Friday, March 27, 2015

Engaging Novel Interview

Engaging Novel Interview

Today I’m going to do something a little different. Instead of interviewing an author or writing about my own work, I will interview a Southern Magic author’s novel. This will work basically like a book review except it will only cover the first 16 sentences of the novel. See if you can guess what story this is, and who wrote it.

“Word has it Taylor nailed you last weekend,” Mike said between swigs of beer. “Please tell me you didn’t screw that jock douchebag.”

I might be the only seventeen-year-old in the world confused about her virginity status, but I at least knew I didn’t have sex with Brandon Taylor. I could tell by Mike’s suggestive grin under that blue Seahawks cap that he was only teasing me, but after an entire week of denials and explanations, his comment pissed me off anyway. With the way rumors flew around Ridgeview High so quickly, I might as well have had sex with Brandon.

I should probably thank my lucky stars that no one had made a video of me yet. That happened once to a girl at my school. It hadn’t been anything serious like a sex tape, but she was now forever linked on the internet to the guy she’d been talking to. I couldn’t imagine myself forever linked to someone.

Except maybe with Will.

“What the hell kind of question is that?” Will asked, sounding irritated next to me. He only used that tone when seriously peeved, and I glanced at him before looking back at Mike, whose back straightened slightly as Will glared at him with one of those unblinking, challenging stares guys do with each other.

The silence continued until even TJ turned from the television to look between them.

“Missy knows I’m joking,” Mike finally said from his cross-legged position on the floor, shrugging as he turned to the movie.

I turned to the movie, too, even though I had zero interest in what we were watching. Cable sucked. (16-sentence exert)

1.     Does it connect the reader with the protagonist? Yes. We find out her name is Missy.

2.     What is happening? Yes. She’s sitting around watching cable TV with 3 others.

3.     Is it dramatized? Yes. It’s played out before our eyes with dialogue.

4.     Does the action move the story forward? Yes. They are talking about the rumors being spread and the issues in high school associated.

5.     Does what happens have consequences? Yes. If her friends are still bugging her about the rumors being true though they aren’t, she could have an uphill battle. Plus, they are drinking beer and are underage. Questions on whether or not parents will catch them.

6.     Does the protagonist do something? Yes. Missy disputes the rumor

7.     Does the protagonist desire something? Yes. Someone she can connect with.

8.     Is the action current? Yes.

9.     Is there enough setting? Yes. We know it’s a bunch of kids watching TV drinking beer.

10. Does what happen raise a story question? Yes. Missy is confused about her virginity status. Either she is or isn’t, why is it confusing? This points to a deep plot full of emotion.

I give the start of this story a full 10 points because all questions were answered with a yes. So, what do you think? Is this a story that you’d like to read? I’m intrigued myself and want to know how it ends. Below is the Novel name and a short summary as well as the Author Bio. The author, Callie James, has offered a free Kindle version of this story to anyone who leaves a comment on this review with their email address.

Hope you enjoy my review,
Philisha Byrd Stephens

INNOCENT by Callie James
Will Moore has been Missy Jamison’s best friend for years, and until recently, she hadn’t considered going "there" with him for fear of losing the only relationship she trusts. But senior year is almost over and dating other people hasn’t worked out, not with Missy’s crazy home life constantly pushing her further into Will’s safer world, making her attraction to her BFF more difficult to ignore.

When a forgery incident at school lands Missy under house arrest and banned from spending time with Will, she’s unable to ignore her dysfunctional home life any longer. In a desperate attempt for self-preservation, Missy finds herself back with Will and this time things are different.

But the direct violation of her mother’s edict proves the perfect catalyst to push her pill-popping mother over the edge and Missy’s home life past the point of no return. Now her only chance for normalcy will require Missy to ask herself if staying silent for so many years was truly about protecting herself from her past, or more about protecting a mother who never protected her.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Giveaway and Creating Stars by Peggy Webb

Once in a blue moon, someone special inspires a story that has to be told. As I watched my Aunt Maxine’s journey with her donor heart, I knew that someday her courage and gratitude would undergo the magical transformation that allows an author to spin fact into fiction. 

Aunt Maxine became the world’s second longest living recipient of a donor heart, and she lived every day as if it were a gift. You’ll find the best parts of her in Stars to Lead Me Home.

But Stars is much more than a story about borrowed hearts. It’s about marriages that fall apart and hope that keeps us going. It’s about finding home and cherishing friends who  laugh with you, cry with you and grab the nearest shovel to start digging if you say, “Help. I’ve got a body on my hands.”

Maggie and her friends are people you know. They are the women next door you’d like to invite over for a cup of tea. They’re the women you gravitate toward at parties and take shopping and sit beside at church and share your secrets with. If you loved Driving Me Crazy you’ll love Stars to Lead Me Home. If you enjoyed Talk Before Sleep (Berg), The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood (Wells) and Steel Magnolias ( Harling), you’ll enjoy this novel!   

Early reviewers call Stars to Lead Me Home the “Must Read book of the year” and “the kind of book you can’t wait to share with your friends.”  You can save forty percent by preordering.  

Grab the book then hop over to my blog where I’m giving away a $50 bookstore gift card! All you have to do is leave a comment on any post during the month of March for a chance to win.  I’ll see you there!

