Saturday, November 28, 2015

How to Make Character Boards on Pinterest

Everyone knows Pinterest is a great place to pin all your interests from seven-layer turtle cake to DIY Christmas table runners. And if you're a writer, you probably have an inspirational board all about the craft of writing. Boards like this one, full of tools, make Pinterest a writer's best friend instead of a time-sucking frenemy.

With my current WIP, I've created some helpful boards on Pinterest separate from all my favorite writing pins: character boards.

A character board is a board all about--you guessed it--your character. Here, you'll pin anything and everything about your character to build a solid reference spot. During NaNoWriMo, I realized I didn't know what the perfect gift would be for one of my characters. So how did I decide? Pinterest, of course! I perused "popular" pins until something jumped out as the perfect gift, pinned it to my character's board, and voila. Suddenly I knew all about this other interest of hers.

What exactly can you add to a character board? Anything you want. But to get you started, here are a few ideas.

1. People who look like your character.

2. Clothes your character would wear.

3. Quotes that show your character's values, beliefs, and worldview.

4. Your character's obsessions, interests, and hobbies.

5. How your character's house or bedroom looks.

If you want to see the full board for my MC, Colby, you can go here.

What else would you add to a character board? Please share in the comments!


Friday, November 27, 2015

Prizes up for grabs with DIVIDED Book Blitz



Publication Date: November 24 2015 

New Adult Science Fiction Romance.

A new heart should mean new life, instead it’s a living nightmare. 

Mishca Richardson’s life is at an all-time high after her heart transplant. With new boyfriend, Ryder, she has the perfect summer romance. Even the nightmares plaguing her sleep since her operation can’t dull her new dream world. Yet, life starts to unravel when Mishca develops superhuman abilities. She does her best to hide them so as not to end up a science experiment in a lab, but she can’t ignore the strange instant attraction she experiences when she meets her university professor, Colin Reed. Torn between love and the obsession, Mishca must decide between the two men. But as the organization responsible for her weird powers moves in, she’ll have a lot more to worry about than romance.





SOMEONE MUST DIE so I can live. I’ve come to terms with that. Before it turned my stomach, thinking about my donor’s death, but now I’m used to it. Most likely, it’ll be a car accident or a drunken fall. It won’t come from illness or any other natural causes that corrupt human organs and make the deceased ineligible to be a donor. A violent, painful death will be my savior. It’s the only way I’ll ever get my new heart.

I open my eyes and stare upward, hoping the white fluffy clouds splotched against the blue sky will distract me from my imaginings of people dying. I guess I’m not as used to the idea of getting someone else’s heart as I thought. The harsh Australian sun makes me squint.

I swing my legs around and hoist myself upright on the stadium bleacher, looking over the sports field. Readjusting my tank top strap that had slipped off my shoulder, I try to conjure up happier thoughts. At least I won’t be responsible for the person who dies, even if I get a new heart out of the mess.

Yeah, happier thoughts.

book blitz SHAR


I've got one BIG prize bundle as part of the celebrations! You could win:
  • Heart Marcasite Earrings
  • $10 Amazon Gift Voucher
  • Owl Christmas Decorations
  • Dinosaur Christmas Decorations
  • Owl Pen
  • Heart Pen

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

About the author 

Author Bio: SHARON JOHNSTON is a New Adult author from sunny Queensland, Australia. She specializes in intriguing stories and soulful contemporaries across category boundaries. Working as a PR specialist by day, in her spare time she writes, blogs for YAtopia and Aussie Owned & Read, spends time with her fur babies, and plays computer games with her family. She’s also been trailed by women wanting to know where she buys her shoes.

Find Sharon on TWITTER and FACEBOOK and on her WEBSITE.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Guestopia! Vacen Taylor

Today, I'm super excited to welcome my friend and fellow Australian author Vacen Taylor to Guestopia! She is one of the kindest, most enthusiastic and fun people I've met since moving to Australia, and she's also not a bad writer! Here's a little bit about Vacen.

Vacen Taylor is a published author, emerging screenwriter and playwright, an occasional artist, amateur photographer, wannabe poet and amongst other things a support service provider. Writing works when there’s passion behind it and her stories always touch something in common or speak to the emotions in all human beings. Creating stories with richness and meaning is paramount in her storytelling. Expressing the uniqueness of self in her work using poetry and song is as much a requirement as world building with art and sculpture. All of which you will find somewhere in the Starchild Series.

