Saturday, December 31, 2011

Saturday Stories--win a critique!

Everywhere I look, I see stories. Whether it be something left on the street or a conversation I overhear, there's always a story attached.

This is why I'm starting Saturday Stories!

Here's how it's going to work:

  • Each Saturday, I will post a writing prompt (usually in the form of a picture). You then write a flash fiction piece based on the prompt.
      • All pictures will have been taken by me, and all conversations something I actually overheard. So rest assured, there actually is a story there!

  • Post your entry on your blog, and put a link to your post in the comments below. Entries must be posted by Wednesday! There is no cap on entries!

  • Between Wednesday and Saturday, I will read each entry and pick a winner.

  • The winner gets their flash-fiction posted here the next Saturday before I reveal the new prompt AND a 5 page critique!

Sound like fun? It certainly does to me! Please spread the word so we can get as many participants as possible!

Without further ado, here's the first prompt:

I can't wait to see what you guys come up with! Don't forget to put your link in the comments below!


Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Spirit of Christmas--I come bearing gifts!

Merry Christmas!!

Since I'm a strong Christian, there is much more to this time of year than Santa Claus and candy canes. But, even if I weren't a Christian, the Christmas season would hold a very special place in my heart. For as long as I can remember, my family has made a point of giving to those who need, of sacrificing our time and provisions to help others if only for one day.

So this Christmas, I'd like to give my time to you!

My Christmas present to all my wonderful followers is critiques! Everyone who comments on this post (the comment can be anything!) will get a critique. Please include your email in the comment so I can contact you.

Commenter 1 gets a 25 page critique!
Commenter 2 gets a 15 page critique!
Commenters 3, 4, and 5 get 10 page critiques!
Commenters 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 get 5 page critiques!
Everyone else gets a query OR synopsis critique!

If you don't have anything currently ready for critiquing, I'd be happy to let you have a guest post on my blog, or something else you can think of.

Happy Holidays!! May this season be filled with joy and happiness for you!


Friday, December 23, 2011

Writing Conferences--how to get the most for your money

I'll admit, I haven't been to as many writing conferences as most of you probably have, but it's crystal clear to me how important it is that you not only show up, but actively participate in as many conferences as possible.

I know it may seem like you're just one of many little fish in a huge conference, but it's easy for you to change that. The first step is to go to workshops you're actually interested in--that way, you'll have something to say or questions to ask.

That's another thing--make sure you go with plenty of questions ready! If you have a particular aspect of your writing you're trying to improve, plan out the questions you think will give you the most helpful answers. If you're going to a lecture, jot down questions as they speak so you can ask them at the end (or when you 'bump into them' in the hallway :D)

If there's a newly published author there and you'd like to go to their workshop, read their book beforehand. Even if the workshop isn't about their book specifically, believe me when I say they'll be referencing it. Knowing it will also give you more opportunities to ask questions and comment.

Sign up for pitches and any contests available. Go with a goal in mind. If you don't have anything ready to pitch, most conferences have short story contests that you can participate. It's fine to just go and attend workshops, but you'll get so much more out of it if you're actively working towards recognition.

Mingle with people outside the workshops. There are plenty of people in the hallways, including published authors, agents, and editors. You may not even know that who you're talking to is an agent. So NEVER say anything like, "Yeah, my book's not that good..." Talk it up as if it were the best thing in the world, and be interested in the other person!

That being said, always be ready to elevator pitch your book!

Not only will these steps help you meet more people and become a little more 'immersed' in the writing community, but they will enable you to take more from the conference (remember, you're paying for this!) There are so many people I know who've met their agent or editor at a conference, and they weren't necessarily participating in pitches. Magical things can happen in those halls, but only if you're ready for them.

What writing conferences have you gone to/are you looking forward to? Do you have any great stories from conferences?


Thursday, December 22, 2011

My life is a musical

♪ ♫ ♪ ♫ ♪ ♫ ♪ 

Ok, maybe not to that extent, but I'm not lying.

I hardly do anything without a musical accompaniment, whether it be on my computer, iPod, playing piano, listening to the radio, singing myself, whatever!! There's always music around me.

