New Book Trailer from Sherrilyn Kenyon

May 28, 2010 at 5:34 am (Feature, New Release) (, , , , , , , , , , )

While I seem to be stuck on vampires I was emailed this trailer about Sherrilyn Kenyon’s new young adult series “Chronicles of Nick” and I’m happy to share this video with you all because it looks kind of amazing (as did Sherrilyn’s last trailer).

And isn’t the cover really something? Sorry – I have this thing about lighting effects on covers and this one is kind of incredible. What do you think?

Oh and before you get dazzled watching the trailer below, if you have a book coming out or already released that you like for me to feature, please just send me the details.  I’ve been reading a few blogs recently where people have been announcing good news with their writing.

Have fun watching.

In addition to the very cool trailer you can click here to read more about the book.

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Vampire Fiction – Again

May 25, 2010 at 6:37 am (Feature, fiction) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I’ve been reading a little bit lately.  actually I’ve read more books this last week than I had the entire month previous so I should probably amend that statement. Most recently I’ve been reading YA lit, mostly because I’ve been trying to evaluate texts for use in  the classroom.  This means I’ve been reading a wide range of genres and styles and there are some really strange books out there (also some brilliant ones).

One book that I originally cringed at the thought of reading was Tamara Summers “Never Bite a Boy on the First Date”.  I immediately assumed it would be a bad retelling of Twilight and I’d spend a week reading a single page at a time before finally deciding I just couldn’t read anymore. Yet the cover kind of intrigued me.

Despite my trepidation, I bought this book.  Why? Because I read the first page. Not the prologue but the first page of chapter one. And I nearly fell over laughing while standing in the book store. Not because it was bad, but because it was really quite amusing and the narrator used understatement so well I just couldn’t help but laugh. Once I recovered from my fit of giggles, I read a few more pages and then I bought the book.

It is a very modern vampire story. The narrator is a sixteen year old, newly made vampire, with an interesting personality that is well expressed in her green hair, multiple-piercings and her general ability to forget about the murdered corpse lying on the steps of the school when distracted by a guy with a cute smile.

There were definitely moments where the narration intruded on the story and they were my least favourite moments. Sometimes you just want her to get on with the story and to stop being so delighted with her own cleverness but other times it works really well.

My favourite line: “But he seemed so… non-murdery He was all ice cream and puppies and sexy-swimmer’s arms.”

I’m still on the fence about whether I love this book or not because I know there were definite moments where I really was annoyed at the story but I’ve finished it with a smile on my face. I guess it goes to show you won’t know what lies inside a book until you try it.

Have you ever had a book that has turned out to be surprisingly good?

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5 Reasons for Reading Outside of Your Genre

May 24, 2010 at 6:41 am (Genre, Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , , , , , )

It is advice that you hear all the time.  Writers should read widely.  They should read outside of their preferred genre.  Some people even go so far as to give you a specific list of books you must read (I always worry when someone tells me I must read something – it usually leads to me spending many weeks turning one page at a time and finding multiple other things to do).

I do however think it is good advice to read anything and everything you have the time to read – even things you know you are going to hate before you begin them. Here are my 5 reasons why:

1.  It is less likely you will end up emulating one particular author or group or authors if you have read widely. Having seen language used so many different ways it is unlikely you will latch onto any one person’s style and so you have more chance to find your own voice.

2.  Very few books fall into only one genre. Most have elements of many genres mixed together. Fantasy for instance usually has adventure, mystery, coming of age, romance, drama, horror and a range of other genres interlaced.  It helps to have read a wide range of genres so that you can develop these ideas within your own genre.

3.  Sometimes you discover something amazing. As I said, I usually worry when someone gives me a book and tells me I have to read it. I tend to have images of high school going through my brain and trying to read the class novel and not fall asleep and then remember enough of the story to write about it afterward. But sometimes, you discover a real gem. Something that just works for you.

4.  Even reading something you don’t like can improve your writing. If you critically analyse what it is you don’t like about what you are reading it will make you more critical of your own writing and how the reader will receive it.

5.  Particularly if you are write what you know kind of author, more experiences are better. Reading outside your genre, you never know what you might learn.

What do you think? Do you read outside your genre or do you stick with what you know?

Also, what is the worst book you’ve ever had to read because someone has requested you read it?

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Useful Writing Links

May 23, 2010 at 6:39 am (Death's Daughter, Weekly Review) (, , , , , , , , )

Useful, or maybe just interesting. I’ve been finding some great blogs recently and really want to share all of them but have limited myself to those that I think will be most helpful.

I think anyone thinking about self-publishing should check out Stephen Tremp’s blog, Breakthrough Blogs.  He’s been keeping us up to date on his publishing journey and the steps it ahs taken.  You may need to go through a few posts but there is some excellent information to be found.

