Wednesday, November 15, 2017

YA Book Pick: The Siren

Once a month, we choose an outstanding YA book to review.  We want to spotlight books of interest to aspiring writers, as well as highlight some of our favorite books and authors.

This month's book pick is The Siren by Kiera Cass.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

You must never do anything that might expose our secret.  This means that, in general, you cannot form close bonds with humans.  You can speak to us, and you can always commune with the Ocean, but you are deadly to humans.  You are, essentially, a weapon.  A very beautiful weapon.  I won't line to you, it can be a lonely existence, bt once you are done, you get to live.  All have to give, for now, is obediance and time..."

The same speech has been given hundreds of time to hundred of beautiful girls who enter the sisterhood of the Sirens.  Kahlen has lived by these rules for years now, patiently waiting for the life she can call her own.  But when Akinli, a human, enters her world, she can't bring herself to live the rules anymore. Suddenly the life she's been waiting for doesn't seem nearly as important as the one she's living now.

First line:     It's funny what you hold on to, the things your remember when everything ends.

Highlights:    Interesting premise and characters.  The relationship between the Ocean and Kahlen is intriguing. The story has great beginning and good ending. 

Good read for:  Those interested in mermaid tales, those wanting light romance, and those self publishing. 


Monday, October 30, 2017

Parties with Book Themes

Halloween is right around the corner and so I thought it would be fun to have a Book themed party.  I decorated my yard to look like a gingerbread house and I have a witch and Hansel in a cage.  In addition, I made the book theme even more extreme by decorating my house and backyard with other book characters and made a scavenger hunt with which to challenge the guests.  This is just another way to support not only a love for books, but also local authors by incorporating their tales into the decorating. Plus, it is just a fun way to take a break from writing and enjoy life right?!  Happy Writing and remember to keep it real!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Author Success Story: Tristina Wright shares her path to publication for 27 HOURS + a giveaway!

I'm excited to welcome Tristina Wright to share her inspiring path to pub success story for her debut novel 27 Hours, out now from Entangled Teen.  Make sure to scroll to the bottom of the post for a chance to win a 27 Hours prize back!



In 2005, a character started nagging at me. He was stubborn and wouldn’t take no for an answer no matter how much I tried to ignore him. After a few years of pushing him to one side in favor of day jobs and making ends meet, I started jotting down scenes and forming the first of what would be many, many drafts with this character named Rumor.

Between 2009 and 2011, I wrote probably four or five different books with Rumor and various characters, trying to find the right story for him. I thought I had it a few times, circling closer and closer each time until I hit on a dystopian concept that relied heavily on the gargoyle mythology toward the early of 2011. I polished it and began querying middle of 2011, I think?

Querying took forever. It feels like forever. The best advice I would give for querying writers is to find the writing community and dive in. Find other writers who are at the same stage as you are so you have commiserating buddies. No one else truly gets it like someone else who’s there. You can swap querying tips. Y’all can talk agents together. Y’all can swap queries and pages for feedback. I met some of my earliest critique partners when I was querying—people I still talk to and write with today.

Also, while you’re querying, work on something else. I wrote a steampunk star-crossed romance based on Eros and Psyche. Took me about a year. When it was polished and ready to query, I let the final queries on Rumor’s book run out (meaning I didn’t send out any new ones when I got rejections).

In 2012, I received an offer of rep from an agent on my steampunk romance. While that romance went on submission with editors, I pulled Rumor back out and worked on him with my agent and my critique partners. I still felt a pull toward this story and a need to tell it.

Needless to say, the romance didn’t make it very far, and we went back out with Rumor & Co. for the first round of submission in early 2014. It got close. Really close. After a very long talk, I decided to revise it, which is when I decided to put it in space. It took me not quite a year to revise it to that effect and we went back out on submission with it in late 2015.

While I was working on it, however, I would keep myself sane by tweeting lines and such on Twitter. And to make it easier to search later, I kept track of them by using the same hashtag. That’s where #queerteensinspace came from. My now-editor Kate Brauning saw the hashtag and contacted my agent and basically said, “When she’s done with that, I want to read it.”

So, she did. And then she offered. And the rest is, as they say, history.

The biggest piece of advice I’d give to writers is: Don’t call yourself aspiring. If you write, you’re a writer. There are those who will try to tell you that you don’t qualify unless… They’ll try to apply qualifications or checklists. You have to meet all these requirements. And that’s silly. Do you write? Yes? Then you’re a writer. End of discussion. You’re not aspiring. You’re a writer.

About 24 Hours:
27 Hours by Tristina Wright
Publication Date:  October 3, 2017
Publisher:  Entangled Teen

Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.

But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.

Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother's shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon's darkest secret.

They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.

During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.

