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Thursday, September 3, 2015

IWSG--Run On Series

How much is too much? Not to bash an author, but I recently found two Robyn Carr series while on vacation in August. About four books into each series, I realized that some of the material and relationships felt forced and found myself reading more to find out about what the original main characters were doing as she'd talk about them from time to time. Some of her series are over 20 books long! If you go back to YA: Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High and back even further to children's like Magic Tree House, they are all "series". However, for some reason I could read more of them than I can of adult series books. I'm still trying to figure out why.

I say this while I am writing and doing almost the same thing as Carr. I have a three book series being published (all the same characters) and the series includes two more after that which the publisher hasn't read yet. Then, I realized a sister in this book has a great story to tell, so I wrote a book about her, then her brother...and it's fun. I love it. But, those may be more for ME than anyone else.

Sometimes I wonder what publishers see in other peoples writing when I can't make it through a book. I see 4 out of 5 stars for some books and I couldn't make it past page 60. It's so interesting to see how writing really is an art and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I'm a bit nervous because when the first of the three books come out, are the readers going to be attached enough to the MC to want to read the second and third?

Do you have a series or an idea for one? How long is too long?

Friday, August 7, 2015

Hide N Seek---IWSG

Hi there! I am a few days late but we went on vacation to the beach and I chose a condo without internet/WIFI, so it was very hard to blog from my phone!

I found a new author (to me): Robyn Carr. There was an amazing used bookstore at the beach and I saw her Thunder Point Series there and bought the first two. Two days later, I went back and bought two more and just ordered the rest via Amazon (there are more than three if you are interested!)

I didn't even notice they were published by Harlequin until the second book. I remember reading a few Harlequin's as a very old teen/early twenty something and all the covers were the same to me back then. At least this series doesn't have the bodice ripping cover or the half naked man on the front, which I appreciate. I'm insecure, I think, when it comes to what people think of me when I'm reading. Are they judging me by the book cover?

I have never read this book. I'm just using it as an example for a bodice ripping cover!

This got me thinking: has there ever been a book you were embarrassed to say or show that you were reading? I remember loaning out the print copy of "Fifty Shades of Grey" that I actually owned (when it first came out) and the friend returned it to me wrapped in a paper bag. For those of you over 30, remember how we used to cover our school books with paper bags?

That's how my friend covered the book. Now, I didn't take "Fifty Shades..." and read it on the beach or in an airport because I was slightly embarrassed. However, I think that may be the ONLY book I made an effort to hide. Have there been any for you?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

IWSG: "And I Would Walk 500 Miles...and I Would Walk 500 More..."

Now that I have that song in your head...

We are moving (driving, not walking) 500 miles back to where we moved from three years ago.

Back to Maryland, where I was born and raised and when I enter The Valley where I grew up, my heart swells and my nerves tingle as my mind and soul realize that THIS is home.

Don't get me wrong; living outside of Boston has been an eye opening experience. Snow. Rabid sports fans. The different kinds of drivers. Amazing summer. Sports fans. And ice cream!

Given that we moved from outside of Washington DC to The Valley when I was five, I never knew of any other place to call home until 2012. Now that we are moving back I realized it helped me in the sense of writing and being able to get my characters into different places and instill some more culture in them. I can talk about Lobster Rolls and know exactly what they are and how they taste. I can comment first hand, or rather my characters can, about the way people vacation and the kinds of sports fans that are here versus the mid-Atlantic. I can say, without a doubt, the number of Lobster places in Maine outnumber the amount of Crab places in Maryland.

So, while we are dumping money into a move back south and going back to the same town we moved from I can say it was a great experience. I don't like change, I don't like doing things I'm not good at and neither do two of my three children. This helped us overcome that weird fear and in turn we met some amazing people and I got more fodder for my writing and characters. I've always felt insecure up in MA, maybe because if you are an outsider people notice. Maybe because we aren't as outdoorsy as 90% of the people I know here. Maybe because our vacation is one week in a different place, not at a house we own or inherited in the mountains or "down The Cape."

I can't wait to get back to where I belong but I know this experience helped me grow...and I'm in my 40s (so it can still be done)!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

I Predict...

Is a predictable ending a good or bad thing?

This question comes from a 2011 rejection letter where the agent requested my full manuscript of "Lane Changes" and then wrote back a nice letter saying what she loved about it then added, "the ending was a bit too predictable for me." We are in the process of making a 500 mile move and this rejection letter fell out of a file folder as I was going through our filing cabinet. I kept it because she was the first person to ask for my full MS and I'm still so proud and happy that someone liked it enough and thought of my voice as unique and fresh to want to read the whole thing. So, it wasn't 100% for her: in the end, you are entitled to your own opinion :-)

I have since changed this story drastically, adding in some mystery and more tense moments and while the ending may still be predictable, there are more in the series. I'm also working on other books branching off of LC with some very unpredictable endings--culminating in book that will be the end of the series...but that is WAAAAAY down the road.

