Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Guest Post: This World Bites Blog Tour

I am beyond excited to turn my blog over to Loni Townsend today, as part of her This World Bites blog tour! Why am I so excited? I'm delighted you asked. First, Loni is a talented blogger and writer who always makes me laugh, and beyond that, she's a great and supportive friend. Second, I got to read This World Bites when it was still in its beta stage, and I loved it. Like flat out totally loved it. It's quirky and funny and engaging, much like its heroine, Cera, and full of hints and flavors of Loni's epic novel, Thanmir War. I highly recommend it. 

And now, over to Loni!

Keeping it Short

by Loni Townsend

I'd like to give a huge shout out to Liz for allowing me on her blog. One of the things that makes me chuckle about her is her expressed inability to write a short post.

I too enjoy writing long, sprawling threads of text. My novel, Thanmir War, was 200K in its first draft, shortened down to 170K before release. I wrote another story--intending it to be a piece of flash fiction--and it turned into a 16K novella.

Writing something short didn't seem possible for me.

Word count terrifies me, because I know some people judge a story's quality based on word count alone. Oh, it's 170K? The story is probably poorly written, because the upper limit for that genre is 120K.

I read books that are well over 200K, but I know some people can't handle that length. Since I didn't want to exclude those people, I made it my goal to deliver something that was a mere bite in comparison.

I gave myself a word limit. I wanted to see if I could actually do it. This World Bites rolls in at 25K, right at that upper limit I gave myself. I intend that to be the length of all the Cera Chronicles. My husband says I could double the length and still be in the safe zone. I told him that wasn't the point.

Do you judge a story by word count? Do you like longer or shorter stories? Is 25K too short?

This World Bites

It’s her first day on a new world and Cera's already found trouble. Michael, her guardian, has been bitten by a zombie and will soon join the undead ranks.

Everyone tells her there's no cure, but Cera isn't one to be deterred. She’s willing to face off with zombie hordes, demon slavers, and black market informants if it means she’ll find a cure for Michael.

But she’s not the only one hunting for something.

Something is hunting her.

Buy it now:

Barnes & Noble

By day, she writes code. By predawn darkness, she writes fantasies. All other times, she writes in her head.

People call her peculiar with a twisted sense of fashion, but don't let those understatements fool you. Her behavior is perfectly normal for a squirrel disguised as a human. That's part of being a ninja—blending in.

She makes her home in Idaho with her sadistically clever—yet often thwarted—husband, two frighteningly brilliant children, and three sneaky little shibas.

Find her on her blog or social media.

Contact info:
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Goodreads

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

5 MUSTS For Successful Writers

Please excuse our small departure from the normal content of this blog. We will resume our regularly scheduled programming next week. What can I say? When satire strikes, you must obey. 

You've got a really awesome idea for a book. You know your screenplay is a billion dollar hit. Maybe you just like words. Whatever the reason, as my friend Anna would say, you wish to be a writer. The only problem is, you're not sure how to do it. Don't worry! I've got 5 MUST-DO tips for you that will turn you into a huge success:

1. Start Fast and Give Up Faster

Everyone knows that if you're going to be successful in publishing, it'll happen overnight. This industry moves fast, so you have to move faster. Got a rough draft done? Good enough!! Slap together a query letter and send that puppy out. No one expects you do have a polished piece; there'll be plenty of time for that once somebody writes you a big check.

If you've sent one query, though, and it got rejected, best to give up right away. One rejection is enough: as everyone knows, all agents and publishers like the exact same thing, so if one said no, they'll all say no. No big deal, though, since you can write another one in the next couple of hours!

2. Write Only What You Know

You know the old writing adage, write what you know? Well, it doesn't go far enough! Write only what you yourself have seen, felt, touched, or experienced. Driven a Ford but not a Toyota? Then your characters should only drive Fords. You can never imagine anything else to any degree of accuracy. This means that your stories will be populated by you, yourself, and you, but that's totally OK: who doesn't love a navel-gazer?

3. Put Everyone You Know In Your Work

The best way to make sure everyone you know buys your work is to put them in it. Don't disguise - how else will they know it's them? Don't tell them ahead of time, either, because that'll spoil the fun. Make sure you bring out their worst qualities and share their deepest secrets, because drama sells.

Also, who is your main character going to talk to if you don't put in your family and friends? See #2 above.

4. Never Read

Ever! It'll waste precious time you need in this speedy, ever-changing field. You read in school, right? That's enough. You can figure out what sells and what's good by looking at covers and thinking about it.

5. Get Sensitive

Feedback works best when you're too defensive to hear it, so make sure you can't stand to hear a word against what you've created.