27 Hours is a sweeping, thrilling story featuring a stellar cast of queer teenagers battling to save their homes and possibly every human on Sahara as the clock ticks down to zero.



About Tristina Wright

Tristina Wright is a blue-haired bisexual with anxiety and opinions. She’s also possibly a mermaid,
but no one can get confirmation. She fell in love with science fiction and fantasy at a young age and frequently got caught writing in class instead of paying attention. She enjoys worlds with monsters and kissing and monsters kissing. She married a nerd who can build computers and make the sun shine with his smile. Most days, she can be found drinking coffee from her favorite chipped mug and making up more stories for her wombfruit, who keep life exciting and unpredictable.


Giveaway Details:
A 27 Hours Prize Pack, including:
* A 27 Hours Candle
* A set of 27 Hours Character Cards
* AND a copy of an October release *
*Open internationally wherever The Book Depository ships

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

National Novel Writing Month - November- is right around the corner

Ah fall, time for football, homecoming mums, colorful leaves, pumpkin, and hours and hours of writing.


October is finally here and just around the corner is November which means NaNo time.  Writing 50,000 words in one month may seem overwhelming but here's a few tips that might help.







1.  You can start now by planning.
      You can develop ideas, characters, story arcs, outline, plan     
       chapters, etc.
       NaNo Prep has some more tips on their website to help with this. 

2.  Once November hits and you start writing, take breaks as you need them.
      Breaks help you clear your head and regroup - so use them. 

3. Ditch the distractions.
    Sure TV has geared up with their fall line up, but record & watch those shows later.
    Social Media is another time suck - albeit a fun one.  Just monitor time spent on it.
     Clean up or take care of projects in October before NaNo so that you don't have clutter
      or half finished work staring at you while you write. 

4.  Just write. 

5. Above all . . . have fun! 


   
                                                                 Happy Writing!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Self-Publishing — Is It Right for You?


"Are you going to self-publish?" "Did you know you can put your book on Amazon and sell it?" "Why are you wasting time trying to get an agent if you can just do it yourself?"

If you're pursuing traditional publication and you aren't a runaway success story, you've probably had well-meaning friends and relatives ask you about self-publishing (I know I have!). It can sometimes be tough to explain your reasoning when it's taking years to make forward progress.

One very good reason? Self-publishing the right way, to give yourself the best chance of success, is expensive. Author Susanne Dunlap published a blog post this week that breaks down the costs, including cover design, editing, and social media marketing.

Distribution can be an issue, too. If you've always dreamed of seeing your work in the checkout line at Target or at the Scholastic Book Fair, you'll have a much better shot if you publish traditionally.

Of course, the decision between self and traditional publishing is largely dependent on your goals. Do you want to make a career out of writing, or are you happy if it's something you do on the side around your day job? Do you enjoy and/or are you good at marketing yourself? (It's important to note, though, that traditional publishers expect their authors to carry a good chunk of the marketing load themselves these days too.)

Here are some good resources for researching the pros and cons of self-publishing:

Writer's Digest — The Pros and Cons of Self Publishing (& Traditional Publishing)

NY Book Editors — TRADITIONAL OR SELF-PUBLISH: WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU?

Business Know-How — Advantages and Disadvantages of Self-Publishing

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Marketing Magic

Whether you love Disney or hate Disney, you have to admit, Disney has the magic recipe for success.  Why?  Marketing!  So what can we writers take from Disney's success?  Here just a few of the secrets to success.

Branding
Use Social Media
Keep messages short
Connect with the audience so that they can truly have a wonderful experience
Pay attention to details
Have a theme

So here's to Disney.

 Not so sure it is the happiest place on earth (what with the long lines, not so yummy food, and sometimes irritable staff), but it certainly is magical (the cleanliness, the artwork, and the attention to detail).



And here's to you.

May all your marketing dreams come true!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Writer's Resource: #MSWL

Yesterday was a #MSWL day on Twitter! Whether you're a seasoned Twitter-user or terrified to even poke your head in, this is an incredibly useful tool for writers who are seeking agents. Here's a quick primer.

#MSWL stands for Manuscript Wishlist. Agent Jessica Sinsheimer conceived this several years ago as a way to connect agents who wanted to see specific things in their inboxes with writers who could provide them.

When an event is scheduled, agents (and sometimes editors, but mostly agents) tweet things they're interested in seeing—say, YA sci-fi with aliens or adult romantic suspense—and because they include the hashtag, it's all collected into an easily searchable list. Writers can get as specific as they want with their searches. Use twitter.com or your favorite third-party Twitter app, like TweetDeck or HootSuite and type "#MSWL" and your keywords into the search.

A few cautions:
-This event has been running since 2013, so be sure to check the dates on any matches you find before you submit your work. Agents usually aren't looking for the same things they were a few years ago.

