Monday, 31 January 2011

So You've Written A Novel?

Congratulations. After many long hours, days, weeks, months (sometimes years) of doing this: 

You have turned you bubbling mass of ideas into a book type thing. Okay, a book. 

Now what? 

Obviously you've let it simmer, edited it into submission, and passed it around your critique group/beta readers/people who read your stuff. Those are given. But what about those printed copies?  You know, the red pen of doom scrawled on ones that sit in an unloved pile? 

Fear not. I have some handy uses.

1) Got an annoying door that won't stay open? Use that MS as a literary doorstop. When people trip over it you can tell them it's your book. Instant conversation starter. 

2) Stand on it for extra height when talking to taller people. 

3) Want a unique focal point? Wallpaper. A room covered in your words = priceless.

4) Do your friends/family/co-workers pester you to read your book? Give them a birthday/Christmas treat by wrapping their present in your pages. Not only will it look chic, but they'll get a sneak peak of your writing. Two birds, one MS. 

5) Build a fort. Okay, it may be the first small brick, but the foundations are important. As they say, Rome wasn't built in a day. 

Any more creative uses for that hard copy MS I've missed? 

P.S Got a completed manuscript? It's Mystery Agent contest time over on Operation Awesome tomorrow! We have 50 places available The prize? A full manuscript submission to the Mystery Agent judging the contest. So polish those 25 word MG or YA pitches. 

Friday, 28 January 2011

I Swear I didn't Copy You!

This post over on Sarah LaPolla's blog, Glass Cases, got me thinking. The post title?

You Are Not Original (and that's OK)

We all hope that the WIP is fresh. We want agents to sit up and think, "OMG! I've never seen this before." Except they won't.

Why? Because most plots have been done to a certain extent. Even Shakespeare got inspiration for Romeo & Juliet from The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brooke in 1562 (who was rumoured to have got that idea from someone else).

See, even the master drew from literature around him.

Before we all run and cry, I'm going to say I get it. I do. I'm like every other writer out there. I eat my cookies hoping my WIP is something agents haven't read a variation of before. But to do that I have to put a different spin on it. Make it mine. How?

It could be setting. It could be a plot twist. it doesn't matter as long as it's something that sets it apart.

My music teacher once told me that there are only a certain number of notes you can use. Sooner or later a composer will repeat the melody or phrase of another composition. The thing that makes them different is what they do with it after.

So the next time you get an idea about two teenagers from different sides of the tracks who fall in love, but the odds are against them, don't worry. Don't worry that Romeo & Juliet, Twilight or Wuthering Heights did it before you. Do it, but make it yours.

If it's good enough for Shakespeare, it's good enough for me.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

I'm Across The Universe

OMG! I'm so excited today that I don't think I could even eat a cookie.

Okay, I think I could force one down, but I digress.

Today on Operation Awesome I'm interviewing a NYT bestselling author! Not just any author, but the wonderful Beth Revis.

I'm also giving away 2 copies of her debut novel, Across the Universe.

So hop on over and show Beth some Wednesday love!

Monday, 24 January 2011

You Have 25 Words To Sparkle!

Polish those 25 word pitches folks. On Tuesday the 1st of February, Operation Awesome is launching their first Mystery Agent contest of 2011. 

More details will be released closer to the time. Until then, check out the OA website for our previous MA contests.

Look, we're waiting for you:

Saturday, 22 January 2011

I Have A Guest: Michelle McLean

Today I have the awesome Michelle McLean visiting my little corner of the blogosphere. Michelle's book, Homework helpers: Essays and Term Papers was released on Thursday. 

The hard part is getting to the top of page 1.
— Tom Stoppard

Is there anything worse than staring at a blank screen, knowing you only have a certain amount of time to fill it? Whether you are writing a novel or an essay for school, figuring out where and how to begin can be one of the hardest parts of any project.

One of my main goals with Homework Helpers: Essays and Term Papers is to remove the “deer in the headlights” reaction to writing assignments. You may know all the rules by heart; you might know exactly what you are supposed to include in your paper. Or you may have no clue at all how to begin. Knowing what to do and actually doing it are two entirely different things.

Homework Helpers: Essays and Term Papers actually walks the reader through every step of the essay writing process, from coming up with a topic, to putting the polish on the final draft. Each essay discussed also has full essay examples of the rough draft, edited, and final versions of every type of essay discussed.