Hi Vacen! Thank you so so much for offering up your time to be interviewed today. With further delay, let's kick off with the questions...
Is this your first published book?
No, I have three published books with a fourth set for release in March 2016.

What’s it called?
Starchild Book four: Fire and the Falcon.

Which genre?
Fantasy Adventure.

Which age group?
Middle grade readers 8-12. 

Is it a series or standalone?
It’s a series of seven.

Are you an agented author?

Which publisher snapped up your book?
How involved have you been in the whole publishing process of your book?
Very involved. Right through from the editing to my thoughts on the covers.

Do you have another job?
Yes, two. I’m a contracted recharge zone coordinator for Schoolies and a support service provider on a safe drinking program in the nightclub precinct.

Did you receive many, if any, rejections prior?
Yes, one rejection prior.
What created/what were you doing or watching when the first idea for this book sneaked up on you?
Reading about chakras and healing.

How long did you plot/plan until you started writing it?
About two months of thinking and plotting before I started.

Once you started, did the story flow naturally or did you have to step in and wrestle it into submission?
I always allow the story to flow by itself. I never force any part of my stories. If they stop flowing, which doesn’t happen often, I put them aside for a few days.

How many drafts did you write before you let someone read it? Who was that someone?
I can’t remember exactly. Maybe, three or four. My editor, Candice Lemon-Scott.

Did you employ an editor/proofreader or did you have a critique partner/beta readers before you started querying?
Yes, I always employ and editor. I don’t like editing at all. I’ll happily rewrite but I don’t enjoy editing, therefore, I contract that work out. This also allows me to move on with other projects.

Roughly how many drafts did it take before you sent the manuscript off into the real world?
For my first maybe five or six (before and after editing) altogether.

How many drafts until it was published?
Once with the publisher only one further draft.

Has the book changed dramatically since the first draft?
Yes, to some degree.

Are there any parts you’d like to change even now?
Yes, in the first book there is.

What part of writing do you find the easiest?
The creative concept is what I love. That is followed closely by placing down that first draft. Both of these I find the easiest part of the process.

What part do you find hardest?
Research, not because it’s hard but because it so time consuming. I would love to have an assistant to do all the research for me.

Do you push through writing barriers or walk away?
I rarely hit writing barriers but perhaps that is because I’m often working on a two projects at a time. Perhaps the dual writing work structure I have in place works to my advantage. Splitting up the work during the day or weeks allows for breaks from one manuscript to work on something else.  However I often do purge a first draft and that may mean working purely on that manuscript until it’s all down. Currently, I have four purged manuscript ready to work on somewhere in the future. 

How many projects do you have on the go at the same time?
Usually two, however, this year I’ve worked on two short stories, a one-act play, a short film script and a collaborative feature film while also finalising an Australian YA fiction manuscript, all currently in submission, and now I’m finalising the fourth Starchild manuscript, while working two casual jobs to pay the bills.

Do you think you’re born with the talent to write or do you think it can be learned?

I think everyone is different. Some people are natural writers just like some people are natural singers. Other people, like me, have to learn the craft and keep learning the craft until the day we die. Either way if you like to tell stories then have a go.  Don’t sit back and wish for it to happen. Nothing happens by wishing. Only learning, hard work and belief in yourself will get you there.

How many future novels do you have planned?
I have many stories but what format they will manifest into I can’t say. I enjoy writing scripts and novels but I also enjoyed writing the one-act play this year.  It was challenging and I like a challenge.

Do you write other things, such as short stories, articles, blogs, etc?
Yes, I adore short stories but articles and blogs not so much. I do blog but I’m not as consistent as other authors. If I was to blog fulltime it would be more about travel or adventure. I write a lot every week and I find blogging about writing to be draining. This is just me being truthful.

What’s the highlight of being published so far?
The highlight for me has been a little girl emailing me to tell me how much she loves my series. She said her favourite book in the Starchild Series was The City of Souls. She’s read it 8 times!  #BlessHer

Give me one writing tip that work for you.
I write the first draft of a book from start to finish.

And one that doesn't.
Rewriting or editing as I go doesn’t work for me. It’s disruptive to the creative flow so I avoid it at all costs.