-Anyone can post on the #MSWL hashtag, so you should always do your research before you send a query and make sure they're someone you'd want to work with.

-Don't ever tweet a pitch for your book using the #MSWL hashtag. It's reserved for agents and other industry professionals, so it's a major faux pas to blunder in as a writer looking for representation. If you need to ask a question to clarify someone's MSWL tweet, that's fine—just do a direct reply and don't use the hashtag, and that way it won't show up in searches.

If you think this #MSWL thing is pretty cool, check out the website! Manuscriptwishlist.com is a huge repository of agent information and should be a writer gearing up to query's first stop.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Storms

As of our last posting on Wednesday, August 23rd, we haven't had much time to sit and think.  See, on Friday, August 25th, Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast and with it, our lives turned upside down. First of, let us say that we (along with our loved ones) are just fine, but we were among the lucky few.  We are not even going to touch on those feelings because this is not the time nor place, and we are still at a loss of words.







 One thing keeps haunting us though and that is our last post.  In that post, we advised against writing about storms in the first ten pages of your manuscript.  Now we are not so sure.  Since the hurricane, social media has exploded with the most beautiful writing we have ever seen and it all centers around this horrific storm.












Thus we recant our previous statement and say just write - even if it is about storms - just write.  And remember to get out there and live.  Above all . . . keep it real.  The world really is an amazing and beautiful place!





Thursday, August 31, 2017

Author Jessica Kapp Shares Her Inspiring Path to Publication + a Giveaway!

Today I'm excited to welcome BODY PARTS author Jessica Kapp to Thinking to Inking, where she shares her inspiring path to publication (spoiler alert: never give up!)  Don't forget to scroll to the bottom of the post for a chance to win an Amazon Giftcard and an autographed bookmark!



It took me two long years to finish my first novel, and I didn’t do anything with it. It was a hot mess—still is—but I learned I could complete a novel, and that prompted me to start book number two. My second attempt went much faster, and within a few months I was ready to polish.

Sadly, I finished revising it right when agents and publishers were saturated with similar books in my genre. Query after query I got the same reply: I can’t sell this in today’s crowded market. Determined to find a home for my manuscript, I went to the Pacific Northwest Writers Association conference and pitched it to agents.

I caught the excitement of an agent who said she loved my energy and, thank goodness, the pitch. She requested my full manuscript and I practically floated home thinking, ‘This is it. I’m on my way.’

That agent emailed me throughout her read, but there were a handful of areas that needed to be fixed. So, instead of offering me representation, she asked me to revise and resubmit. A week or so later, she sent me her notes. I jumped in headfirst and spent night after night perfecting my novel, incorporating all the elements she suggested. It was stronger and better than ever.

I sent it off and waited for her quick reply.

Weeks went by. Then months.

I wrote another novel.

I finished that novel

I polished that novel.

And when I was ready to send that new manuscript into the world, I nudged the agent to let her know I’d completed BODY PARTS.

That prompted her to finish reading the revised manuscript as well as my new one. Around that the same time, I entered Pitch Madness, and while I didn’t get in, I received an encouraging message from one of the slush readers who mentioned I came really close to getting in. She insisted I send queries into the Agent World, so I drafted a few and, with a shaky hand, hit send.

The responses came back slow at first, then two full requests came within hours of each other. A week later, an agent requested my manuscript 12 MINUTES after I queried her (cue the freakout session).

Despite the good news, rejections trickled in. The agent sitting on my old manuscript sent me a rejection. BODY PARTS still needed a home.

One of my CPs convinced me to participate in #RTSlap, a Twitter pitch event I hadn’t planned on entering. I was full of coffee and optimism, so I sent one pitch out into the Twitterverse and called it good. Later that night, I checked my account and saw an agent had favorited my tweet. Eureka! That agent was Whitley Abell, and she offered me representation shortly after I sent her the full manuscript.

We polished the manuscript and went out on submission on my birthday. It was a nice way to celebrate, but the publishing world moves at the speed of molasses sliding uphill. So we waited and waited.

Finally, on my way to pick up my kids from school, I saw that beautiful envelope icon pop up on my phone. I pulled over as soon as I could and clicked on it. The subject of the email read: OFFER RECEIVED.

My book was going to be published.

I remember crying as I dialed my husband. I remember blubbering something incoherent.

And I remember getting the first good night’s sleep in months.

About Body Parts:

Body Parts by Jessica Kapp
Publication Date: August 15, 2017
Publisher: Diversion Publishing

People would kill for her body.

Raised in an elite foster center off the California coast, sixteen-year-old Tabitha’s been sculpted into a world-class athlete. Her trainers have told her she’ll need to be in top physical condition to be matched with a loving family, even though personal health has taken a backseat outside the training facility. While Tabitha swims laps and shaves seconds off her mile time, hoping to find a permanent home, the rest of the community takes pills produced by pharmaceutical giant PharmPerfect to erase their wrinkles, grow hair, and develop superhuman strength.

