Monday, April 29, 2013

Is the Blogging World Going Downhill?

Blogging is hard. I've always known that. You have to really love it in order to keep up with it. I've loved using my blog to discuss reading and writing in depth, but now I'm noticing a new trend. The blogging world is quickly becoming less active. Blogs are becoming inactive, readers aren't pouring over sites like they used to, and it seems like gaining followers is harder than ever.

I follow a lot of different blogs. Some are by well-known authors who have thousands of followers. Even last year it seemed like with every post they would get fifty comments. Now they're lucky if they get fifteen. It's not that their posts aren't as high quality or that their blogs have changed, they just aren't being read anymore.

So where is everyone? Are there just too many blogs right now? I feel like I get a lot more interaction from readers and writers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. What do you think? Is the blogging world going downhill?


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Siren's Secret Blog Tour


Hey everyone, 
my blog tour for The Siren's Secret is coming up! It will kick off on May 1st and lead into a whole month filled with fun giveaways, interviews, and plenty of sirens. Make sure and check back here to stay updated on the tour details!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Lair Of The Serpent by T. Lynn Adams

Recently I was lucky enough to review T. Lynn Adams' newest book, Lair Of The Serpent. This action packed novel is fantastic, and I was happy to endorse it. If you look on the back cover you can see my quote about the novel, and on the front you'll see an endorsement from the Associate Producer of Life of Pi, Kevin Buxbaum. He's also worked on Moulin Rouge, and Avatar (That's pretty awesome). Here's what he said about Lair Of The Serpent: "A young adult series destined to become Hollywood's next major motion picture trilogy. A must read."
 I just wanted to share the happy news with you, and I hope you check out Lair Of The Serpent coming out this summer!



There will be human sacrifice but whose life is on the line?

Follow Jonathon and Severino to Cambodia, where they fight to reclaim Severino's sister before she is lost forever to the maze of human trafficking. There, in the thick jungles of western Cambodia, they discover that only the theft of a powerful ancient jewel will free her. Now the pair must enter the world of international artifact theft to save Deliah's life.

T. Lynn Adam's site: www.tlynnadams.com

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Werecats and Sirens


I love writing about werecats and sirens. One of my readers named Anastasia sent me this picture she drew of a siren meeting Julia in werecat form. I have the coolest readers ever! Thank you for sending this Anastasia, you are so talented!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Win a copy of PWNED

My friend Shannen Camp is having a giveaway for her new novel Pwned. You can enter to win a signed copy below! 


Reagan West has a perfect life. She’s at the top of the high school food chain as co-captain of the cheerleading squad and she’s best friends with the most evil girl in Albany, Tawny Perez, which means she’s never on the receiving end of her wrath. The only trouble in Reagan’s perfect life comes from the constant threat of her dirty little secret leaking to her fellow classmates and casting her into a lifetime of ridicule. 

Reagan West is a closet gamer and hates her role as the evil cheerleader.

But, as any well versed teenager knows, it’s better to suppress your own nerdy tendencies than to submit to a lifetime of being shoved into lockers and so, Reagan bravely soldiers through life as a reluctant bully… until a boy from her guild moves to her school and becomes Tawny’s next target. The newcomer threatens to reveal Reagan’s nerdy little secret and force her to come to terms with who she truly is. Now Reagan has to decide if she’s going to defend her fellow geeks, or if she’ll continue to be a total troll.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 12, 2013

Interview for Amuse Me Write Now

Hey everyone, 

I was interviewed by Valerie Dircks for her blog: Amuse Me Write Now. We talked about reading, writing, and some family pranks ;) 


Here's a little preview of the interview: 


Valerie: Who are some of your favorite authors/what kind of books do you like to read?

Heather: I love fantasy with all my heart, but I’m also a sucker for happy, lighthearted middle grade novels. Some of my favorites include Ella Enchanted, Harry Potter, The Series of Unfortunate Events, and anything from C.S. Lewis.


Valerie: Most of the blurbs about you talk about you having a “rambunctiously entertaining family.” Can you expound upon this for us? Tell us about them. Come on we want some stories.

Heather: Haha. I have a lot of siblings, and sometimes we weren't very well behaved  We would play pranks all the time. One time we threw a life-size doll off the side of our house and yelled to my aunt that a child had jumped off the roof. She didn't think it was very funny…

Many times we dressed up like cowboys or superheroes and would go to stores trying to stay in character, but would burst out laughing anyway.

One time we put a mannequin head on the front of our car where the old hood ornament used to be. The mannequin’s head was creepy with huge eyes. We would drive really slowly behind people in parking lots. When they finally turned around, there would be a creepy mannequin head right behind them!


You can read the rest of the interview at valeriedircks.blogspot.com


Monday, April 8, 2013

Guest Post by Kami McArthur

Hey everyone, today I am featuring a guest post by the amazing Kami McArthur. Kami is a very talented writer, and I'm so lucky to be friends with her. Here she gives great advice on how to stand out from the slush pile. To connect with Kami you can visit her Facebook and Twitter. 


 How to Stand Out from the Slush Pile 
By Kami McArthur

I’ve had the opportunity to navigate the slush piles of a couple of writing contests, so today, I’d like to offer some advice on how to get your story out of one. For these contests, I read the first 1-3 pages of a submission, and then decided whether to reject it, or hold onto it for further evaluation. This is a list I made after I navigated my first slush pile.