And besides, everyone - and I do mean everyone! - is going to LOVE you and your work! Writers are great at pleasing everyone. What better way to enjoy it than to soak it all up? So shed those protective layers and make sure your skin is good and thin; that way all of the universal adoration will sink right in.

That's it! That's all you need to know. If you follow these, I fear for you know you'll be a HUGE success!

Got any more great tips for becoming a successful writer? Share them in the comments!

Disclaimer: no writers were hurt in the making of this post, but then. no writers were made in the making of this post, either. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Re-Entry Problems, and A Cloudland Excerpt

I'm having one of those days.

You know the ones. You have a vacation, you tear yourself away from writing and blogging and work and chores and everything screaming for your attention - not without some effort, mind you - you immerse yourself in the joy of doing nothing, and then, eventually, you have to come back to the real world. But in the process of coming back you find you're moving about 3 gears slower than usual, and you're not really getting all that much done...

...and this is where I am. I'm fully back in the real world by now, but last week was one of those slooooow re-entry weeks. Meaning I have nothing new to report in the world of writing. Except re-entry. Which is boring.

SO, I will report OLD things instead. Those of you who've been following along since the A-Z Challenge know I have a novel-in-progress that's now on hold, but I also have a finished novel that's on hold from querying. It's called Cloudland, And Other Stories, and it's about a little boy named Jake who loses his mother; the social worker assigned to his case, who recently lost her father; and the strange, wild journey they end up on together as they try to find their parents.

I blogged about it quite a bit when I first started posting, but it's been a very long time since then, so I thought I would post an excerpt from it. This bit is the beginning of the book. I hope you enjoy it:

Jake settled himself deeper into the cloud-nest of his bed, top-bunk, high and lofted, closer to the sky and the Stories. When mom came in, she would have to climb up the ladder to reach him, and he would have time to watch the darkness under her eyes crinkle up and break apart, and there would be humor and soft pillows to lean on instead of the edged cliffs her face had earthquaked into, ever since she started school. School and work and him and dad and church and still somehow the quiet spaces she needed to fit herself into, he knew, were too many things pushing together. It was like the tech tonal plate things under the ground they’d talked about once in school, that made big earthquakes where houses scrunched up like people who are too cold, and roads flew up in the air, to the sky, to nowhere, toward the Stories. He didn't like either kind of earthquake; he liked the windy open sky, the soft pillowed clouds, both here on the earth, and in the smooth light brown of her face. That’s where the Stories were.
How's your re-entry going? Better than mine, I hope? What are you working on?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Insecure Writers: The Year Of Big Good Things

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time for The Insecure Writers! The IWSG is an online group created by Alex J. Cavanaugh for writers. You, too, can join us anytime!

Happy New Year, everyone!! I hope you all had joyful, festive, delicious, cozy, and bountiful holidays.

I thoroughly enjoyed my two-week (sort of) media vacation, which was coupled with a one-week staycation from my day job as well. It was my first ever staycation, believe it or not, and it was wonderful. I was worried about it, because I kept expecting to feel obligated to do useful things around the house, and to bang out lots of chores and other onerous duties, but I can happily say that the week ended without my having done one. Damn. Thing. At least, not one useful thing. I read a ton of books, cooked and ate too much food, drank a little too much, spent time with friends, and vegged out. And that was it. It was glorious, and exactly what I needed.

Oh, wait...excuse me...I seem to have veered away from this week's topic, and gotten carried away with reminiscing. Ahem. It's IWSG, isn't it??

Ok, then: Happy IWSG!!! I'm not going to focus on insecurity today; instead, I want to talk about NOT being insecure. How about that? It's like I'm a whole new person. New Year, New Me.

I've mentioned before that I am not a fan of New Year's Resolutions, and someday I might bore you all to tears and expound on that (but not today; don't worry.) So instead of making a resolution, I decide things. See the GIANT difference??? Deciding is so much more, well, decisive that resolving. This year, I decided, is going to be the year of Big Good Things Coming to Fruition. This got started a little early when I got the world's best Christmas present, and it's going to continue all the way through 2015, because I say so.

All kidding aside for a moment, I am a big believer in the power of intention (no, I haven't read the book, but I do like the title.) I do believe - and trust, and feel - that the energy we put into the world is what comes back to us; like attracting like. So when I say that 2015 is the year of Big Good Things Coming to Fruition, I am (with a small bit of silliness, because it's me) setting the intention for all of those wonderful, powerful things to happen, and opening myself up to receiving them.

We all have different Big Good Things that we want. Mine are familial, as well as career-driven. One is to start making money from my writing. I believe I'll be able to make it happen this year. What about you? What's one of your Big Good Things?

Happy New Year!