When Tabitha’s finally paired, instead of being taken to meet her new parents, she wakes up immobile on a hospital bed. Moments before she’s sliced open, a group of renegade teenagers rescues her, and she learns the real reason for her perfect health: PharmPerfect is using her foster program as a replacement factory for their pill-addicted clients’ failing organs. And her friends from the center, the only family she’s ever known, are next in line to be harvested.


Determined to save them, Tabitha joins forces with her rescuers, led by moody and mysterious Gavin Stiles. As they race to infiltrate the hospital and uncover the rest of PharmPerfect’s secrets, though, Tabitha finds herself with more questions than answers. Will trusting the enigmatic group of rebels lead her back to the slaughterhouse?


About The Author:

Jessica Kapp enjoys writing Young Adult Contemporary and Speculative Fiction. Story ideas often strike at inopportune times, and she’s been known to text herself reminders from under the covers.

She lives on a small farm in Washington with far too many goats and an occasional cow.



Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Working with Deadlines

Writer's Clock
This summer has been by far one of the busiest summers I've ever experienced. Between a new job with a boss that recently left, MFA course work deadlines, family visits and contracts to complete, finding time to do everything kept me up many a night. 

But that is life in general. Who's life isn't busy? Writers though, have to make time for reading and writing on top of our daily routines. 

I don't have a lot of advice unfortunately on time management. 

I recently submitted my first MFA packet and paid work deliverables for August. I thought I had some room to breath but September is proving to be much of the same. 

In terms of writing, I have four weeks to deliver my next packet (which consists of two critical essays, thirty pages of creative material and a cover letter). 

So what have I learned?

I've learned that even with everything going on in your life, you have to make time to read and write. 

WRITE AND READ WHENEVER YOU GET A CHANCE! 

Whether it's for half an hour or a four hour stint. You need to insert that "to do" in there always

Some people are lucky and have the luxury of reading and writing for a certain amount of time a day, but for those of us who don't, it important to remain consistent in our inconsistency. Look for those minutes and hours and keep plugging at it! You can do it!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Things to Avoid in First Ten Pages

When it comes to publishing those first ten pages, here's a list of things to avoid when editing. 

Spelling and grammar mistakes
Too much description and/or backstory
Flashbacks
Confusing plot or timeline
No main character and/or haven't made us care about the character yet
Personal Introductions such as "My name is . . ."
Dreams
Mornings
First days
Funerals
Bad weather

Of course, the list is just an opinion shared by several in the industry at the moment. The tide can always turn around.  Just write and give us your best.  Good and interesting writing is really the ultimate goal.  


Friday, August 11, 2017

Author Aden Polydoros shares his PROJECT PANDORA writing process + a chance to win an AMZN gift card and prize pack!

Today, author Aden Polydoros joins us to talk about his writing process for Project Pandora and how he went from the seed of an idea to a ready-to-be-published book. 

Please give Aden a warm Thinking to Inking welcome, and make sure to scroll to the bottom of the post for a chance to win a Project Pandora prize pack + an Amazon giftcard!



 When I began working on this novel, I did not know what it would be about. I had a vague idea that it would involve brainwashing. I had an image in my head of a boy waking up in a house that wasn’t his own, with a gun in his hand. That was about it. It wasn’t like this incredible revelation where I knew exactly what I was going to write, how the story was going to end, or even who the main characters were. I was just curious to find out where Tyler would end up, and as soon as I finished his chapter, I began working on one from the POV of another character.

Here’s the thing about my writing process. I don’t make outlines before I begin writing. I’ll outline the setting for a particular scene, but I don’t outline the plot. I’ll write down ideas I have at the top of the manuscript, or maybe jolt down a note about where this story might go, but that’s about it. I’m a total pantser because that’s what works for me. If I have to write off an outline, all of a sudden, the writing process begins feeling restrictive. On the upside, I end up surprising myself halfway through the story when the plot does a complete 180. On the downside, I usually have the delete some of my writing.

I don’t write in chronological order either. I may have a scene in my head that I have to get down, and that’s the one I’ll be working on, even if it’s at the end of the book and I’ve only completed the first five chapters. In the first draft, I’ll have up to seventy scenes anywhere from 100 to 3000 words long, which I’ll eventually rearrange into a cohesive story.

I decided to write 1,000 words a day. I had tried NaNoWriMo before and had failed to fulfill the 1,500 word-a-day goal, so 1,000 words seemed like a nice, doable number. Of course, there were some days when I wrote less. There were days when I wrote nothing at all and felt so frustrated with the book, I wanted to throw my laptop into a dumpster. As appealing as that thought was, I forced myself to keep writing.