Your story’s starting:

1. Make sure you follow the proper manuscript formatting. For the contest I'm working on, a template of the proper format was available for download. Nonetheless, the majority of submissions don't follow it. Some people don't indent paragraphs, don't even have paragraphs, or use weird fonts etc. Don't add pictures to your manuscript—keep it simple and professional. Save and send it in the proper electronic format, which for us was a pdf or word document.
For this contest, if the story wasn’t formatted correctly, it was immediately rejected.
2. I have 1-3 pages to judge whether or not your story makes it out of the slush pile. Make sure by the end of the second page (preferably on the first page) I know who your character is, what the setting is, and that I have read some conflict. Otherwise, it’s rejected..
Setting in particular seems to get left out. I’ve read scenes where the setting is never even hinted at—I don’t know if the characters are in a hospital, a bar, or a circus.
3. Use character names. Too many new authors “hide” their characters’ names. A bunch of vague pronouns doesn’t help me figure out who is doing what. Ex: "He (who?) held his hand over his (his own mouth or someone else’s?) mouth. The chief (is this “he” or a different person?) couldn't believe this was happening. He (the chief?) struggled. Then the man (the “he,” “chief,” or someone else?) forced the hand away from his (whose mouth?) mouth.”—who is doing what? How many people are there?
4. Don't open your story with a dream. It's such a letdown. One submission I read was really good, and I was going to let it advance, and I got to the end of the second page and the first two pages were a dream! Don't even open your story with a short dream. It's too cliché in the slush pile. If you NEED a dream in it, don't do it in the first two pages.
5. Make sure your character is actually doing something on the first page. Make sure there is action, movement, and better yet, make sure there is conflict. Too many submissions start with a character just sitting and thinking about something, usually something that happened in the past.
If possible, have at least two characters interacting in the first scene. It's way more interesting than the 50 other stories that start with one character thinking.
6. Avoid flashbacks. Number 5 is usually paired with something like this: "It all started a month ago," or "Maybe I should start at the beginning," or "This all started last week." –and then the story goes back to the real “starting” or some sort of flashback. If that is where the story started, start there, and then you won't have to tell me “how it started.” I'll see it.
7. Don't start with a character running away from something really vague. There are way too many stories that start this way. It might sound like a cool opening, but after you’ve read 12 of them, you realize it’s not as cool as you first thought.
8. Don't start with a long “telling” explanation of something, like "The city was surrounded by mountains, and we were told to never leave the city. The mountains have been around since the beginning of time when the gods got angry and decided to keep us locked up in one place. Back when my grandmother was alive, she used to tell me stories about people who left the city and never returned...(on for 1 1/2 pages)" While this info might be interesting, I don't have a clue where the protagonist is, or what he or she is doing. There's no immediacy. I'm just being told information. The slush pile is loaded with this opening. At least give me like a page of something concrete and immediate before “explaining,” or “telling” me something.
9. Don't start a story with your character waking up on an ordinary day doing ordinary stuff. Again, that's not really where the story starts. But too many stories start there.
10. Avoid purple prose. First off, if you can write detail that appeals to the senses, do it, because too many submissions are missing strong imagery in the opening. If you can write striking metaphors or similes, put one in the opening also. But don’t go overboard. I read one submission that took a paragraph to describe one action about ten different ways. Only about two things actually happened on the first page.
11. Don't submit your writing exercises as a story. I've seen a few submissions that I think were supposed to be practice exercises--like that exercise in creative writing classes where you have to try to describe something without saying what it is, or where you use only dialogue to tell a story. Those are great exercises, but (in most cases) they shouldn't be sent in as professional pieces.
12. Don't include a bunch of pointless info about your character. Reading two paragraphs about how your character's choice of music is different than his mom's isn't going to help me get to know your character, and it's not important unless your story involves music (in the case of this submission, it didn’t).
Some people try to “find” their character by giving them too many quirks and random details etc. But those are only the surface of the character—instead try to focus on how your character changes in your story, and what you need to establish first to show that change.
13. Follow the submission guidelines. In our case, they state that the story should be appropriate for a general audience. That means that the story that starts with people having an affair and uses the f-word about 12 times in the first page is probably out.
14. Use correct English and spelling. Watch for anything that sounds awkward.
15. Unless otherwise stated or inappropriate, do state your writing credentials somewhere—a cover letter, query letter, or just the body of an email. Even minor writing credentials put a better flavor in the editor's mouth because they imply you have some idea of what you are doing.
Above all, use correct formatting, start with immediacy (not explanation), and have the setting, character, and conflict established in the first 1-2 pages. That will put in you in the top 10-20% of the submissions I’ve been going through!
Also, keep in mind that great writers have broken a lot of these rules, but unless you are a prodigy or a well-established writer, avoid breaking the rules I’ve listed.
Good luck! And if you would like more information on how to write the starting of your story so that it gets out of the slush pile, you can check out the book Hooked  by Les Edgerton.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Romance Podcast with Authors' Think Tank

Author's Think Tank

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Hey everyone! Sorry I've disappeared from the blogging world. This week I'm doing my FINAL edit for my sequel before it goes to press, so I've been dedicating my time to that. However, I did want to pop in and post the link to my podcast with Authors' Think Tank. In this episode we talk about romance and author Shirly Bahlman has some great things to say. We also touch briefly on the subject of sparkly shapeshifters ;)

Here's the link:
www.foreverwriters.com

Enjoy! And now I have to get back to editing...