With this book, I didn’t want to just give my readers a set of guidelines. I wanted to show them exactly what they needed to do, every step of the way. I break the process down into small, manageable chunks, which turns what could be an overwhelming assignment into something a little easier to handle. Even when it comes to the SAT essay.

And this book isn’t just for students. The processes I use can be applied to any type of writing project. I also include chapters on researching and proofreading and provide fun examples of common mistakes that are useful for anyone who wants to write.

If you’ve ever looked a project in the eye and been too overwhelmed, frustrated, confused, or just plain frightened to continue…this might be just the book for you :)

Michelle McLean is a writer and the Chief Editorial Consultant for PixelMags, LLC. In addition to her non-fiction work, Michelle writes YA historical novels and other children’s books. If she's not editing, reading or chasing her kids, she can usually be found in a quiet corner working on her next book.

Friday, 21 January 2011

It's A Book Baby.

I'm so excited. Why? There's a new book baby in the world.  Yesterday, Michelle McLean (one of my brilliant CPs and fellow Operation Awesome blogger) celebrated the release of her book! 

*flails arms in Muppet fashion* Squeeee! 

Michelle will be stopping by tomorrow to do a guest post for me (so please pop by if you get chance and show her some more love!), but today I wanted to give her a huge shout out. 

May I present the book baby.

Here are the details. 

The newest addition to Career Press’s best-selling Homework Helpers series is a fun, user-friendly guide that takes the confusion out of writing essays and papers for students of all ages. Unlike other books that are so full of technical jargon they confuse more than help, Homework Helpers: Essays and Term Papers uses straightforward language and simple steps to guide students through the essay-writing process.

Homework Helpers: Essays and Term Papers

·  Describes in detailed "plain English" each element and step involved in writing a dozen different types of essays
·  Includes a rough, edited, and final draft sample of each type of essay discussed
·  Explains the necessity of proofreading and citing sources, providing tips and instruction on how to accomplish these tasks
·  Presents step-by-step instructions on how to write a great SAT essay
Students of all ages can find help on writing essays for every major subject in high school or college. Beginners will find guidance on the basics, while those further along in their educational careers can adapt the detailed instructions for more in-depth assignments.

Want to know more? Think this book could help the little essay writer in your life? The book is available at your favourite bookstores, but here are some linkies:

For more info on Michelle, or just to say hi, you can find her here:

Official website: Michelle McLean
Her blog home:
Operation Awesome

And in other news. The awesome Across the Universe by Beth Revis went straight in at number 7 on the NYT bestseller list. Beth will be stopping by Operation Awesome on Wednesday for a little interview. Oh, and there will be 2 copies of AtU up for grabs. Hope you can stop by.

Now I need to go eat a cookie before I faint from excitement.

Happy Friday.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Does It Hurt?

One of my new things this year is to try (note the emphasis on try) to do regular exercise. I eat okay (cookies and chocolate are a food group, right?), but I figure toning the old butt wouldn't hurt, right?

Wrong. When you go from exercising four times a week to, um, not much, your body kind of wants to hit you over the head with hand weights. But we start slow. I mean, I'm not that insane I'd go from 0-60. Once, twice a week is a good base. Then three times. You get the idea.

The point is, it's hard at first. There are moments when your abs are quivering from crunches. Your thighs can't take another climb on the elliptical. But you push through. 

Where am I going with this? 

Practice builds strength. You improve. Learning the moves makes your performance more efficient. That gives better results. It still hurts sometimes, but you can see the benefits. You keep going. 

It's the same for revisions. 

We all want a tight, toned manuscript. It's the aim of revision. We revise until our eyes bleed, shut the manuscript feeling mentally, physically and emotionally drained. We don't want to see the stupid thing again. 

But we go back. Why? Because as much as it can hurt, it works. We work our base strength with plot, strengthen our core with by deleting passive writing. We get our cardio in on line edits. 

After weeks/months of hard work, we sit back and see the benefits. A toned body and a toned MS? I can live with that.

So who's with me?

Friday, 14 January 2011


Time to spread some love. I have a few linkies that I noticed around the blog today.

Amparo talks about having a Deus ex Machina

Michelle tells it like it is: English is a stupid language.

