Thursday, February 28, 2013

March 2013 Releases

Ah, such great books releasing this month! Here is a list of the books I am excited about this month.

Requiem (Delirium #3) by Lauren Oliver (3/5/13) 

Why -> OMG! If you have not yet read this trilogy you NEED to. I cannot wait to see what happens in this final book. I am so excited that I put my name on the request list through my library back in January when they first listed it. I checked my library's site regularly until I they listed it. That is how good this trilogy is.

Unremembered by Jessica Brody (3/5/13) 

Why -> A plane crash with only one survivor. A survivor not listed on the flight manifest, with no memories of boarding the plane, or any memories prior to being found. Adding to the mystery her DNA and fingerprints do not match any on file in any country, at all. And what about this mysterious boy who claims to have known her before the crash and says they were in love? Can she trust him? Seriously I'm so excited for this book to come out!

Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger (3/5/13)

Why -> Oh my, this looks so amazing. Combine a tornado, a guardian sylph, a mystery about two murdered families, warriors out to destroy them, and a forbidden romance. I read Messenger's MG debut, Keeper of the Lost Cities, while in the dark after Hurricane Sandy, and WOW. She really has a great imagination and a wonderful voice. I can't wait to see what she has in store with this one.

Spellcaster by Claudia Gray (3/5/13) 

Why -> Witchcraft, a family curse, dreams about the future, and the threat to their lives. This one looks super delicious. Especially since I love the witchcraft theme.

The Prince (The Selection #0.5) by Kiera Cass (3/5/13)

Why -> I fell in love with the first book in this series a couple months ago and I really like Prince Maxon. I can't wait to read about him in this short story! I am definitely curious about this girl that came before America.

Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3) by Cassandra Clare (3/19/13) 

Why -> While I have not yet read the first two books in this trilogy there is one thing I have learned about Clare's writing. She leaves you turning the pages wondering where the next book is! There was no way I was about to read the first two books in this trilogy without them all being available to read back to back. I am so excited to read them and see what everyone else has been talking about. Yay!

Lover at Last (Black Dagger Brotherhood #11) by J.R. Ward (3/26/13) 

Why -> This is seriously a guilty pleasure for me. I don't read many adult books, let alone ones with this much adult content, but I cannot pass this series up. I love the relationships and the characters Ward has created with this series. I am curious to see what happens in this newest installment and to see if she is in fact headed in the direction with newer characters that I hope she is. I can't wait to read more about these new characters and see how they find their happy ever after.

What books are you excited about? Did I leave any great books off this list?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Toni De Palma Interview

Today I would like to welcome fellow Writers By The Shore blogger and author Toni De Palma!

1.    Most current YA books on the shelves written by women are from the female POV. What prompted you to write from the male POV?

Im surrounded by guys my husband, son, even my dog, Chester. Ive always been comfortable around men and there uhmsimple way of viewing the world is refreshing. What I mean by simple is that, unless theyre talking about sports, they dont usually sweat the small stuff.

2.    You have two other books out, Jeremy Owl (from a male POV) and Under the Banyan Tree (from a female POV). Do you find writing from either perspective more difficult than the other?

My books always start with an interesting character so whether the character is male or female doesnt matter. Of course men and women have different sensibilities and, as a writer, this is fun to explore.

3.    Cooper is a very complex character torn between doing what he wants and what Lucy wants and he has a tendency to rebel. Was he just as difficult to work with as he is in the book?

LOL. Not at all. His rebellious nature is what attracts me to him and what makes him interesting. Its also an aspect of my own nature that I recognize and that I get to play out on paper.

4.    While writing one of my manuscripts I found I liked a side character more than either of the two main characters. To this day she intrigues me. Who was your favorite character when writing The Devil's Triangle?

Other than Cooper, I LOVE Lucy, the Devils sister. She is brazen, vain, manipulative, sassy. I wouldnt mind being her for a day.

5.    While The Devil's Triangle is paranormal you also write contemporary, Under the Banyan Tree. Which do you prefer writing, paranormal or contemporary?

I like both and go back and forth. I recently finished up the second book in the Devil series, The Devil’s Temptation. Right now I’m slogging through the first draft of a contemporary middle grade.

6.    Sort of a redundant question after the last answer, but still I have to ask. Are there any plans for a sequel?

Yep, The Devils Temptation is book two.

