Wednesday, February 29, 2012

100 Followers Celebration Give Away

Yahoo, I've reached 100 followers!

To celebrate I'd like to give away a $10.00 Barnes and Noble gift card to one lucky follower.

If you'd like to be entered to this contest (open to all those living in continental USA), just comment on this post and include your email. For extra entries (up to five) Facebook, Twitter, blog, or Google+ about this blog and leave me a link.

 I'll announce the winner on Monday March 5th. Good luck!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Fractured Fairytales

Here are some more of my notes from LTUE (Life the Universe and Everything scifi/fantasy symposium). The presenters for this panel included:

Author Mette Harrison
Author Rick Walton
Danyelle Leafty
Author Danyelle Leafty

What is a fractured fairytale?
  • Using a fairy tale as inspiration (a spin off)
  • A modern adaptation
  • A silly adaptation with very little to do with the original except on the surface
  • For example: West Side Story=Romeo and Juliet
  • Another example: from the stepmother’s POV
  • A fractured story with elements of more than one fairy tale
Reasons for doing retellings:
  • Using the established expectations you can twist people’s minds and create humor
  • Hating fairytales gives one panelist the desire to retell them.
  • They mirror truth and give you a conveyed theme. You can take your own twist of that version of truth.
  • Original fairytales try to teach moral lessons with shock value. You can choose tales as starting point because of the horror element and start with the horribleness.
  • They feel real even if they’re not. The characters stories feel well-rounded.
  • Fairytales are part of the cultural consciousness and bring us immediate connectedness. They give us a common culture, a shared literacy.
  • They show a mirror of humanity—some of the darker and lighter aspects.
Does a story need a moral?
  • A story needs meaning and problems.
  • There’s a difference between having a moral and moralizing (preaching).

Friday, February 17, 2012

Middle Grade Books for Boys (LTUE Conference, Feb. 9, 2012)

me and a blue wall
Stacy Whitman, Editor, Tu Books

Tyler Whiteside, author of the Janitors MG series 

E.J. Patten
E. J. Patten, author of the Hunter Chronicles

What is middle grade?
  • MG is for reluctant readers ages 8-12 or 13
  • Middle readers are those not reading Magic Tree House anymore
  • Middle as in middle school
  • Harry Potter 
MG themes:
  • Relationships such as friendship
  • Not much sexual tension, but maybe some puppy love.
  • Adventure/action
  • Not so much about coming of age; more about transition from child to teenager
Ave. length:
  • 55-60,000
  • Realism shorter (35,000-80,000)
  • Eg: Spiderwick 
MG Reading Level 
  • Most YA is written at a 7th grade reading level some is written at a 4th-5th  grade reading level
  • It’s okay to use big words and 1st person for MG readers
What boys like to read about:
  • Weapons
  • Action
  • Humor
  • Boys love nonfiction, too—Magazines, the Internet, Legos
  • Fantasy and sci/fi are great for those reluctant readers
  • Transition into classics or Newberry award winners
  • They are at an age where they are establishing gender identity 
POV in MG books:
  • MG seldom switches POV, though it happens every now and then
  • The reason why middle graders come back to a series is because they fall in love with a character.
  • If they are invested in certain POV, the reader probably wants to see that POV in next book.
Do’s and don’t’s for MG books:
  • Remember what its like when you were at that age, but also remember that times are different, though there are some constants such as developmental/emotional
  • Don’t introduce too many complications, but you need a few to move story forward
  • Make the character roughly 1-2 years older than the readers, topping out at 13.
  • Diary of a Wimpy kid is an example of young MG
Humor in MG Books:
  • Potty humor is common in MG books for boys.
  • Young boys like slap stick
  • Advanced potty humor: If you can use gross stuff for cool inventions or magic, (like using garbage to create weapons to fight monsters) boys like that.
  • Stacy doesn’t like potty humor and doesn’t typically acquire books that include it (good to know)
  • Rick Reardon’s Galaxy Games
  • Artimus Fowl
  • Fable Haven
  • Percy Jackson
  • Heroes of Olympus
  • The red Pyramid
  • Warriors
  • Leviathin
  • Lark Light