Katrina talks to SCORE author Miranda Kenneally. You can also leave questions in the comments for Miranda to answer.

Jen over at Unedited interviews Shannon McMahon (And be sure to visit Shannon's blog for the awesome Anonymous Critique)

You can pop over and help Katie with synopsis tips.

Or check out Stina's cool links Friday.

Happy Friday.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Will Write For Food.

Deep in revision land is a place I like to call 'the motivation station.' It isn't much, just a small place I like to visit once in a while. You know, after I get over a major wip stretch.

But what can be found in the motivation station? Anything you like. It's kind of like the donkey chasing the carrot on a stick. We see something we want, we keep going till we get it.

But how do you figure out when to use this reward method? I have a few levels.

Level 3: Comfort food. There is nothing like finishing that tricky chapter (or 1k), rewrite, edit session and indulging in a cookie treat.
Level 2: Relaxation. This is when I'm taking a break. You know, when your eyeballs are ready to explode after reading your MS. That time is movie time, sleep, a hot bath, a walk -- whatever you like to do to relax is good.
Level 1: New books/music. Now I know books are something to buy at anytime, but finishing a first draft/major revisions means reward. That reward, for me, is a book or a track off iTunes. This works 2 ways. 1) I get inspiration from the music. 2) Reading a book helps with my own writing.

I love writing, but there's something fun about reaching the end of a stage with something to look forward to. A completed MS is a wonderful thing (and the achievement that comes with it), but I've learnt it's the little things can help push me that little bit further.

How about you? How do you reward yourself for a major writing achievement?

P.S. I'm also over on Operation Awesome today. Feel free to come say hi. :)

Monday, 10 January 2011

I Has Feelings

Over the weekend I was editing my MS and making sure I'd packed enough emotion or, as I like to call them, feewings (sorry, I also watched The Princess Bride. Now I keep thinking of the wedding ceremony!)

Anyway, it made me think how important feelings are in our writing. We need our characters to express emotion so we, as readers, can connect with them. If they don't show me they care, why should I?

We need intense, emotional close-ups to keep us hooked. How do you do that? Don't worry, I know a man who can help: 

Vandermemes from James Van Der Beek

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to convert 'sheer panic' into words for my WIP.

Friday, 7 January 2011


I had this little post on Operation Awesome on Wednesday, but I also wanted to share it with you. 

So it's 2011. 

I'm not one for resolutions. I have the worst time remembering to take vitamins let alone stick to a resolution. And if anyone suggests giving up cookies, cake, or any form of confectionery, I may cry. Who am I kidding? I would cry. :)

But I do like to do one new thing each year. This year I invite you to join me in being extraordinary.

How? By continuing to write.

Each time you put pen to paper, open that word document/Scrivener to begin a new project (or think about a story/plot/main character) you are extraordinary.

Every word you write. Every revision. Each re-write. Every query sent. This makes you extraordinary.

Why are you extraordinary? Because you never give up. We write, we learn. We read, we learn. We query, we learn. Every part of this journey tests, inspires, challenges and frustrates us, but we learn.

We grow.

We do what we love. And by doing what we love, we are extraordinary. 

I don't know about you, but I think that's a great way to spend a year.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Just To Say...

I was going to write about something else today, but that changed when I read the posts dedicated to the  awesome Candace. 

Candace is one of the most funny, kind and generous people on the blogosphere. And while most of us have never met, we are all joined by love and community.

And the blogosphere is the best community in the world!

Some other wonderful people (Jen, Matt, Jessica and Lenny) have expressed their love for her much better than I ever could. I'm only one little voice, but I wanted to add my hugs to the crowd.

We <3 you, Candace.

Team Candyland forever!

Monday, 3 January 2011

List To The Rhythm

Happy New Year!

My awesome cp, Amparo did a post about what she learnt in 2010. Check it out here. So I thought I'd totally steal, I mean, do something similar.

2010 was awesome. Why?

1. I started to blog. The writing community are the most supportive, helpful, amazing group of people in the world. This journey is so much easier with good travelling companions like you.
2. I finished my new wip in October last year. I also rough planned 2 other projects. Those are on the agenda for this year.
3. My crit buddies are awesome.
4. My beta, Renae, is awesome.
5. Starting up Operation Awesome.