Can you give us a clue or secret about the next book?
Starchild Book Four: The Fire and the Falcon is yet another instalment filled with challenge, teamwork and bravery. There is always a song and culture woven in through my stories. I do hope the readers are beginning to see the children change. A journey like this requires challenge, growth and determination.  The children are vastly different from book one to book three and book four challenges them in a different way.

What question have you always wanted to be asked but never have? What would the answer be?
If you were assured of one writing success what genre would you choose? Horror.  Horror was the genre I started writing in and my first ever published story was a science fiction horror story. 

Fabulous! Thank you for stopping by, Vacen.
If you'd like to follow Vacen and her writing and books, here are a few links to help!

Website                   Twitter                      Facebook


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Faking a Professional Author Photo

At the dayjob, I work with a lot of authors and frequently ask for headshots to use in our marketing of their events. You would be floored by how many people send me shots like these:

click to see what's really wrong with this one.
(Note: These are all altered stock photo images, not actual headshots I've been sent, but they are in no way exaggerations. In fact, these are probably better than 50% of the ones I'm sent))

An unprofessional author photo makes you look like an unprofessional author. Full stop. I cannot send these pictures out to my media contacts or put them on the big screen at an Authors Festival.

The primary purpose of an author's photo is to give the reader a personal connection to the author. For some readers, this is very important. My main purpose (at the dayjob) is to create recognition so an event attendee will recognize you when they see you.

But do not worry! If you're booked for an event or media appearance soon and you don't have time or money to book a pro session, you can fake a decent author headshot in about 5 minutes. In fact, here's one I just took right now at work.

1. Lighting is Everything

Great lighting can make anyone look fantastic. You want your face to be fully and evenly lit either straight-on or from multiple angles. The camera should be between you and the light source. Fluorescent lighting is the devil. Overhead fluorescent lighting is the devil and his twin brother.

The #1 best non-pro lighting is indirect sunlight while the sun is fully risen. If you can find a large window and stand a couple feet inside of it with a nice solid wall behind you, that is ideal. Covered porches/overhangs work great too. It will give you a soft glow and make colors pop. Direct sunlight can wash you out and make you squinty.

If you work during every daylight hour or live in Alaska during the Winter, you can use lamps to light your face. When I vlog at night, I put two white-bulb lamps on either side of the camera.

I'm a makeup addict, so I do have to say that makeup can supplement good lighting. A brush of blush for healthy color, a sweep of mascara and/or eyeliner to define the eyes, and a swipe of lipstick or gloss can help define your features.

2. What's Behind You?

The best backgrounds for these photos are: a solid or lightly-textured wall, an empty (of people, buildings, cars, powerlines, etc) landscape, or a bookshelf that is several feet behind you.

Weird backgrounds can be distracting and draw the attention away from you. (Like why is that dude in a graffiti-ed alley?)

3. Mechanics & Tools

You don't have to have a super fancy camera to take a decent photo. A point-and-shoot or a mobile phone camera (released in the last three years) is definitely good enough. If you can have someone take the photo for you, that is preferred, but you can actually fake this with a selfie, as long as you keep your extended arm out of the shot. My photo above is a selfie. Some front-facing cameras are better than others, but the back-facing camera will always be best, if possible.

The camera should be at or slightly above eye level. Look up to it with your face, not just your eyes. Play with tilting your head at slight angles. Make sure your whole head is in the shot and there is space between your head and the frame on all sides.

4. Keep the Creativity for Your Writing

You may think that weird face or funny hat is hilarious, but there will be many people who don't. Keep it simple so you don't run the risk of an editor removing the photo. Even if you are a comedic author, you might face the opportunity to run a writing workshop or give a keynote address and you want people to think that you're a professional.

When I say this, I know there will always be shouts of "If they don't like who I am, forget them! I'm not going to pretend to be somebody I'm not." I caution you to stop and think about this for a minute. Is making a goofy face in your author photo really worth alienating readers and potential allies for your writing career?

5. Only You

I see so many "author photos" that were obviously part of a group shot and then cropped. No one else's body parts should appear in your author photo. Not to mention, these are usually lower quality because they're only a small portion of a decent-quality photo.