After several months, I finished the first draft of my manuscript. It was 60,000 words long, and what I could best describe as a “hot mess.” I allowed it to sit for a couple weeks as I began work on a different story, then began revisions.

Before I even started revising the story, I printed it out and read through it. I made notes of things that needed to be changed, areas where the writing was weak or too telly, and scenes I didn’t like. I cut out 8,000 more words, then added another 13,000, bringing the total word count to 65,000.

That wasn’t the end of it. Once I signed a deal with Entangled Teen and began editor-advised edits, I became immersed in several more rounds of revisions. Having an editing letter makes the revision process easier because I know what I need to work on, but at the same time, it’s also more difficult because I have to make specific changes that I might not agree 100% with. I tend to approach the editing process the same way in either case; I sit down, I read through the manuscript and note places where I can make revisions, and then I work on them. I use the Track Changes and Add Comment features in Word to make notes to myself and compare different versions of the same sentence. I made a goal to revise one chapter a day and write 1,000 words, and over the course of a month, added another 40,000 to the novel’s word count. It’s just as difficult to stay motivated during the revision process as it is during the initial writing process, but what kept me going was imagining the fanart that people might eventually do of my characters. I know that sounds silly, but I love looking at fanart for my favorite shows and books, and the thought that someone might actually want to draw my characters makes me smile.

Thanks so much for joining us Aden!  Can't wait to get my hands on Project Pandora!

About Project Pandora:
Project Pandora (Assassin Fall #1)
by Aden Polydoros
Publication Date:  August 1, 2017
Publisher:  Entangled Teen

Tyler Bennett trusts no one. Just another foster kid bounced from home to home, he’s learned that lesson the hard way. Cue world’s tiniest violin. But when strange things start happening—waking up with bloody knuckles and no memory of the night before or the burner phone he can’t let out of his sight— Tyler starts to wonder if he can even trust himself.

Even stranger, the girl he’s falling for has a burner phone just like his. Finding out what’s really happening only leads to more questions…questions that could get them both killed. It’s not like someone’s kidnapping teens lost in the system and brainwashing them to be assassins or anything, right? And what happens to rogue assets who defy control?

In a race against the clock, they’ll have to uncover the truth behind Project Pandora and take it down—before they’re reactivated. Good thing the program spent millions training them to kick ass...



About Aden Polydoros

Aden Polydoros grew up in Long Grove, Illinois, the youngest of three children. Aden’s family
moved to Arizona when he was in second grade. As a kid, he spent much of his time exploring the desert near his home. When he wasn’t searching for snakes and lizards, he was raiding the bookshelves of the local library. As a teenager, Aden decided that he wanted to be a writer. He spent his free time writing short stories. He was encouraged by his English teacher to try his hand at writing a novel, which inspired him to begin PROJECT PANDORA. The YA thriller is set for publication with Entangled Publishing in Summer of 2017. He is represented by Mallory Brown of Triada US.


Giveaway!
 Project Pandora Prize Pack (US) or a $10 Amazon Gift card (INT)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Writer's Resource: Janet Reid's Blog

I may have posted about this before—after posting here for more than five years(!), it's hard to remember everything—but if I have, it's well worth repeating.

Agent Janet Reid's blog is one of top ten favorite writer's resources. She dishes out fabulous and free advice to writers at all stages of the publishing process. Recent topics include everything from general query advice, what to do when your agent quits and the other agents at the agency don't want to represent you, crowdfunding your novel, and ghostwriting. She is opinionated and funny, and her genuine care for writers shows through in every post.

The blog also hosts periodic short writing contests. These are a lot of fun and can be a great way to hone your short-form writing skills or just improve your ability to say a lot without using many words. (There are usually bookish prizes!)

Don't let Ms. Reid's alternate personality as the (also extremely helpful!) Query Shark scare you off. I had the opportunity to meet her in person last year at a writer's conference, and I can tell you that she's just as straightforward and utterly helpful in person as she is on her blog.

Oh, and if you're looking for a writing community, check out the comments on each post. There's a whole group of regulars who follow each others' efforts and add funny and interesting dialogue to the posts. Read along for a while and then jump in if you feel so inclined—they're a super-friendly group of people!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Editing Your Scenes

When it comes time to reviewing your scenes, answer the following questions to help tighten your writing.

1. Did you use your five senses? Or at least some?
2. How much showing and how much telling did you use?
3. What needs to happen in the scene?
4. How's the pacing?  Too fast?  Too slow?  Just right?
5. Is the scene necessary to the story?
6. What's the most surprising thing that could happen in this scene?

Since I am more of a panster writer, these questions keep me in check.  I also find them useful to give Beta Readers.

Happy Writing!