Margot Kinberg on Confessions of a Mystery Novelist has an interesting post discussing development of characters and the changes they make with age. Some of her examples are quite interesting and the discussion that follows was well worth the read.

Martin Edwards on Do You Write Under Your Own Name discusses the authenticity and whether it is always necessary. Some interesting points made here.

The blog Plot to Punctuation has a great post, Seven Ways to Show Character Growth.  Fantastic ideas to explore.

From JannaTWrites Blog, Writer’s are Like Superman.  Gave me a smile.

Cheryl Angst discusses the Top 3 Things she focuses on while writing.

Always a Writer asks you what you promise the reader. This one got me thinking.

Then, just because it is my blog, I’m throwing in a link to the excerpt from Death’s Daughter.

As usual, if you have a link you think will be helpful, please add it in your comment but try to make sure it is writing related and not spam.  Wishing everyone the best.

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What’s Your Point of View?

May 18, 2010 at 6:52 am (Character, Death's Daughter, Thoughts on Writing, Voice) (, , , , , , , , , )

After finishing Death’s Daughter I wrote a post over on my old blog about the difficulties of writing in first person.  I made the decision at the time that I wouldn’t be using first person for the next few projects because I found it limiting in that I could only tell the story from one person’s point of view and if that person didn’t know something critical than the reader couldn’t be told that critical bit of information.

I’ve since written two complete works in third person.  One is a train wreck that I will eventually edit and rewrite and work into something usable.  I blame the protagonist, she stepped outside the action one too many times and was out-shone by the entire rest of the cast. Shame really because the concept and the world work really well and the use of third person allowed for such a broad exploration (which might be how my protagonist got lost).

The other was a less ambitious piece as it was aimed at young adults and follows the narrator essentially sits on the shoulder of the main character for most of the story with a few minor deviations. This piece has been polished, to a point, but I’m not sure what to do with at the moment. It should be the start of a series but I’m not really ready to write the next installment and I don’t know that I will be any time soon, so it is cooling its heels while I think it through.

Now I’m starting a third project and it is also in third person. I think it is time to reflect on my choice.

I still love first person. I love being inside a character’s head and feeling what they feel, learning as they learn. As a reader I enjoy it and as a writer I find it immensely satisfying. For character development.

As far as constructing a plot, I find third person much easier to work with and it provides me with more opportunities and avenues to persue. And you can still construct very interesting characters and show their feelings and reactions, though at a slight distance.

I like both. I think I might try my next project in first person again because it has been awhile but I really am enjoying writing in third person as well.

What point of view do you use?

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5 Things Your Protagonist Probably Shouldn’t Do

May 17, 2010 at 5:50 am (Character, Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Unless, of course, there is a valid reason.

Under most circumstances these are 5 things that protagonists shouldn’t be getting up to.

1.  Waiting for another character to solve all of the problems and hand them a nice tidy package.  I’m not pointing fingers at any single, scarred, boy wizard for this one (in one of his later books), but protagonists should be actively involved in trying to work through the conflicts, not passively sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone to tag them and say that it is now time for them to get involved.

2.  Getting over things. This one is something I’ve found in quite a few stories that I’ve started reading and then abandoned. Midway through a major conflict the character just get’s over it and decides that something is no longer important.  If your protagonist gives up caring about a problem, odds are the reader is going to as well.

3.  Getting side tracked and never returning to the original complication. Yes, side plots are great but if your protagonist gets tangled up in a side plot to the point where the original problem is left dangling and never resolved then this is going to bother your reader.

4.  Have a personality transplant midstory.  There is a difference between developing a character and throwing out a character midway through the plot and suddenly having a doppelgänger with the same name but no other resemblance to the original character running around.

5.  Drop dead in the second act. By all means, kill your protagonist off if the story calls for it, but if we’ve been following this character so far and now they are dead and there is still almost a third of the story to go, as reader’s we are going to feel resentful.

What do you think?  Is there any thing your protagonist should just not do?

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How did Calandra get her name?

May 15, 2010 at 7:29 am (Character, Death's Daughter, fantasy) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Okay, it was brought to my attention prior to publishing Death’s Daughter that Cassandra (my name) and Calandra (my protagonist’s name) are kind of similar.  There are two things I have in common with my protagonist. One – we both like boots. I have a serious liking for wearing boots and my protagonist is equally obsessed.  Two – our names start with the letter C and have a similar number of syllables.

Possibly people who know me will point out a few other similarities but as far as I’m concerned, those two points are it.  I love Calandra as a character, particularly as she grows throughout the story, but I don’t know that I would ever want to be compared to being too much like her.

So, how did Calandra Delaine end up with such a name?

