Thursday, March 27, 2014


I had a really fun thing happen this last week. I got a dog! Well, sort of. I got a dog for three days. Friends of ours wanted to go out on vacation but couldn’t take their puppy with them. Miss Liberty is a nine month old daschound/beagle cross. Having her around was an absolute blast.

I loved having her. Staying at home all day can get pretty boring, and the more Jonathon works the less I see other people. Having a puppy who regularly needed attention gave me a boost. This is the first time I had a little dog around that I actually liked. I’ve mostly been around Shih-Tzu’s and I just could not appreciate them. Too much hair, not enough brains. But Libby was actually pretty smart and very sweet. I didn’t appreciate the beagle baying habit, but aside from that she was great. I wasn’t the only one who thought she was adorable. When I would take her for walks little kids went gaga over her! Growing up we only had big dogs and most other kids were afraid of them. Having a little girl press her face up to the glass and wave at the puppy was a totally new experience.

We’ve been debating whether or not to get a pet for years so we figured this was a trial run. Before having her there was a huge part of me that was unsure. I’m pet obsessed and I always have been, but it’s a lot of money to keep a pet in an apartment. Between a pet security deposit and an additional fee to my monthly rent I wondered why I should bother. The emotional benefits of having someone needing my affection and attention were undeniable. No, I’m not running immediately to my local shelter! But now I can see that the sacrifice that I will have to make to have a pet will probably be worth it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Why I'm Not Doing Business in Writerland

You can’t throw an internet rock without coming across a someone talking about the business aspect of writing. While it’s awesome that so many people are willing to share information this was a big pitfall for me. Back in the day I was all in to the advice side of puplishinglandia. I read every blog and tried to take it all to heart. Then I realized that I was so stressed by my non-existent platform that I wasn’t writing.

Somewhere along the way I realized that I just wasn’t ready. I spent months querying my first novel, Products of Power, to no avail. Reason being that I think it’s possible that I was sending out the worst serious query of all time. Once you sift out the autobiographies of penises and the people getting direct requests from God, I was at the bottom of the pile. I didn’t see at the time. I just wasted a ton of money in postage sending hardcopy query’s to everyone who didn’t really want them. My work wasn’t to the caliber that it needed to be to sell, and that was showing in my wooden queries. I was worried about the marketing, platform building, audience seeking side without having the writing skill to craft an interesting novel.

Obviously I’m not strictly holding to the no business aspect. I did finally start a blog (after two years of dithering about it). I’m still steering away from the final aspect. That means not only querying and marketing but also things like self publishing vs traditional publishing and other difficult questions. Some amazing people can multi task like that. I need to take this time to focus on being the best writer I can be.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Jennavier Recommends the Shade Trilogy by Jerri Smith-Ready
I read a lot of books and they mostly blur together. When I find a new-to-me author that I’m dying over I can’t wait to share. One of my favorite YA trilogies of the past year is the Shade series by Jerri Smith-Ready. That includes Shade, Shift, and Shine. Yes, the titles are very matchy-matchy. At least they’re not hard to remember! I loved it both as a reader and as a writer trying to pick up new tricks.

First off the characters really make this series amazing. I loved them all. Aura’s voice is so genuine that she felt almost real to me. Her trials and troubles were both authentic to a teenage girl while still being interesting to the adult part of my brain. The supporting cast each had their own unique voice and personalities. I don’t think there was a single character that felt like a set-dressing until the third book.

This series has the worst luck in covers. They look 80’s bondage porn. I guess it means that everyone who is willing to read them goes in with an open mind, but if I were in the art department I would be a little concerned. For all that the covers in no way portray the actual story there are some elements that I would be wary of. This series has some PG-13 stuff that might make you uncomfortable. I felt like it was handled mostly well but book three almost steamed me out of the experience. So read at your own risk! concept that the world is based on is just fun. Picture this. Every baby born after the Shift seventeen years ago can see ghosts. And more people are becoming ghosts than ever. After refusing to believe the ‘shifters’, or kids born post Shift, for years adults are now dependent on teens to tell them about a world they can’t see. This is used in all sorts of interesting ways like lawsuits of the dead against the living with teen interpreters, ‘blackboxes’ and other technology made to repel ghosts, and a past that is never really left behind.

Aura deals with all that and more as she navigates the story. It has two major elements. The first is Aura’s confusing past and the possibility of her being the First, or the first baby born after the shift. The second is the event that kicks off the book. Her pretty serious boyfriend dies of an overdose and is now a ghost. Both are compelling and well handled. As the series progresses the different plot threads become more and less important. Luckily none are completely forgotten and all are resolved satisfactorily. To my relief Smith-Ready has a fascinating take on the good ol’ love triangle. Aura is still hung up on her dead ex-boyfriend who is now a ghost at the same time as wanting to move on with a living guy. Instead of feeling forced or contrived it was a natural extension of the world where ghosts are real. series avoids letdowns in new instalments by having each book have a story line in and of itself. That keeps the series fresh while also making me enjoy each book on it’s own terms. It’s not often that a YA debut series is handled so well. Serious kudos go to Smith-Ready.