7.    While we wait for The Devil's Temptation to release, and just for fun, what would be the top 3 items on Cooper's and Grace's bucket lists?

Grace wants a new wardrobe, to go to prom and a vacation (something shell get in the next book). Cooper wants Grace (of course), a motorcycle and, if Grace doesnt punch his lights out, a peek under Lucys skirt (LOL).

Connect with Toni:  Goodreads - Website - Blog - Twitter - Facebook   
Read The Devil's Triangle : Amazon - Barnes & Noble 

I'd like to thank Toni De Palma and her publicist, Christine Attardo, for providing me with an ARC of The Devil's Triangle and allowing me to join in on the blog tour.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Reasearching Agents

As I have mentioned lately I am in the query process. One of the first things I did before sending out any query letters was research agents. I set up a profile on QueryTracker a while ago. This site is amazing. I have used this site to find online critique partners and create a list of agents I wanted to query.

I found most of the agents on my list through books I have read and enjoyed. I simply read the acknowledgements pages, most authors will thank their agent, and I made a nice long list of those agents. Other ways I found agents was through Twitter. I have noticed that when writers get an agent one of the first things they do is make a mention of who reps them in their Twitter profile. Another way I used Twitter was by following agents from my original list. Lots of times they will mention other agents they know in the business. I also get regular emails from Guide to Literary Agents.

After making this list I sat down and looked at their websites and blogs. This to me was important. I wanted to know what they were looking for and if they might really be a good agent for me or not. I also follow a lot of these agent's blogs, including ones I know I will never query but enjoy their advice.

The other week I read several tweets from Mandy Hubbard, about new agencies with almost no experience. I never really thought about this before. I mean I have noticed agencies pop up, but usually they are created by agents with years of experience in the field.

Then a couple days later while going through blog posts I had missed I stumbled upon a blog post that led me to this post by Sara LaPolla about new agents. She mentions that most new agents start out at the bottom as interns and work their way up through the position of assistant before becoming new agents.

As writers I think when researching agents we need to ask ourselves several questions before we query. We need to decide what is best for us. Therefore, we need to do our research thoroughly and know what we want before we make that leap of faith.

We need to decide what type of deal we want. If you are only looking to go through a small publishing house, then maybe one of these new agents is right for you. But at the same time, most small publishing houses accommodate unagented writers. I sent my query out to several small publishers. I knew I did not need an agent for that, so I did it on my own. And I went with publishers who I felt fit the bill of this particular project. I did lots of research on these publishers just as I have with the agents.

Likewise, I have a couple other projects that I would love to send out to agents once they are completed. I think different projects require different approaches. I also have hopes of eventually having a book deal with a large publisher. That requires an agent with either experience with the big guys or the backing of an agency with that experience.

I have also been really interested in new agents, ones within the established agencies. My theory is, they are out to prove themselves and they might just have a smaller slushpile to get through. Plus, they have the agency helping them to prove themselves and make those important connections within the publishing community. I have read posts from established agents who go through hundreds of slushpile queries weekly. *insert fainting here* I cannot imagine having that inbox. 

What are your thoughts on these new agencies and agents? What are your requirements for a literary agent/publisher?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Adding Tension

The other day as I sat down to review a chapter of Barely There I was focusing on the tension in the scene. I tried to figure out where I could add tension, external or internal. I started wondering about what the best ways to add tension were. I created my own list of questions to ask myself, based on various manuscripts I have in the works. I thought it would be good to have a universal list I can pick through for each chapter in any work. Here is what I came up with.

Could a character be at odds with my protag? What is this opposition? Why?
Could a character come between the protag and his/her goal? Is it intentional or unintentional?
Could a character try to help the progag, but actual end up doing more harm than good?
Could a character disagree with a decision the protag makes? Why? What could the outcome of this disagreement be?
Could a character be keeping a huge secret that turns out to be important to the protags choices? Why is this other person keeping this secret? What effects does it have on the decisions the protag makes?
Could the weather come between the protag and his/her goal?
Could the weather contribute to a disaster forcing the protag to make a tough decision?
Could the weather cause the protag discomfort? (Rainy weather make an old injury hurt/stiff?)
Could the location make it difficult for the protag to meet his/her goal?
Could the protag have to make a trip that is riddled with disasters along the way? 
Is the setting familiar or new to the protag?