I remember reading a book as a child where one of the characters were called Callie. I always thought it was a great name. When I started writing the story I decided I’d like for another character in the story to call the protagonist Callie in an affectionate way and then I had to find a full name that could conceivably be shortened to Callie (It seemed like a good idea at the time). I pulled out a dictionary of names and narrowed it down fairly quickly.  Here are some of the easily rejected names:

  • Calanthe
  • Calliope
  • Callista

As you can see, not a lot of choice. Besides, I read the name Calandra and I just knew. I had found the name my character needed. If I ever had second thoughts about it, Calandra would be sure to point out to me that she knows her own name and that she would not stand for me arbitrarily changing it on her.

cover art

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Rules for Writing Fiction

May 13, 2010 at 7:25 am (Planning, Structure, Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , , )

I visited a blog called the Life and Laughs of me the other day and came across a post entitled, Rules for Writing Fiction.  It is well worth a read if for nothing else than to get you thinking about whether you have any rules you follow consistently when writing fiction.

Personally, I disagreed with rule 8 on this list.

8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

Personally I like being kept in suspense as a reader, as long as the revelation is worth the wait.

That said, number 6 – be a sadist – is an excellent rule.  Just because you feel connected to your protagonist and have spent so much time on them doesn’t mean you shouldn’t heap ruin and pain upon them. It makes for a far more interesting story.

So what are your rules for writing fiction?

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Response to Writing Blind

May 11, 2010 at 7:39 am (Planning, Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I ran across a post by Kyle on his blog “Exercise in Futility” called Writing Blind and really started thinking.  Kyle asks:

How much should I know about my story before sitting down to start on a draft?  Should I have the entire plot mapped out, with all the main plot points, or should I just go with it, and write whatever comes to mind?

And really, we all ask that question from time to time. We get an idea, get really excited and maybe want to leap straight into writing, and some people have to start writing straight away or they lose that spark, that fire, whatever it is that drives them to write the idea down. Others know from experience that they have to have at least an outline, while others still won’t consider drafting without detailed chapter by chapter break downs and six hundred colour coded notes on each character.

I’ve come to understand my own writing pattern fairly well and ever I still wonder whether I could do it better. I don’t plan too much. Mostly because I don’t look at any of my notes once I start writing the first draft. I just don’t. I close my eyes and type and when I feel my fingers slowing I read what I’ve written and sometimes start writing again and sometimes read blogs or tweets or go watch television or do some other work until I feel ready to write again.

However I never start a draft without having written out an outline and character profiles and concept maps. I have a notebook with all of these things in it. I just don’t use them once I’m writing.

My theory is it is a safety net. It’s like when I used to play the clarinet. I would practise a piece over and over again. I could play it perfectly. It could play it without ever actually looking at the music and I knew this because half the time I would forget to turn the page of the music. However, if someone took the music away I suddenly would freeze and wouldn’t be able to tell you what the first note was. The music was my safety net. I didn’t need it, but it made me feel like I knew what I was doing and so I was fine.

My note book with my plans is my safety net. If I get really, really stuck on something and I desperately want to finish it (though usually when I’m that stuck it is because what I’m working on is rubbish) I can go back and see where I was meant to be going and where I’ve gone wrong. That and I usually remember most of what I’ve written down in the book anyway and so I’m following the plan and just adding bits to it and tweaking it as I go.

And that works for me.

The advice I read many time, given to me by many of the bloggers out there, when I first started trying to write for something more than my own enjoyment was that every writer has to find what works for them. Read what others do and then try some of the different suggestions but don’t feel like there is some ‘right’ way to accomplish the task.

Incidentally, I would love to hear what is working for other people at the moment because I’m always looking for new ideas.

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100+ Reading Challenge

May 7, 2010 at 6:25 am (100+ Reading, fiction) (, , , , , )

Just an update on how I am going .  I started the year so well.  In January I read 8 books.  That was great.  Since then I’ve read 11.  19 books.  A little off my target of 40 by the end of April.  Admittedly, I’ve been really distracted this year so far and things are only just settling down.  But at least I’m reading again, and for the most part I’m reading books I’ve never read.

Okay, I reread 100 Years of Solitude but I hadn’t read it in nearly three years so it was kind of like reading it for the first time.

I did, however find a delightful YA novel by Scott Westerfeld called “Specials”.  It is the third book in a series but there is enough backstory interspersed throughout to fill you in and it isn’t done in an info dump that just annoys people who have actually read the previous two books so that doesn’t really bother it.

I really enjoyed reading it and it reminded me how much fun reading could be.  There is depth to the story if you want to look at the bigger issues but you can also just glance over them and enjoy the story.  At times you may want to ditch Tally, the protagonist, in favour of one of the more interesting characters but for the most part the story works well at keeping you drawn in.

I may not succeed at the 100+ target but I am enjoying the journey.  Hope everyone else who took on this challenge is enjoying it as well.

By the way, I’ve had First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde sitting on my desk for nearly two days and I still don’t know whether I want to read it or not.  Has anyone read it before?

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