Thursday, February 16, 2012

First Page Contest and Critique

Jamie Ayres is having a contest. From her blog:

If you’d like to participate, then please email me by 5pm tomorrow & post the first page of your manuscript on YOUR blog. I will compile a list of the participating blogs and post them here tomorrow. That way, everyone can hop around and post constructive feedback on each others first page. I will randomly draw five names to receive a personal critique from Heather (Burch)I’ll announce those winners tomorrow on my blog and then contact you with instructions. Also, I  will personally visit everyone’s blog to comment and will keep a tally on who is leaving the most helpful comments for others:) That person’s reward will be a mailed copy of Heather’s book (Halflings) *can I get a woot, woot* I’ll announce that winner on my regular blog next Wednesday. 

Here's my first page of Kala's Curse:

Kala’s Curse
The lion is strong
  The elephant wise
The gazelle graceful
The cheetah swift

So shall be King Fon’s heir
A great warrior 
and uniter of kingdoms
High and low

Chapter 1
A cheetah crouched in the long, yellow grass only a few paces away, ears flattened, a growl rumbling in its throat. My feet felt as if they were baked into hardened clay. As always, I, Princess Kala, heir to the High Kongo throne, had dug myself into deep dung. 
Steady now, I thought, drawing back my bowstring and aiming at the cheetah’s chest. My palms felt sticky under the sweltering sun that sapped the moisture from the cracked, red earth. Though my hands trembled with trepidation, I hesitated to shoot the imposing creature I’d accidentally run into while hunting savannah rats. I could make out flecks of white in the animal’s tan coat, see its ribs expand and contract, and sense the life force radiating from its sleek body.  
I stared into the glowing red eyes and saw myself standing before the cheetah the way I could see my reflection in water. My coal-colored skin glistened, and the strong odor of salty sweat mixed with perfume from oils rubbed on my body hit me. I felt the cheetah’s powerful legs tense to spring, and yet, I knew it didn’t want to kill me anymore than I wanted to kill it. This creature of the wild feared my arrow as much as I did its bite, though it feared not for its own life. Overriding the impulse to run, a stronger protective instinct trapped the animal. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

More LTUE conference notes: Podcasting For Writers

I'm doing a lot of extra posts this week since I have a lot of notes to share from the conference. Check out my previous posts on the conference if you haven't already read them. Since my writer's group does a writing podcast at, I attended this panel to get more ideas for our podcast. After I went home I listened parts of the different podcasts. The sound quality for Author's Advisory wasn't very good on my computer, so I wasn't able to listen to much of it. Appendix Podcast has Robison Wells, Dan Well's brother, and has a fun dynamic and good sound quality. I haven't yet listened to Life is Fragile radio dramas but it sounds fun. I listened to a full episode of Create or Die and loved the conversational style between the cohosts and found the information they shared interesting and helpful. Here's what I learned from the panel. 

Introductions to the podcasts represented on panel:

Robin Weeks of author's Advisory
1 1/2 hours long
They interview experts

Consists of 3 hosts including Robison Wells and Marion Jensen, who has signed a
deal with Harper Collins

3. Radio Dramas Life is Fragile
            They do live radio dramas

They do Ebooks, give advice for any artisan of any genre, and focus on creativity

What are the Essential Elements of a Podcast?
News, updates, advice on writing, market trends
Writing rules
Make it Fresh
Live role playing/improvisation
Know who you are
Structure, tone, keep it consistent
music, sound effects

What are the benefits of having multiple voices (such as Audioplay)?
Help with formating, dynamics, interaction, conversation
Share the burden of creation
You can do audio book multi person podcasts
Network with your friends and gain more followers

How much preparation is involved in the podcasts?
Author’s Advisory uses outlines with questions, topics and subtopics
They also ask their guests if they want to add anything
They contact best selling authors and arrange to have them on the show
They do conference calls
Appendix Podcast plays games by creating a story on the spot
They also do conferences through Skype and pay their guests in donuts