Could the protag face a moral dilemma? What are the possible outcomes? What are the consequences?
Could the protag face sacrificing part of himself/herself to meet his/her goal?
Could the protag be foreced to do something bad to get a positive outcome?
Could the protag be forced to make a difficult decision in saving one person, but letting another suffer?
Could the protag be forced to change his/her thinking to reach a goal?
Could the protag's beliefs / understanding of the world be challenged?

Do you have any other questions to add to this list?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Writing Rewards

When I finished my final read through of Midnight Raynne my son and I made brownie-cookies. Not really a huge reward, but it was fun and not on my diet. Now I have set a new goal to finish Barely There by the end of March. I thought I would try and figure out a reward for this accomplishment.

But what do I want?

Reading? I read books all the time, so rewarding myself with reading is not exactly a reward.

Buy a book? I buy them all the time. Seriously, I have a book buying obsession. So, it is not as though that will be much of a reward. You should see my shelves!

Dinner? My hubby and I really do not go out often. Between actually finding a sitter for the toddler and then actually having the extra cash in the budget this is a difficult reward to cash in on.

TV? I do not watch a lot of TV. Not unless it is the Big Bang Theory, Castle, or a really good movie that I have heard is really good from many sources. I cannot sit still that long. Really, even watching Castle (one hour) is difficult for me. I need to be doing something.

Then I thought I would see what you use as rewards! I need ideas! lol 

So, how do you reward yourself for meeting your writing goals?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday #9

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we're excited about.

It's been a while since I did a WoW post, but I couldn't resist posting this book, since it's release date is in TWO days! And, I know this is for books we're waiting on, but I got a sneak peek at it and had to share! 
The Devil's Triange by Toni De Palma
When 17 year old Cooper dies in an attempt to burn down his school, he finds himself in the afterlife. Lucy, the Devil's sister who has crossed party lines, decides to give Cooper another shot at heaven. The deal? Cooper returns to Earth and has to find a girl named Grace. The rest is up to him.

While Cooper figures out his mission, he's thrown into the life he's always wanted. Great parents, a spot on the Varsity football team and a real future are all within reach. But what he really wants is Grace, a feisty girl with an abusive boyfriend who can pound Cooper into pulp if he doesn't watch out.

While Lucy plays demonic-puppeteer, clues to an unknown past between Cooper and Grace start to unravel. Cooper discovers that what's keeping him and Grace apart is far more sinister than anything this bad boy could have ever imagined.
I really enjoyed Cooper in this book. I loved following him through his mission. I especially loved the interactions between Cooper an Grace. I want to say so much more, but everything I keep typing gives something away. And I don't want to give anything away. Instead you really need to read it for yourself! :-) 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Google Reader - Pros and Cons

I am a Google Reader fanatic. I love it. I read all blog posts through it. It makes it easy to know what I have or have not read. I can organize the different types of blogs I follow into folders, which significantly makes reading blogs more manageable. The best part is that I can subscribe to blogs that are not on Blogger, like Wordpress blogs. Although, I am pretty sure using the reader is messing with things. Here is why.

I follow blogs, but through the reader. This means that I am not on the follower lists on the actual blogs. I dislike this very much. As a result I have decided to go back through all the blogs I have been following for some time now and "follow" them through Google Friend Connect. Seriously time consuming, but I want other bloggers out there to know that I do follow them, even if I do not comment regularly.

Since I read the posts through the reader I am not sure if it shows on the stats for each blog that I have indeed viewed that particular post. The fact that I have viewed the page through a reader does not necessarily mean I have viewed the actual page. I want my views to count. Yet, the reader is the easiest way for me to keep track of what I have or have not read.

I will continue to use Google Reader, but I also want to make sure that I visit more blogs and leave comments to help out the stats for these fellow bloggers. Of course, that means that I have to actually comment. I am so bad in that department. So I do not begrudge anyone who reads my posts and does not comment. I am so guilty of that myself. lol

How do you read blog posts? What are your thoughts on using readers like Google Reader? 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Social Networking Pet Peeves

I apologize in advance if this sounds a little ranty, but I thought I would mention some hang ups I have about Twitter and Goodreads. As authors we are always trying to figure out ways to get readers to read our books. We have to walk a fine line on social media etiquette. The following are the ways which usually make me not read a book.

