by panning your vision out a bit.

Ask yourself “What do people see when they look at your character?” If it’s spot on to their personality, that would be a little too neat for drama. Donald Maass, author of The Breakout Novel, says ordinary people are boring. Try building contradictions, both physical and emotional (Warning: Things like sadistic nice guy might not ring true, but a shy loner with a death wish managed to capture all of our hearts)

5. Choose your words wisely

Cliché’s, words ending in LY or ING, adjectives, repeated words too closely together, character names being over used, dialogue descriptions other than says or said, run on sentences, italics, excessive exclamation points, ellipses, semi colons, or dashes, and improper use of comma’s or numbers are all examples of red flags that will send you to the slush pile. (I know what you’re thinking “What’s left?”)

Think of it this way if you can pull off a first chapter that doesn’t set off any alarms, you’ve got talent. This is a skill that I’m still learning, but here’s what I’ve gathered. (And yes I used cliché’s, take that red flaggers. Lol)

Trust your words: Say what you mean and don’t feel the need to repeat or overly describe.

Less is more: If it’s not important to the story, cut it (how fast a character walks or the contents of their purse means nothing unless there’s a bomb in there and their rushing to save a class of kindergartners.) BTW, SO SORRY IF ALL MY EXAMPLES HAVE BOMBS AND KIDS, I’M AN ACTION JUNKY WITH A BIOLOGICAL CLOCK. LOL

Keep it moving: Don’t feel the need to describe every action. Let the story and conversations flow. Stopping in the middle of a conversation to tell us the character turns the door knob isn’t important. Also “I was just about to…” or “I began…” or “I was reaching for…” does nothing but bloat your word count. Again think film or television; when characters are walking from one set to the next do you notice the paint on the walls, or how their hair is blowing? What’s important is where they’re going and why, who they’re talking to and their emotional state.

6. End on a cliff

If your chapter one ends with your character smiling (REWRITE!) There are no smiles in fiction. There are no happy endings in chapters, except for maybe the last chapter. This I learned the hardest way, by writing a novel and having and editor tell me to start over. It was hard to take at the time, but probably the best advice anyone ever gave me. Donald Maass says when the character gets what they want the story stops. Why keep reading after that point?

Sure there are little victories along the way. Who can forget when your MC finally gets that first kiss, when the tutoring session results in an A+, or the team wins the finals? But haven’t you noticed that the good times never last in novels when one problem is solved another, often more severe, takes its place. So keep the dramas coming.

Here’s an example:

You roll out of bed and realize the alarm didn’t go off, your husband’s used the last of toothpaste, the coffee machine’s broke, you burn your favorite skirt with the iron, trip over a toy car heading out the front door, get stuck in traffic, miss your exit, get to work late, can’t remember your log on, and you forgot your glasses on the nightstand. (I know WTF!) This is what your character should be saying.

Your readers will be glued to your pages wanting to find out how the rest of this horrible day turns out, because with a start like this there’s bound to be some drama. Maybe you snap at lunch and have a total mental break and wind up taking a sabbatical to get yourself together, maybe you grin and bear it and get road rage on a freeway and cause a five car pileup. Or maybe you grab a few beers and hit the emergency shoot on the plane and go for a slide. Lol (I couldn’t help it.)

All and all the little problems have to keep building and can’t be resolved by the end of the chapter you need something to lead into the next chapter. Cliffhangers are most common.

I hope these tips were worthy of the gigantic post. If there's anything you'd like to add feel free to leave a comment.