Buy links for Stars to Lead Me Home:

Happy reading!


Monday, March 23, 2015

How NOT to word a sponsored Facebook ad

We all have our pet peeves when it comes to advertisement. I'm pretty easy going, so not a lot bothers me. I figure people are doing the best they can. I also know I'll have my share of missteps, despite my best intentions and efforts.

BUT, there is one thing I cannot excuse when I see a sponsored Facebook post from an author.

THIS BOOK IS HOTTER THAN <insert most recent, bestselling steamy novel>.

THIS HERO IS BETTER THAN <insert most popular hero>.

THIS BOOK IS WRITTEN BETTER THAN <insert most recent, bestselling romance>.

I've read the comments under those Facebook ads. The majority don't see it as a problem. They will tag friends to take a look at the new book. But, there are definitely readers who are willing to state that they've read both books and they are not comparable.

Some readers feel like they should defend the author or book or hero being usurped. And that is not a good path. The last thing you want to do is offend the serious fans of a beloved author. Not because it's a bad business move, but because it's BAD!

It also comes across as riding that author's coattails. If a few authors strategize to cross-sell, that is a different situation, of course. Sidenote: I would love to read a book from one author which takes place in the world of another. Like when you were a kid and Laverne and Shirley made a guest appearance on Happy Days! Or, more recently when the Flash and Arrow have crossover episodes. Exponential goodness.  I digress....

Do you have any advertising pet peeves? Feel free to share!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Reading, Creativity, and the Reality of Life

I won't lie...I totally forgot that I had to write a blog post today.

Like many writers, I have a day job. As of Monday of this week, I now have two (at least for a short period of time). I took a freelance editing job with really tight deadlines, and, while the extra money is great, the extra work (as expected) has sucked up an amazing amount of my surplus time. For the next several weeks, I don't have a life...which also means that my reading life is suffering.

Reading is so important to me. In fact, whenever someone asks me to tell them about myself, one of the first identifiers I throw out there is "READER." I hadn't thought about this until recently. I was listening to an episode of the "Reading Lives" podcast, and I heard the host ask the guest something like, "When did you start to self-identify as a reader?" It was almost shocking to hear. And then I realized that being a reader is totally part of the way I look at my identity.

And...bringing this back to the opening of my post...I think not having as much time to read right now is really making me look at the  important role reading plays in my daily life, as well as the way my creativity suffers when I don't read for pleasure.

When Sylvia Day came to our Readers' Luncheon this past year, she discussed the important role reading plays in her creative life. I am realizing the same is true for me. When I am not reading, my writing life/creative life suffers.

I realize this will be short term, but I will be so glad when I have the luxury of going back to my "routine" of having plenty of time to read, think, and create.

So what about you? What feeds your creativity? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Susan Sierra is a historical and contemporary romance writer. She loves books and old letters, adores her dog and family, and has a deep and committed love affair with coffee. She spent time as an undergraduate studying (having fun) in Mexico, went on to work for a large regional magazine as a copyeditor, and then decided that she hadn’t tortured herself enough in she went to graduate school. After many years, she walked away with a PhD and an unhealthy relationship with Charles Dickens. She hopes to complete her first full-length novel in 2015. Follow me on Twitter!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Are Contests for Non-published Manuscripts a Waste of Time?

I want to talk about unpublished contests. They were everywhere at one time, but I've seen a decline of contests and entries for the last several years. 

We know why the numbers have become smaller. Self-publishing.

Of course, anyone can be published with a mere push of a button. Doesn't everyone want a shortcut to a successful career? Hey, a few have reached that. But out of the thousands upon thousands of self-published books, ninety-plus percent are not best sellers.

Sure, there are contests out there for self-published books. But wouldn't you rather enter your unpublished manuscript into a contest and get feedback before the whole world sees it?

I believe that all unpublished (author) contests should take a long look at their rules (and some have already) and allow any author to enter.  That will help with their number of entries and increase their revenue.

Thankfully some have allowed published authors to enter as long as the manuscript is unpublished and in another category than what they're published in.  E.g., Show Me The Spark, Great Expectations.

Or just that the manuscript to be unpublished (can be same category). E.g., Tara, Hot Prospects. 

So here's my list of good things that come about entering 'unpublished' contests in case you've forgotten.

1) Where can a person receive three critiques of twenty-five pages or more, and cost only $10 per critique? 

2) If you final, your latest manuscript is placed in front of an editor or/and agent. Plenty of people out there say they don't need to write for a big five publishing house. Congratulations. Then that means your books are selling like hot cakes. But we know that's probably not true. And despite what you think, there are authors who write for their dream publishers and got there through contests. Paula Graves is one that comes to mind.  

3) And if it is a finalist and you don't get a request, that doesn't matter. It's great info for a query letter. Side note: If you final in several small contests, just mention the number of contests, not the names.  The editor might not recognize the names. But if it is a big one (Molly, Maggies, Golden Heart), then certainly mention the name.

4) If nothing more, sometimes it's nice to have an ego boost when your entry is a finalist and one of the judges tell you they can't wait until it's published.

So the answer is NO. It isn't a waste of time.

Former Contest Diva
Carla Swafford
Look for me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, & Google+
Time Magazine, [Circle of Danger] ". . . involves deadly assassins, drug lords and doing it."