  • The follow, follow back, then unfollow people: Ugh, that is so annoying. Someone follows you, you follow them back, and then they unfollow you within a day or two. Of course, they always seem to have more followers than they actually follow. Why? Because they got you to follow them, and then they unfollowed you, making their ratio look good. Not cool, people, not cool. I see other Tweeters making comments about this occasionally. I'm pretty sure the consensus is that this is not favorable. I try to pay attention to this, but it's not easy.  
  • The follow-me-everywhere DM: You follow someone on Twitter and then comes the annoying follow-me-everywhere-DM. You know the one I'm talking about. The "Thanks for following me. Check out my Facebook page, blog, etc. (with links)" Yeah, kind of a turn off for me. If I'm interested enough I'll check it out on my own, please don't shove it in my face. I follow a million blogs already. Okay, maybe not a million, but more than I can keep track of. 
  • The read-my-book-tweet-after-tweet feed: This is a turn off. I'm really interested in making connections on Twitter, therefore I tend to read the tweets a person sends out before following them. Even if they have followed me first. I do this only because I already follow more people than I can possibly manage. I use Tweetdeck and Hootsuite with lists, but still it gets overwhelming. If the only thing in an authors feed are tweets about reading their own book, forget it. What is the point in following them? They aren't there for the connections, only to get readers. And besides, I already know what every one of their tweets will say.

  • "Friend Collectors": My sister has this nickname for people on Facebook that have over 500 friends. And I have applied it to those on Goodreads who have ZERO books on their shelves, but over 100 friends. What is the point? Seriously? I saw this just the other day. A bunch of my Goodreads "friends" had all become friends to the same person. So curiously I clicked. This person did not have a single book on their shelves and almost 200 friends. I'm confused. I thought sharing book reviews is the whole point of Goodreads. 
  • Trolling for Readers: I don't really have a problem with authors trolling for "friends" on Goodreads as a way to get more readers. Whatever, I've heard of authors that do it, know one or two myself. That's fine. What bothers me is when they don't compare the books. I got one friend request from an author of true-crime fiction. Not one single book was similar on our shelves. That's right. Not one. Why friend request me? I'm obviously not his target audience. Why waste the few friend requests you can send out in one day on me? This does not make any sense to me at all. It's all about targeting potential readers. The couple authors I know of that do this both have said they pay attention to what books are on peoples shelves before sending a friend request. Seriously, if you and I have similar tastes, please friend me. I want to know what you think of these books and see what you're reading that I might not have heard of.
  • Read MY book NOW: Yup, I've made the mistake of "friending" authors on Goodreads only to have them constantly invite me to an event to read their book. I actually had one author do this around Christmas time a few years back. I was so busy and I knew I did not have the time even to read anything on my to-read list, let alone add a new book that didn't really interest me. I declined the invitation. The next day I had a new invitation in my inbox. I declined again only to receive a new invite hours later. Seriously? I unfriended that author immediately. Don't badger the reader. 
  • What-the-heck-is-this-invite-about?: Lately I have had people send me invites to events on Goodreads. People I'm not friends with. And the best part, not even for books in any genre on my shelves. Need I say it again? Taking time to target your audience better, might save you time in the end. Don't get me wrong, I totally love getting invites for things that are from my "friends" on Goodreads, as well as from people I don't know as long as the book in question is on my to-read shelf. Totally legit and more than welcome. But I'm noticing more and more people are not paying attention to their target audience. No offense, but I'm just not that big on true-crime or erotica. That's just me, though! lol 
Tell me what some of your social networking pet peeves are. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My New Favorite App

Since I am getting back to normal without having insane headaches every day I have begun a final read through of Midnight Raynne. At first I sent the manuscript to my Kindle, started reading, and took notes of minor mistakes to change. Not the easiest thing to do. 

Then I had an a-ha moment. My parents gave me an iPad mini for Christmas. Not only do I love it, but my three-year-old thinks it is also his. One of the things my dad mentioned when I began loading it up with apps was that there was a great app to view and work with word files on. So, I got the app and it sat on my iPad, unused. That is until I remembered that it was there and I could use it to fix these little mistakes on my manuscript.

So, I uploaded my manuscript to Dropbox, then from there to the app, called Pages. From there I was able to open the manuscript and make changes as I find them, no need to make notes or having to go back over the manuscript with those notes again. When I finish for the session I send a copy of it to my email. I haven't figured out how to move it back to Dropbox yet. Even so, I have found this to be the BEST app yet for my writing.

So if I'm going to recommend an app, it's Pages. Check it out!

Your Turn -> Do you have any favorite apps for writing? I'd love to learn about other products.