Yes, the first book has a predictable ending because the character is predictable, she is 17, doesn't like change but she HAS to change in order to meet her goals as obstacles keep getting in her way. Why is this a bad thing?

The books "One Day" and "Elegance of a Hedgehog" come to mind as very UNpredictable endings. I was so pissed off when I read those endings. "One Day" practically went sailing across the room and I never reread it or saw the movie because I was so angry. "Hedgehog" I sat stunned then wondered why in the world this French author would write a story like this only to have it end "like that"? In the end, if you strip it down, the author did a magnificent job coaxing out these emotions from me or any other reader and that's the sign of a good writer.

I believe another sign of a good writer is to give the reader a sense of closure, satisfaction. Many of us crave that Happily Ever After (HEA)/predictable ending. Why? It could be the genre we prefer, or we had a horrible life and want to live vicariously through someone else for a bit, or it's just because we want to see something happy in this chaotic, crazy world.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

IWSG: #pitMad? Yeah, I Didn't Know What It Was Either!

The IWSG is a great way to talk about your insecurities within a net of nonjudgementalness. I happen to "like" the IWSG on Facebook and this popped up today:

"Are You Ready for #PitMad"?

(Click here to see what it is and join us on Twitter from 8am-8pm on June 4! Are You Ready for #PitMad?)

I was like, "Umm, what in the world? Does it have to to with being mad about pit bulls?"

So, I clicked on the link and as soon as I read the article I was hooked. What a great idea. Yes, it'll be crazy on Twitter for agents and writers alike. Yes, it'll require WORK from me, and any other writer, to narrow down your blurb to 140 characters that have to include "#pitmad" and "#<insert genre here>" and finally make sure to include the ever-important TITLE of your work.

Over the last few hours of working on my tweets, I came up with a system and I can't wait to get it out there. Even though I am so insecure about my writing. Even though only a handful of people have read the first in the series of "Lane Changes". Even though I have only one short story published a few years ago...I could go on and on but at some point I have to pull up my big girl panties and get "Lane Changes" out there and get it noticed. Anything I can do before it is published, by me or a publisher, will help the name stick in readers' minds.

So, if you have a finished, polished manuscript and want a safe way to try and get an agent hooked, try #pitMad.

Good luck!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

To Spell Or Not To Spell..It Should Not Even Be A Question!

We moved to this town outside of Boston three years ago. The town is known for great public schools, has a high standard of living etc etc (which is why we are moving back to MD next month. A bit too expensive up here and our family is down in MD anyway.)

So, when we went to our very first high school program back in 2012, and picked up the ever present flyer which tells you who is who and what is what we noticed spelling errors. In children's names, the year was wrong and even the section of band the kids were in was wrong.

Over the years, it has become a tradition for my daughter and I to look for these misspellings and mistakes. The programs have never disappointed us.

Last night was one of many Senior award nights. They were giving away school awards: a few $500 scholarships to kids in sports, certificates to kids in the top 10% of their class, departmental awards for highest GPA and acknowledging the West Point Appointee and National Merit Scholar finalist as well. In the program not only was the word "Wednesday" spelled wrong (no S), there were some grammar mistakes as well.

I don't understand. Doesn't anyone at least use spell check? Or ask a fellow employee to look over something that will be handed out to HUNDREDS of people and probably put in a kids schoolwork box to be looked at decades later?

Although, the program misspellings are not as amazing as going to Red Robin in Nashua, NH (a year and a half ago) and in front of the curb, against the sidewalk, was this:
You know how they fixed this? They painted over the "G" with the "N" then added the "G" at the end. ("Live Free or Die" is NH motto, by the way.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Blood, Boobs and Carnage

I am a few days late with this post as I was working, quite a bit. I am almost done working as a Customer Service rep with a huge, new grocery store in the area (can I share the name on here? I don't even know the protocol...)

Around 9:20pm on Sudnay, I came home from work and my 18 year old was watching Game of Thrones. Now, I binge watched the first three seasons on Netflix when season 4 was on HBO. I didn't purchase HBO---after all, I already bought STARZ for Outlander! I found the longer I went without watching GoT 4, the more I forgot the characters' names and when my kids talked about the books (as my younger teens are allowed to read the books, not see the show) I fell off the wagon. I didn't mind the nudity, the violence...I just am not a huge fantasy person. I watched the last half our of the most recent GoT episode and got an update from my son and realized it was like a very violent soap opera. You can watch an episode, get a quick update from a friend and be all caught up in just a few minutes! Especially when just about everyone dies.

I watch Outlander, too. "Outlander" is my favorite book and one I can read and reread without getting bored. I remember getting a copy of it back in 2002 from a friend and have read all but the last two. I bought STARZ to watch the miniseries. This show has the BBC as well, but definitely not as prevalent as GoT.

Thanks for reading! Any other "Outlander" fans out there?