6. Formatting for Success

  • Save at the highest resolution in every step of the process (if you use your phone camera, there is usually a setting to change the quality). Don't let photo editing software compress the photo.
  • Save it as a .jpg. Every platform on the planet can use a jpg.
    • Do not, under any circumstances, copy it into a Word document and send someone that.
      • Whhhhyyyyyy?
  • Save it with an identifiable name. Mine is called "Sarah Nicolas.jpg" on my computer. If someone works with multiple authors, they may have several headshots in a folder. Don't frustrate them by making them look through a folder that looks like this to find yours:

While a professional photography session will usually give you the best headshot possible (as long as the photographer is decent), you can use these tips above to fake it until you can get that done.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments! Or if you think you got it, take a shot at it and post a link to your photo in the comments!!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Happy Christmas from me and Winell Road!

I'm being naughty today and hijacking my YAtopia blog to be the warm up for my own book's blog tour! Smack bottom, off to bed I go! Before I do, look at me in the snow all Christmassy!

When Winell Road: Beneath the Surface was released back in April, I didn't embark on a great deal of promotion. Because of a lot of 'things'. So, to make up for that and to kick off the festivities for my favourite time of year - Christmas! - I am taking Winell Road on a little tour, hoping to spread the word and introduce lots of new young readers to, what I believe is, a great big dollop of sci-fi fun and adventure.

Here's a little info...


Twelve-year old Jack Mills lives at 5 Winell Road and has probably the world's weirdest neighbours. Like freakishly weird. And to top it off, he lives with Mum: nosy, interfering, a hideous cook, and Dad: unsuccessful inventor of the Camera Belt and Self-Closing Window. All in all, it's a boring, embarrassing, dead-end place to live.

So when Jack arrives home from school one day, a close shave with a UFO is the last thing he expects. But the fact it doesn't abduct him, and that no one else, not even Mum, sees the gigantic flying saucer hovering over the street, adds a whole new layer of strange.
Soon after, an alien encounter threatens Jack’s life and he becomes embroiled in a galaxy-saving mission. With the assistance of his new neighbour, frighteningly tall Roxy Fox, he discovers Winell Road is hiding secrets—secrets Jack might wish he'd never uncovered.


If you're still not sure, here's a couple of reviews...

'Winell Road: Beneath the Surface is a fast-paced middle-grade adventure story with the feel of Men in Black. Jack is a smart, resourceful boy with more abilities than he’s ever dreamed off, and he finds out that the world is a far stranger place than he imagined. The action is non-stop and will keep readers riveted.'

'This book will work wonderfully read aloud in class. There are enough cliff-hanger chapter endings to keep them begging for more. It will also promote discussion about making snap judgments while providing plenty of scope for related art projects.' Buzz Words Magazine 

Go to Goodreads to see a few more.


It would make a great stocking filler for children. BUT, if you're feeling particularly lucky, I'm giving away three copies just in time for Christmas! Yippee!

Click here to enter!


If you don't win, then the book is available all over the virtual world.

Amazon UK    Booktopia    Jet Black Publishing

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy the book, I would love to hear your feedback.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Cover Reveal: Chasing Crazy

We're so thrilled to reveal the cover of debut author Kelly Siskind's CHASING CRAZY, which releases January 12th from Forever Yours! We absolutely can't wait for everyone to get their hands on this new adult contemporary romance. Check out the beautiful cover below, read a sneak peek, and enter to win a $20 Amazon gift card!



"With an endearingly awkward female protagonist, a swoon-worthy male love interest, and Siskind's superb storytelling, this is one of the best New Adult contemporary romances I've read to date." -- USA Today bestselling author K.A. Tucker

Dear Mom & Dad, I dropped out of school. I'm going backpacking. Sorry. Love you both. 

At nineteen, Nina has endured two lifetime's worth of humiliation. Tired of waiting for it to get better, she decides to get going-across the globe to New Zealand. There she soon faces what she most fears: a super sexy guy ready to be Nina's next mistake.

Once Sam's life was all about having fun. That was before the accident. Now his friends have bailed and his world is broken. But when a gorgeous girl on his flight looks at him with passion instead of pity, Sam feels his old self coming back to life.

Now traveling together, Nina and Sam know this isn't just a fling. They're falling fast, hard, and deep. More than anything, Sam wants Nina to forget her fears. But to help her do that he must reveal his own painful secret-and risk Nina never seeing him the same way again.