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Writer's Resource: Idea Generators

I'm starting a new manuscript in the near future, which means I'm deep in the idea generation phase. I used to get seduced by a shiny new idea and jump in without thinking about it too much. This time, I'm making myself come up with twenty(!) story ideas before I pick one and dive in. It sounds daunting, but I'm enjoying the challenge.

Although many of my ideas are ones that have been rattling around for a while or are inspired by things in my environment, I'm also utilizing online resources to check a few more off my list. Here are some of the story generators I've found particularly useful.

1. One Stop for Writers Idea Generator (note: you will need to create a free account to view the text on this page)
This is one of my favorite new discoveries. The page is divided into sections, like different character traits, emotional wounds, and plot complications. Each time you click, you'll get a few new choices—not enough to overwhelm you, but sometimes just enough to spark an idea.

2. Random Logline Generator
When you don't want to get too specific, this tool is great. It gives you a quick little logline (for example, the one I just got was "During the 1930s, hitwomen form a cult on the sidewalk"). Some are nonsensical, but it's easy enough to push the button and get another. And hey... 1930s hitwomen sound kind of intriguing, don't they?

3. YA Character Generator
This one is fun—you input a few details like age and gender, and it spits out a randomly generated character.

Do you have a favorite idea generator?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Word Count

I'm still in school so capping writing is important.  I don't usually have a word count, but I usually have a page limit.  This summer as I write scholarship and college essays, I've encountered my worst limit of all - the word count.  Sure, as a writer, I've faced that but before, but some of these essays want no more than 250 words.  Ugh!  Good news it really has made me focus on my word choices.  Thus my tip this month if you tend to be wordy is to write essays with a 250 cap.  Once you get used to the pain, it is kind of fun!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

To Novel or To Short Story?

Typewriter with words "What's Your Story"


As long as I can remember, my focus has been on writing the great novel. It started with young adult stories, then adult contemporary and psychological thrillers. Every time I came up with an idea, I was filled with the excitement of starting something new. The old stories left unfinished.

I've critiqued other writers who've written short stories and appreciated their efforts but never thought that it was something I wanted to pursue... until now. 

If you're like me and haven't considered writing short stories, here are a few reasons why they might be worth diving into:

1) They are much shorter and thus take less time

I know - it's an obvious one.

2) You can experiment with writing craft

Have a style you're interested in or a craft element (i.e. metaphors, magical realism) you want to play with? A short story allows you to develop these skills without major investment.

3) Beginnings, middles and ends 

Short stories allow you to practice completing a story and seeing it through the entire arc.

4) Opportunities to be published

Novels (usually) take a long time to complete and once complete, you must go through a significant length of time for submission. Because short stories take less time, you have greater opportunities to send them out to literary journals and have them potentially published, thus building your street cred as you continue to pursue your great novel.

5) Sometimes you just need a break

Sometimes, you might be too engrossed in that one great novel. Short stories allow you to stretch and exercise your mind. Think of things in different points of view and examine ideas and characters you might not have thought about. 

Happy Writing!

Monday, July 10, 2017

YA Book Pick: WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI by Sandhya Menon

Once a month, we choose an outstanding YA book to review. We want to spotlight books of interest to aspiring writers, as well as highlight some of our favorite books and authors!

This month's book pick is When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon.

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

First Line: "Dimple couldn't stop smiling." 

This is a good intro to the story, which is, at its core, a romantic comedy. You immediately want to know what's making her smile, right?

Highlights: I'm a rom-com junkie from way back, so I have high expectations for the genre. This book definitely delivered! It managed to be light and funny while tackling some heavier topics (parental expectations vs. following your passion, feminism, first love, etc.). I loved the trope-busting detail that the guy was the one looking for a long-term commitment, not the girl. It's easy to see why this book was a NYT bestseller.

Notes for Writers: This is a great example of a "diverse" book that isn't about diversity—the protagonists happen to be Indian-American, but the themes are universal. One thing I loved, though, was that the author didn't shy away from peppering the story with plenty of interesting details about Indian culture. I was glad I read this book on my Kindle app and could easily click a word or phrase to read more about things that interested me.

A Good Read For: Romantic comedy fans and anyone looking for a light, fun read.

Monday, July 3, 2017

A Little Alliteration Please

I grew up reading Dr. Seuss and of course I loved his stories and his style of writing.  In fact, to this day I love alliteration and have used it many, many times over the years. For me, alliteration is fun and makes me smile.  Unfortunately, the writing world today seems to frown upon the technique which makes me ever so slightly sad.  Why just today, I saw an article that included a list of techniques writers should avoid. Alliteration was at the top of the list.

