Thursday, March 31, 2011

Kriston, where have you been?

To my most faithful and loyal readers, I have not abandon you! I know there has been a few gaps lately between posts but I have to admit....spring break got the better of me. I did not go anywhere fun but I did get to spend the last week with family I do not get to see everyday. During my break, though absent from my writing, my brain still buzzed with fresh ideas.

First I will be starting a thread featuring guest authors. I have my first one lined up. It is a wonderful poem written by someone very dear to me. I know you will just love it.

I have another brilliant idea that I am still fine tuning and plan on sharing it with you next week. Please stay tuned because I will need your input for it to succeed.

For now I  leave you with a stunning addition to the Menacing and the Magical.


Also known as Mari Morgens or Sea Morgans. They are Breton water fairies or mermaids which lure sailors to join them in their underwater palaces.

One particular  Sea Morgan called Dahut was ever young and seductive. She was known for sitting in the moonlight and singing a song whose charm is irresistible. Any sailor who hears it is doomed, for if she touches him he will die, condemning the mans soul to wander eternally through the sea without comfort.

From The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Independent publishing, the new rage?

I have read that some agents and publishing houses considered self publishing the kiss of death. Now some of these same industry leaders are taking a different stance on the subject. What do we have to thank for this change of heart.....our beloved e readers.

A few authors have been making headlines recently. The most insane  Best selling author Barry Eisler just turned down a $500,000 advance to take the indy route. He and Joe Konrath talk about that decision on Barry's blog. It is a very long post but filled with tons of information and insight into publishing contracts.

On the other side of things Amanda Hocking, who has sold over 900,000 copies of her book independently (in less than a year) now has an agent and stands to get a 7 figure deal at auction with a publisher.

Here are a few fun facts:

On March 23rd at 1:30 pm I checked out the top 100 selling Kindle books on Amazon. There were 23 self published books on the list with eight of them in the top 20. Those 23 books were written by 10 different authors.

Joe Konrath said he sells about 3000 e books a day. One of those books (I don't know the name, I know this is not the best example of my "investigative reporting") was written 12 years ago and he tried to sell it to every major publishing house in New York. That book alone has sold 35,000 copies in 2 years, self published.

Now I am not blind to reality, those success stories are not common. I also read  blogs from  new authors that self publish and sell 0-100 books a month.

But times are interesting. I found that some indy authors are joining forces and starting there own publishing companies to help promote each other. Literary agents have posted that their companies are working on a digital business model so they can take on indy authors as clients. Do I think think they are worried that all authors of the world are going to by pass the publishing houses? No, I think they realized there is just a new customer base for them. Don't get me wrong, I think an indy writer would really benefit from an agents experience and the agency would probably offer a great marketing strategy.

So this is my plan. My goal is to have my book ready to pitch at the Willamette Writers conference in August. Then I will query agents for one year. If I have not found representation by then I will consider publishing it myself. As much as I want to be published through a large press, I want people to read my book more. Making a living doing what you love would be a dream come true but I want to give people a chance to fall in love with the characters I gave life to. Even if I never make a dime I will write my stories because I love to write.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Drum roll please..........

So I know you have all been waiting on the edge of you seat just dying to know what books have made my favorites list. Whats' that, I need to get back to reality you say. Okay so maybe you haven't really been dying to know but I am dying to tell you.

First I should get the most obvious out of the way and that being said.....every single Harry Potter book ever written all tie for the top spot. You could ask which one is my favorite but that could change on any given day.

Second most obvious is Twilight. I'm team Edward for the books, but team Jacob for the movies.

Now for the rest (and not in any particular order) these are books I can recommend without a doubt. They are pretty recent, main stream and most of them young adult.

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Eragon, Brisinger, and Eldest by Christopher Paolini (this one gets extra love, I love Dragons)

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clair

All the Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

Wizards First Rule by Terry Goodkind

Wings and Spells by Aprilynne Pike

The Divinci Code by Dan Brown

Everlost by Neal Shusterman

I never read a lot as a kid but the authors I did read were V.C Andrews and John Saul.

Audio books

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
         This audio was interesting because each character was read by a different person giving it an old time radio show feel.

Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Notice a pattern here. I think every one on the list is either fantasy or paranormal. I can't help it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Where have the book reviews gone?

You may have noticed that I have not written a book review for the last couple of books I posted on my reading list. There is a very good reason for that. When I was reading as a critic, I wasn't enjoying reading any more. (sticks bottom lip out to pout)

I realize there were three different ways I would approach a book.

- as reader...I jumped right in, let myself slip into whatever world the author created and enjoyed the ride.  Magic, paranormal, fantasy, and the things dreams are made of was what gave me the drive to be a writer.

- as a writer...I approach a book like home work. I study pacing, scene structure and so on. Not as fun as being a reader but I learn things.

- as a reviewer...I approached the book with a magnifying class. I was like a lion on the prowl searching for prey. I felt I owed it to my readers to give a complete and honest review. Even if it meant saying something bad. (which I hated by the way) I became critical and judgmental.