CHASING CRAZY releases January 12, 2016 - add it to your Goodreads list here!

Preorder CHASING CRAZY now: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | Kobo


Frickin’ Hot Guy and his stupid hike. He thought his limp would slow us down, but I’m the one huffing and puffing, trying to figure out how I ended up on Mount Everest while in New Zealand. I chance a glance up, using the moment to inhale a mouthful of air. Sam leans over the edge, hands on his knees, grinning down at me. If there was ever a reason to summit a mountain, that face is it. Sam, who I’m falling for.

Sam, with that jaw.

Sam, who I’ll be sleeping with. In a tent. Alone.

Another five agonizing steps later, he’s got me by the shoulders, helping me up. In the blink of an eye, he has my straps undone and is easing the bazillion-pound weight from my back. The air still feels sharp in my lungs, like it could slice through me.

“Keep moving around,” he says. “Come on, let’s walk it off.” He grabs my hand and leads me over the rocky ground, the two of us walking in wide circles.

After a few laps, the air is less daggerlike and my breathing slows. I blink at my surroundings. So focused on my aches and pains, I didn’t stop to soak in the landscape, if that’s what you’d call it. This is probably what the moon looks like. A few hikers passed us on the climb, but we’re alone in this crater, surrounded by jagged outcrops of brownish-black rocks and yellow tufts of grass, low mountains on all sides. It’s majestic and eerie and otherworldly, and I’m here because of Sam. 

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” he asks. He’s still holding my hand as the silence engulfs us, my heart pounding in my ears.

The air is cold and damp. It alleviates the heat from that insane climb but doesn’t do much to quell the warmth between Sam’s hand and mine. Still, I don’t let go. And he doesn’t let go. I could stand here forever.

“Yeah, beautiful,” I finally say, no longer referring to the scenery.


Want to win a $20 Amazon giftcard from Kelly Siskind? You can enter to win on the Rafflecopter below!

About Kelly Siskind

A small-town girl at heart, Kelly moved from the city to open a cheese shop with her husband in Northern Ontario. When she’s not neck deep in cheese or out hiking, you can find her, notepad in hand, scribbling down one of the many plot bunnies bouncing around in her head.

She laughs at her own jokes and has been known to eat her feelings—Gummy Bears heal all. She’s also an incurable romantic, devouring romance novels into the wee hours of the morning.

She is represented by Stacey Donaghy of the Donaghy Literary Group. 2015 Golden Heart® Finalist

Connect with Kelly Siskind Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Writer's Community

My name is Megan O’Russell, and I am thrilled to join the YATopia team! I couldn’t be happier to be added the ranks of the wonderful authors and editors who contribute to this blog.

Since I’ve never posted on this blog before, let me tell you a little bit about me. I am the author of the young adult fantast series The Tethering. The first and second books in the series, The Tethering and The Siren’s Realm, are both currently available from Silence in the Library Publishing. On the adult side of writing, I have a Christmas sweet romance novella Nuttycracker Sweet coming out December 8th from Fiery Seas Publishing. I’ve had the honor and pleasure of being included in some really fun anthologies and even got to be the video spokeswoman for Athena’s Daughters II, an anthology that focused on women in speculative fiction.

Aside from spending loads of time clacking away on my keyboard writing stories, I am also a professional musical theatre performer and as of this year even a lyricist! I love writing, and I love being onstage. I basically spend my work time either pretending to be other people or creating other people. It’s amazing.

But writing and acting don’t always go hand in hand. Being a writer, my actual time at the keyboard can be very flexible. If I have rehearsals for a show, I can rearrange my writing time, and no one but the characters in my stories and my conscience will ever know. But being a writer is a lot easier if you have writer friends. Networking is hugely useful, not only for staying in touch with what the latest trends to embrace or avoid are, but also for super important things like finding a literary agent or meeting up with people who might have an anthology you could contribute to.

As an actor, the only time I have a weekend off is when I’m between shows. Since I do short run productions, things like asking for a weekend off to go to a writer’s conference isn’t really a thing. And luckily I’m employed consistently enough that I’ve never actually made it to a writer’s conference, though, believe me, I would jump if I found one on a Monday! When I realized that in-person networking was fairly out of reach, I was devastated. I was the lonely kid at the junior high dance hiding in the shadows while everyone else took selfies with their friends to be their new profile picture.