Lastly I have huge respect for how Smith-Ready handles some pretty traumatic incidents. She doesn’t use these horrific experiences as shock value for readers. Instead she takes the characters seriously, giving them chances to grow even as they struggle. Her commitment to that led to a free novella that I haven’t gotten the chance to read. It’s from the perspective of a secondary character that has a tragic experience off screen. Instead of pretending that it’s all happily ever after Smith-Ready is showing the work that this character puts into finding a new equilibrium.

Well, that’s all folks. If this sounds like a good series for you I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Writing Groove

As I told you a little while ago I was on a writing hiatus. Taking that time to deal with “real life” had unexpected dividends. Coming back to writing was something I dreaded, since even little breaks kill my momentum. Turns out that this craft can still surprise me. Since I’ve come back I’ve written more, and of a better quality, then I have in years. The last time I had this kind of output was when I dedicated myself to writing completely. In many ways I’ve been doing that now, although not to the same extent. Like, I still talk to people. And exercise.

So I’m suddenly in the best place I’ve been in years, and it scares the crap out of me. Starting for the day isn’t hard. Once I get going I pound out thousands of words. When editing I get the feel of the scene and what it’s missing faster. At this rate I can actually see myself being able to keep up with output needed of a professional writer.

So why now? My personal theory is that it probably has something to do with being mentally and emotionally healthy and taking care of myself. For the first time in a really long time I’ve actually been making myself stop when I’m overwhelmed. Not letting my fears get the better of me but not ignoring them either. Dealing with problems instead running away from them. Noticing when I get too tired, not putting impossible demands, etc.

I don’t know if this wonderful, amazing ease will last forever. But I really, really hope it does.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Paper Back Swap

A few weeks ago I heard about an awesome way to get books. It’s called Paper Back Swap and I am totally addicted.* Since I feel about books the way that a dragon feels about shiny things this isn’t surprising.

The concept is this. You know how you want to read a book, but you don’t necessarily want to buy it? Well, Paper Back Swap connects you to other people in the US like you. They’ve got millions of members and a copy of just about every book known to man comes through their eventually. You sign up, give away your books, and get an equal number of books in exchange. It’s not a direct exchange- you get credits from swapping a book out that you can redeem by requesting a book from someone else.

Technically of the site is to save you money on books you’ve never read before. While a nice idea, it’s not what I’ve been using it for. I’m a book hoarder. I love books and having them around makes me happy. Some people still carry around that stuffed animal from childhood. I get the same happy happy safe feeling from having books around. What tripped me up is that I also love to loan out/give away the books I love so that other people can appreciate them like I do. Then I can’t get rid of the books people give me in return that I hate. Somewhere along the line I ended up with a lot of books I couldn’t care less about. It was kind of like a dragon stuck with a hoard of tin foil. The site has been allowing me to find homes for books I just don’t love and get the books that I adore. Any bets how long I’ll hold on to them this time?

If there’s a part of you that’s screaming SCAM you are not alone. I was really worried that it was a gimmick when I first came across it. From what I can tell they get their money from having links to Amazon EVERYWHERE. Not ones you’ll accidently hit and spend money. It’s more along the lines that if you ever have a moment of weakness and want a book right now that Amazon button is there for you. Considering I already shop for books on Amazon it’s not a big deal. My other worry was postage, since that seemed a good way to gouge you. The way it works circumvents that problem. Instead of paying to get your book, you pay postage to send a book out that earns you a credit to get a book. In other words, you are never putting your financial information into the site’s system for the basic services**. There were other worries that I had that didn’t pan out but I’m pretty sure you can figure it out on your own.

So that’s it. I love it, if you’re book addicted you just might love it too. Now let’s see if I can’t bankrupt myself mailing all these suckers off.

*Disclaimer: I am in no way being rewarded/renumerated/anything-else-beginning-with-r for this post. In fact, I’m pretty sure the company has little to no idea I exist. So I’m speaking from the power of awesome, not the power of money.

**There are non basic services that you can pay for but there’s no requirement to use them.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Failing My Way Into Editing

So if you’re expecting a really knowledgeable post about how awesome edits are, you’ve got the wrong girl. Up until recently I just couldn’t get a handle on them. Sure, I knew they were important. Everyone talked about them. When I tried to edit my projects they just got worse. For a while I give up, just figuring that I’d get better and better at first drafts and “edits” would just be clean up exercise.

The fact that I’ve only come across one author was says they don’t do major edits made me hesitate. My stories just weren’t good enough to stand on their own. In my heart of hearts I knew they never would be. So I decided to give it one more try. I chose to start with a story that had turned out worse than expected so I didn’t have much to lose.

This time really was different. By trying to perfect my ability to write first drafts I was able to show myself what I couldn’t do. I strived so much to be perfect, to make the exact right choice, but it’s almost impossible. Every manuscript would be printed and stored leaving a very discouraged writer. But on almost every manuscript the things that tripped me up were the same. Watching it happen meant that I could go back later and work on fixing it. Then when I was unable to fix it I could seek to learn that particular skill. I’m on my way to being a mean self-editor J.

So it wasn’t my skills at succeeding that made the difference at editing, it was my skills at failing. In my second draft of Chaos Rules I’m a lot more willing to take chances then I was with my first. Because I’ve seen how much better the second draft is and I have ideas on new things to do with the third. Each pass is building my story up, refining it down so that each scene, each story line, works like a charm. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m excited to edit now.