What types of technology do the different podcasts use?
Author’s Advisory uses free, which includes an outline board. 
Listeners can call in and ask questions
Create or Die uses a $25 mic. 
They editing every once in a while or stop to collect their thoughts or they throw out podcasts.
Another podcast used a home recording studio with a Midi condenser mic. and Mixer (300) stands and used Sony vegas audio editor
Sound quality depends a lot on the room you record in and is important
Hook up through I-tunes
Distribution through Google Plus Facebook

How do you advertise?
Word of mouth
Presence on the internet

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

In HIs Eyes Anthology

I offered to help the Indelibles spread the word about the In His Eyes Series, so here's the announcement:
Media Kit for In His Eyes (Indelibles Valentine’s Anthology)

Just in time for Valentines Day, The Indelibles bring you a one-of-a-kind young adult anthology! Sixteen original short stories, all from the point of view of our favorite male characters - some are old flames from our novels and some were dreamed up especially for this anthology. 

Let these imminently crushable, swoon-worthy guys show you what romance looks like – in his eyes. 

The contributors to In His Eyes include award winners, frequent “Top 100” placers, and hot 2011 debut authors. 
In His Eyes is FREE at Smashwords, and $0.99 at Amazon and Barnes&Noble - hopefully to go free there as well by our release date on February 14th for Valentines Day. Or you can add In His Eyes to your TBR list on Goodreads.
For more information about The Indelibles, check out our blog, facebook page, or follow us on Twitter
Stories included in the Anthology:
Surprise, Surprise by Stacey Wallace Benefiel, author of Glimpse: Half the women in Melody's family can see the future, which makes it nearly impossible for Raleigh to surprise her. What's a guy to do for Valentine's Day when his girlfriend is always one step ahead of him? 

First Kiss or First Kill? by C.K. Bryant, author of Bound: Love isn't always rainbows and kittens, sometimes it can be downright deadly. (A deleted chapter from Bound.) 

Shattered by Ali Cross, author of Become: James and Desi use each other in an effort to cling to the darkness in each of them, but in the end they discover that love changes you. (A chapter of Become from James’ POV.) 

Before by Jessie Harrell, author of Destined: When a younger Eros is exiled to a land that doesn't believe in the Greek gods, he finds the first love of his immortal life. Read Eros' first person account of his romance, and heartbreak, in the time before he met Psyche. 

The Qualm Before the Storm by Karen Amanda Hooper, author of Tangled Tides. Yara Jones doesn’t want to be a mermaid. Treygan doesn’t want to be the monster who turns her. You can’t always get what you want. (A short prequel to Tangled Tides.) 

Unspeakable by S.R. Johannes, author of Untraceable: When Mo sees a strange girl in the woods, he follows her. He soon realizes they are both in a dangerous position and might not get out alive. 

In the Beginning by Katie Klein, author of Cross My Heart: Seth is falling hard for Genesis Green, but the guardian angel is determined not to interfere, until an accident changes the course of their lives forever. (A short prequel to The Guardian.) 

A Chance Encounter by Cheri Lasota, author of Artemis Rising: Finnian's eyes hide a terrible secret. But a girl on the train home, the girl in tears with a secret of her own...She sees right through him. A scene from the upcoming novel, Echoes in the Glass. 

Family Bonds by Heather McCorkle, author of The Secret of Spruce Knoll: A Halloween party filled with teens who can channel energy and use it to kill, what could go wrong? For Spruce Knoll fans who are dying to read more about Fane. 

Getting Closer by Lisa Nowak, author of Running Wide Open: Megan is smart, hot, and an upperclassman—in other words, way out of Cody’s league. So why did she choose him? (An excerpt of Getting Sideways.) 

The Almost Assassin by Laura Pauling, author of A Spy Like Me, releasing Spring 2012: Malcolm tries his hand at the family business but his conscience and a beautiful "spy" may be his downfall. 

Mind Games by Susan Kaye Quinn, author of Open Minds: Raf wants to take Kira—the only girl in school who doesn’t read minds—to the mindware Games, but his friends have other plans. (A short prequel to Open Minds.) 