But then I discovered a wonderful online community of writers, editors, artists, and publishers who welcomed me into their groups with open arms. Now granted, actually getting to sit down and have a cup of coffee with someone isn’t nearly as good as participating in a tweet chat with them, but it’s something.

I started out in a Facebook group with people from my first, and tragically failed, publisher. But the friends I made in that group led me to both of my current publishers and even to this blog! Participating in online author chats and even volunteering for cover reveals and street teams can be a great way to start up a conversation with fellow authors. And who knows where those conversations could lead?

I’m not saying that all Facebooks groups for authors are great. I’ve been in a few that have self-imploded in ways that even Jerry Springer would find hard to believe. But if you, like me, can’t make it to the RT conference this year, or go to one of those super cool learn how cop things work weekends that always make me green with envy when I see tweets of, reach out to the online community of writers. You might be surprised how many people will greet you with open cyber arms.

Here are a few hashtags to check out and groups to look up. Just because authors work alone with their computers doesn’t mean we don’t need a community.

Check out #WO2016. This is for authors who are Waiting On 2016 for their books to come out. It’s a great way to remember that you are not alone in you pre-release stress, freak outs, and joys.

The #Awethors is a great Indie group that loves to do write storms, beta read for each other, and just provide authorly companionship.

This YATopia blog has great information for authors and even a section on agents who are accepting submissions.

Find a group that isn’t looking to only sell you their books. Be a consistent member, and see how many friends you can make.

It’s amazing the wonderful writers you can meet from right in your living room.  

Monday, November 16, 2015

Why I'm Okay with 'Failing' NaNoWriMo

It's just over halfway through the month and my NaNo book should be sitting at the 25k word mark. Yeah, about that...

The day job and life and procrastination have all done damage to my daily word count, and as I slip further and further behind, the hope of finally 'winning' this thing considering I've tried multiple times now, goes up in proverbial flames.

But, all is not lost because while I might not be hitting the NaNo daily goal, words are still being written and that is always a win. If I hadn't signed up with NaNo, I probably wouldn't have spent October actively engaged with this idea researching and plotting, developing character arcs and drawing maps of my world. Without this self-imposed pressure to show off my progress to my writing buddies, I'd probably be procrastinating a lot more because I'd only be accountable to myself. By joining this writing community, I've forced myself to be productive!

Attempting NaNoWriMo again after a few years of not even trying, has also taught me a few valuable lessons about myself as a writer:

1) I'm a slow drafter who can't write something new without rereading what I wrote yesterday.

2) I want to enjoy the process of writing and not just watch the word count grow.

3) I might sit down to write for 2 hours and end up spending 1.5 of those hours doing research.

I am okay with all of this. It's who I am as a writer and forcing myself to pump out 50k words in a month just isn't enjoyable. Even as an exercise, it would be an exercise in futility for me because I'd hate the process (probably end up hating the book I'm writing too) and would end up with a shoddy first draft I despised because writing it had been more of a chore than a pleasure. This is why I'm okay with 'failing' NaNoWriMo. Honestly, it's not really a failure at all.

NaNo has and will continue to be a great motivator, and if that's all it is to me, that's okay because I will finish this book - eventually - and I'll have enjoyed every moment of writing it.

Final word? If you're writing this November, I wish you all the best with your NaNoWriMo endeavours! Just know that it's totally okay if NaNo isn't for you and you are NOT a failure for not being able to write 50k in 30 days!

Saturday, November 14, 2015


(The band KISS might not approve of my title, but hopefully they would be good sports about it. Who knows? Maybe some of them are avid readers, too!)

As a published writer, it is my sworn duty to inspire other aspiring authors, young and old, to push their noses to the grindstone and write away.

Here we go.

Okay. Thinking.

Oh, never mind. The truth is, right now all I want to do is read. Instead of my eyes being bigger than my stomach, my eyes are bigger than my bookshelf. My TBR (to be read) pile topples over my bedside table. I keep adding to the places I can store books: in closets, in cabinets, at odd angles on my bookshelf.

Not only to I want to read new books, there's just as many I want to reread. I watch my son, perched up in a tree devouring the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid while I rake and mow and haul wood. Let's admit it. I'm jealous of the time he gets to spend reading. I fondly remember what summer vacation used to mean to me: hours upon hours of books cradled in my hands. Nowadays, there is no such thing as summer vacation. I'm an adult and not wise enough to become a teacher.