I realized today that it's kind of to the point of being ridiculous. If I'm not singing, I'm humming or tapping my foot or listening to someone else sing.

And to answer your question, yes, I make up songs on the spot.

I also take time to actually write songs every once and a while, but not as often as I'd like.

And I do burst out into dance every once and a while, but usually when I'm on my own.

I just regret that people don't join in with me.....*heavy sigh*

So when I'm writing my novels, I have playlists I listen to for each of them. These playlists inadvertently make it into the story (unless I'm working on my epic fantasy....I think our style of music wouldn't exactly have been available...). My main characters favorite song, though I may never mention it in the actual novel, will end up on repeat for about an hour or two as I work on the story. Different characters have different theme songs as well, so if I'm writing a scene that's heavily about them I'll turn that song on. Sometimes I just listen to Pandora and let myself discover new music to help the mood (and for my own enjoyment).

And when I'm writing a scary or adrenaline-filled scene, I HAVE to have ominous music on.

If it's not readily available, I'll hum or sing to myself.

I've actually had entire novels come into my mind just from listening to one song and imagining the characters (Taylor Swift's GREAT for this). I've also written a couple songs about my own characters, just to get a better feel of who they are. Music says so much more than words ever can, and I only wish I could include that music in my books for my readers to experience.

So what do you guys think? Am I just crazy here, or do you agree that there's something special about music? I personally feel that music is an amazing tool for communication and that it can bring out feelings and emotions in each of us that nothing else could.

What role does music play in your writing?

♪ ♫ ♪ ♫ ♪ ♫ ♪ 


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays and a book review!!

So I probably should have given all of you amazing people a heads up before I dropped off the face of the earth...I'm sincerely sorry for that. Rest assured I have been productive, if not writing-wise academic-wise.

The last few weeks leading up to finals are terrible, just so you know.


I survived, and I'm back!! I've sincerely missed this blog and all of you. This winter break I'll be jumping right back into the pool of amazing blogs and contests and (ugh) querying. Can't wait to see what you've all been up to!

As for me, I have a TON of reading to catch up on, and I started with this month's book for my AWESOME online book club, YA Today. I seriously love these ladies!

Anyway, this month we read/are reading DESTINED by Jessie Harrell! (My pick! :D)

Isn't the cover GORGEOUS??
Here's the blurb:

When Psyche receives a prophecy gone horribly wrong, she learns that even the most beautiful girl in Greece can have a hideous future. Her fate? Fall in love with the one creature even the gods fear. 

As she feels herself slipping closer into the arms of the prophecy, Psyche must choose between the terrifyingly tender touch she feels almost powerless to resist and the one constant she's come to expect out of life: you cannot escape what is destined. 

Simply put: it's a retelling of Cupid and Psyche, one of my favorite myths of all time. Unlike most Greek myths, this one is tender and (in some cases) has a happy ending. It's a true love story, not just a god lusting after a random woman.

***Side note: 'Cupid' is the Roman name for the god. In this book, and in any other stories using the Greek terms, he is named Eros. Just FYI :) ***

I knew before I even picked up this book that I would love it, just because I love the story so much. It was fun to read it in more detail from the point of view of a very spunky Psyche (contrary to how I normally envision her). There were definitely flaws in the writing and format (which is why this book isn't making it onto Afterglow Book Reviews from me), but I was giddy throughout the entire story and read it all in one sitting.

This really is a fun story about the power of love and what love really is. There were a few deviations from the classical myth that I liked and others I wasn't crazy about (though there was one I LOVED) but overall it stayed true to the classic myth, but Jessie brought her own spirit to it.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a sweet love story that's easy to read, but definitely to those familiar with the myth or who like Greek mythology. Even if you're not super familiar with Greek mythology, Jessie does a pretty good job of explaining who the different gods and nymphs and other figures are, though the story deals mostly with Cupid (Eros) and Aphrodite.

I'd give this book three and a half out of five butterflies, but I round up :D

Have a great week, I'll be back soon, I promise!!

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