So then what happened? I zapped the fun out of reading. My life line left me dangling in the balance. (grabs tissue, dabs tears) What have I done?

As with every new endeavor, I learn from my actions. (some people call them mistakes...fine whatever) I have decided  I am not going to write a review for every book I read. I still have plenty of opinions I feel the people of the world can't live without knowing, so I am compiling a list of my favorites and my next post will be more like  recommendations, with less opinion. When I learn how to be a little more objective I will reinstate my reviews. For now I read as a reader and enjoy.

Stay tuned.....

Monday, March 14, 2011

And introducing.....Neal Shusterman

photo by Victoria Lindstrom
Last monday Neal Shusterman graced us with his presence during a visit to the Fort Vancouver Regional Library.

Neal has several young adult novel's published and has also written for television including Disney's "Pixel Perfect" and episodes of the popular children's series "Goosebumps".

Neal is the author of my latest read, "Everlost". It is a book about two young people who die in a car crash and get knocked of track while "following the light at the end of the tunnel."  Instead of moving on, their souls get caught in Everlost, an  in between world that shadows the living world with a life all of it's own. Everlost has a very unique take on the after life and brings you an original and entertaining story. It is the first book in the Skinjacker trilogy and I really enjoyed it. The final book of the trilogy "Everfound" will be released May 3rd.

Neal read the first chapter of Everlost to us. Then he told us that was all the further that story went for ten years. It sat because in his words "this book wasn't screaming to be written".  That statement really stuck out to me. It reminded me that I can't force a story. If it's not ready to be told, wait for it. It will let you know when it is.

Thank you Neal for taking the time to come and speak to your fans. It is much appreciated.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dialogue Dilemma

It is no secret that I am a novice writer. So that means I am on a never ending quest to improve my craft. I surf blogs, read books and discuss things with my critique group. So far I have compiled quite a list of things I have found helpful and thought I would start sharing them you.

As I write I am learning my strengths and weakness. (My inner critic tells me there are more weakness than strengths but I am working on making the shift to more strengths) The first dilemma I decided to tackle was dialogue. I found a great book by Gloria Kempton called "Dialogue" . It is from the "Write Great Fiction" series and is the text book for a class offered through Writers Digest. I thought, well if I can't take the class I can at least get the book. So far I have found many helpful techniques and exercises to help me find a unique voice for my character's.

This will also mark the beginning to a new "helpful hints" thread I will be adding to my blog so I may pass along things I have leaned from  professionals in the field. Today's hint will be from the above mentioned book.

The question asked: What if all my characters start talking and they all sound the same?

Know your character. Ground yourself  in all of their persona's, protagonist and antagonist alike and all minor characters no matter how unlikable. Write first person character sketches letting the characters tell you who they are. The more time you spend with them the better you get to know them. If you absolutely can't slip inside of any one of your characters, fire him and get a new one to take it's place.

This is just a small part of a whole chapter but I found that writing a character sketch made it easier for me to write that character.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Menacing and the Magical


In Catalan tradition in Spain, the Aloja are the fairies who guard the fate of human beings. They oversee the process of birth and are responsible for the provision of plenty.

The Element  Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Best Friend and Nemesis

Oh how I love television. It has seen me through good times and bad. Is always there for me, never judging. She remains faithful evermore. That is why it causes me such great pain to let her go.

It all started Thursday, February 24th, an unexpected snow day. I get a call telling me to stay home from work. YIPEE!!! A whole day to do nothing but write. I was already up and showered by 7:00 and there was nothing to stand in my way. First things first, check email. "What's that you say Direct TV, I get free Starz channels all weekend." I better go check it out. Then to my surprise a Buffy marathon, then Lord of the Rings, Surrogates, Prince of Persia...... you get the picture.

Then due to extreme weather I lose my satellite feed, not to worry, Xbox to the rescue. After an hour of Dance Central, making a tutu for a baby, (she's going to be so cute) and mastering my purl stitch (I'm one step closer to those fingerless mitts I've been dying for) it was 7:00 PM and still not one word.  AHHHHHHHHH!

"That's okay, I will make it up tomorrow." Then tomorrow came and with it a whole new set of distractions.

Some where along the line I have fallen off track. I am definitely going to struggle meeting my self imposed dead line. I participated in NaNoWriMo last November and I have to say the most valuable thing I learned was how to manage time. If you are struggling finding the time to get your word count in for the day, sit back and make a list. What seems to come up that takes you away from your writing. What is your biggest distraction?  For me it's television. If I am going to write I cannot even turn it on. Once I do it's all over. Figure out what it is for you and find a way to work around it. You have to get those words out. I recently read on one of the 5000 blogs I follow that "The worst book written is better than the best book in your head." So lets quit thinking about writing and start writing.

And to my favorite vampire boyfriend Damon Salvatore, don't worry honey, I'll be back soon. The Vampire Diaries are only one click on the DVR away.
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