I have three book series out now (Dead Girl Running and How to Date Dead Guys published by Curiosity Quills and An Occasionally Grim Fairy Tale in the process of being published by Fantasy Works). This means I owe everybody sequels.

I do want to write them. I've got outlines and ideas and scenes doing jumping jacks in my head. For the last six months straight, I've been editing, editing, editing (with the occasional pause for proofing), and to quote Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland "I need a moment."

Actually, I need a lot of moments to read enough books to fill me back up.  This is how I feed my imagination, my creative fire. When I don't read enough, the fire sputters and almost burns out.

Let's see what you think of my list. Please make suggestions in the comments below. I'm always on the lookout for more good books, whether I truly have time (or space) for them or not.

Five Books I desire to read before I write my sequels:

1)   Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
(a reread, of course)

2)   Storm Siren by Mary Weber
(I've wanted to read this for so long)

3)   The Maze Runner by James Dashner
(so curious about this one)

4)   Burn Baby Burn Baby by Kevin Craig
(I predict this one has the feels)

5)   The Gateway Through Which They Came by Heather Marie
(this one might creep me out, hopefully in a good way)

Okay, make that five more:

6) Watch Me Burn by Sharon Bayliss
(the first was so good I'm impatient to find out what happens next)

7) Kiya Hope of the Pharaoh by Katie Hamstead
(it's been far too long since I've read any historical fiction)

8) Please Don't Tell My parents I'm a Super Villain by Richard Roberts
(the title gets me)

9) The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
(the cover seduced me—how shallow, right?)

10) Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
(honestly, I forgot what this one is about but I really want to read it)

Apparently, I can't count. Here's five more:

11) Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
(I seek excitement)

12) Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
(I've heard such good things)

13) Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
(a friend keeps bugging me to read this)

14) All Fall Down by Ally Carter
(why haven't I read this yet?)

15)  Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts
(I don't know Billie Letts personally, but I love her anyway)

Five Books I need to read before I write my sequels (research):

1) How to Stay Alive in the Woods by Bradford Angier
(I've read some of this, and it's surprisingly humorous)

2) The Black Arts by Richard Cavendish
(it's kind of scary)

3) The Real Witches' Handbook by Kate West
(a bit of a reread)

4) Ear, Air, Fire & Water by Scott Cuningham
(also a reread)

5) The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson
(this one freaks me out, I'm forcing myself to continue)

Whew! That's my list. Not totally true. Actually, I have even more books I want to read, but ever since I started seriously writing, I feel like I haven't had as much time as I'd like to read. I'm curious how other authors feel regarding this.

Also, who else is kinda pissed about not being a mermaid?
(Sorry, couldn't resist asking.)

Yours truly,
Ann M. Noser (Yes, I'm new here...)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Cutting and chopping


So I was M.I.A on my last few posts and I am very sorry for that. Life kind of threw up on me lol. Anyway, I'm back now and I wanted to handle a topic that a lot of writers say they're fine with but when it comes down to the nitty gritty they actually balk more often than not. We're talking chopping your manuscript up into little pieces and rebuilding.

Yeah, we all know we need to cut our darlings and, yes, it can be tough. But what if someone wants to cut a character? A major plot twist? An entire location? A theme? An ending? A start?

Think it can't happen? Wrong. It totally can.

Now, I'm not saying it'll happen to you, but you need to be aware that it could. Especially if you're wanting to get published and an agent or editor says, "well, you know that handsome, cute MC's boyfriend you have...well he has to go."

Most writers get really offended, upset and sure that the agent/editor is trying to turn it into their book and not yours.

But hold up a minute there, folks. Because you're totally on the wrong track. Agents and editors see YOUR vision. They see what you want to achieve, what you want readers to hear and what is the best way possible to get that story out there. Sure, it might seem odd that they ax a character you feel develops your theme, or they cut a location that you think is central to your world building. But before you take up arms...

Your agent/editor is experienced and can see things you can't. They can help you to fully visualize the core of your book. And at the end of the day, if it doesn't work, you can always change it back. Remember, edits are up for discussion. Bat ideas back and forth with your professional companion. Talk things through. Work out plans.

After all, you want your book as good as you can get it, right?

Never forget...this is also a business.