By The Firelight by Elle Strauss, author of Clockwise: When Nate McKenzie asks an unpopular girl to dance on a dare, he's in for the time of his life. 

A Very Alien Valentine’s Day by Magan Vernon, author of How To Date An Alien: After surviving confinement and an intergalactic war for his human half, Alex, now he has to live through the biggest challenge of them all: Valentine's Day. 

Aligned by RaShelle Workman, author of Exiled: A half-Eternal boy and an Eternal girl must free millions of tortured souls from a creature whose been feasting on their pain and suffering.

Monday, February 13, 2012

LIfe, The Universe, and Everything SciFi/Fantasy Symposium

What a great conference. I had a blast! The fist day I attended a class on Marketing with:

Bree Despain (Dark Divine Trilogy),

Elana Johnson (Possession),  
Jenn R. Johanson (Insomnia), 
and Lynn Hardy (Prophesy of the Flame). 

Here are my notes:
Marketing Tips: Stalker, Stealer, Mutator:

  • Do blog tours, anything to get your name out there.
  • Host give aways.
  • Get your name and book in local magazines and on local television talk shows.
  • Do a group blog with like-minded authors, who write novels in the same genre or age group.
  • Watch what you put out there because everyone can read it.
  • “Stalk and steal” great ideas from other blogs!
  • Do anthologies like Hunger Games?
  • Bring other people on that can help you (published authors).
  • Approach people and ask if they’ll host a contest.
  • Check out Sandra Michell’s marketing timeline.
  • Make Post cards, mail them to the 12 book stores closest to you, and ask them to buy your book Write something like: Hi, I’m a local author. My book is coming soon. Please consider buying it. Send postcards to schools and tell them you do  presentations on “xyz.” Put your book cover on front, leave the back blank. Include ordering #, intro, title, and publisher.
  • Send invitations to book signings to everyone you know or can get an email/address for. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Book Reviews

Wow, two posts in one week! That's more than usual. I'm going to start posting on Mondays and Fridays now. I finished Scorch Trials and Crossed. Here's a short review of each book: 

Scorch Trials, by James Dashner, is a Dystopian YA novel. It's fast-paced with lots of action, humor, and unexpected twists, especially at the end. The Maze runners are tested in a scorched land filled with crazy zombie-like people infected with a disease who try to kill them and lightning that zaps them from the sky. They must reach the Safe Haven by a certain time to be saved. I particularly loved the dialogue, characters, especially Gorge, who I wanted to see and hear more of near the latter part of the book. As a very visual person and a big fan of description, I also loved the unique way James describe things (emotions, objects, scenes) in his story. Can't wait for the Maze Runner movie to come out!

Crossed, by Allyson Condie, another Dystopian YA novel, is a slower-paced, more introspective book, though there was plenty of action too. It's told from the points of view of the two main characters, Cassia and Ky, as they each escape the Society and flee into a desert canyon. There they find each other again and search for the Rising, a secret group that opposes the Society. If you like to get into the main characters' heads, you'll love Crossed. Though the story itself is interesting, it's the beautiful writing that compelled me to read it the most. And, of course, I love the setting because it's based on  the the red rock deserts of Southern where my family enjoys spending time hiking and camping. I could picture the scenes almost as if I were there. There were some big secrets revealed in the book, that didn't seem that shocking to me, and the end left me wondering and hanging a little (as series sometimes do), but all in all this was a great read with depth and beauty and twists and turns like the canyons they wander in the story!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

LTUE: Scifi/fantasy Conference

I'm excited to attend the Life the Universe and Everything (LTUE) science fiction/fantasy symposium this week! (Feb. 9-11). LTUE conference. Speaking will be authors:
Dan Wells and . . . 
Brandon Sanderson
Along with James Dashner, Elana Johnson, and many others, as well as editor:
Stacy Whitman 

How about you? Will you be attending? I'd love to meet you if you are. For those who can't, I'll share highlights of the conference next week on my blog.