I can't say that I was shocked since I've read other articles suggesting writers avoid alliteration, but I am still surprised.  I can think of several influential writers (Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Homer, John Donne,etc.) that have used alliteration in their writing. Okay, Okay. Those writers were poets, but even in their prose they used alliteration and effectively.  See, alliteration captures the readers' attention and when read aloud has a musical quality thus writers like to use alliteration to reach out to their readers.

So, my take away. Alliteration isn't all that bad. Just use it to attract readers and use it subtly.  Happy crafting!


Friday, June 23, 2017

Author Ingrid Paulson shares writing advice, details on her latest release WHY I LOATHE STERLING LANE + a Giveaway

I'm excited to have Ingrid Paulson with us today to chat her newest release Why I Loathe Sterling Lane and share some writing advice. Make sure to scroll to the bottom of the post for a chance to win a prize pack!



Thanks so much for coming to Thinking to Inking! We're so excited to have you! Tell us a little bit about Why I Loathe Sterling Lane.
WHY I LOATHE STERLING LANE tells the story of a neurotic girl (Harper) whose world is turned upside down when Sterling Lane transfers into her boarding school and befriends her twin brother. Harper and Sterling immediately engage in a battle of wills that evolves into a battle of wits, and finally culminates in a reluctant partnership to rescue Cole from his own mistakes. (ahem, plus lots of kissing).

Which character do you relate most to?

This is a hard question, as I intentionally made these characters a little bit prickly at first. However, I probably relate a little more to Sterling. He says and does a few things that I wish I was brave enough to do or say. In fact, when I’m in a situation that requires me to be more assertive than I’m comfortable being, I think to myself, what would Sterling do? I usually take it down a notch or two, because let’s face it, fully stepping into Sterling’s shoes could land me in jail. But harnessing his character for a moment helps me square my shoulders and press on in difficult moments.

Was your writing process for Why I Loathe Sterling Lane different from Valkyrie Rising? If so how? Anything that surprised you along the way?
In revising Valkyrie Rising, I spent a lot of time focusing on world building and consistency of magical objects. It was much more story and flow oriented, whereas in revising Sterling Lane, I focused more on character development, and tried to find the balance between Harper being prickly and being outright unlikeable. She is still a challenge to get to know, but the point for me was to present a different sort of narrator.

The cover design for Why I Loathe Sterling Lane is really fun! How much input did you get in the design of your cover and what was that process like?

I’m so glad you love the cover too! Entangled does a fabulous job with covers and always manages to find the right tone to match the story. They did ask if I had an idea of what the cover would look like, and for this one, I really didn’t. I thought there should be people on the cover and some way to convey the tension between them, but I wasn’t sure how something like that would be executed. Fortunately, there are professionals who knew exactly how to handle it.

Are you a write-one-thing-at-a-time author, or do you typically juggle multiple projects at once? How do you stay focused?

I’m a write-one-thing-at-a-time author. I tend to really immerse myself in the characters, which makes it hard to switch back and forth. However, I have had to revise one project while writing another, and I seem to be able to do that. But I can’t imagine trying to keep multiple new ideas straight at the same time! I’d feel like I was cheating on my characters!

What advice would you give writers still working to make their publishing dreams a reality?

For me, the biggest struggle was learning to revise and incorporate feedback. After countless hours writing and polishing a novel, it can be hard to hear that something still needs to be changed or isn’t quite working. It’s very easy to get defensive and dismiss the critic because they just don’t get it. Granted, sometimes that will be true, no book is for everyone. However, it’s important to really think feedback through and be unafraid to revise and to step outside of your love for the project and be self-critical. Ultimately that will help your novel be even better!

What are you reading now?


I just finished the latest Sara Maas novel in the Court of Thorns and Roses series. I really enjoyed it!

Congrats on the launch of Why I Loathe Sterling Lane. I can't wait to get my hands on it! And thanks so much for stopping by Thinking to Inking!


About the novel
Why I Loathe Sterling Lane by Ingrid Paulson
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen
  
Per her 537 rules, Harper Campbell keeps her life tidy—academically and socially. But the moment Sterling Lane transfers into her tiny boarding school, her twin brother gets swept up in Sterling’s pranks and schemes and nearly gets expelled. Harper knows it’s Sterling’s fault, and to protect her brother, she vows to take him down. As she exposes his endless school violations, he keeps striking back, framing her for his own infractions. Worst of all, he’s charmed the administration into thinking he’s harmless, and only Harper sees him for the troublemaker he absolutely is.

As she breaks rule after precious rule in her battle of wits against Sterling and tension between them hits a boiling point, she’s horrified to discover that perhaps the two of them aren’t so different. And maybe she doesn't entirely hate him after all. Teaming up with Sterling to save her brother might be the only way to keep from breaking the most important rule—protecting Cole.



Goodreads Google Play | BAM | Chapters | Indies | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks

About the Author
Ingrid Paulson does not, in fact, loathe anyone. Although the snarky sense of humor and verbal barbs
in Why I Loathe Sterling Lane might suggest otherwise (and shock those who think they know her best).