There has been lots of other amazing things in 2010, but I'd be listing them for ages. Now it's time to focus on the future.

1. Michelle McLean publishes her first non-fiction book, Homework Helpers: Essays & Term Papers. I can't wait for this. Not only is Michelle a talented writer, but she's also one of my crit buddies. She'll be stopping here on her blog tour soon.
2. The second WriteOnCon.
3. More Operation Awesome Mystery Agent contests. Last year one of the runners up signed with Mandy Hubbard. I hope this year brings more success stories like this.
4. The paperback release of Talli Roland's The Hating Game. If you haven't read the eBook version yet, go get it. if you have, buy it anyway. You NEED a physical copy.
5. New books. There are so many to list, but two I'm excited for are Possession by Elana Johnson, and Across the Universe by Beth Revis.
6. Movies. Harry Potter TDH Part 2. and Breaking Dawn: Part 1 are both released this year. I have a feeling HP will be epic, but Breaking Dawn has me worried. Fingers crossed it follows the trend of the movies getting better as the series goes on.
7. More blogging. I'm looking forward to seeing what the next year has in store for all of us. Fingers crossed for agents and book deals all round.

Is there anything you are looking forward to in 2011?

Sunday, 2 January 2011

No Kiss blogfest

Yay for the 2nd annual No Kiss blog fest, hosted by Frankie Mallis

I do love a good kissing scene, but I love writing almost kissing scenes. I do love to torture my characters romantically. So here is a bit from my previous wip. I've had to adapt it a little bit for length, but the no kiss action is in there.

   “Ava,” he said, voice gruff. “I didn’t say I wouldn’t help you.” His voice softened.
As he edged closer, my heart beat like a Hummingbird’s wings. So loud it was as if the whole world would hear. He brushed my hair behind my ear. My skin sizzled as his index finger traced my cheekbone, his thumb sliding along my jaw line, to my lips. I glanced away, desperate to escape the hypnotizing effect he had over me. 
He caught my chin with the tip of his fingers and reconnected our gaze. His blue eyes locked on mine.
    “I…” The words stuck in my throat, now dry as the Sahara, while he traced the curve of my bottom lip. “I didn’t think-”
   “I cared?” He said. “Of course I care. Why do you think I’ve been watching out for you?”
  “Is that what it was? I thought you were being a pain in my ass.” I shrugged, a mocking smile on the corner of my lips.
    “You really have no idea how I feel about you, do you?” 
How was I supposed to know? This was all new to me. Besides, he’d hardly been obvious in his attentions to me. Maybe if he’d worn a neon sign. But he’d been an ass.
       “I kept trying to talk to you, but it always came out…wrong or you were pre-occupied” he sighed. “Then C.J asked me to look out for you and I saw it as a second chance. Call it my Darcy moment,” he smiled. "I just, I don’t understand what you’re scared of.” 
I was mute. What am I scared of?   
I’d denied my feelings and distanced myself since the day I first met him. Hating him was a better option than caring for him. But everything had changed.  

Jackson leaned forward, his Colgate fresh breath on my skin. 
    “Jackson, I…” The words choked me. “I think we need to stay focused.”

Now I'm off to read some of the other entries. Mwah! 

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year Revision Blog Fest

Happy New Year!

Today is a blog fest entry, hosted by the awesome Katrina.

What I plan to revise: My current wip is nearing the second draft completion stage. *Yay* I want to get this baby revised so I can query, and then devote 100% of my writing time to the new wip. 

The process: I tend to read through my hard copy, make notes and apply to the MS. I also send chunks of chapters to my crit partners. Once they send their notes back, I apply their feedback. Then I send the pages to my awesome beta, Renae. Then it's lather, rinse, repeat. 

How long I expect it to take: I'm hoping to get this revision done by the end of January. 

Easiest part: I pretty much love all the revision process, but my favourite bits are internals, dialogue, world-building and setting. 

Hardest part: My US grammar. I'm brushing up on the rules, but i <3 MY crit partners for their help. I'll admit that I sometimes miss the habit we Brits have for alternating between 'that' and 'which' though. 

When I'll feel done: It is a toss up between when I feel there isn't anything else I can do, or my crit partners/beta feedback is limited to moving around punctuation. ;)

And then I'll repeat the process with the new wip. 

What about your revisions?