Ingrid lives in San Francisco with her husband and children and enjoys long-distance running, eavesdropping, and watching science documentaries. She has always loved books and writing short stories, but was surprised one day to discover the story she was working on wasn’t so short any more. Valkyrie Rising, a paranormal girl power story was Ingrid’s first novel. Expect another humorous contemporary romance to join the list soon.



Enter for a change to win a Why I Loathe Sterling Lane Prize Pack, including:
* A tote bag
* A mug
* stickers

Monday, June 19, 2017

Writers Block


This is a topic I've run into on my last two WIPs.  In fact, after months of fretting, I finally slapped an ending on one and moved onto the next project.  Yet again I'm faced with how to end the next book.  I've searched and searched for ways of dealing with it and came up with something new I'm going to try.  In www.whynottedit.com/writers-block, I stumbled upon a really fun suggestion.  When stuck writing, I usually skip to the next part,
but since I'm now at the end, I can't do that, but I can use a random sentence generator to get some ideas flowing again.  So that's my helpful tip for the day.  Try out some of plot and sentence generators to help reboot your writing. You may not use the finish product, but it gets you back on track.

Monday, June 12, 2017

YA Book Pick: THE GIRL I USED TO BE

Once a month, we choose an outstanding YA book to review. We want to spotlight books of interest to aspiring writers, as well as highlight some of our favorite books and authors!
This month's Book Pick is THE GIRL I USED TO BE by April Henry.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
When Olivia's mother was killed, everyone suspected her father of murder. But his whereabouts remained a mystery. Fast forward fourteen years. New evidence now proves Olivia's father was actually murdered on the same fateful day her mother died. That means there's a killer still at large. It's up to Olivia to uncover who that may be. But can she do that before the killer tracks her down first?

First Line: "The only sound I can hear is my own panicked breathing."

From just this line, you know that this is going to be a suspenseful book and the main character is going to find herself in some kind of horrible danger. 

I don't always love the technique of starting off with a scene from later in the book and then flashing back, but it's done really well here, with just enough details to make the reader curious.

Highlights: Ms. Henry is local to me and was a faculty member at an SCBWI workshop I attended last weekend, so I picked up several of her books before the event. She is a master of page-turning suspense and cliffhanger chapter endings. I thought I'd guessed who the murderer was—but I was wrong, which always makes me happier than when I'm right!

I enjoyed the law enforcement details of this book and several others I read, so it made sense when the author talked at the workshop about her meticulous research into these areas. She goes out of her way to speak with experts, try out weapons and methods of escape, and take classes relating to her writing.

A Good Read For: Ms. Henry has written many stand-alone books and several series, but I think this one is an excellent introduction to her work for someone who wants to see how to do life-in-danger suspense and mystery for YA.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Which Country Is the Most Literate?

Most writers love reading. So a statistic like "27% of US adults didn't read a single book in the last 12 months" can be really disheartening. This recent Writer's Digest infographic includes this and many more literacy statistics—including the fact that the US is only the 7th most literate country in the world.

What can authors do to improve literacy? Well, the obvious answer is to write a book that everyone wants to read. How many people have you met who said they didn't read after they were done with school, but then they picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, or Twilight, or The Da Vinci Code, and that got them reading again?

Another answer is to remove any judgement associated with reading "fun books," or "books for kids."   I'll never forget a conversation I had with one of my husband's college friends. He told me he used to love to read, and we bonded over our mutual love of Patricia Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Unfortunately, he graduated college with the idea that the only acceptable books were weighty, impressive books of the type he studied in classes. The result was that he'd read only a handful of books in the ten years since.

I find this is incredibly sad. Everyone should be able to read whatever they enjoy, whether that's the Harry Potter series, category romance novels, or the classics (there have to be people out there who actually enjoy the classics, right?). Reading has been proven to improve quality of life. Let's let people read whatever makes them happy.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Character Questionnaire

When writing a story, it is useful to have an outline of your character on paper.  Here's an example of one that I've used before.

Name:                                                                                    Age:                                                                                                        
Height:                                                                                   Weight:

Fitness level:

Eye color:                                                                               Hair color:

Distinguishing Features:

Schooling:                                                                              Background:

Family/Friends:

Talents:

Quirks:                                                                                    Bad Habits:

Pet peeves:

Attributes:

Beliefs:                                                                                    Fears:

Things embarrassed by:

Hobbies/Interests:

Likes:                                                                                      Dislikes:


The list can actually go on and on, but these are the ones I usually answer right away and use to start my writing process.

For a more comprehensive list, pinterest has some good examples or check out books like Marc McCutcheon's Building Believable Characters which includes many useful ways to develop characters.